Theological Differences Between Assyro-Chaldean and Greek Catholics

ronyodish

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I would agree with you, but the Maronite position appears to be perfectly coordinate with the dogmatic decree (horos) of Chalcedon, while the position of Rony's own Church coordinates with that of the position taken by Nestorius.
Todd,

I am not intending to answer for ozgeorge here, I just want to add a few comments.

The Maronites accepted Chalcedon from the beginning, because they were in the Roman Empire.

As for us, who were not in the Rome Empire, we fell out of communion with the rest of the Western Churches (Western meaning West of the Euphrates river) at the Synod of Mar Dadisho in 424 for political, not Christological reasons.  Later, we were accused of Nestorianism.  when we re-established full communion, we were required to revise certain things that seemed to be "Nestorian".  The 1994 Declaration with the Assyrian Church effectively put an end to the accusation that the Assyrian Church was "Nestorian", therefore we Chaldeans are no longer forbidden to reclaim our traditional Christological position.

A small example:

In our liturgy, the traditional way was to speak of the Mother of Christ.  When we re-established full communion, we were required to change it to Mother of God (because we were thought to be "Nestorian").  Now, when our liturgy was recently revised, we have both Mother of God and next to it in a paranthesis, Mother of Christ, to show that both titles are ok.

Now whether Rony (or the Latin Church for that matter) likes it or not, the Greek language has a theological primacy in Christian theology, because it is the language of the inspired New Testament, and as a consequence it has a normative value.  Interestingly, the theology professors I had at the Latin Catholic university that Rony is presently attending insisted upon this fact.
The Greek language does not have a theological primacy in our Church of the East.  We accept Holy Tradition which we received in Aramaic, as the Pentecost passage in Acts 2 says when the residents of Mesopotamia received in their own language the Gospel, and subsequently when we were evangelized by the Apostolic mission.  We represent a continuity with the early Semitic Christianity which was a non-hellenized Aramaic Christianity, as this form of Christianity spread to the Aramaic East into Iraq and further East.

We also accept Holy Scripture, but we have no original copies of the New Testament, and so it not 100% certain among scholars that the NT were originally written in Greek (Greek Primacy), as there is a minority among scholars that accepts Aramaic Primacy.  Personally, I accept that most of the New Testament was written in Greek, but I do hold that Matthew was written in Aramaic as there is Patristic mentioning of this.  Some Assyrians and Chaldeans hold to Aramaic Primacy.  In any case, we use the Pshytta version of the Bible, an Aramaic Bible, in our theology and liturgy.  Therefore, the Aramaic NT that we have has normative value for our Church of the East.

Of course, the Latin professors would insist on Greek Primacy, as this the majority view.

As I see it, it is the primacy of Greek language that ultimately makes the Latin Church's attempts to justify the use of the filioque in the Niceno-Constantinopolitan creed problematic, because the fact that in the past the Latin Church has mistranslated the Greek words ekporeusis and proienai with the single Latin word processio is not a sufficient justification for causing confusion in connection with the Spirit's existential procession of origin (i.e., ekporeusis), which is from the Father alone, with His eternal energetic manifestation (phanerosis) or progression (proienai), which is from the Father through the Son.
This is a squabble between you and the Latins, and has nothing to do with us Assyro-Chaldeans.

Moreover, based upon Rony's own comments in connection with qnoma it appears that the term is related to the word hypostasis, since both terms seem to concern something that is essentially existent, and the Maronite Catholics appear to use the term in this precise fashion in their theology.
I've explained this above.  Maronites are of the Antiochene tradition, distinct from us.  We are not Antiochenes, and never were, as our Apostolic Succession and See is different from that of the Apostolic Succession and See of the Antiochenes.  They define Qnoma differently than we do.

Finally, the Cappadocian Fathers chose the term hypostasis precisely for that reason (i.e., because it conveys the idea of concrete existence), and they used the word in order to complete and make concrete the term prosopon, which when taken alone was open to a Sabellian interpretation (cf. St. Basil's letters 38 and 236).
That is good Greek theology, and as I keep saying, I am not opposed to Greek theology, we merely just don't theologize in Greek.

