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Physis : World Creation  

Gregory of Nyssa : THE MAKING OF MAN

That the Nature of Man is More Precious Than All the Visible Creation

Patrologia Graeca 44.133-6  * Greek Fonts


UT it is right that we should not leave this point without consideration, that while the world, great as it is, and its parts, are laid as an elemental foundation for the formation of the universe, the creation is, so to say, made offhand by the Divine power, existing at once on His command, while counsel precedes the making of man; and that which is to be is fore-shown by the Maker in verbal description, and of what kind it is fitting that it should be, and to what archetype it is fitting that it should bear a likeness, and for what it shall be made, and what its operation shall be when it is made, and of what it shall be the ruler, wall these things the saying examines beforehand, so that he has a rank assigned him before his genesis, and possesses rule over the things that are before his coming into being; for it says, "God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and the beasts of the earth, and the fowls of the heaven, and the cattle, and all the earth."

O marvellous! a sun is made, and no counsel precedes; a heaven likewise; and to these no single thing in creation is equal. So great a wonder is formed by a word alone, and the saying indicates neither when, nor how, nor any such detail. So too in all particular cases, the aether, the stars, the intermediate air, the sea, the earth, the animals, the plants,-all are brought into being with a word, while only to the making of man does the Maker of all draw near with circumspection, so as to prepare beforehand for him material for his formation, and to liken his form to an archetypal beauty, and, setting before him a mark for which he is to come into being, to make for him a nature appropriate and allied to the operations, and suitable for the object in hand.

Ὅτι τιμιωτέρα πάσης τῆς φαινομένης κτίσεως ἡ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου φύσις

Ἄξιον δὲ μηδὲ τοῦτο παριδεῖν ἀθεώρητον͵ ὅτι τοῦ τηλικούτου κόσμου καὶ τῶν κατ' αὐτὸν μερῶν στοιχειωδῶς πρὸς τὴν τοῦ παντὸς σύστασιν ὑποβληθέντων͵ ἀποσχεδιάζεταί πως ἡ κτίσις ὑπὸ τῆς θείας δυνάμεως ὁμοῦ τῷ προστάγματι ὑφισταμένη. Τῆς δὲ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου κατασκευῆς βουλὴ προηγεῖται καὶ προτυποῦται παρὰ τοῦ τεχνιτεύοντος διὰ τῆς τοῦ λόγου γραφῆς τὸ ἐσόμενον͵ καὶ οἷον εἶναι προσήκει καὶ πρὸς ποῖον ἀρχέτυπον τὴν ὁμοιότητα φέρειν καὶ ἐπὶ τίνι γενήσεται καὶ τί ἐνεργήσει γενόμενον καὶ τίνων ἡγεμονεύσει· πάντα προδιασκοπεῖται ὁ λόγος͵ ὡς πρεσβυτέραν αὐτὸν τῆς γενέσεως τὴν ἀξίαν λαχεῖν͵ πρὶν παρελθεῖν εἰς τὸ εἶναι τὴν τῶν ὄντων ἡγεμονίαν κτησάμενον. Εἶπε γάρ͵ φησίν͵ ὁ Θεός͵ Ποιήσωμεν ἄνθρωπον κατ' εἰκόνα ἡμετέραν καὶ ὁμοίωσιν͵ καὶ ἀρχέτωσαν τῶν ἰχθύων τῆς θαλάσσης καὶ τῶν θηρίων τῆς γῆς καὶ τῶν πετεινῶν τοῦ οὐρανοῦ καὶ τῶν κτηνῶν καὶ πάσης τῆς γῆς.

Ὢ τοῦ θαύματος· ἥλιος κατασκευάζεται καὶ οὐδεμία προηγεῖται βουλή· οὐρανὸς ὡσαύτως͵ ὧν οὐδέν τι τῶν κατὰ τὴν κτίσιν ἴσον ἐστί͵ [136] ῥήματι μόνῳ τὸ τοιοῦτον θαῦμα συνίσταται͵ οὔτε ὅθεν͵ οὔτε ὅπως͵ οὔτε ἄλλο τι τοιοῦτον παρασημηναμένου τοῦ λόγου. Οὕτω καὶ τὰ καθ' ἕκαστον πάντα͵ αἰθήρ͵ ἀστέρες͵ ὁ διὰ μέσου ἀήρ͵ θάλαττα͵ γῆ͵ ζῶα͵ φυτά͵ πάντα λόγῳ πρὸς γένεσιν ἄγεται. Μόνῃ δὲ τῇ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου κατασκευῇ περιεσκεμμένως πρόσεισιν ὁ τοῦ παντὸς ποιητής͵ ὡς καὶ ὕλην αὐτῷ τῆς συστάσεως προετοιμάσαι καὶ ἀρχετύπῳ τινὶ κάλλει τὴν μορφὴν ὁμοιῶσαι καὶ προθέντα τὸν σκοπόν͵ οὗ χάριν γενήσεται͵ κατάλληλον αὐτῷ καὶ οἰκείαν ταῖς ἐνεργείαις δημιουργῆσαι τὴν φύσιν͵ ἐπιτηδείως πρὸς τὸ προκείμενον ἔχουσαν.

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

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