Christ "shared nothing of the things of the body"?

Status
Not open for further replies.

Mr. Bultitude

Puritan Board Freshman
In paragraph 43 of Athansius' On the Incarnation, I came across a statement that seemed strange to me. I cross-referenced it in three translations: Archibald Robertson (1882), Penelope Lawson (1944), and John Behr (2011).

Robertson: For just as He is in creation, and yet does not partake of its nature in the least degree, but rather all things partake of His power; so while He used the body as His instrument He partook of no corporeal property, but, on the contrary, Himself sanctified even the body.

Lawson: His being in creation does not mean that He shares its nature; on the contrary, all created things partake of His power. Similarly, though He used the body as His instrument, He shared nothing of its defect, [Footnote: Literally, "He shared nothing of the things of the body."] but rather sanctified it by His indwelling.

Behr: For just as he is in creation, yet in no way partakes of creation, but rather everything partakes of his power, so while also using the body as an instrument, he partook of none of the body's properties, but rather himself sanctified even the body.

I'm puzzled because this seems to fly in the face of Athanasius' (and the whole church's) stance that Christ's incarnation was real. That he actually took on a human body, and it was no deception or illusion. What am I misunderstanding about his argument here?
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
It might mean something like this: in contrast to the manner in which our body lends an ordinary man something of his character; in Christ's case, the body of flesh lent him nothing, but as the Second Person he lent to it all its character. The latter is what I take: "he sanctified it by his indwelling," to indicate.

If Athanasius has any tinge of Platonism, he may be saying that the body as a created, thus finite thing has some natural "defect," being imperfect (hence Lawson's idiomatic rendering). Christ does not participate in that imperfection, but instead he perfects the body.

I think the Baroque Norseman should chime in and correct...
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
In paragraph 43 of Athansius' On the Incarnation, I came across a statement that seemed strange to me. I cross-referenced it in three translations: Archibald Robertson (1882), Penelope Lawson (1944), and John Behr (2011).

Robertson: For just as He is in creation, and yet does not partake of its nature in the least degree, but rather all things partake of His power; so while He used the body as His instrument He partook of no corporeal property, but, on the contrary, Himself sanctified even the body.

Lawson: His being in creation does not mean that He shares its nature; on the contrary, all created things partake of His power. Similarly, though He used the body as His instrument, He shared nothing of its defect, [Footnote: Literally, "He shared nothing of the things of the body."] but rather sanctified it by His indwelling.

Behr: For just as he is in creation, yet in no way partakes of creation, but rather everything partakes of his power, so while also using the body as an instrument, he partook of none of the body's properties, but rather himself sanctified even the body.

I'm puzzled because this seems to fly in the face of Athanasius' (and the whole church's) stance that Christ's incarnation was real. That he actually took on a human body, and it was no deception or illusion. What am I misunderstanding about his argument here?

Lawson's translation (what I have) is what I usually see in the literature. Eastern Orthodoxy, to the extent that Ath. anticipated them, denies that Christ's human body suffered any physical ailments. The reason they say that is because on their gloss the chief enemy is corruption, not sin (though they certainly affirm that) and if Christ is going to undo corruption he can't suffer it.

Another important point is the instrumentalization thesis: The logos simply used the body as an instrument. It is a one-way street in terms of activity-passivity. Because of the Instrumentalization Thesis, life can only flow from the Logos to the Body, not the other way around. This is necessary to all forms of divinization soteriology. Ultimately, this becomes problematic after Chalcedon but few of them seemed worried about that.

Finally, as Rev. Buchanan notes, late Platonic fathers were more interested in seeing that the Logos took upon himself the form (ideal) of human nature, whereas we would see he took upon a human body. Such a strict Platonism is problematic, I think, but there you have it.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top