- Paperback: 120 pages
- Publisher: St Vladimirs Seminary Pr; New revised edition (June 1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0913836400
- ISBN-13: 978-0913836408
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 7.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 116 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #601,223 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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On the Incarnation: De Incarnatione Verbi Dei (Popular Patristics Series) Paperback – June, 1996
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About the Author
ATHANASIUS, Bishop of Alexandria and one of the most illustrious defenders of the Christian faith, was born at Alexandria about the year 297. Before the outbreak of the Arian controversy, which began in 319, Athanasius had made himself known as the author of two essays addressed to a convert from heathenism, one of them entitled Against the Gentiles, and the other On the Incarnation of the Word. Both are of the nature of apologetical treatises, arguing such questions as monotheism, and the necessity of divine interposition for the salvation of the world; and already in the second may be traced that tone of thought respecting the essential divinity of Christ as the "God-man" for which he afterwards became conspicuous.
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On the Incarnation begins with five chapters that describe creation and the fall of humankind with the resultant need for salvation. Next he illustrates the divine dilemma in seeking to mediate that salvation, with the derived solution being the incarnation. The death and resurrection of Christ are then detailed and the three remaining chapters refute common doubts brought up by two main groups: the Jews and Gentiles. The reservations written about then are easily applicable to modern day.
Throughout On the Incarnation, Athanasius explains that in order to reconcile the fallen creation back to humanity, salvation had to occur through a wholly divine mediator, perfectly embodied in Christ. Had Christ not been wholly divine, Athanasius argues, then Christ would have needed a mediator Himself to bring us into koinonia (fellowship or community) with God, and that imperfect mediator would therein need another mediator creating an endless succession of imperfect mediators without any resultant salvation. In short, in order to re-create creation and turn the corruptible (humans) back into the incorruptible, God needed the same substance, or the Logos incarnate, in order to bring that imperfect back to being perfect. Athanasius beautifully and repeatedly argues that the entire process is motivated by the love of God for His creation, and to suggest that He would impart upon us a less than perfect mediator would in fact demote and diminish that love motivation to less than steadfast, permanent, perpetual and all-encompassing.
Athanasius says, “[I]t was our sorry case that caused the Word to come down, our transgression that called out His love for us, so that He made haste to help us and to appear among us. It is we who were the cause of His taking human form, and for our salvation that in His great love He was both born and manifested in a human body.” He also says, “The Word perceived that corruption could not be got rid of otherwise than though death; yet He Himself, as the Word, being immortal and the Father’s Son, was such as could not die. For this reason, therefore, He assumed a body capable of death, in order that, through belonging to the Word Who is above all, and, itself, remaining incorruptible through His indwelling, might thereafter put and end to corruption for all others as well, by the grace of the resurrection.”
This beautifully written treatise is philosophically and theologically sophisticated, yet very easy to read and simple to understand. The book is also very short (less than 75 pages). As C. S. Lewis says, contemporary Christians would benefit tremendously from reading this book because it will not only illuminate their understanding of The Creator’s love for humankind, but it will also lead them to the full appreciation of the “Grand Miracle” or God taking human form in order to reveal to us what it means to be divine—an idea that transcends the power of the incarnation event itself.
Read this timeless classic and prepare to advance the way you think.
The book is short but packed with lots of simple, quality concepts that make so much sense. It is packed with scriptural references to defend the statements that being made. It talks about Creation and the Creator. About the fall of man and the love of God to work through a way to rescue man from his fallen sinful state.
There are chapters regarding why the Word became Flesh and why that had to happen. How the Creator took on the form of the creation so that He could bring redemption to His creation.
There is a chapter on why the Jewish people have disregarded Jesus Christ as the Son of God. It does a wonderful job of showing how they are ignoring their own prophets, their own written word of God and their own understanding of what had to happen. If you have any Jewish friends this would be a great chapter to read and discuss with them.
Then there are two chapters on why the Gentiles (Greeks) also did not want to accept that Jesus Christ was the Son of God. These chapters are well written and would be perfect for reading with your non-Christian Gentile friends and then discussing how well the author hit the main points of what people refuse to believe in Jesus Christ.
What is so amazing is that this book was written so long ago but reads as though it was just written last week. That alone shows the consistent quality of the writing and the consistent truth of the text and also the fact that sinful man has not changed in thousands of years, they still ignore God not because He can't be proven but because it is not convenient for their lifestyle or beliefs.
This is a must read for all Christians and will be a text that you come back to often.