Orth.—Better were it for us to agree and abide by the apostolic doctrine in its purity. But since, I know not how, you have broken the harmony, and are now offering us new doctrines, let us, if you please, with no kind of quarrel, investigate the truth.
Orth.—This is what every heretic supposes. Aye, even Jews and Pagans reckon that they are defending the doctrines of the truth; and so also do not only the followers of Plato and Pythagoras, but Epicureans too, and they that are wholly without God or belief. It becomes us, however, not to be the slaves of a priori assumption, but to search for the knowledge of the truth.
Orth.—Since then you have made no difficulty in yielding to this my preliminary exhortation, I ask you in the next place not to suffer the investigation of the truth to depend on the reasonings of men, but to track the footprints of the apostles and prophets, and saints who followed them. For so wayfarers when they wander from the high-road are wont to consider well the pathways, if haply they shew any prints of men or horses or asses or mules going this way or that, and when they find any such they trace the tracks as dogs do and leave them not till once more they are in the right road.
Orth—Let us, therefore, first make careful and thorough investigation into the divine names,—I mean substance, and essences, and persons and proprieties, and let us learn and define how they differ the one from the other. Then let us thus handle afterwards what follows.
Orth.—Since we have decided then that this must be our course of procedure, tell me, my friend, do we acknowledge one substance of God, alike of Father and of the only begotten Son and of the Holy Ghost, as we have been taught by Holy Scripture, both Old and New, and by the Fathers in Council in Nicæa, or do we follow the blasphemy of Arius?
Eran.—Is there any difference between substance and hypostasis? 972
Orth—In extra Christian philosophy there is not, for οὐσία signifies τὸ ὄν, that which is, and ὑπόστασις that which subsists. But according to the doctrine of the Fathers there is the same difference between οὐσία and ὑπόστασις as between the common and the particular, and the species and the individual.
p. 162 Orth.—We speak of race or kind with regard to the animal, for it means many things at once. It indicates both the rational and the irrational; and again there are many species of irrational, creatures that fly, creatures that are amphibious, creatures that go on foot, and creatures that swim. And of these species each is marked by many subdivisions; of creatures that go on foot there is the lion, the leopard, the bull, and countless others. So, too, of flying creatures and the rest there are many species; yet all of them, though the species are the aforesaid, belong to one and the same animal race. Similarly the name man is the common name of mankind; for it means the Roman, the Athenian, the Persian, the Sauromatian, 973 the Egyptian, and, in a word, all who are human, but the name Paulus or Petrus does not signify what is common to the kind but some particular man; for no one on hearing of Paul turns in thought to Adam or Abraham or Jacob, but thinks of him alone whose name he has heard. But if he hears the word man simply, he does not fix his mind on the individual, but bethinks him of the Indian, the Scythian, and the Massagete, and of all the race of men together, and we learn this not only from nature, but also from Holy Scripture, for God said, we read, “I will destroy man from the face of the earth,” 974 and this he spake of countless multitudes, and when more than two thousand and two hundred years had gone by after Adam, he brought universal destruction on men through the flood, and so the blessed David says: “Man that is in honour and understandeth not,” 975 accusing not one here nor one there, but all men in common. A thousand similar examples might be found, but we must not be tedious.
Orth.—As then the name man is common to human nature, so we understand the divine substance to indicate the Holy Trinity; but the hypostasis denotes any person, as the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost; for, following the definitions of the Holy Fathers, we say that hypostasis and individuality mean the same thing.
Orth.—But all that naturally denotes the hypostasis ceases to be common to the Holy Trinity, and denotes the hypostasis to which it is proper, as, for instance, the names “Father,” “Unbegotten,” are peculiar to the Father; while again the names “Son,” “Only Begotten,” “God the Word,” do not denote the Father, nor yet the Holy Ghost, but the Son, and the words “Holy Ghost,” “Paraclete,” naturally denote the hypostasis of the Spirit.
Orth.—Yes, it calls both the Father and the Son “Spirit,” signifying by this term the incorporeal illimitable character of the divine nature. The Holy Scripture only calls the hypostasis of the Spirit “Holy Ghost.”
Orth.—Since then we assert that some terms are common to the Holy Trinity, and some peculiar to each hypostasis, do we assert the term “immutable” to be common to the substance or peculiar to any hypostasis?
Orth.—You have well said, for as the term mortal is common to mankind, so are “immutable” and “invariable” to the Holy Trinity. So the only-begotten Son is immutable, as are both the Father that begat Him and the Holy Ghost.
Orth.—How then do you advance the statement in the gospel “the word became flesh,” 976 and predicate mutation of the immutable nature?
Orth.—If He is not said to have become flesh by taking flesh, one of two things must be asserted, either that he underwent the mutation into flesh, or was only so seen in appearance, and in reality was God without flesh.
p. 163 Orth.—But in what sense do you mean “was made flesh”? “Took flesh,” or “was changed into flesh”?
Eran.—He who underwent mutation into flesh was made flesh, and, as I said just now, as He knows. But we know that with Him all things are possible, 977 for He changed the water of the Nile into blood, and day into night, and made the sea dry land, and filled the dry wilderness with water, and we hear the prophet saying “Whatsoever the Lord pleased that did He in heaven, and in earth, in the seas and all deep places.” 978
Orth.—The creature is transformed by the Creator as He will, for it is mutable and obeys the nod of Him that fashioned it. But His nature is immutable and invariable, wherefore of the creature the prophet saith “He that maketh and transformeth all things.” 979 But of the divine Word the great David says “Thou art the same and thy years shall not fail.” 980 And again the same God says of Himself “For I am the Lord and I change not.” 981
Orth.—If He was made flesh by mutation He did not remain what He was before, and this is easily intelligible from several analogies. Sand, for instance, when it is subjected to heat, first becomes fluid, then is changed and congealed into glass, and at the time of the change alters its name, for it is no longer called sand but glass.
Orth.—If therefore you assert that the Divine Word underwent the change in the flesh, why do you call Him God and not flesh? for change of name fits in with the alteration of nature. For if where the things which undergo change have some relation to their former condition (for there is a certain approximation of vinegar to wine and of wine to the fruit of the vine, and of glass to sand) they receive another name after their alteration, how, where the difference between them is infinite and as wide as that which divides a gnat from the whole visible and invisible creation (for so wide, nay much wider, is the difference between the nature of flesh and of Godhead) is it possible for the same name to obtain after the change?
Eran.—But the word “take” is your own invention. The Evangelist says the Word was made flesh. 982
Orth.—You seem either to be ignorant of the sacred Scripture, or to do it wrong knowingly. Now if you are ignorant, I will teach you; if you are doing wrong, I will convict you. Answer then; do you acknowledge the teaching of the divine Paul to be of the Spirit?
Eran.—Yes, for so have I learnt from the Apostolic Scripture “There are diversities of gifts but the same spirit,” 983 and again “All these things worketh that one and the selfsame spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will,” 984 and again “Having the same Spirit of the Faith.” 985
Orth.—Your introduction of the apostolic testimony is in season. If we assert that the instruction alike of the evangelists and of the apostles is of the same spirit, listen how the apostle interprets the words of the Gospel, for in the Epistle to the Hebrews he says, “Verily he took not on him the p. 164 nature of angels, but he took on him the seed of Abraham.” 986 Now tell me what you mean by the seed of Abraham. Was not that which was naturally proper to Abraham proper also to the seed of Abraham?
Orth.—Sin is not of nature, but of corrupt will. 987 On this very account, therefore, I did not say indefinitely what Abraham had, but what he had according to nature, that is to say, body and reasonable soul. Now tell me plainly; will you acknowledge that the seed of Abraham was endowed with body and reasonable soul? If not, in this point you agree with the ravings of Apollinarius. But I will compel you to confess this by other means. Tell me now; had the Jews a body and a reasonable soul?
Orth.—So when we hear the prophet saying, “But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend,” 988 are we to understand the Jews to be bodies only? Are we not to understand them to be men consisting of bodies and souls?
Orth.—But he who says that the Divine Word is changed into the flesh does not even acknowledge one Son, for mere flesh by itself is not a son; but we confess one Son who took upon Him the seed of Abraham, according to the divine apostle, and wrought the salvation of mankind. But if you do not accept the apostolic preaching, say so openly.
Orth.—It is because you lack intelligence, or because you are arguing for arguings sake, that the consistent seems inconsistent. It does not so appear to men who use sound reasoning; for the divine apostle teaches that the Divine Word was made Flesh, not by mutation, but by taking on Him the seed of Abraham. At the same time, too, he recalls the promise given to Abraham. Or do you not remember the promises given to the Patriarch by the God of the Universe?
Orth.—When He brought him out of his fathers house, and ordered him to come into Palestine, did He not say to him “I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee, and in thy seed 989 shall all families of the earth be blessed”?
