Cyril of Jerusalem

Last updated
Cyril of Jerusalem
Saint Cyril of Jerusalem.jpg
Bishop, Confessor and Doctor of the Church
Bornc. 313 AD
possibly near Caesarea Maritima, Syria Palaestina (Modern-day Israel)
Died386 AD (aged 73)
Jerusalem, Syria Palaestina
Venerated in Catholic Church
Eastern Catholic Churches
Eastern Orthodox Church
Oriental Orthodoxy
Anglican Communion
Lutheran Church
Feast March 18 (Byzantine Christianity, Catholic Church)
May 7 (Byzantine Christianity) (miracle)
Paremhat 22 (Coptic Christianity)

Cyril of Jerusalem (Greek : Κύριλλος Α΄ Ἱεροσολύμων, Kýrillos A Ierosolýmon; Latin : Cyrillus Hierosolymitanus) was a theologian of the early Church (c. 313 [1] 386 AD). About the end of 350 AD he succeeded Maximus as Bishop of Jerusalem, but was exiled on more than one occasion due to the enmity of Acacius of Caesarea, and the policies of various emperors. Cyril left important writings documenting the instruction of catechumens and the order of the Liturgy in his day.

Cyril is venerated as a saint within the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodox Church, and the Anglican Communion. In 1883, Cyril was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Leo XII. He is highly respected in the Palestinian Christian Community.

Life and character

Little is known of his life before he became a bishop; the assignment of his birth to the year 315 rests on conjecture. [2] According to Butler, Cyril was born at or near the city of Jerusalem, and was apparently well-read in both the writings of the early Christian theologians and the Greek philosophers. [3]

Cyril was ordained a deacon by Bishop Macarius of Jerusalem in about 335 and a priest some eight years later by Bishop Maximus. Around the end of 350 he succeeded Maximus in the See of Jerusalem, although the evidence for this relies on the Catecheses written by Cyril where he refers to himself as "bishop". Jerome also suggests Cyril was an Arian at this stage [4] [5] [6]

Episcopacy

Relations between Metropolitan Acacius of Caesarea and Cyril became strained. Acacius is presented as a leading Arian by the orthodox historians, and his opposition to Cyril in the 350s is attributed by these writers to this. Sozomen also suggests that the tension may have been increased by Acacius's jealousy of the importance assigned to Cyril's See by the Council of Nicaea, as well as by the threat posed to Caesarea by the rising influence of the seat of Jerusalem as it developed into the prime Christian holy place and became a centre of pilgrimage. [7]

Acacius charged Cyril with selling church property. [8] The city of Jerusalem had suffered drastic food shortages at which point church historians Sozomen and Theodoret report “Cyril secretly sold sacramental ornaments of the church and a valuable holy robe, fashioned with gold thread that the emperor Constantine had once donated for the bishop to wear when he performed the rite of Baptism”, [9] possibly to keep people from starving.

For two years, Cyril resisted Acacius' summons to account for his actions, but a church council held under Acacius's influence in 357 deposed Cyril in his absence, and Cyril took refuge with Silvanus, Bishop of Tarsus. [10] The following year, 359, in an atmosphere more hostile to Acacius, the Council of Seleucia reinstated Cyril and deposed Acacius. In 360 this was reversed by Emperor Constantius again, [11] and Cyril suffered another year's exile from Jerusalem until the Emperor Julian's accession allowed him to return in 361. [12]

Cyril was once again banished from Jerusalem by the Arian Emperor Valens in 367, but was able to return again at the accession of Emperor Gratian in 378, after which he remained undisturbed until his death in 386. In 380, Gregory of Nyssa came to Jerusalem on the recommendation of a council held at Antioch in the preceding year. He seemingly found the faith in good shape, but worried that the city was prey to parties and corrupt in morals. [13] Cyril's jurisdiction over Jerusalem was expressly confirmed by the First Council of Constantinople (381), at which he was present. [14] At that council he voted for acceptance of the term homoousios (which defined the nature between "God the Father", and "God the Son"), having been finally convinced that there was no better alternative. [4] His story is perhaps best representative of those Eastern bishops (perhaps a majority), initially mistrustful of Nicaea, who came to accept the creed of that council, and the doctrine of the homoousion . [15]

