A COMPARISON OF BASIL OF CAESAREA AND
GREGORY OF NYSSA ON THE
SUBMITTED TO THE FACULTY OF
LOS GATOS, CALIFORNIA
IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE
MASTER OF DIVINITY
Note: Greek and Hebrew words in this browser-based version of this thesis have been transliterated into English. Copyright (c) 1997 by Stu Parsons All rights reserved
This thesis seeks to identify similarities and differences in argumentation in the two creation week commentaries. It also seeks to distinguish philosophical, hermeneutical, and theological factors which may have produced these similarities and differences.
The Hexaemeron by Saint Basil the Great contains nine homilies about Genesis chapter one. The title "Hexaemeron" refers to the six days of creation. It consists of majestic commentary on the creation week, yet comparatively little commentary about the creation of man. On the Making of Man is traditionally ascribed to Basil's brother, Gregory of Nyssa. According to its opening pages, the purpose of On the Making of Man is to fill the void in the Hexaemeron caused by its sparse discussion of the creation of man. Basil wrote the Hexaemeron shortly before his death, and Gregory probably wrote On the Making of Man soon after.
Since On the Making of Man is intended as an addition to the Hexaemeron, to complete the exposition of Gen. 1:1-2:3, it has similar genre and subject matter. Both works reveal much about fourth century homiletical practices, hermeneutic and philosophic influences, and Cappadocian theology. To gain a broad view of such influences and themes, a comparison of the two works is useful.
Chapters three, four, and five compare and contrast the Hexaemeron and On the Making of Man in light of fourth century philosophy, hermeneutics, and theology. Chapter three discusses the aims, audiences, and choice of argumentation of the Hexaemeron and On the Making of Man. Chapter four examines philosophical influences in the two works. Chapter five draws conclusions based on the patterns identified in chapters three and four.
Philip Rousseau has written a definitive biography of Basil. In it, he points out Basil's "logic of admiration." The Arian Eunomius had argued that before the Father made Jesus "Lord and Christ," Jesus was less than divine. Basil had answered such arguments partly by asserting that human language and logic are inherently unable to accurately define the actual essence of God. But people can reach beyond the limitations of human logic observing the power of God in the natural world. From such observation of divine wisdom and power comes insight regarding God. Where human logic ends, this "logic of admiration" may yet penetrate further. The Neo-Platonists of the fourth century held that the essence of God is perceived not by logical deduction, but only in fleeting mystical glimpses. They could readily agree with Basil's assertion that human logic is inadequate to define the essence of God. The section below, entitled "Diastema Motivating Basil's Exposition," argues that such ideas influenced Basil's choice of argumentation in the Hexaemeron.
"The Platonism of Gregory of Nyssa," by Cherniss, identifies specific Platonic and Neo-Platonic ideas in Gregory. Gregorios presents the Neo-Platonic diastehma concept in the theology of Gregory.
Rist points out that older literature concerning the Platonism of the Cappadocians, even including much of the standard literature, fails to make clear distinctions between Platonism, Middle Platonism, and Neo-Platonism. In terms of understanding such distinctions, An Introduction to Ancient Philosophy, by Armstrong, has been very helpful, since it presents a detailed analysis of the historical development of the three philosophies.
In this thesis, the insensible world refers not to a realm lacking rationality, but to the Greek idea of the heavenly realm, the immaterial realm beyond the reach of the senses, that can only be perceived via logical deduction (according to Aristotle), or via fleeting mystical revelation (according to Plotinus). And likewise, the sensible realm is the material universe, the world that can be seen, heard, and touched.
The phrase divine simplicity in this thesis should not be assumed to refer to an ignorant, simple-minded, or shallow deity. Divine simplicity is that idea of Plotinus, and of the Pythagoreans before him, that the highest being is transcendent, and absolutely beyond human perception. God is so far beyond human perception that no attributes can be ascribed whatsoever. So God appears utterly simple. We can only know what God is not, we are utterly unable accurately to describe or know what God is. Plotinus called God "The One," and viewed Him as beyond even being itself, the perfect unity out of which all differentiation and inferior entities emanated. A more elaborate description of such ideas is given in the section describing philosophical currents.
A related Neo-Platonic term frequently mentioned in this thesis is diastema. Although this term is more fully considered in the discussion of ancient philosophy, a brief introduction is in order here. Diastema means "extension" or "separation." In Neo-Platonism, The One is pure unity, without attribute or differentiation. But all reality and existence emanates out of The One. So things that have differentiation, attributes, and extension are inferior things whose existence derives ultimately from The One. And these inferior entities are apart from The One. The One is eternal, and pure, and without any trace of diastema. Diastema is an aspect of the emanated entities, and it is the cause of the limitations of time and distance in the physical world. Time and space limit man's access to the heavenly realm. God is eternal, and comprehends things of eternity as well as the things of the physical and temporal realm. But man is not able to comprehend the things of the eternal realm, since man cannot overcome the limitations of time and space. In a sense, man and the rest of the physical realm have been extended out of, and separated from the pure unity of The One. Diastema creates a wall beyond which physical beings cannot penetrate.
Both the Hexaemeron and On the Making of Man contain many allusions to scientific ideas of the fourth century. While this study occasionally discusses these scientific understandings, no attempt is made to survey or comprehensively analyze the science of Basil and Gregory. Fourth century science is considered mainly in relation to the argumentation methodology of the Cappadocians.
Heraclitus (sixth century B.C.) was the first to speak of "The Logos" (ho logos). He used "God" and "Logos" as equivalent terms. He asserted an overall order in the universe. Heraclitus noticed that matter generally possesses a certain density. By contrast, fire seems to have no density at all. Furthermore, fire is constantly changing. For Heraclitus, these two qualities liken fire to the action of thought. On this basis, Heraclitus asserted that fire is the physical manifestation of The Logos. To Heraclitus, The Logos produces a tension between opposites, so that the cosmos is kept in balance. This cosmic tension is sometimes static, like the stays which keep sailboat masts erect. In other instances, the cosmic tension is a dynamic tension, alternately ebbing and flowing. For instance, year after year, winter approaches and grows ever stronger, but then weakens and finally gives way to summer. Lest coldness overwhelm the land, summer brings warmth. And lest heat overwhelm the land, winter brings coolness. Here are two opposing forces that maintain climatic balance. These ideas of Heraclitus influenced Epicurus and the Stoics four centuries later.
In the fifth century B.C., Empedocles formulated the four element theory, which was accepted throughout the Greek world. In his view, the world is composed of four elements: earth, water, air, and fire. These are acted upon by two forces, Love and Hate. Love serves to combine the elements, and Hate serves to separate them.
Plato believed in an ultimate intelligence in the universe, whom he termed, "The One" (Ho Heis), "The Divine Unity" (Henotes), and often, "The Good" (To Agathon). Plato integrates The Good with his theory of Forms when he asserts that The Good is the primary Form. Because Plato believed that The Good is the ultimate intelligence in the cosmos, his disciples often referred to The Good as "The Mind" (Ho Nous). The Greek gods in Platonic thought are beings subordinate to The Mind. The Greek gods are one means of connection between the sensible and insensible world. But the primary connection between the world of the Forms and the sensible world is an entity called "The Soul" (he psuche). In Platonic thought, the world of Forms is static and changeless, while the sensible world is ever-changing. The Soul causes the physical world to "live" in this sense that it is ever-changing.
Plato held that a Craftsman (Demiourgos), a being subordinate to the Good, was the direct creator of the cosmos. The Craftsman used the world of the Forms as his plan for creation. The significance of this is that while the Craftsman fashioned the sensible world, he did not create the Forms, which serve as the patterns for everything in the sensible world. And so the Forms were prior to the sensible world.
In Platonic thought the Forms are static and unchanging. The world of the Forms is an eternal and timeless world. Time itself was created by the Craftsman. Plato wrote in Timaeus, "Time in fact came into being together with the heavens."
The Supreme Good can be known through reason, specifically by making syllogistic deductions. By understanding the principles behind particular instances of things, wisdom and knowledge are gained. The Supreme Good is fully capable of being known in a rational way, according to Aristotle. He wrote concerning the use of syllogism in order to understand the influence of the Supreme Good:
What are most knowable are first principles and causes, for it is through and from these that other things are known, and not they through the particulars falling under them. The most authoritative science, reigning supreme over the subsidiary, is that which knows for what purposes every act takes place, i.e. the final cause, the good in each particular instance, and in general, the summum bonum in nature as a whole.
While Aristotle held that the Supreme Good could be known fully via reason, he also viewed the Supreme Good to be utterly transcendent. The Supreme Good is the "Unmoved Mover" (kinoue akinoue auton) who is remote and unconcerned about creation.
Aristotle expressed the four element theory of Empedocles in a looser manner. He preferred to speak of characteristic qualities of earth, water, air, and fire, namely dry, wet, cold, and hot. Aristotle also asserted that a fifth element, ether, composes the heavenly bodies.
A major tenet of Stoicism is that there is an overall harmony and rationality in the universe. This overall harmony is produced by The Logos, for The Logos is a rational entity which creates every form of order. The Logos governs the cosmos, so that the universe operates in an orderly manner. Just as the human brain regulates the body, so The Logos regulates the universe. In fact, the Stoics viewed man as a microcosm of the universe, each person having a "seminal principle" (spermatikos logos) within. The seminal principle in each person is a little logos which governs the body, just as The Logos governs the universe as a whole.
Man is viewed as being a microcosm of the universe not only because of having a seminal principle within, but also because man grows and develops. To the Stoic the cosmos constantly grows and develops. It emanates out of The Logos, develops in a rational manner under the influence of The Logos, and eventually returns to the Logos in conflagration. Likewise, man grows and develops, in a rational way, under the direction of the seminal principle within. Indeed, all parts of the universe grow and develop rationally, each under the direction of its own seminal principle.
Plato had asserted that all things in the physical universe are patterned after their Forms. And the Forms are not located within particular physical entities, but without. For the Forms are not in the physical world at all. The Forms are in the insensible world. Such ideas offended the Stoics. If anything appears to be orderly, it is because there is a logos within, which creates its order. And for the universe as a whole, overall order is established by The Logos. While The Logos is at the top of the cosmic hierarchy, The Logos is also embodied in the physical universe itself. The Stoics believed in a unified and harmonious cosmos, and denied the Platonic concept of two separate worlds, one sensible and one insensible.
For the Stoic, rationality governs the various components of the cosmos in various degrees. Lower forms of matter have a passive rationality that merely provides them with a common consistency (hexsis). But they lack an active seminal principle which would allow them to grow and develop, or even to operate actively in the universe. Lower forms of life have this governing principle, and so are able to grow. Man is an even more rational life form, and so he has an even higher seminal principle, namely human reason. Thus, there is a hierarchy of logoi in the cosmos. At the top of this hierarchy is The Logos.
Because of the Stoic logos concept, the Stoics valued order and reason. And so their system of ethics stressed the need to follow the dictates of reason. Passion was to be avoided. The Stoics endeavored to share in the harmony of the universe by conforming to reason, for they believed that The Logos is the source of all harmony. And by nature The Logos is rational.
In Platonism, the Greek gods were viewed as lesser beings below the "Good." Likewise in Stoicism the gods are lesser beings below The Logos. But since the Stoics viewed fire to be the physical manifestation of reason, they believed that the sun, planets, and stars must be heavenly gods, high in the cosmic hierarchy, visibly blazing in their rationality.
During the second century B.C., Stoicism lost two of its distinctive ideas, and adopted Platonic concepts instead. First, Stoics abandoned the idea of conflagration. In place of cosmic conflagration, Stoics adopted the Platonic view that the cosmos is eternal. Second, under the teaching of Posidonius, Stoicism accepted Plato's idea that the soul consists of appetitive and emotional portions, as well as a rational portion. This new belief changed the Stoic lifestyle. Where the older Stoics maintained that human passions must be completely denied, Stoics now maintained that passions have a valid role, only they must be controlled.
But Middle Platonism was greatly influenced by Stoicism. The Greek philosophers remained faithful to their schools of thought, and because of this, Platonism, Stoicism, Pythagoreanism, and the other schools continued to exist side by side as distinct schools. But the Greek educated classes were typically eclectic. These educated Greeks tended to adopt various ideas from the different schools of philosophy, and did not necessarily commit themselves exclusively to a particular school. Through the educated classes, certain features from all of the schools became part of the intellectual coinage of the day. Platonic ideas became especially wide-spread. Because of this, some later Stoics adopted Plato's Forms into Stoicism, viewing them as the thoughts of The Logos. And in turn, later Stoicism influenced Middle Platonism. Early Platonism had viewed The Mind as simply the most primary Form. But Middle Platonism was influenced by the late Stoic idea that the Forms are the thoughts of The Logos, and so it held that the Forms are the thoughts of The Mind.
Another Stoic element in Middle Platonism is the idea of the universe as macrocosm. Plato had conceived of The Mind as the primary Form, the source of everything else. Soul was an entity which was emanated by The Mind, and which served as the connection between the world of the Forms and the sensible world. However, the Stoics had denied the existence of the insensible world. They did not think of the cosmos as having two parts, one sensible and one insensible. Rather, they thought of the cosmos as one harmonious, integrated being. This "living cosmos" grows and develops, just as humans do. The Middle Platonists came to accept these ideas of cosmic macrocosm and cosmic development. And they integrated these ideas into Platonism by holding that the cosmos undergoes development. They also asserted that the cosmos is made alive by The Soul, just as the Stoics believed that the cosmos is made alive by The Logos.
Middle Platonism also was influenced by Aristotelianism. Aristotle viewed The Supreme Good as being utterly transcendent, and unconcerned about the universe. Because of this idea Middle Platonism similarly held The Mind to be extremely transcendent. So the Middle Platonists asserted that The Mind does not directly interact with the sensible world. Like Plato they believed that The Soul is the connection between the sensible world and the insensible world. They believed the stars and planets of the night sky to be physical manifestations of spiritual beings. Daemons (Diamones) were said to be heavenly intermediaries, similar to the modern notion of angels. Middle Platonists believed that The Soul, and the lesser beings of the insensible world, the stellar and planetary spirits, daemons, and the Greek gods, are intermediaries between the insensible world and the sensible world.
Plato hinted that the development of the human soul is hindered through being entrapped in a physical body. Perhaps because of the influence of Persian dualistic religion, some Middle Platonists developed Plato's suggestions into a belief that matter itself is evil.
As mentioned above, diastema means "extension" or "separation." The One is simple unity, without any trace of diastema. Things that have differentiation, attributes, and extension are inferior things, which emanated out of The One. And The One is the source of all existence. From The One emanates The Mind, and from The Mind emanates The Soul, and from The Soul emanates the physical universe. Because everything in the sensible world has a separate mix of attributes, all things are affected by separation. Even time itself is a form of separation, since one moment is separated from the next. And so all things of the sensible world are affected by diastema. But perception involves using the senses to discern attributes. And (according to Platonists) logical understanding is equivalent to the study of The Forms. Both The Forms and physical attributes partake of diastema. But The One is pure unity, without any trace of diastema. And so it is beyond the reach of sense perception, and also beyond the reach of logical understanding.
But yet The One can be known mystically. Plotinus believed that the human soul consists of a lower part, located in the physical body, and a higher part, located in The Soul. Through contemplation the higher part of an individual's soul may ascend from The Soul into The Mind. Occasionally, a soul may even obtain a perception of The One. But because of the utter transcendence of The One, this glimpse is only a fleeting mystical perception. Because The One transcends even the cosmic hierarchy, a mystic can therefore ascend to The One apart from the cosmic hierarchy. And so it is possible to gain fleeting mystical glimpses of The One. In this Neo-Platonic mysticism, the first stage of mystical ascent involves purification, where the mystic identifies with his higher soul, by rising above the passions of the sensible world. In so doing, the mystic also identifies with The Soul. In the second stage of ascent the mystic identifies with The Mind, by becoming absorbed in natural and metaphysical philosophy. The third stage of ascent is rarely reached. In this third stage of ascent, the mystic experiences ecstasy by uniting with The One, temporarily losing sight of the distinction between himself and The One.
