The Metapoetics of ΜΕΤΑΠΟΙΗΣΙΣ
In the “Preface” to his In Canticum Canticorum, Gregory puts forth a rigorous defense of the way he reads Solomon’s ancient text, justifying his adaptations of the Philonic-Origenist approach, the so-called “Alexandrian” school, against the limitations of a more literal reading. Although this justification is quite consistent with methodological arguments put forward by Gregory elsewhere, it is my thesis that his Trinitarian reading of the Canticle has a more complicated origin that reflects his theology of transformation, μεταποίησις—a transformation in this case that must be rhetorically performed on the text, itself. This rhetorical maneuver not only accomplishes a μεταποίησις of the text from a highly erotic historical narrative into an erotic philosophical text, but radically transforms it from being a text written by the historical Solomon into a text authored by and, therefore, inhabited by the second person of the Trinity. As a result, the act of reading the Canticle under the guidance of Gregory becomes a transformative encounter with the Trinity as opposed to being philosophical arguments about the Trinity. My reading, therefore, of Gregory’s reading strategy is something of a Foucauldian archaeological reading, a look beneath the organizational structures he explicitly defends to the operative structures at work in producing Trinitarian knowledge. To do so, I will first examine passages about μεταποίησις found in the last and first Homilies, Homily 15 and Homily 1, then examine a highly creative and relevant passage from Plato’s Symposium, and conclude by returning to Gregory’s preface.