Corruption of Christ

Greetings to all brothers!

I am member of the Armenian Apostolic Church, which has communion with the Coptic Orthodox Church.

As far as I know, our Churches agree on the doctrine of one Mia nature, but disagree on the doctrine of the corruption of Christ (before and after the Resurrection). That’s why, I’d like to know the teaching of the Coptic Church in this matter.

Thank you!


  • welcome. 
    i never heard of the 'corruption of Christ'.
    i don't think it is an orthodox Christian belief (i have been an orthodox Christian for 14 years)
    what do you mean by it?
  • Hello,

    The debate over corruptibility and incorruptibility of Christ was probably the most contentious Christological debate in the sixth century Church of Christ.

    There was a heretic named Julian of Halicarnassus who taught that Christ's nature was physically incorruptible even before the Resurrection of the Lord.  St Severus the Great exposed this heresy as a masked version of Docetism, in that it would posit that the sufferings of Christ were merely illusionary and not according to nature.

    The Armenian Orthodox Church probably never held to this position of Julianism.  But, they did receive a disciple of the heretic Julian named Abdisho, and Abdisho spread the falsehood that when St Severus proclaimed Christ to be corruptible, that He was speaking about a spiritual corruptibility or sinfulness.  This was obviously not taught by St Severus, in fact, St Severus affirmed this aspect of incorruptibility, since Christ took on everything except sin in His incarnation.

    It was due to Abdisho that the Armenian Orthodox Church temporarily anathematized St Severus for holding to Christ's incorruptibility, but later they came into full communion with the Church of Christ at the council of Manzikert in the eighth century and dropped their anathema on St Severus and made sure to anathematize Julian of Halicarnassus.

    In fact, this strawman of Abdisho made no sense, since Julian originally taught the Aphthartodocetae doctrine from reading St Severus' own work: the Philalethes, which was a comprehensive apologetic to the Chalcedonian sect.

    So, just keep this in mind; when Armenian Orthodox speak of Christ's "incorruptibility," they only mean it in the sense of Christ not having original sin, but when the rest of the Orthodox Church proclaims that Christ is "corruptible before the Resurrection," they are speaking about it in a bodily sense.  The reason that the Armenian Orthodox approach this from a different perspective is because of their tradition which they inherit from St Gregory the Illuminator.

    Neither the Severian explanation of Christ's corruptibility nor the Armenian explanation of Christ's incorruptibility are in any opposition, and when the Armenian Orthodox came back into full union, both parties understood that only the Severian and Armenian parties are Orthodox, and that all other parties are heterodox, which is why the reunion Council of Mazikert anathematizes the Chalcedonians.

    God bless you,
  • By the doctrine of corruption I mean that the human nature of Christ was changed in resurrection from corruption (not biological, but in passions) to incorruption (to the first nature of Adam). EO and Catholic Churches accept this doctrine.
  • Hello Mabsoota,

    The original poster is referring to the debate between St Severus and Julian of Halicarnassus.  You'll recall from your personal studies of the Chalcedonian schism of this debate from St Severus' "anti Julianist" writings and apologetics.  St Severus defended the corruptibility of Our Lord and Julian affirmed the heresy of the absolute incorruptibility of Our Lord (before the Ressurection).

    God bless you,
  • Hello Tigran,

    St Severus never affirmed that the blameworthy passions were experienced by Christ, only blameless passions of hunger and sleep etc., it is these blameless passions which Christ did not have anymore after the Ressurection.  Julian claimed that Christ never even had the blameless passions, which if of course heretical.

    St Severus refers to "corruptibility" according to blameless passions, but that Christ never had blameworthy passions.

    The Armenian Orthodox Church acknowledges that Christ had blameless passions, but that Christ never had blameworthy passions, and it is this they call "incorruptibility."

    God bless you, and may the prayers of Sts Grigor Tatevatsi, Shahak II, and Severus the Great be with us all,
  • Hello, Dioscorus,

    Thank you for your answer!

