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Poll for OOs only: Do you consider the teaching that Christ has the two essences to be orthodox?

Yes
4 (80%)
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Other/NA
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Total Members Voted: 5

Voting closes: July 15, 2044, 01:59:28 PM

Author Topic: POLL: Do Oriental Orthodox Teach that Christ Has Two Essences, Divine & Human?  (Read 1009 times)

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Offline rakovsky

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I am asking because I don't know the answer to this question, but Fr. Peter wrote that one reason for the schism was that EOs and OOs had different terminologies, with EOs thinking "physia"/nature meant essence, and OOs thinking "physia"/nature meant "hypostasis", as in the Chalcedon's declaration of "one hypostasis". To clarify the EOs' own position, a Joint EO-OO Consultation took note that an EO Troparion says: "For all devoted and blessed Teachers set forth and declare to all  men  Him  in two essences but  one person  of  the  Christ.”

Pre-Schism Orthodox Saints on Whether Christ Has Two Essences
"Being perfect God and perfect man, He assured us of His two essences," ~ Melito of Sardis
Quote
Melito declared that Christ is at once God and a perfect man. Having two essences while being one and the same, his godhead was demonstrated by way of all of the signs and miracles he performed after being baptized.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melito_of_Sardis

The 4th c. Acts of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul on the Coptic Place website recorded the Apostle Peter saying that one person could have two essences:
Quote
Peter said: ... For this Simon is full of lies and deceit, even if it should seem that he is what he is not — a God. And in Christ there is all excellent victory through God and through man, which that incomprehensible glory assumed which through man deigned to come to the assistance of men. But in this Simon there are two essences, of man and of devil, who through man endeavors to ensnare men.
http://www.copticplace.com/Saints_E/Lives_of_Saints/Peter_Paul.html

Introduction to the Coptic Orthodox Church explains that St. Athanasius taught that the Father and Son retained both one essence, not a separate essence of the father and a separate essence of the son.
Quote
Bringing forth the Son eternally reveals the nature of God as the Loving Being, who in His infinite love brings forth the Son offering to Him His own divine essence being One with Him.

5. St. Athanasius clarifies that the "Son" is called "the Word of God," to confirm the oneness of the essence, that no one may think in two essences.
http://www.copticchurch.net/topics/thecopticchurch/church3-1.html
That is, they don't each have their own individual "two essences", a Fatherly essence and a Sonly Essence, but each continues to hold their common one divine essence, even after the Son incarnated, when the Son took on a second essence, a human one.

For St Cyril, Essences and Persons operated differently and had different implications. He taught that Christ had a unity of two essences, while denying a unity of two persons:
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For Scripture does not say that the Word united to Himself  the  person  of  a  man,  but  that  “He became  flesh”...Thus  shall  we  find  the  holy fathers to have held.   So did they make bold to call the holy virgin “ the Mother of God .”  Not as   though   the   nature   of   the   Word   of   His Godhead   had   its   beginning   from   the   holy virgin, but forasmuch as His holy Body, endued with a rational soul, was born of her, to which Body also the Word was personally united (i.e. the  two  substances [essences] united  in  one Person),  on  this  account  He  is  said  to  have been born after the flesh ( Epistle IV).

Writings Suggesting that Christ Retains Two Essences, according to Oriental Orthodoxy

Fr. Peter wrote that the issue was only terminological and so if OOs had believed "two natures" meant "two essences" as the 5th Council explained, the OOs could have understood this as nonheretical.

Severian wrote:
I do not think any of our own Orthodox Fathers would describe Christ as "one ousia (essence)" or as being "of one ousia".
describing Christ as "one ousia" isn't really consistent with our faith.

