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#1 Daniel Smith

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 03:46 AM

What are the binding or super influential councils for the oriental orthodox after Chalcedon?

#2 Christopher Dombrowski

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 11:00 PM

The Third Council of Ephesus in 475 that I mentioned before was a big one.

The council of Chalcedon was dealt with at 2 councils in the Armenian church. At the first council of Dvin in 506, the Christology of Chalcedon was rejected and communion with the Byzantine church was established on the basis of the Henoticon of Zeno. At the second council of Dvin in 554, communion with the Byzantine church, which had changed its tune on the subject of Chalcedon, was officially severed, whereas communion and alliance with the Syrian church was affirmed.

There was a council held in Manzikert in 721 between the Armenian church and the Syrian church dealing with the reconciliation of the two over the issue of Julianism.

In modern times there was also a meeting of the Coptic, Syrian, Ethiopic, Armenian, and Malankara churches in 1965 in Addis Ababa.

#3 Seda S.

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Posted 29 May 2009 - 04:27 PM

The Third Council of Ephesus in 475 that I mentioned before was a big one.


Unfortunately, I don't know anything about the councils of other oriental churches, but the Third Council of Ephesus is NOT among the councils accepted by the Armenian Church. At least it doesn't exist in our Nomocanon or any of the official lists of councils. The Armenian Church only 'knows' one council of Ephesus, the 1st ecumenical.

As in other cases concerning the Oriental Orthodox Church, one needs to speak about each of the churches of that family separately, as each had their own history, local councils etc.

#4 Christopher Dombrowski

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Posted 29 May 2009 - 07:18 PM

Unfortunately, I don't know anything about the councils of other oriental churches, but the Third Council of Ephesus is NOT among the councils accepted by the Armenian Church. At least it doesn't exist in our Nomocanon or any of the official lists of councils. The Armenian Church only 'knows' one council of Ephesus, the 1st ecumenical.

As in other cases concerning the Oriental Orthodox Church, one needs to speak about each of the churches of that family separately, as each had their own history, local councils etc.


I don't think we are speaking of the same level of ownership of councils here. You seem to be speaking of those councils that the churches had attendance at and in and thus that it considers to be the very councils of its own church body. This was not what I was speaking of, however. I was speaking of those councils that had a high degree of participation by the Oriental Orthodox churches in general, and that are accepted by those churches as probably reflecting their faith. On this level, I think it would be safe to say that the Armenians accept both 2nd Ephesus and 3rd Ephesus as properly representing their faith, though they would not recognize them as Ecumenical Councils or as directly councils of the Armenian church.

#5 Seda S.

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Posted 30 May 2009 - 06:24 AM

I don't think we are speaking of the same level of ownership of councils here. You seem to be speaking of those councils that the churches had attendance at and in and thus that it considers to be the very councils of its own church body.


Dear Christopher

I didn't mean that exactly, because the Church of Armenia didn't have attendance at the other ecumenical councils either, except for the 1st of Nicea, but later received their decisions and by local councils affirmed that she accepts the faiths of them. And there are other, non-ecumenical, non-Armenian councils, like those of Ancyra, Gangra, Laodicea etc that are accepted by my Church and their decisions are part of our Nomocanon. While our Fathers keep silent about the II and III councils of Ephesus.

I think it would be safe to say that the Armenians accept both 2nd Ephesus and 3rd Ephesus as properly representing their faith, though they would not recognize them as Ecumenical Councils or as directly councils of the Armenian church.


I think so: if the Fathers of my Church never said something, I also mustn't say it, especially if I don't have much knowledge on the subject. If I read somewhere in the writings of our own Fathers that those two councils are acceptable for us, I'll repeat them, and it will be safe for me. Otherwise, it is definitely not safe for me to confirm what you say. Even if those councils you are speaking about made decisions (and which they are, I myself don't know, sorry for that) that are acceptable for my Church, this is not yet enough to state 'the Armenians accept both 2nd Ephesus and 3rd Ephesus as properly representing their faith', whether directly or indirectly, as you mention. And if you say those councils 'had a high degree of participation by the Oriental Orthodox churches in general', what do you mean by 'Oriental Orthodox churches' of those times? At least, the Church of Armenia didn't participate in those councils and what does it have for her that some bishops from some other churches gathered together somewhere and made some decisions? Would it be correct to say, for example, that the Copts accept the Council of Manazkert (Manzikert) convened and attended by the Armenian and Syrian bishops? I don't think so.

