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A Hstory Of The Councils Of The Church Volumes 1 to 5 by Charles Joseph Hefele D.D.

SEC. 127. The Pre-Nestorian Doctrine on the Union of the Two Natures in Christ

IN opposition to the Docetæ, the Church had maintained the true manhood of Christ; in opposition to the Ebionites, Arians, and others, His true Godhead. The development of doctrine and of science now led necessarily to the special christological question: In what manner the divine and human natures in Christ were united. The fact that they were closely united was an established portion of the faith of the Church, but the manner of the union had not yet become the subject of exact consideration; and as often as the ancient Fathers touched this point, they employed vague formulæ and expressions. Thus Ignatius calls our Lord a σαρκοφόρος (Ad Smyrn. c. 5); Tertullian recommends us to say, that the Logos put on humanity, carne est indutus, as being better than caro factus, because the latter expression would lead one to think of a transfiguratio of the flesh (Adv. Praxeam, c. 27). Origen, again, defines the union of the two natures as an interweaving (συνυφαίνεσθαι), and still more frequently he (Adv. Cels. iii. 41; De Princip. iii. 6, 3), as well as Irenæus (iii. 19, 1), Methodius, and later writers, used the expression κρᾶσις = mixture or mingling, and the Latins the similar expression commixtio. Thus, Tertullian (Apolog. c. 21) says, Christ is homo Deo mislus; Cyprian (De vanit. idol. p. 228, ed. Paris, 1726) says, Deus cum homine miscetur; Lactantius (iv. 13) says, Deus est et homo, ex utroque genere permistus. They also speak of a running together, συνδρομὴ, of the two natures, of their copulatio, connexio, and the like; and it was only at the time of the fourth Œcumenical Council, and by its means, that the question as to the manner of the union of the two natures received an authoritative solution by the doctrine of the unio hypostatica. According to this, the two natures of Christ are unseparated and inseparable, but are also united untransformed and unmingled in the one divine personality (ὑπόστασις) of the Logos. The personality in Christ, however, is neither a double (divine and human) personality, nor a mingled (divine-human) personality, but the pure personality of the Logos, who has united Himself only with a human nature, not with a human person, since otherwise the unity would be lost, and we should be obliged to accept the anomaly of two persons in one individual manifestation (Christ), either in juxtaposition or mingled (and thus also a mingling of the natures).

About a hundred years before this ecclesiastical solution of the great christological question was given, another was attempted in an erroneous manner by the learned Apollinaris, Bishop of Laodicea in Syria. He transferred the doctrine of the trichotomy from the Psychology of Plato to Christology in such a manner as to teach that, as the ordinary man consists of three factors, body, soul, and spirit, so the God-man consists of three factors, body, soul, and Λόγος. The last, according to his view, took the place of the human spirit (πνεῦμα), and was combined with the two lower factors so as to constitute an unity. In this way he certainly brought the humanity and divinity in Christ into an unity, so that they were not merely in juxtaposition and yet distinct; and he considered that he was not simply justified in adopting this theory of union, but even under a necessity of doing so. So long, he thought, as a human πνεῦμα is ascribed to Christ, we must also assign to Him the liberty, and at the same time the mutability (τὸ τρεπτὸν), which would endanger the certainty of our redemption. It seemed to him possible to save this, and at the same time to obtain a comprehensible idea of the union of the two natures by denying to Christ a human πνεῦμα. But Apollinaris overlooked the fact that, by such a theory, there was no true God-man, and that he had destroyed the true and perfect manhood of the Redeemer.

The error of the Apollinarian system was recognized and opposed by many teachers of the Church, especially by Athanasius, the two Gregories, of Nazianzus and of Nyssa, and Epiphanius; and their chief merit in this controversy was, that they held fast at the same time the true Godhead of our Lord and His uncurtailed manhood, and developed the necessity of a reasonable human soul in Christ. But, when they proceeded to speak of the manner of the union of the two natures, their expressions became vague and liable to be misunderstood, and in part even erroneous. Thus, on the one hand, Epiphanius (Ancorat. §§ 44 and 81) certainly rejected with propriety the expression mixture or confusion (σύγχυσις) of the two natures, and the notion of the one being transformed into the other (οὐ τραπεὶς τὴν φύσιν); but, on the other hand, he nevertheless makes use of the scarcely less objectionable phrase, τὰ δύο κεράσας εἰς ἕν, that is, “that Christ has made the two natures to unite into one.” Similarly is it with Athanasius. He defines the union of the two natures with the expression which afterwards became famous, ἀσύγχυτος φυσικὴ ἕνωσις τοῦ λόγου πρὸς τὴν ἰδίαν αὐτοῦ γενομένην σάρκα (Adv. Apollinar. i. 10, t. i. P. ii. p. 742, ed. Patav.), and thus certainly denies the mingling of the two natures; but, when he (l.c. c. 12) defines the ἕνωσις φυσικὴ more exactly as an ἕνωσις κατὰ φύσιν, and expressly as not an ἕνωσις καθʼ ὑπόστασιν, one should suppose, at the first glance, that he is asserting hereby the opposite of the orthodox doctrine of the unio hypostatica. This, however, is not the case, for by the expression ἕνωσις καθʼ ὑπόστασιν, the whole connection shows that he means not the union in one Person, but a substantial union, and he says with perfect propriety that the two natures in Christ cannot become substantially one. Still his expression ἕνωσις φυσικὴ or κατὰ φύσιν remains liable to be misunderstood, as though he intended thereby to teach monophysitism, while in reality he uses φύσις, as in the other case he uses ὑπόστασις, not in our exactly defined sense, which belongs to a later period, but with a more general meaning, and intends to say nothing else than that the two natures are united into one, or into one Person. If the Confession of Faith attributed to Athanasius, περὶ τῆς σαρκώσεως τοῦ Θεοῦ Λόγου (Opp. t. ii. p. 1, ed. Patav.), is genuine, Athanasius would have taught οὐ δύο φύσεις, and would have used the expression μίαν φύσιν τοῦ Θεοῦ Λόγου σεσαρκωμένην. But this writing is not genuine, and belongs rather to Apollinaris than to S. Athanasius, as is acknowledged not only by Montfaucon of S. Maur in his edition of the works of S. Athanasius, and after him by Möhler, but also by Münscher in his Textbook of the History of Doctrines (i. p. 273), although in his earlier Manual of the History of Doctrines (iv. p. 15) he maintained the Athanasian authorship. From what has been said, however, it does not follow that Athanasius never used the expression μία φύσις τοῦ Θεοῦ Λόγου σεσαρκωμένη, which besides could be employed with a perfectly orthodox meaning: the phrase seems in fact to have met with general acceptance in Egypt, and was by Cyril and Dioscurus referred to Athanasius, and held as an acknowledged watchword of orthodoxy.

When, later, the two Gregories, of Nazianzus and of Nyssa, took part in the battle against Apollinarianism, they put forth definitely and expressly the duality of the natures, particularly Gregory Nazianzen (φύσεις μὲν δύο, Θεὸς καὶ ἄνθρωπος, υἱοὶ δὲ οὐ δύο, Orat. 51); but both also speak of a σύγκρασις and ἀνάκρασις, that is, a mingling of the two natures, and Gregory Nyssen besides cannot entirely free himself from the notion of a transmutation of the human nature into the divine.

The great teachers of the Antiochene school, at the end of the fourth and the beginning of the fifth centuries, not satisfied with all that had been done, thought themselves bound to strike out a new path, so as to define in an intelligible manner the union of the two natures. All their predecessors seemed to them to have preserved insufficiently the particular and inviolable character of each nature, and not to have given a sufficiently fundamental opposition to Apollinaris, but to have more or less given in to his views. And thus Apollinaris now found much more violent opponents in his own native country, Syria, than elsewhere, men of high reputation and great endowments, particularly Diodorus of Tarsus and Theodore afterwards Bishop of Mopsuestia in Cilicia. In the latter we behold the special representative and spokesman of this school, who, further developing and rectifying the ideas of Diodorus, built up a new christological system.

