John of Damascus: An Exact Exposition of the Faith Book 3

Chapter 1

And so, Man succumbed to the assault of the demon, the author of evil; he failed to keep the Creator’s commandment and was stripped of grace and deprived of that familiarity which he had enjoyed with God; he was clothed with the roughness of his wretched life—for this is what the fig leaves signify—and put on death, that is to say, the mortality and grossness of the flesh for this is what the garment of skins signifies; he was excluded from paradise by the just judgment of God; and was condemned to death and made subject to corruption. Even then the Compassionate One, who had given him his being and had favoured him with a blessed existence, did not disregard him. On the contrary, He first schooled him and exhorted him to conversion in many ways—by groaning and trembling, by a flood of waters and the near destruction of the entire race, by the confusion and division of tongues, by the tutelage of angels, by the destruction of cities by fire, by prefigurative divine appearances, by war, victories and defeats, by signs and portents, by diverse influences, by the Law and the Prophets, all of which were directed to the destruction of that sin which had abounded under many forms and had enslaved man and heaped every sort of evil into his life, and to his return to the blessed existence . Since it was by sin that death had come into the world like some wild and savage beast to destroy the life of man, it was necessary for the one who was to effect a redemption to be sinless and not liable to the death which is due to sin. And it was further necessary for human nature to be strengthened and renewed, to be taught by experience, and to learn the way of virtue which turns back from destruction and leads to eternal life. Finally, the great sea of His benevolence toward man was made manifest, for the Creator and Lord Himself took up the struggle in behalf of His own creation and became a teacher in deed. And, since the enemy had caught man with the bait of the hope of divinity, he himself was taken with the bait of the barrier of the flesh; and at the same time the goodness and wisdom and justice and power of God were made manifest. His goodness, because He did not despise the weakness of His own handiwork, but, when he fell, had compassion on him and stretched out His hand to him. His justice, because, when man had suffered defeat, He did not have another conquer the tyrant nor did He snatch man away from death by force, but He, the Good and Just, made him victor against whom death had once enslaved through sin; and like He rescued by like, which was most difficult to do. And His wisdom, because He found the most fitting solution for this most difficult problem. For by the good pleasure of God the Father the only-begotten Son and Word of God and God, who is in the bosom of God the Father, consubstantial with the Father and with the Holy Ghost, existing before the ages, without beginning, who was in the beginning and was with God the Father and was God, He, being in the form of God, bowed down the heavens and descended—that is, without lowering it, He brought down His exalted sublimity and condescended to His servants with an ineffable and incomprehensible condescension, for such is the meaning of the term, condescension. And He, while being perfect God, became perfect man and accomplished the newest of all new things, the only new thing under the sun, by which the infinite power of God was clearly shown. For what is greater than for God to become man? So, without suffering change, the Word was made flesh of the Holy Ghost and the holy and ever-virgin Mary, Mother of God. And He stands as mediator between God and men. He, the only loving One, was conceived in the immaculate womb of the Virgin not by the will of man, nor by concupiscence, nor by the intervention of a husband, nor by pleasurable generation, but of the Holy Ghost and the first offspring of Adam. And He became obedient to the Father by healing our disobedience with that which is like to us and which was taken from us, and by becoming to us a model of that obedience without which it is impossible to attain salvation.


Chapter 2

Now, an angel of the Lord was sent to the holy Virgin, who was descended from the tribe of David, ‘for it is evident that our Lord sprung out of Juda: of which tribe no one attended on the altar,’ as the divine Apostle said and concerning which we shall speak more fully later on. Bringing the good tidings to her, he said: ‘Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.’ And she was troubled at his saying, and the angel said to her: ‘Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God, and thou shalt bring forth a son and thou shalt call his name Jesus; for he shall save his people from their sins.’ It is for this reason that the name Jesus is interpreted as meaning saviour. And she was troubled and said: ‘How shall this be done to me, because I know not man?’ Again the angel spoke to her: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born to thee shall be called the Son of God.’ Then she said to him: ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it done to me according to thy word.’

And so, after the holy Virgin had given her assent, the Holy Ghost came upon her according to the Lord’s word, which the angel had spoken, and purified her and gave her the power both to receive the divinity of the Word and to beget. Then the subsistent Wisdom and Power of the Most High, the Son of God, the Consubstantial with the Father, overshadowed her like a divine seed and from her most chaste and pure blood compacted for Himself a body animated by a rational and intellectual soul as first-fruits of our clay. This was not by seed, but by creation through the Holy Ghost, with the form not being put together bit by bit, but being completed all at once with the Word of God Himself serving as the person to the flesh. For the divine Word was not united to an already self-subsistent flesh, but, without being circumscribed, came in His own person to dwell in the womb of the holy Virgin and from the chaste blood of the ever-virgin made flesh subsist animated by a rational and intellectual soul. Taking to Himself the first-fruits of the human clay, the very Word became person to the body. Thus, there was a body which was at once the body of God the Word and an animate, rational, intellectual body. Therefore, we do not say that man became God, but that God became man. For, while He was by nature perfect God, the same became by nature perfect man. He did not change His nature and neither did He just appear to become man. On the contrary, without confusion or alteration or division. He became hypostatically united to the rationally and intellectually animated flesh which He had from the holy Virgin and which had its existence in Him. He did not transform the nature of his divinity into the substance of His flesh, nor the substance of His flesh into the nature of His divinity, and neither did He effect one compound nature out of His divine nature and the human nature which He had assumed.


Chapter 3

The natures were united to each other without change and without alteration. The divine nature did not give up its proper simplicity, and the human nature was certainly not changed into the nature of the divinity, nor did it become non-existent. Neither was there one compound nature made from the two natures. For the compounded nature can in no wise be consubstantial with either one of the natures from which it has been compounded, since from diverse natures it has been made into something else. For example, the body, which is made up of the four elements, is not said to be consubstantial with fire, nor is it called fire, nor is it called water or earth or air either, nor is it consubstantial with any one of these. Accordingly, if Christ had one compound nature after the union, having changed from one simple nature to a compound one, as the heretics say, then He is neither consubstantial with His Father, who has a simple nature, nor with His Mother, because she was not composed of divinity and humanity. Nor, indeed, will He belong to divinity or humanity, nor can He be called God or man, but just Christ alone, and, according to them, ‘Christ’ will not be the name of the person but the name of the one nature. We, however, declare that Christ has a compound nature, not in the sense of something new made from different things, as man is made up of body and soul or as the body is composed of the four elements, but in the sense of being made up of different things which remain the same. For we confess that from divinity and humanity there is the same perfect God and that He both is and is said to be of two natures and in two natures. We say that the term ‘Christ’ is the name of the person and that it is not used in a restricted sense, but as signifying what is of the two natures. Thus, He anointed Himself—as God, anointing His body with His divinity, but as man, being anointed, because He is both the one and the other. Moreover, the anointing of the humanity is the divinity. Now, if Christ, who is consubstantial with the Father, has one compounded nature, then the Father, too, will certainly be compounded and consequently consubstantial with the flesh, which is absurd and redolent of every blasphemy.

What is more, how can one nature comprise different substances that are contradictory? How is it possible for the same nature to be at once created and uncreated, mortal and immortal, circumscribed and uncircumscribed?

Now, were they to say that Christ had one nature and that this was simple, then either they would be confessing Him to be pure God and would be introducing a mere appearance that would not be incarnation, or they would be confessing Him to be mere man after the manner of Nestorius. Then, where is the perfection in divinity and the perfection in humanity? How can they ever say that Christ has two natures, while they are asserting that after the union He has one compound nature? For it is obvious to anyone that, before the union, Christ had one nature.

However, the reason for the heretics’ error is their saying that nature and hypostasis are the same thing. Now, when we say that men have one nature, it must be understood that we do not say this with the body and soul in mind, because it is impossible to say that the soul and the body as compared to each other have one nature. Nevertheless, when we take a number of human hypostases, all of these are found to admit of the same basis of their nature. All are made up of a soul and a body, all share the nature of the soul and possess the substance of the body, and all have a common species. Thus, we say that several different persons have one nature, because each person has two natures and is complete in these two natures, that is to say, the natures of the soul and of the body.

In the case of our Lord Jesus Christ, however, it is impossible to have a common species, for there never was, nor is, nor ever will be another Christ of divinity and humanity, in divinity and humanity, the same being perfect God and perfect man. Hence, in the case of our Lord Jesus Christ, one cannot speak of one nature made up of divinity and humanity as one can in the case of the individual made up of soul and body. In this last case we have an individual, but Christ is not an individual, because He does not have a predicated species of Christness. It is precisely for this reason that we say that it was of two perfect natures, the divine and the human, that the union was made. It was not made by mixing, or mingling, or blending, or compounding as was asserted by the fatal Dioscorus, by Eutyches, too, and Severus, and their accursed associates; neither was It apparent (προσωπικἠ) nor relative, nor by dignity or harmony of will or equality in honour or identity of name or complaisance as was asserted by that enemy of God, Nestorius, and by Diodorus, too, and Theodore of Mopsuestia, and their hellish band. Rather, it was by composition—hypostatically, that is to say—without change or mingling or alteration or division or separation. And we confess one Person of the Son of God incarnate in two natures that remain perfect, and we declare that the Person of His divinity and of His humanity is the same and confess that the two natures are preserved intact in Him after the union. We do not set each nature apart by itself, but hold them to be united to each other in one composite Person. For we say that the union is substantial; that is to say, true and not imaginary. We do not, however, define the substantial union as meaning that the two natures go to make up one compound nature, but as meaning that they are truly united to each other into one composite Person of the Son of God, each with its essential difference maintained intact. Thus, that which was created remained created, and that which was uncreated, uncreated; the mortal remained mortal and the immortal immortal; the circumscribed remained circumscribed and the uncircumscribed, uncircumscribed ; the visible remained visible and the invisible, invisible. ‘The one glows with miracles, while the other has succumbed to insults.’

Moreover, the Word makes human things His own, because what is proper to His sacred flesh belongs to Him; and the things which are His own He communicates to His flesh. This is after the manner of exchange on account of the mutual immanence of the parts and the hypostatic union and because He who ‘with each form co-operating with the other performed both divine and human acts was one and the same. Wherefore, the Lord of Glory is even said to have been crucified, although His divine nature did not suffer; and the Son of Man is confessed to have been in heaven before His passion, as the Lord Himself has said. For one and the same was the Lord of Glory and He who was naturally and truly Son of Man, that is, He who became man. And we recognise both the miracles and the sufferings as His, even though it was in one nature that He worked miracles and in another that He endured suffering. For we know that His one Person thus preserves for itself the essential difference of the natures. How, indeed, would the difference be preserved, were not those things preserved in which they differ from each other? For difference is that by which things that are different differ. Therefore, we say that Christ is joined to the extremes by the fact of His natures differing from each other, that is, by the fact of His essence. On the one hand, He is joined to the Father and the Spirit by His divinity, while on the other He is joined by His humanity to His Mother and to all men. However, because of the fact that His natures are united, we say that He differs both from the Father and the Spirit and from His Mother and other men. For His natures are united in His Person and have one composite Person and in this He differs both from the Father and the Spirit and from His Mother and us.


