Category: Theology

On Forgiveness Vespers

On Forgiveness Vespers

You yourself are another little world, having within you the sun, moon and the stars.
– Origen

We are all Adam. We have all fallen from grace into the dark abyss of ego. The hellish outer darkness within the ‘self,’ when man removes his contemplation away from God, choosing to rather set his mind on things below (Col. 3:2). The bliss of Eden became sweat on our brows (Gen. 3:19), as we desperately try to keep up with the overgrowth. The truth of the matter is, Eden is within our heart. Contrary to something we can observe with our eyes, Christ said, “The Kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21). The heart is where God walks with man.

Even though we are all Adam collectively, it is also true on an individual level. There is a world within us. Within the heart of every human being is a garden—the remnants of an Eden that once was. Rotting fruit from a tree once lush, and a rotting tree from a fruit once plucked. The grass withers from green to gray; from clean to dismay. Who shall till the land and restore Eden once again?

If ever there were a magic incantation to grant eternal life, it would be, “Forgive me a sinner,” and “God forgives; I forgive.” When we bow to one another putting on Christ’s humility, saying those heartfelt words, we cooperate with God in working on restoring the inner garden within us and within the other. Eden is a dimension that can only be seen in the reflection of another’s eyes, and it can only be accessed in the prostration of our heart and through the baptism of our tears. One cannot see Eden if the heart does not bow lower than the knees. We need one another in order for Eden to manifest itself. In this sense, the waters of baptism stream from the eyes to purify our sight. Seeking and giving forgiveness is a means to extend our individual progress towards Eden to include the other, that their garden might not lag behind. The tree of life produces but one fruit, and it is one perpetually given in love by God and charitably shared; passed on from one to another that all may participate in putting the other before the self. Every bow in this life is a bite of that life. Little by little, plucking weed by weed, our forgiveness for one another will cause others to look with astonishment, saying, “The Kingdom of God is within you.”

On the Justice and Mercy of God

On the Justice and Mercy of God

St Irenaeus of Lyons says God is both good and just, because Marcion and the Gnostics wanted to separate these attributes into different gods. Marcion believes the god of the Old Testament was a god of only wrath and justice, and the Christ of the New Testament was a different god of only goodness and love. Irenaeus says that separating the attributes like this makes neither of them God, because how could there be justice without goodness, or goodness without justice? Irenaeus says God “saves those whom He should save, and judges those worthy of judgment. Neither does He show Himself unmercifully just; for His goodness, no doubt, goes on before, taking precedency.”[1] He then references the Scripture that says how God brings the sun and the rain to both the just and the unjust: which it is noteworthy that sunshine and rain are both considered blessings for an agricultural world, and yet one can nonetheless perceive judgment in the sun’s drought and the rain’s flood.

Now, the justice of God is an extremely complicated subject because of how justice is perceived and defined. For one, earthly retributive justice cannot be seen as an uncreated energy like love. Love is eternal and has always existed within the Trinity, but human justice is often understood as punitive and having reactionary contingency upon sin (and sin is a temporal (non)reality). However, the main complication of this topic is that though God is just, He is also not bound to our definition of justice. We might see some Pharisee going around killing holy men for being Christians, and we want God to bring the “justice” of execution. But what does God do? He spares murderer, converts him to Christianity, and has him write the majority of the New Testament.[2] When the disciples want to see God bring down the fires of judgment, what does God say? “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.”[3] When a woman is caught in adultery, deserving the just penalty for sin, what justice does God bring? The words “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.”[4] So even though we can say God is just, this does not then mean His manner of justice will be consistent in all points with ours, because we should remember how the Lord says, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.”[5] In other words, we can have the potential to interpret God’s merciful acts to unjust people, from our limited perspective, as God actually being unjust until that person gets what they deserve, which  is why the subject is so complicated. Therefore, perhaps God’s justice must be understood in a different and more transcendent manner worthy of God. Perhaps we should, as Origen said (concerning how to interpret the anger of God): “Think of God as He deserves to be thought of.”[6] This phenomenological dilemma concerning the justice of God is precisely what St Isaac the Syrian was referencing when he wrote:

How can you call God just when you come across the Scriptural passage on the wage given to the workers? “Friend, I do thee no wrong: I choose to give unto this last even as unto thee. Or is thine eye evil because I am good?” How can a man call God just when he comes across the passage on the prodigal son who wasted his wealth with riotous living, how for the compunction alone which he showed the father ran and fell upon his neck and gave him authority over his wealth? None other but His very Son said these things concerning Him, lest we doubt it, and thus bore witness concerning Him. Where, then, is God’s justice?—for while we are sinners Christ died for us! But if here He is merciful, we may believe that He will not change.[7]

St Isaac summarizes his point when he says, “Do not call God just, for His justice is not manifest in the things concerning you.”[8] In other words, St Isaac is saying Isaiah 55:8 should be ringing in our ears when we think about this topic. Therefore, we must ask ourselves what it really means when we say, “God is just,” because God does not seem to be just in His economic acts towards men—at least according to our earthly conceptions of justice. It seems a distinction is often unconsciously made between two distinct ages: the present age of mercy, and the eschatological age of justice. The way things are laid out in Scripture makes it appear to be so, but then again, Scripture also says, “Judge not according to appearance, but judge righteous judgement.”[9] One ought to ponder whether such an economic separation is worthy of God or not. Is it proper to think of God as being only merciful in this life, and only just in the next? Or is there perhaps divine justice to be found in this age simultaneously alongside mercy? These are questions we all must intentionally seek to answer.

Penal Substitutionary Atonement

The idea that God is literally angry with mankind because of how much He hates sin and must be appeased, is common thought amongst the atonement theology of many Protestants. The logical progression goes something like: P1) God is good, P2) Justice is good, C) God is just. Thus, justice is attributed to God on the basis of His goodness. Building upon this logic, it then becomes the idea that P3) God is just, P4) Justice must condemn sin, C) God must condemn sinners by His very nature. Therefore, many conclude that God hates and condemns sin because God is just. However, there are some questions to be asked of this logic. For example, does God hate sin because God is just, or is God perceived as being just simply because He hates sin? Additionally, does God hate sin because God is just, or is it because God is good? Does justice always have to do with the simple condemnation of sin, or can the word have additional restorative meanings?

