St. Gregory the Theologian 


Today the Church commemorates St. Gregory the Theologian, Archbishop of Constantinople, one of the few saints honored with the title “Theologian.” One of the Old Testament lessons read at Vespers for his feast is from the Wisdom of Solomon 9:1-6 : 

Therefore I appealed to the Lord and prayed to Him, and said to Him with all my heart: “O God of my ancestors and Lord of mercy, who have made all things by your word, and by your wisdom have formed humankind to have dominion over the creatures you have made, and rule the world in holiness and righteousness, and pronounce judgment in uprightness of soul, 
give me the wisdom that sits by your throne, and do not reject me from among your servants. For I am your servant the son of your serving girl, a man who is weak and short-lived, with little understanding of judgment and laws; for even one who is perfect among human beings will be regarded as nothing without the wisdom that comes from you.  


Many saints valued God’s Wisdom, but not only as an intellectual knowledge, but as Jesus who is the Wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:24) and the Patristic writers in general saw God’s Wisdom as God’s special gift to humanity. So Orthodox theologian John Behr writes: 

This is exactly the kind of wisdom that Origen wants to present, the Wisdom that is Christ himself, whose primary title is the Wisdom of God, for Wisdom is the beginning [arche] of [God’s] ways for his works (Proverbs 8: 22; Princ. 1.2.1-3). And as Origen makes clear in the opening and concluding lines of the Preface, the Christian knowledge he intends to expound as a coherent structure is the teaching of Christ, the Word of God who spoke in Moses and the prophets and also in the apostles. . . .  

‘The light contained in the Law of Moses, but hidden by a veil, shone forth at the sojourn of Jesus, when the veil was taken away and the good things, of which the letter had a shadow, came gradually to be known’ (Princ. 4.1.6). 

Irenaeus makes exactly the same point: Christ was hidden in the Scriptures, which could not be understood until the time when the8292671260_cb77e5facd_w things that they had spoken of had come to fulfillment; the book had been ‘shut up‘ and ‘sealed, until the consummation‘ (cf. Daniel 12:4) and so is full of enigmas and ambiguities; those who read it without possessing the proper explanation only find a myth, for the truth that it contains is only brought to light by the cross of Christ, and only reading it in this way do we find our way into the Wisdom of God and ourselves come to shine with the light as did Moses. . . .  

And so, Origen urges us, using the words of Paul, to ‘[leave] behind the teaching of the first principles of Christ, which are but the elementary principles of knowledge, [and] press on to perfection‘ (ibid.; Hebrews 6:1), so that we might receive the wisdom that Paul says he speaks to the perfect (1 Cor 2:6). He concludes, putting together various passages from Paul: ‘this wisdom will be stamped upon us distinctly, according to the revelation of the mystery… which has kept secret through times eternal, but now made manifest through the prophetic Scriptures and the appearance of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for all ages. Amen.'” (ORIGEN: ON FIRST PRINCIPLES, pp xlviii-xlix) 


‘… and indeed that the Wisdom of God entered into the womb of a woman, to be born an infant and to utter cries like the wailing of infants…’ (Origen, ORIGEN: ON FIRST PRINCIPLES, p 103) 

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