El concepto de ΣΩΤΗΡΙΑ en el «De Incarnatione Verbi» de San Atanasio

 -Pio Gonzalo Alves de Sousa

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The concept of salvation, although it does not constitute the nucleus of the doctrinal works of Athanasius, is the direct result of the application of the fruits of the long and bitter battle lived by the saint.

The study of the theme has been centered on the analysis of the contents of the word OWTNPÍA and other terms of the same root employed by the author in his work "De Incarnatione Verbi". Because of these very specific interests the study cannot be considered as absolutely representative of the global thought of Athanasius in this matter.

Relative to the analysis of the distinct texts, the author has carefully sifted through the thinking which underlies those affirmations, while at the same time bearing in mind the rich content of the word OWTNPÍA.

There exists an intimate link between the incarnation, the creation and the OWTNPÍA: Creation is the work of the Father Sià Aóyou, the OWTNPÍA is carried out ÈV auTw (Aóy~); the Word is ZWTNP. On the other hand the ávcxKa[vlol<;. which presupposes the OWTNPÍA and which is derived from it, performs the ÚttO TOU Aóyou.

Salvation is initiated through the simple presence of Christ among men. The cross, on which the Word is offered as ávrh¡uxoç for the salvation of all men, is nothing more than the link in the chain which is the whole life of Christ. Although the author habitually fixes his gaze, directly on men, in the background in Christ, presented as the way lor leading all things back to the Father.

Man appears as especially in need of redemption. Universal regeneration must begin with him. And it is precisely here where the author reveals the specific manner of the redemption.

Concentrating later on the fruits of the redemption derived from the death of Christ, the author speaks of the AúTpwalç and of the OWTNPÍA. The first appears rather to correspond to a state common to all of creation. The OWTNPÍA directly applied to man, would add in turn, a new content even more profound. The content of OWTNPÍA seems to become even more specific through the use of the substantive twn. In this sense, the OWTNPÍA would include not only the idea of liberation from sin, but also the gift of stable health; and much more, participation in the very life of Christ.

Salvation continues to be a fully present day reality. Beginning with the fundamental fact of the incarnation, on through his death and resurrection, Christ continues his task of saving mankind. This perennial action of the Word is looked upon as a gradual advance of his influence which pushes death before it.


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