Church Fathers: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 05: 25.01.31 Answer to Eunomius Part 3

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Church Fathers: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 05: 25.01.31 Answer to Eunomius Part 3

TOPIC: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 05 (Other Topics in this Collection)
SUBJECT: 25.01.31 Answer to Eunomius Part 3

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They say that God is ungenerate, and in this we agree. But that ungeneracy itself constitutes the Divine essence, here we take exception. For we maintain that this term is declarative of God's ungenerate subsistence, but not that ungeneracy is God. But of what nature is his refutation? It is this: that before man's creation God existed ungenerately. But what has this to do with the point which he promises to establish, that the term and its Subject are identical? For he lays it down that ungeneracy is the Divine essence. But what sort of a fulfilment of his promise is it, to show that God existed before beings capable of speech? What a wonderful, what an irresistible demonstration! what perfection of logical refinement! Who that has not been initiated in the mysteries of the awful craft may venture to look it in the face? Yet in particularizing the meanings of the term "conception," he makes a solemn travesty of it. For, saith he, of words used to express a conception of the mind, some exist only in pronunciation, as for instance those which signify nonentity, while others have their peculiar meaning; and of these some have an amplifying force, as in the case of things colossal, others a diminishing, as in that of pigmies, others a multiplying, as in that of many-headed monsters, others a combinative, as in that of centaurs. After thus reducing the force of the term "conception" to its lowest value, our clever friend will allow it, you see, no further extension. He says that it is without sense and meaning, that it fancies the unnatural, either contracting or extending the limits of nature, or putting heterogeneous notions together, or juggling with strange and monstrous combinations.

With such gibes at the term "conception," he shows, to the best of his ability, that it is useless and unprofitable for the life of man. What, then, was the origin of our higher branches of learning, of geometry, arithmetic, the logical and physical sciences, of the inventions of mechanical art, of the marvels of measuring time by the brazen dial and the water-clock? What, again, of ontology, of the science of ideas, in short of all intellectual speculation as applied to great and sublime objects? What of agriculture, of navigation, and of the other pursuits of human life? how comes the sea to be a highway for man? how are things of the air brought into the service of things of the earth, wild things tamed, objects of terror brought into subjection, animals stronger than ourselves made obedient to the rein? Have not all these benefits to human life been achieved by conception? For, according to my account of it, conception is the method by which we discover things that are unknown, going on to further discoveries by means of what adjoins to and followshyperlink from our first perception with regard to the thing studied. For when we have formed some idea of what we seek to know, by adapting what follows to the first result of our discoveries we gradually conduct our inquiry to the end of our proposed research.

But why enumerate the greater and more splendid results of this faculty? For every one who is not unfriendly to truth can see for himself that all else that Time has discovered for the service and benefit of human life, has been discovered by no other instrumentality than that of conception. And it seems to me, that any one who should judge this faculty more precious than any other with the exercise of which we are gifted in this life by Divine Providence would not be far mistaken in his judgment. And in saying this I am supported by Job's teaching, where he represents God as answering His servant by the tempest and the clouds, saying both other things meet for Him to say, and that it is He Who hath set man over the arts, and given to woman her skill in weaving and embroideryhyperlink .

Now that He did not teach us such things by some visible operation, Himself presiding over the work, as we may see in matters of bodily teaching, no one would gainsay whose nature is not altogether animal and brutish. But still it has been said that our first knowledge of such arts is from Him, and, if such is the case, surely He Who endowed our nature with such a faculty of conceiving and finding out the objects of our investigation was Himself our Guide to the arts. And by the law of causation, whatever is discovered and established by conception must be ascribed to Him Who is the Author of that faculty. Thus human life invented the Art of Healing, but nevertheless he would be right who should assert that Art to be a gift from God. And whatever discovery has been made in human life, conducive to any useful purposes of peace or war, came to us from no other quarter but from an intelligence conceiving and discovering according to our several requirements; and that intelligence is a gift of God. It is to God, then, that we owe all that intelligence supplies to us. Nor do I deny the objection made by our adversaries, that lying wonders also are fabricated by this faculty. For their contention as to this makes for our own side in the argument. For we too assert that the science of opposites is the same, whether beneficial or the reverse; e. g. in the case of the arts of healing and navigation, and so on. For he who knows how to relieve the sick by drugs will also know, if indeed he were to turn his art to an evil purpose, how to mix some deleterious ingredient in the food of the healthy. And he who can steer a boat with its rudder into port can also steer it for the reef or the rock, if minded to destroy those on board. And the painter, with the same art by which he depicts the fairest form on his canvas, could give us an exact representation of the ugliest. So, too, the wrestling-master, by the experience which he has gained in anointing, can set a dislocated limb, or, should he wish to do so, dislocate a sound one. But why encumber our argument by multiplying instances? As in the above-mentioned cases no one would deny that he who has learned to practise an art for right purposes can also abuse it for wrong ones, so we say that the faculty of thought and conception was implanted by God in human nature for good, but, with those who abuse it as an instrument of discovery, it frequently becomes the handmaid of pernicious inventions. But although it is thus possible for this faculty to give a plausible shape to what is false and unreal, it is none the less competent to investigate what actually and in very truth subsists, and its ability for the one must in fairness be regarded as an evidence of its ability for the other.

