On the Sunday Before the Nativity, we read Matthew’s Gospel of the Genealogy of Christ – Matthew 1:1-25. Jacob of Serugh (d. 519AD) composed a poem giving us an interesting insight into the genealogy and incarnation of Christ our God.
Jacob accepts the teaching of many Church Fathers that Jesus is the person in whose image Adam was originally made. Thus Adam in his own person becomes a revelation of the Word of God. In Adam we already see the Christ. Adam is made as the icon of the pre-Incarnate Christ. Adam in his person prophetically reveals Christ, and Christ shows us in the incarnation Adam the first formed human. In every succeeding generation from Adam, the icon of God was preserved in this lineage. The genealogy of Matthew’s Gospel is helping us to trace the lineage of God’s image found in humanity.
“You were hidden in Your Father, and He revealed You in Adam
when He created him:
He depicted in him the likeness of Your bodily existence and
The depiction of the King traveled down all generations,
transmitted mysteriously over the lineages,
so that God Himself might be mingled amongst humanity.
He gave His image from the very beginning of Creation so that
human being might be made in it,
for He was preparing to send His Son, the Only-Begotten;
and in the same fashion He came into the open, in bodily form:
for in the likeness of the Only-Begotten of the Godhead
He depicted Adam when He fashioned him, in a great mystery.
He (then) came back and took the likeness of His servant from
within the womb,
and became like him while He was delivering him from the
He came to His nativity, He took up His likeness, He delivered
He commenced and He completed in accordance with
His will in great love.
The upright throughout the generations held His likeness in
and for this reason the remembrance of them became
The fair Seth, who resembles his father, delineated
so that the world might see that the Son of God resembled him.
[According to Genesis 5:3, as God created Adam in God’s image, so Seth was in Adam’s image: “When Adam had lived a hundred and thirty years, he became the father of a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth.” Thus the image of God was continued in the human race. Jesus thus could be seen in both Adam and Seth and they in Him.]
Noah the just in that Ark which performed mysteries
depicted an image for Him, in that he was rescued from the
To Abraham the Father spoke in
saying that all the people would be blessed in his elect seed.
And because of this the Son of God was expected,
for the world had become aware that He would come in a
mysterious way. “
(Treasure-house of Mysteries: Explorations of the Sacred Text Through Poetry in the Syriac Tradition, pp 88-89)