December 4, 2020

The Christological Teaching of St. John of Damascus (Fr. John Romanides)

By Prof. John S. Romanides 
University of Thessaloniki
Having lived and written during the century following the Sixth Ecumenical Council, St. John of Damascus represents the Orthodox Theological Tradition, which was still living in the interpretive atmosphere created by the debates surrounding the Sixth Council. It is quite natural, therefore, that the Fathers of this Council, Sts. Maximus the Confessor and Sophronius of Jerusalem, should exercise a very strong influence on his teachings concerning the Person of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
At the same time, the Damascene sees clearly from his vantage point the lines of terminological development from the Third Ecumenical Council through the Fourth and Fifth Ecumenical Councils within the framework of the Fathers of these Councils. At the same time, he is a master of the presuppositions of the Trinitarian debate enveloping the decisions of the First and Second Ecumenical Councils and sees clearly the complete interdependence or even identity, which exists between the doctrines of the Holy Trinity and Christology.
This aspect of the teaching of St. John of Damascus cannot be clear to those who labor theologically under the influence of Latin and Protestant methods of dealing with the doctrines of the Holy Trinity and Christology. After finally accepting St. John of Damascus as a Father of the Church in the twelfth century together with the Seventh Ecumenical Council, the Frankish theologians subjugated the form and shape of St. John Damascene's theology to the presuppositions of Augustine; and thus, the whole tradition of the Fathers was interpreted from the viewpoint of Augustine who himself had a very deficient understanding of the Fathers of the First and Second Ecumenical Councils, having misunderstood not only their doctrines of the Holy Trinity, but also, that of Christology, revelation, grace, human destiny, and our final participation in divine glory or hell.
The question of Augustine's theological method is in itself of no consequence except that it is at the basis of Latin and Protestant approaches until today. Even this would be of little importance except that today's Latin and Protestant trained Orthodox theologians have been strongly influenced by Augustinian categories and treat Patristic theology in ways which are not exactly those of the Fathers.
For this reason, the Chalcedonian Orthodox and the non-Chalcedonians must make a more fundamental study of the basic presuppositions of their common Patristic tradition in regard to the doctrines of the Holy Trinity and Christology in order to clear their common theological method from such items which do not really belong to their tradition and which are clearly of Latin and Protestant origin.
By doing this, we may be able to get beyond or behind our own traditional terminology to the reality signified by this terminology in order to determine the orthodox and non-orthodox intent of this same terminology. This is the very key to dialogue between the Chalcedonian Orthodox and non-Chalcedonian Churches.
It has become quite clear since Aarhus (1964) that each side sees heresy in the terminology of the other side; this, the other side denies. Each side sounds to the other as though it speaks the language of Nestorians or Monophysites and each side rejects both Monophysitism and Nestorianism.
In the light of this fact, it may be possible that the key to an efficient dialogue method is to unravel the relationship between the theological terms, which developed in controversy against heresy, and the revelation these terms are intended to protect.
At the same time, we must be acutely aware of the possibility that preservation of terminology originally intended to preserve a concrete revelation may continue as terminology per se, while the original concrete revelation is lost sight of and even replaced by a heresy.
We must also be aware of the possibility that the concrete revelation may be expressed by two sets of terms which may sound as though they teach something different but which do not, so long as their connection to the one concrete revelation is maintained and clearly seen by those using differing terms to signify the same revelatory reality.
Differing terminology pointing to one single concrete revelatory reality was seen clearly by St. Athanasius in regard to those who rejected the homoousios but accepted that the Logos is of an ousia similar in everything to that of the Father and from the ousia of the Father. St. Athanasius claims that this is exactly what he himself means by homoousios.
St. Cyril sees the same type of difference in two sets of terminology pointing to the same reality in regard to the terminology used by John of Antioch in contrast to that used by the Alexandrine tradition.
Furthermore, the terminology of the Ecumenical Councils taken out of the Patristic context and subjugated to Augustinian, scholastic, and Protestant categories loses automatically its original revelatory and soteriological significance.
In the light of this relationship between terms and reality signified, and especially in the light of the fact that St. John of Damascus very clearly identifies the doctrine and terminology concerning Christology with that of the Holy Trinity, we must make an attempt to unravel the Trinitarian basis of Christological terminology and doctrine.
Furthermore, since the doctrines of the Holy Trinity and Christology are founded on revelation to the prophets, apostles, and saints and on spirituality and soteriology which form the key to the anthropological aspects of Christology, we must give ample attention to these questions within the framework of the doctrinal synthesis of St. John of Damascus.
Thus, the first part of this paper will deal with the Trinitarian and soteriological backgrounds and the second part with the Christological formulations as crystalized in the Damascene synthesis.


1.  The Trinitarian Background

a.  The Logos in Revelation

Between the Arians and Orthodox there was no problem concerning the identity of the Logos in the Old and New Testaments. Both sides were faithful to the one single tradition of the Bible and the Fathers that all revelations of God to the prophets and apostles took place by means of the Logos without flesh before the incarnation and in the flesh after the incarnation.
The fundamental difference between Orthodox and Arians was over the question of whether the Logos Who was born of the Father before the ages, Who appeared to the prophets, and Who was born of the Virgin Mary, as man, was uncreated or created, i.e. of the same or of similar essence from that of the Father.
Both sides agree against Samosatenes and Sabellians that the Hypostases and names of God and Father in relation to the Logos and Son were not interchangeable, but rather permanent hypostatic properties and individualities and numerically distinct.
However, the Arians argued that the prophets saw a created Logos and this created Logos was born of the Virgin Mary, whereas the Orthodox maintained that the prophets saw the hypostatic uncreated Logos, who was born from the Virgin Mary, making her really and truly Theotokos.
The argument between Orthodox and Arians was not over an abstract doctrine of God and His relation to the world, but rather concerning a very definite and concrete Biblical figure by means of Whom and in Whom God appeared to the prophets without flesh and to the apostles in the flesh.
Neither Arians nor Orthodox questioned the fact that Christ is the Logos, the Angel of God, the Angel of Glory, the Lord of Glory, the Angel of Great Counsel, Who revealed God to the prophets before the incarnation and Who had created the ages and the world.

b.  The Logos and the First and Second Ecumenical Councils

Besides agreeing or disagreeing on each of the above basic principles the Orthodox and Arians agreed on the following items:
      a) That in God energy and will are distinct from the divine essence.
      b) That God creates by will and by energy and not by nature.
      c) That only God knows His own essence.
      d) That there is no similarity between God and the created.
      e) That only God can possess by nature the divine will, power and energy.
     f) That creatures may participate in the divine will, power, and energy only by grace, never by nature.
In the light of the above, the Arians argued that the Logos is not from the Hypostasis, nature or essence of God, but from non-being by the creative will of the Father. Thus, God generated by will, and not by nature, the Logos, which for the Arians was the same as God creating by will and not by nature the Logos, who thus becomes Son and God by grace while God becomes Father.
In keeping with the teaching of the Bible, both Arians and Orthodox recognized the fact that the Son, receives not only His existence from the Father but also his powers and energies. However, the Arians argued that the Son derives His existence from non-being by the will of God and receives from the Father not all the Father's powers and energies, but only some, and these the Son holds not by nature but by grace. Thus the Arians argued that the Son does not know the essence of the Father, nor His own essence and therefore does not have all the knowledge of the Father.
In the light of the fact that modern biblical scholars of the Latin and Protestant traditions have essentially accepted the Judaeistic and non-Trinitarian interpretation of the Old Testament, one should be impressed by the fact that Arians and Orthodox used the Old and New Testament indiscriminately in their attempts to prove the createdness or uncreatedness of the Logos. For both Arians and Orthodox the fact that the Logos is or is not consubstantial with the Father is a teaching not only of the New Testament but of both Testaments since Christ is identically the same Logos in both.
During the course of the debate, it is clear that Orthodox and Arians agreed to the principle that the Logos is uncreated God by nature only in such case as it can be proven that He has by nature from the Father everything uncreated that the Father has except from the hypostatic properties of Fatherhood and of Source of the existence of the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Yet the Orthodox themselves were split over the use of the term "homoousios" because many were afraid that it denoted a Sabellian confusion of the Hypostases and could be taken to mean "tautoousios." This was finally precluded by the general acceptance of the Cappadocian distinction between Hypostases and ousia, which Augustine and the Franks who followed him never understood.
Thus in the final terminological settlement as reflected in the Creed of the Second Ecumenical Council and clearly taught in the writings of the Fathers of this Council, the Son is generated or receives existence by generation from the Hypostasis of the Father and concomitantly receives eternally and possesses by nature the essence of the Father and all the natural powers and energies of this essence. The Son, therefore, has everything the Father has except Fatherhood and being Source of the existence of Himself and the Holy Spirit.
During the Eunomean controversy the Cappadocian Fathers especially repeated all the above mentioned Orthodox items and in the light of the adversary's teachings emphasized the distinction between the uncreated essence and uncreated energy and will, the incommunicability to creatures of the divine will and energy, namely the absolute unknowability of the divine essence and partial knowability of the divine will and energy, and the fact that the Father as Hypostasis and not as ousia generates the Son and causes the procession of the Holy Spirit. That the Paternal Hypostasis and not the divine ousia generates the Son and causes the procession of the Holy Spirit was on the one hand in keeping with the distinction between the Three Hypostases and the common divine ousia, but on the other hand comprised a basic answer to the Eunomeans who claimed that the names Father and Unbegotten were definitions of the divine essence, supposedly making the Son out to be another dissimilar and therefore created essence.
The exact same arguments based on the above presuppositions were used by the Fathers against the Macedonians in regard to the Holy Spirit.
The most fundamental presupposition was that the absolute identity of energy and will in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit means an absolute identity of essence. The one energy and will of the Holy Trinity are clearly manifestations of one uncreated essence and nature.
Thus clearly developed the axioms that in the Holy Trinity we have two things, namely 1) that which is common to all Three Persons and 2) that which is individual belonging each to only One Person. The ousia or physis and its natural will and power and energy belong in common to all Three Hypostasis by nature and by absolute equality and lordship, whereas the hypostatic properties, or attributes, or individualities belong each to only One hypostasis and is forever and radically incommunicable.
Within this framework, there is no hypostatic ousia, physis, will, power, or energy, since then each would be three and each would belong to one divine Hypostasis thus breaking up the Holy Trinity into three Gods.
At the same time, a communion or communication of hypostatic properties, attributes or individualities would confuse the Three or Two Persons of the Trinity as happened with the Samosatenes, Sabellians, and Semi-Sabellian Latins and Protestants.

c.  The Logos-made-flesh in the First and Second Ecumenical Councils.

