The Byzantine Fathers
Of the Sixth to Eighth Century.

Georges Florovsky.

 

Content:

Chapter One. Hymnographers, Polemicists, and Florilegia.

Hymnographers.

Hymnody and the Early Christian Liturgy. The Fifty-Ninth Canon of the Council of Laodicea. St. Basil the Great and Antiphonal Singing. The Development of Psalmody with Refrains. St. Romanus. St. Andrew of Crete. The Acathistus Hymn.

Polemicists of the Sixth and Seventh Centuries.

Minor Polemicists. St. Sophronius of Jerusalem. St. Anastasius of Sinai.

Florilegia.

Chapter Two. The Spirit of Monophysitism.

The Chalcedonian Oros and the Tragic Schism in the Church. The Language of St. Cyril and Monophysitism. The National and Regional Element in the Rise of Monophysitism. The Lack of a Feeling for Human Freedom in Monophysite Theology. The Similarity Between Monophysitism and Augustinianism. Julian of Halicarnassus. The Inner Duality in the Monophysite Movement. The Theological Controversy and the Emphasis on the Appeal to Tradition. Justinian and the Mood of the Time. The Condemnation of Origenism as the Condemnation of the Inner Temptations of Alexandrian Theology.

Chapter Three. Sketches in the History of Monophysitism.

The Mood at Chalcedon. The Tome of Pope Leo.

The Literary Style of the Tome. The Weakness of the Tome: The Latin Theological Tradition and Greek Theological Categories of Thought. The Lack of a Definition of Person. A Lucid Confession of Faith in a Radiant Fog.

The Chalcedonian Oros.

A Stumbling Block and a Temptation for the Egyptians. The Text of the Chalcedonian Oros. The Formula of Reunion of 433 and the Chalcedonian Oros. The Cutting Edge of the Chalcedonian Oros. The Paradoxical Unspokenness in the Chalcedonian Oros. The Fathers of Chalcedon and Their Two-Sided Problem. The Disturbing Vagueness to the Easterners. The Necessity for a Theological Commentary.

The Reaction to the Council of Chalcedon.

The Reaction in Alexandria. The Opponents to the Council of Chalcedon as "Dissidents" not "Heretics" and their Political Loyalty. The Alexandrians and Proterius. The Reaction in Jerusalem: Juvenal and Theodosius. The Special Situation of Palestine. The Reaction of Rome. The Reaction in Antioch. Peter the Fuller’s Arrival in Antioch and the Alteration of the Trisagion Hymn. The Death of Emperor Marcian and the Return to Alexandria of the Exiled Opponents to the Council of Chalcedon. The Monophysite Election of Timothy Aelurus as Patriarch of Alexandria and the Murder of Proterius. The Coronation of Emperor Leo I and Policy in Alexandria. The Exile of Timothy Aelurus and the Election of Timothy Salafaciolus as Patriarch of Alexandria. The Deposition of Peter the Fuller in Antioch, the Return of Patriarch Martyrius, and Splits within Monophysitism. The Influence of the Germanic Tribes on the Latin West and on Byzantium. The Defeat of Attila and the Increase of Germanic Influence. Emperor Leo I and the Termination of the Influence of Aspar the Ostrogoth. Emperor Zeno and Isaurian Influence.

The Loss of the Chalcedonian West to Theodoric and Emperor Basiliscus’ Attempt to Reach a Compromise With the Non-Chalcedonians.

The Encyclical of Basiliscus 476. The Refusal of Patriarch Acacius to Sign the Encyclical. Timothy Aelurus’ Rejection of Extreme Monophysitism. Timothy Aelurus’ Council of Ephesus. Patriarch Acacius and St. Daniel the Stylite. The Return of Emperor Zeno and the Murder of Basiliscus. The Death of Timothy Aelurus and the Election of Peter Mongus. A Time of Trouble in Antioch. The Appointment of Calendio as Patriarch of Antioch. Political and Ecclesiastical Intrigues. John Talaia and Peter Mongus. The Henotikon of Zeno 482. Pope St. Felix III. The Exile of Calendio and the Return of Peter Mongus.

The Confession of Faith of the Church in Persia. The Schools of Edessa and Nisibis.

Edessa. Nisibis. The Emergence of New Personalities: Philoxenus and Severus.

The Death of Patriarch Acacius and the Situation Inherited by his Successors, Fravitta and Euphemius.

Peter Mongus and Fravitta. Patriarch Euphemius. The Death of Emperor Zeno and the Selection of Emperor Anastasius. The Death of Pope Felix III and the Papacy Under Pope Gelasius. The Death of Pope Gelasius and the Papacy Under Anastasius II.

The Papal Schism: Symmachus and Laurentius. Patriarch Flavian of Antioch and the Struggle with Philoxenus.

Patriarch Macedonius of Constantinople and his Encounter with Philoxenus and Emperor Anastasius. Philoxenus’ Continued Struggle in Antioch. Severus of Antioch. The Revolt of Vitalian the Goth.

Negotiations Between Pope Hormisdas and Emperor Anastasius.

The Accession to the Throne of Justin I and Justinian I. The Chalcedonian Reaction in Constantinople. The Chalcedonian Reaction in Antioch. Justinian’s Negotiations with Pope Hormisdas.

The Imperial Edict Compelling Acceptance of Chalcedon and the Arrest Order for Severus.

John of Tella. Persecution of non-Chalcedonians in Edessa. Severus’ Activity in Exile. The Controversy Between Severus and Julian of Halicarnassus.

The Imperial Edict Against Arians and the Reaction of Theodoric.

Theodora’s Monastery of Refuge for Exiled Monophysites. Monophysite Missionary Activity from Theodora’s Monastery. The Relaxation of Justinian’s Policy and the Nika Riots.

Justinian’s Request for a Theological Conference and the Petition of the Monophysites.

Theodoras Influence: Severus Visits Constantinople. Theodoras Influence: Anthimus of Trebizond Becomes Patriarch of Constantinople. Pope Agapetus Visits Constantinople on Request of Theodahad, the Gothic King. Pope Agapetus Consecrates Patriarch Menas in Constantinople.

The Decisions of Justinian’s Standing Council of Bishops In 536.

Theodora’s Agreement with the Roman Deacon Vigilius. The Prospect of Monophysitism after its Defeat at the Conference of 536.

Justinian’s Contra Monophysitas and his Interest in Theology.

The Military Attacks by the Bulgars and the Persians and the Outbreak of the Plague. Jacob Baradaeus. John of Ephesus. Missionary Work in Nubia.

Justinian and the Fifth Ecumenical Council.

Pope Vigilius Forcibly Taken to Constantinople. The Fifth Ecumenical Council. The Anathemas of the Fifth Ecumenical Council. Anathemas Against Origen and Origenism. Pope Vigilius and the Fifth Ecumenical Council.

The Deposing of Pope Vigilius by the Fifth Ecumenical Council.

The Earlier Years of Pope Pelagius and His Ultimate Recognition of the Fifth Ecumenical Council. The Result of the Fifth Ecumenical Council and a Glimpse at Its Sessions. The Firm Resistance to Justinian’s Stunning Edict of 564 Proclaiming Aphthartodocetism Orthodox. The Twilight of Justinian’s Reign. The Actions of the Exiled Monophysite "Patriarch" Theodosius in His Last Days. Justin II’s Convocation of the Monophysite Conference of 566. The Monophysite Conference at Callinicum. The Imperial Summons for Another Conference Among the Monophysites at Constantinople. The Varieties of Monophysite Thought. The Reign of Terror Unleashed by Patriarch John Scholasticus Against the Monophysites of Constantinople in 571. The Death of Patriarch John and the Recall of the Exiled Patriarch Eutychius. Internal Dissenion Among the Monophysites: Problems Caused by the Reconciliation of Paul the Black with Jacob. The Election of Two Monophysite Patriarchs of Alexandria: Theodore of Rhamnis and Peter. The Death of Jacob Baradaeus. Damianus of Alexandria and the Conference on unity Among the Monophysites Requested by Almoundir. The Theological Quarrel Between Damianus of Alexandria and Peter Callinicum of Antioch. The Monophysite Conference at the Gubba Barraya Monastery. Pope Gregory I and the Chalcedonian Patriarch of Alexandria Eulogius. The Election of the Monk Athanasius as Patriarch of Antioch. Maurice Accuses Al-Moundir of Treason and the Consequent Splitting of the Ghassanid Kingdom. The Policy of Emperor Maurice (582-602): Persecution of the Monophysites in Constantinople. Emperor Maurices Extension of Imperial Rule in Armenia and the Ecclesiastical Result. The Persecution of Monophysites in Melitene and Mesopotamia Unleashed by Domitian, Bishop of Melitene. Emperor Maurice and Chosroes II of Persia. The Bloody Reign of Emperor Phocas (602-610). The Edict of Emperor Phocas to Pope Boniface III. The Advance of the Persian Army and the Religious Policy of Chosroes II. The Accession of Emperor Heraclius (610-641).

Patriarch Segius and the Beginning of Monothelitism. The Role of Pope Honorius in the Rise of Monothelitism. The Islamic Conquests.

Chapter Four. Leontius of Byzantium.

Life.

The Controversial Corpus of "Leontius."

The Theological Thought in the Corpus of "Leontius."

The Quest for Precise Definitions. The Concepts of Nature, Essence, and Hypostasis. The Reality of Enhypostasis. The Mystery of the Incarnation and Union as a Presupposition of the Existence of Duality. Hypostasis and the Communicatio Idiomatum. Leontius’ Criticism of St. Cyril’s Formula. Leontius’ Dispute with the Aphthartodocetists.

Chapter Five. The Spirit of Monenergism and Monothelitism. Chapter Six. St. Maximus the Confessor.

The Life of St. Maximus.

The Writings of St. Maximus. The Theology of St. Maximus.

Revelation as the Central Theme in the Theology of St. Maximus the Confessor. New Development of the Logos Doctrine and the Doctrine of the Knowledge of God. The God-Man. Man’s Path.

The Sixth Ecumenical Council.

Chapter Seven. St. John of Damascus.

The Life of St. John of Damascus. The Writings of st. John of Damascus.

The Theological System of St. John of Damascus. The Defense of the Holy Ikons.

The Seventh Ecumenical Council 787.

The Definition of Faith. The Council’s Letter to Irene and Constantine VI.

The Iconoclastic Controversy.

Notes.

 

In Memoriam Fr. Georges Florovsky 1893-1979.

"Preeminent Orthodox Christian Theologian, Ecumenical Spokesman, And Authority on Russian Letters."

[All quotations are from pages 5 and 11 of the Harvard Gazette of October 1, 1982, written by George H. Williams, Hollis Professor of Divinity Emeritus, Harvard Divinity School and Edward Louis Keenan, Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University and "placed upon the records" at the Harvard Faculty of Divinity Meeting on September 16, 1982.]

"Archpriest Professor Georges Vasilyevich Florovsky (1893-1979), preeminent theologian of Orthodoxy and historian of Christian thought, ecumenical leader and interpreter of Russian literature … died in Princeton, New Jersey in his 86th year" on August 11, 1979.

Born in Odessa in 1893, Fr. Florovsky was the beneficiary of that vibrant Russian educational experience which flourished toward the end of the 19th century and produced many gifted scholars. His father was rector of the Theological Academy and dean of the Cathedral of the Transfiguration. His mother, Klaudia Popruzhenko, was the daughter of a professor of Hebrew and Greek. Fr. Florovsky’s first scholarly work, "On Reflex Salivary Secretion," written under one of Pavlov’s students, was published in English in 1917 in the last issue of The Bulletin of the Imperial Academy of Sciences.

In 1920, with his parents and his brother Antonii, Fr. Florovsky left Russia and settled first in Sophia, Bulgaria. He left behind his brother, Vasilii, a surgeon, who died in the 1924 famine, and his sister Klaudia V. Florovsky, who became a professor of history at the University of Odessa. In 1921 the President of Czechoslovakia, Thomas Masaryk, invited Fr. Florovsky and his brother Antonii to Prague. Fr. Florovsky taught the philosophy of law. Antonii later became a professor of history at the University of Prague.

In 1922 Georges Florovsky married Xenia Ivanovna Simonova and they resettled in Paris where he became cofounder of St. Sergius Theological Institute and taught there as professor of patristics (1926-1948). In 1932 he was ordained a priest and placed himself canonically under the patriarch of Constantinople.

In 1948 he came to the United States and was professor of theology at St. Vladimir’s Theological Seminary from 1948 to 1955, and dean from 1950. From 1954 to 1965 he was professor of Eastern Church History at Harvard Divinity School and, concurrently (1962-1965) an associate of the Slavic Department and (1955-1959) an associate professor of theology at Holy Cross Theological School.

"Although Fr. Florovsky’s teaching in the Slavic Department [at Harvard University] was only sporadic, he became a major intellectual influence in the formation of a generation of American specialists in Russian cultural history. His lasting importance in this area derives not from his formal teaching but from the time and thought he gave to informal "circles" that periodically arose around him in Cambridge among those who had read The Ways of Russian Theology [then only in Russian], for decades a kind of "underground book" among serious graduate students of Russian intellectual history, and had sought him out upon discovering that he was at the Divinity School … During a portion of his incumbency at Harvard … patristics and Orthodox thought and institutions from antiquity into 20th century Slavdom flourished. In the Church History Department meetings he spoke up with clarity. In the Faculty meetings he is remembered as having energetically marked book catalogues on his lap for the greater glory of the Andover Harvard Library! In 1964 Fr. Florovsky was elected a director of the Ecumenical Institute founded by Paul VI near Jerusalem." Active in both the National Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches, Fr. Florovsky was Vice President-at-Large of the National Council of Churches from 1954 to 1957.

"After leaving Harvard, Professor Emeritus Florovsky taught from 1965 to 1972 in Slavic Studies at Princeton University, having begun lecturing there already in 1964; and he was visiting lecturer in patristics at Princeton Theological Seminary as early as 1962 and then again intermittently after retirement from the University. His last teaching was in the fall semester of 1978/79 at Princeton Theological Seminary."

"Fr. Florovsky in the course of his career was awarded honorary doctorates by St. Andrew’s University … Boston University, Notre Dame, Princeton University, the University of Thessalonica, St. Vladimir’s Theological Seminary, and Yale. He was a member or honorary member of the Academy of Athens, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the British Academy, and the Fellowship of St. Alban and St. Sergius."

Fr. Florovsky personified the cultivated, well-educated Russian of the turn of the century. His penetrating mind grasped both the detail and depth in the unfolding drama of the history of Christianity in both eastern and western forms. He was theologian, church historian, patristic scholar, philosopher, Slavist, and a writer in comparative literature. "Fr. Florovsky sustained his pleasure on reading English novels, the source in part of his extraordinary grasp of the English language, which, polyglot that he was, he came to prefer above any other for theological discourse and general exposition. Thus when he came to serve in Harvard’s Slavic Department, there was some disappointment that he did not lecture in Russian, especially in his seminars on Dostoievsky, Soloviev, Tolstoi, and others. It was as if they belonged to a kind of classical age of the Russian tongue and civilization that, having been swept away as in a deluge, he treated as a Latin professor would Terrence or Cicero, not presuming to give lectures in the tonalities of an age that had vanished forever."

Fr. Florovsky’s influence on contemporary church historians and Slavists was vast. The best contemporary multi-volume history of Christian thought pays a special tribute to Fr. Florovsky. Jaroslav Pelikan of Yale University, in the bibliographic section to his first volume in The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, writes under the reference to Fr. Florovsky’s two works in Russian on the Eastern Fathers: "These two works are basic to our interpretation of trinitarian and christological dogmas" (p. 359 fromThe Emergence of the Catholic Tradition: 100-600). George Huntston Williams, Hollis Professor Emeritus of Harvard Divinity School, wrote: "Faithful priestly son of the Russian Orthodox Church …, Fr. Georges Florovsky — with a career-long involvement in the ecumenical dialogue — is today the most articulate, trenchant and winsome exponent of Orthodox theology and piety in the scholarly world. He is innovative and creative in the sense wholly of being ever prepared to restate the saving truth of Scripture and Tradition m the idiom of our contemporary yearning for the transcendent."

Author’s Preface (1978).

These four volumes on the Eastern Fathers of the fourth century and the Byzantine fathers from the fifth to eighth centuries were originally published in 1931 and 1933 in Russian. They contained my lectures given at the Institute of Orthodox Theology in Paris from 1928 to 1931 and were originally published in Russian more or less in the form in which they were originally delivered. They therefore lacked exact references and appropriate footnotes. Another reason for the omission of reference material in the 1931 and 1933 publications is that the books were originally published at my own expense and strict economy was therefore necessary. In fact, their publication was only the result of the generous cooperation and help of personal friends. These English publications must be dedicated to their memory. The initiative of the original publication was taken by Mrs. Elizabeth Skobtsov, who became an Orthodox nun and was later known under her monastic name of Mother Maria. It was she who typed the original manuscripts and she who was able to persuade Mr. Iliia Fondaminsky, at that time one of the editors of the renowned Russian review, Sovremennye Zapiski [Annales Contemporaries], to assume financial responsibility. Both these friends perished tragically in German concentration camps. They had been inspired by the conviction that books in Russian on the Fathers of the Church were badly needed, not only by theological students, but also by a much wider circle of those concerned with doctrinal and spiritual vistas and issues of Eastern Orthodox Tradition. Their expectation was fully justified: the volumes in Russian rapidly sold out and were warmly appreciated in the general press.

When I began teaching at the Paris Institute, as Professor of Patrology, I had to face a preliminary methodological problem. The question of the scope and manner of Patristic studies had been vigorously debated by scholars for a long time. (There is an excellent book by Fr. J. de Ghellinck, S.J., Patristique et Moyen Age, Volume II, 1947, pp. 1-180). The prevailing tendency was to treat Patrology as a history of Ancient Christian Literature, and the best modern manuals of Patrology in the West were written precisely in this manner: Bardenhewer, Cay re, Tixeront, Quasten, adherents to this school of thought, made only sporadic reference to certain points of doctrine but their approach was no doubt legitimate and useful. However, another cognate discipline came into existence during the last century, Dogmengeschichte, or the school of the history of doctrine. Here scholars were concerned not so much with individual writers or thinkers but rather with what can be defined as the "internal dialectics" of the Christian "mind" and with types and trends of Christian thought.

In my opinion, these two approaches to the same material must be combined and correlated. I have tried to do precisely this with the revision of some of the material for the English publications. I have written some new material on the external history and especially on the ecumenical councils. But in essence Patrology must be more than a kind of literary history. It must be treated rather as a history of Christian doctrine, although the Fathers were first of all testes veritatis, witnesses of truth, of the faith. "Theology" is wider and more comprehensive than "doctrine." It is a kind of Christian Philosophy. Indeed, there is an obvious analogy between the study of Patristics and the study of the history of Philosophy. Historians of Philosophy are as primarily concerned with individual thinkers as they are interested ultimately in the dialectics of ideas. The "essence" of philosophy is exhibited in particular systems. Unity of the historical process is assured because of the identity of themes and problems to which both philosophers and theologians are committed. I would not claim originality for my method, for it has been used occasionally by others. But I would underline the theological character of Patrology.

These books were written many years ago. At certain points they needed revision or extension. To some extent, this has been done. Recent decades have seen the rapid progress of Patristic studies in many directions. We now have better editions of primary sources than we had forty or even thirty years ago. We now have some new texts of prime importance: for example, the Chapters of Evagrius or the new Sermons of St. John Chrysostom. Many excellent monograph studies have been published in recent years. But in spite of this progress I do not think that these books, even without the revisions and additions, have been made obsolete. Based on an independent study of primary sources, these works may still be useful to both students and scholars.

Georges Florovsky September, 1978

 

Chapter One.
Hymnographers, Polemicists, and Florilegia.

Hymnographers.

Hymnody and the Early Christian Liturgy.

From the beginning the character of the Christian liturgy was more dogmatic than lyrical. This is connected with its mystical realism. On the human side, the liturgy is, first of all, a confession — a testimony of faith, not only an outpouring of feelings. It is for this reason that the dogmatic and theological disputes left such a noticeable trace on the history of liturgical poetry. As early as the dogmatic disputes of the late second century, references to ancient psalms to the glory of Christ, the Lord God, receive the power of a theological argument as evidence from liturgical tradition. St. Basil the Great, in his disputes with the Arians over the Divinity of the Spirit, also relies on the testimony of liturgical tradition. Pope Celestine subsequently advances a general principle that a law of faith is defined as a law of prayer — ut legem credendi statuit lex supplicandi (Capitula Celestini, 8, alias 11). The redaction of these chapters which are known to us evidently belongs to Prosper of Aquitaine. Thus the liturgical rite obtains recognition as a dogmatic monument or dogmatic source.

At an earlier time creative improvization occupied a very significant place in the liturgy (see I Corinthians 14:26). This was the case even in the second and third centuries, as the testimony of Justin Martyr and Tertullian bear witness. These were primarily hymns and psalms — songs of praise and thanksgiving. It is sufficient to name the great prayer in the Epistle of Clement of Rome. Other of these ancient hymns remained in liturgical use forever; for example, the ancient hymn, Gladsome LightΦώς ιλαρόν which dates back to the very earliest of times and is still sung at every Vesper Service in the Orthodox Church. Mention must also be made of the doxologies and hymns of thanks in the Alexandrian copy of the Bible, and in the seventh book of the Apostolic Constitutions.

 

The Fifty-Ninth Canon of the Council of Laodicea.

In the fourth century we observe a liturgical turning point. It was partly connected with the dogmatic struggle, and partly with the development and spread of monasticism. Very instructive is the famous Fifty-Ninth Canon of the Council of Laodicea (fourth century) which forbids "reading ordinary psalms and books not determined by the rule of the Church” — διωτικούς ψαλμούς; ουδέ ακανόνιστα βιβλία. “No psalms composed by private individuals nor any uncanonical books may be read in the Church, but only the Canonical Books of the Old and New Testaments." Later Byzantine canonists suggested that what is at issue here are the so-called "psalms of Solomon," and others similar to those. It is more probable to think that the Laodicean rule had a wider and more direct meaning. By analogy with the Sixtieth Canon which defines the contents of the Biblical canon — precisely in connection with the liturgical reading of the Biblical books — it is possible to see in the Fifty-Ninth Canon an attempt to consolidate a definite "canon" in the liturgy as well, excluding all "unholy" hymns from the liturgical ordinary. This prohibition refers to all "false" hymns into which dogmatic ambiguity and even plain delusion had easily entered. Phrygia had always been in its own way a nest of heresy, and psalms were a very convenient and effective means for disseminating and instilling false views. We know very well that this means was constantly being utilized by ancient sectarians and false teachers. It is sufficient to recall the hymns or "psalms" of the Gnostics and Montanists, and, from a later era, the hymns of Arius in his Thalia and Apollinarius’ New Psalter. Under the conditions of dogmatic struggle, the attempt to bring liturgical singing within precise and strict bounds was entirely understandable. The simplest solution of all was to return to Biblical psalmody, to the "proclaiming" of the canonical psalms attributed to David. From the beginning they came into Christian use from the observances of the services from the synagogue. In the fourth century Biblical motifs became even more noticeable in the liturgy. This was instituted deliberately — it was not merely an involuntary recollection.

St. Basil the Great and Antiphonal Singing.

The liturgical procedure established by St. Basil the Great in his cloisters had special influence. His disputes with the Neo-Caesareans was characteristic. They accused him of innovations: he had introduced antiphonal singing of songs and singing with refrains. St. Basil did not deny that this was a new procedure — besides, it had already been accepted everywhere (see Eterius’ Pilgrimage concerning the service in Jerusalem). However, the Neo-Caesareans had their innovations too — some "supplications" ("litanies") of a penitential nature. But this is not what Basil is stressing: "and we do nothing but pray publicly about our sins, only with the difference that we petition our God not with human phrases, like you, but with words of the Spirit" (Letter, 207). St. Basil emphasizes that with the Neo-Caesareans there is much which proves to be insufficient "because of the antiquity of the statute;" that is, obsolescence (see On the Holy Spirit, chapter 29).

The Development of Psalmody with Refrains.

The custom of psalmody with refrains becomes common at this time in urban or synodical churches — both in Alexandria under St. Athanasius and in Antioch under Diodore and St. John Chrysostom. "In our gatherings David is first, middle, and last," says St. John Chrysostom. This was the rebirth of Old Testament custom (see the refrain in the very text of the 135th Psalm). From the refrains there gradually developed new psalms closely tied to the Biblical text which they reveal or elucidate. Psalmody (the "sequence of psalms") receives a special development in the monasteries. Here a daily cycle of prayers and liturgy was compiled and consolidated. At its foundation lies the "versification" of the Psalter. Monks in Egyptian monasteries avoided long prayers. Prayer has to be frequent, but concise — "lest the Enemy have time to distract our heart," as the abbot Isaac explained to John Cassian.

Solemn singing was considered inappropriate. "Monks did not go into the wilderness in order to sing melodic songs," said an Alexandrian abbot to his disciples. "What kind of emotion is possible for monks if in the Church or their cells they raise their voices like oxen!" This striving to pray "with the words of the Spirit, this abstention from new hymns and psalms composed "according to the custom of the Hellenes" is very characteristic. Sometimes verses from patristic works were joined to the Psalms and Biblical songs. For example, the abbot Dorotheus speaks of St. Gregory of Nazianzus’ "song of dicta." Monastic liturgies, whether cenobitic or anchoritic, were more penitential as opposed to the more ancient "cathedral" liturgy which was solemn and laudatory.

New liturgical poetry begins to develop comparatively late and very gradually on the new foundation. New hymns are composed. The story of the venerable Auxentius (of the time of the Council of Chalcedon) is interesting. The people would throng before his cave. The ascetic would proclaim individual verses and the crowd would respond with short refrains — from the Psalms or the ancient hymns. One of Auxentius1 friends was Anthimius, the first creator of anthems." The liturgical rite developed independently in various places. Especially important centers were the Great Church in Constantinople — the Hagia Sophia, the Sinai cloisters, and the laura of St. Sabas the Illuminator. At first it was the influence of the monasteries of Syria and Palestine which was decisive in the history of liturgical poetry. From here come all the significant psalmists of the sixth and seventh centuries, and even the eighth century, right up to St. John of Damascus. Here the traditions of Greek and Syrian poetry intersect. These new hymns reflect the era with its Christological disturbances and disputes. The idea of consolidating the already existing rite arises very early. Thus is composed the "regulations" — the Typikon. The Greek title expresses not only the motif of a norm or order but first of all a model. The Typikon is not so much a book of rules as a book of examples or models.

We are forced to reconstruct the history of hymnody from comparatively late records. It is not always possible to detach the most ancient layers from later strata with total certainty. The inscriptions of names even in the oldest manuscripts are not very reliable. Generally speaking, the oldest hymns were supplanted by the works of later psalmists, particularly in the period when the statutes were definitely consolidated or recorded. In addition, the liturgy becomes more and more anonymous and supra-personal. Early Byzantine liturgical poetry reaches its highest peak in the dogmatic hymnody of St. John of Damascus.

St. Romanus.

Within the ranks of early Byzantine poets and hymnologists we must mention first St. Romanus ‘Melodus’ — ό μελωδός (c. 490-560). Strangely enough, none of the historians mention him. We know of his life only from the Menaion under October 1. Hie was of Syrian origin, from Emesa. Legendary material indicates that he was of Jewish origin. He was a deacon first in Beirut before coming to Constantinople under the reign of Anastasius I (491-518). St. Romanus was a creator of the Kontakion, a term which comes from the staff about which the inscribed scroll is wrapped. They were "hymns of praise for Holy Days" and usually had an acrostic of his name. The Kontakion is organized in a strophic system and usually consisted of twenty-four stanzas. Each stanza is a perfect structural imitation of the first. The metrical system of the Kontakion is based on stress and accent and hence the rhythm was influenced by the melody. It is not easy to determine the volume of his creative legacy precisely. Approximately one thousand hymns have been ascribed to him but only approximately eighty metrical sermons have come down to us under his name. Among the best are his Kontakia for the great Holy Days — Christmas, Candlemas (the feast commemorating the purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the presentation of Christ in the Temple which is known in Eastern Christianity as υπαπαντή, which is The Meeting1 of Christ with Simeon), the Annunciation, and the Resurrection (or ‘Easter’) — "If you entered the grave, Immortal…").

St. Romanus’ works stand out for their richness and the elegance of their poetic form. Their content is quite simple and free of allegory, but the author’s dogmatic pathos reaches a high intensity. He is always concerned with a Christological theme. He sings of the invariable union of two natures, and constantly goes on the attack against the heretics — his songs are full of polemical allusions. He is harsh in his denunciations of philosophers and especially doctors. This is fully in keeping with the mood of Justinian’s time. With the rise of the canon in the composition of the Matin service, most of the works of St. Romanus were forced out of use. St. Romanus has been described as "perhaps the greatest religious poet of all time" and his works as "masterpieces of world literature."

St. Andrew of Crete.

We also know little about the life of another great Byzantine hymnologist, St. Andrew of Crete (c. 660-740). And once again what knowledge we have comes from the Menaion. The chronicler names Andrew of Crete among the members of the council held in 712 under pressure from emperor Philippicus-Bardanes (711-713), the council which repudiated the acts of the Sixth Ecumenical Council. This was an act of unworthy compliance but not of apostasy. The council held in 712 was a Monothelite council and at this St. Andrew subscribed to the repudiation of two wills in Christ. In 713 he retracted and explained his doctrine in a metrical confession. St. Andrew was a native of Damascus, became a deacon in Constantinople (c. 685) and the head of a refuge for orphans and the elderly, and later became archbishop of Gortyna in Crete in 692. He was a remarkable orator and hymn-writer. He evidently was the first composer of the famous Great Canon — ό μέγας κανών. The Triodion which bears the name of St. Sophronius probably belongs not to St. Andrew but to Joseph the Hymnologist of the ninth century. Most of St. Andrew’s canons went out of use quite early.

The most remarkable one by St. Andrew is, of course, the Great Canon. It is known to us in a later revision by the Studites. The Irmos and anthems of Marius the Egyptian do not belong to Andrew. More than anything else, this is a unique penitential autobiography — hence, that élan and intensity of personal feeling which permeate this epic of a grief-stricken soul. Biblicism is characteristic for St. Andrew. At times he virtually repeats Biblical texts. The Great Canon is overcrowded with Biblical reminiscences. A long line of vivid penitential images from the Bible stretches from Adam to the prudent thief. The Biblical text is very often perceived allegorically — but this is moral, not speculative, allegorism. St. Andrew expresses few dogmatic motifs. Penitential lyrics predominate. We should also note his Triodia for the first days of Holy Week (they are now sung at Vespers in the Eastern Orthodox Church during Holy Lent). As a liturgical form, the canon received its furthest development and refinement in the creations of St. John of Damascus and Cosmas of Maiuma (he must be distinguished from another hymn-writer named Cosmas who was his and St. John of Damascus’ mentor. However, it is virtually impossible to distinguish the works of the two hymn-writers named Cosmas. In the eighth century Stephen the Sabbite was also composing canons of hymns. The iconoclastic troubles also had an unhealthy effect on Church singing and hymnology.

The Acathistus Hymn.

Among the monuments of Constantinopolitan hymnody we must make note of the renowned Acathistus — ακάθιστος which literally means “Not Sitting” because it was sung standing. In the later statutes this famous liturgical hymn in honor of the Blessed Mother Mary became sung — and still is — on the Saturday of the fifth week of Great Lent. It consists of twenty-four stanzas of various lengths, each beginning with one of the twenty-four letters of the Greek alphabet. The text is based on the Gospel narratives of the Nativity. The author of the Acathistus is unknown. According to a widespread belief it was composed by Sergius, the Monothelite patriarch of Constantinople in thanksgiving for the deliverance of his city from the Avars and Slavs in 626. But this is very doubtful. It has also been ascribed to George Pisides but this too is doubtful. A ninth century manuscript of St. Gall claims that it was written by patriarch Germanus who, after the defeat of the Saracens before Constantinople in 717-718, instituted a special feast in which the Acathistus was to be sung. Some scholars accept this but it, too, is not at all conclusive.

Apparently the Acathistus is preserved in a later revision which altered the original plan and the very theme of the hymn. Originally its theme was more Christological than Mariological. This original redaction can be dated with some hesitation to the time of emperor Heraclius in the early seventh century (610-641).

 

Polemicists of the Sixth and Seventh Centuries.

Minor Polemicists.

At the very beginning of the sixth century a certain Palestinian monk named Nephalius wrote against Severus. We know of this only through Severus’ response, his Orationes ad Nephalium. A little later John the Grammarian of Caesarea voiced his objections to Severus. This John also wrote in defense of the Council of Chalcedon and should not be confused with John Philoponus, the Monophysite philosopher of Alexandria who bears also the title "the Grammarian." We also know about these objections only from Severus’ work, Contra Grammaticum. From the same period is the polemical work by John of Scythopolis, Against the Aposchistae, which St. Photius claims was written as a response to a work titled Against Nestorius written "by the father of the Aposchistae." The only work of John’s for which there is any substantial record is his Apology, a work in defense of the Council of Chalcedon. The fathers of the Sixth Ecumenical Council refer to John’s work Against Severus (see Doctrina patrum de Incarnatione Verbi). Heracleon, bishop of Chalcedon, wrote against the Eutychians and Photius refers to an expansive work by Heracleon against Manichaeism. Mention should also be made of the Dogmatic Panoply, probably composed by Pamphilus of Jerusalem, who was a friend of Cosmas Indicopleustes (Cosmas, the "Indian navigator," was a merchant from Alexandria who later in life became a monk; he travelled on the Eastern seas and wrote the noteworthy Christian Topography — Χριστιανική τοπογραφία — which is an attack on the Ptolemaic system in favor of certain fantastic doctrines of astrology used to attempt to harmonize with a literal understanding of the Bible — the main value of his work is its geographical information and its testimony to the spread of Christianity at that time).

The time of Justinian was a time of special polemical agitation connected with the attempts to reach an agreement and reunite the Church. To start with, we must note the dogmatic epistles of the emperor himself. In any event, Justinian was theologically educated. For all of his attraction to reunification with the Monophysites, he himself theologized in a completely orthodox way. Only in his old age was he carried away by the doctrine of the Aphthartodocetists but his edict on this has not come down to us. According to Michael the Syrian, Justinian’s Aphtharto -docetism differed little from the views of Julian of Halicarnassus (Chronicle, 9, 34).

Justinian’s weakness was in hurrying to decree his theological views as the norm of confessions. Also, in his striving for unity, he would sometimes be too tolerant, while at other times he would turn into "a Diocletian." However, in his theology he always tried to start from the patristic traditions. His theological tastes are very typical — he was repulsed by Antiochene theology and exasperated by Origen. Closest to him were St. Cyril and the Cappadocians. In general, Justinian was very close to Leontius of Byzantium and Leontius of Jerusalem but we do not encounter in Justinian the doctrine of "enhypostasisness" — his language is less precise.

The polemical activity of Ephraem of Antioch dates back to Justinian’s time. Ephraem was patriarch from 526 to 544. His writings are known to us from St. Photius. He wrote against the Nestorians and the Monophysites, in defense of St. Cyril and in defense of the Council of Chalcedon. He was a resolute adversary of Origenism. Especially curious are his remarks against the Julianists (concerning Adam’s "immortality").

The dogmatic and polemical tracts of John Maxentius, who is well for his participation in the so-called "Theopaschite"disputes, are very interesting. He also disputed with the Nestorians, the Pelagians, and the Monophysites. He developed the formula of the Scythian monks — "One of the Holy Trinity suffered" — into an integral theological doctrine on redemption.

Also extremely interesting is the dogmatic epistle of a certain monk Eustaphius On Two Natures, in which the dispute with Severus is reduced to the question of two operations — this was in connection with the Monophysite criticism of Pope Leo’s Tome. St. Photius recounts in detail a book by a certain monk Jovus, titled On the Incarnation. This work is very characteristic in its plan and terminology.

It is especially necessary to note a tract by Timothy of Constantinople On the Acceptance of Heretics [De receptione haereticorum; Περι των προσερχόμενων τη άγια εκκλησία. This work is rich in factual data concerning the history of the persuasions and divisions within Monophysite circles.

The activity of Anastasius of Antioch dates back to the late sixth century. He occupied the throne in the sixties but was later exiled and incarcerated. He returned to Antioch about 593. He wrote extensively in his confinement, mostly against the Aphthartodocetists. His compositions were published only in a Latin translation. It is characteristic that Anastasius relies almost exclusively on the Scriptures, and almost does not mention the fathers at all. Anastasius’ basic idea is the sufferings of the God-Man. His ideas were echoed by St. Maximus the Confessor and St. John of Damascus.

St. Eulogius of Alexandria was active at the same time. As one of the Antiochene father superiors, he ascended the Alexandrian throne about 583 and occupied it until his death in 607. He wrote extensively but most of his writings are known to us only from excerpts provided by St. Photius. Of the fragments preserved by St. Photius’ quotations, the passages from the apparently voluminous dogmatic work On the Holy Trinity and the Incarnation are especially characteristic. It must be stressed that St. Eulogius develops the doctrine of the "natural" human will in Christ very precisely. He speaks directly about "two operations" and "two desires," and he corroborates his reflections with a deep analysis of the basic Gospel texts. In this respect he is the direct predecessor of St. Maximus the Confessor.

St. Sophronius of Jerusalem.

Of the writers of the seventh century we must first of all name St. Sophronius of Jerusalem. He came from a monastic milieu. There is much foundation for seeing a future patriarch in that Sophronius the Sophist. He was from Damascus, and born about 560. In his youth he was a "sophist;" that is, a teacher of philology. But early on he went into a monastery, the laura of St. Theodosius, where he met and became good friends with John Moschus (d. 619 or 620), the seventh century Byzantine monk, traveler, and writer, known mainly for his collection of vivid monastic tales entitled Λειμων [in Latin known as Pratum spirituale] which he dedicated to his friend St. Sophronius. Together, John Moschus and St. Sophronius travelled widely — to Palestine, Egypt, Sinai, Cyprus, Antioch, Egypt and Rome. It was in Rome that John Moschus died. St. Sophronius brought his remains to the monastery of St. Theodosius. He completed and published John’s Leimon [Pratum spirituale].

St. Sophronius was again in Egypt in 633. He was there when the Monothelite movement began, and he immediately came out against Cyrus of Phasis, patriarch of Alexandria. In that same year St. Sophronius travelled to Constantinople to attempt to persuade Patriarch Sergius I, the leading figure among the Monothelites, to accept the orthodox position but his mission failed. In 634 he was elected to the throne of Jerusalem. This was the time of the Saracen invasion and taking of Jerusalem. By the autumn of 637 St. Sophronius saw that the Holy City of Jerusalem had no choice but to surrender. St. Sophronius, however, refused to deal with anyone about the surrender except the caliph himself. And in point of fact the caliph did undertake the journey from Medina to Jerusalem. The Caliph Omar entered the city in his ragged clothing, common for the caliphs of Medina but not for the later caliphs of Damascus and Bagdad, and was given a tour of the Holy City’s monuments by St. Sophronius. It is reported that St. Sophronius remained externally polite but that he was disgusted at the ragged sight of this new master of the Orient. And, seeing the caliph in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, St. Sophronius is reported to have said: "Lo, the Abomination of Desolation, spoken of by Daniel, who stands in the Holy Place." Shortly after Omar’s visit, St. Sophronius died in 638.

St. Sophronius was not a theologian by vocation. He spoke out on dogmatic themes like a pastor. Most important is his famous Synodical Epistle which was published upon his ascent to the throne of Jerusalem. Here St. Sophronius offers a detailed profession of faith in light of the Monothelite temptation which was then manifesting itself. His Synodical Epistle was subsequently accepted at the Sixth Ecumenical Council (680-681) as a precise exposition of faith: "We have also examined the Synodical Epistle of Sophronius of holy memory, former Patriarch of Holy City of Christ our God, Jerusalem, and have found it in accordance with the true faith and with the Apostolic teachings, and with those of the holy approved Fathers. Therefore we have received it as orthodox and as salutary to the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, and have decreed that it is right that his name be inserted in the diptychs of the Holy Churches."

St. Sophronius’ Synodical Epistle is very mild. It insists only on the essentials. First, he speaks of the Trinitarian mystery, then he moves on to Christology. He speaks in the customary manner of antitheses, which recalls Pope Leo’s Tome. The Incorporeal is made flesh, and the Eternal accepts birth in time — the true God becomes a true man. In the Incarnation the Logos accepts the "whole human composition... flesh which is consubstantial with us; a rational soul which is similar to our souls; and a mind which is completely identical to our minds." He accepts them in such a way that everything human begins to be when it begins to be the humanity of God the Logos.

Two natures are unified in a single hypostasis, "being patently cognizable as two" — and even in union each preserves the whole totality of the special qualities and attributes characteristic of it. St. Sophronius reaches a conclusion about the distinction between two activities from the invariance of two natures (he does not speak of two wills). The reason for this is that the difference between the natures is revealed precisely in actions or activities. "We profess both natural actions in both natures and essences, from which for our own sake an unmixed union exists in Christ, and this made the single Christ and Son a complete God, whom we must also recognize as a complete man."

Both actions or activities relate to the One Christ through the inseparable unity of his Hypostasis. And God the Logos operates through humanity. However, Christ experiences everything human "naturally" and "in a human way" — φυσικώς και ανθρωπίνως although not by necessity or involuntarily. It is here that St. Sophronius’ emphasis lies: "in a human way," but without that "capacity for suffering" or passiveness which is characteristic of the "simple;" that is, the sinful nature of man.

St. Sophronius enters the history of Christian literature not so much as a theologian but as a hagiographer and psalmist. It is hard to determine the share of his participation in the composition of the work known as The Spiritual Meadow. There is no doubt that the praise and legends about the miracles of Saints Cyrus and John the Healer belong to him. The "service book" doubtlessly does not belong to him. The authenticity of the collection of "anacreontic"poems is almost beyond dispute. These are not liturgical psalms but rather homilies expressed in rhythmical speech.

The explanation of the liturgy which is known under St. Sophronius’ name does not belong to him, although generally he worked on the Church statutes. Simeon of Thessaloniki attributed to Sophronius the introduction to the rule of the cloister of St. Sabas, a rule in general use in Palestine.

St. Anastasius of Sinai.

St. Anastasius of Sinai [Anastasius Sinaita] was the Father Superior of the monastery of St. Catherine on Mount Sinai. From here he travelled more than once around Syria, Arabia, and in Egypt, with polemical and missionary aims. We know very little about his life. He died about twenty years after the Sixth Ecumenical Council; that is, in about 700. He was primarily an erudite person.

All his books were written for disputes. His main work is The Guideοδηγός. It would be better to translate this as "handbook." It was composed from individual chapters and epistles in which St. Anastasius investigates the individual and particular objections of the Monophysites on the basis of the Scriptures and from the testimony of the ancients. The book containing One Hundred and Fifty-Four Questions and Answers is of the same nature, although in its present form it cannot be considered his. This work is more a handbook of eristics (the art of debate) rather than one of "dialectics." True, St. Anastasius unmasks the spirit of petty, abstruse questioning; however, he himself looks into petty difficulties and permits perplexing questions. For the historian there are many important details in this work, especially in the explanation and application of the texts from Scripture. His references to the ancients are also very important. But the spirit of a system vanishes, coherence weakens, and attention becomes lost in a labyrinth of aporias.

We must also consider the possibility that St. Anastasius may indeed be the author of a work entitled The Interpretation of the Six Days. Of the twelve original books, only the last has come down to us in the original. The explanation is given only allegorically ("anagogic contemplations"). St. Anastasius explains the psalms as well. It must be stressed that St. Anastasius always thinks in Aristotelian categories, although he considers "Aristotle’s blather" to be the source of all heresies.

 

Florilegia.

In the Christological disputes the question of theological tradition was forcefully raised. This was connected with the fight of school or trends. The time had come to sum up the historical — and sometimes critical — situation and to fortify one’s profession with the testimony and authority of the ancient fathers.

We find a systematic selection of "patristic opinions" already in St. Cyril’s polemical epistles. The Antiochenes, especially Theodoret in his Eranistes, also were actively engaged in the collection of ancient testimonies. In the West St. John Cassian refutes Nestorius with the aid of the testimony of earlier teachers. Pope Leo the Great refutes Eutyches using the testimony of the fathers. The councils of the fifth to the seventh centuries attentively reread the collections of patristic writings, especially at the Fifth and Sixth Ecumenical Councils and at the Lateran Council of 649. Excerpts from ancient writers are especially abundant in Leontius of Byzantium and Leontius of Jerusalem and in St. Maximus the Confessor.

Thus dogmatic florilegia arc gradually put together. With this a literary form typical of the Hellenistic epoch is revived. For the needs of teaching or for polemics associated with various schools of thought, numerous collections of model excerpts or testimonies of ancient patristic writers — most often those of an edifying nature — were put together at this time. It is sufficient to recall Plutarch’s Apophthegma or Stabeo’s famous collection.

It is virtually impossible to trace the history of Christian florilegia in all their detail. The most significant of them is known under the name The Words of the Holy Fathers or A Selection of Phrases [usually called in Latin the Doctrina patrum de Incarnatione Verbi]. This collection is preserved in several manuscript copies which represent different redactions. The oldest of these manuscripts goes back to the eighth or ninth centuries. We have to date the compilation of the code to the time of the Sixth Ecumenical Council but previous to the outbreak of iconoclasm. There are some grounds for speculating that the compiler is St. Anastasius of Sinai. In any case, the selection of texts in the this collection of patristic writings is very reminiscent of the collection of texts in Anastasius’ Guide.

It is especially necessary to note as well the collection of Sacra Parallela, which is known under the name of St. John of Damascus (c. 675-749). Its literary history has not yet been entirely explained. In the manuscripts we also encounter codes of patristic pronouncements on individual questions — for example, on the dogmatic meaning of certain texts, in particular Matthew 26:39 ff. and Luke 2:52.

These collections were subject to further reworking, and would be augmented with new articles when new issues captured theological attention. In the iconoclastic period there arise special collections containing testimony about the veneration of holy ikons — St. John of Damascus has such a code of texts, and there is one in the Acts of the Seventh Ecumenical Council (787). Various collections of an edifying nature receive a wide circulation. Their origins are primarily connected with liturgical needs, with the custom of the so-called "prescribed readings" which replaced the free sermon (see Trullo, 19). In an earlier time, during the liturgy the acts of martyrs were usually read. Later these started to be replaced by more or less extensive excerpts from patristic works, most often from the writings of John Chrysostom. However, the custom of "prescribed readings" was definitely established comparatively late. For the historian all of these collections present a dual interest. First, they frequently preserve important fragments of lost works. Secondly, these compilations allow us to establish the average level and scope of historical and dogmatic knowledge in a certain epoch. They tell us more about the readers than about the writers.

The exegetical collections are of a different nature. They were compiled in the process of exegetical work on the Holy Scriptures, and were developed from comments or observations on Biblical texts — the so-called scholia. This was a classical custom — compare, for example, the scholia to the different classical authors; scholia on legislative and other juridical documents were different. The explanations of different interpreters are deposited one upon the other. In the process of recopying or revising the so-called "lemmas" — that is, the exact references, are omitted very frequently. Interpretations sometimes are blended into a coherent text. Usually the names of the interpreters are designated with brief signs which are often conventional and sometimes obscure.

The impartiality of the compilers of the Christian exegetical collections or "chains" [catenae] is characteristic; one could say, rather, their peculiar unscrupulousness. The compilers of these collections usually strive for completeness and variety — of course, within the limits of the material known or available to them. Therefore, they have no difficulty in putting authors of opposite tendencies next to one another — Origen next to Diodore, Severus or even Apollinarius next to Theodore of Mopsuestia. After all, even heretics have healthy and valuable ideas. This "impartiality" adds a special importance to the exegetical compilations. They preserve many fragments from books which have been lost or spurned — the exegesis, for example, of Origen, Didymus, and Diodore. This frequently allows us to restore forgotten motifs in the history of exegesis in general and of the interpretation of individual characteristic texts. Sometimes in the catenae we find exegetical fragments by very early authors — St. Hippolytus, for example, and Papias of Hierapolis — and archaic theological motifs come to life before our very eyes. However, it is not easy to use the catenae. Indications of authorship are often vague, unreliable, and sometimes patently incorrect. We even have to rely not on a collection’s compilers but on later copyists — strictly speaking, on the scribe of the manuscript copy known to us. Nevertheless, the material extracted from the catenae is very important. To this day it has yet to be exhausted or thoroughly studied.

The first to work at compiling exegetical collections was Procopius of Gaza (c. 475-538), the head of the school in Gaza for many years. A number of his exegeses have remained — first of all, his extensive exegesis on the Octateuch, which has not been published in its entirety to this day. In his preface Procopius describes the method of his work. First, he collects and copies out the opinions of the exegetes he has selected — the "selections" or "eclogae" Then, since explanations very frequently coincide, he shortens his code, leaving only divergent opinions. His exegesis, too, is such an "abbreviation." For the most part, Procopius used the exegeses of Basil the Great, Gregory of Nazianzus, and Cyril of Alexandria. Procopius explained the book of Isaiah in addition to the Octateuch. His scholia on the books of Kings and the Paralipomenon- — παραλειπομένων — [which is Greek for “of the things left out" and is the name by which the two books of Chronicles are known traditionally in Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox reference], which are mostly based on Theodoret have also been preserved. Procopius1 authorship of the commentaries on Proverbs and the Song of Songs, known under his name, is not indisputable.

The exegeses of Olympiodorus, an Alexandrian deacon who lived in the first half of the sixth century, on The Teachers’ Books of the Old Testament; on Jeremiah; on Baruch; on Lamentations; and on the Gospel of Luke are of the same nature.

Later interpreters are more independent. For example, Gregory of Agrigentum (Grigenti) in Sicily, who lived in the late sixth century. Born near Agrigentum, he made a pilgrimage to Palestine where he was ordained deacon by the patriarch of Jerusalem. In Rome he was consecrated bishop of Agrigentum. Apparently he was a victim of character assassination. It is known that Gregory the Great addressed several letters to him. He had either died or been deposed by about 594 and there exists a long life on him in Greek ascribed to Leontius of Byzantium but, in any case, apparently revised by Simeon Metaphrastes. An exegesis on Ecclesiastes was long attributed to him. However, some recent scholars maintain that this exegesis on Ecclesiastes was the work of a ninth century bishop, Gregory of Agrigentum, who is venerated in the Eastern Church on his Feast Day of November 23. Others also reveal an independence — Icumenus in his exegesis of Revelation (c. 600) and Anastasius of Nicaea in his exegesis of the Psalms (late seventh century). It is especially necessary to note the famous exegesis attributed to Andrew of Caesarea on Revelation (not later than 637) — it was subsequently revised by Arethas of Caesarea, a contemporary of St. Photius. The modern world is deeply indebted to Arethas, a celebrated scholar and patron of classical letters, despite his rather deplorable character. Andrew’s work, subsequently revised by Arethas, is full of references to the ancients. He often even cites the opinions of the pre-Nicene fathers. He understands Revelation allegorically. In other copies his book is even inscribed directly with Origen’s name.

 

Chapter Two.
The Spirit of Monophysitism.

The Chalcedonian Oros and the Tragic Schism in the Church.

The Chalcedonian oros or definition of faith became the cause of a tragic schism in the Church. Historical Monophysitism is precisely the non-acceptance and rejection of the Chalcedonian Council, a schism and break with the fathers of the council. The Monophysite movement can in general be compared with the anti-Nicene movement, and the makeup of the Monophysite schism was just as motley and heterogeneous as that of the "anti-Nicene coalition" in the middle of die fourth century. From the very beginning there were always few real "Eutychians" and Apollinarians among the Monophysites. Eutyches was just as much a heretic for the majority of Monophysites as he was for the orthodox. Dioscorus rehabilitated him and granted him communion more out of indirect motives than because he agreed with him and his beliefs, and mainly in defiance of Flavian. In any case, at Chalcedon Dioscorus openly rejected any "mixing," "transformation" or "cleavage." Anatolius of Constantinople, during the discussion of the oros at the council, reminded everyone that "Dioscorus was not deposed for faith." It is still impossible to prove through these words that Dioscorus was not in actuality mistaken. However, it is very characteristic that they judged and condemned Dioscorus at the council not for heresy but for the brigandage at Ephesus and for “human murder.” Neither Dioscorus nor Timothy the “Cat” — more accurately, the “Weasel,” for he was known as “Timothy Aelurus (d. 477) from the Greek αίλουρος [literally "weasel"] — denied the "double consubstantiality" of the God-Man — consubstantial with the Father in his Divinity and consubstantial with the human race in his humanity.

 

The Language of St. Cyril and Monophysitism.

The same thing has to be said about most Monophysites. They claimed to be the only faithful keepers of the faith of St. Cyril. In any event they spoke Cyril’s language and his words. The Chalcedonian oros seemed to them to be cloaked in Nestorianism. The theology of most of these Monophysites was primarily a systemization of St. Cyril’s doctrine. In this regard the theological views of Philoxenus (Xenaias) of Hierapolis (c. 440-523) and Severus of Antioch (c. 465-538), the two most prominent leaders of Syrian Monophysitism in the late fifth and early sixth centuries, were especially characteristic. It was Severus1 system which became the official dogmatic doctrine of the Monophysite church when it finally withdrew into itself. Severus’ theological system also became the official doctrine of the Syrian Jacobites, of the Coptic Christians in Egypt and of the Armenian Church. This was, first of all, formal and literary Monophysitism.

These Monophysites spoke of the unity of the God-Man as a "unity of nature" but μια φυσις meant to them little more than the μία υποστασις of the Chalcedonian oros. By "nature" they meant "hypostasis." Severus makes this observation directly. In this regard they were rather strict Aristotelians and recognized only "individuals" or "hypostases" as real or existing. In any case, in the "unity of nature" the duality of "natural qualities" — St. Cyril’s term — did not disappear or fall away for them. Therefore, Philoxenus called the “single nature” complex. This concept of a “complex nature” is fundamental in Severus’ system — μία φύσίς σύνθετος. Severus defines the God-Man unity as a "synthesis," a "co-composition" — συνθεσις — and in doing so distinguishes "co-composition" from any fusion or mixing. In this "co-composition" there is no change or transformation of the "components" — they are only "combined" indissolubly and do not exist "apart." Therefore, for Severus the "dual consubstantiality" of the Logos Incarnate is an indisputable and immutable tenet and a criterion of true faith. Severus could sooner be called a "diplophysite" rather than a Monophysite in the true sense of the word. He even agreed to "distinguish" "two natures" — or better, "two essences" — in Christ not only "before the union" but also in the union itself — "after union" — of course with the proviso that it can only be a question of a mental or analytical distinguishing, a distinguishing "in contemplation" — εν θεωρία, or “through imagination” — κατ’ έπίνοίαν. And once again this almost repeats St. Cyril’s words.

For Severus and his followers "unity of nature" meant a unity of subject, a unity of person, a unity of life. They were much closer to St. Cyril than it usually seemed to the ancient polemicists. Fairly recently the works of the Monophysite theologians again have become available to us in ancient Syrian translations and it has become possible to form an opinion about their thought without having to go through biased witnesses.

Now we must not speak of Monophysitism as a revived Apollinarianism, and we have to strictly differentiate the "Eutychians" and the "Monophysites" in the broad sense of the terms. It is very characteristic that this boundary was drawn with total firmness already by St. John of Damascus. In his short work, Briefly On Heresies, which is part two of his principal dogmatic work entitled Πηγή γνώσεως [Fount of Knowledge], St. John of Damascus refers to "Monophysites" directly as schismatics and dissenters but not as heretics — "these Egyptians are schismatics and Monophysites. On the pretext of the Chalcedonian definition they separated themselves from the Orthodox Church. They are called Egyptians because the Egyptians were the first to begin this kind of division during the reigns of emperors Marcian and Valentinian. In everything else they are orthodox" (Heresy 83). However, this is what makes the schism enigmatic and incomprehensible.

 

The National and Regional Element
in the Rise of Monophysitism.

Of course, divisions in the Church are entirely possible even without dogmatic disagreements. Political enthusiasm and darker passions can also disrupt and shatter Church unity. From the very beginning in the Monophysite movement national and regional motives latched on to religious ones. To the "Egyptians" the Council of Chalcedon was unacceptable and despicable not only because in its definition of faith it spoke of "two natures" but also because in the famous Twenty-Eighth Canon it extolled Constantinople over Alexandria. Orthodox Alexandrians had a hard time reconciling themselves to this fact. It is no accident that "Monophysitism" very quickly becomes a non-Greek faith, a faith of Syrians, Copts, Ethiopians, and Armenians. National separatism constantly makes itself very sharply felt in the history of the Monophysite disputes. The dogmatic nature of Monophysitism is very much connected to Greek tradition — it is comprehensible only through Greek terminology, the Greek way of thinking and the categories of Greek metaphysics. It was Greek theologians who worked out the dogma of the Monophysite church. However, a keen hatred of Hellenism is very characteristic of Monophysitism as a whole. They use the word "Greek" as a synonym for "pagan" — "Greek books and pagan sciences."

Greek Monophysitism was comparatively short-lived. In Syria there soon began a direct eradication of everything Greek. In this regard the fate of Jacob of Edessa (c.640-708), one of the most remarkable Monophysite theologians of the seventh century and especially renowned for his Biblical works — he is called the Syrian Jerome — is quite typical. He was compelled to leave his monastery, where for eleven years he tried to revive Greek scholarship. He was forced to leave "persecuted by the brotherhood which hated Greeks." All of these extraneous motives muddled and stirred up the theological dispute. However, one should not exaggerate its significance. Religious differences were still decisive — differences of feeling, not differences of opinion. This explains the Monophysites’ stubborn attachment to St. Cyril’s theological language and their insurmountable suspicion of the Chalcedonian oros, which to them invariably smelled of "Nestorianism." This is impossible to explain as a mere difference of intellectual cast or mental skills. Neither is it explained as admiration for the imaginary antiquity of the Monophysite formula — "a forgery of the Apollinarians." One can hardly think that Severus in particular could not understand the Chalcedonian terminology, that he would not have grasped that the fathers of the council were using words differently than he but not deviating very far from him in content of faith. But the point is that Monophysitism was not theological heresy, was not a "heresy" of theologians — its soul, its secret is not revealed in theological constructs or formulas. It is true that Severus’ system could be reset almost in Chalcedonian terminology. But only "almost."

 

The Lack of a Feeling for Human Freedom in Monophysite Theology.

There is always something remaining. More than anything else, the spirit of the system distinguishes the Monophysites from St. Cyril. It was not at all easy to reshape Cyril’s inspired doctrine into a logical system, and the terminology made this problem more difficult. Hardest of all was intelligibly defining the form and character of the human "traits" in the God-Man synthesis. The followers of Severus could not speak of Christ’s humanity as a "nature." It broke down into a system of traits, for the doctrine of the Logos "taking" humanity was still not developed fully by Monophysitism into the idea of "inter-hypostasisness." The Monophysites usually spoke of the Logos’ humanity as οικονομία. It is not without foundation that the fathers of the Council of Chalcedon detected here a subtle taste of original Docetism. Certainly this is not the Docetism of the ancient Gnostics at all, nor is it Apollinarianism. However, to the followers of Severus the "human" in Christ was not entirely human, for it was not active, was not "self-motivated." In the contemplation of the Monophysites the human in Christ was like a passive object of Divine influence. Divinization or theosis seems mbe a unilateral act of Divinity without sufficiently taking into count the synergism of human freedom, the assumption of which in no way supposes a "second subject." In their religious experiment the element of freedom in general was not sufficiently pronounced and this could be called anthropological minimalism.

 

The Similarity Between Monophysitism and Augustinianism.

To a certain extent, there is a similarity between Monophysitism and Augustinianism — the human is pushed into the background and, as it were, suppressed by the Divine. What St. Augustine said about the boundless activity of grace refers in Monophysite doctrine to the God-Man "synthesis." In this regard one could speak of the "potential assimilation" of humanity by the Divinity of the Logos even in Severus’ system. In Severus’ thought this is proclaimed in his muddled and forced doctrine of "unified God-Man activity" — this expression is taken from Dionysius the Areopagite. The actor is always unified — the Logos. Therefore, the activity — "energy" — is unified too. But together with this, it is complex as well, complex in its manifestations — τα αποτελέσματα, in conformity with the complexity of the acting nature or subject. A single action is manifested dually and the same is true for will or volition. In other words, Divine activity is refracted and, as it were, takes refuge in the "natural qualities" of the humanity received by the Logos. We must remember that Severus here touched upon a difficulty which was not resolved in the Orthodox theology of his time. Even with Orthodox theologians the concept of divinization or theosis sometimes suggested the boundless influence of Divinity. However, for Severus the difficulty proved insurmountable, especially because of the clumsiness and inflexibility of the "Monophysite" language and also because in his reflections he always started from the Divinity of the Logos and not from the Person of the God-Man. Formally speaking, this was the path trod by St. Cyril but in essence this led to the idea of human passivity — one could even say the non-freedom of the God-Man. These biases of thought proclaim the indistinctness of Christological vision. To these conservative Monophysites the human in Christ seemed still too transfigured — not qualitatively, of course, not physically, but potentially or virtually. In any event, it did not seem to be acting freely and the Divine does not manifest itself in the freedom of the numan. What is taking place here is partly simple unspokenness, and in Severus’ time Orthodox theologians had also not yet revealed the doctrine of Christ’s human freedom — more accurately, the freedom of the "human" in Christ — with sufficient clarity and fullness. However, Severus simply did not pose the question of freedom and this, of course, was no accident. Given his premises, the very question had to have seemed "Nestorian" — concealed by the assumption of the "second subject."

The orthodox answer, as given by St. Maximus the Confessor (c. 580-662), presupposes distinguishing between "nature" and "hypostasis" — not only is "man" ("hypostasis") free but also the "human" as such — the very "nature" — in all its "natural qualities," in all and in each. An acknowledgement of this sort can in no way be fit into the framework of the Monophysite — much less the "diplophysite" — doctrine. Severus’ system was the theology of the "Monophysite" majority. It could be called conservative Monophysitism. But the history of Monophysitism is a history of constant dissension and division. It is not so important that from time to time we meet under the title "Monophysite" individual groups comprised of people who were not quite followers of Eutyches, not quite new Docetists who spoke of the "transformation" or the "fusion of natures," who denied the consubstantiality of humanity in Christ, or who talked about the "heavenly" origin and nature of Christ’s body. These individual heretical outbursts are evidence only of the general intellectual ferment and agitation. Much more important are those divisions and disputes which arise in the basic course of the Monophysite movement. These reveal its internal logic, its driving motives, especially Severus’ dispute with Julian of Halicarnassus.

 

Julian of Halicarnassus.

Julian also seemed to be a Docetist to Severus. It is true that in his polemic with Julian Severus was not unbiased. Later orthodox polemicists argued not so much with Julian as with his carried-away followers. In any case, Julian’s original compositions do not contain that coarse Docetism which his opponents talked so much about when they charged that his doctrine of the innate “imperishability” — αφθαρσία — of the Savior’s body turned the mystery of Redemption into some "fantasy and dream" (hence the name "fantasiasts"). Julian’s system of the "imperishability" of Christ’s body is connected not with his understanding of the unity of the God-Man but with his understanding of original sin, with its general anthropological premises. Here Julian is very close to St. Augustine — this is, of course, a similarity and not a dependence Ausustine. Of the Monophysite theologians Julian is closest to Philoxenus Julian considers man’s primordial nature to be "imDerishable," "non-suffering," "non-mortal" and free also from the so-called "irreproachable passions;” that is, weakness or the states of “suffering” in general — πάθη αδιάβλητα. The Fall substantially and hereditarily damages human nature — human nature became weak, mortal and perishable. In the Incarnation God the Logos assumes the nature of the primordial Adam, a nature which is "impassive" and "imperishable." He thus becomes the New Adam. Therefore Christ suffered and died not "because of the necessity of nature” — not εξ ανάγκης φυσικής, but through his will, "for the sake of oikonomia — λόγω οικονομίας “through the will of Divinity,” “by way of a miracle.” However, Christ’s suffering and death were real and authentic, not an “opinion” or “apparition.” But they were entirely free, since this was not the death of a "perishable" and an "impassioned" ("suffering") man, and since they did not contain the fatal doom of the Fall. There is still no heresy in this doctrine. But it comes close to another. Julian’s conception of the unity of the God-Man is tighter than Severus.’ He refuses to "enumerate" or distinguish the "natural qualities" in the God-Man synthesis. He even refuses to distinguish "in addition" "two essences" after union. For him, the concept of "essence" had the same concrete ("individual") sense as the concept of "nature" or "hypostasis." In the Logos’ Incarnation the "imperishability" of the accepted body is so secured by its tight unity with Divinity that in suffering and death it is removed by a certain oikonomic tolerance on the part of God. As Julian understood it, this did not violate the Savior’s human "con-substantiality." In any case, however, this clearly exaggerated the "potential assimilability" of the human by the Divine by virture of the Incarnation itself. Again, this is connected with a lack of feeling for freedom and with a passive understanding of "theosis" or "divinization." Julian understood "imperishability" of primordial human nature as its objective condition rather than as a free possibility, and he understood "impassiveness" and "imperishability" in Christ too passively. It is this quietism which violates the equilibrium of Julian’s system. He did not proceed from an analysis of metaphysical concepts. In his system one clearly senses the deciding significance of the soteriological ideal. M Julian’s followers went even further. They were called "apntartodocetists" ("imperishable valetudinarians") and "fantaslasts. These names set off well that quietism — rather than "Docetism" — which is so striking in their way of thinking. The numan is passively transformed. Others of Julian’s followers felt that it was impossible to call this transformation and impossible to call the divinized humanity in the unity of the God-Man "creatural." Thus there arose the sect of Actistites ("non-creaturalists"). Some of Severus’ adherents, in their disputes about Christ’s human conduct, came to such a conclusion as well. In the union of God and Man, the limitedness of human knowledge must be removed immediately and passively. Otherwise, a bifurcation of human "ignorance" and Divine omniscience arises, and the "unity of nature" is violated. That is how the adherents of a certain Stephen in Alexandria reasoned. This reasoning reminds us partly of the arguments — not the conclusion — of Apollinarius regarding the impossibility of a union of "two perfect things" precisely because of the limitedness and extreme inconstancy of the human mind. The followers of Stephen found another way out of this difficulty, however — they denied any difference in Christ after the union, in which even the human mind was immediately elevated to Divine Omniscience. Here yet again is proclaimed a quietistic understanding of human thought. On this question the majority of the followers of Severus were "cryptics" — Christ’s omniscience was just not manifested in humanity. It seemed impious to assume that Christ’s human "ignorance" — particularly of the Judgment Day — could have been real and not just intentional silence.

