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Nestorius Back in Print

Roger Pearse has posted an English translation of the Bazaar of the heresiarch Nestorius (writing under a pseudonym). Nestorius is a tough read, as even his ancient critics liked to point out. But the manuscript history of the Bazaar is a fast-paced international thriller that takes us through rough patches of geopolitics of the last century. Some of the few copies vanished in massacres in Kurdistan. Another was destroyed in World War I.

A man of the Antiochene school, Nestorius tried to articulate a christology that would oppose two other heresies, Arianism and Apollinarianism. In doing so, he over-corrected, and his rationalism drove him to conclude that Christ existed as two distinct persons, the man Jesus and the divine Son of God. A further consequence was his denial of the title “Mother of God” to the Virgin Mary. He claimed she was mother only to Christ’s human nature.

St. Cyril of Alexandria argued forcefully for the hypostatic union — a single “I” in Jesus Christ. Cyril also pointed out that a mother gives birth to a person, not a nature. The Council of Ephesus rejected Nestorius’s doctrine in 431. (More on the controversy here.)