That said, based upon what Rony has said so far in this thread, I remain unconvinced that his christological and triadological views coordinate with historic Orthodoxy.  I also am concerned by his apparent dogmatic relativism in christology and triadology, because it involves what I can only describe as a misguided attempt to make a form of Nestorianism acceptable.
They are not of that of historic Orthodoxy, because our theology is not that of Orthodoxy, rather, it is that of the Church of the East.  You are seeing relativism in what I am saying because as I mentioned earlier, you've developed a uniformest rather than a pluriformest mind, and so you are uncomfortable with a multiplicity of theologies in a Communion.  I reject relativism, this is not a relativism issue, it is an issue of a multiplicity of complementary theologies that are allowed in the Catholic Church.  We confess two Kyane, two Qnome, one Parsopa, and if you see this as "Nestorianism", then there is nothing I can do about it other than to tell you that it is not "Nestorianism".  This is our heritage in the Church of the East, and I have no authority to change anything of it.  If you want, you can try to contact our bishops and discuss it with them, I highly recommend you to talk with Bishop Mar Bawai Soro, and he will explain this Christology to you.  If you want to buy his book, you can get it here: http://www.lulu.com/content/1670586

God bless,

Rony
 

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ronyodish said:
Todd,

I am not intending to answer for ozgeorge here, I just want to add a few comments.

The Maronites accepted Chalcedon from the beginning, because they were in the Roman Empire.

As for us, who were not in the Rome Empire, we fell out of communion with the rest of the Western Churches (Western meaning West of the Euphrates river) at the Synod of Mar Dadisho in 424 for political, not Christological reasons.  Later, we were accused of Nestorianism.  when we re-established full communion, we were required to revise certain things that seemed to be "Nestorian".  The 1994 Declaration with the Assyrian Church effectively put an end to the accusation that the Assyrian Church was "Nestorian", therefore we Chaldeans are no longer forbidden to reclaim our traditional Christological position.
Just as the bishop of Rome does not have the power to unilaterally alter the Niceno-Constantinopolitan creed by adding the word "filioque" to it; so too he does not have the authority to authorize any Church to accept a christological position at variance with the teaching of the Council of Chalcedon.
 

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ronyodish said:
The Greek language does not have a theological primacy in our Church of the East.  We accept Holy Tradition which we received in Aramaic, as the Pentecost passage in Acts 2 says when the residents of Mesopotamia received in their own language the Gospel, and subsequently when we were evangelized by the Apostolic mission.  We represent a continuity with the early Semitic Christianity which was a non-hellenized Aramaic Christianity, as this form of Christianity spread to the Aramaic East into Iraq and further East.

We also accept Holy Scripture, but we have no original copies of the New Testament, and so it not 100% certain among scholars that the NT were originally written in Greek (Greek Primacy), as there is a minority among scholars that accepts Aramaic Primacy.  Personally, I accept that most of the New Testament was written in Greek, but I do hold that Matthew was written in Aramaic as there is Patristic mentioning of this.  Some Assyrians and Chaldeans hold to Aramaic Primacy.  In any case, we use the Pshytta version of the Bible, an Aramaic Bible, in our theology and liturgy.  Therefore, the Aramaic NT that we have has normative value for our Church of the East.
I have never heard anyone seriously argue the position that you are advocating.  The New Testament was originally written in Greek, and so the Greek language is theologically normative.  Clearly, we will never come to an agreement on this issue.
 

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ronyodish said:
We confess two Kyane, two Qnome, one Parsopa, and if you see this as "Nestorianism", then there is nothing I can do about it other than to tell you that it is not "Nestorianism".  This is our heritage in the Church of the East, and I have no authority to change anything of it.  If you want, you can try to contact our bishops and discuss it with them, I highly recommend you to talk with Bishop Mar Bawai Soro, and he will explain this Christology to you.  If you want to buy his book, you can get it here: http://www.lulu.com/content/1670586
Rony,

I remain unconvinced that your position is reconcilable with Chalcedonian Orthodoxy.  Thus, as I see it, you are a Nestorian.

Todd
 

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Apotheoun said:
The reason that Chalcedon is worded the way it is, i.e., by using the terms prosopon and hypostasis in order to assert the fully unity of the incarnate Logos, was precisely in order to exclude the Nestorians, who could not in good conscience endorse the decree because it contradicted their own theological position.
And yet the Persian Church (the Church of the East) accepted the Chalcedonian definition, at least initially prior to Constantinople II.  The reason why the Armenian Church rejected Chalcedon in the early sixth century is because the Persian Church was asserting that Chalcedon vindicated its position.  Also, Nestorius lived long enough to read Pope Leo's tome and he speaks favorably of Pope Leo in the Bazaar of Heracleides.  So there must be something that allows the language of Chalcedon to be interpreted in a way that is friendly to to Rony's Church.