 

The Inner Duality in the Monophysite Movement.

It is necessary to mention again that for orthodox theology also this was an unanswered question. For the Monophysites, however, it was also unanswerable. In other words, within the limits of Monophysite premises it was answerable only by admitting the passive assimilation of the human by the Divine. All these disputes reveal the indistinctness and vagueness of a religious vision damaged by anthropological quietism. There is an inner duality in the Monophysite movement, a bifurcation of emotion and thought. One could say that Monophysite theology was more orthodox than their ideals or, to put it differently, that the theologians in Monophysitism were more orthodox than most of the believers but that the theologians were prevented from attaining final clarity by the unfortunate "Monophysite" language. Therefore, Monophysitism becomes "more orthodox" in a strange and unexpected way precisely when the religious wave has receded and theology is cooling down to scholasticism. It is at this time that Monophysite closeness to St. Cyril seems so obvious, for this is closeness in word, not in spirit. The source of Monophysitism is not to be found in dogmatic formulas but in religious passion. All the pathos of Monophysitism lies in the self-basement of man, in an acute need to overcome the human as ch and hence the instinctive striving to distinguish the God-Man from man more sharply even in his humanity. This striving can be claimed in various forms and with varying force, depending on how lucid and how restrained is this burning thirst for human self-basement which erupts from the dark depths of the subconscious. It is not accidental that Monophysitism was so closely connected with ascetic fanaticism, with ascetic self-torture and emotional violence. Nor is it an accident that Origenistic motifs of a universal apokatastasis were once again revived in Monophysite circles. In this regard the lone image of the Syrian mystic Stephen Bar-Sudhaile and his doctrine about universal restoration and a final "consubstantiality" of all creatures with God is particularly significant. Neoplatonic mysticism is paradoxically crossed with eastern fatalism. An apotheosis of self-abasement — such is the paradox of Monophysitism, and only through these psychological predispositions can one understand the tragic history of Monophysitism. The belated epilogue to the Monophysite movement will be the tragic Monothelite controversy.

 

The Theological Controversy and the Emphasis on the Appeal to Tradition.

In the dogmatic disputes of the fifth and sixth centuries the question of the significance of theological traditions was put very harshly. The Church doctrine was immutable. Therefore an argument based on antiquity, a reference to the past, has a particular demonstrative force. In theological disputes at this time evidence from the fathers is cited and considered with particular attention. Indeed, it is now that codes and collections of the texts of the fathers are put together. However, at the same time the need to regard the past critically is discovered. Not all historical traditions can be acceptable. This question first arose as early as the fourth century in connection with Origen’s teachings. But Origenism in Trinitarian theology was overcome almost silently and Origen’s name was mentioned very rarely. Otherwise it was a question of the Antiochene tradition. In the Nestorian disputes suspicion fell on the whole theological past of the East. And in reply the opposite question was raised — about the Alexandrian tradition. With the passage of time the need for a critical synthesis ana a revision of traditions became more and more obvious, and aunng Justinian’s time came the first attempt at an historical summing up. This is the meaning of the Fifth Ecumenical Council in 553. It was convened to judge The Three Chapters — that is, in essence to judge Antiochene theology. It is no accident, however, that at this council a more general question was posed as well — the question of the “select fathers” — έγκριτοι πατέρες. A list of fathers was suggested by the emperor in a letter of his read at the opening of the Fifth Ecumenical Council and it was repeated at its third meeting. This list sheds light on the general and indefinite reference: “according to the teachings of the fathers," "following the teachings of the Holy Fathers." The following names were given: Athanasius, Hilary, Basil, Gregory of Nazianzus, Gregory of Nyssa, Ambrose, Augustine, John Chrysostom, Theophilus, Cyril, Proclus, and Leo. One senses a definite scheme in the choice of names. Of course, the Westerners were named precisely for the sake of the West — they never had any perceptible influence in the East and they were but little known in the East. But is is characteristic that of the "Easterners" only John Chrysostom was named — paradoxically right next to Theophilus! This is what judgment over the "East" meant. The names of the great fathers of the fourth century require no explanation but there was new poignancy in the enumeration of the Alexandrians: Theophilus and Cyril; and Proclus’ name joins them — they have in mind, of course, his Tome to the Armenians.

 

Justinian and the Mood of the Time.

This list does more than just reveal Justinian’s personal tastes or sympathies. It is typical of the whole epoch and Justinian was just expressing the predominant mood. He was no innovator. He was summing up. He was striving to finish building an integral system for Christian culture and life. This scheme has its own grandeur and contains its own great untruth. In any case, Justinian always thought more about the Christian empire than about the Church. His obsession was that the whole world should become Christian — the whole "settled earth," γη οικουμένη. In this he saw his calling — the holy theocratic calling of a universal Christian emperor. In his eyes this calling was a special gift of God, a second gift, independent of the priesthood. It is precisely the emperor who is called on to realize the system of Christian culture. In many ways Justinian forcibly anticipated events. He hastened to complete construction. This explains his policy of union and his striving to restore the universal unity of faith broken after the Council of Chalcedon. This is also connected with his interference in theological disputes in general. Justinian suffered no disagreements, and in disputes for the sake of unity he more than rhansed from "a most Christian sovereign" into a Diocletian Olpooe Aeatho’s comparison in 536. Too frequently the synthesis would degenerate into a violent and fruitless compromise. There are many tragic pangs in the history of the Fifth Ecumenical rouncil especially in its pre-history. It is partly true that the estion of the Three Chapters arose almost accidentally and that the debate over Antiochene traditions was aroused or renewed artificially. Justinian had his tactical motives for publishing the famous Edict of 544. Contemporaries asserted that this edict was prompted and even composed by Palestinian Origenists — Theodore Askidas — who counted on deflecting attention away from themselves. This explanation is too simplistic. There were Three Chapters in the Edict: one on Theodore of Mopsuestia and his books; one on Theodoret’s objections to St. Cyril; and one on the "impious" letter of Ibas of Edessa to Maris the Persian. The emperor suggested they be anathematized. The Edict provoked great excitement everywhere. It seemed that it was published to benefit the Monophysites. In it was seen a hidden or concealed condemnation of the Council of Chalcedon, although the emperor directly anathematized those who would interpret his Chapters in this light.

Indignation was especially violent in Africa and in the West in general. Opponents of the Edict did not so much defend the Antiochians as consider the Edict itself inopportune and dangerous in the practical sense. Is it proper to reconsider and adjust the decisions of earlier councils? In addition, a general question arose: in general is it possible to posthumously condemn deceased brothers who are at peace? Having appeared before God’s court, are they not removed from any human court? Supporters of the Edict seemed to be "persecutors of the dead." They fought over this point more than any other issue. It was the Westerners who were unyielding. Pope Vigilius confusedly wavered between the will of the emperor and the opinion of his own Church.

The dispute lasted for many years. The emperor insisted on having things his own way and at times really did almost become a Diocletian. Finally, an Ecumenical Council was convened in 553. It was not easy inducing the Western bishops, who had already met in Constantinople, to appear at the Ecumenical Council, and tne Council’s resolutions were accepted in the West only after a long and stubborn struggle. The Council recognized as possible posthumous condemnation, agreed with the emperor’s arguments, and published fourteen anathemas which reiterated most of the anathemas of 551. The decree was preceded by a detailed analysis theological documents which were under suspicion and a collation of them with the incontrovertible models of the orthodox faith. The dangerous imprecision of the Antiochene books was revealed for all to see. To a certain extant this was a review of the question of the Council of Ephesus, not the one of the Council of Chalcedon. One could dispute the timeliness of such a review. Many felt there was no need for this, that psychologically this could be advantageous only to the Monophysites. It seemed that there was no sense in fighting the Nestorian danger when there was danger threatening from the opposite side. All these arguments were of a practical nature and those who objected went no further than formal challenges. But whatever motives inclined Justinian to pose the question of the Three Chapters, he was essentially correct. That is why the Council accepted his anathemas. They refute and condemn Nestorianism in great detail, as well as the false doctrines of Apollinarius and Eutyches. This was a solemn confirmation of the Council of Ephesus and a new judgment on the "Easterners." It is very characteristic that Origenism was also condemned at the Council. Once again the initiative for condemnation belonged to the emperor. As early as 543 the emperor had published ten anathemas against Origen and all who defended his impure opinions. This Edict was accepted in Constantinople, in Palestine, and in Rome. Before the Council Justinian addressed a new epistle about Origen to the bishops. Apparently, Origen’s condemnation was proclaimed by the fathers who had convened earlier than the official opening of the Council. That is why nothing is said about it in the Council "acts." However, it is included in the Council’s anathemas (Anathema 11), and Theodore Askidas mentions it during the Council itself. Shortly after the Council Cyril of Scythopolis tells of the condemnation of Origen and the Origenists in his Life of Sabas [Vita Sabae] and directly inculcates it in the Ecumenical Council. Didymus and Evagrius were condemned along with Origen. Also condemned were certain "impious opinions" expressed by Origen himself and his followers. The condemnation primarily referred to the Palestinian Origenists who had shattered tranquillity in the local monasteries. They had already been censured as early as 542 by patriarch Ephraem at a local synod in Antioch. Even earlier Antipater, the bishop of Bostra in Arabia, wrote against Origenism. Palestinian Origenism was connected with the Syrian Stephen Bar-Sudhaile. In his Edicts Justinian was only repeating accusations which had been made in the provinces. Not long before the Council a special group arrived in Constantinople from the monastery of the venerable Sabas headed by the Father Superior Conon. The monks presented the emperor with a special which contained an exposition of "all impiety." It is difficult how accurately Origen was quoted by his accusers. In any

e the opinions which were condemned do actually flow from h premises. The Edict of 543 condemned the doctrine of the preexistence and transmigration of souls; the doctrine of Christ’s eternal soul united with the Divine Logos before the Incarnation; the doctrine that he was not only a man for the sake of men but also a Seraphim for Seraphims, and that he would be crucified for demons; and the doctrine of the apokatastasis. They go into more detail in the epistle of 552. Here a sketch of the entire system is given. Its basic idea is that everything was created from eternity in perfect spirituality and that today’s heterogeneous and corporeal world arose through the Fall. The worldly process will end with a universal restoration and disincarnation of everything that exists. This is the scheme of Origen himself. We can say precisely what in this system attracted the Origenists of the sixth century. Cyril of Scythopolis tells of the division of the Palestinian Origenists into isochrists and protoktists. The names are quite transparent. The isochrists asserted that in the universal restoration everyone will become "equal to Christ” — ίσοι τω Χριστώ. This conclusion actually does not follow directly from Origen’s anthropological and Christological premises. The protoktists apparently talked not so much about apokatastasis as about pre-existence, especially the pre-existence of Jesus’ soul as the “first creation” — πρώτον κτίσμα. It is not difficult to understand why these ideas could spread precisely among monks — they naturally give rise to conclusions of a practical nature about the paths of the ascetic achievement.

 

The Condemnation of Origenism as the Condemnation of the

Inner Temptations of Alexandrian Theology.

Again, one could dispute the need to stir up the question of Origen at an Ecumenical Council. But Origen’s fallaciousness did not raise any doubts. Condemnation of Origenism at the Fifth Ecumenical Council was a condemnation of the inner temptations or the old Alexandrian theology which had not yet lost its influence m famous and rather wide circles. The prohibitions of the Fifth Ecumenical Council signified a judgment over the mistakes of the past. They are evidence of a "crisis" in theological consciousness, ine Antiochene and Alexandrian traditions are broken. The epoch has begun.

 

 

Chapter Three.
Sketches in the History of Monophysitism.

The Mood at Chalcedon.

The Council of Chalcedon appeared momentarily to have ended in apparent victory, in apparent harmony. Emperor Marcian congratulated the Council because "they had put an end to discord and had restored unity." Such was not the case prior to or for the sixty-eight years after the Council of Chalcedon. Harnack’s description of the Council of Chalcedon as a council as violent as that of the Robber Council by Dioscorus is exaggerated. But the council was turbulent, vehement, and prone to violent outbursts. There was theological fanaticism on both sides. The tumultuous outcries — έκβοήσεις δημοηκαί — by the clergy were checked only by the imperial commissioners and the senators present who reminded the bishops that such conduct did not do honor to their ecclesiastical positions. When Theodoret of Cyrus entered, he was greeted enthusiastically by the Easterners, but the Egyptians are recorded as shouting: "Cast out the Jew, the enemy of God, the blasphemer of Christ!" The supporters of Theodoret responded with: "Cast out the murderer Dioscorus! Who does not know of his crimes?" Harnack’s comments, partially true but overly exaggerated, reveal his own attitude clearly: "the Council of Chalcedon, which to distinguish it from the Robber Council, we might call the Robber and Traitor Council… If it be asked, what is the saddest and most momentous event in the history of dogma since the condemnation of Paul of Samosata, we must point to the union of the year 433. The shadow of this occurrence rests on the whole subsequent history of dogma." The immediate conclusions that Harnack draws directly after this statement are erroneous.

 

The Tome of Pope Leo.

The Literary Style of the Tome.

Pope Leo I (d. 461) sent his famous epistle — the Tome of 449 — to the council of 449, addressed to Flavian (d. 449), the patriarch of Constantinople. It was suppressed at the Robber Council. At the Council of Chalcedon in 451 it was accepted with consolation and ecstasy, and as a confession of Cyril’s faith — Λεων ειπε τα Κυρίλλου. This was not a dogmatic definition — it was a solemn confession of faith. Here lies its force and here lies its narrowness. Pope Leo spoke a liturgical, not a theological, language. Hence the artistic plasticity of his exposition. He always spoke and wrote in an original rhythmical style. He draws a vivid image of the God-Man. In addition, he almost hushes up the disputed issue: not only does he not define his theological terms; he simply avoids them and does not use them. He did not like to "philosophize" about faith and was not a theologian at all.

The Weakness of the Tome: The Latin Theological Tradition
and Greek Theological Categories of Thought.

Pope Leo wrote in the language of the Western theological tradition and did not even pose the question about how one should translate his confession into Greek and how one should express orthodox truth in the categories of the Greek tradition. This weakness of the papal Tome was immediately observed. Nestorius saw in it a confession of his own faith. The Chalcedonian fathers saw in it the "faith of Cyril." However, others of them — and, curiously, the Illyrian bishops — vacillated over accepting the Tome until they were assuaged by direct references to St. Cyril. All depended on how the Roman epistle was to be read, how it was to be "translated" and which theological categories were to be used.

Pope Leo proceeds from soteriological motives. Only the acceptance and assimilation of our own nature by him, whom neither sin could ensnare nor death could imprison, could open up the possibility of victory over sin and death — nisi naturam nostram Ille susciperet et suam faceret "And it is equally dangerous to confess the Lord Jesus Christ only as God without humanity and only as man without Divinity" — et aequalis erat periculi, Dominum Jesum Christum aut Deum tantummodo sine homine, aut sine Deo solum hominem credidisse. The denial of human consubstantiality between us and Christ overturns the whole "sacrament of faith." A genuine connection with Christ does not appear, is not established "unless we recognize in him the flesh of our race." If he has only the "form of a man" — formam hominis — but does not take from his Mother the "truth of the body" — et non materni corporis veritatem, then redemption is vain. The miracle of the Virgin Birth does not violate the consubstantiality of Mother and Son — the Holy Spirit provided the power of the birth but the "reality of the body is from the body" — veritas corporis sumpta de corpore est. Through this new — because it is pure — birth, the Son of God enters this earthly world. But this birth in time does not weaken his eternal birth from the Father. The Only-Begotten Son of the Eternal Father is born of the Holy Spirit through the Virgin Mary. In his Incarnation he is truly united and "there is no deception in this unity." He who is true God is also true man — qui enim verus est Deus, verus est homo. Two natures are united in a unity of person — in unam coeunte personam — and the "properties" of the natures remain "unchanged" — salva proprietate. Grandeur accepts nothingness, might accepts weakness, eternity unites with mortality, an "inviolable" nature unites with a suffering one. God is born in the perfect nature of a true man, uniting in this the completeness and integrity of both natures — in Integra ergo veri hominis perfectaque natura verus natus est Deus, totus in suis, lotus in nostris. He acquired the human without losing the Divine — humana augens, divina non minuens. And this occurrence of the Invisible was an impulse of goodness, not a belittling of might. The acceptance of human nature by the Logos was to extol human nature; it was not the diminution of Divinity.

The Lack of a Definition of Person.

Pope Leo achieves a greater expressiveness in this game of contrasts and antitheses. He defines the completeness of union as the unity of Person. However, he never defines directly and precisely what he means by "person." This was not an accidental oversight. It would be inappropriate to pass this over in silence in a dogmatic Tome. But Pope Leo did not know how to define "person." In his early sermons Pope Leo spoke of the union of God and man sometimes as a "mixture," sometimes as a "co-dwelling." Once again he could not find the words. He achieves great clarity in his Tome, but in his descriptive synthesis rather than in his individual definitions. An ineffable union has been completed, but in the union each nature — each "forma" — retains its properties — "features" or proprietas. Each form retains the feature of its activity and the duality of activities does not destroy the unity of person. A duality of activities and operations in the completed union of an indivisible person — such is the Gospel image of Christ. One Person. But one side shines with miracles while the other succumbs to suffering. One is a source of weakness common to both while the other is a source of common glory. By virtue of the unity of person in two natures — in duabus naturis, both weakness and glory are reciprocal. Therefore one may say that the Son of Man descended from Heaven, although in actual fact the Son of God received a body from the Virgin. And from the other perspective, one may say that the Son of God was crucified and buried, although the Only-Begotten Son suffered this not in his Divinity which is ever-eternal and consubstantial with the Father, but in the weakness of human nature. In the sequence of events’in the Gospels one feels a certain growth of mysterious manifestations — the human becomes clearer and clearer, and Divinity becomes more and more radiant. A baby’s swaddling clothes and the words of angels, the baptism by John and the Father’s evidence on the Jordan — these are the outward signs. Hungry and thirsty, wandering without shelter, and the great Miracle-Worker. Mourning a dead friend, and then resurrecting him with a single word of command. Something more is revealed here. Tears and the admission "My Father is greater than I" bear witness to the completeness and authenticity of human self-awareness. And the affirmation "the Father and I are one" discloses Divinity. Not two, but One; but not one, but two (natures). After the resurrection the Lord holds discourse with the disciples, eats with them, but passes through closed doors. He lets them feel him, but imparts the Spirit to them through his breath. This is done simultaneously and immediately so that they may recognize in him the indivisible union of two natures and understand that the Logos and the flesh form a single Son without merging the two.

A Lucid Confession of Faith in a Radiant Fog.

In Pope Leo’s portrayal a unified Christ can really be seen. He clearly and confidently reproduces the Gospel image of the God-Man. This was evidence of a strong and lucid faith which was bold and tranquil in its comprehension. Of course, Pope Leo was indeed expounding "Cyril’s faith," although not at all in Cyril’s language. They are united not by formulas but by a community of vision, and the same almost naive method of perceiving or observing the unity of God and Man. However, Pope Leo was even less able than Cyril to suggest or anticipate a monosemantic dogmatic definition. His words are very vivid, but as if shrouded by a radiant fog. It was not an easy or a simple matter to secure his words in the terms of dogmatic theology. It still remained unclear whether Pope Leo’s persona corresponded to Cyril’s υπόστασις or φυσίς or to Nestorius’ πρόσωπον της ένώσεως. Does the Latin word natura correspond to the Hellenic φύσις? How exactly is this unity of person in two natures,” this “meeting” of two natures “in one person” to be understood? Finally, what is most unclear in Pope Leo is this concept of "form," which he took from a distant but still Tertullian tradition. In any case Pope Leo’s Tome was not clear enough to take the place of the disputed "covenant" of 433. A genuine catholic definition was heard not from the West, but from the East, at Chalcedon in 451.

 

The Chalcedonian Oros.

A Stumbling Block and a Temptation for the Egyptians.

The Chalcedonian oros or definition was a revision of the exposition of faith of 433. The fathers of 451 did not immediately consent to the composition of a new definition of faith. It seemed possible to once more make do with a general reference to tradition and with prohibitions against heresy. Others were prepared to be content with Pope Leo’s Tome. Apparently many were stopped here by fear of antagonizing the blind followers of St. Cyril through a premature dogmatic definition. These people were clinging to an inert stubbornness — not so much to his teachings as to his words. This fear was justified — the Chalcedonian oros or definition proved to be a stumbling block and a temptation for the "Egyptians" through its language and terminology alone. However, given the circumstances which had taken shape, to have stayed with the unreliable, ambiguous and debatable formulas would have been no less dangerous. We are unable to follow the history of the compositions of the Chalcedonian definition in all its details. From the council "acts" we can only guess at the disputes which took place. They quarrelled more outside of the general gathering, at private meetings and during the breaks.

The Text of the Chalcedonian Oros.

The text which was accepted reads thus:

"Following the holy fathers, we all agree to teach the confession of the Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, who was perfect both in Divinity and perfect in humanity; who is both truly God and truly man, from the soul of reason and the body, consubstantial with us in his humanity, similar to us in everything except sin, born before the ages of the Father in his Divinity, and in recent days (born) of Mary the Virgin Theotokos in his humanity, for us and for our salvation; at one and the same time Christ, Son, Lord, the Only-Begotten; acknowledged in two natures without confusion, without change, without division, without separation, so that the difference between the natures is in no way violated by the union but rather the distinctive character of each nature is preserved and is united in a single person and a single hypostasis, not divided or separated into two persons but at one and the same time the Only-Begotten Son, God the Logos, Our Lord Jesus Christ; as the prophets of old taught of him and the Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us, and as the symbol of our fathers has come down to us."

The Formula of Reunion of 433 and the Chalcedonian Oros.

The closeness to the Formula of Reunion of 433 is at once evident, but they have made a very characteristic addition to it. First, instead of "for the union of two natures was completed — δύο γαρ φύσεων ενωσις γέγονe — it states acknowledged “in two natures” — εν δύο φύσεσιν. There was a debate at the council over this expression. In the original sentence, which has been lost, it read “of two natures” — εκ δύο φύσεων. And, apparently, the majority liked this. An objection was raised from the "Eastern" side. The formula seemed evasive. This was not a "Nestorian" suspicion. In actual fact, "of two" sounded weaker than simply "two." After all, even Eutyches agreed to speak of "two natures" before union — which is precisely what "of two" corresponds to — but not in the union itself. And Dioscorus declared flatly at the council that he would accept "of two" but not "two." Pope Leo had "in two natures" — in duabus naturis. After the new drafting conference, his formulation "in two" was accepted. This was sharper and more definite than the former "union of two" and more importantly it shifted attention away from the moment of union to the single Person himself.

The Cutting Edge of the Chalcedonian Oros.

One can ponder the Incarnation in one of two ways — either in contemplation of God’s logical oikonomia to arrive at the event of the Incarnation — "and the union was completed" — or to proceed from contemplation of the Person of God and Man, in which the two-ness is identified and which is revealed in this duality. St. Cyril usually thought in the first way. However, all the emotional content of his assertion is connected with the second — one ought not to speak of the Logos Incarnate in the same way as before the incarnation, for the union was completed. And in this regard the Chalcedonian formula is very close to St. Cyril’s spirit. Secondly, in the Chalcedonian definition the expressions "one person" and "one hypostasis — εν πρόσωπον και μία υπόστασις — are concretely and resolutely put on the same basis. The first is strengthened and at the same time intensified through the second. This identification of the one concept with the other is perhaps the very cutting edge of the oros. Some of the words are taken from Leo — in unam coeunte personam becomes in the oros: εις εν πρόσωπον και μίαν ύπόστασιν συντρεχούσης. But added to that is the most significant “and in a single hypostasis.” It is here where the pointed and burning question of Christological terminology comes up.

The descriptive "Person" — not "personality" — is shifted onto the ontological plane — hypostasis. With this, the Chalcedonian oros clearly distinguishes two metaphysical concepts — "nature" and "hypostasis." This is not a simple contrast of the "common" and the "particular" — as was established by St. Basil the Great. In the Chalcedonian definition "nature" is not an abstract and general concept — it is not "the general as distinct from the particular," allowing for the "isolated" traits. Unity of hypostasis signifies unity of subject, while the two-ness of natures signifies the completeness of the concrete definitions (traits, features) through two natures, on two actual planes — "perfection" which is precisely this completeness of traits both "in Divinity" and "in humanity."

The Paradoxical Unspokenness in the Chalcedonian Oros.

There is a paradoxical unspokenness in the Chalcedonian definition. Through the sequence of the discourse it is readily apparent that what is recognized as the hypostatic center of the unity of God and Man is the Divinity of the Logos — "at one and the same time Christ, the Son, the Logos, the Only-Begotten, acknowledged in two natures." Both the Son and the Only-Begotten. This is not said directly, however. The unity of the hypostasis is not defined directly as the hypostasis of the Logos. Hence, the further vagueness about the human "nature." What does it mean to recognize "nature" but not "hypostasis?" Can there really be a "hypostasis-less nature?" Historically speaking, such was the main objection to the Chalcedonian definition. It clearly professes the absence of human hypostasis and to a certain extent precisely the "hypostasis-lessness" of the human nature in Christ. But it does not explain how this is possible. Here lies the intimacy of the definition and St. Cyril’s theology. Admitting human "hypostasis-lessness" is admitting an asymmetry in the unity of the God-Man. In this the definition moves away from the "Eastern" way of thinking. In addition, two parallel ranks of "traits" and definition stretch out — "in two natures," "in Divinity" and "in humanity." This is precisely what is in Leo’s Tome. But they close not only in unity of person but in unity of hypostasis. Un-spokenness harks back to unspeakability. The paradox of the Chalcedonian oros lies in the fact that it immediately professes the "perfection" of Christ’ "in humanity" — "consubstantial with us in his humanity, similar to us in everything except sin, which means that everything that can and should be said about a man as a man, except for sin, can and should be said about Christ. And this denies that Christ was an ordinary man — he is God Incarnate. He did not "receive a man," but "became a man." Everything human can be said about him. He can be taken for a man but he is not a "man" but God. This is the paradox of the Truth about Christ which is expressed in the paradoxical nature of the Chalcedonian definition.

The Fathers of Chalcedon and Their Two-Sided Problem.

The Chalcedonian fathers were faced with a two-sided problem — removing the possibility of "Nestorian" thought on the one hand — that is why identically ("both;" "at one and the same time") is so clearly expressed in the oros, and why the unity of person is defined as the unity of hypostasis. On the other hand is the assertion of perfect "consubstantiality" or "likeness" (that is, the coincidence of all qualitative attributes) of Christ through his humanity with the entire human race whose Savior he was, precisely because he became its Head and was born of the Virgin Mary. This is what is emphasized by the profession of two natures; that is, strictly speaking, by defining the "human" in Christ as a "nature" which is perfect, complete, and consub -stantial. There obtains a sort of formal discrepancy — "completeness of humanity" but not "a man." All the expressiveness of the Chalcedonian oros is in this so-called "discrepancy."

But in it there is also a real unspokenness and a certain incompleteness. The oros makes obligatory its fixed "dyophysite" terminology, thereby prohibiting any other terminology. This ban applies, first of all, to St. Cyril’s terminology, to his "literary" ‘Monophysitism." This was necessary, first of all, because acknowledging a single nature would cover up a real Apollin -arianism or Eutychianism — that is, a denial of Christ’s human consubstantiality." But secondly, this was also necessary for Precision in the concepts. St. Cyril spoke of "a single nature" and spoke only of Divinity in Christ in the strict sense of the term as a "nature" — precisely in order to emphasize the "hypostasis-lessness" of humanity in Christ, in order to express Christ’s non-commensurability with (ordinary) people because of the "form of existence" of humanity in him and certainly not because of the traits or qualities of his human composition. For him, the concept of "nature" signified precisely the concreteness of existence — existence itself, not only the "form" of existence; that is, in the sense of Aristotle’s "first essence." Therefore he inevitably did not have enough words for a more exact definition of both the composition and the form of the existence of the human attributes in Christ.

The Disturbing Vagueness to the Easterners.

Thus arose the vagueness which disturbed the "Easterners." It was necessary to clearly differentiate these two elements: the composition and "form of existence." This was achieved through a kind of subtraction of "hypostasis-ness" from the concept of "nature," but without letting this concept change from the concrete ("particular") to the "general" or "abstract." Strictly speaking, a new concept of "nature" was developed. However, this was neither stipulated nor explained with sufficient clarity, neither in the oros itself nor in the council’s "acts." And the "single hypostasis" was not directly defined as the Hypostasis of the Logos. Therefore, the impression could be created that the "completeness of humanity" in Christ is being asserted too abruptly, while the "form" of its existence remains unclear. This was not a flaw in the definition of faith, but it did demand a theological commentary. The council itself did not provide one.

The Necessity for a Theological Commentary.

This commentary was given much later — almost one hundred years after the Chalcedonian Council during Justinian’s time by Leontius of Byzantium and other "Neo-Chalcedonians." The Chalcedonian oros, as it were, anticipated events — even more than the Nicene Creed had in its time. Perhaps its hidden meaning remained unclear to some at the council until the very end, just as at Nicaea not all understood the whole significance and resolute -ness of professing the Logos as consubstantial with the Father. One should be reminded that in the Nicene Creed, too, there was a certain formal awkwardness and discrepancy — and almost the same one, for it makes no distinction between the concepts of "essence" and "hypostasis" and between "consubstantiality" and "from the essence of the Father." This created the need for farther discussion and debate. The only thing that was immediately clear was the polemical or "agonistical" sense of the new definition -the line of demarcation and circumscription was confidently drawn. A positive confession still has to be revealed in the theological synthesis. A new theme was given for it. It still needs to be mentioned — the "union of natures" (or "the unity of hypostasis") is defined in the Chalcedonian oros as non-continuous, inalterable, indivisible, and inseparable — άσυγχύτως, άτρέπτως, αδιαιρέτως, άχωρίστως. All these are negative attributes. "Inseparability" and "indivisibility" define the unity, the form of the union. "Non-continuous" and "inalterability" refer to the "natures" — their traits ("features") are not removed or changed by the union but remain "immutable." They are even somehow strengthened by the union. The cutting edge of these negations is directed against all kinds of Apollinarianism and against any idea about the union as a transubstantiating synthesis. The oros flatly rules out any thought of "fusion" — συγχυσις — or “mixing” — κράσις: This signified a repudiation of the old language. In the fourth century the unity of the God-Man was usually defined as a “mixing” — κρασίς or μιξις — just to protect against Apollinarius. Now this seemed dangerous. And once again they did not utilize a precise word to express the form of the ineffable union in some simile or analogy.

 

The Reaction to the Council of Chalcedon.

The Reaction in Alexandria.

Emperor Marcian’s congratulations were premature. Unity had not been restored. The result of the Council of Chalcedon was divisive, despite its orthodox definition of faith. What was the reaction of Alexandria to the Council of Chalcedon? First, Alexandria considered the Council of Chalcedon heretical because their expression of "one nature," held by that see since St. Cyril, had been abandoned while simultaneously the Council of Chalcedon invoked the name and writings of St. Cyril with respect and as onhodox. Secondly, Alexandria lost more "territorial" oversight as a result of the Council of Chalcedon — not only did the Twenty-Eighth Canon give Constantinople the rank second only to Old Rome but the Council of Chalcedon’s canons transferred the three civil dioceses of Asiana, Pontica, and Thrace to Constantinople, dioceses formerly under the jurisdiction of Alexandria. Thirdly, the Council of Chalcedon represented a victory of Greeks over Copts and Syrians. Fourthly, the Alexandrians were infuriated with the way Dioscorus was treated. Dioscorus had taken his stand with "Ephesus and Cyril." He had not been condemned on doctrinal grounds but rather for his treatment of Flavian. Dioscorus had protested that he did not accept any mixing of the two natures and, according to the account in Mansi (6, 676), no one could prove that he had mixed the two natures — Διόσκορος ειπεν oυτε συγχύσιν λέγομεν ουτε τομήν ούτε τροπήν. ανάθεμα τω λέγοντι σύγχυσην η άνάκρασιν. He was not refuted when he declared that "Flavian was rightly condemned because he still maintained two natures after the union. I can prove from Athanasius, Gregory, and Cyril that after the union we ought rather to speak only of one incarnate nature of the Logos. I will be rejected together with the Fathers, but I defend the doctrine of the Fathers and I yield on no point." Dioscorus was ready to denounce Eutyches "even to fire, should Eutyches teach incorrectly" (Mansi 6, 633). Dioscorus left the Council of Chalcedon. In the first session of the Council of Chalcedon the Robber Council was annulled and Dioscorus — along with others participating in the Robber Council who did not acknowledge their "error" — was deposed. Juvenal of Jerusalem who supported Dioscorus at the Robber Council did not support him at the Council of Chalcedon — Zacharias writes in his Church History (3, 3) that Juvenal changed sides at the Council of Chalcedon to secure the patriarchate of Jerusalem. Most of the bishops who had taken part in the Robber Council were present at Chalcedon — it appears from Mansi (6, 936) that only twenty-six bishops who attended the Robber Council did not attend the Council of Chalcedon. Dioscorus was cited three times to defend himself against the charges of injustice, avarice, adultery and other vices. He did not appear and was deposed — he was exiled to Gangra. The shouts went up: "The impious must always be overthrown! Christ has deposed Dioscorus, the murderer [of Flavian]. This is a righteous judgment... a righteous council!" At the second session the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, two letters of St. Cyril — but not his Twelve Anathemas — and Pope Leo’s Tome to Flavian were read. The bishops exclaimed: "That is the faith of the fathers! That is the faith of the apostles! So we all believe! So the orthodox believe! Anathema to him who believes otherwise! Through Leo, Peter has spoken. Even so did Cyril teach! That is the true faith!" In the eyes of the Egyptians Dioscorus had been a martyr.

The Opponents to the Council of Chalcedon
as "Dissidents" not "Heretics" and their Political Loyalty.

For more than a century there was to be hostility towards the Council of Chalcedon. It is important to point out that those who rejected the Council of Chalcedon were not labelled "heretics" — even St. John of Damascus considered the Monophysites as "dissidents" and not as "heretic," and this as late as the eighth century. It was in Egypt where the Council of Chalcedon was rejected almost by all. But the rejection of the Council of Chalcedon and separation from communion did not mean at this time a political succession from the empire. The imperial tradition and its symbiosis with the Church since the Council of Nicaea were too strong. The opponents of Chalcedon might call Marcian a "new Assyrian," Pulcheria a "false virgin," and Anastasius a "Manichee" but succession was not an option. Michael the Syrian (1126-1199) relates in his Chronicle (8, 14) — the original Syriac text was discovered in 1888 — that Marcian was to blame precisely for causing a disunity in the empire. The basic frame of mind was to wait for a new emperor, for a new change of events within the empire. The formal break does not occur until the time of Severus of Antioch and it was precisely a result of his attitude towards the reception of the holy sacraments from Chalcedonians, a result of his ακρίβεια. In Egypt where the Coptic identity was so strong it would take another century before the Coptic Monophysites consciously considered themselves to be opposed to the empire, to be anti-imperial in strictest sense of that terminology. Until then, emperors will still be prayed for and armies will still be blessed. "In the fifth and sixth centuries no eastern bishop dared to excommunicate an emperor even in the heat of controversy." The turbulence, the social unrest, the violence are still within a religious world perspective. Political succession from the empire or any kind of "disorder" which seriously threatened imperial rule would be considered anarchy. That, however, does not mean that the very fabric of the future political division was not already there m seed, in seed that much later will sprout forth into regional, national or ethnic splits. It also does not mean that there was no dislike among the Copts and Syrians for the "Greeks" — there was a strong hostility. But the line must be drawn, the integrity of empire was still a reality after Chalcedon.

The Alexandrians and Proterius.

The Council of Chalcedon, upon deposing Dioscorus, appointed Proterius to be bishop of Alexandria. The Egyptians considered Proterius as a renegade, as a traitor, as one who had abandoned principle in order to secure the patriarchate. In fact Proterius had no influence except with the imperial officials — the clergy, the monks, and the laity separated from communion with him.

Proterius encountered personally this violence, this reaction to Chalcedon. The people of Alexandria took to the streets and rioting broke out. The imperial forces were defeated in street fighting — in fact, some soldiers were burned alive by the rioting mob. Reinforcements finally subdued the violence and "order" was restored. The imperial wrath took its revenge — the baths were closed, food distribution was cut off, property was confiscated, and some executions took place. The Alexandrians blamed, of course, the entire outbreak of violence on Proterius. Proterius, as Juvenal of Jerusalem, had to be protected by a bodyguard. The Egyptian Christians still regarded Dioscorus, exiled in Gangra, as their patriarch.

The Reaction in Jerusalem: Juvenal and Theodosius.

Violence awaited Juvenal on his return to Jerusalem from Chalcedon. A certain Theodosius, born in Alexandria and a monk in Palestine, had accompanied Juvenal to Chalcedon. As soon as Juvenal withdrew his support for Dioscorus, Theodosius left the council and returned to Palestine to spread the word of Juvenal’s "apostasy." Furious monks awaited Juvenal and refused to let him enter Jerusalem unless he anathematized the Council of Chalcedon. Juvenal refused, returned to Constantinople, and sought support from the emperor. While Juvenal was back in Constantinople, the Monophysites elected Theodosius patriarch. The sources tell us that Theodosius was reluctant but it was argued that Juvenal’s "apostasy" had made his consecration null and void. Chalcedonian sources claim that Theodosius was a man of vile character, that he persecuted the orthodox, and that he even had one deacon put to death for challenging him and accusing him of atheism. Theodosius made several appointments, consecrated several bishops to sees that were then vacant because of the violent rivalry between the Monophysites and the Chalcedonians. The Council of Chalcedon had added jurisdiction to the see of Jerusalem — it recognized Jerusalem as a patriarchal see at the expense of the metropolitan see of Caesarea and the patriarchal see of Antioch — and Theodosius utilized this when consecrating new bishop.

Juvenal returned to Jerusalem accompanied by imperial forces and a personal bodyguard. The Monophysites resisted his entry into the holy city. Rioting and street fighting erupted. Evagrius Scholasticus (c. 536-600) tells us in his Church History that both sides did what their anger allowed. The Chalcedonians in Nablus took their revenge on the Monophysite monks and a massacre resulted. Theodosius fled to the mountains of Sinai. With the aid of imperial forces Juvenal was able to expel the Monophysites-bishops from their sees and monks from their monasteries. The Monophysite historian, Zacharias, relates an incident that casts a positive aspect on the character of Juvenal (3, 8). A beggar approached Juvenal to ask for his blessing. The beggar was a Monophysite zealot who poured a basket of "filth and ashes" on Juvenal’s head and clothing, shouting that Juvenal was a "liar and persecutor." Just as Juvenal’s bodyguard was about to strike the beggar, Juvenal, "moved to repentance," sent the beggar away with enough money to leave the area.

Theodosius did not remain on Sinai. Rather, he disguised himself as a soldier and went about in the countryside to rally support for his party. He was captured and sent to a monastery until his death. Though Theodosius’ supporters claim that he was confined in a cell in extremely bad condition, Theodosius was able to write books against a certain John, another Monophysite whose views were more extreme. The divisions among the Monophysites had already begun.

The Special Situation of Palestine.

Juvenal remained patriarch of Jerusalem until his death in 458 — order had been reestablished in 453. Emperor Marcian and Empress Pulcheria wrote to the recalcitrant monks in an attempt to explain why the Council of Chalcedon should be accepted. In general, Palestine represented a special situation. Situated between Egypt, which was almost entirely Monophysite, and Syria, which was increasingly becoming more and more Monophysite, Palestine consisted in general of numerous monasteries which were more Greek than Syriac and which were at that time pro-Chalcedonian. The Monophysites at this time did not control all the monasteries in Palestine. But already in the time of Justinian we know that the Chalcedonian monks in Palestine were fewer in number. Moreover, Palestine will represent a special situation throughout the Monophysite controversy, always being somewhat inclined towards Chalcedon, the reasons for which are varied. In part it was because the very existence of the patriarchal see of Jerusalem depended on the canons of the Council of Chalcedon. In part it was because of the holy places which attracted pilgrims from throughout the empire, a fact which by itself opened Palestine to more communication with Constantinople and with the Latin West. Unlike Egyptian monasticism which was in general ethnic in character, especially from the time of the expulsion of the Greek Origenists" under Patriarch Theophilus, Palestinian monasticism was "imperial" or "international" in general, for most of the monks came from all parts of the empire.

The Reaction of Rome.

Rome was thoroughly committed to Chalcedon, even though the nuances of the theological problems do not seem to have been understood there. Constantinople, as the "New Rome," as the imperial city, shifted with the political realities. Still, there were theological problems to resolve and not all of the "shifting" was done for purely political reasons. The Twenty-Eighth Canon of the Council of Chalcedon also was of importance to the imperial city and it was a canon which Rome would consistently refuse to accept. The Romans legates who were present when the Twenty-Eighth Canon was promulgated protested vigorously. Indeed, they called attention quickly to the canons of the Council of Nicaea, canons that had determined the order of the hierarchy among the patriarchal sees. On the one hand Rome simply ignored the Twenty-Eighth Canon, at times claiming it had never heard of it. On the other hand Pope Leo reacted strongly. Indeed, he refused to confirm the Council of Chalcedon at first. Then in May of 452 Pope Leo annulled all acts of the Council of Chalcedon that contradicted the canons of the Council of Nicaea. He wrote in protest to Emperor Marcian, to Empress Pulcheria, and to Patriarch Anatolius. It was not until March of 453 that Pope Leo finally confirmed the decrees of the council but even then he carefully stipulated that he was confirming only that which was decreed concerning the faith. Pope Leo, always cognizant of the Roman see’s consciousness of itself as principatus apostolicus considered the Twenty-Eighth Canon to be dangerous, untraditional, and invalid. Always deeply concerned that the Church have a uniformity in canonical as well as liturgical practices — utfide et actibus congmamus — Pope Leo would never accept what he considered to be a novelty in the hierarchy of the Church. He did not consider the papal primacy to be a result of political considerations but rather to be established on the primacy of St. Peter. Although he places the greatest significance on the canons of the Council of Nicaea, especially the Sixth Canon, Pope Leo ignores in silence the Third Canon of the Second Ecumenical Council. Indeed, Patriarch Anatolius did respond to Pope Leo on the subject: "Concerning the decree of the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon in favor of the See of Constantinople, Your Holiness may be certain that I had no part in it so that I have peace and tranquillity since my youth. The venerable clergy of the Church of Constantinople took this initiative in accord with the pious bishops of our regions who insisted on the measure. But all its efficacy and its confirmation have been reserved to the authority of Your Holiness" [Epistula 132, Anatolii ad Leonem]. The Twenty-Eighth Canon of the Council of Chalcedon would be confirmed by Emperor Justinian in his One Hundred and Thirty-First Novelle. Latin canonical collections would consistently omit it. Indeed, Rome never would accept this canon. It was only during the Latin period of occupation of the patriarchate — when it was a Latin patriarchate at Constantinople — did Rome acknowledge that the patriarch of Constantinople held the rank next to the patriarch of Rome. This was acknowledged in 1215 under Pope Innocent III by the Fourth Lateran Council. But the special circumstances surrounding this acknowledgement must be stressed.

The Reaction in Antioch.

There is an enormous lacuna of information on the reaction to the Council of Chalcedon in Antioch. Maximus, the bishop of Antioch, although he was promoted to this position by the Robber Council, was a dyophysite. Yet, not long after this Antioch, at least in its representation in the patriarchate, will become Monophysite. It is not sufficient to attempt to explain this by the "demotion" of the patriarchate by the Council of Chalcedon. The essential answer must be sought elsewhere. In essence Antioch was a Greek city planted in a Syriac land. Indeed, it may appear odd that the famous Antiochene school with its emphasis on the historical Jesus, with its emphasis on the human nature in Christ, could fall under the sway of a theological vision which, at very least, minimalized the human nature in Christ. The explanation that Antioch succumbed to Monophysitism because of the influence of the monks who, it is claimed, tended towards Monophysitism, is also an inadequate explanation, though it is partly true that monasticism in general was prone towards Monophysitism — the monastery associated with St. Simeon the Stylite, who was himself vociferously pro-Chalcedonian, became Monophysite not long after St. Simeon’s death in 459. Yet, the problem cannot be explained adequately on historical grounds. The problem was one of a theological nature which in fact transcended regional areas or ethnic factionalism.

 

Peter the Fuller’s Arrival in Antioch and
the Alteration of the Trisagion Hymn.

Peter the Fuller — his name γναφεύς obviously comes from his monastic profession as a “fuller” — had been a monk in Constantinople at the Acoemetae Monastery — (from άκοίμηταί meaning the “sleepless ones”). He appears to have disputed with “the brethren” there and journeyed to Syria. His strong anti-Chalcedonian tendencies won him the support of many and he was consecrated patriarch of Antioch while the canonical patriarch, Martyrius, was in Constantinople. Peter was patriarch this time for only one year but he used that year to introduce a change in the liturgy at Antioch. To the Trisagion Hymn of "Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us," Peter added "Thou who was crucified for us" before "have mercy on us" — άγιος ό Θeoς, άγιος ισχυρός, άγιος αθάνατος, ό σταυρωθεις δι’ ήμας. By itself there was nothing unorthodox with this formula if it referred to the person of the Logos in the flesh. But it could also easily be interpreted in a Monophysitical way — and indeed it was to become a type of sacred phrase among Monophysites. Thus Antioch experienced a formula of Monophysitism in its very liturgical life, even if the duration under Peter was brief.

 

The Death of Emperor Marcian and the Return to Alexandria of the Exiled Opponents to the Council of Chalcedon.

Emperor Marcian died in early 457. With his death the Theodosian dynasty died also. It was Marcian who had assembled the Council of Chalcedon and it was he who was responsible for upholding the authority of the council, from preventing an open revolt on the part of the Monophysite party. Scarcely had he been buried when the battle over Chalcedon broke out. It was Alexandria, of course, where the new struggle was unleashed. And who better to spark the new struggle than Dioscorus — this time in death, however. Dioscorus had died in exile in 454 but he was never forgotten by the Egyptians. One source, the Vita Petri Iberi (63), portrays Proterius as "hard-hearted," as "blood-thirsty," and as "rejoicing" over the death of Dioscorus. The decree exiling those who participated in the Robber Council had become void upon the death of Emperor Marcian. Hence, the exiles returned to Alexandria. Simultaneously, the imperial military commander of Alexandria — Dionysius — was not in the city at this time. The Monophysite party, never regarding Proterius as the legitimate patriarch, determined to elect their own patriarch to the legitimate one, the now departed "confessor" Dioscorus.

 

The Monophysite Election of Timothy Aelurus
as Patriarch of Alexandria and the Murder of Proterius.

Their choice was one Timothy “Aelurus” — the nickname “weasel” or “cat” came from the Greek αίλουρος. His followers claimed the nickname came from his small and emaciated stature; his opponents claimed it came from his "nightly prowlings" from cell to cell to solicit the position of patriarch for himself. When the death of Emperor Marcian became known in Alexandria, Timothy Aelurus was smuggled into the city. The mass of people supported Timothy. The bishops were hesitant. Indeed, only two bishops could be found to consecrate Timothy, only one of whom came from the area. The other was the interesting personality of Peter the Iberian — Nabarnugios, a barbarian prince, a one-time hostage, an ascetic and monk, and finally a bishop. Severus in his Letter 2 (3) claims there were three bishops but admits that the entire procedure was irregular, secret, and hurried. Peter the Iberian played a significant role in Egypt in undermining Proterius’ position. Indeed, some have speculated that Proterius might have been able to win over the populace had it not been for the influence of Peter. It was the dowager Empress Eudokia, settling near Jerusalem in 443, who supported Peter the Iberian. Peter had always had good connections with the imperial court and they continued while he was the head of a monastery in Palestine. When Eudokia died in 460, Peter left for Egypt and there worked for the Monophysite cause. The Vita Petri Iberi relates that as early as 453 "shouts inspired by God" were heard in the the theater: "Bring Dioscorus to the city! Bring the orthodox to the city! Bring the confessor to his throne. Let the bones of Proterius be burned! Banishment to Judas! Throw Judas oat!" To the Alexandrians Dioscorus was the true confessor, the one who had stood up for the truth, the one who had defied the emperor and excommunicated the bishop of Rome. Dioscorus had become a national hero; Proterius had become linked with the imperial policy and the Council of Chalcedon. Emperor Marcian had written to Palladius, the praetorian prefect, in August of 455 to order the same penalty for the followers of Eutyches and Apollinarius as was in effect for the Manichees. Proterius knew that policy was being made by circumventing him. He had even tried in vain to persuade Pope Leo to allow a more flexible interpretation of Chalcedon in Egypt. Leo flatly refused, claiming that Chalcedon had to be accepted in full with no dilution and no wavering of interpretation. Proterius had waged a long dispute with Leo over the date of Easter and on this he had been successful. Otherwise, Proterius had no influence.

When Dionysius had realized that Timothy had been consecrated, he hurried back to his post in Alexandria and arrested Timothy. Such violence broke out that Dionysius released Timothy under surveillance. A type of compromise was reached temporarily — they divided the churches in Alexandria, some to be under Timothy, some under Proterius. The lack of influence that Proterius had was reflected in the fact that, although it was Holy Week and the time for baptismal candidates to present themselves, only five baptismal candidates received baptism from Proterius. Twelve days after the consecration of Timothy Aelurus, Proterius was murdered in the baptistery of his own cathedral on Holy Friday. His body was dragged through the streets and burned in the Hippodrome.

Who now was to be patriarch? Proterius was dead. It appears that both the imperial officials and the followers of Proterius were willing to accept Timothy but on one condition. Could Timothy convince his followers to accept the "Proterians?" This he could not do. The matter was referred to the new emperor for a decision.

 

The Coronation of Emperor Leo I and Policy in Alexandria.

Emperor Leo I (457-474) was a competent soldier — tribunus — and statesman but no theologian. Like Marcian, Leo was a Thracian staff-officer. Leo was also the first emperor to receive his crown from the patriarch of Constantinople. From this point on all Byzantine Emperors would be crowned by the patriarch of Constantinople. In addition, he owed his throne to the Alan Aspar [see the interesting article on Aspar’s influence by G. Vernadsky, "Flavius Ardabur Aspar," in Sudost-Forschungen 6 (1941), 38 ff.] Leo I was a Chalcedonian. His puritanical tendencies did not unnoticed — he attempted to compel rest on Sunday and proohibited musical instruments. This situation in Alexandria he viewed as one of "public order," failing to perceive the profundities of the theological problems involved in the situation. The eauence of events given in the Vita Petri Iberi, the Church History (4, 1) of Zacharias, Evagrius’ Church History (2, 8), and Theodore Lector’s Church History (1, 8-9) indicate that, prior to the murder of Proterius, Emperor Leo I was inclined to favor Timothy Aelurus — this could very well have been the influence of Aspar whose own interests for his Goths would have favored a weakened patriarch of Constantinople. As soon as he learned of the murder, Leo I sent officials to investigate.

The Monophysite party in Alexandria requested a council to be held in Ephesus to decide the issue of the Alexandrian patriarch. Obviously they wanted it held in Ephesus because it was the place of the two victories of Alexandria — at the Third Ecumenical Council under St. Cyril in 431 and at the Robber Council under Dioscorus in 449. They obviously wanted to reopen the entire question of the validity of the Council of Chalcedon. Emperor Leo I rejected this request. The patriarch of Constantinople, Anatolius, suggested and the emperor accepted the suggestion of asking all bishops in the empire what they thought of two issues: the consecration of Timothy; and the Council of Chalcedon. The responses on the consecration of Timothy were unanimous — the consecration was condemned. On the question of the Council of Chalcedon only one bishop — Amphilochius of Side — condemned the council. All other bishops claimed that they adhered to the decisions of the Council of Chalcedon. Odd mathematics take place within fifteen years. In 458 approximately two thousand bishops claimed they adhered to Chalcedon. Fifteen years later Emperor Basiliscus (475-476) issued an encyclical which essentially condemned the Council of Chalcedon and approximately five hundred bishops ascribed to it!

 

The Exile of Timothy Aelurus and the Election of

Timothy Salafaciolus as Patriarch of Alexandria.

Emperor Leo I acted. Timothy Aelurus was ordered out of exandria. A new patriarch was to be chosen and consecrated, one who would adhere to the Council of Chalcedon. Timothy was encedto exile in Gangra. He was arrested and sent into exile. As he was leaving Alexandria, the populace rioted. This time the authorities were prepared and quelled the riots. As he journeyed to his exile, Timothy was met with respect along the way. In Beirut [Berytus] the bishop, Eustathius, despite the fact that he had signed the acts of the Council of Chalcedon and had responded favorably to Emperor Leo I’s request for his attitude towards the Council of Chalcedon, told Timothy that he was in complete agreement with him and his doctrine. Timothy is said to have challenged Eustathius, claiming that he was insincere and that, if sincere, then he should follow him into exile.

The respect that Timothy Aelurus commanded on his way into exile gave die imperial authorities food for thought, for it clearly revealed how strong the Monophysites were in those regions. The authorities initiated action against many of these leaders. Timothy reached his exile in Gangra. Later, he was exiled to the more remote Cherson, a step which indicated how serious the state considered Timothy’s influence. Timothy wrote bitterly in exile. "Exiled I am only and simply because of my loyalty to the Council of Nicaea and my loyalty to the fathers, and for my renunciation of the open denial of Christ at Chalcedon. The sentence against me is thoroughly illegal, and it was obtained through bribery. Neither was I given any opportunity to defend myself."

In the spring of 460 a patriarch was selected for Alexandria, another Timothy who picked up the nickname of Salafaciolus as well as that of "Basilicus." The latter meant that he was the "emperor’s man." The Monophy sites describe Timothy as a popularity seeker, as a man feeble in act, and as a man "soft in manners." But he stunned most people of his time because he refused to persecute his opponents. This could partly be a result of his "soft" or kind nature but there was something else involved. Timothy Salafaciolus believed that the various Christian parties should be allowed to honor "Our Lord as each sees fit." Timothy was in essence advocating the right of religious conscience and the right of toleration. This did not go unnoticed. Pope Leo the Great wrote Timothy Salofaciolus a rebuke. To a great extent Pope Leo was correct, for even the Monophysites despised Timothy for his toleration — they even resented the opportunity of being considered martyrs. But his kindness ultimately won the populace. It is recorded that the Alexandrian populace shouted: "We will not be in communion with you, but we love you." Timothy Salafaciolus even took the extraordinary step of restoring Dioscorus1 name to the diptychs, despite a vigorous protest from Pope Leo the Great who cut him off from communion with Rome. It seems, however, that he later corrected himself and again removed Dioscorus’ name the diptychs.

Under the kind and mild rule of Timothy Salofaciolus no violence erupted in Alexandria. Emperor Leo I was able to live the remainder of his life with a restored, albeit tentative, order in Alexandria. But Alexandria was kept peaceful precisely because its Chalcedonian patriarch did not enforce Chalcedon.

 

The Deposition of Peter the Fuller in Antioch, the Return of Patriarch Martyrius, and Splits within Monophysitism.

In Syria and Palestine Peter the Fuller had kept the Monophysite party alive. He was deposed by imperial order and Martyrius was replaced as the legitimate patriarch of Antioch. But Martyrius returned worn out by intrigues and renounced the patriarchate of Antioch: "I renounce a recalcitrant clergy, an unmanageable people, and a defiled church," as Theodore Lector writes in his Church History (1,21). Peter Fuller was allowed to live in Constantinople under alleged surveillance. Actually he was quite active in Constantinople where there was a party of Monophysites led by Acacius, the future patriarch of Constantinople.

The Chalcedonians could discern a visible fragmentation of theological thought among the Monophysites. The internal divisions within Monophysitism would increase. At first there were two discernible splits. One group objected to the Chalcedonian formula of "in two natures." A second group actually taught the doctrine of Eutyches that the humanity of Christ was not the same as ours. From these two initial groups a proliferation of theological views was to emerge — indeed, a proliferation of sects within Monophysitism. The two initial groups both claimed Timothy Aelurus as their theological father — indeed, Timothy was venerated as a confessor and as a second St. Athanasius.

 

The Influence of the Germanic Tribes on the Latin West and on Byzantium.

During this period events were taking place in the Western part ot the Empire that would have lasting results. In the West the jpurder of Valentinian III in 455 had paved the way for power to fall into the hands of Ricimer who, like Aspar in the East, controlled the making and unmaking of the emperors in the West. R e Germanic Goths had gained effective influence over the Roman Empire. During Valentinian’s rule in the Western half of the Empire from 425 to 455, there was a period of relative peace between the two parts of the Empire. But a cultural estrangement was already settling in. In the Latin West a knowledge of Greek was ebbing, while in the Greek East Latin was giving way to Greek, even though Latin would remain for some time the official imperial language of the East.

The Defeat of Attila and the Increase of Germanic Influence.

In the 440s the Eastern empire had to confront the vitality of the Huns under Attila. After devastating the Balkans and after having obtained numerous financial payoffs from the Eastern emperors, Attila turned westward. He was finally defeated in 451 by Aetius, the Roman general of the West. But in 454 Attila was making serious conquests in Italy when he suddenly died. With his death his large empire dissolved. Yet it was only to be replaced by Germanic tribes who now set up their own kingdoms — in Africa the Vandals; in Gaul and Spain the Visigoths. A new theological reality entered the Latin part of the Empire — these Germanic tribes were Arians. The political vacuum created by this situation in the West was filled by the bishop of Rome, Pope Leo the Great (440-461).

Emperor Leo I and the Termination of the Influence of Aspar the Ostrogoth.

Emperor Leo I (457-474) tried to free himself from the dependence on the Germans. Both Emperor Leo and his predecessor Martian had served in the military under the command of Aspar the Alan, an Ostrogoth. To free himself from Aspar’s control Emperor Leo I enlisted the support of the Isaurians. The chief of the Isaurians, Tarasicodissa, entered Constantinople with his army, took the Greek name of Zeno, and married Emperor Leo’s oldest daughter Ariadne in 466. This changed the imperial policy in the East towards the Germanic advances in the West. No longer indifferent to the Western cries for help, Emperor Leo I sent a rather large military force against the Vandals in Africa. The result was a disaster for the imperial forces — partly because of the competence of the Germanic Gaiseric and partly because of the incompetence of the imperial commander, Basiliscus, Emperor Leo I’s brother-in-law. Aspar again made his presence felt in the East — his son Patricius married Emperor Leo’s second daughter. Despite the fact that Patricius was an Arian, he was made the heir to the throne and received the title of Caesar. But vehement anti-Ger ment broke out in Constantinople. In 471 Aspar and his Ardabur were assassinated, while his son Patricius, escaping with serious wounds, was divorced from Emperor Leo’s daughter and his position as Caesar annulled.

Emperor Zeno and Isaurian Influence.

Zeno, the Isaurian leader, now took the control once in the hands of Aspar and with this Isaurian influence increased. Emperor Leo I died in 474 and was succeeded by his grandson Leo II, the son of Zeno and Ariadne. But Zeno was co-emperor. That same year Leo II died and Zeno — Tarasicodissa the Isaurian — became Emperor. The Isaurians were imperial subjects and hence could not technically be referred to as barbarians. Yet the Germanic Goths, although technically barbarians, were culturally more sophisticated than the Isaurians, especially as a result of their long contact with the Empire. Still, the Isaurians were regarded as "foreigners" and there was as much anti-Isaurian hostility in the empire as there had been anti-German sentiment. In January of 475 there was a plot to remove Zeno. He was replaced for approximately eighteen months by his brother-in-law Basiliscus. Zeno again regained the throne and was able to hold it, despite constant plots and civil war, for another fifteen years, from 476 until 491. Zeno’s second accession to the throne coincided precisely with the final collapse of the western half of the Roman Empire. Constantinople was compelled to recognize Odoacer as the new ruler in Italy. Odoacer did not make a claim to imperial title — he was satisfied with having real power and received the title of magister militum per Italian, governing Italy as the viceroy of Emperor Zeno. Externally the appearance of a united empire remained but in fact Italy, as the rest of the Western Empire, was now lost and under German rule.

Zeno now set out to remove the remaining Germanic threat in the East. The Ostrogoths still had substantial military forces under Theodoric Strabo in Thrace and under Theodoric the Amal in Illyricum. The Germanic forces were constantly fluctuating between serving the imperial government and rising up against it. The threat from Theodoric Strabo ceased in 484 with his death. In 488 imperial diplomacy devised a way to rid itself of Theodoric the Amal by requesting that he move westward against Odoacer if successful, Theodoric the Amal would rule Italy. The two Germanic forces met in a fierce battle in 493 — Theodoric killed Odoacer with his own hands. Control of Italy now fell to Theodoric the Amal, who took the title of Theodoric the Great Zeno, rid of the Germanic threat, now had to face constant warfare with other Isaurian chieftains. With the loss of the West came the loss of the only thoroughly Chalcedonian part of the Empire.

 

The Loss of the Chalcedonian West to Theodoric
and Emperor Basiliscus’ Attempt to Reach a Compromise
With the Non-Chalcedonians.

Zeno realized that there was now no reason not to make some compromise with the moderate Monophy sites. A delegation of Alexandrian monks journeyed to Constantinople to solicit Zeno to denounce the Council of Chalcedon. Before Zeno had a chance to implement any such policy, a palace revolt dethroned him and put his brother-in-law, Basiliscus, on the throne. The monks arrived to find Basiliscus as the new emperor. One of the Alexandrian monks happened to be the brother of one of Basiliscus’ senior ministers.

One of the first acts of Basiliscus was to recall Timothy Aelurus from exile in Cherson — Timothy had been in exile for at least seventeen years. On his way back to Alexandria Timothy stopped at Constantinople and had an audience with the new emperor. Sailors from Alexandria structured a parade in the capital for their confessor. According to Zacharias (5, 1), Theophanes in his Chronographia, and Theodore Lector (1, 30), Timothy, apparently in imitation of our Lord’s entry into Jerusalem, entered Constantinople on a donkey. Emperor Basiliscus went out to receive him. Theodore Lector relates that Timothy degraded the triumphal entry somewhat by falling off the donkey. The new bishop of Rome, Simplicius, was scandalized and wrote in his Letter (4): "How can it be that you should honor that heretic, that parricide more detestable than Cain?" Peter the Fuller was also in Constantinople and Timothy and Peter drafted an encyclical to all bishops which Basiliscus signed. This encyclical based itself on a confirmation of the Council of Nicaea, the Second Ecumenical Council (Constantinople, 381), and both councils of Ephesus — the Third Ecumenical Council (431) and the Robber Council (449). It declared anathema to the Tome of Leo "and all things said and done at Chalcedon in innovation of the holy creed of Nicaea." The encyclical was to be enforced by the laws against heresy estab -lished by Theodosius II. Bishops who did not sign the encyclical were to be banished. This encyclical paved the path in the future for the Henotikon of Zeno.

 

The Encyclical of Basiliscus 476.

"Emperor Caesar Basiliscus, pious, victorious, triumpliant,· supreme, ever-worshipful Augustus and Marcus the most illustrious Caesar, to Timothy, Archbishop of the great see of the Alexandrians, most reverend and beloved of God."

"It has ever been our pleasure that whatever laws have been decreed on behalf of the true and apostolic faith by those pious predecessors of ours who have maintained the true service of the blessed and undecaying and life-giving Trinity should never be inoperative. But we are rather disposed to announce them as of our own enactment. We, preferring piety and zeal in the cause of our God and Savior Jesus Christ, who created and has made us glorious, before all diligence in human affairs, and being further convinced that unity among the flock of Christ is the preservation of ourselves and our subjects, the sound foundation and unshaken bulwark of our empire. Being moved by these considerations with godly zeal, and offering to our God and Savior Jesus Christ the unity of the Holy Church as the first-fruits of our reign, we decree that the basis and settlement of human felicity, namely, the symbol of the three hundred and eighteen holy Fathers who were assembled, in concert with the Holy Spirit, at Nicaea, into which both ourselves and all our believing predecessors were baptized, that this alone should have reception and authority with the orthodox people in all the most holy churches of God, as the only formulary of the right faith, and sufficient for the utter destruction of every heresy and for the complete unity of the holy churches of God. And this, without prejudice to the force of the acts of the hundred and fifty holy Fathers assembled in this Imperial city in confirmation of that sacred symbol itself and in condemnation of those who blasphemed against the Holy Spirit. And without prejudice to all the acts passed in the Metropolitan city of the Ephesians against the impious Nestorius and those who subsequently favored his opinions."

But the proceedings which have disturbed the unity and order of the holy churches of God and the peace of the whole world, that is to say, the so-called Tome of Leo, all things said and done at Chalcedon in innovation of the before-mentioned holy symbol of the three hundred and eighteen holy Fathers, whether by way of definition of faith, or setting forth of symbols, or of interpretation, or instruction, or discourse, we decree that these shall be anathematized both here and everywhere by the most holy bishops in every church, and shall be committed to the flames whenever they shall be found, inasmuch as it was so enjoined respecting all heretical doctrines by our predecessors, of pious and blessed memory, Constantine, and Theodosius the Younger. And that, having thus been rendered null, they shall be utterly expelled from the one and only Catholic and Apostolic Orthodox Church, as superseding the everlasting and saving definitions of the three hundred and eighteen Fathers, and those of the blessed Fathers who, by the Holy Spirit, made their decision at Ephesus; that no one in brief either of the priesthood or of the laity, shall be allowed to deviate from that most sacred constitution of the holy symbol. And that together with all the innovations of the sacred symbol which were enacted at Chalcedon there be also anathe -matized the heresy of those who do not confess that the Only-Begotten Son of God was truly Incarnate and became man of the Holy Spirit, and of the holy and ever-virgin Mary, Theotokos, but, according to their strange conceit, either from heaven or in mere phantasy and ap -pearance. And, in brief, every heresy and whatever other innovation in respect either of thought or language, has been devised in violation of the sacred symbol in any manner or at any time or place. And, inasmuch as it is the special task of imperial providence to furnish their subjects with forecasting deliberation, abundant means of security, not only for the present but for the future time, we decree that the most holy bishops in every place shall subscribe to this our Sacred Encyclical when exhibited to them, as a distinct declaration that they are indeed ruled by the sacred symbol of the three hundred and eighteen Fathers alone — which the hundred and fifty holy Fathers confirmed. And as it was also defined by the most holy Fathers who subsequently assembled in the Metropolitan city of the Ephesians, that the sacred symbol of the three hundred and eighteen holy Fathers ought to be the only rule — while they anathematize every stumbling block erected at Chalcedon to the faith of the orthodox people and utterly eject them from the churches as an impediment teethe general welfare and our own."