With love,
Seda

#6 Christopher Dombrowski

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Posted 30 May 2009 - 08:20 PM

Actually, I do think it would be safe to say that the Copts accept the Council of Manzikert as a legitimate council of the Orthodox Church properly representing their faith. They have equally condemned the heresy of Julianism and elevated Severus of Antioch as definer of Oriental Orthodoxy. They probably haven't said anything explicitly about this council within their Church Fathers because they did not participate in it and it did not touch on a controversy that was actually alive in their Church. But I think if you asked any Copt who is aware of the council, they would be willing to say that they accept its decisions. I think the situation with the Armenians and the 2 latter councils of Ephesus would be similar.

#7 Seda S.

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Posted 31 May 2009 - 12:28 PM

Actually, I do think it would be safe to say that the Copts accept the Council of Manzikert as a legitimate council of the Orthodox Church properly representing their faith. They have equally condemned the heresy of Julianism and elevated Severus of Antioch as definer of Oriental Orthodoxy.


No, my dear brother, I have to disappoint you again. Alas, all that you have written above isn't completely true. And the reason is that you haven't yet fully studied the Christology of the OO Churches. At least you are unaware of the Christology of the Armenian Church. And, speaking about the Council of Manazkert, you, of course, don't know about it at all. I'm sure, you or anyone else who states about that council what you have stated in your post, don't know really what was discussed there, why, and what kind of decisions were made there. That's why it is safer for anyone who doesn't know something well enough to not speculate on it from one's own mind or with an information from I don't know what kind of source. It is better first to learn about this matter more.

Frankly speaking, I don't like this thread at all. And I'm just compelled to answer here, against my will, only because I see incorrect things are told about my Church. And this incorrectness doesn't allow me to keep silent and neglect it. So this makes me answer and explain as much as I'm able what is what in reality. Otherwise, I avoid talking on such topics. Christology is not my hobby.

I had already written in this community that there are some differences between the teachings of the different OO Churches. And I had already written that the name of Severus, of that great theologian and teacher of the Coptic and Syriac Churches, was and still is in the list of heretics of the Armenian Church. The reason is his teaching on the 'corruptibility' of the Lord's body and that teaching, at least in the way it was introduced in Armenia by the name of Severus, wasn't and isn't shared by the Armenian Church. His name was mentioned among the heretics already in the 6th century, in the letter of the Armenian Catholicos John II Gabelean (557-571) and the Armenian bishops, addressed to the bishops of the Church of Aluank' (i.e. Caucasian Albania). He is mentioned as a heretic also in the letter of Vrt'anes Kert'ol, the catholicossal vicar (603-606), to the Catholicos of Georgia Kyrion (this is that Kyrion who later accepted the Council of Chalcedon, thus separating finally the Georgian Church from the Armenian and uniting it with the Byzantian Church). In this letter Vrt'anes urges Kyrion to be far also from the teaching of Severus, just in a way one must be far from Marcion, Sabellius and Nestorius. So you see, among whom he is mentioned. One could continue mentioning all the Armenian sources where one sees Severus and his teaching on the 'corruptibily' rejected and considered as heresy.

