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Gregory of Nyssa: The Life of Moses
Gregory of Nyssa wrote a beautiful exposition on the life of Moses.
The book is structured as follows: firstly he gives a short summary of the biblical account of the life of Moses. Secondly, he gives an interpretation of the several events. He does this by seeing it through the lens of virtue ethics. This is best shown by how he interprets it.
The Birth of Moses
As Gregory tells us, the life of Moses is similar to the virtuous life, which we ought to imitate. The birth of Moses represents a birth from defilement, a kind of waking up. He was born in Egypt, which represents a kind of exile, not his homecountry. The waking up (or being born of Moses) is a divine call to a higher life.
It might be difficult to simulate the birth of Moses, but in fact we’re constantly being reborn. Our life is constantly changing, as we humans participate in the material life and we have a body. One of these births might just be the birth into the virtuous life, and the first step on the Divine Ladder or Jacob’s Ladder.
After being on the torrent of life (the River), he arrives safe in the hands of the daughter of the Pharaoh, which represents profane philosophy. When Moses wakes up from his immaturity, he will be ashamed to be called son of this profane philosophy.
Moses, while adopted by profane philosophy, is still being fed by his Mother, which represents Sacred Knowledge. This is similar to us, because we are being sustained by the life of God, without which nothing could hold.
The Red Sea
Another beautiful description St Gregory gives us, is the Crossing of the Red Sea. Moses, and the Israelites were being followed by the evil army of the Pharaoh.
The rod of Faith (of Moses), which represents the Divine, leads on. It splits the waters, and allows to continue. The rod of Faith is what continues us, guides us.
The Crossing of Red Sea is compared to Baptism. To pass on, one needs to remove the phalanx of Evil, which is washed away by the Sea. In order for Baptism to be fully effective, all the passions need to be washed away.
Entering the Mountain
Moses later ascends the mountain of Divine Knowledge, to receive the law. St Gregory makes the beautiful comparison between receiving the law on stone and receiving it on the heart.
Moses, in order to receive the Tables must ascend closer to God. This is similar to us getting closer to Him. When ascend closely enough, the tablets will be written on our heart.
Being manifested, that you are the epistle of Christ, ministered by us, and written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in the fleshly tables of the heart. (2 Corinthians 3:3)
These several examples show how the Old Testament, while old, is extremely important. Such that we might not fall into the heresy of Marcionism, denying the continuity of the Old Testament-New Testament.