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Author Topic: The Assyrian Church of the East Writings?  (Read 14970 times) Average Rating: 0
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Alveus Lacuna
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« on: April 03, 2009, 03:14:10 AM »

I am interested in English works on the history and theology of the Nestorian Church.  Any suggestions would be appreciated!  I know they are not "Orthodox" by their own definition, but they are from the Orient, so this seemed like the appropriate forum.
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« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2009, 07:38:27 AM »

There are lots of translated primary texts on archive.org, but a good source of modern secondary materials is available here, on the website that was run by Mar Bawai Soro before he fell into difficulties with other members of the hierarchy and recently joined the Catholic Church.

http://web.archive.org/web/20070930193405/http://www.cired.org/

He has also published a volume in English describing the position of the Church of the East on various issues.

http://stores.lulu.com/marbawai

I do have questions myself about the Christology of the Church of the East but believe that we should offer them the same respect which we wish to receive from others with whom we are ourselves in dialogue. I do also find it a little troubling that the Roman Catholic Church can consider the Christology of the Church of the East the same as their own.

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« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2009, 11:10:35 AM »

I do also find it a little troubling that the Roman Catholic Church can consider the Christology of the Church of the East the same as their own.

Well, I think that is pretty telling about Latin priorities.  At this point, it's all about "communion with Rome" as the central doctrine of faith; forget all the rest!  Keep your own disparate theological traditions, they'll pay no mind!

For anyone else reading the thread, I am actually interested in printed books, not internet resources.  When I get down to business and really begin to read, I like to do it the old fashioned way.
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« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2009, 01:35:58 PM »

I do also find it a little troubling that the Roman Catholic Church can consider the Christology of the Church of the East the same as their own.

What if the Church of the East is not really nestorian, but simply uses language differently than we do? Don't EOs and OOs assume the same about eachother?
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« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2009, 02:32:43 PM »

I do also find it a little troubling that the Roman Catholic Church can consider the Christology of the Church of the East the same as their own.

What if the Church of the East is not really nestorian, but simply uses language differently than we do? Don't EOs and OOs assume the same about eachother?

I once posed this question to a theology professor at my seminary and his question was, "well, they don't believe the same thing just with different words. That is the problem."

I once wrote a commentary on the Anathemas of Nestorius against St Cyril on this site somewhere. It's pretty clear from them that they are not Orthodox.
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« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2009, 02:36:27 PM »

I do also find it a little troubling that the Roman Catholic Church can consider the Christology of the Church of the East the same as their own.

What if the Church of the East is not really nestorian, but simply uses language differently than we do? Don't EOs and OOs assume the same about eachother?

I once posed this question to a theology professor at my seminary and his question was, "well, they don't believe the same thing just with different words. That is the problem."

I once wrote a commentary on the Anathemas of Nestorius against St Cyril on this site somewhere. It's pretty clear from them that they are not Orthodox.
Thank you for sharing, but I have read, from Ancient Assyrian Church of the East sources, that they are not truely nestorian in theology. They claim that they do not believe what they have been charged with believing.
However, if any ACOE claims to believe that Jesus is two persons, then the Catholic Church would reject that teaching.
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« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2009, 02:46:27 PM »

They do not consider themselves Nestorian.  I should have avoided that term.  I think that came to be called that because they allowed some Nestorians to take refuge in their church, because they had compassion on them, but their breaking communion was not over Nestorianism.
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« Reply #7 on: April 03, 2009, 02:59:05 PM »

I do also find it a little troubling that the Roman Catholic Church can consider the Christology of the Church of the East the same as their own.

What if the Church of the East is not really nestorian, but simply uses language differently than we do? Don't EOs and OOs assume the same about eachother?

I once posed this question to a theology professor at my seminary and his question was, "well, they don't believe the same thing just with different words. That is the problem."

I once wrote a commentary on the Anathemas of Nestorius against St Cyril on this site somewhere. It's pretty clear from them that they are not Orthodox.
Thank you for sharing, but I have read, from Ancient Assyrian Church of the East sources, that they are not truely nestorian in theology. They claim that they do not believe what they have been charged with believing.
However, if any ACOE claims to believe that Jesus is two persons, then the Catholic Church would reject that teaching.

I've read what you read. Their argument is pretty weak. They commemorate Nestorius in their liturgy, confuse person and nature, and do not call Mary Theotokos, and deny communicatio idiomatum. They're not Orthodox.

Some of them tried to claim that they do not hold Nestorius up to be a doctrinal teacher, but rather a confessor; but what did he suffer for? Precisely for his heretical beliefs, which they did not anathematize.
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« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2009, 03:58:32 PM »

I do also find it a little troubling that the Roman Catholic Church can consider the Christology of the Church of the East the same as their own.

What if the Church of the East is not really nestorian, but simply uses language differently than we do? Don't EOs and OOs assume the same about eachother?

I once posed this question to a theology professor at my seminary and his question was, "well, they don't believe the same thing just with different words. That is the problem."

I once wrote a commentary on the Anathemas of Nestorius against St Cyril on this site somewhere. It's pretty clear from them that they are not Orthodox.
Thank you for sharing, but I have read, from Ancient Assyrian Church of the East sources, that they are not truely nestorian in theology. They claim that they do not believe what they have been charged with believing.
However, if any ACOE claims to believe that Jesus is two persons, then the Catholic Church would reject that teaching.

I've read what you read. Their argument is pretty weak. They commemorate Nestorius in their liturgy, confuse person and nature, and do not call Mary Theotokos, and deny communicatio idiomatum. They're not Orthodox.

Some of them tried to claim that they do not hold Nestorius up to be a doctrinal teacher, but rather a confessor; but what did he suffer for? Precisely for his heretical beliefs, which they did not anathematize.
I must confess that I had similar feelings when I read their apologetics but I wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt considering the fact that I am not an expert in their theological/philosophical language.
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« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2009, 04:14:31 PM »

I do also find it a little troubling that the Roman Catholic Church can consider the Christology of the Church of the East the same as their own.

What if the Church of the East is not really nestorian, but simply uses language differently than we do? Don't EOs and OOs assume the same about eachother?

I once posed this question to a theology professor at my seminary and his question was, "well, they don't believe the same thing just with different words. That is the problem."

I once wrote a commentary on the Anathemas of Nestorius against St Cyril on this site somewhere. It's pretty clear from them that they are not Orthodox.
Thank you for sharing, but I have read, from Ancient Assyrian Church of the East sources, that they are not truely nestorian in theology. They claim that they do not believe what they have been charged with believing.
However, if any ACOE claims to believe that Jesus is two persons, then the Catholic Church would reject that teaching.

I've read what you read. Their argument is pretty weak. They commemorate Nestorius in their liturgy, confuse person and nature, and do not call Mary Theotokos, and deny communicatio idiomatum. They're not Orthodox.

Some of them tried to claim that they do not hold Nestorius up to be a doctrinal teacher, but rather a confessor; but what did he suffer for? Precisely for his heretical beliefs, which they did not anathematize.

Source:  http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/documents/rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_11111994_assyrian-church_en.html

From the COMMON CHRISTOLOGICAL DECLARATION
BETWEEN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
AND THE ASSYRIAN CHURCH OF THE EAST

Therefore our Lord Jesus Christ is true God and true man, perfect in his divinity and perfect in his humanity, consubstantial with the Father and consubstantial with us in all things but sin. His divinity and his humanity are united in one person, without confusion or change, without division or separation. In him has been preserved the difference of the natures of divinity and humanity, with all their properties, faculties and operations. But far from constituting "one and another", the divinity and humanity are united in the person of the same and unique Son of God and Lord Jesus Christ, who is the object of a single adoration.

Christ therefore is not an " ordinary man" whom God adopted in order to reside in him and inspire him, as in the righteous ones and the prophets. But the same God the Word, begotten of his Father before all worlds without beginning according to his divinity, was born of a mother without a father in the last times according to his humanity. The humanity to which the Blessed Virgin Mary gave birth always was that of the Son of God himself. That is the reason why the Assyrian Church of the East is praying the Virgin Mary as "the Mother of Christ our God and Saviour". In the light of this same faith the Catholic tradition addresses the Virgin Mary as "the Mother of God" and also as "the Mother of Christ". We both recognize the legitimacy and rightness of these expressions of the same faith and we both respect the preference of each Church in her liturgical life and piety.

This is the unique faith that we profess in the mystery of Christ. The controversies of the past led to anathemas, bearing on persons and on formulas. The Lord's Spirit permits us to understand better today that the divisions brought about in this way were due in large part to misunderstandings.

Whatever our Christological divergences have been, we experience ourselves united today in the confession of the same faith in the Son of God who became man so that we might become children of God by his grace. We wish from now on to witness together to this faith in the One who is the Way, the Truth and the Life, proclaiming it in appropriate ways to our contemporaries, so that the world may believe in the Gospel of salvation.

***

It seems that, based on the statments above the Assyrians are now professing that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is one person.
 

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« Reply #10 on: April 03, 2009, 07:18:12 PM »


It seems that, based on the statments above the Assyrians are now professing that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is one person.

I don't think that the Church of the East has ever stated that Christ is "two persons."  The issue is more subtle than that.  They use "two natures" and "one person," but seem to believe in more separation between the two natures than most EO's or Catholics would feel comfortable with.  I get the feeling that to really understand what they mean, one has to look at the Syriac terminology they use.  An Assyrian guy used to post here (ronyodish) and he explained it somewhat in this thread:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,16412.0.html





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« Reply #11 on: April 03, 2009, 08:07:38 PM »

Fr. John Romanides in his amazing and quite lengthy paper on Theodore of Mopsuestia blamed the subtle difference of Christology on some form of Nestorian Christological and Eschatological Monotheletism, i.e. that their teachings put the human part of Christ no different than their teachings on prophets and saints in the general Resurrection.  While they may say they don't think that way, Fr. John Romanides gives textual proof on the Theodoran belief of the loss of freedom of will when we are deemed worthy to be in the presence of the Lord.  This is pretty much what they mean by unity in will, not natural unity, not hypostatic unity, but a personal unity in will.  The only difference between Christ and the prophets, says Fr. Romanides of Theodore's belief, that Christ had no distinct human will on his own from conception, whereas the saints and prophets achieve this after Resurrection.

I have not seen an article however that can confirm or debunk the claims made by Fr. John Romanides, but albeit a very very interesting assessment.
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« Reply #12 on: April 03, 2009, 08:27:54 PM »

There are lots of translated primary texts on archive.org, but a good source of modern secondary materials is available here, on the website that was run by Mar Bawai Soro before he fell into difficulties with other members of the hierarchy and recently joined the Catholic Church.

http://web.archive.org/web/20070930193405/http://www.cired.org/

He has also published a volume in English describing the position of the Church of the East on various issues.



http://stores.lulu.com/marbawai

I do have questions myself about the Christology of the Church of the East but believe that we should offer them the same respect which we wish to receive from others with whom we are ourselves in dialogue. I do also find it a little troubling that the Roman Catholic Church can consider the Christology of the Church of the East the same as their own.

Father Peter


Thank you, Father, for the recommendations.  I'm thinking of getting the book.

If anyone wants to take a look at the table of contents and index, you can see it on amazon.com:

http://www.amazon.com/Church-East-Apostolic-Orthodox/dp/160402514X/ref=cm_cr_pr_pb_t
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« Reply #13 on: April 03, 2009, 10:17:07 PM »

This one looks pretty good as well:

The Church of the East: An Illustrated History of Assyrian Christianity
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« Reply #14 on: April 04, 2009, 02:11:44 AM »


It seems that, based on the statments above the Assyrians are now professing that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is one person.

I don't think that the Church of the East has ever stated that Christ is "two persons."  The issue is more subtle than that.  They use "two natures" and "one person," but seem to believe in more separation between the two natures than most EO's or Catholics would feel comfortable with.  I get the feeling that to really understand what they mean, one has to look at the Syriac terminology they use.  An Assyrian guy used to post here (ronyodish) and he explained it somewhat in this thread:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,16412.0.html






Thanks for this information. I was under the impression that at one time they referred to "two hypostatises" with regard to Christ but that they no longer mean literally two persons.
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« Reply #15 on: April 04, 2009, 02:37:46 AM »

Thanks for this information. I was under the impression that at one time they referred to "two hypostatises" with regard to Christ but that they no longer mean literally two persons.

It's been a while since I really read ronyodish's posts in the thread I linked, but it seemed to me at the time he was shying away from using the phrase "two hypostases," relying instead on the Syriac terminology which had a different nuance.  I also don't think that the Church of the East has changed its Christology since the time of Theodore, although Babai the Great did evidently somehow rework it or systemize it.  In any event, they still venerate Theodore of Mopsuestia. 

I wish ronyodish still posted here so he could explain things further.
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« Reply #16 on: April 04, 2009, 05:30:57 AM »

I have also been concerned that the OO do not approach the ACE in a negative and polemical manner, but rather allow them to speak for themselves. I did contact Mar Bawai Soro at one time to see if he could put me in touch with a theologian to correspond with. But Mar Bawai Soro has had various problems to contend with, and it is not always easy to write in a positive manner about the ACE within an OO context, as this can be misunderstood for various kinds of liberalism.

In my own studies, and there are many modern academic writers on Theodore and Theodoret to turn to, I am sure that the Christology of Theodore, Theodoret and Ibas, as well as Nestorius, was always defective. If the ACE still depends on the teaching of these Fathers then it is a defective Christology. If it no longer does then there are questions about their veneration of these figures. I have tried to read as much as possible about the Christology of the modern ACE and at the best (I mean that positively) I was left with a series of questions that I wanted someone authoritative to answer. At the worst, I could see no difference between the Christology of the ACE and that of Theodoret for instance.

In the case of Theodoret, he never spoke of two persons, but understood Christ as the person of the union of the Word and Jesus. Jesus was not a mere man, because he was filled with God in an exceedingly great sense, but he was still essentially just a man and was not God the Word become truly flesh. Theodoret was able to say that he believed in the union of Divinity and humanity in Christ but he did not believe what we would believe by those words. He could never identify the identity of Jesus with that of the identity of the Word. He could say that Christ suffered on the cross, but never that the Word suffered on the cross.

I do think that we should be entirely open hearted towards the ACE, and that there are not many questions which need resolving, but they are important questions. And if, as I tend to think, there is a significant difference in Christology, that does not mean that we should deal with the ACE any less respectfully.

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« Reply #17 on: April 04, 2009, 06:33:21 AM »

Dear Fr Peter,

I recommend you get hold of a copy of HE Metropiltan Bishoy's A Documentary on the Nestorian Assyrian Church of the East: Its History, Present Condition and Doctrines.

His Eminence gives a commentary on the most recent ecumenical encounters with the ACE, including a recount of his own personal correspondence with Metropolitan Bawai Soro (before the latter 'defected').

His Eminence's research was ultimately the primary basis upon which the Holy Synod formally withdrew the Church's participation in ecumenical dialogue with the ACE. In a nutshell, the conclusion of His Eminence's research was that the current teachings of the Assyrian Church were defective and that the ACE was adament in persisting in those errors in respect of which the Church will not (and should not) compromise. It appears that some fickleness/deception on part of certain ACE authorities (along the lines of their recanting certain lofty promises earlier made) cemented our Church's tendency to shake the dust off our feet on the matter of OO-ACE reconciliation (at least as long as the ACE retains its present position on the relevant issues).
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« Reply #18 on: April 04, 2009, 10:14:25 AM »

Yes, I have read the work by H.E. Metropolitan Bishoy.

