Nestorius and cyril
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Nestorius and Cyril. Background. Nicea Arius condemned Son is of the same substance (homo-ousios) as the Father Does not end the debate Arian bishops, emperors continue Objections to Nicea “homoousios” not biblical Sounds Sabellian; better to say Son is of like substance (homoi-ousios)

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Nestorius and Cyril

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Nestorius and cyril

Nestorius and Cyril


Background

Background

  • Nicea

    • Arius condemned

    • Son is of the same substance (homo-ousios) as the Father

  • Does not end the debate

    • Arian bishops, emperors continue

    • Objections to Nicea

      • “homoousios” not biblical

      • Sounds Sabellian; better to say Son is of like substance (homoi-ousios)

      • Is divine Logos the soul of Christ?


Nestorius ca 381 451

Nestorius (ca. 381-451)

  • Agrees with Nicea

    • Chidester, 143: all agreed on divinity of Christ, but differed in views of Christ’s humanity

  • Bishop of Constantinople, 428-431

    • eastern capital of the Roman empire and one of the five major churches

  • Provokes a major controversy by objecting to a popular liturgical practice: why?


Terms

Terms

  • Nature (Greek: Physis): what all beings of a species share. Can only exist as instantiated in a person.

    • Example: Human nature, dog nature, divine nature

  • Person (Greek: Hypostasis): individual instantiation of a nature.

    • A person must also have a nature; nature only exists as instantiated in persons.

    • Example: Paul and Mattea; Rover and Fluffy


Theotokos controversy

Theotokos controversy

  • Liturgy: people called Mary “the God-bearer” (Grk. Theotokos)

    • Lex orandi, lex credendi: The law of prayer shapes the law of belief

  • Nestorius objects to theotokos: why?

    • God was not born at a point in time

    • Need to distinguish human and divine natures of Christ

    • Like Athanasius, just as Logos suffered “in the flesh”, so Christ, not God, was born of Mary

    • Must be careful with language to avoid heresies (God suffers)


Cyril of alexandria ca 375 444

Cyril of Alexandria (ca. 375-444)

  • Bishop of Alexandria

    • Ambitious

    • Wanted to assert Alexandria’s authority over Constantinople

  • Cyril defends theotokos. Issue: who is the subject/person in Jesus, the Word Incarnate?

    • CC 27: While remaining God, , the Logos took on, became subject of, human life

    • Once human and divine have been united, cannot be separated, because there is one subject

    • Hypostatic union: two natures united in one person

    • Union is essential to salvation—why?

  • Cyril misrepresents Nestorius


Results

Results

  • Ephesus, 431

    • Affirms Theotokos

    • Nestorius resigns as bishop

  • 431-451: debate continues, Pope Leo I steps in

  • 451: Council of Chalcedon settles problem

    • Provides conceptual and terminological precision

    • Yet, plenty of room for thought and debate remain

  • But, Nestorian churches still exist


For next time

For next time

  • Pope Leo I

    • What ideas (of Eutyches) does Leo reject, and why?

    • How does he define person and natures?

  • Council of Chalcedon (451)

    • In what ways does the council strike a middleground between Cyril and Nestorius?

    • How does the council try to balance discussion of human and divine natures?


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