St Gregory the Theologian (330 AD-390 AD) Theological Oration No 31:28 Translation: Lionel Wickham.

28
Thus do I stand, thus may I stand, and those I love as well, on these issues, able to worship the Father as God, the Son as God, the Holy Spirit as God—“three personalities, one Godhead undivided in glory, honor, substance, and sovereignty,” as one inspired saint of recent times wisely expressed it.(79) May he who does not stand thus, who is a time-serving turncoat, irresolute on matters of most import—may such a man, as Scripture has it, “not see the day star rising”(80) nor the glory of its heavenly brilliance! Were the Spirit not to be worshipped, how could he deify me through baptism? If he is to be worshipped, why not adored? And if to be adored, how can he fail to be God? One links with the other, a truly golden chain of salvation. From the Spirit comes our rebirth,(81) from rebirth comes a new creating, from new creating a recognition of the worth of him who effected it.
79 Gregory the Wonderworker, the distinguished pupil of Origen and hero of the faith for Basil, from whose (alleged) creedal exposition this is an inexact quotation.
80 Job 3:9.
81 Jn 3:3–5; Mt 28:19.

XXVIII. This, then, is my position with regard to these things, and I hope it may be always my position, and that of whosoever is dear to me; to worship God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, Three Persons, One Godhead, undivided in honour and glory and substance and kingdom, as one of our own inspired philosophers not long departed shewed. Let him not see the rising of the Morning Star, as Scripture saith, nor the glory of its brightness, who is otherwise minded, or who follows the temper of the times, at one time being of one mind and of another at another time, and thinking unsoundly in the highest matters. For if He is not to be worshipped, how can He deify me by Baptism? but if He is to be worshipped, surely He is an Object of adoration, and if an Object of adoration He must be God; the one is linked to the other, a truly golden and saving chain. And indeed from the Spirit comes our New Birth, and from the New Birth our new creation, and from the new creation our deeper knowledge of the dignity of Him from Whom it is derived.

From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers. Translation Browne-Swallow.

St Gregory the Theologian (329AD-391AD) Oration No 31:22-27.Transl. Lionel Wickham.

22 Some things mentioned in the Bible are not factual; some factual things are not mentioned; some nonfactual things receive no mention there; some things are both factual and mentioned. Do you ask for my proofs here? I am ready to offer them. In the Bible, God “sleeps,”47 “wakes up,”48 “is angered,”49 “walks,”50 and has a “throne of cherubim.”51 Yet when has God ever been subject to emotion? When do you ever hear that God is a bodily being? This is a nonfactual, mental picture. We have used names derived from human experience and applied them, so far as we could, to aspects of God. His retirement from us, for reasons known to himself into an almost unconcerned inactivity, is his “sleeping.” Human sleeping, after all, has the character of restful inaction. When he alters and suddenly benefits us, that is his “waking up.” Waking up puts an end to sleep, just as looking at somebody puts an end to turning away from him. We have made his punishing of us his “being angered”; for with us, punishment is born of anger. His acting in different places, we call “walking,” for walking is a transition from one place to another. His abiding among the heavenly powers, making them almost his haunt, we call his “sitting” and “being enthroned”; this too is human language: the divine abides in none as it abides in the saints. God’s swift motion we call “flight”;52 his watching over us is his “face”;53 his giving and receiving is his “hand.”54 Indeed every faculty or activity of God has given us a corresponding picture in terms of something bodily.
47   E.g. Ps 44(43):23(24).
48   Jer 31(38):26.
49   Ps 79(78):5; cf. Is 5:25.
50   Gen 3:8.
51   Is 37:16; Ps 80(79):1(2).
52   E.g. Ps 18(17):10(11).
53   Ps 4:6(7); 34(33):16(17).
54   Ps 145(144):16.