I do still think that a sympathetic and generous attitude is appropriate. We have nothing to fear from the very small ACE community, and it seems to me that there is value in honestly discovering difference as well as agreement.

As far as I can read the situation in the ACE, from the outside, it does appear that there were two parties within their Synod. One wishing to be more ecumenical and the other wishing to take a harder line position based on difference. This was what seems to have caused Mar Bawai Soro to be dealt with in what seemed a harsh and unfair manner, and then to have united his communities in the US with the RC.

I am not sure that the aim of ecumenical conversation must be or should be unity with the other party, rather to share fellowship as far as is possible and to uncover that which is held in common while understanding that which is a matter of disagreement and even controversy. It is always better to find more friends in the world rather than to persist in ancient enmities. Friendship does not require abandoning one's faith so it is not a cause of fear.

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« Reply #19 on: April 04, 2009, 04:38:15 PM »


In the case of Theodoret, he never spoke of two persons, but understood Christ as the person of the union of the Word and Jesus. Jesus was not a mere man, because he was filled with God in an exceedingly great sense, but he was still essentially just a man and was not God the Word become truly flesh. Theodoret was able to say that he believed in the union of Divinity and humanity in Christ but he did not believe what we would believe by those words. He could never identify the identity of Jesus with that of the identity of the Word. He could say that Christ suffered on the cross, but never that the Word suffered on the cross.

It seems that the ACE denies this very idea that you have stated above in their joint declaration on Christology with the Catholic Church.
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« Reply #20 on: April 04, 2009, 05:22:52 PM »


In the case of Theodoret, he never spoke of two persons, but understood Christ as the person of the union of the Word and Jesus. Jesus was not a mere man, because he was filled with God in an exceedingly great sense, but he was still essentially just a man and was not God the Word become truly flesh. Theodoret was able to say that he believed in the union of Divinity and humanity in Christ but he did not believe what we would believe by those words. He could never identify the identity of Jesus with that of the identity of the Word. He could say that Christ suffered on the cross, but never that the Word suffered on the cross.

It seems that the ACE denies this very idea that you have stated above in their joint declaration on Christology with the Catholic Church.

The problem with joint declarations like the one above is that they use language which sounds good to everyone, but may still ignore some real differences.  It's my understanding that if you "scratch beneath the surface," as they say, and look deeper, they believe in less of a union than we do.  They still do not fully embrace the phrase "Mother of God" for the Virgin Mary, even though they may allow it as a sort of title of honor.  They also will not say that "One of the Trinity suffered in the flesh."  From our point of view this means they really don't see Christ as "God the Word become truly flesh."  At least that is how I understand it from our point of view. 

Also, I will note that although your Church did enter into this joint declaration with the Church of the East, you still are not in communion with them.  Does this not indicate that your Church's leadership might on some level still have some problem with the Church of the East's Christology? 
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« Reply #21 on: April 04, 2009, 05:29:22 PM »

The joint statement clearly says that the divinity and humanity are united in the person of Christ. This was exactly what Theodoret said, and the person of Christ was the person of the union and not the selfsame Word of God.

Anytime I see someone from the in two natures tradition speaking of the person of Christ and not the person of the Word my radar does start itching.

This at least would be an area for further questions. Theodoret, holding an heretical Christology, would easily be able to sign up to the words of the joint statement. It is not restrictive enough. It is necessary to say, among other things, that the Word of God suffers and dies. Theodoret was never able to say that.

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« Reply #22 on: April 05, 2009, 12:06:57 AM »



Also, I will note that although your Church did enter into this joint declaration with the Church of the East, you still are not in communion with them.  Does this not indicate that your Church's leadership might on some level still have some problem with the Church of the East's Christology? 
Tis possible. But we have other doctrinal issues with the ACE as well.
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« Reply #23 on: April 05, 2009, 11:36:27 PM »

Father Peter,

What makes you think, that Bp Bawai Soro was dealt with harshly, certainly the ACE Synod does not seem to share that viewpoint.


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« Reply #24 on: April 06, 2009, 03:53:18 AM »

As an outsider it is hard to know what is really going on.

But I followed the issues for some time. It seemed that he was being very successful in his communities in the US, and was making substantial ecumenical progress. It seemed that some members of the Synod did not like this and he was told he could either become the Bishop of Iraq or retire as a bishop. It seemed that his communities resisted this and he had to find a home for them.

I have used the word seemed because I have only the various information which was posted on the web, legal decisions etc, statements from supporters. If it was only mostly true then he seemed to have been badly treated.

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« Reply #25 on: April 07, 2009, 02:03:13 AM »

Father Peter,

I too was trying to follow the issues , and I sort of came to understand that Bp Bawai Soro and his ecumenical overtures were primarily aimed at Rome ( esp since his time at the Pontifical Oriental), he did try to push for certian reforms, especially regarding the use of Arabic , English against the Syriac/Aramaic in the liturgy etc.
In any case, he does not seem to have the Synod with him .

Much of my interest is because, India is home to  ACE Metropolitanate , and Mar Aprem the Met. is well regarded and respected universally in India, regardless of the Christological issues.
I hope to directly write to H.E about this issue.

Suraj
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« Reply #26 on: April 08, 2009, 02:14:55 AM »

Father Peter,

I too was trying to follow the issues , and I sort of came to understand that Bp Bawai Soro and his ecumenical overtures were primarily aimed at Rome ( esp since his time at the Pontifical Oriental), he did try to push for certian reforms, especially regarding the use of Arabic , English against the Syriac/Aramaic in the liturgy etc.
In any case, he does not seem to have the Synod with him .

Much of my interest is because, India is home to  ACE Metropolitanate , and Mar Aprem the Met. is well regarded and respected universally in India, regardless of the Christological issues.
I hope to directly write to H.E about this issue.

Suraj


It seems to me also that the Indian and Syrian Orthodox churches have a more open relationship with the ACE than other OO's.
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« Reply #27 on: April 08, 2009, 03:29:38 AM »

Mina,

AFAIK, the seemingly good relationships has not resulted in any institutional dialogue or any thing like that, it results mostly in photo-ops and the like.

Some work is done at the Pro-oriente Syriac forum, I hope that at the Indian level something more substantial will take place.  Even if we never agree, it would be interesting to hear their perspective, study their liturgy etc in depth. 

Suraj Iype
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« Reply #28 on: April 12, 2009, 09:01:46 PM »

I am interested in English works on the history and theology of the Nestorian Church.  Any suggestions would be appreciated! 

BY FOOT TO CHINA

Mission of The Church of the East, to 1400

http://www.aina.org/books/bftc/bftc.htm


DEDICATED to the memory of the men of God who thirteen centuries ago first took the gospel to China - "the missionaries who traveled on foot, sandals on their feet, a staff in their hands, a basket on their backs, and in the basket the Holy Scriptures and the cross. They went over deep rivers and high mountains, thousands of miles, and on the way, meeting many nations, they preached to them the gospel of Christ."


An extraordinary online account and a must read.
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« Reply #29 on: April 12, 2009, 09:15:02 PM »

Here is a new book which seems to have a large portion devoted to the Church of the East.  I am dying to get hold of it, but will wait until I can pick it up secondhand.


The Lost History of Christianity
The Thousand-Year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia--and How It Died
by Philip Jenkins
 
In the summer of 2002, I traveled in southeastern Turkey to meet with members of the two-millennia-old Syriac church, of whom only a few thousand are left in their homelands. Their language, Syriac-Aramaic, is as close as any living language to the one that Jesus spoke, yet they are forbidden by the Turkish government to teach it to their schoolchildren. We came to deserted villages such as Kafro, whose inhabitants had been driven out by the attacks of Turkish Hezbollah, and which were now sealed off by the military. We visited the monastery of Tur Abdin, a major center of Eastern Christianity, now dwindling under suffocating government restrictions. We met the only two monks remaining in the monastery of the village of Sare.
 
In Nisibis (now Nusaybin in southeast Turkey), where a famous Christian community dates back to the second century, and which nurtured Ephrem, the greatest of the Syrian theologians, there is a church dating from 439. It was locked and abandoned after World War I when the inhabitants, fleeing massacre, escaped into Syria. For 60 years there had been no Christians there, but now the diocese had sent a Christian family from a local village, who live in a small apartment in the church and try to keep it from falling apart.
 
We went into the crypt to see the tomb of Jacob of Nisibis, from whom the term "Jacobite" church is named, and while we studied his sarcophagus, our driver, unprompted, began to sing an ancient hymn. His strong voice filled the tomb. We asked him what the words meant, and he told us that the lyrics came from Ephrem himself:
 
Listen, my chicks have flown,
left their nest, alarmed
By the eagle. Look,
where they hide in dread!
Bring them back in peace!
 
Philip Jenkins's marvelous new book, The Lost History of Christianity, tells the largely forgotten story of Nisibis, and thousands of sites like it, which stretch from Morocco to Kenya to India to China, and which were, deep into the second millennium, the heart of the church. While Christians will be particularly concerned with this story, it will be of interest to, and significant for, far more than they.
 
After an already distinguished career as a historian, Jenkins has, during the last six years, produced a series of books designed to inform modern readers of the religious shape of the world we inhabit, a shape radically different from that of the popular, or even not-so-popular, mind. While much of what he has written will be of little surprise to specialists, he has a gift for clearly and cogently synthesizing and summarizing copious research. The Next Christendom (2002) described how Christianity's demographic center of gravity, in the 20th century, moved to the Third World. The New Faces of Christianity (2006) argued that, since their culture is closer to the Bible, Africans and Asians understand the book very differently from Europeans and North Americans, and find in it a great liberatory force. God's Continent: Christianity, Islam, and Europe's Religious Crisis (2007) found in Europe much more than fading Christianity and growing Islam.
 
The story usually told of Christianity is that, while it certainly also spread elsewhere, its major influence and home was in Europe. The church developed early, Europe became in some sense Christianized, and subsequently it set the pattern for the faith. With the discovery of America and the European voyages of exploration, as well as colonialism, Christianity then spread to the rest of the world largely as a Western export.
 
Jenkins demonstrates that this story is flat wrong--or as he more charitably puts it, "much of what we know is inaccurate."
 
For most of its history, Christianity was a tricontinental religion, with powerful representation in Europe, Africa and Asia, and this was true into the 14th century. Christianity became predominantly European not because this continent had any obvious affinity for that faith, but by default: Europe was the continent where it was not destroyed.
 
As late as the 11th century Asia was home to about a third of the world's Christians, Africa another 10 percent, and the faith in these continents had deeper roots in the culture than it did in Europe, where in many places it was newly arrived or still arriving.
 
About the time of Charlemagne's investiture in 800, the patriarch, or catholicos, of the Church of the East, often called Nestorian, was Timothy, based in Seleucia, in Mesopotamia. In prestige and authority, Timothy was "arguably the most significant Christian spiritual leader of his day," much more influential than the Western pope and on par with the Orthodox patriarch in Constantinople. Perhaps a quarter of the world's Christians looked to him as their spiritual and political head. His duties included appointing bishops in Yemen, Arabia, Iran, Turkestan, Afghanistan, Tibet, India, Sri Lanka, and China. A Christian cemetery in Kyrgyzstan contains inscriptions in Syrian and Turkish commemorating "Terim the Chinese, Sazik the Indian, Banus the Uygur, Kiamata of Kashgar, and Tatt the Mongol." The Church of the East may even have reached to Burma, Vietnam, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, and Korea.
 
The Asian church was also more intellectually accomplished: Its operating languages were Syriac, Persian, Turkish, Soghdian, and Chinese. Timothy himself translated Aristotle's Topics from Syriac into Arabic. Much of the "Arab" scholarship of the time, such as translations of Plato, Aristotle, Hippocrates, Galen, and others into Arabic, or the adoption of the Indian numbering system, was in fact done by Syriac, Persian, and Coptic (Egyptian and Nubian) Christians, often in the high employ of the Caliph.
 
It was also a church immersed in cultures very different from the Roman and Hellenic environments of the West. Timothy engaged in a famous dialogue with the caliph al-Mahdi, which still survives. The church's milieu was not only Jewish and Muslim but also, perhaps more so, Buddhist, Manichaean, Zoroastrian, and Confucian. This made for relations that defy many of our usual assumptions about history. Jenkins recounts how "in 782, the Indian Buddhist missionary Prajna arrived in the Chinese imperial capital of Chang'an, but was unable to translate the Sanskrit sutras he had brought" into Chinese or other useful local languages.
 
Hence, Prajna did the obvious thing and consulted with Bishop Adam, head of the Chinese church, who was deeply interested in understanding Buddhism. As a result, "Buddhist and Nestorian scholars worked amiably together for some years to translate seven copious volumes of Buddhist wisdom." These same volumes were taken back home by Japanese monks who had been in Chang'an, and became the founding volumes of Shingon and Tendai, the two great schools of Japanese Buddhism.
 
The Chinese also influenced the West. Around 1275, two Chinese monks began a pilgrimage to the Holy land. One, Markos, was probably a Uygur and the other, Bar Sauma, may have been an Onggud. In 1281, Markos was elected patriarch. He protested that he was not up to it, not least because his knowledge of Syriac was rudimentary. But the church fathers argued that the "kings who held the steering poles of the government of the whole world were the [Mongols], and there was no man except [him] who was acquainted with their manners and customs." Markos established his seat near Tabriz, then the capital of the Mongol Ilkhan dynasty.
 
Bar Sauma had an equally interesting life. In 1287 the Ilkhan overlord sent him on a diplomatic mission to Europe to enlist aid for a proposed joint assault on Mamluk Egypt: Kublai Khan in Beijing would also be a supporter. The Europeans were amazed to discover both that the church stretched to the shores of the Pacific and that the emissary from the fearsome Mongols was a Christian bishop, one from whom the king of England subsequently took communion.
 
Jenkins places the ending of this world, "the decisive collapse of Christianity in the Middle East, across Asia, and in much of Africa," not with the initial rise of Islam but in the 14th century. One trigger was the Mongol invasions, which threatened Arab Islam as never before. (The Crusades were a minor sideshow.) The Mongols sought alliances with Christians, and there were Christians among them, hence local believers were treated as a potential fifth column and often massacred.
 
Later, the Mongols themselves embraced Islam and turned on the Christians. Timur's subsequent invasions, among the most brutal in history, furthered the process, as did Seljuk and Ottoman advances and, further east, rising anti-Mongol Chinese nationalism. Between 1200 and 1500 the proportion of Christians outside Europe fell from over a third to about 6 percent. By 1500 the European church had become dominant "by dint of being, so to speak, the last men standing" of the Christian world.
 
The eastern communities were savaged again in a second great wave of persecution beginning in the 19th century, with the slaughter of the Armenians, and also the Syriacs, Nestorians, and Maronites. When the British took over Mesopotamia after the First World War, they judged the Assyrians' situation so desperate that they considered moving them to Canada. In 1930 there were proposals to transfer them to South America. Following massacres by Arabs in 1933, the British flew the patriarch to Cyprus for safety while the League of Nations debated moving them to Brazil or Niger. We may currently be in another such wave as Christians flee the Palestinian areas, Lebanon, Turkey, and Egypt. In 2003 in Iraq, Christians were some 4 percent of the population, but they have since comprised 40 percent of the refugees.
 
