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Icon of Christ the Pantocrator. The Icon represents the dual nature of Christ, illustrating traits of both man and God.[1]

Dyophysitism (/dˈɒfɪstɪzəm/;[2] from Greek: δυοφυσιτισμός "two natures") is the Christological position that Jesus Christ is one person of one substance and one hypostasis, with two distinct, inseparable natures, divine and human.[3] It is related to the doctrine of the hypostatic union. Those who insisted on the "two natures" formula were referred to as dyophysites.


Mirrored composites of left and right sides of image.

Development of dyophysite Christology was gradual; dyophysite tradition and its complex terminology were finally formulated as a result of the long Christological debates that were constant during the 4th and 5th centuries.

Dyophysitism as a position stands in opposition to the views of monophysitism, the doctrine of Jesus having one divine nature, and miaphysitism, the doctrine that Christ is both divine and human but in one nature. Dyophysites believe that the two natures are completely and perfectly united in the one person and hypostasis of Jesus Christ,[4] in union with each other and co-existing without mixture, confusion or change.[5] The importance of dyophysitism was often emphasized by prominent representatives of the Antiochene School.[6]

The miaphysites upheld the idea of one nature in Christ based on their understanding of Cyril of Alexandria's teachings,[7] including his Twelve Anathemas, namely number 4 which states:[8]

"If anyone shall divide between two persons or subsistences those expressions which are contained in the Evangelical and Apostolical writings, or which have been said concerning Christ by the Saints, or by himself, and shall apply some to him as to a man separate from the Word of God, and shall apply others to the only Word of God the Father, on the ground that they are fit to be applied to God: let him be anathema."

Dyophysitism was articulated in the Council of Chalcedon in 451,[9] which produced the Chalcedonian Definition, that states:[10]

We confess that one and the same Christ, Lord, and only-begotten Son, is to be acknowledged in two natures without confusion, change, division or separation. the distinction between the natures was never abolished by their union, but rather the character proper to each of the two natures was preserved as they came together in one person (prosopon) and one hypostasis.

Nature (ousia) in the Chalcedonian sense can be understood to be referring to a set of "powers and qualities which constitute a being"[11] whereas person (prosopon) refers to "a concrete individual acting as subject in its own right."[12]

For adherents, the hypostatic union is the center of Jesus's unity (his divinity and humanity being described as natures) whereas those who rejected the Council of Chalcedon saw his nature itself as the point of unity.

Dyophisitism has also been used to describe some aspects of Nestorianism, the doctrines ascribed to Nestorius of Constantinople. It is now generally agreed that some of his ideas were not far from those that eventually emerged as orthodox, but the orthodoxy of his formulation of the doctrine of Christ is still controversial among churches.[13]


After many debates and several councils, dyophysitism gained its official dogmatic form at the Council of Chalcedon[14] and the Second Council of Constantinople of 553, which are accepted in the present day by a majority of Christian churches, including the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Catholic Churches, the Anglican Church, and the Old Catholic Church, as well as Reformed, Lutheran, and various other Christian denominations. Apart from that, the ancient Church of the East has preserved dyophysite Christology and other traditions of the Antiochene School.[6]

There remain churches which hold to the miaphysite positions, such as the Oriental Orthodox Church.[15]

See also



  1. ^ Manolis Chatzidakis and Gerry Walters, “An Encaustic Icon of Christ at Sinai,” The Art Bulletin 49, No. 3 (1967): 201
  2. ^ "dyophysitism". Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary.
  3. ^ "What are miaphysitism and dyophysitism?". Retrieved 2024-02-10.
  4. ^ Craig, William Lane (2016). "7. Doctrine of Christ Lecture 3 Antiochean Christology (Dyophysitism)" (PDF). Reasonable Faith. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2024-02-10. Retrieved 2024-02-10.
  5. ^ "What are the Hypostatic Union, Dyophysitism, and Miaphysitism?". Apologetics.Media. 2023-12-28. Retrieved 2024-02-10.
  6. ^ a b Meyendorff 1989.
  7. ^ "The Dyophysite Christology of Cyril of Alexandria". The Gospel Coalition. Retrieved 2024-02-10.
  8. ^ ""Cyril of Alexandria Twelve Anathemas"". Early Church Texts. 2024-02-10. Archived from the original on 2023-09-26. Retrieved 2024-02-10.
  9. ^ "Diophysitism", in the Slobodan Maldini: Dictionary of Exorcism. p. 750. Archived from the original on November 4, 2018. Retrieved Nov 4, 2018.
  10. ^ "Catechism of the Catholic Church - IntraText". Retrieved 2024-02-10.
  11. ^ "The Definition of the Council of Chalcedon (451 A.D.) | Reformed Theology at Semper Reformanda". Retrieved 2024-02-10.
  12. ^ Wagner, Christian B. (2020-11-09). "Dyophysitism: An Introduction to Chalcedonian Christology". Scholastic Answers. Retrieved 2024-02-10.
  13. ^ Chesnut 1978, pp. 392–409.
  14. ^ Loon 2009, pp. 24–29.
  15. ^ "Oriental Orthodoxy « Western Prelacy". Retrieved 2024-02-10.


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