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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. IX:
John of Damascus: Exposition of the Orthodox Faith.: Concerning the question, when Christ was called.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter VI.—Concerning the question, when Christ was called.

The mind was not united with God the Word, as some falsely assert 2268 , before the Incarnation by the Virgin and from that time called Christ. That is the absurd nonsense of Origen 2269 who lays down the doctrine of the priority of the existence of souls. But we hold that the Son and Word of God became Christ after He had dwelt in the womb of His holy ever-virgin Mother, and became flesh without change, and that the flesh was anointed with divinity. For this is the anointing of humanity, as Gregory the Theologian says 2270 . And here are the words of the most holy Cyril of Alexandria which he wrote to the Emperor Theodosius 2271 : “For I indeed hold that one ought to give the name Jesus Christ neither to the Word that is of God if He is without humanity, nor yet to the temple born of woman if it is not united with the Word. For the Word that is of God is understood to be Christ when united with humanity in ineffable manner in the union of the œconomy 2272 .” And again, he writes to the Empresses thus 2273 : “Some hold that the name ‘Christ’ is rightly given to the Word that is begotten of God the Father, to Him alone, and regarded separately by Himself. But we have not been taught so to think and speak. For when the Word became flesh, then it was, we say, that He was called Christ Jesus. For since He was anointed with the oil of gladness, that is the Spirit, by Him Who is God and Father, He is for this reason 2274 called Christ. But that the anointing was an act that concerned Him as man could be doubted by no one who is accustomed to think rightly.” Moreover, the celebrated Athanasius says this in his discourse “Concerning the Saving Manifestation:” “The God Who was before the sojourn in the flesh was not man, but God in God, being invisible and without passion, but when He became man, He received in addition the name of Christ because of the flesh, since, indeed, passion and death follow in the train of this name.”

And although the holy Scripture 2275 says, Therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness 2276 , it is to be observed that the holy Scripture often uses the past tense instead of the future, as for example here: Thereafter He was seen upon the earth and dwelt among men 2277 . For as yet God was not seen nor did He dwell among men when this was said. And here again: By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down; yea wept 2278 . For as yet these things had not come to pass.



See Sophr., Ep. ad Serg.; Origen, Περὶ ἀρχῶν, II. 6; Ruf., Expos. Symb., &c.


Origen, Περὶ ἀρχῶν, bk. ii., ch. 6.


Orat. 36, near the end.


Edit. Paris, p. 25.


καθ᾽ ἕνωσιν οἰκονομικήν, in the union of the Incarnation.


Edit. Paris, p. 54.


Ps. xlv. 7.


Ps. xlv. 7.


Some copies omit the last five words.


Bar. iii. 38.


Ps. cxxxvii. 1.

Next: In answer to those who enquire whether the holy Mother of God bore two natures, and whether two natures hung upon the Cross.

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