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Divine eternity, in which humans will participate, is not an infinite extension in time, but transcends all time. In Gregory, as in Origen and several Fathers influenced by the Origenian tradition, the eternity of God is closely related to God’s infinity, on which also Gregory’s conception of evpe,ktasij depends. For God transcends every dia,sthma of space or time. Gregory explains this well in C. Eun. I 1,371: the nature of God is absolutely eternal avi dioj because it is not situated in time, just as it is not located in a place: it is avdia,statoj. In Fragments on Matthew 487, he speaks of to. croniko.n touto dia,sthma, this temporal extension, and auvto. de. to. croniko.n dia,sthma, temporal extension itself. He also employs the term dia,sthma in reference to intervals of time in several passages, such as Comm. Matth.
15,28.34. In De Or. 27,13-14, Origen compares the extension or dia,sthma of a day with that of an entire aivw,n. Indeed, time, according to Origen, depends on the freedom of the no,ej and on God’s Providence, which respects their freedom but at the same time is also infallible in bringing all creatures to the eventual salvation C. Cels. V 21 etc.: the differentiation of the merits or demerits acquired by rational creatures through their free choices takes place in time, Moscow Metro Map which is the explication of the no,ej’s free will and free choices, and which extends through several aivwnej, but concludes with the avi?dio,thj of the apokatastasis Princ. II 3,5. In this connection, another convergence between Origen and Gregory of Nyssa is the description of eternal divine life as avdia,statoj, a term already used by Philo and, then, by Plotinus, who, like Origen, also employs dia,stasij, in addition to dia,sthma, in reference to time. Gregory in turn will oppose the corporeal nature, diasthmatikh,, Moscow Metro Map to the incorporeal one, avdia,statoj De an. 48; De hom. op. 23,3; C. Eun.12, where his adherence to Origen’s vocabulary is particularly evident.
It is in this light that we should consider Augustine’s conception of time and eternity, of the temporality of creatures and the eternity of God, a relationship that is analyzed in Book 11 of the Confessions. Whereas eternity, far from being an infinite extension in time, is a lack of extension and thus is timeless, time is an extension or dimension of the soul distentio animi, where distentio precisely corresponds to dia,sthmadia,stasij, and lack of extension to the idea of being avdia,statoj. Eternity was not and will not be, but it is an eternal present, and so it represents the fullness of being. Of course, eternity and the fullness of being are typical of God. The Plotinian background for this conception, both in Gregory of Nyssa and in Augustine, is evident: Plotinus too defined eternity as avdia,statoj, an eternal present, Moscow Metro Map proper to the fullness of Being. Tzamalikos has also proposed our seeing Origen’s influence behind Augustine’s conception of time and eternity, and, also in the light of recent studies on the influence of Origen on Augustine, I think he may be right. According to the former, however, in the end all rational creatures will participate in divine eternity and life.