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gregory of nyssa on the making of man

Of things existing, part are intellectual, part corporeal. We have already said in what precedes, that this saying was uttered for the destruction of heretical impiety, in order that being instructed that the Only-begotten God made man in the image of God, we should in no wise distinguish the Godhead of the Father and the Son, since Holy Scripture gives to each equally the name of God — to Him Who made man, and to Him in Whose image he was made. In what then does the greatness of man consist, according to the doctrine of the Church? 6. Or do you seek that your judgment on this point should be confirmed by yet other proofs? Hence are produced, as though by some mechanical contrivance, the turnings of the neck, and the bending and raising of the head, and the action of the chin, and the separation of the eyelids, that takes place with a thought, and the movements of the other joints, by the tightening or relaxation of certain nerves. For everything which we conceive among existing things, if it be perfectly that which it is, is also properly called by the name it bears: but of that which is not every respect what it is called, the appellation also is vain. 2. And let no one suppose me to say that the Deity is in touch with existing things in a manner resembling human operation, by means of different faculties. Behind, therefore, it enters the lungs, and, by its continuous motion, drawing that organ to itself, it expands the passages to inhale the air, and compressing them again it brings about the exspiration of the imprisoned air; while in front, attached to the space at the upper extremity of the stomach, it warms it and makes it respond by motion to its own activity, rousing it, not to inhale air, but to receive its appropriate food: for the entrances for breath and food are near one another, extending lengthwise one alongside the other, and are terminated in their upper extremity by the same boundary, so that their mouths are contiguous and the passages come to an end together in one mouth, from which the entrance of food is effected through the one, and that of the breath through the other. But this ordinary seeing of dreams is common to all men, and arises in our fancies in different modes and forms: for either there remain, as we have said, in the reminiscent part of the soul, the echoes of daily occupations; or, as often happens, the constitution of dreams is framed with regard to such and such a condition of the body: for thus the thirsty man seems to be among springs, the man who is in need of food to be at a feast, and the young man in the heat of youthful vigour is beset by fancies corresponding to his passion. And of such a force we understand the heart to be as it were the fountain-head and principle, as from it pipe-like passages, growing one from another in many ramifications, diffuse in the whole body the warm and fiery spirit. 13. It was because he saw this that the serpent points out the evil fruit of sin, not showing the evil manifestly in its own nature (for man would not have been deceived by manifest evil), but giving to what the woman beheld the glamour of a certain beauty, and conjuring into its taste the spell of a sensual pleasure, he appeared to her to speak convincingly: and the woman saw, it says, that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes to behold, and fair to see; and she took of the fruit thereof and did eat , and that eating became the mother of death to men. Contact information. If then the life of those restored is closely related to that of the angels, it is clear that the life before the transgression was a kind of angelic life, and hence also our return to the ancient condition of our life is compared to the angels. These attributes, then, human nature took to itself from the side of the brutes; for those qualities with which brute life was armed for self-preservation, when transferred to human life, became passions; for the carnivorous animals are preserved by their anger, and those which breed largely by their love of pleasure; cowardice preserves the weak, fear that which is easily taken by more powerful animals, and greediness those of great bulk; and to miss anything that tends to pleasure is for the brutes a matter of pain. We ought, then, to conceive that the fruit in Eden was something worthy of God's planting (and Eden is interpreted to mean delight), and not to doubt that man was hereby nourished: nor should we at all conceive, concerning the mode of life in Paradise, this transitory and perishable nutriment: of every tree of the garden, He says, you may freely eat Genesis 2:16 . What will they say to this utterance? And hence is produced the service of the hands, so varied and multiform, and answering to every thought. For surely it is clear to all who are at all keen-sighted what that every tree is whose fruit is life, and what again that mixed tree is whose end is death: for He Who presents ungrudgingly the enjoyment of every tree, surely by some reason and forethought keeps man from participation in those which are of doubtful kind. He accepts without question the science of his day - all physical things being made from the four "elements" - fire, water, earth and air. How then can that which is intelligible be composite? This summer, as the world was thrown into uncertainty by a pandemic and our... Gregory of Nyssa, also known as Gregory Nyssen (c. 335 - c. 395), was bishop of Nyssa from 372 to 376 and from 378 until his death. 