Orth.—It is in relation to these covenants that the divine apostle writes in his Epistle to the Galatians “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made.” He saith not “seeds” as of many, but as of one…which is Christ, 990 very plainly showing that the manhood of Christ sprang from the seed of Abraham, and fulfilled the promise made to Abraham.
Orth.—Enough has been said to remove all the controversy raised on this point. But I will nevertheless remind you of another prediction. The blessing given to the Patriarch Jacob and to his father and his grandfather was given by him to his son Judah alone. He said “A Prince shall not fail Judah, nor a leader from his loins, until he shall have come to whom it is in store, and he is the expectation of the Gentiles.” 991 Or do you not accept this prediction as spoken of the Saviour Christ?
Orth.—Since then you confess that you believe the prophecies and acknowledge the predictions have been divinely uttered about our Saviour, consider what follows as to the intention of the words of the apostle, for while pointing out that the promises made to the patriarchs have reached their fulfilment, he uttered those remarkable words 992 “He p. 165 took not on Him the nature of angels,” all but saying the promise is true; the Lord has fulfilled His pledges; the fount of blessing is open to the gentiles; God had taken on Him the seed of Abraham; through it He brings about the promised salvation; through it He confirms the promise of the gentiles.
Orth.—So again the divine apostle, reminding us of the blessing of Judah, and pointing out how it received its fulfilment exclaims 993 “For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Judah.” So too the Prophet 994 Micah and the evangelist 995 Matthew. For the former spoke his prediction, and the latter connects the prophecy with his narrative. What is extraordinary is that he says that the open enemies of the truth plainly told Herod that the Christ is born in Bethlehem, for it is written, he says, “And thou Bethlehem in the land of Judah art not the least among the Princes of Judah for out of thee shall come a Governor who shall rule my people Israel.” 996 Now let us subjoin what the Jews in their malignity omitted and so made the witness imperfect. For the prophet, after saying “Out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be Ruler in Israel” adds “Whose goings forth have been of old, from everlasting.” 997
Orth.—Not God only but also Man; Man as sprung from Judah after the flesh and born in Bethlehem; and God as existing before the ages. For the words “Out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be Ruler,” shew his birth after the flesh which has taken place in the last days; while the words “Whose goings forth have been of old, from everlasting” plainly proclaim His existence before the ages. In like manner also the divine apostle in his Epistle to the Romans bewailing the change to the worse of the ancient felicity of the Jews, and calling to mind their divine promises and legislation, goes on to say “Whose are the fathers, and of whom concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all God blessed for ever Amen,” 998 and in this same passage he exhibits Him both as Creator of all things and Lord and Ruler as God and as sprung from the Jews as man.
Eran.—“This is our God and there shall none other be accounted of in comparison to him—he hath found out all the way of knowledge, and hath given it unto Jacob his servant and to Israel his beloved. Afterward did he shew himself upon earth and conversed with men.” 999
Orth.—What then is the good of reasoning? Do we say that the Divine nature is invisible? or do we dissent from the Apostle when he says 1000 “Immortal, invisible, the only God.”
Orth.—How then was it possible for the invisible nature to be seen without a body? Or do you not remember those words of the apostle in which he distinctly teaches the invisibility of the divine nature? He says “Whom no man hath seen nor can see.” 1001 If therefore the Divine Nature is invisible to men, and I will add too to Angels, tell me how he who cannot be seen or beheld was seen upon earth?
Eran.—The Prophet says 1002 he was seen on the earth.
Orth.—You know how a moment ago we p. 166 made the word of the evangelist clear by means of the testimony of the apostle; and that the divine apostle showed us how the Word became Flesh, saying plainly “for verily He took not on Him the nature of angels but He took on Him the seed of Abraham.” 1005 The same teacher will teach us how the divine Word was seen upon the earth and dwelt among men.
Orth.—The divine apostle, writing to Timothy, also says “without controversy great is the mystery of godliness. God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” 1006
It is therefore plain that the divine nature is invisible, but the flesh visible, and that through the visible the invisible was seen, by its means working wonders and unveiling its own power, for with the hand He fashioned the sense of seeing and healed him that was blind from birth. Again He gave the power of hearing to the deaf, and loosed the fettered tongue, using his fingers for a tool and applying his spittle like some healing medicine. So again when He walked upon the sea He displayed the almighty power of the Godhead. Fitly, therefore, did the apostle say “God was manifest in the flesh.” For through it appeared the invisible nature beheld by its means by the angel hosts, for “He was seen,” he says, “of angels.”
Eran.—But the Lord said, “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones, for I say unto you that their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.” 1007
Orth.—But the Lord said again, “Not that any man hath seen the Father save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father.” 1008 Wherefore the evangelist plainly exclaims, “No man hath seen God at any time,” 1009 and confirms the word of the Lord, for he says, “The only begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father He hath declared Him,” and the great Moses, when he desired to see the invisible nature, heard the Lord God saying, “There shall no man see me and live.” 1010
Eran.—Yet we hear the divine scripture saying God appeared unto Abraham at the oak of Mamre; 1011 and Isaiah says “I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne high and lifted up,” 1012 and the same thing is said by Micah, by Daniel and Ezekiel. And of the lawgiver Moses it is related that “The Lord spake to Moses face to face as a man speaketh unto his friend,” 1013 and the God of the universe Himself said, “With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently and not in dark speeches.” 1014 What then shall we say; did they behold the divine nature?
Orth.—Yes; and this He has shewn through the Prophet, “for I,” He says, “have multiplied visions and by the hands of the Prophets was made like.” 1015
He does not say “was seen” but “was made like.” And making like does not shew the very nature of the thing seen. For even the image of the emperor does not exhibit the emperors nature, though it distinctly preserves his features.
Eran.—This is obscure and not suffip. 167 ciently plain. Was not then the substance of God seen by them who beheld those revelations?
Orth.—Yes; it is said; but we both in the exercise of reverent reason, and in reliance on the Divine utterances, which exclaim distinctly, “No man hath seen God at any time,” affirm that they did not see the Divine Nature, but certain visions adapted to their capacity.
Orth.—So also then let us understand of the angels when we hear that they daily see the face of your Father. 1016 For what they see is not the divine substance which cannot be circumscribed, comprehended, or apprehended, which embraces the universe, but some glory made commensurate with their nature.
Orth.—After the incarnation, however, He was seen also of angels, as the divine apostle says, not however by similitude of glory, but using the true and living covering of the flesh as a kind of screen. “God,” he says, “was made manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels.” 1017
Orth.—You do not seem to be a very diligent reader of your Bible; if you had been you would not have found fault with what we have said as in a figure. For first of all the fact that the divine apostle says that the invisible nature was made manifest through the flesh allows us to understand the flesh as a screen of the Godhead. Secondly, the divine apostle in his Epistle to the Hebrews, distinctly uses the phrase, for he says, “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the Holiest by the blood of Jesus by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say his flesh; and having an High Priest over the House of God. Coming with truth drawing near with a true heart in fulness of faith.” 1018
Orth.—I will make you yourself testify to the truth of the promise. You know how the Patriarch Jacob, when he was addressing Judah, limited the sovereignty of Judah by the birth of the Lord. 1019 “A prince shall not fail Judah, nor a leader from his loins until he shall have come to whom it is in store and he is the expectation of the Gentiles.” You have already confessed that this prophecy was uttered about the saviour.
Orth.—Remember then what follows; for he says “And unto him shall the gathering of the people be…he shall wash his robe in wine and his mantle in the blood of the grape.” 1020
Orth.—Answer I beseech you more reverently. 1021 Perhaps some of the uninitiated are within hearing.
Eran.—Yes I know that he said “I am the true vine.” 1022
Eran.—Blood and water. 1023
Orth.—Well, then; he called the Saviours blood blood of the grape, for if the Lord is called a vine, and the fruit of the vine wine, and from the Lords side streams of blood and water flowed downwards over the rest of his body, fitly and appropriately the Patriarch foretells “He shall wash his robe in wine and his mantle in blood of the grape.” For as we after the consecration call the mystic fruit of the vine p. 168 the Lords blood, so he called the blood of the true vine blood of the grape.
Eran.—Yes, I know. For I have heard Him saying “The hour is come that the Son of man should be glorified,” 1024 and “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die it bringeth forth much fruit.” 1025
Orth.—To them that are initiated in divine things the intention is plain. For he wished the partakers in the divine mysteries not to give heed to the nature of the visible objects, but, by means of the variation of the names, to believe the change wrought of grace. For He, we know, who spoke of his natural body as corn and bread, and, again, called Himself a vine, dignified the visible symbols by the appellation of the body and blood, not because He had changed their nature, but because to their nature He had added grace. 1026
Orth.—Since then it is agreed that the body of the Lord is called by the patriarch “robe” and “mantle” 1027 and we have reached the discussion of the divine mysteries, tell me truly, of what do you understand the Holy Food to be a symbol and type? Of the godhead of the Lord Christ, or of His body and His blood?
