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Transliteration of Greek words: All phonetical except: w = omega; h serves
three puposes: 1. = Eta; 2. = rough breathing, when appearing initially
before a vowel; 3. = in the aspirated letters theta = th, phi = ph, chi =
ch. Accents are given immediately after their corresponding vowels: acute =
' , grave = `, circumflex = ^. The character ' doubles as an apostrophe,
THEODORET OF CYRUS
THE "ERANISTES"(1) OR "POLYMORPHUS"(2)
[Translated by the Rev. Blomfield Jackson, M.A., Vicar of St.
Bartholomew's, Moor Lane, and Fellow of King's College, London.]
Some men, distinguished neither by family nor education, and without
any of the honourable notoriety that comes of an upright life, are
ambitious of achieving fame by wicked ways. Of these was the famous
Alexander, the coppersmith,(3) a man of no sort of distinction at all,--no
nobility of birth, no eloquence of speech, who never led a political party
nor an army in the field; who never played the man in fight, but plied from
day to day his ignominious craft, and won fame for nothing but his mad
violence against Saint Paul.
Shimei,(4) again, an obscure person of servile rank, has become very
renowned for his audacious attack on the holy David.
It is said too that the originator of the Manichaean heresy was a mere
whipping-block of a slave, and, from love of notoriety, composed his
execrable and superstitious writings.
The same line of conduct is pursued by many now, who after turning
their backs on the honourable glory of virtue on account of the toil to be
undergone ere it be won, purchase to themselves the notoriety that comes of
shame and disgrace. For through eagerness to pose as champions of new
doctrines they pick up and get together the impiety of many heresies, and
compile this heresy of death.
Now I will endeavour briefly to dispute with them, with the double
object of curing them, if I can, of their unsoundness, and of giving a word
of warning to the whole.
I call my work "Eranistes, or Polymorphus," for, after getting together
from many unhappy sources their baleful doctrines, they produce their
patchwork and incongruous conceit. For to call our Lord Christ God only is
the way of Simon, of Cerdo, of Marcion,(1) and of others who share this
The acknowledgment of His birth from a Virgin, but coupled with the
assertion that this birth was merely a process of transition, and that God
the Word took nothing of the Virgin's nature, is stolen from Valentinus and
Bardesanes and the adherents of their fables) To call the godhead and the
manhood of the Lord Christ one nature is the error filched from the follies
Again the attribution of capacity of suffering to the divinity of the
Christ is a theft from the blasphemy of Arius and Eunomius. Thus the main
principle of their teaching is like beggars' gabardines--a cento of ill-
So I call this work Eranistes or Polymorphus. I shall write it in the
form of a dialogue with questions and answers, propositions, solutions, and
antitheses, and all else that a dialogue ought to have. I shall not insert
the names of the questioners and respondents in the body of the dialogue as
did the wise Greeks of old, but I shall write them at the side at the
beginning of the paragraphs. They, indeed, put their writings in the hands
of readers highly and variously educated, and to whom literature was life.
I, on the contrary, wish the reading of what I write, and the discovery of
whatever good it may give, to be an easy task, even to the illiterate. This
I think will be facilitated if the characters of the interlocutors are
plainly shown by their names in the margin, so the disputant who argues on
behalf of the apostolical decrees is called "Orthodoxos," and his opponent
"Eranistes." A man who is fed by the charity of many we commonly call
"Beggar;" a man who knows how to get money together we call a
"Chrematistes." So we have given our disputant this name from his character
I beg that all those into whose hands my book may fall will lay aside
all preconceived opinion and put the truth to the test. For clearness' sake
I will divide my book into three dialogues. The first will contain the
contention that the Godhead of the only-begotten Son is immutable. The
second will by God's help show that the union of the Godhead and the
manhood of the Lord Christ is without confusion. The third will contend for
the impassibility of the divinity of our saviour. After these three
disputations we will subjoin several others as it were to complete them,
giving formal proof under each head, and making it perfectly plain that the
apostles' doctrine is preserved by us.
DIALOGUE I: THE IMMUTABLE.
Orthodoxos and Eranistes.
Orth.--Better were it for us to agree and abide by the apostolic
doctrine in its parity. But since, I know not how, you have broken the
harmony, and are now offering us new doctrines, let us, if you please, with
no kind of quarrel, investigate the truth.
Eran.--We need no investigation, for we exactly hold the truth.
Orth.--This is what every heretic supposes. Aye, even Jews and Pagans
reckon that they are defending the doctrines of the truth; and so also do
not only the followers of Plato and Pythagoras, but Epicureans too, and
they that are wholly without God or belief. It becomes us, however, not to
be the slaves of a priori assumption, but to search for the knowledge of
Eran.--I admit the force of what you say and am ready to act on your
Orth.--Since then you have made no difficulty in yielding to this my
preliminary exhortation, I ask you in the next place not to suffer the
investigation of the truth to depend on the reasonings of men, but to track
the footprints of the apostles and prophets, and saints who followed them.
For so wayfarers when they wander from the high-road are wont to consider
well the pathways, if haply they shew any prints of men or horses or asses
or mules going this way or that, and when they find anysuch they trace the
tracks as dogs do and leavethem not till once more they are in the
Eran.--So let us do. Lead on yourself, as you began the discussion.
Orth.--Let us, therefore, first make careful and thorough investigation
into the divine names,--I mean substance, and essences, and persons and
proprieties, and let us learn anti define how they differ the one from the
other. Then let us thus handle afterwards what follows.
Eran.--You give us a very admirable and proper introduction to our
argument. When these points are clear, our discussion will go forward
without let or obstacle.
Orth.--Since we have decided then that this must be our course of
procedure, tell me, my friend, do we acknowledge one substance of God,
alike of Father and of the only begotten Son and of the Holy Ghost, as we
have been taught by Holy Scripture, both Old and New, and by the Fathers in
Council in Nicaea, or do we follow the blasphemy of Arius?
Eran.--We confess one substance of the Holy Trinity.
Orth.--And do we reckon hypostasis to signify anything else than
substance, or do we take it for another name of substance?
Eran.--Is there any difference between substance and hypostasis?(1)
Orth.--In extra Christian philosophy there is not, for ousi'a signifies
to` o'n, that which is, and hupo'stasis that which subsists. But according
to the doctrine of the Fathers there is the same difference between ousi'a
and hupo'stasis as between the common and the particular, and the species
and the individual.
Eran.--Tell me more clearly what is meant by race or kind, and species
Orth.--We speak of race or kind with regard to the animal, for it means
many things at once. It indicates both the rational and the irrational; and
again there are many species of irrational, creatures that fly, creatures
that are amphibious, creatures that on foot, and creatures that swim. And
of these species each is marked by many subdivisions; of creatures that go
on foot there is the lion, the leopard, the bull, and countless others. So,
too, of flying creatures and the rest there are many species; yet all of
them, though the species are the aforesaid, belong to one and the same
animal race. Similarly the name man is tile common name of mankind; for it
means the Roman, the Athenian, the Persian, the Sauromatian,(1) the
Egyptian, and, in a word, all who are human, but the name Paulus or Petrus
does not signify what is common to the kind but some particular man; for no
one on hearing of Paul turns in thought to Adam or Abraham or Jacob, but
thinks of him alone whose name he has heard. But if he hears the word man
simply, he does not fix his mind on the individual, but bethinks him of the
Indian,(4) the Scythian, and the Massagete, and of all the race of men
together, and we learn this not only from nature, but also from Holy
Scripture, for God said, we read, "I will destroy man from the face of the
earth,"(2) and this he spake of countless multitudes, and when more than
two thousand and two hundred years had gone by after Adam, he brought
universal destruction on men through the flood, and so the blessed David
says: "Man that as in honour and understandeth not,"(3) accusing not one
here nor one there, but all men in common. A thousand similar examples
might be found, but we must not be tedious.
Eran.--The difference between the common and the proper is shewed
clearly. Now let us return to discussion about ousi'a and hupo'stasis.
Orth.--As then the name man is common to human nature, so we understand
the divine substance to indicate the Holy Trinity; but the hypostasis
denotes any person, as the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost; for,
following the definitions of the Holy Fathers, we say that hypostasis and
individuality mean the same thing.
Eran.--We agree that this is so.
Orth.--Whatever then is predicated of the divine nature is common both
to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, as for instance "God,"
"Lord," "Creator," "Almighty," and so forth.
Eran.--Without question these words are common to the Trinity.
Orth.--But all that naturally denotes the hypostasis ceases to be
common to the Holy Trinity, and denotes the hypostasis to which it is
proper, as, for instance, the names "Father," "Unbegotten," are peculiar to
the Father; while again the names "Son," "Only Begotten," "God the Word,"
do not denote the Father, nor yet the Holy Ghost, but the Son, and the
words "Holy Ghost," "Paraclete," naturally denote the hypostasis of the
Eran.--But does not Holy Scripture call both the Father and the Son
Orth.--Yes, it calls both the Father and the Son "Spirit," signifying
by this term the incorporeal illimitable character of the divine nature.
The Holy Scripture only calls the hypostasis of the Spirit "Holy Ghost."
Eran.--This is indisputable.
Orth.--Since then we assert that some terms are common to the Holy
Trinity, and some peculiar to each hypostasis, do we assert the term
"immutable" to be common to the substance or peculiar to any hypostasis?
Eran.--The term "immutable" is common to the Trinity, for it is
impossible for part of the substance to be mutable and part immutable.
Orth.--You have well said, for as the term mortal is common to mankind,
so are "immutable" and "invariable" to the Holy Trinity. So the only-
begotten Son is immutable, as are both the Father that begat Him and the
Orth.--How then do you advance the statement in the gospel "the word
became flesh."(1) and predicate mutation of the immutable nature?
Eran.--We assert Him to have been made flesh not by mutation, but as He
Him self knows.
Orth.--If He is not said to have become flesh by taking flesh. one of
two things must be asserted, either that he underwent tile mutation into
flesh, or was only so seen in appearance, and in reality was God without
Eran.--This is tile doctrine of the disciples of Valentinus, Marcion,
and of the Manichees, but we have been taught without dispute that the
divine Word was made flesh.
Orth.--But in what sense do you mean "was made flesh"? "Took flesh," or
"was changed into flesh"?
Eran.--As we have heard the evangelist say, "the word was made flesh."
Orth.--In what sense do you understand "was made"?
Eran.--He who underwent mutation into flesh was made flesh, and, as I
said just now, as He knows. But we know that with Him all things are
possible,(1) for He changed the water of the Nile into blood, and day into
night, and made the sea dry land, and filled the dry wilderness with water,
and we hear the prophet saying "Whatsoever the Lord pleased that did He in
heaven, and in earth, in the seas and all deep places."(2)
Orth.--The creature is transformed by the Creator as He will, for it is
mutable and obeys the nod of Him that fashioned it. But His nature is
immutable and invariable, wherefore of the creature the prophet saith "He
that maketh and transformeth all things."(3) But of the divine Word the
great David says "Thou art the same and thy years shall not fail."(4) And
again the same God says of Himself "For I am the Lord and I change not."(5)
Eran.--What is hidden ought not to "be enquired into."
Orth.--Nor yet what is plain to be altogether ignored.
Eran.--I am not aware of the manner of the incarnation. I have heard
that the Word was made flesh.
Orth.--If He was made flesh by mutation He did not remain what He was
before, and this is easily intelligible from several analogies. Sand, for
instance. when it is subjected to heat, first becomes fluid, then is
changed and congealed into glass, and at the time of the change alters its
name, for it is no longer called sand but glass.
Eran.--So it is.
Orth.--And while we call the fruit of the vine grape, when once we have
pressed it, we speak of it no longer as grape, but as wine.
Orth.--And the wine itself, after it has undergone a change, it is our
custom to name no longer wine, but vinegar.
Orth.--And similarly stone when burnt and in solution is no longer
called stone, but lime. And innumerable other similar instances might be
found where mutation involves a change of name.
Orth.--If therefore you assert that the Divine Word underwent the
change in the flesh, why do you call Him God and not flesh? for change of
name fits in with the alteration of nature. For if where the things which
undergo change have some relation to their former condition (for there is a
certain approximation of vinegar to wine and of wine to the fruit of the
vine, and of glass to sand) they receive another name after their
alteration, how, where the difference between them is infinite and as wide
as that which divides a gnat from the whole visible and invisible creation
(for so wide, nay much wider, is the difference between the nature of flesh
and of Godhead) is it possible for the same name to obtain after the
Eran.--I have said more than once that He was made flesh not by
mutation, but continuing still to be what He was, He was made what He was
Orth.--But unless this word" was made" becomes quite clear it suggests
mutation and alteration, for unless He was made flesh by taking flesh He
was made flesh by undergoing mutation.
Eran.--But the word "take" is your own invention. The Evangelist says
the Word was made flesh.(1)
Orth.--You seem either to be ignorant of the sacred Scripture, or to do
it wrong knowingly. Now if you are ignorant, I will teach you; if yon are
doing wrong, I will convict you. Answer then; do you acknowledge the
teaching of the divine Paul to be of the Spirit?
Orth.--And do you allow that the same Spirit wrought through both
Evangelists and Apostles?
Eran.--Yes, for so have I learnt from the Apostolic Scripture "There
are diversities of gifts but the same spirit,"(2) and again "All these
things worketh that one and the selfsame spirit, dividing to every man
severally as He will," a and again "Having the same Spirit of the
Orth.--Your introduction of the apostolic testimony is in season. If we
assert that the instruction alike of the evangelists and of the apostles is
of the same spirit, listen how the apostle interprets the words of the
Gospel, for in the Epistle to the Hebrews he says, "Verily he took not on
him the nature of angels, but be took on him the seed of Abraham."(1) Now
tell me what you mean by the seed of Abraham. Was not that which was
naturally proper to Abraham proper also to the seed of Abraham?
Eran.--No; not without exception, for Christ did no sin.
Orth.--Sin is not of nature, but of corrupt will.(2) On this very
account, therefore, I did not say indefinitely what Abraham had, but what
he had according to nature, that is to say, body and reasonable soul. Now
tell me plainly; will you acknowledge that the seed of Abraham was endowed
with body and reasonable soul? If not, in this point you agree with the
ravings of Apollinarius. But I will compel you to confess this by other
means. Tell me now; had the Jews a body and a reasonable soul?
Eran.--Of course they had.
Orth.--So when we hear the prophet saying, "But thou, Israel, art my
servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend,"(3) are
we to understand the Jews to be bodies only? Are we not to understand them
to be men consisting of bodies and souls?
Orth.--And the seed of Abraham not without soul nor yet intelligence,
but with everything which characterizes the seed of Abraham?
Eran.--He who so says puts forward two sons.
Orth.--But he who says that the Divine Word is changed into the flesh
does not even acknowledge one Son, for mere flesh by itself is not a son;
but we confess one Son who took upon Him the seed of Abraham, according to
the divine apostle, and wrought the salvation of mankind. But if you do not
accept the apostolic preaching, say so openly.
Eran.--But we maintain that the utterances of the apostles are
inconsistent, for there appears to be a certain inconsistency between "the
Word was made flesh" and "took upon Him the seed of Abraham."
Orth.--It is because you lack intelligence, or because you are arguing
for arguing's sake, that the consistent seems inconsistent. It does not so
appear to men who use sound reasoning; for the divine apostle teaches that
the Divine Word was made Flesh, not by mutation, but by taking on Him the
seed of Abraham. At the same time, too, he recalls the promise given to
Abraham. Or do you not remember the promises given to the Patriarch by the
God of the Universe?
Orth.--When He brought him out of his father's house, and ordered him
to come into Palestine, did He not say to him "I will bless them that bless
thee, and curse him that curseth thee, and in thy seed(1) shall all
families of the earth be blessed"?
Eran.--I remember these promises.
Orth.--Remember, too, the covenants made by God with Isaac and Jacob,
for He gave them, too, the same promises, confirming the former by the
second and the third.
Eran.--I remember them too.
Orth.--It is in relation to these covenants that the divine apostle
writes in his Epistle to the Galatians "Now to Abraham and his seed were
the promises made." He saith not "seeds" as of many, but as of one ...
which is Christ,(2) very plainly showing that the manhood of Christ sprang
from the seed of Abraham, and fulfilled the promise made to Abraham.
Eran.--So the apostle says.
Orth.--Enough has been said to remove all the controversy raised on
this point. But I will nevertheless remind you of another prediction. The
blessing given to the Patriarch Jacob and to his father and his grand
father was given by him to his son Judah alone. He said "A Prince shall not
fail Judah, no a leader from his loins, until he shall have come to whom it
is in store, and he is the expectation of the Gentiles."(3) Or do you not
accept this prediction as spoken of the Saviour Christ?
Eran. --Jews give erroneous interpretations of prophecies of this kind,
but I am a Christian; I trust in the Divine word; and I receive the
prophecies without doubt.
Orth.--Since then you confess that you believe the prophecies and
acknowledge the predictions have been divinely uttered about our Saviour,
consider what follows as to the intention of the words of the apostle, for
while pointing out that the promises made to the patriarchs have reached
their fulfilment, he uttered those remarkable words(4) "He took not on Him
the nature of angels," all but saying the promise is true; the Lord has
fulfilled His pledges; the fount of blessing is open to the gentiles; God
had taken on Him the seed of Abraham; through it He brings about the
promised salvation; through 'it He confirms the promise of the gentiles.
Eran.--The words of the Prophet fit in admirably with those of the
Orth.--So again the divine apostle, reminding us of the blessing of
Judah, and pointing out how it received its fulfilment exclaims(1) "For it
is evident that our Lord sprang out of Judah." So too the Prophet(2) Micah
and the evangelist(3) Matthew. For the former spoke his prediction, and the
latter connects the prophecy with his narrative. What is extraordinary is
that he says that the open enemies of the truth plainly told Herod that the
Christ is born in Bethlehem, for it is written, he says, "And thou
Bethlehem in the land of Judah art not the least among the Princes of Judah
for out of thee shall come a Governor who shall rule my people Israel."(4)
Now let us subjoin what the Jews in their malignity omitted and so made the
witness imperfect. For the prophet, after saying "Out of thee shall he come
forth unto me that is to be Ruler in Israel" adds "Whose goings forth have
been of old, from everlasting."(5)
Eran.--You have done well in adducing the whole evidence of the
Prophet, for he points out that He who was born in Bethlehem was God.
Orth.--Not God only but also Man; Man as sprung from Judah after the
flesh and born in Bethlehem; and God as existing before the ages. For the
words "Out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be Ruler," shew
his birth after the flesh which has taken place in the last days; while the
words "Whose goings forth have been of old, from everlasting" plainly
proclaim His existence before the ages. In like man her also the divine
apostle in his Epistle to the Romans bewailing the change to the worse of
the ancient felicity of the Jews, and calling to mind their divine promises
and legislation, goes on to say" Whose are the fathers, and of whom
concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all God blessed for ever
Amen."(6) and in this same passage he exhibits Him both as Creator of all
things and Lord and Ruler as God and as sprung from the Jews as man.
Eran.--Well; you have explained these passages, what should you say to
the prophecy of Jeremiah? For this proclaims him to be God only.
Orth.--Of what prophecy do you speak?
Eran.--"This is our God and there shall none other be accounted of in
comparison to him--he hath found out all the way of knowledge, and hath
given it unto Jacob his servant and to Israel his beloved. Afterward did he
shew himself upon earth and conversed with men."(1)
In these words the Prophet speaks neither of the flesh, nor of manhood,
nor of man, but of God alone.
Orth.--What then is the good of reasoning? Do we say that the Divine
nature is invisible? or do we dissent from the Apostle when he says(2)
"Immortal, invisible, the only God."
Eran.--Indubitably the Divine nature is invisible.
Orth.--How then was it possible for the invisible nature to be seen
without a body? Or do you not remember those words of the apostle in which
he distinctly teaches the invisibility of the divine nature? He says "Whom
no man hath seen nor can see."(3) If therefore the Divine Nature is
invisible to men, and I will add too to Angels, tell me how he who cannot
be seen or beheld was seen upon earth?
Eran.--The Prophet says(4) he was seen on the earth,
Orth.--And the apostle says(5) "Immortal, invisible, the only God"
and(6) "Whom no man hath seen and can see."
Eran.--What then? is the Prophet lying?
Orth.--God forbid. Both utterances are the words of the Holy Ghost.
Eran.--Let us inquire then how the invisible was seen.
Orth.--Do not, I beg you, bring in human reason. I shall yield to
Eran.--You shall receive no argument unconfirmed by Holy Scripture, and
if you bring me any solution of the question deduced from Holy Scripture I
will receive it, and will in no wise gainsay it.
Orth.--You know how a moment ago we made the word of the evangelist
clear by means of the testimony of the apostle; and that the divine
apostle showed us how the Word became Flesh, saying plainly "for verily He
took not on Him the nature of angels but He took on Him the seed of
Abraham."(1) The same teacher will teach us how the divine Word was seen
upon the earth and dwelt among men.
Eran.--I submit to the words both of apostles and of prophets. Shew me
then in accordance with your promise the interpretation of the prophecy.
Orth.--The divine apostle, writing to Timothy, also says "without
controversy great is the mystery of godliness. God was manifest in the
flesh, justified in the spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles
believed on in the world, received up into glory."(2)
It is therefore plain that the divine nature is invisible, but the
flesh visible, and that through the visible the invisible was seen, by its
means working wonders and unveiling its own power, for with the hand He
fashioned the sense of seeing and healed him that was blind from birth.
Again He gave the power of hearing to the deaf, and loosed the fettered
tongue, using his fingers for a tool ant applying his spittle like some
healing medicine. So again when He walked upon the sea He displayed the
almighty power of the Godhead. Fitly, therefore, did the apostle say" God
was manifest in the flesh." For through it appeared the invisible nature
beheld by its means by the angel hosts, for "He was seen," he says, "of
The nature then of bodiless beings has shared with us the enjoyment of
Eran.--Then did not the angels see God before the manifestation of the
Orth.--The apostle says that He "was made manifest. in the flesh and
seen of angels."
Eran.--But the Lord said, "Take heed that ye despise not one of these
little ones, for I say unto you that their angels do always behold the face
of my Father which is in heaven."(3)
Orth.--But the Lord said again, "Not that any man hath seen the Father
save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father."(1) Wherefore the
evangelist plainly exclaims, "No man hath seen God at any time,"(2) and
confirms the word of the Lord, for he says, "The only begotten Son which is
in the bosom of the Father He hath declared Him," and the great Moses, when
he desired to see the invisible nature, heard the Lord God saying, "There
shall no man see me and live."(3)
Eran.--How then are we to understand the words, "Their angels do always
behold the face of my Father which is in heaven"?
Orth.--Just as we commonly understand what is said about men who have
been supposed to see God.
Eran.--Pray make this plainer, for I do not understand. Can God be seen
of men also?
Eran.--Yet we hear the divine scripture saying God appeared unto
Abraham at the oak of Mamre;(4) and Isaiah says "I saw the Lord sitting
upon a throne high and lifted up,"(5) and the same thing is said by Micah,
by Daniel and Ezekiel. And of the lawgiver Moses it is related that "The
Lord spake to Moses face to face as a man speaketh unto his friend,"(6) and
the God of the universe Himself said, "With him will I speak mouth to
mouth, even apparently and not in dark speeches."(7) What then shall we
say; did they behold the divine nature?
Orth.--By no means, for God Himself said, "There shall no man see me
Eran.--Then they who say that they have seen God are liars?
Orth.--God forbid--they saw what it was possible for them to see.
Eran.--Then the loving Lord accommodates his revelation to the capacity
of them that see Him?
Orth.--Yes; and this He has shewn through the Prophet, "for I," He
says, "have multiplied visions and by the hands of the Prophets was made
He does not say "was seen" but "was made like." And making like does
not shew the very nature of the thing seen. For even the image of the
emperor does not exhibit the emperor's nature, though it distinctly
preserves his features.
Eran.--This is obscure and not sufficiently plain. Was not then the
substance of God seen by them who beheld those revelations?
Orth.--No; for who is mad enough to dare to say so?
