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Author Topic: Did God Die?  (Read 3546 times) Average Rating: 0
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Gebre Menfes Kidus
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« on: December 13, 2013, 06:13:36 PM »

This is a question that perplexes me. It's one of the things heretical sects and Muslims use as an argument against the Orthodox Christian Faith. It seems that the EO's can answer this by saying that Christ died in His humanity but not in His divinity. But since we don't separate Our Lord's nature, then doesn't this mean that God died? And how can God die? I know that ultimately these things are mysteries, but I'd like to know what our OO theological answer to this is. Forgive my ignorance.


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« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2013, 06:23:29 PM »

I can't give an OO perspective, but here are a couple of Holy Saturday hymns from EO tradition which express this mystery:

All things above the world and all below the earth quaked with fear at Your death, as they saw You on the throne above and below in a tomb; for beyond understanding You appeared as one dead, You the source of life.

Great Moses mystically prefigured this present day when he said, ‘And God blessed the seventh day’. For this is the blessed Sabbath; this is the day of rest on which the only-begotten Son of God rested from all His works, through the dispensation in accordance with death, He kept the Sabbath in the flesh; and returning once again to what He was through the Resurrection He has granted us eternal life, for He alone is good and loves mankind.
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« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2013, 06:29:01 PM »

I can't give an OO perspective, but here are a couple of Holy Saturday hymns from EO tradition which express this mystery:

All things above the world and all below the earth quaked with fear at Your death, as they saw You on the throne above and below in a tomb; for beyond understanding You appeared as one dead, You the source of life.

Great Moses mystically prefigured this present day when he said, ‘And God blessed the seventh day’. For this is the blessed Sabbath; this is the day of rest on which the only-begotten Son of God rested from all His works, through the dispensation in accordance with death, He kept the Sabbath in the flesh; and returning once again to what He was through the Resurrection He has granted us eternal life, for He alone is good and loves mankind.



Thank you.


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« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2013, 06:46:18 PM »

I'm not sure ... I usually reference the Nicene Creed for tough questions.
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« Reply #4 on: December 13, 2013, 06:55:32 PM »

Of course the Nicene Creed answers this (good luck getting the Muslims and heretics to listen, though), but in terms of uniquely OO texts, doesn't the Syrian Fraction answer this in some way? I'll post it and let you decide:


Thus truly the Logos of God suffered in the flesh and was sacrificed and broken on the Cross. His soul parted from His body,

while His divinity in no way parted either from His soul or from His body.

He was pierced in His side with a spear; blood and water flowed from Him for the forgiveness of the whole world. His body was smeared in them, and His soul came and was reunited with His body.

On behalf of the sins of the whole world, the Son died on the Cross.

He turned us from the way on the left towards the right. Through the blood of his Cross, He established the reconciliation of the heavenly with the earthly, and united the people with the peoples and the soul with the body.

And on the third day He rose from the tomb.

One is Emmanuel who cannot be divided after the union; there is no division into two natures. Thus we believe, thus we confess, and thus We affirm that this Body belongs to this Blood, and this Blood belongs to this Body.

You are Christ Our God, who for our sake were pierced in Your side with a spear on the heights of Golgotha in Jerusalem.

You are the Lamb of God who take away the sin of the world.
Absolve us of our transgressions and make us stand at Your right hand side.

O God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who are blessed by the Cherubim, hallowed by the Seraphim, and exalted by thousands of thousands and ten thousand times ten thousand of the rational servants;

who sanctify and complete the gifts and the fullness of the fruits that have been brought to You as a sweet savor; sanctify also all of our bodies, our souls, and our spirits,

so that with a pure heart and an unashamed face, we may call upon You, O God the Father who are in the heavens, and pray, saying,

Our Father...
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« Reply #5 on: December 13, 2013, 06:59:44 PM »

Yes.

The poetic effusions referenced above aren't going to be very helpful for anyone who doesn't already understand the answer. Inside baseball and stuff are for those inside. When you are outside it properly sounds like gibberish.

To deal with Muslims, you are going to be better off understanding where they are coming from and understanding in a serious manner the theology of the Trinity.

