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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. IX:
John of Damascus: Exposition of the Orthodox Faith.: Concerning the manner in which the Word was conceived, and concerning His divine incarnation.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter II.Concerning the manner in which the Word 1942 was conceived, and concerning His divine incarnation.

The angel of the Lord was sent to the holy Virgin, who was descended from David’s line 1943 . For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Judah, of which tribe no one turned his attention to the altar 1944 , as the divine apostle said: but about this we will speak more accurately later. And bearing glad tidings to her, he said, Hail thou highly favoured one, the Lord is with thee 1945 . And she was troubled at his word, and the angel said to her, Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found favour with God, and shalt bring forth a Son and shalt call His name Jesus 1946 ; for He shall save His people from their sins 1947 . Hence it comes that Jesus has the interpretation Saviour. And when she asked in her perplexity, How can this be, seeing I know not a man 1948 ? the angel again answered her, The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee. Therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee 1949 shall be called the Son of God 1950 . And she said to him, Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it unto me according to Thy word 1951 .

So then, after the assent of the holy Virgin, the Holy Spirit descended on her, according to the word of the Lord which the angel spoke, purifying her 1952 , and granting her power to receive the divinity of the Word, and likewise power to bring forth 1953 . And then was she overshadowed 1954 by the enhypostatic Wisdom and Power of the most high God, the Son of God Who is of like essence with the Father as of Divine seed, and from her holy and most pure blood He formed flesh animated with the spirit of reason and thought, the first-fruits of our compound nature 1955 : not by procreation but by creation through the Holy Spirit: not developing the fashion of the body by gradual additions but perfecting it at once, He Himself, the very Word of God, standing to the flesh in the relation of subsistence. For the divine Word was not made one with flesh that had an independent pre-existence 1956 , but taking up His abode in the womb of the holy Virgin, He unreservedly in His own subsistence took upon Himself through the pure blood of the eternal Virgin a body of flesh animated with the spirit of reason and thought, thus assuming to Himself the first-fruits of man’s compound nature, Himself, the Word, having become a subsistence in the flesh. So that 1957 He is at once flesh, and at the same time flesh of God the Word, and likewise flesh animated, possessing both reason and thought 1958 . Wherefore we speak not of man as having become God, but of God as having become Man 1959 . For being by nature perfect God, He naturally became likewise perfect Man: and did not change His nature nor make the dispensation 1960 an empty show, but became, without confusion or change or division, one in subsistence with the flesh, which was conceived of the holy Virgin, and animated with reason and thought, and had found existence in Him, while He did not change the nature of His divinity into the essence of flesh, nor the essence of flesh into the nature of His divinity, and did not make one compound nature out of His divine nature and the human nature He had assumed 1961 .



Text, τοῦ Λόλου. Variant, τοῦ Θεοῦ Λόγου: so Dei Verbi (Faber).


St. Luke i. 27.


Hebr. vii. 14.


St. Luke i. 28.


Luke 1:30, 31.


St. Matt. i. 21.


St. Luke i. 34.


“Of thee” is wanting in some mss.


St. Luke i. 35.


Luke 1.38.


Luke 1:27, 28.


Greg. Naz., Orat. 38 and 42.


Cf. Athan., Ep. ad Serap., De Spiritu Sancto; Greg. Nyss., Contr. Apoll. 6, 25; Rufinus, Exp. Symb.; Tertullian, De Carne Christi and Contr. Prax.; Hilary, De Trin. II. 26.


Basil, Christi Nativ.


Cyril, Apolog. 5 and 8 anathem.


Cf. Greg. Naz., 1 Ep. ad Cledon; Cyril, 1 Ep. ad Nestor.; Theodor., Ep. ad Joan. Antioch., &c.


Cyril., Epist. ad Monach.


Procl., Epist. 2 ad Arm.


τῆν οἰκονομίαν, the œconomy, the Incarnation.


Cod. R. 2428 adds here some statements taken from the Dissertation against the Nestorians.

Next: Concerning Christ's two natures, in opposition to those who hold that He has only one.

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