Chapter 4

We have repeatedly said that substance is one thing and person another, and that substance means the common species including the persons that belong to the same species—as, for example, God, man—while person indicates an individual, as Father, Son, Holy Ghost, Peter, Paul. One must furthermore know that the terms divinity and humanity are indicative of the substances or natures, but that the terms God and man are used in reference to the nature, as when we say: ‘God is an incomprehensible substance’ and ᾽God is one᾽ But these are also taken as referring to the persons, with the more particular receiving the name of the more general, as when Scripture says: ‘Therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee,’ for in this case it means the Father and the Son. And again, when it says: ‘There was a man in the land of Hus,᾽ for it means Job only. Since, then, in our Lord Jesus Christ we recognise two natures and one composite Person for both, when we are considering the natures, we call them divinity and humanity. But, when we consider the composite Person of the two natures, we sometimes call Christ both God and Man and God incarnate, naming Him from both; and sometimes we name Him from one of the two and call Him just God and Son of God, or just Man and Son of Man. And also, we sometimes name Him from just the sublime attributes and sometimes from just the more humble ones. For He is one who is alike both the one and the other—the one existing uncaused and eternally from the Father; the other come into being at a later time because of love for men.

Therefore, when we speak of the divinity, we do not attribute the properties of the humanity to it. Thus, we never speak of a passible or created divinity. Neither do we pred- icate the divine properties of the flesh, for we never speak of uncreated flesh or humanity. In the case of the person 3 however, whether we name it from both of the parts or from one of them, we attribute the properties of both the natures to it. And thus, Christ—which name covers both together—is called both God and man, created and uncreated, passible and impassible. And whenever He is named Son of God and God from one of the parts, He receives the properties of the co-existent nature, of the flesh, that is to say, and can be called passible God and crucified Lord of Glory—not as being God, but in so far as the same one is also man. When, again, He is named Man and the Son of Man, He is given the properties and splendors of the divine nature. He is called Child before the Ages and Man without beginning, not as a child or a man, but as God, who is before the ages and became a child in latter times. Such, then, is the manner of this exchange by which each nature communicates its own properties to the other through the identity of their person and their mutual immanence. This is how we can say of Christ: ‘This is our God, who was seen upon earth and conversed with men,’ and: This man is uncreated, impassible, and uncircumscribed.’


Chapter 5

In the Divinity we confess one nature, while we hold three really existing Persons. And we hold everything belonging to the nature and the essence to be simple, while we recognise the difference of the Persons as residing only in the three properties of being uncaused and Father, of being caused and Son, and of being caused and proceeding. And we understand them to be inseparable and without interval between them, and united to one another and mutually immanent without confusion. And we understand them, while being separated without interval, to be united without confusion, for they are three, even though they are united. For, although each is subsistent in itself, that is to say, is a perfect Person and has its own property or distinct manner of existence, they are united in their essence and natural properties and by their not being separated or removed from the Person of the Father, and they are one God and are so called. In the same way, when it comes to that divine and ineffable Incarnation of one of the Holy Trinity, God the Word and our Lord Jesus Christ, which surpasses all understanding and comprehension, while we confess two natures, a divine and a human, conjoined with each other and hypostatically united, we also confess one composite Person made of those natures. We furthermore hold that, even after the union, the two natures are preserved intact in the one composite person, that is to say, in the one Christ, and that they and their natural properties have real existence, being nevertheless united without confusion, differing without separation, and numbered. Now, just as the three Persons of the Holy Trinity are united without confusion and are distinct without separation and have number without the number causing division, or separation, or estrangement, or severance among them—for we recognise that the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost are one God—so in the same way the natures of Christ, although united, are united without confusion, and, although mutually immanent, do not suffer any change or transformation of one into the other. For each one keeps its own distinctiveness unchanged. Thus, too, they are numbered, yet the number does not introduce division. For Christ is one and He is perfect both in divinity and humanity. And number is not by nature a cause of division or union, but is, rather, a sign of the quantity of the things numbered, whether they be united or divided. Thus, as an example of things that are united, this wall contains fifty stones; or, as an example of things that are divided, there are fifty stones lying in this field. Or again, as an example of things that are united, there are two natures in a coal that of fire, I mean, and that of wood; or these may be divided, because the nature of fire is one thing and that of wood another. And these are not united or divided by their number but in some other manner. And so, just as it is impossible to say that the three Persons are one Person, even though they are united, without bringing about confusion or suppression of the difference, so it is impossible to say that the two hypostatically united natures of Christ are one nature without our bringing about suppression, confusion, or annihilation of their difference.


Chapter 6

Things that are common and universal are predicated of particulars subordinate to them. Now, the substance as a species is a common thing, while the person is a particular. A thing is a particular not in that it possesses a part of the nature, because it does not have such a part, but in that it is particular in number, as an individual. Thus, persons are said to differ in number but not in nature. The substance, moreover, is predicated of the person, because the substance is complete in each of the persons of the same species. For that reason, persons do not differ from one another in substance, but rather in the accidents, which are their characteristic properties—characteristic, however, of the person and not of the nature. And this is because the person is defined as a substance plus accidents. Thus, the person has that which is common plus that which is individuating, and, besides this, existence in itself. Substance does not subsist in itself, but is to be found in persons. Accordingly, when one of the persons suffers, then, since the whole nature in which the person has suffered is affected, this whole nature is said to have suffered in one of its persons. This, however, does not necessitate all the persons of the same species suffering together with the one that does suffer.

Thus, then, we confess that the nature of the divinity is entirely and completely in each one of its Persons all in the Father, all in the Son, all in the Holy Ghost. For this reason, the Father is perfect God, the Son is perfect God, and the Holy Ghost is perfect God. In the same way, we say that in the Incarnation of one of the Holy Trinity, the Word of God, the entire and complete nature of the divinity was united in one of its Persons to the entire human nature, and not a part of one to a part of the other. And so the divine Apostle say that ‘in Him dwelleth the fullness of the Godhead corporeally,’ that is to say, in His flesh. And his inspired disciple Dionysius, who was most learned in matters divine, says that the Divinity in its entirety has community with us in one of its Persons. But, certainly, let us not be constrained to say that all the Persons of the sacred Godhead, the Three, that is, were hypostatically united to all the persons of humanity. For in no wise did the Father and the Holy Ghost participate in the incarnation of the Word of God except by Their good pleasure and will. We do say that the entire substance of the Divinity was united to the entire human nature, because God the Word lacked none of those things which He implanted in our nature when He formed us in the beginning; He assumed them all—a body and a rational, intellectual soul, together with the properties of both, for the animal which lacks one of these is not a man. He in His entirety assumed me in my entirety and was wholly united to the whole, so that He might bestow the grace of salvation upon the whole. For that which has not been assumed cannot be healed.

And so, the Word of God is united to the flesh by the intermediary of mind which stands midway between the purity of God and the grossness of the flesh. Now, the mind has authority over both soul and body, but, whereas mind is the purest part of the soul, God is the purest part of mind. And when the mind of Christ is permitted by the stronger, then it displays its own authority. However, it is under the control of the stronger and follows it, doing those things which the divine will desires.

Moreover, the mind became the seat of the Divinity which had been hypostatically united to it, just as, of course, the flesh did but not an associate, as the accursed opinion of the heretics falsely teaches, when, judging immaterial things in a material way, they say that one measure will not hold two. But, how shall Christ have been said to be perfect God and perfect man and consubstantial both with the Father and with us, if a part of the divine nature is united in Him to a part of the human nature?

Furthermore, when we say that our nature rose from the dead and ascended and sat at the right hand of the Father, we do not imply that all human persons arose and sat at the right hand of the Father, but that our entire nature did so in the Person of Christ. Certainly, the divine Apostle says: ‘He hath raised us up together and hath made us sit together in Christ.’

And we also say this: that the union was made of common substances. For every substance is common to the persons included under it. And it is not possible to find a partial and individuating nature of substance, since it would then be necessary to say that the same persons were of the same substance and of different substances, and that the Holy Trinity was in its divinity both of the same substance and of different substances. Consequently, the same nature is found in each one of the Persons. And when, following the blessed Athanasius and Cyril, we say that the nature of the Word became incarnate, we are declaring that the Divinity was united to the flesh. For this reason, we may by no means say: ‘The nature of the Word suffered,’ because the Divinity did not suffer in Him. But we do say that human nature suffered in Christ without any implication that all human persons did; confessing that Christ suffered in His human nature. Thus, when we say ‘the nature of the Word,’ we mean the Word Himself. And the Word possesses the community of substance and the individuality of person.


Chapter 7

We say, then, that the divine Person of God the Word exists before all things timelessly and eternally, simple and uncompounded, uncreated, incorporeal, invisible, intangible, and uncircumscribed. And we say that it has all things that the Father has, since it is consubstantial with Him, and that it differs from the Person of the Father by the manner of its begetting and by relation, that it is perfect and never leaves the Person of the Father. But, at the same time, we say that in latter times, without leaving the bosom of the Father, the Word came to dwell uncircumscribed in the womb of the holy Virgin, without seed and without being contained, but after a manner known to Him, and in the very same Person as exists before the ages He made flesh subsist for Himself from the holy Virgin.

Thus, He was in all things and above all things, and at the same time He was existing in the womb of the holy Mother of God, but He was there by the operation of the Incarnation. And so, He was made flesh and took from her the first-fruits of our clay, a body animated by a rational and intellectual soul, so that the very Person of God the Word was accounted to the flesh. And the Person of the Word which formerly had been simple was made composite. Moreover, it was a composite from two perfect natures, divinity and humanity. And it had that characteristic and distinctive property of sonship by which God the Word is distinct from the Father and the Spirit, and also had those characteristic and distinctive properties of the flesh by which He is distinct both from His Mother and from the rest of men. It further had those properties of the divine nature in which He is one with the Father and the Spirit, and also had those features of human nature in which He is one with His Mother and with us. Moreover, He differs from the Father and the Spirit and from His Mother and us in yet another way, by His being at once both God and man. For this we recognise as a most peculiar property of the Person of Christ.

And so, we confess that even after the Incarnation He is the one Son of God, and we confess that the same is the Son of Man, one Christ, one Lord, the only-begotten Son and Word of God, Jesus our Lord. And we venerate His two begettings one from the Father before the ages and surpassing cause and reason and time and nature, and one in latter times for our own sake, after our own manner, and surpassing us. For our own sake, because it was for the sake of our salvation; after our own manner, because He was made man from a woman and with a period of gestation; and surpassing us, because, surpassing the law of conception, He was not from seed but from the Holy Ghost and the holy Virgin Mary. And we do not proclaim Him God alone, stripped of our humanity, nor do we despoil Him of His divinity and proclaim Him man alone. Neither do we proclaim Him one and another; rather, we proclaim Him to be one and the same, at once both God and man, perfect God and perfect man, God entire and man entire the same being God entire, even with His flesh, and man entire, even with His most sacred divinity. By saying ‘perfect God and perfect man’ we show the fullness and completeness of the natures, while by saying ‘God entire and man entire’ we point out the individuality and the indivisibility of the person.

Following the blessed Cyril, we also confess one incarnate nature of the Word of God and by saying ‘incarnate’ intend the substance of the flesh. So, the Word was made flesh without giving up His own immateriality and He was wholly made flesh while remaining wholly uncircumscribed. With respect to His body He becomes small and contracted, while with respect divinity He is uncircumscribed, for His body is not co-extensive with His uncircumscribed divinity.

