Gregory Nazianzen and the heavenly and earthly witnesses

Steven Avery

Administrator
Gregory Nazianzen and the heavenly and earthly witnesses

This thread will include various elements related to Gregory Nazianzen.

And there is a sister thread that focuses on recent Net discussions:

Gregory Nazianzen - and James Snapp on the grammatical discordance on BVDB
https://www.purebibleforum.com/index.php/threads/a.781

We will start with the most well known reference.

Oration 31 - The Fifth Theological Oration. On the Holy Spirit, XIX
18. You say things of one essence are counted together, but those which are not consubstantial are reckoned one by one. Where did you get this from? From what teachers of dogma or mythology? Do you not know that every number expresses the quantity of what is included under it, and not the nature of the things? But I am so old-fashioned — or perhaps I should say so unlearned — as to use the word “three” of that number of things, even if they are of a different nature, and to use one and one and one in a different way of so many units, even if they are united in essence, looking not so much at the things themselves as at the quantity of the things in respect of which the emuneration is made. But since you hold so very close to the letter (although you are contending against the letter), pray take your demonstrations from this source. There are in the book of Proverbs three things which go well: a lion, a goat, and a ****; and to these is added a fourth: a king making a speech before the people, 22 to pass over the other sets of four which are there counted up, although things of various natures. And I find in Moses two cherubim counted singly.23 But now,
in your technology, could either the former thin gs be called three, when they differ so greatly in their nature, or the latter be treated as units, when they are so closely connected and of one name? For if I were to speak of God and Mammon as two masters, 24 reckoned under one head, when they are so very different from each other, I should probably be still more laughed at for such a connumeration.

19. But to my mind, he says ,25 those things are said to be connumerated and of the same essence of which the names also correspond, as three men, or three gods, but not three this and that. What does this concession amount to? It is suitable to one laying down the law as to names, not to one who is asserting the truth. For I also will assert that Peter and James and John are not three or consubstantial, so long as I cannot say three Peters, or three Jameses, or three Johns; for what you have reserved for common names we demand also for proper names, in accordance with your arrangement; or else you will be unfair in not conceding to others what you assume for yourself.

What about John, then, when in his Catholic Epistle he says that there are three that bear witness, the Spirit and the water and the blood? 26 Do you think he is talking nonsense? First, because he has ventured to reckon under one numeral things which are not consubstantial, though you say this ought to be done only in the case of things which are consubstantial. For who would assert that these are consubstantial? Secondly, because he has not been consistent in the way he has happened upon his terms; for after using three in the masculine gender he adds three words which are neuter, contrary to the definitions and laws which you and your grammarians have laid down.

For what is the difference between putting a masculine three first, and then adding one and one and one in the neuter, or after a masculine one and one and one to use the three not in the masculine but in the neuter, which you yourself disclaim in the case of deity? What have you to say about the crab, which may mean either an animal or an instrument or a constellation? And what about the dog, now terrestrial, now aquatic, now celestial? Do you not see that three crabs or dogs are spoken of? Why, of course it is so. Well, then, are they therefore of one substance? None but a fool would say that. So you see how completely your argument from connumeration has broken down, and is refuted by all these instances. For if things that are of one substance are not always counted under one numeral, things not of one substance are thus counted, and the pronunciation of the name once for all is used in both cases, what advantage do you gain towards your doctrine?

22 Prov. 30:29.
23 Ex. 25:19; 37:8.
24 Matt. 6:24.
25 I.e., Gregory’s Macedonian opponent, elsewhere addressed in the second person.
26. I John 5:8
Likely the best source for this section:

Edward Rochie Hardy (1908-1981)
Christology of the Later Fathers (1954)
https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.88945/page/n207/mode/2up
https://books.google.com/books?id=0PNnTTspIAcC&pg=PA205

Rochie discusses the 'Macedonian opponent' and gives footnotes in p. 302-207 that identifies references to:

Proverbs 30:29-31 (AV)
29 There be three things which go well, yea, four are comely in going:
30 A lion which is strongest among beasts, and turneth not away for any;
31 A greyhound; an he goat also; and a king, against whom there is no rising up.

Matthew 6:24 (AV)
No man can serve two masters:
for either he will hate the one, and love the other;
or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.
Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Exodus 25:19 (AV)
And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end:
even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof.

Exodus 37:8 (AV)
One cherub on the end on this side,
and another cherub on the other end on that side:
out of the mercy seat made he the cherubims on the two ends thereof.”