It is common to hear that sinners will be justly punished for their sins against God, but it is often thought that every individual sin must be justly punished with hellfire. The thought is that either the punishment for your sins is taken out on Christ by the Father, or the punishment will be taken out on you in hell (depending on whether or not one accepts Christ). However, death is the “just punishment” for sin, it just also happens to be consequential in nature. This is why God says, “Ye shall surely die,”[10] and why Paul says, “The wages of sin is death.”[11] It is not that there is a divine tally for all individual sins: each having the appropriate torment in hell or on the cross. The full just torment for sin is death (external corruption/mortality and the internal motion of being into anti-being), not additional external acts of torture fit for a crime. Irenaeus says in the garden, physical death was a mercy of God that sin not remain forever in man due to his immortality, while at the same time it was a punishment that man should experience the corruption of mortality at all. Related to this, resurrection is the main reason why hell can be seen as a just punishment, because there is no mercy of mortality, nor life in Christ—there is only a continuing death, which is the consequential punishment for sin. Sinners are ‘justly punished’ by death because sin is justly punished by death (in other words, sinners get what sinners deserve), and this has been the case since Adam.[12] The level of sin is subsequently punished by an equal level of spiritual judgment. Because of God’s declaration in Genesis, the consequence of sin[13] is the just retribution. God’s justice is ultimately a providentially poetic justice that occurs simultaneously when He is being merciful. It is far more profound and paradoxical than offering different modes of torture in hell depending on whether you stole a candy bar or murdered Jews. That is a human way of thinking unfit for the divine ways. If anything, at the very least, the standard goes the other way: based not on the presence of evil deeds, but on the absence of good deeds.[14]

Scripture says, “the wages of sin is death,”[15] because death is that which is received. This is likely also the explanation as to why we all must physically die despite also remaining in Christ. As far as how we experience the phenomenon within time, there is a kind of delayed and overlapping transition period between the former head of humanity and the new King, which to us feels like a stasis. In this sense, we die under the law of death in Adam to rise with the law of faith fulfilled in Christ.[16] This is why St Paul says, “Know ye not… how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?”[17] So long as we live in Adam and ancestral sin, we live under the law—most appropriately, the law of death. Paul then relates this phenomenon to that of a woman being freed from the law of marriage upon her husband’s death.[18] Therefore, we die justly in Adam under the law of death (but this is also mercifully for the sake of our being removed from under it), and rise in forgiveness through the law of faith[19]—the way a seed dies in order to resurrect anew. Assuming, of course, one has sanctifying life in Christ: living in obedience according to theosis. Otherwise, resurrection for the faithless is punishment, because there is no longer the mercy of death.

Jesus willing assumed the punishment that rested upon mankind for their sins, despite being Himself without sin and undeserving of the punishment for sin, which is death.[20] He did this to both 1) overthrow death in its physical finality,[21] and 2) to restore man from spiritual death by offering sanctifying union with the source of life.[22] When one says, “Jesus was punished for our sins,” that typically is understood among Protestants to be God the Father pouring out his wrath upon the Son because He is angry at the sins we have done. However, appeasing an angry Father is not an appropriate image, as St Gregory the Theologian once articulated.[23] Jesus suffered the punishment ‘of’ sin—which is death—but I would be wary of saying he was being punished for our sins, since this has too many misleading connotations. Many Christians interpret Penal Substitutionary Atonement to mean that Jesus is actively punished both in body and spirit by the Father so He could essentially turn a blind eye to us. They say Jesus was punished so we do not have to be. However, we still suffer the retributive consequences of sin precisely because we continue to sin. The crucifixion and resurrection does not remove this fact. At the beginning, Christ died because we die, but now we die, in a theological sense, because Christ (the Last Adam) died to rescue His beguiled Eve from the Serpent. He followed His Eve into her death, that He might, by His death, release and restore her from death. However, we do not have to be punished for sin in an eschatological sense, because Christ revealed “the way.”[24] Physical death is proof that we still suffer the consequential punishment of being in Adam.[25] If the cross means we no longer have to experience punishment in the sense that these people say, then we simply would not die—and yet we do.

One might ask, “What about spiritual death or personal sins? Did Jesus not suffer these on the cross too?” Jesus could not suffer spiritual death on the cross, because the judgment of spiritual death is an internal consequential result of personal sin, not an external torture device that can be inflicted upon a holy man. Mortality was the result of inheriting the consequential punishment of Adam, which Christ willingly undertook to purify (by His divinity) our mortal nature from within. To say Christ suffered inner spiritual death would necessarily also imply that Christ sinned, which we know He did not.[26] His death on the cross is what conquers mortality and releases mankind from the law of death. Spiritual death is something altogether different, and being freed from it requires a life of sanctifying communion with Christ. Punishment for spiritual sin can only be experienced by sinners themselves, because it involves the darkening of the soul. This is impossible for Christ, who is, as the Nicene Creed declares, “Light of light, true God of true God.”

Physical death is the punishment for sin in Adam (though it is also a mercy that sin won’t go on forever, like I mentioned before). Jesus did not die for personal sin in the way many Protestants think. He did not receive the ultimate punishment of personal sin, because, as I said, such punishment requires one to have personal sin. Jesus was able to receive Adam’s punishment of physical death because he was truly born a man as we are, but without actualized sin. Jesus adopted our transgression and “became sin” simply by becoming human and accepting death (the consequence of sin). He “lives” as a man without sin for the sake of synergistically rescuing man from personal sin, and He “died” as a man without sin for the sake of monergistically rescuing man from ancestral sin. Christ’s life is meant to usher us into the divine for inner healing, and Christ’s death and resurrection is meant to release us from bondage to the law of death that we may be resurrected into theanthropic life. When someone dies, it is within the simultaneous justice and mercy of God’s declaration to Adam that we “shall surely die” because of sin. It is in this sense that I say death is always justice being served, by nature. For example: Murderers die in body and soul: therefore, justice is served both for their personal sins (leading to the spiritual death of the soul), and for their being under the law of death in Adam (leading to bodily death). We are all sinners, therefore we all die physically as a consequential punishment for sin—being in Adam.

