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Monday, November 16, 2015

St Cyril of Alexandria on the Mystery of the Incarnation (Reading Notes)


I've little time these days to write anything on the blog apart from notes on things I'm reading, and this morning I read a few lines from Cyril of Alexandria (d. 444) on the mystery of the Incarnation that seemed particularly appropriate to post here as we make our way to the beginning of Advent. They're from Cyril's On the Unity of Christ, a short treatise written near the end of his life. I'm reproducing John McGuckin's translation of these lines, but have also provided the Greek from the Sources Chrétiennes edition.
Indeed the mystery of Christ runs the risk of being disbelieved precisely because it is so incredibly wonderful. 
For God was in humanity. 
He who was above all creation was in our human condition; 
the invisible one was made visible in the flesh; 
he who is from the heavens and from on high was in the likeness of earthly things; 
the immaterial one could be touched;
he who is free in his own nature came in the form of a slave; 
he who blesses all creation became accursed;
he who is all righteousness was numbered among transgressors; 
life itself came in the appearance of death (On the Unity of Christ, 61)
Κινδυνεύει γὰρ ἀπιστεῖσθαι τὸ Χριστοῦ μυστήριον διὰ τὴν τοῦ θαύματος ὑπερζολήν. Θεὸς ἧν ἐν ἀνθρωπότητι καὶ ἐν τοῖς καθ' ἡμᾶς ὁ ὑπὲρ πᾶσαν τὴν κτίσιν, ὁ ἀόρατος, ὁρατὸς κατὰ σάρκα, ὁ ἐξ οὐρανοῦ καὶ ἄνωθεν, ἐν εἴδει τῶν χοϊκῶν, ἁπτὸς ὁ ἀναφής, ὁ κατὰ ίδίαν ἐλεύθερος, ἐν δούλου μορφῇ, ὁ εὐλογῶν τὴν κτίσιν, ἐπάρατος, καὶ ἐν τοῖς ἀνόμοις ἡ πᾶσα δικαιοσύνη, καὶ ἐν δοκήσει θανάτου γέγονεν ἡ ζωή (Quod Unus sit Christus, 723d-e).

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