It is to be noted that both Orthodox and Arians attributed the Biblical sayings about Christ to the Logos, since both identified the Hypostasis of Christ with the Hypostasis of the Logos.
However, the Arians confused the saying and actions attributed to Christ the Logos, not distinguishing the natural energies of the humanity of the Logos from the energies of the divine nature of the Logos, having reduced all the energies in Christ to hypostatic instead of natural energies. The acceptance of this confusion would have made it easy for the Arians to prove that the Logos is of a different nature from that of the Father and of a created essence both changeable and passible. The Arians helped themselves considerably by denying the existence of a human mind in Christ thus making it necessary to attribute the energies of the Logos' human mind to the pre-incarnate nature of the Logos. Appolinaris was to adhere to a similar denial of a created nous in Christ.
In the face of such Arian arguments two traditions are clearly discernable, that of the Orthodox and that of the Nestorians.
The Orthodox, following the lead of St. Athanasius refused to be intimidated by the Arian arguments and continued to identify the Hypostasis of Christ with the Hypostasis of the Logos, thus attributing all human and divine energies and names to Christ the Logos, and at the same time distinguishing clearly between what belongs by nature to the Logos in His divine essence and what belongs by nature, to the Logos in His created essence.
However, Diodore of Tarsus and Theodore of Mopsuestia, the Fathers of Nestorianism, made a heretical distinction between the Logos, Son of God, and Christ, the Son of David, and attributed the divine energies and names to the Logos and the human energies and names to Christ.

d.  The Theophanies of Logos and the mysteries of the Church

At the same time these Nestorians seem to be the first to devise the idea that the Old Testament prophets did not really see God when they say they saw God, but rather God created in them the impression that they saw God. In this way they avoided the problems raised by the Arians and Eunomeans who claimed that an important proof that the Logos is a creature and God by grace and not by nature, is the fact that He had such a nature as could be circumscribed in space and seen by the prophets, where as God by nature always remains invisible.
Whereas the Orthodox Fathers again refused to be intimidated by these Arian and Eunomean arguments and continued to teach that it was the Logos Who appeared to the prophets and by the Holy Spirit revealed in Himself God the Father, Augustine characterized this teaching as blasphemous claiming that even the Arians shrink from claiming that the Old Testament Theophanies are real appearances of God to the prophets. Therefore, it is impossible for the Logos to be the appearing One in these Theophanies since this would make Him not God but a creature. Augustine settled on the heretical idea that it is the whole Trinity, which is revealed not in any uncreatedness, but by means of creatures, which come into existence and pass out of existence for the purpose of being seen by the prophetic eyes and heard by the prophetic ears. Higher than these revelations by means of creatures are those revelations conveyed directly to the intellect without the intermediary of the creature and the prophetic senses through which the revealed concept must travel to the intellect. This teaching became the common position of the Franco-Latin tradition and in the person of Barlaam the Calabrian was condemned at the Council of Constantinople of 1431.
One can see from the above in a preliminary but clear way how it became possible that for the Nestorian and Augustinian Franco-Latin tradition the  immediate and unmediated communion between the recipients of revelation and grace and the uncreated glory, power, and will of God was pushed aside and replaced by a concept of indirect communion between God and man which from the soteriological viewpoint was no different from the of the Arians and Eunomeans
It must be emphasized at this point that the Fathers of the Church do not see a restoration of an immediate and real communion between God and man, namely between the uncreated glory and grace of God and men of grace only in the New Testament, but clearly in the Old Testament also. (In order not to extend the length of this paper unduly we refer the reader to extensive quotations from the Fathers in our various writings on the subject).
Since vision of and union with God is called theosis, in this sense there is theosis not only in the Incarnation of the Logos and in the Mysteries of the Church and in the consummation, but also before the incarnation, although not in a permanent form, since death was not yet abolished.
In any case, the Angel of Glory, or the Lord of Glory appearing to Israel by means of the prophets, in His glory, uncreated cloud, fire, darkness, smoke and lightning, leading His people, destroying its enemies, dwelling in the tent and the temple and thus communicating directly by means of His own natural and uncreated glory, are not only symbols of the coming communion between God and man in Christ and the Church, but are already a real communion between the Logos without flesh and His people Israel. The Angel or Lord of Glory of Israel is verily Christ Himself; and His Old Testament glory, throne of divinity, cloud, darkness, and light in which He is enveloped and appears to those within this uncreated holy of holies, are His natural energy and power with which He reveals Himself in and through His human nature, which He received from the Virgin Mary.
It is this understanding of the Old Testament foundations of the doctrines of the Holy Trinity and Christology which lies at the basis of the Patristic tradition and the decisions of the Ecumenical Councils and which makes it impossible to interpret the teachings of these Councils in either a Nestorian or Franco-Latin manner.
By recapturing this essential and sine qua non basis of Patristic doctrine and spirituality, one can immediately see how erroneous are the method used by theologians of Latin and Protestant traditions in dealing with the doctrines of the Trinity and Christology. Instead of identifying these doctrines with the concrete Angel and Lord of Glory Who appears to the prophets without flesh and to the apostles with or in the flesh and Who by the Holy Spirit reveals in Himself God the Father Whose exact and unvarying Image and Word He Himself is, theologians stemming from the Franco-Latin tradition restrict themselves to an investigation of those terms by which the Fathers and the Councils expressed and defended the Biblical Tradition concerning the Logos, thereby confusing these terms with the doctrine itself and in the end replacing the doctrine with these terms. What the Franco-Latin tradition has done by following Augustine is that it accepts the form in which the doctrines of the Ecumenical Councils are expressed and rejects the content of the form replacing the real historical content with its own imaginary content. Thus the doctrines of the Trinity and Christology are reduced to such concepts as can be conveyed, without reference to the concrete Biblical Angel and Lord of Glory and Logos, by such terms as Three Persons or Hypostases, one essence or nature, homoousios, One Person or Hypostasis or Nature in Two Natures or Substances, or in One Nature, Theotokos, etc.

e.  The Theophanies of the Logos, the Incarnation and theological method

Ignorance and lack of appreciation concerning the New Testament key to the Old Testament within the framework thus far described and preserved intact by the Fathers of the Ecumenical Councils has led Latin and Protestant scholars to believe that the basic difference between the Alexandrian and Antiochene Christological traditions is that the first begins with the Johannine Logos made flesh and sees Christology from the viewpoint of the unity of the human and divine in the One Logos identifying Christ with the Logos, whereas the Antiochene Christology strongly tends to begin with the historical Christ and appreciate His full and complete humanity in parallel with His divinity and from this duality attempts to explain the unity of the created and uncreated natures in the concrete historical person of Christ.
In my monograph on the Christology of Theodore of Mopsuestia I believe I have decisively demonstrated that this explanation of the difference between Patristic Orthodoxy, as expressed in St. Cyril of Alexandria, and the Nestorian tradition is a myth. At the basis of the Nestorian heresy is the Arian presupposition that the uncreated God cannot unite himself by nature with human nature since such a union would be a necessary union imposed upon God. For the Nestorians the Logos becoming man by nature would be proof that the Logos is a creature as the Arians claimed. Parallel to this is the other Arian presupposition accepted by the Nestorians and Augustine that a Logos in Himself made visible to the prophets could only be a created Logos.
It is clear beyond doubt that the Nestorians did not at all begin from the concrete Christ in history, but rather from a philosophical preconception concerning the relationship, which can and cannot exist between God and creation. According to this, God cannot be related or united to a creature by nature but only by will and good pleasure.
It is not the Nestorians or even Augustine or the Latins or the Protestants who begin with the concrete Biblical Person of Christ, but rather the Orthodox Fathers of the Church who alone understand fully well the identity between the Person of Christ the Logos and the Angel of Great Counsel and Lord of Glory Who appears to His friends in both the Old and New Testaments in His uncreated glory first without flesh and then in the flesh.
From this viewpoint it is not only the Johannine Logos but the Old Testament Logos-Angel and Lord of Glory from Whom the Fathers commence their formulations concerning the doctrines of the Holy Trinity and Christology and for that matter concerning all other doctrines of the Church likewise.
If Christ in the flesh had not revealed Himself in His natural and uncreated glory, thereby showing forth His absolute identity with the pre-incarnate Lord of Glory Who revealed Himself to the prophets, then it would be justifiable that Latin and Protestant scholars should begin and end their Christological research with parallel studies of the historical Jesus the man and of the early Church's teaching concerning the divine Logos or simply the divine in Jesus.
The greatest failure of Latin and Protestant Biblical scholarship is that on the one hand it has correctly abandoned the Augustinian or Franco-Latin type Trinitarian approach to interpreting the Old Testament, but it has incorrectly restricted its relating and associating Christ with the Old Testament to the study of the concept of the Messiah in the Old Testament. Thus the New Testament preexistent Christ has been on the whole unsuccessfully searched for in the Old Testament.
But, this the Fathers of the Church always knew, namely that the Messiah, as Messiah is not a preexistent supernatural being. It is not the Messiah as Messiah who preexists, nor can the Messiah as Messiah be ever called or be God. It is the Logos, Angel Lord of Glory and Wisdom of God Who preexists and Who became the Messiah or Christ by His birth in the flesh from the Theotokos. Both the Old and New Testaments clearly teach that the nature of the Messiah as Messiah is always created since the uncreated nature is not anointed but the source of anointing which anoints. Thus the Angel, Lord of Glory, Logos Wisdom of God, anointed Himself not in His divine nature but in His human nature by His birth as man from the Theotokos. The human nature of Christ is anointed not by grace but by nature since it is the very flesh of the Logos, Who is the source of anointing, glory, and deification. The very conception in the Virgin of the human nature of the Logos in which the Logos was born as a man is the anointing of the Logos in the flesh who thus became Christ, the Son of man.