For that one who proposes to himself to terrify or charm an audience should have plenty of conception to effect such a purpose, and should display to the spectators many-handed, many-headed, or fire-breathing monsters, or men enfolded in the coils of serpents, or that he should seem to increase their stature, or enlarge their natural proportions to a ridiculous extent, or that he should describe men metamorphosed into fountains and trees and birds, a kind of narrative which is not without its attraction for such as take pleasure in things of that sort;-all this, I say, is the clearest of demonstrations that it is possible to arrive at higher knowledge also by means of this inventive faculty.

For it is not the case that, while the intelligence implanted in us by the Giver is fully competent to conjure up non-realities, it is endowed with no faculty at all for providing us with things that may profit us. But as the impulsive and elective faculty of the soul is established in our nature, to incite us to what is good and noble, though a man may also abuse it for what is evil, and no one can call the fact that the elective faculty sometimes inclines to evil a proof that it never inclines to what is good-so the bias of conception towards what is vain and unprofitable does not prove its inability for what is profitable, but, on the contrary, is a demonstration of its not being unserviceable for what is beneficial and necessary to the mind. For as, in the one case, it discovers means to produce pleasure or terror, so, in the other, it does not fail to find ways for getting at truth. Now one of the objects of inquiry was whether the First Cause, viz. God, exists without beginning, or whether His existence is dependent on some beginning. But perceiving, by the aid of thought, that that cannot be a First Cause which we conceive of as the consequence of another, we devised a word expressive of such a notion, and we say that He who is without anterior cause exists without origin, or, so to say, ungenerately. And Him Who so exists we call ungenerate and without origin, indicating, by that appellation, not what He is, but what He is not.

But as far as possible to elucidate the idea, I will endeavour to illustrate it by a still plainer example. Let us suppose the inquiry to be about some tree, whether it is cultivated or wild. If the former, we call it planted, if the latter, not planted. And such a term exactly hits the truth, for the tree must needs be after this manner or that. And yet the word does not indicate the peculiar nature of the plant. From the term "not-planted" we learn that it is of spontaneous growth; but whether what is thus signified is a plane, or a vine, or some other such plant, the name applied to it does not inform us.

This example being understood, it is time to go on to the thing which it illustrates. This much we comprehend, that the First Cause has His existence from no antecedent one. Accordingly, we call God ungenerate as existing ungenerately, reducing this notion of ungeneracy into verbal form. That He is without origin or beginning we show by the force of the term. But what that Being is which exists ungenerately, this appellation does not lead us to discern. Nor was it to be supposed that the processes of conception could avail to raise us above the limits of our nature, and open up the incomprehensible to our view, and enable us to compass the knowledge of that which no knowledge can approachhyperlink . Nevertheless, our adversary storms at our Master, and tries to tear to pieces his teaching respecting the faculty of thought and conception, and derides what has been said, revelling as usual in the rattle of his jingling phraseology, and saying that he (Basil) shrinks from adducing evidence respecting those things of which he presumes to be the interpreter. For, quoting certain of the Master's speculations on the faculty of conception, in which he shows that its exercise finds place, not only in reference to vain and trivial objects, but that it is competent to deal also with weightier matters, he, by means of his speculation about the corn, and seed, and other food (in Genesis), brings Basil into court with the charge, that his language is a following of pagan philosophyhyperlink , and that he is circumscribing Divine Providence, as not allowing that words were given to things by God, and that he is fighting in the ranks of the Atheists, and taking arms against Providence, and that he admires the doctrines of the profane rather than the laws of God, and ascribes to them the palm of wisdom, not having observed in the earliest of the sacred records, that before the creation of man, the naming of fruit and seed are mentioned in Holy Writ.

Such are his charges against us; not indeed his notions as expressed in his own phraseology, for we have made such alterations as were required to correct the ruggedness and harshness of his style. What, then, is our answer to this careful guardian of Divine Providence? He asserts that we are in error, because, while we do not deny man's having been created a rational being by God, we ascribe the invention of words to the logical faculty implanted by God in man's nature. And this is the bitterest of his accusations, whereby our teacher of righteousness is charged with deserting to the tenets of the Atheists, and is denounced as partaking with and supporting their lawless company, and indeed as guilty of all the most atrocious offences. Well, then, let this corrector of our blunders tell us, did God give names to the things which He created? For so says our new interpreter of the mysteries: "Before the creation of man God named germ, and herb, and grass, and seed, and tree, and the like, when by the word of His power He brought them severally into being." If, then, he abides by the bare letter, and so far Judaizes, and has yet to learn that the Christian is a disciple not of the letter but of the Spirit (for the letter killeth, says the Apostle, but the Spirit giveth lifehyperlink ), and quotes to us the bare literal reading of the words as though God Himself pronounced them-if, I say, he believes this, that, after the similitude of men, God made use of fluency of speech, expressing His thoughts by voice and accent-if, I repeat, he believes this, he cannot reasonably deny what follows as its logical consequence. For our speech is uttered by the organs of speech, the windpipe, the tongue, the teeth, and the mouth, the inhalation of air from without and the breath from within working together to produce the utterance. For the windpipe, fitting into the throat like a flute, emits a sound from below; and the roof of the mouth, by reason of the void space above extending to the nostrils, like some musical instrument, gives volume from above to the voice. And the checks, too, are aids to speech, contracting and expanding in accordance with their structural arrangement, or propelling the voice through a narrow passage by various movements of the tongue, which it effects now with one part of itself now with another, giving hardness or softness to the sound which passes over it by contact with the teeth or with the palate. Again, the service of the lips contributes not a little to the result, affecting the voice by the variety of their distinctive movements, and helping to shape the words as they are uttered.