Orth.—You have spoken as a lover of truth should speak, for when the Lord had taken the symbol, He did not say “this is my godhead,” but “this is my body;” and again “this is my blood” 1028 and in another place “the bread that I will give is my flesh which I will give for the life of the world.” 1029
Orth.—It seems, as the proverb has it, as if we are drawing water in a pail with a hole in it. 1030 For after all our demonstrations and solutions of difficulties, you are bringing the same arguments round again.
Orth.—And yet we shewed how, being invisible, He was made manifest through flesh, and the relationship of this very flesh we have been taught by the sacred writers—“He took on Him the seed of Abraham.” 1031 And the Lord God said to the patriarch, “in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed,” 1032 and the apostle, “It is evident our Lord sprang out of Judah.” 1033 We adduced further several similar testimonies; but, since you are desirous of hearing yet others, listen to the apostle when he says, “For every high priest taken from among men is ordained that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices, wherefore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer.” 1034
p. 169 Eran.—Point out, then, how He offered after taking a body.
Orth.—The divine apostle himself clearly teaches in the very passage, for after a few words he says: “Wherefore, when He cometh into the world, He saith, sacrifice and offering thou wouldst not, but a body hast thou prepared me.” 1035 He does not say “into a body hast thou changed,” but “a body hast thou prepared,” and he shows plainly that the formation of the body was wrought by the Spirit in accordance with the utterance of the gospel, “Fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife; for that which is generated in her is of the Holy Ghost.” 1036
Orth.—It appears that you do not even understand the composition of words, much less their meaning, for he is teaching Joseph the manner, not of the generation, but of the conception. For he does not say that which is generated of her, i.e. made, or formed, is of the Holy Ghost. Joseph, ignorant of the mystery, was suspicions of adultery; he was therefore plainly taught the formation by the Spirit. It is this which He signified through the prophet when He said “A body hast thou prepared me” 1037 for the divine Apostle being full of the Spirit interpreted the prediction. If then the offering of gifts is the special function of priests and Christ in His humanity was called priest and offered no other sacrifice save 1038 His own body, then the Lord Christ had a body.
Orth.—So far as I see our contest lies with the supporters of Valentinus, of Marcion, and of Manes; but even they never had the hardihood to say that the immutable nature underwent mutation into flesh.
Orth.—We do not revile, but we are fighting for truth, and we are vexed at your arguing about the indisputable as though it could be disputed. However, I will endeavour to put an end to your ungracious contention. Answer now; do you remember the promises which God made to David?
Orth.—Listen now how the prophet praises God at the very beginning of the Psalm. He saw with his prophetic eyes the future iniquity of his people, and the captivity that was in consequence foredoomed; yet he praised his own Lord for unfailing promises. “I will sing,” he says, “of the mercies of the Lord forever, with my mouth will I make known Thy faithfulness to all generations, for thou hast said, Mercy shall be built up for ever, Thy faithfulness shalt Thou establish in the very heavens.” 1039
Through all this the prophet teaches that the promise was made by God on account of lovingkindness, and that the promise is faithful. Then he goes on to say what He promised, and to whom, introducing God Himself as the speaker. (“I have made a covenant with my chosen.” 1040 ) It is the Patriarchs that He called chosen; then He goes on “I have sworn unto David my servant,” 1041 and He states concerning what He swore, “Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations.” 1042
Orth.—Then he made his covenant with the Patriarchs about Solomon, for before what was said about David he mentioned the promises made to the Patriarchs “I have made a covenant with my chosen,” and He promised the Patriarchs that in their seed He would bless all nations. Kindly point out how the nations were blessed through Solomon.
p. 170 Eran.—Then God fulfilled this promise, not by means of Solomon, but of our Saviour.
Orth.—Just now you used the arguments of Marcion and Valentinus and of Manes. Now you have gone over to the directly opposite faction, and are advocating the impudence of the Jews. This is just like all those who turn out of a straight road; they err and stray first one way and then another, wandering in a wilderness.
Eran.—Revilers are excluded by the Apostle from the kingdom. 1043
Orth.—Yes, if their revilings are vain. Sometimes the divine Apostle himself opportunely uses this mode of speech. He calls the Galatians “foolish,” 1044 and of others he says “men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith,” 1045 and again of another set, “Whose God is their belly, whose glory is in their shame,” 1046 and so forth.
Orth.—Jews connect prophecies of this kind with Solomon and Zerubbabel, in order to exhibit the groundlessness of the Christian position; but the mere words are quite enough to convict them of their iniquity, for it is written “I will establish my throne for ever.” 1047 Now not only Solomon and Zerubbabel, to whom such prophecies are applied by the Jews, have lived out their appointed time, and reached the end of life, but the whole race of David has become extinct; for who ever heard of any one at the present day descended from the root of David?
Orth.—From the foreigner Herod, who, on his fathers side, was an Ascalonite, and on his mothers an Idumæan; 1048 but they, too, have all disappeared, and many years have gone by since their sovereignty came to an end. But our Lord God promised not only to maintain the seed of David for ever, but to establish his kingdom undestroyed; for He said, “I will build up my throne to all generations.”
Orth.—If, then, God is true, as in truth He is, and promised David that He would establish His race for ever, and keep his kingdom through all time, and if neither race nor kingdom are to be seen, for both have come to an end, how can we convince our opponents that God is true?
Orth.—After making many promises about this seed that it should be Lord both by sea and land 1049 and higher than the kings of the earth and be called the first begotten of God, 1050 and should boldly call God, Father 1051 God also added this, “My mercy will I keep for him for evermore and my covenant shall stand fast with him. His seed also will I make to endure for ever and his throne as the days of heaven.” 1052
Eran.—The promise goes beyond the bounds of human nature, for both the life and the honour are indestructible and eternal. But men endure but for a season; their nature is short lived and their kingdom even during its lifetime undergoes many and various vicissitudes, so that truly the greatness of the prophecy befits none but the Saviour Christ.
Orth.—Go on then to what follows and your opinion upon this point will be in every way confirmed, for again saith the God of the universe, “Once have I sworn by my p. 171 holiness, if I 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.” 1053
Eran.—We must believe without doubt in the promises given by the faithful witness, for, if we are wont to believe men who have promised to speak the truth even if they do not confirm their words with an oath, who can be so mad as to disbelieve the Creator of the Universe, when He adds an oath to his words? For He who forbids others to swear confirmed the immutability of his counsel by an oath, 1054 “that by two immutable things in which it was impossible for God to lie we might have a strong consolation who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us.” 1055
Orth.—If then the promise is irrefragable, and among the Jews there is now neither family nor kingdom of the prophet David to be seen, let us believe that our Lord Jesus Christ is plainly called seed of David in His humanity, for of Him the life and the kingdom are both alike eternal.
Orth.—These proofs then are sufficient to show clearly the manhood which our Lord and Saviour took of Davids seed. But to remove all possibility of doubt by the witness of the majority, let us hear how God makes mention of the promises given to David through the voice of the prophet Isaiah. “I will make,” he says, “an everlasting covenant with you,” and, signifying the law-giver, he adds, “even the sure mercies of David.” 1056
Since He made this promise to David, and spoke through Esaias, He will assuredly bring the promise to pass. And what follows after the prophecy is in harmony with what I say, for he saith “Behold I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people. Behold nations that know thee not shall call upon thee, and peoples that understand thee not shall run unto thee.” 1057 Now this fits in with none that are sprung from David, for who of Davids descendants, as Esaias says, was made a ruler of nations? And what nations in their prayers ever called on Davids descendants as God?
Orth.—Then let us pass on to another prophetic testimony and let us hear the same prophet saying “There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse and a branch shall grow out of his roots.” 1058
Orth.—If you hear what follows, you will not remain in your opinion. The Jews have never so understood this prediction, for the prophet goes on, “and the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.” 1059 This would never be attributed by any one to a mere man, for even to the very holy the gifts of the Spirit are given by division, as the divine apostle witnesses when he says, “To one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom, to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit,” 1060 and so on. The prophet describes Him who sprang from the root of Jesse as possessing all the powers of the spirit.
Orth.—Now hear what follows. You will see some things that transcend human nature, he goes on. “He shall not judge after the sight of His eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of His ears, but with righteousness shall He judge the poor, and reprove with equity the mighty 1061 of the earth, and He shall smite the earth with the word of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips shall he slay the wicked.” 1062 Now of these predictions some are human and some divine. Justice, truth, equity, and rectitude in giving judgment exhibit virtue in human nature.
