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Full text of "An Exact Exposition Of The Orthodox Faith"

AN EXACT EXPOSITION 
OF THE ORTHODOX FAITH 



BOOK I 



Chapter 1 

Io MAN HATH SEEN GoD at any time: the only- 
begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father, he 
hath declared him.'^ The God-head, then, is inef- 
fable and incomprehensible. For 'no one knoweth the Father, 
but the Son: neither doth any one know the Son, but the 
Father.'^ Furthermore, the Holy Spirit knows the things 
of God, just as the spirit of man knows what is in man.' After 
the first blessed state of nature, no one has ever known God 
unless God Himself revealed it to him — not only no man, 
but not even any of the supramundane powers: the very 
Cherubim and Seraphim, I m.ean. 

Nevertheless, God has not gone so far as to leave us in 




1 John 1.18. 

2 Matt. 11.27. 

3 Cf. 1 Cor. 2.U. 



165 



166 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

complete ignorance, for through nature the knowledge of the 
existence of God has been revealed by Him to all men. The 
very creation of its harmony and ordering proclaims the 
majesty of the divine nature.^ Indeed, He has given us knowl- 
edge of Himself in accordance with our capacity, at first 
through the Law and the Prophets and then afterwards 
through His only-begotten Son, our Lord and God and 
Saviour, Jesus Christ. Accordingly, we accept all those 
things that have been handed down by the Law and the 
Prophets and the Apostles and the Evangelists, and we 
know and revere them, and over and above these things 
we seek nothing else. For, since God is good. He is the 
author of all good and is not subject to malice or to any 
affection. For malice is far removed from the divine nature, 
which is the unaffected and only good. Since, therefore. He 
knows all things and provides for each in accordance with 
his needs. He has revealed to us what it was expedient for 
us to know, whereas that which we were unable to bear He 
has withheld. With these things let us be content and in them 
let us abide and let us not step over the ancient bounds^ or 
pass beyond the divine tradition. 



Chapter 2 

Now, one who would speak or hear about God should 
know beyond any doubt that in what concerns theology 
and the Dispensation^ not all things are inexpressible and 
not all are capable of expression, and neither are all things 
unknowable nor are they all knowable. That which can 
be known is one thing, whereas that which can be said is 

4 Ct. Wisd. 13.5; Rom. 1.20. 

5 C£. Prov. 22.28. 



1 olKOVOHla. or Dispensation, is the tenn commonly used for the 
Incarnation by the Greek Fathers. 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK ONE 167 

another, just as it is one thing to speak and another to know. 
Furthermore, many of those things about God which are not 
clearly perceived cannot be fittingly described, so that we 
are obliged to express in human terms things which transcend 
the human order. Thus, for example, in speaking about God 
we attribute to Him sleep, anger, indifference, hands and 
feet, and the alike. 

Now, we both know and confess that God is without 
beginning and without end, everlasting and eternal, uncreated, 
unchangeable, inalterable, simple, uncompounded, incorpo- 
real, invisible, impalpable, uncircumscribed, unlimited, incom- 
prehensible, uncontained, unfathomable, good, just, the maker 
of all created things, all-powerful, all-ruling, all-seeing, the 
provider, the sovereign, and the judge of all. We furthermore 
know and confess that God is one, that is to say, one sub- 
stance, and that He is both understood to be and is in three 
Persons — I mean the Father and the Son and the Holy 
Ghost — and that the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost 
are one in all things save in the being unbegotten, the being 
begotten, and the procession. We also know and confess 
that for our salvation the Word of God through the bowels 
of His mercy, by the good pleasure of the Father and with 
the co-operation of the All-Holy Spirit, was conceived with- 
out seed and chastely begotten of the holy Virgin and 
Mother of God, Mary, by the Holy Ghost and of her became 
perfect man; and that He is perfect God and at the same 
time perfect man, being of two natures, the divinity and 
the humanity, and in two intellectual natures endowed 
with wiU and operation and Hberty — or, to put it simply, 
perfect in accordance with the definition and principle 
befitting each, the divinity, I mean, and the humanity, but 
with one compound hypostasis. And we know and confess 
that He hungered and thirsted and was weary, and that He 
was crucified, and that for three days He suffered death 
and the tomb, and that He returned into heaven whence 
He had come to us and whence He will come back to us at 



168 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

a later time. To all this holy Scripture and all the company 
of the saints bear witness. 

But what the substance of God is, or how it is in all things, 
or how the only-begotten Son, who was God, emptied Him- 
self out and became man from a virgin's blood, being formed 
by another law that transcended nature, or how He walked 
dry-shod upon the waters, we neither understand nor can 
say.^ And so it is impossible either to say or fully to under- 
stand anything about God beyond what has been divinely 
proclaimed to us, whether told or revealed, by the sacred 
declarations of the Old and New Testaments. 



Chapter 3 

Now, the fact that God exists is not doubted by those 
who accept the sacred Scriptures — both the Old and New 
Testaments, I mean — nor by the majority of the Greeks, for, 
as we have said, the knowledge of God's existence has been 
revealed to us through nature. However, since the wickedness 
of the Evil One has so prevailed over men's nature as even 
to drag some of them down to the most unspeakable and 
extremely wicked abyss of perdition and to make them say 
that there is no God (of whose folly the Prophet David 
said: 'The fool hath said in his heart: There is no God'^), 
then the Lord's disciples and Apostles, made wise by the 
AU-Holy Spirit, did by His power and grace show signs from 
God and draw up those people alive in the net of their 
miracles from the depths of the ignorance of God to the 
light of his knowledge. Similarly, the shepherds and teachers 
who succeeded to their grace of the Spirit and by the power 
of their miracles and the word of their grace enlightened 
those who were in darkness and converted those who were 



2 Cf. Pseudo-Dionysius. The Divine Names 2.9 (PG 3.648A) . 
1 Ps. 13.1. 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK ONE 169 

in error. Now, let us who have not received the gifts of 
miracles and teaching, because by our being given to material 
pleasures we have made ourselves unworthy, let us invoke 
the aid of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, 
and discuss some few of the things which the expounders 
of grace have handed down to us. 

All things are either created or uncreated. Now, if they 
are created, then they are also definitely changeable, for 
things whose being originated with a change are definitely 
subject to change, whether it be by corruption or by voluntary 
alteration. If, on the other hand, they are uncreated, then 
it logically follows that they are definitely unchangeable. 
For, of those things whose being is contrary, the manner 
of being, which is to say, properties, is also contrary. Who, 
then, will not agree that all beings that fall within our 
experience, including even the angels, are subject to change 
and alteration and to being moved in various ways? The 
intellectual beings — ^by which I mean angels and souls and 
demons — change by free choice, progressing in good or 
receding, exerting themselves or slackening; whereas the 
rest change by generation or corruption, increase or decrease, 
change in quality or change in position. Consequently, things 
which are changeable must definitely be created. Created 
beings have certainly been created by something. But the 
creator must be uncreated, for, if he has been created, then 
he has certainly been created by some one else — and so on 
until we arrive at something which has not been created. 
Therefore, the creator is an uncreated and entirely unchange- 
able being. And what else would that be but God? 

What is more, the very harmony of creation, its preserva- 
tion and governing, teach us that there is a God who has 
put all this together and keeps it together, ever maintaining 
it and providing for it. For how could such contrary natures 
as fire and water, earth and air, combine with one another 
to form one world and remain undissolved, unless there 



170 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

were some all-powerful force to bring them together and 
always keep them that way?^ 

What is it that has ordered the things of heaven and 
those of earth, the things which move through the air and 
those which move in the water — nay, rather, the things 
which preceded them: heaven and earth and the natures 
of fire and water? What is it that combined and arranged 
them? What is it that set them in motion and put them 
on their unceasing and unhindered courses? Or is it that 
they had no architect to set a principle in them all by which 
the whole universe be moved and controlled? But who is the 
architect of these things? Or did not he who made them 
also bring them into being? We shall certainly not attribute 
such power to spontaneity. Even grant that they came into 
being spontaneously; then, whence came their arrangement? 
Let us grant this, also, if you wish. Then, what maintains 
and keeps the principles by which they subsisted in the first 
place? It is most certainly some other thing than mere 
chance. What else is this, if it is not God?^ 



Chapter 4 

Thus, it is clear that God exists, but what He is in essence 
and nature is unknown and beyond all understanding. That 
He is without a body is obvious, for how could a body contain 
that which is limitless, boundless, formless, impalpable, invisi- 
ble, simple, and uncompounded? How could it be immutable, 
if it were circumscribed and subject to change? And how 
could that which is composed of elements and reducible 
to them be not subject to change? Composition is the cause 
of conflict, conflict the cause of separation, and separation 

2 Cf. Athanasius, Against the Pagans 35-36 {PG 25.69C-73A) . 

3 Cf. Gregory Nazianzen, Sermon 28.16 {PG 36.45D-48B) . 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK ONE 171 

the cause of dissolution — but dissolution is altogether foreign 
to God.i 

And again, how can the principle be maintained that 
God permeates and fills all things, as Scripture says: 'Do not 
I fill heaven and earth, saith the Lord'?^ For it is impossible 
for one body to permeate others without dividing and being 
divided, without being blended and contrasted, just as when 
a number of liquids are mixed together and blended.' 

Now, should some people speak of an immaterial body, 
the so-called fifth body of the Greek philosophers, which 
is impossible, then this will be subject to motion just like 
the heavens, which they call a fifth body. But, since every- 
thing that is moved is moved by another, then who is it that 
moves this? And who is it that moves that? And so we go on 
endlessly in this way until such time as we arrive at something 
that is immoveable.* For the first mover is unmoved, and 
it is just this that is the Divinity. Furthermore, how can 
that which is not locally contained be moved? Therefore, 
only the Divinity is unmoved, and by His immovabihty He 
moves all things. Consequently, one can only answer that 
the Divinity is without body. 

AU this, however, is by no means indicative of His essence — 
no more than is the fact of His being unbegotten, without 
beginning, immutable, and incorruptible, or any of those 
other things which are aflfirmed of God or about Him. These 
do not show what He is, but, rather, what He is not.^ One 
who would declare the essence of something must explain 
what it is, but not what it is not. However, as regards what 
God is, it is impossible to say what He is in His essence, so 
it is better to discuss Him by abstraction from all things 

1 Cf. ibid. 7 (PG 36.33) . 

2 Jer. 23.24. 

3 Cf. Gregory Nazianzen, Sermon 28.8 (PG 36.36A) . 

4 Cf. ibid. {PG 36.36AB) . 

5 Cf. ibid. {PG 36.36C-37B) . 



172 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

whatsoever. For He does not belong to the number of beings, 
not because He does not exist, but because He transcends 
all beings and being itself. And, if knowledge respects beings, 
then that which transcends knowledge wiU certainly transcend 
essence, and, conversely, what transcends essence will tran- 
scend knowledge.^ 

The Divinity, then, is limitless and incomprehensible, and 
this His limitlessness and incomprehensibility is all that can 
be understood about Him. All that we state affirmatively 
about God does not show His nature, but only what relates 
to His nature. And, if you should ever speak of good, or 
justice, or wisdom, or something else of the sort, you wiU 
not be describing the nature of God, but only things relating 
to His nature. There are, moreover, things that are stated 
affirmatively of God, but which have the force of extreme 
negation. For example, when we speak of darkness in God 
we do not really mean darkness.' What we mean is that 
He is not light, because He transcends light. In the same way, 
when we speak of light we mean that it is not darkness. 



Chapter 5 

It has been sufficiently demonstrated that God exists and 
that His essence is incomprehensible. Furthermore, those who 
believe in sacred Scripture have no doubt that He is one 
and not several. For the Lord says at the beginning of His 
lawgiving: 'I am the Lord thy God, who brought thee out 
of the land of Egypt. Thou shalt not have strange gods before 
me.'^ And again: 'Hear, O Israel: the Lord thy God is one 
Lord.'^ And through the mouth of the Prophet Isaias: 'I am,' 
He says, 'the first God and I am the last and there is no God 

6 Cf. Pseudo-Dionysius, Mystical Theology 2 {PG 3.10O0AB) . 

7 C£. ibid. 1 (PG 3.1000A) . 

1 Exod. 20.2,3. 

2 Deut. 6.4. 



ORTHODOX TAITH : BOOK ONE 173 

besides me. Before me there was no God and after me there 
shall be none, and beside me there is none." And the Lord 
speaks thus to His Father in the holy Gospels : 'This is eternal 
life: that they may know thee, the only true God.'* With 
those who do not believe in sacred Scripture we shall reason 
as follows. 

The Divinity is perfect and without deficiency in goodness 
or wisdom or power. He is without beginning, without end, 
eternal, uncircumscribed; to put it simply, He is perfect in all 
things. Now, if we say that there are several gods, there 
must be some difference to be found among them. For it there 
is no difference at all among them, then there is one God 
rather than several. But, if there is some difference, then 
where is the perfection? For, if one should come short of per- 
fection in goodness, or power, or wisdom, or time, or place, 
then he would not be God. The identity of God in all things 
shows Him to be one and not several.^ 

And again, if there are several gods, how can one support 
the fact of God's being uncircumscribed? For where there 
is one there cannot be another. 

And, since there is bound to be conflict among several 
governing, how can the world be governed by several gods 
without being broken up and utterly destroyed? Now, should 
any one say that each one rules over a part, then what was 
it that arranged for this and made the distribution among 
them? This last being would more likely be God. God, then, 
is one, perfect, uncirumscribed, the maker of the universe, 
the maintainer of order and governor, preceding and tran- 
scending all perfection. 

Besides all this, it is naturally necessary that the origi- 
nating principle of duality be unity.' 

3 Isa. 43.10. 

4 John 17.3. 

5 Cf. Gregory of Nyssa, Cathetical Discourse, Prologue {PG 45.12AD) . 

6 Cf. Pseudo-Dionysius, Divine Names 13.3 (PG 3.980-981) . 



174 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

Chapter 6 

Now, this one sole God is not without a Word. And, if He 
has a Word, this Word wUl not be non-subsistent (dvuTtooTa- 
tov), nor will it have any beginning or end of being. For 
there never was a time when God the Word was not. God 
always has His Word begotten of Himself — not like our 
speech, which is non-subsistent and dissipated in the air, 
but distinctly subsistent (evuirooTaxov), living and perfect, 
not passing out from Him but always existing within Him.'^ 
For where will He be if He is outside of God? Because our 
nature is mortal and subject to dissolution, for this reason 
our speech is non-subsistent. But, since God is existing always 
and is perfect, His Word must be always existing, living, 
perfect, distinctly subsistent, and having all things that His 
Begetter has. Now, our speech in proceeding from our mind 
is not entirely distinct from it. For, in so far as it comes from, 
the mind, it is something distinct from it; whereas, in so far 
as it reveals the mind itself, it is not entirely distinct from 
it. Actually, it is identical with it in nature while distinct 
from it in its subject. Similarly, the Word of God, in so far 
as He subsists in Himself, is distinct from Him from whom 
He has His subsistence. But, since He exhibits in Himself 
those same things which are dbcerned in God, then in His 
nature He is identical with God. For, just as perfection in all 
things is to be found in the Father, so is it also to be found 
in the Word begotten of Him. 



Chapter 7 

It is further necessary that the Word have a Spirit. Thus, 
even our own speech is not devoid of breath, although in our 
case the breath is not of our substance. It is an inhaling and 
exhaling of the air which is breathed in and out for the 

1 C£. Gregory of Nyssa, op. cit. 2 (FG 45.17BC) . 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK ONE 175 

sustainment of the body. It is this which on the occasion 
of articulation becomes the vocal expression of speech and 
evidences in itself the power of speech.^ Now, in the simple 
and uncompounded divine nature the existence of a Spirit 
of God is piously to be confessed, for the Word of God is no 
more deficient than our own word. It would be impious 
to reckon the Spirit as something foreign to God and later 
introduced from outside, as is the case with us who are 
compounded. On the contrary, it is as when we heard there 
was a Word of God and did not conceive of this as not being 
distinctly subsistent, or as accruing from learning, or as being 
expressed vocally and being diffused in. the air and lost. 
Rather, we conceived of Him as substantially subsisting, 
endowed with will and operation, and all-powerful. In the 
same way, too, having learned that there is a Spirit of God, 
we conceive of Him as associated with the Word and making 
the operation of the Word manifest. We do not conceive of 
Him as an impersonal breath of air, for the majesty of the 
divine nature would be reduced to low estate if its Spirit 
were likened to our own breath. Rather, we conceive of Him 
as a substantial power found in its own individuating per- 
sonality, proceeding from the Father, coming to rest in the 
Word and declaring Him, not separated from God in essence 
or from the Word with whom it is associated, having might, 
not dissipated away into non-existence, but distinctly sub- 
sistent like the Word — ^living, endowed with will, self-moving, 
active, at all times willing good, exercising His power for 
the prosecution of every design in accordance with His will, 
without beginning and without end. For the Word fell short 
of the Father in nothing, and the Spirit did not fall short 
of the Word in anything. 

Thus, on the one hand, the unity in nature exposes the 
polytheistic error of the Greeks; on the other hand, the 
doctrine of the Word and the Spirit demolishes the teaching 
of the Jews. At the same time, the good in both of these 

1 Cf. ibid. 2 (PG 45.17A) . 



176 SAINT JOHN OF DAMAS CU S 

heresies remain : from the Jewish opinion the unity of nature ; 
and from Hellenism the unique distinction according to 
persons.^ 

Should the Jew gainsay the doctrine of the Word and 
the Spirit, then let sacred Scripture refute him and reduce 
him to silence. Thus the divine David says concerning the 
Word : 'For ever, O Lord, thy word standeth firm in heaven.' 
And again: 'He sent his word and healed them.' But 
a spoken word is not sent and neither does it stand firm 
forever. Concerning the Spirit the same David says: 'Thou 
shalt send forth thy spirit, and they shall be created.' And 
again : 'By the word of the Lord the heavens were established 
and all the power of them by the spirit of his mouth.' ^ Job 
likewise says: 'The spirit of God made me: and the breath 
of the Almighty maintaineth me.'* Now a spirit which is sent, 
and acts, and strengthens, and maintains is not breath which 
is dissipated any more than the mouth of God is a bodily 
member. Both in fact are to be understood as appropriately 
referring to God.^ 

Chapter 8 

Therefore, we believe in one God: one principle, without 
beginning, uncreated, unbegotten, indestructible and immor- 
tal, eternal, unlimited, uncircumscribed, unbounded, infinite 
in power, simple, uncompounded, incorporeal, unchanging, 
unaffected, unchangeable, inalterate, invisible, source of good- 
ness and justice, light intellectual and inaccessible; power 
which no measure can give any idea of but which is measured 
only by His own wiU, for He can do all things whatsoever 
He pleases;^ maker of all things both visible and invisible, 

2 Cf. ibid. 3 (PG 45.17D-20A) . 

3 Ps. 118.89; 106.20; 32.6. 

4 Job 33.4. 

5 Cf. Basil, The Holy Ghost 18.46 {PG 32.152B) . 



1 Ps. 134.6. 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK ONE 177 

holding together all things and conserving them, provider 
for all, governing and dominating and ruling over all in 
unending and immortal reign; without contradiction, filling 
all things, contained by nothing, but Himself containing all 
things, being their conserver and first possessor; pervading 
all substances without being defiled, removed far beyond 
all things and every substance as being supersubstantial and 
surpassing all, supereminently divine and good and replete; 
appointing all the principalities and orders, set above every 
principality and order, above essence and life and speech 
and concept; light itself and goodness and being in so far 
as having neither being nor anything else that is from any 
other; the very source of being for all things that are, of life 
to the living, of speech to the articulate, and the cause of all 
good things for all; knowing all things before they begin 
to be; one substance, one godhead, one virtue, one wUl, one 
operation, one principality, one power, one domination, one 
kingdom; known in three perfect Persons and adored with 
one adoration, believed in and worshiped by every rational 
creature, united without confusion and distinct without separa- 
tion, which is beyond understanding. We believe in Father 
and Son and Holy Ghost in whom we have been baptized. 
For it is thus that the Lord enjoined the Apostles : 'Baptizing 
them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the 
Holy Ghost.'' 

We believe in one Father, the principle and cause of aU. 
things, begotten of no one, who alone is uncaused and 
unbegotten, the maker of all things and by nature Father 
of His one and only-begotten Son, our Lord and God and 
Saviour, Jesus Christ, and Emitter^ of the All-Holy Spirit. 
We also believe in one Son of God, the only-begotten, our 
Lord Jesus Christ, who was begotten of the Father before 
aU the ages, light from light, true God from true God, begot- 
ten not made, consubstantial with the Father, by whom aU 

2 Matt. 28.19. 

3 TtpoPoXEuq, Gregory Nazianzen, Sermon 29.2 (PG 36.76B) . 



178 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

things were made; in regard to whom, when we say that 
He is before all ages, we mean that His begetting is outside 
of time and without beginning, for the Son of God was not 
brought from nothing into being; who is the brightness 
of the glory and the figure of the substance of the Father, 
His living power and wisdom, the subsistent Word, the sub- 
stantial and perfect and living image of the invisible God.'' 
Actually, He was always with the Father, being begotten 
of Him eternally and without beginning. For the Father 
never was when the Son was not, but the Father and the Son 
begotten of Him exist together simultaneously, because the 
Father could not be so called without a Son. Now, if He was 
not Father when He did not have the Son, and then later 
became Father without having been Father before, then He 
was changed from not being Father to being Father, which 
is the worst of all blasphemies. For it is impossible to speak 
of God as naturally lacking the power of begetting. And the 
power of begetting is the power to beget of oneself, that is, 
of one's own substance, offspring similar to oneself in nature. 
Accordingly, it is impious to say that time intervened 
in the begetting of the Son and that the Son came into 
existence after the Father.^ For we say that the begetting 
of the Son h of the Father, that is to say, of His nature; 
and if we do not grant that the Son begotten of the Father 
exists together with Him from the beginning, then we are 
introducing a change into the substance of the Father: 
namely, that He once was not Father, but became Father 
later. Now, creation, even if it was made at a later time, was 
not of the substance of God, but was brought from nothing 
into being by His wiU and power and does not involve any 
change in the nature of God. Begetting means producing 
of the substance of the begetter an offspring similar in sub- 
stance to the begetter. Creation, on the other hand — making — 
is the bringing into being, from the outside and not from 

4 Heb. 1.3; 1 Cor. 1.24; Col. 1.15. 

5 C£. Gregory Nazianzen, Sermon 20.7 (PG 35.1073B) . 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK ONE 179 

the substance of the creator, of something created and made 
entirely dissimilar [in substance]. 

Therefore, neither the act of begetting nor that of creation 
has any effect on the one, unaffected, unvarying, unchanging, 
and ever-the-same God. For, being simple and uncompounded 
and, consequently, by nature unaffected and unchanging. 
He is by nature not subject to passion or change, whether 
from begetting or from creating, nor does He stand in need 
of any co-operation. On the contrary, because the begetting 
is an action belonging to His nature and proceeding from 
His substance, it is without beginning and eternal, so that 
the Begetter undergoes no change and so that He is not 
a first God and a later God, but receives no addition. But, 
since with God creation is a work of His will, it is not 
co-eternal with Him — which is because it is not of the nature 
of that which is produced from nothing to be co-etemal with 
that which is without beginning and always existing. Indeed, 
God and man do not make in the same way.*^ Thus, man 
does not bring anything from non-being into being. What 
man makes he makes from already existing material, not 
by just willing but by thinking it out beforehand and getting 
an idea of what he is to make and then working with his 
hands, toiling and troubling and oftentimes failing because 
the object of his endeavor does not turn out as he wished. 
God, on the other hand, has brought aU things from nothing 
into being by a mere act of His will. Hence, God and man 
do not beget in the same way. For, since God is without 
time and without beginning, unaffected, unchanging, incor- 
poreal, unique, and without end,' He begets without time 
and without beginning, unaffectedly, unchangingly, and with- 
out copulation. Neither does His unfathomable begetting 
have beginning or end. It is without beginning, because He 
is immutable; it is unchanging, because He is unaffected 
and incorporeal; it is without copulation, also because He 

6 Cf. ibid. (PG 35.1076CD) . 

7 Cf. CyrU of Alexandria, Thesaurus, Assert. 5 (PG 75.60CD) . 



180 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

is incorporeal and because He is the only one God and with- 
out need of any other; it is unending and unceasing, because 
He is without time and without end and ever the same — for 
that which is without beginning is without end, although 
that which is without end by a gift of grace is by no means 
without beginning, as is the case with the angels. 

Accordingly, the ever-existing God begets without begin- 
ning and without end His own Word as a perfect being, 
lest God, whose nature and existence are outside of time, 
should beget in time. Now, it is obvious that man begets 
in quite another manner, since he is subject to birth and 
death and flux and increase, and since he is clothed with 
a body and has the male and female in his nature — for the 
male has need of the female's help. May He be propitious 
to us who is beyond all things and surpasses all understanding 
and comprehension. 

Therefore, the holy Catholic and apostolic Church teaches 
that the Father exists simultaneously with His only-begotten 
Son, who is begotten of Him without time or change or pas- 
sion and in a manner beyond understanding, as only the 
God of all knows. They exist simultaneously, as does the 
fire with its light — without the fire being first and the light 
afterwards, but both simultaneously. And just as the light 
is ever being begotten of the fire, is always in it, and is in no 
way separated from it, so also is the Son begotten of the 
Father without in any way being separated from Him, but 
always existing in Him. However, the light, which is insepa- 
rably begotten of the fire and always remains in it, does 
not have any individual existence apart from the fire, because 
it is a natural quality of the fire. On the other hand, the 
only-begotten Son of God, who was inseparably and indivisibly 
begotten of the Father and abides in Him always, does have 
His own individual existence apart from that of the Father. 

Now the Word is also called 'Brightness'* because He was 
begotten of the Father without copulation, without passion, 

8 Heb. 1.3. 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK ONE 181 

without time, without change, and without separatioa. He 
is also called 'Son' and 'Figure of the substance of the 
Father'* because He is perfect and distinctly subsistent and 
in all things Hke the Father except in the Father's being 
unbegotten. And He is called 'Only-begotten' because He 
alone was begotten alone of the only Father. For neither 
is there any other begetting like that of the Son of God, nor 
is there any other Son of God. Thus, although the Holy Ghost 
does proceed from the Father, this is not by begetting but 
by procession. This is another manner of existence and is just 
as incomprehensible and unknowable as is the begetting 
of the Son. Hence, the Son has all things whatsoever the 
Father has, except the Father's being unbegotten, which 
does not imply any difference in substance, nor any quality, 
but, rather, a manner of existence.^" Thus, in the same way, 
Adam is unbegotten, because he was formed by God, while 
Seth is begotten, because he is the son of Adam; Eve, too, 
was not begotten, because she was produced from the rib 
of Adam. Yet, they do not differ in nature, because they 
are all human beings ; they only differ in the manner of their 
existence. '^'^ 

Now, one ought to know that dyeviTrov written with 
one V means that which has not been created, or, in other 
words, that which is unoriginated; while dyevvriTov written 
with two v's means that which has not been begotten. There- 
fore, the first meaning implies a difference in essence, for 
it means that one essence is uncreated, or dyEvr^Toc; with" 
one V, while some other is created, or originated. On the 
other hand, the second meaning does not imply any difference 
in essence, because the first individual substance of every 
species of living being is unbegotten but not unoriginated. 
For they were created by the Creator, being brought into 
existence by His Word. But they were certainly not begotten, 

9 Cf. Gregory Nanzianzen, Sermon 30.20 {PG 36.128B-129B) . 

10 Cf. Basil, Against Eunomius 4 {PG 29.680D-681A) . 

11 Cf. ibid. {PG 29.681B) ; Gregory Nazianzen, Sermon 31.11 (PG 36.144D- 
145A) . 



182 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

because there was no other like substance pre-existing from 
which they might have been begotten. 

Thus, the first meaning applies to all three of the super- 
divine Persons of the sacred Godhead, for they are uncreated 
and of the same substance.^' On the other hand, the second 
meaning definitely does not apply to all three, because the 
Father alone is unbegotten in so far as He does not have 
His being from another person. And only the Son is begotten, 
for He is begotten of the substance of the Father without 
beginning and independently of time. And only the Holy 
Ghost proceeds: not begotten, but proceeding from the sub- 
stance of the Father. Such is the teaching of sacred Scripture, 
but as to the manner of the begetting and the procession, 
this is beyond understanding. 

This also should be known, that the terms 'paternity,' 
'sonship,' and 'procession' as applied to the blessed God- 
head did not originate with us, but, on the contrary, were 
handed down to us from Scripture, as the divine Apostle 
says: 'For this cause I bow my knee to the Father, of whom 
all paternity in heaven and earth is named.'^^ 

And if we say that the Father is the principle of the Son 
and greater than the Son, we are not giving to understand 
that He comes before the Son either in time or in nature, 
for 'by him he made the world,' ^'' nor in any other thing 
save causality. That is to say, we mean that the Son is begot- 
ten of the Father, and not the Father of the Son, and that 
the Father is naturally the cause of the Son. Similarly, we 
do not say that the fire comes from the light, but that the 
light comes from the fire. So, when we hear that the Father 
is the principle of the Son and greater than He, let us under- 
stand this as being by reason of His being the cause. And 
just as we do not say that the fire is of one substance and 
the light of another, neither is it proper to say that the 

12 Cf. Cyril of Alexandria, Thesaurus, Assert. 7 (PG 75.24AC) . 

13 Eph. 3.14,15. 

14 Heb. 1.2. 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK ONE 183 

Father is of one substance and the Son of another; on the 
contrary, they are of one and the same substance. What 
is more, just as we say that the fire is made visible by the 
light coming from it, yet do not make the fire's light a sub- 
sidiary organ of the fire but, rather, a natural power; in the 
same way, we say that the Father does aU things whatsoever 
through His only-begotten Son, not as through a subsidiary 
organ, but as through a natural and distinctly subsistent 
force. And just as we say that the fire gives light, and, again, 
that the fire's light gives light, so: 'What things soever 
the Father doth, these the Son also doth in like manner.'^^ 
But the light was not created an individual substance apart 
from the fire, whereas the Son is a perfect individual sub- 
stance inseparable from that of the Father, as we have set 
forth above. For it is impossible to find Ln creation any 
image which exactly portrays the manner of the Holy 
Trinity in Itself. For that which is created is also com- 
pounded, variable, changeable, circumscribed, having shape, 
and corruptible; so, how shall it show with any clarity 
the supersubstantial divine essence which is far removed 
from all such? It is evident that all creation is subject to 
these several conditions and that it is of its own nature 
subject to corruption. 

We likewise believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and 
Giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and abides 
in the Son; who is adored and glorified together with the 
Father and the Son as consubstantial and co-eternal with 
Them; who is the true and authoritative Spirit of God 
and the source of wisdom and life and sanctification ; who 
is God together with the Father and the Son and is so 
proclaimed; who is uncreated, complete, creative, almighty, 
all-working, all-powerful, infinite in power; who dominates 
all creation but is not dominated; who deifies but is not 
deified; who fills but is not filled; who is shared in but 
does not share; who sanctifies but is not sanctified; who, 

15 John 5.19. 



184 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

as receiving the intercessions of all, is the Intercessor; who 
is like the Father and the Son in all things; who proceeds 
from the Father and is communicated through the Son 
and is participated in by all creation; who through Himself 
creates and gives substance to all things and sanctifies and 
preserves them; who is distinctly subsistent and exists in His 
own Person indivisible and inseparable from the Father 
and the Son; who has all things whatsoever the Father 
and the Son have except the being unbegotten and the 
being begotten. For the Father is uncaused and unbegot- 
ten, because He is not from anything, but has His being 
from Himself and does not have from any other anything 
whatsover that He has. Rather, He Himself is the principle 
and cause by which all things naturally exist as they do. 
And the Son is begotten of the Father, while the Holy 
Ghost is Himself also of the Father — although not by beget- 
ting, but by procession. Now, we have learned that there 
is a difTerence between begetting and procession, but what 
the manner of this difference is we have not learned at all. 
However, the begetting of the Son and the procession of the 
Holy Ghost from the Father are simultaneous. 

Accordingly, all things whatsoever the Son has from the 
Father the Spirit also has, including His very being. And 
if the Father does not exist, then neither does the Son 
or the Spirit; and if the Father does not have something, 
then neither has the Son or the Spirit. Furthermore, because 
of the Father, that is, because of the fact that the Father 
is, the Son and the Spirit are; and because of the Father, the 
Son and the Spirit have everything that they have, that 
is to say, because of the fact that the Father has them, 
excepting the being unbegotten, the begetting, and the pro- 
cession. For it is only in these personal properties that the 
three divine Persons differ from one another, being indivis- 
ibly divided by the distinctive note of each individual Person. 

We say that each of the three has perfect distinct sub- 
sistence; not, however, in such a way as to understand 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK ONE 1 85 

one perfect nature compounded of three imperfect natures, 
but one simple essence, eminently and antecedently perfect, 
in three Persons.^* For, anything that is made up of imper- 
fect things is most definitely compounded, and it is impossible 
for there to be a compound of perfect individual substances. 
Hence, we do not say that the species is of the Persons, 
but in the Persons. Those things which do not retain the 
species of the thing made of them we call imperfect. Thus, 
stone, wood, and iron are each perfect in themselves accord- 
ing to their individual natures; but in relation to a house 
built of them they are all imperfect, because no one of them 
by itself is a house. 

And so we speak of perfect individual substances to avoid 
giving any idea of composition in the divine nature. For 
composition is the cause of disintegration. And again, we 
say that the three Persons are in one another, so as not 
to introduce a whole swarm of gods.^^ By the three Persons 
we understand that God is uncompounded and without 
confusion; by the consubstantiality of the Persons and their 
existence in one another and by the indivisibility of the 
identity of will, operation, virtue, power, and, so to speak, 
motion we understand that God is one. For God and His 
Word and His Spirit are really one God. 

[On the Distinction of the Three Persons; and on Actuality 
and Reason and Thought.]'-^ 

One should know that it is one thing actually to observe 
something and another to see it through reason and thought. 
Thus, in all creatures there is an actual distinction to be seen 
between the individual substances. Peter is seen to be actually 
distinct from Paul. But, that which is held in common, 
the connection, and the unity is seen by reason and thought. 

16 Cf. Basil, Against the Sabellians, Avians, and Eumomians 4 {PG 
31.605BC) . 

17 Cf. ibid. (PG 31.605C) : Gregory Nazianzen, Sermon 38.8 (PG 36.320B) . 

18 This is a marginal addition to the manuscript. 



186 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

Thus, in our mind we see that Peter and Paul are of the 
same nature and have one common nature, for each is 
a rational mortal animal and each is a body animated by 
a rational and understanding soul. Hence, this common 
nature is perceived by the reason. Now, individual persons 
do not exist in one another at all, but each one is separate 
and by itself, that is to say, is distinct and considered in itself, 
since it has a great many things to distinguish it from 
the other. For, truly, they are separated in place and they 
differ in time, judgment, strength, form — or shape, habit, 
temperament, dignity, manner of life, and all the other 
distinctive properties^ — but most of all they differ by the 
fact that they do not exist in each other but separately. 
Hence, we speak of two, or three, or several men. 

The aforesaid is true of all creation, but it is quite the 
contrary in the case of the holy, supersubstantial, all-tran- 
scendent, and incomprehensible Trinity. For, here, that which 
is common and one is considered in actuality by reason 
of the co-eternity and identity of substance, operation, and 
will, and by reason of the agreement in judgment and 
the identity of power, virtue, and goodness — I did not say 
similarity, but identity — and by reason of the one surge 
of motion. For there is one essence, one goodness, one virtue, 
one intent, one operation, one power — one and the same, 
not three similar one to another, but one and the same 
motion of the three Persons. And the oneness of each is not 
less with the others than it is with itself, that is to say, the 
Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost are one in all 
things except the being unbegotten, the being begotten, and 
the procession. It is by thought that the distinction is perceived. 
For we know one God and Him in the properties of father- 
hood, and sonship, and procession only. The difference we 
conceive of according to cause and effect and the perfection 
of the Person, that is to say, His manner of existing.^* For 

19 Cf. Gregory of Nyssa, That There Are Not Three Gods (PG 45.- 
133BC) . 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK ONE 187 

with the uncircumscribed Godhead we cannot speak of any 
difference in place, as we do with ourselves, because the 
Persons exist in one another, not so as to be confused, but 
so as to adhere closely together as expressed in the words 
of the Lord when He said: 'I in the Father and the Father 
in me.'-° Neither can we speak of a difference in will, or 
judgment, or operation, or virtue, or any other whatsoever 
of those things which in us give rise to a definite real distinc- 
tion. For that reason, we do not call the Father and the 
Son and the Holy Ghost three Gods, but one God, the 
Holy Trinity, in whom the Son and the Holy Ghost are 
related to one Cause without any composition or blending 
such as is the coalescence of Sabellius. For they are united, 
as we said, so as not to be confused, but to adhere closely 
together, and they have their circumincession one in the 
other without any blending or mingling and without change 
or division in substance such as is the division held by Arius."^ 
Thus, must one put it concisely, the Godhead is undivided 
in things divided, just as in three suns joined together with- 
out any intervening interval there is one blending and 
the union of the light."" So, when we contemplate the God- 
head, and the First Cause, and the Monarchy, and the 
unity and identity, so to speak, of the motion and will of the 
Godhead, and the identity of substance, virtue, operation, 
and dominion, then that which appears to us is One. But, 
when we contemplate the things in which the Godhead 
exists, or, to put it more accurately, those things which 
are the Godhead and which come from the First Cause 
independently of time, with equal glory, and inseparably — 
that is, the Persons of the Son and the Spirit — then we 
adore Three. One Father, the Father without beginning, 
that is to say, uncaused, for He is from no one. One Son, 

20 John 14.11. 

21 Cf. Gregory Nazianzen, Sermon 20.6 (PG 35.1072B) ; Pseudo-Dionysius, 
Divme Names 2.4 (PG 3.641 AB). 

22 Cf. Gregory Nazianzen, Sermon 31.14 {PG 36.149A) . 



188 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

the Son who is not without beginning, that is to say, not 
uncaused, for He is from the Father; but, should you take 
the beginning as being in time, then He is without beginning, 
because He is the maker of the ages and not subject to time. 
One Spirit, the Holy Ghost coming forth from the Father, 
not by filiation but by procession. And, as the Father does 
not cease to be unbegotten because He has begotten, nor 
the Son cease to be begotten because He is begotten of the 
Unbegotten — for how could He? — so neither does the Spirit 
change into the Father or the Son, because He proceeds 
and is God. The property is unchangeable, since how would 
it otherwise remain a property should it ba changed and 
transformed? Thus, if the Son is the Father, then He is not 
properly the Father, because there is only one who is pro- 
perly the Father; and, if the Father is the Son, He is not 
properly the Son, because there is only one who is properly 
the Son, and only one who is properly the Holy Ghost. 

One should know that we do not say that the Father 
is of anyone, but that we do say that He is the Father of the 
Son. We do not say that the Son is a cause or a father, but 
we do say that He is from the Father and is the Son of the 
Father. And we do say that the Holy Ghost is of the Father 
and we call Him the Spirit of the Father. Neither do we say 
that the Spirit is from the Son, but we call Him the Spirit 
of the Son — 'Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ,' 
says the divine Apostle, 'he is none of his.'^^ We also confess 
that He was manifested and communicated to us through 
the Son, for 'He breathed,' it says, 'and he said to his disci- 
ples: Receive ye the Holy Ghost.'^* It is just like the rays 
and brightness coming from the sun, for the sun is the source 
of its rays and brightness and the brightness is communicated 
to us through the rays, and that it is which lights us and 
is enjoyed by us. Neither do we say that the Son is of the 
Spirit, nor, most certainly, from the Spirit. 

23 Rom. 8.9. 

24 John. 20.22. 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK ONE 189 

Chapter 9 

The Divinity is simple and uncompounded. But, that which 
is composed of several different things is compounded. Con- 
sequently, should we say that the increate, unoriginate, 
incorporeal, immortal, eternal, good, creative, and the like 
are essential differences in God, then, since He is composed 
of so many things. He will not be simple but compounded, 
which is impious to the last degree. Therefore, one should 
not suppose that any one of these things which are affirmed 
of God is indicative of what He is in essence. Rather, they 
show either what He is not, or some relation to some one 
of those things that are contrasted with Him, or some- 
thing of those things which are consequential to His nature 
or operation. 

Now, it seems that of aU the names given to God the 
more proper is that of He Who Is^ as when in conversing 
with Moses on the mountain He says: 'Say to the children 
of Israel: He Who Is hath sent me.'-^ For, like some limitless 
and boundless sea of essence. He contains all being in Him- 
self.^ But then, as St. Dionysius says. He is 'The Good,' for 
in God one may not say that the being comes first and then 
the good afterwards.^ 

A second name is Osoc; which derives from 9&&LV, to run, 
because of His running through aU things and having care 
for them. Or it is from at9co, that is, to burn, because God 
is a fire consuming aU evil.* Or it is from His GsaoGai,^ 
or seeing aU things, because nothing escapes Him and He 
watches over aU, and because He saw aU things before they 
came to pass.^ For He conceived of them independently 

1 Exod. 3.14. 

2 Cf. Gregory Nazianzen, Sermon 38.7 (PG 36.3I7B) . 

3 Pseudo-Dionysius, Divine Names 2.1 (FG 3.636-637) . 

4 C£. Gregory Nazianzen, Sermon 30.18 {PG 36.128A) ; Deut. 4.24. 

5 C£. Gregory o£ Nyssa, In Cant. Horn. 5 (PG 44.861B) , and That 
There Are Not Three Gods (PG 45.121D) . 

6 C£. 2 Mach. 9.5; Dan. 13.42. 



190 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

of time and each one comes to pass at the foreordained 
time in accordance with the predetermination and image 
and exemplar contained in His timeless will and design. 

The former name, then, is expressive of His existence and 
His essence, while the latter is expressive of His operation. 
But the names 'Without beginning,' 'Incorruptible,' 'Unorig- 
inate' or 'Uncreated,' 'Incorporeal,' 'Invisible,' and the like 
all show that He had no beginning of being, that He is not 
corruptible, is not created, is not a body, and is not visible. 
The names 'Good,' 'Just,' 'Holy,' and the like are con- 
sequential to His nature and are not indicative of the essence 
itself. Those of 'Lord,' 'King,' and the like are indicative 
of a relation to things that are contrasted with Him. Thus, 
of those that are lorded over He is called Lord, of those 
that are ruled over He is called King, of those that are 
created He is called Creator, and of those that are shep- 
herded He is called Shepherd. 



Chapter 10 

All the aforesaid names are to be taken as applying in 
common, in the same manner, simply, indivisibly, and 
unitedly to the whole Godhead.'- But the names 'Father' 
and 'Son' and 'Spirit,' 'Uncaused' and 'Caused,' 'Unbegot- 
ten' and 'Begotten' and 'Proceeding' are to be taken as 
applying in a different way, because they declare not the 
essence, but the mutual relationship and manner of existence 
[of the Persons]. 

Even when we have perceived these things and have 
been guided by them to the Divine Essence, we still do not 
grasp the essence itself, but only things relating to it. Just 
as, although we may know that the soul is without body, 
without quantity, and without shape, even then we have 
not grasped its essence. And in the same way, if we happen 

1 Cf. Pseudo-Dionysius, Divine Names 2.3 (PG 3.640B) . 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK ONE 191 

to know that the body is white or black, we have not com- 
prehended the essence of the body, but only something related 
to it. True reason teaches us that the Divinity is simple and 
has one simple operation which is good and which effects 
all things, like the rays of the sun which warm aU things 
and exercise their force in each in accordance with the 
natural capacity of each, having received such power of 
operation from God who created them. 

On the other hand, everything that pertains to the divine 
and benevolent incarnation of the Word of God has a distinct 
application. For, in these, neither the being Father nor the 
being Spirit is in any way communicated save by good 
pleasure and the ineflfable wondrous operation which God 
the Word worked, when, while being God unchangeable 
and the Son of God, He became a man like us.^ 



Chapter 11 

Since in sacred Scripture we find many things said sym- 
bolically of God as if He had a body, one should know that 
since we are men clothed in this gross flesh, we are unable 
to think or speak of the divine, lofty, and immaterial opera- 
tions of the Godhead unless we have recourse to images, 
types, and symbols that correspond to our own nature.-"^ 
Consequently, everything that is said of God as if He had 
a body is said symbolically and has a loftier meaning. Thus, 
by the eyes and eyelids and sight of God let us understand 
His power of penetrating aU things and His unescapable 
knowledge, by analogy with our own acquisition of more 
complete knowledge and certainty through this particular 
sense. By His ears and hearing let us understand His gracious 
acceptance of our supplications, for by this sense we, too, 

2 Cf. ibid. 2.6 {PG 3.644C) ; Gregory Nazianzen, Sermon 34.10 (PG- 
36.252A) . 



1 Cf. Pseudo-Dionysius, op. cit. 1.8 (PG 3.597AB) . 



192 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

become well disposed toward them that petition us and 
more favorably incline our ear to them. By His mouth and 
speech let us understand the expression of His will, by analogy 
with our own expression of our innermost thoughts by mouth 
and speech. By His food and drink let us understand our 
concurrence with His wHl, for by the sense of taste we, too, 
satisfy the necessary appetite of our nature. By His smelling 
let us understand His acceptance of our good will toward 
Him and our thoughts, by analogy with our own perception 
of fragrance through this sense. By His face let us under- 
stand His being declared and revealed through His works, 
inasmuch as we ourselves are discovered by our faces. By His 
hands let us understand the prosecution of His operation, 
for it is by means of our hands that we successfully perform 
necessary and most worthy works. By His right hand let us 
understand His aid in advantageous things, by analogy with 
our own use of our right hand in the performance of the 
more noble and worthy actions and those which require 
our full strength. By His touching let us understand His 
most accurate discernment and exaction of exceedingly minute 
and hidden things, because those whom we feel all over 
are unable to conceal anything upon their persons. By His 
feet and walking let us understand His coming to the aid 
of the needy, or to work vengeance on enemies, or to do 
some other thing, by analogy with our accomplishing our 
own coming through the use of our feet. By His swearing 
let us understand the immutability of His wHl, because 
it is by oaths that we make conventions with one another. 
By His wrath and indignation let us understand His aversion 
to evil and His hatred of it, for we, too, hate things which 
are against our wishes and we are angry at them.''^ By His 
forgetfulness and His sleep and His drowsiness let us under- 
stand His putting off vengeance on His enemies and His 
delaying aid for His own. Thus, to put it simply, all these 
things which are afRrmed of God as if He had a body con- 

1 Cf. Gregory Nazianzen, Sermon 3152 (PG 36.157B) . 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK ONE 193 

tain some hidden meaning which, through things corre- 
sponding to our nature, teaches us things -which exceed our 
nature — except it be something said respecting the presence 
of the Word of God in the flesh. For, for our salvation He 
took on the whole man, both the intellectual soul and the 
body, and the peculiar properties of human nature as well 
as the natural but not blameworthy passions. 



Chapter 12 

In these things, then, have we been instructed by the 
sacred sayings, as the divine Dionysius the Areopagite has 
said,^ namely, that God is the Cause and Principle of all 
things, the Essence of things that are, the Life or the living, 
the Reason of the rational, the Understanding of them that 
have understanding, the Revival and the raising up of them 
that fall away from Him, the Remaking and Reforming 
of them that are by nature corruptible, the holy Support 
of them that are tossed on an unholy sea, the sure Support 
of them that stand, and the Way and the outstretched 
guiding Hand to them that are drawn to Him. Moreover, 
I shall add that He is the Father of them that have been 
made by Him. For our God, who has brought us from nothing 
into being, is more properly our Father than they who have 
begotten us, but who have received from Him both their 
being and their power to beget. He is the Shepherd of them 
that follow after Him and are led by Him. He is the Illumina- 
tion of the enlightened. He is the Initiation of the initiate. He 
is the Godliness of the godly. He is the Reconciliation of them 
that are at variance. He is the Simplicity of them that are 
become simple. He is the Unity of them that seek unity. As 
Principle of Principles He is the transcendent Principle of 
every principle. He is the good Communication of His hidden 
things, that is, of His knowledge, in so far as is allowable and 
meets with the capacity of each individual. 

I 1 Pseudo-Dionysius, op. cit. 1.1 (FG 358SB) . 



194 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

[More on the Names of God and More PreciselyY 

Since the Divinity is incomprehensible, He must remain 
absolutely nameless. Accordingly, since we do not know His 
essence, let us not look for a name for His essence, for names 
are indicative of what things are. However, although God 
is good and has brought us from nothing into being to share 
His goodness and has given us knowledge, yet, since He did 
not communicate His essence to us, so neither did He com- 
municate the knowledge of His essence. It is impossible for 
a nature to know a nature of a higher order perfectly; but, 
if knowledge is of things that are, then how will that which 
is superessential be known? So, in His ineffable goodness He 
sees fit to be named from things which are on the level of 
our nature, that we may not be entirely bereft of knowledge 
of Him but may have at least some dim understanding. 
Therefore, in so far as He is incomprehensible, He is also 
unnameable. But, since He is the cause of all things and 
possesses beforehand in Himself the reasons and causes of all, 
so He can be named after aU things — even after things which 
are opposites, such as light and darkness, water and fire — so 
that we may know that He is not these things in essence, but 
is superessential and unnameable. Thus, since He is the cause 
of all beings, He is named after all things that are caused. 

Wherefore, some of the divine names are said by negation 
and show His superessentiaUty, as when He is called 'Insub- 
stantial,' 'Timeless,' 'Without beginning,' 'Invisible' — not 
because He is inferior to anything or lacking in anything, for 
all things are His and from Him and by Him were made 
and in Him consist,^ but because He is pre-eminently set 
apart from all beings. The names that are given by negation 
are predicated of Him as being the cause of all things. For, 
in so far as He is the cause of aU beings and of every essence, 

2 This additional chapter is found only in some of the later codices, 
but the Byzantines have always considered it to be genuine 

3 Col. 1.17. 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK ONE 195 

He is called 'Being' and 'Essence.' As the cause of all reason 
and wisdom, and as that of the reasoning and the wise, He 
is called 'Wisdom' and 'Wise.' In the same way, He is called 
'Mind' and 'Understanding,' 'Life' and 'Living,' 'Might' 
and 'Mighty,' and so on with all the rest. But especially may 
He be named after those more noble things which approach 
Him more closely. Immaterial things are more noble than 
material, the pure more so than the sordid, the sacred more 
so than the profane, and they approach Him more closely 
because they participate in Him more. Consequently, He may 
be called sun and light much more suitably than darkness, 
day more suitably than night, life more suitably than death, 
and fire, air, and water (since these are life-giving) more 
suitably than earth. And, above all. He may be called good- 
ness rather than evU, which is the same thing as to say being 
rather than non-being, because good is existence and the 
cause of existence. These are all negations and affirmations, 
but the most satisfactory is the combination of both, as, for 
example, the 'superessential Essence,' the 'superdivine God- 
head,' the 'Principle beyond all principles,' and so on. There 
are also some things which are affirmed of God positively, but 
which have the force of extreme negation, as, for example, 
darkness — not because God is darkness, but because He is 
light and more than light. 

