Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Theological Studies (MATS)



First Advisor

Daniel L. Brunner

Second Advisor

Thomas F. Johnson


This thesis examines the nature of sin and its effects on human nature in the thought of Gregory of Nazianzus and Gregory of Nyssa. In order to achieve this, it opens with an exploration of the original created state of human nature and the telos or purpose God established for it, then moves to a survey of the origin and ontology of evil, followed by a discussion of humanity in Paradise, and concludes with the state of human nature after the transgression. The human being is found to be a creature of composite nature, uniting soul and matter. It possesses the distinct characteristic of the image of God, and its goal is theosis or deification. Evil is considered to be a deprivation of goodness; therefore, it lacks actual ontology. It was introduced into the universe by Lucifer, and into the human realm through Adam. The first human pair dwelt in a spiritualized Paradise, shrouded by goodness and blessed with immortality. Empowered by the endowed gift of free will, humanity chose to tum against goodness, thus invoking evil into the human realm. As a result of the transgression, human nature was clothed in "coats of skin," which encompass death and moral incapacity. The effects of sin hinder divine understanding, as the image of God in humanity has been defaced. Humanity is not without hope, however, and its telos has not been terminated. Through a conjunction of the inherent grace of the divine image and human effort, the image of God can be renewed and preserved.

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