Genesis 1: 27 And God created man to his own image: to the image of God he created him: male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them, saying: Increase and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it, and rule over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and all living creatures that move upon the earth.
29 And God said: Behold I have given you every herb bearing seed upon the earth, and all trees that have in themselves seed of their own kind, to be your meat: 30 And to all beasts of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to all that move upon the earth, and wherein there is life, that they may have to feed upon. And it was so done. 31 And God saw all the things that he had made, and they were very good. And the evening and morning were the sixth day.
Friends, Day 6 of Creation will be the longest blog on any subject. Part 3 MAN; itself will be by far the longest. I have posted the writings on Creation with very little to no editing in order to give you a bigger and better understanding of the early church thinking rather than to place pieces of it into my own writing and philosophy.
On the sixth day, the earth brought forth draught animals and reptiles. On the which day, God also created man – first Adam in his image, and from his rib as he slept, He created the woman, Eve. In the sixth age of the world, among many false men who could be compared deservedly with serpents and beasts, namely on account of their savagery and because with their whole soul they cling to worldly cares and enticements, also many saints which is ‘ad idolatriam’ (to idolatry) were born among the people of God, who in the likeness of clean animals knew how to ruminate upon the word of God, to keep the hoof of discernment to the way of good works, to carry the yoke of divine law, and to keep the poor warm with the fleeces of their sheep, of both of whom [that is the false men and the saints] apt mention is made in the Gospel, among whom the second Adam, to wit the mediator between God and mankind, in whom was all the fullness of the image of God appeared in the world and, sleeping on the cross, blood and water came out from his side, from which sacraments the church is born and is nourished, which is the mother of all living a true life throughout the world, which is what the name of Eve means. Hence the Lord himself says of these sacraments, ‘Who eats my flesh and drinks my blood … will have eternal life’. Now we perceive the evening of this day approaching, since with iniquity abounding through all, the love of many grows cold. However, a much more shadowy one than the rest will come, when with the appearance of the man of sin, the son of iniquity, who is lifted up and extolled above all that is called God or that is worshipped, there will be such great tribulation that even the elect will be led into error, if that is possible. Immediately the following hour [will be that of] the judgment of all, about which it is written: ‘Coming like unto a son of man, you may consider, will he find faith on earth?’
St. Gregory of Nyssa on the Making of Man
This work was intended to supplement and complete the Hexaëmeron of S. Basil, and accepts that the writer was familiar with that writing of St. Basil. The narrative of the creation of the world is not discussed in detail: it is referred to, but chiefly in order to insist on the idea that the world was prepared to be the sphere of man’s sovereignty. On the other hand, Gregory shows that man was made with watchfulness, fitted by nature for rule over the other creatures, made in the likeness of God in respect of various moral attributes, and in the possession of reason, while differing from the Divine nature in that the human mind receives its information by means of the senses and is dependent on them for its perception of external things. The body is fitted to be the instrument of the mind, adapted to the use of a reasonable being: and it is by the possession of the rational soul ( ‘The soul, therefore, is a living essence, uncomplicated, incorporeal, (spiritual) invisible – in its proper nature – to the eyes of the body, immortal, reasoning and intelligent, formless, making use of an organic body and being the source of its powers of life, growth, sensation and generation, the intellect being its purest part though not in any way alien to it (as the eye is to the body, so the intellect is to the soul). It has power over itself, its volition (preference) and energy, and is mutable, i.e. able to be changed, because it is created. All of these features are natural to it through the Grace imparted by its Creator, and its being and nature are thus because of this same Grace which it has received’) as well as of the natural or vegetative and the sensible soul, that man differs from the lower animals.
At the same time, his mind works by means of the senses: it is incomprehensible in its nature (resembling in this the Divine nature of which it is the image), and its relation to the body is discussed at some length (chs. 12-15). The connection between mind and body is ineffable: it is not to be accounted for by supposing that the mind resides in any particular part of the body: the mind acts upon and is acted upon by the whole body, depending on the corporeal (physical) and material nature for one element of perception, so that perception requires both body and mind. But it is to the rational element that the name of soul properly belongs: the nutritive and sensible faculties only borrow the name from that which is higher than themselves. Man was first made in the image of God: and this conception excludes the idea of distinction of sex. In the first creation of man all humanity is included, according to the Divine foreknowledge: our whole nature extending from the first to the last is one image of Him Who is. But for the Fall, the increase of the human race would have taken place as the increase of the angelic race takes place, in some way unknown to us. The declension (the process of gradually declining or deteriorating) of man from his first estate made succession by generation necessary: and it was because this declension and its consequences were present to the Divine mind that God created them male and female. In this respect, and in respect of the need of nourishment by food, man is not in the image of God, but shows his kindred with the lower creation. But these necessities are not permanent: they will end with the restoration of man to his former excellence (chs. 16-18).