    I am not sure that the anathema against Severus of Antioch does not exist today in the Armenian Church, because I heard from some priests the opposite information.

    Armenian theologians accused him of the fact that Christ experienced passions out of the necessity of nature, but not voluntarily (as Armenian Church teaches).

    Talking about the faith of Armenian Church, we believe that Christ took our sinful and corrupted body and soul from St Mary, and in incarnation made it incorrupted as the first nature of Adam. And He didn’t change in Ressurection.

    St Grigor Tatevatsi in his “Book of Questions” said:

    “Let us also say that He [Christ] did not take the first nature of Adam, but took our corruptible from the generation of Adam and, uniting it with Himself, changed it into the first innocent and incorruptible nature of Adam.”

    God bless you,
  • Hello Tigran,

    Saying that Christ took from our sinful and corrupted body and soul from St Mary is not the same as saying that Christ's soul is corrupted by original sin.  Tatevatsi is saying that that which Christ took from (St Mary) had original sin, but that when Christ took our humanity, He was not spiritually fallen like Adam, but that He willed for His body to be subject to change (which is what Severians mean by "corruption" of the body).  Julian rejected that Christ even willed for His body to be subject to change, and said that the "willing" was merely on the level of the actions that Christ underwent, but not down to the body which those actions affected itself.

    As for the Armenian anathemas, these do not contain St Severus, they do however, contain those who are in actual disagreement with the Church:

    "I profess the orthodox faith and I confess the Holy Trinity: the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; and the incarnation of Christ our God; and I anathematize all the ranks of heretics; Arius, Macedon, and Nestor, and all the ranks of Diophysites." - Rite of the Calling to the Priesthood, Armenian Orthodox Church

    "Do you anathematize Eutyches [...]; and the Aphthardocetae [...] and Leo and his "Tome," which he wrote for personal glory and not for the sake of truth, and thus schismed from the Church?" - ibid

    Unfortunately, some Armenian Orthodox think that the heresy of Christ's soul being corrupted by sin (blameworthy passions) was taught by St Severus the Great, but they are wrong.  That's why whenever we have a concelebrated liturgy, the bishops usually deliberate to have the Armenian Orthodox to read the commemoration of St Severus.  It's also why HH Catholicos Aram I of Cilicia venerated the relics of St Severus the Great with HH Pope Tawadros and HH Mor Ignatius Aphrem II.

    God bless you,
  • Hello Dioscorus,

    The difference between us I see in the little things.

    We believe that Adam before sin and Christ after Resurrection were still able to have some blameless and voluntary passions. That’s why we can’t call it “corruption”, because God can’t create from the very beginning something corrupted, but only incorrupted.

    That’s why in Manzikert in 726 we said:

    “10. If someone does not confess that Christ incorruptibly bore all human passion voluntarily; but in corruption, he will say, this is all, or the passions make him corruptible, and he does not confess according to the apostles and prophets and Orthodox teachers, let him be anathema.”

    God bless you,
  • Hello Tigran,

    The way the blameless passions affect man is different before the fall and after the fall, and so it is experiencing the blameless passions qua after the fall which is called "corrupted."

    Manzikert is working from the incorruptibility terminology of the Armenian tradition which relates to the blameworthy passions - so in other words; Christ is incorruptible in this regard even before the passions.  That's all it is saying, which is why someone is anathema if they say that the passions make him "corruptible" in the sense of sin.

    God bless you,
  • Hello Dioscorus,

    What is the difference between blameless passions before and after fall in your opinion?

    God bless you,
  • Hello Tigran,

    For one, after the fall the blameless passions affect one in physically damaging ways (sleep depravation, starvation, etc.) and ultimately these can lead even to physical death.  We don't believe that Christ's death was on account of having sinned, but instead to be because Christ according to His physicality was "mutable" and therefore "corruptible."  He was able to undergo physical damage and physical pains, and ultimately death, and this according to nature which He chose to take on for the salvation of our race.

