St. Irenaeus of Lyons repeatedly speaks of this divine peda-
gogy using the image of God and man becoming accus-
tomed to one another: The Word of God dwelt in man and
became the Son of man in order to accustomman to perceive
God and to accustom God to dwell in man, according to the
In the beginning God makes himself known
“God, who creates and conserves all things by his Word,
provides men with constant evidence of himself in created realities.
And furthermore, wishing to open up the way to heavenly salva-
tion, he manifested himself to our first parents from the very be-
He invited them to intimate communion with himself
and clothed them with resplendent grace and justice.
This revelation was not broken off by our first parents’ sin.
“After the fall, [God] buoyed them up with the hope of salvation,
by promising redemption; and he has never ceased to show his
solicitude for the human race. For he wishes to give eternal life to
all those who seek salvation by patience in well-doing.”
And when through disobedience he had lost your friend-
ship, you did not abandon him to the domain of death. . . .
Time and again you offered them covenants.
The Covenant with Noah
After the unity of the human race was shattered by sin God
at once sought to save humanity part by part. The covenant with
Noah after the flood gives expression to the principle of the divine
economy toward the “nations,” in other words, toward men
grouped “in their lands, each with [its] own language, by their
families, in their nations.”
This state of division into many nations is at once cosmic,
social, and religious. It is intended to limit the pride of fallen
united only in its perverse ambition to forge its own
5 St. Irenaeus,
3, 20, 2: PG 7/1, 944; cf. 3, 17, 1; 4, 12, 4; 4, 21, 3.
Eucharistic Prayer IV, 117.
10:5; cf. 9:9-10, 16; 10:20-31.