Patristic Lectionary – 10 January – St. Gregory of Nyssa; Monday after the Baptism of the Lord

Patristic Lectionary – 10 January – St. Gregory of Nyssa; Monday after the Baptism of the Lord

[Consonant with both Anglicanism’s and monasticism’s love of patristic theology-spirituality, this is a series of occasional selections from a two-year lectionary for the Divine Office that draws mostly from patristic writings.  The lectionary was initially edited by Stephen Mark Holmes (University of Edinburgh School of Divinity) and subsequently re-edited and formatted by Michele Freyhauf (Durham University).  Click here for the link to the lectionary.  R. M. Healey’s edition is also used if there are lacunae in the Durham edition.  Click here for the link to Healey’s formatting of the lectionary.]

[Image: Detail from Michelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam” (ca. 1512)]

Genesis 1:1 – 2:4A

The Creation of Heaven and Earth

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.

And God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” And God made the firmament and separated the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament. And it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.

And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. And God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, upon the earth.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, a third day.

And God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, and let them be lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. And God made the two great lights, the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night; he made the stars also.

And God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light upon the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.

And God said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the firmament of the heavens.” So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” And there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day.

And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the cattle according to their kinds, and everything that creeps upon the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, a sixth day.

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work which he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all his work which he had done in creation.

These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created.

St. Irenaeus

Adversus Haereses (Against Heresies) 5.1.3, 6.1, 16.2 (tr. Pluscarden)

The heretics do not accept the Incarnation and so they remain in Adam who was conquered and cast out of Paradise. They fail to see that, just as when we were formed in Adam the breath of life was added to make a rational animal, so, at the end, the Word of the Father and the Spirit of God were united to the same ancient substance of Adam. This made man truly alive and perfect, capable of knowing the perfect Father. It was done so that, as in the ‘animal man’ we all die, so in the ‘spiritual man’ we might all be made alive. Adam at no time escaped the hands of God, the Son and the Spirit, to whom the Father said, Let us make man in our image and likeness. That is why, at the end, not by the will of the flesh or the will of a man, but by the good pleasure of the Father, these hands of God made the living Man, so that Adam might come at last into the image and likeness of God.

The soul and the spirit may be part of man, but they are certainly not the complete man. The complete man is a mixture and a union: the soul, which has received the Spirit of the Father, mixed with the flesh fashioned in the image of God. If you take away the substance of the flesh, the shaped clay, and consider just the naked spirit, what you are left with is not ‘the spiritual man’, but merely ‘the spirit of a man’ or ‘the Spirit of God’. However, when this Spirit is blended with the soul and united to the shaped clay, the result, thanks to the outpouring of the Spirit, is a spiritual and complete man. It is this, the complete man, who is made in the image and likeness of God. Thus the Apostle, in his first letter to the Thessalonians, explains that the redeemed man is this complete and spiritual man: May the God of peace sanctify you completely, and may your whole being, spirit and soul and body, be kept blameless at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The truth of all this was shown when the Word of God became man. He assimilated himself to man and man to himself, so that man, by his resemblance to the Son, might become precious to the Father. For in times past it was merely said that man was made in the image of God, but not shown, because the Word, in whose image man was made, was still invisible. That is why man lost the likeness so easily. But when the Word of God was made flesh, he confirmed both things: he showed the true image, when he himself became what his image was; and he restored the likeness, making man like the invisible Father through the visible Word.

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