In opposition to Apollinaris, Theodore holds most decidedly that complete humanity and so also moral freedom must be ascribed to the Redeemer. In order, however, to keep at a distance from the notion of the mutability of Christ,—a theory which, however objectionable, seemed to be involved in that of His liberty,—Theodore did not allow the idea of liberty to result in that of liberty of choice, but went on to the idea of a higher, ethical liberty, which consists in the unchangeable harmony of the human will with the divine, and ascribed to the human nature of Christ such a higher liberty, a kind of liberty which practically excluded all sin. So far he was right. But he further regarded the union of the divine and human in Christ only in the sense of ἐνοίκησις, that is, indwelling, because to him the idea of Incarnation seemed to be identical with transmutation, of the Logos into a man, and was therefore rejected by him as absurd. When, however, God dwells in any one, he thinks, He does not dwell in Him according to His nature, and so not by the expression of His power, but by His good pleasure (εὐδοκίᾳ). This indwelling is not alike in all the righteous, but its measure is determined by the measure of the divine εὐδοκία. But in no one did it take place in so high a degree as in Christ. In order to show mankind its future perfected condition, to which it was destined, God formed a man in a miraculous manner, in the womb of the Virgin, by the Holy Ghost; and in the moment in which this man was formed, the Logos united Himself with Him. After some time the Logos led the man to baptism, then to death, then raised Him again, took Him up into heaven, placed Him (by reason of His union with Himself) at the right hand of the Father, and from that time He (the man) is worshipped by all and will judge all.

As every one who strives after righteousness progresses in union with God, so also it is with Christ. His union with the Logos had first begun with His conception and birth, and now increased gradually as moral union, wherein His humanity was constantly impelled, elevated, strengthened, and preserved from all aberrations by the indwelling Logos. This moral union was confirmed and strengthened peculiarly in the temptations and at the passion of Christ, but it receives its perfection only after the death of Christ, when He has exchanged the state of humiliation for that of exaltation.

If, according to this theory, the union of the divine and human in Christ is placed on the same level with the union of the divine good-pleasure with every righteous man, yet the two are in the highest degree essentially different, and Christ can in no way be compared with men. On the contrary, He transcends all men (a) by His supernatural birth, and (b) by His sinlessness; but (c) also in this respect, that it is not merely the εὐδοκία of God generally, but the Logos, and so God Himself, the second Person of the Trinity, who dwells in Him; and (d) the Logos is so closely united with the man in whom He dwells, that He has destined him to participate in all the honours which properly belong to the Logos alone.

It is true that in this manner Theodore could maintain the two natures in their perfection, and fundamentally oppose all mingling of the two; and he also explains that this is his aim, when he says, “Mingling is not suitable for the two natures; there is a difference between the divine form and the form of a servant, between the temple which is adopted and Him who dwells therein, between Him who was dissolved in death and Him who raised Him, between Him who was made perfect through sufferings and Him who perfected Him, and so forth. This difference must be preserved: each nature remains indissoluble by itself, in its essence.” But Theodore, and here is his fundamental error, not merely maintained the existences of two natures in Christ, but of two persons, as, he says himself, no subsistence can be thought of as perfect without personality. As, however, he did not ignore the fact that the consciousness of the Church rejected such a double personality in Christ, he endeavoured to get rid of the difficulty, and he repeatedly says expressly: “The two natures united together make only one Person, as man and wife are only one flesh.… If we consider the natures in their distinction, we should define the nature of the Logos as perfect and complete, and so also His Person, and again the nature and the person of the man as perfect and complete. If, on the other hand, we have regard to the union (συνάφεια), we say it is one Person.” The very illustration of the union of man and wife shows that Theodore did not suppose a true union of the two natures in Christ, but that his notion was rather that of an external connection of the two. The expression συνάφεια, moreover, which he selected here, instead of the term ἕνωσις, which he elsewhere employs, being derived from συνάπτω [to join together], expresses only an external connection, a fixing together, and is therefore expressly rejected in later times by the doctors of the Church. And again, Theodore designates a merely external connection also in the phrase already quoted, to the effect that “the Logos dwells in the man assumed as in a temple.” As a temple and the statue set up within it are one whole merely in outward appearance, so the Godhead and manhood in Christ appear only from without in their actuality as one Person, while they remain essentially two Persons.

To be consistent, Theodore was forced to regard also as inadmissible the doctrine of the communicatio idiomatum which had practically found acceptance in the Church. This doctrine, as is well known, is predicating the same properties of the two natures in Christ, not in abstracto (Godhead and manhood), but in concreto (God and man). Christ Himself had declared in S. John 3:16: “God … gave His only begotten Son” (namely, to death), and similarly S. Peter declared (Acts 3:15): “Ye … killed the Prince of Life,” when in fact the being given up and being killed is a property (ἰδίωμα = Predicate) of man, not of God (the only begotten, the Prince of Life). In the same way Clement of Rome, for example, spoke of παθήματα Θεοῦ (1 Ad Cor. 2), Ignatius of Antioch (Ad Ephes. c. 1, and Ad Rom. 6) of an αἷμα and πάθος Θεοῦ, Tatian of a Θεὸς πεπονθὼς (Ad Græcos, c. 13); Barnabas teaches (c. 7) that “the Son of God could not suffer except on our behalf … and on our behalf He has brought the vessel of His Spirit as a sacrifice.” Similarly Irenæus (iii. 16, 6) says, “The Logos unigenitus impassibilis has become passibilis;” and Athanasius, ἐσταυρώμενον εἶναι Θεὸν (Ep. ad Epictet. n. 10, t. i. P. ii. p. 726, ed Patav.). Specially cherished was the expression “God-bearer” (θεοτόκος = Deipara), and we find it more than a hundred years before the outbreak of the christological conflict in the writings of Origen, of Alexander of Alexandria, and of Athanasius.

It is, however, to be remarked that the properties of the one nature were never transferred to the other nature in itself, but always to the Person, who is at the same time both man and God. Human attributes were not ascribed to the Godhead, but to God, and vice versa. They did not say, “the Godhead suffered,” but “God suffered,” and so forth. The ground of this communicatio idiomatum lies in the unio hypostatica of the two natures, whereby the Godhead and manhood in Christ are united in the one divine Person of the Logos; and long before the introduction of the expression unio hypostatica, the ancient fathers felt the truth set forth in it, when they endeavoured, although still inadequately, to give the ground of the communicatio. Thus Gregory of Nyssa remarks: “So long as the divine and human in Christ are regarded, each by itself, the properties (ἰδιώματα) of both remain unmixed, but after the union (mixing, ἀνακραθεῖσα) the flesh (the human nature) participates in the glory of the Logos, in the power of the Godhead.” Still better Epiphanius writes: “If God suffered in the flesh, it was not His Godhead (in itself) which suffered; but what He suffered in the flesh which was borne by the Godhead, has relation also to the Godhead. It is just as when one has on a garment. If this garment is spotted with a drop of blood, we then say that the man is spotted with blood, although the spot has fallen only on the garment, and not on the man.”

Even Theodore of Mopsuestia, in his time, considered himself bound especially to oppose the expression “God-bearer.” “Mary,” he says, “bare Jesus, not the Logos, for the Logos was and remained omnipresent, although from the beginning He dwelt in Jesus in a peculiar manner. Thus Mary is properly the Christ-bearer, not the God-bearer. Only figuratively, per anaphoram, can she be called God-bearer also, because God was in Christ in a remarkable manner. Properly she bare a man, in whom the union with the Logos was begun, but was still so little completed, that He was not yet (but only from the time of His baptism) called the Son of God.” And in another passage he remarks: “It is madness to say that God is born of the Virgin, … not God, but the temple in which God dwelt, is born of Mary.”