23
Again, where do you get those fortresses of yours, “Ingenerate” and “Unoriginate” from—or we the term “Immortal,” come to that? Show us the express words or we cross them out as unscriptural, and you will be dead as a result of your own principles, since the words, the wall of defense you trusted in,55 will have been destroyed. Is it not plain that these terms are derived from passages that imply, without actually mentioning them? The passages? What about: “I am the first and I am hereafter”56 and “Before me there is no other God and after me there shall be none”57 for all “is-ness”58 (God is saying) is mine, without beginning or ending? You have taken the truths that there is nothing before God and that he has no prior cause, and given him the titles “unoriginate” and “ingenerate.” The fact that there is no halt to his ongoing existence means he is “immortal” and “indestructible.”
The first two pairs stand accounted for. But what of the nonfactual things not mentioned in the Bible—such as “deity is evil,” “a sphere has four corners” or “man is not a compound”? Do you know anybody who has reached such a pitch of insanity as to venture to think, or show that he thinks, anything like that?
It remains then to exemplify things which are both factual and mentioned: “God,” “man,” “angel,” “judgment,” and “futility”—which is what your deductive arguments are, besides being an overthrowing of “the faith” and an emptying of “the mystery.”59
55   Cf. Ps 31(30):2(3).
56   Is 44:6.
57   Is 43:10.
58   Cf. Ex 3:14.
59   Cf. Rom 4:14; 1 Cor 1:17; 1 Tim 3:9.

24
There really is a great deal of diversity inherent in names and things, so why are you so dreadfully servile to the letter, so much the partisan of Jewish lore, following the syllables while you let the realities go? Supposing you mention “twice five” or “twice seven” and I infer from your words “ten” or “fourteen,” or suppose from your mentioning a “rational, mortal animal” I draw the conclusion a “man,” would you allege I was talking rubbish? How could I be? I am saying what you said. The words belong just as much to the man who infers the logical grounds for using them as they do to their actual user. In the examples I have just given I should be considering meanings rather than words, and so, in the same way, if I hit upon something meant, though not mentioned, or not stated in clear terms, by Scripture, I should not be put off by your quibbling charge about names—I should give expression to the meaning. This is how we shall make our stand against people whose views are only half right!
I cannot say as much to you. You deny so many really crystal-clear titles belonging to the Son that it is evident you would not respect them even if you got to know a host of even plainer ones. I shall go on now to take the argument a short stage further back and explain to you (experts though you are supposed to be) the reason for all this concealment.
25
There have been two remarkable transformations of the human way of life in the course of the world’s history. These are called two “covenants,” and, so famous was the business involved, two “shakings of the earth.”(60) The first was the transition from idols to the Law; (61) the second, from the Law to the Gospel.(62) The Gospel also tells of the third “shaking,” the change from this present state of things to what lies unmoved, unshaken,(63) beyond. An identical feature occurs in both covenants. The feature? They were not suddenly changed, even at the first moment the changes were put in hand. We need to know why. It was so that we should be persuaded, not forced. The unspontaneous is the impermanent—as when force is used to keep streams or plants in check. The spontaneous both lasts longer and is more secure. It belongs to despotic power to use force; it is a mark of God’s reasonableness that the issue should be ours. God thought it wrong to do men good against their will but right to benefit those with a mind to it. For this reason, he acts like a schoolmaster or doctor, taking away some ancestral customs, allowing others. He yields on some trifles which make for happiness, just as physicians do with the sick to get the medicine taken along with the sweeter ingredients artfully blended in. A departure from time-honored, customary ways is, after all, not easy. Am I making my point? The first change cut away idols but allowed sacrifices to remain; the second stripped away sacrifices but did not forbid circumcision. Then, when people had been reconciled to the withdrawal, they agreed to let go what had been left them as a concession. Under the first covenant that concession was sacrifice, and they became Jews instead of Gentiles; under the second, circumcision—and they became Christians instead of Jews, brought round gradually, bit by bit, to the Gospel. Paul shall convince you here. He progressed from circumcising64 and keeping ceremonial cleansings65 tothe point of declaring, “But if I, brethren, preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted?”66 His earlier conduct was an accommodation to circumstance; his later conduct belonged to the full truth.
60   Heb 12:26–27; Hag 2:6; Mt 27:51.
61   Ex 203–5.
62   Cf. Mt 27:51; Heb 9:3–15; Gal 2:14ff.
63   Heb 12:18.
64   Acts 16:3.t
65   Acts 21:26.
66   Gal 5:11.

