Severus of Antioch: A collection of letters from numerous Syriac manuscripts (1915). Letters 1-61
I. -------- OF THE SAME 1 A LETTER TO OECUMENIUS 2 THE COUNT 3, ABOUT PROPERTIES AND OPERATIONS, WHICH IS OF THOSE WRITTEN BEFORE EPISCOPACY. [508-12 AD]
We also have in the God-inspired Scripture supplies of humility, and 508-12. no lack of arguments to bring us down and help us to keep silence. If you, as if you were about to go up to Mt. Sinai, shrink from writing 'to such a man' (referring to me), and think fit to use David's words which he says to those who were urging him to take Saul's daughter in marriage, «Is it a small thing in your eyes that I should be son-in-law to the king?»4, while I am a poor man and inglorious, I also, when required to make answer to your question, make use of these words: «I am not a prophet, nor the son of prophets, but I am a shepherd, and a scraper of sycamore fruit»5, if it is not too much for me to say even this: for I am not worthy to tell the righteousnesses of God, and to take his covenant in |4 my mouth6. However, since the time of the present struggles does not allow silence, I accept an honourable defeat from you, and turn to the question. And in this I defeat you, since I show that you do not practise humility in a philosophic spirit7. As to your statement that the holy old men called bold speech8 fire or warmth, I say this, that we must not use this method of speaking without discrimination, but there are occasions for using it and circumstances to which to apply it. Our Lord in the Gospels in many parables teaches us in the case of spiritual petitions to knock without ceasing and display a praiseworthy audacity. And the saying of the Proverbs also instructs us that 'there is shame which brings sin, and there is shame which brings glory and grace'9. Know then, mighty man, (for I now return to make answer) that for us to anathematize those who speak of properties of natures (I mean the Godhead and the manhood of which the one Christ consists) is not permissible. Flesh does not renounce its existence as flesh, even if it has become God's flesh, nor has the Word departed from his nature, even if he has been hypostatically united to flesh which possesses a rational and intelligent soul: but the difference also is |5 preserved, and the propriety in the form of natural characteristics of the natures of which Emmanuel consists, since the flesh was not converted into the nature of the Word, nor was the Word changed into flesh. We mean in the matter of natural characteristics, and not that those which were naturally united are singly and individually separated and divided from one another: this is the assertion of those who cleave our one Lord Jesus Christ into two natures. For, since the union in hypostasis is acknowledged, it follows that those which were united are not separated from one another; but there is one Son, and one nature of God the Word incarnate himself, as the holy Cyril also says in the work against Diodorus: «Let him know therefore that the body which was born at Bethlehem, even if it is not the same as the Word from God and the Father (I mean in natural characteristics), yet nevertheless became his, not anyone else's separate from the Son: and there is recognised to be one Son and Christ and Lord and Word who took flesh» 10. Those therefore who confess one incarnate nature of God the Word, and do not confuse the elements of which he consists, recognise also the propriety of those that were joined in union (and a property is that which |6 exists in the form of a manifestation of natural differences), and not that we should ascribe the acts of the manhood only to the human nature, and impute again those of the Godhead separately to God the Word, but they recognise the difference only, not admitting a division: for the principle of union does not admit of division. Hear what the holy and wise doctor Cyril says in the second volume11 of the work against the blasphemies of Nestorius: «For between Godhead and manhood I also allow that there is great distinction and distance. For the things which have been named on the principle of manner of existence are clearly different, and in no point like one another. But, when the mystery in Christ is introduced among us, the principle of union is not oblivious of difference", but rejects division, not by mixing or commingling the natures with one another, but that, after the Word of God has partaken of flesh and blood, he is even so understood and named as one Son» 12. But, if Emmanuel is one, consisting of Godhead and manhood which have a perfect existence according to their own principle, and the hypostatic union without confusion shows the difference of those which have been joined in one in dispensatory union, but rejects division, both the elements |7 which naturally belong to the manhood have come to belong to the very Godhead of the Word, and those which belong to the Word himself have come to belong to the very manhood which he hypostatically united to him. On this subject we will again adduce the sacred words of Cyril. In the prosphonetikon to the religious king Theodosius he spoke as follows: «As therefore it came to belong to the humanity to be the Only one, because it had been united to the Word in a dispensatory union, so it came to belong to the Word to be 'the first-born among many brethren'13, because of the union with flesh»14. Gregory the Theologian15 also in the letter to Gledonius wrote words which agree with him as follows: «As the natures are mingled, so also are the appellations; and they run into one another on the principle of coalescence»16. Do not let the term 'mingle' disturb you: for he used it very clearly and without danger5 with the intention of denoting the primary union: for, where there is a union of something incorporeal with a body, no danger17 anywhere arises from mingling. For this is manifestly a quality of fluid bodies, to be confounded together by intertwining, and, so to speak, come out of their nature. We therefore anathematize not |8 those who confess the properties of the natures of which the one Christ consists, but those who separate the properties, and apportion them to each nature apart. When the one Christ has once been divided (and he is divided by the fact that they speak of two natures after the union), with the natures which have been cut asunder into a duality and separated into a distinct diversity go the operations and properties which are the offspring of this division, as the words of Leo's impious letter state in what he said: «For each of the forms effects in partnership with the other that which belongs to itself, the Word doing that which belongs to the Word, and the body performing the things which belong to the body» 18. Against these things it is well to set the much-honoured words of the holy Cyril which refute impiety. In the Scholion about the coal he speaks as follows: «Nevertheless we may see in the coal as in a figure that God the Word was united to the manhood, but has not cast off being that which he is, but rather changed what had been assumed or united into his glory and operation. For, as fire when it takes hold of wood and is introduced into it, prevails over it, and does |9 not make it cease being wood, but rather changes it into the appearance and force of fire, and performs all its own acts in it, and is already reckoned as one with it, so understand in the case of Christ also. For, since God was ineffably united with manhood, he has preserved it as what we say it is, and he himself also has remained what he was. But, after he has once been united, he is reckoned as one with it, appropriating its qualities to himself, but he himself also carried on the operation of his nature in it»19. If 20 then the Word changed the manhood which he had hypostatically united to him, not into his nature, for he remained that which he was, but into his glory and operation, and things which manifestly belong to the flesh have come to belong to the Word himself, how shall we allow that each of the forms performs its own acts? But we must anathematize those who confine the one Christ in two natures and say that each of the natures performs its own acts. Between the things performed and done by the one Christ the difference is great. Some of them are acts befitting the divinity, while others are human. For example, to walk and travel in bodily form upon |10 the earth is without contention human; but to bestow on those who are maimed in the feet and cannot walk upon the ground at all the power of walking like sound persons is God-befitting. Yet the one Word incarnate performed the latter and the former, and the one nature did not perform the one, and the other the other; nor, because the things performed are different, shall we on this account rightly define two natures or forms as operating. Again the Tome of Leo says: «For each of the natures preserves its own property without diminution» 21, distributing the properties to the two natures severally, as one who divides the one and only Christ into two natures. For the property of the natures of which Emmanuel consists, which is shown in the natural characteristics, continues constant and fixed, as the holy Cyril also says in the second letter to Succensus: «But, while each of them both remains and is perceived in the property which is. by nature, according to the principle which has just been enunciated by us, the ineffable and incomprehensible union has shown us one nature of the Son, yet, as I have said, an incarnate nature»22. But God the Word did not permit his flesh in all things to undergo the passions proper to it, in order that its |11 property might be preserved undiminished, as the impious disputer said. For observe what the wise doctor Cyril says, in answer to the objections made by Theodoret, in the defence of the tenth anathema: «When the lowness arising from the exinanition seems hard to you, wonder greatly at the love of the Son toward us. For, what you say is a mean thing, this he did voluntarily for your sake. He wept in human fashion, that he might take away your weeping. He feared by dispensation, inasmuch as he sometimes permitted his flesh to undergo the passions proper to it, that he might make us valiant»23. If he sometimes permitted his flesh by dispensation to undergo the passions proper to it, he did not preserve its property undiminished: for in many instances it is seen not to have undergone the things which manifestly belong to its nature; for it was united to the Word, the Maker of nature. The Word therefore who had become incarnate walked upon the sea, and after his death under the wound of the lance caused a stream of salvation to well forth from his side: again, after the Resurrection, he came in while the doors were shut, and appeared to the disciples in the house; whom he also allowed to touch him, showing that his flesh was tangible and solid, and of one essence24 with us, and was also |12 superior to corruption; and thereby he subverted the theory of phantasy. It belongs therefore to those who part the one Christ into two natures and dissolve the unity to say, «For each of the natures preserves its property unimpaired». But those who believe that, after God the Word had been hypostatically united to flesh that possessed an intelligent soul, he performed all his own acts in it, and changed it not into his nature (far be it!), but into his glory and operation, no longer seek the things that manifestly belong to the flesh without diminution, to which flesh the things that manifestly belong by nature to the Godhead have come to belong by reason of the union. But, if they senselessly divide it from God the Word by speaking of two natures after the union, it then walks in its own ways following its nature, and preserves its properties undiminished on the principle of the impious men. But these things are not so (how could they be?), but indeed very different: for union rejects division, as the holy Cyril said: «For, though it is said that he hungered and thirsted, and slept and grew weary after a journey, and wept and feared, these things did not happen to him just as they do to us in accordance with compulsory ordinances of nature; but he |13 himself voluntarily permitted his flesh to walk according to the laws of nature, for he sometimes allowed it even to undergo its own passions»25. For from Cyril's words, as from a sacred anchor, I do not depart. And the same statement is made by Gregory the Theologian26 of Nazianzus also in the sermon on baptism: «For he is purity itself, and did not need purification; but he is purified for you; just as for you he put on a garb of flesh, while he is fleshless: and he would have run no danger at all from putting off baptism; for he himself was a warden of passion to himself» 27. Accordingly then28 he was a warden to himself of hungering as well as of being tired after a journey, and of accepting the other human passions, such as do not fall under sin, in order to display the Humanization truly and without phantasy 29. Of what we have said this is the sum; that we must anathematize those who divide the one Christ: and they divide him by speaking of two natures after the union, and consequently apportioning the operations and properties between the natures. Accordingly good doctrine is contained in the30 ---- of the serene king: for it anathematizes those who divide the one Son who was |14 hypostatically united to flesh into two natures, and the operations and properties of the same two natures: for thus also says the impious Theodoret: «How does he range under impiety those who divide the properties of the natures of God who is before the ages and of the man who was assumed in the last days?» 31 I have written these things though I am poor in intellect and praise the greatness of your God-loving understanding; and because, as you are wise, I give you an opportunity to attain wiser results. Forgive me that on account of the lack of leisure caused by the present struggles I have been late in writing. Greet your honoured consort, who is a partner and a helper in the affairs of God.
The end of the first letter to Oecumenius the count.
II. -------- OF THE SAME THE SECOND LETTER TO THE SAME OECUMENIUS THE COUNT UPON THE SAME MATTER, AND IT IS AMONG THOSE WRITTEN DURING EPISCOPACY. [513-8.]
I wonder how it is that your God-loving magnificence has picked |15 up again from the beginning the contention that had been put to silence. While confessing Emmanuel to be of two natures, to suppose the elements of which he consists to be generalities covering many hypostases (this is what is meant by the property of a generality) is a thing that is very abominable and inept, and one that confirms the charge falsely disseminated against us by the impious: for we are found to be imagining two natures before the union according to their account; for there would be the whole of humanity and of course the Godhead also, even before the Humanization of the Word. And these matters would need further conversation by word of mouth, not written words in a letter, which are subject to considerations of brevity, and bring danger32 to the writer, wherever any unusual name or unelaborated phrase is inserted in the document. You know what words that lead to rocks you have used in your recent composition, and, though admitting that you do this as a concession, you have still done it. But to us, who by ordinance from above and mercy have attained to this priestly office, it does not bring honour to take such ill expressions in our mouth and consign them to writing: for it is written, |16 «The lips of a priest will guard knowledge, and they will ask law from his mouth»33. Wherefore Paul also, who was taken up to the third heaven, and heard ineffable words34, knowing the difficulty of words of this kind, urged the believers to make earnest and constant prayer that speech might be granted him with eloquence35. Since then these things are so, and we decline to employ a multitude of words, which as a rule do not escape sin36, I will use shortness of speech to your wisdom and knowledge, and ask you a very easy question. Do you call the flesh possessing an intelligent soul, which God the Word voluntarily united to himself hypostatically without any change, a specimen or a generality, that is one soul-possessing hypostasis, or the whole human generality? It is manifest that, if you wish to give a right-minded answer, you will say one soul-possessing body. Accordingly we say that from it and the hypostasis of God the Word the ineffable union was made: for the whole of the Godhead and the whole of humanity in general were not joined in a natural union, but special hypostases. And the holy and wise Cyril plainly witnesses to us in that in |17 the third chapter 37 or anathema he spoke thus: «Whoever divides the one Christ into hypostases after the union, associating them in association of honour or of authority only, and not rather in junction of natural union, let him be anathema» 38. And again in the Scholia the same says: «Hence we shall learn that the hypostases have remained without confusion»39. Accordingly the natural union was not of generalities, but of hypostases of which Emmanuel was composed. And do not think that hypostases in all cases have a distinct person assigned to them, so that we should be thought, like the impious Nestorius, to speak of a union of persons, and to run counter to the God-inspired words of the holy Cyril, who in the second letter to the same Nestorius speaks thus: «But that it should be so 40 will in no way help the right principle of faith, even if some men spread about a union of persons. For the Scripture did not say that God the Word united to himself the person of a man, but that he became flesh» 41. When hypostases subsist by individual subsistence, as for instance, those of Peter and of Paul, whom the authority of the apostleship united, then there will be a union of persons and a brotherly association, not a natural junction |18 of one hypostasis made up out of two that is free from confusion. For this is what those who adhere to the foul doctrines of Nestorius are convicted of saying with regard to the divine Humanization also. They first make the babe exist by himself separately, so that a distinct person is even assigned to him, and then by attaching God the Word to him impiously introduce a union of persons into the faith. This Gregory the Theologian 42 also rejected by saying in the great letter to Cledonius: «Whoever says that the man was formed, and God afterwards crept in is condemned: for this is not a birth of God, but an escape from birth»43. But, when hypostases do not subsist in individual subsistence, as also in the case of the man among us, I mean him who is composed of soul and body, but are without confusion recognised in union and composition, being distinguished by the intellect only and displaying one hypostasis made out of two, such a union none will be so uninstructed as to call one of persons. Though the hypostasis of God the Word existed before, or rather 44 was before all ages and times, being eternally with God both the Father and the Holy Spirit, yet still the flesh possessing an intelligent soul which he united to him did not exist |19 before the union with him, nor was a distinct person assigned to it 45. And the great Athanasius bears witness, who in the letter to Jovinian the king says: «As soon as there is flesh, there is at once flesh of God the Word; and, as soon as there is soul-possessing and rational flesh46, there is at once soul-possessing rational flesh of God the Word46: for in him also it acquired subsistence»47. And the holy Cyril also testifies, addressing the impious Diodorus as follows: «My excellent man, I say that you are shooting forth unlearned words much affected with what is abhorrent. For the holy body was from Mary, but still at the very beginning of its concretion or subsistence in the womb it was made holy, as the body of Christ, and no one can see any time at which it was not his, but rather simple as you say and the same as this flesh of other men»48. Following these God-inspired words of the holy fathers, and confessing our Lord Jesus Christ to be of two natures, regard the distinct hypostases themselves of which Emmanuel was composed, and the natural junction of these, and do not go up to generalities and essences49, of the whole of the Godhead and humanity in |20 general: for it is manifest that the whole of the Godhead is seen in the Trinity, and humanity in general draws the mind to the whole human race. How therefore is it anything but ridiculous and impious for us to say that the Trinity was united in hypostasis to the race of mankind, when the holy Scriptures say more plainly than a trumpet, «The Word became flesh and dwelt in us»50, that is that one of the three hypostases who was rationally and hypostatically united to soul-possessing flesh? But neither do we deny, as we have also written in other letters on different occasions, that we often find men designating hypostases by the name of essence51. Hence Gregory the Theologian named hypostatic union union in essence51 in the letter to Cledonius which we have just mentioned, speaking thus: «Whoever says that he worked by grace as in a prophet, but not that he was united and fashioned together with him in essence, may he be bereft of the excellent operation, or rather may he be full of the contrary»52. And the wise Cyril in the second letter to Succensus calls the manhood which was hypostatically united to God the Word essence51, saying: «For, if after saying 'one nature |21 of the Word' we had stopped and not added 'incarnate', but set the dispensation as it were outside, they would perhaps in a way have a plausible argument when they pretend to ask, 'Where is the perfection in manhood? or how was the essence after our model made up?' But, since the perfection in manhood and the characteristic of our essence has been introduced by the fact that we said 'incarnate', let them be silent, since they have leaned upon the staff of a reed» 53. But saying that Emmanuel, is from two essences54 also, as we confess him to be from two natures, even if one understand the essences 54 as hypostases, we avoid, as a thing that is unscientific, and has not been stated in so many words by any of the God-clad fathers: for in such matters we must avoid novelty, even if it has some religiousness about it, and with the psalmist-prophet be preserved in the tent of caution, and be hidden by grace from on high, even from the contention of tongues55.
These things we have written in epistolary style, though we are in the midst of many troubles, and of many tens of thousands of kinds of cares. But it rests with your truth-loving and God-loving soul to inform us by letter if you have given up the doubts, and if what we have written appeared |22 to have been well stated, Know that the religious deacon Anatolius 56 has abandoned this opinion, and, though late, has thanked us.
III. -------- OF THE SAME FROM THE 5th LETTER TO OECUMENIUS, WHICH BEGINS, «When I read the letter addressed to the God-loving Peter the presbyter 57». [513-8]
It is not confessing the particularity of the natures from which Emmanuel comes that we avoid, so long as we maintain the unity without confusion (the particularity is that which is expressed in natural characteristics), but distributing and dividing the properties to each of the natures 58.
IV. -------- OF THE SAME FROM THE LETTER TO SIMUS THE SCRINIARIUS, WHICH BEGINS, «Unless I had some great affection for your illustriousness». [513-8(?).]
[After first citing the passage of Basil which says, «'Unbegotten' is a characteristic of a form of being, not of essence 59 » 60, he speaks as |23 follows] 61. But, if we interpret the saying rightly from the clear teachings of the saints and of the other fathers, the meaning becomes plain, and there is nothing contradictory or dime alt in it: for 'being' here expresses the distinct hypostasis of the Father. For the fathers said that the Holy Trinity exists both in one essence 62, and in the being of each, that is, three hypostases, existing severally, of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
V. ---- OF THE HOLY SEVERUS, FROM THE LETTER TO EUSEBIUS THE SCHOLASTIC, WHICH BEGINS, « Since you have raised objection against me through your letter». [513-8 (?)]
