Among my favorite Patristic texts is St. Athanasius’ On the Incarnation, one of the foundational texts of orthodox christology. I have used this text as both devotional reading as well as academic material. More than once, I have delved into it while preparing sermons. A few lines in particular have become “go to” lines. Consider the oft quoted gem, “God became man, that man might become God.” Seriously, how much is contained in this line? In some sense, it contains the gospel itself.
Athanasius was a bishop during the early church controversies on the person of Christ. He stood firmly against Arianism, which sought to reduce Christ to merely a human being, rather than a union of humanity and divinity. This is perhaps his most well known, and perhaps, well loved, text. C. S. Lewis himself wrote preface to an edition in the early twentieth century, and that preface has been included here.
The version I have is the St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press Greek/English edition. Above I linked to the English only edition. I like the Greek/English edition, but if you don’t think you will use the Greek, then the English edition is cheaper, so it’s probably better to go that route.
Perhaps the most poignant line in the entire text is this:
For only upon the cross does one die with hands stretched out. Therefore it was fitting for the Lord to endure this, and to stretch out his hands, that with the one he might draw the ancient people and with the other those from the gentiles, and join both together in himself. This he himself said when he indicated by what manner of death he was going to redeem all, ‘When I am lifted up, I shall draw all to myself.”(De Incarnatione, 25)
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