On Making Fleshly Difference: Humanity and Animality in Gregory of Nyssa
This essay explores the theological stakes of differentiating humanity from animality in Gregory of Nyssa’s treatise De hominis opificio. Gregory’s conviction that the imago dei names an essential affinity to the angelic in human beings corresponds to his need to categorically differentiate humanity from animality. Yet, human affinity to God and the angels persistently threatens to collapse into beastly behavior and dispositions. Despite all Gregory’s efforts to shore up human uniqueness, human animality plays an indispensable (though disavowed) role in his theological anthropology.