It is interesting that Platonic mysticism first involved purification, followed by logical contemplation. Langdon Gilkey proposed this same sequence of development after being interned in a crowded Japanese interment camp in China, during World War II. The interned expatriates, experienced and highly motivated educators, missionaries, and business people, were the "cream of the crop" in terms of social standing, ethics, and religion. In the camp basic provisions were in short supply. Housing was very crowded. Gilkey served on the housing committee of the camp and strove to accommodate housing needs fairly. And he found that when internees were asked to sacrifice even a little of their limited space for the common good, in every case except one, the answer was refusal. Often the refusal was given with some sort of ethical or religious justification. Gilkey had entered the camp believing in the fundamental goodness of man. But because of his experiences there, he came out convinced of man's moral depravity. Concerning the inherit selfishness of even the best of men, Gilkey writes:
It was a rare person indeed in our camp whose mind could rise beyond that involvement of the self in crucial issues to view them dispassionately. Rational behavior in communal action is primarily a moral and not an intellectual achievement, possible only to a person who is morally capable of self-sacrifice. In a real sense, I came to believe, moral selflessness is a prerequisite for the life of reason--not its consequence, as so many philosophers contend.
And so based in his World War II experiences, Gilkey rediscovered this Neo-Platonic concept of moral purification as a prerequisite of the development of reason.
A Stoic element in Neo-Platonism is the concept of recapitulation, the "summing up" of all things into their source. The Stoics believed that just as the universe emanated out of The Logos, so also everything will return to The Logos in cosmic conflagration. This idea appeared in Neo-Platonism as a belief that the One automatically and eternally emanates all lower entities in the cosmic hierarchy. At the same time all lower entities continually strive to return back into The One.
Platonists held that human evil results from the fact that the human soul is entrapped in a physical body. Many Middle Platonists believed that there is an evil Soul which dwells in matter and creates evil. But Plotinus believed evil results when one ceases to ascend toward The One, and becomes absorbed in one's material existence.
By contrast, Gregory of Nyssa seems to have written On the Making of Man for an educated audience. There are no references to uneducated listeners in On the Making of Man as there are in the Hexaemeron. Furthermore, Gregory intends On the Making of Man to be a logical discourse. He declares in his introduction, "we must fit together, according to the explanation of Scripture and to that derived from reasoning, those statements concerning [the nature of Man] which seem, by a kind of necessary sequence, to be opposed, so that our whole subject may be consistent in train of thought and in order"
In his introduction Gregory states, "For if, the consideration of man being lacking in his Hexaemeron, none of those who had been his disciples contributed any earnest effort to supply the defect, the scoffer would perhaps have had a handle against his great fame, on the ground that he had not cared to produce in his hearers any habit of intelligence." With his reference to "the scoffer," Gregory may be writing in response to some sort of opponent. Since On the Making of Man contains a greater number of philosophical allusions than Basil's Hexaemeron,it may be that Gregory was responding to attacks by educated opponents, who were conversant in the philosophies of the day, and responsive to philosophically-oriented arguments.
Origen believed that deeper realities of the faith are only appropriate for mature listeners. This belief is partly a reflection of Origen's Platonism. By the first century, Alexandria had become a capital of Greek learning. As such, Alexandria was a fertile ground for Platonism. Origen had learned from lecturers in Greek philosophy in that city, and was conversant in middle Platonism. Plato had taught that physical realities are shadows of the Forms, and that the Forms are the patterns for realities seen in the created world. Origen applied this concept to hermeneutics, asserting that descriptions of objects and historical events of the material world found in Scripture are actually reflections of spiritual realities. This is illustrated in Origen's eschatology. In the view of Origen, the immature believers are those who believe in a literal return of Christ. These believers are not capable of going beyond a literal understanding of Messiah's return. And so God is honored by their belief, even if it is flawed by excessive literalism. But Origen taught educated audiences allegorical interpretations of the biblical texts dealing with the return of Christ. One such allegorical interpretation viewed the return as an allegory of the spread of the church, Christ's body, in the world. Another allegorical interpretation viewed the return as an allegory of the coming of Christ to the soul of the believer.
Basil and his friend Gregory of Nazianzus were quite familiar with Origen's hermeneutics. Both Cappadocians had begun to read much of Origen after finishing their education in Athens. In A.D. 358, they had collaborated to compose the Philocalia, which was a handbook of hermeneutics and apologetics. The Philocalia consisted entirely of excerpts from Origen's writings, including the sections of De Principiis where Origen explained his hermeneutic. Basil and his friend Gregory did not contribute any reflection of their own. They had simply assembled texts by the masterful Origen which provided direction in the practice of hermeneutics and apologetics. Basil and Gregory of Nazianzus had not merely come to appreciate Origen's hermeneutic for themselves. They were concerned to propagate Origenistic hermeneutical principles within Cappadocia, and so they published the Philocalia. Gregory of Nazianzus sent a copy of the Philocalia to his friend Theodore, bishop of Tyana, along with a letter which read, in part, "we send you the volume of the Philocalia of Origen, containing a selection of passages useful to students of literature." Rousseau rightly points out that if they were concerned only for their own use of Origen's hermeneutical principles, they could simply have used the texts of Origen's works that they had access to. Instead, they selected some of the most practical texts, compiled them, and published them. The Philocalia was for "students of literature," and not simply for themselves. Basil and Gregory of Nazianzus had become proponents of the hermeneutical principles of Origen.
Origen did not reject the use of the literal sense of Scripture, nor did he reject the use of the allegorical sense of Scripture. Rather, Origen advised expositors to seek three types of meaning in Scripture. For the simple, there is the literal, historical sense of the Word. For the more advanced, there is the moral sense of the Word. Concerning the literal and moral senses, Origen writes:
How great, then, is the utility of this first “historical” sense which we have mentioned, is attested by the multitude of all believers, who believe with adequate faith and simplicity, and does not need much argument, because it is openly manifest to all; whereas of that sense which we have called above the “soul,” as it were, of Scripture, the Apostle Paul has given us numerous examples in the first Epistle to the Corinthians. For we find the expression, "Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn.” And afterwards, when explaining what precept ought to be understood by this, he adds the words: “Doth God take care for oxen? or saith He it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written; that he who plougheth should plough in hope, and he that thresheth, in hope of partaking."
In this quotation, Origen calls the moral sense the "soul" of Scripture. This is a sense obtained by generalizing a principle illustrated by the literal sense, so that the principle may be applied in a wider set of circumstances. For the passage quoted by Origen, the principle of the literal sense is that oxen which are used for plowing should be fed. The moral or "soul" sense that Origen identifies is the generalization which Paul identified. This generalization is that workers should be recompensed. Origen notes that Paul saw fit to explain the moral sense of the passage. Paul did not explain the literal sense of the passage, for there was no need. Origen states that the literal sense of Scripture is apparent to all, and needs no explanation. His implication is that by themselves, the immature may easily see the literal sense of a passage, but they may not recognize the moral sense of a passage.
The literal meaning of Scripture serves to lead the simple to deeper truth. Origen writes in Contra Celsum, "[The divine mind] seeks to win the attention of the more ignorant by the use of language which is familiar to them, so that they may easily be induced, after their first introduction, to strive after an acquaintance with the deeper truths which lie hidden in Scripture."
For the mature, there is the spiritual sense of the Word. Origen asserts that just as man consists of body, soul, and spirit, so also Scripture must be understood in a literal, moral, and spiritual sense. Origen discusses the spiritual sense of Scripture:
Now a “spiritual” interpretation is of this nature: when one is able to point out what are the heavenly things of which these serve as the patterns and shadow, who are Jews “according to the flesh,” and of what things future the law contains a shadow, and any other expressions of this kind that may be found in holy Scripture; or when it is a subject of inquiry, what is that wisdom hidden in a mystery which “God ordained before the world for our glory, which none of the princes of this world knew;” or the meaning of the apostle’s language, when, employing certain illustrations from Exodus or Numbers, he says: “These things happened to them in a figure, and they are written on our account, on whom the ends of the ages have come.” Now, an opportunity is afforded us of understanding of what those things which happened to them were figures, when he adds: 'And they drank of that spiritual Rock which followed them, and that Rock was Christ.' In another Epistle also, when referring to the tabernacle, he mentions the direction which was given to Moses: 'Thou shalt make (all things) according to the pattern which was showed thee in the mount.'
Here Origen echoes Hebrews 8:5, which states that the earthly tabernacle is merely a "copy and shadow" (hupodeigmati kai skia) of the heavenly temple. Such teaching fit well with Origen's Platonism, which held that all physical phenomena are inferior copies of the heavenly Forms. Origen finds a spiritual interpretation "when one is able to point out what are the heavenly things of which these serve as the patterns and shadow." Here is the distinction between Origen's moral interpretation of Scripture and his spiritual interpretation. The moral interpretation is effectively a command or wisdom teaching which relates to Christian living. But the spiritual interpretation reveals insight concerning God and the heavenly world.
Origen argued that it is necessary to hide the spiritual meaning of Scripture from the impious, who would not appreciate these meanings:
[The prophets and apostles] described [spiritual mysteries] figuratively; not that any one who pleased might view these expositions as deserving to be trampled under foot, but that he who should devote himself with all chastity, and sobriety, and watchfulness, to studies of this kind, might be able by this means to trace out the meaning of the Spirit of God, which is perhaps lying profoundly buried, and the context, which may be pointing again in another direction than the ordinary usage of speech would indicate.
Origen may have been following Plato in asserting that various grades of listeners must be given varying grades of exposition. Plato taught that educational Homeric myths were appropriate for the masses, but only an educated minority should be taught the inspirational myths. The inspirational myths convey truth via allegory.
Basil and Gregory of Nazianzus compiled the hermeneutical instruction of Origen's De Principiis into their Philocalia. Basil and Gregory of Nazianzus did not compile the Philocalia in order to create a source book of Origenistic texts. For they had selected not abstract writings by Origen, but rather, they selected practical writings, useful for practitioners of biblical exposition and apologetics. They intended the Philocalia to be used by contemporaries as a handbook. In "The Politics of Interpretation in Basil of Caesarea's Hexaemeron," Richard Lim challenges the view that Basil abandoned allegorical interpretation in favor of literal interpretation of Scripture. According to Lim, Basil merely followed his own hermeneutical handbook. The nine homilies of the Hexaemeron were preached to a congregation of common people. In these sermons, Basil explained the literal and moral meanings of the first chapter of Genesis. But he did not provide interpretations which Origen would have termed spiritual interpretations. If Lim is correct, the reason that Basil chose only to explain the literal and moral meanings in his Hexaemeron sermons to his uneducated audience is that he was simply following Origen's practice of explaining spiritual meanings only to the mature.
Gregory of Nyssa makes a case for allegorical interpretation in the prologue of Commentary on the Song of Songs. In this justification of allegory, however, Gregory does not insist on the three senses of Scripture which Origen identified. Instead, Gregory only makes a case for the literal sense and the allegorical sense. These two senses were well known in Gregory's day, having been used by Philo, and by the interpreters of the Greek myths.
Chapter four of this thesis focuses on many of the allegorical interpretations which Gregory builds, in his discussion of Genesis 1. In contrast to his brother Basil, Gregory of Nyssa was comfortable teaching allegorical interpretations of Genesis 1. For example, when Genesis states that grass was created before animals, and animals were created before mankind, Gregory comments, "But it seems to me that by these facts Moses reveals a hidden doctrine, and secretly delivers that wisdom concerning the soul" Gregory goes on to describe his "hidden doctrine," which is an allegorical interpretation supporting the Stoic view that there are three types of soul. Inanimate matter and lower life forms are governed by a simple form of soul, which grants merely common consistency. Higher forms of life have a higher form of soul, which enables movement and action. Mankind is governed by the highest form soul, which is rational soul. Since Gregory's audience was likely educated, and since his mentor Origen had advised that allegorical interpretations are fit for educated audiences, Gregory could use allegory, and still remain true to Origen's hermeneutic. But if Basil was following Origen's guidelines, because of his uneducated hearers, he would have been confined to the literal and moral senses of Scripture, and excluded from the allegorical sense.
I know the laws of allegory, though less by myself than from the works of others. There are those truly, who do not admit the common sense of the Scriptures, for whom water is not water, but some other nature, who see in a plant, in a fish, what their fancy wishes, who change the nature of reptiles and of wild beasts to suit their allegories, like the interpreters of dreams who explain visions in sleep to make them serve their own ends. For me grass is grass; plant, fish, wild beast, domestic animal, I take all in the literal sense.
Origen had ministered during the high point of allegorical interpretation. By contrast, the Cappadocians ministered in an age when allegory had begun to fall out of favor. To understand how attitudes concerning allegory changed during the third and fourth centuries, we must review why allegorical interpretation grew, and also why it later diminished in popularity.
Cultural issues played a part in the use of allegorism, and later, the use of literalism, by Bible expositors. Greek writers had used allegory to explain inconsistencies in the Greek mythological literature. By the second century, allegory had become a standard technique for Greek scholars. Educated Greeks were accustomed to hearing arguments founded on allegory. So second and third century Christian apologists likewise tended to make use of allegory in their efforts to explain and defend Christianity.
These Christian apologists used allegory to defend Christianity much as Philo of Alexandria had used allegory to defend and explain the writings of Moses. For example, Philo had interpreted Gen. 26:8 using allegory, and based on word meanings. The verse reads, "And it came about, when he had been there a long time, that Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out through a window, and saw, and behold, Isaac was caressing his wife Rebekah." "Isaac" means "laughter" in Hebrew, and "Rebekah" means "patience." Clement of Alexandria followed Philo in selecting an allegorical interpretation of the verse following the themes of "joy" and "patience." Philo had interpreted the verse to mean that a wise person finds joy in a life of wisdom. Clement held that the verse means that through His incarnation, Christ saw the joy and steadfastness of His church. Another example of Clement's allegorism is displayed in his interpretation of the story of Sarah and Hagar in Genesis 16-21. For Clement, Abraham symbolized faith, Sarah symbolized wisdom, and Hagar symbolized pagan philosophy. Clement interpreted the account to mean that Greek philosophy is inferior to godly wisdom.
Origen had been a pupil of Clement of Alexandria. And like his teacher, Origen had no qualms about using allegory. Concerning historical accounts in the Hebrew Scriptures he writes, "But all the narrative portion, relating either to marriages, or to the begetting of the children, or to battles of different kinds, or to any other histories whatever, what else can they be supposed to be, save the forms and figures of hidden and sacred things?"
