Athanasius on penal substitution

Discussion in 'Church History' started by DTK, Aug 7, 2018.

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  1. DTK

    DTK Puritan Board Junior

    I'm posting this quote because I have rarely seen this citation by Athanasius on the penal substitutionary nature of the atonement listed in connection with this subject. What makes this citation (and its translation) most interesting is that it is from an Eastern Orthodox publication.

    Athanasius (297-373): And Psalm 22, speaking in the Saviour's own person, describes the manner of His death. Thou has brought me into the dust of death, for many dogs have compassed me, the assembly of the wicked have laid siege to me. They peirced my hands and my feet, they numbered all my bones, they gazed and stared at me, they parted my garments among them and cast lots for my vesture. They pierced my hands and my feet- what else can that mean except the cross? and Psalms 22 and 69, again speaking in the Lord's own person, tell us further that He suffered these things, not for His own sake but for ours. Thou has made Thy wrath to rest upon me, says the one; and the other adds, I paid them things I never took. For He did not die as being Himself liable to death: He suffered for us, and bore in Himself the wrath that was the penalty of our transgression, even as Isaiah says, Himself bore our weaknesses. [Mt 8:17] So in Psalm 138 we say, The Lord will make requital for me; and in the 72nd the Spirit says, He shall save the children of the poor and bring the slanderer low, for from the hand of the mighty He has set the poor man free, the needy man whom there was none to help. Athanasius, On the Incarnation, trans. and ed. A Religious of C.S.M.V. (Crestwood: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1996), to which is appended a Letter of St. Athanasius to Marcellinus on the Interpretation of the Psalms, pp. 100-101; Cf. also the translation provided in Athanasius, The Life of Anthony and The Letter to Marcellinus, trans. Robert C. Gregg (New York: Paulist Press, 1980), p. 105.
    Greek text: ἐν δὲ τῷ εἰκοστῷ καὶ πρώτῳ τὴν ποιότητα τοῦ θανάτου ἐκ προσώπου τοῦ Σωτῆρός φησιν· Εἰς χοῦν θανάτου κατήγαγές με· ὅτι ἐκύκλωσάν με κύνες πολλοὶ, συναγωγὴ πονηρευομένων περιέσχον με. Ὤρυξαν χεῖράς μου καὶ πόδας μου, ἐξηρίθμησαν πάντα τὰ ὀστᾶ μου. Αὐτοὶ δὲ κατενόησαν, καὶ ἐπεῖδόν με· διεμερίσαντο τὰ ἱμάτιά μου ἑαυτοῖς, καὶ ἐπὶ τὸν ἱματισμόν μου ἔβαλον κλῆρον. Τὸ δὲ τὰς χεῖρας καὶ τοὺς πόδας ὀρύττεσθαι, τί ἕτερον ἢ σταυρὸν λέγων σημαίνει; Πάντα ταῦτα διδάσκουσα προστίθησιν, ὅτι μὴ δι' ἑαυτὸν, διʼ ἡμᾶς δὲ ταῦτα πάσχει ὁ Κύριος. Καί φησιν ἐκ προσώπου πάλιν αὐτοῦ ἐν μὲν τῷ πζʹ· Ἐπʼ ἐμὲ ἐπεστηρίχθη ὁ θυμός σου· ἐν δὲ τῷ ἑξηκοστῷ ὀγδόῳ· Ἃ οὐχ ἥρπασα, τότε ἀπετίννυον. Οὐ γὰρ ὑπεύθυνος ὢν ἀπέθνησκεν, ἀλλʼ ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν ἔπασχε, καὶ τὸν καθʼ ἡμῶν θυμὸν διὰ τὴν παράβασιν ἐφʼ ἑαυτὸν ἐβάσταζε, λέγοντα διὰ τοῦ Ἡσαΐου· Αὐτὸς τὰς ἀσθενείας ἡμῶν ἔλαβε· καὶ λεγόντων μὲν ἡμῶν ἐν τῷ ἑκατοστῷ τριακοστῷ ἑβδόμῳ ψαλμῷ· Κύριος ἀντ αποδώσει ὑπὲρ ἐμοῦ· λέγοντος δὲ καὶ τοῦ Πνεύματος ἐν ἑβδομηκοστῷ πρώτῳ· Καὶ σώσει τοὺς υἱοὺς τῶν πενήτων, καὶ ταπεινώσει συκοφάντην, ὅτι ἐῤῥύσατο, πτωχὸν ἐκ χειρὸς δυνάστου, καὶ πένητα, ᾧ οὐχ ὑπῆρχε βοηθός. Epistola ad Marcellinum de interpretatione Psalmorum, §7, PG 27:16-17.
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