“A third simile of the ancient church is that of the soul united with its body. Justin gave this to the ancient church even before it was used by his age. Athanasius explains it this way: ‘Just as a rational soul and the flesh make up one man, so God and man are the one Christ.’ And Cyril in his Conciliar Epistle says ‘The Logos made a habitation for Himself in the assume nature in the same way that the soul of man is believed to have its own body.’ Augustine says of this simile: ‘Although it does not correspond perfectly, yet it is a good simile, excellent for explaining a matter which is difficult but necessary for our understanding; for it uses things which are easy and familiar to our minds.’ And from this figure we have come to use as equivalents the terms essence, nature or person (υποστασις or υφισταμενον) with reference to the incarnation of Christ.”

Martin Chemnitz, The Two Natures in Christ, 90.

But this is what leads the heretics astray, viz., that they look upon nature and subsistence as the same thing. For when we speak of the nature of men as one, observe that in saying this we are not looking to the question of soul and body. For when we compare together the soul and the body it cannot be said that they are of one nature. But since there are very many subsistences of men, and yet all have the same kind of nature: for all are composed of soul and body, and all have part in the nature of the soul, and possess the essence of the body, and the common form: we speak of the one nature of these very many and different subsistences; while each subsistence, to wit, has two natures, and fulfils itself in two natures, namely, soul and body.

But a common form cannot be admitted in the case of our Lord Jesus Christ. For neither was there ever, nor is there, nor will there ever be another Christ constituted of deity and humanity, and existing in deity and humanity at once perfect God and perfect man. And thus in the case of our Lord Jesus Christ we cannot speak of one nature made up of divinity and humanity, as we do in the case of the individual made up of soul and body. For in the latter case we have to do with an individual, but Christ is not an individual. For there is no predicable form of Christlihood, so to speak, that He possesses. And therefore we hold that there has been a union of two perfect natures, one divine and one human; not with disorder or confusion, or intermixture, or commingling, as is said by the God-accursed Dioscorus and by Eutyches and Severus, and all that impious company: and not in a personal or relative manner, or as a matter of dignity or agreement in will, or equality in honour, or identity in name, or good pleasure, as Nestorius, hated of God, said, and Diodorus and Theodorus of Mopsuestia, and their diabolical tribe: but by synthesis; that is, in subsistence, without change or confusion or alteration or difference or separation, and we confess that in two perfect natures there is but one subsistence of the Son of God incarnate; holding that there is one and the same subsistence belonging to His divinity and His humanity, and granting that the two natures are preserved in Him after the union, but we do not hold that each is separate and by itself, but that they are united to each other in one compound subsistence. For we look upon the union as essential, that is, as true and not imaginary. We say that it is essential moreover, not in the sense of two natures resulting in one compound nature, but in the sense of a true union of them in one compound subsistence of the Son of God, and we hold that their essential difference is preserved. For the created remaineth created, and the uncreated, uncreated: the mortal remaineth mortal; the immortal, immortal: the circumscribed, circumscribed: the uncircumscribed, uncircumscribed: the visible, visible: the invisible, invisible. ‘The one part is all glorious with wonders: while the other is the victim of insults.’

Moreover, the Word appropriates to Himself the attributes of humanity: for all that pertains to His holy flesh is His: and He imparts to the flesh His own attributes by way of communication in virtue of the interpenetration of the parts one with another, and the oneness according to subsistence, and inasmuch as He Who lived and acted both as God and as man, taking to Himself either form and holding intercourse with the other form, was one and the same. Hence it is that the Lord of Glory is said to have been crucified although His divine nature never endured the Cross, and that the Son of Man is allowed to have been in heaven before the Passion, as the Lord Himself said the Lord of Glory is one and the same with Him Who is in nature and in truth the Son of Man, that is, Who became man, and both His wonders and His sufferings are known to us, although His wonders were worked in His divine capacity, and His sufferings endured as man. For we know that, just as is His one subsistence, so is the essential difference of the nature preserved. For how could difference be preserved if the very things that differ from one another are not preserved? For difference is the difference between things that differ. In so far as Christ’s natures differ from one another, that is, in the matter of essence, we hold that Christ unites in Himself two extremes: in respect of His divinity He is connected with the Father and the Spirit, while in respect of His humanity He is connected with His mother and all mankind. And in so far as His natures are united, we hold that He differs from the Father and the Spirit on the one hand, and from the mother and the rest of mankind on the other. For the natures are united in His subsistence, having one compound subsistence, in which He differs from the Father and the Spirit, and also from the mother and us.”

St. John of Damascus, On the Orthodox Faith, 3,3.

14 Responses to Oops!?

  1. RiverC says:

    Ohh! Thanks. I’ll let that stew around.

  2. RiverC,
    I mean that souls are natural things. They are personal as well, but they aren’t rooted in the person but rather in the nature, like the will. This is why Christ has TWO souls. The soul is present IN the person and the person uses the powers of the soul. But the soul is not the person.

    Contrary to how most people think these days. The soul is not the person, and there is no such thing as a ‘guilty soul’ nor do we pray to the souls of the departed. We pray to the person that has departed the body.