Eran.--But yet it is said that they saw.
Orth.--Yes; it is said; but we both in the exercise of reverent reason,
and in reliance on the Divine utterances, which exclaim distinctly, "No man
hath seen God at any time," affirm that they did not see the Divine Nature,
but certain visions adapted to their capacity.
Eran.--So we say.
Orth.--So also then let us understand of the angels when we hear that
they daily see the face of your Father.(1) For what they see is not the
divine substance which cannot be circumscribed, comprehended, or
apprehended, which embraces the universe, but some glory made commensurate
with their nature.
Eran.--This is acknowledged.
Orth.--After the incarnation, however, He was seen also of angels, as
the divine apostle says, not however by similitude of glory, but using the
true and living covering of the flesh as a kind of screen. "God," he says,
"was made manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of
Eran.--I accept this as Scripture, but I am not prepared to accept the
novelties of phrase.
Orth.--What novelties of phrase have we introduced?
Eran.--That of the "screen." What Scripture calls the flesh of the Lord
Orth.--You do not seem to be a very diligent reader of your Bible; if
you had been you would not have found fault with what we have said as in a
figure. For first of all the fact that the divine apostle says that the
invisible nature was made manifest through the flesh allows us to
understand the flesh as a screen of the Godhead. Secondly, the divine
apostle in his Epistle to the Hebrews, distinctly uses the phrase, for he
says, "Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the Holiest by
the blood of Jesus by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for
us, through the veil, that is to say his flesh; and having an High Priest
over the House of God. Coming with truth drawing near with a true heart in
fulness of faith."(3)
Eran.--Your demonstration is unanswerable, for it is based on apostolic
Orth.--Do not then charge us with innovation. We will adduce for you
yet another prophetic authority, distinctly calling the Lord's flesh a robe
Eran.--Should it not appear obscure and ambiguous we will say nothing
against it, and be thankful for it.
Orth.--I will make yon yourself testify to the truth of the promise.
You know how the Patriarch Jacob, when be was addressing Judah, limited the
sovereignty of Judah by the birth of the Lord.(1) "A prince shall not fail
Judah, nor a leader from his loins until he shall have come to whom it is
in store and he is the expectation of the Gentiles." You have already
confessed that this prophecy was uttered about the saviour.
Orth.--Remember then what follows; for he says "And unto him shall the
gathering of the people be ... he shall wash his robe in wine and his
mantle in the blood of the grape."(2)
Eran.--The Patriarch spoke of garments, not of a body.
Orth.--Tell me, them when or where be washed his cloak in the blood of
Eran.--Nay; tell me you when he reddened his body in it?
Orth.--Answer I beseech you more reverently.(3) Perhaps some of the
uninitiated are within hearing.
Eran.--I will both hear and answer in mystic language.
Orth.--You know that the Lord called himself a vine?
Eran.--Yes I know that he said "I am the true vine."(4)
Orth.--Now what is the fruit of a vine called after it is pressed?
Eran.--It is called wine.
Orth.--When the soldiers wounded the Saviour's side with the spear,
what did the evangelist say was poured out from it?
Eran.--Blood and water.(5)
Orth.--Well, then; he called the Saviour's blood blood of the grape,
for if the Lord is called a vine, and the fruit of the vine wine, and from
the Lord's side streams of blood and water flowed downwards over the rest
of his body, fitly and appropriately the Patriarch foretells "He shall wash
his robe in wine and his mantle in blood of the grape." For as we after the
consecration call the mystic fruit of the vine the Lord's blood, so be
called the blood of the true vine blood of the grape.
Eran.--The point before us has been set forth in language at once
mystical and clear.
Orth.--Although what has been said is enough for your faith, I will,
for confirmation of the faith, give you yet another proof.
Eran.--I shall be grateful to you for so doing, for you will increase
the favour done me.
Orth.--You know how God called His own body bread?
Orth.--And how in another place be called His flesh corn?
Eran.--Yes, I know. For I have heard Him saying "The hour is come that
the Son of man should be glorified,"(1) and "Except a corn of wheat fall
into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die it bringeth forth
Orth.--Yes; and in the giving of the mysteries He called the bread,
body, and what had been mixed, blood.
Eran.--He so did.
Orth.--Yet naturally the body would properly be calledbody, and the
Orth.--But our Saviour changed the names, and to His body gave the name
of the symbol and to the symbol that of his body. So, after calling himself
a vine, he spoke of the symbol as blood.
Eran.-- True. But I am desirous of knowing the reason of the change of
Orth. --To them that are initiated in divine things the intention is
plain. For be wished the partakers in the divine mysteries not to give heed
to the nature of the visible objects, but, by means of the variation of the
names, to believe the change wrought of grace. For He, we know, who spoke
of his natural body as corn and bread, and, again, called Himself a vine,
dignified the visible symbols by the appellation of the body and blood, not
because He had changed their nature, but because to their nature He had
Eran.--The mysteries are spoken of in mystic language, and there is a
clear declaration of that which is not known to all.
Orth.--Since then it is agreed that the body of the Lord is called by
the patriarch "robe" and "mantle"(1) and we have reached the discussion of
the divine mysteries, tell me truly, of what do you understand the Holy
Food to be a symbol and type? Of the godhead of the Lord Christ, or of His
body and His blood?
Eran.--Plainly of those things of which they received the names.
Orth.--You mean of the body and of the blood?
Orth.--You have spoken as a lover of truth should speak, for when the
Lord had taken the symbol, He did not say "this is my godhead," but "this
is my body;" and again "this is my blood"(2) and in another place "the
bread that I will give is my flesh which I will give for the life of the
Eran.--These words are true, for they are the divine oracles.
Orth.--If then they are true, I suppose the Lord had a body.
Eran.--No; for I maintain him to be bodiless.
Orth.--But you confess that He had a body?
Eran.--I say that the Word was made flesh, for so I have been taught.
Orth.--It seems, as the proverb has it, as if we are drawing water in a
pail with a hole in it.(4) For after all our demonstrations and solutions
of difficulties, you are bringing the same arguments round again.
Eran.--I am not giving you my arguments, but those of the gospels.
Orth.--And have I not given you the interpretation of the words of the
gospels from those of prophets and apostles?
Eran.--They do not serve to clear up the point at issue.
Orth.--And yet we shewed how, being invisible, He was made manifest
through flesh, and the relationship of this very flesh we bare been taught
by the sacred writers--"He took on Him the seed of Abraham."(5) And the
Lord God said to the patriarch, "in thy seed shall all the nations of the
earth be blessed,"(6) and the apostle, "It is evident our Lord sprang out
of Judah."(7) We adduced further several similar testimonies; but, since
you are desirous of hearing yet others, listen to the apostle when he says,
"For every high priest taken from among men is ordained that he may offer
both gifts and sacrifices, wherefore it is of necessity that this man have
somewhat also to offer."(8)
Eran.--Point out, then, bow He offered after taking a body.
Orth.--The divine apostle himself clearly teaches in the very passage,
for after a few words he says: "Wherefore, when He cometh into the world,
He saith, sacrifice and offering thou wouldst not, but a body hast thou
prepared me."(1) He does not say "into a body hast thou changed," but "a
body hast thou prepared," and he shows plainly that the formation of the
body was wrought by the Spirit in accordance with the utterance of the
gospel, "Fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife; for that which is
generated in her is of the Holy Ghost."(2)
Eran.--The virgin then gave birth only to a body?
Orth.--It appears that you do not even understand the composition of
words, much less their meaning, for he is teaching Joseph the manner, not
of the generation, but of the conception. For he does not say that which is
generated of her, i.e. made, or formed, is of the Holy Ghost. Joseph,
ignorant of the mystery, was suspicions of adultery; he was therefore
plainly taught the formation by the Spirit. It is this which He signified
through the prophet when He said "A body hast thou prepared me"(3) for the
divine Apostle being full of the Spirit interpreted the prediction. If then
the offering of gifts is the special function of priests and Christ in His
humanity was called priest and offered no other sacrifice save(4) His own
body, then the Lord Christ had a body.
Eran.--This even I have repeatedly affirmed, and I do not say that the
divine Word appeared without a body. What I maintain is not that He took a
body but that He was made flesh.
Orth.--So far as I see our contest lies with the supporters of
Valentinus, of Marcion, and of Manes; but even they never had the hardihood
to say that the immutable nature underwent mutation into flesh.
Eran.--Reviling is unchristian.
Orth.--We do not revile, but we are fighting for truth, and we are
vexed at your arguing about the indisputable as though it could be
disputed. However, I will endeavour to put an end to your ungracious
contention. Answer now; do yon remember thepromises which God made to
Orth.--Those which the prophet inserted in the 88th Psalm.
Eran.--I know that many promises were made to David. Which are you
enquiring about now?
Orth.--Those which refer to the Lord Christ.
Eran.--Recall the utterances yourself, for you promised to adduce your
Orth.--Listen now how the prophet praises God at the very beginning of
the Psalm. He saw with his prophetic eyes the future iniquity of his
people, and the captivity that was in consequence foredoomed; yet he
praised his own Lord for unfailing promises. "I will sing," he says, "of
the mercies of the Lord forever, with my mouth will I make known Thy
faithfulness to all generations, for thou hast said, Mercy shall be built
up for ever, Thy faithfulness shalt Thou establish in the very heavens."(1)
Through all this the prophet teaches that the promise was made by God
on account of lovingkindness, and that the promise is faithful. Then he
goes on to say what He promised, and to whom, introducing God Himself as
the speaker. ("I have made a covenant with my chosen."(2)) It is the
Patriarchs that He called chosen; then He goes on "I have sworn unto David
my servant,"(3) and He states concerning what He swore, "Thy seed will I
establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations."(4)
Now whom do you suppose to be called the seed of David?
Eran.--The promise was made about Solomon.
Orth.--Then he made his covenant with the Patriarchs about Solomon, for
before what was said about David he mentioned the promises made to the
Patriarchs "I have made a covenant with my chosen," and He promised the
Patriarchs that in their seed He would bless all nations. Kindly point out
how the nations were blessed through Solomon.
Eran.--Then God fulfilled this promise, not by means of Solomon, but of
Orth.--So then our Lord Christ gave the fulfilment to the promises made
Eran.--I hold that these promises were made by God, either about
Solomon, or about Zerubbabel.
Orth.--Just now you used the arguments of Marcion and Valentinus and of
Manes. Now you have gone over to the directly opposite faction, and are
advocating the impudence of the Jews. This is just like all those who turn
out of a straight road; they err and stray first one way and then another,
wandering in a wilderness.
Eran.--Revilers are excluded by the Apostle from the kingdom.(1)
Orth.--Yes, if their revilings are vain. Sometimes the divine Apostle
himself opportunely uses this mode of speech. He calls the Galatians
"foolish,"(2) and of others he says "men of corrupt minds, reprobate
concerning the faith,"(3) and again of another set, "Whose God is their
belly, whose glory is in their shame,"(4) and so forth.
Eran.--What occasion did I give you for reviling?
Orth.--Do you really not think that the willing advocacy of the
declared enemies of the truth furnishes the pious with very reasonable
ground of indignation?
Eran.--And what enemies of the truth have I patronized?
Orth.--Jews connect prophecies of this kind with Solomon and
Zerubbabel, in order to exhibit the groundlessness of the Christian
position; but the mere words are quite enough to convict them of their
iniquity, for it is written "I will establish my throne for ever."(5) Now
not only Solomon and Zerubbabel, to whom such prophecies are applied by the
Jews, have lived out their appointed time, and reached the end of life, but
the whole race of David has become extinct; for who ever heard of any one
at the present day descended from the root of David?
Eran.--But are not, then, those who are called Patriarchs of the Jews
of the family of David?
Eran.--Whence, then, are they sprung?
Orth.--From the foreigner Herod, who, on his father's side, was an
Ascalonite, and on his mother's an Idumaean;(1) but they, too, have all
disappeared, and many years have gone by since their sovereignty came to an
end. But our Lord God promised not only to maintain the seed of David for
ever, but to establish his kingdom undestroyed; for He said, "I will build
up my throne to all generations."
But we see that his race is gone, and his kingdom come to an end. Yet
though we see this, we know that the God of the Universe is true.
Eran.--That God is true is plain.
Orth.--If, then, God is true, as in truth He is, and promised David
that He would establish His race for ever, and keep his kingdom through all
time, and it neither race nor kingdom are to be seen, for both have come to
an end, how can we convince our opponents that God is true?
Eran.--I suppose, then, the prophecy really points to the Lord Christ.
Orth.--If, then, you confess this, let us investigate together a
passage in the middle of the Psalm; we shall then more clearly see what the
Eran.--Lead on; I will religiously follow in your footsteps.
Orth.--After making many promises about this seed that it should be
Lord both by sea and land(2) and higher than the kings of the earth and be
called the first begotten of God,(3) and should boldly call God, Father(4)
God also added this, "My mercy will I keep for him for evermore and my
covenant shall stand fast with him. His seed also will I make to endure for
ever and his throne as the days of heaven."(5)
Eran.--The promise goes beyond the bounds of human nature, for both the
life and the honour are indestructible and eternal. But men endure but for
a season; their-nature is short lived and their kingdom even during its
lifetime undergoes many and various vicissitudes, so that truly the
greatness of the prophecy befits none but the Saviour Christ.
Orth.--Go on then to what follows and your opinion upon this point will
be in every way confirmed, for again saith the God of the universe, "Once
have I sworn by my holiness, if I lie unto David, his seed shall endure for
ever and his throne as the sun before me. It shall be established for ever
as the moon."(1)
Then, pointing out the truth of the promise He adds, "And the witness
is faithful in heaven."
Eran.--We must believe without doubt in the promises given by the
faithful witness, for, if we are wont to believe men who have promised to
speak the truth even if they do not confirm their words with an oath, who
can be so mad as to disbelieve the Creator of the Universe, when He adds an
oath to his words? For He who forbids others to swear confirmed the
immutability of his counsel by an oath,(2) "that by two immutable things in
which it was impossible for God to lie we might have a strong consolation
who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us."(3)
Orth.--If then the promise is irrefragable, and among the Jews there is
now neither family nor kingdom of the prophet David to be seen, let us
believe that our Lord Jesus Christ is plainly called seed of David in His
humanity, for of Him the life and the kingdom are both alike eternal.
Eran.--We have no doubt; and this I own to be the truth.
Orth.--These proofs then are sufficient to show clearly the manhood
which our Lord and Saviour took of David's seed. But to remove all
possibility of doubt by the witness of the majority, let us hear how God
makes mention of the promises given to David through the voice of the
prophet Isaiah. "I will make," he says, "an everlasting covenant with you,"
and, signifying the law-giver, he adds, "even the sure mercies of
Since He made this promise to David, and spoke through Esaias, He will
assuredly bring the promise to pass. And what follows after the prophecy is
in harmony with what I say, for he saith "Behold I have given him for a
witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people. Behold nations
that know thee not shall call upon thee, and peoples that understand thee
not shall run unto thee."(5) Now this fits in with none that are sprung
from David, for who of David's descendants, as Esaias says, was made a
ruler of nations? And what nations in their prayers ever called on David's
descendants as God?
Eran.--About what is perfectly clear it is unbecoming to dispute, and
this plainly refers to the Lord Christ.
Orth.--Then let us pass on to another prophetic testimony and let us
hear the same prophet saying "There shall come forth a rod out of the stem
of Jesse and a branch shall grow out of his roots."(1)
Eran.--I think this prophecy was delivered about Zerubbabel.
Orth.--If yon hear what follows, you will not remain in your opinion.
The Jews have never so understood this prediction, for the prophet goes on,
"and the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and
understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and
the fear of the Lord."(2) This would never be attributed by any one to a
mere man, for even to the very holy the gifts of the Spirit are given by
division, as the divine apostle witnesses when he says, "To one is given by
the Spirit the word of wisdom, to another the word of knowledge by the same
Spirit,"(3) and so on. The prophet describes Him who sprang from the root
of Jesse as possessing all the powers of the spirit.
Eran.--To gainsay this were sheer folly.
Orth.--Now hear what follows. You will see some things that transcend
human nature, he goes on. "He shall not judge after the sight of His eyes,
neither reprove after the hearing of His ears, but with righteousness shall
He judge the poor, and reprove with equity the mighty(4) of the earth. and
He shall smite the earth with the word of His mouth, and with the breath of
His lips shall he slay the wicked."(5) Now of these predictions some are
human and some divine. Justice, truth, equity, and rectitude in giving
judgment exhibit virtue in human nature.
Eran.--We have so far clearly learned that the prophet predicts the
coming of our Saviour Christ.
Orth.--The sequel will shew you yet more plainly the truth of the
interpretation. For he goes on, "The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,"(6)
and so on, whereby he teaches at once the distinction of modes of life and
the harmony of faith; and experience furnishes a proof of the prediction,
for they that abound in wealth, they that live in poverty, servants and
masters, rulers and ruled, soldiers and citizens and they that wield the
sceptre of the world are received in one font, are all taught one doctrine,
are all admitted to one mystic table, and each of the believers enjoys an
Eran.--It is thus shewn that God is spoken of.
Orth.--Not only God but man. So at the very beginning of this
prediction he says that a rod shall grow out of the root of Jesse. Then at
the conclusion of the prediction he takes up once more the strain with
which he began, for he says "There shall be a root of Jesse which shall
stand for an ensign of the people, to it shall the Gentiles seek and his
rest shall be glorious."(1) Now Jesse was the father of David, and the
promise with an oath was made to David. The prophet would not have spoken
of the Lord Christ as a rod growing out of Jesse if he had only known Him
as God. The prediction also foretold the change of the world, for "the
earth" he says "shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters
cover the sea."(2)
Eran.--I have heard the prophetic utterances. But I was anxious to know
clearly if the divine company of the apostles also says that the Lord
Christ sprang from the seed of David according to the flesh.
Orth.--You have asked for information which so far from being hard is
exceedingly easy to give you. Only listen to the first of the apostles
exclaiming "David being a prophet and knowing that God had sworn an oath to
him that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, He would raise
up Christ to sit upon His throne; he seeing this before spake of the
resurrection of Christ, that His sold was not left in hell neither His
flesh did see corruption."(3)
Hence you may perceive that of the seed of David according to the
flesh sprang the Lord Christ, and had not flesh only but also a soul.
Eran.--What other apostle preached this?
Orth.--The great Peter alone was sufficient to testify to the truth,
for the Lord after receiving the confession of the truth given by Peter
alone confirmed it by a memorable approval. But since volt are anxious to
hear others proclaiming this same thing, hear Paul and Barnabas preaching
in Antioch in Pisidia; for they, when they had made mention of David,
continued "Of this man's seed hath God according to his promise raised unto
Israel a Saviour, Jesus."(4) and so on. And in a letter to Timothy the
divine Paul says "Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was
raised from the dead according to my gospel."(5) And, when writing to the
Romans, at the very outset he calls attention to the Davidic kin, for he
says "Paul a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated
unto the gospel of God which He had promised before by his prophets in the
holy scriptures concerning His Son which was made of the seed of David
according to the flesh,"(1) and so on.
Eran.--Your proofs are numerous and convincing; but tell me why you
have omitted what follows?
Orth.--Because it is not about the Godhead, but about the manhood, that
you are in difficulties. Had you been in doubt about the Godhead, I would
have given you proof of it. It is enough to say "according to the Flesh" to
declare the Godhead which is not expressed in terms. When speaking of a
relationship of man in general I do not say the son of such an one
"according to the flesh," but simply "son," so the divine Evangelist
writing his genealogy says "Abraham begat Isaac"(2) and does not add
according to the flesh, for Isaac was merely man, and he mentions the rest
in like manner, for they were men and had no qualities transcending their
nature. But when the heralds of the truth are discoursing of our Lord
Christ, and are pointing out to the ignorant His lower relation, they add
the words "according to the flesh," thus indicating His Godhead and
teaching that the Lord Christ was not only man but also Eternal God.
Eran.--You have adduced many proofs from the apostles and prophets, but
I follow the words of the Evangelist "The Word was made Flesh."(3)
Orth.--I also follow this divine teaching, but I understand it in a
pious sense, as meaning that He was made Flesh by taking flesh and a
reasonable soul. But if the divine Word took nothing of our nature, then
the covenants made with the patriarchs by the God of all with oaths were
not true, and the blessing of Judah was vain, and the promise to David was
false, and the Virgin was superfluous, because she did not contribute
anything of our nature to the Incarnate God. Then the predictions of the
prophets have no fulfilment. Then vain is our preaching, vain our faith and
vain the hope of the resurrection(4) for the Apostle, it appears, lies when
he says "and hath raised us up together and made us sit together in
heavenly places in Christ Jesus."(5) For if the Lord Christ had nothing of
our nature then He is falsely described as our first fruits, and His
bodily nature has not risen from the dead and has not taken the seat in
Heaven on the right hand; and if He has obtained none of these things, how
hath God raised us up together and made us sit together with Christ, when
we in no wise belong to Him in Nature? But it is impious to say this, for
the divine apostle, though the general resurrection has not yet taken
place, though the kingdom of heaven has not vet been bestowed upon the
faithful, exclaims, "He hath raised us up together and made us sit together
in heavenly places in Christ Jesus," in order to teach that since the
resurrection of our first fruits, and His sitting on the right hand has
come to pass, we too in general shall attain the resurrection, and that all
they who share in His nature and have adopted His faith, share too in the
first fruits of His glory.
Eran.--We have gone through many and sound arguments, but I was anxious
to know the force of the Gospel saying.
Orth.--You stand in need of no interpretation from without. The
evangelist himself interprets himself. For after saying "the Word was made
flesh," he goes on "and dwelt among us."(1) That is to say by dwelling in
us, and using the flesh taken from us as a kind of temple, He is said to
have been made flesh, and, teaching that He remained unchanged, the
evangelist adds "and we beheld His glory--the glory as of the only begotten
of the Father, full of grace and truth."(2) For though clad with flesh He
exhibited His Father's nobility, shot forth the beams of the Godhead, and
emitted the radiance of the power of the Lord, revealing by His works of
wonder His hidden nature. A similar illustration is afforded by the words
of the divine apostle to the Philippians: "Let this mind be in you which
was also in Christ Jesus, who being in the form of God thought it not
robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation and took
upon Him the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of men, and
being found in fashion as a man he humbled Himself and became obedient unto
death even the death of the cross."(3)
Look at the relation of the utterances. The evangelist says "the Word
was made flesh and dwelt among us," the apostle, "took upon him the form of
a servant; "the evangelist "We beheld His glory, the glory as of the only
begotten of the Father"--the apostle, "who being in the form of God thought
it not robbery to be equal with God." To put the matter briefly, both teach
that being God and son of God, and clad with His Father's glory, and having
the same nature and power with Him that begat Him, He that was in the
beginning and was with God, and was God, and was Creator of the world, took
upon Him the form of a servant, and it seemed that this was all which was
seen; but it was God clad in human nature, and working out the salvation of
men. This is what was meant by "The word was made flesh" and "was made in
the likeness of men and being found in fashion as a man." This is all that
was looked at by the Jews, and therefore they said to him "For a good work
we stone Thee not but for blasphemy and because that Thou being a man
makest Thyself God,"(1) and again "This man is not of God because He
keepeth not the Sabbath Day."(2)
Eran.--The Jews were blind on account of their unbelief, and therefore
used these words.
Orth.--If you find even the apostles before the resurrection thus
saying, will you receive the interpretation? I hear them in the boat, after
the mighty miracle of the calm, saying "what manner of man is this, that
even the winds and the sea obey Him?"(3)
Eran.--This is made plain. But now tell me this;--the divine apostle
says that He "was made in the likeness of man."
Orth.--What was taken of him was not man's likeness, but man's nature.
