Renouncing the World Yet Leading the Church: The Monk-Bishop in Late Antiquity (excerpts)
From "Renouncing the World Yet Leading the Church: The Monk-Bishop in Late Antiquity", Harvard University Press.
Gregory of Nazianzus: Ascetic Life and Episcopal Office in Tension
Approximately half the oration deals with Basil's ecclesiastical career. In the background lies an implicit and occasional explicit critique of contemporary prelates. Introducing the topic of Basil's priesthood, Gregory reiterates familiar complaints. Church office is becoming the object of ridicule because men uninstructed, inexperienced, and spiritually unprepared for leadership are being promoted to the sacred thrones (73). Villainy and power rather than virtue and worthiness are often the standards for advancement. Basil, however, was exalted to the priestly throne by God. "And in what manner? Not by precipitate advancement, nor by at once cleansing and making him wise, as is the wont of many present candidates for preferment: but bestowing upon him the honour in the due order of spiritual advancement." Similarly, Gregory recounts Βasil's rise through the ecclesiastical ranks: he was first a reader, then a priest, and finally a bishop, "attaining the office neither by stealth nor by violence, instead of seeking for the honour, being sought for by it, and receiving it not as a human favour, but as from God"(74). Basil's temporary retirement in Pontus during his priesthood is described as "philosophical and wonderful," yet his return to Caesarea in her time of distress was "even more admirable." Though he served thenceforth as his bishop's assistant, he actually governed the church from his position of lower rank, being better prepared for such leadership than his predecessor (75). Among the activities of his priesthood Gregory highlights his personal care for the victims of famine, comparing Basil's provision of food for the hungry with his nourishment of souls with the Word of God (76).
Gregory's representation of Basil's episcopate continues his polemic against bad bishops. Though envious Cappadocian prelates attempted to prevent Basil's ascent to the Episcopal throne, God's intentions were not thwarted. Nor did Basil's promotion compromise his calling or character in any way. He continued to live consistently with his own philosophy, making constant progress in virtue." In his efforts to bring peace and unity to the church he is said to have influenced principally by his conduct rather than by argument" (78). In Basil's interaction with the emperor and the prefect Modestus, Gregory ascribes to the bishop miraculous powers of healing. Yet in confrontations with enemies and persecutors of the church Basil's moral character and asceticism are paramount. He is described as a man "free from passion, whom the angels revere, at whom women do not venture even to look"; as a "martyr without bloodshed"; as a prelate whose reputation far outshone that of his colleagues (79). Concerning the partition of Cappadocia, Gregory affirms that Basil turned this evil situation to good by multiplying the number of bishops to care for the churches. In this context he refers to his own forced consecration, and even his praise of the bishop cannot hide his disappointment at a friend's callousness and disloyalty. Nevertheless, he ends up excusing Basil because he had greater concern for his duty to God than for any claims of friendship (80).
Following his chronological account of Basil's career, the orator breaks into a eulogy of Basil's virtues. While he does not neglect the Cappadocian's intellectual and theological exploits (81), it becomes especially clear in this section of the oration that the bishop was a monk who joined to his exercise of Episcopal authority a wholehearted commitment to ascetic ideals. Gregory extols Basil's life of poverty and concomitant avoidance of publicity, saying that he was "poor and unkempt, yet without ostentation." He praises his temperance with regard to all physical needs and desires, pointing to "his single coat and well worn cloak, and his bed on the bare ground, his vigils, his unwashedness ... and his most sweet food and relish, bread and salt"(82). In contrast to those leaders concerned only for their own earthly comforts, the Cappadocian consistently exemplified a life of charity in practical care for the weak, the poor, and the sick (83).
We learn also of Basil's love of virginity and his efforts to influence others to embrace the monastic life. He reconciled the contemplative and active vocations reflecting Gregory's personal quest for a via media between the two. Specifically, the bishop managed to unify two streams of the monastic movement that were occasionally at odds. Both solitary and communal life (tou eremikou biou kai tou migados) has benefits and pitfalls, Gregory explains, but Basil "brought them together and united them, in order that the contemplative spirit might not be cut off from society, nor the active life be uninfluenced by the contemplative"(84). Here as elsewhere in the oration Basil's life and ideals embody the perfect mixture of philosophia praktike and philosophia theoretike. These Aristotelian terms are used by both Nyssan and Nazianzen to denote different types of monastic life (85), but in the person of Basil they are perfectly combined. Having rejected the values and practices of the world, the monk-turned bishop nonetheless served the world in active deeds of love and care.
Using almost the same words he employed to condemn unworthy bishops in Oration 42, Gregory insists that Basil was innocent of the many vices of his colleagues. Rather, he says, the pursuit of virtue dominated his career. In a long series of synkriseis toward the end of the oration Gregory compares Basil with a host of biblical heroes whom he equalled or even surpassed. Alongside his theological prowess, which receives more attention here than in Nyssan's treatment of Basil, monastic ideals and virtues are prominent. Comparing him with Jacob, for example,
Gregory describes Basil's ladder, "which he ascended by successive steps toward virtue." Similarly he rivalled John the Baptist in ascetic discipline (86). Nazianzen caps off this list of comparisons with a note about the bishop's admirers. So great was Basil's virtue that some, hoping to gain notoriety sought to imitate even his physical defects. Finally in his last moments of life, the bishop is said to have ordained to the priesthood some of his "most excellent servants" so that the church might not be deprived of his disciples (87). The concluding account of the Cappadocian's death and funeral emphasizes once again his roles as mediator and model for monks, clergy, and laity alike.
In light of the foregoing analysis, Gregory's purpose in the funeral oration must have encompassed more than a desire simply to honour Basil, to preach orthodox doctrine, to defend his relations with his friend, or to create a harmonious synthesis of classical and Christian cultural traditions (88). All these motives entered into his composition of the speech, but they do not in themselves do justice to the themes and emphases examined above. We must not lose sight of the broader context of the oration. Gregory had recently left Constantinople embittered by his personal battles with prelates, disgusted by the low state of Episcopal leadership, and particularly incensed by the choice of his own successor. This scenario certainly lies in the background of his portrayal of Basil's life and ecclesiastical career as a model for the episcopate.
Gregory Nazianzen's notion of spirituality, particularly his portrayal of the progress of Basil's life, has much in common with the traditional Platonic and Origenistic pattern of ascent. Nyssan's notion of perfection ends in ceaseless striving and, as we have seen, virtue is as much the purpose as the precondition of contemplation. Nazianzen expresses the goal of the spiritual life in terms of illumination or the vision of God (89). Α Platonic bent in his thought may help to explain the constant vacillation in his own life. Gregory viewed the episcopate as a position of prime importance, which only the best and most philosophical of men were equipped to fill. The true philosopher or monk had progressed through a pathway of ascetic practices and moral purification to intellectual enlightenment and contemplative union with God-necessary preparation for a Christian leader, yet difficult to reconcile with the active duties of a bishop. Gregory tried to bridge a seeming impasse by advocating the mixed life as the highest ideal. It is such a life that he found embodied in men like Basil and Athanasius. But in the back of his mind lay the deeply ingrained Platonic ideal of the philosopher, largely removed from the affairs of the world. Combined with a natural inclination to a life of contemplative withdrawal, this image provided a constant source of angst whenever he personally faced the burden of ecclesiastical duties.
Whether or not Nazianzen's treatment of Basil is more "traditional" or "Platonic" than that of Nyssan's, as has been suggested, he arrived at a similar conclusion. The episcopate needed more men like Basil-theologically orthodox, experienced in the ascetic life, but willing to sacrifice contemplative solitude to serve the church. Gregory Nazianzen places greater emphasis on Basil's education or intellectual formation, his paideusis. As noted above, he is quick to criticize Christians who belittled or scorned this quality. Bishops could and did function with limited education, he suggests, but such leaders would be only mediocre (90). Upholding
Basil as an example, he stresses the importance of learning in the bishop's struggles for the cause of orthodoxy. Though Gregory of Nyssa never dismissed the value of paideusis for a leader in the church, he emphasizes the abandonment of pagan education as the first major stage in the career of a model bishop. Both men, however, insist on lengthy training in asceticism and contemplation as the proper preparation for Episcopal ministry. Moreover, in addition to the general praise of Basil's attributes that makes up the large part of Nazianzen's oration, a long section toward the end of the speech develops more systematically his particular virtues of poverty (aktesia), self-control (enkrateia), virginity (parthenia), and support of the poor (ptochotrophia)[91[. These are not just moral but characteristically philosophic and monastic virtues. Indeed the qualities both orators praised and sought in bishops were supremely those of the monk.