What happened in the Council of Manazkert the anathemas of which, fortunately, have reached us both in Syriac and in Armenian, show that the teaching of Severus of Antioch on 'corruptibility' is anathematized this time more officially and together with the other extreme view on this subject, known wrongly by the name of Julian of Halicarnas. But the names of both teachers are not mentioned in those anathemas. And the name of Severus is not mentioned, because he is a great father and saint in the Syriac Church. But actually, the Syrians, signing under this document, have anathematized the teaching of their great father, though in the anathema 6 (as one will see below) there were added the words 'in another sense than it was used by the prophets, the apostles, the fathers and the teachers', perhaps wanting to save the situation which was not in favour of the teaching of Severus. But any reader may see that that sentence doesn't help much. That's why, one might say that officially, in the coucil of Manazkert, the Syriac Church herself has rejected the teaching of Severus on the 'corruptibility', but in the real life it is not so. I mean, the Syriacs follow the teaching of Severus in all respects. As for Julian and his teaching, when one reads somewhere that the Armenians have anathematized Julian, one needs to understand not so Julian himself than that wrong teaching, like some kind of docetism, which was later ascribed to Julian, when in reality Julian didn't teach it, he never taught that the Lord's body wasn't real human body, His passions, sufferings etc were not real, etc. Unfortuantely, something like this was usually known as the teaching of Julian. So, that kind of wrong 'Julianism' was rejected by the Armenian Church together with 'severianism'. I should note also that another great Syrian Father, Philoxenus of Mabug, was not 'severian' either and taught like the REAL Julian, not the one who was misunderstood and was wrongly made some kind of docet. If you read studies on the Christology of Philoxenus, you'll understand this.

I'll bring some of the anathemas of the Council of Manazkert (they are ten in whole). I'll bring them from their Syriac version, lest someone says the Armenians later have changed those anathemas. This Syriac version of the decisions of that council is found in the Chronicle of Michael the Syrian.

2. If someone does not confess the Word of God being inhominated from the holy Virgin, uniting to Himself a created and distinct body, that is, saying more precisely, body, soul and mind, but says Christ was manifest in semblance and likeness and not in truth, let him be anathema.

3. If someone says God the Word did not unite to Himself from our mortal, sinful and corruptible body, but from the body that Adam had before his transgression, and that was, by grace, immortal, sinless and incorruptible, let him be anathema.

6. Anyone who says the flesh of Christ is corriptible and not glorified and imperfect according to the union, and thinks He was corruptible, unglorified and imperfect from the womb of His Mother until the resurrection, in another sense than it was used by the prophets, the apostles, the fathers and the teachers*, and that He became incorruptible, glorified and perfect first after the resurrection, let him be anathema.

*) The Armenian version doesn't have the words, 'in another sense than it was used by the prophets, the apostles, the fathers and the teachers'.

7. Anyone who does not confess that the true (?) body of Christ according to nature is passible and mortal, that since He is God, He is impassible and immortal, but says He is passible and mortal in the divine nature and is impassible and immortal in the human nature, let him be anathema.

8. Anyone who does not confess that Christ in the human body bore all human passions, except for sin, but says He is fallen under passions according to the divinity, or says that His body did not experience human passions and a corruptible body experienced them, let him be anathema.

9. Anybody who does not confess that Christ experienced the passions incorruptibly, or considers that the passions are corruption for Him, and <does> not <confess>, as the prophets, the apostles and the orthodox teachers taught, let him be anathema. [/I]

**
Now compare this with some excerpts from the 'Confession of faith' written and published in 2001, in 'Gandzasar' theologiacal review, N 7. This confession is made using the words and expressions of the holy universal Fathers and the Armenian Fathers from their writings. Some of the anathemas of the Council of Manazkert are also used there. This confession of faith represents the Christology of the Armenian Church very well, especially his teaching on the 'incorruptibility'. And a well-learned Copt, who knows the Christology of his Church, will not fully agree with that text, as also with some of the anathemas of the Council of Manazkert.

