On the Incarnation


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For whereas the grace of the Divine Image was in itself sufficient to make known God the Word , and through Him the Father; still God , knowing the weakness of men , made provision even for their carelessness: But since men's carelessness, little by little, descends to lower things, God made provision, once more, even for this weakness of theirs, by sending a law, and prophets , men such as they knew , so that even if they were not ready to look up to heaven and know their Creator, they might have their instruction from those near at hand.

For men are able to learn from men more directly about higher things. So it was open to them, by looking into the height of heaven, and perceiving the harmony of creation, to know its Ruler, the Word of the Father , Who, by His own providence over all things makes known the Father to all, and to this end moves all things, that through Him all may know God. Or, if this were too much for them, it was possible for them to meet at least the holy men, and through them to learn of God , the Maker of all things, the Father of Christ; and that the worship of idols is godlessness, and full of all impiety.

Or it was open to them, by knowing the law even, to cease from all lawlessness and live a virtuous life. For neither was the law for the Jews alone, nor were the Prophets sent for them only, but, though sent to the Jews and persecuted by the Jews , they were for all the world a holy school of the knowledge of God and the conduct of the soul. God's goodness then and loving-kindness being so great — men nevertheless, overcome by the pleasures of the moment and by the illusions and deceits sent by demons , did not raise their heads toward the truth , but loaded themselves the more with evils and sins , so as no longer to seem rational, but from their ways to be reckoned void of reason.

So then, men having thus become brutalized, and demoniacal deceit thus clouding every place, and hiding the knowledge of the true God , what was God to do? To keep still silence at so great a thing, and suffer men to be led astray by demons and not to know God? And what was the use of man having been originally made in God's image? For it had been better for him to have been made simply like a brute animal, than, once made rational, for him to live the life of the brutes. Or where was any necessity at all for his receiving the idea of God to begin with? For if he be not fit to receive it even now, it were better it had not been given him at first.

Or what profit to God Who has made them, or what glory to Him could it be, if men, made by Him, do not worship Him, but think that others are their makers? For God thus proves to have made these for others instead of for Himself. Once again, a merely human king does not let the lands he has colonized pass to others to serve them, nor go over to other men; but he warns them by letters, and often sends to them by friends, or, if need be, he comes in person, to put them to rebuke in the last resort by his presence, only that they may not serve others and his own work be spent for naught.

Shall not God much more spare His own creatures, that they be not led astray from Him and serve things of nought? Especially since such going astray proves the cause of their ruin and undoing, and since it was unfitting that they should perish which had once been partakers of God's image. What then was God to do? Or what was to be done save the renewing of that which was in God's image, so that by it men might once more be able to know Him?

But how could this have come to pass save by the presence of the very Image of God , our Lord Jesus Christ? For by men's means it was impossible, since they are but made after an image; nor by angels either, for not even they are God's images. Whence the Word of God came in His own person, that, as He was the Image of the Father , He might be able to create afresh the man after the image. But, again, it could not else have taken place had not death and corruption been done away. Whence He took, in natural fitness, a mortal body, that while death might in it be once for all done away, men made after His Image might once more be renewed.

None other then was sufficient for this need, save the Image of the Father. For as, when the likeness painted on a panel has been effaced by stains from without, he whose likeness it is must needs come once more to enable the portrait to be renewed on the same wood: I came to find and to save the lost. Whence He said to the Jews also: Except a man be born again, not meaning, as they thought, birth from woman , but speaking of the soul born and created anew in the likeness of God's image.

But since wild idolatry and godlessness occupied the world, and the knowledge of God was hid, whose part was it to teach the world concerning the Father? Man's, might one say? But it was not in man's power to penetrate everywhere beneath the sun; for neither had they the physical strength to run so far, nor would they be able to claim credence in this matter, nor were they sufficient by themselves to withstand the deceit and impositions of evil spirits.

For where all were smitten and confused in soul from demoniacal deceit, and the vanity of idols , how was it possible for them to win over man's soul and man's mind — whereas they cannot even see them? Or how can a man convert what he does not see? But perhaps one might say creation was enough; but if creation were enough, these great evils would never have come to pass. For creation was there already, and all the same, men were grovelling in the same error concerning God.

Who, then, was needed, save the Word of God , that sees both soul and mind , and that gives movement to all things in creation, and by them makes known the Father? For He who by His own Providence and ordering of all things was teaching men concerning the Father , He it was that could renew this same teaching as well. How, then, could this have been done? Perhaps one might say, that the same means were open as before, for Him to show forth the truth about the Father once more by means of the work of creation.

But this was no longer a sure means. Quite the contrary; for men missed seeing this before, and have turned their eyes no longer upward but downward. Whence, naturally, willing to profit men, He sojourns here as man, taking to Himself a body like the others, and from things of earth, that is by the works of His body [He teaches them], so that they who would not know Him from His Providence and rule over all things, may even from the works done by His actual body know the Word of God which is in the body, and through Him the Father.

For as a kind teacher who cares for His disciples , if some of them cannot profit by higher subjects, comes down to their level, and teaches them at any rate by simpler courses; so also did the Word of God. As Paul also says: For seeing that men, having rejected the contemplation of God , and with their eyes downward, as though sunk in the deep, were seeking about for God in nature and in the world of sense, feigning gods for themselves of mortal men and demons ; to this end the loving and general Saviour of all, the Word of God , takes to Himself a body, and as Man walks among men and meets the senses of all men half-way , to the end, I say, that they who think that God is corporeal may from what the Lord effects by His body perceive the truth , and through Him recognize the Father.

Incarnation (Christianity)

So, men as they were, and human in all their thoughts, on whatever objects they fixed their senses, there they saw themselves met half-way , and taught the truth from every side. For if they looked with awe upon the Creation, yet they saw how she confessed Christ as Lord; or if their mind was swayed toward men, so as to think them gods, yet from the Saviour's works, supposing they compared them, the Saviour alone among men appeared Son of God ; for there were no such works done among the rest as have been done by the Word of God.

Or if they were biassed toward evil spirits , even, yet seeing them cast out by the Word, they were to know that He alone, the Word of God , was God , and that the spirits were none. Or if their mind had already sunk even to the dead, so as to worship heroes, and the gods spoken of in the poets, yet, seeing the Saviour's resurrection, they were to confess them to be false gods, and that the Lord alone is true , the Word of the Father , that was Lord even of death.

For this cause He was both born and appeared as Man, and died, and rose again, dulling and casting into the shade the works of all former men by His own, that in whatever direction the bias of men might be, from thence He might recall them, and teach them of His own true Father, as He Himself says: I came to save and to find that which was lost. For men's mind having finally fallen to things of sense, the Word disguised Himself by appearing in a body, that He might, as Man, transfer men to Himself, and centre their senses on Himself, and, men seeing Him thenceforth as Man, persuade them by the works He did that He is not Man only, but also God , and the Word and Wisdom of the true God.

