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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. IX:
John of Damascus: Exposition of the Orthodox Faith.: In reply to those who ask whether the natures of the Lord are brought under a continuous or a discontinuous quantity.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter VIII.—In reply to those who ask whether 2031 the natures of the Lord are brought under a continuous or a discontinuous quantity 2032 .

If any one asks concerning the natures of the Lord if they are brought under a continuous or discontinuous quantity 2033 , we will say that the natures of the Lord are neither one body nor one superficies 2034 , nor one line, nor time, nor place, so as to be reduced to a continuous quantity. For these are the things that are reckoned continuously.

Further note that number deals with things that differ, and it is quite impossible to enumerate things that differ from one another in no respect: and just so far as they differ are they enumerated: for instance, Peter and Paul are not counted separately in so far as they are one. For since they are one in respect of their essence they cannot be spoken of as two natures, but as they differ in respect of subsistence they are spoken of as two subsistences. So that number deals with differences, and just as the differing objects differ from one another so far they are enumerated.

The natures of the Lord, then, are united without confusion so far as regards subsistence, and they are divided without separation according to the method and manner of difference. And it is not according to the manner in which they are united that they are enumerated, for it is not in respect of subsistence that we hold that there are two natures of Christ: but according to the manner in which they are divided without separation they are enumerated, for it is in respect of the method and manner of difference that there are two natures of Christ. For being united in subsistence and permeating one another, they are united without confusion, each preserving throughout its own peculiar and natural difference. Hence, since they are enumerated according to the manner of difference, and that alone, they must be brought under a discontinuous quantity.

Christ, therefore 2035 , is one, perfect God and perfect man: and Him we worship along with the Father and the Spirit, with one obeisance, adoring even His immaculate flesh and not holding that the flesh is not meet for worship: for in fact it is worshipped in the one subsistence of the Word, which indeed became subsistence for it. But in this we do not do homage to that which is created. For we worship Him, not as mere flesh, but as flesh united with divinity, and because His two natures are brought under the one person and one subsistence of God the Word. I fear to touch coal because of the fire bound up with the wood. I worship the twofold nature of Christ because of the divinity that is in Him bound up with flesh. For I do not p. 53b introduce a fourth person 2036 into the Trinity. God forbid! but I confess one person of God the Word and of His flesh, and the Trinity remains Trinity, even after the incarnation of the Word.

In reply 2037 to those who ask whether the two natures are brought under a continuous or a discontinuous quantity.

The natures of the Lord are neither one body nor one superficies, nor one line, nor place, nor time, so as to be brought under a continuous quantity: for these are the things that are reckoned continuously. But the natures of the Lord are united without confusion in respect of subsistence, and are divided without separation according to the method and manner of difference. And according to the manner in which they are united they are not enumerated. For we do not say that the natures of Christ are two subsistences or two in respect of subsistence. But according to the manner in which they are divided without division, are they enumerated. For there are two natures according to the method and manner of difference. For being united in subsistence and permeating one another they are united without confusion, neither having been changed into the other, but each preserving its own natural difference even after the union. For that which is created remained created, and that which is uncreated, uncreated. By the manner of difference, then, and in that alone, they are enumerated, and thus are brought under discontinuous quantity. For things which differ from each other in no respect cannot be enumerated, but just so far as they differ are they enumerated; for instance, Peter and Paul are not enumerated in those respects in which they are one: for being one in respect of their essence they are not two natures nor are they so spoken of. But inasmuch as they differ in subsistence they are spoken of as two subsistences. So that difference is the cause of number.


Footnotes

52b:2031

Directed against the Severians. See Leont., De Sect., Act. 7; Greg. Naz., Orat. 37.

52b:2032

ὑπὸ τὸ συνεχὲς πόσον ἀνάγονται αἱ τοῦ Κυρίου φύσεις, ἢ ὑπο τὸ διωρισμένον.

52b:2033

Text, ἀνάγονται. Variants, ἀναφέροιντο and διαφέροιντο.

52b:2034

μία ἐπιφάνεια.

52b:2035

Cyril, De Anath. 8 cont. Theod.

53b:2036

The Apollinarians attacked the orthodox as ἀνθρωπολάτραι, man-worshippers, and as making the Trinity a Quaternity by their doctrine of two perfect natures in Christ. See Greg. Naz., Ep. 1 ad Cled.; Athanas., Ep. ad Epictet.; Anastas. Antioch., De Operationibus; Cyril, Contr. Nestor. 1.

53b:2037

See Migne on the position of this section.


Next: In reply to the question whether there is Nature that has no Subsistence.

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