In the school of the Psalms: an educational-mystagogical proposal in St. Gregory of Nyssa’s “On the titles of the Psalms”

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Ramon Cornavaca
Octavio Peveraro


In the treatise “On the Titles of the Psalms” Gregory of Nyssa first considers some general themes relevant to the Christian life, and then comments at length on the titles of various psalms. In the present article, starting from the observation of some terms related to central aspects that characterize the Gregorian reading - sequentiality, gradualness, tension towards the infinite and openness to mystery -, an attempt is made to specify the fundamental objective at which the exegesis of this work aims. It can be seen that, according to Gregory’s interpretation, there would be a sort of “sequence” in the very disposition of the Psalter, which would become, in this way, an invitation to the receiver to undertake an ascending path that, starting from the initial turning away from evil and the cultivation of virtue (Psalm 1), is oriented to reach the ultimate end -thelos- of all human existence: eternal beatitude through participation in the choirs of divine praise. Gregory ultimately seeks to make more accessible the understanding of “the enigmatic teaching of the mysteries and the ineffable theology that is hidden in doctrines that are difficult to attain” (Part I, ch. 3). Finally, and by way of projection towards the present day, it is pointed out that the Gregorian reading of the Psalms - positive and hopeful - can stimulate one’s own spiritual experience in the midst of contemporary tensions and difficulties: in its “school” the recipients are introduced, pedagogically, into the realm of the divine mystery of the salvation of human beings.

Gregory of Nyssa Psalms Pedagogy Epektasis Mystery


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Author Biographies

Ramon Cornavaca, Universidad Nacional de Córdoba

Doctor en Letras Clásicas. Prof. de la Univ. Nacional de Córdoba, Argentina.

Octavio Peveraro

Licenciado en Sagrada Escritura.