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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

Gregory of Nyssaís Tabernacle Imagery in Its Jewish and Christian Contexts
Conway-Jones, Ann

Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014 pp. vii + 302. $105.00

Series Information
Oxford Early Christian Studies


Description: Intergrating patristics and early Jewish mysticism, this book examines Greogry of Nyssa's tabernacle imagery, as found in Life of Moses 2. 170-201. Previous scholarship has often focused on Gregory's interpretation of the darkness on Mount Sinai as divine incomprehensibility. However, true to Exodus, Gregory continues with Moses's vision of the tabernacle "not made with hands" received within that darkness. This innovative methodology of heuristic comparison doesn't strive to prove influence, but to use heavenly ascent textsas a foil, in order to shed new light on Gregory's imagery. Ann Conway-Jones presents a well-rounded, nuanced understanding of Gregory's exegesis, in which mysticism, theology, and politics are intertwined. Heavenly ascent texts use descriptions of religious experience to claim authoritative knowledge. For Gregory, the high point of Moses's ascent into the darkness of Mount Sinai is the mystery of Christian doctrine. The heavenly tabernacle is a type of the heavenly Christ. This mystery is beyond intellectual comprehension, it can only be grasped by faith; and only the select few, destined for positions of responsibility, should even attempt to do so.

Subjects: Bible, Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Pentateuch, Exodus, Literature, Methods, Other Methods

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Review by Jeffrey L. Morrow
Published 10/27/2016
Citation: Jeffrey L. Morrow, review of Ann Conway-Jones, Gregory of Nyssaís Tabernacle Imagery in Its Jewish and Christian Contexts, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2016).


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