Roman s 11:26 (AV)
And so all Israel shall be saved:
as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer,
and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:

2 Corinthians 13:14 (AV)
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the communion of the Holy Ghost,
be with you all. Amen.
 
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Steven Avery

Administrator
Additional Gregory Nazianzen references

Oration 31 - The Fifth Theological Oration. On the Holy Spirit, IX

The three are one in Godhead, and the one three in properties; so that neither is the unity a Sabellian one, nor does the Trinity countenance the present evil distinction.
https://books.google.com/books?id=0PNnTTspIAcC&pg=PA199
https://books.google.com/books?id=SDswAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA320
Mike Ferrando added to this, using Knittel, and noting similarity with the Eusebius quote in Ecclesiastical Theology

Greek: ἑν τὰ τρία τῇ θεότητι, καὶ τὸ ἑν τρία ταῖς ἰδιότησιν· ἵνα μήτε τὸ ἑν Σαβέλλιον ᾖ, μήτε τὰ τρία τῆς πονηρᾶς νῦν διαιρέσεως. (Gregory, Oration 31.9; Migne Graeca, PG 36.141-144)

[Knittel] ...Gregory says, in his 37th Discourse [31st Oration : See the Greek text in Knittel’s footnote],

"The phrase 'the three are one' (Greek: ἑν τὰ τρία) is of such a nature, that neither the 'one' (Greek: ἑν) supports the opinion of Sabellius, nor the 'the three' (Greek: τὰ τρία) the notion of those who falsely separate those Divine persons." We see, then, from this passage, that the phrase 'the three are one' (Greek: ἑν τὰ τρία) interested the Orthodox and the Heretics; both wishing to discover their opinions of it. Phrases which equally interested the Heretics and the Orthodox, and to which they mutually appealed, were none other than phrases in Scripture. This is notorious, and self-evident. Consequently, it is manifest, from the passage just quoted, [I might say] "that the 'the three are one' (Greek: ἑν τὰ τρία), was a phrase in the Bible. Now, as Gregory and all other Greeks did not understand 1 John 5:8 of the Trinity, he must therefore have taken his 'the three are one' (Greek: ἑν τὰ τρία) from the 7th verse." The validity of this reasoning may be easily perceived and felt. For instance: if I say, "The Father of Jesus Christ is greater than He;" and add, "This word 'greater' does not support the opinion of Arius;" it will be immediately inferred that the clause, "The Father of Jesus Christ is greater than He," is taken from Scripture. (Knittel, New Criticisms on the Celebrated Text, 1829, p. 69-70) •
Mike also shares:
If "homoousian" was rejected because it was not in the bible, then the phrase "the three are one" would not be allowed to be used of the Godhead, unless it were biblical, nor would it be allowed in the creeds and confessions. So, the phrase "the three are one" is in fact a biblical phrase, thus the furor over Sabellius interpretation and exposition.

Letters on the Apollinarian Controversy - Letters, No. 101 - MG 37, 117 - NPNF VII, 439

And I say different [elements],7 because it is the reverse of what is the case in the Trinity; for there we acknowledge different [Persons] so as not to confound the Persons; but not different [elements], for the three are one and the same in Godhead.

7 The distinction is between neuter and masculine—in Christ there is manhood and Godhead (alio kai alio) in one Person, while in the one Godhead there are different Persons (alios kai alios).
https://books.google.com/books?id=0PNnTTspIAcC&pg=PA217 (with footnote)
https://books.google.com/books?id=leoK-f67rsYC&pg=PA161
Oration 45: The Second Oration on Easter
"But if we are to be released, in accordance with our desire, and be received into the Heavenly Tabernacle, there too it may be we shall offer You acceptable Sacrifices upon Your Altar, to Father and Word and Holy Ghost; for to You belongs all glory and honour and might, world without end. Amen."
Oration 45 - Chapter 4
"And when I say God, I mean Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; for Godhead is neither diffused beyond These, so as to introduce a mob of gods, nor yet bounded by a smaller compass than These, so as to condemn us for a poverty stricken conception of Deity, either Judaizing to save the Monarchia, or falling into heathenism by the multitude of our gods."
Oration 39 - Oration on the Holy Lights
For the Godhead is one in three, and the three are one, in whom the Godhead is, or to speak more accurately, Who are the Godhead... There is then One God in Three, and These Three are One, as we have said.
http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/310239.htm
https://books.google.com/books?id=leoK-f67rsYC&pg=PA161 (first part)
 
