Sacred-Texts Christianity Index Previous Next
OF THE ASCENSION OF OUR LORD TO HEAVEN.
AFTER our Redeemer had risen from the grave, and had gone about in the world forty days, He appeared to His disciples ten times, and ate and drank with them by the side of the Sea of Tiberias. At this point the heathen say to us, that if our Lord really ate and drank after His resurrection, there will certainly be eating and drinking after (our) resurrection; but if He did not really eat and drink, then all the actions of Christ are mere phantasms. To these we make answer, that this world is a world of need for food; therefore He ate and drank, that it might not be thought He was a phantom; and because many who have risen from the dead have eaten and drunk in (this) world until they departed and died, as, for example, the dead (child) whom Elisha raised, and the dead whom our Lord raised. Our Lord did not eat after His resurrection because He needed food, but only to make certain His humanity: for, behold8, He once remained in the desert forty days p. 101 without food, and was not injured by hunger. Some say that after His resurrection our Lord ate food like unto that which the angels ate in the house of Abraham, and that the food was dissipated and consumed by the Divine Power, just as fire licks up oil without any of it entering into its substance. Our Lord remained upon the earth forty days, even as He had fasted forty days, and as Elijah fasted forty days, and as Moses fasted forty days at two several times, and as the rain continued for forty days during the flood, and as God admonished the Ninevites for forty days, and as the spies remained (absent) for forty days, and as the children of Israel wandered about in the wilderness for forty years, and like the child whose fashioning in the womb is completed in forty days. After forty days, our Lord took up His disciples to the Mount of Olives, and laid His hand upon them, and blessed them, and commanded them concerning the preaching and teaching of the nations. And it came to pass that while He was blessing them, He was separated from them, and went up to heaven; and they worshipped Him. And there appeared to them angels, encouraging them and saying, 'This Jesus, who has been taken up from you to heaven, is about to come again even as ye have seen Him go up to heaven.' Then they returned to that upper chamber where they were, and stayed there ten days, until they received the Holy Spirit in the form of tongues of fire. Simon Peter said to his fellow-disciples, 'It is right for us to put some one in the place of Judas to complete the number of twelve;' and they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles1.
As concerning the manner in which our Lord entered heaven without cleaving it, some say that He went in as He did through the closed doors; and as He came forth from the virgin womb, and Mary's virginity returned to its former state; and like the sweat from the body; and as water is taken up by the roots of the olive and other trees, and reaches in the twinkling of an eye the leaves, flowers and fruits, as if through certain ducts, without holes or channels being pierced in them. Thus by an infinite and ineffable miracle our Lord entered into heaven without cleaving it. And if the bodies of us who are accustomed p. 102 to drink water and wine pour out sweat without our flesh being rent or our skin pierced, how very much easier is it for the Divine Power to go in through closed doors and within the firmament of heaven without rending or cleaving it?
1As regards the upper chamber in which our Lord held His Passover, some say that it belonged to Lazarus, and others to Simon the Cyrenian, and others to Joseph the senator; but Joshua the son of Nun, the Catholicus2, says that it belonged to Nicodemus. The apostles remained in the upper chamber ten days after the Ascension, being constant in fasting and prayer, and expecting the Spirit, the Comforter, which our Lord Jesus Christ promised them.
7 In the Oxford MS. see fol. 177 b.
8 In the Oxford MS. there follows here a long discussion on the divine and human natures of Christ, in the middle of which (fol. 178 b) is a Syriac passage in which the names of Athanasius and Gregory are mentioned. The view there maintained is that Christ is God and man in the unity of one Person.
1 A new chapter begins here in the Oxford MS., fol. 180 a.
1 A new chapter begins here in the Oxford MS., fol. 180 b.
2 See Assemânî, Bibl. Orient., t. iii, pt. i, p. 165.