Severus of Antioch
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Severus of Antioch (459-538 A.D.) was the Patriarch of Antioch, and head of the Syriac Orthodox Church, from 512 until his death in 538. The Syriac Orthodox Church is part of Oriental Orthodoxy, upholding the Miaphysite Christological doctrine following it’s schism from the greater Catholic Church after the Council of Chalcedon in 451. Severus studied theology in Alexandria and lived as a monk in Palestine before being ordained a priest. He was a leading proponent of miaphysitism, a Christological perspective that viewed Jesus Christ’s human and divine natures as being united through the Incarnation in a single nature. Proponents of miaphysitism rejected the position that had been accepted at the Council of Chalcedon in 451, which held that Christ’s two natures were distinct. In the council’s wake, many miaphysites were dismissed or even condemned as advocates of monophysitism—the perspective that Christ’s divine nature had subsumed his inconsequential human nature—a charge that they strenuously denied.
Severus went to Constantinople in 509 to answer to heresy charges. While at Constantinople, Severus became a confidant of the Byzantine emperor Anastasius, who nominated him to be patriarch of Antioch in 512. With Severus’s accession to this post, the miaphysites came into full control of Antioch. But with the succession of the emperor Justin I (518–527), who enforced a uniform Chalcedonian Christian orthodoxy throughout the empire, Severus was forced to flee to Egypt, where he took refuge with Timothy IV, the miaphysite patriarch of Alexandria. Severus emerged as the leader of the miaphysite Coptic churches in Egypt and Syria. At the beginning of Justinian I’s reign, Severus regained his patriarchal office, but in 535 he again had to flee to Egypt, where he went into final retirement.
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“When a man looks at you, O Mother of God and Virgin, and at the divine mystery that came about in you by a miracle, he closes himself in silence because of the unspeakableness of it and, full of wonder, is moved to offer praises because of the greatness of the One who loved us in such a great way.”
-Ottoeco, hymn 120
“When I turn my gaze to the Virgin Mother of God and try to sketch a simple thought about her, I immediately seem to hear a voice coming from God and crying loudly in my ears,
“Do not come near. Take off the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground” (Ex 3:5). Truly we must free our minds from every mortal and carnal imagining, as if removing sandals from our feet, when our minds attempt to raise themselves to the contemplation of divine things. But what sort of thing could we contemplate that is more divine or greater than the Mother of God? Drawing near to her is like drawing near to holy ground and reaching heaven.”
“She is honored by all the saints: by the patriarchs, because it was she who received the glorious blessing they promised; by the prophets, who of old had foretold him many times in divers ways; by the apostles, who preached [him]; by the martyrs, who found in him a teacher amid their struggles, the presenter of their crowns, and the reason for their sufferings. We too praise him; he, for the sake of the salvation and life of our race, wrought and brought everything to completion in wisdom.”
-Ottoeco, hymn 118
“But the Virgin, the Mother of God, is not at all disposed to tolerate the folly of Nestorius. For how could she not be the Theotókos, since she brought into the world, as her child,
‘the mighty God, the Angel of great counsel, the wonderful Counselor, the Powerful, the Prince of peace, the Father of the age to come’ (Is 9:5)?“
“And, since there was no union with a husband, the Holy Spirit acted as the initiator and made the conception happen himself. In this way, the very Word of God, when he was conceived and born according to the fesh, made Mary the Mother of God, insofar as she gave birth to the Word, endowed with a body. Thus it is precisely on the basis of that which is better and more admirable that she is called [Mother of God], because the mystery consists in the victory of the best part, in the elevation of our race, which leads to its perfection.”
“If you want to know how it happened, your investigations remain blocked by the seal of virginity, which this birth in no wise violated. And that which is sealed is absolutely untouchable; it remains secret, and one cannot speak about it at all. Someone then, struck by this prodigy, will cry out, like Jacob, ‘How awesome is this place! This is
the gate of heaven!’ (Gen 28:17).”
“She is the leaven of our new creation, the root of the true vine whose branches we have become, by virtue of the germination proper to baptism. She is the point of arrival of the reconciliation of God with men, on which occasion the angels sang: ‘Glory to God in highest heaven; peace on earth and good will toward men’ (Lk 2: 14).
For this reason the recollection of the Virgin wakes up our souls, making them consider how, by his intervention, we have been called from such a great irreconcilable enmity, from a situation of war, so to speak, to such a great peace, to divine familiarity, to a marvelous association.”
“We implore her who is the birthgiver of God and pray her to intercede for us, she who is honored by all the saints.”
-Ottoeco, hymn 118
When he wanted to make it plain by deeds and to teach in a clear way that matrimony is also pure and that it does not distance us from God in any way, our Lord and God Jesus Christ, the same who was born of a Virgin according to the flesh and who safeguarded the virginity of her from whom he was born, even after his birth, and who also blessed the world with the way of virginity, took part in the wedding banquet at Cana in Galilee, in the presence of his Virgin Mother and of his disciples. They had been invited out of motives of human friendship or because of family ties, as persons known to the wedding party. And he who ‘in wisdom has done all things’ (PS 103:24), obedient to the economy, blessed the wedding banquet, where he would also perform his first sign and first miracle.
All this has been recounted by John the Theologian alone, not by any other evangelist, because John lived as a virgin and led his whole life without knowing the carnal relations of matrimony. Also, he was especially dear to Jesus. However, if John had considered marriage abominable, he would have done better to pass over this episode in silence, out of love for those who give up the carnal relations of marriage in order to imitate the angels.
But let us see what sign Jesus performed when he wished to honor the wedding dinner. ‘When the wine was beginning to run out,’ says John, the Mother of Jesus said to him: ‘They have no more wine’ (Jn2:3). This shows that the guests invited to the dinner did not have elevated thoughts, or thoughts worthy of God, on their minds. Indeed, if they had had the kind of concerns they should have had at that moment, they would have begged God to make up for the lack of wine, since anyone who is in need asks to obtain what he needs. But, as I have said, they had invited him to the wedding dinner only because they knew him on a human level, without the slightest consideration of the greatness of his divinity.
When Mary, out of sympathy, puts herself in their shoes and makes a request, Jesus rejects her, lest he seem to be looking for vainglory, or lest it be thought that he wants to share this little glory with his Mother, as if she had feigned making a request and he gladly took the occasion to perform some show of signs. On the one hand, he was trying to keep his audience far away from this false opinion and to show them that he was acting out of concern and practicality rather than for a little glory; on the other hand, he answered [his Mother] in a very harsh tone, to give his audience a lesson, as I have said, and to teach the truth, not because he wanted to displease his Mother: ‘What is this between you and me, O woman? My hour has not yet come (Jn 2:4).
His Mother herself makes it clear that these words were not a reproof but an expedient for teaching because of the presence of
strangers. She does not distance herself from him or leave, in the
manner of a person who has received a reproof; neither is she silent, repenting her eagerness, as happens with a person who has been censured. To the contrary, fully aware in her mind of what was foing to happen, she addressed the servants as if Jesus had not said anything at all: ‘Do whatever he tells you’ (Jn 2:5), wishing to show something greater and more befitting God.