Theological position

Though his theology was at first somewhat indefinite in phraseology, he undoubtedly gave a thorough adhesion to the Nicene Orthodoxy. Even if he did avoid the debatable term homoousios , he expressed its sense in many passages, which exclude equally Patripassianism, Sabellianism, and the formula "there was a time when the Son was not" attributed to Arius. [13] In other points he takes the ordinary ground of the Eastern Fathers, as in the emphasis he lays on the freedom of the will, the autexousion (αὐτεξούσιον), and in his view of the nature of sin. To him sin is the consequence of freedom, not a natural condition. The body is not the cause, but the instrument of sin. The remedy for it is repentance, on which he insists. Like many of the Eastern Fathers, he focuses on high moral living as essential to true Christianity. His doctrine of the Resurrection is not quite so realistic as that of other Fathers; but his conception of the Church is decidedly empirical: the existing Church form is the true one, intended by Christ, the completion of the Church of the Old Testament. His interpretation of the Eucharist is disputed. Some[ who? ] claim he sometimes seems to approach the symbolic view, though he professes a strong realistic doctrine. The bread and wine are not mere elements, but the body and blood of Christ.

Cyril's writings are filled with the loving and forgiving nature of God which was somewhat uncommon during his time period. Cyril fills his writings with great lines of the healing power of forgiveness and the Holy Spirit, like “The Spirit comes gently and makes himself known by his fragrance. He is not felt as a burden for God is light, very light. Rays of light and knowledge stream before him as the Spirit approaches. The Spirit comes with the tenderness of a true friend to save, to heal, to teach, to counsel, to strengthen and to console”. Cyril himself followed God's message of forgiveness many times throughout his life. This is most clearly seen in his two major exiles where Cyril was disgraced and forced to leave his position and his people behind. He never wrote or showed any ill will towards those who wronged him. Cyril stressed the themes of healing and regeneration in his catechesis. [16]

Catechetical lectures

Cyril's famous twenty-three lectures given to catechumens in Jerusalem being prepared for, and after, baptism are best considered in two parts: the first eighteen lectures are common known as the Catechetical Lectures, Catechetical Orations or Catechetical Homilies, while the final five are often called the Mystagogic Catecheses (μυσταγωγικαί), because they deal with the mysteries (μυστήρια) i.e. Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist. [17]

His catechetical lectures (Greek Κατηχήσεις) [18] or in the translation predating the Greek sources Christian Palestinian Aramaic (local dialect of Jerusalem) [19] ’wlpn’ ‘teaching’ [20] are generally assumed, on the basis of limited evidence, to have been delivered either in Cyril's early years as a bishop, around 350, or perhaps in 348, while Cyril was still a priest, deputising for his bishop, Maximus. [21] The Catechetical Lectures were given in the Martyrion, the basilica erected by Constantine. [15] They contain instructions on the principal topics of Christian faith and practice, in a popular rather than scientific manner, full of a warm pastoral love and care for the catechumens to whom they were delivered. Each lecture is based upon a text of Scripture, and there is an abundance of Scriptural quotation throughout. In the Catechetical Lectures, parallel with the exposition of the Creed as it was then received in the Church of Jerusalem are vigorous polemics against pagan, Jewish, and heretical errors. They are of great importance for the light which they throw upon the method of instruction usual of that age, as well as upon the liturgical practises of the period, of which they give the fullest account extant. [14]

It is not only among us, who are marked with the name of Christ, that the dignity of faith is great; all the business of the world, even of those outside the Church, is accomplished by faith. By faith, marriage laws join in union persons who were strangers to one another. By faith, agriculture is sustained; for a man does not endure the toil involved unless he believes he will reap a harvest. By faith, seafaring men, entrusting themselves to a tiny wooden craft, exchange the solid element of the land for the unstable motion of the waves.” [22]