'... He who is consubstantial with the Father in his Divinity, became consubstantial with us in our humanity, became a true and perfect man, in all things like us, except for sin. Christ bore, as part of the divine plan of salvation (economy of salvation), all human weaknesses, voluntarily bearing our human passions, condemning in them the yeast of sin and freeing us from the condemnation of sin. Consequently works of economy are not only the miracles fitting to God - walking on the water, raising the dead, multiplying the loaves, etc. - but also human frailties - thirst, fatigue, weeping, etc. When the Lord performed a divine miracle, he performed it as God and man, so that humans might likewise become a participant in those Divine works. And when He bore human weaknesses, He went through them not as one condemned, like ordinary mortals, but rather as God and man, with a liberating strength, and freed us from the bonds of evil. Every moment of Christ's life on earth, beginning from the Holy Conception through the glorious and miraculous Resurrection, is the economy of salvation and is not accidental.

Christ willingly, without being corrupted, and without being forced or compelled by nature, experienced all the innocent or irreproachable human passions. The Word God did not take the nature of Adam as originally created, but our fallen nature, our corrupted body and our sinful soul and mind, and uniting them with Him, He separated corruption from the body and sin from the soul and mind. Therefore we confess that the Lord's body is incorruptible, not by nature, but by this ineffable union. Likewise, we confess that Christ's body was by nature subject to suffering and mortality, however, because of the economy of union, it was not subject to suffering and was immortal....' etc etc. (Then it speaks about his sufferings and death on the cross etc. etc).

I hope, this information helps to understand that not everything that is peculiar to the Armenian Church, including her councils, can be fully shared by the other oriental Churches.

I have a request, Christopher. Now I'm really very busy and it takes much time for me to write these posts. Pls write about other oriental churches, whichever you know better, but not about the Armenian Church, I beg you as a sister in Christ. Lest you write again something not very correct and compel me by that to come back to this thread. I really don't want it. I become tired of such topics very soon. And now I'm almost exhausted. Sorry for that.

With love :))),
S.

Edited by Seda S., 31 May 2009 - 12:36 PM.
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#8 Christopher Dombrowski

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Posted 31 May 2009 - 08:36 PM

Seda,

I think you may very well have made your point about Severus of Antioch and the Christology surrounding his writings and their status in the Armenian church. However, I do think that probably you were a tad overly harsh in your perception of my understandings about the Armenian church and her teachings. I received this information from what seemed to be reliable sources on the topic, not simply speculating as to what were the teachings of the Armenian church. First was The Council of Chalcedon Re-Examined by Father V.C. Samuel of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church. And second was from another member of the Armenian church on an Oriental Orthodox forum. As such, I think you made your point about the status of Severus and Julian and their teachings, but I don't know that some of your harsh comments were really justified.

Blessings in Christ,
Cyril

#9 Ryan

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Posted 01 June 2009 - 02:23 PM

If the Armenian church considers the Christology of Severus to be heretical, while the Copts and Syrians proudly uphold it, doesn't that pose a serious problem for "Oriental Orthodox" ecclesiology?

#10 Christopher Dombrowski

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Posted 01 June 2009 - 09:00 PM

If the Armenian church considers the Christology of Severus to be heretical, while the Copts and Syrians proudly uphold it, doesn't that pose a serious problem for "Oriental Orthodox" ecclesiology?


That's what I've been wondering about alot lately. It seems to pose the possibility that the Armenian church is technically heretical in relation to mainstream Severian Oriental Orthodoxy, and thus that the rest of the Oriental churches should probably not be in full communion with the Armenian church.

#11 Seda S.

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Posted 02 June 2009 - 04:28 AM

If the Armenian church considers the Christology of Severus to be heretical, while the Copts and Syrians proudly uphold it, doesn't that pose a serious problem for "Oriental Orthodox" ecclesiology?


from Christopher

That's what I've been wondering about alot lately. It seems to pose the possibility that the Armenian church is technically heretical in relation to mainstream Severian Oriental Orthodoxy, and thus that the rest of the Oriental churches should probably not be in full communion with the Armenian church.



Dear Ryan and Christopher

As one can see from the decisions of the above-mentioned council, OFFICIALLY, the Syriac church CAN'T be a follower of the teaching of Severus, as they themselves have anathematized it together with the Armenians. The Ethiopian Church is NOT a follower of the teaching of Severus. There remains the Coptic Church. But the Christology of the Coptic Church of today is NOT fully Severian in some other issue, concerning not this corruptibility-incorruptibility matter, but something else.

