Brief note on Cyril of Alexandria

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DTK

Puritan Board Junior
While specific studies can offer insights as to how members of the early church worked through particular issues with respect to the theological language they employed, one can also see that they were far from occupying a theological chair of superior understanding and consistency in their formulations. The following is one brief example from Cyril of Alexandria. In the Nestorian controversy (and I think one must be careful not to equate, by way of default, Nestorius with Nestorianism, unless one has made such a decision to do so based on extended exposure to that question), Cyril began to object to certain expressions of theological formulation that had been used in an orthodox sense prior his day, and the difficulty to understand such ancient members of the early church is then made all the more complicated when such terms are set forth in a very nuanced way. Notice the following note on Cyril from the patristic scholar G. L. Prestige regarding Cyril of Alexandria...

G. L. Prestige: Cyril’s own writings convict him of unfairness. He protested repeatedly against the use of the word ‘conjunction’ to express the union between Christ’s two natures, suggesting that it was an innovation, and claiming that Nestorius used it to imply a moral association instead of a real identity of person (ad Nest. 3, 71A; quod unus 733A, B). But in fact it had been employed in a fully orthodox sense by Athanasius (c. Ar. 2. 70), Basil (ep. 210. 5), Gregory of Nyssa (c. Eun. 3. 3. 66, Migne 705C), and even by Apollinaris (de un. 12; frag. 12). Language capable of bearing an orthodox meaning in these writers was neither new nor necessarily unorthodox in Nestorius. Again, Cyril objected to the description of the Incarnation as the ‘assumption of a man’ (apol. c. Thdt. 232C, D, E, cf. hom. Pasch. 27, 323B), forgetting that in his own pre-Nestorian treatise he had written: “The Word was in the beginning, and far later in time became high priest on our behalf, assuming the woman-born man or shrine like a robe” (thes. ass. 21, 214B). And though he strongly deprecated the Nestorian use of ‘two hypostases’ and ‘indwelling’ and union ‘by good pleasure’, he was quite ready to use all such phrases under proper safeguards in his own explanations of his faith (e.g. ad Acac. 116C; thes. ass. 32, 317D; ad Succens. 1, 137A); indeed, in 435 extreme members of his own party were openly suspecting him of having gone over to the Nestorians during his negotiations for a settlement. Yet so resolute was his conviction of the heretical depravity of his principal opponent, that language which was orthodox in Cyril acquired a tinge of heresy merely from passing through Nestorius’s lips. See G. L. Prestige, Fathers and Heretics: Six Studies in Dogmatic Faith with Prologue and Epilogue (London: S.P.C.K., 1958), p. 156.

Consider only the first issue noted by Prestige in his observation, viz., Cyril of Alexandria’s objection to the term συναφείας (conjunction) in describing the hypostatic union in the person of Christ. In my attempt to make this helpful, I've tried to provide a few of the references to Cyril and others to whom Prestige makes reference. Notice, first, Cyril's rejection of the term συναφείας.

Cyril of Alexandria (patriarch 412-444): In fact we reject the term ‘conjunction’ as being insufficient to signify the union. See the Third Letter of Cyril to Nestorius,§5 in John A. McGuckin, St Cyril of Alexandria: The Christological Controversy, Its History, Theology, and Texts (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1994), p. 269.
Greek text: μᾶλλον δὲ τὸ τῆς συναφείας ὄνομα παραιτούμεθα, ὡς οὐκ ἔχον ἱκανῶς σημῆναι τὴν ἕνωσιν. Epistola tertia ad Nestorium, Epistola XVII, §5, PG 77:112.

Cyril of Alexandria (patriarch 412-444): Then why do they abandon the term “union,” even though it is the word in customary use among us, and indeed has come down to us from the holy Fathers, preferring to call it a conjunction? The term union in no way causes the confusion of the things it refers to, but rather signifies the concurrence in one reality of those things which are understood to be united. Surely it is not only those things which are simple and homogeneous which hold a monopoly over the term “unity”? for it can also apply to things compounded out of two, or several, or different kinds of things. This is the considered opinion of the experts in such matters. How wicked they are, then, when they divide in two the one true and natural Son incarnated and made man, and when they reject the union and call it a conjunction, something that any other man could have with God, being bonded to him as it were in terms of virtue and holiness.
John Anthony McGuckin, trans., St. Cyril of Alexandria On the Unity of Christ (Crestwood: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1995), p. 73-74.
Greek text: {Α} Ἀνθότου δὲ δὴ παρέντες τὴν ἕνωσιν, καίτοι φωνὴν οὖσαν εὐτριβῆ παρ’ ἡμῖν αὐτοῖς, μᾶλλον δὲ καὶ ἐκ τῶν ἀγίων Πατέρων καταβαίνουσαν εἰς ἡμᾶς, συνάφειαν ὀνομάζουσι; Καίτοι συγχεῖ μὲν ἡ ἕνωσις οὐδαμῶς τὰ καθ' ὧν ἂν λέγοιτο, διαδείκνυσι δὲ μᾶλλον τὴν εἰς ἕν τι συνδρομὴν τῶν ἡνῶσθαι νοουμένων. Καὶ οὐχὶ πάντη τε καὶ πάντως ἓν ἂν λέγοιτο μόνως τὸ ἁπλοῦν καὶ μονοειδές, ἀλλὰ γὰρ καὶ τὰ ἐκ δυοῖν ἢ πλειόνων ἔτι καὶ ἐξ ἑτεροειδῶν συγκείμενα. Δοκεῖ γὰρ οὕτως εὖ ἔχειν τοῖς ταῦτα σοφοῖς. Κακουργότατα τοίνυν τὸν ἕνα καὶ φύσει καὶ ἀληθῶς Υἱὸν ἐνανθρωπήσαντα καὶ σεσαρκωμένον διϊστάντες εἰς δύο, παραιτοῦνται μὲν τὴν ἕνωσιν, συνάφειαν δὲ ὀνομάζουσιν, ἣν ἂν ἔχοι τυχὸν καὶ ἕτερός τις πρὸς Θεόν, ὡς ἐξ ἀρετῆς καὶ ἁγιασμοῦ μονονουχὶ συνδούμενος, Qoud unus sit Christus, PG 75:1285.

Now notice below those whom Prestige observed using the same term to describe that union in an orthodox way (The translation employed for συναφείας in Athanasius and Gregory of Nyssa below is "union," while the precise Greek term they used was indeed συναφείας, while Cyril preferred the term ἕνωσις for "union.").

Athanasius (297-373): And as we had not been delivered from sin and the curse, unless it had been by nature human flesh, which the Word put on (for we should have had nothing common with what was foreign), so also the man had not been deified, unless the Word who became flesh had been by nature from the Father and true and proper to Him. For therefore the union was of this kind, that He might unite what is man by nature to Him who is in the nature of the Godhead, and his salvation and deification might be sure. NPNF2: Vol. IV, Four Discourses Against the Arians, Discourse II, Chapter 21, §70.
Greek text: Καὶ ὥσπερ οὐκ ἂν ἠλευθερώθημεν ἀπὸ τῆς ἁμαρτίας καὶ τῆς κατά ρας, εἰ μὴ φύσει σὰρξ ἦν ἀνθρωπίνη, ἣν ἐνεδύσατο ὁ Λόγος· οὐδὲν γὰρ κοινὸν ἦν ἡμῖν πρὸς τὸ ἀλλότριον· οὕτως οὐκ ἂν ἐθεοποιήθη ὁ ἄνθρωπος, εἰ μὴ φύσει ἐκ τοῦ Πατρὸς καὶ ἀληθινὸς καὶ ἴδιος αὐτοῦ ἦν ὁ Λόγος, ὁ γενόμενος σάρξ. Διὰ τοῦτο γὰρ τοιαύτη γέγονεν ἡ συναφὴ, ἵνα τῷ κατὰ φύσιν τῆς θεότητος συνάψῃ τὸν φύσει ἄνθρωπον, καὶ βεβαία γένηται ἡ σωτηρία καὶ ἡ θεοποίησις αὐτοῦ. Oratio II Contra Arianos, §70, PG 26:296.

