Tenny Thomas to present paper at 7th Annual Archbishop Iakovos Graduate Student Conference in Patristic Studies

Mr. Tenny Thomas, FOCUS Director of the Northeast American Diocese, will be presenting a paper at the Stephen and Catherine Pappas Patristic Institute of the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology’s Seventh Annual Archbishop Iakovos Graduate Student Conference in Patristic Studies on March 10 - 12, 2011.

Tenny, a graduate of Oxford University and Union Theological Seminary will be presenting his paper on: Jesus Christ as “ The Physician” and “The Medicine of Life”: Healing in the Theology of Ephrem the Syrian. This is specially significant as the day of Mr. Thomas’ paper presentation Saturday, March 12th is the Feast Day of St. Ephrem the Syrian.

Please read the abstract to Tenny’s paper below:

This paper examines, first, the two most prominent metaphors that Ephrem uses, Christ as - “The Physician” and as - “The Medicine of Life” - to highlight his theology of healing. Second, the paper will also look at how the Eucharist is the - “Medicine of Life” - for the faithful today. The questions at the heart of this paper are quite simply, “What does healing mean in Ephrem’s theological understanding? How does God heal the human race?” The sources examined here will show that healing, in Ephrem’s understanding, began when the Son of God “put on” humanity, was baptized, which re-enabled humankind to wear the “robe of glory” that had been lost at the Fall and resisted all temptation, succeeding where Adam and Eve had failed. Even more importantly, because Christ had “put on” humanity, He was able to die and descend to Sheol, where He freed Adam and returned him to Paradise. The healing comes through the restoration of Adam to Paradise and not merely to his previous state of “perfectibility.” Christ brought Adam back to Paradise and fulfilled the salvific plan that God had intended from the very beginning, deifying Adam and making him perfect.

Ephrem’s sees salvation history as a process of healing. For Ephrem the fall brought humankind into a state of suffering and pain. In Ephrem’s analysis, there are two agents that cause sin and sickness – external and internal. The external is the Evil One (Satan) and the internal is one’s freewill. The poisonous advice of the Evil One instigated the Fall of Adam and Eve. Satan offered the “poison” which brought humankind into the “state of sickness.” For Ephrem Christ, the “Medicine of Life” is the only way to achieve a perfect cure. Ephrem portrays Jesus as the Medicine of life in the light of incarnation. Ephrem says, “He is the healer of everything who came down from heaven as the “medicine of life” to heal humanity from its state of sickness.” Jesus, the “Medicine of life” and the “Physician,” has been sent to bring about the restoration of humanity.

Through the prayers of our Holy Father St. Ephrem the Syrian, Lord have mercy upon us. Amen!




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