Writings Suggesting that Christ Continues to Have Only One Essence Not Two Essences, according to Oriental Orthodoxy

The 11th c. OO Bishop Ignatius III of Melitene said
Quote
that his church recognized only three universal Councils (those of Nicaea, Ephesus, and Constantinople) and did not accept the Chalcedonian definition of the faith purporting two Natures, two Essences, two Activities and two Wills of the Incarnate Word.
http://rbedrosian.com/Ref/Moosa/mmebca2.htm

Fr. Ibn Kabar, the 14th c. priest of St. Mary's in Cairo Governate, writes:
Quote
Nestorians say: The union was the union of the ancient with the new and was characterized by will, knowledge, and calling the human son as in giving honor to the human because the true son-hood is for the Word (logos) and his union with the human as a preference. they may also say that the union is in making the will of the son manifestation and human manifestation one will., and our knowledge of the two is that of one  that is what he is, and thus they make theunion in Christ null andvoid because to them he is two manifestations and not one, two essences and two uknuums. [Nestorians] also state that Christ with his two Essences is one son and not two, they say he is one Christ, but he is two Essences and two manifestations, and if you will you can say two persons one is the Essence of God and the other is the Essence of man... They also said, that Christ is two essences one ancient and one contemporary, united by knowledge and will, and their saying that Mary gave birth to Christ, means that Mary gave birth to two essences ancient and new united in knowledge, and this saying is false.

[The EO Marcion] wrote to all the patriarchs and bishops  to convene in  Chalcedon to examine what [The OO leader] Descores, the patriarch of Alexandria wrote, because he was saying  that Christ is one essence from two, and ‘eknuum’  (one manifestation) from two manifestations,  one nature from two natures, one will from two wills . But [the EO] Mercian and his kingdom (empire)  were saying the He (Christ) is two essences, two natures, two wills, and one ‘eknuum’  manifestation.

http://www.coptic.net/public/IbnKabar/ibn_kabar.pdf

Metouro writes on the Tasbeha website about an OO book called "The Nature of Christ":
Quote
When reading the book the Nature of Christ, I read a statement to the effect that "both become one in essence and in nature, so we say that this is one nature and one person."
...  the statement seems to be saying that the Divine Essence and the Human Essence became One Essence in Christ, and the statmenet distinguishes essence from "nature" so that it is not just Miaphysis but, on a deeper level, MiaOusiai, whic is not possible or acceptable as a thought in Christology because the two essences did not mingle or mix or become one essence

...

4) Do we belive that in Christ there is only one Essence united from Two Essences?  IS THIS WHAT "THE NATURE OF CHRIST" BOOK IS SAYING??
if not, then what is mean by
"both become one in essence and in nature, so we say that this is one nature and one person"
 
5) "although man is formed of these two natures [body and soul], we never say that He is two, but one person." page 8
But doesn't that One Person have Two Essences, one Consubstantial with the Father and One consubstantial with us?
http://tasbeha.org/community/discussion/14695/christology-and-chalcedon

The Nature of Christ book can be found here:
http://www.copticchurch.net/topics/theology/nature_of_christ.pdf

Remnkemi writes there:
Quote
A thing may have two distinct substances, as you are claiming applies to the Incarnate Logos, but always one ousia or one essence. On the other hand, an essence can be differentiated or personalized into multiple hyposteses. Thus, the Trinity has one essence (the Godhead) that subsists in three hypostases.

Now if you add that Christ is one divine ousia (which is not ousia but physis) united to the human ousia (again not ousia), then you are saying the ousia or essence of the eternal Logos, the Second Hypostases of the Trinity, united its essence to human essence and thereby making the the Logos two essences or two Logoi and the Trinity becomes a Quaternity.
http://tasbeha.org/community/discussion/14695/christology-and-chalcedon

In a letter of the OO Patriarch John XI to the Roman Pope Eugene IV regarding the "incarnate Christ", Pat. John speaks of "the mediating essence between the two essences of God and Humanity before the union". (http://docslide.us/documents/the-coptic-papacy-in-islamic-egypt-9774160932.html)
By specifying that Christ's essence in the singular was mediating that were "before the union", it suggests to me that Christ did not have those two natures after the union.

Habte Selassie writes:
the Oriental Christology is that Christ as One Essence and One Hypostasis, however this One Essence is the union of what is otherwise two distinct natures, human and divine.  However, through the Union, the distinction is abolished

Other Expressions (Unclear to Me) On Whether Christ Has Two Essences, according to OOs

Fr. G. Florovsky wrote that Severus
Quote
agreed to "distinguish" "two natures" — or better, "two essences" — in Christ not only "before the union" but also in the union itself — "after union" — of course with the proviso that it can only be a question of a mental or analytical distinguishing, a distinguishing "in contemplation" — εν θεωρία, or “through imagination” — κατ’ έπίνοίαν.
http://www.holytrinitymission.org/books/english/fathers_florovsky_3.htm
The reason this is unclear to me is that distinguishing the two essences would normally suggest Christ has two essences. But here Severus adds that this individual identifying of the essences is only "contemplated", as opposed to the divine and human essences actually being distinguishable in reality. Also, this discussion on two essences is put together in the same discussion about the duality of natures, and we know Severus was against saying Christ is in two natures.

