Friday, July 5, 2013

Tertullian on ΙΣ as the איש in Genesis 32

Listen carefully to the argument of Tertullian in Against Praxeas - Jesus is the ish in Genesis 32:

Once more, we have the support, in our vindication of the duality of the Father and the Son, of that rule which has defined God as invisible. For when Moses in Egypt had expressed a desire for the sight of God, saying, If therefore I have found grace in thy sight shew thyself to me that I may knowledgeably see thee, said, Thou canst not see my face, for a man will not see my . face and live - that is, he who, sees it will die. For we find that God was seen, even by many, yet that none of those who had seen him died-that God was seen, of course, according to men's capacity, not according to the fulness of his divinity. For patriarchs are related to have seen God, as Abraham and Jacob, and prophets, as Isaiah, as Ezekiel, yet they did not die. Therefore they either ought to have died, if they had seen him - for no man will see God and live: or, if they saw God and did not die, the scripture says falsely that God said, If a man sees my face he shall not live 2: or else the scripture speaks falsely when it alleges that God was seen. So then it will be another who was seen, for it is impossible for the same one who was seen, to be characterised as invisible: and it will follow that we must understand the Father as invisible because of the fulness of his majesty, but must acknow- ledge the Son as visible because of the enumeration of his deriva- tion, just as we may not look upon the sun in respect of the total of its substance which is in the sky, though we can with our eyes bear its beam because of the moderation of the assignment which from thence reaches out to the earth. Here one of our adversaries will wish to contend that the Son also is invisible as Word and as Spirit, and, maintaining that the Father and the Son are in like case, to affirm rather that Father and Son are one and the same. But we have deposed that the scripture, by its distinguishing of visible and invisible, advocates a difference. For they also add this to their quibbling, that if on that occasion it was the Son speaking to Moses he pronounced his own face visible to no man, because of course he was the invisible Father himself under the name of Son. And consequently they wish the visible one and the invisible one to be taken as identical, in the same way as they wish Father and Son identical, because also a little earlier, before he refused Moses the sight of his face, it is written that the Lord spake to Moses face to face as a man speaks to his friend, 4 and furthermore that Jacob says, I have seen the Lord face to face: consequently the same one is visible and invisible: and because the same one has both attributes, therefore also the invisible Father is himself visible, as being also Son. As though the explanation of the scripture which we offer did not, leaving the Father out of question, befit the Son in his own visibility. For we say that the Son also on his own account is, as Word and Spirit, invisible even now by the quality of his substance; but that he was visible before the incarnation in the manner in which he says to Aaron and Miriam, Although there be a prophet among you, I shall become known to him in a vision and shall speak to him in a dream; not as with my servant Moses shall I speak to him mouth to mouth in manifestation 1 - that is, in truth - and not in an enigma - that is, not in imagination: as also says the apostle, Now we see as in a mirror in an enigma, but then face to face. Therefore since for Moses he reserves for the future the sight of himself and conversation with himself face to face (for this was fulfilled afterwards when he withdrew into a mountain, as we read in the Gospel that Moses was seen talking with him), it is clear that always aforetime God - that is, the Son of God - was seen in a mirror and an enigma and a vision and a dream, both by prophets and patriarchs and Moses himself till that time: and if perchance the Lord did speak in visual presence, yet a man would not see his face as he really is, but only perchance in a mirror and in an enigma. Lastly, if the Lord spoke to Moses in such sort that Moses knew his face from near to, why does he immediately at the same moment ask to see his face, which if he had seen he would not ask to see? Equally, why does the Lord deny that his face can be seen, though he had let him see it, if indeed he had let him see it? Or what face of God is that, the sight of which is refused? If there was which was seen - I have seen, says Jacob, God face to face and my life is preserved - there must be another face which slays if it is seen. Or is it that the Son indeed was seen - albeit in face, yet even this in a vision and a dream and a mirror and an enigma, because Word and Spirit cannot be seen except in imaginary aspect - yet by his face he means the invisible Father? For who is the Father? Shall he be the Son's face, on account of the authority which he obtains as, begotten of the Father? For is it not of some greater personage that it befits one to say, "That man is my face", or "He gives me face" ? [Against Praxeas 14]

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