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On the Unity of Christ (Popular Patristics Series)

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In the early fifth century the Christian world was racked by one of the fiercest theological disputes it had known since the Arian crisis of the previous century. The center of debate turned on the nature of the personhood of Christ, and how divine and human characteristics could combine in Jesus without rendering his subjectivity hopelessly divided, or without reducing his authentic humanness to an insubstantiality. These arguments soon polarized into the conflict between two great churches, Alexandria and Constantinople, and their powerful archbishops, St Cyril (d. 444) and Nestorius (d. ca. 452) respectively.

Cyril is, arguably, the most important patristic theologian ever to deal with the issues of Christology. The text here translated is one of his most important and approachable writings, composed in the aftermath of the Council of Ephesus (431) to explain his doctrine to an international audience. He argues here for the single divine presence but fostered and enhanced by it. Accordingly, for St Cyril, Christology becomes a paradigm for the transfigured and redeemed life of the Christian.

This book is essential reading for all those interested in the theology and spirituality of the fathers, in the ancient church’s use of scripture, and the way in which the church once creatively expressed its thinking through the media of philosophy and the natural sciences.

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“We are earthly beings insofar as the curse of corruption has passed from the earthly Adam even to us, and through our corruption the law of sin entered in the members of our flesh. Yet we became heavenly beings, receiving this gift in Christ. He is from God, from on high, and naturally God, yet he came down to our condition in a strange and most unusual manner, and was born of the Spirit, according to the flesh, so that we too might abide in holiness and incorruptibility like him. Clearly grace came upon us from him, as from a new rootstock, a new beginning.” (Page 64)

“The Word did not unite with a man, but with humanity.” (Page 39)

“That it is none other than God the Word, who exists in the form of God the Father, the impress of his very being (Heb 1:3), who is equal in all things to the one who begot him, who has emptied himself out. And what is this ‘emptying out’? It is his life in the form of a slave, in the flesh which he assumes; it is the likeness to us of one who is not as we are in his own nature, since he is above all creation. In this way he humbled himself, economically submitting himself to the limitations of the manhood.” (Page 86)

“We say that there is one Son, and that he has one nature even when he is considered as having assumed flesh endowed with a rational soul. As I have already said, he has made the human element his own. And this is the way, not otherwise, that we must consider that the same one is at once God and man.” (Page 77)

“We must admit, of course, that the body which he united to himself was endowed with a rational soul, for the Word, who is God, would hardly neglect our finer part, the soul, and have regard only for the earthly body.” (Page 64)

Cyril of Alexandria (c. 376 – 444) was the Patriarch of Alexandria from 412 to 444. He came to power when the city was at its height of influence and power within the Roman Empire. Cyril wrote extensively and was a leading protagonist in the Christological controversies of the later 4th and 5th centuries. He was a central figure in the First Council of Ephesus in 431, which led to the deposition of Nestorius as Patriarch of Constantinople.


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    Digital list price: $20.00
    Save $4.01 (20%)