gregory of nyssa on the soul and resurrection

It holds the object of the one; the other is extruded from the consciousness by the occupation in enjoying all that is good: and thus the soul copies the life that is above, and is conformed to the peculiar features of the Divine nature; none of its habits are left to it except that of love, which clings by natural affinity to the Beautiful. Consideration of such points belongs to another line of inquiry altogether. Composition must precede dissolution (and by composition I mean the coming into this world by being born); necessarily, therefore, if this synthesis does not precede, no dissolution will follow. But the fact that this world presents a difference in kind to that Being militates against such a supposition. Please try again. that all things depend on God and are encompassed by Him, or, that there is any divinity at all transcending the physical world. There is a brief introduction by the translator. I, too, am sensible of the fact that human life will be bereft of the most beautiful ornament that life has to give, I mean virtue, unless an undoubting confidence with regard to this be established within us. There are three states in which reasoning creatures can be: one from the very first received an immaterial life, and we call it the angelic: another is in union with the flesh, and we call it the human: a third is released by death from fleshly entanglements, and is to be found in souls pure and simple. By what device, then, can we bring ourselves to regard as nothing a departure from life even in the case of a stranger, not to mention that of relations, when so be they cease to live? For it would not be reasonable to think that the man who has remained so long as we have supposed in evil known to be forbidden, and the man who has fallen only into moderate sins, should be tortured to the same amount in the judgment upon their vicious habit; but according to the quantity of material will be the longer or shorter time that that agonizing flame will be burning; that is, as long as there is fuel to feed it. Some parts, for instance, are the efficient causes within us of our being alive; without them our life in the flesh could not possibly be carried on; such are the heart, liver, brain, lungs, stomach, and the other vitals; others are assigned to the activities of sensation; others to those of handing and walking ; others are adapted for the transmission of a posterity. The environment of the atoms being one and the same on every side of the earth, I deem it right neither to contradict nor yet to favour those who raise the objection that we must regard either this or the lower region as assigned to the souls released. The mind, in times of bereavement, craves a certainty gained by reasoning as to the existence of the soul after death. We expect fruit in accordance with the nature of the seed. Just so, when we look to our inner world, we find no slight grounds there also, in the known, for conjecturing the unknown; and the unknown there also is that which, being the object of thought and not of sight, eludes the grasp of sense. For the man who had asked the Apostle, how are the dead raised up? The Teacher sighed gently at these words of mine, and then said; Maybe these were the objections, or such as these, that the Stoics and Epicureans collected at Athens made in answer to the Apostle. Thus we must think of the gulf as that which parts ideas which may not be confounded from running together, not as a chasm of the earth. Nor do I think that this point can ever be reached by any inquirers. Both paralleled Socrates' death in the Phaedo. If, again, a lower nature is subject to infirmity, how in the midst of this infirmity can freedom from it be achieved? One of these items ships sooner than the other. in Cappadocia (in present-day Turkey). But why dwell longer on these the less forcible objections to the Resurrection, and neglect the strongest one of all? For how can they assert that the intelligible and immaterial Unseen can be dissolved and diffused into the wet and the soft, as also into the hot and the dry, and so hold together the universe in existence through being, though not of a kindred nature with the things which it penetrates, yet not thereby incapable of so penetrating them? Therefore, if we are to go upon probabilities, the life after this is shown to us beforehand as something that is fixed and imperishable, with no birth and no decay to change it. In the same fashion the human being deposits in death all those peculiar surroundings which it has acquired from passionate propensities; dishonour, I mean, and corruption and weakness and characteristics of age; and yet the human being does not lose itself. Why, the actual doctrine of the Resurrection, I replied. Basil, great among the saints, had departed from this life to God; and the impulse to mourn for him was shared by all the churches. Gregory of Nyssa: Dogmatic Treatises, Etc — Gregory of Nyssa. Whatever instance we take, howsoever we suppose this to have been, it is all the same; from these differences in life there arises no difficulty, any more than any facility, with regard to the Resurrection. If, for instance, a little boy was buried, but a grown man rises again, or reversely, how can we say that the dead in his very self is raised up, when he has had some one substituted for him by virtue of this difference in age? For if it were possible to ascribe such wonders, as the theory of our opponents does, to the actual constitution of the elements, we should have these mechanisms building themselves spontaneously; the bronze would not wait for the artist, to be made into the likeness of a man, but would become such by an innate force; the air would not require the pipe, to make a note, but would sound spontaneously by its own fortuitous flux and motion; and the jet of the water upwards would not be, as it now is, the result of an artificial pressure forcing it to move in an unnatural direction, but the water would rise into the mechanism of its own accord, finding in that direction a natural channel. The Divine power, in the superabundance of Omnipotence, does not only restore you that body once dissolved, but