Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. V:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Dogmatic Treatises.: He thus shows the oneness of the Eternal Son with the Father the identity of essence and the community of nature (wherein is a natural inquiry into the production of wine), and that the terms “Son” and “product” in the naming of the Only-Begotten include a like idea of relationship.
§4. He thus shows the oneness of the Eternal Son with the Father the identity of essence and the community of nature (wherein is a natural inquiry into the production of wine), and that the terms “Son” and “product” in the naming of the Only-Begotten include a like idea of relationship.
What has been said, therefore, has clearly exposed the slackness which is to be found in the knavery of our author, who, while he goes about to establish the opposition of the essence of the Only-begotten to that of the Father, by the method of calling the one “ungenerate,” and the other “generate,” stands convicted of playing the fool with his inconsistent arguments. For it was shown from his own words, first, that the name of “essence” means one thing, and that of “generation” another; and next, that there did not come into existence, with the Son, any new and different essence besides the essence of the Father, but that what the Father is as regards the definition of His nature, that also He is Who is of the Father, as the nature does not change into diversity in the Person of the Son, p. CXLV according to the truth of the argument displayed by our consideration of Adam and Abel. For as, in that instance, he that was not generated after a like sort was yet, so far as concerns the definition of essence, the same with him that was generated, and Abels generation did not produce any change in the essence, so, in the case of these pure doctrines, the Only-begotten God did not, by His own generation, produce in Himself any change in the essence of Him Who is ungenerate (coming forth, as the Gospel says, from the Father, and being in the Father,) but is, according to the simple and homely language of the creed we profess, “Light of Light, very God of very God,” the one being all that the other is, save being that other. With regard, however, to the aim for the sake of which he carries on this system-making, I think there is no need for me at present to express any opinion, whether it is audacious and dangerous, or a thing allowable and free from danger, to transform the phrases which are employed to signify the Divine nature from one to another, and to call Him Who is generated by the name of “product of generation.”
I let these matters pass, that my discourse may not busy itself too much in the strife against lesser points, and neglect the greater; but I say that we ought carefully to consider the question whether the natural relation does introduce the use of these terms: for this surely Eunomius asserts, that with the affinity of the appellations there is also asserted an essential relationship. For he would not say, I presume, that the mere names themselves, apart from the sense of the things signified, have any mutual relation or affinity; but all discern the relationship or diversity of the appellations by the meanings which the words express. If, therefore, he confesses that “the Son” has a natural relation with “the Father,” let us leave the appellations, and consider the force that is found in their significations, whether in their affinity we discern diversity of essence, or that which is kindred and characteristic. To say that we find diversity is downright madness. For how does something without kinship or community “preserve order,” connected and conformable, in the names, where “the generated essence itself,” as he says, “and the appellation of Son, make such a relation of words appropriate”? If, on the other hand, he should say that these appellations signify relationship, he will necessarily appear in the character of an advocate of the community of essence, and as maintaining the fact that by affinity of names is signified also the connection of subjects: and this he often does in his composition without being aware of it 579 . For, by the arguments wherewith he endeavours to destroy the truth, he is often himself unwittingly drawn into an advocacy of the very doctrines against which he is contending. Some such thing the history tells us concerning Saul, that once, when moved with wrath against the prophets, he was overcome by grace, and was found as one of the inspired, (the Spirit of prophecy willing, as I suppose, to instruct the apostate by means of himself,) whence the surprising nature of the event became a proverb in his after life, as the history records such an expression by way of wonder, “Is Saul also among the prophets 580 ?”
At what point, then, does Eunomius assent to the truth? When he says that the Lord Himself, “being the Son of the living God, not being ashamed of His birth from the Virgin, often named Himself, in His own sayings, the Son of Man”? For this phrase we also allege for proof of the community of essence, because the name of “Son” shows the community of nature to be equal in both cases. For as He is called the Son of Man by reason of the kindred of His flesh to her of whom He was born, so also He is conceived, surely, as the Son of God, by reason of the connection of His essence with that from which He has His existence, and this argument is the greatest weapon of the truth. For nothing so clearly points to Him Who is the “mediator between God and man 581 ” (as the great Apostle called Him), as the name of “Son,” equally applicable to either nature, Divine or Human. For the same Person is Son of God, and was made, in the Incarnation, Son of Man, that, by His communion with each, He might link together by Himself what were divided by nature. Now if, in becoming Son of Man, he were without participation in human nature, it would be logical to say that neither does He share in the Divine essence, though He is Son of God. But if the whole compound nature of man was in Him (for He was “in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” 582 ), it is surely necessary to believe that every property of the transcendent essence is also in Him, as the Word “Son” claims for Him both alike—the Human in the man, but in the God the Divine.
