- Oct 26, 2002
- Reaction score
- Washington, PA
But Assyrians do not use/mean hypostasis in the same way as Miaphysites and Chalcedonians which was the problem in the first place.Severian said:^'Qnome' is a cognate with the Arabic 'iqnoom', actually. They both mean 'hypostasis'.
"In the Church of the East there is no more credible source for understanding the Christology of the "Nestorians" than Babai the Great's Book of the Union. In it we get a glimpse into the mind of one of the prominent defenders of Antiochene thought in the East and one who lived at the time the Church there officially adopted "Nestorian" terminology. It is important to stress that this terminology was not new to the Church, but had been the common currency of theological and Christological discourse among Syriac-speaking Christians in the East for generations. It should not be abstracted from its cultural environment, nor should the images and impressions it evoked among those who employed it (and their hearers) in its unique linguistic setting be ignored and the whole of it forced to fit exactly into a Byzantine (or modern western) mold. It is the language of a distinct Christian culture, rich in the traditions of those who brought Christianity to the Eastern empire from the "West". To reach a "Chalcedonian" objective of one subject "person" in two uncompromised substantive "natures", the dyophysites felt required to affirm the hypostatic integrity of each nature. Babai, being one of those who participated in the "debate" of 612, felt the term qnoma could not be dispensed with in addressing the threat posed by monophysism to the essential integrity of Christ's humanity and divinity. It is instructive to know what he himself meant by this term which he employed.
In his Fourth Memra (seventeenth chapter) Babai defines his terms for us. First let us consider his definition of qnoma/hypostasis:
"A singular essence is called a `qnoma'. It stands alone, one in number, that is, one as distinct from the many. A qnoma is invariable in its natural state and is bound to a species and nature, being one [numerically] among a number of like qnome. It is distinctive among its fellow qnome [only] by reason of any unique property or characteristic which it possesses in its `pars\opa'. With rational creatures this [uniqueness] may consist of various [external and internal] accidents, such as excellent or evil character, or knowledge or ignorance, and with irrational creatures [as also with the rational] the combination of various contrasting features. [Through the pars\opa we distinguish that] Gabriel is not Michael, and Paul is not Peter. However, in each qnoma of any given nature the entire common nature is known, and intellectually one recognizes what that nature, which encompasses all its qnome, consists of. A qnoma does not encompass the nature as a whole [but exemplifies what is common to the nature, such as, in a human qnoma, body, soul, mind, etc.]."
Here Babai sets forth his understanding of qnoma as being a representative exemplar of a general species. It is the essence of a given nature in concrete, realized form. It is the essential substratum upon which a pars\opa is based. It is nature undifferentiated in any way from exemplary qnome of the same nature except for number, but differentiated both in number and essence from exemplary qnome of other natures. This substratum of nature is further individualized only by the addition of accidents, phenomena which are not of the essence of a given nature, but which make it possible to distinguish one qnoma from another. Nature is general and descriptive: qnoma is specific and exemplary. When Babai speaks of Christ as "God and man", he insists on specificity: a divine qnoma (not the Holy Trinity) and a human qnoma (not mankind in general).
On the subject of pars\opa Babai has this to say:
"Again, `pars\opa' is the collective characteristics of a qnoma which distinguish it from other [qnome of the same species]. The qnoma of Paul is not that of Peter, even though the nature and qnoma [of both of them] is the same. Each of them possesses a body and soul and is living, rational, and fleshly [that is, they are each a hypostatized nature], yet through their pars\ope they are distinguished from one another by that which is unique to each of them-stature, for instance, or form, or temperament, or wisdom, or authority, or fatherhood, or sonship, or masculinity, or femininity, or in whatever way. A unique characteristic distinguishes and indicates that this [man] is not that [man], and that [one] is not this [one], even if this and that are of the same nature. Because of the unique property [or pars\opa] which a certain qnoma possesses, one [qnoma] is not the other one."
Here that which is not of the essence of an exemplary nature but a property possessed by it which distinguishes it from others of its kind, in combination with other such characteristics, comprises the pars\opa of a given nature. Here Paul becomes Paul and not just "man" and is distinguished from Peter, whose qnoma does not otherwise differ from Paul's except in numerical distinction. Paul not only looks different from Peter (hair color, height, weight, complexion, etc.) but acts differently, reflecting underlying differences in abilities, talents, interests, etc.-the characteristics of his pars\opa. Paul becomes a subject of interest on his own, not just as a specimen of "manhood". And the integrity of his identity is bound up in the fact that his pars\opa is uniquely his and not another's, whereas the integrity of his qnoma lies in its faithful reflection, in exemplary form, of the exact nature of any other ordinary man."