Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. IX:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
John of Damascus: Exposition of the Orthodox Faith.: Concerning Man.
Chapter XII.—Concerning Man.
In this way, then, God brought into existence mental essence 1794 , by which I mean, angels and all the heavenly orders. For these clearly have a mental and incorporeal nature: “incorporeal” I mean in comparison with the denseness of matter. For the Deity alone in reality is immaterial and incorporeal. But further He created in the same way sensible essence 1795 , that is heaven and earth and the intermediate region; and so He created both the kind of being that is of His own nature (for the nature that has to do with reason is related to God, and apprehensible by mind alone), and the kind which, inasmuch as it clearly falls under the province of the senses, is separated from Him by the greatest interval. And it was also fit that there should be a mixture of both kinds of being, as a token of still greater wisdom and of the opulence of the Divine expenditure as regards natures, as Gregorius, the expounder of Gods being and ways, puts it, and to be a sort of connecting link between the visible and invisible natures 1796 . And by the word “fit” I mean, simply that it was an evidence of the Creators will, for that will is the law and ordinance most meet, and no one will say to his Maker, “Why hast Thou so fashioned me?” For the potter is able at his will to make vessels of various patterns out of his clay 1797 , as a proof of his own wisdom.
Now this being the case, He creates with His own hands man of a visible nature and an invisible, after His own image and likeness: on the one hand mans body He formed of earth, and on the other his reasoning and p. 31b thinking soul 1798 He bestowed upon him by His own inbreathing, and this is what we mean by “after His image.” For the phrase “after His image” clearly refers 1799 to the side of his nature which consists of mind and free will, whereas “after His likeness” means likeness in virtue so far as that is possible.
Further, body and soul were formed at one and the same time 1800 , not first the one and then the other, as Origen so senselessly supposes.
God then made man without evil, upright, virtuous, free from pain and care, glorified with every virtue, adorned with all that is good, like a sort of second microcosm within the great world 1801 , another angel capable of worship, compound, surveying the visible creation and initiated into the mysteries of the realm of thought, king over the things of earth, but subject to a higher king, of the earth and of the heaven, temporal and eternal, belonging to the realm of sight and to the realm of thought, midway between greatness and lowliness, spirit and flesh: for he is spirit by grace, but flesh by overweening pride: spirit that he may abide and glorify his Benefactor, and flesh that he may suffer, and suffering may be admonished and disciplined when he prides himself in his greatness 1802 : here, that is, in the present life, his life is ordered as an animals, but elsewhere, that is, in the age to come, he is changed and—to complete the mystery—becomes deified by merely inclining himself towards God; becoming deified, in the way of participating in the divine glory and not in that of a change into the divine being 1803 .
But God made him by nature sinless, and endowed him with free will. By sinless, I mean not that sin could find no place in him (for that is the case with Deity alone), but that sin is the result of the free volition he enjoys rather than an integral part of his nature 1804 ; that is to say, he has the power to continue and go forward in the path of goodness, by co-operating with the divine grace, and likewise to turn from good and take to wickedness, for God has conceded this by conferring freedom of will upon him. For there is no virtue in what is the result of mere force 1805 .
The soul, accordingly 1806 , is a living essence, simple, incorporeal, invisible in its proper nature to bodily eyes, immortal, reasoning and intelligent, formless, making use of an organised body, and being the source of its powers of life, and growth, and sensation, and generation 1807 , mind being but its purest part and not in any wise alien to it; (for as the eye to the body, so is the mind to the soul); further it enjoys freedom and volition and energy, and is mutable, that is, it is given to change, because it is created. All these qualities according to nature it has received of the grace of the Creator, of which grace it has received both its being and this particular kind of nature.
Marg. The different applications of “incorporeal.” We understand two kinds of what is incorporeal and invisible and formless: the one is such in essence, the other by free gift: and likewise the one is such in nature, and the other only in comparison with the denseness of matter. God then is incorporeal by nature, but the angels and demons and souls are said to be so by free gift, and in comparison with the denseness of matter.
Further, body is that which has three dimensions, that is to say, it has length and breadth and depth, or thickness. And every body is composed of the four elements; the bodies of living creatures, moreover, are composed of the four humours.
Now there are, it should be known, four elements: earth which is dry and cold: water which is cold and wet: air which is wet and warm: fire which is warm and dry. In like manner there are also four humours, analogous to the four elements: black bile, which bears an analogy to earth, for it is dry and cold: phlegm, analogous to water, for it is cold and wet: blood, analogous to air 1808 , for it is wet and warm: yellow bile, the analogue to fire, for it is warm and dry. Now, fruits are composed of the elements, and the humours are composed of the fruits, and the bodies of living creatures consist of the humours and dissolve back into them. For every thing that is compound dissolves back into its elements.
Marg. That man has community alike with inanimate things and animate creatures, whep. 32b ther they are devoid of or possess the faculty of reason.
Man, it is to be noted, has community with things inanimate, and participates in the life of unreasoning creatures, and shares in the mental processes of those endowed with reason. For the bond of union between man and inanimate things is the body and its composition out of the four elements: and the bond between man and plants consists, in addition to these things, of their powers of nourishment and growth and seeding, that is, generation: and finally, over and above these links man is connected with unreasoning animals by appetite, that is anger and desire, and sense and impulsive movement.
There are then five senses, sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch. Further, impulsive movement consists in change from place to place, and in the movements of the body as a whole and in the emission of voice and the drawing of breath. For we have it in our power to perform or refrain from performing these actions.
