Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

A theological term used with reference to the Incarnation to express the revealed truth that in Christ one person subsists in two natures, the Divine and the human. Hypostasis means, literally, that which lies beneath as basis or foundation. Hence it came to be used by the Greek philosophers to denote reality as distinguished from appearances (Aristotle, "Mund.", IV, 21). It occurs also in St. Paul's Epistles ( 2 Corinthians 9:4 ; 11:17 ; Hebrews 1:3 - 3:14 ), but not in the sense of person. Previous to the Council of Nicæa (325) hypostasis was synonymous with ousia , and even St. Augustine (De Trin., V, 8) avers that he sees no difference between them. The distinction in fact was brought about gradually in the course of the controversies to which the Christological heresies gave rise, and was definitively established by the Council of Chalcedon (451), which declared that in Christ the two natures, each retaining its own properties, are united in one subsistence and one person ( eis en prosopon kai mian hpostasin ) ( Denzinger, ed. Bannwart, 148). They are not joined in a moral or accidental union (Nestorius), nor commingled ( Eutyches ), and nevertheless they are substantially united. For further explanation and bibliography see: INCARNATION ; JESUS CHRIST ; MONOPHYSITISM ; NATURE; PERSON.


More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed between 1907 and 1912 in fifteen hard copy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Amos 6:1, 4-7
1 Disaster for those so comfortable in Zion and for those so confident on ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 146:7, 8-9, 9-10
7 gives justice to the oppressed, gives food to the hungry; Yahweh sets ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 16:19-31
19 'There was a rich man who used to dress in purple and fine linen and ... Read More

Reading 2, First Timothy 6:11-16
11 But, as someone dedicated to God, avoid all that. You must aim to be ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 25th, 2016 Image

St. Finbar
September 25: He was the son of an artisan and a lady of the ... Read More