In writing about "forms and figures of hidden and sacred things," Origen combines his concept of the incarnation of the Word, with the Platonistic idea that the heavenly Forms imprint physical entities. For while Clement had declared that Scripture is the voice of the Logos (referring to the Son), Origen declared that Scripture is the incarnation of the Logos. And the echo of Platonism is his notion that the divine Logos is the pattern for a physical reality, namely, the written Word. In Platonism, physical entities are imperfect copies of heavenly realities. The philosopher seeks to contemplate the heavenly Forms which physical entities are patterned after. Building on this tradition, Origen sought to contemplate spiritual meanings symbolized by biblical historical accounts. And this is a distinctive goal that Origen has. The Asiatics had looked into the Hebrew Scriptures for types of the Christ. But Origen extends the application of types, for he looked not only for types of the Christ, but for types of any New Testament moral and theological truth. Origen sought these spiritual meanings behind every biblical historical account. In his search for spiritual meanings, Origen examined various details of historical portions of the Bible. For example, the nature of cities was one aspect Origen examined. Concerning the spiritual interpretation of cities found in Scripture, Origen wrote:
Being taught, then, by him that there is one Israel according to the flesh, and another according to the Spirit, when the Savior says, “I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” we do not understand these words as those do who savor of earthly things, i.e., the Ebionites, who derive the appellation of “poor” from their very name (for “Ebion” means “poor” in Hebrew ); but we understand that there exists a race of souls which is termed “Israel,” as is indicated by the interpretation of the name itself: for Israel is interpreted to mean a “mind,” or “man seeing God.” . . . If, then, there are certain souls in this world who are called Israel, and a city in heaven which is called Jerusalem, it follows that those cities which are said to belong to the nation of Israel have the heavenly Jerusalem as their metropolis; and that, agreeably to this, we understand as referring to the whole of Judah (of which also we are of opinion that the prophets have spoken in certain mystical narratives), any predictions delivered either regarding Judea or Jerusalem, or invasions of any kind, which the sacred histories declare to have happened to Judea or Jerusalem. . . . If, then, the prophecies delivered concerning Judea, and Jerusalem, and Judah, and Israel, and Jacob, not being understood by us in a carnal sense, signify certain divine mysteries, it certainly follows that those prophecies also which were delivered either concerning Egypt or the Egyptians, or Babylonia and the Babylonians, and Sidon and the Sidonians, are not to be understood as spoken of that Egypt which is situated on the earth, or of the earthly Babylon, Tyre, or Sidon.
Origen was not hesitant to find a spiritual interpretation in any biblical account involving Jewish or pagan cities. And indeed, he was willing to find a spiritual interpretation behind every historical account in Scripture.
Origen was not completely unrestrained in his use of allegory. He adopted a set of guidelines intended to restrain the formation of wild allegorical interpretations. These measures include considering the overall teaching of the Bible, as opposed to building a doctrine on the interpretation of an isolated verse; looking to clearer passages for guidance on interpreting difficult passages; and considering the interpretations of orthodox teachers of the past.
Origen used the literal meaning of a text as a safeguard against finding a fantastic allegorical interpretation. For example, Simonetti points out that Hippolytus provided an allegorical interpretation of the Song of Songs, but gave no attention to a literal interpretation of the book. By contrast, Origen acknowledged both allegorical and literal interpretations of the book. Furthermore, Origen typically used the literal interpretation of a passage to guide the discovery of the spiritual interpretation.
Simonetti identifies Origen's Platonism as one reason why he acknowledged both a literal and allegorical meaning. This makes sense, since Plato taught that the Forms of the insensible realm are perfect patterns of realities found in the physical realm. Spiritual reality impresses physical and historical phenomena. If Plato's doctrine is true--and Origen believed that it is--then literal events in Scripture reflect higher truths. Therefore, similar concepts and actions should be found in both literal and spiritual interpretations of a passage.
But after the time of Origen, allegorism began to fall into disfavor in the East. Increasingly, criticism was aimed at exegetes employing allegory. Simonetti gives several reasons for this criticism. Origen had allegorized skillfully. His followers were not able to exegete so deftly. As a partial result, opponents were more emboldened in their attacks on allegory. Origen had also allegorized consistently. His Platonistic worldview led him to formulate allegorical interpretations that closely corresponded to literal interpretations. By contrast, the followers of Origen did not consistently interpret according to any accepted philosophy. So, they were more open to charges of arbitrariness. The charge that Christians employed allegory arbitrarily was even leveled against Origen himself, by Porphyry. Porphyry's attack made a memorable impact on the educated classes. If the skilled Origen could not escape such attacks, his followers were even more vulnerable.
And aside from these apologetic issues behind the decline of allegory, there was also heightened interest among Christians in history and science itself. Christianity expanded greatly in the fourth century. The educated classes of the East now embraced the faith. And these educated classes showed greater interest in science and history than did uneducated classes. There was simply more interest in the literal and historical interpretations of Scripture.
The tradition of Greek allegory had encouraged both the Jewish and Christian use of allegory. But not all Jews or Christians were so eager to use allegory. At the same time as the ministry of the Cappadocians, a rebirth of literalism was occurring in Antioch. In contrast to the school at Alexandria, the "School of Antioch" was not an actual school. And its adherents did not have a uniform hermeneutic. So, to characterize the school, it is necessary to examine some major figures of the Antioch tradition.
Lucian is traditionally regarded to be the founder of the school of Antioch, but Simonetti points out that we actually know nothing of his exegesis, and Diodorus should actually be regarded as the true founder.
The school of Antioch was significantly more literal than that of Alexandria, but it was not exclusively literal. For example, Diodorus saw an allegorical meaning in the story of Cain and Abel. According to Diodorus, the hostility of Cain towards his brother represents the hostility of the Jews towards the church. Origen had generally affirmed the literal interpretation even as he also affirmed an allegorical one. But on occasion, Origen denied a literal interpretation in favor of an allegorical interpretation. For instance, Origen stated, "And how could we possibly accept, as spoken of a man, what is related in many passages of Scripture, and especially in Isaiah, regarding Nebuchadnezzar? For he is not a man who is said to have 'fallen from heaven,' or who was 'Lucifer,' or who 'arose in the morning.'" Here, Origen misses the hyperbole, and therefore, can only accept an allegorical interpretation. He excludes literal interpretations entirely. But where Origen sometimes denied the literal interpretation in a passage, Diodorus always affirmed it, even when he also found an allegorical interpretation.
However, the usual Antiochene hermeneutic was exclusively literal. Origen had looked for hints of New Testament revelation throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, but Diodorus was reluctant to follow suit. For example, Diodorus provides a very literal exposition of Genesis 49. Many previous expositors had found prophecies of the ministry of Christ throughout the chapter. But Diodorus only identifies three verses, which concern Judah, as being messianic. Diodorus apparently allowed the messianic flavor of these few verses only because Jewish expositors had pointed out messianic overtones.
And so, while Basil affirmed the value of Origen's hermeneutic, allegorism was waning, and literalism was rising. Basil might affirm the legitimacy of Origen's moral and spiritual interpretations. But the shift back to literalism must have had a bearing on Basil's reluctance, compared to Origen, to resort to allegory.
Early on, Basil gravitated away from a sterile intellectualism that never led to action. This tendency may have begun to surface during the years of Basil's education in Athens. Students learning under various teachers typically formed gangs and engaged in violence in order to recruit and retain fellow students. Such an environment was ruled by peer pressure and fear, and Basil himself suffered from it. He was repelled by this oppressive and violent academic environment. Basil later referred to this environment as "a school of impurity." Concerning his experience in Athens, Basil wrote, "I left Athens, scorning everything there."
Basil was perhaps turned towards practical affairs not only by his negative scholastic experience, but also by the influence of one of his teachers. Himerius, who had taught Basil, had lauded Hermogenes for combining philosophical pursuits with public service. With his later theological and ecclesiastical accomplishments, Basil followed Himerius' ideal of intellectual achievement combined with practical achievement.
Finally, Basil's sister, Macrina, also turned him towards practical piety. Gregory of Nyssa writes of the impact of Macrina:
When the mother had arranged excellent marriages for the other sisters, such as was best in each case, Macrina's brother, the great Basil, returned after his long period of education, already a practiced rhetorician. He was puffed up beyond measure with the pride of oratory and looked down on the local dignitaries, excelling in his own estimation all the men of leading and position. Nevertheless, Macrina took him in hand, and with such speed did she draw him also toward the mark of philosophy that he forsook the glories of this world and despised fame gained by speaking, and deserted it for this busy life where one toils with one's hands. His renunciation of property was complete, lest anything should impede the life of virtue.
Thus, Basil progressively gravitated away from exclusively intellectual pursuits, and towards pastoral concerns. He viewed theology and practical service as being inseparable components of Christian expression. And so it is not surprising that Basil's concern for the practical was reflected in his sermonic style.
To see the extent of Basil's practical bent in preaching, it is necessary to view him against the public speaking standards of his day, and against the expressive styles of some of his contemporaries. An important tradition in fourth century oration was the second sophistic style. In his dissertation, James Marshall Campbell, supplies a comprehensive survey of the influence of this style on the sermons of Basil. Highlights from Campbell's study, summarized below, reveal the practical flavor of Basil's preaching.
To understand the second sophistic style better, it is necessary to review its sources. The sophistic style flourished during times of leisure and wealth. The first sophistic style arose in the fifth century B.C., in the prosperous times following the cessation of the Persian wars. Increased leisure spawned a hunger for entertainment. The sophists were teachers of oratory, who stepped in at this time to train entertaining public speakers. The public demanded amusement, not truth. The oratorical tradition which developed was skeptical. Truth was relative, and beauty of form was all that mattered.
Around 300 B.C. oratory declined when Athens lost its independence. Leisure had declined, and the result was that oratory declined as well. Yet even then, oratorical styles became more superficial. This "second Asiatic" style was enslaved to rhythm. Flowery, unnecessary phrases and exclamations were frequently added so as to maintain rhythm.
Then, roughly 200 B.C., a reaction to this extreme superficiality developed. This reaction is called Atticism, and it was a return to the old Attic heritage. Quintilian, Pliny the Younger, and others pushed for a return to the purity of the classic style. They rebelled against many of the second Asiatic orators who had become active upon the return of peace and leisure. These frivolous orators relied mostly on rhetorical devices, ignoring truth and taste, all for the sake of effect. However, the revival of the classical Attic style flourished only in educated circles and court circles. The superficial second Asiatic style continued to reign among popular audiences.
Then around A.D. 100, out of this two-pronged oratorical heritage grew the second sophistic. The second sophists combined the classical Atticism of the elite with the second Asiatic style of the masses. The result was primarily Attic but with Asiatic flourishes and devices added. Because of the Attic nature of the second sophistic, many of the Attic classics were appreciated and preserved. And because of the Asiatic influence in the second sophistic style, Greek literature developed a romantic aspect. This romantic aspect manifested itself in idealistic pastoral settings and in passionate tales of romance, adventure, seduction, rape, violence, and bloodshed.
Such was the literary and oratorical setting for Basil's ministry. Against this oratorical tradition and expectation, Basil resisted sophistic excesses. Of the three great Cappadocians, Basil was the least likely to use sophistic devices. For example, the sophists often employed effects based on the sounds of words. These effects include alliteration (the use of the same initial letter in succeeding words), polyptoton (the use of two succeeding words which are identical except for case), and parechesis (the use of succeeding words which have different roots and meanings, but which sound similar). Concerning these sound-based effects in the works of the Cappadocians, Campbell states:
With many sophists it became a fixed mental habit that when they must choose between clarity of expression and resonance of expression, they invariably chose the latter. This convention, so strongly entrenched in the schools, is very marked in the works of St. Gregory Nazianzus, St. Gregory of Nyssa, and in St. John Chrysostom's panegyrical use of alliteration, polyptoton, and parechesis at least.
By comparison, these sound-based effects are rare in the works of Basil.
The sophists often used sarcasm and irony. Basil avoided these devices, and instead, favored plain reasoning.
The sophists also utilized a variety of devices to add liveliness. One of these devices was asyndeton, which involved omitting conjunctions in order to avoid a sense of monotony, and to add vigor. The sophists strove to build long strings of asyndeton, eight instances in length or more. By contrast Basil rarely utilized strings of asyndeton this long. He preferred strings of double or triple asyndeton. And in comparison with the sophists, Basil was restrained in the frequency of his use of asyndeton.
Another device the sophists used to add liveliness was prosopopoiia, which involved relating the speech of a hypothetical or fictitious character in order to convey some idea. Basil in fact used this device himself. For instance, in the Hexaemeron, Basil employs prosopopoiia to illustrate how God has established order throughout His creation:
See how the divine order embraces all and extends to the smallest object. A fish does not resist God’s law, and we men cannot endure His precepts of salvation! Do not despise fish because they are dumb and quite unreasoning; rather fear lest, in your resistance to the disposition of the Creator, you have even less reason than they. Listen to the fish, who by their actions all but speak and say: it is for the perpetuation of our race that we undertake this long voyage. They have not the gift of reason, but they have the law of nature firmly seated within them, to show them what they have to do. Let us go, they say, to the North Sea. Its water is sweeter than that of the rest of the sea; for the sun does not remain long there, and its rays do not draw up all the drinkable portions.
But while Basil is not reluctant to employ prosopopoiia, he is far more sensible in usage than the sophists of his day. The sophists typically strove to include masses of prosopopoiia.
Hyperbole is deliberate exaggeration for the sake of emphasis. The sophists frequently used hyperbole, but as with other sophistic devices, Basil restricted his use of it.
A sophistic device which adds impact via contrast is antithesis, which involves placing opposing ideas side by side. Again, Basil was restrained in his usage of this device.
Metaphor, the use of a concrete account to convey an abstract idea, is frequently found in Scripture. For example, the familiar expression in the twenty-third psalm, "The LORD is my shepherd," is an example of biblical metaphor. Given the frequent occurrence of metaphor in Scripture, it should not be surprising to find the Cappadocians using metaphor. This expectation is even stronger in light of the fact that metaphor was common in fourth century speech and literature. The sophists used huge amounts of metaphor. And fourth century sermons commonly included metaphor because lay-people were concerned about many of the theological struggles of the day. Many of these struggles revolved around subtle theological distinctions, and because metaphor can quickly convey subtle concepts, it was often used in fourth century sermons. But here again, Basil restrained himself. Gregory of Nyssa used far more metaphor than Basil.
It would be wrong to conclude that Basil resisted sophistic tendencies because of ignorance, rather than because of preference. Basil was educated in Athens which was a center of sophistic practice. And he did rely on some sophistic devices. As noted, Basil made regular (but not excessive) use of asyndeton, prosopopoiia and metaphor.
Comparing Basil and his brother, Gregory of Nyssa, Basil added far less adornment to his writing and speaking. Gregory of Nyssa was much more inclined to use hyperbole, antithesis, and metaphor than his brother. Basil expressed his preference for plain speech when he stated, "Do not, I pray you, display sophistic vanities in your speech." Concerning Basil, Gregory of Nazianzus wrote, "With him, eloquence was only an accessory [to paregon], and he culled from it only what would be helpful for our philosophy, since its power is necessary for the exposition of thought [epeide dei kai tes en toutois dunamews pros ten twn nooumenwn delwsin]."
Basil's preference for the practical is one factor in his decision to present a literal and unadorned exposition in the Hexaemeron. Furthermore, Basil drew upon observations of the physical world, observations of birds, plants, and fish in the Hexaemeron. With these references to the physical world, Basil sought to magnify the wisdom of the Creator of the physical world. It was perhaps natural for a man so attuned to practical affairs to draw upon observations made in the course of everyday life.
While Neo-Platonists denied that the essence of The One could be understood, they acknowledged that the emanations of The One could be known. The physical universe itself is an emanation from The Soul. Ultimately the entire universe is an emanation from The One. Neo-Platonists held that The Mind, which emanates from The One, could be known. For part of the path of mystical ascent in Neo-Platonism is contemplation of the Forms, which leave their marks on the physical world. And the Forms are the thoughts of The Mind. As the philosopher contemplates this physical world, he understands the Forms. As he understands the Forms, he understands The Mind. And as he understands The Mind, he understands The One.
Basil advised disciples to come into knowledge of God by a similar path. Neo-Platonism rejected attempts to comprehend the most High strictly through reason, and so did Basil. And just as Neo-Platonists could understand the emanations of The One, so the Christian could know the powers, but not the substance, of God. Basil wrote Amphilochius, a young disciple, that believers cannot comprehend the divine substance (ousia). Rather,
The operations are various, and the essence simple, but we say that we know our God from His operations, but do not undertake to approach near to His essence. His operations come down to us, but His essence remains beyond our reach.
