On this day:
475 – Byzantine Emperor Basiliscus issues a circular letter (Enkyklikon) to the bishops of his empire, supporting the Monophysite christological position.
Monophysitism (/məˈnɒfᵻsaɪtᵻzəm/ or /məˈnɒfᵻsɪtᵻzəm/; Greek: μονοφυσιτισμός; Late Koine Greek [monofysitzˈmos] from μόνος monos, “only, single” and φύσις physis, “nature”) is the Christological position that, after the union of the divine and the human in the historical Incarnation, Jesus Christ, as the incarnation of the eternal Son or Word (Logos) of God, had only a single “nature” which was either divine or a synthesis of divine and human. Monophysitism is contrasted to dyophysitism (or dia-, dio-, or duophysitism) which maintains that Christ maintained two natures, one divine and one human, after the Incarnation.
Historically, Monophysitism (usually capitalized in this sense) refers primarily to the position of those (especially in Egypt and to a lesser extent Syria) who rejected the Council of Chalcedon (the fourth ecumenical [worldwide] council), in 451. The moderate members of this group, however, maintained a “Miaphysite” theology (i.e. the teaching that Christ possessed two natures “united” [Greek “mia”] without separation, without mixture, without confusion, and without alteration) that became that of the Oriental Orthodox churches. Many Oriental Orthodox reject the label “Monophysite” even as a generic term, but it is extensively used in the historical literature.
After the Council of Chalcedon, the Monophysite controversy (together with institutional, political, and growing nationalistic factors) led to a lasting schism between the Oriental Orthodox churches, on the one hand, and the Western and the Eastern Orthodox churches on the other. The Christological conflict among monophysitism, dyophysitism, and their subtle combinations and derivatives lasted from the third through the eighth centuries and left its mark on all but the first two Ecumenical Councils. The vast majority of Christians nowadays belong to the Chalcedonian churches. i.e. the Roman Catholic, Maronite, Eastern Orthodox, and traditional Protestant churches (those that accept at least the first four Ecumenical Councils); these churches have always considered monophysitism to be heretical.
The miaphysite Oriental Orthodox Churches today include the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church, the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Syriac Orthodox Church and the Malankara Orthodox Church of India.
In the light of modern historical research and ecumenical discussions, the miaphysite and Chalcedonian positions appear to differ mainly in their usage of the key term “nature” (Greek: φύσις, phýsis, as used in the original texts of the relevant Ecumenical Councils) rather than in the underlying Christology, but other smaller differences of interpretation or emphasis may also exist. Intercommunion between the Oriental Orthodox and various Chalcedonian churches has not yet been reestablished.
Monophysitism is occasionally referred to as “monophysiticism”.
A brief definition of Monophysitism can be given as: “Jesus Christ, who is identical with the Son, is one person and one hypostasis in one nature: divine.”
Monophysitism was born in the theological “School of Alexandria”, which began its Christological analysis with the (divine) eternal Son or Word of God and sought to explain how this eternal Word had become incarnate as a man—in contrast to the “School of Antioch” (birthplace of Nestorianism, the antithesis of Monophysitism), which instead began with the (human) Jesus of the Gospels and sought to explain how this man had become united with the eternal Word in the Incarnation. Both sides agreed that Christ was both human and divine, but the Alexandrians emphasized divinity (including the fact that the divine nature was itself “impassible” or immune to suffering) while the Antiochines emphasized humanity (including the limited knowledge and “growth in wisdom” of the Christ of the Gospels). Individual Monophysite and Nestorian theologians in fact rarely believed the extreme views that their respective opponents attributed to them (although some of their followers may have). Ultimately, however, the dialectic between the schools of Alexandria and Antioch produced Christologies that on all sides (notwithstanding ongoing differences between the Oriental Orthodox and Chalcedonian churches) avoided the extremes and reflect both points of view.
Monophysitism was condemned by the Council of Chalcedon in 451, which among other things adopted the Definition of Chalcedon (often known as the “Chalcedonian Creed”) stating that Christ is the eternal Son of God
made known in two natures without confusion [i.e. mixture], without change, without division, without separation, the difference of the natures being by no means removed because of the union, but the property of each nature being preserved and coalescing in one prosopon [person] and one hupostasis [subsistence]—not parted or divided into two prosopa [persons], but one and the same Son, only-begotten, divine Word, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Accepted by the sees of Rome, Constantinople, and Antioch, the Chalcedonian settlement encountered strong resistance in Alexandria (and in Egypt generally), leading ultimately to the schism between the Oriental Orthodox churches (which reject Chalcedon), on the one hand, and the so-called Chalcedonian churches on the other. The Chalcedonian churches have always considered monophysitism to be heretical and have generally viewed it as the (explicit or implicit) position of the Oriental Orthodox churches. The Oriental Orthodox churches, on the other hand, consider their own Christology, known as Miaphysitism and based heavily on the writings of Cyril of Alexandria (whom all sides accept as orthodox), to be distinct from monophysitism, and often object to being labelled monophysites.
