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Athanasius' Christ's Fear

Athanasius' Christ's Fear

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Scottish Journal of Theology

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Did Athanasius Deny Christ's Fear?
Alvyn Pettersen
Scottish Journal of Theology / Volume 39 / Issue 03 / August 1986, pp 327 ­ 340 DOI: 10.1017/S0036930600030878, Published online: 02 February 2009

Link to this article: http://journals.cambridge.org/ abstract_S0036930600030878 How to cite this article: Alvyn Pettersen (1986). Did Athanasius Deny Christ's Fear?. Scottish  Journal of Theology, 39, pp 327­340 doi:10.1017/S0036930600030878 Request Permissions : Click here

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the Logos himself only being afraid insofar as that humanity was his. its natural subject as the humanity assumed in and through the Incarnation. 5-54. Richard. but the Logos was in the flesh which suffered such/ It was the Logos' assumed humanity which was afraid.Athanase et la psychologie du Christ selon les Ariens'. insofar as he was Logos.39.4-5. why has thou forsaken me?2 These he analyses in accordance with the general pattern of his explanation of the passions suffered by the Logos incarnate.57.5 and more recently Young. 327-340. 4 Contra Arianos. of Theol. 3. but as thou wilt.7 Richard also pointed to the fact that Athanasius asserted that Christians were rendered undaunted in the face of Matt.55. The matter appears straightforward: the fear is seen as genuine. Cambridge. p. my God. 26. p. Mark 15. 103flf. MSR 4 (1947). Cf. ' F. Johannine Christology and the Early Church. Journ. DID ATHANASIUS DENY CHRIST'S FEAR? by DK ALVYN PETTERSEN Contra Arianos 3 Athanasius considers I Ncries of a man about to be crucified: two frightened My Father. Pollard. Vol. E. ' Contra Arianos 3. let this cup pass from me. -fjnuiv e/ii/xTjcraro'. Athens.2-21 (References in both the text of the paper and in these footnotes refer to the Bibliotheke Hellenon Pateron kai Ekkhsiastikon Syngrapheon. 1 1 1 327 . Yet scholars have found such an appearance deceptive.1 My God. M.Scot. nevertheless. p. Richard. T. 1964. 1970. 'S. 39.3 These affections were not proper to the nature of the Logos.) 5 M.6 drew attention to a further elaboration by Athanasius upon this theme: The Logos 'having come in our body TO. if it be possible.34. 'A Reconsideration of Alexandrian Christology'. Young. not as I will. JEH 22 (1971). pp. 184f.

1940. 35. 26.328 SCOTTISH JOURNAL OF THEOLOGY death by rij votii^onevy SciAia of Christ. 57. p." Stead then directed attention to what seemed to be a selfcontradictory notion of the divine Logos who could not change. Stead. so he had removed man's fear by 1 7 7 vofju&nevrj SeiAi'a. 270. 57. a reader ofAthanasius is still tempted to side with that initial straightforward interpretation of Matt. in noting an absence of a 'combat interieur' within the condemned Christ. ibid. suggesting not that for Athanasius Christ's fear is feigned. 14 H.39 and Mark 15. If..34 by asserting that Jesus was truly fearful as he faced crucifixion seems clear.. Le Christ et I'homme dans la theologie d'Athanase d'Alexandrie. 57.15. and all man's human weaknesses humanly.55. 43. . Athanasius' " Ibid. to preserve the catholic faith in the face of the Arian threat. V. Turner14 finds in Athanasius' writing a tendency to reduce the compass of Christ's psychological passions to the passions of the flesh. That Athanasius begins the section of Contra Arianos 3 which treats Matt. 1968.12. E. 12 G. 57. p. p. 26. Leiden. " Contra Arianos 3. He noted10 that according to Athanasius the Logos 'lightened' the sufferings of the flesh and 'destroyed' their terror.39 and Mark 15. Oxford. even at the risk of being self-contradictory. in order to accommodate them to their divine subject. " Ibid. 56. 1975. and Roldanus.13 who was both above fear and yet feared. however. W.'1 Sellars furthered this questioning of the straightforward understanding of the Athanasian exegesis of Matt. C.34.25-28. in the light of all these seemingly contrary signals. 1977. Turner. Divine Substance.30fT.39 and Mark 15. 6 aiiros. 15 J. and yet did change.34.31fT. '" R. London. others will step forward. 26..8 Even as the Logos had destroyed death by death.15 finds a flinching from the more poignantly human experiences described in the gospel narratives which appears to border upon psychological docetism. but that that fear is allowed less poignancy than it might properly deserve. Roldanus. It is the intention of this paper to ask whether there is any possible resolution of that initial assertion by Athanasius of Christ's fear and the qualifications and denials by recent scholars of that same fear... since it was to that very divine Logos that change occurred:12 according to Athanasius it was the same person. London.27-28. 21-22. other than that Athanasius was seeking. " Contra Arianos 3. p. Two Ancient Christologies. ibid. Sellers. Jesus the Christ.

