Integrating patristics and early Jewish mysticism, this book examines Gregory of Nyssa's tabernacle imagery, as found in Life of Moses 2. 170-201. Previous scholarship has often focused on Gregory's interpretation of the darkness on Mount Sinai as divine incomprehensibility. However, true to Exodus, Gregory continues with Moses's vision of the tabernacle 'not made with hands' received within that darkness. This innovative methodology of heuristic comparison
doesn't strive to prove influence, but to use heavenly ascent texts as a foil, in order to shed new light on Gregory's imagery. Ann Conway-Jones presents a well-rounded, nuanced understanding of Gregory's exegesis, in which mysticism, theology, and politics are intertwined.
Heavenly ascent texts use descriptions of religious experience to claim authoritative knowledge. For Gregory, the high point of Moses's ascent into the darkness of Mount Sinai is the mystery of Christian doctrine. The heavenly tabernacle is a type of the heavenly Christ. This mystery is beyond intellectual comprehension, it can only be grasped by faith; and only the select few, destined for positions of responsibility, should even attempt to do so.