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December 22, 2013

The Fleshless and Incarnate Logos

By His Eminence Metropolitan Hierotheos
of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

The center of the Old and New Testament is Christ, with the difference that, in the Old Testament the Prophets saw the fleshless Logos, while in the New Testament the Apostles and the deified see the incarnate Logos. All the revelations of God in history, are revelations of the Son and Logos of God. In the Old Testament the Logos of God is the Angel of Great Counsel, the Angel of Glory, while in the New Testament the Logos of God becomes Christ, for the divine nature, by virtue of the hypostatic union of the divine and human nature in the person of the Logos, anointed human nature.

In a hymn written by Saint John of Damascus, it is written: "Although previously fleshless, afterward You became incarnate for us." Saint John of Damascus even teaches that the name "Christ" is a name of the hypostasis and not the nature. He writes: "We say that the name 'Christ' is the name of the hypostasis, not in the sense of one kind, but as signifying the existence of two natures. For He anointed Himself; as God He anointed His body with His own divinity, and as Man He was anointed. For He is Himself both one and the other. Thus the divinity anointed His humanity." He goes on to say: "For Christ, which name implies both natures, is spoken of as at once God and man, created and uncreated, subject to suffering and incapable of suffering."

Every passage used by Christ from the Old Testament in His teaching, as well as the passages interpreted by the Holy Apostles and referenced the revelations of God, are passages related to the revelation/appearance of the fleshless Logos. Yahweh of the Old Testament is He who is, who was and is to come, the Son and Logos of God, the Christ.

The Old Testament speaks of the divine nature of the Logos, while the New Testament, after the incarnation of the Logos of God, speaks of His divine and human natures which are united hypostatically to the person of the Logos and empower this hypostatic union and the exchange of properties of the two natures. The New Testament names as "Christ" the Lord of Glory and the Angel of Great Counsel of the Old Testament. So the name "Christ" is also referred to in the Old Testament and attributed to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Saint John of Damascus says that when Christ is called "Son of God" He accepts the properties of human nature, which is united with His divine nature hypostatically, and when He is called "son of man" He declares that He accepts the properties and glorying of the divine nature. And this is because of the exchange of properties of each nature, for there is the identity of the hypostasis and the partaking of the two natures. For this reason we can say of Christ: "This is our God seen on the earth" and "This man is uncreated, passionless and indescribable."

The teaching of the Fathers of the Church is clear that the revelations of God in the Old Testament are revelations of the fleshless Logos. The appearance of the Prophet Moses and the Prophet Elijah on Mount Tabor, during the Transfiguration of Christ, shows this reality, that these great prophets during the course of their lives saw the fleshless Logos, who now recognize Him in the flesh. This also happened with Abraham, who according to Christ rejoiced: "Our father Abraham rejoiced to see this day, and he saw it and was glad" (Jn. 8:56). This is also shown by the fact that the Risen Christ interpreted to the Disciples walking towards Emmaus all that referred to Him in the Scriptures which had taken place. Specifically, Luke the Evangelist writes: "And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself" (Lk. 24:27).

There are some who separate the vision and the revelation of the Prophet Daniel from other revelations of God in the Old Testament, and they speak of the revelation of God to Daniel as the Ancient of Days as a revelation of God the Father.

Specifically, in the book of the Prophet Daniel this divine vision is described as follows:

"As I looked, thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze. A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him. Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was seated, and the books were opened. Then I continued to watch because of the boastful words the horn was speaking. I kept looking until the beast was slain and its body destroyed and thrown into the blazing fire. (The other beasts had been stripped of their authority, but were allowed to live for a period of time.) In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence" (Dan. 7:9-13).

This vision records two persons, one the Ancient of Days sitting on a throne, and the other the son of man coming on the clouds of heaven who came to the place where the Ancient of Days was sitting. There is a rich theological analysis around the interpretation of this prophecy, regarding who the Ancient of Days is, whether it be the Father or the Son. There are texts that support the Ancient of Days is the Father and the son of man is Christ, and there are other texts that support they are one and the same person, the Son and Logos of God, who as the Ancient of Days became man, without discarding His divinity. And in this way the Ancient of Days sitting on a throne is connected and identified with the future Judge.

The patristic and hymnological tradition mainly accepts the second interpretation, that it is one and the same person, that the Ancient of Days is the Fleshless Logos, for no one has seen the Father according to the clear words of Christ, and that the son of man is described as the incarnate Ancient of Days. Also, all the Theophanies of the Old Testament are revealtions of the Logos and, of course, if the Ancient of Days is the Father and not the Son, then we cannot explain why the Son and not the Father was incarnated.

Therefore, the authentic interpretive analysis of the vision of the Prophet Daniel is that it is not two persons, but one and the same person, since the Ancient of Days is the Son and Logos of God who is united and is ageless with the Father and the Holy Spirit; the Son who in due time became man and, of course, at His Second Coming will judge mankind.

Source: Ekklesiastiki Paremvasi, "Άσαρκος και σεσαρκωμένος Λόγος", December 2003. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.