Tuesday, 21 May 2019
Khaled Anatolios: A Test Case for Alexandrian Christology: The Impassible Suffering of Christ in Athanasius and Cyril of Alexandria
While Aloys Grillmeier's framework of an Alexandrian Logos-sarx Christology as differentiated from an Antiochian Logos-anthropos Christology has been the object of significant recent criticism, one incontrovertible aspect of Grillmeier's interpretation is that Alexandrian Christology, as exemplified in Athanasius and Cyril, was centered on the premise that the Logos is the active subject of Christ's humanity. While both Athanasius and Cyril extolled the soteriological benefits of this conception, they also both had to confront its most acute difficulty, which was that it seemed to require predicating Christ's human suffering to the Logos. A comparison of how Athanasius and Cyril grappled with this issue reveals both a foundational continuity between them as well as some striking developments. Cyril adopted Athanasius's paradoxical notion that the Logos simultaneously suffered and did not suffer (cf. Ad. Epict. 6), as well as some of the rhetorical strategies employed by Athanasius to elucidate this notion. But he had to counter much more pointed criticism, from Nestorius and his supporters, that the notion of impassible suffering was simply nonsensical. Among the strategies employed by Cyril to counter this criticism, one that has largely escaped scholarly attention is his integration of Christ's impassible suffering with Christ's high-priestly intercession. This Cyrillian conception represent both a continuity and a still under-appreciated development in relation to Athanasius's Christology.