In this very interesting passage from the work of St Severus, he wants to express several important points. These are:
- The human nature does not become mixed with sin as a natural element and we are to avoid saying that the human nature is “in sin”.
- It is necessary to understand that the Scriptures and the Fathers teach that human corruption means two things.
- It means the moral corruption of sin which is a choice of the will and which was never in Christ.
- It means the natural human frailty, weakness, blameless passions and mortality, in which Christ shared.
- When the Fathers say that our human nature is corrupted they mean that it is liable to this natural suffering and death in which Christ shared, and not that it is sinful by some natural mixture with sin.
Translation from the work of St Severus of Antioch by Father Peter Farrington
But when it comes to sin, the Manicheans and those who are unreasonable like them said, in their blasphemous delirium, that it is mixed, as a natural element, with the human nature. And that is why we have said that we should not call the body “in sin”, but avoid the suspicious and unusual nature of the expression….
Now, since your holiness has absolutely defined the possibility of not declaring suffering as corruption in any way, we mean those which do not fall under the guilt of sin, it is these which concern the present research, because we all profess the passions of sin to be called corruption. I will make a brief statement on this subject.
Well, in regard to any wound, or blow or weakening, or any alteration, disease, destruction, or complete loss, as we see not only in the bodies of men, but also in the bodies of animals and plants, and in seeds, I find the Holy Scripture resorting to the invariable use of φθόρα, διαφθορά, φθάρμα or designating them by a word expressing φθείρω or Βίαφθέίρω or άπόλλνμι.
And with regard to the corruption of sin, the origin of which is the evil intention of man, it is superfluous to cite testimony, because, in this respect, the profession of all is unanimous, as I have said above, and without any hesitation. It is, however, easy to show immediately, by the book of Genesis, that it is by this same word that the passion that dwells in sin is so named: “And God saw that the earth was κατξφθαρμένη, because all flesh κατέφθειρεν his way on the earth”.
And immediately we can see that it is by the same name that he calls the judgment and complete annihilation of all flesh by the flood. He says, “Behold, I will corrupt it, and the earth.” And to clarify what he is speaking about, he added, “And here I am, I will bring the flood, the waters on the earth, καταφθέίpai any flesh having in itself breath of life from under the sky; and all that is on the earth will perish”. There is also the chastisement sent by God, who chastises for his purposes and brings about death, to suppress evil and to lighten the torment of sinners in the coming age. He did not express it otherwise than by the word φθείρειν.
And again, in the book of Exodus, concerning the plague of grasshoppers, this is written: “There were no such locusts before, and there will be none like them afterwards. And they covered the face of the earth and the earth άφθάρη. And they devoured all the grass of the earth and all the fruit of its trees that had been spared by hail, and there was no greenery to the trees nor grass of the field in all the land of Egypt”.
And the pain that is felt in the body because of excessive fatigue and weakening, and perhaps the resulting death, the divine Scripture calls it by the same name of corruption. In fact, as Moses had been busy for a whole day with the inquiries and judgments of the people, and had calmed the disagreements between the opponents, Jethro, his father-in-law, seeing his excessive labors, said this, καταφθαρήσή, of an intolerable φθορά, as well as this whole people who is with you. This task is too heavy for you; you can not accomplish it alone”. And after advising him to establish yet more judges and to make assessors in the hearing of the causes, he says: “And they will comfort you and they will carry it with you”. Who does not know that it was for the benefit of his soul that Moses, in the service of God, led the people, gave his judgments, and endured such a difficult task?
What is more to the advantage of someone than to serve God for the good of those he leads and judges, who enjoy his divine voice, the solicitude of his commandment and the diligence of the support he gives them to the equal of a father. Nevertheless, this painful task the Scripture also calls corruption, and not merely corruption, but intolerable corruption!
Scripture says: “You will be corrupted by intolerable corruption.” Now Moses, the servant of God, accepted the words of Jethro, obeyed them, and put them into action. I have made this known now, because your Holiness, when he declared in an absolute way: [Julian] “Now the sufferings are not called corruption, nor by the secular sages”, he also added the following: [Julian] “Especially when the suffering does not dominate the one who wants to suffer, but becomes a remedy for those who suffer”.
