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Physis : World Creation  

Gregory of Nyssa : THE MAKING OF MAN

To Those Who Say, "If the Resurrection is a Thing Excellent and Good, How is It that It Has Not Happened Already, But is Hoped Far in Some Periods of Time?"

Patrologia Graeca 44.204-9  * Greek Fonts


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Man, then, was made in the image of God; that is, the universal nature, the thing like God; not part of the whole, but all the fulness of the nature together was so made by omnipotent wisdom. He saw, Who holds all limits in His grasp, as the Scripture tells us which says, "in His hand are all the corners of the earth," He saw, "Who knoweth all things" even "before they be," comprehending them in His knowledge, how great in number humanity will be in the sum of its individuals. But as He perceived in our created nature the bias towards evil, and the fact that after its voluntary fall from equality with the angels it would acquire a fellowship with the lower nature, He mingled, for this reason, with His own image, an element of the irrational (for the distinction of male and female does not exist in the Divine and blessed nature);-transferring, I say, to man the special attribute of the irrational formation, He bestowed increase upon our race not according to the lofty character of our creation; for it was not when He made that which was in His own image that He bestowed on man the power of increasing and multiplying; but when He divided it by sexual distinctions, then He said, "Increase and multiply, and replenish the earth ." For this belongs not to the Divine, but to the irrational element, as the history indicates when it narrates that these words were first spoken by God in the case of the irrational creatures; since we may be sure that, if He had bestowed on man, before imprinting on our nature the distinction of male and female, the power for increase conveyed by this utterance, we should not have needed this form of generation by which the brutes are generated. Now seeing that the full number of men pre-conceived by the operation of foreknowledge will come into life by means of this animal generation, God, Who governs all things in a certain order and sequence,-since the inclination of our nature to what was beneath it (which He Who beholds the future equally with the present saw before it existed) made some such form of generation absolutely necessary for mankind,-therefore also foreknew the time coextensive with the creation of men, so that the extent of time should be adapted for the entrances of the pre-determined souls, and that the flux and motion of time should halt at the moment when humanity is no longer produced by means of it; and that when the generation of men is completed, time should cease together with its completion, and then should take place the restitution of all things, and with the World-Reformation humanity also should be changed from the corruptible and earthly to the impassible and eternal.

