Contra Gentes III, 40-45.

Nn. 42-45; PG 25 79-83; 83-87; English: NPNF ser. 2, Vol. 4.
 Greek: TLG 2035 Athanasius. Contra gentes and de incarnatione , ed. R.W Thomson, (Oxford, Clarendon, 1971)


















 Office of Readings, Th.,& Fri., Wk 1,O.T.

42. The holy Word of the Father, then, almighty and all-perfect, uniting with the universe and having everywhere unfolded His own powers, and having illumined all, both things seen and things invisible, holds them together and binds them to Himself, having left nothing void of His own power, but on the contrary giving life to all and sustaining all things everywhere, each individually and all collectively; while He mingles in one the principles of all sensible existence, namely heat and cold and wet and dry, and causes them not to be in conflict, but to make up one concordant harmony.

  42 Αὐτὸς γοῦν ὁ παντοδύναμος καὶ παντέλειος ἅγιος ὁ τοῦ Πατρὸς Λόγος͵ ἐπιβὰς τοῖς πᾶσι καὶ πανταχοῦ τὰς ἑαυτοῦ δυνάμεις ἐφα πλώσας͵ καὶ φωτίσας τά τε φαινόμενα καὶ τὰ ἀόρατα πάντα͵ εἰς ἑαυτὸν συνέχει καὶ συσφίγγει͵ μηδὲν ἔρημον τῆς ἑαυτοῦ δυνάμεως ἀπολελοιπώς͵ ἀλλὰ πάντα καὶ διὰ πάντων͵ καὶ ἕκαστον ἰδίᾳ͵ καὶ ἀθρόως ὁμοῦ τὰ ὅλα ζωοποιῶν καὶ διαφυλάττων· τάς τε ἀρχὰς πάσης αἰσθητῆς οὐσίας͵ αἵπερ εἰσὶ θερμὴ καὶ ψυχρὰ καὶ ὑγρὰ καὶ ξηρὰ εἰς ἓν συγκεραννύων͵ ποιεῖ μὴ ἀντιστατεῖν͵ ἀλλὰ μίαν καὶ σύμφωνον ἀποτελεῖν ἁρμονίαν.

2. By reason of Him and His power, fire does not fight with cold nor wet with dry: instead principles that are mutually opposed combine together, as if friendly and brotherly, and give life to the things we see, and form the principles by which bodies exist. Obeying the One Who is God the Word, things on earth have life and things in the heaven have their order. Through Him all seas and the great ocean move within their proper bounds, while, as we said above, the dry land grows grasses and is clothed with all manner of diverse plants.

δι΄ αὐτὸν καὶ τὴν αὐτοῦ δύναμιν οὔτε τὸ πῦρ τῷ ψυχρῷ μάχεται͵ οὔτε τὸ ὑγρὸν τῷ ξηρῷ· ἀλλ΄ ὡς φίλα καὶ ἀδελφὰ τὰ καθ΄ ἑαυτὰ ὄντα ἐναντία͵ συνελθόντα ὁμοῦ͵ τά τε φαινόμενα ζωογονοῦσι͵ καὶ τοῦ εἶναι τοῖς σώμασιν ἀρχαὶ γίνονται. τούτῳ τῷ Θεῷ Λόγῳ πειθόμενα τὰ μὲν ἐπὶ γῆς ζωογονεῖται͵ τὰ δὲ ἐν οὐρανοῖς συνίσταται. καὶ διὰ τοῦτον θάλαττα μὲν πᾶσα καὶ ὁ μέγας ὠκεανὸς ὅροις ἰδίοις ἔχουσι τὴν ἑαυτῶν κίνησιν· ἡ δὲ ξηρὰ πᾶσα χλοηφορεῖ καὶ κομᾷ παντοίοις καὶ διαφόροις φυτοῖς͵ ὡς προ εῖπον.

And, not to spend time in the enumeration of particulars, where the truth is obvious, there is nothing that is and takes place but has been made and stands by Him and through Him, as also the Theologian (Jn 1:1)  says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God; all things were made by Him, and without Him nothing was made.”

