Nemesius an ancient Christian philosopher of the Greek Church, noted as the author of a work entitled Περὶ φύσεως ἀνθρώπου, was, according to the title of the work, bishop of Emisa or Emesa, in Phoenicia, and he is also mentioned as such by Anastasius Nicenus (Quaest. in S. Script. ap. iblioth. B Patrum, 6:157 [ed. Paris, 1575]). The time in which he lived cannot be determined with much exactness, as the only ancient writers by whom he is quoted or mentioned are probably Anastasius and Moses bar-Cepha (De Pazrad. 1:20, page 55 [ed. Antw, 1569]). He has sometimes been confounded with the heathen praefect of Cappadocia, Nemesius, praised by Gregory Nazianzen, who corresponded with him. It would seem, however, from the fact that his work mentions no author posterior to the 4th century, but often Apollinaris and Eunomius, that he lived some time in the 5th century; Ritter opines about the middle of that century, as the expressions he uses concerning the union of the Logos and the human nature (page 60, ed. Antw.) resemble the views sanctioned by the Council of Chalcedon. But there is no express reference to Nestorius and Eutychius, nor to the standing term of the two natures. At the same time there are evident references to the christology of Theodore of Mopsuestia, so that we may place the work at about the close of the first decade of the 5th century. The work was formerly attributed to Gregory of Nyssa, an error arising probably by a confounding of this treatise with that entitled Περὶ κατασκευῆς ὐνθρώπου. This mistake occurred the more readily from the great similarity of the views of the two writers. Yet in Nemesius the philosophical argument appears only occasionally in close connection with the Christian dogma, which, however, he always considers as decisive. He defended the theory of the freedom of the will against the doctrine of fatalism, and also held fast to some of the ancient philosophical views concerning the nature of the soul, pre-existence, and, in a certain sense, metempsychosis, while the Church rejected the doctrine of Origen. (Comp.
here, however, bishop Fell, Annotationes, page 20 [ed. Oxon. 1671].) After Christian theology had experienced the influence of philosophy (and especially of the eclectic Platonism of the 2d century), and thus received a scientific character, philosophy became absorbed in it without ceasing to exist, and thus we find Origen, Athanasius, and Augustine renowned both as philosophers and as theologians. But as dogmatics only attained the form of a traditional system in the 4th century, under the influx of Greek theology, there arose, besides theology, a sort of neutral ground, given up to special philosophical questions. Plato and Aristotle came again into honor. Nemesius, at least as regards method, sought to imitate the latter, but had not his power. His investigations are chiefly of a psychological nature. For him, as for Plato, the soul is an immaterial substance, involved in incessant and self-produced motion. The soul existed before it entered the body. It is eternal, like all suprasensible things. It is not true that new souls are constantly coming into existence, whether by generation or by direct creation. The opinion is also false that the world is destined to be destroyed when the number of souls shall have been completed; God will not destroy what has been well put together. Nemesius rejects, nevertheless, the doctrine of a world-soul. and of the migration of the human soul through the bodies of animals. In considering the separate faculties of the soul, and also in his doctrine of the freedom of the will, Nemesius largely follows Aristotle. Every species of animal, he says, possesses definite instincts, by which alone its actions are determined; but the actions of man are infinitely varied. Placed midway between the sensible and the suprasensible worlds, man's business is to decide by means of his reason in which direction he will turn this is his freedom. The work was extensively used by J. Philoponus, John of Damascus, Elias Cretensis, etc. The first Greek edition was published by Nicasius Ellebodius (Antw. 1565, 8vo), with a Latin translation; the next by bishop Fell (Oxon. 1671, 8vo), and the last and best by C.F. Matthaeus (Halle, 1802, 8vo). It is also published in Migne's Patrologie Greque. It was translated into English by George Wither (Lond. 1636, 12mo), into German by Osterhammer (Salzburg, 1819, 8vo), into French by J.B. Thibault (Paris, 1844, 8vo). and into Italian by omin. Pizzimenti (8vo). See Bitter, Gesch. d. christl. Phil. 2:461 sq.; Fabricius, Bibl. Graeca, 7:549 sq.: Bayle, Dict. Histor. et Crit. s.v.; Brucker, Hist. Crit. Philosoph.; Ueberweg, Hist. of Philos. 1:347, 349; Alzog, Patrologie, § 57; Haller, Bibl. Anat.; Smith, Dict. of Greek and Roman Biog. and Mythol. volume 2, s.v.; Haag, Hist. des Dogmes Chretiens, 1:245; 2:70.