From the Book of Marganitha (The Pearl)
On the Truth of Christianity
Written by Mar Odisho, Metropolitan of N’siwin and Armenia, A.D. 1298
ON THE CHRISTIAN
On the advent of Christ, and his union
Justice is an universal benefit, since whatsoever man would have others do to him, justice demands that he should do to them; and whatsoever he would not have men do to him, let him not do them either. This is the Law and the Prophets, as saith the Saviour. But as the prophets could not hereby reduce to perfect order the lives of men, and bring them to a perfect knowledge of the truth by causing them to forego idols and follow the divine commands, in order that they might be saved, there remained no other way for the renewal of our nature, and for the reformation of our lives but that GOD should appear in the world. Like a sovereign, who having sent many messengers to dispense the affairs of his kingdom, and to put in order those whom he would reconcile, if these should be overcome because of their weakness, and be unable to effect anything, he goes in person to put those of that country in order. For since GOD is invisible in His nature, and because were it possible for Him to appear to the created as He is, all Creation would be destroyed by the brilliancy of His brightness; therefore, He took to Himself a man for His Habitation, and made him His temple, and the place of His abiding, and thus united an offspring of mortal nature to His Godhead, in an everlasting, indissolubleunion, and made it a co-partaker of His sovereignty, authority, and dominion.—That is, the Divine Essence enlightened the human nature by its union therewith, as the pure and faultless pearl is enlightened by the rays of the sun falling upon it causing the nature of that which is enlightened to be like the nature of that which enlightened it, and causing the sight to be affected by the rays and brightness pertaining to the nature of that which received, as it is by the nature of that which communicated the light, no change whatever taking place in the agent by his action on that which was acted upon. And, again, just as speech hidden in the soul is united to written discourse by the consent of the mind, and is transmitted from one place to another without itself moving, from its place, — so the Word of the Father united with the man of us, through the agency of the mind, and came into this our world, without departing from the Father in his Essence. “The word became flesh and dwelt among us.” A devout and pious man laboured for many years in prayer to God, that He would disclose to him the meaning of this declaration: A voice from heaven was at length vouchsafed to him, saying:
“Ascribe to the flesh the word” “became” and to the “Word” ascribe “dwelt “; and the meaning was thus preserved.
On the Dispensation of Christ
With the salutation of angel to the Blessed
Virgin: “The Lord be with thee; blessed art thou among women; “ GOD the Word, beyond all doubt, united Himself at that moment with that which He formed simultaneously, and without human seed,in the womb of the Holy Virgin, and to which He gave the name of the “Highest “ and He wrought miracles at His birthand diffused joy over the whole world,and endued Him with boundless wisdom, grace and stature.And when He had attained the age of about thirtyyears, in the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar,and the three hundred and forty-first of Alexander He presented Himself to the baptism of John. Not that His purity needed a baptism of water; but in order that He might become a pattern and exampleto us in every thing. He was baptized, and He commanded that we should be baptized. He fasted, and directed us to fast. He prayed and taught us to pray. He humbled Himself, and instructed us to be humble. He was modest in the exercise of every virtue, and enjoined us to be modest. But any one who observes and teaches them, shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. And after he worked miracles and mighty wonders in the land of Judah, such as, the healing of the sick, the raising of the dead, the opening of the blind eyes, the making the lame to walk, casting out devils, and revealing hidden mysteries, He drew near to the time when He was to pay the debt of the first Adam’s transgression, and to cancel the decree of condemnation against his race, and to reveal by fact the mystery of the general resurrection. He suffered, and was crucified in the day of Pontius Pilate,He died,and was buried, and rose again on the third day, as it is written.After His resurrection, He appeared to His disciples through many miracles during the space of forty days, saying to them: “All power is given unto Me in heaven and on earth. Just as My FATHER has sent Me, I am also sending you. Go, therefore, convert and teach all nations, and baptize them in the name of the FATHER, and of the SON, and of the HOLY SPIRIT and teach them to observe all that I have commanded you; and I am with you always to the end of the world, Amen.” “And He took them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them; and as He blessed them, He parted from them and ascended up to heaven, and sat on the right hand of GOD. Then the disciples went forth and preached in every place and the LORD helped them, and confirmed their words by the miracles which they performed”. This is the beginning of Christianity; its truth we shall establish in the following chapter.