This, too, is what Paul means to point out when he says: That ye being rooted and grounded in love , may be strong to apprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length, and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge , that you may be filled unto all the fullness of God. For by the Word revealing Himself everywhere, both above and beneath, and in the depth and in the breadth — above, in the creation; beneath, in becoming man; in the depth, in Hades; and in the breadth, in the world — all things have been filled with the knowledge of God.

Now for this cause , also, He did not immediately upon His coming accomplish His sacrifice on behalf of all, by offering His body to death and raising it again, for by this means He would have made Himself invisible. But He made Himself visible enough by what He did, abiding in it, and doing such works, and showing such signs, as made Him known no longer as Man, but as God the Word.

For by His becoming Man, the Saviour was to accomplish both works of love ; first, in putting away death from us and renewing us again; secondly, being unseen and invisible, in manifesting and making Himself known by His works to be the Word of the Father , and the Ruler and King of the universe.

For He was not, as might be imagined, circumscribed in the body, nor, while present in the body, was He absent elsewhere; nor, while He moved the body, was the universe left void of His working and Providence; but, thing most marvellous, Word as He was, so far from being contained by anything, He rather contained all things Himself; and just as while present in the whole of Creation, He is at once distinct in being from the universe , and present in all things by His own power — giving order to all things, and over all and in all revealing His own providence , and giving life to each thing and all things, including the whole without being included, but being in His own Father alone wholly and in every respect —2.

Now, it is the function of soul to behold even what is outside its own body, by acts of thought, without, however, working outside its own body, or moving by its presence things remote from the body. Never, that is, does a man , by thinking of things at a distance, by that fact either move or displace them; nor if a man were to sit in his own house and reason about the heavenly bodies, would he by that fact either move the sun or make the heavens revolve.

But he sees that they move and have their being, without being actually able to influence them. Now, the Word of God in His man's nature was not like that; for He was not bound to His body, but rather was Himself wielding it, so that He was not only in it, but was actually in everything, and while external to the universe , abode in His Father only. And this was the wonderful thing that He was at once walking as man, and as the Word was quickening all things, and as the Son was dwelling with His Father. So that not even when the Virgin bore Him did He suffer any change, nor by being in the body was [His glory ] dulled: For not even by being in the universe does He share in its nature, but all things, on the contrary, are quickened and sustained by Him.

For if the sun too, which was made by Him, and which we see, as it revolves in the heaven, is not defiled by touching the bodies upon earth, nor is it put out by darkness, but on the contrary itself illuminates and cleanses them also, much less was the all- holy Word of God , Maker and Lord also of the sun, defiled by being made known in the body; on the contrary, being incorruptible, He quickened and cleansed the body also, which was in itself mortal: Accordingly, when inspired writers on this matter speak of Him as eating and being born, understand that the body, as body, was born, and sustained with food corresponding to its nature, while God , the Word Himself, Who was united with the body, while ordering all things, also by the works He did in the body showed Himself to be not man, but God the Word.

But these things are said of Him, because the actual body which ate, was born, and suffered, belonged to none other but to the Lord: But just as from these things He was known to be bodily present, so from the works He did in the body He made Himself known to be Son of God. But if I do them, though you believe not Me, believe My works; that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father. For just as, though invisible, He is known through the works of creation; so, having become man, and being in the body unseen, it may be known from His works that He Who can do these is not man, but the Power and Word of God.

For His charging evil spirits , and their being driven forth, this deed is not of man , but of God. Or who that saw Him healing the diseases to which the human race is subject, can still think Him man and not God? For He cleansed lepers , made lame men to walk, opened the hearing of deaf men, made blind men to see again, and in a word drove away from men all diseases and infirmities: For who that saw Him give back what was deficient to men born lacking, and open the eyes of the man blind from his birth, would have failed to perceive that the nature of men was subject to Him, and that He was its Artificer and Maker?

For He that gave back that which the man from his birth had not, must be, it is surely evident, the Lord also of men's natural birth. Therefore, even to begin with, when He was descending to us, He fashioned His body for Himself from a Virgin, thus to afford to all no small proof of His Godhead, in that He Who formed this is also Maker of everything else as well.

For who, seeing a body proceeding forth from a Virgin alone without man, can fail to infer that He Who appears in it is Maker and Lord of other bodies also? Or who, seeing the substance of water changed and transformed into wine, fails to perceive that He Who did this is Lord and Creator of the substance of all waters? For to this end He went upon the sea also as its Master, and walked as on dry land, to afford evidence to them that saw it of His lordship over all things. And in feeding so vast a multitude on little, and of His own self yielding abundance where none was, so that from five loaves five thousand had enough, and left so much again over, did He show Himself to be any other than the very Lord Whose Providence is over all things?

But all this it seemed well for the Saviour to do; that since men had failed to know His Providence, revealed in the Universe, and had failed to perceive His Godhead shown in creation, they might at any rate from the works of His body recover their sight, and through Him receive an idea of the knowledge of the Father , inferring, as I said before, from particular cases His Providence over the whole.

For who that saw His power over evil spirits , or who that saw the evil spirits confess that He was their Lord, will hold his mind any longer in doubt whether this be the Son and Wisdom and Power of God? For He made even the creation break silence: For the sun hid His face, and the earth quaked and the mountains were rent: Now these things showed that Christ on the Cross was God , while all creation was His slave, and was witnessing by its fear to its Master's presence.

Thus, then, God the Word showed Himself to men by His works. But our next step must be to recount and speak of the end of His bodily life and course, and of the nature of the death of His body; especially as this is the sum of our faith , and all men without exception are full of it: We have, then, now stated in part, as far as it was possible, and as ourselves had been able to understand, the reason of His bodily appearing; that it was in the power of none other to turn the corruptible to incorruption, except the Saviour Himself, that had at the beginning also made all things out of nought and that none other could create anew the likeness of God's image for men, save the Image of the Father; and that none other could render the mortal immortal , save our Lord Jesus Christ , Who is the Very Life ; and that none other could teach men of the Father , and destroy the worship of idols , save the Word, that orders all things and is alone the true Only-begotten Son of the Father.

But since it was necessary also that the debt owing from all should be paid again: And do not be surprised if we frequently repeat the same words on the same subject. For since we are speaking of the counsel of God , therefore we expound the same sense in more than one form, lest we should seem to be leaving anything out, and incur the charge of inadequate treatment: The body, then, as sharing the same nature with all, for it was a human body, though by an unparalleled miracle it was formed of a virgin only, yet being mortal, was to die also, conformably to its peers.

But by virtue of the union of the Word with it, it was no longer subject to corruption according to its own nature, but by reason of the Word that had come to dwell in it it was placed out of the reach of corruption. And so it was that two marvels came to pass at once, that the death of all was accomplished in the Lord's body, and that death and corruption were wholly done away by reason of the Word that was united with it.