καὶ ἵνα μὴ τὸ καθέκαστον ἐπὶ φανεροῖς ὀνομάζων ἐνδιατρίβω͵ οὐδέν ἐστι τῶν ὄντων καὶ γινομένων ὃ μὴ ἐν αὐτῷ καὶ δι΄ αὐτοῦ γέγονε καὶ ἕστηκεν͵ ᾗ φησι καὶ ὁ θεολόγος ἀνήρ· Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ Λόγος͵ καὶ ὁ Λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν Θεόν͵ καὶ Θεὸς ἦν ὁ Λόγος. πάντα δι΄ αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο͵ καὶ χωρὶς αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο οὐδὲ ἕν.

3. For just as a musician, having tuned a lyre, and by his art adjusted the high notes to the low, and the intermediate notes to the rest, could to produce a single tune as the result, so also the Wisdom of God, handling the Universe as a lyre, and adjusting things in the air to things on the earth, and things in the heaven to things in the air, and combining parts into wholes and moving them all by His beck and will, produces well and fittingly, as the result, the unity of the universe and of its order, Himself remaining unmoved with the Father while He moves all things by His organising action, as seems good for each to His own Father.

Οἷον γὰρ εἴ τις͵ λύραν μουσικὸς ἁρμοσάμενος καὶ τὰ βαρέα τοῖς ὀξέσι͵ καὶ τὰ μέσα τοῖς ἄλλοις τῇ τέχνῃ συναγαγών͵ ἓν τὸ σημαινό μενον μέλος ἀποτελοίη· οὕτω καὶ ἡ τοῦ Θεοῦ σοφία͵ τὸ ὅλον ὡς λύραν ἐπέχων͵ καὶ τὰ ἐν ἀέρι τοῖς ἐπὶ γῆς συναγαγών͵ καὶ τὰ ἐν οὐρανῷ τοῖς ἐν ἀέρι͵ καὶ τὰ ὅλα τοῖς κατὰ μέρος συνάπτων καὶ περιάγων τῷ ἑαυτοῦ νεύματι καὶ θελήματι͵ ἕνα τὸν κόσμον καὶ μίαν τὴν τούτου τάξιν ἀποτελεῖ καλῶς καὶ ἡρμοσμένως͵ αὐτὸς μὲν ἀκίνητος μένων παρὰ τῷ Πατρί͵ πάντα δὲ κινῶν τῇ ἑαυτοῦ συστάσει͵ ὡς ἂν ἕκαστον τῷ ἑαυτοῦ Πατρὶ δοκῇ.

4. For what is surprising in His godhead is this: that by one and the same act of will He moves all things simultaneously, and not intermittantly, but all collectively, both straight and curved, things above and beneath and intermediate, wet, cold, warm, seen and invisible, and orders them according to their several nature. For simultaneously at His single nod what is straight moves as straight, what is curved also, and what is intermediate, follows its own movement; what is warm receives warmth, what is dry dryness, and all things according to their several nature are quickened and organised by Him, and He produces as the result a marvellous and truly divine harmony.

τὸ γὰρ παράδοξον αὐτοῦ τῆς θεότητος τοῦτό ἐστιν͵ ὅτι ἑνὶ καὶ τῷ αὐτῷ νεύματι πάντα ὁμοῦ καὶ οὐκ ἐκ διαστημάτων͵ ἀλλ΄ ἀθρόως ὅλα τά τε ὀρθὰ καὶ τὰ περιφερῆ͵ τὰ ἄνω͵ τὰ μέσα͵ τὰ κάτω͵ τὰ ὑγρά͵ τὰ ψυχρά͵ τὰ θερμά͵ τὰ φαινόμενα καὶ τὰ ἀόρατα περιάγει καὶ διακοσμεῖ κατὰ τὴν ἑκάστου φύσιν. ὁμοῦ γὰρ τῷ αὐτῷ νεύματι αὐτοῦ͵ τὸ μὲν ὀρθὸν ὡς ὀρθόν͵ τὸ δὲ περιφερὲς περιάγεται· τὸ δὲ μέσον͵ ὡς ἔστι͵ κινεῖται· τὸ θερμὸν θερμαίνεται͵ καὶ τὸ ξηρὸν ξηραίνεται· καὶ τὰ ὅλα ὡς ἔχει φύσεως ζωοποιεῖται καὶ συνίσταται παρ΄ αὐτοῦ· καὶ θαυμαστή τις καὶ θεία ἀληθῶς ἁρμονία ἀποτελεῖται δι΄ αὐτοῦ.