On the Truth of Christianity
Christianity is the belief in One Divine Nature, in three hypostasis, and the confession of CHRIST as has already been explained, and the belief in a resurrection of the dead,and a judgment to come, and in a new and eternallife, all which articles of faith are spiritual and unworldly. For the rational soul has a threefold power, lust, anger, and discriminating judgment, from the excess or the want of a due proportion of which, evil acts and follies proceed, and from the harmony of which proceed virtues. Our Gospel, moreover, discourses with regard to each of these in their relation to nature. Thus, with regard to lust:
“Whoever looks at a womanto with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart “. Again:
“Be ye like the birds of heaven, and like the wild flowers.” And, again: “Do not be anxious about to-morrow”.Of anger, “Loveyour enemies, bless them that curse you, and do good to them that hate you.” Of discriminating judgment: that the kingdom of GOD is within you and it is evident that the kingdom of God is life Everlasting and life everlasting is knowledge of the truth. “These are life everlasting, that they might know thee, that thou art the only true God, and Him that thou sent Jesus Christ”. What doctrine is more exalted than this! Or what truth can be more accurate than this, or superior?
The truth of Christianity is indicated by this also, that like philosophy, it is divided into theory and practice. The end of its theory is truth, as we have already shown, and shall yet further show; and the end of its practice is virtue, as we proved by what we said of the powers of the soul, in regard of which it demands purity of thought, and the sanctification of the spirit, and enjoins good to be done to evil-doers, the love of our enemies, and that we should bless those who curse us. The truth of the Christian faith is still further established by the credibility of those who preached it, — who preached and wrote of CHRIST. — men, who without exercising any compulsions, and without holding out any lure, were received by people of various tongues, by kings, sages, and philosophers; for whoever abandons the religion of his forefathers, and follows him who calls him to embrace another, must do so either from fear, or because of the allurement held out to him; or he is led by the supernatural signs and wonders by which it is attested. But the blessed Apostles had neither weapons nor power to terrify any; neither had they possessions or riches wherewith to allure; it results, then, that the world bowed to listen to them on account of the supernatural signs and wonders which they wrought. But GOD does not work miracles by the hands of false men, so that they may not cause His servants to err, and corrupt the work of His hands. The Apostles, therefore, were true and not false men; and if they were true, those things which we confess of CHRIST, and which we have received from their preaching and writings, hence Christianity professes in verified truths, because those who delivered them were true.
On the Different Sects
When the light of the manifestation of Christ shone forth it scattered the darkness of error from the face of the world by the intermediary of these true preachers; idols became naught, pictures and molten images passed away, and the earth was cleansed from the abomination of sacrifices and unclean rites, and the inhabitants of the world learned goodness, holiness, humility, and gentleness, and the earth was full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. This filled Satan with envy and rage, and he forthwith proceeded to act towards us as he had acted towards Adam; so that after the beatified Apostles, and their disciples and their immediate successors, had slept he provoked Christians rose up against each other, and divisions and controversies sprung up among them, and heresies without number increased in the Church of CHRIST, until they went so far as to compass each other’s destruction, and regarded each other as blasphemers deserving of death. How many false doctrines were rife, and how many impieties and abuses were perpetrated in those days, we learn from the histories of Mar Eusebius. On account of these things, the Ecumenical Council of the 318 was convened, by order of the good and CHRIST-loving and holy Emperor Constantine, .in the year of Alexander 636, and by the power of the SPIRIT, and by proofs adduced from the Holy Scriptures, they decreed, interpreted, enlightened, disclosed, manifested, and confirmed, the orthodox faith; and by strong argument and with words of sound doctrine, they condemned all the heresiarchs, excommunicated and cut them off from the body of CHRIST, as being diseased members not susceptible of cure. And thus the Catholic Church was purified from every stain of vain worship and false doctrine, and all the world, from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same, was of one mind and of one Church. About