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Author Topic: Humanity of Christ: did (does) He look like His mother?  (Read 16814 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: May 02, 2008, 02:24:00 PM »

Any thoughts? Was/Is there a similarity between His physical traits and the traits of the Theotokos?

Thanks!

G.
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« Reply #1 on: May 02, 2008, 02:42:23 PM »

one obvious difference. Mary was a female, and He is male.   Wink
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« Reply #2 on: May 02, 2008, 02:46:31 PM »

one obvious difference. Mary was a female, and He is male.   Wink

I knew that much.  Grin
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« Reply #3 on: May 02, 2008, 03:18:50 PM »

I would assume so.  His flesh was her flesh as we pray in our churches.

But in a spiritual manner, to every culture people drew Christ looking like them as well.  To the Africans, He was black.  To the Europeans, He had blue eyes and blonde hair.  To the Far East Asians, His eyes were smaller, and to the Egyptians, His eyes were bigger.

In a way, the moral:  while we may in reality can say that there was a lot of physical resemblance between Him and His mother (after all, that is always true of offspring), we tend to make Christ physically resemble all of us to relate to His consubstantiality with all of humanity.

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« Reply #4 on: May 02, 2008, 03:21:14 PM »

while we may in reality can say that there was a lot of physical resemblance between Him and His mother (after all, that is always true of offspring), we tend to make Christ physically resemble all of us to relate to His consubstantiality with all of humanity.

The above is certainly correct, but the reason we look like our parents is that we inherit their genes, their DNA. That was certainly not the case for Chrst, correct?
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« Reply #5 on: May 02, 2008, 03:23:22 PM »

The above is certainly correct, but the reason we look like our parents is that we inherit their genes, their DNA. That was certainly not the case for Chrst, correct?

Well, this we don't know.  I don't know how He got the Y chromosome.  All I know is that somehow, He took flesh from her with the miraculous workings of the Holy Spirit.

We stress also very strongly that He is the successor of Judah, David, and Solomon.  If of such importance, then yes, somehow, genetically, He inherited something from His own mother.
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« Reply #6 on: May 02, 2008, 05:52:30 PM »

You mean we don't have the Happy Memories photo album of Jesus and his family?  That would solve this mystery once and for all! Grin
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« Reply #7 on: May 02, 2008, 06:06:23 PM »

The above is certainly correct, but the reason we look like our parents is that we inherit their genes, their DNA. That was certainly not the case for Chrst, correct?

IIRC, He was conceived from one of His mother's gametes, one of her egg cells.  He was truly her son; this wasn't just some kind of cosmic in-vitro thing.  The genetic material He had that didn't come from her (including that Y chromosome) must be part of the miracle.
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« Reply #8 on: May 02, 2008, 08:58:45 PM »

Since God made the rules for DNA and genetic inheritence, I think he could tweek them to work any way He wanted. Which, I think, is what everyone is saying. But, I would think that he must have had some family resemblence just to emphasise that He was part of that particular family line.
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« Reply #9 on: May 02, 2008, 09:11:24 PM »

 Oh, oh, ....I hadn't thought of this for quite a long time...  [excited jumping]

There is a process called Parthenogenesis. This is where a female organism can give birth without the benefits of the males. Many arthropods, as well as a few fish, and one species of lizard routinely reproduce in this manner. These organisms usually only indulge in the male's contrabution in times of stress to the population. Faaaaacinating!!!!!!! Grin

forgot the best part..... They can put out the males (without the benefit of a male) when they need them......
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« Reply #10 on: May 02, 2008, 11:34:29 PM »

forgot the best part..... They can put out the males (without the benefit of a male) when they need them......
But this is only possible in parthenogenesis if two like chromosomes determine male gender. The gender which is determined by the like chromosomes is called the "homogametic sex". In humans and other species which use the XY chromosomes, two different chromosomes are required to determine male gender (XY), and two like chromosomes (XX) determine the female. Thus the female is the "homogametic sex" in any species which uses the XY chromosomes- therefore any offspring produced by parthenogenesis in these species must be female.
However, some species such as birds, some fish and some insects use the "ZW" sex determination system where the sex is determined by the ovum rather than the sperm. In the ZW chromosome system, the male sex is the "homogametic sex" (ZZ) while the females are the "heterogametic sex" (ZW). In these species, parthenogenetic offspring are male. Bees are an example of this (I'm an apiarists btw!). If the queen dies, the female worker bees will parthenogenetically lay unfertilized eggs, and these develop into male "drones" which will mate with the future queen.
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« Reply #11 on: May 03, 2008, 08:24:00 AM »

I know about parthenogenesis, and I can certainly imagine Christ as a human developing from a female gamete that has been somehow, miraculously, "supplemented" with some extra genetic material. But that still makes Christ-man a genetic descendant of "adam," of the human race. His mother's genes are still human genes, "adam"'s genes.
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« Reply #12 on: May 03, 2008, 09:36:31 AM »

Ozgeorge,
as I said, its been a while. The specifics do get fuzzy. (my college teachers would say "use it or loose it" ) But it seems that there was something a bit odder about the way that lizard's genetics worked. Oh, I just don't remember enought to even look it up anymore, just enought to know there was "something". But at any rate, the point is that if God has built so much variation into regular existance, then it is logical that the genetics of Jesus could have a sensible explination (for those of us like to think about this stuff).
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« Reply #13 on: May 03, 2008, 10:24:07 AM »

Ozgeorge,
as I said, its been a while. The specifics do get fuzzy. (my college teachers would say "use it or loose it" ) But it seems that there was something a bit odder about the way that lizard's genetics worked. Oh, I just don't remember enought to even look it up anymore, just enought to know there was "something". But at any rate, the point is that if God has built so much variation into regular existance, then it is logical that the genetics of Jesus could have a sensible explination (for those of us like to think about this stuff).