Fr. Ibn Kabar, The 14th c, Priest of St Mary's, the Hanging Church, in Cairo Governate, Egypt, writes:
Quote
And since it is proper to use a reference to the intellect to refer to the whole person  it is also proper when we refer to any of Christ’s concerns to refer it to his divinity that is one of  the two parts (two natures) of Him. Also referring to the Son (Logos) manifestation because this is one of the two essences that is Christ, so it is most appropriate to refer to (Christ) as the Son,  and the Word two synonymous phrases in our faith for the same being.
http://www.coptic.net/public/IbnKabar/ibn_kabar.pdf
Normally saying "the two essences is Christ" would mean to me that Christ is or has two essences, but we know that Fr. Ibn Kabar denied this conclusion at length.

Coptic Mission Communities in the UK's article (maybe written by Fr. Peter?) says:
Quote
Because humanity and divinity are different and remain different, and when we ask what essence Christ is of we have to answer accurately that he is of two essences. Now we will notice that we are using the word translated as nature to speak of essences. And this is entirely proper. The word being used by St Severus is not essence (or ousia), but is nature (or physis). And this word has several meanings. In some contexts it can mean essence (or ousia), just as he uses it here. But this is not its only meaning. It can also stand for another word used in the passage I have quoted, which is hypostasis.
http://www.stgeorgeministry.com/?p=938
In the passage above, the writer speaks of the "essence" (singular) of Christ, and then says that this essence is "of" two essences. Normally, by saying that the "divinity" and "humanity" (the two natures) "remain different", I would conclude that the two natures remain in Christ. Plus, here he says that he is talking about natures in the sense of essences, so this would normally imply to me that the two essences remain different and that Christ still has them. But I know that people don't always draw the same conclusions that I do.
He also replied to someone's question:
Quote
the “oriental” confess ultimately *is* that Christ is two natures (divine and human) in one person?

If you mean that Christ is both God and man, then we have always confessed that. We don’t say Christ IS two natures. That would mean he is two essences, which would mean ALL of the Holy Trinity and ALL of mankind.
http://www.stgeorgeministry.com/?p=938

« Last Edit: February 28, 2017, 02:11:41 PM by rakovsky »
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Offline Iconodule

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The reason this is unclear to me is that distinguishing the two essences would normally suggest Christ has two essences. But here Severus adds that this individual identifying of the essences is only "contemplated", as opposed to the divine and human essences actually being distinguishable in reality.

The same thought is expressed in the seventh anathema of the Fifth Ecumenical Council:

Quote
IF anyone using the expression, "in two natures," does not confess that our one Lord Jesus Christ has been revealed in the divinity and in the humanity, so as to designate by that expression a difference of the natures of which an ineffable union is unconfusedly made, [a union] in which neither the nature of the Word was changed into that of the flesh, nor that of the flesh into that of the Word, for each remained that it was by nature, the union being hypostatic; but shall take the expression with regard to the mystery of Christ in a sense so as to divide the parties, or recognising the two natures in the only Lord Jesus, God the Word made man, does not content himself with taking in a theoretical manner the difference of the natures which compose him, which difference is not destroyed by the union between them, for one is composed of the two and the two are in one, but shall make use of the number [two] to divide the natures or to make of them Persons properly so called: let him be anathema.

Likewise the Letter of Pope Saint Agatho to the Sixth Ecumenical Council says,
Quote
We discern by contemplation alone the distinction between the natures united in him of which inconfusedly, inseparably and unchangeably he is composed; for one is of both, and through one both, because there are together both the height of the deity and the humility of the flesh, each nature preserving after the union its own proper character without any defect; and each form acting in communion with the other what is proper to itself

This language comes from Saint Cyril.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2017, 02:27:23 PM by Iconodule »
Quote
When a time revolts against eternity, the only thing to set against it is genuine eternity itself, and not some other time which has already roused, and not without reason, a violent reaction against itself.
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Offline rakovsky

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Severus adds that this individual identifying of the essences is only "contemplated", as opposed to the divine and human essences actually being distinguishable in reality.