Basil of Caesarea (Ad 329-379): But those who ignorantly criticise these writings refer to the question of the Godhead much that is said in reference to the conjunction with man; as is the case with this passage which they are hawking about. For it is indispensable to have clear understanding that, as he who fails to confess the community of the essence or substance falls into polytheism, so he who refuses to grant the distinction of the hypostases is carried away into Judaism. For we must keep our mind stayed, so to say, on certain underlying subject matter, and, by forming a clear impression of its distinguishing lines, so arrive at the end desired. For suppose we do not bethink us of the Fatherhood, nor bear in mind Him of whom this distinctive quality is marked off, how can we take in the idea of God the Father? For merely to enumerate the differences of Persons is insufficient; we must confess each Person to have a natural existence in real hypostasis. NPNF2: Vol. VIII, Letters, Letter 210, To the notables of Neocaesarea, §5.
Greek text: Πολλὰ δὲ καὶ περὶ τῆς πρὸς τὸν ἄνθρωπον συναφείας εἰρημένα εἰς τὸν περὶ τῆς θεότητος ἀναφέρουσι λόγον, οἱ ἀπαιδεύτως τῶν γεγραμμένων ἀκούοντες• ὁποῖόν ἐστι καὶ τοῦτο, τὸ παρὰ τοῦτων περιφερόμενον. Εὖ γὰρ εἰδέναι χρὴ, ὅτι ὥσπερ ὁ τὸ κοινὸν τῆς οὐσίας μὴ ὁμολογῶν, εἰς πολυθεΐαν ἐκπίπτει• οὕτως ὁ τὸ ἰδιάζον τῶν ὑποστάσεων μὴ διδοὺς, εἰς τὸν Ἰουδαϊσμὸν ὑποφέρεται. Δεῖ γὰρ τῆν διάνοιαν ὑμῶν οἱονεὶ ἐπερεισθεῖσαν ὑποκειμένῳ τινὶ, καὶ ἐναργεῖς αὐτοῦ ἐντυπωσαμένην τοὺς χαρακτῆρας, οὕτως ἐν περινοίᾳ γενέσθαι τοῦ ποθουμένου. Μὴ γὰρ νοήσαντες τῆν πατρότητα, μηδὲ περὶ ὃν ἀφώρισται τὸ ἰδίωμα τοῦτο ἐνθυμηθέντες• πῶς δυνατὸν Θεοῦ Πατρὸς ἔννοιαν παραδέξασθαι; Οὐ γὰρ ἐξαρκεῖ διαφορὰς προσώπων ἀπαριθμήσασωαι, ἀλλὰ χρὴ ἕκαστον πρόσωπον ἐν ὑποστάσει ἀληθινῇ ὑπάρχον ὁμολογεῖν.
Epistola CCX, §5, PG 32:776.

Gregory of Nyssa (c. 335-395): What is the brightness of the glory, and what is that that was pierced with the nails? What form is it that is buffeted in the Passion, and what form is it that is glorified from everlasting? So much as this is clear, (even if one does not follow the argument into detail,) that the blows belong to the servant in whom the Lord was, the honours to the Lord Whom the servant compassed about, so that by reason of contact and the union of Natures the proper attributes of each belong to both, as the Lord receives the stripes of the servant, while the servant is glorified with the honour of the Lord; for this is why the Cross is said to be the Cross of the Lord of glory , and why every tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. NPNF2: Vol. V, Answer to Eunomius, Book V, §5.
Greek text: Τί τὸ τῆς δόξης ἀπαύγασμα, Τί τὸ τοῖς ἥλοις διαπειρόμενον; ποία μορφὴ ἐπὶ τοῦ πάθους ῥαπί ζεται καὶ ποία ἐξ ἀϊδίου δοξάζεται; φανερὰ γὰρ ταῦτα κἂν μή τις ἐφερμηνεύσῃ τῷ λόγῳ, ὅτι αἱ μὲν πληγαὶ τοῦ δούλου ἐν ᾧ ὁ δεσπότης, αἱ δὲ τιμαὶ τοῦ δεσπότου περὶ ὃν ὁ δοῦλος· ὡς διὰ τὴν συνάφειάν τε καὶ συμφυΐαν κοινὰ γίνεσθαι τὰ ἑκατέρας ἀμφότερα, τοῦ τε δεσπότου τοὺς δου λικοὺς μώλωπας εἰς ἑαυτὸν ἀναλαμβάνοντος καὶ τοῦ δούλου τῇ δεσποτικῇ δοξαζομένου τιμῇ· διὰ τοῦτο γὰρ καὶ τοῦ κυρίου τῆς δόξης ὁ σταυρὸς λέγεται καὶ πᾶσα γλῶσσα ἐξομολογεῖται ὅτι κύριος Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς εἰς δόξαν θεοῦ πατρός. Contra Eunomium, Liber V, §5, PG 45:705C.

And just when one begins to think they have a grasp of terms, there's always someone to throw a monkey wrench into the controversy just to give it an added bit of spice...

DTK
 
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P.F.

Puritan Board Freshman
I'm glad you tracked this down and provided the Greek. It would be easy to miss that Athanasius and Gregory of Nyssa were using the word in question when filtered through the English translation.
 

johnbugay

Puritan Board Freshman
Hi David, thanks for posting this. Pelikan agrees with you, saying, "It is significant that Cyril and his fellow Alexandrians employed in their christology many of the same technical tems that had been mined and minted, largely by previous generations of Alexandrians, during the trinitarian discussion." (History of the Development of Doctrine, pg 227).

He goes on to say, "theologians who shared an uncompromising loyalty not only to the letter of Nicea but to the Nicene orthodoxy of Didymus and the Cappadocians were nevertheless on opposite sides when the question of Christ and God became the question of God and man in Christ."

He says, "the neglect of the christological question was responsible for the impasse."

I'm not trying, by any means, to make excuses for Cyril -- he was just as foul as any pope ever was, and worse than most, but my understanding of this (and I haven't read nearly as much on this as I need to) is that one reason why the "Christological controversies" came up was precisely because of the variations in language, (exactly what you have shown, in Gregory of Nyssa and Athanasius) in trying to button down precisely how "Christ was both God and man." It just wasn't "precise" enough.
 

P.F.

Puritan Board Freshman
J.N.D. Kelly: But since the Incarnate was none other than the eternal Word in a new state, His unity was presupposed from the start. Hence Cyril could have nothing to do with the Antiochene conception of a 'conjunction' (συνάφεια) based upon a harmony of wills or upon 'good pleasure'; such an association seemed to him artificial and external. Even the analogy of indwelling, which (like Athanasius) he had used before the controversy, became suspect in his eyes unless it was carefully hedged around. See J.N.D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines (San Fransisco: HarperSanFransisco, 1978), p. 320.
 
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MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Cyril of Alexandria (patriarch 412-444): [/B]Then why do they abandon the term “union,” even though it is the word in customary use among us, and indeed has come down to us from the holy Fathers, preferring to call it a conjunction?

