The Fire of Purgation in Gregory of Nyssa’s De anima et resurrectione

The Hidden Pearl

Introduction

Gregory of NyssaFire has had different functions in Christian eschatology. While final destruction is the fate of the unsaved according to Edward William Fudge in his book Fire that Consumes1, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that eternal punishment awaits those who die in a state of mortal sin2. In either case, fire is the main agent that consumes the damned or inflicts eternal punishment on them. Fire also plays an important role in purifying the soul according to the Catechism’s teachings on purgatory where all who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, undergo purification before they enter the joy of heaven. “The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire.3” Long before the Fathers of the Councils of Florence (1414-1418 A.D.) and Trent (1545-1563 A.D.) promulgated the doctrine of purgatory, Gregory of Nyssa (335-394 A.D.) and other theologians4 espoused the teaching…

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One Response to The Fire of Purgation in Gregory of Nyssa’s De anima et resurrectione

  1. AR says:

    It seems that the saints Gregory and Macrina were certain the suffering that the soul would undergo after death would be dependent solely on the amount of evil there. However, I feel fairly certain that in this life at least the suffering of purification also depends upon the willingness or unwillingness of the soul to be separated from evil – and I don’t see why it should be different afterward. Certainly unwillingness is a category of the evil that must be separated, but if so it must be a special category because it affects all the other categories. And willingness is after all one of the things that sets souls apart from ropes and lumps of metal.

    Lots of great food for thought, especially about the nature of liberty. One senses the presence of an alien philosophical atmosphere.

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