fear included. . that he wept . he notes: Behold..39. .31-33. ibid. Thus certainly it is written. the twofold reference to Matt. In the first ten lines of this chapter Athanasius reports that Christ was troubled and wept.. 107: For Athanasius Christ's 'tears." Feigned fear would not have effected such a demonstration. op. Having decided that Athanasius initially admits a genuine fear felt by Jesus.54. 56. is it necessary.32fT..4ff. it is written' and 'thus certainly it is written' and the inclusion of the expressions 'behold' and 'yes' all point strongly to a recognition by Athanasius of Christ's fear.. 55.14. 'now is my soul troubled' and he besought that the cup might pass away. . demonstrate the Logos' incarnation in passible humanity. 'why has thou forsaken me?'. 31. and on the cross he said . 55. . 3. and he besought that the cup might pass away. in the light of the scholarly points noted above. he wept and said. He continues: Yes. a proof of the fact that he has assumed the weaknesses of human flesh for our salvation'. . a means of displaying the reality of the Incarnation. The matter of the referring to the incarnate Logos' suffering by TCI ij/Atov e/ii/iijaaro need not lead us to conclude after all that '* Contra Arianos 3. the mention of the cry of dereliction. This conclusion finds corroboration elsewhere: that Athanasius felt that he had to safeguard the divine Logos from the Arian accusation of being the unqualified subject of fear18 also seems to suggest that this fear is genuine. the emphatic 'yes.55. it is written. . For only from genuine fear need the impassible Logos be safeguarded. ibid. . Young. 32.54. cf. cit. his fear of death . M . 26... and that he said 'I am troubled'. were . 21-23. to admit at worst that Athanasius subsequently contradicts himself. iWA.16 The repeated use of the verbs 'to be troubled' and 'to weep'..ATHANASIUS ON CHRIST'S FEAR 329 admission of this fear appears from the very outset of Contra Arianos 3. Such recognition seems to be confirmed by statements that the characteristics of the body. or at best that he greatly reduces the poignancy of that passion? Possibly it is not. . " Ibid. F. . cf.27ff.10-11.33-39. •" Ibid.

the balancing of avros . 10 . 'Qs yap avros. (f>9apTr)v ofiaav TT)V adpKa. rrjs nap eKelvov fieTaXafi^dvofiev ddavaaias.20 Athanasius begins by noting that it was not fitting for man's corruptible flesh to remain.330 SCOTTISH JOURNAL OF THEOLOGY 'Athanasius is driven to claiming a pretence of fear'. TT)V eavrfjs <f>vaiv fxevetv dvrjrrjv. Richard. partook of his immortality. 3 John 11 reads 'do not imitate evil. cit. Sc^a/xcvoi avrov. as the 'Qs yap reveals. Here again there is no question of the evil or the good being unreal. • .57.56. namely the Logos. without forcing the sense of the verb. For even as he. Moreover. so man was in the divine Logos and shared his divinity. at. dAAa 8td TOV ivBvadfievov avrrjv Aoyov a<j>daprov 8ia(ieveiv. receiving him. we read 'imitate the faith'. /xij/cert KCLTO.. namely by assuming man's mortal and corruptible flesh. Contra Arianos 3. so man. in Contra Arianos 3. Rather. where there is no reason to doubt the reality " Young. The verb 'imitate' does not call into question the reality of the 'imitation'.7. mortal. op. OVTUIS r)fiels. 107.evos iv ra> rjfMwv atofiari. TTJS Trap' eKelvov neraXafifldvofiev ddavaaias will not allow the verb 'imitated' to be understood in a docetic manner. TO. rificbv e/ii/Lf^ffaro by ij/xeis .19 Consider the passage concerned: yap. 'Imitated' must therefore be understood as not casting doubt upon the reality of Christ's humanity. 32f. yev6fj. Similarly. It is this thought of which rd r)(iu>v ifiifirjaaTo is an explanation. op. in accordance with its nature. however. for example. and so graciously rendered it incorruptible. 'imitated our condition'. . This can be done. TO. In Hebrews 13.2-6.. 'imitate' points to making 'the good' one's own. and hence shared his humanity. Rather it points to the making one's own the faith of those being imitated. Therefore the Logos put on that corrupt and naturally mortal flesh. Man's true indwelling in God therefore was dependent upon the true indwelling of the divine Logos in man. . who came in man's creatureliness. God's coinherence in man effected man's in God. cf. r/fiajv e/xi/iTjaaro. For the sense of the balancing clauses is that even as the divine Logos was in man. but good'.