In the 13th lecture, Cyril of Jerusalem discusses the Crucifixion and burial of Jesus Christ. The main themes that Cyril focuses on in these lectures are Original sin and Jesus’ sacrificing himself to save us from our sins. Also, the burial and Resurrection which occurred three days later proving the divinity of Jesus Christ and the loving nature of the Father. Cyril was very adamant about the fact that Jesus went to his death with full knowledge and willingness. Not only did he go willingly but throughout the process he maintained his faith and forgave all those who betrayed him and engaged in his execution. Cyril writes “who did not sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth, who, when he was reviled, did not revile, when he suffered did not threaten”. [23] This line by Cyril shows his belief in the selflessness of Jesus especially in this last final act of Love. The lecture also gives a sort of insight to what Jesus may have been feeling during the execution from the whippings and beatings, to the crown of thorns, to the nailing on the cross. Cyril intertwines the story with the messages Jesus told throughout his life before his execution relating to his final act. For example, Cyril writes “I gave my back to those who beat me and my cheeks to blows; and my face I did not shield from the shame of spitting”. [24] This clearly reflects the teachings of Jesus to turn the other cheeks and not raising your hands against violence because violence just begets violence begets violence. The segment of the Catechesis really reflects the voice Cyril maintained in all of his writing. The writings always have the central message of the Bible; Cyril is not trying to add his own beliefs in reference to religious interpretation and remains grounded in true biblical teachings.

Danielou sees the baptism rite as carrying eschatological overtones, in that "to inscribe for baptism is to write one's name in the register of the elect in heaven". [25]

Eschatology

Oded Irshai observed that Cyril lived in a time of intense apocalyptic expectation, when Christians were eager to find apocalyptic meaning in every historical event or natural disaster. Cyril spent a good part of his episcopacy in intermittent exile from Jerusalem. Abraham Malherbe argued that when a leader's control over a community is fragile, directing attention to the imminent arrival of the antichrist effectively diverts attention from that fragility. [26]

Soon after his appointment, Cyril in his Letter to Constantius [27] of 351 recorded the appearance of a cross of light in the sky above Golgotha, witnessed by the whole population of Jerusalem. The Greek church commemorates this miracle on the 7th of May. Though in modern times the authenticity of the Letter has been questioned, on the grounds that the word homoousios occurs in the final blessing, many scholars believe this may be a later interpolation, and accept the letter's authenticity on the grounds of other pieces of internal evidence. [28]

Cyril interpreted this as both a sign of support for Constantius, who was soon to face the usurper Magnentius, and as announcing the Second Coming, which was soon to take place in Jerusalem. Not surprisingly, in Cyril's eschatological analysis, Jerusalem holds a central position. [29]

Matthew 24:6 speaks of "wars and reports of wars", as a sign of the End Times, and it is within this context that Cyril read Julian's war with the Persians. Matthew 24:7 speaks of "earthquakes from place to place", and Jerusalem experienced an earthquake in 363 at a time when Julian was attempting to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. [26] Embroiled in a rivalry with Acacius of Caesarea over the relative primacy of their respective sees, Cyril saw even ecclesial discord a sign of the Lord's coming. [30] Catechesis 15 would appear to cast Julian as the antichrist, although Irshai views this as a later interpolation. [26]

“In His first coming, He endured the Cross, despising shame; in His second, He comes attended by a host of Angels, receiving glory. We rest not then upon His first advent only, but look also for His second." [31] He looked forward to the Second Advent which would bring an end to the world and then the created world to be re-made anew. At the Second Advent he expected to rise in the resurrection if it came after his time on earth. [32]

Mystagogic Catecheses

There has been considerable controversy over the date and authorship of the Mystagogic Catecheses, addressed to the newly baptized, in preparation for the reception of Holy Communion, with some scholars having attributed them to Cyril's successor as Bishop of Jerusalem, John. [33] Many scholars would currently view the Mystagogic Catecheses as being written by Cyril, but in the 370s or 380s, rather than at the same time as the Catechetical Lectures. [34]

According to the Spanish pilgrim Egeria, these mystagogical catecheses were given to the newly baptised in the Church of the Anastasis in the course of Easter Week. [15]

