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45 Posts

Posted - 02 Dec 2006 :  21:28:32  


Well, I think that there is a kind of mystery in all Christian religion.
I remember the council of Ephesus 431 d. C., the definition of one nature, not only incarnated but one nature in Christ.
Now nature, in ancient Greek has a very wide semantical field, see, INDEX ARISTOTELICUS by Hermann Bonitz ed. Walter de Gruyter, one of this is the order of the Universe
So we have also the following syllogistic example,
"if it is day, there is light", which is true because according to nature, while,
"if there is light, it is day", is not always true, because not according to nature, since we may have artificial light (es. a lantern)
You find this exsample in GRAMMATICI GRAECI I, III, § 20 pg 241 SCHOLIA MARCIANA.
So nature is, also, the force that orders the Universe.
St. Cyril of Alexandria who decreed one nature in Christ, obviuosly, comprising humanity and divinity, thought about this and about all the meanings of NATURE which are obscure to us, and, in my own view, thought that divinity had united itself to the world, to the ordering force of the world and to the moral ordering of society and that this is the message of the Gospels but it is a necessary message, because otherwise there would be no order, neither in nature nor in the society.
St. Cyril was and extremely intelligent person, he realized perfectly well the difficulties of both ancient and new Testaments, so he solved everything well with the concept of nature.
In my own view he was too intelligent and, since, has not been understood.
For sure he was perfectly aware of the fact that the Ancient Testament prescribe things like Lapidations etc. for Adulterous, Homesexuals etc. etc. so he stated Spiritual reading for it, see DE ADORATIONE ET CULTU IN SPIRITU ET VERITATE. In an anlogous way, he settled the New Testament, its moral teaching are as follows, with the Incarnation the moral Law has been written in ours hearts, we don't need any longer a written statement.
In fact if we adere to a writing, we commit the error of the SCRIBI AND FARISEI of Mattheus 5,20
"If your Justice will not be greater than that of the SCRIBI AND FARISEI, you will not enter in the reign of Heavens." If we adere to a written text we are wrong.
In my own view, I repeat, he thought that Incarnation represents the necessary fact that God has united himself with both the order of the world and the moral order of society; but this is a necessity, either if the Gospels are Historical truth either if they are not, because without a moral order there would be no society, no ordered world.
Unluckily St Cyril has been widely misunderstood.
Further to that today's relaxsation of studies and constantly spreading and widening ignorance helps to forget St. Cyril.

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615 Posts

Posted - 04 Dec 2006 :  00:59:55  


I thought you’ve read Cyril, since you hold him in such a great esteem. When Cyril uses the expression “one nature” he means one person in two natures, the human and the divine natures being united in the person of Christ, not as one of them having been lost or confused with the other.

As to moral concerns, these are secondary (and less). www.ellopos.net/elpenor/greek-texts/fathers/maximus.asp">St. Maximus Confessor says that “the moral person is like a cattleman, because moral achievements have the value of cattle”. Christianity is not a better morality or an attempt for a moral society. Christianity is the personal meeting with the Christ and in Him.

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45 Posts

Posted - 04 Dec 2006 :  04:05:23  


Yes, I read Cyril, something by him, he was a real genius. Unluckily I am afraid that not all written by him is available printed, and the Migne, in many ways, is not a good edition, there is still much work to be tone but which is not being done. Further there are SCHOLIA (Explanatory notes by Byzantine schoolteachers), for instance, to Gregory of Natiance, some of them are not available on the MIGNE, some are, so there should be analogous explanatory notes also about S. Cyril, but they are nowhere to be found. This is a real pity.
As far as nature is concerned, I reinsert the two voices that I have alkready posted in this FORUM , but in another thread. The question is much more complex than "one person in two natures", the voices of the SUIDAS are just the beginning, a good point is the voice FYSIS and the related of the INDEX ARISTOTELICUS by Hermann Bonitz ed. Walter de Gruyter (http://www.degruyter.com/rs/search_e_treffer_ENU_h.cfm)
I suggest you consult it, if you live in a big city, perhaps Athens, you should find it in some Bibliothek.
One person in two nature is only a Roman Catholic oversemplification, perhaps by S. Thomas Aquinas, but remember that Roman Catholics are no cultivated and studiuos people, there is an Italian poet, Giosuè Carducci who wrote
Davanti a San Guido
Manzoniano means Roman Catholic, so the verse means that Roman Catholics think first to eat, to receive good pay-money and thats all.
I don't know if you understand some Italian. Just to be Ecumenic.