As Jenkins says, "We have forgotten a world." The "new" globalized Christianity "is better seen as a resumption of an ancient reality." He explores the pervasive influence of Christianity on Islam, and it is always good to see the woolly writings of Karen Armstrong and Elaine Pagels taken apart, albeit gently.
 
This book has few weaknesses. It would have been good to explore the major cultural effects of the different role of language in Christian and Islamic missions: the former seeking to bring the Word into the locals' languages, the latter seeking to bring the locals the Word in Arabic.
 
In the late 10th century a Nestorian monk from Arabia visiting China reported his horror at discovering that Christianity had, after centuries, by then become "extinct." But Christianity is now in its fourth phase of expansion in China: More people there go to church than do in Europe. Perhaps Ephrem's hymn and prayer will be answered: "Bring them back in peace."
 
Paul Marshall is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom and the editor of Blind Spot: When Journalists Don't Get Religion.

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« Reply #30 on: April 21, 2009, 06:05:27 PM »

Dear Fr Peter,

I recommend you get hold of a copy of HE Metropiltan Bishoy's A Documentary on the Nestorian Assyrian Church of the East: Its History, Present Condition and Doctrines.

His Eminence gives a commentary on the most recent ecumenical encounters with the ACE, including a recount of his own personal correspondence with Metropolitan Bawai Soro (before the latter 'defected').

His Eminence's research was ultimately the primary basis upon which the Holy Synod formally withdrew the Church's participation in ecumenical dialogue with the ACE. In a nutshell, the conclusion of His Eminence's research was that the current teachings of the Assyrian Church were defective and that the ACE was adament in persisting in those errors in respect of which the Church will not (and should not) compromise. It appears that some fickleness/deception on part of certain ACE authorities (along the lines of their recanting certain lofty promises earlier made) cemented our Church's tendency to shake the dust off our feet on the matter of OO-ACE reconciliation (at least as long as the ACE retains its present position on the relevant issues).

Christos Anesti.

                    May peace and grace be with your spirit.

                    I also have read His Emminence Metropolitan Bishoy's work regarding the Nestorians (ACE) {A Documentary on the Nestorian Assyrian Church of the East: Its History, Present Condition and Doctrines}and discussed it with HE and HE secretary during a recent trip to Damiette and the Monastery of St Demiana (2008) I must say that the position put forward by HE and undertaken by the Holy Synod is the -only- consistent response any Christian Church could take towards such behaviour, teachings and veneration undertaken by the Nestorians. Whilst dialogue and inter faith discussions may and do occur with other -Christian based- Churches, it must not occur with non-Christian sects or cults or those who are in denial of either the Blessed Holy Trinity or complete Divinity and Humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ.

                    Pray for me.

James+
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« Reply #31 on: April 21, 2009, 06:33:43 PM »

Welcome to the forum, Fr. James!
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« Reply #32 on: April 21, 2009, 06:38:37 PM »

Abouna James,

Alithos Anesti!

Thanks for your response.

You wouldn't happen to be the recently ordained (as of early this year) Fr James of Australian descent would you?
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« Reply #33 on: April 21, 2009, 06:49:12 PM »

Welcome to the forum, Fr. James!

Thank you dear Salpy, kindly remember me in your prayers.

James+
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« Reply #34 on: April 21, 2009, 06:52:41 PM »

Abouna James,

Alithos Anesti!

Thanks for your response.

You wouldn't happen to be the recently ordained (as of early this year) Fr James of Australian descent would you?

Asalam ya habibi,  Smiley

Tis I the Australian sinner. December 6th, 2008, St James the mangled, Ordained at the hands of HG Anba Daniel of Sydney, HG Anba Ashaiah of Tahta and in the presence of the Syrian Archbishop of Sydney HE Malki Malki.

Remember my weakness in your prayers.

James+
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« Reply #35 on: April 21, 2009, 07:01:55 PM »

A pleasant surprise to see you on here Abouna!

I was present (and in fact served) at your ordination (which took place in the Cathedral I regularly attend).

You probably don't remember me but I also had the honour of serving with you during my brief stay at St Shenouda's monastery which took place during your "preparation period."

I look forward to reading more posts from you. Please remember me in your prayers.
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« Reply #36 on: April 21, 2009, 07:15:39 PM »

A pleasant surprise to see you on here Abouna!

I was present (and in fact served) at your ordination (which took place in the Cathedral I regularly attend).

You probably don't remember me but I also had the honour of serving with you during my brief stay at St Shenouda's monastery which took place during your "preparation period."

I look forward to reading more posts from you. Please remember me in your prayers.

Thank you for blessing my weakness and serving alongside. Kindly remember me in your prayers and may the prayers of the saints be with us all.

James+
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« Reply #37 on: April 21, 2009, 09:01:11 PM »

Father Peter,

I too was trying to follow the issues , and I sort of came to understand that Bp Bawai Soro and his ecumenical overtures were primarily aimed at Rome ( esp since his time at the Pontifical Oriental), he did try to push for certian reforms, especially regarding the use of Arabic , English against the Syriac/Aramaic in the liturgy etc.
In any case, he does not seem to have the Synod with him .

Much of my interest is because, India is home to  ACE Metropolitanate , and Mar Aprem the Met. is well regarded and respected universally in India, regardless of the Christological issues.
I hope to directly write to H.E about this issue.

Suraj


It seems to me also that the Indian and Syrian Orthodox churches have a more open relationship with the ACE than other OO's.

Christ is Risen!

The Syriacs and Assyrians see themselves as one people, and the Indians have followed suit.
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« Reply #38 on: April 21, 2009, 11:46:04 PM »

The Syriacs and Assyrians see themselves as one people,

You mean ethnically, of course.   Smiley
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« Reply #39 on: April 22, 2009, 03:14:27 AM »

Your Reverence,

Welcome to the forums  Smiley

Mina, a NJ Copt (although not in NJ right now)

Pray for me.
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« Reply #40 on: April 22, 2009, 06:10:53 PM »


Welcome to the forums  Smiley

Mina, a NJ Copt (although not in NJ right now)

Pray for me.


Thank you Mina, the prayers of the saints be with you.

James+
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« Reply #41 on: April 22, 2009, 08:28:08 PM »

Here is a new book which seems to have a large portion devoted to the Church of the East.  I am dying to get hold of it, but will wait until I can pick it up secondhand.


The Lost History of Christianity
The Thousand-Year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia--and How It Died
by Philip Jenkins
....
Hence, Prajna did the obvious thing and consulted with Bishop Adam, head of the Chinese church, who was deeply interested in understanding Buddhism. As a result, "Buddhist and Nestorian scholars worked amiably together for some years to translate seven copious volumes of Buddhist wisdom." These same volumes were taken back home by Japanese monks who had been in Chang'an, and became the founding volumes of Shingon and Tendai, the two great schools of Japanese Buddhism.

We see this process again happening over the past hundred years or so, with European (Christian) scholars publishing translations of Buddhist and Hindu texts, thus aiding in the revivals of these traditions.

What I wouldn't give for Bishop Adam's diaries! Grin
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« Reply #42 on: July 22, 2009, 08:24:12 PM »

Quote
I don't think that the Church of the East has ever stated that Christ is "two persons."  The issue is more subtle than that.  They use "two natures" and "one person," but seem to believe in more separation between the two natures than most EO's or Catholics would feel comfortable with.  I get the feeling that to really understand what they mean, one has to look at the Syriac terminology they use.  An Assyrian guy used to post here (ronyodish) and he explained it somewhat in this thread:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,16412.0.html

Quote
It's been a while since I really read ronyodish's posts in the thread I linked, but it seemed to me at the time he was shying away from using the phrase "two hypostases," relying instead on the Syriac terminology which had a different nuance.  I also don't think that the Church of the East has changed its Christology since the time of Theodore, although Babai the Great did evidently somehow rework it or systemize it.  In any event, they still venerate Theodore of Mopsuestia.

I wish ronyodish still posted here so he could explain things further.

Salpy,

Peace be with you!  Smiley

I only occasionally visit this website, and so I just found this thread.  I usually post at another website, but I'll try to contribute here as much as I can and have the time for, God willing.

I just wanted to clarify that in regards your first quote, though I am an Assyrian guy (Usually I refer to myself as an Assyrian-Chaldean, or Assyro-Chaldean, or Chaldean), I am not, thereby, a member of the Assyrian Church of the East.  I am a member of the Chaldean Catholic Church of the East, which is a Church of the East in full communion with Rome, a particular Church in the Catholic Communion of Churches.  I am therefore an Eastern Catholic.  However, we Assyro-Chaldean Catholics share the same basic Assyrian-Chaldean tradition with the Assyrian Church of the East, that is, we share a common theology, liturgy, spirituality, and disciplines.  Part of our common theology is a common Christology, or theology on Christ.

In regards to your second quote, it is true that we do not use Greek terms and concepts when we teach our particular Christology to our Assyrian and Chaldean people.  We use Aramaic terms and concepts.  It is only in ecumenical endeavors, where we try to explain our Christology to others, that we have to try and make comparisons between Aramaic and Greek, and other languages.  So, we do not confess two hypostases (Greek term, and how Greek-speakers understand the term), rather, we confess two Qnome (Aramaic term, and how we Aramaic-speakers understand the term in the Church of the East).  We understand Qnoma to mean a particular Nature.  We confess Jesus Christ to be one Person, the true Son and Word of God in His Divine Qnoma (the Son, not the Father, and not the Holy Spirit), and true Man in His Human Qnoma (the particular human body and human soul that was created and assumed), without division, without separation, without confusion, and without change.

Here is a statement from the Sunhados of the Church of the East, aka the Synodicon Orientale (ed., J. B. Chabot, Paris, 1892, appendix, Syriac text, p. 566), taken from this article: Is the Theology of the Church of the East Nestorian?

Quote
“Concerning this, we believe in our hearts and confess with our lips one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, whose Godhead does not disappear, and whose manhood is not stolen away, but who is complete God and complete man.  When we say of Christ ‘com­plete God’ we are not naming the Trinity, but one of the qnome of the Trinity, God the Word.  Again, when we call Christ ‘complete man’ it is not all men we are naming, but the one qnoma which was specifi­cally taken for our salvation into union with the Word.”

As far as our Church of the East Father Mar Babai the Great, here is a paragraph from Wikipedia on his Christology:

Quote
And most important, instead of breaking with Theodore because of some extreme interpretations of his teachings, like others did, Babai clarified his position to the point that differences with western Christology became superficial and mostly an issue of terminology. His Christology is built in great part on sound exegesis and an interesting anthropology and is far less dualistic than the one Nestorius seems to have presented. Babai in the 'Book of Union' teaches two qnome (hypostasis—not the Chalcedonian use of this term, essence), which are unmingled but everlastingly united in one parsopa (person, character, identity, also "hypostasis" in Chalcedonian usage.). It is essential to use the Syrian terms here and not any translations, because the same words mean different things to different people, and the words must be accepted in the particular sense of each. In Greek Christology, hypostasis is used specifically to refer to what would correspond to Babai's parsopa, and ousion would correspond to qnome. In the period in which Babai and others formulated their respective Christological models, words such as "hypostasis" and "ousion" had less specifically fixed definitions. Thus, it was possible for two individuals to honestly use a single term to mean two distinctly different things.

Finally, I really like this diagram which shows our Christology:


I hope this is helpful for the brethren here in understanding the basics of our Christology.

By the way, I'm going to be moving to another State in a few days, and will try and establish an internet connection there, so I might not be back at posting here for a while.  Incase anyone has any questions for me, I may not be able to respond for a while.

God bless,

Rony
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« Reply #43 on: July 22, 2009, 09:22:38 PM »

Thank you for your input and for explaining things!   Smiley
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« Reply #44 on: July 22, 2009, 09:26:45 PM »

I still just don't get it...

I'll try reading a few more times.
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« Reply #45 on: August 07, 2009, 04:31:29 AM »

What I want to know is if the ACE believes that the parsopa of Christ existed before the Incarnation or if it is merely a product of the the Word and Man?
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« Reply #46 on: August 07, 2009, 02:10:19 PM »

http://www.nestorian.org/the_lynching_of__nestorius.html

This explains the Assyrian view of the debate between St. Cyril and Nestorius. They seem to attribute a lot to politics...I'd like to hear what you think.
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« Reply #47 on: August 07, 2009, 03:38:00 PM »

There was definitely politics.  However, to say that Nestorius' condemnation was due purely to politics would be incorrect.  Even apart from St. Cyril, Nestorius' Chrstology (the Christology of Theodore of Mopsuestia) had been criticized.  The Armenian catholicos St. Sahag even before the Third Council recognized the problems with Theodore's system and wrote about it.  (I have no idea if what he wrote has been translated into English.  I wish I could find it.)

Basically, we believe that St. Cyril was Orthodox, and Nestorius was a heretic.  
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« Reply #48 on: August 07, 2009, 04:53:03 PM »

If one simply compares to the 12 anathemas of Cyril against Nestorius to the 12 responses prepared seemingly by Theodoret, one can see quite clearly the irreconcilable nature of these two systems of thought.
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« Reply #49 on: August 08, 2009, 01:25:40 AM »

Can someone post the Twelve Anathemas of Cyril. I have the ones ny Nestorius against Cyril
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« Reply #50 on: August 08, 2009, 01:37:25 AM »

http://www.monachos.net/content/patristics/patristictexts/135-cyril-of-alexandria-third-epistle-to-nestorius-including-the-twelve-anathemas

The anathemas are part way down the page.
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« Reply #51 on: August 08, 2009, 03:07:59 AM »


Can someone post the Twelve Anathemas of Cyril. I have the ones ny Nestorius against Cyril

You can find them in pretty much any account of the acts of the Council of Ephesus of 431.
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« Reply #52 on: August 08, 2009, 03:07:00 PM »

Thanks, Salpy!
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« Reply #53 on: August 08, 2009, 03:39:03 PM »

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,3673.0.html

After reading this post by Fr. Anastasios (reply #5), I have come to the conclusion that the teachings of Nestorius are indeed more like the heresy than I thought.

As far as I can tell, his Christology can be likened to Christ the Man being a Temple, and Christ the Word being the Ark within. The Temple is only holy insofar as the Ark dwells within.
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« Reply #54 on: August 08, 2009, 05:09:41 PM »


As far as I can tell, his Christology can be likened to Christ the Man being a Temple, and Christ the Word being the Ark within. The Temple is only holy insofar as the Ark dwells within.

Ummm....

You realize that Christ the Man should not be a different individual from the Word in the first place, right?
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« Reply #55 on: August 08, 2009, 05:20:35 PM »

Yes, of course. I was saying that NESTORIUS' theology could be explained this way.

I am not Nestorian. I believe Christ is ONE. The Word become flesh, human and Divine, but one Hypostasis.
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« Reply #56 on: August 08, 2009, 11:31:28 PM »


Yes, of course. I was saying that NESTORIUS' theology could be explained this way.

I am not Nestorian. I believe Christ is ONE. The Word become flesh, human and Divine, but one Hypostasis.

Cool.
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« Reply #57 on: August 13, 2009, 03:37:44 AM »

Quote
What I want to know is if the ACE believes that the parsopa of Christ existed before the Incarnation or if it is merely a product of the the Word and Man?

I'm back for one post.  I'm in the process of looking for a teaching position at some university or high school, so I will be very busy and generally unavailable at posting much until such time as I am settled down and established in my early career.

