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Author Topic: Essence - Energies distinction and 2 Peter  (Read 775 times) Average Rating: 5
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William
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« on: June 02, 2011, 03:20:48 PM »

Essence - ousia
Energies - energeia

2 Peter 1:2-4: "Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" [NKJV].

What word is used for "nature" in the original Greek text? And how does it relate to God's energies/essence? God's nature seems to me like it's closer to His ousia than His energeia, but then the verse would be saying we partake in God's essence which goes against St. Gregory Palamas' teaching.
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« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2011, 03:24:40 PM »

Greek: Physis.

The words "nature" "person" and "essence" changed in meaning a lot during the first centuries of Christianity. I don't think any Apostolic church views nature as essence in this passage.
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William
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« Reply #2 on: June 02, 2011, 03:26:24 PM »

Are physis and energeia the same thing?
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NicholasMyra
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« Reply #3 on: June 02, 2011, 03:34:04 PM »

Are physis and energeia the same thing?

In post Nicene/Cyrillian theology, Physis is more like essence/nature.

According to the Eastern Orthodox, Christ has two physis united in one single hypostasis.
According to the Oriental Orthodox, Christ has two ousia united in one single physis.

Language gets tricky, and as you can see, means different things to different people.

2 Peter would not mean to imply that we can know God's unknowable essence.
« Last Edit: June 02, 2011, 03:43:59 PM by NicholasMyra » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: June 02, 2011, 06:51:10 PM »

Essence - ousia
Energies - energeia

2 Peter 1:2-4: "Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" [NKJV].

What word is used for "nature" in the original Greek text? And how does it relate to God's energies/essence? God's nature seems to me like it's closer to His ousia than His energeia, but then the verse would be saying we partake in God's essence which goes against St. Gregory Palamas' teaching.

First, as others have somewhat stated above, the technical terms were not precise in the first centuries of Christianity, much less in the Holy Scriptures, so we're on shaky ground when we try to mash together the different usages of a single term. Second, although you'll often read people who say that "nature" and "essence" are synonymous, that is not correct, and that's not the universal, and most precise, usage of the Fathers. The terms for essence, nature, and person all developed over time to accommodate the consistent, though technically undefined, experience of the Church. That is, the experience came first and the language came second, and often imperfectly at that.

So, I would say that we partake of the divine nature because we partake of His energies.   Smiley
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« Reply #5 on: June 03, 2011, 11:14:30 AM »

Ok, I have another question.

Was Christ incarnate in His ousia? If so, then does Communion contain His ousia since it becomes Christ? Or does it contain only His energeia?
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« Reply #6 on: June 03, 2011, 12:01:17 PM »

Ok, I have another question.

Was Christ incarnate in His ousia? If so, then does Communion contain His ousia since it becomes Christ? Or does it contain only His energeia?
His divine ousia was truly united to his humanity without fusing and becoming indistinguishable. His Person is theanthropos (god-man).

So yes, he was incarnate in his ousia. In the same way that his divine ousia did not become his human ousia, I assume that in communion you do not become con-fused with the divine ousia and thus experience/know the presence of the real ousia through the divine energia.

St. Paul writes in his first Epistle to Timothy:
"For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time."

Christ's real humanity's presence in the Eucharist is what allows... I guess you could call holistic eucharistic communion with God himself.

I have never heard a doctrinal exposition on this point so I am merely assuming based on other incarnational theology.
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« Reply #7 on: June 06, 2011, 09:49:18 PM »

Would it be accurate to say that the divine physis encompasses both divine energeia and ousia?
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« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2011, 01:29:27 AM »

Would it be accurate to say that the divine physis encompasses both divine energeia and ousia?

Um... I think so?  Wink
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« Reply #9 on: June 07, 2011, 01:55:33 PM »

Would it be accurate to say that the divine physis encompasses both divine energeia and ousia?
I like that
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« Reply #10 on: June 07, 2011, 03:01:35 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Ok, I have another question.

Was Christ incarnate in His ousia? If so, then does Communion contain His ousia since it becomes Christ? Or does it contain only His energeia?
His divine ousia was truly united to his humanity without fusing and becoming indistinguishable. His Person is theanthropos (god-man).

So yes, he was incarnate in his ousia. In the same way that his divine ousia did not become his human ousia, I assume that in communion you do not become con-fused with the divine ousia and thus experience/know the presence of the real ousia through the divine energia.

St. Paul writes in his first Epistle to Timothy:
"For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time."

