The significane of the Lord's death as to His divine nature

Hi,

I recall that the Faith teaches us that the Lord has both human and divine natures in his person and that these are both complete in him and are inseparable from each other in a hypostatic union. I want to ask now: when the Lord died after the crucifixion, is it correct to say that the DIVINE nature also died with him? If YES, would not that contradict the fact that divinity is immortal and is not supposed to die at any given point? Whereas if NO, would not that show a period whereby the Lord’s human and divine natures where separable, namely, the period that the human nature was dead whereas the divine nature was not?

Anyone?

Thank you.

Whatever the Catholic Faith on the matter is, I fully embrace it.

iiiiiiiiiiii

Is death a phenomenon suffered by a nature?

Or is death a phenomenon suffered by a person?
:hmmm:

What do you mean when you state the fact that divinity is immortal? Do you believe *divinity *is alive?

What is death? Do you believe *death *to be the same thing as annihilation?

tee

The human soul is immortal once created. The complete human creature is composed of body and soul united together, but we also know the soul is separated from the body when the body dies.

Jesus is fully human and fully divine. He experienced the death of his human body. He also experienced the resurrection of his human body. The union of his human and divine nature did not die, because it can not die - just as your soul can not die.

From Ott’s Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma:

Christ’s death dissolved the connection between body and soul – Christ was therefore during the three days not “man,” that is, a compositum of body and soul (S. th. III 50, 4) – but His death did not dissolve the attachment of Godhead and humanity, or of their parts. Even after their separation the body and the soul separately remained hypostatically united with the Divine Logos.

Does our soul die when the flesh dies - no
Why would you think the spirit of God died when his flesh gave his spirit up?

That depends on how we use the word death in this context.
The Divine Nature did not die as in cease-to-exist.
However, the Divine did die in the limited sense of experience death—meaning the descent into hades.

If YES, would not that contradict the fact that divinity is immortal and is not supposed to die at any given point?

Again, 2 answers.

  1. “Not supposed to die” is important. The whole point of the crucifixion is that God experienced something that He is not supposed to experience.
  2. For the “divinity is immortal” part, see above. The Divine never ceased to exist. but did descend into hades.

Whereas if NO, would not that show a period whereby the Lord’s human and divine natures where separable,

His 2 Natures were not separate. Rather, He* was separated from His body because the body remained in the tomb while Christ Himself descended into Hades.

namely, the period that the human nature was dead whereas the divine nature was not?

Again, it gets us back to the first part–how do you mean the adjective “dead” in this context? Christ, in both His divinity and His humanity descended into hades; but neither ceased to exist.


  • I’m struggling for a word here—His what? I want to write “soul” but that’s not working. I want to write “His essence” but that doesn’t work either. I’ve tried “person” but that doesn’t work. I’ve left it as a pronoun. He descended into hades, but His body remained in the tomb until the Resurrection.

His Divinity did not die nor did His human soul (nor does any soul, at physical death).

CCC 637 says " In his human soul united to his divine person, the dead Christ went down to the realm of the dead. He opened heaven’s gates for the just who had gone before him."

Only the body can suffer physical death. “The second death” as referred to in Revelation is the damnation of the soul-- but even in that “death” the soul exists and experience the eternal suffering of hell.

some questions father

  1. how can the divine descend into a place if he is omnipresent, isn’t he just going to a place where he already is?
  2. if the divine really did descend into hell how can he be immutable, doesn’t descending into a place necessitate change, movement, or simply put change, destroys his immutability?
  3. how can the Divine experience death if he is immutable?

I think that is it.

There are 2 ways of looking at this.

A. We might say philosophically that Hell is the one place where God is not present. See Catechism 1035. I say we “might” that’s a philosophical topic for a different thread.
B. Yes, God is omnipresent, but remember that Incarnate person of Christ was not omnipresent (He was not in Cleveland when He was in Jerusalem in 33 AD). in His “human soul united to his divine person” he went there----the human soul part was not there before Good Friday (nor after Easter).

  1. if the divine really did descend into hell how can he be immutable, doesn’t descending into a place necessitate change, movement, or simply put change, destroys his immutability?

So does the Incarnation, but that didn’t change the immutability of God. The Divine did not “change” by becoming Incarnate, but instead was united to the human (hypostatic union). That one person then descended into Hades—the human changed, but the Divine did not.

  1. how can the Divine experience death if he is immutable?

I think that is it.

Again, it depends on what we mean by “death.”
On the one hand, the Divine is eternal, and so cannot die in the sense of cease-to-exist.

However, we can say that the Divine experienced death, in fact we must say it, because to deny it means that the crucifixion was a hoax. If we deny it, then we are denying that the Son of God died on the cross.

Look again at the Catechism
CCC 637 says " In his human soul united to his divine person, the dead Christ went down to the realm of the dead. He opened heaven’s gates for the just who had gone before him."

626 Since the “Author of life” who was killed is the same “living one [who has] risen”, The divine person of the Son of God necessarily continued to possess his human soul and body, separated from each other by death:

By the fact that at Chnst’s death his soul was separated from his flesh, his one person is not itself divided into two persons; for the human body and soul of Christ have existed in the same way from the beginning of his earthly existence, in the divine person of the Word; and in death, although separated from each other, both remained with one and the same person of the Word

I think you’re concentrating too much on the notion of immutability.