Gregory's continuing preoccupation, if not near obsession, with the character and functions of bishops at the time he composed Oration 43 is attested by a poem dating from the same period, soon after his departure from Constantinople and while the ecumenical council was still in session. De se ipso et de episcopis evinces Nazianzen's state of mind during this turbulent time. It also reveals his conviction that bishops were best chosen from among monks, though it is more the eremitic holy man than the Basilian cenobite that Gregory has in view. To be sure, it is sometimes difficult to separate his ascetic from his aristocratic ideals of leadership; while he advocates contemplative withdrawal, a feature of monastic life, he also expresses disdain for those from the lower classes -farmers, labourers, and the like- who had apparently risen to the office of bishop. His statement that a bishop should be "from among the best" clearly included social as well as spiritual credentials (92). In general, the poem bemoans the deplorable state of the episcopate, a characteristic theme in Nazianzen's writings. Bishops are described as hastily chosen, untrained, and often the very worst of men. While some protest that saintly men do not make good leaders because they have no aptitude for affairs, Gregory demonstrates the folly of this objection, concluding, "a man's character is the most persuasive thing of all"(93). Likewise the bishop's personal example is more important than his education or eloquence in teaching. Even proper hierarchical ascent, for which Gregory expresses concern in other writings, pales into insignificance beside the importance of the bishop's sanctity. In fact, the very grace of Episcopal ordination is called into question when conferred on impure or evil men (94).
Who, then, is the shepherd worthy of his calling? Gregory vividly depicts the bishop of his choice:
You have this man who sleeps on the ground and is all befouled with dust. He has worn his body away keeping vigils, with psalmody, with standing night and day. He has drawn his mind away from all crassness toward the heights ... He has washed away all the stains with rivers of tears, and any tiny speck he retained of that mud of life which spatters even the wise. He bears the noble seal of flesh that has been worn by prayers and countless hardships ... In cold, in hunger, and in wretched garments, he yearns to put on the clothing that is imperishable. With insufficient food he does violence to the belly's pride ... Once he was a rich man, but now he is poor ... From cities, from the plaudits of the mob, from the whirl in which all public life is tossed, he is a fugitive. His fair soul he has moulded towards God, and in his absolute solitude partakes of heavenly things only ... To him the Spirit has disclosed the deeper meaning of the Holy Writ, uncovering all that is sealed to the understanding of the multitudes (95).
An ascetic and contemplative life had clearly become Nazianzen's ideal for Episcopal office by the later years of his life. Similarly, in reflections on his own Episcopal career he describes his ministry in terms that recall the life of a monk. As bishop in Constantinople, he writes, he determined to fulfil the commandments "by ministering to the poor, exercising hospitality, tending the sick, persevering in psalmody, prayer, groaning, mortifications of the senses, of impulse of laughter, control of the tongue, lulling the flesh by the power of the spirit"(96). Several later letters reveal his continued dissatisfaction with the ongoing rivalry and low level of spirituality among bishops (97). Throughout his career Gregory struggled to embody the monk-bishop ideal he so admired in others. He alternately resisted and succumbed to the ecclesiastical call on repeated occasions (98). Despite personal ambitions and familial expectations, he often intimates that his sensitive, contemplative spirit made it difficult for him to realize his via media. For examples of the balanced contemplative and active life, Gregory looked back to biblical figures like Moses and the apostle Paul. In his own generation he found a model primarily in Basil of Caesarea. But we should not too hastily dismiss Nazianen's own career, as he seems to do in his autobiographical reflections. Recent scholarship has shown that Gregory was quite purposeful in shaping his identity as a bishop and theologian and that he was much more of a theoretician of Episcopal office than has hitherto been recognized. Thus, in repeatedly stressing the conflict between contemplative and active life, between ascetic ideals and Episcopal office, he was perhaps suggesting that for the model bishop this was a necessary, indeed a healthy tension.
Like his colleagues Basil and Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory Nazianzen was deeply concerned about Episcopal leadership in the Christian East. He was particularly acrimonious in condemning the alleged evils of contemporary bishops. It would be easy to reduce his acerbic descriptions to the realm of rhetoric, inflamed by a mercurial temperament; and certainly Gregory's penchant for exaggeration should not be overlooked. But most bishops, even those he greatly admired, had treated him badly. Moreover, we must not forget the seismic shift that had taken place since Constantine in the status of bishops and its ambivalent consequences for church office as a whole. As a result, Gregory and his Cappadocian confreres addressed the subject of the episcopate from the viewpoint of crisis, both theological and moral. Nazianzen's starting point was generally the contemporary situation, and he drew heavily from personal experience of the decadence of the clergy as a counterpoint to his Episcopal ideal. This may account for the fact that he says very little about the liturgical function of the priest or bishop. We find no detailed discussion of the proper administration of baptism or the role of the priest in celebrating the Eucharist. Perhaps Gregory viewed these as accessory functions, as part of the exercise or outward manifestation of true spiritual authority that he found so lacking among bishops of his day (99). In light of this larger concern, proper preparation and character were the most important requirements for church leaders, and for these qualities Gregory looked primarily to the example of the monk. It is not surprising, therefore, that he showed the greatest satisfaction with the election of his cousin Eulalios as his replacement in Nazianzus in 383, for the man was experienced in ministry, noted for virtue, and committed to the monastic life (100).