one hundred years after this a dispute arose between Cyril Patriarch of Alexandria, and Mar Nestorius Patriarch of Byzantium, on the subject of incarnation. In the confession of the Trinity all Christians agree, for all accept the Nicene Creed, which creed confesses that the Trinity is co-equal in essence, Lordship, power and will; and all confess of CHRIST that He is perfect GOD and perfect Man, being fully persuaded thereof by the declarations of the Gospels, of Saint Paul, and of the 318 Fathers. The dispute which now arose respected the manner of the Union, and the words used to express it. Cyril maintained that we ought to call the Virgin “Mother of God “, and wrote twelve treatise excommunicating all who should, in any way, draw a distinction between the divinity and the humanity of CHRIST after the union. Nestorius replied to these Sentences, and showed that they were erroneous, and with respect to the appellation “MOTHER OF GOD “, he argued that it did not exist either in the writings of the Prophets or the Apostles. The Prophets prophesied of CHRIST to come, and the Apostles preached of that same CHRIST, predicted by the Prophets as coming into the world, that this was He Who was born of Mary and they showed that He is both God and man. Now, were we to use the expression “Mother of Man” only, we should be like Paul of Samosata, and Phontinus of Galatia, who said of our Lord that He was but a mere man like one of the prophets and on this account they were excommunicated; so if we use the bare expression “Mother of God” we become like’ Simon and Menander, who say that God did not take a body from Mary; but that His dispensation (life and actions) were hallucinatory and not real, and on that account they also were excommunicated. But we call the Virgin “Mother of CHRIST “, the name used by Prophets and Apostles, and which denotes the union generally. Cyril, in the treatise which he drew up, and in which he excommunicated all who shall distinguish between the divinity and humanity of CHRIST, virtually excommunicated the Holy Scriptures, since the Apostles and Prophets do distinguish between the natures of the Person respecting Whom the dispute is, and from these the holy Fathers learnt to confess of CHRIST, that He is perfect GOD and perfect Man, the Likeness of GOD and the likeness of a servant, the Son of David and the Son of the Highest,flesh and Word.
From this time commenced the division of the Church; some followed Nestorius, whilst others went astray after Cyril, both parties mutually anathematizing each other; thereby causing divisions, slaughter, exile, imprisonment, and persecution of the Fathers, more than ever before, as is fully recorded in the histories of Irenaeus, Bishop of Tyre. After this, tumult and discord went on increasing until the zealous and CHRIST-loving Marcian undertook to convene the great Council of the six hundred and thirty two in the town of Chalcedon, and commanded that both parties should be examined and judged, and that whosoever did not follow the truth and faith as declared by Ecumenical Councils should be expelled from the Church, in order that the Church might be in one accord in all matters of faith. This Council confirmed the confession, that there are two natures in CHRIST each distinct in its attributes, and also two wills, and anathematized all who should speak of mixture, which destroys the two natures. But because in Greek there is no distinction between Qnuma (hypostasis) and person, they confessed but one Qnuma in CHRIST. And when the party of Cyril was not satisfied with the expression “two Natures “, and the party of Nestorius with the expression “one Qnuma” an imperial edict was issued declaring all who did not consent to this doctrine degraded from their orders. Some were made to submit through compulsion; but the remainder maintained their own opinions.
Christianity thus became divided into three confessions; the first confessing One Nature and One Qnuma in CHRIST, which is held by the Copts, Egyptians, and Abyssinians, after the tradition of Cyril their Patriarch; and this is called the Jacobite sect, from a certain Suryaya doctor called Jacob who laboured zealously to spread the doctrines of Cyril among the Suryaye and the Armenians.
The Second sect are those who confess the doctrine of two Natures and one Qnuma in CHRIST, and these are called “Malkaye” (Royalists) because it was imposed forcibly by the king. This is the doctrine which is received by the Romans called Franks, and by the Constantinopolitans who are Greeks and by all the northern peoples such as the Russians, Alani, Circassians, Assai, Georgians and their neighbours. But the Franks differ from the rest of these in maintaining that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, and in their use of unleavened bread for the Eucharist. These two sects also accepted the appelation “Mother of God”; but the Jacobites have added to the canon; “Holy God”, etc., “who was crucified for us.”