Then Jesus, putting himself in harmony with his Mother’s thoughts, answered her: ‘My hour has not yet come.’ It is as if he had said: You believe that I want to work grand signs all at once; but know that signs come in due course, so that not even the tiniest particle of time escapes from my decisions and actions.
For I manifest my divinity gradually, in relation to my physical
maturing; it is in conformity with the true progress of my stature that I appear to grow in wisdom and grace as well (cf. Lk 2:52), through signs and wonders. These I grant according to a criterion pleasing to God; however, I make them known in sequence, as called for by the demands of the divine economy, until a moment beforehand, even an indivisible moment of time. For what depends on divine interventions still takes place, even in the case of the most minuscule and tiny events, even though this may remain completely unknown to us and difficult to discover.
Therefore, immediately after having said to his Mother, for the reasons explained above, the words: ‘My hour has not yet come’, he performed a sign totally beyond the capacity of someone who is subject to the observance of established times. At once he instructs and teaches us, with this action, not to disobey our mothers when they command us to do something inconvenient, even if our refusal seems appropriate and pleases us very much, and to be content immediately with whatever they request by carrying out what they have commanded, or by fulfilling their request in some other way, and never to abandon them totally to sadness. Examining these words with greater attention, it is found that the Mother of God, after she had conceived and begun to serve the mystery of the economy, was also full of the Holy Spirit and knew what was going to happen in advance. Indeed, she was a prophetess, as Isaiah says: ‘And I was approached by a prophetess’ (Is 8:3). If it was so for her, she might well think that Jesus was able to make wine appear before everyone’s eyes spontaneously, either by changing something into wine or by making wine out of nothing.
But just as she knew in advance what was going to happen, and that Jesus was going to order the servants to draw water, so that he might change it into wine, she also thought to give them an order in advance, saying: ‘Do whatever he tells yo’ (Jn2:5). Thus, the foreknowledge of what was going to happen in a certain way was common to Jesus and to her. Jesus had it inasmuch as he was God; she had it in her capacity as a prophetess.”
-Severus of Antioch, Homily 199
OF THE HOLY SEVERUS FROM THE LETTER TO ISAAC THE SCHOLASTIC [509-11.]
For it is not saying what agrees with the 318 fathers that is prohibited to us, but adding anything to or detracting anything from the correctness of the doctrines 320. If not, the synod of the 150 also incurs blame, because it widened the theology 321 relating to the Spirit, and, when the confession had been laid down with regard to the only Son who became incarnate for us, it added the |120 words ‘from the Holy Spirit and from Mary the Virgin’, and ‘he was crucified in the days of Pontius Pilate’; for these things were not stated by the 318.
THE LETTER TO URBAN THE GRAMMARIAN. [516-7.]
In dealing with abstentions with regard to names preserved in the sacred tablets we must in fitness duly compare the things of which the sacred Scripture said that, when they fall into water that is contained in small vessels, they pollute it, but, when into pools or wells or cisterns containing many streams, they cause no stain or pollution. For the law of the divine Spirit said thus: «And every drink that ye shall drink in any vessel shall be polluted; and everything on which anything from a dead body falls is polluted. However fountains of water and pools and cisterns of water shall be pure» 380. This principle then ought to be observed in the present case also. If a man separates from many on the ground that they are infected with heresy, or that they communicate with those who are infected, let him with all his power maintain abstention from the dead body, and not mention even the name of those who are under suspicion and not genuine, lest it fall and pollute the |139 purity of the communion. But, if the holding of the orthodox faith, and an anathema of every heresy reigns in the churches, and whole countries and provinces 381, and populous churches, confess one uncorrupted confession, then names which are thought to pollute are inundated by the multitude of streams. It is good that no particle of a dead body should be introduced even into a large quantity of water; but if perchance 382 it in fact happen to be introduced, it is cleansed by the quantity of streams, and swamped by the quantity of cleansing 383. We find that in fact the holy fathers also who were in former times upholders of the right word managed these things in this way. Show us from the compositions of the doctors of the church that, after so large a number had found fault with the faith of the 318 at Ariminus [sic], any question was raised about the names of those who had died. And, not to make the letter tedious by using many words, let us pass on in mind to times that are near and not far removed. We find that the holy Timothy, he who underwent long exiles 384, united with everyone in the Encyclical, and communicated with Paul bishop of the city of the Ephesians, and Peter who had become prelate of |140 this great Christ-loving city of Antioch, while names under suspicion were preserved in the sacred tablets; and the holy Cyril, when he united with the Easterns after the deprivation 385 of Nestorius, when many bishops had died, and had departed under the stain of the Nestorian heresy, made no inquiry about names. If therefore those who set great store by strictness in respect of such names say that the oblation is not pure, let them know that their strictness also draws its origin and existence from such communion, and descends from that source as from a root. For the saintly Timothy, as we have said, consented to hold communion with those of like opinions in company with such names, he whose grandsons they are who now with a boastful front loudly proclaim, «You shall not approach me because I am pure». And this we say superfluously, that some of the bishops in the cities of the Easterns set even this also straight, and ceased to mention all such names: for others found it impossible to set this same thing straight; and it was not right for such a reason for them to enter on wrangles 386, and set themselves in array against the enthusiasm of the people of the cities, in order that they might suffer shipwreck in the most essential things. |141
ANOTHER LETTER TO THE SAME HIPPOCRATES [516-7.]
But this you may keep firmly and fixedly in your mind, that no one shall be our fellow-communicant, nor will we consent to greet by letter any man who at the same time receives the wicked synod at Chalcedon contrary to the law, and does not anathematize the Tome of Leo. But, if any concession is necessary 418, I will stand within the ordinances of the holy Timothy 419, considering the general benefit of a union of the holy churches, and demanding an open anathema of the things done at Chalcedon against the orthodox faith, and of the wicked Tome of Leo, and of those who speak of two natures after the union, and the operations of these and their properties. But, if these things are upset, no argument nor inducement shall persuade me to assent to the wickedness. For I say like Paul, «It is better for me to die, than that anyone should make my boasting vain: for, if I so preach, I have no |151 cause of boasting; for necessity is laid upon me, and woe to me unless I so preach, since so I have received»420.
THE LETTER TO AMANTIUS THE CHAMBERLAIN, IN REFERENCE TO EPIPHANIUS METROPOLITAN OF TYRE [513-8.]
Now therefore I have thought it necessary to write this present short letter and inform you that the good and gentle Epiphanius of the city |154 of the Tyrians exalted himself against my great weakness, and he became an example to others to secede; but he has also wounded the hearts of all the believers, as if I, who confess the right faith, were hurling myself against that impious man, who exalts himself both against the divine commands and against church order; so that, if I wish, it is no longer permissible for me to receive him in communion, even if he repents, since every man’s conscience has already been wounded because of him.
A LETTER TO THE HOLY CONVENTS OF VIRGINS OF CHRIST. [519-25.]
