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Aflame but not consumed: Nestorius and the person of Christ

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 August 2020

Kirsten Heacock Sanders*
Affiliation:
Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Hamiliton, MA, USA
*
*Corresponding author. E-mail: ksanders@gordonconwell.edu

Abstract

Though Nestorius is often thought to have erred largely due to his christological views, this article will suggest that it was his hamartiology that led to his errant christological claims.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2020

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References

1 Among them: Chadwick, Henry, ‘Eucharist and Christology in the Nestorian Controversy’, Journal of Theological Studies, ns 2 (1951), pp. 145–64CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Turner, H. E. W., ‘Nestorius Reconsidered’, Studia Patristica 13 (1975), pp. 306–21Google Scholar; Milton, Anastos, ‘Nestorius was Orthodox’, Dumbarton Oaks Papers, 16 (1962), pp. 117–40Google Scholar; Wilken, Robert, ‘Tradition, Exegesis and the Christological Controversies’, Church History 34/2 (1965), pp. 123–45CrossRefGoogle Scholar. See also the monograph by Loofs, Fredrich, Nestorius and His Place in the History of Christian Doctrine (Cambridge: CUP, 1914)Google Scholar.

2 See Jones, Paul Dafydd, The Humanity of Christ: Christology in Karl Barth's Church Dogmatics (London: T&T Clark, 2008), pp. 1659Google Scholar.

3 He could not affirm what later came to be called the communication idiomatum. For more on the communication of idioms, see Weinandy, Thomas, Does God Suffer? (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 2000), pp. 172213CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

4 Norris, Richard A., The Christological Controversy (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1980), p. 130Google Scholar.

5 See Riches, Aaron, Ecce Homo: On the Divine Unity of Christ (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2016), pp. 21–3Google Scholar.

6 Ibid., p. 30, n. 40; quoting McGuckin, John, Saint Cyril of Alexandria and the Christological Controversy (Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2004), p. 131Google Scholar.

7 See Carl Braaten's excellent discussion of modern approaches to the question in his Modern Interpretations of Nestorius’, Church History 32/3 (1963), pp. 251–67, esp. pp. 254–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar. See also Riches, Ecce Homo, p. 31: ‘Nestorius’ dyophysite doctrine of Christ therefore requires two prosopa, which in turn confirms that some of Jesus’ acts are “human”, while others are “divine”.’

8 For more on Loofs and his relation to other recent literature on Nestorius, see Braaten, ‘Modern Interpretations of Nestorius’, p. 256.

9 Ibid., p. 259.

10 The most helpful treatment of the competitive and non-competitive options for the relation between God and humanity comes from Tanner, Kathryn, God and Creation in Christian Theology (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2005), esp. ch. 2Google Scholar.

11 One of the most interesting thinkers on the question of an ontological link between the divine and the human is Sergius Bulgakov, whose opening chapter in Lamb of God, titled ‘The Dialectic of the Idea of Divine-Humanity in the Patristic Epoch’, makes for extremely compelling reading, even if his conclusions are somewhat overwrought. See Bulgakov, Sergius, Lamb of God, trans. Jakim, Boris (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2008), pp. 119–56Google Scholar.

12 These are Kathryn Tanner's words in Jesus, Humanity and the Trinity (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2001), p. 3.

13 For the purposes of this article, I intend ‘body of Christ’ to refer to the actual, physical Jesus of Nazareth, though the temptation to speak ecclesially always lingers.

14 Norris, Christological Controversy, p. 129.

15 Ibid., p. 125.

16 Ibid., p. 123.

17 Ibid., p. 124.

19 Ibid., p. 136.

20 Ibid., p. 137.

24 Ibid., p. 138.

26 Susan Wessel notes that there were political concerns at play here due to the economic significance of the relationship between the monks in Egypt and Alexandria. See Wessel, Susan, Cyril of Alexandria and the Nestorian Controversy: The Making of a Saint and a Heretic (Oxford: OUP, 2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

27 According to Chadwick, it is not the case that Nestorius denied the Theotokos entirely; rather he simply required that the Apollinarian implications of the term be covered up with the addition of Anthropotokos. See Chadwick, ‘Eucharist and Christology’, p. 149, n. 1.

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