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Gregory Nazianzen the Theologian Fourth Theological Oration (XXX), On the Son II, Complete

Translated by Ch. Browne and J. Swallow.

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I. Since I have by the power of the Spirit sufficiently overthrown the subtleties and intricacies of the arguments, and already solved in the mass the objections and oppositions drawn from Holy Scripture, with which these sacrilegious robbers of the Bible and thieves of the sense of its contents draw over the multitude to their side, and confuse the way of truth; and that not without clearness, as I believe all candid persons will say; attributing to the Deity the higher and diviner expressions, and the lower and more human to Him Who for us men was the Second Adam, and was God made capable of suffering to strive against sin; yet we have not yet gone through the passages in detail, because of the haste of our argument. But since you demand of us a brief explanation of each of them, that you may not be carried away by the plausibilities of their arguments, we will therefore state the explanations summarily, dividing them into numbers for the sake of carrying them more easily in mind.

II. In their eyes the following is only too ready to hand "The Lord created me at the beginning of His ways with a view to His works." [3595] How shall we meet this? Shall we bring an accusation against Solomon, or reject his former words because of his fall in after-life? Shall we say that the words are those of Wisdom herself, as it were of Knowledge and the Creator-word, in accordance with which all things were made? For Scripture often personifies many even lifeless objects; as for instance, "The Sea said" [3596] so and so; and, "The Depth saith, It is not in me;" [3597] and "The Heavens declare the glory of God;" [3598] and again a command is given to the Sword; [3599] and the Mountains and Hills are asked the reason of their skipping. [3600] We do not allege any of these, though some of our predecessors used them as powerful arguments. But let us grant that the expression is used of our Saviour Himself, the true Wisdom. Let us consider one small point together. What among all things that exist is unoriginate? The Godhead. For no one can tell the origin of God, that otherwise would be older than God. But what is the cause of the Manhood, which for our sake God assumed? It was surely our Salvation. What else could it be? Since then we find here clearly both the Created and the Begetteth Me, the argument is simple. Whatever we find joined with a cause we are to refer to the Manhood, but all that is absolute and unoriginate we are to reckon to the account of His Godhead. Well, then, is not this "Created" said in connection with a cause? He created Me, it so says, as the beginning of His ways, with a view to his works. Now, the Works of His Hands are verity and judgment; [3601] for whose sake He was anointed with Godhead; [3602] for this anointing is of the Manhood; but the "He begetteth Me" is not connected with a cause; or it is for you to shew the adjunct. What argument then will disprove that Wisdom is called a creature, in connection with the lower generation, but Begotten in respect of the first and more incomprehensible?

[3595] Prov. viii. 22. The A.V. has in the place Possessed, and this has very high authority: but the Hebrew word in almost every case signifies to Acquire. It is used, says Bp. Wordsworth (ad h. l.), about eighty times in the O.T., and in only five places is it rendered in our Translation by Possess;—in two of which (Gen. xiv. 10, 22, and Ps. cxxxix. 13) it might well have the sense of Creating, and in two (Jer. xxxii. 15, and Zech. xi. 5) of Getting. In some ancient Versions (LXX. and Syr.) it is rendered by Create. S. Jerome in his Ep. ad Cypr. (ii. 697) says that the word may here be understood of possession, but in his Comm. on Ephes. ii. (p. 342) he adopts the rendering Create, which he applies to the Incarnation, as in several places does S. Athanasius. But Wordsworth thinks it better to apply the words to the Eternal Generation, as S. Hilary expounds it (c. Arianos, who argued from it that Christ was a creature); "quia Filius Dei non corporalis parturitionis est genitus exemplo, sed ex perfecto Deo perfectus Deus natus; et ideo ait creatam se esse Sapientia; omnem in generatione sua notionem passionis corporalis excludens."

[3596] Is. xxiii. 4.

[3597] Job xxviii. 14.

[3598] Ps. xix. 1.

[3599] Zech. xiii. 7.

[3600] Ps. cxiv. 6.

[3601] Ps. cxi. 7.

[3602] Ps. xiv. 7.

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