And so, God is called 'Mind,' and 'Reason,' and Spirit,' 
and 'Wisdom,' because He is the cause of these, and because 
He is immaterial, and because He is all-working and all- 
powerful.* And these names, both those given by negation 
and those given by affirmation, are applied jointly to the 
whole Godhead. They also apply in the same way, identically, 
and without exception, to each one of the Persons of the 
Holy Trinity. Thus, when I think of one of the Persons, 
I know that He is perfect God, a perfect substance, but 

4 C£. Pseudo-Dionysius, op. cit. 1 (PG 3.865ff.) . 



196 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

when I put them together and combine them, I know one 
perfect God. For the Godhead is not compounded, but is 
one perfect, indivisible, and uncompounded being in three 
perfect beings. However, whenever I think of the negation 
of the Persons to one another, I know that the Father is 
a supersubstantial sun, a well-spring of goodness, an abyss of 
essence, reason, wisdom, power, light, and divinity, a beget- 
ting and emitting well-spring of the good hidden in Himself. 
Thus, He is 'Mind,' 'Abyss of reason,' 'Begetter of the Word,' 
and, through the Word, 'Emitter' of the revealing Spirit. 
And, not to speak at too great length, the Father has no 
reason, wisdom, power, or will other than the Son, who is 
the only power of the Father and the primordial force of the 
creation of all things. As a perfect hypostasis begotten of 
a perfect hypostasis, in a manner which He alone knows, 
is He who is the Son and is so called. Then there is the Holy 
Ghost, a power of the Father revealing the hidden things 
of the Godhead and proceeding from the Father through 
the Son, not by begetting, but in a manner which He alone 
knows. Wherefore the Holy Ghost is also perfecter of the 
creation of all things. Consequently, whatsoever pertains to 
the Father as cause, well-spring, and begetter must be attrib- 
uted to the Father alone. Whatsoever pertains to the Son. 
as caused, begotten son, word, primordial force, -will, and 
wisdom must be attributed to the Son alone. And whatsoever 
pertains to the caused, proceeding, revealing, and perfecting 
power must be attributed to the Holy Ghost. The Father is 
well-spring and cause of Son and Holy Ghost— He is Father 
of the only Son and Emitter of the Holy Ghost. The Son 
is son, word, wisdom, power, image, radiance, and type of 
the Father, and He is from the Father. And the Holy Ghost 
is not a son of the Father, but He is the Spirit of the Father 
as proceeding from the Father. For, without the Spirit, there 
is no impulsion. And He is the Spirit of the Son, not as being 
from Him, but as proceeding through Him from the Father — 
for the Father alone is Cause. 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK ONE 197 

Chapter 13 

Place is physical, being the limits of the thing containing 
within which the thing contained is contained. The air, for 
example, contains and the body is contained, but not aU 
of the containing air is the place of the contained body, but 
only those limits of the containing air which are adjacent 
to the contained body. And this is necessarily so, because the 
thing containing is not in the thing contained. 

However, there is also an intellectual place where the 
intellectual and incorporeal nature is thought of as being 
and where it actually is. There it is present and acts; and 
it is not physically contained, but spiritually, because it has 
no form to permit it to be physically contained. Now, God, 
being immaterial and uncircumscribed, is not in a place. 
For He, who fills all things and is over aU things and Him- 
self encompasses all things, is His own place.'' However, God 
is also said to be in a place; and this place where God is said 
to be is there where His operation is plainly visible. Now, 
He does pervade all things without becoming mixed with 
them, and to all things He communicates His operation in 
accordance with the fitness and receptivity of each — in accord- 
ance with their purity of nature and wUl, I mean to say. For 
the immaterial things are purer than the material and the 
virtuous more pure than such as are partisan to evil. Thus, 
the place where God is said to be is that which experiences 
His operation and grace to a greater extent. For this reason, 
heaven is His Throne,^ because it is in heaven that the angels 
are who do His will and glorify Him unceasingly. For heaven 
is His resting place and the earth his footstool, because on 
the earth He conversed in the flesh with men.^ And the 
sacred flesh of God has been called His foot. The Church, 
too, is called the place of God, because we have set it apart 

1 Cf. Gregory Nazianzen, Sermon 28.8-10 (PG 36.33-40) . 

2 Cf. Isa. 66.1. 

S Ibid.; Baruch 3.S8. 



198 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

for His glorification as a sort of hallowed spot in which we 
also make our intercessions to Him. In the same way, those 
places in which His operation is plainly visible to us, whether 
it is realized in the flesh or out of the flesh, are called places 
of God. 

Moreover, one must know that the Divinity is without 
parts and that He is wholly everywhere in His entirety, not 
being physically distributed part for part, but whoUy in all 
things and wholly over the universe. 

[On the Place of an Angel and of the Soul, and on the 

Uncircumscribedy 

Although the angel is not contained physically in a place 
so as to assume form and shape, he is said to be in a place 
because of his being spiritually present there and acting 
according to his nature, and because of his being nowhere 
else but remaining spiritually circumscribed there where 
he acts. For he cannot act in different places at the same time, 
because only God can act everywhere at the same time. For 
the angel acts in diflFerent places by virtue of a natural swift- 
ness and his ability to pass without delay, that is, swiftly, from 
place to place; but the Divinity being everywhere and beyond 
all at the same time acts in diflFerent places by one simple 
operation. 

The soul is united with the body, the entire soul with 
the entire body and not part for part. And it is not contained 
by the body, but rather contains it, just as heat does iron, 
and, although it is in the body, carries on its own proper 
activities. 

Now, to be circumscribed means to be determined by 
place, time, or comprehension, while to be contained by none 
of these is to be uncircumscribed. So the Divinity alone Is 
uncircumscribed, who is without beginning and without end, 
who embraces all things and is grasped by no comprehension 

4 This is a marginal addition to the manuscript. 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK ONE 199 

at all. For He alone is incomprehensible, undefinable, and 
known by no one; and He alone has a clear vision of Him- 
self. The angel, however, is circumscribed by time, because 
he had a beginning of being; and by place, even though it 
be spiritually, as we have said before; and by comprehension, 
because their natures are to some extent known to each 
other and because they are completely defined by the Creator. 
Bodies also are circumscribed by beginning, end, physical 
place, and comprehension. 

[A Miscellany on God, and the Father, and the Son, and 
the Holy Ghost; and on the Word and the Spirit]^ 

The Divinity, therefore, is absolutely unchangeable and 
inalterable. For, all things which are not in our power He 
predetermined by His foreknowledge, each one in its own 
proper time and place. It is in this sense that it is said: 
'Neither does the Father judge any man: but hath given 
all judgment to the Son.'^ For, of course, the Father has 
judged, and so has the Son of God, and so has the Holy Ghost. 
But, as man, the Son Himself will come down in His body 
and sit upon the throne of glory — for both the coming down 
and the sitting will be of His circumscribed body — and 
He will judge the whole world in equity.''' 

All things are far from God: not in place, but in nature. 
With us, prudence and wisdom and counsel come and go 
like habits, but that is certainly not the case with God. With 
Him, nothing comes into being or ceases to be, and one 
must not speak of accidents, because He is inalterable and 
unchangeable. The good is concomitant to His essence. He 
sees God who always longs for Him, for aU things that are 
are dependent upon Him who is, so that it is impossible for 
anything to be, unless it have its being in Him who is. Indeed, 

5 Ibid. 

6 John 5.22. 

7 Acts 17.31. 



200 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

in so far as He sustains their nature, God is mixed in with all 
things. God the Word, however, was united to His sacred 
body hypostatically and was combined with our nature with- 
out being mingled with it. 

No one sees the Father, except the Son and the Spirit.' 

The Son is the counsel, the wisdom, and the power of the 
Father. For we must not speak of quality in God, lest we 
say that He is composed of substance and quality. 

The Son is from the Father, and whatsoever He has He 
has from Him. For that reason. He can do nothing of Him- 
self.' Thus, He has no operation that it is distinct from the 
Father.^" 

That God, although invisibUe by nature, becomes visible 
through His operations we know from the arrangement of 
the world and from its governing. ■'■'■ 

The Son is image of the Father, and image of the Son is 
the Spirit, through whom the Christ dwelling in man gives 
it to him to be to the image of God. 

The Holy Ghost is God. He is the median of the Unbegot- 
ten and the Begotten and He is joined with the Father 
through the Son. He is called Spirit of God, Spirit of Christ, 
Mind of Christ, Spirit of the Lord, True Lord, Spirit of 
adoption, freedom, and wisdom — for He is the cause of all 
these.'' ^ He fills all things with His essence and sustains all 
things. In His essence He fills the world, but in His power 
the world does not contain Him. 

God is substance eternal, unchangeable, creative of the 
things that are, and to be adored with devout consideration. 

The Father is also God. It is He who is ever-unbegotten, 
because He was never begotten of anyone, but He has begot- 
ten a co-etemal Son. The Son is also God. It is He who is 



8 Cf. John 6.46. 

9 Cf. John 5.30. 

10 Cf. Gregory Nazianzen, Sermon 30.11 (PG 36.U6C) . 

11 Cf. Rom. 1.20. 

12 Cf. Gregory Nazianzen, Sermon 31.29 {PG 36.165BC) . 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK ONE 201 

ever with the Father, having been begotten of Him time- 
lessly, eternally, without change, without passion, and with- 
out cease. The Holy Ghost is also God. He is a sanctifying 
force that is subsistent, that proceeds unceasingly from the 
Father and abides in the Son, and that is of the same sub- 
stance as the Father and the Son. 

The Word is He who is ever present with the Father sub- 
stantially. In another sense, a word is the natural movement 
of the mind, by which the mind moves and thinks and 
reasons, as if it were the light and radiance of the mind. And 
again, a word is that internal thought which is spoken in 
the heart. Still again, there is the spoken word which is 
a messenger of the mind. Now, God the Word is both sub- 
stantial and subsistent, while the other three kinds of word 
are faculties of the soul and are not found to exist in their 
own hypostases. The first of these is a product of the mind, 
ever springing naturally from the mind. The second is called 
internal, and the third called spoken. 

The term 'spirit' is understood in several ways. There is 
the Holy Spirit. And the powers of this Holy Spirit are also 
called spirits. The good angel is likewise a spirit, and so is 
the demon and the soul. There are times when even the 
mind is called spirit. The wiad is also a spirit, and so is the air. 



Chapter 14 

The uncreate, the unoriginate, the immortal, the bound- 
less, the eternal, the immaterial, the good, the creative, the 
just, the enlightening, the unchangeable, the passionless, the 
uncircumscribed, the uncontained, the unlimited, the indefi- 
nable, the iavisible, the iaconceivable, the wanting nothing, 
the having absolute power and authority, the life-giving, the 
almighty, the infinitely powerful, the sanctifying and com- 
municating, the containing and sustaining all things, and 
the providing for all — all these and the like He possesses by 
His nature. They £U-e not received from any other source; 



202 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

on the contrary, it is His nature that communicates all good 
to His own creatures in accordance with the capacity of each. 

The abiding and resting of the PersorLS in one another 
is not in such a manner that they coalesce or become confused, 
but, rather, so that they adhere to one another, for they are 
without interval between them and inseparable and their 
mutual indwelling is without confusion. For the Son is in 
the Father and the Spirit, and the Spirit is in the Father and 
the Son, and the Father is in the Son and the Spirit, and 
there is no merging or blending or confusion. And there is 
one surge and one movement of the three Persons. It is 
impossible for this to be found in any created nature. 

Then there is the fact that the divine irradiation and 
operation is one, simple, and undivided; and that, while it is 
apparently diversely manifested in divisible things, dispensing 
to all of them the components of their proper nature, it 
remains simple. Indivisibly, it is multiplied in divisible things, 
and, gathering them together, it reverts them to its own 
simplicity.^ For, toward Him all things tend, and in Him 
they have their existence, and to aU things He communicates 
their being in accordance with the nature of each. He is the 
being of things that are, the life of the living, the reason 
of the rational, and the intelligence of intelligent beings. He 
surpasses intelligence, reason, life, and essence. 

And then again, there is His pervading of all things with- 
out Himself being contaminated, whereas nothing pervades 
Him. And yet again, there is His knowing of all things by 
a simple act of knowing. And there is His distinctly seeing 
with His divine, aU-seeing, and immaterial eye all things 
at once, both present and past and future, before they come 
to pass.^ And there is His sinlessness, His forgiving of sins 
and saving. And, finally, there is the fact that all that He 
wills He can do, even though He does not will all the things 
that He can do — for He can destroy the world, but He does 
not will to do so. 



1 Cf. Pseudo-Dionysius, Divine Names 2 (PG 3.636ff.) . 

2 Cf. Dan. 13.42. 




BOOK TWO 



Chapter 1 

j E MADE THE AGES who exists before the ages, of whom 
the divine David says: 'From eternity and to eter- 
nity thou art;'^ and the divine Apostle: 'By whom 
also he made the ages.'^ 

Now, one should note that the term age has several mean- 
ings, because it signifies a great many things. Thus, the span 
of life of every man is called an age. Again, a period of one 
thousand years is called an age. Still again, this whole present 
life is called an age, and so is the age without end to come 
after the resurrection.^ And again, that is called an age 
which is neither time nor any division of time measured by 
the course and motion of the sun — that is to say, made up 
of days and nights — ^but which is co-extensive with eternal 
things after the fashion of some sort of temporal period and 
interval. This kind of age is to eternal things exactly what 
time is to temporal things.* 

1 Ps. 89.2. 

2 Heb. 1.2. 

3 Cf. Matt. 12.32. 

4 The aevum of the Scholastics. Cf. Gregory Nazianzen, Sermon 29.3 
(PG 36.77AB) . 

203 



204 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

Now, this world is said to have seven ages, that is to say, 
from the creation of heaven and earth until the general con- 
summation and resurrection of men. For, while there is 
a particular consummation, which is the death of each indi- 
vidual, there is also a general and final consummation which 
will come when the general resurrection of men takes place. 
The eighth age is that which is to come. 

Before the framing of the world, when there was no sun 
to separate day from night, there was no measurable age, 
but only an age co-extensive with eternal things after the 
fashion of some sort of temporal period and interval. In this 
sense, there is one age in respect to which God is said to be 
of the ages, and, indeed, before the ages, for He made the 
very ages — since He alone is God without beginning and 
Himself creator both of the ages and of the things that are. 
When I speak of God, however, it is obvious that I mean the 
Father and His only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, 
and His All-Holy Spirit — our one God. 

We also speak of the ages of ages, inasmuch as the seven 
ages of the present world contain many ages, that is to say, 
generations of men, whereas there is one age containing all 
ages and which is called the age of ages — ^both present and 
future. Furthermore, the expressions 'age-enduring life' and 
'age-enduring chastisement' show the eternity of the age 
to come. For, after the resurrection, time will not be num- 
bered by days and nights at all; rather, there will be one 
day without evening, with the Sun of Justice shining brightly 
upon the just and a deep and endless night reserved for the 
sinners. How, then, will the time of Origen's millenium be 
measured? God, therefore, is the one maker of the ages — He 
who also created all things and who exists before the ages. 



ORTHODOX FATTH : BOOK TWO 205 

Chapter 2 

Now, because the good and transcendentally good God was 
not content to contemplate Himself, but by a superabundance 
of goodness saw fit that there should be some things to benefit 
by and participate in His goodness, He brings all things 
from nothing into being and creates them, both visible and 
invisible, and man, who is made up of both. By thinking He 
creates, and, with the Word fulfilling and the Spirit perfect- 
ing, the object of His thought subsists.^ 



Chapter 3 

He is the maker and creator of the angels. He brought 
them from nothing into being and made them after His 
own image into a bodiless nature, some sort of spirit, as it 
were, and immaterial fire — as the divine David says: 'Who 
maketh his angels spirits: and his ministers a burning fire.'^ 
And He determined their lightness, fierines, heat, extreme 
acuity, their keenness in their desire for God and His service, 
and their being raised up and removed from every material 
consideration. 

So, an angel is an intellectual substance, ever in motion, 
free, incorporeal, ministering to God, with the gift of im- 
mortality in its nature. And the form and the definition of 
this substance only the Creator understands. Now, compared 
with us, the angel is said to be incorporeal and immaterial, 
although in comparison with God, who alone is incomparable, 
everything proves to be gross and material — for only the 
Divinity is truly immaterial and incorporeal. 

So, the angel is of a nature which is rational, inteUigent, 
free, and variable in judgment, that is, subject to voluntary 

1 Cf. Gregory Nazianzen, Sermon 38.9 (J>G 36.520) . 



1 Ps. 103.4. 



206 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

change. It is only the Uncreated which is unchangeable. 
Also, every rational being is free. The angelic nature, then, 
in so far as it is rational and intelligent, is free; while, in so 
far as it is created, it is changeable and has the power to 
persevere and progress in good or to turn to evil. 

Although man, by reason of the infirmity of his body, is 
capable of repentance, the angel, because of his incorporeality, 
is not. 

The angel is immortal, not by nature, but by grace; for, 
naturally, everything that has beginning has an end, too. 
Only God is always existing — rather, transcends always, be- 
cause He who made the times is not subject to time but 
transcends it. 

The angels are secondary spiritual lights, who receive 
their brightness from that first Light which is without begin- 
ning. They have no need of tongue and hearing; rather, 
they communicate their individual thoughts and designs to 
one another without having recourse to the spoken word. 

Now, all the angels were created by the Word and perfected 
by the sanctification of the Holy Ghost, and in accordance 
with their dignity and rank they enjoy brightness and grace.^ 

The angels are circumscribed, because when they are in 
heaven they are not on earth, and when they are sent to 
earth by God they do not remain in heaven. However, they 
are not confined by walls or doors or bars or seals, because 
they are unbounded. I say that they are unbounded, because 
they do not appear exactly as they are to the just and to them 
that God wills them to appear to. On the contrary, they 
appear under such a different form as can be seen by those 
who behold them. Of course, only the Uncreated is by 
nature unbounded, for all creation is bounded by God who 
created it. 

The angels do not receive their sanctification by the Spirit 
as something due their essence. It is by the grace of God 
that they prophesy. They have no need of marriage, precisely 
because they are not mortal. 

2 Cf. Gregory Nazianzen, loc. cit. 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK TWO 207 

Since they are intellects, they are in places intellectually 
and are not corporeally circumscribed. For by nature they 
do not have bodily shape and they are not extended in 
three dimensions; rather, they are present and act in space 
intellectually in whatsoever place they are commanded to 
do so, and they are not able to be present and act in different 
places at the same time. 

Whether the angels are equal in essence or whether they 
differ from one another we do not know. Only God knows, 
who made them and knows all things. They do, however, dif- 
fer from one another in brightness and station, either having 
their station in accordance with their brightness or enjoying 
their brightness in accordance with their station. They 
illuminate one another by the excellence of their rank or 
nature. Moreover, it is evident that the more excellent com- 
municate their brightness and their knowledge to them that 
are inferior.^ 

They are vigorous and prompt in the execution of the 
divine wiU and by a natural quickness they appear im- 
mediately in whatever place the divine pleasure may com- 
mand. They watch over the parts of the earth and are set 
over nations and places in accordance with their disposition 
by the Creator. They direct our affairs and help us. More- 
over, they are ever round about God for the very reason 
that in accordance with the divine will and command they 
are above us.'' 

They are with diflRculty moved towards evil, but they 
can be so moved.^ However, they cannot be moved toward 
evil — not because of their nature, but by grace and their 
diligent pursuit of the only Gk)od. 

They see God to such an extent as is possible for them, 
and this is their food.* 

Although, because they are incorporeal, they are superior 

3 Cf. Pseudo-Dionysius. Celestial Hierarchy 3 (PG 3.164ff.) . 

4 Cf. ibid. 9 (FG 3.257ff.) . 

5 Gregory Nazianzen, op. cit. (PG 36.321A) . 

6 Cf. Tobias 12.19 (Vulgate) . 



208 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

to US and free of all bodily passion, they are certainly not 
passionless, because only the Divinity is passionless. 

They take whatever form the Lord may command, and 
thus they appear to men and reveal the divine mysteries to 
them. 

They live in heaven and have as their one work to sing the 
praises of God and minister to His sacred will. 

As the most holy and sacred Dionysius the Areopagite, 
who is very well versed in theology, says,' all theology, that 
is to say, sacred Scripture, has given the heavenly substances 
as nine in number. The divine initiator divides these into 
three orders of three. He says that the first of these is ever 
round about God and that to it has it been given to be united 
directly and immediately to Him. This is the order of the 
six-winged Seraphim and the many-eyed Cherubim and the 
most holy Thrones. The second order is that of the Domina- 
tions and the Virtues and the Powers. The third is that of 
the Principalities and the Archangels and the Angels. 

Now, some say that the angels were made before all 
creation, as Gregory the Theologian says: 'First He conceived 
the angelic and heavenly powers, and His conception was 
an accomplished work.'^ But there are others who say that 
they were made after the creation of the first heaven. How- 
ever, they all agree that it was before the formation of man. 
For my part, I agree with the Theologian, because it was 
fitting for the spiritual substance to be created first and then 
the sensible and then finally man himself from both. 

Moreover, if there is anyone who says that there is any 
kind of substance whatsoever that the angels can create, he 
is the mouthpiece of his father, the Devil. For, since they 
are creatures, they are not creators. He who made all things, 
provides for aU, and sustains them is God, who alone is un- 
created, who is praised and glorified in the Father and the 
Son and the Holy Ghost. 

7 Pseudo-Dionysius. op. cit. 6.2 (PG 3.200D-2O1A) . 

8 Gregory Nazianzen, op. cit. (PG 36.320C) . 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK TWO 209 

Chapter 4 

One of these angelic powers was chief of the terrestrial 
order and had been entrusted by God with the custody of 
the earth. Although he was not evil by nature, but good, and 
although he had been made for good and had in himself 
not the slightest trace of evil from the Creator, he did not 
keep the brightness and dignity which the Creator had 
bestowed upon him. By his free choice he turned from what 
was according to nature to what was against it. Having 
become stirred up against the God who created him and 
having willed to rebel against Him, he was the first to 
abandon good and become evil. For evil is no more than 
the privation of good, just as darkness is the absence of 
light. And good is spiritual light, while in the same way 
evil is spiritual darkness. Now, light was made by the Creator 
and it was good, for 'God saw all the things which he had 
made, and they were very good,'-' but darkness came by 
free will. And together with him a numberless horde of the 
angels that he had marshaled were torn away, and followed 
after him and fell. Hence, although they were of the same 
nature as the angels, they have become bad by freely turn- 
ing from good to evil.^ 

They have no power or strength against anyone, unless 
this be permitted them by the dispensation of God, as in 
the case of Job and as has been written in the Gospel about 
the swine. ^ If God does give them permission, they have 
strength and change and transform themselves into whatever 
apparent form they may desire. 

Neither the angels of God nor the evil spirits know the 
future. Nevertheless, they foretell it. The angels do so when 
God reveals the future to them and orders them to foretell 
it, for which reason whatever they say happens. On the 

1 Gen. 1.31. 

2 Cf. Questions to Antiochus 7 (JPG 28.604A) . 

3 Cf. Job. 1.12, 2.6; Mark 5.13. 



210 SAINT JOHN OF DAMAS CU S 

Other hand, the evil spirits foretell the future, sometimes by 
seeing the things that are to happen far ahead, and some- 
times by guessing at them. For this reason one must not 
believe them, even though they may often speak the truth 
by the manner of which we have spoken. Moreover, they 
also know the Scriptures. 

And so, all evil and the impure passions have been con- 
ceived by them and they have been permitted to visit attacks 
upon man. But they are unable to force anyone, for it is in 
our power either to accept the visitation or not. Wherefore, 
the unquenchable fire and everlasting torment have been 
prepared for the Devil and his evil spirits and for them who 
foUow him.* 

One should note that the fall is to the angels just what 
death is to men. For, just as there is no repentance for 
men after their death, so is there none for the angels after 
their fall.^ 

Chapter 5 

Our God, who is glorified in trinity and unity, Himself 
'made heaven and earth, and all things that are in them."- 
He brought all things from nothing into being: some, such 
as heaven, earth, air, fire, and water, from no pre-existing 
matter; and others, such as animals, plants and seeds. He 
made from those things which had their existence directly 
from Him. For, by the command of the Creator these last 
were made from earth, water, air, and fire. 



Chapter 6 
The heavens are the outer shell which contains both visible 



4 Cf. Matt. 25.41. 

5 Cf. Nemesius, On the Nature of Man 1 (PG 40.524A) . 

1 Ps. 145.6. 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK TWO 211 

and invisible created things. For, enclosed and contained 
within them are the spiritual powers, which are the angels, 
and all sensible things. Only the Divinity is uncircumscribed, 
filling, containing, and surrounding all things, because He 
transcends all things and it is He who has created all. 

Now, since Scripture speaks of 'heaven,' the 'heaven of 
heaven,' and the 'heavens of heavens,' and says that the 
blessed Paul was caught up to the 'third heaven,'- we say 
that in the creation of the universe we consider as heavens that 
which the pagan philosophers, making the teachings of 
Moses their own, call a starless sphere. And again, God 
called heaven the 'ftrmament,'^ which He ordered to be 
made in the midst of the water and so arranged that it was 
separated from the midst of the water above the firmament 
and from the midst of that which is below the firmament. In- 
structed by sacred Scripture, the divine Basil says* that its 
substance is subtile — hke smoke, as it were. Others say that 
it is watery, because it was made in the midst of the waters. 
And others say that it is made from the four elements. Still 
others say that it is a fifth body and distinct from the four 
elements.^ 

Furthermore, some have surmised that the heavens sur- 
round the universe and have the form of a sphere which 
is everywhere the highest point, while the center of the 
space enclosed by it is the lowest point; and that the airier 
and lighter bodies have been assigned by the Creator to 
the higher positions, while the heavy and unbuoyant have 
been consigned to the lower, which is the center. Now, the 
lightest and the most buoyant of the elements is fire, so 
they say that it comes directly below the heavens. They call 
it ether. Just below the ether comes the air. Earth and water, 
since they are heavier and less buoyant, are said to be hung 
in the midmost position, so that by contrast they are below. 
The water, however, is lighter than the earth — whence its 
greater mobility. Everywhere above this, like a blanket, lies 

2 Ps. 113.16, 148.4; 2 Cor. 12.2. 

3 Gen. 1.8. 

4 a. Isa. 40.22; Basil Homily 1 on the Six Days 8, (PG 29.20C-21A) . 

5 CE. Basil, op. cit. 11 (fG 29.25B) . 



212 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

the encircling air; everywhere around the air is the ether; 
and on the outside encircling them all are the heavens. 

Furthermore, they say that the heavens revolve and that 
they so bind together the things contained within that 
they stay firmly together and do not fall apart. 

They say that the heavens have seven spheres, one above 
the other. ^ They further say that the substance of the heavens 
is very subtile, like smoke, and that in each one of the 
spheres is one of the planets. For they have said that there 
are seven planets: the Sun, the Moon, Jupiter, Mercury, 
Mars, Venus, and Saturn. Venus, they say, is sometimes the 
morning star and sometimes the evening star. They called 
them planets, or wanderers, because their motion is contra- 
riwise to that of the heavens. For, while the heavens and 
the rest of the stars move from east to west, these alone 
have their motion from west to east. This we may know 
from the example of the moon, which moves back a little 
every evening. 

Now, those who held that the heavens were spherical 
say that they are removed from the earth by an equal distance 
above, on the sides, and below. By 'below' and 'on the sides' 
I mean in so far as is apparent to our senses, because it 
logically follows that the heavens occupy the highest position 
at aU points and the earth the lowest. They also say that the 
heavens surround the earth like a sphere and by their very 
rapid movement carry the sun, moon, and stars around 
with them. And they say that, when the sun is over the 
earth, then it is day here, while when it is under the earth, 
it is night; but when the sun goes down under the earth, 
then it is night here and day there. 

Others, however, have imagined the heavens to have the 
form of a hemisphere, because the inspired David says: 
'Who stretchest out the heaven like a pavihon,' which means 
a tent; and the blessed Isaias: 'He that estabhsheth the 



6 Cf. Basil, Homily 3 on the Six Days 3 (PG 29.57B) . 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK TWO 213 

heavens like a vault' ;^ and because the sun, the moon, and 
the stars, when they set, go round the earth from west to 
north and thence return again to the east. However, which- 
ever way it may be, all things have been made and established 
by the command of God and have their foundation in the 
divine will and desire. 'For he spoke, and they were made: 
he commanded and they were created. He hath established 
them for ever, and for ages of ages: he hath made a decree 
and it shall not pass away." 

So there is a heaven of heaven, which is the first heaven 
and is above the firmament. But now, because God also 
called the firmament 'heaven,'' there are two heavens. How- 
ever, it is customary for sacred Scripture to call the air 
heaven, too, because of its being seen above, as it says: 'O 
all ye fowls of the heaven, bless the Lord,'^° meaning the 
air, although the air is not heaven but a medium of passage 
for the fowls. Here we have the three heavens of which 
the divine Apostle spoke .■'^^ Then, if you want to take the 
seven spheres as seven heavens, there will still be nothing 
contrary to the Word of Truth. It is also customary in the 
Hebrew tongue to speak of heaven in the plural as 'heavens.' 
So, when Scripture meant to say 'heaven of heaven,' it said 
'heavens of heavens,' which would mean precisely 'heaven 
of heaven' — that which is over the firmament and the waters 
which are above the heavens, whether over the air and the 
firmament or over the seven spheres of the firmament, or 
over the firmament expressed in the plural as 'heavens' ac- 
cording to the Hebraic usage. 

Now, all things which have a beginning are subject to 
corruption as a logical consequence of their nature, and the 
heavens are no exception. It is by the grace of God that they 

7 Ps. 103.2; Isa. 40.22 (Septuagint) . 

8 Ps. 148.5,6. 

9 Gen. 1.8. 

10 Dan. 3.80. 

11 Cf. 2 Cor. 12.2. 



214 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

are held together and sustained/^ Only the Divinity is by 
nature without beginning and without end. For this reason 
was it said that: 'They shall perish but thou remainest.' 
However, the heavens will not entirely disappear: 'For they 
shall perish, and they shall be changed as a vesture, and 
there will be a new heaven and a new earth.' ^^ 

In size the heavens are much greater than the earth. Never- 
theless, one must not inquire into the substance of the heavens, 
because we can know nothing about it. 

Furthermore, let no one maintain that the heavens or 
the heavenly bodies are animate, for they are inanimate and 
without feeling. So, even though sacred Scripture says: 'Let 
the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad,'^* it is reaUy 
calling upon the angels in heaven and the men on earth 
to rejoice. Of course. Scripture can personify inanimate things 
and talk about them as if they were alive, as for example: 
'The sea saw and fled : Jordan was turned back,' and : 'What 
ailed thee, O thou sea, that thou didst flee? and thou, O 
Jordan, that thou was turned back?' and again: mountains 
and hUls are asked the reason for their skipping.^^ In just 
the same way it is customary for us to say that 'the city was 
gathered together, not intending to mean the houses, but 
the occupants of the houses. Still again, 'the heavens shew 
forth the glory of God'^^ not by speaking in voice audible 
to sensible ears, but by manifesting to us through their own 
greatness the power of the Creator, and when we remark 
their beauty, we give glory to their Maker as the best of 
aU artificers.^'^ 



12 Cf. Basil, Homily 1 on the Six Days 9 (PG 29.24B) 

13 Ps. 10157; Heb. 1.11,12; Apoc. 21.1. 

14 Ps. 95.11. 

15 Ps. 113.3,5,6. 

16 Ps. 18.2. 

17 Cf. Basil, Homily 1 on the Six Days 11 (PG 29.28A) . 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK TWO 215 

Chapter 7 

Fire is one of the four elements. It is light and more buoy- 
ant than the others, and it both bums and gives light. It was 
made by the Creator on the first day, for sacred Scripture 
says: 'And God said: Be light made. And light was made.' 
According to what some say, fire is the same thing as light. 
Others speak of the cosmic fire above the air and they call 
it ether. 'In the beginning,' then, which is to say, on the 
first day, God made the light to adorn and enhance cdl 
visible creation. For, remove the light and everything will 
be in darkness and will be indistinguishable and incapable 
of displaying its inherent comeliness. 'And God caEed the 
light day, and the darkness night.' ^ Darkness, moreover, is 
not a substance, but an accident, because it is the absence 
of light. For light is no part of the substance of the air.^ 
Hence, it was just the absence of light in the air that God 
called darkness; and darkness is not the substance of the 
air but the absence of light — which indicates an accident 
rather than a substance. Furthermore, it was not night that 
was called first, but day, so that day is first and night last. 
Accordingly, the night follows the day, and we have a 
period of a day and a night from the beginning of one day 
to that of the next — for Scripture says: 'And there was 
evening and morning one day.'^ 

And so, during those three days, day was made by the 
alternate diffusion and shutting out of the light at the divine 
command. On the fourth day God made the great luminary, 
the sun that is, to terminate and control the day. Thus it is 
that the day is determined by the sun, for, when the sun 
is above the earth it is day; and the duration of the day 
is that of the sun's course over the earth from east to west. 
He made a lesser luminary, too — that is, the moon — and the 

1 Gen. 1.3,13. 

2 Cf. BasU, Homily 2 on the Six Days 5 (PG 29.40C) . 

3 Gen. 1.5. 



216 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

Stars to determine and control the night and give it light. 
Now, it is night when the sun is below the earth, and the 
duration of the night is that of the sun's course underneath 
the earth from west to east. Thus, the moon and the stars 
have been set to light the night — but this does not mean 
that they are always under the earth during the daytime, 
for even in the daytime there are stars in the heavens over 
the earth. However, when the sun is shining at the same 
time as the stars and the moon, it dims them by its brighter 
radiance and keeps them from showing. 

It was into these luminaries that the Creator put the 
primordial light, not that He was in want of any other 
light, but that that particular light might not remain idle. 
For the luminary is not the light itself, but its container.* 

They hold the seven planets to be of the number of these 
luminaries and they say that their motion is opposite to that 
of the heavens, for which reason they have been called 
planets, or wanderers. For it is said that the heavens move 
from east to west, whereas the planets move from west to 
east. And the heavens bear the seven planets around with 
themselves by their own more rapid motion, as it were. The 
names of the seven planets are as follows: Moon, Mercury, 
Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Furthermore, it is 
said that there is one planet for each of the celestial spheres: 
In the first, that is to say, the highest, Saturn. 
In the second, Jupiter. 
In the third. Mars. 
In the fourth, the Sun. 
In the fifth, Venus. 
In the sixth. Mercury. 
In the seventh and lowest, the Moon. 
They foUow the unceasing course set for them by the 
Creator according as He founded them, as the divine David 
says: 'The moon and the stars which thou hast founded.'* 

4 Cf. Basil. Homily 6 on the Six Days 2-3 (PG 29.120-121) 

5 Ps. 8.4. 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK TWO 217 

By saying 'founded' he meant the stability and immutability 
of the order and succession given them by God. For He 
arranged them 'for signs, and for seasons, and for days and 
years.'^ It is by the Sun that the four solstices are determined. 
The first of these is the spring solstice, for it was at the 
spring solstice that God made all things, which is evident 
from the fact that even down to the present time the budding 
of the flowers takes place then. It is also called an equinoctial 
solstice, because both the day and the night are twelve hours 
long. It is determined by the mean rising of the sun. The 
spring is mild and promotes the growth of the blood, and 
it is warm and wet. It stands midway between winter and 
summer, being warmer and drier than winter and cooler 
and wetter than summer. This season extends from March 
[21] to June 24. Then, as the sun rises farther and farther 
to the north, the summer solstice follows. Summer stands 
midway between spring and autumn. From spring it has 
warmth and from autumn dryness, for it is hot and dry. 
It also promotes the growth of the yeUow bUe. The summer 
solstice has the longest day, fifteen hours long, while its night 
is very short indeed, being nine hours long. Summer extends 
from June 24 to September 25. Then, the sun comes back 
again to its mean rising, summer is succeeded by autumn, 
which has a sort of medium coolness and warmth, dryness 
and wetness. It stands midway between summer and winter 
and has its dryness from summer and its cold from winter, 
for it is by its nature cold and dry. It also promotes the 
growth of the black bile. This solstice is also equinoctial, 
both its day and its night being twelve hours long. Autumn 
extends from September 25 to December 25. Then, as the 
sun's course becomes shorter and lower, that is to say, 
southerly, the winter solstice follows. Winter is cold and wet. 
It stands midway between autumn and spring and has its 
cold from autumn and its wetness from spring. The winter 
solstice has the shortest day, nine hours long, and the longest 

6 Gen. I.I4. 



218 SAINT JOHN OF DAMAS CU S 

night, fifteen hours long. Moreover, -winter promotes the 
growth of the phlegm, and extends from December 25 to 
March 21. Thus, the Creator made wise provision against 
our contracting serious sicknesses from passing from the ex- 
tremes of cold, heat, wetness, or dryness to the opposite 
extremes — for reason tells us that sudden changes are dan- 
gerous. 

In this way, then, the sun produces the seasonal changes 
and, through them, the year. It also causes the days and 
nights: the former by rising and being over the earth, the 
latter by going down underneath the earth. By withdrawing, 
it causes the other luminaries to shine; the moon, that is, 
and the stars. 

Now, they say that there are also twelve signs of the zodiac, 
made up of the stars in the heavens and having a motion 
contrary to that of the sun, the moon, and the five other 
planets, and that the seven pass through these twelve signs. 
Thus, the sun completes one month for each sign of the 
zodiac and in twelve months passes through the twelve signs. 
The following are the names of the twelve signs of the zodiac, 
and their months: 

The sun enters Aries on March 21, Taurus on April 23, 
Gemini on May 24, Cancer on June 24, Leo on July 25, 
Virgo on August 25, Libra on September 25, Scorpio on 
October 25, Sagittarius on November 25, Capricorn on De- 
cember 25, Aquarius on January 25, Pisces on February 24. 

The moon passes through the twelve signs of the zodiac 
every month, because it is lower and travels through them 
more rapidly. For, if you put one orbit within another, the 
inside one will be found to be smaller. Thus, because it is 
lower, the course of the moon is shorter and more quickly 
completed. 

Now, the Greeks say that aU our affairs are governed by 
the rising, setting, and conjunction of these stars and of the 
sun and moon. With such things is astrology concerned. But 
we say that, while they do give indications of rain and 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK TWO 219 

drought, cold and heat, wetness and dryness, winds, and the 
like, they give absolutely no indication of our actions.'' For we 
have been made free by the Creator and we control our own 
actions. But, if everything that we do is governed by the move- 
ment of the stars, then whatever we do we do by necessity.* 
Now, what is done by necessity is neither virtue nor vice, and, 
if we have neither virtue nor vice, we deserve neither reward 
nor punishment. Hence, God will prove to be unjust when 
He gives good things to some and tribulations to others. 
What is more, if all things are driven and moved by 
necessity, then God will not be exercising either control 
over His creatures or providence for them. Reason also will 
be useless to us, for, if we have no control over any of our 
actions, then it is useless for us to make our own resolves. 
But reason has been given to us so that we may dehberate, 
which is why every being that is rational is also free. 

We say that the stars do not cause anything to happen, 
whether it be the production of things that are made, or 
events, or the destruction of things that are destroyed. Rather, 
they are signs of rains and atmospheric change. One might 
possibly say, however, that, although they do not cause wars 
either, they are signs of them; and that the condition of the 
atmosphere, which is determined by the sun, moon and 
stars, in various ways favors various temperaments, habits, 
and dispositions. Nevertheless, habits are something under 
our own control, for, in so far as they are subject to the 
reason, they may be controlled and cultivated by it. 

And there are comets, too, which oftentimes appear as 
portents of the death of kings. They are not of the number 
of the stars which have existed from the beginning, but by 
the divine command they take form at just the right time and 
then are dissolved again. And neither was the star that was 
seen by the Magi at the time of the Lord's gracious and 
saving birth according to the flesh for us one of those that 

7 Cf. Basil, op. cit. 5 (PG 29.128-129). 

8 Cf. Nemesius, On the Nature of Man 35 {PG 40.741) , 



220 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

were made at the beginning. This is also evident from the 
fact that they make their course now from east to west, and 
now from north to south, and that they now disappear and 
now appear. For this is not in accord with the regularity and 
the nature of the stars.^ 

One should note that the moon is lit by the sun. This is 
not because God was unable to give it its own light, but 
rather, that harmony and order might be imposed upon 
creation, with one ruling and another being ruled, and that 
we might be taught to have things in common with others, 
to share with them, and to be subject to them — first of all 
to the Maker and Creator, God and Lord, and then to them 
whom He has appointed to rule. Nor is it for me to inquire 
why this particular one rules; rather, I should thankfully 
and willingly accept aU things that come from God. 

The fact that the sun and moon suffer eclipse utterly 
refutes the folly of those who worship the creature rather 
than the Creator,^" and it shows that they are subject to 
change and variation. Now, anything that is subject to change 
is not God, for by its very nature it is subject to corruption 
and change. 

The sun suffers eclipse when the mass of the moon, 
becoming like a sort of partition wall, casts a shadow and does 
not permit the light to get through to us. The extent of the 
eclipse, then, is proportionate to the amoimt of the mass of 
the moon concealing the sun. Now, even though the mass 
of the moon be smaller, do not be surprised, because, although 
it is maintained by some that the sun is many times larger 
than the earth, and by the holy Fathers that it is equal to 
the earth in size, it oftentimes is hidden by a small cloud, 
or even by a hillock or a wall. 

The eclipse of the moon is brought about by the earth's 
shadow, when the moon is fifteen days old and directly op- 
posite at its highest point, the sun being below the earth 

9 Cf. Basil, On the Nativity of Christ (PG 31.1469-1472) . 
10 Cf. Rom. 1.25. 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK TWO 221 

and the moon above the earth. For the earth casts a shadow 
and the sunUght is unable to light the moon, so that it is 
eclipsed. 

Moreover, one should know that the Creator made the 
moon as full — ^in other words, as it is fifteen days old — for 
it was fitting that it should be created in its most perfect 
state.^^ However, as we said, the sun was created on the 
fourth day. Therefore, the moon was eleven days ahead of 
the sun, for from the fourth to the fifteenth there are eleven 
days. For this reason, the twelve lunar months have eleven 
days less than the twelve solar months every year. For the 
twelve solar months have 365 and a quarter days, whence 
the quarter accumulating through four years makes one full 
day, which is called bissextile — and that year has 366 days. 
On the other hand, the lunar years have 354 days, because 
from the time of its nascency, or renewal, the moon waxes 
until it is fourteen and three quarters days old, and then 
it begins to wane and wanes until it is twenty-nine and a half 
days old and becomes entirely dark. Then, having again made 
contact with the sun, it is reborn, or renewed, thus giving 
a reminder of our own resurrection. Consequently, the moon 
is eleven days behind the sun every year. Therefore, the 
Hebrews have an intercalary month every third year, and 
that year has thirteen months by reason of the accumulation 
of the eleven days. 

Moreover, it is evident that the sun, moon, and stars are 
composite, and by their very nature subject to corruption. 
However, we do not know their nature. Thus, some say that 
when fire is apart from any matter it is invisible, whereas 
others say that when it is quenched it is changed into air. 

The belt of the zodiac moves obliquely and is divided 
into twelve sections which are called signs of the zodiac. 
The sign of the zodiac has three decans, which is thirty 
degrees. The degree has sixty minutes. Therefore, the heavens 

H C£. Severus Gabal., Homily 3 on the Creation of the World 2 (PG 
56.449) . 



222 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

have 360 degrees, the hemisphere over the earth having 180 
and that under the earth 180. 

The house of Mars is Aries and Scorpio; that of Venus 
is Taurus and Libra; that of Mercury is Gemini and Virgo; 
that of the Moon is Cancer; that of the Sun is Leo; that 
of Jupiter is Sagittarius and Pisces; and that of Saturn is 
Capricorn and Aquarius. 

Aries is the ascension of the Sun, Taurus that of the Moon, 
Cancer that of Jupiter, Virgo that of Mars, Libra that of 
Saturn, Capricorn that of Mercury, and Pisces that of Venus. 

The moon is in conjunction when it is in the same degree 
as the sun. It is nascent when it is fifteen degrees distant 
from the sun. It is twice rising when it is sixty degrees distant 
and appears in the form of a crescent. It is twice half full 
when it is ninety degrees distant. It is twice near full and 
nearly fully lighted when it is 150 degrees distant. It is 
full when it is 180 degrees distant. It is twice gibbous when 
it is 120 degrees distant. And when we say that the moon 
is in a phase twice, we mean once when waxing and once 
when waning. It takes the moon two and one half days to 
pass through each sign of the zodiac. 



Chapter 8 

Air is a very subtile element and is both wet and warm. 
It is heavier than fire, but lighter than earth and water. 
It is the cause of breath and voice. It is colorless, that is to 
say it has no color by nature. It is clear and transparent, for 
it is receptive of light. It also serves three of our senses, since 
by it we see, hear, and smell. It can be heated or cooled, 
dried or made wet. AH of its movements are local — ^motion 
upward, downward, inward, outward, to the right, to the 
left, and in a circle. 

It does not have light from itself but gets it from the sun, 
the moon, the stars, and fire. This is what Scripture meant 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK TWO 223 

when it said that 'darkness was upon the face of the deep,"- 
intending to show that the air does not have light from 
itself, but that the substance of light is something else. 

Wind is a movement of the air. Or again, wind is a cur- 
rent of air which takes various names after the various 
places from which it flows.^ 

Air has its place, too. For the place of any body is its 
containing boundary. And what contains bodies, unless it 
be the air? There are, moreover, various places from which 
the movement of the air comes and after which the winds 
take their names. These are twelve altogether. And they say 
that the air is quenched fire, or that it is vapor from hot 
water. At any rate, air is of its own nature warm. It is, 
however, cooled by proximity to water and the earth, so 
that its lower portions are cool, while its upper portions are 
warm.^ 

The wind blows as follows: from the northeast, Caecias, 
which is also called Meses; from the east, Apeliotes; from 
the southeast, Eurus; from the southwest, Lips; from the 
west. Zephyr; from the northwest, Argestes or Olympias, 
which is also called Japyx; then Notus, the south wind, and 
Aparctias, the north wind, blow in directions opposite to 
each other; and midway between Aparctias and Caecias is 
Boreas; midway between Eurus and Notus is Phoenix, 
which is called Euronotus; midway between Notus and Lips 
is Libonotus, which is also called Leuconotus; and midway 
between Arpactias and Argestes is Thrascias, or Gercius, as 
it is called by the local inhabitants. 

(The races that inhabit the extreme confines are: to the 
east, the Bactrians; to the southeast, the Indians; to the 
south-southeast lie the Red Sea and Ethiopia; to the south- 
southwest, the Garamantes, who dwell beyond Syria; to the 
southwest, the Ethiopians and the West Moors; to the west 

1 Gen. 1.2. 

2 Cf. Severus Gabal., Homily 1 on the Creation of the World 5 (PG 
56.436) . 

3 Cf. Nemesius, op. cit. 5 (PG 40.617B-620A) . 



224 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

lie the Pillars of Hercules and the confines of Lybia and 
Europe; to the northwest, Iberia, which is now called Spain; 
to the north-northwest, the Celts and bordering nations; to 
the north, the Scythians, who dwell beyond Thrace; to the 
north-northeast, Pontus, Maeotia, and the Sarmatians; to 
the northeast, the Caspian Sea and the Sacae.)* 



Chapter 9 

Water is also one of the four elements and a most admi- 
rable creation of God. Water is a wet and cold element 
which is heavy and unbouyant and which is fluid. Sacred 
Scripture refers to it when it says: 'And darkness was upon 
the face of the deep. And the spirit of God moved over the 
waters,'^ for the deep is nothing else but a great quantity 
of water. In the beginning, then, water covered the whole 
earth. And first God made the firmament that 'divided the 
waters that were above the firmament, from those that were 
under the firmament,'^ for in the midst of the abyss of waters 
it was made firm by the Lord's command. Thus, God said 
for a firmament also to be made, and it was made. Why 
did God put water over the firmament? Because of the burn- 
ing heat of the sun and the ether. For the ether is spread 
immediately under the firmament, and the sun and moon 
and stars are in the firmament; if water did not lie over it, 
the firmament would be burnt up by the heat.^ 

Then God ordered the waters to be gathered together 
into one place. Now, the fact that Scripture speaks of one 
gathering does not mean that they were gathered together 
into one place, for notice that after this it says: 'And the 

4 This passage is not found in most codices. 



1 Gen. 1.2. 

2 Gen. 1.7. 

3 Cf. Basil. Homily } on the Six Days 7 (PG 29.68ff.) . 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK TWO 225 

gathering together of the waters he called seas.'* Actually, 
the account meant that the waters were segregated by them- 
selves apart from the earth. And so the waters were brought 
together into their gathering places and the dry land ap- 
peared. Thence came the two seas which surround Egypt, 
for Egypt lies between two seas. Various seas are gathered 
together, having mountains, islands, capes, and harbors, and 
bordering upon various bays, beaches and headlands. The 
sandy shore is called a beach, but the rocky and precipitous 
shore that extends directly into deep water is called a head- 
land. Thence, also, in the same way were gathered together 
that sea to the east which is called the Indian, and that to 
the north called the Caspian, and the lakes. 

Then there is the ocean which encircles the entire earth 
like a sort of river and to which it seems to me that Scripture 
referred when it said that 'a river went out of the place of 
pleasure." It has a sweet potable water and supplies the 
seas, but because the water remains stagnant in the seas 
for a long time it becomes brackish. The sun and the water- 
spouts are constantly drawing up the less dense water and 
from this the clouds are formed and the rains come, the 
w^ater becoming sweet by filtration. 