For "form of a servant" is understood just as "the form of God" is
understood to mean God's nature. He took this, and so was made in the
likeness of man, and was found in fashion as a man. For, being God, He
seemed to be man, on account of the nature which He took. The evangelist,
however, speaks of His being made in the likeness of man as His being made
flesh. But that yon may know that they who deny the flesh of the Saviour
are of the opposite spirit, hear the great John in his Catholic Epistle
saying "Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh
is of God, and every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ is come in
the flesh is not of God, and this is that spirit of Anti-Christ."(4)
Eran.--You have given a plausible interpretation, but I was anxious to
know how the old teachers of the Church have understood the passage "the
word was made flesh."
Orth.--You ought to have been persuaded by the apostolic and prophetic
proofs; but since you require further the interpretations of the holy
Fathers I will also furnish you, God helping me, this medicine.
Eran.--Do not bring me men of obscure position or doubtful doctrine. I
shall not receive the interpretation of such as these.
Orth.--Does the far famed Athanasius, brightest light of the church of
Alexandria, seem to you to be worthy of credit?
Eran.--Certainly, for he ratified his teaching by the suffering he
underwent for the Truth's sake.
Orth.--Hear then how he wrote to Epictetus.(1) "The expression of John
'the Word was made flesh' has this interpretation, so far as can be
discovered from the similar passage which we find in St. Paul 'Christ was
made a curse for us.'(2) It is not because He was made a curse but because
He received the curse on our behalf that He is said to have been made a
curse, and so it is not because He was turned into flesh, but because He
took flesh on our behalf, that He is said to have been made flesh." So far
the divine Athanasius. Gregory, too, whose glory among all men is great,
who formerly ruled the Imperial city at the mouth of the Bosphorus and
afterwards dwelt at Nazianzus, thus wrote to Cledonius against the specious
fallacies of Apollinarius.
Eran.--He was an illustrious man and a foremost fighter in the cause of
Orth.--Hear him then. He says(3) "the expression 'He was made Flesh'
seems to be parallel to His being said to have been made sin and a
curse,(4) not because the Lord was transmuted into these,--for how could
He?--but because He accepted these when He took on Him our iniquities and
bore our infirmities."(5)
Eran.--The two interpretations agree. Orth.--We have shown you the
pastors of the south and north in harmony; now then let us introduce too
the illustrious teachers of the west, who have written their
interpretation, if with another tongue, yet with one and the same mind.
Eran.--I am told that Ambrosius, who adorned the episcopal throne at
Milan, fought in the first ranks against all heresy, and wrote works of
great beauty and in agreement with the teaching of the apostles.
Orth.--I will give you his interpretation. Ambrosius says in his work
concerning the faith "It is written that the Word was made flesh. I do not
deny that it is written, but look at the terms used; for there follows 'and
dwelt among us.' that is to say dwelt in human flesh. Yon are therefore
astonished at the terms in which it is written that the Word was made
flesh, on the assumption of flesh, by the divine Word, when also concerning
sin which He had not, it is said that He was made sin, that is to say not
that He was made the nature and operation of sin, but that he might crucify
our sin in the flesh; let them then give over asserting that the nature of
the Word has undergone change and alteration, for He who took is one and
that which was taken other."(1)
It is now fitting that you should hear the teachers of the east, this
being the only quarter of the world which we have hitherto left unnoticed,
though they indeed might well have first witnessed to the truth, for to
them was first imparted the teaching of the apostles. But since you have
sharpened your tongues against the first-born sons of piety by whetting
them on the hone of falsehood, we have reserved for them the last place,
that after first hearing the rest, you might lay witness by the side of
witness, and so at once admire their harmony, and cease from your own
interminable talk. Listen then to Flavianus who for a long time right
wisely moved the tiller of the church of Antioch, and made the churches
which he guided ride safe over the Arian storm, by expounding to them the
word of the gospel. "The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us; He is not
turned into flesh, nor yet did he cease from being God, for this he was
from all eternity and became flesh in the dispensation of the
incarnation(2) after himself building his own temple, and taking up his
abode in the passible creature." And if you desire to hear the ancients of
Palestine, lend your ears to the admirable Gelasius, who did diligent
husbandry in the church of Caesarea. Now these are his words in his homily
on the festival of the Lord's epiphany.(3) "Learn the truth from the words
of John the Fisherman, 'And the word was made flesh,' not having himself
undergone change, but having taken up his abode with us. The dwelling is
one thing; the Word is another; the temple is one thing, and God who dwells
in it, another."
Eran.--I am much struck by the agreement.
Orth.--Now do you not suppose that the rule of the apostolic faith was
kept by John, who first nobly watered the field of the church of the
Antiochenes, and then was a wise husbandman of that of the imperial city?
Eran.--I hold this teacher to be in all respects an admirable one.
Orth.--Well, this most excellent man has interpreted this passage of
the Gospel. He writes,(1) "When you hear that the Word was made flesh, be
not startled or cast down, for the substance did not deteriorate into
flesh--an idea of the uttermost impiety--but continuing to be just what it
is, so took the form of a servant. For just as when the apostle says
'Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for
us,'(2) he does not say that the substance of Christ departed from His own
glory, and took the substance of a curse, a position which not even devils
would imagine, nor the utterly senseless, and the naturally idiotic--so
remarkable being the connection between impiety and insanity. But what he
does assert is that after receiving the curse due to us, He does not suffer
us to be cursed for the future. It is in this sense that He is stated to
have been made flesh, not because he had changed the substance into flesh,
but because he had assumed the flesh, the substance remaining all the while
You may like to bear also Severianus, Bishop of Gabala.(4) If so, I
will adduce his testimony and do you lend your ears.
"The text 'the Word was made flesh' does not indicate a deterioration
of nature but the assumption of our nature. Suppose you take the word 'was
made' to indicate a change; then when you hear Paul saying 'Christ hath
redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us,' do you
understand him to mean a change into the nature of a curse? Just as being
made a curse had no other meaning than that He took our curse upon Himself.
so the words was made flesh and dwelt among us mean nothing other than the
assumption of flesh."
Eran.--I admire the exact agreement(1) of these men. For they are as
unanimous in giving the same interpretations of evangelical writings as if
they had met in the same place and written down their opinion together.
Orth.--Mountains and seas separate them very far from one another, yet
distance does not damage their harmony, for they were all inspired by the
same gift of the spirit. I would also have offered you the interpretations
of the victorious champions of piety Diodorus and Theodorus, had I not seen
that you were ill disposed towards them, and had inherited the hostility of
Apollinarius; you would have seen that they have expressed similar
experiences, drawing water from the divine Fount, and becoming themselves
too, streams of the spirit. But I will pass them by, for you have declared
a truceless war against them. I will, however, shew you the famous teacher
of the Church, and his mind about the divine incarnation, that you may know
what opinion he held concerning the assumed nature. You have no doubt heard
of the illustrious Ignatius, who received episcopal grace by the hand of
the great Peter,(2) and after ruling the church of Antioch, wore the crown
of martyrdom. You have heard too of Irenaeus, who enjoyed the teaching of
Polycarp, and became a light of the western Gauls;--of Hippolytus and
Methodius, bishops and martyrs, and the rest, whose names I will append to
their expressions of opinion.
Eran.--I am exceedingly desirous of hearing their testimony, too.
Orth.--Hear them now bringing forward the apostolic teaching. Testimony
of Saint Ignatius, bishop of Antioch, and martyr,
From the letter to the Smyrnaeans (I.):--
"Having a full conviction with respect to our Lord as being truly
descended from David according to the flesh, son of God according to
Godhead(1) and power, born really of a virgin, baptized by John that all
righteousness might be fulfilled(2) by Him, really in the thee of Pontius
Pilate and of Herod the tetrarch crucified for our sake in the flesh."(3)
Of the same in the same epistle:--
"For what advantageth it me if a man praises me but blasphemes my Lord,
in not confessing him to be a bearer of flesh? but he who does not make
this confession really denies Him and is himself bearer of a corpse."(4)
Of the saint from the same epistle:--
"For if these things were done by our Lord in appearance only, then it
is in appearance only that I am a prisoner in chains; and why have I
delivered myself to death, to fire, to sword, to the beasts? But he who is
near to the sword is near to God.(5) Only in the name of Jesus Christ that
I may share his sufferings I endure all things while He, Perfect Man whom
some in their ignorance deny, gives me strength."(6)
From the same in the letter to the Ephesians:--
"For our God Jesus Christ was born in Mary's womb by dispensation of
God of the seed of David(7) and of the Holy Ghost who was born and was
baptized that our mortality might be purified."(8)
From the same epistle:--
"If ye all individually come together by grace name by name in out
faith, and in one Jesus Christ according to the flesh of David's race Son
of God and Son of man.(9)
Of the same from the same epistle:--
"There is one Physician of flesh and of spirit generate and ingenerate,
God in man, true life in death, Son of Mary and of God, first passible and
then impassible, Jesus Christ our Lord."(10)
Lastly of the same in his epistle to the Trallians:--
"Be ye made deaf therefore when any man speaks to you apart from Jesus
Christ, who was of David's race and of Mary, who was really born and really
ate and drank and was persecuted in the thee of Pontius Pilate, was
crucified and died, while beings on earth and beings in heaven and beings
under the earth were looking on."(1)
Testimony of Irenaeus bishop of Lyons, from his third book Against the
"Why then did they add the words 'In the city of David,(2) save to
proclaim the good news that the promise made by God to David, that of the
fruit of his loins should come an everlasting king, was fulfilled; a
promise which indeed the Creator of the world had made."(3)
Of the same from the same book:--
"And when he says ' Hear ye now, Oh House of David'(4) he means that
the everlasting King whom God promised to David that he would raise up from
his body is He who was born of David's Virgin."
Of the same from the same book:--
"If then the first Adam had had a human father and had been begotten of
seed, it would have been reasonable to say that the second Adam had been
begotten of Joseph. But if the former was taken from earth, and his creator
was God, it was necessary also that He who renews in himself the man
created by God should have the same likeness of generation with that
former. Why then did not God again take dust? Why did he on the other hand
ordain that the formation should be made of Mary? That there might be no
other creation; that that which was being saved might be no other thing;
but that the former might himself be renewed without loss of the likeness.
For then do they too fall away who allege that He took nothing from the
Virgin, that they may repudiate the inheritance of the flesh and cast off
Of the same from the same book:--
"Since his going down into Mary is useless; for why went He down into
her if He was designed to take nothing from her? And further, if He had
taken nothing from Mary He would not have accepted the food taken from
earth whereby is nourished the body taken from earth, nor would He like
Moses and Elias, after fasting forty days, have hungered, on account of His
body demanding its own food, nor vet would John his disciple when writing
about him have said--'Jesus being wearied from his journey sat,'(6) nor
would David have uttered the prediction about him 'And they added to the
pain of my wounds,'(1) nor would lie have wept over Lazarus,(2) nor would
He have sweated drops of blood,(3) nor would He have said, 'my soul is
exceedingly sorrowful,'(4) nor yet when He was pierced would blood and
water have issued from His side.(5) For all these things are proofs of the
flesh taken from earth, which He had renewed in Himself in the salvation of
his own creature."(6)
Of the same from the same book:--
"For as by the disobedience of the one man who was first formed from
rude earth the many were made sinners(7) and lost their life, so also was
it fitting that through obedience of one man, the firstborn of a virgin,
many should be made righteous and receive their salvation."(8) Of the same
from the same work:--
"'I have said ye are gods and all of you children of the Most High but
ye shall die like man.'(9) This He says to them that did not accept the
gift of adoption, but dishonour the incarnation of the pure generation of
the word of God, deprive man of his ascent to God, and are ungrateful to
the Word of God who for their sakes was made flesh. For this cause was the
word made man that man receiving the word and accepting the adoption should
be made God's son."
Of the same from the same book:--
"Since then on account of the fore-ordained dispensation(11) the spirit
came down, and the only begotten Son of God, who also is Word of the
Father, when the fulness of thee was come, was made flesh in man and our
Lord Jesus Christ--being one and the same--fulfilled all the human
dispensation as the Lord himself testifies, and the apostles confess, all
the teachings of men who invented the ogdoads and tetrads and similitudes
are proved plainly false."(12)
Testimony of the Holy Hippolytus, Bishop and Martyr, from his discourse
on "The Lord is my shepherd":--
"And an ark of incorruptible wood was the Saviour Himself, for the
incorruptibility and indestructibility of His Tabernacle signified its
producing no corruption of sin. For the sinner who confesses his sin says '
My wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness.'(2) But the Lord
was without sin, made in His human nature of incorruptible wood, that is to
say, of the Virgin and the Holy Ghost overland within anti without, as it
were, by purest gold of the word of God."
Of the same from his discourse on Elkanah and Hannah:--
"Bring me then, O Samuel, the Heifer drawn to Bethlehem, that you may
shew the King begotten of David, and anointed King and Priest by the
From the same discourse:--
"Tell me, O Blessed Mary, what it was that was conceived by thee in the
womb; what it was that was borne by thee in a Virgin's womb. It was the
Word of God, firstborn from Heaven, on thee descending, and man firstborn
being formed in a womb, that the first born Word of God might be shewn
united to a firstborn man."
From the same discourse:--
"The second, which was through the prophets as through Samuel, he
revokes, and turns his people from the slavery of strangers. The third, in
which He took the manhood of the Virgin and was present in the flesh: who,
when He saw the city wept over it."
Of the same from his discourse on the beginning of Isaiah:(3)--
"He likens the world to Egypt; its idolatry, to images; its removal and
destruction to an earthquake. The Word he calls the 'Lord' and by a 'swift
cloud' he means the right pure tabernacle enthroned on which our Lord Jesus
Christ entered into life to undo the fall."
Testimony of the Holy Methodius,(4) bishop and martyr, from his
discourse on the martyrs:--
"So wonderful and precious is martyrdom that our Lord Jesus Christ
Himself, the Son of God, testified in its honour that He thought it not
robbery to be equal with God, that He might crown with this grace the
Manhood into whom He had come down."
Testimony of the holy Eustathius, bishop of Antioch, confessor. From
his interpretation of the xvith Psalm:--
"The soul of Jesus experienced both. For it was in the place of the
souls of men and being made without the flesh, lives and survives. So it is
reasonable and of the same substance as the souls of men, just as the flesh
is of the same substance as the flesh of men, coming forth from Mary."
Of the same from his work about the soul:--
"On looking at the education of the child, or at the increase of his
stature, or at the extension of thee, or at the growth of the body, what
would they say? But, to omit the miracles wrought upon earth, let them
behold the raisings of the dead to life, the signs of the Passion, the
marks of the scourges, the bruises and the blows, the wounded side, the
prints of the nails, the shedding of the blood, the evidences of the death,
and in a word the actual resurrection of the very body."
From the same work:--
"Indeed if any one looks to the generation of the body, he would
clearly discover that after being born at Bethlehem He was wrapped in
swaddling clothes, and was brought up for some thee in Egypt, because of
the evil counsel of the cruel Herod, and grew to man's estate at Nazareth."
From the same work:--
"For the tabernacle of the Word and of God is not the same, whereby the
blessed Stephen beheld the divine glory."
Of the same from his sermon on "the Lord created me in the beginning of
"If the Word received a beginning of His generation from the thee when
passing through His mother's womb He wore the human frame, it is clear that
He was made of a woman; but if He was from the first Word and God with the
Father, and if we assert that the universe was made by Him, then He who is
and is the cause of all, created things was not made of a woman, but is by
nature God, self existent, infinite, incomprehensible; and of a woman was
made man, formed in the Virgin's womb by the Holy Ghost."
From the same work:--
"For a temple absolutely holy and undefiled is the tabernacle of the
word according to the flesh, wherein God visibly made his habitation and
dwelt, and we assert this not of conjecture, for He who is by nature the
Son of this God when predicting the destruction and resurrection of the
temple distinctly instructs us by His teaching when He says to the
murderous Jews, 'Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it
From the same work:--
"When then the Word built a temple and carried the manhood, companying
in a body with men, He invisibly displayed various miracles, and sent forth
the apostles as heralds of His everlasting kingdom."
Of the same from his intrepretation of Psalm xcii:--
"It is plain then if 'He that anointeth' means God whose throne He
calls 'everlasting,' the anointer is plainly by nature God, begotten of
God. But the anointed took an acquired virtue, being adorned with a chosen
temple of the Godhead dwelling in it."
The testimony of the holy Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria and
Confessor. From the defence of Dionysius Bishop of Alexandria:--
"'I am the vine, ye are the branches My Father is the husbandman.'
For we according to the booty are of kin to the Lord, and for this reason
He himself said 'I will declare thy name unto my brethren.' And just as
the branches are of one substance with the vine, and of it, so too we,
since we have bodies akin to the body of the Lord, receive them of His
fulness, and have it as a root for our resurrection and salvation. And the
Father is called a husbandman, for He Himself through the Word tilled the
vine which is the Lord's body."
Of the same from the same treatise:--
"The Lord was called a vine on account of His bodily relationship to
the branches which are ourselves."
Of the same from his greater oration concerning the faith:--
"The scripture 'in the beginning was the Word' clearly indicates the
Godhead. The passage 'the Word was made flesh' shews the human nature of
From the same discourse:--
"'He shall wash His garments in wine' that is His body, which is the
vestment of the Godhead in His own blood."
Of the same from the same discourse:--
"The Word 'was' is referred to His divinity, the words 'was made
flesh' to His body, tile Word was made flesh not by being reduced to
flesh, but by bearing flesh, just as any one might say such an one became
or was made an old man, though not so born from the beginning, or the
soldier became a veteran, not being previously such as he became. John
says, 'I became,' or 'was in the island of Patmos on the Lord's day.'
Not that he was made or born there, but he says 'I became or was in Patmos
'instead of saying 'I arrived;' so the Word 'arrived' at flesh, as it is
said 'the Word was made flesh.' Hear the words 'I became like a broken
vessel,' and 'I became like a man that hath no strength, free among the
Of the same from his letter to Epictetus:--
"Whoever heard such things? Who taught them? Who learn, them? 'Out of
Zion shall go forth the law and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem.'
But whence did these things come forth? What hell vomited them out? To say
that the body taken of Mary was of the same substance as the Godhead of the
Word, or that the Word was changed into flesh and bones and hairs and a
whole body; whoever heard in a church or at all among Christians that God
bore a body by adoption and not by birth?"
Of the same from the same Epistle:--
"But who, hearing that the Word made for Himself a passible body, not
of Mary, but of His own substance, would call the sayer of these things a
Christian? Who has invented so unfounded an impiety, as even to think and
to say that they who affirm the Lord's body to be of Mary, conceive no
longer of a Trinity, but of a quaternity in the godhead? As though they
that are of this opinion described the flesh which the Saviour clothed
himself with of Mary as of the substance of the Trinity.
"Whence further have some men vomited forth an impiety as bad as the
foregoing, and alleged that the body is not of later thee than the godhead
of the Word, bat has always been co-eternal with it, since it is formed of
the substance of wisdom."
Of the same from the same letter:--
"So the body taken of Mary was human according to the scriptures, and
real in that it was the same as our own. For Mary was our sister, since we
are all of Adam, a fact which no one could doubt who remembers the words of
Testimony of the holy Basil, bishop of Caesarea:--
From the interpretation of Psalm LX.
"All strangers have stooped and been pat trader the yoke of Christ,
wherefore also 'over Edom' does he 'cast out' his 'shoe.' Now the shoe
of the Godhead is the flesh which bore God whereby he came among men."
Of the same from his writings about the Holy Ghost to Amphilochius:--
"He uses the phrase 'of whom' instead of 'through whom;' as when Paul
says 'made of a woman.' He clearly made this distinction for us in
another place where he says that the being made of the man is proper to a
woman, but to a man the being made by the woman, in the words 'For as the
woman is of the man so is the man by the woman.' But with the object at
once of pointing out the different use of these expressions, and of
correcting obiter an error of certain men who supposed the body of the Lord
to be spiritual, that he may shew how the God-bearing flesh was composed of
human matter, he gives prominence to the more emphatic expression, for the
expression 'by a woman' was in danger of suggesting that the sense of the
word generation was merely in passing through, while the phrase 'of the
woman' makes the common nature of the child and of the mother plain
Testimony of the holy Gregory bishop of Nazianus. From the former
exposition to Cledonius:--
"If any one says that the flesh came down from heaven, and not from
this earth, and from us, let him be Anathema. For the words 'The second man
is from heaven,' and 'as is the heavenly such are they also that are
heavenly' and 'no man hath ascended up to heaven but the son of man that
came down from heaven,' and any other similar passage, must be
understood to be spoken on account of the union with man, as also the
statement that 'all things were made by Christ,' and that 'Christ dwells
in our hearts,' must be understood not according to the sensible, but
according to the intellectual conception of the Godhead, the terms being
commingled together just as are the natures."
Of the same from the same work:--
"Let us see from their own words what reason they give for the being
made man, that is for the incarnation. If indeed it was that God otherwise
not contained in space, might be contained in space and, as it were under a
veil, might converse with men in the flesh, then their mask and their stage
play are exquisite: not to say that it was possible for Him otherwise to
converse with us, as of yore, in a burning bush and in human form, but if
that He might undo the damnation of sin by taking like to like then just
as He required flesh on account of the condemned flesh, and a soul on
account of the soul, so too he required a mind on account of the mind,
which in Adam not only fell but,--to employ a term which physicians are
accustomed to use about diseases--was affected with original malady. For
that which did not keep the commandment was what had received the
commandment; and that which dared transgression was what had not kept the
commandment; and that which specially needed salvation was what had
transgressed, and that which was assumed was what needed salvation; so the
mind was assumed. Now this point has been demonstrated, whether they will
or no, by proofs which are so to say mathematical and necessary. But you
are doing just as though, if a man were to have a diseased eye and a
limping foot you were to cure the foot but leave the eye uncured; or, if a
painter had painted a picture badly, were to alter the picture, but leave
the painter alone as though he were doing his work well. But if they are so
constrained by these arguments as to take refuge in the statement that it
is possible for God to save man, even without a mind, why then clearly He
might have done so even without flesh, by the mere expression of His will,
just as He works and has worked in the universe without a body. Away then
with the flesh as well as with the mind! Let there be no inconsistency in
Testimony of the Holy Gregory, bishop of Nyssa. From his sermon on
"So the Word came down not naked, but after having been made flesh, not
in the form of God, but in the form of a servant. This then is He who
said that He could do nothing of Himself. For the not being able is the
part of powerlessness. For as darkness is opposed to light, and death to
life, so is weakness to power. But yet Christ is Power of God. Power is
wholly inconsistent with not being able. For if power were powerless what
is powerful? When then the Word declares that He can do nothing it is plain
that He does not attribute his powerlessness to the Godhead of the Only-
begotten, but connects his not being able with the powerlessness of our
nature. The flesh is weak, as it is written, 'The spirit is willing, but
the flesh is weak.'"
Of the same from his Book "on the Perfection of Life":--
"Again the true lawgiver, of whom Moses was a type, hewed for Himself
out of our earth the slabs of nature. No wedlock fashioned for Him the
flesh that was to receive the godhead, but He Himself is made the hewer of
His own flesh, graven as it is by the finger of God. For the Holy Ghost
came upon the Virgin, and the power of the Highest overshadowed her. And
when this had come to pass, nature once again took its indestructible
character, being made immortal by the marks of the divine finger."
Of the same from his Book against Eunomius:--
"We assert therefore that when He said above that wisdom built for
herself a house, he intimates by the phrase the formation of the flesh
of the Lord, for the very wisdom made its home in no strange dwelling, but
built itself its dwelling of the Virgin's body."
Of the same from the same treatise:--
"The Word was before the ages, but the flesh was made in the last
times, and no one would say on the contrary either that the flesh was
before the ages, or the Word made in the last times."
Of the same from the same treatise:--
"The expression 'created me ' is not to be understood of the divine
and the undefiled, but, as has been said, of our created nature, according
to the dispensation of the incarnation."
Of the same from the first discourse on the Beatitudes:--
"'Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with
God, but emptied himself, and took the form of a servant.' What poorer,
in respect of God, than the form of a servant? What more lowly, in respect
of the King of all, than approach to fellowship in our poor nature? The
King of Kings and Lord of Lords voluntarily dons the form of servitude."
