Saturday, May 29, 2010

ToB: By the Communion of Persons Man Becomes the Image of God

The 'definitive' creation of man consists in the creation of the unity of two beings. Humans are....dichotomous in their natures. We are solitary beings, by creation. We are always alone in our own skins. Every human is a singular event, never to be duplicated. However, we are never really complete unless we are united with another solitary being like ourselves. We were designed to be two solitary creatures joined together. One might also extend the thought to the fact that we are a unity of two disparate realities: we are soul and body.

In man's original solitude he acquires a personal consciousness. Man must be alone, at first, to understand that he is different from all other beings. He had to recognize that none of the other created beings were like him. None of them were flesh and blood and soul. (Which is not to say that animals don't have souls, but they don't have *human* souls, which is a distinction of importance.) And out of this solitude, man recognizes the 'helper fit for him'. Was it the flesh that he recognized? Certainly man doesn't look like most other animals. And yet, there is some resemblance between man and the apes. (Let's all keep in mind that I don't, actually, take Genesis literally. But we're pretending, for the sake of this narrative.) So it must have been the soul that he recognized. The combination of soul and body that was, until that point, unique to him, he now saw in another being.

The communion of persons can only be created by the double solitude of man and woman. Without each of them being solitary, and thus coming to self-knowledge and self-determination, they could not then come together to form a unity.

Man becomes the 'image of God', as he is referred to in the first narrative, not only through his humanity, through his solitude, but when he enters into the communion of persons. Though, of course, any human reflection of the Trinity is going to fall far short, and have flaws, still, the reflection is there. One may argue that without any single Person of the Trinity, God would not be God. He would be incomplete. And, similarly, without the unity of persons, man would be incomplete in his solitude.

It actually reminds me of the notes from my Bible: 'Gn 5:3 - Seth was begotten from Adam and Eve. This threefold relationship illustrates, to a certain extent, the Holy Trinity. Adam had no human father. He was begotten by no one. Thus, he was unbegotten. Seth was begotten from Adam. Eve was neither unbegotten nor begotten. Instead she proceeded from Adam (2:21). Therefore, Eve and Seth were related to the unbegotten Adam, but each in a unique manner - Eve proceeded from Adam, but Seth was begotten from him. Each person had his or her own distinct and unique properties - unbegotten, begotten and proceeding - but all three possessed the same human nature.

Similarly, the manner in which these three existed images the Holy Trinity. God the Father is Unbegotten; God the Son is Begotten from the Father, and God the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father. These distinct and unique properties - unbegotten, begotten, and proceeding - distinguish each of the individual Persons of the Holy Trinity from each other; yet, They are one in nature. (John of Damascus) - Orthodox Study Bible, pg. 10

In humanity's case, it is not only the communion of spirit, but that of flesh. Was man created body and soul to prefigure the Incarnation?


  1. Great thinkie! I love the explanation from the Orthodox Study Bible.

    Thanks for this!

  2. Susanne,

    Yeah, I was reading that part and it reminded me of that note from Genesis. Very interesting. It helps to see the importance of Genesis even though it's not a literal account of events.


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