I suggest, about the meaning of physis, to read the two respective voices on the SUIDAS lexicon, available on-line;
it is a lexicon of the byzantine period, but the language is practically the same as ancient Greek, so it gives explanations of mother-tongue people, it is clear that they are highly valuable. I give the two voices
Headword: Φύσις
Adler number: phi,863
Translated headword: nature
Vetting Status: low
Nature is the movement without qualification of the existent things. It [is understood] in five modes. (1) The intelligent [nature], such as the one existing in the Angels on account of their thoughts associating each other. (2) The rational [nature], such as [the one existing] in human beings, that makes public to the external [people] the unnoticed motions of the soul through names and words. (3) The perceptual [nature] is the one considered in irrational beings. [One] also has acquired the perceptual [nature], in addition to the nutritive, the growing, and the generative power. (4) The vegetative [nature] is the one [existing] in plants. For [plants] also move themselves according to the nutritive, the growing and the generative power. (5) However, [something is] inanimate, like stones, insofar as it is moved by itself according to quality and to place. According to quality when it is heated and made cold; according to place by transposition from a place to [another] place, [being] incapable of self motion.
Greek Original:
Φύσις: φύσις ἐστὶν ἡ ἁπλω̂ς τω̂ν ὄντων κίνησις, πεντάτροπος δὲ αὕτη: ἡ νοερά, ὡς ἐπὶ ̓Αγγέλων, ἐξ αὐτω̂ν τω̂ν νοημάτων ἀλλή- λοις συγγινομένων. λογική, ὡς ἐπὶ ἀνθρώπων δι' ὀνομάτων καὶ ῥημάτων τὰ ἀφανη̂ τη̂ς ψυχη̂ς κινήματα πρὸς τοὺς ἐκτὸς δημοσιεύουσα: αἰσθητικὴ δὲ ἡ ἐν τοι̂ς ἀλόγοις θεωρουμένη: πρὸς γὰρ τῃ̂ θρεπτικῃ̂ καὶ αὐξητικῃ̂ καὶ γεννητικῃ̂ δυνάμει καὶ τὴν αἰσθητικὴν κέκτηται: φυτικὴ δὲ ἡ ἐν τοι̂ς φυτοι̂ς: κινου̂νται γὰρ καὶ αὐτὰ κατὰ τὴν θρεπτικὴν καὶ αὐξητικὴν καὶ γεννητικὴν δύναμιν: ἄψυχος δέ, ὡς ἐπὶ τω̂ν λίθων, καθότι καὶ αὐτοὶ κινου̂νται κατὰ τὸ ποιὸν καὶ κατὰ τὸ που̂: καὶ κατὰ τὸ ποιὸν μέν, κατὰ τὸ θερμαίνεσθαι καὶ ψύχεσθαι, κατὰ τὸ που̂ δέ, κατὰ τὴν ἐκ τόπου εἰς τόπον ἑτεροκίνητον μετάθεσιν.