But what genetics are we talking about? He became fully human, and yet He is a "New Adam," NOT a descendant of the old "adam." Right or not?
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« Reply #14 on: May 03, 2008, 12:26:23 PM »

But what genetics are we talking about? He became fully human, and yet He is a "New Adam," NOT a descendant of the old "adam." Right or not?
The reason he is call the new Adam. Is because in the old Adam all man die. In Christ all man will be made alive. He reversed the destiny of man. That doesn't necessarily mean his body hasn't come from the old Adam. Only that he redirected the course of all of Adams descendants that are in him.
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« Reply #15 on: May 03, 2008, 12:34:32 PM »

But what genetics are we talking about? He became fully human, and yet He is a "New Adam," NOT a descendant of the old "adam." Right or not?

In light of understanding the miracle, I think we have to think about how the ancients thought of child-bearing.  If I'm not mistaken, they believed that man bore a "seed," literally the only need of a child, which meant that the woman's womb is a soil.  The idea of an egg did not enter their minds.  All the child "genetic information" if you will was in that sperm.  (case in point:  when a woman said she is "barren", it was no different from saying the land is barren)

So for Christ to take flesh somehow from the Virgin Mary and be born without the seed of man was indeed something that cannot be explained for these people.  The idea behind being a child "without seed" was completely foreign.  It is just as strange as Christ's healing of the man born blind, a man who had no eyes for Christ to work with.

If we are to understand the birth of Christ in modern understanding, we still have an interesting dilemma, that we can't even explain how.  In faith, we do believe that Christ is a descendant of the Old Adam, and because He had no "seed," He wanted to show us that He is the one who would become a "New Adam," a new creation.
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« Reply #16 on: May 03, 2008, 12:40:37 PM »

But what genetics are we talking about? He became fully human, and yet He is a "New Adam," NOT a descendant of the old "adam." Right or not?

Seeing as Jesus had cells, I would think he had DNA. But, as to exactly what genes he did and didn't have, I've no clue. As to how much was from Mary, and how much just went "poof! there it is" I haven't any clue. Because, fascinating as these assorted processes of progeneration of species are, they just don't occur in humans, so something supernatural- as in "beyond nature"- occurred. (But then, we all already knew that much).
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« Reply #17 on: May 03, 2008, 02:28:48 PM »

But what genetics are we talking about? He became fully human, and yet He is a "New Adam," NOT a descendant of the old "adam." Right or not?
Well, Jesus is a descendant of King David, is He not?  And, according to both genealogies of Ss. Matthew and Luke, David was a descendant of Abraham, was he not?  And, according to the genealogy of St. Luke, Abraham was a descendant of Adam, was he not?  I think it important to realize, therefore, that if Jesus is a man (as we all believe He is), and IF all men are descendants of a common ancestor (i.e., Adam), then Jesus MUST be a descendant of this common ancestor.
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« Reply #18 on: May 04, 2008, 08:43:23 AM »

Well, Jesus is a descendant of King David, is He not?  And, according to both genealogies of Ss. Matthew and Luke, David was a descendant of Abraham, was he not?  And, according to the genealogy of St. Luke, Abraham was a descendant of Adam, was he not?  I think it important to realize, therefore, that if Jesus is a man (as we all believe He is), and IF all men are descendants of a common ancestor (i.e., Adam), then Jesus MUST be a descendant of this common ancestor.

Wel, that's exactly what I am asking. In the Gospel accounts, the text says, "AS IT WAS THOUGHT" (e.g. Luke 3:23). Was He, actually? Strictly biologically? I don't know that.
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« Reply #19 on: May 04, 2008, 09:20:27 AM »

In light of understanding the miracle, I think we have to think about how the ancients thought of child-bearing.  If I'm not mistaken, they believed that man bore a "seed," literally the only need of a child, which meant that the woman's womb is a soil.  The idea of an egg did not enter their minds.  All the child "genetic information" if you will was in that sperm.  (case in point:  when a woman said she is "barren", it was no different from saying the land is barren)

So for Christ to take flesh somehow from the Virgin Mary and be born without the seed of man was indeed something that cannot be explained for these people.  The idea behind being a child "without seed" was completely foreign.  It is just as strange as Christ's healing of the man born blind, a man who had no eyes for Christ to work with.

If we are to understand the birth of Christ in modern understanding, we still have an interesting dilemma, that we can't even explain how.  In faith, we do believe that Christ is a descendant of the Old Adam, and because He had no "seed," He wanted to show us that He is the one who would become a "New Adam," a new creation.

Yes, I agree with the first part, i.e. that the ancients viewed the mother as merely an "incubator," a place for nourishment of a fetus that had already been pre-formed in the father's "seed" (sperm, seminal fluid). Aristotle wrote about the "homunculus" living in a man's seminal fluid, and envisioned the mother as a machine that merely provides "food" for this "homunculus" to grow. Van Leeuwenhoek, when he discovered sperm cels, sketched them in his journal and placed a "homunculus" inside the sperm cell (a classical example of a scientist deviating from the principles of the scientific method under pressure of authority).

But what makes us believe that Christ's DNA was inherited from His mother? Rather that, say, created ex nihilo, like Adam's DNA is believed (by some) to have been?
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« Reply #20 on: May 04, 2008, 10:10:40 AM »

But what makes us believe that Christ's DNA was inherited from His mother? Rather that, say, created ex nihilo, like Adam's DNA is believed (by some) to have been?