Jesus took on death, which is also the punishment of Adam. If Jesus did not willingly allow Himself to be killed, He would not have experienced the punishment of a mankind in Adam. Thus, Christ’s death was a receiving of punishment for our sin, because that is what “death” inherently is. The only difference is Jesus had to adopt the punishment in Adam because He had no sin for which to experience punishment in of Himself. The cross is about revealing the divine identity of Christ, and it exonerates the eschatological punishment of ancestral sin—for the faithful—through the punishment of physical death. Personal sin can only be forgiven by the grace of being in communion with Christ in His sinless life, “dying daily” to self,[27] with Him, in a personal martyrdom.

However, sin is not ultimately a legality. The legal metaphors in Scripture can only be stretched so far. Sin is not ultimately a judicial reality, it is an ontological reality that is sometimes described in legal terms. In other words, sins in the eyes of God are not the spiritual equivalent of crimes in the eyes of earthly authorities. Sin is anti-being: the deterioration of the human person. It is not something that can be “brought to justice” the way one imprisons a criminal. Because of this, justice is not about the proper condemnation of individual sins, it is about God allowing the fragmented state of the sinner to exist in a tormented mode equal to its own ontology. This is why Scripture speaks about God giving people over to uncleanness “through the lusts of their own hearts,”[28] and a “reprobate mind.”[29] Again it says, “I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own counsels.”[30] This is how we ought to define justice.

In this paradigm, Christ cannot be spiritually punished for the personal sins of others, because, as I said, experiencing the just punishment for personal sin first requires personal sin. For example, the punishment for alcoholism is a warped mind and a destroyed liver. This is how justice is exacted upon sin, because this is simultaneously how man gets what he deserves. Jesus would not receive such a punishment without Himself being an alcoholic. Jesus died in the place of a murderer, suffering the just penalty of a murderer, but Himself being without the personal sin/mental sickness of a murderer. However, one could say our personal sins are mystically attached to Christ’s death through the sacraments. Therefore we, in a sense, mysteriously impute our sins to the cross when we engage in baptism, the eucharist, confession, etc. Though, I would not say, as the Presbyterians do, that Christ “endured most grievous torments immediately in His soul,”[31] because I believe the torment of hell is ontological: experiencing such a judgment requires corruption of soul,[32] and we know from the Scriptures that Christ did not experience corruption.[33] There simply is no scenario where Christ ‘could’ experience gehenna and yet remain without sin. In other words, holy saints in heaven cannot be burned by hellfire even if they tried, because they already radiate with the fiery energies of God. How can fire burn fire? Therefore, experiencing hell and having personal sin are inherently connected, and is thus improper to describe the cross in this way.


It seems this train got derailed somewhere in history, and I suggest the crucial turning point is one of cosmology. It seems like the antagonist of the cosmological narrative shifted from the devil to humanity. Humanity is no longer seen by many Christians as primarily being the victim of the narrative that the hero must rescue (as expressed by St Irenaeus of Lyons[34]), but is instead humanity is typically seen as the main antagonist, with the devil doing some stuff in between. According to St Irenaeus, humanity, though corrupted, is primarily thought of as being the victim, not the perpetrator. Adam brought sin into the world,[35] but the antagonist of the Biblical narrative is not Adam, it is the Serpent—that is, the devil. Mankind suffered a spiritual snake bite, and the poisonous venom consumed everything. Irenaeus has what could be seen today as a surprisingly optimistic view of the fall, and paints a picture that makes us feel sympathetic for Adam and Eve. Irenaeus tells of a Creator doing all He can to salvage His creatures when he says the following:

God pronounced no curse against Adam personally, but against the ground, in reference to his works. As a certain person among the ancients has observed: ‘God did indeed transfer the curse to the earth, that it might not remain in man.’ But man received, as the punishment for his transgression, the toilsome task of tilling the earth and to eat bread in the sweat of his face, and to return to the dust from where he was taken… the curse in all its fullness fell upon the serpent which had beguiled them.[36]

Irenaeus also takes not of how, contrary to Cain’s response, Adam showed humility in his conduct. Adam hid himself immediately when he sinned, seized with terror, and feeling unworthy to appear before God. Contrast this with Cain’s irreverent speech with the Creator. Irenaeus also says that they could have used leaves that were less irritating on the body than fig leaves, but he instead dressed himself in a manner fitting for his disobedience. He also mentions how God interrogates Adam and Eve simply for the sake of getting to the Serpent, because God does not ask the serpent a single question. Irenaeus continues:

God detested him who had led man astray. But by degrees, and little by little, He showed compassion to him who had been beguiled.[37]

Then, with regards to Adam’s banishment from Paradise, Irenaeus says God pitied him:

[God] did not desire that he should continue a sinner forever, nor that the sin which surrounded him should be immortal, and evil unceasing and without remedy. But He set a boundary to his sin, by interposing death, and thus causing sin to cease, putting an end to it by the dissolution of the flesh, which should take place in the earth, so that man, ceasing at length to live to sin, and dying to it, might begin to live to God.[38]

Irenaeus helps us remember that God is being beyond being, and yet feels with and for His creatures, as Hebrews states.[39] In other words, God is not a justice machine programmed to keep tally and condemn every individual sin. He is rational, understanding of situation and context, and impartial.

Why bring up cosmology? My reason is because “justice” is not something we should see as God merely enacting upon human individuals, it is a notion which is applied on a cosmological scale with regards to the narrative of God’s ultimate defeat of the devil. This is why Christ says, fulfilling the words of the prophet Jeremiah:[40] “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.”[41] God is just, but not because he sends Billy the insignificant sinner to hell (such a notion is incredibly short-sighted from a Biblical perspective, especially in light of a first century Enochic cosmology), but because He, like His archetype David,[42] crushed the head of the Serpent (the devil and his angels) and rescued mankind from death.[43] Christ bound the Strong Man,[44] and plundered his house of us stolen clay vessels: for as Scripture says, “We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.”[45] Scripture has a narrative, and we ought to pay attention to the roles of its characters. God is the hero, the Serpent is the villain, and we are ultimately the victims (who often get Stockholm Syndrome[46] and try to play the villain). Justice is something given to the afflicted and needy: it is their deliverance.[47] Therefore, it seems we must broaden our perspective of justice to include not just a mercifully redemptive element, but also the celestial bodies which war over our souls. Both the hero and the villain are fighting over us. We might, by choice, align ourselves with the devil and his angels (and are thus under the justice of God by consequence of will),[48] but God shows nothing but love, affection, and mercy to us until our last breath.