The Third confession which professes in Christ two Natures, two Qnume, one will one sonship, one authority; is called Nestorian. As to the Easterners, however, because they would not change their true faith, but kept it as they received it from the Apostles, they were unjustly styled “Nestorians”, since Nestorius was not their Patriarch, neither did they understand his language; but when they heard that he taught the doctrine of the two Natures and two Qnume, one will, one Son of God, one CHRIST, and that he confessed the orthodox faith, they bore witness to him, because they themselves held the same faith. Nestorius, then, followed them, and not they him, and that more especially in the matter of the appelation “Mother of CHRIST”. Therefore when called upon to excommunicate him, they refused, maintaining that their excommunication of Nestorius would be equivalent to their excommunication of the Sacred Scriptures and the holy Apostles, from which they received what they professed, and for which we are censured together with Nestorius, as shall appear in the following chapters.
Note: Qnuma in Greek is called hypostasis, namely, that which underlies the essence, by which the nature is known. And Parsoopa: the Greeks call prosopon: We Easterns, therefore, profess that M’shikha (Messiah) Our Lord is in two Natures in one person. But the question of the Godhead and humanity is brought into discussion in order so as to distinguish the natural properties of each Nature, then of necessity we are led to the discussion of Qnuma (the essence or underlying substance) by which the Nature is distinguished. These facts, therefore, lead us to the indisputable evidence of the existence of two Qnume which are the underlying properties of these (two) Natures, in one person of the Son of God.
For a detailed definition of the “Qnuma”, see the Chapter “On The Distinction Of Nature From Qnuma, Etc.”, by Rabban Yokhanan Bar-Zubi.
Refutation of the Foregoing Creeds
After having carefully distinguished the above creeds, we shall now briefly refute two of them.
FIRST: If it is right to believe that there is but one Nature and one Qnuma in CHRIST after the union, either the human nature and Qnuma are destroyed through the union — here is destruction, not salvation. Or, the Divine Nature and Qnuma are destroyed — a monstrous profanity. Or, that they were mingled and confounded together — behold hence a corruption! neither divinity nor humanity any longer existing. Mar Yokhanan Bar Pinkhaye adduced the name of CHRIST, written with black and red ink, by way of illustrating this confused union which the Jacobites believe , and the union of adherence which we believe; thus, CHRIST , behold corruption! behold confusion! Is it red ink? It is not. Is it black ink? It is not. Now look at this CHRIST behold beauty! behold light! Is it black ink? It is. Is it red ink? It is.
Union of adherence
SECONDLY: The Divine Nature and Qnuma, before and after the union, is an eternal, uncompounded Spirit. But the human nature and Qnuma is a temporal and compound body. Now, if the union nullifies the attributes which distinguish the Natures and Qnume in CHRIST, either the one or the other of these becomes a nonetity, or they become a thing which is neither GOD nor man. But if the union does not destroy the attributes which distinguish the Natures and Qnume in CHRIST; then CHRIST must exist in two Natures and. two Qnume, which united in the person of the Sonship.
THIRDLY: the Gospel declares, that the child Jesus “grew in his stature, and in his wisdom, and in favour with GOD and man”. And the Apostle Peter, the head of the Apostles, says: “JESUS, a Man of GOD, appeared among you by miracles, and wonders, and signs, which GOD did by Him among you”. And, again, St. Paul, the master-builder of the Church, testifies that “there is one Mediator between GOD and man, the Man CHRIST JESUS".These three quotations most clearly affirm of CHRIST, after the union, that He existed in two Natures and two Qnume, and whosoever shall dispute these testimonies is lost from all truth.
On the Title “Begetter of God”
FIRST: If the Virgin is the “Begetter of GOD” and the name “GOD, we know denotes FATHER, SON and Holy Spirit” then she brought forth the TRINITY, and not the one only SON.
SECONDLY: If the Virgin is the “Begetter of GOD”, and He whom she brought forth suffered, died, and was buried, as the four Evangelists testify, either you hold that He died in reality; (and he who really dies has no power whatever to revivify others or himself, but must remain in death for ever;) and thus you declare false the saying that He rose again:
Or else you hold that He died by Hallucination, and in the same way rose again, (in which case He could not have arisen in reality, seeing that He did not die in reality); then the hope of the resurrection is vain, since hereby the saying that “He has raised us up with CHRIST”is made void.
