Apollinaris was, as far as we know, the first theologian to approach

this subject. We may note in passing that, though he was bishop of

Laodicea in Syria, Alexandria was his native place. His father was an

Alexandrian, and he himself had been a friend of Athanasius. The fact

of his connection with Alexandria deserves mention, because his

doctrine reflects the ideas of the Alexandrian school of thought, not

those of
he Syrian. Apollinaris set himself to attack the heretical

view that there were two "Sons"--one before all time, the divine Logos,

and one after the incarnation, Jesus Christ. In doing so he felt

constrained to formulate a theory of the union of natures. He started

from the Platonic division of human nature into three parts, rational

soul, animal soul, and body. He argued that in the statement "the

Logos became flesh," "flesh" must mean animal soul and body. He urged

in proof that it would be absurd to suppose the Logos conditioned by

human reason; that rational soul was the seat of personality, and that

if it were associated with the Logos, it would be impossible to avoid

recognising "two Sons." He expressly asserted that the humanity of

Christ was incomplete, contending that this very defect in the human

nature made possible the unity of His person. According to

Apollinaris, then, the union was a composition. The Logos superseded

the human reason, and was thus united to body and animal soul.

Apollinarianism was a form of docetism. In ascribing imperfection to

the human nature of Christ it eo ipso denied its reality.

Apollinaris, in fact, said of Christ's reason what the early docetists

said of His body. The system is more ingenious than convincing. It is

highly artificial. It provides no intellectual basis for a living

faith in an incarnate Christ. The theory, however, was very

influential in its day, and was intimately connected with the rise of

monophysitism. Eutyches, the "father of the monophysites," was

condemned by a local synod at Constantinople in A.D. 448 on the ground

that he was "affected by the heresy of Valentinus and Apollinaris."[1]

Harnack goes so far as to say that "the whole position of the later

monophysites, thought out to all its conceivable conclusions, is

already to be found in Apollinaris." Apollinarianism was condemned at

the second general council, and there the Church made her first

declaration, a negative one, on the subject of the hypostatic union.

In conflict with the heresies which arose in the next two generations,

she evolved a positive statement of the truth.