SEC. 128. Nestorius

From the school of Theodore came Nestorius, with whose name the first period of the great christological controversy is connected. Born at Germanicia, a city of Syria, Nestorius came to Antioch at an early age, chiefly for the purpose of obtaining a more liberal secular education. He soon distinguished himself by great facility in extempore speaking in union with a beautiful and powerful voice, and shortly afterwards entered the monastery of Euprepius at Antioch, and was thence appointed as deacon and afterwards as priest in the Cathedral of Antioch. As priest he preached very frequently and with remarkable acceptance, while he also enjoyed the reputation of being a rigid Ascetic, and repeatedly showed great zeal for orthodoxy, so that he was the first who publicly impugned an erroneous statement which Theodore of Mopsuestia had brought forward in the pulpit. But with all his activity he showed, as Theodore and others affirm, great vanity and a desire for the applause of the multitude, particularly in his sermons. In consequence of the fame which he acquired, after the death of Bishop Sisinnius of Constantinople (Dec. 24, 427), he was raised to this famous throne; and his people hoped that in him they had obtained a second Chrysostom from Antioch. From the time of his ordination (April. 10, 428) he showed great fondness for the work of preaching, and much zeal against heretics. In his very first sermon he addressed the Emperor Theodosius the younger with the words: “Give me, O Emperor, the earth cleansed from heretics, and I will for that give thee heaven; help me to make war against heretics, and I will help thee in the war against the Persians.” A few days afterwards he determined to deprive the Arians of the chapel which they still possessed in Constantinople, so that they were led themselves to set fire to it, on which account Nestorius received from the heretics and from many of the orthodox the nickname of the Incendiary. Besides this he also attacked the Novatians, Quartodecimans, and Macedonians, and obtained from the Emperor several stringent laws against the heretics (ibid. c. 31). The Pelagians alone found favour with him, since he seems to have regarded as correct their doctrine of the sufficiency of man‘s free will for the accomplishment of what is good; but not their view on original sin. He received Julius, Bishop of Eclanum, Cœlestius, and other exiled leaders of the Pelagians, and interceded for them, in the year 429, with the Emperor and also with Pope Cœlestine. The Western layman, Marius Mercator, however, who at that time resided in Constantinople, made the Emperor acquainted, through a memorial (Commonitorium) still extant, with the true state of affairs, and with the fact that the Pelagians had already been condemned by Western Synods and Popes; whereupon Theodosius commanded them to leave the capital. The sympathy which Nestorius had with them is shown by his letter to Cœlestius, the well-known friend of Pelagius, in which he bestows upon him the highest titles of honour, and compares him with John the Baptist, with Peter, and with Paul, as the object of unrighteous persecution.

It was during these transactions in connection with the Pelagians that the other controversy began through which Nestorius has so sadly immortalized his name, and he refers to it in the first letter which he wrote to Pope Cœlestine on the Pelagian question. In another letter to John, Bishop of Antioch, Nestorius asserts that at the time of his arrival in Constantinople he had found a controversy already existing, in which one party designated the holy Virgin by the name of “God-bearer,” the other as only “man-bearer.” In order to mediate between them, he said, he had suggested the expression “Christ-bearer,” in the conviction that both parties would be contented with it, since Christ was at the same time God and man. On the other hand, Socrates relates (vii. 32) that “the priest Anastasius, a friend of Nestorius, whom he brought to Constantinople with him, one day warned his hearers, in a sermon, that no one should call Mary the God-bearer (θεοτόκος), for Mary was a human being, and God could not be born of a human being. This attack on a hitherto accepted ecclesiastical term and ancient belief caused great excitement and disturbance among clergy and laity, and Nestorius himself came forward and defended the discourse of his friend in several sermons. One party agreed with him, another opposed him, and many went so far as to accuse him, but evidently with injustice, of the error of Paul of Samosata, as if he acknowledged in Christ only a man.”

According to this account of the matter, Nestorius did not find the controversy already existing in Constantinople, but, along with his friend Anastasius, was the first to excite it. The sermons, however, which, as we have stated, he delivered on this subject, are still partially preserved for us, and are fully sufficient to disprove the inaccurate assertion of many, that Nestorius in fact taught nothing of a heterodox character. In his very first discourse he exclaims pathetically: “They ask whether Mary may be called God-bearer. But has God, then, a mother? In that case we must excuse heathenism, which spoke of mothers of the gods; but Paul is no liar when he said of the Godhead of Christ (Heb. 7:3) that it is without father, without mother, and without genealogy. No, my friends, Mary did not bear God; … the creature did not bear the Creator, but the Man, who is the Instrument of the Godhead. The Holy Ghost did not place the Logos, but He provided for Him, from the blessed Virgin, a temple which He might inhabit.… This garment of which He makes use I honour for the sake of Him who is hidden within it, and is inseparable from it.… I separate the natures and unite the reverence. Consider what this means. He who was formed in the womb of Mary was not God Himself, but God assumed Him (assumsit, that is, clothed Himself with humanity) and, because of Him who assumes, He who is assumed is also named God”.

The second homily opens with a bitter reproach against his predecessors, as though they had not had time to lead the people to the deeper knowledge of God. Thereupon he turns again to his main theme, that Christ is double in nature and single in dignity. “When,” he says, “the Holy Scripture speaks of the birth of Christ, or of His death, then it never calls Him God, but Christ, or Jesus, or Lord, designations which apply to both natures.… Mary may then be called Χριστοτόκος, and she bore the Son of God inasmuch as she bore the man who, by reason of his union with the Son of God (in the proper sense), may also be called Son of God (in the wider sense). In the same way, it may be said that the Son of God died, but not that God died.… We will, then, hold fast the union of the natures without confusion, and in the man we will acknowledge God, and will reverence the man who, by a kind of divine union with God, is at the same time to be worshipped.”

In the third discourse he says: “The Arians place the Logos only below the Father, but these people (who teach the θεοτόκος and speak of a birth of God) place Him below even Mary, assert that He is more recent than she, and give to the Godhead which created all a temporal mother as origin. If He whom she bore was not man, but God the Logos, then she was not the mother of Him who was born, for how could she be the mother of Him who is of a different nature from herself? But if she is to be called His mother, then He who is born is not of divine nature, but a man, since every mother can bear only that which is of like substance with herself. God the Logos, then, was not born of Mary, but He dwelt in Him who was born of Mary.”

It is easy to see that Nestorius occupied the point of view of his teacher Theodore of Mopsuestia, and was even less inclined than he to set aside the duality of the persons in Christ otherwise than in appearance. Several of his priests gave him notice of withdrawal from his communion, and preached against him. The people cried out, “We have an Emperor, but not a Bishop.” Some, and among them laymen, spoke against him even in public when he preached, and particularly a certain Eusebius, undoubtedly the same who was subsequently Bishop of Dorylæum, who, although at the time still a layman, was among the first who saw through and opposed the new heresy. Nestorius applied to him and others, for this reason, the epithet of “miserable men,” called in the police against them, and had them flogged and imprisoned, particularly several monks, whose accusation addressed to the Emperor against him has come down to our times.

It was in a more careful way that Proclus, Bishop of Cyzicus, stepped into the lists. He had formerly been a priest of Constantinople, and was appointed by the late Patriarch Sisinnius as Bishop of Cyzicus. But the inhabitants of that city would not accept him, and therefore he continued to live in Constantinople. Invited by Nestorius to preach at one of the festivals of the Virgin (429), he made use of the opportunity to describe, in his presence, the honour and dignity of Mary as God-bearer in many rhetorical phrases drawn from the Bible, and to defend the expression which had been called in question in a clever but, at the same time, rather a pompous manner. Nestorius thus found it necessary at once to deliver a second sermon, in order, as he said, to warn those who were present against an excessive veneration of Mary, and against the opinion that the Word of God (the Logos) could be born twice (once eternally from the Father, and a second time of Mary). He who says simply that God is born of Mary makes the Christian dogma ridiculous to the heathen … for the heathen will reply, “I cannot worship a God who is born, dies, and is buried.” It is evident that what is born is the human nature, but the Godhead is united with it … He entirely agreed, therefore, with the previous speaker, when he said that “He who was born of woman is not pure God and not mere man, for the manhood which is born is united with the Godhead.” … Is the Logos risen from the dead? And if the life-giver (Logos) died, who then could give life? The mystery of godliness must, however, be expressed in this manner: “One thing is the Logos who dwelt in the temple formed by the Holy Ghost, and another is this temple itself, different from the God who dwells within it.” He acknowledged, then, the unity of the combination, but the duality of the natures and substances.… In short, it was an absurd accusation to charge him with teaching the error of Photinus; on the contrary, that which he asserted overthrew the doctrine of Photinus.

