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In: The Afterlife of the Platonic Soul
In: A Companion to Byzantine Iconoclasm

Abstract

Leontius of Byzantium’s treatise Contra Nestorianos et Eutychianos begins with a section in which the author demonstrates how the human nature in Christ can be real without being a second hypostasis. Leontius starts from the ontological model of the Cappadocians but modifies it radically when he complements the two sets of qualities that constitute ‘nature’ and ‘hypostasis’ with an unqualified substrate. Introduction of such a substrate, which the Cappadocians had rejected, ensured the reality of the human nature within the hypostasis of the Word because it served to anchor the set of human qualities, which when seen by themselves were considered to be a mere abstraction. With this new ontological framework Leontius could defend the formula of Chalcedon against its Nestorian and Monophysite detractors and also demonstrate that it did not violate the tenets of Aristotelian philosophy, which in the sixth century was regarded as a true reflection of the order of being.

In: Vigiliae Christianae
In: Scrinium

Abstract

Towards the end of the eighth century the Nestorian Patriarch Timothy convened a council, which condemned several mystics for having held the belief that Christ’s humanity could see his divinity. This article draws attention to a Chalcedonian sermon on the Annunciation whose author shared Patriarch Timothy’s views. Through comparison with the Questions and Answers of Pseudo-Athanasius and with Theodore of Stoudios’ sermon on the Angels it shows that the author of the sermon on the Annunciation participated in a wider Chalcedonian debate about the ability of human beings to see God and the equally invisible angels and souls. Having presented the evidence it makes the case that as regards this topic the Eastern Christian religious discourse had not yet fragmented along sectarian and political boundaries and that throughout the East Christians were experiencing the same anxieties and responding to them in remarkably similar ways.

In: Vigiliae Christianae

This article focuses on the term enhypostaton. It makes the case that this term was originally coined in order to express three modes of being: “by itself”, “with another” and “in another”. The first and third of these modes could not explain the status of the flesh as a nature, which does not have a hypostasis of its own, since they denoted full-blown hypostases and mere accidents. By contrast, the second mode was tailored to the specific case of the human being where soul and body as complete natures come together to form a single hypostasis, which had traditionally served as a paradigm for the incarnation.

In: Vigiliae Christianae
In: Scrinium

In the sixth and seventh centuries the belief in an active afterlife and its corollaries, the cult of the saints and the care of the dead, came under attack by a group of people who claimed that the souls could not function without their bodies. Some defenders of the traditional point of view sought to rebut this argument through recourse to the Platonic concept of the self-moved soul, which is not in need of the body. However, the fit between Platonism and traditional notions of the afterlife was not as complete as might first be thought. This article focuses on two Christian thinkers, John of Scythopolis and Maximus the Confessor, who were deeply influenced by Platonic ideas. In his Scholia on the writings of Pseudo-Dionysius John states clearly that after death the souls of ordinary human beings are inactive whereas the souls of the spiritual elite have entered the realm of eternal realities, which is entirely separate from this world. The case of Maximus is more complex. One of his letters is a spirited defence of the posthumous activity of the soul. However, in his spiritual writings he outlines a conceptual framework that shows a marked resemblance to the position of John of Scythopolis.


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In: Scrinium

This article focuses on two confessions of faith, which were composed in the late eleventh century by the philosopher John Italos and by the monk Nicetas Stethatos. In-depth analysis of selected passages shows that the two men subscribed to a Trinitarian theology that could be considered heretical. They denied the existence of a common divine substance that could safeguard the oneness of God and instead emphasised the closeness of the hypostases to each other, which made it impossible for them to accord to the hypostases the distinguishing function that the Cappadocians had given them. Thus it can be argued that it was their Tritheism that pushed them towards a ‘Sabellian’ solution.


Free access
In: Scrinium