AthanasiusIn what precedes we have drawn out…a sufficient account of the error of the heathen concerning idols,

—and of the worship of idols, and how they originally came to be invented;

—how, namely, out of wickedness men devised for themselves the worshipping of idols.

And we have by God’s grace noted also of the divinity of the Word of the Father,

—and of His universal Providence and power,

—and that the Good Father through Him orders all things,

—and all things are moved by Him, and in Him are quickened.

Come now, true lover of Christ, let us follow up the faith of our religion (τῆς εὐσεβείας – cf. 1 Tim. 3:16), and set forth also what relates to the Word’s becoming Man, and to His divine appearing amongst us…in order that, all the more for the seeming low estate of the Word, your piety toward Him may be increased and multiplied.

For the more He is mocked among the unbelieving, the more witness does He give of His own Godhead. He not only Himself demonstrates as possible what men mistake, thinking impossible, but what men deride as unseemly, this by His own goodness He clothes with seemliness.

And what men, in their conceit of wisdom, laugh at as merely human, He by His own power demonstrates to be divine, subduing the pretensions of idols by His supposed humiliation—by the Cross—and invisibly winning over to recognise His divinity and power those who mock and disbelieve.

But to treat this subject it is necessary to recall what has been previously said, in order that you may neither fail to know the cause of the bodily appearing of the Word of the Father, so high and so great, nor think it a consequence of His own nature that the Saviour has worn a body.

Rather, being incorporeal by nature, and being Word from the beginning, He has yet of the loving-kindness and goodness of His own Father been manifested to us in a human body for our salvation.

It is, then, proper for us to begin the treatment of this subject by speaking of the creation of the universe, and of God its Artificer, that so it may be duly perceived that the renewal of creation has been the work of the self-same Word that made it at the beginning.

For it will appear not inconsonant for the Father to have wrought its salvation in Him by Whose means He made it.

Athanasius of Alexandria (c.293-373): On the Incarnation of the Word, 1 (slightly adapted).

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