If, then, God gives things their names as our new expositor of the Divine record assures us, naming germ, and grass, and tree, and fruit, He must of necessity have pronounced each of these words not otherwise than as it is pronounced; i. e. according to the composition of the syllables, some of which are sounded by the lips, others by the tongue, others by both. But if none of these words could be uttered, except by the operation of vocal organs producing each syllable and sound by some appropriate movement, he must of necessity ascribe the possession of such organs to God, and fashion the Divine Being according to the exigencies of speech. For each adaptation of the vocal organs must be in some form or other, and form is a bodily limitation. Further, we know very well that all bodies are composite, but where you see composition you see also dissolution, and dissolution, as the notion implies, is the same thing as destruction. This, then, is the upshot of our controversialist's victory over us; to show us the God of his imagining whom he has fashioned by the name ungeneracy-speaking, indeed, that He may not lose His share in the invention of names, but provided with vocal organs with which to utter them, and not without bodily nature to enable Him to employ them (for you cannot conceive of formal utterance in the abstract apart from a body), and gradually going on to the congenital affections of the body-through the composite to dissolution, and so finding His end in destruction.

Such is the nature of this new-fangled Deity, as deducible from the words of our new God-maker. But he takes his stand on the Scriptures, and maintains that Moses explicitly declares this, when he says, "God said," adding His words, "Let there be light," and, "Let there be a firmament." and, "Let the waters be gathered together ...and let the dry land appear," and, "Let the earth bring forth," and, "Let the waters bring forth," and, whatsoever else is written in its order. Let us, then, examine the meaning of what is said. Who does not know, even if he be the merest simpleton, that there is a natural correlation between hearing and speech, and that, as it is impossible for hearing to discharge its function when no one is speaking, so speech is ineffectual unless directed to hearing? If, then, he means literally that "God said," let him tell us also to what hearing His words were addressed. Does he mean that He said them to Himself? If so, the commands which He issues, He issues to Himself. Yet who will accept this interpretation, that God sits upon His throne prescribing what He Himself must do, and employing Himself as His minister to do His bidding? But even supposing one were to allow that it was not blasphemy to say this, who has any need of words and speech for himself, even though a man? For every one's own mental action suffices him to produce choice and volition. But he will doubtless say that the Father held converse with the Son. But what need of vocal utterance for that? For it is a property of bodily nature to signify the thoughts of the heart by means of words, whence also written characters equivalent to speech were invented for the expression of thought. For we declare thought equally by speaking and by writing, but in the case of those who are not too far distant we reach their hearing by voice, but declare our mind to those who are at a distance by written characters; and in the case of those present with us, in proportion to their distance from us, we raise or lower the tones of our voice, and to those close by us we sometimes point out what they are to do simply by a nod; and such or such an expression of the eye is sufficient to convey our determination, or a movement of the hand is sufficient to signify our approval or disapproval of something going on. If, then, those who are encompassed by the body are able to make known the hidden working of their minds to their neighbours, even without voice, or speech, or correspondence by means of letters, and silence causes no hindrance to the despatch of business, can it be that in the case of the immaterial, and intangible, and, as Eunomius says, the Supreme and first Being, there is any need of words to indicate the thought of the Father and to make known His will to the Only-Begotten Son-words, which, as he himself says, are wont to perish as soon as they are uttered? No one, methinks, who has common sense will accept this as the truth, especially as all sound is poured forth into the air. For voice cannot be produced unless it takes consistence in air. Now, even they themselves must suppose some medium of communication between the speaker and him to whom he speaks. For if there were no such medium, how could the voice travel from the speaker to the hearer? What, then, will they say is the medium or interval by which they divide the Father from the Son? Between bodies, indeed, there is an interval of atmospheric space, differing in its nature from the nature of human bodies. But God, Who is intangible, and without form, and pure from all composition, in communicating His counsels with the Only-Begotten Son, Who is similarly, or rather in the same manner, immaterial and without body-if He made His communication by voice, what medium would He have had through which the word, transmitted as in a current, might reach the ears of the Only-Begotten? For we need hardly stop to consider that God is not separable into apprehensive faculties, as we are, whose perceptions separately apprehend their corresponding objects; e. g. sight apprehends what may be seen, hearing what may be heard, so that touch does not taste, and hearing has no perception of odours and flavours, but each confines itself to that function to which it was appointed by nature, holding itself insensible, as it were, to those with which it has no natural correspondence, and incapable of tasting the pleasure enjoyed by its neighbour sense. But with God it is otherwise. All in all, He is at once sight, and hearing, and knowledge; and there we stop, for it is not permitted us to ascribe the more animal perceptions to that refined nature. Still we take a very low view of God, and drag down the Divine to our own grovelling standard, if we suppose the Father speaking with His mouth, and the Son's ear listening to His words. What, then, are we to suppose is the medium which conveys the Father's voice to the hearing of the Son? It must be created or uncreate. But we may not call it created; for the Word was before the creation of the world: and beside the Divine nature there is nothing uncreate. If, therefore, there was no creation then, and the Word spoken of in the cosmogony was older than creation, will he, who maintains that speech and a voice are meant by "the Word," suggest what medium existed between the Father and the Son, whereby those words and sounds were expressed? For if a medium exist, it must needs exist in a nature of its own, so as to differ in nature both from the Father and the Son. Being, then, something of necessity different, it divides the Father and the Son from each other, as though inserted between the two. What, then, could it be? Not created, for creation is younger than the Word. Generated we have learnt the Only-begotten (and Him alone) to be. Except the Father, none is ungenerate. Truth, therefore, obliges us to the conclusion that there is no medium between the Father and the Son. But where separation is not conceived of the closest connection is naturally implied. And what is so connected needs no medium for voice or speech. Now by "connected," I mean here what is in all respects inseparable. For in the case of a spiritual nature the term connection does not mean corporeal connection, but the union and blending of spiritual with spiritual through identity of will. Accordingly, there is no divergence of will between the Father and the Son, but the image of goodness is after the Archetype of all goodness and beauty, and as, if a man should look at himself in a glass (for it is perfectly allowable to explain the idea by corporeal illustrations), the copy will in all respects be conformed to the original, the shape of the man who is reflected being the cause of the shape on the glass, and the reflection making no spontaneous movement or inclination unless commenced by the original, but, if it move, moving along with it,-in like manner we maintain that our Lord, the Image of the invisible God, is immediately and inseparably one with the Father in every movement of His Will. If the Father will anything, the Son Who is in the Father knows the Father's will, or rather He is Himself the Father's will. For, if He has in Himself all that is the Father's, there is nothing of the Father's that He cannot have. If, then, He has all things that are the Father's in Himself, or, say we rather, if He has the Father Himself, then, along with the Father and the things that are the Father's, He must needs have in Himself the whole of the Father's will. He needs not, therefore, to know the Father's will by word, being Himself the Word of the Father, in the highest acceptation of the term. What, then, is the word that can be addressed to Him who is the Word indeed? And how can He Who is the Word indeed require a second word for instruction?

