Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. IX:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
John of Damascus: Exposition of the Orthodox Faith.: Concerning the Holy Spirit, a reasoned proof.
Chapter VII.—Concerning the Holy Spirit, a reasoned proof.
Moreover the Word must also possess Spirit 1469 . For in fact even our word is not destitute of spirit; but in our case the spirit is something different from our essence 1470 . For there is an attraction and movement of the air which is drawn in and poured forth that the body may be sustained. And it is this which in the moment of utterance becomes the articulate word, revealing in itself the force of the word 1471 . 1472 But in the case of the divine nature, which is simple and uncompound, we must confess in all piety that there exists a Spirit of God, for the Word is not more imperfect than our own word. Now we cannot, in piety, consider the Spirit to be something foreign that gains admission into God from without, as is the case with compound natures like us. Nay, just as, when we heard 1473 of the Word of God, we considered it to be not without subsistence, nor the product of learning, nor the mere utterance of voice, nor as passing into the air and perishing, but as being essentially subsisting, endowed with free volition, and energy, and omnipotence: so also, when we have learnt about the Spirit of God, we contemplate it as the companion of the Word and the revealer of His energy, and not as mere breath without subsistence. For to conceive of the Spirit that dwells in God as after the likeness of our own spirit, would be to drag down the greatness of the divine nature to the lowest depths of degradation. But we must contemplate it as an essential power, existing in its own proper and peculiar subsistence, proceeding from the Father and resting in the Word 1474 , and shewing forth the Word, neither capable of disjunction from God in Whom it exists, and the Word Whose companion it is, nor poured forth to vanish into nothingness 1475 , but being in subsistence in the likeness of the Word, endowed with life, free volition, independent movement, energy, ever willing that which is good, and having power to keep pace with the will in all its decrees 1476 , having no beginning and no end. For never was the Father at any time lacking in the Word, nor the Word in the Spirit.
Thus because of the unity in nature, the error of the Greeks in holding that God is many, is utterly destroyed: and again by our acceptance of the Word and the Spirit, the dogma of the Jews is overthrown: and there remains of each party 1477 only what is profitable 1478 . On the one hand of the Jewish idea we have the unity of Gods nature, and on the other, of the Greek, we have the distinction in subsistences and that only 1479 .
p. 6b But should the Jew refuse to accept the Word and the Spirit, let the divine Scripture confute him and curb his tongue. For concerning the Word, the divine David says, For ever, O Lord, Thy Word is settled in heaven 1480 . And again, He sent His Word and healed them 1481 . But the word that is uttered is not sent, nor is it for ever settled 1482 . And concerning the Spirit, the same David says, Thou sendest forth Thy Spirit, they are created 1483 . And again, By the word of the Lord were the heavens made: and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth 1484 . Job, too, says, The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life 1485 . Now the Spirit which is sent and makes and stablishes and conserves, is not mere breath that dissolves, any more than the mouth of God is a bodily member. For the conception of both must be such as harmonizes with the Divine nature 1486 .
The Greek theologians, founding on the primary sense of the Greek term Πνεῦμα, and on certain passages of Scripture in which the word seemed to retain that sense more or less (especially Psalm xxxiii. 6. in the Vulgate rendering, verbo Dei cœli formati sunt: et spiritu oris ejus omnis virtus eorum), spoke of the Holy Ghost as proceeding from the Father like the breath of His mouth in the utterance or emission of His Word. See ch. 15 of this Book, where we have the sentence, οὐδεμία γὰρ ὁρμὴ ἄνευ πνεύματος. Compare also such passages as these—Greg. Naz., Orat. i. 3: Cyril. Alex., Thes., assert. 34, De Trin. dial. 2, p. 425, and 7, pp. 634, 640; Basil, Contra Eunom., B.V., and De Spiritu Sancto, ch. 18; Greg. Scholar., Contra Latin., de process. Spiritus Sancti, i. 4, where we have the statement οὕτω καὶ τὸ ἅγιον Πνεῦμα ὥσπερ ὁρμὴ καὶ κίνησις, ἐνδοτέρα τῆς ὑπερφυοῦς ἐκείνης οὐσίας, so the Holy Spirit is like an impulse and movement within that supernatural essence.5b:1470
Or, substance; οὐσία.5b:1471
Text, φανεροῦσα: various reading, φέρουσα (cf. Cyril, De Trinitate).5b:1472
Greg. Nyss., Catech., c. 2.5b:1473
Text, ἀκούσαντες: variant, ἀκούοντες (so in Cyril).5b:1474
So Cyril speaks frequently of the Holy Spirit as proceeding from the Father and being (ειναι) and abiding (μένειν) in the Son; as also of the Spirit as being of the Son and having His nature in Him (ἐξ αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐμπεφυκὼς αὐτῷ). The idea seems to have been that as the Son is in the bosom of the Father so the Spirit is in the bosom of the Son. The Spirit was compared again to the energy, the natural, living energy, of the Son (ἐνέργεια φυσικὴ καὶ ζωσα, τὸ ἐνεργὲς τοῦ υἱοῦ), Cyril, Dial 7 ad Hermiam. Such terms as προβολεὺς ἐκφαντορικοῦ πνεύματος, the Producer, or, Emitter of the revealing Spirit, and the ἔκφανσις or ἔλλαμψις, the revealing, the forth-shewing, were also used to express the procession of the one eternal Person from the Other as like the emission or forth-shewing of light from light.5b:1475
Greg. Naz., Orat. 37, 44.5b:1476
Text, πρὸς πᾶσαν πρόθεσιν: variant θέλησιν in almost all the codices.5b:1477
Greg. Orat. 38, and elsewhere.5b:1479
Greg. Nyss., Catech., c. 3.6b:1480
Ps. cxix. 89.6b:1481
Text, διαμένει: variant, μένει.6b:1483
Ps. civ. 30.6b:1484
Job xxxiii. 4.6b:1486
Basil, De Spir. Sancto, ad Amphil. c. 18.
Next: Concerning the Holy Trinity.
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