The Incarnation

However, lest one think cosmology was my central point, I must conclude my thoughts by adding one crucial twist: the cosmological battle between God and the Serpent; between light and darkness; between virtue and sin, and the final reconciliation between mercy and justice; God and man—is fulfilled in the incarnation. It is the kenotic incarnation that represents the interpretive lens for the whole story. Prior to the incarnation, man and God were separate. Human nature suffered the venomous spread of sin, and the transcendence of the apophatic divinity felt too distant. It is in the incarnation where God mercifully meets man. It is in His assumption of human nature (both body and soul) where the divine brings justice to and for man. He brings justice to man by purging him of sin and mortality, and He brings justice for man by purging the devil of any power over the will. Though, the devil does not realize his own hands have been bound until he eventually tempts Christ in the wilderness.[49] The devil also does not realize his house has been plundered until he sees how death cannot contain God (and consequentially, man). Christ does all of this simultaneously in His very nature: bringing justice while also showing merciful love to all men. Therefore, even though most people have a split perception of mercy and justice being separated by age, it seems possible that the justice and mercy of God work themselves out simultaneously even in this present age. In other words, instead of there being a conception of 100% mercy/0% justice for the wicked in this age, and 100% justice/0% mercy for the wicked in the age to come, it is possible that both mercy and justice are at 100% in both ages for both the wicked and the righteous, and the only reason the justice in the age to come will look different, is because of changes in creation and ontology.

The cosmology itself is merely a reflection and microcosm of the theanthropic person of Christ. Even the life, death, and resurrection of Christ is a microcosm of who He is in His person: the events themselves unraveling within time that which ultimately occurred in the womb. The events of Christ’s life can be understood as a continuing exposition of what took place the very moment God became man. The unraveling of His work, the inevitability of resurrection, the checkmate with the devil, and the revelation of His divinity to man were all finalized at His death. The cosmological story, then, in all its magnitude, begins within the theanthropic person of Jesus Christ, and it flows from Him to us for our communion and contemplation. As the Lamb who was slain for us says,[50] “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you,”[51] and again He says, “Abide in Me, and I in you.”[52] In this way, as we meditate on the law of the Lord day and night,[53] we might then set our affections on the holy things above, not on things of the earth, that we may ascend with purity of heart to gain entrance into experiencing these divine truths.[54]

In the wake of Christ’s victory in the womb, there was one man who truly understood the magnitude of what took place, and congratulated the arrival of the conquering King for His cosmological victory. It was St John the Forerunner—the first to leap for joy.[55] The justice and mercy of God is, in its truest sense, the mending of the disunited. The incarnation itself reconciles God and man together: His death satisfying the demands of the “law of death,”[56] and His life and resurrection justifies humanity in Himself, eternally advocating on behalf of all by nature.


[1] Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3.25.
[2] Acts 9.
[3] Luke 9:55.
[4] John 8:11.
[5] Isaiah 55:8.
[6] Origen, On First Principles, 2.4.4.
[7] Isaac the Syrian, Ascetical Homilies, 51.
[8] Ibid.
[9] John 7:24.
[10] Genesis 2:17.
[11] Romans 6:23.
[12] Being that mankind in Adam has always been under the Athanasian “law of death.”
[13] Physical and spiritual death.
[14] Matthew 25:43.
[15] Romans 6:23.
[16] Cf. Romans 3:21-22, 27; Galatians 2:16; Philippians 3:9.
[17] Romans 7:1.
[18] Romans 7:2-4.
[19] Cf. Romans 3:27.
[20] Romans 6:23.
[21] Prior to Christ there was no inevitable sprouting from the ground once physical death has occurred.
[22] Or more appropriately, the Tree of Life.
[23] Gregory Nazianzen, In Sanctum Pascha: “To whom was that blood offered that was shed for us, and why was it shed? I mean the precious and glorious blood of God, the blood of the High Priest and of the Sacrifice. We were in bondage to the devil and sold under sin, having become corrupt through our lust. Now, since a ransom is paid to him who holds us in his power, I ask to whom such a price was offered and why?… If the price is offered to the Father, I ask first of all, how? For it was not the Father who held us captive. Why then should be blood of His only begotten Son please the Father, who would not even receive Isaac when he was offered as a whole burnt offering by Abraham, but replaced the human sacrifice with a ram?”
[24] Cf. John 14:6.
[25] Mortality.
[26] 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15.
[27] Cf. 1 Corinthians 15:31.
[28] Romans 1:24.
[29] Romans 1:28.
[30] Psalm 81:12.
[31] Westminster Confession, 8.4.
[32] Cf. Romans 1:28; Ephesians 4:19.
[33] Acts 13:37. One might mention how the context refers to the corruption of the body specifically, but the objection is quickly rendered pointless in the face of its own implications.
[34] Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3.23.
[35] Romans 5:12; 1 Corinthians 15:21.
[36] Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3.23.
[37] Ibid.
[38] Ibid.
[39] Hebrews 4:15.
[40] Jeremiah 23:5.
[41] John 12:31.
[42] 1 Samuel 17:46-51. Despite the obvious allusions to Genesis 3:15, the most overlooked prophetic detail in David’s battle with Goliath is the fact that “there was no sword in the hand of David” (v. 50). David used his enemy’s own weapon to kill him, and this is perhaps the most crucial detail, because it explicitly reveals how Christ will conquer His enemy. The devil should have seen it coming: The One to come who would conquer Death (personified as the devil) by “death” (the devil’s sword which was used to enslave mankind).
[43] Genesis 3:15.
[44] Matthew 12:29; Mark 3:27.
[45] Isaiah 64:8.
[46] Stockholm Syndrome is the psychological condition where feelings of trust and/or affection are felt by a victim toward a captor in cases of kidnapping or hostage-taking.
[47] Psalm 82:2-3.
[48] Matthew 25:41.
[49] Matthew 4:1-11.
[50] Cf. Revelation 5:9.
[51] John 6:53.
[52] John 15:4.
[53] Psalm 1:2.
[54] Cf. Colossians 3:2.
[55] Luke 1:44.
[56] The “Law of Death” is one of the foundational pillars of legal theology that is explicitly articulated in Athanasius’ work On the Incarnation. It is the idea that mankind must necessarily die because God said “ye shall surely die/dying ye shall die.” In the logic of Athanasius, this means that every human being must experience physical death, or else God is a liar.