In a second discourse, delivered afterwards against Proclus, he explained that he could allow the expression θεοτόκος if it were rightly understood, but that he was forced to oppose it because both the Arians and the Apollinarians sheltered themselves behind it. If they did not sufficiently distinguish the two natures, an Arian might take all these scripture texts which referred to the ταπείνωσις of Christ as man, e.g. His not knowing and the like, and transfer them to the divine nature, so as to prove from them the theory of subordinationism. Nestorius further attributes to those who make use of the θεοτόκος the view that, in their opinion, the Godhead first had its beginning through Mary, which certainly none had asserted; and in order to avoid this notion, he proposes, instead of the expression “God was born of Mary,” to allow this, “God passed (transiit) through Mary.”

The fragment of another sermon is directed entirely against the communicatio idiomatum, particularly against the expression, “the Logos suffered;” but still more important is the fourth discourse against Proclus, containing these words:—“The life-giving Godhead they call mortal, and dare to draw down the Logos to the level of the fables of the theatre, as though He (as a child) was wrapped in swaddling-clothes and afterwards died.… Pilate did not kill the Godhead, but the garment of the Godhead; and it was not the Logos which was wrapped in a linen cloth by Joseph of Arimathea and buried.… He did not die who gives life, for who would then raise Him who died?… God was not altered through His union or communion with man, but, united with human nature and clasping it in His embrace (complexibus stringens), He raised it up to heaven, while He Himself remained unchanged.… In order to make satisfaction for men, Christ assumed the person of the guilty nature (of humanity) (debentis suscepit personam naturæ).… Christ is not mere man, but God and man at the same time.… And this man I worship along with the Godhead as the cooperarius divinæ auctoritatis, as the instrumentum of the goodness of the Lord, … as the living purple garment of the King, … separo naturas, sed conjungo reverentiam. That which was formed in the womb of Mary is not God Himself … but because God dwells in Him whom He has assumed, therefore also He who is assumed is called God because of Him who assumes Him. And it is not God who has suffered, but God was united with the crucified flesh.… We will therefore call the holy Virgin θεοδόχος, but not θεοτόκος, for only God the Father is θεοτόκος; but we will honour that nature which is the garment of God along with Him who makes use of this garment, we will separate the natures and unite the honour, we will acknowledge a double person and worship it as one.”

We can see from all this, that Nestorius

(α) Properly determined to hold fast the duality of the two natures and the integrity of each; that he

(β) Was in a position, with his teaching, to reject the theories alike of the Arians and Apollinarians; that he

(γ) Says, with perfect right, that the Godhead in itself can neither be born nor suffer; also,

(δ) That the notion of the θεοτόκος, which he persistently opposes, which would assume that the Godhead in itself had been born, and could have its beginning of Mary, was certainly worse than heretical.

(ε) Further, we see that in a certain sense he would allow even the expression θεοτόκος; but

(ζ) As often as he makes the attempt to hit the truth, he is again turned aside by his fear of the communicatio idiomatum. This fear pursues him like a spectre, and in fact for this reason, that, instead of uniting the human nature with the divine person, he always assumes the union of a human person with the Godhead. Embarrassed by the concrete notion of a man, he can never rise to the abstract idea, nor think of human nature without personality, nor gain an idea of the union of the merely human nature with the divine person. Therefore he says quite decidedly, Christ has assumed the person of guilty humanity, and he can unite the Godhead and manhood in Christ only externally, because he regards the latter as a person, as is shown by all the figures and similes which he employs. The Godhead dwells only, as he says, in the manhood, the latter is only a temple, only a garment of the Godhead, and the latter was not born of Mary at the same time with the former, but only passed through Mary; it did not suffer along with the humanity, but it remained impassible in the suffering man, that which evidently would be possible only if the humanity had a centre and a special personality of its own. If, however, the personal in Christ was His Godhead, and this alone, then, if Christ suffered, the Godhead must also have entered into His suffering, and the human nature could not suffer alone, because it had no proper personal subsistence. So also only one Person could be born of Mary; and because the personal in Christ was only His Godhead, this must also have participated in the birth, although in itself it, is as little capable of being born as of suffering.

SEC. 129. The Conflict between Cyril and Nestorius begins

It was not long before the Nestorian views spread from Constantinople to other provinces, and so early as in the year 429 Cyril, Archbishop of Alexandria, found it necessary in an Easter sermon to give clear and plain expression to the orthodox doctrine, without, however, mentioning Nestorius and the events which had occurred at Constantinople, declaring that not the Godhead (in itself), but the Logos which was united with the human nature, was born of Mary.

There had been a special attempt made to extend Nestorianism among the numerous monks of Egypt, and emissaries sent for the purpose had been active in this effort. Cyril considered it, therefore, his duty to put them on their guard at once, especially as many of them had no theological education; and if once they had been laid hold of by the error, they would of necessity have been most dangerous, on account of their huge number and their great influence upon the people. In a very complete doctrinal letter to his monks, he now shows how even the great Athanasius had used the expression “God-bearer,” and that both Holy Scripture and the Synod of Nicæa taught the close union of the two natures in Christ. The mystery of the Incarnation of God had a certain analogy with the birth of every human being. As the body and the soul of the child are born at the same time of a woman, although properly the soul in itself cannot be born, so also the divine Logos was born along with the human nature. The Logos in Himself cannot properly be called Christ (c. 18); but neither must we call Christ a homo deifer (θεοφόρος), who has assumed humanity as an instrument, but He must be called “God truly made man” (c. 19).

The body of Christ is not the body of any other, but of the Word (c. 20); i.e., the human nature of Christ does not belong to any human person, but the personality to which it belongs is the Logos. (In this way Nestorianism was struck on the head.) Were the humanity of Christ, he proceeded, a mere instrumentum of the Godhead, then Christ would not be essentially different from Moses, for he, too, was an instrument of God (c. 21). At the close he further compares the death of Christ with our death. In our case, he says, it is properly only the body which dies, and yet we say “the man dies” (that is, the soul in itself does not die, but it participates in the suffering and death of the body). So it is with Christ. The Godhead in itself did not die, but the Logos has what in the first place belonged to His human nature, velut proprium in se transtulit; and thus we can say, “He suffered death” (c. 24). As man He suffered death, as God He again abolished death; and He could not have wrought out our salvation by His divine nature if He had not endured death for our sake in His human nature (c. 25).

This treatise of Cyril was also brought to Constantinople, and excited Nestorius to employ violent expressions respecting his Alexandrian colleague. The latter therefore directed a short letter to Nestorius, in which he said, “that it was not he (Cyril) and his treatise, but Nestorius or his friend who was the cause of the present prevailing ecclesiastical disorder. It had even gone so far already, that some would no longer call Christ God, but only instrument of God and a God-bearing man. At such a violation of the faith, it had not been possible for him to keep silence, and Nestorius could himself say what he would have to answer the Roman bishop Cœlestine and other bishops, who asked him whether Nestorius had really written and said the things which were currently reported of him. Besides, there came from all the provinces of the East unfavourable reports concerning Nestorius, and he should therefore pacify again all who had taken offence from the use of the expression θεοτόκος.”

Nestorius answered this in a few lines, which contained hardly anything but self-praise and insolence, to the effect that “Christian love and the urgency of the Alexandrian priest Lampo alone had induced him to give an answer to Cyril, whose letter contained much that was at variance with brotherly love. He greeted all the brethren who were with Cyril.”

About the same time Nestorius availed himself of an opportunity of endeavouring, if possible, to gain over Pope Cœlestine to himself and his teaching. He wrote to him that some Western bishops—namely, the Pelagian Julian, Floras, Orontius, and Fabius—had complained to the Emperor and to him that, although orthodox, they were persecuted. They had been several times sent away, but they had always renewed their complaints, and he would now ask for more exact information respecting their case. Moreover, he said, he had wished to destroy a heretical disease which prevailed in his diocese, and even among the clergy, which was akin to the corruption of Apollinarianism and Arianism. These heretics mingled the Godhead and manhood in Christ, and blasphemously alleged that the Word of God had, as it were, taken a beginning from the Christ-bearer; that He was built up along with His temple (the humanity), and was buried along with the flesh (humanity); and that, after the resurrection, the flesh (humanity) had passed over into the Godhead. They ventured, therefore, to call the Virgin God-bearer, whilst neither the Fathers at Nicæa nor the Holy Scriptures had employed this expression. Such an expression was not in fact admissible, and could be tolerated only with a certain explanation (that Mary had borne only a man, but that with this the Godhead was inseparably united). Cœlestine had probably already heard what struggles he (Nestorius) had to maintain against these false teachers; but he had not struggled in vain, for many had been happily converted.