See also

Related Research Articles

Arianism is a nontrinitarian Christological doctrine which holds that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, who was begotten by God the Father, and is distinct from the Father, but the Son is also God the Son but not co-eternal with God the Father. Arian theology was first attributed to Arius, a Christian presbyter in Alexandria of Egypt. The term Arian is derived from the name Arius and — like the term Christian —, it was not what they called themselves, but rather a term used by outsiders. The nature of Arius's teachings and his supporters were opposed to the theological views held by Homoousian Christians, regarding the nature of the Trinity and the nature of Christ. The Arian concept of Christ is based on the belief that the Son of God did not always exist but was begotten within time by God the Father, therefore Jesus was not co-eternal with God the Father.

Athanasius of Alexandria Patriarch of Alexandria

Athanasius of Alexandria, also called Athanasius the Great, Athanasius the Confessor or, primarily in the Coptic Orthodox Church, Athanasius the Apostolic, was the 20th bishop of Alexandria. His intermittent episcopacy spanned 45 years, of which over 17 encompassed five exiles, when he was replaced on the order of four different Roman emperors. Athanasius was a Christian theologian, a Church Father, the chief defender of Trinitarianism against Arianism, and a noted Egyptian leader of the fourth century.

Ecumenical council

An ecumenical council is a conference of ecclesiastical dignitaries and theological experts convened to discuss and settle matters of Church doctrine and practice in which those entitled to vote are convoked from the whole world (oikoumene) and which secures the approbation of the whole Church.

Acacius was the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople from 472 to 489. Acacius was practically the first prelate throughout the Eastern Orthodoxy and renowned for ambitious participation in the Chalcedonian controversy.

Euphemius of Constantinople was Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople (490–496). Theophanes calls him Euthymius. Prior to his appointment, Euphemius was a presbyter of Constantinople, administrator of a hospital for the poor at Neapolis, unsuspected of any Eutychian leanings, and is described as learned and very virtuous.

Pope Dioscorus I of Alexandria Patriarch of Alexandria

Pope Dioscorus I of Alexandria was the 25th Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark. He was deposed by the Council of Chalcedon in 451 but was recognized as Patriarch by the Coptic Church until his death. He died on the Island of Gangra, Paphlagonia, in September 454. He is venerated as a saint by the Coptic and other Oriental Orthodox churches.

Acacius of Caesarea in Greek Ἀκάκιος Mονόφθαλμος was a Christian bishop, the pupil and successor in the Palestinian see of Caesarea of Eusebius AD 340, whose life he wrote. He is remembered chiefly for his bitter opposition to St. Cyril of Jerusalem and for the part he was afterwards enabled to play in the more acute stages of the Arian controversy. In the famous twenty-first oration of St. Gregory Nazianzen, the author speaks of him as being "the tongue of the Arians".

Semi-Arianism was a position regarding the relationship between God the Father and the Son of God, adopted by some 4th century Christians. Though the doctrine modified the teachings of Arianism, it still rejected the doctrine that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are co-eternal, and of the same substance, or consubstantial, and was therefore considered to be heretical by many contemporary Christians.

Holy Qurbana

The Holy Qurbana or Holy Qurbono, refers to the Eucharist as celebrated in Syriac Christianity. This includes various Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches. Syriac Christianity consists of two liturgical rites, the East Syriac Rite and the West Syriac Rite. The main Anaphora of the East Syriac tradition is the Holy Qurbana of Saints Addai and Mari, while that of the West Syriac tradition is the Divine Liturgy of Saint James.

The Council of Seleucia was an early Christian church synod at Seleucia Isauria.

John II was bishop of Jerusalem from AD 387 to AD 417. John II succeeded to the episcopal throne of Jerusalem on the death of Cyril in 386. He was the author, according to an increasing number of modern scholars, of the five Mystagogical Catecheses traditionally ascribed to his predecessor Cyril.

The Arian controversy was a series of Christian theological disputes that arose between Arius and Athanasius of Alexandria, two Christian theologians from Alexandria, Egypt. The most important of these controversies concerned the substantial relationship between God the Father and God the Son.

