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Physis : World Creation  

Gregory of Nyssa : THE MAKING OF MAN

An Argument Against Those Who Say that Matter is Co-Eternal with God

Patrologia Graeca 44.212-3  * Greek Fonts


OR after all that opinion on the subject of matter does not turn out to be beyond what appears consistent, which declares that it has its existence from Him Who is intelligible and immaterial. For we shall find all matter to be composed of certain qualities, of which if it is divested it can, in itself, be by no means grasped by idea. Moreover in idea each kind of quality is separated from the substratum; but idea is an intellectual and not a corporeal method of examination. If, for instance, some animal or tree is presented to our notice, or any other of the things that have material existence, we perceive in our mental discussion of it many things concerning the substratum, the idea of each of which is clearly distinguished from the object we contemplate: for the idea of colour is one, of weight another; so again that of quantity and of such and such a peculiar quality of touch: for "softness," and "two cubits long," and the rest of the attributes we spoke of, are not connected in idea either with one another or with the body: each of them has conceived concerning it its own explanatory definition according to its being, having nothing in common with any other of the qualities that are contemplated in the substratum.


Ἀντίῤῥησις πρὸς τοὺς λέγοντας συναΐδιον εἶναι τῷ Θεῷ τὴν ὕλην

Οὐδὲ γὰρ ἔξω τῶν κατὰ τὸ ἀκόλουθον εὑρισκομένων ἡ περὶ τῆς ὕλης ὑπόληψις φαίνεται͵ ἡ ἐκ τοῦ νοητοῦ τε καὶ ἀΰλου ταύτην ὑποστῆναι πρεσβεύουσα· πᾶσαν γὰρ εὑρήσομεν ἐκ ποιοτήτων τινῶν συνεστῶσαν τὴν ὕλην͵ ὧν εἰ γυμνωθείη καθ' ἑαυτὴν͵ οὐδαμοῦ τῷ λόγῳ καταληφθήσεται. Ἀλλὰ μὴν ἕκαστον ποιότητος εἶδος λόγῳ τοῦ ὑποκειμένου χωρίζεται. Ὁ δὲ λόγος νοητή τίς ἐστι καὶ οὐχὶ σωματικὴ θεωρία. Οἷον͵ προκειμένου ζώου τινὸς ἢ ξύλου τῇ θεωρίᾳ ἤ τινος ἄλλου τῶν ὑλικὴν ἐχόντων τὴν σύστασιν͵ πολλὰ περὶ τὸ ὑποκείμενον τῇ κατ' ἐπίνοιαν διαιρέσει κατενοήσαμεν͵ ὧν ἑκάστου πρὸς τὸ συνθεωρούμενον [213] ἀμίκτως ὁ λόγος ἔχει. Ἕτερος γὰρ ὁ τοῦ χρώματος͵ καὶ ἕτερος τοῦ βάρους ὁ λόγος͵ ὁ τῆς ποσότητος πάλιν καὶ ὁ τῆς ποιᾶς κατὰ τὴν ἀφὴν ἰδιότητος. Ἥ τε γὰρ μαλακότης καὶ τὸ δίπηχυ καὶ τὰ λοιπὰ τῶν εἰρημένων͵ οὔτε ἀλλήλοις͵ οὔτε τῷ σώματι κατὰ τὸν λόγον συμφέρεται. Ἑκάστου γὰρ τούτων ἴδιος͵ καθ' ὅ ἐστιν͵ ὁ ἑρμηνευτικὸς ὅρος ἐπινοεῖται͵ οὐδὲν ἐπικοινωνῶν ἄλλῃ τινὶ τῶν περὶ τὸ ὑποκείμενον θεωρουμένων ποιότητι.

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

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