A second and somewhat later epistle explains to the Pope, that Nestorius had long waited for an answer with reference to those Western (Pelagian) bishops, and requests that Cœlestine would, at last let him have more accurate information concerning them. At the same time he speaks again of the new heresy, which renews Apollinarianism and Arianism.

The state of tension which had arisen between Cyril and Nestorius had induced some Alexandrians, who had been punished by Cyril on account of gross moral excesses, now to go to Constantinople, and there to bring forward complaints against their archbishop. One of these complainants had been guilty of dishonesty as a reliever of the poor, the second had shockingly ill-treated his mother, the third had stolen; and Nestorius had granted these people a hearing. Cyril now complains of this in a fresh letter to Nestorius, and joins with it, as the principal thing, a request that Nestorius will redress the grievance which he has occasioned by his sermons. At the same time, he briefly defines the orthodox doctrine, to the effect that the Word did not become flesh in such a manner as that God’s nature had changed or been transformed into σὰρξ and ψυχή; on the contrary, the Logos had hypostatically united with Himself the σὰρξ, animated by the ψυχὴ λογική, and thus had, in an inexplicable manner, become man.… The two distinct natures had been united into a true unity (πρὸς ἑνότητα τὴν ἀληθινὴν συναχθεῖσαι φύσεις), from both one [not double] Christ and one Son had come, not as though the difference of the natures had been done away by the union, but, on the contrary, that they constituted the one Lord Jesus Christ and Son by the unutterable union of the Godhead and the manhood. He then rejects the unjust reproach of Nestorius, who represented that Cyril and his friends taught that the Logos had first received His beginning from Mary (this was a false inference which Nestorius deduced from the expression θεοτόκος), and he proceeds: “It is not that a man was born of Mary upon whom the Logos then descended, but the Logos united Himself with the human nature in the womb of Mary, and thus was, after the flesh, born. So also He suffered, etc., since the Logos, who is in Himself impassible, endured this in the body which He had assumed.”

Nestorius replied that “he would pass in silence the insults which were contained in this astonishing production of Cyril’s, but on another point he would not be silent. Cyril appealed to the Creed of Nicæa, but he had certainly read it only superficially, and his ignorance therefore deserved excuse.” He would now show him from this Creed, and from Holy Scripture, that we ought not to say that God was born and suffered, and that Mary was the God-bearer; that was heathenish, Apollinarian, Arian. Cyril had certainly said rightly, that two natures were united in one person, and that the Godhead in itself could neither be born nor suffer; but what he added afterwards, as to how far the Godhead of Christ entered into the suffering, etc., entirely did away with what was said before. At the close Nestorius remarks, in a harsh and scornful tone: “That Cyril was so zealous for the cause of God, and so anxious for the Church of Constantinople, but he had been deceived by clergy of his own stamp (τῆς σῆς ἴσως διαθέσεως), who had been deposed at Constantinople on account of Manichæism. At Constantinople itself everything was in an excellent condition, and the Emperor was quite in agreement with the doctrine.”

While the correspondence of Cyril with Nestorius himself led to no result, the former found it necessary, particularly on account of the last remark of Nestorius, also to apply to the Emperor and to address two letters to the imperial ladies (ταὶς βασιλίσσαις), Eudocia (the wife of the Emperor) and Pulcheria (the Emperor’s sister), and, without mentioning the name of Nestorius, to explain to them the true doctrine by passages from Holy Scripture and the Fathers, in a very complete manner. That Cyril should apply to the Emperor will astonish no one, but even his doctrinal letter to the two princesses finds its explanation and justification in the then existing condition of the Byzantine Court. After the death of his father Arcadius, in the year 408, Theodosius the younger became Emperor at the age of from seven to eight years. He was and remained kindly and pious all his life long; but far more talent than belonged to him was shown by his sister Pulcheria, who was only a few years older than himself, to whom the Senate, on account of her remarkable prudence, in A.D. 414, when she numbered only sixteen years, gave the title of Augusta, and confided to her the administration of the Empire together with the guardianship of her brother. She married the latter in the year 421 to Eudocia, the intellectual and amiable daughter of a heathen philosopher of Athens, whom she had herself gained over to Christianity, and whom she had regarded as worthy of the throne; and both these excellent women took so great an interest in all ecclesiastical and political occurrences, and were so highly educated and of so great influence, that Cyril had every reason for laying the great theological question as distinctly as possible before them. So also he applied to several Greek and Oriental bishops, particularly to the venerable Acacius, Bishop of Berrhœa, who was nearly a hundred years of age, in order to make them thoroughly acquainted with the whole controversy, and to gain them for the orthodox side. Acacius answered in a friendly spirit, lamented the controversy, and counselled peace. The Emperor Theodosius, on the other hand, allowed himself to be prejudiced by Nestorius against Cyril, and blamed the latter for having begun the quarrel, particularly for having addressed the imperial ladies in a special letter, as if they were not in agreement with the Emperor on this question, or perhaps even to sow discord in the imperial family. We may, with much probability, infer from these last words, and also from what happened, especially through Pulcheria, after the death of Theodosius, that the two princesses had expressed themselves in opposition to the Emperor, on behalf of Cyril and against Nestorius.

Long before this imperial letter was despatched, Cyril addressed a letter also to those Alexandrian clergy who attended to his interests at Constantinople, and explained to them, too, the true doctrine on the controverted point, as well as the deceptive statements and false accusations of the Nestorians. At the same time, he continued, he would not yet, as they advised, come forward with a formal complaint against Nestorius, whilst he certainly could not at all acknowledge him as his judge, and he asked them, when it became necessary, to transmit the enclosed explanation to the Emperor. Cyril then pointed out that Nestorius had laid under anathema all who made use of the expression “God-bearer,” and had threatened to bring before a Synod the charges against Cyril conveyed to him by some Alexandrians, and to have him deposed, as he had already done with others who reverenced the expression θεοτόκος. For this reason, and also because Nestorius himself had first applied to Rome in regard to the question of θεοτόκος, and, on the other hand, the Pope also had made inquiries on the subject of Cyril, the latter had felt bound to inform the Pope on the subject of the new heresy, and he did this in a letter, in which he said: “It would be more agreeable if we could keep silence, but God demands of us watchfulness, and ecclesiastical custom requires me to inform your holiness. I have hitherto observed profound silence, and have written neither to you nor to any other Bishop on what has been passing in Constantinople, because haste in such a case is a fault; but now that the evil has reached its culminating-point, I believe myself bound to speak and to explain all that has occurred.” He then relates how the whole controversy arose in Constantinople, and how he has warned Nestorius several times, and is for this reason persecuted by him. Nearly all the Eastern bishops are in accord with Cyril, especially the Macedonian bishops; but Nestorius considers himself wiser than all, and believes that he alone understands the divine mysteries. He (Cyril) had not wished to threaten him with excommunication before he had given the Pope notice of it, and the latter may now decide what is to be done, and give instructions on that point to the Eastern and Macedonian bishops.

Along with this he sent the Deacon Possidonius to Rome, and gave him at the same time translations of all the other letters written hitherto by Cyril on the Nestorian question, as well as a special memorial in which he had drawn out in short propositions the Nestorian error, and the orthodox doctrine opposed to it. He particularly says in it that Nestorius avoids the expression ἕνωσις, and speaks only of a συνάφεια of the two natures. Possidonius was further commissioned to give the documents in question to the Pope only when he learnt that Nestorius had already appealed to the Pope.