To stress the idea that He is indeed a descendant of King David in some way according to the prophecies.  Perhaps, God took two X chromosomes and somehow shaped and recreated one of them into a Y chromosome.  Or the Y chromosome could be "ex nihilo" and the X could be from her just to stress the idea that He is indeed a New creation while still being a descendant.  Either way, in some way, there is still some importance into understanding that He descending from her Davidic lineage.  Let's just say that what makes it so miraculous is that we don't know how he got the Y chromosome, but at least we do know where he got the X.

However, I could be wrong.  I only say this because I don't know whether inheritance of genes truly matters (since we do say His flesh was her flesh) or whether all that matters was just to be born of her.  I haven't really thought about it.  I only assume that genes do matter somehow.  Perhaps, this is to be left as an unsolved mystery, only to understand its spiritual significance of the idea that Christ is the New creation, the New Adam.  But if according to patristic literature, if one could find something that alludes to the idea that He was indeed created ex nihilo while just growing and nourishing from her, I'll concede.

God bless.
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« Reply #21 on: May 04, 2008, 10:39:32 PM »

^Thank you, Mina, that's a very honest answer.

I was just thinking, if Christ has Mary's DNA, than all these theories (fantasies) about the change of human bodies from "light, ethereal" in the Paradise to "thick, cattle-like" as they supposedly are now (as concocted by St. Gregory of Nyssa et al.) are pure undiluted gibberish... Smiley
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« Reply #22 on: May 04, 2008, 11:03:04 PM »

I'm reminded of the quote by St. Gregory the Theologian that says "That which is not assumed is not healed."  If Christ did not take on our flesh -- iow, if His flesh was created ex nihilo -- then it would not be like our flesh.  Part of being a human being is having a human history, a genetic legacy.  Christ not only needed flesh taken from an actual human being in a certain genetic line (the Holy Mother from within the davidic line, in His case), but needed to take flesh from a human being in order to assume and heal the fallenness in said human being as well as in the race of which she is a part.

It's true; the mystery of His maleness will probably remain a mystery, but I would say that His taking of flesh from already-existing flesh is pretty vital to His being the incarnate Savior.

Just my $0.02.
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« Reply #23 on: May 05, 2008, 02:26:04 AM »

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« Reply #24 on: May 05, 2008, 08:39:14 AM »

The Apostles also believed it. Wink


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« Reply #25 on: May 05, 2008, 09:24:20 AM »

I'm reminded of the quote by St. Gregory the Theologian that says "That which is not assumed is not healed."  If Christ did not take on our flesh -- iow, if His flesh was created ex nihilo -- then it would not be like our flesh.  Part of being a human being is having a human history, a genetic legacy.  Christ not only needed flesh taken from an actual human being in a certain genetic line (the Holy Mother from within the davidic line, in His case), but needed to take flesh from a human being in order to assume and heal the fallenness in said human being as well as in the race of which she is a part.

It's true; the mystery of His maleness will probably remain a mystery, but I would say that His taking of flesh from already-existing flesh is pretty vital to His being the incarnate Savior.

Just my $0.02.

Thank you, DavidBryan.

But then, if Christ was entirely, completely human like us... then maybe Pelagius was right, after all?

You see, maybe I am missing something, but I am under the impression that St./Bl. Augustine won his famous debate with Pelagius EXCLUSIVELY because he (Augustine) insisted on the complete change of the mere human NATURE after the Fall. He claimed that the Pelagian statement "possere non peccare" is wrong because none of us, humans existing today, is "like Adam." The Fall, in Augustine's view, began a dramatic change in the mere nature of every single human being descending from Adam.

Now, Christ, BEING a descendant of "adam" in the biological sense, proved that it IS "possere non peccare," did He not?
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« Reply #26 on: May 06, 2008, 02:15:22 PM »

Thank you, DavidBryan.

But then, if Christ was entirely, completely human like us... then maybe Pelagius was right, after all?

You see, maybe I am missing something, but I am under the impression that St./Bl. Augustine won his famous debate with Pelagius EXCLUSIVELY because he (Augustine) insisted on the complete change of the mere human NATURE after the Fall. He claimed that the Pelagian statement "possere non peccare" is wrong because none of us, humans existing today, is "like Adam." The Fall, in Augustine's view, began a dramatic change in the mere nature of every single human being descending from Adam.

Now, Christ, BEING a descendant of "adam" in the biological sense, proved that it IS "possere non peccare," did He not?

According to what I've studied, it wasn't the human nature that changed, but our state of grace or communion with God.

There are some people who suggest that Pelagius may have been misunderstood.  In monachos.net, there's a Pelagian debate section that you can check out.

God bless.
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« Reply #27 on: May 06, 2008, 03:05:34 PM »

According to what I've studied, it wasn't the human nature that changed, but our state of grace or communion with God.

There are some people who suggest that Pelagius may have been misunderstood.  In monachos.net, there's a Pelagian debate section that you can check out.

God bless.

I've always got the feeling that Pelagius tossed an idea forth that he hadn't really fully explored or articulated which other people expanded upon.  Then Augustine got a hold of it, over analyzed it, then told Pelagius what he (Pelagius) believed and that it was wrong and why it was wrong and pretty much beat the poor man over the head with his idea so much that Pelagius himself ended up believing what Augustine told him he believed.  Pelagius just didn't have the head to totally understand what he was saying the way he said it and ended up becoming the subject of an anathema because he wasn't as erudite or "heady" as Augustine.  I'm not saying Augustine was wrong or trying to do evil, but that maybe Pelagius dove into a pool that was too deep for him, so to speak.