If then the appellations, as Eunomius says, indicate relationship, and the existence of relationship is observed in the things, not in the mere sound of the words (and by things I mean the things conceived in themselves, if it be not over-bold thus to speak of the Son and the Father), who would deny that the very champion of blasphemy has by his own action been dragged into the advocacy of orthodoxy, overthrowing by his own means his own arguments, and prop. CXLVI claiming community of essence in the case of the Divine doctrines? For the argument that he unwillingly casts into the scale on the side of truth does not speak falsely as regards this point,—that He would not have been called Son if the natural conception of the names did not verify this calling. For as a bench is not called the son of the workman, and no sane man would say that the builder engendered the house, and we do not say that the vineyard is the “product 583 ” of the vine-dresser, but call what a man makes his work, and him who is begotten of him the son of a man, (in order, I suppose, that the proper meaning might be attached by means of the names to the respective subjects,) so too, when we are taught that the Only-begotten is Son of God, we do not by this appellation understand a creature of God, but what the word “Son” in its signification really displays. And even though wine be named by Scripture the “product 584 ” of the vine, not even so will our argument with regard to the orthodox doctrine suffer by this identity of name. For we do not call wine the “product” of the oak, nor the acorn the “product” of the vine, but we use the word only if there is some natural community between the “product” and that from which it comes. For the moisture in the vine, which is drawn out from the root through the stem by the pith, is, in its natural power, water: but, as it passes in orderly sequence along the ways of nature, and flows from the lowest to the highest, it changes to the quality of wine, a change to which the rays of the sun contribute in some degree, which by their warmth draw out the moisture from the depth to the shoots, and by a proper and suitable process of ripening make the moisture wine: so that, so far as their nature is concerned, there is no difference between the moisture that exists in the vine and the wine that is produced from it. For the one form of moisture comes from the other, and one could not say that the cause of wine is anything else than the moisture which naturally exists in the shoots. But, so far as moisture is concerned, the differences of quality produce no alteration, but are found when some peculiarity discerns the moisture which is in the form of wine from that which is in the shoots, one of the two forms being accompanied by astringency, or sweetness, or sourness, so that in substance the two are the same, but are distinguished by qualitative differences. As, therefore, when we hear from Scripture that the Only-begotten God is Son of man, we learn by the kindred expressed in the name His kinship with true man, so even, if the Son be called, in the adversaries phrase, a “product,” we none the less learn, even by this name, His kinship in essence with Him that has “produced 585 ” Him, by the fact that wine, which is called the “product” of the vine has been found not to be alien, as concerns the idea of moisture, from the natural power that resides in the vine. Indeed, if one were judiciously to examine the things that are said by our adversaries, they tend to our doctrine, and their sense cries out against their own fabrications, as they strive at all points to establish their “difference in essence.” Yet it is by no means an easy matter to conjecture whence they were led to such conceptions. For if the appellation of “Son” does not merely signify “being from something,” but by its signification presents to us specially, as Eunomius himself says, relationship in point of nature, and wine is not called the “product” of an oak, and those “products” or “generation of vipers 586 ,” of which the Gospel somewhere speaks, are snakes and not sheep, it is clear, that in the case of the Only-begotten also, the appellation of “Son” or of “product” would not convey the meaning of relationship to something of another kind: but even if, according to our adversaries phrase, He is called a “product of generation,” and the name of “Son,” as they confess, has reference to nature, the Son is surely of the essence of Him Who has generated or “produced” Him, not of that of some other among the things which we contemplate as external to that nature. And if He is truly from Him, He is not alien from all that belongs to Him from Whom He is, as in the other cases too it was shown that all that has its existence from anything by way of generation is clearly of the same kind as that from whence it came.
Oehlers punctuation is here slightly altered.CXLV:580
1 Sam. xix. 24.CXLV:581
1 Tim. ii. 5.CXLV:582
Heb. iv. 15.CXLVI:583
γέννημα. E.g. S. Matt. xxvi. 29.CXLVI:585
γεγεννηκότα: which, as answering to γέννημα, is here translated “produced” rather than “begotten.”CXLVI:586
γεννήματα ἐχιδνῶν. E.g. S. Matt. iii. 7.
Next: He discusses the incomprehensibility of the Divine essence, and the saying to the woman of Samaria, “Ye worship ye know not what.“
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