There is an obvious difference between utilising "union" in association with "conjunction," and abandoning "union" in preference for "conjunction." I don't know of any orthodox Christology which rejects the concept of "union." If Nestorius did in fact reject the concept of union then I must side with Cyril in opposing him.
 

johnbugay

Puritan Board Freshman
There is an obvious difference between utilising "union" in association with "conjunction," and abandoning "union" in preference for "conjunction." I don't know of any orthodox Christology which rejects the concept of "union." If Nestorius did in fact reject the concept of union then I must side with Cyril in opposing him.

Mar Bawai Soro, of Nestorius, says this:

As an antiochian, Nestorius resorted to the Bible to make his theology intelligible. The most significant mark of Nestorius thought is his dogma of the "prosopic union." It is characteristic of his complete work, "The Bazaar (of Heraclides)," and conveys a message of faith that is based on his understanding of the Sacred Scripture and Church Fathers.

Historically, the big issue between Nestorius and Cyril (other than the "Mother of God" tiff) is the difference between the "prosopic union" and Cyril's "hypostasis."

Moffett, a historian, summarizes this way:

This doctrine of the unity of the person (prosopon) of Christ in two natures may have rested on the use of a word too weak to support the theological weight it was required to bear, but it was in no sense heresy.

I will agree that matters are still not settled regarding Nestorius and "Nestorianism" and this controversy. But there are also a number of things to keep in mind:

1. Cyril attributed beliefs to Nestorius that he did not actually hold.

2. Following Cyril, the Council of Ephesus (431) ratified these statements.

3. The results of this council cause one of the major splits in the Christian church.

4. Like most "heretics" of this day, Nestorius's writings were largely destroyed; we know of his theology from scraps (which Luther saw, and which he did not think was heresy), as well as "The Book of Heraclides," a memoir that Nestorius wrote from exile and that was hidden away in his name for centuries, and was only "found" in the 19th century (see Freidrich Loofs's work "Nestorius" available on Google Books).

5. Nestorius was concerned to avoid just the kind of Marian "adoration" in his use of the word "Christotokos". (And in the 1994 joint Christological statement, Pope John Paul II recognized this statement as "right" and "legitimate".

6. According to Pelikan, Chalcedon essentially vindicated Nestorius's theology (which the Reformed accept) though it was later overturned in the 5th council, Constantinople II, (wich the Reformed reject).

7. A thorough study of all of this (including Cyril's behavior at Ephesus) will shed very much light on "authority" in the early church.

I am not trying to be disagreeable here. But I do think a very thorough history of this whole era needs to be written by someone other than an Eastern Orthodox historian.

There are many, many misconceptions that abound, and the Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox have much to gain by having this period remain dark and obscure.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
I am not trying to be disagreeable here. But I do think a very thorough history of this whole era needs to be written by someone other than an Eastern Orthodox historian.

Be that as it may, if Nestorius or anyone denies the union of the two natures, he is to be considered Christologically unorthodox, whatever party he happens to belong to.
 

johnbugay

Puritan Board Freshman
Be that as it may, if Nestorius or anyone denies the union of the two natures, he is to be considered Christologically unorthodox, whatever party he happens to belong to.

But that's the point. He DIDN'T deny the union of the two natures.

And I think that Reformed believers, especially, need to consider whether they're repeating the "false witness" that was attributed to him by Cyril.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
But that's the point. He DIDN'T deny the union of the two natures.

And I think that Reformed believers, especially, need to consider whether they're repeating the "false witness" that was attributed to him by Cyril.

That is a point which is yet to be established.

Who are these reformed believers who are repeating a false witness?
 

johnbugay

Puritan Board Freshman
That is a point which is yet to be established.

I think it has been established. Note here, Bishop Kallistos Ware (see clip one at this link: clip one at this link -- I have posted this here several times already),

And note Bishop Ware saying clearly, that "The church of the east has never held the heresy of Nestorius...In fact, Nestorius himself did not hold the Nestorian heresy" (much laughter).

This laughter included very high-ranking Catholics and Orthodox, even though there are councils condemning him.

Who are these reformed believers who are repeating a false witness?

Well, with all due respect, that is what you are doing here.

This is a matter of historical importance that is largely ignored. If anyone is going to be able to "get it right," it will be a Reformed process of historical research that will get it right. And to date, there is very little of that. But I think this is a great area where Reformed historians and theologians can bring great clarification.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Well, with all due respect, that is what you are doing here.

I have only made conditional statements here -- if ... then.

It still remains to be established that Nestorius did not teach what he is historically charged with teaching.
 

OPC'n

Puritan Board Doctor
Just yesterday I was talking to someone about this... Not as indepth mind you. But a person stated that they had read an article concerning Luther and baptismal regeneration. I guess the article stated that Luther believed in this. I told that person that I would refuse to believe that he did for two reasons. One reason was that back then they used words differently than we do now which if we are not careful will lead us to wrong conclusions about what they are saying. People then and today use the same word to state different things. I believe much misunderstanding arises bc of this. Second, he spoke German which then had to be translated into an English we are not familar with... there's going to be some breakdown in translation. Also I think it wise to read the whole of a person's work in order to come to an accurate understanding.
 

johnbugay

Puritan Board Freshman
Well, with all due respect, that is what you are doing here.

I have only made conditional statements here -- if ... then.

It still remains to be established that Nestorius did not teach what he is historically charged with teaching.

Well, there are ways to make "conditional" statements in a way that impugns the subject, and there are ways to make conditional statements in ways that don't. You have made the former.

I have cited several sources that say "Nestorius did not teach what he is historically charged with teaching." Do you disagree with the citations I've made of Moffett, Soro, and Kallistos? (And Pelikan, in an indirect way?)

If so, on what basis do you disagree? What will it take for you to begin to give Nestorius "a charitable interpretation"?

-----Added 10/12/2009 at 07:42:13 EST-----

I should say, if Nestorius DIDN'T teach that which has been attributed to him, then what ramifications does that have for the authority of church councils? What effect will that have on future ecumenical dialogs? What DOES that say about Greek and Roman condemnations made during that and subsequent councils?

-----Added 10/12/2009 at 07:49:36 EST-----

Sarah, I would agree with your qualifications.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Well, there are ways to make "conditional" statements in a way that impugns the subject, and there are ways to make conditional statements in ways that don't. You have made the former.

News to me.

What will it take for you to begin to give Nestorius "a charitable interpretation"?

I am yet to give Nestorius any interpretation, so your plea for charity is somewhat misplaced. All that is required for a proof of his orthodxy is a statement in terms of Christological orthodoxy -- two natures in one person.
 

P.F.

Puritan Board Freshman
Nestorius of Constantinople (patriarch 428-431): But those who wish rather to adhere to the orthodox attribute to him a body and an intelligent soul and agree to the union in one nature for the completion of the nature. And as the body and the soul and the intelligence are the completion of the nature of man, so also the union of God the Word took place with the body and an intelligent soul for the completion of the nature. The Bazaar of Heracleides, (1925), Book I, Part I, Section 42

Also see section 47 for more discussion.

I think a number of folks imagine the first council of Ephesus couldn't have (or were not likely to have) had the wrong idea about Nestorius and his teachings. Such a view seems a bit naive to those of us who have seen Presbyteries in action (some of the divergent views of the Federal Vision and its proponents come to mind).

Nestorius of Constantinople (patriarch 428-431): Concerning this: that it was needful that there should be a union of two natures, and that it was not right that it should take place otherwise. For these reasons, then, and for similar causes, the incarnation of God took place justly: true God by nature and true man by nature. For there would not have been any [union] of these, if one of these natures had been left out. The Bazaar of Heracleides, (1925), Book I, Part I, Section 88
 
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johnbugay

Puritan Board Freshman
Armourbearer: When you say,

If Nestorius did in fact reject the concept of union then I must side with Cyril in opposing him.