    Implication is that you have two kinds of traducianism in the Fathers and one kind of traducianism (i.e. the crude kind in Tertullian) that soul = person leads to the unnecessary doctrine of creationism of souls. For if soul = person and we receive this from Adam as in all souls or persons are contained in him, then you have the doctrine of inherited guilt in the Ancestral Sin. However, if soul does not equal person and is rather a NATURAL part of human nature it explains in a much stronger way of why we receive a corrupted humanity (i.e. dissolution and death) not to mention the Christological ramifications of the former (i.e. Apollinarianism). Augustine couldn’t really make up his mind on this question, but he did lean partially toward the Tertullian kind rather than being aware of the Christological solution.

    Another problem with creationism is that it has a problem explaining how one can be guilty (if we assume for the sake of argument this gloss on original sin) and God creating a new soul at conception. I believe creationism is a solution to a problem that was at its very roots confusing the categories of person and nature on this question, starting with Tertullian.

  3. RiverC says:

    Photios, can you clarify your comment about souls? I see that they are natural (as opposed to something super-natural, I’m guessing? – thus there is a human soul and body to Christ while also being Divine) but what follows that I’m not able to parse.


  4. Linux. GHD + Windows = $ > GHD = 😦

  5. photios says:

    What are you on? A MAC? Can’t you get a Windows emulator?


  6. I desperately want to read GHD, but money and not running Windows stop me every time… *sigh*

  7. photios says:

    McGuckin’s book on Cyril. St. Justianin’s work (On the Person of Christ, which might be the best bang for your buck), Maximus’ Dialogue with Pyrrhus, and Joseph P. Farrell’s sections on Nestorianism in God, History, and Dialectic.


  8. My understanding of Nestorianism is rather poor. What reading would you recommend on the topic?

  9. photios says:

    Notice the other thing here about what St. John says that is often overlooked. Souls are NATURAL things. In other words, Peter, James, and John, are not three souls but are yet one soul or partake of the same Soul (in that the soul of man is uniquely enhypostasized).

  10. photios says:

    Can’t see why your exposition is Nestorian. The division of nature and theose properties of those natures doesn’t give you Nestorianism. It’s when you make the division and then think that a person IS a nature and all its properties that Nestorianism ensues.


  11. I’ve reflected a bit more (and probably strayed into heresy). Here are my thoughts, please correct me where I am wrong.

    We are mortal in the sense that we are created out of nothing (“By nature, of course, man is mortal, since he was made from nothing; but he bears also the Likeness of Him Who is, and if he preserves that Likeness through constant contemplation, then his nature is deprived of its power and he remains incorrupt.” – On the Incarnation). The nature of all beings is nothingness, having been created from nothing by the grace of God who exists without contingency. Having separated ourselves from His likeness, we no longer participate in His life and therefore return to our nature, namely nothingness. Our mortality is thus expressed in the fact that any existence we have is a contingent existence as opposed to God’s which is intrinsic.

    It is not potentia which determines our mortality, since we have potentia for both immorality as well as death.

    Since, the flesh of Christ was created, it is proper to call him mortal. However, since this mortality is united to the hypostatis of the Logos, it would not taste death apart from violence due to its participation in uncreated grace in the hypostatic union. Hence, Christ has assumed and healed the ancestral curse. Yet the eternal life of the flesh of Christ is still contingent upon the hypostatic union, and is therefore “mortal” even though the bond will never be dissolved (hence, the potentia for death is removed, nevertheless, the flesh is still mortal).

    Thus, Christ is rightly called both immortal and immortal, since according to his divine nature He is of one essence with the Father, yet His flesh’s eternality is contingent upon the hypostatic union.

    I still don’t quite understand how this is not Nestorian, which I guess is my fundamental question. Perhaps someone can address that for me.

  12. photios says:

    That sounds about right, but I think the Father’s are pretty clear that Christ took on corruption and death and did so knowingly in becoming incarnate, and the voluntary part is that he chose the particular way of His death. He chose it freely before the ages in that he became incarnate in a fallen human nature. He was going to be become incarnate anyways, but being in Adam’s line, Adam predetermined the kind of nature that Christ (and all of us) would have.

  13. RiverC says:

    As I recall, Nate, the ancestral curse is not a part of human nature, but is a defect upon it. Just as a baby would not inherit a wound, neither would Christ inherit the ancestral curse by having a human nature. The ancestral curse would be closer to the mother having a disease or a genetic defect; of which a particular mother might give to her child, but that is not given in general just by being a human.

    But then, the notion of the mortal staying mortal – I do not know if this means ‘able to die’ rather than ‘will die’. Though in Christ’s case it appears that his death in any case was not because he was subject to necessity, but because he freely chose it from before the ages.

    I should think that Adam even though he would not die had he stayed in communion with God, still was able to die, which was exemplified by what happened when he fell. Therefore, it would seem to me that while death is unnatural, the ability to die, is not. But I think this what is meant by us being immortal by grace; Musashi was undefeatable by grace and not by nature; he was human and thus able to be defeated in single combat. That does not mean he ever was.

    This might be wrong, or I may be mucking up the analogies. Feel free to correct.

  14. “the mortal remaineth mortal”

    Forgive my ignorance. Are we to take from this that the ancestral curse is assumed in the flesh of Christ and yet not healed? Of course the answer is no, but this formula seems to lean in that direction (unless I’m missing something, which is quite probable).

    Thanks for patronizing a ignorant fool. 🙂

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