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St Cyril of Alexandria Against the Synousiasts (Fragments)

Translated by P. E. Pusey

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A [3] long exposition has already been wrought out by us, who desire to strive for the doctrines of the truth. For it everywhere sets forth One Lord Jesus Christ, Who proceeded forth God the Word out of God the Father Divinely, out of a woman humanly and after the flesh. And let no one say, who has a mind witting how to view each several thing, that I have been borne savagely down on them who have not such faith, seeing that a sort of sorrow sometimes invites hereto, sorrow I mean in regard to them whom we have contradicted. For the fact itself has its proof [4], not an idle excuse. For they [5] indeed are already dead and departing from human affairs, have gone to another life; and it is utter folly in enmity to insult not the living but them who are now dead. Nevertheless since the Truth is dear to the lovers of right doctrine, and it needs befits them to say the truth and to be practised in the power of resisting them who are wont to utter vain things, I thought I ought, seeing that a countless multitude of brethren have suffered no slight harm from what Diodore Bishop of Tarsus and he who was Bishop of Mopsuestia, the most eloquent Theodore, have written of Christ the Lord and Saviour of us all, to say some few things on what they said and to point out to readers the hideousness of the track of both.


Since then some stumble and imagine to themselves a change of the Word into blood and flesh, let them be laughed at as beside themselves and let us say to them, Wake up ye drunkards from their wine, and let us examine of what kind is the nature of the flesh, and be ye diligent to think, of what kind again is that of God Who is over all. For unbounded is the interval, and with reason may one say that to venture to compare them at all is not free from responsibility. For the One is by Nature God and Lord of all, Light and Life and Glory and moreover Power, the other is what every body who lives among men knows. When then any affirm that there has taken place a change of the Word into this earthly body, or that the Word being God framed to Himself out of His own Essence, a body of the same nature as our bodies, let them confess first that He ceased to be what He is (He was, as I said, God and Creator, Life and Light, Glory and Power) and let them moreover affirm that to endure the liability to slip that belongs to things generate is nob alien to Him and that to be conversant with a worse condition than that wherein He is, is not untried by Him.

Yet I think one ought to investigate what it is that thrust Him down hereto: was it some necessity and tyranny of passion falling on Him? yet how is it not distraction that any should suppose this so to be? for where is the greater than He and that is able to overpass His Nature [c]? since how is God the Name that is above every name and Lord of Hosts? But it is not necessity (they will haply say) but that a change of His own choice invited Him hereto. But it were impossible that He should suffer this too: for how should the Divine and Untaint Nature make ought that befitted Him not, His choice?

3. [c] From the fifth Collation of the fifth General Council, after S. Cyril's Letters to John of Antioch, Acacius of Melitine, and the Emperor (t. vi. 101 Col.). I had overlooked it but it is pointed out by the indefatigable Tillemont.

4. [d] I have adopted from the margin of the Concilia the reading convictionem which they give as the reading of the Paris Manuscript, i.e. Biblioth. Imperial. Lat. 16832, formerly belonging to Notre Dame: the Beauvais manuscript also agrees with it.

5. [1] i.e. Diodore and Theodore

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