Self-Portrait in Three Colors: Gregory of Nazianzus's Epistolary Autobiography (Christianity in Late Antiquity, Book 6)

October 30, 2020
Self-Portrait in Three Colors: Gregory of Nazianzus's Epistolary Autobiography (Christianity in Late Antiquity, Book 6)

A seminal figure in late antique Christianity and Christianorthodoxy, Saint Gregory of Nazianzus published a collection ofmore than 240 letters. Whereas these letters have often been castaside as readers turn to his theological orations orautobiographical poetry for insight into his life, thought, andtimes, Self-Portrait in Three Colors focuses squarely onthem, building a provocative case that the finalized collectionconstitutes not an epistolary archive but an autobiography inepistolary form—a single text composed to secure his status amongprovincial contemporaries and later generations. Shedding light onlate-ancient letter writing, fourth-century Christianintelligentsia, Christianity and classical culture, and theChristianization of Roman society, these letters offer afascinating and unique view of Gregory's life, engagement withliterary culture, and leadership in the church. As a single unit,this autobiographical epistolary collection proved a powerful toolin Gregory's attempts to govern the contours of his authorial imageas well as his provincial and ecclesiastical legacy.