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The Church as the Body of Christ: An Inquiry into the Ecclesiology of Cyril of Alexandria and Yves Congar

ELMACARI-IBRAHIM, ELRAHEB,KYRILLOS (2023) The Church as the Body of Christ: An Inquiry into the Ecclesiology of Cyril of Alexandria and Yves Congar. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Author-imposed embargo until 05 November 2025.


In 1973, the Roman Catholic and Coptic Orthodox Churches began an on-going dialogue with the intention of restoring the communion severed in the aftermath of the Council of Chalcedon (451). With the objective of advancing this dialogue by highlighting the challenges and opportunities involved, my study aims at exploring the extent to which these two bodies share a common theological understanding of the nature of the church. It is crucial that both traditions reflect on how they understand that which they are trying to bring into unity.
To enable a detailed study, just two figures are examined, one central to each tradition: Cyril of Alexandria (376-444) remains a fundamental authority in the Coptic Church of Alexandria; Yves Congar (1904-1995) was a theologian central in the developing Roman Catholic understanding of the church. One of my main conclusions is that a vision of the church as the “body of Christ” is central for both theologians. Hence, using scholarly methods of historical humanistic inquiry and textual analysis, the research investigates how far the conceptions of Cyril and Congar are informed by a common account of Christ as a union of the divine and human whose effects are somehow extended to the members of the body of Christ (the church). This core investigation is accompanied, first, by exploration of Cyril’s and Congar’s discussion of the Holy Spirit’s role in the church, and their sacramental theology. At the end of the thesis I assess how this argument may aid the ongoing conversation between the two ecclesial traditions that are my concern.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Church, Body of Christ, Cyril of Alexandria, Yves Congar
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2023
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:06 Nov 2023 09:09

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