Christianity Knowledge Base
Gregory of Nyssa

Icon of St. Gregory of Nyssa
(14th century fresco, Chora Church, Istanbul).

Gregory of Nyssa (ca. 335-394) was an early Christian bishop of Nyssa in the region called Cappadocia, which is in modern day Turkey. He was a younger brother of Basil the Great, bishop of Caesearea. Basil appointed Gregory bishop of Nyssa in 372, gaining an episcopal ally near to his metropolitan see of Caesarea. Gregory was present at the Council of Antioch, and later at the Second Ecumenical Council which took place in Constantinople. There he was a defender of the Nicene Creed against the Arians.


Gregory is recognized for his contributions to the doctrine of the Trinity and the concept of God's infinity. He is also known for his idea of epektasis, or constant progress. In his theology, he recognized that God has always been perfect, has never changed, and never will. Humanity fell from grace, but rather than return to an unchanging state its goal is to continually progress to become more and more nearly like God, although never attaining God's transcendance. This idea has had a profound influence on the Eastern Orthodox teaching as seen in its concept of theosis or "divinization".


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