On the Curious Nature of Divine Providence

On the Curious Nature of Divine Providence

Divine providence is often thought of as being antithetical to the natural world. It is conceptualized as a kind of glorified deterministic meddling: an occurrence within the world on the part of God that would not have otherwise happened, had God not intervened within the affairs of man and changed the trajectory. A moment in time where God storms the cockpit, so to speak. However, is this really how one ought to think concerning providence? How many providential acts does it take for such an understanding of Providence begin to devour any real notion of free will? And doesn’t such an understanding turn all prophecies into mere self-fulfilling prophecies? This could bring the accusation that God does not truly know the future, but rather He merely coerces events to shape a future He desires, which has severe implications on the immoral state of the present world.

There are some interesting moments in the Old Testament where Providence reveals itself. For example, in 1 Kings 22, it has the account of King Ahab and Jehoshaphat switching places in battle, pretending to be the other. Earlier, the prophet Micaiah (my favorite of all prophets, due to his incredible sarcasm) tells the king that if he went to battle at Ramoth-gilead, he would die. Not only that, but the text says God was behind Ahab’s decision to go to Ramoth, because it was foreknown that Ahab would be naïve and listen to the false majority (1 Kings 22:22-23). This is when things get interesting. During the battle, everything seems to be going according to plan. The enemy thinks Jehoshaphat is actually Ahab, chasing after him, and nobody knows where Ahab actually is on the battlefield. But all of a sudden, some unnamed archer randomly launches an arrow into the air with no real purpose, and it is that very arrow that happens to strike the hidden Ahab right between his armor, killing him (1 Kings 22:34-35). The question becomes, where exactly was God’s providence? Did God providentially guide the arrow? Perhaps He providentially persuaded the random archer to shoot an arrow in a general direction. Perhaps it was simply the persuading of Ahab to providentially enter the battle and the way of death is irrelevant.

In the account of David and Goliath, we all know David defeats Goliath with a single stone and a sling. Again I ask, does God providentially guide the stone through the air in order to strike Goliath precisely on the head? Or perhaps David was providentially born left-handed, because Scripture explicitly goes out of its way to mention how left-handed people were gifted with being able to “sling a stone at a hair and not miss” (Judges 20:16).

Caiaphas providentially says, “It is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, rather than the whole nation perish” (John 11:50). John, understanding the theology of this, mentions that Caiaphas was not merely speaking from his own violent heart and limited understanding alone, but such words, nonetheless spoken of his own will, were also providentially crafted from God (John 11:51).

Providence seems to be God paradoxically, synergistically, and mysteriously executing His will in natural ways, and the mystery is in how God is able to do this without also overruling human freedom.

Jonah and Atonement Theology

Jonah and Atonement Theology

A great illustration for the bait and hook imagery within (ransom) atonement theology can be found within the story of Jonah: a man who is thrown overboard, swallowed by a sea giant, and regurgitated three days later. Christ—in the same way—descends into the belly of death but cannot be contained, and is thus vomited three days later. Truly the Lord said, “…no sign shall be given except the sign of Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matt. 12:39-40). And again He says, “Search the Scriptures…they are they which testify of me” (Jhn. 5:39). Jonah is in the Scriptures not merely to record a historical event, as if it were copied from a local newspaper, but to reveal to us something about the coming Christ.

Death was captivated by the flesh of God, and was enticed to devour it. This is because for the first time, God presented Himself in a form vulnerable to consumption. However, His invisible divinity—hidden within the flesh—cannot be swallowed. This image from Jonah—revealing the conquest of the uncontainable God—simultaneously depicts Christ as a victor, ransom, satisfaction and a substitute.

Christ’s sacrificial descent through the waters of baptism, and being subsequently swallowed up into the belly of hades, was for the sole purpose of setting us free. Because Christ caused Death to vomit, Death was defeated and our former chains fell to the ground. This makes Christ victorious. Since Christ willingly had Himself thrown overboard into the depths of the grave to set us free, this makes Christ our substitute and ransom: substitute because we could not free ourselves, and ransom because He is the terms, cause, and object of our freedom.  Christ’s work is also satisfaction, because Christ was swallowed up by death to not only satisfy the insatiably demanding appetite of Death to consume, but also to satisfy the insatiably demanding Love of God to sacrificially burn on a wooden alter made with human hands.

The devil should have saw this coming. Christ, like a brilliant strategist—who cannot but play with his inferior rival—intentionally left clues that could have helped the cause of His enemy, though knowing it would not. Christ vocalized His hint, essentially telling the devil to remember Jonah. When the storm came, Jonah had to be thrown overboard because he could not overpower the tempestuous violence of the providential storm. However, when such tumultuous waves approached the Lord’s boat, it was revealed that Christ had divine power to tame the wild elements. Christ revealed a glimmer of the divine nature; a man who is confined by no storm, for He is Himself the storm: laying waste to the principalities and powers of darkness (cf. Eph. 6:12). This is shown clearly in the case of the demoniac, having within him a whirlwind of demons. And in the chaos of soul, Christ calms the storm that we may once again be in our right minds (Mark 5:15). Indeed, the Lord shows Himself to be the strongest of storms when He said, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to bring peace, but a sword” (Matt. 10:34). Had the devil payed attention, He would have seen that death could not contain this conqueror without sheath, for He clearly has power over not merely His own life, but life itself. When rising from his bed, Jonah’s eyes quickly exchanged their slumber with fear, but when Christ awoke, one might have seen what looked to be the subtleties of a smirk—and it is the smirk of one knowing the outcome of a war before a battle is fought.