Testimony of the Holy Flavianus, bishop of Antioch. From his sermon on
John the Baptist:--
"Do not think of connexion in any physical sense, nor entertain the
idea of conjugal intercourse. For thy Creator is creating His own bodily
temple now being born of thee."
Of the same from his book on "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me":-
"Hear Him saying, 'The Spirit is upon me because He hath anointed me.'(1)
You do not know, He says, what you read, for I, the anointed with the
Spirit, am come to you. Now what is akin to us, and not the invisible
nature, is anointed with the Spirit."(2)
Testimony of Amphilochius, bishop of Iconium. From his Discourse on "My
Father is greater than I: "(3)--
"Distinguish me now the natures, the Divine and the human. For man was
not made from God by failing away, nor was God made of man by advancement.
I am speaking of God and man. When, however, you attribute the passions to
the flesh and the miracles to God, you of necessity and involuntarily
assign the lowly titles to the man born of Mary, and the exalted and divine
to the Word Who in the beginning was God. Wherefore in some cases I utter
exalted words, in others lowly, to the end that by means of the lofty I may
shew the nature of the indwelling Word, and by the lowly, own the weakness
of the lowly flesh. Whence sometimes I call myself equal to the Father and
sometimes greater than the Father, not contradicting myself, but shewing
that I am God and than, for God is of the lofty, man of the lowly; but if
you wish to know how my Father is greater than I, I spoke of the flesh and
not of the person of the Godhead."
Of the same from his discourse on "The Son, can do nothing of
How was Adam disobedient in Heaven, and how of heavenly body was he
formed first-formed beside the first formation? But it was the Adam of the
earth who was formed at the beginning; the Adam of the earth disobeyed; the
Adam of the earth was assumed. Wherefore also the Adam of the earth was
saved that thus the reason of the incarnation(5) may be proved necessary
Testimony of the Holy John Bishop of Constantinople. From the speech
which he made when the Gothic envoy had spoken before him:--
"See from the beginning what He does. He clothes Himself in our nature,
powerless and vanquished, that by its means He may fight and struggle and
from the beginning He uproots the nature of rebellion."
Of the same from his discourse on(1) The Festival of the Nativity:--
"For is it not of the very last stupidity for them to bring down their
own gods into stones and cheap wooden images, shutting them up as it were
in a kind of prison, and to fancy that there is nothing disgraceful in what
they either say or do, and then to find fault with us for saying that God
made a living temple for Himself of the Holy Ghost, by means of which he
brought succour to the world? For if it is disgraceful for God to dwell in
a human body, then in proportion as the stone and the wood are more
worthless than man is it much more disgraceful for him to dwell in stone
and wood. But perhaps mankind seems to them to be of less value than these
senseless objects. They bring down the substance of God into stones and
into dogs;(2) but many heretics into fouler things than these. But we could
never endure even to hear of these things.(3) But what we say is that of a
virgin's womb the Christ took pure flesh, holy and without spot, and made
impervious to all sin, and restored the body(4) that was His own."
A little further on: "And we assert that when the divine Word had
fashioned for Himself a holy temple by its means he brought the heavenly
state into our life."
Of the same from the oration: That the lowly words and deeds of Christ
were not spoken and done through lack of power, but through distinctions of
"What then are the causes of many humble things having been said about
Him both by Himself and by His apostles? The first and greatest cause is
the fact of His having clothed Himself with flesh, and wishing all his
contemporaries and all who have lived since, to believe that He was not a
shadow, nor what was seen merely a form, but reality of nature. For if when
He Himself and His apostles had spoken about Him so often in humble and in
human sense, the devil yet had power to persuade some wretched and
miserable men to deny the reason of the incarnation, and dare to say that
He did not take flesh and so to destroy all the ground of His love for man,
how many would not have fallen into this abyss if He had never said
anything of the kind?"
I have now produced for you a few out of many authorities of the
heralds of the truth, not to stun you with too many. They are quite enough
to show the bent of the mind of the excellent writers. It is now for you to
say what force their writings seem to have.
Eran.--They have all spoken in harmony with one another, and the
workers in the vineyard of the West agree with them whose husbandry is done
in the region of the rising sun. Yet I perceived a considerable difference
in their sayings.
Orth.--They are successors of the divine apostles; some even of those
apostles were privileged to hear the holy voice and see the goodly sight.
The majority of them too were adorned with the crown of martyrdom. Does it
seem right for you to wag the tongue of blasphemy against them?
Eran.--I shrink from doing this; at the same time I do not approve of
their great divergence.
Orth.--But now I will bring you an unexpected remedy. I will adduce one
of your own beautiful heresy--your teacher Apollinarius,(1) and I will shew
you that he understood the text "The Word was made flesh" just as the holy
Fathers did. Hear now what he wrote about it in his "Summary."
The testimony of Apollinarius from his "Summary":--
"If no one is turned into that which he assumes, and Christ assumed
flesh, then He was not turned into flesh."
And immediately afterward he continues:--
"For also He gave himself to us in relationship by means of the body to
save us. Now that which saves is far more excellent than that which is
being saved. Far more excellent then than we are, is He in the assumption
of a body! But He would not have been more excellent had He been turned
A little further on he says:--
"The simple is one, but the complex cannot be one; he then that alleges
that He was made flesh affirms the mutation of the one Word. But if the
complex is also one, as man, then he who on account of the union with the
flesh says the Word was made flesh means the one in complexity."
And again a little further on he says-"To be made flesh is to be made
empty,(2) but the being made empty declares not man, but the Son of man,
who 'emptied Himself' not by undergoing change, but by investiture."
There; you see the teacher of your own doctrines has introduced the
word 'investiture' and indeed in his little work upon the faith he says--
"We then believe that he was made flesh, while His Godhead remained
unchanged for the renewal of the manhood. For in the holy power of God
there has been neither alteration nor change-of place, nor inclusion"--and
then shortly again--"We worship God who took flesh of the blessed virgin,
and on this account in the flesh is man, but in the spirit God." And in
another exposition he says--"We confess the Son of God to have been made
the Son of man, not nominally but verily, on taking flesh of the Virgin
Eran.--I did not suppose that Apollinarius held these sentiments. I had
other ideas about him.
Orth.--Well; now you have learnt that not only the prophets and
apostles, and they who after them were ordained teachers of the world, but
even Apollinarius, the writer of heretical babbling, confesses the divine
Word to be immutable, states that He was not turned into flesh but assumed
flesh, and this over and over again, as you have heard. Do not then
struggle to throw your master's blasphemy into the shade by your own, For,
says the Lord "the disciple is not above his master."(1)
Eran.--Yes, I confess that the divine Word of God is immutable and took
flesh. It were the uttermost foolishness to withstand authorities so many
and so great.
Orth.--Do you wish to have a solution of the rest of the difficulties?
Eran.--Let us put off their investigation until to-morrow.
Orth.--Very well; our synod is dismissed. Let us depart, and bear in
mind what we have agreed upon.
DIALOGUE II: THE UNCONFOUNDED.
Eranistes and Orthodoxus.
Eran.--I am come as I promised. 'Tis yours to adopt one of two
alternatives, and either furnish a solution of my difficulties, or assent
to what I and my friends lay down.
Orth.--I accept your challenge, for I think it right and fair. But we
must first recall to mind at what point we left off our discourse
yesterday, and what was the conclusion of our argument.
Eran.--I will remind you of the end. I remember our agreeing that the
divine Word remained immutable, and took flesh, and was not himself changed
Orth.--You seem to be content with the points agreed on, for you have
faithfully called them to mind.
Eran.--Yes, and I have already said that the man that withstands
teachers so many and so great is indubitably out of his mind. I was
moreover put to not a little shame to find that Apollinarius used the same
terms as the orthodox, although in his books about the incarnation his
drift has distinctly been in another direction.
Orth.--Then we affirm that the Divine Word took flesh?
Orth.--And what do we mean by the flesh? A body only, as is the view of
Arius and Eunomius, or body and soul?
Eran.--Body and soul.
Orth.--What kind of soul? The reasonable soul, or that which is by some
termed the phytic, vegetable,(1) that is, vital? for the fable-mongering
quackery of the Apollinarians compels us to ask unseemly questions.
Eran.--Does then Apollinarius make a distinction of souls?(2)
Orth.--He says that man is composed of three parts, of a body, a vital
soul, and further of a reasonable soul, which he terms mind. Holy Scripture
on the contrary knows only one, not two souls; and this is plainly taught
us by the formation of the first man. For it is written God took dust from
the earth and "formed man," and "breathed into his nostrils the breath of
life, and man became a living soul."(3) And in the gospels the Lord said to
the holy disciples "Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to
kill the soul; but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and
body in hell."(4)
And the very divine Moses when he told the tale of them that came down
into Egypt and stated with whom each tribal chief had come in, added, "All
the souls that came out of Egypt were seventy-five,"(5) reckoning one soul
for each immigrant. And the divine apostle at Troas, when all supposed
Eutychus to be dead, said "Trouble not yourselves for his soul is in
Eran.--It is shewn clearly that each man has one soul.
Orth.--But Apollinarius says two; and that the Divine Word took the
unreasonable, and that instead of the reasonable, he was made in the flesh.
It was on this account that I asked what kind of soul you assert to have
been assumed with the body.
Eran.--I say the reasonable. For I follow the Divine Scripture.
Orth.--We agree then that the "form of a servant" assumed by the Divine
Word was complete.
Orth.--And rightly; for since the whole first man became subject to
sin, and lost the impression of the Divine Image,(2) and the race followed,
it results that the Creator, with the intention of renewing the blurred
image, assumed the nature in its entirety, and stamped an imprint far
better than the first.
Eran.--True. But now I beg you in the first place that the meaning of
the terms employed may be made quite clear, that thus our discussion may
advance without hindrance, and no investigation of doubtful points
intervene to interrupt our conversation.
Orth.--What yon say is admirable. Ask now concerning whatever point yon
Eran.--What must we call Jesus the Christ? Man?
Orth.--By neither name alone, but by both. For the Divine Man after
being made man was named Jesus Christ. "For," it is written," Thou shalt
call His name Jesus for he shall save His people from their sins,"(3) and
unto you is born this day in the city of David Christ the Lord.(4) Now
these are angels' voices. But before the Incarnation he was named God, son
of God, only begotten, Lord, Divine Word, and Creator. For it is written
"In the beginning was the Word, and the word was with God, and the word was
God,"(5) and "all things were made by Him,"(6) and "He was life,"(7) and
"He was the true light which lighteth every man that cometh into the
world." There are also other similar passages, declaring the divine nature.
But after the Incarnation He was named Jesus and Christ.
Eran.--Therefore the Lord Jesus is God only.
Orth.--You hear that the divine Word was made man, and do you call him
Eran.--Since He became mall without being changed, but remained just
what He was before, we must call Him just what He was.
Orth.--The divine Word was and is and will be immutable. But when He
had taken man's nature He became man. It behoves us therefore to confess
both natures, both that which took, and that which was taken.
Eran.--We must name Him by the nobler.
Orth--Man,--I mean man the animal,--is he a simple or a composite
Orth.--Composed of what component parts?
Eran.--Of a body and a soul.
Orth.--And of these natures whether is nobler?
Eran.--Clearly the soul, for it is reasonable and immortal, and has
been entrusted with the sovereignty of the animal. But the body is mortal
and perishable, and without the soul is unreasonable, and a corpse.
Orth.--Then the divine Scripture ought to have called the animal after
its more excellent part.
Eran.--It does so call it, for it calls them that came out of Egypt
souls. For with seventy-five souls, it says, Israel came down into Egypt.
Orth.--But does the divine Scripture never call any one after the body?
Eran.--It calls them that are the slaves of flesh, flesh. For "God,"
it is written, "said my spirit shall not always remain in these men, for
they are flesh."(1)
Orth.--But without blame no one is called flesh?
Eran.--I do not remember.
Orth.--Then I will remind you, and point out to you that even the very
saints are called "flesh." Answer now. What would you call the apostles?
Spiritual, or fleshly?
Eran.--Spiritual;--and leaders and teachers of the spiritual.
Orth.--Hear now the holy Paul when he says "But when it pleased God who
separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal
his son in me that I might preach him among the heathen, immediately I
conferred not with flesh and blood neither went I up to them that were
apostles before me."(1) Does he so style the apostles because he blames
Orth.--Is it not that he names them after their visible nature, and
comparing the calling which is of men with that which is of heaven?
Orth.--Then hear too the psalmist David--"Unto thee shall all flesh
come."(2) Hear too, the prophet Isaiah foretelling "All flesh shall see the
salvation of our God."(3)
Eran.--It is made perfectly plain that Holy Scripture names human
nature from the flesh without the least blame.
Orth.--I will proceed to give you the yet further proof.
Orth.--The fact that sometimes when giving blame the divine Scripture
uses only the name of soul.
Eran.--And where will you find this in holy Scripture?
Orth.--Hear the Lord God speaking through the prophet Ezekiel "The sold
that sinneth it shall die."(4) Moreover through the great Moses He saith
"If a soul sin--"(5) And again "It shall come to pass that every soul that
will not hear that prophet shall be cut off."(6) And many other passages of
the same kind may be found.
Eran.--This is plainly proved.
Orth.--In cases, then, where there is a certain natural union, and a
combination of created things, and of beings connected by service and by
time, it is not the custom of holy Scripture to use a name for this being
derived only from the nobler nature; it names it indiscriminately both by
the meaner and by the nobler. If so, how can you find fault with us for
calling Christ the Lord, man, after confessing Him to be God, when many
things combine to compel us to do so?
Eran.--What is there to compel us to call the Saviour Christ, "man"?
Orth.--The diverse and mutually inconsistent opinions of the heretics.
Eran.--What opinions, and contrary to what?
Orth.--That of Arius to that of Sabellius. The one divides the
substances: the other confounds the hypostases. Arius introduces three
substances, and Sabellius makes one hypostasis instead of three.(1) Tell me
now, how ought we to heal both maladies? Must we apply the same drug for
both ailments, or for each the proper one? Eran.--For each the proper one.
Orth.--We shall therefore endeavour to persuade Arius to acknowledge
the substance of the Holy Trinity, and we shall adduce proofs of this
position from Holy Scripture.
Eran.--Yes: this ought to be done.
Orth.--But in arguing with Sabellius we shall adopt the opposite
course. Concerning the substance we shall advance no argument, for even he
acknowledges but one.
Orth.--But we shall do our best to cure the unsound part of his
Eran.--We say that where he halts is about the hypostases.
Orth.--Since then he asserts there to be one hypostasis of the Trinity,
we shall point out to him that the divine Scripture proclaims three
Eran.--This is the course to take. But we have wandered from the
Orth.--Not at all. We are collecting proofs of it, as you will learn in
a moment. But tell me, do you understand that all the heresies which derive
their name from Christ, acknowledge both the Godhead of Christ and His
Eran.--By no means.
Orth.--Do not some acknowledge the godhead alone, and some the manhood
Orth.--And some but a part of the manhood?
Eran.--I think so. But it will be well for us to lay down the names of
the holders of these different opinions, that the point under discussion
may be made plainer.
Orth.--I will tell yon the names. Simon, Menander, Marcion, Valentinus,
Basilides, Bardesanes, Cerdo, and Manes, openly denied the humanity of
Christ. On the other hand Artemon, Theodotus, Sabellius, Paul of Samosata,
Marcellus, and Photinus, fell into the diametrically opposite blasphemy;
for they preach Christ to be man only, and deny the Godhead which existed
before the ages. Arius and Eunomius make the Godhead of the only begotten a
created Godhead, and maintain that He assumed only a body. Apollinarius
confesses that the assumed body was a living(1) body, but in his work
deprives the reasonable soul alike of its honour and of its salvation. This
is the contrariety of these corrupt opinions. But do you, with all due love
of truth, tell us, must we institute a discussion with these men, or shall
we let them go dashed down headlong and howling to their doom?
Eran.--It is inhuman to neglect the sick.
Orth.--Very well; then we must compassionate them, and do our best to
Eran.--By all means.
Orth.--If then you had scientifically learned how to cure the body, and
round you stood many men asking you to cure them, and shewing their various
ailments, such as arise from running at tile eyes, injury to the ears,
tooth-ache, contraction of tile joints, palsy, bile, or phlegm, what would
you have done? Tell me; would you have applied the same treatment to all,
or to each that which was appropriate?
Eran.--I should certainly have given to each the appropriate remedy.
Orth.--So by applying cold treatment to the hot, and heating the cold,
and loosing the strained, and giving tension to the loose, and drying the
moist, and moistening the dry, you would have driven out the diseases and
restored the health which they had expelled.
Eran.--This is the treatment prescribed by medical science, for
contraries, it is said, are the remedies of contraries.
Orth.--If you were a gardener, would yon give the same treatment to all
plants? or their own to the mulberry and the fig, and so to the pear, to
the apple, and to the vine what is fitting to each, and in a word to each
plant its own proper culture?
Eran.--It is obvious that each plant requires its own treatment.
Orth.--And if you undertook to be a ship builder, and saw that the mast
wanted repair, would you try to mend it in the same way as you would the
tiller? or would you give it the proper treatment of a mast?
Eran.--There is no question about these things: everything demands its
own treatment, be it plant or limb or gear or tackle.
Orth.--Then is it not monstrous to apply to the body and to things
without life to each its own appropriate treatment, and not to keep this
rule of treatment in the case of the soul?
Eran.--Most unjust; nay, rather stupid than unrighteous. They who adopt
any other method are quite unskilled in the healing art.
Orth.--Then in disputing against each heresy we shall use the
Eran.--By all means.
Orth.--And it is fitting treatment to add what is wanting and to remove
what is superfluous?
Orth.--In endeavouring then to cure Photinus and Marcellus and their
adherents, in order to carry out the rule of treatment, what should we add?
Eran.--The acknowledgment of the Godhead of Christ, for it is this that
Orth.--But about the manhood we will say nothing to them, for they
acknowledge the Lord Christ to be man. Eran.--You are right.
Orth.--And in arguing with Arius and Eunomius about the incarnation of
the only begotten, what should we persuade them to add to their own
Eran.--The assumption of the soul; for they say that the divine Word
took only a body.
Orth.--And what does Apollinarius lack to make his teaching accurate
about the incarnation?
Eran.--Not to separate the mind from the soul, but to confess that,
with the body, was assumed a reasonable soul.
Orth.--Then shall we dispute with him on this point?
Orth.--But under this head what did we assert to be confessed, and what
altogether denied, by Marcion, Valentinus, Manes and their adherents?
Eran.--That they admitted their belief in the Godhead of Christ, but do
not accept the doctrine of His manhood.
Orth.--We shall therefore do our best to persuade them to accept also
the doctrine of the manhood, and not to call the divine incarnation(1) a
Eran.--It will be well so to do.
Orth.--We will therefore tell them that it is right to style the Christ
not only God, but also man.
Eran.--By all means.
Orth.--And how is it possible for us to induce others to style the
Christ 'man' while we excuse ourselves from doing so? They will not yield
to our persuasion, but on the contrary will convict us of agreeing with
Eran.--And how can we, confessing as we do that the divine Word took
flesh and a reasonable soul, agree with them?
Orth.--If we confess the fact, why then shun the word?
Eran.--It is right to name the Christ from His nobler qualities.
Orth.--Keep this rule then. Do not speak of Him as crucified, nor yet
as risen from the dead, and so on.
Eran.--But these are the names of the sufferings of salvation. Denial
of the sufferings implies denial of the salvation.
Orth.--And the name Man is the name of a nature. Not to pronounce the
name is to deny the nature: denial of the nature is denial of the
sufferings, and denial of the sufferings does away with the salvation.
Eran.--I hold it profitable to acknowledge the assumed nature; but to
style the Saviour of the world man is to belittle the glory of the Lord.
Orth.--Do you then deem yourself wiser than Peter and Paul; aye, and
than the Saviour Himself? For the Lord said to the Jews "Why do ye seek to
kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I heard of my
Father?"(1) And He frequently called Himself Son of Man.
And the meritorious Peter, in his sermon to the Jewish people, says,--
"Ye men of Israel, hear these words. Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of
God among you."(2) And the blessed Paul, when bringing the message of
salvation to the chiefs of the Areopagus, among many other things said
"And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all
men everywhere to repent: Because he hath appointed a day in the which he
will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained,
whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him
from the dead."(3) He then who excuses himself from using the name
appointed and preached by the Lord and his Apostles deems himself wiser
than even these great instructors, aye, even than the very well-spring of
Eran.--They gave this instruction to the unbelievers. Now the greater
part of the world(4) has professed the faith.
Orth.--But we have still among us Jews and pagans and of heretics
systems innumerable, and to each of these we must give fit and appropriate
teaching. But, supposing we were all of one mind, tell me now, what harm is
there in calling the Christ both God and man? Do we not behold in Him
perfect Godhead, and manhood likewise lacking in nothing?
Eran.--This we have owned again and again.
Orth.--Why then deny what we have again and again owned?
Eran.--I hold it unnecessary to call the Christ 'man,'--especially when
believer is conversing with believer.
Orth.--Do you consider the divine Apostle a believer?
Eran.--Yes: a teacher of all believers.
Orth.--And do youdeem Timothy worthy of being so styled?
Eran.--Yes: both as a disciple of the Apostle, and as a teacher of the
Orth.--Very well: then hear the teacher of teachers writing to his very
perfect disciple. "There is one God, and one mediator between God and man,
the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all."(1) Do stop your
idle prating, and laying down the law about divine names. Moreover in this
passage that very name 'mediator' stands indicative both of Godhead and of
manhood. He is called a mediator because He does not exist as God alone;
for how, if He had had nothing of our nature could He have mediated between
us and God? But since as God He is joined with God as having the same
substance, and as man with us, because from us He took the form of a
servant, He is properly termed a mediator, uniting in Himself distinct
qualities by the unity of natures of Godhead, I mean, and of manhood.(2)
Eran.--But was not Moses called a mediator, though only a man?(3)
Orth.--He was a type of the reality: but the type has not all the
qualities of the reality. Wherefore though Moses was not by nature God,
yet, to fulfil the type, he was called a god. For He says "See, I have made
thee a god to Pharaoh."(4) And then directly afterwards he assigns him also
a Prophet as though to God, for "Aaron thy brother," He says, "shall be thy
Prophet."(5) But the reality is by nature God, and by nature man.
Eran.--But who would call one not having the distinct characteristics
of the archetype, a type?
Orth.--The imperial images, it seems, you do not call images of the
Eran.--Yes, I do.
Orth.--Yet they have not all the characteristics which their archetype
has. For in the first place they have neither life nor reason: secondly
they have no inner organs, heart, I mean, and belly and liver and the
adjacent parts. Further they present the appearance of the organs of sense,
but perform none of their functions, for they neither hear, nor speak, nor
see; they cannot write; they cannot walk, nor perform any other human
action; and yet they are called imperial statues. In this sense Moses was a
mediator and Christ was a mediator; but the former as an image and type and
the latter as reality. But that I may make this point clearer to you from
yet another authority, call to mind the words used of Melchisedec in the
Epistle to the Hebrews.
Orth.--Those in which the divine Apostle comparing the Levitical
priesthood with that of the Christ likens Melchisedec in other respects to
the Lord Christ, and says that the Lord had the priesthood after the order
Eran.--I think the words of the divine Apostle are as follows;--" For
this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God who met
Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; to whom
also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation king
of righteousness, and after that also king of Salem, which is king of
peace; without father, without mother, without descent, having neither
beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the son of God;
abideth a priest continually."(2) I presume you spoke of this passage.
Orth.--Yes, I spoke of this; and I must praise you for not mutilating
it, but for quoting the whole. Tell me now, does each one of these points
fit Melchisedec in nature and reality?
Eran.--Who has the audacity to deny a fitness where the divine apostle
has asserted it?
Orth.--Then you say that all this fits Melchisedec by nature?
Orth.--Do you say that he was a man, or assumed some other nature?
Orth.--Begotten or unbegotten?
Eran.--You are asking very absurd questions.
Orth.--The fault lies with you for openly opposing the truth. Answer
Eran.--There is one only unbegotten, who is God and Father.