26
I can make a comparison here with the progress of the doctrine of God, except that the order is exactly the reverse. In the former case change arose from omissions; here, growth towards perfection comes through additions. In this way, the old covenant made clear proclamation of the Father, a less definite one of the Son. The new covenant made the Son manifest67 and gave us a glimpse of the Spirit’s Godhead. At the present time, the Spirit resides amongst us, giving us a clearer manifestation of himself than before. It was dangerous for the Son to be preached openly when the Godhead of the Father was still unacknowledged. It was dangerous, too, for the Holy Spirit to be made (and here I use a rather rash expression) an extra burden, when the Son had not been received. It could mean men jeopardizing what did lie within their powers, as happens to those encumbered with a diet too strong for them or who gaze at sunlight with eyes as yet too feeble for it. No, God meant it to be by piecemeal additions, “ascents”(68) as David called them, by progress and advance from glory to glory,(69) that the light of the Trinity should shine upon more illustrious souls. This was, I believe, the motive for the Spirit’s making his home in the disciples in gradual stages proportionate to their capacity to receive him—at the outset of the gospel when he performs miracles,(70) after the Passion when he is breathed into the disciples,(71) after the Ascension when he appears in fiery tongues.(72) He was gradually revealed by Jesus also, as you too can substantiate by a more careful reading. “I will ask the Father,” he says, “and he will send you another Comforter, the Spirit of Truth(”73 )—intending that the Spirit should not appear to be a rival God and spokesman (of another power. Later he says: “He will send him in my name”(74) —leaving out “I will ask” but retaining “He will send.” Later on he says: “I shall send”(75) —indicating the Son’s own rank; and later: “He will come”(76) —indicating the Spirit’s power.

67   Cf. 1 Pet 1:20.
68   Ps 83:6 [LXX].
69   2 Cor 3:18.
70   Mt 10:1; Mk 6:7; Lk 9:1.
71   Jn 20:22.
72   Acts 2:3.
73   Jn 14:16–17.
74   Jn 14:26.
75   Jn 15:26 and 16:7.
76   Ibid.

27
You see how light shines on us bit by bit, you see in the doctrine of God an order, which we had better observe, neither revealing it suddenly nor concealing it to the last. To reveal it suddenly would be clumsy, would shock outsiders. Ultimately to conceal it would be a denial of God, would make outsiders of our own people. Let me add to these remarks a thought which well may have occurred to others already, but which I suspect of being a product of my own mind. The Savior had certain truths which he said could not at that time be borne by the disciples,77 filled though they had been with a host of teachings. These truths, for reasons I well may have mentioned, were therefore concealed. He also said that we should be taught “all things” by the Holy Spirit,78 when he made his dwelling in us. One of these truths I take to be the Godhead of the Spirit, which becomes clear at a later stage, when the knowledge is timely and capable of being taken in, when after our Savior’s return to heaven, it is, because of that miracle, no longer an object of disbelief. What greater truth could the Son promise or the Spirit teach than this one? If any promise or teaching ought to be deemed great, this ought .
77 Jn 16:12.
78 Jn 14:26 and 16:13.

Copyright St Vladimir Seminary Press.

St Gregory the Theologian Oration 31:17-21 On the Holy Spirit

17
I do not know whether we are to take jokingly or seriously the arguments you are using to undermine our account of the unity. Indeed, what is the argument?
Consubstantial things, it goes, are counted together
—meaning by “counting together,” “aggregation into one number.”
Things that are not consubstantial are not counted together. The result is that by your present argument you cannot avoid mentioning three Gods. We run no risk here, since we deny that they are consubstantial.
Yes, you have relieved yourself of trouble with a single word. Yet you gain a poor kind of victory—it is rather like people hanging themselves because they are afraid of death. To save yourself the exertion of defending monotheism, you have denied the Godhead and surrendered the point at issue to the enemy. For my part, I will not give up the thing we worship, even if it means some hard work. But I do not see what labor is involved here.

18
Consubstantial things, you say, are counted together, but things that are not consubstantial can only be indicated singly.
What school of mythology did you get that idea from? Do you not know that every number indicates an amount of objects, not their nature? I am old-fashioned enough, or rather, uncouth enough, to use the word “three” of things that amount to three, even if they differ in nature. But I say “one and one and one,” at all events so many units, even if the things in question are linked together in their substance. In doing so I am not attending to things, so much as to the amount of things referred to in counting them. Since you have such a strong attachment to the written word, despite the fact indeed that you are doing battle with the written word, you shall have my proofs from it. In the book of Proverbs there are three things with a stately walk—a lion, a goat, and a cock; and fourthly, there is a king making a speech amongst his people.40 I forbear to mention all the other sets of four things listed there, which are different in nature. In addition, I find two cherubim counted singly by Moses.41 How, according to your system, could those things in the book of Proverbs, which are utterly different in their nature, be “three”? How could the cherubim, which are of the same stock and closely connected, be counted singly? Were I to mention two masters, God and Mammon,42 counted as one group despite their remoteness from each other, I might well be laughed at even more for my way of counting things together.
40   Cf. Prov 30:29–31
41   Ex 25:18.
42   Mt 6:24.

