Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Patriarchs as types of Christ: Abraham

From The Christian Topography, Cosmas Indicopleustes.

This is the patriarch Abraham, the first of men who left his country, his kindred and his people and put his trust in God, and who for this, and for the promises which God made unto him, was declared righteous. This is he who from a body as good as dead and a womb also dead, produced myriads of men- who, as its root, produced for the world the blessed fruit by which the world is blessed and renovated; who by his works and the promises made to him revealed to the world the resurrection of the dead - by promises and works [such as are mentioned in the following passages]: Gen. xxviii, 14; Gal. iii, 16; John viii, 56; Heb. xi, 17-19; Rom. iv, 17-25. Now the journey which Abraham made for three days until he reached the place which God showed him as that where he should offer up his son as a sacrifice on one of the mountains, as is written, and his showing the father a ram which he might offer instead of his son who was born to him in wedlock and in the course of nature----these were all symbols and types of the mystery of the Passion and Resurrection of Christ, for all scripture keeps this object in view.


Henceforth God begins with Abraham first to reveal both by words and by signs the future state of existence, for the great Abraham at the bidding of God meditated offering up his beloved son, in the belief that God was able to raise him up from the dead, and to bestow such boons upon him as are intimated in scripture. Wherefore also in the Gospels the Lord mentions the typical bearing of the sacrifice of Abraham, when he called it a type of his own day. And through the promises he showed it to Abraham himself, saying: In thee and in thy seed shall all the nations be blessed; a promise which showed to him the dispensation according to Christ. Moreover, since God foresaw and from Abraham knew that He would come forth through whom the resurrection and the renovation of the universe are effected, He chose the faithful Abraham whom He had proved by every test, so that he was not chosen prematurely ; and having found him the most faithful among the Chaldaeans, a people versed in astronomy and astrology, he transferred him to the enchanters called Karênoi, and having there shown himself faithful, he was commanded to inhabit the land of the idolatrous [Canaanites]. And since, while he dwelt there he was found to be superior to its inhabitants, and did not incline to any of the three ways that have been mentioned, but rather submitted himself to the worship and to the commandments of God, he was thought worthy to receive the great promises and gifts of God, and to hear it said that from his seed should He come forth, who should first show to the world the blessing and the promise through him; He through whom also the creator and renewer of the world graciously bestows upon the world the resurrection and the promise. And they say that Abraham made the sacrifice of Isaac on that very mountain, where also the Lord Christ was offered up as a sacrifice for the whole world, and where he endured the saving cross.

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