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God brought the animals to the First Man Adam in Paradise so that Adam could name them according to their inmost nature, which he could see clearly because of his innocence and purity of heart and mind as described in Genesis. Adam has not yet fallen through disobedience into sin, and so he sits naked and unashamed on the left, and has his hand raised to bless them by inspiration with what someday will be the priestly blessing.
Since the First Adam’s genealogy ends with the phrase “the son of God” (Luke 3:28), both this Adam and the Second Adam, Jesus Christ, are truly sons of God. Thus in icons the First Adam has many physical similarities to Christ to show their bond in both the creation and the recreation of man on earth. When Christ is depicted at a young age in icons, he looks very much like this rendering of the First Adam, or more exactly, this Adam looks like Christ in whose Image and Likeness he was made. We, too, are made in that Image and Likeness and must try to purify ourselves so we can be lifted up someday with the First Adam. This 16th c. fresco is by the famous iconographer Theophanes the Cretan.
|Movable Church Feast Day 1
2nd Sunday before Nativity
St. Nicholas "Anapafas" Monastery Katholicon, Meteora, Greece
Theophanes the Cretan
16th c. (Mid)