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Cyril of Alexandria was the leading voice of Nicene orthodoxy in the Christological controversies between Constantinople (381) and Chalcedon (451). Assuming the mantle of the Cappadotian fathers, he answered the auguments of Nestorius who had changed the liturgy of Constantinople by altering the prayer which referred to Mary as the Mother of God. Although he died seven yea Cyril of Alexandria was the leading voice of Nicene orthodoxy in the Christological controversies between Constantinople (381) and Chalcedon (451). Assuming the mantle of the Cappadotian fathers, he answered the auguments of Nestorius who had changed the liturgy of Constantinople by altering the prayer which referred to Mary as the Mother of God. Although he died seven years before the Council of Chalcedon, his writings and formulations heavily influenced not only Chalcedon, but the entire trajectory of orthodox christological thought. (Summary by Jonathan Lange)


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Cyril of Alexandria was the leading voice of Nicene orthodoxy in the Christological controversies between Constantinople (381) and Chalcedon (451). Assuming the mantle of the Cappadotian fathers, he answered the auguments of Nestorius who had changed the liturgy of Constantinople by altering the prayer which referred to Mary as the Mother of God. Although he died seven yea Cyril of Alexandria was the leading voice of Nicene orthodoxy in the Christological controversies between Constantinople (381) and Chalcedon (451). Assuming the mantle of the Cappadotian fathers, he answered the auguments of Nestorius who had changed the liturgy of Constantinople by altering the prayer which referred to Mary as the Mother of God. Although he died seven years before the Council of Chalcedon, his writings and formulations heavily influenced not only Chalcedon, but the entire trajectory of orthodox christological thought. (Summary by Jonathan Lange)

30 review for That Christ Is One (LibriVox Audiobook)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Matt Pitts

    This was my devotional/theological reading for Christmas and I enjoyed it even more than I had hoped. Cyril addresses many difficult texts and questions near the end that even someone not interested in ancient Christological heresies and orthodox responses to them would find helpful and insightful. I love this series - I have now read 4 of them (Melito of Sardis, Irenaeus, Athanasius, and now Cyril of Alexandria). The introductions are excellent and the translations are smooth and wonderfully re This was my devotional/theological reading for Christmas and I enjoyed it even more than I had hoped. Cyril addresses many difficult texts and questions near the end that even someone not interested in ancient Christological heresies and orthodox responses to them would find helpful and insightful. I love this series - I have now read 4 of them (Melito of Sardis, Irenaeus, Athanasius, and now Cyril of Alexandria). The introductions are excellent and the translations are smooth and wonderfully readable.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Zach Miller

    This book is good, but very repetitive. The entire book is essentially an attack on Nestorianism and an exposition of how the Divine Word did not conjoin himself with a preexistent man in the incarnation, but became man by assuming humanity into himself, making human flesh, along with all of its characteristics and weaknesses, his very own.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Luke Stamps

    Phenomenal. Lucid, biblical defense of the orthodox doctrine of the incarnation against the Nestorian heresy. Should be on a very short list of classics in Christian theology.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ben Chidester