The Icon of Marriage

The Icon of Marriage

I went to an Orthodox wedding yesterday to celebrate the sacramental marital union of my friend Nathan and his wife Rebecca. Contrary to many Western style weddings, the primary focus of an Orthodox wedding is not on the bride, but on Christ. The bride is not amplified over the groom, but rather the two are liturgically treated in such a way that it becomes difficult to distinguish between the two. This is clearly intentional, as this represents the two “becoming one.”1C.f. Gen 2:24, Mark 10:8

As with any sacrament, the effectiveness of uncreated grace is contingent upon our cooperation (synergy) with God. Just like a baptism without a real death (dying daily21 Cor 15:31) to self cannot save, or a Eucharist without the work of true penitent preparation, so too does the grace within the sacrament of marriage fall by the wayside if we cease our pursuit of Christ, and allow ourselves to be cut off from the lifeblood of the true Vine.3c.f. John 15:5 If we lose sight of Christ in our marriages, then they will inevitably descend to the place of the dead. Sacramental grace fills our being so long as we remain ‘plugged-in’ to Christ, and when we run dry, we need only repent and reconnect ourselves (through confession) to be filled once again. Therefore, we must remain vigilant in marriage, always making sure to keep our lamps lit with the oil of Christ.4c.f. Matt 25:3-4

Marriage is not merely a union of two people, it is a union of three people: Christ, husband, and wife. The married couple is a triangular trinity, having Christ at the top of the triangle. When the husband pursues Christ and His commandment to sacrificially “love his wife as Christ loves the Church,” and when the wife pursues Christ and His commandment to respectfully submit to her husband (not “all things” down to what brand of soda she is allowed to drink, but all that which encourages the ascent of her spiritual life unto salvation), both travel up each side of the triangle, growing closer to both Christ and each other.

As I looked and saw the bride and the groom being crowned, and as I heard the passages of Genesis read,  I heard in my spirit, “Look.” As I looked up and to the left wall, I saw the massive icon of the resurrection.

However, being at a wedding changed the context through which I would have normally looked. All of a sudden, the icon expressed not Christ rescuing Adam and Eve from physical death through His resurrection, but rather Christ lifting husband and wife out of their broken marriage, and uniting them one to another through Himself. I perceived the triangular lines of the image, and how heaven truly reached down as far as the east is from the west in order to lift up our marriages and restore them once again to newness of life in Him.

Whenever our marriages seem to falter because one or both parties have ceased in their pursuit of Christ, may we never forget how Christ is able to resurrect all of that which is dead, including marriage.

From Man to Ox

From Man to Ox

In the narrative of the fourth chapter of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar says that he built the great house of Babylon by the might of his own power, and for the honor of his own majesty.[1] The text says that when such words were still in Nebuchadnezzar’s mouth, a voice from heaven said the kingdom has departed from him, and that his dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. Nebuchadnezzar was then humbled and began to eat grass like oxen, as his hair and nails were overgrown. Scholars have pointed out that the idea of the wild man was a common trope in the mythic lore of the ancient Near East, such as the example of Enkidu in the epic of Gilgamesh.[2] In Mesopotamian magico-medical writings, Lambert reveals a similar passage which says, “I am an ox, I do not know the plants I eat.”[3] Additionally, long hair is connected to the multiplicity of sins in such literature.[4]

The narrative in the fourth chapter of Daniel sets forth an important scriptural motif that is repeated elsewhere in the Bible. Earthly kings rise to power over God’s people and set themselves up as gods. As seen in the example of Pharaoh, the pride of such rulers result in the hardening of their hearts and the departure from reason, which then provokes a response from God.[5] The ungodly then affirm the blasphemy, saying things like, “This is the voice of a god and not a man!”[6] and again they cry out, “Who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with him?”[7] It is precisely in these moments when God responds dramatically. The lofty and exalted beast is struck down to earth like Lucifer, having his wings torn off,[8] and cursed to a lifetime of groveling on the ground.[9] The beast is then consumed by worms,[10] and thrown into the fire.[11] The humbling of Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel’s narrative reveals how the mighty kingdom of God is destined to conquer and supplant the bestial kingdoms of this earth.

God said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people.”[12] The narrative pattern of the scriptures was always that of the Hebrew people forgetting the Lord and bringing judgment upon themselves for their lack of care for God. It comes as no surprise that such a pattern is expressly prominent within the exilic days of Daniel. The pattern of scripture itself reveals that when man acts like Nebuchadnezzar and puffs up his ego, he truly becomes like the beasts of the field. The entire book of Daniel is a reoccurring picture of the same proverb: “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”[13] One might read the book of Daniel and think that it is a story merely about the rise and fall of kingdoms aligned against Israel, however, the reality is that God keeps trying to show His own people that it is they who are being humbled through the exile caused by the Babylonian invasion.[14] They are Nebuchadnezzar, and God waits to restore them. In such exile, people will always cry out to God asking why such a thing happened to them, thus God repeatedly shows them the answer to the question. In other words, the book of Daniel is not the story of how many kingdoms rose and fell, it is rather the story of how one kingdom rose to forget the Lord and fell. Yet still, God waits to see repentance.

[1] Daniel 4:30-33.
[2] Hector Avalos. “Nebuchadnezzar’s Affliction: New Mesopotamian Parallels for Daniel 4.” Journal of Biblical Literature 133, no. 3 (2014), p. 497.
[3] W.G. Lambert, “Incantations,” 285.
[4] Avalos, p. 503.
[5] 1 Samuel 6:6.
[6] Acts 12:22.
[7] Revelation 13:4.
[8] Isaiah 14:14-15.
[9] Genesis 3:14.
[10] Acts 12:23.
[11] Revelation 20:10.
[12] Exodus 32:9.
[13] Proverbs 16:18.
[14] Daniel 9.

How Jesus Was Tempted In ‘Every Way’ Like Us

How Jesus Was Tempted In ‘Every Way’ Like Us

Scripture says Jesus was tempted in all points as us, yet without sin (Heb 4:15). This can’t mean that Jesus was tempted by every little thing that tempts us, because some temptations require mental disability (bestiality), other temptations may, when gathered together, be contradictory to experience at the same time (a homosexual man desiring more wives), or impossible altogether (incest without siblings). In other words, sin must be a prerequisite in order to experience certain particular temptations. 

Therefore it must instead refer not to every individual fruit of temptation, but to the three branches that produce them: (1) the lust of the flesh, (2) the lust of the eyes, and (3) the pride of life (1 Jhn 2:16).

We don’t have to speculate how Jesus was tempted, because scripture tells us:

  1. The lust of the flesh is made manifest in the words, “Tell these stones to become bread.” (Mat 4:3)
  2. The lust of the eyes is made manifest in the words, “All these I will give you.” (Mat 4:9)
  3. The pride of life is made manifest in the words, “Throw yourself down, the angels will catch you.” (Mat 4:6)

No sin exists apart from these three types of temptations found in the world. Jesus didn’t have to overcome every expression of lust because he overcame the threefold fullness of temptation itself. Jesus didn’t have to partake of every rotting fruit of pride, because he cut down the tree.