Just a feeling I get. Smiley
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« Reply #28 on: May 06, 2008, 03:14:45 PM »

I'm not denying Our Lord's Incarnation but are we sure that He 'literally' took on the Blessed Virgins DNA. As I understand it there is no Blood which penetrates the mother's womb during pregnancy. She could be very well considered an Ark of God (i.e.  a surrogate mother).  
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« Reply #29 on: May 06, 2008, 03:43:40 PM »

But then, if Christ was entirely, completely human like us... then maybe Pelagius was right, after all?

You see, maybe I am missing something, but I am under the impression that St./Bl. Augustine won his famous debate with Pelagius EXCLUSIVELY because he (Augustine) insisted on the complete change of the mere human NATURE after the Fall. He claimed that the Pelagian statement "[posse] non peccare" is wrong because none of us, humans existing today, is "like Adam." The Fall, in Augustine's view, began a dramatic change in the mere nature of every single human being descending from Adam.

Now, Christ, BEING a descendant of "adam" in the biological sense, proved that it IS "[posse] non peccare," did He not?

Well, I think that's problematic, particularly when you get into the fact that many (not all) Orthodox hold to a pious opinion that the Theotokos (some would also include the Forerunner) were without personal sin, but only because they cooperated with God, in His gracious presence, perfectly.  The Scriptures state that "we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin."  What are we to make of all this?  Is it possible for any man, in and of himself, to be without personal sin?  The Theotokos and the Forerunner, who sit at the right and left hand of Christ in His Kingdom (if I remember correctly...I think that's why they're positioned as they are in the iconostas), are obvious exceptions, and Christ is fully of the same substance with us in His humanity, yet He is also fully of the same substance with the Father in His divinity -- so He can hardly be compared to mere, mortal men who are not the incarnate Logos.

We are all bound up in death, and therefore all who fear death, sin.  We are bound up in death because we're children of Adam.  We still maintain the image of God in us, but it is marred, and this marred-God-image is called "in Adam's image and likeness" in Genesis after the Fall.  Christ took on our death-bound flesh, yes, but because He was able to unite it to perfect Life (His divine nature), Christ's human nature remained "posse non peccare."  He, the One from heaven, took the image of Adam and renewed it to the unmarred image of God, and it is the work we do throughout our lives that leads us to an ever-increasing "posse non peccare."

Yet, none of this work is ever divorced from the presence of the God-Man in us, for it is to Him that we are united.  Just as Christ was no mere man, neither are we "mere men" when bound to Christ.

I'm not sure if I'm making much sense, but I'll end with this: It seems that neither Pelagius nor Augustine shared what (I understand) is the eastern stance on the Fall.  Pelagius said, "Adam is created mortal and would have died even if he had never sinned." Augustine said, "Adam was created good and upright, he was happy and in communion with God…Adam would not have died if he had not sinned but...when he failed his depravity was communicated to his offspring throughout history so that the Old and New Testaments speak of man's depravity from Genesis to Revelation."  Whereas Pelagius seems (rightly, in my opinion) to equate our loss of life as an organic connection with the true Life of God, St. Augustine seems to stop (as the western caricature often does -- someone more knowledgeable pick this up if I'm causing eyes to roll, please) at a legal, forensic problem, wherein the real problem is God's offended justice that has to be "worked out in court."  Conversely, whereas Pelagius fails to understand the ramifications of a connection to Life itself (no death if not separated therefrom), Augustine testifies to our continuing in eternal life had we not fallen...though he does then say that Adam, "created good and upright," fell from pristine heights of unfallen perfection, whereas the eastern view of the prelapsarian Adam was nowhere near as lofty.

So...all of us being common heirs of this fallenness, we see that Christ (along with, perhaps, His mother who bore Him and was not consumed, as she had been overshadowed by Grace -- the Holy Spirit) does not become the great rule for all fallen men but rather the saving exception through which, if we will unite ourselves thereto, we are cleansed from our marred image of Adam by the ever-present life of our Saviour (I Cor. 15:49).

Forgive my rambling.  If you like,  you can read more on this HERE.
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« Reply #30 on: May 06, 2008, 03:48:09 PM »

From the Nicene Creed "incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man".  As the Holy Spirit is not man but God, the only "man" that Our Lord could get the human DNA from was the the Virgin Mary. Any other DNA (male DNA)offered would have been from God. As Christ is truely God and Man, he must have  DNA from both, if the natural laws are obeyed.

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« Reply #31 on: May 06, 2008, 04:40:54 PM »

From the Nicene Creed "incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man".  As the Holy Spirit is not man but God, the only "man" that Our Lord could get the human DNA from was the the Virgin Mary. Any other DNA (male DNA)offered would have been from God. As Christ is truely God and Man, he must have  DNA from both, if the natural laws are obeyed.

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I don't follow what you're saying here.  Are you saying that it's impossible that He get His DNA from any other source other than the Ever-Virgin, or are you saying that it has to be true DNA, just that He probably got it from both God and woman?  And how does He obey natural laws if this was a virgin birth?
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« Reply #32 on: May 06, 2008, 08:11:19 PM »

I don't want to put words in Thomas's mouth. So correct me if I'm wrong Tomas. What I think he is saying is that Christ gets his DNA strictly from Panagia. Since God the Holy spirit is uncreated and doesn't have DNA. BTW: God can defy natural laws.
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« Reply #33 on: May 06, 2008, 08:57:41 PM »

I'm not denying Our Lord's Incarnation but are we sure that He 'literally' took on the Blessed Virgins DNA. As I understand it there is no Blood which penetrates the mother's womb during pregnancy. She could be very well considered an Ark of God (i.e.  a surrogate mother).  

Not really.  The whole idea of Christ just 'passing through' was a nestorian one.  Christ was physically born of the virgin.  So he shared in the entire birth process as ANY OTHER human being would. 