Orth.--Then we assert that Melchisedec was begotten?
Orth.--But the passage about him teaches the opposite. Remember the
words which you quoted a moment ago, "Without father without mother,
without descent, having neither beginning of days nor end of life." How
then do the words "Without father and without mother" fit him; and how the
statement that he neither received beginning of existence nor end, since
all this transcends humanity?
Eran.--These things do in fact overstep the limits of human nature.
Orth.--Then shall we say that the Apostle told lies?
Orth.--How then is it possible both to testify to the truth of the
Apostle, and apply the supernatural to Melchisedec?
Eran.--The passage is a very difficult one, and requires much
Orth.--For any one willing to consider it with attention it will not be
hard to attain perception of the meaning of the words. After saying
"without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning
of days nor end of life," the divine Apostle adds "made like unto the Son
of God, abideth a priest continually." Here he plainly teaches us that the
Lord Christ is archetype of Melchisedec in things concerning the human
nature. And he speaks of Melchisedec as "made like unto the Son of God."
Now let us examine the point in this manner;--do you say that the Lord had
a father according to the flesh?
Eran.--He was born of the holy Virgin alone.
Orth.--He is therefore properly styled "without father"?
Orth.--Do you say that according to the divine Nature He had a mother?
Orth.--For He was begotten of the Father alone before the ages?
Orth.--And yet, as the generation He has of the Father is ineffable, He
is spoken of as "without descent." "Who" says the prophet "shall declare
Eran.--You are right.
Orth.--Thus it becomes Him to have neither beginning of days nor end of
life; for He is without beginning, indestructible, and, in a word, eternal,
and coeternal with the Father.
Eran.--This is my view too. But we must now consider how this fits the
Orth.--As an image and type. The image, as we have just observed, has
not all the properties of the archetype. Thus to the Saviour these
qualities are proper both by nature and in reality; but the story of the
origin of the race has attributed them to Melchisedec. For after telling us
of the father of the patriarch Abraham, and of the father and mother of
Isaac, and in like manner of Jacob and of his sons, and exhibiting the
pedigree of our first forefathers, of Melchisedec it records neither the
father nor the mother, nor does it teach that he traced his descent from
any one of Noah's sons, to the end that he may be a type of Him who is in
reality without father, and without mother. And this is what the divine
Apostle would have us understand, for in this very passage he says further,
"But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham,
and blessed him that had the promises."(2)
Eran.--Then, since Holy Scripture has not mentioned his parents, can he
be called without father and without mother?
Orth.--If he had really been without father and without mother, he
would not have been an image, but a reality. But since these are his
qualities not by nature, but according to the dispensation of the Divine
Scripture, he exhibits the type of the reality.
Eran.--The type must have the character of the archetype.
Orth.--Is man called an image of God?
Eran.--Man is not an image of God, but was made in the image of God.(3)
Orth.--Listen then to the Apostle. He says: "For a man indeed ought not
to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God."(4)
Eran.--Granted, then, that he is an image of God.
Orth.--According to your argument then he must needs have plainly
preserved the characters of the archetype, and have been uncreate,
uncompounded, and infinite. He ought in like manner to have been able to
create out of the non existent, he ought to have fashioned all things by
his word and without labour, in addition to this to have been free from
sickness, sorrow, anger, and sin, to have been immortal and incorruptible
and to possess all the qualities of the archetype.
Eran.--Man is not an image of God in every respect.
Orth.--Though truly an image in the qualities in which you would grant
him to be so, you will find that he is separated by a wide interval from
Orth.--Consider now too this point. The divine Apostle calls the Son
the image of the Father; for he says "Who is the image of the invisible
Eran.--What then; has not the Son all the qualities of the Father?
Orth.--He is not Father. He is not uncaused. He is not unbegotten.
Eran.--If He were He would not be Son.
Orth.--Then does not what I said hold good; the image has not all the
qualities of the archetype?
Orth.--Thus too the divine Apostle said that Melchisedec is made like
unto the Son of God.(2)
Eran.--Suppose we grant that he is without Father and without Mother
and without descent, as you have said. But how are we to understand his
having neither beginning of days nor end of life?
Orth.--The holy Moses when writing the ancient genealogy tells us how
Adam being so many years old begat Seth,(3) and when he had lived so many
years he ended his life.(4) So too he writes of Seth, of Enoch, and of the
rest, but of Melchisedec he mentions neither beginning of existence nor end
of life. Thus as far as the story goes he has neither beginning of days nor
end of life, but in truth and reality the only begotten Son of God never
began to exist and shall never have an end.
Orth.--Then, so far as what belongs to God and is really divine is
concerned, Melchisedec is a type of the Lord Christ; but as far as the
priesthood is concerned, which belongs rather to man than to God, the Lord
Christ was made a priest after the order of Melchisedec.(5) For Melchisedec
was a high priest of the people, and the Lord Christ for all men has made
the right holy offering of salvation.
Eran.--We have spent many words on this matter.
Orth.--Yet more were needed, as you know, for you said the point was a
Eran.--Let us return to the question before us.
Orth.--What was the question?
Eran.--On my remarking that Christ must not be called man, but only
God, you yourself besides many other testimonies adduced also the well
known words of the Apostle which he has used in his epistle Timothy--"One
God, one mediator between God and men, the man, Christ Jesus, who gave
himself a ransom for all to be testified in due time."(1)
Orth.--I remember from what point we diverged into this digression. It
was when I had said that the name of mediator exhibits the two natures of
the Saviour, and you said that Moses was called a mediator though he was
only a man and not God and man. was therefore under the necessity of
following up these points to show that the type has not all the qualities
of the archetype. Tell me, then, whether you allow that the Saviour ought
also to be called man.
Eran.--I call Him God, for He is God's Son.
Orth.--If you call him God, because you have learnt that he is God's
Son, call him also man, for he often called Himself "Son of Man."
Eran.--The name man does not apply to Him in the same way as the name
Orth.--As not really belonging to Him or for some other reason?
Eran.--God is his name by nature; man is the designation of the
Orth.--But are we to look on the Incarnation as real, or as something
imaginary and false?
Orth.--If then the grace of the Incarnation is real, and what we call
Incarnation is the divine Word's being made man, then the name man is real;
for after taking man's nature He is called man.
Eran.--Before His passion He was styled man, but afterward He was no
longer so styled.
Orth.--But it was after the Passion and the Resurrection that the
divine Apostle wrote the Epistle to Timothy wherein he speaks of the
Saviour Christ as man,(1) and writing after the Passion and the
Resurrection to the Corinthians he exclaims "For since by man came death,
by man came also the resurrection of the dead."(2) And in order to make his
meaning clear he adds, "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all
be made alive."(3) And after the Passion and the Resurrection the divine
Peter, in his address to the Jews, called Him man.(4) And after His being
taken up into heaven, Stephen the victorious, amid the storm of stones,
said to the Jews, "Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man
standing on the right hand of God."(5) Are we to suppose ourselves wiser
than the illustrious heralds of the truth?
Eran.--I do not suppose thyself wiser than the holy doctors, but I fail
to find the use of the name.
Orth.--How then could you persuade them that deny the incarnation of
the Lord, Marcionists, I mean, and Manichees, and all the rest who are thus
unsound, to accept the teaching of the truth, unless you adduce these and
similar proofs with the object of shewing that the Lord Christ is not God
only but also man?
Eran.--Perhaps it is necessary to adduce them.
Orth.--Why not then teach the faithful the reality of the doctrine? Are
you forgetful of the apostolic precept enjoining us to be "ready to give an
answer."(6) Now let us look at the matter in this light. Does the best
general engage the enemy, attack with arrows and javelins, and endeavour to
break their column all alone, or does he also arm his men, and marshal
them, and rouse their hearts to play the man?
Eran.--He ought rather to do this latter.
Orth.--Yes; for it is not the part of a general to expose his own life,
and take his place in the ranks, and let his men go fast asleep, but rather
to keep them awake for their work at their post.
Orth.--This is what the divine Paul did, for in writing to them who had
made profession of their faith he said, "Take unto you the whole armour of
God that ye be able to stand against the wiles of the Devil.(7) And again,
"Stand therefore with your loins girt about with truth," and so on. Bear in
mind too what we have already said, that a physician supplies what nature
lacks. Does he find the cold redundant? He supplies the hot, and so on with
the rest; and this is what the Lord does.
Eran.--And where will you show that the Lord has done this?
Orth.--In the holy gospels.
Eran.--Show me then and fulfil your promise.
Orth.--What did the Jews consider our Saviour Christ?
Orth.--And that He was also God they were wholly ignorant.
Orth.--Was it not then necessary for the ignorant to learn?
Orth.--Listen to Him then saying to them: "Many good works have I
shewed you from my Father; for which of these works do ye stone me?"(1) And
when they replied: "For a good work we stone thee not, but for blasphemy,
and because that thou being a man makest thyself God,"(2) He added "It is
written in your law I said ye are gods. If he called them gods unto whom
the word of God came and the scripture cannot be broken, say ye of Him whom
the Father hath sanctified and sent into the world thou blasphemest,
because I said I am the Son of God? If I do not the works of my father
believe me not ... that I am in the Father and the Father is in me."(3)
Eran.--In the passages you have just read you bare shewn that the Lord
shewed Himself to the Jews to be God and not man.
Orth.--Yes, for they did not need to learn what they knew; that He was
a man they knew, but they did not know that He was from the beginning God.
He adopted this same course in the case of the Pharisees; for when He saw
them accosting Him as a mere man He asked them "What think ye of Christ?
Whose son is He?"(4) And when they said "Of David" He went on "How then
doth David calling him Lord say 'The Lord said unto my Lord sit thou on my
right hand.'"(5) Then He goes on to argue, "If then He is His Lord how is
He His Son?"
Eran.--You have brought testimony against yourself, for the Lord
plainly taught the Pharisees to call Him not "Son of David" but "Lord of
David." Wherefore He is distinctly shown wishing to be called God and not
Orth.--I am afraid you have not attended to the divine teaching. He did
not repudiate the name of "Son of David," but He added that He ought also
to be believed to be Lord of David. This He clearly shews in the words "If
He is his Lord how is He then his Son?" He did not say "if He is Lord He is
not Son," but "how is He his Son?" instead of saying in one respect He is
Lord and in another Son. These passages both distinctly show the Godhead
and the manhood.
Eran.--There is no need of argument. The Lord distinctly teaches that
He does not wish to be called Son of David.
Orth.--Then He ought to have told the blind men and the woman of Canaan
and the multitude not to call Him Son of David, and yet the blind men cried
out "Thou Son of David have mercy on us."(1) And the woman of Canaan "Have
mercy on me O Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a
Devil."(2) And the multitude: "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He
that cometh in the name of the Lord."(3) And not only did He not take it
ill, but even praised their faith; for the blind He freed from their long
weary night and granted them the power of sight; the maddened and
distraught daughter of the woman of Canaan He healed and drove out the
wicked demon; and when the chief priests and Pharisees were offended at
them that shouted "Hosanna to the Son of David" He did not merely not
prevent them from shouting, but even sanctioned their acclamation, for,
said He, "I tell you that if these should hold their peace the stones would
immediately cry out."(4)
Eran.--He put up with this style of address before the resurrection in
condescension to the weakness of them that had not yet properly believed.
But after the resurrection these names are needless.
Orth.--Where shall we rank the blessed Paul? among the perfect or the
Eran.--It is wrong to joke about serious things.
Orth.--It is wrong to make light of the reading of the divine oracles.
Eran.--And who is such a wretch as to despise his own salvation?
Orth.--Answer my question, and then you will learn your ignorance.
Orth.--Where are we to rank the divine Apostle?
Eran.--Plainly among the most perfect, and one of the perfect teachers.
Orth.--And when did he begin his teaching?
Eran.--After the ascension of the Saviour, the coming of the Spirit,
and the stoning of the victorious Stephen.
Orth.--Paul, at the very end of his life, when writing his last letter
to his disciple Timothy, and in giving him, as it were, his paternal
inheritance by will, added "Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David
was raised from the dead according to my gospel."(1) Then he went on to
mention his sufferings on behalf of the gospel, and thus showed its truth
saying, "Wherein I suffer trouble as an evil doer even unto bonds."(2)
It were easy for me to adduce many similar testimonies, but I have
judged it needless to do so.
Eran.--You promised to prove that the Lord supplied the lacking
instruction to them that needed, and you have shown that He discoursed
about His own Godhead to the Pharisees, and to the rest of the Jews. But
that He gave also His instruction about the flesh you have not shewn.
Orth.--It would have been quite superfluous to have discoursed about
the flesh which was before their eyes, for He was plainly seen eating and
drinking and toiling and sleeping. Furthermore, to omit the many and
various events before the passion, after His resurrection He proved to His
disbelieving disciples not His Godhead but His manhood; for He said,
"Behold my hands and my feet that it is I myself. Handle me and see for a
spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see me have."(3)
Now I have fulfilled my promise, for we have proved the giving of
instruction about the Godhead to them that were ignorant of the Godhead,
and about the resurrection of the flesh to them that denied this latter.
Cease therefore from contending, and confess the two natures of the
Eran.--There were two before the union, but, after combining, they made
Orth.--When do you say that the union was effected?
Eran.--I say at the exact moment of the conception.
Orth.--And do you deny that the divine Word existed before the
Eran.--I say that He was before the ages.
Orth.--And that the flesh was co-existent with Him?
Eran.--By no means.
Orth.--But was formed, after the salutation of the angel, of the Holy
Eran.--So I say.
Orth.--Therefore before the union there were not two natures but only
one. For if the Godhead pre-existed, but the manhood was not coexistent,
being formed after the angelic salutation, and the union being coincident
with the formation, then before the union there was one nature, that which
exists always and existed before the ages. Now let us again consider this
point. Do you understand the making of flesh or becoming man to be anything
other than the union?
Orth.--For when He took flesh He was made flesh.
Orth.--And the union coincides with the taking flesh.
Eran.--So I say.
Orth.--So before the making man there was one nature. For if both union
and making man are identical, and He was made man by taking man's nature,
and the form of God took the form of a servant, then before the union the
divine nature was one.
Eran.--And how are the union and the making man identical?
Orth.--A moment ago you confessed that there is no distinction between
Eran.--You led me astray by your arguments.
Orth.--Then, if you like, let us go over the same ground again.
Eran.--We had better so do.
Orth.--Is there a distinction between the incarnation and the union,
according to the nature of the transaction?
Eran.--Certainly; a very great distinction.
Orth.--Explain fully the character of this distinction.
Eran.--Even the sense of the terms shows the distinction, for the word
"incarnation" shows the taking of the flesh, while the word "union"
indicates the combination of distinct things.
Orth.--Do yon represent the incarnation to be anterior to the union?
Eran.--By no means.
Orth.--You say that the union took place in the conception?
Orth.--Therefore if not even the least moment of time intervened
between the taking of flesh and the union, and the assumed nature did not
precede the assumption and the union, then incarnation and union signify
one and the same thing, and so before the union and incarnation there was
one nature, while after the incarnation we speak properly of two, of that
which took and of that which was taken.
Eran.--I say that Christ was of two natures, but I deny two natures.
Orth.--Explain to us then in what sense you understand the expression
"of two natures;" like gilded silver? like the composition of electron?(1)
like the solder made of lead and tin?
Eran.--I deny that the union is like any of these; it is ineffable, and
passes all understanding.
Orth.--I too confess that the manner of the union cannot be
comprehended. But I have at all events been instructed by the divine
Scripture that each nature remains unimpaired after the union.
Eran.--And where is this taught in the divine Scripture?
Orth.--It is all full of this teaching.
Eran.--Give proof of what you assert.
Orth.--Do you not acknowledge the properties of each nature?
Eran.--No: not, that is, after the union.
Orth.--Let us then learn this very point from the divine Scripture.
Eran.--I am ready to obey the divine Scripture.
Orth.--When, then, yon hear the divine John exclaiming "In the
beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God"(2)
and "By Him all things were made"(3) and the rest of the parallel passages,
do you affirm that the flesh, or the divine Word, begotten before the ages
of the Father, was in the beginning with God, and was by nature God, and
made all things?
Eran.--I say that these things belong to God the Word. But I do not
separate Him from the flesh made one with Him.
Orth. --Neither do we separate the flesh from God the Word, nor do we
make the union a confusion.
Eran.--I recognise one nature after the union.
Orth.--When did the Evangelists write the gospel? Was it before the
union, or a very long time after the union?
Eran.--Plainly after the union, the nativity, the miracles, the
passion, the resurrection, the taking up into heaven, and the coming of the
Orth.--Hear then John saying "In the beginning was the word, and the
word was with God, and the word was God. He was in the beginning with God.
All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made" and
so on. Hear too Matthew, "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, Son
of David,--Son of Abraham,"--and so on. Luke too traced His genealogy to
Abraham and David. Now make the former and the latter quotation fit one
nature. You will find it impossible, for existence in the beginning, and
descent from Abraham,--the making of all things, anti derivation from a
created forefather, are inconsistent.
Eran.--By thus arguing you divide the only begotten son into two
Orth.--One Son of God I both know and adore, the Lord Jesus Christ; but
I have been taught the difference between His Godhead and his manhood. You,
however, who say that there is only one nature after the union, do you make
this agree with tILe introductions of the Evangelists.
Eran.--You appear to assume the proposition to be hard, nay impossible.
Be it, I beg, short and easy;--only solve our question.
Orth.--Both qualities are proper to the Lord Christ,--existence from
the beginning, and generation, according to the flesh, from Abraham and
Eran.--You laid down the law that after the union it is not right to
speak of one nature. Take heed lest in mentioning the flesh you transgress
your own law.
Orth.--Even without mentioning the flesh it is quite easy to explain
the point in question, for 12 am applying both to the Saviour Christ.
Eran.--I too assert that both these qualities belong to the Lord
Orth.--Yes; but you do so in contemplation of two natures in Him, and
applying to each its own properties. But if the Christ is one nature, how
is it possible to attribute to it properties which are inconsistent with
one another? For to have derived origin from Abraham and David, and still
more to have been born many generations after David, is inconsistent with
existence in the beginning. Again to have sprung from created beings is
inconsistent with being Creator of all things; to have had human fathers
with existence derived from God. In short the new is inconsistent with the
Let us also look at the matter in this way. Do we say that the divine
Word is Creator of the Universe?
Eran.--So we have learnt to believe from the divine Scriptures.
Orth.--And how many days after the creation of heaven and earth are we
told that Adam was formed?
Eran.--On the sixth day.
Orth.--And from Adam to Abraham
how many generations went by?
Eran.--I think twenty.
Orth.--And from Abraham to Christ our Saviour how many generations are
reckoned by the Evangelist Matthew.
Orth.--If then the Lord Christ is one nature bow can He be Creator of
all things visible and invisible and, at the same time, after so many
generations, have been formed by the Holy Ghost in a virgin's womb? And how
could He be at one and the same time Creator of Adam and Son of Adam's
Eran.--I have already said that both these properties are appropriate
to Him as God made flesh, for I recognise one nature made flesh of the
Orth.--Nor yet, my good sir, do we say that two natures of the divine
Word were made flesh, for we know that the nature of the divine Word is
one, but we have been taught that the flesh of which He availed Himself
when He was incarnate is of another nature, and here I think that you too
agree with me. Tell me now; after what manner do you say that the making
flesh took place?
Eran.--I know not the manner, but I believe that He was made flesh.
Orth.--You make a pretext of your ignorance unfairly, and after the
fashion of the Pharisees. For they when they beheld the force of the Lord's
enquiry, and suspecting that they were on the point of conviction, uttered
their reply" We do not know." But I proclaim quite openly that the
divine incarnation is without change. For if by any variation or change He
was made flesh, then after the change all that is divine in His names and
in His deeds is quite inappropriate to Him.
Eran.--We have agreed again and again that God the Word is immutable.
Orth.--He was made flesh by taking flesh.
Orth.--The nature of God the Word made flesh is different from that of
the flesh, by assumption of which the nature of the divine Word was made
flesh and became man.
Orth.--Was He then changed into flesh?
Orth.--If then He was made flesh, not by mutation, but by taking flesh,
and both the former and the latter qualities are appropriate to Him as to
God made flesh, as you said a moment ago, then the natures were not
confounded, but remained unimpaired. And as long as we hold thus we shall
perceive too the harmony of the Evangelists, for while the one proclaims
the divine attributes of the one only begotten--the Lord Christ--the other
sets forth His human qualities. So too Christ our Lord Himself teaches us,
at one time calling Himself Son of God and at another Son of man: at one
time He gives honour to His Mother as to her that gave Him birth; at
another He rebukes her as her Lord? At one time He finds no fault with them
that style Him Son of David; at another He teaches the ignorant that He is
not only David's Son but also David's Lord. He calls Nazareth and
Capernaum His country, and again He exclaims "Before Abraham was I
am." You will find the divine Scripture full of similar passages, and
they all point not to one nature but to two.
Eran.--He who contemplates two natures in the Christ divides the one
only begotten into two sons.
Orth.--Yes; and he who says Paul is made up of soul and body makes two
Pauls out of one.
Eran.--The analogy does not hold good.
Orth.--I know it does not, for here the union is a natural union of
parts that are coaeval, created, and fellow slaves, but in the case of the
Lord Christ all is of good will, of love to man, and of grace. Here too,
though the union is natural, the proper qualities of the natures remain
Eran.--If the proper qualities of the natures remain distinct, how does
the soul together with the body crave for food?
Orth.--The soul does not crave for food. How could it when it is
immortal? But the body, which derives its vital force from the soul, feels
its need, and desires to receive what is lacking. So after toil it long,
for rest, after waking for sleep, and so with the rest of its desires. So
forthwith after its dissolution, since it has no longer its vital energy,
it does not even crave for what is lacking, and, ceasing to receive it, it
Eran.--You see that to thirst and to hunger and similar appetites
belong to the soul.
Orth.--Did these belong to the soul it would suffer hunger and thirst,
and the similar wants, even after its release from the body.
Eran.--What then do you say to be proper to the soul?
Orth.--The reasonable, the absolute, the immortal, the invisible.
Eran.--And what of the body?
Orth.--The complex, the visible, the mortal.
Eran.--And we say that man is composed of these?
Eran.--Then we define man as a mortal reasonable being.
Eran.--And we give names to him from both these attributes.
Eran.--As then in this case we make no distinction, but call the same
man both reasonable and mortal, so also should we do in the case of the
Christ, and apply to Him both the divine and the human.
Orth.--This is our argument, although you do not accurately express it.
For look you. When we are pursuing the argument about the human soul, do we
only mention what is appropriate to its energy and nature?
Orth.--And when our discussion is about the body, do we not only recall
what is appropriate to it?
Orth.--But, when our discourse touches the whole being, then we have no
difficulty in adducing both sets of qualities, for the properties both of
the body and of the soul are applicable to man.
Orth.--Well; just in this way should we speak of the Christ, and, when
arguing about His natures, give to each its own, and recognise some as
belonging to the Godhead, and some as to the manhood. But when we are
discussing the Person we must then make what is proper to the natures
common, and apply both sets of qualities to the Saviour, and call the same
Being both God and Man, both Son of God and Son of Man--both David's Son
and David's Lord, both Seed of Abraham and Creator of Abraham, and so on.
Eran.--That the person of the Christ is one, and that both the divine
and the human are attributable to Him, you have quite rightly said, and I
accept this definition of the Faith; but your real position, that in
discussing the natures we must give to each its own properties, seems to me
to dissolve the union. It is for this reason that I object to accept these
and similar arguments.
Orth.--Yet when we were enquiring about soul and body you thought the
distinction of these terms admirable, and forthwith gave it your
approbation. Why then do you refuse to receive the same rule in the case of
the Godhead and manhood of the Lord Christ? Do you go so far as to object
to comparing the Godhead and the manhood of the Christ to soul and body?
So, while you grant an unconfounded union to soul and body, do you venture
to say that the Godhead and manhood of the Christ have undergone commixture
Eran.--I hold the Godhead of the Christ aye, and His flesh too, to be
infinitely higher in honour than soul and body; but after the union I do
assert one nature.