Lastly, mans reason unites him to incorporeal and intelligent natures, for he applies his reason and mind and judgment to everything, and pursues after virtues, and eagerly follows after piety, which is the crown of the virtues. And so man is a microcosm.
Moreover, it should be known that division and flux and change 1809 are peculiar to the body alone. By change, I mean change in quality, that is in heat and cold and so forth: by flux, I mean change in the way of depletion 1810 , for dry things and wet things and spirit 1811 suffer depletion, and require repletion: so that hunger and thirst are natural affections. Again, division is the separation of the humours, one from another, and the partition into form and matter 1812 .
But piety and thought are the peculiar properties of the soul. And the virtues are common to soul and body, although they are referred to the soul as if the soul were making use of the body.
The reasoning part, it should be understood, naturally bears rule over that which is void of reason. For the faculties of the soul are divided into that which has reason, and that which is without reason. Again, of that which is without reason there are two divisions: that which does not listen to reason, that is to say, is disobedient to reason, and that which listens and obeys reason. That which does not listen or obey reason is the vital or pulsating faculty, and the spermatic or generative faculty, and the vegetative or nutritive faculty: to this belong also the faculties of growth and bodily formation. For these are not under the dominion of reason but under that of nature. That which listens to and obeys reason, on the other hand is divided into anger and desire. And the unreasoning part of the soul is called in common the pathetic and the appetitive 1813 . Further, it is to be understood, that impulsive movement 1814 likewise belongs to the part that is obedient to reason.
The part 1815 which does not pay heed to reason includes the nutritive and generative and pulsating faculties: and the name “vegetative 1816 ” is applied to the faculties of increase and nutriment and generation, and the name “vital” to the faculty of pulsation.
Of the faculty of nutrition, then, there are four forces: an attractive force which attracts nourishment: a retentive force by which nourishment is retained and not suffered to be immediately excreted: an alternative force by which the food is resolved into the humours: and an excretive force, by which the excess of food is excreted into the draught and cast forth.
The forces again 1817 , inherent in a living creature are, it should be noted, partly psychical, partly vegetative, partly vital. The psychical forces are concerned with free volition, that is to say, impulsive movement and sensation. Impulsive movement includes change of place and movement of the body as a whole, and phonation and respiration. For it is in our power to perform or refrain from performing these acts. The vegetative and vital forces, however, are quite outside the province of will. The vegetative, moreover, include the faculties of nourishment and growth, and generation, and the vital power is the faculty of pulsation. For these go on energising whether we will it or not.
Lastly, we must observe that of actual things, some are good, and some are bad. A good thing in anticipation constitutes desire: while a good thing in realisation constitutes pleasure. Similarly an evil thing in anticipation begets fear, and in realisation it begets pain. And when we speak of good in this connection we are to be understood to mean both real and apparent good: and, similarly, we mean real and apparent evil.
τὴν νοητὴν οὐσίαν; rational being.30b:1795
την αἰσθητήν; material being, being perceptible by sense.30b:1796
Greg. Naz., Orat. 38 and 42.30b:1797
Rom. ix. 21.31b:1798
Cf. Chrysostom, Hom. in Gen. 9; Anastasius, Hom. in Hex. 7; Clem. Alex., Strom. II.; Basil, Hom. de hom. Struct. 1; Greg. Nyss., De opif. hom., ch. 16; Iren., Hær. v. 8, &c.31b:1800
Cf. Greg. Naz., Orat. 31; Jerome, Epist. 82; August., De Genesi, x. 28, &c.31b:1801
ἐν μικρῷ μέγαν, is read in Nazianz. Hom. 38 and 42: so also in Nicetas, who says that the world is small in comparison with man, for whose sake all was made. But Combefis emended it.31b:1802
The text read, τῷ μεγέθει φιλοτιμούμενος· τὸ δὲ ἵνα πάσχων ὑπομιμνήσκηται, καὶ παιδεύηται ζῶον. On the basis of various manuscripts and the works of Gregory of Nazianzum, it is corrected so—ἵνα πάσχῃ, καὶ πάσχων, ὑπομιμνήσκηται, καὶ παιδεύηται τῷ μεγέθει φιλοτιμούμενον.31b:1803
Greg. Naz., Orat. 38 and 42.31b:1804
Reading, οὐχ ὡς ἐν τῆ φύσει, for ἀλλ᾽ οὐκ ἐν τῃ φύσει.31b:1805
Athan. lib. de inob. contr. Apoll.31b:1806
The Fathers objected to Aristotles definition of the soul as the ἐντελέχεια πρώτη σώματος φυσικοῦ ὀργανικοῦ taking it to imply that the soul had no independent existence but was dissolved with the body. Cicero explains it otherwise, Tusc. Quæst., bk. 1.31b:1807
Maxim., opus de Anima.31b:1808
Supplying the words, τῷ ὕδατι, ψυχρὸν γὰρ καὶ ὑγρόν· αἷμα, ἀναλογοῦν.32b:1809
τομὴ, καὶ ρεῦσις, καὶ μεταβολή.32b:1810
Nemes., de Nat. Hom., ch. 1.32b:1811
Or, breath, πνεῦμα.32b:1812
Nemes., de Nat. Hom., ch. 1.32b:1813
παθητικὸν καὶ ὀρεκτικόν.32b:1814
ἡ καθ᾽ ὁρμὴν κίνησις.32b:1815
The following three paragraphs, as found in manuscripts and the old translation, are placed at the end of ch. 32, “Concerning Anger,” but do not suit the context there.32b:1816
Supplying the word φυτικόν from Nemesius.32b:1817
Nemes., ch. 23.
Next: Concerning Pleasures.
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