Γέγονεν οὖν κατ' εἰκόνα ὁ ἄνθρωπος͵ ἡ καθόλου φύσις͵ τὸ θεοείκελον χρῆμα. Γέγονε δὲ τῇ παντοδυνάμῳ σοφίᾳ οὐχὶ μέρος τοῦ ὄλου͵ ἀλλ' ἄπαν ἀθρόως τὸ τῆς φύσεως πλήρωμα. Εἶδεν ὁ πάντων τῶν περάτων περιδεδραγμένος͵ καθώς φησιν ἡ Γραφή͵ ἡ λέγουσα͵ Ἐν τῇ χειρὶ αὐτοῦ τὰ πέρατα τῆς γῆς, εἶδεν ὁ εἰδὼς τὰ πάντα καὶ πρὶν γενέσεως αὑτῶν͵ ἐμπεριλαθὼν [205] τῇ γνώσει ὅσον κατ' ἀριθμὸν ἐν τοῖς καθ' ἕκαστον ἔσται τὸ ἀνθρώπινον. Ἐπεὶ δὲ κατενόησεν ἐν τῷ πλάσματι ἡμῶν τὴν πρὸς τὸ χεῖρον ῥοπὴν καὶ ὅτι τῆς πρὸς τοὺς ἀγγέλους ὁμοτιμίας ἑκουσίως ἀποῤῥυέν͵ τὴν πρὸς τὸ ταπεινὸν κοινωνίαν προσοικειώσεται, διὰ ταῦτα κατέμιξέ τι καὶ τοῦ ἀλόγου τῇ ἰδίᾳ εἰκόνι. Οὐ γάρ ἐστιν ἐν τῇ θείᾳ τε καὶ μακαρίᾳ φύσει ἡ κατὰ τὸ ἄῤῥεν καὶ θῆλυ διαφορά, ἀλλὰ τῆς ἀλόγου κατασκευῆς ἐπὶ τὸν ἄνθρωπον μετενεγκὼν τὸ ἰδίωμα͵ οὐ κατὰ τὸ ὑψηλὸν τῆς κτίσεως ἡμῶν τὸν πλεονασμὸν τῷ γένει χαρίζεται. Οὐ γὰρ ὅτε τὸ κατ' εἰκόνα ἐποίησε͵ τότε τὴν τοῦ αὐξάνεσθαι καὶ πληθύνεσθαι δύναμιν τῷ ἀνθρώπῳ προσέθηκεν͵ ἀλλ' ὅτε διέκρινε τῇ κατὰ τὸ ἄῤῥεν καὶ θῆλυ διαφορᾷ͵ τότε φησίν, Αὐξάνεσθε καὶ πληθύνεσθε καὶ πληρώσατε τὴν γῆν. Τὸ γὰρ τοιοῦτον οὐ τῆς θείας φύσεως ἴδιον͵ ἀλλὰ τῆς ἀλόγου ἐστί͵ καθὼς ἡ ἱστορία παρασημαίνεται πρότερον ἐπὶ τῶν ἀλόγων εἰρῆσθαι ταῦτα παρὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ διηγησαμένη͵ ὡς εἴ γε πρὸ τοῦ ἐπιβαλεῖν τῇ φύσει τὴν κατὰ τὸ ἄῤῥεν καὶ θῆλυ διαφοράν͵ τὴν διὰ τῆς φωνῆς ταύτης δύναμιν εἰς τὸ αὐξάνεσθαι τῷ ἀνθρώπῳ προσέθηκεν͵ οὐκ ἂν τοῦ τοιούτου τῆς γεννήσεως εἴδους προσεδεήθημεν͵ δι' οὗ γεννᾶται τὰ ἄλογα. Τούτου τοίνυν προκατανοηθέντος διὰ τῆς προγνωστικῆς ἐνεργείας πληρώματος τῶν ἀνθρώπων͵ διὰ τῆς ζωωδεστέρας γενέσεως ἐπὶ τὴν ζωὴν μέλλοντος παριέναι͵ ὁ τάξει τινὶ καὶ εἱρμῷ διακυβερνῶν τὰ πάντα Θεός͵ ἐπειδὴ ὅλως τὸ τοιοῦτον τῇ ἀνθρωπότητι τῆς γεννήσεως εἶδος ἀναγκαῖον ἐποίησεν ἡ πρὸς τὸ ταπεινὸν τῆς φύσεως ἡμῶν ἐπίκλισις͵ ἣν εἶδε πρὶν γενέσθαι ὁ ἐπίσης τῷ ἐνεστῶτι τὸ μέλλον βλέπων͵ διὰ τοῦτο καὶ τὸν σύμμετρον τῇ κατασκευῇ τῶν ἀνθρώπων χρόνον προκατενόησεν, ὥστε τῇ παρόδῳ τῶν περιορισθεισῶν ψυχῶν συναπαρτισθῆναι τὴν τοῦ χρόνου παράτασιν καὶ τότε στῆναι τὴν ῥοώδη τοῦ χρόνου κίνησιν͵ ὅταν μηκέτι φύηται δι' αὐτοῦ τὸ ἀνθρώπινον, τελεσθείσης δὲ τῆς τῶν ἀνθρώπων γενέσεως͵ τῷ τέλει ταύτης συγκαταλῆξαι τὸν χρόνον καὶ οὕτω τὴν τοῦ παντὸς ἀναστοιχείωσιν γενέσθαι καὶ τῇ μεταβολῇ τοῦ ὅλου συναμειφθῆναι καὶ τὸ ἀνθρώπινον ἀπὸ τοῦ φθαρτοῦ καὶ γεώδους ἐπὶ τὸ ἀπαθὲς καὶ ἀΐδιον.

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

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