Full Text for An Address on the Holy Theophanies (Text)

"An Address on the Holy Theophanies" By Hippolytus of Rome (pG 10:852-861) Translated by William C. Weinrich 1. All things are good. But especially good are the created things of our God and Savior: whatever the age sees, whatever the soul considers, whatever reason explains, whatever the hand touches, whatever the understanding comprehends. Indeed, whatever humanity possesses. For what is more multiform than the beauty of the heavenly expanse? What is more bedecked with flowers than the form of the earth? What is more dazzling in its course than the chariot of the sun? What carriage is more beautiful than the heavenly orb of the moon? What work is more marvelous than the music richly emitted by the stars? What is more serviceable for travel than the friendly winds? What mirror is clearer than the light of the day? What living thing is worthy of more labor than man? Therefore all things are good, especially the things created by our God and Savior. But what gift (xapwfla) is more necessary than the nature of water? For everything is washed and nourished, cleansed and irrigated by water. Water supports the ground; water brings for the dew; it gladdens the vine. Water brings the ear of com to fruition. Water ripens the cluster of grapes. Water makes the olive tender. Water makes the date sweet. Water makes the rose red and dyes the violet with bright color. Water provides the lily with bright buds. Why should I go on? Without the nature of water no existing thing would be sustained. Thus the nature of water is necessary, for while other elements received their place underneath the vaulted heavens, the nature of water received its lodging above the heavens. And of this the prophet himself is witness: "Praise the Lord, 0 heavens of heavens and 0 water above the heavens" (ps 148:2). 2. Not only does this present the trustworthiness of water, but also that it is more venerable than all things. For Christ, the creator of all things, came down as the rain, was made known as a well-spring, was spread abroad as a river, and was baptized in the Jordan. You have heard just now how Jesus went to John and was baptized by him in the Jordan. 0, what wondrous events! How is it that the inftnite River which makes glad the city of God was bathed in so little water? 1 The incomprehensible Source who gives life to all people and who has no end was covered by simple and transient water. He who is present everywhere and is absent nowhere, who is incomprehensible to the angels and invisible to men, comes to baptism so that he was pleasing. Hearing these things, beloved, do not understand those things spoken in a natural way (q,UO'L KWS) but receive these things presented according to the economy (otKovO~LKWS). Therefore in the benevolence of his condescension the Lord was not unrecognized by the nature of water, which he had created in secret. "For the waters saw him, and they were frightened." They were amazed not a little and retreated from their banks. Therefore the prophet, having seen this a long time ago, inquired [of the waters] and said, "What is the matter, 0 seas, that you flee, and you, 0 Jordan, that you turned back?" (ps 114:5). They answered and said, "We saw the creator of all things in the form of a slave, and not recognizing the mystery of the economy, we were moved from fear." 3. But now knowing the economy, we worship his mercy, for he came to save and not to judge the world. Wherefore John, the forerunner of the Lord, not knowing this mystery but then learning that he was truly the Lord, cried out and said, "You brood of vipers, why do you gaze so intently upon me? I am not the Christ. I am a servant and not a master. I am a common person, not a king. I am a sheep, not a shepherd. I am a man, not God. When I was born, I undid the barrenness of my mother. I did not make virginity barren. I was born from below; I did not come down from above. I lacked my paternal language; I did not proclaim the divine grace. I was announced by my mother; I was not declared by a star. I am worthless and the least. But he who comes after me is before me, after me in regard to time, before me in regard to the unapproachable and unspeakable light of divinity. He who is stronger than I is coming. His shoes I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fue. I am under authority (lJiTE~OuaLoS'), but he is his own authority (avTE~ouaLOS'). I am subject to sins, but he is 2 the one who remits sins. I kindle the Law, but he brings grace to light. As a slave I instruct, but as Lord he judges. I have the ground as a bed, but he has the heavens. I baptize with the baptism of repentance, but he gives the grace of sonship. He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. Why do you come out to me? I am not the Christ." 