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ST JOHN CHRYSOSTOM AND THE INTEGRITY OF THE HUMAN NATURE OF CHRIST It has been said that the accentuation of the integrity of the two natures in Christ constitutes a no less firm foundation of St John Chrysostom's christology than it does that of his compatriots.1 In this article, we propose to analyse one affirmation implicit in this statement, namely, that St John Chrysostom, in his christology, emphasized the integrity of the human nature of Christ. After an introduction treating of Chrysostom's doctrine on the reality of the flesh assumed by the Word, we shall proceed to a discussion of Chrysostom's doctrine concerning the soul of Christ, its spiritual activities in the domain of intellect and will, and finally of the operations of Christ. I. THE REALITY OF THE ASSUMED FLESH "Why", asks St John Chrysostom in his commentary on St Matthew 's Gospel, "doth he caU it a 'book of the generation of Jesus Christ', while yet this book hath not the birth only, but the whole economy?" He answers by invoking the supreme gratuitousness and importance of the Incarnation: "because this is the sum of the whole economy, and is made an origin and root of all our blessings . . . For that which teems with astonishment and is beyond all hope and all expectation is that God should become man".2 By means of the Incarnation, the "Sun of Justice casts its rays through our flesh and illumines our souls".3 The Incarnation surpasses all thought, for how shall we ever comprehend 1 Cfr J. H. JUZEK, Die Christologie des hl. Johannes Chrysostomus, Breslau, 1912, p. 31: "Die Betonung der Integrität der zwei Naturen in Christus bildet auch bei Chrysostomus, wie bei seinen Landsleuten, einen eisernen Bestandteil seiner Christologie." 2 In Matth., 2, 3; PG, $y, 27. The patristic use of the term ??????µ?a and the variety of meanings attached to it are outlined by G. L. PRESTIGE, God in Patristic Thought, London, 1956, pp. 57—67. All the meanings developed by PRESTIGE in these pages might be illustrated by texts drawn from Chrysostom, with whom, as the author admits, "the word is a constant favourite" (p. 62). PRESTIGE concludes: "It need only be added that the supreme instance of divine economy, whether in the sense of dispensation , condescension, or special providence, was exhibited in the Incarnation , for which the word "oekonomia" without any verbal qualification, is the regular patristic term from the third century onwards" (p. 67). 3 In diem natalem, 1; PG, 49, 351. 298 Integrity of Human Nature of Christ299 how "God the Unspeakable, the Unutterable, the Incomprehensible and He that is equal to the Father, hath passed through a Virgin's womb and hath vouchsafed to be born of woman and to have Abraham and David for forefathers".4 The Son alone of the Blessed Trinity assumed flesh, though in doing so, He lost none of the glory that was His by nature, and thus His Incarnation did not in any way make Him inferior to the Father.5 The Son, therefore, enjoyed a twofold generation — the one like our own, the other ineffable and hidden. Through the birth according to the flesh, God was manifested "by means of a true flesh".6 The Evangelists have given us some details concerning the mode of the Incarnation. Christ's birth was of "a strange and wondrous kind",7 since He was born of a Virgin who continued to be a Virgin, but the flesh from which the Holy Spirit has fashioned the Body of Christ is true virginal flesh, drawn from the same substance as our own; and the manner of Mary's parturition was natural. St. Paul, "by saying 'born of a woman' thereby stops the mouths of them that say Christ came us as through some conduit". If indeed it had happened in this way, as the Gnostics claim, asks Chrysostom, what need would there be for a womb ? Furthermore, if this were so, Christ would have nothing in common with us, but the flesh would be of some other kind, and not of the mass which belongs to us.8 Christ's conception, then, was of a strange...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1945-9718
Print ISSN
0080-5459
Pages
pp. 298-317
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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