So, in reality, NONE of the Oriental Orthodox Churches is purely the follower of the teaching of Severus of Antioch today.

The confession of faith of the Armenian Church is well-known to the other Oriental Churches, for example, that confession which was published in 'Gandzasar' theological review (part of which I showed in my last post) and that wasn't published secretly, of course. It was even given to all the participants of one of the meetings of the theologians-bishops of the Oriental Churches and perhaps they have discussewd it. And in the beginning of the 20th century a good book about the relations between the Armenian and Syrian Churches was published in German, written by one of our Vardapets, Erwand Ter-Minassian. He writes about Severus, corruptibility-incorruptibility issue and the council of Manazkert in details. So what I wrote about the Armenian Church above is not news.

This means, that the authorities of the Oriental Churches, their theologians, bishops etc understand better than me, at least, what is acceptible for them, what not. And if they want, they can discuss this problem with each other and come to some conclusion, if they want. No one has forbidden this to them. They always meet each other, discuss this or that issue, so they know what they do. While we, the simple believers of these churches, can be only thankful to God that we are in communion with each other and we don't call each other heretics and send each other out from our churches. This might be a mystery for those who so easily call schismatics or even heretics their brothers in faith even for some tiny issues. At least tiny in my eyes. So that is a mystery for me.

And my words concerning the anathematization of Severus were not harsh at all, dear Christopher. I just wrote the truth. Nothing more, nothing less. And that truth never makes me, frankly speaking, to have some 'bad feelings' towards Severus of Antioch. I would be very happy if not only Severus of Antioch, that great theologian, but also any other human being, were not anathematized by any of the Churches. There is a wonderful treatise by St John Chrysostom (sorry, forgot what the title of it is) where he explains that only the wrong teachings must be anathematized, not the persons, as we don't know how God will judge them, and we are not judges instead of and before Him. What a pity that no one (from the Church authorities) has ever paid attention to those wonderful words of St John... :(

As for the answers in that forum for which you gave the link, dear Christopher, unfortunately, the folk there, especially the Armenians, as I could see, are mostly ignorant in this subject. If you noticed, they even don't know why, for which teaching, Severus was anathematized by our Church. And this is the case perhaps with the 90% of Armenians. Most of Armenians may not even know who Severus is, or what is that corruptibility-incorruptibility issue, and what is the position of the Armenian Church in that. It is strange for you? And it could be strange again for many people that perhaps no other Church has so many anathemas as the Armenian Church has and yet no other Church is so tolerant and loving towards all kinds of Christians on this earth, as the Armenian Church is. The Armenians open the doors of their Church before every one, heretics, not heretics (and who are heretics for Armenians in the real life, not in the documents? No one, believe me). They give Communion even to everyone who really wants it. Every one is a brother for them, sincerely. Don't you believe me? Try it yourself and you'll see the result. And what are church rules, decisions, anathemas and the like for them? Rules? You know such a word? Huh? And that burden is for an Armenian? :) There could be rules to not love and accept someone, a Christian, as a brother? For some Christology ununderstandable issues? For 'Chalcedon'-shmalcedon? For council decisions? And all such things also concern the Armenians?...

Just be careful, don't tread on what is holy for them...

I know, this is unacceptable or at least ununderstandable for you. But to understand the Armenians, their psychology, their actions, is something impossible. That is something one must never do and I don't recommend you too to do it. You'll go just to nowhere, as they themselves dont understand themselves (perhaps the other Orientals have also tried to do this and... left everything as it was. Let's live and see what will happen tomorrow) :)))

With love as always,
Seda

Edited by Seda S., 02 June 2009 - 04:44 AM.


#12 Seda S.

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Posted 02 June 2009 - 09:30 AM

This is so bad, my answers in this thread are the longest ones. Sorry for that and for my unseriousness in the last post. Now I'll be more serious.