This ocean is divided into four heads, or four rivers. The 
name of the first is Phison; this is the Ganges of India. The 
name of the second is Gehon; this is the Nile which comes 
down from Ethiopia into Egypt. The name of the third is 
Tigris, and of the fourth, Euphrates. There are also a great 
many other very large rivers, of which some empty into the 
sea, whUe others are absorbed into the earth. This is why 
the whole earth is porous and undermined, as if it had some 
sort of veins through which it receives water from the sea 
and sends it up in springs. The quality of the water of the 
springs corresponds with that of the earth, for, although the 
sea water is strained and filtered through the earth and thus 
is made sweet, yet, if the place from which the spring gushes 

4 Gen. 1.9,10. 

5 Gen. 2.10. 



226 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

happens to be bitter or salty, the water will come up like the 
earth. ^ Moreover, the water is oftentimes compressed and 
then bursts forth violently and becomes heated. This is the 
cause of the natural hot springs. 

And so, by the divine command hollow places were made 
in the earth. Thus it was that the waters were brought 
together into their gathering places, and this is the cause 
of the mountains being made. Then God commanded the 
first-made water to bring forth life, because it was His inten- 
tion to renew man by water and by that Holy Spirit which 
was borne over the waters in the beginning, which is what 
the divine Basil said.^ And it brought forth living things 
both small and great — whales, dragons, fish swimming in 
the waters, and winged fowl. Now, it is through the winged 
fowl that the water, earth, and air meet, for they were made 
from the water, they busy themselves upon the earth, and they 
fly in the air.* Water is a most admirable element and has 
many uses, and it cleanses from filth, not only the bodily kind 
but the spiritual as well, provided the grace of the Spirit 
is added to it. 

(The Aegean Sea empties into the Hellespont, which ends 
at Abydus and Sestus. Then comes the Propontis, which ends 
at Chalcedon and Byzantium. There the straits are which 
lead into the Black Sea, beyond which is Lake Maeotis. And 
again, at the confines of Europe and Lybia there is the Iberian 
Sea, which extends from the Pillars of Hercules to the Pyrenees. 
Then comes the Ligurian Sea, which extends as far as the 
limits of Etruria; then the Sardinian Sea extending from 
above Sardinia down toward Libya; and the Tyrrhenian Sea 
beginning at the limits of Liguria and ending at Sicily; then 
the Sea of Libya, then that of Crete, and that of Sicily, 
and the Ionian Sea, and the Adriatic, which flows out of 
the Sea of Sicily and which is called the Gulf of Corinth 

6 Cf. Basil, Homily 4 on the Six Days 6 {PG 29.92C) . 

7 Gen. 1.2; Cf. Basil, Homily 2 on the Six Days 6 (PG 29.44B) . 

8 Cf. Basil, Homily 8 on the Six Days 2 [PG 29.168C-169A) . 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK TWO 227 

or the Alcyonian Sea. That between Sunium and Scyllaeum 
is the Saronic Sea. Then comes the Sea of Myrtos, and the 
Icarian Sea, in which are the Cyclades; then the Carpathian, 
the PamphyHan, and the Egyptian Seas. And beyond the 
Icarian Sea the Aegean extends on. The coastline of Europe 
from the mouth of the Tanais River' to the Pillars of Hercules 
is 69,709 stades long. That of Libya from Tingis^" to the 
Canobic mouth of the Nile is 29,252 stades long. And that 
of Asia from Canobus to the Tanais River is 40,111 stades 
long, including the bays. Altogether the seaboard of our in- 
habited world, including the bays, is 139,072 stades long.^^)^^ 



Chapter 10 

Earth is one of the four elements. It is dry and cold, 
heavy and inert, and it was brought from nothing into 
being by God on the first day. For 'in the beginning,' it 
says, 'God created heaven and earth.'-' What its seat and 
foundation is no man has been able to teU. Some say that 
it was set upon the waters and made fast, because the divine 
David says: 'Who established the earth above the waters.'^ 
Others say upon the air. Still another says: 'He hangeth 
the earth upon nothing.'^ And again the prophet David, 
speaking* as in the person of the Creator, says: 'I have 

9 The Don River. 

10 Tangier. 

11 The figures given by Lequien and reproduced by Migne are ob- 
viously erroneous; they neither add up correctly nor do they cor- 
respond at all with the estimates of the early geographers. The 
figures here given seem to be those originally intended, for they 
both agree with the Greek, allowing for some error in the copying 
of the numerical accents, and with the geographical estimates of 
the geographers (for which, cf. Strabo) . They also add correctly. 

12 This appendix is not found in all manuscripts. 

1 Gen. 1.1. 

2 Ps. 135.6. 

3 Job 26.7. 

4 Ps. 74.4, 23.2. 



228 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

established the pillars thereof,' calling His sustaining power 
pUlars. However, the assertion that 'he hath founded it upon 
the seas' makes it plain that the substance of water wa^ 
poured round the earth on every side. But, whether we 
hold the earth to have been set upon itself, or upon air, or 
upon water, or upon nothing, we must not depart from 
the principles of religion and we must confess that all things 
are sustained and held together by the power of the Creator. 

In the beginning, then, as sacred Scripture says,^ the earth 
was covered by the waters and was empty, that is to say, 
unadorned. But at God's command the receptacles for the 
waters were made. Then the mountains came into being 
and by the divine command the earth assumed its natural 
beauty and was adorned with every sort of verdure and 
plant. In these last the divine command implanted the power 
to grow, to absorb nourishment, and to seed, that is, to re- 
produce their kind. Then at the Creator's command there 
came forth every sort of animal: creeping things, and wUd 
beasts, and cattle. Everything was for the suitable use of 
man. Of the animals, some were for food, such as deer, sheep, 
gazelles, and the like; some for work, such as camels, oxen, 
horses, asses, and the like; stLU others for diversion, such as 
monkeys and such birds as magpies, parrots, and the like. 
Of the plants and herbs, some were fruit-bearing and some 
edible, and some, such as the rose and the like, were fragrant 
and flowering and were given us for our enjoyment; and 
still others were given us for the curing of diseases. For 
there is no animal or plant in which the Creator has not put 
some virtue that is of use for the needs of man. He knew 
all things before they were made and He saw that man in 
his freedom would fall and be given over to corruption; yet 
for man's suitable use He made all the things that are in the 
sky and on the earth and in the water. 

Before the fall, all things were subject to the control of 
man, because God had made him ruler over all the things 

5 Gen. 12. 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK TWO 229 

on the earth and in the water. And the serpent was on 
intimate terms with man, associating with him more than 
all the rest and conversing agreeably with him. For that 
reason it was through it that the Devil, who is the source 
of evil, made that most evil suggestion to our first parents. ° 
At that time the earth brought forth of itself fruits for the 
use of the animals that were subject to man, and there were 
neither violent rains upon the earth nor wintry storms. But, 
after the fall, 'when he was compared to senseless beasts, 
and was- become like to them,''' and when he had caused the 
unreasoning desire within himseK to prevail over his rational 
intellect and had become disobedient to the commandment 
of the Lord, then the creation subject to him rose up against 
this ruler appointed by the Creator, and he was ordered to 
work in the sweat of his face the earth from which he had 
been taken.* 

Nevertheless, the usefulness of the wild beasts is not even 
now past, because by exciting fear they bring man to re- 
cognize the God who made them and to call upon Him for 
help. Furthermore, after the fall, thorns grew out of the 
earth, as the Lord had declared.' Later, the thorn was joined 
to the sweetness of the rose to remind us of that fall on 
account of which the earth had been condemned to bring 
forth thorns and thistles for us.'^" 

Indeed, that such is the case is credible from the fact that 
their continuance is being assured down to the present time 
by those words spoken by the Lord when He said: 'Increase 
and multiply and fill the earth.' ^^ 

Some say that the earth is spherical in form; others, that 
it is conical. It is lower than the heavens, and much smaller, 
being hung like a small point at their center. And it will 

6 Cf. Gen. 3.1. 

7 Ps. 48.13. 

8 Cf. Gen. 3.19. 

9 Cf. Gen. 3.18. 

10 Cf. Basil, Sermon on Paradise 4 (PG 30.65A) . 

11 Gen. 1.28. 



230 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

pass away and be changed.^^ Blessed is he who inherits 
the earth of the meek, for the earth which is to receive the 
saints is unending.^^ Who, then, could sufhciently admire the 
boundless and incomprehensible wisdom of the Creator? Or 
who could adequately thank the Giver of good things? 

(There are, furthermore, the known provinces of the earth, 
or satrapies, of which Europe has thirty-four, and the great 
continent of Asia forty-eight, and twelve canons.^^)^^ 



Chapter 11 

Since God intended to fashion man after His own image 
and Hkeness from the visible and invisible creation to be a 
sort of king and ruler over the whole earth and the things 
in it, He prepared a sort of kingdom for him, in which he 
might dwell and lead a blessed and blissful life.''^ And this 
divine paradise prepared in Eden by the hands of God was 
a treasure house of every joy and pleasure. For 'Eden' is 
interpreted as meaning 'delight.' It was situated in the east 
and was higher than all the rest of the earth. It was tem- 
perate in climate and bright with the softest and purest of 
air. It was luxuriant with ever-blooming plants, filled with 
fragrance, flooded with Ught, and surpassing all conception 
of sensible fairness and beauty. In truth, it was a divine 
place and a worthy habitation for God in His image. And 
in it no brute beasts dwelt, but only man, the handiwork 
of God.2 



12 Cf. Apoc. 21.1. 

13 Cf. Matt. 5.4. 

14 District, a rare use of the word canon. Here it probably refers to 
the dioceses of the Roman Empire, the principal function of which 
came to be the collection and transmission of the 'canon' or regular 
taxes. 

15 This paragraph is missing in most codices. 

1 Cf. Gregory of Nyssa, On the Making of Man 2 (FG 44.132-133) . 

2 Cf. Basil, Sermon on Paradise 2 {PG 30.64) . 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK TWO 23 I 

In its midst God planted a tree of life and a tree of knowl- 
edge.^ He planted the tree of knowledge as a sort of trial, 
test, and exercise of man's obedience and disobedience. It 
is either for this reason that it has been called the tree of 
knowledge of good and evil, or because it gave to them that 
partook of it the power to know their own nature — which, 
while it is good for the perfect, is bad for them that are 
less perfect and more given to their desires, as strong meat 
is to them that are tender and still in need of milk.'' For 
God who created us did not want us to be 'careful and 
troubled about many things,'^ nor to be anxious and con- 
cerned for our own life — which is just what happened to 
Adam. Thus, after he had eaten, he became aware of the 
fact that he was naked and put an apron around himself. 
For he took fig leaves and girded himself, although before 
they had eaten 'they were both naked, to wit, Adam and 
Eve, and they were not ashamed.'" God wanted us to be 
dispassionate like that, for that is passionlessness to the highest 
degree. And He also wanted us to be free from care and to 
have but one task, that of the angels, which is unceasingly 
and unremittingly to sing the praises of the Creator and to 
rejoice in contemplating Him. He also wanted us to cast 
our cares upon Him, which is just what He told us through 
the Prophet David, saying: 'Cast thy care upon the Lord, 
and he shall sustain thee.'^ In the Gospels, too, when teaching 
His own disciples. He says : * 'Be not solicitous for your life, 
what you shall eat, nor for your body, what you shaU put on' ; 
and again: 'Seek ye the kingdom of God and his justice, 
and all these things shall be added unto you' ; and to Martha : 
'Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many 
things: but one thing is necessary. Mary hath chosen the 

3 C£. Gen. 2.9. 

4 Heb. 5.12; Gregory Nazianzen, Sermon 38.12 (PG 36.324BC) , and 
Sermon 45.8 (PG 36.632-633) . 

5 Luke 10.41. 

6 Gen. 2.25. 

7 Ps. 54.23. 

8 Matt. 6i5,33; Luke 10.41,42. 



232 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

best part, which shall not be taken away from her,' namely, 
to sit at His feet and hear His words. 

The tree of life was either a tree possessing a life-giving 
force or a tree that was to be eaten of only by such as were 
worthy of life and not subject to death. Some have imagined 
paradise to have been material, while others have imagined it 
to have been spiritual. However, it seems to me that, just 
as man was created both sensitive and intellectual, so 
did this most sacred domain of his have the twofold asf>ect 
of being perceptible both to the senses and to the mind. For, 
while in his body he dwelt in this most sacred and superbly 
beautiful place, as we have related, spiritually he resided in 
a loftier and far more beautiful place. There he had the 
indwelling God as a dwelling place and wore Him as a 
glorious garment. He was wrapped about with His grace, 
and, like some one of the angels, he rejoiced in the enjoyment 
of that one most sweet fruit which is the contemplation of 
God, and by this he was nourished. Now, this is indeed 
what is fittingly called the tree of life, for the sweetness of 
divine contemplation communicates a life uninterrupted by 
death to them that partake of it. It is just this that God 
meant by 'every tree' when He said : 'Of every tree of paradise 
thou shalt eat." For He is the all, in whom and by whom 
the universe endures. 

The tree of knowledge of good and evil is the power of 
discernment by multiple vision, and this is the complete 
knowing of one's own nature. Of itself it manifests the magni- 
ficence of the Creator and it is good for them that are full- 
grown and have walked in the contemplation of God — for 
them that have no fear of changing, because in the course 
of time they have acquired a certain habit of such con- 
templation. It is not good, however, for such as are still 
young and are more greedy in their appetites, who, because 
of the uncertainty of their perseverance in the true good 
and because of their not yet being solidly established in their 

9 Gen. 2.16. 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK TWO 233 

application to the only good, are naturally inclined to be 
drawn away and distracted by their solicitude for their own 
bodies/" 

It is in such a way that I think that the divine paradise 
was of a twofold nature, and the inspired Fathers taught 
rightly, both those who taught the one aspect and those who 
taught the other. Moreover, it is possible to take 'every tree' 
as meaning the knowledge of the divine power which comes 
from the things that have been created, as the divine Apostle 
says: 'For the invisible things of him from the creation of 
the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things 
that are made.'^^ Of all these thoughts and considerations, 
the loftiest are those which concern ourselves — which con- 
cern our constitution, I mean, as the divine David says: 
'Thy knowledge from myself is become wonderful,'^^ that 
is to say, 'from my own make-up.' In the newly made Adam, 
however, this was dangerous — for the reasons we have stated. 
Again, the tree of life may be taken as the greater under- 
standing of God that comes from all material things, and 
the process of induction leading from these to the productive 
and creative cause of them all. And it is just this that is 
called 'every tree,' the whole and undivided tree that brings 
the only participation in the Good. And by the tree of knowl- 
edge of good and evil may be understood that material and 
enjoyable food which, while seeming to be sweet, actually 
makes the partaker to be a partaker of evU. For God says:^^ 
'Of every tree of paradise thou shalt eat,' meaning, I think: 
By means of aU created things be thou drawn up to Me, 
their Creator, and from them reap the one fruit which is 
Myself, who am the true life; let all things be fruitful life 
to thee and make participation in Me to be the substance 
of thy own existence; for thus thou shalt be immortal. 

10 Cf. Gregory Nazianzen, loc. cit. 

11 Rom. 1.20. 

12 Ps. 138.6 (Septuagint) . 

13 Gen. 2.16,17. 



234 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

'But of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt 
not eat. For in what day soever thou shalt eat of it, thou 
shall die the death.' For it is of the nature of material food 
to replace that which has been consumed, and it is voided 
into the privy and so to corruption. And it is impossible for 
him who partakes of material food to remain incorruptible. 



Chapter 12 

Thus, then, God created the intellectual substance. By that 
I mean angels and all the heavenly orders, for these quite 
plainly have an intellectual and incorporeal nature. When I 
say incorporeal, I mean incorporeal in comparison with the 
grossness of matter, for only the Divinity is really immaterial 
and incorporeal. Besides this. He also created the material 
substance, that is to say, the heavens and the earth and the 
things that lie between them. The former of these substances 
is akin to Him, for the rational nature which can only be 
grasped by the intellect is akin to God; while the latter, in 
so far as it is manifestly perceptible to the senses, is very very 
far removed from Him. 'But, as a mark of greater wisdom 
and of His munificence toward created natures, it was also 
necessary that a combination of both substances should be 
made,' as the inspired Gregory says, 'as a sort of bond between 
the visible and invisible natures.'^ The phrase 'it was neces- 
sary,' I say, implies the intention of the Creator, for this in- 
tention is a most fit law and ordinance. Thus, no one wiU 
ask the molder: 'Why did you make me like this?' — for the 
potter has the power to make different vessels from the same 
lump of clay^ in accordance with the dictates of his own 
wisdom. 

Since this was the case, with His own hands He created 
man after His own image and likeness from the visible and 

1 Gregory Nazianzen, Sermon 38.11 (PG 36.321D) . 

2 Cf. Rom. 9.21. 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK TWO 235 

invisible natures. From the earth He formed his body and 
by His own inbreathing gave him a rational and understand- 
ing soul, which last we say is the divine image — for the 
'according to His image' means the intellect and free wUl, 
while the 'according to His likeness' means such likeness in 
virtue as is possible. 

Tlie body and the soul were formed at the same time — 
not one before and the other afterwards, as the ravings of 
Origen would have it. 

And so God made man innocent, straightforward, virtuous, 
free from pain, free from care, ornamented with every virtue, 
and adorned with all good qualities. He made hira a sort of 
miniature world within the larger one, another adoring angel, 
a compound, an eye-witness of the visible creation, an 
initiate of the invisible creation, lord of the things of earth, 
lorded over from on high, earthly and heavenly, passing and 
immortal, visible and spiritual, halfway between greatness and 
lowliness, at once spirit and flesh — spirit by grace and flesh 
by pride, the first that he might endure and give glory to his 
Benefactor, and the second that he might suffer and by suffer- 
ing be reminded and instructed not to glory in his greatness. 
He made him a living being to be governed here according 
to this present life, and then to be removed elsewhere, that is, 
to the world to come, and so to complete the mystery by 
becoming divine through reversion to God — this, however, 
not by being transformed into the divine substance, but by 
participation in the divine illumination.^ 

He moreover made him sinless and endowed with freedom 
of will. By being sinless I do not mean being incapable of 
sinning, for only the Divinity is incapable of sinning, but 
having the tendency to sin not in his nature but, rather, in his 
power of choice — that is to say, having the power to persevere 
and progress in good with the help of divine grace, as well as 
having the power to turn from virtue and fall into vice, God 

3 Cf. Gregory Nazianzen, op. cit. U (PG 36.324A) . 



236 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

permitting because of the freedom of the -will. For, that 
which is done by force is not an act of virtue. 

Now, a soul is a living substance, simple and incorporeal, 
of its own nature invisible to bodily eyes, activating an organic 
body in which it is able to cause life, growth, sensation, and 
reproduction. It does not have the mind as something distinct 
from itself, but as its purest part, for, as the eye is to the body, 
so is the mind to the soul. It is free, endowed with will and the 
power to act, and subject to change, that is, subject to change 
of wiU, because it is also created. And this it has received 
according to nature, through that grace of the Creator by 
which it has also received both its existence and its being 
naturally as it is. 

[In how many ways a thing may be said to be incor- 
poreal.*] 

Things that are incorporeal, invisible and without shape 
we conceive of in two ways. Some are so by essense and 
some by grace; some are so by nature and some by 
comparison with the grossness of matter. Thus, God is said 
to be incorporeal by nature, but the angels, evil spirits, and 
souls are said to be so by grace and by comparison with the 
grossness of matter. 

A body is three-dimensional, that is, having height, breadth, 
and depth or thickness. Every body is composed of the four 
elements, but the bodies of living things are composed of 
the four humors. 

One should note that the four elements are: earth, which 
is dry and cold; water, which is cold and wet; air, which 
is wet and warm ; and fire, which is warm and dry. Likewise, 
there are also four humors corresponding to the four ele- 
ments: black bile, which corresponds to the earth, because 
it is dry and cold; phlegm, which corresponds to the water, 
because it is cold and wet; blood, which corresponds to the 
air, because it is wet and warm; yellow bile, which corresponds 

4 A marginal addition. 



ORTHODOX TAITH : BOOK TWO 237 

to fire, because it is warm and dry. Now, while fruits are 
made from the elements, the humors are made from the 
fruits, and the bodies of living things are made from the 
humors and are reducible to the elements, for every com- 
pound is reducible to them. 

[That man has something in common with the inanimate, 
the irrational, and the rational beings.^] 

One should note that man has something in common with 
inanimate things, that he shares life with the rational living 
beings, and that he shares understanding with the rational. In 
common with inanimate things, he has his body and its com- 
position from the four elements. In common with the plants, 
he has these same things plus the power of assimilating nour- 
ishment, of growing and of semination of generation. In com- 
mon with the brute beasts, he has all these plus appetite — that 
is to say, anger and desire — sensation, and spontaneous 
movement. 

Now, the senses are five; namely, sight, hearing, smell, 
taste, and touch. Belonging to spontaneous movement are 
the power of moving from place to place, that of moving 
the entire body, and that of speech and breathing — for in 
us we have the power either to do these things or not to 
do them. 

Through his power of reason man is akin to the incorporeal 
and intellectual natures, reasoning, thinking, judging each 
thing, and pursuing the virtues, particularly the acme of 
the virtues which is religion. For this reason, man is also 
a microcosm. 

One should note that section, flux, and change are proper 
to the body alone.' Change is that which is in quality, such 
as being heated, cooled, and so forth. Flux is an emptying 
out, for solids, liquids, and the breath arc voided and then 

5 Ibid. 

6 C£. Nemesius, On the Nature of Man 1 {PG 40.516C) . 



238 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

need to be replaced. Gonsequendy, hunger and thirst are 
natural sensations. Section is the separation of the humors 
from one another and the division into matter and form. 

Proper to the soul are religion and understanding. Although 
the virtues are referred to the soul, yet, in so far as the soul 
utilizes the body, they are common to both. 

One should note that the rational part of the soul governs 
the irrational part. Indeed, the faculties of the soul are 
divided into those belonging to its rational part and those 
belonging to its Lrrational part. There are two groups belong- 
ing to the irrational part, of which one is deaf to reason, 
that is to say, does not obey the reason, whereas the other 
listens to the reason and complies with it. Now, deaf and 
disobedient to reason are the vital principle, which is also 
called pulsating, the seminal or generative principle, and 
the vegetable principle, which is also called nutritive and 
to which also belongs the principle of growth that budds 
up the body. For these are governed not by reason but by 
nature. The group listening to reason and complying with 
it is divided into anger and desire. Moreover, the irrational 
part of the soul is commonly called emotional and appetitive. 
And one should know that the faculty of spontaneous move- 
ment is one of those which are obedient to reason. 

To those which are not obedient to reason belong the nutri- 
tive, the generative, and the pulsating principles. The grow- 
ing, nutritive, and generative principles are called vegetable; 
the pulsating is called vital. 

The nutritive principle has four faculties: the attractive, 
which attracts the food; the retentive, which retains the 
food and does not permit it to be excreted immediately; the 
transformative, which changes the food into the humors; 
and the excretive, which separates the superfluity and expels 
it through the rectum.'' 

One should note that some of the faculties in the living 
being are animal, some vegetable, and some vital. The 

7 Cf. ibid. 23 {PG 40.693A) . 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK TWO 239 

animal faculties are those which depends upon choice; 
namely, spontaneous movement and sense. To spontaneous 
movement belong m^oving from place to place, moving the 
entire body, speaking, and breathing, for it is in our power 
either to do them or not. Vegetable and vital faculties are 
those which do not depend upon choice. The nutritive, grow- 
ing, and generative faculties are vegetable, while the pulsating 
faculty is vital. These all operate regardless of whether we 
want them to or not. 

Furthermore, one must note that some things are good and 
others evil. Now, when a good thing is expected, it gives rise 
to desire, but when it is present it causes pleasure. Similarly, 
when a bad thing is expected, it gives rise to fear, but when 
it is present it causes pain. One must also understand that, 
when we say 'good' here, we mean both that which is really 
good and that which is apparently so, and similarly, when 
we say 'bad.' 

Chapter 13 

Some pleasures^ are of the soul, while others are of the 
body. Of the soul are all those which belong to the soul alone 
as distinct from the body, such as those coming from learn- 
ing and contemplation. Bodily pleasures are those which 
are shared by the soul and the body. For this reason, all 
those coming from eating, sexual intercourse, and the like, 
are called bodily. However, one would not find any pleasures 
belonging to the body alone. 

Again, some pleasures are true, whereas others are false. 
Some pleasures, also, which come from knowledge and con- 
templation, are purely intellectual; others, arising from sensa- 
tion, are shared by the body. Of the pleasures shared by the 
body, some are both natural and necessary. Without these 
it would be impossible to live; such are food eaten to supply 
a deficiency, and necessary clothes. Still others are natural 

1 Cf. ibid. 18 (PG 40.677ff.) . 



240 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

but not necessary, such as natural and legitimate sexual 
relations. For, although these last do assure the permanency 
of the entire race, it is nevertheless possible to live in virginity 
without them. Still others are neither necessary nor natural, 
such as intoxicating liquors, lewdness, and surfeits that exceed 
our needs. These do nothing for the maintenance of our life 
or for perpetuation of the race; on the contrary, they do 
harm. Hence, he who lives according to God must seek 
those pleasures which are both necessary and natural, while 
those which are natural but not necessary he must relegate 
to second place and only indulge in them as permitted by the 
suitability of time, manner, and moderation. The others, 
however, must be absolutely rejected. 

Such pleasures may be considered to be good as do not 
involve pain, cause remorse, do any damage, exceed the 
Umits of moderation, distract us for long from good works, 
or enslave us. 

Chapter 14 

There axe four kinds of pain;^ namely, grief, distress, envy, 
and compassion. Grief is a pain which makes one speech- 
less; distress is one which oppresses; envy is one arising from 
another's good fortune; and compassion is one arising from 
another's misfortune. 

Chapter 15 

Fear^ also has its divisions, which are six; namely, appre- 
hension, diffidence, shame, terror, consternation, and anxiety. 
Apprehension is fear of something which is going to happen. 
Diffidence is a fear due to an expected reproach, and this 
is an excellent affection. Shame is a fear due to the perpetra- 

1 Cf. ibid. 19 (PG 40.688) . 



1 Cf. ibid. 20 (PG 40.688ff.) . 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK TWO 241 

tion of a shameful act, nor is this beyond hope of salvation. 
Terror is a fear arising from, a strong mental impression. 
Consternation is a fear arising from an unaccustomed mental 
impression. Anxiety is a fear of failure, that is to say, of mis- 
fortune — ^for when we are afraid that our undertaking will 
turn out badly, we are anxious. 



Chapter 16 

Anger''- is a seething of the blood about the heart caused 
by the fuming up or thickening of the bile. For this reason, 
it is also called bile or spleen. There is also a kind of anger 
which is a desire for revenge, for when we are wronged or 
think that we have been wronged, we are pained and there 
arises in us that combined feeling of desire and anger. 

There are three kinds of anger; namely, wrath (which 
is called bile and spleen), rancor, and vindictive.ness. When 
anger arises and starts to move, it is called wrath, bile, and 
spleen. Rancor is an enduring wrath, or bearing malice. It 
is called (J^iiviq from its ^isveiv, or remaining, and being 
impressed upon the memory. Vindictiveness is wrath on the 
watch for an opportunity for revenge. It is called Koxoq from 
KsTaGai, or being laid down. 

Anger is the spearman of the reason and the avenger of 
desire. Thus, when we desire a thing and are thwarted by 
someone, our reason decides that for such as would maintain 
their own natural position this occurrence is worthy of vexa- 
tion, and we get angry at him over our having been wronged. 



Chapter 17 

The imagination^ is the faculty belonging to the irrational 
part of the soul. It acts through the sense organs and is 

1 Cf. ibid. 21 {PG 40.692) . 



242 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

called a sensation. Moreover, that which comes within the 
province of the imagination and the senses is the imagina- 
tive and the sensible, just as the visible — ^say, a stone or 
something of the sort — comes within the province of sight, 
which is the power of vision. An imagination, or fantasy, 
is an affection of the irrational part of the soul arising from 
some imagineable object. But an imagining, or phantasm, 
is an empty affection arising in the irrational parts of the 
soul from no imagineable object at all. The organ of the 
imagination is the anterior ventricle of the brain. 



Chapter 18 

Sense is a faculty of the soul by which material things 
are perceived, or distinguished. The sense organs are the 
organs or members by means of which we perceive. Sensible 
tilings are those which come within the province of the 
senses. The animal endowed with sense is sensitive. There 
are five senses and, likewise, five sense organs. 

The first sense is that of sight} The sense organs or media 
of sight are the nerves leading from the brain and the eyes. 
Fundamentally, it is the visual impression of color that is 
received, but along with the color the sight distinguishes the 
colored body, also: its size and shape, the place where it is 
and the intervening distance, its number, its motion or motion- 
lessness, its roughness or smoothness, its evenness or uneven- 
ness, sharpness or bluntness, and whether it has the con- 
sistency of water or that of earth; in other words, whether it 
is liquid or solid. 

The second sense is that of hearing.^ This is capable of dis- 
cerning voices and sounds, of which it distinguishes the high 
or low pitch, the degree of smoothness, and the volume. Its 
organs are the soft nerves leading from the brain and the 

1 Cf. ibid. 7 (PG 40.637ff.) . 

2 Cf. ibid. 10 {PG 40.657) . 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK TWO 243 

apparatus of the ears. Moreover, only man and the monkey 
do not move their ears. 

The third sense is that of smell,^ which originates with 
the nose sending the odors up to the brain and is terminated 
at the extremities of the anterior ventricles of the brain. 
The sense of smeO is capable of discerning and perceiving 
odors. The most general division of odors is into sweet-smell- 
ing and foul-smelling and that which stands midway between 
these and is neither the one nor the other. Thus, a sweet 
smeO arises when the juices in bodies have been cooked to 
a nicety. When they have been cooked middling well, the 
result is middling. But when they have been very poorly 
or incompletely cooked, then there is a foul smell. 

The fourth sense is that of taste* This sense is capable of 
perceiving or discerning flavors. Its organs are the tongue — 
especially its tip — and the palate, which some call the roof 
[of the mouth]. The nerves leading from the brain have 
been broadened out in these and report back to the authori- 
tative part of the soul the impression or sensation received. 
The so-called taste qualities or flavors are as follows: sweet- 
ness, bitterness, acidity, sourness, tartness, pungency, saltiness, 
greasiness, and stickiness. For it is these that the sense of taste 
can distinguish. Water, however, in so far as these qualities are 
concerned, is tasteless, because it has none of them. Sourness 
is an intense and excessive tartness. 

The fifth sense is that of touch,^ which is common to all 
animals. It comes from the nerves leading out from the 
brain into the entire body, for which reason both the entire 
body and the other sense organs, too, possess the sense of 
touch. Subject to touch are heat and cold, softness and hard- 
ness, stickiness and friability, and heaviness and lightness, 
because these things are recognized only by the sense of 
touch. Common to both the sense of touch and that of sight 

3 Cf. ibid. 1 1 (PG 40.657-658) . 

4 Cf. ibid. 9 (PG 40.656-657) . 

5 Cf. ibid. 8 (PG 40.649ff.) . 



244 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

are: roughness and smoothness; dryness and wetness; thick- 
ness and thinness; up and down; place; size, whenever it 
is such as can be determined with one application of the 
sense of touch; compactness and looseness, or density; round- 
ness, if on a small scale, and various other shapes. Similarly, 
with the aid of the memory and the understanding, it can 
also perceive the approach of a body, as well as number, 
too, up to two or three, provided the objects be small and 
easily grasped. Sight, however, ia more perceptive of these 
than is touch. 

One should note that the Creator constructed each one of 
the sense organs in pairs,^ so that, should one be harmed, 
the other might fulfill the function. Thus, there are two 
eyes, two ears, two nostrils, and two tongues. These last, 
however, while they are separate in some animals, such as 
snakes, in others, such as man, are joined together. On the 
other hand, the sense of touch is in the entire body, with the 
exception of the bones, nerves, nails and horns, hair, sinews, 
and certain other parts of the same sort. 

One should note that sight sees along straight lines, but 
that smeU and hearing get their impressions not only along 
straight lines, but from aU directions. Touch and taste, how- 
ever, get their impressions neither along straight lines nor 
along any line, but only when their proper organs are in 
contact with their objects. 



Chapter 19 

To the thinking faculty^ belong judgments, assents, inclina- 
tions and disinclinations to act, and avoidances of action. 
In particular, concepts of intellectual things, the virtues and 
sciences, the principles of the arts, and the deliberative and 

6 Cf. ibid. (PG 40.649A) . 



1 Cf. ibid. 12 {PG 40.660) . 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK TWO 245 

elective powers belong to the thinking faculty. It is also this 
faculty which foretells the future to us through dreams, 
which the Pythagoreans, following in the steps of the Hebrews, 
claim to be the only true divination. The organ of this faculty 
is the middle ventricle of the brain and the vital spirit re- 
siding therein. 

Chapter 20 

The faculty of memory^ is both the cause and the reposi- 
tory of memory and recollection. Memory is an image which 
has been left behind by some sensory or mental impression 
that has actually been received. In other words, it is the 
retention of sensation and thought. Thus, on the one hand, 
the soul apprehends or senses sensible objects through the 
organs of sense, and a mental impression is formed; on the 
other hand, it apprehends intellectual objects through the 
mind and a conjecture is formed. Hence, when it retains the 
forms of things of which it has received impressions, or of 
things of which it has thought, then it is said to remember. 

One must note that the apprehension of intellectual things 
comes only through learning, or the natural process of think- 
ing. It does not come from sensation, because sensible things 
are remembered in themselves, whereas intellectual things 
we do remember, provided we have learned something of 
them, but of their substance we have no memory. 

Recollection is the recovery of memory that has been lost 
by forgetting, and forgetting is the loss of memory. When 
the imaginative faculty has apprehended material things by 
means of the senses, it communicates [the impression] to the 
thinking faculty, or reasoning faculty — for both of these are 
the same thing. When this faculty has received the impression 
and formed a judgment of it, it passes it on to the faculty 
of memory. The organ of the faculty of memory is the 
pHDSterior ventricle of the brain, which is also called the cere- 
bellum, and the vital spirit residing therein. 



246 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

Chapter 21 

The speaking (or rational) part of the soul is again divided 
into mental and spoken speech} Mental speech is a move- 
ment of the soul made in its reasoning faculty without any 
vocal expression. Thus, we oftentimes go silently through an 
entire discourse in detail, and we converse in our dreams. 
In this respect we are aU speaking (or rational) in the most 
proper sense. For, certainly, those who have been born dumb 
or who have lost their voice through some illness or accident 
are by no means less rational. Spoken speech acts through 
the voice and language, that is to say, it is the speech which 
is spoken by means of the tongue and mouth. For this reason 
it is said to be spoken. It is, moreover, the messenger of 
thought. In respect to this faculty we are also said to be 
talking. 

Chapter 22 

The term passion is equivocal, because, while it may refer 
to the body, as in the case of sickness and sores, it may also 
refer to the soul, as with desire or anger. In its common 
and general sense, however, it means an animal passion such 
as is followed by pleasure or pain. Now, pain does follow 
passion, but pain is not the passion itself, because insensible 
things, when they suffer, do not feel pain. Thus, then, pain 
is not passion but the feeling of passion. This passion, more- 
over, must be considerable, that is to say, so intense as to 
come within the province of sensation. 

The definition of the passions of the soul is as follows: 
passion is a movement of the appetitive faculty which is felt 
as a result of a sensory impression of good or evil.^ It may also 
be defined in another way: passion is an irrational move- 

1 C£. ibid. 14 {PG 40.665H.) . 



1 C£. ibid. 16 {PG 40.673B) . 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK TWO 247 

ment of the soul due to an impression of good or evil. Thus, 
the impression of good arouses the desire, whereas that of 
evil arouses the anger. Passion in the general or common 
sense is defined thus: passion is a movement in one thing 
caused by another. But action is an active movement, that 
being called active which moves of itself. Hence, when one 
is driven violently into action by anger, this anger is, on 
the one hand, an action of the irascible part of the soul; 
on the other, it is a passion of both parts, and of the entire 
body as well. For [in this last case] the movement in one 
thing has been caused by another, which is precisely what 
is called passion. 

In still another way, action is called passion. For, while 
action is a movement according to nature, passion is a move- 
ment against nature. So, for this reason, action is called 
passion when one is not moved according to nature, whether 
by himself or by another. Thus, the pulsating movement of 
the heart is action, because it is natural; but its palpitating 
movement, because it is immoderate and not according to 
nature, is passion and not action. 

Not every movement of the passible part of the soul is 
called a passion, but only the more violent ones which come 
within the range of sensation, because the little imperceptible 
ones are not passions at all. The passion must also have a 
considerable intensity. Consequently, a perceptible movement 
comes under the definition of passion, but the little move- 
ments which elude sensation do not make for passion. 

One should note that our soul possesses two kinds of 
faculties: the cognitive and the vital. The cognitive faculties 
are mind, thought, opinion, imagination, and sensation. Will 
and choice, on the other hand, are vital, or appetitive, fac- 
ulties. To make what has just been said more clear, let us 
discuss these things in detail. First of all, let us speak about 
the cognitive faculties. 

Imagination and sensation have already been sufficiently 
discussed in what has been said before. Thus, through sensa- 



248 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

tion a passion is caused in the soul and this is called imagina- 
tion. From imagination there arises an opinion. Then, when 
the thinking faculty has examined the opinion as to whether 
it is true or false, it decides what is true. For this reason, 
this faculty is called thought from its thinking and discerning. 
That which has been Judged and set down as true is called 
mind. 

Or, to put it in another way — one should note that the 
first movement of the mind is called intelligence. Intelligence 
being excercised about something is called thinking. When 
this has continued a while and has impressed the soul with 
the thing thought about, it is called consideration. And when 
the consideration has continued in the same subject and has 
thoroughly examined itself and interrogated the soul in regard 
to the thing thought about, then it is called prudence [or 
practical wisdom]. Then prudence extends on and produces 
reasoning, which is termed mental speech, and which they 
define as a most complete movement of the soul arising in 
its reasoning part without any vocal expression. It is from 
this that they say that the spoken word expressed by the 
tongue proceeds. And so, now that we have spoken about 
the cognitive faculties, let us speak of the vital, or appetitive 
faculties. 

One should note that in the soul there is an innate force 
appetitive of what is natural to the soul and embracing all 
those things which pertain to its nature essentially. This is 
called will {Qekr]aiq,). The substance [of the soul] tends to 
exist and live, to think and feel; and it desires its own natural 
and complete actuality. This is why the natural will is de- 
fined as follows: Will is a rational and vital appetite attached 
solely to natural things.^ Hence, the will is the same natural, 
vital, and rational appetite for everything that goes to make 
up the nature; it is a simple faculty. The appetite of brute 
animals is not called a will, because it is not rational. 
Wishing {^oCiX^oiq,) is a sort of natural willing, that is 

2 Cf. Maximus, Opuscula theologica ad Marinum (PG 91.12C) . 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK TWO 249 

to say, a natural and rational appetite for some thing. For, 
inherent in the human soul, there is a faculty for rationally 
desiring. And so, when this rational appetite is moved toward 
some thing, it is called volition, for wishing is a rational 
appetition and desiring for something. 

We speak of wishing both in respect to things which are 
in our power and in respect to things which are not; in 
other words, in respect to possible and impossible things. 
Thus, oftentimes we may wish to fornicate, or to excercise 
self-control, or to sleep, or some other such thing. These 
things are in our power and are possible. On the other hand, 
we may also wish to be a king, and that is not in our power. 
Then, possibly, we may wish never to die, and that is an 
impossible thing. 

Wishing concerns the end, and not the means to the end. 
Now, the end is the thing desired, such as to be king or to 
enjoy good health, whereas the means to the end is the thing 
deliberated, or the way in which we may become healthy 
or get to be king.' Immediately after wishing come inquiry 
and consideration. Then, after these, provided the thing is 
within our power, comes deliberation, or counsel. Delibera- 
tion is an inquisitive appetite arising in respect to such things 
which are to be done as are in our power. Thus, one del- 
iberates as to whether or not he should pursue the object. 
Then he decides which is the better course, and this is called 
judgment. Then he becomes disposed to the thing decided 
as a result of the deliberation and prefers it, and this is 
called opinion. For, should one judge and not become dis- 
posed to the thing judged, that is to say, not prefer it, then 
it is not called opinion. Then, after this disposition, there 
comes choice or selection. Choice is the choosing and picking 
out of this one rather than the other of two things proposed. 
Then one moves to act, and this is called impulse. Then 
one enjoys, and this is called use. Then, after the use, the 
appetite ceases. 

3 Cf. ibid. {PG 91.13C-16A) . 



250 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

Now, in the case of the brute animals, when an appetite 
for something arises it is immediately followed by an impulse 
to act. This is because the appetite of brute animals is ir- 
rational and because they are led by their natural appetite. 
For this reason the appetite of brute animals is said to be 
neither a will nor a volition. Will is a rational and free 
natural appetite and with men, who are rational, the natural 
appetite is led rather than leads. Thus, man is moved freely 
with the aid of reason, since in him the cognitive and vital 
faculties are joined together. Hence, he freely desires and 
freely wills, freely lives and inquires, freely deliberates, freely 
judges, freely disposes himself, freely chooses, freely moves 
to act, and freely acts in respect to those things which are 
in accord with his nature. 

One should note that, while we speak of wishing in God, 
in the strict sense we do not speak of choice. For God does 
not deliberate, because deliberation is due to ignorance. No 
one deliberates about what he knows. But, if deliberation 
is due to ignorance, then choice, too, is most certainly so. 
Hence, since God knows all things absolutely. He does not 
deliberate. 

Neither do we speak of deliberation or choice in the soul 
of the Lord, because He did not suffer from ignorance.* 
Even though He did have such a nature as was ignorant 
of future events, nevertheless, in so far as this nature was 
hypostatically united to God the Word, it did have knowl- 
edge of aU things — not by grace, but, as has been said, by 
virtue of the hypostatic union. Thus, He was Himself both 
God and man, and therefore did not have a will based upon 
opinion. He did have a will that was natural and simple and 
such as is to be found in all human persons, but His sacred 
soul held no opinion, that is to say, willed nothing contrary to 
His divine wiU, nor did it have a wiU in opposition to 
His divine will. Now, opinion varies with the persons except in 
the case of the sacred, simple, uncompoimded, and undivided 

4 Cf. Maximus, Disputatio cum Pyrrho {PC 91.308-309) . 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK TWO 25 1 

Godhead. For, since the Persons there are by no means di- 
vided and set at variance, neither is the object of their wQl di- 
vided. And since there is but one nature there, there is, like- 
wise, only one natural will. Moreover, since, again, the Persons 
are not at variance, there is one thing willed and one move- 
ment of the three Persons. But with men, while there is one 
nature and, consequently, one natural will, yet, since the 
persons are separate and varying from one another in time 
and place, in their disposition toward things, and in very 
many other ways, for this reason their wills and opinions 
differ. Now, since in the case of our Lord Jesus Christ the 
natures are diflferent, so also are the natural wills of His 
divinity and humanity diflferent, that is to say, the willing 
faculties. Since, however, there is but one Person and but 
one who wills, then the thing willed, or the will based on 
opinion, must also be one — with His human will, of course, 
following His divine will and willing those things which the 
divine will has willed it to will. 

One should note that will is one thing and wishing another, 
and that the thing willed is one thing, the principle willing 
another, and the one willing still another. Whereas will is 
the simple faculty itself, of willing, wishing is the wiU in 
regard to something, and the thing willed is the object of 
the will, or that which we wUl. For instance, the appetite 
tends to food. In this case, the simple acting appetite is a 
rational wiU, while the willing principle is that which pos- 
sesses the faculty of willing, such as a man, and the one 
willing is he who uses the will. 

One must bear in mind that when wiU means the will, 
or willing faculty, it is said to be a natural will; but that 
when it means the thing willed, then it is said to be will 
based on opinion. 



252 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

Chapter 23 

One should note that all the faculties heretofore discussed 
are called acts, whether they be the cognitive, the vital, the 
natural, or the technical. Act is the natural force and move- 
ment of any substance. Again, natural act is the innate move- 
ment of every substance. Whence it is clear that those things 
that have the same substance have also the same act, whereas 
those that have dififerent natures have different acts. For it 
is inconceivable that a substance should be devoid of natural 
act.'- 

Again, that force which is indicative of any substance is 
natural act. Still again, the first ever-moving force of the 
intellectual soul, that is to say, the ever-moving reason per- 
petually springing naturally from it, is natural act. Still again, 
the force and movement of any substance, which only non- 
being does not have, is natural act. 

Moreover, such actions as talking, walking, eating, drink- 
ing, and the like are also called acts. And the natural pas- 
sions, too, such as hunger, thirst, and the like are frequently 
called acts. And, finally, the actuation of potency is called 
act. 

There are, moreover, two ways in which a thing is said 
to be: in potency and in act. Thus, we say that a suckling 
chUd is potentially lettered, because it has the capacity to 
become so through instruction. Again, we say that a lettered 
person is both potentially and actually so. He is actually so, 
because he has the knowledge of letters; but he is potentially 
so, if, although he can expound, he actually is not doing so. 
Again, we say that he is lettered actually when he is acting, 
that is to say, expounding. Consequently, one should note 
that this second way of being is common to both potency 
and act, but that the second belongs rather to potency, 
whereas the first belongs to act. 

A first, only, and true natural act is that independent, or 

1 Cf. Gregory of Nyssa, The Guide (PG 89.65B) ; Maximus, Disputatio 
cum Pyrrho (PG 9I.337A) . 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK TWO 253 

rational, and free life which constitutes our species. When 
some people deprive our Lord of this, I do not understand 
how they say that He who is God became man. 

Act is an active movement of nature. And that is called 
active which is moved of itself. 



Chapter 24 

Since it is in some action that the voluntary consists,^ and 
also in some action that the involuntary in the commonly 
accepted sense of the term consists, there are many who 
put the involuntary in the absolute sense not only under 
passion but also under action. However, one must bear in 
mind that an action is a rational act. Actions incur praise 
or blame. The performance of some is accompanied by 
pleasure; of others, by pain. Some of them are desirable to 
the doer, whereas others are distasteful. Moreover, some of 
those which are desirable are always so, whereas others are 
so only at certain times. And it is the same with those which 
are distasteful. Then again, some actions are worthy of mercy 
and forgiveness, while others are detestable and to be pun- 
ished. Therefore, concomitant with the absolutely voluntary 
are praise or blame, its performance with pleasure, and the 
fact that the actions are desirable to them that perform them, 
whether at all times or only at the particular time when 
they are performed. On the other hand, concomitant with 
the involuntary are the facts of the actions being worthy 
of forgiveness or mercy, or their being performed with pain, 
and of their not being desirable to the doer, whether because 
of his not doing them of his own accord or because of his 
being forced. 

Now, the involuntary^ is due either to compulsion or to 

1 Cf. Nemesius, op. cit. 29 {PG 40.717-718). 

2 Cf. ibid. 30 (PG 40.720ff.) . 



254 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

ignorance. It is due to compulsion when the eflficient princi- 
ple, or cause, is extrinsic — in other words, when we are 
compelled by another without our full agreement, without 
the concurrence of our own impulse, and without our co- 
operating or doing of our own accord the thing that we have 
been compelled to do. In defining it we say that that is 
involuntary of which the principle is extrinsic and in which 
the one compelled does not concur with his own impulse. 
By principle we mean the efficient cause. On the other hand, 
the involuntary is due to ignorance when we ourselves do not 
furnish the cause of the ignorance, and the thing just happens 
by chance. Thus, should someone commit murder while 
drunk, he would be doing it unwittingly, but certainly not 
involuntarily, because he himself has supplied the cause of 
the ignorance, that is to say, the drunkenness. If, however, 
someone has been shooting arrows in an accustomed place 
and has kiUed his father who had chanced by, he is said to 
have done this involuntarily through ignorance.' 

And so, since there are two kinds of involuntary, that due 
to compulsion and that due to ignorance, the voluntary is 
opposed to both.* Thus, that is voluntary which is brought 
about by neither compulsion nor ignorance. Now, that is 
voluntary of which the principle, or cause, is in the doer 
himself as thoroughly understanding aU the circumstances 
because of which and under which the action was performed. 
Circumstances are what the grammarians call 'circumstantial 
parts of speech.' For example: we have who, or the person 
who acted; whom, or the person acted upon; what, or the 
very thing that was done, as, for example, murder; with 
what, or the instrument; where, or in what place; when, 
or at what time; how, or the manner of action; and because 
of what, or for what cause. 

It should be borne in mind that there are some things which 
come between what is voluntary and what is involuntary 

3 Cf. ibid. 31 {PG 40.724-725) . 

4 Cf. ibid. 32 {FG 40.728) . 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK TWO 255 

and which, although they may be unpleasant and painful, 
we permit in order to avoid a greater evil — as, for example, 
when we jettison a ship's cargo to avoid shipwreck.^ 

It should be borne in mind that, while children and brute 
beasts act voluntarily, they certainly do not do so through 
deliberate choice, and that all that we do in anger without 
previous consideration we do voluntarily, but certainly not 
through deliberate choice. Likewise, when a friend drops in 
on us unexpectedly, we accept his visit voluntarily but cer- 
tainly not through deliberate choice. In the same way, one 
who has unexpectedly happened upon a treasure has indeed 
happened upon it willingly, but certainly not through delib- 
erate choice. All these things are indeed voluntary because 
of the pleasure connected with them, but certainly not be- 
cause of their having been chosen deliberately, since they did 
not happen as a result of deliberation. Choice must definitely 
be preceded by deliberation, as has been said. 



Chapter 25 

In treating of free will,^ that is to say, of what depends 
upon us, the first consideration is as to whether there is any- 
thing that does depend upon us, because there are a number 
of people who deny it. A second consideration is as to what 
things depend upon us and over what things we do have 
control. A third consideration is how to explain the reason 
for which the God who made us made us free. And so, let us 
take up the first question and at the very outset prove from 
things accepted as true by our adversaries that there are 
some things that depend upon us. And let us proceed as 
follows. 