Headword: Φύσις
Adler number: phi,864
Translated headword: nature
Vetting Status: low
[Nature] is[1] that which both holds the world together and which makes things on the earth grow. Or as follows: [nature is] a condition which is moved by itself in accordance with the seminal reasons, that which completes and holds together the things coming from it at determined periods of time, and which performs those activities from which they are distinguished. And nature aims at utility, as is obvious from craftsmanship of heaven.[2] Or nature is a principle of the whole, it is both the motion and rest of each existing thing.[3] For example, earth is set in motion in the process of growing, breeding and, in general, being altered. However, it rests in the change from one place to another, even though it is completely unmovable and pathless. Now they call 'nature' the substantial principle (that is to say the 'natural') of such a motion and rest, namely the principle that inheres in earth not incidentally. But they have not called 'nature' the motion itself and the rest of things, but 'principle', that is 'cause', in virtue of which substances are set in motion and rest not incidentally but substantially.
But when the Apostle says 'we were the offspring of anger by nature'[4], just like the rest, he does not express in this assertion the meaning of nature (since the accusation would be against the one responsible for doing it); what he means is the abiding, long time and worst disposition: a perverse intimacy.
Greek Original:
Φύσις ἐστὶν ἥ τε συνέχουσα τὸν κόσμον καὶ ἡ φύουσα τὰ ἐπὶ τη̂ς γη̂ς. ἢ οὕτως: ἕξις ἐξ αὑτη̂ς κινουμένη κατὰ σπερματικοὺς λόγους, ἀποτελου̂σά τε καὶ συνέχουσα τὰ ἐξ αὐτη̂ς ἐν ὡρισμένοις χρόνοις καὶ τοιαυ̂τα δρω̂σα, ἀφ' οἵων ἀπεκρίθη. ταύτην δὲ του̂ συμφέροντος στοχάζεσθαι, ὡς δη̂λον ἐκ τη̂ς οὐρανου̂ δημιουργίας. ἢ φύσις ἐστὶν ἀρχὴ τω̂ν ὅλων, τη̂ς ἑκάστου τω̂ν ὄντων κινήσεώς τε καὶ ἠρεμίας. οἱ̂ον ἡ γη̂ κινει̂ται μὲν κατὰ τὸ βλαστάνειν καὶ ζῳογονει̂ν καὶ τὸ ὅλως ἀλλοιου̂σθαι: ἠρεμει̂ δὲ κατὰ τὴν ἐκ τόπου εἰς τόπον μετάστασιν, ἀκίνητος οὐ̂σα παντελω̂ς καὶ ἀπόρευτος. τὴν οὐ̂ν ἀρχὴν τη̂ς τοιαύτης κινήσεώς τε καὶ ἠρεμίας οὐσιωδω̂ς, ἤγουν φυσικω̂ς, καὶ οὐ κατὰ συμβεβηκὸς τῃ̂ γῃ̂ ἐνυπάρχουσαν, φύσιν καλου̂σιν. οὐ τὴν κίνησιν δὲ αὐτὴν καὶ τὴν ἠρεμίαν τω̂ν πραγμάτων φύσιν εἰρήκασιν, ἀλλὰ τὴν ἀρχήν, τουτέστι τὴν αἰτίαν, καθ' ἣν οὐ κατὰ συμβεβηκός, ἀλλ' οὐσιωδω̂ς αἱ οὐσίαι κινου̂νται καὶ ἠρεμου̂σιν. ὅταν δὲ λέγῃ ὁ ̓Απόστολος, καὶ ἠ̂μεν τέκνα φύσει ὀργη̂ς, ὡς καὶ οἱ λοιποί, οὐ κατὰ του̂το τὸ σημαινόμενον τη̂ς φύσεως λέγει: ἐπεὶ του̂ ποιήσαντος ἂν ἠ̂ν τὸ ἔγκλημα: ἀλλὰ τὴν ἔμμονον καὶ κακίστην διάθεσιν καὶ χρονίαν, πονηρὰν συνήθειαν.

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27 Posts

Posted - 04 Dec 2006 :  07:42:41  


Dear Giovani,

It is a joy and a delight to endure "pain" for the sake of others, especially for the sake of understanding, both theirs and our own. I learned a great deal working with students in a seminary who had English as a second language. I invite the challenge.

Next I want to say, foremost is to be remembered that, regarding Cyril of Alexandria, "It was not in the controversies that he learnt of Christ; rather was it his deep knowledge of the Saviour that drew him into these doctrinal struggles in which the very reality of the Incarnation was at stake." (This was from Manual of Patrology and History of Theology by F. Cayere, translated by H. Howitt), Paris, Tournai, Rome, Society of St. John the Evangelist Desclée & Co. 1940, printed in Belgium. Vol 2 , p. 21. Another quotation from the same source (p.33) I'd like to share with you is, "He trusted especially to the Scriputres and Tradition for the establishment of his doctrine, and it is this that makes him a true Doctor, of astonishing power."