Orth.--But now is it not impious and shocking, while maintaining that a
soul united to a body is in no way subject to confusion, to deny to the
Godhead of the Lord of the universe the power to maintain its own nature
unconfounded or to keep within its proper bounds the humanity which He
assumed? Is it not, I say, impious to mix the distinct, and to commingle
the separate? The idea of one nature gives ground for suspicion of this
Eran.--I am equally anxious to avoid the term confusion, but I shrink
from asserting two natures lest I fall into a dualism of sons.
Orth.--I am equally anxious to escape either horn of the dilemma, both
the impious confusion and the impious distinction; for to me it is alike an
unhallowed thought to split the one Son in two and to gainsay the duality
of the natures. But now in truth's name tell me. Were one of the faction of
Arius or Eunomius to endeavour, while disputing with you, to belittle the
Son, and to describe Him as less than and inferior to the Father, by the
help of all their familiar arguments and citations from the divine
Scripture of the text "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from
me" and that other, "Now is my soul troubled" and other like
passages, how would you dispose of his objections? How could you show that
the Son is in no way diminished in dignity by these expressions and is not
of another substance, but begotten of the substance of the Father?
Eran.--I should say that the divine Scripture uses some terms according
to the theology and some according to the oeconomy, and that it is wrong to
apply what belongs to the economy to what belongs to the theology.
Orth.--But your opponent would retort that even in the Old Testament
the divine Scripture says many things economically, as for instance, "Adam
heard the voice of the Lord God walking," and "I will go down now and
see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it which has
come to me; and if not I will know," and again, "Now I know that thou
fearest God" and the like.
Eran.--I might answer to this that there is a great distinction between
the oeconomies. In the Old Testament there is an oeconomy of words; in the
New Testament of deeds.
Orth.--Then your opponent would ask of what deeds?
Eran.--He shall straightway hear of the deeds of the making flesh. For
the Son of God on being made man both in word and deed at one time exhibits
the flesh, at another the Godhead: as of course, in the passage quoted, He
shews the weakness of the flesh and of the soul, the sense namely of fear.
Orth.--But if he were to go on to say, "But he did not take a soul but
only a body; for the Godhead instead of a soul being united to the body
performed all the functions of the soul," with what arguments could you
meet his objections?
Eran.--I could bring proofs from the divine Scripture shewing how God
the Word took not only flesh but also soul.
Orth.--And what proofs of this shall we find in Sripture?
Eran.--Have you not heard the Lord saying "I have power to lay it down,
and I have power to take it again. ... I lay it down of myself that I might
take it a again." And again, "Now is my soul troubled." And again,
"My soul is exceeding sorrowful even unto deaths" and again David's
words as interpreted by Peter "His soul was not left in hell neither did
His flesh see corruption." These and similar passages clearly point out
that God the Word assumed not only a body but also a soul.
Orth.--You have quoted this testimony most appositely and properly, but
your opponent might reply that even before the incarnation God said to the
Jews, "Fasting and holy day and feasts my soul hateth." Then he might go
on to argue that as in the Old Testament He mentioned a soul, though He had
not a soul, so He does in the New.
Eran.--But he shall be told again how the divine Scripture, when
speaking of God, mentions even parts of the body as "Incline thine ear and
hear" and "Open thine eyes and see" and "The mouth of the Lord hath
spoken it" and "Thy hands have made me and fashioned me" and
countless other passages.
If then after the incarnation we are forbidden to understand soul to
mean sold, it is equally forbidden to hold body to mean body. Thus the
great mystery of the oeconomy will be found to be mere imagination; and we
shall in no way differ from Marcion, Valentinus and Manes, the inventors of
all these figments.
Orth.--But if a follower of Apollinarius were suddenly to intervene in
our discussion and were to ask "Most excellent Sir; what kind of soul do
you say that Christ assumed?" what would you answer?
Eran.--should first of all say that I know only one soul of man; then I
should answer, "But if you reckon two souls, the one reasonable and the
other without reason, I say that the soul assumed was the reasonable. Yours
it seems is the unreasonable, inasmuch as you think that our salvation was
Orth.--But suppose he were to ask for proof of what you say?
Eran.--I could very easily give it. I shall quote the oracles of the
Evangelists "The Child Jesus grew anti waxed strong in spirit and the grace
of God was upon him" and again "Jesus increased in wisdom and in
stature and in favour with God and men." I should say that these have
nothing to do with Godhead for the body increased in stature, and in wisdom
the soul--not that which is without reason, but the reasonable. God the
Word then took on Him a reasonable soul.
Orth.--Good Sir, you have bravely broken through the three fold phalanx
of your foes; but that union, and the famous commixture and confusion, not
in two ways only but in three, you have scattered and undone; and not only
have you pointed out the distinction between Godhead and manhood, but you
have in two ways distinguished the manhood by pointing out that the soul is
one thing and the body another, so that no longer two, according to our
argument, but three natures of our Saviour Jesus Christ may be understood.
Eran.--Yes; for did not you say that there is another substance of the
soul besides the nature of the body?
Eran.--How then does the argument seem absurd to you?
Orth.--Because while you object to two, yon have admitted three
Eran.--The contest with our antagonists compels us to this, for how
could any one in any other way argue against those who deny the assumption
of the flesh, or of the soul, or of the mind, but by adducing proofs on
these points from the divine Scripture? And how could any one confute them
who in their readiness strive to belittle the Godhead of the only Begotten
but by pointing out that the divine Scripture speaks sometimes
theologically and sometimes oeconomically.
Orth.--What you now say is true. It is what I, nay what all say, who
keep whole the apostolic rule. You yourself bare become a supporter of our
Eran.--How do I support yours, while I refuse to acknowledge two sons?
Orth.--When did you ever hear of our affirming two sons?
Eran.--He who asserts two natures asserts two sons.
Orth.--Then you assert three sons, for you have spoken of three
Eran.--In no other way was it possible to meet the argument of my
Orth.--Hear this same thing from us too; for both you and I confront
the same antagonists.
Eran.--But I do not assert two natures after the union.
Orth.--And yet after many generations of the union a moment ago you
used the same words. Explain to us however in what sense you assert one
nature after the union. Do you mean one nature derived from both or that
one nature remains after the destruction of the other?
Eran.--I maintain that the Godhead remains and that the manhood was
swallowed up by it.
Orth.--Fables of the Gentiles, all this, and follies of the Manichees.
I am ashamed so much as to mention such things. The Greeks had their gods'
swallowings and the Manichees wrote of the daughter of light. But we
reject such teaching as being as absurd as it is impious, for how could a
nature absolute and uncompounded, comprehending the universe,
unapproachable and infinite, have absorbed the nature which it assumed?
Eran.--Like the sea receiving a drop of honey, for straightway the
drop, as it mingles with the ocean's water, disappears.
Orth.--The sea and the drop are different in quantity, though alike in
quality; the one is greatest, the other is least; the one is sweet and the
other is bitter; but in all other respects you will find a very close
relationship. The nature of both is moist, liquid, and fluid. Both are
created. Both are lifeless yet each alike is called a body. There is
nothing then absurd in these cognate natures undergoing commixture, and in
the one being made to disappear by the other. In the case before us on the
contrary the difference is infinite, and so great that no figure of the
reality can be found. I will however endeavour to point out to you several
instances of substances which are mixed without being confounded, and
Eran.--Who in the world ever heard of an unmixed mixture?
Orth.--I shall endeavour to make you admit this.
Eran.--Should what you are about to advance prove true we will not
oppose the truth.
Orth.--Answer then, dissenting or assenting as the argument may seem
good to you.
Eran.--I will answer.
Orth.--Does the light at its rising seem to you to fill all the
atmosphere except where men shut up in caverns might remain bereft of it?
Orth.--And does all the light seem to you to be diffused through all
Eran.--I am with you so far.
Orth.--And is not the mixture diffused through all that is subject to
Orth.--But, now, this illuminated atmosphere, do we not see it as light
and call it light?
Orth.--And yet when the light is present we sometimes are aware of
moisture and aridity; frequently of heat and cold.
Orth.--And after the departure of the light the atmosphere afterwards
remains alone by itself.
Orth.--Consider this example too. When iron is brought in contact with
fire it is fired.
Orth.--And the fire is diffused through its whole substance?
Orth.--How, then, does not the complete union, and the mixture
universally diffused, change the iron's nature?
Eran.--But it changes it altogether. It is now reckoned no longer as
iron, but as fire, and indeed it has the active properties of fire.
Orth.--But does not the smith call it iron, and put it on the anvil and
smite it with his hammer?
Orth.--Then the nature of the iron was not damaged by contact with the
fire. If then, in natural bodies, instances may be found of an unconfounded
mixture, it is sheer folly in the case of the nature which knows neither
corruption nor change to entertain the idea of confusion and destruction of
the assumed nature, and all the more so when this nature was assumed to
bring blessing on the race.
Eran.--What I assert is not the destruction of the assumed nature, but
its change into the substance of Godhead.
Orth.--Then the human race is no longer limited as heretofore?
Orth.--When did it undergo this change?
Eran.--After the complete union.
Orth.--And what date do you assign to this?
Eran.--I have said again and again, that of the conception.
Orth.--Yet after the conception He was an unborn babe in the womb;
after His birth. He was a babe and was called a babe, and was worshipped
by shepherds, and in like manner became a boy, and was so called by the
angel. Do you acknowledge all this? or do you think I am inventing
Eran.--This is taught in the history of the divine gospels, and cannot
Orth.--Now let us investigate what follows. We acknowledge, do we not,
that the Lord was circumcised?
Orth.--Of what was there a circumcision? Of flesh or Godhead?
Eran.--Of the flesh.
Orth.--Of what was then the growth and increase in wisdom and stature?
Eran.--This, of course, is not applicable to Godhead.
Orth.--Nor hunger and thirst?
Orth.--Nor walking about, and being weary, and failing asleep?
Orth.--If then the union took place at the conception, and all these
things came to pass after the conception and the birth, then, after the
union, the manhood did not lose its own nature.
Eran.--I have not stated my meaning exactly. It was after the
resurrection from the dead that the flesh underwent the change into
Orth.--Then, after the resurrection, nothing of all that indicates its
nature remained in it?
Eran.--If it remained, the divine change did not take place.
Orth.--How then was it that He shewed His hands and His feet to the
disciples who disbelieved?
Eran.--Just as He came in when the doors were shut.
Orth.--But He came in when the doors were shut just as He came out from
the womb, though the virgin's bolts and bars were undrawn, and just as He
walked upon the sea. Then according to your argument not even yet had the
change of nature taken place?
Eran.--The Lord shewed His hands to the Apostles in the same way as He
wrestled with Jacob.
Orth.--No; the Lord does not allow us to understand it in this sense.
The disciples thought they saw a spirit, but the Lord dispelled this idea,
and shewed the nature of the flesh, for He said "Why are ye troubled? and
why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it
is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as
ye see me have." And observe the exactness of the language. He does not
say "is not flesh and bones," but "has not flesh and bones," in order to
point out that the nature of the possessor and the nature of that which is
possessed are distinct and separate. Just in the same way that which took
and that which was taken are separate and distinct, and the Christ is
beheld made one of both. Thus the part possessing is entirely different
from the part possessed; and yet does not divide into two persons Him who
is an object of thought in them. The Lord, indeed, while the disciples were
still in doubt, asked for food and took and ate it, not consuming the food
only in appearance, nor satisfying to the need of the body.
Eran.--But one of these alternatives must be accepted; either He
partook because He needed, or else, needing not, He seemed to eat, and did
not really partake of food.
Orth.--His body now become immortal required no food. Of them that rise
the Lord says: "they neither marry nor are given in marriage but are as
Angels." The apostles however bear witness that He partook of the food,
for the blessed Luke in the preface to the Acts says "being assembled
together with the apostles the Lord commanded them that they should not
depart from Jerusalem" and the very divine Peter says more distinctly:
"Who did eat and drink with Him after He rose from the dead." For since
eating is proper to them that live this present life, of necessity the Lord
by means of eating and drinking proved the resurrection of the flesh to
them that did not acknowledge it to be real. This same course He pursued in
the case of Lazarus and of Jairus' daughter. For when He had raised up the
latter He ordered that something should be given her to eat and He made
Lazarus sit with Him at the table and so shewed the reality of the
Eran.--If we grant that the Lord really ate, let us grant that after
the resurrection all men partake of food.
Orth.--What was done by the Saviour through a certain oeconomy is not a
rule and law of nature. This follows from the fact that He did other things
by oeconomy which shall by no means be the lot of them that live again.
Eran.--What do you mean?
Orth.--Will not the bodies of them that rise become incorruptible and
Eran.--So the divine Paul has taught us. "It is sown" he says "in
corruption; it is raised in incorruption; it is sown in dishonour; it is
raised in glory; it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power; it is sown
a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body."
Orth.--But the Lord, who raises the bodies of all men, unmaimed and
unmarred (for lameness of limb and blindness of eye are unknown among them
that are risen), left in His own body the prints of the nails, and the
wound in His side, whereof are witnesses both the Lord Himself and the hand
Orth.--If then after the resurrection the Lord both partook of food,
and shewed His hands and His feet to His disciples, and in them the prints
of the nails, and His side with the mark of the wound in it, and said to
them, "Handle me and see for a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see me
have" it follows that after His resurrection the nature of His body was
preserved and was not changed into another substance.
Eran.--Then after the resurrection it is mortal and subject to
Orth.--By no means; it is incorruptible, impassible, and immortal.
Eran.--If it is incorruptible, impassible, and immortal, it has been
changed into another nature.
Orth.--Therefore the bodies of all men will be changed into another
substance, for all will be incorruptible and immortal. Or have you not
heard the words of the Apostle, "For this corruptible must put on
incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality"?
Eran.--I have heard.
Orth.--Therefore the nature remains, but its corruption is changed into
incorruption, and its mortal into immortality. But let us look at the
matter in this way; we call a body that is sick and a body that is whole,
in the same way, a body.
Eran.--Since both partake of the same substance.
Orth.--Yet we see in them a very great difference, for the one is
whole, perfect, and unhurt; the other has either lost an eye, or has a
broken leg, or has undergone some other suffering.
Eran.-- But to the same nature belong both health and sickness.
Orth.--So the body is called substance; disease and health are called
Eran.--Of course. For these things are accidents of the body, and again
cease to be so.
Orth.--In the same way corruption and death must be called accidents,
and not substances, for they too are accidents and cease to be so.
Orth.--So the body of the Lord rose incorruptible, impassible, and
immortal, and is worshipped by the powers of heaven, and is yet a body
having its former limitation.
Eran.--In these points you seem to say sooth, but after its assumption
into heaven I do not think that you will deny that it was changed into the
nature of Godhead.
Orth.--I would not so say persuaded only by human arguments, for I am
not so rash as to say anything concerning which divine Scripture is silent.
But I have heard the divine Paul exclaiming "God hath appointed a day in
the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom He hath
ordained whereof He hath given assurance unto all men in that He hath
raised Him from the dead," and I have learnt from the holy Angels that
He will come in like manner as the disciples saw Him going into heaven.
Now they saw His nature not unlimited. For I have heard the words of the
Lord, "Ye shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven," and
I acknowledge that what is seen of men is limited, for the unlimited nature
is invisible. Furthermore to sit upon a throne of glory and to set the
lambs upon the right and the kids upon the left indicates limitation.
Eran.--Then He was not unlimited even before the incarnation, for the
prophet saw Him surrounded by the Seraphim.
Orth.--The prophet did not see the substance of God, but a certain
appearance accommodated to his capacity. After the resurrection, however,
all the world will see the very visible nature of the judge.
Eran.--You promised that you would adduce no argument without evidence,
but you are introducing arguments adapted to us.
Orth.--I have learnt these things from he divine Scripture. I have
heard the words of the prophet Zechariah "They shall look on Him whom they
pierced,' and how shall the event follow the prophecy unless the
crucifiers recognise the nature which they crucified? And I have heard the
cry of the victorious martyr Stephen, "Behold I see the heavens opened and
the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God," and he saw the
visible, not the invisible nature.
Eran.--These things are thus written, but I do not think that you will
be able to show that the body, after the ascension into heaven, is called
body by the inspired writers.
Orth.--What has been already said indicates the body perfectly plainly;
for what is seen is a body; but I will nevertheless point out to you that
even after the assumption the body of the Lord is called a body. Hear the
teaching of the Apostle, "For our conversation is in Heaven from whence
also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus, who shall change our vile
body that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body." It was not
changed into another nature, but remained a body, full however of divine
glory, and sending forth beams of light. The bodies of the saints shall be
fashioned like unto it. But if it was changed into another nature, their
bodies will be likewise changed, for they shall be fashioned like unto it.
But if the bodies of the saints preserve the character of their nature,
then also the body of the Lord in like manner keeps its own nature
Eran.--Then will the bodies of the saints be equal with the body of the
Orth.--In its incorruption and its immortality they too will share.
Moreover in its glory they will participate, as says the Apostle, "If so be
that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together." It is
in quantity that the vast difference may be found, a difference as great as
between sun and stars, or rather between master and slaves, and that which
gives and that which receives light. Yet has He given a share of His own
name to His servants and as He is Light, calls His saints light, for "Ye,"
He says, "are the Light of the world," and being named servants and
being named "Sun of Righteousness" He says of his servants "Then shall
the righteous shine forth as the Sun." It is therefore according to
quality, not according to quantity, that the bodies of the saints shall be
fashioned like unto the body of the Lord. Now I have shewn you plainly what
you bade me. Further, if you please, let us look at the matter in yet
Eran.--One ought "to stir every stone," as the proverb says, to get
at the truth; above all when it is a question of divine doctrines.
Orth.--Tell me now; the mystic symbols which are offered to God by them
who perform priestly rites, of what are they symbols?
Eran.--Of the body and blood of the Lord.
Orth.--Of the real body or not?
Orth.--Good. For there must be the archetype of the image. So painters
imitate nature and paint the images of visible objects.
Orth.--If, then, the divine mysteries are antitypes of the real
body, therefore even now the body of the Lord is a body, not changed
into nature of Godhead, but filled with divine glory.
Eran.--You have opportunely introduced the subject of the divine
mysteries for from it I shall be able to show you the change of the Lord's
body into another nature. Answer now to my questions.
Orth.--I will answer.
Eran.--What do you call the gift which is offered before the priestly
Orth.--It were wrong to say openly; perhaps some uninitiated are
Eran.--Let your answer be put enigmatically.
Orth.--Food of grain of such a sort.
Eran.--And how name we the other symbol?
Orth.--This name too is common, signifying species of drink.
Eran.--And after the consecration how do you name these?
Orth.--Christ's body and Christ's blood.
Eran.--And do yon believe that you partake of Christ's body and blood?
Eran.--As, then, the symbols of the Lord's body and blood are one thing
before the priestly invocation, and after the invocation are changed and
become another thing; so the Lord's body after the assumption is changed
into the divine substance.
Orth.--You are caught in the net you have woven yourself. For even
after the consecration the mystic symbols are not deprived of their own
nature; they remain in their former substance figure and form; they are
visible and tangible as they were before. But they are regarded as what
they are become, and believed so to be, and are worshipped as being what
they are believed to be. Compare then the image with the archetype, and you
will see the likeness, for the type must be like the reality. For that body
preserves its former form, figure, and limitation and in a word the
substance of the body; but after the resurrection it has become immortal
and superior to corruption; it has become worthy of a seat on the right
hand; it is adored by every creature as being called the natural body of
Eran.--Yes; and the mystic symbol changes its former appellation; it is
no longer called by the name it went by before, but is styled body. So must
the reality be called God, and not body.
Orth.--You seem to me to be ignorant--for He is called not only body
but even bread of life. So the Lord Himself used this name' and that very
body we call divine body, and giver of life, and of the Master and of the
Lord, teaching that it is not common to every man but belongs to our Lord
Jesus Christ Who is God and Man. "For Jesus Christ" is "the same yesterday,
to-day, and forever."
Eran.--You have said a great deal about this, but I follow the saints
who have shone of old in the Chruch; show me then, if you can, these in
their writings dividing the natures after the union.
Orth.--I will read you their works, and I am sure you will be
astonished at the countless mentions of the distinction which in their
struggle against impious heretics they have inserted in their writings.
Hear now those whose testimony I have already adduced speaking openly and
distinctly on these points.
Testimony of the holy Ignatius, bishop of Antioch, and martyr:--
From the Epistle to the Smyrnaeans: "I acknowledge and believe Him
after His resurrection to be existent in the flesh: and when He came to hem
that were with Peter He said to them 'Take; handle me and see, for I am not
a bodiless daemon .' And straightway they took hold of him and
Of the same from the same epistle:--
"And after His Resurrection He ate with them, and drank with them, as
being of the flesh, although He was spiritually one with the Father."
Testimony of Irenaeus, the ancient bishop of Lyons; --
From the third Book of his work "Against Heresies." (Chap. XX.)
"As we have said before, He united man to God. For had not a man
vanquished man's adversary, the enemy would not have been vanquished a
right; and again, had not God granted the boon of salvation we should not
have possessed it in security. And had not man been united to God, he could
not have shared in the incorruption. For it behoved the mediator of God and
men, by means of His close kinship to either, to bring them both into
friendship and unanimity, and to set man close to God and to make God known
Of the same from the third book of the same treatise (Chapter XVIII):--
"So again in his Epistle he says 'Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the
Christ is born of God,' recognising one and the same Jesus Christ to
whom the gates of heaven were opened, on account of His assumption in the
flesh. Who in the same flesh in which He also suffered shall come revealing
the glory of the Father."
Of the same from the fourth book (Chapter VII):--
"As Isaiah saith 'He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root.
Israel shall blossom and bud and fill the face of the world with fruit.'
So his fruit being scattered through the whole world, they, who erst
brought forth good fruit (for of them was produced the Christ in the flesh
and the apostles) were abandoned and removed. And now they are no longer
fit for bringing forth fruit."
Of the same from the same book (Chapter LIX):--
"And be judges also them of Ebion. How can they be saved unless it
was God who wrought their salvation on earth, or how shall man come to God
unless God came to man?"
Of the same from the same book (Chapter LXIV):--
"They who preach that Emmanuel was of the Virgin set forth the union of
God the Word with His creature."
Of the same from the same treatise (Book V. Chap. I.):--
"Now these things came to pass not in seeming but in essential truth,
for if He appeared to be man though He was not man then the Spirit of God
did not continue to be what in truth It is; for the Spirit is invisible;
nor was there any truth in Him, for He was not what He appeared to be. And
we have said before that Abraham and the rest of the prophets beheld Him in
prophecy prophesying what was destined to come to pass in actual sight. If
then now too He appeared to be of such a character, though in reality He
was not what He appeared, then a kind of prophetic vision would have been
given to men, and we must still look for yet another advent in which He
will really be what He is now seen to be in prophecy. Now we have
demonstrated that there is no difference between the statements that He
only appeared in seeming and that He took nothing from Mary, for He did not
really even possess flesh and blood whereby He redeemed us, unless He
renewed in Himself the old creation of Adam. The sect of Valentinus are
therefore vain in teaching thus that they may cast out the life of the
Testimony of the holy Hippolytus, bishop and martyr, from his work on
the distribution of the talents:--
"Any one might say that these and those who uphold otherwise are
neighbours, erring as they do in the same manner, for even they either
confess that the Christ appeared in life as mere man, denying the talent of
His Godhead, or else acknowledging Him as God, on the other hand they deny
the man, representing that He deluded the sight of them that beheld Him by
unreal appearances; and that He wore manhood not as a Man but was rather a
mere imaginary semblance, as Marcion and Valentinus and the Gnostics teach,
wrenching away the Word from the flesh, and rejecting the one talent, the
Of the same from his letter to a certain Queen:--
"He calls Him 'the first fruits of them that sleep,' as being 'the
first born from the dead,' and He, after His resurrection, wishing to
show that that which was risen was the same as that which had undergone
death when the disciples were doubting, called Thomas to Him, and said,
'Come hither handle me and see for a spirit hath not flesh and blood as ye
see me have.' "
Of the same from his discourse on Elkanah and Hannah: --
"Wherefore three seasons of the year typified the Saviour Himself that
He might fulfil the mysteries predicted about Him. In the Passover, that He
might shew Himself as the sheep doomed to be sacrificed anti shew a true
Passover as says the Apostle. 'Christ, God, our Passover was sacrificed
for us.' At Pentecost that He might announce the kingdom of heaven
ascending Himself first into heaven and offering to God man as a gift."
