Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Last of the Church Fathers

Today was the memorial for St. Yanah ibn Mansur ibn Sarjun, better known as St. John Damascene, Doctor of the Church. Born into Muslim-occupied Syria, his family were civil servants working in the court at Damascus; it is possible that he served for a while as a financial officer to the caliph, although we don't know for sure. He eventually became a monk, and became one of the major critics of the Iconoclast heresy -- since he lived under the Muslim caliph, the Byzantine emperor could not touch him. He died in 749. He is sometimes called the last of the Church Fathers, although there are several other people who also get that nickname, depending on what you are talking about. From his Exposition of the Faith (I.2):

We, therefore, both know and confess that God is without beginning, without end, eternal and everlasting, uncreate, unchangeable, invariable, simple, uncompound, incorporeal, invisible, impalpable, uncircumscribed, infinite, incognisable, indefinable, incomprehensible, good, just, maker of all things created, almighty, all-ruling, all-surveying, of all overseer, sovereign, judge; and that God is One, that is to say, one essence; and that He is known, and has His being in three subsistences, in Father, I say, and Son and Holy Spirit; and that the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are one in all respects, except in that of not being begotten, that of being begotten, and that of procession; and that the Only-begotten Son and Word of God and God, in His bowels of mercy, for our salvation, by the good pleasure of God and the co-operation of the Holy Spirit, being conceived without seed, was born uncorruptedly of the Holy Virgin and Mother of God, Mary, by the Holy Spirit, and became of her perfect Man; and that the Same is at once perfect God and perfect Man, of two natures, Godhead and Manhood, and in two natures possessing intelligence, will and energy, and freedom, and, in a word, perfect according to the measure and proportion proper to each, at once to the divinity, I say, and to the humanity, yet to one composite person; and that He suffered hunger and thirst and weariness, and was crucified, and for three days submitted to the experience of death and burial, and ascended to heaven, from which also He came to us, and shall come again. And the Holy Scripture is witness to this and the whole choir of the Saints.

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