Nazianzen was not directly involved in the selection of bishops to the same extent as Basil or even Gregory of Nyssa. Nevertheless, his writings attest to his influence in propagating the ideal of a monastic episcopate. Despite his conflicts with fellow bishops, in his own lifetime Gregory of Nazianzus became well known and much revered for his orthodox teaching and for his eloquent sermons and poems. He was a public figure who intended his letters to be read by a larger audience (101). Scholiasts from at least the sixth century onward commented on his writings, primarily on his orations but also on his poetry. In fact Gregory is the most frequently cited and commentated church writer in the entire corpus of Byzantine ecclesiastical literature. His speeches were read in churches and used as models in schools of rhetoric. Parts of them may even have been learned by heart (102). As we have seen, Gregory repeatedly addressed the problem of ecclesiastical abuses and the consequent need for a new breed of leader in the church. The popularity of his writings is particularly significant in light of this preoccupation with the subject of church office. He who was dubbed the Theologian devoted nearly as much writing to this theme as he did to the trinitarian problem (103).
Among the orations that deal most extensively with the theme of ecclesiastical leadership, we have already referred to the role of Oration 2 as a model for Chrysostom's treatise on the priesthood. Gregory also influenced Jerome's linkage of the priesthood with asceticism, and Gregory the Great would draw deeply from Nazianzen in his own Pastoral Rule (104). Oration 43, "probably the greatest piece of Greek rhetoric since the death of Demosthenes," certainly contributed to emerging ideals of Episcopal leadership (105). In this speech Gregory claims that Basil's life inspired many imitators. His own portrayal of the Cappadocian in the funeral oration would do the same for later generations. At least in the sixth century Gregory's panegyric of Basil was still being read in churches (106). Byzantine hagiography, particularly lives of bishops, abounds with citations and unacknowledged borrowings from this famous oration. Finally iconographic representations of Basil draw primarily from Nazianzen's descriptions (107).
The ideal of ecclesiastical leadership that emerges in Gregory's writings is that of Episcopal authority empowered and enhanced by ascetic virtues. We have seen that Nazianzen himself struggled to combine these variant modes of life in the course of his own career. Indeed his own life may provide the clearest example of some of the tensions inherent in this paradigm of authority in the church. Yet his descriptions of the Episcopal ideal or of particular praiseworthy leaders show no such ambivalence. Lifestyles once considered incompatible are made to coalesce harmoniously in the monk-bishop of Caesarea, who would set the tone for upcoming generations of ecclesiastical leaders. Nazianzen's model may well have derived from a Greco-Roman political ideal that he Christianised and adapted to the leader in the church. In the Platonic tradition, the ruler-philosopher prepared himself for public service through periods of withdrawal characterized by otium or apragmon (108). Notwithstanding these Hellenic roots, future readers of Gregory's works would see in his ideal bishop the outlines of the philosopher of their own day, namely the cenobitic monk. For evidence, we need only look to the fifth century, by which time a large number of Episcopal candidates in Asia Minor were being recruited from monastic communities.
73. Oration 43.26. Cf. Orations 2.8, 21.9, 42.18.
74. Oration 43.25, lines 25-28, and 43.27, lines 7-10, respectively; Browne and Swallow, pp. 404-405. See also Oration 32.11-12 on the importance of proper order in the church.
75. Oration 43.29, lines 14-16. His retreat was provoked by a disagreement with his Episcopal predecessor, Bishop Eusebius. See 43.33 on his governance of the church from a lower position.
76. Oration 43.36.
77. Oration 43.37; Oration 43.38, lines 2-6. For the same idea in Nyssan's writings, namely that ordination need not compromise the philosophical (i.e., monastic) life, see VSM 14, 4-6, and his account of the ordination of Gregory Thaumaturgus, GNO X.1.2, 15.16f. (= PG 46, 909AB).
