More on Gregory of Nyssa's Letter to the Monk Philip, Anna Silvas

Abstract: For some 1500 years the existence of an otherwise lost letter by Gregory of Nyssa was known from a few Greek fragments. Collaborative work by several scholars over two centuries led eventually to the recovery of a full text of the letter in the early 20th century. In this paper, this letter is revisted, bringing to bear on the Greek and Latin texts a study of the Syriac translation made in the late 7th century by John Maron, founding patriarch of the Maronites. The topic of the letter is Christology: who is Christ, and why does it matter what he is and what he is not? We guage the tenor of Gregory's pre-Chalcedonian Christology and see how skillfully the Greek anthologists and the Syriac translator used this letter as a patristic locus classicus to make their appeal to the Monophysites of the 6th and 7th centuries. Finally, a revised 'edition' of the letter is synthesised in English from the Greek, the Latin and the Syriac.

Bio: Dr Anna Silvas is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. She is currently an Australian Research Fellow at the University of New England, Australia. Her general field of research has been the Cappadocian Fathers, particularly in aspects of the monastic movement in Eastern Asia Minor and Syria in the late 4th century. She is currently working on a critical edition of St Basil's Small Asketikon, and is publishing The Rule of St Basil in Latin and English. Her previous publications include: Macrina the Younger; Philosopher of God (2008), 'In Quest of Basil's Retreat: An Expedition to Ancient Pontus' (2007). Gregory of Nyssa: the Letters (2007), The Asketikon of Basil the Great (2005), and Jutta and Hildegard: The Biographical Sources (1998).