For there was need of death, and death must needs be suffered on behalf of all, that the debt owing from all might be paid. Whence, as I said before, the Word, since it was not possible for Him to die, as He was immortal , took to Himself a body such as could die, that He might offer it as His own in the stead of all, and as suffering, through His union with it, on behalf of all, Bring to nought Him that had the power of death, that is the devil ; and might deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

Why, now that the common Saviour of all has died on our behalf, we, the faithful in Christ , no longer die the death as before, agreeably to the warning of the law; for this condemnation has ceased; but, corruption ceasing and being put away by the grace of the Resurrection, henceforth we are only dissolved, agreeably to our bodies' mortal nature, at the time God has fixed for each, that we may be able to gain a better resurrection. For like the seeds which are cast into the earth, we do not perish by dissolution, but sown in the earth, shall rise again, death having been brought to nought by the grace of the Saviour.

Hence it is that blessed Paul , who was made a surety of the Resurrection to all, says: This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality ; but when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality , then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death where is your sting? O grave where is your victory? Why, then, one might say, if it were necessary for Him to yield up His body to death in the stead of all, did He not lay it aside as man privately, instead of going as far as even to be crucified?

For it were more fitting for Him to have laid His body aside honourably, than ignominiously to endure a death like this. Now, see to it, I reply, whether such an objection be not merely human , whereas what the Saviour did is truly divine and for many reasons worthy of His Godhead.

Firstly, because the death which befalls men comes to them agreeably to the weakness of their nature; for, unable to continue in one stay, they are dissolved with time. Hence, too, diseases befall them, and they fall sick and die. If, then, He had laid aside His body somewhere in private, and upon a bed, after the manner of men , it would have been thought that He also did this agreeably to the weakness of His nature, and because there was nothing in him more than in other men.

But since He was, firstly, the Life and the Word of God , and it was necessary, secondly, for the death on behalf of all to be accomplished, for this cause , on the one hand, because He was life and power, the body gained strength in Him; 6. Since it was not fit, either, that the Lord should fall sick, who healed the diseases of others; nor again was it right for that body to lose its strength, in which He gives strength to the weaknesses of others also.

Why, then, did He not prevent death, as He did sickness? Because it was for this that He had the body, and it was unfitting to prevent it, lest the Resurrection also should be hindered, while yet it was equally unfitting for sickness to precede His death, lest it should be thought weakness on the part of Him that was in the body.

Did He not then hunger? Yes; He hungered, agreeably to the properties of His body. But He did not perish of hunger, because of the Lord that wore it. Hence, even if He died to ransom all, yet He saw not corruption. For [His body] rose again in perfect soundness, since the body belonged to none other, but to the very Life. But it were better, one might say, to have hidden from the designs of the Jews , that He might guard His body altogether from death.

Now let such an one be told that this too was unbefitting the Lord. For as it was not fitting for the Word of God , being the Life, to inflict death Himself on His own body, so neither was it suitable to fly from death offered by others, but rather to follow it up unto destruction, for which reason He naturally neither laid aside His body of His own accord, nor, again, fled from the Jews when they took counsel against Him.

But this did not show weakness on the Word's part, but, on the contrary, showed Him to be Saviour and Life; in that He both awaited death to destroy it, and hasted to accomplish the death offered Him for the salvation of all. Again, from the following also one might see the reasonableness of the Lord's body meeting this end. The Lord was especially concerned for the resurrection of the body which He was set to accomplish.

For what He was to do was to manifest it as a monument of victory over death, and to assure all of His having effected the blotting out of corruption, and of the incorruption of their bodies from thenceforward; as a gage of which and a proof of the resurrection in store for all, He has preserved His own body incorrupt. If, then, once more, His body had fallen sick, and the word had been sundered from it in the sight of all, it would have been unbecoming that He who healed the diseases of others should suffer His own instrument to waste in sickness.

For either He had been mocked as unable to drive away diseases, or if He could, but did not, He would be thought insensible toward others also. Now, death must precede resurrection, as it would be no resurrection did not death precede; so that if the death of His body had taken place anywhere in secret, the death not being apparent nor taking place before witnesses, His Resurrection too had been hidden and without evidence. Or why, while when He had risen He proclaimed the Resurrection, should He cause His death to take place in secret?

Or why, while He drove out evil spirits in the presence of all, and made the man blind from his birth recover his sight, and changed the water into wine, that by these means He might be believed to be the Word of God , should He not manifest His mortal nature as incorruptible in the presence of all, that He might be believed Himself to be the Life? Or how were His disciples to have boldness in speaking of the Resurrection, were they not able to say that He first died?

Or how could they be believed , saying that death had first taken place and then the Resurrection, had they not had as witnesses of His death the men before whom they spoke with boldness? For if, even as it was, when His death and Resurrection had taken place in the sight of all, the Pharisees of that day would not believe , but compelled even those who had seen the Resurrection to deny it, why, surely, if these things had happened in secret, how many pretexts for disbelief would they have devised?

Or how could the end of death, and the victory over it be proved , unless challenging it before the eyes of all He had shown it to be dead, annulled for the future by the incorruption of His body? But what others also might have said, we must anticipate in reply. For perhaps a man might say even as follows: If it was necessary for His death to take place before all, and with witnesses, that the story of His Resurrection also might be believed , it would have been better at any rate for Him to have devised for Himself a glorious death, if only to escape the ignominy of the Cross.

But had He done even this, He would give ground for suspicion against Himself, that He was not powerful against every death, but only against the death devised for Him; and so again there would have been a pretext for disbelief about the Resurrection all the same. So death came to His body, not from Himself, but from hostile counsels, in order that whatever death they offered to the Saviour , this He might utterly do away. And just as a noble wrestler, great in skill and courage , does not pick out his antagonists for himself, lest he should raise a suspicion of his being afraid of some of them, but puts it in the choice of the onlookers, and especially so if they happen to be his enemies, so that against whomsoever they match him, him he may throw, and be believed superior to them all; so also the Life of all, our Lord and Saviour, even Christ, did not devise a death for His own body, so as not to appear to be fearing some other death; but He accepted on the Cross, and endured, a death inflicted by others, and above all by His enemies, which they thought dreadful and ignominious and not to be faced; so that this also being destroyed, both He Himself might be believed to be the Life, and the power of death be brought utterly to nought.

So something surprising and startling has happened; for the death, which they thought to inflict as a disgrace, was actually a monument of victory against death itself. Whence neither did He suffer the death of John, his head being severed, nor, as Esaias, was He sawn in sunder; in order that even in death He might still keep His body undivided and in perfect soundness, and no pretext be afforded to those that would divide the Church. And thus much in reply to those without who pile up arguments for themselves. But if any of our own people also inquire, not from love of debate, but from love of learning, why He suffered death in none other way save on the Cross, let him also be told that no other way than this was good for us, and that it was well that the Lord suffered this for our sakes.

And that is the Cross. For this is exactly what is written: For it is only on the cross that a man dies with his hands spread out. Whence it was fitting for the Lord to bear this also and to spread out His hands, that with the one He might draw the ancient people, and with the other those from the Gentiles , and unite both in Himself.

