The Second Meeting of
The Joint Commission for the Relations
Between the Russian Orthodox Church and
Oriental Orthodox Churches in the
His Life and His Christology
Metropolitan Bishoy of Damiette
General Secretary of the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church
Co-Chairman of the Commission
1. Outline of the Life of Saint Severus 
was born in Sozopolis in Pisidia about 465. His family was well-to-do, and as a
young man, not yet baptised, he was sent to Alexandria to study grammatikh and rhtorikh. From Alexandria
he went to Beirut, to study Roman law. At
told that after his baptism Severus became increasingly ascetic, spending much
of his time in church. He qualified as an advocate, and visited
was already actively involved in opposing the Council of
the years 508-11 in
Macedonius, who had definite leanings towards
removal of Macedonius was only part of a concerted effort by the [non-Chalcedonian].
While Severus had been in the capital, Philoxenus had been busy in
Severus affirmed Nicea,
died in July 518, and Evagrius tells us that, many contentions having arisen in
the church, Justin, in the first year of his reign, ordered him to be arrested
Severus, with a number of the [non-Chalcedonian] bishops, managed to escape to
530 Justinian relaxed persecution of the [non-Chalcedonians], and in 532 he summoned the
leading [non-Chalcedonian] to a 'collatio' with the Chalcedonians in
unity in the [non-Chalcedonian] camp so alarmed… Ephraim of
and his friends, were condemned at
a sunodoV endhmousa in
to Athanasius, Severus left
and Philoxenos… tried to consolidate the forces against
3. What Some Russian Theologians Wrote About St. Severus and His Christology
(i) Professor N. A. Zabolotsky
In his paper on "The
Christology of Severus of
"It is important to mention here also the point of view of Prof. V.V. Bolotov about the attitude of Severus towards Chalcedon; although Severus rejected this Council that had become "a sign of controversy" for many centuries, he did it not because the Council taught about two natures, mediating about the unity of Godhead and manhood in Christ, but because the fathers of the Council did not follow St. Cyril's doctrine and did not use the terminology of this great master of Alexadrine school; V. V. Bolotov thought that Severus had rejected the Chalcedonian Council for its being incomplete, one sided, for its clumsy choice of dogmatic words, that are a less successful, instead of the most characteristic ones. Examining Severus as a polemist against Nestorian errors and actual Monophysitism, we acknowledge that nobody of the oriental opponents of Chalcedon "approached the Chalcedonian dogma in such a degree as this famous author", avoiding formalism and assuming an attitude of examining Severus' Christology in its essence, we shall be able perhaps to consider him a spokesman of Eastern Orthodoxy although not in the Chalcedonian shape."
He also wrote in the same paper:
best western investigator of Severus… J. Lebon (Joseph Lebon) speaks more than
once about a direct dependence of the dogmatic system of this non-Chalcedonian patriarch on St. Cyril
He also wrote:
formula ‘two natures’ was formally condemned by Severus mostly in connection
with his anti-Nestorian polemics because he thought that the formula of the
Council of Chalcedon, i.e. evn du,o fu,sesin, introduces Nestorianism, for it discerns supposedly two individuals,
because for Severus, to discern essences meant the same as to discern
hypostasis; the Chalcedonian expression ‘in two natures’ meant for Severus ‘in
two hypostaseis’ which was the same as ‘in two persons’. But without stopping
his polemics against the Council of
emphasize non-confluence and unalterability, Severus uses also the formula ek duo fusewn ‘out of
two natures’- which had been used by the participants of the Council of
(ii) Professor V. V. Bolotov wrote:
"Following St. Cyril, Severus added… "We also acknowledge the essential difference of two, combined into one nature; we know that the Word has one nature and the flesh had another."
Many other writings of Professor V. V. Bolotov were introduced above under the writings of Professor N. A. Zabolotsky.
of St. Severus of
Saint Severus strongly defended the Cyrillian Alexandrine Christology and skilfully brought into unity the Antiochene and Alexandrine teachings concerning the incarnation of the Logos.