I do take this in quite a different way than if you were to say something more in accord with what we know now about what Nestorius said. Cyril's activities with regard to that council have been mentioned here on at least a couple of occasions that I am aware of.

There is a reason why this is a problem. And here's what Berkhof said in his Systematic Theology:

Theodore of Mopsuestia and Nestorius stressed the complete manhood of Christ, and conceived of the indwelling of the Logos in Him as a mere moral indwelling, such as believers also enjoy, although not to the same degree. They saw in Christ a man side by side with God, in alliance with God, sharing the purpose of God, but not one with Him in the oneness of a single personal life -- a Mediator consisting of two persons to him. (Berkhof, "Systematic Theology," pg. 307).

For as much as we respect Berkhof, (and it seems to me that you and many Reformed pastors may be using him as a source for your knowledge about Nestorius), we have to say that he did not have these beliefs of Theodore and Nestorius stated correctly.

And admittedly this is a very complex situation. I'm writing this not primarily to argue with you, but to try and give some perspective to all of this.

Theodore was a theologian in the school of Antioch, which stressed a hermeneutic that very much seems like our "grammatico-historical" hermeneutic. When I say "school of Antioch," this automatically sets up a contrast between "the School of Alexandria," which was more "mystical" and was less hesitant to rely on something like an allegorical hermeneutic to support their points.

Nestorius was probably Theodore's student, who eventually became the "Patriarch of Constantinople." And again, there was a kind of political rivalry between Constantinople and Alexandria. (Cyril was patriarch of Alexandria).

Now, bear in mind that the entire previous century -- from 325-381 -- two major councils, major personalities in the history of the church, all writing and working to come to some kind of agreement on "the Doctrine of the Trinity," and even after that, with all of the disputes over words, there were still questions about how Christ could be both "God" and "Man". How the natures "worked together".

In the fourth century, as Pastor King has noted up above, not all of the verbiage was theologically precise, and Cyril himself used words that he later condemned. If you were to go to the Council of Ephesus, you would still find Cyril (whose followers became the monophysites) making such distinctions as this:

In a similar way we say that he suffered and rose again, not that the Word of God suffered blows or piercing with nails or any other wounds in his own nature (for the divine, being without a body, is incapable of suffering), but because the body which became his own suffered these things, he is said to have suffered them for us. For he was without suffering, while his body suffered. Something similar is true of his dying. For by nature the Word of God is of itself immortal and incorruptible and life and life-giving, but since on the other hand his own body by God's grace, as the apostle says, tasted death for all, the Word is said to have suffered death for us, not as if he himself had experienced death as far as his own nature was concerned (it would be sheer lunacy to say or to think that), but because, as I have just said, his flesh tasted death. So too, when his flesh was raised to life, we refer to this again as his resurrection, not as though he had fallen into corruption--God forbid--but because his body had been raised again. (2nd letter of Cyril, cited in Council of Ephesus

Soro, in his work quotes extensively from Theodore's "On the Creed," painstakingly outlining Theodore's line of thinking. Here is Soro's summary:

"Theodore lived in an atomosphere charged with "monophysite" teachings and other "heretical" tendencies. Teachings that emphasized the divine aspect of Christ's person while, at the same time, denied the fullness of his humanity, were representative of the period. On the one hand, Theodore's concern was to argue against these teachings and, consequently, he greatly stressed the fact that Jesus' humanity was true and perfect, bestowed with all the human faculties and operations, including a rational human soul. On the other hand, and in order to balance this approach, he taught that the second Person of the Trinity, God the Word, or the Only Begotten of God the Father, had a distinct nature from that which was "begotten of Mary" and born of the seed of David. At the same time, by virtue of of the very close and intimate union existing between the radically different natures, they did not constitute two sons but only one Son." (Soro summarizing Theodore, "The Church of the East," pg 211.)

For Theodore's Christology, he relies heavily on an exegesis of Phil 2, and also, "the Creed's crucial word is the verb "to become" (in the phrase "He was incarnate and became man."). Here is a quote directly from Theodore's document, "On the Creed," section 66:

"The one who assumed is the Divine nature that does everything for us, and the other is the human nature which was assumed on behalf of all of us by the One who is the cause of everything, and is united to it in an ineffable union which will never be separated ... the Sacred Books also teach us this union, not only when they impart to us the knowledge of each nature but when they affirm that what is due to the one is also due to the other, so that we should understand the wonderfulness and the sublimity of the union that took place." (Theodore of Mopsuestia, "On the Creed," Section 6

It is hard to say just how this is any different from what the Reformed hold in the definition of Chalcedon,

we all with one voice teach the confession of one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ: the same perfect in divinity and perfect in humanity, the same truly God and truly man, of a rational soul and a body; consubstantial with the Father as regards his divinity, and the same consubstantial with us as regards his humanity; like us in all respects except for sin; begotten before the ages from the Father as regards his divinity, and in the last days the same for us and for our salvation from Mary, the virgin God-bearer as regards his humanity; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only-begotten, acknowledged in two natures which undergo no confusion, no change, no division, no separation; at no point was the difference between the natures taken away through the union, but rather the property of both natures is preserved and comes together into a single person and a single subsistent being; he is not parted or divided into two persons, but is one and the same only-begotten Son, God, Word, Lord Jesus Christ, just as the prophets taught from the beginning about him, and as the Lord Jesus Christ himself instructed us, and as the creed of the fathers handed it down to us.


But compare this (admittedly brief summary of Theodore,) with PCFlanagan's citations from Nestorius above, and consider what Berkhof said that they taught.

But to go even further, Chalcedon was not the end of the story for Theodore and Nestorius, as the Council of Constantinople II (the 5th Ecumenical Council, 553 ad) mentioned these two by name:

If anyone defends the heretical Theodore of Mopsuestia, who said that God the Word is one, while quite another is Christ, who was troubled by the passions of the soul and the desires of human flesh, was gradually separated from that which is inferior, and became better by his progress in good works, and could not be faulted in his way of life, and as a mere man was baptized in the name of the Father and the Son and the holy Spirit, and through this baptism received the grace of the holy Spirit and came to deserve sonship and to be adored, in the way that one adores a statue of the emperor, as if he were God the Word, and that he became after his resurrection immutable in his thoughts and entirely without sin. ... let him be anathema.

If anyone defends the heretical writings of Theodoret which were composed against the true faith, against the first holy synod of Ephesus and against holy Cyril and his Twelve Chapters, and also defends what Theodoret wrote to support the heretical Theodore and Nestorius and others who think in the same way as the aforesaid Theodore and Nestorius and accept them or their heresy and if anyone, because of them, shall accuse of being heretical the doctors of the church who have stated their belief in the union according to subsistence of God the Word; and if anyone does not anathematize these heretical books and those who have thought or now think in this way, and all those who have written against the true faith or against holy Cyril and his twelve chapters, and who persist in such heresy until they die: let him be anathema.

Bear in mind that what I've bolded above, mis-stating what Theodore taught (there is much more at the link), was the teaching of a council, and was, according to Ludwig Ott (Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma) "recognized by popes and councils as an authentic expression of Catholic doctrine." (Ott pg 144.)

Someone in another thread said that "this was the worst kind of political posturing" in the church. It is far worse than that. It led to a far worse schism -- needlessly -- than any of the schisms following, whether that be the Greek/Roman split of 1054 or the Protestant Reformation.

We do not need to blindly follow what Berkhof said. We are able to investigate the sources, and "reform" our understanding of these types of things.