For this is what He Himself has said, signifying by what manner of death He was to ransom all: And once more, if the devil , the enemy of our race, having fallen from heaven, wanders about our lower atmosphere, and there bearing rule over his fellow-spirits, as his peers in disobedience, not only works illusions by their means in them that are deceived, but tries to hinder them that are going up and about this the Apostle says: According to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that now works in the sons of disobedience ; while the Lord came to cast down the devil , and clear the air and prepare the way for us up into heaven, as said the Apostle: For only he that is perfected on the cross dies in the air.

Whence it was quite fitting that the Lord suffered this death.

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For thus being lifted up He cleared the air of the malignity both of the devil and of demons of all kinds, as He says: I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven; and made a new opening of the way up into heaven as He says once more: Lift up your gates, O you princes, and be lifted up, you everlasting doors. For it was not the Word Himself that needed an opening of the gates, being Lord of all; nor were any of His works closed to their Maker; but we it was that needed it whom He carried up by His own body.

For as He offered it to death on behalf of all, so by it He once more made ready the way up into the heavens. The death on the Cross, then, for us has proved seemly and fitting, and its cause has been shown to be reasonable in every respect; and it may justly be argued that in no other way than by the Cross was it right for the salvation of all to take place.

For not even thus — not even on the Cross — did He leave Himself concealed; but far otherwise, while He made creation witness to the presence of its Maker, He suffered not the temple of His body to remain long, but having merely shown it to be dead, by the contact of death with it, He straightway raised it up on the third day, bearing away, as the mark of victory and the triumph over death, the incorruptibility and impassibility which resulted to His body. For He could, even immediately on death, have raised His body and shown it alive; but this also the Saviour , in wise foresight, did not do.

For one might have said that He had not died at all, or that death had not come into perfect contact with Him, if He had manifested the Resurrection at once. Perhaps, again, had the interval of His dying and rising again been one of two days only, the glory of His incorruption would have been obscure.

So in order that the body might be proved to be dead, the Word tarried yet one intermediate day, and on the third showed it incorruptible to all. So then, that the death on the Cross might be proved , He raised His body on the third day. But lest, by raising it up when it had remained a long time and been completely corrupted, He should be disbelieved, as though He had exchanged it for some other body — for a man might also from lapse of time distrust what he saw, and forget what had taken place — for this cause He waited not more than three days; nor did He keep long in suspense those whom He had told about the Resurrection: For that death is destroyed, and that the Cross has become the victory over it, and that it has no more power but is verily dead, this is no small proof , or rather an evident warrant, that it is despised by all Christ's disciples , and that they all take the aggressive against it and no longer fear it; but by the sign of the Cross and by faith in Christ tread it down as dead.

For of old, before the divine sojourn of the Saviour took place, even to the saints death was terrible , and all wept for the dead as though they perished. But now that the Saviour has raised His body, death is no longer terrible; for all who believe in Christ tread him under as nought, and choose rather to die than to deny their faith in Christ. For they verily know that when they die they are not destroyed, but actually [begin to] live, and become incorruptible through the Resurrection. And that devil that once maliciously exulted in death, now that its pains were loosed, remained the only one truly dead.

And a proof of this is, that before men believe Christ , they see in death an object of terror, and play the coward before him. But when they are gone over to Christ's faith and teaching, their contempt for death is so great that they even eagerly rush upon it, and become witnesses for the Resurrection the Saviour has accomplished against it.

For while still tender in years they make haste to die, and not men only, but women also, exercise themselves by bodily discipline against it. So weak has he become, that even women who were formerly deceived by him, now mock at him as dead and paralyzed. For as when a tyrant has been defeated by a real king, and bound hand and foot, then all that pass by laugh him to scorn, buffeting and reviling him, no longer fearing his fury and barbarity, because of the king who has conquered him; so also, death having been conquered and exposed by the Saviour on the Cross, and bound hand and foot, all they who are in Christ , as they pass by, trample on him, and witnessing to Christ scoff at death, jesting at him, and saying what has been written against him of old: O death , where is your victory?

O grave, where is your sting. Is this, then, a slight proof of the weakness of death? Or is it a slight demonstration of the victory won over him by the Saviour , when the youths and young maidens that are in Christ despise this life and practise to die? For man is by nature afraid of death and of the dissolution of the body; but there is this most startling fact, that he who has put on the faith of the Cross despises even what is naturally fearful, and for Christ's sake is not afraid of death.

And just as, whereas fire has the natural property of burning, if some one said there was a substance which did not fear its burning, but on the contrary proved it weak — as the asbestos among the Indians is said to do — then one who did not believe the story, if he wished to put it to the test, is at any rate, after putting on the fireproof material and touching the fire, thereupon assured of the weakness attributed to the fire: But just as he who has got the asbestos knows that fire has no burning power over it, and as he who would see the tyrant bound goes over to the empire of his conqueror, so too let him who is incredulous about the victory over death receive the faith of Christ , and pass over to His teaching, and he shall see the weakness of death, and the triumph over it.

For many who were formerly incredulous and scoffers have afterwards believed and so despised death as even to become martyrs for Christ Himself. Now if by the sign of the Cross, and by faith in Christ , death is trampled down, it must be evident before the tribunal of truth that it is none other than Christ Himself that has displayed trophies and triumphs over death, and made him lose all his strength. And if, while previously death was strong, and for that reason terrible, now after the sojourn of the Saviour and the death and Resurrection of His body it is despised, it must be evident that death has been brought to nought and conquered by the very Christ that ascended the Cross.

For as, if after night-time the sun rises, and the whole region of earth is illumined by him, it is at any rate not open to doubt that it is the sun who has revealed his light everywhere, that has also driven away the dark and given light to all things; so, now that death has come into contempt, and been trodden under foot, from the time when the Saviour's saving manifestation in the flesh and His death on the Cross took place, it must be quite plain that it is the very Saviour that also appeared in the body, Who has brought death to nought, and Who displays the signs of victory over him day by day in His own disciples.

For when one sees men, weak by nature, leaping forward to death, and not fearing its corruption nor frightened of the descent into Hades, but with eager soul challenging it; and not flinching from torture, but on the contrary, for Christ's sake electing to rush upon death in preference to life upon earth, or even if one be an eye- witness of men and females and young children rushing and leaping upon death for the sake of Christ's religion; who is so silly, or who is so incredulous, or who so maimed in his mind , as not to see and infer that Christ , to Whom the people witness , Himself supplies and gives to each the victory over death, depriving him of all his power in each one of them that hold His faith and bear the sign of the Cross.

For he that sees the serpent trodden under foot, especially knowing his former fierceness no longer doubts that he is dead and has quite lost his strength, unless he is perverted in mind and has not even his bodily senses sound. For who that sees a lion, either, made sport of by children, fails to see that he is either dead or has lost all his power? Just as, then, it is possible to see with the eyes the truth of all this, so, now that death is made sport of and despised by believers in Christ let none any longer doubt , nor any prove incredulous, of death having been brought to nought by Christ, and the corruption of death destroyed and stayed.

