Cyril of Alexandria

When Cyril [of Alexandria] writes in his commentary on the Gospel of John, he sees another dimension to the Resurrection. The Resurrection was evidence that Christ was a unique kind of man. Christ, he writes, “presented himself to God the Father as the first fruits of humanity…. He opened up for us the way that the human race had not known before.” Before Christ came into the world “human nature was incapable of destroying death,” but Christ was superior to the tribulations of the world and “more powerful” than death. Hence he became the first man who was able to conquer death and corruption. By showing himself stronger than death, Christ extends to us the power of his Resurrection “because the one that overcame death was one of us.” Then Cyril adds the sentence, “If he conquered as God, to us it is nothing; but if he conquered as man we conquered in Him. For he is to us the second Adam come from heaven according to the Scriptures.” This is an extraordinary statement and to my knowledge unprecedented. Cyril asserts that Christ triumphed over death because of the kind of human being he was. His human nature makes Christ unique.

Robert Louis Wilken, The Spirit of Early Christian Thought. Seeking the Face of God, 120-21.

Are we saying that knowledge is eternal life? Are we saying that to know the one true and living God will suffice to give us complete security for the future without need of anything else? Then how is “faith apart from works dead”? When we speak of faith, we mean the true knowledge of God and nothing else, since knowledge comes by faith. The prophet Isaiah tells us this: “If you do not believe, neither shall you understand.” But he is not talking about a knowledge that consists in barren speculations, which is entirely worthless. For one of the holy disciples said, “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe – and shudder.” What then shall we say to this? How is it that Christ speaks the truth when he says that eternal life is the knowledge of God the Father, the one true God, and with him of the Son? I think, indeed, we must answer that the saying of the Savior is completely true. For this knowledge is life, laboring as it were in birth of the whole meaning of the mystery and granting to us participation in the mystery of the Eucharist, whereby we are joined to the living and life-giving Word. And for this reason, I think, Paul says that the Gentiles are made fellow members of the body and fellow partakers of Christ, inasmuch as they partake in his blessed body and blood. And our members may in this sense be conceived of as being members of Christ. This knowledge, then, which also brings to us the Eucharist by the Spirit, is life. For it dwells in our hearts, reshaping those who receive it into sonship with him and molding them into incorruption and piety toward God through life, according to the Gospel. Our Lord Jesus Christ, then, knowing that the knowledge of the one true God brings to us and promotes our union with the blessings of which we have spoken, says that it is eternal life. It is the mother and nurse of eternal life, being in its power and nature pregnant with those things that cause life and lead to life.

Saint Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on the Gospel of John, 11.5 , in Joel C. Elowsky (ed). John 11-21 (Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture) 231.

Thomas, when he touched the flesh, believed that he had touched God, saying, “My Lord and my God.” For they all confessed but one Christ, so as not to make him two. Do you therefore believe him? And do you believe in such a way that Jesus Christ, the Lord of all, both Only Begotten and firstborn, is both creator of all things and preserver of humanity and that the same person is framer of the whole world and afterward redeemer of humankind?

John Cassian, On the Incarnation of the Lord against Nestorius 6.19, quoted in Joel C. Elowsky (ed), John 11-21, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture New Testament IVb (InterVarsity Press, 200) 372-373.

With good reason, then, we are accustomed to have sacred meetings in churches on the eighth day. And, to adopt the language of allegory, as the idea necessarily demands, we indeed close the doors, but Christ still visits us and appears to us all, both invisibly as God and visibly in the body. He allows us to touch his holy flesh and gives it to us. For through the grace of God we are admitted to partake of the blessed Eucharist, receiving Christ into our hands, to the intent that we may firmly believe that he did in truth raise up the temple of his body. … Participation in the divine mysteries, in addition to filling us with divine blessedness, is a true confession and memorial of Christ’s dying and rising again for us and for our sake. Let us, therefore, after touching Christ’s body, avoid all unbelief in him as utter ruin and rather be found well grounded in the full assurance of faith.

Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on the Gospel of John 12.I, quoted in Joel C. Elowsky (ed), John 11-21, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture New Testament IVb (InterVarsity Press, 200) 369.

A blessed Pascha to all celebrating it today, and a blessed end of the Octave to the rest of us! (I’ve given up trying to work out precisely who follows what calendar by now).

What, therefore, is the meaning of “hallowed be your name”?…

When it is our settled conviction and belief that he who by nature is God over all is Holy of the Holies, we confess his glory and supreme majesty. We then receive his fear into our mind and lead upright and blameless lives. By this we become holy ourselves, and we may be able to be near unto the holy God. … The prayer is, therefore, “May your name be kept holy in us, in our minds and wills.” This is the significance of the word hallowed. If a person says, “Our Father, hallowed by your name,” he is not requesting any addition to be made to God’s holiness. He rather asks that he may possess such a mind and faith to feel that his name is honorable and holy. The act is the source of life and the cause of every blessing. How must being this influenced by God be worthy of the highest estimation and useful for the salvation of the soul?

Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on Luke, Homily 72, quoted in Arthur A Just (ed), Luke, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament III, (Intervarsity Press, 2003) 186.