Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Excepts from Athanasius on the Incarnation

For Christmas this year, rather than putting up more thoughts of my own, I'll leave you with a few passages from Athanasius' On the Incarnation, a relatively short but very important work expressing the Orthodox theology of the Incarnation.
He, the mighty one, the artificer of all, himself prepared his body in the virgin as a temple for himself, and took it for his very own, as the instrument through which he was known and in which he dwelt. Thus, taking a body like our own, because all our bodies were liable to the corruption of death, he surrendered his body to death instead of all, and offered it to the father. This he did out of sheer love for us, so that in his death all might die, and the law of death thereby be abolished because, having fulfilled in his body that for which it was appointed, it was thereafter voided of its power for men. This he did that he might turn again to incorruption men who had turned back to corruption, and make them alive through death by the appropriation of his body and by the grace of his resurrection. Thus he would make death to disappear from them as utterly as straw from fire. (8)
As, then, he who desires to see God who by nature is invisible and not to be beheld, may yet perceive and know him through his works, so too let him who does not see Christ with his understanding at least consider him in his bodily works and test whether they be of man or of God. If they be of man, then let him scoff; but if they be of God, let him not mock things which are no fit subject for scorn, but rather let him recognize the fact and marvel that things divine have been revealed to us by such humble means, that through death deathlessness has been made known to us, and through the incarnation of the word the mind whence all things proceed has been declared, and its agent  and ordainer, the word of God himself.

He, indeed, assumed humanity that we might become god. He manifested himself by means of a body in order that we might perceive the mind of the unseen Father. He endured shame from men that we might inherit immortality. He himself was unhurt by this, for he is impassable and uncorruptible, but by his own impassability he kept and healed the suffering men on whose account he thus endured . In short, such and so many are the Savior's achievements that follow from his incarnation, that to try to number them is like gazing at the open sea and trying to count the waves. One cannot see all the waves with one's eyes, for when one tries to do so those that are following on baffle one's senses. Even so, when one wants to take in all the achievements of Christ in the body, one cannot do so, even by reckoning them up, for the things that transcend one's thought are always more than those one thinks that one has grasped. (54)

No comments:

Post a Comment