But it may be said that the voice of the Father was addressed to the Holy Spirit. But neither does the Holy Spirit require instruction by speech, for being God, as saith the Apostle, He "searcheth all things, yea the deep things of Godhyperlink ." If, then, God utters any word, and all speech is directed to the ear, let those who maintain that God expresses Himself in the language of continuous discourse, inform us what audience He addressed. Himself He needs not address. The Son has no need of instruction by words. The Holy Ghost searcheth even the deep things of God. Creation did not yet exist. To whom, then, was God's word addressed?

But, says he, the record of Moses does not lie, and from it we learn that God spake. No! nor is great David of the number of those who lie, and he expressly says; "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth His handy work. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge;" and after saying that the heavens and the firmament declare, and that day and that night showeth knowledge and speech, he adds to what he has said, that "there is neither speech nor language, and that their voices are not heardhyperlink ." Yet how can such declaring and showing forth be other than words, and how is it that no voice addresses itself to the ear? Is the prophet contradicting himself, or is he stating an impossibility, when he speaks of words without sound, and declaration without language, and announcement without voice? or, is there not rather the very perfection of truth in his teaching, which tells us, in the words which I have quoted, that the declaration of the heavens, and the word shouted forth by the day, is no articulate voice nor language of the lips, but is a revelation of the power of God to those who are capable of hearing it, even though no voice be heard?

