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THE LOVE OF GOD THE PRIMARY REASON FOR THE INCARNATION ACCORDING TO ISAAC OF NINEVEH ^a SAAC OF Nineveh was bishop of Nineveh about the *l middle of the seventh century. He resigned his office after five months to become an anchorite since he was not interested in administering temporal affairs. Later he lived in the convent of Rabban Schabour where he lost his sight because of excessive study of the Scriptures and abstinence . He died about 680. Isaac wrote in Syriac. He is known chiefly for an asceticomystical work titled, De vita spirituali et de mysteriis divinis et iudiciis et tentatione. The work was very popular and widely read, as is evidenced by the many translations in Greek, Arabic, Ethiopian, Latin, Italian, German, English. It hardly betrays the fact that he was infected with the heresy of Nestorius. And so for practically one thousand years he was able to nourish souls to inner piety.2 Paulus Bedjan, P. C. M., had contemplated a three volume edition of all Isaac's works. But after completing the first volume he was disuaded from continuing by the fact that he had only one manuscript as a guide for the rest of the work. He did, however, add a few appendices to the first volume which had been intended for the other volumes. Among these there is one of special interest to us. It deals with the reason for the Incarnation. In it he explicitly rejects the view that redemption from sin was the reason for the Incarnation; he insists that the manifestation of God's love was the reason both for the Incarnation and for the redemption. The text was published for the first time in the Western world by I. Hau1 .This work was edited by Paulus Bedjan, P.CM., in Mar lsaacus Ninivita, De perfectione religiosa (Paris and Leipzig, 1909). The Latin translation is found in P.C., 86, 799-888, and in P.L., 44, 919-994. It was translated into English by A.J. ftensink, Mystic Treatises by Isaac of Nineve (Amsterdam, 1923). 2.Cf. I. Hausherr, S.J., "Un précurseur de la théorie scotiste sur la fin de l'Incarnation: Isaac de Ninive (VIIe siècle),* Recherches de science religieuse, 22 (1932) 316f. 146 DOMINIC J. UNGER, O.F.M. CAP.147 sherr, S.J., in 1932. 3 Father Hausherr made a literal Latin translation from the Syriac original. So that we might be able better to follow the sequence of thought, we shall give the English translation of the whole passage; this we shall follow with an outline and commentary. (A) If envy were useful for the direction of men, why did the Word God put on a body so that He might convert the world to His Father by means of meekness and humble virtue, and Lwhy] was He extended on the cross for sinners, and why did he hand over this body to suffering in behalf of the world? (B) I say in truth, God did this for no other reason than to manifest to the world the love that He had, so that by the love of us, which would appear greater because of this sentient perception, the world would be captivated toward loving Him, and thus the great power of the King who lives (est) by love, would find an occasion [to operate] through the death of His Son. (C) By no means did the death of the Lord take place that He might redeem us from sins, nor on account of anything else, but only that the world might experience the love that God had toward creation. (D) If all the wonderful operation had been only on account of the remission of sins, it would have sufficed for Him to redeem us in some other manner. Who would have opposed Him if He had done what He did [redeem us] by a simple death? He did not die a simple death, but experienced it in the hard suffering of the cross, that you might understand what kind of a mystery this is [namely, of love]. Besides, what necessity was there for the contumely and the spittle? Death would have...


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