SEC. 130. Synod at Rome, A.D. 430, and the Transactions connected with it

In consequence of this, Pope Cœlestine, in the year 430, held a Synod at Rome, at which Nestorius was declared a heretic, and threatened with deposition, unless he revoked his errors within ten days of the reception of this decision. We have still the fragment of a speech made by the Pope at the Synod, in which he approves of the expression θεοτόκος, as well as the four letters which he despatched, as the result of the Synod, to Nestorius, to his Church, to Cyril, and to John of Antioch, all dated the 11th of August 430.

In the first of these, to Nestorius, in which he uses very sharp language, the Pope complains that now, alas! the good reputation formerly enjoyed by Nestorius has entirely vanished. The Pope had not hitherto answered his letters, because it was necessary that they should first be translated into Latin; but in the meantime very bad news respecting him had been received from Cyril. Nestorius had paid no regard to two warnings from Cyril; if he now refused to obey this third admonition, then he must be shut out from the Catholic Christian Church. It is no wonder to the Pope that Nestorius protects the Pelagians, since he is much worse than they. It is to be hoped, however, that he will not destroy the unity of the Church, and that in token of his improvement he will recall all those whom, for Christ’s sake (that is, on account of their orthodoxy), he has expelled from the Church. If he does not condemn his impious innovation within ten days, he must be expelled from all communion with the orthodox Church, and Cyril has to publish this judgment, as representative of the Pope.

To nearly the same effect is the second letter of the Pope, addressed to the clergy and laity of Constantinople, in which he exhorts them all to stedfastness and fidelity in the faith, and to endurance, if they are persecuted by Nestorius; for all whom the latter has smitten, or shall hereafter smite, with excommunication or deposition, on account of their adherence to orthodoxy, are and remain in communion with the Pope. In conclusion, he informs them that he has delegated to Cyril to give effect to the sentence against Nestorius.

Substantially the same statements were contained in those letters which Cœlestine addressed to the most distinguished Eastern and Macedonian Bishops, so as to inform them of the error of Nestorius, and of the sentence which had just been pronounced against him. These were John, Bishop of Antioch, Juvenal of Jerusalem, Rufus of Thessalonica, and Flavian of Philippi. Of these letters, the one addressed to John of Antioch is no longer extant, but they all seem to have been to the same effect. It is very probable that the Pope sent at least the two letters destined for Asia first to Alexandria, for greater certainty, on which account Cyril on his part contributed a companion letter, and from these the two addressed to Juvenal and John have come down to us. Cyril in these letters endeavoured to justify his previous conduct in this matter, and to induce his colleagues to recognize the Roman decision.

More important for us is Cœlestine’s letter to Cyril himself. In it he praises him in strong terms, approves of his teaching, sanctions all that he has done, and gives order that, in case Nestorius perseveres in his perverse opinion, and does not within ten days after the reception of the Papal letter condemn his impious doctrine, and promise to teach so as to be in accordance with the faith of the Roman and Alexandrian Churches, and in fact with the whole of Christendom, Cyril must carry into effect the judgment of the Roman Synod in the name of the Pope, with all energy, and give him notice of his exclusion from the Church.

It was probably before Nestorius had received intelligence of the sentence pronounced against him at Rome, but certainly while he was in fear of it, that he addressed his third letter to the Pope, in which he first makes the false statement that Cyril had begun the controversy respecting θεοτόκος, in order to avert the holding of a Synod at Constantinople, to consider the charges which had been brought against him to that city; whereas the first letters between Cyril and Nestorius, as has already been pointed out, referred to the controversy respecting θεοτόκος, and it was only those written somewhat later which mention those accusations (see pp. 20 and 23). Equally deceptive is the second assertion which Nestorius makes in this letter to the Pope, “that he has nothing against those who make use of the expression God-bearer, when it is not done in an Apollinarian and Arian sense,” when in fact he had given a general approval of the anathema pronounced on this expression, and had excommunicated those members of his Church who made use of it. (See above, p. 25 f.) It is evident that he is ready to make certain concessions, and so to avert from himself the threatening storm; therefore he also proposes to select the middle way between the two parties, of which the one calls Mary “God-bearer,” and the other “Man-bearer,” by adopting the expression “Christ-bearer.” Finally, he remarks that shortly by God’s help an Œcumenical Council of the Church will take place and again restore ecclesiastical peace.

John, Bishop of Antioch, was most anxious to bring about such a peace as soon as possible, even without a Synod. He had been in his youth a friend of Nestorius, and immediately after receiving the papal letter already mentioned he urged him to submission. The limit of ten days, he said, was certainly brief, but it needed only a few hours to give his approval to the expression θεοτόκος, which was quite applicable to the saving Incarnation and Birth of Christ, and had been used by many of the Fathers. Here, then, was no danger, and consequently no reason for hesitation, especially as Nestorius himself acknowledged that this expression had also a quite orthodox meaning. It was in fact perfectly accurate, and if it were rejected, then it would of necessity follow that He who had come into the world for us was not God. And certainly the Holy Scripture represented this as the most glorious operation of the grace of God, that the eternal Son of God was born of the Virgin; without the Logos having thereby suffered any unworthy change. Therefore Paul says (Gal. 4:4): “God sent forth His Son, born of a woman.” Nestorius ought then to accept the expression θεοτόκος; and this was not only his counsel, but also that of many other Eastern Bishops, of whom he particularly mentioned several.

Nestorius answered courteously but evasively, expressed a hope that the controversy might be discontinued, but at the same time gave no promise respecting θεοτόκος, and referred everything specially to the expected Œcumenical Synod. From Rome, however, he had still received nothing, for Cyril, whose duty it was to transmit the sentence, first held another

SEC. 131. Synod at Alexandria

in order to draw up or have sanctioned a formula of belief, which Nestorius should be required to accept, if the judgment pronounced against him at Rome was not to be put in force. The very comprehensive letter to Nestorius, prepared by Cyril and sanctioned by this Synod, begins with somewhat violent complaints of his heresy, which it was a sacred duty to resist. Then follows the announcement that Nestorius, in case he refuses to depart from his errors within the space of time allowed by Pope Cœlestine, shall be entirely excluded from the number of God’s bishops and priests. It is not sufficient that he acknowledge the Creed of Nicæa, for he understands it in an erroneous and perverse manner, and therefore he must add a written and sworn declaration, that he moreover condemns his (previous) pernicious and unholy assertions, and will in future believe and teach the same as Cyril, as the Synod, and the Bishops of the East and West. This orthodox doctrine is now explained in the following paper, and in the first place the Nicene Creed (without the additions of Constantinople, but along with the Anathema appended against Arianism) is verbally repeated. To this is added a doctrinal discussion of the point of doctrine in question, and it is said: “Following the Confessions of the Fathers, and thus also going along the royal road (βασιλικὴν ὥσπερ ἐρχόμενοι τρίβον), we explain that the only-begotten Logos of God … assumed flesh of the blessed Virgin, made it His own, subjected Himself to human birth, and came forth from the woman as Man, without casting off that which He was, but even in the flesh remaining the same, namely, true God in His nature. And the flesh (= human nature) was not changed into the nature of the Godhead, nor the nature of the divine Logos into that of the flesh, for it is subject to no change. But even as a child and in the mother’s bosom, the Logos at the same time filled the whole world, and was Governor of it along with His Father, for the Godhead has no bounds and limits. If, however, the Logos is hypostatically united with the flesh, then we reverence only one Son and Lord Jesus Christ, and do not sever man and God, nor believe that they are united (συνάπτω) only in dignity and power:—these are new expressions. We do not teach two Christs, of whom the one was the true Logos of God, the other the true Son of the woman, but we know only one Christ, the divine Word, united with that which has become His own flesh (ἕνα μόνον εἰδότες Χριστὸν, τὸν ἐκ Θεοῦ πατρὸς Λόγον μετὰ τῆς ἰδίας σαρκός). Moreover, we do not say that the divine Word dwelt in the man who was born of the holy Virgin, as in an ordinary man, and we do not call Christ a θεοφόρος ἄνθρωπος; for when we say that the fulness of the Godhead dwelt in Christ (Col. 2:9), we do not thereby mean such a dwelling as that of the Godhead in the saints, but that in Christ the Godhead united itself with the manhood κατὰ φύσιν, just as in man the soul is united with the body. There is thus one Christ, one Son and Lord, and not merely by the συνάφεια with the divine dignity and power, by which different natures are not united. Peter and John had equal dignity, for both were apostles and both holy disciples, but yet they were not one Person. Moreover, the expression συνάφεια is not admissible, because it does not clearly indicate the union; nor can we properly say that the divine Logos is the Lord of Christ, since thereby we should again separate the one Lord and Christ. So also we should not say: I reverence Him who is borne (the human nature of Christ) on account of Him who bears Him, the visible on account of the invisible; or, He who is assumed is called God, together with Him who assumed Him; for in this way, too, would. Christ be divided into a God and a man. On the contrary, we must conceive of Christ as One, and honour Him together with the flesh which has become His own. Further, we acknowledge that the only-begotten Son of God is, in His own nature, incapable of suffering, but that, for our sake, He suffered in the flesh, and was in the crucified body, and being free from suffering, He appropriated to Himself the sufferings of His own flesh” (τὰ τῆς ἰδίας σαρκὸς ἀπαθῶς οἰκειουμένης πάθη), and so forth.