The whole He, then, is perfect God, but not wholly God, because He is not only God but also man. Likewise, the whole He is perfect man, but not wholly man, because He is not only man but also God. For the ‘wholly’ is indicative of nature, while the ‘whole’ is indicative of person, just a ‘one thing’ is of nature, while ‘another one’ is of person. One must know, moreover, that, although we say that the natures of the Lord are mutually immanent, we know that this immanence comes from the divine nature. For this last pervades all things and indwells as it wishes, but nothing pervades it. And it communicates its own splendours to the body while remaining impassible and having no part in the affections of the body. For, if the sun communicates its own operations to us, yet has no part in our own, then how much more so the Creator of the sun who is the Lord?


Chapter 8

Should anyone inquire regarding the natures of the Lord as to whether they are reducible to a continuous quantity or to a divided one, we shall reply that the Lord’s natures are neither one solid, nor one surface, nor one line, nor are they place or time, so as to be reducible to a continuous quantity—for these are the things which are accounted to be continuous.

It must be known, moreover, that number belongs to things which differ and that it is impossible for things to be numbered which do not differ at all. It is by that in which they differ that things are numbered. For example, in so far as Peter and Paul are one, they are not numbered. Thus, since they are one by reason of their substance, they cannot be called two natures. However, since they do differ in person, they are called two persons. Hence, things which differ have number, and it is according to the manner in which they differ that they are numbered.

Now, whereas the Lord’s natures are hypostatically united without confusion, they are divided without separation by reason and way of their difference. In so far as they are one, they have no number, for we do not say that Christ has two natures according to person. They are numbered, however, by way of their being divided without separation. For by reason and way of their difference the natures of Christ are two. Thus, being hypostatically one and mutually immanent, they are united without confusion with each one preserving its own natural difference. And so, since they are numbered by way of their difference only, it is in that way that they will be reducible to a divided quantity. Christ, then, who is perfect God and perfect man, is one. Him do we adore with the Father and the Spirit together with His immaculate body in one adoration. And we do not say that His body is not to be adored, because it is adored in the one Person of the Word who became Person to it. Yet we do not worship the creature, because we do not adore it as a mere body, but as being one with the divinity, because His two natures belong to the one Person and the one subsistence of the Word of God. I am afraid to touch the burning coal because of the fire which is combined with the wood. I adore the combined natures of Christ because of the divinity which is united to the body. Thus, I do not add a fourth person to the Trinity—God forbid!— but I do confess the Person of the Word of God and of His flesh to be one. For, even after the Incarnation of the Word, the Trinity remained Trinity.

To those who inquire as to whether the two natures are reducible to a continuous or divided quantity?

The Lord’s natures are neither one solid, nor one surface, nor one line, nor are they place or time, so as to be reducible to a continuous quantity—for these are the things which are accounted to be continuous. Moreover, the Lord’s natures are hypostatically united without confusion and they are divided without separation by reason and way of their difference. In so far as they are one, they have no number. For we do not say that Christ’s natures are two Persons or that they are two according to Person. They are numbered, how- ever, by way of their being divided without separation. For there are two natures by reason and way of their difference. Thus, being hypostatically one and mutually immanent, they are united without any confusion or transformation of one into the other and with each preserving its own natural difference for itself. For the created remained created and the uncreated uncreated. And so, since they are numbered by way of their difference only, it is in that way that they will be reducible to a divided quantity. For it is impossible for things to be numbered which do not differ at all. It is by that in which they differ that things are numbered. For example, in so far as Peter and Paul are one, they are not numbered. Thus, since they are one by reason of their substance, they neither are two natures nor are they so called. However, since they do differ in person, they are called two persons. And so their difference is the cause of their number.


Chapter 9

Now, although there is no nature without subsistence (ἀνυπόστατσις) or substance without person, because both the substance and the nature are only to be found in subsistences and persons, it is unnecessary for natures hypostatically united to each other to be provided each with its own subsistence. For they can concur in one subsistence without being non-subsistent, yet not having each its own individuating subsistence, but both having one and the same. Thus, since the same Person of the Word belongs to both natures, it does not allow one of them to lack subsistences, nor is it now the Person of one and now that of the other. On the contrary, it is always indivisibly and inseparably Person of both, and is not distributed and divided by the allotment of one part of itself to the one nature and another part to the other, but belongs indivisibly and entirely all to one and all to the other. For the flesh of the Word of God was not independently subsistent nor was there any other person besides that of the Word of God. On the contrary, it was in the Person of the Word that the flesh subsisted, or, rather, had personality (ἐνυπόστασις) , and it did not become an independently subsisting person in itself. For this reason, it neither lacks personality nor introduces another person into the Trinity.


Chapter 10

It follows from the preceding that we consider blasphemous the addition made to the Thrice-Holy Hymn by that stupid Peter the Fuller, because it introduces a fourth person and makes the Son of God partly the subsistent power of the Father and partly the crucified One as if this last were another than the Strong, or as if the Holy Trinity was held to be passible and the Father and the Holy Ghost to have been crucified along with the Son. Away with this blasphemous interpolated nonsense! We understand the ‘Holy God’ as referring to the Father, and yet we do not restrict the appellation of divinity to Him alone, but recognise the Son and the Holy Ghost to be God, also. The ‘Holy Strong’ we take as referring to the Son, yet we do not strip the Father and the Holy Ghost of their strength. And the ‘Holy Immortal’ we apply to the Holy Ghost without excluding the Father and the Son from immortality, but understanding all the divine attributes as referring to each of the Persons. In this we are faithfully imitating the Apostle when he says: ‘Yet to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we of him: and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him: and one Holy Ghost, in whom are all things, and we in him,᾽ and in the same way Gregory the Theologian, who somewhere says: “To us there is one God the Father, from whom are all things, and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and one Holy Ghost, in whom are all things.᾽ And the ‘from whom,᾽ ‘through whom,’ and ‘in whom᾽ do not divide the natures, for in that case the prepositions and the order of the names would not be changeable. Rather, they designate the properties of one unconfused nature. This is also clear from the fact that they are found brought together into one again, when one reads with attention that passage from the same Apostle that runs: ᾽Of him, and by him, and in him are all things: to him be glory for ever. Amen.’

Moreover, the divine and holy Athanasius, and Basil, Gregory, and the whole choir of inspired Fathers bear witness to the fact that the Thrice-Holy Hymn is not addressed to the Son alone, but to the Holy Trinity, saying that by the threefold sanctification the holy Seraphim are intimating to us the three Persons of the super-substantial Godhead. And by the one dominion they are making known the one substance and kingdom of the divinely sovereign Trinity. Certainly, Gregory the Theologian says: ‘Thus, then, the Holy of Holies, which is veiled by the Seraphim, is glorified with three sanctifications converging into one dominion and God-head, which has also been most beautifully and sublimely discussed by a certain other of our predecessors.’

Now, those who have compiled the history of the Church relate how once, when Proculus was archbishop, the people of Constantinople were making public entreaty to avert some threat of the divine wrath, and it happened that a child was taken up out of the crowd and by some angelic choirmasters was taught the Thrice-Holy Hymn after the following fashion: ‘Holy God, Holy Strong, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us.’ When the child came back again and told what he had been taught, the whole crowd sang the hymn and the threat was averted. And it is traditional that the Thrice-Holy Hymn was also sung in this manner at the holy and great Fourth Ecumenical Council that which was held in Chalcedon, I mean for so it is reported in the acts of this same holy council. So it is really a silly and childish thing for the Thrice-Holy Song, which was taught by the angels, confirmed by the averting of the disaster, ratified and guaranteed by the council of so many holy Fathers, and sung first of all by the Seraphim to express the Godhead in three Persons, to have been trampled upon, as it were, and supposedly corrected by the absurd conceit of the Fuller as if he were greater than the Seraphim. Oh, what presumption not to call it madness! However, though the demons may burst, we, too, will say in this way : ‘Holy God, Holy Strong, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us.’


Chapter 11

The nature may either be taken purely theoretically, since it is not self-subsistent ; or it may be taken as what is common to persons of the same species and connects them, in which case it is said to be a nature taken specifically; or the same, with accidents added, may be considered wholly in one person, in which case it is said to be a nature taken individ- ually, which is the same as that taken specifically. Now, when God the Word became incarnate, He did not assume His human nature as taken in a purely theoretical sense for that would have been no real incarnation, but a fraudulent and fictitious one. Nor did He assume it as taken specifically, because He did not assume all persons. But He did assume it as taken individually, which is the same as that taken specifically. For He assumed the first-fruits of our clay not as self-subsistent and having been an individual previously and as such taken on by Him, but as having its subsistence in His Person. Thus, this Person of the Word of God became Person to the flesh, and in this way ‘the Word was made flesh, and that without any change, and the flesh without transformation was made Word, and God was made man. For the Word is God, and man is God by virtue of the hypostatic union. It is therefore the same thing to say ‘the nature of the Word’ as it is to say ‘the nature taken individually,’ for it properly and exclusively shows not the individual, the Person, that is to say, nor that which is common to the Persons, but the common nature as found and discovered in one of the Persons.

Now, union is one thing and incarnation another. This is because union shows the joining, but not that with which the junction is made. Incarnation, however, is the same thing as is meant by saying becoming man, and it shows a joining with the flesh, that is, with man just as the firing of the steel implies the union with fire. Thus, in explaining the expression ‘one incarnate nature of the Word of God,’ the blessed Cyril himself in his second letter to Succensus says as follows: ‘If we were to speak of one nature of the Word but were to keep silent and not add the “incarnate,” thus setting aside, as it were, the dispensation, then they perhaps would not be speaking entirely without reason who might pretend to ask: “If one nature is the whole, then where is the perfection in humanity? or: “How did the substance which is like ours subsist?” However, since by saying “incarnate” both the perfection in humanity and the indication of the substance like ours have been introduced, let them cease to lean on their reedy staff.’ Here, then, he has used the ‘nature’ of the Lord in the sense of nature. This is evident because, if he had taken the nature in the sense of Person, it would not have been out of place to say it without the “incarnate,” for we are not wrong when we simply say ‘one Person of the Word of God.’ What is more, Leontius of Byzance has likewise understood the expression in the same way as meaning nature, but not nature in the sense of person. And the blessed Cyril himself, in his defence against Theodoret’s attacks on the Second Anathema, speaks thus: The nature of the Word, that is to say, the Person, which is the Word Himself.’ Consequently, to say ‘the nature of the Word’ is not to signify the person alone, nor what is common to the Persons, but the common nature as considered wholly in the Person of the Word.

Now although it has been said that the nature of the Word became incarnate, that is, was united to the flesh, we have never heard up to now that the nature of the Word suffered in the flesh. We have, however, been taught that Christ suffered in the flesh. Consequently, saying ‘nature of the Word’ does not signify the Person. So it remains to say that to have become incarnate means to have been united to the flesh, and that the Word was made flesh means that without suffering change the very Person of the Word became Person of the body. And again, although it has been said that God was made man and man God—for the Word, while being God, was made man without suffering change, yet we have never heard at all that the Godhead was made man, or was incarnate, or put on human nature. We have, however, learned that the Godhead was united to humanity in one of Its Persons. It has also been said that God takes on another form, or substance—ours, that is to say. For the name God applies to each one of the Persons, but we cannot say Godhead in reference to a Person, because we have not heard that the Godhead is the Father alone, or the Son alone, or the Holy Ghost alone. This is because Godhead indicates the nature, whereas Father indicates the Person, just as humanity indicates the nature, and Peter the person. The name God, moreover, also signifies the community of nature and is applied to each of the Persons like a surname, just as the word man is. For God is one who possesses a divine nature, and man is one who possesses a human one.