22 Richard sees here another instance of Athanasius' fighting shy of admitting the reality of Christ's psychological passions.23 His interpretation is however open to question.27. 35. 'imitated' ought to be interpreted in the sense of'making one's own'. even as indeed the immortality in which man participates through the Logos' imitation of our condition is not naturally his. " Ibid.25-28. Earlier in the same chapter of the Contra Arianos Athanasius. For even within the immediate context of the phrase TT} vo/w^o/xe^ SeiAi'a. Athanasius' soteriological thought seems to suggest the same reality. " Richard. he refers to Christ's fearing humanly in 57. Kal TreiroirjKe /jLTjKeTi <f>of$elodai TOVS dvdpwTTOvs TOV ddvarov. and every human passion by suffering in his humanity.. cit.25-27. the humanity was not naturally the divine Logos'. 57.29f.15-16. While Athanasius refers to rr\ vofit^ofievr) SeiAi'a in 57. 57. he destroyed man's fear by rfj vo/^o/xcV^SeiAi'a. though the Logos 'made humanity his own'. " Similar clauses in Contra Arianos 3.. " Ibid. Kal avQpwnLvios ndvra r d dvOpcbiriva. and given that fear was one of these human passions which were destroyed by the Logos' truly enduring them.24 Further.t£ofievr) SetAt'a rrjv •fjfiujv SeiAi'av d<f>r)peZTO. noted both that men were rendered 'undaunted and fearless rfj voixi^o/xevri SeiAi'a'21 and that 'Qs ydp TOV Odvarov davdrco Karrjpyqae. the reality of Christ's fear is recognised. OVTCJ TTJ vo[j. The verb 'imitate' does not therefore serve the purpose of casting doubt upon the reality of Christ's passions. It rather corresponds to 'form' in the clause 'having taken the form of a slave' and to 'likeness' in the clause 'being in the likeness of man'.25 Given the precedents both of death and every human passion as destroyed by the Logos' truly enduring these very things. 57.. as Richard and Young suggest.ATHANASIUS ON CHRIST'S FEAR 331 of'our condition'.. it seems to follow 11 Ibid.57.15-16. still within the context of a defence of the divine Logos against accusations of being fearful. op.8 and 11 pave the way for the phrase Tf) vofu^o/icvri SeiAia in 57. . For while the Logos destroyed death by undergoing death. It points to the fact that.

