Arthur Custance - The Seed of the Woman - the spiritual imperative of the virgin birth

Steven Avery

Administrator
This is planned to get its own section.

New material is here, taking from Facebook, mostly the Patristics for Protestants discussion, also on PureBible:

Facebook - Pure Bible
https://www.facebook.com/groups/purebible/permalink/2110166415741903/

Facebook - Patristics for Protestants
https://www.facebook.com/groups/884609654958164/permalink/2106480662771051/

The virgin birth and the sinlessness of the Lord Jesus as our atoning sacrifice without blemish.

And I will review how I understand four general views, there may be more, e.g. I have not searched out gnostics. There may be hybrid views. And this may not get a lot of church writer attention, early, medieval, reformation or modern.
Our helpful compatriots may be able to align early church writers to one or more of these, or greatly improve my layout.

==========

(A) The immaculate conception of Mary and her sinlessness, combined with the Holy Spirit parentage of Jesus meant that through the virgin birth there was no sin nature transference/inheritance.


(B) The virgin birth of Jesus was in the realm of a divine implant, with Mary, if you will, as a surrogate mother. Thus the non-sin element was built into his Messiah nature. In this case, Mary’s human egg-DNA and nature are bypassed, even while she is the chosen vessel.


(C) The sin-nature is passed through Adam and the “seed” of the man. Thus, the virgin birth negates that human propensity to sin. In modern times, this has been articulated very well in some writings by Arthur Custance (1910-1985) including “The Seed of the Woman” in his sometimes uneven Doorway Papers. Some iterations of this give Jesus a unique chromosomal count.


(D) The virgin birth did not have any direct effect on the nature of the Lord Jesus, it was mostly for prophetic fulfillment and Messianic narrative. Jesus was sinless by his goodness and effort, with perhaps a providential anointing put in the mix. Here we are more into the realm of the ebionites, and possibly adoptionists and nazarenes.


Facebook - Patristics for Protetants
https://www.facebook.com/groups/884609654958164/permalink/2112252922193825/?comment_id=2113278295424621&comment_tracking={"tn":"R"}

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Thomas Aquinas on early writers
An addition to sinlessness of Messiah theories

===================

In the earlier thread, in the OP, I mentioned the immaculate conception as one of the doctrinal methods used to explain the sinlessness of Jesus.

While looking at Aquinas quoting Augustine and John of Damascus, Dionysius and Chrysostom.--

-- it seems that another idea should be mentioned as one of the historical doctrinal explanatory attempts. This has a lesser cleansing and sinlessness of Mary, in that it came forth at the conception or birth of Jesus.

Plus, it confirms something that I noticed in other studies, about the heavenly witnesses, and Luke 2:22, that we should happily use Thomas Aquinas as a window into earlier Latin and Greek writings.

Any help with the primary sections would be appreciated, your comments and thoughts as well.

And I'll try to fill out a bit of the referencing here and place it on an easier to read spot, with italics, etc.

Summa Theologiae: Volume 51, Our Lady: 3a. 27-30
By Thomas Aquinas
https://books.google.com/books?id=4WfcEZj5wa0C&pg=PA15

4. Sanctification has a double aspect. One is the sanctification of the whole nature when the whole of human nature is freed from all fault and punishment. This will take place in the resurrection—the other is personal sanctification. This is not transmitted to children by sexual generation since it is a matter of the soul not the flesh.20 Thus even if the parents of the blessed Virgin were cleansed from original sin, the blessed Virgin contracted it since she was conceived in sexual desire and the joining of husband and wife. Augustine says, All flesh born of intercourse is of sin. '21 p. 15

3- Furthermore, John of Damascus says that the Holy Spirit came upon the blessed Virgin, purifying her x before the conception of the Son of God. This must refer to the inflammation of sin since she never sinned, as Augustine says.5 Hence when she was sanctified in the womb she was not cleared of the inflammation of sin.- p. 15

(SA: the Augustine spot for "she never sinned" is *De natura et gratia, 36. PL 44, 267" and this seems to have some tension with the other Augustine quotes.

Song of Solomon 4:7 (AV) - scripture ref
Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee.)

Reply: There are several opinions on this matter. Some7 say that in her sanctification in the womb the blessed Virgin was totally cleared of the inflammation. Others8 say that the inflammation making virtue difficult remained, but that inclining towards sin was removed. Others9 say that no inflammation remained that diminished the person regarding either the arduousncss of virtue or the case toward sin. What did remain was the diminishing of the nature so that it now was the cause of transmitting original sin to children. Others10 hold that in the first sanctification the inflammation remained in essence but was rendered harmless. Then, in the conception of the Son of God it was completely taken away. p. 17

... Now just as no one obtained physical immortality until after Christ had risen clothed in immortality, so it would seem wrong to say that in the case at hand his Virgin mother, or anyone else, was free from all inflammation of sin before Christ appeared in his sinless flesh. After all, the inflammation of sin is called the law of the flesh or of the members;13 p. 19

... 3. The Holy Spirit purified the blessed Virgin twice. The first was in preparation for the conception of Christ. She was not then cleared of the stain of sin or of the inflammation. She achieved rather a unity of purpose and was disengaged from many distracting things.16 Now even the angels are said to be purified even though there is no stain in diem, as Dionysius says.17 The Holy Spirit’s second purificaton of Mary was through the conception of Christ, for that was the work of the Holy Spirit. He cleared her completely of the inflammation then. p. 21

2. Also Augustine says on that text in Luke, A sword will pierce your own soul,1 that the blessed Virgin at the time of the death of Christ was stunned, as it were, into doubting.a But to doubt one’s faith is a sin. The blessed Virgin was not then kept from all sin.