§43. And for so great a matter to be understood by an example, let what we are describing be compared to a great chorus. Just as the chorus is composed of different people, children, women again, and old men, and those who are still young, and, when one, namely the conductor, gives the sign, each utters sound according to his nature and power, the man as a man, the child as a child, the old man as an old man, and the young man as a young man, while all make up a single harmony;

43 Καὶ ἵνα ἐκ παραδείγματος τὸ τηλικοῦτον νοηθείη͵ ἔστω τὸ λεγόμενον ὡς ἐν εἰκόνι χοροῦ μεγάλου. ὡς τοίνυν τοῦ χοροῦ συνεστῶ τος ἐκ διαφόρων ἄνδρων͵ παίδων͵ γυναικῶν αὖ καὶ γερόντων͵ καὶ τῶν ἔτι νέων· καὶ ἑνὸς τοῦ καθηγεμόνος σημαίνοντος͵ ἕκαστος μὲν κατὰ τὴν φύσιν ἑαυτοῦ καὶ δύναμιν φωνεῖ͵ ὁ μὲν ἀνὴρ ὡς ἀνήρ͵ ὁ δὲ παῖς ὡς παῖς͵ ὁ δὲ γέρων ὡς γέρων͵ καὶ ὁ νέος ὡς νέος͵ πάντες δὲ μίαν ἀποτελοῦσιν ἁρμονίαν·

2. or as our soul at one time moves our various senses according to the proper function of each, so that when some one object is present all alike are put in motion, and the eye sees, the ear hears, the hand touches, the smell takes in odour, and the palate tastes,—and often the other parts of the body act too, as for instance if the feet walk;

ἢ ὡς ἡ καθ΄ ἡμᾶς ψυχὴ ἐν ταὐτῷ τὰς ἐν ἡμῖν αἰσθήσεις κατὰ τὴν ἑκάστης ἐνέργειαν κινεῖ͵ ὥστε παρόντος πράγματος ἑνὸς τὰς πάσας ὁμοῦ κινεῖσθαι͵ καὶ τὸν μὲν ὀφθαλμὸν ὁρᾷν͵ τὴν δὲ ἀκοὴν ἀκούειν͵ τὴν δὲ χεῖρα ἅπτεσθαι͵ καὶ τὴν ὄσφρησιν ἀντιλαμβάνεσθαι͵ καὶ τὴν γεῦσιν γεύεσθαι· πολλάκις δὲ καὶ τὰ ἄλλα μέλη τοῦ σώματος͵ ὥστε καὶ τοὺς πόδας περιπατεῖν.





3. or, to make our meaning plain by yet a third example, it is as though a very great city were built, and administered under the presence of the ruler and king who has built it; for when he is present anti gives orders, and has his eye upon everything, all obey; some busy themselves with agriculture, others hasten for water to the aqueducts, another goes forth to procure provisions,—one goes to senate, another enters the assembly, the judge goes to the bench, and the magistrate to his court. The workman likewise settles to his craft, the sailor goes down to the sea, the carpenter to his workshop, the physician to his treatment, the architect to his building; and while one is going to the country, another is returning from the country, and while some walk about the town others are going out of the town and returning to it again: but all this is going on and is organised by the presence of the one Ruler, and by his management:

