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St Gregory of Nyssa On the Faith, Complete

Translated by W. Moore and H. A. Wilson

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For the Apostle says that the Son is the express image of the Person of the Father [1336] . It is clear then that however great the Person of the Father is, so great also is the express image of that Person; for it is not possible that the express image should be less than the Person contemplated in it. And this the great John also teaches when he says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God [1337] ." For in saying that he was "in the beginning" and not "after the beginning," he showed that the beginning was never without the Word; and in declaring that "the Word was with God," he signified the absence of defect in the Son in relation to the Father; for the Word is contemplated as a whole together with the whole being of God. For if the Word were deficient in His own greatness so as not to be capable of relation with the whole being of God, we are compelled to suppose that that part of God which extends beyond the Word is without the Word. But in fact the whole magnitude of the Word is contemplated together with the whole magnitude of God: and consequently in statements concerning the Divine nature, it is not admissible to speak of "greater" and "less."

As for those who say that the begotten is in its nature unlike the unbegotten, let them learn from the example of Adam and Abel not to talk nonsense. For Adam himself was not begotten according to the natural generation of men; but Abel was begotten of Adam. Now, surely, he who was never begotten is called unbegotten, and he who came into being by generation is called begotten [1338] ; yet the fact that he was not begotten did not hinder Adam from being a man, nor did the generation of Abel make him at all different from man's nature, but both the one and the other were men, although the one existed by being begotten, and the other without generation. So in the case of our statements as to the Divine nature, the fact of not being begotten, and that of being begotten, produce no diversity of nature, but, just as in the case of Adam and Abel the manhood is one, so is the Godhead one in the case of the Father and the Son.

Now touching the Holy Spirit also the blasphemers make the same statement as they do concerning the Lord, saying that He too is created. But the Church believes, as concerning the Son, so equally concerning the Holy Spirit, that He is uncreated, and that the whole creation becomes good by participation in the good which is above it, while the Holy Spirit needs not any to make Him good (seeing that He is good by virtue of His nature, as the Scripture testifies) [1339] ; that the creation is guided by the Spirit, while the Spirit gives guidance; that the creation is governed, while the Spirit governs; that the creation is comforted, while the Spirit comforts; that the creation is in bondage, while the Spirit gives freedom; that the creation is made wise, while the Spirit gives the grace of wisdom; that the creation partakes of the gifts, while the Spirit bestows them at His pleasure: "For all these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will [1340] ." [1336] Heb. i. 3.

[1337] S. John i. 1

[1338] Inserting with Oehler the clause, kai ho gennetheis gennetos, which is not in the text of the Paris Editt, though a corresponding clause appears in the Latin translation.

[1339] The reference may be to Ps. cxliii. 10.

[1340] 1 Cor. xii. 11.

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