Author Topic: The Crucifixion and the death of Christ's Divinity?  (Read 1991 times)

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Offline TinaG

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The Crucifixion and the death of Christ's Divinity?
« on: March 07, 2008, 09:02:14 PM »
I am sure this has been answered somewhere on this forum but cannot find a specific reference, and I am sure this is a basic question that I should remember from my catechesis, but here goes.

When Our Lord died on the Cross, his human nature died, but did his divine nature die as well, and conversely, was his divine nature resurrected along with his body?  I'm sure this has been dealt with by one of the Eucumenical Councils and by the Church Fathers.  Can someone clarify this point for me?  Thank you all.  I'm a little embarrased at asking something that seems so basic.
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Offline Symeon

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Re: The Crucifixion and the death of Christ's Divinity?
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2008, 10:13:01 PM »
No, his divine nature did not and could not die, as he is impassible and immutable in his divinity. His divine person died and was resurrected in his human nature. It's a subtle but oh so important distinction.
« Last Edit: March 07, 2008, 10:13:55 PM by Symeon »

Offline TinaG

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Re: The Crucifixion and the death of Christ's Divinity?
« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2008, 10:30:19 PM »
I know we're getting into big theology on the nature of Christ, but what do you specifically mean here by his divine person as opposed to his divine nature?
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Offline 88Devin12

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Re: The Crucifixion and the death of Christ's Divinity?
« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2008, 12:22:25 AM »
Just a question...
Did Christ repose just as we do?
If so, wouldn't that mean both his divine and human natures were involved in the separation of his spirit/being from his body?
When he went down to bind Satan and capture the keys of death and hades, wasn't that him, but with his earthly body absent?

Forgive me if I say anything wrong, and please, if I am wrong, correct me.

Offline PeterTheAleut

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Re: The Crucifixion and the death of Christ's Divinity?
« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2008, 01:22:25 AM »
Just a question...
Did Christ repose just as we do?
If so, wouldn't that mean both his divine and human natures were involved in the separation of his spirit/being from his body?
When he went down to bind Satan and capture the keys of death and hades, wasn't that him, but with his earthly body absent?

Forgive me if I say anything wrong, and please, if I am wrong, correct me.
Maybe Fr. Chris can fill in the gaps of my understanding here, but I believe that one of the prayers the priest reads as he is preparing the consecrated Lamb for distribution to the faithful says something about the Son of God being simultaneously present in the tomb, in Hades, with the thief in Paradise, while never having left the side of the Father.  In addition, the great joy of Pascha, for which we will begin our Lenten preparation in just a couple of days, is that when Christ died and descended into Hades, He did so in His humanity AND divinity, thus shattering the bonds of death by His own death.
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Offline ialmisry

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Re: The Crucifixion and the death of Christ's Divinity?
« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2008, 01:23:46 AM »
Just a question...
Did Christ repose just as we do?
If so, wouldn't that mean both his divine and human natures were involved in the separation of his spirit/being from his body?
When he went down to bind Satan and capture the keys of death and hades, wasn't that him, but with his earthly body absent?

Forgive me if I say anything wrong, and please, if I am wrong, correct me.

Yes, as the priest says in the DL of Saint John, after the Great Entrance, placing the Gifts on the altar:

In the tomb with the Body
In Hell with the Soul
In Paradise with the Thief
Sitting on a Throne with the Father and the Spirit
wert Thou O Christ
Thou Thyself alone uncircumscribed.
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Offline Symeon

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Re: The Crucifixion and the death of Christ's Divinity?
« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2008, 01:28:43 AM »
Maybe Fr. Chris can fill in the gaps of my understanding here, but I believe that one of the prayers the priest reads as he is preparing the consecrated Lamb for distribution to the faithful says something about the Son of God being simultaneously present in the tomb, in Hades, with the thief in Paradise, while never having left the side of the Father.  In addition, the great joy of Pascha, for which we will begin our Lenten preparation in just a couple of days, is that when Christ died and descended into Hades, He did so in His humanity AND divinity, thus shattering the bonds of death by His own death.

Yes, his divine nature never separates from his body or his soul and is with the Father and Holy Spirit in heaven, but it is most emphatically not subject to death or any sort of passion. That's a confusion of properties and essentially a Monophysite idea.
« Last Edit: March 08, 2008, 01:35:41 AM by Symeon »

Offline Symeon

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Re: The Crucifixion and the death of Christ's Divinity?
« Reply #7 on: March 08, 2008, 01:33:54 AM »
I know we're getting into big theology on the nature of Christ, but what do you specifically mean here by his divine person as opposed to his divine nature?

His divine person is the preexistent hypostasis of the Word, one of the Holy Trinity. Because the Word assumed human nature, he suffered in human nature while remaining impassible in his divinity; thus St. Cyril's famous "impassible passion."