The divide might be impossible to bridge, but at least you will properly understand the divide.
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« Reply #6 on: December 13, 2013, 07:10:28 PM »

Yes, we can say that God the Word did in fact die, but by virtue of His humanity. The person (prosopon) or subsistence (hypostasis) of God the Word died on the cross and suffered in His humanity, remaining impassible in His Divinity. To use a real life example, when you are afflicted with a wound, you feel pain as is in accord with your bodily faculties, but remain impassible in soul and spirit.

This concept is called the communicate idiomatum, that is, all actions of Christ (whether Divine or human in nature) can be attributed to the one hypostasis of God the Word incarnate. This is how we can say that God was born of a Virgin and that "the man Christ Jesus" (1 Timothy 2:5) mediates on our behalf to God the Father. Because there is no division into two hypostases. The man Christ Jesus is God the Word incarnate and vice-versa. This is in contrast to Nestorianism which attributes the actions of Christ to two distinct hypostases, which is why to this day they deny that God suffered in the flesh.
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« Reply #7 on: December 13, 2013, 07:11:37 PM »

Yes.

In fact, it's an ongoing theme in Christianity (at least from reading the Bible) that God's greatest achievements often lie in His greatest, self-created defeats. The Creation of mankind is the first example I could think of--the creation of conscious beings capable of neglecting and disobeying God, which is a bit of a feat in itself--as well as the Incarnation where God descends to the human level and through doing so achieves another great victory of uniting the created world back to the creator, and finally in the Crucifixion--God's death--where this theme of God's victory lying in His defeat is epitomized through the Resurrection.

Commenting on what Jason said about the Trinity stuff, the issue of God dying may be related to the different views about God's immanence and transcendence in Christianity and Islam. I think the issue that Muslims may have with the thought of God dying (and they can correct me if I'm wrong) is that they view it as oppositional to God's transcendence and therefore blasphemous. However, in Christianity we'd say that God is transcendent in virtue of being Triune, therefore, the issue for us isn't so much about God's transcendence but more so about His immanence, and IMHO, I don't understand how any God could be fully immanent unless He/She/It could in fact experience death and every other human malady. But of course, that's because I accept the Trinity, which is understandably a big stumbling block for many people.
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« Reply #8 on: December 13, 2013, 07:14:42 PM »

Yes, we can say that God the Word did in fact die, but by virtue of His humanity.

It was not in virtue of his humanity alone. Nothing happens save that God wills it. God may will to be limited thus overcoming the limitation of being unlimited.

This is where you can begin to talk to Muslims. They must believe the same, the latter sentence.
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« Reply #9 on: December 13, 2013, 07:16:57 PM »

I appreciate the responses. I confess that they are a bit over my head. If God the Son died, did God the Father also die? And if God the Son died but not God the Father, then doesn't that separate the Trinity? If you guys can simplify it as much as possible, I'd appreciate it.  Embarrassed


Selam
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« Reply #10 on: December 13, 2013, 07:17:44 PM »

Yes.
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« Reply #11 on: December 13, 2013, 07:17:59 PM »

Yes, we can say that God the Word did in fact die, but by virtue of His humanity.

It was not in virtue of his humanity alone. Nothing happens save that God wills it. God may will to be limited thus overcoming the limitation of being unlimited.

This is where you can begin to talk to Muslims. They must believe the same, the latter sentence.

I think I can wrap my head around this. Thanks.

But then again, if God truly dies, then doesn't that nullify His ability to un-die? It would seem that God only appeared to die, but didn't actually die. (I'm not stating this as my belief, just trying to grasp it.)


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« Reply #12 on: December 13, 2013, 07:18:44 PM »

I appreciate the responses. I confess that they are a bit over my head. If God the Son died, did God the Father also die?

No. That would be patripassianism.



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« Reply #13 on: December 13, 2013, 07:19:03 PM »

Yes, we can say that God the Word did in fact die, but by virtue of His humanity.

It was not in virtue of his humanity alone. Nothing happens save that God wills it. God may will to be limited thus overcoming the limitation of being unlimited.

This is where you can begin to talk to Muslims. They must believe the same, the latter sentence.
I was not denying that God died according to His Divine will. What I was denying was that He suffered in His Divinity or that He somehow ceased to exist after His death on the cross, as this would compromise the distinction of the natures.