"Those, moreover, who, after the issuing of this our acred letter, which we trust to have uttered in accordance with the will of God in an endeavor to accomplish that unity which all desire for the holy churches of God, shall attempt to bring forward or so much as to name the innovation of the faith which was enacted at Chalcedon, either in discourse or instruction or writing, in whatever manner, place, or time — with respect to those persons being the cause of confusion and tumult in the churches of God and among the whole of our subjects, and enemies to God and our safety, we command, in accordance with the laws decreed by our predecessor Theodosius, of blessed and sacred memory, against such sort of evil designs, which laws are subjoined to this our Sacred Encyclical — that if bishops or clergy, they be deposed; if monks or laypersons, that they be subjected to banishment and every mode of confiscation, and the severest penalties."

"And so the holy and consubstantial Trinity, the Creator and Vivifier of the universe, which has ever been adored by our Piety, receiving at the present time service at our hands in the destruction of the before-mentioned tares and the confirmation of the true and apostolic traditions of the holy symbol, and being thereby rendered favorable and gracious to our souls and to all our subjects, shall ever aid us in the exercise of our sway and preserve the peace of the world." [PatrologiaGraeca&6, 2599-2604].

 

The Refusal of Patriarch Acacius to Sign the Encyclical.

Timothy Aelurus and Peter the Fuller, representing respectively the patriarchates of Alexandria and Antioch, signed their document. Anastasius, the patriarch of Jerusalem, also signed, as did approximately five hundred bishops. But Acacius, the patriarch of Constantinople, refused to sign it. His reason for not signing does not seem to be theological, for Acacius had been a leader among the Monophysites and the anti-Chalcedonians while he was a priest in the capital. It is commonly thought that Acacius neid to Chalcedon because of its Twenty-Eighth Canon which elevated the see of Constantinople to a type of co-equality with Old Rome. This may well be an oversimplification. Acacius had also two letters from Pope Simplicius urging him not to sign the encyclical. Acacius was pronounced deposed but the sentence does not appear to have been carried out.

 

Timothy Aelurus’ Rejection of Extreme Monophysitism.

Timothy Aelurus finally disappointed the Eutychian wing of the Monophysite party, for he clearly established his position on the nature of the humanity in Christ. "Christ was of the same nature with us in the flesh and of the same nature with the Father in the Godhead." It appears clear that the Eutychians held that the divine nature of Christ had completely absorbed the human nature and that Christ’s flesh was "heavenly." The Eutychians from this time on were to regard Timothy Aelurus and Peter the Fuller as Chalcedonians. Timothy was successful, however, in obtaining his greatly desired new council to be held at Ephesus.

 

Timothy Aelurus’ Council of Ephesus.

Timothy Aelurus presided over a council of approximately six hundred bishops at Ephesus. Timothy’s council promulgated an anathema of the Council of Chalcedon, that council which "turned the world upside down." His council also annulled the patriarchal rights conferred to the see of Constantinople. Peter the Fuller then returned to Antioch unopposed — the see was then vacant because of the death of bishop Julian. Timothy Aelurus entered Alexandria triumphantly. His behavior was beyond reproach. He treated kindly the officer who had arrested him seventeen or eighteen years previously. He also behaved with kindness towards Timothy Salafaciolus, granting him a stipend from the revenues of the church — one denarius per day, sufficient for a monk. Timothy Salafaciolus offered no resistance, returning to the monastery he had previously left to take up the burdensome task of patriarch. Timothy Aelurus’ gentleness and kindness irritated many of his supporters, for he refused to take the "strict" approach with the Proterians. Rather, he required only a verbal renunciation of the Council of Chalcedon as the prerequisite for communion. Timothy had the remains of the body of Dioscorus brought back to Alexandria and buried with honor with the other patriarchs of that city.

Timothy Aelurus appeared to have achieved victory. He had not, however, expected the challenge he was to receive from Patriarch Acacius. The patriarch of Constantinople began to intrigue for the restoration of Zeno as emperor — he had assistance also from the Dowager Empress Verina. It was not an unclever move, for Zeno had behind him the most powerful military force in the empire — Isaurians. Acacius could divine that the capital still had numerous supporters of Chalcedon and that Basiliscus’ clical had only infuriated those Chalcedonians and had also brought others to the defense of Chalcedon, either for theological reasons or for the importance they attached to the Twenty-Eighth Canon. Patriarch Acacius now appealed to the famous Daniel the Stylite.

 

Patriarch Acacius and St. Daniel the Stylite.

St. Daniel (d. 493) was the most famous of the disciples of St. Simeon the Stylite — in fact, it was Daniel who received St. Simeon’s cowl upon the latter’s death. Daniel spent his early years at Samosata and at other monasteries in the East. He was already forty-seven years old when he arrived in Constantinople. He positioned his pillar four miles from Constantinople where he was to live for another thirty-three years. Daniel was considered a prophet and he had the complete confidence of the former Emperor Leo I and of St. Gennadius, the patriarch of Constantinople from 458 until 471. St. Gennadius had an excellent reputation in Constantinople and elsewhere. St. Gennadius’ ordination of St. Daniel enhanced even more the reputation of the latter. With the emperor present, St. Gennadius ordained Daniel priest without Daniel leaving his pillar. St. Gennadius’s life of holiness and his power of prayer had become famous throughout the empire. Moreover, St. Gennadius was a theologian and an exegete. Although early in his life in 431 St. Gennadius had written a scathing critique of St. Cyril’s Twelve Anathemas and had accused St. Cyril of blasphemy in his Ad Parthenium, his work in praise of Pope Leo’s Tome, fragments of which are extant, established his orthodoxy. Blessed by St. Gennadius and having established his own fame for holiness and prophetic gifts, St. Daniel was approached by Patriarch Acacius in an appeal "to save the Church trom persecution." For the only time St. Daniel descended from his pillar to aid Acacius. The very act by itself created a sense of dramatic tension. The Vita Danielis relates that when St. Daniel confronted Emperor Basiliscus one of the Gothic guards "fell aead and Basiliscus was threatened with judgment. The spiritual presence of St. Daniel essentially forced Basiliscus to apologize and to alter his strategy. At the some time Acacius had received a reply from Pope Simplicius, who praised Acacius for his strength of will m a critical situation. Pope Simplicius also wrote to Basiliscus and to all the archimandrites in Constantinople insisting on the removal of Timothy Aelurus. Basiliscus finally gave in A new encyclical was issued, another "holy encyclical," which though it did not mention Chalcedon, denounced both Nestorius and Eutyches along with "all other heresies." Moreover, it reaffirmed the rights of the patriarch and condemned any reconvening of a new council.

 

The Return of Emperor Zeno and the Murder of Basiliscus.

Toward the end of August in 476 Zeno had returned to Constantinople with his Isaurian troops. By December an edict had abrogated the authority of Emperor Basiliscus , who vanishes from history. The rumor was that he as "immured in a wall," which was close to the truth — Basiliscus and his family were interred in a cistern in Cappadocia and there died of starvation.

The five hundred bishops who had signed Basiliscus’ first encyclical hurried to make amends with Patriarch Acacius with the exception, of course, of Timothy Aelurus. There were also two other bishops who held their ground — Anastasius of Jerusalem and Epiphanius of Mygdala. The bishops claimed that they had been "compelled" to sign and such an excuse was accepted for obvious reasons.

 

The Death of Timothy Aelurus and the Election of Peter Mongus.

The two Monophysite patriarchs, Timothy Aelurus in Alexandria and Anastasius in Jerusalem, were left alone because of their age — it was reasoned that it was wiser to let death take them. Pope Simplicius in his Letter 8 suggested that Zeno should execute Timothy Aelurus as an offering of thanksgiving for his return to the imperial throne. Zeno rejected the advise. Timothy died in mid 477, not long after Zeno had regained the throne. At once the Monophysites in Alexandria elected and consecrated Peter Mongus, a former exiled companion of Timothy Aelurus. Again there were accusations of an irregular consecration. In his letter to Simplicius (Letter 8) Acacius claimed that Peter Mongus was consecrated by only one bishop, hurriedly in the middle of the night before Timothy had even been buried. That Peter was consecrated at night was in accordance with the common practice in Alexandria and Acacius should have been aware of this. In Alexandria the patriarchal successor was expected to keep a vigil besides the corpse of the deceased patriarch and take with his own hands the pallium of St. Mark from the deceased patriarch’s neck. That only one bishop consecrated Peter Mongus is another accusation which, if true, was in violation of canonical law. There is little doubt that Peter was accepted by the populace. What was to frustrate and infuriate the Roman Pope was Patriarch Acacius’ request that Peter Mongus not be recognized only to discover that Acacius was negotiating with Peter Mongus. At this time the Roman Pope was supporting two Chalcedonians — Timothy Salafaciolus in Alexandria and Calendion in Antioch.

 

A Time of Trouble in Antioch.

In mid 478 Anastasius, the patriarch of Antioch, died. Martyrius, an opponent of the Council of Chalcedon, was elected and consecrated patriarch of Antioch. Martyrius wasted little time in letting his position be known. Zacharias gives the text of an encyclical sent out by Martyrius in which he claimed that the true faith was to be found in the first three councils of Nicaea, Constantinople, and Ephesus. Moreover, anyone accepting any other teaching or doctrine from any different council, "whether Sardica, Ariminum, or Chalcedon," was to be anathematized. The situation in Antioch bordered on anarchy. The majority of the populace in Antioch were anti-Chalcedonian but there still remained, unlike in Alexandria, a rather strong Chalcedonian group, mainly consisting of the upper class and the imperial officers. According to John Malalas’ Chronographia(l5, 103), the Jews in Antioch supported the Chalcedonians, one result of which was a massacre of Jews by the anti-Chalcedonians.

 

The Appointment of Calendio as Patriarch of Antioch.

Emperor Zeno had Peter the Fuller deposed and exiled. On his journey into exile Peter escaped and entered a monastery of his supporters where the imperial arm could not reach him. The supporters of Peter the Fuller put forward John Codonatus as the candidate for patriarch, a man whom Peter the Fuller had ordained as bishop of Apamea, though John had never resided there. The imperial authorities rejected the candidate and elected Stephen I. immediately the Monophysites accused Stephen I of being a Nestorian, an accusation they could not substantiate. In any case, Steh l Was Soon thereafter murdered by a mob. Another Pnen was consecrated by Patriarch Acacius to take the place of the murdered patriarch. And this act by Acacius led to furthe accusations, even from Pope Simplicius. This time the issue was the "power" and "authority" of the see of Constantinople and its encroachment on the rights of the other sees. Acacius responded to Pope Simplicius that he had only acted to ensure that an orthodox bishop fill the see of Antioch and not to set a precedent. Simplicius relented and accepted the "irregular election" on the condition and understanding that ne in uswn posteritatis veniat et statuta patrum confundat. The Stephen consecrated by Acacius soon died and the Monophysites again put forward the candidacy of John Codonatus. Zeno, determined to have nothing to do with the party that supported Basiliscus, conferred with Patriarch Acacius and the two agreed on Calendio, the apocrisiarius of Antioch at Constantinople. Some sources — Theophanes and Theodore Lector — claim that Calendio was also consecrated at Constantinople but this seems unlikely, especially in the light of the letters of Pope Simplicius to Patriarch Acacius. He was most probably consecrated in Antioch under close imperial scrutiny. The portrait of Calendio from the sources is most refreshing. His character comes through as one of principle. He was a solid supporter of the Council of Chalcedon and, though he was always willing to offer concessions, no concession would be exchanged at the sacrifice of his theological principles and beliefs.

Calendio anathematized Peter the Fuller but let his addition to the Trisagion stand but with an important change — before "who was crucified for us," Calendio added "Christ our King." It was a brilliant stroke, for neither the Monophysites nor the Chalce -donians could object to this wording. Calendio accomplished something else of significance, something long since forgotten in the Western Church — he reconciled the "schismatic" Eustathians. Calendio, by having the bones of St. Eustathius brought from his grave in exile to Antioch, reconciled the Eustathians to the Church at Antioch and thus healed a schism which had lasted one hundred and fifty years.

 

Political and Ecclesiastical Intrigues.

Acacius, pragmatist as he always was, realized quite well what the actual state of affairs was. There was no longer an emperor in the West, a fact that meant that Simplicius of Rome was dependent upon Zeno. He was also informed of new schisms within the body of the anti-Chalcedonians. Zacharias informs us in his Church History (5, 4) that the bishop of Joppa, Theodotus, was insisting on a complete eradication of the Council of Chalcedon and the Tome of Pope Leo — it is claimed that he was supported by thirty thousand Egyptian monks. The former Proterians were attempting reconcile themselves with Peter Mongus, who, upon hearing of treats of deposition and exile by Zeno, simply lived in the Monophysite monasteries without relinquishing his patriarchate the imperial arm could not reach him in these monasteries. Zeno now insisted that Timothy Salafaciolus be placed upon the Alexandrian throne for the rest of his life. This action was taken. The result was the outbreak of more violence in Alexandria and this time the populace placed the blame on Timothy Salafaciolus. Toward the end of 481 and the beginning of 482 Timothy Salafaciolus, an old man who knew he was not to live much longer, sent his friend and fellow Pachomian monk, John Talaia, to Constantinople to request that his successor be chosen from the Egyptian clergy.

 

John Talaia and Peter Mongus.

The Isaurian military commander, Illus, who paved the way for Zeno’s successful return to Constantinople, now becomes involved in the intrigue against Zeno. It appears that John Talaia sought out Illus in Constantinople. Zeno, who had approved the "free election" in Alexandria, was aware that Illus was plotting against him with the prefect of Alexandria. Before leaving Constantinople the authorities extracted an oath from John Talaia that he would not seek the patriarchal throne of Alexandria. Timothy Salafaciolus died shortly thereafter — there is vagueness as to the actual date but Schwartz places it in February of 482. The populace of Alexandria reconfirmed their choice of Peter Mongus. John Talaia, breaking his oath, was consecrated as the Chalcedonian patriarch of Alexandria. The information from Liberatus of Carthage in his Breviarium causae Nestorianorum et Eutychianorwn (17, 3) is that John Talaia informed Illus, then in Antioch, of his election but did not inform either Acacius or Zeno. The emperor was furious that John Talaia had broken his oath and accused him of perjury. In Evagrius Scholasticus’ Church History (3, 15) Zeno is quoted as informing Pope Simplicius that he in no way would recognize John, a man who committed perjury, and that this was the sole reason why his consecration was not to be recognized. Zeno opted for Peter Mongus but with conditions. Peter was to accept a theological profession of faith which was to e drawn up by Acacius — Peter had sent a delegation to Constantmople to argue his case. The profession of faith drawn up by Patriarch Acacius was to become the famous Henotikon of Zeno. It was ready in mid 482.

 

The Henotikon of Zeno 482.

"The Emperor Caesar Zeno, pious, victorious, triumphant, supreme, ever-worshipful Augustus, to the most reverend bishops and clergy, and to the monks and laity throughout Alexandria, Egypt, Libya, and Pentapolis."

"Being assured that the origin and constitution, the might and invincible defense of our sovereignty is the only right and true faith, which, through divine inspiration, the three hundred and eighteen holy Fathers assembled at Nicaea set forth, and the hundred and fifty holy Fathers who, in like manner, met at Constantinople, confirmed, we day and night employ every means of prayer, of zealous pains, and of laws so that the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church in every place may be multiplied, the incorruptible and immortal mother of our scepter. And that the pious laity, continuing in peace and unanimity with respect to God, may, together with the bishops, highly beloved of God, the most pious clergy, the archimandrites and monks, offer up acceptably their supplications on behalf or our sovereignty."

"As long as our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who was Incarnate and born of Mary, the Holy Virgin and Theotokos, approves and readily accepts our concordant glorification and service, the power of our enemies will be crushed and swept away, and peace with its blessing, kindly temperate, abundant fruit, and whatever is beneficial to man, will be liberally bestowed."

"Since then the irreprehensible faith is the preserver both of ourselves and the Roman realm, petitions have been offered to us from pious archimandrites and hermits, and other venerable persons, imploring us with tears that unity should be procured for the churches, and the limbs should be knit together, which the enemy of all good has of old time been eagerly bent upon severing, under a consciousness that defeat will befall him whenever he assails the body while in an entire condition. For, since it happens that of the unnumbered generations which during die lapse of so many years time has withdrawn from life, some have departed deprived of the laver of regeneration, and others have been borne away on the inevitable journey of man without having partaken in the divine Eucharist. And innumerable murders have also been perpetrated. And not only the earth but the very air has been defiled by a multitude of blood shedding. That this state of things might be transformed into good,who would not pray? For this reason we were anxious that you should be informed that we and the churches in every quarter neither have held nor do we or shall we hold, nor are we aware of persons who hold, any other symbol or teaching or definition of faith or creed than the before-mentioned holy symbol of the three hundred and eighteen holy Fathers, which the aforementioned hundred and fifty holy Fathers confirmed. And if any person does hold such, we deem him alien. For we are confident that this symbol alone is, as we said, the preserver of our sovereignty and on their reception of this alone are all the people baptized when desirous of the saving illumination."

"And it was this symbol which all the holy Fathers assembled at Ephesus also followed, who further passed sentence of deposition on the impious Nestorius and those who subsequently held his sentiments. This Nestorius we also anathematize, together with Eutyches and all who entertain opinions contrary to those above-mentioned, receiving at the same time the Twelve Chapters of Cyril, of holy memory, formerly Archbishop of the Holy Catholic Church of the Alexandrians."

"Moreover, we confess that the Only-Begotten Son of God, himself God, who truly assumed manhood, namely our Lord Jesus Christ, who is consubstantial with the Father in respect of the Godhead, and consubstantial with ourselves as respects the manhood, that he, having descended and become Incarnate of the Holy Spirit and Mary, the Virgin and Theotokos, is one and not two. For we affirm that both his miracles and the sufferings which he voluntarily endured in the flesh are those of a single person. For we do in no degree admit those who either make a division or a confusion, or introduce a phantom. For his truly sinless Incarnation from the Theotokos did not produce an addition of a Son because the Holy Trinity continued a Trinity even when one person of the Trinity, God the Logos, became Incarnate. Knowing then that neither the holy orthodox churches in all parts nor the priests highly beloved by God who are at their head nor our own sovereignty have allowed or do allow any other symbol or definition of faith than the aforementioned holy definition, we have united ourselves thereto without hesitation."

"And these things we write not as setting forth a new form of faith, but for your assurance. And every one who has held or holds any other opinion, either at the present or another time, whether at Chalcedon or in any synod whatever, we anathematize. And specially the aforementioned Nestorius and Eutyches, and those who maintain their doctrines. Link yourselves, therefore, to the spiritual mother of the Church, and in her enjoy the same communion with us, according to the aforementioned one and only definition of the faith, namely, that of the three hundred and eighteen holy Fathers. For your all-holy Mother, the Church, waits to embrace you as true children, and longs to hear your loved voice, so long withheld. Speed yourselves, therefore, for, by so doing, you will both draw towards yourselves the favor of our Master and Savior and God, Jesus Christ, and be commended by our sovereignty." [Patrologia Graeca 86, 2619-2626].

The Henotikon would remain the official policy of Zeno throughout his reign and it continued into the reign of Emperor Anastasius I (491-518). The Henotikon was quickly accepted by the patriarchs of Constantinople, Alexandria, and Jerusalem. The theological test for Peter Mongus had become the vehicle for unity in the East. Simplicius of Rome rejected it outright, as was to be expected. Simplicius was already defending the claim of John Talaia to the patriarchal throne of Alexandria — John had fled to Rome upon the recognition of Peter Mongus. The best Rome could do for John was to make him bishop of Nola. Simplicius died soon thereafter in 483.

 

Pope St. Felix III.

The new bishop of Rome, St. Felix III (483-492), was to take decisive action. Felix sent a delegation of legates to Constantinople to demand the deposition of Peter Mongus. The papal delegation managed to fail in its mission — the delegation communed with Patriarch Acacius and heard the names of Dioscorus and Peter Mongus read from the diptychs. St. Felix III held a Roman council in July of 484 which suspended the legates and excommunicated Acacius. Thus began the Acacian Schism, a schism between Rome and Constantinople that would last for thirty-five years. Felix III wrote a letter to Zeno in which he advised him to "learn spiritual things from those in charge of them" and not "to desire to teach" the Church. This letter is often considered the beginning of the confrontation between papacy and empire — ironic in a sense because St. Felix III seems to have been the first bishop of Rome to announce his election to the emperor.

 

The Exile of Calendio and the Return of Peter Mongus.

The situation in Antioch did not go as smoothly as Zeno and Acacius had hoped. When they had consecrated Calendio as patriarch, they knew he was firmly behind the Council of Chalcedon. Calendio was not about to acquiesce to an imperial request when it involved a matter of principle connected with theological faith. He was now ordered to condemn Chalcedon and to establish communion with Peter Mongus. He refused. Zeno and Acacius apparently decided to rid themselves of Calendio. Philoxenus of Hierapolis [Mabbug] (c. 440-523) came forth as an accuser of Calendio. Philoxenus had been appointed bishop of Mabbug by Peter the Fuller in 485. Calendio was arrested and tried. The charge was not theological but political — he was tried and sentenced as a traitor for an alleged complicity in the rebellious movement of Illus and Leontius in 484. It was not only Calendio who was deposed. With him nine other bishops, including Nestor of Tarsus and Eusebius of Samosata, were deposed. Calendio was sent into exile where he was to die. Peter the Fuller again took the patriarchal throne of Antioch — for the third time. Peter’s first act was the removal of the words from the Trisagion made by Calendio — "Christ our King." Peter was to hold the throne of Alexandria for the brief remainder of his life — he died in 488.

 

The Confession of Faith of the Church in Persia.

Only the see of Rome remained Chalcedonian — all the Eastern patriarchates were now under the control of the anti-Chalcedonians. To the east, however, outside the Roman Empire the Christian communities were dyophysite but also anti-Chalcedonian — there the communities were mainly penetrated by Nestorian thought. Barsoma of Nisibis was organizing the Church in Sassanid Persia on a doctrinal confession of a Nestorian understanding of "two natures." A creed from the Church in Persia is extant, dating from about 486.

"The faith of us all should be in one confession of one divine nature in three perfect persons: one true and eternal Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is the confession by which heathenism is conquered and Judaism is rebuked. Further, concerning the oikonomia of Christ, our faith should be in the confession of two natures of Godhead and manhood. And let no one of us venture to introduce mixture, confusion, or commingling into the diversities of these two natures, seeing that the Godhead remains unchanged in its own characteristics, and the humanity in its own. And we join the diversities of the two natures in one majesty and adoration because of the perfection and inseparable conjoining — συνάφεια — that existed between the Godhead and the Manhood. If anyone thinks, or teaches others, that suffering or change can attach themselves to the Godhead of the Lord, or if he does not keep to the confession of perfect God and perfect Man in the unity of the person of our Redeemer, let him be anathema."

Here the Nestorian notion of conjunction makes itself clearly felt, and the thought of Theodore of Mopsuestia’s Christology is apparent. The Nestorian church had come into being. After 489 its school at Nisibis would provide it with a foundation to continue its existence outside the Roman empire.

 

The Schools of Edessa and Nisibis.

Edessa.

Edessa was a center of confusion. The pro-Cyrillian Rabbula was bishop of Edessa from 412 until his death in 435. Rabulla had strongly opposed Nestorianism and specifically attacked the writings of Theodore of Mopsuestia. Rabulla also translated St. Cyril’s De recta fide into Syriac and delivered at least one stinging sermon against Nestorius. Edessa (the present Urfa) was from a very early date the center of Syriac-speaking Christianity. Its church is thought to be the oldest known Christian edifice. Edessa was also most probably the home of the Old Syriac and the Peshitta versions of the New Testament. It was also possibly the home of the Diatesseron. Edessa was more closely connected with Persia than to the Hellenic world.

In 436 Ibas replaced the pro-Cyrillian Rabulla as bishop of Edessa. Ibas (who was subsequently to be condemned at the Fifth Ecumenical Council, 553) was not sympathetic to St. Cyril. Ibas wrote a letter to the Persian bishop Maris of Seleucia-Ctesiphon in which Ibas complains about the outrages of Cyril’s party in Edessa and denies the communicatio idiomatum. With Ibas as bishop, Edessa became the refuge of the intransigent Antiochenes. Persian Christians also came to Edessa. St. Ephraem the Syrian resettled in Edessa (from Persia) in approximately 365. It was in Edessa that Ephraem established his famous school, actually called the "School of Persians." It is only after Ephraem that Greek, primarily Antiochene, influence intensifies. The Greek fathers, hagiographers, and ascetics are translated. And in the early fifth century people in Edessa are already theologizing precisely along the model of thought of Theodore of Mopsuestia and Diodore of Tarsus. It is probably for this reason that the school in Edessa was temporarily closed under Rabbula. It was reopened under Ibas. However, dissent very quickly began in the school’s "brotherhood" and in 457 the intransigents had to move beyond the Persian frontier. With them the famous head of the school, Narsai, also fled to Nisibis, where the bishop there, Barsumas, asked him to stay and to establish a school. Narsai became one of the formative theologians of the Nestorian church. In 489 the school at Edessa was closed completely at the command of Emperor Zeno.

Nisibis.

During these years the Persian church completely breaks away from Byzantium and retires into its local traditions. From then on, Antiochene theology becomes the national, or rather the state, creed of Persian Christians, and the school at Nisibis becomes the spiritual center of this "Nestorian" church. However, it is more accurate to speak not of "Nestorianism" but of "the faith of Theodore and Diodore." The "Nestorian" church is actually the church of Theodore of Mopsuestia. It was precisely Theodore who by preference was Father and Teacher in the Syro-Persian church. All "Nestorian" theology is only an obedient commentary on his works: "as the holy friend of God, the blessed mar-Theodore, bishop and interpreter of the holy books, explained the faith." In Greek theology the Antiochene tradition is severed early. In Syrian theology it receives a new sense, is de-Hellenized, and becomes more Semitic. The Syrian theologians shunned philosophy as Hellenic gloss. Theodore’s "historical" theology was the only kind of Hellenism acceptable to Semitic tastes precisely because for Theodore, too, theology was more philology than philosophy.

There is also a certain inner similarity between the "historical-grammatical" method of the Antiochenes and the rabbinical exegetics of the East. Very characteristic of Syrian theology is a specific and particular method of scholarship which partially calls to mind the Talmud. Syrian theology was a "school" theology in the strict sense of the word. The guiding influence of the theological school is connected with the school at Nisibis, which very quickly reached its acme. Already about 535 Cassiodorus of Vivarium points out the school at Nisibis and the school at Alexandria as "model" Christian schools. The statutes of the school have come down to us from 496, but it is not difficult to identify in these statues the features of a more ancient and traditional system. The school at Nisibis was a typical Semitic school — most of all it reminds one of a Jewish rabbinical school, a "beth-hammidrash" First of all, it was not only a school but a dormitory as well. Everyone lives together, by cells, in the school house. Everyone forms a single "fraternity" composed of both older and younger students. Those who have finished the course —they are called "investigators" — remain in the dormitory. This was not a monastery, however. "Let whoever seeks a strict life," say the statutes, "go to a monastery or into the desert." The Scripture was, naturally, the subject taught. It was a three-year course. They began with the Old Testament and studied it all three years. Only in the third year was the New Testament studied as well. They read the text and copied it. Then came the exegesis. One of the teachers, "the pronunciation teacher," taught the Syrian masorthat is, vocalization of the text and the diacritical marks. Another, "the reading teacher," taught liturgical reading and singing — the "choirs together with the teacher." The head teacher — or "rabban" — was called the "Interpreter." In his teaching he was connected with the "school’s tradition." At first they considered the works of the Venerable Ephraem such a tradition but very soon it was Theodore of Mopsuestia who was chiefly recognized. He was considered the only authority in Nisibis. The Nisibisian "statutes" especially cautioned against "speculation" and "allegories."

At the end of the sixth century Genama became head of the school in Nisibis (about 572) and he attempted to replace Theodore by St. John Chrysostom. This provoked a stormy protest. In addition, he made use of allegory. The strict Nestorians considered him as a Manichee. His doctrine of inherited original sin seemed liked fatalism. With the support of the Persian authorities, Genama managed to hold on to the management of the school — he composed new statutes for it in 590, but half of the students had scattered. Other schools remained faithful to the tradition in other parts of Persia — and the monasteries remained faithful also to the "tradition" of Theodore.

The council of 585 strictly censured and forbade Genama’s "interpretations" and, in so doing, confirmed that the opinion of blessed mar-Theodore must be considered the sole and final criterion of truth in all questions. Thus Syrian theology consciously stopped at the fifth century. It shut itself off in its archaic school formulas which had shrivelled and stiffened with age. Creative energy hardly found an outlet in liturgical singing. There was no internal movement within "Nestorian" theology, nor could there be. The Nestorians repudiated the vital inquisitiveness of thought. In Syria Aristotle was studied a lot. The Syrians taught him and explained him. It was thanks to the Syrians that Aristotle was noticed by the Arabs and then, subsequently, crossed over to the medieval West. But Nestorian theology did not even come into contact with this Syrian Aristotelianism. There is a very characteristic article within the Nisibisian statutes which forbids the students to live with "physicians," "lest books of worldly wisdom be studied in the same place as books of holiness." It was precisely the "physicians" or naturalists who were studying Aristotle in Syria. The Nestorian theologians avoided speculation, but this did not save them from rationalism. They lapsed into rationalistic and legalistic thought. To a certain extent this was a return to archaic Judaeo-Christianity. Such is the historical dead end of Antiochene theology.

 

The Emergence of New Personalities:
Philoxenus and Severus.

Italy was now under the control of the Arian Germans while the Roman see remained staunchly Chalcedonian. German Arianism in the Latin West, Persian Nestorianism outside the eastern border, and the patriarchates of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem under the control of the Monophysite or anti-Chalcedonian Christians — such was the reality of the life of the Church at this time.

In this situation new personalities emerge. One such is Philoxenus of Hierapolis or Mabbug. Theophanes’ comments on Philoxenus are interesting. Theophanes claims that Xenaias, the Hellenized form of which became Philoxenus, was a Persian and a slave, that he had no claim to the priesthood before Peter the Fuller ordained him, that he was born at Tahal in the province of Beth-Garami, and that he had studied in Edessa and these studies resulted in Philoxenus1 rejection of the Antiochene school of theology.

Another emerging personality is that of Severus, who was to become the patriarch of Antioch from 512 until 518. Unlike Philoxenus, Severus was thoroughly Hellenized. The difference between Philoxenus and Severus represents the range of the Monophysite influence at the beginning of the sixth century. In this period one can also begin to discern what would become the Neo-Chalcedonian defense.

 

The Death of Patriarch Acacius and the Situation

Inherited by his Successors, Fravitta and Euphemius.

Peter Mongus and Fravitta.

Upon the death in 489 of Acacius, patriarch of Constan -tinople, his successor Fravitta sent out the usual encyclical of enthronement. Peter Mongus attempted to appease the numerous monks who wanted an outright condemnation of the Council of Chalcedon. The monks held substantial power in Egypt, despite the fact that they were "leaderless" — ακέφαλοι. Peter had previously attempted to appease these monks by circulating his sermons in which he himself had condemned Chalcedon. This did not appease them. They wanted an official, imperial condemnation. In his response to Fravitta’s encyclical Peter Mongus wrote that since the Henotikon anathematized Chalcedon, it would be proper for him to follow the example of his predecessor Acacius and to condemn the Council of Chalcedon also. Fravitta died shortly after his consecration and the letter from Peter Mongus fell into the hands of Fravitta’s successor, Euphemius, a strong Chalcedonian.

Patriarch Euphemius.

The populace at Constantinople was becoming increasingly Chalcedon but the imperial court still held back, still kept to the pro-Monophysite position. Euphemius rejected Peter Mongus’ proposal — moreover, he broke off communion with Peter. Both Euphemius and Peter engaged in vehement rhetoric against each other — Peter is reported to have said that he would deal with Euphemius as Cyril dealt with Nestorius. The death of Peter Mongus in 490 prevented any further development in this rift. Peter’s successors, Athanasius II and then John I, were primarily concerned with winning back their "dissidents" — αποσχισταί, with bringing the extreme Monophysites to a more moderate position, and with placing these “leaderless dissidents" under the control of the patriarchate of Alexandria. Athanasius II and John I therefore had little time to engage in controversy with other patriarchal sees. Imperial policy was to leave such a hotbed as Alexandria alone, not to stir up any additional trouble in that troublesome patriarchate. The controversy between the patriarchate of Alexandria and the monks continued but in an isolation from imperial policy or even concern. Imperial policy turned its attention to Antioch and other regions in the East.

Euphemius, Chalcedonian that he was, attempted to bring about a reconciliation with Rome. Here papal policy blundered again in its relations with the East, for Pope St. Felix III insisted that the schism could be resolved only if Patriarch Euphemius anathematized his predecessor Acacius. Such an action would have been counterproductive and Pope Felix should have realized the senselessness of his request. Even if the populace of Constantinople was becoming increasingly pro-Chalcedonian, what possible good could have resulted since the power resided with Zeno, with an emperor whose Henotikon had brought about a relative peace among his subjects? Why should Zeno risk this relative, if tentative, peace within the empire to reconcile Constantinople with a see that was in actuality outside imperial control at that time?

A new era was being ushered in from approximately 488 through 491. The death of Peter the Fuller took place in 488. It was followed by the death of Acacius in 489 and then of Acacius’ successor, Fravitta, in 490. Peter Mongus died in 490. Then in April of 491 Emperor Zeno died. The next year St. Felix III of Rome would die. The personalities were changing.

 

The Death of Emperor Zeno and
the Selection of Emperor Anastasius.

A contemporary account of the atmosphere in Constantinople on the death of Emperor Zeno is preserved in Constantine Porphyrogenitus’ De cerimoniis (1, 92). Zeno’s widow Ariadne, together with imperial officials, appeared in the Hippodrome to address the populace — her address was given by the magister a libellis. "In anticipation of your desire, we have ordered the most noble ministers, the sacred senate, together with the approval of the courageous armies, to choose a Christian and Roman Emperor who possesses every imperial virtue, who is not enslaved to money, and who is, as much as it is possible for a person, free from every human vice." According to the source, the populace shouted: "Ariadne Augusta, you conquer! Ο heavenly king, grant the world an emperor who is not greedy!" The speech of Ariadne continues: "So that the selection will be pure and pleasing to God, we have ordered the ministers and the senate, together with the harmony of the vote of the army, to conduct the election in the presence of the Gospels and in the presence of the patriarch. This procedure will be followed to prevent any influence of either friendship or hostility, of kinship or of any other personal motive so that the vote will be with clear conscience. Since the election is therefore a serious thing and concerns the well being of the empire, you must permit us a brief delay until the funeral ceremonies for Zeno, of pious memory, have been completed properly. Otherwise the election would be precipitous." The contemporary source quoted by Constantine then gives the response of the populace: "Long live the Augusta! Expel the thieving prefect of the city! May all be well in your time, Augusta, if no foreigner is imposed on us Romans!" Ariadne’s speech, read by the magister, then continues: "We have already done what you request. Before we came here, we appointed the illustrious Julian to the office of prefect." The people heartily approved the appointment.

Ariadne then left and the ministers held a council about the election. It was suggested that Ariadne select a candidate. She selected Anastasius, whom Zacharias calls a "decurio silentiarius" — a decurion silentiary. Anastasius, a civil servant of about sixty years, was well known in Constantinople especially for his generosity in almsgiving and in caring for orphans. His imperial function was in the department of finance where he performed ably — his greatest accomplishment was fixing the value of the copper follis to the gold coinage. But Patriarch Euphemius objected vigorously to Empress Ariadne’s choice — and with reason. Anastasius had already had encounters with Patriarch Euphemius. He had the most unusual habit of placing a chair in the cathedral where he was wont to give his own instruction in the faith to selected audiences. Patriarch Euphemius was so outraged by this practice that he obtained Zeno’s permission to expel Anastasius from the cathedral and to remove his chair of instruction. It appears that Anastasius’ theological views were most unorthodox — whether his views were the result of his mother having been a Manichaean and his uncle an Arian is not known. He himself was by character a religious enthusiast.

The objection of Patriarch Euphemius was overruled by Ariadne and the senate. Patriarch Euphemius was, however, able to insist that Anastasius sign a written profession of orthodoxy. This was accepted and the document was handed to Patriarch Euphemius After the coronation, the crowd shouted its approval. These shouts of the populace as recorded by a contemporary are interesting. "Rule as you have lived! You have lived in piety! Rule in piety! Restore the army! Rule like Marcian! Expel the informers!" The sources portray his character quite favorably -highly educated, intelligent, gentle but energetic, in control of his temper, generous and pious. A few weeks after his coronation Anastasius married Ariadne.

Emperor Anastasius’ priority was to subdue the Isaurians, to rid the empire of their influence. They had served their purpose — they had prevented the control of the empire by the Germanic Goths. Now it was time to remove them and their power. Indeed, the choice of Anastasius had alarmed the Isaurians who were expecting Longinus, Zeno’s brother, to become emperor. Anastasius found a pretext — a riot at the Hippodrome — to expel the Isaurians from Constantinople. He compelled Zeno’s brother Longinus to become a monk and exiled him to the Thebaid. The gentle Anastasius seized all Zeno’s property — even to the extreme of selling off Zeno’s imperial robes. The expelled Isaurians joined with their fellow Isaurians. They were defeated at Cotyaeum in Phrygia. Sporadic warfare was continued in the Isaurian mountains. Finally in 498 the mountain resistance was quelled. Anastasius fortunately finished off the Isaurians before the outbreak of a serious war with Persia from 502 until 505. The war with Persia resulted in the building of a large fortification at Dara which looked down into the Persian city of Nisibis and the construction of the huge walls in Thrace to protect Constantinople. Anastasius turned to Theodoric of Italy in 498, offering him the title of rex and returning to him the ornamenta palatii.

Anastasius and Ariadne were to rule the empire for twenty-seven years. Until 510 Anastasius’ religious policy was based on the Henotikon of Zeno. Evagrius Scholasticus tells us that Anastasius was a man of peace, a man interested in order in the empire, a man who wanted nothing to do with religious change or religious strife, whether it was pro or anti-Chalcedon. It was not difficult to discern that a clash was inevitable between Emperor Anastasius and Patriarch Euphemius. The latter had been preparing a theological assault on the patarch of Alexandria. Euphemius wrote to Pope Felix III of Rome vithout the emperor’s knowledge — he solicited the aid of Pop Felix against Alexandria. The patriarchs of Alexandria and Jerusalem were also intriguing against Euphemius — they accused himo the emperor of being a Nestorian. The emperor had reccered a copy of the letter that Euphemius had sent to Pope Felix. He was obviously concerned about the signed document viich Patriarch Euphemius had compelled him to sign before spporting his coronation, a document which was a declaration of orthodoxy. And, further, the emperor believed or wanted toielieve that Patriarch Euphemius was intriguing secretly with thlsaurians. In 492 a council took place in Constantinople whic reaffirmed the Henotikon and deposed Euphemius, exiling hit to a monastery in Pontus.

 

The Death of Pope Felix III and
the Papacy Under Pope Gelasius.

In Rome Pope Felix III ied in 492 and his successors, Gelasius I (492-496) and Anstasius II (496-498), had some interesting relations with the Eatern Church. The Liber pontificate claims that St. Gelasius, a very strong personality with a strong will, was "an African by birth. As archdeacon under Pope Felix III, it was Gelasius who wasthe dominant personality in the Roman Church and it was hewho drafted the letters of Pope Felix. St. Gelasius becomes knwn as the most significant Roman pope in the Acacian Schism. The eastern patriarchates viewed the Roman see during the Acacian Schism as overstepping its jurisdictional authority, as intrudng in the affairs of the eastern patriarchates. From the Roman perspective it was not reduced to such a simple problem of powe and authority. Rather, Rome was alarmed with the increasing iirusion of the emperor in ecclesiastical affairs, alarmed at whait viewed as caeraropapism. Rome had reason to be alarmedh , for the Henotikon of Emperor Zeno was precisely the imperial authorit dictating to the Churc— and this time the dictating was heresy,vas an abrogation in reality of the ecumenicity of the Council of Chalcedon and a rejection of the accepted Tome of Pope Leo the Great. Rome’s main concern was not merely with her prestige νithin the Church and not merely a reaction against the rejection c Pope Leo through the rejection of his Tome — it was far deeper thii a reaction to an insult. Rome saw the very life of the Church thnuened by Zeno’s Henotikon. When isolated as it was at the time an in essence under the control of the Arian Germans, the see of Rore reacted to heresy by putting forth its self-understanding as the see of primacy. The development of the legal foundations of papal authority had already been put forth by Leo the Great — Bolotov has written interestingly on this aspect of the papacy under Pope Leo. But it was Pope Gelasius who applied these principles — his letters read as though they are legal documents, legal briefs, which clearly put forth a position of papal supremacy, especially over secular authority. The historical significance of the letters of Gelasius were not only contemporary in their attitude toward the East. Rather, their prime historical significance resides in the fact of their historical influence on later generations in the Latin West. Pope Gelasius’ activity sparked what became known as the "Gelasian Renaissance" — his letters began to be collected in a series of canonical regulations. The attempts by the patriarchs of Constantinople, Fravitta and Euphemius, to restore relations with Rome and end the Acacian Schism were rejected — or rather were conditioned on the impossible request that the name of Patriarch Acacius be removed from the diptychs. Zeno’s successor, Emperor Anastasius, was as adamant as Zeno. However, Anastasius, on the occasion of the reception of a delegation from King Theodoric, used the opportunity to remind Gelasius that no letter had been received from him recognizing his enthronement. Gelasius’ response in 494 was firm.

"I implore your Holiness not to judge obligation to divine truth as arrogance. I trust that it will not be said of a Roman Emperor that he resented truth when it was brought to him. There are indeed, most august Emperor, two powers by which this world is mainly governed: the holy authority of the popes — auctoritas sacrata pontificwn — and the imperial power — regalis potestas. [Duo quippe sunt, imperator auguste, quibus principaliter mundus hie regitur: auctoritas sacra pontificum et regalis potestas] Of these the priestly authority is much more important because it must render an account at the divine judgment for the kings of men themselves. For you know, our most merciful son, that although you have the primary place of dignity over the human race, yet you must submit yourself faithfully to those who have authority of things divine and that you must look to them for the means of your salvation. You know that it is necessary for you, in those matters which concern the reception and sacred administration of the Sacraments, to be obedient to the authority of the Church rather than to control it. Thus, in such matters you must depend on ecclesiastical judgment instead of seeking to mold it to your will. In matters which relate to the administration of public discipline the bishops of the Church, knowing that the Empire has been entrusted to you by Divine means, are themselves obedient to your laws in order that in these purely material concerns opposing opinion may not seem to be voiced. I ask you, then, should you obey those to whom the administration of divine mysteries has been appointed? Thus, as there is great danger for the Popes in not saying what is necessary in matters of divine majesty, so there is no small danger for those who are recalcitrant in resistance — which God forbid! — at the time when they should be obedient. And if the hearts of the faithful should be submitted to all priests in general, who administer holy things in a correct manner, how much more must assent be given to him who presides over that See which the supreme Godhead itself willed to be pre-eminent over all priests, and which the pious judgment of the whole Church has honored ever since?"

The Acacian Schism differed from the numerous schisms of the past precisely because Rome considered it a total break, a complete breach of communion with the entire eastern churches — not just with Constantinople. At a Roman council in 494 or 495 under Pope Gelasius the depth of this broken communion is revealed. The former bishop of Cumae, Misenus, had been sent by Pope Felix III to Constantinople. There he entered into communion with Acacius. The recantation of Misenus reads that he rejects all heresy

"especially the Eutychian heresy along with its originator Eutyches and his follower Dioscorus, and those who succeeded him, and those who held communion with him, namely Timothy the Cat, Peter Mongus of Alexandria, Acacius of Constantinople, Peter the Fuller of Antioch, and all their accomplices and all those who communicate with them. All these he repudiates, condemns, and forever anathematizes, and all these and all like them he curses with horrible imprecations — horribiliter execrari — and promises that he will never have any sort of fellowship with such people, and that for the future he will be utterly separate from all of them."

After the recantation of Misenus, Pope Gelasius gave a lengthy speech to the council, concluding:

"In consideration of the fact that Misenus has, according to the rule, professed that he detests all heresies, and especially the Eutychian heresy, together with Eutyches, Dioscorus, Timothy the Cat, Peter of Alexandria, Acacius of Constantinople, and Peter of Antioch, and all their successors, and all those who follow and communicate with them, and that he strikes them with an eternal anathema, let him again partake of the grace of apostolic communion and of the episcopal dignity which he originally received by a Catholic consecration."

What follows is of historical importance, for it is the reaction of the bishops and priests at the council. The bishops rose and exclaimed fifteen times "O Christ, hear us! Long live Gelasius!" Twelve times they exclaimed "Lord Peter, preserve him!" Seven times they exclaimed "May he hold the see of Peter during the years of Peter!" — this was a reference to the tradition in Rome that St. Peter was Bishop of Rome for twenty-five years, a tradition quite unhistorical. And then, for the first time in recorded documentation, the linking of the bishop of Rome as the "Vicar of Christ" is mentioned. Seven times they exclaimed "We see you, who are the Vicar of Christ!"

It should be mentioned that there is no reference to papal infallibility in this letter and that notion of the "two authorities" had been raised in the past by Hosius to Constantius II, by St. Ambrose to both Valentinian II and Theodosius I, and by St. Augustine in his De civitate dei. But the entire attitude of Pope Gelasius, an attitude expressed in his many letters, was an irritant to the emperor. His terse style of writing had a penetrating and blistering effect. Gelasius did not even bother to announce his election to Constantinople. He wrote contemptuously to Euphemius, claiming that Euphemius belonged to an "estranged body." He characterized Acacius as a greater sinner than Eutyches precisely because Acacius "had known the truth" and yet associated with the "enemies of truth" — Acacius was a heretic by association. In Gelasius’ letter to his envoy in Constantinople, Faustus, he wrote "consortium damnatorum est damnatus Acacius" Some scholars have seen in this notion of "heresy by association" the African roots of Gelasius, the African influence of Tertullian, Cyprian, and Donatus. The fact remains, however, that the principle used by Gelasius is nothing more than a consistent and logical extension of the theological concept of heresy. Pope Gelasius’ contemptuous attitude to the patriarchal throne of Constantinople, which he reduced to its pre-Nicene position as a bishopric under Heraclea, would certainly not be encouraging to Constantinople — "an sedem apostolicam congruebat paroeciae Heraclensis ecclesiae, id est Constantinopolitani pontificis vel quorumlibet aliorum" This was essentially an undiplomatic and counterproductive way for Rome to express its rejection of the Twenty-Eighth Canon of Chalcedon or the reality which resulted from that canon. Not only did Gelasius belittle the see of Constantinople but he also humiliated the East in his letter to the bishops of Illyricum by disparagingly referring to them as Greeks who abound in heresies — "apud Graecos, quibus multas haereses abundare non dubium est." He is considered by many as the one who initiated the notion which would later be translated into the common Western form of address to the Byzantine Emperor — Imperator Graecorwn. To his credit it must be admitted that St. Gelasius acted in the Latin West with the same vigor he used against the East. He energetically fought against the remains of Pelagianism, especially in Dalmatia, and he used his authority and energy to extirpate the lingering paganism in Rome itself. He vigorously protested against the incipient Latin practice of withholding the cup from the laity in the reception of the Holy Eucharist, a practice he termed a "sacrilege." In a matter of four and one-half years Pope Gelasius had managed to deepen the rift between Constantinople and Rome.

 

The Death of Pope Gelasius and the Papacy Under Anastasius II.

Pope Gelasius died in 496 and was followed by Pope Anastasius II (496-498). With the support of the Roman senate, Pope Anastasius II began his brief pontificate by attempting to resolve the Acacian Schism. He dispatched papal legates to Constantinople to discuss the situation with Emperor Anastasius II. The Pope was ready to offer concessions — he would recognize all baptisms and ordinations performed by Acacius. The condition, however, was the removal of Acacius’ name from the diptychs. Whatever success the mission of the papal delegation might have had was undercut by a second delegation sent to Constantinople by King Theodoric, whose emissary Festus led Emperor Anastasius to believe that Rome might be willing to accept the Henotikon if the reference to the Council of Chalcedon were removed. In Constantinople negotiations were also opened between members Sketches in the History of Monophysitism 99 of the Roman delegation and representatives of the patriarch of Alexandria. The Alexandrians were also conciliatory. Instead of attacking Pope Leo’s Tome directly, the Alexandrians emphasized how it was prone to misunderstanding by the Nestorian heretics. The mutual accusations of heresy were really not justified — it was more a problem of language and interpretation. The Alexandrians put forth a confession of their faith, a confession based on the Henotikon. "The Only-Begotten Son of God was one whether in his miracles or indeed in his sufferings." The Alexandrians pointed out that the acceptance of St. Cyril’s Twelve Anathemas meant necessarily accepting Dioscorus, Timothy Aelurus, and Peter Mongus, for they had been the guardians of St. Cyril’s thought. The Pope must either prove a case against them or restore their names to the diptychs. In this way a reestablishment of communion could take place.

The policy of Pope Anastasius II had the support of the Roman senate and for a very important reason. The Romans could not feel secure under their Germanic Arian overlords. Theodoric might presently be conciliatory but the Romans remembered the policy of Huneric (477-484) and Guntamund (484-496), a policy which was openly hostile to the Catholics. And in Rome there always existed a pro-Byzantine or pro-imperial party. The existence of a pro-Byzantine and a pro-Italian faction in Rome was clearly exhibited after the death of Pope Anastasius II by a schism between the pro-Anastasian and the pro-Gelasian factions, the former represented by the archpriest Laurentius while the latter was represented by Pope Symmachus (498-514). However, the conciliatory plans of Pope Anastasius II ceased with his sudden death in 498, "struck dead by the divine will" according to the Liber pontificalis. Indeed, it was this legend in the Liber pontificalis which was responsible for spreading the notion of Pope Anastasius’ "apostasy," a legend which reached its acme when Dante placed Pope Anastasius in the sixth circle of the Inferno. Editorial comments in some of the editions of Dante which claim that there is confusion between a pope and a Byzantine emperor are erroneous. Dante writes:

On the edge of high bank

formed by a circle of broken rocks

we stood above a more cruel pack;

and here because of the horrible stench

which the deep abyss exhales

we approached behind the cover of a great tomb

on which I saw an inscription saying,

"I hold Anastasius, the pope,

whom Photinus drew from the straight path."

The Photinus to whom Dante refers is an historical person. The archbishop of Thessaloniki had sent the deacon Photinus to Rome where Pope Anastasius received him well. Photinus had been one of the more determined of the supporters of Acacius and this caused deep resentment on the part of the pro-Gelasian faction in Rome. Indeed, more than resentment — they separated from communion with Pope Anastasius. Dante’s facts are correct. That Dante places Pope Anastasius in the Inferno reveals how influential the pro-Gelasian faction was in its influence on future Italian political and religious thought.

 

The Papal Schism: Symmachus and Laurentius.

The sudden death of Pope Anastasius II brought on a contested papal election which led to bloodshed. Again the Romans had to deal with the Ostrogothic Theodoric, the master of Italy until 526. The pro-Gelasian faction elected the Sardinian deacon Symmachus (498-514) at the Lateran. The pro-Byzantine and pro-Anastasian faction elected the archpriest Laurentius at Mary Major. Both parties appealed to Theodoric who decided in favor of Symmachus for basic reasons — Symmachus had received the majority of votes, had been consecrated first, and was pro-Theodoric. Laurentius conceded and was appointed bishop of Nocera. But Laurentius1 faction was not to be easily stopped. They brought charges against Symmachus, charges of adultery and of squandering church estates. Bloodshed began again — priests were murdered, monasteries were burned, and nuns were abused. The Roman senate again called upon Theodoric, who called for a council to settle the dispute. After the policy of St. Gelasius, this scene in Rome indeed appears odd, for an heretical and "foreign" king convoked a council to decide a dispute between contenders for the papacy. Although it may appear odd, what took place was nothing more than restoration of external order. Theodoric, the German Arian, merely structured the situation so that a conflict could be resolved — he had nothing to do with theological decisions of the see of Rome. Theodoric summoned Symmachus to Ravenna for a second time but Symmachus, while en route to Ravenna, fled when he thought he detected a trap. Symmachus’ flight infuriated Theodoric, who immediately appointed Peter, bishop of Altinum to administer the property of the Roman Church.

Symmachus had agreed to appear before a council of Italian bishops summoned by Theodoric. The council was to take place in the Sessorian Palace. On route to the Sessorian Palace the papal party was attacked in the streets by the Laurentian faction. Symmachus returned to St. Peter’s and refused to be moved. The scheduled council finally took place in October of 501 under Symmachus, a council known as synodus palmaris — named after the building in which it took place. Here an extraordinary development occurred. Symmachus was acquitted without any investigation because it was claimed that a council could not pass judgment on a successor of St. Peter. Theodoric did not accept the results of the council and permitted the return to Rome of the anti-pope Laurentius. For the next four years Rome was the battleground of violence. The Laurentian faction managed to gain control of most of the churches in Rome — but not St. Peter’s. The struggle for the papacy entered the stage of a propaganda war with both sides writing pamphlets. In the Libellus apologeticus pro Synodo IV Romana [Mansi 8, 274] the deacon Ennodius, later to be bishop of Pavia until his death in 521, declared that the bishop of Rome is above every human court and responsible only to God. This very vindication was adopted by the sixth Roman council under Symmachus in 503. To justify the position taken at the council in 501 spurious historical precedents were created which resulted in the famous Symmachan Forgeries. Peace was finally restored in Rome through the efforts, strangely enough, of an Alexandrian deacon by the name of Dioscorus. It was he who efficaciously interceded with Theodoric to have the control of the churches in Rome returned to Symmachus. Gradually the Laurentian faction began to support Pope Symmachus. It was not until 506 that Pope Symmachus was able to clear himself. By that time his attitude towards Constantinople was not conciliatory — the Acacian Schism could be ended only by Constantinople’s recognition of the demands made by Rome.

 

Patriarch Flavian of Antioch
and the Struggle with Philoxenus.

Trouble broke out again in Antioch in 498. Flavian, formerly the apocrisiarius of the patriarch of Antioch in Constantinople, became patriarch of Antioch. He is described as a man of "feeble and vacillating character." At his election he was a declared Monophysite but he later changed sides and announced his defense of the Council of Chalcedon. The growing Monophysite party in Antioch was alarmed and quickly reacted. Philoxenus took charge of the opposition to Flavian, denouncing him as a Nestorian. Flavian responded by anathematizing Nestorius which led Philoxenus to demand that he anathematize not only Nestorius but also Theodore, Theodoret, and Ibas. The very raising of these three names together is interesting. Philoxenus is reported to have declared: "If you do not condemn these, you may anathematize Nestorius ten thousand times and still be a Nestorian." Flavian was forced by imperial pressure to anathematize Theodore, Theodoret, and Ibas. Philoxenus then demanded that Flavian condemn the Council of Chalcedon. He flatly refused and Philoxenus and his followers withdrew from communion with Flavian. Another schism in Antioch.

 

Patriarch Macedonius of Constantinople and his

Encounter with Philoxenus and Emperor Anastasius.

Philoxenus then demanded the same anathemas from Patriarch Elias of Jerusalem and Patriarch Macedonius of Constantinople. The new patriarch, Macedonius II (496-511), was the nephew of the patriarch Gennadius. Though Macedonius was a Chalce-donian, he signed the Henotikon. He now gave an evasive answer to Philoxenus which the monks of the East interpreted as a refusal. Elias of Jerusalem’s response is not known with certainty, for a document was circulated that was claimed to be his. The document essentially was a condemnation of Chalcedon. But it is not certain whether the document was authentic. If the document was authentic, there is a contradiction with Elias’ later behavior. In 512 he was exiled for refusing to communicate with Severus of Antioch. It is also claimed that among his last words he declared he would "accuse the emperor before the throne" of God. If the document was authentic, then Elias obviously had a change of mind.

Patriarch Macedonius vacillated initially but then his strength of character forced him to take a stand and he stood with Chalcedon. Emperor Anastasius came to view Macedonius as the obstacle to the restoration of peace — Macedonius’ fate became clear. The emperor had resolved to have him deposed. The new personage among the Monophysites and their most important theologian, Severus, brought charges against Macedonius, the most serious theologically was the accusation that Macedonius interpreted Scripture according to Nestorian exegetical tradition.

He was also accused of being responsible for the religious riots in Constantinople. One incident took place in St. Sophia itself. During the celebration of the Eucharistic liturgy the two factions within the choir shouted the rivaling versions of the Trisagion Hymn, the result of which was a physical brawl in the church. None of these accusations was able to sustain itself. Macedonius was then accused of immorality, a charge that was quite difficult to prove because Macedonius was a eunuch! It must be mentioned that the canons of the Church at this time prevented eunuchs from being ordained. And yet this charge was not brought against Macedonius. No evidence could be found that would allow for his deposition. Zealots from the Monophysite faction attempted to murder Macedonius in the street. Finally Emperor Anastasius simply ordered Macedonius to anathematize the Council of Chalcedon and the doctrine of "two natures." Macedonius responded by anathematizing everyone who did not accept Chalcedon and the doctrine of "two natures." With this bold and courageous act Macedonius sealed his fate. The emperor had him secretly arrested and exiled. Macedonius was replaced as patriarch of Constantinople by Timothy of Antioch (511-517), a Monophysite who introduced the altered version of the Trisagion Hymn into regular use in the liturgy at Constantinople and placed the names of the patriarchs of Alexandria in the diptychs.

 

Philoxenus’ Continued Struggle in Antioch.

With Macedonius removed from the patriarchate of Constantinople and replaced by Timothy, the Monophysites in Antioch took a bolder approach against Flavian, who, incidentally, had voiced criticism over the exile of Macedonius. At Sidon in 512 the Monophysites held a local synod to depose Patriarch Flavian. Philoxenus, the leader, had drawn up a list of seventy-seven anathemas which he demanded Flavian sign. One of the anathemas was against the Council of Chalcedon "and all its works." Philoxenus’ strategy, however, backfired. He frightened away the moderate element within his group and the council broke up without any resolution. Riots broke out in Antioch. Many of the rioters were Monophysite monks. Flavian, caving in to fear, agreed to anathematize Chalcedon and the "three names." But it was too late. His enemies were resolved now that no concession should save him. Philoxenus appealed to the emperor for an edict of deposition against Flavian. Before any response had arrived from the emperor, the imperial governor of Antioch suggested that Flavian should leave the city for his own safety and for "the sake of peace and order." No sooner was Flavian beyond the gates of Antioch than his opponents elected a new patriarch. It was none other than the most able man within the Monophysite movement, Severus. The emperor completely approved of the election of Severus.

 

Severus of Antioch.

It is not an exaggeration that Severus of Antioch (patriarch from 512 until 518) is one of the most important persons and the most important theologian of the non-Chalcedonians. Severus arrived in Constantinople in 508 with three hundred Palestinian monks to defend the theological interests of the non-Chalcedonians. It appears from our sources that Severus’ arrival in Constantinople was directed specifically against the work of Nephalius, a monk from Egypt who, once a Monophysite, had become a staunch supporter of the Council of Chalcedon. Zacharias refers to Nephalius as a "turbator populi" — an agitator of the populace.

Severus came from a distinguished Christian family. He was born in Sozopolis in Pisidia in approximately 465. At the time of the Council of Ephesus in 431 Severus1 grandfather was bishop of Sozopolis and was one of the bishops who had deposed Nestorius. Sozopolis, indeed, had been one of the central cities of the Apollinarian Synousiasts in the 370’s, a theological group who held that Christ’s body was "heavenly" or "from heaven." The Vita Severi by Zacharias informs us that Severus was in love with philosophy and deeply influenced by Libanius until he read St. Basil’s refutation of Libanius.

Along with his older brother, Severus went to Alexandria to study in preparation for a legal career. About 486 he left Alexandria for Berytus [Beirut] to study law under Leontius. It was there that Severus fell under the influence of monasticism. He apparently came into contact with the extremely influential Peter the Iberian — we know that Peter visited the city in 488. Severus, much later in life while in exile in Alexandria, mentions the influence that Peter the Iberian had on him. He claims that he came to understand the "evil" and "the impiety" of Chalcedon through Peter. "This communion I so hold, I so draw near, as I drew near in it with the highest assurance and a fixed mind, when our holy father Peter of Iberia was offering and was performing the rational sacrifice." Severus accepted baptism, ruled out a profession in law in favor of a life of monasticism, and went to Jerusalem. Athanasius Scriptor, the author of the Ethiopian Vita Seven, tells us that Severus stayed at the monastery of Romanus near Eleutheropolis, a monastery which was strongly anti-Chalcedonian. He thereafter spent time at Peter’s monastery in Maiuma. Severus was ordained and then established his own monastery near Maiuma. He now had dedicated all his learning and energy to the anti-Chalcedonian cause.

Two Lives of Severus are extant in Syriac, although they were originally written in Greek — one by Zacharias [Scholasticus] which was written while Severus was patriarch of Antioch; the other by John, abbot of the monastery of Beith-Aphthonia in Syria. Zacharias’ Vita conveys a fascinating portrayal of the early and student years of Severus. The main reason for such concentration on Severus’ student years was to answer the accusation that Severus was at heart a philosopher, virtually a pagan, and that Severus’ interest in Christianity was purely intellectual, that during his life in Alexandria and in Berytus Severus had shown no serious interest in the Christian faith.

In the 490’s the Chalcedonians were in the majority in Palestine — this was mainly the result of the influence of Patriarch Elias (494-516) and Sabas. The latter had been responsible for the conversion of Saracen tribes living on the eastern borders of Palestine. Severus refused to be in communion with them.

In Constantinople Severus wrote against the Eutychians and the Apollinarians. The Council of Chalcedon had had one beneficial effect on the non-Chalcedonians — it revealed to them that Apollinarius and Eutyches, and any theological tendency in that direction, failed to explain adequately the mystery of salvation. The effect was to bring serious theologians such as Severus, Philoxenus, and Peter the Iberian to reject the extremist faction of the Monophysite faction. Severus concentrated on interpreting the theology of St. Cyril, especially in his important Philalethes. The most interesting portrayal of the personality of Severus comes from his letters, and his theology is seen more vividly through his sermons than through his theological works. For example, in his Sermon on Epiphany in 516 Severus exclaims:

"Let us not accept the miracles so as to destroy and suppress the flesh, nor the human actions and voluntary poverty to deny and diminish the divinity. Let us return this semi-heritage to those who are man-worshippers or Docetists and who in their malevolence and impiety cause division. As for us, we move along the middle of the royal road, turning our face away from the tortuous sins on one side or the other, and knowing that he who lives on the heights and dwells by nature in grandeur is worthy of the God who ‘emptied himself to become the author of our salvation."

The Monophysites appeared to be triumphant. Yet there was an uneasiness felt by Emperor Anastasius, for a pro-Chalcedonian sentiment was increasing precisely where it mattered most politically and militarily — the provinces of Europe, especially Thrace. The commander of the military forces in Thrace happened to be the godson of the deposed Flavian — Vitalian the Goth. Not long after Severus had been consecrated patriarch of Antioch, Vitalian the Goth revolted.

 

The Revolt of Vitalian the Goth.

In addition to his protest on behalf of his troops who had been allegedly denied provisions by Hypatius, Vitalian the Goth revolted for religious reasons. He claimed to represent the pro-Chalcedonians who were infuriated over the new form of the Trisagion Hymn. Moreover, Vitalian wanted to rectify the deposition of both Flavian and Macedonius. In his first assault on Constantinople Vitalian occupied the suburbs. Emperor Anastasius immediately sent out the distinguished officer, Patricius, to speak with Vitalian who clearly mentioned the two reasons for his revolt: to rectify the injustice of Hypatius towards his troops and to obtain a commitment to retain the orthodox creed. Vitalian was invited to enter the city to discuss the matter with the emperor but he wisely declined. Instead, he sent his officers to meet with Anastasius, who bribed them with gifts and promised them everything they wanted, including a settlement of the religious questions based on the position of the Church of Rome. When his officers returned, Vitalian had little option but to withdraw his troops. Anastasius replaced Hypatius with an experienced officer named Cyril, who at once marched toward the area to which Vitalian had withdrawn. Suspecting that Cyril had been ordered to kill him, Vitalian was prepared and struck first, killing Cyril. After achieving many victories over the imperial forces of Anastasius and seizing approximately two hundred vessels in the ports of Thrace, Vitalian appeared again in the suburbs of Constantinople. The emperor again sent out envoys to negotiate with Vitalian. This time Vitalian extracted a serious commitment — the restoration of peace in the Church was to be established by the convocation of an ecumenical council which was to be held in Heraclea in the following year. Vitalian made certain that the Church of Rome would be represented and it was agreed that both he and the emperor would communicate with Pope Hormisdas (514-523). The Monophysite or non-Chalcedonian control over the eastern churches in essence depended on the emperor, who was in 514 in his late seventies.

 

Negotiations Between Pope Hormisdas
and Emperor Anastasius.