In 359, the Roman Emperor Constantius II requested a church council, at Constantinople, of both the eastern and western bishops, to resolve the split at the Council of Seleucia. According to Socrates Scholasticus, only about 50 of the Eastern bishops, and an unspecified number of the western ones, actually attended.

Saint Maximus of Jerusalem was an early Christian saint and bishop of Jerusalem from roughly 333 AD to his death in roughly 350 AD. He was the third bishop of Jerusalem named Maximus, the other two being in the latter half of the 2nd century.

Christianity in the 5th century

In the 5th century in Christianity, there were many developments which led to further fracturing of the State church of the Roman Empire. Emperor Theodosius II called two synods in Ephesus, one in 431 and one in 449, that addressed the teachings of Patriarch of Constantinople Nestorius and similar teachings. Nestorius had taught that Christ's divine and human nature were distinct persons, and hence Mary was the mother of Christ but not the mother of God. The Council rejected Nestorius' view causing many churches, centered on the School of Edessa, to a Nestorian break with the imperial church. Persecuted within the Roman Empire, many Nestorians fled to Persia and joined the Sassanid Church thereby making it a center of Nestorianism. By the end of the 5th century, the global Christian population was estimated at 10-11 million. In 451 the Council of Chalcedon was held to clarify the issue further. The council ultimately stated that Christ's divine and human nature were separate but both part of a single entity, a viewpoint rejected by many churches who called themselves miaphysites. The resulting schism created a communion of churches, including the Armenian, Syrian, and Egyptian churches, that is today known as Oriental Orthodoxy. In spite of these schisms, however, the imperial church still came to represent the majority of Christians within the Roman Empire.

Christianity in late antiquity Christianity in the Roman Empire (c.313 - c.476)

Christianity in late antiquity traces Christianity during the Christian Roman Empire – the period from the rise of Christianity under Emperor Constantine, until the fall of the Western Roman Empire. The end-date of this period varies because the transition to the sub-Roman period occurred gradually and at different times in different areas. One may generally date late ancient Christianity as lasting to the late 6th century and the re-conquests under Justinian of the Byzantine Empire, though a more traditional end-date is 476, the year in which Odoacer deposed Romulus Augustus, traditionally considered the last western emperor.

Church Fathers Group of ancient and influential Christian theologians and writers

The Church Fathers, Early Church Fathers, Christian Fathers, or Fathers of the Church were ancient and influential Christian theologians and writers who established the intellectual and doctrinal foundations of Christianity. There is no definitive list. The historical period during which they flourished is referred to by scholars as the Patristic Era ending approximately around AD 700.

The Diocese of Scythopolis is a titular see in Israel/Jordan and was the Metropolitan of the Roman province of Palestina II. It was centered on Modern Beth Shean (Bêsân).

Heortasius was a 4th-century bishop of Sardis and attendee at the Councils of Seleucia and Constantinople. He was a proto-Catholic who was sent into exile by the Semi-Arian faction following their victory at the afore-mentioned Councils.

Arian Creeds are the creeds of Arian Christians, developed mostly in the fourth century when Arianism was one of the main varieties of Christianity. A creed is a brief summary of the beliefs of a group of religious practitioners, expressed in a more or less standardized format. Arian creeds are a subset of Christian Creeds.

