The Not-So-Platonist Gregory of Nyssa

What I mean is this. The whole rational creation is divided into the incorporeal and the corporeal natures. The incorporeal species is the angelic creature, and the other one is we men. The spiritual creature, inasmuch as it is separated from the body that weighs down–I mean the earthly body that is solid and heavy–sojourns in the upper region. It dwells in the light and ethereal places and is of a nimble and agile nature. But the other nature has necessarily been allotted to the earthly life because of the kinship of our body, which is, as it were, a sediment of mud, with what is earthly. Now I do not know what was the purpose of the Divine Will in so ordering it. Perhaps it was to bring the whole creation into a relationship with itself, so that neither the lower portion should be without part in the heavenly heights, nor heaven wholly without a share in the things pertaining to earth. Thus the creation of man would effect in each of the elements a participation in the things belonging to the other; for the spiritual nature of the soul, which seems to be decidedly akin to the heavenly powers, dwells in earthly bodies, and in the restoration of all, this earthly flesh will be translated into the heavenly places together with the soul. As the Apostle says, We…shall be taken up…in the clouds to meet the Lord, into the air, and so shall we be always with the Lord. Hence, whether the wisdom of God intend this or anything else besides, every rational nature is assigned to one of these two lives: the one, incorporeal, obtains the heavenly beatitude; whereas the other is turned towards the earth because of the affinity between it and the flesh.

-St. Gregory of Nyssa, The Lord’s Prayer. The Beatitudes, tr. Hilda Graef, Ancient Christian Writers 18 (Westminster, MD: Newman Press, 1954), 60-61.

So, Gregory doesn’t deny the presence of the earthly body in the resurrection. Funny, I though the entire Early Church was corrupted by Platonism and uncritically accepted it’s (i.e., Platonism) denial  of a bodily existence. It’s amazing what one can learn when he/she actually reads primary sources!

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2 thoughts on “The Not-So-Platonist Gregory of Nyssa

  1. “for the spiritual nature of the soul, which seems to be decidedly akin to the heavenly powers, dwells in earthly bodies, and in the restoration of all, this earthly flesh will be translated into the heavenly places together with the soul.” Comes through especially nicely here.

  2. Pingback: The Not-So-Platonists Neoplatonists « A Word About Words

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