Letters with Pope Hormisdas were actually exchanged. The date for the council was set for the first of July in 515. It did not take place. Emperor Anastasius met an inflexible negotiator in Pope Hormisdas. A papal delegation was sent to Constantinople — Ennodius of Pavia was one of the delegates — with precise instructions from Pope Hormisdas on how to deal with the emperor’s proposal for a council, so precisely that Pope Hormisdas wrote the entire script from which they were not to deviate. The previous experience of sending papal legates, as with the case of Misenus, was not to be repeated. Although the terms would be unacceptable to the emperor, the Acacian Schism would be resolved four years later precisely on the grounds laid down by Pope Hormisdas in 515. The council must recognize unequivocally the Council of Chalcedon and the Tome of Pope Leo as the norm of orthodoxy; the emperor’s letter requesting the signatures of the bishops must state this condition without qualification; all bishops must make a formal profession of orthodoxy in their churches and must also condemn by name the leaders of Monophysitism; the bishops must, in the presence of witnesses, sign a formula containing a definition of faith drawn up by papal notaries; the cases of exiled bishops must be examined anew by the Roman see; and those bishops accused of persecuting the orthodox would be judged by the Pope.

Pope Hormisdas was ready to come to Constantinople if his presence was deemed necessary. But the emperor began to temporize and attempted to stir up the Roman senate against Pope Hormisdas. The legates returned with nothing accomplished. Pope Hormisdas put the matter on hold but, meanwhile, pro-Chalcedonians were contacting the Roman see — forty Illyrian bishops appealed to Rome for reconciliation. Two years later another resolution was attempted. This time Pope Hormisdas made his terms more difficult for Constantinople. In his Letter 11 Pope Hormisdas wrote that, in addition to the terms previously laid down, the new terms were that everything ever written by Pope Leo on the faith must be accepted as authoritative, that not only the name of Acacius but also the names of Euphemius, Macedonius, and "all those vho had died out of Catholic communion" must be anathematzed. Emperor Anastasius rejected the proposed solution. During ths time the Monophysite factions, still having the support of the enperor, were able to inflict some suffering on the pro-Chalcedonims, especially in the more eastern areas. At this point, however, Emperor Anastasius died. The next emperor was to be the orthodo: Prefect of the Praetorian Guard, Justin I.

 

The Accession to the Throne of Justin I and Justinian I.

Emperor Anastasius died inearly July in 518 with no children. Justin, the Macedonian peasait who rose to his high military position, was chosen Emperor Justin I (518-527) and immediately brought his nephew, Justinian (518-565), into the imperial government — it was Justinian who was responsible for most of the policy even during he reign of his uncle exclusive of the military policy. An abrupt change in ecclesiastical policy was about to take place. Only a few weeks after the accession of Justin and Justinian a scene took place at Hagia Sophia, the details of which are related in Mansi 8, 1057 ff.

The Chalcedonian Reaction in Constantinople.

The church was packed for a Saturday evening service, packed with zealots from the Qalcedonian party, both monks and laity. The patriarch, John of Cappadocia, was met with shouts from the congregation. "Recogrize the four councils! Long live the Emperor! Expel Severus the Nanichee! Long live the Patriarch! Cast out the new Judas! St. Wary is Theotokos! He who denies this is a Manichee!" The patriach asked for silence so the service could be performed but the shoits continued. "You shall not leave until you have anathematized Severus and recognized the councils!" Patriarch John, who had signed the Henotikon, was finally forced to proclaim the four councils from the ambo. But this did not satisfy the congregition. "Anathematize Severus! You shall not come down until you have anathematized that heretic! Unless we have an answer, we will stay here all night!" The patriarch, in a state of panic ai the source relates, consulted with the other bishops who were present at the service. The patriarch finally proclaimed that "everyone knows that Severus has separated himself from the Church and, therefore, since he is condemned by the canons, of course he is anathema."

Those orchestrating the demonstration were not content to let the matter rest here. The service was completed but the next day the liturgy was interrupted by similar shouts. "Bring back those exiled! Destroy the bones of Nestorius and Eutyches! Cast out the Manichees! Cast out both Stephens! Expel Severus, the Judas! St. Mary is Theotokos! Anathema to all who deny it!" Once again the patriarch proclaimed adherence to the Council of Chalcedon but the congregation would not permit the service to continue until the diptychs were altered, until the name of Severus was removed. The patriarch finally scratched out the name of Severus from the diptychs and announced this to the congregation. For more than an hour commotion continued in the church. Finally, during a pause from the congregation, ostensibly from exhaustion, one of the clerics began to sing the Trisagion and the choir joined in. The remainder of the service then continued in an orderly manner. The patriarch explained the event to the other patriarchs by writing that the action of the congregation was obviously "divinely inspired." John of Jerusalem replied that he rejoiced in the anathema of Severus.

The Chalcedonian Reaction in Antioch.

The Chalcedonians in Antioch were also active. They wrote to the patriarch of Constantinople to petition the emperor to remove Severus. "He is a wolf, not a shepherd, a heretic and murderer, who turns Jews loose on the faithful and massacres them. Did we not see their bodies lying on the roads?" Some monks accused Severus of every imaginable crime and sin. Severus was aware of what was taking place. He was not overly surprised by the volte-face of John of Jerusalem, for whom he never had much respect. In one of his letters Severus writes that the only reason John was made patriarch of Jerusalem was because of his "unstable" character.

Justinian’s Negotiations with Pope Hormisdas.

The Chalcedonian zealots had to wait, for Justinian’s priority was to resolve the schism with Rome. Justinian had already exchanged letters with Pope Hormisdas, clearly indicating to the Pope what his intentions were. Pope Hormisdas replied (Letter 28) that Justinian knew what the terms were. "Reconciliation is desired, of course, but — on terms. What my terms are, you know, for they were written down a year ago and will not change." In his letter Justinian, who also sought a reconciliation with the non-Chalcedonians, wrote: "We accept Chalcedon. We honor the memory of Leo. We read your name in the diptychs. Is that not enough?" Pope Hormisdas was inflexible. Either Acacius was to be condemned or there would be no reunion. Justinian was not in a position to negotiate because his goal was the reconquest of Italy, a goal that would be sorely difficult to realize without the support of the Bishop of Rome. Hormisdas, on the other hand, had nothing to lose because Theodoric’s rule was tolerant and his position was stable as pope. Moreover, there was always the possibility that a reunion with the emperor could bring at some future date more theological heresy into the Church, a fact of which Hormisdas was well aware. At this juncture the tolerant and stable rule under the Germanic Arians seemed preferable to union with the patriarchal sees under imperial rule precisely because of the theological turmoil in the East and because of the unpredictability of the orthodoxy of the emperors. A new emperor could mean a change in theological perspective.

Justinian wrote Hormisdas again, assuring him he would do everything in his power to meet the demands of the pope. He invited Hormisdas to Constantinople. Hormisdas declined but sent a delegation of five — the bishops Germanus and John; the priest Blandus; and two deacons, Felix and Dioscorus. The power of the delegation seems to have rested with the deacon Dioscorus, for it is he who corresponds with Hormisdas. The instructions given to these five state that they were not to negotiate. Rather, they were there to present the terms. Hormisdas was only willing to concede on one issue and that was not to condemn openly Macedonius and Euphemius if their names were removed from the diptychs. Pope Hormisdas’ letter to John, patriarch of Constantinople, was direct. "Do not attempt to defend condemned men like Acacius. Rather, remove yourself from all contact with heresy by anathematizing both him and his successors."

The Roman delegation arrived in Constantinople in March of 519 to a bountiful reception. Justinian, his generals, and the senate met the delegates ten miles from the city and escorted them into the city. The patriarch John accepted the Roman demands but, only after some discussion, signed the Libellus Hormisdae in the presence of the emperor, the senate, and the papal legates. It should be mentioned that Patriarch John was the first bishop of Constantinople to use the title of "Ecumenical Patriarch," a fact which Rome ignored at this time.

The Libellus Hormisdae contained statements that no bishop of the East had ever previously signed.The words are the words of the Bishop of Rome but he requires that the bishops of the East sign them. The "formula," as it was signed by Patriarch John, was as follows in its most significant sections.

"The first point of salvation is that we should keep the rule of right faith and in no way deviate from the tradition of the Fathers. For it is not possible to bypass the determination of our Lord Jesus Christ who said, ‘Thou art Peter and on this rock I will build my Church.’ These words are proven by their effects, for in the apostolic see the Catholic religion is always kept inviolable. Desiring, therefore, not to fall from this faith, and following in all things the ordinances of the Fathers, we anathematize all heresies, but especially the heretic Nestorius … and, together with him, we anathematize Eutyches and Dioscorus … who were condemned in the holy Council of Chalcedon, which we venerate and follow and embrace ... we anathematize Timothy the parricide, surnamed the Cat, and likewise condemning his disciple and follower in all things, Peter [Mongus] of Alexandria, we likewise anathematize Acacius, formerly Bishop of Constantinople, who became their accomplice and follower, and those, moreover, who persevere in their communion and fellowship, for if any one embraces the communion of these persons, he falls under a similar judgment of condemnation with them. In like manner we also condemn and anathematize Peter of Antioch with his followers and with all those who have been mentioned above [this is the clause modified by the papal legates so John would not have to anathematize Euphemius and Macedonius]. Wherefore we approve and embrace all the epistles of blessed Leo, Pope of the city of Rome, which he wrote concerning the right faith. On which account, as we have said before, following in all things the apostolic see, we preach all things which have been declared by her deceased. And consequently I hope that I shall be in one communion with you, the communion which the apostolic see preaches, in which is the whole and perfect solidarity of the Christian religion, promising for the future that at the celebration of the holy mysteries there shall be no mention made of the names of those who have been separated from the communion of the Catholic Church; that is, of those who do not agree in all things with the apostolic see…"

Before signing this John insisted on prefacing it, after the usual exchange of brotherly greetings, with: "When I received your letter, I rejoiced at the spiritual love of your holiness because you are seeking to unite the most holy churches of God according to the ancient tradition of the Fathers, and in the spirit of Christ you are hastening to drive away those who have been tearing the rational flock. Know, then, most holy one, that... I also, loving peace, renounce all the heretics repudiated by you, for I hold the most holy churches of your elder and of our new Rome to be one Church, and I define that see of the Apostle Peter and this of the imperial city to be one see." John then expresses his complete agreement to everything that was done at the Four Ecumenical Councils and denounces all those who have disturbed these councils. It is then that he adopts and makes his own the words of the papal formula. In this preface John managed to modify somewhat the claims of the Roman see, for by identifying the old and new Rome he in essence allowed the see of Constantinople to share in the privileges which in the Libellus Hormisdae were reserved for die see of Rome.

In the Libellus Hormisdae there was a condemnation of Acacius and his successors and also of emperors Zeno and Anastasius. It was, however, difficult for John to persuade the Pontic and Asian themes to accept all the demands — they were especially sensitive about condemning those who had died, an issue which will be raised again at the Fifth Ecumenical Council concerning the posthumous condemnation of Theodore, Theodoret, and Ibas. Justinian explained this situation to Hormisdas in a letter. "A considerable part of the Eastern bishops could not be compelled, even by the use of fire and sword, to condemn the names of the bishops who died after Acacius." Epiphanius had succeeded John as patriarch of Constantinople and he also wrote about the same situation. "Very many of the holy bishops of Pontus and Asia and, above all, those referred to as of the Orient, found it to be difficult and even impossible to expunge the names of their former bishops … they were prepared to brave any danger rather than commit such a deed." The Emperor Justin also wrote on the same subject and mentions "the threats and persuasions" employed to induce the clergy and laity of these dioceses to agree to the removal of the names. But they, he writes, "esteem life harder than death, if they should condemn those, when dead, whose life, when they were alive, was the glory of their people." Justin then urges the Pope to soften his demands "in order to unite everywhere the venerable churches, and especially the Church of Jerusalem, on which church all bestow their good will, as being the mother of the Christian name, so that no one dares to separate himself from that church." In his response to the emperor the pope urges the emperor to use force to compel union and uniformity. The pope also wrote to Patriarch Epiphanius and empowered him to act on his behalf in the East — whoever was admitted to communion with the Church of Constantinople was to be considered in communion with the Church of Rome. The pope inserted a brief declaration of faith in which there is no mention of the prerogatives of the see of Rome. What in actuality transpired was that in the end the pope did not press the claims for his see which he had previously made and left the matter in the hands of Epiphanius.

The Roman see was, as it were, incapable of understanding a complexity of the theological controversy. There were many Chalcedonians in the East who also accepted the belief that "One of the Holy Trinity suffered in the flesh," a belief that was in accordance with St. Cyril’s Twelfth Anathema that "God the Logos suffered in the flesh." This theological position, known as the "Theopaschite Formula" was completely consistent with the essence of the definition of faith as given at the Council of Chalcedon. This formula did not contain the Monophysite "who was crucified for us." This theological position revealed the incipient doctrine of "enhypostasis" a theological perspective that seemed to baffle Rome. There was discussion about this in Constantinople even before the papal legates arrived, a fact we know from Dioscorus’ correspondence with Pope Hormisdas. The monks took an active role in this theological position, especially the Scythian monks. The acceptance of the Theopaschite Formula included a full acceptance of the humanity, of the human nature, of Christ, without in any way implying that the human nature had its own hypostasis, its own person. One person, the Divine Logos, who was the possessor of two natures — of the Divine nature from eternity; of the human nature from conception. This one Divine Person, the center of union and unity in Jesus Christ, experienced the life of Divine nature and the life of the human nature. The Eternal Divine Person who became man experienced man’s suffering. From June of 519 on Pope Hormisdas had been hearing troublesome things about the Scythian monks who held this view. In his correspondence with Pope Hormisdas Dioscorus referred to them as being "enflamed by the devil," as opponents of the "prayers of all Christians," and as being led by a "false abbot," Maxentius. Dioscorus also related that they were anti-Roman, which seems to be accurate. Several discussions took place between these monks and the papal legates, discussions ordered to take place by Justinian. Nothing was resolved at these discussions. Finally Maxentius left with a group of his monks for Rome in the summer of 519, taking with them a letter that outlined the contemporary theological thought in Constantinople. In July of 519 Justinian warned Pope Hormisdas in a letter that union and peace would not occur without a quick and favorable response to the monks. It is significant that Pope Hormisdas at first received Maxentius’ Libellus and approved of it "before the witness of the bishops, laity, and senate of Rome." He then had second thoughts and finally rejected it and the Theopaschite Formula — it seems not so much for theological reasons as for the simple reason that it seemed "new." In Constantinople the papal legates were revealing their lack of familiarity with theological doctrine. They were also tactless and became quite unpopular. Moreover, and most importantly, they were perceived as representatives of a "foreign theology." Here again one senses the influence of Pope Leo’s Tome and his inability to set forth a notion and definition of person. Here the tragedy of Chalcedon and its incompleteness is laid bare.

Pope Hormisdas received the letter of John and one from Justinian relatively late. By the time Hormisdas responded in July of 519 he wrote of an "abominable sedition" inspired by the bishop of Thessaloniki, Dorotheus It was clear to Hormisdas that even Constantinople’s acceptance of his terms did not mean that other cities within the empire would follow. He was primarily concerned about Alexandria and Antioch. Justin suggested that Antioch be handled first and urged the position of patriarch of Antioch on Dioscorus, the Roman deacon. Hormisdas was opposed to the idea because he had Dioscorus in mind for the see of Alexandria. "Antioch," Hormisdas wrote, "would be a completely new area for you, but Alexandria you know from the past and you would be exactly the person to bring those people to order." Nothing came of this situation with Alexandria, for Justin was not willing to risk an Egyptian rebellion. Antioch presented a different situation.

 

The Imperial Edict Compelling Acceptance
of Chalcedon and the Arrest Order for Severus.

An imperial edict was drawn up which specifically omitted Egypt. In this edict to the "orient" it was decreed that all bishops must accept Chalcedon or give up their sees. The imperial authorities obviously realized what Severus’ character was like, for it issued an order for his arrest — he was obviously not the type of person to change his theological positions at imperial command. The arrest order was entrusted to Vitalian, the former leader of the revolts against Anastasius and now the comes orientis. The Chronicon Edessenum speaks of a "purge" in Antioch in 518-519, a "purge" against the anti-Chalcedonians. Because of Vitalian’s special relationship with Flavian, Vitalian harbored hatred for Severus. Vitalian, however, was murdered before he could execute his order. Severus fled to Egypt along with his friend Julian of Halicarnassus. Philoxenus was caught and sentenced to exile in Gangra.

The see of Antioch was considered vacant. All churches were "confiscated" or appropriated for the use of those who accepted Chalcedon. Paul, a "presbyter" of Constantinople and known historically as Paul the Jew, was elevated to the patriarchal see of Antioch. Constantinople attempted to consecrate Paul in the imperial city but the papal legates opposed it, urging that he should be consecrated in Antioch itself "in accordance with ancient tradition" and to avoid a repeat of the result of a former consecration in Constantinople of a bishop for the Antiochene see. The sources claim that his cruelty to the Monophysites in Edessa made him infamous — monks were put to death if they refused to conform. Philoxenus in one of his letters claims that Paul was resisted strongly and that the "people" cried out for his martyrdom. Accusations of a moral nature were made against Paul, forcing either his resignation or deposition. He was followed by Euphrasius, who was, according to Monophysite sources, a "mild" and "generous" man — pro-Chalcedonian sources refer to him as a "weakling." He held the bishopric for five years during which peace returned to the area. It is reported in the sources that he and "the wicked Aesculapius" perished in the earthquake of 526. Euphrasius’ successor, Ephraem of Amida, had been the comes orientis previous to his consecration. He distinguished himself in the position of civil service with relief work after the earthquake. It is claimed that his consecration was the reward for his diligent work as a civil servant. Justinian had decided to apply more force against these anti-Chalcedonian monks and the reliable Ephraem was quite willing to help — he renewed the policy of Paul.

The claim by Michael the Syrian in his Chronicle (9, 13) that the entire reign of Justin was one of persecution is not such an exaggeration. The persecution was primarily directed against the anti-Chalcedonian monks and their communities — especially in Syria in the areas where Syriac was the language of the Church. Philoxenus realized that the final separation had come. Any attempt to reinterpret the Henotikon in Chalcedonian terms was nothing more than an attempt to restore the "impure doctrine of Nestorius." Any question of intercommunion with the Chalcedonians was out of the question. In his Confession of Faith, written before he died in 523, Philoxenus wrote that "a curse was upon that council and on all who agreed with it" — an eternal curse.

At the end of the reign of Justin I it is claimed that the edict proclaiming adherence to the Council of Chalcedon was obeyed — exclusive of Egypt, of course, where no serious attempt was made. Approximately fifty-five bishops refused and these were either deposed or exiled. The anti-Chalcedonian monks either fled to Egypt or endured persecution. The laity was a different matter. There is an interesting revelation in the Vita of John Tella. The majority in his congregation believed in obedience to imperial law, yet they did not accept Chalcedon — for the time being Chalcedon must be accepted. Hence, Justin and Justinian may have been able to have imposed an external order of Chalcedonian support but it could not truly evaluate the sentiments of the populace, a populace intimidated by the possibility of persecution if they acted.

 

John of Tella.

Opposition was, however, still alive in the work of John of Tella, a monk and Monophysite zealot. He had been a monk from a very early age — to the chagrin of his mother. He remained in a cell with no interest in accepting any clerical position — several were offered to him. His biographer relates that John was warned in a vision that the day would come when the Church would need bishops "who will suffer and who will not be moved by either threat or bribe." After this vision John accepted ordination. His biographer also stresses his excessive gift of tears. When Severus fled to Egypt, he appointed John of Tella as his representative. John did not disappoint Severus, for he travelled around the provinces in rags organizing the non-Chalcedonians. At one point he had as many as eight co-workers. Gradually, however, they were all captured — but not John, who had gained the sympathy of both the country people and the officials. Those bishops who had accepted Chalcedon at the order of the imperial edict and who were not at heart Chalcedonians welcomed the arrival of John of Tella. These bishops refused to ordain anyone in a non-Chalcedonian faith, but they allowed John of Tella to ordain whomever he pleased.

From the imperial perspective the external order revealed that the only Monophysite bishops were in Egypt, in Persia, or hidden away in some of the far eastern monasteries. It appeared as though the imperial edict had stopped the proliferation of Monophysite ordinations. But that was not the true reflection of reality, for there were Monophysite priests in most places and numerous men who desired that ordination which had been prohibited by imperial law. An "underground" Church had come into existence and was to increase surreptitiously. The activity of John of Tella finally became known to the imperial authorities. John was able to negotiate a "safe conduct" assurance from the emperor and, under that condition, he appeared in Constantinople for an audience with the emperor. He was requested to cease and desist from his activity, to which request John flatly refused — his obedience, he exclaimed, was to God, not to the emperor.

 

Persecution of non-Chalcedonians in Edessa.

The general imperial policy was to wait until a bishopric became vacant and then fill that spot with a pro-Chalcedonian. Edessa was an example. It is claimed that the bishop died out of shame for accepting Chalcedon. A pro-Chalcedonian, Aesculapius, was quickly nominated and immediately unleashed a severe persecution on the anti-Chalcedonians, forcing "stylites" down from their pillars and expelling monks by calling on the force of the imperial military. The monks of approximately ten neighboring monasteries refused to commune with the bishop or to attend his services during the Christmas Lent. By Christmas only one monastery still had monks — and that one had only ten monks remaining. The monks, the sources relate, fled into the desert, there supporting themselves for six years until Theodora returned them to their monasteries.

In 537 Ephraem, the bishop of Edessa, was successful in catching John Telia — with the help of the Persians who were to receive a reward. The Persians were able to track John down, found him in a hermit’s cave, and brought him to Nisibis. The reward offered by Ephraem was slow in coming and during the wait John and his Persian guards became friendly. Indeed, the Persians were surprised that the man they had expended so much energy to track down was no more than a religious monk. The Persians could understand John’s lament that he was persecuted only because he had refused to change his religion at the command of die emperor. Moreover, the Persians offered to release him for a fee — but for much less than what Ephraem had offered. John had no access to money. When the reward finally came from Ephraem, the Persians felt it their duty to surrender John in accordance with the agreement. John was taken across the border to Dara where John and Ephraem entered theological discussions which resolved nothing. John was later brought to Antioch and confined in a monastery there — with four other monks in his cell, a situation which was not all that ominous. However, two of the monks were hand picked Chalcedonians, one of whom was a known persecutor. Theologically John held that "Christ was completely with the Father, as God, and completely with his mother, as man," that there was a union of the natures, a union that was neither "confused" nor "changed." He’rejected Eutyches totally. The Lord was "of one nature which became Incarnate without change" and the Lord was like us "in all things except sin." When he professed that the there is "an ineffable and incomprehensible union of two" natures, that the Lord is perfect God and perfect Man, his opponents thought he had recanted. "He has joined us. He has renounced his heresy," his opponents declared. On hearing this, the sources claim that John became indignant, declaring: "God forbid that I should abandon St. Cyril and … bring shame upon the Church!" Yet the rumor was quickly spread that John had recanted. Ephraem came in person to receive him back in the faith, only to be stunned when he encountered John, who declared: "If Severus, my patriarch, were to confess two natures after the union, I would anathematize him." This entire episode is a mirrored image of the entire controversy and imprecision of the language used by both sides. This tragedy led to nothing but struggle, controversy, and suffering for the next centuries. John died in 538, "praying for the peace of the Church and for those who had persecuted him."

Persecution was real, yet it was limited and sporadic. The very policy of Ephraem gives an insight into the actual state of affairs. His imperial orders were to bring about conformity to Chalcedon, and for this purpose the power of the empire was placed at his disposal. He had the power and authority to break up monasteries, to depose bishops, to exile recalcitrants, and to replace anti-Chalcedonian civil servants. But there was, it appears, a certain boundary beyond which he was not to tread — there was no official policy of a deliberate infliction of death, despite the aberrations that took place. Moreover, two places of refuge existed — Egypt and Constantinople itself, even the special monastic arrangement in the imperial palace itself, an arrangement provided by Theodora. Exile in Egypt was in a real sense a "coming home," a place where a Monophysite could live, breathe, and work.

 

Severus’ Activity in Exile.

In exile in Egypt Severus was extremely active. Initially Severus’ perspective was depressed, bleak. But his mood changed. A "Standing Council of Bishops" was established in Alexandria, a council which kept abreast of all that was taking place elsewhere in the empire, a council that continued to exhort and encourage the anti-Chalcedonians to remain firm. Severus continued to give instructions for his diocese from Alexandria, instructions which concerned not only general exhortations or general policy but also detailed specifics on individual cases brought to his attention. His letters are filled with his response to the life of the Church. He expressed himself quite frankly when he heard that Rome had rejected the Theopaschite Formula, for Severus’ theological thought was more sophisticated than that at Rome and Severus knew that Rome would never understand the difference between Divine essence and the Divine hypostases. Severus was not anti-Roman. His objection to the Council of Chalcedon was theological, not ecclesiastical nor political. Indeed, he often quotes Pope Julius and refers to him as the "spiritual and unshakable tower of the Church of the Romans." His concern was that the definition of faith at the Council of Chalcedon nowhere mentioned "the One Incarnate Nature of the Divine Logos," nowhere mentioned the "hypostatic union." Rather, Chalcedon, in his view, had taken its doctrine of "in two natures, perfect, undivided and unconfused" directly from Nestorius. For Severus, after the Incarnation there was "one nature out of two" and the very fact that Chalcedon did not include this doctrine rendered it and Pope Leo’s Tome blasphemous. How could Leo believe that the Incarnate Logos could die "in two natures?" Which nature had been nailed to the cross? The doctrine of "two natures" after the Incarnation was what made Leo a "blasphemer" and a "pillar of heterodoxy." Severus considered Leo’s Tome "Jewish." One of his most penetrating attacks on Leo’s Tome is in his Letter to Count Oecumenius. Severus was no instigator against the empire for the sake of regional ethnicism. His letters portray him as one who had respect for the emperor and loyalty to the empire. He was a sophisticated cosmopolitan. He was not antagonistic towards Rome or its primacy. He was theologically opposed to Pope Leo’s Tome and the Council of Chalcedon because he believed they were the vehicles of heresy. Severus nourished himself on the works of St. Athanasius, the Cappadocians, and St. Cyril of Alexandria.

 

The Controversy Between Severus
and Julian of Halicarnassus.

Severus’ friend, Julian of Halicarnassus, fled with him to Egypt. In Alexandria their speculation on the the nature of the flesh of the Logos, an argument among the anti-Chalcedonians from the beginning, brought the two friends into a controversy, a controversy which was to prove divisive among the Monophysites. Their theological dispute began in their initial letters in a friendly vein, only to become increasingly more heated as the controversy became more serious, the result of which was a breach of friendship between Severus and Julian.

Julian claimed that the flesh of Christ was incorruptible from the moment of conception. Julian was opposed to Eutyches but his line of thought led him in a similar direction — indeed, similar to Apollinarius Julian viewed the controversy in terms of Christ’s susceptibility to human sin. In maintaining that Christ’s flesh was incorruptible — άφθαρτος — Julian became the principal spokesman of aphthartodocetism — Christ’s passion and death were real but were the result of a free and completely volition act of his will — κατ ‘ οίκονομίαν or κατά χάριν, a freedom of action which allowed Christ to confer passivity on his naturally incorruptible flesh. In addition to his letters to Severus on this subject, Julian wrote four works against the position of Severus, numerous fragments of which have survived in Syriac and Greek. Julian’s vision is based on his doctrine of original sin, a doctrine not completely different in nature from that of St. Augustine. For Julian the sexual act was the vehicle through which sin and corruption, the complete corruption of the human body and flesh, were transmitted from generation to generation. Severus’s view was different. He argued that the flesh is not the source of sin (Homily123; Homily 75; Homily 68). Although he maintained that virginity was better, Severus spoke out strongly for the blessed nature of marriage. In Homily 121 Severus writes that there is nothing more loved by God than "the union of flesh in marriage, from which union likewise comes the love for children." This is in reference to his comparison of the union of the soul and Christ. He even claims that if a better analogy had been possible, then the Gospels would have used it. Severus refuses to equate the original sin with sex (Homily 119), even claiming that the flesh or body participates in the joy and pleasure of the soul’s contemplation — theoria — to the extent that even "the bones of man" are penetrated by it. Even prior to his controversy with Julian Severus had argued against Eutyches in Homily 63 that the flesh is not defiled by nature but by sin and sin comes forth from the soul or mind of man, not from die body. Hence, in his Incarnation God the Logos was in no way defiled, soiled, or touched by sin. The belief of the indestructibleness and incorruptibility of the flesh became the central focus of the Julianists, who were given the name of Aphthartodocetists and Fantasiasts by their opponents. The followers of Julian applied the word Phthartolartians to the followers of Severus. For Julian redemption was uncertain if God the Logos assumed a body that was subject to corruption — φθορά. Harnack saw in the thought of Julian of Halicarnassus the logical development of the Greek patristic doctrine of redemption, a conclusion which does not necessarily follow from the thought of the Greek fathers. "We cannot therefore avoid seeing in Aphthartodoketism," writes Harnack, "the logical development of the Greek doctrine of salvation, and we are all the more forced so to regard it that Julian expressly and ex necessitate fidei acknowledged the homoousia of the body of Christ with our body at the moment when the Logos assumed it, and rejected everything of the nature of a heavenly body so far as its origin was concerned." Harnack’s evaluation of Severus and his followers is more accurate. "In opposition to this view the Severians laid so much stress on the relation of the sufferings of Christ to the human side of Christ’s nature in order to rid them of anything doketic, that no Western could have more effectively attacked doketism than they did."

From this controversy between Severus and Julian the divisiveness within the anti-Chalcedonian movement was laid bare and the foundation of further factions was established. Severus realized quite well the damage to the cause. The result was mutual anathemas. The monks and the Eutychians in Alexandria supported Julian strenuously. In his Chronicle (9, 21) Michael the Syrian relates that Gaianus, the disciple of Julian, had the support of the wealthy and was in contention for the position of patriarch of Alexandria.

 

The Imperial Edict Against Arians
and the Reaction of Theodoric.

Pope Hormisdas1 successor, Pope St. John I (523-526), found himself caught up in a political contest between the imperial rulers in Constantinople and Theodoric. The resolution of the Acacian Schism was followed a year later by an imperial edict which closed all Arian churches in Constantinople. Moreover, all Arians were dismissed from imperial service. Theodoric, the Germanic Arian rex of Italy, retaliated — his policy towards the Catholics in Italy would no longer be tolerant if this imperial edict remained in force. Theodoric summoned Pope John I to Ravenna and ordered him to head an embassy to Constantinople to obtain a cessation of the new imperial edict against Arians. In addition, those Arians who had been compelled by force to renounce Arianism were to be allowed to revert to their former faith. Pope John I agreed to negotiate on behalf of the first request but rejected the second. He was welcomed in Constantinople with great honor in 525 — it is claimed that the "entire city" came out to greet him with candles and crosses. It is also claimed that Emperor Justin I prostrated himself before Pope John "as though John were Peter in person." What takes place with this visit by Pope John is historically important. He celebrates the Christmas liturgy and, moreover, Justin I allowed himself to be crowned for a second time. This precedent would be remembered. It was as though the coronation performed by the patriarch was not sufficient. John remained in Constantinople for five months. He was successful in restoring the Arian churches. He also celebrated Easter in St. Sophia, occupying a throne above that of the patriarch. Theodoric suspected that a conspiracy was underway, a conspiracy which would have involved the Roman aristocracy and the Pope. This is probably one of the reasons why Theodoric had Boethius and Boethius’ father-in-law, Symmachus, put to death — a warning that he would not tolerate insurrection. Upon Pope John’s return to Ravenna, he was imprisoned along with his entire escort. There he died in 526 — from "abuse" or starvation.

 

Theodora’s Monastery of Refuge
for Exiled Monophysites.

While Ephraem was persecuting the anti-Chalcedonians in the orient, Theodora was welcoming the exiles in Constantinople. She maintained all exiles at her own imperial expense. She set aside one of the imperial palaces — it was close to the Hippodrome and close to the Church of Saints Sergius and Bacchus — exclusively for these Monophysite exiles. Rooms were subdivided so that each room could accommodate two monks. Liturgical services took place and "numerous small altars" were set up to accommodate each group represented. This establishment of Theodora was not a secret — indeed, it was one of the attractions of Constantinople. Justinian was wont to visit it, not privately, but as an imperial visit in the sight of everyone. John of Ephesus, once one of the resident exiles, claims that he had seen as many as one thousand monks attending services there. It must be mentioned that John of Ephesus, who was an admirer of Theodora, corroborates in general terms what Procopius had written about the early life of Theodora in his Secret History — John mentions that her life was not common, not "regular" before she became empress.

Even an exiled Monophysite patriarch of Alexandria was present. Theodosius was consecrated patriarch of Alexandria in 536 and exiled shortly thereafter. The grounds for the exile remain unknown. He remained in Constantinople for approximately thirty years, serving essentially as the head of the Monophysite body in the capital.

 

Monophysite Missionary Activity
from Theodora’s Monastery.

From this monastery established by Theodora in the capital of the empire itself monastic missionaries went forth. John of Ephesus tells us in his Historiae ecclesiaticae pars tertia that he himself set out as a missionary. The official policy was that he was to work only among the pagans in remote Asia. Within seventeen years he is said to have converted eighty thousand pagans and to have built ninety-eight churches — moreover, it is claimed that he helped build twelve synagogues. Historically the presumption has been that John of Ephesus did more than work among the pagans, that he also used the opportunity to revitalize the anti-Chalcedonians. In his Vita of John of Telia John of Ephesus relates that the faithful non-Chalcedonians in "various places" became concerned over the problem of ordinations. The bishops "were afraid to open to themselves ever stronger flames of persecution and they, therefore, refused to ordain overtly, but they had ordained some covertly." John then continues that the faithful wrote imploring the bishops to ordain "for the sake of the faithful." Severus had supported the idea of this type of ordination in his letter to Sergius of Cyrus and Marion of Sura. This was in essence the establishment of a separate hierarchy.

It is known that John of Hephaistos, also from Theodora’s monastery, went forth with the open intent to organize the non-Chalcedonians. In 541 John of Hephaistos ordained fifty priests in Tralles while the Chalcedonians were conducting their own service within the same building. At Ephesus he is said to have ordained seventy clergy in one night. John of Telia had been ordaining. John of Ephesus most probably did the same. John of Hephaistos did the same. One source claims that one hundred and seventy thousand non-Chalcedonians were ordained — these candidates came from Armenia, Phoenicia, Cappadocia, and Arzanene on the Persian border. The beginning of this movement took place about 530.

 

The Relaxation of Justinian’s Policy and the Nika Riots.

In 530 and 531 there was a sudden relaxation of Justinian’s policy. Speculation is that one of the reasons was this new movement of ordination. It must, however, be evaluated in the context with the fact of the war with Persia. In any case, Justinian called for a conference about the differences over Chalcedon. At this time the controversy between Severus and Julian had put Severus and his followers in the minority of the anti-Chalcedonians. Justinian’s change of policy towards the Monophysites was obviously strengthened by the Nika riots which took place in 532 in Constantinople.

As Uspensky has pointed out, the Hippodrome was the one place for "a free expression of public opinion." The circus factions ultimately became political parties, the two most influential in the sixth century being the Blues and the Greens. The Blues supported the Council of Chalcedon and seem to have been representative of the upper classes; the Greens were Monophysites or anti-Chalcedonians and seem to have been representative of the lower classes. The political influence carried by these factions is expressed not only by their rioting but also by the fact that the emperor often had to appear before the people to give an account of his actions. With Justinian as emperor and Theodora as empress there was a split of allegiance to the throne, the Blues supporting Justinian and the Greens Theodora. Cassiodorus tells us that even in Rome in the sixth century under Theodoric there were two contending parties, the Blues and the Greens, the Blues representative of the upper classes and the Greens representative of the lower classes.

The famous revolt in 532 known as the Nika Revolt — for the Greek word Victory — has more than just a religious base. The nephews of Anastasius strongly resented the accession of Justin I and Justinian — they had expected to receive the imperial title. They were supported by the Monophysites of the Greens. There was also public outrage at and bitterness against higher officials in the imperial government, especially against Tribonian and John of Cappadocia. It is significant that the Blues and Greens seem to have momentarily put aside their religious differences to focus on a united revolt against the government. The emperor attempted to negotiate with the factions through representatives in the Hippodrome but no resolution was reached. The rebellion quickly spread through the city in the form of fire and destruction. The basilica of St. Sophia was set aflame and on that site there later rose the Hagia Sophia. One of Anastasius’ nephews was proclaimed emperor. Justinian and his advisors were preparing to flee from the enflamed city when Theodora intervened. Her words in Procopius’ Secret History ring true. “It is impossible for a man when he has come into the world not to die. But for one who has reigned, it is intolerable to be an exile. If you wish, Ο Emperor, to save yourself, there is no difficulty. We have sufficient funds. Over there is the sea, and there are ships. Yet consider whether, when you have once escaped to a place of safety, you will not prefer death to safety. I agree with an old saying that the purple is a fair winding sheet." Theodora inspired Justinian to make a stand. He entrusted the crushing of the revolt to Belisarius who then drove the rioters into the Hippodrome and killed approximately thirty to forty thousand. The Nika Revolt had ended. The nephews of Anastasius were executed and Justinian’s imperial throne was once more secure. But the following year the strength of the Greens, representing the Monophysites, was revealed again when, after an earthquake in the city, a large crowd gathered to sing a Monophysite doxology. The crowds were also shouting out for baptism in the name of the One — the meaning was "one nature" as opposed to the Chalcedonian "in two natures." Justinian could certainly realize the enduring strength of the anti-Chalcedonians.

 

Justinian’s Request for a Theological Conference
and the Petition of the Monophysites.

The Monophysites responded to Justinian’s call for a conference by drawing up a review of their case, known as the "Petition of the Monophysites to Justinian." Zacharias gives the text in his Church History (9, 15), as does Michael the Syrian in his Chronicle (9, 22).

"O Triumphant Emperor, several other men crown your head of belief with a crown of praises, men who who use the occasion of others’ cases to write words about your generosity to them. But we, who have ourselves been deemed worthy to experience your virtues, render gratitude to you with a crown of praise woven in splendor. And, while we have been in the desert and, as it were, in the extremities of the world, we have been this entire time living in quietude and have been praying to the good and merciful God during all these days for your majesty and for our sins. And your tranquillity has inclined itself towards our baseness and in your letters of belief you have summoned us to come to you. And it is a miracle to us that you did not receive this our petition with scorn, but, with the kindness that is inbred in you, you have sympathized with us to bring us out of affliction, giving a pretext that this or that man had interceded for us."

"Now, since it is our duty to obey when ordered, we have immediately left the desert and, travelling quietly along the road in peace without our voice being heard, we have come before your feet. And we pray God, the bountiful Giver, to reward on our behalf your serenity and the God-loving Empress with good gifts from above, and to grant peace and tranquillity upon you, and to place all rebellious people as a stool under your feet."

"However, now that we have come, we present a petition to your peacefulness which contains our true faith. We do not wish to enter argument with any man on any matter that profits not, as it is written, lest we annoy your ears. For it is very difficult for a man to convince persons of a contentious nature even if the truth is made clear. Hence, as we have said, we refuse to enter any dispute with those who are contentious, with those who will not receive instructors. For it was our master the apostle who said, ‘We have no such custom, neither the churches of God."

"Victorious Emperor, we do now accordingly also declare the freedom of our faith. When we were in the desert and received your edict at the hands of Theodotus the comes, we also wrote and declared what we thought. And your majesties gave us a message of truth which was free from affliction, for you were tenderly moved and you summoned us to your presence. And, since we have been deemed worthy of the mercies of God, we do in this petition inform your orthodoxies that by the grace of God we have from our earliest infancy received the faith of the apostles. We have been raised in it and with it, and we think and believe even as our three hundred and eighteen God-inspired holy fathers, who drew up the faith of life and salvation, which was confirmed by our one hundred and fifty holy fathers who once met here, and confirmed by the pious bishops who assembled at Ephesus and rejected the impious Nestorius. And thus in this faith of the apostles we have been baptized and do baptize. And this saving knowledge is rooted in our hearts, and this same doctrine alone we recognize as a rule in the faith, and beyond it we receive no other, for it is perfect in all points and it does not grow old nor need revision."

"Now we acknowledge a worshipful and holy Trinity of one nature, power, and honor, which is revealed in three persons. For we worship the Father and his only Son, God the Logos, who was begotten of him eternally beyond all times, and is with him always without change, and the Holy Spirit, who proceeds from the Father, and is of the nature of the Father and of the Son. One of the persons of this holy Trinity, that is, God the Logos, we say by the will of the Father in the last days for the salvation of men took flesh of the Holy Spirit and of the holy Virgin the Theotokos Mary in a body endowed with a rational and intellectual soul, passible according to our nature, and became man, and was not changed from that which he was. And so we confess that, while in the Godhead he was of the nature of the Father, he was also of our nature in the manhood. Accordingly he who is the perfect Logos, the unchangeable Son of God, became perfect man, and left nothing lacking for us in respect of our salvation, as the foolish Apollinarius said, saying that the Incarnation of God the Logos was not perfect, and deprives us, according to his opinion, of things that are of prime importance in our salvation. For, if our intellect was not united with him, as he absurdly says, then we are not redeemed, and in the matter of salvation have fallen short of that which is of the highest consequence for us. But these things are not as he said. For the perfect God for our sake became perfect man without change, and God the Logos did not leave anything lacking in the Incarnation, as we have said, nor yet was it a phantom of him, as the impious Mani supposes, and the mistaken Eutyches."

"And, since Christ is truth and does not know how to lie and does not deceive, because he is God, therefore God the Logos truly became incarnate, in truth again, and not in semblance, with natural and innocent passions, for of his own will he for our sake among the things which he took upon himself in the passible flesh of our nature of his own will endured also our death, which he made life for us by a Resurrection proper to God, for he first restored incorruption and immortality to human nature."

"And, indeed, as God the Logos left nothing wanting and was not phantasmal in the Incarnation and Humanization, so he did not divide it into two persons and two natures according to the doctrine introduced by Nestorius the man-worshipper and those who formerly thought like him, and those who in our day so think."

"And the faith contained in your confession refutes the doctrine of these men and contends with it, for in your earnestness you said the following: ‘God appeared, who became Incarnate. He is in all points like the Father except the individuality of his Father. He became a sharer of our nature, and was called Son of Man. Being one the same, God and Man, he showed himself to us, and was born as a babe for our sake. And, being God, he for men and for the sake of their salvation became man.’ "

"If those who dispute with us adhered to these things in truth and were not content to hold them in appearance only, but rather consented to believe as we do and you do and as our God-inspired fathers did, they would have abstained from their stirring of strife. For that Christ was joined by composition and that God the Logos is joined by composition with a body endowed with a rational and intellectual soul the all-wise doctors of the Church have plainly stated. Dionysius, who from the Areopagus and from the darkness and error of heathendom attained to the supreme light of the knowledge of God through our master Paul, in the treatise which he composed about the divine names of the Holy Trinity says, ‘Praising it as kindly, we say, as is right, that it is kindly, because it in truth partook perfectly of our attributes in one of its persons, drawing to itself and raising the lowliness of our manhood, out of which the simple Jesus became joined by composition in a manner that cannot be described. And he who was from eternity and beyond all times took upon him a temporal existence, and he who was raised and exalted above all orders and natures became in the likeness of our nature without change and confusion.’ And Athanasius again in the treatise upon the faith named the unity of God the Logos with soul-possessing flesh ‘a composition,’ speaking thus: ‘What sort of resultant unbelief befalls those who call it an indwelling instead of an Incarnation, and instead of a union and composition a human energy?"

"If, therefore, according to our holy fathers, whom your peacefulnesses have followed, God the Logos, who was before simple and not composite, became incarnate of the Virgin, the Theotokos Mary, and [here Michael the Syrian adds "hypostatically"] united soul-possessing and intellectual flesh to himself personally and made it his own and was joined with it by composition in the oikonomia, it is manifest that according to our fathers we ought to confess one nature of God the Logos, who took flesh and became perfectly man. Accordingly God the Logos, who was before simple, is not recognized to have become composite in a body, if he is again divided after the union by being called two natures. But, just as an ordinary man, who is made up of various natures, soul and body and so forth, is not divided into two natures because a soul has been joined by composition with a body to make up the one nature and person of a man, so also God the Logos, who was personally united and joined by composition with soul-possessing flesh, cannot be ‘two natures’ or ‘in two natures’ because of his union and composition with a body. For according to the words of our fathers, whom the fear of God that is in you has followed, God the Logos, who was formerly simple, consented for our sake to be united by composition with soul-possessing and intellectual flesh and without change to become man. Accordingly one unique nature and person [hypostasis] of God the Logos, who took flesh, is to be proclaimed, and there is one energy of the Logos of God which is made known, which is exalted and glorious and proper to God, and is also lowly and human. [Michael the Syrian adds: "How is it that our brethren cannot apply themselves to annul the things which Leo has written in his Tome?"]

[Then followed quotations from Nestorius, Theodore, Diodore, Theodoret, Leo, and the Council of Chalcedon proclaiming two natures after the union and the Incarnation of the Logos, and two hypostases. These quotations are refuted by quotations from the Fathers which assert one nature and one person of the Incarnate Logos. Neither Zacharias nor Michael give these quotations.]

"And for this reason we do not accept either the Tome or the definition of Chalcedon, Ο Victorious Emperor, because we keep the canon and law of our fathers who assembled at Ephesus and anathematized and deprived Nestorius and excommunicated any who should presume to compose any other definition of faith besides that of Nicaea, which was correctly and believingly laid down by the Holy Spirit. These we reject and anathematize. And this definition and canon those who assembled at Chalcedon deliberately set at naught and transgressed, as they state in the Acts of that Council. And they are subject to punishment and blame from our holy fathers in that they have introduced a new definition of faith, which contrary to the truth of the doctrine of those who from time to time have been after a pure manner doctors of the Church, who, we believe, are now also entreating Christ with us, that you may aid the truth of their faith, honoring the contests undergone by their priesthoods, by which the Church has been exalted and glorified. For thus shall peace prevail in your reign by the power of the right hand of God Almighty, to whom we pray on your behalf that without toil or struggle in arms he will set your enemies as a stool beneath your feet."

Severus received an invitation to participate in the conference but declined because "of age." In the letter he sent to the emperor explaining that he was unable to attend, Severus took the opportunity to defend himself against accusations that he had been receiving funds to foment sedition. If indeed this accusation had been made, Severus was aware that the charge against him was political treason. He wrote that he lived in poverty and wished to die in the peace and obscurity he had in Alexandria. He included in this letter a vehement attack against and denunciation of Julian of Halicarnassus and his doctrine, obviously to distinguish his teachings from those of Julian.

According to Zacharias in his Church History (9, 15) the conference in Constantinople lasted more than a year. However, an account of only one of the conferences exists, one that lasted for three days and attended by six Syrian bishops and five supporters of Chalcedonian. Leontius of Byzantium was also in attendance representing Palestinian monks. One of the Chalcedonian representatives has left an account of this mini conference — Innocentius of Maronia in a letter to Thomas, a priest in Thessaloniki. Justinian’s approach was to resolve some of the issues in order to reveal that if Chalcedon were interpreted correctly, no doctrinal issue should be cause of division. The "issues" that Justinian wanted to resolve were not doctrinal — indeed, all he attempted to demonstrate was that Eutyches’ theology was not orthodox and that Dioscorus had been wrong in conducting the Robber Council at Ephesus. The Severians admitted that Eutyches was a heretic and even granted that Dioscorus had agreed with Eutyches. How, then, could they hold that Dioscorus was orthodox? The Severians finally acknowledged that Dioscorus had been blind, that his condemnation of Flavian was unjust, and that there had been sufficient reason for convoking the Council of Chalcedon. Some of these statements were historically inaccurate. Severus had previously written that Eutyches had submitted a confession of faith to Dioscorus in which he condemned Mani, Valentinius, Apollinarius, and any one claiming that the flesh of our Lord "came down from heaven." But Severus added that Eutyches, after submitting this profession of faith, had "returned to his vomit." It must also be mentioned that Dioscorus, during his brief attendance at the Council of Chalcedon, had condemned Eutyches on certain conditions. The next day the Severians focused on what they considered to be the real issue — their central objection to the Council of Chalcedon was that it presented a "new" and incorrect doctrine of "in two natures" — duarum naturarum novitas. They paid little attention to the position that not everything that was new was necessarily incorrect or bad. From the perspective of the Severians, St. Cyril would not have accepted the Council of Chalcedon. And that was the basic issue. The Council had not accepted St. Cyril’s Twelve Anathemas and, despite the fact that St. Cyril had spoken of "out of two natures," he had never spoken about "two natures after the union." At the meeting on the third day, attended by Justinian, the Theopaschite Formula was put forward as a compromise position. It is claimed that one of the Syrian bishops accepted Chalcedon, as did some of the priests in attendance. But the remaining bishops remained firm. Justinian promulgated an edict in March of 533 which set out his own profession of faith. It condemned Eutyches, Apollinarius, and Nestorius and strongly maintained that there had been no innovation of the faith. It professed that the Logos, co-eternal with the Father "became incarnate of the Holy Spirit and Mary, the holy glorious Ever-Virgin and Theotokos, and assumed the nature of man, and endured the Cross for us in the time of Pontius Pilate, and was buried and arose on the third day. We recognize one and the same person’s suffering which he voluntarily endured in the flesh. We know not God the Logos to be one and Christ to be another, but one and the same person consubstantial with the Father in his divinity and the same one consubstantial with us in his humanity. For he is perfect in divinity, and also perfect in his humanity. The Trinity has remained the Trinity even after one of the Trinity became incarnate as God the Logos, for the Holy Trinity allows no addition of a fourth person." It is to be noted that justnian made no reference to Pope Leo’s Tome. Justinian also wrote a letter to Patriarch Epiphanius, addressing him as "ecumenical patriarch." In this letter he repeats the same ideas but calls attention to the letter of Proclus to the Armenians and refers to the position of the Bishop of Rome as "head of all of God’s most holy priests." St. Proclus, bishop of Constantinople (434-446), had received a request in 435 from the bishops of the Church of Armenia concerning the theology of Theodore of Mopsuestia whcse works were then being translated into Armenian. In his famous response, Tomus ad Armenios de fide, St. Proclus avoided mentioning Theodore but discussed the teaching of the Church on the one hypostasis and the two natures in the Incarnate Logos. He then theorizes on the possible errors that could come from that teaching, errors which were those of Theodore. In his fourth letter he used the phrase which would become the rallying cry of the Theopaschite controversy — unum de Trinitate secundum cartem crucifixum. Justinian’s reference that the Holy Trinity allots "no addition of a fourth person" most probably reflects the fact that the Monophysite doxology had already been criticized on that possibility — such is the view of Marcellinus Comes in his Chronicon.

Justinian also wrote to Pope John II, the first pope to change his flame — he had been Mercurius, a Roman priest. The emperor’s letter, Reddentes honorem, became part of the Code of Justinian. Justinian included the Theopaschite Formula in his letter to Pope John II and the pope approved it. The emperor also requested that the pope condemn a group of monks who had come to Rome to protest against the formula. That also Pope John II acquiesced to — he excommunicated the monks when they refused to cease their opposition. In his letter Justinian used the same language about the position of the Bishop of Rome that he used in his letter to the "ecumenical patriarch" Epiphanius — "the head of all the Churches." There was actually nothing new in this attitude towards the Roman see from the Eastern perspective. It does not knew of any infallibility in that see and there was seldom any serious question of the Roman see being the primus.

The imperial documents essentially formed what would become the new Henotikon, the final attempt at compromise before the Monophysites officially established their own hierarchy. Justinian’s argument that the Council of Chalcedon was to be accepted was based on the fact that it contained the "eastern" tradition expressed by Patriarch Proclus in his Tomus ad Armenios defidei and not because of the influence of Pope Leo! And also because it did in fact condemn Eutyches and Nestorius. St. Cyril’s Twelve Anathemas were omitted but his language was utilized — Christ was "one" and suffered as "one." But the strong language used in Zeno’s Henotikon of "one and not two" was not present. Despite this, Christ is "perfect God and perfect man." It was a compromise formula and it was to be quickly recognized as such. For a few years it appeared as though Justinian’s compromise might work. The years from 531 to 536 were the years of peace, the years when a truce was in effect in the empire. Severus, now in the later years of his life, had suffered from the separation of the followers of Julian. There seemed to be no vehement reaction to this new compromise in the east and, most importantly, the strident Pope Hormisdas had died and Justinian now could deal with the more conciliatory Pope John I and then Pope John II, the latter of whom had accepted the edict as "in accordance with apostolic teaching." The will of the emperor seems to have brought at least obedience — for a time.

 

Theodoras Influence: Severus Visits Constantinople.

An extraordinary turn of events took place. It seems that Theodora had encouraged the emperor not to give up with Severus and to continue to extend imperial invitations to him. He finally accepted and arrived in Constantinople to be welcomed in honor. The date of Severus’ arrival is disputed. In any case, he arrived between 534 and 535 with Peter of Apamea and a rather large group of monks. In 535 Timothy of Alexandria died and a few months later Epiphanius of Constantinople passed away. Two important sees were now vacant. One of the monks who had been "in exile" in Theodora’s monastery was in Alexandria upon the death of Patriarch Timothy. His influence was used on the military commander to consecrate Theodosius, a deacon, immediately. Theodosius was a Severian, and they were in the minority in Alexandria at the time. He was immediately opposed. Gaianus, a follower of Julian, was supported by a variety of groups in Alexandria and managed to survive as the opposing patriarch for a little more than one hundred days — he was then expelled. Theodosius was, of course, an anti-Chalcedonian. He held a council which immediately defined his position. Nicaea, Ephesus, and the Twelve Anathemas of St. Cyril were considered to be divinely inspired. In addition, the Henotikon was reaffirmed, an action which by its very nature nullified Pope Leo’s Tome and the Council of Chalcedon. But there was no mention of Dioscorus or his council. Theodosius received a letter of support from Severus and quickly began to ordain bishops in an attempt to gain leadership in Alexandria of the Monophysites.

 

Theodoras Influence: Anthimus of Trebizond
Becomes Patriarch of Constantinople.

The see of Constantinople also had to be filled. Here, too, Theodora’s candidate won the position. Anthimus of Trebizond was one of the Chalcedonian supporters at the conferences. He was, however, impressed by the arguments of the Monophysites. Once consecrated, Theodora made certain that Severus spoke often with Anthimus. Severus, it appears, was able to convince Patriarch Anthimus of his own orthodoxy as well as the flaws in and iniquity of the Council of Chalcedon. Precisely at the time when Justinian was attempting to take Italy militarily, Patriarch Anthimus came out strongly as an anti-Chalcedonian, even making the assertion that the doctrine of "in two natures" makes a "Quarternity" out of the Trinity. The balance had now changed again. Three patriarchs — Constantinople, Alexandria, and Severus of Antioch — were anti-Chalcedonian. Turmoil was unleashed again within the Church. Bishops began to send delegations to Rome to protest.

 

Pope Agapetus Visits Constantinople
on Request of Theodahad, the Gothic King.

Military events in Sicily and Dalmatia intervened now with ecclesiastical events. Theodahad, the Gothic King, prevailed upon none other than Pope Agapetus to journey to Constantinople to negotiate a military settlement with Justinian. The Roman see was quite impoverished at the time and, in order to raise the funds to undertake the trip, Pope Agapetus had to resort to selling some of the consecrated vessels. The emperor knew that he needed the support of Pope Agapetus if he was to succeed militarily in Italy. The pope had little difficulty in convincing Justinian that the West would never accept the new interpretation of Chalcedon. Severus knew that the situation was lost and wrote to a friend that "the real problem is that those in power want to please both sides." Anthimus was presented with an option: either a complete and unequivocal acceptance of Chalcedon or his resignation. He resigned and entered Theodora’s monastery. Pope Agapetus requested that Justinian arrest and imprison Severus and Zooras but Justinian refused to break his commitment of safe-conduct to Severus.

 

Pope Agapetus Consecrates Patriarch

Menas in Constantinople.

The new choice for patriarch of Constantinople was Menas (d. 552), an Alexandrian by birth. Pope Agapetus consecrated the new patriarch of Constantinople. A statement had been drawn up, signed by both the new patriarch and Justinian, that reasserted the orthodoxy of the Council of Chalcedon. At the time of triumph Pope Agapetus suddenly died. Rumors of a fantastic nature coming from the anti-Chalcedonians concentrated on Pope Agapetus. Michael the Syrian in his Chronicle (9, 23) claims that the reason Pope Agapetus came to Constantinople was out of jealousy of the former Stylite Zooras, who baptized Theodora in 535. The death of Pope Agapetus, his opponents claimed, came "while he was engaged in the practice of black magic."

 

The Decisions of Justinian’s
Standing Council of Bishops In 536.

Justinian, having been buoyed by the presence of Pope Agapetus, was to remain committed to the Council of Chalcedon -however he may have interpreted it. The Standing Council of Bishops in Constantinople was called into session by Justinian and met in session from about May until June or even as late as August of 536. Fifty-three bishops were present, including the papal legates who apparently had accompanied the now deceased Pope Agapetus. Menas presided as "ecumenical patriarch." The monasteries in Palestine and further east sent delegations with accusations against Severus, Zooras, and Peter of Apamea. The charges ranged from the practice of magic, to profaning altars, to profaning baptism by giving pseudo-baptisms and rebaptizing the orthodox. The charge of rebaptism was not true in the case of Severus but was accurate in the case of some of his followers, a fact we know from one of Severus’ own letters. They accused Severus of fantastic things — he was a magician, he was a worshipper of the devil, he was a heathen, he was an idolater who reproduced the abominations of Daphne, he was selling the sacred vessels and even sold the gold dove over the altar, he was reducing the treasury of the church and saddling it with debt. But for some reason they failed to accuse Severus of immorality, a charge they levelled against the others! Peter of Apamea was accused of resorting to a devilish trick to regain a monastery from the Chalcedonians. He allegedly hired some women who entered the gates of the monastery, at the sight of which the monks fled, leaving the monastery vacant so that Peter could take possession of it! Anathema was pronounced on all three men. Severus, odd as it may sound, was simultaneously accused of being both a Nestorian and a Eutychian.

The Standing Council of Bishops condemned the former patriarch Anthimus as a heretic and placed Severus under ban again. This decision created an interesting sidelight, for Patriarch Menas revealed how controlled the Church was by the emperor, stating that nothing could take place in ecclesiastical affairs without the emperor’s "will and command." Justinian did concur. He issued an edict banning Anthimus, Severus, and their followers from Constantinople and from all the major cities of the empire. In addition, Justinian ordered the burning of all copies of the writings of Severus. Anyone sheltering those under ban were to receive harsh penalties. In his Novel 42/56 Justinian charged Severus with carrying on an "underground war" by setting churches against each other.

"We prohibit all persons from possessing the books of Severus. For in the same manner that it was not permitted to copy and to possess the books of Nestorius because our previous emperors ordered in their edicts to consider those as similar to the writings of Porphyry against the Christians, so in like manner no Christian shall possess also the speeches of Severus. These are from this time forth determined to be profane and counter to the Catholic Church."

Severus, Zooras, and others were prohibited from preaching, from having assemblies, and from celebrating the Eucharist. Severus left Constantinople for Egypt where he died eighteen months later (538).

Any hope of a reconciliation with the non-Chalcedonians vanished. The Roman deacon, Pelagius, became the permanent representative of the Roman see in Constantinople — indeed, he seems to have been the first of the permanent representatives of the Roman see in Constantinople. Pelagius, who was respected by both Justinian and Theodora, had influence in Constantinople. His primary goal seemed to be the restoration of Chalcedonianism in Egypt, a goal difficult to achieve. But already the power of the empire had begun to enforce the new policy and the Monophysites in Syria became the targets of the imperial police and military forces. It is reported that some Monophysites were burned alive. In Egypt also the imperial forces began to attempt to extirpate Monophysitism. Justinian summoned Patriarch Theodosius of Alexandria to Constantinople for a conference. Since Theodosius’ personal safety was in the control of the imperial military, he had no choice but to comply. In Constantinople he was deposed and exiled to Thrace. But Theodora arranged for his return to the capital to be housed in her monastery. The papal representative recommended Paul the Tabennesiot. Soon after Paul’s conse -cration in Constantinople by Patriarch Menas, he was accused of complicity in murder. His successor was Zoilus, a Palestinian monk, who was recommended by Ephraem of Antioch. Now it was Antioch which was controlling the patriarchal elections of Alexandria. The Egyptian Church, under the control of imperial forces, accepted the foreign patriarch — as a temporary measure. Patriarch Zoilus had to live under military escort until he, too, was deposed. Indeed, Paul and the four Chalcedonian patriarchs who succeeded him in Alexandria were nothing more than imperial placements — the vox populi in this vital ecclesiastical matter was beyond the reach of the emperor.

 

Theodora’s Agreement with the Roman Deacon Vigilius.

Upon the sudden death of Pope Agapetus, Theodora seized an opportunity. A Roman deacon, Vigilius, had accompanied Agapetus. The very day after the conference ruled against the Monophysites Theodora negotiated with Vigilius. He could have the episcopal throne of Rome if he agreed to modify the Roman position against the Monophysites. Liberatus of Carthage in his Breviarum (22) tells us that Vigilius’ agreement with Theodora was that he would abolish the Council of Chalcedon and enter into communion with the Monophysites. The same account is given by Victor of Tunnuna in his Chronicle (Patrologia Latino. 68, 956-958) and by Procopius in his Secret History (1,2) and in his De bello gothico (1, 25). The Vita Silverii in the Liber pontificalis gives a lengthy description of the intrigue that surrounded the deposition of Pope Silverius and places Vigilius in Constantinople at the time as apocrisiarius. In its Vita Vigilii the Liber pontificalis accuses Vigilius of "ambition" in securing the papal election, but it also claims that once Vigilius became pope he acted with "courage and intransigence" in resisting imperial pressure. It attributes to Vigilius the words "I am receiving justice for what I did" — digna enim factis recipio.

Vigilius agreed and left for Rome with the body of Pope Agapetus. But a new pope with the aid of the Gothic king Theodatus had already been consecrated, Pope Silverius. Antonina, the wife of the commander of the imperial forces in Italy, Belisarius, was a close friend of Theodora. Through Antonina Theodora had Belisarius arrest Pope Silverius on the false charge of treason, of communicating with the Goths who at that time were being driven out of Rome by Belisarius. Pope Silverius was handed over to accomplices of Vigilius — against the orders of Justinian. Vigilius (537-555) was enthroned as pope in April or May of 537. Silverius had appealed to Justinian who requested a trial for Silverius. The latter, however, was confirmed in his deposition and exiled in November of 537. As pope, Vigilius wrote a letter to Severus, Anthimus, and Theodosius establishing communion with them. Vigilius requests that the letter he is writing be kept strictly secret — mea earn fidem quam tenetis, Deo adjuvante et tenuisse et tenere significo. Non duas Christum confitemur naturas, sed ex duabus compositum unum filium.

 

The Prospect of Monophysitism
after its Defeat at the Conference of 536.

The Monophysite cause had seemed lost. Despite having an emperor who was well-disposed to them, they had been defeated at the conference of 536. Severus and John of Telia were now dead. Theodosius of Alexandria was now imprisoned. And their avowed enemy, Ephraem of Antioch, had unleashed another persecution. Moreover, their own internal problems were beginning to manifest themselves in an alarming way. The dispute begun between Severus and Julian had now become a division. And Chalcedonian patriarchs temporarily occupied the five thrones. Moreover, the new defense of the Council of Chalcedon seemed to be carrying a momentum, especially through the writings of Leontius of Byzantium, Leontius of Jerusalem, and Cyril Scythopolis (d. 557). This "Neo-Chalcedonian" defense was the reconciling of the doctrine of Chalcedon with the thought of St. Cyril.

 

Justinian’s Contra Monophysitas
and his Interest in Theology.

Justinian had personally become more and more interested in theological issues. He had a personal as well as an imperial interest, an uncommon trait for most emperors. In his Contra Monophysitas Justinian wrote that the holy Church "accepts all the writings of the blessed Cyril. And in these writings the Church accepts also the unique Incarnate nature of God the Logos, that the nature of the divinity is one thing and that the nature of the flesh is another, out of which the one and unique Christ was formed." Justinian had learned of the doctrine of "enhypostasis" from his discussion with Leontius of Byzantium (d. 543), although the term had begun to come into the theological life of the Church during the general speculative controversies. No nature existed without an hypostasis or person but the same hypostasis could indeed be the center of the life of two natures. Precisely at the Incarnation the human nature of Christ was enhypostasized by the Divine Logos. The unity or oneness in Christ was to be found in the hypostasis, the Divine hypostasis of the Logos. Was this not the key to the solution of the controversy? Was this not the resolution of the "in two natures" of Chalcedon with the One Incarnate Lord of St. Cyril? The Monophysites were not convinced so readily, for they sensed in this type of thinking the thought of Origen and not St. Cyril. With the rejection of the thought of Severus the Church still had to find a means of reconciling Chalcedon with St. Cyril, while avoiding any tendency of considering the hypostasis in Christ as an eternal Mind, a Mind united to God throughout eternity and then taking a body to complete redemption. With Severus condemned, the Origenists gained an influential role in the theological life of the controversy, especially during 532 to 542 and especially among the Palestinian monks who vehemently opposed Antiochene theology. Indeed, the Origenists demanded that Peter, the patriarch of Jerusalem from 524 until 544, anathematize Ephraem of Antioch and Antiochene theological interpretations. In the very time of the defeat of the anti-Chalcedonians Theodora had been influential in bringing Theodore Askidas, a Palestinian monk, out of the monastery to become archbishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia. Theodore and his followers had strong Origenist sympathies. Quarrels erupted in Jerusalem which caused one additional theological controversy within the Church. Fights between the monks became increasingly more common — indeed, street fighting took place. The Vita Sabae relates that "those Origenist monks made such a habit of beating the orthodox in the streets that we had to bring in pious hermits as a means of self-protection," Both sides appealed to the emperor.

