Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume V/Novatian/A Treatise of Novatian Concerning the Trinity/Part 10
Chapter X. Argument.—That Jesus Christ is the Son of God and Truly Man, as Opposed to the Fancies of Heretics, Who Deny that He Took Upon Him True Flesh.
But of this I remind you, that Christ was not to be expected in the Gospel in any other wise than as He was promised before by the Creator, in the Scriptures of the Old Testament; especially as the things that were predicted of Him were fulfilled, and those things that were fulfilled had been predicted. As with reason I might truly and constantly say to that fanciful—I know not what—of those heretics who reject the authority of the Old Testament, as to a Christ feigned and coloured up from old wives’ fables: “Who art thou? Whence art thou? By whom art thou sent? Wherefore hast thou now chosen to come? Why such as thou art? Or how hast thou been able to come? Or wherefore hast thou not gone to thine own, except that thou hast proved that thou hast none of thine own, by coming to those of another? What hast thou to do with the Creator’s world? What hast thou to do with the Creator’s man? What hast thou to do with the image of a body from which thou takest away the hope of resurrection? Why comest thou to another man’s servant, and desirest thou to solicit another man’s son? Why dost thou strive to take me away from the Lord? Why dost thou compel me to blaspheme, and to be impious to my Father? Or what shall I gain from thee in the resurrection, if I do not receive myself when I lose my body? If thou wishest to save, thou shouldest have made a man to whom to give salvation. If thou desirest to snatch from sin, thou shouldest have granted to me previously that I should not fall into sin. But what approbation of law dost thou carry about with thee? What testimony of the prophetic word hast thou? Or what substantial good can I promise myself from thee, when I see that thou hast come in a phantasm and not in a bodily substance? What, then, hast thou to do with the form of a body, if thou hatest a body? Nay, thou wilt be refuted as to the hatred of bearing about the substance of a body, since thou hast been willing even to take up its form. For thou oughtest to have hated the imitation of a body, if thou hatedst the reality; because, if thou art something else, thou oughtest to have come as something else, lest thou shouldest be called the Son of the Creator if thou hadst even the likeness of flesh and body. Assuredly, if thou hatedst being born because thou hatedst ‘the Creator’s marriage-union,’ thou oughtest to refuse even the likeness of a man who is born by the ‘marriage of the Creator.’”
Neither, therefore, do we acknowledge that that is a Christ of the heretics who was—as it is said—in appearance and not in reality; for of those things which he did, he could have done nothing real, if he himself was a phantasm, and not reality. Nor him who wore nothing of our body in himself, seeing “he received nothing from Mary;” neither did he come to us, since he appeared “as a vision, not in our substance.” Nor do we acknowledge that to be Christ who chose an ethereal or starry flesh, as some heretics have pretended. Nor can we perceive any salvation of ours in him, if in him we do not even recognise the substance of our body; nor, in short, any other who may have worn any other kind of fabulous body of heretical device. For all such fables as these are confuted as well by the nativity as by the death itself of our Lord. For John says: “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us;” so that, reasonably, our body should be in Him, because indeed the Word took on Him our flesh. And for this reason blood flowed forth from His hands and feet, and from His very side, so that He might be proved to be a sharer in our body by dying according to the laws of our dissolution. And that He was raised again in the same bodily substance in which He died, is proved by the wounds of that very body, and thus He showed the laws of our resurrection in His flesh, in that He restored the same body in His resurrection which He had from us. For a law of resurrection is established, in that Christ is raised up in the substance of the body as an example for the rest; because, when it is written that “flesh and blood do not inherit the kingdom of God,” it is not the substance of the flesh that is condemned, which was built up by the divine hands that it should not perish, but only the guilt of the flesh is rightly rebuked, which by the voluntary daring of man rebelled against the claims of divine law. Because in baptism and in the dissolution of death the flesh is raised up and returns to salvation, by being recalled to the condition of innocency when the mortality of guilt is put away.
- John i. 14. [Of fables and figments, see cap. viii. p. 617.]
- 1 Cor. xvi. 50. [Vol. iii. p. 521, this series.]