ἢ ἵνα καὶ τρίτῳ παραδείγματι τὸ λεγόμενον σημανθῇ͵ ἔοικεν οἰκοδομηθείσῃ μάλιστα μεγάλῃ πόλει͵ καὶ οἰκονομουμένῃ ἐπὶ παρουσίᾳ τοῦ καὶ ταύτην οἰκοδομήσαντος ἄρχοντος καὶ βασιλέως. ἐκείνου γὰρ παρόν τος καὶ προστάττοντος͵ καὶ πρὸς πάντα τὸν ὀφθαλμὸν τείνοντος͵ ἑπόμενοι πάντες͵ οἱ μὲν ἐπὶ τὴν γεωργίαν͵ οἱ δὲ ἐπὶ τοὺς ὑδραγωγοὺς ὑδρευσόμενοι σπεύδουσιν· ἄλλος δὲ ἐπισιτισόμενος προέρχεται· καὶ ὁ μὲν ἐπὶ τὴν βουλὴν βαδίζει͵ ὁ δὲ ἐπὶ τὴν ἐκκλησίαν εἰσέρχεται· καὶ ὁ μὲν δικαστὴς ἐπὶ τὸ δικάζειν͵ ὁ δὲ ἄρχων ἐπὶ τὸ θεσμοθετεῖν· καθίσταται δὲ εὐθέως ὁ μὲν τεχνίτης ἐπὶ τὴν ἐργασίαν͵ ὁ δὲ ναύτης ἐπὶ τὴν θάλατταν κατέρχεται͵ ὁ τέκτων ἐπὶ τὸ τεκτονεύειν͵ ὁ ἰατρὸς ἐπὶ τὴν θεραπείαν͵ ὁ οἰκοδόμος ἐπὶ τὴν οἰκοδομήν· καὶ ὁ μὲν εἰς τὸν ἀγρὸν βαδίζει͵ ὁ δὲ ἀπὸ τοῦ ἀγροῦ ἀνέρχεται· καὶ οἱ μὲν περὶ τὴν πόλιν ἀναστρέφονται͵ οἱ δὲ ἀπὸ τῆς πόλεως ἐξέρχονται͵ καὶ πάλιν εἰς αὐτὴν ἐπανέρχονται. πάντα δὲ ταῦτα τῇ παρουσίᾳ τοῦ ἑνὸς ἄρχοντος͵ καὶ τῇ τούτου διατάξει γίγνονται͵ καὶ συνίστανται.





4. we must thus conceive of the whole of Creation similarly- however inadequate the example - , yet with an enlarged idea. For with the single impulse of a nod as it were of the Word of God, all things simultaneously fall into order, and each discharge their proper functions, and a single order is made up by them all together.

κατὰ ταῦτα δὴ καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς συμπάσης κτίσεως͵ κἂν μικρὸν ᾖ τὸ παράδειγμα͵ ὅμως μείζονι διανοίᾳ χρὴ νοεῖν· ὑπὸ γὰρ μιᾶς ῥιπῆς νεύματός τινος τοῦ Θεοῦ Λόγου ὁμοῦ τὰ πάντα διακοσμεῖται͵ καὶ τὰ οἰκεῖα παρ΄ ἑκάστου γίνεται͵ καὶ παρὰ πάντων ὁμοῦ μία τάξις ἀποτελεῖται.

§44. For by a nod and by the power of the Divine Word of the Father that governs and presides over all, the heaven revolves, the stars move, the sun shines, the moon goes her circuit, and the air receives the sun’s light and the aether his heat, and the winds blow: the mountains are reared on high, the sea is rough with waves, and the living things in it grow the earth abides fixed, and bears fruit, and man is formed and lives and dies again, and all things whatever have their life and movement; fire burns, water cools, fountains spring forth, rivers flow, seasons and hours come round, rains descend, clouds are filled, hail is formed. snow and ice congeal, birds fly, creeping things go along, water-animals swim, the sea is navigated, the earth is sown and grows crops in due season, plants grow, and some are young, some ripening, others in their growth become old and decay, and while some things are vanishing others are being engendered and are coming to light.