One thing imperial policy wanted to avoid was to become entangled in controversies with monks. Nothing seemed more dangerous, for to stop a zealous monk was near impossible shon of death. And death simply intensified controversies in which monks were involved and created martyrs. The Chalcedonians in Constantinople, however, realized that this was an opportunity to seize. If Origen could be condemned, one would be discrediting a thinker whose thought system was reflective in general of Alexandrian thinking. Indirectly it would be enlisting the emperor in a condemnation of an aspect of Alexandrian theological tradition. At a council held in 543 Justinian had Origenism and Origen condemned. A vivid account of this controversy is related by Cyril of Scythopolis in his Vita Sabae. Justinian had written a letter to Patriarch Menas condemning Origen as one of the most pernicious of heretics. The edict drawn up as a result of the council held in 543 gave a long list of Origenist errors along with their refutation. It was signed by Pope Vigilius and the patriarchs of the east. Origen was referred to as a "son of the devil," as an "enemy of the faith," as one whose goal had been to "sow tares and to confirm pagan errors." Origen had been condemned along with Severus, Peter the Fuller, and others.

The Origenist leaders, Theodore Askidas and his colleague Domitian of Ancyra, were in Constantinople. To the disappointment of their followers, they accepted the condemnation of Origen. But Theodore of Askidas was ready for a counter move. Evagrius Scholasticus tells us in his Church History (4, 38) that Theodore Askidas was "constantly in the presence of Justinian" and that Theodore’s influence was so great that he managed to replace the influence of the Roman deacon Pelagius — indeed, Pelagius was removed from a favorable position in the imperial palace. Theodore Askidas was a Chalcedonian. His motive was not to enhance the position of Severus. Rather, it was a policy which could both provide a compromise for the Monophysites and maintain Chalcedon by rejecting and condemning the works of Theodore of Mopsuestia, the works of Theodoret against St. Cyril, and the letter of Ibas to the priest Maris. By condemning these three theologians who were opposed to Origen Theodore Askidas thought it would be an acknowledgment of Alexandrian theology, something which might please the moderate Monophysites It would give a clear signal to the Monophysites that, although the Council of Chalcedon had vindicated Theodoret and Ibas, the Council had not endorsed all their writings. Indeed, the Mnnoohysites had been imploring for half a century to have these three theologians condemned — at the conference of 532/533 the Μonophysites had pointedly declared that one of the walls preventing a union had been Chalcedon’s approval of the writings of Ibas and Theodoret against St. Cyril. Liberatus of Carthage in his Breviarum (24) and Facundus in his Pro defensione trium capitulorum (4, 3) were certain that the condemnation of these three theologians, the condemnation of the Three Chapters, by Justinian in 544 was the result of the work of Theodora and Theodore of Askidas.

 

The Military Attacks by the Bulgars and the

Persians and the Outbreak of the Plague.

The theological controversies were not, of course, taking place in a vacuum. The empire had other problems: one was military; another was the outbreak of bubonic plague. While his general Belisarius was engaged in a long war with the Goths in Italy, Justinian had to contend with a military attack from the north by the Bulgars, and a resurgence of war in 542 with Chosroes of Persia. In the spring of 541 the Bulgars crossed the Danube and invaded the Balkans, bringing with them burning, ravaging, and destruction everywhere. One group of Bulgars penetrated into central Greece, reaching as far as the Isthmus of Corinth. Another group of Bulgars devastated the Gallipoli peninsula and raided the Asian shore across the Dardanelles. A third military force of Bulgars reached the suburbs of Constantinople. Fear struck the inhabitants of Constantinople and many fled to Asia Minor. Justinian was in no position to deal with this new enemy from the north. He had to wait. The Bulgars finally withdrew but not before they had captured one hundred and twenty thousand prisoners whom they took with them back to their homeland. Justinian responded by beginning the construction of a fortification of the northern frontier in the Balkans. The outbreak of war in the spring of 542 with Chosroes of Persia caused further alarm. Justinian sent Belisarius to take command of the military in the east against the Persians. But this war was cut short by a new menace, by the outbreak of a plague of devastating proportions.

It was claimed that the plague began in Ethiopia and broke out Egypt in 541. With the commencement of navigation in the spring the plague spread to Syria and Asia Minor. In May of 542 it broke out in Constantinople, shortly thereafter to spread to the Balkans, Italy, Africa, Spain, and Gaul. The sources claim that initially five thousand persons were dying daily, and later ten thousand daily. It is claimed that on one day as many as sixteen thousand persons had died. When the plague had run its course, it is claimed that it had taken three hundred thousand persons in Constantinople alone. Famine accompanied the plague, for the food supply to Constantinople was cut off. Justinian himself was a victim but he managed to survive. During the time Justinian was fighting and then recuperating from the plague, the decision making fell to Theodora.

 

Jacob Baradaeus.

The Chalcedonians, the party now in power, still did not feel comfortable with the state of affairs in the Church. Still, the number of non-Chalcedonian bishops had dwindled drastically and much of the credit for this ambiguously valued work is due to Ephraem of Antioch, despised with reason by the non-Chalcedonians. When he died in 542, the non-Chalcedonians were determined to do something to regain Antioch. The non-Chalcedonians had no lack of laity or clergy — it was bishops they lacked. There were, it appears, only three non-Chalcedonian bishops remaining: one in Alexandria, one in Persia, and one in the woods of Tur Abdin, an old and feeble man. Theodora’s policy had helped to both protect and to facilitate suppression.

In 542 or 543 King Aretas (Harith Ibn Gabala), the Emir of the Ghassanid Arabs, visited Constantinople. He was a zealous Monophysite and anti-Greek. His zeal for Monophysitism was enflamed because of a quarrel he had had with Ephraem of Antioch. The patriarch had visited King Aretas in his camp to discuss the acceptance of the Council of Chalcedon — it was Pope Leo’s Tome that bothered King Aretas. The king offered the patriarch what was a grand delicacy in his land — camel meat. The patriarch, completely ignorant of the customs and not aware that the meal was a compliment, was insulted and refused to bless the food or to eat. "Well, if you will not eat camel with me, how can you expect me to take Holy Communion with you?" King Aretas was quite willing to do anything that might disgrace the memory of Ephraem. He had come to Constantinople to urge Theodora to take action. The person to fill the patriarchal throne of Antioch must combine the prestige of Severus with the physical stamina of John of Tella.

Theodora had just such a person in her special monastery — Jacob Baradaeus. He was born about 490 in the same town as the now deceased John of Tela. From an early age he had been an ascetic, and he was fluent in Greek, Syriac, and Arabic. Jacob was physically strong, could fast for long periods of time, and usually lived only on dry bread. Jacob had no doubt that he was equal to the task. King Aretas pointed out that he must be able to live among his people and get along with them. He was then consecrated bishop by Theodosius as not only bishop of Syria but as a "peregrinating bishop" who was empowered to ordain "overall" — he was "commissioned" to organize and to ordain in Armenia, in all Asia Minor, in Egypt, in all the islands, and right up to the gates of Constantinople itself. Jacob was given some colleagues to assist him. Since canonically three bishops were needed to consecrate another bishop, Theodosius consecrated a certain Theodore, Conon of Cilicia, and Eugenius of Isauria. As it turned out, these assistants were unnecessary — Theodore disappeared among the tents of his nomadic flock and the other two soon wearied of the job and ultimately returned to the established Church. Jacob, however, was much tougher and would not weary. He was smuggled out of Constantinople by King Aretas and taken to the Orient in Aretas’ caravan. He at once set himself to work. His method was similar to that of John of Telia — he travelled on foot, in ragged clothing, without pack or money. Since he looked like any other travelling monk, it was extremely difficult for the authorities to recognize him. His stamina was such that he could walk forty miles per day, sleep anywhere, and live either by total abstention for long periods or on bits of dry bread. He was constantly pursued. It is related that he would often double back and approach his pursuers from behind. When asked about that "deceiver Jacob," he would reply that he had seen him in the area the previous day. A reward was placed on his head, and the reward increased with time.

His peregrinating episcopate lasted for thirty-five years, from 542 until 577. It is claimed that in that time he consecrated two patriarchs, eighty-nine bishops, and approximately one hundred thousand priests. It is even claimed that Jacob entered Constantinople and there ordained twelve bishops. Whether these figures reflect reality is another question. What is a fact is that Jacob resuscitated an ecclesiastical division in very bad shape, that he strengthened the hierarchy immensely. There are numerous stories related of his miracles. For example, how he healed and even restored a dead youth to life by invoking the name of Jesus Christ and the Monophysite formula. "In the name of Jesus Christ, one indivisible nature that was crucified for us upon the cross, rise and walk!" Many of the miracles, typical of the time and the hagio — graphical tradition, stretch the imagination. One incident is worth relating. The people of Amida had relapsed to Chalcedonianism and had become lunatics. In despair, they sent for Jacob who told them that "if you are so mad as to say ‘two natures,’ naturally you go mad." Allegedly he was able to restore their sanity.

The name "Jacobite" was soon applied to the group of churches organized by Jacob. The name, in fact, was not entirely new, for Monophysites had previously described themselves as "Jacobites" but it was then a reference to their apostolic claim to the church of "Holy Jacob," James, the "brother of our Lord." Now, however, their opponents used the term in reference to them derisively, just as the group of Monophysites in Egypt were derisively referred to as "Theodosians." But it was also accepted by the faithful themselves and hence is used in both a positive and negative way.

About 547 Jacob had consecrated his syncellus Sergius as patriarch of Antioch. Sergius lived for only three years but during those years experienced no persecution. It appears that the emperor was not in a position to continue to fight every non-Chalcedonian consecration. When Sergius died, a new candidate was suggested by Theodosius at Theodora’s monastery. His candidate Paul, an Alexandrian by birth, had been a monk in Syria and then an abbot at a monastery on the Euphrates. Jacob approved of the choice and consecrated Paul with six other bishops assisting. As patriarch of Antioch Paul was Jacob’s superior but the formal and official relationship between the two remained undefined. Jacob still had his itinerant, peregrinating commission and had no intention of surrendering it. The monks still considered him their head, their leader — indeed, they referred to him as "our holy Patriarch Jacob." Jacob continued with his work and the Monophysites were being transformed from a dissenting group into a separate hierarchy, indeed a separate church.

 

John of Ephesus.

While Justinian was busy with the problem of the condemnation of the Three Chapters and with the Fifth Ecumenical Council, missionary work by the Monophysites continued, and not just by Jacob himself. John of Ephesus was extremely busy. In one area he destroyed a heathen temple and built, at the expense of the imperial treasury, twenty-four churches and four monasteries. At the consecration of each new church John of Ephesus had no qualms about reading — pro forma — a Chalcedonian proclamation to ensure the funding. Interestingly, John of Ephesus came upon a Montanist community in the deeps of Anatolia. One of the Montanist churches contained the bones of Montanus and John of Ephesus had them burned. He reports that some of these "schismatics" were so perverse that they threw themselves into the flames also.

 

Missionary Work in Nubia.

In the land of Nubia, now Sudan, there was missionary activity at the expense of the imperial treasury. At that time Nubia was outside the borders of the empire. Here there were two competing missionary activities, one of which was sponsored by Theodora, who took measures to be certain that her mission had the first and most secure possibility of success. Theodora’s mission set out before that of Justinian with a certain Julian as its head. Justinian’s delegation was constantly delayed by officials who were under Theodora’s influence. When they finally arrived at the court of the Nubian king, they found the Monophysite bishop securely installed there. The king politely told Justinian’s delegation that he had already received the true faith, thanked them, and dismissed them. These missionary activities took place before, during, and after the Fifth Ecumenical Council.

 

Justinian and the Fifth Ecumenical Council.

Pope Vigilius Forcibly Taken to Constantinople.

Justinian ordered Pope Vigilius to Constantinople, and then had the pope forcibly brought there. In the Latin West this was considered an intrigue by the Monophysites. Victor of Tunnuna in his Chronicle writes: "Justinianus imperator acephalorum subreptionibus instigatus, Vigilium Romanorum episcopum subtiliter compellit, ut ad urbem regiam properaret et sub specie congregationis eorum qui ab ecclesiae sunt societate divisi, tria capitula condemnaret" Vigilius seems to have arrived in Constantinople in late January of 547. He and Patriarch Menas could not agree and the result was mutual excommunication. Theophanes tells us in his Chronographia that one of the last official acts of Theodora was to reconcile Pope Vigilius and Patriarch Menas in June of 547. She died one year later. But before her death Pope Vigilius had signed the condemnation of the Three Chapters — his Judicatum, which he sent to Patriarch Menas in April of 548.

The Fifth Ecumenical Council.

Justinian considered an ecumenical council necessary to sanction his edicts against Origen and against Theodore, Theodoret, and Ibas. Pope Vigilius vigorously protested the opening of a council and refused to participate, although he was present in Constantinople. The Fifth Ecumenical Council opened about May in 553. The Acts have not come down to us in their original form. The work of the council was simplified since it in essence was convoked to sanction edicts already promulgated. The council condemned Origen, condemned the Three Chapters, and sanctioned the Theopaschite Formula. The Council lasted less than a month, for Justinian was extremely concerned that the decisions be expedited.

Theologically the council based its perspective on the doctrine of enhypostasis that had been developing in the sixth century, especially in the thought of John the Grammarian, Leontius of Jerusalem, and Leontius of Byzantium. In general, however, it would indeed be a mistake to limit the theological and doctrinal work of the first half of the sixth century to a restricted number of individuals. The Council of Chalcedon had caused such turmoil and disturbance that theological solutions were being sought in a variety of circles. The problem was to reconcile the definition of Chalcedon with the theology of St. Cyril — the two natures after the union and the oneness of Christ. The central point in the doctrine of enhypostasis is precisely that an essence — ουσία — is not without a person, not without a center of existence, not without an hypostasis — ανυπόστατος — and that Christ, of one essence with the Father and of one essence with humanity, had as his hypostasis, as his center of existence, his Divine, Eternal Hypostasis which provided the human nature the possibility of being enhypostasized — ένυπόστατος. The Antiochene school of theology had great difficulty in making a distinction between hypostasis and nature or essence. The doctrine of enhypostasis precisely meant that the center, the subject, of both the Divine nature and the human nature was the Eternal Logos of the Father — it is the Eternal Logos of the Father who as person experiences the life of the human nature, even to the point of being the subject who experiences the death of human nature. The central idea was that the Divine Logos hypostasized in his own hypostasisτη ιδία υποστάσει ένυπέστησεν. It is this thinking which dominates the theological thought of the Fifth Ecumenical Council and stands behind its anathemas.

The Anathemas of the Fifth Ecumenical Council.

1. If anyone shall not confess that the nature or essence — ουσία — of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is one, as also the force and the power; if anyone does not confess a consubstantial Trinity, one Godhead to be worshipped in three hypostases — υπόστασεις — or persons — πρόσωπα, let him be anathema. For there is but one God even the Father of whom are all things, and one Lord Jesus Christ through whom are all things, and one Holy Spirit in whom are all things.

2. If anyone shall not confess that the Logos of God has two births, one from all eternity from the Father, without time and without body, the other in these last days, coming down from heaven and being made flesh of the holy and glorious Mary, Theotokos and always a virgin, and born of her, let him be anathema.

3. If anyone shall say that there was one God the Logos who performed miracles and another Christ who suffered, or that God the Logos was with Christ when he was born of a woman, or was in him, as one person in another, and not that there was one and the same Lord Jesus Christ, incarnate and become man, and that the miracles and the sufferings which he endured voluntarily in the flesh pertained to the same person, let him be anathema.

4. If anyone shall say that the union of the Logos of God to man was only according to grace or energy, or dignity, or equality of honor, or authority, or relation, or effect, or power, or according to good pleasure in this sense that God the Logos was pleased with a man, that is to say, that he loved him for his own sake, as says the senseless Theodore, or [if anyone pretends that this union exists only] so far as likeness of name is concerned, as the Nestorians understand, who call also the Logos of God Jesus and Christ, and even accord to the man the names of Christ and Son, speaking thus clearly of two persons, and only designating disingenuously one Person and one Christ when the reference is to his honor, or his dignity, or his worship. If anyone shall not acknowledge as the Holy Fathers teach, that the union of God the Logos is made with the flesh animated by a reasonable and living soul, and that such union is made synthetically and hypostatically, and that therefore there is only one Person, namely: our Lord Jesus Christ, one of the Holy Trinity, let him be anathema. As a point of fact the word "union" — της ενώσεως — has many meanings and the followers of Apollinarius and Eutyches have affirmed that these natures are confounded inter se and have asserted a union produced by the mixture of both. On the other hand, the followers of Theodore and of Nestorius, rejoicing in the division of the natures, have taught only a relative union. Meanwhile, the Holy Church of God, condemning equally the impiety of both sorts of heresies, recognizes the union of God the Logos with the flesh according to synthesis; that is, according to hypostasis. For in the mystery of Christ the union of synthesis not only preserves unconfusedly the natures which are united but also allows no separation.

5. If anyone understands the expression "one only Person of our Lord Jesus Christ" in this sense, that it is the union of many hypostases, and if he attempts therefore to introduce into the mystery of Christ two hypostases, or two Persons, and, after having introduced two persons, speaks of one Person only out of dignity, honor or worship, as both Theodore and Nestorius insanely have written; if anyone shall calumniate the Holy Council of Chalcedon, pretending that it made use of this expression [one hypostasis] in this impious sense, and if he will not recognize rather that the Logos of God is united with the flesh hypostatically, and that therefore there is but one hypostasis or one only Person, and that the Holy Council of Chalcedon has professed in this sense the one Person of our Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema. For since one of the Holy Trinity has become man, that is, God the Logos, the Holy Trinity has not been increased by the addition of another person or hypostasis.

6. If anyone shall say that the holy, glorious, and ever-virgin Mary is called Theotokos by misuse of language and not truly, or by analogy, believing that only a mere man was born of her and that God the Logos was not incarnate of her, but that the Incarnation of God the Logos resulted only from the fact that he united himself to that man who was born [of her]; if anyone slanders the Holy Council of Chalcedon as though it had asserted the Virgin to be Theotokos according to the impious sense of Theodore; or if anyone shall call her anthropotokos — άνθρωποτόκον — or Christotokos — Χριστοτόκον, as if Christ were not God, and shall not confess that she is truly Theotokos because God the Logos who before all time was begotten of the Father was in these last days incarnate of her, and if anyone shall not confess that in this pious sense the Holy Council of Chalcedon confessed her to be Theotokos, let him be anathema.

7. If anyone using the expression "in two natures" does not confess that our one Lord Jesus Christ has been revealed in the divinity and in the humanity in order to indicate by that expression a difference of the natures of which an ineffable union is unconfusedly made, a union in which neither the nature of the Logos was changed into that of the flesh, nor that of the flesh into that of the Logos, for each remained what it was by nature, since the union was hypostatic; but shall take the expression with regard to the mystery of Christ in a sense so as to divide the parties, or recognizing the two natures in the only Lord Jesus, God the Logos become man, does not content himself with taking in a theoretical manner — τη θεωρία μόνη — the difference of the natures which compose him, which differentiation is not destroyed by the union between them, for one is composed of the two and the two are in one, but shall make use of the number [two] to divide the natures or to make of them Persons properly so called, let him be anathema.

8. If anyone uses the expression "out of two natures," confessing that a union was made of the Godhead and of the humanity, or the expression "the one nature become flesh of God the Logos," and shall not so understand those expressions as the Holy Fathers have taught, that is: that of the divine and human nature there was made an hypostatic union, of which is one Christ; but from these expressions shall try to introduce one nature or essence of the Godhead and the manhood of Christ, let him be anathema. For in teaching that the Only-Begotten Logos was united hypostatically [to humanity] we do not mean to say that there was made a mutual confusion of natures, but rather, each nature remaining what it was, we understand that the Logos was united to the flesh. Therefore there is one Christ, both God and Man, consubstantial with the Father in his Godhead and consubstantial with us in his manhood. Therefore they are equally condemned and anathematized by the Church of God, who divide or split the mystery of the divine oikonomia of Christ, or who introduce confusion into that mystery.

9. If anyone shall take the expression, Christ should be worshipped in his two natures, in the sense that he wishes to introduce therefore two adorations, the one in special relation to God the Logos and the other as pertaining to the man; or if anyone by destroying the flesh or by mixing together the divinity and the humanity, shall speak monstrously of one only nature or essence — φυσιν ήγουν ουσίαν — of the united natures, and so worship Christ, and does not venerate by one adoration God the Logos become man, together with his flesh, as the Holy Church has taught from the beginning, let him be anathema.

10. If anyone does not confess that our Lord Jesus Christ who was crucified in the flesh is true God and the Lord of Glory and one of the Holy Trinity, let him be anathema.

11. If anyone does not anathematize Arms, Eunomius, Macedonius, Apollinarius, Nestorius, Eutyches, and Origen, as well as their impious writings, as also all other heretics already condemned and anathematized by the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, and by the aforesaid four Holy Councils and all those who have held and hold or who in their impiety persist in holding to the end the same opinion as those heretics just mentioned, let him be anathema.

12. If anyone defends the impious Theodore of Mopsuestia, who has said that the Logos of God is one person, but that another person is Christ, vexed by the sufferings of the soul and the desires of the flesh, and separated little by little above that which is inferior, and become better by the progress in good works and irreproachable in his manner of life, as a mere man was baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and obtained by this baptism the grace of the Holy Spirit, and became worthy of Sonship, and to be worshipped out of regard to the Person of God the Logos (just as one worships the image of an emperor) and that he is become, after the resurrection, unchangeable in his thoughts and altogether without sin. And, again, this same impious Theodore has also said that the union of God the Logos with Christ is like to that which, according to the doctrine of the Apostle, exists between a man and his wife, ‘they shall be one flesh.’ The same Theodore has dared, among numerous other blasphemies, to say that when after the resurrection the Lord breathed upon his disciples, saying, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit,’ he did not really give them the Holy Spirit but that he breathed upon them only as a sign. He likewise has said that the profession of faith made by Thomas when he had, after the resurrection, touched the hands and the side of the Lord; that is, ‘My Lord and My God,’ was not said in reference to Christ, but that Thomas, filled with wonder at the miracle of the resurrection, in this manner thanked God who had raised up Christ. And, moreover, which is still more scandalous, this same Theodore in his Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles compares Christ to Plato, Mani, Epicurus, and Marcion, and says that as each of these men, having discovered his own doctrine, had given his name to his disciples, who were called Platonists, Manichaeans, Epicureans, and Marcionites, just so Christ, having discovered his doctrine, had given the name of Christians to his disciples. If, then, anyone shall defend this most impious Theodore and his impious writings, in which he vomits the blasphemies mentioned above, and countless others besides against our Great God and Savior Jesus Christ, and if anyone does not anathematize him or his impious writings, as well as all those who protect or defend him, or assert that his exegesis is orthodox, or who write in favor of him and of his impious works, or those who share the same opinions, or those who have shared them and still continue until the end in this heresy, let him be anathema.

13. If anyone shall defend the impious writings of Theodoret, directed against the true faith and against the first holy council of Ephesus and against St. Cyril and his Twelve Anathemas, and [defends] that which he has written in defense of the impious Theodore and Nestorius, and of others having the same opinions as the aforesaid Theodore and Nestorius, if anyone admits them or their impiety, or shall give the name of impious to the doctors of the Church who profess the hypostatic union of God the Logos; and if anyone does not anathematize these impious writings and those who have held or who hold these sentiments, and all those who have written contrary to the true faith or against St. Cyril and his Twelve Anathemas, and who die in their impiety, let him be anathema.

14. If anyone shall defend that letter which Ibas is said to have written to Maris the Persian, in which he denies that the Logos of God incarnate of Mary the Holy Theotokos and ever-virgin, became man, but says that a mere man was born of her, whom he styles a Temple, as though the Logos of God was one Person and the man another person; in which letter also he reprehends St. Cyril as a heretic when he teaches the right faith of Christians and charges him with writing things like to the wicked Apollinarius. In addition to this, he vituperates the First Holy Council of Ephesus, affirming that it deposed Nestorius without discrimination and without examination. The aforesaid impious letter styles the Twelve Chapters of Cyril of blessed memory, impious and contrary to the right faith and defends Theodore and Nestorius and their impious teachings and writings. If anyone therefore shall defend the aforementioned letter and shall not anathematize it and those who defend it and say that it is right or that a part of it is right, or if anyone shall defend those who have written or shall write in its favor, or in defense of the impieties which are contained in it, as well as those who shall presume to defend it or the impieties which it contains in die name of the Holy Fathers or of the Holy Council of Chalcedon, and shall remain in these offenses until the end, let him be anathema.

Anathemas Against Origen and Origenism.

1. If anyone asserts the incredible pre-existence of souls, and shall assert the monstrous restoration which follows from it, let him be anathema.

2 If any shall say that the creation — την παραγωγήν — of all reasonable things includes only intelligences — νοας — without bodies and altogether immaterial, having neither number nor name, so that there is unity between them all by identity of substance, force and energy, and by their union with and knowledge of God the Logos; but that no longer desiring the sight of God, they gave themselves over to worse things, each one following his own inclinations, and that they have taken bodies more or less subtile, and have received names, for among the heavenly Powers there is a difference of names as there is also a difference of bodies; and thence some became and are called Cherubims, others Seraphims, and Principalities, and Powers, and Dominions, and Thrones, and Angels, and as many other heavenly orders as there may be, let him be anathema.

3. If anyone shall say that the sun, the moon and the stars are also reasonable beings, and that they have only become what they are because they turned towards evil, lei: him be anathema.

4. If anyone shall say that the reasonable creatures in whom the Divine love had grown cold have been hidden in gross bodies such as ours, and have been called men, while those who have attained the lowest degree of wickedness have shared cold and obscure bodies and have become and are called demons and evil spirits, let him be anathema.

5. If anyone shall say that a psychic — ψυχίκήν — condition has come from an angelic or archangelic state, and moreover that a demoniac and a human condition has come from a psychic condition, and that from a human state they may become again angels and demons, and that each order of heavenly virtues is either all from those below or from those above, or from those above and below, let him be anathema.

6. If anyone shall say that there is a two-fold race of demons, of which the one includes the souls of men and the other the superior spirits who fell to this, and that of all the number of reasonable beings there is but one which has remained unshaken in the love and contemplation of God, and that that spirit is become Christ and the king of all reasonable beings, and that he has created all the bodies which exist in heaven, on earth, and between heaven and earth; and that the world which has in itself elements more ancient than itself, and which exist by themselves; that is, dryness, damp, heat and cold, and the image — ιδέαν — to which it was formed, was so formed, and that the most holy and consubstantial Trinity did not create the world, but that it was created by the working intelligence — νους δημιουργός — which is more ancient than the world, and which communicates to it its being, let him be anathema.

7. If anyone shall say that Christ, of whom it is said that he appeared in the form of God, and that he was united before all time with God the Logos, and humbled himself in these last days even to humanity, had (according to their expression) pity upon the various falls which had appeared in the spirits united in the same unity (of which he himself is part), and that to restore them he passed through various classes, had different bodies and different names, became all to all, an Angel among Angels, a Power among Powers, has clothed himself in the different classes of reasonable beings with a form corresponding to that class, and finally has taken flesh and blood like ours and is become man for men; [if anyone says all this] and does not profess that God the Logos humbled himself and became man, let him be anathema.

8. If anyone shall not acknowledge that God the Logos, of the same essence with the Father and the Holy Spirit, and who became flesh and became man, one of the Trinity, is Christ in every sense of the word, but shall affirm that he is so only in an inaccurate manner, and because of the abasement — κενώσαντα, as they call it, of the intelligence — νους, if anyone shall affirm that this intelligence united — συνημμένον — to God the Logos, is the Christ in the true sense of the word, while the Logos is only called Christ because of this union with the intelligence, and in reverse, that the intelligence is only called God because of the Logos, let him be anathema.

9. If anyone shall say that it was not the Divine Logos become man by taking an animated body with a ψυχή λογική and νοερα, that he descended into hell and ascended into heaven, but shall pretend that it is the νους which has done this, that νους of which they say — in an impious manner — he is Christ properly so called, and that he is become so by the knowledge of the monad, let him be anathema.

10. If anyone shall say that after the resurrection the body of the Lord was ethereal, having the form of a sphere, and that such shall be the bodies of all after the resurrection; and that after the Lord himself shall have rejected his true body and after the others who rise shall have rejected theirs, the nature of their bodies shall be annihilated, let him be anathema.

11. If anyone shall say that the future judgment signifies the destruction of the body and that the end of the story will be an immaterial φύσις, and that therefore there will no longer be any matter but only spirit — νους, let him be anathema.

12. If anyone shall say that the heavenly Powers and all men and the devil and evil spirits are united with the Logos of God in all respects, as the νους which is by them called Christ and which is in the form of God, and which humbled itself as they say; and if anyone shall say that the Kingdom of Christ shall have an end, let him be anathema.

13. If anyone shall say that Christ [as νους] is in no wise different from other reasonable beings, neither substantially nor by wisdom nor by his power and might over all things but that all will be placed at the right hand of God, as well as he that is called by them Christ [as νους], as also they were in the feigned pre-existence of all things, let him be anathema.

14. If anyone shall say that all reasonable beings will one day be united in one, when the hypostases as well as the numbers and the bodies shall have disappeared, and that the knowledge of the world to come will carry with it the ruin of the worlds, and the rejection of bodies as also the abolition of names, and that there shall be finally an identity of the χνωσις of the hypostasis; moreover, that in this pretended apokatastasis, spirits only will continue to exist, as it was in the feigned pre-existence, let him be anathema.

15. If anyone shall say that the life of the spirits — shall be like to the life which was in the beginning while as yet the spirits had not come down or fallen, so that the end and the beginning shall be alike, and that the end shall be the true measure of the beginning, let him be anathema.

Pope Vigilius and the Fifth Ecumenical Council.

The Fifth Ecumenical Council attempted to restore a sorely needed unity in the external structure of the Church. By condemning the Three Chapters, an attempt was made to bring Alexandria back to the external structure of the Church — there was also the recognition of St. Cyril. By condemning Origen and Origenist notions, an attempt was made to placate both Rome and the Antiochene tradition. But now the major obstacle was the adamant stand of Pope Vigilius, who, though he was in Constantinople, refused to attend the council. While all this is taking place the non-Chalcedonians are continuing their missionary work and new divisions begin to appear among the non-Chalcedonians.

At first when Pope Vigilius had been forcibly brought to Constantinople, he refused to agree to condemn the Three Chapters, especially because of the question of posthumous condemnation. When he did consent, it is important to point out that he did so by stipulating that it was to be without any injury to the Council of Chalcedon. This equivocation satisfied neither the opponents of Chalcedon nor the defenders of Chalcedon in Africa, Illyrium, and Dalmatia. The bishops of Africa excommunicated Pope Vigilius in 551. The sources indicate that the idea of the ecumenical council was not only that of Justinian but also that of Pope Vigilius. Indeed, it may well be that it was Pope Vigilius was asked for the council to which Justinian quickly consented. Vigilius was distressed by the condemnations against him. He withdrew his signature to the Three Chapters and it was decided that the council would deliberate on the matter. The adamant stance of Pope Vigilius is often misunderstood by both the Latin West and the East. He refused to attend the council primarily because he objected to the fact that the West was not adequately represented. What is historically significant is that Vigilius was told that there ere more representatives of the Latin West now than at any of the previous councils. Why Pope Vigilius did not take the extreme Roman view, already in existence at that time, that he by himself could represent not only the entire Latin West but the entire Church remains unclear. He did, however, send his opinion on the Three Chapters to the council, an opinion which opposed their condemnation. The council brushed aside his opinion, examined the writings of the three persons to be condemned — Theodore, Theodoret, and Ibas — and ultimately pronounced condemnation on the Three Chapters as doctrine which was opposed to previous councils, especially that of the Council of Chalcedon, now solemnly recognized as ecumenical and of the same solemn and sacred character as Nicaea, Constantinople, and Ephesus. Extracts from the council provide some background.

"The effort of my predecessors, the orthodox emperors, always aimed at the settling of controversies which had arisen respecting the faith by the calling of councils. For this reason Constantine assembled three hundred and eighteen Fathers at Nicaea, and was himself present at the Council and assisted those who confessed the Son to be of one essence with the Father. Theodosius [assembled] one hundred and fifty [bishops] at Constantinople; Theodosius the Younger1 [convoked] the Council of Ephesus, and Emperor Marcian [assembled] the bishops at Chalcedon. As, however, after Marcian’s death controversies respecting the Council of Chalcedon had broken out in several places, Emperor Leo wrote to all bishops of all places in order that everyone might declare his opinion in writing with regard to this Holy Council. Soon afterwards, however, the adherents of Nestorius and Eutyches had again arisen and caused great divisions so that many churches had broken off communion with one another. When, now, the grace of God raised us to the throne, we regarded it as our main goal to unite the churches again, and to bring the Council of Chalcedon, together with the three previous councils, to ecumenical acceptance. We have won many who previously opposed that Council. Others, who persevered in their opposition, we banished, and in that way restored the unity of the Church again. But the Nestorians wanted to impose their heresy upon the Church. And, as they could not use Nestorius for that purpose, they made haste to introduce their errors through Theodore of Mopsuestia, the teacher of Nestorius, who taught still more grievous blasphemies than his. He maintained, for example, that God the Logos was one and Christ another. For the same purpose they made use of those impious writings of Theodoret which were directed against the first Council of Ephesus, against Cyril and his Twelve Chapters, and also the shameful letter which Ibas is said to have written. They maintain that this letter was accepted by the Council of Chalcedon, and so would free from condemnation Nestorius and Theodore who were commended in that letter. If they were to succeed, the Logos could no longer be said to have "become man" nor Mary called the Theotokos. We, therefore, following the holy Fathers, have first asked you in writing to give your judgment on the three impious chapters named, and you have answered, and have joyftilly confessed the true faith. Because, however, after the condemnation coming from you, there are still some who defend the Three Chapters, therefore we have summoned you to the capital that you may here, in common assembly, place again your view in the light of day. When, for example, Vigilius, Pope of Old Rome, came here, he, in response to our questions, repeatedly anathematized in writing the Three Chapters and confirmed his steadfastness in this view by much, even by the condemnation of his deacons, Rusticus and Sebastian. We possess still his declarations in his own hand. Then he issued his Judicatum, in which he anathematized the Three Chapters with the words, Et quoniam … You know that he not only deposed Rusticus and Sebastian because they defended die Three Chapters but also wrote to Valentinian, bishop of Scythia, and Aurelian, bishop of Aries, that nothing might be undertaken against the Judicatum When you afterwards came here at my invitation, letters were exchanged between you and Vigilius in order to have a common assembly. But now he had changed his view and would no longer have a council but rather required that only the three patriarchs and one other bishop (in communion with the Pope and the three bishops about him) should decide the matter. In vain we sent several commands to him to take part in the council. He rejected also our two proposals, either to call a tribunal for decision or to hold a smaller assembly at which, besides him and his three bishops, every other patriarch should have place and voice, with from three to five bishops of his diocese."

"We further declare that we hold fast to the decrees of the four Councils and in every way follow the holy Fathers, Athanasius, Hilary, Basil, Gregory the Theologian, Gregory of Nyssa, Ambrose, Theophilus, John (Chrysostom) of Constantinople, Cyril, Augustine, Proclus, Leo and their writings on the true faith. As, however, the heretics are resolved to defend Theodore of Mopsuestia and Nestorius with their impieties, and maintain that that letter of Ibas was received by the Council of Chalcedon, so do we exhort you to direct your attention to the impious writings of Theodore, and especially to his Jewish Creed which was brought forward at Ephesus and Chalcedon, and anathematized by each council with those who had so held or did so hold. And we further exhort you to consider what the holy Fathers have written concerning him and his blasphemies, as well as what our predecessors have promulgated, as also what the Church historians have set forth concerning him. You will therefore see that he and his heresies have since been condemned and that therefore his name has long since been struck from the diptychs of the Church of Mopsuestia. Consider the absurd assertion that heretics ought not to be anathematized after their deaths; and we exhort you further to follow in this matter the doctrine of the holy Fathers, who condemned not only living heretics but also anathematized after their death those who had died in their iniquity, just as those who had been unjustly condemned they restored after their death and wrote their names in the sacred diptychs — which took place in the case of John and of Flavian of pious memory, both of them bishops of Constantinople. Moreover, we exhort you to examine the writing of Theodoret and the supposed letter of Ibas in which the Incarnation of the Logos is denied, the expression Theotokos and the Holy Council of Ephesus rejected, Cyril called a heretic, and Theodore and Nestorius defended and praised. And since they say that the Council of Chalcedon has accepted this letter, you must compare the declarations of this Council relating to the faith with the contents of the impious letter. Finally, we entreat you to accelerate the matter. For he who when asked concerning the right faith, puts off his answer for a long while, does nothing else but deny the right faith. For in questioning and answering on things which are of faith, it is not he who is found first or second, but he who is the more ready with a right confession that is acceptable to God."

Extracts from the seventh session of the council shed more light on the inner workings.

"You know how much care the most invincible Emperor has always had that the contention raised up by certain persons with regard to the Three Chapters should have a termination … For this intent he has required the most religious Vigilius to assemble with you and draw up a decree on this matter in accordance with the orthodox faith. Although Vigilius has already frequently condemned the Three Chapters in writing and has done this also by word of mouth in the presence of the emperor and of the most glorious judges and of many members of this council, and has always been ready to smite with anathema the defenders of Theodore of Mopsuestia, and the letter which was attributed to Ibas, and the writings of Theodoret which he sei forth against the orthodox faith and against the Twelve Chapters of the holy Cyril, yet he has refused to do this in communion with you and your council."

"Yesterday Vigilius sent Servus Dei, a most reverend subdeacon of the Roman church, and invited [a list of consuls and bishops follows] to come to him as he wished to give through them an answer to the emperor. They went but quickly returned and informed the most pious lord that we had visited Vigilius, the most religious bishop, and that he had said to us: ‘We have called you for this reason, that you may know what things have been done in the past days. To this end I have written a document about the disputed Three Chapters, addressed to the most pious emperor [the Constitutum], pray be good enough to read it, and to carry it to his Serenity.’ But when we had heard this and had seen the document written to your serenity, we said to him that we could not by any means receive any document written to the most pious emperor without his request. ‘But you have deacons for carrying messages and can send it by them.’ He, however, said to us: ‘You now know that I have made the document.’ But we bishops answered him: ‘If your

Sketches in the History of Monophysitism 161 Blessedness is willing to meet together with us and the most holy patriarchs, and the most religious bishops, and to treat the Three Chapters and to give, in unison with us all a suitable form of the orthodox faith, as the Holy Apostles and the holy Fathers and the four Councils have done, we will hold you as our head, as a father and primate. But if your Holiness has drawn up a document for the emperor, you have message carriers, as we have said, send it by them.’ And when he had heard these things from us, he sent Servus Dei, the subdeacon, who now awaits the answer of your Serenity. And when his Piety had heard this, he commanded through the abovementioned subdeacon to carry back this message to the most religious Vigilius: ‘We invited you to meet together with the most blessed patriarchs and the other religious bishops, and with them in common to examine and judge the Three Chapters. But since you have refused to do this, and you say that you alone have written by yourself somewhat on the Three Chapters,’ if you have condemned them in accordance with those things which you did before, we have already many such statements and need no more; but if you have written now something contrary to these things which were done by you before, you have condemned yourself by your own writing, since you have departed from orthodox doctrine and have defended impiety. And how can you expect us to receive such a document from you?’ "

"Constantine, the most glorious Quaestor, said: ‘While I am still present at your holy council by reason of the reading of the documents which have been presented to you, I would say that the most pious Emperor has sent a minute to your holy council concerning the name of Vigilius, that this name be no more inserted in the holy diptychs of the Church because of the impiety which he defended. Neither let his name be recited by you nor retained, either in the church of the imperial city or in other churches which are entrusted to you and to the other bishops in the empire committed by God to his rule. And when you hear this minute, again you perceive by it how much the most serene Emperor cares for the unity of the holy churches and for the purity of the holy mysteries."

 

The Deposing of Pope Vigilius by the Fifth Ecumenical Council.

The Constitutum by Pope Vigilius referred to above is his Constitutum of May 14, 553 which was rejected by Justinian because it was not explicit enough in its condemnation of the Three Chapters. Vigilius finally satisfied the imperial will by a new Constitutum in February of 554. It is clear that from the date of Justinian’s "minute" [formam] Pope Vigilius was considered deposed by the council. That his name was removed from the diptychs certainly constitutes deposition and may well be interpreted as excommunication. Whether the Fifth Ecumenical Council considered this deposition only and not excommunication is subject to controversy. It is, in any event, highly unlikely that the removal of Pope Vigilius’ name from the diptychs constituted a break of communion from the Roman church. There was still a distinction made between the person of the bishop of Rome and the Roman see — non sedem sed sedentem. Ultimately, however, approval was given to the Fifth Ecumenical Council by Pope Vigilius — whether this approval was forced or insincere is not the issue.

The Earlier Years of Pope Pelagius and His Ultimate

Recognition of the Fifth Ecumenical Council.

The Fifth Ecumenical Council was also affirmed by Pope Vigilius’ successor Pope Pelagius I (556-561), who had also accompanied Pope Agapetus to Constantinople and who, of course, had strong ties with Constantinople, for he had participated in the council of 536 and had served in the capital as Pope Vigilius’ apocrisiarius.

Pelagius had also been sent to Constantinople by Totila to negotiate a peace with Justinian, a mission in which he was unsuccessful. But he stayed in Constantinople with Pope Vigilius. When Vigilius attempted his second escape — from the papal residence to the church of St. Euphemia in Chalcedon — Pelagius was with him (December, 551). He returned to Constantinople from Chalcedon with Vigilius in February of 552 and was strongly influential in supporting Vigilius’ firm stand. He contributed to the composition of Vigilius’ first Constitutum and strongly advised Pope Vigilius not to attend the Fifth Ecumenical Council. After the council condemned and deposed Pope Vigilius, Pelagius left Vigilius’ company when it became apparent that Vigilius was going to succumb to the imperial will. Pelagius — and the deacon Sarpatus — were excommunicated by Vigilius which rnnted Pelagius to write a Refutatorium against Vigilius. Pelagius sent a copy to Justinian, who did not react favorably to a that condemned the emperor and the council. Justinian arrested and imprisoned in different monasteries. It was here in confinement that Pelagius wrote his In defensione rium capitulorum, patterned after a similar work by Facundus of Ηermiane. The In defensione trium capitulorum was also a futation of Pope Vigilius’ second Constitutum, the work by Vigilius which finally condemned the Three Chapters. Pelagius accused Vigilius of succumbing to the imperial will, of betraying Pope Leo I, of betraying the Council of Chalcedon, and of condemning unjustly Theodore, Theodoret, and Ibas. When the news of Vigilius’ death reached Constantinople, Justinian released Pelagius and reached an understanding with him which resulted in Pelagius’ return to Rome as the successor to Vigilius, an act which caused further scandal in the Latin Church — described by Facundus in his De fide (Patrologia Latina 67, 867-868). A schism was created in the Latin Church which lasted until 698 with Aquileia. Pope Pelagius I had schismatic problems with the northern Italian bishops of Tuscany, Liguria, and Venetia, as well as with Istria. The exchange of letters between Pope Pelagius I and Sapaudus, the papal vicar and bishop of Aries, give a vivid account of Pelagius’ views. In one of his letters to Sapaudus he explains the difficulties he had in Constantinople in keeping the true faith. Now that an ecumenical council had spoken there was no further resistance, he writes. He explains his own change of view as the recognition of one’s mistakes which is the correct attitude according to both Scripture and the tradition of the fathers — he mentions specifically St. Augustine. In a letter to the bishops of Istria Pope Pelagius I maintained that no local council could judge an ecumenical council — he claimed, somewhat exaggeratedly, that four thousand bishops had accepted the Fifth Ecumenical Council.

The Result of the Fifth Ecumenical Council and a Glimpse at Its Sessions.

In a little less than one month the Fifth Ecumenical Council reached its decisions. It is not wholly accurate to see in this council simply an attempt to paciiy the Monophysites. Indeed, the [jasic problem was that the definition of the Council of Chalcedon α been crying out for clarification — what many regarded as a self-contradictory council had to be resolved.

It is clear that most of the time of the first two sessions was consumed by attempts to bring Pope Vigilius to the council. At the third session a confession of faith was made which was based on the introductory speech by Justinian. To this there was added an anathema against anyone who separated himself from the Church — it is obviously Vigilius to whom they refer. The fourth session examined seventy excerpts from the writings of Theodore of Mopsuestia and condemned them. In the fifth session the problem of condemning someone posthumously was discussed and it was decided to condemn both the writings and the person of Theodore of Mopsuestia. At this same session the writings of Theodoret against St. Cyril were examined and the council expresses surprise that the Council of Chalcedon had exonerated Theodoret — he was "rehabilitated" only after his explicit repudiation of Nestorius. At the sixth session the reputation of Ibas of Edessa was discussed, along with the infamous Letter to Maris. The decision was that Ibas was not the author of the letter and that his exoneration by the Council of Chalcedon was valid. The seventh session is the one which contains Justinian’s description of his dealings with Pope Vigilius. At the eighth session a doctrinal statement and fourteen anathemas were accepted. The Fifth Ecumenical Council was not acceptable to the Monophysites — especially the eighth anathema which clearly delineated the boundary between Monophysitism and a Cyrillian interpretation of the Council of Chalcedon.

 

The Firm Resistance to Justinian’s Stunning Edict
of 564 Proclaiming Aphthartodocetism Orthodox.

Whatever his own personal interpretation of Christology might have become, Justinian did nothing overtly to foster his own developing position — nothing, that is, until 564. Suddenly he stunned the Church with an issuance of an edict which was an expression of the extremist position within Monophysitism, a position that had been condemned by Monophysite theologians such as Philoxenus — Justinian decreed Aphthartodocetism to be orthodox, the belief that the humanity our Lord assumed was incorruptible and hence unlike our humanity, the doctrine of Julian of Halicarnassus. Justinian’s advisor on theological matters had been Theodore Askidas but when the latter died in January of 558 an unnamed bishop from Joppa in Palestine succeeded Theodore, referred to in the sources as a "stupid" man. Immediately Patriarch Eutychius of Constantinople refused to sign the edict. Justinian had Eutychius arrested and deposed a week later by a council.

Eutychius was celebrating the liturgy when Justinian’s police A Aetherius came to arrest him — he was permitted to complete the liturgy before being led away. After his quick condemnation by a council, Eutychius was sent to the island of Prinkipo. Eutychius spend the next twelve years in exile — though he was later permitted to serve his exile on his own estate and in his own monastery at Amasea. The other patriarchs of the East resisted also — Apolinarius of Alexandria, Anastasius of Antioch, and Macarius of Jerusalem. Indeed, Anastasius of Antioch had the imperial edict condemned by a council in Antioch. It is true that at first Anastasius did not reject the edict outright, declaring that he would accept it if "incorruptible" were to be the equivalent of "impeccable." When Anastasius’ requested interpretation was rejected, Anastasius responded by declaring that if the humanity of Christ was not consubstantial with our humanity, then the Incarnation was devoid of all meaning. He was ready for his deposition when news arrived that Emperor Justinian had died. His successor, Emperor Justin II (565-578), revoked the edict at once.

 

The Twilight of Justinian’s Reign.

The last twelve years of Justinian’s reign saw a reversal of his achievements in the "miraculous" year of 553. In that year the long war with the Goths was finally won by the general Narses, Vigilius had finally given in, and the empire had succeeded in regaining much territory in Visigothic Spain. All was to be lost in the remaining years of Justinian’s reign. Illyricum would also be lost — the Avars, Lombards, and Slavs would penetrate the imperial borders. Still, at the time of the death of Justinian few would have imagined that the Monophysite Christians would later become so disenchanted with "Chalcedonian" imperial rule that they would somehow prefer the Arab invasions.

Justinian had lived long enough to put another patriarch on the throne of Constantinople, John of Sirmium, known as John ocholasticus. For the duration of Justin II’s reign and through the reign of his successor, Tiberius II (578-582) the Chalcedonians and the non-Chalcedonians were still on speaking terms and therewas still the hope of the possibility of some type of reconciliation. The head of non-Chalcedonian Egypt was still Theodosius, still residing in Theodora’s monastery for exiles in Constantinople. Letters to Theodosius were addressed to him as "ecumenical patriarch." Justin II did nothing to alter this — indeed, Justin II would receive him with all the honor that belonged to a patriarch, and Justin II’s wife, Sophia, the niece of Theodora, was thought to be a follower of Theodosius.

 

The Actions of the Exiled Monophysite
"Patriarch" Theodosius in His Last Days.

About 567 Theodosius, knowing that his death was approaching, began to initiate new steps to regulate the affairs of his church. He had also begun to distrust Jacob — something had happened in Egypt, the precise nature of which is not reported something apparently caused by Jacob. Theodosius, the very person who had previously commissioned Jacob with the authority to act as his representative even in Egypt, now in essence began to rescind this authority. Theodosius began to give authority to Paul "the Black" of Antioch to ordain priests and deacons for Alexandria and to ordain Longinus as bishop for Nubia. Egypt, which during the times of St. Athanasius and St. Cyril had’ approximately more than one hundred bishops, now had only a handful. In his final episcopal letter Theodosius underscored the desperate need for bishops, something he had postponed because of his continued hope that he would return to Alexandria where he himself could ordain bishops. Now, however, all must obey Paul as they had obeyed him, and Paul would supply them with bishops. It is reported that he died just as he had finished dictating the letter and before he could affix his seal — he died in June of 566. Athanasius, a monk, delivered the funeral oration, an oration which Michael the Syrian in his Chronicle (10, 1) describes as condemning Chalcedon.

 

Justin II’s Convocation of the Monophysite Conference of 566.

The non-Chalcedonian movement had now become a separate church within the empire. In 566 Justin II made an attempt to reconcile the Monophysites with the Chalcedonians. He convoked a conference at which even Jacob was present — indeed, it appears that the initiative for the convocation of this conference had come from Sophia. In Constantinople, under the oversight of Patriarch John Scholasticus, the Chalcedonians met with two groups of non-Chalcedonians. Similar meetings took place between monks and clergy. It appears as though a temporary reconciliation took place between two Monophysite factions. Michael the Syrian relates that the Monophysites proposed a compromise which, it accepted, would have restored a unity between them and the Chalcedonians. Yet, if one takes this compromise seriously, then lear that it was in reality no compromise. Rather, it proposed that the Chalcedonians capitulate. The proposed compromise isted of the following: the expression "out of two natures" would have to be accepted; "not of two natures" would have to be added to "not two sons, not two persons, not two hypostases;" St. Cyril’s Twelve Anathemas must be declared canonical; the Henotikon, interpreted in Severian terms, would suffice as ondemnatory of Chalcedon; and Severus’ name would have to be restored to the diptychs. This was more akin to unconditional surrender than to compromise. What is surprising, however, is that the Monophysites claimed that they were willing, provided these terms were accepted, to be in communion with Anastasius of Antioch — indeed, this would have meant that they were ready to circumvent the recently ordained bishop and patriarch, Paul "the Black." What may account for this willingness is the fact that Paul "the Black" was not on good terms with Justin II, whereas Anastasius, although a Chalcedonian, remained on good terms personally with most of the non-Chalcedonians and in his work against John Philoponus he was already using the term of "one energy" in Christ.

 

The Monophysite Conference at Callinicum.

Justin II empowered the comes orientales and Patrician John to continue with the dialogue in Callinicum on the Euphrates. The meeting, which probably took place in 568, was attended by numerous monks and clergy. What John brought with him was an edict that based the faith on the Council of Nicaea, claimed that Christ was "out of two natures, one hypostasis," contained an anathema against the Three Chapters, abolished the edict against Severus, and all anathemas starting from the time of St. Cyril. The text of this edict is contained only in the source by Michael the Syrian — his Chronicle (10, 2). Again this was not compromise but capitulation. Although the bishops present seemed optimistic, the monks began to clamor. They allegedly ripped up the edict, created a riot and walked out of the talks. The events, as related by Michael the Syrian, give an interesting glimpse at Jacob. Michael, a Monophysite Patriarch, was not opposed to Jacob. If the source were written by a Chalcedonian, one would have to be more sceptical. The bishops were infuriated with the unruly monks. John wanted to continue the dialogue despite "the anger of a few ignorant monks." Michael the Syrian relates that Jacob offered to attempt to persuade the monks to return.

But, once in the company of the monks, that element of his personality and character which had distressed Theodosius in his later years, revealed itself again. Jacob joined the monks and anathematized the meeting and all those participating. John is said to have reported to Constantinople that "it is useless to attempt to reconcile men like this" and broke off the negotiations. He was cursed by the monks as a deceiver and, when he died shortly thereafter, the monks interpreted it as a sign of divine judgment on him.

 

The Imperial Summons for Another Conference
Among the Monophysites at Constantinople.

Justin, though distressed at the chaotic and unsuccessful meeting, made another attempt to achieve union with the Monophysites. He summoned the bishops to Constantinople for another conference. Jacob, of course, excused himself from attending. The bishops who attended condemned Paul "the Black" of Antioch — for what reason is not specifically known, though it appears to be connected with his work in Egypt. Paul "the Black" had returned to Syria from Egypt in about 566. That next year he was back in Constantinople to participate in the negotiations. Michael the Syrian relates that he and other non-Chalcedonian bishops entered communion with the Chalcedonians in 571 under the belief that the Council of Chalcedon was to be annulled. Now the divisions among the non-Chalcedonians become more apparent, divisions which began much earlier — indeed, they actually begin with the definition of faith by the Council of Chalcedon.

 

The Varieties of Monophysite Thought.

During the time of Proterius John the Rhetorician combined ideas from both Nestorius and Eutyches to produce the idea that "God the Logos was wrapped in the body as if a seed" and that "if he suffered, then he suffered in his divine nature." Shortly thereafter Timothy Aelurus wrote from exile to condemn the thought of Isaiah of Hermopolis and a Theophilus of Alexandria -they had taught that "our Lord and God Jesus Christ was by nature different from us in the flesh, that he was not consubstantial with mankind, and was not truly man."

Then there arose the controversy between Severus and Julian of Halicarnassus and Julian’s followers proclaimed the doctrine of the incorruptibility of the humanity of our Lord and the faction of the Aphthartodocetists came into existence. Often one could find among the former fathers some who taught a similar view. In the case of Julian it must be mentioned that St. Hilary of Poitiers wrote in his De Trinitate (10, 22) that the human soul of Christ could only have come directly from God and therefore could not have been in reality human — "but as he by his own act assumed a body from the Virgin, so he assumed from himself a soul; though even in ordinary human birth the soul is never derived from the parents. If, then, the Virgin received from God alone the flesh which she conceived, far more certain is it that the soul of that body can have come from God alone." St. Hilary also anticipates to some extent the position of Julian in the same work (10, 23) — "when in this humanity he was struck with blows or smitten with wounds or bound with ropes or lifted on high, he felt the force of the suffering but without its pain ... So our Lord Jesus Christ suffered blows, hanging, crucifixion, and death — but the suffering which attacked the body of the Lord, without ceasing to be suffering, had not the natural effect of suffering. It exercised its function of punishment with all its violence, but the body of Christ by its virtue suffered the violence of the punishment without its consciousness... He had a body to suffer and he suffered, but he had not a nature which could feel pain, for his body possessed a unique nature of its own; it was transformed into heavenly glory on the Mount, it put fevers to flight by its touch, it gave new eyesight by its spittle." Indeed, Julian was convinced that he was basing his view on the thought of the "fathers." Writing to Severus, Julian makes his position clear: "Some say that the body of Christ was corruptible. I am certain that you will agree with my rebuttle to them, and I attach what I have written to correct their error. My position is merely that of the Fathers, those holy men who could neither contradict themselves nor each other. And St. Cyril says of the humanity of Christ, ‘corruption could never take hold of it.’" It should be mentioned that there is a distinction between "corruption" never being able to take hold of the humanity of Christ and the doctrine that the humanity of our Lord was always "incorruptible," a distinction which is precisely ontological. As related previously, the controversy between Severus and Julian, although starting in a friendly vein, became a tumultuous battle, one that broke their friendship and split the Monophysites into two factions. Indeed, Severus wrote to Justinian that Julian was a danger to the "public," that he had become a Manichee, that he held "the Passion itself as unreal." The ultimate result of this controversy was that the followers of Julian, with the assistance of Julian, established their own hierarchy which continued to exist separately until approximately 800 with its own patriarchs of Alexandria and Antioch.

During the period when the Monophysites were left somewhat undisturbed by the imperial arm, from 540 until about 570, personal disputes caused further factions. One faction was the Agnoetae — from αγνοέω. They were also known as Themistians, from the founder of their Monophysite faction, Themistius, a sixth century deacon of Alexandria and a student of Severus. Their basic position was in maintaining that the humanity of Christ was "ignorant." Another group, the Niobites, professed a belief in a distinction of natures after the union but refused to accept the expression "two natures" — the Niobites anathematized the entire Severian party.

A more serious schism was that of the Tritheists, also known as the Cononites from their leader Conon, one of the early associates of Jacob — they were also known as the Philoponists from John Philoponus (d.c. 565). According to the extant sources the origin of Tritheism occurred in a most casual way. In a meeting with the Chalcedonians John Philoponus allegedly asked: "If you speak about two natures, why do you not also speak of two hypostases since nature and hypostasis are identical?" The Chalcedonian response was that they would indeed do so "if we considered nature and hypostasis identical, but as a point of fact we distinguish between the two." The Chalcedonian reportedly continued by proposing that John Philoponus, if he held nature and hypostasis to be identical, should therefore speak of three natures in the Godhead. His reply allegedly was: "Then, we will do so." When the astonished Chalcedonian exclaimed that to do so would be to teach Tritheism, John reportedly replied that "in the Trinity I count as many natures, essences, and Godheads as I do hypostases."

Such a position may appear somewhat flippant and casual but it was a quite serious point by John Philoponus, who was not an ignorant monk but a sophisticated philosopher, a disciple of Ammonius of Hermias. He wrote works on Aristotle, works on Nichomachus of Gerosa, and at least two works on grammar. His works reflect an eclectic philosophical perspective which combines Aristotle, Plato, Stoic principles, and elements of Christian thought. Underlying his thought is a Stoic principle of considering fundamental matter as three dimensional. Pluralism was a cornerstone of his philosophical perspective. In transferring his basic philosophical vision to the Trinity John Philoponus could easily affirm a Tritheism. It is interesting that in his philosophy he viewed created existence as a mere instrumentality of divine causation, a position which would make Monophysitism somewhat natural for him. In none of his works does he, however, explicitly affirm that there are three gods. John Philoponus was also extremely hostile toward the Roman see, attacking directly the primacy of Rome and explicitly calling Pope Leo the Great a Nestorian.

Underlying the thought of the Tritheists was the distinction between hypostasis and nature. Christ was one hypostasis, an indivisible hypostasis, which, though united with God the Father, must be distinguished from the hypostasis of the Father and the hypostasis of the Holy Spirit. But because of the interaction between hypostasis and nature and because of a certain "assimilation" between the two, the individual "natures" had also to be distinguished. The Cappadocian balance between the hypostasis and nature was compromised and the compromise implied a Tritheism. When this thought pattern was presented by a philosopher and ascetic such as John Philoponus, it attracted the attention of some leaders within the Monophysite movement. Sergius, a Syrian from Telia who was ordained patriarch of Antioch in 557 by Theodosius, became enamored by the teaching. The early associates of Jacob, Conon and Eugenius, now working in Cilicia and Isauria fell under the influence of Tritheism. In Constantinople John Asconaghes — his name referred to his slippery type of shoes which in turn referred to his "slippery" character; that is, he was constantly slipping from one faction to another — accepted this interpretation of hypostasis and nature and, through him, an important convert was won from the imperial court: Anastasius, the grandson of Theodora.

For the next twenty years Anastasius was to be a personality to contend with. Michael the Syrian relates that Justinian had hoped to place Anastasius on the patriarchal throne of Alexandria (Chronicle 9, 30). Anastasius brought both money and a certain social prestige to the new faction. Very quickly this new faction had attracted to its cause another bishop, a significant event because this new bishop happened to be the third bishop in the new movement which now allowed them to ordain their own bishops. One of the sources claims that "all their disciples and followers — whoever joined them — they consecrated as bishops." They established new communities throughout the empire — in Africa, in Rome, in Greece, in Asia Minor, as well as in the traditionally non-Chalcedonian areas of Egypt and Syria. In Constantinople they also established themselves. Indeed, John of Ephesus relates how surprised he was at the number of persons from the court who attended the services of the new faction.

During all this Theodosius used persuasion and then excommunication with the new faction. Theodosius rejected any notion of separate natures. He excommunicated John Asconaghes and Patriarch Sergius. He had more difficulty with Conon and Eugenius, both of whom continued to reject and then accept again the position of the Tritheists throughout their lives. Anastasius had created a will that left an endowment to the new faction. He had a falling out with this new faction before his death but had not altered his will, the result of which was a financial source to perpetuate the new faction.

Attempts were made to reunite but nothing came of them ultimately. After mutual excommunication both parties appealed to the emperor. The task of judging two Monophysite groups was delegated to Patriarch John Scholasticus. He was to use the works of Severus, Theodosius, and Anthimus as the guide, the authoritative works from which to judge. The "trial" lasted for four days. Conon and Eugenius represented the Tritheists; Paul "the Black" and Jacob the "conservative" wing of the Monophysites. As could have been anticipated, the decision favored the "conservative" wing. Exile under escort was the decision for Conon and Eugenius. John of Ephesus relates that the head of the escort was the defrocked monk, Photius, the stepson of Belisarius, who was well-known for his cruelty. Indeed, it is related that he liked nothing more than to torture clergy.

This inner quarrel actually played into the hands of the Chalcedonians. The Tritheists had pushed the Monophysite position to an extremity and, in order to answer the Tritheists, the conservative Monophysites were forced to fall back to strictly Severian positions or to positions that pointed in the direction of Chalcedon. Michael the Syrian claims that thousands returned to the Chalcedonian hierarchy, for they believed it far more theologically sound to confess "two natures" rather than have anything to do with a theology that could fall into "three natures in the Trinity."

 

The Reign of Terror Unleashed by Patriarch John
Scholasticus Against the Monophysites of Constantinople in 571.

Patriarch John Scholasticus decided to take action against the Monophysites, at least those in and around Constantinople. Justin II was already decomposing in insanity and the patriarch had little difficulty obtaining permission from the emperor to deal with the Monophysites as he deemed best. John of Ephesus relates that the stunning reversal took place on the Saturday prior to Palm Sunday of 571. Suddenly all places of Monophysite worship were forbidden and the few Monophysite bishops in Constantinople were arrested and imprisoned in the firmly Chalcedonian Acoe-metae Monastery. Later they were transferred to cells in the patriarchal residence. A reign of terror was unleashed on all the Monophysite monastic communities in Constantinople, communities which had come into existence as a result of the vibrant life existing in Theodora’s monastery for exiled Monophysites. The non-Chalcedonian sources relate that the imperial police and security forces entered the monastic communities to compel the people to accept the Holy Eucharist from Chalcedonian priests. When they refused, they were dragged to Chalcedonian altars, their mouths forced open, and forced to consume the Holy Eucharist. The more recalcitrant met with severe punishment. The patriarch, the sources relate, went from place to place to proclaim the holy council of Chalcedon — indeed, it is related that the now insane emperor accompanied him, giving out gifts to those who submitted. As many measures as possible were implemented to extirpate Monophysitism in Constantinople — their places of assembly were destroyed, their hospitals were confiscated, and the staff of clerics was dismissed. This was, however, restricted to Constantinople and its immediate surroundings. What caused the most hostile bitterness was the fact that Patriarch John reordained all non-Chalcedonian clergy. Indeed, many of the Chalcedonians were dismayed by the action of the patriarch.

Patriarch John, realizing the importance of Paul "the Black" as a patriarch and the esteem held by John of Ephesus, summoned the two from their imprisonment and proposed as the document of union the very document signed by St. Cyril and John of Antioch — "Let the heavens rejoice." Paul and Jacob agreed on the condition that the Council of Chalcedon first be anathematized. As John of Ephesus relates, they exclaimed that "before Cyril made peace he had cast Nestorius out of the Church and we must do the same." Patriarch John refused. It appears that Emperor Jus tin II had a brief period of lucidity, an interlude in his insanity. It was at this time that he proposed union based on both formulae — "one nature incarnate" and "two natures." The condition laid down by the Monophysites was the anathematization of Chalcedon.

Paul and John were confined in "filthy dungeons" and deprived of any visitation. They were brought out only when the patriarch wanted to engage in a theological conversation. A rumor was deliberately leaked to them that the faithful were blaming their obstinacy for the persecution. John of Ephesus relates that at this time Patriarch John offered a duplicious proposal: "Participate in communion with me just once in order ‘to save my reputation’ and when that is accomplished and the schism is healed, I swear that Chalcedon will be dropped." Paul and John, worn thin by de -privation and suffering, anathematized Chalcedon while receiving communion twice from Patriarch John. When they asked Patriarch John to keep his word, John replied that he would keep his word if Rome agreed. "Be reasonable. You cannot expect us to offend Rome to please you." Paul and John swore they would never again communicate with Patriarch John and they appealed to the insane emperor. The imperial reply was that the emperor would investigate the matter at the end of a month, after he had completed his baths. Patriarch John then offered them any see they wanted if they would submit. They continued to refuse.

The imperial court was tired of the entire controversy. It is related that Emperor Justin II, if indeed he was speaking for himself in a moment of lucidity, was angered by the recalcitrant position of the Monophysites and angered by the policy of Patriarch John, a policy accused of having exacerbated the situation rather than to have brought the expected reconciliation. The matter was then referred to the senate, which rendered a decision in favor of the patriarch — John of Ephesus and Paul "the Black" were either to remain in communion with Patriarch John or to be confined.

John of Ephesus was kept for one year in a dungeon, an account of which he has left to us. He was later sent to the island of Prinkipo for another year and one-half. At that time Tiberius, ruling in the place of the insane Justin II, allowed John of Ephesus to return to Constantinople under supervision. Upon the death of Patriarch John, Tiberius gave John of Ephesus his freedom.

