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Three Millennia of Greek Literature
Physis : World Creation  

Gregory of Nyssa : THE MAKING OF MAN

Why Man's Form is Upright; And that Hands Were Given Him Because of Reason; Wherein Also is a Speculation on the Difference of Souls

Patrologia Graeca 44.144-9  * Greek Fonts


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We might make a division of our subject in some such way as this. Of things existing, part are intellectual, part corporeal. Let us leave alone for the present the division of the intellectual according to its properties, for our argument is not concerned with these. Of the corporeal, part is entirely devoid of life, and part shares in vital energy. Of a living body, again, part has sense conjoined with life, and part is without sense: lastly, that which has sense is again divided into rational and irrational. For this reason the lawgiver says that after inanimate matter (as a sort of foundation for the form of animate things), this vegetative life was made, and had earlier existence in the growth of plants: then he proceeds to introduce the genesis of those creatures which are regulated by sense: and since, following the same order, of those things which have obtained life in the flesh, those which have sense can exist by themselves even apart from the intellectual nature, while the rational principle could not be embodied save as blended with the sensitive,-for this reason man was made last after the animals, as nature advanced in an orderly course to perfection. For this rational animal, man, is blended of every form of soul; he is nourished by the vegetative kind of soul, and to the faculty of growth was added that of sense, which stands midway, if we regard its peculiar nature, between the intellectual and the more material essence being as much coarser than the one as it is more refined than the other: then takes place a certain alliance and commixture of the intellectual essence with the subtle and enlightened element of the sensitive nature: so that man consists of these three: as we are taught the like thing by the apostle in what he says to the Ephesians , praying for them that the complete grace of their "body and soul and spirit" may be preserved at the coming of the Lord; using, the word "body" for the nutritive part, and denoting the sensitive by the word "soul," and the intellectual by "spirit." Likewise too the Lord instructs the scribe in the Gospel that he should set before every commandment that love to God which is exercised with all the heart and soul and mind : for here also it seems to me that the phrase indicates the same difference, naming the more corporeal existence "heart," the intermediate "soul," and the higher nature, the intellectual and mental faculty, "mind."

Γένοιτο δ' ἂν ἡμῖν τοιαύτη τις ἡ τοῦ λόγου διαίρεσις· Τῶν ὄντων τὸ μέν τι νοητόν͵ τὸ δὲ σωματικὸν πάντως ἐστίν. Ἀλλὰ τοῦ μὲν νοητοῦ παρείσθω νῦν ἡ πρὸς τὰ οἰκεῖα τομή· οὐ γὰρ τούτων ὁ λόγος. Τοῦ δὲ σωματικοῦ τὸ μὲν ἄμοιρον καθόλου ζωῆς͵ τὸ δὲ μετέχει ζωτικῆς ἐνεργείας. Πάλιν τοῦ ζωτικοῦ σώματος τὸ μὲν αἰσθήσει συζῇ͵ τὸ δὲ ἀμοιρεῖ τῆς αἰσθήσεως. Εἶτα τὸ αἰσθητικὸν τέμνεται πάλιν εἰς λογικόν τε καὶ ἄλογον. Διὰ τοῦτο πρῶτον μετὰ τὴν ἄψυχον ὕλην οἷον ὑποβάθραν τινὰ τῆς τῶν ἐμψύχων ἰδέας τὴν φυσικὴν ταύτην ζωὴν συστῆναι λέγει ὁ νομοθέτης͵ ἐν τῇ τῶν φυτῶν βλάστῃ προϋποστᾶσαν· εἶθ' οὕτως ἐπάγει τῶν κατ' αἴσθησιν διοικουμένων τὴν γένεσιν. Καὶ ἐπειδὴ κατὰ τὴν αὐτὴν ἀκολουθίαν τῶν διὰ σαρκὸς τὴν ζωὴν εἰληχότων τὰ μὲν αἰσθητικὰ καὶ δίχα τῆς νοερᾶς φύσεως ἐφ' ἑαυτῶν εἶναι δύναται͵ τὸ δὲ λογικὸν οὐκ ἂν ἑτέρως γένοιτο ἐν σώματι͵ εἰ μὴ τῷ αἰσθητῷ συγκραθείη· διὰ τοῦτο τελευταῖος μετὰ τὰ βλαστήματα καὶ τὰ βοτὰ κατεσκευάσθη ὁ ἄνθρωπος͵ ὁδῷ τινι πρὸς τὸ τέλειον ἀκολούθως προϊούσης τῆς φύσεως. Διὰ πάσης γὰρ ἰδέας τῶν ψυχῶν κατακιρνᾶται τὸ λογικὸν τοῦτο ζῶον ὁ ἄνθρωπος. Τρέφεται μὲν γὰρ κατὰ τὸ φυσικὸν τῆς ψυχῆς εἶδος, τῇ δὲ αὐξητικῇ δυνάμει ἡ αἰσθητικὴ προσεφύη͵ μέσως ἔχουσα κατὰ τὴν ἰδίαν φύσιν τῆς τε νοερᾶς καὶ τῆς ὑλωδεστέρας οὐσίας, τοσούτῳ παχυμερεστέρα ταύτης͵ ὅσῳ καθαρωτέρα ἐκείνης. Εἶτά τις γίνεται πρὸς τὸ λεπτὸν καὶ φωτοειδὲς τῆς αἰσθητικῆς φύσεως ἡ τῆς νοερᾶς οὐσίας οἰκείωσίς τε καὶ ἀνάκρασις͵ ὡς ἐν τρισὶ τούτοις τὸν ἄνθρωπον τὴν σύστασιν ἔχειν, καθὼς καὶ παρὰ τοῦ Ἀποστόλου τὸ τοιοῦτον ἐμάθομεν͵ ἐν οἷς πρὸς τοὺς Ἐφεσίους ἔφη͵ προσευχόμενος αὐτοῖς τὴν ὁλοτελῆ χάριν τοῦ σώματος καὶ τῆς ψυχῆς καὶ τοῦ πνεύματος ἐν τῇ παρουσίᾳ τοῦ Κυρίου φυλαχθῆναι͵ ἀντὶ τοῦ θρεπτικοῦ μέρους τὸ σῶμα λέγων͵ τὸ δὲ αἰσθητικὸν τῇ ψυχῇ διασημαίνων͵ τὸ νοερὸν δὲ τῷ πνεύματι. Ὡσαύτως καὶ τὸν γραμματέα διὰ τοῦ Εὐαγγελίου παιδεύει ὁ Κύριος πάσης ἐντολῆς προτιθέναι τὴν εἰς Θεὸν ἀγάπην͵ τὴν ἐξ ὅλης καρδίας καὶ ψυχῆς καὶ διανοίας ἐνεργουμένην. Καὶ γὰρ ἐνταῦθα τὴν αὐτὴν δοκεῖ μοι διαφορὰν ἑρμηνεύειν ὁ λόγος͵ τὴν μὲν σωματικωτέραν κατάστασιν καρδίαν εἰπών͵ ψυχὴν δὲ τὴν μέσην͵ διάνοιαν δὲ τὴν ὑψηλοτέραν φύσιν͵ τὴν [148] νοεράν τε καὶ ποιητικὴν δύναμιν.

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

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