I appreciate the responses. I confess that they are a bit over my head. If God the Son died, did God the Father also die? And if God the Son died but not God the Father, then doesn't that separate the Trinity? If you guys can simplify it as much as possible, I'd appreciate it.  Embarrassed


Selam
God the Father did not die, because His hypostasis is not united to a human nature as the Son's is. The Hypostasis of the Son died in His humanity, remaining impassible in his Divinity (thus, the Father and Holy Ghost did not die either).
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« Reply #14 on: December 13, 2013, 07:21:33 PM »


God the Father did not die, because His hypostasis is not united to a human nature as the Son's is. The Hypostasis of the Son died in His humanity, remaining impassible in his Divinity (thus, the Father and Holy Ghost did not die either).

OK, I think I understand. Thank you.  Smiley


Selam
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« Reply #15 on: December 13, 2013, 07:23:37 PM »

I appreciate the responses. I confess that they are a bit over my head. If God the Son died, did God the Father also die? And if God the Son died but not God the Father, then doesn't that separate the Trinity? If you guys can simplify it as much as possible, I'd appreciate it.  Embarrassed


Selam
Gebre,

When we say "God the Son died" we do not mean "God the Son ceased to exist" or "God the Son was annihilated". Since we don't believe those things happen(ed) to mere humans when they died, it would be strange to suddenly start believing them about the death of Christ.

When God the Son died, his spirit descended into Sheol and ransomed all of its dead, as depicted in the Anastasis icon. So just as the Son maintained his Communion with the Father when he became incarnate, so he maintained his Communion with the Father even in the pit of death itself. This Righteousness is life, and death could not hold life, nor could corruption seize it, which is why God raised Christ from the dead.
 
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« Reply #16 on: December 13, 2013, 07:23:59 PM »

I appreciate the responses. I confess that they are a bit over my head. If God the Son died, did God the Father also die? And if God the Son died but not God the Father, then doesn't that separate the Trinity? If you guys can simplify it as much as possible, I'd appreciate it.  Embarrassed


Selam

No. Gebre it's hard to know where to begin. Really, while this gets talked about like it is some "mystery" in the pedestrian sense, I think it is entirely plausible to come to a decent understanding of the Trinity.

And there are a number of ways of getting there. Unfortunately, I think most people who talk about such stuff are using terms and arguments from a time which don't make a lot of sense any more (not that they made a lot of sense back then).

How simple do you want to get, whatever simple means?

For instance, when Jesus wet himself as an infant, did the Father as well? We die as much as persons as live as persons. I am not sure how it could be otherwise or what your specific problems are with the passibiilty of the persons of Trinity. They are indeed separate persons.
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« Reply #17 on: December 13, 2013, 07:24:33 PM »


God the Father did not die, because His hypostasis is not united to a human nature as the Son's is. The Hypostasis of the Son died in His humanity, remaining impassible in his Divinity (thus, the Father and Holy Ghost did not die either).

OK, I think I understand. Thank you.  Smiley


Selam

I hope not, cause I don't buy it.
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« Reply #18 on: December 13, 2013, 07:30:32 PM »

Yes, we can say that God the Word did in fact die, but by virtue of His humanity.

It was not in virtue of his humanity alone. Nothing happens save that God wills it. God may will to be limited thus overcoming the limitation of being unlimited.

This is where you can begin to talk to Muslims. They must believe the same, the latter sentence.

Although oddly enough I've tried that exact line of reasoning with Muslims, and suddenly they don't seem to go for it and start back-peddling on things they had agreed with minutes prior once we begin to poke at the idea even the slightest bit. This is what I mean when I've written in the past that Islam is extremely simple and externalized (for which our newest neophyte Muslim took me to task). They've got their ideas, alright, but taking them to any kind of deeper conclusion...? Many Muslims, like many Christians, seem unwilling.

It is true that no one can say that Christ is Lord but by the Holy Spirit. Relating to each other, while a good goal perhaps, can really only take us so far.