That this is the orthodox doctrine, the synodal letter afterwards shows very beautifully by reference to the eucharistic belief, thus: “This very fact, that we acknowledge that the only-begotten Son of God died in the flesh, rose, and ascended into heaven, qualifies us for offering the unbloody sacrifice in the Church, and, by participation in the holy flesh and precious blood of the Redeemer, for receiving the mystical blessing so as to be sanctified. We receive it not as common flesh, nor as the flesh of an eminently sanctified man, or of one who has received dignity by being united with the Logos or by the divine indwelling, but as the true life-giving and proper flesh of the Word. For since He as God is, in His own nature, life, and is become One with His own flesh, so has He imparted to this flesh a life-giving power.” The Synod further explains a series of Scripture passages, to which Nestorius, like the Arians, had appealed. These are the passages of which one class ascribe full divine dignity to Christ, while another class express a limitation and the like. If the Arians had endeavoured from the latter class to prove their theory of subordination, Nestorius, on the other hand, made use of both classes of texts to justify his division of Christ into a Son of man and a Son of God. The Synod, in opposition to this, shows how both classes of texts apply to one and the same Christ, and developes the doctrine of the communicatio idiomatum. When He speaks of Himself according to His Godhead, says the Synod, we refer this to His divine nature; and when He ascribes to Himself human imperfections, we refer these expressions also to the divine Logos, in so far as He has become man, and has voluntarily emptied Himself of His glory; as, for example, when Christ is called an High Priest and the like, or it is said of the Holy Ghost that He has glorified Christ. All such expressions must be assigned to one Person, the one incarnate Hypostasis (Personality) of the Logos. But since the holy Virgin bore, after the flesh, God hypostatically united with the flesh, we call her the God-bearer; yet not as though the nature of the Logos had first taken the beginning of its being from the flesh (the body of Mary), but because the Word, uniting the human hypostatically with Himself, subjected Himself to a fleshly birth from a human mother.

SEC. 132. The Anathematisms of Cyril and the Counter-Anathematisms of Nestorius

At the close of their letter the Synod summed up the whole in the celebrated twelve anathematisms, composed by Cyril, with which Nestorius was required to agree. They are the following:—

1. “If any one does not confess that Emmanuel is true God, and that therefore the holy Virgin is God-bearer, since she bore, after the flesh, the incarnate Word of God, let him be anathema.”

2. “If any one does not confess that the Logos from God the Father hypostatically united Himself with the flesh (= human nature), and with that which has become His own flesh is one Christ, God and man together, let him be anathema.”

3. “If any one separates the hypostases (= natures) as to their unity in the one Christ, connecting them only by a συνάφεια in dignity, power, and appearance, and not rather by a conjunction in physical union (καὶ οὐχὶ δὴ μᾶλλον συνόδῳ τῇ καθʼ ἕνωσιν φυσικὴν), let him be anathema.”

This is the proposition on account of which the Nestorians accused S. Cyril of Monophysitism. But S. Athanasius had already spoken of an ἕνωσις φυσικὴ, and (like the Alexandrian Synod) had spoken of an union κατὰ φύσιν, without thereby intending to signify a mingling or confusion of the two natures in Christ. Rather by that expression did he understand the union of the Godhead and manhood into one Being, or one existence, in which they still remain two distinct elements, which are never mingled, but which are indissolubly connected (see above, p. 3). This mode of expression employed by his great predecessor Cyril now adopted, and understood, as he himself expressly declared in his reply to the polemic of Theodoret of Cyrus, by ἕνωσις φυσικὴ, not an ἕνωσις εἰς μίαν φύσιν, which would certainly be Monophysitism, but only a true, real union, an union into one Being, into one existence, in opposition to a merely moral or external union, such as the Nestorians admitted. In the first words of the anathematism before us Cyril would not and could not in any way deny the duality of natures, for he speaks everywhere of two natures in Christ; but he wishes to reject the separating of them. He distinguishes them indeed, but does not divide them.

4. “If any one divides the expressions which are used in the evangelical and apostolic writings or by the saints, in reference to Christ, or which are by Him applied to Himself, between two Persons (προσώποις) or Hypostases, and specially ascribes the one class to the man, separated from the divine Logos, and the other as divine merely to the Logos, let him be anathema.”

5. “If any one ventures to say that Christ is a man who bears God (θεοφόρον), and not rather, that He is true God, as the One Son in nature, in accordance with the expression: ‘The Word was made flesh’ (S. John 1:14), and ‘He partook of flesh and blood’ (Heb. 2:14); let him be anathema.”

6. “If any one ventures to say that the divine Logos is the God or Lord of Christ, and does not rather confess that one and the same is at the same time God and man, since, according to the Holy Scripture, the Logos became flesh, let him be anathema.”

7. “If any one says that the divine Logos only worked in the man Jesus, and that the glory of the Only-begotten was only conjoined (περιῆφθαι) with Jesus as something foreign; let him be anathema.”

8. “If any one ventures to say that the man assumed is to be reverenced, praised, and acknowledged as God, along with God the Logos, as if the one were separate from the other—for this is the necessary meaning of the word with (σύν) which is always employed (by Nestorius)—and does not rather reverence Emmanuel in one reverence, and direct one praise to Him, as the Word made flesh; let him be anathema.”

9. “If any one says that the one Lord Jesus Christ was glorified by the Spirit, as though the power thus employed, which is through Him, were a foreign one, as though He had first received from the Spirit might over evil demons, and miraculous power, and does not rather regard the Spirit by whom He wrought miracles as His own; let him be anathema.”

10. “If any one says that it was not the divine Logos Himself, when He was made flesh and man, like us, but another than He, a man distinct from Him (ἰδικῶς ἄνθρωπος), who became our High Priest and Apostle (according to Heb. 3:1 and Eph. 5:2); or says that He gave Himself as a sacrifice not for us alone, but also for Himself, although He as the sinless One needed no sacrifice; let him be anathema.”

11. “If any one does not confess that the flesh of the Lord is life-giving, and belongs to the divine Logos as His own, but says that it belongs to another external to Him, who is united with Him only in dignity, or only participates in the divine indwelling; and does not rather hold it to be life-giving, for this reason, as we have said, that it belongs to the Logos, who can make all things live; let him be anathema.”

12. “If any one does not confess that the Word of God suffered in (or after) the flesh, was crucified in the flesh, and tasted death in the flesh, and became the first-born from the dead, since He as God is life and the life-giver; let him be anathema.”

In a second, much shorter, and less important letter to the clergy and laity of Constantinople, the Alexandrian Synod, with Cyril at its head, expresses the hope that Nestorius will now forsake his false doctrines. But the zeal with which he has propagated them in sermons and writings, has made it necessary that Pope Cœlestine should limit him to a certain period for recanting, and no reproach can be brought against Cyril and the Synod on account of the long delay which has already occurred. Those whom they address should, however, hold fast by the orthodox doctrine, and have no communion with Nestorius.