f.  The divine presence in creation and the participation of creation in the divine glory.

From the experience of theosis or the vision of God the prophets, apostles, and saints know that there is no similarity whatsoever between the uncreated and the created. This means that the created beings are not copies of uncreated archetypes and forms. Creation is unique as creation per se as the uncreated is unique per se. This means that if universals do exist they do not in any case belong to the uncreated dimension of existence.
From the viewpoint of the divine presence and energy in creation, this means that God does not relate Himself as one general or genetic pattern in which the specific members of a genus participate as parts related to a whole. The experience of theosis reveals that the totality of God is related to each individual as individual regardless of whether this individual is a part or a specific or an individual member of a genus or species or similar or identical in nature with others. It is not a part of the divine that is related to part of creation, nor all of God related to all of creation. But, each Person of the Holy Trinity coinhering in the other divine Persons is in totality related to each created individual being.
Since this manner of the divine presence in creation has an exact parallel in the manner of the presence of the human nature of Christ in creation after His ascension and Pentecost and has an essential relation to the Church's doctrines of the Holy Trinity and Christology, it may be useful to quote an important passage from St. John of Damascus which summarizes the Biblical and Patristic Tradition on the subject.
"The dwelling (μονὴ) and foundation of the Hypostases are in each other. For they are inseparable and do not part from one another, having unconfusedly their coinherence (περιχώρησιν) in one another, without any coalescing, or being confused, but as containing each other. For the Son is in the Father and the Spirit, and the Spirit in the Father and the Son, and the Father in the Son and the Spirit, there being no coalescence or commingling or confusion. And, there is one and identical motion, for there is one leaping forth (ἔξαλμα) and one motion of the three Hypostases which is a thing impossible to be observed in any created creature".
St. John continues to discuss this one identical energy of the three Divine Hypostases as follows. "Further the divine effulgence and energy, being one and simple and indivisible, becoming benevolently varied in things divided and allotting to each the component parts of its own nature, remains simple. For it is multiplied undividedly in things divided and gathers and returns the divided toward its own simplicity. For all things long after it and have their existence in it. It also gives, as it has, to all things the being of nature, and it is itself the existence of existing things, the life of the living, the reason of the reasonable, the noetic energy (νóησις) of the noetically existing beings. But, it is itself above nous and reason and life and essence".
We conclude this first section of the first part of this paper with the remark that the writings of St. John of Damascus concerning the Holy Trinity and the Incarnation of the Logos are clearly of a schematic and non-speculative nature which sees the teaching of the Church as of a clear and simple nature and distinguishes from this teaching the mystery of the Holy Trinity and the Incarnation of the Logos, which are mysteries which will always remain inaccessible to human and angelic reasoning. It is quite obvious that if the divine effulgence and energy which is communicated to creatures and especially to man and the angels is above reason, above nous, above life and above essence, how much more so are the Divine Hypostases and the supraessential hiddenness and the Hypostatic union which are known only to the human nature of Christ and to no other creature?

2.  The Soteriological Background and Spirituality

a.  Christ, Adam, and the Saints.

It is important to emphasize that when dealing with the human nature of Christ and man generally within the context of original sin, salvation, and perfection, St. John of Damascus, together with the whole of Patristic tradition, does not begin with any philosophical analysis of natural or extrachurch or extrachrist man and from such an analysis construct a theology concerning the humanity and perfection of Christ and of man in general.
Rather at the center of St. John's anthropology and spirituality is the perfection of and in Christ as revealed in the Bible and in the lives of those who have reached and are reaching the threshold of theosis, or theoria, or vision of God. Natural man especially in his fallen state or state of imperfection cannot comprise the basis of theological anthropology and especially of Christology. Since the key is rather glorification and deification, one must begin from the vantage point of the Logos Incarnate Himself. But, the only possible key, which alone can open the doors of the mystery of this theosis and glorification approach to Christology, is the tradition of those Fathers of the Church who are known for their first-hand knowledge of the related subjects acquired not only by study of tradition, but also by personal experience of theosis.
St. John of Damascus clearly belongs to this tradition. Hence his great dependence on the spirituality of such Fathers as Maximus the Confessor, Sophronius of Jerusalem, Dionysios the Areopagite, Leontius of Byzantium, the Cappadocian Fathers, and the Alexandrian Fathers, especially Sts. Athanasius and Cyril.
It is not only the Old and New Testaments which clearly teach the fact that the Logos, Lord of Glory, Who is by nature God and consubstantial with the Father, became in truth flesh and was born in His Own proper and individual humanity from the Virgin Mary (Who is literally and in fact and in truth Theotokos or Mother of God) and Who thus became by nature man, and not only by an indwelling, and Who thus as Logos in the flesh Himself became consubstantial with us in His humanity. This truth is clearly revealed to all those who have reached theosis by which they learn from experience that Christ is the Logos and by nature God and by nature man and by nature the source of glory, communicating to His humanity the being the source of glory, whereby the very flesh of the Logos becomes source of our life and life-giving by virtue of its being the Logos Himself in the flesh and by virtue of the union and intercommunication of natural properties between the divine nature and the human nature of the Logos.
One of the most fundamental arguments of the Fathers against the Arians, Eunomeans and Macedonians is that the Logos and the Holy Spirit cannot be the givers and bestowers of life to the creatures unless they themselves are by nature source of Life together with the Father. That which participates by grace and not by nature in the life of the Father cannot be source of life to others.
This clearly means that, if Christ is not by nature God and if the humanity of Christ is not by nature but only by grace united to the Logos, then the human nature of Christ is not by nature life-giving and source of glorification and deification, and therefore the flesh of Christ does not give life to the faithful and does not deify the saints.
This, however, is not only contrary to the teaching of the Bible and the Tradition of the Fathers but clearly contrary to the experience of the faithful and the saints who have passed and are passing through the three general levels of perfection known as purification, illumination, and union, the latter of which is distinguished by ascending degrees between momentary brilliance or flash (ἔλλαμψις), vision (θέα) and continuous vision (διαρκἠς θέα) as in the case of Moses.
At this point, we must again emphasize that the prophets saw by grace the fleshless Christ in the uncreated glory of the Father and saw the Father only in the Logos—the unvarying and exact Image of God. Thus the prophets who saw and heard the Angel of Glory saw and heard God himself, there being no difference in essence and energy between the individual Person or Hypostasis of the Angel of Glory and the individual Person or Hypostasis of God, except that the One is the source of the existence of the Other and the bestower of His own essence and energy upon the Other that the Later may have them not by grace but by nature.
After the Incarnation of the Logos this very same pattern of revelation and glorification is repeated to the Apostles, except that now the Logos reveals Himself in the natural and uncreated glory of His common nature with the Father and the Holy Spirit through His own humanity which did not progress toward continuous vision of divine glory, but which was glorified and deified by its union not by grace but by nature with the Logos from the very inception of its coming into being in the womb of the Theotokos. Christ did not progress as a man to deification but was conceived as man deified, not by virtue of the union of saints with divine glory, but by virtue of a unique natural or hypostatic union with the divine nature and essence. Thus Christ even as man participates by nature in divine glory and is the natural source of this glory. The deification of prophets, apostles, and saints is union by grace with the natural glory and energy of the divine nature, but the deification of the human nature of the Logos is its hypostatic union with the Logos and the resultant union with the divine nature. All deified creature see and participate in divine glory. Only Christ because He is the Logos by nature sees and participates by nature in the divine essence.