Protestantism is capable of renewing its understanding of such things. But "infallible" bodies such as Rome and Constantinople are bound "infallibly" in their irreformable dogmas to the lies written into and voted into the faulty decisions of these councils.

Sorry this is so long; I believe it is vitally important for Reformed believers, and especially Reformed scholars, to understand and explain these things.
 
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MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
For as much as we respect Berkhof, (and it seems to me that you and many Reformed pastors may be using him as a source for your knowledge about Nestorius), we have to say that he did not have these beliefs of Theodore and Nestorius stated correctly.

Well, I am at a loss to understand why Berkhof's statement should be written off without any evidence to the contrary. It seems to me that you want to exonerate Nestorius and give him the most charitable reading possible, while at the same time you criticise reformed authors and give them the least charitable reading possible. As far as I can see, your method of dealing with this subject is by and large a-historical.

In the fourth century, as Pastor King has noted up above, not all of the verbiage was theologically precise, and Cyril himself used words that he later condemned.

Be that as it may, the "verbiage" which was utilised was understood to convey a specific message, and the church of that time saw that a rejection of specific "verbiage" entailed a denial of a point which was essential to Christological orthodoxy.
 

TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
One the one hand we have the testimony of some of the greatest mind the human race has ever produced, and over a period of a millennia and a half. On the other we have a hand full of people that I've never heard of (not that it means much) who say Nestorius was framed.

Well, I'm all for RESPONSIBLE historical revisionism, but it seems to me that the burden of proof would be on those who are claiming they have a new insight that those tens of thousands of scholars who have studied the subject in-depth over 15 centuries have somehow missed.

I have cited several sources that say "Nestorius did not teach what he is historically charged with teaching." Do you disagree with the citations I've made of Moffett, Soro, and Kallistos? (And Pelikan, in an indirect way?)

Anyone can cite sources for anything. I can cite three sources that say the government brought down those towers on 9/11. From a layman who's been following this thread, I'll frankly demand the burden of proof be placed on the revisionists.

Tim *trying to keep an open mind, but struggling*
 

johnbugay

Puritan Board Freshman
Armourbearer, TimV, and others who are watching this thread:

I want you all to know that I have the greatest respect for the Reformed faith – and that includes a great respect for a theologian like Berkhof, whose work has influenced generations of Reformed pastors and teachers. As well, I have the greatest respect for history, especially church history.

I’m going to address a couple of comments here, but there is much more to say and I’m going to try to address that more thoroughly in another post.

But for now, Armourbearer said

Well, I am at a loss to understand why Berkhof's statement should be written off without any evidence to the contrary. It seems to me that you want to exonerate Nestorius and give him the most charitable reading possible, while at the same time you criticise reformed authors and give them the least charitable reading possible. As far as I can see, your method of dealing with this subject is by and large a-historical.

Because Berkhof was factually wrong about what was taught, and as Christians, we should be most eager to be honest in our dealings with history.

In the first place, I can’t believe that you don’t accept the explanations of the historians and bishops that I’ve cited. I’ve quoted the entirety of Berkhof’s statement; it’s not as if he did a thorough job of presenting all of this.

Too, Tim V. suggests he can cite three sources that think the government was responsible for 9/11. That is a totally unserious comment; I’m not citing certifiable kooks. Moffet (Princeton) and Pelikan (Yale) are leading historians, and they are conservative in nature. So I don’t understand how I am charged with being “a-historical” in this. These individuals are not “modern critical scholars”. They are conservatives. As well, Soro and Ware are both bishops in their respective communities. I am not citing kooks.

And essentially, all four of these say “Nestorius is not guilty of teaching Nestorianism.”

As for the factual nature of the teaching of Theodore and Nestorius, which Berkhof got wrong, because Theodore and Nestorius were on the wrong side of some church decisions, their writings were largely destroyed. This is not unheard of at all in Christian history.

As well, large caches of writings of both of these individuals were discovered in the late 19th and early 20th centuries; it is possible that Berkhof did not have access to at least some of these. (Some of Theodore’s writings were discovered as recently as 1932.)

Just to avoid the charge of “a-historicity” I’m going to take a little bit of extra time and really track down these sources.


Meanwhile, much of what I’m saying can be found in Loofs 1914 work on Nestorius. Loofs compiled the writings of Nestorius, and his 1914 work (found here on Google Books) goes into some detail about this.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Because Berkhof was factually wrong about what was taught, and as Christians, we should be most eager to be honest in our dealings with history.

It appears you haven't spent as much time discovering what Berkhof taught in comparison to the time spent on what Nestorius taught. You should keep in mind that you have quoted from a Systematic Theology, and Systematics often employ names to simply represent a position which is known to history without entering into the historical merits of a debate. To discover what Berkhof taught on Historical Theology you are obliged to read what he wrote on Historical Theology, which can be found in his "History of Christian Doctrines."

Were you to read that work you would discover that Berkhof draws a distinction between Nestorius and the Nestorian conclusion. He bases his criticism of Nestorius on the undisputed fact that Nestorius denied the "theotokos." Whatever one may say in Nestorius' defence it is clear that he rejected this part of Christian orthodoxy.

The only inevitable conclusion of this denial is a separation of the human and divine as two persons, leaving us with a mere human Saviour. Nestorius was obviously unwilling to draw this conclusion, and merely hinted at it in certain statements that he made; nevertheless, a man is accountable for the fruits of his teaching, and therefore the catholic church has held Nestorius accountable for consequences for which he was unwilling to take responsibility.

Just to avoid the charge of “a-historicity” I’m going to take a little bit of extra time and really track down these sources.

Perhaps you could also take some time to set Nestorius in his context, note the school from which he came and the school to which he gave birth, and take some account of the work of the Holy Spirit in the church and the gradual development of dogma.
 
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johnbugay

Puritan Board Freshman
It appears you haven't spent as much time discovering what Berkhof taught in comparison to the time spent on what Nestorius taught. You should keep in mind that you have quoted from a Systematic Theology, and Systematics often employ names to simply represent a position which is known to history without entering into the historical merits of a debate. To discover what Berkhof taught on Historical Theology you are obliged to read what he wrote on Historical Theology, which can be found in his "History of Christian Doctrines."

I have this work and I have consulted it, and I continue to find the 1 1/2 pages he devoted to this topic to be woefully inadequate.

(Nor does the explanation he gives in this work negate that what he wrote in his Systematic is factually not correct.)

Were you to read that work you would discover that Berkhof draws a distinction between Nestorius and the Nestorian conclusion.

I did read the work; I'm glad that he "draws a distinction between Nestorius and the Nestorian conclusion." But even that is insufficient.

The "Nestorian Conclusion" (i.e., the Nestorian heresy) is not something that Nestorius taught, nor is it anything that anyone believed. (Although Berkhof did say, "the followers of Nestorius did not hesitate to draw the conclusion.")

To show you just how inadequate that is, let me give you what Berkhof presents as "the Nestorian conclusion" and you tell me where anyone believed this:

(Citing Berkhof): "Following in the footsteps of Theodore, Nestorius denied that the term "theotokos" could properly be applied to Mary for the simple reason that she only brought forth a man who was accompanied by the Logos. Although Nestorius did not draw the inevitable conclusion that followed from this position, his opponent, Cyril, held him responsible for that conclusion. He pointed out (a) that, If Mary is not 'theotokos,' that is, the mother of one person, and that person divine, the assumption of a single being into fellowship with the logos is substituted for the incarnation of God ; and (b) that, if Mary is not 'theotokos,' the relation of Christ to humanity is changed, and He is no more the effectual Redeemer of mankind. The followers of Nestorius did not hesitate to draw the conclusion. (Berkhof, "History of Christian Doctrines," 104)

There are many things wrong with this.