For discussion with Muslims, if that's what this thread is supposed to be about (sorry, that wasn't clear to me from the OP), it might be best to start off with some kind of agreeable statement on what it means to be a person, and if you can get them to agree that there is something more to it than just existing in a body, work your way toward the idea that man can die or suffer any number of other calamities while remaining essentially untouched in whatever this essentialness is (or, put simply, biologically living and eternally existing can be thought of as different things, particularly for believers in a resurrection and an after-life paradise, i.e., Christians and Muslims alike). When Muslims or Christianity-based heretics look at the cross as an instrument of death and torture, you can explain to them how we view in Orthodoxy as one of the things that has been transformed by our Lord, just as He has transformed the entire creation with His death and resurrection. It is now after all a symbol of permanent and eternal victory over the power of death.
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« Reply #19 on: December 13, 2013, 07:30:53 PM »

I appreciate the responses. I confess that they are a bit over my head. If God the Son died, did God the Father also die? And if God the Son died but not God the Father, then doesn't that separate the Trinity? If you guys can simplify it as much as possible, I'd appreciate it.  Embarrassed


Selam
Gebre,

When we say "God the Son died" we do not mean "God the Son ceased to exist" or "God the Son was annihilated". Since we don't believe those things happen(ed) to mere humans when they died, it would be strange to suddenly start believing them about the death of Christ.

When God the Son died, his spirit descended into Sheol and ransomed all of its dead, as depicted in the Anastasis icon. So just as the Son maintained his Communion with the Father when he became incarnate, so he maintained his Communion with the Father even in the pit of death itself. This Righteousness is life, and death could not hold life, nor could corruption seize it, which is why God raised Christ from the dead.
 

This is typical apologetics and the bolded part always seemed like nonsense to me.

Christ died. So in some manner he was held by it. So its just a 48 hour impossibility? And Christ's body was broken, therefore saw corruption. God doesn't need a why.

Etc.
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« Reply #20 on: December 13, 2013, 07:31:23 PM »

I appreciate the responses. I confess that they are a bit over my head. If God the Son died, did God the Father also die? And if God the Son died but not God the Father, then doesn't that separate the Trinity? If you guys can simplify it as much as possible, I'd appreciate it.  Embarrassed


Selam

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, I was under the impression that the Orthodox view of death is that it's the separation of the soul from the body. This is why we have prayers like the Syrian Fraction quoted above which states:

Quote
His soul parted from His body, while His divinity in no way parted either from His soul or from His body.

Since the Father and Holy Spirit don't have have bodies, I don't think Christ's death would mean that they die as well.
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« Reply #21 on: December 13, 2013, 07:33:18 PM »

Yes, we can say that God the Word did in fact die, but by virtue of His humanity.

It was not in virtue of his humanity alone. Nothing happens save that God wills it. God may will to be limited thus overcoming the limitation of being unlimited.

This is where you can begin to talk to Muslims. They must believe the same, the latter sentence.

Although oddly enough I've tried that exact line of reasoning with Muslims, and suddenly they don't seem to go for it and start back-peddling on things they had agreed with minutes prior once we begin to poke at the idea even the slightest bit.

This is shared by nearly everyone I've met. You included. You retract into what is comfortable to you.

But you are not going to get from God's necessary immanence via the limitation of being always unlimited to Christ easily. It takes a lot work and thought.

You need to become Muslim then find Christ there. That's what Paul would claim to do.
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« Reply #22 on: December 13, 2013, 07:34:58 PM »

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, I was under the impression that the Orthodox view of death is that it's the separation of the soul from the body.

If you are going the trichotomous route, it is the spirit that "departs". All life is ensouled. Perhaps everything is ensouled, but certainly all things we call "alive" are.
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« Reply #23 on: December 13, 2013, 07:35:56 PM »

Yes, we can say that God the Word did in fact die, but by virtue of His humanity.

It was not in virtue of his humanity alone. Nothing happens save that God wills it. God may will to be limited thus overcoming the limitation of being unlimited.

This is where you can begin to talk to Muslims. They must believe the same, the latter sentence.

Although oddly enough I've tried that exact line of reasoning with Muslims, and suddenly they don't seem to go for it and start back-peddling on things they had agreed with minutes prior once we begin to poke at the idea even the slightest bit.

This is shared by nearly everyone I've met. You included. You retract into what is comfortable to you.

But you are not going to get from God's necessary immanence via the limitation of being always unlimited to Christ easily. It takes a lot work and thought.