I believe this simplistic answer may well cover most of the questions, including the OP... Smiley
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« Reply #34 on: May 07, 2008, 07:22:59 AM »

^Thanks, Serb1389 and Thomas, that is very helpful.

I'll keep in mind that there is a precedent of fighting a Nestorian heresy in this issue, too.
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« Reply #35 on: May 07, 2008, 07:27:49 AM »

Well, I think that's problematic, particularly when you get into the fact that many (not all) Orthodox hold to a pious opinion that the Theotokos (some would also include the Forerunner) were without personal sin, but only because they cooperated with God, in His gracious presence, perfectly.  The Scriptures state that "we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin."  What are we to make of all this?  Is it possible for any man, in and of himself, to be without personal sin?  The Theotokos and the Forerunner, who sit at the right and left hand of Christ in His Kingdom (if I remember correctly...I think that's why they're positioned as they are in the iconostas), are obvious exceptions, and Christ is fully of the same substance with us in His humanity, yet He is also fully of the same substance with the Father in His divinity -- so He can hardly be compared to mere, mortal men who are not the incarnate Logos.

We are all bound up in death, and therefore all who fear death, sin.  We are bound up in death because we're children of Adam.  We still maintain the image of God in us, but it is marred, and this marred-God-image is called "in Adam's image and likeness" in Genesis after the Fall.  Christ took on our death-bound flesh, yes, but because He was able to unite it to perfect Life (His divine nature), Christ's human nature remained "posse non peccare."  He, the One from heaven, took the image of Adam and renewed it to the unmarred image of God, and it is the work we do throughout our lives that leads us to an ever-increasing "posse non peccare."

Yet, none of this work is ever divorced from the presence of the God-Man in us, for it is to Him that we are united.  Just as Christ was no mere man, neither are we "mere men" when bound to Christ.

I'm not sure if I'm making much sense, but I'll end with this: It seems that neither Pelagius nor Augustine shared what (I understand) is the eastern stance on the Fall.  Pelagius said, "Adam is created mortal and would have died even if he had never sinned." Augustine said, "Adam was created good and upright, he was happy and in communion with God…Adam would not have died if he had not sinned but...when he failed his depravity was communicated to his offspring throughout history so that the Old and New Testaments speak of man's depravity from Genesis to Revelation."  Whereas Pelagius seems (rightly, in my opinion) to equate our loss of life as an organic connection with the true Life of God, St. Augustine seems to stop (as the western caricature often does -- someone more knowledgeable pick this up if I'm causing eyes to roll, please) at a legal, forensic problem, wherein the real problem is God's offended justice that has to be "worked out in court."  Conversely, whereas Pelagius fails to understand the ramifications of a connection to Life itself (no death if not separated therefrom), Augustine testifies to our continuing in eternal life had we not fallen...though he does then say that Adam, "created good and upright," fell from pristine heights of unfallen perfection, whereas the eastern view of the prelapsarian Adam was nowhere near as lofty.

So...all of us being common heirs of this fallenness, we see that Christ (along with, perhaps, His mother who bore Him and was not consumed, as she had been overshadowed by Grace -- the Holy Spirit) does not become the great rule for all fallen men but rather the saving exception through which, if we will unite ourselves thereto, we are cleansed from our marred image of Adam by the ever-present life of our Saviour (I Cor. 15:49).

Forgive my rambling.  If you like,  you can read more on this HERE.

No, it was not rambling, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post. Thank you!

I'll give it some more thought in the light of what you have said.
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« Reply #36 on: May 07, 2008, 10:36:52 AM »

Not really.  The whole idea of Christ just 'passing through' was a nestorian one.  Christ was physically born of the virgin.  So he shared in the entire birth process as ANY OTHER human being would. 

I believe this simplistic answer may well cover most of the questions, including the OP... Smiley

Being physically born of the virgin doesn't appear to suggest that Jesus has to be, by necessity, of the same tissue as the mother. Are you arguing that we have to believe that the Holy Spirit produced sperm to fertilize the virgin's egg? You are arguing that Jesus shared in the entire birth process as ANY OTHER human being but you seem to be conflating much more than simply the 'birth process' aren't you?
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« Reply #37 on: May 07, 2008, 10:39:56 AM »

I don't want to put words in Thomas's mouth. So correct me if I'm wrong Tomas. What I think he is saying is that Christ gets his DNA strictly from Panagia. Since God the Holy spirit is uncreated and doesn't have DNA. BTW: God can defy natural laws.

As He is both God and Man--He is truely God and from the Most Holy Theotokos he recieved the DNA that also made him truely Man. This is what I meant by natural law.

St. John of Damascus notes, “After the normal nine month gestational period, Christ was born at the beginning of the tenth, in accordance with the law of gestation.  It was a birth that surpassed the established order of birth giving, as it was without pain; for, where pleasure had not proceeded, pain did not follow.  And just as at His conception, He had kept her who conceived Him intact, so also at His birth did He maintain her virginity intact, because he passed through her and kept her shut. While the conception was by “hearing”, the birth was by the usual orifice through which children are born, even though there are some who concoct an idle tale of His being born fro the side of the Mother of God.  For it was not impossible for him to pass through the gate without breaking the seals.  Hence, the Ever-Virgin remained virgin even after giving birth and never had converse with a husband as long as she lived.”  (Exposition of the Orthodox faith, Book IV, Chapter xiv.)

Hope that explains my position clearer.

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« Reply #38 on: May 07, 2008, 04:52:32 PM »

Being physically born of the virgin doesn't appear to suggest that Jesus has to be, by necessity, of the same tissue as the mother.