Edom: An Unintentionally Validating Jewish Polemic

Edom: An Unintentionally Validating Jewish Polemic

There has been some confusion regarding the prophetic phrase in Genesis 25:23 which says how “the elder shall serve the younger,” especially since such a concept would have been so foreign to ancient Near Eastern custom (though the providence of God transcends custom).[1] Some might say the reason this was stated was simply because Esau sold his birthright, thus forfeiting his authority to Jacob (though one might also observe a peculiar reference to Joseph, considering he—the younger in Jacob’s family—was eventually served by the elders when he became a leader of Egypt). However, it is particularly interesting how this passage was eventually interpreted by Jews after the rise of Christianity.

The descendants of Esau became known as the Edomites, whereas the descendants of Jacob became the Israelites, and both groups of people saw the other as an enemy.[2] It is also known that the Jews—in a polemical sense—associated Edom with Rome (and subsequently, the Church) during the Middle Ages.[3] Zeitlin writes:

The regular intercalation of the year is to add a second Adar. However the Sanhedrin could not meet on time for fear of the Roman government. However they succeeded in assembling and intercalated the year in the month of Ab. In order to inform their brethren in Babylonia of the intercalation of the year they had to employ a secret code. In this code they employed the term Edom to the Roman Church. They did it in order to conceal and disguise their real persecutor. In applying the term Edom for the Rome Church, which was hateful to them, they had in mind the prophecy of Jeremiah, 49. 17, “And Edom shall be a desolation; every one that passeth by it shall be astonished and shall hiss at all the plagues thereof.”[4]

It is not surprising that the Jews used Edom in a polemical fashion against those whom they perceived to be enemies (especially with the rise of Protestant Zionism in the 19th century),[5] but what is surprising is that a Jewish midrash interprets Genesis 25:23 to be a reference to Jesus Christ.

Ronald Brown did an analysis of the marginal notes on the Genesis Rabbah (MS Paris 149 version),[6] and he found that in reference to Genesis 25:23, the scribe writes how the future descendants of Esau “are to serve Jesus the Nazarene, who is of the descendants of Jacob, the younger.”[7] He goes on to say that because Esau’s descendants were associated with the Romans (“the one shall be stronger than the other”), when Rome embraced Christianity, certain Jews recalled the words “the elder shall serve the younger” (Gen 25:23).[8]

One cannot help but see the irony in a Jewish polemic accidentally validating the very people they sought to discredit.



[1] John Davis. Paradise to Prison. (Salem: Sheffield Publishing, 1984), p. 232.
[2] Ibid.
[3] S. Zeitlin. “The Origin of the Term Edom for Rome and the Roman Church.” The Jewish Quarterly Review 60, no.  3 (1970), p. 262.
[4] Ibid., p. 263.
[5] Warder Cresson. “Origin of Edom, Babylon, and Rome, or Christianity.” (accessed July 4, 2017).
[6] Brown notes that it was written by scribe Mordechai ben Isaac, completed in Arles, France, on Feb. 10, 1291.
[7] Ronald N. Brown “‘And the elder shall serve the younger’: a midrash about Jesus.” Harvard Theological Review, vol. 87, no. 3 (1994), p. 365.
[8] Ibid., p. 366.

How Incorporeal Angels can have Corporeal Offspring

How Incorporeal Angels can have Corporeal Offspring

“And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown. And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Gen 6:1-5)

The Angelic Groom

Referencing the Enochic understanding within Jude 1:6-7 and 2 Pet 2:4,[1] St. Irenaeus accepts the idea that two hundred fallen angels (or “Watchers”) were responsible for introducing much wickedness into the human race, teaching humanity witchcraft and every kind of vanity. The offspring of this union are the giants known as the Nephilim.

“For unlawful unions occurred on earth, as angels united themselves with daughters of men, who bore them sons who, because of their exaggerated height, were called giants. The angels then gave their wives, as gifts, wicked teachings, for they taught them the powers of roots and herbs, of dyeing and cosmetics, and the discovery of precious material, love-potions, hatreds, loves, infatuations, seductions, bonds of witchcraft, and all kinds of divination and idolatry hateful to God. When these entered the world, the things of wickedness over-abounded, while those of righteousness decreased, until judgement came upon the world from God…” –St. Irenaeus of Lyons[2]

The angelic perspective is the majority view of the Church Fathers, and it is found in people like Justin Martyr,[3] Athenagoras,[4] Origen,[5] Clement of Alexandria,[6] Hilary of Poitiers,[7] Tertullian,[8] Eusebius,[9] Ambrose of Milan,[10] Jerome,[11] and Methodius.[12]

However, others like Ephrem the Syrian,[13] John Cassian,[14] John Chrysostom,[15] and Augustine[16] instead taught that the sons of God refer to the lineage of Seth, because angels are incorporeal beings and cannot have bodily relations with humans.

The Conduit Bride

This brings up a dilemma within certain interpretations of the text. Both perspectives raise valid points: Fallen angels had to be part of it, but how ought we to reconcile the idea that angels are incorporeal (which is undisputed in the church fathers), yet affirm the traditional angelic interpretation of the text (which the majority of Christians held)? And if angels really did mate with human women, and if this was truly a major reason why God sent the flood, why do the Nephilim (such as Goliath) still exist even after the flood? The only possibility is that the fallen angels united with women again after the flood. But how? I want to offer an alternative perspective that synthesizes the best of both worlds: I believe it is possible that women offered themselves as sexual conduits for demonic spirits.

Angels are incorporeal, so they cannot literally have physical relations with humans. However, they can certainly unite spiritually with a woman by possessing her, and such a union is so deep it could be considered a kind of marriage (essentially the perverse opposite of a nun being ‘married’ to Christ). Fallen angels can reveal to her the mysteries of the occult, and demonic possession could also have an effect on pregnancy. Scripture testifies of a demoniac with super-human strength (Mar 5:3-4), so it is not a stretch to think someone like Goliath is the result of such a union. This also explains why the Nephilim continued to exist after the flood, since temple prostitution with oracles was commonplace. There may have even been many more giants in the world if such practices did not go hand in hand with child sacrifice.

Therefore, I think this interpretation is interesting and does a good job when it comes to answering the difficulties surrounding the incorporeal nature of angels, but without doing any kind of harm to the other interpretations.

