Gregory_of_NyssaIn the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God (John 1:1-2).

The sublime John…, that voice of thunder which proclaims the mystery of the Theology, both names Him Son of God and purges his proclamation from every idea of passion.

For behold how in the very beginning of his Gospel he prepares our ears, how great forethought is shown by the teacher that none of his hearers should fall into low ideas on the subject, slipping by ignorance into any incongruous conceptions.

For in order to lead the untrained hearing as far away as possible from passion, he does not speak in his opening words of “Son,” or “Father,” or “generation,” that no one should either, on hearing first of all of a “Father,” be hurried on to the obvious signification of the word, or, on learning the proclamation of a “Son,” should understand that name in the ordinary sense, or stumble, as at a “stone of stumbling,” at the word “generation”;

but instead of “the Father,” he speaks of “the Beginning”: instead of “was begotten,” he says “was”: and instead of “the Son,” he says “the Word”: and declares “In the Beginning was the Word.”

What passion, pray, is to be found in these words, “beginning,” and “was,” and “Word”? Is “the beginning” passion? Does “was” imply passion? Does “the Word” exist by means of passion?

Or are we to say, that as passion is not to be found in the terms used, so neither is affinity expressed by the proclamation? Yet how could the Word’s community of essence, and real relationship, and coeternity with the Beginning, be more strongly shown by other words than by these?

For he does not say, “Of the Beginning was begotten the Word,” that he may not separate the Word from the Beginning by any conception of extension in time, but he proclaims together with the Beginning Him also Who was in the Beginning, making the word “was” common to the Beginning and to the Word, that the Word may not linger after the Beginning, but may, by entering in together with the faith as to the Beginning, by its proclamation forestall our hearing, before this admits the Beginning itself in isolation.

Then he declares, “And the Word was with God.” Once more the Evangelist fears for our untrained state, once more he dreads our childish and untaught condition: he does not yet entrust to our ears the appellation of “Father,” lest any of the more carnally minded, learning of “the Father,” may be led by his understanding to imagine also by consequence a mother.

Neither does he yet name in his proclamation the Son; for he still suspects our customary tendency to the lower nature, and fears lest any, hearing of the Son, should humanize the Godhead by an idea of passion.

Gregory of Nyssa (c 335 – after 394): Against Eunomius, 4,1.

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