Basil believed that comprehension of God comes not through rational deduction, but through faith, based on observation and admiration of God's power.
In the same letter to Amphilochius, Basil discusses Jn. 1:18 ("No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him"). Basil poses the question of whether the Son is known through His essence or His power. He explains:
When did the disciples worship Him? Was it not when they saw creation subject to Him? It was from the obedience of sea and winds to Him that they recognized His Godhead. Therefore the knowledge came from the operations, and the worship from the knowledge. “Believest thou that I am able to do this?” “I believe, Lord;” and he worshipped Him. So worship follows faith, and faith is confirmed by power.
The significance is that here again, Basil asserts God is known not by an understanding of His ousia via reason, but through admiration of His activity.
Basil alludes in the Hexaemeron itself to his idea that the physical universe can teach believers to comprehend God. In his first Hexaemeron homily, Basil wrote:
You will finally discover that the world was not conceived by chance and without reason, but for a useful end and for the great advantage of all beings, since it is really the school where reasonable souls exercise themselves, the training ground where they learn to know God; since by the sight of visible and sensible things the mind is led, as by a hand, to the contemplation of invisible things. “For,” as the Apostle says, “the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made.”
Other indications of Basil's aim to inspire worship through contemplation of the physical universe can be found in the Hexaemeron. Many examples could be cited, a few suffice for now. In homily seven, Basil considers the remora fish, and sees evidence of the power of God. He writes:
If now you hear say that the greatest vessels, sailing with full sails, are easily stopped by a very small fish, by the remora, and so forcibly that the ship remains motionless for a long time, as if it had taken root in the middle of the sea, do you not see in this little creature a like proof of the power of the Creator?
Basil writes of birds:
During the day, also, how easy it is for you to admire the Creator everywhere! See how the domestic cock calls you to work with his shrill cry, and how, forerunner of the sun, and early as the traveler, he sends forth laborers to the harvest!
In homily nine, he considers innate animal instinct, and sees evidence of the wisdom of God. He states:
The little dog has as yet no teeth, nevertheless he defends himself with his mouth against any one [sic] who teases him. The calf has as yet no horns, nevertheless he already knows where his weapons will grow. Here we have evident proof that the instinct of animals is innate, and that in all beings there is nothing disorderly, nothing unforeseen. All bear the marks of the wisdom of the Creator, and show that they have come to life with the means of assuring their preservation.
Basil's aim in the Hexaemeron homilies was not to provide rational proofs of divine creation. Rather, his aim was to magnify the divine power and wisdom of the Creator. As the congregation contemplated this divine power and wisdom, worship would be the result.
One should not assume that since Gregory of Nyssa presents a philosophically oriented exposition, he therefore relied on reason to the extent of denying the idea of diastema. Gregory valued the mystical approach to God, rather than the purely rational approach. He affirmed that reason is inadequate as a means of comprehending God when he wrote:
For being by nature invisible, He (God) becomes visible only in His operations, and only when He is contemplated in the things that are external to Him. But the meaning of this Beatitude (Matthew 5:8) does not merely indicate that we can infer the nature of the cause from its operation, for in that case even the wise of this world might gain a knowledge of transcendent wisdom and power through the harmonic structure of the universe.
The difference between Gregory and Basil is not that one affirmed the idea of diastema, and one did not. The difference is that Gregory was by nature more speculative, and less practical than his brother. Both men valued observation of God's works as a means of learning about God. And both acknowledged that ultimate knowledge of God is impossible for men. The Greeks were concerned about complete knowledge. Aristotle conceived it as "the mind's identity with its object." The Cappadocians affirmed this Greek idea that ultimate knowledge of God is beyond the reach of reason. They did allow that reason was useful for knowing something of God. But Basil was less inclined to speculate, and more inclined to contemplate the greatness of God's activities so as to grow in faith and admiration.
What lesson does nature here give us? That we must often borrow, even from those who are strangers to the faith, a certain vigor to show forth good works. If you see outside the Church, in pagan life, or in the midst of a pernicious heresy, the example of virtue and fidelity to moral laws, redouble your efforts to resemble the productive fig tree, who by the side of the wild fig tree, gains strength, prevents the fruit from being shed, and nourishes it with more care.
He sees a practical lesson in the behavior of camels. He states in homily eight:
What animal of the sea can show so much rancor and resentment as the camel? The camel conceals its resentment for a long time after it has been struck, until it finds an opportunity, and then repays the wrong. Listen, you whose heart does not pardon, you who practice vengeance as a virtue; see what you resemble when you keep your anger for so long against your neighbor like a spark, hidden in the ashes, and only waiting for fuel to set your heart ablaze!
Basil was a practical man who believed that Christian belief must be combined with practical outworking. Worship must be combined with righteous behavior. The Hexaemeron was designed to not only inspire worship, but also to provide moral instruction.
We shall see in the next chapter that Gregory of Nyssa wrote his exposition of Genesis 1 less for practical instruction than apologetic reasons.
At the same time, other factors likely influenced Basil's choice of literal exposition. Basil was by nature drawn to practical matters. He consistently involved himself in everyday church affairs. And so it not surprising that he also favored plain speech and concrete topics in his preaching. During his lifetime, allegorism was waning, and literalism was rising. There was a renewed interest in what the Bible reveals concerning history and nature. A practical man such as Basil would have been more likely to follow the Antiochene interest in such topics than his philosophically-oriented brother.
Finally, Basil believed that the essence of God cannot be comprehended through logical deduction. Rather, God is known through his works. This belief reflected Basil's affirmation of the transcendence of God, and may have been influenced by the Neo-Platonic idea of Diastema. Since Basil believed that it is not logical deduction, but contemplation of God's works which leads to understanding, he could see great value in a literal interpretation of Genesis 1.
Here Basil suggests an initial creation of extremes, between which all components of the physical universe exist as potentials. This is not to suggest that Basil believed divine creation ended with the creation of the two extremes. Throughout the Hexaemeron, Basil assumes the potential existence of the rest of creation, but these do not actually move from a state of potential to a state of actual existence apart from God's command. For example, Basil writes of the creation of swimming creatures, "The command was given, and immediately the rivers and lakes becoming fruitful brought forth their natural broods; the sea travailed with all kinds of swimming creatures." God did not directly create the swimming creatures, the waters brought them forth. Yet the swimming creatures did not spring into existence until God commanded.
By positing the instantaneous creation of the extremes of heaven and earth along with the potential existence of the rest of creation, Basil reconciled two biblical texts, Genesis 1 and Gen. 2:4. Philo had earlier reconciled these two texts in a similar way. Philo had written that God created all things in a single instant. But not everything becomes apparent until later in the creation week. The rest of creation grows to maturity during the creation week, like a tree which grows to maturity from a tiny seed. In the West, Augustine would take a similar tack, stating, "One might be much more inclined to believe that God made them at the time when they sprang forth, not before they sprang forth, were we not informed by the sacred text that it was before they sprang forth that God made them." Philo, Basil, Gregory of Nyssa, and Augustine all affirm varieties of "springing forth" of previously created potentials. Frederick Copleston attributes the willingness of early exegetes to reconcile Genesis 1 and Gen. 2:4 by positing an initial creation of potentials which later spring forth to the influence of Stoicism. Stoicism held that development of entities and beings is caused by indwelling logoi. This Stoic doctrine lived on in Middle Platonism, and in Neo-Platonism. So the concept of gradual development caused by indwelling logoi eventually pervaded the entire Greek world. It is perhaps this Stoic influence that helped promote the concept of spontaneous generation. Anaximander posited that living creatures came to be by arising spontaneously from earth and water, heated by the sun. Aristotle wrote about eels springing spontaneously from earth and water mixtures. And Pliny wrote concerning the appearance of water mice out of the mud of the Nile. Interestingly, Basil refers to these water mice which appear out of the mud of the Nile in Hex. 9.2. W. K. C. Guthrie stated that "the belief in spontaneous generation was practically universal throughout antiquity."
Gregory of Nyssa has a slightly different view of the creation sequence than Basil. Probably following Basil, Gregory speaks of heaven and earth as two extremes created first. From these two extremes, all intermediate entities of the physical universe arise. Gregory writes:
[Heaven and earth], moreover, were first framed before other things, according to the Divine wisdom, to be as it were a beginning of the whole machine, the great Moses indicating, I suppose, where he says that the heaven and the earth were made by God 'in the beginning' that all things that are seen in the creation are the offspring of rest and motion, brought into being by the Divine will. Now the heaven and the earth being diametrically opposed to each other in their operations, the creation which lies between the opposites, and has in part a share in what is adjacent to it, itself acts as a mean between the extremes, so that there is manifestly a mutual contact of the opposites through the mean.
So like Basil, Gregory also sees heaven and earth as two extremes which are the foundation of the rest of creation. That is, the rest of creation develops out of the extremes of heaven and earth. But Gregory's view of development is slightly different. Basil had assumed that the intermediate aspects of the universe, the grass, fish, birds, and so forth, exist only as potentials, but they spring into being at God's command. Gregory follows Basil in asserting the creation of heaven and earth, along with the potential existence of the rest of the universe. But Gregory does not describe the grass, fish, animals, and so forth springing from a state of potential existence into a state of actual being only at God's command. Instead, these things move from potential to actual being automatically. Gregory constructed a creation sequence that incorporates Basil's idea of potential, and Philo's idea of gradual emergence apart from direct divine command. The creation sequences of Philo, Basil, and Gregory can be summarized in a table: Table 1 Creation Sequences of Philo, Basil, and Gregory
|Expositor of Genesis 1||Instantaneous Creation of All Things||Full Emergence of All Things during the Creation Week|
|Philo of Alexandria||Primitive forms, like seeds||Growth to maturity of immature entities|
|Basil of Caesarea||Potential existence||Development of potentials, but only at God's command|
|Gregory of Nyssa||Potential existence||Automatic development of potentials|
Gregory affirms the wisdom of the Creator using other Stoic concepts as well. It is helpful to examine various phrases and allusions in Gregory's statement (quoted above) on the creation sequence. He wrote that all things are the "offspring of rest and motion." He thinks of all created things as existing between two extremes, between heaven and earth, between rest and motion. This calls to mind the Stoic idea of tension, which had gradually become an accepted component of Greek thought. The Stoics had believed that the Logos maintains opposing forces in tension, so that there is over-all harmony in the universe. Gregory combined this concept with Greek astronomical ideas in order to expound Moses' creation account. Fourth century Greek astronomy was geocentric. For the Greeks the physical cosmos consisted of a stationary earth, about which the heavens revolved. The extremes of rest and motion which Gregory mentions refer to the stationary earth as the extreme which is at rest. The revolving heavenly sphere is the extreme which is in motion.
Gregory's readers accepted Stoic ideas of cosmic harmony and cosmic tension without question, because these ideas had long before become commonplace in Greek thought. Gregory incorporated these Stoic ideas into his apologetic for the biblical account of creation. Gregory writes of heaven and earth:
To speak strictly, one should rather say that the very nature of the contraries themselves is not entirely without mixture of properties, each with the other, so that, as I think, all that we see in the world mutually agree, and the creation, though discovered in properties of contrary natures, is yet at union with itself. For as motion is not conceived merely as local shifting, but is also contemplated in change and alteration, and on the other hand the immovable nature does not admit motion by way of alteration, the wisdom of God has transposed these properties, and wrought unchangableness in that which is ever moving, and change in that which is immovable . . ."
In one sweep, Gregory affirms two types of Stoic harmony. There is the tension between the immovable earth and constantly revolving heavens. In the balance between these two extremes we live and breathe. There is also the tension between the immutable heavens and always mutable earth. Between these two extremes, we also live and breathe. And ironically the poles of these two types of extremes are transposed. Earth is physically stable, yet its form is constantly in a state of change. The heaven is completely immutable in form, yet constantly revolving around the earth. And so, this transposition establishes yet another type of cosmic harmony. The heavens share the changing nature of the earth, and the earth shares the changing nature of the heavens. These ideas are summarized by the following table: Table 2 Transposition of Mutabilities, according to Gregory of Nyssa
Immutable in Form Mutable in Form Immutable in Orientation earth Mutable in Orientation heavenThe Stoic ideas of cosmic harmony and cosmic tension are not the only philosophical influences on Gregory's exposition of Gen. 1:1. For Gregory writes of the immutability of heaven: "all things are the offspring of rest and motion." In terms of mutability Gregory considered the heavens to be at rest, and the earth and everything on it to be in constant alteration. This is a Platonic theme. The Greeks considered the Platonic Forms to be unchanging heavenly patterns for earthly realities. Platonists spoke of two realms: the heavenly, insensible realm, and the physical realm. But Stoics acknowledged only one realm. In the single realm of the Stoics, everything is linked together in harmony by the Logos. So Gregory's exposition of Gen. 1:1 contains an interesting blend of Platonic and Stoic ideas. But such a blend of philosophies was not at all unique. Only the professional philosophers tended to adhere strictly to one s chool of philosophy. The educated Greeks, on the other hand, appropriated philosophical ideas from all of the schools. This is why the middle Platonism of the third century contained not only Platonic concepts, but Stoic ones as well. The Neo-Platonism of Basil and Gregory's day was merely an extension of Middle Platonism. Middle Platonism had been superseded by Neo-Platonism, but as the foundation for Neo-Platonism, it lived on. In his exposition of Genesis chapter one, from the very first verse, Gregory employed philosophical ideas that would be familiar to the educated Greeks of his time. Middle Platonism, and Neo-Platonism were the measures of wisdom and rationality for educated Greeks of the fourth century. If Gregory's aim was to convince educated Greeks that God is a wise Creator, then he used appropriate arguments.
Basil discusses the creation of the sun and the moon on the fourth day of the creation week. In his exposition regarding the moon, Basil reflects the Platonic idea that things in the sensible realm are constantly subject to alteration. He writes:
Now it is not without a secret reason of the divine Maker of the universe, that the moon appears from time to time under such different forms. It presents a striking example of our nature. Nothing is stable in man; here from nothingness he raises himself to perfection; there after having hastened to put forth his strength to attain his full greatness he suddenly is subject to gradual deterioration, and is destroyed by diminution.
As Basil expresses the greatness of these aspects of God's creation, he writes of an invisible moisture given off by the moon:
I believe also that the variations of the moon do not take place without exerting great influence upon the organization of animals and of all living things. This is because bodies are differently disposed at its waxing and waning. When she wanes they lose their density and become void. When she waxes and is approaching her fullness they appear to fill themselves at the same time with her, thanks to an imperceptible moisture that she emits mixed with heat, which penetrates everywhere.
Here he follows Epicurus. Epicurus' teaching about vapors from celestial bodies is an implication of his theory of knowledge. Epicurus taught that knowledge is gained through sensation. Objects, including celestial objects, emit "effluences." When effluences from many objects intermix, images become less distinct. Therefore, objects on earth appear smaller at a distance, since effluences from nearer earthly objects intermix. But heavenly objects, such as the sun and moon are far from other objects, and so there is no intermixing of effluences. Therefore, the sensations received from the sun and moon are distinct. And because the sensations of the sun and moon are distinct, the apparent sizes of the sun and moon, according to Epicurus, actually represent the true sizes of the sun and moon. So, Epicurus held that the sun and moon are both about one foot in diameter.
But Basil denies Epicurus' sensationalist notion about the sizes of the sun and moon when he writes:
In whatever part of heaven they may be, whether rising, or setting, or in mid heaven, they appear always the same in the eyes of men, a manifest proof of their prodigious size. For the whole extent of heaven cannot make them appear greater in one place and smaller in another. Objects which we see afar off appear dwarfed to our eyes, and in measure as they approach us we can form a juster [sic] idea of their size. But there is no one who can be nearer or more distant from the sun. All the inhabitants of the earth see it at the same distance. . . . Do not be deceived by mere appearance, and because it looks a cubits breadth, imagine it to be no bigger. At a very great distance objects always lose size in our eyes.