Now, about the sufferings of Christ, the secular sages have never said a word, but they have always spoken of other men beset by sufferings. In judging what is happening among men, we do not find others who have burned and been penetrated with divine love, who have suffered voluntarily for their personal well-being and their amendment and those of their relatives, – without having been however neither dominated, conquered or depressed by suffering, – to the same extent as the holy martyrs and, before them, the prophets and patriarchs, one of whom, and most notable, was Moses. And the holy Scripture calls fatigue, and the weakening which must naturally result from it, corruption of the body of the one who was, in the service of God and in the care for the members of his tribe, of an assiduity of such an extent that a whole day could not suffice for him, although he was tired and had not enjoyed any respite!
But I come back again to the peremptory word that your piety has formulated: that suffering is not called corruption. For now the Holy Scripture calls bruises, cuts and bodily amputations corruption, even in animals, in which, because of their unreasonable character, there is no guilt or responsibility resulting from sin, despite the symbols inspired by the body, which the book of the Law uses to warn us to offer and to consecrate to God, in sacrifice, our healthy and immaculate souls; as Paul also said, in writing to the Romans, that “we must also offer our bodies a living, holy and approved sacrifice of God.”
Thus it is written in the Book of Leviticus, “A blind animal, or one with a crushed or amputated tongue, or suffering from an ulcer, languor, or leprosy, or having scabies, they shall not offer them to the Lord, and they shall not not make them an oblation to the Lord on the altar. You will make a sacrifice of an ox or lamb with a cut ear or amputated tail, but they will not be approved for the accomplishment of a desire. And the castrated animal, crushed, cut or torn, you will not offer it to the Lord; you will not do it in your own country by the hand of strangers, you will not fulfill any oblation of any of these victims to your God, because there are in them φθάρματα.”
The prophet Malachi made a similar declaration: “You bring for the oblation the fruit of rapine, the lame and the sick; if you offer them for sacrifice, I will not accept them from your hands, says the Lord Almighty. And cursing him who could, while possessing in his flock a male, offers it in a vow and sacrifices to the Lord in his place an animal διεφθαρμένον “. Types of infirmities that afflict the body are also called this way. He says indeed in Deuteronomy, enumerating the threats to those who transgress the Law: “The Lord will strike you with stupor, with fever, with cold, with scabies, with murder, άνεμοφθορία and blight, and they will pursue you until they make you perish”. And in the same book he called by the same term the decrepitude of old age, the wrinkles of the face, and the obscurity which strikes the eye; because, in fact, this suffering, common to old age, did not appear on the face of Moses until his death. He expresses himself thus: “Moses was a hundred and thirty when he died; his eyes were not worn down and his jaws ονκ έφθάρησαν .” And in other codices there is “And his face ονκ έφθάρη”.
In the Book of Judges, the fact that the enemies reaped and cut down the fruits is described in the same way: “When Israel had sown, the Midianites, the Amalekites, and the sons of the East, went up and stood in front of them, διέφθεφαν the fruits of the earth until the entry of Gaza and they did not leave wheat harvest standing in Israel”. And also speaking about those who had fallen, killed in battle in a pitched battle, the same book of Judges resorts to the term “corruption.” “And the sons of Benjamin went out of the city and διέφθειραν on the ground that day – twenty-two thousand men of Israel”. And a little further on, “The children of Israel came to blows with the children of Benjamin the second day; and Benjamin made an exit from Gabaa against him; and the sons of Benjamin διέφθεφαν on the ground over eighteen thousand men of the people.”
And David, the righteous man and the prophet of God, who was harassed by Saul in an unjust manner, as he was about to shut himself up in the city of Ceila, said, as is it written in the first book of the Kingdoms which is the book of Samuel, “And David said, Lord, God of Israel, your servant has understood that Saul intends to come to Ceila, for διαφθραι the city because of me, in the event that it would be closed. And now will Saul come down, as your servant has heard? Lord, God of Israel, make it known to your servant.”
And again in the second book of the Kingdoms, according to the Greeks, which is of the same Samuel, this is what is written: “And David sent Joab with his servants and all Israel, and διέφθΐΐραν the sons of Aminon and besieged Rabbah.” And further again, as Joab was struggling with the city of Abel, and a wise woman had shouted from the wall that the whole city should not be destroyed with its inhabitants, saying, “You have the intention of destroying the city, the mother of cities in Israel!”, in response, Joab says,”Far from me! I will not annihilate it nor the διαφθβρώ.”
