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The Word as the image of the Father


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#1 Jeremy Troy

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Posted 11 June 2011 - 03:40 AM

Hello everyone,

I'm not a theologian by any means. I read the following in St. Athanasius today, and I want to try to understand it better:

"But, in fact, the good God has given them a share in His own Image, that is, in our Lord Jesus Christ, and has made even themselves after the same Image and Likeness. Why? Simply in order that through this gift of Godlikeness in themselves they may be able to perceive the Image Absolute, that is the Word Himself, and through Him to apprehend the Father; which knowledge of their Maker is for men the only really happy and blessed life." (On the Incarnation, ยง11)

St. Athanasius is pretty clearly saying that the Word is the image of God the Father. This certainly makes sense in the light of last Friday's Gospel reading, "He who has seen me has seen the Father; so how can you say, 'Show us the Father'?" (John 14:9). I also know that man is rational because he is made in the image of God, and that the word logos means 'rationality' as well as 'word'. So it would make sense to say that man is made to bear the logos of God.

I'm only surprised because I've never heard this said explicitly anywhere else. That's especially surprising considering how important images are to Orthodox theology in general. Is it generally accepted that the Word/Son is the image of the Father, or is there disagreement? Should we understand this imaging in the way that we understand an icon, or is it a different kind of imaging?

Thank you,
Jeremy

#2 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 11 June 2011 - 01:04 PM

Jeremy Troy wrote:

I'm only surprised because I've never heard this said explicitly anywhere else. That's especially surprising considering how important images are to Orthodox theology in general. Is it generally accepted that the Word/Son is the image of the Father, or is there disagreement? Should we understand this imaging in the way that we understand an icon, or is it a different kind of imaging?


The Word as image of the Father is very commonly referred to by the Fathers. However the image of God in man, or the icon as image of the divine, has a crucial difference from the Word as the image of the Father. For the first two images (of God in man, and of the icon) are referential images only & not identical in nature. However the Word is the Divine Image of the Father, One in essence although distinct as Person. A phrase that expresses this crucial difference and that I think works very well is: the Word is the express image of the Father.

In Christ-
Fr Raphael

#3 Jeremy Troy

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Posted 13 June 2011 - 04:48 AM

Bless, Father! Thank you for the explanation

I noticed also the following line during the kneeling prayers today:

"For thou art the Brightness of the Father, the express Image, inalterable and immovable, of his essence and nature, the Fountain of wisdom and grace."

Jeremy

#4 Richard A. Downing

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Posted 13 June 2011 - 12:31 PM

Hmm? I wonder if we have another one of those problems with English here? Actually also in Greek, even, so human language then. "Image" seems to convey so much more than the modern pedantic definition. Certainly the prayer you quote Jeremy, and Fr Raphael's use of various adjectives such as "express", implies that the word we use is only a pale shadow (extending the visual metaphor) of the fullness that the concept "Image" has in scripture and orthodox iconography.

I have been thinking and praying around the subject of prelest (the mistaken image!) for some time, so this thread is timely for me.

Love, Richard.

#5 paula hughes

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 03:21 PM

Can anyone help with this question from a young friend of mine?


One of my biggest theological questions in my mind is: is there human nature in God
BEFORE incarnation? no one gave me a precise answer...while I love thinking
that God was always human and divine..(otherwise He changed! is God
changeable?) that's way in Genesis Adam was made similar to God and so
was..human! Jesus, the New Adam, made this human nature manifest.

Some greek Fathers, like Saint Justin, said something like this..I must pray
about this before thinking..


 



#6 Rahul-IN

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Posted 05 July 2015 - 09:30 AM

Dear ms paula,
I too would like insight on the subject from the knowledgeable fathers and people here.
 
I as an unlearnt christian have minimal understanding. It seems to me that Christ himself speaks of himself - seemingly to me as alluding to his person 'Jesus Christ', but that may not be a given as I don't think there is a clarification - I am the Alpha and the Omega [he who was and will be, the beginning and the end]; that Jesus Christ always was, in some way,  could possibly be interpreted from one of the verses which speaks of the Lamb that was sacrificed from eternity. It would be fallacious to say that God is changeable, that would be admitting a deficit in his perfection, it would also be a heresy, correct me if I'm wrong, to separate the divine and human nature of Christ, so this seems to relates to the mystery that God, being eternal and infinite, also became something that was temporal and finite seems to be a big mystery, and since we can't separate the two natures of Christ (not God who is also man, but "God-man"), it seems incorrect to say that the divine did not become temporal and finite, and seemingly the converse would also seem to hold true, it makes sense that the human became eternal and infinite, so as one - God-man - I think they call it something like 'theanthropos', not theo and anthropos, but 'theanthropos', okay that's probably not the correct spelling but hope I am right.
 
I would welcome the proper patristic-based interpretation on the subject from the people here.
 
A wonderful mystery to me seems to me the very miracle, that I, myself, am living my life /right now/ ! Not 6000 years ago, not 6000 years in the future, but I exist and live.. at this time, presently, now. That to me, is so wonderful and miraculous.
 
ms hughes, I do hope you come back and some of the people here clarify the issue and you can give an correct answer to your friend. 


#7 Rahul-IN

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Posted 05 July 2015 - 09:01 PM

I would also like to say that it not my intention to deny Orthodox doctrine on the nature of Christ - which I believe is two distinct natures in one person, inseparable yet without confusion. But it must be said, that it cannot be denied that God, being eternal and infinite, was also present in the temporal, finite womb of the Theotokos (not part of him, but wholly present is I believe the correct idea). So to deny that God being eternal can be temporal, finite, though a paradox, makes a lot of things fall apart. God, as a whole, Jesus Christ as a whole, divine-human, was present in the womb of Mary, in finity and temporalness. So I suggest it may not be far-fetched to think that Christ as whole, human-divine could at least as a possibility exist eternally.

 

I hope people can clarify if it is wrong to think this way or very poor thinking on my part.


Edited by Rahul-IN, 05 July 2015 - 09:12 PM.





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