Orth.—The sequel will shew you yet more plainly the truth of the interpretation. For he goes on, “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,” 1063 and so on, whereby he teaches at once the distinction of modes of life and the harmony of faith; and experience furnishes a proof of the prediction, for they that abound in wealth, they that live in poverty, servants and masters, rulers and ruled, soldiers and citizens and they that wield the sceptre of the world are received in one font, are all taught one doctrine, are all admitted to one p. 172 mystic table, and each of the believers enjoys an equal share.
Orth.—Not only God but man. So at the very beginning of this prediction he says that a rod shall grow out of the root of Jesse. Then at the conclusion of the prediction he takes up once more the strain with which he began, for he says “There shall be a root of Jesse which shall stand for an ensign of the people, to it shall the Gentiles seek and his rest shall be glorious.” 1064 Now Jesse was the father of David, and the promise with an oath was made to David. The prophet would not have spoken of the Lord Christ as a rod growing out of Jesse if he had only known Him as God. The prediction also foretold the change of the world, for “the earth” he says “shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” 1065
Eran.—I have heard the prophetic utterances. But I was anxious to know clearly if the divine company of the apostles also says that the Lord Christ sprang from the seed of David according to the flesh.
Orth.—You have asked for information which so far from being hard is exceedingly easy to give you. Only listen to the first of the apostles exclaiming “David being a prophet and knowing that God had sworn an oath to him that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, He would raise up Christ to sit upon His throne; he seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that His soul was not left in hell neither His flesh did see corruption.” 1066
Orth.—The great Peter alone was sufficient to testify to the truth, for the Lord after receiving the confession of the truth given by Peter alone confirmed it by a memorable approval. But since you are anxious to hear others proclaiming this same thing, hear Paul and Barnabas preaching in Antioch in Pisidia; for they, when they had made mention of David, continued “Of this mans seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus,” 1067 and so on. And in a letter to Timothy the divine Paul says “Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel.” 1068 And, when writing to the Romans, at the very outset he calls attention to the Davidic kin, for he says “Paul a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God which He had promised before by his prophets in the holy scriptures concerning His Son which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh,” 1069 and so on.
Orth.—Because it is not about the Godhead, but about the manhood, that you are in difficulties. Had you been in doubt about the Godhead, I would have given you proof of it. It is enough to say “according to the Flesh” to declare the Godhead which is not expressed in terms. When speaking of a relationship of man in general I do not say the son of such an one “according to the flesh,” but simply “son,” so the divine Evangelist writing his genealogy says “Abraham begat Isaac” 1070 and does not add according to the flesh, for Isaac was merely man, and he mentions the rest in like manner, for they were men and had no qualities transcending their nature. But when the heralds of the truth are discoursing of our Lord Christ, and are pointing out to the ignorant His lower relation, they add the words “according to the flesh,” thus indicating His Godhead and teaching that the Lord Christ was not only man but also Eternal God.
Eran.—You have adduced many proofs from the apostles and prophets, but I follow the words of the Evangelist “The Word was made Flesh.” 1071
Orth.—I also follow this divine teaching, but I understand it in a pious sense, as meaning that He was made Flesh by taking flesh and a reasonable soul. But if the divine Word took nothing of our nature, then the covenants made with the patriarchs by the God of all with oaths were not true, and the blessing of Judah was vain, and the promise to David was false, and the Virgin was superfluous, because she did not contribute anything of our nature to the Incarnate God. Then the predictions of the prophets have no fulfilment. Then vain is our preaching, vain our faith and vain the hope of the resurrection 1072 for the Apostle, it appears, lies when he says “and hath raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” 1073 For if the Lord Christ had nothing p. 173 of our nature then He is falsely described as our first fruits, and His bodily nature has not risen from the dead and has not taken the seat in Heaven on the right hand; and if He has obtained none of these things, how hath God raised us up together and made us sit together with Christ, when we in no wise belong to Him in Nature? But it is impious to say this, for the divine apostle, though the general resurrection has not yet taken place, though the kingdom of heaven has not yet been bestowed upon the faithful, exclaims, “He hath raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus,” in order to teach that since the resurrection of our first fruits, and His sitting on the right hand has come to pass, we too in general shall attain the resurrection, and that all they who share in His nature and have adopted His faith, share too in the first fruits of His glory.
Orth.—You stand in need of no interpretation from without. The evangelist himself interprets himself. For after saying “the Word was made flesh,” he goes on “and dwelt among us.” 1074 That is to say by dwelling in us, and using the flesh taken from us as a kind of temple, He is said to have been made flesh, and, teaching that He remained unchanged, the evangelist adds “and we beheld His glory—the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” 1075 For though clad with flesh He exhibited His Fathers nobility, shot forth the beams of the Godhead, and emitted the radiance of the power of the Lord, revealing by His works of wonder His hidden nature. A similar illustration is afforded by the words of the divine apostle to the Philippians: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who being in the form of God thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation and took upon Him the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of men, and being found in fashion as a man he humbled Himself and became obedient unto death even the death of the cross.” 1076
Look at the relation of the utterances. The evangelist says “the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us,” the apostle, “took upon him the form of a servant;” the evangelist “We beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father”—the apostle, “who being in the form of God thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” To put the matter briefly, both teach that being God and son of God, and clad with His Fathers glory, and having the same nature and power with Him that begat Him, He that was in the beginning and was with God, and was God, and was Creator of the world, took upon Him the form of a servant, and it seemed that this was all which was seen; but it was God clad in human nature, and working out the salvation of men. This is what was meant by “The word was made flesh” and “was made in the likeness of men and being found in fashion as a man.” This is all that was looked at by the Jews, and therefore they said to him “For a good work we stone Thee not but for blasphemy and because that Thou being a man makest Thyself God,” 1077 and again “This man is not of God because He keepeth not the Sabbath Day.” 1078
Orth.—If you find even the apostles before the resurrection thus saying, will you receive the interpretation? I hear them in the boat, after the mighty miracle of the calm, saying “what manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?” 1079
Orth.—What was taken of him was not mans likeness, but mans nature. For “form of a servant” is understood just as “the form of God” is understood to mean Gods nature. He took this, and so was made in the likeness of man, and was found in fashion as a man. For, being God, He seemed to be man, on account of the nature which He took. The evangelist, however, speaks of His being made in the likeness of man as His being made flesh. But that you may know that they who deny the flesh of the Saviour are of the opposite spirit, hear the great John in his Catholic Epistle saying “Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God, and this is that spirit of Anti-Christ.” 1080
Orth.—You ought to have been persuaded p. 174 by the apostolic and prophetic proofs; but since you require further the interpretations of the holy Fathers I will also furnish you, God helping me, this medicine.
Orth.—Hear then how he wrote to Epictetus. 1081 “The expression of John the Word was made flesh has this interpretation, so far as can be discovered from the similar passage which we find in St. Paul Christ was made a curse for us. 1082 It is not because He was made a curse but because He received the curse on our behalf that He is said to have been made a curse, and so it is not because He was turned into flesh, but because He took flesh on our behalf, that He is said to have been made flesh.” So far the divine Athanasius. Gregory, too, whose glory among all men is great, who formerly ruled the Imperial city at the mouth of the Bosphorus and afterwards dwelt at Nazianzus, thus wrote to Cledonius against the specious fallacies of Apollinarius.
Orth.—Hear him then. He says 1083 “the expression He was made Flesh seems to be parallel to His being said to have been made sin and a curse, 1084 not because the Lord was transmuted into these,—for how could He?—but because He accepted these when He took on Him our iniquities and bore our infirmities.” 1085
Orth.—We have shown you the pastors of the south and north in harmony; now then let us introduce too the illustrious teachers of the west, who have written their interpretation, if with another tongue, yet with one and the same mind.
Eran.—I am told that Ambrosius, who adorned the episcopal throne at Milan, fought in the first ranks against all heresy, and wrote works of great beauty and in agreement with the teaching of the apostles.