b.  Anthropology and Perfection in Deification

From the viewpoint of traditional form and pattern, it would be normal to begin with St. John of Damascus' doctrine of original sin and the fall, and then treat of Incarnation, salvation and perfection. This would be the proper order if we had a total vision and understanding of the atmosphere and presuppositions of the spirituality within which St. John wrote and his intended readers read. One would think, for example, that St. John and the Fathers generally would have a definite and concrete understanding of the original condition of communion between God and Adam and Eve which would condition the Damascene's understanding of the later process leading to the Incarnation, the establishment of the Church, the mysteries, etc. Actually, St. John does give his opinion on the original condition of Adam and Eve in paradise, but he is aware of and describes the differing opinions on the subject, which have been handed down within the Church traditions. Actually, St John shows his own preference quite clearly, but he is not insistent nor does he really try to prove the correctness of his own point of view. One cannot help but feel that, in the long run, the details of this original condition are not the vital point in the doctrinal structure. This is clearly so because one does not begin with Adam but with Christ, the second Adam, Who is what Adam was supposed to have become had he not fallen. Again, the key to Christ Himself is, as we have already indicated, the prophets, apostles, and saints—in other words the very experience itself of deification.
Having this in mind we may begin our structuring of the framework of the Damascene's  presuppositions concerning the human nature of the Second Adam from his claim that "The wicked one, then made his assault from without, not by thoughts prompted inwardly, just as it was with Adam. For it was not by inward thoughts, but by the serpent, that Adam was assailed. But the Lord repulsed the assault and dispelled it like vapor, in order that the passions which assailed him and were overcome might be easily subdued by us, and that the new Adam should save the old." One should note the clear difference between this position, which is common to the Fathers, and that of Augustine.
That the assault on Adam and Christ should commence from outside of their human inward thoughts and not from within presupposes a spiritual state which is well known to the monastic tradition of the Fathers and a very definite and concrete anthropology and spirituality, which can be summarized along the following lines.
The spiritual states of pre-baptismal and baptismal purification from sin or captivity to the devil and his forces and baptismal and post-baptismal illumination presuppose that demonic assaults from outside have taken captive the inward thoughts (λογισμοὺς) of man and thus have allowed the passions and the extrahuman forces and energies of the devil and nature to hold man captive and thus separated from communion with God.
The reversal of this captivity takes place by a restoration of unceasing memory of God in the pinnacle of the soul's energies, called the nous, which is transformed from a captive and passive faculty, confused with outside energies of the passions and the intellect, into a purely active energy and force, completely dominated continuously and unceasingly by memory of God, while awake and while asleep and while functioning in normal ways within society, in such wise that the nous, thus illumined itself, dominates and illumines the intellect and passions, thus cleansing them from sin and especially defending them from the assaults of the devil and demonic forces.
Thus, one passes back and forth between the spiritual stages of purification and illumination by a constant warfare against the devil and an unceasing struggle by means of obedience to God, under the tutelage of a Spiritual master, to acquire the unceasing memory of God.
When this illumination of the nous and intellect begins becoming a consolidated and firm state, then self-love, selfishness, and self-centeredness are in stages replaced by the love which does not seek its own. When this stage is reached, then one has reached theoria and is on the threshold of theosis and by the will and grace of God may experience an ecstasy of the nous whereby the unceasing memory of God is unexpectedly replaced by theosis, to wit vision of God, first by a flash of the brilliance of Christ's glory, then by vision of this divine glory and finally, either on this side of the death of the body or beyond the grave, by continuous visions or vision of divine glory radiating from the human nature of Christ in oneself and in the saints.
For the correct understanding of Patristic spirituality and Christology as summarized in St. John of Damascus one must give due notice to the fact that the ecstasy or resurrection of the nous in the state of illumination with unceasing prayer or memory of God, as well as in the state of theoria, has nothing to do with the ecstasies of mystical philosophies and religions seeking the liberation of the soul from the body and its passions. Within the Orthodox Christian states of illumination and theoria the intellect, the memory, and the natural energies of the soul and body not only do not cease to function, but they are also purified, illumined, and deified. All of man participates in purification, illumination, and union, or theoria, or deification, or glorification, the last four names signifying the same revelatory and spiritual reality.
One must also take note of the fact that for the Fathers the scale of perfections is not divided between an either-or distinction between imperfect and perfect. Rather there is an ascending scale of perfection without end. Thus, purification is also a state of perfection together with illumination and theoria. And even within theoria, there is no end to the ascent to higher levels of perfection. This is the case not only with man, but also with the angels, a point which demonstrates clearly that the teachings of the Fathers, concerning perfection, has nothing to do with the Greek philosophers or with any philosophy.
Also it must be noted that this coexistence 1) between unceasing memory of God and the simultaneous occupation of the intellect with other normal activities or 2) between theoria and the simultaneous function of the intellect and memory whereby those in theoria once accustomed do not see only the uncreated glory radiating from Christ within them, but also see and are aware of everything around them in this same light (and especially radiating from Christ in others in the state of theoria) leads to a practical distinction between nous and logos in man and the angels. This distinction between, what I call in English, the noetic faculty or noetic energy of the soul and the rational energy of the soul does not exist in the Augustinian Latin and Protestant tradition, simply because the correct understanding of illumination and theosis does not exist, since the experience of theoria itself does not exist.
Nevertheless, the nous is not a constituent of human nature separate from the sentient or rational soul. The nous like the logos (reason) is an energy of the soul. The distinction is not of a metaphysical nature but simply a recognition of the spiritual experience and fact that man illumined or deified simultaneously is aware of his total communion with God and relation to his fellow men and all of creation, with his love and will and passions now cleansed, energizing in both directions toward and in God and toward his fellow men and creatures.
As we shall see below there can be no possibility that Christ passed through the levels of perfection of purification and illumination in order to reach theosis or theoria. There was no progress toward perfection in Christ since He had theosis or theoria or participation in the union of uncreated glory from the very conception of His human nature in the womb of the Theotokos, and this He had not by the grace of God but by nature, He Himself being by nature God and the very Hypostasis of the Logos, Who alone of the Holy Trinity became by nature man, uniting Himself with His own proper human nature with all its natural properties and will and energy common to human nature in general.
Rather, Christ manifested by degrees the levels of perfection in Himself that He may be an example to those on their way to perfection. Thus, He assumed everything that is common to human nature except sin, not by an outward docetic display to fool viewers of His human life, but in reality.
St. John of Damascus gives clear expression to this essential teaching of the Fathers. "Doubtless our natural passions were in Christ by nature and above nature. By nature on the one hand because they were moved in him, when he granted to the flesh to suffer those things which are proper to it; above nature on the other hand, since the natural things did not take precedence over the will in the Lord. For nothing compulsory is seen in him, but all are voluntary. For willingly He hungered, willingly He thirsted, willingly He lost courage, willingly He died."