19
But, someone may say, what I am talking about is things of the same substance being counted together that have nouns, which are mentioned as well, to match them. For example: Three men, three gods—not three odds and ends.
What answer are we to make? This is the behavior of a man who lays down the law for words, not one who uses them to speak the truth. What I am talking about is Peter, Paul, and John’s not being three or consubstantial, so long as three Pauls, three Peters, and as many Johns cannot be spoken of. We shall demand that you apply to more specific nouns the new-fangled rule you have kept to in the case of the more generic ones. Or will you break the rule by not conceding whatever rights you have assumed? Why does John in the Catholic Epistles say that there are “three who bear witness, the Spirit, the water, and the blood?”43 Is he not talking nonsense in your opinion? First, because he has been rash enough to count together things that are not consubstantial—and that right you only allow to things that are consubstantial. Who could call these “of one substance”? Secondly, because he happens to have got his grammar wrong. He puts the Greek word for “three” in the masculine and then tacks on three words in the neuter, in defiance of your definitive rules of grammar. Yet what is the difference between putting “three” in the masculine and tacking on single things in the neuter, and using “one” thrice in the masculine without calling them “three” in the masculine but instead “three” in the neuter? This is the very proposition you reject in the case of the Godhead!
What do we make of the fact that the same Greek word can mean the animal a crab, a pair of tongs, or the sign of the zodiac, Cancer? What about the word that can denote a dog, a dog-fish, or the dog-star in the sky? Do you not agree that people talk about “three crabs” or “three dogs”? Of course you do. Does that mean that they are of the same substance? What man in his senses would assert that? You see how your argument about counting things together has collapsed under the weight of so many proofs to the contrary. If consubstantial things are not always counted together and nonconsubstantial things are counted together, and if in both cases nouns are used along with the numerals, what is left of your doctrinaire pronouncement?

20
Let us look at an additional point which lies, I take it, within the present area of discussion. One plus one makes two, and two resolves into one plus one? Yes, of course. So if things added together are consubstantial and things separated are of different substances, what will happen according to you? The same things will have to be both consubstantial and of different substances. I scorn the way you pride yourself on putting things in numbered lists, as if the realities depended upon the sequence of the names. If that were really the case, what is to prevent the same things, by this argument, being both superior and inferior in worth to themselves, seeing that the same things are sometimes higher up, sometimes lower down the lists given in the Bible, just because they have an equal natural worth? I find that this same principle applies to “God” and “Lord,” and even more strongly to the prepositions “from,” “through,” and “in,”44 which you use to make an artificial system of the divinity, saying that
“from whom” applies to the Father, “through whom” to the Son and “in whom” applies to the Holy Spirit.45
What would you have got up to if each expression had been given a fixed allocation? As it is, you use them as a means of introducing such a deal of inequality in rank and nature, despite the fact that it is clear, to those who take the trouble to find out, that the prepositions are used jointly of all three.
That will do for men with at least some intelligence! But you have made one assault upon the Spirit and so you find it hard to have your impetus checked. Boars of the fiercer kind find it hard not to struggle on to the finish, and force themselves towards the sword. So do you, till you get its thrust full in you. Come then, let us look at the remainder of your argument.
44   Cf. Rom 11:36.
45   A large part of Basil’s On the Holy Spirit is concerned with the rebuttal of this alleged distinction. Basil drew back from calling the Spirit either “God” directly or “consubstantial,” since “God” is not scriptural and “consubstantial” is not used of the Spirit in the Nicene Creed.

