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Three Millennia of Greek Literature


Gregory the Theologian Bilingual Anthology


from the Speech on the Theophany (38), * §§ 7-11 & 13, Patrologia Graeca 36.317-325
translated by C. G. Browne, J. E. Swallow.
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In order as I conceive by that part of it which we can comprehend to draw us to itself (for that which is altogether incomprehensible is outside the bounds of hope, and not within the compass of endeavour), and by that part of It which we cannot comprehend to move our wonder, and as an object of wonder to become more an object of desire, and being desired to purify, and by purifying to make us like God; so that when we have thus become like Himself, God may, to use a bold expression, hold converse with us as Gods, being united to us, and that perhaps to the same extent as He already knows those who are known to Him. The Divine Nature then is boundless and hard to understand; and all that we can comprehend of Him is His boundlessness; even though one may conceive that because He is of a simple nature He is therefore either wholly incomprehensible, or perfectly comprehensible. For let us further enquire what is implied by "is of a simple nature." For it is quite certain that this simplicity is not itself its nature, just as composition is not by itself the essence of compound beings.

Ἐμοὶ δοκεῖν͵ ἵνα τῷ ληπτῷ μὲν ἕλκῃ πρὸς ἑαυτὸ (τὸ γὰρ τελέως ἄληπτον͵ ἀνέλπιστον καὶ ἀνεπιχείρητον)͵ τῷ δὲ ἀλήπτῳ θαυμάζηται͵ θαυμαζόμενον δὲ ποθῆται πλέον͵ ποθούμενον δὲ καθαίρῃ͵ καθαῖρον δὲ θεοειδεῖς ἀπεργάζηται͵ τοιούτοις δὲ γενομένοις͵ ὡς οἰκείοις ἤδη προσομιλῇ͵ τολμᾷ τι νεανικὸν ὁ λόγος͵ Θεὸς θεοῖς ἑνούμενός τε καὶ γνωριζόμενος καὶ τοσοῦτον ἴσως͵ ὅσον ἤδη γινώσκει τοὺς γινωσκομένους. Ἄπειρον οὖν τὸ θεῖον καὶ δυσθεώρητον καὶ τοῦτο πάντη καταληπτὸν αὐτοῦ μόνον ἡ ἀπειρία· κἄν τις οἴηται τῷ ἁπλῆς εἶναι φύσεως ἢ ὅλον ἄληπτον εἶναι ἢ τελέως ληπτόν. Τί γὰρ ὃς ἁπλῆς ἐστι φύσεως͵ ἐπιζητήσωμεν. Οὐ γὰρ δὴ τοῦτο φύσις αὐτῷ ἡ ἁπλότης, εἴπερ μηδὲ τοῖς συνθέτοις͵ μόνον τὸ εἶναι συνθέτοις.

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