What, then, do we think of this passage? For it may be that, if we understand it, we shall also understand the meaning of Moses. It often happens that Holy Scripture, to enable us more clearly to comprehend a matter to be revealed, makes use of a bodily illustration, as would seem to be the case in this passage from David, who teaches us by what he says that none of the things which are have their being from chance or accident, as some have imagined that our world and all that is therein was framed by fortuitous and undesigned combinations of first elements, and that no Providence penetrated the world. But we are taught that there is a cause of the system and government of the Universe, on Whom all nature depends, to Whom it owes its origin and cause, towards Whom it inclines and moves, and in Whom it abides. And since, as saith the Apostle, His eternal power and godhead are understood, being clearly seen through the creation of the worldhyperlink , therefore all creation and, before all, as saith the Scripture, the system of the heavens, declare the wisdom of the Creator in the skill displayed by His works. And this is. what it seems to me that he is desirous to set forth, viz. the testimony of the things which do appear to the fact that the worlds were framed with wisdom and skill, and abide for ever by the power of Him who is the Ruler over all. The very heavens, he says, in displaying the wisdom of Him Who made them, all but shout aloud with a voice, and, though without voice, proclaim the wisdom of their Creator. For we can hear as it were words teaching us: "O men, when ye gaze upon us and behold our beauty and magnitude, and this ceaseless revolution, with its well-ordered and harmonious motion, working in the same direction and in the same manner, turn your thoughts to Him Who presides over our system, and, by aid of the beauty which you see, imagine to yourselves the beauty of the invisible Archetype. For in us there is nothing without its Lord, nothing that moves of its own proper motion: but all that appears, or that is conceivable in respect to us, depends on a Power Who is inscrutable and sublime." This is not given in articulate speech, but by the things which are seen, and it instils into our minds the knowledge of Divine power more than if speech proclaimed it with a voice. As, then, the heavens declare, though they do not speak, and the firmament shows God's handy-work, yet requires no voice for the purpose, and the day uttereth speech, though there is no speaking, and no one can say that Holy Scripture is in error-in like manner, since both Moses and David have one and the same Teacher, I mean the Holy Spirit, Who says that the fiat went before the creation, we are not told that God is the Creator of words, but of things made known to us by the signification of our words. For, lest we should suppose the creation to be without its Lord, and spontaneously originated, He says that it was created by the Divine Being, and that it is established in an orderly and connected system by Him. Now it would be a work of time to discuss the order of what Moses didactically records in his historical summary respecting the creation of the world. Or (if we did)hyperlink each second passage would serve to prove more clearly the erroneous and futile character of our adversaries' opinion. But whoever cares to do so may read what we have written on Genesis, and judge whether our teaching or theirs is the more reasonable.

But to return to the matter in question. We assert that the words "He said" do not imply voice and words on the part of God; but the writer, in showinghyperlink the power of God to be concurrent with His will, renders the idea more easy of apprehension. For since by the will of God all things were created, and it is the ordinary way of men to signify their will first of all by speech, and so to bring their work into harmony with their will, and the scriptural account of the Creation is the learner's introduction, as it were, to the knowledge of God, representing to our minds the power of the Divine Being by objects more ready to our comprehension (for sensible apprehension is an aid to intellectual knowledge), on this account, Moses, by saying that God commanded all things to be, signifies to us the inciting power of His will, and by adding, "and it was so," he shows that in the case of God there is no difference between will and performance; but, on the contrary, that though the purposing initiates God's activity, the accomplishment keeps pace with the purpose, and that the two are to be considered together and at once, viz. the deliberate motion of the mind, and the power that effects its purpose. For the idea of the Divine purpose and action leaves no conceivable interval between them, but as light is produced along with the kindling of fire, at once coming out from it and shining forth along with it-in the same manner the existence of things created is an effect of the Divine will, but not posterior to it in time.

For the case is different from that of men endowed by nature with practical ability, where you may look at capability and execution apart from each other. For example, we say of a man who possesses the art of shipbuilding, that he is always a shipbuilder in respect of his ability to build ships, but that he operates only when he displays his skill in working. It is otherwise with God; for all that we can conceive as in Him is entirely work and action, His will passing over immediately to its object. As, then, the mechanism of the heavens testifies to the glory of their Creator and confesses Him Who made them, and needs no voice for the purpose, so on the other hand any one who is acquainted with the Mosaic Scripture will see that God speaks of the world as His creation, having brought the whole into being by the fiat of His will, and that He needs no words to make known His mind. As, then, he who heard the heavens declaring the glory of God looked not for set speech on the occasion (for, to those who can understand it, the universe speaks through the things which are being done, without regard or care for verbal explanation), so, even if any one hears Moses telling how God gave order and arrangement to each several part of Creation by name, let him not suppose the prophet to speak falsely, nor degrade the contemplation of sublime verities by mean and grovelling notions, thus, as it were, reducing God to a mere human standard, and supposing that after the manner of men he directs His operations by the instrumentality of speech; but let His fiat mean His will only, and let the names of those created things denote the mere reality of their coming into being. And thus he will learn these two things from what is recorded: (1) That God made all things by His will, and (2) that without any trouble or difficulty the Divine Will became nature.