Here Gregory is led to speak (chs. 19-20) of the food of man in Paradise, and of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And thus, having made mention of the Fall of man, he goes on to speak of his Restoration. This, in his view, follows from the finite nature of evil: it is deferred until the sum of humanity is complete. As to the mode in which the present state of things will end, we know nothing: but that it will end is inferred from the non-eternity of matter (chs. 21-24). The doctrine of the Resurrection is supported by our knowledge of the accuracy with which other events have been predicted in Scripture, by the experience given to us of like events in particular cases, in those whom our Lord raised to life, and especially in His own resurrection. The argument that such a restoration is impossible is met by an appeal to the unlimited character of the Divine power, and by inferences from parallels observed in nature (chs. 25-27). Gregory then proceeds to deal with the question of the pre-existence of the soul, rejecting that opinion, and maintaining that the body and the soul come into existence together, potentially in the Divine will, actually at the moment when each individual man comes into being by generation (chs. 28-29). In the course of his argument on this last point, he turns aside to discuss at some length, in the last chapter, the structure of the human body: but he returns once more, in conclusion, to his main position, that man is generated as a living and animated being, and that the power of the soul is gradually manifested in, and by means of, the material substratum of the body; so that man is brought to perfection by the aid of the lower attributes of the soul. But the true perfection of the soul is not in these, which will ultimately be put away, but in the higher attributes which constitute for man the image of God.
Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa, to his brother Peter, the servant of God.
If we had to honor with rewards of money those who excel in virtue, the whole world of money, as Solomon says , would seem but small to be made equal to your virtue in the balance. Since, however, the debt of gratitude due to your Reverence is greater than can be valued in money, and the holy Eastertide demands the accustomed gift of love, we offer to your greatness of mind, O man of God, a gift too small indeed to be worthy of presentation to you, yet not falling short of the extent of our power. The gift is a discourse, like a mean (poor) garment, woven not without toil from our poor wit, and the subject of the discourse, while it will perhaps be generally thought audacious, yet seemed not unfitting. For he alone has worthily considered the creation of God who truly was created after God, and whose soul was fashioned in the image of Him Who created him—Basil, our common father and teacher (father by virtue of knowledge, teaching, and age, Basil was the older brother of Peter and Gregory)—who by his own speculation made the sublime (magnificent, beautiful) ordering of the universe generally intelligible, making the world as established by God in the true Wisdom known to those who by means of his understanding are led to such contemplation: but we, who fall short even of worthily admiring him, yet intend to add to the great writer’s speculations that which is lacking in them, not so as to interpolate his work by insertion (for it is not to be thought of that that lofty mouth should suffer the insult of being given as authority for our discourses), but so that the glory of the teacher may not seem to be failing among his disciples.
For if, the consideration of man being lacking in his Hexaëmeron, none of those who had been his disciples contributed any earnest effort to supply the defect, the scoffer would perhaps have had a handle against his great fame, on the ground that he had not cared to produce in his hearers any habit of intelligence. But now that we venture according to our powers upon the exposition of what was lacking, if anything should be found in our work such as to be not unworthy of his teaching, it will surely be referred to our teacher: while if our discourse does not reach the height of his sublime speculation, he will be free from this charge and escape the blame of seeming not to wish that his disciples should have any skill at all, though we perhaps may be answerable to our censurers as being unable to contain in the littleness of our heart the wisdom of our instructor.
The scope of our proposed enquiry is not small: it is second to none of the wonders of the world—perhaps even greater than any of those known to us, because no other existing thing, save the human creation, has been made like to God: thus we shall readily find that allowance will be made for what we say by kindly readers, even if our discourse is far behind the merits of the subject. For it is our business, I suppose, to leave nothing unexamined of all that concerns man—of what we believe to have taken place previously, of what we now see, and of the results which are expected afterwards to appear (for surely our effort would be convicted of failing of its promise, if, when man is proposed for contemplation, any of the questions which bear upon the subject were to be omitted); and, moreover, we must fit together, according to the explanation of Scripture and to that derived from reasoning, those statements concerning him which seem, by a kind of necessary sequence, to be opposed, so that our whole subject may be consistent in train of thought and in order, as the statements that seem to be contrary are brought (if the Divine power so discovers a hope for what is beyond hope, and a way for what is inextricable) to one and the same end: and for clearness’ sake I think it well to set forth to you the discourse by chapters, that you may be able briefly to know the force of the several arguments of the whole work.
