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Ineffably Effable: The Pinnacle of Mystical Ascent in Gregory of Nyssa's De vita Moysis

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Abstract

In his commentary on the Song of Songs, Gregory of Nyssa describes a three-step progression of the soul to God, an ascent which ends in the darkness of God's ineffability. Though some of Gregory's most prominent interpreters understand Moses' ascent into the darkness to be the definitive encounter with God in De vita Moysis as well, it is here argued that in De vita Moysis Gregory of Nyssa makes the culminating moment, not the apophatic experience of the darkness, but the encounter with the celestial tabernacle, Christ. Gregory thereby suggests that the mystical ascent to God ends in the encounter of God as both unknowable and known, transcendent but also incarnate.

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