They say that everything that happens is caused either by 

5 Cf. ibid. 30 (PG 40.720B) . 



1 Cf. ibid. 39 (PG 40.761H.) . 



256 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

God, or necessity, or fate, or nature, or chance, or spontaneity. 
But essence and providence are the work of God, while the 
movement of things which are always the same belongs to 
necessity. And to fate belongs the necessary fulfillment of 
what it has decreed, for fate also implies necessity. Generation, 
growth, corruption, plants, and animals belong to nature. 
The unusual and unexpected belong to chance. For chance is 
defined as the accidental concurrence of two causes origin- 
ating in deliberate choice but resulting in something other 
than was intended, as in the case of someone digging a grave 
and finding a treasure. In this case, the one who put the 
treasure there did not do so in order that it might be found 
by another, and neither did the one who found it dig for 
the purpose of finding a treasure. On the contrary, the first 
put it there in order that he might get it whenever he should 
so choose, whereas the second dug in order to make a grave; 
but something else resulted, quite different from what was 
intended by either. Finally, to spontaneity belongs what 
befalls inanimate things or brute beasts without the interven- 
tion of nature or art. All this they themselves maintain. Now, 
if man is not an effective principle of action, to which of these 
causes are we to attribute human actions? It is definitely 
wrong ever to ascribe immoral and unjust actions to God; 
neither can they be ascribed to necessity, for they are not the 
actions of things which are always the same; nor can they 
be ascribed to fate, for they declare that the things decreed 
by fate are not contingent but necessary; nor to nature, for 
the works of nature are animals and plants; nor to chance, 
for human actions are not unusual and unexpected; nor yet 
to spontaneity, for they say that that is spontaneous which 
befalls inanimate things or brute beasts. Indeed, nothing re- 
mains but the fact that man himself as acting and doing is 
the principle of his own works and is free. 

What is more, if man is not a principle of action, then his 
power of deliberation is superfluous, for to what use would 
he put his deliberation if he were not master of any action 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK TWO 257 

at all? All deliberation is on account of action, and it would 
furthermore be absurd were the most excellent and noble 
of the faculties in man to prove useless. Besides, when a man 
deliberates, he does so on account of action, because all de- 
liberation is on account of and for the sake of action. 



Chapter 26 

Some things done^ depend upon us, while others do not. 
Those things depend upon us which we are free either to do 
or not to do, that is to say, everything which we do voluntarily 
—for a thing would not be said to be done voluntarily if the 
action did not depend upon us. To put it simply : those things 
depend upon us which incur blame or praise and in respect 
to which one may be urged or bound by law. Properly speak- 
ing, all those things depend upon us which pertain to the 
soul and about which we deliberate. And it is about contin- 
gents that deliberation is exercised. A contingent is that which 
we can do itself, and of which we can abo do the opposite. 
Our mind makes this choice of itself, and this is the begin- 
ning of action. Those things, then, depend upon us which are 
contingent — as, for example, to move or not to move, to 
start or not to start, to desire things that are not absolutely 
necessary or not to desire them, to lie or not to lie, to give 
or not to give, to rejoice when one should and, similarly, not 
to when one should not, and all such things as imply virtue 
or vice — for in these things we are free. The arts also belong 
to the number of the contingents, because it is in our power 
to cultivate them, if we so wish, or not to cultivate them. 
One should note that the choice of things to be done 
always rests with us, but that their doing is oftentimes pre- 
vented by some disposition of Divine Providence.^ 

1 Cf. ibid. 40 (PG 40.765ff.) . 

2 Cf. ibid. 37 {PG 40.749rf.) . 



258 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

Chapter 27 

We maintain, then, that the freedom of the will is directly 
connected with the reason.^ We also maintain that transform- 
ation and change are inherent in created beings. For every- 
thing that is created is also changeable, because whatever has 
originated in a change must needs be subject to change. Being 
brought from non-being to being is change, and so is being 
made into something else from an existing material. Now, 
inanimate things and brute beasts are changed by the cor- 
poreal alterations which have already been spoken of, whereas 
rational beings are changed by deliberate choice. This last is 
because of the fact that to the reason belong both the con- 
templative and active faculties. The contemplative faculty is 
that which examines the state of things, whereas the active 
faculty is the power of deliberation which applies right reason 
to such things as may be done. The contemplative faculty 
is also called mind, and the active faculty reason. Still again, 
the contemplative faculty is called wisdom, and the active 
faculty prudence. Thus, everyone who deliberates, as having 
in himself the power to choose such things as may be done, 
deliberates so that he may choose what has been selected 
through deliberation, and so that, having chosen it, he may 
act. But, if this is so, then freedom of will is necessarily 
connected by nature with the reason. Thus, a being may be 
irrational or rational ; but, if it is rational, it will be the master 
of its actions and free. Whence it follows that the irrational 
beings are not free, since, instead of leading nature, they are 
led by it. And so it is that they do not deny their natural 
appetite, but, just as soon as they feel an appetite for some- 
thing, they move to act. Man, however, since he is rational, 
leads his nature rather than is led by it. And so, when he 
feels an appetite, he has the power to resist it, should he so 
wish, or to obey it. This is why irrational beings are neither 

1 Cf. ibid. 41 {PG 40.773ff.) . 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK TWO 259 

to be praised nor blamed, while man is to be praised or 
blamed. 

One should note that, since the angels are rational, they are 
free, and that, since they are created, they are subject to 
change. And a proof of this is the Devil, who, although he 
had been created good by the Creator, of his own free will 
became the discoverer of evU; and so also are the powers 
that rebelled with him, that is to say, the evU spirits, while 
the rest of the angelic orders persevered in the good. 



Chapter 28 

Some of those things which do not depend upon us have 
their origin, or cause, in things which do depend upon us. 
Such are the recompenses for our deeds, which we receive 
both in the present world and in that to come. AH the rest, 
however, depend upon the divine wiU. The creation of all 
things is due to God, but corruption came in afterwards due 
to our own wickedness and as a punishment and a help. 'For 
God made not death : neither hath he pleasure in the destruc- 
tion of the living';^ rather, it was through man, that is to say, 
Adam's transgression, that death came with the other punish- 
ments. All the rest, however, are to be attributed to God. 
Thus, our creation is due to His creative power, our per- 
manence to His providential power, and to His goodness the 
eternal enjoyment of the good things reserved for them that 
keep the law of nature — ^for which reason we were made. 
However, since there are some who deny His providence, let 
us go on to say a few things about providence. 

1 Wisd. 1.13. 



260 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

Chapter 29 

Providence, then, is the solicitude which God has for exist- 
ing things. And again, providence is that will of God by 
which all existing things receive suitable guidance through to 
their end.^ But, if providence is God's will, then, according 
to right reason, everything that has come about through 
providence has quite necessarily come about in the best 
manner and that most befitting God, so that it could not have 
happened in a better way. Now, the Maker of existing things 
must be the same as their Provider, for it is neither fitting 
nor logical that one should be their creator and another their 
provider, because in such a case they would both be definitely 
wanting- — the one in the matter of creating and the other in 
that of providing.^ Hence, God is both Creator and Provider, 
and is power of creating, sustaining, and providing is His 
good will. For 'whatsoever the Lord pleased he hath done, 
in heaven, and in earth,'' and none resisted His will.* He 
willed all things to be made and they were made; He wiUs 
the world to endure and it does endure; and aU things what- 
soever He wiUs are done. 

Moreover, that He provides and provides well anyone might 
most correctly learn from the following consideration. God 
alone is by nature good and wise. Consequently, in so far as 
He is good He provides, because one who does not provide 
is not good. Even men and brute beasts naturally provide for 
their own offspring, and the one that does not will incur 
blame. Then, in so far as He is wise He provides for existing 
things in the very best way.^ 

And so, bearing these things in mind we should admire, 
praise, and unconditionally accept aU the works of providence. 
And should these appear to a number of people to be unjust, 

1 Cf. Nemesius, op. cit. 43 {PG 40.792-793) . 

2 Cf. ibid. 42 {PG 40.788-789) . 

3 Ps. 134.6. 

4 Cf. Rom. 9.19. 

5 Cf. Nemesius, op. cit. 44 (PG 40.813) . 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK TWO 26 1 

it is because of the fact that God's providence is beyond 
knowledge and beyond comprehension, and because to Him 
alone are our thoughts and actions and the events of the future 
known. However, when I say 'all,' I am referring to those 
things which do not depend upon us, because those which 
do depend upon us do not belong to providence, but to our 
own free will. 

Some of the things that are due to providence are by ap- 
proval, whereas others are by permission. All those that are 
undeniably good are by approval, whereas of those that are 
by permission [there are many kinds]. ^ Thus, He often 
permits even the just man to meet with misfortunes so that 
the virtue hidden in him may be made known to others, as 
in the case of Job.^ At other times, He permits something ini- 
quitous to be done so that through this apparently iniquitous 
action some great and excellent thing may be brought about, 
as was the salvation of men by the Cross. In still another way, 
He permits the devout man to suffer evil either so that he 
may not depart from his right conscience or so that he may 
not fall into presumption from the strength and grace that 
have been given him, as in the case of Paul.* 

Someone may be abandoned for a while for the correction 
of others so that by observing his state they may be instructed, 
as in the case of Lazarus and the rich man.' For we are 
naturally humbled when we see the sufferings of others. Some- 
one may also be abandoned not because of his own sins or 
his parents' but for the glory of another, as was the man 
born blind for the glory of the Son of Man.^" Again, someone 
may be permitted to suffer as an object of emulation for 
others so that because of the greatness of the glory of the 
one that suffered they may without hesitation accept suffering 
in hope of future glory and with a desire for the good things 

6 Supplied from ibid. (PG 40.812A) . 

7 C£. Job. 1.12; cf. Nemesius, loc. cit. 

8 Cf. 2 Cor. 12.7. 

9 Cf. Luke 16.19ff.; Nemesius, loc. cit. 
10 Cf. John 9.3; Nemesius, loc. cit. 



262 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

to come, as in the case of the martyrs. A person may even be 
allowed at times to fall into a immoral action for the correc- 
tion of another and worse afiliction. For example, a certain 
person is conceited about his virtues and righteousness, and 
God permits him to fall into fornication so that by his fall he 
may become conscious of his own weakness, be humbled, and, 
drawing nigh, confess to the Lord. 

One should, moreover, note that, while the choice of 
things that may be done rests with us, the accomplishment of 
the good ones is due to the co-operation of God, who in 
accordance with His foreknowledge justly co-operates with 
those who in right conscience choose the good. The accom- 
plishment of the bad things, however, is due to abandonment 
by God, who, again in accordance with His foreknowledge, 
justly abandons us. 

Now, there are two kinds of abandonment, for there is one 
by dispensation which is for our instruction and there is an- 
other which is absolute rejection. That abandonment is by 
dispensation and for our instruction which happens for the 
correction, salvation, and glory of the one who experiences it, 
or which happens either to give others an object for emulation 
and imitation, or even for the glory of God. On the other 
hand, there is absolute abandonment, when God has done 
everything for a man's salvation, yet the man of his own 
accord remains obdurate and uncured, or rather, incorrigible, 
and is then given over to absolute perdition, like Judas. May 
God spare and deliver us from this sort of abandonment. 

One should furthermore bear in mind that the ways of 
God's providence are many, and that they can neither be 
explained in words nor grasped by the mind. 

One must note that for those who accept them with thanks- 
giving the attacks of adversity redound to salvation and 
definitely become instruments of aid. 

One should also bear in mind that God antecedently wills 
all to be saved and to attain to His kingdom.^^ For He did 

u Cf. 1 Tim. 2.4. 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK TWO 263 

not form us to be chastised, but, because He is good, that 
■we might share in His goodness. Yet, because He is just, He 
does wish to punish sinners. So, the first is called antecedent 
will and approved, and it has Him as its cause; the second 
is called consequent will and permission, and it has ourselves 
as its cause. This last is twofold : that which is by dispensation 
and for our instruction and salvation, and that -which is 
abandonment to absolute chastisement, as we have said. 
These, however, belong to those things which do not depend 
upon us. 

As to the things which do depend upon us, the good ones 
He wlUs antecedently and approves, whereas the evil, which 
are essentially bad. He neither wills antecedently nor con- 
sequently, but permits them to the free will. Now, that which 
is done under compulsion is not rational; neither can it be 
a virtuous act. God provides for all creation, and through 
all creation He does good and instructs, oftentimes using 
even the demons themselves for this purpose, as in the case 
of Job- and in that of the swine.''^ 



Chapter 30 

One should note that God foreknows all things but that 
He does not predestine them all.^ Thus, He foreknows the 
things that depend upon us, but He does not predestine 
them — because neither does He will evil to be done nor does 
He force virtue. And so, predestination is the result of the 
divine command made with foreknowledge. Those things 
which do not depend upon us, however. He predestines in 
accordance with His foreknowledge.^ For, through His fore- 

12 Cf. Job 1.12; Mark 5.13. 

1 Cf. John Chrysostom, Homily 1 on the Obscurity of the Prophecies 
4 {PG 56.171) . 

2 Cf. Acts of St. Maximus (PG 90.137) . 



264 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

knowledge, He has already decided all things beforehand 
in accordance with His goodness and justice. 

One should furthermore note that our nature has been 
endowed by God with virtue, and that He is the source 
and author of all good, without whose co-operation and 
assistance we are powerless either to will good or to do 
it. Moreover, it depends upon ourselves whether we are to 
persevere in virtue and be guided by God who invites us 
to practice it; or whether we are to abandon virtue, which 
is to become attached to vice and be guided by the Devil, 
who, without forcing us, is inviting us to practice vice. For 
evil is nothing else but the absence of good, precisely as dark- 
ness is the absence of light. Consequently, when we persevere 
in what is according to nature, we are in a state of virtue; 
but, when we abandon what is according to nature, that 
is to say, virtue, we come to what is contrary to nature and 
become attached to vice. 

Repentance is a return through discipline and toil from 
that which is against nature to that which is according to 
it, from the Devil to God, 

Now, the Creator fashioned this man as a male and im- 
parted His own divine grace to him, thus putting him in 
communion with Himself. And thus it was that man, like 
a prophet and lord, gave names to the animals which had 
been given him as slaves. For, since he had been made in the 
image of God rational, understanding, and free, it was 
reasonable that he should be entrusted by the common 
Creator and Lord of all with the government over the things 
on earth. 

However, since God knew the future and foresaw that 
man was to fall and be subject to death. He made from him 
a female as a helpmate for him of his own kind to aid him 
in the establishment of the race after the fall by succession 
through the process of begetting. Now, the first forming is 
called 'creation,' not 'begetting.' Creation is the first forming 
by God, whereas begetting is the succession of one from 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK TWO 265 

another made necessary by the sentence of death resulting 
from the fall. 

This man He set in the paradise "which was both of the mind 
and of the senses. Thus, while in his body he lived on earth 
in the world of sense, in his spirit he dwelt among the angels, 
cultivating thoughts of- God and being nurtured on these. 
He was naked because of his innocence and his simplicity 
of life, and through creatures he was drawn up to their only 
Creator, in whose contemplation he rejoiced and took delight. 

Since God had endowed man's nature with a free will. 
He made it a law for him not to taste of that tree of knowl- 
edge of which we have spoken sufficiently and to the best 
of our ability in the chapter on paradise. This command 
He gave to man with the promise that should he let reason 
prevail, recognizing his Creator and observing his Creator's 
ordinance, and thus preserve the dignity of his soul, then 
he would become stronger than death and would live forever 
in the enjoyment of everlasting bliss. On the other hand, 
should he shake oflE the yoke of his Maker and disregard 
His divine ordinance, thus subordinating soul to body and 
preferring the pleasures of the flesh, 'not understanding his 
own honor and compared to senseless beasts,'^ then he would 
be subject to death and corruption and would be obliged 
to drag out his miserable existence in toil. For it was not 
profitable for him to attain incorruptibility while yet untried 
and untested, 'lest he fall into pride and the judgment of 
the devil.'* For it was by reason of his incorruptibility 
that, after his fall by deliberate choice, the Devil became 
unrepentingly and immoveably rooted in evil. In the same 
way again, after their deliberate election of virtue, the angels 
were immutably founded in good by grace. 

And so it was necessary first for man to be tested, since 
one who is untried and untested deserves no credit.' Then, 



3 Ps. 48.13. 

4 1 Tim. 3.6. 

5 Cf. Eccli. 34.11. 



266 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

when trial had made him perfect through his keeping of 
the commandment, he should thus win incorruptibility, the 
reward of virtue. For, since he had been created half way 
between God and matter, should he be freed from his natural 
relationship to creatures and united to God by keeping the 
commandment, then he was to be permanently united to 
God and immutably rooted in good. Should he, on the other 
hand through his disobedience turn his mind away from his 
Author — I mean God — and tend rather toward matter, 
then he' was to be associated with corruption, to become 
passible rather than impassible, and mortal rather than im- 
mortal. He was to stand in need of carnal copulation and 
seminal generation, and because of his attachment to life was 
not only to cling to these pleasures as if they were necessary 
to sustain this life, but also to hate without limit such as 
would think of depriving him of them. And while he was 
to transfer his attachment from God to matter, he was also 
to transfer his anger from the real enemy of his salvation to 
his own kind. And so it was that m^an was overcome by the 
envy of the DevU. For that envious and hateful demon, 
having himself been brought low by his conceit, would not 
suffer us to attain the higher things. So the liar tempted 
that wretched man with the very hope of divinity, and, 
having raised him up to his own heights of conceit, dragged 
him down to the same abyss of ruin. 




BOOK THREE 



Chapter 1 

|ND sOj MAN SUCCUMBED to the assault of the demon, 
the author of evil; he failed to keep the Creator's 
commandment and was stripped of grace and de- 
prived of that familiarity which he had enjoyed with God; 
he was clothed with the roughness of his wretched life — for 
this is what the fig leaves signify — and put on death, that 
is to say, the mortality and grossness of the flesh- — for this 
is what the garment of skins signifies;'- he was excluded from 
paradise by the just judgment of God; and was condemned 
to death and made subject to corruption. Even then the 
Compassionate One, who had given him his being and had 
fa\'ored him with a blessed existence, did not disregard him. 
On the contrary, He first schooled him and exhorted him to 
conversion in many ways- — by groaning and trembling, by 
a flood of waters and the near destruction of the entire race, 
by the confusion and division of tongues, by the tutelage of 
angels, by the destruction of cities by fire, by prefigurative 
divine appearances, by war, victories and defeats, by signs 
and portents, by diverse influences, by the Law and the 
Prophets^, all of which were directed to the destruction of 
that sin which had abounded under many forms and had 
enslaved man and heaped every sort of evil into his life, 

1 Cf. Gen. 3.7,21. 

2 Cf. Gen. 6.13; 11.7; IS.lff; 19. IH; cf. Gregory Nazianzen, Sermon 
38.13 (PG 36.325A). 

267 



268 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

and to his return to the blessed existence . Since it 

was by sin that death had come into the world like some 

wild and savage beast to destroy the life of man, it was 

necessary for the one who was to effect a redemption to be 

sinless and not Uable to the death which is due to sin. And 

it was further necessary for human nature to be strengthened 

and renewed, to be taught by experience, and to learn the 

way of virtue which turns back from destruction and leads 

to eternal life. Finally, the great sea of His benevolence 

toward man was made manifest, for the Creator and Lord 

Himself took up the struggle in behalf of His own creation 

and became a teacher in deed. And, since the enemy had 

caught man with the bait of the hope of divinity, he himself 

was taken with the bait of the barrier of the flesh; and at 

the same time the goodness and wisdom and justice and 

power of God were made manifest. His goodness, because 

He did not despise the weakness of His own handiwork, 

but, when he fell, had compassion on him and stretched 

out His hand to him. His justice, because, when man had 

suffered defeat, He did not have another conquer the tyrant 

nor did He snatch man away from death by force, but He, 

the Good and Just, made him victor against whom death 

had once enslaved through sin; and like He rescued by 

like, which was most difficult to do. And His wisdom, because 

He found the most fitting solution for this most difficult 

problem.* For by the good pleasure of God the Father the 

only-begotten Son and Word of God and God, who is in 

the bosom of God the Father, consubstantial with the Father 

and with the Holy Ghost, existing before the ages, without 

beginning, who was in the beginning and was with God the 

Father and was God,* He, being in the form of God,^ bowed 

down the heavens and descended — ^that is, without lowering 

it. He brought down His exalted sublimity and condescended 

3 Cf. Gregory of Nyssa, Catechetical Discourse 24 (PG 45.65) . 

4 Cf. John 1.1,18. 

5 Cf. Phil. 2.6. 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK THREE 269 

to His servants with an ineffable and incomprehensible con- 
descension, for such is the meaning of the term condescen- 
sion. And He, while being perfect God, became perfect man 
and accomplished the newest of all new things, the only 
new thing under the sun, by which the infinite power of 
God was clearly shown. For what is greater than for God 
to become man? So, without suffering change, the Word 
was made flesh of the Holy Ghost and the holy and ever- 
virgin Mary, Mother of God. And He stands as mediator 
between God and men. He, the only loving One, was con- 
ceived in the immaculate womb of the Virgin not by the 
wiU. of man, nor by concupiscence, nor by the intervention 
of a husband, nor by pleasurable generation, but of the 
Holy Ghost and the first offspring of Adami. And He became 
obedient to the Father by healing our disobedience with that 
which is like to us and which was taken from us, and by 
becoming to us a miodel of that obedience without which 
it is impossible to attain salvation. 



Chapter 2 

Now, an angel of the Lord was sent to the holy Virgin, who 
was descended from the tribe of David, 'for it is evident 
that our Lord sprung out of Juda: of which tribe no one 
attended on the altar,'^ as the divine Apostle said and con- 
cerning which we shall speak more fully later on. Bringing 
the good tidings to her, he said: 'Hail, full of grace, the 
Lord is with thee.' And she was troubled at his saying, 
and the angel said to her: 'Fear not, Mary, for thou hast 
found grace with God, and thou shalt bring forth a son 
and thou shalt call his name Jesus; for he shall save his 
people from their sins.' It is for this reason that the name 
Jesus is interpreted as meaning saviour. And she W2is troubled 
and said: 'How shall this be done to me, because I know 



1 Heb. 7.13,14. 



270 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

not man?' Again the angel spoke to her: 'The Holy Ghost 
shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall 
overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall 
be born to thee shall be called the Son of God.' Then she 
said to him: 'Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it done 
to me according to thy word.'^ 

And so, after the holy Virgin had given her assent, the 
Holy Ghost came upon her according to the Lord's word, 
which the angel had spoken, and purified her and gave her 
the power both to receive the divinity of the Word and to 
beget.^ Then the subsistent Wisdom and Power of the Most 
High, the Son of God, the Consubstantial with the Father, 
overshadowed her like a divine seed and from her most chaste 
and pure blood compacted for Himself a body animated 
by a rational and intellectual soul as first-fruits of our clay. 
This was not by seed, but by creation through the Holy 
Ghost, with the form not being put together bit by bit, but 
being completed all at once with the Word of God Himself 
serving as the person to the flesh. For the divine Word was 
not united to an already self-subsistent flesh,* but, without 
being circumscribed, came in His own person to dwell in 
the womb of the holy Virgin and from the chaste blood 
of the ever-virgin made flesh subsist animated by a rational 
and intellectual soul. Taking to Himself the first-fruits of 
the human clay, the very Word became person to the body. 
Thus, there was a body which was at once the body of God the 
Word and an animate, rational, intellectual body. There- 
fore, we do not say that man became God, but that God 
became man. For, while He was by nature perfect God, 
the same became by nature perfect man. He did not change 
His nature and neither did He just appear to become man. 
On the contrary, without confusion or alteration or division 
He became hypostatically united to the rationally and intel- 

2 Luke 1.28-38. 

3 Cf. Gregory Nazianzen, Sermon 38.13 (PG 36.325B) . 

4 Cf. Proclus of Constantinople, Epistle 2.5 (PG 65.860-861) . 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK THREE 271 

lectually animated flesh which He had from the holy Virgin 
and which had its existence in Him. He did not transform 
the nature of his divinity into the substance of His flesh, nor 
the substance of His flesh into the nature of His divinity, 
and neither did He effect one compound nature out of His 
divine nature and the human nature which He had assumed. 



Chapter 3 

The natures were united to each other without change 
and without alteration. The divine nature did not give up 
its proper simplicity, and the human nature was certainly 
not changed into the nature of the divinity, nor did it be- 
come non-existent. Neither was there one compound nature 
made from the two natures. For the compounded nature can 
in no wise be consubstantial with either one of the natures 
from which it has been compounded, since from diverse na- 
tures it has been made into something else. For example, the 
body, which is made up of the four elements, is not said to be 
consubstantial with fire, nor is it called fire, nor is it caUed 
water or earth or air either, nor is it consubstantial with any 
one of these. Accordingly, if Christ had one compound 
nature after the union,^ having changed from one simple 
nature to a compound one, as the heretics say, then He 
is neither consubstantial with His Father, who has a simple 
nature, nor with His Mother, because she was not composed 
of divinity and humanity. Nor, indeed, will He belong to 
divinity or humanity, nor can He be called God or man, 
but just Christ alone, and, according to them, 'Christ' will 
not be the name of the person but the name of the one 
nature. We, however, declare that Christ has a compound 
nature, not in the sense of something new made from different 
things, as man is made up of body and soul or as the body 

1 Cf. Maximus, Epistle 12 {_PG 91.488-489) ; Leontius, Against the 
Arguments of Severus (PG 86. 1928 A) . 



272 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

is composed of the four elements, but in the sense of being 
made up of different things which remain the same. For 
•we confess that from divinity and humanity there is the 
same perfect God and that He both is and is said to be of 
two natures and in two natures. We say that the term 
'Christ' is the name of the person and that it is not used in 
a restricted sense, but as signifying what is of the two natures. 
Thus, He anointed Himself — as God, anointing His body with 
His divinity, but as man, being anointed, because He is 
both the one and the other. Moreover, the anointing of the 
humanity is the divinity. Now, if Christ, who is consubstantial 
with the Father, has one compounded nature, then the 
Father, too, wUl certainly be compounded and consequently 
consubstantial with the flesh, which is absurd and redolent 
of every blasphemy. 

What is more, how can one nature comprise different 
substances that are contradictory? How is it possible for 
the same nature to be at once created and uncreated, mortal 
and immortal, circumscribed and uncircumscribed? 

Now, were they to say that Christ had one nature and 
that this was simple, then either they would be confessing 
Hirn to be pure God and would be introducing a mere ap- 
pearance that would not be incarnation, or they would be 
confessing Him to be mere man after the manner of Nes- 
torius. Then, where is the perfection in divinity and the 
perfection in humanity? How can they ever say that Christ 
has two natures, whUe they are asserting that after the 
union He has one compound nature? For it is obvious to 
anyone that, before the union, Christ had one nature. 

However, the reason for the herectics' error is their saying 
that nature and hypostasis are the same thing.^ Now, when 
we say that men have one nature, it must be understood 
that we do not say this with the body and soul in mind, 
because it is impossible to say that the soul and the body 
as compared to each other have one nature. Nevertheless, 

2 Cf. Anastasius Sinaite, The Guide 9 (PG 89.l40ff.) . 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK THREE 273 

when we take a number of human hypostases, all of these 
are found to admit of the same basis of their nature. All 
are made up of a soul and a body, aU share the nature of 
the soul and possess the substance of the body, and all have 
a common species. Thus, we say that several different persons 
have one nature, because each person has two natures and 
is complete in these two natures, that is to say, the natures 
of the soul and of the body. 

In the case of our Lord Jesus Christ, however, it is impos- 
sible to have a common species, for there never was, nor is, 
nor ever wUl be another Christ of divinity and humanity, 
in divinity and humanity, the same being perfect God and 
perfect man. Hence, in the case of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
one cannot speak, of one nature made up of divinity and 
humanity as one can in the case of the individual made up 
of soul and body. In this last case we have an individual, 
but Christ is not an individual, because He does not have a 
predicated species of Christness. It is precisely for this reason 
that we say that it was of two perfect natures, the divine 
and the human, that the union was made. It was not made 
by mixing, or mingling, or blending, or compounding as 
was asserted by the fatal Dioscorus, by Eutyches, too, and 
Severus, and their accursed associates; neither was it appar- 
ent (Ttpooco-itiKri) nor relative, nor by dignity or harmony 
of wiU or equahty in honor or identity of name or com- 
plaisance as was asserted by that enemy of God, Nestorius, and 
by Diodorus, too, and Theodore of Mopsuestia, and their 
hellish band. Rather, it was by composition — hypostaticaUy, 
that is to say — without change or mingling or alteration or 
division or separation. And we confess one Person of the 
Son of God incarnate' in two natures that remain perfect, 
and we declare that the Person of His divinity and of His 
humanity is the same and confess that the two natures are 
preserved intact in Him after the union. We do not set each 
nature apart by itself, but hold them to be united to each 

3 Cf. Maximus, Epistle 12 (PG 91.501BC) . 



274 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

Other in one composite Person. For we say that the union 
is substantial; that is to say, true and not imaginary. We do 
not, however, define the substantial union as meaning that 
the two natures go to make up one compound nature, but 
as meaning that they are truly united to each other into one 
composite Person of the Son of God, each with its essential 
difference maintained intact. Thus, that which was created 
remained created, and that which was uncreated, uncreated; 
the mortal remained mortal and the immortal immortal; 
the circumscribed remained circumscribed and the uncir- 
cumscribed, uncircumscribed ; the visible remained visible 
and the invisible, invisible. 'The one glows with miracles, 
while the other has succumbed to insults.'* 

Moreover, the Word makes human things His own, be- 
cause what is proper to His sacred flesh belongs to Him; 
and the things which are His own He communicates to 
His flesh. This is after the manner of exchange on account 
of the mutual immanence of the parts and the hypostatic 
union and because He who 'with each form co-operatLng 
with the other performed'^ both divine and human acts was 
one and the same. Wherefore, the Lord of Glory is even 
said to have been crucified,* although His divine nature 
did not suffer; and the Son of Man is confessed to have 
been in heaven before His passion, as the Lord Himself has 
said.^ For one and the same was the Lord of Glory and He 
who was naturally and truly Son of Man, that is. He who 
became man. And we recognize both the miracles and the 
sufferings as His, even though it was in one nature that He 
worked miracles and in another that He endured suffering. 
For we know that His one Person thus preserves for itself 
the essential difference of the natures. How, indeed, would 
the difference be preserved, were not those things preserved 

4 Leo, Epistle 28.4 (PL 54.768B) . 

5 Ibid. (PL 54.772A) . 

6 Cf. 1 Cor. 2.8. 

7 Cf. John 3.13. 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK THREE 275 

in -which they differ from each other? For diflference is that 
by which things that are different differ. Therefore, we say 
that Christ is joined to the extremes by the fact of His 
natures differing from each other, that is, by the fact of 
His essence. On the one hand, He is joined to the Father 
and the Spirit by His divinity, while on the other He is 
joined by His humanity to His Mother and to all men. 
However, because of the fact that His natures are united, 
we say that He differs both from the Father and the Spirit 
and from His Mother and other men. For His natures are 
united in His Person and have one composite Person, and 
in this He differs both from the Father and the Spirit and 
from His Mother and us. 

Chapter 4 

We have repeteadly said that substance is one thing and 
person another, and that substance means the common 
species including the persons that belong to the same species 
— ^as, for example, God, man — while person indicates an 
individual, as Father, Son, Holy Ghost, Peter, Paul. One 
must furthermore know that the terms divinity and humanity 
are indicative of the substances or natures, but that the 
terms God and man are used in reference to the nature, as 
when we say: 'God is an incomprehensible substance' and 
'God is one.' But these are also taken as referring to the 
persons, with the more particular receiving the name of the 
more general, as when Scripture says: 'Therefore God, thy 
God, hath anointed thee,'^ for in this case it means the 
Father and the Son. And again, when it says: 'There was 
a man in the land of Hus,"" for it means Job only. 

Since, then, in our Lord Jesus Christ we recognize two 
natures and one composite Person for both, when we are 
considering the natures, we call them divinity and humanity. 

1 Ps. 44.8. 

2 Job 1.1. 



276 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

But, when we consider the composite Person of the two 
natures, we sometimes call Christ both God and Man and 
God incarnate, naming Him from both; and sometimes we 
name Him from one of the two and call Him just God and 
Son of God, or just Man and Son of Man. And ako, we 
sometimes name Him from just the sublime attributes and 
sometimes from just the more humble ones. For He is one 
who is alike both the one and the other — the one existing 
uncaused and eternally from the Father; the other come 
into being at a later time because of love for men.' 

Therefore, when we speak of the divinity, we do not at- 
tribute the properties of the humanity to it. Thus, we never 
speak of a passible or created divinity. Neither do we pred- 
icate the divine properties of the flesh, for we never speak 
of uncreated flesh or humanity. In the case of the person, 
however, whether we name it from both of the parts or from 
one of them, we attribute the properties of both the natures 
to it. And thus, Christ — which name covers both together^ — ■ 
is called both God and man, created and uncreated, passible 
and impassible. And whenever He is named Son of God 
and God from one of the parts. He receives the properties of 
the co-existent nature, of the flesh, that is to say, and can be 
called passible God and crucified Lord of Glory"* — not as 
being God, but in so far as the same one is also man. When, 
again, He is named Man and the Son of Man, He is given 
the properties and splendors of the divine nature. He is 
called Child before the Ages and Man without beginning, 
not as a child or a man, but as God, who is before the ages 
and became a child in latter times. Such, then, is the maimer 
of this exchange by which each nature communicates its 
own properties to the other through the identity of their 
person and their mutual immanence. This is how we can 
say of Christ: 'This is our God, who was seen upon earth 

3 Cf. Gregory Nazianzen, Sermon 29.19 (PG 36.100A) . 

4 Cf. 1 Cor. 2.8. 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK THREE 277 

and conversed with men,'° and: 'This man is uncreated, 
impassible, and uncircumscribed.' 



Chapter 5 

In the Divinity we confess one nature, while we hold 
three really existing Persons.''^ And we hold everything be- 
longing to the nature and the essence to be simple, while 
we recognize the difference of the Persons as residing only 
in the three properties of being uncaused and Father, of 
being caused and Son, and of being caused and proceeding. 
And we understand them to be inseparable and without 
interval between them, and united to one another and mu- 
tually immanent without confusion. And we understand 
them, while being separated without interval, to be united 
without confusion, for they are three, even though they are 
united. For, although each is subsistent in itself, that is to 
say, is a perfect Person and has its own property or distinct 
manner of existence, they are united in their essence and 
natural properties and by their not being separated or re- 
moved from the Person of the Father, and they are one 
God and are so called. In the same way, when it comes 
to that divine and ineffable Incarnation of one of the Holy 
Trinity, God the Word and our Lord Jesus Christ, which 
surpasses all understanding and comprehension, while we 
confess two natures, a divine and a human, conjoined with 
each other and hypostatically united, we also confess one 
composite Person made of those natures. We furthermore 
hold that, even after the union, the two natures are pre- 
served intact in the one composite person, that is to say, 
in the one Christ, and that they and their natural properties 
have real existence, being nevertheless united without con- 

5 Bar. 3.36,38. 



1 Cf. Leontius, Against the Arguments of Severus {PG a6.1920-I921) . 



278 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

fusion, differing without separation, and numbered. Now, 
just as the three Persons of the Holy Trinity are united 
without confusion and are distinct without separation and 
have number without the number causing division, or separ- 
ation, or estrangement, or severance among them — for we 
recognize that the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost 
are one God — so in the same way the natures of Christ, 
although united, are united without confusion, and, although 
mutually immanent, do not suffer any change or transform- 
ation of one into the other. For each one keeps its own dis- 
tinctiveness unchanged. Thus, too, they are numbered, yet 
the number does not introduce division. For Christ is one 
and He is perfect both in divinity and humanity. And 
number is not by nature a cause of division or union, but is, 
rather, a sign of the quantity of the things numbered, whether 
they be united or divided. Thus, as an example of things 
that are united, this wall contains fifty stones; or, as an 
example of things that are divided, there are fifty stones 
lying in this field. Or again, as an example of things that are 
united, there are two natures in a coal — ^that of fire, I mean, 
and that of wood; or these may be divided, because the 
nature of fire is one thing and that of wood another. And 
these are not united or divided by their number but in some 
other manner. And so, just as it is impossible to say that 
the three Persons are one Person, even though they are 
united, without bringing about confusion or suppression of 
the difference, so it is impossible to say that the two hypo- 
statically united natures of Christ are one nature without 
our bringing about suppression, confusion, or annihilation 
of their difference. 

Chapter 6 

Things that are common and universal are predicated of 
particulars subordinate to them. Now, the substance as a 
species is a common thing, while the person is a particular. 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK THREE 279 

A thing is a particular not in that it possesses a part of the 
nature, because it does not have such a part, but in that 
it is particular in number, as an individual. Thus, persons 
are said to differ in number but not in nature. The substance, 
moreover, is predicated of the person, because the substance 
is complete in each of the persons of the same species. For 
that reason, persons do not differ from one another in sub- 
stance, but rather in the accidents, which are their character- 
istic properties— characteristic, however, of the person and 
not of the nature. And this is because the person is defined 
as a substance plus accidents. Thus, the person has that 
which is common plus that which is individuating, and, 
besides this, existence in itself. Substance does not subsist 
in itself, but is to be found in persons. Accordingly, when 
one of the persons suffers, then, since the whole nature in 
which the person has suffered is affected, this whole nature 
is said to have suffered in one of its persons. This, however, 
does not necessitate all the persons of the same species suffer- 
ing together with the one that does suffer. 

Thus, then, we confess that the nature of the divinity is 
entirely and completely in each one of its Persons — all in 
the Father, all in the Son, all in the Holy Ghost. For this 
reason, the Father is perfect God, the Son is perfect God, 
and the Holy Ghost is perfect God. In the same way, we 
say that in the Incarnation of one of the Holy Trinity, the 
Word of God, the entire and complete nature of the divinity 
was united in one of its Persons to the entire human nature, 
and not a part of one to a part of the other. And so the 
divine Apostle say that 'in Him dweUeth the fullness of the 
Godhead corporeally,'^ that is to say, in His flesh. And his 
inspired disciple Dionysius, who was most learned in matters 
divine, says that the Divinity in its entirety has community 
with us in one of its Persons.^ But, certainly, let us not be 
constrained to say that all the Persons of the sacred Godhead, 

1 Col. 2.9. 

2 C£. Pseudo-Dionysius, Divine Names 2.6 (PG 3.644BD) . 



280 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

the Three, that is, were hypostatically united to all the persons 
of humanity. For in no wise did the Father and the Holy 
Ghost participate in the incarnation of the Word of God 
except by Their good pleasure and will. We do say that the 
entire substance of the Divinity was united to the entire 
human nature, because God the Word lacked none of those 
things which He implanted in our nature when He formed 
us in the beginning; He assumed them all — a body and a 
rational, intellectual soul, together with the properties of 
both, for the animal which lacks one of these is not a man. 
He in His entirety assumed me in my entirety and was 
wholly united to the whole, so that He might bestow the 
grace of salvation upon the whole. For that which has not 
been assumed cannot be healed.' 

And so, the Word of God is united to the flesh by the 
intermediary of mind which stands midway between the purity 
of God and the grossness of the flesh.* Now, the mind has 
authority over both soul and body, but, whereas mind is the 
purest part of the soul, God is the purest part of mind. And 
when the mind of Christ is permitted by the stronger, then 
it displays its own authority. However, it is under the control 
of the stronger and follows it, doing those things which the 
divine will desires. 

Moreover, the mind became the seat of the Divinity which 
had been hypostatically united to it, just as, of course, the 
flesh did — but not an associate, as the accursed opinion of 
the heretics falsely teaches, when, judging immaterial things 
in a material way, they say that one measure will not hold 
two. But, how shall Christ have been said to be perfect 
God and perfect man and consubstantial both with the Father 
and with us, if a part of the divine nature is united in Him 
to a part of the human nature? 

Furthermore, when we say that our nature rose from the 

3 Cf. Gregory Nazianzen, Epistle 101 (PG 37.181C) 

4 Cf. ibid.. Sermon 38.10 (PG 36J21AC) . 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK THREE 281 

dead and ascended and sat at the right hand of the Father, 
we do not imply that .all human persons arose and sat at 
the right hand of the Father, but that our entire nature did 
so in the Person of Christ. Certainly, the divine Apostle says: 
'He hath raised us up together and hath made us sit together 
in Christ.'^ 

And we also say this: that the union was made of common 
substances. For every substance is common to the persons 
included under it. And it is not possible to find a partial 
and individuating nature of substance, since it would then 
be necessary to say that the same persons were of the same 
substance and of different substances, and that the Holy 
Trinity was in its divinity both of the same substance and of 
different substances. Consequently, the same nature is found 
in each one of the Persons. And when, following the blessed 
Athanasius and Cyril, we say that the nature of the Word 
became incarnate, we are declaring that the Divinity was 
united to the flesh. For this reason, we may by no means 
say: 'The nature of the Word suffered,' because the Divinity 
did not suffer in Him. But we do say that human nature 
suffered in Christ without any implication that all human 
persons did; confessing that Christ suffered in His human 
nature. Thus, when we say 'the nature of the Word,' we 
mean the Word Himself. And the Word possesses the com- 
munity of substance and the individuality of person. 



Chapter 7 

We say, then, that the divine Person of God the Word 
exists before all things timelessly and eternally, simple and 
uncompounded, uncreated, incorporeal, invisible, intangible, 
and uncircumscribed. And we say that it has all things that 
the Father has, since it is consubstantial with Him, and 
that it differs from the Person of the Father by the manner 

5 Eph. 2.6. 



282 



SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 



of its begetting and by relation, that it is perfect and never 
leaves the Person of the Father. But, at the same time, 
we say that in latter times, without leaving the bosom of 
the Father, the Word came to dwell uncircumscribed in 
the womb of the holy Virgin, without seed and without being 
contained, but after a manner known to Him, and in the 
very same Person as exists before the ages He made flesh 
subsist for Himself from the holy Virgin. 

Thus, He was in all things and above all things, and at 
the same time He was existing in the womb of the holy 
Mother of God, but He was there by the operation of the 
Incarnation. And so. He was made flesh and took from her 
the first-fruits of our clay, a body animated by a rational 
and intellectual soul, so that the very Person of God the 
Word was accounted to the flesh. And the Person of the 
Word which formerly had been simple was made composite.'^ 
Moreover, it was a composite from two perfect natures, 
divinity and humanity. And it had that characteristic and 
distinctive property of sonship by which God the Word is 
distinct from the Father and the Spirit, and also had those 
characteristic and distintive properties of the flesh by which 
He is distinct both from His Mother and from the rest of 
men. It further had those properties of the divine nature 
in which He is one with the Father and the Spirit, and 
also had those features of human nature in which He is 
one with His Mother and with us. Moreover, He differs from 
the Father and the Spirit and from His Mother and us in 
yet another way, by His being at once both God and man. 
For this we recognize as a most peculiar property of the 
Person of Christ. 

And so, we confess that even after the Incarnation He is 
the one Son of God, and we confess that the same is the 

1 auvesTOQ uTTOoTaoLc;, or compound hypostasis, an expression used 
by Leontius and meaning that the whole Christ is made up, as It 
were, of two parts or natures, is used in opposition to the Mono- 
physite expression, 'one compound nature of Christ." 



ORTHODOX TAITH : BOOK THREE 283 

Son of Man, one Christ, one Lord, the only-begotten Son 
and Word of God, Jesus our Lord. And we venerate His 
two begettings — one from the Father before the ages and 
surpassing cause and reason and time and nature, and one 
in latter times for our own sake, after our own manner, 
and surpassing us. For our own sake, because it was for the 
sake of our salvation; after our own manner, because He 
was made man from a woman and with a period of gestation ; 
and surpassing us, because, surpassing the law of conception. 
He was not from seed but from the Holy Ghost and the 
holy Virgin Mary. And we do not proclaim Him God alone, 
stripped of our humanity, nor do we despoil Him o£ His 
divinity and proclaim Him man alone. Neither do we 
proclaim Him one and another; rather, we proclaim Him 
to be one and the same, at once both God and man, perfect 
God and perfect man, God entire and man entire — the same 
being God entire, even with His flesh, and man entire, even 
with His most sacred divinity. By saying 'perfect God and 
perfect man' we show the fullness and completeness of the 
natures, while by saying 'God entire and man entire' we 
point out the individuality and the indivisibility o£ the person. 
Following the blessed Cyril," we also confess one incarnate 
nature of the Word of God and by saying 'incarnate' intend 
the substance of the flesh. So, the Word was made flesh 
without giving up His own immateriality and He was wholly 
made flesh while remaining wholly uncircumscribed. With 
respect to His body He becomes small and contracted, while 
with respect divinity He is uncircumscribed, for His body is 
not co-extensive with His uncircumscribed divinity. 

The whole He, then, is perfect God, but not wholly God, 
because He is not only God but also man. Likewise, the 
whole He is perfect man, but not whoUy man, because He 
is not only man but also God. For the 'wholly' is indicative 
of nature, while the 'whole' is indicative o£ person, just as 
'one thing' is of nature, while 'another one' is of person. 

2 Cf. Cyril of Alexandria, Epistle 44 and 46 (PG 77.225B and 241B) . 



284 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

One must know, moreover, that, although we say that 
the natures of the Lord are mutually immanent, we know 
that this immanence comes from the divine nature. For this 
last pervades all things and indwells as it wishes, but nothing 
pervades it. And it communicates its own splendours to the 
body while remaining impassible and having no part in the 
affections of the body. For, if the sun communicates its own 
operations to us, yet has no part in our own, then how much 
more so the Creator of the sun who is the Lord? 



Chapter 8 

Should anyone inquire regarding the natures of the Lord 
as to whether they are reducible to a continuous quantity or 
to a divided one, we shall reply that the Lord's natures are 
neither one solid, nor one surface, nor one line, nor are they 
place or time, so as to be reducible to a continuous quantity 
— for these are the things which are accounted to be con- 
tinuous. 

It must be known, moreover, that number belongs to 
things which differ and that it is impossible for things to 
be numbered which do not differ at all. It is by that in 
which they differ that things are numbered. For example, 
in so far as Peter and Paul are one, they are not numbered. 
Thus, since they are one by reason of their substance, they 
cannot be called two natures. However, since they do differ 
in person, they are called two persons. Hence, things which 
differ have number, and it is according to the manner in 
wiiich they differ that they are numbered. 

Now, whereas the Lord's natures are hypostatically united 
without confusion, they are divided without separation by 
reason and way of their difference. In so far as they are one, 
they have no number, for we do not say that Christ has 
two natures according to person. They are numbered, how- 
ever, by way of their being divided without separation. For 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK THREE 285 

by reason and way of their difference the natures of Christ 
are two. Thus, being hypostatically one and mutually im- 
manent, they are united without confusion with each one 
preserving its own natural difference. And so, since they are 
numbered by way of their difference only, it is in that way 
that they will be reducible to a divided quantity. 

Christ, then, who is perfect God and perfect man, is one.'- 
Him do we adore with the Father and the Spirit together 
with His immaculate body in one adoration. And we do not 
say that His body is not to be adored, because it is adored 
in the one Person of the Word who became Person to it. 
Yet we do not worship the creature, because we do not 
adore it as a mere body, but as being one with the divinity, 
because His two natures belong to the one Person and the 
one subsistence of the Word of God. I am afraid to touch 
the burning coal because of the fire which is combined with 
the wood. I adore the combined natures of Christ because 
of the divinity which is united to the body. Thus, I do not 
add a fourth person to the Trinity — God forbid! — ^but I do 
confess the Person of the Word of God and of His flesh to 
be one. For, even after the Incarnation of the Word, the 
Trinity remained Trinity. 

To those who inquire as to whether the two natures are 
reducible to a continuous or divided quantity? 

The Lord's natures are neither one solid, nor one surface, 
nor one line, nor are they place or time, so as to be reducible 
to a continuous quantity — for these are the things which are 
accounted to be continuous. Moreover, the Lord's natures 
are hypostatically united without confusion and they are 
divided without separation by recison and way of their dif- 

1 Cf. Cyril o£ Alexandria. Defense of the Anathemas against Theodoret 
8 {PG 76.429AB). 

2 This is found in most manuscripts after Book 4.9, but it is more 
logically placed here by Lequien. 



286 . SAINT JOHN or DAMASCUS 

ference. In so far as they are one, they have no number. For 
we do not say that Christ's natures are two Persons or that 
they are two according to Person. They are numbered, how- 
ever, by way of their being divided without separation. For 
there are two natures by reason and way of their difference. 
Thus, being hypostatically one and mutually immanent, they 
are united without any confusion or transformation of one 
into the other and with each preserving its own natural dif- 
ference for itself. For the created remained created and the 
uncreated uncreated. And so, since they are numbered by 
way of thfeir difference only, it is in that way that they will 
be reducible to a divided quantity. For it is impossible for 
things to be numbered which do not differ at all. It is by 
that in which they differ that things are numbered. For 
example, in so far as Peter and Paul are one, they are not 
numbered. Thus, since they are one by reason of their sub- 
stance, they neither are two natures nor are they so called. 
However, since they do differ in person, they are called two 
persons. And so their difference is the cause of their number. 



Chapter 9 

Now, although there is no nature without subsistence 
(dvuTroaxaToq) or substance without person, because both 
the substance and the nature are only to be found in sub- 
sistences and persons, it is unnecessary for natures hyposta- 
tically united to each other to be provided each with its 
own subsistence. For they can concur in one subsistence 
without being non-subsistent, yet not having each its own 
individuating subsistence, but both having one and the same.^ 
Thus, since the same Person of the Word belongs to both 
natures, it does not aUow one of them to lack subsistences, 
nor is it now the Person of one and now that of the other. 
On the contrary, it is always indivisibly and inseparably 

1 Cf. Leontius, On Sects 7.2 (PG 86,1241 BC) . 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK THREE 287 

Person of both, and is not distributed and divided by the 
allotment of one part of itself to the one nature and another 
part to the other, but belongs indivisibly and entirely all to one 
and all to the other. For the flesh of the Word of God was 
not independently subsistent nor was there any other person 
besides that of the Word of God. On the contrary, it was 
in the Person of the Word that the flesh subsisted, or, rather, 
had personality (evuTtoaxaxoc;), and it did not become an 
independently subsisting person in itself. For this reason, it 
neither lacks personality nor introduces another person into 
the Trinity. 

Chapter 10 

It follows from the preceding that we consider blasphemous 
the addition made to the Thrice-Holy Hymn^ by that stupid 
Peter the Fuller, because it introduces a fourth person and 
makes the Son of God partly the subsistent power of the 
Father and partly the crucified One — as if this last were 
another than the Strong, or as if the Holy Trinity was held 
to be passible and the Father and the Holy Ghost to have 
been crucified along with the Son. Away with this blas- 
phemous interpolated nonsense! We understand the 'Holy 
God' as referring to the Father, and yet we do not restrict 
the appellation of divinity to Him alone, but recognize the 
Son and the Holy Ghost to be God, also. The 'Holy Strong' 
we take as referring to the Son, yet we do not strip the 
Father and the Holy Ghost of their strength. And the 'Holy 
Immortal' we apply to the Holy Ghost without excluding 
the Father and the Son from immortality, but understanding 
all the divine attributes as referring to each of the Persons. 
In this we are faithfully imitating the Apostle when he says: 
'Yet to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are 
all things, and we of him: and one Lord Jesus Christ, by 

1 For the Trisagion Hymn see the Introduction and J. Bingham, 
Antiquities of the Christian Church (London 1865) 688-689. 