References

  1. Walsh, Michael, ed. Butler's Lives of the Saints. (HarperCollins Publishers: New York, 1991), pp 83.
  2. Jackson, Samuel Macauley,ed., "Cyril of Jerusalem", New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, (3rd ed.) p.334, London and New York, Funk & Wagnalls, 1914
  3. Butler, Alban. The Lives or the Fathers, Martyrs and Other Principal Saints Vol. III, D. & J. Sadlier, & Company, 1864
  4. 1 2
    • "Lives of the Saints, For Every Day of the Year" edited by Rev. Hugo Hoever, S.O.Cist., Ph.D., New York: Catholic Book Publishing Co., 1955, p. 112
  5. a.
  6. Jerome gives a dark account of this appointment, claiming that Cyril was an Arian, and "was offered the see on Maximus' death on the condition that he would repudiate his ordination at the hands of that Bishop”.(Yarnold (2000), p4) Jerome had personal reasons for being malicious, though, and, the story may simply be a case of Cyril conforming to proper church order. Young (2004), p186
  7. Sozomen, HE, 4.25
  8. Frances Young with Andrew Teal, From Nicaea to Chalcedon: A Guide to the Literature and its Background’’, (2nd edn, 2004), p187
  9. Drijvers 2004, p. 65.
  10. Di Berardino, Angelo. 1992. Encyclopedia of the early church. New York: Oxford University Press. , p. 312
  11. The reasons for this reversal are not entirely clear. According to Theodoret, (HE 2.23), Acacius informed the emperor that one of the things sold by Cyril was a 'holy robe' dedicated by Constantine himself, which consequently turned Constantius against Cyril. The truth of this is not clear though.
  12. Norris 2007, p. 77.
  13. 1 2 Chapman, John. "Saint Cyril of Jerusalem." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 4. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908. 16 Mar. 2015
  14. 1 2 Foley, Leonard O.F.M., "St. Cyril of Jerusalem", Saint of the Day, (revised by Pat McCloskey O.F.M.), Franciscan Media
  15. 1 2 3 Andrew Louth, 'Palestine', in Frances Young et al., The Cambridge History of Early Christian Literature, (2010), p284
  16. Hellemo, Geir. Adventus Domini: Eschatological Thought in 4th Century Apses and Catecheses, BRILL, 1989 ISBN   9789004088368
    • "The Penguin Dictionary of Saints, 3rd Edition", Donald Attwater and Catherine Rachel John, New York: Peguin Putnam Inc., 1995, p. 101
  17. The Catechetical Lectures of S. Cyril
  18. Sebastian S. Brock, Review of A. Desreumaux, Codex sinaiticus Zosimi rescriptus(Lausanne, 1997), in Journal of Theological Studies NS 50, 1999, 765.
  19. Title of the fifth catechese in Sinai, Georgian NF 71; https://sinai.library.ucla.edu
  20. The main evidence for this dating is that at one point Cyril casually refers to the heresy of Mani as being seventy years old (Cat 6.20). Andrew Louth, 'Palestine', in Frances Young et al., The Cambridge History of Early Christian Literature, (2010), p284
  21. Cyril, Catechesis V
  22. Drijvers 2004, p. 7.
  23. Drijvers 2004, p. 13-14.
  24. Bergin, Liam. O Propheticum Lavacrum, Gregorian Biblical BookShop, 1999 ISBN   9788876528279
  25. 1 2 3 Kalleres, Dayna S., City of Demons: Violence, Ritual, and Christian Power in Late Antiquity, Univ of California Press, 2015 ISBN   9780520956841
  26. English translation is in Telfer (1955)
  27. Frances Young with Andrew Teal, From Nicaea to Chalcedon: A Guide to the Literature and its Background’’, (2nd edn, 2004), p192
  28. Cain, Andrew and Lenski, Noel Emmanuel. The Power of Religion in Late Antiquity, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2009 ISBN   9780754667254
  29. Farrow, Douglas. "Rediscovering an Eschatological Perspective", The Oxford Handbook of Eschatology, (Jerry L. Walls, ed.), Oxford University Press, USA, 2007 ISBN   9780199727636
  30. Cyril & Gifford 1894.
  31. Froom 1950, pp. 412–415.
  32. Swaans (1942) makes the main case for an authorship by John; Doval (2001) argues in detail against Swaans's case. The arguments are summarised in Frances Young with Andrew Teal, From Nicaea to Chalcedon: A Guide to the Literature and its Background’’, (2nd edn, 2004), p189
  33. See, for example, Yarnold (1978). Frances Young with Andrew Teal, From Nicaea to Chalcedon: A Guide to the Literature and its Background’’, (2nd edn, 2004), p190

Sources

Translations

Further reading

Religious titles
Preceded by
Maximus III
Bishop of Jerusalem
350–386
Succeeded by
John II