1. The most obvious is that Nestorius was condemned for a conclusion he didn't draw, based on a position that he did not hold. Do you believe that is a good thing to have done? Berkhof evidently gives his support to this.

Which "followers of Nestorius" went around saying, "Christ is no more the effectual Redeemer of mankind"? For that matter, which followers of Nestorius went around saying, "the assumption of a single being into fellowship with the logos..."?

Berkhof does not at all provide examples of what Nestorius actually taught. However, his name is attached to a "heresy" that he never taught, which nobody ever believed. Do you believe that is a good thing? This is the position you (and Berkhof) are espousing. (Keep in mind that there were plenty of real heresies at that time that plenty of real people were espousing. But that was not enough; a heresy had to be invented and then attributed to Nestorius in order for Cyril to get his way.)

2. In the words of Soro, then, "...the sentences of the Council (of Ephesus) simply condemned a heresy with content that was not specified. Interestingly, the issue of the 'Theotokos' is not presented as a charge against Nestorius," even though it was the question that that ignited this controversy."

If the issue was not brought up at Ephesus, why does Berkhof bring it up as THE reason for condemning Nestorius?

Continuing with Soro: "The sham tribunal presented two witnesses who reportedly could attest to some damaging and scandalous remarks that Nestorius had made, but there was no authoritative verification of their accusations. Furthermore, the grounds of the accusation had not been submitted for verification by an impartial court. The absence of the accused made that even more necessary." (Soro, pg 254, citing DeHalleux, "Nestorius: History and Doctrine": A. Stirnemann & G. Wilflinger (eds.), Vienna, 1994.)


3. "Theotokos" is properly translated "bearer of God," that is to say, from the moment of Christ's virginal conception, Christ was God present on earth. I don't think anyone has a problem to say that.

As a bit of history, Pelikan gives the "earliest incontestable instance of the term Theotokos" in the encyclical of Alexander of Alexandria directed against Arianism in 324.

The problem occurs, and Nestorius was in a position to see that it was not sufficient to use that word as it applied only to Christ. Others DID draw other conclusions from that word and began to apply them to Mary. You know, and we all know, that this word was used as a wedge to open up the whole world of Marian devotions (to which I am sure you do not subscribe.)

Nestorius "explains numerous times why he avoids the assertion that God the Word was born of the holy Virgin. He instead maintains that":

He who is God the Word has surely passed through (the virgin) but was surely not born, because he derived not his origin from her. But there both exists and is named one Christ, the two of them being united, he who was born of the Father in the divinity, (and) of the holy virgin in the humanity, for there was a union of the two natures. ... God the Word existed in the body, in that which he took the beginning of its coming into being from the blessed Mary, (yet) he took not the beginning of his coming into being. "In the beginning was the Word," and God the Word exists eternally." (Soro, 251, citing Book of Heraclides).

Do you deny that "In the beginning was the Word"? Or that "God the Word exists eternally"? If not, then welcome to genuine "Nestorianism."

Soro goes on to explain, "It is in such a context that Nestorius would accept the communicatio idiomatum as expressed in the term Theotokos, and even then, as mentioned above, only with reservation. For the Antiochians, to adhere to such a term without first providing safeguards that affirm the full and authentic humanity of the Lord and his real consubstantiality with every other human being, would lead to a fundamentally Monophysite conception of the union with Christ. (Soro, 251 -- and we know that Cyril's Alexandria DID not long afterward become Monophysite in total. And of course, we know that the rest of the Greco/Roman church did fall off the ledge in terms of Marian devotion after that as well.)

You wrote:

The only inevitable conclusion of this denial is a separation of the human and divine as two persons, leaving us with a mere human Saviour. Nestorius was obviously unwilling to draw this conclusion, and merely hinted at it in certain statements that he made; nevertheless, a man is accountable for the fruits of his teaching, and therefore the catholic church has held Nestorius accountable for consequences for which he was unwilling to take responsibility.

Perhaps you could say precisely how "the only inevitable conclusion" is "a separation of the human and divine as two persons, leaving us with a mere human savior". I've cited Cyril's own words from Ephesus up above, saying that "In a similar way we say that he suffered and rose again, not that the Word of God suffered blows or piercing with nails or any other wounds in his own nature (for the divine, being without a body, is incapable of suffering), but because the body which became his own suffered these things, he is said to have suffered them for us." Is that not to say that "we have a mere human savior"? It clearly is to say "only the human part of Christ suffered and died."

So how is the "conclusion" that Cyril foisted on Nestorius (and which Berkhof evidently reported in an unquestioning way) any different from what Cyril said right here?

Whose word are you taking that it is "the only inevitable conclusion"? Why are there not other conclusions? And further, why is a man condemned on someone else's word about such a thing as "the only inevitable conclusion"? Indeed, why is the whole Eastern branch of the church condemned for this?

Did you at all consult with Nestorius's own treatment of this? Berkhof clearly did not provide it. What about Nestorius's own conclusions?

You wrote:

Perhaps you could also take some time to set Nestorius in his context, note the school from which he came and the school to which he gave birth, and take some account of the work of the Holy Spirit in the church and the gradual development of dogma.

I do intend to do this.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
1. The most obvious is that Nestorius was condemned for a conclusion he didn't draw, based on a position that he did not hold. Do you believe that is a good thing to have done? Berkhof evidently gives his support to this.

Yes; and the reason why it is good rests in the way in which dogma develops throughout the history of the church. Doctrines emerge in connection with each other, and various tenets are found to stand beside other more fundamental teachings as supports for them. Hence, as I have urged, you need to look at the man, the terms he uses, and the things he denied, within the context of the time and place in which he functioned. Regrettably, however, you continue to engage in a-historical analysis as if Nestorius functioned within a 20th century setting.

2. In the words of Soro, then, "...the sentences of the Council (of Ephesus) simply condemned a heresy with content that was not specified. Interestingly, the issue of the 'Theotokos' is not presented as a charge against Nestorius," even though it was the question that that ignited this controversy."

If the issue was not brought up at Ephesus, why does Berkhof bring it up as THE reason for condemning Nestorius?

Because the doctrinal issue stands or falls here.

3. "Theotokos" is properly translated "bearer of God," that is to say, from the moment of Christ's virginal conception, Christ was God present on earth. I don't think anyone has a problem to say that.

Nestorius had a problem saying that.

Do you deny that "In the beginning was the Word"? Or that "God the Word exists eternally"? If not, then welcome to genuine "Nestorianism."

It is at this point that you expose your doctrinal weakness. The hypostatical union is the alternative, not Nestorianism.

Perhaps you could say precisely how "the only inevitable conclusion" is "a separation of the human and divine as two persons, leaving us with a mere human savior".

Read Larger Catechism answer 40.
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
armourbearer said:
Hence, as I have urged, you need to look at the man, the terms he uses, and the things he denied, within the context of the time and place in which he functioned. Regrettably, however, you continue to engage in a-historical analysis as if Nestorius functioned within a 20th century setting.

We can start with the term theotokos as applied to Mary. We Protestants like to translate this as "God-bearer" when the more traditional rendering has been "Mother of God." While this may be an inaccurate translation, it was the error that Nestorius was trying to guard against because he saw the implications. He didn't reject the term outright, instead suggesting that it was prone to misinterpretation.

We might think of this as being similar to the term "real presence": while yes, we might admit that the term, understood properly, accurately describes the nature of the Lord's Supper, we don't use the term because of its misuse by Catholics and Lutherans.

It is at this point that you expose your doctrinal weakness. The hypostatical union is the alternative, not Nestorianism.