Therefore, Giovani, I'm glad you read Cyril of Alexandria. I must confess that I have not read him directly, I've only read about his teachings. What you have told us caused me to doubt whether I understood him properly, but going back over my sources I am reminded that his is Orthodox theology, firmly centralized on Jesus, such that anything ascew of that which I thought I might have been getting from what you said he meant cannot be true. (Understand that I realize I may be getting you wrong as much as I may be getting him or anyone else wrong).

Yes, language is a difficult thing, so much is lost in translation. And so much is added, that perhaps might better not have been added. Thus, we are thrown back to the curse (or blessing) of Babel, the division and separation of the families, tribes and nations over the surface of the whole earth ("You need to loosen up and get out more," the Lord seems to have meant in that account in Genesis).

I take it by "nature" you are referring to the Greek word "physis," which has nothing to do with birth, as I understand it (I know that you didn't say that it did). The English word "nature" is born of the Latin "natura" which has everything to do with birth, being linked to the words "native" and "nativity." And while I don't know Italian, I know it derives more from Latin than English does!

But how much more different must be the language of angels, the very language of heaven itself than any human in which we poor sinners are forced to describe the heavenly realities, when we cannot even discern our own! Even in Greek there were two other words that some could consider equivalent to "physis" and they were "hypostasis," and "prosopon," and their definitions, or should I say, how they were used, among the non-believing philosophers of an earlier generation (if not still one contemporaneous with Cyril) -- considering it equivalent to "ousia" -- but all that had been sorted out at Nicaea, at least in the minds of many.

I am glad to hear you are excited about the word "physis," if that's what you mean. There was another word Cyril was excited about, and that was "unity." Specifically the concept of the "unity" ("enoteys" ) of two distinct "natures".

If I understand what you were saying about the larger implications of Cyril's insight, it had to do with God's uniting himself to his creation? I would say, "Yes, this is true!" In Jesus we have the marriage of heaven and earth, Creator and creation. Further in this is that it is the explanation of why there are more than one "person" ("hypostasis") of the "essence" ("ousia") of the Godhead, and why it has to be the second person to both minister the will of the first in creating all, but also be the minister of its unification with Him.

Now, this concept of unification presents problems to the human mind. What do we (or does anyone) mean by it in reference to all this? Let me try this little 21st century analogy. Oxygen is an element, an atom which can cannot be broken down into anything more than the subatomic particles that constitute it, but, as sympy an atom, it is of little use alone. Oxygen which is breathable comes as a molecule, consisting of a unified pair of Oxygen atoms, for which reason it is abbreviated O2 (the latter in subscript). With that in mind, know that the most abundant element in the as yet knowable universe is Hydrogen (naned for "water," incidentally, and sometimes I wonder if it isn't what Moses was referring to when he describes the original water of creation in Genesis 1:2). Again, it is not much use to us on its own, but unite two atoms of it to one of Oxygen in the same way that two Oxygen atoms unite to make breathable oxygen molecules, and we have H2O! And this "substance" accounts for 70% of our human body weight, and, just co-incidentally, covers 70% of the planet Earth's surface! Without it, there is no life.

But what has occurred as a result of these unifications? Has there been a change in any of the components? No, no change of identity, only a "change" in availability to the rest of the universe, for whatever that may be worth. Worth a lot, if it is water we're talking about.

Another analogy one could use is the unification between zygotes (or "gametes," another word). We must remember that this also is a discovery that wasn't made until the twentieth century. The male nand the female gamete unite to immediately blosom as a new individual of the species. On the surface, it would appear that a true change has occurred, two seeds (or rather, one seed and its fertilizer) unite to form, not a seed but an individual. Here we are above the molecular level and into the cellular level, but we must remember that even here, what we have with gametes are a peculiar variety of cell, called "haploid," meaning "half-like." In other words, not whole cells. So, what we really have are two halves uniting to make a whole. Analagous to this, in my opinion is what we have when two Oxygen atoms unite to form an Oxygen molecule, each atom being one half of it. ONe wouldn't be seeing a "change" here, so, every analogy breaks down somewhere along the line, but I would consider that we see a "change" in the unification of two haploid gametes (and I would generally refer to the human species, and I know that there are some species which do not reproduce in this fashion, but don't want to be led to far afield from what I'm really talking about, and that is Cyril, and how he enlightened us with his fifth century concept of the unification of the two distinct natures, the one created, the other creating, in Jesus Christ (the anointed of God).