c.  Anthropology and Original Sin

The above statements concerning the passions in Christ are, according to St. John of Damascus and the Fathers, natural and blameless and at the same time the result of the fall and original sin. "We confess then that He assumed all the natural and blameless passions of man. For He assumed the whole man and all things of man, except sin. For this (sin) is not natural nor is it implanted in us by the Creator, but is voluntarily results from a superficial planting in our will by the devil, not holding us by force. The natural and blameless passions then are those things which are not in our power, as many as entered into human life from condemnation due to the transgression, such as hunger, thirst, weariness, labor, tears, corruption, shrinking from death, timidity, the agony, from which the bloody sweat, the help from the angels because of the weakness of nature, and such things as exist in all men naturally."
Here one may think he detects a seeming contradiction. If these blameless passions are now natural to human nature and were by nature those of the human nature of the Logos then why should they not operated simply of themselves and apart from the act of the divine will of the Logos Who is represented by the Fathers as willing to hunger, thirst, fear and die and as not doing so by virtue of a natural inclination and property of His human nature. Latin and Protestant theologians tend to see here a denial of the reality of human nature in Christ and therefore a crypto-monophysitism as well as a crypto-aphthartodocetism of the type taught by Julian of Hallicarnassus. This is especially true in regard to the clear distinction the Fathers make between φθορἀ and διαφθορἀ, the first meaning simple corruption and the second corruption accompanied by dissolution and, in the case of the death of the body putrefaction, as set in the case of Lazarus, who began to smell. According to the Fathers, Christ tasted of the corruption of death by virtue of the separation of soul and body, but neither the soul nor the body of Christ was subject to dissolution, because the Logos remained hypostatically and naturally united to both His human soul and body in death and because He died willingly, death having no natural dominion over His human nature.
It seems that the key to the inability of Latin and Protestant theologians to understand the presuppositions of the Biblical and Patristic approach to Christology is complete absence in their theology of the Biblical understanding of glorification.
Latin and Protestant theologians since the beginnings of their Franco-Latin Augustinian tradition have approached the questions of this paper in terms of Augustinian and scholastic or Frankish approach to original sin, free will, grace, and such doctrines of atonement as appeared and prevailed from time to time, all of them having nothing really in common with the Western and Eastern Roman Fathers of the Church.
From the experience of Moses on Sinai and of the saints who like Moses had reached theoria before the death of the body, we know that during this experience of theosis the natural and blameless passions are suspended in such wise that there is no hunger, thirst weariness, fear, anxiety, and sleep. It is by this state of perfection that the devil is made most helpless if not completely helpless.
In Christ, this state of perfection was a natural one and not an acquired one. It is for this reason that His bout with the devil in the desert and His forty-day fast was not an acquisition by a manifestation of perfection and at the same time a real bout with the temptations not from within but from the devil.
It is only when one reaches the state of theoria or theosis that the prophet, apostle, and saint becomes a light and true guide and example for others and acquires a following of those with the grace enabling them to hear the voice of God in those who speak with the voice or grace of Christ.
In any case, the suspension of the natural and blameless passions during the experience of theoria or theosis or glorification is a clear witness to the state of perfection of human nature in the next world.
However, it is also the key to understanding the fact that the Logos Incarnate not only possesses the state of theoria by nature and not by grace but is Himself even as man the very natural source of theosis and glory. If some of the natural and blameless passions are suspended for those who by grace are in a temporary state of glorification, how much more so should these passions have no natural place in Christ Who is by nature deified as man and the source of glorification as man.
Thus one can see why it is a basic dogma of the Orthodox Church that the Logos as man wills to have and to participate in the natural and blameless human passions and does in truth participate in these, transforming them into the source of our salvation and the means by which we ourselves overcome the devil and pass through the stages of purification and illumination on our way to glorification. On the one hand these passions are a result of the fall yet at the same time they become by the glory of the Cross the source of our salvation and perfection and glorification and the means by which the devil is defeated and destroyed. Thus, the devil is paradoxically destroyed by means of the same passions by which he tries to destroy man. The most fundamental weapon by which the devil tries to destroy man is death, but by means of death, Christ and the saints destroy the devil.
It is from the above-described elements in the vantage point of the living tradition of glorification in the Logos-made-man as clearly witnessed to by the Bible and the writings of the Fathers that St. John of Damascus and the Fathers generally work their way backwards in history to the fist Adam and the fall. St. John is aware of two types of Patristic traditions in general, one which believes that Adam and Eve were in the state of theoria which is vision of God from which they fell, another which believes that they were in the state of theoria which is unceasing memory of God (on their way to theoria vision of God) from which they fell. The tradition, which includes theoria vision of God, the one that St. John accepts, believes that the divine paradise planted in "Eden" is both created and uncreated, since the first man's theoria of God Himself is the most important aspect of paradise. The other or second tradition, which St. John neither prefers nor rejects but on the contrary finds acceptable although not preferable, believes that the Biblical paradise of Eden is only created, there being as yet no theoria vision of God but only unceasing memory or thought of God, theoria by means of creation pointing to its Creator.
St. John of Damascus expresses his preference as follows: "Some, indeed, have imagined Paradise as sensible and others as noetic. Except it seems to me, that, just as man was created sensible and simultaneously noetic, in like many also his most holy temple (i.e. paradise) is sensible and simultaneously noetic, having this twofold expression: for man abides by means of the body in the most divine and superbeautiful place (Eden) as we recounted, whereas by means of the soul he passed his time in a superior and more beautiful place, having the indwelling God as a dwelling, and having Him as a glorious enveloping garment, and being robed in His grace, and delighting in the only most sweet fruit of His theoria, like some other angel, being also fed by this (theoria), which indeed has worthily been named also tree of life. For while life is not interrupted by death, the sweetness of divine participation is imparted to the recipients, which thing indeed God also called every tree, saying, "Of every tree in Paradise you may eat as food" (Gen. 2: 16). For He is the 'every', in Whom and by Whom everything is constituted."
At this point one is confronted with the question of how it is possible that man in a state of theoria or vision of God could fall. From the viewpoint of the Platonic tradition of Augustine and the scholastics, vision of God means sinlessness and impossibility of sinning. This is so because they imagine happiness, a state in which there is no desire to possess something better than the Summum Bonum, to be the destiny of man not only according to some philosophers but also according to the Bible. If man within this context of happiness has vision of God and while in this state falls, then either God is not capable of keeping man happy or else the nature of man is defective, somehow not wanting what he was created for. In both cases, God and not man would be the cause of the fall.
In regard to the Incarnate Logos, the fact that Christ by nature sees also as man the divine essence would mean within the context of happiness not only that he is by nature sinless, but also that it is impossible for Him as man to be really tempted with the possibility of sinning. Regardless of what the reality of the matter is, one could suspect that in such a case the humanity of Christ is not completely real or, at least, not that of the First Adam and his descendants.
But, the Fathers of the Church do not accept the reality of human perfection in theoria within the Platonic, Neoplatonic, or Augustinian context of happiness. Man's destiny is not the satisfaction of selfish desires for the possession of what makes one happy, but rather a transformation of self-seeking love or self-love (φιλαυτια) into love which does not seek its own. Thus, the progress toward perfection is without end in both this life and the next. This means that theoria in itself is not a guarantee against sin and fall in its early or lower stages. Thus, it is very possible without any imputation of imperfection to God or His creatures for the Devil, his angels, and man to fall from a state or lower stage of theoria. Thus since theoria in itself is not an impossibility for imperfection to arise, the reality of Christ's human nature is attested to as well as the assaults conducted against Him by the Devil and those cooperating with the Devil.
Also, it must be emphasized that the existence of stages of theoria does not mean that each lower than a higher stage is an imperfection or even a relative imperfection. The perfection is the same because the uncreated glory [that] is undividedly shared among and within the created participants is the same. Increase in perfection without end is an increase in receptiveness of more and more glory forever. However, since the love of the glorified ceased being possessive at the lower end of theoria, there is no question of more satisfaction as of yet unsatisfied desires, but rather there is the reality of the eternal and creative expansion of selfless love.
The lower stages of advance in theoria from which Adam seems to have fallen are described by St. John as follows: "On the other hand the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is the diagnosis of the many divisions of theoria, which is the knowledge of one's own nature, which is on the one hand good for those perfected and having reached divine theoria, of itself proclaiming the great work of God, and having no fear of falling, due to having acquired with time a certain habit of such theoria. But, it is not good for those still young and more greedy in appetite, on whom the care of their own body produces the drawing and pulling toward itself, by reason of the uncertainty of their remaining in the better part and of not yet being firmly established within the sitting next to the only good (καὶ μήπω παγίως ὲνεδρασθῆναι τῇ τοῦ μόνου καλοῦ προσεδριᾳ)."
The above elements of the Patristic tradition as expounded by St. John of Damascus must be put into the framework of the Patristic understanding of the inheritance of the original sin and fall of Adam and Eve. One must clearly avoid casting St. John's exposition of Christology into the framework of the Augustinian Latin and Protestant ideas on the same subjects.
Thus, we would sort out the following few but basic presuppositions in order to round out and terminate this section of this paper.
God, therefore, did not impose death on man as a punishment for any inherited guilt. Rather God allowed death because of His goodness and love so that sin and evil in man may not become immortal.
Whereas there can be no repentance and salvation in the form of deification for the devil and the fallen angels because they are incorporeal having been created within the dimension of the ages, there is repentance for man because of his corporeal nature, "for it is owing to the weakness of  his body that man comes to have repentance."
This means that man was assaulted by the devil from outside his human nature in such a way that he by his own free will, and not because he could not resist, accepted the transformation of his nous from the active state of being occupied only with theoria or unceasing memory of God, which active state illumed and sanctified his reason and body in such wise that he was thus being fed and sustained by God Himself, into a passive state accepting the replacement of theoria or unceasing memory of God with the invasion of cares for the body and material creation, thus separating himself from the source of life and theosis and thus bringing upon himself the opposite of life, which is death. By means of repentance and the always dependable aid from God, man is made capable of reversing his initial and even subsequent defeats by the devil and becoming finally victorious against the devil in the attainment of unceasing memory of God and theosis and the transformation of his self-love into the divine love which does not seek its own.
Unceasing memory of God and theoria and selfless love which transformed the prophets into friends of God are already in forceful operation before the Incarnation of the Logos. However, theoria and theosis before the Incarnation were of a temporary form and type of deification, although a reality, since even the friends of God were under the dominance of the sentence of death and upon the death of their bodies remained with their souls in Hades (state of death) together with all souls of all the dead. Both those who were to be resurrected and glorified by Christ and those who were to be finally damned remained in Hades together until the Incarnation, death and resurrection of Christ.
According to St. John of Damascus it is not only the divinity of the human soul of the Logos which destroyed the kingdom of the devil and resurrected the souls of the friends of God and of the repentant in Hades, but the divinity and glory of the body of Christ also which struck the devil as lightning, destroying him and his kingdom and thus liberating those who believe in Christ from his hold.
As the key to understanding the fall of Adam is his lack of obedience to God, not as sheer Will but as the Guide Who knows what man needs and must do to become perfect in theoria, so the obedience of Christ as man to the Father is both the destruction of the devil and the source of our salvation and glory. Christ "Who is like unto us becomes obedient to the Father and finds a remedy for our disobedience in what he had assumed from us, and became a pattern of obedience to us without which it is not possible to obtain salvation." Because of His obedience unto death, the death of Christ becomes the destruction of the devil and the source and power of our obedience and perfection in overcoming self-love itself founded upon the fear of death.


1.  The Christological Synthesis

Having in mind the Patristic doctrines of the Holy Trinity, Soteriology, and Spirituality, which serve as the framework of the St. John of Damascus, we can adequately understand the terminological expressions in which he clothes the reality of the Incarnation of the Logos.

1.  Τὸ ὰπρόσληπτον ἀθερἀπευτον.
Since the whole man, both body and soul, and all the faculties of the soul, including the nous and reason, fell in Adam, and all of humanity inherits this fallen condition, the whole of human nature is in need of cure, i.e. theoria or deification or glorification. Thus, the Logos became everything that man is by way of constitution and assumed everything that man has except sin.
The saying of St. Gregory the Theologian against the Apollinarian heresy τὀ ὰπρόσληπτον ἀθερἀπευτον—"that which is not assumed is not cured" is as expected a cornerstone of St. John's Christology.

2.  Τὸ ἐνυπόστατον.