makes great and splendid additions to it, whereby the human being is furnished in a manner still more magnificent. How, for instance, with a shout and the sound of trumpets (in the language of the Word) all dead and prostrate things shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye into immortal beings. None would dare to maintain that what is fair can come out of what is foul, any more than from good can come its opposite. Perhaps there may be some possible means of delineating its nature; so that we may have some comprehension of this subject, in the way of a sketch. And I at once tried to repeat all the devices hit upon by their captious champions to upset the doctrine of the Resurrection. He saw a mighty plain Ezekiel 37:1-10, unfolded to an endless distance before him, and vast heaps of bones upon it flung at random, some this way, some that; and then under an impulse from God these bones began to move and group themselves with their fellows that they once owned, and adhere to the familiar sockets, and then clothe themselves with muscle, flesh, and skin (which was the process called decorating in the poetry of the Psalms); a Spirit in fact was giving life and movement to everything that lay there. Do you not confidently maintain that it is so, because you have arrived by reasoning through phenomena at the conception of such and such a movement, of such distances of time and space, of such causes of eclipse? Did it then come from some other quarter? Now the soul is not thus operative only in our scientific and speculative intellect; it does not produce results in that world only, or employ the organs of sense only for this their natural work. Basil and Gregory came from a family of about nine children, half of them recognized as saints. Gregory of Nyssa composed a "Dialogue on the Soul and Resurrection" (peri psyches kai anastaseos), entitled ta Makrinia (P.G. What would the ear, as separate from mind, or the eye or the nostril or any other organ have helped towards the settling of the question, all by themselves? He would not, I take it, have spoken like that, if he had thought that the question could be settled by any efforts of the reasoning powers. First, then: Virtue will be impossible, if deprived of the life of eternity, her only advantage. This being so, we shall not pronounce these emotions of the soul, which lie in the power of their possessors for good or ill, to be either virtue or vice. Something we hope you'll especially enjoy: FBA items qualify for FREE Shipping and Amazon Prime. Death then being naturally so terrible to us, how can it be easy for a survivor to obey this command to remain unmoved over friends departed? Reviewed in the United States on March 9, 2015, A must read book that offers many valuable insights, Reviewed in the United States on November 4, 2016. On the Soul and the Resurrection: St Gregory of Nyssa by of Nyssa, Saint Gregory. Please try again. But if the same man is to return into himself, he must be the same entirely, and regain his original formation in every single atom of his elements. Since it is not in its nature that evil should exist outside the will, does it not follow that when it shall be that every will rests in God, evil will be reduced to complete annihilation, owing to no receptacle being left for it? Again, of these sentient things, some have reason, the rest have not. However, is this the only way to read the work? In that passage in the Epistle to the Philippians Philippians 2:10 he makes mention of certain things that are under the earth every knee shall bow to Him of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth. Why, our career cannot be run there-ward, except that which weighs us down, I mean this encumbering load of earthiness, be shaken off the soul; nor can we be domiciled in Purity with the corresponding part of our nature, unless we have cleansed ourselves by a better training from the habit of affection which we have contracted in life towards this earthiness. The mind, in times of bereavement, craves a certainty gained by reasoning as to the existence of the soul after death. But what, I asked, if your opponent should shield himself behind the Apostle, where he says that every reasoning creature, in the restitution of all things, is to look towards Him Who presides over the whole? Great Book!!! Where, then, will the soul be after that? Some indeed make human nature vile in their comprehensiveness, maintaining that a soul becomes alternately that of a man and of something irrational; that it transmigrates into various bodies, changing at pleasure from the man into fowl, fish, or beast, and then returning to human kind. In that passage, as it seems to me, he gags the mouths of men who display their ignorance of the fitting proportions in Nature, and who measure the Divine power by their own strength, and think that only so much is possible to God as the human understanding can take in, but that what is beyond it surpasses also the Divine ability. But how, I insisted, after the united whole of the atoms has assumed , owing to their mixing together, a form quite different — the form in fact with which the soul has been actually domesticated — by what mark, when this form, as we should have expected, is effaced along with the resolution of the atoms, shall the soul follow along (them), now that that familiar form ceases to persist? Prime members enjoy FREE Delivery and exclusive access to music, movies, TV shows, original audio series, and Kindle books. Meanwhile the denial of these blessings which they witness becomes in the others a flame, which burns the soul and causes the craving for the refreshment of one drop out of that ocean of blessings wherein the saints are affluent; which nevertheless they do not get. From what has been already said, then, we must reject this theory: and there are many other considerations as well which on the grounds of mere consistency lead us away from it. Whence do seeds get the bodies that spring up from them? About On the Soul and the Resurrection After St. Basil’s death in early 379, St. Gregory of Nyssa visited his sister, St. Macrina, at the convent on the Iris where she was the abbess. Seeing, then, that one or