But if any one would give a more sensuous interpretation to the words "God said," as proving that articulate speech was His creation, by a parity of reason he must understand by the words "God saw," that He did so by faculties of perception like our own, through the organs of vision; and so again by the words "The Lord heard me and had mercy upon me," and again, "He smelled a sweet savourhyperlink ," and whatever other sensuous expressions are employed by Scripture in reference to head, or foot, or hand, or eyes, or fingers, or sandals, as appertaining to God, taking them, I say, in their plain literal acceptation, he will present to us an anthropomorphous deity, after the similitude of what is seen among ourselves. But if any one hearing that the heavens are the work of His fingers, that He has a strong hand, and a mighty arm, and eyes, and feet, and sandals, deduces from such words ideas worthy of God, and does not degrade the idea of His pure nature by carnal and sensuous imaginations, it will follow that on the one hand he will regard the verbal utterances as indications of the Divine will, but on the other He will not conceive of them as articulate sounds, but will reason thus; that the Creator of human reason has gifted us with speech proportionally to the capacity of our nature, so that we might be able thereby to signify the thoughts of our minds; but that, so far as the Divine nature differs from ours, so great will be the degree of difference between our notions respecting it and its own inherent majesty and godhead. And as our power compared with God's, and our life with His life, is as nothing, and all else that is ours, compared with what is in Him, is "as nothing in comparisonhyperlink " with Him, as saith the inspired Teaching, so also our word as compared with Him, Who is the Word indeed, is as nothinghyperlink . For this word of yours was not in the beginning, but was created along with our nature, nor is it to be regarded as having any reality of its own, but, as our master (Basil) somewhere has said, it vanishes along with the sound of the voice, nor is any operation of the word discernible, but it has its subsistence in voice only, or in written characters. But the word of God is God Himself, the Word that was in the beginning and that abideth for ever, through Whom all things were and are, Who ruleth over all, and hath all power over the things in heaven and the things on earth, being Life, and Truth, and Righteousness, and Light, and all that is good, and upholding all things in being. Such, then, and so great being the word, as we understand it, of God, our opponent allows God, as some great thing, the power of language, made up of nouns, verbs, and conjunctions, not perceiving that, as He Who conferred practical powers on our nature is not spoken of as fabricating each of their several results, but, while He gave our nature its ability, it is by us that a house is constructed, or a bench, or a sword, or a plough, and whatsoever thing our life happens to be in need of, each of which things is our own work, although it may be ascribed to Him Who is the author of our being, and Who created our nature capable of every science,-so also our power of speech is the work of Him Who made our nature what it is, but the invention of each several term required to denote objects in hand is of our own devising. And this is proved by the fact that many terms in use are of a base and unseemly character, of which no man of sense would conceive God the inventor: so that, if certain of our familiar expressions are ascribed by Holy Scripture to God as the speaker, we should remember that the Holy Spirit is addressing us in language of our own, as e.g. in the history of the Acts we are told that each man received the teaching of the disciples in his own language wherein he was born, understanding the sense of the words by the language which he knew. And, that this is true, may be seen yet more clearly by a careful examination of the enactments of the Levitical law. For they make mention of pans, and cakes, and fine flours, and the like, in the mystic sacrifices, instilling wholesome doctrine under the veil of symbol and enigma. Mention, too, is made of certain measures then in use, such as ephah, and nebelhyperlink , and hin, and the like. Are we, then, to suppose that God made these names and appellations, or that in the beginning He commanded them to be such, and to be so named, calling one kind of grain wheat, and its pith flour, and flat sweetmeats, whether heavy or light, cakes; and that He commanded a vessel of the kind in which a moist lump is boiled or baked to be called a pan, or that He spoke of a certain liquid measure by the name of hin or nebel, and measured dry produce by the homer? surely it is trifling and mere Jewish folly, far removed from the grandeur of Christian simplicity, to think that God, Who is the Most High and above every name and thought, Who by sole virtue of His will governs the world, which He brought into existence, and upholds it in being, should set Himself like some schoolmaster to settle the niceties of terminology. Rather let us say, that as we indicate to the deaf what we want them to do, by gestures and signs, not because we have no voice of our own, but because a verbal communication would be utterly useless to those who cannot hear, so, in as much as human nature is in a sense deaf and insensible to higher truths, we maintain that the grace of God at sundry times and in divers manners spake by the Prophets, ordering their voices conformably to our capacity and the modes of expression with which we are familiar, and that by such means it leads us, as with a guiding hand, to the knowledge of higher truths, not teaching us in terms proportioned to their inherent sublimity, (for how can the great be contained by the little?) but descending to the lower level of our limited comprehension. And as God, after giving animals their power of motion, no longer prescribes each step they take, for their nature, having once for all taken its beginning from the Creator, moves of itself, and makes its way, adapting its power of motion to its object from time to time (except in so far as it is said that a man's steps are directed by the Lord), so our nature, having received from God the power of speech and utterance and of expressing the will by the voice, proceeds on its way through things, giving them distinctive names by varying inflections of sound; and these signs are the verbs and nouns which we use, and through which we signify the meaning of the things. And though the word "fruit" is made use of by Moses before the creation of fruit, and "seed" before that of seed, this does not disprove our assertion, nor is the sense of the lawgiver opposed to what we have said in respect to thought and conception. For that end of past husbandry which we speak of as fruit, and that beginning of future husbandry which we speak of as seed, this thing, I mean, underlying these names,-whether wheat or some other produce which is increased and multiplied by sowing-does not, he teaches us, grow spontaneously, but by the will of Him Who created them to grow with their peculiar power, so as to be the same fruit and to reproduce themselves as seed, and to support mankind with their increase. And by the Divine will the thing is produced, not the name, so that the substantial thinghyperlink is the work of the Creator, but the distinguishing names of things, by which speech furnishes us with a clear and accurate description of them, are the work and the invention of man's reasoning faculty, though the reasoning faculty itself and its nature are a work of God. And since all men are endowed with reason, differences of language will of necessity be found according to differences of country. But if any one maintain that light, or heaven, or earth, or seed were named after human fashion by God, he will certainly conclude that they were named in some special language. What that was, let him show. For he who knows the one thing will not, in all probability, be ignorant of the other. For at the river Jordan, after the descent of the Holy Ghost, and again in the hearing of the Jews, and at the Transfiguration, there came a voice from heaven, teaching men not only to regard the phenomenon as something more than a figure, but also to believe the beloved Son of God to be truly God. Now that voice was fashioned by God, suitably to the understanding of the hearers, in airy substance, and adapted to the language of the day, God, "who willeth that all men should be saved and come to the knowledge of the truthhyperlink ," having so articulated His words in the air with a view to the salvation of the hearers, as our Lord also saith to the Jews, when they thought it thundered because the sound took place in the air. "This voice came not because of Me, but for your sakeshyperlink ." But before the creation of the world, inasmuch as there was no one to hear the word, and no bodily element capable of accentuating the articulate voice, how can he who says that God used words give any air of probability to his assertion? God Himself is without body, creation did not yet exist. Reason does not suffer us to conceive of anything material in respect to Him. They who might have been benefited by the hearing were not yet created. And if men were not yet in being, neither had any form of language been struck out in accordance with national peculiarities, by what arguments, then, can he who looks to the bare letter make good his assertion, that God spoke thus using human parts of speech?