 

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There is nothing inherent to the Chalcedonian decree that would make it amenable to the Nestorians.  Nevertheless, as Grillmeier points out, Leo's tome is somewhat imprecise and can be misread in a Nestorian fashion, but – of course – the Fathers of Chalcedon refused to make Leo's tome the dogmatic horos of the council, while also insisting that the tome had to be read in the light of St. Cyril's theology. 

Fr. Romanides has written about this, and it was brought up and discussed years ago in the Orthodox / Oriental dialogue: 

http://www.orthodoxunity.org/article07.html
 

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Apotheoun said:
There is nothing inherent to the Chalcedonian decree that would make it amenable to the Nestorians. 
And yet it was amenable to the Nestorian Persian Church of the early sixth century.  This is well documented, as that was the reason why the Armenians ended up rejecting Chalcedon. 

A strong argument can be made, however, that Chalcedon read together with Constantinople II is not amenable to the Nestorians.
 

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The fact that Persian Nestorians misinterpreted the decree of Chalcedon does not change the Council Fathers teaching itself, any more than a man who misinterprets John 1:14 in an Apollinarian fashion alters the real meaning of the sacred text.

The Fathers of Chalcedon rejected the idea that there is more than one prosopon or hypostasis in Christ, and those same Fathers also insisted that the two natures (divine and human) can only be held to be distinct, but inseparable, tei theoriai monei.
 

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St. Gregory Palamas, great as he is, is personally irrelelvant; while the distinction between essence (ousia) and energy (energeia) or power (dynamis), which goes back to the New Testament itself, and to the Fathers of the first four centuries, is quite relevant.
Good Greek theology.

We say: "Now in the manner of the soul which is possessed of three-fold energy; mind, word, and life, and is one and not three; even so should we conceive of the Three in One, One in Three" (Book of Marganitha, Part I, Chapter V).

This "common christological declaration" has no dogmatic value, and is simply an agreement signed between the Roman Church and the Assyrian Church.  It certainly cannot be held to have the same value as Chalcedon, which is a binding decree (horos) of an ecumenical council.
The Assyrian Church of the East officially only accepts the first two Councils of the Roman Empire as Ecumenical, in addition to the acceptance of the Church Synods, and so this Common Christological Declaration is the next step up, and since it was signed by their Patriarch, who, in the Church of the East Ecclesialogy, has Primacy over the local bishops, then this is binding on them.

For us members of the Chaldean Catholic Church of the East, we see this Declaration signed by the Pope as the official acceptance of the orthodoxy of the traditional Church of the East Christology in the Catholic Church.  As regards the Church of the East ecclesiology on the Pope, this is how Mar Odisho (Church Father in both our Church, as well as, the Assyrian Church) teaches about him:

----------------
“. . . . And as the patriarch has authority to do all he wishes in a fitting manner in such things as are beneath his authority, so the patriarch of Rome has authority over all patriarchs, like the blessed Peter over all the community, for he who is in Rome also keeps the office of Peter in all the church. He who transgresses against these things the ecumenical synod places under anathema.” (Memra 9; Risha 8 ).
---------------

And So, this Common Christological Declaration signed by the Pope allows us to Interpret the Christological Councils of the Roman Empire in accordance with the traditional Christology of the Church of the East.  We take what is essential in these Christological Councils, and express them in our Aramaic tradition in accordance with the traditional Church of the East theology.

The reason that Chalcedon is worded the way it is, i.e., by using the terms prosopon and hypostasis in order to assert the fully unity of the incarnate Logos, was precisely in order to exclude the Nestorians, who could not in good conscience endorse the decree because it contradicted their own theological position.
Ok.  In any case, the Church of the East was outside the Roman Empire, in the Persian Empire, having already fallen out of communion with the rest of the Churches to their west, for political reasons.

God bless,

Rony
 

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ronyodish said:
The Assyrian Church of the East officially only accepts the first two Councils of the Roman Empire as Ecumenical, in addition to the acceptance of the Church Synods, and so this Common Christological Declaration is the next step up, and since it was signed by their Patriarch, who, in the Church of the East Ecclesialogy, has Primacy over the local bishops, then this is binding on them.

