Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Creation of Man

The Creation of Man, according to the Christian faith, is to be found in the first book of the Bible, i.e. Genesis. The famous story is known to all. However, how does the Church explain the creation of mankind? How does Tradition understand this? Below two Church Fathers are quoted, explaining this mystery of creation, showing the importance of man and identifying the relationship between man and woman, between Adam and Eve.

Gregory of Nyssa explains: ‘When Scriptures say that “God created man,” they mean all humanity by the use of this indeterminate formula. In fact, in this creation, Adam is not even named . . .  The name given to the created man is not “so-and-so” or “so-and-so” but rather the name of the universal man. For it is not in a part of human nature that the image is to be found, anymore than beauty resided in a particular quality, but it is on the whole race that the characteristic of the image is extended equally.’[1] 
Basil the Great, additionally, states (in a dialogue style text): ‘Oh no! So that no one, through ignorance, takes the word of man to mean only the masculine sex, the Scriptures add “man and woman he created them.” The wife also, like the husband, has the privilege of being created in the image of God. Their two natures are equally honourable; equal are their virtues; equal are their rewards; and alike are their condemnations. Let no woman say, “I am weak.” Strength is in the soul. Since assuredly the image of God [everywhere] carries the same honour, let the virtue and good works of both the husband and the wife be equally honourable. There is no recourse for those who want to use the weakness of the body as an excuse: but, by compassion, it [the body] is capable of enduring privations and of standing firm during vigils. Are males capable of rivalling females who go through life with privations? Can males imitate the endurance of females in fasting, in their ardent prayer, in the abundance of their tears, in their zeal for good works? . . . The virtuous woman possesses what belongs to the image. Woman, you have obtained the likeness of God by goodness, patience, attentive listening, by loving others and your brothers, by detesting evil and by dominating the passions of sin in order that the power to command might belong to you.’[2]  

[1] Gregory of Nyssa, Poemata Dogmatica VIII, v. 70-75, PG t 37, 185b, pp. 159-60.
[2] Basile of Caesarea, On the Origin of Man, Homily I, 18, Sources Chretiennes, pp. 213-15.  

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