Anyways, here is a response to deusveritasest's question:

The Parsopa of Christ is the Union of the Son/Word and Man (the particular human body and human soul that was created and assumed at conception).  When speaking in Aramaic, the term Parsopa is not used in the Holy Trinity, rather, the Son/Word pre-existed from all eternity as the Second Qnoma of the Holy Trinity.  Qnoma is the term that is used to individuate or differentiate the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the Holy Trinity.

God bless,

Rony
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« Reply #58 on: August 13, 2009, 06:40:45 PM »

So then the humanity is in no way identified as being that of a personhood or self that existed before the Incarnation?
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« Reply #59 on: August 21, 2009, 11:55:52 PM »

Quote
So then the humanity is in no way identified as being that of a personhood or self that existed before the Incarnation?

deusveritasest,

If I'm understanding the question correctly, are you basically asking if the Son was a Person prior to the Incarnation, and that the Humanity belonged to this Person?

The way I would answer is that He who assumed the particular human body and human soul is the Son who existed prior to the Incarnation.  The Humanity belongs to the Son.  The Son assumed and united to Himself the human body and soul.  In English, it is ok to say that the Son is a Person prior to the Incarnation, as the Common Christological Declaration does so:

"The Word of God, second Person of the Holy Trinity, became incarnate by the power of the Holy Spirit in assuming from the holy Virgin Mary a body animated by a rational soul, with which he was indissolubly united from the moment of his conception."

It is ok in English to do this (Second Person of the Holy Trinity) because there is no English term directly equivalent to Qnoma (as this term is understood in the Church of the East), and so this is the best that can be done in English for the Trinity.  In Aramaic, however, which is much more theologically important for us as Aramaic Christians, we do not use the specific Aramaic term of Parsopa in the Trinity, because for us Parsopa exists in the Material realm.  We do not say three Parsope, because the Father and the Holy Spirit were not incarnated in the Material realm and did not assume Matter, but the Son did.  The Son assumed Matter, a Human Body, that was fashioned from the Virgin Mary, a Body that was animated by a rational Human Soul, and was united to Him.  The Son, in the incarnation, has entered the Material realm, and so this is how we understand Parsopa, the Union of the Son and Man.

God bless,

Rony
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« Reply #60 on: August 22, 2009, 12:39:23 AM »

I believe Christ is ONE.

How many 'natures' would you say that He has?
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« Reply #61 on: August 28, 2009, 08:07:17 PM »

I believe Christ is ONE.

How many 'natures' would you say that He has?

Do we have to open up that old can of worms?

Given the seeming variation as to what we mean by "nature", is it even helpful to attempt to have a conversation about how many natures Christ has?

Why not discuss how many ousia Christ has, for instance?
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« Reply #62 on: August 28, 2009, 08:20:54 PM »

Quote
So then the humanity is in no way identified as being that of a personhood or self that existed before the Incarnation?

deusveritasest,

If I'm understanding the question correctly, are you basically asking if the Son was a Person prior to the Incarnation, and that the Humanity belonged to this Person?

The way I would answer is that He who assumed the particular human body and human soul is the Son who existed prior to the Incarnation.  The Humanity belongs to the Son.  The Son assumed and united to Himself the human body and soul.  In English, it is ok to say that the Son is a Person prior to the Incarnation, as the Common Christological Declaration does so:

"The Word of God, second Person of the Holy Trinity, became incarnate by the power of the Holy Spirit in assuming from the holy Virgin Mary a body animated by a rational soul, with which he was indissolubly united from the moment of his conception."

It is ok in English to do this (Second Person of the Holy Trinity) because there is no English term directly equivalent to Qnoma (as this term is understood in the Church of the East), and so this is the best that can be done in English for the Trinity.  In Aramaic, however, which is much more theologically important for us as Aramaic Christians, we do not use the specific Aramaic term of Parsopa in the Trinity, because for us Parsopa exists in the Material realm.  We do not say three Parsope, because the Father and the Holy Spirit were not incarnated in the Material realm and did not assume Matter, but the Son did.  The Son assumed Matter, a Human Body, that was fashioned from the Virgin Mary, a Body that was animated by a rational Human Soul, and was united to Him.  The Son, in the incarnation, has entered the Material realm, and so this is how we understand Parsopa, the Union of the Son and Man.

God bless,

Rony

OK. Well the way that you phrase it in English sounds orthodox. But I want to know more about the Syriac. Would a Syriac Christian ever say that the eternal Qnoma of the Word assumed a humany body and soul?
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« Reply #63 on: September 07, 2009, 06:24:56 AM »

OK. Well the way that you phrase it in English sounds orthodox. But I want to know more about the Syriac. Would a Syriac Christian ever say that the eternal Qnoma of the Word assumed a humany body and soul?

Well that is what Rony said, as I understand it:

The way I would answer is that He who assumed the particular human body and human soul is the Son who existed prior to the Incarnation.  The Humanity belongs to the Son.  The Son assumed and united to Himself the human body and soul.

So yes they do say that the eternal Qnuma of the Word assumed a human body and soul. But the question is what do you mean by assumed? And how does it compare to their understanding of assumed? St. John wrote that the Word (Logos/Miltha) "became flesh", how do you understand this statement? And how do they? Is their understanding different? If so, why? What factors contribute to the difference?

Also you guys may or may not know but the ACE Peshitta text is not identical to the SOC version. And I don't just mean the exclusion of the Pericope Adulterae and 2 Peter, 2 John, 3 John, Jude & Revelation. There are two notable verses in the ACE text which read very differently to those in the SOC text and other NT texts:



Acts 20:28

...to shepherd the church of the Lord and God which he purchased with his own blood. (Byzantine Majority Text, World English Bible)

...to rule the Church of God, which he has purchased by his own blood. (Latin Vulgate, Catholic Public Domain Version)

...that ye feed the church of God, which he hath acquired by his blood. (SOC Peshitta, James Murdock)

...to pasture the church of the Meshiha which he hath purchased with his blood. (ACE Peshitta, John Wesley Etheridge)



Hebrews 2:9

...that by the grace of God he should taste of death for everyone. (Byzantine Majority Text, World English Bible)

...in order that, by the grace of God, he might taste death for all. (Latin Vulgate, Catholic Public Domain Version)

...for God himself, in his grace, tasted death for all men. (SOC Peshitta, James Murdock)

...for he, apart from God, tasted death for every man. (ACE Peshitta, Andrew Gabriel Roth)



Make of it what you will, I guess.


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« Reply #64 on: September 07, 2009, 08:34:27 AM »

Another thing that should be noted. The SOC understanding of Qnuma (Qnomo) differs from the ACE understanding, as Professor Sebastian Brock explained during the 1994 Pro-Oriente dialogues:

Quote from: Professor Sebastian Brock
"First of all (and this goes without saying), we need to try to understand what writers actually meant by the technical terms they use, rather than rely on what their opponents claimed they meant.....in this context, both the Syriac (Aramaic) terminology, and the understanding of that terminology, in the Church of the East can be described as both archaic and conservative."

"I conclude by looking at two sets of specific example....both are cases where the language used by the Church of the East could best be described as archaic.....we are dealing with imagery which was once widespread and which is still preserved in the Church of the East after it had been for the most part dropped by everyone else in the course of the fifth century controversies."

"It is essentially this (the archaic) understanding of kyana that is retained in the Church of the East.....by contrast, later fifth- and sixth-century Syrian Orthodox writers understand kyana as virtually a synonym with hypostasis.....significantly, in Syriac Orthodox translations of the later fifth and of the sixth century, the older rendering...is replaced by various other translations, thus removing the (now archaic) association of kyana with ousia."

"At the outset I would suggest that....it is important to retain the Syriac term (Qnoma), and not retrovert it into hypostasis (let alone translate it as "person", as has occasionally been done)."

"In many cases...the tradition of the Church of the East will be found to have preserved images and metaphors of the incarnation which were once widely current, but which writers in other Syriac traditions had subsequently dropped, either on grounds of their perceived inadequacy, or because they were thought to lend support to the position of their theological opponents."

"The 4th century texts seem to understand kyana very much with ousia....This meaning was kept unchanged in the East. In the 6th and 7th centuries however the Syrian Orthodox moved with the times and their understanding came close to the Western/Greek development of hypostasis/prosopon. This gave rise to most of the problems."

"The Church of the East in the Sasanian Persian Empire up to the Sixth Century and it's absence from the Councils in the Roman Empire", by Prof. Sebastian Brock, Oxford University, June 25th, 1994, Vienna Austria - presented at the First Syriac Dialogue, hosted by Pro Oriente. ISBN: 3-901188-05-3

Quote from: http://www.peshitta.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=659&start=0&st=0&sk=t&sd=a&hilit=Qnoma+definition
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« Reply #65 on: September 07, 2009, 08:19:26 PM »

If they admit that the eternal qnome of the Word assumed body and soul as His own then why do they speak two qnome, one divine and another human, after the union rather than one theanthropic qnome like the Syriac Orthodox?
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« Reply #66 on: September 08, 2009, 02:15:47 PM »

If they admit that the eternal qnome of the Word assumed body and soul as His own then why do they speak two qnome, one divine and another human, after the union rather than one theanthropic qnome like the Syriac Orthodox?

Shalom deusveritasest.

For the record, I can't call myself an expert on the ACE's Christology but I can try my best to explain what I know about it. Let's start with the ACE's official Christological statement, composed, as a hymn of praise, by Mar Babai the Great:

One is Christ the Son of God,
Worshiped by all in two kyana (natures);
In His divinity begotten of the Father,
Without beginning before all time;
In His humanity born of Mary,
In the fullness of time, in a body united;
Neither His divinity is of the kyana (nature) of the mother,
Nor His humanity of the kyana (nature) of the Father;
The kayane (natures) are preserved in their qnume*,
In one parsopa (person) of one Sonship.
And as the Godhead is three qnume in one kayana (nature),
Likewise the Sonship of the Son is in two kayane (natures), one parsopa (person).
So the Holy Church has taught.
   
   
*qnuma (plural qnume) is an Aramaic word with no direct cognate in English or any other language. The very concept of qnuma is unique to the Aramaic language alone.

Leaving aside qnuma for a moment, what is your opinion on the ACE's Christology?


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« Reply #67 on: September 08, 2009, 02:34:36 PM »

I say that this hymn is totally and fully Orthodox. Another witness of how our churches broke away by error, and not by questions of faith.

In Christ,  Alex

PS: Thanks for it, Nazarene, it's a wonderful christological statement!
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« Reply #68 on: September 08, 2009, 02:39:32 PM »

I must add that evidently the Assyrians never correctly understood the extent of Nestorius' errors (and most of them still don't), so they error is an incomprehension. It is evident from this hymn that they consider Jesus as two natures united in one person, the one Christ we worship as Son of God in the flesh.

In Christ,   Alex
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« Reply #69 on: September 08, 2009, 05:01:00 PM »

The trouble is that the hymn can be understood in an entirely heretical and Theodorean manner.

Theodore, Theodoret and Ibas could all agree with these sentiments.

That is the problem. I am still not any clearer in my real understanding of the present ACE position.

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« Reply #70 on: September 08, 2009, 05:23:07 PM »

I say that this hymn is totally and fully Orthodox. Another witness of how our churches broke away by error, and not by questions of faith.

By "error" I assume you mean misunderstanding? In which case yes I totally agree. When you are dealing with two unrelated languages (Aramaic & Greek) coupled with completely different concepts and imagery, misunderstandings are inevitable. Unless one takes the approach Professor Sebastein Brock took - to not treat Aramaic like Greek.

I must add that evidently the Assyrians never correctly understood the extent of Nestorius' errors (and most of them still don't), so they error is an incomprehension. It is evident from this hymn that they consider Jesus as two natures united in one person, the one Christ we worship as Son of God in the flesh.

In Christ,   Alex

To be honest, I'm new to the history of the Christological contraversies, I don't consider myself qualified to comment on the writings of Nestorius, Cyril, or the Greek Fathers, so I'll leave that for others here who are. What I do know is what my Assyrian friends have told me:

1. They do not believe in "2 persons in Jesus Christ" and never have.
2. They do not consider themselves "Nestorian" and resent being labled Nestorian, for among other reasons, they claim that their church pre-dates Nestorius.
3. Under no circumstances is the Aramaic word qnuma ever to be translated or even understood as "person", no execptions.
4. The very concept of "person" does not even exist in ancient Aramaic, this is why the Aramaic word parsopa is borrowed from the Greek word prosopon. Remember that Prof. Brock stated that the ACE has retained the archaic terminology and imagery, while the SOC did not. And BTW the concept of "person" doesn't exist in ancient Hebrew either.

And so I would like to, at least for the moment, concentrate on the ACE Christological belief itself, by first analysizing it by means of their language. I'll be more than happy to try to explain qnuma, as this seems to be at the center of the contraversy, but I can't guarentee that I'll be able to do a better job than Rony. I will say this much, not only is it extremely difficult to explain in English (as the concept doesn't exist in English!), Assyrians themselves often struggle to explain it even in their own language:

Quote from: Paul Younan
Prof. Brock is as white as you can get. And he isn't a member of my church, either. But he has a perfect understanding of this concept - more so, I dare say, than most of the priests in the Church of the East whose sermons on this topic I have listened to in frustration.

Paul Younan is a Shamasha (Deacon) in the ACE who runs the website www.peshitta.org. He's an Assyrian who speaks this language everyday and is well versed in the Peshitta. This quote is in response to a Prostestant Minister, who thought he knew better, and evidently holds "Eutychian" views of the Incarnation. The quote is from a thread of Mr. Younan's discussion forum, and I highly recommend that everyone who wants an understanding of qnuma reads the entire thread: http://www.peshitta.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=659&start=0&st=0&sk=t&sd=a&hilit=Qnoma+definition.

The trouble is that the hymn can be understood in an entirely heretical and Theodorean manner.

Theodore, Theodoret and Ibas could all agree with these sentiments.

That is the problem. I am still not any clearer in my real understanding of the present ACE position.

Father Peter

Read the thread from peshitta.org and let me know what you think. We can proceed from there.
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« Reply #71 on: September 08, 2009, 08:22:58 PM »

To me, arguing over the different words has never been useful, as different traditions use the words differently.  What is useful is seeing what a Church actually believes.  One gets a better idea as to what a Church really believes by seeing what a Church is willing to say about the Incarnate Word of God.

Both the OO's and EO's will say that One of the Trinity suffered in the flesh.  The Church of the East won't say that.  I think they prefer to say that One of the Trinity became man, and that the man suffered.  There is the same issue with calling the Virgin Mary "Mother of God."  The OO's and EO's have no problem with saying that the Word of God was born of the Virgin Mary, and that she is therefore truly the Mother of God.  The Church of the East prefers (if I understand them correctly) to say that Christ was born of the Virgin Mary, and that she is the Mother of Christ.