For us members of the Chaldean Catholic Church of the East, we see this Declaration signed by the Pope as the official acceptance of the orthodoxy of the traditional Church of the East Christology in the Catholic Church.  As regards the Church of the East ecclesiology on the Pope, this is how Mar Odisho (Church Father in both our Church, as well as, the Assyrian Church) teaches about him:

----------------
“. . . . And as the patriarch has authority to do all he wishes in a fitting manner in such things as are beneath his authority, so the patriarch of Rome has authority over all patriarchs, like the blessed Peter over all the community, for he who is in Rome also keeps the office of Peter in all the church. He who transgresses against these things the ecumenical synod places under anathema.” (Memra 9; Risha 8 ).
---------------

And So, this Common Christological Declaration signed by the Pope allows us to Interpret the Christological Councils of the Roman Empire in accordance with the traditional Christology of the Church of the East.  We take what is essential in these Christological Councils, and express them in our Aramaic tradition in accordance with the traditional Church of the East theology.

Ok.  In any case, the Church of the East was outside the Roman Empire, in the Persian Empire, having already fallen out of communion with the rest of the Churches to their west, for political reasons.

God bless,

Rony
As I said, we aren't going to agree.  The Pope does not have the power to alter anything taught by the seven great councils.
 

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Apotheoun said:
The fact that Persian Nestorians misinterpreted the decree of Chalcedon does not change the Council Fathers teaching itself, any more than a man who misinterprets John 1:14 in an Apollinarian fashion alters the real meaning of the sacred text.
How about all those people at the time of Justinian (including the Catholic Pope and some Eastern patriarchs) who didn't want to condemn the Three Chapters or adopt the phrase "One of the Trinity suffered in the flesh" because they thought it would undermine Chalcedon?  Did they also misinterpret the decree of Chalcedon?

I'm not trying to pick a fight.  I just want to see where you are coming from in this.   :)
 

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Todd and everyone else,

This weekend and next week up to Saturday, I will not be available to post due to my academic commitments in this Summer.  God willing, I will be back not on this Sunday, but next Sunday, and will try to catch up with more postings.  I tend to take a lot of time when posting, and so I'm not as fast in replying as others  :D

Till next time, take care everyone, and God bless,

Rony
 

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Salpy,

Anyone can misinterpret things, and that is why one must always return to the original sources.

That said, Chalcedon accepts the miaphysis theology of St. Cyril, while simply rejecting monophysitism, which the Oriental Orthodox also reject.

The canons of Constantinople II make it clear that Chalcedon must not be read in such a way that it causes division in Christ (the Chalcedonian decree is pretty clear about that itself), for the difference of the two natures can only be taken in a "theoretical manner" (canon 7).
 

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ronyodish said:
Todd and everyone else,

This weekend and next week up to Saturday, I will not be available to post due to my academic commitments in this Summer.  God willing, I will be back not on this Sunday, but next Sunday, and will try to catch up with more postings.  I tend to take a lot of time when posting, and so I'm not as fast in replying as others   :D

Till next time, take care everyone, and God bless,

Rony
Have a good weekend.
 

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Apotheoun said:
Salpy,

Anyone can misinterpret things, and that is why one must always return to the original sources.

That said, Chalcedon accepts the miaphysis theology of St. Cyril, while simply rejecting monophysitism, which the Oriental Orthodox also reject.

The canons of Constantinople II make it clear that Chalcedon must not be read in such a way that it causes division in Christ, for the difference of the two natures can only be taken in a "theoretical manner" (canon 7).
Thank you for your replies.  They helped me understand where you are coming from.  :)
 

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Hey guys,

Just wanted to drop by for a quick post.

Go to these videos on Patristic Christology given by Fr. Andrew Younan, a Chaldean Catholic priest.

Part I - History - http://kaldu.org/Theology_Course_2007/03_B_PChristology_01_Video.html
Part II - Councils & Synods - http://kaldu.org/Theology_Course_2007/05_B_PChristology_02_Video.html
Part III - Christ in the East - http://kaldu.org/Theology_Course_2007/06_B_PChristology_03_Video.html

These videos (mostly in English) should explain further the discussions here, and should keep you busy for a little bit while I'm gone for about a week.

God bless you,

Rony
 

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Apotheoun said:
Rony,

Hypostasis, as used by St. Gregory of Nyssa, is basically understood to be a concrete or particular essence, and so in some sense it parallels (but is not identical to) Aristotle's ousia prote; while the divine ousia, which for the Cappadocians is utterly transcendent and unknowable, tends to be connected with Aristotle's ousia deutera, except that the apophaticism of Basil and the two Gregories means that it (i.e., the divine ousia) is ultimately beyond human thought and predication (cf. Diogenes Allen, "Philosophy for Understanding Theology," pages 66-72).  So it does appear as though there is a connection between the use of the word hypostasis by the Cappadocian Fathers and qnoma understood as a particular essence, which means that the Maronite usage of that term, in both triadology and christology, corresponds to the teaching of the Cappadocians and Chalcedon, while the use of the term by your sui juris Church does not.

