Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature to the End of the Sixth Century/Apollinaris the Younger

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Apollinaris the Younger, bp. of Laodicea, flourished in the latter half of the 4th cent., and was at first highly esteemed, even by Athanasius and Basil, for his classical culture, piety, and adhesion to the Nicene Creed during the Arian controversy, until he introduced a Christological heresy which is called after him, and which in some respects prepared the way for Monophysitism. He assisted his father in rewriting the Christian Scriptures in imitation of the style of Homer, Menander, etc., mentioned in the preceding article. He also wrote in defence of Christianity against Julian and Porphyry; of orthodoxy against the Manicheans, Arians, Marcellus, Eunomius, and other heretics; Biblical commentaries, and other works, of which only fragments remain. Jerome enjoyed his instruction, A.D. 374. He did not secede from the communion of the church and begin to form a sect of his own till 375. He died about 392. After his death his followers, who were not numerous, were divided into two parties, the Polemians and Valentinians. His doctrine was condemned by a synod of Alexandria (not naming him), by two synods at Rome under Damasus (377 and 378), and by the second oecumenical council (381). Imperial decrees prohibited the public worship of the Apollinarists (388, 397, 428), until during the 5th cent. they were absorbed partly by the orthodox, partly by the Monophysites. But the peculiar Christology of Apollinaris has reappeared from time to time, in a modified shape, as an isolated theological opinion.

Apollinaris was the first to apply the results of the Nicene controversy to Christology proper, and to call the attention of the church to the psychical and pneumatic element in the humanity of Christ; but in his zeal for the true deity of Christ, and fear of a double personality, he fell into the error of a partial denial of His true Humanity. Adopting the psychological trichotomy of Plato (σῶμα, ψυχή, πνεῦμα), for which he quoted I. Thess. v. 23 and Gal. v. 17, he attributed to Christ a human body (σῶμα) and a human soul (the ψυχὴ ἄλογος, the anima animans which man has in common with the animal), but not a rational spirit (νοῦς, πνεῦμα, ψυχὴ λογική, anima rationalis), and put in the place of the latter the divine Logos. In opposition to the idea of a mere connexion of the Logos with the man Jesus, he wished to secure an organic unity of the two, and so a true incarnation; but he sought this at the expense of the most important constituent of man. He reached only a θεός σαρκοφόρος, as Nestorianism only an ἄνθρωπος θεοφόρος, instead of the proper θεάνθρωπος. He appealed to the fact that the Scripture says, "the Word was made flesh "—not spirit; "God was manifest in the flesh," etc. To which Gregory Nazianzen justly replied that in these passages the term σάρξ was used by synecdoche for the whole human nature. In this way Apollinaris established so close a connexion of the Logos with human flesh, that all the divine attributes were transferred to the human nature, and all the human attributes to the divine, and the two merged in one nature in Christ. Hence he could speak of a crucifixion of the Logos, and a worship of His flesh. He made Christ a middle being between God and man, in Whom, as it were, one part divine and two parts human were fused in the unity of a new nature. He even ventured to adduce created analogies of mixtures in nature. Christ, said he, is οὔτε ἄνθρωπος ὅλος, οὔτε θεός, ἀλλὰ θεοῦ καὶ ἀνθρώπου μίξις. On the other hand, he regarded the orthodox view of a union of full humanity with a full divinity in one person—of two wholes in one whole—as an absurdity, in a similar category with the mythological figure of the Minotaur. But the Apollinarian idea of the union of the Logos with a truncated human nature might be itself more justly compared with this monster. Starting from the Nicene homoousion as to the Logos, but denying the completeness of Christ's humanity, he met Arianism half-way, which likewise put the divine Logos in the place of the human spirit in Christ. But he strongly asserted Christ's unchangeableness, while Arians taught His changeableness (τρεπτότης).

The faith of the church revolted against such a mutilated and stunted humanity of Christ, which necessarily involved also a merely partial redemption. The incarnation is an assumption of the entire human nature, sin only excluded. The ἐνσάρκωσις is ἐνανθρώπησις. To be a full and complete Redeemer, Christ must be a perfect man (τέλειος ἄνθρωπος). The spirit or rational soul is the most important element in man, the seat of intelligence and freedom, and needs redemption as well as the soul and the body; for sin has corrupted all the faculties.

Athanasius, the two Gregories, Basil, and Epiphanius combated the Apollinarian error, but were unprepared to answer duly its main point, that two integral persons cannot form one person. The later orthodox doctrine surmounted this difficulty by teaching the impersonality of the human nature of Christ, and by making the personality of Christ to reside wholly in the Logos.

Apollinarianism opened the long line of Christological controversies, which resulted in the Chalcedonian symbol.

Literature.—Of the writings of Apollinaris, περὶ σαρκώσεως, περὶ πίστεως, περὶ ἀναστάσεως, κατὰ κεφάλειον and other polemical and exegetical works and epistles, only fragments remain in the answers of Gregory of Nyssa and Theodoret, in Leontius Byzant. in the Catenae, and in Angelo Mai's Nova Bibliotheca Patrum, tom. vii. (Rom. 1854) pt. ii. pp. 82‒91. Against Apollinaris are directed Athanasius's Contra Apollinarium, or rather περὶ σαρκώσεως τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰ. Χ. (Opera, ed. Bened. tom. i. pt. ii. pp. 921‒955), written about 372 without naming Apollinaris; Gregory of Nyssa, Λόγος, ἀντιῤῥητικὸς πρὸς τὰ Ἀπολλιναρίου, first edited by Zaccagni, Rom. 1698, and then by Gallandi, Bibl. Vet. Patr. vi. 517‒577; Basilius M., Ep. 265 (Opera, ed. Ben. t. iii. pt. ii. 591 sqq.); Epiph. Haer. lxxvii.; Theod. Fabulae Haer. iv. 8, v. 9. Of the later literature, cf. especially Petavius, de Incarnatione Verbi, i. c. 6; Dorner, History of Christology, i. 974‒1080; Neander, History, i. 334‒338; Schaff, History of the Christian Church, iii. 708‒714; Harnack, Dogmengesch. (1909), ii. 324‒334; Thomasius, Dogmengesch. (1889), 314 f.; Schwane, Dogmengesch. (1895), 277‒283; G. Voisin, L’Apollinarisme (Paris, 1901).