It may sound like a small difference in language, but it is more than that.  The issue comes down to how much separation we believe there is between Christ's divinity and humanity.  Thus even though our Churches all use language differently, it can be said that the OO's and EO's believe basically the same thing about Christ, but the Church of the East is different.
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« Reply #72 on: September 08, 2009, 08:29:33 PM »

I must add that evidently the Assyrians never correctly understood the extent of Nestorius' errors (and most of them still don't),

I don't think you give the Assyrians enough credit.  I think they will tell you they understand him better than we do, as he is a saint in their Church.  Their Church's Christology is Theodorean.  Nestorius was a Theodorean.  Babai the Great relied on the writings of Theodore in formulating his Christology.  Their language today may be more subtle than it was during the time of Nestorius, but their Christology is the same.
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« Reply #73 on: September 08, 2009, 08:35:21 PM »

The intriguing thing about it all is that Arabic-speaking Christians of whatever faction use the Arabic cognate of qnoma/qnomo to refer to hypostasis, Arabic Uqnoum: as we say, Ilaahun waahidun fee thalaathati aqaaneem, 'one God in three Hypostases'.  Our word for person, shakhs, is distinct from this and used when referring to the two natures ('nature' being tabee`a), and so we say tabee`atayn fee shakhsis-Say'yid il-Maseeh, 'two natures in the Person of the Master Christ'.  The Arabic cognate of kyaana could be kaa'in, kayaan, kaynouna, etc., generally conveying being, entity, or one's self (i.e. nature in Aramaic?) as the general meaning.  We would speak of one Kaa'in (being) fee thalaathati aqaneem, in three Hypostases, and of tabee`atayn, two natures, fee shakhsil-Maseeh, in the Person of Christ.
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« Reply #74 on: September 08, 2009, 11:15:22 PM »


Leaving aside qnuma for a moment, what is your opinion on the ACE's Christology?

I don't really have a solid judgment one way or another. But a lot of what I hear about the Christology of the ACE sounds like it has not been properly protected from the Christology of Theodore of Mopsuestia. It seems like they have a highly different understanding of what a person or self is in general. For example, one expert of Syriac claimed that a differentiation in qnome isn't even enough to establish a differentiation in person. In both Greek and English this is not understood to be the same case. The three hypostases of the Trinity are understood to each be their own prosopon. In English, if we think of each of the three as individuated instances of the one divinity, we also understand each of these individuations to be individually personal. As such, I have often seen ACE Syriac speakers speak of three qnome in the Trinity, but not willing to admit that there are three parsopa, using that term only in reference to the oneness of Jesus Christ. This is my major problem with the way the ACE phrases their Christology, is that there is seemingly no identification of the Man Jesus with God the Word. There is no level at which they are one. They are two distinct kyana and two distinct qnome, only sharing on parsopa, leaving no identification. It seems the EO and OO are capable of doing this when speaking of one theanthropic hypostasis. But I'm left not seeing any solid evidence that they do not adhere to the Christology of Theodore of Mopsuestia. Perhaps if they were willing to admit that each of the three qnome of the Trinity possesses its own parsopa, and that the parsopa of Christ is the same parsopa as that eternally possessed by the qnome of the Word I would be more willing to consider that maybe they are orthodox.
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« Reply #75 on: September 09, 2009, 12:11:24 AM »

Quote
So then the humanity is in no way identified as being that of a personhood or self that existed before the Incarnation?

deusveritasest,

It is ok in English to do this (Second Person of the Holy Trinity) because there is no English term directly equivalent to Qnoma (as this term is understood in the Church of the East), and so this is the best that can be done in English for the Trinity.  In Aramaic, however, which is much more theologically important for us as Aramaic Christians, we do not use the specific Aramaic term of Parsopa in the Trinity, because for us Parsopa exists in the Material realm.  We do not say three Parsope, because the Father and the Holy Spirit were not incarnated in the Material realm and did not assume Matter, but the Son did.  The Son assumed Matter, a Human Body, that was fashioned from the Virgin Mary, a Body that was animated by a rational Human Soul, and was united to Him.  The Son, in the incarnation, has entered the Material realm, and so this is how we understand Parsopa, the Union of the Son and Man.

God bless,

Rony

Qnuma, to me, is similar to the Arabic word "Shaqes".

Anyway, as a layperson and a Syriac Christian I would urge all (esp. our our clergy who are the leaders of their respective congregations) to find common ground and ways to unite as opposed to finding differences.  I can tell you that lay people mostly don't understand the subtlety of the language that caused the Schism between the Syriac Churches (and orthodoxy as well).  As evidenced here, even some very theologically thoughtful people find it difficult to grasp.  Chalcedon was a very destructive event for the Syriac church as it caused its division into 3 branches. 
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« Reply #76 on: September 09, 2009, 03:29:39 PM »

To me, arguing over the different words has never been useful, as different traditions use the words differently.

But the question is why are the words understood differently, most Assyrians I know would like the other churches to take this into consideration. It is possible to do this without arguing, but it requires what Prof. Brock did, putting aside all pre-conceived notions and listening to the ACE explain their beliefs in the own words and their own terminology, while continually asking "what do you mean/please clarify?" and so on.

What is useful is seeing what a Church actually believes.  One gets a better idea as to what a Church really believes by seeing what a Church is willing to say about the Incarnate Word of God.

I agree but it doesn't explain why they believe what they state, it doesn't tell us what factors contributed to their conclusions. Nestorius and Theodore's writings fit in somewhere for sure, but does that necessarily mean that their writings made the greatest contribution? From the impression I get from my friends, no, when they explain their Christological beliefs to me, they don't quote Nestorius or Theodore, they quote the Peshitta.

Both the OO's and EO's will say that One of the Trinity suffered in the flesh.  The Church of the East won't say that.  I think they prefer to say that One of the Trinity became man, and that the man suffered.  There is the same issue with calling the Virgin Mary "Mother of God."  The OO's and EO's have no problem with saying that the Word of God was born of the Virgin Mary, and that she is therefore truly the Mother of God.  The Church of the East prefers (if I understand them correctly) to say that Christ was born of the Virgin Mary, and that she is the Mother of Christ.

Yes, but there is much more to this, the issue runs deep into their cultural mindset, which is very different from the Greek cultural mindset, but is very similar to the Jewish cultural mindset. The imagery associated with divinity and humanity in ancient Hebraic thought is very different to those which are associated in Greek thought. I'm not a qualified theologian or a professor of linguistics, but from what I have learnt about the ACE's theology concerning the Godhead and the Incarnation, I've seen that it has very little in common with Greek philosophy but tons in common with Jewish mystism.

It may sound like a small difference in language, but it is more than that. The issue comes down to how much separation we believe there is between Christ's divinity and humanity.  Thus even though our Churches all use language differently, it can be said that the OO's and EO's believe basically the same thing about Christ, but the Church of the East is different.

Yes the Church of the East is different, but does different always mean wrong, or does different sometimes just mean different? I don't think the issue is separation but rather distinction. Yes the Assyrians go to great lengths to distinguish between what's human and what is divine, and everything associated with those two concepts. But what you may not know is that this same mentality of distinguishing humanity and divinty which borders on, and often crosses over into, paranoia, is found among Jews as well. This leads me to believe that the majority of the early Christians east of the Eurphrates were converts from Judaism. And there's a book about this too, which is worth a read: Nestorians or the Lost Tribes?

I must add that evidently the Assyrians never correctly understood the extent of Nestorius' errors (and most of them still don't),

I don't think you give the Assyrians enough credit.  I think they will tell you they understand him better than we do, as he is a saint in their Church.  Their Church's Christology is Theodorean.  Nestorius was a Theodorean.  Babai the Great relied on the writings of Theodore in formulating his Christology.  Their language today may be more subtle than it was during the time of Nestorius, but their Christology is the same.

Their theological terminology today is the same as it was even before Nestorius, Prof. Brock has made it clear that it was the SOC who changed their terminology while the ACE never changed theirs.


Leaving aside qnuma for a moment, what is your opinion on the ACE's Christology?

I don't really have a solid judgment one way or another. But a lot of what I hear about the Christology of the ACE sounds like it has not been properly protected from the Christology of Theodore of Mopsuestia.

I haven't studied Theodore or Nestorius' writings in depth, I will but I want deal with the ACE's actual Aramaic terminology first, only then (I think) will I be able to determine why the ACE regards their writings as Orthodox. Misunderstanding on their part perhaps? I don't know, I'll deal with it when I get there.

It seems like they have a highly different understanding of what a person or self is in general.

Yes indeed they do.

For example, one expert of Syriac claimed that a differentiation in qnome isn't even enough to establish a differentiation in person.

I'm not sure if I'm understanding this. Do you have a quote handy or can you elaborate?

In both Greek and English this is not understood to be the same case. The three hypostases of the Trinity are understood to each be their own prosopon. In English, if we think of each of the three as individuated instances of the one divinity, we also understand each of these individuations to be individually personal. As such, I have often seen ACE Syriac speakers speak of three qnome in the Trinity, but not willing to admit that there are three parsopa, using that term only in reference to the oneness of Jesus Christ.

Here's the thing, in Hebraic thought (which the ACE seem to have inherited) to describe the Godhead as consisting of "persons" or that the 3 Qnume of YHWH are "distinct personalities" is to turn the Godhead into 3 different gods! I'm dead serious, tell an Orthodox Jew that you believe in "3 persons in 1 God" and he will interpret that to mean that you believe in 3 gods, whether he tells you that to your face or not. I'm sorry, but while it's possible to do this in English or Greek without being idolatrous it's not possible in Hebrew or Aramaic, that is the truth. This is why Rony said "it's okay in English but not in Aramaic". Actually if you search the Hebrew Tanakh you will find no Hebrew cognate for prosopon, the closest word you'll find is panim which means "face" (if I'm correct this is the basic meaning of prosopon). Tell a Rabbi that Elohim has "3 panim" and he'll probably go balistic! This is why the ACE (and Nazarenes) can't apply parsopa to the Trinity, for us that means we are commiting idolatry, that's just the way it is. For us parsopa can only ever be associated with the material realm (as Rony already explained), never with spiritual realm otherwise YHWH Elohim becomes just another false god like Zeus created in the image of man.

But just because YHWH is not a "person" or the 3 Qnume are not "persons" it does not mean that they are impersonal. Paul Younan once explained this quite well on his forum in response to Malankara Syrian Orthodox Christian:

Quote from: Paul Younan
Quote from: Spyridon
If God is not a person, does that mean He is impersonal?

God is God, we are persons. In Aramaic, the word "person" is attributed to a human nature. Human beings are persons. (We don't speak of individual dogs, cats or pet goldfish in a bowl as "persons", either.)

I'm not sure what you mean by "impersonal"? "Impersonal" as an adjective could describe an entity that isn't alive, does not feel emotions, is unknowable, lacks the ability to communicate or lacks "personality." Kind of like a dead or inanimate object, like a rock.

God lives, God is and God is knowable. God loves. God creates. God heals. God speaks. God saves.

We can certainly observe things within God's Nature, certain aspects of His Being that are familiar to our human experience. Certainly, we are created in His Image, so we might expect that we have certain things in our individual person that reflect certain aspects of our Creator. Is that what you mean by "personal?"

I do not think of God as a "person" or "three persons", but if I were forced to assign a label in English I would utilize a word like Being - that is the essence of the name YHWH in Hebrew.

+Shamasha

Quote from: http://www.peshitta.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=1715&p=10415#p10415

See the differences are linguistic and cultural.

This is my major problem with the way the ACE phrases their Christology, is that there is seemingly no identification of the Man Jesus with God the Word. There is no level at which they are one. They are two distinct kyana and two distinct qnome, only sharing on parsopa, leaving no identification. It seems the EO and OO are capable of doing this when speaking of one theanthropic hypostasis. But I'm left not seeing any solid evidence that they do not adhere to the Christology of Theodore of Mopsuestia. Perhaps if they were willing to admit that each of the three qnome of the Trinity possesses its own parsopa, and that the parsopa of Christ is the same parsopa as that eternally possessed by the qnome of the Word I would be more willing to consider that maybe they are orthodox.

Can you give me a more thorough explanation on Orthodox Churche's definition of the Incarantion - that being when St. John wrote that the Logos "became flesh", what exactly do you mean by that? I'd rather read an explanation by an Orthodox Christian before I attempt to answer this.

Qnuma, to me, is similar to the Arabic word "Shaqes".

Well I can understand why that is, but Prof. Brock has already documented that the SOC definition of qnuma evolved but the ACE's has retained the original meaning, and the SOC representitives who were present at that particular dialogue acknowledged this fact. In any case, what matters is that the ACE's definition of qnuma is not the same as the SOC's.

Anyway, as a layperson and a Syriac Christian I would urge all (esp. our our clergy who are the leaders of their respective congregations) to find common ground and ways to unite as opposed to finding differences.

I agree with you here, and I do believe that common ground can be found. But where differences are concerned, I'm afraid I don't think they can be ignored in this case, but common ground can be found by understanding the differences. The RCC and the ACE have already acheived this.

I can tell you that lay people mostly don't understand the subtlety of the language that caused the Schism between the Syriac Churches (and orthodoxy as well).  As evidenced here, even some very theologically thoughtful people find it difficult to grasp.  Chalcedon was a very destructive event for the Syriac church as it caused its division into 3 branches.

Yes that is so true.

The intriguing thing about it all is that Arabic-speaking Christians of whatever faction use the Arabic cognate of qnoma/qnomo to refer to hypostasis, Arabic Uqnoum: as we say, Ilaahun waahidun fee thalaathati aqaaneem, 'one God in three Hypostases'.  Our word for person, shakhs, is distinct from this and used when referring to the two natures ('nature' being tabee`a), and so we say tabee`atayn fee shakhsis-Say'yid il-Maseeh, 'two natures in the Person of the Master Christ'.  The Arabic cognate of kyaana could be kaa'in, kayaan, kaynouna, etc., generally conveying being, entity, or one's self (i.e. nature in Aramaic?) as the general meaning.  We would speak of one Kaa'in (being) fee thalaathati aqaneem, in three Hypostases, and of tabee`atayn, two natures, fee shakhsil-Maseeh, in the Person of Christ.

Interesting. Any idea how qnuma entered the Arabic language? I'm only asking because according to Brock and other Aramaic experts, there no cognate for qnuma in any language, not even Hebrew which is closer to Aramaic than Arabic. The original meaning of qnuma, which Brock states the ACE has retained, is similar to hypostasis but not an exact match. If Brock is correct then uqnoum would be a loan word from Aramaic much like parsopa is a loan word from Greek, but not all the imagery within qnuma was retained. Still I'm interested in any info you can give me.
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« Reply #77 on: September 09, 2009, 08:49:42 PM »

It may sound like a small difference in language, but it is more than that. The issue comes down to how much separation we believe there is between Christ's divinity and humanity.  Thus even though our Churches all use language differently, it can be said that the OO's and EO's believe basically the same thing about Christ, but the Church of the East is different.

...Yes the Assyrians go to great lengths to distinguish between what's human and what is divine, and everything associated with those two concepts. But what you may not know is that this same mentality of distinguishing humanity and divinty which borders on, and often crosses over into, paranoia, is found among Jews as well...

That is why Judaism is a different religion from Christianity and the Christology of the Church of the East is considered heretical to other Christians. 

