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Ascetic Pneumatology from John Cassian to Gregory the Great$
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Thomas L. Humphries, Jr.

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199685035

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199685035.001.0001

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Dialogue of Desire: Gregory’s Ascetic Pneumatology

Dialogue of Desire: Gregory’s Ascetic Pneumatology

(p.156) 7 Dialogue of Desire: Gregory’s Ascetic Pneumatology
Ascetic Pneumatology from John Cassian to Gregory the Great

Thomas L. Humphries

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that Gregory, like Cassian, understands the Holy Spirit as the reformer of thoughts, desires, and affections, as well as the former of virtues. Gregory is also a devoted student of Augustine; he is interested in Augustine’s anthropology and theories of interpretation of Scripture. Gregory modifies some elements of Cassian’s theology (like the eight principal vices and seven deadly sins) in order to make it harmonize with other well-known themes (like the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit), but he preserves the main tenets of Cassian’s ascetic pneumatology. Like Leo, Gregory is also concerned to form lay Christians, though unlike Leo, Gregory was a professed monk. This chapter argues that reformation of desire is a key theme for Gregory (as also for Cassian and Augustine). Correlatively, Gregory’s ascetic pneumatology is focused on the way in which the Holy Spirit engages Christians in a dialogue of desire.

Keywords:   Gregory the Great, ascetic pneumatology, thoughts, desires, virtues, seven gifts of the Holy Spirit

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