Furthermore, in connection with all this one must know that the Father and the Holy Ghost in no way participate in the Incarnation of the Word, unless it be in miracles and by complaisance and will.


Chapter 12

And we proclaim the holy Virgin to be properly and truly Mother of God (θεοτόκος). For, as He who was born of her is true God, so is she truly Mother of God who gave birth to the true God who took His flesh from her. Now, we do not say that God was born of her in the sense that the divinity of the Word has its beginning of being from her, but in the sense that God the Word Himself, who was timelessly begotten of the Father before the ages and exists without beginning and eternally with the Father and the Holy Ghost, did in the last days come for our salvation to dwell in her womb and of her was, without undergoing change, made flesh and born. For the holy Virgin did not give birth to a mere man but to true God, and not to God simply, but to God made flesh. And He did not bring His body down from heaven and come through her as through a channel, but assumed from her a body consubstantial with us and subsisting in Himself. Now, had the body been brought down from heaven and not been taken from our nature, was there any need for His becoming man? God the Word was made man for this reason: that that very nature which had sinned, fallen, and become corrupt should conquer the tyrant who had deceived it. Thus should it be freed from corruption, as the divine Apostle says: For by a man came death: and by a man the resurrection of the dead.’ If the first was true, then so is the second.

If, however, he also says: ‘The first Adam was, of earth, earthly: the second Adam, the Lord, from heaven,’ he is not saying that the body is from heaven. But it is obvious that He is not a mere man, for notice how he called Him both Adam and Lord thus indicating that He is both together. For Adam is interpreted as meaning born of earth, and it is obvious that man’s nature is born of earth because it was formed from dust. On the other hand, the name Lord is expressive of the divine substance.

And again, the Apostle says: ‘God sent his only-begotten Son, made of a woman.’ He did not say by a woman, but of a woman. Therefore, the divine Apostle meant that the one made man of the Virgin was Himself the only-begotten Son of God and God, and that the Son of God and God was Himself the one born of the Virgin. And he further meant that, in so far as He was made man, He was born corporeally and did not come to inhabit a previously formed man, as a prophet, but Himself substantially and truly became man, that is, He made flesh animated by a rational and intellectual soul subsist in His person and Himself became the Person to it. Now, that is what ‘made of a woman’ means, for how would the Word of God Himself have been made under the law, had it not been that He was made a man of the same substance as ourselves?

Hence, it is rightly and truly that we call holy Mary the Mother of God, for this name expresses the entire mystery of the Incarnation. Thus, if she who gave birth is Mother of God, then He who was born of her is definitely God and also definitely man. For, had He not become man, how could God whose existence is before the ages have been born of a woman? And that the Son of Man is a man is quite evident. Moreover, if He who was born of a woman is God, then it is quite evident that the very one who in respect to His divine and unoriginated nature was begotten of God the Father, and the one who in the last times was born of the Virgin in respect to his originated and temporal nature—His human nature, that is—are one. And this means that our Lord Jesus Christ has one Person, two natures, and two begettings.

However, under no circumstances do we call the holy Virgin Mother of Christ (Χριστοτόκος). This is because that vessel of dishonour, that foul and loathsome Jew at heart, Nestorius, invented this epithet as an insult to do away with the expression Mother of God and—though he burst with his father Satan—to bring dishonour upon the Mother of God, who alone is truly worthy of honour above all creation. And David is ‘Christ,’ too, and so is the high priest Aaron, because the royal and priestly offices are both conferred by anointing. Furthermore, any God-bearing (θεπφόρος) man may be called ‘Christ,’ yet he is not by nature God, which is why the accursed Nestorius was so insolent as to call Him who was born of the Virgin ‘God-bearing.’ But God forbid that we should ever speak or think of Him as God-bearing; rather, let it be as God incarnate. For the very Word of God was conceived of the Virgin and made flesh, but continued to be God after this assumption of the flesh. And, simultaneously with its coming into being, the flesh was straightway made divine by Him. Thus three things took place at the same time: the assuming of the flesh, its coming into being, and its being made divine by the Word. Hence, the holy Virgin is understood to be Mother of God, and is so called not only because of the nature of the Word but also because of the deification of the humanity simultaneously with which the conception and the coming into being of the flesh were wondrously brought about—the conception of the Word, that is, and the existence of the flesh in the Word Himself. In this the Mother of God, in a manner surpassing the course of nature, made It possible for the Fashioner to be fashioned and for the God and Creator of the universe to become man and deify the human nature which He had assumed, while the union preserved the things united, just as they had been united, that is to say, not only the divinity of Christ but His humanity, also; that which surpassed us and that which was like us. Now, it was not first made like us and then made to surpass us. On the contrary, it was always both from its first beginning of being, because from the first instant of conception it had its existence in the Word Himself. Therefore, while by its own nature it is human, it is also of God and divine in a manner surpassing the course of nature. And what is more, it possessed the properties of the living flesh, since by reason of the Incarnation the Word received them as truly natural in the order of natural motion.


Chapter 13

Since we confess our Lord Jesus Christ to be at once both perfect God and perfect man, we declare that this same One has all things that the Father has, except the being unbegotten, and, with the sole exception of sin, all that the first Adam has; namely, a body and a rational and intellectual soul. We furthermore declare that corresponding to His two natures He has the twofold set of natural properties belonging to the two natures—two natural wills, the divine and the human; two natural operations, a divine and a human; two natural freedoms, a divine and a human; and wisdom and knowledge, both divine and human. For, since He is consubstantial with God the Father, He freely wills and acts as God. And, since He is also consubstantial with us, the same one freely wills and acts as man. Thus, the miracles are His, and so are the sufferings.


Chapter 14

Since, then, Christ has two natures, we say that He has two natural wills and two natural operations. On the other hand, since these two natures have one Person, we say that He is one and the same who wills and acts naturally according to both natures, of which and in which is Christ our God, and which are Christ our God. And we say that He wills and acts in each, not independently, but in concert. For in each form He wills and acts in communion with the other.’ For the will and operation of things having the same substance is the same, and the will and operation of things having different substances is different. Conversely, the substance of things having the same will and operation is the same, whereas that of things having a different will and operation is different.

Thus, in Father and Son and Holy Ghost we discover the identity of nature from the identity of the operation and the will. In the divine Incarnation, on the other hand, we discover the difference of the nature from the difference of the wills and operations, and knowing the difference of the natures we confess the difference of the wills and operations. For, just as the number of the natures piously understood and declared to belong to one and the same Christ does not divide this one Christ, but shows that the difference of the natures is maintained even in the union, neither does the number of the wills and operations belonging substantially to His natures introduce any division—God forbid—for in both of His natures He wills and acts for our salvation. On the contrary, their number shows the preservation and maintenance of the natures even in the union, and this alone. We do not call the wills and operations personal, but natural. I am referring to that very faculty of willing and acting by force of which things which will will and things which act act. For, if we concede these to be personal, then we shall be forced to say that the three Persons of the Holy Trinity differ in will and operation.

Now, one must know that willing is not the same thing as how one wills. This is because willing, like seeing, is of the nature, since it belongs to all men. How one wills, however, does not belong to nature but to our judgment, just as does how one looks at something, whether it be favourably or unfavourably. All men do not will alike, nor do they see things alike. And this we shall also concede in the case of the operations, for how one wills or sees or acts is a mode of the use of willing or seeing or acting, and this mode belongs to the user alone and distinguishes him from the others in accordance with what is commonly called the difference.

Consequently, simple willing is called will, or the volitive faculty, which is a natural will and rational appetite. But how one wills, or the subject of the volition, is the object willed and will based on judgment. And that is volitive which has it in its nature to will. For example, the divine nature is volitive, and so is the human. And finally, he is willing who uses the volition, and that is the person; Peter, for example.

Thus, since Christ is one and has one Person, the divinely willing in Him and the humanly willing are one and the same. Nevertheless, since He has two natures which are volitive because they are rational, for everything that is rational is both volitive and free, we shall say that in Him there are two volitions, or natural wills. For the same one is volitive in both of His natures, since He assumed the volitive faculty which is inherent in our nature. Furthermore, since Christ is one and it is the same who wills in either nature, we shall say that the thing willed is the same. In saying this, we do not mean that He willed only what He willed naturally as God, for it is not of the nature of God to will to eat, drink, and the like; we mean that He also willed the things which go to make up human nature, not by any contradiction of judgment, but in accordance with the peculiarity of the natures. For, when His divine will willed and permitted the flesh to suffer and to do what was peculiar to it, He willed these things naturally.

Now, that the will naturally belongs to man is evident from the following consideration. Not counting the divine, there are three kinds of life: the vegetative, the sensitive, and the intellectual. Proper to the vegetative are the motions of nutrition, growth, and reproduction; proper to the sensitive is the motion by impulse; and proper to the rational and intellectual is the free motion. Therefore, if the nutritive motion is proper to the vegetative life and the impulsive to the sensitive, then surely the free motion is proper to the rational and intellectual. But, freedom of motion is nothing else but the will. Consequently, since the Word was made flesh animate, intellectual, and free, He was also made volitive.

Again, things which are natural are not acquired by learning, for no one learns to reason or live or hunger or thirst or sleep. And neither do we learn to will. Hence, it is natural to will.

And again, if, while nature rules in irrational beings, it is ruled in man who is freely moved by his will, then man is by nature volitive.

Still, again, if man has been made after the image of the blessed and supersubstantial Godhead, then, since the divine nature is naturally free and volitive, man as its image is also free and volitive by nature. For the Fathers have defined free will as volition.

Furthermore, if to will is inherent in all men and not present in some while absent in others, then, since what is found to be common to all is a characteristic of a nature in the individuals possessing that nature, man is by nature volitive.

And again, if the nature does not admit of more or less, and if to will is inherent in all and is not more in some while less in others, then man is by nature volitive. And so, if man is by nature volitive, the Lord, too, is by nature volitive, not only in so far as He is God but also in so far as He was made man. For, just as He assumed our nature, so also has He assumed our natural will. And it is in this sense that the Fathers say that He impressed our will in Himself.

If the will is not natural, it will either be personal or be against nature. But, if it is personal, then the Son will have a different will from that of the Father, because that which is personal is characteristic of the person alone. And if it is against nature, there will be a defect in the nature, because what is against nature is destructive of what is according to nature.

Now, the God and Father of all things either wills as Father or as God. But, if He wills as Father, His will will be other than that of the Son, because the Son is not the Father. If, however, He wills as God, and the Son is God and the Holy Ghost is also God, then the will will belong to the nature; that is to say, it will be natural.

Furthermore, if, as the Fathers say, those things that have one will have one substance, and if Christ’s divinity and humanity have one will, then the substance of the divinity and that of the humanity will be one and the same.

And again, if, as the Fathers say, the natural difference does not appear in the one will, we must either say that there is one will in Christ and no natural difference, or that there is a natural difference and more than one will.

And still again, as the holy Gospel relates, the Lord went “into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon: and entering into a house, he would that no man should know it. And he could not be hid.’ So, if His divine will was all-powerful and yet He was unable to conceal Himself when He willed to, then it was when willing as man that He was unable to, and as man also He was volitive.