. 57. While. This is especially likely given the use of the 'Qs yap .14-16: he whom Christ's enemies considered to have spoken in fear has by that fear considered as his by the Arians rendered men undaunted and fearless. where Athanasius notes that the divine Logos assumed fearful flesh in order that thereby he might combine his own will. . being his only through his incarnation.11-13. it seems that it should be interpreted in the light of os a>? fiera SeiXiav AaAeiv vo[il£. . There may also be present in the use of this phrase the idea that the fear was not the Logos'. the use of roju'Jouoc in ibid.oixevrj SetAi'a as picking up the preceding vo^ovaiv we arrive at the following sense for 57. The phrase is therefore only a taking up of an Arian slogan in an anti-Arian polemic. but that it was ascribed by the Arians to the Logos. 55. Rather.25fT. 57. however.ov<nv ol -XpioTo/xaxoi27 the subordinate clause of the sentence in which the disputed phrase occurs. . " CJ. of the phrase 777 voiut.14. Seeing vo/u^o/xeVr. having thus destroyed this affection. "Ibid. he rendered men undaunted in the face of death. the divine courage. but in the sense that it was not the divine Logos'. It seems therefore that rfj vo/xi^o/xeVrj SeiAta as applied to the rendering of man fearless in the face of death is not to be interpreted to mean 'feigned fear'. ovrw. man's fear.332 SCOTTISH JOURNAL OF THEOLOGY that man's fear was destroyed by the Logos' truly enduring the same.lb which emphasises the similitude between the destruction of death by true death and the destruction of fear rfj vo^ofiivr) SetAi'a. The phrase rfj vofii^ofievrj SeiAt'a does not therefore imply that the fear was feigned. Athanasius' soteriological thought depends upon the reality of Christ's fear. if it does underlie the phrase rfj vofn. this idea is in keeping with Athanasius' Christology. Indeed this likelihood is made virtually certain by 57. . it was through the assumption of human fear by the divine Logos that man was redeemed from fear. .28-29. . not 'not his' in the sense that the fear was feigned. with human weakness.. In short.t. better established interpretation. 26 Ibid.ofievrj SetAi'a it does so only in a very subordinate way to the other..

destroying this affection.56.evr) SeiAi'a ought to be interpreted as 'that fear considered as his by the Arians' seems confirmed by 37. 57. 35. the Logos. weeping. V. cil. It is not the case that since the divine Logos in himself was impassible. that. For Athanasius the divine Logos was wholly God and wholly impassible. op. First.i£<yievoj fulfils the same function as that which I have suggested that the verb fulfils in chapter 57. the suffering of the assumed body was 'lightened'. 43.27-29. that in some way the union might be made more acceptable. Second. toiling. being troubled] are done and said as of a man. and these things [sc.. 10 Contra Arianos 3. as Richard suggests. he might in turn make man undaunted in the face of death.10-13..29 Nor need the references either to the Logos 'lightening' the sufferings of the flesh or to his 'destroying' terror30 lead us to believe that Athanasius contradicts his earlier affirmations of Christ's fear.ATHANASIUS ON CHRIST'S FEAR 333 That TTJ vofii£ofj. " Cf. ibid. cit. it must be stressed that this 'lightening' occurred for soteriological and not theological reasons. It is rather the case that for Athanasius this self-same divine Logos " Richard.34-35: he who is considered as ignorant is he who foreknew the reasonings of the disciples. this 'lightening' and 'destroying' of suffering in fact points to the reality of the assumed suffering. Sellers. as Logos. For the sake of this flesh he combined his own will with human weakness. . Here j>o/j. that he might lighten these very sufferings of the flesh and free it from them. For. as is made clear from the contexts. Two points arise from these quotations. For only genuine suffering needs 'lightening'. R. was beyond even 'lightened' suffering.. op. The verb does not actually lead to the conclusion that Athanasius 'n'etait pas du tout dispose a lui attribuer un sentiment psychologique de crainte'.31 but soteriological: The Lord became man. the motive underlying the introduction of these terms is not incipiently docetic.