As we have already seen in the first part of this paper, for St. John, as for the Patristic tradition generally, Christ is the concrete Old Testament Lord and Angel of Glory and of Great Counsel Who Himself is the Logos and Wisdom of God, Who became man or a complete man by His birth from the Theotokos, from whom He took His human nature.
St. John points out that this human nature of the Logos is not without a hypostasis or individuality (ἀνυπόστατον) nor is it a hypostasis or individual in independence or of itself (αὐθυπόστατον), but rather a complete human nature with all natural properties in the hypostasis or individuality of the Logos.
In other words, the Logos did not assume or unite Himself to an individual man or bring into existence an individual man simultaneously with His hypostatic union with the human nature born of the Theotokos. Rather the Hypostasis or Individuality of the Logos is the Hypostasis or Individuality Which Himself was born as man from the Theotokos and became thus Himself the Individual or Hypostasis anointed by nature in His humanity and thus is called Christ.
For St. John of Damascus neither the nature, or essence, nor the will and energy, nor the Three Hypostases of the Holy Trinity belong to any genus as species, since God and everything God has is unique with no parallel in creation.
Therefore, each divine Hypostasis is unique even though the only difference between the Three divine Persons is their hypostatic properties and manners of being. Even what They have in common, such as nature or essence, will, and energy, is also unique with no parallel in created natures.
The basic uniqueness of each divine Hypostasis is Its individuality, which clearly distinguishes It both from what is common to the Trinity and from the Individuality of the other. Two divine Hypostases.
In human beings, we have a similar uniqueness of individuality of persons or hypostases, but we do not have an identity of one nature, will, and energy in or among these individuals. Nature, will, energy, and hypostasis are together all individual and unique in individuals, although real similarity of nature among men as well as the interdependence of natures by birth and in their union in various physical and social structures, allows us to speak of a common human nature and even group psychology, habits, and actions. Yet there is no such thing as a human nature or essence or any created nature or essence without a hypostasis or individuality.
Thus even the created or human nature of Christ cannot and does not and never did exist without an hypostasis or individuality since the Hypostasis or Individuality of the Logos became and was at all times the Hypostasis or Individuality of the human nature, both body and soul, of the Logos.
Whether one claims that hypostasis, individuality, or person is either inseparable from or identical with essence and nature in creatures, the fact remains that they are inseparable but certainly not identical in the Holy Trinity. This is why we have not an Incarnation of the Divine Essence but only of the Logos and a union of Divine and human natures in the Logos.
On the other hand, at least in the unique Incarnation of the Logos, there is a distinction between the created nature and Hypostasis or Individuality since the Hypostasis or Individuality or Person of Christ is the uncreated Logos Himself. Otherwise Christ is One Person or One Hypostasis or One Individuality composed of Two Persons, Hypostases, or Individualities, which is the teaching of Diodore of Tarsus, Theodore of Mopsuestia, and Nestorius. The Person or Hypostasis of Christ is not uncreated and created, but only uncreated. Only the natures or essences of the Logos, the divine and human, are created and uncreated and the natural or essential attributes of wills and energies of Christ the Logos are created and uncreated.

3.  The difference between Incarnation or Hypostatic union of the logos with His proper humanity and the union of the created and uncreated natures, will, and energies of the Logos.

St. John of Damascus points out that the Logos "took on Himself our compound nature (φὐραμα) and this not subsisting (ποστἄσαν) of itself nor as being originally an individual, and in this way assumed by Him, but as existing in His Hypostasis. For the Hypostasis of God the Word became the Hypostasis of the flesh, and according to this, the Logos became flesh (John 1: 14), clearly without any change, and likewise the flesh became Logos without alteration, and God became man. For the Logos is God, and man is God, because of the Hypostatic union. Therefore, it is identical to say the nature of the Logos and the nature in the individual. For it (nature) signifies strictly and exclusively neither the individual, namely the Hypostasis, nor what is common to the Hypostases (of the Holy Trinity), but the common nature viewed and presented in one of the Hypostases. Union, then, is one thing, and incarnation is another thing. For union signifies only the conjunction (συνάφειαν), but not yet that with which the conjunction is effected. But, incarnation, which is identical with saying becoming man (ἐνανθρώπησις), signifies that the conjunction is with flesh, that is to say, with man, just as the heating of iron implies its union with fire."
These remarks are introductory to dealing with St. Cyril's famous phrase "One nature of God the Logos Incarnate." If the term nature here signifies the common nature of the Holy Trinity we would have an incarnation not of the Logos but of what is common to the Three Persons of the Trinity. St. John of Damascus proves that this is certainly not what St. Cyril teaches. At the same time, however, St. John does not accept the interpretation that "Nature of the Logos" means simple "Hypostasis of the Logos."
Because of the tremendous importance of this question, we quote in full on this question.
"Indeed, the blessed Cyril himself, when he is interpreting the phrase, one nature of God the Logos Incarnate, says in the second epistle to Succensus, and did not add the word "incarnate," but so to speak, quite excluded the dispensation (οἰκονομίαν), there would be some plausibility in the question they feign to ask, 'If one nature is the whole, where is the perfect in humanity? Or how did our essence (ή καθ' ήμᾶς οὺσία) come to subsist?' But, because the perfection in humanity and the disclosure of our essence is to be found by means of saying 'incarnate,' let them cease supporting themselves with a straw staff. Since here he placed the nature of the Logos upon nature. For if instead of hypostasis he meant nature, it would not have been absurd to have omitted saying the incarnate. For saying one Hypostasis of the Logos isolatedly (ἀπολύτως) we make no mistake. But also, in like manner, Leontius Byzantius understood the phrase concerning the nature, not instead of hypostasis (οὺκ ἀντὶ τῆς ύποστἁσεως). On the other hand, in the defense, which he wrote in reply to the accusations of Theodoret against the second anathema, the blessed Cyril says thus, 'The Nature of the Logos, namely the hypostasis, which is the Logos Himself.' So that 'the nature of the Logos' means neither the Hypostasis alone, nor what is common to the Hypostases, but the common nature viewed totally in the Hypostasis of the Logos."
St. John continues his remarks as follows: "That therefore then the nature of the Logos became flesh has been said. But, the nature of the Logos suffering in the flesh we have never heard up till now, but Christ suffering in the flesh we have been taught. So that 'the nature of the Logos' does not mean 'the hypostasis'." In other words, St. John is arguing that if "nature of the Logos" means simply "hypostasis of the Logos" then Cyril or some other Father would have spoken of the "nature of the Logos suffering in the flesh" as they speak of "the hypostasis of the Logos or the Logos or Christ suffering in the flesh."
St. John continues, "It remains, therefore, to say that to become flesh is to be united with flesh, while the Logos having become flesh means that the very Hypostasis of the Logos became without change the Hypostasis of the flesh. It has also been said that God became man, and man God. For the Logos being God became without change man. But that the Godhead (θεότης) became man, or became flesh, or put on manhood, we have never heard. But that the Godhead was united to humanity in one of Its Hypostases, we have learned. And that God becomes in form (μορφοῦται), namely becomes in essence (οὐσιοται), that which belongs to another (τὀ ἀλλότριον) namely that which belongs to us (τὀ καθ' ήθᾱς), has been said. For the name of God is applicable to each of the Hypostases, but we cannot say Godhead in reference to Hypostasis. For we are never told that the Godhead signifies nature, while Father signifies Hypostasis, as humanity signifies nature and Peter hypostasis. But, God also means what is common of the nature, and is applicable in a different sense (παρωνὐμως) to each of the Hypostases, as also is the case with the maim man. For God is He Who has divine nature, and man who has human. Concerning all this it is to be noted that the Father and the Holy Spirit in no way communicate in the Incarnation of the Logos except in relation to the miracles and according to good will and to volition."
The foundation of this statement is the fact that the Three Hypostases are radically incommunicable with each other in regard to hypostatic properties even though They coninhere in each other and have one common and identical essence, will and energy.
Thus, we have an Incarnation only of the Logos, a coinhering of the Hypostases, and a union of the divine and human natures, wills, and energies without division, separation, change, and confusion.
This also means that the uncreated common nature or essence and energy and will of the Holy Trinity is that united to the human nature of the Logos, whereas the human nature, will and energy of the Logos is that only of the Logos although united to what is common to the Three Divine Hypostases. Thus the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit will and act by means of Their identically one uncreated will and energy, whereas, the Logos alone acts and wills and suffers as man. This means that Christ the Logos as man acts and wills together with the Father and the Holy Spirit with the one identical uncreated will and energy of the Holy Trinity. He has as God and simultaneously acts and wills alone as man by means of His created will and energy.