Yet it is not impossible for those of a Syriac/Semetic background to accept the incarnation and the concept that humanity and divinity were perfectly united in Christ.  Our Syriac Orthodox brothers--and others who come from such a background who have accepted mainstream Christianity--are proof of that.
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« Reply #78 on: September 09, 2009, 08:52:00 PM »

Nazarene,

I'm getting the feeling that the Christology of the group you belong to is basically the same as that of the Church of the East.  Is that an accurate understanding?
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« Reply #79 on: September 10, 2009, 06:28:58 AM »

I'm back for just a little bit.  Smiley

Quote
OK. Well the way that you phrase it in English sounds orthodox. But I want to know more about the Syriac. Would a Syriac Christian ever say that the eternal Qnoma of the Word assumed a humany body and soul?

deusveritasest,

A Christian of the Church of the East, when speaking in Syriac-Aramaic, has no problem saying that the eternal Qnoma of the Word assumed a human body and soul.  Though, since Qnoma is understood as an individuated nature, then it is best to ascribe the action directly to the Word or the Son.  In other words, for us, it is best to say the following:

The Word or Son assumed and united to His Divine Qnoma (The second individuation of God's one Divine Nature) a human body and soul.

Quote
If they admit that the eternal qnome of the Word assumed body and soul as His own then why do they speak two qnome, one divine and another human, after the union rather than one theanthropic qnome like the Syriac Orthodox?

We speak of two Qnome, because after the Incarnation, the Word or Son has indissolubly but without confusion united an individuated Human Nature (Human Qnoma) to His individuated Divine Nature (Divine Qnoma). The Son united to His Divine Qnoma not all of Mankind, but rather, one Human Qnoma of Mankind, that is, a particular Body with a particular set of genes taken from the Virgin Mary and a particular Soul.  For us, because of our specific and archaic definition of Qnoma, to say that after the Incarnation there is but one Qnoma in Christ becomes rather confusing, because it leads to two conclusions:

1. Either the Divine Qnoma has been destroyed and all you have is the Human Qnoma, resulting in a mere man; or the Human Qnoma has been destroyed, and all you have is the Divine Qnoma, resulting in the Son being without a Human Body and Human Soul.

Or

2. The Divine Qnoma and Human Qnoma have resulted in a confusion, a sort of Person that is Half God and Half Man.


Now, because the Syriac Orthodox do not define Qnoma in the same way that we do, then they do not fall into the two conclusions above.  For them, their specific definition of Qnomo allows them to say one Qnomo in Christ, much like the specific definition of Hypostasis among the Greek-speakers allows them to say one Hypostasis in Christ.  For us, our ancient definition of Qnoma does not allow us to say one Qnoma in Christ, without falling into the above two conclusions.

You see, the Syriac-speakers in the Roman Empire equated their definition of Qnomo with the definition of Hypostasis among the Greek-speakers.  We, however, in the Church of the East, which was outside the Roman Empire and in the Persian Empire, kept an older definition of Qnoma, one that does not equate well with the Qnomo of the Syriac Orthodox or the Hypostasis of the Greeks.

God bless,

Rony
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« Reply #80 on: September 10, 2009, 08:12:34 AM »

Quote
Both the OO's and EO's will say that One of the Trinity suffered in the flesh.  The Church of the East won't say that.  I think they prefer to say that One of the Trinity became man, and that the man suffered.  There is the same issue with calling the Virgin Mary "Mother of God."  The OO's and EO's have no problem with saying that the Word of God was born of the Virgin Mary, and that she is therefore truly the Mother of God.  The Church of the East prefers (if I understand them correctly) to say that Christ was born of the Virgin Mary, and that she is the Mother of Christ.

Salpy,

I want to make clear that the Church of the East does not teach that it is a mere man who suffered for us, rather, this Person who suffered for us is the Lord Jesus Christ, the Union of the Son and Man.  When this Person, the Christ who is our God and Savior, suffered for us, His Divine Qnoma did not undergo suffering, because Divinity cannot undergo change, rather, His Human Qnoma underwent suffering, that is, His Human Body bled and His Human Soul was anguished.  This is what I meant in another thread when I said that "One of the Trinity became Man and suffered", meaning, not a mere man, but the Manhood of the One, the Manhood of the Son who assumed it and made it His own.  The way we speak of the redemption is as simply as the following:  The Lord Jesus Christ suffered and died for us.

As far as the Mother of God versus the Mother of Christ, I wrote a post about this in another forum, which you can read here (posts 20 and 21).  Here is the relevant section:

====================================================================================================
In venerating Theodore and Nestorius (and Diodore), not everything they said or wrote is worthy of veneration. I do not, for instance, venerate or find joy in Nestorius’ rejection of the phrase Theotokos. I believe this was a mistake on his behalf, and so, something that is not worthy of veneration. However, his preferred phrase of Christotokos is a non-heretical phrase in and of itself. While it might be explained in a heretical manner, like in classical Nestorianism, it can also be explained in an orthodox manner. For instance, to the Jews, it was much more effective to use the phrase Mother of Christ in evangelizing them, because the Christ or Messiah is who they were waiting for in the Old Testament. Christianity needed to tell them first and foremost that Jesus, born of Mary, was indeed the long awaited Christ, the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. Then, they could be taught on who the Messiah really was, that is, the Son of God.

In evangelizing the pagan Greeks, it was more effective to use the phrase Theotokos, because of their long history of mythological gods, and because they did not care much for a Jewish Messiah and his role in fulfilling the Mosaic Law and the Jewish Prophets. Christianity needed to tell them that the One born of Mary is God, through whom everything was made and in whom they move and have their being. This is what converts them. Now, the phrase Theotokos, while certainly an orthodox phrase in and of itself, it nevertheless might be explained in a heretical manner, such as the fact that someone can misunderstand the term God in the phrase to be a reference to the whole Trinity, thinking that the whole Trinity was born of Mary. So while it is a useful expression, a truthful expression, it still could be understood in a heretical way if not properly explained.

The ACE preference of using the phrase “Mother of Christ, our God and Savior” is more specific than the phrase “Mother of God” and “Mother of Christ”, and so brings about a greater clarity to the Christological truth, in my opinion. And since the ACE (and also us Chaldeans) come from the Jewish-Aramaic background, and not from the Greek background, then this traditional phrase is much more effective because it declares the Messianic identity and role of Jesus first, then gives us His eternal identity as our God, and finally His redemptive work for us as our Savior. Anyways, all three phrases: Mother of God, Mother of Christ, and Mother of Christ our God and Savior are allowed as orthodox expressions in the Common Christological Declaration.
===================================================================================================


Quote
It may sound like a small difference in language, but it is more than that.  The issue comes down to how much separation we believe there is between Christ's divinity and humanity.  Thus even though our Churches all use language differently, it can be said that the OO's and EO's believe basically the same thing about Christ, but the Church of the East is different.

The Church of the East teaches that there is zero separation between Christ's Divine Qnoma and His Human Qnoma.  It not permissible for Christians of the Church of the East to confess a division or separation in Christ.

I would say that all the Apostolic Christians, those in the Catholic Communion, Eastern Orthodox Communion, Oriental Orthodox Communion, and the Assyrian Church of the East, believe basically the same thing about Christ, in the meaning and essence of the Faith on Christ, but we all express the same Faith through various and different expressions and wording.  I do not believe that the various expressions are contradictory to one another, so long as each expression is understood within its own context and on its own terms.

God bless,

Rony
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« Reply #81 on: September 10, 2009, 08:52:25 AM »

Quote
That is why Judaism is a different religion from Christianity and the Christology of the Church of the East is considered heretical to other Christians.

Yet it is not impossible for those of a Syriac/Semetic background to accept the incarnation and the concept that humanity and divinity were perfectly united in Christ.  Our Syriac Orthodox brothers--and others who come from such a background who have accepted mainstream Christianity--are proof of that.

Salpy,

The Christology of the Assyrian Church of the East is no longer considered heretical to the Christians of the Catholic Communion of Churches.  The Common Christological Declaration signed between H.H. John Paul II and H.H. Mar Dinkha VI has ended the long misconceptions and misunderstanding between Catholic Christians and the Assyrian Christians on the topic.  In fact, two particular Churches in the Catholic Communion, my Chaldean Church and the Syro-Malabar Church, subscribe to the ancient Christology of the Church of the East.

We accept and confess that the Divinity and the Humanity, the Divine Son and His Human Body and Soul, were perfectly United in the one Lord Jesus Christ, true God and true Man.

God bless,

Rony
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« Reply #82 on: September 10, 2009, 12:00:02 PM »

Interesting. Any idea how qnuma entered the Arabic language? I'm only asking because according to Brock and other Aramaic experts, there no cognate for qnuma in any language, not even Hebrew which is closer to Aramaic than Arabic. The original meaning of qnuma, which Brock states the ACE has retained, is similar to hypostasis but not an exact match. If Brock is correct then uqnoum would be a loan word from Aramaic much like parsopa is a loan word from Greek, but not all the imagery within qnuma was retained. Still I'm interested in any info you can give me.

I'm afraid I do not know of how or when it appeared in the Arabic language, but I think it more probable that it is a word that has been borrowed from Aramaic.  At any rate, for us its meaning certainly corresponds more to the S.O.C.'s understanding of the Aramaic term, as we do not speak of divine and human uqnoumayn in Christ, but tabee`atayn, unless I suppose one is a member of the A.C.E. explaining his theology in Arabic--which makes we wonder whether they do in fact say uqnoumayn.

As Ronyodish is saying:

Now, because the Syriac Orthodox do not define Qnoma in the same way that we do, then they do not fall into the two conclusions above.  For them, their specific definition of Qnomo allows them to say one Qnomo in Christ, much like the specific definition of Hypostasis among the Greek-speakers allows them to say one Hypostasis in Christ.  For us, our ancient definition of Qnoma does not allow us to say one Qnoma in Christ, without falling into the above two conclusions.

You see, the Syriac-speakers in the Roman Empire equated their definition of Qnomo with the definition of Hypostasis among the Greek-speakers.  We, however, in the Church of the East, which was outside the Roman Empire and in the Persian Empire, kept an older definition of Qnoma, one that does not equate well with the Qnomo of the Syriac Orthodox or the Hypostasis of the Greeks.
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« Reply #83 on: September 10, 2009, 07:32:22 PM »

The trouble is that the hymn can be understood in an entirely heretical and Theodorean manner.

Theodore, Theodoret and Ibas could all agree with these sentiments.

That is the problem. I am still not any clearer in my real understanding of the present ACE position.

Father Peter
Heck, I'm still not clear on what their position has been at anytime in history. It seems that the ACE has the most complicated Cristolgoy out there.
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« Reply #84 on: September 10, 2009, 08:33:53 PM »

Quote
One is Christ the Son of God,
Worshiped by all in two kyana (natures);
In His divinity begotten of the Father,
Without beginning before all time;
In His humanity born of Mary,
In the fullness of time, in a body united;
Neither His divinity is of the kyana (nature) of the mother,
Nor His humanity of the kyana (nature) of the Father;
The kayane (natures) are preserved in their qnume*,
In one parsopa (person) of one Sonship.
And as the Godhead is three qnume in one kayana (nature),
Likewise the Sonship of the Son is in two kayane (natures), one parsopa (person).
So the Holy Church has taught.

For those who are unclear on the terms in the Hymn, here is some further clarification of the terms, as understood by the Assyrian-Chaldean tradition, the Churches of the East:

Kyana (plural: Kyane) is an abstract Nature.  In the case of Christ, it is: Divinity and Humanity.
Qnoma or Qnuma (plural: Qnome or Qnume) is an individuation of a Kyana, a particularization of what is abstract in Nature.  In the case of Christ, it is:  Son and His Body and Soul.
Parsopa is the Person, in the material realm.  In the case of Christ, it is: Lord Jesus Christ.

The Church of the East tradition expresses the Apostolic Faith by saying that there is:  Two Kyane (Divinity and Humanity), Two Qnome (Son and His Body and Soul), in One Parsopa (Lord Jesus Christ).

God bless,

Rony
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« Reply #85 on: September 10, 2009, 08:54:28 PM »

Rony,

Please forgive me for misrepresenting your Church's Christology.  It was not my intention to do so, and I know how hurtful it can be when someone does that (I have experienced that here plenty of times.)

I'm not a theologian and I am not qualified to really speak on these matters.  All I know is that the Fathers of my Church, and even our current Church leaders, consider your Church's Christology to be somehow different enough from our own, to prevent a union between our two Church's at this time.

It seems to me that the phrase "One of the Trinity suffered in the flesh," as well as the 12 anathemas of St. Cyril, are important to our Christology, to the point that if another Church cannot confess those things without qualification, the other Church is considered too different from us to be one with us.  I don't think it is just a matter of language, like the "two natures" vs. "one nature" debate seems to be.  I think the difference here is more substantive.  Of course, like I said, I am not qualified to judge these things.  I am just repeating what I have been taught.

I would love to see our Churches unite one day.  As our brother Leb Aryo indicated, the division caused by these Christological issues was very tragic.  The Armenians may not be of the same ethnic group as the Assyrians, but we have much in common in terms of our tragic histories, especially the Genocide of 1915.  Intermarriage is common among us, and Armenians and Assyrians where I live often commune at each other's Churches (which I am sure breaks some rules, but people in real life don't think about these things.)  I have Assyrian friends and relatives, and I was recently grieved when one of my Assyrian friends from my parish had to move back up to Turlock to be with her family.  

I am only saying all this so you know that this is not just a theoretical issue for me.  I have always thought the Christians of the East (OO, EO, ACE) would be stronger and less liable to be pushed around if we united and communed from the same cup.  However, I also believe we have to be true to our Churches and to our Church Fathers.  I am therefore reluctant to just brush away what my Church's Fathers have had to say on these matters, even though I don't completely understand all of it.

Anyway, it was not my intention to offend you in any way with my earlier posts.  Again, please forgive me for any misrepresentations I have made.   Embarrassed
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« Reply #86 on: September 10, 2009, 10:03:53 PM »

Dear Salpy,

I find you to be a wonderful Armenian Christian, and I do not consider your posts to me as offensive at all.  I find you to be faithful to your Armenian Church's Christological expression, which is a good thing, because you have the responsibility to propagate it and protect it from any misunderstandings or even heresy.  I, actually, would encourage you to continue defending the Miaphysite expression of the Apostolic Faith, this orthodox expression of your Holy Fathers and Saints of the Armenian Church.  So, therefore, I forgive you, not because you've done anything wrong to me, but because you asked for my forgiveness.  Cheesy

I do not consider your Church's Christology as heresy, because as a member of the Chaldean Catholic Church of the East, I am in full communion with Armenian Catholics, and Oriental Catholics in general, who, in the Catholic Communion of Churches, are allowed to express the Miaphysite expression of the Faith.  In the Catholic Church, we have various allowable and orthodox Christological expressions of the Apostolic Faith.  This is made possible due to the recent various Christological agreements that were signed between the Holy See in Rome and the various Fathers and Heads of the Oriental Orthodox, as well as, between Rome and the Assyrian Church of the East.

Just so you know:

I do not consider "One of the Trinity suffered in the Flesh" as heresy.
I do not consider St. Cyril's 12 anathemas as heresy.

I pray that one day, all the Apostolic Christian Churches (Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Assyrian Church of the East) will once again be in full ecclesial and canonical communion with one another, as our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, willed it and prayed to our Father in heaven about it, "that they may all be one" (John 17:21).

God bless you,

Rony
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« Reply #87 on: September 10, 2009, 10:06:55 PM »

I pray that one day, all the Apostolic Christian Churches (Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Assyrian Church of the East) will once again be in full ecclesial and canonical communion with one another, as our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, willed it and prayed to our Father in heaven about it, "that they may all be one" (John 17:21).

God bless you,

Rony

Amen.

