Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Michel R. Barnes
The Christological opus of Theodoret of Cyrrhus remains somewhat controversial due to his involvement in the Nestorian and Monophysite controversies as the champion of the Antiochene milieu. Although the recent scholarship is increasingly benevolent in the considerations of his Christology, still certain doubts are present about the constancy of his teaching. In this dissertation, I argue that the Christology of Theodoret of Cyrrhus remains consistent and unchanged throughout his life. The analysis of both his early and mature Christological output, as evidenced in the Expositio rectae fidei and the Eranistes, shows that the main theological concepts and terminology remain unaffected by the many years of fierce theological debates. Theodoret’s Christology is constructed around the key concept of sharp distinction between the uncreated and created orders of existence, to which the divine and human natures of Christ respectively belong. The ontological chasm between these orders effectively prevents the union on the level of οὐσία and φύσις, which designate the common characteristics of entities, but could only takes place at the level of πρόσωπον or ὑπόστασις, which he reserves for individual characteristics.
Theodoret’s Christology is defined in relation to the economy of salvation. The Logos is the subject of the Incarnation, since he is the only personal presence at the moment of conception. The Logos creates and unites to himself the human nature of Christ. The natures are united in the person of Jesus Christ.
The Christological work of Theodoret paved the way to the definition of faith proclaimed at the Council of Chalcedon. It was through his efforts that the Antiochene Christology experienced certain restitution after the blow dealt to it by the Cyrilline party at the Council of Ephesus (431). Therefore, Theodoret of Cyrrhus ought to resume his rightful place in the history of the Christological controversies alongside and in equal glory with Cyril of Alexandria.
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