4. While John was saying these things to the crowd and the people were anxiously expecting to see some sight strange to human eyes and the devil was amazed at the witness of John, behold, the Lord appeared simple, alone, naked, unprotected, having the human body as a garment, but hid;ng the dignity of deity so that he would not be noticed by the deceit of the dragon. And not only as Lord did he come to John apart from any royal bodyguard. Also as a humble man bound by sins did he bend his head to be baptized by John. Therefore, John, seeing such humility and astonished at the fact, began to prevent him saying, "I have need to be baptized by you, and you come to me? What are you doing, 0 Master? You demand what is unlawfuL I have announced one thing,and you seek another thing. The devil hears one thing, but he sees something else. Baptize me with the fire of divinity. Why do you wait for water? Enlighten me with the Spirit. Why do you wait for a creature? Baptize me who is the baptizer that you pre-eminence might be revealed. I, 0 Lord, baptize with the baptism of repentance, and I cannot baptize those who come to me unless they confess their sins. Command that I baptize you. But what [sins] do you have to confess? You are free of sins and you wish to be baptized with the baptism of repentance? Even if I shall dare to baptize you, the Jordan itself does not dare to come near. I have need to be baptized by you, and you come to me! .., .J 5. And what did Jesus say to him? "Let it be so now, for so it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness. Let it be so now, John; you are not wiser than 1. You understand as a man, but I foreknow as God. It is first necessary that I do and then teach accordingly. I seek nothing improper, for I am enclothed with propriety. Do you marvel, 0 John, that I did not come with my rank? Royal purple is not suitable for a private indi vidual, but a soldier's form is proper for a king. I have come against a tyrant and not against a friend-haven't 17 Let it be so now, for so is it fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness. I am the one who fulfills the Law, and I wish nothing to remain undone for total fulfillment, in order that Paul may say after me, 'Christ is the fulfillment of the Law for righteousness to everyone who believes' O. Let it be so now, for so is it fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness. Baptize me, J obn, so that no one might despise baptism. I am baptized by you, a slave, lest king or person of prominence contemptuously refuse to be baptized by a poor priest. Allow me to enter into the Jordan so that they may hear the Father's witness and recognize the power of the Son. Let it be so now, for so is it fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then finally John permitted him. "And when Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened and the Spirit of God descended in the form of a dove, and remained on him. And there was a voice from heaven, saying, 'This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased'" (Mt3:16-17). 6. Do you see, beloved, how many and how great are the blessings which we were going to lose if the Lord had yielded to the counsel of John and had declined baptism? Before this the heavens were locked and the region above was inaccessible. We would go down to the regions below and would not again attain to the regions above. But was the 4 Master baptized only? In addition he renewed the old man and entrusted to him again the scepter of the adoption of sons. For immediately "the heavens were opened to him." There was a reconciliation of things visible with things invisible. The army of heavenly angels was made joyful. Earthly diseases were healed. Things ineffable were made known. Things bound by enmity were made friends. For you have heard the evangelist say, "The heavens were opened to him." And this for the sake of three wonders. For since Christ the Bridegroom was being baptized, it was necessary to open the radiant portals of the heavenly bridal chamber. Similarly, since the Holy Spirit was descending in the form of a dove and the paternal voice had gone everywhere, it was necessary that the heavenly gates be lifted up. And behold, the heavens were opened to him and there was a voice, saying, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased." 7. The Beloved begets love, and immaterial light begets unapproachable light. "This is my beloved Son." He who appeared below yet without being separated from the Father's bosom, he was manifested (ETTEcpcivT]); he did not appear (EcpcivT]). For to "appear" (cpavfjvm) is something else, since in respect to appearance (TTP0S' TO ¢aWOIJ.EVov) the one baptizing was superior to the one being baptized. For that reason the Father sent the Holy Spirit down from heaven upon the one being baptized. For as the philanthropy of God was revealed in the ark of Noah through a dove, so now the Spirit coming down in the form of a dove as the one who bears the fruit of the olive alights upon the one of whom witness is given. For what purpose? In order that the surety of the Father's voice might be known and that the prophetic foretelling through many ages might be believed. What sort of [prophecy] was this? "The voice of the Lord is upon the waters; the God of glory, the Lord, thundered upon the waters" (ps 29:3). What voice? 5 "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased." This is he who is named the son of Joseph, but he is Only-begotten according to the divine nature. 'This is my beloved Son,' who hungers yet feeds thousands, who toils yet gives rest to the laborer, who has nowhere to lay his head yet bears all in his hand, who suffers yet heals sufferings, who is struck in the face yet gives freedom to the world, who is stabbed in the side yet makes right the side of Adam. 8. But, I beseech you, earnestly consider with me. For I desire to run to the fountain oflife and to see the well-spring ofhealings gushing forth. The Father ofi.mriJ.ortality sent his immortal Son and Word into the world, who becoming a man to be washed by water and the Spirit implanted in us the Spirit of life, begetting anew for the incorruptibility of soul and body and clothing us around with the full armor of incorruptibility. If therefore man has become immortal, he shall also be God (E