So Basil accepts Epicurus' notion that the moon gives off a vapor, and he uses this notion in his exposition on the creation. But Basil rejects Epicurus' idea that the moon is only a foot in diameter. Like most other educated Greeks, Basil felt free to pick and choose among the teachings of the various philosophic schools.
Similarly, Gregory, who accepts many Platonic and Stoic ideas, denies both Platonic and Stoic notions concerning the location of the soul. The location of the soul was an issue in philosophical circles. There was a variety of views. Plato had asserted the human soul consists of three parts, one which governs the appetites, one which governs the passions, and one which supplies reason. Plato believed that these three distinctive parts of the soul are in three different parts of the body, and the rational portion of the soul is in the head. Most Stoics asserted that the soul is in the heart. The Stoics believed that each person is directed by his own indwelling logos, or soul. Since the Logos is associated with fire by the Stoics, and since the center of human warmth seems to reside in the chest, then the soul, the indwelling logos, must be in the chest. Neo-Platonists asserted the soul is distributed throughout the body. Gregory of Nyssa rejects Plato's answer, and that of the Stoics, writing:
Let there be an end, then, of all the vain and conjectural discussion of those who confine the intelligible energy to certain bodily organs; of whom some lay it down that the ruling principle is in the heart, while others say that the mind resides in the brain, strengthening such opinions by some plausible superficialities.
Gregory refutes the idea that the soul can be localized to a specific bodily organ, because he considers the human mind a creation in the image of God, and therefore, incomprehensible, like The One of Neo-Platonism. For example, Gregory states, "since the nature of our mind, which is the likeness of the Creator evades our knowledge, it has an accurate resemblance to the superior nature, figuring by its own unknowableness the incomprehensible Nature." Gregory had significant affinity for Neo-Platonism because he shared Neo-Platonism's sense of the extreme transcendence of the Most High, as well as the idea that God can be comprehended not by reasoning alone, but also through mystical contemplation. So Gregory rejects Stoic and Platonic ideas about the location of the soul, and utilizes the Neo-Platonic concept of the simple, unknowable nature of the human mind.
Both Basil and Gregory lived in an eclectic world. Both felt free to utilize accepted philosophical concepts in their creation week expositions, but like their fellow eclectics, they were not bound in allegiance to any particular philosophical system. Because of this eclectic tradition, the influences of the various philosophies are often tightly interwoven in the Cappadocian creation week commentaries.
Basil writes of the fruitless attempts of natural philosophers to explain the essence of the celestial bodies. Some claim that since the celestial bodies move in circles, therefore their motion must be a mixture of downward and upward forces. And since heavy elements (the Greek elements earth and water) tend to move downward, and light elements (the Greek elements air and fire) tend to move upward, the celestial bodies must be composed of a mixture of the four Greek elements. Other philosophers point out that when elements whose forces oppose one another are mixed, the result is mutual destruction. Therefore, the celestial bodies must be composed of a fifth, "other-worldly" element, called "ether." Basil claims this lack of consensus among the philosophers is evidence of their ignorance of the truth. In contrast to their fruitless speculations, the wise observer ought simply to glorify God for His wisdom, and acknowledge the limits of human comprehension. For example, Basil decries fruitless speculation on the foundation of the earth by Aristotle and other philosophers. He writes, "as concerns the earth, let us resolve not to torment ourselves by trying to find out its essence, not to tire our reason by seeking for the substance which it conceals." Since man does not understand many things, as shown when philosophers constantly refute one another, man should simply praise God for His superior wisdom. Basil writes, "Do not let us undertake to follow them for fear of falling into like frivolities; let them refute each other, and, without disquieting ourselves about essence, let us say with Moses 'God created the heavens and the earth.'"
Gregory of Nyssa seems to value philosophical discussion more than his brother. Regarding the purpose of On the Making of Man, Gregory declares:
We must fit together, according to the explanation of Scripture and to that derived from reasoning, those statements concerning [man] which seem, by a kind of necessary sequence, to be opposed, so that our whole subject may be consistent in train of thought and in order, as the Statements that seem to be contrary are brought (if the Divine power so discovers a hope for what is beyond hope, and a way for what is inextricable) to one and the same end . . .
Gregory had a mind that was often drawn to philosophical questions. This is evident from On the Making of Man. Gregory claims his exposition is intended as a completion of the Hexaemeron. Yet while the Hexaemeron is largely a verse by verse exposition, On the Making of Man is not. The chapters of On the Making of Man do not address verses and phrases from Genesis 1, as do the chapters of the Hexaemeron. Rather, they address philosophical and apologetic concerns.
Gregory's exposition of Gen. 1:1 embraces this geocentric view of the cosmos. Gregory asserted the wisdom of God, as shown by the fact that God created the heavens and the earth as two extremes, which encompass the rest of creation. And if the extremes of the heavens and the earth are in harmony, everything in between must also be in harmony. The harmony of the whole is established by proving the harmony of the extremes. And the order and harmony of God's creation reflects the rationality of the Creator. The Greeks valued rationality, and respected rational deities. So Gregory felt it significant that the Lord created an orderly universe. As discussed above, Gregory argued the rationality of the cosmos in part by asserting a harmony between the heavens and the earth, based on that idea that mutability is common to both extremes of the cosmos. Earth is mutable in form, but immutable in position. And the heavens are mutable in position, but immutable in form. This argument for the harmony of the cosmos and wisdom of its Creator relies on the idea that the earth is absolutely stable in its physical position and orientation. Thus, Gregory's philosophical argument for the rationality of the creation depends on fourth century science, because it demands a geocentric view of the cosmos.
the universe in musical terms. Plotinus states that entities of the universe are like voices in a chorus, because they all contribute to the harmony of the whole. He also writes, "all things are woven into one, and are marvelously in tune, and things come from other things, even if they come from opposites." Basil employs similar language concerning cosmic harmony. He writes, "the singer of the Psalms does not reject the deeps which our inventors of allegories rank in the divisions of evil; he admits them to the universal choir of creation, and the deeps sing in their language a harmonious hymn to the glory of the Creator." Basil sees this cosmic harmony even down at the level of the building blocks of the material realm, in the combining of the four Greek elements:
It is by the combination of their qualities that the different elements can mingle. Thanks to a common quality each of them mixes with a neighboring element, and this natural alliance attaches it to the contrary element. For example, earth, which is at the same time dry and cold, finds in cold a relationship which unites it to water, and by the means of water unites itself to air. Water placed between the two . . . And from this accord and from this mutual mixture of elements, results a circle and an harmonious choir whence each of the elements deserves its name.
The phrase "by the combination of their qualities that the different elements can mingle" alludes to the Stoic view of matter which held that the elements combine in such a way that harmony is preserved. For example, according to this Stoic "material harmony" concept, red hot iron is a combination of two elements: fire (which contributes heat and light), and earth (which contributes solidity and weight). This material harmony concept asserts that there is harmony across unions. In the above red hot iron example, fire is joined to earth. The material in the union, red hot iron, exhibits an intermingling of properties of the constituent elements. As Basil states above, "Thanks to a common quality each of them mixes with a neighboring element." In the above quotation from Basil's fourth Hexaemeron homily, water is between earth and air. Water is placed between earth and air like a puzzle piece, fitted so that the properties of each element may intermingle harmoniously. The intermingling of properties of earth, water, and air is illustrated in table three: Table 3 Intermingling of Properties of the Elements
Element earth water air Common cold cold, lightness Property lightnessGregory of Nyssa utilizes this Stoic "union via properties" idea in On the Making of Man to explain the union of the soul with the body. He writes, "neither is there perception without material substance, nor does the act of perception take place without the intellectual faculty." What he means is that it is the senses that enable there to be a union between the physical and intellectual components of man. This union is illustrated in table four: Table 4 Intermingling of the Physical and Intellectual Aspects of Man
|Human Aspect||physical body||intellect|
|Common Property||sensory ability||sensory ability|
Then see, Cebes, if this is not the conclusion from all that we have said, that the soul is most like the divine and immortal and intellectual and uniform and indissoluble and ever unchanging, and the body, on the contrary, most like the human and mortal and multiform and unintellectual and dissoluble and ever changing.
Basil uses the Neo-Platonic concept of diastema in his exposition. He uses diastema to discuss the length of the creation week. He uses the diastema concept to speak of day one as a separate state from the other days. He connects the first day with eternity. Basil points out that Moses does not name that day "the first day." Moses calls all of the others days by their numerical names: "second day," "third day," and so on. But Moses calls that day "one day." Basil sees this as a reference to the concept of simple unity. The One of Neo-Platonism had no trace of diastema. Where there is no diastema, and there is only simple unity, then no attributes are present. Therefore the length of a day without diastema cannot be measured. It is infinite. Basil writes:
If then the beginning of time is called "one day" rather than "the first day," it is because Scripture wishes to establish its relationship with eternity. It was, in reality, fit and natural to call "one" the day whose character is to be one wholly separated and isolated from all the others. If Scripture speaks to us of many ages, saying everywhere, "age of age, and ages of ages," we do not see it enumerate them as first, second, and third. It follows that we are hereby shown not so much limits, ends and succession of ages, as distinctions between various states and modes of action.
With these notions, Basil sees the first day belonging to eternity. In his view, the creation week is not 168 hours in length, it is infinite because the first day occurs in eternity.
The concept of the return to the heavenly realm was familiar to the Greeks, not simply because of its occurrence in Plato and philosophers influenced by him, but also because of its occurrence in Gnostic thought. In fact, the idea of return to the heavenly realm, by means of gnosis, is a major theme of Gnosticism. This Gnostic return idea is represented concisely in the Gospel of Truth:
He who knows is a being from above. If he is called, he hears, he replies, he turns to him who calls him, in order to come back to him. And he knows what he is called. Possessing gnosis, he carries out the will of him who has called him; he desires to do what pleases him. He receives rest. He who thus possesses gnosis knows whence he has come and whither he goes. He knows, like a man who has been drunk and awakens from the drunkenness in which he was, returning to himself and restoring what belongs to him.
As one would expect of a bishop, Gregory of Nyssa affirms the biblical idea of the resurrection of men. But interestingly, he appeals to both Platonic and Stoic philosophical ideas in order to support his case. He does not allude to Gnostic theory, but freely alludes to Platonic and Stoic ideas. Gregory states, "that the resurrection is looked for as a consequence, not so much from the declaration of Scripture as from the very nature of things." Here Gregory explicitly declares his argument is philosophical, for while he upholds Scripture, by his own admission, he does not here rely on Scripture in order to prove his case. His argument is a syllogism. The two predicates are the downward decent of man, and the mutable nature of man. Gregory's Greek audience would have had little trouble accepting both, for they are both Platonic concepts, and one was Stoic as well.
The mutability of man is a Platonic idea. Plato posited that earthly entities, man included, are patterned after unchanging, eternal Forms in the heavenly realm. And our human condition in the physical realm is in constant alteration.
The downward decent of man is a Neo-Platonic concept which was adopted from Stoicism. The Stoics believed in the emergence of all things out of the Logos. At the same time, they also believed that all things are ever striving to return back into the Logos, and that they eventually shall return. Many Stoics affirmed repeating cycles of emanation out of the Logos, followed by cycles of return, in vast, cosmic conflagrations. As previously noted, many Stoic concepts were absorbed into Platonism in the Middle Platonic period. Accordingly, some Middle Platonists adopted this Stoic notion of emanation and return. These Middle Platonists believed that human souls once existed in the insensible realm, and that the souls of the virtuous will return to the insensible realm. Plotinus, the founder of Neo-Platonism, combined the Stoic emanation and return idea into Neo-Platonism. Neo-Platonism holds that all existence emanates out of The One. All things strive to return to The One, and someday shall. The Neo-Platonic philosopher contemplates the Forms, for they are the thoughts of The Mind. As the philosopher comprehends The Mind, he gains insight into The One, for The Mind emanated out of The One. Ascent towards The One proceeds through The Mind. At the same time, The One is ultimately beyond the reach of reason. But the Neo-Platonic philosopher may occasionally gain fleeting mystical glimpses of The One. With these ideas, Neo-Platonists asserted the descent from The One, and return of the human soul to The One.
Gregory wrote of the descent and return of the soul, "when it has run through the lengths that can be run in wickedness, of necessity turns its motion towards good." This "necessity" Gregory refers to is a philosophical necessity, based on human mutability. As mentioned above, Platonists held that human nature is mutable. Gregory's point is that mutability must affect the direction of movement of the human soul. Initially, the human soul is in a state of descent towards wickedness. But even the direction of the soul is mutable, and therefore, must reverse at some point away from wickedness. Gregory writes, "the ever-moving character of our nature comes to run its course at the last once more back towards good." The eventual result of such a course is the restoration of the person in heaven. Gregory concludes, "I think that we ought to understand about ourselves, that on passing the limit of wickedness we shall again have our conversation in light . . . Paradise therefore will be restored . . ." Note here that Gregory seems to depart from the biblical idea of everlasting damnation. He affirms a type of Universalism, in which even those in hell will be ultimately released. Gregory's early mentor, Origen, had also speculated about universal salvation. But where Origen had speculated about repeating cycles of soul descent and restoration, Gregory only affirms an ultimate restoration. Here, Gregory seems to be more influenced by Plotinus than by Origen.
Most Greeks had come to believe that matter has always existed. The Stoics had taught the idea of "conflagration," in which all creation returns to the Logos. Later, a new creation is emanated out of the Logos, and cycles of creation and conflagration continue without end. But in the first and second centuries B.C., this doctrine dropped out of Stoicism and was replaced by the notion of the eternal existence of the cosmos.
The idea that matter existed eternally gradually became the prevailing view of matter in the Middle Platonic period. Some Middle Platonists held onto the idea of the eternal existence of the cosmos, which had developed in Stoicism, as mentioned above. Others thought differently. In the Timaeus, Plato wrote:
Now the whole Heaven, or Cosmos, or if there is any other name which it specially prefers, by that let us call it, so, be its name what it may, we must first investigate concerning it that primary question which has to be investigated at the outset in every case, namely, whether it has existed always, having no beginning of generation, or whether it has come into existence, having begun from some beginning. It has come into existence; for it is visible and tangible and possessed of a body; and all such things are sensible, and things sensible, being apprehensible by opinion with the aid of sensation, come into existence, as we saw, and are generated.
Passages such as this led many Middle Platonists to believe that matter did not exist eternally, that it had been created at a point in time. But gradually the eternal existence of creation came to be the dominant view in Middle Platonism. By the Middle Platonic period, Platonists, Stoics, Aristotelians and Gnostics had all presupposed that God used pre-existing chaotic matter in creation.
Some Judeo-Christian expositors in the first and second centuries were influenced by Middle Platonism, and asserted that God created using existing matter. Others affirmed creation ex nihilo. Philo is ambiguous. Neither Justin Martyr nor Clement insisted that God created ex nihilo. But Tatian, Theophilus of Antioch, and Irenaeus asserted that God created both the form and the matter of the universe.
Origen disagreed with Philo by denying that God used eternally-existing matter in creation. The context of Origen's assertion about matter was his debate with the dualistic Gnostics, who asserted that evil results from association with matter.