But now also we will come to what is required, and, we will again say, that 'essence' 62 signifies a generality, and 'hypostasis' a particularity, but 'being' and 'nature' introduce sometimes a general signification, sometimes a partial or particular one. This is stated on account of the varying use that is found in the holy fathers: for you knew both that 'essence'62 is sometimes employed in the particular signification of 'hypostasis ', and occasionally also |24 'hypostasis' is found employed in place of 'essence' 63. For this reason we decline to use such a signification as being unscientific.
VI. ---- OF THE HOLY SEVERUS, FROM THE LETTER TO MARON, OF WHICH THE BEGINNING IS, «When Naaman the Syrian». [513-8 (?).]
Enough has, I think, been said about essence 63 and hypostasis. But the name 'nature' is sometimes taken in place of essence', sometimes in place of hypostasis. For even the whole of mankind we call comprehensively 'nature', as it is indeed written: «For all natures of beasts and of birds, and of reptiles and of things that are in the water are subjected and are made subject to human nature»64: and again we speak of one nature in reference to a single man, Paul for example or Peter, or maybe James. Where therefore we name all mankind one nature, we use the name 'nature' generically in place of 'essence' 63; but, where we say that there is one nature of Paul, the name 'nature' is employed in place of 'individual hypostasis'. So |25 also we call the Holy Trinity one nature, employing the term 'nature' in place of the general designation 'essence' 65; as Gregory the Theologian the bishop of Nazianzus also said in the sermon on the Holy Pentecost: «Confess the Trinity to be of one Godhead, my friends; or, if you like, of one nature; and we will ask for you from the Spirit the expression 'God'»66. But, when we say 'one incarnate nature of God the Word', as Athanasius the prop of the truth and the apostolic faith said in the books on the Incarnation of the Word 67, we use 'nature' in place of 'individual designation', denoting the one hypostasis of the Word himself, like that of Peter also or of Paul, or of any other single man. Wherefore also, when we say 'one nature which became incarnate', we do not say it absolutely, but by adding 'one nature of the Word himself clearly denote the one hypostasis. But the very men who blasphemously call the one Christ two natures use the name 'nature' in place of 'individual designation', saying that the Word of God is one nature, and the man as they say from Mary another. For they do not reach such a height of fatuity as to say that they are using the name 'natures' in place |26 of 'general designation', I mean in the same sense as essence 68: for, if the Holy Trinity is one nature, and all mankind one nature, in the same sense as anything which is shown to be so on this principle, the Holy Trinity will be found (to say a very absurd thing) to have become incarnate in all mankind, that is the human race.
Of the same, from the letter to Maron, which begins, «When Naaman the Syrian».
But the Holy Scriptures instruct 69 us otherwise, teaching us that God the Word one only of the three hypostases became incarnate and humanized. For 'the Word became flesh, and dwelt in us' 70.
Of the same, from the letter to Maron the reader, which begins, «When Naaman the Syrian».
But, when you hear these things, you will perhaps say that we ought not to have spoken of difference between the natures from which Emmanuel is, lest we ourselves be found to be repeating and using the same expression as these proud men. Accordingly, let us also refrain from confessing the union, |27 because they also profess to speak of a union which consists in an association of honour; and, because they speak of two natures after the union, let us also not say that the union was made from two natures, rejecting even the very mention of natures, like silly children, who tremble at terrifying alarms that are fictitious and invented, as if they were truth, and flee to their mothers' bosoms. If on account of the blasphemies contained in the opinions of those men we yield to them words and names which establish the truth, together with the sound of the words the great mystery of religion 71 goes from us. But, if we be right-minded, we shall both religiously hold to the words and cast out the foul opinions as evil speaking.
Of the same, from the letter to Maron, which begins, «When Naaman the Syrian ».
You see that we must also confess the difference between the natures from which the one Christ is, and avoid the cutting into two, and extol one Son and Christ, and one incarnate nature of God the Word. |28
VII. ---- OF SEVERUS, FROM THE LETTER TO MARON, WHICH BEGINS, «When some time ago I received the letter of your religiousness». [513-8 (?)]
Accordingly it is the same thing to say that God the Word was united to flesh possessing an intellectual soul in nature and in hypostasis and in essence 72.
VIII. ---- To MARON. [513-8 (?).]
Perfection is not found in anything by nature, except in God only.
IX. -------- OF OUR FATHER SEVERUS, FROM THE LETTER TO MARON. [513-8 (?).]
But the power of the unconfused and initial union preserved those that were united beyond the reach of disturbance, and caused the two of them to exist in one hypostasis and one person, and one incarnate nature of the Word.73 |29
X. ---- OF THE HOLY SEVERUS, FROM THE LETTER TO ELEUSINIUS 74, WHICH BEGINS, «As the great Moses appeared». [516-8]
Where then we confess the one out of two, Lord and Son and Christ, and one incarnate nature of the Word himself, we understand the difference as it were in the natural characteristics of the natures from which Christ is. But, if we speak of two natures after the union, which necessarily exist in singleness and separately, as if divided into a duality, but united by a conjunction of brotherhood (if we ought to call such a thing unity), the notion of difference reaches to the extent of division, and does not stop at natural characteristics.
Of the holy Severus, from the letter to Eleusinius the bishop, which begins, «As the great Moses appeared».
But, since it is a habit of the enemies of the truth to hurl accusations at |30 us of things which are the opposite of their evil opinions, and to charge us with holding some mixture or blending or confusion or phantasy in the divine and ineffable Humanization, after common deliberation we have decided to make clear by a limitation and distinction what was stated by you without limitation. You say of the mystery of Christ that you do not recognise the difference of the natures, nor yet their individuality, since with 'difference' you understand also 'division'. Hence also you clearly laid down the following by way of a canon: «When therefore we seek to separate and distinguish rational nature from irrational, and suprasensual from perceptible, and created from uncreated, together with the difference between these things we also make a separation and division». These statements have been made by you as well and wisely as possible, that, where there is rational and irrational, or perceptible and suprasensual, or created arid uncreated, each of them remains by itself, and appears in its own hypostasis, that is, has an individual and separate and distinct existence; for here with difference is understood also division, and again from the difference of the qualities which naturally belong to each singly we recognise |31 division. When therefore out of things that differ in kind and are not of one essence 75 with one another, the suprasensual I mean and the perceptible, a combination or natural union takes place in order to make up one animal, as we see in the case of a man, the division into two ceases, for of this the notion of unity does not admit, but the difference and individuality as it were in the natural characteristics of the elements which have come together into one is preserved, since the body has not refused to be body, nor has the soul passed into the nature of the body. The same thing, and something higher, is understood with regard to Emmanuel also.76
XI. -------- OF THE SAME FROM THE LETTER TO ELEUSINIUS THE BISHOP, WHICH BEGINS, «In wrestling-contests». [516-8.]
But, since you have thought fit to ask me what is the difference that appears in natural characteristics, I mean of the natures from which Emmanuel is, I will explain clearly and not conceal. (And a little farther on.) For |32 Cyril the truly holy and wise after writing in the letter to Acacius, «Godhead and manhood are not the same thing in respect of natural characteristics» 77, in the second volume 78 against the blasphemies of Nestorius writes as follows, as if explaining the meaning of the expression: «For between Godhead and manhood I also allow that there is great distinction and distance: for the things which have been named are clearly different, and in no point like one another» 79. This then is the difference that appears in natural characteristics, the different principle underlying the existence of Godhead and manhood 80: for the one is without beginning and uncreated, and bodiless, and intangible, while the other is created, and subject to beginning, and temporary and tangible, as being flesh and solid. This difference we in no wise assert to have been removed by the union.
Of the same from the letter to Eleusinius which begins, «In wrestling-contests».
It was sufficient to banish this unseemly supposition, that 'difference |33 in characteristics' was not stated absolutely, but the word 'natural' was added, which declares the fact that it is only by the intellect and by subtle investigation that we can know of what kind each of the natures is which have combined in the unity and made up one hypostasis and manifestly declare that Emmanuel is one out of two opposite things, Godhead I mean and manhood, as Gregory the Theologian 81 said, «Let distinctness be maintained in the unity»82.
Of the same from another 83 letter to the same Eleusinius, which begins, «In wrestling-contests».
How then, after these things have been written by me, is it not plain to everyone from the words used by the wise Cyril that division also is then understood to accompany difference, when the separate natures or hypostases exist individually, not when one person and one incarnate nature or hypostasis of God the Word is made up by coalescence from two? That the holy Cyril says that separation or division is then joined with difference |34 when the natures exist apart and by themselves is testified by the addition made to the words cited above from the prosphonetikon oration.
Of the same from the letter to Eleusinius, which begins, «In wrestling-contests».
And do not tell me that the holy Cyril alone used the expression in this sense; but observe with sound intelligence that he does not step outside the apostolic faith; for Gregory the Theologian also spoke words that are in accord with him in the passage which we have just cited above. And, if none of the God-clad fathers before him in fact spoke in so many words of unity in hypostasis with reference to the Incarnation of God the Word, yet still all the lovers of the right faith accepted it, inasmuch as it sets forth the splendour of the mystery of the divine Humanization, and it agrees with the opinion of the doctors of the church. Therefore also that wretched and impious Theodoret speaks thus in the objection to the 2nd anathema: «Unity in hypostasis we do not recognise at all, as being strange and alien to the divine Scriptures, and to the doctors who expounded these» 84. |35
XII. ---- OF THE HOLY SEVERUS, FROM THE LETTER TO ELEUSINIUS. [513-8.]
But perhaps someone will say that, when the wise Basil said, «Grace arising from the dispensation» 85, he referred to the coming in the flesh. But let us know clearly that the Word of God, even before he rose upon us in fleshly form, constantly controlled 86 our life and our salvation; for 'in him we live and move and exist'87: for the name 'dispensation' is not applied to the grace of the Humanization among us only. And Gregory the Theologian 88 is a witness of this when he says, «The other appellations etc.» 85.
XIII. ---- OF THE HOLY SEVERUS FROM THE LETTER TO ESTORECHIUS (?) 89 BISHOP OF ANAZARBA, ABOUT THE DISPUTATION THAT TOOK PLACE IN THE ROYAL CITY, FROM THOSE BEFORE EPISCOPACY, WHEN HE WAS SPEAKING AGAINST MACEDONIUS BISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE. [508-11.]
But know that the great Basil did not call Christ a God-clad man (far |36 be it!), but called Christ's flesh God-clad flesh. But the same immediately afterwards termed the same flesh Christ-clad 90. But if the expression 'God-clad' and 'Christ-clad' is the same, the conclusion is that Christ the Word who became incarnate and was humanized for our sakes is true God, not a God-clad man.
XIV. -------- OF THE SAME FROM THE SOLUTION OR DEFENCE IN ANSWER TO THE 15th QUESTION OF THOSE THAT WERE SENT TO HIM BY THOMAS HIS SYNCELLUS 91. [513-8.]
We therefore judge that which was desired by those who assembled at Chalcedon against the truth, to banish the confession that Christ is to be recognised as from two natures, and to introduce instead the confession that he is to be recognised as in two natures, as the company of Nestorius desire, to be abominable and also impious, and we will never propound the same teaching (?) as those who, in order to open the gates to the doctrines of Nestorius, .....92 so we also require the opposite, that the one be openly proclaimed, and the other completely suppressed and banished in accordance |37 with the laws of the holy church. For let the means of remedy be introduced by the same similar drugs as those by which it was desired to produce the sickness; and let us not neglect things that are so manifest, and go about and pick out, or search as among reeds, and seek if anywhere in the writings of the holy fathers of the orthodox 93 we occasionally find 'difference' or 'in two' or 'from two' indiscriminately and incautiously stated. Indeed in the 11th book of the interpretative narrative of the Gospel of John the holy Cyril used the expression 'in two' of the separate hypostases as follows: «Everywhere and under all circumstances there will follow and coincide with the knowledge concerning the offspring the knowledge also concerning him who begot him; as indeed the converse also is true. But, if the statement is true and is unhesitatingly received, that the Father is understood together with and enters together with the Son, and the Son also with the Father, and the knowledge of each of them runs in the two, how can the Son be a creature, as. some impious men say?» 94; even as no one says that the name and fact of division and union are the same, as they themselves indeed suppressed the one and stated the other. |38
XV. ---- OF THE SAME, FROM THE LETTER TO THOMAS HIS SYNCELLUS, IN WHICH HE SHOWS THAT IT IS THE SAME THING TO SPEAK OF THE UNION IN CHRIST AS FROM TWO NATURES AND FROM TWO HYPOSTASES. [513-8.]
For those hypostases or natures, being in composition without diminution, and not existing separately and in individual existence, make up one person of one Lord and Christ and Son, and one incarnate nature and hypostasis of the Word.
From the same letter after a citation 95 from Cyril.
From what has been stated the doctor teaches that the peculiarity of the natural union is that the hypostases are in composition and are perfect without diminution, but refuse to continue an individual existence so as to be numbered as two, and to have its own person impressed upon each of them, which a conjunction in honour cannot possibly do. |39
From the same letter after a quotation from Cyril.
It is plain therefore that the natures or hypostases, if they are not combined in one in hypostatic union without confusion, do not make up one Christ and Son and Lord, and one incarnate nature of the Word and one person.
XVI. ---- OF SEVERUS FROM THE LETTER TO THOMAS THE SYNCELLUS. [513-8.]
Since therefore these things have thus been made clear, it has already been recognised that it is alien to those who confess a hypostatic union to call the hypostases, that is the natures which in an ineffable manner coalesced in one, from which Emmanuel is, persons, and therefore to think and say that the union is from two persons. To say this belongs to those who confess a falsely-named union, who make the man and God exist apart in individual existence, and devise for themselves a conjunction founded upon authority and identity of name. |40
XVII. ---- TO THOMAS THE PRESBYTER.
For the true fast is a life pure from every evil act, and that we should break bread for those who are hungry.
XVIII. -------- OF THE SAME FROM THE LETTER TO THE MONKS AT TUFA, WHICH BEGINS, «When I read the letter of your love of God». [513-8(?).]
For we must confess the one our Lord Jesus Christ, out of two natures the Godhead and the manhood, to be one and the same invariably and unconfusedly God and man, since not being again divided aftert he union; for duality is a dissolver of unity, although it is obscured by countless devices. For he who has been united is fixedly one, and does not become again two. For Christ is not divided, but is one person, one hypostasis, one incarnate nature of God the Word. |41
XIX. ---- OF THE HOLY SEVERUS, FROM THE LETTER TO ISIDORE, THE BEGINNING OF WHICH IS, «I rejoiced greatly when I received the letter of [your] Christ-loving illustriousness». [508-11 (?)]
The doctors called the Holy Trinity co-essential, that through this word, composed in so polished and very sublime a way, they might express both the fact of the oneness of essence1 and that of the division of hypostases, by the same expression both union and division, in one word. For, when the Son is said to be co-essential with the Father and the Holy Spirit, he claims to share in essence 96 with those who are recounted, but to differs in hypostasis.97
sXX. ---- OF THE HOLY SEVERUS, FROM THE LETTER TO ISIDORE THE COUNT.
On this point we find that the accurate doctors celebrate the Trinity in 508-11 (?). one essence 96 which is the Godhead, but consequentially confess that this consists of three hypostases. |42
XXI. -------- OF THE SAME, FROM THE LETTER TO ISIDORE THE COUNT, WHICH BEGINS, « From the letter of your religious and learning-loving magnificence». [508-11(?).]
But may the Lord of the seeds, who by coming in the flesh shone upon us, and came to cast good seed upon the earth, the one of the Holy Trinity, who together with the Father and the Holy Spirit is theologically defined98 and glorified (for in these things Godhead consists to us, or rather 99 these things are Godhead) multiply in you many times the seed of religion, especially because you are inflamed with watchfulness, burning with divine zeal, against the seed of heretical tares.
XXII. -------- THE TEACHER OF THE TRUTH SAID THEREFORE IN THE LETTER TO JOHN AND JOHN PRESBYTERS AND ARCHIMANDRITES 100 AND THE REST, THE |43 BEGINNING OF WHICH is, «After I had written in answer to the previous communication of your holinesses as follows». [519-20.]
But I hear that the Romans say, «We are afraid to call him who suffered for us in the flesh one of the Trinity, lest we subject the Holy Trinity to numeration». But this is full of utter ignorance and impiety, and is a pretext of men who seize pretexts for sins, or of those who know not what they say and about what they affirm 101, as Paul the apostle somewhere says about certain persons. The Holy Trinity is capable of numeration in respect of hypostases; but, in that it is one and of the same essence 102, it stands outside number.
(And again a little lower down.) Accordingly therefore the Romans, who are very wise, are infected with profound error, not knowing that in essence 102 the Trinity is incapable either of numeration or of division, but in respect of hypostases it is both divided and separated, in order that distinctness may be maintained in the individual likenesses of the Father and |44 the Son and the Holy Spirit. But at those who resemble the Romans both in impiety and in ignorance, the Jebusites 103, I am greatly surprised, since they have in clumsy fashion and by a new and very crass expression named the Holy Trinity a Trinity of hypostases' 104. A word compounded in this way I have never till this day heard; for it leads us to understand that three glorified hypostases do not exist apart, but one that takes three forms and changes now into the hypostasis of the Father, now into that of the Son, now into the hypostasis of the Holy Spirit, and that it is one, but changes person 105 as in a theatre 106, and speaks or acts now as from the person 105 of the Father, now as from the person 105 of the Son, now as from the person 105 of the Holy Spirit, as the witless Sabellius the Libyan was pleased to hold.
XXIII. ---- AGAIN OF THE SAME, FROM THE LETTER TO THE PRESBYTERS AND ARCHIMANDRITES, JONATHAN AND SAMUEL AND JOHN, WHO WERE STANDING |45 ON PILLARS, AND ALL THE REST OF THE ORTHODOX 107 WHO ASSEMBLED IN THE CHURCH OF THE CITY OF AN BAR, AND IN THE CHURCH OF HIRTHA DNU'MAN. [519-38 (?).]