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Steven Avery

Administrator
KJV Today on Gregory Nazianzus

KJV Today is very strong on Gregory (and has been nicely utilized by James William Sheffield on the NT Textual Criticism forum of James Snapp)

Comma-absent readings give rise to a grammatical anomaly

Around 379 AD, Gregory of Nazianzus commented on the grammatical anomaly in 1 John 5:7-8 without the Comma. He says,

"...after using Three in the masculine gender [Apostle John] adds three words which are neuter,
contrary to the definitions and laws which you and your grammarians have laid down"
(The Fifth Theological Oration. On the Holy Spirit, XIX).

Gregory is referring to the grammatical mismatch that results from the masculine construction "τρεις εισιν οι μαρτυρουντες (there are three that bear witness)" introducing three neuter nouns, "το πνευμα (the Spirit)," "το υδωρ (the water)" and "το αιμα (the blood)". Although Gregory seemed to be defending the abbreviated text despite the anomaly, for such a defense to be necessary there likely were both variants in the body of Greek manuscripts.
Gregory of Nazianzus

Gregory of Nazianzus (c. 329 - 390 AD) cites the Comma in the vocative case in the following doxology at the end of Oration 45: The Second Oration on Easter:


"Εἰ δὲ καταλύσαιμεν ἀξίως τοῦ πόθου, καὶ δεχθείημεν ταῖς οὐρανίαις σκηναῖς, τάχα σοι καὶ αὐτόθι θύσομεν δεκτὰ ἐπὶ τὸ ἅγιόν σου θυσιαστήριον, ὦ Πάτερ, καὶ Λόγε, καὶ Πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον· ὅτι σοὶ πρέπει πᾶσα δόξα, τιμὴ, καὶ κράτος, εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων. Ἀμήν."

"But if we are to be released, in accordance with our desire, and be received into the Heavenly Tabernacle, there too it may be we shall offer You acceptable Sacrifices upon Your Altar, to Father and Word and Holy Ghost; for to You belongs all glory and honour and might, world without end. Amen." (English translation at New Advent)


ONLINE LINK to Oration 45: The Second Oration on Easter


The points supporting this as a citation or at least an allusion to the Comma are as follows:


  • The context is with respect to the "Heavenly Tabernacle", namely, God as revealed in heaven. This mirrors the context of the Comma in which the Father, Word, and Holy Ghost are said to be heavenly witnesses.

  • In this same document at chapter IV, Gregory refers to the Trinity in its usual formula as follows: "And when I say God, I mean Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; for Godhead is neither diffused beyond These, so as to introduce a mob of gods, nor yet bounded by a smaller compass than These, so as to condemn us for a poverty stricken conception of Deity, either Judaizing to save the Monarchia, or falling into heathenism by the multitude of our gods." After stating emphatically that by God he means "Father, Son, and Holy Ghost", it is curious that he would end the same document with a different atypical formula if it were not an import from an established source.

  • The context is ripe with scriptural allusions, namely to the "Heavenly Tabernacle" (Revelation 8:3), "Sacrifices upon Your Altar" (Revelation 15:5: "της σκηνης του μαρτυριου εν τω ουρανω"), and "glory and honour and might, world without end" (Revelation 5:13: "η τιμη και η δοξα και το κρατος εις τους αιωνας των αιωνων"). In this scripturally pregnant context, one must be in a state of denial to suppose that "Father and Word and Holy Ghost" alone is not a scriptural allusion.

  • Furthermore, these scriptural allusions at this last portion of Gregory's oration are all from the Johannine corpus, which makes it more likely that "Father and Word and Holy Ghost" is also from that same corpus.

  • In Oration 31, Gregory of Nazianzus had commented on the unconventional grammar of 1 John 5:6-8 in manuscripts without the Comma (as explained above [LINK]). As is typical among theologians, Gregory's comment may have elicited a debate concerning the unconventional grammar and possible reasons/solutions. Given the Comma existed in the Latin West at this time, it is likely that after composing Oration 31 and prior to composing Oration 45, Gregory had been made aware of the Comma as a possible solution to the grammatical anomaly. This is where Gregory may have committed the unique Trinitarian wording of the Comma to memory so as to make an allusion to it in Oration 45.
 