But anytime we contemplate the glory of all this, we must in my opinion, remember the patristic distinction between God's essence and his energies. I have to be careful here lest I be found to blaspheme, talking about things of which I know little, if anything at all. I must carefully say that as I understand Cyril, it is only in Jesus that God is united in essence. In essence, all three persons of the Trinity are united with each other, but their common presence throughout creation is "energic," not "essential." That is, God in all three persons is present in his (their) energies in everything created and being sustained, but not there in his essence. This knowledge is needed to free us from any Romaniticist flights of fancy bordering on idolatry we might fall into.

I think I've got that right but will sit at the feet of the Fathers for correction.

Finally, I appologize for the utter length of this post, and realize that I may have made myself hard to understand, but I will gladly answer any questions anyone has regarding what I've tried to say.



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45 Posts

Posted - 04 Dec 2006 :  21:15:37  


For the Greek word ΦΥΣΙΣ, it is related to the latin nascor (to be born) in Greek it is ΦΥΩ, same root.
For unity, it is true that S. Cyril is very impressed by it, it is a question of Aristotelic philolosophy, see voice ΕΙΣ of the INDEX ARISTOTELICUS, this voice has six submeanings, each divided in several sub-submeanings.
As far as unity mantaining diversity is concerned we can recall Aristotles, METAPHYSICS 1016b14ss, the example of shoes (of Aristotle's times, something like sandals), the philosophers says that when its parts lie apart they are not an unity but they are one if and when they are unitited to form the sandals.
So it is in Christ, parts at first separated but united to form a unity. I think that Aristotle thinks that if there is a unity, there must, also be one only nature, if there is not one nature there not unity.
Anyhow Arsistotle treats all the concept of Nature, Ypostasis, Unity etc. so one can find rich explanations and references to them in the INDEX ARISTOTELICUS. Note that H. Bonitz employed 25 years to compile it and he found valid coadiutors, otherwise he would have left unfinisched his work. It is still on print and sale, at a dear price, if you are connected with some institution they should have it, otherwise yours is no serious learning institution
St. Cyril says two very interesting things, about one nature
-it looks well so to those who are well learned in these matters. (WHY CHRIST IS ONE), so he refers explicity to other philophers, namely Aristototle.
- he says that may be one not only what is simple, but also what is composite, so you see the example of shoes or sandals. (WHY CHIST IS ONE)

If you read his works, you find very ample quotation from Greek pagan writers, he was very well versed in them. You mind that of the seven Councils of the first millenium has been redacted acts, I mean verbals, with dates, places, texts of what has been said by everybody and signatures with names of Bishops who attended, they so testify all (more than one hundred Bishops) that what has been said is really written there.
In effect, with 313 d. C. the Church comes out from Catacombs, and, what is more important his helped by State bureucracy, so all its proceedings, form that date has been put in writing like in juditiary processes (State Tribuanls) with stenographers, verbalizants, signatures. Note that this is the only method which can iìnsure truth and reliabity, specially after that time has elapsed. So the Holy Scripture have not been written in this way, no verbalizant, no signature, dates, people who can testimony that things really were that way, so nobody can say anything about what is written in them. It is like Maomet, he was in the desert, saw ALLAH who dictated him the Coran. Nobody can put a testimony of this.
Well S. Cyril was a man of State, he lived in the Ancient World with its legal culture, he saw the problem, nobody can put a testimony, like in justice court, that what thast is written in the Holy Scripture really happened, so he solved the thing and put everything in good order.
Unluckily he is very difficult and has been misunderstood.
Further to it there has been this division of the Oriental and Occidental Churches, but I think that was a necessity, the Occidental has, from a thousand years, completily misunderstood St. Cyril.

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