6. In most cases, items shipped from may be returned for a full refund. As we saw, however, that the liver has special need of the co-operation of heat for the conversion of the fluids into blood, while this organ is in position distant from the heart (for it would, I imagine, have been impossible that, being one principle or root of the vital power, it should not be hampered by vicinity with another such principle), in order that the system may suffer no injury by the distance at which the heat-giving substance is placed, a muscular passage (and this, by those skilled in such matters, is called the artery) receives the heated air from the heart and conveys it to the liver, making its opening there somewhere beside the point at which the fluids enter, and, as it warms the moist substance by its heat, blends with the liquid something akin to fire, and makes the blood appear red with the fiery tint it produces. Neither, then, should we be troubled at the brief delay of what we hope for, but give diligence that we may not be cast out from the object of our hopes; for just as though, if one were to tell some inexperienced person beforehand, the gathering of the crops will take place in the season of summer, and the stores will be filled, and the table abundantly supplied with food at the time of plenty, it would be a foolish man who should seek to hurry on the coming of the fruit-time, when he ought to be sowing seeds and preparing the crops for himself by diligent care; for the fruit-time will surely come, whether he wishes or not, at the appointed time; and it will be looked on differently by him who has secured for himself beforehand abundance of crops, and by him who is found by the fruit-time destitute of all preparation. Now this force is that which is considered as residing in the cerebral membranes and the brain, from which it comes that every movement of a joint, every contraction of the muscles, every spontaneous influence that is exerted upon the individual members, renders our earthen statue active and mobile as though by some mechanism. Since then we see that of which we are speaking to be warm and operative, we thereby draw the further inference that it is not inanimate; but as, in respect of its corporeal part, we do not say that it is flesh, and bones, and hair, and all that we observe in the human being, but that potentially it is each of these things, yet does not visibly appear to be so; so also of the part which belongs to the soul, the elements of rationality, and desire, and anger, and all the powers of the soul are not yet visible; yet we assert that they have their place in it, and that the energies of the soul also grow with the subject in a manner similar to the formation and perfection of the body. Were not they scattered in different quarters over almost the whole world? 5. But if Daniel and Joseph and others like them were instructed by Divine power, without any confusion of perception, in the knowledge of things to come, this is nothing to the present statement; for no one would ascribe this to the power of dreams, since he will be constrained as a consequence to suppose that those Divine appearances also which took place in wakefulness were not a miraculous vision but a result of nature brought about spontaneously. What then is that which includes the knowledge of good and evil blended together, and is decked with the pleasures of sense? They totally used the lens of the science of their day to interpret things, which makes me think they would have done the same in the modern world]. In truth the Lord seems to me not to have spoken in vain to them of Capernaum, when He said to Himself, as in the person of men, You will surely say unto me this proverb, 'Physician, heal yourself. ' Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa, to his brother Peter, the servant of God. 3. 9. Hence also the apostle recognizes three divisions of dispositions, calling one carnal, which is busied with the belly and the pleasures connected with it, another natural , which holds a middle position with regard to virtue and vice, rising above the one, but without pure participation in the other; and another spiritual, which perceives the perfection of godly life: wherefore he says to the Corinthians, reproaching their indulgence in pleasure and passion, You are carnal 1 Corinthians 3:3, and incapable of receiving the more perfect doctrine; while elsewhere, making a comparison of the middle kind with the perfect, he says, but the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit: for they are foolishness unto him: but he that is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is judged of no man 1 Corinthians 2:14-15 . Thus the hands are shown to be the property of the rational nature, the Creator having thus devised by their means a special advantage for reason. As naturally happens with fire when it is heaped over with chaff, and no breath fans the flame — it neither consumes what lies beside it, nor is entirely quenched, but instead of flame it rises to the air through the chaff in the form of smoke; yet if it should obtain any breath of air, it turns the smoke to flame — in the same way the mind when hidden by the inaction of the senses in sleep is neither able to shine out through them, nor yet is quite extinguished, but has, so to say, a smouldering activity, operating to a certain extent, but unable to operate farther. Where are the defences of the towers? Again, as a musician, when he touches with the plectrum the slackened strings of a lyre, brings out no orderly melody (for that which is not stretched will not sound), but his hand frequently moves skilfully, bringing the plectrum to the position of the notes so far as place is concerned, yet there is no sound, except that he produces by the vibration of the strings a sort of uncertain and indistinct hum; so in sleep the mechanism of the senses being relaxed, the artist is either quite inactive, if the instrument is completely relaxed by satiety or heaviness; or will act slackly and faintly, if the instrument of the senses does not fully admit of the exercise of its art.

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