That a church is a confession of right faith no one who is reckoned among Christians and has understanding doubts, since the Lord plainly said in the Gospels to the divine Peter, the first of the apostles, when he made the confession, «Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God», «Thou art Cephas, and upon this rock will I build my church, and the gates of Sheol shall not |169 prevail against it» 462; and he called the firmness and fixity of such a confession a rock. And, as speech knows a right and sound opinion on faith as a church, so it also knows the believers who confess it as a church. And David the wonderful among prophets, depicting this church beforehand as a queen and a virgin clad in various kinds of flowers and in royal excellencies, and for this reason all the more and 463 in loving fashion espoused to the king, and gathering many virgin souls, and attracting them to her pattern and the example of her chaste life, said, «Virgins shall go to the king after her» 464. You also therefore showed by your writings and acts, after choosing the virgin and angelic life, that is free from all material things, that you are walking after the queen and first virgin, the church. See therefore that you turn not your looks away, but with all diligence look intently and securely and fixedly at her, and cleave to her, in order that, being hard by, you may enter the king’s temple, which is the expected rest, and the suprasensual bridal-chamber, concerning which the same prophet again said, «Holy is thy temple, and wonderful in righteousness» 465: |170 For it excites wonder as something holy and raised above earthly deeds and thoughts, and it cannot be expressed and explained in words, but shows by experience to those who are worthy what manner of thing it is; and, looking at the bountiful right hand of the Giver, they will say, «Pleasure is in thy right hand for ever» 466. These things may your chastities find, showing as you do the lamp of asceticism in its brightness, through keeping the orthodox faith; for, when this is absent, the lamp inasmuch as it lacks oil cannot give light 467. Be not therefore remiss in labours, but sustain yourselves on the hope of the future life, and look for a reward to be added to the now existing troubles, and ask the God of all not to allow us to be tried beyond what we can bear, but with the trial to give also a way of escape, that we may be able to endure 468. And these things we have written in few words, being as we are at a distance and in varying and unwonted places; but every day we are with you in spirit, and speak similar words.
FROM THE LETTER TO THE PRESBYTERS AND ARCHIMANDRITES, JONATHAN AND SAMUEL AND JOHN, WHO WERE STANDING |45 ON PILLARS, AND ALL THE REST OF THE ORTHODOX 107 WHO ASSEMBLED IN THE CHURCH OF THE CITY OF AN BAR, AND IN THE CHURCH OF HIRTHA DNU’MAN. [519-38 (?).]
For he said, «Go make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son, and the Holy Spirit» 108; so that there is aHoly Trinity, divided and distinct in hypostases, but not divided in one essence 109 and Godhead, and kingship and glory and eternity and the other attributes which God has by nature. For the Father has one thing hypostatically, fatherhood, and the fact that he is unbegotten; and the Son again has one thing hypostatically, sonship, and the fact that he was begotten by the Father; and the Holy Spirit again has one thing, the fact that he was not begotten, but proceeds eternally without beginning from the Father: for in virtue of these things distinctness of person belongs to each one of them, that is, is marked out and defined for the hypostases, but all the other attributes are, as I have said, common, equal in honour and undivided, and such as show that we for our part have believed in one God, and in one |46 essence 109, and he exists and is made known in three hypostases. For the Son was begotten by the Father, and the Spirit proceeds from the Father, although eternally and without time, and their ascent is to him, as to a root and source, and from him they are, though they are not after him. And for this reason, while we confess three hypostases, we do not believe in three first causes, but one first cause, and one kingship. After pursuing the matter so far we praise only and do not investigate what the unbegottenness of the Father is, or what the generation of the Son is, or what the procession of the Holy Spirit is; for these things are known only by the Father who begot and the Son who was begotten, and the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father: but he requires us to know ‘through these things that we are to confess one essence 110 and Godhead, made known in three distinct hypostases.
OF THE HOLY MAR SEVERUS, FROM THE LETTER WHICH HE WROTE TO JOHN THE CHRIST-LOVING ROMAN
For the same baptism is both performed in the name of the Holy Trinity, and by the triple dipping it is further signified that the man who is baptized is buried with Christ.
FROM THE 63rd LETTER OF THE 2nd BOOK OF THOSE WRITTEN DURING EPISCOPACY, TO ANTONINUS BISHOP OF BERRHOEA 213. [513-8.]
But we hear of the said Mara that he said this also as well, that the holy Virgin did not feel the birth, in manifest opposition to the Holy Spirit and to the Scriptures which were spoken by him. The loud-voiced among prophets, Isaiah, shows that he came forth from the bond of virginity like anything else, and he was ineffably born without rending her from Mary the God-bearer, saying thus, «Before she that travailed bare, and before the |89 pain of the travail came, she escaped and bare a male child» 214. The fact that she escaped shows that the birth took place with perception on the part of her who gave birth, and not in phantasy 215. So Gregory the Theologian also in the sermon about Easter says of the birth of the babe when it is born: «But she also cried 216 from the compulsion of the virgin and maternal bonds, with great power, when a male child was born from the prophetess, as Isaiah announces» 217. How could the fact that she cried from the compulsion and did not rend the bond of virginity happen without perception, and not with such great perception as this oh the part of her who bare? And these things took place ineffably and beyond everything. He who wished to come truly in all our attributes, and to be made like to us his brethren without sin, was . certainly born in fleshly fashion by a manifest and true birth, causing perception in her who bare, free from all pain and suffering; for the prophet proclaims that she gave birth before the pain of the travail came. For how was she to be subjected to the trial of pains and anguish, who put an end to the bearing of children in anguish through the fact that joy was born for the whole race of men? For, «Lo!», he says, «I announce unto you great |90 joy, that is to all the people, that there hath been born to you to-day a Saviour, who is the Lord Christ» 218.
OF THE HOLY SEVERUS, FROM THE LETTER TO THE PRESBYTER VICTOR [519-21 (?).]
For the bread that is consecrated on the holy tables and mystically transmuted is itself truly the body, the body of him in whose name it was in |91 fact transmuted, that is of him who voluntarily died and rose for our sakes. But, if it is the body of him who rose, it is plain that it is impassible and immortal. If we do not look at the bread that is mystically transmuted, but at that which comes under the eyes of the senses, and, seeing it broken, do not confess it to be indeed immortal, it is time for us to say that neither is it God’s body: for what is seen is indeed bread. By the faith therefore by which we understand and believe it to be the body of God who became incarnate without variation for our sakes, and voluntarily suffered and rose, by the same faith we understand and confess that it is also immortal and impassible, and bestows impassibility and immortality on us. For he who allowed it to be cut and divided, because indeed it was otherwise impossible for us to partake of it, in the same mercifulness also allows God’s body which has been already transmuted to appear as bread. And for a confirmation of the transmutation that is accomplished this has been seen by many even with the eyes of their senses themselves, and they have seen bloodstained flesh being broken, not the bread that is laid upon the altar.|92
OF THE PATRIARCH SEVERUS TO THE MONKS OF THE EAST 280. [520-5.]
To the holy fathers and archimandrites of the holy cloisters in the East and the presbyters and deacons, and all the brothers who are practising the God-loved life of monasticism Severus greeting in our Lord.