What we have so far said, then, is no small proof that death has been brought to naught, and that the Cross of the Lord is a sign of victory over him. But of the Resurrection of the body to immortality thereupon accomplished by Christ, the common Saviour and true Life of all, the demonstration by facts is clearer than arguments to those whose mental vision is sound. For if, as our argument showed, death has been brought to nought, and because of Christ all tread him under foot, much more did He Himself first tread him down with His own body, and bring him to nought.

But supposing death slain by Him, what could have happened save the rising again of His body, and its being displayed as a monument of victory against death? Or how could death have been shown to be brought to nought unless the Lord's body had risen? But if this demonstration of the Resurrection seem to any one insufficient, let him be assured of what is said even from what takes place before his eyes.

For whereas on a man's decease he can put forth no power, but his influence lasts to the grave and thenceforth ceases; and actions, and power over men, belong to the living only; let him who will, see and be judge, confessing the truth from what appears to sight. For now that the Saviour works so great things among men , and day by day is invisibly persuading so great a multitude from every side, both from them that dwell in Greece and in foreign lands, to come over to His faith , and all to obey His teaching, will any one still hold his mind in doubt whether a Resurrection has been accomplished by the Saviour , and whether Christ is alive, or rather is Himself the Life?

Or is it like a dead man to be pricking the consciences of men , so that they deny their hereditary laws and bow before the teaching of Christ? Or how, if he is no longer active for this is proper to one dead , does he stay from their activity those who are active and alive, so that the adulterer no longer commits adultery , and the murderer murders no more, nor is the inflicter of wrong any longer grasping, and the profane is henceforth religious?

Or how, if He be not risen but is dead, does He drive away, and pursue, and cast down those false gods said by the unbelievers to be alive, and the demons they worship? For where Christ is named, and His faith , there all idolatry is deposed and all imposture of evil spirits is exposed, and any spirit is unable to endure even the name, nay even on barely hearing it flies and disappears.

But this work is not that of one dead, but of one that lives — and especially of God. In particular, it would be ridiculous to say that while the spirits cast out by Him and the idols brought to nought are alive, He who chases them away, and by His power prevents their even appearing, yea, and is being confessed by them all to be Son of God , is dead. But they who disbelieve in the Resurrection afford a strong proof against themselves, if instead of all the spirits and the gods worshipped by them casting out Christ, Who, they say, is dead, Christ on the contrary proves them all to be dead.

For if it be true that one dead can exert no power, while the Saviour does daily so many works, drawing men to religion, persuading to virtue , teaching of immortality , leading on to a desire for heavenly things, revealing the knowledge of the Father , inspiring strength to meet death, showing Himself to each one, and displacing the godlessness of idolatry , and the gods and spirits of the unbelievers can do none of these things, but rather show themselves dead at the presence of Christ , their pomp being reduced to impotence and vanity; whereas by the sign of the Cross all magic is stopped, and all witchcraft brought to nought, and all the idols are being deserted and left, and every unruly pleasure is checked, and every one is looking up from earth to heaven: Whom is one to pronounce dead?

Christ, that is doing so many works? But to work is not proper to one dead. Or him that exerts no power at all, but lies as it were without life? Which is essentially proper to the idols and spirits, dead as they are. But death is daily proved to have lost all his power, and idols and spirits are proved to be dead rather than Christ, so that henceforth no man can any longer doubt of the Resurrection of His body. But he who is incredulous of the Resurrection of the Lord's body would seem to be ignorant of the power of the Word and Wisdom of God.

For if He took a body to Himself at all, and — in reasonable consistency, as our argument showed — appropriated it as His own, what was the Lord to do with it? Or what should be the end of the body when the Word had once descended upon it? For it could not but die, inasmuch as it was mortal, and to be offered unto death on behalf of all: But it was impossible for it to remain dead, because it had been made the temple of life.

Whence, while it died as mortal, it came to life again by reason of the Life in it; and of its Resurrection the works are a sign. But if, because He is not seen, His having risen at all is disbelieved, it is high time for those who refuse belief to deny the very course of Nature. For it is God's peculiar property at once to be invisible and yet to be known from His works, as has been already stated above. If, then, the works are not there, they do well to disbelieve what does not appear. But if the works cry aloud and show it clearly, why do they choose to deny the life so manifestly due to the Resurrection?

For even if they be maimed in their intelligence, yet even with the external senses men may see the unimpeachable power and Godhead of Christ. For even a blind man, if he see not the sun, yet if he but take hold of the warmth the sun gives out, knows that there is a sun above the earth. Thus let our opponents also, even if they believe not as yet, being still blind to the truth , yet at least knowing His power by others who believe , not deny the Godhead of Christ and the Resurrection accomplished by Him.

For it is plain that if Christ be dead, He could not be expelling demons and spoiling idols ; for a dead man the spirits would not have obeyed. But if they be manifestly expelled by the naming of His name, it must be evident that He is not dead; especially as spirits, seeing even what is unseen by men , could tell if Christ were dead and refuse Him any obedience at all.

But as it is, what irreligious men believe not, the spirits see — that He is God — and hence they fly and fall at His feet, saying just what they uttered when He was in the body: I pray You, torment me not. As then demons confess Him, and His works bear Him witness day by day, it must be evident, and let none brazen it out against the truth , both that the Saviour raised His own body, and that He is the true Son of God , being from Him, as from His Father, His own Word, and Wisdom, and Power, Who in ages later took a body for the salvation of all, and taught the world concerning the Father , and brought death to nought, and bestowed incorruption upon all by the promise of the Resurrection, having raised His own body as a first-fruits of this, and having displayed it by the sign of the Cross as a monument of victory over death and its corruption.

These things being so, and the Resurrection of His body and the victory gained over death by the Saviour being clearly proved , come now let us put to rebuke both the disbelief of the Jews and the scoffing of the Gentiles. For these, perhaps, are the points where Jews express incredulity, while Gentiles laugh, finding fault with the unseemliness of the Cross, and of the Word of God becoming man.

But our argument shall not delay to grapple with both especially as the proofs at our command against them are clear as day. For Jews in their incredulity may be refuted from the Scriptures , which even themselves read; for this text and that, and, in a word, the whole inspired Scripture, cries aloud concerning these things, as even its express words abundantly show. For prophets proclaimed beforehand concerning the wonder of the Virgin and the birth from her, saying: But Moses , the truly great, and whom they believe to speak truth , with reference to the Saviour's becoming man, having estimated what was said as important, and assured of its truth , set it down in these words: How lovely are your habitations O Jacob, your tabernacles O Israel , as shadowing gardens, and as parks by the rivers, and as tabernacles which the Lord has fixed, as cedars by the waters.

A man shall come forth out of his seed, and shall be Lord over many peoples. That a man , then, shall appear is foretold in those words. But that He that is to come is Lord of all, they predict once more as follows: For from thence also it is that the Father calls Him back, saying: Nor is even His death passed over in silence: For to the end that none should err for want of instruction in the actual events, they feared not to mention even the cause of His death — that He suffers it not for His own sake, but for the immortality and salvation of all, and the counsels of the Jews against Him and the indignities offered Him at their hands.

