Anastasis (Descensus ad Inferos)
Chora Monastery, Constantinople




General Reflections on the Terms



1) THE title healer or physician (ἰατρός / iatros.) is widely-used of Christ and Christian ministers in the early Church.  In the scriptures the emphasis is on Jesus' ministry of healing, rather than this title: his miracles of healing reveal that he is not only Messiah, but also the God of infinite compassion whose presence, actions, and words have power to heal and restore everything that is broken and separated.

2) THE transfiguration (μεταμορφωσις / metamorphōsis) of Jesus becomes an central icon (both literally and figuratively) in the Christian spiritual tradition, both as a theophany (manifestation of Christ’s divine nature) and a way of speaking about the “light” experienced by some contemplatives during prayer.  We will consider the biblical significance of this concept, together with that renewal (ἀνακαίνωσις / anakainōsis) of our nature and the restoration (ἀποκατάστασις / apokatastasis) of fallen creation which the transfiguration foreshadows.

SOURCES: (1) Kittel, The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, (Eerdmans, 2000, c1964).
 2 ) H.G.Liddell, R. Scott. A Greek-English Lexicon. rev. H.S.Jones & R.McKenzie, (Oxford, 1940). (3) Luke Dysinger, O.S.B., Psalmody and Prayer in the Writings of Evagrius Ponticus, (Oxford, 2003).



ἰατρός / iatros

Christ Heals Malchus
Belles Heures,
The Duke of Berry, 1470







1.1.1 IN Greek religion the concept of healing is very broad. The gods are doctors and saviors both in a cosmic and universal sense and also in an inward sense. The typically Greek thought form of analogy leads here to a particular conception of divine rule in the world. The gods become mediators between Zeus and men, and as such they dispense healing. This is particularly true of Aesculapius, [venerated at numerous shrines of healing and medicine].

1.1.2 The god of Epidauros demands faith stringently [in order to heal]. Those who do not believe in his healing power (ἀπιστεῖν, No. 3) will be shamed and punished. To be given the name of unbeliever is only the beginning. A mocker will be lamed by his own “Bucephalus” and then generously healed again (No. 36). The god helps even unbelievers, but he demands of them a specially high reward (No. 4).

In the case of Aesculapius the emphasis fails primarily on the credibility of the miracle stories and of the power of the god. To doubt this is a punishable offence. The disposition of the god is generally benevolent, but not without an element of caprice. It is in keeping that faith is closely linked with courage. When the god has broken the staff of a lame man, he is required in a dream to climb the temple on a ladder. If he is afraid, the god scolds him and then laughs at him (No. 35) until he does it, and the work of healing is complete. In other cases the pool in which they are to bathe is too cold. Aesculapius tells them that he will not heal the timid but only those who come to him in his sanctuary in good hope that he will not harm them, but send them away cured (No. 37).





1.2.1. Yahweh is in general the One who heals by withdrawing His judgment in the form of sickness or of personal or national calamity (Gn. 20:17; Ex. 15:26; Hos. 6:1; 7:1; 11:3, and frequently in the psalms). ἰάομαι/iaomai and its alternatives are common in the figurative sense in Jer.: 3:22; 17:14; 37(30):17 etc. Cf. also Is. 7:4 and Zech. 10:2. In the latter verse the Septuagint introduces, without any basis in the Mas. the formula there was no healing  (οὐκ ἦν ἴασις), which is found elsewhere (e.g., Jer. 14:19; Prv. 29:1), mostly in a figurative sense. An indispensable prerequisite of healing is the remission of sins, which for its part is dependent on repentance and conversion. Hence healing and remission are closely linked (Is. 6:10; Ps. 6:2; 29:2; 40:4 102:3).

1.2.2. ἰᾶσθαι can even be a technical term for God’s gracious turning to save. Behind this is the idea of binding up a wound; hence the combination of ἰᾶσθαι/iasthai with συντετριμμένος at Ps. 146:3; Is. 61:1, or with σύντριμμα at Ps. 59:2. What is at issue here is not so much the removal of intellectual, or even, in the first instance, moral deficiencies. This is partly a presupposition and partly a consequence. The crucial thing is the restoration of fellowship with God, with all the comfort which flows from this and all the help that derives from it. At Sir. 28:3 ἴασις/iasis can even mean forgiveness. ἰᾶσθαι/iasthai in the sense of “to forgive” is also found at Dt. 30:3

1.2.3. To the work of the Servant of God belongs also vicarious suffering in expiation of the sins of his people. Though at first unbelieving, those who look on make the paradoxical confession: By his stripes we are healed (ἰάθημεν/iasthēmen). (Is. 53:5) In this pregnant saying OT religion transcends itself and reaches its climax






1.3.1.  ALTHOUGH Jesus recognises the connection between sickness and sin (Mk. 2:5 par.; Jn. 5:14), He breaks through the rigid dogma of retribution and thus sets sickness in a completely new light (Jn. 9:3 f.; 11:4; cf. Lk. 13:1 ff.). Its sharpest sting is thus removed. Paul, then, can group it with all other sufferings (R. 8:28; 2 C. 4:17). The apostle maintains this view even under the severe burden of personal sickness (2 C. 12:7 ff.).

1.3.2. Hardly another image impressed itself so deeply on early Christian tradition as that of Jesus as the great Physician. All the Gospels use healing of the work of Jesus, especially Luke (5:17; 6:19; Ac. 10:38 etc.). ἴασις/iasis is used literally at Lk. 13:32. Jesus Himself uses the self-designation “physician” on quite a few occasions. In its profoundest sense this must be understood, within the framework of oriental symbolism, as a reference to the time of salvation.

1.3.3. There are no magic formulae in the Gospels. The most common means of healing is Jesus’ word of power, His command (Mk. 1:25, 27, 41 par.; Mt. 8:9 par., 13; Mk. 2:10 f. par.; 5:41; 7:34 etc.). A pre-condition and consequence of miracle is faith. Jesus annexes the greatest promises to faith, particularly to that of one who performs miracles (Mk. 11:23 par.). He Himself has a faith which moves mountains. But He will not use it to provide spectacles. He constantly repudiates such tempting of God (Mt. 4:5 ff.; 12:38 ff.; 16:1 ff. par.). Nevertheless, He demands faith of those who would receive the blessing of the miracle (Mk. 5:36 par.; Mt. 15:28; Mt. 8:10; Mk. 6:5 par. etc.; both are linked in Mk. 9:23 f.).

For Jesus, faith implies courage. Cowardice and unbelief belong together (Mt. 8:26 ). But [unlike the stories of healing in pagan medical shrines] there is no humorous appeal to one’s own power. A deep seriousness forms the background. Faith includes the conviction of the power of God and of Jesus. But it is also a personal relationship of trust. Trust in the merciful love of God, humble surrender, obedience and self-giving are inseparable from it. This is particularly plain in Mt. 8:5 ff. Aesculapius demands strict belief in the miracle. Jesus does not (Jn. 4:48). Under severe temptation He Himself maintains His faith even where the miraculous help of God is not displayed (Mt. 26:36 ff. par., 52ff.). Similarly, He acknowledges particularly the faith which maintains itself victoriously in spite of all opposition (Mt. 15:21 ff. par.; cf. Jn. 20:29). Faith is thus a decisive condition of fellowship with God. It receives, not merely healing of the body, but full health or salvation for the whole personality (Mk. 5:34 par.; Mk. 10:52; Lk. 7:50; 17:19).

1.3.4. Jesus cares for the soul as well as the body. In general, non-Christian miracles are performed for their own sake. The Gospel miracles, however, have a material point outside the miracle itself. This is usually pastoral. The miracles are set in the context of a dispute, e.g., concerning the Sabbath (Mt. 12:9 ff. par.; Lk. 13:10 ff.), or the remission of sins (Mt. 9:1 ff.). They issue in a significant saying of the Lord (Mt. 8:4, 10 ff.; Lk. 17:17 ff. etc.). Or they make it evident that there has also been an inner change in the life of those who are healed (Mk. 10:52 par.; cf. Jn. 5:14). Normally, the healing is not the end. It provides the “impulse towards an eternal movement.”

1.3.5. The miracles of Jesus are signs, but they are not spectacles. […] The miracles of Jesus are simple and yet powerful signs that the prophecies of the age of salvation are beginning to be fulfilled (cf. Mt. 11:5 with Is. 35:5 f.; 61:1). The miracles are themselves partial victories of God’s rule. The host of demons flees. When Jesus extends help, the kingdom of God is achieved at a specific point, though completely so only when there is comprehension of the miracle in this sense. Each partial victory is a foretaste and guarantee of the final victory. As the Hero of God who perfects creation, Jesus invades the kingdom of Satan with power (Lk. 10:18; 11:21 ff. par.). He conquers, and nothing can resist Him. Even though He is put to death, the kingdom of God comes thereby.

1.3.6. The fact that Jesus transmits the power to heal to the disciples whom He sends out (Mk. 3:14 f.; 6:7 par.) does not mean that there is put at their disposal, for their own self-glorification, a natural gift inherent in their own persons. The intention of the Lord is rather to equip them to be effective witnesses of the imminent kingdom of God by word and act. The essential thing for the community is never healing alone. The acts of power (δύναμις/dynamis) are signs. If they confer benefits on individuals, in this very quality they awaken faith and further the progress of preaching (R. 15:18 f. [1 C. 2:4 f.; 1 Th. 1:5?]; 2 C. 12:12; also Ac. 2:43; 5:12; 6:8; 14:3; 15:12; with ἴασις/iasis 4:22, 30). Along the same lines missionary preaching appeals to the healing acts of Jesus (Ac. 2:22; 10:38). The gift of healing is an operation of the name of the exalted Christ (Ac. 3:16). To put the same thing in another way, it is an operation of the ascended Lord through the Spirit (Ac. 9:34; R. 15:18 f.). It does not belong to the essence of the Christian state. It is an individual gift of grace (1 C. 12:9, 28, 30). In particular, it is part of the endowment of the commissioned witness. It gives neither the prospect nor the privilege of claiming or enforcing help, so that, quite apart from cases where there is specific guilt (1 C. 11:30), the onset and persistence of illness cannot be ruled out even in the case of believers (Phil. 2:26; 2 Tm. 4:20; 2 C. 12:8 ff.). Early Christianity may be conscious of its power to heal, but healing is still a theme of godly prayer (2 C. 12:8). In Jm. 5:13 ff. the intercession of the elders is commended as particularly efficacious. But intercession is not restricted to this narrower circle. It is strongly emphasised that the forgiveness of sins is a pre-condition of healing.

1.3.7. In the literature of the apostolic age the figurative use of the terms is restricted to OT quotations apart from the single instance at Hb. 12:13. Is. 6:10  is used in Ac. 28:27 as a warning of judgment against unreceptive Judaism. In 1 Pt. 2:24, Is. 53:5 is referred to the atoning work of Christ. In such passages healing ἰᾶσθαι/iasthai denotes the restoration of divine fellowship through the forgiveness of sins, and all the saving benefits which accompany it. In contrast, Hb. 12:13 is more generally ethical; that the lame man should not be turned out of the way, but should rather be healed—an exhortation to definitely Christian conduct.






1.4.1. By the end of the fourth century there existed a well-established tradition of illustrating Christian spiritual principles through analogies based on the theory and vocabulary of classical medicine. Writing in the first years of the second century Ignatius of Antioch drew an analogy between the Eucharist and the healing drugs of the physician: it is ‘the medicine of immortality, an antidote so that we may never die’. (Ephesians 20.2). Heresy, in contrast is ‘a deadly drug’ (qana/simon fa/rmakon). (Trallians 6.2).  He also describes heresy as a kind of illness, employing the medical adjective dusqerapeu/touj, ‘hard to cure’, to describe certain heretics. In elaborating this medical analogy he describes Christ as a physician, thereby creating a metaphor which enjoyed great popularity in subsequent centuries:

One physician there is, both fleshly and spiritual, begotten and unbegotten, God become flesh, true life in death, both from Mary and from God; first subject to suffering then not subject to suffering - Jesus Christ our Lord. (Ephesians 7.2)

1.4.2. The notion of a ‘spiritual physician’ which Ignatius here employs was common in classical antiquity. Plato writes of the importance of the philosopher becoming a ‘physician of souls’, capable of understanding the effect on the soul of different kinds of knowledge . (Protagoras, 313c4-313e5) Christian teachers like Clement of Alexandria identify this physician with Christ; other patristic authors such as Origen echo Plato’s hope that this skill will be exercised by many human beings.

1.4.3. In the Christian Alexandrian tradition the use of medical allegory, particularly the image of ‘Christ the physician’ became very popular. Clement of Alexandria describes salvation as analogous to medical healing: Christians must cooperate with God just as patients who wish to be healed must cooperate with their physician. (Stromateis 7.7.48, 4) Clement presents Christian spiritual development as a two-staged process. First we must be healed from the ‘wounds’ of the passions: ‘of these wounds Jesus is the sole physician.’ (Quis dives salvetur 29, 3) The Word of God is ‘the healer […] of those passions of the soul which are contrary to nature […] the sole sacred physician of human diseases and holy enchanter[-healer] of the soul’s illness’ (Paedagogus 1.2.6, 1)  This healing is accomplished ‘as if by soothing medications through [the Word’s] beneficent commandments’. Only after this healing is accomplished is it possible to make progress in spiritual knowledge. (Paedagogus 1.1.3, 1).




μεταμορφωσις / metamorphōsis
ἀνακαίνωσις / anakainōsis




 2COR. 3:12-18 (Our Transfiguration)




12 SINCE we have such a hope, we are very bold, 13 not like Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not see the end of the fading splendor. 14 But their minds were hardened; for to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away.  Ἔχοντες οὖν τοιαύτην ἐλπίδα πολλῇ παρρησίᾳ χρώμεθα͵ 13 καὶ οὐ καθάπερ Μωϋσῆς ἐτίθει κάλυμμα ἐπὶ τὸ πρόσωπον αὐτοῦ͵ πρὸς τὸ μὴ ἀτενίσαι τοὺς υἱοὺς Ἰσραὴλ εἰς τὸ τέλος τοῦ καταργουμένου. 14 ἀλλὰ ἐπω ρώθη τὰ νοήματα αὐτῶν. ἄχρι γὰρ τῆς σήμερον ἡμέρας τὸ αὐτὸ κάλυμμα ἐπὶ τῇ ἀναγνώσει τῆς παλαιᾶς δια θήκης μένει μὴ ἀνακαλυπτόμενον͵ ὅτι ἐν Χριστῷ κα ταργεῖται·
15 Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their minds; 16 but when a man turns to the Lord the veil is removed. 15 ἀλλ΄ ἕως σήμερον ἡνίκα ἂν ἀναγινώσκη ται Μωϋσῆς κάλυμμα ἐπὶ τὴν καρδίαν αὐτῶν κεῖται· 16 ἡνίκα δὲ ἐὰν ἐπιστρέψῃ πρὸς κύριον͵ περιαιρεῖται τὸ κάλυμμα.ῃ

17 NOW the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face,

 17 ὁ δὲ κύριος τὸ πνεῦμά ἐστιν· οὗ δὲ τὸ πνεῦμα κυρίου͵ ἐλευθερία. 18 ἡμεῖς δὲ πάντες ἀνακεκα λυμμένῳ προσώπῳ

beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed [transfigured] into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. τὴν δόξαν κυρίου κατοπτριζόμενοι τὴν αὐτὴν εἰκόνα μεταμορφούμεθα ἀπὸ δόξης εἰς δόξαν͵ καθάπερ ἀπὸ κυρίου πνεύματος.





 ROMANS 12:2 (Our Transfiguration)




2 DO not be conformed to this world but be transformed [transfigured] by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. καὶ μὴ συσχηματίζεσθε τῷ αἰῶνι τούτῳ, ἀλλὰ μεταμορφοῦσθε τῇ ἀνακαινώσει τοῦ νοὸς εἰς τὸ δοκιμάζειν ὑμᾶς τί τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ, τὸ ἀγαθὸν καὶ εὐάρεστον καὶ τέλειον





TRANSFORMATION, μεταμορφωσις / metamorphōsis

2.1.1. “To remodel,” “to change into another form,” μεταμορφοῦσθαι can be “to change into something different,” μετασχηματίζεσθαι “to become different. The belief that gods and spirits can transform themselves, and demonstrate this power on others, is widespread in religion (Ovid, Apuleius, Ps.-Luc.Asin. etc.). The dominant motif is that the gods, to draw near to men, change themselves into earthly and perceptible beings

2.1.2.In the Hellenistic. mystery religions transfiguration (μεταμόρφωσις, transfigutari, reformari) is a parallel idea to regeneration or deification. To be changed into a god-like being is the great goal which the initiate, moving from one stage to another, strives to reach by vision of the deity.

In Isis initiation the transformation involves the freeing of the body from the bonds of material nature; it is physical transfiguration (Apul.Met., XI, 29: illustrari; Corp. Herm., 13, 3 [I, 240, Scott]: cf. 4, 11b etc., cf. Zosimus [Berthelot, 108, 17 f.]). But it also carries with it a change in spiritual nature, (v. Sen. Ep., 6, 1 f.): In a passive form the same belief is also found in Hell. magic lit. The ability of the gods to transform themselves is highly lauded, and man can attain to the manner and power of deity by magical change into divine form, (e.g., Preis. Zaub., XIII, 270 ff):  Through union with the sacred form of the deity the magician is in possession of a god-like nature; (VII. 560 ff.): magic brings it about that the human soul reflects the immortal form of deity.

RENEWAL , ἀνακαίνωσις / anakainōsis

The basic word καινόω/kainoō corresponds to καινίζω/kainizō in the meanings “to make new,” “to produce something new,” “to renew,” Thuc., III, 82, 3, Dio C., 47, 4(3): “to dedicate,” Hdt. II, 100: Hence ἀνακαινόω/anakainoō “to renew,”






TRANSFORMATION, μεταμορφωσις / metamorphōsis

In apocalyptic and mysticism the thought of change applies to the transition of man from earthly to supraterrestrial appearance. In Jewish apocalyptic a miraculous change of form is one of the gifts of eschatological salvation which the blessed receive after the resurrection, S. Bar. 51:3: “The appearance of their faces will be transformed into radiant beauty,” : “They will be changed into the splendour of angels,” : “They will resemble angels, and be like the stars, and will be changed into the form they desire, from beauty to splendour, and from light to the radiance of glory,”: “Then will the glory of the righteous be greater than that of the angels.”






TRANSFORMATION, μεταμορφωσις / metamorphōsis

2.3.1. The story of the transfiguration of Jesus offers an example of perceptible change, Mk. 9:2 = Mt. 17:2: The miracle of transformation from an earthly form into a supraterrestrial, which is denoted by the radiance of the garments (also the countenance in Mt. and Lk.), has nothing whatever to do with metamorphosis in the Hellenistic sense but suggests the context of apocalyptic ideas (Rev. 1:14 f.; S. Bar. 30:4). What is promised to the righteous in the new age (cf. also 1 C. 15:51 f.) happens already to Jesus in this world, not as one among many others, but as the bearer of a unique call. Before the eyes of His most intimate disciples the human appearance of Jesus was for a moment changed into that of a heavenly being in the transfigured world. This is the anticipation and guarantee of an eschatological reality. Jesus is manifested to the disciples as the Son of Man of the hope of final salvation They are to realize that the goal of His way through suffering and death (Mk. 8:31) is the glory of the Consummator (Mk. 8:38 f. and par.).

2.3.2. In Paul the idea of transformation, in the two passages in which it occurs (2 Cor. 3:18; Rom. 12:2), refers to an invisible process in Christians which takes place, or begins to take place, already during their life in this age. In 2 Cor. 3:18 the apostle concludes his demonstration of the superiority of the new covenant, To Christians the Spirit has granted free vision of the heavenly glory of the Lord, Christ. In this vision they undergo an unceasing and progressive change into the image of the One whose glory they see. It is the Lord Himself, present and active by the Spirit, who brings about this change. Paul obviously shares formally the ideas of Hellenistic mysticism in respect of transformation by vision, transformation into the seen image of God, and transformation as a process which is progressively worked out in the righteous. Materially, however, he stands far removed from the piety of the mysteries. Man cannot bring about the change by his own activity; it is effected by Christ in Christians. There is no vision of God by oft-repeated ritual opus operatum; it is by the Spirit that Christians see the glory of Christ. The change into the likeness of Christ (cf. also Rom. 8:29) is a re-attainment of the divine likeness of man at creation, and it maintains the characteristically biblical distance between God and man. The initiate has no aristocratic claim to a special experience of God; all Christians participate in the miracle of transformation. Above all, what Paul means by transformation is not an autonomous, immanent, mystical event. It is a process by which the transcendent eschatological reality of salvation works determinatively in the earthly lives of Christians.

2.3.3. After the manner of apocalyptic, Paul declares the hope of the physical transformation of believers at the end of the days (1 C. 15:44 ff., 51 f.; Phil. 3:21). But he is also certain that the new age has already come with Christ. The Spirit, is already the possession of Christians. In virtue of the presence of the spirit, in whom the risen Lord is Himself present (v. 17f.), the transformation begins already, and from within, though not only inwardly, refashions after the likeness of the Lord, by giving them to share in the glory.  There is still tension, however, between the “already” and the “not yet”. In Rom. 12:2 the thought of transformation is changed from an indicative into an imperative and set in the sharp light of the doctrine of the two ages  “Do not conform yourselves to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of the consciousness.” Redeemed by Christ, Christians no longer stand in this age but in the coming age (Gal. 1:4). In conduct, then, they must not follow the forms of life in this age but the very different form of life in the coming age. But they cannot give themselves this form. They are changed into it on the basis of the renewing of their thinking and willing by the spirit. The paradoxical μεταμορφοῦσθε/metamorphousthe which echoes Jesus’ call for repentance (μετάνοια/metanoia), has in view the responsibility of Christians for the change becoming and remaining effective. Its concern is the new moral life in the Spirit as an obligation: “Become what you are.”

RENEWAL , ἀνακαίνωσις / anakainōsis

2.3.4.  The daily renewal of the inner man which Paul discusses in the light of the sufferings of the apostolic vocation at 2 Cor. 4:16 is for him a consoling compensation for the perishing of the outward man whose forces are dissipated in the tribulations of the earthly life of the apostle .He is expressing the glad certainty that each day he is renewed and strengthened as a Christian and lifted above all external pressures. That it is the Spirit of God who accomplishes this renewal is shown both by the express reference to the presence of the Spirit at 4:13 and 5:5 and also by Paul`s total conception of the Spirit. Col. 3:10 refers to moral renewal The new man is present and he is also in constant process of becoming (pres. part.) as he continually receives the new life which is given. This renewal of being is moral by nature. Its standard is the image of God manifested in Christ. The Christian is to become a new man as Christ is the new man.

2.3.5. Rom. 12:2: transformed [transfigured] by the renewal of your mind, refers to the renewal of thought and will which Christians constantly need if they are to show by their moral conduct that they belong to the new age and are members of the new humanity (cf. Col. 3:10). The subj. of this inward renewal, which affects the centre of personal life, is the Spirit of God (Rom. 8:9–13, cf. 1 Cor. 12:13) who dwells and works in the Christian. The saying in Tt. 3:5: refers to the unique and basic beginning which the Spirit makes in man at baptism. Without any human co-operation there arises in baptism the new creation (2 Cor. 5:17) by the miracle of renewal through the Holy Spirit, who created a life that was not there before.




3. R
ἀποκατάστασις /

 Christ Measures the Universe





3.1.1. The basic meaning is “restitution to an earlier state” or “restoration” (e.g., of a temple, Ditt. Syll., 695, 13 and 23; of a way, Ditt. Or., 483,). From this derive specialised uses: in medicine; in law (the returning of hostages to their own cities; in politics, the reconstitution of the political order; also more generally of personal betterment.

3.1.2. Also significant is the astronomical usage to describe the return of the constellations to their original position The shining again of the sun or moon after obscuration. Esp. ἀποκατάστασις/apokatastasis is a technical term for the restitution of the cosmic cycle, whether by the conjunction of Sirius and the sun after every 1461 years as in Egyptian chronology, or by the reattainment of the original relation between the points of the equinox and the zodiac in consequence of the so-called procession of the sun, which the Babylonian astronomer Idinnu had already worked out fairly accurately in 314 b.c. to involve the period of 25,800 years fixed by modern astronomy, or finally in connection with the variously calculated periods of the Phoenix. In Corp. Herm., VIII, 4 the maintenance of the order of the heavenly bodies  is attributed to ἀποκατάστασις/apokatastasis. A period of time of this kind was called the great year The characteristic feature of this view of time, often advanced with political and Messianic expectations, is the fact that it entails belief in endless recurrence. Everything is restored exactly as it was before (II, 190, 19 f., v. Arnim). Parsee belief seems to be the only exception with its hope that after the destruction of Ahriman there will be a new creation of all things (“transfiguration”). This stimulated Judaism to the development of its teleological eschatology

3.1.3. ἀποκατάστασις/apokatastasis is finally used of the individual soul, though rarely in the soteriological sense. Among the Neo-Platonists it seems to denote the new entry of not yet redeemed soul into the cycle of generations. Redemption in the Neo-Platonic sense is not so much the restoration of the soul as its release from matter. Yet the dissolution  of the material body is called in Corp. Herm., VIII, 4 the ἀποκατάστασις/apokatastasis of earthly beings and set in parallelism with the ἀποκατάστασις/apokatastasis of the heavenly bodies.






There developed a specific Messianic and ethical biblical usage. The verb ἀποκαθίστημι becomes a technical one for the restoration of Israel to its own land by Yahweh (Jer. 16:15:; 23:8; 24:6 (Jos. Ant., 11, 2); Hos. 11:11, cf. Jer. 15:19; Ez. 16:55; with dat. and acc. Ps. 15:5; Dan. 4:33). This was increasingly understood in a Messianic and eschatological sense. On the other hand, under prophetic influence it was more fully perceived that inner restitution is the condition and crown of the outer. The people must work for this (Am. 5:15). Yet from the time of Mal. 3:24 (4:5) the returning Elijah seems to have been expected as its true representative. There is a notable parallelism between the Heb. and the Greek terminology. Both go back to an ancient oriental doctrine of the dissolving aeons and the saving restoration of all things to their original condition as created. Offshoots of this mythical conception of the world may be traced right up to the Fourth Eclogue of Vergil and the Metamorphoses of Ovid.






3.3.1. The original politically Messianic sense of ἀποκαθιστάναι may be clearly seen in the question of the disciples to the risen Jesus in Ac. Will you restore ἀποκαθιστάνεις the Kingdom of Israel[?] The answer is worth noting, for, though it forbids inquisitive investigation of the times and seasons, it does not repudiate the expectation as such, but simply deprives it of political significance and refers it to the pneumatic sphere. We should also note that in all the other passages in the NT in which it occurs (Ac. 3:21), the concept of ἀποκαθιστάναι is not applied to the Messiah coming in power but to his forerunner, to John the preacher of repentance, in whom Jesus recognises the promised Elijah (Mk. 9:12 and par., cf. 6:15 and par.; 8:28 and par.; 1:2; Mt. 11:10, 14; Jn. 1:21). The all [πάντα/panta] in Mk. 9:12, which in itself is to be taken as comprehensively as possible in connection with the expectation depicted, is in fact restricted to the religious and ethical field,

3.3.2. Acts 3:20 f. should be translated as follows: “That times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah Jesus ordained for you, whom heaven must receive until the time of the restitution of all that of which (or, the establishment of all that which) God has previously spoken through his holy prophets.”

Fundamentally we thus have the concept of the new Messianic creation which was current in Judaism. On the very different question whether the NT teaches a final restoration of all fallen sinners, and even of Satan, to the harmony of all created things in God, no light is shed by this particular text. In general such an idea is just as remote from the NT world of thought as the Jewish. Indeed, the latter thinks that the blessedness of the just is heightened by seeing the torture of the rejected (Ass. Mos., 10, 10; 4 Esr. 7:93, though cf. S. Bar. 52:6). Punishment is often declared to be unalterable (S. Bar. 85:12ff.; Da. 12:2; Mt. 18:8; 25:41, 46; 2 Th. 1:9 and cf. Is. 66:24). The thought of destruction or the second death does not point in the opposite but in a similar direction (Eth. En., 97; Ps. Sol. 3:11; Rev. 20:14). Paul sometimes emphasizes so strongly the comprehensive saving work of the second Adam as to give rise to the appearance of a final restoration of all (Rev. 5:18; 11:32; 1 C. 15:22, cf. Eph. 1:10; Col. 1:20). Yet in truth the reference is only to a final hope, or perhaps only to a final tendency of the divine work of salvation. It is Paul who also emphasizes most strongly the election of grace (Rev. 8:29; 9:11, 17; Eph. 1:4, 11 etc.). He knows that judgment will have a twofold outcome (R. 2:7 ff.; 2 C. 5:10), and expects the actualization of the God will be All in All (ὁ θεὸς πάντα ἐν πᾶσιν) by means of the powerful overthrow of all opposition (1 C. 15:25 ff.). Thus there remains a strong tension throughout the NT, and, even if there is an underlying universalism, for reasons of admonition the main emphasis falls on the fact that few will be saved (Mt. 22:14; 7:13 f.; Lk. 13:23 ff.; 1 C. 9:24 ff.).






From the time of Origen the term has been understood theologically to refer to the restoration of all created beings. In spite of several premises pointing in this direction, Marcion and Irenaeus do not draw such a conclusion, and at most Clement of Alexandria only hints at it. But it became a favourite teaching of the great successor of Clement. His ontological idealism equated the beginning and the end, and he could not, therefore, accept any end which does not lie wholly in God. An end of the world process is conceivable only if it means that all hostile voluntas is taken from that which is against God, even death and Satan, and that the substance which derives from God returns to Him. There are infinite possibilities of development both good and bad.

Longer expositions—in spite of the rule that it is dangerous to write such things, since most people do not need them and can be kept from evil only by fear of hell (c. Cels., VI, 26)—may be found in Princ., I, 6, 1–4; III, 6, 1–9; c. Cels., VIII, 72; cf. also Princ., II, 3, 1–5). Though rejected by official theology, esp. Western and particularly in respect of this doctrine, Origen has found disciples in many great Eastern theologians and even in such Westerners as Scotus Erigena, , J. M. and P. M. Hahn, F.D.

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