For he said, «Go make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son, and the Holy Spirit» 108; so that there is aHoly Trinity, divided and distinct in hypostases, but not divided in one essence 109 and Godhead, and kingship and glory and eternity and the other attributes which God has by nature. For the Father has one thing hypostatically, fatherhood, and the fact that he is unbegotten; and the Son again has one thing hypostatically, sonship, and the fact that he was begotten by the Father; and the Holy Spirit again has one thing, the fact that he was not begotten, but proceeds eternally without beginning from the Father: for in virtue of these things distinctness of person belongs to each one of them, that is, is marked out and defined for the hypostases, but all the other attributes are, as I have said, common, equal in honour and undivided, and such as show that we for our part have believed in one God, and in one |46 essence 109, and he exists and is made known in three hypostases. For the Son was begotten by the Father, and the Spirit proceeds from the Father, although eternally and without time, and their ascent is to him, as to a root and source, and from him they are, though they are not after him. And for this reason, while we confess three hypostases, we do not believe in three first causes, but one first cause, and one kingship. After pursuing the matter so far we praise only and do not investigate what the unbegottenness of the Father is, or what the generation of the Son is, or what the procession of the Holy Spirit is; for these things are known only by the Father who begot and the Son who was begotten, and the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father: but he requires us to know 'through these things that we are to confess one essence 110 and Godhead, made known in three distinct hypostases.
XXIV. ---- OF THE HOLY MAR SEVERUS, FROM THE LETTER WHICH HE WROTE TO JOHN THE CHRIST-LOVING ROMAN 111, SHOWING WHAT IS SIGNIFIED BY A PERSON BEING DIPPED THREE TIMES, AND WHY CHRIST CAME TO BAPTISM WHEN HE WAS 30 YEARS OLD; AND HE SHOWS FURTHER WHAT IS THE NATURE |47 OF THE CONFIRMATION BY OINTMENT 112 WITH WHICH THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN BAPTIZED ARE CONFIRMED AFTER BAPTISM.
For the same baptism is both performed in the name of the Holy Trinity, and by the triple dipping it is further signified that the man who is baptized is buried with Christ.
Of the same to John the Roman on the fact that holy baptism is performed in the name of the Trinity, and by the person being immersed three times within the water it is signified that he is buried with Christ, and why Christ came came to baptism when he was 30 years old.
For that the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit should be named on the occasion of baptism ......... For how [can] they who have not participated in flesh nor been humanized ......... the only Son and Word who was begotten by the Father? For there are indeed many rites that are performed, and ......... look to the same origin. |48 But each ........., so that even the understandings are confused. Of this I ..... in one of my treatises which I wrote . . . about interpretations. There after examining the question why the Lord came to baptism when he was 30 years of age in the flesh I said at one time that it was in order to show that the new birth begets men full-grown in reasonable age, for so also the first man was created full-grown, and immediately as full-grown received a commandment and a law, and was given permission to till and keep Paradise, and the words which follow113; and at another that by means of three periods comprised in three decads which make 30 years he signified the mystery that was revealed on the Jordan, that one Godhead is made known in three complete hypostases, by which holy baptism in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit was to be performed. That these things introduce no confusion Gregory the Theologian in the sermon on the Passover states as follows: «The Lord's passion2, the passion2, and again I say the passion114, in honour of the Holy Trinity»115; though I know that no other |49 undertook the saving passion on our behalf in the flesh except God the Word, who became incarnate for our race. For the whole of the saving Humanization has this effect, that the mystery of the Holy Trinity is revealed to us, although you speak of the birth in flesh, or of the Gross or of the burial, or of the Resurrection from among the dead, dividing the Humanization into many elements. For indeed in each of these we confess that we know the Trinity, in that we indicate upon our faces that the sign of the revered Cross is a dissolver of every evil influence; and, when therefore we sign ourselves, we sign three times, and we show that it is through the Gross that we have obtained knowledge in the Trinity. And this sign is a thing which makes known and completes all things that are done among Christians; and it is everywhere adopted, at the performance of baptism, at the consecration of water, at the celebration of the rational, spiritual sacrifice, and at the symbolic and ineffable ordinations to the priesthood of those who are duly appointed to the sacred ministry, though in all these things we do not call upon one of the hypostases only, that is God the Word who |50 was humanized, but on the three together, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, indicating that it is by the power of the Cross that we have partaken of all these things and have obtained knowledge in them116.
XXV. ---- OF THE HOLY SEVERUS, THE LETTER THAT WAS WRITTEN BY HIM TO THE EMESENES. [512-8.]
To the devout presbyters and orthodox117 deacons, and to the rest who compose the holy order 118 of the clergy 119, and to the magnificent and Christ-loving magistrates of the city, and to all the people of the holy church, Severus greeting in our Lord.
To those who are not wise in their mind or are otherwise without intelligence, and are lacking in true instruction, the holy Scripture gives the proper rule and place, in order that their emptiness of mind and lack of instruction may be turned to wisdom: for indeed it commands those who are such both to learn and to ask, or to be silent altogether; for the holy book |51 of Proverbs somewhere said: «To the fool who asketh wisdom shall be reckoned: but, when a man maketh himself silent, he is thought to be wise» 120. But the man who keeps this rule it raises and advances, and incites to learn things that are of use and profit, and it says, «Give thine heart to wisdom, and prepare thine ears for words of understanding» 121. I am surprised therefore that the brother whom you mention (out of tenderness for his soul I do not mention his name) did not know his own measure, and, besides not knowing originally the subject on which he was talking, neglected this legally established and salutary rule; and, when he ought to have bent a ear of understanding to those who are wiser than he is, he on the contrary threatened to take the ignorance that is in him to the city of Alexandria, like an invincible warrior, who is able to overcome and take captive all that meet him, and sell them where he likes. Therefore I have both accepted your wisdom in the Lord, which is worthy of the church and very honourable, and your patience, which is such as befits Christians, and have crowned them also with a decree of many praises, since in accordance with the apostolic model you both received and admonished him as your member and brother 122, and brought forward the teachings of the holy fathers. And, |52 whereas you once and twice secretly and openly refuted and corrected him on the points on which he spoke without knowledge, and he was again involved in the same errors, and you behaved like doctors and churchmen, and on all sides seek to gain his salvation, and by actual deeds show that you look to the apostolic commandment which commands, «Let everything be done decently and in order»123, but he, though he was thought worthy to receive so much attention, had no mercy on his soul, and did not restrain himself so as to show moderation and humility, I expressed blame and at the same time showed mercy and still show mercy, since ignorance is free from danger124, for a man is not blamed because he does not know. He is trying to bring upon himself the sin that does not deserve forgiveness, in that he does not yield to those who are wise among the brethren, or seek from wiser men a cure for his ignorance by desire to learn, but pettily searches into things that are unknown and uncertain, and does his best to find men to share his opinions, in order that he may seem to be saying something when he is saying nothing that is sound. But the other things which he said without |53 knowledge he has with difficulty come to honour by silence, in that he assented to the passages from the holy fathers (that were brought before him; and he was reduced to one passage, the words used by the holy Cyril in the second volume 125 against the blasphemies of Nestorius, which are as follows: (( For, because the Word who is from God the Father took flesh and came forth as a man like us, he would not for this reason be also termed a double thing. For he is one, and not without flesh, who in his own nature is without flesh and blood» 126. After you had quoted to him the 127 words used by the doctor, he persisted and said 128 that after his own Resurrection 129 we must confess that God the Word is without flesh 130, inasmuch as he put off that which was without variation and without 131 separation hypostatically united to him, a thing that is beyond all impiety and profanity, so that |54 everyone who has natural (I will not say, spiritual) intelligence must wonder if a fact which is so universally admitted has ever been made a subject of contention, and has 132 passed the lips of anyone who has duly believed in our one Lord and God and Saviour 133 Jesus Christ. If he were skilled in divine doctrine, he should have (to omit everything else) considered the anathemas of Gregory the Theologian, who in the great letter to Cledonius which begins, 'I wonder what this innovation is', clearly lays down these principles in it, «If anyone says that the flesh 134 was now laid down by him, and the Godhead is stripped of a body, and does not confess that he both is and will come with the thing assumed itself, may he not see the glory of his coming. For where is the body now except with him who assumed it? For it has not been laid up in the sun, as the silly tale of the Manichees goes, in order that he may be honoured through the object of contempt, or diffused and dissolved in the air, like the nature of a voice and the wafting of a smell, and the course of lightning that does not stand still. But what becomes of the fact that he was actually touched after the Resurrection, or that he will again some time |55 be seen by those who pierced him? For the Godhead by itself is invisible. But he will come with the body, according to my account, and such as he was seen by, or was shown to, the disciples on the mount, inasmuch as the Godhead easily overcomes the flesh» 135. Who.that reads these words resplendent with truth, and flashing with the rays of the Holy Spirit, will dare to say that the Word of God, who was humanized immutably and without any phantasy 136, is without flesh after the inexplicable and incomprehensible union? Accordingly it is clear that you also have not gone beyond what is fitting in opposing the precipitous error of that man and saying in order to remove him from this error, «The words used by the doctor about the Word of God, In his own nature he is without flesh and blood', refer to the time before the Humanization». Indeed, since he himself said that 'he is one, and not without flesh', how can it be anything but wholly unreasonable, and presumptuous and irreverent, for us to gainsay this, and contend that he is without |56 flesh? But the words which he went on to add, 'who in his own nature is without flesh and blood', plainly introduce this thought, that in his own nature, that is in the Godhead, he has no association with flesh and blood. He did not take the flesh into the fulness of his own divine nature and mix it with it, nor did he mingle it with his own Godhead, but that in the dispensatory assumption we might understand him to be not without flesh, Emmanuel being wonderfully composed and consisting of two elements, the Godhead and the manhood: but even so he preserved the absence, of mixture in the divine essence1, and did not change the essence137 of the Godhead into the nature of flesh. And that this is so I bring as a witness to the accuracy of his doctrines the doctor himself, who by the operation of the Holy Spirit is an accurate doctor. In the first letter to Succensus, when certain men had advanced a similar objection, he expressed himself thus: «Since I found in |57 the memorial an assertion of this kind stated, that since the Resurrection the holy body of Christ the Saviour of us all has passed into the nature of the Godhead, so as to be all Godhead only, I thought it right to speak against this also». And thereupon, after he has above in a brief compass gone through all the statement of the dispensation of the Humanization, he brings against it this argument: «It is impossible for a body taken from earth to endure the change into the divine nature. And, if not, we bring against the Godhead the charge that it is as a thing that is made and as a thing that has taken into it something that is not its by nature» 138. See! how plainly he denies that the divinity of the Word has taken anything into its essence 139 which is not its by nature, though we confess that flesh possessing an intelligent soul was taken by God the Word, and he united this to him hypostatically, but not so that anything should be added to his divine essence2, as if it were deficient (for he is truly complete in everything), but that from the unmixed union of the Incarnation, and the composition out of two elements, the Godhead |58 and the manhood, Emmanuel should be made up, who in one hypostasis is ineffably composite; not simple, but composite: as the soul of a man like us, which by nature is bodiless and rational, which is naturally intertwined with the body, remains in its suprasensual and bodiless nature, but by reason of the composition with the body makes up one composite animal, man. Accordingly the assumption of the body makes no addition to the essence 140 of the soul, but makes up the composite animal, as it is reasonable to understand with regard to the theory 141 of Emmanuel also. The Word did not take the flesh intelligently possessed of a soul in order to complete his being God, as we have said, but that one hypostasis might be wonderfully and immutably made up out of two elements, the Godhead we mean and the manhood, and the one incarnate nature of the Word himself, and one person: for the Word of God, according to the saying of Paul the apostle, partook of blood and flesh after our pattern 142. And that this is so the approved Cyril further shows in the letter to Valerian bishop of Iconium; who wrote as follows: «For God and man did not come together, as they say, and make up |59 one Christ; but, as I have already said, the Word, being God, partook of blood and flesh like us, in order that he may be known to be God who was humanized, and who took our flesh, and made this his, because, as the man who was composed of soul and body is known to be one, so also now 143 he is acknowledged to be one Son and Lord. For one nature and hypostasis of a man is acknowledged, though he is known to be made of diverse and heterogeneous elements: for the body is truly different in nature from the soul; but it belongs to it, and with it makes up the hypostasis of the one man. And in mental conception and in theory the difference of the things that have been named is not obscure, but by combination and concurrence that cannot be cut asunder one animal, man, is made up. The Word therefore, the Only one of God, did not come forth as man by taking a man, but, though his birth from the Father is ineffable, he became man by forming a man 144 for himself through the Holy Spirit which is of one essence with him. Accordingly he is known to be one, though in the theory which is according to reason his own body is different in nature from himself. Let it therefore be everywhere acknowledged that he was not without soul, but that he was possessed of an intelligent soul» 145. Similarly also in the second volume 146 |60 against the blasphemies of Nestorius he clearly teaches that the assumption of flesh did not pass into the Godhead of the Word, but that the Word of God remained in his own nature, and apart from flesh, but by the immutable combination with flesh it was wisely and beyond all reason and understanding brought about that one Christ should be marvellously made up; for he speaks thus: «Accordingly confess one, not dividing the natures, while you know and understand that to flesh belongs one principle, and to Godhead that which befits it only. For we do not say that the flesh of the Word became Godhead, but rather that it is divine as being his. For, as the flesh of a man is called his, on what ground is it not right for us also to call that of the Word divine?» And again farther on: «If therefore he were a wise and intelligent man at all, he should say that the body is from a woman, but confess besides that by being combined in hypostatic union with the Word it has made up one Christ and one Son, and one Lord, who being the same is God and man» 147. The expressions therefore that are used by this genuine and very accurate father, 'for he is one, and not without flesh', and, 'he who in his own nature is apart from flesh and blood', demonstrate |61 this, as is plain from what we have demonstrated, that in the dispensatory conjunction he is not without flesh: for he is one composed of two elements, the Godhead and the manhood, which have a perfect existence in their own sphere; but in his own nature he is known to be apart from flesh and blood, and without a body; not that he mingled flesh with the nature or with the essence 148 of the Godhead, but that he kept the Godhead sublime and pure and unmixed, in the characteristics of its own incorporeal character, as also he did not change the manhood which was hypostatically united to him, but kept it free and without change in its own characteristics. Wherefore also one may see that Nestorius and those who like Jews hold his opinions wish to reject the absence of change of the hypostatic union, and to put confusion into the minds of the believers, while they are everywhere making this charge, that we confess that the body was changed into the divine essence1, and thereby hold one incarnate nature of God the Word, and they say that they themselves only, the wretched, unhappy men, keep the Godhead of the holy Trinity unmixed and pure, by confessing that the man from Mary, as they themselves say, in loving mercy was conjoined to |62 God the Word and shares with him in sonship and divine authority, and by this self-created scruple 149 they make the Trinity a quaternity. And for this reason the wise Cyril shows Nestorius also, who was their leader in this fatuity, speaking thus: «Therefore God the Word is named Christ also, because he has the eternal conjunction with Christ, and God the Word cannot do anything without the manhood: for he knows the coalescence exactly 150, not with the Godhead, as the new wise men amoug the doctors say» 151. And the same man of small intellect weaves the same charge, and in the treatise entitled 'Against the Theopaschites or Cyrillians', which he composed in the form of question and answer, speaks thus:
«The Theopaschite says: 'And how can we be accused of the composition of the Diphysites, we who call Christ one incarnate nature of God?'
The orthodox 152 says: 'Your own refutation, which you think is a defence, itself refutes. For you have confessed that one nature is prepared for Christ, from incorporeality and a body, and a hypostasis with one nature |63 of the incarnation of the Godhead. But this is the confusion of those who have two natures, that the natures themselves are deprived of the hypostases which they severally possess, that are confounded with one another'» 153.
And again farther on in the same treatise:
«The Theopaschite says: 'What do you think of an eggshell (?) of water that has been poured into the sea?' The orthodox 154 says: 'What else except that the unstable addition of the water has disappeared in the great volume of the sea?'
The Theopaschite says: 'Something similar happened also to the flesh: for do not think that the Godhead is smaller than the sea in relation to the flesh as compared with the shifting character of the eggshell'.
The orthodox2 says: 'By «shifting character» do you mean a kind of instability, or the change of that which was swallowed up into that which swallowed it up?'
The Theopaschite says: 'The change of the essence 155 of the body into the Godhead'.
The orthodox2 says: 'The nature of the body remaining, or being dissolved into non-existence?' |64
The Theopaschite says: 'The flesh passing into the nature of the Godhead instead of the essence 156 of flesh'»157.
While very vainly putting together such reasons against the right confession of the Humanization, as I said before, reasons which contend against God, and saying that a man should be worshipped with the Trinity, Nestorius and those who think with him state of themselves that they preserve the unity of nature of the three hypostases unmixed, in that they do not confess that God the Word was hypostatically united to flesh possessing an intelligent soul, and call the union that is so far above nature and immutable and wonderful mingling. Wherefore also Dorotheus, who became bishop of Marcianopolis 158, and belonged to the same Jewish company and party, presented a petition to Marcian's own self at the very beginning of his reign, and found fault with the position 159 held by the bishops, and the sound opinion of the holy churches; and he speaks thus: «Therefore, merciful kings, in consideration of their so ridiculous, that is lamentable, opinions, renew the firm maintenance of the connaturality while it is possible, while there is time, by recalling Nestorius from exile 160, and join together the people of Christ who are divided, lest, |65 as I pray may not happen, the past be repeated» 161. The holy Cyril therefore, having exposed such old people's fables and Jewish tales 162 in every part of his writings, in the first letter to Succensus also, which I mentioned above, said thus: «But it is impossible for a body taken from earth to endure the change into the divine nature; for it cannot be done. And, if not, we speak of the Godhead as a thing that is made, and as a thing that has taken into it something that is not its by nature. For on the score of impropriety it is equal for us to say that the body was changed into the nature of Godhead, and also the other thing too that the Word was changed into the nature of flesh. For, as this is impossible (for he is invariable and immutable), so also is the other. For it is not among possibilities that any created thing can pass into the essence or nature of Godhead. But the body too is a created thing. Accordingly we say that Christ's body is divine, because it is also God's body, and resplendent with ineffable glory, incorruptible, holy, life-giving: but, that it was changed into the nature |66 of Godhead, none of the holy fathers has either thought or said, nor do we ourselves so hold» 163. This fact therefore according to the expression of the doctor, that the body of the Word is resplendent with ineffable glory, incorruptible and holy and life-giving, Gregory the Theologian also in the demonstration contained in the letter to Gledonius demonstrated by saying that the Godhead overcame the incarnation 164. Accordingly the flesh remained flesh, even after the God-befitting Resurrection and Ascension, but adorned with divine and ineffable glory, and with all the excellencies that befit God; and it is divine as something that is the body of God, and it was not changed into the essence 165 of the Godhead. It is in this meaning that the expression of the doctor with which we are now concerned also should rightly be understood that God the Word is one and not without flesh: for he is incarnate by hypostatic union in flesh possessing an intelligent soul (but in his own nature he is without flesh and blood), that is, without mixture |67 with what he possesses in his essence 166 and nature, that is the bodiless and immutable and incomprehensible Godhead.
