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Kirchengeschichte: Alte Kirche, Christliche Archäologie


Mühlenberg, Ekkehardus [Ed.]


Gregorii Nysseni Oratio Catechetica. Opera dogmatica minors, pars IV.


Leiden-New York-KölN: Brill 1996. CXXXIX, 112 S. gr.8° = Gregorii Nysseni Opera, III, 4. Lw. hfl. 108.­. ISBN 90-04-10348-1.


Christopher Stead

This fine volume fills an important gap in the Jaeger edition of Gregory. The last comprehensive improvement on the Migne text was made by the British scholar J. H. Srawley, with whom I myself studies, in 1903 (sic.). Using valuable studies by Jaeger, Langerbeck, Lendle and Hörner, Mühlenberg took over Polack’s collations together with Langerbeck’s notes and undertook the new edition in 1982. He is of course an outstandingly good choice, recommended by his seminal study Die Unendlichkeit Gottes bei Gregor von Nyssa, not to mention his earlier Psalmenkommentare aus der Katenenüberlieferung.

As the Preface makes clear (cxxxix) this edition makes a revolutionary advance on all previous work. It includes a description and collation of all previously known mss. and some new ones, all described in a long Conspectus, with a new text and apparatus criticus. There is a full stemma codicum, identifying two main families, each divided into two sub-groups and accompanied by similar sub-groups of little value (see lii-lxv on gF, lxxxvi ff. and cv. ff. on QX).

In value the Oratio is far from being an opus minor. It is the first comprehensive survey of Christian doctrine since Origen’s De Principiis, more broadly conceived than Athanasius’ De Incarnatione, which it rivals in influence. The tone is apologetic, presenting Christianity as a mean between Judaism and Hellenism; a simplistic formula. Gregory uses philosophical commonplaces in support of Christian doctrine, but does not go into details; neither Plato nor Aristotle are mentioned by name. Chrsitian deviations pass almost unnoticed, apart from some reference to Manichaeism.

The edition is based on 59 mss. (ix-x). Srawley recognised and examined and collated 16, and briefly alluded to a further 16 or more, besides 7 of Euthymius Zigabenus containing extensive fragments. Other fragments are found in Theodoret, Leontius of Byzantium, Doctrina Patrum and elsewhere. M. provides a much more thorough survey. He uses new sigla, listed on pp. ix-x. Regularly cited in the text are, of the first family KPCS (Srawley pqd; caret S=Vat. gr. 1907); and of the second, BYLP (in Srawley, f; caret Escor. ‡ III 14; 1; Patm. 46).

The book will be an essential qcquisition for all who are to study the Oratio.