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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. IX:
John of Damascus: Exposition of the Orthodox Faith.: Concerning the one compound subsistence of God the Word.

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Chapter VII.—Concerning the one compound subsistence of God the Word.

We hold then that the divine subsistence of God the Word existed before all else and is without time and eternal, simple and uncompound, uncreated, incorporeal, invisible, intangible, uncircumscribed, possessing all the Father possesses, since He is of the same essence with Him, differing from the Father’s subsistence in the manner of His generation and the relation of the Father’s subsistence, being perfect also and at no time separated from the Father’s subsistence: and in these last days, without leaving the Father’s bosom, took up His abode in an uncircumscribed manner in the womb of the holy Virgin, without the instrumentality of seed, and in an incomprehensible manner known only to Himself, and causing the flesh derived from the holy Virgin to subsist in the very subsistence that was before all the ages.

So then He was both in all things and above all things and also dwelt in the womb of the holy Mother of God, but in it by the energy of the incarnation. He therefore became flesh and He took upon Himself thereby the first-fruits of our compound nature 2015 , viz., the flesh animated with the intelligent and national soul, so that the very subsistence of God the Word was changed into the subsistence of the flesh, and the subsistence of the Word, which was formerly simple, became compound 2016 , yea compounded of two perfect natures, divinity and humanity, and bearing the characteristic and distinctive property of the divine Sonship of God the Word in virtue of which it is distinguished from the Father and the Spirit, and also the characteristic and distinctive properties of the flesh, in virtue of which it differs from the Mother and the rest of mankind, bearing further the properties of the divine nature in virtue of which it is united to the Father and the Spirit, and the marks of the human nature in virtue of which it is united to the Mother and to us. And further it differs from the Father and the Spirit and the Mother and us in being at once God and man. For this we know to be the most special property of the subsistence of Christ.

Wherefore we confess Him, even after the incarnation, the one Son of God, and likewise Son of Man, one Christ, one Lord, the only-begotten Son and Word of God, one Lord Jesus. We reverence His two generations, one from the Father before time and beyond cause and reason and time and nature, and one in the end for our sake, and like to us and above us; for our sake because it was for our salvation, like to us in that He was man born of woman 2017 at full time 2018 , and above us because it was not by seed, but by the Holy Spirit and the Holy Virgin Mary 2019 , transcending the laws of parturition. We proclaim Him not as God only, devoid of our humanity, nor yet as man only, stripping Him of His divinity, nor as two distinct persons, but as one and the same, at once God and man, perfect God and perfect man, wholly God and wholly man, the same being wholly God, even though He was also p. 52b flesh and wholly man, even though He was also most high God. And by “perfect God” and “perfect man” we mean to emphasize the fulness and unfailingness of the natures: while by “wholly God” and “wholly man” we mean to lay stress on the singularity and individuality of the subsistence.

And we confess also that there is one incarnate nature of God the Word, expressing by the word “incarnate 2020 ” the essence of the flesh, according to the blessed Cyril 2021 . And so the Word was made flesh and yet did not abandon His own proper immateriality: He became wholly flesh and yet remained wholly uncircumscribed. So far as He is body He is diminished and contracted into narrow limits, but inasmuch as He is God He is uncircumscribed, His flesh not being coextensive with His uncircumscribed divinity.

He is then wholly perfect God, but yet is not simply 2022 God: for He is not only God but also man. And He is also wholly 2023 perfect man but not simply 2024 man, for He is not only man but also God. For “simply 2025 ” here has reference to His nature, and “wholly 2026 ” to His subsistence, just as “another thing” would refer to nature, while “another 2027 ” would refer to subsistence 2028 .

But observe 2029 that although we hold that the natures of the Lord permeate one another, yet we know that the permeation springs from the divine nature. For it is that that penetrates and permeates all things, as it wills, while nothing penetrates it: and it is it, too, that imparts to the flesh its own peculiar glories, while abiding itself impossible and without participation in the affections of the flesh. For if the sun imparts to us his energies and yet does not participate in ours, how much the rather must this be true of the Creator and Lord of the Sun 2030 .



ἀπαρχὴν τοῦ ἡμετέρου φυράματος.


σύνθετον γενέσθαι τὴν πρότερον ἁπλῆν οὖσαν τοῦ Λόγου ὑπόστασιν, σύνθετον δὲ ἐκ δύο τελείων φύσεων.


Text, καὶ χρόνῳ κυήσεως. Various readings, καὶ τρόπῳ κυήσεως: καὶ χρόνῳ καὶ κυήσει: καὶ νόμῳ κυήσεως.


Cf. Ruf., Expos. Symb.; Epiph., in the epilogue to his De Hær.; Joan. Scyth., Epist. Dionys. 4.


Μαρίας is absent in most mss.


Expositio fidei a Patribus Nicænis contra Paul. Samos.III. p. conc. Ephes.


Commonit. ad Eulog. et Epist. 2 ad Success.; cf. supr. ch. vi. et infr. ch. xi.


ὅλος μὲν οὖν ἐστι Θεὸς τέλειος, οὐχ ὅλον δὲ Οεός.










Greg. Naz., Orat. 51.


The following is added in R. 2927: ἐν πᾶσι μὲν ἦν, καὶ ὑπὲρ τὰ πάντα, καὶ ἐν τῇ γάστρι τῆς Θεομήτορος, ἀλλ᾽ ἐν ταύτῃ τε, ἐνεργεί& 139· τῆς σαρκώσεως. This is assuredly an interpolation.


v. supr. ch. iii.


Leontius de sectis, Act. 3.

Next: In reply to those who ask whether the natures of the Lord are brought under a continuous or a discontinuous quantity.

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