Healing of church rift over Christology

by
21 November 2014

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From the Revd R. O. Gould
Sir, - While it is cheering to see the smiles following an agreed statement on Christology (Comment, 14 November), it is very difficult to see what it is they have discovered.

Mia is simply the Greek for the numeral one, without any particular further significance. It is feminine, to agree with the noun physis; so the word that St Cyril might have used but didn't is monē, not monos. In constructing a word in English, however, we use the neuter form of an adjective, in this case hen, so that the new word would be henophysite rather than miaphysite. This makes the significance no clearer.

The closest comparison is that of monotheism with henotheism. While the former implies exclusive belief in a single God, the latter much less common word means "belief in a single god without asserting that he is the only god" (OED). Am I missing something?

ROBERT GOULD
33 Charterhall Road
Edinburgh EH9 3HS


From the Very Revd Dr John Arnold
Sir, - I read with great pleasure Bishop Geoffrey Rowell's account of the Agreed Statement on Christology by the Anglican Communion and the Oriental Orthodox Churches in Cairo. This comes fittingly just 50 years after the first encounter since AD 451 of the Churches of East and West at a meeting of the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches in Aarhus in August 1964.

I remember that we found that we did not disagree on the doctrine of Christ in the modern languages (English, French, German, and Russian) that we were using. They lack the subtletyof patristic Greek, such as the fine distinction, between mia and monos, which Bishop Rowell explains so clearly.

Eventually some wise man said: "If we need to go into fifth-century Greek in order to disagree, why don't we agree?" At last, thank God, we do.

JOHN ARNOLD
26 Hawks Lane
Canterbury CT1 2NU

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