As for what you say at the end that the man who easily follows illusions (?) 167 and shifts his ground widely said on the advice of certain persons, that we must think of the Word of God in the infinity of his divine essence 166 without flesh, is very foolish and senseless. Even though the Word of God is infinite, the whole of him was united to the flesh that was received from the holy Virgin, the God-bearer and ever-virgin Mary, even the very person of the Word and not a partial operation as in the prophets. How then is it anything but ridiculous for us to say that he who was in the actual divine hypostasis wholly united to a body naturally as well as miraculously is without flesh, even in the greatness of his infinite Godhead168? For 'there is no limit to his greatness' 169, as David said, and he fills everything, and is above everything, and cannot be comprised by anyone. And the subtlety of |68 the mystery cannot be explored by reason and intellect, how the whole of him was in flesh, and the whole of him is in all things and the whole of him is superior to all things and he himself is Ruler of all in infinity. But, that we believe that the very hypostasis of God the Word became incarnate, according to the apostolic tradition of the church that has been handed down from of old, it is superfluous for us to demonstrate by testimonies to those who have once believed in the Gospel, when John who was divine in words beyond the evangelists said, «The Word became flesh and came to dwell in us» 170. How ever, since there is a doubt about it, and in order that we may close the doors against all contention, on this point too let the words of the father himself, I mean the holy Cyril, come to our assistance, who in the defence of the second chapter 171 addressed to Theodoret the deceiver wrote thus: «Since Nestorius therefore everywhere eliminates the birth in flesh, and introduces among us a union of authority only, and says that a man was conjoined to God, who is honoured by identity of name of sonship, in contending against his propositions we were compelled to say that the hypostatic union took place, in which expression |69 the word 'hypostatic' denotes nothing else except this only, that the nature itself or his hypostasis, which is the Word himself, after it has been united to human nature without variation and confusion, as we have often said, is recognised as one Christ [and] is so, the same God and man» 172. After the same fashion in the Scholia also he comes forward with the same words as follows: «'For in him dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily', that is not by assumption simply 173, like light that shines, or fire that imparts its heat [to] the objects near it, but, if we may so say, that the divine and incontaminable nature itself by a true union as I have said made the temple from the Virgin a dwelling-place for that which he is recognised to be. For thus Christ Jesus is recognised to be one» 174. But, that the whole of him was in a body, and was hypostatically united to it, him of whom all things were divinely full, he himself confirms by his own words. For it is written in the Gospel of John also that he said to Nicodemus, «No man hath gone up to heaven, except him who came down from heaven, the Son of man who is in heaven» 175; though he did not come down from heaven in that he became man, for he did not bring the flesh down from |70 heaven, but he received it from the holy Virgin, flesh that is of our race, and of our nature. Nor again, when he was speaking to Nicodemus, was he corporeally in heaven; but incorporeally, in that he is God, heaven and earth and what is above heaven were perpetually full of him. And in the eighth section of the second of the books against 176 Julian the great in demon-worship, which were written by him in defence of the Christian religion, the doctor shows how the Word of God, while he is all in all, was hypostatic ally united to the flesh derived from the holy Mary, and, beyond every creature, filled all things by reception from him (in a suprasensual sense nothing is empty of him), though the infinity of his greatness surpasses and soars above all things that exist with a great space between (how great it is impossible to say): by whom according to the words of Isaiah «all the nations have been reckoned as a drop from a pot, and as the sand of a balance» 177. But the holy Cyril again speaks thus: «He has become, as I said, in the likeness of men, as it is written, and in our human appearance truly. Nevertheless we did not say that he who cannot be comprised was |71 confined, nor that he was inclosed in the limits of the body. For it is utterly silly and complete folly to say anything of the kind of him who is by nature and in truth God. For, while he is one and the only Son, and completely above all human phantasy, the whole of him is in virtue of a gift in every man, and in each [one] by presence, not being divided nor cleft asunder, but [above] everything by nature, and in everything as God. 'But in that all-pure and holy body 'all the fulness of the Godhead bodily has come to dwell', as it is written. And he was as in his own flesh, but still even so he filled all things from him» 178. And in the treatise addressed to the queens the opening words of which are, Those who administer the divine and heavenly preaching', he explains the meaning of the statement that the Word of God and all the fulness of the Godhead came to dwell in flesh as written by Paul in this way: «But we believe that the Word became flesh, not by way of removal or change, but rather that he came to dwell in us, and, to speak correctly, made the body that was in truth united |72 to him, possessing an intelligent soul, his own temple. And the divine Paul, declaring the indwelling of the Word in the holy flesh, or the true union, said that in him all the fulness of the Godhead came to dwell, not so much by way of assumption or presence, or by way of a gift of grace, but bodily, that is in essence; as in the case of a man also it is said [that] his spirit dwells in him, though it is not something different from him»179. How then shall we say [that] he who is wholly in everything by way of gift, and in each man in presence (for he receives all things from him and they depend upon his presence), and who further also is in everything and is nowhere cleft asunder or divided, and further is wholly in the all-holy flesh in essence, and so is united to it, after the fashion in which the soul of a man like us is united to its own body, how shall we say that he is without his own flesh, because he filled all these things with the gift of himself, he who is infinite, and is wholly in everything? But to inquire into such a marvellous subject is a piece of utter foolishness: for glorious things are sealed by faith only. In the other treatise addressed to the religious virgin queens, Arcadia and Marina, which begins, 'The world's boast', the same wise Cyril |73 inserted a demonstration from the holy John who became bishop of Constantinople, who spoke about the God-bearer Mary, and about the birth of God the Word, as follows: «'And instead of a sun she contained without confining the Sun of righteousness. And do not ask how: for, where God wills, the order of nature is defeated. For he willed, he was able, he came down, and he saved. All things run into one for God. To-day he who is is born, and he who is became that which he was not. For, being God, he became man, not by departing from being God; for he did not became man by departure from Godhead, nor did he become God by growth from man: but, being the Word, he became flesh on account of suffering 180, while he remained invariable in his nature'. And he adds to these things: 'He who sits upon a lofty and high throne is laid in a manger. He who is intangible and simple and bodiless is grasped by human hands. He who cuts asunder the bonds of sin is wrapped in swaddling-clothes'»181. And the saintly Proclus who became bishop of the same city in the exposition which he delivered in the church of Anthimus on the feast of the Resurrection spoke to the same effect as follows: «The heaven |74 cries, 'He who became man, who was crucified in flesh, is God: for as God he caused me to incline and came down'. The sun also cries, 'He who was crucified in flesh is my Lord: for I in fear of the light of the Godhead held-back my rays'. The earth also cries, 'He who clothed himself in a body, who was crucified in flesh, is the Maker: for, though I embraced his flesh in a manger, yet I did not confine the might of his Godhead'» 182. It would have been possible to add other things also which are like these and resemble them, but it is superfluous to add to what has been so wisely said, and make the discussion inordinately long. But I pray your holy assembly and lawful church to be of the same mind, as the apostle said 183, and conform to the same rule 184, and, if any disputed point arises, not make this a cause of strife and division, and of useless contentions, but lovingly join with one another in the inquiry. But, if any of you has anything to say, let him speak with humble mind, as the words of God, as Peter the 'chosen apostle gave admonition 185. If anything also needs further explanation, you must not act hastily, nor be in a hurry, but await the proper time, and bring it before the saintly bishops, and accept the healing that they shall apply. As for |75 the brother who gave occasion for this dispute, since we have written these few words, receive him lovingly, and strengthen him, and acknowledge him as your member. And, whether he is one man, or many who were associated with him in this dispute or ignorance, act in the same way towards them: for concerning those who are such the apostle commands us and says, at one time, «Him that is weak in the faith bring near to you»186, and at another, «And reckon them not as enemies, but admonish them as brothers»187. It is not because they made inquiries, or because they were ignorant that they are blameworthy; on the contrary they would actually have been praised, if they had discussed the point with humility, and not with haste and confusion, and with a desire to add to ignorance; for this is what prevented them from being received in regard to the discussion which they raised. However, now that we have written so much, let love vanquish everything, and let not these distressing matters come even into remembrance: for 'love' also, as it is written, 'covers a multitude of sins'188; which love may the God of love and the lawgiver Christ also strengthen in you. |76
The signature. May you be made perfect in the Lord, being sound, and living in the Spirit, and remembering me, our religious and Christ-loving brothers.
XXVI. ---- OF THE SAME, FROM THE LETTER TO JOHN AND JOHN AND THEODORE 189 THE ARCHIMANDRITES. [519-38.]
For the Godhead exists before the worlds and eternally in three hypostases.
XXVII. ---- OF THE HOLY SEVERUS FROM THE LETTER TO JOHN AND THEODORE AND JOHN THE GOD-LOVING PRESBYTERS AND ARCHIMANDRITES, AGAINST THE CODICILS 190 OF THE ALEXANDRINE. [519-38.]
Alexander is manifestly found to say that [man] is in the form of angels, in that he contends that the holy bodies become spiritual bodies, denying the resurrection of the flesh and bones; if 'a spirit [hath] not flesh and bones'191, |77 according to the unerring saying of the Lord. Accordingly it manifestly appears that he preaches contrary to the prophets and apostles and holy doctors of the church, who in revealing fashion taught the words of faith and expounded the God-inspired Scriptures, and outside what we receive, according to the apostle's ordinance 192; and he is under anathema, even if we keep silence.
Of the holy Severus patriarch of Antioch from the letter to John and Theodore and John, the God-loving presbyters and archimandrites, which was written in answer to the Codicils 193 of the Alexandrine.
For we may hear wise men outside also saying, «Not to sin194 at all, and to do everything rightly is of God»195. And we see the divine Scripture also saying of each created thing, «Let there be light, and there was light; and God saw the light that it was good»; and again, «Let there be so-and-so and there was; and God saw that it was good»; and after everything together so to speak which he called forth and which answered, «God saw |78 all that he had made and lo! it was very good» 196. How then can anyone say that things which are good both in themselves severally, and because they fit together with one another and make up one world, are a sin on God's part? If so be they are a sin, they are not good: but, if they are good, they are not a sin. But, if by reason that they are corruptible, therefore they are a sin, yet rather, as a certain wise man says, «God created everything that it might come into being, and salutary are the creations of the world, and there is no poison of corruption in them; and Sheol hath no kingdom upon earth» 197. Again, if the first man had kept the commandment, and not gone astray after sin through the serpent's deceitfulness, and lost the grace of immortality, having voluntarily drawn death upon himself, then creation itself also would have continued, acquiring for its own self the grace of immortality from God: for in accordance with the condition 198 in which we are for whose sake it came into being its parts also pass away. For this reason then, when man himself was condemned to death, it itself also served corruption and 'was made subject to vanity' 199, as the apostle says; but it hopes further to gain with us what it had from |79 the beginning: and it will have continuance without corruptibility when we are admitted to the resurrection and the kingdom of heaven: for the most wise Paul himself also cries, «Creation itself also shall be freed from the bondage of corruption, into the freedom of the glory of the children of Gods» 200.
(And after other things).
But, my good friend, neither indeed did God make the world in order that it might be corrupted, for 'salutary are the creations of the world', as you have heard; but, since it is of a very fluid nature, he on the contrary brought it into being in order that it might partake of incorruption; for indeed 'even creation itself shall be freed from the bondage of corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God'. For what logic is it, tell me, that rational man who sinned of his own accord should according to your argument be raised to incorruption, while creation which is inanimate and without perception, which for his sake was made subject to vanity, should be delivered to final destruction, and not partake of the incorruptibility and the glory of those for whose sake it was made |80 subject to corruption? For that the world shall be consummated is manifest according to the faith in the divine Scriptures: for that the rudiments which compose this visible creation will not pass into absolute non-existence, but will be changed into something better, Paul testifies when he says, «The form of the world passeth away» 201, and not 'this world', and Peter also testifies when he writes, «The heavens shall be dissolved with fervent heat, and the elements shall burn and collapse» 202. (But those in whom righteousness dwells look for new heavens and a new earth according to his promises.) And before him David sings about the heavens the passage also, «They all shall grow old as a garment, and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed» 203. Words agreeing with these were written by the Theologian Gregory also, in the sermon on the funeral of his brother Caesarius, as follows: «But why am I faint-hearted about the hopes? Why do I become a man of time? I await the voice of the archangel, the last trump, the transformation of heaven, the changing of the earth, the emancipation of the elements, the renovation of the whole world. Then shall I see Caesarius, no longer departing, no longer carried, no longer |81 being mourned for, no longer being pitied, bright, glorious, exalted, even as you have often appeared to me in a dream, O most brother-loving 204, and most brother-loving; either as I have wished to depict thee, or in reality» 205. And the most wise John, the expounder of the divine words, in the commentary on the epistle to the Hebrews speaks as follows: «And besides this he demonstrated another thing also worth attention 206 in parabolic form: for he also denoted the transformation of the world by saying, 'As a garment shall they grow old; and as a vesture thou shalt fold them up, and they shall be changed'; a thing which he also states in the epistle to the Romans, that he shall transform the world: and setting forth the easiness he added that, as a man may fold up a vesture, so shall he fold them up . and change them. But, if he effected the transformation and the creation into something better and higher so easily, for the creation of something worse he needed another; how long will, you not be ashamed?» 207. And in the commentary on the epistle to the Romans he gives an account of this matter in very complete form, writing as follows : «'For the expectation of creation', he says, 'looks for the revelation of the sons of God. |82 For creation was made subject to vanity, not of its own accord, but because of him who subjected it in hope'. For what he says is something like this. 'This same creation suffers great pain expecting and hoping for the good things which we have just mentioned. But expectation is earnest looking'. But, in order that the account may be clearer, he also personifies the whole of this world, as the prophets too do, when they introduce rivers clapping hands, and high places leaping, and the mountains dancing; not that we may understand these to be animate, nor that we may assign any reason to them; but that we may learn the abundance of the good things, so that it reaches even to things without perception. And they often do this same thing in the case of distressing things also, introducing a vine lamenting and wine and mountains, and the roofs of the temple crying, that from this again we may understand the greatness of the evil things. But, imitating these, the apostle personifies 208 creation and says that it groans and suffers pain; not because he had heard any groan come from earth and sky; but that he may show the abundance of the future good things, and the desire of escape from the prevailing evil things. 'For creation was |83 made subject to vanity, not of its own accord, but because of him who subjected it'. What is 'Creation was made subject to vanity'? It was made corruptible. Why and wherefore? On account of you the man. For, since you received a body that is mortal and passible, the earth also received a curse, and produced briars and thorns. But, that heaven together with the earth will grow old and eventually pass to the better ending, hear the prophet saying, 'In the beginning, Lord, thou laidst the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of thine hands. They shall perish, but thou endurest; and they all shall grow old as a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed'. And Isaiah, demonstrating these things, said, 'Observe heaven above and the earth beneath; because heaven hath been solidified as smoke, and the earth shall grow old as a garment; and they that dwell therein shall perish like them'. You have seen how 'creation was made subject to vanity', how also it shall be freed from corruption; for the former said 'As a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed', and Isaiah said 'They that dwell therein shall perish like them', not 209 speaking of utter destruction, for neither shall the men who dwell in it undergo such as this, but the temporary destruction, and through that very thing they shall pass to |84 incorruption, just indeed as by saying 'like these things' he pointed to creation itself, that is the universe 210, just indeed as Paul also says farther on. However for the present he is speaking about its subjection and showing why it was made of this kind, and assigning us as the reason. What then? Was violence done to it in that it underwent these things for another? Not at all; for it was indeed made for me. How then is a thing which was made for me injured when it undergoes these things for my reformation? But, to look at it in another way, we ought not even to raise the question of justice and injustice with respect to things without life and perception. But Paul because he personified it uses none of the arguments that I have stated, but by another method of reasoning sets himself superfluously to comfort the hearer. But what was it? 'What say you? It underwent evil things for you and has become corruptible. But it lost nothing; for it shall also become incorruptible again through you': for this is the meaning of 'in hope'. But, when he says, 'It was not made subject of its own will', he does not say this to show that it is possessed of thought, but that you may learn that |85 everything was brought about by the will of Christ, and the one is not a reformation of the other. But he stated also in what hope. 'Because creation itself also shall be freed'. What is 'itself also'? That not you, but it also, even a thing that is far inferior to you, and that does not partake of reason and perception, this also shall partake with you in the good things. For it 'shall be delivered', he says, 'from the bondage of corruption'; that is, it shall be no longer corruptible; but it shall follow the beauty of your body. For, as, when it became corruptible, creation also became the same, so, when it is rendered incorruptible, creation also as well shall again follow; to denote which indeed he added, 'into the freedom of the glory of the children of God '» 211.
But, inasmuch as the Alexandrine is a stranger and a barbarian to the divine Scripture, and is not accustomed to the teachings of this Scripture, he thinks that God is a creator of corruption, and he calls the world his sin; a thing that is of fluid nature, but is honoured by the grace of incorruptibility together with man for whose sake also it was made. It was not as a sin of God that Christ reformed the world's subjection also that was for man's sake, that he might bring in one set of |86 things in place of another, as this wicked and deceiving man says; in place of bodies that had been delivered to death the immortality of spirits, and in place of the corruption of the world eternal incorruptibility, and in place of abundance of sins abundance of right acts; but in order that he might raise man, who had fallen, and by erring been stripped of the grace of God through which he had immortality, to the original state, through the resurrection of the bodies into incorruption, by which this world also shall partake of the freedom and the glory, as we have written.
(And after other things.)
But from the investigation you have plainly recognised his corruption on every point, and his spuriousness in the matter of faith; in the theology which concerns the Father and the Son mingling of hypostases (since he has cast behind him the godlessness of Sabellius the Libyan); in the Incarnation of the Only one phantasy and change, and the other things that do away the true Humanization and fight against our salvation; in the Resurrection lessening of hope, and denial of the resurrection of bodies; in the creation of the visible world, a blaspheming tongue that under the appearance of good will arms itself against the wise Creator and Maker, |87 and that utters follies akin to those of Mani the madman and Marcion (for well was he named Mani from mania, that is, from madness, who is the founder of the Manichees, who are most exceedingly foul). But that these confused opinions are rejected and anathematized by the holy Church, and those who were the originators of them, there is none among Christians who does not confess. Accordingly therefore it is manifest that Alexander, inasmuch as he has agreed with all these opinions, shares the anathema of each one, being subject to many sentences or punishments 212.
