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Talk:Hypostatic union


Is it really theologically correct to say that Jesus Christ "subsists in two natures"? I know that this is actually not what the Chalcedonian Creed said. It said rather "recognized in two natures". The Second Council of Constantinople later explained that this was not the introduction of a concrete twoness in Christ but rather theoretical and speculative recognition of the continuation of his full humanity and full divinity. How is it thus that the aforementioned phrase can be justified? How is it any different from saying, as the Nestorians, that Jesus Christ is one person (prosopon) in two concrete individuated existential realities (hypostases), especially given that "subsistence" is a common translation for "hypostasis"? Deusveritasest 01:44, March 9, 2009 (UTC)

This is a good question. Hmmm, thinking out loud:
A human can only have one essence since he shares of two seeds of the same essence, however,
Christ's paternal line is not from a "human" seed but from a "divine seed" so his paternal essence is divine.
Christ's maternal line IS of "human" seed; so that discounts the possibility that God "wore" humanity (much like a coat of human flesh over his divinity) ...
So, he is born as "one hypostasis of the Triune God" but in that hypostasis has two "essences"; the "essence" of God (which is eternal not created) and the "essence" of Man (which started with Adam)...
so, I agree, "subsists" may not be the right word to use because it implies that the two essences never united ...
but my question is ... do they unity or do they not unite? I think that March 25 they unite. Help.
Vasiliki 03:13, March 9, 2009 (UTC)
I agree that the human and divine essences are united in the "one composite hypostasis of God the Word Incarnate", and thus it is appropriate to say that he is "of two natures" and "recognized in two natures". It seems that what you were talking about is simply the composition of the Incarnate Word, that He is composed of perfect humanity and perfect divinity that are unmixed and thus maintain their integrity. I personally always try to make a distinction between Christ's "composition" and His "subsistence", because speaking of a dual subsistence sounds theologically dangerous to me. And I think you are quite correct in saying that Christ is "one hypostasis", that being the union of the Incarnation, and that he possesses the divine essence of YHWH and the human essence of Adam.
"Subsists in two natures" may very well imply a particular type of union, however this is a type of union I am wary of. There was a leader of the Assyrian Church of the East named "Babai the Great", who claimed to be a disciple of Theodore of Mopsuestia. Keep in mind that Theodore was condemned by the EOC at the Second Council of Constantinople (553) as being theologically akin to Nestorius. Babai happened to write a book called "The Book of the Union". In it, he proposed a theory of the union of the "Incarnation". However, Babai explicitly denied that the union was hypostatic. Instead, as Theodore had done, he suggested that the union was prosopic: that Christ was one person (prosopon) in whom there were two entirely distinct existential realities (hypostasis), Man (Jesus) and God (Logos). This form of Nestorian union is thus entirely abstract and can be chalked up to nothing more than intellectual identification. This is precisely the type of "union" that I fear when I hear the phrase "one person who subsists in two natures".
Anyway, I didn't fully understand the question you asked at the end of your post. Could you try rephrasing it? Deusveritasest 03:37, March 9, 2009 (UTC)
I dont use the word "hypostasis" to distinguish the divinity and the humanity .. hypostasis refers to a person .. so, when I used that word I meant God the Father (one hypostasis of the Holy Trinity), God the Son (second hypostastis of the Holy Trinity) and the Holy Spirit of God (third hypostasis of the Holy Trinity) - three persons of the same essence. Haha, I am scared to even "go there" with the next level of discussing "hyspostasis" which is the person of Christ himself ... I was reading up on this on Wikipedia ... it says that the Hypostatic Union is a core belief for RC and EO ... it seems to phrase it much better saying:
It became official at the Council of Ephesus, which stated that the two natures (divine and human) are united in the one person (existence or reality, "hypostasis") of Christ.
they dont use the word "subsists" which to me does tend to lean towards miaphysite understanding ... I dont know, I am not a theologian so I hope somone can help out.
I am happy to take this conversation to PM on if you like.
Vasiliki 06:33, March 9, 2009 (UTC)
Well, aside from that fact that I really don't like using "person" as a translation of hypostasis, I agree that it a much more accurate description of the union. To say that "there are two natures in (making up) the hypostasis of Christ" isn't really all that worrisome language, whereas saying the reverse "Christ is in two natures" is language that worries me significantly more. Deusveritasest 19:29, March 9, 2009 (UTC)

