Morwenna Ludlow ( Gregory of Nyssa, Ancient and (Post)modern , 41-2) has some critical things to say about Robert Jenson’s use of Gregory of Nyssa, but she thinks he gets some things right: “Jenson is notable among systematic theologians in distinguishing clearly between the persons (or identities) of the Godhead ( pragmata , hypostases : Father, Son and Spirit) and the characteristics which distinguish the persons ( idiomata , gnorismata : Fatherhood, being begotten, and proceeding). Gregory’s view, it seems to me, is precisely that ‘the different ways in which each is the one God, for and of the others, are the only differences between them.’” This last is a quotation from Jenson.

Yet for the Cappadocians, Ludlow argues, “although the persons are only distinct and distinguishable because of their relations, they cannot be reduced to mere relations: Jenson rightly notes that the later idea of subsistent relations is not to be found in the Cappadocians.” Rather, it is their view that “the identifying characteristics are the epistemological means of distinguishing Father, Son, and Holy Spirit precisely because they are primarily real ontological distinctions between Father, Son and Spirit . . . . for the Cappadocians, the actual ontological identities within the Godhead are Father, Son, and Spirit themselves, and not the relations between them.”

Articles by Peter J. Leithart