Sunday, July 7, 2013

Irenaeus's Interest in the Figure of 'His Man' (Hominen Ejus)

It surprised me to learn that there a great number of 'His man' references concentrated in the Fifth Book of Irenaeus's Against Heresies.  We read J N D Kelly write in his Early Christian Doctrines:

A rather different Christology has been suspected to lie behind his habit of referring4 to 'the God' and 'His man' (e.g. 'both confessing the God and firmly accepting His man'), as if the humanity were almost an independent person vis-a-vis the Word. [p. 148]

Some examples include:

And inasmuch as the apostle has not pronounced against the very substance of flesh and blood, that it cannot inherit the kingdom of God, the same apostle has everywhere adopted the term "flesh and blood" with regard to the Lord Jesus Christ, partly indeed to establish His man (hominem ejus) - for He did Himself speak of Himself as the Son of man - and partly that He might confirm the salvation of our flesh. [ibid 5.14.1] 

Remember, therefore, my beloved friend, that thou hast been redeemed by the flesh of our Lord, re-established by His blood; and "holding the Head, from which the whole body of the Church, having been fitted together, takes increase"--that is, acknowledging the advent in the flesh of the Son of God, and [His] divinity, and looking forward with constancy to His man (hominen ejus), availing thyself also of these proofs drawn from Scripture--thou dost easily overthrow, as I have pointed out, all those notions of the heretics which were concocted afterwards. [ibid 5.14.4]

And to these things does John also, the disciple of the Lord, bear witness, when he speaks thus in the Gospel: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. This was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was nothing made." And then he said of the Word Himself: "He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. To His own things He came, and His own people received Him not. However, as many as did receive Him, to these gave He power to become the sons of God, to those that believe in His name." And again, showing the dispensation with regard to His man (ejus secundum hominem), John said: "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us." And in continuation he says, "And we beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only-begotten by the Father, full of grace and truth." [ibid 5.18.2]

The heretics being all unlearned and ignorant of God's arrangements, and not acquainted with that dispensation by which He took upon Him man (inscii ejus quoe est secundum hominem dispensationis), inasmuch as they blind themselves with regard to the truth, do in fact speak against their own salvation. [ibid 5.19.2]

Fasting forty days, like Moses and Elias, He afterwards hungered, first, in order that we may perceive that His man was a real and substantial (ut hominem eum verum et firmum intelligamus) --for it belongs to a man to suffer hunger when fasting; and secondly, that His opponent might have an opportunity of attacking Him.[ibid 5.21.2]

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