Thank you, Rony.   Smiley
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« Reply #88 on: September 11, 2009, 01:51:03 AM »

Rony,

I would love to see our Churches unite one day.  As our brother Leb Aryo indicated, the division caused by these Christological issues was very tragic.  The Armenians may not be of the same ethnic group as the Assyrians, but we have much in common in terms of our tragic histories, especially the Genocide of 1915.  Intermarriage is common among us, and Armenians and Assyrians where I live often commune at each other's Churches (which I am sure breaks some rules, but people in real life don't think about these things.)  I have Assyrian friends and relatives, and I was recently grieved when one of my Assyrian friends from my parish had to move back up to Turlock to be with her family.  

Well said brother Salpy.  I see today in this day and age that Christianity generally and ME Christians particularly need unity much more than anything; "United we stand, divided we fall".  I don't think a more apt and true statement can\could\does apply to another group of people as to ME Christians in all their denominations.  We've divided and fell too many times.

It is my opinion, that many of these heresies and schisms were not just about theological differences but due to the political, social and sometimes power struggles of the people living in those times.  The Nestorian schism could be a good example.  I'm not going to expand further on that point because it is not my intention to offend anybody here from one side or the other.
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« Reply #89 on: September 11, 2009, 04:02:43 PM »

Dear Rony or Nazarene,

Do you have any material one can read from on your side that you can recommend?

As you may imagine, I have a biased perspective because of what I have personally read.

I do wonder though, what are your beliefs in the will or wills of Christ, your theletic beliefs?

Mina
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« Reply #90 on: September 11, 2009, 05:48:06 PM »

Shalom all,

Let me just say that I'm very happy with the manner in which this discussion has progressed - see we can talk about these things without arguing. Wink

To Salpy,

You asked me if the Christology of my sect (the Nazarenes) is the same as the ACE? Well, in answer to this question, I'd say that modern Nazarene Christology has more in common with the ACE's than any other church. Like the ACE our Christology contains no Greek terminology, Nazarenes (the term both the Fathers and Rabbis used to refer to Jewish believers in Yeshua) also have closer historical ties to the ACE than the Greco-Roman churches, most of the ancient Nazarenes were eventually absorbed into the ACE. We, modern Nazarenes have based our Christological view exclusively on Hebrew and Aramaic texts (both Biblical and extra Biblical) but we have not consulted the writings of Nestorius or Theodore.

We believe that our Saviour Yeshua the Messiah is both 100% human and 100% divine like all orthodox Christians. And we, like the ACE, confess that His 2 natures/kyane (divine & human), which are preserved within their 2 qnume (divine & human) are united into 1 person/parsopa: Yeshua the Messiah - who is both the Son of God and the Son of Man.

I in no way believe in any kind of separation within our Messiah, and neither does the ACE. The natures (and qnume) are distinct yes, but not separate. In the case of a normal human being, the body and soul is distinct but not separated as they are united in the person. I can assure you that the ACE's Christology doesn't sound as "separatist" in Aramaic as it sounds in Greek or English. The ACE and Nazarenes tend to distinguish between humanity and divinity more than other Christians, but this is due to the (often graphic) imagery associated with those concepts in Hebrew and Aramaic. It's about distinction not separation. I find that sometimes Assyrians use the wrong choice of wording, when they say that Messiah's human and divine natures are "separate" they don't mean that they are literally separate, what they mean is that they are different - distinct.

I'll be honest with you Salpy, in your creed (Miaphysitism) the distinction between Yeshua's and humanity and divinity is not as clear as I'd like it to be, BUT it is still clear enough for me to see that it's there:

Quote from: Wikipedia
Miaphysitism holds that in the one person of Jesus Christ, Divinity and Humanity are united in one "nature" ("physis"), the two being united without separation, without confusion, and without alteration.

I had some trouble wrapping my head around Miaphysite Christology until I read this excellent explanation by a Coptic Orthodox Christian:

Quote from: Kyrillos
Dear Paul,

Not only am I your newest member, but all the syriac ( or aramaic) christianity is very appealing and also new to me. It has been a couple of years since my baptism in Alexandria Egypt, so, should I say anything siding me with stupid, well I appologise in advance.

By now you know I am an oriental orthodox, yet the weird dude in my head kept asking, without deniying te LXX, where was the aramaic, for everyone kept talking about it without leting you know more. I say, if the LORD spoke aramaic after the Incarnation, then He spoke it to our fathers before I too. Since I am of the idea that hebrew is a dialect of aramaic that changed later on. Please help me out here and give me your opinion.

1.- Do you know anything regarding the conversations between the Coptic church and the Assyrian church?
2.- It seems to me that what Nestorius said and what the Church of the East say is really not the same and have different meanings. What is your take on the Bassar of Eraklites?
3.- What would you say if I told you that I found adifference between ( hebrew) yahid and ehad? and they relate to the greek monos and mya? here it goes:

monos and yahid: one as in quality and simple. Monos is also masculine.
mya and ehad : one as in from two, synthetic(?). Mya is femenine.

We oriental orthdox say one from two, that is the meaning of Tewahido in ethiopic, or St. KyrillosI ( Cyril) formula: MYA PHISIS TOU THEOU, LOGOU SESARKOMENE, ONE NATURE OF GOD, WORD INCARNATE.

Why do I bother you with this Poul, well when I read in your gospel interlinear the shema, it said something as :
SHMA H ISRIL MRIA ALHN MRIA HD HU.
I hope that the transliteration is ok. But if the aramaic is as the hebrew I mean ehad, then it talks about not a simple one, and since I always concidered this comandment to be Christological in character , then it is in Deuteronomy that I find the oldest confession of the myaphisis. What would you make of this and thank you and the guys for such an amazing page.

Maran ahta,
Kyrillos.

From: http://www.peshitta.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=798

Not bad for someone who evidently speaks broken English, eh? Smiley.

Therefore I consider you, and every other OO Christian orthodox and my brothers and sisters in Messiah Yeshua.

To all,

In end the fact is the Incarnation is an ineffable mystery. That said what matters to me is that we all agree that Messiah is both 100% God and 100% Man. The terminology may differ from church to church, but as long you don't deny one of Messiah's natures (like the Jehovah's Witnesses), or believe He is a 50% human 50% divine dying dem-god like Tammuz (like Eutyches), then for me you are orthodox.

While no one has called me a heretic before, I would also find being called or thought of as a heretic just as hurtful as anyone else here, but I also know that I can't make everybody happy. I've met plenty of Christians who are willing to make an effort to try to understand my beliefs from my own way of thinking and my own terminology; but I've also met equally as many who flat out refuse to and try to forcefully impose theirs onto me.

St. Paul, St. James and the rest of the Apostles were very much opposed to "forced Judaization" and I am equally opposed to this. BUT that also means that I'm just as opposed to forced Hellenization, Latinization, Aramization, Arabization, Anglonization, Americanization, ect., etc., etc.

We can't change the past, yes it's beneficial know what happened in the past but what matters is what we can do today. What we have to work with may not always be ideal but we must strive to do the best we can with what we have.

As long as we are willing to ask and listen instead of assume, I believe more schisms can be healed.
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« Reply #91 on: September 11, 2009, 09:40:44 PM »

Quote
Dear Rony or Nazarene,

Do you have any material one can read from on your side that you can recommend?

As you may imagine, I have a biased perspective because of what I have personally read.

Dear Mina,

I wish we Assyrian-Chaldean Catholics had a particular catechism in English that I can recommend to you for reading, one which would explain the Assyrian-Chaldean tradition, but as of yet we do not have one.  However, the Assyrian Christians of the Assyrian Church of the East have come up with a catechism of their own in English, and it is available online:  http://www.acoeyouth.org/Learn/catechism/cat.html

If you can afford to buy a book, I would highly recommend:  The Church of the East by H.G. Bishop Mar Bawai Soro.

Quote
I do wonder though, what are your beliefs in the will or wills of Christ, your theletic beliefs?

Two Wills in Union, distinct, but not divided or separated.  The Divine Will and Human Will are everlastingly and perfectly United in the One Person of the Lord Jesus Christ.

God bless,

Rony
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« Reply #92 on: September 11, 2009, 10:50:28 PM »

Thanks, Rony, for the link to the catechism.

After initially skimming through it, though, there was something that caught my eye, which raised some questions:

34)   What names, other than the Perpetual Virgin Mother, are the possession of St Mary?
We have named her with these titles:   The Mother of Christ, The Mother of our Lord, The Second Heaven, The Mother of The Church, The Daughter of Zion, The Burning Bush, The Mother of Immanuel, The New Ark of the Covenant, The Second Ark, The Second Eve, etc. In the Prophets it is written: “ . . . therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign, behold, a Virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and they shall call His Name Emmanuel . .”  (Isaiah 7:14) “ . . . and she shall bring forth a Son, and Thou shall call His Name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sin. . .”  (Matthew 1:21) Then, again, Elizabeth states: “ . . . whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord shall come to me?”  (Luke 1:43) In the Church of the East we recognize her as bearing and bringing forth Him who is God with us; however, we prefer to say: “Mother of Christ, perfect God and perfect man.. .”
 
35)   In what sense can we recognize or acknowledge certain theological terminology used by our beloved sister apostolic churches who will address The Ever Virgin Mary as “The Mother of God”??

The Orthodox position will declare this: The Blessed Mother did not give birth to His Godhead, which is from eternal; but rather she had given birth to His manhood, at the end of time, still it is right to be called “the Mother of God,” why?  Because He who is born of her is at once God and Man.  By way of example: The mother of the President of the United States did not give birth to his presidency, she gave birth to the man; and indeed we call her the mother of the President; and again, the Catholicos Patriarch of the East received his office from The Church, and not from his mother who bore him, and we do call her the mother of the Patriarch.


I don't know why, but the last statement, about the President and the Catholicos Patriarch seemed a bit "odd" to me, for lack of a better word.  Does this represent the thought of the Church of the East regarding the Incarnation, or is it just a poor choice of words?  Is the catechism suggesting that the relationship between Christ's divinity and humanity is like the relationship between Barak Obama and his Presidency, or the man who is the Catholicos Patriarch and his office?

I just don't feel that my Church would be comfortable with this.  Would other Churches be comfortable with this?  Would the EO's be OK with this statement?  I know the Catholics signed a joint statement with the Church of the East, but would the Catholics really be comfortable with this?

Or am I just over-analyzing?  I'm probably just over-thinking this, or I don't understand it.  It's just that it reminds me of something I read a while back about someone (I can't recall who now) comparing the relationship between Christ's divinity and humanity to the Emperor and his robe, or something.  Do others know the statement which I am thinking of?  My brain has been like a sieve lately.   Smiley

Anyway, I'd like feedback as to whether or not I am overreacting to this.   Smiley
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« Reply #93 on: September 12, 2009, 01:00:44 AM »


Anyway, I'd like feedback as to whether or not I am overreacting to this.   Smiley


Salpy, there are small differences in the way  the Virgin Mary is viewed in the Assyrian Church of the East and the other Syriac churches.  As an example, the Assyrian Church of the East names its churches after the Virgin Mary as so; "mart maryam" in Syriac or "Lady or Lord(F) Maryam" while the Syriac Orthodox church uses the term yeldath aloho or "god bearer". The view on the Virgin Mary is slightly different I feel but it's not an issue for me at all, and I don't believe it should be an issue that needs to be exaggerated.  If the Virgin Mary wasn't venerated the ACE wouldn't name its churches after the Virgin Mary would it? 
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« Reply #94 on: September 12, 2009, 01:04:37 AM »

I'm not questioning their veneration of St. Mary.  It is rather how the catechism seemed to be describing the relationship between the Lord's divinity and humanity.  I think our Church sees the union between the two as different than the union between Obama and the Presidency.  It just seems like a different union.  Again, I could just be over-thinking this.
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« Reply #95 on: September 12, 2009, 01:05:03 AM »


Anyway, I'd like feedback as to whether or not I am overreacting to this.   Smiley


Salpy, there are small differences in the way  the Virgin Mary is viewed in the Assyrian Church of the East and the other Syriac churches.  As an example, the Assyrian Church of the East names its churches after the Virgin Mary as so; "mart maryam" in Syriac or "Lady or Lord(F) Maryam" while the Syriac Orthodox church uses the term yeldath aloho or "god bearer". The view on the Virgin Mary is slightly different I feel but it's not an issue for me at all, and I don't believe it should be an issue that needs to be exaggerated.  If the Virgin Mary wasn't venerated the ACE wouldn't name its churches after the Virgin Mary would it? 

Whether or not the ACE venerates Mary or not is really a superficial issue in comparison to whether or not she is regarded as the mother of the Word.
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« Reply #96 on: September 12, 2009, 01:24:57 AM »

Salpy,

To be honest with you, analogies like these on the President/Patriarch should have been best left out, because they are unnecessary, and often cause more confusion than clarification.  The catechism is basically saying that when St. Mary gave birth to Christ our God, she did not originate His Divinity, since His Divinity was originated or begotten from the Father.  An analogy was put to compare Christ's Divinity with the U.S. Presidency, or Christ's Divinity with the Office of the Patriarchate, in that, just as the Mother of the President did not originate his Presidency, and just as the Mother of the Patriarch did not originate his Patriarchate, so likewise, the Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ did not originate His Divinity.

By the way, in Eastern Aramaic, Yaldath is the term used for begetter or bearer or birther, and in the understanding of the Church of the East, the term has a connotation of origin.

God bless,

Rony
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« Reply #97 on: September 12, 2009, 02:03:36 AM »

Quote
Whether or not the ACE venerates Mary or not is really a superficial issue in comparison to whether or not she is regarded as the mother of the Word.

deusveritasest,

Back on the first page, I posted this confession from the Sunhados:

Quote
Concerning this, we believe in our hearts and confess with our lips one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, whose Godhead does not disappear, and whose manhood is not stolen away, but who is complete God and complete man.  When we say of Christ ‘com­plete God’ we are not naming the Trinity, but one of the qnome of the Trinity, God the Word.  Again, when we call Christ ‘complete man’ it is not all men we are naming, but the one qnoma which was specifi­cally taken for our salvation into union with the Word.

Since St. Mary gave birth to the Lord Jesus Christ, and since the Lord Jesus Christ is the Union of God the Word and His Human Body and Soul, then yes, Mary is the Mother of the Word, but not because she originated the Word's Divine Nature.

God bless,

Rony
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« Reply #98 on: September 12, 2009, 05:52:39 AM »

Quote
Heck, I'm still not clear on what their position has been at anytime in history. It seems that the ACE has the most complicated Cristolgoy out there.

My Latin brother Papist  Smiley

The basics of the Christology is really just: Two Natures in One Person.  It's just that in the Church of the East's understanding of the Aramaic terms, the Nature is broken further down between what is abstract and what is concrete.  With respect to Christ's Divine Nature, Christ is not just Divine (abstract), but that He is the Divine Son (concrete).  With respect to Christ's Human Nature, Christ is not just Human (abstract), but that His Humanity consisted of a specific Body type with a specific skin color, facial features, etc, and also a specific Soul (concrete).  At the moment of the conception, the Divine Son assumed this concrete Human Body and Soul, in a perfect Union, without confusion and without separation.  This Union at the moment of conception is the One Person of the Lord Jesus Christ.

God bless,

Rony
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« Reply #99 on: September 16, 2009, 12:18:07 AM »

I was thinking of going through and responding to a few of the posts on the 2nd page that were addressed to me, but I realized that there still seems that there is some background that I am missing before I can even continue to discuss this.