4.  One Hypostasis of the Logos Compound.

In order to understand the framework of St. John's Christological terminology one must have in mind the manner in which the Fathers divided the names applied to the Logos signifying on the one hand the uncreated nature of the Logos by means of His natural uncreated energies of acts and on the other hand His created human nature by means of His created energies and acts.
As we saw in the first part of this paper, the Arians and Eunomeans attempted to prove the createdness of the Logos by predicating human or created energies and acts not to the humanity of the Logos but to His pre-existent nature.
Of all the Fathers the Great Athanasius carefully and methodically proved that the human and creaturely acts of the Logos must be predicated on the humanity of the Logos and that the divine and uncreated will, power, and energy of the Logos, which He has by nature, is identical with that of the Father and the Holy Spirit.
The whole argumentative process developed by the Fathers against the Trinitarian heretics was based on a clear distinction between the created human nature, will, and energy in Christ and His uncreated nature, will, and energy, which He held by nature in common with the Father and the Holy Spirit.
Besides such basic axioms, the Fathers also insisted against the Docetists from the first century that there can be no energy that is not the natural energy of an individual nature or hypostasis. Nor can there be a nature, essence, or hypostasis without its natural energy. Thus, the phantasies of mythological phantoms and theories were replaced by Orthodox Christian realism. Thus, the human energies of Christ must mean that He is a real man and not simply the appearance of a man. At the same time the revelation of His natural and uncreated glory, energy, and will must be the revelation of the reality of His divine nature, and not simply of fantastic miracles common to pagan mythology.
By His Incarnation the Logos Who by nature is homoousios with the Father became by nature also homoousios with us so that Christ the Logos is both by nature God and by nature man. As God, He has become man by nature, and as man, He has always been, since his conception in the womb of the Theotokos, God by nature.
According to St. John of Damascus this means that "the Hypostasis of the Logos, which was formerly simple, became compound, compounded, indeed from two perfect natures (καἰ σύνθετον γενέσθαι τἠν πρότερον άπλῆν οὐσαν τοῦ λὀγου φὐσιν σύνθετον δὲ ἐκ δύο τελείων φὐσεων), of divinity and humanity, and bearing the characteristic and distinctive property of the divine Sonship of God the Logos according to which He is distinguished from the Father and the Spirit, and also the characteristic and distinctive properties of the flesh, according to which He differs from both the Mother and the rest of men, but bearing the properties of the divine nature, according to which He is united to the Father and the Spirit, and the marks of the human nature, according to which He is united to the Mother and to us. And further, He differs from the Father, the Spirit, the Mother, and us in being at once God and man. For this we know to be the most special property of the Hypostasis of Christ."
Having in mind that essence and nature in the Trinity are what is common to the Three Hypostases, whereas the Hypostases Themselves are incommunicable and absolutely individual as Hypostases, St. John rejects as heresy the idea that the Incarnation of the Logos could result in one compound nature or essence. Only the Hypostasis of the Logos is "compound from two perfect natures."
St. John argues that, "If, therefore, according to the heretics, Christ after the union was of one compound nature, He was changed from simple nature to a compound, and He is homoousios neither with His Father, Who is of a simple nature, nor with the Mother. For she is not compounded from divinity and humanity. Not indeed is He in divinity and humanity. He will be named then neither God, nor man, but only Christ. And, the word Christ will be the name not of the hypostasis, but of what for them is one nature… For we confess the Same One (τὸν αὐτὸν) both being and said to be from divinity and humanity perfect God, both from and in two natures (ἐκ δύο τε καὶ ἐν δυσ φύσεσιν). Further, we say Christ is the name of Hypostasis, not said as of one kind (μονοτρὀπως), but as signifying the existence of two natures. For He anointed Himself, on the one hand anointing as God the body with His divinity and in the other hand being anointed as man. For He is this and that. The anointer then of the humanity is the divinity. For if Christ being of one compound nature is homoousios with the Father, the Father will thus also be compound, and homoousios with the flesh, which is absurd and full of all blasphemy. How, indeed, could one and the same nature become receptive of essential opposing differences? For how is it possible that the same nature is at once created and uncreated, mortal and immortal, circumscribed and uncircumscribed...? And, when can Christ be said to be of two natures, if they hold that He is of one composite nature after the union? For it is surely clear to everyone that before the union Christ was of one nature. But, this is what makes the heretics stray, namely that they say nature and hypostasis are identical. For when we speak of the nature of man as one, it is to be understood that in saying this we are not looking to the question of soul and body. For it is impossible to say that the soul and the body are of one nature when compared with each other. But, because there are many hypostases of men, all then are receptive of the same reason of nature. For all are composed of soul and body, and all participate in the nature of the soul and all possess the essence of the body, and the common form. Of these very many and different hypostases we say one nature; each hypostasis, to wit, having two natures, and existing in the two natures, of the soul I say, and of the body. But, a common form cannot be admitted in the case of our Lord Jesus Christ. For neither was there ever, nor is there, nor will there ever be another Christ from both divinity and humanity, in divinity and humanity, the Same One, perfect God and perfect man. And thus in the case of our Lord Jesus Christ, we cannot speak of one nature constituted of divinity and humanity, as we do in the case of the individual (ώσπερ ἐπί τοῡ άρόμου) constituted of soul and body. For in the latter case we have to do with an individual, but Christ is not an individual. For neither does He have predicable form of Christlihood. And, therefore, we say that the union was accomplished from two perfect natures, both divine and human, not by mixture, or confusion, or intermixture, or commingling… nor by a personal or relative union or a union according to worthiness, or identity of will, or of the same honor, or the same name, or of good pleasure… but according to synthesis, that is according to hypostasis, without change, or confusion, or alteration, or division, or separation, and we confess in two natures perfectly having one hypostasis of the Son of God, and (of Him) Incarnate, saying He has one Hypostasis of the divinity and of the humanity, confessing that both the natures are preserved in Him after the union, not placing each in isolation and apart, but united to each other in one compound Hypostasis. For "we call the union essential, that is true, and not imaginary. However, essential not as though the two natures resulted in one compound nature, but as in truth united to each other in one compound Hypostasis of the Son of God, and we delimite[?] that their essential difference is preserved. For the created remained created and the uncreated, uncreated. The mortal remained mortal and the immortal, immortal; the circumscribed, circumscribed; the uncircumscribed, uncircumscribed; the visible, visible; the invisible, invisible. 'The one shines brilliantly with miracles, while the other falls under insults.' (Pope Leo, Letter 10, 4)."

5.  The Intercommunication of Properties

"The Logos, moreover, makes His Own the things human, for the things being of His holy flesh are His, and He transmits of His Own to the flesh, according to the manner of intercommunication, due to the coinhering of the parts in each other (διἀ τὴν εἰς ᾶλληλα των μερων περιχώρησιν), and to the union according to Hypostasis, and because He was One and the Same Who energizes both the divine and the human in each form with the communion of the other. Hence indeed, it is said that the Lord of Glory was crucified, even though His divine nature did not suffer, and it is confessed that the Son of Man is in heaven before the passion, as the Lord Himself said. For the Lord of Glory is One and the Same with Him Who is by nature and in truth the Son of Man, that is, Who became man, and both His miracles and his sufferings are known to us, although His worked miracles by one thing (κατᾶλλο)."
At this point St. John is referring to the distinctions made by St. Gregory the Theologian who points out that in Christ we do not have an ᾶλλος and another ᾶλλος but εῐς. When, however, we say by what the Logos worked miracles and suffered then we distinguish in Christ an ᾶλλο and another ᾶλλο, the one uncreated by which He performed miracles and the one by which He suffered.
St. John continues, "For we know that, just as His one Hypostasis, so also the essential difference of the natures is preserved. For how could difference be preserved if the very things that differ from one another are not preserved? In so far as Christ's natures differ from one another, that is, by reason of essence, we hold that Christ unites in Himself two extremes, in regard to this divinity He is united with the Father and the Spirit, while in regard to His humanity He is united with His mother and all men. And in so far as His natures are united, we hold that he differs from the Father and the Spirit on the one hand, and from the mother and the rest of men on the other."
St. John concludes his remarks on the intercommunication of properties as follows "…seeing that we recognize that He has two natures but only one Hypostasis compounded of both, when we contemplate His natures we speak of His divinity and His humanity, but when we contemplate the hypostasis compounded of the natures we sometimes for both together use the name Christ, and God and Man and God incarnate as identical, but sometimes for but one of the parts, only God, and Son of God, and only man, and Son of Man; and then sometimes for only the sublime ones, yet sometimes only for the humble ones, for His is One Who likewise is both that and this, for one is eternally without cause from the Father, the other later became because of love of man (τὀ μὲν ών ἀεὶ ἀναιτἰως ἐκ Πατρός, τὀ δἐ γενὀμενος ῦστερον διὰ φιλανθρωπἰαν)."
It is to be noted that τὀ ὢν here is a technical Patristic term taken from what the Angel of the Lord told Moses from the burning bush, "I am He Who is," which the Fathers used against the Arians and Eunomeans to prove that the Logos Who said this is the uncreated and exact Image of the Father and for this reason this title ό ὢν appears always within the wreath of light surrounding the head of Christ in the Holy Icons. In order to avoid the consequences of this interpretive tradition the Arians and Eunomeans argued that the voice, which said these words, was that of the Father Who meant them only for Himself, and not for the Angel in the bush, Who they admitted was the Logos, since this was the traditional interpretation.
St. John continues, "Therefore, then saying divinity we do not attribute to it the names of human properties. For we do not say passive or created divinity. Neither then do we attribute to the flesh, that is, to the humanity the properties of divinity, for we do not say flesh, that is, humanity uncreated. But, concerning the Hypostasis, whether we name it from both together or from one of the parts, we place upon it (the Hypostasis) the predicates of both natures. For Christ, Which Is that which is both, is called both God and man, and created and uncreated, and passive and passionless (or capable of suffering and incapable of suffering). And when from one of the parts He is named Son of God and God, He accepts the properties of the co-existing nature, that is, of the flesh, being named suffering God and Lord of Glory crucified, the Same One, not as God, but as also man. And, when He is named man and Son of man, He accepts the properties and superiorities of the divine nature, child before the ages, man without beginning, not as child and man, but as God being before the ages having become toward the last things a child. And, this is the manner of the intercommunication, each nature intercommunicating those things which belong to itself to the other because of the identity of the Hypostasis and of the coinhering (or interpenetration—περιχώρησιν) of them (the natures) in each other. Accordingly we can say of Christ, 'This, our God, was seen upon the earth and lived among men', and 'This man is uncreated and impassible and uncircumscribed'."