Of the same from his work on the great Psalm:--
"He who drew from the nethermost hell man first formed of the earth
When lost and held fast in bonds of death; He who came down from above and
lifted up him that was down; He who became Evangelist of the dead, ransomer
of souls anti resurrection of them that were entombed; this was He who
became succourer of vanquished man in Himself, like man firstborn Word;
visiting the first formed Adam in the Virgin; the spiritual seeking the
earthy in the womb; the ever-living him who by disobedience died; the
heavenly calling the earthly to the world above, the highborn meaning to
make the slave free by His own obedience; He who turned to adamant man
crumbled into dust anti made serpents' meat; He who made man hanging on a
tree of wood Lord over him who had conquered Him and so by a tree of wood
is proved victorious."
Of the same from the same book:--
"They who do not now recognise the Son of God in the flesh will one day
recognise Him when He comes as judge in glory, though now in an inglorious
body suffering wrong."
Of the same from the same book:--
"Moreover the apostles when they had come to the sepulchre on the third
day did not find the body of Jesus, just as the children of Israel went up
on the mountain, and could not find the tomb of Moses."
Of the same from his interpretation of Psalm II.:--
"When He had come into the world He was manifested as God and Man. His
manhood is easy of perception because He is ahungered and aweary, in toil
He is athirst in fear He flees, in prayer He grieves; He falls asleep
upon a pillow, He prays that the cup of suffering may pass from Him, being
in an agony He sweats, He is strengthened by an angel, betrayed by Judas,
dishonoured by Caiaphas, set at nought by Herod, scourged by Pilate, mocked
by soldiers, nailed to a cross by Jews, He commends His spirit to the
Father with a cry, He leans His head as He breathes His last, He is pierced
in the side with a spear and rolled in fine linen, is laid in a tomb, and
on the third day He is raised by the Father. No less plainly may His
divinity be seen when He is worshipped by angels, gazed on by shepherds,
waited for by Simeon, testified to by Anna, sought out by Magi, pointed out
by a Star, at the wedding feast makes water wine, rebukes the sea astir by
force of winds, and on the same sea walks, makes a man blind from birth
see, raises Lazarus who had been four days dead, works many and various
wonders, remits sins and gives power to His disciples."
Of the same from his work on Psalm XXIV.:--
"He comes to the heavenly gates, angels travel with Him and the gates
of the heavens are shut. For He hath not yet ascended into heaven. Now
first to the heavenly powers flesh appears ascending. The Word then goes
forth to the powers from the angels that speed before the Lord and Saviour,
'Lift the Gates ye princes and be ye lift up ye everlasting doors and the
King of glory shall come in.'"
Testimony of the holy Eustathius, bishop of Antioch and confessor.
From his work on The Titles of the Psalms:--
"He predicted that He would sit upon a holy throne, shewing that He has
been set forth on the same throne as the divine Spirit on account of the
God that dwells in Him continually."
Of the same from his work upon the Soul:--
"Before His passion in each case He predicted His bodily death, saying
that He would be betrayed to the father of the High Priest, and announcing
the trophy of the Cross. And after the passion, when He had risen on the
third day from the dead, His disciples being in doubt as to His
resurrection, He appeared to them in His very body and confessed that He
had complete flesh and bones, submitting to their sight His wounded side
and shewing them the prints of the nails."
Of the same from his discourse on "The Lord formed me in the beginning
of His ways:--
"Paul did not say 'conformed to the Son of God' but 'conformed to the
image of His Son ' in order to point out a distinction between the Son
and His image, for the Son, wearing the divine tokens of His Father's
Excellence, is an image of His Father; for since like are generated of
like, offspring appear as very images of their parents, but the manhood
which He wore is an image of the Son, as images even of different colours
are painted on wax, some being wrought by hand and some by nature and
likeness. Moreover the very law of truth announces this, for the bodiless
spirit of wisdom is not conformed to bodily men, but the express image
made man by the spirit bearing the same number of members with all the
rest, and clad in similar form."
Of the same from the same work:--
"That he speaks of the body as conformed to those of men he teaches
more clearly in his Epistle to the Philippians, 'our conversation' he says
'is in Heaven from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus
Christ, who shall change our vile body that it may be fashioned like unto
His glorious body.' And if by changing the form of the vile body of men
He fashions it like unto His own body, then the false teaching of our
opponents is shewn to be in every way worthless."
Of the same from the same work:--
"But as being born of the Virgin He is said to have been made man of
the woman, so He is described as being made under the law because of His
sometimes walking by the precepts of the law, as for instance when His
parents zealously urged His circumcision, when He was a child eight days
old, as relates the evangelist Luke, afterwards 'they brought Him to
present Him to the Lord,' 'bringing the offerings of purification' 'to
offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord a
pair of turtle doves or two young pigeons.' As then the gifts of
purification were offered on His behalf according to the law, and He
underwent circumcision on the eighth day, the Apostle very properly writes
that He was thus brought under the law. Not indeed that the Word was
subject to the law, (as our calumnious opponents suppose) being Himself the
law, nor did God, who by one breath can cleanse and hallow all things, need
sacrifices of purification. But He took from the Virgin the members of a
man and became subject to the law and was purified according to the rite of
the firstborn, not because He submitted to this treatment from any need on
His part of such observance, but in order that He might redeem from the
slavery of the law them that were sold to the doom of the curse."
Testimony of the holy Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria.
From his Second Discourse against heresies: --
"We should not have been redeemed from sin and the curse had not the
flesh which the Word wore been by nature that of man, for we should have
had nothing in common with that which was not our own; just so man would
not have been made God, had not the Word which was made flesh been by
nature of the Father and verily and properly His. And the combination is of
this character that to the natural God may be joined the natural man, and
so his salvation and deification be secure. Therefore let them that derby
Him to be naturally of the Father, and own Son of His substance, deny too
that He took very flesh of man from the Virgin Mary."
Of the same from his Epistle to Epictetus:--
"If on account of the Saviour's Body being, and being described in the
Scriptures as being, derived from Mary, and a human Body, they fancy that a
quaternity is substituted for a Trinity, as though some addition were made
by the body, they are quite wrong; they put the creature on a par with the
Creator, and suppose that the Godhead is capable of being added to. They
fall to see that the Word was not made flesh on account of any addition to
Godhead, but that the flesh may rise. Not for the aggrandisement of the
Word did He come forth from Mary, but that the human race may be redeemed.
How can they think that the body ransomed and quickened by the Word can add
anything in the way of Godhead to the Word that quickened it?"
Of the same from the same Epistle:--
"Let them be told that if the Word had been a creature, the creature
would not have assumed a body to quicken it. For what help can creatures
get from a creature standing itself in need of salvation? But the Word,
Himself Creator, was made maker of created things, and therefore in the
fulness of the ages He attached the creature to Himself, that once more as
a Creator He might renew it, and might be able to create it afresh."
From the longer Discourse "De Fide":--
"This also we add concerning the words 'Sit thou on my right hand,'
that they are said of the Lord's body. For if 'the Lord saith, do not I
fill heaven and earth,' as says Jeremiah, and God contains all things,
and is contained of none, on what kind of throne does He sit? It is
therefore the body to which He says 'Sit thou on my right hand,' of which
too the devil with his wicked powers was foe, and Jews and Gentiles too.
Through this body too He was made and was called High Priest and Apostle
through the mystery whereof He gave to us, saying 'This as my Body for
you' and 'my Blood of the New Testament' (not of the Old), shed for you
.' Now Godhead hath neither body nor blood; but the manhood which He
bore of Mary was the cause of them, of whom the Apostles said 'Jesus of
Nazareth, a man approved of God among you.'"
Of the same from his book against the Arians:--
"And when he says 'Wherefore God hath also highly exalted Him and given
Him a name which is above every name' he speaks of the temple of the
body, not of the Godhead, for the Most High is not exalted, but the flesh
of the Most High is exalted, and to the flesh of the Most High He gave a
name which is above every name. Nor did the Word of God receive the
designation of God as a favour, but His flesh was held divine as well as
Of the same from the same work:--
"And when he says 'the Holy Ghost was not yet because that Jesus was
not yet glorified,' he says that His flesh was not yet glorified, for
the Lord of glory is not glorified, but the flesh itself receives glory of
the glory of the Lord as it mounts with Him into Heaven; whence he says the
spirit of adoption was not yet among men, because the first fruits taken
from men had not yet ascended into heaven. Wherever then the Scripture says
that the Son received and was glorified, it speaks because of His manhood,
not His Godhead."
Of the same from the same work:--
"So that He is very God both before His being made man and after His
being made mediator of God and men, Jesus Christ united to the Father in
spirit, and to us in flesh, who mediated between God and men, and who is
not only man but also God."
Testimony of the Holy Ambrosius, bishop of Milan.
In his Exposition of the Faith:--
"We confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God,
was begotten before all ages, without beginning, of the Father, and that in
these last days the same was made flesh of the holy Virgin Mary, assumed
the manhood, in its perfection, of a reasonable soul and body, of one
substance with the Father as touching His Godhead and of one substance with
us as touching His manhood. For union of two perfect natures hath been
after an ineffable manner. Wherefore we acknowledge one Christ, one Son,
our Lord Jesus Christ; knowing that being co-eternal with His own Father as
touching His Godhead, by virtue of which also He is creator of all, He
deigned, after the assent of the Holy Virgin, when she said to the angel
'Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it unto me according to thy word'(1)
to build after an ineffable fashion a temple out of her for Himself, and to
unite this temple to Himself by her conception, not taking and uniting with
Himself a body co-eternal with His own substance, and brought from heaven,
but of the matter of our substance, that is of the Virgin. God the Word was
not turned into flesh; His appearance was not unreal; keeping ever His own
substance immutably and invariably He took the first fruits of our nature,
and united them to Himself. God the Word did not take His beginning from
the Virgin, but being coeternal with His own Father He of infinite kindness
deigned to unite to Himself the first fruits of our nature, undergoing no
mixture but in either substance appearing one and the same, as it is
written 'Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.'(2) For
the divine Christ, as touching my substance which he took is destroyed, and
the same Christ raises the destroyed temple as touching the divine
substance in which also He is Creator of all things. Never at any time
after the Union which He deigned to make with Himself from the moment of
the conception did He depart from His own temple, nor indeed through His
ineffable love for mankind could depart.
"The same Christ is both passible and impassible; as touching His
manhood passible and as touching His Godhead impassible. 'Behold behold me,
it is I, I have undergone no change'--and when God the Word had raised His
own temple and in it had wrought out the resurrection and renewal of our
nature, He shewed this nature to His disciples and said 'Handle me and see
for a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see me,' not 'be' but
'have.'(1) So He says, referring to both the possessor and the possessed in
order that you may perceive that what had taken place was not mixture, not
change, not variation, but union. On this account too He shewed the prints
of the nails and the wound of the spear and ate before His disciples to
convince them by every means that the resurrection of our nature had been
renewed in Him; and further because in accordance with the blessed
substance of His Godhead unchanged, impassible, immortal, He lived in need
of nought, He by concession permitted all that can be felt to be brought to
His own temple, and by His own power raised it up, and by means of His own
temple made perfect the renewal of our nature.
"Them therefore that assert that the Christ was mere man, that God the
Word was passible, or changed into flesh, or that the body which He had was
consubstantial, or that He brought it from Heaven, or that it was an
unreality; or assert that God the Word being mortal needed to receive His
resurrection from the Father, or that the body which He assumed was without
a soul, or manhood without a mind, or that the two natures of the Christ
became one nature by confusion and commixture; them that deny that our Lord
Jesus Christ was two natures unconfounded, but one person, as He is one
Christ and one Son, all these the catholic and apostolic Church condemns."
Of the same:(2)--
"If then the flesh of all was in Christ or hath been in Christ snbject
to wrongs, how can it be held to be of one essence with the Godhead? For if
the Word and the flesh which derives its nature from earth are of one
essence. then the Word and the soul which He took in its perfection are of
one essence, for the Word is of one nature with God both according to the
Word of the Father, and the confession of the Son Himself in the words, 'I
and my Father are one.'(3) Thus the Father must be held to be of the same
substance with the body. Why any longer are ye wroth with the Arians, who
say that the Son is a creature of God, while you assert yourselves that the
Father is of one substance with His creatures?"
Of the same from his letter to the Emperor Gratianus:(1)--
"Let us preserve a distinction between Godhead and flesh. One Son of
God speaks in both, since in Him both natures exist. The same Christ
speaks, yet not always in the same but sometimes in a different manner.
Observe how at one time He expresses divine glory and at another human
feeling. As God He utters the things of God, since He is the Word; as man
He speaks with humility because He converses in my essence."
On the same from the same book:(2)--
"As to the passage where we read that the Lord of glory was
crucified,(3) let us not suppose that He was crucified in His own glory.
But since He is both God and man, as touching His Godhead God, and as
touching the assumption of the flesh, a man, Jesus Christ, the Lord of
Glory, is said to have been crucified. For He partakes of either nature--
that is the human and the divine. In the nature of manhood He underwent the
passion in order that He who suffered might be said to be without
distinction both Lord of Glory and Son of Man. As it is written 'He that
came down from Heaven.'"(4)
Similarly of the same:(5)--
"Let then vain questions about words be silent, as it is written, the
kingdom of God is not in 'enticing words' but in 'demonstration of the
spirit.'(6) For there is one Son of God who speaks in both ways, since both
natures exist in Him; but although He Himself speaks He does not speak
always in the same way; for you see in Him at one time God's glory, at
another time man's feeling. As God He utters divine things, being the Word;
as man He utters human things, since in this nature He spoke."
Of the same from his work on the Incarnation of the Lord against the
"But while we are confuting these, another set spring up who assert the
body of the Christ and His godhead to be of one nature. What hell hath
vomited forth so terrible a blasphemy? Really Arians are more tolerable,
whose infidelity, on account of these men, is strengthened, so that with
greater opposition they deny Father, Son and Holy Ghost to be of one
substance, for they did at least endeavour to maintain the Godhead of the
Lord and His flesh to be of one nature."
Of the same (from the same chapter):--
"He has frequently told me that he maintains the exposition of the
Nicene Council, but in that examination our Fathers laid down that the Word
of God, not the flesh, was of one substance with the Father, and they
confessed that the Word came from the substance of the Father but that the
flesh is of the Virgin. Why then do they hold out to us the name of the
Nicene Council, while in reality they are introducing innovations of which
our forefathers never entertained the thought?"
Of the same against Apollinarius:(1)--
"Refuse thou to allow that the body is by nature on a par with the
Godhead. Even though thou believe the body of the Christ to be real and
bring it to the altar for transformation,(2) and fail to distinguish the
nature of the body and of the Godhead we shall say to thee, 'If thou offer
rightly and fail to distinguish rightly, thou sinnest; hold thy peace.'(3)
Distinguish what belongs naturally to us, and what is peculiar to the Word.
For I had not what was naturally His, and He had not what was naturally
mine, but He took what was naturally mine in order to make us partakers of
what was His. And He received this not for confusion but for completion."
Of the same, a little further on: (4)--
"Let them who say that the nature of the Word has been changed into
nature of the body say so no more, lest by the same interpretation the
nature of the Word seem to have been changed into the corruption of sin.
For there is a distinction between what took, and what was taken. Power
came over the Virgin, as in the words of the angel to her, 'The power of
the highest shall overshadow thee.'(5) But what was born was of the body of
the Virgin, and on this account the descent was divine but the conception
human. Therefore the nature of the flesh and of the godhead could not be
The testimony of St. Basil, Bishop of Caesarea.
From his homily on Thanksgiving:--
"Wherefore when He wept over His friend He shewed His participation in
human nature and set us free from two extremes. suffering us neither to
grow over soft in suffering nor to be insensible to pain. As then the Lord
suffered hunger after solid food had been digested, and thirst when the
moisture in His body was exhausted; and was aweary when His nerves and
sinews were strained by His journeying, it was not that His divinity was
weighed down with toil, but that His body showed the wonted symptoms of its
nature. Thus too when He allowed Himself to weep He permitted the flesh to
take is natural course."
From the same against Eunomius:--
"I say that being in the form of God has the same force as being in
God's substance for as to have taken the form of a servant shews our Lord
to have been of the substance of the manhood, so the statement that He was
in the form of God attributes to Him the peculiar qualities of the divine
The testimony of the holy Gregorius, bishop of Nazianzus.
From his discourse De nova dominica:(3)--
"Believe that He will come again at His glorious advent judging quick
and dead,(4) no longer flesh but not without a body."
"In order that He may be seen by them that pierced Him(3) and remain
God without grossness."
Of the same from his Epistle to Cledonius:--
"God and man are two natures, as soul and body are two; but there are
not two sons, nor yet are there here two men although Paul thus speaks of
the outward man and the inward man.(6) In a word the sources of the
Saviour's being are of two kinds, since the visible is distinct from the
invisible and the timeless from that which is of time, but He is not two
beings. God forbid."
Of the same from the same Exposition to Cledonius:--
"If any one says that the flesh has now been laid aside, and that the
Godhead is bare of body, and that it is not and will not come with that
which was assumed, let him be deprived of the vision of the glory of the
advent! For where is the body now, save with Him that assumed it? For it
assuredly has not been, as the Manichees fable, swallowed up by the Son,
that it may be honoured through dishonour; it has not been poured out and
dissolved in the air like a voice and stream of perfume or flash of
unsubstantial lightning. And where is the capacity of being handled after
the resurrection, wherein one day it shall be seen by them that pierced
Him? For Godhead of itself is in visible."
Of the same from the second discourse about the Son:--
"As the Word He was neither obedient nor disobedient, for these
qualities belong to them that are in subjection and to inferiors; the
former of the more tractable and the latter of them that deserve
condemnation. But in the form of a servant He accommodates Himself to his
fellowservants and puts on a form that was not His own, bearing in Himself
all of me with all that is mine, that in Himself He may waste and destroy
the baser parts as wax is wasted by fire or the mist of the earth by the
Of the same from his discourse on the Theophany:--
"Since He came forth from the Virgin with the assumption of two things
mutually opposed to one another, flesh and spirit, whereof the one was
taken into God and the other exhibited the grace of the Godhead."
Of the same a little further on:--
"He was sent, but as Man. For His nature was twofold, for without doubt
He thenceforth was aweary and hungered and thirsted and suffered agony and
shed tears after the custom of a human body."
Of the same from his second discourse about the Son:--
"He would be called God not of the Word, but of the visible creation,
for how could He be God of Him that is absolutely God? Just so He is called
Father, not of the visible creation, but of the Word. For He was of two-
fold nature. Wherefore the one belongs absolutely to both, but the other
not absolutely.(1) For He is absolutely our God, but not absolutely our
Father. And it is this conjunction of names which gives rise to the error
of heretics. A proof of this lies in the fact that when natures are
distinguished in thought, there is a distinction in names. Listen to the
words of Paul. 'The God of our Lord Jesus Christ, The Father of Glory,'(1)-
-of Christ He is God of glory Father, and if both are one this is so not by
nature but by conjunction. What can be plainer than this? Fifthly let it be
said that He receives life, authority, inheritance of nations, power over
all flesh, glory, disciples or what you will; all these belong to the
Of the same from the same work:--
"'For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men the man
Christ Jesus.'(2) As man He still pleads for my salvation, because He keeps
with Him the body which He took, till he made me God by the power of the
incarnation--though He be no longer known according to the flesh that is by
affections of the flesh and though He be without sin."
Of the same from the same work:--
"Is it not plain to all that as God He knows, and is ignorant, He says,
as man? If that is, any one distinguish the apparent from that which is an
object of intellectual perception. For what gives rise to this opinion is
the fact that the appellation of the Son is absolute without relation, it
not being added of whom He is the Son; so to give the most pious sense to
this ignorance we hold it to belong to the human, and not to the divine."
Testimony of the Holy Gregorius, bishop of Nyssa.
From his catechetical discourse:--
"And who says this that the infinity of the Godhead is comprehended by
the limitation of the flesh, as by some vessel?"
Of the same from the same work:--
"But if man's soul by necessity of its nature commingled with the body,
is everywhere in authority, what need is there of asserting that the
Godhead is limited by the nature of the flesh?" Of the same from the
"What hinders us then, while recognising a certain unity and
approximation of a divine nature in relation to the human, from retaining
the divine intelligence even in this approximation, believing that the
divine even when it exists in men is beyond all limitation?"
Of the same from his work against Eunomius:--
"The Son of Mary converses with brothers, but the only begotten has no
brothers, for how could the name of only begotten be preserved among
brothers? And the same Christ that said 'God is a spirit'(1) says to His
disciples 'Handle me,'(2) to shew that the human nature only can be handled
and that the divine is intangible; and He that said 'I go'(3) indicates
removal from place to place, while He that comprehends all things and 'by
Whom,' as says the Apostle, 'all things were created and by Whom all things
consist,'(4) had among all existing things nothing without and beyond
Himself which can stand to Him in the relation of motion or removal."
Of the same from the same work:--
"'Being by the right hand of God exalted.'(5) Who then was exalted? The
lowly or the most high? And what is the lowly if it be not the human? And
what is the most high save the divine? But God being most high needs no
exaltation, and so the Apostle says that the human is exalted, exalted that
is in being 'made both Lord and Christ.'(6) Therefore the Apostle does not
mean by this term 'He made' the everlasting existence of the Lord, but the
change of the lowly to the exalted which took place on the right hand of
God. By this word he declares the mystery of piety, for when he says 'by
the right hand of God exalted' he plainly reveals the ineffable oeconomy of
the mystery that the right band of God which created all things, which is
the Lord by whom all things were made and without whom nothing consists of
things that were made,(7) through the union lifted up to Its own exaltation
the manhood united to It."
Testimony of St. Amphilochius, bishop of Iconium.
From his discourse on "My Father is greater than I":--
"Henceforth distinguish the natures; that of God and that of man. For
He was not made man by falling away from God, nor God by increase and
advance from man."
Of the same from his discourse on "the Son can do nothing of
"For after the resurrection the Lord shews both--both that the body is
not of this nature, and that the body rises, for remember the history.
After the passion and the resurrection the disciples were gathered
together, and when the doors were shut the Lord stood in the midst of them.
Never at any time before the passion did He do this. Could not then the
Christ have done this even long before? For all things are possible to
God.(1) But before the passion He did not do so lest you should suppose the
incarnation an unreality or appearance, and think of the flesh of the
Christ as spiritual, or that it came down from heaven and is of another
substance than our flesh. Some have invented all these theories with the
idea that thereby they reverence the Lord, forgetful that through their
thanksgiving they blaspheme themselves, and accuse the truth of a lie: for
I say nothing of the lie being altogether absurd. For if He took another
body how does that affect mine which stands in need of salvation? If He
brought down flesh from heaven, how does this affect my flesh which was
derived from earth?"
Of the same from the same work:--
"Wherefore not before the passion, but after the passion, the Lord
stood in the midst of the disciples when the doors were shut, that thou
mayest know that thy natural body after being sown is 'raised a spiritual
body,'(2) and that thou mayest not suppose the body that is raised to be a
different body. When Thomas after the resurrection doubted, He shews him
the prints of the nails, He shews him the marks of the spears. But had He
not power to heal Himself after the resurrection too, when even before the
resurrection He had healed all men? But by shewing the prints of the nails
He shews that it is this very body; by coming in when the doors were shut
He shews that it has not the same qualities; the same body to fulfil the
work of the incarnation by raising that which had become a corpse, but a
changed body that it fall not again under corruption nor be subject again
Testimony of the blessed Theophilus, bishop of Alexandria.
