Saturday, December 29, 2007

Orthodoxy & Literal Interpretation

Of Our Father Amongst The Saints

Maxim Martyr


Biblical Text.

Genesis 3:17 ¶And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; 18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; 19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

What is the ground that’s cursed by God for the sake of Adam’s deeds, and what does it mean for man to eat of it in sorrows? What does it mean, then, for it to bring forth to man thorns and thistles, and for man to eat the herb of the field? What does it mean for man to eat bread in the sweat of his face? For at no time has anyone seen a man to eat either earth, or grass, or brambles; nor do they who eat bread consume it together with the sweat of their faces, as that story tells us.

The ground that’s cursed for the sake of Adam’s deeds is his body, that’s endlessly being cursed by his actions, that is, by the passions of his earth-bound mind, and by the unfruitfulness of his virtues, which are the works of God. Of his own body is man then being fed with the pains and many sorrows which it brings forth, rejoicing only in the little pleasure that it has to offer. From his own body spring forth to man then, aside from its rotten pleasures, the worries and thoughts as thorns, and the great temptations, dangers and perils as brambles and thistles. And these then, in their turn, sting him from all sides, -through reason, desire, and anger-, so that he may barely be able to procure for, and eat of the bread that is for the maintenance of his health and welfare of his body, which becomes like unto a grass that fades away and withers. But even this is done through a lengthy repeating of pains “in the sweat of his face”, that is, through the tiredness and enslavement of the senses, which are then being compelled to eagerly explore the sensible things. And the toil to sustain his life here, either by a certain skill, or by any other such clever method, is to man then as bread.

No comments: