Adam’s Holiness: Athonite and Alexandrine Perceptions

Doru Costache, ThD
Senior Lecturer
St Andrew’s Greek Orthodox Theological College

Abstract: The paper considers a particular interpretive strand within patristic tradition, for which the paradise narrative in Genesis constituted a metaphor of the spiritual life with Adam as a hesychast saint – virtuous, directly connected with God and transformed by this experience. The authors and the texts discussed herein, from St Silouan the Athonite’s diary to a Palamite chapter, from St Cyril of Alexandria’s Against the Anthropomorphites and St Athanasius’ Against the Gentiles to the Sayings of the Fathers, represented the experience of Adam both contextually and in various terms, such as image and likeness, vision, union and the breath of life, all converging toward the notion of the paradise narrative as signifying the experience of holiness in general. This contextual interpretation of Genesis, from the vantage point of holiness, reveals uncommon aspects of the traditional construal of Adam and likewise says something about the personal character of the interpreters.