Nature, Wounded and Healed in Early Patristic Thought

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This article uses the work of Irenaeus to understand Paul's words about creation being subjected by God to futility and travail until the revelation of the sons of God, from an eschatological perspective rather than the customary protological one: instead of postulating an original pristine, perfect creation, distorted by the Fall, Irenaeus envisions the economy from the perspective of Christ's Passion and assertion from the cross that “it is finished,” so that the economy has always included human apostasy and death as the means whereby we finally learn of our weakness and mortality, so also coming to know of the strength of God “made perfect in weakness,” resulting in a living human being, “the glory of God,” manifest most clearly in the martyrs, no longer living by a breath of life but by the life-giving Spirit. While all other aspects of creation were brought into being by a divine “fiat,” God's own project, to make human beings in his image requires, however, creatures who are able to say “fiat,” conforming themselves to Christ by taking up his cross. The perfection of creation, thus, does not lie in the past, but in the end, in Christ, and so from the beginning, Adam, as a type of the one to come, points to him, and the final revealing of the sons and daughters of God in Christ and the groaning of creation, which must necessarily pass away, as it produces the fruit of immortality, is an intrinsic part of this process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-100
JournalToronto Journal of Theology
Issue number1
Early online date1 Jan 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Irenaeus of Lyons
  • death
  • creation
  • recreation


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