Five Tomes Against Nestorius by Saint Cyril

of which the beginning is

Nought shall be ranked before the Truth by them at least who love it and are well skilled in uttering what pertains to it.


His words from the treatises against Diodore and Theodore: the beginning of the Treatise.

NOTHING is valued before the Truth by them who love it and are skilful in speaking what pertains thereto: yet is it right (I say) that they who are thus minded and are zealous rightly to walk in the holy doctrines of the Church, should both guilelessly give heed to any who think and speak aright and not again, holden by reverence and love, commit themselves to those who write not without blame, in order that they be not blamed as calling evil good and good evil, sweet bitter and bitter sweet, and putting darkness for light, and light for darkness: but accomplishing rather that which is consonant to the Divine law (for Judge, it says, righteous judgement), consonant too to the wise Paul, Be ye wise bankers, prove all things: may accept that which is excellent, and keep far from what is not so. For it is absurd that irrational animals, should be instructed by the laws of nature, to know well what is good for them and what is not so: so that they make their food of those things in the field which have no harm in them, and leave those which do harm; and that WE who have understanding and right reason (for nature is wise and has perfectly the power of well examining each thing) should not rightly and without error examine the force of things written or spoken that we may honour with praise the things which are blameless, and turn aside from all which are unduly spoken and which step outside of the doctrines of the truth.


Albeit how ought not one who wanted to shew the difference of the properties, I mean of flesh and Godhead, to advance to this very point by such thoughts and words as were meet? For not the same as regards the quality which is inherent in each of the things named, are Body and the Unembodied, the flesh taken of human lump and the Word which beamed forth from the Essence of God the Father. Yet we must not therefore sever into two christs and sons the One Lord JESUS CHRIST.


But that we say that the Flesh of the Lord has been ensouled with reasonable soul, has been full often told by us, and now too no less do we affirm that it is no otherwise.


Let Diodore hear now from us too, If you say that He is flesh whom you call a Nazarene or an assumed man, shew thyself to us apart from all disguise and mask, tell (I pray) clearly what you deem good to think, and do not, simply speaking of flesh without soul, attempt to carry away the hearers. Since WE ourselves say that according to the plan of proper nature, the flesh will surely be of other nature than the Word which sprang out of God the Father, yet hath it become His by Union which may not be plucked asunder.


He is rather One and the Same Son, so as to be conceived of as both out of the Essence of God the Father Divinely and out of us humanly, or out of the seed of David. He was called a Prophet as Moses. And we do not disbelieve the title, seeing that we know the might of the Economy with flesh. Not Himself was the Temple nor yet in His own Nature in that He is conceived of as God did He admit the undoing of it: yet was that His own which was undone, just as of each of us his body is his own.


Hence His is Divinely the Essence which is before the worlds, His in like wise and not another’s that in the last times He should be born in the flesh. For the birth from the holy Virgin was found to the Word, not a way to His Being but unto His manifestation with flesh: and He is in no wise mortal out of mortals but rather Life as out of Life the FATHER.

Yet hath the Body mortal out of mortals and subject unto death become the own of Life, in order that through it contending with death and raised from the dead He might reform unto incorruption and prove superior to death that which has been mastered of death, as regards its own nature: for death falling on the body of Life, became impotent.


For that the Word of God endures not to suffer a shadow of turning, nor yet does the flesh letting go what it is, change into the Nature of the Word united to It, every one of them who think aright will (I suppose) say.


For withdrawing some little (if you please) the investigation from the person of Christ the Saviour of us all, when we examine one of the things which has been named, as to its nature, itself by itself, one and other in all respects is the bondman’s form and the Lord’s, or human and Divine, lamb and High Priest, Maker and made.


But haply you will say, ‘Hath not then in Him dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily?’ This too is true and one will not deny what has been written; yet we say that not in another’s body do we conceive that the Godhead of the SON hath dwelt, but rather as in His own Temple: just as the soul of man too, being other than the flesh yet together with the flesh makes up the person of a single man, as Peter or Paul.

Yet Christ is conceived of as above this too: for we say that not the Word of God became to the body in place of a soul, as some most absurdly imagine; but we affirm rather that His holy and spotless Body has been ensouled with reasonable soul.


All-Perfect confessedly and without increase is the Word of God (for He has been begotten out of the Perfect Father, Wisdom out of Wisdom and Might out of Might), but since Unchangeableness by Nature is His, in nothing wronged by being in a Temple, He hath remained the Same, i. e., All-Perfect and Wisdom and Might. And the flesh ripening advanced by degrees according to the law of its nature, the Word united to it made a declaration by little and little of His own Wisdom, keeping pace so to say with the increase and advance of His Body and one not inharmonious with the size of His stature. Thus He was regarded by them who saw Him, as being gradually advanced to the successive attainment of the above-named things.


