Basil: Contra Eunomius 1.25

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Is there anyone in the world to whom it is not clear that greater than (John 14.28) is said either according to the account of cause, or according to excess of power, or according to pre-eminence of dignity, or according to superabundance of mass? So, then, Eunomius himself has already said that greater than is not to be understood according to mass. Now this is reasonable, since greater than is a question of magnitude to the same extent that both ‘lesser than’ and ‘even more so’ are. Who would compare with one another things uncircumscribed by magnitude, or rather thing without magnitude and completely without quantity? In what way would superiority be detected in things whose comparison is impossible?

Saying that Christ the power of God (1Cor 1.24) is deficient in power characterises those who are altogether infantile and have not heard the voice of the Lord, who said, I and the Father are one (John 10.30). The Lord takes this one as equality in power, as we will show from the very words of the gospel. For after he said concerning believers: No one will snatch them from my hand (John 10.28) and: The Father who gave them to me is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them from the hand of the Father (John 10.29) he added: I and the Father are one (John 10.30). Clearly he takes this one as equality and identity in power. Furthermore, if the ‘throne of God’ is a name of dignity (as we ourselves believe it to be), what else does this seat reserved for the Son at the right hand of the Father signify if not equal honour of their rank? The Lord also promised that he would come in the glory of the Father (Mt. 16.27).

All that remains, then, is that greater than is said here according to the account of cause. Since the Son’s principle comes from the Father, it is in this sense that the Father is greater, as cause and principle. For this reason too the Lord said the following: The Father is greater than I (John 14.28), clearly meaning insofar as he is Father. But what else does ‘Father’ signify, other that that he is the cause and principle of the one begotten from him? Generally speaking, a substance is not said to be greater or lesser than a substance, even according to your wisdom. Hence, according to them and truth itself, there is pre-eminence according to substance. In addition, Eunomius himself would not claim that the Father is greater according to mass, since he had declared that one must not suppose magnitude in connection with God. So, then, all that remains is the way of being greater than that we have stated, I mean that of principle and cause. So, then, such is how he attempted to blaspheme against greater than.