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Three Millennia of Greek Literature
Physis : World Creation  

Gregory of Nyssa : THE MAKING OF MAN

What Was the Life in Paradise, and What Was the Forbidden Tree

Patrologia Graeca 44.197-201  * Greek Fonts


HAT then is that which includes the knowledge of good and evil blended together, and is decked with the pleasures of sense? I think I am not aiming wide of the mark in employing, as a starting-point for my speculation, the sense of "knowable ." It is not, I think, "science" which the Scripture here means by "knowledge"; but I find a certain distinction, according to Scriptural use, between "knowledge" and "discernment": for to "discern" skilfully the good from the evil, the Apostle says is a mark of a more perfect condition and of "exercised senses ," for which reason also he bids us "prove all things ," and says that "discernment" belongs to the spiritual man : but "knowledge" is not always to be understood of skill and acquaintance with anything, but of the disposition towards what is agreeable,-as "the Lord knoweth them that are His "; and He says to Moses, "I knew thee above all "; while of those condemned in their wickedness He Who knows all things says, "I never knew you ."

Τίς ἡ ἐν τῷ παραδείσῳ ζωὴ καὶ τί τὸ ἀπηγορευμένον ξύλον

Τί οὖν ἐκεῖνό ἐστιν͵ ὃ καλοῦ τε καὶ κακοῦ συγκεκραμένην ἔχει τὴν γνῶσιν͵ ταῖς δι' αἰσθήσεως ἡδοναῖς ἐπηνθισμένον; Ἄρα μὴ πόῤῥω τῆς ἀληθείας παραστοχάσομαι͵ τῇ τοῦ γνωστοῦ διανοίᾳ εἰς ἀφορμὴν τῆς θεωρίας συγχρώμενος. Οἶμαι γὰρ οὐκ ἐπιστήμην ἐνταῦθα παρὰ τῆς Γραφῆς νοεῖσθαι τὴν γνῶσιν͵ ἀλλά τινα διαφορὰν ἐκ τῆς γραφικῆς συνηθείας εὑρίσκω͵ γνώσεώς τε καὶ διακρίσεως. Τὸ μὲν γὰρ διακρίνειν ἐπιστημόνως τὸ καλὸν ἐκ τοῦ κακοῦ͵ τελειοτέρας ἕξεως εἶναί φησιν ὁ Ἀπόστολος καὶ γεγυμνασμένων αἰσθητηρίων, διὸ καὶ πρόσταγμα ποιεῖται πάντα δοκιμάζειν καὶ τοῦ πνευματικοῦ τὸ διακρίνειν ἴδιον εἶναί φησιν. Ἡ δὲ γνῶσις οὐ πανταχοῦ τὴν ἐπιστήμην τε καὶ τὴν εἴδησιν ὑφηγεῖται κατὰ τὸ σημαινόμενον͵ ἀλλὰ τὴν πρὸς τὸ κεχαρισμένον διάθεσιν, ὡς͵ Ἔγνω Κύριος τοὺς ὄντας αὐτοῦ, καὶ πρὸς τὸν Μωϋσέα φησίν͵ ὅτι Ἔγνων σε παρὰ πάντας· περὶ δὲ τῶν ἐν κακίᾳ κατεγνωσμένων λέγει ὁ τὰ πάντα εἰδώς͵ ὅτι Οὐδέποτε ἔγνων ὑμᾶς.

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

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