Paul "the Black" was confined in the Acoemetae Monastery where he wrote an account of the recent events. His writing was confiscated and shown to Patriarch John who was infuriated. Paul expected to be executed. Finally, as a result of the intervention of friends, an option was given to Paul — to receive communion again from the patriarch. He succumbed. Patriarch John used the occasion for a victory celebration — he invited as many selected persons as possible to attend the celebration. After Paul had communicated with the patriarch, he was allowed certain freedom under surveillance. Paul’s brother was an admiral in the Byzantine navy, a fact which indicates that Paul’s family obviously came from a relatively high social class. The emperor began to solicit Paul’s advice on ecclesiastical matters, a step which angered the patriarch. Patriarch John suggested that Paul should be the bishop of some see of rank. Paul was offered Jerusalem and Thessaloniki but refused both. The patriarch arranged for Paul to escape. Paul seized the opportunity and left Constantinople to seek out Jacob to confess, to repent, and to submit to any disciplinary action as Jacob decreed.

Tiberius refused to permit persecution. John of Ephesus relates that Tiberius responded to Patriarch John’s request by saying "By your own statements they are not heretics. Let them alone." A few years later Patriarch John died after suffering from a painful illness. When it became clear that Patriarch John would not recover, the Monophysites began to worship in public again.

 

The Death of Patriarch John and
the Recall of the Exiled Patriarch Eutychius.

With the passing of Patriarch John, his predecessor Patriarch Eutychius was brought out of retirement and again assumed the position of patriarch of Constantinople. Eutychius was welcomed as a confessor and a worker of miracles. He immediately excommunicated the recently departed Patriarch John and removed his name from the diptychs. The apocrisiarius of the Roman see protested — he was deacon Gregory, the future Pope Gregory I (590-604). Patriarch Eutychius let the conservative Monophysites in peace, permitting them to worship freely and allowing those who had been compelled to "convert" to the Chalcedonian faith to "reconvert" to Monophysitism. John of Ephesus relates that those who remained in Chalcedonian places were permitted to receive the Holy Eucharist from their own clergy after the Chalcedonians completed their liturgy. They were not considered heretics but rather dissenters. But Eutychius did persecute the Tritheist faction.

The cessation of persecution did not last long. The cause, however, came this time from a completely different direction. A petition had come to Tiberius while he was still regent, a petition from the Gothic Arian women in Constantinople — their husbands were soldiers in the imperial army and the women petitioned for the use of a church for their Arian services. An outburst of protest came from the Chalcedonians. This was too much! Tiberius, not wanting to offend the ecclesiastical authorities before he had taken the imperial throne, proclaimed an order of arrest for all Arians and Manichees. John of Ephesus claims that the anti-Monophysites used this as a pretext and set about to plunder the places of worship of the Monophysites and to arrest some of them, himself included.

In general, however, Eutychius’ attack on Monophysitism restricted itself to the writing of books against them. John of Ephesus refers to these writings contemptuously, claiming in essence that Eutychius made a fool of himself, that Eutychius revealed his lack of knowledge in these books and could never prove his point. Patriarch Eutychius found himself accused of heresy because of his teaching on the resurrection. His overly spiritualized interpretation of the resurrection smacked of Origenism and he was denounced by both the Monophysites and by the Roman deacon Gregory.

 

Internal Dissenion Among the Monophysites:
Problems Caused by the Reconciliation of Paul the Black with Jacob.

Internally Monophysitism would carry within it a schism resulting from supporters of Paul "the Black" and those of Jacob. Paul "the Black" submitted to three years of suspension as a form of penance. Jacob was quite under the control of the monks who for some reason detested Paul. The monks threatened to separate from Jacob’s communion unless Jacob denounced his reconciliation with Paul "the Black." Jacob did not deny the reconciliation, although John of Ephesus tells us that Jacob refers to it as "accidental," as "informal." When Theodosius died in Constantinople the Egyptian Church was without a patriarch. Indeed, exclusive of the Chalcedonian and Julianist bishops, there were only three Monophysite bishops in Egypt — Longinus, who was in distant Nubia; Theodore of Philae, now old and ill; and John of the Cells, who, though in Alexandria, was under discipline for some type of irregularity. The clergy in Alexandria wrote to Longinus of Nubia and to Theodore of Philae to urge them to come to consecrate a patriarch. Longinus responded quickly and undertook the trip. Along the way he met with Theodore of Philae who, too ill to travel, gave Longinus the authority to act in his name. Still underway Longinus met with two bishops in Mareotis and implored them to assist in the matter. They would assist only on the condition that the matter of the reconciliation with Paul "the Black" be clarified. Longinus’ choice for patriarch of Alexandria was Theodore, the abbot of Rhamnis in Nitria. The three bishops — Longinus and the two whom he met at Mareotis — consecrated Theodore of Rhamnis as patriarch of Alexandria. Paul "the Black" was present but did not participate precisely because he did not want the consecration to be challenged. He approved the consecration and exchanged the customary letter of enthronement as patriarch of Antioch. A letter of approval also came from Theodore of Philae.

 

The Election of Two Monophysite Patriarchs of

Alexandria: Theodore of Rhamnis and Peter.

But the consecration was challenged by some of the leaders of the Monophysite body in Alexandria, especially by a Theodosius and a deacon named Theodore. These men were indignant because, as they claimed, Paul "the Black" had been involved. They denounced and repudiated the consecration of Theodore of Rhamnis and sought to find another candidate. Their choice was a monk named Peter whom they consecrated — two visiting bishops from the orient and John of the Cells performed the consecration. Peter, now patriarch of Alexandria, acted quickly, according to Michael the Syrian, by consecrating seventy bishops. Immediately Peter convoked a council which deposed Paul "the Black." Theodore of Rhamnis graciously wrote from his monastery that he had no interest in high position and implored the new body not to create a schism, although he complained to the end of his life about the conduct of Longinus and Paul who had "elevated him and then dropped him."

The attitude of Jacob would now become crucial for the new body in Alexandria. Initially Jacob refused to recognize the consecration of Peter, referring to him as a "new Gaianus." But Jacob was under the control of the monks who detested Paul "the Black." Jacob left for Alexandria and, once there, fell under the influence of others who hated Paul. At this point Jacob supported the deposition of Paul "the Black." Paul wrote, Michael the Syrian tells us, to Jacob to request an audience with him. Paul was, of course, Jacob’s superior. Jacob had been given an unusual commission in specific conditions but he was still only a bishop, whereas Paul was "Patriarch of Antioch." Paul desired to restore unity among the Monophysite body. According to John of Ephesus Paul wrote to Jacob offering to accept any outcome as long as "this terrible schism ceases." Longinus’ very life was at stake but he managed to return to Nubia where it was impossible to harm him. He was deposed and excommunicated. John of Ephesus writes that "actions took place by both sides in which only Satan could have rejoiced."

 

The Death of Jacob Baradaeus.

When Peter, the recently consecrated patriarch of Alexandria, died in 577 Damianus was selected to succeed him. Damianus had just been consecrated when Jacob decided to go to Alexandria to meet him, accompanied by a group of eight bishops and priests. Jacob’s intention was not known. Some speculated that his purpose was to make peace; some that he intended to consecrate a new patriarch for Antioch. His motives had to remain clouded in mystery, for underway he and the others with him contracted an illness and died eight days later. The cause of Jacob’s death was subjected to rumor.

 

Damianus of Alexandria and the Conference on unity
Among the Monophysites Requested by Almoundir.

For two years the controversy continued. The Arab prince Al-Moundir, when on a visit to Constantinople on state business, requested that Tiberius issue an edict of toleration for the Mono -physites and to summon a conference of the disputing groups. Damianus of Alexandria decided to consecrate a patriarch for Antioch and summoned Syrian bishops who elected a monk named Sergius. Gregory, the Chalcedonian patriarch of Antioch, discovered what was taking place and attempted to arrest the "conspirators." Damianus and three others escaped. Damianus then went to Constantinople while the conference was taking place but did not participate. He did, however, meet privately with Al-Moundir and agreed to the decision of the conference, a decision which was that of reconciliation between the disputing parties. The monks, however, refused to accept the decision of union, claiming they had not been consulted.

When Damianus realized that the conference was unpopular with the monks, he denounced it. John of Ephesus relates that a substantial number of the Monophysites fled this schism by rejoining the Chalcedonians. A new patriarch for Antioch was finally consecrated — Peter of Callinicum, the original choice of Jacob. Paul "the Black" had essentially resigned to retire to a monastery. Few knew where Paul "the Black" was. Even his death in 585 was known to only a few and his followers continued to commemorate him as the living patriarch of Antioch. The schism continued and John of Ephesus ends his history with words of gloom: "Satan has realized his goal and now rejoices in dancing … rejoicing in the actions of both parties in the controversy."

 

The Theological Quarrel Between Damianus
of Alexandria and Peter Callinicum of Antioch.

Peter Callinicum was now Monophysite patriarch in Antioch and Damianus was Monophysite patriarch of Alexandria. The Monophysite patriarchs usually ruled not from a centralized patriarchal residence but rather from a monastery beyond the reach of the city officials. Damianus held that the individual charac -teristics or properties of the Trinity were identical with the persons, a view which came close to Tritheism. And yet each hypostasis somehow merged — without any distinction — into the oneness of the Godhead. Peter reacted by accusing Damianus of Sabellianism. As a result, communion was broken between the two Monophysite patriarchates for approximately twenty years.

The source from the Egyptian perspective claims that Damianus attempted to end the schism but was unsuccessful "because of the quarrelsome nature of those in Antioch." Michael the Syrian claims that Peter tried to heal the schism but failed "because of the complete malice of the Alexandrians." A con -ference was finally arranged and Michael the Syrian relates that Damianus’ behavior was intolerable. Initially, he arrogantly refused to attend the conference at Paralus. Changing his mind, Damianus finally attended and, in the view of Michael the Syrian, caused the schism to escalate into an unbecoming battle of personal insults which resulted in physical fights — indeed, it is claimed that one deacon had his head broken. The civil authorities, relates Michael the Syrian, were disgusted with the behavior of both sides. The sources further relate that Peter Callinicum, so desirous to bring this schism to an end, travelled to Egypt and offered to give up his see. But his well-intentioned trip only exacerbated the schism, the precise details of which are not related.

 

The Monophysite Conference at the
Gubba Barraya Monastery.

In Alexandria the usual theological discussions were taking place. An Alexandrian named Stephen maintained that one could not be an "orthodox" — orthodox Monophysite — if one held that the distinctions in the "two natures" continued after the union. Two of the followers of Peter Callinicum, a John and a certain Probus, disagreed. A council was convoked about 588 at the monastery of Gubba Βarraya, the residence of the Monophysite patriarchs of Antioch since 580. John and Probus, declaring that if one held that distinctions in the two natures remained after the union, then it was essentially the same teaching as the Chalcedonians. Indeed, it is related that both John and Probus became Chalcedonians, although Probus is said to have reconverted with approaching death. Anastasius, the Chalcedonian patriarch of Antioch, deposed by Justin II and then later restored to his throne, tried to use this new schism among the Monophysites to reunite them with the Chalcedonians, a project that failed in general but resulted in numerous individuals returning to the Chalcedonian Church.

Pope Gregory I and the Chalcedonian Patriarch of Alexandria Eulogius.

The death of both Peter and Damianus did not end the quarrel, a quarrel which continually makes reference to the dispute over Paul "the Black." The Alexandrian patriarch of the Chalcedonians, Eulogius, was respected by the Monophysites and apparently was responsible for bringing many back to the Chalcedonian Church. Patriarch Eulogius wrote to Pope Gregory the Great about the "glad news of the increase in the number of "true" orthodox. Pope Gregory's letter to Eulogius — Letter 8 — is historically interesting. Pope Gregory, in whom many have found the beginnings of the evolution of the modern papacy, appears in a much different perspective when one considers his correspondence with the eastern patriarchs. Pope Gregory, the first pope to take the title of Servus servorum Dei, writes to Eulogius: "My brother, do not convey on me high titles . . . you are my brother in rank and in character my superior. Do away with words that only harm character and increase vanity." It is the same tone one finds in the astonishing and historically important correspondence of Pope St. Gregory with John the Faster, the first patriarch of Constantinople to adopt officially the title of "ecumenical patriarch" — the title had been used previously during the Acacian Schism and during the reign of Justinian I, although not with the consistency and frequency with which John the Faster used it.

The Election of the Monk Athanasius as Patriarch of Antioch.

An end to the schism between the Monophysite patriarchates of Alexandria and Antioch came after the death of Peter Callinicum's successor, Julian, in approximately 595. The council that met at the Gubba Barraya monastery could not decide on an acceptable candidate. The sources relate that the council finally decided to leave the decision to God — they would elect the first monk who appeared outside the monastery gates the next day. A monk who was in charge of the monastery camels, a certain Athanasius, was the first to appear. He was instantly grabbed and consecrated patriarch. Astonished, he declared that he had another year's obligation with the monastery to care for the camels. The council agreed to let him keep his oath for another year. A year later a delegation came to fetch him. Athanasius became a highly respected patriarch and his service lasted many years, from 597 until approximately 630.

Maurice Accuses Al-Moundir of Treason and the Consequent Splitting of the Ghassanid Kingdom.

During this period the wars with Persia were to take their toll in terms of reshaping the life of Christianity in the future generations, for they prepared in a sense the opportunity for a new religion to expand at the expense of the empire. From approximately 572 the empire had been engaged in serious if sporadic conflict with Persia. The military assistance of al-Moundir's Ghassanid kingdom helped the empire immensely — indeed, it is not an exaggeration to state that al-Moundir was one of the most important persons in the empire from a perspective of military logistics. Tiberius had appointed Maurice to head the imperial military forces in the east. Maurice was determined to strike a decisive a blow against the Persians, a blow designed to destroy the Persian capital, Ctesiphon. In 580 Maurice set out to secure the pivotal point, the bridge over the river at Circesium. John of Ephesus relates that when Maurice's forces arrived at Circesium, they found the bridge demolished by the Persians. Maurice immediately accused al-Moundir of sabotage and treason, placing this charge directly before Tiberius. Imperial orders went out to arrest al-Moundir. He was condemned for treason and exiled to Sicily, an action which proved controversial and ultimately devastating for the imperial military forces in the east.

The sources differ on the question of the guilt of al-Moundir. In his Church History Evagrius Scholasticus claims that al-Moundir, whom he calls a rogue, was fortunate to be sentenced only to exile — he was deserving of the death penalty. Writing during the reign of Emperor Heraclius (610-641), Theophylact Simocattes, in his lengthy study of eight books on the reign of Maurice, considers al-Moundir a "traitor." John of Ephesus, on the other hand, claims there was no truth to the charge, a position which Michael the Syrian appears to support without committing himself explicitly on the subject.

In 582 Maurice became emperor (582-602). In 584 al-Moundir’s Ghassanid kingdom split into fifteen different tribes, a historical reality which now meant that the empire had lost the solidity of support which the united kingdom under the Ghassanids had provided. Indeed, the Arabs formerly united under al-Moundir came to regard all Christianity with suspicion — moreover, many Arabs joined forces with the Persians. Michael the Syrian relates that this was the end of Christian Arab cooperation with the empire, the cause of which was "the treachery" of imperial officials. Lost now was that important conversion of the Ghassanids during the reign of Anastasius, a conversion which at that time saw the Ghassanids switch their loyalty from the Persians to the empire. Now the reversal occurred. The infuriated Ghassanids now pillaged Palestine. The imperial forces had opportunity to see the swiftness of the Arab cavalry, a swiftness that the Byzantine military could not match. Yet the Byzantines remained focused on Persia, neglecting the seriousness of the possibility of a future military force of Arabs — the rise of Islam.

 

The Policy of Emperor Maurice (582-602):
Persecution of the Monophysites in Constantinople.

In his Chronicle John of Nikiou writes that Emperor Maurice, a staunch Chalcedonian, made no attempt to negotiate a union with the Monophysites. Maurice, the son-in-law of Tiberius, was a very effective emperor — indeed, his reign is often overlooked because it is overshadowed by the reigns of Justinian and Heraclius. He was respected by most segments of Byzantine society, from the ascetical monks to the Monophysite John of Ephesus who refers to Maurice as "God-inspired." Yet, in Constantinople Maurice persecuted and imprisoned Monophysites, including John of Ephesus — over the protests of Patriarch John the Faster. Indeed, John of Ephesus puts the following words in the mouth of John the Faster: "What have the ‘dissenters’ done that permits us to persecute them?" The policy towards the Monophysites did not remain restricted to Constantinople — it spread to Syria, to Egypt, and then to Armenia.

 

Emperor Maurices Extension of Imperial
Rule in Armenia and the Ecclesiastical Result.

In 591 Emperor Maurice, through diplomacy, was able to extend the imperial influence in Armenia up to Lake Van, a substantial increase from imperial control in Armenia when Maurice ascended the throne. The Armenian Catholicus John had accepted the Henotikon in about 571. Now Maurice was determined to restore the Chalcedonian faith in Armenia. He summoned the Armenian bishops within the imperial territory to Constantinople where they accepted Chalcedon. A new Chalcedonian patriarch was elected. This was not received well by the then Catholicus Moses whose residence was at Dvin. This action by Emperor Maurice did, however, have one lasting result, for it brought the kingdom of Georgia, then in a subservient relationship to Armenia, into the Chalcedonian faith. The Armenian Church was split.

 

The Persecution of Monophysites in Melitene and
Mesopotamia Unleashed by Domitian, Bishop of Melitene.

The Monophysites, however, were gaining ground throughout the area of the border with Persia and also in eastern Cappadocia. In 599 a new persecution broke out in Syria, a persecution caused by the emperor’s nephew, Domitian, Bishop of Melitene. The zeal with which Domitian undertook his project is vividly described by Theophylact Simocattes in his Historiae (5, 4). Evagrius Scholasticus in his Church History (4, 18) and Michael the Syrian in his Chronicle (10, 23) also give an account of the zealous persecuting activity of Domitian, who confiscated the monasteries of the Monophysites in Melitene and in the province of Mesopotamia. It is not difficult to discern from the writing of Michael the Syrian that at this time Syrians came to be known as Monophysites, just as Coptic Christians in Egypt became identified with Monophysitism — in contradistinction, Chalcedon became identified as Greek. Michael the Syrian relates that the monks in Edessa who refused to obey imperial orders to leave their monasteries were killed by the military (Chronicle 10, 23). The reputation of Emperor Maurice suffered sorely in the eastern areas as a result, far worse than it had ever been. John of Nikiou, the Coptic bishop, in his Chronicle (101, 5) sees the cause of the earthquake in Antioch as a direct result of "the heresy of Emperor Maurice," as God’s judgment on the emperor. The Coptic and Syrian Mono physites will view the conquests by the Persians and then by the Arabs as also God’s judgment on the heresy of Chalcedon and on Ar ‘nfliction of persecution. Domitian died in 602, an important ίη the history of the eastern Church, for the break between the non-Chalcedonians and “empire" had been consummated.

 

Emperor Maurice and Chosroes II of Persia.

Persia had been ruled for almost a century by Chosroes I and his grandson Chosroes II, from 531 until 638. In 592 Chosroes II had to flee from a revolt in Persia. It was Emperor Maurice who had responsible for restoring him to the Persian throne, where Chosroes II would rule in peace with the empire for the next ten years — surrounded by an imperial bodyguard provided by yCa rice The emperor had received a reputation for being extremely parsimonious, a reputation which was unfair since the empire he inherited had been financially depleted. Yet the reality in the minds of the imperial subjects was one of dislike for Maurice. In 602, having run out of finances necessary to continue the military compaign in the Balkans, Maurice ordered the imperial army to winter in Avar territory and "to live off the land." The amy mutinied and elected their military officer Phocas as exarch. Phocas immediately marched on Constantinople. Maurice, abandoned by the army, by the guards, and by the population — both the Greens and Blues revolted — fled with his family to Calcedon where he and four sons were murdered. His four sons were butchered before his eyes! Phocas was crowned by the army and entered Constantinople triumphantly.

 

The Bloody Reign of Emperor Phocas (602-610).

The rule of Phocas (602-610), known as the "tyrant," is in j considered one of the lowest points in the history of the Bizantine empire. His reign is remembered as one of bloodshed both abroad and at home. He was wholly concentrated on mantaining the throne against inner treason and conspiracy and against the military advances of Chosroes II, who used the murder again benefactor and father-in-law Maurice as justification for resuming the war. The advances of the Persian army were almost unopposed and it proved to be a death blow thirty years later to the eastern provinces. The Persian forces overran Mesopotamia, Siria, Cappadocia, Paphlagonia, and finally reached and besieged Chalcedon at the very walls of Constantinople. The supply of corn from Egypt to Constantinople was suspended and famine broke out. The late Roman empire was in its death throes.

 

The Edict of Emperor Phocas to Pope Boniface III.

During the wars and the internal mutiny that characterized his reign, Phocas managed to carry out a conciliatory policy with Rome. The controversy between Pope Gregory I and Patriarch John the Faster had been essentially ignored by Emperor Maurice. Phocas issued an edict addressed to Pope Boniface III, an edict which acknowledged the Roman see, the "Apostolic Church of St. Peter," as the head of all churches. While Phocas became more and more hated in Byzantium, his reputation in Rome culminated with an inscription of praise in a column erected in the Roman forum. In general, Phocas responded to the chaotic situation by retaliating against the Monophysites in the eastern districts and against the Jews.

 

The Advance of the Persian Army
and the Religious Policy of Chosroes II.

There is no incontrovertible evidence that the Monophysites assisted the advances of the Persian army. Although an anonymous Nestorian chronicler asserts that Chosroes II merely feigned to favor Christians, there is reason to believe that he was certainly not directly opposed to Christianity. Chosroes’ wife was the daughter of Maurice — indeed, she was permitted to establish a church and a monastery in the proximity of the Persian imperial palace. We are also told that Chosroes’ mistress, Shirin, whom he later married, was a convert to Jacobite Monophysitism. In general, however, Chosroes’ marriages remain difficult to place in chronology. Three sources testify to Chosroes’ giving of gifts to the church of St. Sergius at Circesium. Michael the Syrian relates that Nestorian and Monophysite bishops accompanied the Persian armies and, on the conquest of any Christian city, they expelled the Chalcedonian bishops. When Jerusalem fell in 604, Patriarch Zacharias and thirty-five thousand Chalcedonians, together with holy relics of the Cross, were taken to Ctesiphon. Chosroes’ policy was to leave the Monophysites in place when he conquered one of their cities. Michael the Syrian relates that the memory of Chalcedon was soon eradicated from the Euphrates to Syria.

In either 612 or 614 a conference of the bishops from the east took place at Seleucia under the sponsorship of Chosroes II. Whether the result was the acceptance of the Armenian "confession of faith" is not the issue. It is evident that Chosroes II allowed in general — for this would not be the case in Edessa — the Nestorians to control their congregations and the Monophysites theirs. As the former monk and the now Monophysite Patriarch of Antioch, Athanasius, wrote to the Patriarch of Alexandria, all that really mattered was that the dark night of Chalcedon had been lifted, an accomplishment which was met with rejoicing.

Despite the initial elation all was not well, for the Persian occupation was not popular — indeed, ultimately not even popular among the Monophysites. The Monophysites were deeply concerned with the insensitivity of Chosroes II, an insensitivity he revealed by appointing a Persian Nestorian bishop for Edessa. Michael the Syrian alludes to this as the creation of a "new Ibas." In addition, Persian taxation was exacting. And the threat of deportation to Persia was not a comforting thought.

 

The Accession of Emperor Heraclius (610-641).

The situation of the empire under Phocas looked hopeless. There seemed to be no one and no place to turn to. But in Africa the exarchate of Carthage was prospering under Heraclius the Elder, a valiant officer in the wars against the Persians during the reign of Emperor Maurice. He realized that if the empire could be saved, he would have to act. He sent his son Heraclius in a fleet and his nephew Nicetas with an army by land. Whoever reached Constantinople first would rule. In the early fall of 610 Heraclius’ fleet reached its destination and he was received as a deliverer, received with open arms. Phocas, despised by all, was seized, cut to pieces, and burned. Emperor Heraclius was one of the greatest rulers in Byzantine history. He appears to have come from Armenian stock. He was a pious Chalcedonian and an inspired leader who was capable of inspiring others with a sense of mission. He found the empire in shambles and left it restored, at least restored sufficiently to ensure its survival for another eight centuries.

The tragedy of Heraclius is that he worked energetically for thirty years and yet at the end of those thirty years it appeared as though he had accomplished nothing. Persia had been defeated. In 630 the Cross was brought back solemnly and triumphantly to Jerusalem by Emperor Heraclius himself and the territory of the empire existing at the end of the reign of Emperor Maurice had been restored. But a new military and religious force had come into existence and it was to capture the precious cities of the east Islam.

Heraclius, after the victory against Persia in 630, turned his attention to the unity of the Church. As with other emperors, his task was to attempt to devise a formula which would restore the Monophysites to the Chalcedonian Church. In the territories which Heraclius had reconquered the Monophysites were now in virtually complete control. Armenia, as a result of the Persian religious policy carried out with the advancing Persian victories, was Monophysite. The patriarchal sees of Alexandria and Antioch now had only Monophysite patriarchs and these patriarchs controlled not only the surrounding areas and the monasteries but also the cities. The influence and authority of the Monophysites had spread far beyond the border of the empire. The Monophysite patriarch of Antioch, Athanasius, had conveyed upon the monastery of Mar Matthai in Nineveh a primacy over all Christian converts in Persia.

 

Patriarch Segius and the Beginning of Monothelitism.

The patriarch of Constantinople, Patriarch Sergius (610-638) worked for a formula of union. The doctrine of one energy in Christ, a doctrine which arose in the eastern provinces, seemed to provide some hope as a formula of compromise. Emperor Heraclius supported this position. Indeed, already during his counteroffensive against Persia Heraclius had been discussing the possibility of union, especially with the Church of Armenia. In 634 the monk Sophronius had become the new patriarch of Jerusalem — he had begun his strenuous opposition to the new doctrine of one energy before his consecration as patriarch, claiming that it was nothing more than a form of Monophysitism.

Pope Honorius (625-638) played an important role in this development. In 634 Patriarch Sergius I sent a letter to Pope Honorius outlining the developments in the East, the goal of which was to win back the Monophysites to Chalcedonian unity by means of a formula that emphasized the oneness of operation in Christ. A year earlier Patriarch Cyrus of Alexandria had won back the "dissenters" by the formula of " one theandric operation" in the Lord — μία θεανδρική ένέργεία Sophronius had already challenged the position while still a monk. He had brought forth patristic texts to demonstrate that there were two operations in Christ and requested that Patriarch Cyrus vow that he would not in the future speak of either one or two operations in Christ. Patriarch Sergius in his letter to Pope Honorius confessed that he held the faith as expounded by Pope Leo I and that he too had asked Patriarch Cyrus to refrain from speaking of operations, although he personally could accept a theology of a single operation — Sergius feared that two operations would imply that Christ possessed two conflicting wills. Sergius awaited the reaction of Pope Honorius.

 

The Role of Pope Honorius in the Rise of Monothelitism.

The reply of Pope Honorius is preserved in the Greek trans -lation read at the Sixth Ecumenical Council, the Third Council of Constantinople in 681 (Mansi 11, 537-544). Honorius supported the decision to refrain from discussion on the subject — he considered that to be the work of grammarians, not theologians. He preferred to focus on the one Christ who "operates" in both his human and divine natures. In quoting from the Council of Chalcedon that the two natures are unconfusedly and immutably united, Honorius saw in this unity the existence of a single will in Christ. The best defense on the part of the defenders of the Roman doctrine of papal infallibility is that this letter to Sergius was no more than a private letter, a letter in which both he and Patriarch Sergius were striving to arrive at an acceptable and orthodox formula, a letter which cannot be construed as coming under the category of public papal definitions of faith. Patriarch Sergius also wrote to Pope Honorius but Honorius’ response is no longer extant.

The "question of Honorius" has long been debated. He was subjected to much criticism in his own time. It must be mentioned that St. Maximus the Confessor maintained in his response to the deposed Patriarch Pyrrhus that Honorius restricted himself to the confines of the problem as it was proposed to (Patrologia Graeca 91, 329). But further developments took place, complicating "the question him of Honorius." In 649 the Lateran Council summoned under Pope Martin I condemned Monothelitism and its eighteenth canon named Patriarch Sergius as a heretic. The Sixth Ecumenical Council (681) mentions Honorius several times and two of his letters to Patriarch Sergius read at the twelfth and thirteenth sessions. The latter session condemned the Monothelites and "expelled" them from the Church, a condemnation and expulsion that included Honorius (Mansi 11, 556). The final session also lists Honorius among the heretics (Mansi 11, 636; 656; 665). These condemnations, it should be mentioned, precisely define the guilt of Honorius — he followed Sergius and Cyrus. The acts of the council were sent to Pope Agatho for his confirmation. Agatho had died and the new pope, Leo II, evaluated the acts and wrote to Emperor Constantine IV that he had approved the acts, Leo II also condemns Honorius in this letter: [Hononus] qui hanc apostolicam ecclesiam non apostolice traditionis doctrina lustravit sed prophana pro traditione immaculatam fidem dari permittendo conatus est (Patrologia Latina 96, 408).

Although Patriarch Cyrus could claim that his formula had brought many of the Monophysites, "the dissenters," to the Chalcedonian faith, all was not well in Alexandria. Cyrus became known for his cruelty towards his opponents. The sources describe his rule as a reign of terror — indeed, he is accused of seizing and butchering opponents with no trial. He managed to instill hatred in the masses and in his opponents and this hatred was transferred to a hatred for the empire.

 

The Islamic Conquests.

Seemingly exhausted from the war against Persia, Emperor Heraclius received bitter news in 634. The Arab advance in Palestine and Syria had become a serious threat. The Arab strategy was no longer that of sporadic attacks. Rather, under the enthusiasm and vitality of its new Islamic leaders, the military conquest of territory had begun with systematic attacks. One Arab force advanced along the coast of Palestine. Another moved north to the Sea of Galilee, stopped only by the Roman fortification at the Yarmuk river. Simultaneously, Arab forces under Khalid, fighting in Iraq, quickly moved across the desert and appeared before the walls of Damascus. The Islamic Arab forces then learned that the Byzantine military was to attempt to cut off the Arabs, that a Byzantine force was on the move from the north to cut off the Arab force along the Palestinian coast. Khalid swiftly moved to reinforce the Arab army already in position. In the summer of 634 the Byzantines confronted the two Arab forces between Gaza and Jerusalem. The Byzantine force wasdestroyed. Under the inspiration of Patriarch Sophronius Jerusalem held out for a while but was finally forced to surrender. But Patriarch Sophronius refused to make any agreement except with the Caliph Omar himself. Indeed, we are told that Omar conceded to the wish of Sophronius and left Medina to meet personally with Patriarch Sophronius. Theophanes relates that when Patriarch Sophronius saw Caliph Omar in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, he exclaimed: "Lo, the Abomination of Desolation, spoken of by the prophet Daniel, stands in the Holy Place." Meanwhile, the Persian empire was conquered, Mesopotamia was taken (639-640), and Armenia subdued (640). The Arabs then began their conquest of Egypt.

The tragedy of the imprecision of language at the Council of Chalcedon had resulted in the rise of Monophysitism. The desire to restore a unity to the Church had led Monophysitism to Monothelitism. The most significant opponent to Monothelitism is St. Maximus the Confessor.

 

Chapter Four.
Leontius of Byzantium.

Life.

Leontius of Byzantium, born probably in Constantinople about 500, probably died also in Constantinople about 543. About 520 Leontius entered the New Lavra [Laura] monastery in Palestine with his spiritual father, Nonnus, who was a disciple of the Origenist monk Evagrius Ponticus (d. 399). About 531 Leontius came back to Constantinople and apparently remained there until at least 536. While in Constantinople, Leontius defended the Council of Chalcedon against the Monophysites. In 532 he was an observer at the meeting between the Chalcedonians and the Monophysites. In 536 he was present at the council in Constantinople which banished the Monophysites. He became one of the leaders of an Origenistic pro-Chalcedonian party, led after 537 by his friend Theodore Askidas. Apparently Leontius was back in Palestine in 537 where he defended Origenism against the attacks by the orthodox. When this controversy was referred to the emperor, Leontius returned again to Constantinople about 540. The Origenistic pro-Chalcedonians were defeated and in 543 Emperor Justinian condemned Origenism. Shortly before his death in 543, Leontius’ work against Theodore of Mopsuestia became a catalyst in the movement which led to the condemnation of the Three Chapters at the Fifth Ecumenical Council in Constantinople in 553.

 

The Controversial Corpus of "Leontius."

A number of important dogmatic and polemical compositions under Leontius’ name have been preserved in many manuscripts. However, it is by no means a simple and easy matter to establish who this Leontius, whose name is attached to all these manuscripts, is. Writers of the sixth century do not mention Leontius of Byzantium at all — neither historians nor theologians. St. Maximus the Confessor (c. 580-662) does not say anything about him either. In the seventh century Patriarch Sophronius of Jerusalem (c. 560-638) mentions Leontius in a list of men and fathers who "piously teach about Christ." Anastasius of Sinai [Anastasius Sinaita; d. c. 700], abbot of the famous monastery of St. Catherine on Mount Sinai and a strong supporter of orthodoxy against all forms of heresy, quotes many passages from works attributed to a Leontius. In these quotations there is no mention of the Fifth Ecumenical Council in 553, no mention of the condemnation of the Three Chapters, and no mention of the censure of the Ori genists. There is, however, a persistent defense of the Council of Chalcedon, and the ardor of the objections to the Monophysites and the Nestorians is present.

The "of Byzantium" could refer not only to his birth place but also to the place of his original activity — Byzantium was the former name of Constantinople. In a work traditionally ascribed to Leontius but definitely not his, the De sectis (perhaps the work of Theodore of Raithu), we find under the heading of the composition that "Leontius" is called a "Byzantine Scholastic," that is, a lawyer, although this title was also used figuratively to mean a learned man in general.

The paucity of biographical information prompted more recent historians to try to find Leontius the writer among others named Leontius, others who were well-known in the sixth century. Most such attempts have not produced conclusive results. Possible references to the person of Leontius include his own comment about having been influenced by "Nestorians" (see Patrologia Graeca 86, 1357-1360); Innocentius of Maronia’s Letter to Thomas, edited by E. Schwartz in Acta conciliorum oecumenicorum, volume IV, 2 (Berlin, 1914), pages 169-184; Cyril of Scytho polis’ Life of Sabas, edited by E. Schwartz in Kyrillos νon Skythopolis (Leipzig, 1939), pages 176 and 179; and the acts of the Council of Constantinople in 536 (see Acta conciliorum oecumenicorum), III, pages 130, 145, 158, 165, and 174.

Some critical studies of importance on the subject of Leontius of Byzantium are: E.Schwartz, Kyrillos von Skythopolis (Leipzig, 1939); M. Richard, "Leonce de Jerusalem et Leonce de Byzance," in Melanges de Science religieuse, i (1944), pages 35-88; M. Richard, "Leonce de Byzance etait-il origeniste?" in Revue des etudes byzantines, 5 (1947), pages 31-66; S. Rees, "The Literary Activity of Leontius of Byzantium," in Journal of Theological Studies, xix (1968), pages 229-242; S. Otto, Person und Subsistenz. Die philosophische Anthropologie des Leontios von Byzanz (Munich, 1968); David Evans’ doctoral dissertation in 1966 at Harvard Divinity School, titled Leontius of Byzantium and his published work, Leontius of Byzantium: An Origenist Christology (Washington, D.C., 1970); and J. H. I. Watts, "The Authenticity of the Writings Ascribed to Leontius of Byzantium. A New Approach by Means of Statistics," in Studia Patristica (Berlin, 1966).

The corpus attributed to Leontius of Byzantium by Migne in Patrologia Graeca (volume 86) consists of the following: De sectis (1193A-1268A); Contra Nestorianos et Eutychianos (1268B-1357A); Adversus Nestorianos (1400A-1768B); ContraMonophysitas (1769-1901A); Adversus Severum (1901A-1916B); and the Epilysis (1916C-1945D). Contemporary scholarship, though still tentative, makes it possible to consider only the following as being from Leontius of Byzantium: Contra Nestorianos et Eutychianos; the "Thirty Chapters" in Adversus Severum; and the Epilysis. Obviously there were reasons that the life of Leontius of Byzantium remained in the shadows, even though his works — and those ascribed to him incorrectly — became quite famous and widely read. But the actual reason still eludes us.

Contra Nestorianos et Eutychianos records the oral debates with the heretics. It was probably written sometime after 527-528, perhaps even after 535 (he refers to Antioch as Theupolis, its name being changed after the earthquake of 527-528). In this book Leontius investigates the basic Christological terms and tries to establish their precise meaning. He then gives a positive presentation of orthodox doctrine, particularly on the question of Christ’s sufferings and death. In the last part of the book, which is devoted to Nestorianism, the author dwells on a critique of the views of Diodore of Tarsus and Theodore of Mopsuestia and quotes many excerpts from their works and Nestorius’ compositions. In the conclusion of his discussion, Leontius cites a collection of patristic evidence. The "Thirty Chapters" in Adversus Severum are attached to this work. This is a short collection, a schematic enumeration of those questions, Severus’ answers to which separated him from the Church. Questions of terminology occupy an important place here as well. The Epilysis is a dialogue between an orthodox and an acephalos, which is a critique of Severus’ conclusions.

One work ascribed to Leontius which may actually belong to him and which modern scholarship should consider carefully is Against the Frauds of the Apollinarians. In the history of Monophysitism the so-called "forgeries of the Apollinarians" played a major and fateful role. Many of Apollinarius’ compositions were concealed and "armored" under the forged inscription of respected and honored names. Faith in such pseudo-patristic writings very much hindered Alexandrian theologians in their dogmatic confession — it is sufficient to recall St. Cyril of Alexandria. Even if the work titled Against the Frauds of the Apollinarians is someday conclusively proven to be not that of Leontius of Byzantium, it is discussed here. Regardless of the authorship of this work — and it is very possible that it was Leontius of Byzantium — it was a significant work which deserves attention.

It is difficult to reconstruct the history of these "forgeries" but they became especially wide-spread in the Monophysite milieu. Even Eutyches in his appeal to Pope Leo at the Council of Constantinople in 448 refers to the forged testimony of Pope Julius, Athanasius, and Gregory the Miracle-Worker. He referred to them in good conscience, not suspecting any "forgery." In his document to the monks of Palestine, Emperor Marcian observed that among the people books by Apollinarius were circulating which were being passed off as dicta of the holy fathers. Justinian also mentions some forgeries. The historian Evragius discusses the influence of these forgeries — the inscription of honorable names (Athanasius, Gregory, Julius) on Apollinarius1 books kept many people from condemning the impious opinions contained in them. At the famous "conference" with the Severians, which took place about 532 (between 531 and 533, in any case), Hypatius of Ephesus challenged a whole series of patristic references by pointing out their spuriousness, their the false inscriptions.

Under such circumstances the uncovering and demonstration of forgeries became a pointed and recurrent task of theological polemics. In performing this task, it is the author of Against the Frauds of the Apollinarians who occupies the most prominent place. The author gathered much material in this work. He adduces the false testimonies, and compares them with the original opinions of those persons to whom they are ascribed. (It is noteworthy that this same procedure is followed in the work Against the Monophysites, a work modern scholarship does not regard as that of Leontius of Byzantium). The author then collates these testimonies with the undisputed texts of Apollinarius and his followers and shows the points of correspondence between them. In this connection the author has to enter into a detailed critique of Apollinarianism. The author’s critical conclusions are distinguished by great precision and cogency.

The work Against the Nestorians, once ascribed to Leontius of Byzantium but no longer considered his, has come down to us in very revised form. Whoever is the author of this work, the text that has come down to us is quite probably not the original text. This work is rich in historical material. But the text is constantly being interrupted, the plan is muddled, and the styles of the individual parts differ substantially from one another. The same must be said for the work Against the Monophysites, once ascribed to Leontius of Byzantium, as previously mentioned. In addition, there appear in this work later interpolations which indicate events and circumstances of another time.

The work De sectis, once ascribed to Leontius of Byzantium and then to Leontius of Jerusalem, is no longer believed to be by either. In this work a certain "Theodore" is dictating through "his voice." It is difficult to say who this Theodore was, this "most God-loving abba and most wise philosopher." The context seems to indicate that the conversations were actually taken down from a living voice — traces of a lively conversational tone show through the text that has come down to us. It is possible, however, that we are dealing with a very creative author. Subsequently the book was subjected to revision — there are manifestly late interpolations in it. As far as its content is concerned, the book presents a systematic collection of heresiological material organized in historical order. The Christological sections are especially detailed.

The marred nature of the books by Leontius and the ones ascribed to him testifies to the fact that they were in constant use. They were abridged and excerpts were taken from them. Such is the origin of the so-called fragments or scholia extracted from the various collections. It is possible, however, that they are individual notes by Leontius or other authors. It has been conjectured that these "fragments" have come from a large polemical work by Leontius or another author, a work not preserved but similar to the collection known under the title The Ancient Fathers’ Teaching about the Incarnation of the Logos or to the Guide — όδηγός — of Anastasius Sinaita. It was furthermore conjectured that, in general, all of the preserved works by Leontius or under his name are also a revision of this basic work. Such a supposition does not warrant further detailed investigation. The question of the ancient collections of patristic testimonies and notes does deserve new and deeper study, however.

 

The Theological Thought in the Corpus of "Leontius."

The Quest for Precise Definitions.

As a polemicist and theologian, Leontius is primarily a scholastic and dialectician. To begin with, he is striving for firm and precise definitions of the basic concepts — the very status of theological questions in his time demanded this. It was necessary to coin a uniform and complete Christological terminology and to substantiate it philosophically. But Leontius does not stop at this. He tries to substantiate his theological confession not so much by "natural reasoning" as by "the testimony of the Scriptures," from the "Holy Scriptures and the Holy Fathers." He makes especially wide use of the Fathers. He sees them as the wonderful councillors of the Holy Spirit. They did not speak for themselves — the Spirit of the Father spoke in them. Therefore, not accepting the Fathers, glorious and renowned in the Church, means opposing the will of God. Leontius attaches decisive significance to "agreement with the Fathers." However, Leontius does not regard patristic testimonies entirely uncritically. One has to be concerned not about words, but about ideas. And if there is some new word, he claims, we must respect and honor it as suitable if it answers its designation and agrees with originally and authentically professed orthodoxy. On the other hand, if some phrase or word used in Holy Scriptures and by the Holy Fathers is shifted away from its true meaning by someone through some impious innovation, then it must be cast away and we must keep away from them as if from crafty swindlers who forge not only the image but also the inscription on coins.

In his theological work Leontius was guided first of all by polemical requirements and problems of time. He was not a systematic thinker. If he did construct a system, then this was in order to eliminate through a coherent plan of theological ideas any ambiguity in incompletely expressed patristic texts which could prove favorable for heretical misinterpretation. He writes that a "general war" has arisen over theological terminology. It is, therefore, necessary to philosophize in order to recognize what we agree with and what we do not agree with.

Relying on the Fathers, Leontius subjects the old and undisputed definitions to a strict analysis, bringing them into an orderly and complete system. He relies on St. Cyril more than anyone else and wants to be the interpreter of St. Cyril’s Christology. In their struggle with the adherents of the Council of Chalcedon, the Monophysites stressed the divergence between St. Cyril’s formulae and die Chalcedonian oros, its definition of faith. Leontius primarily tries to show that despite an apparent discrepancy and lack of coordination among the literary formulae, St. Cyril and the Fathers of the Council of Chalcedon were saying one and the same thing. On the other hand, he tries to draw a clear dividing line between orthodox doctrine and the Christology of the Severians.

The Concepts of Nature, Essence, and Hypostasis.

Dogmatic polemics demanded first of all the precision and firmness of one’s ideas. In his Christological word usage Leontius repeats the teachers of the fourth century, the Cappadocians most of all. With him, the concept of nature — φύσίς — is identical with the concept of essence — ουσία. “Nature” primarily points at the communality of origin, at the unity of kind. Together with that, something “natural” is something inborn or innate. “Nature" is a general concept, a generalizing concept which indicates the general in things. But only individual things actually exist — "nature" is real only in them, in the multitude of individuals. The concept of "essence" has the same meaning. In it Leontius is a consistent Aristotelian. Following the Cappadocians, Leontius defines the hypostasis as something particular, special, concrete. "Nature" (or "essence") and "hypostasis" are treated as the general and the particular (more accurately, the individual). Leontius knows about the former fluctuations in the definition of these concepts and he explains them as being an inconsistency.

However, what proves to be characteristic in the concept of the hypostasis for Leontius is not its greater concreteness. To begin with, hypostasis signifies an "independent existence" — το καθ’ εαυτόν είναι: only hypostases exist, and there is not "hypostasis-less nature;" that is, it does not exist. "Nature" is real only in "hypostases," in what is "indivisible" (in "atoms" or "individuals"). Everything that exists is hypostatic; that is, individual. But in the spiritual world hypostasis is person, a person which exists in and of itself (see the Chalcedon oros).

Leontius then makes a very essential proviso and introduces a new concept. If there is no "hypostasis-less" nature, this still does not mean that nature is real only in its own individualizations or hypostases. Nature can be "realized" in a different hypostasis as well, in a hypostasis (or "something indivisible) of another type (another nature). In other words, not only "single nature" individuals or hypostases exist, but also complex ones: in them, along with the unity (or singleness) of the hypostasis, we observe the reality of two or more natures in all the fullness of their natural properties. Thus "man" is a single hypostasis consisting of two different natures, a soul and a body, which are defined by different "natural" concepts. "Hypostasis-ness" is not an individualizing feature. What is more, it is not a feature at all. "Hypostasis-ness" is the beginning of division and differentiation — not so much "distinguishing" (the "natures" are distinguished from one another by their essential features), as precisely "division." The hypostasis is "separate," a "separate existence" — a "limit."

The Reality of Enhypostasis.

In complex hypostases one nature exists in the hypostasis of another. It is real "in an hypostasis," but not necessarily in its own. Thus Leontius establishes the concept of "en-hypostasis-ness” — το έωυπόστατον. The term ύπόστασις and ένυπόστατον are not one and the same thing, just as ουσία and ένονσιον are not the same, for every hypostasis signifies an essence (nature). An hypostasis signifies a person which is defined by properties, while "enhypostasisness" indicates something which does not occur by itself, something which has its existence within another, and is not contemplated by itself. It is reality in another hypostasis. From this it is evident that the reality of some nature in a certain individual still does not mean recognition of the hypostasis of the given nature. It is easy to foresee the Christological application of this principle.

Leontius logically drops from the general to the specific. The capacity narrows and the content is enriched with features. This order of thought is directed right to the order of reality where the individual comes before the general, for the general is given only in the individual. But it is important that in this logical descent we still do not reach the hypostasis. The hypostasis is described by using dividing features, but it is not they which form the hypostasis. One can say that the hypostasis is the image of existence but this is not an individualizing feature. Leontius, following Aristotle, calls the properties which describe or determine every hypostasis "accidental” — τα σνμβεβηκότα. Here he distinguishes these constitutive (or “essential”) accidents as “inseparable." They are different from customary "accidental" features which are always "separable." And they do not violate the indivisible wholeness.

"Enhypostasisness" is one of the possible cases of unification or interaction of natures: such, for example, is the unity of body and soul in a man, which are joined by "mutual life," but are not essentially altered. In Leontius’ opinion such a unification is also a proper and completed unity, a unity "within the hypostasis," a hypostatic unity, ενωσι? υποστατική. With Leontius this concept receives terminological clarity and firmness.

The Mystery of the Incarnation and Union
as a Presupposition of the Existence of Duality.

The Incarnation of the Logos is a mystery and a secret. Of all mysteries, it was this mystery which appeared in natural visibility, in the historical image of the God-man. In Christ a duality is indivisibly revealed and observed. He is God and Man, a "complete" God and a "complete" man, "One of the Holy Trinity" and "one of us." Thus a duality of natures is revealed which is not removed by union or unification. Union, Leontius insists, presupposes the existence of duality — only two things can combine, and if what is being united disappears, then unification or union ceases. Once again Leontius illustrates his idea with the example of human hypostasis. Preserving duality or the abiding of natures in unification without changes in the "natural properties," in no way weakens the unity. Counting natures does not mean "dividing" them — the number does not divide but distinguishes. The natures are distinguished from one another, not divided. Unity is presupposed by unification. In union Christ is one — one hypostasis, or one person, or one individual subject. This unity of person or subject is also signified by Christ’s name. This is the name of the hypostasis, a sort of personal name, “the name of personhood” — του προσώπου ονομα. One may say that Christ is the name of the Logos in his Incarnation, the name of the Incarnate Logos, for the single hypostasis of the God-Man is precisely the Hypostasis of the Logos. Union takes place in the Logos, and in it the human nature is embraced and somehow "personalized” — ένπροσωποποίησε. In this process the Divine Hypostasis remains simple and invariable, as it was before the union. After all, fullness cannot be filled in.

However, by virtue of the union one can talk about "complexity" (or "composition"), understanding by this the very fact of the Incarnation; that is, the reality of two natures. In the Incarnation the Logos receives not human nature in general but an individualized human nature. In other words, Christ in his humanity differs from other people, from his fellow men, through individual and special features or characteristics, just like human individualities are distinguished from one another. Therefore, it is possible to say: “One of us.” However, human nature is “individualized” in the “hypostasis of the Logos” — εν τω Λόγω υποστήναι. The Logos receives human nature not in its "communality" but in its "wholeness" of a complete man — ολον ανθρωπον. The union begins when the Logos’ human nature begins; that is, with conception. However, Leontius seems to allow the possibility — only a logical possibility — of some "pre-existence" of human nature. He is put out by too close a parallel with the human composition: body and soul separate in death and exist separately until the resurrection; that is, every nature is in its own hypostasis and again combines into a unified hypostasis only in the resurrection.

Not infrequently he discusses the "complex" hypostasis of Christ as if it "is composed," not as if human nature is received into the very hypostasis of the Logos. Here Leontius is vague and too cursory. He gets too carried away by logical symmetry and does not always note the "non-independence" of the enhypostasized existence of Christ’s human nature clearly enough. Sometimes he expresses the following simple and indisputable idea very inconsistently: in his humanity Christ differs from his "fellow man," being "different from others;" that is, as an "hypostasis" (as an individual), for inside a single nature separateness of existence is determined precisely by the "hypostasis."

In no way does Leontius want to say that Christ’s manhood is "self-hypostatic;" that is, exists in and of itself. In that case there would be a genuine unity of hypostasis or subject, and Leontius decisively rejects such a "relative union" — ενωσις σχετική. He merely wants to say that Christ is individual in his manhood, that when compared with human hypostases he is "different" or special among humanity. However, he expresses this idea too abruptly and incomprehensibly. This is especially so because he compares how Christ in his manhood differs from people with how Christ in his Divinity differs from the other hypostases of the Trinity — and in the latter case the Hypostasis really does differ from the Hypostases. However, with Leontius, this is merely imprecision of language, a case of being carried away by the parallelism of natures. He never forgets the distinction he has set up between "hypostasis-ness" and "enhypostasis-ness," and he speaks directly about a second birth of the Logos — from the Virgin Mary, about the second birth of the Logos, not only that of human nature (of course, the "Incarnate Logos"). After all, manhood exists "in the Logos" — Leontius does not say "in Christ."

Hypostasis and the Communicatio Idiomatum.

The union and unity of the Hypostasis of the Logos Incarnate justifies the "transfer of names" or the "communicatio idiomatum" as a method for expressing the "reciprocity" of properties. One can call the Logos the Son of Man. One can say that the "Lord of Glory" was crucified. This is possible in view of the unity of hvoostasis, which is properly being referred to when it is said bout each’nature that "different things are proclaimed about One a j ^ Same Thing," and the difference between the natures is fully maintained. "Reciprocity" never turns into "mixing." It is nossible precisely in "hypostatic union" and impossible either with the "conjunctive unity " ("through good-will") of Nestorian thought or with the "mixing unity" of the Mo no phy sites, for, given the "unity of nature," the existence of "opposite" properties is impossible. This is a presupposition of the very reality of "reciprocity."

Leontius’ Criticism of St. Cyril’s Formula.

Leontius considers St. Cyril’s formula unsuccessful and incautious, one which aims at a false understanding even with the proviso of "a single complex nature" (in Severus’ thought), which moreover is logically absurd. Leontius resolutely insists on the "hypostatic" nature of the union of the God-Man. It is the Hypostasis which causes the union of the two natures. The concept of "hypostasis" best of all expresses the unity of individuality — όλότης υποστατική, the unity of subject, the unity of Christ. The concept of “enhypostasis-ness” clearly defines the completeness of the reality of the human nature without hinting at all at its "independence." Leontius was not the first to make use of this term — it was used in the pseudo-Athanasian Against Apollinarius, by Didymus, and by the monk Eustathius. But with Leontius the terminology receives for the first time its expressiveness and power. Leontius’ historical significance and influence reside in the fact that he made an experiment of synthetically revealing all of Christology from the concept of a "single hypostasis." This eliminated all the ambiguity of earlier "Eastern" dyophysitism and it avoided the forced constructions of the doctrine of Severus. Leontius adheres to the Aristotelian tradition of the Cappadocians. But it was an eclectic Aristotelianism: in his anthropology Leontius was sooner a Platonist (through Nemesius of Emesa’s influential work On the Nature of Man.

Leontius’ Dispute with the Aphthartodocetists.

In his dispute with the Aphthartodocetists Leontius meticulously discloses the doctrine on the humanity of the Logos. The Aphthartodocetists, one of the divisions of the Monophysites, were founded by Julian, bishop of Halicarnassus, and hence were also called " Julianists.” They taught that from the first moment of the Incarnation the earthly body of Christ was in its nature incorruptible — άφθαρτος impassible, and immortal, although this did not stop Julian from accepting suffering and death as a free act of the will. Leontius proceeds from soteriological premises. In opposition to Julian of Halicarnassus, Leontius thinks that the primordial Adam was created in a form capable of "decay" — that is, mortal — that the flesh was "mortal." Immortality was available only through participation in the "Tree of Life" — that is, for Leontius it was a dynamic task, an opportunity, not a "natural" condition. This means that in the Fall human flesh did not become mortal for the first time but started to die — the possibility of "decay" appeared. Consequently, from the fact that Christ has the nature of the primordial Adam, it does not follow that his flesh is "incapable of decay" from the very Incarnation. For all of its chastity and purity, die possibility of death or "decay" remains and is removed only through actual death, in the resurrection. By nature — κατά φύσίν — Christ’s flesh is open to suffering and is not withdrawn from "irreproachable passions" or "suffering" states — and not through a special calamity or weakness of the Logos, as Julian thought, but precisely by nature (although there are no actual bases for death in it).

The hypostatic union does not demand changes in the natural properties of manhood and does not damage the flesh’s ability to suffer. True, by virtue of the hypostatic union, the measure of nature is exceeded — υπέρ φύσιν — but the laws of nature are not annulled, not παρά φύσίν. For the Savior, imperishability is higher than nature. Before the resurrection the measure of nature is only sometimes exceeded. It is the miracles which are the exception in the Gospel story of the Logos Incarnate, and not the weakness, as Julian depicted it. For Julian, salvation has already been completed somehow in the Incarnation, while the Gospel life was presented as some series of acts which went beyond what was necessary. For Leontius, on the contrary, the Incarnation is only the beginning, and he sees in the Savior’s whole life an inner unity and growth. Leontius reminds us that "imperishability" is not some exclusive gift, for it is promised to all. Innate imperishability of the flesh, on the contrary, would not increase the Savior’s glory. The Savior’s whole life would be incomprehensible in that case. Why did he suffer and die on the Cross, if apotheosis and deification of human nature was already completed in the Incarnation? If the Savior’s human nature has actual "impassivity and "imperishability" by virtue of the hypostatic union, then ould not its fullness be lessened with every calamity of suffering W d debilitation? The whole meaning of Leontius’ observations is fΠ emphasize the perfect reality of the Savior’s corporeal life, °hich was fulfilled through volitional death in the resurrection, when for the first time the Savior’s body is actually invested with imperishability.

Leontius makes a sharp distinction between deification of the soul and of the body. The human in Christ is free of sin and therefore from the beginning the Savior’s soul is privy to all the blessings of the Logos, to bliss and omniscience. Leontius insists on this against Theodore of Mopsuestia and his doctrine of the process of Christ’s moral perfection and his original ignorance. This original deification of the soul is connected with its purity and innocence. But from this it is impossible to come to a conclusion about the imperishability of the flesh. Chastity does not exclude growth, and the Savior was born as a child. Death triumphs actually only through a death which is volitional (for it is "for our sake"), but natural. The resurrection actualizes imperishability for the first time; it is the resurrection which becomes the source of life and imperishability for the whole human race, as something "consubstantial" with Christ in human nature, by virtue of a certain mysterious "servility" or "homeopathy."

This imperishability and impassivity will be revealed in the last days. Sinners will fall under new sufferings. However, these future sufferings differ substantially from those of today, which are connected with the natural capacity for suffering of mortal flesh. Thus, in his objections to Julian, Leontius successfully argues against the latter’s anthropological premises and his doctrine about primordial nature and original sin.

 

Chapter Five.
The Spirit of Monenergism

and Monothelitism.

The belated epilogue to the Monophysite movement was the Monothelite dispute. This was a dispute over formulas and more over the formulas of Church diplomacy than over those of theology. However, these formulas proclaim not only an alluring tactical ambiguity — one senses in them a dangerous vagueness of theological vision or perception. That is why this dispute over words heated up with unprecedented bitterness and was sprinkled with the blood of orthodox believers. The Monothelites were supported and even inspired by a state power preoccupied with the restoration of religious unity in the disintegrating empire.

An agreement with the Monophysites was the age-old dream of the emperors — Basiliscus’ Encyclical of 472; Zeno’s Henotikon of 482; and Justinian’s attempts at union. It was now becoming an obsession. But the hierarchy too sought a covenant with the Monophysites, and not only out of an insincere meekness. To many adherents of the Council of Chalcedon the disagreement with the moderate followers of Severus seemed negligible and unimportant, almost an historical misunderstanding. Consequently, it seemed possible and necessary to dispel it with wise tractability. A hope such as this was evidence of the inconstancy of Christological ideas and the haziness of theological experience. In any case, the hope proved delusive. This inconsistency was also the danger of Monothelitism.

One can discern two periods in the history of the Monothelite dispute. The agreement between Cyrus of Alexandria and the local followers of Severus, the "Theodosians," in 632 and 633 goes back to the first period. It was also accepted in Constantinople by Patriarch Sergius, the chief inspiration of the whole enterprise of union, and it was consolidated by imperial decree. It was also approved by Pope Honorius. The anathemas of union were composed very evasively but in Monophysite terminology. This was an obvious compromise. The orthodox saw as the main untruth of this covenant the declaration that Christ performed the Divine and the human "through a single God-Man operation” — μία θεανδρική ενεργεια. The defenders of the Formula of Reunion insisted that they were not diverging from Pope Leo’s Tome, that they were reiterating his beliefs. And in actual fact, in no way did they understand "unity of operation" as "fusion." They made a lear distinction between the Divine and the human, applied the ° ord "unity" not to "nature" but to "hypostasis," and never called the "single operation" "natural" but always "hypostatic." The very definition of "single operation" as "God-Man" sets off its "comlexity." All the same, "single operation" signifies much more than merely "single, unified person." The Monothelites did not begin to notice this. The mistake of "monenergism" was not, of course, that they professed that the human in Christ was "animated by God" — such a conclusion necessarily follows from the doctrine of the unity of the God-Man person or subject, and no orthodox person would ever question this. The mistake was that the Monothelites, following Severus, took this "divine animation" as the passivity of the human. They compared the workings of the Divine within Christ’s humanity with the worship of the soul within the human body. This customary analogy became dangerous in the given situation, for it did not set off the most important thing — the fact that the human is free in this very state of Divine animation while the body is not free in its subordination to the soul. It was this difference which the Monothelites did not feel. They conceived the human too naturalistically. In any case, they refused to speak of "two natural operations" because they were afraid that this would reduplicate the hypostasis. The originality of the human is not set off forcefully enough — precisely because they did not feel it. We must add that "energy" means more than just operation — it rather means "viability" and "vital activity." The Monothelites were afraid to acknowledge the "natural" viability of the human in Christ because they confused it with "independence." Therefore it was inevitable that the human would seem passive to them.

The second period in the Monothelite debate begins with the publication of Emperor Heraclius’ Ekthesis — "An Exposition of the True Faith" in 638. Here, instead of "single operation," he asserts the "unity of will" or "desire" — εν θέλημα — and in so doing, prohibits discussion of “one” or “two operations.” The new term was supported by Pope Honorius. There was patent ambiguity in the very way the question was posed. "Unity of will" can be understood in two ways: either as a complete and total coincidence of, or accord between, Divine and human desire; or as the singleness of Divine will, to the "whom" of which the human is subordinated without either its own or "natural" will. In other words, unity of will can mean either unity of subject, or else also will-lessness" of the human. What exactly Patriarch Sergius panted to say when he composed his "exposition" remains nclear. It seems to be the first choice, since he motivates his acknowledgment of "single desire" through the impossibility of assuming any bifurcation or "contradiction" in the will of the God-Man. In addition, he forbids discussion of two natural volitions and thus, as it were, subtracts will from the "human" in Christ.

We must distinguish two profundities in the Monothelite movement. Of course, Monothelitism arose as a diplomatic movement, as a search for a conciliatory compromise, and one could say that it was "political heresy," heresy through political motives. But this is not the beginning and the end of the Monothelite movement. It deeply disturbed the Church. Monothelitism was a symptom of theological confusion, for all the theological inspirations of the Monothelite formulas harshly posed a new dogmatic question, all be it from the reverse. This was the question of human will. The whole Monothelite dispute was possible only because there was still no decisive answer to this question. In addition, the question itself had not yet ripened, had not yet forced its way into consciousness. The temptation of quietism had still not been overcome. The whole polemic of St. Maximus the Confessor with the Monothelites, strictly speaking, comes down to this interpretation that the will is a necessary feature of human nature, and that without will and freedom, human nature would be incomplete and not authentic. From these anthropological premises the Christological conclusion follows in and of itself. In the Monothelite movement the final mystery of Monophysitism was revealed. This was doubt about human will. This is something different than what we see in Apollinarius — it is not a temptation regarding human thought. To a certain extent Monophysitism was the "dogmatic precursor of Islam," as one scholar observed. The Monothelite movement ended with a silent retreat, with a vain attempt to take cover in silence — the Τύπος of 648 generally prohibited discussion of the question of one or two wills. But now was not the time to compel silence.

The need for a decisive answer was growing more and more acute. The answer was given at the Sixth Ecumenical Council in 680 — it ended in 681. The Sixth Ecumenical Council reiterated and augmented the Chalcedonian oros and continued it in the following definition: "We also confess, according to the teachings of the holy fathers, that in him there are two natural wills, that is desires — δύο φυσικάς θελήσεις ήτοι θελήματα — and two natural operations — δύο φυσικάς ενεργείας — indivisibly, inalterably, inseparably, unconfusedly. And two natural desires do not contradict each other as impious heretics have said — that could not be! But his human desire does not contradict and does not oppose his Divine and All-Mighty desire but rather follows, or better, is subordinated to it” — έπόμενονκαι μη αντιπιπτον η αντιπαλαιον, μάλλον μεν ουν και υποτασσόμενον. This definition is taken almost word for word from Pope Agatho’s

oistle to the Sixth Ecumenical Council. Pope Agatho was repeating the definition of the Lateran Council of 649 which complied with the teachings of St. Maximus the Confessor. That is why the oros of the Sixth Ecumenical Council did not require a new theological commentary. This commentary had already been given in advance in the theological system of St. Maximus the Confessor.

Church culture crystallizes in the sixth and seventh centuries. The non-transient symbol of this epoch is the great cathedral of Agia Sophia in Constantinople. Creative tension is felt in a kind of intensity. It is clearer in its ascetics than in its theology but a new theological synthesis, a new system is born from this new ascetic experience. It is revealed to us in the works of the venerable Maximus the Confessor. It is he, and not St. John of Damascus, who sums up the creative results of early Byzantine theology. This explains the powerful influence he had on subsequent generations. Again, the conflict between the Empire and the Desert is exacerbated. It is laid bare with catastrophic force in the iconoclastic disturbance. A theocratic synthesis in Justinian’s style proved to be ambiguous and premature, and it collapsed. In this sense the iconoclastic movement closes the epoch of early Byzantinism, but in its persecutions and the deeds of martyrs is the dawn of a new life.

 

Chapter Six.
St. Maximus the Confessor.

The Life of St. Maximus.

We know little about St. Maximus’ worldly life. He came from an old, distinguished family and was, it seems, favored by Emperor Heraclius — possibly even related to him. He was born about 580 in Constantinople. He received an excellent education. His biographer writes that St. Maximus received the εγκύκλιος παίδευσις: Sherwood is correct in writing that "this would mean that his training lasted from about his sixth or seventh year till his twenty-first, and contained grammar, classical literature, rhetoric and philosophy (including arithmetic, music, geometry, astronomy, logic, ethics, dogmatics and metaphysics), and also that it must have included his first contact with Aristotle and the Neo-Platonists (through the commentaries of Proclus and lamblichus)." St. Maximus studied philosophy with a special love. Later on, St. Maximus’ great gift for dialectic and logic, and his formal culture with its great erudition, left their mark on his disputes with the Monothelites. His erudition was not merely restricted to ecclesiastical topics but included a wide range of secular knowl edge.

From his youth St. Maximus was distinguished not only by his love for philosophy but also by his humility, by his character in general. As a young man he served at the palace in the imperial chancellery. The noisy and turbid life of the palace could hardly have given satisfaction to the born contemplator, especially among the Monothelite intrigues which were then beginning. Very soon he abandoned the world and left for the secluded monastery in Chrysopolis on the Asian waters across from Constantinople, not far from Chalcedon "where philosophy was flourishing at that time." That he left the secular world, the world of imperial life and policy, to enter a monastery because and only because of the theological controversies then arising over Monenergism and Monothelitism, as his biographer suggests [Patrologia Graeca 90, 72], is stretching the evidence and neglecting the contemplative character of St. Maximus. His biographer gives a reason — St. Maximus had been yearning for a life of quiet, καθ’ ήσυχίαν. He remained on good terms with the imperial court, as his letters to John the Chamberlain evidence.