Offline PeterTheAleut

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Re: The Crucifixion and the death of Christ's Divinity?
« Reply #8 on: March 08, 2008, 01:39:47 AM »
Yes, as the priest says in the DL of Saint John, after the Great Entrance, placing the Gifts on the altar:

In the tomb with the Body
In Hell with the Soul
In Paradise with the Thief
Sitting on a Throne with the Father and the Spirit
wert Thou O Christ
Thou Thyself alone uncircumscribed.
Thanks for giving greater clarity to what I was trying to remember hearing from a priest a few years ago.
« Last Edit: March 08, 2008, 01:40:37 AM by PeterTheAleut »
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Offline Symeon

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Re: The Crucifixion and the death of Christ's Divinity?
« Reply #9 on: March 12, 2008, 02:53:05 AM »
And here's St. John of Damascus:

Quote
But if our interrogators should hint that He Who is begotten of the holy Mother of God is two natures, we reply, “Yea! He is two natures: for He is in His own person God and man. And the same is to be said concerning the crucifixion and resurrection and ascension. For these refer not to nature but to subsistence. Christ then, since He is in two natures, suffered and was crucified in the nature that was subject to passion. For it was in the flesh and not in His divinity that He hung upon the Cross. Otherwise, let them answer us, when we ask if two natures died. No, we shall say. And so two natures were not crucified but Christ was begotten, that is to say, the divine Word having become man was begotten in the flesh, was crucified in the flesh, suffered in the flesh, while His divinity continued to be impassible.”
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf209.iii.iv.iv.vii.html

Offline PeterTheAleut

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Re: The Crucifixion and the death of Christ's Divinity?
« Reply #10 on: March 12, 2008, 03:30:20 AM »
And here's St. John of Damascus:
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf209.iii.iv.iv.vii.html
And yet the great paradox is that it truly was God who died on the Cross in that you can't divide the one hypostasis of Christ, the Word of God incarnate.
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Offline Tzimis

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Re: The Crucifixion and the death of Christ's Divinity?
« Reply #11 on: March 12, 2008, 11:17:53 AM »
And yet the great paradox is that it truly was God who died on the Cross in that you can't divide the one hypostasis of Christ, the Word of God incarnate.
I don't believe this is accurate. Gods divine nature never died. What died and resurrected was his persona in human nature. His human nature was god through a persona. The persona was in both natures,  But nature never does have a persona of its own; Nature is hypostatized in a persona.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2008, 11:19:16 AM by Demetrios G. »
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Offline PeterTheAleut

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Re: The Crucifixion and the death of Christ's Divinity?
« Reply #12 on: March 12, 2008, 12:25:16 PM »
I don't believe this is accurate. Gods divine nature never died. What died and resurrected was his persona in human nature. His human nature was god through a persona. The persona was in both natures,  But nature never does have a persona of its own; Nature is hypostatized in a persona.
I didn't say anything about "nature" in the sense in which you use the word (ousia).  I spoke only of Christ's Divine-human hypostasis, or persona according to your language.  Just as we call Mary Theotokos because He whom she bore is God in the flesh, so we say that He who died on the Cross is indeed God in the flesh.  Yes, according to the impassibility of His Divine ousia, God cannot die, yet God did die on the Cross according to the flesh that He took upon Himself.
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Offline Tzimis

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Re: The Crucifixion and the death of Christ's Divinity?
« Reply #13 on: March 12, 2008, 04:37:32 PM »
I didn't say anything about "nature" in the sense in which you use the word (ousia).  I spoke only of Christ's Divine-human hypostasis, or persona according to your language.  Just as we call Mary Theotokos because He whom she bore is God in the flesh, so we say that He who died on the Cross is indeed God in the flesh.  Yes, according to the impassibility of His Divine ousia, God cannot die, yet God did die on the Cross according to the flesh that He took upon Himself.

I'm just teasing you Peter. Your Orthodoxy never came into question. :angel:
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Offline Jonathan

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Re: The Crucifixion and the death of Christ's Divinity?
« Reply #14 on: March 12, 2008, 08:40:39 PM »
This is how my priest explained it to me during my catechism (if I recall correctly):

Christ died, this means that His Body and His Spirit were separated.  The Godhead remained united to both His Body and His Spirit at all times.  He was God when He descended to Hades.  His Body in the Tomb did not decay.

Christ did everything without separation between His Humanity and His Divinity.  We can't say Christ the God did this, and Christ the man that.  There was no separation between His humanity and His divinity.  However, when He hungered it was because of His humanity, not His divinity.  This doesn't mean He hungered separately from His divinity, but His hunger was an attribute coming from His humanity rather than His divinity.  Likewise He died in that His Body and Spirit were separated, not that He died in His divinity... But just like His divinity did not separated from His humanity when He hungered, rather He, who is human and divine hungered, even though the hunger was because of His humanity and not His divinity, likewise He remained fully Human and God when He departed, with both His Body and His Spirit being united to the Godhead at all times.