Orth.—I will give you his interpretation. Ambrosius says in his work concerning the faith “It is written that the Word was made flesh. I do not deny that it is written, but look at the terms used; for there follows and dwelt among us, that is to say dwelt in human flesh. You are therefore astonished at the terms in which it is written that the Word was made flesh, on the assumption of flesh, by the divine Word, when also concerning sin which He had not, it is said that He was made sin, that is to say not that He was made the nature and operation of sin, but that he might crucify our sin in the flesh; let them then give over asserting that the nature of the Word has undergone change and alteration, for He who took is one and that which was taken other.” 1086
It is now fitting that you should hear the teachers of the east, this being the only quarter of the east, this being the only quarter of the world which we have hitherto left unnoticed, though they indeed might well have first witnessed to the truth, for to them was first imparted the teaching of the apostles. But since you have sharpened your tongues against the first-born sons of piety by whetting them on the hone of falsehood, we have reserved for them the last place, that after first hearing the rest, you might lay witness by the side of witness, and so at once admire their harmony, and cease from your own interminable talk. Listen then to Flavianus who for a long time right wisely moved the tiller of the church of Antioch, and made the churches which he guided ride safe over the Arian storm, by expounding to them the word of the gospel. “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us; He is not turned into flesh, nor yet did he cease from being God, for this he was from all eternity and became flesh in the dispensation of the incarnation 1087 after himself building his own temple, and taking up his abode in the passible creature.” And if you desire to hear the ancients of Palestine, lend your ears to the admirable Gelasius, who did diligent husbandry in the church of Cæsarea. Now these are his words in his homily on the festival of the Lords epiphany. 1088 p. 175 “Learn the truth from the words of John the Fisherman, And the word was made flesh, not having himself undergone change, but having taken up his abode with us. The dwelling is one thing; the Word is another; the temple is one thing, and God who dwells in it, another.”
Orth.—Now do you not suppose that the rule of the apostolic faith was kept by John, who first nobly watered the field of the church of the Antiochenes, and then was a wise husbandman of that of the imperial city?
Orth.—Well, this most excellent man has interpreted this passage of the Gospel. He writes, 1089 “When you hear that the Word was made flesh, be not startled or cast down, for the substance did not deteriorate into flesh—an idea of the uttermost impiety—but continuing to be just what it is, so took the form of a servant. For just as when the apostle says Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us, 1090 he does not say that the substance of Christ departed from His own glory, and took the substance of a curse, a position which not even devils would imagine, nor the utterly senseless, and the naturally idiotic—so remarkable being the connection between impiety and insanity. But what he does assert is that after receiving the curse due to us, He does not suffer us to be cursed for the future. It is in this sense that He is stated to have been made flesh, not because he had changed the substance into flesh, but because he had assumed the flesh, the substance remaining all the while unimpaired.” 1091
You may like to hear also Severianus, Bishop of Gabala. 1092 If so, I will adduce his testimony and do you lend your ears.
“The text the Word was made flesh does not indicate a deterioration of nature but the assumption of our nature. Suppose you take the word was made to indicate a change; then when you hear Paul saying Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us, do you understand him to mean a change into the nature of a curse? Just as being made a curse had no other meaning than that He took our curse upon Himself, so the words was made flesh and dwelt among us mean nothing other than the assumption of flesh.”
Eran.—I admire the exact agreement 1093 of these men. For they are as unanimous in giving the same interpretations of evangelical writings as if they had met in the same place and written down their opinion together.
Orth.—Mountains and seas separate them very far from one another, yet distance does not damage their harmony, for they were all inspired by the same gift of the spirit. I would also have offered you the interpretations of the victorious champions of piety Diodorus and Theodorus, had I not seen that you were ill disposed towards them, and had inherited the hostility of Apollinarius; you would have seen that they have expressed similar experiences, drawing water from the divine Fount, and becoming themselves too, streams of the spirit. But I will pass them by, for you have declared a truceless war against them. I will, however, shew you the famous teacher of the Church, and his mind about the divine incarnation, that you may know what opinion he held concerning the assumed nature. You have no doubt heard of the illustrious Ignatius, who received episcopal grace by the hand of the great Peter, 1094 and after ruling the church of Antioch, wore the crown of martyrdom. You have heard too of Irenæus, who enjoyed the teaching of Polycarp, and became a light of the western Gauls;—of Hippolytus and Methodius, bishops and martyrs, and the rest, whose names I will append to their expressions of opinion.
“Having a full conviction with respect to our Lord as being truly descended from David p. 176 according to the flesh, son of God according to Godhead 1095 and power, born really of a virgin, baptized by John that all righteousness might be fulfilled 1096 by Him, really in the time of Pontius Pilate and of Herod the tetrarch crucified for our sake in the flesh.” 1097
“For what advantageth it me if a man praises me but blasphemes my Lord, in not confessing him to be a bearer of flesh? but he who does not make this confession really denies Him and is himself bearer of a corpse.” 1098
“For if these things were done by our Lord in appearance only, then it is in appearance only that I am a prisoner in chains; and why have I delivered myself to death, to fire, to sword, to the beasts? But he who is near to the sword is near to God. 1099 Only in the name of Jesus Christ that I may share his sufferings I endure all things while He, Perfect Man whom some in their ignorance deny, gives me strength.” 1100
“If ye all individually come together by grace name by name in one faith, and in one Jesus Christ according to the flesh of Davids race Son of God and Son of man. 1103
“There is one Physician of flesh and of spirit generate and ingenerate, God in man, true life in death, Son of Mary and of God, first passible and then impassible, Jesus Christ our Lord.” 1104
“Be ye made deaf therefore when any man speaks to you apart from Jesus Christ, who was of Davids race and of Mary, who was really born and really ate and drank and was persecuted in the time of Pontius Pilate, was crucified and died, while beings on earth and beings in heaven and beings under the earth were looking on.” 1105
“Why then did they add the words In the city of David, 1106 save to proclaim the good news that the promise made by God to David, that of the fruit of his loins should come an everlasting king, was fulfilled; a promise which indeed the Creator of the world had made.” 1107
“And when he says Hear ye now, Oh House of David 1108 he means that the everlasting King whom God promised to David that he would raise up from his body is He who was born of Davids Virgin.”
“If then the first Adam had had a human father and had been begotten of seed, it would have been reasonable to say that the second Adam had been begotten of Joseph. But if the former was taken from earth, and his creator was God, it was necessary also that He who renews in himself the man created by God should have the same likeness of generation with that former. Why then did not God again take dust? Why did he on the other hand ordain that the formation should be made of Mary? That there might be no other creation; that that which was being saved might be no other thing; but that the former might himself be renewed without loss of the likeness. For then do they too fall away who allege that He took nothing from the Virgin, that they may repudiate the inheritance of the flesh and cast off the likeness.” 1109
“Since his going down into Mary is useless; for why went He down into her if He was designed to take nothing from her? And further, if He had taken nothing from Mary He would not have accepted the food taken from earth whereby is nourished the body taken from earth, nor would He like Moses and Elias, after fasting forty days, have hungered, on account of His body demanding its own food, nor yet would John his disciple when writing about him have said—Jesus being wearied from his journey sat, 1110 nor would David have uttered the prediction about him And they added to p. 177 the pain of my wounds, 1111 nor would he have wept over Lazarus, 1112 nor would He have sweated drops of blood, 1113 nor would He have said, my soul is exceedingly sorrowful, 1114 nor yet when He was pierced would blood and water have issued from His side. 1115 For all these things are proofs of the flesh taken from earth, which He had renewed in Himself in the salvation of his own creature.” 1116
“For as by the disobedience of the one man who was first formed from rude earth the many were made sinners 1117 and lost their life, so also was it fitting that through obedience of one man, the firstborn of a virgin, many should be made righteous and receive their salvation.” 1118
“I have said ye are gods and all of you children of the Most High but ye shall die like man. 1119 This He says to them that did not accept the gift of adoption, but dishonour the incarnation of the pure generation of the word of God, deprive man of his ascent to God, and are ungrateful to the Word of God who for their sakes was made flesh. For this cause was the word made man that man receiving the word and accepting the adoption should be made Gods son. 1120 ”
“Since then on account of the foreordained dispensation 1121 the spirit came down, and the only begotten Son of God, who also is Word of the Father, when the fulness of time was come, was made flesh in man and our Lord Jesus Christ—being one and the same—fulfilled all the human dispensation as the Lord himself testifies, and the apostles confess, all the teachings of men who invented the ogdoads and tetrads and similitudes are proved plainly false.” 1122
Testimony of the Holy Hippolytus, Bishop and Martyr, from his discourse on 1123 “The Lord is my shepherd”:—
“And an ark of incorruptible wood was the Saviour Himself, for the incorruptibility and indestructibility of His Tabernacle signified its producing no corruption of sin. For the sinner who confesses his sin says My wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness. 1124 But the Lord was without sin, made in His human nature of incorruptible wood, that is to say, of the Virgin and the Holy Ghost, overlaid within and without, as it were, by purest gold of the word of God.”
“Tell me, O Blessed Mary, what it was that was conceived by thee in the womb; what it was that was borne by thee in a Virgins womb. It was the Word of God, firstborn from Heaven, on thee descending, and man firstborn being formed in a womb, that the first born Word of God might be shewn united to a firstborn man.”
“The second, which was through the prophets as through Samuel, he revokes, and turns his people from the slavery of strangers. The third, in which He took the manhood of the Virgin and was present in the flesh; who, when He saw the city wept over it.”
