Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

Jesus was a man, brought into being at birth, and not previously existing ; according to some born in the ordinary manner; and to others born by a special action of the Holy Spirit. Hippolytus tells 11s (Contra Hereses, Book VII., chap. xxii.) that they held that all who fulfilled the law could becoine Christs.

These will serve as examples of the heretical ideas prevalent in those times, but other views differing in various ways from those described may be found in the records that are left to us. A common conception, especially in those schools generally included among the Gnostics, was that Jesus was born as a man, but that the Christ descended upon him at baptism, and remained until the crucifixion. According to one tradition, the cry of Jesus when on the cross, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" was a cry of despair on the departure of the spiritual principle, or the Christos.

The orthodox doctrine is briefly as follows. Christ the eternal Logos, one in essence with the supreme God, but distinguishable in person, incarnated in the form of a man. As such he was not only God, but also had a truly human soul, that is, a soul which did not exist before birth as a man, but which was made as other souls were made, was capable of suffering, and was to be clearly distinguished from his divine nature. It would thus be a heresy to assert, as some did, that Jesus had not a human soul, but was wholly divine, thus cutting him off from humanity, or on the other hand to say that he was a man merely overshadowed by the Logos, for according to the scheme it was necessary that a perfect mediator should appear, both God and man at one and the same time.

Origen was one of the exponents of Christian doctrine who had most influence in settling the orthodox conception of the incarnation, though he also on one point, that of the pre-existence of the human soul of Jesus, stepped outside of the orthodox limits made at a later date. In his writings the relation between the man Christ and the God is most elaborately discussed, and some views are put forward which would now appear to be very advanced, but which at that time were not generally thought to be unorthodox. In De Principiis, Book II., chap. vi., “On the Incarnation of

' Christ," occurs the following passage:

"But since, agreeably to the faculty of freewill, variety and

a

diversity characterized the individual souls, so that one was attached with a warmer love to the Author of its being, and another with a feebler and weaker regard, that soul (anima) regarding which Jesus said, “No one shall take my life (animam) from me,' inhering, from the beginning of the creation, and afterwards, inseparably and indissolubly in Him, as being the Wisdom and Word of God, and the Truth and the true Light, and receiving Him wholly and passing into His light and splendour, was made with Him in a pre-eminent degree one spirit, according to the promise of the apostle to those who ought to imitate it, that he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit.' This substance of a soul, then, being intermediate between God and the flesh-it being impossible for the nature of God to intermingle with a body without an intermediate instrument—the God-inan is born, as we have said, that substance being the intermediary to whose nature it was not contrary to assume a body. But neither, on the other hand, was it opposed to the nature of that soul, as a rational existence, to receive God, into whom, as stated above, as into the Word, and the Wisdom, and the Truth, it had already wholly entered. And therefore deservedly is it also called, along with the flesh which it had assumed, the Son of God, and the Power of God, the Christ, and the Wisdom of God, either because it was wholly in the Son of God, or because it received the Son of God wholly into itself."

In this passage is to be found the supposed heretical view of the pre-existence of the human or rational soul of Jesus, but the distinction made between the Logos and the man is quite within the bounds of orthodoxy.

In Contra Celsum, Book II., chap. ix., he defends the Christian idea of Christ against the attack of Celsus, who asks how it is possible that a God could be delivered up to punishment.

“To which we reply, that even we do not suppose the body of Jesus, which was then an object of sight and perception, to have been God. And why do I say His body? Nay, not even His soul, of which it is related, 'My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.' But as, according to the Jewish manner of speaking, 'I am the Lord, the God of all flesh,' and 'Before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me,' God is believed to be He

[ocr errors]

who employs the soul and body of the prophet as an instrument; and as, according to the Greeks, he who says:

“I know both the number of the sand and the measures of

the sea,

as

And I understand a dumb man, and hear him who does not speak, is considered to be a god when speaking, and making himself heard through the Pythian priestess; so, according to our view, it was the Logos God, and Son of the God of all things, who spake in Jesus these words, I am the way, and the truth, and the life'; and these, 'I am the door'; and these, 'I am the living bread that came down from heaven’; and other expressions similar to these.

