Previous PageTable Of ContentsNext Page

Nestorius, The Bazaar of Heracleides (1925) pp.87-95. Book 1 Part 2.


Concerning the Faith.

Sophronius says: Because then many accept the faith of the Three Hundred and Eighteen which was laid down at Nicaea, both persons who believe in various ways and those who understand the Divine Scriptures some in one way and some in another and in various ways He was made flesh and was made man may it please thy Reverence to pass [in review] their intentions and their opinions; and do thou write and make known unto me how it appears unto thee and what thou dost approve as well-pleasing, and give no cause to them that seek cause to calumniate thee.

Nestorius. 1. [Some] of them in fact say that the Incarnation of our Lord Christ took place in fiction and schema and in order that he might appear unto men and teach and give the grace of the Gospel unto all men. And, as he appeared unto each one of the saints, so in the last times he appeared unto all men.

2. But others say that the divine ousia became flesh, so that it should become in its own ousia the ousia of the flesh for the nature of men, and that he should comport himself and suffer and set our nature free. For he who became man not in his own ousia but in schema, has surely not set us free but has surely deceived us, since he appeared in schema and to suffer for our sakes without having suffered.

/ 3. Others again confess that God was made flesh in the flesh as a complement of nature instead of the soul. He was made flesh naturally in the flesh to work and to suffer, and he naturally endured all the natural sufferings of the body, being by his nature impassible but by a natural incarnation passible, |88 even as the soul, which by its nature suffers not the sufferings of the body nor is pained nor hungers, through a natural economy suffers naturally the sufferings of the body, being united with it naturally, that he may naturally comport himself and suffer on our behalf. And not in fiction and in schema or by any other nature but by his own nature he has set us free from death and corruption.

4.  But others confess that in body and in soul he was made flesh for the completion of the nature and that God the Word was instead of an intelligence, so as to be instead of an intelligence in the nature in the body and in the soul, and to comport himself in the nature of men and to suffer on our behalf. For he came to suppress that intelligence which transgressed the commandment and obeyed not God and to be instead of intelligence in the soul and in the body, and not in a schema without hypostasis nor in another nature nor again in a bodily frame without a soul.

5.  But others [confess] as touching that flesh wherein God the Word was made flesh that he was made flesh, animate flesh, that felt not in its nature / and understood not through the soul but understood and felt by the activity of God the Word. In God the Word this soul felt and also understood, and the body was a natural instrument; and they divide not Christ into instrument and workman, since the instrument and the workman act together.

6.  But others confess two natures in Christ before the union and that each of the natures should be conceived in its own nature: God the Word on the one hand in the Father and in the Holy Spirit and men in the flesh; but after the union [they are] not conceived as two natures in virtue of being united in ousia; and one [ousia] results from the two of them. They change them from nature to nature in such wise that the same is literally man and God, so that God comports himself as a man and dies for us as God and rises by his own might.

7. But others say of the incarnation of our Lord [that it |89 was in] an animate flesh in a rational and intelligent soul, complete in its nature and in its might and in its natural activities, and not in schema nor in a change of ousia nor again for the natural completion of the nature of the body and of the soul, or of the intelligence, or [that it was] mingled into one nature out of two of them or that they were changed from the one into the other, or / that [it took place] for the completion of the natural activities in such wise that the flesh should not act in its own nature; but [it was in] one prosôpon of both natures, both of them maintaining the properties of their own natures; and the ousia of the divinity remains and suffers not when it is in the ousia of the flesh, and the flesh again remains in the ousia of the flesh when it is in the nature and in the prosôpon of the divinity; for the body is one and both of them [are] one Son. For no other is called God the Word in the flesh apart from him who is in our own flesh; nor again [is anything else called] the flesh, but it is in the Son, in God the Word: that he should comport himself completely in the nature of men being man, and that he should rise as God being God by nature, that he in consequence of sinlessness and of having observed [the commandments] should be delivered to death for our salvation, that he might preserve the likeness of his own image. In order then to become so, he took not for [his] likeness a name which is more excellent than all names that the nature of men might be exalted; for the honour and exaltation has not been given to an ousia which henceforward is not of man but of God the Word. Our own nature has been honoured in another nature and not in our own nature; for the exaltation of our own nature to a name which is more excellent than all names belongs generally to that nature which is the |90 exaltation of one who remains in his own ousia and can be that which / is in the ousia of God the Word; this in fact is properly the exaltation, like which there is not [any other]. For the change of ousia into ousia is the suppression of that ousia which ought to be exalted, and also of its own, of the exaltation; 1 and there has been no more condescension of God the Word when once he is changed into the ousia of the flesh, because he is not the nature which is capable of condescending but is that which has condescended. As a king, if he becomes one of the subjects, is said to condescend though he is truly king, and on account of the clothes of subjects which he has put on is said to have surely condescended; in place of his own he has made use of those of the latter in schema, in such wise that, as those who are under the law of administrators, so will he be voluntarily under the law though he is their own king, [and king] of the administrators and of their lords. For there is no more an exaltation in being exalted to his own nature, but in giving him what he had not, not in taking away from him what he had. For if exaltation and humiliation belong to that which was and which originally was, humiliation belongs to this nature which was and which originally was. Of whom is the exaltation? First he said the ousia which was exalted and afterwards that name wherein it is exalted, / which is above all names. For if thou takest away the ousias which accept humiliation and exaltation, there is no ousia which has been humiliated. Therefore he said he humiliated himself in reference to a voluntary union, the incarnation and the kind of humiliation which he showed when he took the likeness of a servant, and again that which took place resulted in a voluntary and not a natural [union]; in schema he was found as a man, not in ousia; for in the likeness of God [was] the likeness of the servant. The likeness of God was in schema as a man, for God was in his own ousia, in such wise that it was conceived also as an humiliation in him that he took the likeness of a servant, and as an exaltation in the likeness of the |91 servant that it took a name which is more excellent than all names, and [so that] it was not conceived as a change of ousia either into an ousia or into a natural composition of one nature, but as being a voluntary [union], as [being] one in humiliation and in exaltation; for that of nature is passible and changeable, since it is a nature created and made, not uncreated nor unmade nor unchangeable nor immutable.

