Cyril of Alexandria (375AD – 444AD) was considered one of the doctors of the church fathers and was officially given title as doctor of the church in 1882. He was chiefly known for the one who battle against the heresies of Nestorius. Nestorius believed Jesus had two natures, one divine and one human. He tried to keep the two apart. He did not want the imperfections of humanity to taint the being of God, particularly the idea of the divine experiencing pain and suffering in the Person of Jesus Christ. Nestorius had a particular concern with Mary given the title, Mother of God as this implied the eclipsing of Jesus’ humanity by his divine nature.
Cyril was educated in Alexandria in theology and the classics. He was ordained by his uncle Theophilus and eventually succeeded him upon his death as the Patriarch of Alexandria in 403AD. As a result of his continuing battle against the Nestorian heresy, much of Cyril’s writings were a response to the errors in his teaching. He also wrote against Pelagianism. This heresy believes that the human mature is essentially good and the human will is free. There are elements of this heresy in modern evangelical with its emphasis on free will in some limited atonement doctrines. Many of us have had personal experiences of such doctrine. This is why reading the work of Cyril is so very interesting.
When we read with the premise of union into the relationship between the Son and the Father, the Son and His humanity, the Son and our humanity and creation and the Trinity, the whole structure of the way we see scripture begins to change. The way Cyril exegetes the Gospel according to John, is somewhat different to the way we understand it today, especially in the epilogue, John 1:1-21. Though sin is never taken lightly or minimised in any way, we find his understanding of sin has no dualistic foundation, i.e. sin defined as separation from God. We see such beauty in how the gospel was understood in such tenuous times as those early days.