I think that's his point: Chalcedonian orthodoxy is what Nestorius taught--it just wasn't as refined as Chalcedon would make it. As I recall, the followers of Cyril were condemned at Chalcedon. In reading Nestorius' writings, it seems he was aware of the Council of Chalcedon and applauded it. He comes across (at least to me) as a very humble man who is more concerned that the truth be known than that his reputation be upheld.

But I was content to endure the things whereof they accused me, in order that, while I was accused thereof, they might accept without hindrance the teaching of the Fathers; for I have no word [to say] concerning what was committed against me.
 

DTK

Puritan Board Junior
I think that's his point: Chalcedonian orthodoxy is what Nestorius taught--it just wasn't as refined as Chalcedon would make it. As I recall, the followers of Cyril were condemned at Chalcedon. In reading Nestorius' writings, it seems he was aware of the Council of Chalcedon and applauded it. He comes across (at least to me) as a very humble man who is more concerned that the truth be known than that his reputation be upheld.
And I think someone needs a history lesson or two.

DTK
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
I'll just refer you to what Nestorius actually said: Bazaar of Heracleides

I'm running across a distinction--what exactly is the difference between the prosopic union and the hypostatic union of Chalcedon? The terms seem extremely similar.
 

DTK

Puritan Board Junior
I'll just refer you to what Nestorius actually said: Bazaar of Heracleides

I'm running across a distinction--what exactly is the difference between the prosopic union and the hypostatic union of Chalcedon? The terms seem extremely similar.

You're going to have to do more than refer me to the above work by Nestorius when you suggest that "the followers of Cyril were condemned at Chalcedon" and that Nestorius was aware of the proceedings of Chalcedon, which is why I suggested the needed lesson(s) in Church history. And your question, "what exactly is the difference between the prosopic union and the hypostatic union of Chalcedon?" betrays the need for such. The prosopic (πρόσωπον) union was Cyril's stress on the unity of the person of Christ, whereas the hypostatic union of Chalcedon stressed the union of the two natures of Christ in one person. The Chalcedonian definition stated that Christ...
"was begotten by the Father before all ages according to His divinity and, in these latter days, He was born for us and for our salvation of Mary the Virgin, the Θεοτόκος according to His humanity; one single and same Christ, Son, Lord, only begotten, known in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation (ἕνα καὶ τὸν αὐτὸν Χριστόν, Υἱόν, Κύριον, μονογενῆ, ἐν δύο φύσεσιν ἀσυγχύτως ἀτρέπτως, ἀδιαιρέτως, ἀχωρίστως γνωριζομένον); the difference of natures is in no way suppressed by their union, but rather the properties of each are retained and united in one single person (πρόσωπον) and single hypostasis; He is neither separated nor divided in two persons, but He is a single and same only-begotten Son, God the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ, such as He was announced formerly by the prophets, such as He Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ, taught us about Himself and such as the symbol of the fathers has transmitted to us. See Peter L'Huillier, The Church of the Ancient Councils, p. 194.

The Council of Chalcedon employed various materials for its official definition on the person of Christ from a number of different quarters/sources, including principally the second letter of Cyril to Nestorius, as well as his letter to the Antiochians with the Formula of Union of 433, the Tome of Leo, and Flavian's profession of faith, and stressed the point that the unity of Christ must be sought, not on the level of natures, but on the level of the person of Christ. Yes, people like Theodoret (who was sympathetic to Nestorius) felt vindicated by Chalcedon, but Chalcedon did not condemn the followers of Cyril. Moreover, Nestorius was either dead (or at any rate, near death...some suggest he died in 436 AD, some suggest 451 AD when Chalcedon convened) at the time of this Council, and certainly could not have expressed familiarity with its proceedings in any of his writings.

I guess I never cease to be amazed at how college students will weigh into discussions without even understanding (among other things) the chronology involved in such historical events; and then assume the posture of instructing, older, wiser, learned elders in Christ's church, such as Rev. Winzer, who is a seasoned minister, and who is obviously well read historically, if not minutely, on this subject. If you would assume the posture of a student rather than a lecturer of this man, you might profit from what he has to say. I encourage you to do so. Then if you disagree with him, so be it, but at least demonstrate first some acquaintance historically with the Council of Chalcedon.

DTK
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
The reason I am asking is because the main argument of the Bazaar is arguing for the prosopic union. If such was Cyril's argument, then what was the debate about really?

As for the Church history, I'm relying on the scholarly introduction to the text which suggests that he most probably died around 451 and knew at least of the banishment of Dioscorus I, Pope of Alexandria (student of Cyril). The text also refers to the death of Theodosius II in 450.

This is Nestorius on the prosopic union:

Bazaar I said:
58. That as also God the Word is conceived to have become flesh and the flesh is one, and there are not two fleshes, so also the flesh is Son and there are not two Sons.

/ Is it not as if the Word were Son only in so far as he became flesh? Since he took the flesh in his own prosôpon, he became flesh and the flesh was God because of the prosôpon of the Word, in such wise that God the Word is said to be flesh and man, while the flesh is called the Son of God. For until he took the flesh in his own prosôpon and was revealed therein, he was called Son on account of the divinity: in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God; everything came into being through him, and without him also nothing whatever came into being. But since he became flesh in taking the flesh, he was named after both of them in both of them, but as though he were one in both of them, not [in both] in nature, but in the one indeed in nature but in the other in prosôpon by adoption as well as by revelation. The Son was revealed in flesh, being similar to his Father: / and my Father are one, he says in a manner demonstrative of his own prosôpon. . . .
. . . . For he who does not remain in his own ousia can neither / be emptied nor diminished nor even raised above all names. Therefore has he said 'the likeness' and 'the name' which it has taken, which indicates a prosôpon as of one; and this same name and prosôpon make the two of them to be understood; and the distinction of nature, one hypostasis and one prosôpon,50 is theirs, the one being known by the other and the other by the one, so that the one is by adoption what the other is by nature and the other is with the one in the body. As a king and a lord, who has taken the prosôpon of a servant as his own prosôpon and gives his prosôpon to the servant and makes known that he is the other and the other he, is content to be abased in the prosôpon of the servant while the servant is revered in the prosôpon of the lord and king, and for this reason, even though I should not have said the one for the other nor the other for the one, it is so with both of them who are one and possess the same prosôpon ----[so] are these things in regard to the two natures which are distinct in ousia but are united by love and in the same prosôpon.

What we have here, I think, is the expression of two natures in one person--maybe I just don't understand the prosopon clearly. If Nestorius was mistaken, he was less mistaken than his enemies made him out to be--certainly not worth splitting the church over (as stated before, the Patriarchate-Catholicate of Seleucia never accepted the decision due to the irregular procedure).
 

P.F.

Puritan Board Freshman
PFP: Eutychianism/Monophysitism may indeed be a danger of Cyril's emphasis, but I don't think many folks would view Eutychians or Monophysites as legitimate followers of Cyril. Do you see some reason to think of them that way?
 

timmopussycat

Puritan Board Junior
I'll just refer you to what Nestorius actually said: Bazaar of Heracleides

I'm running across a distinction--what exactly is the difference between the prosopic union and the hypostatic union of Chalcedon? The terms seem extremely similar.