[1] 1 Enoch 6-9.
[2] Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching, 18, 19.
[3] 1 Apology 5.
[4] Plea for the Christians, 24.
[5] Against Celsus, LV.
[6] Miscellanies, 5.1.10
[7] Commentary on Psalm 133:3.
[8] Idolatry 9; Veiling 7.
[9] Preparation, 5:5.
[10] Noah and the Ark 4.8.
[11] Hebrew, 6.4.
[12] Discourse on the Resurrection, III.1.7.
[13] Commentary on Genesis 6.3.1.
[14] Conferences, 8.21.
[15] Homily on Genesis, 22.6-8.
[16] City of God, 15:22-23.

The Nakedness of Noah

The Nakedness of Noah

In Genesis 9:20-23, we are given a narrative that could be considered by some to be scandalous. It tells of one of the most important patriarchs of the Old Testament getting drunk and having his son Ham “look upon his nakedness.” The question is, what exactly does this mean, and what sin did Ham commit? Scholars are divided on the issue for a variety of reasons, and the obscurity of the text certainly does not help. However, the varying interpretations do have reasonable justification for their contrary perspectives, but it does not seem like any of them clear every obscurity within the text.

Voyeurism Theory

Davis does not give much insight into the nakedness of Noah, since he was much more intent on letting readers know the curse of Ham was absolutely not black skin.[1] However, he does remark that he believes Canaan was cursed because he was involved in the act.[2] This means that Davis is most likely assuming what is known as the voyeurism theory, which is the most literal and surface-level of all the perspectives. This theory posits that Ham did nothing more than stare at the exposed body of his naked father.[3] However, this theory is highly criticized because the nature of Ham’s actions does not seem to be enough grounds to justify the extremities of the following curse.[4] Voyeurism also cannot account for the fact that there is no evidence in biblical or ancient near eastern literature that expresses the accidental sight of a naked parent as being a taboo.[5] The text says that Noah saw “what his youngest son had done to him” (Gen 9:24), so it seems unlikely that it was merely a result of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

It is easily argued that “seeing the nakedness of the father” is an idiom for something sexual, because Leviticus (Lev 20:17), as well as Ezekiel (Ezek 16:36-37; 22:10; 23:10, 18, 29) use the phrase explicitly within a sexual context. Thematically, the wine motif is also noteworthy. Not only is wine connected with sexuality in Near Eastern literature,[6] but the only other reference to drunkenness in Genesis occurs with the incestuous relationship between Lot and his daughters (Gen 19:30-38). In Song of Solomon, words like “vineyard” and “wine” are euphemisms (Sng 8:2, 12), so wine is connected to sexuality even in the Bible.

Castration Theory

Attempting to address the shortcomings of voyeurism, the Jewish tradition of Rab proposes the castration theory, which states that Noah was castrated by Ham to usurp his authority.[7] There are a variety of examples of sons castrating their fathers in ancient Near Eastern mythology, so such a concept was not uncommon in this period.[8] Rab believes that castration accounts for why Noah cursed Canaan instead of Ham. Since Noah cursed Ham’s fourth son, it follows that the offence was with regards to preventing Noah from having a fourth son.[9] Even though some say Ham did the castrating, there are others who believe Canaan was responsible by “mischievously looping a cord about his genitals and drawing it tight.”[10] It is said that the main problem with this theory is that it lacks explicit evidence within the text itself.

Paternal-Incest Theory

Others like Samuel suggest the paternal-incest theory, which claims that Ham sodomized Noah.[11] This is taken from the fact that the language is very similar to the account of Shechem’s rape of Dinah (Gen 34:1-2). Thus, Noah realizing what his son had done to him suggests that Noah was a victim in a sexual act. Proponents of this theory point out the relationship between this event and the Genesis account of the fallen angels known as the “sons of God” (Gen 6:1-4). “One story introduces the flood narrative, and the other concludes it.”[12] Thematically, the two stories relate on multiple levels. Not only do both stories involve the flood, this perspective would argue, but both involve unnatural sex. Interestingly, this very event is mentioned in Jude, when using the unnatural sexual lust of the angels to describe the unnatural homosexual lusts common in Sodom and Gomorrah (Jde 1:6-7). This then leads to the person of Lot, who happens to be connected to Sodom and Gomorrah, drunkenness, and the act of paternal incest. Not only that, but the very first sexual transgression mentioned in Leviticus (Lev 18:6-7) is about incest, and it is specifically used as a polemic against the land of Canaan (Lev 18:3).

Maternal-Incest Theory

Scott Hahn suggests what he calls the maternal-incest theory, which proposes that Ham actually has sexual relations with his mother, and not his father. He reasons that Lev 18:7-8 reveals how the “nakedness of your father” refers to the wife of the father, and not the father himself.[13] The reason why he doubts that Ham had sex with his father is because the verbiage in Leviticus 18:22, 20:13 does not line up with what is written in Gen 9:21-23. Therefore, he proposes that Canaan was cursed because he was the illegitimate offspring of the incestuous union.[14]

It is difficult to say which of these are correct, since they all make valid points in certain areas, but nonetheless do not account for every detail. Hahn presents an interesting theory, but it still raises other questions about how it is that Ham could have had sexual relations with his mother. Was she also drunk? Why is she not mentioned in the text? Etc. However, it seems that incest was involved in this story, since Moses is preparing the narrative to eventually contrast his moral laws with the surrounding Canaanite life. To the Hebrews in Moses’ day, the Canaanites were a cursed people, so the Genesis narrative was probably a means to explain why. Granted, Moses could have been a bit clearer.


[1] John Davis. Paradise to Prison. (Sheffield Publishing: Salem, Wisconsin, 1984) p. 128-129.
[2] Ibid.
[3] John Bergsma, and Scott Hahn. “Noah’s Nakedness and the Curse on Canaan (Genesis 9:20-27).” Journal of Biblical Literature 124, no. 1 (2005): 26.
[4] Frederick Bassett. “Noah’s Nakedness and the Curse of Canaan, a Case of Incest?” Vetus Testamentum 21, no. 2 (1971): 233.
[5] Bergsma and Hahn, 27.
[6] Ibid., p. 30.
[7] Ibid., p. 28.
[8] Graves and Patai, Hebrew Myths, 122.
[9] Bergsma and Hahn, 28.
[10] Frederick Bassett, 233.
[11] Bergsma and Hahn, 28.
[12] Ibid., p. 30-31.
[13] Ibid., p. 34.
[14] Ibid., p. 35.

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