I. Wherein is a partial inquiry into the nature of the world, and a more minute exposition of the things which preceded the genesis of man
1. This is the book of the generation of heaven and earth , says the Scripture, when all that is seen was finished, and each of the things that are betook itself to its own separate place, when the body of heaven compassed all things round, and those bodies which are heavy and of downward tendency, the earth and the water, holding each other in, took the middle place of the universe; while, as a sort of bond and stability for the things that were made, the Divine power and skill was implanted in the growth of things, guiding all things with the reins of a double operation (for it was by rest and motion that it devised the genesis of the things that were not, and the continuance of the things that are), driving around, about the heavy and changeless element contributed by the creation that does not move, as about some fixed path, the exceedingly rapid motion of the sphere, like a wheel, and preserving the indissolubility of both by their mutual action, as the circling substance by its rapid motion compresses the compact body of the earth round about, while that which is firm and unyielding, by reason of its unchanging fixedness, continually augments the whirling motion of those things which revolve round it, and intensity is produced in equal measure in each of the natures which thus differ in their operation, in the stationary nature, I mean, and in the mobile revolution; for neither is the earth shifted from its own base, nor does the heaven ever relax in its vehemence, or slacken its motion.
2. These, moreover, were first framed before other things, according to the Divine wisdom, to be as it were a beginning of the whole machine, the great Moses indicating, I suppose, where he says that the heaven and the earth were made by God in the beginning Genesis 1:1 that all things that are seen in the creation are the offspring of rest and motion, brought into being by the Divine will. Now the heaven and the earth being diametrically opposed to each other in their operations, the creation which lies between the opposites, and has in part a share in what is adjacent to it, itself acts as a mean between the extremes, so that there is manifestly a mutual contact of the opposites through the mean; for air in a manner imitates the perpetual motion and subtlety of the fiery substance, both in the lightness of its nature, and in its suitableness for motion; yet it is not such as to be alienated from the solid substance, for it is no more in a state of continual flux and dispersion than in a permanent state of immobility, but becomes, in its affinity to each, a kind of borderland of the opposition between operations, at once uniting in itself and dividing things which are naturally distinct.
3. In the same way, liquid substance also is attached by double qualities to each of the opposites; for in so far as it is heavy and of downward tendency it is closely akin to the earthy; but in so far as it partakes of a certain fluid and mobile energy it is not altogether alien from the nature which is in motion; and by means of this also there is effected a kind of mixture and concurrence of the opposites, weight being transferred to motion, and motion finding no hindrance in weight, so that things most extremely opposite in nature combine with one another, and are mutually joined by those which act as means between them.
4. But to speak strictly, one should rather say that the very nature of the contraries themselves is not entirely without mixture of properties, each with the other, so that, as I think, all that we see in the world mutually agree, and the creation, though discovered in properties of contrary natures, is yet at union with itself. For as motion is not conceived merely as local shifting, but is also contemplated in change and alteration, and on the other hand the immovable nature does not admit motion by way of alteration, the wisdom of God has transposed these properties, and wrought unchangeableness in that which is ever moving, and change in that which is immovable; doing this, it may be, by a providential dispensation, so that that property of nature which constitutes its immutability and immobility might not, when viewed in any created object, cause the creature to be accounted as God; for that which may happen to move or change would cease to admit of the conception of Godhead. Hence the earth is stable without being immutable, while the heaven, on the contrary, as it has no mutability, so has not stability either, that the Divine power, by interweaving change in the stable nature and motion with that which is not subject to change, might, by the interchange of attributes, at once join them both closely to each other, and make them alien from the conception of Deity; for as has been said, neither of these (neither that which is unstable, nor that which is mutable) can be considered to belong to the more Divine nature.
5. Now all things were already arrived at their own end: the heaven and the earth Genesis 2:1, as Moses says, were finished, and all things that lie between them, and the particular things were adorned with their appropriate beauty; the heaven with the rays of the stars, the sea and air with the living creatures that swim and fly, and the earth with all varieties of plants and animals, to all which, empowered by the Divine will, it gave birth together; the earth was full, too, of her produce, bringing forth fruits at the same time with flowers; the meadows were full of all that grows therein, and all the mountain ridges, and summits, and every hillside, and slope, and hollow, were crowned with young grass, and with the varied produce of the trees, just risen from the ground, yet shot up at once into their perfect beauty; and all the beasts that had come into life at God’s command were rejoicing, we may suppose, and skipping about, running to and fro in the thickets in herds according to their kind, while every sheltered and shady spot was ringing with the chants of the songbirds. And at sea, we may suppose, the sight to be seen was of the like kind, as it had just settled to quiet and calm in the gathering together of its depths, where havens and harbors spontaneously hollowed out on the coasts made the sea reconciled with the land; and the gentle motion of the waves vied in beauty with the meadows, rippling delicately with light and harmless breezes that skimmed the surface; and all the wealth of creation by land and sea was ready, and none was there to share it.
