The Catholic University of America

Brendan Lupton Defense

Final Examination of

Brendan Lupton

for the degree of

Sacred Theology Doctorate

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

9:30am., Caldwell Room 125



St. Paul as a Model and Teacher in the Writings of St. Gregory the Great

Brendan Lupton

Director: Susan Wessel, D. Phil.


The Apostle Paul plays an important role in the writings of Gregory the Great, who reserves such distinguished titles for him as egregius praedicator, magnus regendi artifex, and peritus medicus. Gregory cites the Apostle more often than any other scriptural author in the Pastoral Rule and Paul is the second most frequent biblical source in the Moralia outside of the Gospels. Given this prominence, it is worth examining how Gregory uses the letters of Paul in his writings.

The purpose of this dissertation is to analyze Gregory’s portrayal of Paul as a model Christian, as a model pastor, as a model preacher and as a teacher for clerics. This dissertation will follow the method of historical literary criticism to examine how Gregory uses Paul. The first section provides a summary of how the deeds of the saints function within Gregory’s narrative, which will help to explain Gregory’s intentions for using Paul. The second section will examine Gregory’s portrayal of Paul as a model Christian, which will include Gregory’s description of Paul as a model of virtue, detachment, and conversion.   The third chapter will present some background information on two of Gregory’s most frequent Pauline examples: Paul as a humble pastor and Paul as a model of the “mixed life,” i.e., the combination of both the active and contemplative lives. The fourth section will show that Gregory portrays Paul as a model pastor. For Gregory, Paul is above all a humble minister and is able avoid the lure of power in its various forms. He also presents Paul as a model of the “mixed life” and as a model preacher. In the final section, I shall demonstrate that Gregory utilizes Paul as a teacher of preachers and pastors, which is found primarily in the third section of the Pastoral Rule.

In terms of the contribution of this dissertation, this study will be the first comprehensive analysis of Gregory’s use of Paul. This project will advance our understanding of Gregory’s conception of the Apostle and his use of Paul in his writings.