I have heard that the great convents of the holy monasteries in the East, who are honoured for eminence in life and in asceticism and for age, have withdrawn, and that to this same thing they have been driven by compulsion, by those who without fear stretch out their hands against every man: and I groaned deeply; and I continued weeping till there was no strength left in me to weep more, as the Holy Scripture somewhere says 281. For I sorrowed not for you (no tears are needed for you) but for the countries which have been deprived of you, and for those who live a religious life in them, and to speak generally for all that district 282. If there were not universal wrath, and the face of God were not averted, you at least would |108 have remained, as pillars of the great house who would have prevented the ruin that was threatening it. So also, when Jerusalem was being chastised for her sins, and was being delivered to various chastisements, the God of mercy, ‘he that taketh pleasure in mercy’ 283 (for so the divine Scriptures term him), again spared her on account of his great mercifulness, and, because he did not wish to bring a complete destruction, is seen to address, those who administered such chastisements as were to come, things which Jeremiah saw and heard by prophetic perception, in this way: «Go up to her walls and pull down; but make not a full end. Leave her foundations because they are of the Lord»284. If then you, who are the foundations of the Lord which stave off destruction, have now been disturbed and shaken, what is there to expect, save sore stripes from God, and great evils that cannot be assuaged and wrath that is poured out, which he who in just judgment brings it declares in such words as these: «Behold! my wrath and mine anger is poured out upon this country and upon men and upon cattle and upon all things that are in the field, and upon all the fruits of the earth, and they shall be burnt up and shall not be extinguished» 285? |109
For these reasons I sorrowed, and I perceived not the number of my groans, while I contemplated the desolation of the ways that led to your convents and sent to you those who had a zealous desire to delight their souls by the remembrance of divine things, and to whom constant standing and angelic singing were a festival, and the upward-pressing life, which reminds rational souls of the imitation of God. For thus Jeremiah also made lament after the destruction of Jerusalem, and said as in a figure: «The ways of Zion mourn because there is none to come to the feast. All the gates in her are desolate» 286. (And he himself clearly said that her produce is given to destruction). «Whose priests shall go into captivity groaning, and they that have taken upon them the virgin life shall be led away. And she that was abandoned by them hath bitterness for these things». For, in order that none might think that the lamentation that was made was not right, on account of beams and stones and great buildings that were razed to the earth and the dust, exalting plainly by words the greatness of the disaster, he made proclamation and said: «Her priests groan and her virgins |110 are carried away, and she herself within herself hath bitterness» 287. And Elisha the great, who received a double portion of the spirit that was in Elijah, the man of many visions and miracles, foreseeing that which was future like the present, and how many evils the people of Israel was to endure, inasmuch as Hazael, King of Syria, was to come against them to war, wept bitterly when he .considered the incurability of the evils that were coming, and under stress of these things he could not refrain, and abstain from tears, and from pity, though they were about to endure these chastisements as they deserved. And therefore also the divine Scripture says as in wonder: «And the man of God wept» 288. But I beg and entreat your sanctities (for you are my affection no less than he 289), you who also suffer with your kindred, and, to speak in the words of the apostle, «have a heart of mercy and of grace» 290, pray for the sheep and avert the wrath, and cease not holding up your saintly hands to your Jesus, saying to him from the divine Scriptures, «These sheep what have they done? Have pity, Lord, upon thy people, and give not thine inheritance to shame» 291. Perhaps he will be turned by these prayers and repent, and will leave in his country a blessing, |111 a sacrifice and a libation to the Lord our God. For on your account I have no weight of care and no anxiety: for well I know that everything is easy to you, and there is no impediment or difficulty of walking for your feet, which are adorned in apostolic fashion with bareness, and by their steps are able to bless even the uninhabited deserts and make them habitable; . and that the lack of money in your girdles is a fulness of all abundance, so that it provides a superfluity for others also, and the staff in your hands is a symbol of the very fixity and firmness of the faith that is in you, so that it supports those who are shaken also and they do not fall; but the earth and the heaven and the air 292 are your purse, and all the elements supply food in diverse forms and coming of itself, and make it known to everyone that «man liveth not by bread alone, but also by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God»293: I forbear to say, what is a great thing and very true, that, since you have a spiritual rock going before you (and Paul said that Christ is a rock 294), that is to you food and drink; for you were persecuted with this same rock when it was persecuted. For in the case of the sons of Israel of old, who saw little, and had their eye blinded by Egyptian |112 darkness, and could scarcely see the writing of the law and could not contemplate the depth of hidden mysteries, the apostle justly wrote that «that rock followed them» 295: for it was right that they who were so-imperfect should be first exercised in the law, and afterwards see Christ following them. Wherefore also in waterless countries he gave them water in tangible form, assuaging the thirst of the flesh; and, whenever they desired flesh, he invisibly brought birds like rain from the air 296, and other things like these and resembling them. But before your own perfections, who can contemplate the very glory of the Lord ‘with open face’, as again Paul said 297, that rock continually goes in front, giving suprasensual food and drink, and showing everyone that through the things which you have endured you cry and say, «Who shall separate me from the love of Christ? Tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or hunger or nakedness or clanger or the sword, as it is written, ‘For thy sake we die every day; we have been reckoned as sheep for slaughter’; but in all these things we are victorious through him who loved us» 298. For the results of your victory are not only |113 in this evil present world, in which you showed invincibility, but all of them are more truly in the future world. Then all who have been exercised in the life of virginity, and have prevailed over shameful passions and are honoured for white-haired old age of the intellect, and for the holy order, and deceive the accompanying honour, shall be gratified with such joy that their soul shall be made drunk with good things, as to which Jeremiah the prophet, depicting them beforehand, spoke thus: «Then shall virgins rejoice in gatherings of young men and old men shall rejoice: and I will turn their mourning into joy, and I will make them rejoice: and I will make great and make drunken the soul of the priests the sons of Levi, and my people shall be filled with my good things» 299; and these things that fail not and are as they are, and are never destroyed. Such as these are the blessed homes and mansions. But, if there is yet an extension and we have not been brought to the end of time, assuredly ‘he who scattered Israel he will gather him, and he will keep him as a shepherd who feedeth his flock’ and will say, «With weeping went they out, and with consolation will I bring them: and I will make them to dwell by streams of waters in a right way and they shall not again go astray» 300. |114
But pray that we also may hold to the right and unerring way, and our foot may not turn aside to the right hand or to the left from the king’s highway 301 which was rightly traversed by those seers and ministers of the word. For, inasmuch as you exercise yourselves in the law of the Lord by night as well as by day, you know well that, even if a man contend, he is not crowned unless he contends lawfully. For certain men have come in upon us, wishing to put a blemish on the ‘good confession’ to which we were called and which we confessed ‘before many witnesses’ 302 as the apostle said, that is, before the whole church and ‘the elect angels’ 303, never having yielded to remissness. For that ‘we are not of remissness which leads to perdition’ 304 you also well know: for you are the first who testify. For, ‘having no sound knowledge of what they say or the things about which they strive’ 305, they do not consent to confess that the true flesh of God and the Word which is from the holy God-bearer and ever-virgin Mary and from the Holy Spirit, which was hypostatically united to him, so that from the fact that he came to be with us as God who became man he was named Emmanuel, and that he was made like unto us in all things except sin, suffers |115 like us and is susceptible of innocent passions, but say that he suffered in semblance, and that the flesh was impassible and immortal at the time of the voluntary and saving Cross; and besides other impossible things the wretched men foolishly