78. Oration 43.40, lines 10-11; Browne and Swallow, p. 409.
79. Oration 43.56, lines 21-22; 43.57, line 26; 43.58, especially lines 11-12; Browne and Swallow, pp. 413-414. On healing see Oration 43.54-55. The force of Basil's personal presence caused the disease of the emperor's son to abate, but the ruler's failure to trust Basil and his simultaneous consultation with the heterodox caused the boy to die. The prefect, however, was healed of his affliction through Basil's powerful mediation.
80. Oration 43.58, 59. For helpful comment on Gregory's deft handling of this and other difficult episodes see Norris, "Your Honour, My Reputation," especially pp. 152-154.
81. See especially Oration 43.66, 67.
82. Oration 43.60, line 26; 43.61, lines 13-16; Browne and Swallow, 415
83. Oration 43.63.
84. Hina mete to philosophon akoinoneton e mete to praktikon aphilosophon, Oration 43.62, lines 28-39; Browne and Swallow, p. 416. Compare Gregory's similar praise of Athanasius in Oration 21.19-20.
85. See also Oration 43.23, lines 19-20. Elm, "Virgins of God," pp. 209-210, notes that Gregory sometimes uses the term migades to describe such a mixture of contemplative and practical life as might characterize the lives of ascetic bishops. More often in this oration, however, Gregory reserves the terms migas or migados bios for communal as opposed to eremitic monasticism.
86. Oration 43.71, lines 22-23; Oration 43.75.
87. Oration 43.77; Oration 43.78, lines 9-10. Who were these gnesiotatoi therapeutoi whom Basil ordained? Bernardi, Discours 42-43, p. 298 n. 1, suspects they were monks who had been assisting Basil in his ecclesiastical duties. If so, this provides one of many examples of Basil's selection of monks for positions of ecclesiastical authority.
88. These are the goals suggested by Kennedy Greek Rhetoric, p. 230.
89. See C. Moreschini, "Il platonismo cristiano di Gregorio Nazianzeno" and "Luce e purificazione nella dottrina di Gregorio Nazianzeno," Augustinianum (1973): 535-549; also Anthony Meredith, "Gregory of Nazianzus and Gregory of Nyssa on Basil," SP 32 (1997): 168-169, who argues for a stronger Platonic bent in Nazianzen. Both Moreschini and Anthony Meredith, The Cappadocians (New York: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1995), pp. 42-49, demonstrate the predominance of light imagery in Nazianzen's references to God or the Trinity and therefore in his notions of spiritual progress as well. See, for example, Oration 2.5. In Oration 43.65 Gregory speaks of Basil's purification by the Spirit and subsequent illumination so that "with God he examined the things of God."
90. See Oration 43.11 for Gregory's critique of the anti-intellectualism of many Christians.
91. Oration 43.60-66.
92. De ipso et de episcopis, Meehan, lines 181-182. This affirmation immediately follows a lengthy complaint about lower-class infiltration of the episcopate (lines 154-175). On this aspect of Gregory's Episcopal ideals see Andrew Louth, "St. Gregory of Nazianzen on Bishops and the Episcopate," Vescovi i pastori 2, pp. 282-284.
93. De ipso et de episcopis, Meehan, line 775. For Gregory's harshest invectives against the character and preparation of bishops see lines 136-183 and 330-453. The account of Gregory's resignation, lines 136-175, makes it clear that his own experience with bishops in Constantinople lies behind many of his bitter reproaches. For a fuller analysis of this poem and the roughly contemporaneous De vita sua, see McLynn, "Voice of Conscience."
94. See De se ipso et de episcopis, Meehan, lines 503-574, for Gregory's remarks on this issue. For further discussion of ordination in Nazianzen's writings see André de Halleux, "Grégoire de Nazianze témoin du caractère sacerdotal'?" in Memorial Jean Gribomont, pp. 331-347.
95. De se ipso et de episcopis, Meehan, lines 576-609.
96. See De vita sua, Meehan, lines 1219-1224; see also lines 1433-1434.
97. See Letters 87.3, 95, 125, 130, 133.3-4, 136.3-4, 185.
98. Gregory's constant vacillation between ascetic withdrawal and active service to church and community has been analysed by Raymond Van Dam, "Self-Representation in the Will of Gregory of Nazianzus," JTS n.s. 46 (1995): 118-148; here 137-142. See also Rosemary Radford Ruether, Gregory of Nazianzus: Rhetor and Philosopher (Oxford: Clarendon, 1969), pp. 32-33.
