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Gregory of Nyssa, Ancient and (Post)modern$
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Morwenna Ludlow

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199280766

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199280766.001.0001

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Macrina—in Life and in Letters

Macrina—in Life and in Letters

(p.202) 13 Macrina—in Life and in Letters
Gregory of Nyssa, Ancient and (Post)modern

Morwenna Ludlow (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The bond between Gregory of Nyssa an his sister, Macrina, as portrayed in On the Soul and the Resurrection and in The Life of Macrina, has been used by some modern writers as a kind of test to verify whether Gregory's real life attitudes toward women bear out his more theoretical advocacy of equality. Other modern authors have approached these texts more suspiciously — not so much reading in them evidence of Gregory's duplicity or androcentrism, as using them to demonstrate how, even in these apparently intimate pictures of a female life, the woman is a construct and is not allowed to speak for herself. This chapter examines a range of these accounts, beginning with the more straightforward ones, which use the texts as historical evidence for the life of a 4th-century ascetic woman and her relationship with her brother. It discusses the problems of such historical readings and then sets out various alternative and more literary readings.

Keywords:   Gregory of Nyssa, sister, readings, equality, 4th century, ascetic women

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