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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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The Gift, Reciprocity, and the Word

The Gift, Reciprocity, and the Word

(p.247) 17 The Gift, Reciprocity, and the Word
Gregory of Nyssa, Ancient and (Post)modern

Morwenna Ludlow (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

John Milbank is not interested in an analysis of Cappadocian theology for its own sake. Rather, he is usually more interested in how Gregory fits into the a broader spectrum of Christian writers and to what extent those writers can answer the questions posed by the contemporary context. This chapter shows that although questions of the origin and nature of language do come into Milbank's analysis, his primary interest in Gregory revolves around the more basic questions of theological language — how is it possible to speak of that which is other? — and (especially) ontology — in what way are humans related to that which is other? In order to answer these questions, Milbank appeals to the notion of gift and, in particular, his own notion of gift as ‘purified gift-exchange’. It is argued that Milbank's reading of Gregory is best understood as the discovery (in the sense of an uncovering) of a theology of purified gift-exchange in a pre-modern writer. This background explains his focus on various elements in Gregory's theology (reputation, generation, growth, and embodiment), which he thinks are characterized by a particular notion of reciprocity.

Keywords:   Gregory of Nyssa, Christian writers, language, ontology, purified gift-exchange, John Milbank, reciprocity

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