And again, it says: ‘Coming to the place he said: I thirst. And they gave him wine to drink mixed with gall. And when he had tasted, he would not drink.’ Now, if it was as God that He thirsted and having tasted did not want to drink, then as God He was subject to passion, for thirst is a passion and so is taste. If, however, it was not as God, then it was entirely as man that He thirsted, and as man also He was volitive.

There is also the blessed Apostle Paul, who says : ‘Becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross.’ This obedience was a submission of what was really His will and not of what really was not, for we may not call an irrational being either obedient or disobedient. However, the Lord became obedient to the Father not in so far as He was God, but in so far as He was man. For, as God, He is neither obedient or disobedient, because obedience or disobedience belong to such as are subject to authority, as the inspired Gregory has said. Then, as man also, Christ was volitive.

Moreover, when we speak of the natural will, we mean that it is not constrained but free—for, if it is rational, it is also absolutely free. For there is not only the uncreated divine nature which is not subject to constraint, but there is also the created intellectual nature which is not so either. And this is obvious, because, although God is by nature good and creative and God, He is not these things by necessity—for who was there to impose the necessity?

It is furthermore necessary to know that the term freedom of will is used equivocally—sometimes being referred to God, sometimes to the angels, and sometimes to men. Thus, with God it is super-substantial, but with the angels the execution coincides with the inclination without admitting of any interval of time at all. For the angel has freedom by nature and he is unhampered in its exercise because he has neither the opposition from a body nor has he anyone to interfere with him. With men, however, it is such that the inclination precedes the execution in point of time. This is because, though man is free and has this freedom of will naturally, he also has the interference of the Devil to contend with and the motion of the body. Consequently, because of this interference and the burden of the body, the execution comes after the inclination.

If, then, Adam willingly gave ear, and willed and ate, then the will was the first thing to suffer in us. But, if the will was the first thing to suffer, and if, when the Word became incarnate, He did not assume it, then we have not been made free from sin.

And still further, if the nature’s power of free will is His work, and yet He did not assume it, it was either because He condemned His own creation as not being good or because He begrudged us our being healed in it. And while He deprived us of perfect healing, He showed Himself subject to suffering without willing or without being able to save us perfectly.

It is furthermore impossible to speak of one thing composed of two wills in the same way that we speak of a person composed of its natures. This is because, in the first place, compounds are made of things that have their own subsistence and are not found to exist by virtue of another principle than their own; whereas, in the second place, if we are to speak of a composition of wills and operations, we shall be forced to admit a composition of the other natural properties, such as the uncreated and the created, the invisible and the visible, and so on. And besides, what will the will that is composed of the wills be called? For it is impossible for the compound to be given the name of the things of which it is composed, since in such a case we should call that which is composed of the natures a nature and not a person. And further, should we speak of one compound will in Christ, then we are making Him distinct from the Father in will, because the will of the Father is not compound. Accordingly, it remains for us to say that only the Person of Christ is compound, in so far as it is composed of His natures and His natural properties as well.

And, should we wish to speak literally, it would be im-possible to speak of opinion (γνώμη)) and choice in the Lord. For the opinion resulting from the inquiry and deliberation, or counsel and judgment, in respect to the unknown thing is a disposition toward the thing judged. After the opinion comes the choice which selects and chooses one thing rather than the other. Now, since the Lord was not a mere man, but was also God and knew all things, He stood in no need of reflection, inquiry, counsel, or judgment. He also had a natural affinity for good and antipathy for evil. Thus, it is in this sense that the Prophet Isaias, too, says: ‘Before the child shall know to refuse the evil, he will choose the good. For before the child know to refuse the evil, and to choose the good, he will reject the evil by choosing the good.’ The ‘before’ shows that he made no inquiry or investigation in a human manner, but that, since He was God and divinely subsisted in the flesh—that is to say, was hypostatically united to the flesh—by the fact of His very being and His knowing all things He naturally possessed the good. Now, the virtues are natural, and they are also naturally inherent in all men, even though all of us do not act naturally. For, because of the fall, we went from what is according to nature to what is against it. But the Lord brought us back from what is against nature to what is according to it—for this last is what is meant by ‘according to his image and likeness.᾽ Now, asceticism and the labours connected with it were not intended for the acquisition of virtue as of something to be introduced from the outside, but for the expulsion of evil, which has been introduced and is against nature—just as the steel’s rust, which is not natural but due to neglect, we remove with hard toil to bring out the natural brightness of the steel. Moreover, one must know that the word γνώμη or opinion, is used in many ways and with many meanings. Thus, it sometimes means advice, as when the divine Apostle says: ‘Now, concerning virgins, I have no commandment of the Lord: but I give counsel.’ Sometimes it implies design, as when the Prophet David says: ‘They have taken a malicious counsel against thy people.᾽ Sometimes it means judgment, as when Daniel says: ‘Why so cruel a sentence had gone forth. And sometimes it is used in the sense of faith, or notion, or of intent—to put it simply, the word γνώμη has twenty-eight different meanings.


Chapter 15

Now, we also say that in our Lord Jesus Christ there are two operations. For, in so far as He was God and consubstantial with the Father, like the Father He had the divine operation; in so far as He was made man and consubstantial with us. He had the operation of the human nature.

However, one must know that operation is one thing, what is operative another, which is operated another, and still another the operator. Operation, then, is the efficacious and substantial motion of the nature. And that which is operative is the nature from which the operation proceeds. That which is operated is the effect of the operation. And the operator is the one who performs the operation; the person, that is. However, the term operation is also used for the effect, and the term for the effect for the operation, as ‘creation is used for ‘creature. For in that way we say c all creation,” meaning ‘all creatures.’

One must know that the operation is a motion and that it is operated rather than operating, as Gregory the Theologian says in his sermon on the Holy Ghost: ‘But if He is an operation, then He will obviously be operated and will not operate. And, as soon as He has been effected, He will cease.᾽

It is further necessary to know that life itself is an operation, and the primary operation of the animal. So also is the whole vital process—the motions of nutrition and growth, or the vegetative; the impulsive, or the sensitive; and the intellectual and free motions. Operation, moreover, is the perfection of a potentiality. So, if we find all these things in Christ, then we shall declare that He also has a human operation.

The first thought (νόημα) formed in us is called an operation. It is a simple unrelated operation by which the mind of itself secretly puts forth those thoughts of its own without which it could not rightly be called mind (νοῦς). And again, that is also called an operation which is the expression and explanation of what has been thought by means of speech utterance. This, however, is no longer unrelated and simple. On the contrary, since it is composed of thought and speech, it is found to be in a relation. And the very relation which the doer has to the thing done is also an operation. And the thing itself which is effected is called an operation. Now, the first of these belongs to the soul alone, the next to the soul as using the body, the next to the body as endowed with an intellectual soul, and the last of them is the effect. Thus, the mind first considers the thing to be done and then acts accordingly through the body. So, it is to the soul that the control belongs, since it uses the body as an instrument which it guides and directs. The operation of the body as guided and moved by the soul, however, is a different one. And as to the effect, while that of the body is, as it were, the touching, holding, and clasping of the thing made, that of the soul is the thing’s formation and configuration. It was also the same with our Lord Jesus Christ. While the power of working miracles was an operation of His divinity, the work of His hands, His willing, and His saying: ‘I will. Be thou made clean,’ were operations belonging to His humanity. And as to the effect, the breaking of the loaves, the hearing, the leper, and the I will belong to His human nature, whereas to His divine nature belong the multiplication of the loaves and the cleansing of the leper. Now, by both, that is, by the operation of the soul and that of the body, He showed His divine operation to be one and the same, akin and equal. And just as we know that the natures are united and mutually immanent and still do not deny their difference, but even number them, while we know them to be indivisible; so also do we know the connection of the wills and operations, while we recognise their difference and number them without introducing any division. For, as the flesh was made divine, yet suffered no change in its own nature, in the same way the will and operation were made divine, yet did not exceed their proper limits. For He is one who is both the one thing and the other and who wills and acts in both one way and the other, that is to say, both in a divine and in a human fashion.

Accordingly, because of the duality of His nature, it is necessary to affirm two operations in Christ. For things having diverse natures have different operations, and things having diverse operations have different natures. And conversely, things having the same nature have the same operation, and things having one operation have also one substance, as the inspired Fathers declare. Consequently, we must do one of two things: either we shall say that there is one operation in Christ and then say that His substance is one; or, if we keep to the truth, we shall confess with the Gospels and the Fathers that there are two substances, and at the same time we shall be confessing that there are also two operations corresponding to these. For, since in His divinity He is consubstantial with God the Father, He will also be equal to Him in His operation. On the other hand, since in His humanity He is consubstantial with us, He will also be equal to us in His operation. Indeed, the blessed Gregory, who was Bishop of Nyssa, says: ‘Things having one operation very definitely have the same potentiality, also.’ For every operation is the perfection of a potentiality. Moreover, it is impossible for there to be one nature, potentiality, or operation belonging both to an uncreated nature and to a created one. And, were we to say that Christ has one nature, we should be attributing the passions of the intellectual soul to the divinity of the Word—fear, I mean, and grief, and anguish.

However, should they say that in discussing the Blessed Trinity the holy Fathers said: Things having one substance also have one operation, and things which have different substances also have different operations, and that one must not transfer to the human nature what belongs to the divine, we shall reply as follows. If this was said by the Fathers in respect to the divinity only, then the Son does not have the same operation as the Father and He is not even of the same substance. And, what is more, to whom shall we attribute the words: ‘My Father worketh until now, and I work’; and ‘What things soever he seeth the Father doing, these things the Son also doth in like manner’; and ‘If you do not believe me, believe my works’; and ‘The works which I do give testimony of me’; and ‘As the Father raiseth up the dead and giveth life: so the Son also giveth life to whom He will.’ For all these show that even after the Incarnation He is not only consubstantial with the Father but also has the same operation.

And again, if the providence exercised over creatures belongs not only to the Father and the Holy Ghost, but also to the Son even after the Incarnation, and if this is an operation, then even after the Incarnation He has the same operation as the Father.

And if from His miracles we perceive Christ to be of the same substance as the Father, and if miracles are an operation of God, then even after the Incarnation He has the same operation as the Father.

And if His divinity and His flesh have one operation, it will be composite, and either He will have a different operation from that of the Father, or the Father’s operation will be composite, too. But, if the Father’s operation is composite, it is obvious that His nature will be, too. And, if they were to say that the introduction of the operation requires that of a person along with it, we should reply that, if the introduction of the operation requires that of a person along with it, then by logical conversion the introduction of the person will require that of an operation along with it. In such a case, since there are three Persons, or hypostases, in the Holy Trinity, there will also be three operations; or, since there is one operation, there will also be one Person and one hypostasis. But the holy Fathers were all agreed in declaring that things having the same substance also have the same operation.

What is more, if the introduction of the operation requires that of a person, then those who decreed that neither one nor two operations be affirmed in Christ in doing so ordered that neither one nor two persons be affirmed in Him.

And then, just as the natures of both the fire and the steel are preserved intact in the red-hot knife, so also are there two operations and their effects. For, while the steel has its cutting power, the fire has its power of burning; and the cut is the effect of the operation of the steel, while the burn is that of the operation of the fire. And the distinction between these is preserved in the burnt cut and the cut burn, even though the burning of the cut does not take place separately after the union, and the cut is not made separately from the burn. Neither do we say that because of the twofold natural operation there are two red-hot knives, nor do we destroy their substantial difference because of the singleness of the red-hot knife. In just the same way there is in Christ both the divine and all-powerful operation of His divinity, and that after our own fashion, which is that of His humanity.