Um...yes he does.  If he just passes through, then how does he attain his physical reality?  How much do you know about the birthing process and pregnancy?  The child gets all its nutrients and therefore its "cells" from the mother.  Even in Jesus' case, He didn't just "appear" in the womb, as Nestorius and semi-nestorians indicated. 

Quote
Are you arguing that we have to believe that the Holy Spirit produced sperm to fertilize the virgin's egg?

Um no I am not arguing that.  however, it can be said that it is true, because in scripture it says that a "seed" was put into her.  What would you call sperm?  However, the key issue HERE is that at the time of Jesus of Nazareth there was no such thing as modern science.  They saw fertilization in the SAME WAY as farmers do.  So there is no idea of "sperm" or etc.  only the concept of a seed that is planted from the father.  what this seed is, is not explained.  However, this ambiguity I believe (and i'm pretty sure the fathers do too), is a good one, as it does not go too far to explain the Incarnation and etc. because it IS a mystery, no matter what way we slice it. 

Quote
You are arguing that Jesus shared in the entire birth process as ANY OTHER human being but you seem to be conflating much more than simply the 'birth process' aren't you?

I am not sure I understand your question. I AM saying that he went through a birth process like any other human being.  However the WAY that Christ came in the virgin's womb is through the HS. HOW that happens we don't know, all we know is THAT it happened. 

I'm not sure what your comment about "conflating" means...please forgive me, I am not quite that smart with vocabulary....

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« Reply #39 on: May 07, 2008, 05:01:06 PM »

Um...yes he does.  If he just passes through, then how does he attain his physical reality?  How much do you know about the birthing process and pregnancy?  The child gets all its nutrients and therefore its "cells" from the mother.  Even in Jesus' case, He didn't just "appear" in the womb, as Nestorius and semi-nestorians indicated. 

I don't think anyone is arguing where He got His nutrients from, but rather how He was conceived.  If a Nestorian believes that all the nutrients Christ received was not from the Theotokos, then I am for one not a Nestorian.  If however when it comes to the concept of genetics, no one really addressed that.  And yes, if in the past, they only saw conception as farmers did, then ALL the genetic information had to have from some sort of seed, which might mean that maybe some Fathers believed a seed was created ex nihilo.  If such is the case, then maybe one needs to find out from Patristics what exactly is the position on the "seed" issue, and from what I gather, Christ was made "without the seed of man."

God bless.
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« Reply #40 on: May 07, 2008, 06:48:50 PM »

^^  Thanks Mina for that clarification.  The main problem is, as I have mentioned, is that we have to be very careful in answering the 'how' because we ultimately don't know. 

Here is a direct quotation from some of my notes, based on a class with Fr. George Dragas: 

"All this is fought on one word, but three terms, and the relation of Christ to his mother.  Why the term theotokos becomes the orthodox view.  The relation of the mother.  Appolinarius says that Christ only takes flesh from the mother.  So how does that happen?  He takes the flesh and supplies himself as the soul.  So you could say that she gave birth to God.  Others say that she was anthropotokos because the son of God indwells (enikisis) = humanity becomes the house of the Son of God.  So in the first model Christ = Logos + flesh.  The other Christ = Son of God + Son of Mary.  This latter is called Jesus + Logos = Christ.  Christ is not the logos, not the son of God alone, but the Logos or Son of God becomes JC when he enters the son of Mary, which is called Jesus.  Christ = union of Logos to Mary. Nestorians = Son of God entering the Son of Mary. 

So how is JC different than a prophet.  Prophet = man In whom the word of God (logos) came to be = enikisis = dwelling in him.  In a similar way, the Nestorians or antiochians understood in OT terms the mystery of JC.  JC is like the prophets.  In JC the word comes and remains, in prophets it comes and goes.  JC is an anointed one of god, but permanent = difference in degree.  Qualitative difference b/w a prophet and Christ.  He is the greatest of the prophets.  Supreme model of all the saints.  He is the model of the glory.  But he is a man in whom God came to dwell. 

Sarkothenta = he was incarnated
Enanthropisanta = incarnated (also), but bad translation.  It is in man.  Inhomination. 

Some would say that logos – flesh, others say Logos – man." 

And also:  "Chalcedon says exactly this.  There were a few differences.  They set the two formulas against each other and Cyril never did this.  The nuances in the terms and in the formula, etc. especially was problematic.  He did not enter into man, he did not take up man, but he BECAME a man by being born as a true man, but HE is born, the son of God is born a  a second birth.  Theotokos is very important then.  Taking one of us = Nestorian.  Man born of mary, the divinity passes through her, and the son of God is united with the Son of mary, he is the Christ the anointed one, by the presence of Christ in him.  Jesus is the son of Mary, Christ is the son of God united in mary = Nestorianism. 

Nestorians = Jesus was never alone.  He was never a mere man, he was a man united with the son of God and has always been united.  He is truly God and truly man, but appears man b/c the one is inside the other.  The Son of mary subjects himself to the son of God.  So there are two wills, the human will subordinating itself to the divine will." 


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« Reply #41 on: May 08, 2008, 12:57:45 PM »

Um...yes he does.  If he just passes through, then how does he attain his physical reality?  How much do you know about the birthing process and pregnancy?  The child gets all its nutrients and therefore its "cells" from the mother.  Even in Jesus' case, He didn't just "appear" in the womb, as Nestorius and semi-nestorians indicated.

I am not suggesting Jesus 'appeared' to take on human form. I am only suggesting that there is no reason to assume that Mary's biology offered anything other than nourishment. 