Thus the total subjugation and annihilation of the cities are described by the divine Scripture by the term διαφθορά, and this does not mean, as your Piety says, the beginning or the passage to corruption. And further still, in the same book, it is in the same way, and not in another, that the divine Scripture calls the plague sent by God to the whole people, as a correction and punishment in the judgment which reaches the sinners: “And the Lord sent a pestilence in Israel from the morning until the sixth hour, and the plague took hold of the people, and it killed among the people, from Dan to Beersheba, seventy thousand men: the angel stretched out his hand on Jerusalem for the διαφθβΐραι, and the Lord pityed himself in this calamity; and he said to the angel who was in the process of διαφθείραν the people: ‘Suffice, now! Take away your hand.”
And after such penance, as a fearful and divine vision had appeared to him, he added, “I saw this grandiose apparition, and there was no strength left in me; my radiance changed to φβορά and I did not keep my vigor! “He also called this commendable suffering corruption, that is to say, that of the alteration of its brightness, that is to say the appearance and aspect of his body, the weakening and lack of strength that had come only for the benefit of the one who had suffered and of all those who were to read his divine book and form the Church of our great God and Savior the Christ. Indeed, this suffering taught clearly, and the prophet himself and those who subsequently and still now understand it, that it does not belong to human power, even purified by penance, to receive visions and mysteries of God, if he does not help and support weakness; that it is also necessary that in every way those who are made worthy of even hearing only, should be purified and trained in chastity, – I do not speak of seeing, besides, like him, – similar revelations!
How, then, does all this agree with the definition of your Piety, which is established peremptorily as a decree, and which declares that such sufferings are not called corruption? If I believe it is necessary to omit a great deal of evidence on this subject, so as not to give our statement an unlimited extension, it seems to me opportune and necessary, as far as it seems to me, to quote a single text taken from the New Testament.
Paul, who daily died for Christ, who loved him with this degree of intensity and ardor, and who rushed for him into danger to the point of saying: “Who will separate me from the love of Christ? Tribulation? Imprisonment? Hunger? Persecution ? Nakedness? Danger? The sword?”And who, elsewhere, enumerated in more detail the following: “Much more in pain, superabundantly by blows, many times in the dangers of death. In the danger on the rivers, in the danger caused by the robbers, in the danger on the part of those of my race, in the danger on the part of the pagans, in the danger in the cities, in the danger to the desert, in danger on the sea, in danger from the false brothers! In toil and fatigue, in many vigils, in hunger and thirst, in repeated fasting, in cold and nakedness”- called “corruption of the external man in him”, that is to say, of his body, all these sufferings so glorious, desired, and ardently loved, healed the whole Church.
He said: “But even if the external man in us διαφθείρεται, the inner man on the other hand is renewed.” It is in commenting on this passage that the wise John, Bishop of Constantinople, in the Commentary of the first letter to the Corinthians in the eighth homily, says: [Chrysostom] “We do not fail because of this, but even if the outward man in us is corrupted, the inner man on the other hand is renewed from day to day. How does it corrupt? When he is struck and suffers persecution, when he bears innumerable evils! On the other hand, the inner man is renewed from day to day by hope, by faith, and by the disposition of thoughts which now makes us despise evils. Indeed, the more evils which the body suffers, the better is the hope that the soul acquires and the more it shines in the image of the duly tested gold.”
If, therefore, the precious sufferings of the saints, the bodily wounds sustained for piety, bruises, and evils of all kinds are so clearly called by Scripture by the name of φθορά or διαφθορά, or by the word of διαφθείρομαι because it is in a corruptible, punishable and mortal body that all this has been endured, and if the eminent doctors who have explained it have used the same names and the same words, how shall I feel an unnecessary fear and will I not call φθορά the sufferings that have occurred in the corruptible and earthly body of the blessed apostles, prophets and martyrs?
