On the Incarnation of the Word of God by St. Athanasius

Resources Used:
- Athanasius of Alexandria. Athanasius: On the Incarnation of the Word of 
God. Translated by T. Herbert Bindley. Second Edition Revised. London: 
The Religious Tract Society, 1903.
- Saint Athanasius the Great: The Redemptive Plan in On the Incarnation
by Brian Ephrem Fitzgerald, Ph.D.
- Introduction by C.S. Lewis

Summary

Written in 318 at age of 23 before the Arian controversy to a certain Macarius, who seems to be a young, educated prospective convert from paganism, perhaps even a catechumen.

Divided into 2 parts:

1st part:

  1. Creation of the world – purpose to show how the Father worked out re-creation in the Word through whom he had originally created everything out of nothing (with man in his image).
  2. Fall of man – man, created in the divine image, chose to disobey = divine image defaced and man now reverts back to nothingness. The divine dilemma:
    1. Dilemma for God:
      1. Goodness = obliged to save the race created in His own image or else God is not good and should have never created mankind in His image. VS. 
      2. Truthfulness = God is Truth. Could not contradict the divine penalty and become a liar.
    2. Criteria to fix dilemma: man needed to have the divine image fully restored and be freed from death, corruption and sin. Options:
      1. Human repentance? NO. Worthy of God but would NOT bring man back to original state.
      2. An act of God’s will? NO. Different situation now. God needs to align himself to what exists and needs healing.
  3. Incarnation of the Word – the only rational and fitting solution to solve the divine dilemma so that humanity might be saved and both God’s goodness and truthfulness preserved. 3 primary soteriological points:
    1. Only through the true Image of God Himself, could the Image of God in man be restored.
    2. Only through the death of the human body assumed by the Word Himself could the penalty of death be lifted from mankind without compromising the veracity of God, the Father of Truth.
    3. Only through the Incarnation of the Divine Agent, through Whom the universe and man were created, could humanity be saved from corruption and death, and be revitalized through communion with the life-giving Word.

2nd part:

  1. Refutation of Jews from Scripture (focus on prophecies).
  2. Refutation of Gentiles based on current cosmic philosophy (uses Plato’s ‘world-soul’ analogy).

 

Favourite Quotes:

“For He was made man that we might be made God” ~ pg. 65

 

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