THIRDLY: If Mary is the “Begetter of God”, and Peter testifieth of Him whom she brought forth, saying: “Thou art the CHRIST, the SON of the Living GOD:”’ then according to your statement she is not the Begetter of CHRIST, but the Begetter of His FATHER, and CHRIST is her grandson, not her son, and she is the Mother of His FATHER, Who then is the mother of CHRIST?
On Four Qnume (Hypostasis)
FIRST: If by our confession of Two Qnume in CHRIST there result four hypostasis in the Trinity; then, by your confession of two Natures in CHRIST there must equally result two Natures in the Deity.
SECONDLY:If the TRINITY, as is admitted by all, is eternal and uncompounded, and the human Qnuma is temporal and compound, how can this, in any way, be considered as a fourth Qnuma to That?
THIRDLY: If we maintained two Sons in CHRIST, this charge might justly be brought against us; because the FATHER and the SPIRIT, with these two Sons, would make four persons. But seeing that we confess but one SON, one CHRIST, one Person, we have no fear of being guilty of blasphemy.
On the Church
The term “Church” implies a congregation, and an assembly met together to unite in acts of festive celebration. It is symbolic of things above; for as the nine orders which minister to the Most High are divided in to three degrees, just so the Church. The Patriarchs, Metropolitans, and Bishops occupy the place of the Cherubim, Seraphim, and Thrones; the Archdeacons, periodeute, and Priests, the place of the Dominions, Authorities, and Powers; the Deacons, Subdeacons, and Readers, the place of the Principalities Archangles, and Angels. The name “Church” as we have said, has this signification; for CHRIST does not call material foundations and stones a “Church” but the total congregation of those who believe in Him. The nave and the sanctuary are called the Church metaphorically, and at times the name city is applicable to those who live in it, as when it is said: “all the city went out to meet JESUS “. And at times in its buildings as when it is said: “He entered into the city”. And in these foregone chapters is summed up the third treatise.
 Math. 7.12 Luke 6.31
 Job 23. 2-9. John 1.18. 5.37. 1. Tim. 1.17. 6.16
 John 1.14. John 2.21-22. Acts 17.31. Phil. 2.6-10. Acts 2.22.
Heb. 5.7. 10. 5-20. Col. 2-19
 Heb. 13.8
 Phil. 2. 9-12
 John 10. 30-38. 12.45. 14. 7-10. 11.7. John 1.14. Heb. 5.7. 10.5
 Cor. 5.21. Gal. 3.13
 Luke 1.28
 Matt. 1.20 Luke 1.34-35
 Luke 1.32
 Matt. 2.1-2
 Luke 2.10, 11, 14, 31.32
 Luke 2.40-52
 Luke 3.23
 Luke 3.1-9 Luke 3.1
 Matt. 3.13
 Matt. 3.14-15
 Peter 1.15-16
 Matt. 3.13 end. John 3.5
 Matt. 4.2 6.16-18 9.15 Luke 5.35 Matt. 11.1-14 17.21 6.5-13
 Matt. 12.19-20 5.39 end. 11.29-30 John 13.14-15 Phil. 2.5-8
 Matt. 5.19-20
 Col. 2.14 Eph. 2.13-19 15.1 Cor. 15.3-8 12-20
 1. Tim. 6.13 also 15.15
 Acts 1.3. Matt. 28.18 end.
 Luke 24.50-51
 Mark 16.19-20
 Math. 28.3
 John 17.3
 Math. 22.29-32 Luke 14.14 John S.28-29. Heb. 6.2
 Heb. 6.2 Acts. 17.31 Romans 2.16
 John 6.68. 17.3
 Math. 5.28
 Math. 6 26-28
 Math. 6.34
 Math. 5.44
 Luke 17.21
 John 17.3
 Dam. 9-25
 Math. 16.16
 Phil. 2.6-7
 Luke 1 .32-35
 John 1.14
 Acts 2.22.
 Gen. 1.1. John 1.1. Heb. 1.10. Acts 17.24. Col. 1.16-17. Heb. 11.3. Rev.4.1I. Heb.3.7-1I. Acts 5.3-4
 Eph. 2.4-6.
 Matt. 16.16
 Periodeute, a visiting priest acting Bishop’s representative in visiting parishes and monasteries.
 Acts 2.47, .5.11, 8.1-3, 9.31