Gregory of Neocaesarea: evangelist in Pontus
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 14:38 authored by Graham Davis Lovell
In this work, the life and works of Gregory of Neocaesarea (surnamed Thaumaturgus) are studied to assess his achievements as a Christian evangelist in Pontus. The literary works attributed to him are examined in turn, and the issues surrounding their authorship, context and audience are considered and evaluated. The events of Gregory life and the historical situation are examined from different angles. The historical background is reviewed. This is the first systematic study of the culture and religion of Pontus in the period prior to the introduction of Christianity. Gregory was reputed to have worked many miracles. This study demonstrates that Pontus was the kind of society in which stories about the extraordinary events reported from Gregory’s life could have arisen quite naturally. Evidence for his life and works is considered, in particular that drawn from his own Address of Thanksgiving to Origen and the testimony of the Canonical Letter. The authorship of the various works attributed to Gregory is examined using tests of context, terminology and style; it includes the first presentation of stylometric analysis of these texts. The biographical accounts of his life are examined, namely Gregory of Nyssa’s panegyric, and a Syriac version of a letter written from Pontus that also encapsulates a number of the oral traditions about Gregory. This brings together the two main sources for Gregory’s life in a comparative study not previously attempted. After this, the biographical accounts and other sources are examined with a view to establishing the authenticity of the creed attributed to him, and the place of Gregory in the development of the theology of the Pontic (and Cappadocian) churches. Finally, the canons of the Council of Neocaesarea are examined to determine whether they can be used to cast light on Gregory’s life and work: arguments are put that they should be redated to the period before 303, and the importance of the chorespiscopi is discussed.