XXVIII. -------- OF THE SAME FROM THE 7th LETTER OF THE 1st BOOK OF THOSE BEFORE EPISCOPACY, IN WHICH IS CONTAINED A PRINCIPLE ACCORDING TO WHICH THOSE WHO SAY THAT GOD EXISTS IN HUMAN FORM ARE APPROVED IN THEIR ACTION (?). [490-512.]
But, if we in some place hear Scripture say 'the Lord's eyes', we understand God's activity, which is signified through the term 'eyes'. And, when again we hear of ears, we understand the propensity and inclination that he has toward us, and that he has the attribute of mercifulness, and that |88 he brings our service to completion; for Scripture speaks to our weakness in human and condescending fashion. And, because it is said that God has wings also, yet we do not understand that he has wings, but that his sheltering power is signified through these; for, since we are Christians, we must understand the divine Scriptures spiritually, not according to the letter.
XXIX. ---- OF THE HOLY SEVERUS FROM THE 63rd LETTER OF THE 2nd BOOK OF THOSE WRITTEN DURING EPISCOPACY, TO ANTONINUS BISHOP OF BERRHOEA 213. [513-8.]
But we hear of the said Mara that he said this also as well, that the holy Virgin did not feel the birth, in manifest opposition to the Holy Spirit and to the Scriptures which were spoken by him. The loud-voiced among prophets, Isaiah, shows that he came forth from the bond of virginity like anything else, and he was ineffably born without rending her from Mary the God-bearer, saying thus, «Before she that travailed bare, and before the |89 pain of the travail came, she escaped and bare a male child» 214. The fact that she escaped shows that the birth took place with perception on the part of her who gave birth, and not in phantasy 215. So Gregory the Theologian also in the sermon about Easter says of the birth of the babe when it is born: «But she also cried 216 from the compulsion of the virgin and maternal bonds, with great power, when a male child was born from the prophetess, as Isaiah announces» 217. How could the fact that she cried from the compulsion and did not rend the bond of virginity happen without perception, and not with such great perception as this oh the part of her who bare? And these things took place ineffably and beyond everything. He who wished to come truly in all our attributes, and to be made like to us his brethren without sin, was . certainly born in fleshly fashion by a manifest and true birth, causing perception in her who bare, free from all pain and suffering; for the prophet proclaims that she gave birth before the pain of the travail came. For how was she to be subjected to the trial of pains and anguish, who put an end to the bearing of children in anguish through the fact that joy was born for the whole race of men? For, «Lo!», he says, «I announce unto you great |90 joy, that is to all the people, that there hath been born to you to-day a Saviour, who is the Lord Christ» 218.
XXX. ---- OF THE HOLY SEVERUS, FROM THE LETTER TO THE PRESBYTER VICTOR 219, BECAUSE SOMEONE WHEN READING WITH THE SAME VICTOR IN THE BOOK OF THE SAME PATRIARCH SAID TO HIM THAT IT IS NOT PROPER TO SAY THAT THE BREAD WHICH IS CONSECRATED UPON THE HOLY ALTARS, WHICH IS THE BODY OF EMMANUEL, IS IMPASSIBLE AND IMMORTAL, AND IS A GIVER OF IMPASSIBILITY AND IMMORTALITY TO THOSE WHO PARTAKE OF IT, THOUGH EVEN HE HIMSELF SAID AND CONFESSED THAT THE BREAD WHICH HAS BEEN TRANSMUTED IS THE BODY, BUT NOT IMPASSIBLE, BECAUSE IT IS BROKEN AND DIVIDED; IN ANSWER TO WHICH THE HOLY MAN HIMSELF SPEAKS AS FOLLOWS. [519-21 (?).]
For the bread that is consecrated on the holy tables and mystically transmuted is itself truly the body, the body of him in whose name it was in |91 fact transmuted, that is of him who voluntarily died and rose for our sakes. But, if it is the body of him who rose, it is plain that it is impassible and immortal. If we do not look at the bread that is mystically transmuted, but at that which comes under the eyes of the senses, and, seeing it broken, do not confess it to be indeed immortal, it is time for us to say that neither is it God's body: for what is seen is indeed bread. By the faith therefore by which we understand and believe it to be the body of God who became incarnate without variation for our sakes, and voluntarily suffered and rose, by the same faith we understand and confess that it is also immortal and impassible, and bestows impassibility and immortality on us. For he who allowed it to be cut and divided, because indeed it was otherwise impossible for us to partake of it, in the same mercifulness also allows God's body which has been already transmuted to appear as bread. And for a confirmation of the transmutation that is accomplished this has been seen by many even with the eyes of their senses themselves, and they have seen bloodstained flesh being broken, not the bread that is laid upon the altar.|92
XXXI. ---- OF THE HOLY SEVERUS FROM THE LETTER TO SERGIUS THE PHYSICIAN AND SOPHIST. [515-8.]
But with regard to the reception of Eutyches that it was done in a canonical way, and that it casts no slur on the holy. Dioscorus, and on the synod which assembled with him at Ephesus, I addressed the arguments on this head to certain persons some time ago, and I also dealt completely with it as the truth demands; and I have thought it good and urgent to send a copy of these things to your learning. Not only the wretched man from Scythopolis 220, but many others besides before him and after him, employed the same blasphemous absurdities, not knowing what they are saying 221, but made empty-mindedness fulness of blasphemy against God. The holy synod which assembled at Ephesus with the saintly witness of the truth Dioscorus taught nothing new whatever with regard to the faith, but only effected the deprivation 222 of those who were infected with the Jewish poison of |93 Nestorius and cast them off: but Eutyches, who presented a petition and anathematized his heresy, on account of which he was accused, it accepted on the ground of the actual petition itself and on the ground of the minutes 223 that were written at Constantinople before Flavian, since it did not recognise the poison that was in his heart, and the disease hard to be discovered was in accordance with the human standard properly hidden from it; for the divine Scripture plainly teaches that 'man looks on the face, but God looks on the heart' 224. But what will anyone say about those who assembled at Chalcedon, who received Theodoret and Hiba, who not merely hid the foul heresy of Nestorius in the heart, but actually displayed it with open face. When the contents of the minutes' on account of which Hiba's deprivation 225 took place had been read, and his letter to Mari the Persian, which was full of many blasphemies (a copy of which I have also sent to you), the representatives of Leo, who had become prelate of the church of the Romans, pronounced him blameless, making the following declaration 226: «Pascasinus and Lucentius the reverend bishops and Boniface the presbyter representing |94 the apostolic throne 227 said by the mouth of Pascasinus, 'From the reading of the documents 228, and from the statement 229 of the reverend bishops we know that the reverend Hiba has been shown to be innocent. For, when his letter was read, we recognised that it is orthodox 230; and therefore our decision is that the episcopal rank also and the church from which he was wrongfully ejected in his absence be restored'» 231. And to these things the whole synod assented; and they promulgated the same decision. How then can those who defend those men dare to make the reception of Eutyches, which took place according to the canons, a charge against the holy Dioscorus and the synod which assembled with him?
XXXII. -------- OF THE SAME FROM THE LETTER TO THE ORTHODOX 232 BROTHERS IN THE CITY OF TYRE, WHICH IS SUR. [513-8.]
Since you have thought fit to ask me for what reason Eutyches is anathematized, the man of ill name 233 and impious, and how it is that he was received by Dioscorus of saintly memory, we say in a few words that he was |95 received on presenting a document 234 which contained a right confession of faith and anathematized Mani and Valentine, and Apollinaris, and those who say that the flesh of our Lord and God Jesus Christ came down from heaven; to which he further added the words that follow (though those who assembled at Chalcedon interrupted the reading, when the things that were written at Ephesus in the transactions 235 concerning him were put in), that the things which they wished to impute to him were slanders 236. But the man of ill name seems again to have 'returned to his vomit' 237. And that 238.....
XXXIII. ---- OF THE HOLY SEVERUS, FROM THE LETTER TO NEON THE PRESBYTER AND ARCHIMANDRITE 239, ABOUT THE RECEPTION OF EUTYCHES. [513-8.]
And, in order not to extend the letter to a great length, from these declarations 240 it has been clearly made known that, as we said, in consequence of the document' and of the minutes 241 written in the royal city, and of the depositions 242 on behalf of Eutyches that are contained in them the holy synod |96 which then assembled in the city of the Ephesians gave a decision by which it declared this man innocent; and it can never be accused on account of the fact that after these things the same Eutyches ran back to the vomit 243 of his own evil opinion. For neither against the holy fathers did this bring a reproach, because many heretics consented to a temporary hypocrisy, and again returned to their impiety; since even with the 318 holy fathers Eusebius Pamphili both sat in concourse with them and was one of their number; and he contended with these on behalf of the madness of Arius, and armed himself against those who held the right opinions.
(And a little farther on.)
But in the synod at Chalcedon Dioscorus said this: «But, if Eutyches holds anything outside the doctrines of the church, he deserves not merely punishment, but even fire. But I concern myself for the catholic and apostolic faith, not for any man soever» 244. But that the saintly man of saintly memory acknowledged Emmanuel who is of the Father's nature in |97 the Godhead himself to have become also of our nature in the manhood, how do we need any other testimony, since the minutes 245 that were written in Constantinople before Flavian, and brought in again at Ephesus, plainly contain this expression, which was confessed by Eutyches, and confirmed by him, in that he asked that synod, «Do we all also agree to these things?» and they said, «We agree» 246?
XXXIV. ---- OF THE HOLY SEVERUS, A LETTER TO ELISHA THE PRESBYTER AND ARCHIMANDRITE, AND THE REST 247. [519-21 (?).]
The saintly presbyter John has removed and gone to the place of light of the righteous, and to the rest above in which those who have so lived abide, expecting the day of the perfect and full promise, and not without us to be made perfect, as Paul who was initiated into the deep and ineffable things of the foreknowledge of God somewhere says 248. What need is there even to say |98 what poignant and heavy sorrow has shaken my soul? For it is a great loss that this wretched turbidity of times in which we ourselves have been left alive should by such men being snatched away be gradually laid bare and reduced so to speak to the last dregs. About him there is much that I might write on the laudatory side, but, overcome by the multitude of subjects, I say this briefly, that he alone taught us and caused us to see before our eyes, what is the kingdom of heaven that is spoiled, which spoilers seize 249. In such a a way, clad in the feeble body as in a chain of lead, he parted and dispersed all things outside, and by taking little thought for things that draw downwards, and receiving strength through desire of heavenly things, he fitted himself wholly for things above, to which he has now easily departed. Therefore we must both weep and groan for our solitude, which has been deprived entirely of such a pattern and honourable example. But, since we ought to bow our neck before the just scales of the judgments of God, we praise him who so orders these things and brings them to pass: for the wise and strenuous Job somewhere says, «But if he too hath so judged, who is he that gainsaith him? For what he himself wished he also did»250. And for |99 the rest we pray that by the saintly prayers of those who have made a good departure hence we may be saved, and as far as possible be kept unharmed, and not wander from the faith of these men, and may be raised to them in memory.
May these things be so. But in respect of what has been written by your love of God about the sustenance of the poor, and our necessity or refreshment, and that you wish to share with us in everything, and give readily, know this, that we accept the full purpose of your mind, but, being small and weak, we look to Paul the doctor of the church, and as regards our needs set ourselves to feel shame and refrain, and look at him who says, «In all things I have kept myself without being burdensome to you and will keep myself»251. But with respect to the relief of our brethren who are labouring under the same distresses, by which life is oppressed, I will exert myself, and will be importunate, or rather 252 will use lawful boldness of speech 253, and will beg, and grasp 254, and incite to liberal giving; and I will again use his words and say, «He that soweth sparingly shall reap sparingly; and he that soweth bountifully shall reap bountifully»: and this he seals by the |100 very wise and understanding addition, «Every man as his heart willeth, not grudgingly nor of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver» 255.
As to the book that I have composed against the heretical fatuity of the wicked grammarian, by often writing and asking for it to be sent to you before it was completely finished you were acting like men who urge a boy who is healthy and well-prepared, and instructed in military affairs, to appear in the line of battle when he has not yet put on his armour. But, now that by God's help it has been finished, as far as our little power goes, and has been duly written, and duly collated as far as was possible, it has been sent. It was a very difficult task and needed a great store of books, and it was so to speak difficult for me to correct, because I am moving from place to place, and I have not everywhere at hand fitting testimonies and demonstrations from the Scriptures. For I thought it right to meet not only the lamentable babblings of the grammarian, but also the whole web of impiety contained in what was defined and done by way of innovation at Chalcedon by the synod which met there, and the impious Tome of Leo, taking occasion from the very |101 things stated by him (I mean that grammarian) to expose the dishonesty of the adversaries, and cut the very root so to speak of bitterness 256, and to show whence it sprang, and that these things are not new, but were evolved long ago by the impious company of those who unlearnedly held this evil opinion; and not only so, but also to show the agreement of the doctors of the orthodox 257, and of things which to men who are not practised in divine doctrines seem to be contrary, and have the same purpose before them, and to guard myself as far as possible against contention from all sides. Immediately therefore after the holy Cyril and Gregory the Theologian, and all who so to speak taught the same things, had also said that we must note the distinction in theory 258 and in thought of the natures of which Emmanuel is composed, from which natures the different character and diverse essence 259 of the elements that were joined in union is recognised, Theodotus of saintly memory, bishop of Ancyra in Galatia, seems to deny this and not to accept the division in thought 260. On this account many of the orthodox 257 also were confounded by the heretics as if they were adducing fathers who said |102 contradictory things, though the objectors could not discern even the reading of the words of Theodotus, but read them differently, not as the words stand. This therefore and all such points we have brought together from all quarters, and, God stretching forth his hand, have explained them, and so have shown the objections of the impious to be vain. The demonstrations which they adduce are of ancient date and not of yesterday and the day before, and they have been worked up by means of inventions and false attributions and tens of thousands of contrivances, since they wish on all sides to show the refutation of the impiety to be futile. Therefore it was indeed a task replete with great difficulties to find these passages, and lay bare the evil dealing and expose the deceit contained in them. These things the prophet's words fit, which were spoken in the name of God to those of Israel, «Ephraim hath surrounded me with falsehood, and the house of Israel and of Judah with impiety» 261: and still better that also which is written in Daniel, «They worked zealously to strengthen their deceit which consisted in transgressions»262. Having therefore as far as possible read all the books, thoroughly and not negligently, I made myself acquainted with their evil purpose after |103 much labour and after searching for each one of them (often it could not be found at all), and this though I am in a condition 263 of exile, and flee from one place to another for refuge like boats 264 upon the sea. To me also it was gratifying that the wise and Christ-loving Zacharias the scholastic 265 should read the dissertation mentioned: for in the royal city also I used to bring my works to him, when he would listen attentively with all care fulness, and received from God the privilege of being a wise hearer of Jerusalem, I mean of the church of God, and did not shrink from being an admirable adviser, on account of the great experience and instruction in the sacred books which he has enjoyed from his boyhood. And we believe that upon you the religious presbyter Victor 266 the same grace blooms, and that it in no way falls short of that which was given to him, or certainly it was even greater, and reaches a still higher standard on account of the order of the presbyterate, and the priestly seat to which you have been called by God. I therefore beg you all to read the composition diligently and with attentive thoughts and, as your habit is, wisely, and if as weak men we have anywhere gone wrong to point it out. «That a brother should be helped by a brother, this also is the firm strength of a fortified |104 city» 267, the God-inspired words teach. Therefore also we made it our business, as far as possible, to bring this dissertation also to certain men of intelligence and skilled in argument, who are not without a share in divine and profane learning, and read it to them, generally stealing an opportunity for reading, and doing this in secret, on account of the present time. The beginning of this treatise I have put in such a form 268, in order that I may seem to have prepared this while I was living in Antioch, lest perhaps these adversaries might kindle a greater flame of prejudice against me, if they perceived that this had been composed by me in exile: and in truth when I was there I began to prepare material for an answer, though, when the persecution came, it scattered these things.
Since you, the God-loving presbyter Philip 269, have often asked for the Book of Dispensations as you say to be sent you, the only reason for which we have put off doing this is that we are desirous of first carrying out your request, and casting an eye of criticism on what is written in it; which down to this day we have been confident of being able to do, though all our attention was occupied with the said composition. Therefore, when we have read your book also hastily, we will send it as soon as possible. |105
As to those who have been converted from the error of Theodotus 270, we say this much, that, if there are some who received ordination from Theodotus himself, since he was a bishop legally appointed, but was afterwards perverted to the abominable tenet of a self-created observance 271, I mean that of the illegal re-anointing, and to a change as to the faith, so that he does not confess that our Lord and God Jesus Christ, who is of one essence 272 with the Father in the Godhead, himself became also of one essence 272 with us without variation, and took our likeness, except sin only, let these be subject to the periods of penance which Timothy of saintly memory, archbishop of Alexandria, laid down with regard to those who are converted from the heresy of the Diphysites 273. But, if there are some others who derive the ordinations alleged to have been performed over them from the man called Gregory 274 or from others, who are not even bishops, let these be reckoned as laymen, and not dream of the name of service or priesthood; but eventually after some time, if some of them receive a report for good works, let these |106 be ordained, as if they had been advanced from the lay standing to the priestly chancel 275. But I was surprised to see that in your letter, though you termed them laymen, you afterwards asked the question «How long a period ought to be appointed for these men», as if they were clergymen 276, men who never became such at all. Therefore also I praised the ignorance of the religious presbyter Victor about these men.
As to the complete manuscript 277 of the divine Scriptures which belonged to John whose soul is at rest, which may fill many bellies of poor men, sell it: for we by God's grace have books 278, and would we had also perfect knowledge of these, which we pray may be given to us by God.
We were not surprised to hear that those without are at peace with you, since we recalled to mind the divine declaration which says to the righteous man, «For the beasts of the field shall be at peace with thee»279. Therefore also we again praised him who confessed these things without falsehood.
The end of the letter to Elisha the presbyter and archimandrite. |107
XXXV. -------- OF THE PATRIARCH SEVERUS TO THE MONKS OF THE EAST 280. [520-5.]
To the holy fathers and archimandrites of the holy cloisters in the East and the presbyters and deacons, and all the brothers who are practising the God-loved life of monasticism Severus greeting in our Lord.