Because it is a great power that emanates in it and nothing that is despicable. The great Paul also said it: “We have this treasure in a clay vessel, so that it appears that the greatness of this power comes to you from God.” He who, from the corruption of the sufferings of the members who had been tormented in every way and lacerated by torment, brought forth rivers of incorruptibility and gifts of the Spirit and healing; who for this purpose incarnated himself, without being changed, into a flesh consubstantial with ours and suffering like ours, and assured in all, without sin, the resemblance with us, so that experiencing all the irreproachable sufferings of our death and our burial, he conquered and destroyed their power and who, by really taking action and in fact their violence, he transmitted to us the victory also, as the firstborn of our race; In this way we may despise suffering with force and defy death with courage, and may we hasten to the incorruptability and immutality of the resurrection, having before our eyes the firstborn from the dead.
That is why, after being persecuted many times by the Jews, he told the apostles and the disciples, “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you too.” And he who appeared before the unjust assembly of the pontiffs, and who was scourged before Governor Pilate, told them beforehand that they would endure the same evils by saying, “For they will deliver you to the Sanhedrites and flog you in their synagogues and they will translate you before governors and kings.” He who was covered with shame and innumerable insults, prophesied in the same way and taught: “When they persecute you, they will insult and falsely say of you all kinds of evil because of me, rejoice, and be glad, because your reward is great in heaven; that is how they persecuted the prophets who preceded you.”
And he who was struck and finally killed because of our iniquities and who suffered all this in the flesh because of us, he commanded us to be bold, saying, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but can not kill the soul”, not that he has achieved this in words and made it all easy as God only, but also as a man, become consubstantial with us without undergoing change, suffering like us in the flesh and resurrecting as a leader in the struggle and fighting for piety. And from that moment on, he lowered himself to this total stripping so that by taking those qualities that are ours and dying of our death in a passible and mortal body, he also rose there, becoming for us a road and a gateway to the incorruptibility that stems from the resurrection.
Therefore, let us not feel any fear to call a corruptible a passible, mortal body, subject to sufferings causing corruption, which are liable to being struck, injure and harm the flesh, but are sinless and pure of malicious guilt; by undergoing them indeed, Emmanuel has destroyed their power, and even the corruption, by the resurrection, has changed into incorruptibility. It is indeed what teaches us to think and to say thus and to profess by the words of Saint Cyril, in the Letter to Acace, on the question of Azazel, when he wrote the following:
[Cyril] “The choir of the holy angels, also, in their multitude, was astonished when they saw in a form which is ours, the king of glory and the Lord of the powers, and they said: ‘Who is he? which comes from Edom, that is, from the earth, his red-colored clothes, from Bosra? Now Bosra is translated by flesh, or by tribulation or oppression. And besides they asked him: ‘What are these blows in your hands, and he said to them,’ Those of whom I was struck in the house of a friend’. Likewise, with Thomas the unbeliever, in a way completely consistent with the economy, even after he was raised from the dead, when he showed his hands and the marks of the nails that were there, He also urged him to touch the holes in his side, and so when he ascended to heaven, he persuaded the holy angels that it was right that Israel the beloved had been banished and rejected from his intimacy. To this end he showed his garment stained with blood and in his hands the wounds that remained there. In fact, by his resurrection from the dead, he had stripped himself of corruption, and with it all that it entails; but it was that, as I said, according to the economy, it be now shown to the Principalities and to the Dominions who are in heaven, through the means of the Church, the infinitely varied wisdom of God, that he had prepared before the ages and realized in Christ, as the Divine Paul wrote.”
These words are clearly spoken and they lucidly proclaim the truth. We do not need, therefore, to comment on the contents of the Letter to Succensus and the Treatise on the Pious Theodosius, or start a debate in vain and to conjecture a meaning to be ascribed to them as we do for unknown texts. It is necessary to take the one who speaks himself as interpreter of his words! Indeed, as the Doctor said, once raised from the dead, he stripped himself of corruption, no longer having a passable body, but incorruptible and immortal, and no longer subject to hunger, to fatigue, and to other sufferings naturally capable of corrupting, nor to the infirmities of the flesh, although, even after the incorruptibility deriving from the resurrection, he showed the places of his bruises, appeared to be affected by them, and made it possible to feel them by touch. He said to Thomas: “Move your finger and look at my hands, advance your hand, and put it in my side,” – in such a way he persuaded them that he had really suffered, while every incorruptible body excludes from itself the injury of suffering by the virtue of the resurrection, whose realization we expect in our bodies too!
