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.