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Neoplatonic Language of the Soul in Cyril’s Scholia on the Incarnation

Sarah K Wear

Franciscan University

Cyril uses the terminology of asynchytos and henosis in a number of passages with respect to his teachings on the metaphysics of the Incarnation. He compares the Logos taking on flesh to the soul taking on body— an analogy rooted in Aristotle’s De Anima where Aristotle likens the relationship between soul and body to that of form with matter. Aristotle calls matter and form a nature (physis) and essence (ousia); soul and body are thus two natures or ousiai constituting one individual human being. Likewise, Cyril calls manhood and divine in Jesus two natures in one person or hypostasis. Beginning in 736b of Quod Unus Sit Christus, Cyril draws an analogy between the union of manhood and Godhood in Jesus with the union of soul and body of man; namely, the proper conception of man consists in the joining of flesh with soul. In Quod Unus Sit Christus, without the union of both components, man can no longer rightly be called man (736c); this is echoed in Cyril’s eighth Scholia on the Incarnation, a text emphasizing the difference between soul and body, where the soul assumes a body, experiencing its sufferings without becoming carnal itself. For Cyril, the way the body relates to the soul shows how two distinct realities can be mixed to create a human being, and yet each component of body and soul are maintained. Uses of the phrase asygnchytos henousthai with respect to descriptions of how soul relates to body appear in Porphyry’s Summikta Zētēmata, a work influential in chapter 3 of Nemesius’s De natura hominis, as well as Priscian’s Solutiones ad Chosroen. Cyril, as with Porphyry and Numenius, uses the analogy of the way the body relates to the soul as a union “without confusion” (asynchytos henousthai). This paper will explore use of such terminology in Syrianus’s description of forms and henads.

Session/Panel Title

Soul Matters: How and Why Does Soul Matters to the Various Discourses of Neoplatonism?

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