You're going to have to do more than refer me to the above work by Nestorius when you suggest that "the followers of Cyril were condemned at Chalcedon" and that Nestorius was aware of the proceedings of Chalcedon, which is why I suggested the needed lesson(s) in Church history. And your question, "what exactly is the difference between the prosopic union and the hypostatic union of Chalcedon?" betrays the need for such. The prosopic (πρόσωπον) union was Cyril's stress on the unity of the person of Christ, whereas the hypostatic union of Chalcedon stressed the union of the two natures of Christ in one person. The Chalcedonian definition stated that Christ...
"was begotten by the Father before all ages according to His divinity and, in these latter days, He was born for us and for our salvation of Mary the Virgin, the Θεοτόκος according to His humanity; one single and same Christ, Son, Lord, only begotten, known in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation (ἕνα καὶ τὸν αὐτὸν Χριστόν, Υἱόν, Κύριον, μονογενῆ, ἐν δύο φύσεσιν ἀσυγχύτως ἀτρέπτως, ἀδιαιρέτως, ἀχωρίστως γνωριζομένον); the difference of natures is in no way suppressed by their union, but rather the properties of each are retained and united in one single person (πρόσωπον) and single hypostasis; He is neither separated nor divided in two persons, but He is a single and same only-begotten Son, God the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ, such as He was announced formerly by the prophets, such as He Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ, taught us about Himself and such as the symbol of the fathers has transmitted to us. See Peter L'Huillier, The Church of the Ancient Councils, p. 194.

The Council of Chalcedon employed various materials for its official definition on the person of Christ from a number of different quarters/sources, including principally the second letter of Cyril to Nestorius, as well as his letter to the Antiochians with the Formula of Union of 433, the Tome of Leo, and Flavian's profession of faith, and stressed the point that the unity of Christ must be sought, not on the level of natures, but on the level of the person of Christ. Yes, people like Theodoret (who was sympathetic to Nestorius) felt vindicated by Chalcedon, but Chalcedon did not condemn the followers of Cyril. Moreover, Nestorius was either dead (or at any rate, near death...some suggest he died in 436 AD, some suggest 451 AD when Chalcedon convened) at the time of this Council, and certainly could not have expressed familiarity with its proceedings in any of his writings.

At least one discussion has dates Nestorius death at 451 (after the Council), see The Lynching of Nestorius

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Be that as it may, if Nestorius or anyone denies the union of the two natures, he is to be considered Christologically unorthodox, whatever party he happens to belong to.

The $64,000 question is not whether Nestorius used vocabulary to define his concepts that at first glance looks heretical (in the light of subseqent Chalcedonian developments) but whether or not Nestorius used his terms to formulate the doctrinal point later established at Chalcedon. He may not use the phrase "two natures in one person" that sums up the Chalcedonian position, but did he mean to teach what Chalcedon meant by "...the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ: the same perfect in divinity and perfect in humanity, the same truly God and truly man, of a rational soul and a body; consubstantial with the Father as regards his divinity, and the same consubstantial with us as regards his humanity; like us in all respects except for sin; begotten before the ages from the Father as regards his divinity, and in the last days the same for us and for our salvation from Mary, the virgin God-bearer as regards his humanity; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only-begotten, acknowledged in two natures which undergo no confusion, no change, no division, no separation; at no point was the difference between the natures taken away through the union, but rather the property of both natures is preserved and comes together into a single person and a single subsistent being; he is not parted or divided into two persons, but is one and the same only-begotten Son, God, Word, Lord Jesus Christ, just as the prophets taught from the beginning about him, and as the Lord Jesus Christ himself instructed us, and as the creed of the fathers handed it down to us."?

If Nestorius, although using different words, can be shown to be teaching a subtially Chalcedonian position wrt the nature of Christ, than a charge of heresy against him cannot be sustained and should not be mounted.

Such primary source evidence as has been posted here in post #27 suggests that Nestorius was teaching substantially the same position that Chalcedon later codified. Anybody who wishes to affirm the contrary ought to present primary source evidence to that effect. For given the irregularities of his opponents' actions, should we really trust their account of N's teaching against the man's own teaching when apparently competent historical revisionism is increasingly giving us grounds to be sceptical?
 
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DTK

Puritan Board Junior
At least one discussion has dates Nestorius death at 451 (after the Council), see The Lynching of Nestorius

Yes, but that is pure speculation, and one would be very hard pressed to prove that any of Nestorius' writings were post-Chalcedon. Granted not impossible, but highly unlikely. Moreover, Nestorius was not at that Council, and it's not as though he was living in the days of electronic communication of documents and conciliar decrees.

Moreover, the language of Cyril and Nestorius was very nuanced, making both of them difficult to understand. For the most part, I'm convinced that the two of them were talking past one another, and that there was more of a personality conflict than anything at work between the two men. I recommend the two chapters on Nestorius and Cyril in G. L. Prestige, Fathers and Heretics: Six Studies in Dogmatic Faith with Prologue and Epilogue (London: S.P.C.K., 1958).

But councils are a different story, and the language of Chalcedon refined the language of Ephesus. But, even here, you have Eastern Orthodox theologians themselves who disagree as to whose language was corrected by Chalcedon. This can be seen in the two quotes below.

Meyendorff: The Chalcedonian definition of 451—two natures united in one hypostasis, yet retaining in full their respective characteristics—was therefore a necessary correction of Cyril’s vocabulary. Permanent credit should be given to the Antiochians—especially to Theodoret—and to Leo of Rome for having shown the necessity of this correction, without which Cyrillian Christology could easily be, and actually was, interpreted in a Monophysite sense by Eutyches and his followers. John Meyendorff, Byzantine Theology: Historical Trends and Doctrinal Themes, 2nd rev. ed. (New York: Fordham University Press, 1983), p. 33.

John A. McGuckin: But this, nothing else, is what the Chalcedonian text teaches, at least when it is read apart from the Leonine Tome, which has too often been taken as its exegetical commentary, but rather should be taken out of the interpretive picture since the Chalcedonian symbol was more in the manner of a corrective of Leo than a substantiation of him. This can be seen nowhere more clearly than in the verbal form which drives that whole central clause containing the four adverbs qualifying ‘in two natures’. It is none other than ‘Gnorizomenon’: ‘made known to the intellect.’ Chalcedon, therefore, teaches that Christ is ‘made known (to the intellect) in two natures’. It does not simply teach that ‘Christ is in two natures’ as the Antiochene system had suggested. Those who do not recognize or understand the importance of the difference are those who have not followed the whole fifth century Christological debate, but this certainly did not include the bishops present at Chalcedon. And so, the Chalcedonian decree, at this critical juncture, is clearly and deliberately, a profession of Cyril’s understanding of the union and, again, largely on his terms. The ‘made known’ of Chalcedon is substantially the ‘notional scrutiny’ (oson men heken eis ennoian) of Cyril’s First Letter to Succensus. Even when Cyril’s terminology was felt to be in need of correction, or clarification, whether to placate the West, or to exclude a Eutyches or a Dioscorus, it was instinctively to Cyril that they turned to supply the correction. John A. McGuckin, St. Cyril of Alexandria: The Christological Controversy, Its History, Theology and Texts (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1994 ), p. 240.

Having read both works above, I tend to favor Meyendorff's assessment over that of McGuckin's, because the latter (at least in my opinion) seems to be filled with inordinate praise for Cyril, as if the man could do nothing wrong.

Now, to be sure, there were hermeneutical tendencies on the part of both schools that caused a rift between Alexandrian (more allegorical) and Antiochian (more literal) methods of exegesis. But Theophilus of Alexandria (along with his nephew Cyril) had a hand in seeing John Chrysostom (an Antiochian) deposed as bishop of Constantinople; and then when Cyril succeeded his uncle as bishop of Alexandria, he proceeded on the same track of behavior to see Nestorius (another Antiochian) deposed as the bishop of Constantinople as well.

But a mere reading of the works of the two men (Cyril and Nestorius) requires a great deal of reflection and thought, as a number of patristic scholars have indicated. I suppose that Prestige is as good as any to read on the dispute between the two men.

DTK
 
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