the other of these two diametrically opposed ideas, I mean good and evil, must any way attach to us, it is clear that to say a man is not included in the good is a necessary demonstration that he is included in the evil. You do not know that all things have to be assimilated to the Divine Nature in accordance with the artistic plan of their author, in a certain regularity and order. We have been told, too, that fear is the beginning of wisdom, and learned from Paul that salvation is the goal of the sorrow after a godly sort. Therefore the Husbandman leaves those bastard seeds within us, not for them always to overwhelm the more precious crop, but in order that the land itself (for so, in his allegory, he calls the heart) by its native inherent power, which is that of reasoning, may wither up the one growth and may render the other fruitful and abundant: but if that is not done, then he commissions the fire to mark the distinction in the crops. And yet we must believe, not only that there is a Resurrection, but also that it will not be an absurdity. To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number. The speculative and critical faculty is the property of the soul's godlike part; for it is by these that we grasp the Deity also. The resurrection of the body, perhaps more than any other Christian doctrine, requires us to face the implications of faith for our personal lives and for our understanding of the world.' That those atoms, I rejoined, should unite and again be separated, and that this constitutes the formation and dissolution of the body, no one would deny. Or of those who from an injury have grown up from infancy with their limbs awry! He makes it necessary that, even when one sees one of the creatures that are venom-darting or carnivorous, one should regard it, in spite of appearances, as of the same tribe, nay even of the same family, as oneself. Supposing the man refuses the union, or the woman keeps herself clear of the necessity of becoming a mother, will evil then fail to weigh down that particular soul? To think that in the case of any single one of these things a soul of a man has become a plant or animal , while no marks are stamped upon them to indicate what sort of plant or animal it is that has been a man, and what sort has sprung from other beginnings — such a conception as this will dispose him who has entertained it to feel an equal amount of interest in everything: he must perforce either harden himself against actual human beings who are in the land of the living, or, if his nature inclines him to love his kindred, he will feel alike towards every kind of life, whether he meet it in reptiles or in wild beasts. When explaining this mystery to the Corinthians, who, perhaps, themselves were bringing forward the same objections to it as its impugners today bring forward to overthrow our faith, he proceeds on his own authority to chide the audacity of their ignorance, and speaks thus: You will say, then, to me, How are the dead raised up, and with what body do they come? But, if a thing can be found nowhere, plainly it has no existence. For the Gospel in its teaching distinguishes between a debtor of ten thousand talents and a debtor of five hundred pence, and of fifty pence and of a farthing , which is the uttermost of coins; it proclaims that God's just judgment reaches to all, and enhances the payment necessary as the weight of the debt increases, and on the other hand does not overlook the very smallest debts. St. Vladimir's Seminary Press. What, indeed, has virtue to stand upon in the case of those persons who conceive of this present life as the limit of their existence, and hope for nothing beyond? Please help support the mission of New Advent and get the full contents of this website as an instant download. Indeed, it was for this that intelligent beings came into existence; namely, that the riches of the Divine blessings should not lie idle. For what spectacle is more piteous than when in extreme old age our bodies shrivel up and change into something repulsive and hideous, with the flesh all wasted in the length of years, the skin dried up about the bones till it is all in wrinkles, the muscles in a spasmodic state from being no longer enriched with their natural moisture, and the whole body consequently shrunk, the hands on either side powerless to perform their natural work, shaken with an involuntary trembling? They indicate the very same thing that we have embodied in our own definition of it, wherein we said that the Resurrection is no other thing than the re-constitution of our nature in its original form. But the enemy, having watched for the time when men slept, sowed that which was useless in that which was good for food, setting the tares in the very middle of the wheat. Thank You For sending This In To Me!!! For that which is made in the image of the Deity necessarily possesses a likeness to its prototype in every respect; it resembles it in being intellectual, immaterial, unconnected with any notion of weight , and in eluding any measurement of its dimensions ; yet as regards its own peculiar nature it is something different from that other. But even to this last view they are not faithful throughout; for they bring home the soul from its material life to that very place whence they had exiled it because of evil there, as though the life in that place was quite safe and uncontaminated; apparently quite forgetting the fact that the soul was weighted with evil there, before it plunged down into this lower world. Now as long as these vessels are unbroken they are of course recognizable by their owners, and none the less so, even should they be broken in pieces; for from those pieces each will know, for instance, that this belongs to a jar , and, again, what sort of fragment belongs to a cup. Accordingly a life that is free from evil is under no necessity whatever of being passed amidst the things that result from evil. in making our own life in some degree a copy of the Supreme Being. Translated by W. Moore and H. A. Wilson. At least, if the dissolution of a compacted whole is a death; for indeed it cannot be supposed that the seed would spring up into a shoot unless it had been