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Adam’s sacrament

Adam’s sacrament December 29, 2011

Thomas ( ST II-II, 2, 7) argues that every saved person, including Adam, had explicit knowledge of the incarnation of Christ: “the object of faith includes, properly and directly, that thing through which man obtains beatitude. Now the mystery of Christ’s Incarnation and Passion is the way by which men obtain beatitude . . . . Therefore belief of some kind in the mystery of Christ’s Incarnation was necessary at all times and for all persons.”

Yet the content and shape of the belief in the Incarnation differed according to differences of times and persons.” Prior to his sin, Adam “believed explicitly in Christ’s Incarnation,” but only in a specific respect: “in so far as it was intended for the consummation of glory, but not as it was intended to deliver man from sin by the Passion and Resurrection.” For Thomas, then, not only was Adam destined to be consummated with a glory that he did not yet possess, but this hope for glory required “Christ’s Incarnation.”

How could Adam have known this? Thomas points to Paul’s quotation from Genesis 2:24 in Ephesians 5:32, and particularly to Paul’s comment that “this is a great sacramentum . . . in Christ and the church.” Thomas comments, “it is incredible that the first man was ignorant about this sacrament.”


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