Quote
Um no I am not arguing that.  however, it can be said that it is true, because in scripture it says that a "seed" was put into her.  What would you call sperm?  However, the key issue HERE is that at the time of Jesus of Nazareth there was no such thing as modern science.  They saw fertilization in the SAME WAY as farmers do.  So there is no idea of "sperm" or etc.  only the concept of a seed that is planted from the father.  what this seed is, is not explained.  However, this ambiguity I believe (and i'm pretty sure the fathers do too), is a good one, as it does not go too far to explain the Incarnation and etc. because it IS a mystery, no matter what way we slice it.

Yes, I understand that the Early Church Fathers didn't understand the fertilization process but you can see in their suggestion of the 'seed' a zygote just as easily as we can see in their suggestion of the 'seed' as a divine spermo (i.e. seed) because of their ignorance of the fertilization process. They thought that the spermo 'was' the zygote and that the mother only acted as a 'host' or 'Ark' for the infant. We are not 'forced' by any rational means to assume this 'seed' wasn't a divine zygote is all that I am asserting.

Quote
I am not sure I understand your question. I AM saying that he went through a birth process like any other human being.  However the WAY that Christ came in the virgin's womb is through the HS. HOW that happens we don't know, all we know is THAT it happened.

Well, we're going to have to 'unpack' this process a bit because we seem to have a misunderstanding as to exactly what this means... 

Quote
I'm not sure what your comment about "conflating" means...please forgive me, I am not quite that smart with vocabulary....

Conflating just means assuming two or more ideas are really only one. It just means that I feel you are over simplifying the subject.
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« Reply #42 on: May 08, 2008, 11:52:13 PM »

I am not suggesting Jesus 'appeared' to take on human form. I am only suggesting that there is no reason to assume that Mary's biology offered anything other than nourishment. 

Ok,....why?  Why do you assume that Mary's biology did NOT offer anything other than nourishment?  Isn't nourishment the building blocks of the body? 

If the seed was placed in her, then Christ was begotten with a seed.  It would stand to reason then that his biology was intrinsically linked with Mary. 

Quote
Yes, I understand that the Early Church Fathers didn't understand the fertilization process but you can see in their suggestion of the 'seed' a zygote just as easily as we can see in their suggestion of the 'seed' as a divine spermo (i.e. seed) because of their ignorance of the fertilization process. They thought that the spermo 'was' the zygote and that the mother only acted as a 'host' or 'Ark' for the infant. We are not 'forced' by any rational means to assume this 'seed' wasn't a divine zygote is all that I am asserting.

I think that this conversation about zygotes and sperm is not very conducive to the general topic.  Plus, I am not quite THAT familiar with these things. 

I would say in general that it was my understanding that Christ was born and etc. in the exact same way that we were.  He shared everything with Mary including her DNA.  otherwise he would not have been fully human.  If there was some part of that, which the "divine" aspect "took care of" or blocked, then he would not be fully human.  This was the entire argument against Nestorius.  He was advocating that at some point Christ in the womb was not human.  At different times he said different things.  in the beginning of his argumentations he said that christ was completely placed into the womb as a child and that was it.  He just passed through the theotokos, without having anything to do with her. 

So, the church went the other way, and said that christ completely shared his biology with her, to show that he was fully human, in all ways.  This is the essence of my argument.  Forgive me for not quoting too much, but it's finals for me these weeks...

Quote
Well, we're going to have to 'unpack' this process a bit because we seem to have a misunderstanding as to exactly what this means... 

In general I don't think this is a good idea because the church (i'm pretty sure) has not stated this process exactly.  For us to sit here and discuss it presumes A LOT.  However, for the sake of dialogue, I am willing to at least try.  Where should we begin, as I am not too familiar with the birthing process and etc...Perhaps an outline would be handy...

Quote
Conflating just means assuming two or more ideas are really only one. It just means that I feel you are over simplifying the subject.

I probably am simplifying...it's a general trend with me.  I think that once we get into lofty language and stuff, a lot of dialogue gets lost.  I'd rather talk with you like a human being and try to be relational, than get lost in language and semantics.  I already deal with enough semantics and watching my language at school. 

It might be good if we both looked up specific texts on this and discussed them.  I think it might help out the thread as well (in general).  www.ccel.org is a good resource for this kind of stuff.  Just search for Nestorius' letters and Cyril's replies.  I will do the same (when I get a chance). 


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« Reply #43 on: May 09, 2008, 11:02:02 AM »

Ignatius,

I just found this on ccel = http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/hcc3.iii.xii.xxi.html?highlight=theotokos,nestorius#highlight

Quote
but the expression [theotokos] was intended only to denote the indissoluble union of the divine and human natures in Christ, and the veritable incarnation of the Logos, who took the human nature from the body, of Mary, came forth God-Man from her womb, and as God-Man suffered on the cross. For Christ was borne as a person, and suffered as a person; and the personality in Christ resided in his divinity, not in his humanity. So, in fact, the reasonable soul of man, which is the centre of the human personality, participates in the suffering and the death-struggle of the body, though the soul itself does not and cannot die.

As you can see, from the Council of Ephesus we have a statement that he took his human nature FROM THE BODY of Mary. 