How could we blush with the truth, we who were its defenders? And will we not confess that in the corruptible, that is, the passive and mortal body, he endured suffering and death for us? He had so wished to establish the truth that, even after the resurrection, with incorruptibility, immortality and impassibility, he appeared with the traces of the stigmata which are peculiar to the corruptible body! Such was the infinite grandeur of the true and all merciful condescension of the economy, that in this very case it submitted, so to speak, to a measure still inferior to ours, while excluding from its mystery all deception and suspicion of illusion!
And let the words of St Cyril intervene again in the debate, which, in the twelfth book of John’s Commentary on the Gospel, teaches us in a very spiritual and complete manner: [Cyril] “Thomas touched the side of our Savior and he examined the stigmata from the Roman soldier’s spear, he saw the marks of the nails. Someone may say: How in an incorruptible body did one perceive signs of corruption? It is indeed a sign of corporal corruption that there is still in him, subsisting and visible, the perforation of the hands and the side and the appearance of the stigmata and of an injury made by the iron. Whereas the truthful and irreproachable language about the body, reformed for incorruptibility, expresses the necessity of it divesting itself, along with the corruption itself, of the consequent consequences. Indeed, if someone is lame, will he return to life, still affected, in the foot and leg, limping? And if anyone has lost his eyes in this world, will he be resurrected deprived of sight? How, it will be said, will we have rejected corruption, if the sufferings that result remain and still dominate our bodies? I am certainly not of the opinion that the discussion on this subject of the inquiry which is necessary to it should be dismissed; however, we say this, – in so far as it is possible to speak of these difficulties which are proposed to us, – that at the time of the resurrection, no residue of the corruption which occurred is maintained in us, but, as the wise Paul says about this body: ‘That which is sown in weakness is resurrected in strength, that which is sown in reproach revives in glory’. Now, the expectation of the coming resurrection of this body in power and glory, what is it other than to return to its first constitution, after having rejected from itself all natural weakness and all shame arising from corruption and suffering? It has not been done indeed for death and for corruption. But because Thomas had formulated this demand for a clearer assurance, it is necessarily that Our Lord Jesus Christ, to give no pretext for the smallness of our faith also appeared to him in the same way that he wanted to see him; because also, when he ascended to heaven and manifested the power of the mystery that concerned him to the powers above, to the Principalities and to the Dominions, to the chiefs of legions, and to the presidents of the angelic orders, it was seen under this same appearance, so that they believed that the Word, who is of the Father and in the Father, had really become man for us, and that they knew that he had the solicitude of his creatures to the point of death first to assure our life.”
It is clear that the Doctor called corporal corruption the stigmata arising from the piercing of the nails and the spear, for which there is no room after the incorruptibility resulting from the resurrection, because we also, at the resurrection, we will set aside lame feet and blindness of the eyes, and the vile, shameful and disfiguring lesion of any limb, and any such corruption that penetrates and affects the body, and we will assume integrity, the absence of sickness and health, which we possessed in paradise before losing the grace of immortality which he had given us in abundance from the beginning by creating us, so that we would not die like men, as says the Holy Scripture, but that we keep ourselves in incorruptibility in which we were also created. He Himself, however, to confirm the truth of his death and suffering which he had endured for us, even after the resurrection, appeared to Thomas as well as to reasonable minds in heaven bearing traces and scars that are strangers to the incorruptible, immortal and impassible, resurrected body, as well as taking food, but which are peculiar to the corruptible, passible, and mortal body.
This is what is clearly taught to us by the eminent Cyril who, in the same book, wrote: [Cyril] “As after the resurrection, and especially that of the sacred body, corruption absolutely no longer remained, since he had been resurrected for incorruptibility, it is also believed that he no longer needed, as before, the usual food. He showed the places of nails and did not refuse to take food, to confirm the great mystery of the resurrection and to implant faith in our souls; now he performed those gestures which are absolutely foreign to the spiritual nature. For the marks of nails, traces of stigmata and the absorption of bodily nourishment, from where and how could these be found in a spirit absolutely seperated from and not immersed in a body, since it is the latter, which is suitable by the reason of its nature, and which is inclined to present itself in these states?