It appears that St. Maximus made this significant decision in 613/614. In 1910 Montmason in his La Chronologic de la vie de Saint Maxime le Confesseur had so structured the life of St. Maximus that his entry into the monastery took place in 630. That date was ch allenged in 1927 by Grumel in his "Notes d’histoire et de chronologic sur la vie de Saint Maxime le Confesseur" [in Echos d’Orient]. Grumel’s argument was convincing and the date of 613/614 is now commonly accepted. St. Maximus’ attitude towards his humble "ordeal" earned him the respect of his brethren in the mona stery. His biographer relates [Patrologia Graeca 90, 72] that St. Maximus stood throughout the night in prayer. St. Maximus’ biographer stresses the ascetical and devotional life of St. Maxima s at the monastery, claiming that the monks persuaded him to become their superior, their hegoumen. Scholars disagree. Some rejec± this as pious fiction — for example, von Balthasar. Some reject this claim based on the supposition that his great literary production could not have allowed him to manage a monastery. Such an argument does not necessarily follow from what we know of St. Maximus’ abilities in the imperial chancellery. There what was appreciated was his ability to make quick decisions, there he was respected for his rapid decisiveness. Whether he became the hegoumen is not important. But there is no substantial evidence to accept or to deny it. It is true that his signature ο η the petition to translate the Acts of the Lateran Council into Greek reads Maximus monachus. It is also true that he is referred to as ευλαβέστατος μοναχός. But this evidence indicates no thing more than the fact that he was a monk. Perhaps a more accurate interpretation is that he may very well have been elected hegoumen by the monks and that he did not accept this holy office out of humility. Though the chronology of these secluded ye^rs still remains somewhat unclear, it is clear that from this time on his life is inseparably connected with the history of the dogmatic struggle against the Monothelites.

The dogmatic struggle began to intensify. The Persians were successfully On the offensive, and in 626 they had reached the walls of Constantinople. Indeed, in 626 Constantinople was faced with the advance of two enemies, the Avars and the Persians. At some point St. Maximus set out for the Latin West. The argument that his departure was forced by the invasion of the Persians may well be accurate. His path, however, was long and difficult — at one point when he was on Crete he was engaged in controversy with the Severians. It appears that he stayed in Alexandria for some period of time. In any case we know that he reached Latin Africa-Carthage. It was here, according to his biographer, that St. Maximus organized an Orthodox opposition to the Monothelites. "All inhabitants not only of Africa but also of the nearby islands revered Maximus as their mentor and leader." Apparently, St. Maximus did a great deal of travelling around the country, entered into contact with the bishops, established close contact with the imperial governors of Africa, and carried on an extensive correspondence.

The main event of this African period of St. Maximus’ life was his dispute with Pyrrhus, the deposed Monothelite Patriarch of Constantinople. In June of 645 the famous dispute took place. A detailed record of this dispute, made apparently by notaries who were present, has been preserved. Under the intellectual challenge of St. Maximus Pyrrhus yielded. He set off with St. Maximus for Rome where he publicly renounced the heresy of Monothelitism. His ordination was then recognized by Rome and he was received into the communion of the Roman Church. It appears that Rome also recognized him as the legitimate patriarch of Constantinople. Pyrrhus1 change did not last for long. At the council of 648 under Pope Theodore in Rome he was again excommunicated as someone who had fallen anew into heresy. In 652 Pyrrhus again became Patriarch of Constantinople.

In Rome St. Maximus experienced a great influence and authority. Under his influence Monothelitism was condemned at local councils in Africa in 646 [Mansi 10, 761/762]. In 649, again at the recommendation of St. Maximus, the newly elected Pope Martin I convened a large council [Mansi 10, 863-1170] in Rome, known commonly as the Lateran Council. In addition to the one hundred and fifty western bishops attending the council, there were thirty-seven Greek abbots who were at this time living in Rome. The Lateran Council promulgated a well-defined and decisive resolution about the unmingled natural will and energy in Christ. This was a sharp reply to the demand to sign the Typos of faith which had been sent from Constantinople. The Typos — τύπος πepί πίστεως — was issued in 648 by Constans II, the goal of which was to command silence on the dispute of the wills in Christ. The Typos was rejected at the Lateran Council, as was the earlier Ekthesis of Heraclius — the εκθεσις της πίστεως was an imperial edict drawn up by Patriarch Sergius to respond to the synodical letter by St. Sophronius, patriarch of Jerusalem, a letter which has been preserved in the acts of the Sixth Ecumenical Council. The Lateran Council also excommunicated and anathe — matized the Monothelite patriarchs Cyrus, Sergius, Pyrrhus, and Paul. The acts of the Lateran Council, together with an accompanying papal letter, were sent everywhere, "to all the faithful."

Severe retribution soon befell the defenders of orthodoxy, who had disobeyed the imperial will. The emperor Constans immediately reacted but encountered difficulty — the exarch sent to Rome had joined the papal opposition. Finally in 653 Pope Martin was seized by a military force, conveyed to Constantinople, tried in 654, and then exiled to Cherson in 655, where he died later that year. In Constantinople Pope Martin I, who had formerly been an apocrisiarius of the papal see at Constantinople, was imprisoned with common criminals, and was exposed to cold and hunger.

At the same time St. Maximus was taken. His trial did not take place until May of 655. He was tried [Migne, Patrologia Graeca 90, 109-129] in Constantinople as an enemy and criminal of the state, as a subverter of ecclesiastical and civil peace. The trial was murderous and tempestuous. The biography of St. Maximus preserves a detailed and vivid account of it, in the words of one of St. Maximus1 disciples, Anastasius — who was also arrested along with St. Maximus.

The political charges were not merely a pretext. The secular defenders of the heresy were more than anything irritated by St. Maximus’ spiritual independence and his steadfast denial of the emperor’s rights in questions of faith — the denial of imperial power by authority of the Church. They were also irritated by the fact that in his calm profession of innocence St. Maximus was fighting against a whole swarm of appeasers of the imperial office. This seemed to be self-importance, as if he were placing his own will above everything else, for he said: "I think not of the unity or division of Romans and Greeks, but I must not retreat from the correct faith ... It is the business of priests, not emperors, to investigate and define the salutary dogmas of the Catholic Church." An emperor of Christians is not a priest, does not stand before the altar, does not perform the sacraments, does not bear the signs of the priesthood.

They argued long and insistently with St. Maximus and, when he still proved adamant, they passed a sentence exiling him to a fortress in Byzya in Thrace. In captivity they continued to try to persuade him. In 656 a court bishop was sent by the new patriarch, Peter, but St. Maximus refused to change his mind. He was moved then to the monastery of St. Theodore at Rhegion where again the authorities prevailed upon him to change his mind, to surrender to the will of the emperor. Again he refused. They then sent him into exile for a second time, still in Thrace, but this time to Perberis where he stayed for the next six years. In 662 St. Maximus, his monk and disciple Anastasius, and Anastasius the apocrisiarius were brought back to Constantinople, where a council was to be held. Back in Constantinople St. Maximus and his disciples underwent bloody torture — the tongues and the right hands of the condemned seem to have been cut out. They were then sent to a more remote exile in Lazica — on the south east shore of the Black Sea. On August 13, 661 St. Maximus died, broken not only by age but also by the inhumane treatment he had received.

Many legends about the life of St. Maximus have been preserved. Very soon after his death his biography, or panegyric, was composed. After that a Memorial Record was written by Theodosius of Gangra, a holy monk from Jerusalem — perhaps it was he who composed the biography? Along with this, the records of St. Maximus’ disciple, Anastasius the apocrisiarius, and the latter’s letter to Theodosius about the trial and the last years of St. Maximus’ life, have been preserved. Theophanes also has much to say about St. Maximus in his Chronographia, much of which is close to biography.

It is obvious that the sufferings and the "ordeal" of the un -bending defender of the faith made a strong impression on his contemporaries. A vivid and reverential memory of St. Maximus was maintained at the place of his death in the Caucasus. With the victory over the Monothelites and the triumph of orthodoxy at the Sixth Ecumenical Council in 680/681 St. Maximus’ great martyr’s ordeal was appreciated, and he was highly honored in Byzantium as a great teacher and preacher of Christ who incinerated the impudent paganism of the heretics with his fire-bearing word. He was respected both as a writer and thinker and as a mystic and ascetic. His books were the favorite reading both of laymen and monks. Anna Comnena, for example, tells us: "I remember how my mother, when she served dinner, would often bring a book in her hands and interpret the dogmatic places of the holy fathers, particularly by the philosopher and martyr Maximus."

 

The Writings of St. Maximus.

St. Maximus’ compositions were preserved in numerous manuscript copies, not all of which have been published. His influence is felt in all areas of later Byzantine literature. He was a typical exponent of the traditions and strivings of Byzantine antiquity.

His stormy life of suffering did not prevent St. Maximus from writing a great deal. "He did not stop writing his compositions for even a short time," his biography tells us. He combined speculative inspiration with dogmatic steadfastness. He was not only a theologian but also a mystic and a teacher of contemplative "ordeal" and love.

His theology is first of all nourished from the depths of spiritual experience. He did not construct a theological system. Most of all he loved "to write chapters in the form of exhortations." Most of his writings are just that — theological fragments, "chapters," notes. He loved to write in fragments. He discourses only when he has to, and in debates — most frequently, he explains. He prefers to go into depth, to lay bare the heart of each theme, as opposed to covering things in breadth. In this way he was able to develop the dialectical substance of his conclusions. His insight is greater than his conclusions.

St. Maximus was extremely erudite but he was not merely a repository of patristic traditions. He lived in them, and they creatively come to life in his transforming synthesis. One feels in him most strongly the influence of the Cappadocians, especially the influence of St. Gregory of Nyssa. In his asceticism and mysticism he bases himself on Evagrius Ponticus and on the Corpus Areopagiticum. He continues along the path of the ancient Alexandrians.

It is characteristic for St. Maximus that he constructs not so much a system of dogmatics as a system of asceticism. It is the rhythm of spiritual life rather than a logical connection of ideas which defines the architectonics of his vision of the world, and one could say that his system has more of a musical structure than an architectural one. This is more like a symphony — a symphony of spiritual experience — than a system. It is not easy to read St. Maximus. Even St. Photius complained much about the inco -herence of his exposition and the difficulty of his language. St. Photius did add, however, that "his piety and his pure, genuine love for Christ shine everywhere."

St. Maximus’ language really is unwieldy and astringent, burdened by allegories and tangled up in rhetorical figures. At the same time, however, one constantly perceives the intensity and condensation of thought. "They say that the aloofness of thought and the profundity of this man drive the reader to a frenzy," Anna Comnena observes. The reader has to divine St. Maximus’ system in his sketches. When he does, the inner access to the integral world of St. Maximus’ inspired experience is revealed.

Among St. Maximus’ writings we must first of all mention his exegetical sketches. These are precisely sketches and notes, not coherent commentaries. They are not even exegeses but rather reflections on individual "difficult phrases" — or "aporii." Such are the Questions and Answers to Thalassius; other special Questions and Answers; the Epistle to Theopemptus Scholasticus; his Interpretation of the Fifty-Ninth Psalm; and a short exposition of the Lord’s Prayer — see the fragments in the catenae.

In his explanations of the texts St. Maximus always uses the allegory and "elevating" — "analogical" — method which irritated St Photius so much. St. Photius writes: "The solutions he thinks up for his questions are far removed from literal meaning and known history, and even from the questions themselves." This is too harsh. However, St. Maximus really does approach the Scriptures like a true Alexandrian and often makes us recall Origen. St. Maximus’ scholia to the Areopagiticum are of the same nature — as we already mentioned, it is difficult to pick them out of later codifications. Of the same nature is a special tract on difficult places in the Areopagiticum and on St. Gregory of Nazianzus.

St. Maximus wrote much on questions of spiritual life — the Ascetic Address, first of all, and then a number of collections of aphorisms or "chapters" of varied content: "Four Hundred Chapters on Love;" Two Hundred and Forty-Three "Other Chapters;" "Two Hundred Theological and Oikonomic Chapters"; and others. To this day, these collections have not been entirely studied. To these must be added the expansive collection of Common Places — selections from the Scriptures, the fathers, and others. It is probably known to us in a later reworking.

It is particularly necessary to mention the Mystagogia, a mystical, allegorical explanation of the mysterious meaning of religious rites, written in the spirit of the Areopagiticum. This book had an exceptional influence on later liturgical literature in Byzantine. Here is the same method of symbolic mystical perception that we find in his interpretations of the Scriptures. Strictly speaking, all of these writings of St. Maximus are in their own way "scholia" notes and discussions "apropos"

St. Maximus’ dogmatic and polemical compositions are of a special nature. In some sense he disputes with Monophysites in general and reveals the doctrine of two natures — these are primarily letters to a certain "celebrated" Peter; to the Alexandrian deacon Cosmas; one of the letters is to John Cubicularius; the letters to Julian, an Alexandrian scholastic; and to female hermits who had fallen away from the faith.

In others he develops the doctrine of two wills and energies. This, first of all, is the famous Dispute with Pyrrhus — a contemporary record — and then a number of dogmatic epistles: On the Two Wills of Christ, Our God — perhaps to Stephen, who was subsequently Bishop of Dar; another Letter to Stephen; and a number of letters to the Cypriot presbyter Marinus, and to other persons.

In these letters St. Maximus begins with an analysis of the Monothelite definitions and arguments, and reveals as a counterbalance the system of correct Christological concepts in their correlations and connections. Here he is mostly a "scholastic." At the same time he dwells in detail on his explanations of difficult and controversial texts in the Scriptures and in patristic testi -monies. The patristic material which he collects and explains is very complete.

St. Maximus does not give a systematic exposition of Christology. He speaks out in letters and in oral arguments, always apropos. He always strives solely to reveal and confirm a tradition of faith.

Most frequently he speaks of the Incarnation — but not only according to the conditions of the time. In his inner experience this dogma was fundamental. He touches upon other dogmatic themes cursorily. He speaks of the Trinitarian dogma in explanations written for Gregory the Theologian — in the Dialogues On the Holy Trinity and in one of the letters to Maximus On the Emanation of the Holy Spirit. We must also make note of other letters — to archbishop Joseph On the Soul’s Incorporeality, and to the presbyter John On Eternal Life. Anthropological questions were naturally raised at this time — in connection with the Christological disputes — Origenism, which was fading but had not yet completely died out, and the basis of asceticism. It would be incorrect to think that St. Maximus did not have a theological system. A great wholeness can be felt in his sketches. He always speaks on particular events, but his words are least of all incidental. They have been forged in silent meditation, in the mystical silence of inspired experience.

 

The Theology of St. Maximus.

Revelation as the Central Theme in the Theology of St. Maximus the Confessor.

St. Maximus’ whole system can be understood most easily from the idea of Revelation. This is that proto-fact to which any theological reflection goes back. God is revealed — here is the beginning of the world’s coming into being. The whole world is a revelation of God, and everything in the world is mysterious and therefore symbolic. The whole world is grounded in God’s thought and will. Therefore, cognition of the world is a disclosure pf this symbolism, a perception of Divine will and thought which !s inscribed in the world.

Further, the world is a revelation of the Logos. The Logos is the God of revelation. God the Logos is revealed in the world. This revelation is completed and fulfilled in the Incarnation. For St. Maximus, the Incarnation is the focus of the world’s existence — and not only in the plan of redemption but also in the primordial plan for the creation of the world. The Incarnation is willed along with creation itself, but not merely in foreknowledge of the fall. God created the world and is revealed in order to become a Man in this world.

Man is created so that God may become man and through the Incarnation man is deified. "He who founded the existence — origin, "genesis" — of all creation, visible and invisible, by a single act of his will, ineffably had, before all ages and any beginning of the created world, good counsel, a decision, that he himself should inalterably unite with human nature through a true unity of hypostases. And he inalterably united human nature with himself — so that he himself should become a man, as he himself knows, and so that he should make man a god through union with himself."

New Development of the Logos Doctrine and the

Doctrine of the Knowledge of God.

The doctrine of the Logos, which had been shunted into the background in fourth century theology, again becomes widely developed in St. Maximus. In him the ancient tradition of the second and third centuries again comes to life. This tradition had, of course, never ceased in Alexandrian tradition — see St. Athanasius On the Incarnation, and St. Cyril of Alexandria, especially his interpretation of the Gospel of St. John. St. Maximus to some extent repeats Origen — more in his problems than in his answers. But the Logos doctrine has now been entirely freed from the ancient ambiguity, an ambiguity which was unavoidable before a precise definition of the Trinitarian mystery.

In any case, it is the idea of Revelation which defines the whole plan of St. Maximus’ reflections, as it did for the Apologists and the Alexandrians of the third century. However, all the originality and power of St. Maximus’ new Logos doctrine lies in the fact that his conception of Revelation is developed within Christological perspectives. St. Maximus is coming from Origen, as it were, but overcomes Origen and Origenism. It is not that Christology is included in the doctrine of Revelation, but that the mystery of Revelation is discernible in Christology. It is not that Christ’s person demands explanation, but that everything is explained in Christ’s person — the person of the God-Man.

In his theological thoughts St. Maximus sides with the Areopagiticum. In the doctrine of the knowledge of God he virtually repeats Evagrius. In his unlimited essence, in the ever-plentiful fulness of his existence, God is inaccessible to man and to all creation. The created mind only has access to knowledge of the fact that God exists — and exists as the First Cause of everything which has been created. And knowledge of God’s essence is totally inaccessible. "We believe that he exists, but in no way do we dare to investigate what his nature is, as does the demonic mind’ — fruitlessly, of course.

Created reason is worthy to bear witness to God only in denials, thereby confessing the complete inapplicability of any logical categories and concepts to Divine existence. For God is above everything, above any complexity and plurality. However, knowledge of God in his exalted existence is possible — not in the concepts of reason, but in supra-mental perception, in ecstasy.

Apophatic denial is itself at the same time renunciation — renunciation and the silencing of thought, renunciation and its liberation from the categorical stricture of discursive cognition. In other words, it is the emanation or frenzy of thought — ecstasy. The whole sense of apophatic theology is that it recalls this ecstatic experience — mystical theology.

As with Pseudo-Dionysius, apophatic theology for St. Maximus is not dialectic. This "not" is above dialectic antitheses and even higher than antinomies. This "not" demands total silence, and calls for the self-overcoming of thoughts which utter and are uttered. At the same time, it is a call to cognize God, but not as Creator, and not in those of his perfections which are revealed in deeds and in creation.

First of all, it is possible and necessary to cognize God "from the magnitude of his deeds." This is still preliminary knowledge. And the limit and goal of knowledge of God is to see God — so that in "ordeal" and in creative upsurge, through abnegation and love, the mind soars in the ever-peaceful darkness of Divine Mystery where it meets God face to face and lives in him. This is a kind of "return" of the mind — επιστροφή. God appears in the world, in certain cognizable forms, so that he can reveal himself to man; and man comes out to meet him, comes out of the world to find God as he is outside of the world. This is possible but only in ecstasy. In other words, through exceeding the measure of nature — "supra-naturally." By nature the created mind does not have the power to cognize God directly. However, this is given to the created mind from on high. "The soul can never break free to knowledge of God if God himself, by his blessed condescension towards the created mind, does not touch it and raise it to himself. And man’s mind could never manage to raise high enough to perceive any Divine illumination if God himself did not enrapture it — as much as the human mind can be enraptured — and did not enlighten it with Divine rays."

However, the Holy Spirit never works outside of man’s cognitive powers. Nor does the Holy Spirit abolish man’s cog -nitive powers or swallow them up with his activity. Rather, the Holy Spirit elevates them. Ecstasy is possible only through "ordeal." The path towards knowledge of God is a ladder which extends its summit into the Divine darkness, into a "formless and aimless place."

It is necessary to gradually forget about everything. One must forget about all creation. One must abstract oneself from everything created, even as something created by God. One must extinguish one’s love for creation, even though it was indeed created by God. In the "mystery of love" the mind becomes blind to everything besides God. "When the mind ascends to God through the attraction of love, it perceives neither itself nor anything which exists. Illumined by a measureless Divine light, it is insensible to everything created, just as a sensual glance does not notice the stars because of the sun’s radiance. Blessed is the man who continuously delights in Divine beauty while passing all creation by."

This is renunciation, not merely distraction. And it is the transformation of the cognizer himself. Ecstasy is a direct meeting with God, and therefore knowledge of his essence. At the same time it is the deification of the mind, the transformation of the very element of thought. The Holy Spirit envelops the whole soul, and, as it were, transfigures or "transposes" it. This is a state of beneficial adoption, and the soul is brought to the unity of the Father’s hidden existence.

In pure hearts God inscribes his letters through the Spirit as he once did on Moses’ tablets. Christ’s mind settles in saints — "not by deprivation of our own mental force, and not by personally or in essence moving to its place, but by illuminating the force of our mind with his quality and by bringing its activity into a oneness with himself — (see below on becoming like Christ and Christ’s mystical settling into human souls). "The illumined one manages to recline with the Bridegroom, the Logos, in the treasure house of mysteries." This is the highest and the last stage. The limit and goal of deification in the Incarnation of the Logos and in that knowledge which the human mind preserved in Christ by virtue of hvpostatic union. But it is also a return to the first, to the beginning. In this life few are permitted to reach these mysterious heights: great saints and seers, Moses on Mount Sinai, the Apostles on the Mount of Transfiguration — Tabor, St. Paul when he was carried away to the third heaven. The completeness of knowledge of God will be realized and will become accessible only beyond the bounds of this world, in the future age. However, it is precisely in ecstasy that the justification for the cognizing "ordeal" lies.

The way to ecstasy is "pure prayer" — here St. Maximus follows Evagrius Ponticus. This, first of all, is the perfect self-discipline and nakedness of the spirit — its being bared of any thought, of all mental images in general. Such nakedness is a grace and a gift. "The grace of prayer joins our souls with God, and by this joining it separates it from all thoughts. And by living with God it becomes God-like." The mind’s nakedness means rising higher than any images and a corresponding transformation of the mind itself, which also attains simplicity, uniformity, and formlessness. "And when in prayer you have a mind estranged from matter and images, know that you have attained the same measure of apatheia and perfect love.” The moving force of the “ordeal” is indeed love — αγάπη. “Love is such a disposition of the soul when it prefers nothing which exists to the knowledge of God. and he who has a predilection for anything earthly cannot enter this condition of love.” St. Maximus often speaks of the highest stages of love as Divine Eros — ό θείος έρως.

Apophatic theology only testifies to these ineffable mysteries of holy frenzy and love. In this sense all apophatic expressions are symbolic through and through. Moreover, knowledge of God is always a continuous and endless path where the end always means the beginning, and where everything is for the time being only partly in a mirror or in divination.

However, the basic mystery of "mystical theology" is revealed to everyone and for all, for it is the primary dogma of the Christian faith. This is the mystery of Trinity and all the pathos of knowledge of God is in the comprehension of this mystery. For it is a knowledge of God in his own essence. This mystery is uttered and told in words, but it must be comprehended in experience as the mystery of perfect unity — here St. Maximus follows the Cappadocians, especially St. Gregory of Nazianzus, and also Evagrius Ponticus. In other words, it must be comprehended through the experience of deification, through life in God, through the appearance of the Trinity in the cognizing soul itself. And once again, this will be allowed only sometime in that last deification — with the perfect revelation of the Trinity.

The mystery of the Trinity is a mystery of the inner Divine Life. It is God outside of Revelation, Deus Absconditus. However, it is recognized only through Revelation, through theophany, through the appearance and descent of the Logos into the world. God the Trinity is cognized in the Logos and through the Logos. Through the Logos the whole world is mysteriously permeated by the rays of the Trinity. One can recognize the inseparable actions of the Three Hypostases in everything. Everything is and lives intelligently. In Divine Existence we contemplate the Wisdom which was born without beginning and the Life which is imparted eternally. Thus the Divine Unity is revealed as the Trinity — the Tri-Hypostatic monad; the "unlimited uniting of the Three Unlimited Ones."

It is not "one in another," and not "one and another," and not "one above another" — but the Trinity is also at once a Unity. God is entirely the Trinity without blending. This removes both the limitedness of Hellenic polytheism, and the aridity of Judaic monotheism which gravitates towards a kind of atheism. Neither the Hellene nor the Jew knows about Jesus Christ. This means that contradictions in doctrines about God are eliminated through Christ — in the revelation of the Trinity.

It is especially necessary to note that St. Maximus taught about the Spirit’s procession from the Father "through the Son." This is nothing more than a confirmation of the ineffable — but irreversible — order of hypostases in the perfect consubstantiality of the Trinitarian existence. It is very curious that St. Maximus had to speak out on the Western filioque — in a letter to the Cypriot presbyter Marinus, which is preserved only in fragments which one read in in the Florentine Cathedral. Reassuring the Easterners, St. Maximus explained that "the Westerners do not represent the Son as the cause of the Spirit, for they know that the Father is the single cause of the Son and the Spirit — the former through birth; the latter by procession. They merely show that the Holy Spirit proceeds through the Son in order to signify affinity and insepar — ability of essence." Here St. Maximus is completely within the compass of the ancient Eastern tradition.

The mystery of Trinity is beyond knowledge. At the same time, it contains the buttress of knowledge. Everything in the world is a mystery of God and a symbol — a symbol of the Logos, for it is Revelation of the Logos. The whole world is a Revelation — a kind of book of the unwritten Revelation. Or, in another simile, the whole world is the attire of the Logos. In the variety and beauty of sensual phenomena, the Logos plays with man, as it were, to fascinate and attract him so that he raises the curtain and begins to see the spiritual sense under the external and visible images.

God the Logos is God of Revelation, Deus Revelatus, and everything that is said about the Godhead in his relation with the world is said first of all about God the Logos. The Divine Logos is the beginning and the end goals for the world — αρχή καί τέλος — its creative and preservative force, the limit of all created strivings and "movements." And the world exists and stands precisely through this communion with the Divine Logos, through the Divine energies, through a kind of participation in the Divine perfections. At the same time it is moving towards God, towards God the Logos. The whole world is in motion, is striving. God is above movement. It is not he who is moving, but the created and roused world which he created which moves towards him. Here the thought is similar to that found in the Corpus Areopagiticum.

The problem of knowledge is to see and recognize in the world its first-created foundations, to identify the world as a great system of God’s deeds, wills, and prototypes. The mind must leave the perceptible plane, must liberate itself from the conventionalities of external, empirical cognition, and rise to contemplation, to "natural contemplation” — φυσική θεωρία — that is, to contemplation of “nature” in its last Divine definitions and foundations. For St. Maximus "contemplation" is precisely this search for the Divine Logos of existence, the contemplation of the Logos in creation as Creator and Founder. Again this is possible only through "ordeal." Only a transformed mind can see everything in the Logos and begin to see the light of the Logos everywhere. The Sun of Truth begins to shine in the purified mind, and for the latter everything looks different.

It is not becoming for man to insolently avoid these indirect paths of knowledge and willfully force his way to the Unap — proachable and Uncontainable. Spiritual life has its gradualness. "Contemplation" is the highest stage in spiritual coming-into-existence, in spiritual birth and growth. It is the penultimate — and unavoidable — stage on the very threshold of mysterious frenzy which enraptures the soul in the transsubstantiated darkness of the Trinnitanan reality. And conversely Revelation is a kind of step down from the "natural mystery" of the Godhead, from the fullness of the Divine Trinity to the heterogeneity and multitudi — nousness of creation. Following St. Gregory and Pseudo-Dionysius, St. Maximus speaks of a charitable effusion or imparting of Good — a Neoplatonic image (see Origen on the Logos as "One and Many").

The path of Revelation and the path of knowledge correspond to one another. It is a single path, but it leads in two directions — apocalypsis and gnosis; descent and ascent. And knowledge is man’s reply, man’s response. Cognition of nature as God’s creation has its own special religious significance. In contemplation the soul is pacified — but contemplation itself is possible through apatheia. A new motive is creatively introduced into the harmony of the cosmos.

The world is creatural that is, it was created and came into being, it was created by the will of God. The will of — God is God’s very relationship to the world in general, the point of contact and meeting. For St. Maximus, will always signifies a relationship to "something else." Properly speaking, God wills only about the world. One must not speak of an intra-Trinitarian will, for God’s will is always the indivisible will of the Holy Trinity.

According to St. Maximus the world’s createdness means first of all limitedness and finiteness — limited, because definite. The world is not without beginning, but begins. St. Maximus resol -utely objects to the conjecture about the world’s eternity, or its "co-eternity" with God — έ£ άϊδίον. Here he hardly had in mind only Proclus — see, for example, John Philoponus1 book On the Eternity of the World Against Proclus. St. Maximus, one must think, had Origen in mind as well. "Do not ask: How is it that, being eternally Good, God creates now? How and why is it so recent! Do not look into this."

This is a direct challenge to Origen’s quandaries: how can one imagine Divine nature to be "inactive and idle?" Is it possible to think that goodness at one time did not do good, and that Omnipotence had nothing? And does God really "becom" the Creator and begin to create? St. Maximus makes a strict distinction between God’s will about the world and the actual existence of the world. This will, of course, is from eternity — God’s eternal counsel. In no way, however, does this signify the eternity of the world itself — of the "nature" of the world. "The Creator drew out knowledge of everything which exists, which knowledge had preexisted in him from eternity, and realized it when he willed’’ The origin of the world is the realization of God’s eternal plan for it. In other words, it is the creation of the created substratum itself. "We say that he is not only the Creator of quality, but also of qualitized nature. It is for this reason that creations do not coexist with God from eternity."

St. Maximus emphasizes the limitedness of creatures and, on the contrary, he recalls God’s limitlessness. "For the unstudied wisdom of the limitless essence is inaccessible to human understanding." The world is "something else," but it holds together with its ideal connections. These connections are the "actions" or the "energies" of the Logos. In them God touches the world, and the world comes into contact with the Godhead. St. Maximus usually speaks of Divine "logoi or words” — λόγοι. This is a very complex, polysemantic, and rich concept which goes back to the early theology of the Apologists and is continued by the Cappadocians, Evagrius Ponticus, and others — λόγοι σπερματικοί — in the Greek East, and St. Augustine continues the idea of Tertullian in the Latin West — rationes seminales. These are first of all Divine thoughts and desires, the pre-determinations of God’s will — προορισμοί — the “eternal thoughts of the eternal Mind" in which he creates or invents the world and cognizes the world. Like some creative rays, the "logoi" radiate from the Divine center and again gather in it. God the Logos is a kind of mysterious circle of forces and thoughts, as in the thought of Clement of Alexandria. And secondly, they are prototypes of things, "paradigms." In addition, they are dynamic prototypes. The "logos" of something is not only its "truth" or "sense," and not only its "law" or "definition" (oros), but primarily its forming principle. St. Maximus distinguishes the "logos of nature" or law, the "logos of providence" and the "logos of judgment” — λόγος της κρίσεως. Thus the fate of all things and everything is taken in, from their origin to the resolution of the world process.

In ontology St. Maximus is close to St. Gregory of Nyssa. For him the perceptible world is immaterial in its qualitative foundations. It is a kind of mysterious "compression" — or even "condensation" — of the spiritual world. Everything in the world is spiritual in its depths. One can recognize the fabric of the Logos everywhere. There are two planes in the world: the spiritual or that which is comprehended by the mind — τα νοητά, and the perceptible or corporeal. There is a strict and precise correspondence between them. The perceptible world is not a passing phantom, the disintegration or disparagement of reality, but belongs to the fullness and integrity of reality. It is an image, a “type” — τύπος — or symbol of the spiritual world. In essence, the world is united and one, "for the whole spiritual world is mysteriously and symbolically — "in symbolic eidos” — reflected in the perceptible world — τυπόυμενος φαίνεται — for those who know how to see. The perceptible world by its foundations — τοΐς λόγοις — is entirely contained in the world which is comprehended by the mind — ένυπάρχων. Our world consists of that world, its logoi. And that world consists of ours, which has images — τοις τύποις?"

The connection or link between the two worlds is unbreakable and non-blending. St. Maximus defines it as an "identity through hypostases." "The world comprehended by the mind is found in the perceptible world, as the spirit is in the body, while the perceptible world is joined with the world comprehended by the mind like the body is joined with the soul. Both worlds comprise a single world, as a single man is comprised of a soul and a body."

By itself the "material essence" — that is, matter — is the beginning of "non-existence" — μη ον. However, it is entirely permeated with “spiritual logoi" and phenomena which are well reinforced in the comprehension of the mind, in "noumena." To that extent the whole material world is in communion with the Logos, and only through this communion does it quit non-existence. The reality comprehended by the mind exists outside of time. This does not, however, mean “in eternity” but rather “in the ages” — εν αίώνι. The reality comprehended by the mind is not without beginning, but “originates existence in the ages” — εν αΐώνι. It begins to be, originates, starts, comes into existence from non-existence, but it is not put an end to through destruction. God the Creator grants it indestructibility. In this lies the "non-finiteness" and "timelessness" of mind-comprehended existence — that is, the fact that it cannot be captured in time. However, εν αιώνι in no way ever means aei. St. Maximus defines it thus: "Eon is time without movement, and time is eon measured by movement." For all that, their mutual correspondence and commensurability — "symmetricalness," writes St. Maximus — is not removed. The genuine eternity of the Godhead is non-commensurate with the eons. Here, any "how" or "when" is unquestionably inapplicable.

At the top of the created ladder stands the angelic world — the world of pure spirits. St. Maximus speaks of the angelic world in the same way as does the Corpus Areopagiticum, and he does not say very much. It is not the angelic world which is the focus of creation, precisely because the angels are incorporeal — only the fallen spirits are drawn into matter by virtue of their impious lust and passion.

Only man, who actually closes both worlds in himself — the spiritual, "incorporeal" world and the material world — can be the focus of creation. This thought is developed from St. Gregory of Nyssa. In his doctrine about man St Maximus expresses the symbolic motif with special force. By virtue of his bi-unity man is primarily a symbolic being. The principle of mutual symbolic reflection of some parts of the world into others is very characteristic of St. Maximus’ whole system. Essentially, it is nothing more than the principle of harmony and concord we see in Pseudo-Dionysius. In St. Maximus1 thought, however, it is greater than dynamism. Concord is given and assigned. The world is harmonious, but it must be even more harmonious and self-disciplined. This is the task of man, who has been placed at the center point of creation. This is the content of the created process. Potentially the whole world is reflected and, as it were, inscribed in created reason — here is based the possibility for knowledge, for cognition in general.

By itself, however, human reason can cognize nothing. The possibility of cognition is realized only in an efficacious relationship with the external world. St. Maximus always lays stress on man’s connection with his surroundings because he sees in man a microcosm, the middle and focus of created existence in general.

Man’s goal lies in embracing the whole world, in union — ένωσις, and in uniting it in himself, in re-uniting it with the Logos which has contained from eternity the life-giving foundations of all kinds of existence. Man must unite everything in himself and through himself unite with God. He has been called to this from his creation, and in this summons is the mystery of God-Manhood.

Man is created as a microcosm — "a small world in a great one." The mystery of creation is revealed in man. At the same time it is man who is a living image of the Logos in creation. Man is an image of God and in him are mysteriously concentrated all the Divine forces and energies which are revealed in the world. He himself must become a "mental world." By his very arrangement man is called to deification and to a process whereby the deification of all creation is accomplished precisely in him. For the sake of this, the created world was "thought up" and created.

First of all, man is summoned to unite. He must take away and extinguish in himself all "divisions of created nature" — "divisions" — διαιρέσεις, not "differences,” the foundation of which are in the Logos. Here the influence is from Philo’s doctrine of λόγος-το μευς. In himself man must overcome the division of sexes, for in his destiny he is one — "united man." In this respect St. Maximus is reminiscent entirely of St. Gregory of Nyssa and, together with St. Gregory, he rejects the Origenist supposition about the pre-existence of souls. Man was never "incorporeal” — άσαρκος or ασώματος, although by its nature the soul does not depend on the body — and is therefore imperishable — and the soul possesses a capability for cognition of God which is equal to that of the angels.

But man is not a soul inserted in a body — he is not composed of soul and body. The soul arises and is born along with the body. From the beginning man was created as he is now — perhaps "in foreknowledge" of the fall, as in the thought of St. Gregory of Nyssa and in Nemesius of Emesa’s On Human Nature [περι φύσεως άνθρώπου]. Nemesius’ book, incidentally, was often quoted as St. Gregory of Nyssa’s πepί κατασκευήw ανθρώπου. Nemesius’ work was heavily used by St. John of Damascus and by Latin medieval theologians, especially by Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas.

Without sin, however, the lower would be subordinated to the higher. Sin destroyed this possible and originally intended symphony and harmony. Disharmony began — and in it is all the poignancy of the fall — for it is a direct antithesis to man’s calling. Man had to unite the whole world in himself, and direct the whole totality of his powers to God. Through a realization of a genuine hierarchy and coordination of the cosmic forces, man should have turned the whole world into an integral and united organism. Then inundating streams of grace would have poured forth over the world, and God would have appeared entirely in everything, giving creation immutable and eternal bliss.

It is this goal which was not fulfilled. The fall broke the chain of existence — into the world came death, which disunites and decays. This did not alter the plan and structure of the world. The tasks remained the same. Unrealized through the creation of the first man, it is settled by Divine force, through the "renewal of nature," in the New Adam, in the Incarnation of the Logos.

It is characteristic of St. Maximus that he judges the Old Adam by the New Adam. He judges the "beginning" by the "end" — "teleologically," as he himself observes. He judges and divines man’s calling by the completeness of the God-Man. For human nature was predestined to it from the beginning, according to God’s original plan and original will. In this sense, man is mainly a Revelation of God. This is the created likeness of the Logos. This points out the Incarnation of the Logos beforehand as the fulfillment of God’s eternal counsel on the world. And in the image of Christ are combined the fullness of the Godhead and the fullness of creation. According to St. Maximus the Incarnation of the Logos enters into God’s original will in the creation of the world. God’s wisdom distinguishes creatures, while Divine Love ioins them together, and to God. The Logos becomes flesh, becomes man, and creation ascends to a likeness of God.

"Incarnation" and "deification" — σάρκωσiw και θέωσιw — are two linked movements. In a certain sense the Logos is always becoming incarnate, and in everything, for everything in the world is a reflection of the Logos, especially in man, who was placed on the edge of the world as the receiver of God’s grace. The Incarnation of the Logos crowns God’s descent into the world, and creates the possibility for the opposite movement. God becomes a man, becomes incarnate, through his love for man. And man becomes God through grace, is deified through his love for God.

In love originates the "beautiful inter-revolution" — καλή άντιστροφή. Christ the God-Man is the beginning and the end of all oikonomia — the center and the focus of all ages and all kinds of existence. Divine oikonomia is independent of human freedom, of its choices and concord, for it is God’s initial creative plan. And it would have been realized even apart from the fall. "The Logos became flesh" not merely for redemption. In actual history God’s supervision is realized in a fallen and dissolute world, and the God-Man proves to be the Redeemer, the Sacrificial Lamb.

The history which has come about is the history of a fallen world which has been restored from the fall, which has been healed of evil and sin. But the mystery of the God-Man, the mystery of Divine Love is wider and deeper than redemptive mercy. The whole Revelation is the Incarnation of God, and the Incarnation of the Logos. In this sense the whole Revelation is anthropomorphic. This relates directly to the Scriptures. They are all written about him — about Christ the God-Man, not only about the Logos. Therefore, a direct and literal understanding of the Scriptures is insufficient and even wrong. For history itself is only a symbol which appears and covers spiritual reality. The same also applies to the liturgy, where every action is a mystery, which symbolically signifies and realizes definite events in the invisible "mind-comprehended" plan. Therefore, understanding the Scriptures literally and directly is like murdering Christ, who resides under the letter of the Scriptures. And it is belated Judaism — indeed, the "letter" of the Law is abolished with the arrival of truth and grace. Literalism in exegesis is Judaistic insensitivity to the Incarnation. For, on the whole, the Scriptures are a kind of Incarnation of the Logos. This is the "sense, the force of all meaning and images of the Scriptures, and the cognition of visible and invisible creatures." The wise fathers who were anointed by the Spirit learn directly from the Logos. From the Logos also come the spiritual illuminations of the ancient patriarchs and all the saints. Thus St. Maximus partly revives the ancient idea of the "seeds of the Logos."

St. Maximus’ whole doctrine about the knowledge of God is essentially Christocentric. First, the whole problem of knowledge is to recognize the realized God-Man as the basic theme of created existence and life. Second, knowledge itself is possible only because God the Logos descends in certain cognitive images, as a forewarning of his pre-willed Incarnation. Man is created in God’s image, and therefore the truth is in man’s image.

The God-Man.

The Incarnation of the Logos is the basis and goal of Revelation — its basic theme and meaning. From the beginning God the Logos appoints Incarnation for himself so that the consecration and deification of all creation, of all the world, is accomplished in the union of the God-Man.

For man is a microcosm. He stands on the border of worlds and unites in himself all planes of existence. He is called to unite and gather everything in himself, as St. Gregory of Nyssa taught. In the prospects of this universal consecration of existence, the speculative correctness of strict, precise dyophysitism is particu -larly clearly evident and comprehensible. This is not only a soteriological axiom or postulate. St. Maximus does not only show the fullness, the "perfection" of Christ’s human nature from the necessity of redemption — "what is not assumed is not healed." He does indeed repeat these words of St. Gregory of Nazianzus. For the world was created only in order that in the fulfillment of its fate God should be in everything and that everything should commune with him through the Logos Incarnate. Hence, it is understandable that in the Incarnation the whole totality of created nature — πάντα τα ημών — must be assumed by the Logos and assimilated "without any omission."

In the fallen world the Incarnation turns out to be redemption, salvation. But from time immemorial, it was willed not as a means of salvation, but as the fulfillment of created existence in general, as its justification and foundation. It is for this reason that the redemption itself is by no means exhausted by some negative factors alone — liberation from sin, condemnation, decay and death. The main thing is the very fact of inseparable union of natures — the entrance of Life into created existence. For us, however, it is easier to understand the Incarnation as the path to salvation. It is this aspect which is the most important thing of all, for we must, first of all, be redeemed in Christ and through Christ.

The mystery of God-Manhood has been active in the world from the beginning. St. Maximus distinguishes two moments and periods: the mystery of the Divine Incarnation and the "grace of human deification." The Old Testament is the still uncompleted history of the Church. The historic event of the Gospel is the focus and the division of two epochs, the summit and mystical focus of oikonomia. This is the fulfillment, the crowning of the revelations of the Logos in the world the Logos created, in the Law and Scripture the Logos gave to man.

Christ is born of a Virgin. Therefore, first of all, he is consubstantial with us — "the same in nature." But he is born not of seed, but by an immaculate Virgin Birth, a birth which was "controlled not by the law of sin but by the law of Divine truth." Therefore he is free of sin — the hereditary sin which is transmitted first of all in the "illegality" of carnal conception, echoing especially the thought of St. Gregory of Nyssa. He receives the primordial, still chaste, human nature, as it was created by God from time immemorial, as Adam had it before the fall. And with this he "renews" nature, displays it beside the sin "of which decrepitude consists." However, for the sake of our salvation the Lord primordially subordinates himself to the order of sufferings and decay. He voluntarily deigns to accept mortality and death itself, from which he could be entirely free, being beyond sin. The Lord subordinates himself to the consequences of sin, while staying not privy to sin itself. In this is his healing penance.

He becomes a man "not according to a law of nature," but according to the will of oikonomia. "Innocent and sinless, he paid the whole debt for mankind, as if he himself were guilty, and thereby returned them anew to the original grace of the kingdom. He gave himself for us at the cost of redemption and deliverance, and for our pernicious passions he gave with his life-giving suffering — the curative healing and salvation of the whole world."

Christ enters the "suffering" or "passionate" order of things, lives in it, but inwardly remains independent of it and free. He is "clothed" in our nature’s capacity for suffering — this phrase is more accurate than "passion" — through which we are attracted to sin and fall under the power of the evil one. But he remains passionless — that is, immobile or non-suffering, "non-passive," free and active as regards "reproachful" or "anti-natural" or "para-Physical" incentives. This is "imperishability of the will," "volition." Through abstinence, long-suffering, and love, Christ warded off and overcame all temptations, and displayed in his life every virtue and wisdom.

This imperishability of the will is reinforced later by the imperishability of nature — that is, the resurrection. The Lord descends even to the gates of hell, to the very region of death, and deposes or weakens it. Life proves to be stronger than death Death is conquered in resurrection, as in the abolition of any suffering, weakness and decay — that is, in a land of "transformation" of nature into immortality and imperishability. The series of stages is: existence; true existence or virtue; and eternal existence which is in God, which is "deification." At the same time there is a series of redeeming actions: union with God in the Incarnation, imperishability of will in the righteousness of life, and imperishability of nature in the resurrection.

Throughout, St. Maximus emphasizes the integrating activity of the God-Man. Christ embraced and united everything in himself. He removed the cleavages of existence. In his impassive birth he combined the male and female genders. Through his holy life he combined the universe and paradise. Through his ascension, he combined earth and heaven, the created and uncreated. And he traces and reduces everything to the proto-beginning or proto-cause. Not only because he is the Logos, and creatively embraces everything and contains it within himself but also by his human will, his human volition, which brings about God’s will, which organically coincides with it and receives it as its own inner and intimate measure or model.

After all, the fall was a volitional act, and therefore an injury to the human will, a disconnecting of human will and God’s will, and a disintegration of human will itself, among passions and subordinating external impressions or influences. Healing must penetrate to the original wound and the original ulcer of sinfulness. Healing must be the doctoring and restoration of the human will in its fullness, self-discipline, integrity, and accord with God’s will — here there is the usual antithesis: Adam’s disobedience and Christ’s obedience and submissiveness. St. Maximus extends this with his ontological interpretation.

St. Maximus speaks the language of Leontius. He opposes nature (and essence), as something general and merely conceivable — able to be contemplated with the mind — to hypostasis, as some -thing concrete and real — πραγματικώς υφιστάμενον. For him hypostasity is not exhausted in features or “peculiarities” but is first of all independent existence — καθ’ έαυτό. “Non-un-hypostasity” or reality does not unfailingly signify hypostasity; that is, independence, but can also indicate "inner-hypostasity" — that is, existence in another, and with another . Only the concrete or individual is real. As for Leontius, hypostasis is signified not so much by individualizing features as by an image of existence and life. Hypostasity is not a special and superfluous feature, but a real originality. Therefore, "non-self-hypostasity" by no means limits or decreases the fullness or "perfection" of nature. The fullness of nature is determined and described by general features, "essential" or "natural" traits — they are "tokens of perfection," of completeness or fullness.

The Incarnation of the Logos is the reception and inclusion of human nature into the unalterable hypostasis of the Logos. Christ is united, a "united hypostasis," and it is this which is the hypostasis of the Logos. It is for just this reason that it is said: the Logos became flesh, for the Logos is the subject. As St. Maximus explains, "became flesh" precisely signifies acceptance into hypostasis, and "origin" or genesis through such acceptance.

In a certain sense, through the Incarnation the hypostasis of the Logos changes from simple to complex — "compound;" συνθετος. However, this complexity merely signifies that the single hypostasis is at once and inseparably the hypostasis; that is, the personal center, for both of the two natures. The complexity is in the union of natures which remain without any change in their natural characteristics. The Incarnation is "God’s ineffable humility," his kenosis, but it is not the "impoverishing of the Godhead." And the human in the hypostasis of the Logos does not cease being "consubstantial with," "of the same essence with" us.

St. Maximus defines "hypostatic union" precisely as the union or reduction of "different essences or natures" in a unity of person — hypostasis. The natures remain different and dissimilar. Their “differentness” does not cease with union, and is also preserved in that indissoluble and unflagging inter-communion, inter-penetration — περιχώρησις eις άλλήλας, which is established by the union. "In saying that Christ is of two natures, we mean that he consists of Divinity and humanity as a whole consists of parts; and in saying that after the union he is in two natures, we believe that he abides in the Godhead and in Manhood, as a whole consists of parts. And Christ’s "parts" are his Divinity and Humanity, of which and in which he abides." What is more, he is not only "of two" or "in two" but simply "two natures." Since there is no mixing, it is necessary to count. Christ’s human nature is consubstantial with ours, but at the same time it is free of original sm — this is also connected with the immaculate conception of Christ and the virgin birth. In other words, primordial human nature is displayed and realized anew in Christ in all its chastity and purity.

And by virtue of this hypostatic nature all that is human in Christ was permeated with Divinity, deified, transformed — here the image of the red hot iron is used. Here the human is given a new and special form of existence, and this is connected with the very purpose of the coming of the Logos — after all, he "became flesh" in order to renew decayed nature, for the sake of a new form of existence. The deification of the human is not its absorption or dissolution. On the contrary, it is in this likeness to God, or likening to God, that the human genuinely becomes itself. For man is created in the image of God, and is summoned to the likeness of God. In Christ is realized the highest and utmost measure of this likening, which fortifies the human in its genuine natural originality. Deification signifies the indissoluble connection, perfect accord and unity. First of all, there is inseparability — always "in communion with one another." By virtue of hypostatic union Christ,while being God, is "incarnate but unaltered," and always acts in everything "not only as God or according to his Divinity but at the same time as a man, according to his humanity." In other words, all of Divine Life draws humanity into itself and manifests itfcelf or flows out only through it. This is a "new and ineffable form for revealing Christ’s natural actions" — in inseparable union, however, without any change or decrease in what is characteristic for each nature, "immutably."

The possibility for such a union is founded in the natural "non-non-divinity" of the human spirit which is the intermediary link in the union of the Logos with animated flesh, an idea taken from the thought of St. Gregory of Nazianzus. The form of Christ’s activity in humanity was different from ours, higher than it, and often even higher than nature, for he acted entirely freely and voluntarily, without hesitation or bifurcation, and in immutable harmony, and even union of all desires with the will of the Logos. And again, this was more the fulfillment of human measure than its abolition. God’s will, which motivates and forms human volition, is accomplished in everything. However, this did not eliminate human volition itself. It befits man to do God’s will, accepting it as his own, for God’s will reveals and builds the tastes and paths which most correspond to the goals and meaning of human life.

St. Maximus sees first of all the unity of life in the unity of person. Because this unity is realized in the two natures so fully, human nature is generally a likeness of Divine nature. Recalling man’s likeness to God makes it much easier for St. Maximus to disclose and defend Orthodox Dyophysitism. This was also an important argument against Monophysitism in general, with its anthropological self-depreciation or minimalism. In St. Maximus there was no longer that vagueness which remained in Leontius in connection with the analogy of soul and body. St. Maximus flatly rejects the possibility of mixing or of the conjunction of hypcstases for a certain time, then their new separation or restoration. Therefore he categorically denies even the logical possibility of the pre-existence of Christ’s humanity before the Incarnation. In general, he uses the comparison with the human composition with very great restraint. He always emphasizes that we are speaking of the Incarnation of the Logos, and not the deification of man. By these same motives he brusquely rejects the doctrine of the pre-existence of souls as being completely incompatible with the true hypostatic unity of each person.

In the doctrine of the two wills and two energies in Christ Orthodox Dyophysitism becomes totally complete and definite. Only an open and direct confession of natural human energy and will in Christ removes any ambiguity in the doctrine of the God-Man. The metaphysical premises of St. Maximus’ discussion of two energies can be expressed in the following way. First, will and energy are essential traits of spiritual nature — they are natural traits. Therefore, the two natures unavoidably entails a two-ness of natural energies, and any wavering in acknowledging their two-ness signifies indistinctness in the confession of the two natures. Secondly, one must clearly and precisely distinguish natural will as the basic trait or characteristic of spiritual existence — θέλημα φυσικόν — and as selective volition, volitional choice and variation between possibilities which differ in significance and quality — θέλημα γνωμικον.

St. Maximus dwells on these preliminary definitions in great detail, for it is here that the basic disagreement with the Monophysites was revealed. The Monophysites claimed a union of volition and energy in Christ, a union of personal or hypostatic will, for Christ is one, his will is one. Consequently, one volition and one will. Does not unity of person include unity of will? And does not the assumption of two volitions weaken the union of the person of the God-Man? The Monophysites’ misunderstanding revealed an authentic theological question: what can the two wills and two energies mean given the unity of the willing subject? To start with, there are essentially two questions here. The concept of hypostatic will" can also be ambiguous: it means either the absorption or disintegration of human will in the Divine dynamic unity of volition; or the assumption of some "third" will, which corresponds to a "complex hypostasis" of the God-Man, as a special principle apart from and equal to the natures being unified.

St. Maximus first of all dismisses this last supposition: the whole is not some third thing — it does not have a special existence apart from its components; the wholeness signifies only the new and special form of existence of these components, but at the same time no new source of will and energy arises or is revealed.

The unity of hypostasis in Christ determines the form of the self-disclosure of the natures, but does not create any special "third" independent reality. The hypostasis of the God-Man "has only that which is characteristic of each of his natures. What is more, the hypostasis of Christ is, after all, the hypostasis of the Logos, which is eternal and unalterable, and which became the hypostasis for the humanity it received. Consequently, unity of "hypostatic volition" can practically mean only the unity of the will of God, which absorbs human will. This would clearly damage the fullness or "perfection" of the human composition in Christ. Least of all can one speak of a temporary and "relative assimilation" of human will by the Logos in the order of oikonomic adaption. This means introducing Docetism into the mystery of the Incarnation.

Will is a trait or characteristic of reasoning nature. St. Maximus defines it as "the force of striving for what conforms to nature, a force which embraces all traits or characteristics which essentially belong to the nature." One must add: the force of a reasoning soul, a reasoning striving, which is "verbal" or "logical," and a free and "masterful striving" — κατ’ έξουσιαν. Will, as the capacity to desire and freely decide, is something innate. A "reasoning" nature cannot be anything but volitional, for reason is essentially "despotic," a "dominating" principle; that is, a principle of self-determination, the capability of being defined by one’s self and through one’s self. Here is the boundary which divides "reasoning" beings from "non-reasoning" or "non-verbal" ones, who are blindly allured by nature’s might. They objected to St. Maximus by asking: but is there really no nuance of necessity or inevitability in the very concept of "nature," which cannot be eliminated? So the concept of "natural will" includes an internal contradiction. St. Athanasius was reproached for the same thing in his day; and Theodoret reproached St. Cyril for this as well.

St. Maximus resolutely deflects this reproach. Why is nature a necessity? Does one really have to say that God is forced to be, that he is good by necessity? In created beings "nature" determines the purposes and tasks of freedom, but does not limit it. Here we arrive at a basic distinction: will and choiceγνώμη. One could say volition and desire, or willfulness, almost arbitrariness. Freedom and will are not arbitrariness at all. Freedom of choice not merely does not belong to the perfection of freedom. On the contrary, it is diminishing and a distortion of freedom. Genuine freedom is an undivided, unshakable, integral striving and attraction of the soul to Goodness. It is an integral impulse of reverence and love. "Choice" is by no means an obligatory condition of freedom. God wills and acts in perfect freedom, but he does not waver and does not choose. Choice — προαιρεσις — which is properly "preference," as St. Maximus himself observes, presupposes bifurcation and vagueness — the incompleteness and unsteadiness of the will. Only a sinful and feeble will wavers and chooses.

According to the idea of St. Maximus the fall of the will consists precisely in losing integrity and spontaneity, in the fact that the will changes from intuitive to discursive, and in the fact that volition develops into a very complex process of search, trial, and choice. In this process that which is personal and special is attendant. Thus do personal desires take shape. Here incommensurate attractions clash and struggle. But the measure of perfection and purity of will is its simplicity — that is, precisely its integrity and uniformity. This is only possible through: "Let Thy will be done!" This is the highest measure of freedom, the highest reality of freedom, which accepts the first-created will of God and therefore expresses its own genuine depths. St. Maximus always speaks of the reality and efficacy of the human will in Christ with special stress; otherwise all oikonomia would turn into a phantom. Christ, as the "new man," was a complete or "perfect" man, and accepted all that was human in order to heal it. But it was the will, the desire, which was the source of sin in the Old Adam, and therefore it was the will which demanded doctoring and healing most of all. Salvation would not have been accomplished if the will had not been accepted and healed.

However, all of human nature in Christ was sinless and viceless, for this is the nature of the Primordial one. And his will was the primordial will, which was still untouched by the breath of sin. In this is all the originality of Christ’s human will — it differs from ours only "as regards the inclination to sin." There are no waverings or contradictions. Inwardly, it is unified and inwardly it conforms to the will of the Godhead. There is no clash or struggle between the two natural wills — and there must not be! For human nature is God’s creation, God’s will realized. Therefore, in it there is nothing — and cannot be anything — contrary to or opposing God’s will. God’s will is not something external for human will, but its source and goal, its beginning and its telos. Of course, this coincidence or accord of wills is not their mixing.

In a certain sense human actions and will in Christ were higher than nature or above it. "For through hypostatic union it was entirely deified, for which reason it was also completely not privy to sin." Through hypostatic union with the Logos everything human in Christ was strengthened and transformed. This transformation is proclaimed first of all in perfect freedom. Human nature in Christ is taken out from under the power of natural necessity, under which it found itself only by virtue of sin. If it remains within the bounds of the natural order, that is not so under compulsion but voluntarily and competently. The Savior voluntarily and freely takes upon himself all the weaknesses and sufferings of man in order to free him from them — like fire melts wax, or the sun drives away the fog.

St. Maximus distinguishes a dual assumption — the same distinction appears later in St. John of Damascus. First, there is natural or essential assumption. The Logos accepts the entire fullness of human nature in its primordial innocence and guiltlessness, but in that feeble condition into which it fell through sin, with all the weaknesses and flaws which are the consequences of sin or even retribution for sin but are themselves not anything sinful — the so-called "unreproachable passions" such as hunger and thirst, fear, fatigue. At the same time, though, the acceptance of weaknesses and disparagement are acts of free subordination, for in incorrupt nature there is no need to be feeble or under someone’s power. It is especially necessary to observe that St. Maximus directly ascribes omniscience to Christ through humanity as well. Indeed, as he understands it, "ignorance" was one of the most shameful flaws of human nature in sin. Secondly, there is relative or oikonomic assumption — acceptance in love and compassion. Thus the Savior accepted sin and man’s guilt, his sinful and guilty feebleness. In the portrayal by St. Maximus Christ’s human nature proves to be particularly active, efficacious, and free. This concerns the redemptive sufferings more than anything else. This was free passion, the free acceptance and fulfillment of the will of God. In the Savior’s chaste life the restoration of the image of God in man was accomplished — through human will. And by his free acceptance of cleansing — not punitive — suffering, Christ destroyed the power of the Old Adam’s free desire and sin. This was not retribution or punishment for sin, but the movement of saving Love.

St. Maximus explains Christ’s redeeming work as the restoration, the healing, the gathering of all creation in ontological, not moral, terms. But it is Love which is the moving force of salvation. The Love displayed on the Cross most of all. Christ’s work will be fulfilled in the Second Coming. The Gospels lead to this, to the "spiritual" appearance of the Logos, the God-Man, just as the Old Testament led to the Logos Incarnate. Here St. Maximus follows Origen’s motif.

 

Man’s Path.

Man has been created in freedom. He had to come into being in freedom, and he fell in freedom. The fall is an act of will; and sin is primarily in the will — it is a condition, or form, or arrangement of the will. Man is a free being. This means that he is a volitional being. Sin is a false choice and false contrariness and arbitrariness of the will. Evil is the feebleness and insufficiency of the will. Evil is of an "elliptical" nature. Here St. Maximus comes very close to St. Gregory of Nyssa and the thought expressed in the Corpus Areopagiticum as well. Evil does not exist by itself. Evil is really the free perversion of reasoning will, which turns aside from God, which circumvents God, and thus turns to non-existence. Evil is "non-existing" primarily as this striving or this will to non-existence.

The fall manifests itself primarily in the fact that man falls into the possession of passion. Passion is a sickness of the will. It is the loss or limitation of freedom. The hierarchy of the soul’s natural forces is perverted. Reason loses the capability and power to control the soul’s lower forces — man passively — that is, "passionately" — subordinates himself to the elemental forces of his nature, and is enticed by them — he spins in the disorderly movement of these forces. This is connected with spiritual blindness. The feebleness, the weakness of the will is connected with the ignorance of reason — άγνοια, as the opposite of γνώσις. Man forgets and loses the ability to contemplate and recognize God and the Divine. His consciousness is overcrowded with sensual images.

Sin and evil are movements downward, away from God. Man not only does not transform and animate the world or nature, where he was placed as priest and prophet, not only does not raise nature above its level; but rather descends himself, and sinks below his measure. Called to deification, he becomes like the dumb beasts. Called to existence, he chooses non-existence. Created from a soul and body, man loses his integrity in the fall, and splits in two. His mind grows coarse, and becomes overcrowded with earthly and earthy and sensual images. And his very body becomes coarse.

In these general conclusions about the nature and character of evil St. Maximus is merely repeating generally accepted opinions. The only thing of his that is original is his insistent stressing of volitional factors. This allows him to develop the ascetic doctrine of the "ordeal" as the transformation of the will with greater consistency. In general, in his anthropology St. Maximus is closest to St. Gregory of Nyssa. For sin — that is, the "sin of volition" — man was "vested in leathern garments." This is the feebleness of nature — its passivity, coarseness, and mortality. Man is drawn into the very maelstrom of natural decay. His passivity is a certain immanent exposure of passion, an unmasking of its inner contradictions. The decay of man is proclaimed most clearly in his sinful birth, a birth from a seed, from male lust and voluptuousness like the way of the dumb beasts. Here St. Maximus follows St. Gregory of Nyssa. It is through this sinful birth that the decay and feebleness of nature spreads and, as it were, accumulates in the world. For St. Maximus “birth” — γέννησις as opposed to γένεσις — is a synonym of original sin and sinfiilness. Objectively, sin is the quality of having no exit from passion — a fatal circle: from passionate birth in lawlessness and sin and through decay to decayed death. This first of all must be healed through a new animation, through Christ’s entering the region of death.

Man’s freedom did not, however, fade away in the fall and in sin — it merely grew weak. Rather, inertia of nature increased very much after the fall — it was shot through and through with the sprouts of "unnatural" or "para-physical" passions and grew heavy. But the capacity for free movement, for circulation and return, did not dry up and was not taken away. Here is the pledge of resurrection and liberation from under the power of decay and sin. Christ delivers and frees, but everyone must accept and experience this deliverance within himself, creatively and freely. It is for this reason that this is liberation, a way out of slavery and the oppression of the passions to freedom — a shift form passivity to activity — that is, from passivity (being included in the rotation of non-verbal nature) to mobility, to creativity and the "ordeal."

St. Maximus always makes a clear distinction between these two factors: nature and volition or will. Christ heals nature once and for all, without the actual participation of individual persons, and even independently of their possible participation — even sinners will be resurrected. But everyone must be liberated in a personal "ordeal." Everyone is called to this liberation — with Christ and in Christ.

Christian life begins with a new birth, in the baptismal font. This is the gift of God. It is participation in a pure and chaste birth of Christ from the Virgin. However, one must approach baptism with faith, and only through faith does one receive the gifts of the Spirit which are offered. In baptism forces or energies — δύναμις — for a new life or the possibility of a new life are offered. Realization is the task of free "ordeal." Man is given the "grace of innocence" — της άναμαρτησίας. He can simply no longer err, but he must also actively not sin. He must become perfect. He must fulfill the commandments and activate good principles in himself.

Grace through the sacraments frees man, tears him away from the First Adam, and unites him with the Second Adam. It raises him above nature’s measures — for deification has already begun. This is, however, only the fulfillment of man’s most natural calling, for he was created to outgrow himself, to become higher than himself. It is precisely for this reason that the activity of grace cannot be only external, and is not forced. Grace presupposes exaction and susceptibility. It awakens freedom, and arouses and animates volition. It is "volition" which is the repository of grace. St. Maximus considers the synergism between "volition" and "grace" to be self-evident. The gifts which are given in the sacra -ments must be kept and nurtured. Only through volition can they manifest themselves and change into the activity of the New Man.

The sacraments and the "ordeal" — these are two indissoluble and indivisible factors of Christian life. Again, the way of Divine descent and human ascent, the mysterious meeting of God and man, is in Christ. This relates both to the personal life of every Christian. In every soul Christ has to be born and "become incarnate" anew — as St. Paul writes in Galatians 2:20: "but Christ… lives in me." And it relates to the Church as the Body of Christ. In the Church the Incarnation continues and is fulfilled. But God, when he humbles himself and descends, must be recognized and acknowledge. In this is the theme of "ordeal" and history — movement towards a meeting, abnegation for the sake of deification.

The "ordeal" is, first of all, a struggle with passions, for the goal of the "ordeal" is precisely apatheia. Passion is a false arrangement of will directed to the lower, to the sensual, instead of to the spiritual, the higher. In this sense it is a perversion of the natural order, a distortion of perspective. Evil is the preference for the sensual. And precisely in the quality of being falsely preferred the sensual or visible becomes sinful, dangerous, venomous, evil. The "visible" must signify and manifest the "invisible" — that is, the spiritual. It is in such a symbolic transparency that the whole sense and justification of its existence lies. Consequently, the "visible" becomes senseless when it becomes non-transparent, when it covers and conceals the spiritual, when it perceives itself as something final and self-sufficient. Not the visible as such, but an excessive and fallacious evaluation of the visible is what is an evil and a sin.

Passion is such an over-evaluation, or preference, a certain riveting to or affection for the sensual world. "Passion is the unnatural movement of the soul, either through illogical and nonsensical love or foolhardy hatred for something sensual, or for the sake of something sensual. Or again: evil is a sinning judgment about cognized things which is accompanied by their unseemly use." St. Maximus repeats the customary ascetic outline of the development of passion: around the sensual image which is introduced into soul. Fallacious points of crystallization arise in man’s spiritual life, as it were. For this reason, the whole spiritual structure gets out of order. One can distinguish three types of passion: pride (carnal), violence (or hatred), and ignorance (spiritual blindness). But the world of passions is very motley and heterogeneous. There are two poles in it: pleasure and glory. At the same time St. Maximus always stresses that man constantly finds himself, if not under the sway of, then under the secret influence of demonic actions. Diverse demons swirl or hover around every soul, trying to entice it, interest it with the sensual, and lull the mind and spiritual susceptibility. This demonic influence is a very mighty factor. But all die same, the outcome of the struggle always depends on the will and on the ultimate choice.