however. L. 1968. Yet it does serve a purpose.. Yet perhaps this second assertion is not strictly self-contradictory. the second. was both above fear and yet feared.334 SCOTTISH JOURNAL OF THEOLOGY took passible flesh. insofar as like the first. whereby salvation is being wrought continuously: for it is not only on occasions. appears to flinch from attributing fear fully to the Logos. Fathers and Heretics. 'God' and 'man' are essentially different. in its seeming self-contradiction. and another that he asserted that 6 airos. " Contra Arianos 3. The statements in chapters 55 and 57 would only therefore be strictly contradictory if the definition of'the divine Logos' and of'the divine Logos become man' were coterminous. vid.32. the Logos. p.33 Yet they have been seen as related. Sellers. The use by Athanasius of the verb 'lighten' in soteriological contexts is infrequent. and the qualification of the divine Logos by the essentially different manhood assumed by him is all-important. Yet there remain the arguments of those who " Cf. it is in fact that very divine Logos. no matter how important these may be. who is subject to change. 31 and G. 57.32 It may seem to be one thing to say that Athanasius denied the fear of Christ which he had formerly asserted. The contradiction is thus excluded and the implied conclusion that Athanasius flinched from attributing fear to the incarnate Logos must be resisted. It draws attention to the dynamic and continuous inter-action between the divine Logos and the assumed body. that thereby he might 'lighten' man's suffering. but all the time that redemption from suffering is being effected. London. . It seems therefore that despite the seemingly contrary signals of the scholars. 26. and does not impose the implied conclusion. Prestige. a joyful communion with his Maker. op. For Athanasius.39 and Mark 15.55.3Off. and might thereby bring man to his proper end. 158. V. Athanasius' treatment of man's redemption from ignorance through the gradual unveiling of the godhead in its incarnate state. For while it is the divine Logos who does not change.34 is developed consistently and in a manner which accords with his general pattern of explanation of the passions suffered by the Logos incarnate. but a divine Logos qualified by a mutable humanity. cit. the reader of Athanasius' Contra Arianos 3 may assert that Athanasius' exegesis of Matt. R.

22-23. this admission may appear to modern ears to lack a certain poignancy. he also deprecates the cup of death and was afraid in the flesh. he does not invoke a human soul of Christ to explain Christ's psychological passions. it seems to be for the very same polemical reasons that. Athanasius certainly relates both the physical and the psychological passions of Christ to his flesh. but in polemical concerns. 16 . 34. as Richard notes. 34.35 Indeed. Thus it is that he can combine them both under the label of ras 8t<x rrjv adpKa Aeyo/xeVa? <xo6ev€tas-j34 these being h u m a n . he hungers. but refers both to the assumed flesh. why Athanasius does not distinguish Christ's physical from his psychological passions does not lie in a defective understanding either of Christ's humanity or of his passions.ATHANASIUS ON CHRIST'S FEAR 335 allege that Athanasius allows less poignancy to the fear of Christ than it might properly deserve. For to have asserted the latter would have lessened the effect of that anti-Arian counter which stressed that the divine Logos suffered only " Ibid.22.. but is content to refer them to the assumed humanity.. but only to distinguish them both from the divinity of the Logos. Certainly. or the divine and the human economy of the Logos. and he does not seem to make any mention of the inner turmoil which is generally associated with fear. In treating this experience of fear Athanasius does not seem to distinguish Christ's psychological passions from his physical.36 Athanasius asserted that the Logos was afraid because he has a 'fearful flesh'. thirsts and toils in the flesh. op. The reason. 34. cit. Richard. Athanasius was not concerned to distinguish Christ's physical passions from his psychological. but never asserted that the 'Christ was afraid'. ls Ibid. in contrast with TO a-naOks -rfjs rod Aoyov <f>voe<x)s. Working therefore within this framework of the divinity and the humanity. although Athanasius does seem to admit an experience of fear by the incarnate Logos.. however. Athanasius was primarily concerned in Contra Arianos 1-3 with safeguarding the divine Logos from those creaturely categories which the Arians sought to apply to him: he was concerned to make a clear distinction between the divine and the human.