II. Why man appeared last, after the creation
1. For not as yet had that great and precious thing, man, come into the world of being; it was not to be looked for that the ruler should appear before the subjects of his rule; but when his dominion was prepared, the next step was that the king should be manifested. When, then, the Maker of all had prepared beforehand, as it were, a royal lodging for the future king (and this was the land, and islands, and sea, and the heaven arching like a roof over them), and when all kinds of wealth had been stored in this palace (and by wealth I mean the whole creation, all that is in plants and trees, and all that has sense, and breath, and life; and— if we are to account materials also as wealth— all that for their beauty are reckoned precious in the eyes of men, as gold and silver, and the substances of your jewels which men delight in— having concealed, I say, abundance of all these also in the bosom of the earth as in a royal treasure-house), he thus manifests man in the world, to be the beholder of some of the wonders therein, and the lord of others; that by his enjoyment he might have knowledge of the Giver, and by the beauty and majesty of the things he saw might trace out that power of the Maker which is beyond speech and language.
2. For this reason man was brought into the world last after the creation, not being rejected to the last as worthless, but as one whom it behooved to be king over his subjects at his very birth. And as a good host does not bring his guest to his house before the preparation of his feast, but, when he has made all due preparation, and decked with their proper adornments his house, his couches, his table, brings his guest home when things suitable for his refreshment are in readiness—in the same manner the rich and munificent (generous, bountiful) Entertainer of our nature, when He had decked the habitation with beauties of every kind, and prepared this great and varied banquet, then introduced man, assigning to him as his task not the acquiring of what was not there, but the enjoyment of the things which were there; and for this reason He gives him as foundations the instincts of a twofold organization, blending the Divine with the earthy, that by means of both he may be naturally and properly disposed to each enjoyment, enjoying God by means of his more divine nature, and the good things of earth by the sense that is akin to them.
III. That the nature of man is more precious than all the visible creation
1. But it is right that we should not leave this point without consideration, that while the world, great as it is, and its parts, are laid as an elemental foundation for the formation of the universe, the creation is, so to say, made offhand by the Divine power, existing at once on His command, while counsel precedes the making of man; and that which is to be is foreshown by the Maker in verbal description, and of what kind it is fitting that it should be, and to what archetype (prototype) it is fitting that it should bear a likeness, and for what it shall be made, and what its operation shall be when it is made, and of what it shall be the ruler—all these things the saying examines beforehand, so that he has a rank assigned him before his genesis, and possesses rule over the things that are before his coming into being; for it says, God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and the beasts of the earth, and the fowls of the heaven, and the cattle, and all the earth.
2. O marvelous! A sun is made, and no counsel precedes; a heaven likewise; and to these no single thing in creation is equal. So great a wonder is formed by a word alone, and the saying indicates neither when, nor how, nor any such detail. So too in all particular cases, the æther, the stars, the intermediate air, the sea, the earth, the animals, the plants—all are brought into being with a word, while only to the making of man does the Maker of all draw near with circumspection, so as to prepare beforehand for him material for his formation, and to liken his form to an archetypal beauty, and, setting before him a mark for which he is to come into being, to make for him a nature appropriate and allied to the operations, and suitable for the object in hand.
IV. That the construction of man throughout signifies his ruling power.
1. For as in our own life artificers fashion a tool in the way suitable to its use, so the best Artificer made our nature as it were a formation fit for the exercise of royalty, preparing it at once by superior advantages of soul, and by the very form of the body, to be such as to be adapted for royalty: for the soul immediately shows its royal and exalted character, far removed as it is from the lowliness of private station, in that it owns no lord, and is self-governed, swayed autocratically by its own will; for to whom else does this belong than to a king? And further, besides these facts, the fact that it is the image of that Nature which rules over all means nothing else than this, that our nature was created to be royal from the first. For as, in men’s ordinary use, those who make images of princes both mould the figure of their form, and represent along with this the royal rank by the vesture of purple, and even the likeness is commonly spoken of as a king, so the human nature also, as it was made to rule the rest, was, by its likeness to the King of all, made as it were a living image, partaking with the archetype both in rank and in name, not vested in purple, nor giving indication of its rank by scepter and diadem (for the archetype itself is not arrayed with these), but instead of the purple robe, clothed in virtue, which is in truth the most royal of all raiment, and in place of the scepter, leaning on the bliss of immortality, and instead of the royal diadem, decked with the crown of righteousness; so that it is shown to be perfectly like to the beauty of its archetype in all that belongs to the dignity of royalty.