speak of false passions, and in false words they name phantasy 306 incorruptibility, and deny the true incorruptibility, and they fail to notice the wisdom of the dispensation whereby the impassible God united to himself those of our passions which do not fall under the description of sin, wishing in it to taste our death voluntarily, destroy its dominion over us, and by means of the Resurrection to set us free in incorruptibility, that is in impassibility and immortality, and raise us to our first state in which also we were created. If the Word of God desired to display passions and death in unreal form, the Incarnation is quite superfluous. He had the divine impassibility and immortality, and so also he might have suffered as in semblance and shown himself after the fashion of former appearances, as he appeared as a man who wrestled with Jacob and was received in Abraham’s house, and was represented in many forms through the prophets: for this he himself is seen to have said in Hosea the prophet 307. But this was not |116 what he desired, but that by means of a real death he might save the man who had died through the deceit of the serpent, and make his own Resurrection the gate and way of return to everlasting life. For this reason Paul cries louder than all trumpets in the ears of men who will not hear: «For, since by man came death, by man also cometh the resurrection of the dead. For, as in Adam all died, so also in Christ shall all live» 308. But… with… the Scriptures and… these hasty and presumptuous men presumed blasphemously to say against the divine Scriptures and against the holy fathers who interpreted them in approved fashion, who at various times fed the holy churches. From these things you see clearly how much difference and distinction there is between truth and error even as the heaven is far from the earth, and that out of the thought of their heart they have ‘devised words of iniquity’ and that ‘truth has perished in their ways, and they could not walk in the right way’, and also that ‘they have removed their thoughts from understanding’ 309. For well did Isaiah the prophet expose them beforehand by these words. |117
Pray therefore, saintly ones (for indeed I say the same thing many times) that we may be delivered from evil and unjust men. For they have been unable not only to endure reproof on account of their wickedness, but even to give drink to them that thirst: for, besides their thoughts that blaspheme against God, ‘their counsels1 also ‘are counsels of murder’ 310. For this very thing Isaiah says with me concerning them. But that these same men may be changed to what is right make the subject of your own prayers. For we on our part look to him who willeth not the death of a sinner so much as that he be converted and live 311. Indeed at first on the entreaty (and to speak the truth on the compulsion) of him who wrote unsoundly and rashly upon this same matter 312, while far away and in hiding I wrote and admonished him in a brotherly manner and urged him to have regard to the holy fathers and to the approved doctors and follow them, and correct himself. And even upon this he attacked my meanness in a ferocious manner, worse than any raging savage beast, and kept bitterly complaining because he did not find me a partner of his error, and over the whole world, as far as he could, he sent out and scattered abroad what he had |118 written, which came from his heart ‘not from the mouth of the Lord’ 313: and we were set forth as a laughing-stock to those who contend for the Chalcedonian impiety; and in Palestine, as I have learned, and in other provinces 314 they were going about, and everywhere opening and extending their capacious mouth and saying: «See! Those who pride themselves on being orthodox 315 have been manifestly seen to be zealous for the semblance of Eutyches, which is the error of the followers of Mani». Then indeed, being pierced by the judgments of God after the manner of goads and being… in my soul because I could not endure the slander and the blasphemy against the glory of the Most High and the fact that one man’s error should be a stain upon the whole body of the church, I made the true facts known to everyone, facts which are known and familiar to you also, saying with courage as well as faith in accordance with the truth (for Jesus is very God and Saviour), «If it be my lot to die with thee I will not deny thee» 316, but, «I will go up upon the mountains, and will preach to Jerusalem» 317. May I gain his boldness of speech 318, and may I receive help from him, through your saintly prayers and entreaties. |119
The handwriting of the patriarch, himself.
May the holy Unity in Trinity (for this is our God) keep your holinesses, and all the brotherhood that is with you, illustrious in divine contests, in perfect concord and endurance and praying for our meanness. My spirit greets you. «Greet one another with a holy kiss» 319. Grace be with you.
Blessed be God for ever, and praised be his name to all generations.
OF THE HOLY SEVERUS, THE LETTER THAT WAS WRITTEN BY HIM TO THE EMESENES. [512-8.]
To the devout presbyters and orthodox117 deacons, and to the rest who compose the holy order 118 of the clergy 119, and to the magnificent and Christ-loving magistrates of the city, and to all the people of the holy church, Severus greeting in our Lord.
To those who are not wise in their mind or are otherwise without intelligence, and are lacking in true instruction, the holy Scripture gives the proper rule and place, in order that their emptiness of mind and lack of instruction may be turned to wisdom: for indeed it commands those who are such both to learn and to ask, or to be silent altogether; for the holy book |51 of Proverbs somewhere said: «To the fool who asketh wisdom shall be reckoned: but, when a man maketh himself silent, he is thought to be wise» 120. But the man who keeps this rule it raises and advances, and incites to learn things that are of use and profit, and it says, «Give thine heart to wisdom, and prepare thine ears for words of understanding» 121. I am surprised therefore that the brother whom you mention (out of tenderness for his soul I do not mention his name) did not know his own measure, and, besides not knowing originally the subject on which he was talking, neglected this legally established and salutary rule; and, when he ought to have bent a ear of understanding to those who are wiser than he is, he on the contrary threatened to take the ignorance that is in him to the city of Alexandria, like an invincible warrior, who is able to overcome and take captive all that meet him, and sell them where he likes. Therefore I have both accepted your wisdom in the Lord, which is worthy of the church and very honourable, and your patience, which is such as befits Christians, and have crowned them also with a decree of many praises, since in accordance with the apostolic model you both received and admonished him as your member and brother 122, and brought forward the teachings of the holy fathers. And, |52 whereas you once and twice secretly and openly refuted and corrected him on the points on which he spoke without knowledge, and he was again involved in the same errors, and you behaved like doctors and churchmen, and on all sides seek to gain his salvation, and by actual deeds show that you look to the apostolic commandment which commands, «Let everything be done decently and in order»123, but he, though he was thought worthy to receive so much attention, had no mercy on his soul, and did not restrain himself so as to show moderation and humility, I expressed blame and at the same time showed mercy and still show mercy, since ignorance is free from danger124, for a man is not blamed because he does not know. He is trying to bring upon himself the sin that does not deserve forgiveness, in that he does not yield to those who are wise among the brethren, or seek from wiser men a cure for his ignorance by desire to learn, but pettily searches into things that are unknown and uncertain, and does his best to find men to share his opinions, in order that he may seem to be saying something when he is saying nothing that is sound. But the other things which he said without |53 knowledge he has with difficulty come to honour by silence, in that he assented to the passages from the holy fathers (that were brought before him; and he was reduced to one passage, the words used by the holy Cyril in the second volume 125 against the blasphemies of Nestorius, which are as follows: (( For, because the Word who is from God the Father took flesh and came forth as a man like us, he would not for this reason be also termed a double thing. For he is one, and not without flesh, who in his own nature is without flesh and blood» 126. After you had quoted to him the 127 words used by the doctor, he persisted and said 128 that after his own Resurrection 129 we must confess that God the Word is without flesh 130, inasmuch as he put off that which was without variation and without 131 separation hypostatically united to him, a thing that is beyond all impiety and profanity, so that |54 everyone who has natural (I will not say, spiritual) intelligence must wonder if a fact which is so universally admitted has ever been made a subject of contention, and has 132 passed the lips of anyone who has duly believed in our one Lord and God and Saviour 133 Jesus Christ. If he were skilled in divine doctrine, he should have (to omit everything else) considered the anathemas of Gregory the Theologian, who in the great letter to Cledonius which begins, ‘I wonder what this innovation is’, clearly lays down these principles in it, «If anyone says that