(i) The Double Consubstantiality
Saint Severus of
“Since the one Christ is one nature and hypostasis of God the Word incarnate from Godhead and manhood, it necessarily follows that the same is known at once as consubstantial with the Father as to Godhead and consubstantial with us as to manhood. The same is the Son of God and the Son of man. He is not, therefore, two sons, but he is one and the same son.”
(ii) The Composite Hypostasis and Single Prosopon
V. C. Samuel in his book “The Council of Chalcedon Re-Examined” wrote the following:
“The non-Chalcedonian theologian affirms that the union of Godhead and manhood in Jesus Christ was not a union of two natures understood as abstract realities, but of God the Son with the manhood which became individuated in the union. Though the manhood was not an independent hypostasis over against God the Son, it is hypostatic in the union. Accordingly, Severus and almost all other theologians recognized by the non-Chalcedonian side insist that the one hypostasis is not ‘simple’; but it is ‘composite’. As we have noted, this is a Cyrilline idea, which shows that the ‘one nature’ expression, as it is conserved in Alexandrine tradition, does not lend itself to be described as ‘monophysite’.
The one hypostasis of Jesus Christ is not simply the hypostasis of God the Son, but it is the hypostasis of God the Son in his incarnate state. So Severus writes in his contra Grammaticum.
The natures and the hypostases, of which he has been composed are perceived irreducibly and unchangeably in the union. But it is not possible to recognize a prosopon for each of them, because they did not come into being dividedly either in specific concretion or in duality. For he is one hypostasis from both, and one prosopon conjointly, and one nature of God the Word incarnate.”
For Saint Severus of
He explained that the prosopon of the hypostasis of God the Word is shared by both the divine and the human hypostases of our Lord Jesus Christ, because as he wrote, “they did not come into being dividedly either in specific concretion or in duality. For he is one hypostasis from both, and one prosopon conjointly, and one nature of God the Word incarnate.”
The concept of assuming an individuated human nature can be seen in thought alone in the formation of Eve from Adam and also in the incarnation of the Word of God from Saint Mary the Mother of God (Theotokos).
(iii) Distinction In Thought Alone “Th Qewria Monh”
In the line of the Christological understanding of St. Cyril, concerning the distinction in thought alone, at the moment of incarnation between the divinity and the humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ, St. Severus wrote the following:
“Those, therefore, who confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is one (made up) of Godhead and manhood, and that He is one prosopon, one hypostasis, and one nature of the Word incarnate, recognize and affirm also the difference, integrity, and otherness of the natures, of which the one Christ is ineffably formed. As they perceive this by subtle thought and contemplation of the mind, they do not take it as a ground for dividing the Emmanuel into two natures after the union.”
This fact was expressed by Saint Cyril of
“Accordingly, whenever the manner of the Incarnation is closely considered, the human mind doubtless sees the two, ineffably and unconfusedly joined to each other in a union; but the mind in no wise divides them after they have been united, but believes and admits strongly that the one from both is God and Son and Christ and Lord.”
Saint Cyril also wrote in the same letter:
“Wherefore, we say that the two natures were united, from which there is the one and only Son and Lord, Jesus Christ, as we accept in our thoughts; but after the union since the distinction into two is now done away with, we believe that, there is one physis of the Son”
(iv) Natural Energies and Personal Act
In His letter to Oecumenius the Count
about properties and operations, St. Severus wrote that St. Cyril of
“Nevertheless we may see in the coal as in a figure that God the Word was united to the manhood, but has not cast off being that which he is, but rather changed what had been assumed or united into his glory and operation. For, as fire when it takes hold of wood and is introduced into it, prevails over it, and does not make it cease being wood, but rather changes it into the appearance and force of fire, and performs all its own acts in it, and is already reckoned as one with it, so understand in the case of Christ also. For, since God was ineffably united with manhood, he has preserved it as what we say it is, and he himself also has remained what he was. But, after he has once been united, he is reckoned as one with it, appropriating its qualities of himself, but he himself also carried on the operation of his nature in it”. If  then the Word changed the manhood which he had hypostatically united to him, not into his nature, for he remained that which he was, but into his glory and operation, and things which manifestly belong to the flesh have come to belong to the Word himself, how shall we allow that each of the forms performs its own acts? But we must anathematize those who confine the one Christ in two nature and say that each of the natures performs its own acts. Between the things performed and done by the one Christ the difference is great. Some of them are acts befitting the divinity, while others are human. For example, to walk and travel in bodily form upon the earth is without contention human; but to bestow on those who are maimed in the feet and cannot walk upon the ground at all the power of walking like sound persons is God-befitting. Yet the one Word incarnate performed the latter and the former, and the one nature did not perform the one, and the other; nor, because the things performed are different, shall we on this account rightly define two natures or forms as operating.”
