Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. IX:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
John of Damascus: Exposition of the Orthodox Faith.: Concerning the theandric energy.
Chapter XIX.—Concerning the theandric energy.
When the blessed Dionysius 2197 says that Christ exhibited to us some sort of novel theandric energy 2198 , he does not do away with the natural energies by saying that one energy resulted from the union of the divine with the human energy: for in the same way we could speak of one new nature resulting from the union of the divine with the human nature. For, according to the holy Fathers, things that have one energy have also one essence. But he wished to indicate the novel and ineffable manner in which the natural energies of Christ manifest themselves, a manner befitting the ineffable manner in which the natures of Christ mutually permeate one another, and further how strange and wonderful and, in the nature of things, unknown was His life as man 2199 , and lastly the manner of p. 68b the mutual interchange arising from the ineffable union. For we hold that the energies are not divided and that the natures do not energise separately, but that each conjointly in complete community with the other energises with its own proper energy 2200 . For the human part did not energise merely in a human manner, for He was not mere man; nor did the divine part energise only after the manner of God, for He was not simply God, but He was at once God and man. For just as in the case of natures we recognise both their union and their natural difference, so is it also with the natural wills and energies.
Note, therefore, that in the case of our Lord Jesus Christ, we speak sometimes of His two natures and sometimes of His one person: and the one or the other is referred to one conception. For the two natures are one Christ, and the one Christ is two natures. Wherefore it is all the same whether we say “Christ energises according to either of His natures,” or “either nature energises in Christ in communion with the other.” The divine nature, then, has communion with the flesh in its energising, because it is by the good pleasure of the divine will that the flesh is permitted to suffer and do the things proper to itself, and because the energy of the flesh is altogether saving, and this is an attribute not of human but of divine energy. On the other hand the flesh has communion with the divinity of the Word in its energising, because the divine energies are performed, so to speak, through the organ of the body, and because He Who energises at once as God and man is one and the same.
Further observe 2201 that His holy mind also performs its natural energies, thinking and knowing that it is Gods mind and that it is worshipped by all creation, and remembering the times He spent on earth and all He suffered, but it has communion with the divinity of the Word in its energising and orders and governs the universe, thinking and knowing and ordering not as the mere mind of man, but as united in subsistence with God and acting as the mind of God.
This, then, the theandric energy makes plain that when God became man, that is when He became incarnate, both His human energy was divine, that is deified, and not without part in His divine energy, and His divine energy was not without part in His human energy, but either was observed in conjunction with the other. Now this manner of speaking is called a periphrasis, viz., when one embraces two things in one statement 2202 . For just as in the case of the flaming sword we speak of the cut burn as one, and the burnt cut as one, but still hold that the cut and the burn have different energies and different natures, the burn having the nature of fire and the cut the nature of steel, in the same way also when we speak of one theandric energy of Christ, we understand two distinct energies of His two natures, a divine energy belonging to His divinity, and a human energy belonging to His humanity.
Dionys., Epist. 4, ad Caium.67b:2198
See Severus, Ep. 3, ad Joann. Hegum.; Anastas., Sinait. Hodegus, p. 240.67b:2199
Max., Dial. cum Pyrrh.68b:2200
Leo, Epist. 1 ad Flav.68b:2201
Perhaps from Joann. Scythop., bk. viii.; cf. Niceph., C.P. Antirrh., III. 59.68b:2202
Max., Dogm. ad Marin., p. 43.
Next: Concerning the natural and innocent passions.
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