Dear Christopher, I forgot to answer concerning the book by V.Samuel that you have mentioned. I know that book, I have read some parts of it, those which interested me more. I noticed, sadly, that Samuel, I can't understand how, has introduced one side of the chrystology of Severus and of generally the miaphysite churches (concerning the person/hypostasis 'problem') in a way that is not in reality the understanding of that matter in these churches. So A has become B in Samuel's book and starting perhaps from him, also in other theologians writings. Now B is popularized and introduced as the teaching of the Oriental Churches. While I read the words of Severus and see he says something else, he speaks about A, not B. And I know that that A is the teaching also of the Armenian Fathers, I have read that it is the teaching of the Ethiopian church too. So how A now became B, I can't understand. I can guess only that perhaps one of the Samuel's purposes was the reconciliation of the miaphysite and chalcedonic christologies as much as it's possible. And I can see that tendency also in others. As if, if A becomes B, these two christological systems will be the same and differ only in terminology. And some people really think so and work in this direction. I don't understand this. My heart doesn't accept this. I guess again that perhaps the purpose of this is the desire for the union between the churches. The union is good, of course (who would not like to see it one day?), but I, personally, love and accept with my heart and mind the Christology of my Church and would not like it to be changed artificially and contrary to the real teaching of our Fathers. My only desire is to not anathematize, not judge any Christian who understands and confesses the wonderful Incarnation of our Lord in a little bit different way. And I heartily believe that no christological system or explanation of the MYSTERY of Incarnation is perfect in any of the churches. That which is beyond human understanding and ration can't be put in perfect verbal formulae. As for who will accept me and my Church as true Christian and orthodox, if I or we hold fast to the teaching of our Fathers, I don't care. I only care about not losing the fear of God, not sinning against my conscience, being faithful to my faith, to not judge anyone, leaving all judgements to God, and to love every one who has the name of Christ my Lord in his heart and forhead.

#13 Michael Dwyer

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Posted 30 December 2010 - 09:11 PM

Dear Seda,

Is the "Confession of Faith" from the Gandzasar' Theological Review you mentioned available in English anywhere?

With thanks,

Michael

#14 Mina Soliman

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Posted 02 April 2014 - 06:19 PM

Forgive me for resurrecting this topic, as I was searching through old topics. I'd first like to thank Seda for translating the anathemas and concluding definition of Manazkert. What amazes me is that I think Seda does not realize that Manazkert in its anathamas and definition actually condemns Julian of Halicarnassus and confirms Severus of Antioch. Julian was condemned for believing that the humanity of Christ was incorruptible by nature and confessing a human nature of Adam post-Fall that is not consubstantial to the human nature of Adam pre-Fall. Severus showed that both post and pre-Fall humanity is corruptible by nature, but what is changed is grace. Thus, in fact, the Armenian council of Manazkert is Severian in its teaching, whether Seda realizes this or not based on the translation Seda provided, to which I am most indebted.

God bless.

Mina

Edited by Mina Soliman, 02 April 2014 - 06:20 PM.


#15 Antonios

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Posted 03 April 2014 - 12:38 PM

According to Eastern Orthodoxy, the humanity of Christ is NOT corruptible by nature. That is a post-lapsarian understanding of Christ's human nature which is not consistent with the Patristic teachings. Rather, Christ voluntarily allowed the consequences of the fall to assail Him. However, by nature as perfect God and perfect Man, Christ' human nature was not corruptible.

A very good book on this which I am currently reading is called "Jesus: Fallen?'