The same thought is expressed in the seventh anathema of the Fifth Ecumenical Council:

Quote
... but shall take the expression with regard to the mystery of Christ in a sense so as to divide the parties, or recognising the two natures in the only Lord Jesus, God the Word made man, does not content himself with taking in a theoretical manner the difference of the natures which compose him, which difference is not destroyed by the union between them, for one is composed of the two and the two are in one,
but shall make use of the number [two] to divide the natures or to make of them Persons properly so called: let him be anathema.

This language comes from Saint Cyril.
Hi, Iconodule.

Let me explain the reason I bring this up. Deacon Kuraev commented:
Quote
In the Documents of Proposed Union the claim is made that the two natures in Christ are distinguished only in the feeble human mind, only in theory composed of two nature's of the Logos' two natures. But the orthodox position isn't limited by the obvious recognition that Christ is from two natures. In Maxim the Confessor's judgment, Christ is not only from two natures but in two natures... Imperial unional politics always tried to switch the orthodox judgment of the preposition "in' [by saying] that after the enhypostasization [the natures] lose their real otherness, [limiting themselves to saying] "two natures are known in Christ"... as one may know hydrogen and oxygen in the formula H2O. The difficulty however is that one may perceive the presence of oxygen, but breathing water in reality is not successful. ... Christ['s] human nature didn't lost its ability to its action, will...
In order to have healing and salvation of our human nature in Christ, there needs to have been a mutual movement of the different natures/essences: God to man and man to the Creator. ... In synergy there are two actions, or are they only theoretically proposed for the convenience of exegetical models?
http://kuraev.ru/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=34&Itemid=38
It looks to me like Dcn Kuraev is saying he is not content with looking at the natures only theoretically, but nor does he "make use of the number [two] to divide the natures or to make of them Persons" as the Anathema prohibits. The Anathema also appears to me to leave room for Dcn. Kuraev's teaching that the humanity and divinity remain different in reality because the Anathema explains that the "difference is not destroyed by the union between them".

I didn't come across a quote where Cyril said the "difference" was only theoretical. In case you found something like that, I am happy to read it. Rather, what I found was that Cyril said that the "division" is only in thought.

I am responding in order to explain why I bring up the issue of the duality of natures being real vs. "in theory only", and will avoid extended debate on this. The main question I have in this thread is whether Oriental Orthodox teach Christ continuing to have "two essences" or teach "one nature not two essences".
« Last Edit: February 28, 2017, 03:40:20 PM by rakovsky »
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Offline Iconodule

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I didn't come across a quote where Cyril said the "difference" was only theoretical. Rather, what I found was that Cyril said that the "division" is only in thought. In case you found something, I am happy to read it.

I don't remember the exact phrasing or where it was found. Perhaps someone else can chime in here. But the distinction being only theoretical is clear from the ecumenical councils. On this question I see no difference between us and the OO's.
Quote
When a time revolts against eternity, the only thing to set against it is genuine eternity itself, and not some other time which has already roused, and not without reason, a violent reaction against itself.
- Berdyaev

If you would like a private forum for non-polemical topics, comment here.

Offline rakovsky

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I don't remember the exact phrasing or where it was found.
I had the same discussion with Dzheremi, when he said Cyril said the difference was only in theory and he pointed to where Cyril said the "division" was only in theory.

Quote
But the distinction being only theoretical is clear from the ecumenical councils.
Are you referring to any passage from the Councils besides the Anathema that you mentioned?
« Last Edit: February 28, 2017, 03:49:19 PM by rakovsky »
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Offline Iconodule

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I don't remember the exact phrasing or where it was found.
I had the same discussion with Dzheremi, when he said Cyril said the difference was only in theory and he pointed to where Cyril said the "division" was only in theory.

In the context, that sounds like a distinction without a difference. Or is it a difference without a division?

Quote
Are you referring to any passage from the Councils besides the Anathema that you mentioned?

Pope Agatho's letter was approved by the Sixth Ecumenical Council.
Quote
When a time revolts against eternity, the only thing to set against it is genuine eternity itself, and not some other time which has already roused, and not without reason, a violent reaction against itself.
- Berdyaev

If you would like a private forum for non-polemical topics, comment here.

