The Incarnation: TransFIGuring the Fig Leaves

ephremWe are all familiar with contemporary Christmas Carols.  Here is one hymn written by 4th Century Christian poet St. Ephrem the Syrian.   We can learn from this what Christians in the 4th Century emphasized about the Christmas Feast.    St. Ephrem sees the Nativity as the Feast of the Incarnation, which for him was the undoing of what happened to humanity as a result of the sin of Eve and Adam

All these changes did the Merciful One make,

Stripping off glory and putting on a body*;

For He had devised a way to reclothe Adam

In that glory which he had stripped off.**

He was wrapped in swaddling clothes,

Corresponding to Adam’s leaves,

He put on clothes

In place of Adam’s skins;

He was baptized for Adam’s sin,

He was embalmed for Adam’s death,

He rose and raised Adam up in His glory.

Blessed is He who descended,

Put Adam on and ascended.

 *Philippians 2:5-7

** Some Patristic writers interpreted Genesis 3:7, 21 to mean that Adam & Eve were originally royally clothed by God, but in sinning they lost the right to wear the regal/divine garments given them by God, and “their eyes being opened” was their sudden realization of having lost their clothes and now being naked before God.  Thus their sin could not be hid by garments of leaves or by hiding in a bush as their nakedness was as obvious to God as it had become to them.   That is why Ephrem connects the incarnation to  God “reclothing” Adam.  The garments of skin given to Adam and Eve by God in 3:21 were a sorry substitute for their original garments which enabled them to be in God’s presence.    Christ the incarnate God thus sanctifies and transforms clothing when He allows Himself to be wrapped in swaddling clothes.   For now the clothes do not hide sin, but divinity!      We read this at the Transfiguration of Christ:   “Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them”   (Mark 9:2-3).

4 thoughts on “The Incarnation: TransFIGuring the Fig Leaves

  1. Pingback: Theophany, Baptism, and the Garment of Salvation (1) « Fr. Ted’s Blog

  2. Pingback: Matins Texts of The Expulsion of Adam & Eve (9) « Fr. Ted’s Blog

  3. Pingback: The Garments of Skins | Fr. Ted's Blog

  4. Pingback: Garments of Skins (2) | Fr. Ted's Blog

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