The assembly of bishops in 612 AD is considered to be the “Nestorianization” of the Church of the East, i.e. the application of the two-qnomē (two hypostases) concept in its Christological doctrine. It is usually said that the first to apply such a doctrine in that church was Babai the Great (†628) in his Liber de Unione , interpreting the Liber Heraclides of Nestorius . It is notable, however, that some Greek Chalcedonian authors, such as Leontius of Byzantium (†543) and Leontius of Jerusalem (†probably the end of the 6th century), and Syrian Jacobite authors, such as Philoxenus of Mabbug (†523) and Jacob of Serugh (†521) wrote against groups of “Nestorians”, the formers against Greeks and the latters against Syrians, claiming that these Greek and Syriac speaking groups used the two-ὑποστάσεις and two-qnomē, or/and two-πρόσωπα and two-parṣopē formula in their Christological doctrine. Two of these authors, namely Leontius of Jerusalem and Philoxenus of Mabbug, saved for us, through citations in their works, some parts of Nestorian works in Greek and in Syriac . It is not surprising to know of the existence of Nestorian works in Greek, since Nestorius himself, as well as “Ps.-Nestorius” wrote in Greek, and these works, along with those of Theodore of Mopsuestia, became sources for the Greek speaking Nestorians. The surprise is to discover that probably before the translation of Nestorius into Syriac occurred in 539/540 , and before the spread of Nestorius and Ps.-Nestorius’ thought in Eastern Syriac lands, we can find a nucleus of Nestorian Christology in progress, i.e. a knowledge of Nestorius’ and some of Ps.-Nestorius’ metaphysical system, and fragmental texts attributed to him. In this paper I would like to focus on the Christology of Ḥabīb, a monk who belonged to the Church of the East who lived during the end of the 5th century and the beginning of the 6th century. Through an analysis and a re-reading of his Christology, expressed in some of his chapters (tractus) , I will show that the Christological current to which Ḥabīb belonged should be considered, already at the end of the 5th century, an elaboration in progress of the two-qnomē Christology. In another words, even if Ḥabīb, as L. Abramowski and A. de Halleux demonstrated, had a strong Theodorian Christology , we can see in him, or better to say, in the Christological current to which he belonged, the first steps of a “Nestorian Christology” in Syriac language.

The Christology of Ḥabīb’s chapters:New considerations

Bishara Ebeid
2022

Abstract

The assembly of bishops in 612 AD is considered to be the “Nestorianization” of the Church of the East, i.e. the application of the two-qnomē (two hypostases) concept in its Christological doctrine. It is usually said that the first to apply such a doctrine in that church was Babai the Great (†628) in his Liber de Unione , interpreting the Liber Heraclides of Nestorius . It is notable, however, that some Greek Chalcedonian authors, such as Leontius of Byzantium (†543) and Leontius of Jerusalem (†probably the end of the 6th century), and Syrian Jacobite authors, such as Philoxenus of Mabbug (†523) and Jacob of Serugh (†521) wrote against groups of “Nestorians”, the formers against Greeks and the latters against Syrians, claiming that these Greek and Syriac speaking groups used the two-ὑποστάσεις and two-qnomē, or/and two-πρόσωπα and two-parṣopē formula in their Christological doctrine. Two of these authors, namely Leontius of Jerusalem and Philoxenus of Mabbug, saved for us, through citations in their works, some parts of Nestorian works in Greek and in Syriac . It is not surprising to know of the existence of Nestorian works in Greek, since Nestorius himself, as well as “Ps.-Nestorius” wrote in Greek, and these works, along with those of Theodore of Mopsuestia, became sources for the Greek speaking Nestorians. The surprise is to discover that probably before the translation of Nestorius into Syriac occurred in 539/540 , and before the spread of Nestorius and Ps.-Nestorius’ thought in Eastern Syriac lands, we can find a nucleus of Nestorian Christology in progress, i.e. a knowledge of Nestorius’ and some of Ps.-Nestorius’ metaphysical system, and fragmental texts attributed to him. In this paper I would like to focus on the Christology of Ḥabīb, a monk who belonged to the Church of the East who lived during the end of the 5th century and the beginning of the 6th century. Through an analysis and a re-reading of his Christology, expressed in some of his chapters (tractus) , I will show that the Christological current to which Ḥabīb belonged should be considered, already at the end of the 5th century, an elaboration in progress of the two-qnomē Christology. In another words, even if Ḥabīb, as L. Abramowski and A. de Halleux demonstrated, had a strong Theodorian Christology , we can see in him, or better to say, in the Christological current to which he belonged, the first steps of a “Nestorian Christology” in Syriac language.
Symposium Syriacum XII. Held at St Lawrence College, Rome 19-21 August 2016. Organized by the Pontifical Oriental Institute on the occasion of the Centenary Celebration (1917-2017)
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