Of the same from his discourse on the beginning of Isaiah: 1125 —
“He likens the world to Egypt; its idolatry, to images; its removal and destruction to an earthquake. The Word he calls the Lord and by a swift cloud he means the right pure tabernacle enthroned on which our Lord Jesus Christ entered into life to undo the fall.”
Testimony of the Holy Methodius, 1126 bishop and martyr, from his discourse on the martyrs:—
“So wonderful and precious is martyrdom that our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, the Son of God, testified in its honour that He thought it not robbery to be equal with God, that He might crown with this grace the Manhood into whom He had come down.”
Testimony of the holy Eustathius, bishop p. 178 of Antioch, confessor. From his interpretation of the xvith Psalm:—
“The soul of Jesus experienced both. For it was in the place of the souls of men and being made without the flesh, lives and survives. So it is reasonable and of the same substance as the souls of men, just as the flesh is of the same substance as the flesh of men, coming forth from Mary.”
“On looking at the education of the child, or at the increase of his stature, or at the extension of time, or at the growth of the body, what would they say? But, to omit the miracles wrought upon earth, let them behold the raisings of the dead to life, the signs of the Passion, the marks of the scourges, the bruises and the blows, the wounded side, the prints of the nails, the shedding of the blood, the evidences of the death, and in a word the actual resurrection of the very body.”
“Indeed if any one looks to the generation of the body, he would clearly discover that after being born at Bethlehem He was wrapped in swaddling clothes, and was brought up for some time in Egypt, because of the evil counsel of the cruel Herod, and grew to mans estate at Nazareth.”
“For the tabernacle of the Word and of God is not the same, whereby the blessed Stephen beheld the divine glory.” 1127
Of the same from his sermon on “the Lord created me in the beginning of His way”: 1128 —
“If the Word received a beginning of His generation from the time when passing through His mothers womb He wore the human frame, it is clear that He was made of a woman; but if He was from the first Word and God with the Father, and if we assert that the universe was made by Him, then He who is and is the cause of all created things was not made of a woman, but is by nature God, self existent, infinite, incomprehensible; and of a woman was made man, formed in the Virgins womb by the Holy Ghost.”
“For a temple absolutely holy and undefiled is the tabernacle of the word according to the flesh, wherein God visibly made his habitation and dwelt, and we assert this not of conjecture, for He who is by nature the Son of this God when predicting the destruction and resurrection of the temple distinctly instructs us by His teaching when He says to the murderous Jews, Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” 1129
“It is plain then if He that anointeth means God whose throne He calls everlasting, the anointer is plainly by nature God, begotten of God. But the anointed took an acquired virtue, being adorned with a chosen temple of the Godhead dwelling in it.”
“I am the vine, ye are the branches. My Father is the husbandman. 1130 For we according to the body are of kin to the Lord, and for this reason He himself said I will declare thy name unto my brethren. 1131 And just as the branches are of one substance with the vine, and of it, so too we, since we have bodies akin to the body of the Lord, receive them of His fulness, and have it as a root for our resurrection and salvation. And the Father is called a husbandman, for He Himself through the Word tilled the vine which is the Lords body.”
“He shall wash His garments in wine 1134 that is His body, which is the vestment of the Godhead in His own blood.”
“The Word was 1135 is referred to His divinity, the words was made flesh 1136 to His body, the Word was made flesh not by being reduced to flesh, but by bearing flesh, just as any one might say such an one became or was made an old man, though not so born p. 179 from the beginning, or the soldier became a veteran, not being previously such as he became. John says, I became, or was in the island of Patmos on the Lords day. 1137 Not that he was made or born there, but he says I became or was in Patmos instead of saying I arrived; so the Word arrived at flesh, as it is said the Word was made flesh. Hear the words I became like a broken vessel, 1138 and I became like a man that hath no strength, free among the dead.” 1139
“Whoever heard such things? Who taught them? Who learnt them? Out of Zion shall go forth the law and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem. 1140 But whence did these things come forth? What hell vomited them out? To say that the body taken of Mary was of the same substance as the Godhead of the Word, or that the Word was changed into flesh and bones and hairs and a whole body; whoever heard in a church or at all among Christians that God bore a body by adoption and not by birth?” 1141
“But who, hearing that the Word made for Himself a passible body, not of Mary, but of His own substance, would call the sayer of these things a Christian? Who has invented so unfounded an impiety, as even to think and to say that they who affirm the Lords body to be of Mary, conceive no longer of a Trinity, but of a quaternity in the godhead? As though they that are of this opinion described the flesh which the Saviour clothed himself with of Mary as of the substance of the Trinity.
“Whence further have some men vomited forth an impiety as bad as the foregoing, and alleged that the body is not of later time than the godhead of the Word, but has always been co-eternal with it, since it is formed of the substance of wisdom.”
“So the body taken of Mary was human according to the scriptures, and real in that it was the same as our own. For Mary was our sister, since we are all of Adam, a fact which no one could doubt who remembers the words of Luke.” 1142
“All strangers have stooped and been put under the yoke of Christ, wherefore also over Edom does he cast out his shoe. 1143 Now the shoe of the Godhead is the flesh which bore God whereby he came among men.”
“He uses the phrase of whom instead of through whom; as when Paul says made of a woman. 1144 He clearly made this distinction for us in another place where he says that the being made of the man is proper to a woman, but to a man the being made by the woman, in the words For as the woman is of the man so is the man by the woman. 1145 But with the object at once of pointing out the different use of these expressions, and of correcting obiter an error of certain men who supposed the body of the Lord to be spiritual, that he may shew how the God-bearing flesh was composed of human matter, he gives prominence to the more emphatic expression, for the expression by a woman was in danger of suggesting that the sense of the word generation was merely in passing through, while the phrase of the woman makes the common nature of the child and of the mother plain enough.”
“If any one says that the flesh came down from heaven, and not from this earth, and from us, let him be Anathema. For the words The second man is from heaven, 1146 and as is the heavenly such are they also that are heavenly 1147 and no man hath ascended up to heaven but the son of man that came down from heaven, 1148 and any other similar passage, must be understood to be spoken on account of the union with man, as also the statement that all things were made by Christ, 1149 and that Christ dwells in our hearts, 1150 must be understood not according to the sensible, but according to the intellectual conception of the Godhead, the terms being commingled together just as are the natures.”
“Let us see from their own words what reason they give for the being made man, that is for the incarnation. If indeed it was that God otherwise not contained in space, might be contained in space and, as it were under a veil, might converse with men in the flesh, then their mask and their stage play are exquisite: not to say that it was possible for Him otherwise to converse p. 180 with us, as of yore, in a burning bush and in human form, but if that He might undo the damnation of sin by taking like to like 1151 then just as He required flesh on account of the condemned flesh, and a soul on account of the soul, so too he required a mind on account of the mind, which in Adam not only fell but,—to employ a term which physicians are accustomed to use about diseases—was affected with original malady. 1152 For that which did not keep the commandment was what had received the commandment; and that which dared transgression was what had not kept the commandment; and that which specially needed salvation was what had transgressed, and that which was assumed was what needed salvation; so the mind was assumed. Now this point has been demonstrated, whether they will or no, by proofs which are so to say mathematical and necessary. But you are doing just as though, if a man were to have a diseased eye and a limping foot you were to cure the foot but leave the eye uncured; or, if a painter had painted a picture badly, were to alter the picture, but leave the painter alone, as though he were doing his work well. But if they are so constrained by these arguments as to take refuge in the statement that it is possible for God to save man, even without a mind, why then clearly He might have done so even without flesh, by the mere expression of His will, just as He works and has worked in the universe without a body. Away then with the flesh as well as with the mind! Let there be no inconsistency in your absurdity.”
“So the Word came down not naked, but after having been made flesh, not in the form of God, but in the form of a servant. 1153 This then is He who said that He could do nothing of Himself. 1154 For the not being able is the part of powerlessness. For as darkness is opposed to light, and death to life, so is weakness to power. But yet Christ is Power of God. Power is wholly inconsistent with not being able. For if power were powerless what is powerful? When then the Word declares that He can do nothing it is plain that He does not attribute his powerlessness to the Godhead of the Only-begotten, but connects his not being able with the powerlessness of our nature. The flesh is weak, as it is written, The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 1155
“Again the true lawgiver, of whom Moses was a type, hewed for Himself out of our earth the slabs of nature. No wedlock fashioned for Him the flesh that was to receive the godhead, but He Himself is made the hewer of His own flesh, graven as it is by the finger of God. For the Holy Ghost came upon the Virgin, and the power of the Highest overshadowed her. 1156 And when this had come to pass, nature once again took its indestructible character, being made immortal by the marks of the divine finger.”
“We assert therefore that when He said above that wisdom built for herself a house, 1157 he intimates by the phrase the formation of the flesh of the Lord, for the very wisdom made its home in no strange dwelling, but built itself its dwelling of the Virgins body.”
“Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but emptied himself, and took the form of a servant. 1160 What poorer, in respect of God, than the form of a servant? What more lowly, in respect of the King of all, than approach to fellowship in our poor nature? The King of Kings and Lord of Lords 1161 voluntarily dons the form of servitude.”
p. 181 “Hear Him saying, The Spirit is upon me because He hath anointed me. 1162 You do not know, He says, what you read, for I, the anointed with the Spirit, am come to you. Now what is akin to us, and not the invisible nature, is anointed with the Spirit.” 1163
Testimony of Amphilochius, bishop of Iconium. From his Discourse on “My Father is greater than I:” 1164 —
“Distinguish me now the natures, the Divine and the human. For man was not made from God by falling away, nor was God made of man by advancement. I am speaking of God and man. When, however, you attribute the passions to the flesh and the miracles to God, you of necessity and involuntarily assign the lowly titles to the man born of Mary, and the exalted and divine to the Word Who in the beginning was God. Wherefore in some cases I utter exalted words, in others lowly, to the end that by means of the lofty I may shew the nature of the indwelling Word, and by the lowly, own the weakness of the lowly flesh. Whence sometimes I call myself equal to the Father and sometimes greater than the Father, not contradicting myself, but shewing that I am God and man, for God is of the lofty, man of the lowly; but if you wish to know how my Father is greater than I, I spoke of the flesh and not of the person of the Godhead.”
Of the same from his discourse on “The Son, can do nothing of Himself:” 1165 —
“How was Adam disobedient in Heaven, and how of heavenly body was he formed first-formed beside the first formation? But it was the Adam of the earth who was formed at the beginning; the Adam of the earth disobeyed; the Adam of the earth was assumed. Wherefore also the Adam of the earth was saved that thus the reason of the incarnation 1166 may be proved necessary and true.” 1167
“See from the beginning what He does. He clothes Himself in our nature, powerless and vanquished, that by its means He may fight and struggle and from the beginning He uproots the nature of rebellion.”
Of the same from his discourse on 1168 The Festival of the Nativity:—
“For is it not of the very last stupidity for them to bring down their own gods into stones and cheap wooden images, shutting them up as it were in a kind of prison, and to fancy that there is nothing disgraceful in what they either say or do, and then to find fault with us for saying that God made a living temple for Himself of the Holy Ghost, by means of which he brought succour to the world? For if it is disgraceful for God to dwell in a human body, then in proportion as the stone and the wood are more worthless than man is it much more disgraceful for him to dwell in stone and wood. But perhaps mankind seems to them to be of less value than these senseless objects. They bring down the substance of God into stones and into dogs; 1169 but many heretics into fouler things than these. But we could never endure even to hear of these things. 1170 But what we say is that of a virgins womb the Christ took pure flesh, holy and without spot, and made impervious to all sin, and restored the body 1171 that was His own.”
“What then are the causes of many humble things having been said about Him both by Himself and by His apostles? The first and greatest cause is the fact of His having clothed Himself with flesh, and wishing all his contemporaries and all who have lived since, to believe that He was not a shadow, nor what was seen merely a form, but reality of nature. For if when He Himself and His apostles had spoken about Him so often in humble and in human sense, the devil yet had power to persuade some wretched and miserable men to deny the reason of the incarnation, and dare to say that He did not take flesh and so to destroy all the ground of His love for man, how many would not have fallen into this abyss if He had never said anything of the kind?”
I have now produced for you a few out of many authorities of the heralds of the truth, p. 182 not to stun you with too many. They are quite enough to show the bent of the mind of the excellent writers. It is now for you to say what force their writings seem to have.
Eran.—They have all spoken in harmony with one another, and the workers in the vineyard of the West agree with them whose husbandry is done in the region of the rising sun. Yet I perceived a considerable difference in their sayings.
Orth.—They are successors of the divine apostles; some even of those apostles were privileged to hear the holy voice and see the goodly sight. The majority of them too were adorned with the crown of martyrdom. Does it seem right for you to wag the tongue of blasphemy against them?
Orth.—But now I will bring you an unexpected remedy. I will adduce one of your own beautiful heresy—your teacher Apollinarius, 1172 and I will shew you that he understood the text “The Word was made flesh” just as the holy Fathers did. Hear now what he wrote about it in his “Summary.”
“For also He gave himself to us in relationship by means of the body to save us. Now that which saves is far more excellent than that which is being saved. Far more excellent then than we are, is He in the assumption of a body! But He would not have been more excellent had He been turned into flesh.”
“The simple is one, but the complex cannot be one; he then that alleges that He was made flesh affirms the mutation of the one Word. But if the complex is also one, as man, then he who on account of the union with the flesh says the Word was made flesh means the one in complexity.”
And again a little further on he says—“To be made flesh is to be made empty, 1173 but the being made empty declares not man, but the Son of man, who emptied Himself not by undergoing change, but by investiture.”
There; you see the teacher of your own doctrines has introduced the word investiture and indeed in his little work upon the faith he says—“We then believe that he was made flesh, while His Godhead remained unchanged for the renewal of the manhood. For in the holy power of God there has been neither alteration nor change of place, nor inclusion”—and then shortly again—“We worship God who took flesh of the blessed virgin, and on this account in the flesh is man, but in the spirit God.” And in another exposition he says—“We confess the Son of God to have been made the Son of man, not nominally but verily, on taking flesh of the Virgin Mary.”
Orth.—Well; now you have learnt that not only the prophets and apostles, and they who after them were ordained teachers of the world, but even Apollinarius, the writer of heretical babbling, confesses the divine Word to be immutable, states that He was not turned into flesh but assumed flesh, and this over and over again, as you have heard. Do not then struggle to throw your masters blasphemy into the shade by your own. For, says the Lord “the disciple is not above his master.” 1174
The reference in Schulzes edition is to Jeremiah x. 16, but here the Septuagint ὁ πλάσας τὰ πάντα does not bear out the point. The quotation is no doubt of Amos v. 8, where the LXX is ὁ ποιῶν πάντα καὶ μετασκευάζων163:980 163:981 163:982 163:983 163:984 163:985 164:986 164:987
cf. Article ix. of the English Church. Sin is not part of mans nature, but the fault or corruption of it. If in one sense the fallen Adam is the natural man, in a higher sense Christ, the Son of man, is the natural man; i.e. in Him the manhood is seen incorrupt. cf. p. 183 and note.164:988 164:989 164:990
Gal. iii. 16. There is here an omission of the four words “καὶ τῷ σπέρματί σου.” Of the difficulty of the passage a full discussion will be found in Bishop Lightfoots “Galatians” —page 141.164:991
Gen. xlix. 10. Here the text follows the Alexandrine Septuagint substituting ἕως ἂν ἔλθῃ ᾧ ἀπόκειται for ἕως ἂν ἔλθῃ τὰ ἀποκείμενα αὐτῷ164:992 165:993 165:994 165:995 165:996 165:997 165:998 165:999
“The ascription of the prophecy of Baruch to Jeremiah may be explained by the fact that in the lxx. Baruch was placed either before or after Lamentations, and was regarded in the early church as an appendix to, and of equal authority with, Jeremiah. It is so quoted by Irenæus, Clemens Alexandrinus, and Tertullian.”
