Paul Tillich, A History Of Christian Thought

School of Antioch. Theodor of Mopsuestia. Apollinarius. Nestorius. Cyril. Chalcedon.

The West never followed the Alexandrian line, of which Apollinarius was the first and most radical expression, and was rejected for this reason. How is salvation possible if in Jesus the humanity is not more or less swallowed into the Divinity, so that we can adore Him as a whole, so that His mind is identical with the Divine Logos? The answer was: It is impossible. Therefore the general trend goes in the direction of what was later called Monophysitism – one Divine nature, into which the human nature is swallowed.

Against this the West and the school of Antioch protested. And let me say something about the school of Antioch and their general attitude. The first is Theodor of Mopsuestia. This whole school has very definite characteristics which distinguish it from most of the Alexandrian tendencies and which make them the predecessors of the emphasis on the historical Jesus in modern theology.

1) They had a very strong philological interest, and gave a most exact interpretation and emphasis on the historical picture of the Christ. So they had the same half- philological interest which historical criticism developed in our days.

2) They had a rational tendency – just as liberal theology also had – in the sense of Alexandrian philosophy.

3) They had strong ethical-personalistic interests – instead of mystical-ontological – exactly as Rome and the Stoics had.

Rome, the West, was not always on their side, but on the whole Antioch represented some main Western trends, although it itself developed in the East. It was the great ally of Rome in the East which made it possible that Rome – i, e. , the emphasis on history, personality – was victorious over against the mystical-ontological interest of the East.

But the popular religion was on the whole on the side of Alexandria, and not of Antioch. And since Antioch, beyond this, was broken by the basic structure of the dogma, coming from Origen, much more in the line of Alexandrian than of Antiochean thinking; since it further was broken by politics and by lack of moral resistance against the superstitious level of Christianity – which developed largely at that time everywhere in Christianity – Antioch could not prevail. The personalities were not great enough to resist the demands of the people for a magically working God who walks on earth and whose human nature is only a gown for his Divine nature. Nevertheless, Antioch, in alliance with Rome, has saved the human picture of Christ in its religious significance. Without Antioch, probably the Church would have lost completely the human picture, and this means the history-conscious West never would have been able to develop.

In this way Antioch also has defended the main part, at least, of the Church against the Monophysites, which according to the human character of Christ being swallowed up, has produced infinite sacramental magic superstitious things. In doing all this, Antioch paved the way for the Christological emphasis of the West.

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