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Steven Avery

Administrator
Gregory Nazianzen through Germanus - three and one Trinity as witnesses

Irish Ecclesiastical Record (1869)
Traces of the Text of the Three Heavenly Witnesses (1869)
Abbe Le Hir
https://books.google.com/books?id=LRMEAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA274
https://archive.org/stream/irishecclesiasti05dubluoft#page/274/mode/1up

4. St. Gregory of Nazianzen, as cited by Germanus, of Constantinople, in the eighth century, thus alludes to the witness of the Trinity:—
(Greek)
"Statim ac illud unum cogito, trium luce circumdor: statim ac tria dividere vellem in illud unum attollor: sed re quis haec testimonia Trinitatis," etc
Trinitiy as a witness.jpg
 
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Steven Avery

Administrator
Holy Ghost - everlastingly ranged with and numbered with the Father and the Son.

From Mike Ferrando:

Revelation 16:5 : Gregory of Nazianzus (329-390 AD) : Oration 41 : Allusion

ἦν μὲν ἀεὶ, καὶ ἔστι, καὶ ἔσται
==
Τὸ Πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον ἦν μὲν ἀεὶ, καὶ ἔστι, καὶ ἔσται, οὔτε ἀρξάμενον , οὔτε παυσόμενον, ἀλλ' ἀεὶ Πατρὶ καὶ Υἱῷ συντεταγμένον, καὶ συναριθμού μενον· οὐδὲ γὰρ ἔπρεπεν ἐλλείπειν ποτὲ, ἢ Υἱὸν Πα τρὶ, ἢ Πνεῦμα Υἱῷ.
==

The Holy Ghost, then, always existed, and exists, and always will exist. He neither had a beginning, nor will He have an end; but He was everlastingly ranged with and numbered with the Father and the Son.

===SOURCE:
IX. The Holy Ghost, then, always existed, and exists, and always will exist. He neither had a beginning, nor will He have an end; but He was everlastingly ranged with and numbered with the Father and the Son. For it was not ever fitting that either the Son should be wanting to the Father, or the Spirit to the Son. For then Deity would be shorn of Its Glory in its greatest respect, for It would seem to have arrived at the consummation of perfection as if by an afterthought. Therefore He was ever being partaken, but not partaking; perfecting, not being perfected; sanctifying, not being sanctified; deifying, not being deified; Himself ever the same with Himself, and with Those with Whom He is ranged; invisible, eternal, incomprehensible, unchangeable, without quality, without quantity, without form, impalpable, self-moving, eternally moving, with free-will, self-powerful, All-powerful (even though all that is of the Spirit is referable to the First Cause, just as is all that is of the Only-begotten); Life and Lifegiver; Light and Lightgiver; absolute Good, and Spring of Goodness; the Right, the Princely Spirit; the Lord, the Sender, the Separator; Builder of His own Temple; leading, working as He wills; distributing His own Gifts; the Spirit of Adoption, of Truth, of Wisdom, of Understanding, of Knowledge, of Godliness, of Counsel, of Fear (which are ascribed to Him ) by Whom the Father is known and the Son is glorified; and by Whom alone He is known; one class, one service, worship, power, perfection, sanctification. Why make a long discourse of it? All that the Father has the Son has also, except the being Unbegotten; and all that the Son has the Spirit has also, except the Generation. And these two matters do not divide the Substance, as I understand it, but rather are divisions within the Substance.

==

Translated by Charles Gordon Browne and James Edward Swallow. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 7. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1894.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight.
www.newadvent.org/fathers/310241.htm

===SOURCE:

Oratio XLI. In Pentecosten [41]
Θʹ. Τὸ Πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον ἦν μὲν ἀεὶ, καὶ ἔστι, καὶ ἔσται, οὔτε ἀρξάμενον , οὔτε παυσόμενον, ἀλλ' ἀεὶ Πατρὶ καὶ Υἱῷ συντεταγμένον, καὶ συναριθμού μενον· οὐδὲ γὰρ ἔπρεπεν ἐλλείπειν ποτὲ, ἢ Υἱὸν Πα τρὶ, ἢ Πνεῦμα Υἱῷ. Τῷ μεγίστῳ γὰρ ἂν ἦν ἄδοξος ἡ θεότης, ὥσπερ ἐκ μεταμελείας ἐλθοῦσα εἰς συμ πλήρωσιν τελειότητος. Ἦν οὖν ἀεὶ μεταληπτὸν, οὐ μεταληπτικόν· τελειοῦν, οὐ τελειούμενον· πληροῦν, οὐ πληρούμενον· ἁγιάζον, οὐχ ἁγιαζόμενον· θεοῦν, οὐ θεούμενον· αὐτὸ ἑαυτῷ ταυτὸν ἀεὶ, καὶ οἷς συν τέτακται· ἀόρατον, ἄχρονον, ἀχώρητον, ἀναλλοίωτον, ἄποιον, ἄποσον, ἀνείδεον, ἀναφὲς, αὐτοκίνητον, ἀει κίνητον, αὐτεξούσιον, αὐτοδύναμον, παντοδύναμον (εἰ καὶ πρὸς τὴν πρώτην αἰτίαν, ὥσπερ τὰ τοῦ Μο νογενοῦς ἅπαντα, οὕτω δὴ καὶ τὰ τοῦ Πνεύματος ἀναπέμπεται)· ζωὴ, καὶ ζωοποιόν· φῶς, καὶ χορη γὸν φωτός· αὐτοαγαθὸν, καὶ πηγὴ ἀγαθότητος· Πνεῦμα εὐθὲς, ἡγεμονικὸν, κύριον, ἀποστέλλον, ἀφ ορίζον, ναοποιοῦν ἑαυτῷ, ὁδηγοῦν, ἐνεργοῦν ὡς βούλε ται, διαιροῦν χαρίσματα· Πνεῦμα υἱοθεσίας, ἀλη θείας, σοφίας, συνέσεως, γνώσεως, εὐσεβείας, βου λῆς, ἰσχύος, φόβου, τῶν ἀπηριθμημένων· δι' οὗ Πατὴρ γινώσκεται, καὶ Υἱὸς δοξάζεται, καὶ παρ' ὧν μόνων γινώσκεται, μία σύνταξις, λατρεία μία, προσκύνησις, δύναμις, τελειότης, ἁγιασμός. Τί μοι μακρολογεῖν; Πάντα ὅσα ὁ Πατὴρ, τοῦ Υἱοῦ, πλὴν τῆς ἀγεννησίας. Πάντα ὅσα ὁ Υἱὸς, τοῦ Πνεύματος, πλὴν τῆς γεννήσεως. Ταῦτα δὲ οὐκ οὐ σίας ἀφορίζει, κατά γε τὸν ἐμὸν λόγον, περὶ οὐσίαν δὲ ἀφορίζεται.

==

Migne Graeca PG 36, 441-442 [441B]
https://books.google.com/books?id=7fMUAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA411
 
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Steven Avery

Administrator
Charles Foster - Henry Thomas Armfield - Nathaniel Ellsworth Cornwall - and more

Armfield p. 23-24 - (this can be placed on a new thread, light ECW quoting of the Catholic Epistles)

First of all, by way of extenuation, a fact may be pleaded which does not seem to have been sufficiently regarded in previous discussions of the question before us — the fact, I mean, that comparatively slight notice seems to have been taken by the Greek Fathers, of the seven Catholic Epistles of St. James, St. Peter, St. John, and St. Jude. As to why this was so, various reasons will probably occur to those who are professionally acquainted with the subject ; but the fact remains that, on a general survey of early Greek Christian literature, the quotations from these Catholic Epistles are, even in proportion to their length, very much more rare than quotations from, say, the Epistles of St. Paul and certain other books of Holy Scripture. The copious indexes of Scriptural quotations, which generally accompany the large editions of Greek Fathers, furnish us with a ready means of arriving at something like an arithmetical estimate of this proportion. In St. Gregory of Nazianzum, for example, who might from the nature of his argument have been eminently expected to cite the disputed verse, and who actually does once cite the verse next to it, there are in the Cologne edition no less than seven folio pages of references to Scripture in his works ; yet, out of all this mass, there are but seven references to the whole of the Catholic Epistles.
CHAPTER IV.
LEADING DIFFICULTIES — TRUE CONTROVERSIAL VALUE OF THE VERSE.

But there is another plea to be advanced of an entirely different character. The difficulty, let it be remembered, is that the Greek Fathers do not quote the disputed verse in their arguments about the Trinity, when, it is alleged, it would have gone a long way towards settling the question at issue between the Catholic party and their opponents. There are, however, some considerations about the verse which would have made it in some respects an eminently undesirable verse to quote in answer to those particular opponents whom they had to combat. It is ....