288 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

whom are all things, and we by him: and one Holy Ghost, 
in whom are all things, and we in him,'" and in the same 
way Gregory the Theologian, who somewhere says: 'To us 
there is one God the Father, from whom are all things, and 
one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and 
one Holy Ghost, in whom are all things." And the 'from 
whom,' 'through whom,' and 'in whom' do not divide the 
natures, for in that case the prepositions and the order of 
the names would not be changeable. Rather, they designate 
the properties of one unconfused nature. This is also clear 
from the fact that they are found brought together into one 
again, when one reads with attention that passage from the 
same Apostle that runs: 'Of him, and by him, and in him 
are all things: to him be glory for ever. Amen.'^ 

Moreover, the divine and holy Athanasius,^ and Basil, 
Gregory, and the whole choir of inspired Fathers bear witness 
to the fact that the Thrice-Holy Hymn is not addressed to 
the Son alone, but to the Holy Trinity, saying that by the 
threefold sanctification the holy Seraphim are intimating to 
us the three Persons of the supersubstantial Godhead. And 
by the one dominion they are making known the one sub- 
stance and kingdom of the divinely sovereign Trinity. Cer- 
tainly, Gregory the Theologian says: 'Thus, then, the Holy 
of Holies, which is veiled by the Seraphim, is glorified with 
three sanctifications converging into one dominion and God- 
head, which has also been most beautifully and sublimely 
discussed by a certain other of our predecessors.' ° 

Now, those who have compiled the history of the Church'^ 
relate how once, when Proculus was archbishop, the people 
of Constantinople were making public entreaty to avert some 
threat of the divine wrath, and it happened that a child was 

2 1 Cor. 8.6. 

3 Gregory Nazianzen, Sermon 39.12 {PG 36.348A) . 

4 Rom. 11.36. 

5 Cf. Athanasius, On the Text of Matthew 11.27 6 (PG 25.217C-220A) . 

6 Gregory Nazianzen, Sermon 38.8 (PG 36.320BC) . 

7 Cf. Theophanes, Chronography, a.ni. 5930 (PG 108.244ff.) . 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK THREE 289 

taken up out of the crowd and by some angelic choirmasters 
was taught the Thrice-Holy Hymn after the following 
fashion : 'Holy God, Holy Strong, Holy Immortal, have mercy 
on us.' When the child came back again and told what he 
had been taught, the whole crowd sang the hymn and the 
threat was averted. And it is traditional that the Thrice- 
Holy Hymn was also sung in this manner at the holy and 
great Fourth Ecumenical Council — that which was held in 
Chalcedon, I mean — for so it is reported in the acts of this 
same holy council.* So it is really a silly and childish thing 
for the Thrice-Holy Song, which was taught by the angels, 
confirmed by the averting of the disaster, ratified and guar- 
anteed by the council of so many holy Fathers, and sung 
first of all by the Seraphim to express the Godhead in three 
Persons, to have been trampled upon, as it were, and sup- 
posedly corrected by the absurd conceit of the Fuller — as if 
he were greater than the Seraphim. Oh, what presumption — 
not to call it madness! However, though the demons may 
burst, we, too, will say in this way: 'Holy God, Holy Strong, 
Holy Immortal, have mercy on us.' 



Chapter II 

The nature may either be taken purely theoretically, since 
it is not self-subsistent ; or it may be taken as what is common 
to persons of the same species and connects them, in which 
case it is said to be a nature taken specifically; or the same, 
with accidents added, may be considered wholly in one 
person, in which case it is said to be a nature taken individ- 
ually, which is the same as that taken specifically. Now, when 
God the Word became incarnate. He did not assume His 
human nature as taken in a purely theoretical sense — for 
that would have been no real incarnation, but a fraudulent 
and fictitious one. Nor did He assume it as taken specifically, 

8 C£. Mansi, Sacrorum conciliorum nova et amplissima collectio 6.936C. 



290 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

because He did not assume all persons. But He did assume 
it as taken individually, which is the same as that taken 
specifically. For He assumed the first-fruits of our clay not 
as self-subsistent and having been an individual previously 
and as such taken on by Him, but as having its subsistence 
in His Person. Thus, this Person of the Word of God became 
Person to the flesh, and in this way 'the Word was made 
flesh,^ and that without any change, and the flesh without 
transformation was made Word, and God was made man. 
For the Word is God, and man is God by virtue of the 
hypostatic union. It is therefore the same thing to say 'the 
nature of the Word' as it is to say 'the nature taken individ- 
ually,' for it properly and exclusively shows not the individual, 
the Person, that is to say, nor that which is common to the 
Persons, but the common nature as found and discovered 
in one of the Persons. 

Now, union is one thing and incarnation another. This 
is because union shows the joining, but not that with which 
the junction is made. Incarnation, however, is the same 
thing as is meant by saying becoming man, and it shows 
a joining with the flesh, that is, with man — just as the firing 
of the steel implies the union with fire. Thus, in explaining 
the expression 'one incarnate nature of the Word of God,' 
the blessed Cyril himself in his second letter to Succensus 
says as follows: 'If we were to speak of one nature of the 
Word but were to keep silent and not add the "incarnate," 
thus setting aside, as it were, the dispensation, then they 
perhaps would not be speaking entirely without reason who 
might pretend to ask: "If one nature is the whole, then 
where is the perfection in humanity?" or: "How did the 
substance which is like ours subsist?" However, since by 
saying "incarnate" both the perfection in humanity and the 
indication of the substance like ours have been introduced, 
let them cease to lean on their reedy staff.'^' Here, then, he 

1 John 1.14. 

2 Cyril of Alexandria, Epistle 46 (PG 77.244A) . 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK THREE 291 

has used the 'nature' of the Lord in the sense of nature. 
This is evident because, if he had taken the nature in the 
sense of Person, it would not have been out of place to say it 
without the "incarnate," for we are not wrong when we simply 
say 'one Person of the Word of God.' What is more, Leon- 
tius of Byzance' has likewise understood the expression in 
the same way as meaning nature, but not nature in the 
sense of person. And the blessed Cyril himself, in his defense 
against Thieodoret's attacks on the Second Anathema, speaks 
thus: 'The nature of the Word, that is to say, the Person, 
which is the Word Himself.'* Consequently, to say 'the 
nature of the Word' is not to signify the person alone, nor 
what is common to the Persons, but the common nature 
as considered wholly in the Person of the Word. 

Now although it has been said that the nature of the 
Word became incarnate, that is, was united to the flesh, we 
have never heard up to now that the nature of the Word 
suffered in the flesh. We have, however, been taught that 
Christ suffered in the flesh. Consequently, saying 'nature 
of the Word' does not signify the Person. So it remains to 
say that to have become incarnate means to have been united 
to the flesh, and that the Word was made flesh means that 
without suffering change the very Person of the Word became 
Person of the body. And again, although it has been said 
that God was made man and man God — for the Word, 
while being God, was made man without suffering change, 
yet we have never heard at all that the Godhead was made 
man, or was incarnate, or put on human nature. We have, 
however, learned that the Godhead was united to humanity 
in one of Its Persons. It has also been said that God takes 
on another form, or substance — ours, that is to say. For 
the name God applies to each one of the Persons, but we 
cannot say Godhead in reference to a Person, because we 

3 Cf. Leontius, On Sects 8.2 (PC 86.I252D-1253A) . 

4 Cyril of Alexandria, Defense of the Anathemas against Theodoret 
2 (PG 76.401A). 



292 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

have not heard that the Godhead is the Father alone, or 
the Son alone, or the Holy Ghost alone. This is because 
Godhead indicates the nature, whereas Father indicates the 
Person, just as humanity indicates the nature, and Peter the 
person. The name God, moreover, also signifies the com- 
munity of nature and is applied to each of the Persons like 
a surname, just as the word man is. For God is one who 
possesses a divine nature, and man is one who possesses a 
human one. 

Furthermore, in connection with all this one must know 
that the Father and the Holy Ghost in no way participate 
in the Incarnation of the Word, unless it be in miracles 
and by complaisance and wiU.° 



Chapter 12 

And we proclaim the holy Virgin to be properly and truly 
Mother of God (©sotokoc;) .^ For, as He who was born 
of her is true God, so is she truly Mother of God who gave 
birth to the true God who took His flesh from her. Now, 
we do not say that God was born of her in the sense that 
the divinity of the Word has its beginning of being from her, 
but in the sense that God the Word Himself, who was 
timelessly begotten of the Father before the ages and exists 
without beginning and eternally with the Father and the 
Holy Ghost, did in the last days come for our salvation to 
dwell in her womb and of her was, without undergoing 
change, made flesh and born. For the holy Virgin did not 
give birth to a mere man but to true God, and not to God 
simply, but to God made flesh. And He did not bring His 
body down from heaven and come through her as through a 
channel, but assumed from her a body consubstantial with us 

5 Ct. Pseudo-Dionysius, Divine Names 2.6 (PG 3.644BC) . 



1 Ct. Gregory Nazianzen, Epistle 101 (PG 37.177-178) . 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK THREE 293 

and subsisting in Himself. Now, had the body been brought 
down from heaven and not been taken from our nature, was 
there any need for His becoming man? God the Word was 
made man for this reason : that that very nature which had 
sinned, fallen, and become corrupt should conquer the tyrant 
who had deceived it. Thus should it be freed from corrup- 
tion, as the divine Apostle says: 'For by a man came death: 
and by a man the resurrection of the dead.'- If the first was 
true, then so is the second. 

If, however, he also says: 'The first Adam was, of earth, 
earthly: the second Adam, the Lord, from heaven,'^ he is 
not saying that the body is from heaven.'' But it is obvious 
that He is not a mere man, for notice how he called Him. 
both Adam and Lord — thus indicating that He is both to- 
gether. For Adam is interpreted as meaning born of earth, 
and it is obvious that man's nature is born of earth because 
it was formed from dust. On the other hand, the name 
Lord is expressive of the divine substance. 

And again, the Apostle says: 'God sent his only-begotten 
Son, made of a woman.'" He did not say by a woman, but 
of a woman. Therefore, the divine Apostle meant that the 
one made man of the Virgin was Himself the only-begotten 
Son of God and God, and that the Son of God and God 
was Himself the one born of the Virgin. And he further 
meant that, in so far as He was made man. He was bom 
corporeally and did not come to inhabit a previously formed 
man, as a prophet, but Himself substantially and truly be- 
came man, that is. He made flesh animated by a rational 
and intellectual soul subsist in His person and Himself be- 
came the Person to it. Now, that is what 'made of a woman' 
means, for how would the Word of God Himself have been 

2 1 Cor. 15.21. 

3 I Cor. 15.47. 

4 Cf. Gregory Narianzen, op. cit. (PG 37.18IBC) . 

5 Gal. 4.4. 



294 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

made under the law, had it not been that He was made a 
man of the same substance as ourselves? 

Hence, it is rightly and truly that we call holy Mary 
the Mother of God, for this name expresses the entire mystery 
of the Incarnation. Thus, if she who gave birth is Mother of 
God, then He who was born of her is definitely God and also 
definitely man. For, had He not become man, how could 
God whose existence is before the ages have been born of 
a woman? And that the Son of Man is a man is quite 
evident. Moreover, if He who was born of a woman is God, 
then it is quite evident that the very one who in respect 
to His divine and unoriginated nature was begotten of God 
the Father, and the one who in the last times was born of 
the Virgin in respect to his originated and temporal nature 
— His human nature, that is — are one. And this means that 
our Lord Jesus Christ has one Person, two natures, and 
two begettings. 

However, under no circumstances do we call the holy 
Virgin Mother of Christ (Xpia-roTOKoq).'' This is because 
that vessel of dishonor, that foul and loathsome Jew at heart, 
Nestorius, invented this epithet as an insult to do away with 
the expression Mother of God and — though he burst with 
his father Satan — to bring dishonor upon the Mother of 
God, who alone is truly worthy of honor above all creation. 
And David is 'Christ,' too, and so is the high priest Aaron, 
because the royal and priestly offices are both conferred by 
anointing. Furthermore, any God-bearing (08O(f>6poq) man 
may be called 'Christ,' yet he is not by nature God, which 
is why the accursed Nestorius was so insolent as to call Him 
who was born of the Virgin 'God-bearing.' But God forbid 
that we should ever speak or think of Him as God-bearing; 
rather, let it be as God incarnate.^ For the very Word of 
God was conceived of the Virgin and made flesh, but con- 
tinued to be God after this assumption of the flesh. And, 

6 Cf. Cyril of Alexandria, Epistle 1 {PG 7720li.) . 

7 Cf. Cyril of Alexandria, Against Nestorius 2 (PG 76.60A) . 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK THREE 295 

simultaneously with its coming into being, the flesh was 
straightway made divine by Him. Thus three things took 
place at the same time: the assuming of the flesh, its coming 
into being, and its being made divine by the Word. Hence, 
the holy Virgin is understood to be Mother of God, and is 
so called not only because of the nature of the Word but 
also because of the deification of the humanity simultaneously 
with which the conception and the coming into being of 
the flesh were wondrously brought about — the conception 
of the Word, that is, and the existence of the flesh in the 
Word Himself. In this the Mother of God, in a manner 
surpassing the course of nature, made it possible for the 
Fashioner to be fashioned and for the God and Creator of 
the universe to become man and deify the human nature 
%vhich He had assumed, while the union preserved the things 
united, just as they had been united, that is to say, not 
only the divinity of Christ but His humanity, also; that 
which surpassed us and that which was like us. Now, it 
was not first made like us and then made to surpass us. On 
the contrary, it was always both from its first beginning of 
being, because from the first instant of conception it had 
its existence in the Word Himself. Therefore, while by its 
own nature it is human, it is also of God and divine in a 
naanner surpassing the course of nature. And what is more, 
it possessed the properties of the living flesh, since by reason 
of the Incarnation the Word recei\'ed them as truly natural 
in the order of natural motion. 



Chapter 13 

Since we confess our Lord Jesus Christ to be at once both 
perfect God and perfect man, we declare that this same 
One has all things that the Father has, except the being 
unbegotten, and, with the sole exception of sin, all that the 
first Adam has; namely, a body and a rational and intel- 



296 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

lectual soul. We furthermore declare that corresponding to 
His two natures He has the twofold set of natural properties 
belonging to the two natures — two natural wills, the divine 
and the human; two natural operations, a divine and a 
human; two natural freedoms, a divine and a human; and 
wisdom and knowledge, both divine and human. For, since 
He is consubstantial with God the Father, He freely wills 
and acts as God. And, since He is also consubstantial with 
us, the same one freely wills and acts as man. Thus, the 
miracles are His, and so are the sufferings. 



Chapter 14 

Since, then, Christ has two natures, we say that He has 
two natural wills and two natural operations. On the other 
hand, since these two natures have one Person, we say that 
He is one and the same who wills and acts naturally according 
to both natures, of which and in which is Christ our God, 
and which are Christ our God. And we say that He wills 
and acts in each, not independently, but in concert. 'For in 
each form He wills and acts in communion with the other.'^ 
For the will and operation of things having the same sub- 
stance is the same, and the will and operation of things 
having different substances is different.^ Conversely, the sub- 
stance of things having the same will and operation is the 
same, whereas that of things having a different will and 
operation is different. 

Thus, in Father and Son and Holy Ghost we discover 
the identity of nature from the identity of the operation 
and the will. In the divine Incarnation, on the other hand, 
we discover the difference of the nature from the difference 
of the wills and operations, and knowing the difference 

1 Leo, Epistle 28.4 (PG 54.768B) . 

2 Cf. Maximus, Disputation with Pyrrhus {PG 91.313D-316A,337B) . 



ORTHODOX faith: BOOK THREE 297 

of the natures we confess the difference of the wills and 
operations. For, just as the number of the natures piously 
understood and declared to belong to one and the same 
Christ does not divide this one Christ, but shows that 
the difference of the natures is maintained even in 
the union, neither does the number of the wills and opera- 
tions belonging substantially to His natures introduce any 
division — God forbid — for in both of His natures He wills 
and acts for our salvation. On the contrary, their number 
shows the preservation and maintenance of the natures 
even in the union, and this alone. We do not call the 
wills and operations personal, but natural. I am referring 
to that very faculty of willing and acting by force of which 
things which will will and things which act act. For, 
if we concede these to be personal, then we shall be forced 
to say that the three Persons of the Holy Trinity differ in 
will and operation. 

Now, one must know that willing is not the same thing 
as how one wills? This is because willing, like seeing, is of 
the nature, since it belongs to all men. How one wills, how- 
ever, does not belong to nature but to our judgment, just 
as does how one looks at something, whether it be favorably 
or unfavorably. All men do not will alike, nor do they see 
things alike. And this we shall also concede in the case of the 
operations, for how one wills or sees or acts is a mode of the 
use of willing or seeing or acting, and this mode belongs 
to the user alone and distinguishes him from the others in 
accordance with what is commonly called the difference. 

Consequently, simple willing is called will, or the volitive 
faculty, which is a natural will and rational appetite. But 
how one wills, or the subject of the volition, is the object 
willed and will based on judgment. And that is volitive 
which has it in its nature to wiU. For example, the divine 
nature is volitive, and so is the human. And finally, he is 
willing who uses the volition, and that is the person; Peter, 
for example. 

3 Cf. ibid. (PG 91.292C) . 



298 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

Thus, since Christ is one and has one Person, the divinely 
willing in Him and the humanly willing are one and the 
same.* Nevertheless, since He has two natures which are 
volitive because they are rational, for everything that is 
rational is both volitive and free, we shall say that in Him 
there are two volitions, or natural wills. For the same one is 
volitive in both of His natures, since He assumed the volitive 
faculty which is inherent in our nature. Furthermore, since 
Christ is one and it is the same who wills in either nature, 
we shall say that the thing willed is the same. In saying this, 
we do not mean that He willed only what He willed naturally 
as God, for it is not of the nature of God to will to eat, drink, 
and the like; we mean that He also willed the things which 
go to make up human nature, not by any contradiction of 
judgment, but in accordance with the pecularity of the na- 
tures. For, when His divine will willed and permitted the 
flesh to suffer and to do what was peculiar to it, He willed 
these things naturally. 

Now, that the will naturally belongs to man is evident 
from the following consideration.^ Not counting the divine, 
there are three kinds of life: the vegetative, the sensitive, and 
the intellectual. Proper to the vegetative are the motions of 
nutrition, growth, and reproduction; proper to the sensitive 
is the motion by impulse; and proper to the rational and 
intellectual is the free motion. Therefore, if the nutritive 
motion is proper to the vegetative life and the impulsive to 
the sensitive, then surely the free motion is proper to the 
rational and intellectual. But, freedom of motion is nothing 
else but the will. Consequently, since the Word was made 
flesh animate, intellectual, and free. He was also made 
volitive. 

Again, things which are natural are not acquired by learn- 
mg, for no one learns to reason or live or hunger or thirst 

4 Cf, ihid. {PC. 91.289 AC). 

5 Cf. ihid. {PG 91.301) . 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK THREE 299 

or sleep. And neither do we learn to will. Hence, it is natural 
to will. 

And again, if, while nature rules in irrational beings, it 
is ruled in man who is freely moved by his will, then man is 
by nature volitive. 

Still, again, if man has been made after the image of the 
blessed and supersubstantial Godhead, then, since the divine 
nature is naturally free and volitive, man as its image is 
also free and volitive by nature. For the Fathers have defined 
free will as volition. 

Furthermore, if to will is inherent in all men and not 
present in some while absent in others, then, since what is 
found to be common to all is a characteristic of a nature 
in the individuals possessing that nature, man is by nature 
volitive.'' 

And again, if the nature does not admit of more or less, 
and if to will is inherent in all and is not more in some 
while less in others, then man is by nature volitive. And so, 
if man is by nature volitive, the Lord, too, is by nature 
volitive, not only in so far as He is God but also in so far 
as He was made man. For, just as He assumed our nature, 
so also has He assumed our natural will. And it is in this 
sense that the Fathers say that He impressed our will in 
Himself. 

If the will is not natural, it will either be personal or be 
against nature. But, if it is personal, then the Son will have 
a different will from that of the Father, because that which 
is personal is characteristic of the person alone. And if it is 
again.st nature, there will be a defect in the nature, because 
what is against nature is destructive of what is according 
to nature. 

Now, the God and Father of all things either wills as 
Father or as God. But, if He wills as Father, His will will 
be other than that of the Son, because the Son is not the 
Father. If, however. He wills as God, and the Son is God 

e Cf. ilJid. (PG 91.301Cn). 



300 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

and the Holy Ghost is also God, then the will will belong to 
the nature; that is to say, it will be natural. 

Furthermore, if, as the Fathers say,'' those things that have 
one will have one substance, and if Christ's divinity and 
humanity have one will, then the substance of the divinity 
and that of the humanity will be one and the same. 

And again, if, as the Fathers say, the natural difference 
does not appear in the one will, we must either say that there 
is one will in Christ and no natural difference, or that there 
is a natural difference and more than one will. 

And still again, as the holy Gospel relates, the Lord went 
'into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon: and entering into a 
house, he would that no man should know it. And he could 
not be hid." So, if His divine will was all-powerful and yet 
He was unable to conceal Himself when He willed to, then 
it was when willing as man that He was unable to, and as 
man also He was volitive. 

And again, it says: 'Coming to the place he said: I thirst. 
And they gave him wine to drink mixed with gall. And when 
he had tasted, he would not drink.'' Now, if it was as God 
that He thirsted and having tasted did not want to drink, 
then as God He was subject to passion, for thirst is a passion 
and so is taste. If, however, it was not as God, then it was 
entirely as man that He thirsted, and as man also He was 
volitive. 

There is also the blessed Apostle Paul, who says : 'Becoming 
obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross.' ^^ This 
obedience was a submission of what was really His will and 
not of what really was not, for we may not call an irrational 
being either obedient or disobedient. However, the Lord 
became obedient to the Father not in so far as He was God, 
but in so far as He was man. For, as God, He is neither 

7 Cf. Gregory of Nyssa and others, cited by the Council of Constant. 3 
(Oec. 6), Mansi, op. cit. 11.400f£. 

8 Mark 7.24. 

9 Matt. 27.33-34; cf. Maximus, op. cit. (PG 91.321AB) . 
10 Phil. 2.8. 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK THREE 301 

obedient or disobedient, because obedience or disobedience 
belong to such as are subject to authority, as the inspired 
Gregory has said.-^^ Then, as man also, Christ was volitive. 

Moreover, when we speak of the natural will, we mean 
that it is not constrained but free — for, if it is rational, it 
is also absolutely free. For there is not only the uncreated 
divine nature which is not subject to constraint, but there 
is also the created intellectual nature which is not so either. 
And this is obvious, because, although God is by nature 
good and creative and God, He is not these things by nec- 
essity — for who was there to impose the necessity? 

It is furthermore necessary to know that the term freedom 
of will is used equivocally — ^sonaetimes being referred to God, 
sometimes to the angels, and sometimes to men." Thus, 
with God it is supersubstantial, but with the angels the execu- 
tion coincides with the inclination without admitting of any 
interval of time at all. For the angel has freedom by nature 
and he is unhampered in its exercise because he has neither 
the opposition from a body nor has he anyone to interfere 
with him. With men, however, it is such that the inclination 
precedes the execution in point of time. This is because, 
though man is free and has this freedom of will naturally, 
he also has the interference of the Devil to contend with 
and the motion of the body. Consequently, because of this 
interference and the burden of the body, the execution comes 
after the inclination. 

If, then, Adam willingly gave ear, and willed and ate, 
then the will was the first thing to suffer in us. But, if the 
will was the first thing to suffer, and if, when the Word 
became incarna'te, He did not assume it, then we have not 
been made free from sin. 

And still further, if the nature's power of free will is His 
work, and yet He did not assume it, it was either because He 
condemned His own creation as not being good or because 

11 Cf. Gregory Nazianzen, Sermon 30.6 (PG 36.109BC) . 

12 Cf. Maximus, op. cit. {PG 91.234D-325A) . 



302 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

He begrudged us our being healed in it. And while He 
deprived us of perfect healing, He showed Himself subject 
to suffering without willing or without being able to save 
us perfectly. 

It is furthermore impossible to speak of one thing composed 
of two wills in the same way that we speak, of a person 
composed of its natures. This is because, in the first place, 
compounds are made of things that have their own sub- 
sistence and are not found to exist by virtue of another 
principle than their own; whereas, in the second place, if 
we are to speak of a composition of wills and operations, 
we shall be forced to admit a composition of the other natural 
properties, such as the uncreated and the created, the invisible 
and the visible, and so on. And besides, what will the will 
that is composed of the wills be called? For it is impossible 
for the compound to be given the name of the things of which 
it is composed, since in such a case we should call that which 
is composed of the natures a nature and not a person. And 
further, should we speak of one compound will in Christ, 
then we are making Him distinct from the Father in will, 
because the will of the Father is not compound. Accordingly, 
it remains for us to say that only the Person of Christ is com- 
pound, in so far as it is composed of His natures and His 
natural properties as well. 

And, should we wish to speak literally, it would be im- 
possible to speak of opinion (Yvcb|ar|) and choice in the Lord. 
For the opinion resulting from the inquiry and deliberation, 
or counsel and judgment, in respect to the unknown thing 
is a disposition toward the thing judged. After the opinion 
comes the choice which selects and chooses one thing rather 
than the other. Now, since the Lord was not a mere man, 
but was also God and knew all things, He stood in no need 
of reflection, inquiry, counsel, or judgment. He also had a 
natural affinity for good and antipathy for evil.^^ Thus, it 
is in this sense that the Prophet Isaias, too, says: 'Before 

13 Cf. Basil, Homily on Psalm 44.8 (PG 29.405B) . 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK THREE 303 

the child shall know to refuse the evil, he will choose the 
good. For before the child know to refuse the evil, and to 
choose the good, he will reject the evil by choosing the good.'^* 
The 'before' shows that he made no inquiry or investigation 
in a human manner, but that, since He was God and divinely 
subsisted in the flesh — that is to say, was hypostatically united 
to the flesh — by the fact of His very being and His knowing all 
things He naturally possessed the good. Now, the virtues are 
natural, and they are also naturally inherent in all men, even 
though all of us do not act naturally. For, because of the 
fall, we went from what is according to nature to what is 
against it. But the Lord brought us back from what is against 
nature to what is according to it — for this last is what is 
meant by 'according to his image and likeness.'^^ Now, 
asceticism and the labors connected with it were not intended 
for the acquisition of virtue as of something to be introduced 
from the outside, but for the expulsion of evil, which has 
been introduced and is against nature — just as the steel's 
rust, which is not natural but due to neglect, we remove 
with hard toil to bring out the natural brightness of the steel. 
Moreover, one must know that the word yvco^r), or 
opinion, is used in many ways and with many meanings. 
Thus, it sometimes means advice^ as when the divine Apostle 
says: 'Now, concerning virgins, I have no commandment 
of the Lord: but I give counsel .'^° Sometimes it implies 
design, as when the Prophet David says: 'They have taken 
a malicious counsel against thy people.'^' Sometimes it means 
judgment, as when Daniel says: 'Why so cruel a sentence 
had gone forth.'^' And sometimes it is used in the sense 
of faith, or notion, or of intent — to put it simply, the word 
YVco^T] has twenty-eight different meanings. 

14 Cf. Isa. 7.16. 

15 Gen. 1.26. 

16 1 Cor. 7.25. 

17 Ps. 82.4. 

18 Dan. 2.15. 



304 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

Chapter 15 

Now, we also say that in our Lord Jesus Christ there are 
two operations.^ For, in so far as He was God and consub- 
stantial with the Father, like the Father He had the divine 
operation; in so far as He was made man and consubstantial 
with us, He had the operation of the human nature. 

However, one must know that operation is one thing, what 
is operative another, which is operated another, and still 
another the operator. Operation, then, is the efficacious and 
substantial motion of the nature. And that which is operative 
is the nature from which the operation proceeds. That which 
is operated is the effect of the operation. And the operator 
is the one who performs the operation; the person, that is. 
However, the term operation is also used for the eflfect, and 
the term for the effect for the operation, as 'creation' is used 
for 'creature.' For in that way we say 'all creation," meaning 
'all creatures.' 

One must know that the operation is a motion and that 
it is operated rather than operating, as Gregory the Theo- 
logian says in his sermon on the Holy Ghost: 'But if He is 
an operation, then He will obviously be operated and will 
not operate. And, as soon as He has been effected. He will 
cease. '^ 

It is further necessary to know that life itself is an opera- 
tion, and the primary operation of the animal. So also is 
the whole vital process — the motions of nutrition and growth, 
or the vegetative;^ the impulsive, or the sensitive; and the 
intellectual and free motions. Operation, moreover, is the 
perfection of a potentiality. So, if we find all these things in 
Christ, then we shall declare that He also has a human 
operation. 

1 The operation, or energy, is the capacity or power to act inherent 
in every nature. 

2 Gregory Nazianzen, Sermon 31.6 (PG 36.140A) . 

3 By a misprint the Migne text has 'natural' for the 'vegetative' of 
Lequien's original text. 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK THREE 305 

The first thought (vornua) formed in us is called an 
operation. It is a simple unrelated operation by which the 
mind of itself secretly puts forth those thoughts of its own 
without which it could not rightly be called mind (voGc;). 
And again, that is also called an operation which is the ex- 
pression and explanation of what has been thought by means 
of speech utterance. This, however, is no longer unrelated 
and simple. On the contrary, since it is composed of thought 
and speech, it is found to be in a relation. And the very 
relation which the doer has to the thing done is also an opera- 
tion. And the thing itself which is effected is called an opera- 
tion. Now, the first of these belongs to the soul alone, the next 
to the soul as using the body, the next to the body as endowed 
with an intellectual soul, and the last of them is the effect. 
Thus, the mind first considers the thing to be done and 
then acts accordingly through the body. So, it is to the 
soul that the control belongs, since it uses the body as an 
instrument which it guides and directs. The operation of the 
body as guided and moved by the soul, however, is a dif- 
ferent one. And as to the effect, while that of the body is, 
as it were, the touching, holding, and clasping of the thing 
made, that of the soul is the thing's formation and configura- 
tion. It was also the same with our Lord Jesus Christ. While 
the power of working miracles was an operation of His divi- 
nity, the work of His hands. His willing, and His saying: 
'I will. Be thou made clean,'* were operations belonging to 
His humanity. And as to the effect, the breaking of the loaves, 
the hearing the leper, and the 'I will' belong to His human 
nature, whereas to His divine nature belong the multiplica- 
tion of the loaves and the cleansing of the leper. Now, by 
both, that is, by the operation of the soul and that of the 
body. He showed His divine operation to be one and the 
same, akin and equal. And just as we know that the natures 
are united and mutually immanent and still do not deny 
their difference, but even number them, while we know 

4 Matt. 8.3. 



306 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

them to be indivisible; so also do we know the connection 
of the wills and operations, while we recognize their dif- 
ference and number them without introducing any division. 
For, as the flesh was made divine, yet suffered no change 
in its own nature, in the same way the will and operation 
were made divine, yet did not exceed their proper limits. 
For He is one who is both the one thing and the other and 
who wills and acts in both one way and the other, that 
is to say, both in a divine and in a human fashion. 

Accordingly, because of the duality of His nature, it is 
necessary to affirm two operations in Christ. For things having 
diverse natures have different operations, and things having 
diverse operations have different natures. And conversely, 
things having the same nature have the same operation, and 
things having one operation have also one substance, as the 
inspired Fathers declare. Consequently, we must do one of 
two things: either we shall say that there is one operation 
in Christ and then say that His substance is one; or, if we 
keep to the truth, we shall confess with the Gospels and the 
Fathers that there are two substances, and at the same 
time we shall be confessing that there are also two operations 
corresponding to these. For, since in His divinity He is con- 
substantial with God the Father, He will also be equal to 
Him in His operation. On the other hand, since in His 
humanity He is consubstantial with us. He will also be equal 
to us in His operation. Indeed, the blessed Gregory, who 
was Bishop of Nyssa, says: 'Things having one operation 
very definitely have the same potentiality, also.'^ For every 
operation is the perfection of a potentiality. Moreover, it is 
impossible for there to be one nature, potentiality, or opera- 
tion belonging both to an uncreated nature and to a created 
one. And, were we to say that Christ has one nature, we 

5 Lequien assigns this to the Oratio de natura et hypostasi of Gregory 
of Nyssa, which is really Basil's Epistle 38 {On the Difference 
between Substance and Hypostasis) , {PG 32.325-340) , but which 
does not contain the present quotation. It probably is from Gregory's 
Against Eunomius I (cf. PG 45.373-CD) . 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK THREE 307 

should be attributing the passions of the intellectual soul to 
the divinity of the Word — fear, I mean, and grief, and 
anguish. 

However, should they say that in discussing the Blessed 
Trinity the holy Fathers said: 'Things having one substance 
also have one operation, and things which have different 
substances also have different operations,' and that one must 
not transfer to the human nature what belongs to the divine, 
we shall reply as follows. If this was said by the Fathers in 
respect to the divinity only, then the Son does not have the 
same operation as the Father and He is not even of the same 
substance. And, what is more, to whom shall we attribute 
the words: 'My Father worketh until now, and I work'; 
and 'What things soever he seeth the Father doing, these 
things the Son also doth in like manner'; and 'If you do 
not beheve me, believe my works'; and 'The works which 
I do give testimony of me'; and 'As the Father raiseth up 
the dead and giveth life: so the Son also giveth life to whom 
He will'?' For all these show that even after the Incarnation 
He is not only consubstantial with the Father but also has 
the same operation.'' 

And again, if the providence exercised over creatures 
belongs not only to the Father and the Holy Ghost, but 
also to the Son even after the Incarnation, and if this is an 
operation, then even after the Incarnation He has the same 
operation as the Father. 

And if from His miracles we perceive Christ to be of the 
same substance as the Father, and if miracles are an operation 
of God, then even after the Incarnation He has the same 
operation as the Father. 

And if His divinity and His flesh have one operation, it 
will be composite, and either He will have a different opera- 
tion from that of the Father, or the Father's operation will 

6 John 5.17,19; 10-38; 5.36,21. 

7 Cf. Maximus, op. cit {PG 91.348D-349A) . 



308 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

be composite, too. But, if the Father's operation is composite, 
it is obvious that His nature will be, too. 

And, if they were to say that the introduction of the opera- 
tion requires that of a person along with it,* we should 
reply that, if the introduction of the operation requires that 
of a person along with it, then by logical conversion the 
introduction of the person will require that of an operation 
along with it. In such a case, since there are three Persons, 
or hypostases, in the Holy Trinity, theie will also be three 
operations; or, since there is one operation, there will also 
be one Person and one hypostasis. But the holy Fathers were 
all agreed in declaring that things having the same substance 
also have the same operation. 

What is more, if the introduction of the operation requires 
that of a person, then those who decreed that neither one 
nor two operations be affirmed in Christ* in doing so ordered 
that neither one nor two persons be affirmed in Him. 

And then, just as the natures of both the fire and the steel 
are preserved intact in the red-hot knife,"-" so also are there 
two operations and their effects. For, while the steel has its 
cutting power, the fire has its power of burning; and the 
cut is the effect of the operation of the steel, while the burn 
is that of the operation of the fire. And the distinction between 
these is preserved in the burnt cut and the cut bum, even 
though the burning of the cut does not take place separately 
after the union, and the cut is not made separately from 
the burn. Neither do we say that because of the twofold 
natural operation there are two red-hot knives, nor do we 
destroy their substantial difference because of the singleness 
of the red-hot knife. In just the same way there is in Christ 
both the divine and all-powerful operation of His divinity, 
and that after our own fashion, which is that of His humanity. 

8 Cf. ibid. (PC 91.337B) . 

9 The Ecthesis, published in 638 \iy Emperor Heraclius, forbade the 
use of the expression of one or two operations in Christ, but asserted 
one will. This precipitated the Monothelite schism (640-657) . 

10 Cf. Maximus, op. cit. (PG 91.337D-340A) . 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK THREE 



309 



Thus, the child's being taken by the hand and drawn up^'^ 
was an effect of His human operation, whereas her being 
restored to Hfe was an effect of His divine operation. For 
the latter is one thing and the former another, even though 
they are inseparable in the theandric operation. What is 
more, if, because the Person of the Lord is one, His operation 
must also be one, then because of the one Person there must 
also be one substance. 

Again, if we were to affirm one operation in the Lord, 
we should be saying that this was either divine or human 
or neither.^^ Now, if we say that it is divine, we shaE be 
saying that He is only God and devoid of our humanity. 
And if we say that it is human, we shall be uttering the 
blasphemy that He is mere man. But, if we say that it is 
neither divine nor human, we shall be saying that He is 
neither consubstantial with the Father nor with us. For the 
identity of person came from the union, without in any way 
destroying the difference of the natures. And, if the dif- 
ference of the natures is kept intact, their operations will 
plainly be kept so, also, because there is no nature without 
any operation. 

If the operation of the Lord Christ is one,-^^ then it will 
be either created or uncreated; for, just as there is no inter- 
mediate nature between the created and the uncreated, 
neither is there any such operation. Therefore, if it is created, 
it will show only a created nature; if it is uncreated, it will 
indicate an uncreated substance only. This is because the 
natural properties must correspond with the natures abso- 
lutely, since the existence of a defective nature is impossible. 
The natural operation, moreover, does not come from any- 
thing outside the nature and it is obvious that the nature can 
neither exist nor be known without its natural operation. 

11 Cf. Luke 8.54. 

12 Maximus, op. cit. {PG 91.340C) . 

13 Cf. ibid. {PG 91.341A) . 



310 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

For, by remaining invariable in its operations, each thing 
gives proof of its own nature. 

If Christ's operation is one, then the same operation can 
do divine and human things. But, no being acting according 
to nature can do things which are contrary. Thus, fire does 
not make hot and cold, nor does water make wet and dry. 
How, then, did He, who is God by nature and who became 
man by nature, both work the miracles and experience the 
passions with one operation? 

Now, if Christ assumed a human mind, that is to say, a 
rational and intellectual soul, He certainly thinks and will 
always think. But, thinking is an operation of the mind. 
Therefore, Christ acts as a man also and will always so act. 
The most wise and great St. John Chrysostom in the 
second homily of his commentary on the Acts says this: 'No 
one should be wrong in calling His suffering an action. For 
by suffering all things He did that great and wonderful work 
of destroying death and working all the rest.'^* 

If every operation is defined as a substantial motion of 
some nature, as those who are well versed in these matters 
have clearly laid down, where has anyone seen a nature 
without a motion or without any operation at all, or where 
has anyone found an operation which is not a motion of 
a natural power? And, according to the blessed Cyril,^^ no 
one in his right mind would hold the natural operation of 
God and of a creature to be one. It is not the human nature 
that restores Lazarus to life, nor is it the power of the divinity 
that sheds tears. For tears are peculiar to humanity, whereas 
life belongs to the Subsistent Life. Nevertheless, by reason 
of the identity of the person each one of these actions is 
common to both natures. ^^ For Christ is one, and one is 
His Person, or hypostasis. Nevertheless, He has two natures: 
that of His divinity and that of His humanity. Consequently, 

14 Homily 1 on the Acts S {PG 60.18) . 

15 Cf. Thesaurus 32.2 {PG 75.453B) . 

16 Cf. Leo, Epistle 28.4 {PL 54.772A) . 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK THREE 311 

the glory which proceeds naturally from the divinity became 
common to both by reason of the identity of person, while 
the humble things proceeding from the flesh became common 
to both. For He is one and the same who is both the one 
thing and the other, that is, both God and man; and to 
the same one belong both what is proper to the divinity 
and what is proper to the humanity. Thus, while the divinity 
worked the miracles but not separately from the flesh, the 
flesh did the humble things but not apart from the divinity. 
Thus, also, while remaining impassible, the divinity was 
joined to the suffering flesh and made the sufferings salutary. 
And the sacred mind was joined to the acting divinity of the 
Word and thought and knew the things which were being 
done. 

Therefore, the divinity communicates its excellences to the 
flesh while remaining with no part of the sufferings of the 
flesh. For His flesh did not suffer through the divinity in 
the same way that the divinity acted through the flesh, 
because the flesh served as an instrument of the divinity. So, 
even though from the first instant of conception there was 
no divisions whatsoever of either form, but all the actions 
of each form at all times belonged to one Person, we never- 
theless in no way confuse these things which were done in- 
separably. On the contrary, from the nature of the works 
we perceive to which form they belong. 

And so, Christ acts through each of His natures and in 
Him each nature acts in communion with the other. '^'^ The 
Word does whatever pertains to the kingdom and the prin- 
cipality, which is what belongs to Him by reason of the 
authority and the power of His divinity, while the body in 
accordance with the intent of the Word united to it does 
what has also become proper to it. Now, the body of itself 
had no inclination for physical suffering, nor yet did it avoid 
and refuse to accept what was painful. Neither was it affected 
by external influences; rather, it was moved in accordance 

17 Cf. ibid. (PL 54.768B) . 



312 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

with the order of its nature, with the Word wisely willing 
and permitting it to suffer and do what was proper to it, 
so that through its works the truth of its nature might be 
guaranteed. 

Moreover,^* even as He was conceived of a virgin and 
put on substance in a way that transcended substance, so 
does He also do human things in a way that transcends 
the human — as when He walked with His earthly feet upon 
unstable water which had not become earth but by the 
supernatural power of His divinity was made firm and did 
not yield to the weight of material feet. He did not do 
human things in a human way, because He was not only 
man, but God, also, which is the reason why His sufferings 
were life-giving and saving. Neither did He do divine things 
in a divine way, because He was not only God, but man, 
also, which is the reason why He worked miracles by touch 
and word and other such things. 

And should someone say^' that we do not hold one opera- 
tion in Christ because we do away with the human opera- 
tion, but because the human operation as contrasted with 
the divine is called passion, and in this sense we say that 
there is one operation in Christ — should they say this: We 
shall reply that by this token they who hold one nature do not 
dd so in the sense of doing away with the human nature, but 
because the human nature as contrasted with the divine is 
called passible. God forbid that we should call the human 
motion passion just because of its contrast with the divine 
operation. For, generally speaking, nothing is known or 
defined as having its real existence from contrast or com- 
parison. In such a case, things which exist would be found 
to be mutually causative of each other. Thus if, because the 
divine motion is action, the human is passion, then it will 
definitely follow that, because the divine nature is good, the 

18 Cf. Pseudo-Dionysius, Divine Names 2.10, Epistle 4 (PG 3.648-619; 
1072) . 

19 Cf. Maximus, op. cit. (PG 91.349C) . 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK THREE 3 1 3 

human will be evil. Conversely, because the human motion 
is called passion, the divine is called action; and because 
human nature is evil, the divine will be good. What is more, 
all creatures will thus be evil, and he will be a liar who 
said : 'And God saw all the things that he had made, and they 
were very good.'^° 

Now we say that the holy Fathers gave the human motion 
a variety of names, depending upon the fundamental con- 
cept in question." Thus, they called it both power, operation, 
difference, movement, property, quality, and passion. And 
they did not do this by way of contrast to the divine motion. 
On the contrary, they called it power, in so far as it is sus- 
taining and unchangeable; operation, as being distinctive 
and showing the invariability in all things of the same species; 
difference, as being defining; motion, as being indicative; 
property, as being component and as belonging to this alone 
and not to some other; quality, as being specific; and passion, 
as being moved. For all things which are from God and after 
Him are subject to being moved, since they are not motion 
or force itself. Consequently, it was not so named by contrast, 
as has been said, but after the principle that was put in it 
at its creation by the cause which framed the universe. For 
this reason, it was called operation, even when mentioned 
together with the divine motion. For what else did he do, 
who said: 'For each form acts in communion with the 
other,'^^ than he who said: 'And he had fasted forty days 
and forty nights, afterwards he was hungry'^' — for, when 
He wished. He permitted His nature to do what was proper 
to it? Or what else did he do than those who said that 
there was a different operation in Him, or a twofold opera- 
tion, or one and another? For by the opposition of terms 
these expressions signify two natures, since the number is 

20 Gen. 1.31. 

21 Cf. Maximus, op. cit. (PG 91.325AE) . 

22 See above, note 17. 

23 Matt. 4.2. 



314 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

oftentimes indicated by the opposition of terms, just as well 
as it is by saying 'divine and human.' Thus, the difference 
is a difference of things which differ. And how can things 
differ which do not exist? 



Chapter 16 

Since each individual man is made up of two natures — 
that of the soul and that of the body — and has these un- 
changed in himself, it will be reasonable to say that he has 
two natures. For even after the union he retains the natural 
property of each. Thus, the body is not immortal but cor- 
ruptible, and the soul is not mortal but immortal. Neither 
is the body invisible, nor is the soul visible to bodily eyes. 
On the contrary, the latter is rational and understanding 
and incorporeal, whereas the former is material and visible 
and irrational. Moreover, things which are distinct in sub- 
stance do not have the same nature; consequently, the soul 
and the body are not of the same substance. 

And again, if man is a rational mortal animal, and if every 
definition designates the natures defined, and if, furthermore, 
that which is rational is not the same as that which is mortal 
as respects the concept of nature, then by the norm of his 
own definition man will not have one nature. 

Now, should man at times be said to have one nature, 
the term 'nature' is being taken in the sense of 'species.' 
Thus, we say that one man does not differ from another 
by any difference in nature, because, to the contrary, all 
men fall under the same definition, in so far as they all are 
composed of body and soul and have the same makeup, 
each individual being two constituent natures. And this is 
not unreasonable, because the divine Athanasius in his dis- 
course against the blasphemers of the Holy Ghost said that 
all created things have the same nature, when he wrote to 
the effect that the Holy Ghost is over and above creation 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK THREE 315 

and that it is possible to see clearly that, while in relation 
to the nature of created things He is something else, to the 
divinity He is proper.^ Everything that is found to be com- 
mon to several things without being more in one and less 
in another is said to be essence. Therefore, since every man 
is made up of a soul and a body, in this sense men are said 
to have one nature. As regards the Person of the Lord, how- 
ever, we cannot speak of one nature, because even after the 
union each nature retains its natural property and it is not 
possible to find a species of Christs. For there has been no 
other Christ made of divinity and humanity, the same being 
both God and man. 

And again, the specific unity of man is not the same thing 
as the substantial unity of soul and body. For the specific 
unity of man shows the invariable element in all men, whereas 
the substantial unity of soul and body destroys their very 
being and reduces them to absolute non-existence. For either 
the one will be transformed into the substance of the other, 
or from two different things a third will be made, or they 
will remain within their proper limits and be two natures. 
For it is not by reason of its substance that the body is 
identical with that which is incorporeal. Consequently, when 
people speak of one nature in man, not on account of the 
identity of the substantial quality of the body with that of 
the soul, but on account of the invariability of the individuals 
falling under the species, they do not also have to say that 
in Christ, in whom there is no species comprising several 
persons, there is one nature. 

And further, every composite is said to be composed of 
those things which have been put together directly. Thus, 
we do not say that the house is composed of earth and 
water, but of bricks and wood. Otherwise, we should also 
have to say that man is made up of five natures at least, 
of the four elements, that is, and of a soul. So also, in the 

1 Athanasius, Epistle 1 to Serapion 12,17^2 et passim (PG 26.561,569, 
581, et al.) . 



316 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

case of our Lord Jesus Christ we do not consider the part 
or parts, but those which have been put together directly — 
the divinity and the humanity. 

Further, if by saying that man is two natures we shall be 
forced to say that there arc three natures in Christ, then you, 
too, by saying that man is of two natures will be teaching 
that Christ is of three natures. And it will be the same way 
with the operations, because the operation must correspond 
with the nature. Witness to the fact that man is said to and 
does have two natures is Gregory the Theologian, who says:^ 
'God and man are two natures, as, indeed, are soul and 
body.' Also, in his sermon on baptism he says as follows: 
'Since we are twofold, being of soul and body — of the visible 
and of the invisible nature — so also is the purification two- 
fold: by water and by the Holy Ghost.' 



Chapter 17 

One should know that it is not by a transformation of 
nature or by change or alteration or mingling that the Lord's 
flesh is said to have been deified and made identical with 
God and God, as Gregory the Theologian says: 'The one of 
•whom did deify, while the other was made divine and, I 
may confidently say, identical with God. And that which 
anointed became man, and that which was anointed became 
God."^ This was by no transformation of nature but by the 
union through dispensation, the hypostatic union, I mean, 
by which the flesh is inseparably united to God, the Word, 
and by the mutual indwelling of the natures such as that 
we also speak of in the case of the heating of the steel. For, 
just as we confess that the Incarnation was brought about 
without transformation or change, so also do we hold that 

2 Epistle 101 (PG 37.180A) ; Sermon 40.8 (PG 36.368AB) . 



1 SeTinon 45.13 {PG 36.640D-641A) . 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK THREE 317 

the deification of the flesh was brought about. For the Word 
neither overstepped the bounds of His own divinity nor the 
divine prerogatives belonging to it just because He was made 
flesh; and, when the flesh was made divine, it certainly did 
not change its own nature or its natural properties. For even 
after the union the natures remained unmingled and their 
properties unimpaired. Moreover, by reason of its most un- 
alloyed union with the Word, that is to say, the hypostatic 
union, the Lord's flesh was enriched with the divine opera- 
tions but in no way suffered any impairment of its natural 
properties. For not by its own operation does the flesh do 
divine works, but by the Word united to it, and through it 
the Word shows His own operation. Thus, the steel which 
has been heated burns, not because it has a naturally acquired 
power of burning, but because it has acquired it from its 
union with the fire.^ 

And so the same flesh was mortal in itself and life-giving 
by its hypostatic union with the Word. Likewise, we say 
that the deification of the will was not by a transformation 
of its natural motion, but by its becoming united with His 
divine and almighty will and being the will of God made 
man.' It was for this reason that, when He wished to be 
hid, He could not of Himself,^ because it pleased God the 
Word that it be shown that in Himself He had the weakness 
of the human will. However, it was by willing that He 
worked the cure of the leper,^ and this because of the union 
with the divine wiU. 