Also, to prevent some people from believing that our Lord was resurrected as a subtle spirit or as an impalpable body, which would be like the shadow or air, which some are accustomed to call spiritual, but so that it is believed that he had raised up the very thing that had been sown in corruption, according to the word of Paul, he manifested and showed what suits the density of the body. ”
It must again be understood how the Doctor made it clear that after the resurrection he had dispelled the matter of the corruption of the holy flesh, because he had risen for incorruptibility, and before the resurrection he had felt the need for food, inasmuch as it did not yet possess impassibility and immortality, in which incorruptibility consists. It was fitting that it was in a flesh subject to suffering and death that Emmanuel endured real suffering and died of a true death, to destroy their power and strength which weighted on us, by the resurrection. And this is amazing! Paul compares the resurrection of our bodies to seed, namely to wheat and to all others, and shows that as they fall into the ground, grow and arise according to their nature, by putting on radiance and splendor as a result of the growth, so the bodies of those who believe in Christ are sown in corruption and arise with impassibility, immortality, and the glory of the resurrection, and that is why he said: is sown in corruption and is resurrected without corruption; – exactly in the same way also with regard to the most holy body of our Lord, God and Saviour, the Christ, who had come to death and burial in the earth, St. Cyril said: “This very thing which was sown in corruption, according to the word of Paul, it is that which he resurrects.”
Thus, he participated in the very modality of the experience of death, as well as in the sowing of corruption, which is the burial of our bodies to us; but he did not remain in corruption, and did not abide, as we do, in the dissolution which follows the burial. For his soul was not abandoned in hell, and his flesh did not see the corruption in the sepulcher, by preventing through the resurrection the dissolution which results from this state. For Christ came to rise again and also to resurrect us with him, we who had fallen, and not to dwell in the grave. In fact, by the resurrection death was really vanquished and it is for this reason that he became incarnate and made man, with the intention of becoming the first fruits of our resurrection.
This is also what John, the holy bishop of Constantinople, in the Commentary of the First Epistle to the Corinthians, says in these words [Chrysostom] “The first fruits are indeed the first fruits of something! But how will it be the first fruits, if they do not resurrect those whose first fruits they are? How, then, do they not resurrect? And if they do not resurrect, why is Christ risen? Why did he come? For what purpose did he take flesh if he were not to resurrect his flesh? For he himself did not feel the need, but it was for us.” On the other hand, the words: “That which is sown in corruption also resurrects without corruption” refers to the burial and resurrection of our bodies, the same Doctor explains it to us in the same way in the commentary of the letter, writing this: [Chrysostom] “And it is not our birth in the womb that he called here sowing, but the burial in the earth, the decay of the bodies that are dead, their reduction to ashes. Therefore, after saying, ‘That which is sown in corruption’, he immediately added: ‘Rise in incorruptibility, that which is sown in opprobrium’. What is in fact more repugnant in appearance than a dead man in putrefaction? ‘Rise in glory; that which is sown in weakness’, in fact, thirty days have not passed so that the whole has perished, and the flesh could not preserve itself, nor even be sufficient for a single day. ‘Rise in strength’, then, in fact, nothing will prevail over him.”
And also the text alleged above by your Piety, found in the book Ancoratus, was written, when quoted in full, about the incorruptibility that follows the resurrection. You are limited to quoting this: [Julian] “Altogether a spiritual body, altogether incomprehensible divinity. What has suffered has not been corrupted, the impassible is incorruptible. It is entirely the incorruptible Lord God”. Now the words which precede and those which follow these clearly show that it is about the incorruptibility and immortality which follow the resurrection and the contact by which the spirit of Thomas was cured. The words in their entirety are written in this way: [Epiphanius] “… but he comes in, the door is shut, and he is touched by Thomas, so that we know that we do not seize a ghost, but truly, the one in whom Thomas believed, after what was said, ‘I have sought God by my hands, and have not been disappointed’. The same, God, and, the same, man, without confusion, but by combining the two elements into one, without being reduced to nothing, but by strengthening with the help of the divinity the earthly body in a single power. He is therefore one Lord Jesus Christ; there are not two Christs or two gods; all together spiritual body, all together incomprehensible divinity! What has suffered has not been corrupted, the impassible is incorruptible; he is wholly incorruptible the Lord God, who sits at the right hand of his Father.”