Thus, the child’s being taken by the hand and drawn up was an effect of His human operation, whereas her being restored to life was an effect of His divine operation. For the latter is one thing and the former another, even though they are inseparable in the theandric operation. What is more, if, because the Person of the Lord is one. His operation must also be one, then because of the one Person there must also be one substance.

Again, if we were to affirm one operation in the Lord, we should be saying that this was either divine or human or neither. Now, if we say that it is divine, we shall be saying that He is only God and devoid of our humanity. And if we say that it is human, we shall be uttering the blasphemy that He is mere man. But, if we say that it is neither divine nor human, we shall be saying that He is neither consubstantial with the Father nor with us. For the identity of person came from the union, without in any way destroying the difference of the natures. And, if the difference of the natures is kept intact, their operations will plainly be kept so, also, because there is no nature without any operation.

If the operation of the Lord Christ is one, then it will be either created or uncreated; for, just as there is no intermediate nature between the created and the uncreated, neither is there any such operation. Therefore, if it is created, it will show only a created nature; if it is uncreated, it will indicate an uncreated substance only. This is because the natural properties must correspond with the natures absolutely, since the existence of a defective nature is impossible. The natural operation, moreover, does not come from anything outside the nature and it is obvious that the nature can neither exist nor be known without its natural operation.

For, by remaining invariable in its operations, each thing gives proof of its own nature.

If Christ’s operation is one, then the same operation can do divine and human things. But, no being acting according to nature can do things which are contrary. Thus, fire does not make hot and cold, nor does water make wet and dry. How, then, did He, who is God by nature and who became man by nature, both work the miracles and experience the passions with one operation?

Now, if Christ assumed a human mind, that is to say, a rational and intellectual soul, He certainly thinks and will always think. But, thinking is an operation of the mind. Therefore, Christ acts as a man also and will always so act. The most wise and great St. John Chrysostom in the second homily of his commentary on the Acts says this: ‘No one should be wrong in calling His suffering an action. For by suffering all things He did that great and wonderful work of destroying death and working all the rest.’

If every operation is defined as a substantial motion of some nature, as those who are well versed in these matters have clearly laid down, where has anyone seen a nature without a motion or without any operation at all, or where has anyone found an operation which is not a motion of a natural power? And, according to the blessed Cyril, no one in his right mind would hold the natural operation of God and of a creature to be one. It is not the human nature that restores Lazarus to life, nor is it the power of the divinity that sheds tears. For tears are peculiar to humanity, whereas life belongs to the Subsistent Life. Nevertheless, by reason of the identity of the person each one of these actions is common to both natures. For Christ is one, and one is His Person, or hypostasis. Nevertheless, He has two natures: that of His divinity and that of His humanity. Consequently, the glory which proceeds naturally from the divinity became common to both by reason of the identity of person, while the humble things proceeding from the flesh became common to both. For He is one and the same who is both the one thing and the other, that is, both God and man; and to the same one belong both what is proper to the divinity and what is proper to the humanity. Thus, while the divinity worked the miracles but not separately from the flesh, the flesh did the humble things but not apart from the divinity. Thus, also, while remaining impassible, the divinity was joined to the suffering flesh and made the sufferings salutary. And the sacred mind was joined to the acting divinity of the Word and thought and knew the things which were being done.

Therefore, the divinity communicates its excellences to the flesh while remaining with no part of the sufferings of the flesh. For His flesh did not suffer through the divinity in the same way that the divinity acted through the flesh, because the flesh served as an instrument of the divinity. So, even though from the first instant of conception there was no divisions whatsoever of either form, but all the actions of each form at all times belonged to one Person, we nevertheless in no way confuse these things which were done inseparably. On the contrary, from the nature of the works we perceive to which form they belong.

And so, Christ acts through each of His natures and in Him each nature acts in communion with the other. The Word does whatever pertains to the kingdom and the principality, which is what belongs to Him by reason of the authority and the power of His divinity, while the body in accordance with the intent of the Word united to it does what has also become proper to it. Now, the body of itself had no inclination for physical suffering, nor yet did it avoid and refuse to accept what was painful. Neither was it affected by external influences; rather, it was moved in accordance with the order of its nature, with the Word wisely willing and permitting it to suffer and do what was proper to it, so that through its works the truth of its nature might be guaranteed.

Moreover, even as He was conceived of a virgin and put on substance in a way that transcended substance, so does He also do human things in a way that transcends the human—as when He walked with His earthly feet upon unstable water which had not become earth but by the supernatural power of His divinity was made firm and did not yield to the weight of material feet. He did not do human things in a human way, because He was not only man, but God, also, which is the reason why His sufferings were life-giving and saving. Neither did He do divine things in a divine way, because He was not only God, but man, also, which is the reason why He worked miracles by touch and word and other such things.

And should someone say that we do not hold one operation in Christ because we do away with the human operation, but because the human operation as contrasted with the divine is called passion, and in this sense we say that there is one operation in Christ—should they say this: We shall reply that by this token they who hold one nature do not do so in the sense of doing away with the human nature, but because the human nature as contrasted with the divine is called passible. God forbid that we should call the human motion passion just because of its contrast with the divine operation. For, generally speaking, nothing is known or defined as having its real existence from contrast or comparison. In such a case, things which exist would be found to be mutually causative of each other. Thus if, because the divine motion is action, the human is passion, then it will definitely follow that, because the divine nature is good, the human will be evil. Conversely, because the human motion is called passion, the divine is called action; and because human nature is evil, the divine will be good. What is more, all creatures will thus be evil, and he will be a liar who said : ‘And God saw all the things that he had made, and they were very good.’

Now we say that the holy Fathers gave the human motion a variety of names, depending upon the fundamental concept in question. Thus, they called it both power, operation, difference, movement, property, quality, and passion. And they did not do this by way of contrast to the divine motion. On the contrary, they called it power, in so far as it is sustaining and unchangeable; operation, as being distinctive and showing the invariability in all things of the same species; difference, as being defining; motion, as being indicative; property, as being component and as belonging to this alone and not to some other; quality, as being specific; and passion, as being moved. For all things which are from God and after Him are subject to being moved, since they are not motion or force itself. Consequently, it was not so named by contrast, as has been said, but after the principle that was put in it at its creation by the cause which framed the universe. For this reason, it was called operation, even when mentioned together with the divine motion. For what else did he do, who said: For each form acts in communion with the other,’ than he who said: ‘And he had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterwards he was hungry,’ for, when He wished, He permitted His nature to do what was proper to it? Or what else did he do than those who said that there was a different operation in Him, or a twofold operation, or one and another? For by the opposition of terms these expressions signify two natures, since the number is oftentimes indicated by the opposition of terms, just as well as it is by saying ‘divine and human.᾽ Thus, the difference is a difference of things which differ. And how can things differ which do not exist?


Chapter 16

Since each individual man is made up of two natures—that of the soul and that of the body—and has these unchanged in himself, it will be reasonable to say that he has two natures. For even after the union he retains the natural property of each. Thus, the body is not immortal but corruptible, and the soul is not mortal but immortal. Neither is the body invisible, nor is the soul visible to bodily eyes. On the contrary, the latter is rational and understanding and incorporeal, whereas the former is material and visible and irrational. Moreover, things which are distinct in substance do not have the same nature; consequently, the soul and the body are not of the same substance.

And again, if man is a rational mortal animal, and if every definition designates the natures defined, and if, furthermore, that which is rational is not the same as that which is mortal as respects the concept of nature, then by the norm of his own definition man will not have one nature.

Now, should man at times be said to have one nature, the term ‘nature’ is being taken in the sense of ‘species.’ Thus, we say that one man does not differ from another by any difference in nature, because, to the contrary, all men fall under the same definition, in so far as they all are composed of body and soul and have the same makeup, each individual being two constituent natures. And this is not unreasonable, because the divine Athanasius in his discourse against the blasphemers of the Holy Ghost said that all created things have the same nature, when he wrote to the effect that the Holy Ghost is over and above creation and that it is possible to see clearly that, while in relation to the nature of created things He is something else, to the divinity He is proper. Everything that is found to be common to several things without being more in one and less in another is said to be essence. Therefore, since every man is made up of a soul and a body, in this sense men are said to have one nature. As regards the Person of the Lord, however, we cannot speak of one nature, because even after the union each nature retains its natural property and it is not possible to find a species of Christs. For there has been no other Christ made of divinity and humanity, the same being both God and man.

And again, the specific unity of man is not the same thing as the substantial unity of soul and body. For the specific unity of man shows the invariable element in all men, whereas the substantial unity of soul and body destroys their very being and reduces them to absolute non-existence. For either the one will be transformed into the substance of the other, or from two different things a third will be made, or they will remain within their proper limits and be two natures. For it is not by reason of its substance that the body is identical with that which is incorporeal. Consequently, when people speak of one nature in man, not on account of the identity of the substantial quality of the body with that of the soul, but on account of the invariability of the individuals falling under the species, they do not also have to say that in Christ, in whom there is no species comprising several persons, there is one nature.

And further, every composite is said to be composed of those things which have been put together directly. Thus, we do not say that the house is composed of earth and water, but of bricks and wood. Otherwise, we should also have to say that man is made up of five natures at least, of the four elements, that is, and of a soul. So also, in the case of our Lord Jesus Christ we do not consider the part or parts, but those which have been put together directly the divinity and the humanity.

Further, if by saying that man is two natures we shall be forced to say that there are three natures in Christ, then you, too, by saying that man is of two natures will be teaching that Christ is of three natures. And it will be the same way with the operations, because the operation must correspond with the nature. Witness to the fact that man is said to and does have two natures is Gregory the Theologian, who says: ᾽God and man are two natures, as, indeed, are soul and body.’ Also, in his sermon on baptism he says as follows: ‘Since we are twofold, being of soul and body—of the visible and of the invisible nature—so also is the purification two-fold: by water and by the Holy Ghost.’


Chapter 17

One should know that it is not by a transformation of nature or by change or alteration or mingling that the Lord’s flesh is said to have been deified and made identical with God and God, as Gregory the Theologian says: ᾽The one of whom did deify, while the other was made divine and, I may confidently say, identical with God. And that which anointed became man, and that which was anointed became God.’ This was by no transformation of nature but by the union through dispensation, the hypostatic union, I mean, by which the flesh is inseparably united to God, the Word, and by the mutual indwelling of the natures such as that we also speak of in the case of the heating of the steel. For, just as we confess that the Incarnation was brought about without transformation or change, so also do we hold that the deification of the flesh was brought about. For the Word neither overstepped the bounds of His own divinity nor the divine prerogatives belonging to it just because He was made flesh; and, when the flesh was made divine, it certainly did not change its own nature or its natural properties. For even after the union the natures remained un-mingled and their properties unimpaired. Moreover, by reason of its most un-alloyed union with the Word, that is to say, the hypostatic union, the Lord’s flesh was enriched with the divine operations but in no way suffered any impairment of its natural properties. For not by its own operation does the flesh do divine works, but by the Word united to it, and through it the Word shows His own operation. Thus, the steel which has been heated burns, not because it has a naturally acquired power of burning, but because it has acquired it from its union with the fire.

