A Christian’s Guide to Greek Culture. Nimmo Smith, Jennifer (9780853239178). Paperback.

A Christian’s Guide to Greek Culture. Nimmo Smith, Jennifer (9780853239178). Paperback.

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The Commentaries translated here, dating from the sixth century, show the persisting survival of Greek learning in an increasingly Christianised world. The work takes the form of a series of explanations and glosses of classical references in Gregory’s original Sermons. Although the author uses an elementary technique of the schools to structure his text, which has little in the way of eloquence or literary art, there is a striking single-mindededness and confidence in his explanations. Some of the information given is inaccurate, and the author is not averse to rewriting texts that he cannot explain. Nonetheless, the work displays a lively interest in Greek learning, and presents a fascinating insight into the attitude of one particular Christian to its continuing validity.

Everyone interested in the Early Byzantine period will be grateful for Nimmo Smith's efforts to make this information readily available. For historians of theology these Commentaries will be a reminder that the Byzantine world was surely a Christian world, but a Christian world of which mythological tales about Heracles, Zeus, Diogenes or Dionysius were still part and parcel.

The Heythrop Journal
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