Let us not be afraid, then, to follow all those apostolic and eminent Doctors who, in the one Holy Spirit, have explained the books which have been spoken by him; they teach us to confess that, throughout the whole time of the incarnation, the body of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ was corruptible, that is to say, mortal and subject to irreproachable suffering, death, and burial, so that, to have suffered these and be truly dead in that which is naturally fit to suffer and to die, he fought again for our victory by destroying, by the resurrection, the power of corruption which results from sufferings and death. But after the resurrection he taught us to declare firmly the incorruptible body, that is, impassible and immortal.
Indeed, with all the others, St. John also clearly stated, in the foregoing, in this way: [Chrysostom] “… because henceforth the body is impassible and immortal.” But no one has declared his body to be immortal before Emmanuel had carried the voluntary cross. It is because the negation of his death is repugnant to true redemption, because it leads to the impiety of the Phantasists. On the other hand, that which has always existed in the body of our Lord of All and Saviour Christ, is the incorruptibility which consists in impeccability and in total holiness, it is what, by unanimous consent, has been transmitted to all those who have initiate to the mysteries of truth. It is also, as I believe, what has previously been fully demonstrated by my exposition and demonstration of what has been said, by the words of the doctors and fathers that have been alleged about each of the points. It is in following them that I, the least, in the Sermon on the Holy Mother of God and Ever Virgin Mary, which I pronounced in the holy church of Antioch, I declared as summarized: [Severus] “By all this, therefore, the body of Christ is shown incorruptible, in whom the corruption of sin has not come near at all. As for that which results from death and burial, it was subject to it, but he destroyed it in himself and was not retained by it, because of its union with the Word which is, according to his nature, incorruptible, impassible and immortal.” And it is in these words that the whole exposition of the theory is collected on this subject.
But in spite of all this, by submitting this question to us with the sole intention of demonstrating that the body of our God and Savior Jesus Christ is incorruptible, by impassibility and immortality, even before the resurrection, – for it is this which mattered to him – your Holiness turns away from the consideration of the incorruptibility resulting from impeccability and writes the following: [Julian] “Indeed a woman was suffering from an incurable flow of blood, by the contact of the fringe from the Lord’s mantle, and she stole what she was looking for. And the Lord said, ‘Someone touched me’, as the disciples said to him, ‘The crowds are pressing you’, he says again, ‘Someone touched me. For I know not that impurity has come near to me, but that a strength has gone out of me; I gave and not I received; I acted and not, I suffered. In fact, everything that is foreign, while approaching me, is corrupted at a distance, and if it is close to me, it does not add itself; for the fullness from which all have received does not receive any addition. But if the corruption does not reach the fringe of the mantle, what will be said of the incorruptible body itself? For if he contracts corruption, it will be said that he was also subjected to the movements of desire.”
But we will remind your honorable Reverence, and opportunely on this point also: Why do you speak of impiety and of the motions of desire, whereas no one contradicts this? While, on the contrary, all confess that the body of our God and Savior Christ is holy and sinless, and hence always incorruptible, and dispenser of holiness and all kind of healing. And do we think we will do something great if we show him free from these defilements, the one who gives and concedes a great abundance of such advantages to his servants, because he is the source of all goods? For it was in the name of Jesus Christ that the apostles and the disciples performed such feats. So it is written about Paul that the grace of Christ was so effective by his hands that if shrouds or cloths were applied to the sick that had touched his body, they were delivered from their diseases and the evil spirits went away. Who then would be ungodly enough to say that the mantle of our God and Savior Christ was inferior to the clothes that had touched Paul’s body, and that the Master who was operating had to be placed second to his servant who was operating by him? But this does not man that we say that Paul’s body was impassible and immortal and that he was not subject to hunger, fatigue, torments, sufferings, and blows; nor do we deny, with regard to the fitness and the wonders which suited God, that the body of Emmanuel, who was in all things like us, except sin, and who is the Lord and the God of Paul, was not suffering like us and consubstantial with us: it was in it that he was wrestling with death and that he won by it a just victory for our advantage by raising it from among the dead. For if, since the incarnation, he had been incorruptible, that is to say impassible and immortal, no one having died, what death would have been conquered, as St. Cyril taught in the texts examined above? But we declare that it is in that which is naturally liable to corruption, yes, that it is in this that the operation of death was exercised, in this also that was realized the resurrection which follows death. it is for this reason also that the Word of God is hypostatically united to it, that it may be confessed that he himself had suffered in it, died and resurrected in it, while he possessed, as God, the impassibility that the suffering could not reach.