Hence He hath partaken like us in blood and flesh, in order that in His own flesh combating with death and bringing it to nought, He might achieve incorruption for our mortal bodies and stay the law that rages in our members from its tyranny over us. For it was not possible in any other way to mingle life with death, except He had used a mortal Body; neither could the sting of natural pleasures have been blunted in us too, except that which was taken from our lump had been made the own body of the Word.


Not soulless, excellent sir, do we say that the flesh forth of the seed of David, united to God the Word is, nor yet will any imagine, if he have a mind not corrupted, that He was to the holy Temple instead of mind and soul; yet we are not accustomed to call man, that which is forth of the seed of David, son apart and separate.


Yet, wise sir, would I say, soul and body combine unto a man’s birth and the one does not precede the other: but God the Word, albeit He was before all worlds as God, was pleased in the latter times to be united to flesh having a reasonable soul, and to be born man, yet keep even so the glory that was His own: for He spurned not the preeminence over all which is inherent in Him, but is worshipped even thus as One and Only Son by us and by the holy angels.


The same from his discourse against Diodore beginning,

We set nothing before the truth.

For he who is minded to conceive aright, when one names Him who is of the seed of David, understands at once the Word which sprang from God the Father, Who was Incarnate and made in our likeness: but thou sayest that he was the dwelling-place of the Word, surpassing indeed the holy Prophets and in more exalted place, not that He is God of God even though He was made flesh, in incomparable divergence exalted above our human condition; but that when he was formed, the Word came to him, crowning him with surpassing grace and putting in him Its own Wisdom and Glory, in order that he might become partaker of God and not be himself conceived of as God, the Only-Begotten Word of God, because He was pleased to take our likeness and to be of the seed of Divine David.


Holy and without sin is the body of Christ our God and Saviour, and in this respect is incorruptible from the womb, and herein He hath ever no participation or likeness with us, because He was made like unto us in everything except sin, and in like manner with us did He take part in blood and flesh, as said the Apostle.

In his Discourse against the wicked Diodore wrote thus,

Excellent sir, (say I) thou art belching forth foolish words and sick with much absurdity: for from Mary was the Holy Body, yet at the beginning of its formation or subsistence in the womb, was it holy as being the body of Christ, and there is not an instant in which it was not His, but was rather simple flesh, as thou saidst, and in equality with other flesh.


the wise Cyril finding fault with this craftiness writes thus against Diodore,

Fearing therefore lest we should downright say Man openly, in his craft he calls Him flesh: else why in the world is it that we do not say that the flesh is the Son of God, but rather call it the flesh of Him Who is in truth and by Nature Son? in order that we may conceive of and say One Christ and Son and Lord.


wrote against Diodore thus,

Let him know then that the body which was born at Bethlehem, even though in its natural qualities it is not the same, so to say, with the Word which is from forth God the Father, yet is His and does not belong to another son apart from Him, seeing that the Word Incarnate and made Man is conceived of as One Son and Christ and Lord.

and after this he again adds these too,

Since WE too say that in regard of its own property the flesh is of a truth of other nature than the Word Which was born from the Father, yet is it His own in Union inseverable: just as also the Word Which sprang from the Essence of God the Father, will be called seed of Abraham after the flesh, the Economy calling Him thereto and in no wise injuring Him, in regard to His being what He is, for being God by Nature He became of a truth Son of man too, and He is Son of God the Father, not alien nor falsely so called, but He it is Who ineffably and incomprehensibly begat Him of Himself, even though He be not conceived of apart from flesh after the Union.

and again after a little,

Hence, even though no one call Him seed of David, Who proceeded forth of the Essence of God the Father, as neither does one so call the Only-Begotten, yet the force of the Union which is without confusion and without change, undoes severance. And again, because neither is the Only-Begotten in regard of His natural quality flesh nor again the Word flesh, he severs them not aright, putting them as though one and another and confessing two sons, to whom he gives barely the connection of affection.