the flesh 134 was now laid down by him, and the Godhead is stripped of a body, and does not confess that he both is and will come with the thing assumed itself, may he not see the glory of his coming. For where is the body now except with him who assumed it? For it has not been laid up in the sun, as the silly tale of the Manichees goes, in order that he may be honoured through the object of contempt, or diffused and dissolved in the air, like the nature of a voice and the wafting of a smell, and the course of lightning that does not stand still. But what becomes of the fact that he was actually touched after the Resurrection, or that he will again some time |55 be seen by those who pierced him? For the Godhead by itself is invisible. But he will come with the body, according to my account, and such as he was seen by, or was shown to, the disciples on the mount, inasmuch as the Godhead easily overcomes the flesh» 135. Who.that reads these words resplendent with truth, and flashing with the rays of the Holy Spirit, will dare to say that the Word of God, who was humanized immutably and without any phantasy 136, is without flesh after the inexplicable and incomprehensible union? Accordingly it is clear that you also have not gone beyond what is fitting in opposing the precipitous error of that man and saying in order to remove him from this error, «The words used by the doctor about the Word of God, In his own nature he is without flesh and blood’, refer to the time before the Humanization». Indeed, since he himself said that ‘he is one, and not without flesh’, how can it be anything but wholly unreasonable, and presumptuous and irreverent, for us to gainsay this, and contend that he is without |56 flesh? But the words which he went on to add, ‘who in his own nature is without flesh and blood’, plainly introduce this thought, that in his own nature, that is in the Godhead, he has no association with flesh and blood. He did not take the flesh into the fulness of his own divine nature and mix it with it, nor did he mingle it with his own Godhead, but that in the dispensatory assumption we might understand him to be not without flesh, Emmanuel being wonderfully composed and consisting of two elements, the Godhead and the manhood: but even so he preserved the absence, of mixture in the divine essence1, and did not change the essence137 of the Godhead into the nature of flesh. And that this is so I bring as a witness to the accuracy of his doctrines the doctor himself, who by the operation of the Holy Spirit is an accurate doctor. In the first letter to Succensus, when certain men had advanced a similar objection, he expressed himself thus: «Since I found in |57 the memorial an assertion of this kind stated, that since the Resurrection the holy body of Christ the Saviour of us all has passed into the nature of the Godhead, so as to be all Godhead only, I thought it right to speak against this also». And thereupon, after he has above in a brief compass gone through all the statement of the dispensation of the Humanization, he brings against it this argument: «It is impossible for a body taken from earth to endure the change into the divine nature. And, if not, we bring against the Godhead the charge that it is as a thing that is made and as a thing that has taken into it something that is not its by nature» 138. See! how plainly he denies that the divinity of the Word has taken anything into its essence 139 which is not its by nature, though we confess that flesh possessing an intelligent soul was taken by God the Word, and he united this to him hypostatically, but not so that anything should be added to his divine essence2, as if it were deficient (for he is truly complete in everything), but that from the unmixed union of the Incarnation, and the composition out of two elements, the Godhead |58 and the manhood, Emmanuel should be made up, who in one hypostasis is ineffably composite; not simple, but composite: as the soul of a man like us, which by nature is bodiless and rational, which is naturally intertwined with the body, remains in its suprasensual and bodiless nature, but by reason of the composition with the body makes up one composite animal, man. Accordingly the assumption of the body makes no addition to the essence 140 of the soul, but makes up the composite animal, as it is reasonable to understand with regard to the theory 141 of Emmanuel also. The Word did not take the flesh intelligently possessed of a soul in order to complete his being God, as we have said, but that one hypostasis might be wonderfully and immutably made up out of two elements, the Godhead we mean and the manhood, and the one incarnate nature of the Word himself, and one person: for the Word of God, according to the saying of Paul the apostle, partook of blood and flesh after our pattern 142. And that this is so the approved Cyril further shows in the letter to Valerian bishop of Iconium; who wrote as follows: «For God and man did not come together, as they say, and make up |59 one Christ; but, as I have already said, the Word, being God, partook of blood and flesh like us, in order that he may be known to be God who was humanized, and who took our flesh, and made this his, because, as the man who was composed of soul and body is known to be one, so also now 143 he is acknowledged to be one Son and Lord. For one nature and hypostasis of a man is acknowledged, though he is known to be made of diverse and heterogeneous elements: for the body is truly different in nature from the soul; but it belongs to it, and with it makes up the hypostasis of the one man. And in mental conception and in theory the difference of the things that have been named is not obscure, but by combination and concurrence that cannot be cut asunder one animal, man, is made up. The Word therefore, the Only one of God, did not come forth as man by taking a man, but, though his birth from the Father is ineffable, he became man by forming a man 144 for himself through the Holy Spirit which is of one essence with him. Accordingly he is known to be one, though in the theory which is according to reason his own body is different in nature from himself. Let it therefore be everywhere acknowledged that he was not without soul, but that he was possessed of an intelligent soul» 145. Similarly also in the second volume 146 |60 against the blasphemies of Nestorius he clearly teaches that the assumption of flesh did not pass into the Godhead of the Word, but that the Word of God remained in his own nature, and apart from flesh, but by the immutable combination with flesh it was wisely and beyond all reason and understanding brought about that one Christ should be marvellously made up; for he speaks thus: «Accordingly confess one, not dividing the natures, while you know and understand that to flesh belongs one principle, and to Godhead that which befits it only. For we do not say that the flesh of the Word became Godhead, but rather that it is divine as being his. For, as the flesh of a man is called his, on what ground is it not right for us also to call that of the Word divine?» And again farther on: «If therefore he were a wise and intelligent man at all, he should say that the body is from a woman, but confess besides that by being combined in hypostatic union with the Word it has made up one Christ and one Son, and one Lord, who being the same is God and man» 147. The expressions therefore that are used by this genuine and very accurate father, ‘for he is one, and not without flesh’, and, ‘he who in his own nature is apart from flesh and blood’, demonstrate |61 this, as is plain from what we have demonstrated, that in the dispensatory conjunction he is not without flesh: for he is one composed of two elements, the Godhead and the manhood, which have a perfect existence in their own sphere; but in his own nature he is known to be apart from flesh and blood, and without a body; not that he mingled flesh with the nature or with the essence 148 of the Godhead, but that he kept the Godhead sublime and pure and unmixed, in the characteristics of its own incorporeal character, as also he did not change the manhood which was hypostatically united to him, but kept it free and without change in its own characteristics. Wherefore also one may see that Nestorius and those who like Jews hold his opinions wish to reject the absence of change of the hypostatic union, and to put confusion into the minds of the believers, while they are everywhere making this charge, that we confess that the body was changed into the divine essence1, and thereby hold one incarnate nature of God the Word, and they say that they themselves only, the wretched, unhappy men, keep the Godhead of the holy Trinity unmixed and pure, by confessing that the man from Mary, as they themselves say, in loving mercy was conjoined to |62 God the Word and shares with him in sonship and divine authority, and by this self-created scruple 149 they make the Trinity a quaternity. And for this reason the wise Cyril shows Nestorius also, who was their leader in this fatuity, speaking thus: «Therefore God the Word is named Christ also, because he has the eternal conjunction with Christ, and God the Word cannot do anything without the manhood: for he knows the coalescence exactly 150, not with the Godhead, as the new wise men amoug the doctors say» 151. And the same man of small intellect weaves the same charge, and in the treatise entitled ‘Against the Theopaschites or Cyrillians’, which he composed in the form of question and answer, speaks thus:
«The Theopaschite says: ‘And how can we be accused of the composition of the Diphysites, we who call Christ one incarnate nature of God?’