is set over against the divine Logos. In his exposition of Christ's growth in grace and wisdom.37. he already knew. Athanasius states that it was not the divine Logos who suffered. 'thus Christ suffered for us in the flesh'. it is clear that while it is not the divine Logos who is wanting. but humanly. In his description of the questions asked by Christ. but which were utterly alien to the impassible nature of the Creator-Logos. As regards Christ's ignorance of the day of judgement. although as God he was not ignorant. while the divine Logos was impassible. to which fear naturally belonged. he receives as man what he always had as God. not in himself as the divine son.34. Within the context of the argument 'flesh' is not set over against the 'soul'. not man's body contrasted with his soul. Such an interpretation of 'flesh' can find support elsewhere. It is man's creatureliness contrasted with God's divinity. for the Logos was not open to increase. Thus it is that Athanasius uses 1 Peter 4. Athanasius remarks that Christ admitted his ignorance on account of his human flesh. the 'passions' referred to are both the Contra Arianos 3. to which his passions are attributed. but the incarnate Logos. These are but a sample of the many examples from which it is clear that Christ's humanity. but stands for creatureliness over against divinity. his humanity was passible. This is most clearly confirmed in Contra Arianos 3-38f: 'his passions are not proper to the very Logos by nature. for he knew as Logos but was ignorant as man. in his divinity. but proper by nature to the very flesh'. Finally. while his 'flesh' was.37 In this passage. In his description of Christ's reception of the gifts of grace. where 'Logos' and 'flesh' are clearly the poles of a theological contrast. which were natural to the creatureliness of man. theological reasons for this attribution of the psychological passions to the assumed flesh. it is the body which is.1. Athanasius states that the Logos 'advanced'. Athanasius notes that it was the 'flesh' that was ignorant and not the divine Logos.336 SCOTTISH JOURNAL OF THEOLOGY through his assumption of flesh. in his treatment of Christ's passions. both physical and psychological. however. as the form of explanation for all those passions. There are also. . Christ inquired in the flesh of what.

For he is not capable 'by himself of knowing the Creator or of taking any thought of God.3ff. Richard. 33. The attribution of both the physical and the psychological passions of Christ to the 'assumed body of flesh' is part and parcel of Athanasius' particular anthropology. in that God is uncreated.25-26. . but are made rational in the flesh.19-21. For through Christ's passions all men are made alive. that man's body. but henceforth being made rational. in De Incarnatione U. pain or care. to his corporeality man's weaknesses are to be attributed.3' they no longer remain true to their creaturely. II ne va pas plus loin'. being composed of parts. " Ibid. whereas man has been made from nothing. It follows therefore that man in his corporeality is by nature passible. the Logos is the eternally divine Logos of the Father and the 'flesh' is man in his creaturely weakness. The soteriological implication of Christ's passibility further demonstrates that 'flesh' is that creatureliness to which. to the " Ibid. that Athanasius seems not to invoke a human soul to explain Christ's psychological passions40 need not overly concern us. is naturally unstable and is weak and mortal when considered by itself. 34: 'il semble bien admettre la possibility d'un mouvement psychologique de peur dans la chair du Sauveur. and God is incorporeal. op. and being created from nothing. by being redeemed from the passions proper to the flesh in its creatureliness. their creatureliness. the flesh no longer being earthly. along with all the other creaturely passions.. mutable and ignorant. It is only through its being graciously created in the image of God that man enjoys a life without sorrow.ATHANASIUS ON CHRIST'S FEAR 38 337 physical and psychological passions that Christ suffered.1f. theologically speaking. Again.. whereas man is fashioned here below with a body. Athanasius stresses that man in his corporeality is ignorant.. It is not therefore the case that Athanasius has reduced Christ's psychological passions to those of the flesh in order to accommodate them to their divine subject. It is thus fitting that Athanasius attributes Christ's passions to Christ's assumed creatureliness. It is clear from Contra Gentes 41. They have been referred. his 'body' or 'flesh'. passible nature. 34. Further. all passions belong. '" Cf. cit.

as that he sought to avoid attributing fear to the divine Logos. op.338 SCOTTISH JOURNAL OF THEOLOGY assumed 'flesh'. he had suffered intrinsically. . and that which he suffered extrinsically. and therefore extrinsic. 270. Second. he suffered extrinsically.41 Richard's implication being that Athanasius avoided attributing to Christ that inner turmoil born of fear. it was a traditional concern. How much less was he likely to explain the passion of fear intrinsically! It is not so much that Athanasius sought to avoid attributing to Christ the inner turmoil born of fear. however. so with Christ's fear. Certainly Roldanus is correct in noting that there is in Contra Arianos 3 no explicit mention of any inner turmoil in the fearful Christ. " Roldanus. to prevent their ascription to their divine subject. On the negative side it may be observed that not mentioning inner turmoil is not neces" Ibid. done extrinseque' to explain this fear. Athanasius here explains this psychological passion through soteriology may be answered in two ways. he suffered it for the sake of all: thus that which the Logos suffered intrinsically. Roldanus meanwhile draws direct attention to an absence of a 'combat interieur' within the condemned Christ.. cit. Hence Athanasius was here only being traditionally Alexandrian. in his debate with the Arians. Why. The intensive and the extensive aspects of Athanasius' Christology are then but two sides of the same coin. the impassible Logos. the one assuming the existence of the other. Richard refers to Athanasius' resorting to Targument soteriologique. Yet it must be remembered that. not only of Athanasius but also of Alexandrian Christology in general.. so flinching from that same inner conflict. First. Even the virtues of grace and knowledge Athanasius did not explain intrinsically. Yet account can be made for this. The matter of inner turmoil in the frightened Jesus is raised in two manners. to stress the soteriological aspects of the incarnation. Athanasius sought to avoid implying in any way whatsoever that the divine Logos was creaturely.42 Athanasius' explanation of Christ's fear is soteriological. 34. as with all of the Logos' human economy. lest the divine Logos seemed less than complete.