From his work against Origen:--
"Our likeness which He assumed is not changed into the nature of
Godhead nor is His Godhead turned into our likeness. For He remains what He
was from the beginning God, and He so remains preserving our subsistence in
Of the same from the same treatise:--
"But you persist continually in your blasphemies attacking the Son of
God, and using these words 'as the Son and the Father are one, so also are
the soul which the Son took and the Son Himself one.' You are ignorant that
the Son and the Father are one on account of their one substance and the
same Godhead; but the soul and the Son are each of a different substance
and different nature. For if the soul of the Son and the Son Himself are
one in the same sense in which the Father and the Son are one, then the
Father and the Soul will be one and the soul of the Son shall one day say
'He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father;'(1) but this is not so; God
forbid. For the Son and the Father are one because there is no distinction
between their qualities, but the soul and the Son are distinguished alike
in nature and substance, in that the soul which is naturally of one
substance with us was made by Him. For if the soul and the Son are one in
the same manner in which the Father anti the Son are one, as Origen would
have it, then the soul equally with the Son will be 'the brightness of
God's glory and express image of His person.'(2) But this is impossible;
impossible that the Son and the soul should be one as He and the Father are
one. And what will Origen do when again he attacks himself? For he writes,
never could the soul distressed and 'exceeding sorrowful' s be the
'firstborn of every creature.'(4) For God the Word, as being stronger than
the soul, the Son Himself, says 'I have power to lay it down and I have
power to take it again.'(5) If then the Son is stronger than His own soul,
as is agreed, how can His soul be equal to God and in the form of God? For
we say that 'He emptied Himself and took upon Him the form of a
servant.'(6) In the extravagance of his impieties Origen surpasses all
other heretics, as we have shewn, for if the Word exists in the form of God
and is equal to God and if be supposes thus daring to write the soul of the
Saviour to be in the form of God and equal with God, bow can the equal be
greater, when the inferior in nature testifies to the superiority of what
is beyond it?"
Testimony of the Holy, John Chrysostom, bishop of Constantinople.
From the Discourse held in the Great Church:--
"Thy Lord exalted man to heaven, and thou wilt not even give him a
share of the agora. But why do I say 'to heaven'? He seated man on a kingly
throne. Thou expellest him from the city."
Of the same, on the beginning of Ps. xlii.:--
" Up to this day Paul does not cease to say 'We are ambassadors for
Christ as though God did beseech you by us; we pray you in Christ's stead,
be ye reconciled to God.'(1) Nor did He stand here, but taking the first
fruits of thy nature He sat down 'above all principality and power and
might, and every name that is named not only in this world but in the world
to come.'(2) What could be equal to this honour? The first fruits of our
race which has so much offended and is so dishonoured sits so high and
enjoys honour so vast."
Of the same about the division of tongues:--
"For bethink thee what it is to see our nature riding on the Cherubim
and all the power of heaven mustered round about it. Consider too Paul's
wisdom and how many terms he searches for that he may set forth the love of
Christ to men, for he does not say simply the grace, nor vet simply the
riches, but the 'exceeding great riches of His grace in His kindness.'"(3)
Of the same froth his Dogmatic Oration on the theme that the word
spoken and deeds done in humility by Christ were not so spoken and done on
account of infirmity. but on account of differences of dispensation:--
"And after His resurrection, when He saw His disciple disbelieving, He
did not shrink from shewing him both wound and print of nails, and letting
him lay his hand upon the scars, and said 'Examine and see, for a spirit
hath not flesh and bones.'(4) The reason of His not assuming the manhood of
full age from the beginning, and of His deigning to be conceived, to be
born, to be suckled, and to live so long upon the earth, was that by the
long period of the time and all the other circumstances, He might give a
warranty for this very thing."
Of the same against those who assert that demons rule human affairs:--
"Nothing was more worthless than man and than man nothing has become
more precious. He was the last part of the reasonable creation, but the
feet have been made the head, and through the firstfruits have been borne
up to the kingly throne. Just as some man noble and bountiful, on seeing a
wretch escaped from shipwreck who has saved nothing but his bare body from
the waves, welcomes him with open hands, clothes him in a radiant robe, and
exalts him to the highest honour, so too hath God done towards our nature.
Man had lost all that he had, his freedom, his intercourse with God, his
abode in Paradise, his painless life, whence he came forth like a than all
naked from a wreck, but God received him and straightway clothed him, and,
taking him by the hand, led him onward step by step and brought him up to
Of the same from the same work:--
"But God made the gain greater than the loss, and exalted our nature to
the royal throne. So Paul exclaims 'And have raised us up together and made
us sit together in heavenly places'(1) at His right hand."
Of the same from his IIIrd oration against the Jews:--
"He opened the heavens; of foes he made friends; He introduced them
into heaven; He seated our nature on the right hand of the throne; He gave
us countless other good things."
Of the same from his discourse on the Ascension:--
"To this distance and height did He exalt our nature. Look where low it
lay, and where it mounted up. Lower it was impossible to descend than where
man descended; higher it was impossible to rise than where He exalted him."
Of the same from his interpretation of the Epistle to the Ephesians:--
"According to His good pleasure, which He had proposed in himself, that
is which He earnestly desired, He was as it were in labour to tell us the
mystery. And what is this mystery? That He wishes to seat man on high; as
in truth came to pass."
Of the same from the same interpretation:--
"God of our Lord Jesus Christ speaks of this and not of God the Word."
Of the same from the same interpretation:--
"'And when we were dead in sins He quickened us together in Christ;'(2)
again Christ stands in the midst, and the work is wonderful. If the first
fruits live we live also. He quickened both Him and us. Seest thou that all
these things are spoken according to the flesh?"
Of the same from the gospel according to St. John:--
"Why does he add 'and dwelt among us'?(3) It is as though he said:
Imagine nothing absurd from the phrase 'was made.' For I have not mentioned
any change in that unchangeable nature, but of tabernacling(4) and of
inhabiting. Now that which tabernacles is not identical with the
tabernacle, but one thing tabernacles in another; otherwise there would be
no tabernacling. Nothing inhabits itself. I spoke of a distinction of
substance. For by the union and the conjunction God the Word and the flesh
are one without confusion or destruction of the substances, but by
ineffable and indescribable union."
Of the same from the gospel according to St. Matthew:--
"Just as one standing in the space between two that are separated from
one another stretches out both his hands and joins them, so too did He,
joining the old and the new the divine nature and the human, His own with
Of the same from the Ascension of Christ:--
"For so when two champions stand ready for the fight, some other
intervening between them, at once stops the struggle, and puts an end to
their ill will, so too did Christ. As God He was wroth, but we made light
of His wrath, and turned away our faces from our loving Lord. Then Christ
flung Himself in the midst, and restored both natures to mutual love, and
Himself took on Him the weight of the punishment laid by the Father On us."
Of the same froth the same work:--
" Lo He brought the first fruits of our nature to the Father and the
Father Himself approved the gift, alike on account of the high dignity of
Him that bought it and of the faultlessness of the offering. He received it
in His own hands, He made a chair of His own throne; nay more He seated it
on His own right band, let us then recognise who it was to whom it was said
' Sit thou on my right hand '(1) and what was that nature to which God said
' Dust thou art and to dust thou shalt return.'"(2)
Of the same a little further on:--
"What arguments to use, what words to utter I cannot tell; the nature
which was rotten, worthless, declared lowest of all, vanquished everything
and overcame the world. To-day it hath been thought worthy to be made
higher than all, to-day it hath received what from old time angels have
desired; to-day it is possible for archangels to be made spectators of what
has been for ages longed for, and they contemplate our nature, shining on
the throne of the King in the glory of His immortality."
Testimony of St. Flavianus, bishop of Antioch.
From the Gospel according to St. Luke:--
"In all of us the Lord writes the express image of His holiness, and in
various ways shows our nature the way of salvation. Many and clear proofs
does He give us both of His bodily advent and of His Godhead working by a
body's means. For He wished to give us assurance of both His natures."
Of the same on the Theophany:--
"'Who can express the noble acts of the Lord, or shew forth all His
praise?'(1) who could express in words the greatness of His goodness toward
us? Human nature is joined to Godhead, while both natures remain
Testimony of Cyril, bishop Jerusalem.
From his fourth catechetical oration concerning the ten dogmas.
Of the birth from a virgin:--
"Believe thou that this only begotten Son of God, on account of our
sins, came down from heaven to earth, having taken on Him this manhood of
like passions with us, and being born of holy Virgin and of Holy Ghost.
This incarnation was effected, not in seeming and unreality, but in
reality. He did not only pass through the Virgin, as through a channel, but
was verily made flesh of her. Like us He really ate, and of the Virgin was
really suckled. For if the incarnation was an unreality, then our salvation
is a delusion. The Christ was twofold--the visible man, the invisible God.
He ate as man, verily like ourselves, for the flesh that He wore was of
like passions with us; He fed tile five thousand with five loaves(2) as
God. As man He really died. As God He raised the dead on tile fourth
day.(3) As man He slept in the boat. As God He walked upon the waters."(4)
Testimony of Antiochus, bishop of Ptolemais:(5)--
"Do not confound the natures and you will have a lively apprehension of
Testimony of the holy Hilarius, bishop and confessor,(3) in his ninth
book, "de Fide":
"He who knoweth not Jesus the Christ as very God and as very man,
knoweth not in reality his own life, for we incur the same peril if we deny
Christ Jesus or God the spirit, or the flesh of our own body. ' Whosoever
therefore shall confess me before men him will I confess also before my
Father which is in Heaven, but whosoever shall deny me before men him will
I also deny before my Father which is in Heaven.'(1) These things spoke the
Word made flesh; these things the man Christ Jesus, Lord of Glory, taught,
being made Mediator for the salvation of the Church in the very mystery
whereby He mediated between God and men. Both being made one out of the
natures united for this very purpose, He was one and the same through
either nature, but so that in both He fell short in neither, lest haply by
being born as man He should cease to be God, or by remaining God should not
be man. Therefore this is the blessedness of the true faith among men to
preach both God and man, to confess both word and flesh, to recognise that
God was also man, and not to be ignorant that the flesh is also Word."
Of the same from the same book:(2)--
" So the only begotten God being born man of a Virgin and in the
fulness of the time, being Himself ordained to work out the advance of man
to God, observed this order of things, through all the words of the
gospels, that He might teach belief in Him self, as Son of God, and keep us
in mind to preach Him as Son of Man. As being man He always spoke and
acted as is proper to man, but in such a manner as never to speak in this
same mode of speech as touching both save with the intention of signifying
both God and Man. But hence the heretics derive a pretext for catching in
their traps simple and ignorant men: what was spoken by our Lord in
accordance with His manhood they falsely assert to have been uttered in the
weakness of His divine nature, and since one and the same person spake all
the words He used they, urged that all He uttered He uttered about Himself.
Now even we do not deny that all His extant words are of His own nature.
But granted that the one Christ is man and God; granted that when man He
was not then first God; granted that when man He was then also God, granted
that after the assumption of the manhood in the Lord, the Word was man and
the Word was God, it follows of necessity that there is one and the same
mystery of His words as there is of His generation. Whenever in Him, as
occasion may require, you distinguish the manhood from the Godhead, then
also endeavour to separate the words of God from the words of man. And
whenever you confess God and man, then discern the words of God and man.
And when the words are spoken of God and man, and again of man wholly and
wholly of God, consider carefully the occasion. If anything was spoken to
signify what was appropriate to a particular occasion, apply the words to
the occasion. A distinction must be observed between God before the
manhood, man and God, man wholly and God wholly after the union of the
manhood and Godhead. Take heed therefore not to confuse the mystery of the
incarnation in the words and acts. For it must needs be that according to
the quality of the kinds of natures a distinction lies in the manner of
speech, before the manhood was born, in accordance with the mystery when it
was still approaching death, and again when it was everlasting. ' For if in
His birth and in His passion and in His death He acted in accordance with
our nature He nevertheless effected all this by the power of His own
Of the same in the same book:--
"Do you then see that thus God and man are confessed, so that death is
predicated of man, and the resurrection of the flesh, of God; for consider
the nature of God and the power of the resurrections and recognise in the
death the oeconomy as touching man. And since both death and resurrection
have been brought about in their own natures, bear in mind, I beg you, the
one Christ Jesus, who was of both. I have shortly demonstrated these points
to you to the end that we may remember both natures to have been in our
Lord Jesus Christ ' for being in the form of God He took the form of a
Testimony of the very holy bishop Augustinus.
From his letter to Volusianus. Epistle III:
" But now He appeared as Mediator between God and man, so as in the
unity of His person to conjoin both natures, by combining the wonted with
the unwonted, and the unwonted with the wonted."
Of the same from his exposition of the Gospel according to John:(2)--
" What then, O heretic? Since Christ is also than, He speaks as man;
and dost thou slander God? He in Himself lifts man's nature on high, and
thou hast the hardihood to cheapen His divine nature."
Of the same from his book on the Exposition at the Faith:--
"It is ours to believe, but His to know, and so let God the Word
Himself, after receiving all that is proper to man, be man, and let man
after His assumption and reception of all that is God, be no other than
God. It must not be supposed because He is said to have been incarnate and
mixed that therefore His substance was diminished. God knows that He mixes
Himself without the natural corruption, and He is mixed in reality. He
knows also that He so received in Himself as that no addition of increment
accrues to Himself, as also He knows He infused His whole self so as to
incur no diminution. Let us not then, in accordance with our weak
intelligence, and forming conjectures on the teaching of experience and the
senses, suppose that God and man are mixed after the manner of things
created and equal mixed together, and that from such a confusion as this of
the Word and of the flesh a body as it were was made. God forbid that this
should be our belief, test we should suppose that after the manner of
things which are confounded together two natures were brought into one
hypostasis.(3) For a mention of this kind implies destruction of both
parts; but Christ Himself, containing but
not contained, who examines us but is Himself beyond examination, making
full but not made full, everywhere at one and the same time being Himself
whole and pervading the universe, through His pouring out His own power, as
being moved with mercy, was mingled with the nature of man, though the
nature of man was not mingled with the divine."
Testimony of Severianus, bishop of Gabala.(1)
From "the Nativity of Christ ":--
"O mystery truly heavenly and yet on earth--mystery seen and not
apparent for so was the Christ after His birth; heavenly and yet on earth;
holding and not held; seen and invisible; of Heaven as touching the nature
of the Godhead, on earth as touching the nature of the manhood; seen in the
flesh, invisible in the spirit; held as to the body not to be holden as to
Testimony of Atticus,(2) bishop of Constantinople.
From his letter to Eupsychius:--
"How then did it behave the Most Wise to act? By mediation of the flesh
assumed, and by union of God the Word with man born of Mary, He is made of
either nature, so that the Christ made one of both, as constituted in
Godhead, abides in the proper dignity of His impassible nature, but in
flesh. being brought near to death, at one and the same time shews the
kindred nature of the flesh how through death to despise death, and by His
death confirms the righteousness of the new covenant."
Testimony of Cyril, bishop of Alexandria. From his letter to
"The natures which have been brought together in the true unity are
distinct, and of hath there is one God and Son, but the difference of the
natures has not been removed in consequence of the union."
Of the same from his letter against the Orientals:(4)--
"There is an union of two natures, wherefore we acknowledge one Christ,
one Son, one Lord. In accordance with this perception of the unconfounded
union we acknowledge the Holy Virgin as Mother of God(5) because the Word
of God was made flesh and was made man, and from the very conception united
to Himself the temper taken from her."(1)
Of the same:--
"There is one Lord Jesus Christ, even if the difference be recognised
of the natures of which we assert the ineffable union to have been made."
Of the same:--
"Therefore, as I said, while praising the manner of the incarnation, we
see that two natures came together in inseparable union without confusion
and without division,(2) for the flesh is flesh and no kind of Godhead,
although it was made flesh of God; in like manner the Word is God, and not
flesh, although He made the flesh His own according to the oeconomy."
Of the same from his interpretation of the Epistle to the Hebrews:--
"For although the natures which came together in unity are regarded as
different and unequal with one another, I mean of flesh and of God,
nevertheless the Son, Who was made of both, is one."
Of the same from his interpretation of the same Epistle:--
" Yet though the only begotten Word of God is said to be united in
hypostasis to flesh, we deny there was any confusion of the natures with
one another, and declare each to remain what it is."
Of the same from his commentaries:--
"The Father's Word, born of the Virgin, is named man, though being by
nature God as partaking of flesh and blood like us(1) for thus He was seen
by men upon earth, without getting rid of His own nature, but assuming our
Manhood perfect according to its own reason."
Of the same concerning the Incarnation (Schol. c. 13):--
"Then before the incarnation there is one Very God, and in manhood He
remains what He was and is and will be; the one Lord Jesus Christ then must
not be separated into man apart and into God apart, but recognising the
difference of the natures and preserving them unconfounded with one
another, we assert that there is one and the same Christ Jesus."
Of the same after other commentaries:--
"There is plain perception of one thing dwelling in another, namely the
divine nature in manhood, without undergoing commixture or any confusion,
or any change into what it was not. For what is said to dwell in another
does not become the same as that in which it dwells, but is rather regarded
as one thing in another. But in the nature of the Word and of the manhood
the difference points out to us a difference of natures alone, for of both
is perceived one Christ. Therefore he says that the Word ' Tabernacled
among us,'(2) carefully observing the freedom from confusion, for he
recognises one only begotten Son who was made flesh and became man."
Now, my dear sir, you have heard the great lights of the world; you
have seen the beams of their teaching, and you have received exact
instruction how, not only after the nativity, but after the passion which
wrought salvation, and the resurrection, and the ascension, they have shewn
the union of the Godhead and of the manhood to be without confusion.
Eran.--I did not suppose that they distinguished the natures after the
union, but I have found an infinite amount of distinction.
Orth.--It is mad and rash against those noble champions of the faith so
much as to wag your tongue. But I will adduce for you the words of
Apollinarius, in order that you may know that he too asserts the union to
be without confusion. Now hear his words.
Testimony of Apollinarius.
From his summary:--
"There is an union between what is of God and what is of the body. On
the one side is the adorable Creator Who is wisdom and power eternal; these
are of the Godhead. On the other hand is the Son of Mary, born at the last
time, worshipping God, advancing in wisdom, strengthened in power; these
are of the body. The suffering on behalf of sin and the curse came and will
not pass away nor yet be changed into the incorporeal."
And again a little further on:--
"Men are consubstantial with the unreasoning animals as far as the
unreasoning body is concerned; they are of another substance in so far
forth as they are reasonable. Just so God who is consubstantial with men
according to the flesh is of another substance in so far forth as He is
Word and Man."
And in another place he says:--
" Of things which are mingled together the qualities are mixed and not
destroyed. Thus it comes to pass that some are separate from the mixed
parts as wine from water, nor yet is there mingling with a body, nor vet as
of bodies with bodies, but the mingling preserves also the unmixed, so
that, as each occasion may require, the energy of the Godhead either acts
independently or in conjunction, as was the case when the Lord fasted, for
the Godhead being in conjunction in proportion to its being above need,
hunger was hindered, but when it no longer opposed to the craving its
superiority to need, then hunger arose, to the undoing of the devil. But if
the mixture of the bodies suffered no change, how much more that of the
And in another place he says:--
" If the mixture with iron which makes the iron itself fire does not
change its nature, so too the union of God with the body implies no change
of the body, even though the body extend its divine energies to what is
within its reach."
To this he immediately adds:--
"If a man has both soul and body, and these remain in unity, much more
does the Christ, who has Godhead and body, keep both secure and
And again a little further on:--
"For human nature is partaker of the divine energy, as far as it is
capable, but it is as distinct as the least from the greatest. Man is a
servant of God, but God is not servant of man, nor even of Himself. Man is
a creature of God, but God is not a creature of man, nor even of Himself."
"If any one takes in reference to Godhead and not in reference to flesh
the passage the 'Son doeth what He seeth the Father do,'(1) wherein He Who
was made flesh is distinct from the Father Who was not made flesh, divides
two divine energies. But there is no division. So He does not speak in
reference to Godhead."
Again he says:--
"As man is not an unreasoning being, on account of the contact of the
reasoning and the unreasoning, just so the Saviour is not a creature on
account of the contact of the creature with God uncreate."
To this he also adds:--
"The invisible which is united to a visible body and thereby is beheld,
remains invisible, and it remains without composition because it is not
circumscribed with the body, and the body, remaining in its own measure,
accepts the union with God in accordance with its being quickened, nor is
it that which is quickened which quickens."
And a little further on he says:--
"If the mixture with soul and body, although from the beginning they
coalesce, does not make the soul visible on account of the body, nor change
it into the other properties of the body, so as to allow of its being cut
or lessened, how much rather God, who is not of the same nature as the
body, is united to the body without undergoing change, if the body of man
remains in its own nature, and this when it is animated by a soul, then in
the case of Christ the commingling does not so change the body as that it
is not a body."
And further on he says again:--
"He who confesses that soul and body are constituted one by the
Scripture, is inconsistent with himself when he asserts that this union of
the Word with the body is a change, such change being not even beheld in
the case of a soul."
Listen to him again exclaiming clearly:--
"If they are impious who deny that the flesh of the Lord abides, much
more are they who refuse wholly to accept His incarnation."
And in his little book about the Incarnation he has written:--
"The words 'Sit thou on my right hand '(1) He speaks as to man, for
they are not spoken to Him that sits ever on the throne of glory, as God
the Word after His ascension from earth, but they are said to Him who hath
now been exalted to the heavenly glory as man, as the Apostles say ' for
David is not ascended into the heavens, but he saith himself the Lord said
unto my Lord sit thou on my right hand.'(2) The order is human, giving a
beginning to the sitting; but it is a divine dignity to sit together with
God 'to whom thousand thousands minister and before whom ten thousand times
ten thousand stand.'"(1)
And again a little further on:--
"He does not put His enemies under Him as God but as man, but so that
the God who is seen and man are the same. Paul too teaches us that the
words ' until I make thy foes thy footstool'(2) are spoken to then
describing the success as Ills own of course in accordance with His
divinity 'According to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all
things unto Himself.'(3) Behold Godhead and manhood existing inseparably in
"'Glorify me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee
before the world was.'(4) The word ' glorify ' He uses as man, but His
having this glory before the ages He reveals as God." And again:--
"But let us not be humiliated as thinking the worship of the Son of God
humiliation, even in His human likeness, but as though honouring some king
appearing in poor raiment with his royal glory, and above all seeing that
the very garb in which He is clad is glorified, as became the body of God
and of the world's Saviour which is seed of eternal life, instrument of
divine deeds destroyer of all wickedness, slayer of death and prince of
resurrection; for though it had its nature from man it derived its life
from God, and its power and divine virtue from heaven."
"Whence we worship the body as the Word; we partake of the body as of
Now it has been plainly shewn you that the author who was first to
introduce the mixture of the natures openly uses the argument of a
distinction between them; thus he has called the body garb, creature and
instrument; he even went so far as to call it slave, which none of us has
ever ventured to do. He also says that it was deemed worthy of the seat on
the right hand, and uses many other expressions which are rejected by your
Eran.--But why then did he who was the first to introduce the mixture
insert so great a distinction in his arguments?
Orth.--The power of truth forces even them that vehemently fight
against her to agree with what she says, but, if you will, let us now begin
a discussion about the impassibility of the Lord.
Eran.--You know that musicians are accustomed to give their strings
rest, and they slacken them by turning the pegs; if then things altogether
void of reason and soul stand in need of some recreation, we who partake of
both shall do nothing absurd if we mete out our labour in proportion to our
power. Let us then put it off till tomorrow.
Orth.--The divine David charges us to give heed to the divine oracles
by night and by day; but let it be as you say, and let us keep the
investigation of the remainder of our subject till to-morrow.
Taken from "The Early Church Fathers and Other Works" originally published
by Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. in English in Edinburgh, Scotland, beginning in
1867. (LNPF II/III, Schaff and Wace). The digital version is by The
Bible Society, P.O. Box 701356, Dallas, TX 75370, 214-407-WORD.