The one hypostasis of the Word of God has one operation. He has one composite natural divine human energy mia energeia, in which both the divine and human natural energies continued to exist without change, without confusion, without separation and without division. According to the dispensation the incarnate Logos was acting in one operation with different capabilities according to the different natural energies which He owned.
According to His human energy, He suffered in His own flesh, but nevertheless because of the perfect union of His divinity with His humanity with all their properties including their natural energies, those passions became healing to us; as St. Peter wrote concerning the scourges put upon the holy body of our Lord, “By whose strips you were healed” (1 Pt. 2:24). Even the death of His holy body was a life giving one, and still alive in His human spirit He went to Hades where He preached the imprisoned spirits of those who slept in the hope of salvation (see 1 Pet 3:18)!!
On His glorious resurrection the Lord Jesus Christ according to His divine energy He was able to raise His holy body from the dead bringing it again to life and to the glorious state of the body of resurrection. The first-fruit of His resurrection was declared by preserving His body after His death from corruption in the tomb “Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.” (Ps , Act ).
When He said “Lazarus, come forth” (Jn ) raising him from the dead. The miracle was performed in one divine-human act by the one Person of Jesus Christ using his natural divine human energy mia energeia.
 I. R. Torrance, Christology
 Athanasius of
 The Syriac Chronicle, Bk. 9, ch. 16, p. 257.
 Athansius, John of Beth Aphthonia and Zacharias Rhetor concur in telling us that Severus received baptism at the shrine of Leontius… Garitte argues that the Coptic represents the original Greek of Severus' sermon, and that this detail has been suppressed in the Syriac version. See G. Garitte, "Textes hagiographiques orientaux relatifs a saint Leonce de Tripoli. II L'Homelies copte de Severe d'Antioche", Le Museon 79 (1966), pp. 335-386.
 On Peter the Iberian, cf. John of Beth Aphthonia, Vie de Severe, PO 2, pp. 219-223; D.M. Lang, "Peter the Iberian and his biographers". JEH 2 (1951) pp. 158-168. In his letters, Severus acknowledges the influence of Peter on him (cf. Select Letters, Section 5, Letter 11).
 Some writers wrongly call the non-Chalcedonians Monophysites.
 Breviarium Causae Nestorianorum et Eutychianorum, XVIII, ACO 2.5, p. 133. 13-16. For Severus' own condemnation of Peter Mongus, cf, Select Letters, Section 4, Letter 2.
 cf, John of Beth Aphthoinia, op. cit. p. 232.
 For the dating, cf. Lebon Le Monophysisme, pp. 120-121.
 cf. Evagrius, The
Ecclesiatical History, ed. J.Bidez and L. Parmentier (
 Between 509-511. cf. Lebon, Le Monophysisme, pp. 124-125.
 cf. Zacharias Rhetor,
Vie de Severe,
 Evagrius, op. cit., Bk 3, ch. 32.
 The Syriac Chronicle, Bk. 7, ch. 10, p. 179 (Hamilton and Brook's translation).
 It is interesting to
note that in his Letter of Apology, Sergius also condemns "
 See Honigamann, Eveques et Eveches Monophysites (CSCO 127, Sub. 2 Louvain, 1951), pp. 16-17, for the difficulties in dating the Synod.