Offline rakovsky

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In the context, that sounds like a distinction without a difference. Or is it a difference without a division?
The context of St. Cyril was:
Quote
Let us once more take the example of an ordinary man. We recognise two natures in him; for there is one nature of the soul and another of the body, but we divide them only at a theoretical level...
(Second Letter to Succensus)
The human soul and the human body are united together into one person. The soul is not separated from the body until death.

But.... a soul is different in reality from the body. A soul and a body are not really the same exact thing. There are real differences.

Pope Agatho's letter was approved by the Sixth Ecumenical Council.
The approval of Pope Agatho's Letter that you refer to stated there are two sets of actions and anathematized those who teach only one set of actions. This was why Dcn Kuraev considers the difference to be practical, not just theoretical.

If you want to continue discussing with me whether in Eastern Orthodoxy there is really a difference between humanity and divinity, both belonging to Christ, it's OK with me, but I would invite you to do it on another thread:
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,65949.135.html

For this thread, I simply wish to ask whether Oriental Orthodox believe that "Christ has two essences", or only an indistinguishable "human-divine essence".
« Last Edit: February 28, 2017, 05:19:29 PM by rakovsky »
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Offline rakovsky

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I would be interested in hearing what Oriental Orthodox have to say on whether Christ retains the divine and human essences.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2017, 05:22:49 PM by rakovsky »
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Offline Iconodule

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I don't remember the exact phrasing or where it was found.
I had the same discussion with Dzheremi, when he said Cyril said the difference was only in theory and he pointed to where Cyril said the "division" was only in theory.

In the context, that sounds like a distinction without a difference. Or is it a difference without a division?
The context of St. Cyril was:
Quote
Let us once more take the example of an ordinary man. We recognise two natures in him; for there is one nature of the soul and another of the body, but we divide them only at a theoretical level...
(Second Letter to Succensus)
The human soul and the human body are united together into one person. The soul is not separated from the body until death.

But.... a soul is different in reality from the body. A soul and a body are not really the same exact thing. There are real differences.

I realize that Saint Cyril and many other fathers use this soul/body analogy for the incarnation, but, like the fire/iron analogy, it's not very good.

But again, as for distinguishing between the natures only theoretically, there is no disagreement between us and the OO's that I can see.
Quote
When a time revolts against eternity, the only thing to set against it is genuine eternity itself, and not some other time which has already roused, and not without reason, a violent reaction against itself.
- Berdyaev

If you would like a private forum for non-polemical topics, comment here.

Offline rakovsky

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But again, as for distinguishing between the natures only theoretically, there is no disagreement between us and the OO's that I can see.
I am glad to continue the discussion with you about the natures' theoretical vs practical differences on the link I provided.
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Offline rakovsky

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I would be interested to see why someone voted:
Poll for OOs only: Do you consider the teaching that Christ has the two essences to be orthodox?
Other/ N/A
The ocean, infinite to men, and the worlds beyond it, are directed by the same ordinances of the Lord. ~ I Clement 20

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I would be interested to see why someone voted:
Poll for OOs only: Do you consider the teaching that Christ has the two essences to be orthodox?
Other/ N/A

Maybe it's that person's way of saying this thread sucks. 
Mor Ephrem is a nice guy.  Just say sorry and it will all be ok. Say I had things that were inside troubling me but I didn't know how to express appropriately. I will not behave that way again but I am seeking help.

thank you so much Mor ephrem you are a hero!

Offline Asteriktos

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I would be interested to see why someone voted:
Poll for OOs only: Do you consider the teaching that Christ has the two essences to be orthodox?
Other/ N/A

Maybe it's that person's way of saying this thread sucks.

We must strive be like the wise abba, who, if he did not gain anything from someone's visit, would examine himself to see what he did wrong! :P

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I don't remember the exact phrasing or where it was found.
I had the same discussion with Dzheremi, when he said Cyril said the difference was only in theory and he pointed to where Cyril said the "division" was only in theory.

In the context, that sounds like a distinction without a difference. Or is it a difference without a division?

I like that. Like a division without a schism.
Question a friend, perhaps he did not do it; but if he did anything so that he may do it no more.
A hasty quarrel kindles fire,
and urgent strife sheds blood.
If you blow on a spark, it will glow;
if you spit on it, it will be put out;
                           and both come out of your mouth