24 Feb 2013 
#56 Does "likeness of sinful flesh" in Romans 8:3 and "likeness of men" in Philippians 2:7 imply a docetist incarnation?

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Ro 8:3 "For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:"

Php 2:7 "But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:"

The word "likeness" (Greek homoiōma) is used in Ro 8:3 & Php 2:7, likely to indicate that "human flesh" or "man" is not the normal condition for the Son, which is "heavenly". And "in the likeness of sinful flesh" or "in the likeness of men" is meant to imply just that.

Ancient writers used "likeness" when a god becomes human on earth, either in a docetist (instant) way or through childbirth.
Here are two examples for god to "born of woman" incarnation:

a) Herodotus, 'Histories', Book 7, Chapter 56 "When Xerxes had passed over to Europe, he viewed his army crossing under the lash. Seven days and seven nights it was in crossing, with no pause. It is said that when Xerxes [the Persian king] had now crossed the Hellespont, a man of the Hellespont cried, "O Zeus, why have you taken the likeness of a Persian man and changed your name to Xerxes, leading the whole world with you to remove Hellas from its place? You could have done that without these means."

Certainly Herodotus and any other person would know Xerxes was a man "in sinful flesh". Furthermore, the comment is not prompted by the nature of the Persian king's body, but because of the enormous size of his army. Anyway, it shows that "likeness" can be used for an incarnation from a god to a "born of woman" human being.

b) 'The Ascension of Isaiah' 4:2 "After it is consummated, Beliar the great ruler, the king of this world, will descend, who hath ruled it since it came into being; yea, he will descent from his firmament in the likeness of a man, a lawless king, the slayer of his mother: ..."

This relates to emperor Nero, who had his mother Agrippina killed. Once again, the author used "likeness" about the alleged incarnation of a heavenly deity to a real man.

Cordially, Bernard

Tags: {docetism} {likeness} {Paul}
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