Or haply there are some (I ween) who rave because they do not bring the flesh by change to the nature of the Word, nor yet again bring down the Word unto Consubstantiality with the flesh united thereto.

and after more,

Yet is it wholly unreasonable that thou durst blame them who hold the right faith and art not ashamed to withstand them who confess the Union without confusion; and thou art wholly jumbling up everything and demonstrating that the flesh is of other nature, I mean in respect of God the Word: and if one confess this with thee, keeping clear of the unlearning of the Synousiasts, thou forthwith severest the One into two.


and as S. Cyril in his book against Diodore, blaming such falsehood, writes,

If He be full surely a prophet as thou affirmest and confidently sayest, Who received the gift of the SPIRIT, and foretold the things to come, and again ministered the SPIRIT, and it appears to thee not right that the Word Who is forth of God the Father should be called a prophet; who is it that received the gift of the SPIRIT and ministered the revelation of the things to come? Perchance thou sayest, He that is of the seed of David, or as thou callest him, The man of Nazareth. He is then a prophet and nothing else, and just a little exalted above our condition: for He is in no wise Equal, I mean in greatness and in glory to God the Word, if the One be the Giver of the SPIRIT, the other the minister of the gift from the Spirit. And lo how does the God-inspired Scripture call the Holy Ghost the Spirit of Jesus? for they wished (it says) to go into Bithynia and the Spirit of Jesus suffered them not.


For so says S. Cyril when writing against Diodore,

That the Word out of God the Father was not by any called Christ or Jesus as long as He was not yet man, is evident: Christ indicates anointing, Jesus clearly came through Angel’s voice, and before His conception in the holy Virgin was put upon Him Who was born of her after the flesh.


… what wise Cyril put forth against Diodore and wrote thus,

DIODORE. “For while the Lord was in the bowels of the Virgin and of her essence, He had not the honour of sonship; but when He was fashioned and became a temple for God the Word, in that He received the Only-Begotten, He took the honour of the name and was participant with Him in the honour.”

to these the Saint mighty in the SPIRIT blaming him said,

CYRIL. Therefore according to thee, Emmanuel was not God nor Son at all, but a common man and one as we, but because on His birth the Only-Begotten came to Him, therefore He became too the Temple of God, and was vouchsafed safed the sonship and the Dignity: undoubtedly therefore He has the honour as something added to Him.

again he brings forward Diodore varying and contradicting himself and writing thus,

DIODORE. “But he who was of the seed of David, as created, had the Word for his God, and when created he became of God the Word: for with us first a temple is prepared, and then He Who dwelleth enters it; in the womb of the Virgin He Who dwelleth fashioned Himself a Temple and removed not from the Temple but filled it with His glory and His Wisdom: nor as in the case of the Prophets, was there ignorance with Him until the Spirit made revelation.”

and again he cites him saying the opposite, after this wise,

“For the Godhead did not immediately on his creation or birth, infuse all His Wisdom within him, but by little and little gave it to the body.”

against these things therefore, forthwith did he who wisely exposed them, add,

CYRIL. But it is meet before other things to say this: against what he says and wishes to hold, himself advances the contrary; for he affirms that the Godhead of the Son did not as soon as he was born, put all His wisdom within him, albeit he wrote in what is a little above [Diodorus cited by Cyril] “For with us first —— but filled it with His glory and His wisdom” (as above).


for he wrote against Diodore thus,

CYRIL. But WE, wise sir, believing that so to think is stupidity, say that the Word took flesh of the holy Virgin and proceeded man, and He was not in a man nor is He seen to take upon Him a man; but He is rather One and the Same Son; in order that He may be conceived to be of the Essence of God the Father Divinely, and of us humanly, that is, of the seed of David.

and again citing Diodore who says,

“The Perfect Likeness of God the Word, the perfect likeness of the bondman whom He took upon Him,”

Cyril says,

In place of, He was made, or was born according to the flesh of a woman and proceeded man, he oftentimes puts the word took and the word received, in order that he may shew that he is a man who has a connection of affection, I mean with God the Word, and that he may not confess with us that He Who is in truth Lord became man.


for he cites Diodore wickedly writing thus,

DIODORE. “But how do ye introduce one worship? is it as to the soul and body of kings? for the soul reigns not by itself and the body reigns not by itself, but God the Word was King before flesh; not therefore as to soul and body, so to God the Word and to flesh [is the worship paid].”

against these things again he answering said,

CYRIL. Of diverse kind then is the worship, and hence it is not One worship from us (for this is what thy word bids us): but where a difference in worship and honour is paid to the things named, and to each is accurately given what befits it, there full surely inequality of power follows: but inequality and difference in power, in regard to less and greater, comes to Two Hypostases and Persons. Union therefore flees away, the depth of the Mystery departs to nothing, for it is not right, he says, that as to the soul and body of kings should worship be paid, albeit how were it not better that this should be the type? for as out of soul and body is one man, albeit the properties of each have great diversity one to another, I mean as to their mode of being (for the soul is other than the body): so will you understand concerning Christ too the Saviour of us all. For the Word Which was made flesh, i. e., was seen in human likeness, is God: in order that He may be confessed to be and may be in truth, God alike and man, One and Onely All-Perfect Son. But he is saying I know not what, in trifling and childish imaginations daring to sport himself against the Truth.