Basil engaged the issue of eternally existing matter in his exposition of Gen. 1:2. Gen. 1:2 in the Septuagint states that in its initial state, the earth was "invisible and unfashioned" (aoratos kai akataskeuastos). Regardless of whether Basil used the Septuagint or some other text, he and his contemporaries understood Gen. 1:2 as saying that the earth was initially invisible. Basil opposed those who took Gen. 1:2 to imply that matter was eternally existing, but initially unformed, and therefore invisible. Basil writes, "The corrupters of the truth . . . pretend that these words mean matter. For it is matter, they say, which from its nature is without form and invisible, being by the conditions of its existence without quality and without form and figure." These "corrupters" believed that matter existed eternally, but without any form whatsoever. Because the eternal matter had no form, it was without attribute. And with no attributes, matter had to be invisible.
Basil denies that interpretation, and proceeds to offer an alternate understanding of the earth's invisibility. He formulates three reasons why Moses could write of an invisible earth. First, man the spectator had not yet been created. Second, the earth was hidden under the waters. And third, light was yet uncreated, and so darkness hid everything. Having explained "invisible," he continues to attack the idea that matter is eternal. Those who believe that matter has existed from eternity claim, "The form of the world is due to the wisdom of the supreme Artificer; matter came to the Creator from without; and thus the world results from a double origin." The "supreme Artificer" Basil refers to is a reference to Plato. Plato discussed the creation of the physical universe in Timaeus. The universe was fashioned by an Artificer (demiourgos) who used the Forms as a pattern. Basil explains that only human craftsmen fashion pre-existing matter. By contrast, "God . . . imagined the world such as it ought to be, and created matter in harmony with the form which He wished to give it." In saying that God "imagined the world such as it ought to be," Basil echoes the Middle Platonic and Neo-Platonic idea that the Forms are both the thoughts of The Mind, and the patterns for the physical realm. In both the Middle and Neo-Platonic view, and in Basil's viewpoint, the Creator first conceived mental patterns for the universe, then created the universe according to these patterns. Basil again denies the notion that God simply fashioned pre-existing matter. Basil elaborates, "He formed, as He wished, fire, air and water, and gave to each the essence which the object of its existence required."
Gregory of Nyssa argues that an eternal God can create finite matter. His opponents posited that the immaterial God is of the immaterial realm, not of the material realm. Therefore, God could not have created matter, since His essence is different than that of matter. This is a reflection of the Greek idea that "like springs from like." Basil expressed this notion in Hex. 2.4 when he declared, "the contrary cannot proceed from its contrary." But Gregory argues that if the attributes of an object, such as weight, color, and the like, are removed, material existence disappears. Since attributes are of the intelligible realm, and material existence depends on the presence of the attributes, material existence can indeed spring out of the intelligible realm. But Gregory's argument is weak, for his opponents could reply that material existence does not disappear when attributes are removed. The matter would remain, but it would be invisible. This is the same point that Basil's opponents made regarding Gen. 1:2. But Gregory ultimately affirms creation ex nihilo by faith. He declares, "we must direct our discourse once more to the faith by which we accept the statement that the universe took being from nothing." (Italacs added.)
Basil and Gregory did not hesitate to utilize Middle Platonic and Neo-Platonic themes in their expositions of the first chapter of Genesis. But their opposition to the concept of the eternal existence of matter shows that the Cappadocians sought to make philosophy the servant of theology, not its master.
So in this broad sense the Stoics posited that fire must be the element that causes motion. It is not too hard to imagine how the Stoics could have conceived this idea, for while earth, air, and water are often observed in a state of rest, fire is always seen in motion. The flames of fire constantly flicker.
The Stoics believed that fire is the physical manifestation of the Logos. The Stoics believed that the Logos establishes all order and differentiation in the cosmos. They viewed the motion of all things as conforming to an over-all harmony and order. With such preconceptions they drew the conclusion that the Logos is the ultimate cause of all motion. So the Greek element which is always in motion, fire, must be the physical manifestation of the Logos. Consistent with these ideas, the Stoics, who believed that all things will be drawn back to the Logos, held that the Logos will reabsorb all things in a cosmic conflagration.
Some Stoics brought these philosophical preconceptions into their speculations about the nature of the celestial bodies. The Stoic Cleanthes (third century B.C.), believed that the Logos is manifested most in that greatest concentration of fire seen in the natural realm, that is, in the sun. Such Stoic concepts eventually had a great impact on Middle Platonism, and Neo-Platonism.
In the Middle Platonic period many held that the cosmos is a being. So just as the human mind governs the human body with reason, so the physical universe itself is ultimately governed by the Logos, but immediately governed by subordinate logoi. These Middle Platonists claimed that the subordinate governing logoi are in fact the gods of Greek mythology. According to this line of thinking then the stars and planets are the visible manifestations of the Greek gods. Because of this popular belief from the first and second centuries it is not surprising that the planets were named after major Greek gods and goddesses.
Origen lived at the beginning of the Neo-Platonic period, and the Middle Platonic period was still in recent memory. Thus, it is not surprising that Origen interacts with the idea that the sun, moon, planets, and stars are actually heavenly spirits, which visibly blaze with fire. He seeks to buttress his argument that individual souls were formed in eternity past, received material bodies, and will ultimately return to God in the end. Origen desires to show that his theory is consistent in both the celestial and earthly realms. If the celestial bodies have souls, their souls were formed prior to their material bodies, according to Origen's doctrine of the soul. Origen utilizes a combination of Scriptural proof texts and Middle Platonic philosophy to establish that the sun, moon, and stars indeed have souls, and that these souls existed prior to the physical bodies. Origen expresses the question of whether the celestial bodies are manifestations of celestial logoi by reminding his readers of Paul's statement, that "by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created by Him and for Him." Then Origen posits that these thrones, dominions, and principalities include the sun, moon, planets, and stars. He claims that the celestial bodies are in fact rational and living beings because God gives them commands. And if God gives commands to the sun, moon, planets and stars, He surely considers these celestial bodies capable of hearing and obeying. Therefore, these heavenly bodies must be living and rational. Origen cites a statement of Bildad in the book of Job concerning the standing of the stars: "The stars are not pure in His sight." Origen's implication is that the stars are therefore capable of sin, and are therefore rational beings. He refers to other texts in order to prove that the celestial bodies are living, rational beings. He refers to Jer. 7:18; 8:2, and other texts in Jeremiah which suggest that the moon was thought of as the "queen of heaven;" and Gen. 1:16, which speaks of the sun and moon ruling the day and the night. Origen argues that if the sun and moon exercise rule, they must be rational beings. He does not admit the use of personification as a literary device in these passages.
Basil's opinion on planetary spirits is quite different than that of Origen. When Basil considers the creation of the heavenly bodies, he comments on the foolishness of astrology. Basil refutes the idea that the celestial bodies are able to cause good or evil on earth, as if these bodies are rational agents. Basil exclaims, "Is it not the height of folly to tell these lies about beings without souls?" Basil also denies speculations concerning planetary spirits in his third Hexaemeron homily, writing, "The heavens are not endowed with life because they 'show forth the glory of God,' nor is the firmament a perceptive being because it 'declareth the work of his hands.'" Origen feels free to speculate. But Basil refuses to do so. And Basil not only refuses to speculate along these lines, he rejects the speculations of Origen who was his early hermeneutical mentor. If Basil had wanted to reserve speculation about celestial bodies for mature and educated hearers and to shield these speculations from the less mature hearers of his creation week homilies, he could have simply passed over the issue. But he takes a stand, and refutes Origen's speculation. Basil's refutation of Origen here shows that although Basil promoted Origen's hermeneutic early in his career, at the end he rejected at least some of Origen's wilder speculations. This is consistent with Basil's overall attitude about theological speculation. Basil criticized Apollinarius' theological works because they were built "not out of Scriptural proofs, but out of human arguments." As a result, Apollinarius caused his readers to become "intent on innovations," and to lose sight of "the ancient character of true religion."
Plato had asserted that The Good created order out of an existing chaos. Before this action by The Good there was no order whatsoever. Even time itself did not exist. And so Platonists valued rationality. One of the main elements of Platonic mysticism is contemplation of the Forms, by nature an exercise in logic. Plato taught that disciplined and pure souls ascend upwards towards the realm of the gods. He compared this ascent to a chariot ride. The soul of a man is like a winged horse drawing a chariot. A soul that is pure and disciplined is like a horse whose wings grow larger, enabling it to ascend more easily. But an evil and undisciplined soul is like a horse that becomes heavy. A chariot with such a horse is like a soul whose ascent is hindered, and for whom the ascent involves much struggle and effort.
Aristotle had rejected the Forms, but postulated the existence of a Supreme Good. According to Aristotle the Supreme Good could be known via reason, specifically through making syllogistic deductions.
The Stoics asserted that there is a pervasive cosmic order and harmony throughout the cosmos, established by the Logos. The wise Stoic sought to follow reason in all his behavior, so that he might conform as much as possible to the cosmic order, and by so doing, experience greater harmony with all things.
The Greeks valued reason, and saw it as inherently opposed to irrational passions. Because of their high regard for reason the Greeks regarded the struggle against irrational passions to be a fundamental human struggle. So by addressing the issue of irrational passions, Gregory confronted his audience with the relevance of Christianity to their concerns.
Many of the Greeks felt that irrational passions are an unfortunate consequence of possessing a physical body. If man could be free of his physical body, he could be free from the harmful influence of matter itself. Plotinus viewed matter as evil and the source of human evil. Not only is matter evil, it is in fact "non-being." It seems real, but that is because it has properties that are detected by the senses. True being is spiritual, according to Plotinus. He asserted that although matter itself is evil, it is ordered by The Mind, which is the ruling principle of matter. Thus ordered matter reflects the Forms and is no longer evil, but rather has been shaped into something good.
The Gnostics often agreed with Platonic ideas about imprisonment in material bodies. The Gnostic Carpocrates overcame passions by experiencing everything of this world. He believed the human soul dwells in another physical body after death, to continue experiencing the material world, until full experience has been achieved. He took Matthew's instruction, "Settle matters quickly with your adversary . . . while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison," to refer to settling the full experience issue lest one be cast into the prison of yet another physical body. While Carpocrates illustrates a Gnostic response of licentiousness to the problem of embodiment, other Gnostics denied their physical passions so that they might focus on mystical return to the spiritual realms. But in either case, Gnostic doctrine viewed the physical body as a prison from which the Gnostic must escape.
It was not only the Gnostics who interpreted biblical texts dealing with the physical body allegorically. Christian interpreters from the Alexandrian tradition did so as well. Origen had written a commentary on Genesis, but unfortunately it has been lost. However, Didymus the Blind, an Alexandrian who lived in the fourth century, wrote a commentary on Genesis. Not surprisingly, Didymus interprets Gen. 3:21 allegorically, claiming that the coats of skin which God supplied after the fall of man are symbolic of physical bodies. Didymus' interpretation asserts that a consequence of the fall into sin is that humans, who previously enjoyed lightweight, spiritual bodies, are henceforth weighed down with heavy, physical bodies. Because Didymus faithfully followed in the exegetical footsteps of Origen, one might expect Didymus' understanding of Gen. 3:21 to be similar to Origen's. This proposal about how Origen might have interpreted Gen. 3:21 is speculative. But it is consistent with Origen's allegiance to Platonism. Plato's allegory of the chariot teaches that impurity weighs down the soul, hindering its spiritual ascent. In a similar vein Didymus interpreted Gen. 3:21 to mean that sin caused humans to be weighed down and retarded by heavy physical bodies.
Didymus and Gregory of Nyssa (and perhaps Origen) would have agreed with Plato that impurity weighs down the soul, and they would have disagreed with the Neo-Platonic idea that physical embodiment causes evil. Origen had asserted that evil stems from the misuse of free will. He declared, "If you take away the element of free will from virtue, you destroy its very essence." Gregory of Nyssa follows Origen in affirming free will, declaring, "Now since by a motion of our self-will we contracted a fellowship with evil." Gregory believed that the misuse of free will is responsible for human evil, and not the idea that souls have descended into physical bodies.
In On the Making of Man Gregory explains how man, created in the image of God, came to possess irrational passions. According to Pfister, the major goal of On the Making of Man is to explain how man, created in the image of the immortal and holy One, came to have a physical body which is mortal and subject to bodily passions. Gregory expresses these concerns by asking, "How is the incorporeal likened to body? how is the temporal like the eternal? that which is mutable by change like to the immutable? that which is subject to passion and corruption to the impassable and incorruptible?" This very concern about passion expresses Greek rationality. In this quotation Gregory also alludes to the Platonic idea that the insensible realm is unchanging, while the physical realm is constantly changing. Gregory here speaks in harmony with the biblical concepts that God is unchanging, but man undergoes decay and development. Along these lines Paul wrote, "though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day." But here Gregory regards mutability to be an important category, just as significant as corporeality and corruption. It may be that Gregory was expressing his query in the language of Platonism, which pervaded fourth century Greek thought. For Platonism regarded the heavenly realm as the eternal realm of the unchanging Forms, and the physical universe as a realm in constant change. This is particularly true of Middle Platonism. Middle Platonism had absorbed Stoicism's stress on development, which naturally involves alteration. The Neo-Platonism of Gregory's day was based on Middle Platonism, and so it too pictured the physical realm in constant development.
Gregory uses Gen. 1:26-27 to answer the question of how man, mortal and subject to animal passions, is created in the image of God. He sees the image in Gen. 1:26, and the adoption of irrational passions in Gen. 1:27. In Gen. 1:26 and 27a, God creates mankind in His own image. This creation is the ideal, unfallen man, who clearly reflects the image of God. This initial creation of man gave him a sort of angelic existence. About this original state of man Gregory writes, "it is clear that the life before the transgression was a kind of angelic life." Furthermore, this initial creation is not simply the creation of a single individual. It is the creation of mankind as a whole, of the totality of all human individuals. Gregory states, "I think that the entire plenitude of humanity was included by the God of all, by His power of foreknowledge, as it were in one body, and that this is what the text teaches us which says, 'God created man, in the image of God created He him.'" But then 1:27b goes on to state, "male and female He created them." Gregory views this as a second creation in which man, formerly asexual, like the angels, is recreated as a sexual being. Why should God have recreated man as a sexual being? Because God foresaw that man would fall into sin. Because of his sin man would fall from his former angel-like state. As a result, says Gregory, man could no longer procreate as the angels do. Man must now procreate as the animals do, by means of sex. So for Gregory a result of the fall was that man took on a sexual nature. And as a result of becoming a sexual being, says Gregory, man came to share in the irrational passions experienced by animals. By "irrational" Gregory does not mean that instinctive drives, such as hunger and sexual lust, have no useful purpose. He means that these drives are not founded on the reasoning ability of the human mind. Human irrational passions go hand in hand with sexual procreation according to Gregory, for he states:
As brute life first entered into the world, and man, for the reason already mentioned, took something of their nature (I mean the mode of generation), he accordingly took at the same time a share of the other attributes contemplated in that nature; for the likeness of man to God is not found in anger, nor is pleasure a mark of the superior nature; cowardice also, and boldness, and the desire of gain, and the dislike of loss, and all the like, are far removed from that stamp which indicates Divinity. (Italacs added.)
Thus, irrational passions did not arise from the original creation, which easily reflected the image of God. And irrational passions did not result from possession of a physical body. Rather, human irrational passions arose because man became a sexual being as a result of the fall. Here Gregory agrees with Philo who stated that sexual pleasure was the beginning of transgressions. In On the Making of Man Gregory asserts that the divine image in man is devoid of irrational passions. Passions are not obtained from the divine image, but are a consequence of our sexual nature, an aspect of our being that does not stem from the divine image. He states:
[Man is found] being molded in the Divine element of his mind to the Divine beauty, but bearing, in the passionate impulses that arise in him, a likeness to the brute nature . . . for whenever a man drags down his mental energy to these affections, and forces his reason to become a servant of his passions, there takes a sort of conversion of the good stamp in him into the irrational image . . .
