Terminology of humility and pride in the writings of the Greek Fathers of the Church of the 4th century

Mariusz Szram

Katolicki Uniwersytet Lubelski Jana Pawła II , Poland


The aim of the presented paper is to analize the terminology describing humil­ity and pride that appears in the writings of the Greek Fathers of the Church of the 4th century (Basil the Great, Gregory of Nazianzus, Gregory of Nyssa, John Chrysostom). To describe a humility they used the traditional terms that derived from ancient philosophy and were also well known in the Septuagint and in the New Testament writings; and used in the letters by Saint Paul and Saint Peter. The ancient Greek thought didn’t know a virtue of humility, so the philosophers didn’t use the last of these terms. However, the first two were used in the ancient Greek literature, but usually in a pejora­tive sense and meant „smallness”, „weakness”, „misery”. In the works of Greek Fathers of the Church the adjective and the substantive had a wider semantic field than the substantive „virtue of humil­ity”. They could have meant the virtue of humility, as well as a natural state of abasement of man as a created being; or a humiliation caused by the sin, and even all lowliness in the world of spirit and matter. The terms associated with the pride, used by the Greek Fathers of the Church, remained unchanged since the time of ancient Greek philosophy and literature, which devoted to this fault not less space than later Christianity.


Greek Fathers, 4th century

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Szram, M. (2012). Terminology of humility and pride in the writings of the Greek Fathers of the Church of the 4th century. Vox Patrum, 58, 327–342. https://doi.org/10.31743/vp.4085

Mariusz Szram 
Katolicki Uniwersytet Lubelski Jana Pawła II


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