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Physis : World Creation  

Gregory of Nyssa : THE MAKING OF MAN

A Contemplation of the Divine Utterance Which Said-"Let Us Make Man After Our Image and Likeness"; Wherein is Examined What is the Definition of the Image, and How the Passible and Mortal is Like to the Blessed and Impassible, and How in the Image There are Male and Female, Seeing These are Not in the Prototype

Patrologia Graeca 44.177-185  * Greek Fonts


Page 6

How then is man, this mortal, passible, shortlived being, the image of that nature which is immortal, pure, and everlasting? The true answer to this question, indeed, perhaps only the very Truth knows: but this is what we, tracing out the truth so far as we are capable by conjectures and inferences, apprehend concerning the matter. Neither does the word of God lie when it says that man was made in the image of God, nor is the pitiable suffering of man's nature like to the blessedness of the impassible Life: for if any one were to compare our nature with God, one of two things must needs be allowed in order that the definition of the likeness may be apprehended in both cases in the same terms,-either that the Deity is passible, or that humanity is impassible: but if neither the Deity is passible nor our nature free from passion, what other account remains whereby we may say that the word of God speaks truly, which says that man was made in the image of God?

We must, then, take up once more the Holy Scripture itself, if we may perhaps find some guidance in the question by means of what is written. After saying, "Let us make man in our image," and for what purposes it was said "Let us make him," it adds this saying:-"and God created man; in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them ." We have already said in what precedes, that this saying was uttered for the destruction of heretical impiety, in order that being instructed that the Only-begotten God made man in the image of God, we should in no wise distinguish the Godhead of the Father and the Son, since Holy Scripture gives to each equally the name of God,-to Him Who made man, and to Him in Whose image he was made.

Πῶς οὖν ὁ ἄνθρωπος, τὸ θνητὸν τοῦτο καὶ ἐμπαθὲς καὶ ὠκύμορον͵ τῆς ἀκηράτου καὶ καθαρᾶς καὶ ἀεὶ οὔσης φύσεώς ἐστιν εἰκών; Ἀλλὰ τὸν μὲν ἀληθῆ περὶ τούτου λόγον μόνη ἂν εἰδείη σαφῶς ἡ ὄντως Ἀλήθεια. Ἡμεῖς δὲ καθ' ὅσον χωροῦμεν͵ στοχασμοῖς τισι καὶ ὑπονοίαις τὸ ἀληθὲς ἀνιχνεύοντες͵ ταῦτα περὶ τῶν ζητουμένων ὑπολαμβάνομεν. Οὔτε ὁ θεῖος ψεύδεται λόγος͵ κατ' εἰκόνα Θεοῦ εἰπὼν γεγενῆσθαι τὸν ἄνθρωπον, οὔτε ἡ ἐλεεινὴ τῆς ἀνθρωπίνης φύσεως ταλαιπωρία τῇ μακαριότητι τῆς ἀπαθοῦς ζωῆς καθωμοίωται. Ἀνάγκη γὰρ τῶν δύο τὸ ἕτερον ὁμολογεῖσθαι͵ εἴ τις συγκρίνοι τῷ Θεῷ τὸ ἡμέτερον ἢ παθητὸν εἶναι τὸ Θεῖον ἢ ἀπαθὲς τὸ ἀνθρώπινον͵ ὡς ἂν διὰ τῶν ἴσων ὁ τῆς ὁμοιότητος λόγος ἐπ' ἀμφοτέρους καταλαμβάνοιτο. Εἰ δὲ οὔτε τὸ Θεῖον ἐμπαθὲς οὔτε τὸ καθ' ἡμᾶς ἔξω πάθους ἐστίν͵ ἄρα τις ἕτερος ὑπολέλειπται λόγος καθ' ὃν ἀληθεύειν φαμὲν τὴν θείαν φωνήν͵ τὴν ἐν εἰκόνι Θεοῦ γεγενῆσθαι τὸν ἄνθρωπον λέγουσαν.

Οὐκοῦν αὐτὴν ἐπαναληπτέον ἡμῖν τὴν θείαν Γραφὴν͵ εἴ τις ἄρα γένοιτο διὰ τῶν γεγραμμένων πρὸς τὸ ζητούμενον χειραγωγία. Μετὰ τὸ εἰπεῖν ὅτι Ποιήσωμεν ἄνθρωπον κατ' εἰκόνα͵ καὶ ἐπὶ τίσι ποιήσωμεν͵ ἐπάγει τοῦτον τὸν λόγον͵ ὅτι καὶ ἐποίησεν ὁ Θεὸς τὸν ἄνθρωπον καὶ κατ' εἰκόνα Θεοῦ ἐποίησεν αὐτόν. Ἄρσεν καὶ θῆλυ ἐποίησεν αὐτούς. Εἴρηται μὲν οὖν ἤδη καὶ ἐν τοῖς ἔμπροσθεν͵ ὅτι πρὸς καθαίρεσιν τῆς αἱρετικῆς ἀσεβείας ὁ τοιοῦτος προαναπεφώνηται λόγος͵ ἵνα διδαχθέντες ὅτι ἐποίησε τὸν ἄνθρωπον ὁ μονογενὴς Θεὸς κατ' εἰκόνα Θεοῦ͵ μηδενὶ λόγῳ τὴν θεότητα τοῦ Πατρὸς καὶ τοῦ Υἱοῦ διακρίνωμεν͵ ἐπίσης τῆς ἁγίας Γραφῆς Θεὸν ἑκάτερον ὀνομαζούσης͵ τόν τε πεποιηκότα τὸν ἄνθρωπον καὶ οὗ κατ' εἰκόνα ἐγένετο.

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

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