You need to become Muslim then find Christ there. That's what Paul would claim to do.

Did I not include Christians in the full post, as well? Or did I accidentally mis-type "every Christian but me"?  Huh

Anyway, off topic...sorry...my only point is that saying "they should agree with this, too" doesn't work in practice. Better to find some other way to approach it.
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« Reply #24 on: December 13, 2013, 07:38:09 PM »

Christ died. So in some manner he was held by it.
I was using the term "held" as in "continued to hold him" (Acts 2:24) vs. what happened, where he stopped being dead.

And Christ's body was broken, therefore saw corruption. God doesn't need a why.
I don't mean corruption as in the classical divine attribute of incorruptibility. I mean corruption as in, his body didn't just decompose away (Acts 2:31).

Really I was just paraphrasing from Acts. It's apologetic, it's poetic, sure, and it's more persuasive to my sensibilities than the impassibility discussion above.
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« Reply #25 on: December 13, 2013, 07:38:12 PM »

Hey Jason, would you mind responding to a similar question I asked here not too long ago?
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« Reply #26 on: December 13, 2013, 07:39:41 PM »

God doesn't need a why.
Oh?
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« Reply #27 on: December 13, 2013, 07:40:37 PM »

I appreciate the responses. I confess that they are a bit over my head. If God the Son died, did God the Father also die? And if God the Son died but not God the Father, then doesn't that separate the Trinity? If you guys can simplify it as much as possible, I'd appreciate it.  Embarrassed


Selam

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, I was under the impression that the Orthodox view of death is that it's the separation of the soul from the body. This is why we have prayers like the Syrian Fraction quoted above which states:

Quote
His soul parted from His body, while His divinity in no way parted either from His soul or from His body.

Since the Father and Holy Spirit don't have have bodies, I don't think Christ's death would mean that they die as well.

Well we do have somewhere in the funerary texts (not sure where, as I have never been to a Coptic funeral; HH Pope Shenouda III quotes it in his contemplations on Psalm 6, "O Lord, do not rebuke me in Your anger") also the observation that "there is no death for Your servants, but a departure." I would think that this is a relatively traditional way of looking at things.
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« Reply #28 on: December 13, 2013, 07:43:03 PM »


No.
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« Reply #29 on: December 13, 2013, 07:45:14 PM »

What of the times where he provides a why? Even if he does not "need" it, shouldn't we still take the why's we get seriously?
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« Reply #30 on: December 13, 2013, 07:50:58 PM »

...The Hypostasis of the Son died in His humanity, remaining impassible in his Divinity (thus, the Father and Holy Ghost did not die either).

See, this is the part that confuses me. Either the Son died or the Son did not die. I think that this "impassible in His Divinity/But/only Humanity" stuff makes the issue more confusing and complicating than it has to be, regardless of however much the Fathers may be in love with this type of talk. I think that once you start to view the Son as a real person like everybody else (leaving behind the whole dual essences/natures/Divinity vs. Humanity stuff until later) things start to make more sense. Tbh, the simplest answers are usually the best ones, if I'm understanding Occam's Razor correctly.
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« Reply #31 on: December 13, 2013, 07:54:39 PM »

When we find the bones we'll let you know.
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« Reply #32 on: December 13, 2013, 08:08:53 PM »

Shiny is back to green . . .
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« Reply #33 on: December 13, 2013, 08:11:08 PM »

Shiny is back to green . . .
It's an inside joke you wouldn't understand...

EDIT: Don't worry buddy you are next on my list...
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« Reply #34 on: December 13, 2013, 09:29:49 PM »

Either the Son died or the Son did not die. I think that this "impassible in His Divinity/But/only Humanity" stuff makes the issue more confusing and complicating than it has to be, regardless of however much the Fathers may be in love with this type of talk.

Yeah.  They're dumb.
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« Reply #35 on: December 13, 2013, 09:32:32 PM »

And Christ's body was broken, therefore saw corruption.

What exactly do you mean by this?  The NT rejects both of these assertions...are you talking about something other than what it is talking about?
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« Reply #36 on: December 13, 2013, 09:34:21 PM »

When we find the bones we'll let you know.

Lovely.
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« Reply #37 on: December 13, 2013, 09:38:29 PM »

And Christ's body was broken, therefore saw corruption.