I have heard that the great convents of the holy monasteries in the East, who are honoured for eminence in life and in asceticism and for age, have withdrawn, and that to this same thing they have been driven by compulsion, by those who without fear stretch out their hands against every man: and I groaned deeply; and I continued weeping till there was no strength left in me to weep more, as the Holy Scripture somewhere says 281. For I sorrowed not for you (no tears are needed for you) but for the countries which have been deprived of you, and for those who live a religious life in them, and to speak generally for all that district 282. If there were not universal wrath, and the face of God were not averted, you at least would |108 have remained, as pillars of the great house who would have prevented the ruin that was threatening it. So also, when Jerusalem was being chastised for her sins, and was being delivered to various chastisements, the God of mercy, 'he that taketh pleasure in mercy' 283 (for so the divine Scriptures term him), again spared her on account of his great mercifulness, and, because he did not wish to bring a complete destruction, is seen to address, those who administered such chastisements as were to come, things which Jeremiah saw and heard by prophetic perception, in this way: «Go up to her walls and pull down; but make not a full end. Leave her foundations because they are of the Lord»284. If then you, who are the foundations of the Lord which stave off destruction, have now been disturbed and shaken, what is there to expect, save sore stripes from God, and great evils that cannot be assuaged and wrath that is poured out, which he who in just judgment brings it declares in such words as these: «Behold! my wrath and mine anger is poured out upon this country and upon men and upon cattle and upon all things that are in the field, and upon all the fruits of the earth, and they shall be burnt up and shall not be extinguished» 285? |109
For these reasons I sorrowed, and I perceived not the number of my groans, while I contemplated the desolation of the ways that led to your convents and sent to you those who had a zealous desire to delight their souls by the remembrance of divine things, and to whom constant standing and angelic singing were a festival, and the upward-pressing life, which reminds rational souls of the imitation of God. For thus Jeremiah also made lament after the destruction of Jerusalem, and said as in a figure: «The ways of Zion mourn because there is none to come to the feast. All the gates in her are desolate» 286. (And he himself clearly said that her produce is given to destruction). «Whose priests shall go into captivity groaning, and they that have taken upon them the virgin life shall be led away. And she that was abandoned by them hath bitterness for these things». For, in order that none might think that the lamentation that was made was not right, on account of beams and stones and great buildings that were razed to the earth and the dust, exalting plainly by words the greatness of the disaster, he made proclamation and said: «Her priests groan and her virgins |110 are carried away, and she herself within herself hath bitterness» 287. And Elisha the great, who received a double portion of the spirit that was in Elijah, the man of many visions and miracles, foreseeing that which was future like the present, and how many evils the people of Israel was to endure, inasmuch as Hazael, King of Syria, was to come against them to war, wept bitterly when he .considered the incurability of the evils that were coming, and under stress of these things he could not refrain, and abstain from tears, and from pity, though they were about to endure these chastisements as they deserved. And therefore also the divine Scripture says as in wonder: «And the man of God wept» 288. But I beg and entreat your sanctities (for you are my affection no less than he 289), you who also suffer with your kindred, and, to speak in the words of the apostle, «have a heart of mercy and of grace» 290, pray for the sheep and avert the wrath, and cease not holding up your saintly hands to your Jesus, saying to him from the divine Scriptures, «These sheep what have they done? Have pity, Lord, upon thy people, and give not thine inheritance to shame» 291. Perhaps he will be turned by these prayers and repent, and will leave in his country a blessing, |111 a sacrifice and a libation to the Lord our God. For on your account I have no weight of care and no anxiety: for well I know that everything is easy to you, and there is no impediment or difficulty of walking for your feet, which are adorned in apostolic fashion with bareness, and by their steps are able to bless even the uninhabited deserts and make them habitable; . and that the lack of money in your girdles is a fulness of all abundance, so that it provides a superfluity for others also, and the staff in your hands is a symbol of the very fixity and firmness of the faith that is in you, so that it supports those who are shaken also and they do not fall; but the earth and the heaven and the air 292 are your purse, and all the elements supply food in diverse forms and coming of itself, and make it known to everyone that «man liveth not by bread alone, but also by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God»293: I forbear to say, what is a great thing and very true, that, since you have a spiritual rock going before you (and Paul said that Christ is a rock 294), that is to you food and drink; for you were persecuted with this same rock when it was persecuted. For in the case of the sons of Israel of old, who saw little, and had their eye blinded by Egyptian |112 darkness, and could scarcely see the writing of the law and could not contemplate the depth of hidden mysteries, the apostle justly wrote that «that rock followed them» 295: for it was right that they who were so-imperfect should be first exercised in the law, and afterwards see Christ following them. Wherefore also in waterless countries he gave them water in tangible form, assuaging the thirst of the flesh; and, whenever they desired flesh, he invisibly brought birds like rain from the air 296, and other things like these and resembling them. But before your own perfections, who can contemplate the very glory of the Lord 'with open face', as again Paul said 297, that rock continually goes in front, giving suprasensual food and drink, and showing everyone that through the things which you have endured you cry and say, «Who shall separate me from the love of Christ? Tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or hunger or nakedness or clanger or the sword, as it is written, 'For thy sake we die every day; we have been reckoned as sheep for slaughter'; but in all these things we are victorious through him who loved us» 298. For the results of your victory are not only |113 in this evil present world, in which you showed invincibility, but all of them are more truly in the future world. Then all who have been exercised in the life of virginity, and have prevailed over shameful passions and are honoured for white-haired old age of the intellect, and for the holy order, and deceive the accompanying honour, shall be gratified with such joy that their soul shall be made drunk with good things, as to which Jeremiah the prophet, depicting them beforehand, spoke thus: «Then shall virgins rejoice in gatherings of young men and old men shall rejoice: and I will turn their mourning into joy, and I will make them rejoice: and I will make great and make drunken the soul of the priests the sons of Levi, and my people shall be filled with my good things» 299; and these things that fail not and are as they are, and are never destroyed. Such as these are the blessed homes and mansions. But, if there is yet an extension and we have not been brought to the end of time, assuredly 'he who scattered Israel he will gather him, and he will keep him as a shepherd who feedeth his flock' and will say, «With weeping went they out, and with consolation will I bring them: and I will make them to dwell by streams of waters in a right way and they shall not again go astray» 300. |114
But pray that we also may hold to the right and unerring way, and our foot may not turn aside to the right hand or to the left from the king's highway 301 which was rightly traversed by those seers and ministers of the word. For, inasmuch as you exercise yourselves in the law of the Lord by night as well as by day, you know well that, even if a man contend, he is not crowned unless he contends lawfully. For certain men have come in upon us, wishing to put a blemish on the 'good confession' to which we were called and which we confessed 'before many witnesses' 302 as the apostle said, that is, before the whole church and 'the elect angels' 303, never having yielded to remissness. For that 'we are not of remissness which leads to perdition' 304 you also well know: for you are the first who testify. For, 'having no sound knowledge of what they say or the things about which they strive' 305, they do not consent to confess that the true flesh of God and the Word which is from the holy God-bearer and ever-virgin Mary and from the Holy Spirit, which was hypostatically united to him, so that from the fact that he came to be with us as God who became man he was named Emmanuel, and that he was made like unto us in all things except sin, suffers |115 like us and is susceptible of innocent passions, but say that he suffered in semblance, and that the flesh was impassible and immortal at the time of the voluntary and saving Cross; and besides other impossible things the wretched men foolishly speak of false passions, and in false words they name phantasy 306 incorruptibility, and deny the true incorruptibility, and they fail to notice the wisdom of the dispensation whereby the impassible God united to himself those of our passions which do not fall under the description of sin, wishing in it to taste our death voluntarily, destroy its dominion over us, and by means of the Resurrection to set us free in incorruptibility, that is in impassibility and immortality, and raise us to our first state in which also we were created. If the Word of God desired to display passions and death in unreal form, the Incarnation is quite superfluous. He had the divine impassibility and immortality, and so also he might have suffered as in semblance and shown himself after the fashion of former appearances, as he appeared as a man who wrestled with Jacob and was received in Abraham's house, and was represented in many forms through the prophets: for this he himself is seen to have said in Hosea the prophet 307. But this was not |116 what he desired, but that by means of a real death he might save the man who had died through the deceit of the serpent, and make his own Resurrection the gate and way of return to everlasting life. For this reason Paul cries louder than all trumpets in the ears of men who will not hear: «For, since by man came death, by man also cometh the resurrection of the dead. For, as in Adam all died, so also in Christ shall all live» 308. But... with... the Scriptures and... these hasty and presumptuous men presumed blasphemously to say against the divine Scriptures and against the holy fathers who interpreted them in approved fashion, who at various times fed the holy churches. From these things you see clearly how much difference and distinction there is between truth and error even as the heaven is far from the earth, and that out of the thought of their heart they have 'devised words of iniquity' and that 'truth has perished in their ways, and they could not walk in the right way', and also that 'they have removed their thoughts from understanding' 309. For well did Isaiah the prophet expose them beforehand by these words. |117
Pray therefore, saintly ones (for indeed I say the same thing many times) that we may be delivered from evil and unjust men. For they have been unable not only to endure reproof on account of their wickedness, but even to give drink to them that thirst: for, besides their thoughts that blaspheme against God, 'their counsels1 also 'are counsels of murder' 310. For this very thing Isaiah says with me concerning them. But that these same men may be changed to what is right make the subject of your own prayers. For we on our part look to him who willeth not the death of a sinner so much as that he be converted and live 311. Indeed at first on the entreaty (and to speak the truth on the compulsion) of him who wrote unsoundly and rashly upon this same matter 312, while far away and in hiding I wrote and admonished him in a brotherly manner and urged him to have regard to the holy fathers and to the approved doctors and follow them, and correct himself. And even upon this he attacked my meanness in a ferocious manner, worse than any raging savage beast, and kept bitterly complaining because he did not find me a partner of his error, and over the whole world, as far as he could, he sent out and scattered abroad what he had |118 written, which came from his heart 'not from the mouth of the Lord' 313: and we were set forth as a laughing-stock to those who contend for the Chalcedonian impiety; and in Palestine, as I have learned, and in other provinces 314 they were going about, and everywhere opening and extending their capacious mouth and saying: «See! Those who pride themselves on being orthodox 315 have been manifestly seen to be zealous for the semblance of Eutyches, which is the error of the followers of Mani». Then indeed, being pierced by the judgments of God after the manner of goads and being... in my soul because I could not endure the slander and the blasphemy against the glory of the Most High and the fact that one man's error should be a stain upon the whole body of the church, I made the true facts known to everyone, facts which are known and familiar to you also, saying with courage as well as faith in accordance with the truth (for Jesus is very God and Saviour), «If it be my lot to die with thee I will not deny thee» 316, but, «I will go up upon the mountains, and will preach to Jerusalem» 317. May I gain his boldness of speech 318, and may I receive help from him, through your saintly prayers and entreaties. |119
The handwriting of the patriarch, himself.
May the holy Unity in Trinity (for this is our God) keep your holinesses, and all the brotherhood that is with you, illustrious in divine contests, in perfect concord and endurance and praying for our meanness. My spirit greets you. «Greet one another with a holy kiss» 319. Grace be with you.
Blessed be God for ever, and praised be his name to all generations.
XXXVI. ---- OF THE HOLY SEVERUS FROM THE LETTER TO ISAAC THE SCHOLASTIC, WHICH BEGINS, «I, since on account of my sins I have been condemned to live for a long space of time in the royal city». [509-11.]
For it is not saying what agrees with the 318 fathers that is prohibited to us, but adding anything to or detracting anything from the correctness of the doctrines 320. If not, the synod of the 150 also incurs blame, because it widened the theology 321 relating to the Spirit, and, when the confession had been laid down with regard to the only Son who became incarnate for us, it added the |120 words 'from the Holy Spirit and from Mary the Virgin', and 'he was crucified in the days of Pontius Pilate'; for these things were not stated by the 318.
And a little farther on in the same letter.
But you say that the synod at Chalcedon also placed the faith of the 318 before its definition. But in that case the innovation is obvious. First it says in plain words, and that twice and three times, that it is itself making a definition; secondly, because it said that our one Lord Jesus Christ is made known in two natures; thirdly, to omit the other points, because it called Leo's letter, which is full of the blasphemies of Nestorius, 'a pillar of orthodoxy 322'.
XXXVII. -------- OF THE SAME FROM THE LETTER TO CHARISIUS THE MONK, THE BEGINNING OF WHICH IS, «It did not escape our smallness». [513-8.]
Who among the orthodox 323 would agree that the synod at Chalcedon |121 should be suppressed in conjunction with all the religious synods, so that from the silence it might be inferred that it too enjoys equal honour? Assuredly those who turn away their faces from it would raise arguments against those who hold to it, and the one would say, «It is suppressed as impious», while the others would say. «It has met with the same suppression as the other synods», and again there would be contentions and disturbances.
And again before these things he says.
For for us to say that the synod must be suppressed, and formulate an orthodox confession, but not reject the blasphemies with the persons themselves and the words, is neither lawful nor conducive to peace. But, even if we be willing to shut our eyes, no one among the congregations of the orthodox 324, especially after so much agitation, would agree to such a spurious union, since the apostle plainly says, «If anyone preacheth to you outside what ye have received, let him be anathema» 325. What has thrown the churches into confusion down to the present day is this, the fact that those who are in power halt between the two sides, and wish always to please both sides. |122
XXXVIII. ---- OF THE HOLY MAR SEVERUS THE PATRIARCH FROM THE LETTER TO PETER AND AMMONIUS 326 AND OLYMPIODORUS, ABOUT THE NAMING OF PETER BISHOP OF ALEXANDRIA; WHICH IS THE 10th OF THE 1st BOOK OF THE LETTERS WRITTEN DURING TENURE OF THE SEE. [513-6.]
For we may learn from the facts themselves, that we, the few in number and small, by God's help completely checked the synod of Chalcedon that was already acting as absolute shepherd of the churches, we who as in Isaiah's prophecy were left like a bunch after the olives have been gathered, 'two or three on the high ends of the branches, or four or five, who were from this bunch of olives'327, Peter who was from the country of the Iberians, but was a citizen of Jerusalem the city above, and Theodosius 328 who adorned the throne 329 of Antinou 330, and Isaiah331 the very famous, the statue 332 of philosophy and of life in God, like a column and pattern; men who even in this world reaped the honour due to their labours, prophesyings and gifts of healings, |123 and were illustrious in other spiritual excellencies, whose spirits also, I am convinced, are offering prayers on our behalf, and are close by us in these present struggles, and rejoice in this union and peace, and bond of faith, which has now begun. For besides the other good things they knew what is the time of strictness, and what that of lawful concession, and they used to learn the dispensations of the Spirit, and followed the wise dispensations of Basil and Gregory and Athanasius and other God-clad fathers: whom let us also follow, though we are small, men, whose judgment is a subject of prayer.
