Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. IX:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
John of Damascus: Exposition of the Orthodox Faith.: Concerning our Lord's genealogy and concerning the holy Mother of God.
Chapter XIV.—Concerning our Lords genealogy and concerning the holy Mother of God 2436 .
Concerning the holy and much-lauded ever-virgin one, Mary, the Mother of God, we have said something in the preceding chapters, bringing forward what was most opportune, viz., that strictly and truly she is and is called the Mother of God. Now let us fill up the blanks. For she being pre-ordained by the eternal prescient counsel of God and imaged forth and proclaimed in diverse images and discourses of the prophets through the Holy Spirit, sprang at the pre-determined time from the root of David, according to the promises that were made to him. For the Lord hath sworn, He saith in truth to David, He will not turn from it: of the fruit of Thy body will I set upon Thy throne 2437 . And again, Once have I sworn by My holiness, that I will not lie unto David. His seed shall endure for ever, and His throne as the sun before Me. It shall be established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven 2438 . And Isaiah says: And there shall come out a rod out of the stem of Jesse and a branch shall grow out of his roots 2439 .
But that Joseph is descended from the tribe of David is expressly demonstrated by Matthew and Luke, the most holy evangelists. But Matthew derives Joseph from David through Solomon, while Luke does so through Nathan; while over the holy Virgins origin both pass in silence.
One ought to remember that it was not the custom of the Hebrews nor of the divine Scripture to give genealogies of women; and p. 85b the law was to prevent one tribe seeking wives from another 2440 . And so since Joseph was descended from the tribe of David and was a just man (for this the divine Gospel testifies), he would not have espoused the holy Virgin contrary to the law; he would not have taken her unless she had been of the same tribe 2441 . It was sufficient, therefore, to demonstrate the descent of Joseph.
One ought also to observe 2442 this, that the law was that when a man died without seed, this mans brother should take to wife the wife of the dead man and raise up seed to his brother 2443 . The offspring, therefore, belonged by nature to the second, that is, to him that begat it, but by law to the dead.
Born then of the line of Nathan, the son of David, Levi begat Melchi 2444 and Panther: Panther begat Barpanther, so called. This Barpanther begat Joachim: Joachim begat the holy Mother of God 2445 2446 . And of the line of Solomon, the son of David, Mathan had a wife 2447 of whom he begat Jacob. Now on the death of Mathan, Melchi, of the tribe of Nathan, the son of Levi and brother of Panther, married the wife of Mathan, Jacobs mother, of whom he begat Heli. Therefore Jacob and Heli became brothers on the mothers side, Jacob being of the tribe of Solomon and Heli of the tribe of Nathan. Then Heli of the tribe of Nathan died childless, and Jacob his brother, of the tribe of Solomon, took his wife and raised up seed to his brother and begat Joseph. Joseph, therefore, is by nature the son of Jacob, of the line of Solomon, but by law he is the son of Heli of the line of Nathan.
Joachim then 2448 took to wife that revered and praiseworthy woman, Anna. But just as the earlier Anna 2449 , who was barren, bore Samuel by prayer and by promise, so also this Anna by supplication and promise from God bare the Mother of God in order that she might not even in this be behind the matrons of fame 2450 . Accordingly it was grace (for this is the interpretation of Anna) that bore the lady: (for she became truly the Lady of all created things in becoming the Mother of the Creator). Further, Joachim 2451 was born in the house of the Probatica 2452 , and was brought up to the temple. Then planted in the House of God and increased by the Spirit, like a fruitful olive tree, she became the home of every virtue, turning her mind away from every secular and carnal desire, and thus keeping her soul as well as her body virginal, as was meet for her who was to receive God into her bosom: for as He is holy, He finds rest among the holy 2453 . Thus, therefore, she strove after holiness, and was declared a holy and wonderful temple fit for the most high God.
Moreover, since the enemy of our salvation was keeping a watchful eye on virgins, according to the prophecy of Isaiah, who said, Behold a virgin shall conceive and bare a Son and shall call His name Emmanuel, which is, being interpreted, God with us 2454 , in order that he who taketh the wise in their own craftiness 2455 may deceive him who always glorieth in his wisdom, the maiden is given in marriage to Joseph by the priests, a new book to him who is versed in letters 2456 : but the marriage was both the protection of the virgin and the delusion of him who was keeping a watchful eye on virgins. But when the fulness of time was come, the messenger of the Lord was sent to her, with the good news of our Lords conception. And thus she conceived the Son of God, the hypostatic power of the Father, not of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man 2457 , that is to say, by connection and seed, but by the good pleasure of the Father and co-operation of the Holy Spirit. She ministered to the Creator in that He was created, to the Fashioner in that He was fashioned, and to the Son of God and God in that He was made flesh and became man from her pure and immaculate flesh and blood, satisfying the debt of the first mother. For just as the latter was formed from Adam without connection, so also did the former bring forth the new Adam, who was brought forth in accordance with the laws of parturition and above the nature of generation.
