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The Hypostatic Union of the Divine and Human Natures in Jesus Christ

The doctrine of the hypostatic union of Jesus Christ was declared on the ecumenical councils: the Third Ecumenical Council of Ephesus (against Nestorianism), the Fourth Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon (against Eutychianism), and the Sixth Ecumenical Council of Constantinople (against Monophysiticism).

In 431 the Council of Ephesus affirmed the doctrine of Cyril, Archbishop of Alexandria, stating that “there are two distinct natures - human and divine - in Lord Jesus Christ; and together they are united in one subsistence and in one single person”.

In 451 the Fourth Ecumenical Council split the Christian Church and widened the gap between the Armenian and Byzantine Churches, which had cooperated before that.

In the beginning of the sixth century the Armenian Church rejected the theological point of view of the Fourth Ecumenical Council. In turn, the Christian Churches deprecated the Armenian Church and accused it of teaching the heresy of Monophysiticism. As a result, the Armenian Church together with the Ecumenical Council condemned the Monophysiticism teaching. Its defender Dioscorus, the Patriarch of Alexandria, was removed from his Episcopal see.

According to the New Testament, the Holy Virgin Mary gave birth to the Divine Logos that took on a perfect manhood. That’s why the Church rejected Docetism (heretical Christian teaching stating that the physical body of Jesus Christ was just an illusion) and the Arian teaching (ancient heretical Christian teaching stating that Jesus Christ was created by God the Father and is therefore a subordinate entity to God the Father), and affirmed the doctrine about the true incarnation of Jesus Christ and His Divinity. However, it was not totally clear whether His Divinity and His Humanity are united or they are independent and don’t influence each other.

The representatives of different theological schools had different points of view on that question. The representatives of the Church of Alexandria with their leader Archbishop St. Cyril considered that “two natures, divine and human, are united in one single person of Jesus, but after their unity we cannot talk about two natures, that’s why we believe in One Nature united out of two" (PG 72, 192-193, Epist. 40).

The representatives of the Antiochian theological teaching insisted that the Divinity and the Humanity are two opposites, and that they cannot be united in One Nature. In 431 the Third Ecumenical Council anathematized the doctrine of this school and its representative Nestorius for believing in two separate natures of Jesus Christ and for rejecting of the long-used title "Mother of God" for the Holy Virgin Mary.

The doctrine of the Armenian Church concerning the question of the hypostatic union in the single person was finally formed by St. Nerses Shnorhali: “We believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of God the Father… who was born by the Holy Virgin Mary … and took our sinful and perishable nature from Her: soul, mind and body… He united His Humanity with His Divinity in One without mingling, confusion or alteration… We preach that there are two natures united in one single person and that in their hypostatic union none of them is lost”.


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