Augustine de Civ. xviii, 33. quotes Baruch iii. 16. with the remark “Hoc testimonium quidem non Hieremiæ sed Scribæ eius attribuunt qui vocabatur Baruch, sed Hieremiæ celebratius habetur.”165:1000 165:1001 165:1002 165:1003 165:1004 166:1005 166:1006
1 Tim. iii. 16. Theodoretus shews no knowledge of the reading * for * in this famous passage accepted by our revisers with the marginal comment “The word God in place of He who rests on no sufficient ancient evidence.” Macedonius II, patriarch of Constantinople, is said to have been accused by his enemy the Emperor Anastasius of falsifying this particular passage. But if Theodoretus, who died c. 458, really wrote * copies of the Epistles containing this reading must have existed some half century before the dispute between Macedonius and Anastasius. Gregory of Nyssa also uses the passage as does Theodoretus; Greg. Nyss. cont. Eun. iv. i. The accepted opinion now regards the Codex of Alexandrianus as reading ὅς166:1007
Matt. xviii. 10. Observe the omission of the words “In heaven,” which A.V. inserts with אBD, etc.166:1008 166:1009 166:1010 166:1011
Genesis xviii. i. Sept.166:1012 166:1013 166:1014 166:1015
Hosea xii. 10. Sept. A.V. has “used similitudes.”167:1016 167:1017 167:1018
Hebrews x. 19-22. In iii. 607. ed. Migne this passage is quoted by Theodoret as in A.V.167:1019
Gen. xlix. 10. Compare note on p. 6.167:1020 167:1021 167:1022 167:1023 168:1024 168:1025 168:1026
This passage and a parallel passage from Dial. II. were quoted with force in the discussions of the English Reformation. Bp. Ridley on the foregoing writes (A Brief Declaration of the Lords Supper, Parker Soc. Ed. p. 35.) “What can be more plainly said than this that this old writer saith? That although the Sacraments bear the name of the body and blood of Christ, yet is not their nature changed, but abideth still. And where is then the Papists transubstantiation?”168:1027 168:1028 168:1029 168:1030 168:1031 168:1032 168:1033 168:1034
Heb. v. 1; viii. 3169:1035 169:1036
Matt. i. 20. The rendering of γεννηθέν by “conceived” in the A.V. somewhat obscures the argument of Theodoret. The R.V. has “begotten” in the margin.169:1037
Ps. xl. 7. Septuagint. The difficulty how to account for the rendering of ולִהירִכָּ סִמַכןְאָ i.e. “My ear hast thou dug” by “σῶμα κατηρτίσω” is an old one. Did ΗΘΕΛΗCΑCΩΤΙΑΔΕΚΑΤΗΡΤΙCΩ get altered by mistake into ΗΘΕΛΗCΑCCΩΜΑΔΕΚΑΤΗΡΤΙCΩ? “How the word σῶμα came into the lxx. we cannot say; but being there it is now sanctioned for us by the citation here; not as the, or even a proper rendering of the Hebrew, but as a prophetic utterance.” Alford ad loc.169:1038
I have no hesitation in translating ἀλλὰ here by “save,” in spite of the purist prejudice which has led even the revisers of 1881 to retain something of the awkward periphrasis by which the meaning of Matt. 20:23, Mark 10:40Matt. xx. 23 and Mark x. 40. is confused in A.V., and an Arian sense given to our Lords declaration, “To sit on my right hand and my left is not mine to give save to them for whom it is prepared.” i.e. It is His to give, but not to give arbitrarily or of caprice. Liddell and Scott, Ed. 1883, recognise and illustrate this use of ἀλλὰ (Vide s.v. I. 3.) which in classical Greek is vindicated by such a passage as Soph. O.T. 1331. ἔπαισε δ᾽ αὐτόχειρ νιν οὔτις ἀλλ᾽ ἐγώ, and in N.T. Greek, as well as by the crucial passage in question, in Mark ix. 8 οὐκέτι οὐδένα εἶδον ἀλλὰ τὸν Ιησοῦν μόνον, “They no longer saw any one save Jesus only.”169:1039 169:1040 169:1041 169:1042 170:1043 170:1044 170:1045 170:1046 170:1047 170:1048 170:1049 170:1050 170:1051 170:1052 171:1053 171:1054 171:1055 171:1056 171:1057 171:1058 171:1059 171:1060 171:1061 171:1062 171:1063 172:1064 172:1065 172:1066 172:1067 172:1068 172:1069 172:1070 172:1071 172:1072
A κενὴ ἐλπίσο πίστις would be a faith which could not possibly be realized; and ματαία ἐλπίς a hope of not impossible but very improbable fulfilment. But the distinction between κενός and ματαῖος is hardly borne out by their use in the text.172:1073 173:1074 173:1075 173:1076 173:1077 173:1078 173:1079 173:1080 174:1081 174:1082 174:1083 174:1084 174:1085 174:1086
de Incar. Dom. Sac. vi. II. Ed. Ben. p. 716. The Latin of Ambrose, which is not exactly rendered by Theodoret, is as follows:—"Sic scriptum est, inquiunt, quia Verbum caro factum est (Ioan 1, 14). Scriptum est, non nego: sed considera quid sequatur; sequitur enim: Et habitavit in nobis, hoc est, illud Verbum quod carnem suscepit, hoc habitavit in nobis, hoc est, in carue habitavit humana.
"Miraris ergo quia scriptum est: Verbum caro factum est, cum caro assumpta sit a Dei Verbo: quando de peccato quod non habuit, scriptum est quia peccatum factus est, hoc est, non natura operationeque peccati, utpote in similitudinem carnis peccati factus: sed ut peccatum nostrum in sua carne crucifigeret, susceptionem pro nobis infirmitatum obnoxii jam corporis peccati carnalis assumpsit.
Desinant ergo dicere naturam Verbi in corporis naturam esse mutatam; ne pari interpretatione videatur natura Verbi in contagium mutata peccati Aliud est enim quod assumpsit, et aliud quod assumptum est.”174:1087 174:1088
“In the Eastern church till nearly the end of the fourth century we find, as has been said, the divine celebration of Christs nativity and baptism on January 6th. The date of the severance of the two can be approximately fixed, for Chrysostom refers to it as a matter of merely a few years standing, in a sermon probably delivered on the Christmas day of 386 a.d. How far back we are to refer the origin of this two-fold festival it is not easy to determine, the earliest mention of any kind being the allusion by Clement of Alexandria to the annual commemoration of Christs baptism by the Basilidians (Stromata, lib. i. c. 21). At any rate by the latter part of the fourth century the Epiphany had become one of the most important and venerable festivals in the Eastern church.”175:1089 175:1090 175:1091
The modern reader will not omit to note the bearing of these patristic interpretations of the scriptural statements that the word was “made” flesh and that Christ was “made” a curse on later controversies concerning Transubstantiation.175:1092 175:1093 175:1094 176:1095
Bp. Lightfoot (Ap. Fathers pt. II. ii. 290.) adopts the reading κατὰ θέλημα καὶ δύναμιν for κατὰ θεότητα, and notes “Theodoret strangely substitutes θεότητα for θέλημα. This reading…may be due to…ignorance of the absolute use of θελημα. The Armenian translator likewise has substituted another word.176:1096 176:1097 176:1098 176:1099
“A saying to this effect is attributed to Our Lord by Didymus on Ps. lxxxviii. 8. It is mentioned also by Origen Hom. XX. In Jerem. Sec. III.” Bp. Lightfoot l. c.176:1100 176:1101 176:1102 176:1103 176:1104 176:1105 176:1106 176:1107 176:1108 176:1109 176:1110 177:1111
Ps. lxix. 26. A.V. They talk to the grief of those whom thou hast wounded. lxx. R.V. They tell of the sorrow of those whom thou hast wounded.177:1112 177:1113 177:1114 177:1115 177:1116 177:1117 177:1118 177:1119 177:1120 177:1121 177:1122
Adv. Hær. iii. 26. The allusion is to the gnostics and mainly to Valentinus and his school who imagined seven heavens, and a supercelestial space termed “Ogdoad.” “The doctrine of an Ogdoad of the commencement of finite existence having been established by Valentinus, those of his followers who had been imbued with the Pythagorean philosophy introduced a modification. In that philosophy the tetrad was regarded with peculiar veneration, and held to be the foundation of the sensible world.” Cf. Hippolytus Ref. vi. 23, p. 179 “We read there (Iren. i. xi.) of Secundus as a Valentinian who divided the Ogdoad into a right hand and a left hand tetrad, and in the case of Marcus who largely uses Pythagorean speculations about numbers, the tetrad holds the highest place in the system.” Dr. Salmon, Dict. Christ. Biog. iv. 72. Irenæus wrote a work, no longer extant, “on the Ogdoad.” Euseb. H.E. v. 20.177:1123 177:1124 177:1125
Vide Isaiah xix. 1177:1126 178:1127 178:1128
Prov. viii. 22. Sept.178:1129 178:1130 178:1131 178:1132 178:1133 178:1134
Gen. xlix. 11, lxx.178:1135 178:1136 179:1137 179:1138 179:1139 179:1140 179:1141 179:1142 179:1143 179:1144 179:1145 179:1146 179:1147 179:1148 179:1149 179:1150 180:1151 180:1152 180:1153 180:1154 180:1155 180:1156 180:1157 180:1158
Prov. viii. 22; lxx. “ἔκτισε.”180:1159 180:1160 180:1161 181:1162 181:1163 181:1164 181:1165 181:1166 181:1167
cf. 1 Cor. xv. 47181:1168 181:1169
e.g. Anubis, the barker Anubis—cf. Virg. Æn. viii. 698, and the common oath “by the dog,” unless indeed the common adjuration of Socrates νὴ τὸν κύνα may have been only a vernacular substitute for νὴ τὸν Διὰ, like the vulgar “law” for “Lord.” The Benedictine Ed. adds “cats.”181:1170
cf. Ephes. v. 12181:1171 182:1172 182:1173
σάρκωσις κένωσις. cf. Phil. ii. 7182:1174
©st-takla.org : Saint Takla Haymanout Website: General Portal for the Coptic Orthodox Church Faith, Egypt / Contact us at:
Bible | Daily Readings | Agbeya | Books | Lyrics | Gallery | Media | Links | Contact us