Subsists can mean a lot of things. Indeed, if it is a sort of verbal form of hypostasis, it's actually quite appropriate, i.e., to say that Christ is enhypostasized (another common term for the same thing) in two natures. In any event, this terminology is quite common in Chalcedonian Christological writing. —Fr. Andrew talk contribs (THINK!) 19:07, March 9, 2009 (UTC)

Father, I'm not quite sure what you mean that "Christ is enhypostasized in two natures". Could you please elaborate? Deusveritasest 19:29, March 9, 2009 (UTC)
I mean exactly what Chalcedon says, nothing more or less. In any event, in two natures is used everywhere in our hymnography. —Fr. Andrew talk contribs (THINK!) 20:15, March 9, 2009 (UTC)
I do not think that the Council of Chalcedon used the term "enhypostasize". The only other time I have heard this word was when I was reading V.C. Samuel's "The Council of Chalcedon Re-Examined" and he mentioned it in his section on John of Damascus. Thus, the only time I have heard this term used in the Fathers is with John of Damascus. Given this, I don't see the connection between "what Chalcedon says" and what you have said. Not to say that there is no connection, just that it has not of yet been made apparent to me.
Also, I'm well aware that the phrase "in two natures" is used substantially in the EO Tradition. However, to my understanding the Council of Chalcedon did not use the phrase "subsists in two natures". Rather, it said Christ is to be "recognized in two natures", a phrase that the Second Council of Constantinople clarified as abstract and theoretical. 2nd Constantinople even went so far as to say that those who are not content accept the difference of the two natures merely in theory, as an abstraction, but wish to introduce a differentiation beyond this, they are anathematized. Thus I am not questioning any old form of "in two natures", rather specifically "subsists in two natures". Deusveritasest 20:31, March 9, 2009 (UTC)
You asked what I meant, so I told you. I wasn't suggesting that Chalcedon used that term. When I used the term, I meant it to express the faith of Chalcedon.
The truth is that no translation into English will fully express Chalcedonian theology (which doesn't end with Chalcedon). "Subsists in two natures" is clearly used quite often in Chalcedonian theology to express the faith of Chalcedon, even if not always limiting itself exclusively to the language of Chalcedon.
Chalcedon clearly taught that Christ is a single hypostasis with or in two natures. To be "enhypostastized" refers to the state of a nature having being in a hypostasis. I can't recall a specific place where I've read that term, but I recall seeing it being used by multiple writers. Its main function is to indicate that natures have no being in themselves (which would essentially be Platonic), but that they are always in a hypostasis. —Fr. Andrew talk contribs (THINK!) 22:02, March 9, 2009 (UTC)
I still don't understand how it is orthodox to say "Christ subsists in two natures" or "Christ is a single hypostasis in two natures". Isn't the word "in" a reference to being? Aren't these phrases thus suggesting that Christ is a single personality who exists simultaneously in two distinct loci of being? Deusveritasest 23:20, March 9, 2009 (UTC)
That is one way of reading it. But in reading it that way, you're deriving a meaning which most writers clearly do not intend.
Remember that the purpose of an encyclopedia is not to develop or criticize theological language and terminology but simply to describe as best as we can in brief form what it is that theologians mean when they use certain terms. We may not like their terminology, but an encyclopedia is not the place to enter into theological debate. That is best accomplished elsewhere. —Fr. Andrew talk contribs (THINK!) 02:19, March 10, 2009 (UTC)
Well, I was considering in the context of an encyclopedia that is EO themed with an explicitly claimed EO bias that is speaking about EO beliefs that the teaching of the Church should be represented in its articles. And to me "subsists in two natures" appeared to be doctrinally problematic in being Nestorianesque, thus betraying the EO Tradition. I suppose it's not really clear that this is the case, so I will simply back down from any practical objections to the content of the article.
I am definitely interested in continuing to discuss this matter, however. I am somewhat personally invested in the topic of the hypostatic union and am having issues of faith on this matter right now. I am wondering if you have any time/energy to continue this conversation with me outside of Orthodox Wiki? Maybe on Monachos? Or over e-mail? Or something of that sort? You seem more knowledgeable in the breadth of our Christological Tradition than myself and I've enjoyed talking with you so far. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Deusveritasest (talkcontribs) .

To be honest, I don't think I'm really qualified. I do think it's a good idea to discuss it over at, however, where there are folks who can address such things far better than I. —Fr. Andrew talk contribs (THINK!) 13:18, March 10, 2009 (UTC)

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