21
Time and time again you repeat the argument about
not being in the Bible.
Yet we are dealing here not with a smuggled-in alien, but with something disclosed to the consciousness of men past and present. The fact stands already proved by a host of people who have discussed the subject, all men who read the Holy Scriptures not in a frivolous, cursory way, but with penetration so that they saw inside the written text to its inner meaning. They were found fit to perceive the hidden loveliness; they were illuminated by the light of knowledge. We shall, so far as possible, summarize their views, building on the “foundations of others”46 —we do not want to appear improperly and extravagantly ambitious. If the fact that the Biblical text does not very clearly or very often call him “God” (as it calls the Father “God,” in the Old Testament, and the Son “God,” in the New Testament) if this fact, I say, is the cause of your blasphemy, your inordinately verbose irreligion, we shall release you from this mischief by a brief disquisition on things and names, with special reference to Biblical usage. 46 Rom 15:20.
22 Some things mentioned in the Bible are not factual; some factual things are not mentioned; some nonfactual things receive no mention there; some things are both factual and mentioned. Do you ask for my proofs here? I am ready to offer them. In the Bible, God “sleeps,”47 “wakes up,”48 “is angered,”49 “walks,”50 and has a “throne of cherubim.”51 Yet when has God ever been subject to emotion? When do you ever hear that God is a bodily being? This is a nonfactual, mental picture. We have used names derived from human experience and applied them, so far as we could, to aspects of God. His retirement from us, for reasons known to himself into an almost unconcerned inactivity, is his “sleeping.” Human sleeping, after all, has the character of restful inaction. When he alters and suddenly benefits us, that is his “waking up.” Waking up puts an end to sleep, just as looking at somebody puts an end to turning away from him. We have made his punishing of us his “being angered”; for with us, punishment is born of anger. His acting in different places, we call “walking,” for walking is a transition from one place to another. His abiding among the heavenly powers, making them almost his haunt, we call his “sitting” and “being enthroned”; this too is human language: the divine abides in none as it abides in the saints. God’s swift motion we call “flight”;52 his watching over us is his “face”;53 his giving and receiving is his “hand.”54 Indeed every faculty or activity of God has given us a corresponding picture in terms of something bodily.
47 E.g. Ps 44(43):23(24).
48 Jer 31(38):26.
49 Ps 79(78):5; cf. Is 5:25.
50 Gen 3:8.
51 Is 37:16; Ps 80(79):1(2).
52 E.g. Ps 18(17):10(11).
53 Ps 4:6(7); 34(33):16(17).
54 Ps 145(144):16.

Translation Lionel Wickham.

Copyright St Vladimir Seminary Press.

St Gregory the Theologian Oration No 31:11-16.

11
What was Adam? Something molded by God.31 What was Eve? A portion of that molded creation.32 Seth? He was the offspring of the pair.33 Are they not, in your view, the same thing—the molded creation, the portion, and the offspring? Yes, of course they are. Were they consubstantial? Yes, of course they were. It is agreed, then, that things with a different individual being can be of the same substance. I say this without implying molding or division or anything bodily as regards the Godhead—no quibbler shall get a grip on me again here—but by way of contemplating spiritual realities, here presented on stage as it were. No comparison, indeed, can arrive at the whole truth in its purity.
What does this amount to? people will say. There cannot be two things, one an offspring and the other something else, coming from the single source.
Why not? Were not Eve and Seth of the same Adam? Whose else? Were they both offspring? Certainly not. Why?—because one was a portion of Adam, the other an offspring. Yet they had a mutual identity—they were both human beings, nobody can gainsay that. You have grasped the possibility of our position by means of human illustrations, so will you stop fighting desperately against the Spirit for your view that he must either be an offspring or not consubstantial and not God? I think it would be as well for you if you did, unless you are extremely determined to argue and fight plain facts. 31:Gen2:7. 32Gen 2:21–23. 33Gen 4:25.

12
But who worshipped the Spirit? it might be asked. Is there any ancient or modern example? Who prays to the Spirit? Where is the scriptural authority for worshipping or praying to him, from where did you get the idea?
We shall give fuller grounds when we discuss the question of what is not in the Bible, but for the present it will be sufficient for us to say just this: it is the Spirit in whom we worship and through whom we pray. “God,” it says, “is Spirit, and they who worship him must worship him in Spirit and in Truth.”34 And again: “We do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words.”35 And again: “I will pray with the Spirit but I will pray with the mind also”36 —meaning, in mind and spirit. Worshipping, then, and praying in the Spirit seem to me to be simply the Spirit presenting prayer and worship to himself. Would any inspired, any really knowledgeable man, disapprove of the idea that the worship of one is the worship of all three, in virtue of the equal rank and equal deity inherent in all three? Moreover, I shall not be put off by the argument that all things were, according to Scripture, made by the Son,37 the Spirit being one of the things included in the “all.” What Scripture says is that all things which were made,38 were made by the Son, not all things without further qualification—neither the Father nor all things unmade are included. Prove that the Spirit was made before assigning him to the Son, and grouping him along with creatures. Until you can do that, the inclusive phrase offers your irreligion no comfort. If he was made, he must have been made through Christ—I shall not deny it. But if he was not made, how could he be included in the “all,” or have been made through Christ? Stop giving a false dignity to the Father at the expense of the Only-begotten (it is a poor kind of honor, giving him a creature by robbing him of that nobler thing, a Son!) and to the Son at the expense of the Spirit. He is no creator of a fellow-slave like us, but is glorified with a peer in honor. Do not put yourself alongside the Trinity, lst you be banished from the Trinity. Do not truncate the single and equally august nature at any point. Because whichever of the Trinity you destroy, you will have destroyed the whole—or rather, you will have been banished from the whole. It is better to have a meager idea of the union than to venture on total blasphemy. 34 Jn 4:24. 35  Rom 8:26. 36  1 Cor 14:15. 37  Jn 1:3 38  Ibid