The Synod addressed a third letter to the monks of Constantinople, of similar purport with the preceding, and at the same time sent four commissioners with full authority to Constantinople—two Egyptian Bishops, Theopentus and Daniel; and two of the Alexandrian clergy, Potamon and Macarius, who, on a Sunday, in the Cathedral, solemnly and publicly delivered to Nestorius the synodal letter respecting him, together with the documents from Rome. He gave no answer, but appointed to meet the deputies on the following day; but when this arrived he did not admit them, nor did he give them a written answer, but, on the contrary, stirred up the Emperor Theodosius the younger, so that he endeavoured to frighten Cyril by threats in consequence of his persecution of Nestorius; and further, Nestorius published, on his part, twelve anathematisms, representing Cyril as a heretic. These have been preserved for us only by the Western layman Marius Mercator, who took a great interest in both the Pelagian and the Nestorian controversies, on the orthodox side, and employed his residence for the transaction of business in Constantinople, in translating the sermons and writings of Nestorius into Latin, so as to make them more accessible to the Westerns. The twelve counter-anathematisms of Nestorius, of which each number corresponds with the same number of Cyril’s, are as follow:—

1. “If any one says that Emmanuel is true God, and not rather God with us, that is, that He has united Himself to a like nature with ours, which He assumed from the Virgin Mary, and dwelt in it; and if any one calls Mary the mother of God the Logos, and not rather mother of Him who is Emmanuel; and if he maintains that God the Logos has changed Himself into flesh, which He only assumed in order to make His Godhead visible, and to be found in form as a man, let him be anathema.”

2. “If any one asserts that, at the union of the Logos with the flesh, the divine Essence moved from one place to another; or says that the flesh is capable of receiving the divine nature, and unites this partially with the flesh; or ascribes to the flesh, by reason of its reception of God, an extension to the infinite and boundless, and says that God and man are one and the same in nature; let him be anathema.”

3. “If any one says that Christ, who is also Emmanuel, is One, not (merely) in consequence of connection, but (also) in nature, and does not acknowledge the connection (συνάφεια) of the two natures, that of the Logos and of the assumed manhood, in one Son, as still continuing without mingling; let him be anathema.”

4. “If any one assigns the expressions of the Gospels and apostolic letters, which refer to the two natures of Christ, to one only of those natures, and ascribes even suffering to the divine Logos, both in the flesh and in the Godhead; let him be anathema.”

5. “If any one ventures to say that, even after the assumption of human nature, there is only one Son of God, namely, He who is so in nature (naturaliter filius=Logos), while He (since the assumption of the flesh) is certainly Emmanuel; let him be anathema.”

6. “If any one, after the Incarnation, calls another than Christ the Logos, and ventures to say that the form of a servant is equally with the Logos of God, without beginning and uncreated, and not rather that it is made by Him as its natural Lord and Creator and God, and that He has promised to raise it again in the words: ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will build it up again;’ let him be anathema.”

7. “If any one says that the man who was formed of the Virgin is the Only-begotten, who was born from the bosom of the Father, before the morning star was (Ps. 109:3), and does not rather confess that He has obtained the designation of Only-begotten on account of His connection with Him who in nature is the Only-begotten of the Father; and besides, if any one calls another than the Emmanuel Christ; let him be anathema.”

8. “If any one says that the form of a servant should, for its own sake, that is, in reference to its own nature, be reverenced, and that it is the ruler of all things, and not rather, that (merely) on account of its connection with the holy and in itself universally ruling nature of the Only-begotten, it is to be reverenced; let him be anathema.”

9. “If any one says that the form of a servant is of like nature with the Holy Ghost, and not rather that it owes its union with the Logos which has existed since the conception, to His mediation, by which it wrought miraculous healings among men, and possessed the power of expelling demons; let him be anathema.”

10. “If any one maintains that the Word, who is from the beginning, has become the High Priest and Apostle of our confession, and has offered Himself for us, and does not rather say that it is the work of Emmanuel to be an apostle; and if any one in such a manner divides the sacrifice between Him who united (the Logos) and Him who was united (the manhood), referring it to a common sonship, that is, not giving to God that which is God‘s, and to man that which is man’s; let him be anathema.”

11. “If any one maintains that the flesh which is united with God the Word is by the power of its own nature life-giving, whereas the Lord Himself says, ‘It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing’ (S. John 6:64), let him be anathema.” [He adds, “God is a Spirit” (S. John 4:24). “If, then, any one maintains that God the Logos has in a carnal manner, in His substance, become flesh, and persists in this with reference to the Lord Christ, who Himself after His resurrection said to His disciples, ‘Handle me and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye behold me having’ (S. Luke 24:39); let him be anathema.”]

12. “If any one, in confessing the sufferings of the flesh, ascribes these also to the Logos of God, as to the flesh in which He appeared, and thus does not distinguish the dignity of the natures; let him be anathema.”

One can easily see that Nestorius is here doing battle with windmills, since he ascribes to S. Cyril views which he never held. But, at the same time, he allows his own error in many ways to appear,—his separation of the divine and human in Christ, and his rending of the one Christ in two.

It was, however, not Nestorius merely, but the whole Antiochene school in general, which was dissatisfied with the anathematisms of Cyril, and particularly John, Archbishop of Antioch, Andrew, Bishop of Samosata, and the celebrated Theodoret, Bishop of Cyrus, thought that they detected in them Apollinarian errors, which they opposed in letters and treatises. John of Antioch especially found fault, in a letter to Firmus, Archbishop of Cæsarea, and other Oriental Bishops, with the third anathematism, from its saying that the flesh of Christ was one nature with the Godhead, and that the manhood and Godhead in Christ constitute only one nature. He thus misunderstood the expression ἕνωσις φυσικὴ, and added that he could not believe that this sentence really proceeded from Cyril, and now, in a manner wholly inconsistent with his previous letter to Nestorius, came round to his side, especially as the latter had recently declared his willingness to admit the expression God-bearer in a certain sense. Andrew of Samosata wrote a whole book against the anathematisms of Cyril, and a considerable part of it has been preserved for us in an apologia of Cyril’s directed against it, from which we see that Andrew contested every one of those twelve propositions, but particularly the third, where he professed to see in the expression ἕνωσις φυσικὴ a mingling of the two natures, and consequently monophysitism. Still more weight had the voice of Theodoret, particularly as he combated the anathematisms of Cyril, and not in one treatise only, but in several, written partly of his own accord, and partly at the request of his ecclesiastical superior, the Bishop of Antioch.

Some, and particularly Protestant scholars, for example, Schröckh, Fuchs, and others, have ventured to maintain that Cyril departed at least as far as Nestorius, if not further, from the orthodox line, and that the whole controversy between the two was a mere strife of words, and did not touch the kernel of Christianity. In opposition to this assertion, which is as false as it is superficial, Dr. Gengler expresses himself, in his treatise on the condemnation of Nestorius, in the following admirable manner: “In truth, the controversy by which the Church, after storms which had scarcely been stilled, was shaken anew in the middle of the fifth century, was not merely about a word, but the question had reference to a whole system of doctrinal propositions, which in their organic connection threatened to destroy the kernel of the Christian faith, and to this system the expression θεοτόκος was not adapted. In opposition to this false theory, in which Nestorius was thoroughly entangled, this expression was the very shibboleth of the true Christian doctrine, and had for the doctrinal controversies of the fifth century the same significance as the expression ὁμοούσιος in the Arian controversy. This truth stood plain and clear before the mind of Cyril. He declared, and he was most clearly conscious, that this was the state of the controversy. He compared in the same way, as has already been mentioned, the expression θεοτόκος with ὁμοούσιος, and truly; for just as the great Athanasius saved the Christian doctrine of the Logos by his persistent and energetic defence of the ὁμοούσιος, so Cyril, by his defence of the θεοτόκος, saved the true doctrine of the incarnation of the Logos. This was acknowledged also by his contemporaries; they gave him the commendation which he deserved by calling him a second Athanasius. He was that. With the same clearness as Athanasius, he grasped the real point of the controversy from the very beginning. He was not fighting with shadows. There was no need for his views to grow clearer in the course of the controversy. At the end he maintained nothing different from what he asserted at the beginning, and the confession of faith which he subscribed at the end was not a retractation,—it was nothing but what he had long maintained, but which his opponents, in their passionate blindness, could not or would not acknowledge.”








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