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A man in stripes, and knowing how to bear weakness, for his face is turned away: He bears our sins , and is in pain on our account; and we reckoned him to be in labour, and in stripes, and in ill-usage; but he was wounded for our sins , and made weak for our wickedness. The chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we were healed. O marvel at the loving-kindness of the Word, that for our sakes He is dishonoured, that we may be brought to honour.

For all we, it says, like sheep had gone astray; man had erred in his way; and the Lord delivered him for our sins ; and he opens not his mouth, because he has been evilly entreated. As a sheep was he brought to the slaughter, and as a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opens he not his mouth: Then lest any should from His suffering conceive Him to be a common man, Holy Writ anticipates the surmises of man , and declares the power which worked for Him , and the difference of His nature compared with ourselves, saying: But who shall declare his generation?

For his life is taken away from the earth. From the wickedness of the people was he brought to death. And I will give the wicked instead of his burial, and the rich instead of his death; for he did no wickedness , neither was guile found in his mouth. And the Lord will cleanse him from his stripes. But, perhaps, having heard the prophecy of His death, you ask to learn also what is set forth concerning the Cross.

Incarnation (Christianity) - Wikipedia

For not even this is passed over: For first Moses predicts it, and that with a loud voice, when he says: You shall see your Life hanging before your eyes, and shall not believe. And next, the prophets after him witness of this, saying: They pierced my hands and my feet, they numbered all my bones, they parted my garments among them, and for my vesture they cast lots.

Now a death raised aloft and that takes place on a tree, could be none other than the Cross: But since by the sojourn of the Saviour among men all nations also on every side began to know God ; they did not leave this point, either, without a reference: This then is a little in proof of what has happened. But all Scripture teems with refutations of the disbelief of the Jews. For which of the righteous men and holy prophets , and patriarchs, recorded in the divine Scriptures , ever had his corporal birth of a virgin only? Or what woman has sufficed without man for the conception of human kind?

Had not each a father as author of his existence? Who then is he that is born of a virgin only?

The Incarnation of the Word of God

For the prophet made exceeding much of this sign. Or whose birth did a star in the skies forerun, to announce to the world him that was born? For when Moses was born, he was hid by his parents: David was not heard of, even by those of his neighbourhood, inasmuch as even the great Samuel knew him not, but asked, had Jesse yet another son? Abraham again became known to his neighbours as a great man only subsequently to his birth. But of Christ's birth the witness was not man, but a star in that heaven whence He was descending. But what king that ever was, before he had strength to call father or mother, reigned and gained triumphs over his enemies?

Did not David come to the throne at thirty years of age, and Solomon, when he had grown to be a young man? Did not Joas enter on the kingdom when seven years old, and Josias, a still later king, receive the government about the seventh year of his age? And yet they at that age had strength to call father or mother. Who, then, is there that was reigning and spoiling his enemies almost before his birth? Or what king of this sort has ever been in Israel and in Juda — let the Jews , who have searched out the matter, tell us — in whom all the nations have placed their hopes and had peace, instead of being at enmity with them on every side?

For as long as Jerusalem stood there was war without respite between them, and they all fought with Israel ; the Assyrians oppressed them, the Egyptians persecuted them, the Babylonians fell upon them; and, strange to say, they had even the Syrians their neighbours at war against them. Or did not David war against them of Moab, and smite the Syrians, Josias guard against his neighbours, and Ezechias quail at the boasting of Senacherim, and Amalek make war against Moses , and the Amorites oppose him, and the inhabitants of Jericho array themselves against Jesus son of Naue?

And, in a word, treaties of friendship had no place between the nations and Israel. But this work is an exception, for the intellect, honesty, and force of personality of St. Athanasius of Alexandria still blaze like a beacon after more than seventeen hun I was pleased to find On the Incarnation remarkably fresh and engaging, still fierce and still passionate too. Athanasius of Alexandria still blaze like a beacon after more than seventeen hundred years. Athanasius was the champion of orthodoxy when orthodoxy was losing, imperiled by the rapid growth of the Arian heresy.

Fr. John Behr - Discussing "On the Incarnation" Talk 1

This heterodox idea, that the Son is somehow a lesser being than the Father, not only spread through the East and converted the barbarians of the West, but also—even more dangerously—appealed to the educated and powerful people of the age. In the course of his life of eighty years, Athanasius, a fierce trinitarian, opposed four emperors and many prominent churchmen, and—as the result of his theological squabbles--was exiled from his bishopric of Alexandria a total of five times. Thus he earned the name—which will also be the title of his biopic if I ever get the chance to film it — Athanasius Contra Mundum Athanasius Against the World.

Arianism receives no mention in On the Incarnation , but the passionate Trinitarianism that kept Athanasius fighting all his life is everywhere in evidence. His principal concern is to show that the Godhead, in all of its fullness and dynamism, is present in every particle of creation, and—most important of all—in the person of Jesus Christ Who is The Word. He begins his account with the creation, making it clear that the Word which redeems us is also the Word which creates us, and that this same Word prepares our redemption by entering thoroughly into every fiber, every recess of our humanity, so that our corrupted flesh may be thoroughly saved from death and that death itself may die.

When Athanasius speaks of atonement, though he mentions Christ as ransom, his Christ is even closer to the Christus Victor—the champion who tricks Satan by His unmerited death and thus wins from His confounded adversary the freedom of our souls—a fitting Christ for a wily old warrior like himself.

I have to admit I found the final three chapters proof texts and apologetics directed to the Jews and the Greeks rather less than inspiring, but the first five—about fifty pages—are compelling enough to read in one sitting. This is, after all, a great story, the story of God Incarnate and His fight for our salvation. And Athanasius, the accomplished fighter, tells the story well. I'll let Athanasius have the last word: As when a great king has entered some great city and dwelt in one of the houses in it, such a city is then greatly honoured, and no longer does any enemy or bandit come against it, but it is rather treated with regard because of the king who has taken up residence in one of its houses; so also is the case with the King of all.

For since he has come to our realm and has dwelt in a body similar to ours, now every machination of the enemy against men has ceased and the corruption of death, which formerly had power over them, has been destroyed. View all 8 comments. Jan 18, Steve rated it it was amazing Shelves: What a wonderful book! I am currently studying and preaching through the Gospel of John, and have given 35 sermons on the gospel that clearly declares the deity of Jesus Christ. After seeing a couple of my GR friends had read or reading this Nick and Bill , I thought that this little book would fit perfectly into my personal study of the fourth gospel.

On the whole, Anathasius does an admirable job of explaining why God had to send His Son, Jesus Christ, to earth so that sinful man could be redee What a wonderful book! On the whole, Anathasius does an admirable job of explaining why God had to send His Son, Jesus Christ, to earth so that sinful man could be redeemed.