    God bless you,
  • Hello Dioscoros,

    Here is the difference. We believe that Adam (if he would have wanted by his free will) could felt starvation before fall.

    Khosrovik Targmanich, great Armenian theologian took part in Manzikert Council. Не wrote:

    «He [Christ] manifested in His flesh all human passions, spiritual and bodily, as much as He wished, when and where He wished. And to show ... that it was not for sins that these passions became allied with our nature, but were bestowed on us by the Creator for longevity as a help by nature.»

    He also wrote:

    «Again, if there were no spiritual and bodily passions in the creation of God, then Christ preferred to put on not the passionless creation he created, but ours, which became capable of passions through sins. Consequently, you and I recognized our sinful nature, which allegedly became preferable and desirable for Him, to be much more beautiful and perfect. So, why should I continue their false nonsense and mythical nonsense? Further, we will continue our philosophizing, which is the truth!»

    So, we believe that Jesus Christ can’t save our world using something, that appeared because of Adam sin.

    God bless you,
  • thanks for explaining.
    just remember that our Lord did not take a human nature which had original sin, because original sin is not inherited anyway.
    what is inherited is corruptability (not corruption), which is the tendency to sin, and also mortality.
    it was not until the latin scholar anselm started misunderstanding the writings of earlier church fathers in the 1,000s that people (in the church of the western roman empire that became the catholic church) started believing in the inheritence of sin itself.
    unfortunately many catholic scholars infiltrated the coptic orthodox church from the 1,700s onward so many copts mistakenly say that we inherit 'original sin'.

    but i am not an expert on the discussions of the 600s and 700s between the armenian orthodox church and the other churches, so i'll defer to you both on that one.
    i have taken Holy Communion in the armenian church though
  • Mabsoota, dear friend,

    You are right. Original sin is not a sin in the sense of personal guilt, but a distortion of our nature. Its main consequence is the "death of the soul", i.e. lack of fellowship with the Holy Spirit.

    Luckily, fellowship with God can be restored in baptism. In the general resurrection, the incorruption of the body will be also restored.

    God bless you,
  • Hello Mabsoota,

    Christ did not take on the tendency to sin, which is why His temptation was purely from without, and in no way from within.  St Mary did have this "tendency to sin" and was purified in the Annunciation, though she never committed any actions of sin.  What Christ took on was the blameless passions (not blameworthy passions) and in these blameless passions, He is able to be bodily corrupted by crucifixion and the like, which is distinct from how in the Resurrection, the glorified will be not just incorrupt qua "without corruption" but also "incorruptible" qua "unable to become corrupted in any sense."  This is why Our Lord is seen walking through walls after His Ressurection.

    It would be nice if Anselm started the ideas peculiar to him, but unfortunately he drew from errors that St Augustine made.  At the same time, we recognize that there is a legitimate transmission of original sin as taught by St Cyril of Alexandria and the rest of the Fathers, though we don't accept any innovations that came from other Holy Fathers like St Augustine, and we certainly distance ourselves from heretical figures who based their anthropology on errors.  The Coptic Orthodox Church has not been "infiltrated by catholic scholars," on the contrary, the Coptic Orthodox Church after this period was rebaptizing Latins who came out from schism.

    God bless you,
  • thanks, both, for the comments.
    i think it is possible to take saint augustine's writings and use them in an orthodox way, personally i think the main error was made by anselm, but i accept this is open to debate.
    as for infiltration by catholic teaching, i mean that in the 1700s and 1800s there were efforts from the roman church to change the coptic orthodox church, which is why we have a coptic catholic church. it is great to hear that many people from that group have gone back to the orthodox church.
    however it is also possible that a lot of the incorrect theology came from the anglican church from britain, which definately had a strategy of infiltrating the orthodox church by influencing young people who then took on the ideas in their teaching (especially in sunday schools). 
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