Christian apologists were able to gain credibility by expressing Christian themes using Platonic and Stoic terminology and by highlighting areas where Scripture agreed with the wisdom of the philosophers. The issue of irrational passions was one such area. The ideal of reason overcoming passion was valued both by Platonists and by Stoics. In his allegory of the chariot, Plato asserted that the soul is weighed down by impurity. The soul is like a winged horse, and if it is disciplined and driven diligently, will ascend higher in the spiritual realm. Therefore, the wise Platonist sought to control his passions. Similarly, the Stoics asserted an overall rationality that pervades the entire universe. They asserted there is a harmony and order in the cosmos. And because of this pervading rational order the wise Stoic orders his life to conform as much as possible to reason. So for both Platonists and Stoics passions were to be avoided. The Greek ideal of denying one's passions is similar to the Christian ideal of denying the flesh and setting one's mind on the things above.
Of the two brothers, Basil was more inclined to reject philosophical speculation. This is illustrated by the degree to which each brother affirmed the speculations of Origen, the early mentor of the Cappadocians. Basil rejected Origen's idea that the sun, moon, planets, and stars possess souls. But Gregory agreed with Origen that in the final restoration, all souls will return to God in heaven, even those that were initially relegated to hell.
The Cappadocian exposition of the very first verse of Genesis illustrates Gregory's theological dependence on and independence from his older brother. Gregory adopted Basil's insight regarding heaven and earth as extremes of creation, between which the rest of creation came into existence. But Gregory expanded and developed the insight, weaving in a number of Platonic and Stoic themes. When he was done, Gregory had constructed an exposition of the first verse in the Bible that expressed biblical truth in a way that carried much philosophical credibility. But his exposition did not utilize contemporary philosophy only to gain credibility. For both Cappadocians consistently emphasized the wisdom of the Creator manifested in His creation. Gregory not only wove Platonic and Stoic themes into his exposition of Gen. 1:1, but he used those themes to remind his readers that the wise Creator established multiple varieties of cosmic harmony throughout the unfallen creation. The exposition of Gen. 1:1 shows that Gregory respected his brother, but also used his own talent for theological and philosophical analysis to expand upon his brother's ideas. This tendency is also seen in the overall nature of the two creation week commentaries. Basil's Hexaemeron tends to be a verse by verse exposition without a deep interaction with contemporary ideas regarding the cosmos. By contrast, Gregory's On the Making of Man is structured not as a verse by verse exposition but as a series of interactions with contemporary ideas.
It may be that the Scriptures alone caused Basil to hold such a high view of God's transcendence. But if the Neo-Platonic idea of divine simplicity does not influence Basil's exposition strategy, it certainly influenced his actual exposition of the first day of creation. Concerning the first day Basil wrote, "If then, the beginning of time is called 'one day' rather than 'the first day,' it is because Scripture wishes to establish its relationship with eternity." Basil believed the first day of creation to be infinite in length. In Neo-Platonism, diastema marks everything which has emanated out of the simple unity of The One. Time itself is simply the diastema that separates events. So time itself was created by God. Time was one of the first creations, and God created it on the first day, that eternal day of the creation week.
The Cappadocians were preoccupied by different concerns than those of modern interpreters of Genesis 1. Many modern exegetes are anxious to uphold the biblical account of creation in the face of perceived threats from the findings of geology, biology, and astrophysics. Many of these modern exegetes claim that according to Genesis 1, the creation week consists of seven twenty-four hour days. And these exegetes sometimes assert that this interpretation has been the traditional view of the church. But Basil of Caesarea, like Origen before him, believed that the first day of creation was infinite in length, because it began before time itself. Likewise in the west, Augustine viewed the six days of creation not as twenty-four hour days, but as logical steps in a creation sequence which does not denote any sense of duration. The church has in fact promoted a variety of views regarding the length of the creation week throughout its history.
Gregory exhibited a Neo-Platonic bent when he wrote about the restoration of all things. He used a Platonic argument to establish that all men will eventually return to God, even souls in hell. Concerning this Gregory asserted, "I think that we ought to understand about ourselves, that on passing the limit of wickedness we shall again have our conversation in light." His idea that all souls will eventually return to their Creator paralleled the Neo-Platonic concept that everything emanated out of The One, and will eventually return to The One. This idea was reminiscent of the speculations of Origen concerning the ultimate salvation of Satan and the demons.
Gregory, however, reveled in theological expression. He wrote On the Making of Man in order to complete the exposition of Genesis 1 begun by his brother. But instead of simply extolling the power and wisdom of the Creator using observations of the natural realm, Gregory concerned himself with philosophical questions. He commented on the location of the soul in the body and the descent and recapitulation of human souls. He echoed Basil's idea of heaven and earth as the extremes of the created realm. But Gregory then developed it into an innovative expression of the Stoic cosmic harmony concept.
The Cappadocians were greatly influenced by philosophy, yet they opposed philosophical views that threatened fourth century orthodoxy. With Origen they attacked the prevailing Greek notion that matter is eternal and uncreated. It is to their credit that while they accepted the Neo-Platonic concept of divine simplicity, they did not abandon Trinitarianism. But in fact they were the great defenders of Nicea in the latter half of the fourth century. And their philosophical training strengthened their defense. Basil's logical sensitivity enabled him to clarify the difference between essence (ousia) and person (upostasis), and so bring resolution to the trinitarian controversy. Gregory's logical sensitivity enabled him to insist that the distinction between the persons of the Trinity is based not on degree of glory but on relationship. Because they cherished the deposit of faith given to the church, they used their philosophical talent in order to defend Nicea.
The Cappadocians valued philosophy as a servant of fourth century orthodoxy. But they did not claim that reason can ultimately comprehend God. Under the influence of Neo-Platonism they emphasized the transcendence of God. Consistent with this emphasis they acknowledged that human logic is limited, so that there will always be an element of divine mystery. With these values they echoed the exclamation of the apostle: "By common confession great is the mystery of godliness."
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2 Basil of Caesarea, "The Hexaemeron," in The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, vol. 8, ed. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, trans. Rev. Blomfield Jackson, reproduced in The Sage Digital Library, vol. 1-4 [CD-ROM]. Albany, OR: Sage Software, 1996. BACK
3 Gregory of Nyssa, "On the Making of Man," in The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, vol. 5, ed. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, reproduced in The Sage Digital Library, vol. 1-4 [CD-ROM]. Albany, OR: Sage Software, 1996. BACK
4 The nine homilies of the Hexaemeron provide a full exposition of Gen. 1:1-25, but say little about the creation of man. On the Making of Man consists of two homilies, numbered X and XI, concerning the creation of man. For details concerning the dating of the Hexaemeron and On the Making of Man, see Philip Rousseau, Basil of Caesarea (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994), 360-363. BACK
5 Richard Lim, "The Politics of Interpretation in Basil of Caesarea's Hexaemeron," Vigiliae Christianae 44 (1990): 351-370. BACK
6 Philip Rousseau, Basil of Caesarea (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994). BACK
7 Here Eunomius is basing his argument on Acts 2:36, which states, "Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ--this Jesus whom you crucified." Unless noted, all English Scripture quotations are from the NASB translation. BACK
8 Harold Cherniss, "The Platonism of Gregory of Nyssa," University of California Publications in Classical Philology 2, no. 1 (May 16, 1930): 1-93; Paulos Gregorios, Cosmic Man: the Divine Presence (New Delhi: Sophia Publications, 1980). BACK
9 John M Rist, "Basil's 'Neoplatonism': Its Background and Nature." In Basil of Caesarea: Christian, Humanist, Ascetic, A Sixteen-Hundredth Anniversary Symposium, ed. Paul Jonathan Fedwick, vol. 1 (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1981), 137-138. BACK
10 Arthur Hilary Armstrong, An Introduction to Ancient Philosophy (Totowa, NJ: Rowman & Allanheld, 1947). BACK
11 Plato lived during the early part of the fourth century B.C. Middle Platonism was the revival of Platonism which occurred in the first and second centuries A.D. Philo of Alexandria (circa 25 B.C.-A.D. 45), and Plutarch (A.D. 45-125) were prominent Middle Platonists. Neo-Platonism was the revival of Platonism that flourished from the third century A.D. throught the fifth century. Plotinus (A.D. 205-269) and his student Porphyry were primary proponents of Neo-Platonism. BACK
12 All English quotations from the Hexaemeron and On the Making of Man are taken from the Library of Nicene & Post-Nicene Fathers (LNPF), ed. Schaff & Roberts, unless noted. BACK
13 For example, Rousseau argues that Basil authored most of On the Making of Man. See Rousseau, p. 318, n. 1. Examples of the view that Gregory of Nyssa authored On the Making of Man can be found in Anthony Meredith, The Cappadocians (Crestwood, NJ: St Vladimer's Seminary Press, 1995), 53; and in Johannes Quasten, Patrology (Westminster, MD: The Newman Press, 1963), 263, cited in John L. Boojamra, "An Investigation of the Christian Attitude towards the Natural Sciences as seen in the Creation Commentary of St. Basil the Great." B.D. thesis, (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary, 1967), 88, n.115. BACK
14 Pythagorian thought is described in Christopher Stead, Philosophy in Christian Antiquity. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 5-6. BACK
15 The thought of Heraclitus is described in Stead, 7-8. BACK
16 The four element theory is decribed in Stead, 10-11. BACK
17 In Phaedo, Plato argues that the Forms exist in the insensible world, and are known via reason, and not via sense perception:
"Well now, what about things of this sort, Simmias? Do we say that there is something just, or nothing?"
"Yes, we most certainly do!"
"And again, something beautiful and good?"
"Now did you ever yet see any such things with your eyes?"
"Well did you grasp them with any other bodily sense-perception? And I'm talking about them all-about largeness, health, and strength, for example-and, in short, about the Being of all other such things, what each one actually is; is it through the body that their truest element is viewed, or isn't it rather thus: whoever of us is prepared to think most fully and minutely of each object of his inquiry, in itself, will come closest to the knowledge of each?"
"Yes, certainly." (Plato, Phaedo, trans. David Gallop [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975] 65d-e.) BACK
18 Kelly points out that Plato initially chose to term this entity "The Good", and later preferred "The One." See J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1978), 15. Plato is perhaps following Pythagorian thought in his use of the term "The One." BACK
19 "Soul drives all things in Heaven and earth and sea by its own motions, of which the names are wish, reflection, forethought, counsel, opinion true and false, joy, grief, confidence, fear, hate, love, and all the motions that are akin to these or are prime-working motions; these, when they take over the secondary motions of bodies, drive them all to increase and decrease and separation and combination, and, supervening on these, to heat and cold, heaviness and lightness, hardness and softness, whiteness and blackness, bitterness and sweetness, and all those qualities which soul employs, both when it governs all things rightly and happily as a true goddess, in conjunction with reason, and when, in converse with unreason, it produces results which are in all respects the opposite." (Plato, Laws [(Medford, MA: Tufts University, 1995) [document on-line]; accessed 13 January 1997; available from http://www.perseus.tufts.edu; Internet.] 896e-897b.) BACK
20 "We are in the habit, I take it, of positing a single idea or form in the case of the various multiplicities to which we give the same name. Do you not understand?" "I do." "In the present case, then, let us take any multiplicity you please; for example, there are many couches and tables." "Of course." "But these utensils imply, I suppose, only two ideas or forms, one of a couch and one of a table." "Yes." "And are we not also in the habit of saying that the craftsman who produces either of them fixes his eyes on the idea or form, and so makes in the one case the couches and in the other the tables that we use, and similarly of other things? For surely no craftsman makes the idea itself. How could he?" "By no means." "But now consider what name you would give to this craftsman." "What one?" "Him who makes all the things that all handicraftsmen severally produce." "A truly clever and wondrous man you tell of." "Ah, but wait, and you will say so indeed, for this same handicraftsman is not only able to make all implements, but he produces all plants and animals, including himself, and thereto earth and heaven and the gods and all things in heaven and in Hades under the earth." (Plato, Republic [(Medford, MA: Tufts University, 1995) [document on-line]; accessed 13 January 1997; available from http://www.perseus.tufts.edu; Internet.] 596a-c.) BACK
21 Timaeus 38C, quoted in Stead, 67. BACK
22 Stead, 33. BACK
23 This discussion of Aristotle's Categories is based on Kelly, 16-17. BACK
24 Kelly, 17. BACK
25 Aristotle, Metaphysics A:II, Everyman's Library edition, John Warrington, trans., quoted in Paulos Gregorios, Cosmic Man: the Divine Presence. (New Delhi: Sophia Publications, 1980), 72. BACK
26 ". . . for there is something which always moves that which is moved, and the 'prime mover' is itself unmoved." (Aristotle, Metaphysics [(Medford, MA: Tufts University, 1995) [document on-line]; accessed 14 January 1997; available from http://www.perseus.tufts.edu; Internet.] 1012b.) The transcendance of the Supreme Good in Aristotle's thought is discussed in Armstrong, Ancient Philosophy, 149-150. BACK
27 Aristotle's modification of the four element theory is described in Stead, 12-13. BACK
28 The descriptions of the Stoic understanding of fire as a visible manifestation of logos, and of the Stoic concept of cosmic harmony, are based on Stead, 41-53. BACK
29 The adoption of these two Platonic ideas is discussed in Armstrong, Ancient Philosophy, 141-144. BACK
30 The development of Middle-Platonism and Neo-Platonism is aptly described in Armstrong, Ancient Philosophy, 141-196. BACK
31 This ecclectic tendency is described in Armstrong, Ancient Philosophy, 142. BACK
32 Many of the lesser beings of the insensible realm were spoken of by earlier Greek thinkers. But during the Middle Platonic period, these beings rose to prominence in Greek philosophy. This prominance is discussed in Armstrong, Ancient Philosophy, 149-152. Armstrong discusses the role of The Soul on p. 189. BACK
33 Armstrong writes of Platonic views regarding matter in Ancient Philosophy, 153. BACK