And so the same flesh was mortal in itself and life-giving by its hypostatic union with the Word. Likewise, we say that the deification of the will was not by a transformation of its natural motion, but by its becoming united with His divine and almighty will and being the will of God made man. It was for this reason that, when He wished to be hid, He could not of Himself, because it pleased God the Word that it be shown that in Himself He had the weakness of the human will. However, it was by willing that He worked the cure of the leper, and this because of the union with the divine will.

One must furthermore know that the deification of the nature and the will is very expressive and indicative of the two natures and the two wills. For, just as heating does not transform the nature of the thing heated into that of fire, but, rather, brings out both the thing heated and the thing heating and shows not one thing but two, so neither does

the deification produce one compound nature, but, rather, the two natures and their hypostatic union. In fact, Gregory the Theologian says: ‘The one of whom did deify, while the other was made divine,’ where by saying ‘of whom’ and ‘the one’ and ‘the other’ he showed that there were two.


Chapter 18

When we say that Christ is perfect God and perfect man we are attributing to Him absolutely all the natural properties which belong to the Father and to His Mother. For He became man in order that that which had been conquered might conquer. Now, it was not impossible for Him who can do all things to deliver man from the tyrant by His almighty power and might; but, had the tyrant after having conquered man been prevailed over by God, he would have had grounds for complaint. For this reason the compassionate and loving God wished to make the victor him who had fallen, and so He became man and restored like by like.

Moreover, no one will deny that man is a rational and intellectual animal. How, then, did He become man if He assumed a soulless body or a mindless soul? For that sort of thing is no man. Further, what profit do we have from the Incarnation if he who was the first to suffer has not been saved, renewed, or strengthened by being conjoined with the Godhead? For that which has not been assumed has not been healed. And so, He assumes the whole man, who had fallen through weakness, and his most noble part, in order that He might grace the whole with salvation. What is more, there never could be a mind without wisdom and bereft of knowledge, for, were the mind without operation and motion, it would also be absolutely non-existent.

God the Word, then, wishing to restore that which was in His image, became man. But what is in His image, if it is not the mind? Did He, then, disregard what was better and assume what was worse? For mind stands midway between God and the flesh as being a companion of the flesh on the one hand and on the other an image of God. Thus, mind is associated with Mind and the mind holds the middle place between purity of God and the grossness of the flesh. And, had the Lord assumed a mindless soul, He would have assumed the soul of a brute animal.

Now, although the Evangelist did say that the Word was made flesh, one must know that in sacred Scripture man is sometimes called ‘soul,’ as when it says that ‘all the souls of the house of Jacob, that entered into Egypt, were seventy- five, 52 and sometimes ‘flesh,’ as when it says that ‘all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’ 3 So, the Lord was not made flesh without soul or mind, but He was made man. In fact, He says: ‘Why do you seek to kill me, a man who have spoken truth to you? 54 Therefore, He assumed a body animated by a rational and intellectual soul having dominion over the flesh, but itself being under the dominion of the divinity of the Word.

Consequently, while He had naturally the power of willing both as God and as man, the human will followed after and was subordinated to His will, not being motivated by its own opinion, but willing what His divine will willed. Thus, it was with the permission of the divine will that He suffered what was naturally proper to Him. 5 And when He begged to be spared death, He did so naturally, with His divine will willing and permitting, and He was in agony and afraid. Then, when His divine will willed that His human will choose death, the passion was freely accepted by it, because it was not as God alone that He freely delivered Himself over to death, but as man, also. Whence, He also gave us the grace of courage in the face of death. Thus, indeed, He says before His saving passion: ‘Father, if it is possible, let this chalice pass from me,’ It was manifestly as man that He was to drink the chalice, for it was not as God. Consequently, it is as man that He wishes the chalice to pass, and these are words arising from a natural fear. ‘But yet not my will, but thine be done,’ that is to say: ‘In so far as I am of another substance than thine, but thine, which is mine and thine in so far as I am begotten consubstantial with thee.’ Again, these are the words of courage. For, since by His good pleasure the Lord had truly become man, His soul at first experienced the weakness of nature and through sense perception felt a natural pain at the thought of its separation from the body; then it was strengthened by the divine will and faced death courageously. For, since He was entirely God with His humanity and entirely man with His divinity, He as man in Himself and through Himself subjected His humanity to God the Father and became obedient to the Father, thus setting for us a most noble example and pattern.

Moreover, He willed freely with His divine and His human will, for free will is absolutely inherent in every rational nature. After all, of what good can rationality be to a nature that does not reason freely? Now, the Creator has implanted a natural appetite in brute beasts which constrains them to act for the preservation of their own nature. For, since they lack reason, they cannot lead; rather, they are led by their natural appetite. Whence it is that the instinct to act arises simultaneously with the appetite, for they enjoy neither the use of reason nor that of counsel or reflection or judgment. For this reason they are neither praised and deemed good for practicing virtue nor punished for doing evil. The rational nature, however, has its natural appetite, which becomes aroused, but is guided and controlled by the reason in regard to what is for the maintenance of the natural order. This, namely free will, is an advantage of the power of reason and we call it a natural motion in the reasoning faculty. Wherefore, the rational nature is both praised and deemed good for practicing virtue and punished for practicing vice. And so, the Lord’s soul was freely moved to will, but it freely willed those things which His divine will willed it to will. For the flesh was not moved by the command of the Word in the same way that Moses and all the saints were moved by the divine command. On the contrary, since the same one was both God and man, He willed according to His divine and His human will. Wherefore, it was not in opinion that the Lord’s two wills differed from each other, but in natural power. For His divine will was without beginning and all-creating and having the corresponding power, and it was impassible. But his human will had a beginning in time and was itself subject to natural and irreprehensible passions. Although by its own nature it was not omnipotent, it was so in so far as it had been made to belong truly and naturally to God the Word.


Chapter 19

When the blessed Dionysius said that Christ had used a certain new theandric operation with us, he was not doing away with the natural operations and saying that there was one operation proceeding from the human and divine natures. For, if such were the case, we might also say that there was one new nature made from the human and the divine, because, according to the holy Fathers, things which have one operation also have one substance. On the contrary, he wanted to show that the new and ineffable manner of the manifestation of the natural operations in Christ was consonant with the mutual indwelling of Christ’s natures in each other, and that His living as a man was both unusual and incredible and unknown to the nature of things. He also wanted to show the manner of the exchange arising from the ineffable union. Thus, we do not say that the operations are separated and that the natures act separately, but we say that they act conjointly, with each nature doing in communion with the other that which it has proper to itself. He did not perform the human actions in a human way, because He was not a mere man, nor did He perform the divine actions in a divine way only, because He was not just God, but God and man together. And just as we understand both the union of the natures and their natural difference, so also do we understand that of the natural wills and operations.

So that one must know that while we sometimes speak as of two natures in our Lord Jesus Christ, we sometimes speak as of one person, and that both the former way of speaking and the latter refer to the same concept. For the two natures are one Christ and the one Christ is two natures. It is therefore the same thing to say that Christ acts according to each of His natures and to say that each nature in Christ acts in association with the other. Accordingly, when the flesh is acting, the divine nature is associated with it because the flesh is being permitted by the good pleasure of the divine will to suffer and do what is proper to it and because the operation of the flesh is absolutely salutary—which last does not belong to the human operation, but to the divine. And when the divinity of the Word is acting, the flesh is associated with it, because the divine operations are being performed by the flesh as by an instrument and because He who is acting at once in a divine and human way is one.

One should furthermore know that His sacred mind performs His natural operations, both understanding and knowing itself to be the mind of God and adored by all creation but at the same time still mindful of His doings and sufferings on earth. It is, moreover, associated with the operation of the divinity of the Word by which the universe is ordered and controlled, understanding and knowing and ordering not as a mere human mind, but as one hypostatically united to God and reckoned as the mind of God.

Thus, the theandric operation shows this: when God became man, that is to say, was incarnate, His human operation was divine, that is to say, deified. And it was not excluded from His divine operation, nor was His divine operation excluded from His human operation. On the contrary, each is found in the other. Now, when one expresses two things with one word, this figure of speech is called circumlocution (περίφρασις). Thus, while we speak of the cut burn and the burnt cut of the red-hot knife, we nevertheless hold the cutting to be one operation and the burning another, the one belonging to one nature and the other to the other—the burning to the fire and the cutting to the steel. In the very same way, when we speak of one theandric operation of Christ, we understand the two operations of His two natures: the divine operation of the divinity and the human operation of the humanity.


Chapter 20

Moreover, we confess that He assumed all the natural and blameless passions of man. This is because He assumed the whole man and everything that is his, except sin for this last is not natural and it was not implanted in us by the Creator. On the contrary, it grew up in our will from the oversowing of the Devil, freely and not prevailing over us by force. Now, those passions are natural and blameless which are not under our control and have come into man’s life as a result of the condemnation occasioned by his fall. Such, for example, were hunger, thirst, fatigue, pain, the tears, the destruction, the shrinking from death, the fear, the agony from which came the sweating and drops of blood, the aid brought by the angels in deference to the weakness of His nature, and any other such things as are naturally inherent in all men.

So, He assumed all that He might sanctify all. He was put to the test and He conquered that He might gain for us the victory and give to our nature the power to conquer the Adversary, so that through the very assaults by which the nature had been conquered of old it might conquer its former victor.

Now, the Evil One attacked from the outside, just as he had with Adam, and not through thoughts for it was not through thoughts that he attacked Adam, but through the serpent. The Lord, however, repelled the attack and it vanished like smoke, so that by being conquered the passions which had assailed Him might become easy for us to conquer and the new Adam thus be restored by the old.

Actually, our natural passions were in Christ according to nature and over and above nature. Thus, it was according to nature that they were aroused in Him, when He permitted the flesh to suffer what was proper to it; whereas it was over and above nature, because in the Lord the things of nature did not control the will. For with Him nothing is found to be done under compulsion; on the contrary, everything was done freely. Thus, it was by willing that He hungered and by willing that He thirsted, by willing that He was afraid and by willing that He died.


Chapter 21

One should know that He did assume an ignorant and servile nature, and this is because man’s nature is subservient to God who made it, and it does not have knowledge of future events. If, then, like Gregory the Theologian, you distinguish what is seen from what is thought, then the flesh will be said to be servile and ignorant. However, by reason of the identity of person and the inseparable union, the Lord’s soul enjoyed the knowledge of future events as well as the other signs of divinity. For, just as the flesh of men is not of its own nature life-giving, whereas that of the Lord, being hypostatically united to God the Word Himself, became life-giving by reason of its hypostatic union with the Word without losing its natural mortality, and we cannot say that it was not and is not always so; in the same way, while His human nature did not of its essence have knowledge of future events, the Lord’s soul, by reason of its union with God the Word Himself and the identity of person, did, as I have said, enjoy, along with the other signs of divinity, the knowledge of future events, also.