13
Our sermon has reached the fundamental point. Though I lament the reopening now of a long dead enquiry that had yielded to faith, we must nonetheless make a stand against babblers and not allow the case to go by default. The Word is on our side as we plead the Spirit’s cause.
If, it is asserted, we use the word “God” three times, must there not be three Gods? How can the object of glorification fail to be a plurality of powers?
Who are the spokesmen here? Is it the thoroughgoing in irreligion or is it also those of the second class, meaning people fairly sound on the Son? My argument applies to both, but is specially directed to the latter. This is indeed the approach I would adopt towards them. “Though,” I should say, “you are in revolt from the Spirit, you worship the Son. What right have you to accuse us of tritheism—are you not ditheists? If you deny worship to the Only-begotten as well, you clearly align yourselves with our opponents. Why should we deal tenderly with you, as though you were not utterly dead? But if you do revere the Son, if you have that much disposition towards salvation, we shall put a question to you: What defense would you make here, were you charged with ditheism? If you have any words of wisdom, give us an answer and provide us with a way to reply. The very arguments you can use to rebut the accusation of ditheism will suffice for us against the charge of tritheism.” Thus we win our case by using the prosecution to plead our cause. Could there be a nobler triumph than that?
14
But what is our case, our battle, against both parties alike? We have one God because there is a single Godhead. Though there are three objects of belief, they derive from the single whole and have reference to it. They do not have degrees of being God or degrees of priority over against one another. They are not sundered in will or divided in power. You cannot find there any of the properties inherent in things divisible. To express it succinctly, the Godhead exists undivided in beings divided. It is as if there were a single intermingling of light, which existed in three mutually connected Suns. When we look at the Godhead, the primal cause, the sole sovereignty, we have a mental picture of the single whole, certainly. But when we look at the three in whom the Godhead exists, and at those who derive their timeless and equally glorious being from the primal cause, we have three objects of worship.

15
But what does that amount to?, they might say. Do not non-Christians too, according to their more expert theoreticians, hold to a single Godhead, and do not we also hold to a single humanity, the whole human race? Nonetheless they think that there is a plurality of gods and not just one, in the way that there is a plurality of men.
Yes, but in these cases the universal is only a unity for speculative thought. The individuals are widely separated from one another by time, temperament, and capacity. We human beings are not merely composite; we are mutually opposed and inconsistent even with ourselves. We do not stay exactly the same for one day, let alone a lifetime. In our bodies and in our souls we are ever fluctuating, ever changing. I do not know whether this is true of angels and of all that exalted nature which comes next after the Trinity, or not. They, though, are not composite, and by their nearness to the crown of beauty are more firmly fixed in their relation to beauty than we are.

16
The “gods” and (as they themselves style them) “demons” worshipped by the pagans have no need of us to accuse them. They stand convicted by their own theologians of being affected by evil emotions, of being quarrelsome, of being brimful of mischief in all its varieties. They are opposed not simply to one another but also to their first causes, who are called Ocean, Tethys, Phanes, and I do not know what else. To cap it all, one god (according to these theologians) had such a lust for power that he hated his children and so insatiable was his desire to be the father of gods and men alike that he gobbled up all the rest of the gods; the ill-starred meal was then regurgitated. If these are mythical, allegorical tales (as those theologians, trying to avoid the ugly character these stories have, aver), how can they explain the phrase, “All things are thrice divided,” the fact that different gods preside over different things and that they have distinct elements under them and different grades?
But this is not the kind of thing we believe. “This portion does not belong to Jacob,”39 says my theologian. No, each of the Trinity is in entire unity as much with himself as with the partnership, by identity of being and power. This is how we explain the unity to the best of our ability to understand it. If the explanation here is convincing, we ought to thank God for the insight. If not, we should look for a better one. 39 Jer 10:16.

Translation Lionel Wickham. Copyright St Vladimir Seminary Press.