Consequently this man 2 has attributed nothing in the Incarnation to the conduct of the man but [all] to God the Word, in such wise that he made use of the nature of humanity for his own conduct. So Arius and Eunomius and Apollinarius say therefore that Christ is God in name but in reality deprive him / of being God, in ascribing those things in him which are human in nature to his own ousia, and suppress the genealogy of the family of Christ and the promises made to the patriarchs, of whose seed arose the Christ after the flesh. Therefore the Evangelists record all those things which in truth show the nature of man, lest on account of the divinity it should not be believed that he was also man nor be believed together with this that it was he who was affirmed by the promises. Therefore the Blessed Mary was recorded as a woman who was betrothed to a man, of whom he 3 has written both his name and his race and his trade and his place, in order that there might be nothing to raise a doubt leading to disbelief that she was a woman. Therefore also [he wrote] of his low estate and with all these things also of the annunciation of his conception and of his birth and of the manger, to make known him who was born together with her who bore him, that it might be affirmed that he is truly man, of [his] sleeping in the manger, of the swathing in swaddling bands such as are natural to infants, of the offerings which were offered for him for his progress, of his increase in stature and in wisdom with God and with men, of his manner of life in the world, of his observances, of his submission, of the prayers which he prayed, of all his fulfilment of the law, of the baptism and of the saying which was |92 said of him, that he / who from the womb was son by union was the Son, of the witness to the observance of the customs, of the word of the Father, of the appearance of the Holy Spirit, of his dispensation with all zeal on our behalf, not in illusion nor in the schema of a man but in the human nature [formed] of the body of a man and a rational soul which thinks and reflects in the nature of men, that it may have everything which is in the nature of man without being deprived of the union with God the Word. For the union of the natures resulted not in [one] nature or in a confusion or in a change or in a change of ousia, either of divinity into humanity or of humanity into divinity, or in a mixture of natures or in the composition of one nature, being mixed and suffering together with one another in the natural activities of natures which are naturally constituted.4

For they suppress all these things through the natural and hypostatic union and they take everything which is in his nature and attribute them naturally unto God the Word: the human fear and the betrayal, the interrogation, the answer, the smiting upon the cheeks, the sentence of the cross, the way thereto, the setting of the cross upon his shoulder, the bearing of his cross, the removal [of it] from him that it might be set on another, the crown of thorns, the robes of purple, / the raising up of the cross, the crucifixion, the fixing of the nails, the gall which was offered unto him, the other distresses, the surrender of his spirit to the Father, the bowing down of his head, the descent of his body from the cross, the embalming thereof, his burial, the resurrection on the third day, his appearance in his body, his speaking and his teaching that they should not suppose him to be an illusion of the body but truly body which had also flesh. Because he was not by illusion and by deception a body and a soul but in truth all that by nature, there was nothing that was hid.

