Gregory of Nyssa on chapter titles

In his work De hominis opificio (On the making of man), in the praefatio, Gregory alludes explicitly to a list of chapter titles for the work:

…and for clearness’ sake I think it well to set forth to you the discourse by chapters, that you may be able briefly to know the force of the several arguments of the whole work.[1]

The Greek text of Migne does not print any chapter titles, but the English translators embedded them following this sentence.

The word rendered “chapters” is, of course, kephalaia.  Here at least we see that Gregory is familiar with the idea of a work which may be summarised in this way. 

  1. [1]PG 44, col. 128B.  English translation from the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers series, which then inserts a translation of the chapter headings which do not appear at this position in the Greek text of Migne.

4 thoughts on “Gregory of Nyssa on chapter titles

  1. As far as I know, there are some problems in the manuscript tradition for the chapters of the De hominis opificio : all the manuscripts haven’t the same number of chapters, nor the same position. I fear we must wait for a critical edition of the book… But we have a rather similar situation in the De uirginitate of the same Gregory, with a chapter liste included after a prefatory letter (see the Sources chrétiennes edition of M. Aubineau (SC 119, Paris, 1996), which is a lot better than the GNO edition for this work.

  2. That’s very interesting!

    From what Gregory says, the book clearly had a chapter list, an “index” or whatever, when he wrote it. Does this vary in content as well?

    But … perhaps the body of the text was NOT *divided* into chapters? There was a list of kephalaia, but no divisions marked? In which case the division of the work itself was the work of a later editor or editors?

    As you can probably see, I’ve started to read Roder, which is what led me to “De hominis opificio”. Interesting to hear that “De virginitate” also has a chapter list!

  3. In fact, there is not only a question of position of chapters fir De hominis opificio but also a difference of number of chapters… But it is only memory of a discussion with a colleague who prepare the edition for the Sources chrétiennes – and I haven’t had any news of him for a year or so. If I remember, there is pretty much work with kephalaia than the list you have given in a previous post. You will find a lot of informations in the Proceedings from a colloquium held in 1994 : FREDOUILLE, Jean-Claude, GOULET-CAZÉ, Marie-Odile, HOFFMANN, Philippe [et al.], Titres et articulations du texte dans les oeuvres antiques actes du colloque international de Chantilly, 13-15 décembre 1994, Paris, Institut d’études augustiniennes, 1997, (« Collection des études Augustiniennes », 152).

  4. I’m sure that there are many more works with indices, than just those in the list I have! But one has to start somewhere.

    I have seen the Chantilly colloquium book — it is excellent, but also highlights how much needs to be done. Probably I need to look at it again.

Leave a Reply