One must furthermore know that the deification of the 
nature and the will is very expressive and indicative of the 
two natures and the two wills. For, just as heating does not 
transform the nature of the thing heated into that of fire, 
but, rather, brings out both the thing heated and the thing 
heating and shows not one thing but two, so neither does 

2 Maximus, op. cit. {PG 91.3S7D-340A) . 

3 Cf. Gregory Nazianzen, Sermon 30.12 (PG S6.117C-120A) . 

4 Cf. Mark 7.24. 

5 Cf. Matt. 8.3. 



318 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

the deification produce one compound nature, but, rather, 
the two natures and their hypostatic union. In fact, Gregory 
the Theologian says: 'The one of whom did deify, while 
the other was made divine,'^ where by saying 'of whom' 
and 'the one' and 'the other' he showed that there were two. 



Chapter 18 

When we say that Christ is perfect God and perfect man 
we are attributing to Him absolutely all the natural properties 
which belong to the Father and to His Mother. For He 
became man in order that that which had been conquered 
might conquer. Now, it was not impossible for Him who 
can do all things to deliver man from the tyrant by His 
almighty power and might; but, had the tyrant after having 
conquered man been prevailed over by God, he would have 
had grounds for complaint. For this reason the compassionate 
and loving God wished to make the victor him who had 
fallen, and so He became man and restored like by like. 

Moreover, no one will deny that man is a rational and 
intellectual animal. How, then, did He become man if He 
assumed a soulless body or a mindless soul? For that sort of 
thing is no man. Further, what profit do we have from the 
Incarnation if he who was the first to suffer has not been 
saved, renewed, or strengthened by being conjoined with 
the Godhead? For that which has not been assumed has not 
been healed. And so, He assumes the whole man, who had 
fallen through weakness, and his most noble part, in order 
that He might grace the whole with salvation.-"- What is 
more, there never could be a mind without wisdom and 
bereft of knowledge, for, were the mind without operation 
and motion, it would also be absolutely non-existent. 

6 Sermon 45.9 {PG 36.633D) . 



1 Cf. Gregory Nazianzen, Epistle 101, passim (PG 37.176f£) . 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK THREE 319 

God the Word, then, wishing to restore that which was in 
His image, became man. But what is in His image, if it is 
not the mind? Did He, then, disregard what was better and 
assume what was worse? For mind stands midway between 
God and the flesh as being a companion of the flesh on the 
one hand and on the other an image of God. Thus, mind 
is associated with Mind and the mind holds the middle 
place between purity of God and the grossness of the flesh. 
And, had the Lord assumed a mindless soul, He would have 
assumed the soul of a brute animal. 

Now, although the Evangelist did say that the Word was 
made flesh, one must know that in sacred Scripture man is 
sometimes called 'soul,' as when it says that 'all the souls of 
the house of Jacob, that entered into Egypt, were seventy- 
five,'^ and sometimes 'flesh,' as when it says that 'all flesh shall 
see the salvation of God.'^ So, the Lord was not made flesh 
without soul or mind, but He was made man. In fact, He says: 
'Why do you seek to kUI me, a man who have spoken truth 
to you?'^ Therefore, He assumed a body animated by a 
rational and intellectual soul having dominion over the flesh, 
but itself being under the dominion of the divinity of the 
Word. 

Consequently, while He had naturally the power of willing 
both as God and as man, the human will followed after 
and was subordinated to His will, not being motivated by 
its own opinion, but willing what His divine will willed. 
Thus, it was with the permission of the divine will that He 
suffered what was naturally proper to Him.^ And when He 
begged to be spared death, He did so naturally, with His 
divine will willing and permitting, and He was in agony and 
afraid. Then, when His divine will willed that His human will 
choose death, the passion was freely accepted by it, because it 
was not as God alone that He freely delivered Himself over to 

2 Gen. 46.27 (Septuagint) . 

3 Luke 3.6. 

4 John 8.40. 

5 Cf. Sophronius, Synodic Letter (PG 87.3173B) . 



320 SAINT JOHN or DAMASCUS 

death, but as man, also. Whence, He also gave us the grace of 
courage in the face of death. Thus, indeed. He says before His 
saving passion: 'Father, if it is possible, let this chalice 
pass from me.'^ It was manifestly as man that He was to 
drink the chalice, for it was not as God. Consequendy, it 
is as man that He wishes the chalice to pass, and these are 
words arising from a natural fear. 'But yet not my will, but 
thine be done,''' that is to say: 'In so far as I am of another 
substance than thine, but thine, which is mine and thine 
in so far as I am begotten consubstantial with thee.' Again, 
these are the words of courage. For, since by His good 
pleasure the Lord had truly become man, His soul at first 
experienced the weakness of nature and through sense per- 
ception felt a natural pain at the thought of its separation 
from the body; then it was strengthened by the divine will 
and faced death courageously. For, since He was entirely 
God with His humanity and entirely man with His divinity, 
He as man in Himself and through Himself subjected His 
humanity to God the Father and became obedient to the 
Father, thus setting for us a most noble example and pattern. 
Moreover, He willed freely with His divine and His human 
will, for free will is absolutely inherent in every rational 
nature. After all, of what good can rationality be to a nature 
that does not reason freely? Now, the Creator has implanted 
a natural appetite in brute beasts which constrains them to 
act for the preservation of their own nature. For, since they 
lack reason, they cannot lead; rather, they are led by their 
natural appetite. Whence it is that the instinct to act arises 
simultaneously with the appetite, for they enjoy neither the 
use of reason nor that of counsel or reflection or judgment. 
For this reason they are neither praised and deemed good 
for practicing virtue nor punished for doing evil. The 
rational nature, however, has its natural appetite, which 

6 Matt. 26.39. 

7 Luke 22.42. 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK THREE 321 

becomes aroused, but is guided and controlled by the reason 
in regard to what is for the maintenance of the natural order. 
This, namely free will, is an advantage of the power cA 
reason and we call it a natural motion in the reasoning 
faculty. Wherefore, the rational nature is both praised and 
deemed good for practicing virtue and punished for practicing 
vice. 

And so, the Lord's soul was freely moved to will, but it 
freely willed those things which His divine will willed it to 
will. For the flesh was not moved by the command of the 
Word in the same way that Moses and all the saints were 
moved by the divine command. On the contrary, since the 
same one was both God and man. He willed according to 
His divine and His human will. Wherefore, it was not in 
opinion that the Lord's two wills differed from each other, but 
in natural power. For His divine will was without beginning 
and all-creating and having the corresponding power, and 
it was impassible. But his human will had a beginning in 
time and was itself subject to natural and irreprehensible 
passions. Although by its own nature it was not omnipotent, 
it was so in so far as it had been made to belong truly and 
naturally to God the Word. 



Chapter 19 

When the blessed Dionysius said that Christ had used a 
certain new theandric operation with us,'^ he was not doing 
away with the natural operations and saying that there was 
one operation proceeding from the human and divine natures. 
For, if such were the case, we might also say that there was 
one new nature made from the human and the divine, be- 
cause, according to the holy Fathers, things which have one 
operation also have one substance. On the contrary, he 
wanted to show that the new and ineffable manner of the 



1 Cf. Epistle 4 {PG 3.1072C) . 



322 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

manifestation of the natural operations in Christ was con- 
sonant with the mutual indwelling of Christ's natures in each 
other, and that His living as a man was both unusual and 
incredible and unknown to the nature of things. He also 
wanted to show the manner of the exchange arising from 
the ineffable union. Thus, we do not say that the operations 
are separated and that the natures act separately, but we 
say that they act conjointly, with each nature doing in com- 
munion with the other that which it has proper to itself. 
He did not perform the human actions in a human way, 
because He was not a mere man, nor did He perform the 
divine actions in a divine way only, because He was not just 
God, but God and man together. And just as we understand 
both the union of the natures and their natural difference, 
so also do we understand that of the natural wills and 
operations. 

So that one must know that while we sometimes speak 
as of two natures in our Lord Jesus Christ, we sometimes 
speak as of one person, and that both the former way of 
speaking and the latter refer to the same concept. For the 
two natures are one Christ and the one Christ is two natures. 
It is therefore the same thing to say that Christ acts according 
to each of His natures and to say that each nature in Christ 
acts in association with the other. Accordingly, when the flesh 
is acting, the divine nature is associated with it because the 
flesh is being permitted by the good pleasure of the divine will 
to suffer and do what is proper to it and because the operation 
of the flesh is absolutely salutary — which last does not belong 
to the human operation, but to the divine. And when the 
divinity of the Word is acting, the flesh is associated with it, 
because the divine operations are being performed by the 
flesh as by an instrument and because He who is acting at 
once in a divine and human way is one. 

One should furthermore know that His sacred mind per- 
forms His natural operations, both understanding and know- 
ing itself to be the mind of God and adored by all creation, 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK THREE 323 

but at the same time still mindful of His doings and sufCerings 
on earth. It is, moreover, associated with the operation of the 
divinity of the Word by which the universe is ordered and 
controlled, understanding and knowing and ordering not as 
a mere human mind, but as one hypostatically united to 
God and reckoned as the mind of God. 

Thus, the theandric operation shows this: when God be- 
came man, that is to say, was incarnate. His human operation 
was divine, that is to say, deified. And it was not excluded 
from His divine operation, nor was His divine operation 
excluded from His human operation. On the contrary, each 
is found in the other. Now, when one expresses two things 
with one word, this figure of speech is called circumlocution 
(TtepLtlipaaLq).- Thus, while we speak of the cut burn and 
the burnt cut of the red-hot knife, we nevertheless hold the 
cutting to be one operation and the burning another, the one 
belonging to one nature and the other to the other — the burn- 
ing to the fire and the cutting to the steel. In the very same 
way, when we speak of one theandric operation of Christ, 
we understand the two operations of His two natures: the 
divine operation of the divinity and the human operation 
of the humanity. 

Chapter 20 

Moreover, we confess that He assumed all the natural and 
blameless passions of man. This is because He assumed the 
whole man and everything that is his, except sin — for this 
last is not natural and it was not implanted in us by the 
Creator. On the contrary, it grew up in our will from the 
oversowing of the Devil, freely and not prevailing over us 
by force. Now, those passions are natural and blameless 
which are not under our control and have come into man's 
life as a result of the condemnaliion occasioned by his fall. 
Such, for example, were hunger, thirst, fatigue, pain, 

2 Cf. Maximus, Opuscula (PG 91.100D) . 



324 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

the tears, the destruction, the shrinking from death, the fear, 
the agony from which came the sweating and drops of 
blood, the aid brought by the angels in deference to the 
weakness of His nature, and any other such things as are 
naturally inherent in all men. 

So, He assumed all that He might sanctify all. He was put 
to the test and He conquered that He might gain for us the 
victory and give to our nature the power to conquer the 
Adversary, so that through the very assaults by which the 
nature had been conquered of old it might conquer its 
former victor. 

Now, the Evil One attacked from the outside, just as he 
had with Adam, and not through thoughts — for it was not 
through thoughts that he attacked Adam, but through the 
serpent. The Lord, however, repelled the attack and it van- 
ished like smoke, so that by being conquered the passions 
which had assailed Him might become easy for us to conquer 
and the new Adam thus be restored by the old. 

Actually, our natural passions were in Christ according to 
nature and over and above nature. Thus, it was according 
to nature that they were aroused in Him, when He permitted 
the flesh to suffer what was proper to it; whereas it was 
over and above nature, because in the Lord the things of 
nature did not control the will. For with Him nothing is 
found to be done under compulsion; on the contrary, every- 
thing was done freely. Thus, it was by willing that He hun- 
gered and by willing that He thirsted, by willing that He 
was afraid and by willing that He died. 



Chapter 21 

One should know that He did assume an ignorant and 
servile nature, and this is because man's nature is subservient 
to God who made it, and it does not have knowledge of 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK THREE 325 

future events. If, then, like Gregory the Theologian,^ you 
distinguish what is seen from what is thought, then the flesh 
will be said to be servile and ignorant. However, by reason 
of the identity of person and the inseparable union, the Lord's 
soul enjoyed the knowledge of future events as well as the 
Other signs of divinity. For, just as the flesh of men is not 
of its own nature life-giving, whereas that of the Lord, being 
hypostatically united to God the Word Himself, became 
life-giving by reason of its hypostatic union with the Word 
without losing its natural mortality, and we cannot say that 
it was not and is not always so; in the same way, while 
His human nature did not of its essence have knowledge of 
future events, the Lord's soul, by reason of its union with 
God the Word Himself and the identity of person, did, as 
I have said, enjoy, along with the other signs of divinity, 
the knowledge of future events, also. 

One must furthermore know that we can by no means 
call Him servile, because the terms 'servitude' and 'mastery' 
are not indicative of nature, but of relationships, just as 
'paternity' and 'filiation' are. These last do not belong to the 
essence, but are indicative of relation. Therefore, we say 
here, just as we did in the case of ignorance, that if you 
distinguish the created from the uncreated by tenuous thought 
processes, or subtle imaginings, then the flesh is servile as 
long as it is not united to God the Word. But, once it is 
hypostatically united, how will it be servile? For, since Christ 
is one. He cannot be His own servant and Lord, because 
these do not belong to the things predicated absolutely, but 
to them that are predicated relatively. So, whose servant wiU 
He be? The Father's? But then, if He is the servant of the 
Father, the Son does not have 'all things whatsoever the Father 
hath.'^ And He certainly is not His own servant. And, if He 
is Himself a servant, how is it that in regard to us, who 
have been adopted through Him, the Apostle says: 'There- 

1 Cf. Sermon 30.15 {PG 36.124B) . 

2 John 16.15. 



326 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

fore, now thou art not a servant, but a son." Therefore, al- 
though He is not a servant, He is commonly so called as 
having for our sake taken on the form of a servant, and 
together with us He has been called one. For, although He 
was impassible, He became subject to passion and was made 
minister of our salvation. Now, they who say that He is a 
servant divide the one Christ into two, just as Nestorius did. 
But we say that He is Lord and Master of all creation, the 
one Christ, the same being at once both God and man, and 
that He knows all things, 'for in him are hid all the treasures 
of wisdom and knowldege.''' 



Chapter 22 

He is said to have progressed in wisdom and age and 
grace, ^ because He did increase in age and by this increase 
in age brought more into evidence the wisdom inherent in 
Him; further, because by making what is ours altogether 
His own He made His own the progress of men in wisdom 
and grace, as well as the fulfillment of the Father's wUl, 
which is to say, men's knowledge of God and their salvation.^ 
Now, those who say that He progressed in wisdom and grace 
in the sense of receiving an increase in these are saying that 
the union was not made from the first instant of the flesh's 
existence. Neither are they holding the hypostatic union, but, 
misled^ by the empty-headed Nestorius, they are talking 
preposterously of a relative union and simple indwelling, 
'understanding neither the things they say, nor whereof they 
afErm.'* For, if from the first instant of its existence the 

3 Gal. 4.7 according to the Greek text. 

4 Col. 2.3. 



1 Cf. Luke 2.52. 

2 Cf. Gregory Nazianzen, Sermon 43.38 (PG 36.548BC) . 

3 Through a misprint, the Migne text is incorrect here; cf. Lequien, 
Opera 247. 

4 1 Tim. 1.7. 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK THREE 327 

flesh was truly united to God the Word — rather, had existence 
in Him and identity of person with Him — how did it not 
enjoy perfecdy all wisdom and grace? It did not share the 
grace and neither did it participate by grace in the things 
of the Word; rather, because the human and divine things 
had become proper to the one Christ by the hypostatic 
union, then, since the same was at once God and man, it 
gushed forth with the grace and the wisdom and the fullness 
of all good things for the world. 



Chapter 23 

The word fear has two meanings. Thus, there is natural 
fear when the soul is unwilling to be separated from the 
body because of the natural feeling of affinity and kinship 
implanted in it by the Creator from the beginning. On ac- 
count of this it is naturally afraid and distressed and it shrinks 
from death. The definition of this kind of fear is: Natural 
fear is a force which clings to existence by withdrawal.^ 
The reason for this is that, if all things have been brought 
into existence from non-existence by the Creator, they nat- 
urally do not have the desire for non-existence. Furthermore, 
a natural property of these things is their instinctive tendency 
toward those things by which they are sustained. So, when 
God the Word was made man. He, too, had this appetite. 
On the one hand, by desiring both food and drink and sleep 
and by being naturally acquainted with these He showed 
His inclination for the things which sustained His nature; 
on the other. He showed His disinclination for things destruc- 
tive of His nature, as when He freely withdrew from death 
at the time of His passion. For, even though what happened 
came about by a law of nature, it was not by compulsion 
as with us, because He freely willed to accept what was 
natural. Hence, this kind of fear and fright and distress 

1 Cf. Maximus, Disputation with Pyrrhus (PG 91.297D) . 



328 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

belongs to the passions -which are natural and blameless and 
are not subject to sin. 

There is still another kind of fear which arises from loss of 
reason, from mistrust, and from not knowing the hour of one's 
death — as when we are frightened at night by the making 
of some noise. This is unnatural, and we define it: Un- 
natural fear is an unreasonable withdrawal. This kind the 
Lord did not have. Wherefore, except at the time of His 
passion. He was never afraid — even though for good reason 
He would oftentimes hide himself. For He was not ignorant 
of the time. 

That He truly experienced fear is affirmed by the divine 
Athanasius in his discourse against Apollinaris : ^ 'For this 
reason the Lord said: "Now is my soul troubled."^ And the 
"now" means this, namely, at the time when He willed; but 
all the same it indicates the actuality, because He would 
not call actual that which was not, as if the events related 
only seemed to happen. For everything happened naturally 
and truly.' And further on: Tn no wise does divinity admit 
of suffering without a suffering body, nor of affliction and 
sorrow without a sorrowing and afflicted soul. Neither does 
it become troubled and pray without a mind which is 
troubled and prays. However, even though these things did 
not result from a defect of nature, they were done to show 
reality.' The words 'these things did not result from a defect 
of nature,' make it clear that He did not endure them 
involuntarily. 

Chapter 24 

Prayer is an ascent of the mind to God, or the asking 
God for things which are fitting. Then, how did the Lord 
pray in the matter of Lazarus, and at the time of His passion? 
For, since Christ is one and His sacred mind was once and 

2 Against Apollinaris 1.16; 2.13 (PG 26.1124A; 1153B). 

3 John 12.27. , 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK THREE 329 

for all united hypostatically to God the Word, it neither 
needed to ascend to God nor to ask of God. It was, rather, 
that He appropriated our appearance and impressed what 
was ours upon Himself. He became a model for us, He 
taught us to ask of God and to lift ourselves up to Him, and 
through His sacred mind He opened the way for us to 
ascend to God. For, just as He endured the passions and 
gave us victory over them,^ so also does He pray and open 
up for us, as I said, the way to the ascent to God. And so, 
also, does He for our sake fulfill all justice, as He said to 
John,^ and reconcile His own Father to us and honor Him 
as principle and cause, thus showing Himself to be not 
adverse to God. Thus, in the matter of Lazarus, when He 
said: 'Father, I give thee thanks that thou hast heard me. 
And I knew that thou hearest me always; but because of 
the people who stand about have I said it, that they may 
believe that thou hast sent me,'^ was it not made quite plain 
to all that He had said this to show that He honored His 
own Father as His own cause and that He Himself was 
not adverse to God?^ 

When He said: 'Father, if it be possible, let this chalice 
pass from me. Nevertheless, not as I will but as thou wilt,'^ 
is it not clear to everyone^ that He is teaching us to ask 
help of God alone in times of trial and to put the divine 
will before our own, and that He is showing that He had 
truly made His own what is proper to our nature, and that 
He actually had two wills that are natural and correspond 
to His natures and are not mutually opposed? 'Father,' he 
says as being consubstantial, 'if it be possible,' not because 
He did not know'' — and what is impossible for God? — ^but 
to instruct us to put the divine will before our own. For 

1 Cf. Gregory Nazianzen, Sermon 30.14 (PG 36.121-122) 

2 Cf. Matt. 3.15. 

3 John 11.41,42. 

4 Cf. John Chrysostom, Homily 64 on John 2 (PG 59.355) . 

5 Matt. 26.39. 

6 Cf. John Chrysostom, Homily 83 on Matthew 1 (PG 58.746-747) . 

7 Gregory Nazianzen, Sermon 30.12 (PG 36.1 17C). 



330 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

this alone is impossible, namely, that which God does not 
wish and does not permit. 'Nevertheless, not as I will but as 
thou wilt,' He says as God, since He is of the same will as 
the Father, while at the same time He says it as man to 
show the natural will of His humanity, for this last naturally 
shrinks from death. 

Now, the 'My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken 
me?'* He said because He had appropriated our appearance. 
For, unless by subtle imaginings a distinction should be 
made between what is seen and what is thought, God as 
His Father would not be called ours. Nor was He ever 
deserted by His divinity — on the contrary, it was ourselves 
who were left behind and overlooked. And so He appro- 
priated our appearance and prayed these things. 



Chapter 25 

One should, moreover, know that there are two kinds of 
appropriation, the one being natural and substantial and 
the other apparent (itpooco-rtLKri) and relative.^ Now, the 
natural and substantial is that by which the Lord out of 
His love for man assumed both our nature and all that 
was natural to it, and in nature and in truth became man 
and experienced the things that are natural to man. It is 
apparent and relative, however, when one assumes the ap- 
pearance (Ttpoaco-riov) of another relatively, as out of pity 
or love, and in this other's stead speaks words in his behalf 
which in no way concern himself. It was by this last kind 
of appropriation that He appropriated our curse and derelic- 
tion and such things as are not according to nature, not 
because He was or had been such, but because He took on 

8 Matt. 27.46. 



1 Maximus, Solution of Difficulties of Theodore to Marinus (PG 91. 
220BC) . 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK THREE 33 1 

oiir appearance and was reckoned as one of us. And such 
is the sense of the words, 'being made a curse for us.'^ 



Chapter 26 

God's Word Himself, then, endured all things in His flesh, 
while His divine nature, which alone is impassible, remained 
unaffected. For, when the one Christ made up of both 
divinity and humanity suffered, the passible part of Him 
suffered, because it was of its nature to suffer, but the im- 
passible did not suffer with it. Thus, since the soul is passible, 
it does feel pain and suffer with the body when the body 
is hurt, although it itself is not hurt. The divinity, however, 
being impassible, does not suffer with the body. 

And it should be known that, although we speak of God 
having suffered in the flesh, we by no means speak of the 
divinity suffering in the flesh or of God suffering through 
the flesh. For if, when the sun is shining upon a tree, the 
tree should be cut down by an axe, the sun will remain 
uncut and unaffected, then how much more will the impas- 
sible divinity of the Word hypostatically united with the 
flesh remain unaffected when the flesh suffers. And just as 
if one should pour water upon a red-hot iron, that which 
is naturally disposed to be affected by the water — the fire, 
I mean — will be quenched, while the iron remains unharmed, 
because it is not of its nature to be destroyed by the water; 
how much less did the divinity, which is alone impassible, 
endure the suffering of the flesh and still remain inseparable 
from it. Now, examples do not have to be absolutely and 
unfailingly exact, for, just because it is an example, one must 
find in it that which is like and that which is unlike. For 
likeness in everything would be identity and not an example, 
which is especially true with divine things. So, in the matter 

2 Gal. 3.13. 



332 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

of theology and the Incarnation, it is impossible to find an 
absolutely perfect example. 



Chapter 27 

Since our Lord Jesus Christ was without sin, 'because he 
hath done no iniquity, he who taketh away the sin of the 
world, neither was there deceit in his mouth,' ^ He was not 
subject to death, even though death had by sin entered into 
the world.^ And so for our sake He submits to death and dies 
and offers Himself to the Father as a sacrifice for us. For 
we had offended Him and it was necessary for Him to take 
upon Himself our redemption that we might thus be loosed 
from the condemnation — for God forbid that the Lord's 
blood should have been offered to the tyrant! Wherefore, 
then, death approaches, gulps down the bait of the body, 
and is pierced by the hook of the divinity. Then, having 
tasted of the sinless and life-giving body, it is destroyed and 
gives up all those whom it had swallowed down of old.^ 
For, just as the darkness entirely disappears when light is let 
in, so is destruction driven away at the onset of life, and 
life comes to all, while destruction comes to the destroyer. 

And so, even though as man He did die and His sacred 
soul was separated from His immaculate body, the divinity 
remained unseparated from both — the soul, I mean, and 
the body. Thus, the one Person was not divided into two 
persons. For from the beginning both had existence in the 
same way in the Person of the Word, and when they were 
separated from each other in death, each one of them re- 
mained in the possession of the one Person of the Word. 
Hence, the one Person of the Word existed as person both 
of the Word and of the soul and of the body, for neither 

1 Isa. 53.9; John 1.29. 

2 Cf. Rom. 5.12. 

3 Cf. Gregory of Nyssa, Catecheses 24 (PG 45.65A) . 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK THREE 333 

the soul nor the body ever had any person of its own other 
than that of the Word, and the Person of the Word was 
always one and never two. Hence, the Person of Christ was 
always one, since, even though the soul was separated from 
the body in place, it still was hypostatically united to it 
through the Word. 



Chapter 28 

The word destruction (<pQop&) has two meanings.^ Thus, 
it means human sufferings such as hunger, thirst, weariness, 
piercing with nails, death — that is separation of the soul 
from the body — and the like. In this sense, we say that the 
Lord's body was destructible, because He endured aU these 
things freely. Destruction, however, also means the complete 
dissolution of the body and its reduction to the elements 
of which it was composed. By many this is more generally 
called corruption (5ia<fi6opd). This the Lord's body did 
not experience, as the Prophet David says: 'Because thou 
wilt not leave my soul in hell; nor wilt thou give thy holy 
one to corruption.'^ 

Therefore, it is impious to say with the insane Julian and 
Gaianus that before the resurrection the Lord's body was 
indestructible in the first sense. For, if it was thus incor- 
ruptible, then it was not consubstantial with us, and the 
things such as the hunger, the thirst, the nails, the piercing 
of the side, and death which the Gospel says happened 
did not really happen, but only seemed to. But, if they only 
seemed to happen, then the mystery of the Incarnation is 
a hoax and a stage trick; it was in appearance and not in 
truth that He was made man and in appearance and not 
in truth that we have been saved. But far be it, and let 
those who say this have no part of salvation.^ We, however, 

1 Cf. Leontius, On Sects 10 (PG 86.1260-1261) . 

2 Ps. 15.10. 

3 Cf. Anastasius Sin., The Guide 23 <PG 89.300BD^ . 



334 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

have gained and shall obtain the true salvation. Moreover, 
in the second sense of the word destruction, we confess that 
the Lord's body was indestructible, that is to say, incor- 
ruptible, even as has been handed down to us by the inspired 
Fathers. Nevertheless, we do say that after the Saviour's 
resurrection the body of the Lord is indestructible in the first 
sense, too. And through His body the Lord has granted the 
resurrection and consequent incorruptibility to our body, also. 
Himself becoming to us the first fruits of the resurrection 
and incorruptibility and impassibility.* 'For this corruptible 
must put on incorruption,' says the divine Apostle.' 



Chapter 29 

The deified soul went down into hell so that, just as the 
Sun of Justice rose upon those on earth,* so also might the 
light shine upon them under the earth who were sitting in 
darkness and the shadow of death ;^ so that, just as He had 
brought the good news of peace to those on earth, so also 
might He bring that of deliverance to captives and that of 
sight to the blind.^ And to them that believed He became a 
cause of eternal salvation, while to them that had not He 
became a refutation of unbelief, and so also to them in hell,* 
'That to him every knee should bow, of those that are in 
heaven, on earth, and under the earth.'' And thus, having 
loosed them that had been bound for ages. He came back 
again from the dead and made the resurrection possible 
for us. 

4 Cf. 1 Cor. 15.20. 

5 Cor. 15.53. 

1 Cf. Mai. 4.2. 

2 Cf. Isa. 9.2. 

3 Cf. Luke 4.19. 

4 Cf. 1 Pet. 3.19. 

5 Phil. 2.10. 




BOOK FOUR 



Chapter 1 

^i FTER His resurrection from the dead He put aside 
^^^ra all His passions, that is to say, ruin, hunger and 
thirst, sleep and fatigue, and the like. For, even 
though He did taste food after His resurrection,-' it was not 
in obedience to any law of nature, because He did not feel 
hunger, but by way of dispensation that He might confirm 
the truth of the resurrection by showing that the flesh which 
had suffered and that which had risen were the same. More- 
over, He did not put aside any of the elements of His nature, 
neither body nor soul, but kept possession of the body and 
the rational, intellectual, willing and acting soul. And thus 
He sits at the right hand of the Father and wills our salva- 
tion both as God and as man. And, while He acts as God by 
working the providence, preservation, and government of all 
things. He acts as man in remembering His labors on earth 
and in seeing and knowing that He is adored by all rational 
creation. For His sacred soul knows that it is hypostatically 
united to God the Word and that it is adored not as an 
ordinary soul, but as the soul of God. And both the ascent 
from earth into heaven and the descending again are actions 
of a circumscribed body, for 'he shall so come to you,' it is 
said, 'as you have seen him going into heaven.'^ 

1 Cf. Luke 24.43. 

2 Acts 1.11. 

335 



336 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

Chapter 2 

Now, we say that Christ sat in His body at the right hand 
of the Father, yet we do not mean a physical right hand 
of the Father. For how would He who is uncircumscribed 
have a physical right hand? Right and left hands belong to 
those who are circumscribed. What we call the right hand 
of the Father is the glory and honor of the Godhead in 
which the Son of God existed as God and consubstantial with 
the Father before the ages and in which, having in the last 
days become incarnate. He sits corporeally with His flesh 
glorified together with Him, for He and His flesh are adored 
together with one adoration by all creation.^ 



Chapter 3 

Together with the Father and the Holy Ghost we adore 
the Son of God, Him who was bodiless before the Incarna- 
tion, whereas the same is now become incarnate and has 
been made man while at the same time remaining God. 
Now, should you by subtle reasonings distinguish what is 
seen from what is thought, then according to its own nature 
His flesh is not adorable, in so far as it is created.'^ When, 
however, it has been united with God the Word, it is adorable 
because of Him and in Him. In the same way, a king is 
revered whether or not he be robed; and the purple robe, 
when it is just a purple robe, is trod upojj and tossed about, 
but when it has become a royal vestment it is esteemed and 
held in honor, and should anyone treat it with contempt, 
he will most likely be condemned to death. And again, it 
is not impossible to touch an ordinary piece of wood, but, 

1 Cf. Basil, On the Holy Ghost 6.15 (PG 32.89.92) . 



1 Cf. Athanasius, Against ApoUinaris 1.6 (PG 26.n06C) ; Epistle to 
Adelphius (PG 26.1073D-1076A) ; Epiphanius, Ancoratus 51 (PG 
43.105) . 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK FOUR 337 

after it has been exposed to fire and become a burning coal, 
it becomes impossible to touch, not because of itself but 
because of the fire combined with it. And it is not the nature 
of the wood which is untouchable, but the coal, that is to 
say, the burning wood. In the same way, the flesh is not 
of its own nature adorable, but in the incarnate Word of 
God it is so; not because of itself, but because of the Word 
of God hypostatically united to it. Neither do we say that 
we adore ordinary flesh, but the flesh of God, that is to say, 
God incarnate. 

Chapter 4 

The Father is Father and not Son.^ The Son is Son and 
not Father. The Holy Ghost is Spirit and neither Father 
nor Son. This is so because that which is a property is un- 
alterable; else, how would it be a property were it to be altered 
and changed? For this reason the Son of God becomes Son 
of Man, namely, that His peculiar property may remain 
unaltered. For, while He was Son of God, He was incarnate 
of the holy Virgin and became Son of Man without giving 
up His property of filiation. 

The Son of God became man in order that He might again 
grace man as He had when He made him. For He had made 
him to His own image, understanding and free, and to His 
own likeness, that is to say, as perfect in virtues as it was 
possible for human nature to be, for these virtues are, as it 
were, characteristics of the divine nature — freedom from 
care and annoyance, integrity, goodness, wisdom, justice, 
freedom from all vice. Thus, He put man in communion 
with Himself and through this communion with Himself 
raised him to incorruptibility, 'for He created man incor- 
ruptible.'^ But, since by transgressing the commandment we 
obscured and canceled out the characteristics of the divine 



1 Cf. Gregory Nazianzen, Sermon 39.12 [PG 36.348B) . 

2 Wisd. 2.23. 



338 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

image, we were given over to evil and stripped of the divine 
communion. 'For what fellowship hath light with darkness?'^ 
Then, since we had been removed from life, we fell subject 
to the destruction of death. But, since He had shared with 
us what was better and we had not kept it. He now takes 
His share of what is worse, of our nature I mean to say, 
that through Himself and in Himself He may restore what 
was to His image and what to His likeness, while also teach- 
ing us the virtuous way of life which He has made easy of 
ascent for us through Him, and that, having become the 
first fruits of our resurrection. He may by the communication 
of life free us from death and restore the useless and worn- 
out vessel, and so that, having called us to the knowledge 
of God, He may redeem us from the tyranny of the Devil 
and by patience and humility teach us to overthrow the 
tyrant. 

Indeed, the worship of demons has ceased. Creation has 
been sanctified with the divine blood. Altars and temples of 
idols have been overthrown. Knowledge of God has been 
implanted. The consubstantial Trinity, the uncreated God- 
head is worshiped, one true God, Creator and Lord of all. 
Virtue is practiced. Hope of the resurrection has been granted 
through the resurrection of Christ. The demons tremble at 
the men who were formerly in their power. Yes, and most 
wonderful of all is that all these things were successfully 
brought about through a cross and suffering and death. The 
Gospel of the knowledge of God has been preached to the 
whole world and has put the adversaries to flight not by 
war and arms and camps. Rather, it was a few unarmed, 
poor, unlettered, persecuted, tormented, done-to-death men, 
who, by preaching One who had died crucified in the flesh, 
prevailed over the wise and powerful, because the almighty 
power of the Crucified was with them. That death which was 
once so terrible has been defeated and He who was once 
despised and hated is now preferred before life. These are 

3 2 Cor. 6.14. 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK FOUR 339 

the successes consequent upon the advent of the Christ; these 
are the signs of His power. For it was not as when through 
Moses He divided the sea and brought one people safely 
through out of Egypt and the bondage of Pharao. Rather, 
He delivered all humanity from death's destruction and the 
tyrant that was sin. It was not by force that He led sinners 
to virtue, not by having them swallowed up by the earth, 
nor by having them burnt up by fire, nor by ordering them 
stoned to death;* it was with gentleness and forbearance 
that He persuaded men to choose virtue and for virtue's 
sake to undergo sufferings with rejoicing. Sinners were for- 
merly tormented, yet they clung to their sin, and sin was 
accounted a god by them; but now, for piety and virtue's 
sake, they choose torments, tortures, and death. 

Well done, O Christ, O Wisdom and Power and Word 
of God, and God almighty! What should we resourceless 
people give Thee in return for all things? For all things are 
Thine and Thou askest nothing of us but that we be saved. 
Even this Thou hast given us, and by Thy ineffable goodness 
Thou art grateful to those who accept it. Thanks be to Thee 
who hast given being and the grace of well-being and who 
by Thy ineffable condescension hast brought back to this 
state those who fell from it. 

Chapter 5 

Before the Incarnation, the Person of God the Word was 
simple and uncompounded, bodiless and uncreated. But when 
it had assumed flesh, it became person to the flesh also, and 
it became compounded of the divinity, which it always had, 
and the flesh, which it took on in addition. Being thus found 
in two natures, it bears the properties of the two, so that 
the same one person is at once uncreated in its divinity and 
created in its humanity, both visible and invisible. Other- 
wise, we are obliged either to divide the one Christ and 

4 r.f Niim lfi.Sl-S3.35: Lev. 20.2. 



340 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

say that there are two persons, or to deny the difference of the 
natures and thus introduce change and mingling. 



Chapter 6 

Not as some falsely hold was the mind united to God the 
Word before the taking on of flesh from the Virgin and 
from that time called Christ. This absurdity results from the 
nonsense of Origen's teaching of the pre-existence of souls.'"' 
We say that the Son and Word of God became Christ the 
instant that He came to dwell in the womb of the holy 
Ever- Virgin and was made flesh without undergoing change, 
the instant that the flesh was anointed with the divinity. 
For, as Gregory the Theologian says, there was such an 
anointing.^ Likewise, the most holy Cyril of Alexandria, in 
writing to Emperor Theodosius, said as follows: 'I say that 
neither the Word of God as distinct from the humanity, nor 
the temple born of woman as not united to the Word, may 
be called Christ Jesus. The Word which is from God is 
considered to be Christ when inefifably brought together with 
the humanity in the union of the dispensation.'^ And to the 
empresses he writes thus:* 'There are some who say that 
the name Christ properly belongs to the Word only as con- 
sidered in Himself as existing begotten of God the Father. 
But we have not been taught to think or talk in that way, 
because it is when the Word was made flesh that we say 
that He received the name of Christ Jesus. For, since He 
was anointed with the oil of gladness,^ that is to say, anointed 
with the Spirit by God the Father, for this reason is He 
called Christ, or Anointed. That the anointing was of the 
humanity no right minded person would doubt.' And the 

1 a. De principiis 2.9.6 (PG 11.230 et al.) . 

2 Cf. Gregory Nazianzen, Sermon 30.21 (PG 36.132B) . 

3 Cyril of Alexandria, To Emperor Theodosius 28 (PG 76.1 173C) . 

4 Ibid., To the Empresses 13 (PG 76.1220CD) . 

5 Cf. Ps. 44.8; Heb. 1.9. 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK FOUR 341 

renowned Athanasius says to this effect, somewhere in his 
discourse on the saving coming of Christ: 'God (the Word) 
as existing before coming to dwell in the flesh was not man 
but God with God, being invisible and impassible. But, when 
He became man, He took the name Christ, because the 
passion and death are consequent upon this name." 

Now, even though sacred Scripture does say: 'Therefore 
God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness,' 
one must know that sacred Scripture frequently uses the past 
tense for the future, as, for example: 'Afterwards, he was 
seen upon earth and conversed with men," for God had 
not yet been seen by man nor had conversed with them 
when this was said. And again : 'Upon the rivers of Babylon, 
there we sat and wept,'* for these things had not yet taken 
place. 

Chapter 7 

'AysvriTOV and ysvriTOV, written with one v, belong to 
nature and mean 'uncreated' and 'created.'^ On the other 
hand, dysvvriTov and yevvriTOV — that is to say 'unbegotten' 
and 'begotten' — being spelled with two v's, belong not to 
nature, but to person. Thus, the divine nature is dy£vr)Toq, 
that is to say, uncreated, whereas all things except the divine 
nature are yevTiTd, that is to say, created. Now, in the 
divine and uncreated nature the unbegotten is found in the 
Father, for He was not begotten, whereas the begotten is 
found in the Son, since He is eternally begotten of the Father, 
and the procession is found in the Holy Ghost. Moreover, 
the first individuals of every species of Uving beings were 
unbegotten but not uncreated, because they were made by 

6 Athanasius, Against Apollinaris 2.1-2 (PG 26.1 133B) . 

7 Bar. 3.38. 

8 Ps. 136.1. 



1 Cf. above. Book I, ch. 8. 



342 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

the Creator and not begotten of their kind. For, while 
ysvriaic; is creation, Y£VVT]aiq with God is the proceeding of 
the consubstantial Son from the Father alone, and with human 
beings the proceeding of a consubstantial person from the 
conjunction of male and female. Thus, we know that to be 
begotten belongs not to nature, but to person, for, if it did 
belong to nature, we should not find the begotten and the 
unbegotten in the same nature. So, the holy Mother of God 
engendered a Person who is known in two natures and who 
in His divinity was timelessly begotten of the Father, but 
who in the last days became incarnate of her and was born 
in the flesh. 

Now, should they who are inquiring intimate that He who 
was begotten of the holy Mother of God is two natures, we 
shall say: Certainly He is two natures, for the same is both 
God and man. It is the same way with the crucifixion, resur- 
rection, and ascension, too, because these things do not belong 
to nature, but person. Therefore, Christ, while being two 
natures, suffered in His passible nature and in it was crucified, 
for it was in the flesh that He hung on the cross, and not 
in the divinity. Should they say, while inquiring of us: Did 
two natures dies? We shall reply : No, indeed. Therefore, two 
natures were not crucified either, but the Christ was begotten, 
that is to say, the Divine Word was incarnate and begotten 
in the flesh, and He was crucified in the flesh, suffered in the 
flesh, and died in the flesh, while His divinity remained 
unaffected. 

Chapter 8 

He who has been born first is first-born, whether he is the 
only child or has preceded other brothers. So, if the Son 
of God were called 'first-bom' without being called 'only- 
begotten,' then we should understand Him to be first-bom 
of creatures as being a creature.'^ Since, however. He is called 

1 Cf. Gregory o£ Nyssa, Against Eunomius 4.3 (PG 45.636-637) . 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK FOUR 343 

both first-born and only-begotten, we must maintain both 
of these as applying to Him. Thus, we say that He is 'the 
first-born of every creature,'^ since He is from God, and 
creation is also from God. But, since He alone is begotten 
timelessly of the substance of God the Father, He has fittingly 
been called the only-begotten and first-born Son, and not 
first-created, since creation is not of the substance of the 
Father, but has been brought by His will from nothing into 
being. ^ He is, moreover, 'first-bom amongst many breth- 
ren,'* for, while He was only-begotten. He was also bom of 
a mother. For this very reason, that He shared flesh and 
blood along with us and then, also, that we were made sons 
of God through Him by being adopted through baptism, He 
who is by nature Son of God has become first-bom among 
us who have by adoption and grace become sons of God and 
are accounted as His brethren. This is why He said : 'I ascend 
to my Father and to your Father.'^ He did not say 'our 
Father', but 'my Father,' that is to say, by nature, and 'your 
Father', by grace. And He said 'my God and your God,' and 
He did not say 'our God,' but 'my God.' And should you 
by subtle reasonings distinguish what is seen from what is 
thought, then it is as Creator and Lord that He said 
'your God.' 

Chapter 9 

We confess one baptism unto remission of sins and life 
everlasting. For baptism shows the death of the Lord.'^ Indeed, 
through baptism we are buried with the Lord, as the divine 
Apostle says.^ Therefore, just as the death of the Lord hap- 
pened but once, so is it necessary to be baptized but once. It is 

2 Col. 1.15. 

3 C£. Athanasius, Ecthesis 3 (PG 25.204-205) . 

4 Rom. 8.29. 

5 John 20.17. 



1 C£. Rom. 6.3. 

2 Cf. Col. 2.12. 



344 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

further necessary, in accordance with the Lord's word,^ to be 
baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and 
of the Holy Ghost and thus to learn to confess Father and 
Son and Holy Ghost. Consequently, all those who have been 
baptized in the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost and 
have thus been taught the one nature of the Godhead in three 
Persons, but who are baptized over again, these crucify the 
Christ again, as the divine Apostle says: 'For it is impossible 
for those who were once illuminated,' and so forth, 'to be 
renewed again to penance, crucifying again to themselves 
the Christ and making him a mockery.''' All those, however, 
who have not been baptized in the Holy Trinity must be bap- 
tized again. For, even though the divine Apostle says that 
'we have been baptized in Christ and in his death,'^' he does 
not mean that the baptismal invocation should be made 
thus, but that baptism is a figure of Christ's death. Indeed, 
by the three immersions baptism signifies the three days of the 
Lord's burial. Therefore, being 'baptized in Christ' merely 
means believing in Him and being baptized. Besides, it is 
impossible to believe in Christ without having been taught 
to confess the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost. For 
Christ is the Son of the Uving God, whom the Father anointed 
with the Holy Ghost,^ as the divine David says: 'Therefore 
God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness 
above thy fellows,'^ and Isaias, speaking in the name of the 
Lord: 'Ihe spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord 
hath anointed me.'* Indeed, it was to teach His own di.sciplc.s 
the invocation that He said, 'Baptizing them in the name 
of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Gho-st.'" For 
God had created us for immortality," but, since we disobeyed 

3 Cf. Matt. 28.19. 

4 Heb. 6.4-6. 

5 Rom. 6.3. 

6 Cf. Matt. 16.16; Acts 10.38. 

7 Ps. 44.8. 

8 Isa. 61.1. 

9 Matt. 28.19. 

10 Cf. Methodius, On the Resurrection {PG I8.268C) . 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK FOUR 345 

His saving commandment, He condemned us to the destruc- 
tion of death in order that what was evil might not be immor- 
tal. But because He is compassionate, He condescended to His 
servants and, becoming like us, redeemed us from destruction 
by His own suffering. He made a fountain of forgiveness 
gush out for us from His sacred and immaculate side,^^ both 
water unto regeneration and the washing away of sin and 
destruction, and blood as drink productive of life everlasting. 
Moreover, He has given us a commandment to be born again 
of water and the Spirit,^^ with the Holy Ghost coming upon 
the water through prayer and invocation. For, since man 
is twofold,^^ being of body and soul, the purification He gave 
us is also twofold, through water and the Spirit, with the 
Spirit renewing in us what is to His image and likeness and 
the water by the grace of the Spirit purifying the body from 
sin and delivering it from destruction — the water completing 
the figure of the death and the Spirit producing the guar- 
antee of life. 

For from the beginning 'the spirit of God moved over the 
waters',^* and over and again Scripture testifies to the fact 
that water is purifying. ^^ It was with water that God washed 
away the sin of the world in the time of Noe.-^^ It was with 
water that every one who was unclean was purified in accord- 
ance with the Law, and even their garments were washed 
with water.^'^ By burning up the holocaust with water Elias 
showed that the grace of the Spirit was mixed with the 
water. ^* And in accordance with the Law almost everything 
was purified with water, for the things which are perceptible 
to the eye are symbols of those which are perceptible to the 
mind. Indeed, it is in the soul that the regeneration is brought 

U Cf. John 19.34. 

12 Cf. John 3.5. 

13 Cf. Gregory Nazianzen, Sermon 40.8 (PG 36.368A) . 

14 Gen. 1.2. 

15 Cf. Lev. 15. 

16 Cf. Gen. 6.17. 

17 Cf. Lev. 15. 

18 Cf. 3 Kings 18.34,38. 



346 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

about. Even though we be creatures, faith is capable of 
making us to be adopted through the Spirit and brought 
to our former state of blessedness. 

By baptism, then, remission of sins is granted to all alike, 
but the grace of the Spirit is granted in proportion to the 
faith and the previous purification. Now, therefore, we receive 
the first fruits of the Holy Ghost through baptism, and this 
rebirth becomes the beginning of another life for us, a seal, 
a safeguard and an illumination. 

It is furthermore necessary for us to make every effort 
to keep ourselves pure from filthy works, lest we return like 
the dog to his vomit''^ and once more make ourselves slaves 
to sin. For faith without works is dead ; so, likewise, are works 
without faith, because true faith is proved by works. ^^ 

What is more, we are baptized in the Holy Trinity because 
the things that are baptized have need of the Holy Trinity 
for their preservation and permanence, and the three Persons 
cannot but be present together with each other, for the Holy 
Trinity is indivisible. 

A first baptism was that of the flood unto the cutting away 
of sin. A second was that by the sea and the cloud, ^^ for the 
cloud is a symbol of the Spirit, while the sea is a symbol of 
the water. A third is that of the Law, for every unclean person 
washed himself with water and also washed his garments 
and thus entered into the camp.^^ A fourth is that of John, 
which was an introductory baptism leading those thus baptized 
to penance,^^ so that they might believe in Christ. T indeed,' 
he says, 'baptize you in water: but he that shall come after 
me he shall baptize you in the Holy Ghost and fire.'" Thus, 
John purified with water in advance to prepare for the Spirit. 
A fifth is the Lord's baptism with which He Himself was bap- 

19 C£. 2 Pet. 2.22; Gregory Nazianzen, Sermon 39.14 (PG 36.352A) . 

20 C£. James 2.22,26. 

21 C£. 1 Cor. 10.2; Gregory Nazianzen, op. cit. 17 (PG 36.353C) . 

22 C£. Lev. 14.8. 

23 C£. Gregory Nazianzen, loc. cit. 

24 Matt. 3.H. 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK FOUR 347 

tized. He, however, was baptized not that He Himself stood 
in any need of purification but that by making my purifica- 
tion His own He might 'crush the heads of the dragons in the 
waters,'^' wash away the sin and bury all of the old Adam 
in the water, sanctify the Baptist, fuUfiU the Law, reveal the 
mystery of the Trinity, and become for us a model and 
example for the reception of baptism. And we, too, are bap- 
tized with the perfect baptism of the Lord, which is by water 
and the Spirit. Christ is said to baptize in fire, because He 
poured out the grace of the Spirit upon the holy Apostles 
in the form of tongues of fire, as the Lord Himself says : 'John 
indeed baptized with water; but you shall be baptized with 
the Holy Ghost and fire, not many days hence.'^^ Or it is 
because of the chastising baptism of the fire to come that 
He is said to baptize with fire. A sixth is that which is by 
penance and tears and which is truly painful.^'' A seventh 
is that which is by blood and martyrdom.^^ Christ Himself 
was also baptized with this for our sake.^° It is exceedingly 
sublime and blessed in so far as it is not sullied by second 
stains. An eighth, which is the last, is not saving, but, while 
being destructive of evil, since evil and sin no longer hold 
sway, it chastises endlessly. 

The Holy Ghost came down in bodily form as a dove 
to intimate the first fruits of our baptism and to give honor 
to His body, because it, that is to say. His body, was through 
its deification God.'" And it was also because, earlier, it once 
was a dove that brought the good news of the cessation of the 
flood. And the Holy Ghost descended upon the holy Apostles 
in the form of fire, because He is God, and 'God is a con- 
suming fire.'^^ 

25 Ps. 73.13. 

26 Acts 1.5. 

27 Cf. Gregory Nazianzen, op. cit. {PC 36.356A) . 

28 Cf. Ibid. 

29 Cf. Luke 12.50. 

30 Cf. Gregory Nazianzen, op. cit. 16 {PG 36.353B) . 

31 Cf. Deut. 4.24; Gregory Nazianzen, Sermon 41.12 (PG 36.445A) . 



348 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

Oil is used at baptism to show our anointing and to make 
us Christs. It is also to proclaim God's mercy upon us through 
Holy Ghost, since the dove had also carried an olive branch 
to those who had been delivered from the flood.'^ 

John was baptized when he placed his hand upon the divine 
head of the Lord. He was also baptized in his own blood. 

When the faith of the candidates has been testified to by 
works, baptism should not be deferred.^ ^ Should, however, 
a candidate receive baptism fraudulently, he will be con- 
demned rather than helped. 