In nine short chapters, he packs sound reasoning with scriptural references to defend his arguments and position. He writes about Creation and the Creator, about the fall of man and the love of God to rescue man from his fallen, sinful state. Anathasius writes a chapter directly to Jews, who completely disregard Jesus Christ as the Messiah and ignore their own prophets and holy writings, which all point to the coming of the Messiah. Anathasius wrote this book, actually a letter in a series of letters, in the early 4th century at the age of 18 or 19 to another young man, new to the Christian faith, who had questions about Jesus Christ.

His use of logic is very well done, laying out numerous biblical references and many external proofs for the incarnation of God through Jesus Christ. The translation was very good, and the narration was very well done, too. Even though it was written over years ago, it is surprisingly readable, the truth and logic are still sound, and the Word of God is still valid for mankind today. Nov 12, Suzannah rated it it was amazing Shelves: In his day, he was known as The Black Dwarf, and to the heretic Arius, his lifelong nemesis, probably something even less sensitive.

St Athanasius of Alexandria is known most famously, of course, for standing contra mundum against the world --for standing up for the right thing when the whole world was wrong. He opposed the Arian heresy--which stated that Christ is not truly God, not of the same substance, but rather a creation since a pure spiritual being like God could not possibly, according to Arius, take on diseased flesh. It was, as CS Lewis points out in his introduction to On the Incarnation, "one of those 'sensible,' synthetic religions which are so strongly recommended today.

But it was wrong, and Athanasius dedicated his life to fighting it. Even after the victory at the Council of Nicaea, Arianism died hard and Athanasius continued to be periodically exiled from his home, persecuted, hunted, and assaulted for his unpopular stand.

He never gave in. He fought the good fight till his death, sometime in his 70s. But before all this happened, an earnest, devout, and irrepressibly optimistic teenager wrote a book-length letter to his friend Macarius explaining the Christian faith. That book became a theological classic and one of the great books of Western Civilisation. Unlike many of the great books of Western Civilisation, On the Incarnation is quite short and pithy, explaining the whys behind many of the doctrines of Christianity, but most importantly, why Christ had to come in the flesh, truly God, truly Man, to die and rise again.

It explains exactly why this was the only thing that could have worked: In addition the book discusses other aspects of redemption, and contains quite a bit of apologetic material. For it is a fact that the more unbelievers pour scorn on Him, so much the more does He make His Godhead evident. The things which they, as men, rule out as impossible, He plainly shows to be possible; that which they deride as unfitting, His goodness makes most fit; and things which these wiseacres laugh at as "human" He by His inherent might declares divine.

Thus by what seems His utter poverty and weakness on the cross He overturns the pomp and parade of idols, and quietly and hiddenly wins over the mockers and unbelievers to recognize Him as God.


  1. Rumbo a Marte (Solaris ficción) (Spanish Edition).
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  3. On the Incarnation of the Word;
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On the Incarnation differs from other great books in another important way. The author's youthfulness, high spirits, and vim come off the page at you. Athanasius lived during exciting times, when in just over two brief centuries the Christian faith had swept the Roman world. Just a few years later, the new emperor Constantine himself was to convert to Christianity and decriminalise it for the first time, meaning that you no longer faced death and dismemberment just for being a Christian Christianity was not made the official religion of the Empire for several more years, by Theodosius of the Eastern Empire.

The young Athanasius's enthusiasm reflects the high spirits of the exciting first two centuries of Christendom. Not jaded, as so many Christians today seem to be, by the sheer back-breaking difficulty of spreading the good news of the kingdom of heaven, Athanasius happily proclaims the death of idols, the end of the reign of demons, and the death of death itself: When the sun rises after the night and the whole world is lit up by it, nobody doubts that it is the sun which has thus shed its light everywhere and driven away the dark.

Equally clear is it, since this utter scorning and trampling down of death has ensued upon the Savior's manifestation in the body and His death on the cross, that it is He Himself Who brought death to nought and daily raises monuments to His victory in His own disciples. How can you think otherwise, when you see men naturally weak hastening to death, unafraid at the prospect of corruption, fearless of the descent into Hades, even indeed with eager soul provoking it, not shrinking from tortures, but preferring thus to rush on death for Christ's sake, rather than to remain in this present life?

If you see with your own eyes men and women and children, even, thus welcoming death for the sake of Christ's religion, how can you be so utterly silly and incredulous and maimed in your mind as not to realize that Christ, to Whom these all bear witness, Himself gives the victory to each, making death completely powerless for those who hold His faith and bear the sign of the cross?

When have oracles ceased and become void of meaning, among the Greeks and everywhere, except since the Savior has revealed Himself on earth? When did those whom the poets call gods and heroes begin to be adjudged as mere mortals, except when the Lord took the spoils of death and preserved incorruptible the body He had taken, raising it from among the dead?

Or when did the deceitfulness and madness of demons fall under contempt, save when the Word, the Power of God, the Master of all these as well, condescended on account of the weakness of mankind and appeared on earth? When did the practice and theory of magic begin to be spurned under foot, if not at the manifestation of the Divine Word to men? In a word, when did the wisdom of the Greeks become foolish, save when the true Wisdom of God revealed Himself on earth? In old times the whole world and every place in it was led astray by the worship of idols, and men thought the idols were the only gods that were.

But now all over the world men are forsaking the fear of idols and taking refuge with Christ; and by worshipping Him as God they come through Him to know the Father also, Whom formerly they did not know. The amazing thing, moreover, is this. The objects of worship formerly were varied and countless; each place had its own idol and the so-called god of one place could not pass over to another in order to persuade the people there to worship him, but was barely reverenced even by his own.

Nobody worshipped his neighbor's god, but every man had his own idol and thought that it was lord of all. But now Christ alone is worshipped, as One and the Same among all peoples everywhere; and what the feebleness of idols could not do, namely, convince even those dwelling close at hand, He has effected. He has persuaded not only those close at hand, but literally the entire world to worship one and the same Lord and through Him the Father.

These excerpts are lengthy, but I did so want to introduce you to the irrepressible Athanasius! But wait, you may be saying. Athanasius was writing three centuries after the birth of Christ. Here we are, two millenia later, and Athanasius's optimism seems ill-founded. Look at the world!

The Church seems to be doing nothing about what really matters! But slow down a bit. Athanasius didn't live during a perfect time in world history either!

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During his lifetime the great Arian controversy nearly shipwrecked the entire Faith. He stood almost alone against heresy. When he wrote On the Incarnation , Christians were still being fed to lions, and no end in sight. By the time he died fifty years later, he'd spent half his life in hiding, away from the Arians who were trying to discredit and silence him.

You see, Athanasius's optimism was not based upon some mistaken idea that everything was just fine. It wasn't, and he knew that it wasn't. But he knew Who he believed in. He knew the power of his King, and he had the eyes of faith to look around the world and see the wonderful things that were happening. For wonderful things were happening! The world has never been as dark and dreadful, even now, as it was in the centuries before Christ. And Athanasius had seen with his own eyes that depraved, corrupt, and deadened world come to life in the power of Christ. He knew that God was perfectly capable of cleaning up the mess that remained.

