St Gregory the Theologian: Oration 39 (part 1)

Eclectic Orthodoxy

Oration 39 was most likely delivered by St Gregory on January 5th, vigil of the Feast of the Epiphany. His audience would have included the catechumens who were expecting to be baptized on the next day, catechumens prepared by Arian priests and catechists under the leadership of the recently deposed Homoian bishop of Constantinople, Demophilus. The Gothic warlord Athanarich may also have been present, submitting to the religion of the Roman Empire as an expression of his new alliance with the Emperor Theodosius. In other words, the new bishop of Constantinople has only two sermons to convert a group of unbaptized Arians, pagans, and barbarians to the faith of Nicaea and introduce them to the eternally begotten Son, Jesus Christ, God from God, Light from Light, of one substance with the Father. A tall order indeed.

The principal theme of Oration 39 is purification, the purification needed for anyone who…

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