The orthodox 152 says: ‘Your own refutation, which you think is a defence, itself refutes. For you have confessed that one nature is prepared for Christ, from incorporeality and a body, and a hypostasis with one nature |63 of the incarnation of the Godhead. But this is the confusion of those who have two natures, that the natures themselves are deprived of the hypostases which they severally possess, that are confounded with one another’» 153.
And again farther on in the same treatise:
«The Theopaschite says: ‘What do you think of an eggshell (?) of water that has been poured into the sea?’ The orthodox 154 says: ‘What else except that the unstable addition of the water has disappeared in the great volume of the sea?’
The Theopaschite says: ‘Something similar happened also to the flesh: for do not think that the Godhead is smaller than the sea in relation to the flesh as compared with the shifting character of the eggshell’.
The orthodox2 says: ‘By «shifting character» do you mean a kind of instability, or the change of that which was swallowed up into that which swallowed it up?’
The Theopaschite says: ‘The change of the essence 155 of the body into the Godhead’.
The orthodox2 says: ‘The nature of the body remaining, or being dissolved into non-existence?’ |64
The Theopaschite says: ‘The flesh passing into the nature of the Godhead instead of the essence 156 of flesh’»157.
While very vainly putting together such reasons against the right confession of the Humanization, as I said before, reasons which contend against God, and saying that a man should be worshipped with the Trinity, Nestorius and those who think with him state of themselves that they preserve the unity of nature of the three hypostases unmixed, in that they do not confess that God the Word was hypostatically united to flesh possessing an intelligent soul, and call the union that is so far above nature and immutable and wonderful mingling. Wherefore also Dorotheus, who became bishop of Marcianopolis 158, and belonged to the same Jewish company and party, presented a petition to Marcian’s own self at the very beginning of his reign, and found fault with the position 159 held by the bishops, and the sound opinion of the holy churches; and he speaks thus: «Therefore, merciful kings, in consideration of their so ridiculous, that is lamentable, opinions, renew the firm maintenance of the connaturality while it is possible, while there is time, by recalling Nestorius from exile 160, and join together the people of Christ who are divided, lest, |65 as I pray may not happen, the past be repeated» 161. The holy Cyril therefore, having exposed such old people’s fables and Jewish tales 162 in every part of his writings, in the first letter to Succensus also, which I mentioned above, said thus: «But it is impossible for a body taken from earth to endure the change into the divine nature; for it cannot be done. And, if not, we speak of the Godhead as a thing that is made, and as a thing that has taken into it something that is not its by nature. For on the score of impropriety it is equal for us to say that the body was changed into the nature of Godhead, and also the other thing too that the Word was changed into the nature of flesh. For, as this is impossible (for he is invariable and immutable), so also is the other. For it is not among possibilities that any created thing can pass into the essence or nature of Godhead. But the body too is a created thing. Accordingly we say that Christ’s body is divine, because it is also God’s body, and resplendent with ineffable glory, incorruptible, holy, life-giving: but, that it was changed into the nature |66 of Godhead, none of the holy fathers has either thought or said, nor do we ourselves so hold» 163. This fact therefore according to the expression of the doctor, that the body of the Word is resplendent with ineffable glory, incorruptible and holy and life-giving, Gregory the Theologian also in the demonstration contained in the letter to Gledonius demonstrated by saying that the Godhead overcame the incarnation 164. Accordingly the flesh remained flesh, even after the God-befitting Resurrection and Ascension, but adorned with divine and ineffable glory, and with all the excellencies that befit God; and it is divine as something that is the body of God, and it was not changed into the essence 165 of the Godhead. It is in this meaning that the expression of the doctor with which we are now concerned also should rightly be understood that God the Word is one and not without flesh: for he is incarnate by hypostatic union in flesh possessing an intelligent soul (but in his own nature he is without flesh and blood), that is, without mixture |67 with what he possesses in his essence 166 and nature, that is the bodiless and immutable and incomprehensible Godhead.
