The mystery of Christ in the works of St. Cyril of Alexandria

  1. Lemma
  2. Το μυστήριο του Χριστού στα έργα του Αγίου Κυρίλλου Αλεξανδρείας
  3. English
  4. Koutalis, Vangelis
  5. Orthodox theological tradition and practice > Patristic studies - Orthodox Anthropology - Ecumenism and dialogue > Westernism and anti-westernism - Modes of interaction > Antagonism - Scientific theories and disciplines > Modern physics :QM
  6. 28-11-2018
  7. Anicic, Jovan [Author]. The mystery of Christ in the works of St. Cyril of Alexandria
  8. Το μυστήριο του Χριστού στα έργα του Αγίου Κυρίλλου Αλεξανδρείας - Thessaloniki: Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Faculty of Theology, School of Theology, 2016.
  9. Cyril of Alexandria - gnoseology - Christian anthropology - christian approach to history - Christology - Greek philosophy - Nestorius - Orthodox doctrine of the Uncreated and the Created (Άκτιστο-Κτιστό) - Incarnation
    1. <p>Anicic, Jovan (2016). <em>Το μυστήριο του Χριστού στα έργα του Αγίου Κυρίλλου Αλεξανδρείας </em>(Doctoral dissertation). Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Faculty of Theology, School of Theology.</p>
    1. The author of this dissertation attempts, through a detailed reading of the texts of Cyril of Alexandria, to highlight the coherence of Cyril’s Christological approach, and to ascertain its impact on the subsequent theological debates, its later repercussions in the schisms in Christianity, as well as its implications for Orthodox anthropology and the Orthodox conception of the limits of rational consciousness.

      In the first chapter, the author examines the ways in which Cyril’s theology, and even more particularly Cyril’s Christological doctrine of the unity of the two natures in the person of the Divine Word, was received, interpreted, and evaluated in Western theology, from the Patriarch of Constantinople, John Beccus (thirteenth century), and Thomas Aquinas, to present-day Western theologians. Beccus and early Western scholastic theologians resorted to an interpretation of Cyril’s texts favorable to their own theological convictions, especially with regard to the question of Filioque. They failed to properly assess the close affinity between the theological views of Cyril and those of Athanasius of Alexandria and of the Cappadocian Fathers, as for the interrelations between Christology and Soteriology – a theological affinity which could lead Cyril to a precise distinction between the nature/essence and the hypostasis/person of God. Aquinas’ reading of Cyril’s Christology, and his understanding of the distinction between nature and hypostasis, contributed significantly to the development of Western theology, but it was only recently that the Western misrepresentations concerning Cyril began to be reconsidered.

      The second and the third chapter are devoted to the life and work of Cyril. In the second chapter the author reconstructs the historical background of Cyril’ intellectual activity, in which the antagonism between the episcopal sees of Alexandria and Antioch, and the development of two different corresponding theological methodologies, played a formative role. The third chapter, apart from describing in some detail the main stages of Cyril’s life and his intellectual evolution, draws also attention to the influence of Athanasius and the other Fathers of the early Church on Cyril, and the place of Cyril’s theology along a line of continuity in the early Christian thought. The theological controversies, and the anti-Nestorian polemic, left indeed a deep imprint on Cyril’s work, but a common thread throughout his theology is his insistence that the divine economy, the management of the world by God in time, the unfolding of the divine plan of salvation, has a Christological touchstone, relies on the event of the Incarnation.

      Cyril’s theology is more thoroughly reviewed in the fourth and fifth chapter of the dissertation. According to the author, the transition from unfaithfulness to faithfulness, which is treated as a qualitative change analogous to the transition from ignorance to knowledge, serves as a starting point for the theological project of Cyril. At the center of Cyril’s gnoseology lies the salvatory movement of God within history. The unity of the divine nature with the human nature, which is at the core of the Christological mystery, is also at the core of the Orthodox faith, because, in contrast to the eternal cosmos of the ancient Greek philosophy, the world as experienced by a Christian believer is a creation that is being renewed by the revelation of God in time, and has yet to be fulfilled through the unity of the Created with the Creator. In the person of Christ an interaction between the Created and the Uncreated took place that revealed the deepest reality of human life and its purpose. The truth of humanity is inextricably linked with the dynamic relationship between God and the human beings. Nestorius believed that no communication between God and the human beings is possible. For Cyril, instead, the event of the Incarnation signalizes the climax of this communication, which is accomplished through the divine love. Human nature, united with the divine nature in the person of God, acquires the power to go beyond its natural proneness to decay and death.

      The sixth and final chapter deals with the dialectical relationship between the Created and the Uncreated in the works of Cyril, the pattern of the activity of God within history, and the limits of the rational consciousness. In ancient Greek cosmology the reality of world is depicted as eternal and unchanged. Only the phenomena are susceptible to change. Time, in which decay takes place, either is essentially circular, as is the case in the philosophy of Plato, or is conceptualized as a phenomenal reality, dependent on the changes that can be detected by the human soul and its sensory apparatus. By entering into the realm of time, which Aristotle defined as the number of change, or the order in which change occurs, material beings step out of their essential existence and step into the actuality, into the evanescent “now” of human perception. Contrary to the ancient Greek cosmological views, in the Old and the New Testament the idea of an eternal God necessitates the idea of a world which evolves, which has a beginning and tends towards an end, a movement which is the realization of the divine plan of salvation. Many modern scientists, on rational grounds, tend to discard both the notion of divine eternity and the notion of the temporality of the divine intervention in the world. Modern physics seems to be oblivious of the conceptualizations provided by the Patristic theology as for the relationship between God, time, and space, and modern epistemological thought, by rejecting the revelatory movement of God within history, and being indifferent to the mystagogical process towards the transcendence of perishability, runs in parallel with ancient Gnosticism and other heretic movements. Cyril’s theology brings to the forefront the fact that the coming of Christ into the world opens for humanity the possibility of a new way of life in accordance with the existence of the three persons of the Triad, and the reality and the meaning of this fact cannot be assessed through rational consciousness, but through the actual participation in the existential struggle to renew humanity and the mystagogical process towards the unity of the Created and the Uncreated.