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St Cyril of Alexandria Commentary on Luke (First Part)

Translated by R. Payne Smith

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Page 2

It was the Nestorian controversy which called out the argumentative powers and the fiery zeal of S. Cyril; and it is certainly true that in that controversy he used Nestorius unfairly, taxing him with deductions, which, however logically they might seem to follow from his opponent's teaching, yet Nestorius himself expressly denied: but it is not true that the controversy led him into statements of doctrine beyond what his predecessors in the see of Alexandria had taught. For constantly what he opposed to his rival's views was the very doctrine of S. Athanasius; and the passage which he quotes in his treatise De recta Fide, ad Imperatrices, from that father's treatise on the Incarnation of Christ, is never exceeded in any of his own dogmatic statements. Its words are as follow:---- ὁμολογοῦμεν, καὶ εἶναι αὐτὸν υἱὸν τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ θεὸν κατὰ πνεῦμα, υἱὸν ἀνθρώπου κατὰ σάρκα· οὐ δύο φύσεις τὸν ἕνα υἱὸν, μίαν προσκυνητὴν καὶ μίαν ἀπροσκύνητον· ἀλλὰ μίαν φύσιν τοῦ θεοῦ λόγου σεσαρκωμένην καὶ προσκυνουμένην μετὰ τῆς σαρκὸς αὐτοῦ μίᾳ προσκυνήσει. This was S. Athanasius' doctrine, this also was S. Cyril's; and it is only a falsification of the facts of history to endeavour to bring the Alexandrine school into verbal accordance with the decrees of the general council of Chalcedon. The doctrine which prevailed there was that of the rival school of Antioch, which had always firmly stood by the literal interpretation of the plain letter of Scripture; a sound, judicious, common-sense school, which had never depth enough to have fought the battle of the Arian heresy with the profoundness of conviction which gave such undying energy to the great chiefs of Alexandria; but which nevertheless had under Providence its due place in the Church, and corrected the tendency of Athanasius and Cyril to a too immoderate love of the supernatural and mysterious.

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