Chapter 10 

Faith, indeed, is of two kinds. Thus, 'faith cometh by hear- 
ing,''^ for, when we hear the sacred Scriptures, we believe 
in the teaching of the Holy Ghost. And this faith is made 
perfect by all those things which Christ has ordained; it 
believes truly, it is devout, and it keeps the commandments 
of Him who has renewed us. For he who does not believe 
in accordance with the tradition of the Catholic Church 
or who through untoward works holds communion with the 
Devil is without faith. 

Then again, there is a faith 'which is the substance of things 
to be hoped for, the evidence of things that appear not.'^ 
This is an undoubting and unquestioning hope both for the 
things promised us by God and for the success of our petitions. 
The first kind of faith comes from our faculty of judgment 
(Yvcbj^T]), whereas the second is one of the gifts of the Spirit. 

Furthermore, one must know that by baptism we are cir- 

32 Cf. Gen. 8.11. There is a sort of pun here, inasmuch as the Greek 
^vord for 'mercy' very closely resembles that for 'olive tree." 

33 Cf. Gregory Nazianzen, Sermon 40.1 1 (PG 36.372) . 

1 Rom. 10.17. 

2 Heb. 11.1. 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK FOUR 349 

cumcised of the entire covering which we have borne from 
birth, sin that is, and become spiritual Israelites and a 
people of God. 

Chapter 11 

'The word of the cross, to them indeed that perish, is fool- 
ishness; but to them that are saved, that is, to us, it is the 
power of God."^ For 'the spiritual man judgeth all things, 
but the sensual man perceiveth not these things that are 
of the Spirit.'^ For they are foolishness to such as do not 
receive them in faith and conclude to the goodness and omni- 
potence of God, but by human and natural reasoning inquire 
into divine things. For all the things of God are above the 
natural order and beyond speech and understanding. And 
should one consider how and why God brought all things from 
nothing into being and should he try to arrive at this by 
natural reasoning, he will not succeed. For such knowledge 
is sensual and devilish.^ If, however, one is guided by faith 
and concludes to the goodness, omnipotence, truth, wisdom, 
and justice of the Godhead, then he will find all things to be 
smooth and even and the road straight. Without faith it is 
impossible to be saved,* since by faith all things endure, 
both human and spiritual. For a farmer does not plow a fur- 
row in the earth without faith, nor a merchant entrust his 
life to a bit of wood on the raging high seas. Neither are 
marriages contracted nor anything else in life done without 
faith. By faith we understand that aU things have been 
brought from nothing into being by the power of God, and 
by faith we prosper in all things, both human and divine. 
Faith is, moreover, an assent devoid of all curiosity. 

Every action of Christ and all His working of miracles 

1 1 Cor. 1.18. 

2 1 Cor. 2.13,14. 

3 Cf. James 3.15. 

4 Of. Heb. 11.6. 



350 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

were truly very great and divine and wonderful, but of all 
things the most wonderful is His honorable cross. For by 
nothing else except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ has 
death been brought low, the sin of our first parent destroyed, 
hell plundered, resurrection bestowed, the power given us to 
despise the things of this world and even death itself, the 
road back to the former blessedness made smooth, the gates 
of paradise opened, our nature seated at the right hand 
of God, and we made children and heirs of God. By the 
cross all things have been set aright. 'For all we who are bap- 
tized in Christ,' says the Apostle, 'are baptized in his death' 
and 'as many of us as have been baptized in Christ have 
put on Christ' ; moreover, 'Christ is the power and wisdom 
of God."" See how the death of Christ, the cross, that is to say, 
has clothed us with the subsistent wisdom and power of God ! 
And the word of the Cross is the power of God, whether 
because by it God's might. His victory over death, that is, was 
manifested to us, or because, just as the four arms of the 
cross are made solid and bound together by their central part, 
so are the height and the depth, the length and the breadth, 
that is to say, all creation both visible and invisible, held 
together by the power of God. 

This we have been given as a sign on our forehead, just 
as Israel was given the circumcision, for by it we faithful 
are set apart from the infidels and recognized. It is a shield 
and armor and a trophy against the Devil. It is a seal that 
the Destroyer may not strike us, as Scripture says.' It is 
a raising up for those who lie fallen, a support for those who 
stand, a staff for the infirm, a crook for the shepherded, a 
guide for the wandering, a perfecting of the advanced, salva- 
tion for soul and body, an averter of all evils, a cause of all 
good things, a destruction of sin, a plant of resurrection, and 
a tree of eternal life. 

So, then, that honorable and most truly venerable tree 

5 Rom. 6.3; Gal. 3.27; 1 Cor. 1.24. 

6 Cf. Exod. 12.23. 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK FOUR 35 1 

upon which Christ offered Himself as a sacrifice for us is itself 
to be adored, because it has been sanctified by contact with 
the sacred body and blood. So also are the nails, the lance, 
the garments, and such sacred resting places of His as the 
manger, the cave, saving Golgotha, the life-giving tomb, 
Sion the citadel of the churches, and others. Thus, David 
the forefather of God says: 'We will go into his tabernacle: 
we will adore in the place where his feet stood,' and that 
he means the cross is evident from what follows: 'Arise, 
O Lord, into thy resting place''' — for the resurrection follows 
after the cross. Now, if the house, the bed, and the clothing 
of our loved ones are dear to us, then how much more the 
things of our God and Saviour by which we also have 
been saved! 

And we also adore the likeness of the honorable and life- 
giving cross, even though it be made of another material, not 
that we honor the material — God forbid! — but the likeness 
as a symbol of Christ. Thus, when He explained to His 
disciples saying: 'Then shall appear the sign of the Son of 
man in heaven,'* He meant the cross. For this reason, also, 
the angel of the resurrection said to the women: 'You seek 
Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified.'^ Likewise, the Apostle: 
'But we preach Christ crucified.'^" Now, there are many 
Christs and Jesuses, but only one Crucified, and he did not 
say 'pierced by a lance' but 'crucified.' Therefore, the sign. 
of Christ is to be adored, for, wherever the sign may be, there 
He, too, will be. If, however, the form should happen to be 
destroyed, the material of which the likeness of the cross 
was composed is not to be adored, even though it be gold 
or precious stones. Thus, we adore everything that has refer- 
ence to God, although it is to Him that we direct the 
worship. 

7 Ps. 131.7,8. 

8 Matt. 24.30. 

9 Mark 16.6. 
10 1 Cor. 1.23. 



352 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

The tree of life which was planted by God in paradise pre- 
figured this honorable Cross, for, since death came by a tree, 
it was necessary for life and the resurrection to be bestowed 
by a tree. It was Jacob who first prefigured the cross, when 
he adored the top of the rod of Joseph." And when he 
blessed Joseph's sons with his hands crossed,^^ he most clearly 
described the sign of the cross. [Then there were] the rod 
of Moses which smote the sea with the form of a cross and 
saved Israel while causing Pharao to be swallowed up; his 
hands stretched out in the form of a cross and putting Amalec 
to flight; the bitter water being made sweet by a tree, and 
the rock being struck and gushing forth streams of water ;'^^ 
the rod of Aaron miraculously confirming the dignity of the 
priesthood; a serpent raised in triumph upon a tree, as if 
dead, with the tree preserving those who with faith beheld 
the dead enemy,^* even as Christ was nailed up in flesh 
of sin but which had not known sin; great Moses calling 
out: 'You will see your life hanging before your eyes on 
a tree';^'' and Isaias: T have spread forth my hands all day 
to an unbelieving and contradictory people. '^^ May we who 
adore this attain to the portion of Christ the crucified. Amen. 



Chapter 12 

It is not without any reason or by chance that we wor- 
ship toward the east. On the contrary, since we are composed 
of a visible and an invisible nature, of an intellectual nature 
and a sensitive one, that is, we also offer a twofold worship 
to the Creator. It is just as we also sing both with our mind 
and with our bodily lips, and as we are baptized both in 

11 Cf. Heb. 11.21; Gen. 47.31 (Septuagint) . 

12 Cf. Gen. 48.13-15. 

13 Cf. Exod. I4.16f£.; IV.lIff.; 15.25; 17.6. 

14 Cf. Num. 17.8; 21.9. 

15 Deut. 28.66 (Septuagint, except for the phrase 'on a tree') . 

16 Isa. 65J2 (Septuagint) . 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK FOUR 353 

water and in the Spirit, and as we are united to the Lord 
in two ways when we receive the sacrament and the grace 
of the Spirit. 

And so, since God is spiritual light^ and Christ in sacred 
Scripture is called 'Sun of Justice' and 'Orient,'^ the East 
should be dedicated to His worship. For everything beautiful 
should be dedicated to God from whom everything that 
is good receives its goodness. AJ50, the divine David says: 
'Sing to God, ye kingdoms of the earth: sing ye to the Lord; 
who mounteth above the heaven of heavens, to the east.'^ 
And still again. Scripture says: 'And the Lord had planted 
a paradise in Eden to the east; wherein he placed man whom 
he had formed,' and whom He cast out, when He had 
transgressed, 'and made him to live over against the paradise 
of pleasure,'* or in the west. Thus it is that, when we wor- 
ship God, we long for our ancient fatherland and gaze toward 
it. The tabernacle of Moses had the veil and the propitiatory 
to the east; and the tribe of Juda, as being the more honor- 
able, pitched their tents on the east; and in the celebrated 
temple of Solomon the gate of the Lord was set to the east.^ 
As a matter of fact, when the Lord was crucified, He looked 
toward the west, and so we worship gazing towards Him. 
And when he was taken up, He ascended to the east and 
thus the Apostles worshiped Him and thus He shall come 
in the same way as they had seen Him going into heaven,* 
as the Lord Himself said : 'As lightning cometh out of the east 
and appeareth even into the west: so shall also the coming 
of the Son of man be.'' And so, while we are awaiting Him, 
we worship toward the east. This is, moreover, the unwritten 



44.1-2. 



1 


C£. 


1 John 1.5. 






2 


Cf. 


Mai. 4.2; Zach. 3.8; 


; Luke 1.78, 


3 


Ps. 


67.33,34. 






4 


Gen. 2.8; 3.24 


(Septuagint) . 


5 


Cf. 


Lev. 16.14; 


Num. 


2.3; Ezech. 


6 


Cf. 


Acts 1.11. 






7 


Matt. 24.27. 







354 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

tradition of the Apostles, for they have handed many things 
down to us unwritten.* 



Chapter 13 

Because of the exceedingly great wealth of His goodness, 
the good, all-good, and exceedingly good God, who is all 
goodness, did not rest content that the Good, or His nature, 
should just be and not be shared by anything.^ For this 
reason, He first made the spiritual and heavenly powers, 
and then the visible and sensible world, and then, finally, 
man of the spiritual and the sensible. Hence, all things He 
has made participate in His goodness by the fact that they 
have being. For He is being to them all, since 'in him are 
all things,'^ not only because He has brought them from 
nothing into being, but because it is by His operation that 
all things He made are kept in existence and held together. 
Living things, however, participate more abundantly, because 
they participate in the good both by their being and by their 
living. But rational beings, while they participate in the good 
in the aforementioned ways, do so still more by their very 
rationality. For they are in a way more akin to Him, even 
though He is, of course, immeasurably superior. 

Since man was made both rational and free, he received 
the power to be unceasingly united to God by his own choice, 
provided, of course, that he persevere in the good, that is to 
say, in obedience to his Creator. Then, when man became 
disobedient to the commandment of Him who had made 
him and thus became subject to death and corruption, the 
Maker and Creator of our kind, through the bowels of His 
mercy, likened Himself to us and became man in all things 

8 Cf. Basil, On the Holy Ghost 27.65 (PG 32.188A) . 



1 Cf. Gregory Nazianzen, Sermon ih.h (PG 36.629A) . 

2 Rom. 11.36. 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK TOUR 355 

except sin and was united to our nature. Thus, because we 
did not keep what He had imparted to us, His own image 
and His own spirit, He now participates in our poor weak 
nature so that He may render us pure and incorrupt and 
make us once more participators in His divinity. 

It was moreover, necessary not only for the first fruits 
of our nature, but also for every man who so wished. And 
it was necessary that every such man should be born with 
a second birth and nourished with a new food fit for the 
new birth, and thus attain to the measure of perfection. 
Hence, by His own birth, or incarnation, and by His bap- 
tism and passion and resurrection. He freed our nature from 
the sin of our first parent, from death and corruption. And 
He became the first-fruit of the resurrection and set Himself 
to be a way, a model, and an example, so that we, too, 
might follow in His footsteps and become by adoption, as He 
is by nature, sons and heirs of God and joint heirs together 
with Him.^ Thus, He gave us, as I have said, a second birth, 
so that, as we had been born of Adam and had been likened 
to him and had become heir to his curse and corruption, 
we might by being born anew of Him be likened to Him 
and become heir to His incorruption and blessing and glory. 

Now, since this Adam is spiritual, it was necessary that 
there be a spiritual birth and also a spiritual food. But, since 
we are individuals of a twofold nature and compounded, 
it is necessary that the birth also be of a twofold nature and 
that the food likewise be compounded. Hence, the birth 
was given us by water and the Spirit, by holy baptism, 
I mean, while the food was the Bread of Life itself, our Lord 
Jesus Christ who had come down from heaven.* For, when 
He was about to suffer death freely for our sake, on the night 
in which He delivered Himself up. He made a new testament 

3 Cf. Rom. 8.17. 

4 Cf. John 6.48. 



356 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

for His holy disciples and Apostles and, through them, for 
all that believe in Him. So, when He had eaten the old 
Pasch with His disciples in the upper chamber on holy and 
glorious Mount Sion and had fullfilled the old testament. 
He washed the feet of His disciples and thus showed a symbol 
of holy baptism.^ Then, after He had broken bread, He gave 
it to them saying: 'Take ye and eat. This is my body, which 
is broken for you unto remission of sins.'* And in like manner 
He took also the chalice of wine and water and gave it to 
them, saying: 'Drink ye all of this. This is my blood of the 
new testament, which is shed for you unto remission of sins. 
This do in commemoration of me. For as often as you shall 
eat this bread and drink this chalice, you shall show the 
death of the Son of man and confess his resurrection, until 
he come." 

If, then, 'the word of the Lord is living and effectual," 
and if 'whatsoever the Lord pleased he hath done' ;' if He 
said : 'Be light made, and it was made. Be a firmament made, 
and it was made';^" if by the word of the Lord the heavens 
were established, and all the power of them by the spirit 
of his mouth' ;'^-'- if heaven and earth, water and fire, and 
air and the whole universe of these were made perfect by the 
word of the Lord, and this much famed living being, too, 
which is man; if by His will God the Word Himself became 
man and without seed caused the pure and undefiled blood 
of the blessed Ever-Virgin to form a body for Himself; — if 
all this, then can He not make the bread His body and the 
■wine and water His blood? In the beginning He said: 'Let 

5 Cf. John 13.1-15. 

6 Cf. 1 Cor. 11.24. The 'which is broken for you' is not strictly Scrip- 
tural but belongs to the most ancient liturgical tradition and still 
survives in most eastern Liturgies. 

7 Cf. 1 Cor. 11.25-26. This form, as well as that of the consecration 
of the bread just mentioned, is the form of the Liturgy of St. James 
which was commonly used in Syria and Palestine. 

8 Heb. 4.12. 

9 Ps. 134.6. 

10 Gen. 1.3.6. 

11 Ps. 32.6. 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK FOUR 357 

the earth bring forth the green herb,'^^ and even until now, 
when the rain falls, the earth brings forth its own shoots 
under the influence and power of the divine command. God 
said: 'This is my body,' and, 'This is my blood,' and, 'This 
do in commemoration of me,' and by His almighty command 
it is done, until He shall come, for what He said was 'until 
he come.' And through the invocation the overshadowing 
power of the Holy Ghost becomes a rainfall for this new 
cultivation. For, just as all things whatsoever God made 
He made by the operation of the Holy Ghost, so also it is by 
the operation of the Spirit that these things are done which 
surpass nature and cannot be discerned except by faith alone. 
'How shall this be done to me,' asked the blessed Virgin, 
because I know not man?' The archangel Gabriel answered, 
'The Holy Ghost shaU come upon thee and the power of the 
Most High shall overshadow thee."^^ And now you ask how 
the bread becomes the body of Christ and the wine and 
water the blood of Christ. And I tell you that the Holy Ghost 
comes down and works these things which are beyond descrip- 
tion and understanding. 

Now, bread and wine are used'^* because God knows human 
weakness and how most things that are not constantly and 
habitually used cannot be put up with and are shunned. With 
His usual condescension, therefore. He does through the 
ordinary things of nature those which surpass the natural 
order. And just as in the case of baptism, because it is the 
custom of men to wash themselves with water and anoint 
themselves with oil He joined the grace of the Spirit to oil 
and water and made it a laver of regeneration, so, because 
it is men's custom to eat bread and drink water and wine 
He joined His divinity to these and made them His body 
and blood, so that by the ordinary natural things we might 
be raised to those which surpass the order of nature. 

12 Gen. 1.11. 

13 Luke 1.34,35. 

14 Cf. Gregory of Nyssa, Catechesi 37 (PG 45.93ff.) . 



358 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

This is the body which is truly united to the Godhead, the 
same which is from the blessed Virgin. This is not because that 
body which was taken up to heaven comes down from heaven, 
but because the very bread and wine are changed into the 
body and blood of God. However, should you inquire as to 
the manner in which this is done, let it suffice for you to hear 
that it is done through the Holy Ghost, just as it was through 
the Holy Ghost that the Lord made flesh subsist for Him- 
self and in Himself from the blessed Mother of God. .And 
more than this we do not know, except that the word of God 
is true and effective and omnipotent, but the manner in 
which it is so is impossible to find out. What is more, it is not 
amiss to say this, that just as bread by being eaten and 
wine and water by being drunk are naturally changed into 
the body of the person eating and drinking and yet do not 
become another body than that which the person had 
before, so in the same way are the bread of the offertory 
and the wine and water supernaturally changed into the 
body and blood of Christ by the invocation and coming 
down of the Holy Ghost, yet they are not two bodies, but 
one and the same. 

Hence, it is unto remission of sins and eternal life and 
unto a safeguard for body and soul and for such as partake 
worthily thereof and with faith. But for .such as receive 
unworthily and without faith it is unto chastisement and 
punishment. It is just as the Lord's death has become lift 
and immortality for those who believe, whereas for those who 
do not and for those who killed the Lord it is unto chastise- 
ment and eternal punishment. 

The bread and wine arc not a figure of the body and 
blood of Christ — God forbid! — but the actual deified body 
of the Lord, because the Lord Himself said: 'This is my 
body'; not 'a figure of my body' but 'my body,' and not 
'a figure of my blood' but 'my blood.' Even before this He 
had said to the Jews: 'except you eat of the flesh of the 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK FOUR 359 

Son of man and drink his blood, you shall not have life 
in you. For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink 
indeed.' And again: 'He that eateth me, shall live.'^^ 

Wherefore, in all fear and with a pure conscience and 
undoubting faith let us approach, and it will be to us alto- 
gether as we believe and do not doubt. And let us honor 
it with all purity of body and soul, for it is twofold. Let 
us approach it with burning desire, and with our hands 
folded in the form of a cross^^ let us receive the body of 
the Crucified. With eyes, lips, and faces turned toward it 
let us receive the divine burning coal, so that the fire of 
the coal may be added to the desire within us to consume 
our sins and enlighten our hearts, and so that by this com- 
munion of the divine fire we may be set afire and deified. 
Isaias saw a live coal,'-' and this coal was not plain wood 
but wood joined with fire. Thus also, the bread of com- 
munion is not a plain bread, but bread joined with the 
Godhead. And the body joined with the Godhead is not one 
nature. On the contrary, that of the body is one, whereas 
that of the Godhead joined with it is another — so that both 
together are not one nature, but two. 

It was with bread and wine that Melchisedech, the priest 
of the most high God, received Abraham, when he was 
returning from the slaughter of the alien tribes.-'* That altar 
prefigured this mystical altar, even as that priest was a type 
and figure of the true Archpriest who is Christ. For 'thou,' 
He says, 'art a priest forever according to the order of Mel- 
chidesech."-^ This bread was figured by the loaves of proposi- 
tion. This is quite plainly the pure and unbloody sacrifice 
which the Lord, through the mouth of the Prophet, said 

15 John 6.54-58. 

16 Cf. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Discourse 23.21 {PG 33.1124B- 
\\25A.) ; Council in Trullo (Quinisext) , Can. 101, Hardouin, Acta 
Conciliorum 3 (Paris 1714) , cols. 1696E-1697A. 

17 Cf. Isa. 6.6. 

18 Cf. Gen. 14.18; Heb. 7.1. 

19 Ps. 109.4; Heb. 7.17. 



360 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

■was to be offered to Him from the rising of the sun even 
to its going down.^" 

It is Christ's body and blood entering into the composi- 
tion of our soul and body without being consumed, without 
being corrupted, without passing into the privy — God forbid ! 
— but into our substance for our sustenance, a bulwark 
against every sort of harm and a purifier from all unclean- 
liness — as if He were to take adultered gold and purify it 
by the discerning fire, so that in the life to come we shall 
not be condemned with the world. For He purifies by dis- 
eases and all sort of seizures, even as the divine Apostle 
says: 'But if we would judge ourselves, we should not be 
judged. But whilst we are judged, we are chastised by the 
Lord, that we be not condemned with this world.' And this 
is what he says: 'For he that partaketh unworthily of the 
Lord eateth and drinketh judgment to himself. '^■'- When we 
are purified by it, we become one with the body of the 
Lord and with His spirit, and we become the body of Christ. 

This bread is the first-fruits of the bread to come, which 
is the supersubstantial bread.^^ For super substantial either 
means that which is to come, that is, the bread of the world 
to come, or it means that which is taken for the sustenance 
of our substance. So, whether it be the one or the other, 
the term will be suitably applicable to the body of the Lord, 
because, since the flesh of the Lord was conceived of the 
life-giving Spirit, it is itself life-giving spirit — for 'that which 
is born of the Spirit is spirit.'^' I say this not to detract from 
the nature of the body, but because I wish to show its life- 
giving and divine character. 

Moreover, although some may have called the bread and 
wine antitypes of the body and blood of the Lord, as did 
the inspired Basil,^^ they did not say this as referring to 

20 Cf. Mai. i.u. 

21 I Cor. 11.31,32,29. 

22 Cf. Matt. 6.11; Cyril o£ Jerusalem, op. cit. 15 (PG 33.1120B) . 

23 John 3.6. 

24 Cf. Liturgy of St. Basil, prayer of the epiclesis CF. E. Brighttnan, 
Liturgies Eastern and Western 1 [Oxford 1896] 329) . 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK FOUR 361 

after the consecration, but to before the consecration, and 
it was thus that they called the offertory bread itself. 

It is called participation because through it we participate 
in the divinity of Jesus. It is also called communion^ and 
truly is so, because of our having communion through it 
with Christ and partaking both of His flesh and His divin- 
ity, and because through it we have communion with and 
are united to one another. For, since we partake of one 
bread, we all become one body of Christ and one blood and 
members of one another and are accounted of the same body 
with Christ. 

Let us then make every effort to guard against receiving 
communion from heretics or giving it to them. 'Give not that 
which is holy to dogs,' says the Lord, 'neither cast ye your 
pearls before swine,'^^ lest we become sharers in their false 
teachings and their condemnation. If there really is such a 
union with Christ and with each other, then we really become 
united deliberately with all those with whom we commu- 
nicate together, for this union comes from deliberate choice 
and not without the intervention of our judgment. 'For we 
are all one body, because we partake of one bread,' as the 
divine Apostle says.^^ 

They are called antitypes of the things to come, not because 
they are not really the body and blood of Christ, but because 
it is through them that we participate in the divinity of 
Christ now, while then it will be through the intellect and 
by vision alone. 

Chapter 14 

Since in what has gone before we have discussed to some 
extent the holy and most celebrated Ever- Virgin and Mother 
of God and have shown what is most important of all, how 
she is really and truly the Mother of God and is so called, 

25 Matt. 7.6. 

26 1 Cor. 10.17. 



362 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

let US now supply what remains to be said. She was pre- 
destined in the eternal foreknowing counsel of God and she 
was prefigured by various figures and foretold by the Holy 
Ghost through the words of the Prophets. Then, at the pre- 
destined time, she sprang from the root of David in fulfill- 
ment of the promises which had been made to him. For it 
is written: 'Ihe Lord hath sworn truth to David, and he 
will not make it void: Of the fruit of thy womb I will set 
upon thy throne', and again: 'Once have I sworn by my 
holiness: I will not lie unto David. His seed shall endure 
forever. And his throne as the sun before me, and as the 
moon perfect for ever: and a faithful witness in heaven.'^ 
And Isaias: 'There shall come forth a rod out of the root 
of Jesse: and a flower shall rise up out of his root.'" 

The most holy Evangelists Matthew and Luke have dis- 
tinctly shown how Joseph is descended from the tribe of 
David. Matthew, however, traces the descent of Joseph from 
David through Solomon, whereas Luke traces it through 
Nathan. Yet both have passed over the lineage of the blessed 
Vii^in in silence. 

One should know, however, that it was not customary for 
the Hebrews, nor for sacred Scripture either, to give the 
pedigrees of women. But there was a law that one tribe 
should not marry into another.' And Joseph, who was de- 
scended from the tribe of David and was a just man, for 
the holy Gospel testifies to this in his regard,'' would not 
have espoused the blessed Virgin illegally, but only if she 
were descended from the sanie tribe. Consequently, it was 
sufficient to show the descent of Joseph. 

One should know this, too, that there was a law that the 
brother of a man dying without issue should marry the wife 
oi the deceased and raise up seed for his brother.^ Thus, the 
offspring belonged by nature to the second, that is to say, 

1 Ps. 131.11; 88.36-38. 

2 Isa. II. 1. 

3 Cf. Num. 36.6. 

4 Cf. Matt. 1.19. 

5 Cf. Deut. 25.5. 



ORTHODOX faith: BOOK FOUR 363 

to the one who had begotten it, but by law to the deceased. 
Levi was bom from the line of Nathan the son of David 
and he begot Melchi and Panther. Panther begot Barpanther, 
for such was he called. This Barpanther begot Joachim, and 
Joachim begot the holy Mother of God. Mathan, however, 
had a wife from the line of Solomon the son of David, and 
from her begot Jacob. Then, when Mathan died, Melchi, 
who was of the tribe of Nathan and the son of Levi and 
brother of Panther, married the wife of Mathan. It was she 
who was the mother of Jacob, and from her Melchi begot 
Heli. Thus, Jacob and Heli were born of the same mother, 
but Jacob was of the tribe of Solomon, while Heli was of 
the tribe of Nathan. Heli, however, who was of the tribe 
of Nathan, died childless, and his brother Jacob, who was 
of the tribe of Solomon, took his wife and raised up seed 
for his brother and begot Joseph. So, while Joseph was by 
nature a son of Jacob of the descent of Solomon, he was 
by law son of Heli, who was of the line of Nathan. 

And so Joachim took the noble and praiseworthy Anna 
in marriage.^ Then, even as the earlier Anna, although barren, 
had through prayer and a vow given birth to Samuel,' so 
did this Anna through supplication and a vow receive from 
God the Mother of God, so that not even in this should she 
be inferior to any of the illustrious mothers. Thus, Grace, for 
such is the interpretation of Anna, brings forth the Lady, 
for that is the meaning of the name Mary. And Mary really 
did become Lady of all created things, since she was ac- 
counted Mother of the Creator. And she was bom in the 
house of Joachim at the Probatica and was brought to the 
Temple. From then on she grew up in the house of God, 
nourished by the Spirit, and like a fruitful olive tree' became 
and abode of every virtue with her mind removed from 
every worldly and carnal desire. And thus, as was fitting for 

6 Cf. Protevangelium of James 1-2. 

7 Cf. 1 Kings 1.11. 

8 Cf. Ps. 51.10. 



364 SAINT JOHN or DAMASCUS 

her who was to conceive God within herself, she kept her 
soul and body virginal, for He is holy and abides in holy 
ones. Thus, then, she sought holiness and was shown to be 
a holy and wondrous temple worthy of the most high God. 
However, since the Enemy of our salvation was keeping 
an eye on virgins because of the prophecy of Isaias, who 
said: 'Behold a virgin shall be with child and bring forth 
a son: and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being 
interpreted is, God with us,'' the maid was betrothed to 
Joseph by the priests as 'the sealed book is delivered to one 
that is learned,"^" in order that He 'who catcheth the wise 
in their craftiness' ^"^ might ensnare him who ever glories in 
wisdom. -^^ And the betrothal was at once a safeguard for 
the virgin and a deception for him who was keeping his 
eye on virgins. Now, when the fullness of time came, an 
angel of the Lord was sent to her with the good news of 
her conception of the Lord. And thus she conceived the 
Son of God, the subsistent power of the Father, 'not of the 
will of the flesh, nor of the will of man'^' — that is to say, 
not of carnal conjunction and seed — but of the good pleasure 
of the Father and the co-operation of the Holy Ghost. To 
the Creator she gave that He might be created, to the 
Fashioner that He might be fashioned, and to the Son of 
God and God that He might from her innocent and un- 
defield flesh and blood put on flesh and become man. And 
thus she paid the debt for the first mother. For, as Eve was 
formed from Adam without carnal conjuction, so did this 
one bring forth the new Adam in accordance with the law 
of gestation but surpassing the nature of generation. Thus, 
He who is without a mother begotten of a father was without 
a father born of a woman. And because it was of a woman it 
was in accordance with the law of gestation; while, because 
it was without father, it surpassed the nature of generation. 

9 Matt. 1.23; Isa. 7.14. 

10 Isa. 29.11. 

11 Job 5.13. 

12 Cf. Jer. 9.28. 

13 John 1.13. 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK FOUR 365 

And because it was at the normal time, for having com- 
pleted the nine-month period He was born at the beginning 
of the tenth, it was in accordance with the law of gestation; 
while because it was without pain, it surpassed the established 
order of birth — for, where pleasure had not preceded, pain 
did not follow, as the Prophet said : 'Before she was in labor, 
she brought forth,' and again: 'before her time came to be 
delivered she brought forth a man chUd.'^* 

And so the Son of God became incarnate and was born 
of her. It was not as God-bearing man that He was bom 
of her, but as God incarnate; not as a prophet anointed 
through the operation of the one anointing, but as one 
anointed with the entire presence of the one anointing — so 
that the one anointing became man and the one anointed 
became God; not by a change in nature, but by the hypo- 
static union. For, He was the same who anointed and who 
was anointed, as God anointing Himself as man. How, then, 
is she not Mother of God who from herself brought forth 
God incarnate? Actually, she is really and truly Mother of 
God, Lady, and Mistress of all created things, being accounted 
both handmaid and mother of the Creator. And just as at 
His conception He had kept her who conceived Him a 
virgin, so also at His birth did He maintain her virginity 
intact, because He alone passed through her and kept her 
shut.-^^ While the conception was by hearing, the birth 
was by the usual orifice through which children are born, 
even though there are some who concoct an idle tale 
of His being born from the side of the Mother of God. For 
it was not impossible for Him to pass through the gate with- 
out breaking its seals. 

Hence, the Ever- Virgin remained a virgin even after giving 
birth and never had converse with a husband as long as she 
lived. For, even though it is written: 'And he knew her not 

14 Isa. 66.7. 

15 C(. Ezech. 44.2. 



366 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

till she brought forth her firstborn son,'^^ one must know 
that the first child to be born is the firstborn, even though 
it may also be the only-begotten. Firstborn means having 
been born first, and does not by any means imply the birth 
of others; on the other hand, the 'till' signifies the fulfillment 
of the appointed time, without excluding the time after that. 
Thus, the Lord says: 'And behold I am with you all days, 
even till the consummation of the world,'" without meaning 
that He is to be separated after the consummation of the 
world. The divine Apostle certainly says: 'And so shall we 
be always with the Lord,'^* meaning after the general resur- 
rection. 

How, indeed, would she have given birth to God and 
have known the miracle from the experience of subsequent 
events and then have allowed intercourse with a husband? 
Far be it ! The thinking of such things is beyond the bounds 
of prudent thought, let alone the doing of them. 

However, this blessed one, who had been found worthy 
of gifts surpassing nature, did at the time of the Passion 
suffer the pangs which she had escaped at childbirth. For, 
when she saw Him put to the death as a criminal, whom 
she knew to be God when she gave birth to Him, her heart 
was torn from maternal compassion and she was rent by 
her thoughts as by a sword. This is the meaning of 'And 
thy own soul a sword shall pierce.'^' But her grief gave way 
to the joy of the resurrection, the resurrection which pro- 
claimed Him to be God who had died in the flesh. 

16 Matt. 1.25. 

17 Matt. 28.20. 

18 1 Thess. 4.16. 

19 Luke 2.35. 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK FOUR 367 

Chapter 15 

The saints must be honored as friends of Christ and 
children and heirs of God, as John the Theologian and 
Evangelist says: 'But as many as received himi, he gave them 
the power to be made the sons of God.'^ 'Therefore they 
are no longer servants, but sons: and if sons, heirs also, 
heirs indeed of God and joint heirs with Christ.'^ And again, 
in the holy Gospels the Lord says to the Apostles: 'You are 
my friends. . . I wUl not now call you servants: for the 
servant knoweth not what his lord doth.'^ Furthermore, if 
the Creator and Lord of all is called both King of kings 
and Lord of lords and God of gods,^ then most certainly 
the saints, too, are both gods and lords and kings. God 
both is and is said to be their God and Lord and King. 
'For I am,' He said to Moses, 'the God of Abraham, the 
God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,' and God appointed 
Moses the God of Pharao.^ However, I say that they are 
gods, lords, and kings not by nature, but because they have 
ruled over and dominated sufferings, and because they have 
kept undebased the likeness of the divine image to which 
they were made — for the image of the king is also called 
a king, and, finally, because they have freely been united 
to God and receiving Him as a dweller within themselves 
have through association with Him become by grace what 
He is by nature. How, then, should these not be honored 
who have been accounted servants, friends, and sons of God? 
For the honor shown the more sensible of one's fellow 
servants gives proof of one's love for the common Master. 

These are become repositories and pure dwelling places 
of God, for 'I will dwell in them and walk among them,' 

1 John 1.12. 

2 Gal. 4.7; Rom. 8.17. 

3 John 15.14,15. 

4 Apoc. 19.16; Ps. 49.1. 

5 Exod. 3.6; 7.1. 



368 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

says God, 'and I will be their God.'^ So, indeed, sacred 
Scripture says that 'the souls of the just are in the hand 
of God: and death shall not touch them.'^ For the death 
of the saints is rather sleep than death, since 'they have 
labored unto eternity and shall live unto the end,' and 
'precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.'^ 
What then is more precious than to be in the hand of God? 
For God is life and light, and they that are in the hand of 
God abide in life and light. 

Moreover, because through their mind God has also dwelt 
in their bodies, the Apostle says: 'Know you not that your 
members are the temple of the Holy Ghost, who is in you?' ; 
'Now the Lord is the Spirit' ; and again : 'If any man violate 
the temple of God, him shall God destroy." How, then, 
should they not be honored, who are the living temples of 
God, the living tabernacles of God. These in life openly 
took their stand with God. 

In the rehcs of the saints the Lord Christ has provided 
us with saving fountains which in many ways pour out 
benefactions and gush with fragrant ointment.^" And let no 
one disbelieve. For, if by the will of God water poured out 
of the precipitous living rock in the desert, and for the thirsty 
Sampson from the jawbone of an ass,^^ is it unbelievable that 
fragrant ointment should flow from the relics of the martyrs? 
Certainly not, at least for such as know the power of God 
and the honor which the saints have from Him. 

In the Law, anyone who touched a corpse was accounted 
unclean.^ ^ But these of whom we speak are not dead. Because 
Life itself and the Author of life was reckoned amongst the 

6 2 Ccr. 6.16; Lev. 26.12. 

7 Wisd. 3.1. 

8 Ps. 48.9,10; 115.15. 

9 1 Cor. 6.19; 2 Cor. 3.17; 1 Cor. 3.17. 

10 The special epithet myroblytus, or 'gushing ointment,' is applied to 
certain saints whose relics exude a fragrant oil. The two most famous 
myroblytae are St. Demetrius of Salonica and St. Nicholas of Bari. 

11 Cf. Exod. 17.6; Judges 15.19. 

12 Cf. Num. 19.11. 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK FOUR 369 

dead, we do not call these dead who have fallen asleep in 
the hope of resurrection and in the faith in Him. For how 
can a dead body work miracles? How, then, through them 
are demons put to flight, diseases driven out, the sick cured, 
the blind restored to sight, lepers cleansed, temptation and 
trouble driven away; and how through them does 'every 
best gift come down from the Father of lights"-^ to them 
who ask with undoubting faith? What would you not do 
to find a patron to present you to a mortal king and intercede 
with him in your behalf? Are not the patrons of the entire 
race to be honored who make petitions to God in our behalf? 
Yes, indeed; we must honor them by raising churches to 
God in their name, by making fruit-offerings, and by celebrat- 
ing their anniversaries and taking spiritual joy in these, such 
as will be the very joy of our hosts, but taking care lest in 
endeavoring to do them honor we may give them annoyance 
instead. For by some things honor is given to God and they 
who serve Him rejoice in them, whereas by others He is 
offended and so, too, are His shield-bearers. 'In psalms and 
hymns and spiritual canticles,'^^ in compunction, and in com- 
passion for the needy let us faithful do honor to the saints, 
through whom most especially is honor rendered to God. 
Let us set up monuments to them, and visible images, and 
let us ourselves by the imitation of their virtues become 
their living monuments and images. Let us honor the Mother 
of God as really and truly God's Mother. Let us honor the 
Prophet John as precursor and baptist, apostle and martyr, 
for 'there hath not risen among them that are born of women 
a greater than John,'^^ as the Lord said, and he was the 
first herald of the kingdom. Let us honor the Apostles as 
brethren of the Lord, as eye-witnesses and attendants to His 
sufferings, whom God the Father 'foreknew and predestinated 

13 James 1.17. 

14 Eph. 5.19. 

15 Matt. 11.11. 



370 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

to be made conformable to the image of his Son,'^'' 'first 
apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly shepherds and teachers.'^'' 
And let us honor the holy martyrs of the Lord who have 
been picked from every rank and whose corps commander 
is Christ's archdeacon, apostle, and protomartyr Stephen; 
let us honor them as soldiers of Christ who have drunk of 
His chalice and have then been baptized with the baptism 
of His life-giving death, and as participants in His sufferings 
and His glory. Let us also honor those sainted fathers of ours, 
the God-bearing ascetics who have struggled through the 
more drawn-out and laborious martyrdom of the conscience, 
'who wandered about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being in 
want, distressed, afflicted: wandering in deserts, in mountains 
and in dens and in caves of the earth: of whom the world 
was not worthy."^^ Let us honor the Prophets who preceded 
the Grace, the patriarchs and just men who announced 
beforehand the advent of the Lord. Let us carefully observe 
the manner of life of all these and let us emulate their faith, 
charity, hope, zeal, life, patience under suffering, and per- 
severance unto death, so that we may also share their crowns 
of glory. 

Chapter 16 

Since there are certain people who find great fault with 
us for adoring and honoring both the image of the Saviour 
and that of our Lady, as well as those of the rest of the 
saints and servants of Christ, let them hear how from the 
beginning God made man to His own image. ^ For what 
reason, then, do we adore one another, except because we 
have been made to the image of God? As the inspired Basil, 
who is deeply learned in theology, says : 'the honor paid to the 

16 Rom. 8.29. 

17 1 Cor. 12.28. 

18 Heb. 11.37,38. 



1 C£. Gen, 1.26. 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK FOUR 371 

image redounds to the original,'^ and the original is the 
thing imaged from which the copy is made. For what reason 
did the people of Moses adore from round about the 
tabernacle which bore an image and pattern of heavenly 
things, or rather, of all creation?^ Indeed, God had said to 
Moses: 'See that thou make all things according to the 
pattern which was shewn thee on the mount.' And the 
Cherubim, too, that overshadowed the propitiatory, were they 
not the handiwork of men?^ And what was the celebrated 
temple in Jerusalem? Was it not built and furnished by 
human hands and skill ?^ 

Now, sacred Scripture condemns those who adore graven 
things, and also those who sacrifice to the demons. The Greeks 
used to sacrifice and the Jews also used to sacrifice; but the 
Greeks sacrifice to the demons, whereas the Jews sacrificed 
to God. And the sacrifice of the Greeks was rejected and 
condemned, while the sacrifice of the just was acceptable to 
God. Thus, Noe sacrificed 'and the Lord smelled a sweet 
savor' ° of the good intention and accepted the fragrance of 
the gift offered to Him. And thus the statues of the Greeks 
happen to be rejected and condemned, because they were 
representations of demons. 

But, furthermore, who can make a copy of the invisible, 
incorporeal, uncircumscribed, and unportrayable God? It is, 
then, highly insane and impious to give a form to the God- 
head. For this reason it was not the practice in the Old 
Testament to use images. However, through the bowels of His 
mercy God for our salvation was made man in truth, not in 
the appearance of man, as He was seen by Abraham or 
the Prophets, but really made man in substance. Then He 

2 Basil, On the Holy Ghost 18.45 (PG 32.149C) . 

3 Cf. Exod. 33.10. 

4 Cf. Heb. 8.5; Exod. 25.40,20. 

5 Cf. 3 Kings 6. 

6 Gen. 8.21. 



372 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

abode on earth, conversed with men,' worked miracles, suf- 
fered, was crucified, rose again, and was taken up; and all 
these things really happened and were seen by men and, 
indeed, written down to remind and instruct us, who were 
not present then, so that, although we have not seen, yet 
hearing and believing we may attain to the blessedness of 
the Lord. Since, however, not all know letters nor do all 
have leisure to read, the Fathers deemed it fit that these 
events should be depicted as a sort of memorial and terse 
reminder, (it certainly happens frequently that at times when 
we do not have the Lord's Passion in mind we may see the 
image of His crucifixion and, being thus reminded of His 
saving Passion, fall down and adore. But it is not the material 
which we adore, but that which is represented; just as we 
do not adore the material of the Gospel or that of the cross, 
but that which they typify^ For what is the difference between 
a cross which does not typify the Lord and one which does? 
It is the same way with the Mother of God, too, for the 
honor paid her is referred to Him who was incarnate of her. 
And similarly, also, we are stirred up by the exploits of the 
holy men to manliness, zeal, imitation of their virtues, and 
the glory of God. For, as we have said, the honor shown 
the more sensible of one's fellow servants gives proof of one's 
love for the common Master, and the honor paid to the 
image redounds to the original. This is the written tradition, 
just as is worshiping toward the east, adoring the cross, and 
so many other similar things.' 

Furthermore, there is a story told' about how, when Abgar 
was lord of the city of Edessenes, he sent an artist to make 
a portrait of the Lord, and how, when the artist was unable 

7 Cf. Bar. S.38. 

8 C£. Basil, op. cit. 27.66 (PG 32.188B) . 

9 The earliest form of the Syriac legend of Abgar, the first Christian 
king of Edessa, is to be found in Eusebius (Eccles. Hist. 1.13) . The 
later and more amplified version containing the incident of the 
portrait here referred to is to be found in the Syriac document known 
as the Doctrine of Addai (translated and published by G. Phillips, 
London 1876) . 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK FOUR 373 

to do this because of the radiance of His face, the Lord 
Himself pressed a bit of cloth to His own sacred and life-giving 
face and left His own image on the cloth and so sent this to 
Abgar who had so earnestly desired it. 

And Paul, the Apostle of the Gentiles, writes that the 
Apostles handed down a great many things unwritten : 'There- 
fore, brethren, stand fast: and hold the traditions which you 
have learned, whether by word or by our epistle'; and to 
the Corinthians: 'Now I praise you, brethren, that in all 
things you are mindful of me and keep my ordinances as I 
have delivered them to you.'" 



Chapter 17 

The God proclaimed by the Old Testament and the New 
is one He who is celebrated and glorified in Trinity, for the 
Lord said: 'I am not to come to destroy the law, but to 
fulfil.'^ For He worked our salvation, for the sake of which 
all Scripture and every mysetry has been revealed. And again: 
'Search the scriptures: for these give testimony of me.'^ And 
the Apostle too, says: 'God, who, at sundry times and in 
diverse manners, spoke in times past to the fathers by prophets, 
last of all, in these days, hath spoken to us by his Son.'^ 
Through the Holy Ghost, then, both the Law and the Pro- 
phets, the evangelists, apostles, pastors, and teachers spoke. 

Therefore, 'all scripture, inspired of God, is quite profit- 
able,"' so that to search the sacred Scripture is very good and 
most profitable for the soul. For, 'like a tree which is planted 

10 2 Thess. 2.14; 1 Cor. 11.2. 



1 Matt. 5.17. 

2 John 5.39. 

3 Heb. 1.1-2. 

4 2 Tim. 3.16. 



374 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

near the running waters,'^ so does the soul watered by sacred 
Scripture also grow fat and bear fruit in due season, which 
is the orthodox faith, and so is it adorned with its ever- 
green leaves, with actions pleasing to God, I mean. And 
thus we are disposed to virtuous action and untroubled 
contemplation by the sacred Scriptures. In them we 
find exhortation to every virtue and dissuasion from every 
vice. Therefore, if we are eager for knowledge, we shall 
also be rich in knowledge, for by diligence, toil, and the 
grace of God who grants it all things succeed. 'For he 
that asketh receiveth: and he that seeketh findeth: and 
to him that knocketh it shall be opened.'^ So let us knock 
at the very beautiful paradise of the Scriptures, the fragrant, 
most sweet and lovely paradise which fills our ears with the 
varied songs of inspired spiritual birds, which touches our 
heart, comforting it when grieving, calming it when angry, 
and filling it with everlasting joy, and which lifts our mind 
onto the back of the sacred dove, gleaming with gold and 
most brilliant,' who bears us with his most bright wings to 
the only-begotten Son and heir of the Husbandman of the 
spiritual vineyard and through Him on to the Father of 
lights. Let us not knock casually, but with eagerness and 
persistence, and let us not lose heart while knocking, for so 
it will be opened to us. Should we read once and then a 
second time and still not understand what we are reading, 
let us not be discouraged. Rather, let us persist, let us meditate 
and inquire, for it is written: 'Ask thy father, and he will 
declare to thee: thy elders and they will tell thee.'* For not 
all have knowledge.^ From the fountain of paradise let us 
draw everflowing and most pure waters springing up into 
life everlasting.'^" Let us revel in them, let us revel greedily 
in them to satiety, for they contain the grace which cannot 

5 Ps. 1.3. 

6 Luke 11.10. 

7 C£. Ps. 67.14. 

8 Deut. 32.7. 

9 Cf. 1 Cor. 8.7. 
10 Cf. John 4.14. 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK FOUR 375 

be exhausted. Should we, however, be able to get some 
profit from other sources, this is not forbidden. Let us be 
proved bankers and amass the genuine and pure gold, while 
we reject the spurious. Let us accept the best sayings, but 
let us throw to the dogs the ridiculous gods and unhealthy 
fables, for from the former we should be able to draw very 
great strength against the latter. 

One must know that there are twenty-two books of the 
Old Testament, corresponding to the letters of the Hebrew 
alphabet, ■^■'^ for the Hebrews have twenty- two letters, of which 
five are doubled so as to make twenty-seven. Thus, kaph, 
mem, nun, pe, and sade are double. For this reason the 
books, too, are numbered this way and are found to be 
twenty-seven, because five of them are doubled. Ruth is 
combined with Judges and counted as one book by the 
Hebrews. Kings 1 and 2 make one book; 3 and 4r Kings, 
one book; 1 and 2 Paralipomenon, one book; and 1 and 2 
Esdras, one book. Thus, the books fall into four groups of 
five, as follows. There are five books of the Law: Genesis, 
Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. This first 
group of five is also called the Law. Then, another group 
of five books called the Writings, or, by some, the Sacred 
Books, which are as follows: Josue, son of Nave; Judges, 
together with Ruth; 1 and 2 Kings making one book; 3 and 
4 Kings making one book; and the two Paralipomenons 
making one book. This is the second group of five books. 
A third group of five is made up of the poetical books, 
namely: Job, the Psalter, the Proverbs of Solomon, Eccles- 
iastes of the same, and the Canticle of Canticles of the same. 
A fourth group of five books is the prophetic, which is made 
up of the twelve minor Prophets, making one book, Isaias, 
Jeremias, Ezechiel, Daniel, and then the two books of Esdras 
combined into one, and Esther. The All- Virtuous Wisdom, 
however, that is to say, the Wisdom of Solomon — and the 
Wisdom of Jesus, which the father of Sirach composed in 

11 Epiphanius, On Weights and Measures (PG 43.244A) . 



376 



SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 



Hebrew but which was translated into Greek by his grand- 
son, Jesus son of Sirach — these are indeed admirable and 
full of virtue, but they are not counted, nor were they placed 
in the Ark. 

In the New Testament there are: four Gospels, those ac- 
cording to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; the Acts of 
the holy Apostles by Luke the Evangelist; seven Catholic 
Epistles — one of James, two of Peter, three of John, and 
one of Jude; fourteen Epistles of the Apostle Paul; the 
Apocalypse of John the Evangelist; and the Canons of the 
Holy Apostles by Clement." 



Chapter 18 

The things that are said about Christ fall into four 
general classes, for, while some apply to Him before the 
Incarnation, others do in the union, others after the union, 
and still others after the resurrection. 

Of those applying before the Incarnation, there are six 
kinds. Thus, some show the union of nature and consub- 
stantiality with the Father, as 'I and the Father are one'; 
'He that seeth me seeth the Father also'; 'Who being in 
the form of God,'^ and the like. 

Others show the perfection of the hypostasis, as 'Son of 
God'; 'figure of his substance'; 'Angel of great counsel. 
Wonderful, Counsellor,'^ and the like. 

12 The Apostolic Canons was a collection of eighty-five canons, mostly 
disciplinary and mostly taken from local Oriental councils of the 
fourth century. This collection was included in Book 8 of the 
Apostolic Constitutions, the whole being attributed to St. Clement. 
The Council in TruUo (692) , while rejecting the Constitutions, 
retained and approved the Canons. The Canons, the Damascene 
not withstanding, were never generally considered to belong to the 
canon of Scripture. 

1 John 10.30; 14.9; Phil. 2.6. 

2 John 1.34; Heb. 1.3; Isa. 9.6. 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK TOUR 



377 



Others show the mutual indwelling of the Persons in one 
another, as 'I am in the Father and the Father in me,'^ and 
their inseparable indwelling, as Word, Wisdom, Power and 
Brightness. For the word, meaning the substantial word, 
while springing from the mind dwells in it inseparably from 
it; and also the wisdom in the mind, the power in the 
powerful, and the brightness in the light. 