44 Νεύματι γὰρ καὶ ταῖς δυνάμεσι τοῦ ἐπιστατοῦντος καὶ ἡγεμο νεύοντος τῶν πάντων θείου καὶ πατρικοῦ Λόγου͵ οὐρανὸς μὲν περιστρέφεται͵ τὰ δὲ ἄστρα κινεῖται͵ καὶ ὁ μὲν ἥλιος φαίνει͵ ἡ δὲ σελήνη περιπολεῖ͵ καὶ ἀὴρ μὲν ὑπ΄ αὐτοῦ φωτίζεται͵ αἰθὴρ δὲ θερμαίνεται καὶ ἄνεμοι πνέουσι· τὰ ὄρη εἰς ὕψος ἀνατεταμένα ἵστα ται͵ ἡ θάλαττα κυμαίνει͵ καὶ τὰ ἐν αὐτῇ ζῶα τρέφεται͵ ἡ γῆ ἀκίνητος μένουσα καρποφορεῖ͵ καὶ ὁ ἄνθρωπος πλάττεται͵ καὶ ζῇ πάλιν καὶ θνήσκει· καὶ ἁπλῶς πάντα ψυχοῦται καὶ κινεῖται· τὸ πῦρ καίει͵ τὸ ὕδωρ ψύχει͵ πηγαὶ ἀναβλύζουσι͵ ποταμοὶ πλημμυροῦσι͵ καιροὶ καὶ ὧραι παραγίγνονται͵ ὑετοὶ κατέρχονται͵ τὰ νέφη πληροῦται͵ χάλαζα γίνεται͵ χιὼν καὶ κρύσταλλος πήγνυται͵ πετεινὰ ἵπταται͵ ἑρπετὰ πορεύεται͵ ἔνυδρα νήχεται͵ θάλαττα πλέεται͵ γῆ σπείρεται καὶ κατὰ τοὺς ἰδίους καιροὺς χλοηφορεῖ͵ φυτὰ αὔξει͵ καὶ τὰ μὲν νεάζει͵ τὰ δὲ πεπαίνεται͵ τὰ δὲ αὐξάνοντα γηράσκει καὶ φθίνει͵ καὶ τὰ μὲν ἀφανίζεται͵ τὰ δὲ γεννᾶται καὶ φαίνεται.





2. But all these things, and more, which for their number we cannot mention, the worker of wonders and marvels, the Word of God, giving light and life, moves and orders by His own nod, making the universe one. Nor does He leave out of Himself even the invisible powers; for including these also in the universe inasmuch as he is their maker also, He holds them together and gives life to them by His nod and by His providence. And there can be no excuse for disbelieving this.

πάντα δὲ ταῦτα͵ καὶ ἔτι πλείω τούτων͵ ἃ διὰ τὸ πλῆθος οὐκ ἰσχύομεν ἡμεῖς λέγειν͵ ὁ παρα δοξοποιὸς καὶ θαυματοποιὸς τοῦ Θεοῦ Λόγος φωτίζων καὶ ζωο ποιῶν͵ τῷ ἑαυτοῦ νεύματι κινεῖ καὶ διακοσμεῖ͵ ἕνα τὸν κόσμον ἀποτελῶν͵ οὐκ ἔξωθεν ἑαυτοῦ καὶ τὰς ἀοράτους δυνάμεις ἀφείς· καὶ γὰρ καὶ ταύτας͵ οἷα δὴ καὶ αὐτῶν ποιητὴς ὑπάρχων͵ συμπερι λαβὼν ἐν τοῖς ὅλοις͵ συνέχει καὶ ζωοποιεῖ πάλιν τῷ ἑαυτοῦ νεύματι καὶ τῇ ἑαυτοῦ προνοίᾳ· καὶ τούτου οὐκ ἄν τι γένοιτο πρὸς ἀπιστίαν ἐφόδιον.

3. For as by His own providence bodies grow and the rational soul moves, and possesses life and thought, and this requires little proof, for we see what takes place,—so again the same Word of God with one simple nod by His own power moves and holds together both the visible universe and the invisible powers, allotting to each its proper function, so that the divine powers move in a diviner way, while visible things move as they are seen to do. But Himself being over all, both Governor and King and organising power, He does all for the glory and knowledge of His own Father, so that almost by the very works that He brings to pass He teaches us and says, “By the greatness and beauty of the creatures proportionably the maker of them is seen (Wisd. 13:5).”

