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In Christian theology, dyophysitism (Greek: δυοφυσιτισμός, from δυο (dyo), meaning "two" and φύσις (physis), meaning "nature") is the Christological position that two natures, divine and human, exist in the person of Jesus Christ. It contrasts with monophysitism and miaphysitism.
Development of dyophysite Christology was gradual, promoted by St Cyril of Alexandria (Church Father and Doctor of the Church) and its complex terminology was finally formulated as a result of long christological debates that were constant during the 4th and 5th centuries. The importance of dyophysitism was often emphasized by prominent representatives of the Antiochene School. After many debates and several councils, dyophysitism gained its official ecclesiastical form at the Fourth Ecumenical Council, held in Chalcedon in 451. The Chalcedonian Definition became the basis for the christological doctrine of the two natures of Jesus Christ, that is held up to the present day by a majority of Christian churches, including: the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Catholic Churches, the Anglican Church, the Old Catholic Church, and various other Christian denominations. Both the monophysitism were sentenced as false and condemned as heretic by the Council of Chalcedony in 451, and therefore declared not compatible with the Christian faith.
Dyophysite Christians believe that there is complete and perfect unity of the two natures in one hypostasis and one person of Jesus Christ. For the Chalcedonians the hypostatic union was the center of Jesus' unity (his divinity and humanity being described as natures) whereas those who rejected the Chalcedonian definition saw his nature as the point of unity. Since the term dyophysitism is used for describing the Chalcedonian positions, it has distinctive opposite meaning to the terms monophysite (notion that Christ has only one, divine nature) and miaphysite (notion that Christ is both divine and human, but in one nature).
Dyophysitism has also been used to describe some aspects of Nestorianism, the doctrines ascribed to the Patriarch Nestorius of Constantinople. His detractors also asserted (unprecisely, and sometimes falsely) that he believed that Christ existed not only in two natures, but also in two (hypostases) and two persons (prosopon): the human Jesus and the divine Logos. Apart from that, the ancient Church of the East has preserved dyophysite Christology and other traditions of the Antiochene School.
The belief in Jesus Christ being true Man and true God was imbedded in the Chalcedonian Creed. Later it was integrated in the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity, the basic article of the faith of most Christian denominations.
- Oriental Orthodoxy
- First Council of Ephesus
- Second Council of Constantinople
- Loon, Hans van (2009). The Dyophysite Christology of Cyril of Alexandria. Leiden-Boston: Basil BRILL.
- Meyendorff, John (1983). Byzantine Theology: Historical Trends and Doctrinal Themes (Revised 2 ed.). New York: Fordham University Press.
- Meyendorff, John (1989). Imperial unity and Christian divisions: The Church 450-680 A.D. The Church in history. 2. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press.
- Ostrogorsky, George (1956). History of the Byzantine State. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.