Was Cyril of Alexandria a universalist?


I’ve seen some places where it states he was and other places which disagree. It does seem like quite a few of these ancient saints were universalists. I would love to know how Augustine managed to trump them.


Writing in the early 400s, Cyril strongly affirms the prevalent notion that Christ descended into the prison area of hades and brought captives out from it.

Hanson quotes him suggestively as though Cyril (as did many among those who preached that Christ led forth all souls in hades leaving only Satan behind) saved all humanity in doing so, at least up to that point.

However, Hanson, who works hard to present as many Fathers as possible as being universalists, even by mere close connection to established/suspected universalists, doesn’t have anything to say about him beyond this. This inclines me to think Hanson didn’t think he could make a persuasive case from the data, even by the standards of his method. (Hanson would probably say that the evidence for freeing from hades counts sufficiently to indicate Cyril was a believer of universalism but teaching under the doctrine of reserve so as not to cause trouble.)


It almost seems as Cyril was suggesting that death=hell and that Christ saved everyone from hell by saving them from eternal death.


That’s possible. Death (or the state of death) is seen by some to be equivalent to hell, primarily from Sheol/ Hades which is the state or “place” of the dead. IIRC, “hell” simply means “unseen”. The word implies a “covering over” from its proto-Germanic roots.