 The Syriac
Chronicles, Bk 7, ch. 10. For Severus' attitude to Henoticon, see his Collected
Letters (ed. Brooks)
 Evagrius, op. cit. Bk. 4, ch. 4.
 John of Beth Aphthonia, op. cit., p. 243.
 Homily 26.
 Homily 54.
 Evagrius, op. cit., Bk. 4, ch. 4.
 He mentions this twice in his Third Letter to Sergius: EM p. 158.6-7; p. 176.14-17.
 cf. Lebon, Le Monophysisme, p. 153.
 The Syriac Chronicle, Bk. 9, ch. 16, gives Severus' letter to Justinian, refusing to come to the royal city.
 Ibid., Bk 9, ch. 19.
 Ibid., Bk 9, ch. 19.
 Among other things, Severus was accused of being and "Akephalist" (ACO 3, p. 137.8-10); a Eutychian and Manichaean (ACO 3, p. 147.35-36); of conducting uncanonical baptism (ACO 3, p. 112.35-36); and of holding illegal meetings (ACO 3, p.113.14-16). The old slur about his pagan background was also brought up (ACO 3, p. 40.16-24).
 cf. ACO 3, p.121.5-9.
 Ibid., lines 22-27.
 Ibid., lines 30-34.
 Athanasius, op. cit. pp. 709-710.
 Ibid., p. 716.
V. C. Samuel, Council of
Prof. V.V. Bolotov, Lectures on the History of the
sesarkwmenh, enwsiV kaq upostasin
 cf, op, cit.
 cf, Zabolotsky p. 156.
La Christologie du monophysisme syreien
par Mgr Jospeh Lebon, Prof. em a l'Universitee Catholique de Louvain. A Russian
translation has been made in the
 cf, Zabolotsky p. 170-171.
 V. V. Bolotov, pp. 292-293, 338. J. Lebon, p. 499.
 V. V. Bolotov, p. 338; J. Lebon, p. 499
 J. Lebon, pp. 500-505.
 We think that V.V. Bolotov is not exact in this expression, admitting the idea that non-Chalcedonians allegedly taught about a real pre-existence of both natures of Christ. As a matter of fact, such doctrine may be concluded only out of Eutyche’s fantasianism, and Eutyches could take it from Origin who spoke about the pre-existence of Christ’s human soul. The non-Chalcedonians, and particularly Severus, rejected such a view absolutely.
 V.V. Bolotov, p. 338. Further V. V. Bolotov wrote: ‘But when the reason has formed the impression that these essences have been combined in such a way that one hypostasis was the result of it, it has no right to suppose that in the whole reality, taiV upostaseiV these essences, thought by him as th epinoia are two…’ It seems to us that the differentiation qewria monh used by St. Cyril and Severus emphasized the duplicity in Christ a little bit more, since it was destined to refute fantasies of Synusiasts, confluing Divinity and humanity in Christ; by qewria monh unconfluence and unmixture of the elements of God-man are confirmed. When the Chalcedonian Council said in its Oros: en duo fusisin (ek duo fusewn) asugcutwV atreptwV adiairetwV gnwrizomenon this gnwrizomenon does not include qewria monh.
J. Lebon, p. 504
 V. V. Bolotov, p. 291, Cf. also N. A. Zabolotsky, to a dialogue about the Chalcedonian Council, JMP 1970, 1, p. 39
 V. V. Bolotov, cit. p. 337-338.
Samuel, The Council of
 Contra Gr. I, p. 187.
Samuel, The Council of
Prof. V. C. Samuel, Does
 Ibid, par. 14 p.160.
A Collection of Letters of Severus of
 Schol. De Inc. Unig., 9 (ed Pusey, VI, p. 516).
 This passage as far as ‘operating’ (p. 10, 1.6) is cited in Mansi, XI, 444, where the letter is described as the 2nd to Oecumenius.
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