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St Gregory of Nyssa On the Faith, Complete

Translated by W. Moore and H. A. Wilson

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As, therefore, being the Word, He was for our sakes made flesh, and as, being God, He was made man, so also, being the Creator, He was made for our sakes a creature; for the flesh is created. As, then, He said by the prophet, "Thus saith the Lord, He that formed me from the womb to be His servant [1330] ;" so He said also by Solomon, "The Lord created me as the beginning of His ways, for His works [1331] ." For all creation, as the Apostle says, is in servitude [1332] . Therefore both He Who was formed in the Virgin's womb, according to the word of the prophet, is the servant, and not the Lord (that is to say, the man according to the flesh, in whom God was manifested), and also, in the other passage, He Who was created as the beginning of His ways is not God, but the man in whom God was manifested to us for the renewing again of the ruined way of man's salvation. So that, since we recognize two things in Christ, one Divine, the other human (the Divine by nature, but the human in the Incarnation), we accordingly claim for the Godhead that which is eternal, and that which is created we ascribe to His human nature. For as, according to the prophet, He was formed in the womb as a servant, so also, according to Solomon, He was manifested in the flesh by means of this servile creation. But when they say, "if He was, He was not begotten, and if He was begotten He was not," let them learn that it is not fitting to ascribe to His Divine nature the attributes which belong to His fleshly origin [1333] . For bodies which do not exist, are generated, and God makes those things to be which are not, but does not Himself come into being from that which is not. And for this reason also Paul calls Him "the brightness of glory [1334] ," that we may learn that as the light from the lamp is of the nature of that which sheds the brightness, and is united with it (for as soon as the lamp appears the light that comes from it shines out simultaneously), so in this place the Apostle would have us consider both that the Son is of the Father, and that the Father is never without the Son; for it is impossible that glory should be without radiance, as it is impossible that the lamp should be without brightness. But it is clear that as His being brightness is a testimony to His being in relation with the glory (for if the glory did not exist, the brightness shed from it would not exist), so, to say that the brightness "once was not [1335] " is a declaration that the glory also was not, when the brightness was not; for it is impossible that the glory should be without the brightness. As therefore it is not possible to say in the case of the brightness, "If it was, it did not come into being, and if it came into being it was not," so it is in vain to say this of the Son, seeing that the Son is the brightness. Let those also who speak of "less" and "greater," in the case of the Father and the Son, learn from Paul not to measure things immeasurable.

[1330] Is. xlix. 5.

[1331] Prov. viii. 28.

[1332] Cf. Rom. viii. 21. This clause is omitted in the Paris editions.

[1333] Reading geneseos with Oehler. The Paris editions read genneseos: but Oehler's reading seems to give a better sense.

[1334] Heb. i. 3.

[1335] Reading with Oehler pote for the te of the Paris Edit.

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