Christ, the Beginning of Creation – Part VIII

Christ, the Beginning of Creation – Part VIII

by Fr. Maximilian M. Dean

[To see the full article on one page visit Appendix: Christ the Beginning]

God created the heavens and the earth in Christ (Gn 1:1)

We have already pointed out in general and even made some specific allusions to that strict bond between Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1. What we want to do now is to establish from the Holy Fathers and Doctors of the Church that, according to Sacred Tradition, the beginning to which Genesis is referring and in which God created the universe was Jesus Christ Himself.[1] In other words, “In the beginning God created heaven and earth” means precisely that God created all things in Christ who is the Beginning of all of creation (cfr. Apoc3:14).

Here are just a few examples drawn from the Church Fathers:

– St. Zeno distinctly asserts: “My dearest brothers, ‘in principio’ – ‘in the beginning’ without any doubt means Christ our Lord.”[2]

– St. Jerome maintains that Christ is the Beginning referred to in Genesis: “More from the sense [of the text] than from the translation of the words one can understand in principio – ‘in the beginning’ to be Christ.”[3]

– In the Divine Liturgy (Mass) written by St. Cyril of Alexandria God is addressed in this fashion: “You created all in Jesus Christ, our Savior and King.”[4]

– St. Gregory of Tours teaches: “In the beginning our Lord formed heaven and earth in His Christ who is the beginning of all, namely in His Son.”[5]

– Venerable Bede affirms: “The beginning is Christ.”[6]

As if all of these affirmations were not enough, the Seraphic Doctor gives a clear confirmation: “If anyone desires to attain Christian wisdom, he must necessarily start with Christ… where the two great ‘wise men,’ namely Moses – the initiator of God’s wisdom [Genesis] – and John who is its completion, started. The former said, ‘In the beginning God created heaven and earth,’ that is in the Son…; and John: ‘In the beginning was the Word…’.”[7]

As is evident, if Genesis is speaking of Christ as the Beginning in which all things were created, then the Prologue of the Evangelist is also referring to Him as well. Since St. John decisively links his Prologue to Genesis, it is necessary that one grasp that he too is speaking of Christ, and not just the Word in Himself as God, when he writes; “In the beginning was the Word…”

On this point we cannot leave out the illustrious teaching of St. Augustine who reiterated it over and over in his writings and sermons. Given his authority on the subject matter, we do well to cite at length his defense of the true doctrine of Christ against the Manicheans:

How will they [the Manicheans] respond when I will have told them that the ‘Beginning’ is the very Son of God in whom Genesis states that God made the heaven and the earth? I have no difficulty in proving this since I know that I have witnesses available from the New Testament itself which, willing or not – their stubborn pride broken – they too submit to. Thus our Lord said to the unbelieving Jews: ‘For if you believed Moses you would believe me also, for he wrote of me’ (Jn 5:46). How can we not see that this very Lord [is the Beginning], in whom God the Father made heaven and earth? In fact, the phrase ‘In the beginning God made heaven and earth,’ was written precisely by Moses, and the authority of our Lord Himself confirmed that he had written with reference to Him. Or is He not perhaps the ‘Beginning’? It is not possible to doubt this: the Gospel clearly says that the Jews, after having asked our Lord who He was, He responded, ‘The beginning, who also speak unto you’ (Jn 8:25). Behold the Beginning in which God made heaven and earth. God, therefore, made heaven and earth in the Son through whom he made all things and without whom nothing exists. In this way, harmonizing the Gospel with Genesis, we preserve the heritage according to the consensus of both Testaments and we leave the self-serving calumnies to the discredited heretics.”[8]

To be continued…

 


[1] Cfr. P. Chrysostomus Urrutibéhéty, op. cit., cap. I, pp.43-49; cfr. anche P. Ruggero Rosini, op. cit., pp.111-117.

[2] St. Zeno, Sermons, i.2, tr.3 (PL 11, 392).

[3] St. Jerome, Lib. Hebr. Quaest. In Gen, c.1 (PL t.23, p.938).

[4] St. Cyril, Liturgiae anaphora (PG 77, 1294).

[5] St. Gregory of Tours, Hist. Franc, L.I, n.1 (PL 71, 163).

[6] St. Bede, Liber de sex dierum creatione (PL 93, 218).

[7] St. Bonaventure, Collationes in Hexaemeron, I, n.10.

[8] St. Augustine, Sermo I, c.2 (PL 38, 24); elsewhere he writes: “it was God who created heaven and earth in the beginning, but not the beginning of time, but in Christ, since He was with the Father: the Word through whom and in whom everything has been made” De Genesi contra Manichaeos, L.1, c.22, n.33 (PL 34, 189).