And, just for a while, look at our own world through the eyes of Athanasius. Look at the wonderful things that have happened since his time. The advances in science, learning, and industry. Look at the wonderful things that are happening right now: Then fight the long victory just like Athanasius did.

View all 4 comments. Am I giving this extra stars because it was written in the 4th century and thus, getting some sort of extra credit for a very readable translation? But it is what it is and what it is, is this: Thick with Biblical truth. Glorifies Christ in the highest. I read this at the same time as Advent and I can't think of a better book to read during the holidays. There is a lot of books that Christians sho Am I giving this extra stars because it was written in the 4th century and thus, getting some sort of extra credit for a very readable translation?

There is a lot of books that Christians should not read namely, any book that likes to talk about you. This book should be one of those ones that are given away for free to help us understand the significance and importance of the Word becoming flesh or as C. Lewis so aptly puts it: Feb 03, Andy rated it it was amazing. I read this book with others in a lunchtime discussion group. Our meetings were led by a local Orthodox minister. This book, at first glance, is easier to read than you might expect. The sentences a translation from Greek are in simple structures. The vocabulary is fairly ordinary, and the chapters are short - but the content goes much, much deeper.

This book is a logical, reasoned proof for the incarnation of the Creator God in the person of Jesus Christ. Athanasius moves through the objections I read this book with others in a lunchtime discussion group. Athanasius moves through the objections against Christ as the son of God systematically, de-constructing poor arguments and burning straw men. This book will make you think. The more comfortable you are with logic, the better. This is not a book that will necessarily have you flipping through a Bible.

Because Athanasius was creating an argument for people, mostly, that did not believe in the Bible as a credible source he builds his arguments in some chapters more than others without using much of the Scripture. The Orthodox minister who led my group was a wealth of encyclopedic information about the culture of Athanasius.

I have no doubt this greatly enriched my reading experience. If you don't have someone like this at your disposal I would think having a text about the ancient Greco-Roman culture that you can easily reference would be handy. Occasionally Athanasius references items or beliefs current to his time that would be obscure to the average reader today. I highly recommend reading this if you like to think, and if you like to be challenged.

It's a well-thought argument. If you're a believer you'll find it enriching. If you're a non-believer you might look for holes in his argument, or who knows, maybe be swayed by it. It's a classic either way. View all 9 comments. Aug 11, Chad rated it it was amazing. This short book has had a long life. Written in the 4th century, it continues to speak wisdom and hope and life to the church of every age, including our own.

This is my fourth or fifth time reading it. It is largely due to Athanasius that the church was rescued from the various and widely popular anti-trinitarian heresies of his day. He was said to be the man who stood against the world. May 01, Patrick Williams rated it it was amazing.

Athanasius wrote "On the Incarnation" to explain why Christ became a human thus,it was the earliest writing we have soley dedicated to answer this question - it is like Anselm's "Cur Deo Homo" but about years earlier! Athansius explains that humans fell into death, through sin, because of the deception of the devil. God, who loves humankind, could not idly sit by and watch His creation crumble and be subject to the bondage of death so He sent His son, to become a human, and t Outstanding!

God, who loves humankind, could not idly sit by and watch His creation crumble and be subject to the bondage of death so He sent His son, to become a human, and take death in our stead so that we could be healed and restored back into the image and likeness of God. This quick review does not do the book justice - take the time to read this, digest Athansius teaching, and be amazed at the great love God has for us and understand the answer to the ancient question: Apr 12, Douglas Wilson rated it it was amazing Shelves: Apr 27, Samuel Parkison rated it it was amazing.

It's frankly embarrassing to admit how little I've read from the Patristics directly. This is the first time I've read Athanasius, "On the Incarnation," and wow, what have I been doing with my life?? What I found most striking about this little work is clear Athanasius is. Somehow, I've been led to believe that the early Church Fathers are too cryptic and mysterious for modern readers to understand I don't know where I got that idea, so there's no one to blame but myself , but Athanasius writes It's frankly embarrassing to admit how little I've read from the Patristics directly.

Somehow, I've been led to believe that the early Church Fathers are too cryptic and mysterious for modern readers to understand I don't know where I got that idea, so there's no one to blame but myself , but Athanasius writes with incredible precision and clarity. Furthermore, it's not as if Athanasius is writing with primitive, half-baked theological categories that still need hundreds of years to perfect; reading this little work, it's clear that Athanasius has a specific, robust theological system that he's working with--he has a fully developed Christology, which is more than can be said about many of the modern Christological discussions.

What I particularly found interesting is how closely Athanasius links the incarnation as a redemptive, atoning act in and of itself. For Athanasius, it's not simply that Christ took on a human body so that such a human body could be used as an arbitrary means for atonement. I have heard Athanasius' views summarized simply as: For Athanasius, the incarnation wasn't simply a means to crucifixion, rather, the crucifixion wouldn't mean anything at all without the incarnation being what it is: I found this passage helpful: If, then, death had been outside the body, life would also have had to be outside it.

But if death was interwoven with the body, and dominated it as if united to it, it was necessary for life to be interwoven with the body, so that the body putting on life should cast off corruption. Otherwise, if the Word had been outside the body, and not in it, death would have been conquered by him most naturally, since death has no power against life, but nonetheless the attached corruption would have remained in the body. For this reason, the Savior rightly put on a body, in order that the body, being interwoven with life, might no longer remain as mortal in death, but, as having put on immortality, henceforth it might, when arising, remain immortal.

This book was incredibly helpful for me. Count me down as one more believer in the importance of reading patristics for developing a healthy theology. Jan 22, Sarah Gutierrez Myers rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: I cannot speak highly enough of this great work on the Incarnation of Christ.

The doctrine and the mystery of Word become flesh, God become man, and Creator taking the form of His creation to restore it unto Himself is presented by Athanasius in a form that is short, direct, and overflowing with insight conveyed in simple language. That mystery the Jews traduce, the Greeks deride, but we adore; and your own love and devotion to the Word also will be the greater, because in His Manhood He seems so little worth.

Aug 24, Kim rated it really liked it Shelves: Lewis had it right in his introduction to this spiritual classic dating from the 4th century. He pointed out how our fear causes us to shy away from reading these classics directly and instead we read commentaries on them and what other people "think" they mean. According to Lewis, "It has always therefore been one of my main endeavours as a teacher to persuade the young that firsthand knowledge is not only more worth acquiring than secondhand knowledge, but is usually much easier and more C.

According to Lewis, "It has always therefore been one of my main endeavours as a teacher to persuade the young that firsthand knowledge is not only more worth acquiring than secondhand knowledge, but is usually much easier and more delightful to acquire. The truth is there and is to the point. The ancient writers didn't include a lot of fluff so these aren't as hard to get through as one would think.

This book covers the Fall, the purpose of Christ becoming man, His death and resurrection, and how the knowledge of the truth can show the errors of thought amongst Jews and Gentiles of the time and still today. Towards the end, he is speaking of the decline of Greek god worship and why that was. I know it wasn't as simple as Athanasius made it seem to be, but his point of it being because many who had followed false deities now saw the truth of the Savior made sense.

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