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Three Millennia of Greek Literature

St Cyril of Alexandria On the incarnation of the Only-Begotten

Translated by P.E. Pusey

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The name Christ hath neither the force of a definition, nor does it denote the essence of any of what kind it is, as for example a man or a horse or an ox, but it rather makes declaration of a thing wrought. For some of them of old were anointed with oil, as then pleased God, and the anointing was a token to them of kingdom: Prophets too were spiritually anointed with the Holy Ghost, so as thence too to be named christs (and [1] the blessed David sings in the Person of God and says, Touch not Mine anointed and do My Prophets no harm: the Prophet Habuccuc too says, Thou wentest forth for the salvation of Thy people, to save Thy christs): but in regard of Christ the Saviour of all we say that an anointing took place, yet neither symbolic, as though done with oil, nor as for the grace of Prophet's office, nor yet that which is understood as in destination for the achievement of ought, such as we say took place in the case of Cyrus, who reigned over the Persians and Medes, for he led an army against the land of the Babylonians, God Almighty over all instigating him thereto. For it was said, Thus saith the Lord to Cyrus My christ, whose right hand I held. Albeit the man was an idolater, he was called christ, by reason of being as it were anointed king by the decree from above and fore-ordained by God to mightily subdue the land of the Babylonians:----but this rather do we say [2].

Since on account of the transgression in Adam, sin hath reigned against all, and then the Holy Ghost fled away from the human nature and it came therefore to be in all ill, and it needed that by the Mercy of God, it mounting up to its pristine condition should be accounted worthy of the Spirit:----the Only-Begotten Word of God became Man, and appeared to them on earth with Body of earth, and was made free from sin, that in Him Alone the nature of man crowned with the glories of sinlessness, should be rich in the Holy Ghost, and thus be re-formed unto God through holiness: for thus does the grace pass through to us too, having for its beginning Christ the First-born among us. And therefore does the blessed David teaching us sing to the Son, Thou lovedst righteousness and hatedst wickedness, therefore God, Thy God anointed Thee with the oil of gladness.

The Son therefore has been anointed like us in human wise [3] with the praises of sinlessness, as I said: the nature of man having in Him been made illustrious and now become worthy of partaking of the Holy Ghost, no more departing, as at the beginning, but delighting to dwell therein. Wherefore it is also written that the Spirit soared down upon Christ and hath abode upon Him. Christ therefore is the Word of God called Who because of us and as we is Man and in servant's form: both anointed as Man after the Flesh, and anointing Divinely with His own Spirit them that believe on Him.

1. [a] See Ep. 1 to the Monks, pp. 6 e, 7, 10.

2. [b] The Latin translation of Marius Mercator here adds (to fill up the sense) de christo, of christ, which is not in the Greek or Syriac.

3. [c] ἀνθρωπίνως, and so Syr. The Lat. version omits this word.

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