“The Passions of His Flesh.” St Cyril of Alexandria and the Emotions of the Logos

Andrew Mellas, PhD Candidate, University of Sydney.

Abstract: Navigating the presupposition of divine impassibility, Nestorius’ charge of theopatheia and the inevitable anthropomorphism in ascribing emotions to God, St Cyril of Alexandria paradoxically proclaimed that Christ suffered impassibly (ἁπαθώς ἔπαθεν). Yet he also stressed that Christ suffered in the flesh (σαρκὶ πέπονθεν) for our salvation. Likewise, the question of the Logos’ emotions was essentially a soteriological one. Drawing on recent studies in the history of emotions, this paper revisits Cyril’s position on the matter in his commentary on the gospel according to St John – the Evangelist who most profoundly narrated Christ’s feelings. In reconsidering the Cyrillian and early Byzantine understanding of emotions, this paper also explores whether an alliance between theology and emotionology can shed new light on the mystery of the person of Christ.