Seeing the Divine in the Fourth and Early Fifth Centuries

ORlCEN'i ANALOGY of a painting1! restoration to human Kjk.n ion [discussed in the previous chapter) has a dost- parallel in i h writings, gjf (he fourth-century Alexandrian theologian Athanasius. En his treatise Ort the InCtrnHtwrtt Athanasius likewise Speaks "f the; IncaT-■ i j i l' Ijul-ljv j.h j. painter or art rt:s.k>rer and of the human to til, made in the image of God, as a blemished or soiled painting, obscured and 4a m-through Ibe careless acdrtion of sin. The Loge^,» the True linage ofC]i)JL thc;n com« uj renew Llie painting "effaced by stams from without" so that the portrait may be renewed ,m4 restored, Borrowing ilil'Lüji[irs from the a dual praciice of portrait painting on wooden panels, Athanasius maintain?, that thr b^ard and the nultinc.s exist ;tnd may be rciiKed, hut the colors need to he filled in again and the likeness redrawn. In another placc, Athanasius, again ecboiing Crimen. depicts i III1 mortal souä, stained by the filth of Iuslh as needing to be washed until the foreign matter has been removed and the likened (o the innate is rcturciL-d to j ts original created Jiatt; "therl surely this latter [the soul j being thoroughly brightened, the soul beholds as in a minor ihe Image of the l:,n her., even the Wurd, and by this means reaches the id ea of the fa i her, whose Image lhl1 Savior u

Despite iheir use of similar analogies, Athanasius takes j very different portion from Ori gen's on the import a nee <»i God's ^L>rp<trLjjl appearance and the degree nf human effort involved in [lit.' process r]i the restoration of the image. Whereas for Origen, the Divine Image is essentially invisible and incorporeal even when it is brought" within the compass of a human body" for Athanasius the Incarnate One was necessarily visible because visibility wai essentia] to his %jviny mission.1 Athanasius neBeron the actual, material corporeality of the incarnation as a medium of salvation. The renewal mt ihc divine innagL- in humankind happens through sensible means. iieeing God1« image in Christ was important to both Athanasius and f.^ri^ciu but they would have said that they were looking .it different things. Origcn believed recovery was a matter of the renewing of the inner and illumination of the mind, while Athanasius believed the human fleshly reality itself was redeemable, as demonstrated in the incarnation and resurrection of the body of Christ.

M the same time, Athanasius holds ,l more pessimistic view of humanity's ability iu progress on its own than Origcn docs. According lo Athanasius, fallen humans lack adequate awareness of the dim <nid obscured image within themselves even to recognize their own state of decrepitude. Mortals cannot come to knowledge of trod by their own power S1 niil' they ¿re hopelessly niirr'il in COnfusiOn, blinded :>y sin, .Lini deceived by demons. They are thereby rendered insufficient to with--.Urn; the vanity of idols, He asks, "If someone cannot see, how can he or she I'm; reeducated?114 The signs of Ciod in creation :irL- not enough, for it it were, humanity would not be in such state. Even the Divine Word showing forth rhtL In.ith. ol God .win former times not enough—t<sr humans had missed seeing this before and moreover now kept theii eyes downcast, rhe only means left was for God to condescend to humanity's need for a corporeal appearance, to come down to the world of nature j i id of sense, to take on -l m o rt j1 Ik >d so that- meet in g c hem ha I Fwa \ ■ ■ ■ humans might finally perceive the truth in ^hree dimensions and recog niic lhl1 True (incorporeal) God by iik".)il^ rtl what Mil1 Incarnate Out effects through his body, Thus, seeing the resurrection of the Savior, those who were drawn to worship idols or to mistake them for gods were made aw are of their errx\r. h y com p ar Lsh >n . And si nee Ch rist's corporeal appearance and his visible acts and deeds were a critical part of human salvation, the Savior once born could not immediately offer himself fur sacrifice on the cru-^ and resurrection from lh-L- dead:

l .'■ t?y this means he would hjt'i nutte himwlf invuibk But In- iinjdi hinwelf vJsibV cin >li j.Ii by m h i r Ik- i.I ¡J abiding in it .1 ml doi sllcH m■ >rks, and shewing sucl 1 signs as mike him known igpr u hurom, but (rod [hW<ir J

I ■ 1 r by bis be com 1 ng hna 11. Lh c savinr waa lo ,1 ccom p lish both works ■ ■ I lave, lint in pulting away drilh from ;■■■■ ami renewing 114 again; secondly, being unseen ,11 id i at: *ibl t. iiiiiniiiig and making himsil 1 k m run by li i-, l^rks lo be the Word of God, and iIk- RllIci of the Universe '

For Athanasius, the sensory knowledge that comes through the external eye was crucial for humans to become attracted to Christ, "and center then senses on himself,71 so that they could see his works (healing the blind and the lame, changing water to wine, and so forth) and come to recognize that ibis w-is not human only but also the Divine Word and Wi sd 11 m of the True God, For tIn- sake ol' hun 1 an solvation, the in visablc

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