So far of what has been depicted of the Triadology and Christology of the ACE appears to be orthodox. In the common divine kyana, manner of being, of the Trinity (this appears almost entirely equivalent to ousia) there are three qnome, meaning three particular/individual instances of this kyana, namely the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In the Incarnation there are identified two kyana, both which necessarily are found having particular and concrete qnome, these two qnome being possessed by the parsopa (seemingly equivalent to the Greek prosopon or the Latin persona) of Christ.

This is all fine and good. But it doesn't seem like it goes quite far enough to preserve orthodoxy as I see it in Eastern Orthodoxy and Oriental Orthodoxy. It seems like only external and objective categories are being expressed. Kyana is simply a known type of being (whether it be divine, human, feline, etc.), and qnome is simply the particular instances of kyane. Also, parsopa seems to only address the external (or material as you say) and observable appearances of personality.

On the contrary, it seems that the Alexandrine and, to a certain extent, the Byzantine theology and Christology is much more concerned with the nature of the inner being of the Trinity and of Christ. For instance, the word hypostasis, I have been told, literally means "what lies beneath". What is the reality of this individual underneath how things appear and what we can see? I'm also concerned with coming to know what is the understanding of subject for Syriac Christians rather than simply object.

As to the Trinity: is there a teaching which indicates an understanding of the three qnome as being more than simply instances of the Godhead, but actually distinct subjects or individuals or personalities, each having their own consciousness? If we simply say that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct instances of the divinity without ascribing them their own individual experiences of the divinity that they share, then I don't see how the fullness of the divinity has actually been communicated. How are we protected from Sabellianism here? The Greek protects from the difference of the word hypostasis. Three hypostases establishes that there is a subject and subsistence to each of the persons, and thus that they each have their own consciousness and distinct experience (distinct in being the possession of one person or the other, not distinct in the essence of what the experience is) of the Godhead.

As to Christ: where is continuity and identification with the Word actually established? If the humanity that is supposedly the Word's is identified as being an entirely different qnoma from Him, it doesn't appear that the identification is made on the level of qnoma. On the other hand, if the parsopa of Christ did not exist before the union, then how can it be identified as being part of the eternal being of the Word? Where is the direct point of connection and continuity with the eternal Word? The Greek likewise establishes this direct continuity by identifying not only one prosopon but also one hypostasis, one subject, one subsistence in Christ who contains within Himself both perfect divinity and perfect humanity.
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« Reply #100 on: September 17, 2009, 04:24:07 PM »

I was thinking of going through and responding to a few of the posts on the 2nd page that were addressed to me, but I realized that there still seems that there is some background that I am missing before I can even continue to discuss this.

Shalom deusveritasest,

Here's the thing. The ACE's understanding of the Godhead and the Incarnation is not rooted in Greek philosophy, they're rooted in Jewish mystism. In order to get a proper understanding of the ACE's Christology you have to forget about Greek terms like physis, prosopon & ousia, and about the Greek understanding of concepts like "the soul" held by such individuals as Socrates, Plato & Aristotle:

Quote
Socrates and Plato

Plato, drawing on the words of his teacher Socrates, considered the soul as the essence of a person, being, that at which decides how we behave. He considered this essence as an incorporeal, eternal occupant of our being. As bodies die the soul is continually reborn in subsequent bodies. The Platonic soul comprises three parts:

the logos (mind, nous, or reason)
the thymos (emotion, or spiritedness, or masculine)
the eros (appetitive, or desire, or feminine)

Each of these has a function in a balanced and peaceful soul.

The logos equates to the mind. It corresponds to the charioteer, directing the balanced horses of appetite and spirit. It allows for logic to prevail, and for the optimisation of balance.

The thymos comprises our emotional motive, that which drives us to acts of bravery and glory. If left unchecked, it leads to hubris – the most fatal of all flaws in the Greek view.

The eros equates to the appetite that drives humankind to seek out its basic bodily needs. When the passion controls us, it drives us to hedonism in all forms. In the Ancient Greek view, this is the basal and most feral state.

Aristotle

Aristotle, following Plato, defined the soul as the core or "essence" of a living being, but argued against its having a separate existence in its entirety. In Aristotle's view, a living thing's soul is its activity, that is, its "life"; for example, the soul of an eye, he wrote, if it were an independent lifeform itself, would be sight. Again, if a knife had a soul, the act of cutting would be that soul, because 'cutting' is the essence of what it is to be a knife. Unlike Plato and the religious traditions, Aristotle did not consider the soul in its entirety as a separate, ghostly occupant of the body (just as we cannot separate the activity of cutting from the knife). As the soul, in Aristotle's view, is an actuality of a living body, it cannot be immortal (when a knife is destroyed, the cutting stops). More precisely, the soul is the "first actuality" of a body: its capacity simply for life itself, apart from the various faculties of the soul, such as sensation, nutrition and so forth, which when exercised constitute its "second" actuality, which we might call its "fulfillment." "The axe has an edge for cutting" was, for Aristotle, analogous to "humans have bodies for human activity." The rational activity of the soul's intellective part, along with that of the soul's two other parts—its vegetative and animal parts, which it has in common with other animals—thus in Aristotle's view constitute the essence of a human soul. Aristotle used his concept of the soul in many of his works; the De Anima (On the Soul) provides a good place to start to gain more understanding of his views.

From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soul

The Greek Fathers were influenced by these ideas, the Assyrians and Jews were not, this stuff is foreign to them. The Aramaic word Miltha in John chapter 1 is not equivalent to the Greek word Logos, and as I mentioned earlier there is no cognate for prosopon in the Hebrew OT, in ancient Hebrew there is no such thing as a "person" (whether human or divine) the way it's understood by Greeks. My advice is to forget about everything Greek when dealing with the ACE and instead consult Jewish mystical writings like the Zohar, that's where you'll see similarities.

So far of what has been depicted of the Triadology and Christology of the ACE appears to be orthodox. In the common divine kyana, manner of being, of the Trinity (this appears almost entirely equivalent to ousia) there are three qnome, meaning three particular/individual instances of this kyana, namely the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In the Incarnation there are identified two kyana, both which necessarily are found having particular and concrete qnome, these two qnome being possessed by the parsopa (seemingly equivalent to the Greek prosopon or the Latin persona) of Christ.

Very good, you seem to have grasped this quite well.

This is all fine and good. But it doesn't seem like it goes quite far enough to preserve orthodoxy as I see it in Eastern Orthodoxy and Oriental Orthodoxy. It seems like only external and objective categories are being expressed. Kyana is simply a known type of being (whether it be divine, human, feline, etc.), and qnome is simply the particular instances of kyane. Also, parsopa seems to only address the external (or material as you say) and observable appearances of personality.

Not quite, the reason being is that so far we've only dealt with "dictionary definitions" of the these key Aramaic terms, we haven't gone into the imagery associated with them, and in a spiritual context this imagery can be very deep. And always bear in mind is that there is still no real "dictionary definition" for qnoma, "instantation of a nature" is the closest we've come so far in English but it still does not capture all the imagery associated with it - it's a simplified/incomplete explanation.

On the contrary, it seems that the Alexandrine and, to a certain extent, the Byzantine theology and Christology is much more concerned with the nature of the inner being of the Trinity and of Christ. For instance, the word hypostasis, I have been told, literally means "what lies beneath". What is the reality of this individual underneath how things appear and what we can see? I'm also concerned with coming to know what is the understanding of subject for Syriac Christians rather than simply object.

Well the root word from which qnoma derives from is qom:

Quote from: Paul Younan
The word is a noun derived from the verbal root "qom" (as in "Talitha qomi".) The verb means "to rise, to stand up, to be present."

As such, the root of this word is found thousands of times in both the Hebrew and the Aramaic of the OT. (not just the Peshitta OT, but also the original Hebrew.)

...The word for "resurrection" in Aramaic is "Qeyamtha", which is also derived from the root "Qom."

The reason why Prof. Brock and others have concluded that the CoE definition for Qnoma is the archaic one, is because of the imagery involved with the primitive root meaning "to rise up, stand up, to be established."

"Kyana" means "nature" in an abstract sense, and "Qnoma" means an "individuated kyana", i.e., "something which has arisen, stood up, and become established from an abstract concept."

From: http://www.peshitta.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=659&st=0&sk=t&sd=a&hilit=qnoma&start=15

As you can see qnoma is not equivalent to hypostasis, the Aramaic word aitutha (substance/essence) is much closer to hypostasis than qnoma. Prof. Sebastian Brock specifically stated not to equate qnoma with hypostasis because it doesn't actually mean hypostasis. While it's true that qnoma is closer to hypostasis than any other Greek term, that doesn't necessarily mean that it's that close. Greek is not going to help you with this, rather turn your attention to the Hebrew & Aramaic Biblical texts.

As to the Trinity: is there a teaching which indicates an understanding of the three qnome as being more than simply instances of the Godhead, but actually distinct subjects or individuals or personalities, each having their own consciousness? If we simply say that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct instances of the divinity without ascribing them their own individual experiences of the divinity that they share, then I don't see how the fullness of the divinity has actually been communicated. How are we protected from Sabellianism here? The Greek protects from the difference of the word hypostasis. Three hypostases establishes that there is a subject and subsistence to each of the persons, and thus that they each have their own consciousness and distinct experience (distinct in being the possession of one person or the other, not distinct in the essence of what the experience is) of the Godhead.

{Hebrews 1:1-3} In all ways and in all forms, God spoke previously with our fathers by the prophets. And in these last days, he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of everything and by whom he made the ages, who is the radiance of his glory and the image of his being and almighty by the power of his word. And in his qnoma, he accomplished the cleansing of our sins and sat down at the right hand of majesty in the high places. (Peshitta)

I see no reason why the 3 Qnome of the Godhead cannot have their own experiences and conciousness. It was the Son, the 2nd Qnoma of the Godhead who, as Rony said "entered the material realm" (became flesh) not the other two (the Father & the Holy Spirit). But that does not make them 3 distinct individuals or personalities, not in Hebraic thought that is. Jews and Assyrians can't say that the 3 Qnume are distinct individuals or personalities because in Hebraic thought this is the same thing as saying that they are 3 different dieties.

Hippolytus of Rome knew Sabellius personally and mentioned him in the Philosophumena. He knew Sabellius disliked Trinitarian theology, yet he called Modal Monarchism the heresy of Noetus, not that of Sabellius. Sabellianism was embraced by Christians in Cyrenaica, to whom Demetrius, Patriarch of Alexandria, wrote letters arguing against this belief.

The ACE's understanding of the Godhead is not like Sabellianism:

Quote
In Christianity, Sabellianism, (also known as modalism, modalistic monarchianism, or modal monarchism) is the nontrinitarian belief that the Heavenly Father, Resurrected Son and Holy Spirit are different modes or aspects of one God, as perceived by the believer, rather than three distinct persons in God Himself.

From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabellianism

Qnoma does not mean "mode" or "aspect" or "attribute", see this: http://www.assyrianchurch.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=727

More about Sabellianism from Wikipedia:

Quote
Meaning and origins

God was said to have three "faces" or "masks" (Grk. prosopa), (Latin persona)[1]. The question is: "is God's threeness a matter of our falsely seeing it to be so (Sabellianism/modalism), or a matter of God's own essence revealed as three-in-one (trinitarianism)?"

Three "faces" or "masks"? I hope Vladimir Lossky (an EO) didn't mean that literally.

Quote
Modalists note that the only number ascribed to God in the Holy Bible is One and that there is no inherent threeness ascribed to God explicitly in scripture.[citation needed]. The number three is never mentioned in relation to God in scripture, which of course is the number that is central to the word "Trinity". The only possible exceptions to this are the Great Commission Matthew 28:16-20 and the Comma Johanneum, a disputed text passage in First John[citation needed] known primarily from the King James Version and some versions of the Textus Receptus but not included in modern critical texts.[citation needed] Modalism has been mainly associated with Sabellius, who taught a form of it in Rome in the third century. This had come to him via the teachings of Noetus and Praxeas.[2]

The number 3 is never mentioned in relation to God in Scripture yes, but neither is the number 1, i.e. in the exclusively singular sense (yakhid). In the Shema YHWH is said to be 1 (ekhad), i.e. in a collective sense, Modulists (like Oneness Pentecostals) obviously don't understand the meaning of the Hebrew word ekhad. No Assyrian, Messianic Jew or even Rabbinical Jew believes that God is exclusively singular like Muslims do (tawhid). The 3 Qnume of the Godhead have eternally existed within God's kyana (nature), they are not "modes" or "aspects" that God switches between. The plurality is within God's very nature, Sabellianism does not recognize any sort of plurality within God's nature itself, Assyrians and Jews do.

As to Christ: where is continuity and identification with the Word actually established? If the humanity that is supposedly the Word's is identified as being an entirely different qnoma from Him, it doesn't appear that the identification is made on the level of qnoma. On the other hand, if the parsopa of Christ did not exist before the union, then how can it be identified as being part of the eternal being of the Word? Where is the direct point of connection and continuity with the eternal Word? The Greek likewise establishes this direct continuity by identifying not only one prosopon but also one hypostasis, one subject, one subsistence in Christ who contains within Himself both perfect divinity and perfect humanity.

Before I answer this let us remember that the Incarnation, like the Godhead is essentialy an ineffable mystery. We'd do well to adhere to the wise words of Mar Ephriam:



That said, I'll rather let Rony tackle this one where details are concerned as he can explain the ACE's position better than I can. What I can give you is my personal understanding based on my studies of Scripture in Hebrew and Aramaic:

*God is eternal, man is mortal.
*Flesh can hunger, suffer pain (physically), urinate, deficate, bleed and die, spirit cannot.
*Man cannot forgive sins or raise the dead, God can.
*God cannot be tempted by Satan, man can.

Yeshua the Messiah is both 100% God and 100% man - 100/100 not 50/50, that is what Scripture teaches. Yeshua's humanity and divinity are united within His parsopa without separation, confusion, or alternation (as the Miaphysites say), how is that possible if humanity and divinity are so different? I don't know how but I believe it, I accept it as fact through faith not reason, just like I accept the Resurrection as fact through faith not reason. And I think it may do us further harm rather than good if we continue to pry deeper than that.

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« Reply #101 on: September 17, 2009, 06:24:37 PM »


I see no reason why the 3 Qnome of the Godhead cannot have their own experiences and conciousness. It was the Son, the 2nd Qnoma of the Godhead who, as Rony said "entered the material realm" (became flesh) not the other two (the Father & the Holy Spirit). But that does not make them 3 distinct individuals or personalities, not in Hebraic thought that is. Jews and Assyrians can't say that the 3 Qnume are distinct individuals or personalities because in Hebraic thought this is the same thing as saying that they are 3 different dieties.

I am wondering perhaps if even in English we are having a differing in understanding what "individuality" and "personality" are. In my understanding, the very concept of qnoma establishes individuality. For a subject to be an individuated instance of a class of being, and for it to be thus distinct from the others in its class, itself establishes that subject as an individual. Further, for a qnoma to have its own rationality, consciousness, and experience appears to me to be the matter that defines it as a person. So for you to admit that each qnoma of the Trinity has its own rationality, consciousness, and experience but not be distinct persons does not make sense. This is what leads me to believe that we don't even have the same understanding of these English terms. So it would be helpful if you could attempt to clarify what is the difference/problem here?
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