#16 Mina Soliman

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Posted 03 April 2014 - 02:07 PM

It sounds like an opposition to St. Athanasius though. In "On the Incarnation", man (in fact ALL CREATION) is by nature corruptible. Only when united to God (and since God is the only one who is by nature immortal and incorruptible), is when man transcends his very own natural capabilities, as St. Athanasius writes, the presence of the Word with them shielded them even from natural corruption, as also Wisdom says: God created man for incorruption and as an image of His own eternity; but by envy of the devil death entered into the world." You can find the nuance also when he describes the flesh Christ took:

He took our body, and not only so, but He took it directly from a spotless, stainless virgin, without the agency of human father—a pure body, untainted by intercourse with man. He, the Mighty One, the Artificer of all, Himself prepared this body in the virgin as a temple for Himself, and took it for His very own, as the instrument through which He was known and in which He dwelt. Thus, taking a body like our own, because all our bodies were liable to the corruption of death, He surrendered His body to death instead of all, and offered it to the Father. This He did out of sheer love for us, so that in His death all might die, and the law of death thereby be abolished because, having fulfilled in His body that for which it was appointed, it was thereafter voided of its power for men. This He did that He might turn again to incorruption men who had turned back to corruption, and make them alive through death by the appropriation of His body and by the grace of His resurrection. Thus He would make death to disappear from them as utterly as straw from fire.

And again here:

In order to effect this re-creation, however, He had first to do away with death and corruption. Therefore He assumed a human body, in order that in it death might once for all be destroyed, and that men might be renewed according to the Image. The Image of the Father only was sufficient for this need.

And here:

You must know, moreover, that the corruption which had set in was not external to the body but established within it. The need, therefore, was that life should cleave to it in corruption's place, so that, just as death was brought into being in the body, life also might be engendered in it. If death had been exterior to the body, life might fittingly have been the same. But if death was within the body, woven into its very substance and dominating it as though completely one with it, the need was for Life to be woven into it instead, so that the body by thus enduing itself with life might cast corruption off. Suppose the Word had come outside the body instead of in it, He would, of course, have defeated death, because death is powerless against the Life. But the corruption inherent in the body would have remained in it none the less. Naturally, therefore, the Savior assumed a body for Himself, in order that the body, being interwoven as it were with life, should no longer remain a mortal thing, in thrall to death, but as endued with immortality and risen from death, should thenceforth remain immortal. For once having put op corruption, it could not rise, unless it put on life instead; and besides this, death of its very nature could not appear otherwise than in a body. Therefore He put on a body, so that in the body He might find death and blot it out. And, indeed, how could the Lord have been proved to be the Life at all, had He not endued with life that which was subject to death? Take an illustration. Stubble is a substance naturally destructible by fire; and it still remains stubble, fearing the menace of fire which has the natural property of consuming it, even if fire is kept away from it, so that it is not actually burnt. But suppose that, instead of merely keeping the fire from it somebody soaks the stubble with a quantity of asbestos, the substance which is said to be the antidote to fire. Then the stubble no longer fears the fire, because it has put on that which fire cannot touch, and therefore it is safe. It is just the same with regard to the body and death. Had death been kept from it by a mere command, it would still have remained mortal and corruptible, according to its nature. To prevent this, it put on the incorporeal Word of God, and therefore fears neither death nor corruption any more, for it is clad with Life as with a garment and in it corruption is clean done away.

It doesn't make sense therefore that Christ took a body not liable to death. It is true He voluntarily died, but He still had to die and experience the corruptions of the body, like pain and hunger. If the body is "naturally" incorruptible and immortal, then it is not liable to death and the fallen state of the blameless passions. It thus becomes an act, pretending to die or pretending to suffer. That is why Julian's beliefs were labeled "aphthartodocetism", because it pretty much turned Christ's human nature into a "real body" with no real human characteristics.

By the hypostatic union, yes, the flesh of Christ was made incorruptible and immortal, but by nature it is STILL liable to corruption and mortality. Otherwise, it will not be able to die and to experience all its human energies and wills. I thought the EOs were champions of this later on in the 6th council! It would be a shame that I find some EOs would believe in a Julian Christology.

All Severus of Antioch did was show Julian his wrong presuppositions. The nature of the flesh did not change pre-fall and post-fall. It was the presence of God in it that changed. That's key. That's why Christ's flesh is considered immortal and incorruptible because it's God's very own flesh, but not because the flesh is "by nature" in that fashion. It's just like calling a saint "divine", but they're not by nature "divine", but by grace.