Todd
One further point of clarification in relation to what I said in the post quoted above:  the correspondence between Aristotle's ousia deutera and the divine ousia, according to the Cappadocians, is only by way of analogy, because the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not one in the sense of a species, but are strictly one, and so the divine ousia must not be confused with Aristotle's ousia deutera, which really refers to the unity of a group of beings within a particular species.
 

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Hi everyone,

I'm back, and I will try to post a little.  I'm starting another course tomorrow, and so my postings will be limited.

I understand your position, I simply do not agree with it, because I do not see how it can be said to be Orthodox in light of the decree of Chalcedon.
Todd,

That's fine.  As I said, the Church of the East Theology on Christ is not that of the Orthodox.  It is peculiar to only four Churches (two of them Catholic: Chaldean/Syro-Malabar, and two non-Catholic: Assyrian/Ancient).  Our Christology is not Latin, not Constantinopolitan, not Antiochene, not Armenian, and not Alexandrian.

The problem I have with Rony's position is that it seems to be absolutely relativistic, especially when you look at the Maronites, whose theological viewpoint seems to coordinate well with the teaching of the Cappadocians and the Council of Chalcedon.
I see why you see it as absolutely relativistic, and I think it is because you are equating the essence of a teaching, with the formula that is used to expresses it.  I don't equate essence with formulas.  I hold that in the Catholic Communion, we are all to accept the essence of the Faith, but we may differ in its formulations, so long as our differentiations are not essentially in contradiction to one another.

I firmly hold and agree that there is One Faith, One Baptism, and One Lord of all.  But, I don't accept that all in the Catholic Communion must be uniformed, that is, using one formulation for all in the expression of Faith.  The Maronites accepted the formulation of Chalcedon.  I hold that it is necessary for all to accept the essence of the Councils, but not necessary for all to use the formulations given.

So, for example, with regards to the members of the Syriac Catholic Church, I do not see a problem with it if they were to expresses the Faith like the Syriac Orthodox Church, in saying one united Kyono in Christ, rather than two (as in the Chalcedon formula of two physeis).

I think our problem boils down to this: When it comes to the Faith, I make a differentiation between essence and form, and to me, it appears that you do not make the same differentiation.

So it does appear as though there is a connection between the use of the word hypostasis by the Cappadocian Fathers and qnoma understood as a particular essence, which means that the Maronite usage of that term, in both triadology and christology, corresponds to the teaching of the Cappadocians and Chalcedon, while the use of the term by your sui juris Church does not.
There is a difference between the Maronites and us.  They defined Qnoma in the way that you guys defined Hypostasis.  We define Qnoma in the way Mar Babai (Bawai) the Great defines it.  By the way, here is some info. I found on Mar Babai the Great:

---------------------
Babai's christology

The main theological authorities of Babai were Theodore of Mopsuestia and Diodorus of Tarsus. He also relied on John Chrysostomos, the Cappadocian fathers and on Ephrem the Syrian, which were also accepted in the west. In his exegetical methods he synthesized between the rational Theodore and mystical writers like Evagrius.

And most important, instead of breaking with Theodore because of some extreme interpretations of his teachings, like others did, Babai clarified his position to the point that differences with western Christology became superficial and mostly an issue of terminology. His Christology is built in great part on sound exegesis and an interesting anthropology and is far less dualistic than the one Nestorius seems to have presented. Babai in the 'Book of Union' teaches two qnome (hypostasis--not the Chalcedonian use of this term, essence), which are unmingled but everlastingly united in one parsopa (person, character, identity, also "hypostasis" in Chalcedonian usage.). It is essential to use the Syrian terms here and not any translations, because the same words mean different things to different people, and the words must be accepted in the particular sense of each. In Greek Christology, hypostasis is used specifically to refer to what would correspond to Babai's parsopa, and ousion would correspond to qnome. In the period in which Babai and others formulated their respective Christological models, words such as "hypostasis" and "ousion" had less specifically fixed definitions. Thus, it was possible for two individuals to honestly use a single term to mean two distinctly different things.
-----------------------------

God bless,

Rony
 
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