Also from the same link:

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And unquestionably the Antiochian Christology, which was represented by Nestorius, did not make the Logos truly become man. It asserted indeed, rightly, the duality of the natures, and the continued distinction between them; it denied, with equal correctness, that God, as such, could either be born, or suffer and die; but it pressed the distinction of the two natures to double personality. It substituted for the idea of the incarnation the idea of an assumption of human nature, or rather of an entire man, into fellowship with the Logos,15551555   Πρόσληψις. Theodore of Mopsuestia says (Act. Conc. Ephes. in Mansi, iv. fol. 1349): Ὁ δεσπότης θεὸς λόγος ἄνθρωπον εἴληφε τέλειον(hominem perfectum assumpsit), instead of φύσιν ἀνθρώπου εἴληφε,or σάρξ ἐγένετο. and an indwelling of Godhead in Christ.15561556   Ἐνοίκησις, in distinction from ἐνσάρκωσις. Instead of God-Man,15571557   Θεάνθρωπος. we have here the idea of a mere God-bearing man;15581558   θεοφόρος, also θεοδόχος, from δέχεσθαι, God-assuming. and the person of Jesus of Nazareth is only the instrument or the temple,15591559   Instrumentum, templum, ναὸς, a favorite term with the Nestorians. in which the divine Logos dwells. The two natures form not a personal unity,15601560   Ἕνωσις καθ ̓ ὑπόστασιν. but only a moral unity, an intimate friendship or conjunction.15611561   Συνάφεια, connection, affinity, intercourse, attachment in distinction from ἔνωσις, true interior union. Cyril of Alexandria charges Nestorius, in his Epist. ad Coelestinum: -Φεύγει πανταχοῦ τὸ λέγειν, τὴν ἔνωσιν, ἀλλ ̓ ὀνομάζει τὴν συνάφειαν, ωὝσπερ ἐστιν ὃ ἔξωθεν. They hold an outward, mechanical relation to each other,15621562   Ἕνωσις σχετική, a unity of relation (from σχέσις, condition, relation) in distinction from a ἕνωσις φυσική, or σύγκρασις, physical unity or commixture. in which each retains its peculiar attributes,15631563   Ἰδιώματα. forbidding any sort of communicatio idiomatum. This union is, in the first place, a gracious condescension on the part of God,15641564   Ἕνωσις κατὰ χάριν, or κατ ̓ εὐδοκίαν. whereby the Logos makes the man an object of the divine pleasure; and in the second place, an elevation of the man to higher dignity and to sonship with God.15651565   Ἕνωσις κατ ̓ αξίαν, καθ ̓ υἱοθεσίαν.. By virtue of the condescension there arises, in the third place, a practical fellowship of operation,15661566   Ἕνωσις κατ ̓ ἐνέργειαν in which the humanity becomes the instrument and temple of the deity and the ἕνωσις σχετικήcuIminates. Theodore of Mopsuestia, the able founder of the Antiochian Christology, set forth the elevation of the man to sonship with God (starting from Luke ii. 53) under the aspect of a gradual moral process, and made it dependent on the progressive virtue and meritoriousness of Jesus, which were completed in the resurrection, and earned for him the unchangeableness of the divine life as a reward for his voluntary victory of virtue.

And also:

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The Antiochian and Nestorian theory amounts therefore, at bottom, to a duality of person in Christ, though without clearly avowing it. It cannot conceive the reality of the two natures without a personal independence for each. With the theanthropic unity of the person of Christ it denies also the theanthropic unity of his work, especially of his sufferings and death; and in the same measure it enfeebles the reality of redemption.15671567   Cyril charges upon Nestorius (Epist. ad Coelest.), that he does not say the Son of God died and rose again, but always only the man Jesus died and rose. Nestorius himself says, in his second homily (in Mar. Merc. 763 sq.): It may be said that the Son of God, in the wider sense, died, but not that God died. Moreover, the Scriptures, in speaking of the birth, passion, and death, never say God, but Christ, or Jesus, or the Lord,—all of them names which suit both natures. A born, dead, and buried God, cannot be worshipped. Pilate, says he in another sermon, did not crucify the Godhead, but the clothing of the Godhead, and Joseph of Arimathea did not shroud and bury the Logos (in Marius Merc. 789 sqq.).

From this point of view Mary, of course, could be nothing more than mother of the man Jesus, and the predicate theotokos, strictly understood, must appear absurd or blasphemous. Nestorius would admit no more than that God passed through (transiit) the womb of Mary.

This is why it is so important that we make the statement that Christ was born in the same exact way that all other human beings were, and how we can easily become susceptible to Nestorianism in some of our thoughts. 

« Last Edit: May 09, 2008, 11:07:21 AM by serb1389 » Logged

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« Reply #44 on: May 09, 2008, 11:17:34 AM »

Also, I was looking through some other things for another project and I found this on ccel (Cyril of Jerusalem's Catechetical instructions:)  http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf207.ii.viii.html

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Concerning His Birth of the Virgin.

9.  Believe then that this Only-begotten Son of God for our sins came down from heaven upon earth, and took upon Him this human nature of like passions679679    ὁμοιοπαθῆ.  Compare Acts xiv. 15; Jas. v. 17. with us, and was begotten of the Holy Virgin and of the Holy Ghost, and was made Man, not in seeming and mere show680680    On the origin of the Docetic heresy, see vi. 14., but in truth; nor yet by passing through the Virgin as through a channel681681    Valentinus the Gnostic taught that God produced a Son of an animal nature who “passed through Mary just as water through a tube, and that on him the Saviour descended at his Baptism.”  Irenæus, I. vii. 2.; but was of her made truly flesh, [and truly nourished with milk682682    The words which the Benedictine Editor introduces in the brackets are found in Theodoret, and adopted by recent Editors, with Codd. M.A.], and did truly eat as we do, and truly drink as we do.  For if the Incarnation was a phantom, salvation is a phantom also.  The Christ was of two natures, Man in what was seen, but God in what was not seen; as Man truly eating like us, for He had the like feeling of the flesh with us; but as God feeding the five thousand from five loaves; as Man truly dying, but as God raising him that had been dead four days; truly sleeping in the ship as Man, and walking upon the waters as God.
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