ὡς γὰρ τῇ αὐτοῦ προνοίᾳ καὶ σώματα μὲν αὔξει͵ ψυχὴ δὲ ἡ λογικὴ κινεῖται καὶ τὸ λογίζεσθαι καὶ τὸ ζῇν ἔχει͵ καὶ τοῦτο οὐ πολ λῆς ἀποδείξεως δεῖται· ὁρῶμεν γὰρ τὰ γινόμενα· οὕτω δὴ πάλιν αὐτὸς ὁ τοῦ Θεοῦ Λόγος ἑνὶ καὶ ἁπλῷ νεύματι͵ τῇ ἑαυτοῦ δυνάμει τόν τε ὁρατὸν κόσμον καὶ τὰς ἀοράτους δυνάμεις κινεῖ καὶ συνέχει͵ ἑκάστῳ τὴν ἰδίαν ἐνέργειαν ἀποδιδούς· ὥστε τὰς μὲν θείας θειοτέρως κινεῖσθαι͵ τὰ δὲ ὁρατὰ ὥσπερ καὶ ὁρᾶται. αὐτὸς δὲ ἐπὶ πάντων͵ ἡγεμών τε καὶ βασιλεὺς καὶ σύστασις γινόμενος τῶν πάντων͵ τὰ πάντα πρὸς δόξαν καὶ γνῶσιν τοῦ ἑαυτοῦ Πατρὸς ἐργάζε ται͵ μονονουχὶ διὰ τῶν γιγνομένων ἔργων αὐτοῦ διδάσκων καὶ λέγων. Ἐκ μεγέθους καὶ καλλονῆς κτισμάτων ἀναλόγως ὁ γενεσιουργὸς θεωρεῖται.





§45. For just as by looking up to the heaven and seeing its order and the light of the stars, it is possible to infer the Word Who ordered these things, so by beholding the Word of God, one must also behold God His Father, proceeding from Whom He is rightly called His Father’s Interpreter and Messenger.

  45 Ὥσπερ γάρ͵ ἀναβλέψαντας εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ ἰδόντας τὸν κόσμον αὐτοῦ καὶ τὸ τῶν ἄστρων φῶς͵ ἔστιν ἐνθυμεῖσθαι τὸν ταῦτα διακοσμοῦντα Λόγον· οὕτω νοοῦντας Λόγον Θεοῦ͵ νοεῖν ἐστιν ἀνάγκη καὶ τὸν τούτου Πατέρα Θεόν͵ ἐξ οὗ προϊὼν εἰκότως τοῦ ἑαυτοῦ Πατρὸς ἑρμηνεὺς καὶ ἄγγελος λέγεται·

2. And this one may see from our own experience; for if when a word proceeds from men (cf. de Sent. Dionys. 23) we infer that the mind is its source, and, by thinking about the word, see with our reason the mind which it reveals, by far greater evidence and incomparably more, seeing the power of the Word, we receive a knowledge also of His good Father, as the Saviour Himself says, “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father (John 14:9) .” But inspired Scripture also teaches all this more plainly and with more authority, so that we in our turn write boldy to you as we do, and you, if you refer to them, will be able to verify what we say.

καὶ τοῦτο ἐκ τῶν καθ΄ ἡμᾶς τις ἂν ἴδοι. εἰ γὰρ δὴ λόγου προϊόντος παρὰ ἀνθρώπων ἐνθυμούμεθα τὴν τούτου πηγὴν εἶναι τὸν νοῦν͵ καὶ τῷ λόγῳ ἐπιβάλ λοντες͵ τὸν νοῦν σημαινόμενον ὁρῶμεν τῷ λογισμῷ· πολλῷ πλέον μείζονι φαντασίᾳ καὶ ἀσυγκρίτῳ ὑπεροχῇ τοῦ Λόγου τὴν δύναμιν ὁρῶντες͵ ἔννοιαν λαμβάνομεν καὶ τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ Πατρὸς αὐτοῦ͵ ὡς αὐτὸς ὁ Σωτήρ φησιν· Ὁ ἐμὲ ἑωρακὼς ἑώρακε τὸν Πατέρα. ταῦτα δὲ καὶ πᾶσα θεόπνευστος γραφὴ φανερώτερον καὶ κατὰ μεῖζον κηρύττει͵ ἀφ΄ ὧν δὴ καὶ ἡμεῖς τεθαρρηκότες ταῦτά σοι γράφομεν͵ καὶ σύ͵ ταύταις ἐντυγχάνων͵ δυνήσῃ τῶν λεγομένων ἔχειν τὴν πίστιν. λόγος γὰρ ἐκ μειζόνων βεβαιούμενος͵ ἀναντίρρητον ἔχει τὴν ἀπόδειξιν.




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