Cyril of Jerusalem
Lecture 12, Part A
“And the Lord spoke again unto Ahaz, saying, ‘Ask you a sign....’ ” and “Behold! A virgin[i] shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call His name Emmanuel….” — Isaiah 7:10-14
Summary: It is just as important that we confess and realize that Jesus is sinless man, born of the Virgin Mary in time[ii], Emmanuel [God with us]; as we confess His Deity, eternal.[iii] It is just as evil to deny the humanity of Christ, as it is to deny His Deity: for He was, from conception onward, ever, “Word made man.” Still, we will always be beset with heretics that claim that Jesus is the fruit of ordinary human copulation; or, by numerous other devices, claim either that Jesus was not God, not man, or similar combinations of lies.[iv] Of Jesus’s development as God-man, we have many evidences and signs from the Prophets.
Preview: 1. We hymn the Virgin-born God.[v] She gave birth to the God-man.[vi] It is neither holy to worship the man [without His Godhead], “nor religious to say that He is God only without the Manhood.” There is no profit or salvation without this confession. “Let us confess the presence of Him who is both King and Physician. For Jesus the King when about to become our Physician, girded Himself with the linen of humanity, and healed that which was sick. The perfect Teacher of babes[vii] became a babe among babes, that He might give wisdom to the foolish. The Bread of heaven came down on earth that He might feed the hungry.” 2. To the Jews who set Him at nought, we put this question, was Esaias correct to call Him, Emmanuel, the virgin-born, or was Esaias, a Prophet [of the living God] wrong.[viii] 3. “Let the Jews, then, be led astray, since they so will: but let the Church of God be glorified. For we receive God the Word made Man in truth, not, as heretics say, of the will of man and woman, but of The Virgin and the Holy Ghost according to the Gospel, Made Man, not in seeming but in truth. “Others [heretics] say that the Christ is not God, made Man, but a man, made God. For they dared to say that not He — the pre-existent Word — was made Man; but a certain man was by advancement crowned.”[ix] 4. “Believe that He the Only-begotten Son of God.” Believe also that “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” Since then there is much controversy, and the battle has many forms, come, let us by the grace of Christ, and the prayers of those who are present, resolve each question.” 5. Why did Jesus come down? “Unless thou learn from the Holy Scriptures concerning the Virgin, and the place, the time, and the manner, receive not testimony from [mere living] man.”[x] Receive, instead, the thousand-year-old prophesy [recorded in Scripture]. Christ came down for the sake of the image of God in man. “A wooden image of an earthly king is held in honor; how much more a rational image of God?” While this pinnacle of Creation [Adam] was sporting in Paradise, he was seduced into being cast out of Paradise, because of the Devil’s envy. 6. Later, Cain murdered Abel; men were destroyed by flood; fire fell from heaven on Sodom. God chose Israel; but the Israelites worshipped a calf; Prophets were sent to cure the Israelites: but, their disease was not overcome. 7. “The Prophets said, Who shall give salvation out of Sion?” For they knew that they had failed irretrievably: so they cried to God to retrieve the Israelites. 8. “The Lord heard the prayer of the Prophets … He sent forth His Son … as healer.” Not secretly either; “O you that bringest good tidings to Zion, go up to the high mountain. Speak to the cities of Judah. What am I to speak? Behold our God! Behold!” “He came to His own and His own received Him not.” “I come to gather all nations and tongues.” 9. Solomon built a house when he had heard David say these things: for God will dwell among men. Later, Magi asked for the “King of the Jews”; while Herod inquired where Christ was to be born. 10. “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Sion, shout, O daughter of Jerusalem. Behold! Your King comes unto you, just and having salvation.”[xi] “Behold! Your King comes unto you, just, and having salvation: He is meek, and riding upon an ass and a young foal.” 11. “And His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives which is before Jerusalem on the east.” 12. A third sign, “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall hear: then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the stammerers shall be distinct.” A fourth sign, “The Lord Himself enters into judgment with the elders of His people, and with the princes thereof.”
[i] St. Cyril is clearly teaching from the Septuagint: for the Greek has παρθένος, virgin; whereas, the Hebrew has הָעַלְמָ֗ה, young woman. Obviously, the Rabbis who translated the Old Testament from Hebrew into Greek (circa 200 BC), understood that young woman was not a suitable translation in this context: for young woman is not a sign at all, let alone the miracle anticipated by the context. We should logically conclude that virgin is the only reasonable translation: but, the Rabbis came to this conclusion two hundred years before Christ was born. Who knows who else holds this certainty from the time of Isaiah (eighth century BC), six hundred years earlier than the Septuagint; surely Isaiah did: but, we have no surviving written record, older than Septuagint.
[ii] 6-4 BC
[iii] Unborn as well: for, His Deity did not originate by a process of birth, physical or spiritual; His Deity has no origin, since He was always inseparably with the Father, yet distinct from Him. Here is the rub. We still do not call Mary, Christotokos (Christ bearer): for that which is conceived in her by the Spirit and born of her is already both God and man. The Son of God added to Himself a complete and perfect human nature from the instant of miraculous conception: so, there never is a time from conception on, during her pregnancy, when Mary is not Theotokos (God bearer), to emphasize the fact that Jesus is God-man (Theanthropos or Theandros), rather than mere man. Since this is the agreed upon language it is unnecessarily argumentative, disruptive, and even schismatic to pursue the Christotokos language, ever again: the Fathers concluded that Christotokos was simply not strong enough wording to convey the reality. Still, we can see how this might not be so easily sorted out in the early fourth century. The Theanthropos-tokos or Theandros-tokos, would have been excessively cumbersome.
[iv] The Mormons deny the Complete Deity of Christ; yet, still wish to be known as Christians. Mormonism is not Christianity: for it claims that Jesus, the man, grew into his deity to become son; that Adam, the man grew into his deity to become father; that we, mere men, grow into our deities to become gods; as well as much more other foolishness.
[v] The dispute was whether Mary gave birth to the God-man, or merely the man, Jesus. The conclusion was that Mary gave birth to the God-man: hence, she is called God-bearer, not man-bearer. Moreover, she is honored with the name Ever-virgin; which could either be a miraculous physical reality, or an equally miraculous spiritual truth: we cannot say: for we were not eyewitnesses of the event.
[vi] John 1:1-14
[viii] A prophet who utters as false-prophecy is under the death penalty; consequently, either the highly and universally respected Isaiah, must be rejected in his entirety; or, the Jews must confess that they are wrong.
[ix] Note that St. Cyril also condemns the idea of man, made God, which is exactly what the Mormons profess.
[x] John 5:34
[xi] Zechariah 9:9