as a stylistic technique. 16. 1981. Contra Arianos 3. for example. chronological order did not predominate. cf. Instead of tracing character-development ancient biographical writing from Plato onwards generally starts and finishes with the mature character of the person concerned. Rather. Indeed.54-55 passim. Xenophon states that the deeds of a man best disclose the stamp of his nature. the tracing of character-development was not a sine qua non of ancient biographical writing. Groh. not the anthropological categories of soul and body. Again. In Peripatetic biography the actions and words of a person are allowed to speak for themselves. for instance. Gregg and D. the Gospels show little interest in characterdevelopment. The idea that a person can be understood only by the tracing of the development of his personality is modern and has no real counterpart in the ancient world. . p. even where characterportrayal does occur. it must be noted that when some of the literary conventions used in the Christological writings of the Athanasian corpus are set alongside those of the Gospels and of ancient biographical writings no profound difference is to be detected. the question was not central to the Arians either. Since. presentation of material per species is much more common. On the more positive side it must be noted that the treatment of the matter in terms of 'soul' and 'body' was not central to Athanasius' defence of the divine Logos from the attacks of the Arians. portraying Jesus from the beginning to the end of his ministry in essentially the same way. does sometimes include a character-summary. but makes no attempt to analyse internal development of personality. The Christological writings of Athanasius should be read against this " Vid. and allowing his actions and words to show the sort of man that he was. In his Agesilaus. Early Arianism: a View of Salvation. In all three cases a concern for chronological order is not characteristic. R. Plutarch.43 More particularly. for they located the debate in the theological categories of creator and creature. We should be wary of mere arguments from silence. in Plutarch's Life of Alexander this same method of indirect characterisation is practised. London. Similarly. Indeed. therefore.ATHANASIUS ON CHRIST'S FEAR 339 sarily the same as denying it. it is generally assumed that a person's actions and words sum up his character more adequately than the comments of an observer.

Athanasius is primarily concerned with ensuring that the various human passions of Jesus are not ascribed to the divine Logos himself. all of which pervade Contra Arianos 3. but judged by those of fourth century Alexandria. This characterdescription is all the more telling when we remember that Athanasius is dealing with Arian polemic. toiling. Given then the parameters within which Athanasius is writing. and the recalling of his request for the removal of the cup and of his cry of dereliction. weeping and sweating. and not that of more modern biographical writing. they appear as representations of the Christ-figure.340 SCOTTISH JOURNAL OF THEOLOGY background. and not with those which he might have raised had he been setting the agenda. and of his being fearful and being troubled. At any rate. When this is done. the seemingly external and formal accounts of Christ's fear become more poignant. and thus is dealing with those points which the Arians raised. it is full and rounded. Given this appreciation of the nature of the literature.54-58. the treatment of the fearful cries of the condemned Jesus is in fact poignantly realistic. ALVYN PETTERSEN Exeter College Oxford 0X1 3DP . within this countering of Arian theology. Moreover. The reporting of his acts of suffering. the matter of the psychological turmoil of the man Jesus is not uppermost in his mind. Judged by twentieth century standards the characterisation seems somewhat superficial. The bishop's courage in portraying Christ's fear deserves our respect. whose character is portrayed by allowing his actions and words to speak for themselves. with its concern for the development of'personality'. portray this passible character. and it meets the requirements of a rejoinder to the Arian portrayal.

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