Athanasius' On the Incarnation
If then He be not a Son, let
Him be called a work, and let all that is said of works be said of Him,
nor let Him and Him alone be called Son, nor Word, nor Wisdom; neither let
God be called Father, but only Framer and Creator of things which by Him
come to be; and let the creature be Image and Expression of His framing
will, and let Him, as they would have it, be without generative nature, so
that there be neither Word, nor Wisdom, no, nor Image, of His proper
substance. For if He be not Son
, neither is He Image
. But if there be not a Son, how then say you that God is a Creator? since
all things that come to be are through the Word and in Wisdom, and without
This nothing can be, whereas you say He has not That in and through which
He makes all things.
For if the Divine Essence be
not fruitful itself
, but barren, as they hold, as a light that lightens not, and a dry
fountain, are they not ashamed to speak of His possessing framing energy?
and whereas they deny what is by nature, do they not blush to place before
it what is by will
? But if He frames things that are external to Him and before were not, by
willing them to be, and becomes their Maker, much more will He first be
Father of an Offspring from His proper Essence. For if they attribute to
God the willing about things which are not, why recognise they not that in
God which lies above the will? now it is a something that surpasses will,
that He should be by nature, and should be Father of His proper Word. If
then that which comes first, which is according to nature, did not exist,
as they would have it in their folly, how could that which is second come
to be, which is according to will? for the Word is first, and then the
On the contrary the Word
exists, whatever they affirm, those irreligious ones; for through Him did
creation come to be, and God as being Maker, plainly has also His framing
Word, not external, but proper to Him;—for this must be repeated. If He
has the power of will, and His will is effective, and suffices for the
consistence of the things that come to be, and His Word is effective, and
a Framer, that Word must surely be the living Will
of the Father, and an essential
energy, and a real Word, in whom all things both consist and are
--Discourse Against the
Make sure you look back over
the #27 "Historical Christological Heresies" handout. Look over
any material involving Arianism, as well as #23 "Major Views of the
Trinity." Be able to explain why Athanasius opposes Arius' view of
Christ, as well as what separates his understanding of the trinity from
various monarchial and subordinationist positions. You might also want to
read the preliminary "The Life of St. Athanasius" (17-24). It
connects Athanasius' struggles and convictions with the Desert Fathers,
especially Antony of Egypt.
Why would one's view of
creation influence one's view of incarnation?
Why is Christ's
incarnation necessary anyway?
Equally, why are his death
and resurrection necessary?
Should the death of Christ
be seen as a triumph? Why or why not?
- How does the orthodox view of creation counter
the Epicurean, Platonic, and Gnostic views?
- How is the doctrine of the imago dei
connected to the Incarnation?
- Why does corruption make the Incarnation a