XXXIX. ---- OF THE HOLY SEVERUS FROM THE LETTER THAT WAS WRITTEN TO THE PRESBYTERS AT ALEXANDRIA. [516-8.]
When I took in my hands the letter that has now been addressed to me by your holinesses, I began to read it with such pleasure as if a son were seeing his father's face after the lapse of a long time. But after reading it I knew you better from the contents; for I found the letter to be in reality wholly occupied with fatherly reproofs; for it is often a habit of fathers also to apply unfounded |124 reproofs to sons in order to make them more 333 industrious and vigilant; but, when they see them making a wise defence to the accusation and dissipating the reproofs, then they exchange the desire of fault-finding for the desire of natural affection, and are filled with tears and exult from joy, and submit to a defeat that they have made an object of much prayer, and proclaim the sons' victory as their own. Accordingly listen like fathers to your son's defence, and judge upright judgment, and test the matter carefully as in the scales of a balance. You say in the letter that we departed from the strict rule in making union with the Isaurians, because Philoxenus, when he wrote to them in the course of the controversy, testified that there is nothing wanting in the edict 334, and said that he was in communion with the prelate of Alexandria 335, and did not omit the names of the heretics. Tell me what blame this casts upon the Isaurians, since they are shown to have summoned Philoxenus by letter to the high standard of their profession, and, when he would not at that time rise to their height and range himself on the side of strictness, together with the others to have left those who were in communion with |125 Flavian who previously held the see of Antioch, and united with us only, and exposed in writing the imperfection of the edict, and professed that they would not otherwise enter into communion with the chief of the Alexandrines until he first made a defence to the orthodox 336 in common and removed from the midst the scandals which separate us from him. How then do you find fault with them as if they had neglected these things, things which they were in fact careful to put in writing? If to write to Philoxenus and summon him to the perfect standard is a cause of blame in them, it is time for us to blame some of you also who in the royal city urged us to go [to] Philoxenus and examine him, and to bring serious accusations against the [holy] Cyril because he wrote to Acacius the prelate of Berrhoea, when he advised him to disavow the 12 chapters 337 and the other works against Nestorius. But it is not receiving a letter from men who are involved in heresies, or otherwise not of a perfect mind, which subjects us to blame, but adhering to the things written by [them], and not walking in a contrary direction. I am much |126 astonished at that part of your [letter in which after] saying that the edict is imperfect you write lower down, «We, [when] in the chapters 338 which we presented to the prelate of the men of Jerusalem we said that the edict contains a [right] profession of faith, said so as a concession, not as the truth». How then is it imperfect, if in truth it does not contain a right profession, and does not remove the scandals from the midst? That which is imperfect contains at any rate some part [agreeing with] that which is perfect, so that [that] which is wanting for perfection may be restored: but that [which] contains nothing sound [even] in part is not imperfect but entirely [false] 339 and is the same as that which does not exist. [But] how is it that you, when writing to father Stephen the Isaurian of religious memory, imitated what was [formerly] said as a concession, and said, «The edict contains a right profession of faith»? Or how is it that the God-loving fathers in Egypt reject the written testament 340 of defence which remained with them as they say from father John the archimandrite and bishop who is among the saints, [which] is composed of the actual bare words of the edict? Or rather 341, to |127 cite the very words themselves, let someone proceed to say what heresy it introduces when it is said, «For we say that both the miracles and the passions, which he underwent voluntarily in the flesh, belong to one only Son of God», and again, «Because the true and sinless Incarnation from the God-bearer did not bring about an addition of a Lord; for the Trinity remained a Trinity even when one of the Trinity, God the Word, became incarnate» 342. But perhaps you will say that the words are rightly expressed and free from blame, but are not sufficient to demolish the scandals; for, inasmuch as they are ambiguously expressed, even those also who call the one Christ two natures profess them, since [they confess] the form 343 which they call the Son who became incarnate to be one and the same in identity of honour, in identity of name in that he is of the same [essence], in authority, as we ourselves elsewhere stated, when convicting the edict of ambiguity; but we ought not to open a door to impiety by ambiguity in what we write, according to the words of Gregory the Theologian, «For this is a common sandal which is put on both feet; this is an image which looks at everyone who passes; a sifting which [sifts out] everything» 344. But this argument is then [sound] 345 |128 when the ambiguity is introduced [and the] truth condemned, [for accuracy] is then expelled and banished, [like that which] was done by the synod which the holy [Athanasius] termed 'an assembly of Caiaphas' 346, [when it introduced] the expression 'like' and removed [that of] co-essentiality, in order that the Arians might understand the word 'like' to mean 'resembling'... and the orthodox 347 'that which is of the same essence' 348 and 'that which does not vary in anything'. But, if, when it pronounced that [the Son] is like the Father, it had added, 'that is identical [in] essence 348 with the Father', it would by the addition have limited the expression of likeness which is [common] to both and eradicated the error arising from the ambiguity. So also a man who accepts the right confession of the edict, if it is enough for him, and he does not add the exact words which remove the heresy, opens a door to impiety through the ambiguity of the written words, and falls under the sentences of the holy Gregory in that he is doing detriment to the truth. But, if besides the edict he both confesses one incarnate nature of God the Word and anathematizes those who speak of two natures after the union, and the operations and properties of these, and all the impiety that was |129 confirmed at Chalcedon, he has removed the danger 349 that is expected from the ambiguity, and has bound the understanding of both parties under the yoke of exactitude, and has also followed the law of Gregory the Theologian who in the 3rd letter to Cledonius wrote thus: «Since therefore the same expressions when rightly understood are consistent with religion, but when badly interpreted contain foul impiety, what wonder is it if we accepted the words of Vitalis also in a more religious sense, for so our object urges, while others are furious against the sense of the things written?» 350 Let us therefore acquiesce in the spiritual distinctions of Gregory the Theologian, and shun ambiguity only when it stands alone, and by the double meaning inflicts injury on the truth; but, when it is made subservient to accuracy by the addition of more perfect statements, let us accept it. This same teaching is given by Basil also who has the same spirit as Gregory in the epistle which he wrote to Maximus the philosopher, the words being as follows: «But for my part I must call what is yours mine 351. As to the term 'like in essence', if it has added 'without variation', I accept the expression, as |130 coming to the same thing as co-essentiality, that is, according to the sound meaning of the expression 'co-essentiality', which those at Nicaea also understood, when they called the Only one 'Light of Light', 'true God of true God', and similar things, and consequently introduced the expression 'co-essentiality'. But it is never possible for us to imagine any difference between light and light, or between truth and truth, or between the essence of the Only one and that of the Father. If anyone therefore takes it as I have said, I accept the expression. But, if anyone severs 'without variation' from 'like', as those at Constantinople 352 did, I am suspicious of the phrase, as diminishing the glory of the Only one. For even in the case of things that resemble in a few points also, and are very much inferior to the originals, we are accustomed often to use the expression 'like'» 353. In accordance therefore with these enactments of the fathers, since a mention of the edict was once inserted in the defence of the Isaurians, we have accepted it, because the whole evil-doing that is contrived by the ambiguity was removed by the very fact that the things that are lacking were added, |131 and a clear defence was made to us that exposed the imperfection of the edict. These things I was desirous to write, not out of self-seeking 354, but because I have inserted in the letter a portion of what has often been addressed by me in laborious arguments to many who maintained that the edict sufficed for a defence. It is not as one might think because we cling to the memory of the edict that we are compelled to employ words of this kind, nor because we wish to oppose you; but, since by reason of our sins 'we have been made a spectacle to the world, and to angels and to men', as the wise Paul says 355, and we are henceforth set under the eyes of everyone, we must speak the words of truth to everyone alike, and guard ourselves beforehand against causes of blame even from all quarters, and use the examples and God-inspired teachings of the holy fathers to guide us in what is right, and not love laughter and show ourselves betrayers of lawful accuracy, nor yet incur blame for lack of learning and spring beyond the bounds of the wrestling-space, but wisely consider the saying of Koheleth, «There is a righteous man who perisheth in his righteousness» 356. Even now we are ready, and that since the holy |132 John the presbyter and archimandrite ..... wrote to us, to proceed to Egypt, only provided that he will choose for us a quiet spot suited for our purpose, so that we may not be annoyed by turbulent men, nor yet suffer injury from our opponents. For through your saintly prayers those orthodox 357 in Isauria, forming a determination worthy of their previous life, and being the first to incur danger 358 on behalf of the common hope, have lawfully instituted an orthodox archbishop 359: and now both the man himself who has been instituted [and some of] the God-loving bishops who performed his institution, men who were indeed known to our meanness in the royal city, have written us letters that are very excellent and full of propitious hopes, which we will also read to you our fathers, [when] we deliberate [upon] what is beneficial. For you [will see] 360 from what has been [said] that we should not [reject] 360 so much good, and accept the contrary, or rather 361 simple [words]. And this I [heartily] 360 wish [your] sanctities to believe, that I would have chosen to be burned with fire, [in order] that what is |133 gratifying to you may be done, and especially where with the gratification there is combined lawfulness and reasonableness. But these things, [if] God pleases, we will [consider] 362 at length together when we meet.
XL. -------- OF THE SAME FROM THE LETTER TO THE INMATES OF THE CONVENT OF THE HOUSE OF MAR BASSUS, WHICH WAS WRITTEN ON THE SUBJECT OF NAMES 363. [510-7.]
For, if we are about to require strictness like our strictness which we observed when we were living in seclusion in monasteries, we shall not suffer presbyters or archimandrites, or anyone else who took part in the synod of Chalcedon, to be named. But, if we have regard to the complete conjunction and unity of the holy churches, which extends to many countries and churches, it is not easy suddenly to observe or think of any such rule: and, if we do, we shall unwittingly fall into useless confusion, and upset everything, since such things are not of a kind to stand at all in the way of the general benefit of peace. |134
XLI. ---- FROM THE LETTER TO MUSONIUS BISHOP OF MELOE IN ISAURIA 364, THE BEGINNING OF WHICH is, «When I came to the high-priestly throne 365». [516-7.]
And know this, that, where general unions were concerned, the fathers did not wish to inquire into the observance of the strict rule with regard to names. Many of the 318 who assembled at Nicaea, as ecclesiastical histories relate, were present at the synod at Ariminus [sic] and at Sardica 366; and still, though the doctrines there laid down 367 were not approved, no one contended about names. And in the same way at Nicaea 368 in Thrace also the synod of bishops which pronounced that the Father is like the Son, not co-essential, was rightly rejected; and yet there was no question about names at that time. It is a long matter to recount the other rejected synods, that at Sirmium, that at Lampsacus, that at Rome, that at Zelo 369, that at your Seleucia, all of which the synod of the 150 caused to be passed over in silence as if it had |135 forgotten them, not introducing among us any vain talk or superfluous inquiry about names, but only asserting the divinity 370 of the Holy Spirit together with the Father and the Son, and explaining the intention of the 318. And, when the holy Cyril with the holy synod at Ephesus accomplished the deprivation 371 of the evil Nestorius, the bishops of the East, though they contended for his rejected tenets3, afterwards agreed to the deprivation 371 of that wolf and the rejections of the hateful tenets 372; and there was never any discussion about names, although how many do you think had died in the meanwhile, who contended for the wickedness of Nestorius? For these things, as I have said, general unions have no room; but they remained without examination; since many are in fact passed over at councils, although they have often been involved in impious opinions. Since then at the present time some common agreement among the churches is hoped for, do not lower your mind to untimely hair-splitting. As there is a time to speak and a time to be silent 373, so there is a time both to inquire into a matter of this kind and not to inquire. Bear these things in mind and be rightly disposed, |136 and have no regard to men who cleave to division, and find fault with everything in the same way, whom the sacred Scripture calls backbiters and enemies of the common peace, and Christ the God of peace 374.
XLII. -------- OF THE SAME FROM THE LETTER TO THEOPHANES THE SCHOLASTIC. [516-7.]
For that to be devoid of dispensation is a subversal of every action is testified also by the text of Proverbs which says thus: «They that have not dispensation fall like leaves» 375.
Of the same, from the same letter.
We see that the champion 376 of the truth also, the man of blessed and very beloved memory, Timothy archbishop of Alexandria, walks in the same paths, and through the Encyclical letter communicated with Paul of Ephesus and Peter of Antioch, and Anastasius of Jerusalem, and, to put it simply, with all who signed the Encyclical letter, and that he did not demand any |137 rejection of names, but set one purpose only before himself, to root out the heresy from the foundations, and to show that it had been unanimously condemned, and to free the right confession from every evil species of heresy, and from the mist that arises therefrom. For all those, inasmuch as they were like Moses faithful servants in all God's house 377, were instructed in the sacred text of Proverbs which wisely teaches and says, «He that dispenseth not his house aright inheriteth winds» 378.
For in matters in which we have patristic examples we are not to blame, as the holy Severus teaches in the letter to Theophanes cited above 379.
But he who does a thing which was done by the fathers, he acts canonically and lawfully, as the holy Severus also teaches, in the letter to Theophanes cited above 379. |138
XLIV. -------- OF THE SAME FROM THE LETTER TO URBAN THE GRAMMARIAN, WHICH BEGINS, «When I read the letter of your learning». [516-7.]
In dealing with abstentions with regard to names preserved in the sacred tablets we must in fitness duly compare the things of which the sacred Scripture said that, when they fall into water that is contained in small vessels, they pollute it, but, when into pools or wells or cisterns containing many streams, they cause no stain or pollution. For the law of the divine Spirit said thus: «And every drink that ye shall drink in any vessel shall be polluted; and everything on which anything from a dead body falls is polluted. However fountains of water and pools and cisterns of water shall be pure» 380. This principle then ought to be observed in the present case also. If a man separates from many on the ground that they are infected with heresy, or that they communicate with those who are infected, let him with all his power maintain abstention from the dead body, and not mention even the name of those who are under suspicion and not genuine, lest it fall and pollute the |139 purity of the communion. But, if the holding of the orthodox faith, and an anathema of every heresy reigns in the churches, and whole countries and provinces 381, and populous churches, confess one uncorrupted confession, then names which are thought to pollute are inundated by the multitude of streams. It is good that no particle of a dead body should be introduced even into a large quantity of water; but if perchance 382 it in fact happen to be introduced, it is cleansed by the quantity of streams, and swamped by the quantity of cleansing 383. We find that in fact the holy fathers also who were in former times upholders of the right word managed these things in this way. Show us from the compositions of the doctors of the church that, after so large a number had found fault with the faith of the 318 at Ariminus [sic], any question was raised about the names of those who had died. And, not to make the letter tedious by using many words, let us pass on in mind to times that are near and not far removed. We find that the holy Timothy, he who underwent long exiles 384, united with everyone in the Encyclical, and communicated with Paul bishop of the city of the Ephesians, and Peter who had become prelate of |140 this great Christ-loving city of Antioch, while names under suspicion were preserved in the sacred tablets; and the holy Cyril, when he united with the Easterns after the deprivation 385 of Nestorius, when many bishops had died, and had departed under the stain of the Nestorian heresy, made no inquiry about names. If therefore those who set great store by strictness in respect of such names say that the oblation is not pure, let them know that their strictness also draws its origin and existence from such communion, and descends from that source as from a root. For the saintly Timothy, as we have said, consented to hold communion with those of like opinions in company with such names, he whose grandsons they are who now with a boastful front loudly proclaim, «You shall not approach me because I am pure». And this we say superfluously, that some of the bishops in the cities of the Easterns set even this also straight, and ceased to mention all such names: for others found it impossible to set this same thing straight; and it was not right for such a reason for them to enter on wrangles 386, and set themselves in array against the enthusiasm of the people of the cities, in order that they might suffer shipwreck in the most essential things. |141
XLV. ---- OF THE HOLY SEVERUS, FROM THE LETTER TO SETORIC 387 BISHOP OF CAESAREA IN CAPPADOCIA, WHICH BEGINS, «The God-loving bishop of the city of the Nyssenes». [516.]
They are not acting rightly who think that our oblation is not pure on account of the names of those who have already died, and who have fallen into heretical tenets 388, and have not been removed from the sacred tablets; because in fact such matters did not affect the oblation of orthodoxy 389 of the holy fathers also. Though Eusebius Pamphili contended for the disease of Arius, both in speech and in act, the members of the church of Caesarea mentioned his name, until the holy Cyril passed by, when he was hastening to the city of the Ephesians, and had this name removed. What shall we then say? That throughout the time during which the name of Eusebius stood in the sacred tablets it perturbed the oblation of men who held right opinions 388? What? When again the same holy Cyril of saintly memory wrote to the holy |142 Proclus bishop of Constantinople at that time to spare the name of Theodore of Mopsuestia, who was the putrid source of the hateful and putrid tenets 390 of Nestorius, in order not to give an opportunity to those who wished to disturb the church 391, shall we think that thereby some pollution and stain of heresy was inflicted on the oblation of the orthodox 392? By no means. If we search into this, there is no time at which we shall see the church to be pure. If is already well-known that such things have not and never will cause any injury to the whole fulness of the body of Christ. In fact in Leviticus we find something like this written, where it is dealing with the pollution that is caused to anything by a dead body, as follows: «And all food that ye shall eat on which water shall come, and there fall upon it any of these dead things, it is pollution; and every drink that ye shall drink in any vessel is polluted. However of 393 springs of water and of pools and of cisterns of water they shall be pure» 394. What then is it that is made known to us by this? That, when certain men are by themselves, in a church for instance or in one |143 city, or in monasteries perhaps make mention of the names of those who are under suspicion and of dead men, like the similarly small amount of water contained in a vessel they are polluted by the mention, as if something dead were falling; but, when churches of many provinces 395 and of dioceses are held in one bond of faith, and resemble fair fountains and pools and cisterns of water, the dead thing which has the property of polluting if it fall cannot injure; for it is swamped by the flow, and by the abundance of many streams. I have said these things in order to show from the God-inspired Scripture, and from the bishops, the pastors, the upholders of right reason, that in such matters observance of every point is endless, and that mention of this kind 396 does no injury to the fair body of the church. But your sanctity should know that we have by a letter made the above project known to the saintly Dioscorus also, bishop of Alexandria 397, since we considered his assent also most necessary. |144
XLVI. ---- OF THE HOLY SEVERUS, FROM THE LETTER TO HIPPOCRATES THE SCHOLASTIC 398, WHICH BEGINS, «I have not learned to jest at divine things as on a stage 399». [516-7.]
For the holy Cyril also, after he had written a derisive book against Theodore and Diodorus, the teachers of the impiety of Nestorius (and he contends against them and says, «You have surpassed the open-mouthedness of the heathen, you have shown the impieties of Jewish pride to be nothing»400), sent a message by letter to Proclus of saintly memory bishop of Constantinople not to remove the name of such men from the sacred diptychs, because those of the East clung to the memory of this man401.
Of the holy Severus, from the letter to Hippocrates, which begins, «Not to jest as on a stage».
For I believe that we incur equal danger 402 if we abate anything from |145 strictness in the case of strict and perfect men, and if we show untimely strictness in the case of men who need a dispensation and lawful concession, and give our neighbour, as it is written, turbid dregs to drink 403.
Of the same from the letter to Hippocrates the scholastic, which begins, «I have not learned to jest at divine things as on a stage».
Being pricked by these words and divine laws as by goads, and fearing and trembling, I mentioned the matter of those from Cappadocia who wish to be united to us to the saintly Dioscorus bishop of Alexandria and our fellow-minister, and 1 consulted with your learning also, revealing to you all my affairs from the beginning, and hiding nothing whatever; and I do not know how it is that you have thrown over the letters and consultations that have passed since that time, and tell us to take no account of those from Cappadocia the waste country, but to treat the divine laws that I have just mentioned with contempt. In the first place the same account is due to one soul |146 and to many; and next how can we call the two Cappadocias and Armenia waste places? But in this you thought or spoke rather 404 like the natives of the country (allow me with your pardon to say), and not truly. For it is the habit of the Alexandrines to think that the sun rises for them only, and towards them only the lamp burns, so that they even jestingly term outside cities 'lampless'. If for the purpose of right judgments it is possible to weigh the numbers of a people, like weights that are distinguished by the inclinations of the scale of a balance, the inhabitants of all these countries will produce no less than the whole city of the Alexandrines. But you say that in the case of men who make right requests we should have regard to our understanding. But in this also we have a better principle, as we showed in what we said a little before, having countless other texts of the God-inspired Scriptures also which command us, that those that are strong should bear the infirmities of those that are weak 405, and that we should not have regard to our own affairs but to the interest of others 406, and texts that agree with those. And, while was writing and speaking |147 these things, I showed caution in every point, and did not trust to myself in everything, but awaited the assent of the saintly Dioscorus my fellow-minister who shares my opinions, and Eleusinius 407 and Proclus 408 the God-loving bishops from Cappadocia I took from the beginning as my fellow-communicants and now hold them as such, since they have anathematized the synod of Chalcedon by many signatures in no small number of tomes: but Soteric 409 who offered us a covenant of union and conjunction I passed over, for I did not wish to term him our fellow-communicant by letter (how could I so term one who is not bound in communion?) Wherefore also Asterius, his God-loving brother, and bishop of Nyssa, is ready to leave the see. So for our part we held to our own principles and did not give any man, to speak in the words of Scripture, cause of offence 410. For we know positively and we say openly 411 that you have formed an execrable purpose that is not pleasing to God. And I beg your learning not to bestow this foolish favour on me at all, and hide what was written by me, but make it known, if possible, to everyone. What sense is there in |148 our promising something difficult on account of an insignificant cause of fear, and in fact taking the opposite course?
Of the same from the letter to Hippocrates the Alexandrine scholastic, the beginning of which is, «And I have not learned to jest at divine things as on a stage».
But as to the edict I have often said to your wisdom what my position is, and it seems a piece of perversity that we should sing 412 to no purpose about the same things; for whether you remember or do not remember is the same to me. While the things wickedly done at Chalcedon against the orthodox faith are not anathematized by name, no argument can persuade me like an interpreter of dreams to expound and forcibly understand the text of the edict as a rejection of the unlawful things. (And again he says of the Henotikon.) For it contains a right confession of faith only, though by itself it be destitute of healing for what is required. |149
Of the same from the same letter.