99. See the brief discussion of Jean Bernardi, "saint Gregoire de Nazianze, observateur du milieu ecclésiastique et théoricien de la fonction sacerdotale," in A. Mandouze and J. Fouilheron, eds., Migne et le renouveau des ιétudes patristiques, Théologie historique 66 (Parνs: Beauchesne, 1985), p. 356. On Gregory's neglect of the sacraments in his treatment of the priesthood see Rowan Greer, "Who Seeks for a spring in the Mud? Reflections on the Ordained Ministry in the Fourth Century," in Richard John Neuhaus, ed., Theological Education and Moral Formation (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1992), pp. 22-55; here especially p. 40 n. 49.
100. For Gregory's estimation of Eulalios see Letters 182 and 183, and Gallay Grégoire de Nazianze, pp. 227-228.
101. Jan Sajdak, "Die Scholiasten der Reden des Gregor von Nazianz," BZ 30 (1929): 269, and Michael Wittig, "Introduction," Gregor von Nazianz: Briefe (Stuttgart: Anton Hiersemann, 1981), p. 68. See also George T. Dennis, "Gregory of Nazianzus and the Byzantine Letter," in Thomas Halton and Joseph P.Williman, eds., Diakonia: Studies in Honour of Robert T.Meyer (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1986), pp. 3-13.
102. Jacques Noret, "Grégoire de Nazianze, l'auteur le plus cité, après la Bible, dans la littérature ecclésiastique byzantine," in Justin Mossay, ed., II. Symposium Nazianzenum 2 (Paderborn: Schöningh, 1983), p. 265 n. 38, suggests that the possibility that sections of Nazianzen's orations were memorized would explain some of the many tacit borrowings from them. See also Francesco Trisoglio, "Mentalità ed atteggiamento degli scoliasti di fronte agli scritti di 5. Gregorio di Nazianzo," ibid., p. 188 n. 5, and Kennedy Greek Rhetoric, p. 238. On the fame and veneration of Nazianzen in the fifth and sixth centuries see Friedhelm Lefherz, Studien zu Gregor von Nazianz: Mythologie, überlieferung, Scholiasten (Bonn: Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universitδt, 1958), pp. 111-147.
103. Jean Bernardi, "Introduction," Discours 1-3, p. 39.
104. For his influence on Chrysostom see Chapter 6. Regarding Jerome, see Philip Rousseau, Ascetics, Authority and the Church in the Age of Jerome and Cassian (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1978), p. 107. On Gregory the Great see R. A. Markus, The World of Gregory the Great (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), pp. 17-33, and brief comments of Andrew Louth, "St. Gregory of Nazianzen on Bishops," Vescovi e pastori 2, pp. 284-285.
105. Kennedy Greek Rhetoric, 237.
106. Oration 43.77. E. W Brooks, ed., The Sixth Book of the Select Letters of Severus of Antioch, 2 (London: Williams and Norgate, 1904), p. 393. Though it is not completely clear whether this passage refers to Nyssan's or Nazianzen's funeral oration, considering the latter's particular influence on Severus and in the Syrian milieu, it seems likely that Nazianzen's speech is in view. Alongside the Bible no other texts interested the ancient schools of Syrian philology more than Gregory's orations. See André de Halleux, "La version syriaque des Discours de Grégoire de Nazianze," in Mossay, II. Symposium Nazianzenum, especially p. 75.
107. On written borrowings see Noret, "Grégoire, l'auteur le plus cité," pp. 262-264. On iconography see D. Stiernon, "Basilio il Grande: Vita, opere, culto, reliquie, iconografia," Bibliotheca sanctorum II, p. 937f., and Wilma Fitzgerald, "Notes on the Iconography of Saint Basil the Great," in Paul Jonathan Fedwick, ed., Basil of Caesarea: Christian, Humanist, Ascetic, A Sixteen-hundredth Anniversary Symposium (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1981), 2, pp. 533-564. K. Weitzmann, Greek Mythology in Byzantine Art (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1951), pp. 692, devotes considerable space to representations of Gregory's texts, which were among the most illustrated of the Byzantine era.
108. Susanna Elm has stressed the Greco-Roman rhetoric of political office as the background to Gregory's ideals of ecclesiastical leadership. See Elm, "Orthodoxy and the True Philosophical Life: Julian and Gregory of Nazianzus," SP 37 (2001): 69-85, especially pp. 75-76.