Fascination with wickedness obscures what is good, and roving desire perverts the innocent mind.
Wisdom of Solomon 4:12

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Human - Orthodox Dictionary

A human being is a psycho-somatic creature. This compound English word finds it etymological origin in the Greek words psyche, which is translated into the English word “soul”, and the Greek word somos which is translated into the English word “body”.  The term psycho-somatic then literally refers to a creature that is made up of “soul and body”.

However, to be human is not merely to possess soul and body, but to possess a soul and body made “in the image and in the likeness of God”. Therefore, for a creature to be human they must be in the words of the church fathers “god” with a little “g”.  The term refers to the human image and likeness of God and not to the essence of God. In other words, humans are not to be multiple essences of God the Trinity, but rather an essence in which the uncreated energy of the one God is at work, and by the willful cooperation of each person, God is made visible.
Many of the fathers speak this way, and they get the concept from the ancient Hebrew understanding that humans are made for Godlikeness. For example, the Lord Jesus Christ speaks this way in the gospel of St John.

Jn 10: 33 The Jews answered Him, saying, "For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God." 34 Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your law, 'I said, "You are gods" '? 35 "If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), 36 "do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, 'You are blaspheming,' because I said, 'I am the Son of God'? 37 "If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; 38 "but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him."

When our Lord says “gods”, He obviously does not mean that humans are little Trinities, or beings equal to or greater than the Trinity, but creatures in whom the Trinity's work or energy is visible. Therefore, to be human is to be God-like. For this reason, it is completely inaccurate to say, “I'm only human,” when a person makes a mistake, or does something improper. In those instances one should say instead, “I'm only in-human”.  To be truly human is to be wholly God-like.

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