Continues to p. 35, then the Grotius Arian issue to p. 37
Gregory is on p. 32-34
 
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Steven Avery

Administrator
Tim Dunkin - and referencing Franz Knittel

Tim Dunkin - 2010 (when less information was available than today, see above)
http://web.archive.org/web/20170107091941/http://studytoanswer.net/bibleversions/commadefense.pdf

While it seems that Gregory himself does not know of the Comma, it is also apparent that those with whom he was discussing the passage recognized a grammatical error that is present in the text if the Comma is not included. Knittel notes both the objection to verse 8 offered by Gregory's opponents on the basis of the grammatical solecism introduced by the deletion of the Comma, as well as Gregory's attempt to get around the problem by an effected indifference to the problem. He writes,

"And what says the venerable Greek bishop in reply? He says, "It is indifferent to me whether we say treis or tria, in speaking of things of the neuter gender. Yet, surely, the Linguists of his day would scarcely have conceded that point to him. Neither Gregory, nor any other Greek, as far as I know, confirms this rule by their style of writing. Neither can we attempt to call the treis marturountes, a Hellenism: at least, St. John has distinctly shewn, that he cannot be liable to such an imputation in the present instance; nor, indeed, throughout his First Epistle."79

Knittel's argument is simply that despite Gregory's indifference, no knowledgeable Greek writer in that day would actually have believed the argument Gregory makes. Gregory's indifference appears to be more intended to turn aside an argument from his opponents through denigration, rather than by an appeal to reason or fact. Gregory himself, as well as other Greek writers (including John himself), did not make the sort of grammatical error introduced into the Johannine text by the deletion of the Comma. Far from being discovered "lately" by Robert Dabney (as certain Critical Text supporters on various internet forums have tried to claim), recognition of the grammatical difficulty for the Critical text supporter in this passage was recognized by a Greek-speaking patristic writer over sixteen centuries ago, though he apparently did not know what to make of it.

79 F.A. Knittel, New Criticisms of the Celebrated Text 1 John v. 7, Ed. Trans. W.A. Evanson, p. 208
 

Steven Avery

Administrator
This is the earlier translation, very similar, than the one from Rochie, different footnotes.

A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church: Second Series, Volume 7 (1894)
Edited by Henry Wace and Philip Schaff
Gregory Nazianzen section by
Charles Gordon Browne. M.A.. Rector of Lvmpstone. Devon ;
James Edward Swallow. M.A.. Chaplain of the House of Mercy, Horbury.
https://books.google.com/books?id=inA7AQAAMAAJ&pg=PA323
https://books.google.com/books?id=GE9GDwAAQBAJ&pg=PA124
https://www.newadvent.org/fathers/310231.htm
https://englewoodreview.org/gregory-of-nazianzus-oration-on-the-holy-spirit/4/

Oration 31 - The Fifth Theological Oration. On the Holy Spirit, XIX

XIX. But to my mind, he says, those things are said to be connumerated and of the same essence of which the names also correspond, as Three Men, or Three gods, but not Three this and that. What does this concession amount to? It is suitable to one laying down the law as to names, not to one who is asserting the truth. For I also will assert that Peter and James and John are not three or consubstantial, so long as I cannot say Three Peters, or Three Jameses, or Three Johns; for what you have reserved for common names we demand also for proper names, in accordance with your arrangement; or else you will be unfair in not conceding to others what you assume for yourself.

What about John then, when in his Catholic Epistle he says that there are Three that bear witness, the Spirit and the Water and the Blood? Do you think he is talking nonsense? First, because he has ventured to reckon under one numeral things which are not consubstantial, though you say this ought to be done only in the case of things which are consubstantial. For who would assert that these are consubstantial? Secondly, because he has not been consistent in the way he has happened upon his terms; for after using Three in the masculine gender he adds three words which are neuter, contrary to the definitions and laws which you and your grammarians have laid down.

For what is the difference between putting a masculine Three first, and then adding One and One and One in the neuter, or after a masculine One and One and One to use the Three not in the masculine but in the neuter, which you yourself disclaim in the case of Deity? What have you to say about the Crab, which may mean either an animal, or an instrument, or a constellation? And what about the Dog, now terrestrial, now aquatic, now celestial? Do you not see that three crabs or dogs are spoken of? Why of course it is so. Well then, are they therefore of one substance? None but a fool would say that. So you see how completely your argument from connumeration has broken down, and is refuted by all these instances. For if things that are of one substance are not always counted under one numeral, and things not of one substance are thus counted, and the pronunciation of the name once for all is used in both cases, what advantage do you gain towards your doctrine?
 
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