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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. VIII:
De Spiritu Sancto.: That there is no distinction in the scriptural use of these syllables.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter IV.

That there is no distinction in the scriptural use of these syllables.

6.  We acknowledge that the word of truth has in many places made use of these expressions; yet we absolutely deny that the freedom of the Spirit is in bondage to the pettiness of Paganism.  On the contrary, we maintain that Scripture varies its expressions as occasion requires, according to the circumstances of the case.  For instance, the phrase “of which” does not always and absolutely, as they suppose, indicate the material, 725 but it is more in accordance with the usage of Scripture to apply this term in the case of the Supreme Cause, as in the words “One God, of whom are all things,” 726 and again, “All things of God.” 727   The word of truth has, however, frequently used this term in the case of the material, as when it says “Thou shalt make an ark of incorruptible wood;” 728 and “Thou shalt make the candlestick of pure gold;” 729 and “The first man is of the earth, earthy;” 730 and “Thou art formed out of clay as I am.” 731   But these men, to the end, as we have already remarked, that they may establish the difference of nature, have laid down the law that this phrase befits the Father alone.  This distinction they have originally derived from heathen authorities, but here they have shewn no faithful accuracy of limitation.  To the Son they have in conformity with the teaching of their masters given the title of instrument, and to the Spirit that of place, for they say in the Spirit, and through the Son.  But when they apply “of whom” to God they no longer follow heathen example, but “go over, as they say, to apostolic usage, as it is said, “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus,” 732 and “All things of God.” 733   What, then, is the result of this systematic discussion?  There is one nature of Cause; another of Instrument; another of Place.  So the Son is by nature distinct from the Father, as the tool from the craftsman; and the Spirit is distinct in so far as place or time is distinguished from the nature of tools or from that of them that handle them.



λη=Lat. materies, from the same root as mater, whence Eng. material and matter.  (λη, ὕλFα, is the same word as sylva=wood.  With materies cf. Madeira, from the Portuguese “madera”=timber.)

“The word λη in Plato bears the same signification as in ordinary speech:  it means wood, timber, and sometimes generally material.  The later philosophic application of the word to signify the abstract conception of material substratum is expressed by Plato, so far as he has that concept at all, in other ways.”  Ed. Zeller.  Plato and the older Academy, ii. 296.  Similarly Basil uses λη.  As a technical philosophic term for abstract matter, it is first used by Aristotle.


1 Cor. viii. 6.


1 Cor. xi. 12.


Ex. xxv. 10, LXX.  A.V. “shittim.”  R.V. “acacia.”  St. Ambrose (de Spiritu Sancto, ii. 9) seems, say the Benedictine Editors, to have here misunderstood St. Basil’s argument.  St. Basil is accusing the Pneumatomachi not of tracing all things to God as the material “of which,” but of unduly limiting the use of the term “of which” to the Father alone.


Ex. xxv. 31.


1 Cor. xv. 47.


Job xxxiii, 6, LXX.


1 Cor. i. 30.


1 Cor. xi. 12.

Next: That v: not found “of whom” in the case of the Son and of the Spirit.

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