V. That man is a likeness of the Divine sovereignty.
1. It is true, indeed, that the Divine beauty is not adorned with any shape or endowment of form, by any beauty of color, but is contemplated as excellence in unspeakable bliss. As then painters transfer human forms to their pictures by the means of certain colors, laying on their copy the proper and corresponding tints, so that the beauty of the original may be accurately transferred to the likeness, so I would have you understand that our Maker also, painting the portrait to resemble His own beauty, by the addition of virtues, as it were with colors, shows in us His own sovereignty: and manifold and varied are the tints, so to say, by which His true form is portrayed: not red, or white , or the blending of these, whatever it may be called, nor a touch of black that paints the eyebrow and the eye, and shades, by some combination, the depressions in the figure, and all such arts which the hands of painters contrive, but instead of these, purity, freedom from passion, blessedness, alienation from all evil, and all those attributes of the like kind which help to form in men the likeness of God: with such hues as these did the Maker of His own image mark our nature.
2. And if you were to examine the other points also by which the Divine beauty is expressed, you will find that to them also the likeness in the image which we present is perfectly preserved. The Godhead is mind and word: for in the beginning was the Word and the followers of Paul have the mind of Christ which speaks in them : humanity too is not far removed from these: you see in yourself word and understanding, an imitation of the very Mind and Word. Again, God is love, and the fount of love: for this the great John declares, that love is of God, and God is love 1 John 4:7-8: the Fashioner of our nature has made this to be our feature too: for hereby, He says, shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you love one another : thus, if this be absent, the whole stamp of the likeness is transformed. The Deity beholds and hears all things, and searches all things out: you too have the power of apprehension of things by means of sight and hearing, and the understanding that inquires into things and searches them out.
VI. An examination of the kindred of mind to nature: wherein, by way of digression, is refuted the doctrine of the Anomœans.
1. And let no one suppose me to say that the Deity is in touch with existing things in a manner resembling human operation, by means of different faculties. For it is impossible to conceive in the simplicity of the Godhead the varied and diverse nature of the apprehensive operation: not even in our own case are the faculties which apprehend things numerous, although we are in touch with those things which affect our life in many ways by means of our senses; for there is one faculty, the implanted mind itself, which passes through each of the organs of sense and grasps the things beyond: this it is that, by means of the eyes, beholds what is seen; this it is that, by means of hearing, understands what is said; that is content with what is to our taste, and turns from what is unpleasant; that uses the hand for whatever it wills, taking hold or rejecting by its means, using the help of the organ for this purpose precisely as it thinks expedient.
2. If in men, then, even though the organs formed by nature for purposes of perception may be different, that which operates and moves by means of all, and uses each appropriately for the object before it, is one and the same, not changing its nature by the differences of operations, how could any one suspect multiplicity of essence in God on the ground of His varied powers? For He that made the eye, as the prophet says, and that planted the ear , stamped on human nature these operations to be as it were significant characters, with reference to their models in Himself: for He says, Let us make man in our image Genesis 1:26 .
3. But what, I would ask, becomes of the heresy of the Anomœans (In 4th-century Christianity, the Anomoeans, and known also as Heterousians, Aetians, or Eunomians, were a sect that upheld an extreme form of Arianism, that Jesus Christ was not of the same nature as God the Father nor was of like nature, as maintained by the semi-Arians.)? What will they say to this utterance? How will they defend the vanity of their dogma in view of the words cited? Will they say that it is possible that one image should be made like to different forms? If the Son is in nature unlike the Father, how comes it that the likeness He forms of the different natures is one? For He Who said, Let us make after our image, and by the plural signification revealed the Holy Trinity, would not, if the archetypes were unlike one another, have mentioned the image in the singular: for it would be impossible that there should be one likeness displayed of things which do not agree with one another: if the natures were different he would assuredly have begun their images also differently, making the appropriate image for each: but since the image is one, while the archetype is not one, who is so far beyond the range of understanding as not to know that the things which are like the same thing, surely resemble one another? Therefore He says (the word, it may be, cutting short this wickedness at the very formation of human life), Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.
VII. Why man is destitute of natural weapons and covering
1. But what means the uprightness of his figure? And why is it that those powers which aid life do not naturally belong to his body? But man is brought into life bare of natural covering, an unarmed and poor being, destitute of all things useful, worthy, according to appearances, of pity rather than of admiration, not armed with prominent horns or sharp claws, nor with hoofs nor with teeth, nor possessing by nature any deadly venom in a sting—things such as most animals have in their own power for defense against those who do them harm: his body is not protected with a covering of hair: and yet possibly it was to be expected that he who was promoted to rule over the rest of the creatures should be defended by nature with arms of his own so that he might not need assistance from others for his own security. Now, however, the lion, the boar, the tiger, the leopard, and all the like have natural power sufficient for their safety: and the bull has his horn, the hare his speed, the deer his leap and the certainty of his sight, and another beast has bulk, others a proboscis (trunk) , the birds have their wings, and the bee her sting, and generally in all there is some protective power implanted by nature: but man alone of all is slower than the beasts that are swift of foot, smaller than those that are of great bulk, more defenseless than those that are protected by natural arms; and how, one will say, has such a being obtained the sovereignty over all things?