3. Furthermore, on Matthew's text, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren are standing outside seeking thee,5 Chrysostom comments, It’s obvious that they did this out of vain glory* Or on John’s, They have no wine, he says that she wanted to do them a favour, and at the same time to make herself look good at her Son's expense. She thus perhaps succumbed to human weakness just as his brethren did when they said, Show yourself to the world He adds further on that she had not yet come to believe in him as she should* Sin is involved in all of this. The blessed Virgin then, was not kept from all sin.p. 21

ON THE OTHER hand Augustine says,
"When we are talking about sin I want absolutely—because of the honour due to Christ—to exclude the blessed Virgin from it. We know that she conceived and gave birth to him who had no sin. She received, therefore, abundance of grace to overcome sin in every way.9"

On p. 23 Aquinas gives his own view, quite different:
"We should therefore simply say that the blessed Virgin committed no actual sin, either mortal or venial. And what the Canticle says16 is fulfilled, You are wholly beautiful, my love, and without blemish."

Thomas Aquinas on early writers

An addition to sinlessness of Messiah theories

===================

In the earlier thread, in the OP, I mentioned the immaculate conception as one of the doctrinal methods used to explain the sinlessness of Jesus.

While looking at Aquinas quoting Augustine and John of Damascus, Dionysius and Chrysostom.--

-- it seems that another idea should be mentioned as one of the historical doctrinal explanatory attempts. This has a lesser cleansing and sinlessness of Mary, in that it came forth at the conception or birth of Jesus.

Plus, it confirms something that I noticed in other studies, about the heavenly witnesses, and Luke 2:22, that we should happily use Thomas Aquinas as a window into earlier Latin and Greek writings.

Any help with the primary sections would be appreciated, your comments and thoughts as well.

And I'll try to fill out a bit of the referencing here and place it on an easier to read spot, with italics, etc.

Summa Theologiae: Volume 51, Our Lady: 3a. 27-30
By Thomas Aquinas
https://books.google.com/books?id=4WfcEZj5wa0C&pg=PA15

4. Sanctification has a double aspect. One is the sanctification of the whole nature when the whole of human nature is freed from all fault
and punishment. This will take place in the resurrection—the other is personal sanctification. This is not transmitted to children by sexual
generation since it is a matter of the soul not the flesh.20 Thus even if the parents of the blessed Virgin were cleansed from original sin, the blessed Virgin contracted it since she was conceived in sexual desire and the joining of husband and wife. Augustine says, All flesh born of intercourse is of sin. '21 p. 15

3- Furthermore, John of Damascus says that the Holy Spirit came upon the blessed Virgin, purifying her x before the conception of the Son of God. This must refer to the inflammation of sin since she never sinned, as Augustine says.5 Hence when she was sanctified in the womb she was not cleared of the inflammation of sin.- p. 15

(SA: the Augustine spot for "she never sinned" is *De natura et gratia, 36. PL 44, 267" and this seems to have some tension with the other Augustine quotes.

Song of Solomon 4:7 (AV) - scripture ref)
Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee.)

Reply: There are several opinions on this matter. Some7 say that in her sanctification in the womb the blessed Virgin was totally cleared of the inflammation. Others8 say that the inflammation making virtue difficult remained, but that inclining towards sin was removed. Others9 say that no inflammation remained that diminished the person regarding either the arduousncss of virtue or the case toward sin. What did remain was the diminishing of the nature so that it now was the cause of transmitting original sin to children. Others10 hold that in the first sanctification the inflammation remained in essence but was rendered harmless. Then, in the conception of the Son of God it was completely taken away. p. 17

... Now just as no one obtained physical immortality until after Christ had risen clothed in immortality, so it would seem wrong to say that in the case at hand his Virgin mother, or anyone else, was free from all inflammation of sin before Christ appeared in his sinless flesh. After all, the inflammation of sin is called the law of the flesh or of the members;13 p. 19

... 3. The Holy Spirit purified the blessed Virgin twice. The first was in preparation for the conception of Christ. She was not then cleared of the stain of sin or of the inflammation. She achieved rather a unity of purpose and was disengaged from many distracting things.16 Now even the angels are said to be purified even though there is no stain in diem, as Dionysius says.17 The Holy Spirit’s second purificaton of Mary was through the conception of Christ, for that was the work of the Holy Spirit. He cleared her completely of the inflammation then. p. 21

2. Also Augustine says on that text in Luke, A sword will pierce your own soul,1 that the blessed Virgin at the time of the death of Christ was stunned, as it were, into doubting.a But to doubt one’s faith is a sin. The blessed Virgin was not then kept from all sin.

3. Furthermore, on Matthew's text, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren are standing outside seeking thee,5 Chrysostom comments, It’s obvious that they did this out of vain glory* Or on John’s, They have no wine, he says that she wanted to do them a favour, and at the same time to make herself look good at her Son's expense. She thus perhaps succumbed to human weakness just as his brethren did when they said, Show yourself to the world He adds further on that she had not yet come to believe in him as she should* Sin is involved in all of this. The blessed Virgin then, was not kept from all sin.p. 21

ON THE OTHER hand Augustine says,

"When we are talking about sin I want absolutely—because of the honour due to Christ—to exclude the blessed Virgin from it. We know that she conceived and gave birth to him who had no sin. She received, therefore, abundance of grace to overcome sin in every way.9"

On p. 23 Aquinas gives his own view, quite different:

"We should therefore simply say that the blessed Virgin committed no actual sin, either mortal or venial. And what the Canticle says16 is fulfilled, You are wholly beautiful, my love, and without blemish."
 
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