As for what you say at the end that the man who easily follows illusions (?) 167 and shifts his ground widely said on the advice of certain persons, that we must think of the Word of God in the infinity of his divine essence 166 without flesh, is very foolish and senseless. Even though the Word of God is infinite, the whole of him was united to the flesh that was received from the holy Virgin, the God-bearer and ever-virgin Mary, even the very person of the Word and not a partial operation as in the prophets. How then is it anything but ridiculous for us to say that he who was in the actual divine hypostasis wholly united to a body naturally as well as miraculously is without flesh, even in the greatness of his infinite Godhead168? For ‘there is no limit to his greatness’ 169, as David said, and he fills everything, and is above everything, and cannot be comprised by anyone. And the subtlety of |68 the mystery cannot be explored by reason and intellect, how the whole of him was in flesh, and the whole of him is in all things and the whole of him is superior to all things and he himself is Ruler of all in infinity. But, that we believe that the very hypostasis of God the Word became incarnate, according to the apostolic tradition of the church that has been handed down from of old, it is superfluous for us to demonstrate by testimonies to those who have once believed in the Gospel, when John who was divine in words beyond the evangelists said, «The Word became flesh and came to dwell in us» 170. How ever, since there is a doubt about it, and in order that we may close the doors against all contention, on this point too let the words of the father himself, I mean the holy Cyril, come to our assistance, who in the defence of the second chapter 171 addressed to Theodoret the deceiver wrote thus: «Since Nestorius therefore everywhere eliminates the birth in flesh, and introduces among us a union of authority only, and says that a man was conjoined to God, who is honoured by identity of name of sonship, in contending against his propositions we were compelled to say that the hypostatic union took place, in which expression |69 the word ‘hypostatic’ denotes nothing else except this only, that the nature itself or his hypostasis, which is the Word himself, after it has been united to human nature without variation and confusion, as we have often said, is recognised as one Christ [and] is so, the same God and man» 172. After the same fashion in the Scholia also he comes forward with the same words as follows: «’For in him dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily’, that is not by assumption simply 173, like light that shines, or fire that imparts its heat [to] the objects near it, but, if we may so say, that the divine and incontaminable nature itself by a true union as I have said made the temple from the Virgin a dwelling-place for that which he is recognised to be. For thus Christ Jesus is recognised to be one» 174. But, that the whole of him was in a body, and was hypostatically united to it, him of whom all things were divinely full, he himself confirms by his own words. For it is written in the Gospel of John also that he said to Nicodemus, «No man hath gone up to heaven, except him who came down from heaven, the Son of man who is in heaven» 175; though he did not come down from heaven in that he became man, for he did not bring the flesh down from |70 heaven, but he received it from the holy Virgin, flesh that is of our race, and of our nature. Nor again, when he was speaking to Nicodemus, was he corporeally in heaven; but incorporeally, in that he is God, heaven and earth and what is above heaven were perpetually full of him. And in the eighth section of the second of the books against 176 Julian the great in demon-worship, which were written by him in defence of the Christian religion, the doctor shows how the Word of God, while he is all in all, was hypostatic ally united to the flesh derived from the holy Mary, and, beyond every creature, filled all things by reception from him (in a suprasensual sense nothing is empty of him), though the infinity of his greatness surpasses and soars above all things that exist with a great space between (how great it is impossible to say): by whom according to the words of Isaiah «all the nations have been reckoned as a drop from a pot, and as the sand of a balance» 177. But the holy Cyril again speaks thus: «He has become, as I said, in the likeness of men, as it is written, and in our human appearance truly. Nevertheless we did not say that he who cannot be comprised was |71 confined, nor that he was inclosed in the limits of the body. For it is utterly silly and complete folly to say anything of the kind of him who is by nature and in truth God. For, while he is one and the only Son, and completely above all human phantasy, the whole of him is in virtue of a gift in every man, and in each [one] by presence, not being divided nor cleft asunder, but [above] everything by nature, and in everything as God. ‘But in that all-pure and holy body ‘all the fulness of the Godhead bodily has come to dwell’, as it is written. And he was as in his own flesh, but still even so he filled all things from him» 178. And in the treatise addressed to the queens the opening words of which are, Those who administer the divine and heavenly preaching’, he explains the meaning of the statement that the Word of God and all the fulness of the Godhead came to dwell in flesh as written by Paul in this way: «But we believe that the Word became flesh, not by way of removal or change, but rather that he came to dwell in us, and, to speak correctly, made the body that was in truth united |72 to him, possessing an intelligent soul, his own temple. And the divine Paul, declaring the indwelling of the Word in the holy flesh, or the true union, said that in him all the fulness of the Godhead came to dwell, not so much by way of assumption or presence, or by way of a gift of grace, but bodily, that is in essence; as in the case of a man also it is said [that] his spirit dwells in him, though it is not something different from him»179. How then shall we say [that] he who is wholly in everything by way of gift, and in each man in presence (for he receives all things from him and they depend upon his presence), and who further also is in everything and is nowhere cleft asunder or divided, and further is wholly in the all-holy flesh in essence, and so is united to it, after the fashion in which the soul of a man like us is united to its own body, how shall we say that he is without his own flesh, because he filled all these things with the gift of himself, he who is infinite, and is wholly in everything? But to inquire into such a marvellous subject is a piece of utter foolishness: for glorious things are sealed by faith only. In the other treatise addressed to the religious virgin queens, Arcadia and Marina, which begins, ‘The world’s boast’, the same wise Cyril |73 inserted a demonstration from the holy John who became bishop of Constantinople, who spoke about the God-bearer Mary, and about the birth of God the Word, as follows: «’And instead of a sun she contained without confining the Sun of righteousness. And do not ask how: for, where God wills, the order of nature is defeated. For he willed, he was able, he came down, and he saved. All things run into one for God. To-day he who is is born, and he who is became that which he was not. For, being God, he became man, not by departing from being God; for he did not became man by departure from Godhead, nor did he become God by growth from man: but, being the Word, he became flesh on account of suffering 180, while he remained invariable in his nature’. And he adds to these things: ‘He who sits upon a lofty and high throne is laid in a manger. He who is intangible and simple and bodiless is grasped by human hands. He who cuts asunder the bonds of sin is wrapped in swaddling-clothes’»181. And the saintly Proclus who became bishop of the same city in the exposition which he delivered in the church of Anthimus on the feast of the Resurrection spoke to the same effect as follows: «The heaven |74 cries, ‘He who became man, who was crucified in flesh, is God: for as God he caused me to incline and came down’. The sun also cries, ‘He who was crucified in flesh is my Lord: for I in fear of the light of the Godhead held-back my rays’. The earth also cries, ‘He who clothed himself in a body, who was crucified in flesh, is the Maker: for, though I embraced his flesh in a manger, yet I did not confine the might of his Godhead’» 182. It would have been possible to add other things also which are like these and resemble them, but it is superfluous to add to what has been so wisely said, and make the discussion inordinately long. But I pray your holy assembly and lawful church to be of the same mind, as the apostle said 183, and conform to the same rule 184, and, if any disputed point arises, not make this a cause of strife and division, and of useless contentions, but lovingly join with one another in the inquiry. But, if any of you has anything to say, let him speak with humble mind, as the words of God, as Peter the ‘chosen apostle gave admonition 185. If anything also needs further explanation, you must not act hastily, nor be in a hurry, but await the proper time, and bring it before the saintly bishops, and accept the healing that they shall apply. As for |75 the brother who gave occasion for this dispute, since we have written these few words, receive him lovingly, and strengthen him, and acknowledge him as your member. And, whether he is one man, or many who were associated with him in this dispute or ignorance, act in the same way towards them: for concerning those who are such the apostle commands us and says, at one time, «Him that is weak in the faith bring near to you»186, and at another, «And reckon them not as enemies, but admonish them as brothers»187. It is not because they made inquiries, or because they were ignorant that they are blameworthy; on the contrary they would actually have been praised, if they had discussed the point with humility, and not with haste and confusion, and with a desire to add to ignorance; for this is what prevented them from being received in regard to the discussion which they raised. However, now that we have written so much, let love vanquish everything, and let not these distressing matters come even into remembrance: for ‘love’ also, as it is written, ‘covers a multitude of sins’188; which love may the God of love and the lawgiver Christ also strengthen in you. |76
The signature. May you be made perfect in the Lord, being sound, and living in the Spirit, and remembering me, our religious and Christ-loving brothers.
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