Difference between revisions of "Miaphysitism"

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'''Miaphysitism''' (sometimes called '''henophysitism''') is the [[christology]] of the [[Oriental Orthodox]] Churches.  Miaphysitism holds that in the one person of [[Jesus]] [[Christ]], Divinity and Humanity are united in one "nature" ("[[physis]]"), the two being united without separation, without confusion, and without alteration.
Miaphysitism has often been considered by [[Chalcedonian]] Christians to be a form of [[monophysitism]], but the Oriental Orthodox Churches themselves reject this characterization, a position which the [[Eastern Orthodox]] and [[Roman Catholic]] Churches have begun to take more seriously. 
The term "miaphysitism" arose as a response to [[Nestorianism]]. As Nestorianism had its roots in the [[Antiochene]] tradition and was opposed by the [[Alexandrian]] tradition, Christians in Syria and Egypt who wanted to distance themselves from the extremes of Nestorianism and wished to uphold the integrity of their theological position adopted this term to express their position.
The theology of miaphysitism is based on an understanding of the nature (Greek φύσις ''physis'') of [[Christ]]: divine and human. After steering between the [[heresy|heresies]] of [[docetism]] (that Christ only appeared to be human) and [[adoptionism]] (that Christ was a man chosen by God), the Church began to explore the mystery of Christ's nature further. Having agreed that Christ is both divine and human, the first difficulty was Nestorianism, which was perceived as stressing the two natures of Christ to such an extent that it appeared, to opponents, that two persons were living in the same body. Nestorianism taught that Christ's humanity but not His divinity was born of the Virgin Mary.
The reaction to this was [[monophysitism]], which stressed that Christ has but one single nature where the divine consumed the human as the ocean consumes a drop of vinegar. This was called [[Eutychianism]]. Both of these positions were seen as heretical, but the church remained divided on how best to formulate a response to these. [[Cyril of Alexandria]]'s works were the basis of the stance of miaphysitism. He spoke of the "one (''mia'') nature of the Word of God incarnate" (μία φύσις τοῦ θεοῦ λόγου σεσαρκωμένη ''mia physis tou theou logou sesarkōmenē'') and a "union according to ''[[hypostasis]]''" (ἕνωσις καθ' ὑπόστασιν ''henōsis kath' hypostasin''), or [[hypostatic union]]. The distinction of this stance was that the incarnate Christ has one nature, but that nature is ''of the two natures,'' divine and human, and retains all the characteristics of both. However, opponents of those who took this stance regarded it as nothing more than [[monophysitism]]. The alternative response, which eventually became Byzantine [[dogma]], was [[dyophysitism]]. This states that Christ has two natures, but emphasizes that they are not separated: Christ is fully one person (ὑπόστασις ''hypostasis''). The miaphysites regarded this as verging on [[Nestorianism]].
The [[Council of Chalcedon]] (451) is often seen as a watershed for [[Christology]], as it adopted [[dyophysitism]]. However, as large portions of the Church in Syria and Egypt, who held to miaphysitism, rejected the decision, the controversy became a major socio-political problem for the [[Byzantine Empire]]. There were numerous attempts at reunion between the two camps (including the [[Henoticon]] in 482), and the balance of power shifted several times. However, the decision at Chalcedon remains the official teaching of the [[Eastern Orthodox Church]], the [[Roman Catholic Church]] and traditional [[Protestants]]. The non-Chalcedonian Orthodox Churches are usually grouped together as [[Oriental Orthodoxy|Oriental Orthodox]]. Over recent decades, leaders of the various branches of the Church have spoken about the differences between their respective christologies as not being as extreme as was traditionally held.
Much has been said about the difficulties in understanding the Greek technical terms used in these controversies. The main words are ''ousia'' (οὐσία, 'essence'), ''physis'' (φύσις, 'nature'), ''hypostasis'' (ὑπόστασις, 'concrete reality/person') and ''prosopon'' (πρόσωπον, 'mask/person'). Even in Greek, their meanings can overlap somewhat. These difficulties became even more exaggerated when these technical terms were translated into other languages. In Syriac, ''physis'' was translated as ''kyānâ'' (<span dir="rtl">ܟܝܢܐ</span>) and ''hypostasis'' was ''qnômâ'' (<span dir="rtl">ܩܢܘܡܐ</span>). The shades of meaning are even more blurred between these words, and they could not be used in such a philosophical way as their Greek counterparts. Hence, some have suggested that miaphysitism came about due to a grounding of language in the fact that someone's person and nature are a verisimilitude.
==Miaphysite churches==
As stated, the Churches of the [[Oriental Orthodox]] Communion, while sometimes called monophysite, vehemently reject that label.  These include the [[Armenian Apostolic Church]], the [[Syrian Orthodox Church]], the [[Indian Orthodox Church]], the [[Coptic Christianity|Coptic Orthodox Church]] (including the British Orthodox Church which is under the Patriarch of Alexandria), the [[Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church]] (''tewahido'' is a Ge'ez word meaning 'being made one') and the newly [[autocephaly|autocephalous]] [[Eritrean Orthodox Church]].
One or more of the [[Independent Catholic Churches]], while not being in full communion with the above Churches for various reasons, also embrace this Christology.  These include the [[Antiochian Catholic Church in America]].  In recent theological discourses, some [[Old Catholic Church|Old-Catholic]] and [[Anglicanism|Anglican]] theologians have begun to embrace this Christology as being consistent with, though different from, the Chalcedon formulation.
*[[w:Miaphysitism|''Miaphysitism'' at Wikipedia]]
==External links==
*[http://www.orthodoxwiki.org/Category:Coptic_interpretations_of_the_Fourth_Ecumenical_Council Coptic interpretations of the Fourth Ecumenical Council]
*[http://www.copticchurch.org/Texts/Spirituals/Natofchr.pdf Pope Shenouda III: The Nature of Christ (PDF)]
*[http://www.eotc.faithweb.com/orth.html#DOCTRINES Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church]
*[http://www.britishorthodox.org/2church.php Agreed Statements between representatives of the Oriental and Eastern Orthodox Churches]
*[http://sor.cua.edu/Ecumenism/RC.html Joint declarations between the Syriac Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches]
*[http://sor.cua.edu Syriac Orthodox Resources]
[[Category:Oriental Orthodox]]

Revision as of 10:40, June 10, 2008