2. Well, I think it would not be at all hard to show that what seems to be a deficiency of our nature is a means for our obtaining dominion over the subject creatures. For if man had had such power as to be able to outrun the horse in swiftness, and to have a foot that, from its solidity, could not be worn out, but was strengthened by hoofs or claws of some kind, and to carry upon him horns and stings and claws, he would be, to begin with, a wild-looking and formidable creature, if such things grew with his body: and moreover he would have neglected his rule over the other creatures if he had no need of the co-operation of his subjects; whereas now, the needful services of our life are divided among the individual animals that are under our sway, for this reason— to make our dominion over them necessary.
3. It was the slowness and difficult motion of our body that brought the horse to supply our need, and tamed him: it was the nakedness of our body that made necessary our management of sheep, which supplies the deficiency of our nature by its yearly produce of wool: it was the fact that we import from others the supplies for our living which subjected beasts of burden to such service: furthermore, it was the fact that we cannot eat grass like cattle which brought the ox to render service to our life, who makes our living easy for us by his own labor; and because we needed teeth and biting power to subdue some of the other animals by grip of teeth, the dog gave, together with his swiftness, his own jaw to supply our need, becoming like a live sword for man; and there has been discovered by men iron, stronger and more penetrating than prominent horns or sharp claws, not, as those things do with the beasts, always growing naturally with us, but entering into alliance with us for the time, and for the rest abiding by itself: and to compensate for the crocodile’s scaly hide, one may make that very hide serve as armor, by putting it on his skin upon occasion: or, failing that, art fashions iron for this purpose too, which, when it has served him for a time for war, leaves the man-at-arms once more free from the burden in time of peace: and the wing of the birds, too, ministers to our life, so that by aid of contrivance we are not left behind even by the speed of wings: for some of them become tame and are of service to those who catch birds, and by their means others are by contrivance subdued to serve our needs: moreover art contrives to make our arrows feathered, and by means of the bow gives us for our needs the speed of wings: while the fact that our feet are easily hurt and worn in travelling makes necessary the aid which is given by the subject animals: for hence it comes that we fit shoes to our feet.
VIII. Why man’s form is upright; and that hands were given him because of reason; wherein also is a speculation on the difference of souls.
1. But man’s form is upright, and extends aloft towards heaven, and looks upwards: and these are marks of sovereignty which show his royal dignity. For the fact that man alone among existing things is such as this, while all others bow their bodies downwards, clearly points to the difference of dignity between those which stoop beneath his sway and that power which rises above them: for all the rest have the foremost limbs of their bodies in the form of feet, because that which stoops needs something to support it: but in the formation of man these limbs were made hands, for the upright body found one base, supporting its position securely on two feet, sufficient for its needs.
2. Especially do these ministering hands adapt themselves to the requirements of the reason: indeed if one were to say that the ministration of hands is a special property of the rational nature, he would not be entirely wrong; and that not only because his thought turns to the common and obvious fact that we signify our reasoning by means of the natural employment of our hands in written characters. It is true that this fact, that we speak by writing, and, in a certain way, converse by the aid of our hands, preserving sounds by the forms of the alphabet, is not unconnected with the endowment of reason; but I am referring to something else when I say that the hands co-operate with the bidding of reason.
3. Let us, however, before discussing this point, consider the matter we passed over (for the subject of the order of created things almost escaped our notice), why the growth of things that spring from the earth takes precedence, and the irrational animals come next, and then, after the making of these, comes man: for it may be that we learn from these facts not only the obvious thought, that grass appeared to the Creator useful for the sake of the animals, while the animals were made because of man, and that for this reason, before the animals there was made their food, and before man that which was to minister to human life.
4. But it seems to me that by these facts Moses reveals a hidden doctrine, and secretly delivers that wisdom concerning the soul, of which the learning that is without had indeed some imagination, but no clear comprehension. His discourse then hereby teaches us that the power of life and soul may be considered in three divisions. For one is only a power of growth and nutrition supplying what is suitable for the support of the bodies that are nourished, which is called the vegetative soul, and is to be seen in plants; for we may perceive in growing plants a certain vital power destitute of sense; and there is another form of life besides this, which, while it includes the form above mentioned, is also possessed in addition of the power of management according to sense; and this is to be found in the nature of the irrational animals: for they are not only the subjects of nourishment and growth, but also have the activity of sense and perception. But perfect bodily life is seen in the rational (I mean the human) nature, which both is nourished and endowed with sense, and also partakes of reason and is ordered by mind.
