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Physis : World Creation  

Gregory of Nyssa : THE MAKING OF MAN

That the Nature of Man is Invisible

Patrologia Graeca 44.153-6  * Greek Fonts


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But I find the solution of these difficulties by recourse to the very utterance of God; for He says, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness ." The image is properly an image so long as it fails in none of those attributes which we perceive in the archetype; but where it falls from its resemblance to the prototype it ceases in that respect to be an image; therefore, since one of the attributes we contemplate in the Divine nature is incomprehensibility of essence, it is clearly necessary that in this point the image should be able to show its imitation of the archetype.

For if, while the archetype transcends comprehension, the nature of the image were comprehended, the contrary character of the attributes we behold in them would prove the defect of the image; but since the nature of our mind, which is the likeness of the Creator evades our knowledge, it has an accurate resemblance to the superior nature, figuring by its own unknowableness the incomprehensible Nature.

Ἀλλ' ἔγνων τῶν ἠπορημένων τὴν λύσιν ἐπ' αὐτὴν ἀναδραμὼν τοῦ Θεοῦ τὴν φωνήν· Ποιήσωμεν γάρ͵ φησίν͵ ἄνθρωπον κατ' εἰκόνα καὶ καθ' ὁμοίωσιν ἡμετέραν. Ἡ γὰρ εἰκὼν ἕως ἂν ἐν μηδενὶ λείπηται τῶν κατὰ τὸ ἀρχέτυπον νοουμένων͵ κυρίως ἐστὶν εἰκών· καθ' ὃ δ' ἂν διαπέσῃ τῆς πρὸς τὸ πρωτότυπον ὁμοιότητος͵ κατ' ἐκεῖνο τὸ μέρος εἰκὼν οὐκ ἔστιν. Οὐκοῦν ἐπειδὴ ἓν τῶν περὶ τὴν θείαν φύσιν θεωρουμένων ἐστὶ τὸ ἀκατάληπτον τῆς οὐσίας· ἀνάγκη πᾶσα καὶ ἐν τούτῳ τὴν εἰκόνα πρὸς τὸ ἀρχέτυπον ἔχειν τὴν μίμησιν.

Εἰ γὰρ ἡ μὲν τῆς εἰκόνος φύσις κατελαμβάνετο͵ τὸ δὲ πρωτότυπον ὑπὲρ κατάληψιν ἦν, ἡ ἐναντιότης τῶν ἐπιθεωρουμένων τὸ διημαρτημένον τῆς εἰκόνος διήλεγχεν. Ἐπειδὴ δὲ διαφεύγει τὴν γνῶσιν ἡ κατὰ τὸν νοῦν τὸν ἡμέτερον φύσις͵ ὅς ἐστι κατ' εἰκόνα τοῦ κτίσαντος͵ ἀκριβῆ πρὸς τὸ ὑπερκείμενον ἔχει τὴν ὁμοιότητα͵ τῷ καθ' ἑαυτὸν ἀγνώστῳ χαρακτηρίζων τὴν ἀκατάληπτον φύσιν.

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Cf. St Basil the Great, On the Creation of the World (Hexaemeron)

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