And that the Gospels do not consider Him who in Jesus said these words, I am the way, and the truth and the life,' to have been of so circumscribed a nature to have an existence nowhere out of the soul and body of Jesus, is evident both from many considerations, and from a few instances of the following kind, which we shall quote." Origen then quotes

John i. 26; Matthew xviii. 20; xxviii. 20. “And we quote these passages, making no distinction between the Son of God and Jesus. For the soul and body of Jesus formed, after the economy (oikovouía), one being with the Logos of God. Now if, according to Paul's teaching, he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit,' everyone who understands what being joined to the Lord is, and who has been actually joined to Him, is one spirit with the Lord; how should not that being be one in a far greater and more divine degree, which was once united with the Logos of God?”

On the same general lines is the following passage from Book VI., chap. xlvii.

"Nor is it at all wonderful if we maintain that the soul of Jesus is made one with so great a Son of God through the highest union with Him, being no longer in a state of separation from Him. For the sacred language of Holy Scripture knows of other things also, which, although dual' in their own nature, are considered to be, and really are, 'one' in respect to one another. It is said of husband and wife, they are no longer twain, but one flesh'; and of the perfect man, and of him who is joined to the true Lord, Word, and Wisdom and Truth, that'he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit.' And if he who is ‘joined to the Lord is one spirit,' who has been joined to the Lord, the Very Word, and Wisdoin and Truth, and Righteousness, in a more intimate union, or even in a manner at all approaching to it, than the soul of Jesus? And if this be so, then the soul of Jesus and God the Word—the first-born of every creature—are no longer two [but one].”

In chap. xvii. of the next book, Origen condemns the idea that it was Christ the Son of God who died on the cross.

“And Jesus Himself, who knew perfectly that one who was to die must be a man, said to His accusers, ‘But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath spoken unto you the truth which I heard of God,' and if in that man as He appeared among men there was something divine, namely, the only begotten Son of God, the firstborn of all creation, one who said of Himself, I am the truth,''I am the life,' 'I am the door,' 'I am the way,' 'I am the living bread which came down from heaven,' of this Being and His nature we must judge and reason in a way quite different from that in which we judge of the man who was seen in Jesus Christ. Accordingly, you will find no Christian, however simple he may be, and however little versed in critical studies, who would say that He who died was 'the truth,''the life,' 'the way,''the living bread which came down from heaven,' the resurrection,' for it was He who appeared to us in the form of the man Jesus, who taught us, saying, *I am the resurrection. There is no one amongst us, I say, so

' extravagant as to affirm 'the Life died,' the Resurrection died.'»

In the following chapter he continues thus :

“ That which is predicted by the prophets is worthy of God, that He who is the brightness and express image of the divine nature, should come into the world with the wholly human soul which was to animate the body of Jesus, to sow the seed of His word.

He was to be in it indeed, but not in such a way as to confine therein all the rays of His glory; and we are not to suppose that the light of Him who is God the Word is shed forth in no other way than in this."

There are still other senses in which Christ was regarded among the early believers, and may still be regarded.

From one point of view he is the type of the perfect man, the ideal to which the ordinary man is to reach. It was the aim of the

“gnostic,” according to Clement of Alexandria, to reach that height through the continued progress of ages, in this life and in the stages

, of existence to follow. This is what Paul speaks of when he writes in Ephesians iv. 11-13:

"And he gave some apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ininistry, for the edifying of the body of Christ; till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the ineasure of the stature of the fulness of Christ."

In earlier chapters, evidence has been given of the symbolical manner in which, among other tales, the story of Jesus was treated. It is a very old idea that Christ may not only be a God and a man, but also a power that is within every man, and even that the life of Jesus may be a symbol of the way in which that power works, and 11ot simply a story of one man's actions. There is much in the New Testament itself which supports this view, especially in the writings of Paul. For example in Colossians, i. 26, 27, he speaks of “the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints, to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the liope of glory; whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus." Again in 2 Corinthians, xiii. 5, he says :

5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith, prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobate ?"

But perhaps the most striking passage is in Galatians, iv. 19, “My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you."

Origen in Contra Celsum, Book VI., chap. ix., uses a peculiar expression with regard to this internal Christ. He compares the Platonic division of " name," "

," " word," "image," and "knowledge, quoted by Celsus, with the Christian system.

“Now, according to this division, John is introduced before Jesus as the voice of one crying in the wilderness, so as to correspond with the 'name' of Plato; and the second after John, who is

2

« AnteriorContinua »