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Genesis 1-3: Augustine and Origen on the coats of skins

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[This article sheds new light on a crucial moment in the emerging Christological controversy. Among the key developments that occurred between 360 and the early 380s, the Christological debate between Apollinarius of Laodicea and Diodore of Tarsus made a significant, though largely misunderstood, impact on the Christological works of Gregory of Nazianzus. The article first characterizes the main Christological concerns of Apollinarius and Diodore and identifies the points of contention between them. It then gives a new interpretation of Gregory’s relationship to this debate. It argues, finally, that Gregory Nazianzen defines his Christology chiefly in opposition to Diodore, rather than to Apollinarius, as is commonly believed, even as he opposes them both in the end., Abstract This paper explores Origen’s and Augustine’s interpretations of Gen. 3,21, which regards the coats of skins that God gave to Adam and Eve after they had sinned. I propose the notion of man’s “state of intermediateness” as a basis for examining both authors’ understanding of the skin tunics, and for revealing the similarities and distinctive dissimilarities in their interpretations. I also investigate how Origen’s and Augustine’s different readings of the two accounts of man’s creation, in Gen. 1,27 and Gen. 2,7, can be connected with their understanding of Gen. 3,21. I conclude by showing how despite some striking similarities that link Augustine’s interpretation of the skin coats to Origen’s view, and even despite the fact that Augustine reiterates an already-established symbolism, his exegesis of the skin tunics still bears a particular relevance and originality.]

Affiliations: 1: Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, University of Piteşti Str. Târgu din Vale 1, 110040 Piteşti Romania


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