thus S. Cyril cites Diodore as writing,

DIODORE. “A prophet shall the Lord God raise up to you out of your brethren, like me. Was the Prophet at all inferior to Moses? was he not Perfect man? Therefore neither is he of Nazareth less than a man, who is of the seed of David. But Perfect God out of Perfect God took perfect man:” and again, “For the Godhead did not, immediately on his formation or birth, put all His Wisdom within him, but by little and little gave it to the body.”

to him who blasphemously utters these and such like lies, amid his blame the righteous accuser of the wickedness says,

CYRIL. It results that He is no longer God, but a God-clad man rather and in equal measure with these others, in whom God manifestly dwelt.


and he introduces Diodore wickedly saying,

DIODORE. “The Son of God and that not by reason of ought (for He is so by Nature): the flesh is son by reason of the Son.”

as to whom he also draws out his speech and says,

CYRIL. And how (tell me) by reason of the Son is the flesh by itself son? or of whom is it son at all? the Son’s? and how dost thou not fall from hence, when thou hast brought the absurdity to this point? well then, is it the son of God the Father, in like manner as He too Who is by Nature and truly of His Essence? Two therefore unquestionably sons of God there are: and lo whither goes Paul who says, One God the Father of Whom everything and WE of Him, and One Lord Jesus Christ through Whom everything and WE through Him?


Cyril examining as to Emmanuel too, in these against Diodore wrote thus,

CYRIL. But when we are conceiving of the Only-Begotten Word, as united to His flesh, we do not take it as being like a garment nor do we say that He cast it upon Him like cloaks which are external, as though it were alien: but it is rather a demonstration of the declaration that He was made flesh, i. e. man. The Word therefore had a natural presence in the body which was united to Him and is His, just as also the soul of man is his, albeit the nature is alien.


and against Diodore thus,

For WE who hold the Right and Immaculate Faith, and ever cleave to the Divine Scriptures, and follow the tracks of the Faith of the Fathers, when we hear ‘JESUS,’ we understand the Only-Begotten Word made Man.


seeing that Diodore too who takes occasion and speaks against them who confound the Natures, i. e. who mingle the flesh of the Lord and foolishly say that it changed into the Essence of God the Word, and became the opposite of what it was before, says that they call One Christ two sons, the wise Cyril cries out on him and says,

CYRIL. Therefore let us give the crown to Paul of Samosata too, who more accurately than thou, did contend against the Synousiasts; for that more than thou did he sever the Mystery of the Economy.


striving against Diodore, the all-wise Cyril says thus,

He dared clothe in form of Lord, him who (as he says) is man from Mary, who at the beginning no way surpassed us, but hardly was counted worthy of the name and honour of Son and of God, after he had come forth of the womb. Christ then verily is, as I said, two sons and a new god, and has been crowned by God with supernatural honour in some small degree above the creatures, that together with a mere man He might be worshipped who at last gained the glory, i. e., the complement of the Holy Consubstantial Trinity.


for S. Cyril writing against Diodore says thus of the definition of a man,

This, my friend, is the definition of human nature which is also called a substance, that it is a rational animal, mortal, recipient of mind and learning.

The same Cyril against Diodore,

We have already often said, when we were making our Defence of all the Chapters, that not because the natures came together unto union, must duality be admitted. For as a man although compounded out of reasonable soul and body, is one and is not divided into two and this whole is called an animal rational and mortal, albeit really mortal in one part, rational in the other part: thus too Immanuel, being One, of Godhead and manhood, whereof each is perfect in itself, is the Same God and man, mortal and Immortal, in time and before all ages, Palpable and Impalpable, Visible and Invisible. For had He Immortal in His own Nature taken nothing from mortal nature, i. e. from the seed of Abraham, WE had not been renewed and lifted up to immortality, vain had been our faith and we had still lain in our sins.

The same Cyril against Diodore,

For as, suffering pains in the flesh He yet remained Impassible in the Nature of His own Godhead: so I say that even while He was growing He was All-Perfect. And while His wisdom was believed to be increasing, He was even then the o’erflowing fountain of wisdom whence all others draw their wisdom.

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