5. We might make a division of our subject in some such way as this. Of things existing, part are intellectual, part corporeal. Let us leave alone for the present the division of the intellectual according to its properties, for our argument is not concerned with these. Of the corporeal, part is entirely devoid of life, and part shares in vital energy. Of a living body, again, part has sense conjoined with life, and part is without sense: lastly, that which has sense is again divided into rational and irrational. For this reason the lawgiver says that after inanimate matter (as a sort of foundation for the form of animate things), this vegetative life was made, and had earlier existence in the growth of plants: then he proceeds to introduce the genesis of those creatures which are regulated by sense: and since, following the same order, of those things which have obtained life in the flesh, those which have sense can exist by themselves even apart from the intellectual nature, while the rational principle could not be embodied save as blended with the sensitive—for this reason man was made last after the animals, as nature advanced in an orderly course to perfection. For this rational animal, man, is blended of every form of soul; he is nourished by the vegetative kind of soul, and to the faculty of growth was added that of sense, which stands midway, if we regard its peculiar nature, between the intellectual and the more material essence being as much coarser than the one as it is more refined than the other: then takes place a certain alliance and commixture of the intellectual essence with the subtle and enlightened element of the sensitive nature: so that man consists of these three: as we are taught the like thing by the apostle in what he says to the Ephesians , praying for them that the complete grace of their body and soul and spirit may be preserved at the coming of the Lord; using, the word body for the nutritive part, and denoting the sensitive by the word soul, and the intellectual by spirit. Likewise too the Lord instructs the scribe in the Gospel that he should set before every commandment that love to God which is exercised with all the heart and soul and mind : for here also it seems to me that the phrase indicates the same difference, naming the more corporeal existence heart, the intermediate soul, and the higher nature, the intellectual and mental faculty, mind.
6. Hence also the apostle recognizes three divisions of dispositions, calling one carnal, which is busied with the belly and the pleasures connected with it, another natural , which holds a middle position with regard to virtue and vice, rising above the one, but without pure participation in the other; and another spiritual, which perceives the perfection of godly life: wherefore he says to the Corinthians, reproaching their indulgence in pleasure and passion, You are carnal 1 Corinthians 3:3, and incapable of receiving the more perfect doctrine; while elsewhere, making a comparison of the middle kind with the perfect, he says, but the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit: for they are foolishness unto him: but he that is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is judged of no man 1 Corinthians 2:14-15 . As, then, the natural man is higher than the carnal, by the same measure also the spiritual man rises above the natural.
7. If, therefore, Scripture tells us that man was made last, after every animate thing, the lawgiver is doing nothing else than declaring to us the doctrine of the soul, considering that what is perfect comes last, according to a certain necessary sequence in the order of things: for in the rational are included the others also, while in the sensitive there also surely exists the vegetative form, and that again is conceived only in connection with what is material: thus we may suppose that nature makes an ascent as it were by steps. I mean the various properties of life from the lower to the perfect form.
8. Now since man is a rational animal, the instrument of his body must be made suitable for the use of reason; as you may see musicians producing their music according to the form of their instruments, and not piping with harps nor harping upon flutes, so it must needs be that the organization of these instruments of ours should be adapted for reason, that when struck by the vocal organs it might be able to sound properly for the use of words. For this reason the hands were attached to the body; for though we can count up very many uses in daily life for which these skillfully contrived and helpful instruments, our hands, that easily follow every art and every operation, alike in war and peace , are serviceable, yet nature added them to our body pre-eminently for the sake of reason. For if man were destitute of hands, the various parts of his face would certainly have been arranged like those of the quadrupeds, to suit the purpose of his feeding: so that its form would have been lengthened out and pointed towards the nostrils, and his lips would have projected from his mouth, lumpy, and stiff, and thick, fitted for taking up the grass, and his tongue would either have lain between his teeth, of a kind to match his lips, fleshy, and hard, and rough, assisting his teeth to deal with what came under his grinder, or it would have been moist and hanging out at the side like that of dogs and other carnivorous beasts, projecting through the gaps in his jagged row of teeth. If, then, our body had no hands, how could articulate sound have been implanted in it, seeing that the form of the parts of the mouth would not have had the configuration proper for the use of speech, so that man must of necessity have either bleated, or baaed, or barked, or neighed, or bellowed like oxen or asses, or uttered some bestial sound? But now, as the hand is made part of the body, the mouth is at leisure for the service of the reason. Thus the hands are shown to be the property of the rational nature, the Creator having thus devised by their means a special advantage for reason.
IX. That the form of man was framed to serve as an instrument for the use of reason.
1. Now since our Maker has bestowed upon our formation a certain Godlike grace, by implanting in His image the likeness of His own excellences, for this reason He gave, of His bounty, His other good gifts to human nature; but mind and reason we cannot strictly say that He gave, but that He imparted them, adding to the image the proper adornment of His own nature. Now since the mind is a thing intelligible and incorporeal, its grace would have been incommunicable and isolated, if its motion were not manifested by some contrivance. For this cause there was still need of this instrumental organization, that it might, like a plectrum, touch the vocal organs and indicate by the quality of the notes struck, the motion within.
