Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. XI:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Works of John Cassian.: Chapter III. He explains the apostle's saying: “If from henceforth we know no man according to the flesh,” etc.
He explains the apostles saying: “If from henceforth we know no man according to the flesh,” etc.
And so the same Apostle says: “From henceforth we know no man according to the flesh, and if we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him so no longer.” 2422 Admirably consistent are all the writings of the sacred word with each other, and in every portion of them: even where they do not correspond in the form of the words, yet they agree in the drift and substance. As where he says: “And if we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him so no longer.” For the witness of the passage before us confirms that quoted above, in which he said: “Of whom is Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed for ever.” For there he writes: “Of whom is Christ according to the flesh;” and here: “if we have known Christ according to the flesh.” There: “who is over all, God blessed for ever;” and here: “yet now we no longer know Christ according to the flesh.” The look of the words is different, but their force and drift is the same. For it is the same Person whom he p. 564 there declares to be God over all born according to the flesh, whom he here asserts that he no longer knows according to the flesh. And plainly for this reason; viz., because Him whom he had known as born in the flesh, he acknowledges as God for ever; and therefore says that he knows him not after the flesh, because He is over all, God blessed for ever; and the phrase there: “who is over all God,” answers to this: “we no longer know Christ according to the flesh;” and this phrase: “we no longer know Christ according to the flesh” implies this: “who is God blessed for ever.” 2423 The declaration of Apostolic teaching then somehow rises, as it were to greater heights, and though it is self-consistent throughout, yet it supports the mystery of the perfect faith, with a still more express statement, and says: “And though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him so no longer,” i.e., as formerly we knew Him as man as well as God, yet now only as God. For when the frailty of flesh comes to an end, we no longer know anything in Him except the power of Divinity, for all that is in Him is the power of Divine Majesty, where the weakness of human infirmity has ceased to exist. In this passage then he has thoroughly expounded the whole mystery of the Incarnation, and of His perfect Divinity. For where he says: “And if we have known Christ according to the flesh,” he speaks of the mystery of God born in flesh. But by adding “yet now we know Him so no longer,” he manifests His power when weakness is laid aside. And thus that knowledge of the flesh has to do with His humanity, and that ignorance, with the glory of His Divinity. For to say “we have known Christ according to the flesh:” means “as long as that which was known, existed. Now we no longer know it, after it has ceased to exist. For the nature of flesh has been transformed into a spiritual substance: and that which formerly belonged to the manhood, has all become Gods. And therefore we no longer know Christ according to the flesh, because when bodily infirmity has been absorbed by Divine Majesty, 2424 nothing remains in that Sacred Body, from which weakness of the flesh can be known in it. And thus whatever had formerly belonged to a twofold substance, has become attached to a single Power. Since there is no sort of doubt that Christ, who was crucified through human weakness lives entirely through the glory of His Divinity.
2 Cor. v. 16.564:2423
Petschenigs text reads as follows: Ac per hoc et illud ibi; Qui est super omnia Deus, hoc dicit: non novimus, jam Christum secundum carnem et hic: non novimus jam Christum secundum carnem, hoc ait: Qui est Deus benedictus in sæcula. That of Gazæus has: Ac per hoc et illud ibi qui est super omnia Deus: et hoc dicit, non novimus jam Christum secundum carnem: Quia est Deus benedictus in sæcula.564:2424
The language used in the text by Cassian is scarcely defensible. The whole tenour of the treatise shows clearly enough that his meaning is orthodox enough, and that he fully recognizes that the Human nature of Christ is still existing (see especially c. vi.): but the language used comes perilously near to Eutychianism, and might be taken to imply that the human nature had been absorbed in the Divine. Again in Book V. c. vii. he speaks of the Son of man “united to the Son of God” (cf. also c. viii.), language which taken by itself might seem to sanction Nestorianism, the very heresy against which Cassian himself is writing. These instances of inaccurate language, which a later writer would have carefully avoided, serve to show one great service which heresies did to the Church in making Churchmen write λογικώτερον. Cf. Dorner, Doctrine of the Person of Christ, Vol. i. p. 458 (E. T.).
Next: Chapter IV. From the Epistle to the Galatians he brings forward a passage to show that the weakness of the flesh in Christ was absorbed by His Divinity.
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