dissolved in the soil, and so become spongy and porous to such an extent as to mingle its own qualities with the adjacent moisture of the soil, and thus become transformed into a root and shoot; not stopping even there, but changing again into the stalk with its intervening knee-joints that gird it up like so many clasps, to enable it to carry with figure erect the ear with its load of grain. Gregory of Nyssa: The Life of Moses (Classics of Western Spirituality), Catechetical Discourse - A Handbook for Catechists by St. gregory of Nyssa (Popular Patristics), On the Incarnation: Saint Athanasius (Popular Patristics), Finding Vigano: The Man Behind the Testimony that Shook the Church and the World. For truly herein consists the real assimilation to the Divine; viz. If there is no birth, it follows necessarily that there will be nothing to die. Away, she cried, with that pagan nonsense! They dawn first in the fœtus, in the shape of the power of nutrition and of development: after that, they introduce into the organism that has come into the light the gift of perception: then, when this is reached, they manifest a certain measure of the reasoning faculty, like the fruit of some matured plant, not growing all of it at once, but in a continuous progress along with the shooting up of that plant. You see, she replied, there is a battle of the reason with them and a struggle to rid the soul of them; and there are men in whom this struggle has ended in success; it was so with Moses, as we know; he was superior both to anger and to desire; the history testifying of him in both respects, that he was meek beyond all men (and by meekness it indicates the absence of all anger and a mind quite devoid of resentment), and that he desired none of those things about which we see the desiring faculty in the generality so active. In fact, you cannot imagine any constitution of the body independent of a concourse of these atoms. CHURCH FATHERS: On the Soul and the Resurrection (St. Gregory of Nyssa) On the Soul and the Resurrection Please help support the mission of New Advent and get the full contents of this website as an instant download. To him the visible was the limit of existence; he made our senses the only means of our apprehension of things; he completely closed the eyes of his soul, and was incapable of seeing anything in the intelligible and immaterial world, just as a man, who is imprisoned in a cabin whose walls and roof obstruct the view outside, remains without a glimpse of all the wonders of the sky. There are great intervals between these atoms; they differ from each other, both in position, and also in qualitative distinctions and peculiarities. How, then, will the Resurrection affect myself, when instead of me some one else will come to life? How too is he taught by the agency of the eye other facts of this kind, when he looks to see the posture of the patient and watches the wasting of the flesh? The previous question was — If some souls exist anterior to their bodies, when and how do they come into existence? Following Plato's literary example, St. Gregory wrote a dramatic dialogue regarding the soul and the resurrection in which he plays the role of "pupil," while his elder … Let me say something else also from among the objections made by unbelievers to this doctrine. The All-creating Wisdom fashioned these souls, these receptacles with free wills, as vessels as it were, for this very purpose, that there should be some capacities able to receive His blessings and become continually larger with the inpouring of the stream. Reviewed in the United States on June 16, 2016, Reviewed in the United States on May 22, 2007. But it is so with regard to all those other conditions also which we see to have some relation to the soul, those, I mean, which are mutually opposed to each other, such as cowardice and courage, pleasure and pain, fear and contempt, and so on; each of them seems akin to the principle of desire or to that of anger, while they have a separate definition to mark their own peculiar nature. Why , either we must plan to keep the soul absolutely untouched and free from any stain of evil; or, if our passionate nature makes that quite impossible, then we must plan that our failures in excellence consist only in mild and easily-curable derelictions. If our nature suffered such a mutilation, what will there be to lift us up to grasp the heavenly delights? Becoming by this assimilation to the Good all that the nature of that which it participates is, the soul will consequently, owing to there being no lack of any good in that thing itself which it participates, be itself also in no lack of anything, and so will expel from within the activity and the habit of Desire; for this arises only when the thing missed is not found. But if Moses was at one and the same time in Existence and not in these conditions, then it follows that these conditions are something other than nature and not nature itself. Well, but what sort of milk has Nature got to suckle them again with? The Teacher finished her exposition; and to the many persons sitting by her bedside the whole discussion seemed now to have arrived at a fitting conclusion. With the like truth we may assert that the soul derives its constitution from God, and that, as we cannot conceive of any vice in Him, it is removed from any necessity of being vicious; that nevertheless, though this is the condition in which it came into being, it can be attracted of its own free will in a chosen direction, either wilfully shutting its eyes to the Good, or letting them be damaged by that insidious foe whom we have taken home to live with us, and so passing through life in the darkness of error; or, reversely, preserving undimmed its sight of the Truth and keeping far away from all weaknesses that could darken it.— But then some one will ask, When and how did it come into being? To another line of inquiry altogether Publisher Description at all the sight and... Less forcible objections to the argument has not yet touched the most vital of all excellent achievements and same... Must search the matter in hand by its methods audio SERIES, Vol mind in. 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