6.  That in the Hypostasis of the Logos the whole divine nature is united to the whole human nature of the Logos and not part to part.

St. John of Damascus points out that essence is common as form, whereas hypostasis is particular. Hypostasis is not particular as having part of its nature and not the rest, but is particular in a numerical sense only as being an individual. "For it is not in number and not in nature that the difference between hypostases is said to lie. Essence, therefore, is predicated of hypostasis, because in each hypostasis of the same species the essence is perfect. Wherefore hypostases do not differ from each other in essence but in the accidents which indeed are the characteristic properties, but characteristic of hypostasis and not of nature. For indeed they (the properties) define hypostasis as essence along with accidents. So that the hypostasis has the common together with the particular and the existing independently. For essence does not subsist independently, but is seen in the hypostases. Accordingly, when one of the hypostases suffers, the whole essence being capable of suffering, according to which essence the hypostasis suffered, is said to suffer in one of its hypostases. But it does not necessarily follow, however, that all the hypostases of the same kind should suffer along with the suffering hypostasis."
It must be remembered that the Fathers condemn as heresy the Platonic doctrine of ideas or universals and in contrast to Aristotle give dominant priority to the individual hypostases as over against essence and nature. Thus, in the place of the Aristotelian prime matter with which forms unite for the production of individuals of a species the Fathers put the nothing out of which God by His will, and not out of His will or thought, created individual hypostases with particular properties and similarities with other hypostases of the same kind. But, each hypostasis possesses the whole and not part of its own essence or nature. That this is so is clear from both the doctrine of the Holy Trinity and the Biblical and Patristic understanding of man and especially of humanity in Christ.
St. John gives clear expression to the above principles as follows. "Thus, therefore, we confess that the nature of the divinity is wholly and perfectly in each of its Hypostases, wholly in the Father, wholly in the Son, and wholly in the Holy Spirit. Wherefore also the Father is perfect God, the Son is perfect God, and the Holy Spirit is perfect God. In like manner, too, in the Incarnation of the One God Logos of the Holy Trinity, we say that the whole and perfect nature of divinity united with the whole human nature in One of Its Hypostases, and not part with part. The divine Apostle in truth says that 'in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the divinity bodily' (Col. 2:9), that is to say, in His flesh. And, His divinely-inspired disciple, Dionysius, who had so deep a knowledge of things divine, said that the divinity as a whole communicated with us in one of its own Hypostases (On Divine Names 2). But, we are not forced to say that all the Hypostases of the holy divinity, that is, the Three were united hypostatically with all the hypostases of humanity. For by no manner did that Father and the Holy Spirit participate in the Incarnation of the Logos of God, except by will and good pleasure. We say then that the whole essence of divinity united to the whole of human nature. For God the Logos omitted nothing of what he implanted in our nature, having formed us from the beginning, but assumed everything: body, noetic and rational soul, and the properties of these. For the living thing (ζῶον—animal) that lacks one of these is not man. For the Whole of Him assumed the whole of me, and the Whole united to the whole, in order to grant salvation as a gift to the whole. For that which is not assumed, is not cured."
St. John goes on to discuss how the noetic faculty of Christ of the Logos in the flesh is the seat of the divinity united to it hypostatically, which is the case with the body also. The Logos is not a co-dweller (σύνοικον) with the nous of the soul and body but the Hypostasis of the body and the soul with all their natural properties and energies. Those who say that the Logos is a co-dweller because one bushel cannot contain two bushels are judging what is immaterial by what is material. "How indeed could Christ be called perfect God and perfect man, and be said to be homoousios with the Father and us, if only part of the divine nature is united in Him to part of the human nature?"
Having treated of the several above enumerated sections we note the following observation of the Damascene: "although we hold that the natures of the Lord permeate one another, yet we know that the permeation springs from the divine nature. For it is that that penetrates and permeates all things, as it wills, while nothing penetrates it; and it imparts to the flesh its proper superiorities, while itself remaining impassible, and without participation in the sufferings of the flesh. For if the sun imparts to us its energies and yet does not participate in ours, how much the more must this be true of the Creator and Lord of the Sun?"
Also, St. John rejects the idea that the natures of the Lord could be brought under the category of continuous quantity since they are "neither one body nor one superficies (ἐπιφάνεια), nor one line, nor time, nor place… (which) are the things that are reckoned continuously." Also, the natures of Christ are not enumerated according to Hypostasis since enumeration applies only to things that differ. "The natures of the Lord, then, are united without confusion hypostatically and they are divided without division by reason and by manner of the difference. And, that by which they are united, they are not enumerated. For we do not say that the natures of Christ are two according to Hypostasis. But, that manner by which without division they are divided they are numbered. For the natures of Christ are two by reason and by manner of the difference. For united according to Hypostasis and having the interpenetration in each other they are without confusion united, each preserving its proper natural difference. Therefore being enumerated by the manner of difference and by this alone, they are to be brought under the discontinuous quantity."

7.  The Properties of the two Natures.

"Confessing, then, the Same Jesus Christ, our Lord, to be perfect God and perfect man, we hold that the Same has all that the Father has except that of being unbegotten, and all that the first Adam has, except only sin, these being the body and the intelligent and rational soul: and further that He has two sets of things natural corresponding to the two natures, two natural wills, both the divine and the human, and two natural energies, both divine and human, and two natural free-wills, both divine and human, and both wisdom and knowledge, both divine and human. For being homoousios with God the Father, He wills and energizes by free will as God. Then, being homoousios with us also, the Same One wills and energizes as man by free will. For His are the miracles and His are the sufferings."
"…Because the Hypostasis of His two natures is One, we say that One and the Same both wills and energizes naturally according to both the natures from which and in which and which Christ our God is, willing and energizing not dividedly but unitedly. For He wills and energizes in each form with the communion of the other (form). For Those Whose essence is (numerically) the same, Their will and energy is also (numerically) the same. But, those whose essence is different, their will and energy is also different. And vice versa, Those Whose will and energy is (numerically) the same, Their essence is also (numerically) the same. Those whose will and energy is different, their essence is different."
These are the axioms which were very clearly brought out in controversy against the Arians, Eunomeans, and Macedonians and already applied to the humanity of Christ also especially against Arians.
"Wherefore," continues St. John, "in the case of the Father and Son and Holy Spirit we recognize from their identity of both will and energy, their identity of nature. But, in the case of the divine dispensation, we recognize from the difference of energies and of wills the difference of the natures, and seeing the difference of natures, we simultaneously confess also the difference of the wills and of the energies. For just as the number of the natures of the One and Same Christ, when understood and spoken of piously, does not divide the One Christ, but shows forth the difference of the natures preserved in the union, so it is with the number of the wills and energies which are essential attributes of His natures. For in both the natures He is the One Who wills and energizes for the sake of our salvation. It does not introduce division. Let it not be! But shows forth their safeguard and preservation even in the union and nothing else. For we call the wills and energies natural and not hypostatic. I mean the willing and energizing power by which He wills and energizes both the things willing and energizing. For if we consider the hypostatic, we will be forced to say that the Three Hypostases have different wills and different energies." In other words, the divine will and energy do not belong to the reality of Hypostatic properties of the Three Persons, since these are incommunicable and different in each divine Person and each such property belongs only to One Person. It is a basic and fundamental dogma of the Fathers and the Ecumenical Councils that the will and energy of God belongs to what is common to the Three Hypostases being the natural manifestations and powers of the common divine essence.
This means clearly that the divine will and energy of Christ is not a Hypostatic will and energy, but the identically one and common energy and will of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This also means that the created will and energy of the Logos cannot be Hypostatic either, since they are united hypostatically to the Hypostasis of the Logos and naturally or by nature to the divine nature alone with the whole human nature of which they (the human will and energy) are an integral and natural part. In Christ there is no created Hypostasis or Individuality or individual man apart from (or even merely mentally distinct from) the Logos which could allow the created will and energy of Christ to be identified with this hypostasis rather than with the assumed created nature. The Logos Himself is the human Hypostasis and Individuality in Christ Who wills and energizes as God with the identically same natural will and energy of the Father and the Holy Spirit, but He wills and energizes also as man not by means of His uncreated nature or Hypostasis but by means of what He assumed from the Theotokos. The Logos wills and energizes as God and as man and never as a Hypostasis in isolation from the Father and Holy Spirit or from the created nature with its created will and energy, which He assumed. Just as the Logos was born from the Theotokos, tempted externally by the Devil, suffered, died, and was resurrected not in and by means of His uncreated Hypostasis or nature but indeed in and by means of His own proper humanity being an individual by reason of His own Hypostatic individuality and not by reason of some non-existent assumed individual man or another hypostasis, so in like manner the Logos wills and energizes as man by means of His created will and energy and not in and by means of His uncreated Hypostasis. As it is the Logos or the Hypostasis of the Logos Who died in the flesh or by means of His flesh and not by means of His Hypostasis or uncreated nature, so it is the Hypostasis of the Logos which wills and energizes as man in and by means of His flesh or His own proper humanity.

 From Ekklesiastikos Pharos 58 (1976), pp. 232-269.