And the futility of such assertions may be seen also by this. For as the natures of the elements, which are the work of the Creator, appear alike to all, and there is no difference to human sense in men's experience of fire, or air, or water, but the nature of each is one and unchanging, working in the same way, and suffering no modification from the differences of those who partake of it, so also the imposition of names, if applied to things by God, would have been the same for all. But, in point of fact, while the nature of things as constituted by God remains the same, the names which denote them are divided by so many differences of language, that it were no easy task even to calculate their number.

And if any one cites the confusion of tongues that took place at the building of the tower, as contradicting what I have said, not even there is God spoken of as creating men's languages, but as confounding the existing onehyperlink , that all might not hear all. For when all lived together and were not as yet divided by various differences of race, the aggregate of men dwelt together with one language among them; but when by the Divine will it was decreed that all the earth should be replenished by mankind, then, their community of tongue being broken up, men were dispersed in various directions and adopted this and that form of speech and language, possessing a certain bond of union in similarity of tongue, not indeed disagreeing from others in their knowledge of things, but differing in the character of their names. For a stone or a stick does not seem one thing to one man and another to another, but the different peoples call them by different names. So that our position remains unshaken, that human language is the invention of the human mind or understanding. For from the beginning, as long as all men had the same language, we see from Holy Scripture that men received no teaching of God's words, nor, when men were separated into various differences of language, did a Divine enactment prescribe how each man should talk. But God, willing that men should speak different languages, gave human nature full liberty to formulate arbitrary sounds, so as to render their meaning more intelligible. Accordingly, Moses, who lived many generations after the building of the tower, uses one of the subsequent languages in his historical narrative of the creation, and attributes certain words to God, relating these things in his own tongue in which he had been brought up, and with which he was familiar, not changing the names for God by foreign peculiarities and turns of speech, in order by the strangeness and novelty of the expressions to prove them the words of God Himselfhyperlink .

But some who have carefully studied the Scriptures tell us that the Hebrew tongue is not even ancienthyperlink like the others, but that along with other miracles this miracle was wrought in behalf of the Israelites, that after the Exodus from Egypt, the language was hastily improvisedhyperlink for the use of the nation. And there is ahyperlink passage in the Prophet which confirms this. For he says, "when he came out of the land of Egypt he heard a strange languagehyperlink ." If, then, Moses was a Hebrew, and the language of the Hebrews was subsequent to the others, Moses, I say, who was born some thousands of years after the Creation of the world, and who relates the words of God in his own language-does he not clearly teach us that he does not attribute to God such a language of human fashion, but that he speaks as he does because it was impossible otherwise than in human language to express his meaning, though the words he uses have some Divine and profound significance?


35 It is not necessary to change the to here to tw as Oehler suggests. The Munich Cod. omits it altogether. But he has done good service to the text, by supplying from his Codices all that follows, down to "the same sort of argument" (except that the first diagwnizesqai is probably a gloss).

36 The definition of epinoia, i. e. efodoj euretikh twn agnooumenwn, dia twn prosexwn te kai akolouqwn efechj eceuriskousa.

37 Job xxxviii. 36. LXX. Tij de edwke gunaicin ufasmatoj sofian, h poikiltikhn episthmhn.

38 Cf Origen c. Celsum, vi. 65. Celsus had said. "God cannot be named." "This requires a distinction to be made. If Celsus means that there is nothing in the signification of words that can express the qualities of God, what he says is true, seeing that there are many other qualities that cannot be named. Who, for instance, can express in words the difference of quality between the sweetness of a date and that of a fig I Peculiar individual qualities cannot be expressed in a word. No wonder, then, that in this absolute sense God cannot be named. But if by `name

0' we only mean the possible expression of some one thing about God, by way of leading on the listener, and producing in him such a notion about God as human faculties can reach to, then there is nothing strange in saying, that God can have a name."