All the human things, which now men are ashamed to predicate of him, the Evangelists were not ashamed to predicate, those which without being ashamed they 5 make over to |93 the divine nature through the union of the natural hypostasis: God suffering the sufferings of the body because he is naturally united in nature, thirsting, hungering, in poverty, in anxiety, meditating, praying so as both to conquer human things wherein he was naturally suffering and to fight against the nature of men, [they / claim this] so as to bring to nought our glory and to bring to nought our salvation. And the properties of God the Word they set at nought and make them human; he would have acted naturally in nature and suffered in the sensibility of nature, accepting sufferings in his own ousia naturally, as the body [accepts those] of the soul and the soul [those] of the body. / Surely it is an awful and dreadful thing to conceive this and to tell men what and what sort of thoughts they have concerning the Son, that he is both made and created and that he has been changed from impassible to passible and from immortal to mortal and from unchangeable to changeable. Although one would make him the ousia of the angels and without suffering and say that he operated not by his nature nor by his activity nor by his might, but by that which he became, would he escape withal from suffering sufferings? But it is not possible for one who is naturally united to escape; for if he were not naturally to suffer the sufferings of the body, he would suffer them as the soul instead of the soul, because he is instead of the soul which reflected not as intelligence and whose in its reflection he was instead of intelligence. And he was in schema and by means of the schema of a man he deceived, as though he had the things of the soul and of the body and of the intelligence and these were void of operation by their nature.

But by those who pass for orthodox these things are said, that he is of the very nature of the Father, impassible and without needs and unchangeable and immutable, and then, as the Jews mocked, calling him Christ, and surely crucified him, / so also the former attribute unto him in word a nature unchangeable, impassible and without needs, and they ascribe unto him all sufferings and every need of the body and make over all the things of the soul and the intelligence to God the Word in |94 virtue of an hypostatic union. And, like those who change him from his nature, at one time they call him now impassible and immortal and unchangeable, and afterwards they prohibit him from being then called immortal and impassible and unchangeable, being angry against any one who repeatedly calls God the Word impassible. Once thou hast heard; it is then enough for thee. And they predicate two whole natures of the divinity and of the humanity and they predicate a change of natures by union, attributing nothing either to the humanity or to the divinity in making over the things of humanity to the nature and those of the divinity to the nature. And they preserve not even the things which belong to the divinity by nature, in making God the Word of two ousias in nature; and they dissemble the man and all that is his own, on whose account the Incarnation took place and in whom it took place and through whom we have been released from the captivity of death. And they make use indeed of the name of orthodox, but in fact they are Arians. And thereby they misrepresent the fullness of God the Word, by all the human things of nature which they predicate of him as the result of the union of the natural hypostasis, that he might comport himself and suffer naturally in all / human things. He made use of humanity not that it might comport itself and suffer for our sakes, but that God the Word might comport himself not in the prosopon but in the nature, for the union in prosôpon is impassible; and this is [the opinion] of the orthodox; but one which is passible is the fabrication of heretics against the nature of the only Son. Each man comes with whatever he will; for unavoidably one arrives at the opinion of the orthodox and not at the blasphemy of heretics. He 6 has irreverently written all those things that he has wished in favour of the hypostatic union in his own Articles 7 and much has been written thereon by many. We too ought not to make our book endless in busying ourselves with things that are evident, but above all we ought to reveal unto all men such increase little by little of impiety. Because I have shown |95 this beforehand, I have not renounced the just course of the orthodox nor shall I renounce it until death; and although they all, even the orthodox, fight with me through ignorance and are unwilling to hear and to learn from me, yet the times will come upon them when they will learn from those who are heretics while fighting against them how they have fought against him who fought on their behalf. 8

1. 1  Perhaps an accidental transposition in the order of the words, for which 'of its own exaltation' should be read.

2. 3 Viz. Cyril.

3. 5 Viz. the Evangelist.

4. 1 According to the Syriac punctuation the full stop and new paragraph come at 'God the Word' above.

5. 2 Viz. the opponents of Nestorius.

6. 2 Viz. Cyril.

7. 3 The twelve anathematisms attached to the third letter to Nestorius.

8. 1 There is here a lacuna in the Syriac text, followed by a fragment (Syr., pp. 137-46), which seems to be misplaced, being apparently the beginning of Bk. II, Sect. 1. The present editors have therefore followed Nau in continuing here from p. 146 of the Syriac text and in placing pp. 137-46 after p. 270.

Previous PageTable Of ContentsNext Page

This text was transcribed by Roger Pearse, 2006. All material on this page is in the public domain - copy freely.

Greek text is rendered using unicode.

Early Church Fathers - Additional Texts