    Cyril of Alexandria is one of the prominent figures of church history on Christology (he remains the definitive voice on the matter in the Eastern Orthodox church) and this is, according to the editor, his most mature and eloquent work on the subject. It is short and fairly accessible to one with some familiarity with the famous Christologic debates of church history. This work is surely important, both historically and for the church today, as believers can still benefit from his exposition of t Cyril of Alexandria is one of the prominent figures of church history on Christology (he remains the definitive voice on the matter in the Eastern Orthodox church) and this is, according to the editor, his most mature and eloquent work on the subject. It is short and fairly accessible to one with some familiarity with the famous Christologic debates of church history. This work is surely important, both historically and for the church today, as believers can still benefit from his exposition of the mysterious union of Christ as both God and man. Reading it helped arm me with several unique arguments against any view that would diminish Christ's divinity. But, having read both Theodoret (his primary contemporary rival) and Reformed expositions of Christology, I found it not to be as satisfying as I'd hoped or expected. Cyril easily handles the arguments of the "two Sons" perspective, but when it comes to the true subtleties of the Antiochian position (at least as expressed by Theodoret) and those that pertain to the Reformed, which are often pitted against Cyril, he seems to evade them or to frankly concede them. Cyril is known for pressing the provocative paradoxes of Christology against his opponents, as the editor notes in the introduction. At one point, Cyril makes such a provocation - that after the Incarnation Christ has only one nature ("We say there is one Son, and that he has one nature even when he is considered as having assumed flesh endowed with a rational soul." pg. 77), a claim zealously pressed by his later supporters and vehemently refuted by his opponents. But later in the work, in explaining the common Antiochian concern of how the impassible God could have suffered, he resorts to distinguishing the natures ("He suffers in his own flesh, and not in the nature of the Godhead." pg. 130). He repeatedly qualifies the provocative statements associated with him based upon the particular nature in view: that Mary is the mother of God, only after the flesh; that God died, but only his flesh and not his divine nature. These are precisely the qualifications argued for by Theodoret and the Reformed; despite all the strife between the two sides, at least in this work, their expositions of Christology seem to be identical on the contentious points. At the few points where I perceived possible difference, disappointingly, I found Cyril's explanation of his thought too imprecise. Cyril's style was a bit off-putting as well. Frequently, he deflected his interlocutor's questions by simply accusing them of impiety. On several key critiques, he seemed to avoid the question directly or miss its subtlety or merely proof-text, without giving a positive explanation. In this regard, I much preferred the acumen of Theodoret in his Dialogues. As for the introduction by McGuckin, it is helpful for setting the stage, especially for those with little background to the debates with Nestorious. Yet it is not without some tendentious apologetics for Cyril, and I wish the description of Cyril's Christology would have been more pertinent to the present work - that the tensions mentioned above would have been reckoned with. The theology of Cyril presented is one that seems incongruous with his candid statements on precisely the pressing subtleties that sparked the debate.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    A very good book: the major takeaway point that Cyril makes is that Scripture speaks as though Jesus was God and God died on the cross. If we're not to be impious and predicate suffering of divinity or omnipresence of a man, then we need to say that the person of Christ is both divine and human, though the two natures are not mingled. It's also likely that Cyril misunderstood Nestorius, but he was right that Nestorius' policing of the phrase "Mary is the mother of God" was unreasonable, given wh A very good book: the major takeaway point that Cyril makes is that Scripture speaks as though Jesus was God and God died on the cross. If we're not to be impious and predicate suffering of divinity or omnipresence of a man, then we need to say that the person of Christ is both divine and human, though the two natures are not mingled. It's also likely that Cyril misunderstood Nestorius, but he was right that Nestorius' policing of the phrase "Mary is the mother of God" was unreasonable, given what Scripture says elsewhere (i.e. Jn. 1:14). We need more of Cyril's care about what we say about God; he needed more categories than orthodox, confused, and heretical. I wouldn't recommend this to a layman, but a very good sermon otherwise.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kojo Asante

    Great read! It was long, but it was worth it! Cyril does a great job breaking down the orthodox belief of the person of Christ!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jon Beadle

    I just love how intense the church fathers get about everything. They pull no punches. We have yet to recover their courage, not just their theology.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Glenn Wishnew III

    Powerful. A remarkable work of theology.

  9. 4 out of 5

    G Walker

    Before reading St. Cyril, I was highly suspect of him... I had read too much from the secular world by way of history during that time and he seemed like a bit of a radical... here, he firmly establishes himself of a lover of Christ and the Trinity and also he proves himself to be a stalwart defender (and definer) of Orthodox. Good stuff - but not without some effort (that is you will need to know the broader context of his theological context and the concerns/debates of his time in order to ful Before reading St. Cyril, I was highly suspect of him... I had read too much from the secular world by way of history during that time and he seemed like a bit of a radical... here, he firmly establishes himself of a lover of Christ and the Trinity and also he proves himself to be a stalwart defender (and definer) of Orthodox. Good stuff - but not without some effort (that is you will need to know the broader context of his theological context and the concerns/debates of his time in order to fully appreciate what he is addressing).

  10. 4 out of 5

    Nathan Albright

    Being a reader deeply interested in the Monophysite controversy, which is a deeply obscure one even if it had momentous historical consequences for Christendom in the Middle East, sometimes means reading material that is of great importance but not necessarily well known [1].  In the case of this particular book, the context of the book is as important as its contents.  The occasion for the writing of this deeply entertaining rhetorical exercise was the dispute over Nestorian beliefs that posite Being a reader deeply interested in the Monophysite controversy, which is a deeply obscure one even if it had momentous historical consequences for Christendom in the Middle East, sometimes means reading material that is of great importance but not necessarily well known [1].  In the case of this particular book, the context of the book is as important as its contents.  The occasion for the writing of this deeply entertaining rhetorical exercise was the dispute over Nestorian beliefs that posited two separate natures of Jesus Christ.  The author, of course, represented what was then an orthodox perspective of defending the unity of Christ against the heretical division between Christ as human being and as son of God.  Unfortunately, though, for Christendom in Egypt as a whole, the author's own political issues meant that his triumph against his opponents in the Christological disputes about the nature of Christ was marred by problems at home that led to the foundation of the Coptic Church and the split of Christendom in the Middle East between no less than three separate and hostile traditions whose views on Christ divided them irrevocably to the present-day. This short book of about 150 pages or so is mostly divided into two parts.  After some abbreviations and a preface, the first third of the book or so is taken up by an introduction that contains a great deal of biographical information about Cyril as well as some discussions about the Christological doctrinal beliefs of the author.  The author argues, reasonably, that a great deal of the problems that Alexandrine (Coptic) Christianity faced after the fall and death of Cyril could have been resolved with a more savvy and less ferocious bishop who was capable of defending his position with nuance, but the local church politics of Egypt and the greater church politics dealing with Asia Minor were ultimately at cross purposes.  Most of the rest of the book is taken up with the work On The Unity of Christ as a whole, which is a humorous dialogue where Cyril (A.) continuously makes short work of his less able Nestorian debate partner B.  If you like debates of this nature where the author makes his own side far more appealing and makes the other side a bit ridiculous but not entirely so, this book will likely be one to enjoy.  After this comes an index and an index of biblical references. There are a few obvious insights that one can gain in reading this book.  For one, this book shows the clear intellectual nature of Hellenistic Christianity in its love of Greek rhetoric, where scripture is used, but where the main focus is on impressing pagan and pagan-educated readers with the excellence and skill of one's argumentation.  For another, the author's forthright and able defense of the unity of Christ led others to argue for the unity of Christ in ways that were (if biblically sound) unacceptable to others at the time which had different concerns relating to the nature of Christ.  The humor of this book, therefore, has a somewhat melancholy edge in that its position about the unity of Christ helped prompt an argument about that unity that destroyed the unity of Christendom in that part of the world, where Cyril's successors proved themselves less politically able and less able to express themselves with nuance and moderation in order to preserve that ecclesiastical union, which had fateful consequences for the well-being of Christianity in the Eastern Roman Empire that no one could foresee at the time. [1] See, for example: https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2018... https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2018... https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2018... https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2018...

  11. 5 out of 5

    Bruce

    After Nicene-Constantinoplean Creed solved the problem of the divinity of Chris and the Holy Spirit, the two natures of Christ became an issue. Cyril’s solution was a complex unity of divinity and humanity in one nature (miaphysis, not monophysis). The eternal Son took on flesh and was made in human form through virgin birth. The mode of union is incomprehensible (p 23). Compares it to the union of soul and body. God took on human flesh economically to substitute for human suffering thereby unit After Nicene-Constantinoplean Creed solved the problem of the divinity of Chris and the Holy Spirit, the two natures of Christ became an issue. Cyril’s solution was a complex unity of divinity and humanity in one nature (miaphysis, not monophysis). The eternal Son took on flesh and was made in human form through virgin birth. The mode of union is incomprehensible (p 23). Compares it to the union of soul and body. God took on human flesh economically to substitute for human suffering thereby unity humanity to God ontologically. In Cyril’s view, the Incarnation was not the debasement of God, but he exaltation of man. Cyril takes the divine human unity of Jesus down to the point of suffering economically without suffering as God. His solution is paradox of passible-impassibility (p 53). This goes farther than any other theology of divine suffering. Does not solve the problem of divine suffering as the eternal God.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Tyler Lund-Hansen

    Obviously, this is a book about Christology (and a good one at that.) But, like all theology, it never sticks to just one doctrine. There are a host matter pertaining to soteriology and sanctification, too. To Cyril, the Word of God takes on our flesh so that we can have what is God's. Christ elevates our life into the bosom of the Father. When faithful Christians speak of Jesus being fully human and fully divine, it isn't so that we can win an argument. God became a human so that we humans can g Obviously, this is a book about Christology (and a good one at that.) But, like all theology, it never sticks to just one doctrine. There are a host matter pertaining to soteriology and sanctification, too. To Cyril, the Word of God takes on our flesh so that we can have what is God's. Christ elevates our life into the bosom of the Father. When faithful Christians speak of Jesus being fully human and fully divine, it isn't so that we can win an argument. God became a human so that we humans can get our lives back. Because this book was written almost two centuries ago, it's sort of impossible to write a brief summary. Instead, I'll include some of my favorite quotes. "And we too are transformed in Christ, the first fruits, to be above corruption and sin." "Indeed they mystery of Christ runs the risk of being disbelieved precisely because it is so incredibly wonderful."

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ron Offringa

    Cyril does a fantastic job of working through the details of the Incarnation and what it means for God to have taken on flesh. He uses a sort of Socratic method to battle his opponents, the Nestorians, who try to divide the two natures of Christ. Definitely helpful in understanding the hypostatic union.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Noah Nevils

    Loved it. With some Patristic works, I have a hard time seeing the force of a lot of the arguments deployed, but I found this quite congenial to my 21st century, Reformed way of doing theology. Cyril hewed close to Scripture and turned to it for support constantly in this work. Also, I think we could do worse than go back to the dialogue as a format for theological treatises.

  15. 4 out of 5

    w gall

    This is the patristic foundation of Orthodox Christian Christology. Very understandable. I'm not sure St. Cyril fully understood what Nestorius believed, as he declared he did not believe in two sons. But his terminology, it is said, could be taken that way, and St. Cyril did an inestimable service to the Church by refuting such an interpretation. This is the patristic foundation of Orthodox Christian Christology. Very understandable. I'm not sure St. Cyril fully understood what Nestorius believed, as he declared he did not believe in two sons. But his terminology, it is said, could be taken that way, and St. Cyril did an inestimable service to the Church by refuting such an interpretation.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Josiah

    One of my favorite patristic reads - an excellent theological explanation of the incarnation, with some hilarious polemic and sarcasm thrown in as a bonus. Ah, the lost art of insightfully articulating orthodox Christology while simultaneously tossing scathing insults at those who disagree!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Robby Rami

    Short but dense. Very basically put, a discourse on why Christ is part of the trinity, and nothing less. This came at a time when Arianism was a popular alternative belief for Christians, believing Jesus to be of lower status than G-d the Father.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Nathaniel Martin

    Excellent. Cyril tackles a number of questions about Christ's incarnation with biblical and theological fidelity. It should also be said that the Popular Patristic edition includes an informative and well written introduction by John A. McGurkin. Excellent. Cyril tackles a number of questions about Christ's incarnation with biblical and theological fidelity. It should also be said that the Popular Patristic edition includes an informative and well written introduction by John A. McGurkin.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Wyatt Graham

    A must read for Christians.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jacob Rush

    Cyril is not tryna play games with Nestorius.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Phillip Johnson

    There are wonderful Christological truths explained here. However, Cyril belabors points in repetition and I'm not sure that a Socratic dialogue was the best format for this discussion. There are wonderful Christological truths explained here. However, Cyril belabors points in repetition and I'm not sure that a Socratic dialogue was the best format for this discussion.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Derek Brown

    An abuse of the dialogue form.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jackson Brooks

    Cyril is the final word for early church Christology, and in this book he lays out his full argument for his position. Quite an interesting read.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jesse Rice

    My head hurts, but in the way it does when I encounter something genius and can barely begin to grasp it. I feel this way about Kierkegaard, Dostoyevsky, and now St. Cyril. Need to reread someday.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sam

    Very difficult.. I'm hoping to go back and read this more carefully Very difficult.. I'm hoping to go back and read this more carefully

  26. 4 out of 5

    Simon

    Superb.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Peter Bringe

    A lively discussion on the unity of Christ's person from the 5th century. "Well, Godhead is one thing, and manhood is another thing, considered in the perspective of their respective and intrinsic beings, but in the case of Christ they came together in a mysterious and incomprehensible union without confusion or change." (p. 77) A lively discussion on the unity of Christ's person from the 5th century. "Well, Godhead is one thing, and manhood is another thing, considered in the perspective of their respective and intrinsic beings, but in the case of Christ they came together in a mysterious and incomprehensible union without confusion or change." (p. 77)

  28. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    John Anthony McGuckin's translation of St Cyril of Alexandria's dialogue Quod Unus Sit Christus is a highly readable presentation of a text by the fifth-century Greek church's greatest theologian. It begins with a helpful introduction that is refreshingly confessional -- McGuckin, although he tries to set out 'the facts', also tries not to be anything other than what he is -- an Eastern Orthodox Priest. I, of course, read Cyril with Pope St Leo the Great always in mind. As I began this piece of a John Anthony McGuckin's translation of St Cyril of Alexandria's dialogue Quod Unus Sit Christus is a highly readable presentation of a text by the fifth-century Greek church's greatest theologian. It begins with a helpful introduction that is refreshingly confessional -- McGuckin, although he tries to set out 'the facts', also tries not to be anything other than what he is -- an Eastern Orthodox Priest. I, of course, read Cyril with Pope St Leo the Great always in mind. As I began this piece of anti-Nestorian polemic, I was thinking, 'If I were a fifth-century western Christian, I would not see why this would conflict with traditional western conceptions of the nature of Christ at all.' Indeed, at sompe places Cyril seemed to affirm that Christ was God by nature, others that he had a human nature. Later on, however, I was disabused of this notion when Cyril plainly stated that you could never say that Christ had two natures. I have a theory on that that will have to be fleshed out somewhere else, but in short it is: natura ≠ φύσις (at least not always). Not that western Christological was ever something Cyril was concerned with. Rather, his sights were set on Nestorius, erstwhile (this text is from ca. 438) Bishop of Constantinople, now in exile in the desert. Whether Cyril is fair to Nestorius/-ianism, I cannot say. Certainly, some things Nestorius is recorded as having said would justify much of Cyril's argumentation. The two main concerns of Cyril herein are the theology of the 'assumed man' (assumptus homo) and two-person Christology. Both are associated with that group of theologians we designate with the short-hand 'Antiochene', the latter especially with Nestorius. Throughout, the main position of Cyril comes home again and again: Jesus Christ, fully man and fully God, is a single person (πρόσωπον). He is a fully united, complete personal entity. The man Jesus is the same person as God the Word Incarnate. God the Word did not take up to himself the man of the line of David, Jesus of Nazareth. God the Word actually took flesh and literally became the man Jesus. The implication of assumptus homo theology is that, even if God the Word is homoousios with the Father, somehow Jesus has still been adopted into the Godhead -- and so the Incarnation is a sham and our salvation was wrought by a liar. To take us back to mid-fifth-century (and beyond) concerns, Cyril is so convinced of the unity of persons that he actually says that you cannot say of any action, 'This is human,' or, 'This is divine.' All actions are of Christ. This, of course, goes against what Leo does in the Tome (Ep. 28), which is why so many easterners were opposed to it (so-called Monophysites). However, although Cyril continually asserts that Christ has all the attributes of humanity, including a human soul, he denies substantial reality to the moments when He is at His most human, at his weakest -- the Garden of Gethsemane and the cry of dereliction on the Cross ('My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'). These were, essentially, play-acting on Jesus' part so we could learn how to face suffering and not fall. Sadly, this sort of theology paves the way for some of the un-orthodox manifestations of the conservative Cyrillian camp (those 'Monophysites' again) in the decades and centuries to come. Finally, although styled as a dialogue, as an example of that literary genre, this text is ... well ... it's not Plato. Let's leave it at that.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Peter Stonecipher

    Not the easiest read, but important for the development of orthodox christology over against Nestorianism.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Phil

    I am truly relieved to have finished this book, not so much because I don't like the book as this book demands a fair amount of effort to read. Reading it is, as my wife puts it, like 'stirring concrete with my eye lashes'. So, let's say, this book isn't for the philosophically faint of heart. St. Cyril's On the Unity of Christ is a classic in Trinitarian theology and is one of the founding texts on the issue. Written late in Cyril's career, it sums up his concerns about Nestorius', Cyril's neme I am truly relieved to have finished this book, not so much because I don't like the book as this book demands a fair amount of effort to read. Reading it is, as my wife puts it, like 'stirring concrete with my eye lashes'. So, let's say, this book isn't for the philosophically faint of heart. St. Cyril's On the Unity of Christ is a classic in Trinitarian theology and is one of the founding texts on the issue. Written late in Cyril's career, it sums up his concerns about Nestorius', Cyril's nemesis, theology. As a result, it is a careful, often caustic treatment of the issue of the divine will in Christian theology. If that sounds a bit abstract and philosophical, that's because it is. I have some familiarity with philosophy and theology and I found this book extremely hard to read. Worthwhile, but hard. Much of the discussion turns on careful analysis of the Greek Biblical text, so that can get a bit confusing. I feel slightly guilty about the comparatively low rating I've given this book. I suspect that much of my difficulties results from my own lack of familiarity with the field of Trinitarian theology. However, if I've spent the better part of two years trying to read this book (including false starts), I can't see how I could rate it too much higher.

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