Edited by Mina Soliman, 03 April 2014 - 02:15 PM.


#17 Mina Soliman

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Posted 03 April 2014 - 02:20 PM

One of the arguments used by Julian was that Christ had to be born of a Virgin so that he doesn't inherit corruptible flesh tainted by the guilt of Adam. Sounds familiar? It is here that Severus actually refutes this notion of inherent guilt and gives the reason for the virgin birth not as removal of corruptibility, since the presence of the Word can do that anywhere, but because Christ had to be the first born of all salvation. Here we find Severus actually refuting some tenets of Augustinian theology as is found within Julian.

Here also you see that Severus stresses the importance of a real human flesh, fully consubstantial with us that through this flesh we may partake of the divine nature. For if flesh is by nature incorruptible, there is no need to partake of the divine nature.

 

We as OOs are in need of a translation of Severus' writings against Julian, because it sound a lot like some of the theological East/West discussions that occur today.  He is a great synthesizer of previous Church fathers for the OOs.


Edited by Mina Soliman, 03 April 2014 - 02:26 PM.


#18 Antonios

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Posted 03 April 2014 - 03:28 PM

The Orthodox understanding (and this is also true for the Oriental Orthodox) is that Christ's human nature is pre-lapsarian, that is, human nature prior to the fall.  This is the consensus of the Fathers and the 700 page book I referenced above has so many quotes from the Fathers attesting to this that I cannot list them all.  I will simply say that it is very clear that the orthodox understanding is that Christ's human nature, as perfect man, was indeed not by nature subject to the consequences of the fall.  Rather, the blameless passions that we see, the characteristics of human weaknesses as well with regards to bodily needs and such, Christ did not have by nature but rather voluntarily allowed them to affect Him. 

 

So to address a quote above from St. Athanasius:

 

Thus, taking a body like our own, because all our bodies were liable to the corruption of death, He surrendered His body to death instead of all, and offered it to the Father.

 

You see he states He 'surrendered His body' to death, which ties in with the understanding that Christ died not by the wounds He suffered, but because He willingly surrendered His body to death. 

 

But here is one quote that even better explains it and is from Serverus (Letter to Oecumenius):
 

 

For, though it is said that He hungered and thirsted, and slept and grew weary after a journey, and wept and feared, these things did not happen to Him just as they do to us in accordance with compulsory ordinances of nature; but He Himself voluntarily permitted His flesh to walk according to the laws of nature, for He sometimes allowed it even to undergo its own passions.

 

This too are the teachings of St. Cyril of Alexandria.

 

The post-lapsarian view of Christ's human nature has become popular in the recent history of Christianity, especially in the Protestant world, and has infiltrated the thought of even some Orthodox writers and theologians, but the ancient, orthodox, patristic teaching is that Christ's human nature is pre-lapsarian.


Edited by Antonios, 03 April 2014 - 03:31 PM.


#19 Mina Soliman

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Posted 03 April 2014 - 03:42 PM

But in St. Athanasius, the there is no difference in the essential human nature pre or post Fall.  It's what is attained by grace.  The presence of the Word, being lost to Adam lead him to be subject to corruption and death.

 

Christ is the Word, so yes, His flesh was not subject to death or corruption, but it was still naturally mortal and corruptible, "interwoven" as St. Athanasius taught with the divine nature, that is clad with life.  It is made incorruptible and immortal not from its own nature but because of the unity with the divine nature.  That's the key issue.

 

Protestant soteriology takes into effect that Christ's flesh was by nature incorruptible.  Therefore, there's a essential change in human nature, one that is not consubstantial with ours.  And there is no real deification in this, since it's only a mere change of humanity, not a unity with the divine.


Edited by Mina Soliman, 03 April 2014 - 03:43 PM.


#20 Antonios

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Posted 03 April 2014 - 06:17 PM

I will respond in full later as I am at work, but in the meantime, the quote above by Serverus is the orthodox understanding, stated very precisely.

Edited by Antonios, 03 April 2014 - 06:18 PM.





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