34 "It is by The One that all beings are beings. This is equally true of those that are primarily beings and those that in some way are simply classed among beings, for what could exist were it not one? Not a one, a thing is not. No army, no choir, no flock exists except it be one. No house, even, or ship exists except as the unit, house, or the unit, ship; their unity gone, the house is no longer a house, the ship is no longer a ship. Similarly quantitative continua would not exist had they not an inner unity; divided, they forfeit existence along with unity. It is the same with plant and animal bodies; each of them is a unit; with disintegration, they lose their previous nature and are no longer what they were; they become new, different beings that in turn exist only as long as each of them is a unit." (Plotinus, Enneads [trans. Elmer O'Brien in The Essential Plotinus (New York: The New American Library, 1964)] 22.214.171.124.) BACK
35 Armstrong, Ancient Philosophy, 155. BACK
36 This Platonic mysticism is described in Kelly, 21-22. BACK
37 Langdon Gilkey. Shantung Compound. (New York: Harper & Row, 1966), 93. BACK
38 "As we turn towards The One, we exist to a higher degree, while to withdraw from it is to fall. Our soul is delivered from evil by rising to that place where it is free of all evils. There it knows. There it is immune. There it truly lives." (Enneads [trans. Elmer O'Brien in The Essential Plotinus (New York: The New American Library, 1964)] 126.96.36.199.) Armstrong discusses Platonic views regarding matter and evil in Ancient Philosophy, 153, 196. BACK
39 Hex. 3.1. BACK
40 Hex. 3.10. BACK
41 Making Man, Gregory's Introduction. BACK
42 Ibid. BACK
43 Many of these philosophical allusions of Gregory will be discussed in the following chapter. BACK
44 Richard Lim, "The Politics of Interpretation in Basil of Caesarea's Hexaemeron," Vigiliae Christianae 44 (1990): 351-370. BACK
45 Evans, Gillian R., Alister E. McGrath, and Allan D. Galloway, The Science of Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1986), 21. BACK
46 Frend, W. H. C, The Early Church (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1982), 86. BACK
47 Frend, 92. BACK
48 Chadwick, 77. BACK
49 The historians Sozomen and Socrates share the view that Basil and Gregory of Nazianzus immersed themselves in the works of Origen after leaving Athens. See Rousseau, 37. BACK
50 These sections in the Philocalia which deal with Origen's hermeneutics are De Principiis 4.1-3, according to Simonetti, 64. See also Rousseau, 83-84, 90. BACK
51 Gregory of Nazianzus, "Ep. CXV," in The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, vol. 7, ed. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, trans. Rev. Blomfield Jackson, reproduced in The Sage Digital Library, vol. 1-4 [CD-ROM]. (Albany, OR: Sage Software, 1996). BACK
52 Rousseau, 84. BACK
53 De Princ. 4.1.12 BACK
54 Origen, "Origen Against Celsus," in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 4, ed. A. Roberts and J. Donaldson, reproduced in The Sage Digital Library, vol. 1-4 [CD-ROM] (Albany, OR: Sage Software, 1996) 7.60. BACK
55 Origen writes in De Princ. 4.1.11 "Each one, then, ought to describe in his own mind, in a threefold manner, the understanding of the divine letters, — that is, in order that all the more simple individuals may be edified, so to speak; by the very body of Scripture; for such we term that common and historical sense: while, if some have commenced to make considerable progress, and are able to see something more (than that), they may be edified by the very soul of Scripture. Those, again, who are perfect, and who resemble those of whom the apostle says, “We speak wisdom among them that are perfect, but not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, who will be brought to naught; but we speak the wisdom of God, hidden in a mystery, which God hath decreed before the ages unto our glory;” — all such as these may be edified by the spiritual law itself (which has a shadow of good things to come), as if by the Spirit. For as man is said to consist of body, and soul, and spirit, so also does sacred Scripture, which has been granted by the divine bounty for the salvation of man". BACK
56 De Princ. 4.1.13 BACK
57 Simonetti, 46. BACK
58 De Princ. 4.1.14. BACK
59 Lim, 360-361. BACK
60 Ibid. BACK
61 Meredith, 79. BACK
62 Making Man, 8.4. BACK
63 David T. Runia, Philo in Early Christian Literature: A Survey. (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993),236, 251. BACK
64 Hex. 9.1. BACK
65 Philo was one of a million Jews in Alexandria. But it should not be assumed that there was only a Jewish influence and no Greek influence in the city. Alexandria had become a center of Greek learning. Philo himself knew little Hebrew. When Philo read Moses, it was from the Septuagint. And because of strong Greek literary influences, it is not surprising that Philo used allegory to defend the Hebrew Scriptures just as Greek writers used allegory to defend mythology. See Evans, et al., 21; Manlio Simonetti, Biblical Interpretation in the Early Church: An Historical Introduction to Patristic Exegesis (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1994), 34-35. BACK
66 For details on these allegorical interpretations of Philo, and Clement, see Simonetti, 38. BACK
67 Origen, "De Principiis," in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 4, ed. A. Roberts and J. Donaldson, reproduced in The Sage Digital Library, vol. 1-4 [CD-ROM] (Albany, OR: Sage Software, 1996), 4.1.10. BACK
68 Simonetti, 35, 41. BACK
69 Ibid, 47. BACK
70 De Princ. 4.22. BACK
71 Henry Chadwick, Early Christian Thought and the Classical Tradition. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1966), 157. BACK
72 Simonetti, 44. BACK
73 Ibid, 54-55. BACK
74 Much of the discussion of the school of Antioch in this section is based on Simonetti, 68-77. BACK
75 Simonetti, 59-60. BACK
76 De Princ. 4.1.22. BACK
77 Gregory of Nazianzus, Libanius, and Eunapius all attest to the violent student life of Athens in the fourth century. See Rousseau, 30-31. BACK
78 Basil, quoted in Rousseau, 40. BACK
79 Ibid. BACK
80 Rousseau, 31. BACK
81 Gregory of Nyssa, Vita Macrinae, 27f, quoted in Johannes Quasten, Patrology, Vol. 3, The Golden Age of Greek Patristic Literature from the Council of Nicaea to the Council of Chalcedon. (Utrecht: Spectrum Publishers, 1960), 276. BACK
82 James Marshall Campbell, "The Influence of the Second Sophistic on the Style of the Sermons of St. Basil the Great," Catholic University of America Patristic Studies 2 (1922). BACK
83 Campbell, 40. BACK
84 Hex. 7.4. BACK
85 De Humilitate 162A, quoted in Campbell, 146. BACK
86 Gregory of Nazianzus, Oratio 43.13, tr. p.38, quoted in Rousseau, 39. BACK
87 Basil of Caesarea, "Letter CCXXXIV," in The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, vol. 8, ed. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, reproduced in The Sage Digital Library, vol. 1-4 [CD-ROM]. (Albany, OR: Sage Software, 1996). BACK
88 Ibid. BACK
89 Hex. 1.6. BACK
90 Hex. 7.6. BACK
91 Hex. 8.7. BACK
92 Hex. 9.4. BACK
93 Be Beatitudinibus, oratio vi. PG 44. 1269 A-B. English trans. in Musurillo, From Glory to Glory, p. 100. Quoted in Gregorios, p. 70. BACK
94 See Stead, 133. Stead lists five citations where Aristotle uses this phrase. BACK
95 Hex. 5.7. BACK
96 Hex. 8.1. BACK
97 Concerning Greek eclecticism, see Armstrong, Ancient Philosophy, 141-143. BACK
98 Hex. 1.7. BACK
99 Hex. 7.1. BACK
100 The NASB reads, "This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made earth and heaven." BACK
101 Ladner, 72-78. BACK
102 Augustine, The Literal Meaning of Genesis 5.4.7, quoted in Louis Lavallee, "Augustine on the Creation Days," Journal of the Evangelical Theology Society 32/4 (December 1989): 461. BACK
103 Regarding this point Lavallee quotes Copleston who states, "The idea of these germinal potentialities was to be found, and doubtless was found by Augustine, in the philosophy of Plotinus and ultimately it goes back to the rationes seminales or logoi spermatikoi of Stoicism." Lavallee, 462. BACK
104 Concerning the teachings of Anaximander, Aristotle, and Pliny about spontaneous generation, see Boojamra, 53-54. BACK
105 W. K. C. Guthrie, In the Beginning (Ithaca: Cornell University, 1957), 41, quoted in Lavallee, 462. BACK
106 Making Man 1.2. BACK
107 For details on the distinction between Gregory and Philo's creation sequence, see Ladner, 72-73. BACK
108 Making Man 1.4. BACK
109 Armstrong, Ancient Philosophy, 142. BACK
110 Hex. 6.10. BACK
111 Hex. 6.10. BACK
112 Epicurus, like the Stoics, taught that contentment is the purpose of human life. But where the Stoics claimed that human contentment lies in conforming the the overall harmony established by the Logos, Epicurus taught that the order observed in the world is simply the result of collisions between atoms. See Stead, 40-41. BACK
113 Regarding Epicurianism, see Stead, p.40-42. BACK
114 Hex. 6.9. BACK
115 For details on contemporary views regarding the location of the soul, see Cherniss, 23-24, 37; and Stead, 47. BACK
116 Plotinus, 4.3, 8. BACK
117 Making Man 12.1. BACK
118 He is referring to Gen. 1:26. BACK
119 Making Man 11.4. BACK
120 Hex. 1.2. BACK
121 Hex. 1.8. BACK
122 Hex. 1.11. BACK
123 Gregory's introduction to Making Man. BACK
124 Pfister points out that Gregory's works contain much philosophical speculation. See Pfister, 98. BACK
125 Under the geocentric model, the outer planets "wander" forward and backward. It is for this reason that Greek secular literature refers to the planets as "wandering stars" (a)ste/rej planh=ta)))). Jude 1:13 uses these "wandering stars" of the night sky as a metaphor for the unstable and disorderly false teachers. See BAGD, 666. BACK
126 This description of Greek astronomy relies on Steven J Dick, "Astronomy, History of," The Software Toolworks Illustrated Encyclopedia. [CD-ROM] (Novato, CA: The Software Toolworks, 1991). BACK
127 Cherniss, 30. BACK
128 Ibid, 36, 41. BACK
129 N. Joseph Torchia, "Sympatheia in Basil of Ceasarea's Hexameron: A Plotinian Hypothesis," Journal of Early Christian Studies 4:3 (Fall 1996): 359-378. This discussion of Basil and Plotinus' usage of the idea of sympatheia is based on Torchia's investigation. BACK
130 Hex. 2.2. BACK
131 Ennead 4.4.32, 21-23; quoted in Torchia, 368-369. BACK
132 Ennead 4.3.12. BACK
133 Plotinus, Ennead 4.4.38, quoted in Torchia, 372. BACK
134 Hex. 3.9. When Basil writes "the deeps which our inventors of allegories rank in the divisions of evil," he is rejecting the allegorical interpretation of Gen. 1:7 which asserted that the waters refer to spirits in the heavenly places. This allegorical interpretation understands the waters above the firmament to be angels, and those below to be demons. BACK
135 Hex. 4.5. BACK
136 For details on the Stoic view of matter, see Stead, 45-48. The example of red hot iron is given in Stead, 48. BACK
137 See Making Man 26.5. BACK
138 Plato, Phaedo ([Medford, MA: Tufts University, 1995] (document on-line); accessed 11 March 1997; available from http://www.perseus.tufts.edu; Internet.) 80a-b. BACK
139 Hex. 2.8. BACK
140 Ladner, 65, quoting Plato's Theatetus 176. BACK
141 Gospel of Truth, 22, quoted by Grant, Gnosticism, p.12. BACK
142 Making Man 21. BACK
143 Making Man 21.2. BACK
144 Ibid. BACK
145 Making Man 21.3-4. BACK
146 See Mk. 9:43-48. BACK
147 Quasten, 290. BACK
148 Armstrong, Ancient Philosophy, 142-3. BACK
149 Plato, Timaeus ([Medford, MA: Tufts University, 1995] (document on-line); accessed 19 March 1997; available from http://www.perseus.tufts.edu; Internet.) 28b-c. BACK
150 In Timaeus 30a, Plato seems to say that God created by forming previously existing matter. So in that context, Timaeus 28b-c, quoted above, does not imply that matter itself was created at a point in time. BACK
151 See Armstrong, Ancient Philosophy, 152; Evans et al., 14-15,19,23. BACK
152 See Evans et al., 27-28; Stead, 67; and Paul Copan, "Is Creation Ex Nihilo a Post-Biblical Invention? An Examination of Gerhard May's Proposal," Trinity Journal 17 NS, no. 1 (Spring 1996): 77-93. Copan provides a useful historical survey of the doctrine of creation ex hihilo, but it errs in reference to Basil. Copan states that Basil's Hexaemeron supported the notion of eternally existing matter. But the quotations from Hex. 2.2 which Copan supplies are actually from Basil's representation of his opponents' viewpoint, not his own. BACK
153 See Chadwick, 80; Evens et al., 36. BACK
154 See Hex. 2.1 BACK
155 Hex. 2.2 BACK
156 Ibid. BACK
157 Stead, 26. BACK
158 These quotations concerning the creation of matter are from Hex. 2.2. BACK
159 Basil is refuting the idea that God could be the originator of evil. BACK
160 See above. BACK
161 Making Man 24.3. BACK
162 Stead, 46. BACK
163 Ibid, 47. BACK
164 Ibid, 44, 51. BACK
165 Armstrong, Ancient Philosophy, 144. BACK
166 De Principis 7. BACK
167 Col. 1:16. BACK
168 De Princ. 7.3. BACK
169 Job 25:5. BACK
170 Hex. 6.7. BACK
171 Hex. 3.9. BACK
172 These quotations are taken from Rousseau, 120, which quotes Basil, Ep. 263.4. BACK
173 Rom. 6:19. BACK
174 Plato expresses the analogy in Phaedrus 246d-247a:
But the divine is beauty, wisdom, goodness, and all such qualities; by these then the wings of the soul are nourished and grow, but by the opposite qualities, such as vileness and evil, they are wasted away and destroyed. Now the great leader in heaven, Zeus, driving a winged chariot, goes first, arranging all things and caring for all things. He is followed by an army of gods and spirits, arrayed in eleven squadrons . . . whose well matched horses obey the rein, advance easily, but the others with difficulty; for the horse of evil nature weighs the chariot down, making it heavy and pulling toward the earth the charioteer whose horse is not well trained. There the utmost toil and struggle await the soul. (Plato, Phaedrus [(Medford, MA: Tufts University, 1995) [document on-line]; accessed 11 March 1997; available from http://www.perseus.tufts.edu; Internet.] 246d-247a.) BACK
175 See, for example, Meredith, 58. BACK
176 Plotinus 1.8. BACK
177 For Plotinus' views on matter, see Kelly, 21-22. BACK
178 Grant, Gnosticism, 95-96. The Scripture quotation is Matt.5:25, taken from the NIV translation. BACK
179 "And the Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them." BACK
180 Concerning Didymus' interpretation of Genesis, see Simonetti, 77-80. BACK
181 Meredith 58. For the quotation of Origen on free will (where Meredith unfortunately does not indicate the source document), see p. 97. The quotation of Gregory is found in Gregory of Nyssa, "The Great Catechism," in The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, vol. 5, ed. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, reproduced in The Sage Digital Library, vol. 1-4 [CD-ROM]. (Albany, OR: Sage Software, 1996), 8. BACK
182 J. E. Pfister, "St. Gregory of Nyssa: Biblical Exegete, An Historico-Theological Study of Pentateuchal Exegesis," Ph.D. diss., (Baltimore: Woodstock College, 1964), 100. BACK
183 Making Man 16.3. BACK
184 2 Cor. 4:16. BACK
185 Making Man 17.2. BACK
186 Making Man 16.17. BACK
187 Gregory here refers to passages such as Matt. 22:30: "For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven." BACK
188 Making Man 18.2. BACK
189 Philo De Opificio Mundi 53.152. BACK
190 Making Man 18.3. BACK
191 It must be acknowledged that Origen and Gregory seem to affirm this notion for different reasons. Origen seems to have been influenced by the Stoic concept that the cosmos repeatedly emanates out of the Logos, and then returns. And so Origen speculated that the Scriptures allow for repeated cycles of creation and restoration. On the other hand, Gregory seems to have been more influenced by the Neo-Platonic idea that the cosmos emanated out of The One, and some day will return to The One. The Neo-Platonists did not assert continuing cycles of emanation and restoration. Gregory speculates that all souls will eventually return to God. But he does not allow the notion that after the entire cosmos is restored and has returned to God that it will be recreated. BACK
192 See, for example, Simonetti, 64-65. BACK
193 Hex. 6.7. BACK
194 Basil rejects this allegorical interpretation in Hex. 3.9. For Origen's connection to the interpretation, see Simonetti, 65. BACK
195 Hex. 8.7. BACK
196 Hex. 2.8. BACK
197 For a survey of views held throughout the history of the church regarding the creation days , see Jack P. Lewis, "The Days of Creation: an historical survey of interpretation," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 32/4 (December 1989): 433-455. BACK
198 Making Man 21.3-4. BACK
199 Origen suggests this in De Princ. 1.6. BACK
200 Basil, quoted in Rousseau, 40. BACK
201 See Hex. 2.8 and Making Man 1. BACK
202 These Trinitarian contributions are summarized in Justo L. González, A History of Christian Thought, Vol. 1, From the Beginnings to the Council of Chalcedon (Nashville: Abingdon, 1987), 307, 319. BACK
203 1 Tim. 3:16. BACK