Friday, 3 April 2015

Austin Litke: The “Organon Concept” in the Christology of Cyril of Alexandria

In his monumental work of historical Christology, Aloys Grillmeier places Cyril of Alexandria in the Logos-Sarx division of theologians. One of his reasons for doing so is that Cyril uses the concept of “instrument” (organon) to describe the function of human nature in the Incarnation, a concept that, for Grillmeier, asserts the absence of a human soul, that is, a less-than-full human nature. In this essay, I demonstrate with representative texts that first, at the beginning of the Nestorian controversy Cyril in fact rejects theorganon concept, second, that when he does use it later in the controversy, he does so to assert a full human nature, body and soul, that is “hypostatically” united to the Word; and third, that when Cyril speaks of the “sarx” of Christ, he uses this term to signify a full human nature as well. In this, we see one of the weaknesses of the Logos-Sarx/Logos-Anthropos taxonomy, we gain a deeper understanding of Cyril’s metaphysics of the Incarnation, and we come to an insight into the mystery of the Incarnation itself.

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