The Divine Nature did not and does not change. Instead, the Divine Nature became united to a changing Human Nature.

It’s late. I’ll be back tomorrow (maybe, since it’s a Lenten Friday)

A) God must be present in hell by his very nature.
B) makes the most sense and would explain why his human nature went there but not necessarily why his divine nature “went” there.

So does the Incarnation, but that didn’t change the immutability of God. The Divine did not “change” by becoming Incarnate, but instead was united to the human (hypostatic union). That one person then descended into Hades—the human changed, but the Divine did not.

I agree

Again, it depends on what we mean by “death.”
On the one hand, the Divine is eternal, and so cannot die in the sense of cease-to-exist.

I agree

However, we can say that the Divine experienced death, in fact we must say it, because to deny it means that the crucifixion was a hoax. If we deny it, then we are denying that the Son of God died on the cross.

I get what your saying I guess I need to rap my head around this a little bit.

I also haven’t reached Christology in my seminary formation yet, so while I can begin to hint at the ideas behind this, this is an issue I really haven’t wrestled with yet.

I’m currently in trinitarian theology so it is influencing how I’m posting right now :).

Look again at the Catechism
CCC 637 says " In his human soul united to his divine person, the dead Christ went down to the realm of the dead. He opened heaven’s gates for the just who had gone before him."

626 Since the “Author of life” who was killed is the same “living one [who has] risen”, The divine person of the Son of God necessarily continued to possess his human soul and body, separated from each other by death:

By the fact that at Chnst’s death his soul was separated from his flesh, his one person is not itself divided into two persons; for the human body and soul of Christ have existed in the same way from the beginning of his earthly existence, in the divine person of the Word; and in death, although separated from each other, both remained with one and the same person of the Word

I think you’re concentrating too much on the notion of immutability.

The Divine Nature did not and does not change. Instead, the Divine Nature became united to a changing Human Nature.

It’s late. I’ll be back tomorrow (maybe, since it’s a Lenten Friday)

and as I said above I haven’t rapped my head around or tried to tackle what a immutable divine nature connecting to mutable human nature looks like.

So only if you have advice on how this may work I will leave this Christological discussion for another date.

god bless and thank you for your priesthood :slight_smile:

I’ll skip over all the “I agree” parts.

All I can cay is “trust me” when you get to Christology, this will certainly be a topic, one way or the other. But that’s just about the classes. For the dogma itself I’ll say to trust the Creed and the Catechism; at least for now. Remember that we say “He descended into Hell” every time we say the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed.

My personal favorites are:
St Anselm in Cur Deus Homo
ewtn.com/library/CHRIST/CURDEUS.HTM
St Ephrem’s Hymns on the Crucifixion
(cannot find a good internet source)

Perhaps to explain it, let me put it this way.

  1. We know that in the Incarnation, the person of Christ had both Human and Divine Natures.
  2. We know that these 2 natures are forever united (hypostatic union). Once brought together, they can never be separated again.
  3. We know that Christ died on the cross.
  4. We know that his human nature died on the cross.
  5. We know that Christ descended into Hades (Creed etc.) while the flesh of his body remained in the tomb.
  6. We know that after the Resurrection, Christ was once again a whole person, human and divine hypostatically united, together with his body in the flesh—whole and entire.

If we say that Christ did not die in his divine nature (died as in “experienced death” not “ceased to exist”, remember), then we must necessarily say that there was a time (Holy Saturday) when the 2 natures of Christ, divine and human, did become separated from each other. We cannot believe that. That’s probably the best way to explain it. The human and divine natures never separated, even though his body was in the tomb.

If we say that the Divinity of Christ did not experience death, but only his humanity, then the crucifixion was just a “show” put-on by God. He merely used his human shell to appear to have died, without actually doing so. We cannot believe that.

These issues were all resolved in the first 3 Ecumenical Councils.

I cannot tell you the course names, but I can assure you that when you do Christology and/or the Councils all this will become much more clear than I can describe in posts here.

Now, as for the immutability part of the discussion.
Don’t read too much into immutability. That doesn’t mean that God is static.
Just to illustrate, we can say that there was a time in history before God spoke to Moses, and we can say that there was a time in history after God spoke to Moses. God had an experience of a moment in history. God experienced the act of speaking to Moses. That doesn’t mean that God changed. We can likewise say that there was a period before God (in the 2nd Person of the Trinity) experienced the act of death on the cross, and a period after God (2nd) experienced death on the cross. Likewise, that doesn’t mean that God changed.

Thoughts?
As I wrote last night, I’ll be busy today, so it might take a while to get back to you.

sorry I left this for a few days

but

I’m still struggling to wrap my head around the idea that God could experience death which is opposite of God who is life itself or existence itself.

Now what the Church teaches I believe and I hold in faith and trust, but believing only is not enough for me I seek to understand what I believe.

This is a complex issue and I’m going to leave it on the back burner for now. While I want to find the issue I don’t want this issue taking up all my time, as I’m sure you know seminary life is very busy and I know the guy who is going to teach us Christology will do a great job at it. He is teaching us trinitarian theology and he is doing a very good orthodox job.

I’m going to stop this discussion for now. God bless.

Wise decision.

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