39 th ecwqen filosofia. Eunomius, in this accusation, must have been thinking, in the qesei and fusei controversy on the origin of language, of Dem critus, who called words "statues in sound," i. e. ascribed to them a certain amount of artificiality. But it is doubtful whether the opinion of the purely human origin of language can be ascribed to him, when we consider another expression of his, that "words were statues in sound, but statues not made by the hands of men, but by the gods themselves." Language with him was conventional, but it was not arbitrary. Again, Plato defines a word, an imitation in sound of that which it imitates (Cratylus, 423 B), and Aristotle calls words imitations (Rhet. iii. 1). But both of them were very far indeed from tracing language back to mere onamatopoeia, i. e. ascribing it to qesij (agreement), as opposed to fusij in the sense of the earlier Greek philosophy, the "essence" of the thing named, rather than the "nature" of the names. Long before them Pythagoras had said, "the wisest of all things is Number, and next to Number, that which gives names." These oracular words do. not countenance the idea that the origin of language was purely human. Perhaps Epicurns more definitely than any taught that in the first formation of language men acted unconsciously, moved by nature (in the modern sense), and that then as a second stage there was an agreement or understanding to use a certain sound for a certain conception. Against this Heraclitus (b.c. 503) had taught that words exist fusei. "Words are like the shadows of things, like the pictures of trees and mountains reflected in the river, like our own images when we look into a mirror." We know at all events here what he did not mean, viz., that man imposed what names he pleased on the objects round him. Heraclitus' "nature" is a very different thing from the Darwinian Nature; it is the inherent fitness between the object and name. Eunomius, then, was hardly justified in calling the Greek philosophy, as a whole, atheistical in this matter, and "against Providence." This fusij, the impalpable force in the things named, could still be represented as the will of the Deity. Eunomius outdoes Origen even, or any Christian writer, in contending for the sacredness of names. He makes the Deity the name-giver, but with the sole object of deifying his "Ungenerate." Perhaps Basil's teaching of the human faculty of 'Epinoia working under God as the name-giver is the truest statement of all, and harmonizes most with modern thought.

40 2 Cor. iii. 6.

41 1 Cor. ii. 10.

42 Ps. xix 1-3 (LXX.).

43 Rom. i. 20.

44 #H gar. Both Codd. & editt. read so; as Oehler testifies, though he has \H gar.

45 Reading apofainwn as referring to Moses, with Oehler, instead of the conjecture of John the Franciscan apofainousa, in the Paris edit. Even the Pithoean has apofainwn.

46 Ps. xxx. 10 (LXX.). Gen. viii. 21.

47 Ps. xxxix. 5.

48 Or. Cat. c. 1. "For since our nature is liable to corruption, and weak, therefore is our life short, our strength unsubstantial, our word unstable (apaghj);" and see note.

49 Nebel is defined by Epiphanius de pond. et mens. c. 24, as follows, Nebel oinon, oper esti metron cestwn rn (150 pints). The word is merely, a transcription of the Hebrew for a skin. i.e. wine-skin, "bottle." Cf. Hosea iii. 2, nebel oinou (LXX.): Symmachus has askoj.

50 Here is the answer to Eunomius' contention above (p. 270), that "in the earliest of the sacred records before the creation of man, the naming of fruit and seed are mentioned in Holy Writ." He calls Basil, for not observing this, a pagan and atheist. So below he calls him a follower of Valentinus, "a sower of tares," for making the human faculty (epinoia) the maker of names, even of those of the Only-begotten; apparently, as Valentinus multiplied the names of Christ.

51 1 Tim. ii. 4.

52 S. John xii. 30.

53 Gen. xi. 7.

54 A hit at Eunomius.

55 mhdearxaizein: therefore, if they are not the Divine language, a fortiori this is not. The word cannot possibly mean here "to grow obsolete."

56 hastily improvised. But Origen, c. Celsum iii. 6, says-"Celsus has not shewn himself a just critic of the differing accounts of the Egyptians and the Jews. ...He does not see that it was not possible for so large a number of rebellious Egyptians, after starting off in this way, to have changed their language at the very moment of their insurrection, and so become a separate nation, so that those who one day spoke Egyptian suddenly spoke a complete Hebrew dialect. Allow for a moment that when they left Egypt they rejected also their mother tongue; how was it that, thereupon, they did not adopt the Syrian or Phoenician, but the Hebrew which was so different from both these? ...For the Hebrew had been their national language before they went down into Egypt:" And, i. 16-"I wonder how Celsus can admit the Odrysians amongst the most ancient as well as the wisest peoples but will admit the Jews into neithers notwithstanding that there are many hooks in Egypt and Phoenicia and Greece which testify to their antiquity. Any one who likes can read Flavius Josephus' two looks on the antiquity of the Jews, where he makes a large collection of writers who witness to this." And yet, iii. 7, he goes on to say (what Gregory is here alluding to) that while any way the Hebrew language was never Egyptian, "yet if we look deeper, we might find it possible to say in the case of the Exodus that there was a miracle: viz. the whole mass of the Hebrew people receiving a language; that such language was the gift of God, as one of their own prophets has expressed it, `when he came out of Egypt, he heard a strange language.


57 kaitij. This reading (and not the interrogative tij, as Oehler) is required by the context, where Gregory actually favours this theory of the lateness of the Hebrew tongue: and is confirmed by Gretser's Latin, "Et nescio quis Prophetae sermo."

58 Ps. lxxxi. 5.