Sunday, September 6, 2009

John Chrysostom: Naming the Animals Proof of Man's Dominion

We fear and dread the wild animals, and fall short of governing them; far from denying this, I personally admit it. This does not prove God's law false, however: in the beginning this was not the case, the animals being in fear and trembling, and submitting to the human being as master. But since we lost their confidence and respect, we accordingly dread them. Proof of this? God brought the animals to Adam to see what he would call them. Instead of taking to his heels as though in fear, Adam gave them all names as though submissive slaves, which is a sign of lordship. Hence, in his His wish to show him through this the high level of His authority as well, He entrusted him with the imposition of names, and the ones given by him remained current: They all had the name Adam gave them. This, of course, is one sign that in the beginning the wild beasts were not frightening to the human being, and the second is even clearer, the serpent's conversation with the woman.

- John Chrysostom (around A.D. 347 to around A.D. 407), Sermon 3 on Genesis, in St. John Chrysostom, Eight Sermons on the Book of Genesis, pp. 56-57 (2004), Robert C. Hill translator.