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The Problem Of The Hypostatic Union


The manner of the hypostatic union then became an urgent problem. The
Church of the fifth century was called upon to attempt a solution. Any
reading of the Gospels compelled the recognition of divine and human
elements in Christ; but speculative theology found it difficult to
reconcile that fact with the equally important fact of the unity of

The theologians of the previous century had bequeathed little or no
guidance. The fifth-century Christologians were pioneers in an
unmapped region. Athanasius' great treatises on the incarnation are
hardly more than eloquent defences of the true deity and true humanity
of Christ. They contain little or no constructive Christology. Their
theme is, autos enenthropesen, hina hemeis theopoiethomen. He
maintains the fact, but does not deal with the "how." He uses the
phrase "natural union" (henosis physike), but does not attempt to
define the mode of that union.

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