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Henophysite/Miaphysite

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  • thomas_joseph@hotmail.com
    I recently asked Prof. Sebastian Brock of Oxford University (one of the foremost scholars in Syriac Studies) about his preferred use of the term
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 21, 2001
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      I recently asked Prof. Sebastian Brock of Oxford University (one of
      the foremost scholars in Syriac Studies) about his preferred use of
      the term henophysite/miaphysite rather than the opprobious misnomer,
      monophysite, to describe the Christological position of the Oriental
      Orthodox Churches. Here is his response, which may be of interest to
      some of you.

      Thomas Joseph

      ____

      Dear Thomas,

      Many thanks for yours. I use "henophysite" to represent the formula
      of St Cyril, "one incarnate nature of God the Word", and Severus of
      Antioch explains the one nature as being "composed" out of the
      divinity and the humanity. The word formation I chose was indeed
      based on words like "henotheism" etc, but since this is a feature of
      the English language only, and not of European languages, I am
      inclined now to use "miaphysite", meaning exactly the same thing, but
      with the Greek feminine form mia (hen is neuter, which grammatically
      does not fit physis in Greek).

      I have something on this in print in a number of places, e.g. briefly
      in Studies in Syriac Christianity (1992), Ch. XII, p.132, but
      probably at more length in PRO ORIENTE's Syriac Dialogue 1, and in an
      article which has only appeared in Arabic translation in Bayn al-
      Nahrayn 1996 - in most cases I was primarily writing about the
      christology of the Church of the East, so only deal with it in
      passing. I've never had time to put into publishable form the
      lectures I sometimes give on post-Chalcedonian christology in the
      Syriac sources, where I deal with it in much more detail.

      With all best wishes for the coming Feast, yours ever, sebastian


      On 11 Apr 2001, at 15:38, Thomas Joseph wrote:

      > Dear Sebastian,
      >
      > The following Word of the Day from Merriam-Webster prompts me
      > to ask you regarding your preferred term 'henophysite' for
      > describing the Christological position of the Oriental
      > Orthodox Churches. Do you use the term to mean that the
      > Oriental Orthodox worship the divine nature of Christ,
      > but also acknowledge the human nature? Have you authored any
      > article explaining the use of the term?
      >
      > Thanks and with warm regards,
      > Thomas Joseph
      >
      >
      > henotheism • \HEH-nuh-thee-ih-zum ("th" as in "think")\ • (noun)
      > : the worship of one god without denying the existence of other gods
      >
      > Example sentence:
      > During certain periods of Egyptian history, the pharaohs and
      > their subjects practiced henotheism.
      >
      > Did you know? "Henotheism" comes to us from the German
      > word "Henotheismus," which in turn is derived from the Greek
      > "hen-" ("one") plus "theos" ("god"). Someone who
      > engages in henotheism worships one god as supreme over all
      > others. Max Müller, a respected 19th-century scholar, is
      > credited with promoting the word "henotheism" as a counterpart
      > to "polytheism" ("belief in or worship of more than one god")
      > and "monotheism" ("the doctrine or belief that there is
      > but one God"). Müller also offered the related word
      > "kathenotheism" for the worship of several gods successively.
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