One must furthermore know that we can by no means call Him servile, because the terms ‘servitude’ and ‘mastery’ are not indicative of nature, but of relationships, just as ‘paternity’ and ‘filiation’ are. These last do not belong to the essence, but are indicative of relation. Therefore, we say here, just as we did in the case of ignorance, that if you distinguish the created from the uncreated by tenuous thought processes, or subtle imaginings, then the flesh is servile as long as it is not united to God the Word. But, once it is hypostatically united, how will it be servile? For, since Christ is one, He cannot be His own servant and Lord, because these do not belong to the things predicated absolutely, but to them that are predicated relatively. So, whose servant will He be? The Father’s? But then, if He is the servant of the Father, the Son does not have ‘all things whatsoever the Father hath.’ And He certainly is not His own servant. And, if He is Himself a servant, how is it that in regard to us, who have been adopted through Him, the Apostle says: ‘Therefore, now thou art not a servant, but a son.’ Therefore, although He is not a servant, He is commonly so called as having for our sake taken on the form of a servant, and together with us He has been called one. For, although He was impassible, He became subject to passion and was made minister of our salvation. Now, they who say that He is a servant divide the one Christ into two, just as Nestorius did. But we say that He is Lord and Master of all creation, the one Christ, the same being at once both God and man, and that He knows all things, ‘for in him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.’


Chapter 22

He is said to have progressed in wisdom and age and grace, because He did increase in age and by this increase in age brought more into evidence the wisdom inherent in Him; further, because by making what is ours altogether His own He made His own the progress of men in wisdom and grace, as well as the fulfilment of the Father’s will, which is to say, men’s knowledge of God and their salvation. Now, those who say that He progressed in wisdom and grace in the sense of receiving an increase in these are saying that the union was not made from the first instant of the flesh’s existence. Neither are they holding the hypostatic union, but, misled by the empty-headed Nestorius, they are talking preposterously of a relative union and simple indwelling, ‘understanding neither the things they say, nor whereof they affirm.’ For, if from the first instant of its existence the flesh was truly united to God the Word—rather, had existence in Him and identity of person with Him—how did it not enjoy perfectly all wisdom and grace? It did not share the grace and neither did it participate by grace in the things of the Word; rather, because the human and divine things had become proper to the one Christ by the hypostatic union, then, since the same was at once God and man, it gushed forth with the grace and the wisdom and the fullness of all good things for the world.


Chapter 23

The word fear has two meanings. Thus, there is natural fear when the soul is unwilling to be separated from the body because of the natural feeling of affinity and kinship implanted in it by the Creator from the beginning. On account of this it is naturally afraid and distressed and it shrinks from death. The definition of this kind of fear is: Natural fear is a force which clings to existence by withdrawal. The reason for this is that, if all things have been brought into existence from non-existence by the Creator, they naturally do not have the desire for non-existence. Furthermore, a natural property of these things is their instinctive tendency toward those things by which they are sustained. So, when God the Word was made man, He, too, had this appetite. On the one hand, by desiring both food and drink and sleep and by being naturally acquainted with these He showed His inclination for the things which sustained His nature; on the other, He showed His disinclination for things destructive of His nature, as when He freely withdrew from death at the time of His passion. For, even though what happened came about by a law of nature, it was not by compulsion as with us, because He freely willed to accept what was natural. Hence, this kind of fear and fright and distress belongs to the passions which are natural and blameless and are not subject to sin.

There is still another kind of fear which arises from loss of reason, from mistrust, and from not knowing the hour of one’s death—as when we are frightened at night by the making of some noise. This is unnatural, and we define it: Unnatural fear is an unreasonable withdrawal. This kind the Lord did not have. Wherefore, except at the time of His passion, He was never afraid—even though for good reason He would oftentimes hide himself. For He was not ignorant of the time.

That He truly experienced fear is affirmed by the divine Athanasius in his discourse against Apollinaris: ‘For this reason the Lord said: “Now is my soul troubled.” And the “now” means this, namely, at the time when He willed; but all the same it indicates the actuality, because He would not call actual that which was not, as if the events related only seemed to happen. For everything happened naturally and truly. And further on: ‘In no wise does divinity admit of suffering without a suffering body, nor of affliction and sorrow without a sorrowing and afflicted soul. Neither does it become troubled and pray without a mind which is troubled and prays. However, even though these things did not result from a defect of nature, they were done to show reality.’ The words ‘these things did not result from a defect of nature,’ make it clear that He did not endure them involuntarily.


Chapter 24

Prayer is an ascent of the mind to God, or the asking God for things which are fitting. Then, how did the Lord pray in the matter of Lazarus, and at the time of His passion? For, since Christ is one and His sacred mind was once and

for all united hypostatically to God the Word, it neither needed to ascend to God nor to ask of God. It was, rather, that He appropriated our appearance and impressed what was ours upon Himself. He became a model for us, He taught us to ask of God and to lift ourselves up to Him, and through His sacred mind He opened the way for us to ascend to God. For, just as He endured the passions and gave us victory over them, so also does He pray and open up for us, as I said, the way to the ascent to God. And so, also, does He for our sake fulfil all justice, as He said to John, and reconcile His own Father to us and honour Him as principle and cause, thus showing Himself to be not adverse to God. Thus, in the matter of Lazarus, when He said: ‘Father, I give thee thanks that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou nearest me always; but because of the people who stand about have I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me,’ was it not made quite plain to all that He had said this to show that He honoured His own Father as His own cause and that He Himself was not adverse to God?

When He said: ‘Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from me. Nevertheless, not as I will but as thou wilt,’ is it not clear to everyone that He is teaching us to ask help of God alone in times of trial and to put the divine will before our own, and that He is showing that He had truly made His own what is proper to our nature, and that He actually had two wills that are natural and correspond to His natures and are not mutually opposed? ‘Father,’ he says as being consubstantial, ‘if it be possible,’ not because He did not know—and what is impossible for God?—but to instruct us to put the divine will before our own. For this alone is impossible, namely, that which God does not wish and does not permit. ‘Nevertheless, not as I will but as thou wilt,’ He says as God, since He is of the same will as the Father, while at the same time He says it as man to show the natural will of His humanity, for this last naturally shrinks from death.

Now, the My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ He said because He had appropriated our appearance. For, unless by subtle imaginings a distinction should be made between what is seen and what is thought, God as His Father would not be called ours. Nor was He ever deserted by His divinity—on the contrary, it was ourselves who were left behind and overlooked. And so He appropriated our appearance and prayed these things.


Chapter 25

One should, moreover, know that there are two kinds of appropriation, the one being natural and substantial and the other apparent (προσωπική) and relative. Now, the natural and substantial is that by which the Lord out of His love for man assumed both our nature and all that was natural to it, and in nature and in truth became man and experienced the things that are natural to man. It is apparent and relative, however, when one assumes the appearance (πρόσωπον) of another relatively, as out of pity or love, and in this other’s stead speaks words in his behalf which in no way concern himself. It was by this last kind of appropriation that He appropriated our curse and dereliction and such things as are not according to nature, not because He was or had been such, but because He took on our appearance and was reckoned as one of us. And such is the sense of the words, ‘being made a curse for us.”


Chapter 26

God’s Word Himself, then, endured all things in His flesh, while His divine nature, which alone is impassible, remained unaffected. For, when the one Christ made up of both divinity and humanity suffered, the passible part of Him suffered, because it was of its nature to suffer, but the impassible did not suffer with it. Thus, since the soul is passible, it does feel pain and suffer with the body when the body is hurt, although it itself is not hurt. The divinity, however, being impassible, does not suffer with the body.

And it should be known that, although we speak of God having suffered in the flesh, we by no means speak of the divinity suffering in the flesh or of God suffering through the flesh. For if, when the sun is shining upon a tree, the tree should be cut down by an axe, the sun will remain uncut and unaffected, then how much more will the impassible divinity of the Word hypostatically united with the flesh remain unaffected when the flesh suffers. And just as if one should pour water upon a red-hot iron, that which is naturally disposed to be affected by the water the fire, I mean will be quenched, while the iron remains unharmed, because it is not of its nature to be destroyed by the water; how much less did the divinity, which is alone impassible, endure the suffering of the flesh and still remain inseparable from it. Now, examples do not have to be absolutely and unfailingly exact, for, just because it is an example, one must find in it that which is like and that which is unlike. For likeness in everything would be identity and not an example, of theology and the Incarnation, it is impossible to find an absolutely perfect example.


Chapter 27

Since our Lord Jesus Christ was without sin, ‘because he hath done no iniquity, he who taketh away the sin of the world, neither was there deceit in his mouth,’ He was not subject to death, even though death had by sin entered into the world. And so for our sake He submits to death and dies and offers Himself to the Father as a sacrifice for us. For we had offended Him and it was necessary for Him to take upon Himself our redemption that we might thus be loosed from the condemnation—for God forbid that the Lord’s blood should have been offered to the tyrant! Wherefore, then, death approaches, gulps down the bait of the body, and is pierced by the hook of the divinity. Then, having tasted of the sinless and life-giving body, it is destroyed and gives up all those whom it had swallowed down of old. For, just as the darkness entirely disappears when light is let in, so is destruction driven away at the onset of life, and life comes to all, while destruction comes to the destroyer. And so, even though as man He did die and His sacred soul was separated from His immaculate body, the divinity remained unseparated from both—the soul, I mean, and the body. Thus, the one Person was not divided into two persons. For from the beginning both had existence in the same way in the Person of the Word, and when they were separated from each other in death, each one of them remained in the possession of the one Person of the Word. Hence, the one Person of the Word existed as person both of the Word and of the soul and of the body, for neither the soul nor the body ever had any person of its own other than that of the Word, and the Person of the Word was always one and never two. Hence, the Person of Christ was always one, since, even though the soul was separated from the body in place, it still was hypostatically united to it through the Word.


Chapter 28

The word destruction (φθορά) has two meanings. Thus, it means human sufferings such as hunger, thirst, weariness, piercing with nails, death—that is separation of the soul from the body—and the like. In this sense, we say that the Lord’s body was destructible, because He endured all these things freely. Destruction, however, also means the complete dissolution of the body and its reduction to the elements of which it was composed. By many this is more generally called corruption (διαφθορά). This the Lord’s body did not experience, as the Prophet David says: ‘Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; nor wilt thou give thy holy one to corruption.’

Therefore, it is impious to say with the insane Julian and Gaianus that before the resurrection the Lord’s body was indestructible in the first sense. For, if it was thus incorruptible, then it was not consubstantial with us, and the things such as the hunger, the thirst, the nails, the piercing of the side, and death which the Gospel says happened did not really happen, but only seemed to. But, if they only seemed to happen, then the mystery of the Incarnation is a hoax and a stage trick; it was in appearance and not in truth that He was made man and in appearance and not in truth that we have been saved. But far be it, and let those who say this have no part of salvation. We, however, have gained and shall obtain the true salvation. Moreover, in the second sense of the word destruction, we confess that the Lord’s body was indestructible, that is to say, incorruptible, even as has been handed down to us by the inspired Fathers. Nevertheless, we do say that after the Saviour’s resurrection the body of the Lord is indestructible in the first sense, too. And through His body the Lord has granted the resurrection and consequent incorruptibility to our body, also, Himself becoming to us the first fruits of the resurrection and incorruptibility and impassibility. For this corruptible must put on incorruption,’ says the divine Apostle.


Chapter 29

The deified soul went down into hell so that, just as the Sun of Justice rose upon those on earth, so also might the light shine upon them under the earth who were sitting in darkness and the shadow of death; so that, just as He had brought the good news of peace to those on earth, so also might He bring that of deliverance to captives and that of sight to the blind. And to them that believed He became a cause of eternal salvation, while to them that had not He became a refutation of unbelief, and so also to them in hell, ‘That to him every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth.’ And thus, having loosed them that had been bound for ages, He came back again from the dead and made the resurrection possible for us.