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Demons and Divine Illumination: A Consideration of Eight Prayers by Gregory of Nazianzus

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image of Vigiliae Christianae

This article considers eight prayers by Gregory of Nazianzus (Patrologia Graeca 37.1397-1406) that are singular in their anti-demonic tone and apotropaic formulae. Reading these texts in light of Gregory's Orations 20, 27, and 38-40 elucidates the Cappadocian's connection between baptism and the acquisition of divine knowledge; thus, we can acquire a rare view into the practical aspects of Gregory's endeavors with theoria in his post-baptismal life. Finally, these prayers bring into sharp relief the consequential materiality of the devil and demons in Gregory of Nazianzus' epistemology, theology, and asceticism. In so doing, this essay seeks to turn attention to the vibrant demonologies cultivated and constructed by elite, educated Christians in the late antique cities of the Greek East.

Affiliations: 1: University of California, San Diego, Literature Department 0410, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093-0410, USA


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