What exactly do you mean by this?  The NT rejects both of these assertions...are you talking about something other than what it is talking about?

I meant what I said. It's not hard. If Christ's body wasn't broken what was he showing Thomas again? Corruption means broken (broken intensely I guess to more precise), getting crucified and stuck with a sword would count as getting my body rather intensely broken.

Pretty straightforward stuff.
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« Reply #38 on: December 13, 2013, 09:38:51 PM »

Fwiw...

"We needed an Incarnate God, a God put to death, that we might live. We were put to death together with Him, that we might be cleansed; we rose again with Him because we were put to death with Him; we were glorified with Him, because we rose again with Him." - St. Gregory the Theologian, Oration 45, 28

"Yesterday I was crucified with Him; today I am glorified with Him; yesterday I died with Him; to-day I am quickened with Him; yesterday I was buried with Him; to-day I rise with Him.  But let us offer to Him Who suffered and rose again for us--you will think perhaps that I am going to say gold, or silver, or woven work or transparent and costly stones, the mere passing material of earth, that remains here below, and is for the most part always possessed by bad men, slaves of the world and of the Prince of the world.  Let us offer ourselves, the possession most precious to God, and most fitting; let us give back to the Image what is made after the Image.  Let us recognize our Dignity; let us honour our Archetype; let us know the power of the Mystery, and for what Christ died." St. Gregory the Theologian, Oration 1.4

"For Christ also likewise, when it was possible for him to abide in His own honour and deity, not only so far emptied Himself as to take the form of a slave, (Phil. 2:7) but also endured the cross, despising the shame, (Heb. 12:2) that he might by His own sufferings destroy sin, and by death slay death." - St. Gregory the Theologian, Oration 12.4

Or perhaps: Jesus was a person; that person suffered and died.
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« Reply #39 on: December 13, 2013, 10:01:16 PM »

I meant what I said. It's not hard. If Christ's body wasn't broken what was he showing Thomas again? Corruption means broken (broken intensely I guess to more precise), getting crucified and stuck with a sword would count as getting my body rather intensely broken.

Pretty straightforward stuff.

Then the fishermen were wrong. 
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« Reply #40 on: December 13, 2013, 10:17:17 PM »

I meant what I said. It's not hard. If Christ's body wasn't broken what was he showing Thomas again? Corruption means broken (broken intensely I guess to more precise), getting crucified and stuck with a sword would count as getting my body rather intensely broken.

Pretty straightforward stuff.

Then the fishermen were wrong.  

As would be St John the Evangelist, the prophets and the psalmist.  Tongue

John 19:36-37, Exodus 12:46; Numbers 9:12; Psalm 33:20, Zechariah 12:10.

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« Reply #41 on: December 13, 2013, 10:27:29 PM »

St John was a fisherman.  Wink
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« Reply #42 on: December 13, 2013, 10:28:49 PM »

I meant what I said. It's not hard. If Christ's body wasn't broken what was he showing Thomas again? Corruption means broken (broken intensely I guess to more precise), getting crucified and stuck with a sword would count as getting my body rather intensely broken.

Pretty straightforward stuff.

Then the fishermen were wrong.  

As would be St John the Evangelist, the prophets and the psalmist.  Tongue

John 19:36-37, Exodus 12:46; Numbers 9:12; Psalm 33:20, Zechariah 12:10.



Yeah, later Christians did carefully choose language to make things more poetic. But the next time some one at work pulls a muscle and talks about breaking their back, I'll forward them on to you, so you can let them know they were not broken.

And if any decide to get crucified and pierced with a sword, I'll do that same.

I am quite aware of the Scripture involved and the allegorical meanings, but if you going to talk to people who are not and don't care, you might want to put less inside nuance on it.
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« Reply #43 on: December 13, 2013, 10:29:44 PM »

St John was a fisherman.  Wink

I know, but I mentioned him re his clarity of expression regarding the fulfillment of that prophecy.  Smiley
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« Reply #44 on: December 13, 2013, 10:32:15 PM »

I wonder if it's significant that the Nicene Creed states that "He was crucified, He suffered, and was buried," rather than "He was crucified, suffered, died, and was buried."?


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