Monophysitism and its antithesis, Nestorianism, were hotly disputed and divisive competing tenets in the maturing Christian traditions during the first half of the 5th century, during the tumultuous last decades of the Western Empire. It was marked by the political shift in all things to a center of gravity then located in the Eastern Roman Empire, and particularly in Syria, the Levant, and Anatolia, where monophysitism was popular among the people.
There are two major doctrines that can indisputably be called “monophysite”:
Apollinarism or Apollinarianism holds that Christ had a human body and human “living principle” but that the Divine Logos had taken the place of the nous, or “thinking principle”, analogous but not identical to what might be called a mind in the present day. Apollinarism was condemned as a heresy at the First Ecumenical Council of Constantinople in 381.
Eutychianism holds that the human and divine natures of Christ were fused into one new single (mono) nature: His human nature was “dissolved like a drop of honey in the sea”. Eutychianism was condemned at the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon in 451.
After Nestorianism, taught by Nestorius, Archbishop of Constantinople, was rejected at the First Council of Ephesus, Eutyches, an archimandrite at Constantinople, emerged with diametrically opposite views. Eutyches’ energy and the imprudence with which he asserted his opinions brought him the accusation of heresy in 448, leading to his excommunication. In 449, at the controversial Second Council of Ephesus Eutyches was reinstated and his chief opponents Eusebius, Domnus and Flavian, deposed. Monophysitism and Eutyches were again rejected at the Council of Chalcedon in 451.
Later, monothelitism – the belief that Christ was two natures in one person except that he only had a divine will and no human will – was developed as an attempt to bridge the gap between the monophysite and the Chalcedonian position, but it too was rejected by the members of the Chalcedonian synod, despite at times having the support of the Byzantine emperors and once escaping the condemnation of a Pope of Rome, Honorius I. Some are of the opinion that monothelitism was at one time held by the Maronites, but the Maronite community, for the most part, dispute this, stating that they have never been out of communion with the Catholic Church.
Born on this day:
1926 – Hugh Hefner, American publisher, founded Playboy Enterprises
Hugh Marston Hefner (born April 9, 1926) is an American men’s lifestyle magazine publisher, businessman, and a well-known playboy. Hefner is a native of Chicago, Illinois and a former journalist for Esquire. He is best known for being the founder and chief creative officer of Playboy Enterprises. A self-made multi-millionaire, his net worth is over $43 million due to his success as the founder of Playboy magazine. Hefner is also a political activist and philanthropist active in several causes and public issues. He is a World War II veteran.
1933 – Fern Michaels, American author
Fern Michaels (born Mary Ruth Kuczkir; April 9, 1933) is an American author of romance and thriller novels, including nearly 50 best selling books with more than 70 million copies in print. Her United States Today and New York Times best selling books include Family Blessings, Pretty Woman, and Crown Jewel, as well as the Texas quartet and the Captive series.
Fern Michaels is the pen name of Mary Ruth Kuczkir, who was born in Hastings, Pennsylvania on April 9, 1933, weighing only four and one-half pounds. Because of her small birth weight, Michaels’ father nicknamed her “Dink,” for “dinky little thing. Her family and friends still use the nickname. As a child, though, others referred to her as Ruth. Once she entered the business world, she became “Mary.”
Michaels married, moved to New Jersey, and had five children. When the youngest entered school in 1973, her husband told her to get a job. Because she had no idea how to get a job, Michaels decided to try to write a book. Her husband was not very supportive of her efforts, and consequently they separated.
Although her first manuscript did not sell, the second did. Since then, Michaels has sold over sixty books, many of them New York Times bestsellers. She has been quoted as saying that she loves breathing life into her characters. She also loves writing books about women who prevail under difficult circumstances, which she feels reflect her struggle for success early in her career. For her efforts, she has been inducted into the New Jersey Literary Hall of Fame.
When she was a girl, Michaels’ grandmother told her “when God is good to you, you have to give back”. With this in mind, she founded the Fern Michaels Foundation, which grants four year scholarships for deserving students. In addition to that, she has also helped establish pre-school and day care programs with affordable rates for single mothers.
Michaels currently lives in Summerville, South Carolina, in a 300-year-old plantation house listed in the Historic Registry. She claims to share the house with a ghost named Mary Margaret (which had also been documented by the previous owners). Mary Margaret is said to leave messages on her computer.