Christ's real humanity's presence in the Eucharist is what allows... I guess you could call holistic eucharistic communion with God himself.

I have never heard a doctrinal exposition on this point so I am merely assuming based on other incarnational theology.

Within the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo traditional interpretations of Cyrilian Christology but in Ge'ez theological language and concepts, we do not have any of these energies according to our Oriental sensibilities.  So when we Commune in our tradition, we receive both the Divine and Human unified Nature of Christ, because again it is only One nature.  There is no distinction, even in the Offering.  The Bread and Wine become the Deified Flesh and Blood of Jesus Christ just as the human ovum of our Lady Mary became the Deified human being of Jesus Christ.  We experience fully the Divine through the Incarnation, and we experience the Incarnation directly through our Communing with the Body and Blood of Our Lord at the Altar. 

While the EO theology of energies and essence is intellectually satisfying, it is redundant in its divisions.  We in the Oriental and particularly Ethiopian persuasion simply feel that it is unnecessary to make such a stratification of God's cooperating in our lives. The very purpose of the Incarnation according to our theological perspective was to bridge the gap between the Infinite and Inapproachable Godhead and our humble humanity.  Jesus Christ fully bridged this gap, putting and end to the gulf that had existed previously, so that the Divine and Human are One in His Flesh and Blood, and when we receive such we participate in this Oneness.  The EO theology explains that the Godhead is entirely separate from us created beings, and so God's energies transmit and translate the energy of the Godhead into creation.  We could agree with this in Oriental theology only if the implicit separation between energies and essence was not so rigid.  Surely we could accept that God uses a form of energies in the verb sense to operate in the created world as He is beyond Creation.  Of course, God being infinite, we should not assume that God necessarily HAS to be separated, as surely it is within the power of the Godhead even to condescend to operate directly in Creation? This is precisely what we teach in Ethiopian tradition, that the Godhead operates directly in the Communion that the previous gulf which had separated humanity from God to the point of death was bridged in God's own Flesh.

Much like with the Cyrilian debates, it is all really a matter of language, but then again, the secondary language is there to explain beliefs that were held before they had a description.  So languages aside, we should all communicate very carefully and attentively that we might mutually understand and respect each others differing perspectives and put aside confusion and mix ups.  Language can do that, it can either build or break communication, but luckily we Christians can commune beyond words through the Spirit Wink


stay blessed,
habte selassie
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NicholasMyra
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« Reply #11 on: June 07, 2011, 03:05:40 PM »

True, HabteSelassie. But it's important to note that in EO theology, the Person of God is the foundation of His being, and not Nature, Essence or Energy. And the teaching is that one can interact with and have a direct relationship with the Persons of the Holy Trinity, God Himself in His fullness.  Smiley
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« Reply #12 on: June 07, 2011, 03:16:46 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

True, HabteSelassie. But it's important to note that in EO theology, the Person of God is the foundation of His being, and not Nature, Essence or Energy. And the teaching is that one can interact with and have a direct relationship with the Persons of the Holy Trinity, God Himself in His fullness.  Smiley

See my brother that is exactly where language gets things so mixed up.  In the Ge'ez theological language of Ethiopian tradition, there is no distinction between "Nature" and "Person" in the sense that there can be no abstract "nature" without some kind of concrete "person/form" to manifest this "nature"

In the concept of the Godhead then, the Person of God is equally the Nature of God, because in Ge'ez we can't have an abstract Nature of the Godhead which does not exist in connection with His necessarily manifested Person. The Person/Form of God is not implicitly physical in the earthly sense, but in Ge'ez the Nature of God must have some kind of manifest form, even it is purely immaterial, spiritual, or inconceivable.  The Godhead then both exists as a Nature and a Person at the very same time and there can be no separation or distinction.  We agree entirely with the concept that the Person of God (ie, the manifested form) is the foundation of all being and the Godhead, however, the Nature is merely a description of the Person from our perspective.  The Nature is the concept behind and underlying the Person, but they are infinitely connected, that is, they can't be separated.  Ethiopian theology can't conceive of the abstract nature of anything aside from its manifested Person/Form, so again, it becomes a bit redundant from our perspective to have to even discuss it.  

Stay Blessed,
Habte Selassie
« Last Edit: June 07, 2011, 03:17:25 PM by HabteSelassie » Logged

"Yet stand aloof from stupid questionings and geneologies and strifes and fightings about law, for they are without benefit and vain." Titus 3:10
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