Others show how He is from the Father as from a cause, as 
'the Father is greater than I'^ for from Him He had His being 
and everything that He has — His being by generation, that 
is, not by creation,' as 'I came forth from the Father and 
I am come' and 'I live by the Father."' Now, everything 
that He has He has not by communication and not by 
instruction but as from a cause, as 'the Son cannot do any- 
thing of himself, but what he seeth the Father doing." For, 
if there is no Father, then neither is there a Son, for the 
Son is from the Father, and in the Father and simultane- 
ously with the Father and not after the Father. Similarly 
also, what He does He does of Him and with Him, for the 
will, operation, and power of the Father and of the Son 
and of the Holy Ghost are identical — not like, but the same. 
Others show how things willed by the Father are fulfilled 
by Him, not as by an instrument or a servant, but as by 
His substantial and subsistent Word, Wisdom, and Power, 
because motion in Father and Son are seen to be one, as 
'all things were made by him' ; 'he sent his word, and healed 
them'; and 'that they may believe that thou hast sent me.'* 
Some, finally, are said prophetically. Of these some are 
said as future, as, for example, 'he shall come manifestly'; 

the words of Zacharias : 'Behold thy King will come to thee' ; 

and what was said by Micheas: 'For behold the Lord will 

3 John 14.10. 

4 John 14.28. 

5 Gregory Nazianzen, Sermon 30.7 (PG 36.112-113). 

6 John 16.28; 6.58. 

7 John 5.19. 

8 John 1.3; Ps. 106.20; John 11.42. 



378 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

come forth out of his place : and he will come down and will 
tread upon the high places of the earth.'' Others, however, 
refer to future events as past, as 'This is our God. . . .After- 
wards, he was seen upon earth and conversed with men' ; 'The 
Lord created me a beginning of his ways unto his works'; 
and 'Therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the 
oil of gladness above thy fellows,'" and the like. 

Now, the things said of Him before the union may also 
be said of Him after the union, but those after the union may 
by no means be said of Him before the union, unless, indeed, 
it be by way of prophecy. Moreover, there are three kinds of 
things said of Him in the union. TTius, when we talk from the 
point of view of the more excellent, we speak of 'deification 
of the flesh,' 'becoming the Word,' 'exaltation,' and the like, 
showing the wealth accrued to the flesh by its union and 
intimate conjunction with the sublime Divine Word. When, 
on the other hand, we talk from the point of view of the 
less excellent, we speak of the 'Incarnation' of God the Word, 
His 'being made man,' 'emptying Himself out,' 'poverty,' 
'abasement,' because these things and their like are at- 
tributed to God the Word on account of His being com- 
pounded with the humanity. But, when we talk with both 
in mind, we speak of 'union,' 'communication,' 'anointing,' 
'intimate conjunction,' 'conformation,' and the like. Thus, 
by this third kind of things said the first two already men- 
tioned are implied, for by the union there is shown what 
each one had from the junction and mutual indwelling of 
the one co-existing with it. 

Because of the hypostatic union the flesh is said to have 
been deified, to have become God and of the same divinity 
with the Word;" at the same time God the Word is said 
to have been made flesh, to have become man, to be declared 
a creature and called last.^^ This is not because the two 

9 Ps. 49.3; Zach. 9.9; Mich. 1.3. 
10 Bar. 3.36,38; Prov. 8.22 (Septuagint) ; Ps. 44.8. 
U Cf. Gregory Nazianzen, Sermon 39.16 (PG 36.353B) . 
12 Cf. Isa. 53.3. 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK FOUR 



379 



natures were transformed into one compound nature — it is 
impossible for contradictory natural qualities to exist together 
in one nature — but because they were hypostatically united 
and indwell mutually one in the other without confusion 
or transformation. The mutual indwelling, however, did not 
come from the flesh, but from the divinity, because it is in- 
conceivable that the flesh should indwell the divinity — rather, 
at once the divine nature indwelt the flesh, it gave the flesh 
this same ineffable mutual indwelling, which, indeed, we 
call union. 

One must furthermore know that in the first and second 
kinds of things said in the union the reverse is found. For, 
when we talk about the flesh, we speak of 'deification,' 
'becoming the Word,' 'exaltation,' and 'anointing,' for, while 
these come from the divinity, they are to be found in the 
flesh. When, on the other hand, we talk about the Word, 
we speak of 'emptying out,' 'incarnation,' 'becoming man,' 
'abasement,' and the like, which as we have said, are at- 
tributed to God the Word because He endured them willingly. 

There are three kinds of things said about Christ after the 
union. The first is indicative of the divine nature, as 'I am 
in the Father and the Father in me' and 'I and the Father 
are one.'" Then, everything that is attributed to Him before 
the union may also be attributed to Him after the union, with 
the exception of the fact that He has not yet assumed the 
flesh and its natural properties. 

The second is indicative of the human nature, as 'Why 
do you seek to kill me, a man who have spoken the truth 
to you,' and 'so must the Son of man be lifted up,'^* and 
the like. 

Now, there are six kinds of these things which have been 
said and written about Christ the Saviour in His human 
quality, whether they were of things said or of things done. 

13 John 14.10; 10.30. 

14 John 7.20; 8.40; 3.14. 



380 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

Thus, some of them were done and said naturally through 
the dispensation. Such, for example, were His birth of the 
Virgin ; His growing and advance in age ; His hunger, thirst, 
weariness, tears, sleeping, being pierced with the nails, death; 
and all such other things as are natural and blameless passions. 
He might show that besides being God He was truly man. 
For, although there is indeed a mingling of the divinity with 
the humanity in all of these things, it is understood that they 
truly belong to the body and that the divinity suffered none 
of them, but through them worked our salvation. 

Others are after the manner of a fiction, as, for example, 
His asking 'Where have you laid Lazarus?' His coming to 
the fig tree; His retiring, that is to say, withdrawing; His 
praying; and when 'he made as though he would go farther.'^^ 
For, these things and others of the same sort He did not 
need to do, either as God or as man; He was merely assum- 
ing a human way of acting as required by the advantage 
and profit to be gained thereby. For example, He prayed to 
show that He was not at variance with God and also to 
show that He honored the Father as His own cause. He 
asked questions, not because He did not know, but that 
He retired, in order that He might teach us not to be reckless 
and not to betray ourselves. 

Others are by appropriation and said relatively, as 'My 
God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?' ; and 'him, who 
knew no sin, he hath made sin for us'; and 'being made 
a curse for us'; and 'the Son also himself shall be subject 
unto him that put jJl things under him.'^^ For neither as 
God nor as man was He ever forsaken by the Father ;'^^ 
neither was He made a sin or a curse, nor did He need to 
be subject to the Father. And as God He is equal to the 
Father and in no way at variance with Him or subject to 
Him, while as man He was never at any time so deaf to 

15 John 11.34; Matt. 21.19; 12.15; 26.39; John 11.41; Luke 24.28. 

16 Matt. 27.46; 2 Cor. 5.21; Gal. 3.13; 1 Cor. 15.28. 

17 Gregory Nazianzen, Sermon 30.5 (PG 36.109A) . 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK FOUR 381 

His Begetter that He should stand in need of subjection. 
So it was in appropriating our appearance and classing 
Himself with us that He said these things, for it was we 
who were subject to sin and curse, because we were dis- 
obedient and unhearing and thus forsaken. 

Others are by distinction of reason. Thus, if you make a dis- 
tinction in your mind between things which are really in- 
separable, that is to say, between the flesh and the Word, 
then He is said to be a servant and ignorant.'-^ This is so 
because He was of a servile and ignorant nature, and unless 
the flesh has been united to God the Word it would have 
been servile and ignorant. However, because of its hypostatic 
union with God the Word, it was not servile and it was not 
ignorant. In the same way, also, He called the Father His 
God. 

Others are for our enlightenment and assurance, as 'Glorify 
thou me, O Father, with thyself, with the glory which I 
had, before the world was.'" For He had indeed been glorified 
and is so, but His glory had not been made plain and certain 
to us. And then, that which was said by the Apostle: 'Who 
was predestinated the Son of God in power, according to 
the spirit of sanctification, by resurrection from the dead,'^* 
for by His miracles and resurrection and by the descent of 
the Holy Ghost it was made plain and certain to the world 
that He was the Son of God.^^ And also: 'He advanced in 
■wisdom and grace.' ^^ 

Others are in accordance with His -appropriation of the 
appearance of the Jews and His counting Himself as one 
of them, as when He said to the Samaritan woman: 'You 

18 Cf. ibid. 29.18 (PG 36.97A) . 

19 John 17.5. 

20 Rom. 1.4. 

21 Cf. John Chrysostom, Homily I on Epistle to the Romans 2 (PG 
60.397) . 

22 Luke 2.52. 



382 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

adore that which you know not: we adore that which we 
know. For salvation is of the Jews.'^^ 

The third kind of things said about Christ after the union 
is that which is indicative of the one Person and displays 
both natures, as, for example: 'I live by the Father: so he 
that eateth me, the same also shall live by me'; and 'I go 
to the Father: and you shall see me no longer'; and 'They 
would never have crucified the Lord of glory' ; and 'no man 
ascended into heaven, but he that descended from heaven, 
the Son of man who is in heaven,'^'' and the like. 

And now, finally, some of the things which are said about 
Christ after the resurrection pertain to the divinity, as 'bap- 
tizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and 
of the Holy Ghost,' which is indicative of God the Son; 
and 'Behold I am with you all days, even to the consum- 
mation of the world,' ^^ and the like, because He is with 
us as God. Others, however, pertain to the humanity, as 
'they took hold of his feet,' and 'There they shall see me,'^^ 
and the like. 

There are furthermore, several kinds of things said about 
Christ after the resurrection which pertain to the humanity. 
Some of these, although quite actual, are not according to 
nature, but by dispensation, to give assurance that it was 
the same identical body that had suffered that rose again. 
Such are the wounds, and the eating and drinking after the 
resurrection. Others, however, are both actual and according 
to nature, as the passing easily from place to place and the 
entering through closed doors. Still others are after the man- 
ner of a fiction, as 'he made as though he would go farther.'" 
Others pertain to both natures, as 'I ascend to my Father 
and to your Father, to my God and to your God'; and 'the 

23 John 4.22. 

24 John 6.58; 16.10; 1 Cor. 2.8; John 3.13. 

25 Matt. 28.19,20. 

26 Matt. 28.9,10. 

27 Luke 24.28. 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK FOUR 383 

King of Glory shall enter in'; and 'Who sitteth on the right 
hand of the majesty on high.'^* And still others are said as 
if He were classing Himself with us by a mere distinction 
of reason, as 'my God and your God.' 

Therefore, we must attribute the sublime things to the 
divine nature, which is naturally superior to passions and 
the flesh, whereas we must attribute the lowly ones to the 
human nature. ^^ But those which are common to both we 
must attribute to the composite, that is to say to the one 
Christ who is God and man. And we must understand that 
both belong to one and the same, our Lord Jesus Christ. 
For, if we know what is proper to each and see that both 
are done by one, we shall believe rightly and not be deceived. 
From all of these things the distinction between the united 
natures is known, as well as the fact that, as the most divine 
Cyril says,^" although divinity and humanity are not identical 
in their natural quality, there is definitely one Son and 
Christ and Lord. And since He is one, then His Person 
(Tipoacoiiov) is also one, and no division whatsoever will 
be introduced into the hypostatic union by our recognition 
of the difference between the natures. 



Chapter 19 

One should know that it is customary for sacred Scripture 
to call God's permission His action, as when the Apostle 
says in his Epistle to the Romans: 'Or hath not the potter 
power over the clay, of the same lump, to make one vessel 
unto honour and another unto dishonour?'^ He does indeed 
make both the one and the other, because He is the sole 



28 John 20.17; Ps. 23.7; Heb. 1.3. 

29 Cf. Gregory Nazianzen, Sermon 29.18 {PG 36.97B) . 

30 Cf. Cyril of Alexandria, Epistle 40 (PG 77.183BC) . 

1 Rom. 9.21. 



384 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

Creator of all things, but it is the own deliberate choice of 
each and not He that makes them honorable or dishonorable.^ 
This is also clear from what the Apostle himself says in his 
Second Epistle to Timothy: 'In a great house there are not 
only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and of 
earth: and some indeed unto honour, but some unto dis- 
honour. If any man therefore shall cleanse himself from these, 
he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified and profitable to 
the Lord, prepared unto every work.'^ It is clear that this 
cleansing is done freely, for he says 'if any man shall cleanse 
himself,' the converse of which rejoins that, if he does not 
cleanse himself, he will be a vessel unto dishonor, of no use 
to Lord, and only fit to be broken. Thus, the foregoing 
quotation and that which reads: 'God hath concluded all 
in unbelief and 'God hath given them the spirit of insensi- 
bility; eyes that they should not see and ears that they should 
not hear,'* are none of them to be taken in the sense of 
God acting, but in that of God permitting because of free 
will and because virtue is not forced. 

It is, then, customary for sacred Scripture to speak of His 
permission as an action and deed, but even when it goes 
so far as to say that God 'creates evil' and that 'there is 
not evil in a city, which the Lord hath not done,'° it still 
does not show God to be the author of evil. On the contrary, 
since the word evil is ambiguous, it has two meanings, for 
it sometimes means what is by nature evil, being the opposite 
of virtue and against God's will, while at other times it means 
what is evil and painful in relation to our sensibility, which 
is to say, tribulation and distress. Now, while these last seem 
to be evil, because they cause pain, actually they are good, 
because to such as understand them they are a source of 
conversion and salvation. It is these last that Scripture says 

2 Cf. Basil, That God rs Not Author of Evils (PG 31.340BC1 

3 2 Tim. 2.20,21. ' 

4 Rom. 11.32,8. 

5 Isa. 45.7; Amos 3.6. 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK FOUR 385 

are caused by God. Moreover, one must know that we, too, 
cause them, because involuntary evils spring from voluntary 
ones. 

This also must be known, that it is customary for Scripture 
to speak of some things as causes which really are chance 
effects, as: 'To thee only have I sinned, and have done evil 
before thee: that thou mayst be justified in thy words, and 
mayst overcome when thou art judged."' Now, he who sinned 
did not do so in order that God might overcome, and neither 
did God have any need of our sin for Him to appear as 
victor over it. For God incomparably bears off the prize of 
victory over all, and even over such as do not sin, because 
He is Creator, and beyond understanding, and uncreated, 
and He has glory which comes from His nature and not 
from without. However, because it is not unjust of Him to 
inflict His wrath, when we sin, or to forgive, when we 
repent, He is proclaimed victor over our evil. And it is not 
because of this that we sin, but because the matter turns out 
that way. For instance, should one be sitting at work and 
a friend drop in, then he will say: 'My friend has come to 
visit and so I shall not work today.' The friend did not 
come to keep him from working, but just happened to drop 
in. So he, being taken up with the entertainment of his 
friend, does not work. Such things are called chance effects, 
because the matter happens that way. What is more, God 
does not want to be the only one that is just, but wishes 
that all be like Him in so far as they are able. 



Chapter 20 

We shall now see that there are not two principles, the 
one good and the other evil.^ For good and evil are mutually 

6 Ps. 50.6. 



1 Cf. Athanasius, Agairtst the Pagans 6 (PG 25.12-13) . 



386 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

opposed and mutually destructive and they cannot exist in 
or with each other. In this last case, each would be a part 
of the whole and, consequently, each would be circumscribed 
not only by the whole but by a part of the whole. 

Then, who is there to apportion the space to each? For they 
will say that they can neither agree nor be reconciled, since 
evU would not be evil if it made peace by becoming recon- 
ciled with the good, nor would good be good if it were on 
friendly terms with evU. If, however, there were to be a 
third, who had marked out for each its own sphere, then 
he would more likely be God. 

Moreover, one of the two alternatives would be necessary. 
Either they would have to be in contact with each other 
and thus destroy each other, or there would have to be some- 
thing between them in which there was neither good nor 
evU and which would separate them like a sort of partition. 
Then there would no longer be two principles, but three. 

And again, one of the following alternatives would be 
necessary. Either they would have to be at peace, which 
evU cannot do, because, should it be at peace, it would not 
be evil. Or they would have to fight, which good cannot 
do, because, should if fight, it would not be perfectly good. 
Or the evU would have to fight and the good not fight back 
and either be destroyed by the evil or always be in a state 
of affliction and distress, which is not a characteristic of good. 
Consequently, there must be one principle removed from 
all evU. 

But, they say, if such is the case, where does the evil 
come from? For it is inconceivable that evil should originate 
from good. Tlien we reply that evil is no more than a nega- 
tion of good^ and a lapse from what is natural to what is 
unnatural, for there is nothing that is naturally evil. Now, 
as they were made, all things that God made were very good.^ 
So, if they remain as they were created, then they are very 

2 Cf. Basil, op. cit. (PG 31.341B). 

3 Cf. Gen. 1.31. 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK FOUR 387 

good. But, if they freely withdraw from the natural and pass 
to the unnatural, then they become evil. 

All things, then, by nature serve and obey the Creator. 
So, whenever any creature freely rebels and becomes dis- 
obedient to Him who made him, he has brought the evU 
upon himself. For evil is not some sort of a substance, nor 
yet a property of a substance, but an accident, that is to 
say, a deviation from the natural into the unnatural, which is 
just what sin is. 

Then, where does sin come from?^ It is an invention of 
the free will of the Devil. Then, is the Devil evU? As he 
was made he was not evil, but good, because he was created 
a shining and most bright angel by the Creator, and free 
because rational. And he freely departed from his natural 
virtue, fell into the darkness of evU, and was removed far 
from God, the only Good and the only Giver of life and 
light. For from Him every good has its goodness, and in 
proportion as one is removed from Him in will — not, of 
course, in place — one becomes evU. 



Chapter 21 

God in His goodness brings into being from nothing the 
things that are made, and He foreknows what they are 
going to be. Now, if they were not going to be, they would 
never be evil in the future, nor would they be foreknown. 
For the object of knowledge is existing things; and that of 
foreknowledge, absolute futures. Also, being comes first and, 
afterwards, being good or evU. However, had God kept from 
being made those who through His goodness were to have 
existence, but who by their own choice were to become evU, 
then evil would have prevailed over the goodness of God. 
Thus, all things which God makes He makes good, but 
each one becomes good or evU by his own choice. So, even 

4 Cf. Basil, op. cit. [PC 3I.345D) . 



388 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

if the Lord did say: 'It were better for him if that man 
had not been born,'^ He did not say so in deprecation of 
His own creature, but in deprecation of that creature's choice 
and rashness. For it was the rashness of his own will that 
made the Creator's benefaction useless to him. It is just as 
if someone who had been entrusted with wealth and authority 
by a king should tyrannize over his benefactor, and His 
benefactor, seeing that he is to persist in his tyranny to the 
end, should rightly bring him to hand and punish him. 



Chapter 22 

Good and more than good is the Divinity, and so also is 
His will, for what God wishes, that is good. The command- 
ment which teaches us this is a law, so that we may abide 
in Him and be in light.-^ And the violation of this command- 
ment is sin. Sin results from the Devil's suggestion and our 
own unconstrained and free acceptance of it. And this, too, 
is called a law.^ 

The law of God, then, acts upon our mind by drawing 
it to Him and spurring on our conscience. And our con- 
science is also called the law of our mind. The suggestion 
of the Devil, or the law of sin, also acts upon the members 
of our flesh and through it attacks us. For, once we suc- 
cumbed to the suggestion of the Evil One and freely violated 
the law of God, we allowed this suggestion to gain entrance 
and sold ourselves to sin. For this reason our body is easily 
brought to sin. Hence, the odor and sense of sin which is 
inherent in our body, that is to say, the concupiscence and 
pleasure of the body, is also called a law in the members 
of our flesh. 



1 Mark 14.21. 



1 C£. 1 John 1.7. 

2 Cf. Rom. 7.23. 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK FOUR 389 

Accordingly, the law of my mind — my conscience, that 
is to say — rejoices in the law of God, or His commandment, 
and wills it. On the other hand, the law of sin — that is to 
say, the suggestion that comes through the law in our mem- 
bers, or the concupiscence and base tendency and movement 
of the body and the irrational part of the soul — fights against 
the law of my mind, that is to say, my conscience, and 
captivates me. It does this by insinuating itself, even though 
I do will the law of God and love it and do not will to sin, 
and it deceives me and persuades me to become a slave to 
sin through the softness of pleasure and the concupiscence 
of the body and the irrational part of the soul, as I have 
said. However, 'what the law could not do, in that it was 
weak through the flesh, God, sending his own Son in the 
likeness of sinful flesh' — ^for, while He assumed flesh, He 
by no means took on sin — 'hath condemned sin in the flesh. 
That the justification of the law might be fulfilled in us 
who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the 
spirit,' for 'the Spirit also helpeth our infirmity,' and gives 
strength to the law of our mind against the law which is 
in our members. 'For we know not what we should pray 
for as we ought: but the Spirit himself asketh for us with 
unspeakable groanings," that is to say, He teaches us what 
we should pray for. Hence, it is impossible to observe the 
commandments of the Lord except by patience and prayer. 



Chapter 23 

The seventh day was called the Sabbath and it means 
rest, for on it God 'rested from all his work,'^ as sacred 
Scripture has it. And it is for this reason that the numbering 
of the days goes up as far as seven and then starts over 

3 Rom. 8.3,4,26. 
1 Gen. 2.2. 



390 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

again from one. This number is held in honor by the Jews, 
because God prescribed that it be honored — not in any casual 
way, but under the most severe sanctions in case of viola- 
tion.^ What is more, He did not prescribe this arbitrarily, 
but for certain reasons which are perceptible in a mystic 
sense to spiritual and discerning men.^ 

At any rate, to start with the inferior and grosser things, 
as my unlearned self understands it, when God saw the 
grossness and sensuality of the people of Israel and their 
absolute propensity for material things, as well as their in- 
discretion, then first of all He prescribed that 'the man- 
servant and the ox should rest,'* as it is written. This was 
because 'the just regardeth the lives of his beasts, '^ but at 
the same time it was in order that they might rest from 
the distraction of material things and congregate to God to 
spend the entire seventh day 'in psalms, hymns and spiritual 
canticles,'^ in the study of sacred Scripture, and in taking 
rest in God. For, when there was no law or divinely inspired 
Scripture, neither was the Sabbath consecrated to God; but 
when the divinely inspired Scripture was given through 
Moses, then the Sabbath was consecrated to God, so that on 
that day such might have leisure to study it as do not con- 
secrate their entire lives to God nor with longing serve the 
Lord as Father but like unfeeling servants — the kind who, 
if ever they do allot some short and very small part of their 
lives to God, do so from fear of the punishment and chastise- 
ment attendant upon its violation. For 'the law is not made 
for the just man but for the unjust.'' Moses was the first 
to wait upon God for forty days fasting, and again for another 
forty days,' and, when he did so, he most certainly mortified 

2 E.g., Num. 15.32-36. 

3 Cf. Gregory Nazianzen, Sermon 41.2 (PG 36.429) . 

4 Deut. 5.14. 

5 Prov. 12.10. 

6 Col. 3.16. 

7 1 Tim. 1.9. 

8 Cf. Exod. 24.18; 34.28. 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK FOUR 391 

himself with fasting on the Sabbaths, although the law 
prescribed that they should not mortify themselves on the 
Sabbath day. However, should they say that this happened 
before the Law, then what will they have to say about Elias 
the Thesbite who made a forty-day journey on one meal?* 
For this man broke the Sabbath by afflicting himself on the 
Sabbaths of those forty days not only with fasting, but with 
traveling, and God, who had given the Law, was not angry 
with him, but on the contrary appeared to him on Horeb 
as a reward for virtue. And what will they say about Daniel? 
Did he not go for three weeks without food?^" And what 
about all Israel? Do they not circumcise a child On the 
Sabbath, if the eighth day happens to fall on it? And also, 
do they not keep the great fast, which is ordained by law, 
if it comes on the Sabbath? And also, do not the priests 
and levites profane the Sabbath in the works of the tabernacle, 
yet remain without blame?^^ More than that, should a 
beast fall into a pit on the Sabbath, he who pulls it out is 
without blame, while he who neglects it is condemned.^* 
And what about all Israel? Did they not circle about the 
walls of Jericho carrying the ark for seven days, on one of 
which the Sabbath most certainly fell?^' 

And so, as I said, for the sake of leisure time for God, in 
order that they might devote at least a minimum portion to 
Him and that their man-servant and beast might rest, the 
observance of the Sabbath was imposed upon them while 
still 'children and serving under the elements of the world,'^* 
carnal and unable to understand anything beyond the 
body and the letter. 'But when the fulness of time was come, 
God sent His only-begotten Son, made man of a woman, 
made under the law; that he might redeem them who are 

9 Cf. 3 Kings 19.8. 

10 Cf. Dan. 10.2,3- 

11 Cf. Matt. 12.5. 

12 Cf. Luke 14.5. 

13 Cf. Josue 6.4. 

14 Gal. 4.3. 



392 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

under the law: that we might receive the adoption of sons.'^^ 
For as many of us as received Him, He gave power to be 
made the sons of God, to those that believe in Him." And 
so we are no longer servants, but sons." We are no longer 
under the Law, but under grace.^^ We no longer give the 
Lord just partial service out of fear, but we are bound 
to dedicate the whole space of our life to Him and con- 
stantly to make the man-servant, by which I mean anger 
and desire, desist from sin, while at the same time turning 
him to the service of God. And while we constantly raise 
up all our desire to God, our anger we arm against His 
enemies. And the beast of burden, that is to say, our body, 
we release from the servitude of sin, while at the same time 
we urge it onto the fullest observance of the divine command- 
ments. 

These things the spiritual law of Christ enjoins upon us, 
and they who keep this law are become superior to the Law 
of Moses. For, since 'that which is perfect is come, that 
which is in part is done away,' and since the covering of 
the Law, the veU, that is to say, was rent because of the 
crucifixion of the Saviour and the Spirit was radiant with 
tongues of fire,^' the letter is done away, the things of the 
body have ceased, the law of servitude has been fulfilled, 
and the law of freedom has been given us. And we celebrate 
the complete adjustment of human nature, by which I mean 
the day of the resurrection upon which the Lord Jesus, the 
Author of life and Saviour, admitted us to the portion prom- 
ised them that worship God in the spirit, into which He en- 
tered as our precursor when He rose from the dead and, with 
the gates of heaven opened to Him, sat down corporeally 
at the right hand of the Father, where they also shall enter 
who keep the law of the Spirit. 

15 Gal. 4.4.5. 

16 John I.I2. 

17 a. Gal. 4.7. 

18 C(. Rom. 6.14. 

19 1 Cor. 13.10; Matt. 27.51; Acts 2.3. 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK FOUR 393 

We, then, who follow the spirit and not the letter must 
put aside all things of the flesh and worship in the spirit and 
be joined with God. For circumcision is really the putting 
aside of bodily pleasure and superfluous unnecessary things, 
since the foreskin is nothing more than a piece of skin, a 
superfious part of the pleasurable member. Moreover, any 
pleasure which is not from God and in God is a pleasure, 
the figure of which is the foreskin. The Sabbath, moreover, 
is the desisting from sin. Hence, both amount to the same 
thing, and when both are observed together in this way by 
those who are spiritual, they induce no violation of the law 
whatsoever. 

One must furthermore know that the number seven signi- 
fies all the present time,^" as the most wise Solomon says: 
'Give a portion to seven, and also to eight.'^^ Also, when the 
inspired David was singing a psalm for the octave, he sang 
of the state of things to be after the resurrection from the 
dead.^^ Therefore, when the Law prescribed that bodUy 
things be refrained from on the seventh day and time devoted 
to the spiritual, it intimated to the true Israel, the Israel 
which has a mind that sees God, that it should devote itself 
to God at all times and rise up above the things of the body. 



Chapter 24 

Men who are carnal and given to pleasure belittle virginity 
and offer by way of testimony the saying, 'Cursed be every 
man who raiseth not up seed in Israel.'''' But we, made con- 
fident by the fact that God the Word took flesh of a 
virgin, declare that virginity is from above and was im- 
planted in men's nature from the beginning. Thus, man 

20 Cf. Gregory Nazianzen, Sermon 45.15 {PG 36.644C) . 

21 Eccle. 11.2. 

22 Cf. Ps. 6.11. 



1 Cf. Deut. 25.5-10. 



394 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

was formed from the virgin earth. Eve was created from 
Adam alone. Virginity was practiced in paradise. Indeed, 
sacred Scripture says that 'they were naked, to wit, Adam 
and Eve: and were not ashamed.'^ However, once they 
had fallen, they knew that they were naked and being 
ashamed they sewed together aprons for themselves.' After 
the fall, when Adam heard 'Dust thou art, and unto dust 
return,' and death entered into the world through transgres- 
sion, then 'Adam knew Eve his wife: who conceived and 
brought forth.'* And so to keep the race from dwindling and 
being destroyed by death marriage was devised, so that by 
the begetting of children the race of men might be preserved.^ 

But they may ask: What, then, does 'male and female' 
mean, and 'increase and multiply'?^ To which we shall reply 
that the 'increase and multiply' does not mean increasing 
by the marriage union exclusively, because, if they had kept 
the commandment unbroken forever, God could have in- 
creased the race by some other means. But, since God, who 
knows all things before they come to be, saw by His fore- 
knowledge how they were to fall and be condemned to death, 
He made provision beforehand by creating them male and 
female and commanding them to increase and multiply. 
So let us continue along the road and see what the increments 
from virginity are, which is nothing else than to talk about 
chastity. 

When Noe was ordered to enter the ark and was entrusted 
with the safeguarding of the seed of the earth, he was given 
this command, which reads: 'Go in thou and thy sons, and 
thy wife, and the wives of thy sons." He separated them 
from their wives, so that with the help of chastity they 

2 Gen. 2.25. 

3 Cf. Gen. 3.7. 

4 Gen. 3.19; cf. Rom. 5.12; Gen. 4.1. 

5 Cf. Gregory of Nyssa, Oji the Making of Man 17 (PG 44.188-189') 

6 Gen. 1.27,28. ' 

7 Gen. 7.1; 6.18. 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK FOUR 395 

might escape the deep and that world-wide destruction. 
However, after the cessation of the flood, the command 
was: 'Go out thou and thy wife, thy sons, and the wives 
of thy sons.'^ Here, see how marriage was again permitted 
for the sake of increase. And, then, did not Elias, who 
rode up to heaven in a fiery chariot,' embrace celibacy 
and was not approval of this shown by his being endowed 
with a superiority over men? Who closed the heavens? 
Who raised the dead? Who divided the Jordan?^" Was 
it not Elias the virgin? And did not Eliseus, his disciple, 
ask for the grace of his spirit in double, and receive it, when 
he displayed equal virtue ?^^ And what about the three chil- 
dren? Was it not by practicing virginity that they became 
stronger than the fire, because by virginity their bodies had 
become impregnable to fire? Was there not a Daniel, whose 
body the teeth of wild beasts could not penetrate, because 
it had been hardened by virginity?^^ When God was about 
to appear to the Israelites, did He not enjoin them to keep 
their bodies pure?^' Did not priests purify themselves and 
thus enter the sanctuary and offer sacrifices?^^ Did not the 
Law proclaim chastity to be a great vow? 

Thus, the prescription of the Law must be taken in the 
more spiritual sense. For there is a spiritual seed which 
through charity and the fear of God is conceived in the 
womb of the soul, which in turn travails and brings forth 
the spirit of salvation. It is in this sense that the passage is 
to be taken which reads: 'Blessed is he who has seed in 
Sion and kindred in Jerusalem.' ^^ What, indeed ! Even though 
one be a fornicator, a drunkard, or an idolater, will he be 

8 Gen. 8.16. 

9 C£. 4 Kings 2.11. 

10 C£. 3 Kings 17.1; 17.22; 4 Kings 2.8. 

11 Cf. 4 Kings 2.9,14. 

12 Cf. Dan. 3.50; 6.22. 

13 Cf. Exod. 19.15. 

14 Cf. Lev. 21. 

15 Isa. 31.9 (Septuagint) . 



396 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

blessed, provided only that he has seed in Sion and kindred 
in Jerusalem? No one in his right mind would say that. 

Virginity is the habitual state of the angels, the peculiar 
characteristic of every incorporeal nature. We are not saying 
all this to decry marriage, God forbid, because we know 
that the Lord blessed marriage bv His presence,-^^ and we 
know the passage which says: 'marriage honorable and the 
bed undefiled."-^ We do, however, know that virginity is 
better than good. For with the virtues, as well as with the 
vices, there are greater and lesser degrees. We do know that, 
with the exception of the first parents of the race, all mortals 
are offspring from marriage, for our first parents were the 
work of virginity and not of marriage. Celibacy, however, is 
an imitation of the angels, as we have said. So, virginity is as 
much more honorable than marriage as the angel is superior 
to man. But what am I saying — an angel? Christ Himself 
is the glory of virgintiy, not only because He was begotten 
of the Father without beginning, without change, and with- 
out coition, but also because, when He became man like 
us, He for our sake took flesh of a virgin without any carnal 
union and exhibited in Himself the true and perfect vir- 
ginity. But He did not make this a law for us, because 'all 
men take not this word,'-'* as He Himself said. He did, how- 
ever, instruct us by His example and give us the strength 
to keep virginity, for to whom is it not clear that virginity 
is being observed among men now? 

The begetting of children which results from marriage is 
certainly good. Marriage, too, is good, because it does away 
with fornication and by licit intercourse prevents the frenzy 
of concupiscence from being excited to illicit actions.-^' 
Marriage is good for those for whom continence is impossible, 
but virginity is better, because it increases the fecundity of 

16 Cf. John 2.2. 

17 Heb. 13.4. 

18 Matt. 19.11. 

19 Cf. I Cor. 7.2. 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK FOUR 397 

the soul and offers prayer to God as a seasonable fruit. 'Mar- 
riage honourable, and the bed undefiled. For fornicators and 
adulterers God will judge.'^" 



Chapter 25 

The circumcision was given to Abraham before the Law, 
after the blessings and after the promise, as a sign to set 
him and those born of him and those of his household apart 
from the Gentiles in whose midst he was living.'^ And this 
is obvious, because, when Israel spent forty years alone by 
themselves in the desert without mixing with any other nation, 
all those who were born in the desert were not circumcised.^ 
However, when Josue brought them across the Jordan, they 
were circumcised and a second law of circumcision was made. 
For, under Abraham a law of circumcision was given, and 
then it was inoperative for forty years in the desert. Then, 
after the crossing of the Jordan, God again gave the law 
for a second time, as is written in the book of Josue, son of 
Nave: 'At that time the Lord said to Josue: make thee 
knives of stone from the sharpest rock, and sitting down 
circumcise the second time the children of Israel'; and a 
little further on: 'for during forty-two years Israel dwelt in 
the wilderness of Midbar, and for this reason very many 
were uncircumcised of the sons of the fighting men who had 
come out of Egypt, who had disobeyed the commandments 
of God and to whom he declared that they should not see 
the good land which he had sworn to give to their fathers, 
the land flowing with milk and honey. The children of these 
he made to succeed in their place whom Josue circumcised 

20 Heb. 13.4. 



1 Ci. Gen. 12; 13; 15; 17.10-14. 

2 John Chrysostom, Homily 39 on Genesis 4 (PG 53.366) . 



398 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

because of their not having been circumcised in the way.'^ 
Hence, circumcision was a sign by which Israel was set 
apart from the Gentiles among whom they lived. 

Now, this was a figure of baptism,* for, just as circum- 
cision cuts off from the body a part which is not useful, but 
a useless superfluity, so by holy baptism are we circumcised 
of sin. It is obvious that sin is a superfluity of concupiscence 
and of no use. For it is impossible for anyone not to have 
any concupiscence at all or to be entirely without any taste 
for pleasure, but the useless part of pleasure, that is to say, 
the useless concupiscence and pleasure, this is the sin which 
holy baptism circumcises. And holy baptism gives us the 
sign of the venerable cross upon our forehead but does not 
set us apart from the Gentiles, for all the Gentiles have at- 
tained baptbm and have been sealed with the sign of the 
cross. It does, however, distinguish the faithful in each nation 
from the infidel. Therefore, now that the truth has been 
made manifest, its figure and shadow is of no use. And 
so, to be circumcised is now superflous and a contradiction 
of holy baptism, for 'he who circumciseth himself is a debtor 
to the whole law."" The Lord, however, was circumcised 
that He might fulfill the Law. He also kept the Law in all 
things and observed the Sabbath that He might fulfill the 
Law and make it stand. But from the time when He was 
baptized and men saw the Holy Ghost coming down upon 
Him in the form of a dove, from that time on the spiritual 
worship and polity and the kingdom of heaven have been 
proclaimed. 

Chapter 26 

One should know that the Antichrist must come. Antichrist, 
to be sure, is everyone who does not confess that the Son of 

3 Josue 5.2; 5.6-7 (Septuagint) . 

4 a. Athanasius, On Sabbaths and the Circumcision (JPG 28.141BC) 

5 Gal. 5.3. 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK FOUR 399 

God came in the flesh, is perfect God, and became perfect 
man while at the same time He was God."^ In a peculiar and 
special sense, however, he who is to come at the consumma- 
tion of the world is called Antichrist.^ So, it is first necessary 
for the Gospel to have been preached to all the Gentiles, 
as the Lord said,' and then he shall come unto conviction 
of the impious Jews. For the Lord said to them: 'I am 
come in the name of my Father, and you receive me not: if 
another shall come in his own name, him you will receive.'* 
And the Apostle: 'Because they receive not the love of the 
truth, that they might be saved. Therefore God shall send 
them the operation of error, to believe lying: that all may 
be judged who have not believed the truth but have con- 
sented to iniquity.'^ Hence, the Jews did not receive the 
Lord Jesus Christ and God, although He was the Son of 
God, but the deceiver who says that he is God they will 
receive.^ For, that he will call himself God the angel who 
taught Daniel thus declares: 'He shall make no account 
of the gods of his fathers." And the Apostle: 'Let no man 
deceive you by any means; for unless there come a revolt 
first, and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition, 
who opposeth and is lifted up above all that is called God 
or that is worshipped, so that he sitteth in the temple of God, 
shewing himself as if he were God." 'In the temple of God,' 
he says — not, however, in ours, but in the former one, that 
of the Jews, for he will not come to us, but to the Jews — 
not for the sake of Christ and Christ's, for which reason, 
also, he is called Antichrist.' 

The Gospel, then, must first be preached in all nations, 

1 Cf. 1 John 4.3. 

2 Cf. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Discourse 15 12 (PG 33.885AB) . 

3 Cf. Matt. 24.14. 

4 John 5.43. 

6 2 Thess. 2.10,11. 

6 C£. John Chrysostom, Homily 4 on 2 Thessalonians 1 (PG 62.487) . 

7 Dan. 11.37 (Septuagint) . 

8 2 Thess. 2.3,4. 

9 C£. Cyril of Jerusalem, op. cit. 11 (PG 33.884-885) . 



400 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

'and then that -wicked one shall be revealed: whose coming 
is according to the working of Satan, in all power and signs 
and lying wonders, in all seduction of iniquity to them that 
perish: whom the Lord shall kill with the words of his mouth 
and shall destroy with the coming of his brightness.'^" Thus, 
the Devil does not himself become man after the manner 
of the incarnation of the Lord — God forbid! — but a man 
is born of fornication and receives into himself the whole 
operation of Satan, for God permits the Devil to inhabit him, 
because He foresees the future perversity of his will.-'-'- 

So, he is born of fornication, as we said, and is brought 
up unnoticed; but of a sudden he rises up, revolts, and 
rules. During the first part of his reign — of his tyranny, rather 
— he plays more the part of sanctity; but when he gains com- 
plete control, he persecutes the Church of God and reveals 
all his wickedness. And he shall come 'in signs and l)\ng 
wonders' ^^ — sham ones and not real — and he will seduce 
those whose intention rests on a rotten and unstable founda- 
tion and make them abandon the living God, 'inasmuch as 
to scandalize (if possible) even the elect.'" 

And Enoch and Elias the Thesbite will be sent and they 
shall 'turn the heart of the fathers to the children,'" that 
is to say, turn the synagogue to our Lord Jesus Christ and 
the preaching of the Apostles. And they will be destroyed 
by him. Then the Lord will come from heaven in the same 
way that the holy Aposdes saw Him going into heaven, per- 
fect God and perfect man, with glory and power; and He 
shall destroy the man of iniquity, the son of perdition, with 
the spirit of His mouth." So, let no one expect the Lord 
to come from the earth, but from heaven, as He Himself 
has positively assured us. 

10 2 Thess. 2.8-10. 

11 Cf. John Chrysostom, Horn. 3 on 2 Thess. 2, (PG 62.482') 

12 2 Tness. 2.9. 

13 Matt. 24.24. 

14 Mai. 4.6. 

15 Cf. Acts 1.11; 2 Thess. 2.8. 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK FOUR 401 

Chapter 27 

Furthermore, we also believe in the resurrection of the 
dead, for there really will be one, there will be a resurrection 
of the dead. Now, when we say resurrection, we mean a 
resurrection of bodies. For resurrection is a raising up again 
of one who has fallen. But, since souls are immortal, how 
shall they rise again? Well if death is defined as a separation 
of soul from body, the resurrection is the perfect rejoining 
of soul and body, and the raising up again of the dissolved 
and fallen animal.'^ Therefore, the very body which is cor- 
rupted and dissolved will itself rise up incorruptible. For He 
who formed it in the beginning from the slime of the earth 
is not incapable of raising it up again after it has again 
been dissolved and returned to the earth whence it was 
taken by the decision of its Creator. 

Now, if there is no resurrection, let us eat and drink^ and 
lead a life of pleasure and enjoyment. If there is no resur- 
rection, then how do we differ from brute beasts? If there is 
no resurrection, let us call the beasts of the field blessed, 
because their life is free from care. If there is no resur- 
rection, there is no God and no providence, and all 
things are being driven and carried along by mere chance. 
For just consider how very many just men we see in need 
and sufTering injury, yet getting no recompense in this present 
life, whereas we see sinners and wicked men possessing wealth 
and every luxury in abundance. Who in his right mind would 
understand this to be the work of righteous judgment or 
wise providence? Therefore, there will be, there certainly 
will be, a resurrection. For God is just and He rewards those 
who await Him in patience. Now, if the soul had engaged 
alone in the contest for virtue, then it would also be crowned 
alone; and if it alone had indulged in pleasures, then it alone 

1 Cf. Epiphanius, Ancoratus 88 (PG 43,180) ; Methodius, On the Re- 
surrection (PG 18.285) . 

2 Cf. 1 Cor. 15.32; Isa. 22.13. 



402 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

could be justly punished. However, since the soul followed 
neither virtue nor vice without the body, it will be just for 
them to receive their recompense together. 

Moreover, sacred Scripture, too, testifies to the fact that 
there will be a resurrection of the body. Indeed, God says 
to Noe after the flood: 'Even as the green herbs have I 
delivered them all to you: saving that flesh with blood of 
its life you shall not eat. And I will require your blood of 
your lives, at the hand of every beast I will require it. And 
at the hand of every man I will require the life of his brother. 
Whosoever shall shed man's blood, for that blood his blood 
shall be shed: for I made man to the image of God.'^ How 
can He require the blood of man at the hand of every beast, 
unless He raise the bodies of men who die? For beasts will 
not die in the place of men. 

And again to Moses: 'I am the God of Abraham, and the 
God of Isaac and the God of Jacob."* God 'is not the God 
of the dead,'' of those who have died and will never be 
again. Rather, He is the God of the living, whose souls 
live in His hand,^ and whose bodies wUl by the resurrection 
live again. And David, the ancestor of God, says to God: 
'Thou shaft take away their breath, and they shall fail, and 
shall return to their dust.' See how it is a question of their 
bodies. Then he adds: Thou shaft send forth thy spirit, and 
they shall be created: and thou shalt renew the face of the 
earth.'^ 

And Isaias also: 'The dead shall rise and those in their 
graves be awakened.'* And it is obvious that it is not the 
souls that are put in the tombs but the bodies. 

And the blessed Ezechiel also: 'And it came to pass as 
I prophesied, and behold a commotion. And the bones came 

3 Gen. 9.3-6 (Septuagint) . 

4 Exod. 3.6. 

5 Matt. 22.32. 

6 Cf. Wisd. 3.1. 

7 Ps. 103.29,30. 

8 Isa. 26.19 (Septuagint) . 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK FOUR 403 

together, bone to bone, each one to its joint. And I saw, 
and behold the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and 
spread over them, and the skin was stretched out over them." 
Then he relates how the spirits were commanded and re- 
turned. 

And the divine Daniel, also: 'And at that time shall 
Michael rise up, the great prince, who standeth for the 
children of thy people: and a time of tribulation shall come 
such as never was from the time that nations began on the 
earth even until that time. And at that time shall thy people 
be saved, every one that shall be found written in the book. 
And many of those that sleep in the dust of the earth shall 
awake: some unto life everlasting, and others unto reproach 
and everlasting shame. And they that are learned shall shine 
as the brightness of the firmament, and from the many just, 
as stars for all eternity and still they shall shine.'^" When 
he says 'many of those that sleep in the dust of the earth 
shall awake,' it is clear that he means the resurrection of 
their bodies, for I do not suppose that anyone would speak 
of souls sleeping in the dust of the earth. 

There is, moreover, no doubt that the Lord, too, has very 
clearly shown in the holy Gospels that there is a resurrection 
of the body, for 'they that are in the graves,' He says, 'shall 
hear the voice of the Son of God. And they that have done 
good things shall come forth unto the resurrection of life: 
but they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judg- 
ment."^-"- Now, no person in his right mind would ever say 
that it was the souls that were in the graves. 

And it was not only in word that He brought out the 
resurrection, but also in deed. First of all, He raised Lazarus 
who was four days dead and already putrified and stinking.'^^ 
It was not a soul devoid of a body that He raised, but a 

9 Ezech. 37.7,8 (Septuagint) 

10 Dan. 12.1-3 (Septuagint) . 

11 John 5.28,29. 

12 Cf. John II. 



404 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

body with its soul — not another body, but the same one 
which had putrified. For how would one know or believe 
in the resurrection of one who had died, were it not for 
the proof oflPered by his characteristic peculiarities? More- 
over, He also raised Lazarus, who was to return to death 
again, to show His own divinity and to give assurance of 
His and our resurrection. And then the Lord Himself became 
the first-fruits of the perfect resurrection which will never 
be subject to death. That is why the divine Apostle Paul 
said : 'If the dead rise not again, neither is Christ risen again. 
And if Christ be not risen again, our faith is vain, for we 
are yet in our sins' ; and : 'Because Christ is risen, the first- 
fruits of them that sleep' ; and 'firstborn from the dead' ; and 
again: 'For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again: 
even so them who have slept through Jesus, will God bring 
with him.'^^ 'Even so,' he said, 'as the Lord has risen.' 

And it is plain that the resurrection of the Lord was the 
uniting of a soul with an incorrupted body, for these had 
been separated, because He said: 'Destroy this temple; and 
in three days I will raise it up."-^ And the holy Gospel is 
a trusty witness to the fact that He was here speaking of 
His own body. 'Handle me and see,' the Lord said to His 
own disciples, who thought that they were seeing a spirit, 
'that it is myself, and that I am not different, for a spirit 
hath not flesh and bones, as you see me to have.' And when 
He had said this. He showed them His hands and His side 
and He held them out to Thomas to touch.^^ Now, are not 
these things a sufficient guarantee of the resurrection? 

Again, the divine Apostle says: 'For this corruptible must 
put on incorruption : and this mortal must put on immor- 
tality'; and again 'It is sown in corruption: it shall rise in 
incorruption. It is sown in weakness: it shall rise in power. 
It is sown in dishonour: it shall rise in glory. It is sown a 

13 1 Cor. 15.16,17,20; Col. 1.18; 1 Thess. 4.13. 

14 John 2.1951. 

15 Luke 24.39,40; John 20.27. 



ORTHODOX FAITH : BOOK FOUR 405 

natural body (which is to say, gross and mortal): it shall 
rise a spiritual body.'^° Such was the body of the Lord after 
the resurrection, the same which entered through the closed 
doors without difficulty and which needed neither food, nor 
sleep, nor drink. 'For they shall be,' says the Lord, 'like the 
angels of God,'^' and there shall no longer be marriage or 
begetting of children. Indeed, the divine Apostle says: 'But 
our conversation is in heaven: from whence also we look 
for the Saviour, our Lord Jesus Christ, who will reform the 
body of our lowness, unto its being made like to the body 
of his glory,^^ not meaning a transformation into another 
form — far be it! — ^but rather a change from corruption to 
incorruption. 

'But some man will say: How do the dead rise again?' 
Oh, what lack of faith! Oh, what stupidity! He who just 
by His will changed dust into a body and ordained that 
a little drop of seed should grow up in the womb to make 
this complex and multiform organ which is the body, will 
He not much more be able to raise up again the body which 
has already been made and then wasted away, just by wUling 
it? 'Or with what manner of body shall they come?' Senseless 
man, if thou art callous enough not to believe the words 
of God, then at least believe His works, for 'that which thou 
sowest is not quickened, except it die first. And that which 
thou sowest, thou sowest not the body which shall be: but 
bare grain, as of wheat, or some of the rest. But God giveth 
it a body as he will: and to every seed its proper body.'^' 
Consider, then, the seeds that are buried in the furrows as 
in graves. Who is it that engrafts roots upon them, stem and 
leaves and ear and those most delicate tassels. It is not the 
Creator of them all? Is this not done by the command of 
Him who fashioned all things? Then believe thus: that the 

16 1 Cor. 15.53,42-44. 

17 Mark 12.25. 

18 Phil. 3.20,21. 

19 1 Cor. 15.35-38. 



406 SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS 

resurrection of the dead also will come about by the divine 
will and sanction. For He has the power to correspond with 
His will. 

And so, with our souls again united to our bodies, which 
will have become incorrupt and put off corruption, we shall 
rise again and stand before the terrible judgment seat of 
Christ.^** And the Devil and his demons, and his man, which 
is to say, the Antichrist, and the impious and sinners will be 
given over to everlasting fire,^^ which will not be a material 
fire such as we are accustomed to, but a fire such as God 
might know. And those who have done good will shine like 
the sun together with the angels unto eternal life with our 
Lord Jesus Christ, ever seeing Him and being seen, enjoying 
the unending bliss which is from Him, and praising Him 
together with the Father and the Holy Ghost unto the endless 
ages of ages. Amen. 

20 Cf. Rom. 14.10. 

21 Cf. Matt. 25.41.