For He who was of the Father, yet without mother, was born of woman without a fathers co-operation. And so far as He was born of woman, His birth was in accordance with the laws of parturition, while so far as He had no father, His birth was above the nature of generation: and in that it was at the usual time (for He was born on the completion of the ninth month when the tenth was just beginning), His birth was in accordance with the laws of parturition, while in that it was painless it was above the laws of generation. For, as pleasure did not precede p. 86b it, pain did not follow it, according to the prophet who says, Before she travailed, she brought forth, and again, before her pain came she was delivered of a man-child 2458 . The Son of God incarnate, therefore, was born of her, not a divinely-inspired 2459 man but God incarnate; not a prophet anointed with energy but by the presence of the anointing One in His completeness, so that the Anointer became man and the Anointed God, not by a change of nature but by union in subsistence. For the Anointer and the Anointed were one and the same, anointing in the capacity of God Himself as man. Must there not therefore be a Mother of God who bore God incarnate? Assuredly she who played the part of the Creators servant and mother is in all strictness and truth in reality Gods Mother and Lady and Queen over all created things. But just as He who was conceived kept her who conceived still virgin, in like manner also He who was born preserved her virginity intact, only passing through her and keeping her closed 2460 . The conception, indeed, was through the sense of hearing, but the birth through the usual path by which children come, although some tell tales of His birth through the side of the Mother of God. For it was not impossible for Him to have come by this gate, without injuring her seal in anyway.
The ever-virgin One thus remains even after the birth still virgin, having never at any time up till death consorted with a man. For although it is written, And knew her not till she had brought forth her first-born Son 2461 , yet note that he who is first-begotten is first-born even if he is only-begotten. For the word “first-born” means that he was born first but does not at all suggest the birth of others. And the word “till” signifies the limit of the appointed time but does not exclude the time thereafter. For the Lord says, And lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world 2462 , not meaning thereby that He will be separated from us after the completion of the age. The divine apostle, indeed, says, And so shall we ever be with the Lord 2463 , meaning after the general resurrection.
For could it be possible that she, who had borne God and from experience of the subsequent events had come to know the miracle, should receive the embrace of a man. God forbid! It is not the part of a chaste mind to think such thoughts, far less to commit such acts.
But this blessed woman, who was deemed worthy of gifts that are supernatural, suffered those pains, which she escaped at the birth, in the hour of the passion, enduring from motherly sympathy the rending of the bowels, and when she beheld Him, Whom she knew to be God by the manner of His generation, killed as a malefactor, her thoughts pierced her as a sword, and this is the meaning of this verse: Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also 2464 2465 . But the joy of the resurrection transforms the pain, proclaiming Him, Who died in the flesh, to be God.
In Reg. 2428 is added καὶ ᾽Ιωσὴφ τοῦ μνήστορος.84b:2437
Ps. cxxxii. 11.84b:2438
Is. xi. 1.85b:2440
Num. xxxvi. 6 seqq.85b:2441
Cf. Julius Afric., Ep. ad Aristidem, cited in Eusebius, Hist. Eccles. i. 7.85b:2443
Deut. xxv. 5.85b:2444
See the note in Migne.85b:2445
Text, τὴν ἅγιαν Θεοτόκον. Variant, τὴν ἅγιαν ῎Ανναν.85b:2446
St. Luke iii. 24 seqq.85b:2447
R. 2926 adds “Ethan,” the name being taken from Julius Africanus.85b:2448
Epiph., Hæres. 79.85b:2449
1 Sam. i. 2.85b:2450
Greg. Nyss., Orat. in nativ. Dom.: Eustath. in Hexaëm.85b:2451
Epiph., Hæres. 79.85b:2452
τῆς προβατικῆς, the Sheep-gate.85b:2453
Ps. 18:25, 26.85b:2454
Isa. 7:14, Matt. 1:23.85b:2455
1 Cor. 3:19, Job 5:13.85b:2456
Is. xxix. 11.85b:2457
St. John i. 13.86b:2458
Is. lxvi. 7.86b:2459
Ezek. xliv. 2.86b:2461
St. Matt. i. 25.86b:2462
1 Thess. iv. 17.86b:2464
St. Luke ii. 35.86b:2465
In R. 2926 is added, ὅπερ αὐτῇ προείρηκεν ὁ Θεοδόχος Συμεὼν, τὸν Κύριον ἐναγκαλισάμενος.
Next: Concerning the honour due to the Saints and their remains.
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