2. And as some skilled musician, who may have been deprived by some affection of his own voice, and yet wish to make his skill known, might make melody with voices of others, and publish his art by the aid of flutes or of the lyre, so also the human mind being a discoverer of all sorts of conceptions, seeing that it is unable, by the mere soul, to reveal to those who hear by bodily senses the motions of its understanding, touches, like some skillful composer, these animated instruments, and makes known its hidden thoughts by means of the sound produced upon them.
3. Now the music of the human instrument is a sort of compound of flute and lyre, sounding together in combination as in a concerted piece of music. For the breath, as it is forced up from the air-receiving vessels through the windpipe, when the speaker’s impulse to utterance attunes the harmony to sound, and as it strikes against the internal protuberances which divide this flute-like passage in a circular arrangement, imitates in a way the sound uttered through a flute, being driven round and round by the membranous projections. But the palate receives the sound from below in its own concavity, and dividing the sound by the two passages that extend to the nostrils, and by the cartilages about the perforated bone, as it were by some scaly protuberance, makes its resonance louder; while the cheek, the tongue, the mechanism of the pharynx by which the chin is relaxed when drawn in, and tightened when extended to a point— all these in many different ways answer to the motion of the plectrum upon the strings, varying very quickly, as occasion requires, the arrangement of the tones; and the opening and closing of the lips has the same effect as players produce when they check the breath of the flute with their fingers according to the measure of the tune.
X. That the mind works by means of the senses.
1. As the mind then produces the music of reason by means of our instrumental construction, we are born rational, while, as I think, we should not have had the gift of reason if we had had to employ our lips to supply the need of the body— the heavy and toilsome part of the task of providing food. As things are, however, our hands appropriate this ministration to themselves, and leave the mouth available for the service of reason.
2. The operation of the instrument , however, is twofold; one for the production of sound, the other for the reception of concepts from without; and the one faculty does not blend with the other, but abides in the operation for which it was appointed by nature, not interfering with its neighbor either by the sense of hearing undertaking to speak, or by the speech undertaking to hear; for the latter is always uttering something, while the ear, as Solomon somewhere says, is not filled with continual hearing.
3. That point as to our internal faculties which seems to me to be even in a special degree matter for wonder, is this: what is the extent of that inner receptacle into which flows everything that is poured in by our hearing? Who are the recorders of the sayings that are brought in by it? What sort of storehouses are there for the concepts that are being put in by our hearing? And how is it, that when many of them, of varied kinds, are pressing one upon another, there arises no confusion and error in the relative position of the things that are laid up there? And one may have the like feeling of wonder also with regard to the operation of sight; for by it also in like manner the mind apprehends those things which are external to the body, and draws to itself the images of phenomena, marking in itself the impressions of the things which are seen.
4. And just as if there were some extensive city receiving all comers by different entrances, all will not congregate at any particular place, but some will go to the market, some to the houses, others to the churches, or the streets, or lanes, or the theatres, each according to his own inclination—some such city of our mind I seem to discern established in us, which the different entrances through the senses keep filling, while the mind, distinguishing and examining each of the things that enters, ranks them in their proper departments of knowledge.
5. And as, to follow the illustration of the city, it may often be that those who are of the same family and kindred do not enter by the same gate, coming in by different entrances, as it may happen, but are none the less, when they come within the circuit of the wall, brought together again, being on close terms with each other (and one may find the contrary happen; for those who are strangers and mutually unknown often take one entrance to the city, yet their community of entrance does not bind them together; for even when they are within they can be separated to join their own kindred); something of the same kind I seem to discern in the spacious territory of our mind; for often the knowledge which we gather from the different organs of sense is one, as the same object is divided into several parts in relation to the senses; and again, on the contrary, we may learn from some one sense many and varied things which have no affinity one with another.
6. For instance— for it is better to make our argument clear by illustration— let us suppose that we are making some inquiry into the property of tastes, what is sweet to the sense, and what is to be avoided by tasters. We find, then, by experience, both the bitterness of gall and the pleasant character of the quality of honey; but when these facts are known, the knowledge is one which is given to us (the same thing being introduced to our understanding in several ways) by taste, smell, hearing, and often by touch and sight. For when one sees honey, and hears its name, and receives it by taste, and recognizes its odor by smell, and tests it by touch, he recognizes the same thing by means of each of his senses.
7. On the other hand we get varied and multiform information by some one sense, for as hearing receives all sorts of sounds, and our visual perception exercises its operation by beholding things of different kinds— for it lights alike on black and white, and all things that are distinguished by contrariety of color—so with taste, with smell, with perception by touch; each implants in us by means of its own perceptive power the knowledge of things of every kind.
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