And, when all the bishops of the East were present at Antioch 413, and anathematized the synod in writing, and we addressed a synodical letter to Timothy the prelate of the royal city, we anathematized what was done at Chalcedon against the orthodox faith, and the Jewish Tome of Leo, and those who call our one Lord and God Jesus Christ two natures after the incomprehensible union. And afterwards, when innumerable attacks were made upon me, insomuch that the glorious Asterius, the ex-prefect 414 of the city, who held the office called a secretis 415, was sent after me, I was not in the least frightened, nor did I fear, nor yield to the time, though he said, «The kingdom of the Romans is in a turmoil 416 on account of this», but I plainly said, «I am ready to leave the city and resign the see, rather than upset one stroke of what I wrote from the beginning in the synodical words addressed to Timothy»: and this I did not say without writing it down, but I expressed myself with freedom 417 in writing to the religious king also. |150
XLVII. -------- OF THE SAME FROM ANOTHER LETTER TO THE SAME HIPPOCRATES, THE BEGINNING OF WHICH IS, «That which brings your wisdom». [516-7.]
But this you may keep firmly and fixedly in your mind, that no one shall be our fellow-communicant, nor will we consent to greet by letter any man who at the same time receives the wicked synod at Chalcedon contrary to the law, and does not anathematize the Tome of Leo. But, if any concession is necessary 418, I will stand within the ordinances of the holy Timothy 419, considering the general benefit of a union of the holy churches, and demanding an open anathema of the things done at Chalcedon against the orthodox faith, and of the wicked Tome of Leo, and of those who speak of two natures after the union, and the operations of these and their properties. But, if these things are upset, no argument nor inducement shall persuade me to assent to the wickedness. For I say like Paul, «It is better for me to die, than that anyone should make my boasting vain: for, if I so preach, I have no |151 cause of boasting; for necessity is laid upon me, and woe to me unless I so preach, since so I have received»420.
XLVIII. -------- FOR THE HOLY SEVERUS SAID IN A LETTER TO HIPPOCRATES. [516-7.]
This therefore I testify to all who confess the right faith according to the apostolic command, before God and Christ the Son, who shall judge living and dead at his appearance and in his kingdom, that for my part I even now also have believed that I have stood and stand as a mediator between the holy church of Alexander's city and that of the city of Antiochus, holding the right hand of each of them, and I will hold inseparably to the confessions in which both have been united, although I pass beyond the bounds of Gades or of the end of the inhabited earth.
XLIX. -------- OF THE SAME FROM THE LETTER TO DIOSCORUS PATRIARCH OF ALEXANDRIA. [516-7.]
But perhaps it is good to say, both to our people and to all strangers, |152 that, if the time of concession call, to catch one who is separated and to gain him, I prescribe a formula that does not exceed what is right, but goes in the middle of the king's highway 421, a formula which anathematizes by name the things done at Chalcedon against the orthodox faith, and against those who contended on behalf of this, and the wicked Tome of Leo, who became chief of the church of the Romans, and those who call our one Lord and God Jesus Christ two natures after the divine and ineffable union, there being also expressly joined with these things the right confession contained in the edict of Zeno of pious ending, for the rejection of the wicked synod at Chalcedon. If the things blasphemously and unlawfully done at that synod, and the polluted Tome of Leo, and those who after the union divide the one Christ into a duality of natures, are not anathematized, though the edict or Henotikon is taken as a rejection of these things, I do not consider this sufficient for persuasion, as was also declared in the proceedings 422 held among you. |153
L.-------- OF THE SAME FROM THE LETTER TO DIOSCORUS BISHOP OF ALEXANDRIA. [516-7.]
But neither can I consent to the proposals that come from your religiousness, nor is it reasonable for me to form a judgment upon the things written by the other party as if something certain were in question, even if it were an angel who says these things: for can I ratify words without witnesses and without verification while we are at a distance?
LI. -------- AND THIS AGAIN THE HOLY SEVERUS STATES IN THE LETTER TO AMANTIUS THE CHAMBERLAIN, IN REFERENCE TO EPIPHANIUS METROPOLITAN OF TYRE 423, «Even if he repents, I cannot receive him, lest the church be rent asunder in that he has wounded the feelings of many»; FOR HE SAID THUS: [513-8.]
Now therefore I have thought it necessary to write this present short letter and inform you that the good and gentle Epiphanius of the city |154 of the Tyrians exalted himself against my great weakness, and he became an example to others to secede; but he has also wounded the hearts of all the believers, as if I, who confess the right faith, were hurling myself against that impious man, who exalts himself both against the divine commands and against church order; so that, if I wish, it is no longer permissible for me to receive him in communion, even if he repents, since every man's conscience has already been wounded because of him.
LII. -------- OF THE SAME FROM THE 2nd LETTER TO THE SAME PHILIP THE PRESBYTER AND MONK 424 ABOUT THE FORMATION OF MAN, AND THAT THE MONASTIC HABIT FREES FROM PREVIOUS SINS.
And now I turn to the statement made by your religiousness, that one of those who live an ascetic life of philosophic labour, after he had come and presented himself for ordination 425 in order that he might officiate as a priest to God, having afterwards come to remember his life, and the sins that he had committed in his boyhood, and all the rest of his life, and having learned |155 that the canon requires blamelessness, sought to range himself outside the priestly ministry, and in a way renounce ordination 426, and satisfy the canon. How is this endurable? tell me; and how is it anything but a result of false modesty? You write that this man has lived both with earnestness and according to the ordinances of philosophy 427, and, to speak in the language of Scripture, looks to himself 428. If the facts of that great sin which cuts off from the priesthood or from the ministry had happened after the profession of monastic life, then there would have been reason for modesty to play its part. But, where the facts of the sin happened firsthand the enrolling in philosophy followed, how is it right to feel fear where no fear is 429? We believe, not without the divine Spirit, that the holy habit of the monastic life carries forgiveness of sins, and strips off the old man 'who is corrupted in the lusts of error', and puts on 'the new man who was created in God, in righteousness and sanctity of truth' 430, as the wise Paul somewhere said in writing. I adduce, although I am addressing those who know, in confirmation of what has been stated, |156 the vision which that heavenly man the great Antony saw. What in fact does the man who told the story of his life say, the divine Athanasius who is among the high-priests? «When he was about to eat, and had risen to pray at the 9th hour, he felt his consciousness lifted up, and (wonderful to relate!) he felt himself standing and seeing himself, as if he had been taken outside him, and as if he were being led into the air by some men, and afterwards some grievous and cruel men standing in the air and seeking to prevent him from passing. And, when the conductors opposed, these required an account to know if he were not liable to them; but, when they sought to make an account from his birth, those who were leading Antony prevented it, saying to these: 'What happened from his birth the Lord has wiped out; but you may inquire into the time since he became a monk and made profession to God'. Then upon their making charges and failing to convict, the road was made free and unimpeded before him. And immediately he saw himself standing, as if he had come to himself, and that he was again wholly Antony» 431. Guided therefore by this divine command, I have answered the present question; and I affirm and say with confidence that that modest man |157 must retain the priestly ministry, since with his very scrupulousness and carefulness he has conferred a great benefit upon us, and by the wise and modest question has astringed with apostolic salt those who gape for priestly offices, and fun after ordinations 432, like the pomp 433 and honours of the world, and those whose minds are fixed on pride or on visions of things here, and who treat as of no account the judgments which we shall receive for these things, when the day of judgment arrives, which will assuredly come, and is spoken of by every one's mouth, but is looked for by few as it should be looked for.
LIII. ---- OF THE HOLY SEVERUS FROM THE LETTER TO CAESARIA THE HYPATISSA 434, WHICH BEGINS, «Again of this letter also let God be the beginning». [519-38.]
You are acting rightly and as befits women who profess religion in asking everything without shame; for there is one thing only that brings shame, if through sin we come in conflict with God's laws, and fall under the |158 judgment of divine wrath. I. Know therefore that a woman who has the usual flow of blood ought not to communicate in the divine communion till the blood ceases to come. II. On the same principle, in the case of one also who has held the chaste intercourse of the couch with a lawful husband, after the same intercourse, it is not in accordance with religion that she should for the space of a day receive the most mysterious food: for these things increase men's awe and clearness of vision as regards the practice of religion and the worship of God.
In the apostolic injunctions something like this is written about a widow who is appointed in the churches: «But, after she enters upon her functions, as has been said, let her not be concerned with anything, but be alone, for the purpose of undisturbed prayers; for to such a widow solitude is a foundation of holiness and of life: for she has had no pleasure in anyone else but the God of gods, the Father in heaven. But at stated times let her give praise apart, at night and in the morning. If she have a menstruation, let her remain in the church, but not approach the altar; not that she is polluted, but because honour is due to the altar» 435. For the sake |159 of confirmation we have also adduced the answers of the blessed and saintly Timothy, the great bishop of Alexandria, who was at the time of the synod of the 150 bishops, which in giving instruction on such matters write for us in agreement with the apostles, and on the present point enjoin as follows: Question V; if a woman be with her husband at night, whether she ought to receive or not; Answer. «They ought not to receive immediately, since the apostle cries: 'Deprive not one another, unless it be by consent for a time' (by 'time' he means that which is occupied with communion), 'that ye may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again, lest Satan tempt you concerning the lust of incontinence'»: and again: Question VII; if a believing woman see that which is customary among women, whether she ought to approach the mysteries on the same day, or not. Answer. «A religious woman therefore who is about to receive of the divine communion ought to prepare herself beforehand before that day, and abstain from the lawful couch, in honour of the body and blood of God»436. |160
LIV. ---- FROM THE LETTER OF THE HOLY SEVERUS, PATRIARCH OF ANTIOCH, TO CAESARIA THE HYPATISSA, THE BEGINNING OF WHICH is «The words that were addressed to me by your God-loving highness». [519-38.]
[The order of service of me, Severus, in Palestine and in Antioch they continue to sing even down to this day.
The office 437.
The service of night and evening] 438. But I wish your God-loving highness to know that the order of- hymns and odes has been preserved in one form among the Egyptians, in another among the Palestinians and Phoenicians, and in another among the Syrians, according to the custom that has been handed down from the beginning in each of the regions.....439 |161
LV. ---- OF THE HOLY SEVERUS FROM THE 21st HYPOMNESTIKON TO CAESARIA THE HYPATISSA. [519-33.]
But, as to the kings, hear a story of the holy old men that has been transmitted and has come down to us. They said that the religious king Theodosius sent someone secretly to father Nisthora 440 the God-clad old man, begging of him to pray that a male child might be given him: and, on the day on which the messenger reached his cell in the desert, it happened that that old man died two or three hours before; and, when that man knocked at the door, immediately the old man rose up and sat down according to his custom to make a rope 441 of palm-leaves; and he said to his disciple, «Bring in the man who knocked»: and when he came in he said to him, «Say to Theodosius, 'Because God loves you, he will not give you a malakion; for after your reign the faith shall be corrupted; and the faith of Nestorius shall prevail, and God does not wish the evil to be done through your seed'» (The Egyptians call a male infant malakion, as the Byzantines call it |162 philikarion): and, when that man had gone out, that old man again lay down and fell asleep and departed to God. This father Nisthora was a celebrated man, so that his words are recorded in several of the books which contain tales of the holy old men. So long therefore as the synod of Chalcedon is in force, it is impossible for a king to beget sons 442, or, if he beget one, to leave the kingdom to his son. And this was both foretold by those holy men, and in the days of Leo the king proved by experience: for Leontarius the younger was actually created Caesar, and died an untimely death before his father 443. Vainly therefore does he err who deceives himself.
LVI. ---- OF MAR SEVERUS TO CAESARIA THE HYPATISSA, BY WAY OF DEFENCE FOR HIS OWN FEAR AND TIMIDITY, AND THAT TO FEAR WHEN IT HAS HAPPENED THAT TRIALS BESET US WORKS A REWARD AND IS A MARK OF LOVE OF GOD. [519(?).]
David that king and lover of God and prophet, who was more humble than all men, when Saul had twice armed himself against him, with many |163 thousands of armed men and warlike soldiers, and, after being in a way caught, he not only escaped in a marvellous manner from the danger 444 which surrounded him, but even captured with his hands the man who had armed himself against him, and he had it in his power to kill him, mercifully spared him twice, that enemy and murderer who was so ferociously set against him. And yet, [after] he had received such an experience of God's support and protection, hear what kind of things he meditates and says [in] his mind when he is debating with himself. «And David said in his heart, 'Now shall I [be delivered] one day into Saul's hands and there is nothing good for me, unless I escape to the land of aliens, and Saul cease searching for me through the whole border of Israel, and I escape from his [hand]'. And David arose and the 600 men who were with him; and he went to Achish son of Maacah, [King of Gath]; and David settled with Achish in Gath he and his men» 445. Where therefore was then Caesaria the strongest of all persons in faith, in order that she might have said to David also who was [meditating] and doing such things, «Whither flee you, O prophet? Rather 446 |164 you are forgetting God's [high and] constant right hand, which saved you and delivered that adversary and foeman into your hands, faithless thoughts have gained control of you»; and, «The land of the mightiness of that Exalted one is more worthy of confidence for your protection than that of Achish the barbarian. It seems to me that the words escape your memory which you yourself ... sing by the Holy Spirit, which, I believe, run: 'Many are the tribulations of the righteous, and the Lord will deliver them out of them all. The Lord preserveth all their bones, and not one of them shall be broken'; and again, 'The Lord will deliver the souls of his own bondmen' 447»? In answer to these things David would say, «Listen, my daughter, and incline thine ear' 448. I know the purport of the spiritual songs that were sung by me better than you: but I also know the God of all, who beyond all hope snatches his own peculiar bondmen out of all dangers 449, and again, exercising them, also leaves them to adopt plans derived from human thoughts, and weapons drawn from nature, in order that they may also flee and choose to suffer everything, and not betray God, and do aught that distresses him. If we trusted to his help and were incapable of falling, not weakening in |165 anything of ourselves or contributing anything, the virtue would be without reward; or rather 450 there would be no room at all to perform anything whatever, or to show any kind of success».
For this reason therefore Moses the great was afraid of the king of Egypt and fled, and became a sojourner in the land of Midian for 40 years, and again he returned to Egypt, and transfers the fear to the king, and he chastised that obstinate and disobedient man with plagues by means of the marvellous signs. [And the one] was the effect of the virtue of Moses, that is [the affair] of the flight by which he fled, in order to bring just help to his countrymen who were being oppressed, while the other was the effect of the mightiness of God, the display of the great wonders.
And Elijah the prophet, fearing the threat of Jezebel, the wife of that prodigal 451 and impious man, was a fugitive, he who bound the clouds for three years and six months, and dried up the land with drought, and again by a word brought down rain. But Paul also, the great in signs and wonders, was let down from the wall in a basket 452 by the disciples in Damascus |166 and fled, when the Jews wanted to kill him; and those who took pleasure in hearing his teaching did not say, «Let the teacher stay with us that we may hear his very pleasant exposition, by means of which he causes the venomous reptiles to flee like a stag» (I mean the demons and evil spirits that are envious and hostile against the salvation of men).
(After other things). And the Lord also, the Giver of powers, not being a teacher of timidity, said, «When they persecute you in this city, flee ye to another» 453, wishing us not to trust in our own strength, but rather 454 be anxious about such things, and, when at his permission conditions of trial beset us, then indeed we must fight bravely.
LVII. -------- OF THE BLESSED MAR SEVERUS, CONCERNING ORDINATION 455.
The test of true ordination3 is not the matter of the see, but holding the right faith in God. |167
LVIII. ---- To ZENOBIUS 456. [513-8.]
But he who is lacking in wisdom and virtue is under blame; and he who is under blame is under sin.
LIX. -------- FROM THE LETTER TO ANDREW THE PRESBYTER 457. [519-33.]
For the mind that is burdened by the dull weight of demons does not receive the spiritual first word.
LX. ---- OF MAR SEVERUS FROM THE LETTER TO JOHN ARCHIMANDRITE OF THE HOUSE OF MAR HANANYA.
When I learned that the presbyter and archimandrite Beronician (?) 458 of saintly memory had departed and migrated to the heavenly mansions, partly from outside report, and partly from his revered letter, which at his decease |168 he left for me as a blessing 459, which is truly full of all spiritual blessing, then I was distressed and my heart gave me bitter pain; and not only did I lament for his decease, but I also lifted the eyes of my mind together with my body upwards, and lifted up my voice to him, as to one who hears and perceives; for indeed he does even perceive the truth, «My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and the horsemen thereof» 460.
LXI. ---- OF THE HOLY SEVERUS THE PATRIARCH, A LETTER TO THE HOLY CONVENTS OF VIRGINS OF CHRIST. [519-25.]
An identical copy 461 to each one of them.
That a church is a confession of right faith no one who is reckoned among Christians and has understanding doubts, since the Lord plainly said in the Gospels to the divine Peter, the first of the apostles, when he made the confession, «Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God», «Thou art Cephas, and upon this rock will I build my church, and the gates of Sheol shall not |169 prevail against it» 462; and he called the firmness and fixity of such a confession a rock. And, as speech knows a right and sound opinion on faith as a church, so it also knows the believers who confess it as a church. And David the wonderful among prophets, depicting this church beforehand as a queen and a virgin clad in various kinds of flowers and in royal excellencies, and for this reason all the more and 463 in loving fashion espoused to the king, and gathering many virgin souls, and attracting them to her pattern and the example of her chaste life, said, «Virgins shall go to the king after her» 464. You also therefore showed by your writings and acts, after choosing the virgin and angelic life, that is free from all material things, that you are walking after the queen and first virgin, the church. See therefore that you turn not your looks away, but with all diligence look intently and securely and fixedly at her, and cleave to her, in order that, being hard by, you may enter the king's temple, which is the expected rest, and the suprasensual bridal-chamber, concerning which the same prophet again said, «Holy is thy temple, and wonderful in righteousness» 465: |170 For it excites wonder as something holy and raised above earthly deeds and thoughts, and it cannot be expressed and explained in words, but shows by experience to those who are worthy what manner of thing it is; and, looking at the bountiful right hand of the Giver, they will say, «Pleasure is in thy right hand for ever» 466. These things may your chastities find, showing as you do the lamp of asceticism in its brightness, through keeping the orthodox faith; for, when this is absent, the lamp inasmuch as it lacks oil cannot give light 467. Be not therefore remiss in labours, but sustain yourselves on the hope of the future life, and look for a reward to be added to the now existing troubles, and ask the God of all not to allow us to be tried beyond what we can bear, but with the trial to give also a way of escape, that we may be able to endure 468. And these things we have written in few words, being as we are at a distance and in varying and unwonted places; but every day we are with you in spirit, and speak similar words.
This text was transcribed by Roger Pearse, Ipswich, UK, 2003. All material on this page is in the public domain - copy freely.
Greek text is rendered using the Scholars Press SPIonic font, free from here.
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