Evil itself, and passion, are of a dynamic nature. It is a false assessment of things, and therefore false and harmful behavior is false and harmful because it leads us away from our genuine goals into the emptiness and impasses of non-existence. It is aimless, and therefore realizes nothing. On the contrary, it loses us and breaks us down. In other words, it is discord, disorder, disintegration. One could say it is illegality, lawlessness — ανομία. Law in general forms a counterbalance to illegality and lawlessness. Partly this is the "natural law" which is inscribed in man’s very nature as a demand to live "in conformity with nature." Through contemplation of the world one can understand that this "natural law" is God’s will and measure, which has been established for that which exists.

Law is order, measure, harmony, coherence, and structure. However, it is very difficult for man in his fallen feebleness to be guarded by this "natural law" alone. He was given a written law, the law of the commandments. In content this is the same law of nature, but it is expressed and exposed differently. It is simpler, more comprehensible, and more accessible. For precisely this reason, however, it is insufficient. It is only a prototype — a prototype of the Gospel and the spiritual law, which is both deeper and higher than nature and leads man directly to God. Rather, these are three different expressions of a single law, a single assignment and calling of human life. The very motif of the law as a measure, more internal than external, is important.

One of the tasks of the "ordeal" is the organization of the soul. Victory over the passions is primarily organization. This is the formal aspect. In essence, it is purification, catharsis, and liberation from the sensual fetters and weaknesses. However, catharsis, too, is organization — the levelling and restoration of the true hierarchy of values. Ascetic "doing" — πραξις — or "practical philosophy" is the overcoming or eradication of passion in the human soul. In it, the main thing is not definite external actions, but inner struggle. First of all desire and lust must be controlled — set into the strict structure of the soul, so to speak. These lower, but natural, forces of the soul must be directed towards goals that are genuine and Divine through the power of reasoning discretion. The mind must become really "dominating" in man, and the focus of all the soul’s powers. And the mind itself must obtain its focus and support in God. This is the factor of abstinence. Here one frequently must resort to drastic surgical methods of healing. One is forced to cut off and eradicate inclinations and predilections, the "free passions" — that is, the predilections of the will. There is another aspect, as well — the "involuntary passions," sufferings. Mark the Hermit has written insightfully on the "free" and "involuntary" passions. Rather — temptation or testing through suffering, grief from suffering. In essence, this is an evil and worldly grief — concealed, unsatisfied and nagging lust, the desire for enjoyments. One has to endure these "involuntary passions," these sufferings, without grieving for the deprivation of enjoyments.

It is even harder to overcome hatred and rage. To court mildness and temperance it takes even longer. This is a kind of insensitivity to irritations. Thus the passionate forces of the soul are subdued, but even more remains. One must bar the way to temptations. This entails, on the one hand, exercising the senses and, on the other hand, a mental battle, purifying and overcoming one’s thoughts. It is here that the ascetic problem is solved, for otherwise the danger of sin is always generated anew. One must drive thoughts away while focusing one’s attention on something else, discipling one’s mind in spiritual sobriety and prayer — or else one must, in any case, neutralize them while cultivating a kind of indifference towards them in one’s self. Here "doing" turns from negative to positive. One must not only cut off the passions, but aiso create good. And apatheia does not end with mere suppression of the passions but also signifies a certain positive state of the soul. "Doing" begins with fear of God and is accomplished in fear. Love, however, drives fear away — rather, it transforms it into reverential trembling.

At the same time the mind begins to see clearly, and matures into contemplation in order to become capable of rising higher Apatheia and gnosis together lead to Divine Love. There are stages in it, and it is the very element of "ordeal," success, and perfection. And the courting of pure and indivisible love is the limit and task of ascetic "doing." Love flares up and absorbs all spiritual movements to the extent that it increases the "ordeal" is crowned with and ends in love. Love is free. Ascetic "doing," ascetic activity is the overcoming and extinguishing of sinful pride, and it is concluded in love. Love is complete abnegation and self-lessness," when the soul places nothing higher than knowledge of God." St. Maximus calls this love άγάπη. Later, Divine eros blazes up on the very heights of mysterious life. Love begets knowledge, "gnosis" This knowledge is contemplation, "natural contemplation" — that is, the judgment of Divine measures of existence. There are five basic themes of knowledge or contem -plation: knowledge of God; knowledge of the visible; knowledge of the invisible; knowledge of God’s providence; and knowledge of God’s judgment. This enumeration of five "contemplations" seems to go back to Origen and is also found in Evagrius Ponticus. Again, there are stages here. At first, only the foundations — logoi — of natural existence are cognized, then the intellectual world is comprehended. Only towards the end does the mind which is hardened in prayerful "ordeal" know God. "Theological knowledge" or "unforgettable knowledge" is realized only in a protracted contemplated "ordeal."

By contemplation St. Maximus generally understands not the simple perception of things as they are given in daily experience, but a unique spiritual intuition and a gift of beneficial illumination. Contemplation is cognition in the Logos, the perception of the world in God, or of God in the world, as it is implanted in incomprehensible Divine simplicity. Only through spiritual illumination does the mind obtain the capacity for recognizing the energies of the Logos which are hidden and secret under sensual covers. Contemplation is inseparable from prayer. In the contemplative penetration to the sources and creative foundations of existence, the human mind becomes like the Divine mind — it becomes a small logos as it reflects the great Logos.

This is the second stage of spiritual restoration — apokatastasis. But it is not yet the summit or the limit of spiritual ascent. In contemplation, the mind cognizes the intellectual or mental world and God as Creator, Provider, and Judge. However, the mind must leave the mental or intellectual world and ascend even higher to the mysterious darkness of Divinity itself. This is the goal and problem of the "ordeal" — meeting with God and tasting, or rather, pre-tasting Divine bliss. This is the level and condition of pure prayer. The mind rises higher than forms and ideas, and commun -icates with Divine unity and peace. It cognizes the transsubstantial Trinity in this world, and is itself renewed in the image of the Trinity. On the heights the hermit becomes the temple and cloister of the Logos. It finds repose on the all-good couch of God, and the mystery of ineffable unity is accomplished. This is marriage and betrothal to the Logos. In essence the Christian travels his whole path together with Christ, for he lives in Christ, and Christ in him. Fulfillment of the commandments unites with Christ, for they are his energies. Contemplation leads to Christ, the Logos Incarnate, as to the source and focus of an ideal world.

St. Maximus speaks much and in great detail about Christ mysteriously moving in and living in believing souls. Here he is leaning on St. Gregory of Nazianzus, especially St. Gregory’s Orations for Christmas and Easter. This is one of St. Maximus1 motives of asceticism — a life in Christ. Another motive also goes back to St. Gregory: the contemplation of the Trinity. Here, though, St. Maximus is closer to Evagrius Ponticus. Through Evagrius, he received Origen’s legacy. He handled it, however, freely. He bore Origen’s experience and piety in mind, and transformed it in his own synthesis. In addition, he resolutely rejected Origen’s metaphysical conjectures and conclusions. In general, St. Maximus was not very original in his asceticism. All of his ideas can be found in earlier teachers and writers. St. Maximus wants only to repeat accepted doctrine, but he gives a synthesis and not a compilation.

Man’s fate is decided in the Church. The Church is the image and likeness of God because it is united: "for through the grace of faith, it accomplishes in believers the same unblended unity which the Creator, who contains everything, produces in different existing things through his endless insight and wisdom." The Church unites all believers in itself. Rather, Christ himself unites and reunites with himself his creations, which have received their very existence from him. At the same time the Church is the image and likeness of the whole world, a kind of microcosm. The Church is man’s likeness, a kind of "macro-humanity" as it were. The Church takes shape and grows until it accommodates all who are called and foreordained. Then the end of the world will come.Then time and all movement will cease. Everything will stop, for it will settle. The world will die, for it will grow decrepit. Its visible side will die, but it will be resurrected anew from the obsolete on the day of the expected resurrection. Man will rise in the world or with the world, as a part with the whole, as the great in the small. Resurrection will be a renewal and an animation. Decay will no longer exist. God will be everything in everything. Everything will become a perfect symbol of the single God -head.Everything will manifest God alone. Nothing will remain outside of God — έκτος Θεου.

St. Maximus recalls the well-known analogy of white hot iron. However, in this Divine flame neither nature, nor man, nor even man’s "despotism" or freedom will be consumed. In his eschatological reflections St. Maximus is very close to St. Gregory of Nyssa and, through him, close to Origen. His whole scheme of thought is the same: disintegration and restoration of the primordial harmony — that is, apokatastasis, but an apokatastasis of nature, not of freedom. "Nature" will be restored in its entirety. This does not yet mean, however, that freedom, too, will be redefined as good. It does not yet mean, for freedom or will is a special reality which in no way is reducible to anything else. One may think that St. Maximus learned about this originality and the irrationality of the will from the experience of ascetic struggle. To recognize good does not mean to love or choose it. Man is also capable of not falling in love with the recognized good. Here St. Maximus directly parts with St. Gregory of Nyssa.

The Logos will be everything for everybody, but it will not be a blessed Sabbath and repose for everybody. For the righteous the fire of Divinity will be revealed as an enlightening light. For the impious it will be revealed as a singeing, burning flame. For people contending and mustering their natural powers in the "ordeal" it will be joy and repose. For the unprepared it can prove to be only unrest and pain. All nature will be restored in its primordial and natural measures in the unflagging apokatastasis. God in his immeasurable love will embrace all creation, the good and the evil. But not everyone will be allowed to share in his love and joy, and not everyone who is allowed will share in the same or similar ("analogical") way. St. Maximus makes a distinction between deification through grace — κατά χάριν — and union or unification without grace — παρά την χάριν. Everything which exists communes with God to the extent that it has its very existence from him and is kept by his acting powers.

This is, however, still not beneficial communion. In fulfilling the fates God will restore the full entirety of his creation not only in existence but also in eternal existence. But not in good-existence, for good-existence cannot be given from without, cannot be given without the demanding and accepting of love. God will give to sinners and return everything they lost through sin, restoring their souls in the fullness of their natural forces and capabilities. They will receive the capacity for spiritual knowledge and moral evaluation. They will cognize God. Perhaps they will even lose memory of sin and come to God in a certain understanding — τη έπιγνώσει. However, they will not receive communion with his blessings — ου τη μεθεξει των αγαθών. Only the righteous are capable of savoring and enjoying. Only they receive communion with Life, while people of evil will who have collapsed in their thoughts and desires are far from God, are devoid of Life, and constantly decay and constantly die. They will not taste Life, and will be tormented by belated repentance, by the consciousness of the senselessness of the path they took to the very end. This will be ineffable sorrow and sadness. According to St. Maximus’ notions, it is not God but the sinner himself who prepares his own torment and grief on judgment day. For bliss and joy are possible only through the free concordance of human will with the Divine will, through a free and creative fulfillment of the Divine definitions, through illumination and transformation of the will itself in creation of his commandments.

St. Maximus does not assume that clear cognition of the truth must inevitably determine the will to truth. St. Maximus flatly rejects Origen’s conception of the apokatastasis. Certainly, evil and sin are only in the will, but this does not mean that they will disperse like phantoms. As an ascetic and a theologian who defended the reality of human freedom and human will in Christ, St. Maximus could not help but be at variance with Origen and the Origenists in their intellectualism.

In the distinction of fate beyond the grave is the final basis and justification for the "ordeal." With a composing force it enters the last judgment. For man is called to creativity and work, called to the task of installing God’s will in his own. Only people of good will, people of righteous aspiration, will find satisfaction in God’s destiny, and the limit and fulfillment of their lives in the love and joy of communion with God. For the others, God’s will will remain an external act.

Deification is the goal of creation, and for its sake everything which came into being was created. And everything will be deified — God will be everything, and in everything. This will not, however, be violence. Deification itself must be accepted and experienced in freedom and love. St. Maximus came to this conclusion from a precise Christological doctrine of two wills and two energies.

The Sixth Ecumenical Council.

Emperor Constans II (641-668) was murdered in his bath in 668. His son, Constantine IV (668-685) reversed the religious policy of Constans II. He managed to remain on good terms with Pope Vitalian (657-672), Pope Adeodatus (672-676), Pope Donus (676-678), and with Pope Agatho (678-681). St. Maximus the Confessor was soon to be vindicated by the definition of faith of the Sixth Ecumenical Council. The acts are preserved in the Greek original (Mansi 11, 195-922) and in two Latin versions. Unlike the swiftness of Justinian’s Fifth Ecumenical Council, the Sixth Ecumenical Council lasted approximately ten months, from November of 680 until September of 681.

In his letter to Emperor Constantine IV Pope Agatho, after writing that it was difficult to find competent persons to send to the council, gives a confession of faith from the Roman Apostolic see.

"We confess the holy and inseparable Trinity; that is, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, to be one divinity, of one nature and essence. We will confess also that the Trinity has one natural will, power, operation, dominion, majesty, potency, and glory. And whatever is said of the same Holy Trinity essentially in singular number we understand to refer to the one nature of the three consubstantial Persons … But when we make a confession concerning one of the same three Persons of that Holy Trinity, of the Son of God or God the Logos, and of the mystery of his adorable oikonomia according to the flesh, we assert that all things are double in the one and the same our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ according to the evangelical tradition … We confess his two natures, his divine and his human [nature], of which and in which he, even after the wonderful and inseparable union, exists. And we confess that each of his natures has its own natural property and that the divine has all things that are divine without any sin. And we recognize that each one [of the two natures] of the one and the same Incarnate … Logos of God is in him unconfusedly, inseparably and unchangeably … For we equally detest the blasphemy of division and of co-mixture. For when we confess two natures and two natural wills and two natural operations in our one Lord Jesus Christ, we do not assert that they are contrary or opposed one to the other (as those who err from the path of truth and accuse the apostolic tradition of doing. Far be this impiety from the hearts of the faithful!), nor as though separated ... in two persons or subsistences, but we say that as the same our Lord Jesus Christ has two natures so also he has two natural wills and operations, the divine and the human: the divine will and operation he has in common with the consubstantial Father from all eternity; the human, he has received from us, taken with our nature in time. This is the apostolic and evangelical tradition, which the spiritual mother of your most felicitous empire, the Apostolic Church of Christ, holds. This is the pure expression of piety. This is the true and immaculate profession of the Christian religion, not invented by human cunning, but which was taught by the Holy Spirit through the princes of the apostles. This is the firm and irreprehensible doctrine of the holy apostles..."

This lengthy letter by Pope Agatho to Emperor Constantine IV contains a full expression of the Roman primacy, a full expression of Rome’s consciousness of its position in the Church.

"For this is the rule of the true faith, which this spiritual mother of your most tranquil empire, the Apostolic Church of Christ, has both in prosperity and in adversity always held and defended with energy; which, it will be proved, by the grace of Almighty God, has never erred from the path of the apostolic tradition, nor has she been depraved by yielding to heretical innovations, but from the beginning she has received the Christian faith from her founders, the princes of the apostles of Christ, and remains undefiled unto the end, according to the divine promise of the Lord and Savior himself, which he uttered in the Holy Gospels to the prince of his disciples, saying: ‘Peter, Peter, behold, Satan has desired to have you that he might sift you as wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith fail not. And when you are converted, strengthen your brethren.’ Let your tranquil Clemency therefore consider, since it is the Lord and Savior of all, whose faith it is, that promised that Peter’s faith should not fail and exhorted him to strengthen his brethren, how it is known to all that the apostolic pontiffs, the predecessors of my littleness, have always confidently done this very thing."

In the remainder of his lengthy letter Pope Agatho presents and comments upon Biblical texts which reveal two wills in Christ. He then presents catenae of quotations from the fathers which support the doctrine of two wills in Christ, followed by his commentary on the catenae. Throughout Pope Agatho interlaces the primacy of Rome and Rome’s acceptance of "the five holy ecumenical councils." Since the Apostolic See of Rome holds such a confession of faith, since the Apostolic See of Rome "cannot err" — no mention is made of Pope Honorius — Pope Agatho urges the emperor that this confession of faith be accepted by the entire Church.

Pope Agatho also held a council in Rome. The pope sent a letter from this council with his legates. In this letter there is a fuller confession of faith.

"We believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible; and in his Only-Begotten Son who was begotten of him before all ages; very God of very God, Light of Light, begotten not made, being of one essence with the Father, that is of the same essence as the Father; by him were all things made which are in heaven and which are in earth. And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life, who proceeds from the Father, and with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified. The Trinity in unity and Unity in Trinity; a unity so far as essence is concerned, but a Trinity of Persons or Hypostases [Subsistences]. And therefore we confess God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, not three gods, but one God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, not a subsistence of three names but one essence of three hypostases [subsistences]. And of these Persons one is the essence, or substance or nature, that is to say one is the Godhead, one the eternity, one the power, one the kingdom, one the glory, one the adoration, one the essential will and operation of the same Holy and inseparable Trinity, who has created all things, has made disposition of them, and still contains them."

"Moreover, we confess that one of the same Holy Consubstantial Trinity, God the Logos, who was begotten of the Father before the ages, in the last days of the world for us and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and of our Lady, the holy, immaculate, ever-virgin and glorious Mary, truly and properly the Mother of God, that is to say, according to the flesh which was born of her. And truly became man, the same being very God and very man. God of God his Father, but man of his Virgin Mother, incarnate of her flesh with a reasonable and intelligent soul: of one essence with God the Father concerning his Godhead, and of one essence with us concerning his manhood, and in all points like us except without sin. He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, he suffered, was buried and rose again; ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of the Father, and he shall come again to judge both the living and the dead, and of his kingdom there shall be no end."

"And this same one Lord of ours, Jesus Christ, the Only-Begotten Son of God, we acknowledge to exist of and in two natures unconfusedly, unchangeably, indivis -ibly, inseparably, the difference of the natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the properties of each nature being preserved and concurring in one Person and one Hypostasis [Subsistence], not scattered or divided into two Persons, nor confused into one composite nature. But we confess one and the same Only-Begotten Son, God the Logos, our Lord Jesus Christ, not one in another nor one added to another, but himself the same in two natures — that is to say in the Godhead and in the manhood even after the hypostatic union. For neither was the Logos changed into the nature of flesh nor was the flesh transformed into the nature of the Logos, for each remained what it was by nature. We discern by contemplation alone the distinction between the natures united in him of which unconfusedly, inseparably and unchangeably he is composed. For one is of both and through one both because there are together both the height of the divinity and the humility of the flesh, each nature preserving after the union its own proper character without any defect, and each form acting in communion with the other what is proper to itself. The Logos working what is proper to the Logos, and the flesh what is proper to the flesh; of which the one shines with miracles, the other bows down beneath injuries. Therefore, as we confess that he truly has two natures of essences, the Godhead and the manhood, unconfusedly, indivisibly, and unchangeably [united], so also the rule of piety instructs us that he has two natural wills and two natural operations, as perfect God and perfect man, one and the same our Lord Jesus Christ. And this the apostolic and evangelical tradition and the authority of the Holy Fathers (whom the Holy Apostolic and Catholic Church and the venerable Councils receive) has plainly taught us."

The letter continues by emphasizing that was always the faith, and that this faith was set forth at the Lateran Council over which Pope Martin I presided. There is then an apology for the delay in sending the legates. It is to be noted that Pope Agatho mentions that he had hoped that his "brother bishop, Theodore, the archbishop and philosopher of the island of Great Britain" would be able to attend the council to be held in Constantinople. This is St. Theodore of Tarsus (602-690), the Greek subdeacon who was recommended by the African monk Hadrian to fill the position of Archbishop of Canterbury. It is obvious that Pope Agatho wanted to send a respectable delegation to Constantinople. The letter con -eludes with emphasis on the Roman primacy. "But we, although most humble, yet strive with all our might that the commonwealth of your Christian empire may be shown to be more sublime than all the nations, for in it has been founded the See of Blessed Peter, the prince of the Apostles, by the authority of which, all Christian nations venerate and worship with us, through the reverence of the blessed Apostle Peter himself." The Greek text has a slightly different ending.

At the seventh session of the Sixth Ecumenical Council direct action in response to Pope Agatho’s letters and profession of faith was taken. The emperor is recorded as saying: "Let George, the most holy archbishop of this our God-preserved city, and let Macarius, the venerable archbishop of Antioch … say if they submit to the force — ει στοιχοΰσι τη δυνάμει — of the suggestions sent by the most holy Agatho, Pope of Old [omitted in Latin text] Rome and by his Council." The answer was affirmative for George and the bishops subject to the patriarchate of Constantinople. "I have diligently examined the whole force of the suggestions sent to your most pious Fortitude by both Agatho, the most holy Pope of Old Rome, and by his Council, and I have scrutinized the works of the holy and approved Fathers which are stored in my venerable patriarchate, and I have found that all the testimonies of the holy and accepted Fathers, which are contained in those suggestions, agree with and in no particular differ from the holy and accepted Fathers. Therefore, I give my submission to them and thus I profess and believe." The text of assent from the bishops subject to Constantinople is: "And we, most pious Lord, accepting the teaching of the suggestion sent to your most gentle Fortitude by the most holy and blessed Agatho, Pope of Old Rome, and of that other suggestion which was adopted by the council subject to him, and following the sense contained there, so we are minded, so we profess, and so we believe that in our one Lord Jesus Christ, our true God, there are two natures unconfusedly, unchangeably, undividedly, and two natural wills and two natural operations. And all who have taught and who now say that there is but one will and one operation in the two natures of our one Lord Jesus Christ our true God, we anathematize." Patriarch Macarius of Antioch refused to agree. "I do not say that there are two wills or two operations in the oikonomia of the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, but one will and one theandric operation." Patriarch Macarius and his followers, representing the Monothelites, presented their position during the fifth and sixth sessions. Action against Patriarch Macarius began only at the eleventh session and continued into the twelfth session. At the thirteenth session Patriarch Macarius was deposed and sentence against the Monothelites was decreed.

"After we had reconsidered, according to our promise which we had made to your Highness, the doctrinal letters of Sergius, at one time patriarch of this imperial, God-protected city to Cyrus, who was then bishop of Phasis and to Honorius, once Pope of Old Rome, as well as the letter of Honorius to the same Sergius, we find that these documents are quite foreign to the apostolic dogmas, to the declarations of the Holy Councils, and to all the accepted Fathers, and that they follow the false teachings of the heretics. Therefore, we entirely reject them and execrate them as harmful to the soul. But the names of those men whose doctrines we execrate must also be thrust forth from the Holy Church of God; namely, that of Sergius, one time bishop of this God-preserved imperial city who was the first to write on this impious doctrine. Also that of Cyrus of Alexandria, of Pyrrhus, Paul, and Peter, who died bishops of this God-preserved city, and were like-minded with them. And that of Theodore, once bishop of Pharan, all of whom the most holy and thrice blessed Agatho, Pope of Old Rome, in his suggestion to our most pious and God-preserved lord and mighty Emperor, rejected because they were minded contrary to our orthodox faith, all of whom we define are to be subjected to anathema. And with these we define that there shall expelled from the Holy Church of God and anathematized Honorius who was one time Pope of Old Rome because of what we found written by him to Sergius, that in all respects he followed his view and confirmed his impious doctrines. We have also examined the synodal letter of Sophronius of holy memory, some time Patriarch of the Holy City of Christ our God, Jerusalem, and have found it in accordance with the true faith and with the apostolic teachings, and with those of the holy approved Fathers. Therefore, we have received it as orthodox and as salutary to the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church and have decreed that it is right that his name be inserted in the diptychs of the Holy Churches."

In its lengthy definition of faith the Sixth Ecumenical Council reaffirms the Nicene Creed, the Creed of the Second Ecumenical Council, and then recites the definition of faith of the Council of Chalcedon to which it then adds: "Defining all this we likewise declare that in him are two natural wills and two natural operations indivisibly, inconvertibly, inseparably, unconfusedly, according to the teaching of the Holy Fathers. And these two natural wills are not contrary the one to the other — God forbid! — as the impious heretics assert, but his human will follows and that not as resisting and reluctant, but rather as subject to his divine and omnipotent will. For it was right that the flesh should be moved but subject to the divine will, according to the most wise Athanasius." The definition then continues, concluding with: "For we will not admit one natural operation in God and in the creature, as we will not exalt into the divine essence what is created nor will we bring down the glory of the divine nature to the place suited to the creature. We recognize the miracles and the sufferings as of one and the same [Person], but of one or of the other nature of which he is and in which he exists, as Cyril admirably says. Preserving, therefore, the unconfusedness and indivisibility, we make briefly this whole confession, believing our Lord Jesus Christ to be one of the Trinity and after the Incarnation our true God, we say that his two natures shone forth in his one hypostasis in which he both performed the miracles and endured the sufferings through the whole of his oikonomic conversation — δι’ ολης αυτόυ της οίκονομικης αναστροφής — and that not in appearance only but in very deed, and this by reason of the difference of nature which must be recognized in the same Person, for although joined together yet each nature wills and does the things proper to it and that indivisibly and unconfusedly. Therefore, we confess two wills and two operations, concurring most fitly in him for the salvation of the human race."

The final statement is the prohibition of bringing forward, writing, composing, thinking, or teaching a different faith. It is this for which St. Maximus the Confessor suffered.

 

Chapter Seven.
St. John of Damascus.

The Life of St. John of Damascus.

We do not know much about St. John’s life. The biographies known to us were composed late — only in the eleventh century -and it is not easy to pick out what is authentic and indisputable. St. John was a native of Damascus and was born into the wealthy Mansur family — the name means "the victorious." He was born in the late seventh century. The precise year cannot be determined — scholars differ in listing his year of birth from around 645 to 675. St. John’s father and grandfather had held ministerial posts, first under the Byzantines and after 636 under the Arab rulers of Damascus. His father, Sergius (Ibn-Serjun), served in the palace of the Caliph as "great Logothete." St. John received a good education. According to legend, he studied with Cosmas Melodus who later became bishop of Maiuma and with another Cosmas who was a ransomed prisoner from Sicily. Theological interests were awakened in him very early.

St. John followed his father as Logothete to the Caliph. We do not know exactly when St. John left the palace and entered the monastery of St. Sabas near Jerusalem. One can assume that this was before the beginning of the Iconoclastic Controversy. St. John’s remarkable addresses in defense of the holy ikons drew universal attention to him.

St. John’s biographies tell of slander and persecution against him at the Caliph’s palace, of cruel punishment and miraculous healing. In the monastery he led a strict, reclusive life in humility and in obedience — this is vividly and touchingly described in a well-known biographical tale. Here St. John engaged mostly in writing, keenly responding to the theological themes of the day, and at the same time composing his "divine psalms." As he himself has indicated, he was ordained a priest by Patriarch John V (705-735) of Jerusalem — in any case no later than 734. He did not stay in Jerusalem long. We do not know when precisely St. John died. There is some evidence to assume that he passed away before the Iconoclastic Council of 754. The date of his death is usually calculated about 749/750.

 

The Writings of st. John of Damascus.

St. John of Damascus’ place in the history of theology is primarily determined by his works of a systematic nature. His Fount of Knowledge — πηγή γνώσεως which is dedicated to Cosmas of Maiuma, is an extensive dogmatic collection consisting of three unequal parts. The first, the "philosophical chapters" or dialectics [Dialectica], was composed in the style of Aristotle — see the interpretations of Porphyry and Ammonius. Here St. John mostly discusses the definitions of basic concepts. At the same time it is a kind of natural theology, "knowledge of that which exists as such." The second part of St. John’s Fount of Knowledge is entitled Briefly on Heresies. This is a short list of heresies and delusions, one hundred and three in all, composed mainly from literary sources — beginning with Epiphanius’ Panarion. The texts cited on the delusion of the Messalians and the quotations from Philo on essence and hypostasis are interesting. This short hereseological outline ends with a theological confession of faith. The third part of St. John’s Fount of Knowledge is his Ekthesis or Exposition of the Orthodox Faith. This is an experimental system. The material, however, has been collected very unevenly, and many articles of the faith are not spoken of at all — for example, there is no special section on the Church. There is no strict order in the exposition. St. John has more to say on Christological themes than anything else. And one senses that these were urgent and disturbing topics only very recently.

In his Exposition of the Orthodox Faith St. John of Damascus follows, often literally, preceding fathers, especially St. Gregory of Nazianzus and the "the great Dionysius." Less frequently but still used are the other Cappadocians, St. Cyril, and "Leontius of Byzantium." He refers to other fathers very rarely. Among the Latin Fathers he mentions only Pope Leo. He does not refer to the pre-Nicene writers at all.

St. John of Damascus makes no claims to independence. On the contrary, he strives to express precisely the generally accepted opinion on faith. At the same time he freely and creatively investigates theological tradition and distinguishes the basic and the secondary. He does not enter into disputable arguments, but neither does he conceal problems. In philosophy St. John of Damascus bases himself on Aristotle but he is more accurately called an eclectic. In many cases he is more of a Platonist, especially through the influence of his patristic authorities such as St. Gregory of Nazianzus and Pseudo-Dionysius.

The influence of this dogmatic code — this word is more accurate than system — was great in both the Greek East and the Latin West, although St. John had no creative successors in Byzantium. His Exposition of the Orthodox Faith was translated into Syriac, Arabic, Armenian, Old Bulgarian or Slavonic, Georgian, and Latin. The Latin translation was made only in the twelfth century on the instructions of Pope Eugenius III (1150), and this very faulty translation was used by Peter Lombard and by Thomas Aquinas. The Slavonic translation was done as early as the tenth century. The Arabic translation could have been made during St. John’s lifetime.

Among his dogmatic writings of a personal content and primarily polemical nature, we must mention first of all the famous Discourses Against the Iconoclasts. There are three discourses and they were written between 726 and 730. St. John of Damascus supports his theological arguments here with a collection of patristic testimony and other evidence.

St. John’s book Against the Jacobites — known in two accounts — offers some interest. Attached to it are a number of individual dogmatic and polemical sketches against the Monophysites, the Monothelites, and the Manichees.

It is especially necessary to note the famous collection of Sacred Comparisons [Sacra Parallela]. This is a code of texts and patristic dicta on various questions of faith and piety, organized in alphabetical order by subject. All the material, however, was originally set forth systematically in three sections: On God; On Man; and On Virtues and Vices. The manuscript copies of this original edition have also been preserved. This is what one may ascribe to St. John of Damascus himself. After this his collection was subject to reworking on more than one occasion.

The labors of St. John of Damascus as a Psalmist demand particular attention. Even Theophanes called him "Gold Stream" — "Chrysorrhoas" — "for the abundance in him of the grace of the Holy Spirit, which flows in his words and life." It is very difficult to determine the volume of St. John’s psalmody precisely. It is hardly possible to ascribe the composition of the Octoechos to him as his personal work — this is the labor of a number of generations, in which St. John also put his share. One may also think that it was he who brought the already set order of the service to a definite plan. The Sunday dogmatics probably belong to him, as perhaps do the Sunday canons, which are Christological in content. One must also mention the Easter service in particular — as a whole, not only the canon — and a number of canons for feasts — Christmas, Epiphany, the Transfiguration, the Ascension, the Annunciation, the Assumption, etc. In addition, there are his famous funeral odes.

With St. John of Damascus, as also with Cosmas of Maiuma, the influence of St. Gregory of Nazianzus is very perceptible. For example, see the scholia composed by Cosmas to St. Gregory’s poetry. St. John’s influence in Eastern liturgical poetry was decisive, and it is also felt in the Latin West.

St. John of Damascus engaged in exegetical work comparatively little. He wrote an unoriginal Commentary to the Epistles of St. Paul, a commentary used by later churchmen and theologians, including Theophylact of Bulgaria. Some sermons have been preserved, among which the ones on the feasts of the Assumption and Transfiguration are especially interesting. It is also necessary to note a number of individual articles which are ascetic or ethical in content. The authenticity of the work entitled Barlaam and Joasaph has long been disputed. Though some scholars now are convinced that it is the work of St. John, it is still possible that it is not authentic and that it may have been composed in the mid-seventh century in the monastery of St. Sabas by a certain John.

 

The Theological System of St. John of Damascus.

As a theologian St. John of Damascus was a collector of patristic materials. In the Fathers he saw "God-inspired" teachers and "God-bearing" pastors. There can be no contradiction among them: "a father does not fight against the fathers, for all of them were communicants of a single Holy Spirit." St. John of Damascus collected not the personal opinions of the fathers but precisely patristic tradition. "An individual opinion is not a law for the Church," he writes, and then he repeats St. Gregory of Nazianzus: one swallow does not a summer make. "And one opinion cannot overthrow Church tradition from one end of the earth to the other."

St. John of Damascus is closest to the Cappadocians and to the Corpus Areopagiticum. In Christology he repeats "Leontius of Byzantium" and St. Maximus the Confessor. The connection with the Cappadocians and with the "Great Dionysius" is proclaimed first of all in the very formulation of the question of the knowledge ] of God in the very first chapters of his Exposition of the Orthodox Faith. St. John begins with a confession of the inscrutability of the Godhead and limits theological inquisitiveness to the "eternal bounds," the bounds of Revelation and "God’s tradition." And not everything cognizable can be expressed easily. The truth of God’s existence has an immutable and natural obviousness, and is comprehended from examining the world itself. But what God is "in essence and by nature" — this is incomprehensible and unknowable. However, on the contrary, we can perceive with a certain obviousness what God is not. First of all, negative definitions are possible. "Through the negation of everything" said about creation one thing is possible and that is "that in God one thing is comprehensible: his boundlessness and inscrutability." Secondly, there is knowledge of that which is not the very essence of God,’ but "refers to nature." Such are the definitions of God as Wise and Good. Positive names of this kind signify God as the Author of everything in his creative revelation to the world, and these are transferred to God from his works. St. John thus makes a distinction between apophatic and cataphatic theology. Cataphatically, he speaks only of God’s actions or "energies," provided the cataphatic form does not conceal the apophatic meaning. Theological cataphatic thought must also always rely on the direct testimony of revelation.

In his account of the doctrine of the Trinity St. John again repeats the Cappadocians, and most of all St. Gregory of Nazianzus. He stresses the ineffability and uncognizability of the Trinitarian mystery. "Believe that God has three hypostases. But how? He is above any ‘how.’ For God is inscrutable. Do not say: how is the Trinity a Trinity, for the Trinity is not analyzable." It is also impossible to even seek out a suitable image or example for comparison. "But there is a Unity and a Trinity — there was, is, and will be forever. By faith it is cognized and worshipped — by faith, not by investigation, not by demonstration. And the more it is investigated, the less it is cognized; and the more curiosity it arouses, the more it hides."

This does not mean, however, that the truth of Divine Unity is indistinct or dumb for the reason. On the contrary, it is in Trinitarian revelation that the contradictions of natural thought, which constantly wavers between pagan polytheism and the stagnant monotheism of the Jews, are resolved. The antinomy is removed in synthesis: "from the doctrine of the Jews comes the Unity of nature; from Hellenism come differences in hypostases." Following the Cappadocians, St. John of Damascus speaks mostly about the difference of the hypostases. In God’s single being the three hypostases are united without mixing or blending; they are inseparably separated — here is where the mystery lies. In this is the incommensurable difference between Divine Existence and creation.

In created existence we at once and in reality see the difference of the hypostases or "indivisibles;" and then "with the mind and thought" we perceive communality, connection, and unity. For in the world there exist only indivisibles, individuals, hypostases — and what is common which does not exist by itself, but only in many, is realized in them. This is based on Aristotle. Therefore, here we go back to what is common secondarily, singling out the identical, repeated characteristics or traits. In other words, creation is an area of real multitudinousness, in which we discover the common, the similar, the identical, the united, with our minds and by reflection. It is a region of separate existence, a region of number in the strict sense of the word: two, three, many.

We must speak about God differently. God is one in essence, and is revealed as one. We believe in a single God: a single beginning, a single essence, a single power, a single force, a single will, a single action, a single kingdom. We perceive God’s unity at once and in reality. "We know the one God but with our thought we understand the difference of characteristics in the Godhead" — that is, the difference in hypostatic properties. In the one God we "comprehend" the Trinitarian differences, the very Tri-unity of the hypostases. We come to the hypostases, but we do not come from them; and we mentally come to them, not as separate "individuals" or "indivisibles" but as inseparably, unmixed "eternal images of eternal existence." We distinguish the hypostases only in thought (or in "intellectual reflection" — επίvοια), but this does not lessen their ontological irreducibility. The word έπίνοια means the same thing in the thought of St. John of Damascus as it does in the thought of the Cappadocians: first of all a “certain reflection, and an intensification which simplifies and clarifies the integral and undivided perception and knowledge of thing," which reveals complexity and variety in what had at first seemed to the senses to be simple. The variety, however, really exists. From Unity we descend to Tri-Unity. Tri-Unity is entirely real, but real in a different way from all the multitudinousness in creation. In the Godhead Tri-Unity is given and revealed in the indivisibility of a Single Being. "In the Holy transsubstantial, and most high, and inscrutable Trinity, communality and unity are perceived in actual fact and not in meditation because of the co-eternity of the persons and the identity of their essence, action, and will, because of the unanimity of thought and identity of power and energy. I did not say ‘likeness1 but ‘identity.’ For there is one essence, one goodness, one force, one will, one power. One and the same. Not three which are similar to one another, but one and the same movement of three hypostases — μία και ή αυτή. For each of them is united to the others no less than to himself.”

Therefore, the distinction is only thought — distinction never crosses over to cleavage, as difference never crosses over to separation. It is inseparable separation, for the hypostases of the One God are not only similar, but are identical in essence. It is not the communality of traits or characteristics which unites them, like communality of traits and characteristics unites created hypostases into a single grouping or form, but no more. On the contrary, the difference or traits or "peculiarities" only marks the Tri-Unity of incommensurate and irreducible "forms of existence" in the essential unity of Divine Life. God is a "single simple essence in three complete hypostases, above and before any perfection." Divine Unity is not composed of hypostases, but is in three hypostases, is in the Three and is Three. And each of the Three has a "complete hypostasis;" that is, a complete fullness of existence, just as every rock is "complete," and is not merely a part of its aspect. "We call the hypostases complete so as not to introduce complexity into the Divine Unity, for composition is the beginning of discord" — composition will never give the actual solidity, continuity, and unity. "And again we say," St. John continues, "that the three hypostases are situated in one another reciprocally."

The single Godhead not only does not consist of hypostases, but neither does it split up into hypostases, so that the entire fullness of Divine Nature is contained equally and identically in all of them and in each of them. And the distinguishing "peculiarities" are not of an "accidental" nature as is the case in created individuals. "The Godhead is indivisible in the divided;" and what is common in the divided is inherent in them "individually and jointly." The Father is light, the Son is light, the Holy Spirit is light; but the thrice-shining light is One. The Father is Wisdom, the Son is Wisdom, the Holy Spirit is Wisdom; but the Divine three-lighted, three-sunned Wisdom is One. God is One, and not three.The Lord is One — the Holy Trinity. Consubstantiality means exactly this concrete identity of essence — not an abstract communality, but identicality. For the "origin" of the Second and Third Hypostases from the First does not introduce any division or distribution, for there is no fluctuation in the Trinity. St. John of Damascus constantly repeats the word "non-fluctuating" — αρρευστος. The Father does not find expression or expend himself in the Son and Spirit. But everything that the Father has, the Son and Spirit also have, while, of course, abstracting themselves from the incommensurable hypostatic differences. "The hypostases abide, and are firmly established in one another." They are permanent and cannot be removed from one another. They are accommodated in One another "without any destruction, or mixing, or blending."

The Divine Hypostases differ from one another in that which cannot concern the essence itself, for, as St. John constantly reminds us, "all of Divine Nature is completely found in all of the hypostases — all of it is in the Father, all of it is in the Son, all of it is in the Holy Spirit." The names of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit signify the form of existence and the form of the reciprocal relationship of the hypostases. What do these "relationships" signify? As opposed to the relationships between created hypostases, whose very existence does not necessarily presuppose a situation in which they are in definite relationships to one another, the Divine Hypostases are not distinguished from one another by anything other than their correlative "peculiarities." Therefore, it is these traits, characteristics or "peculiarities" which are not "accidental." They coincide with the very existence of the Hypostases. The Divine Hypostases have one nature inseparably and identically — not only the same nature.

The mystery of Divine Life is revealed in the Trinitarian "relations" — solitude would be devoid of love, a theme which Richard of St. Victor will pick up and develop, albeit within a filioque context. St. John of Damascus does not develop this thought, and generally does not go into any speculative exposure of the Trinity. He limits himself to a repetition of earlier patristic conclusions. "By the word of the Lord the heavens were established..." This line from the Psalms [32:6 in the Septuagint], and other similar texts, were more than once the object of Trinitarian interpretation in the Eastern Fathers before St. John of Damascus. This is connected with a typical feature of the Eastern notion of the relation between the Second and Third Hypostases: as Logos and Breath, the Son and the Holy Spirit originate from the Father "jointly" — αμα, "co-originate" from him — ξυμποεισι.

In this respect the Eastern form of representation substantially differs from the Western — the analogy with the human soul, for example, in St. Augustine’s Trinitarian thought. For the East the ancient form for representing the Trinitarian mystery always remained typical — it started from contemplation of the First Hypostasis as the single beginning and source of the Godhead. In the Latin West a different type of idea, for which it is characteristic to begin with contemplation of the general "nature" of the Godhead, has been maintained since St. Augustine. St. John of Damascus belongs entirely to the Eastern tradition. And if he says that in theology we proceed from Unity to arrive at Tri-Unity or Trinity, this in no way means that we are starting with contemplation of a common "nature." It means recognizing the Father in God. Hence, the Father of the Only-Begotten Son, and the beginning of the Holy Spirit, whiph co-proceeds to the eternally begotten Son. "We believe in a Single God" — this means at the same time: in the Single God the Father.

The Son and the Spirit are certain hypostatic "energies" of the Father, and originate — or, more accurately, "co-originate" — from the Father. They co-originate, but in such a way that at the same time the Son’s birth is mysteriously and incomprehensibly first: there is a kind of "condition, pleasing to God" for the co-origin of the accompanying Spirit, "who proceeds through the Son and rests in him" — αναπαυομενον. For there is a certain mysterious, God-pleasing "order" — ταξις — of the Divine Hypostases, which is signified and unchanged by the order of the names themselves, and which allows no rearrangement. Is it not in this sense that one should understand the famous words of St. Gregory of Nazianzus, which are repeated by St. John of Damascus. "The Unity, having moved from time immemorial to duality, stopped at the Trinity. And this is what we have — Father and Son and Holy Spirit."

The Father, as the name of the First Hypostasis, indicates his relation to the Second — and, one must add, only to the Second, for "Fatherhood" and "Sonship," as St. Basil wrote, are correlative. The Father does not beget the Holy Spirit. "The Holy Spirit is not the Son of the Father, but the Spirit of the Father, proceeding from the Father." The Holy Spirit has his existence from the Father "not according to the image of birth, but according to the image of procession" although for us the difference between the images of birth and procession is vague. In any event, the name of Father refers to the First Hypostasis as the beginning of the Second. At the same time St. John of Damascus, following St. Gregory of Nazianzus, calls the First Hypostasis "unborn" in order to set off the Father’s intra-Trinitarian lack of a beginning — that is, the fact that the Father is the first and beginning Hypostasis, the "beginning of the Godhead," the "only" and "pre-beginning cause" of Divine Life, the root and source of the Godhead.

Without beginning the Father is the beginning — of course "without beginning’; that is, the eternal and extra-temporal beginning of the "coeternals" — of the Second and Third Hypostases. Only the Father is the beginning or "natural" cause in the Trinity’s life. "The Son is not called the cause," for he is of the Father. The basic name of the Second Hypostasis is the Son, and correspondingly the hypostatic property is birth, birth outside of time and without beginning, birth "from the Father’s nature" — that is, by virtue of the "natural productiveness" of the Godhead. As an "action of nature" St. John, following the ancient fathers, contrasts birth to creation, an "act of will" or desire. The Divine birth is without beginning and end — it is higher than any change and origin. There is "nothing created, nothing first, nothing second, nothing master-slave" in the Holy Trinity. The Son is the counsel, wisdom, and power of the Father. And there is no other Logos, Wisdom, Power, or Will in the Father besides the Son. The Son is the image of the Father, a living, "natural" and "identical" image "by nature." He is like the Father in everything, and identical to him in everything — he "bears the whole Father in himself."

For St. John of Damascus the name of the Holy Spirit indicates more a kind of Divine breath — πνευμα from πνειν — than spirituality. In this meaning is a certain proper name of the Third Hypostasis. The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father — έκπορευταί. The Father “projects” the Spirit — προβαλλει, and is the “projector” — προβολευς; πηγή προβλητική — while the Spirit is the projection — πρόβλημα. The Holy Spirit, in St. John’s confession, proceeds from the Father — εκ του Πατρός but through the Son — δι’ ύιου. The Holy Spirit, as St. John defines him, "is the force of the Father and he reveals the hidden Godhead, who proceeds from the Father through the Son, as he himself knows." There is hardly any doubt that here St. John of Damascus has in mind not only the temporal mission or descent of the Holy Spirit into the world for revelation and the illumination of all creatures. The Holy Spirit is "the force of the Father who proclaims the hidden Godhead." But not only in revelation is he the Spirit of the Son. In his explanation of the Thrice-Illumined Trinity St. John of Damascus says directly: "The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son, but not filially." And in his book Against the Manichees St. John writes: "The Father existed eternally, having his Logos out of himself, and through his Logos his Spirit, who proceeds out of him." At the same time, however, the mysterious "mediation" of the Son in the Holy Spirit’s eternal intra-Trinitarian procession from the Father "through the Son" which, St. John maintains, is equivalent in no way to that "causing" by the Father which is the beginning of the Holy Spirit’s hypostatic existence. So any notion about some "co-causing" "by the Son" is unquestionably excluded. "Of the Holy Spirit we say that he is of the Father, and we call him the Father’s Spirit, but we do not say that the Spirit is also of the Son. And we profess that he was revealed to us and given to us through the Son" [The Gospel of St. John 20:22]. "The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Son, not as from him, but as through him, proceeding from the Father. For the only author, the only Causer — μόνος αιτιος — is the Father alone."

St. John of Damascus steadfastly distinguishes εκ and δια, for him δια does not compromise any causal factor. "Through the Son" expresses a completely special relationship between the Second and Third Hypostases — a kind of "mediation" of the Son as the "preceding" in the order of the Holy Trinity, as the Second before the Third." The Holy Spirit is of the Father, the Spirit is of the Son but not from out of the Son. The Spirit is the Spirit of God’s mouth, the proclaimer of the Logos. The Holy Spirit is an image of the Son, as the Son is an image of the Father. This means that the Logos is revealed in the Holy Spirit as the Father is revealed in the Logos. For the Logos is the herald of the Mind, and the Holy Spirit is the disclosure of the Logos. The Holy Spirit, who proceeds from the Father, rests in the Son as his power of manifestation. In speaking of the appearance, the "passage," the "shining" of the Holy Spirit through the Son, the fathers of the fourth and fifth centuries meant primarily to reveal and affirm the truth of Trinitarian consubstantiality, and the most genuine eternal unity of the Holy Spirit with the Logos and the Father. Therefore, one must not limit" through the Son" only to the fact of the Holy Spirit’s descent in time to creation.

In this sense, the doctrine of the Cappadocians, St. Gregory of Nyssa in particular, is especially significant. St. Gregory of Nyssa directly points out as the distinguishing feature of the Third Hypostasis the fact that the Son originates "directly from the Father," while the Holy Spirit comes "from the First with the mediation of — "through" — the One who came from the Father directly. And this "mediation" — ή του Υιου μεσιτεία — preserves the uniqueness, the “Only-Begottenness” of the Sonship. According to St. Gregory of Nyssa, the Holy Spirit originates from the Father not in the same way as the Only-Begotten, but rather originates through the Son himself, as a light which shines "through born light" which, in turn, however, "has the reason of hypostasis from the prototypical light." St. John of Damascus attaches himself directly to these words of St. Gregory of Nyssa. He also repeats the latter’s notion of the Holy Spirit as the "middle" or "that which connects" the Father and the Son: the Holy Spirit is the "middle between the not-born and the born," and through the Son the Holy Spirit is united to — or "attaches to" — the Father, in the words of St. Basil. St. Maximus expressed himself in the same way: the Holy Spirit "ineffably proceeds in essence from the Father through the born Son." After St. John of Damascus, the patriarch Tarasius expressed himself in the same way in his synodicon which was adopted at the Seventh Ecumenical Council: "I also believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and the Giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father through the Son." St. John of Damascus was only the exponent of a common Eastern theological tradition. With him, perhaps, "through the Son" obtained die additional sense of an intentional contrast to the Latin filioque, which had — as early as St. Augustine — a causative nuance, the motif of the Son’s co-causality.

In the East, on the contrary, theologians always emphasized the complete singleness of "beginning" or "cause" in Holy Trinity. This is the Father’s proto-source Hypostasis, "the begetting and projecting source," according to St. John of Damascus. Hence, the co-equality of the Son and the Holy Spirit as hypostases which eternally "originate" from a single being — in such a way, however, that the God-revealed order of the hypostases is not changed, and the Holy Spirit is cognized "in third place." The Holy Spirit proceeds "through the Son." This means that the procession is pleasing to God and inscrutably "presupposes" the eternal birth of the Son. And the oikonomic order of revelation, crowned by the appearance of the Holy Spirit, reproduces, as it were, and reflects the ontological order of the Life of the Holy Trinity, in which the Holy Spirit proceeds like a kind of shining which reveals the hidden goodness of the Father and proclaims the Logos.

This order and connection are indisputably clear in the basic form of the Logos or Word and the Breath: the Word and the Breath are combined, but the Breath is for the sake of the Word, that is "through the Word." In the order of Revelation the Holy Spirit is the "completing force." The Holy Spirit is not a secondary force, but the life-giving Lord, the dominating Spirit, all-accomplishing and all-powerful, the Creator, the Fulfilling One and the Almighty, "who created and brought about everything without exception through himself," the illuminating and the preserving One. The Holy Spirit completes what is created by the Logos and gives life, for he is life.

St. John of Damascus speaks little and fragmentarily about creation. Following the ancient fathers, St. John defines creation as an act of Divine will which brought into existence that which had not been, and which kept what had been created in existence. God creates by thought, and this thought, fulfilled by the Logos and accomplished by the Holy Spirit, becomes deed. This is literally from St. Gregory of Nazianzus. The reason for creation — provided it is possible to speak of the reason for Divine creativity -lies in the most abundant goodness of God, which willed that something originate which could communicate with God. The images and plans of that which would be accomplished by God — "ikons" and "paradigms" — existed in him from time immemorial. This is "God’s eternal counsel" about the world, which is without beginning and unchanged. These images are God’s thoughts about everything. St. John of Damascus directly refers to the Corpus Areopagiticum but he does not dwell in detail on interpretation as to how real things relate to the Divine prototypes.

Following St. Gregory of Nazianzus, he supposes that creation of the angels precedes the creation of man.The angels are also created in God’s image. "Only the Creator alone knows the appearance and definition of this essence." The angels are incorporeal, but this definition only opposes them to us, while compared to god everything proves to be coarse and material. Only God alone is essentially incorporeal. St. John of Damascus speaks briefly about the angels, repeating St. Gregory of Nazianzus more than the Corpus Areopagiticum. The angels were created through the Logos and achieved perfection from the Holy Spirit who gave them illumination through grace.

God creates man in his image and likeness out of two natures -the reasoning and the sensual — as a kind of "connection" between the visible and the invisible, as a kind of microcosm. Man is the image of God "through imitation." The Mind and Freedom are the images of God, and the ascent to virtue signifies likeness. God gives his own image and his own breath to man, but man does not preserve this gift in the fall. God comes down to receive our poor and feeble nature "in order to cleanse us and liberate us from decay and again make us communicants of his Divinity."

In creation God gave man not only existence, but also blessed existence. He clothed mankind in his grace, and gave him the right and the capacity to enter into and abide in continual unity with God through his own volition. He created man as a kind of "new angel" to reign over the earthly and move into the celestial. "He made him deified through gravitation towards God — this is what constitutes the goal of the mystery — deified through communion with Divine illumination, but not transformed into God’s essence." Primordial man was settled in paradise and Divine paradise was two-fold: corporally, man resided in a divine and most sublime place, while in his soul he resided in a place incomparably more sublime and lofty, having as his abode God, who resided in him. Man was created in imperishability, apatheia, immortality, for a life equal to that of the angels — that is, a life of continuous contemplation and unceasing glorification of the fl Creator. However, the primordial man had to assimilate everything that was given to him with his freedom, for only that which is not involuntary and not compelled is virtue.

In man’s will and freedom is the beginning of evil — not in nature, but in will. Sin, evil, or vice is something anti-natural, but | living virtuously conforms to nature. The fall shakes man’s nature. Having turned from God, man gravitates toward the side of matter — after all, man in his make-up is placed "in the middle" between God and matter. Plunging into matter, man becomes mortal and falls under lust and passions. Man was created in chastity, and from the very beginning chastity was implanted in man’s nature — "chastity resided in paradise." If man had not fallen, God "could have multiplied the human race by another method," not through conjugal joining, and not through birth, as man’s original formation was not by birth.

The Lord himself came to triumph over death and vice — "the Lord and Creator himself enters into battle for our creation." The Evil One caught man, having promised him divine dignity, and he is caught himself when God appears in the form of flesh. God’s wisdom finds a worthy solution to the insurmountable difficulty. "And the newest of the new is accomplished and it is the only new thing under the sun."

That which was accomplished in Christ, as in the beginning, is repeated in everyone who desires it — through communion with Christ. The opportunity for a second birth is given — by Christ. Eternal and imperishable food is given — in the Eucharist. God inscrutably transforms matter, "and through what is common by nature is accomplished that which is higher than nature." People wash with water and anoint themselves with unction, and here is God combining unction and water with the grace of the Holy Spirit and making baptism a bath of regeneration. People nourish themselves on bread and drink water and wine, and God combines these substances with his Divinity and makes them his flesh and his blood. Through the common and the natural, we obtain what is higher than nature. In the Eucharist all become "communicants of the Divinity of Jesus" and are reunited and communicate with one another, like members of a single body. St. John of Damascus speaks of the Eucharist as the crowning of redemption — as a gift and a return of imperishability or immortality. About the illumination of the Holy Gifts he writes: "They are transformed" — μεταποιούνται. They are transformed through the invocation of, through calling upon the Holy Spirit — επίκλησις — and "through this calling there appears rain for the new farming, for the overshadowing force of the Holy Spirit appears."

St. John of Damascus elucidates the image of the mysterious transformation with a comparison to the Incarnation itself and to how bread and wine in natural feeding change into the flesh and blood of the receiver, becoming indistinguishably identical to the former body. The Eucharistic bread is bi-natural through union with the Godhead, as a kind of blazing coal which is dissolved by fire — this is reminiscent of the "doubly-natural coal" in some liturgical texts. This is the "beginning of the future bread" — the Body of the Lord is spiritual, for it is born of the Holy Spirit.

Then there is the image, the prototype of the future age when communion with Christ’s Divinity will be realized directly, through contemplation. This will be a likening to the angels. However, man is already above the angels, and is extolled over them, for God did not become an angel, but a real and perfect man. Also, the angelic nature is not assimilated by the Logos in his hypostasis. The angels are only privy to grace and God’s actions, while mankind — in the Eucharist — is given more, for God is hypostatically united with the Holy Sacraments.

All of Christ’s life — but most of all his Holy Cross — was a redemptive deed and a miracle. It is the Cross which abolished death, resolved sin, revealed resurrection, and secured a return to ancient bliss. "Christ’s death, or the Cross, vested us in God’s hypostatic wisdom and force’ [see Galatians 3:22]. In this is the token of resurrection, as the final "restoration of the fallen." In the saints this resurrection is already anticipated, for "the saints are not dead." It is not fitting to call those who rest in the hope of resurrection, with faith in the Resurrected Commencer of Life, dead. They reigned over the passions and preserved undamaged the likeness of God’s image according to which they were created. With their freedom they joined themselves to God and received him into the abode of their hearts. And having communicated with him, through grace they became what he is by nature. Slaves by nature, they are friends of Christ by choice, and sons by grace, for they have become the treasure-house and abode of God. Therefore, even in death — rather, in sleep — they are alive, for they are in God, and God is life and light.

As for the angels, the Scriptures do not say that they will mount the throne of glory with Christ on the Judgment Day. "They will not co-reign, nor will they be glorified with him, nor will they sit at the Father’s table." This, however, is said about the saints. And the angels will stand before them trembling. Even now, the angels stand before human nature "which sits in Christ on the throne of glory," in fear and trembling.

Through Christ "nature ascended from the earth’s lower depths higher than any authority and mounted the Father’s throne." "We were substantially illumined from the time when God the Logos became flesh, becoming like us in everything but sin, joining our nature without mixing, and immutably deifying the flesh through its inter-communion or circumincession with the Godhead — περιχώρησις. And we were essentially liberated from the time when the Son of God, and God, being impassive through his Divinity, suffered through receiving human nature, and paid our debt, having poured forth on us true and surprising redemption, for the Son’s blood is mad merciful before the Father and is sacred. We essentially became immortal from the time when he, who had descended into hell, proclaimed to the souls who had been bound there from time immemorial: to the captive, absolution; to the blind, sight; and, having bound the strong one, he rose with an abundance of power, after making our flesh, which he had received, imperishable. We were essentially adopted from the time of our birth by water and the Spirit."

In his interpretation of Christ’s redemptive deed, St. John of Damascus follows the Cappadocians. Following St. Gregory of Nazianzus, St. John rejects die Origenist view of Christ’s sacrifice as a ransom to the devil, but retains individual features of this theological theory — probably under the influence of St. Gregory of Nyssa. It is the notion of the devil’s misuse of the power which he has seized, and the notion of the devil being deceived. "Death approaches, and, having swallowed the body — the lure — is pierced by the Godhead as if by a fish-hook. Having tasted the sinless and life-giving body, it perishes and gives back all whom it had once swallowed."

St. John of Damascus borrows the notion of the separation of the sexes in the foreknowledge of the fall from St. Gregory of Nyssa.

St. John of Damascus wrote towards the end of the Christological epoch, and it is no accident that his system speaks mostly about Christological themes. He is really summing up all of Eastern Christology here. God became man to save and renew or "deify" man. The Incarnation of the Logos is accomplished through the activity of the Holy Spirit, as everything which exceeds nature’s measure. It is created by the power of the Holy Spirit who accomplished the very creation. The Holy Spirit cleanses the pleasing Virgin and gives her the power to receive the Divinity of the Logos into herself and bear the Logos in the flesh. And then she was shielded, like some Divine seed, by the Son of God, the hypostatic Power and Wisdom. And he formed from her chaste blood the beginning of our nature. At the same time St. John stresses that "the human form did not take shape through gradual increments, but was completed at once." The entire fullness of the body was given at once, although it was not fully developed. And a three-fold deed was accomplished at once: the acceptance, the existence (that is, the origin itself), and the deification of humanity by the Logos. For Christ’s flesh is thus the flesh of the Logos — without any temporal separation. The Holy Virgin did not bear a simple man, but God Incarnate. Therefore, the name Theotokos "contains the whole history oikonomia"

In the Incarnation God the Logos receives not abstract humanity, as it is perceived by pure speculation, for this would not be Incarnation but a phantom and deceit. Nor did he receive all of human nature as it is realized in all the human race, for he did not receive all the hypostases of the human race. But he receives manhood as it is, in the indivisible. He received it, however, in such a way that by itself it was not and is not a special or preexisting hypostasis but receives its very existence in his hypostasis. Manhood in Christ is hypostasized in the very hypostasis of the Logos. It is enhypostasized to the Logos. And therefore Christ in his Manhood is similar to people as to numerically different hypostases of the human race, even though there is no human hypostasis in him.

At the same time the non-individualized human nature is enhypostasized to the Logos in such a way that the sense of the perception is limited to the confines of a single human hypostasis, the the boundary of numerical peculiarity. But the human nature, in the fullness of its essential definitions, is hypostasized and realized only through the power of the Divine hypostasis. It is precisely for this reason that everything acquired by the Savior through his Manhood is potentially and dynamically imparted to and divided among the whole human race, which is consubstantial with him. Human hypostasity does not suppose this boundary in Christ, although it is impossible to say that Christ is multi-hypostatic. Human nature in Christ is the Logos’ own humanity, and therefore it is numerically delimited from all other hypostases. On the other hand, however, it is precisely a nature, in the totality of the basic or essential definitions — that is, man’s very composition as such. And to the extent that it is imparted or accommodated — without being compelled in any way, but to the extent and by virtue of a living and free reunion with Christ in his twofold hypostasis — it is realized in the sacraments.

We must make note of a very important distinction. The Logos’ acceptance or "assumption" of everything human is discussed in two different senses. It is necessary to distinguish "natural or essential" assumption and "personal and relative" assumption. On the basis of the former, the Lord received our nature and everything natural — he became a man by nature and in fact. In the second sense, through compassion and love, "taking upon himself the face of another," the Lord assumed our curse and abandonment, and everything similar which does not belong to nature "not because he is or became such but because he accepted our person and placed himself next to us." Here St. John of Damascus is repeating St. Maximus the Confessor.

When summing up the struggle with the Monophysites, St. John of Damascus expresses Christological dogma in terms of his predecessors — "Leontius of Byzantium" and St. Maximus the Confessor. Everything exists only in hypostatic form, either as a hypostasis of its own kind or in the hypostasis of another kind. Christ’s Manhood exists precisely this way — enhypostatically, in the hypostasis of the Logos. Therefore the hypostasis of the Logos turns out to be "complex" and "two-fold." Following the thought of "Leontius of Byzantium," St. John of Damascus insistently stresses that the name of Christ is without question a unique name. It signifies the unique union of the person of the Logos in his Divinity and in his Humanity. And there is no, will be no, and can be no other, second Christ, no other God-Man. The name of Christ receives the Logos with the Incarnation, in which humanity is anointed by the Divinity of the Logos.

The two natures are not separate, for they are inseparable within the union of the hypostasis — contrary to the thought of Nestorius and the rest of their "demonic mob" — and they are not mixed, but abide — contrary to Dioscorus and Eutyches and their "Godless followers." The unmixability and immutability of natures and the reciprocal imparting of properties or the reciprocal penetration of natures are characteristic for hypostatic union — in an equal degree. At the same time everything said about two natures is said about a united and identical hypostasis. Therefore, although the natures are enumerated, the enumeration does not separate.

In Christ manhood is deified — not through transformation, change, or mixing, of course, but through manhood’s complete union and permeation with the flame of the Godhead, which is all-penetrating and imparts perfection to its flesh without striking it with weaknesses and passions, as the sun which illuminates us does not damage itself. St. John considers the circumincession — περίχώρησίς — of natures as a unilateral permeation of humanity with Divinity, as "deification" — "not on the side of the flesh, but from the Godhead." For it is impossible that flesh penetrate through the Godhead, "but Divine nature, once it penetrated flesh, gave flesh an ineffable penetration into the Godhead, which is what union is." Flesh, which by itself is mortal, becomes Divine and life-giving through the activity of the Godhead. And the will is deified — not mixing, but uniting with the Divine and almighty will and becoming the will of God Incarnate. By virtue of this, the worship of the One Incarnate Logos is fitting — and the flesh of the Lord is worshipped as something united with the Godhead, "in the single hypostasis of the Logos." "I worship both natures in Christ jointly," exclaims St. John of Damascus, "because the Godhead united with his flesh. I am afraid to touch the burning coal because the fire is united with wood."

St. John of Damascus bases his defense of and justification for the veneration of ikons on this circumincessionπερίχωρησις — of natures and the deification of the flesh. “Along with the emperor and God I worship the purple mantle of the body,” he writes, “not as clothing and not as the fourth person! No! But as something united with God and abiding without change, as that which anointed it — the Godhead. For the nature of the flesh does not become the Godhead, but as the Logos became flesh immutably, remaining what it was, so the flesh became the Logos without losing what it had but becoming identical to the Logos hypostatically."

Following St. Maximus the Confessor, St. John develops the doctrine of the God-Man’s two wills and two energies. The Monothelite storm had not yet abated, and it was still necessary to elucidate and justify the definition, the oros, of the Sixth Ecumenical Council (680). Will and energy belong to nature, and not to the hypostasis. It is also necessary to clearly distinguish "natural will" and "elective will." The property of or the "capacity for willing" belongs to man’s nature, and in this God’s image is proclaimed, for freedom and will are characteristic of the Godhead by nature. But the defmiteness of will and volition, the "image of volition," does not belong to nature. And mankind has the possibility of choice and decision — της γνωμής. Man has this possibility, but not God, to whom it is not fitting to ascribe choice in the true sense, for God does not think things over, does not choose, does not waver, does not change his mind, "does not advise" — God is a being who is unquestionably Omniscient. Like St. Maximus, St. John of Damascus infers from the two natures in Christ the two wills, for the Lord "also accepted our will in nature." One must not, however, speak of choice and reflection in the proper sense when discussing the Savior’s human will, for it was not characterized by ignorance.The Savior did not have "certain inclinations of the will."

By virtue of the hypostatic union, the Lord’s soul knew everything, and did not in its desire become separated from the decision of his Divine will, but rather coincided with it in the object of desire — freely, of course. Freely set in motion, the Lord’s soul freely willed precisely what his Divine will willed to will. This was not compulsion, for the flesh was moved not only at the beck of the Logos, as was the case in the prophets. The two wills of the Lord were distinguished not in mood but by nature. But the Lord did not have hesitation and choice, for by nature he had an inclination to the good. He possessed the good by his very nature, for in him human nature returned to a natural state from its anti-natural one — and virtue is natural. At the same time, human nature was not only preserved, but fortified as well. Christ, however, did not perform what is characteristic of man as a simple because he was not only a man but also God. That is why his sufferings are salutary and life-giving. However, he also did not perform those deeds which are characteristic of the Godhead in a way which is characteristic of God because he was not only God but also a man. His human activity was sympathetic with the Divine, and his Divine activity was sympathetic with the human, with the actions of the flesh — both when the flesh was allowed to suffer and when salutary acts were performed through the flesh. "Each nature in Christ acts with the participation of the other," St. John concludes. In this sense it is possible to speak of a united "God-Man activity," as Pseudo-Dionysius spoke.

What has been said about the will must also be said about the mind, about knowledge, and about wisdom. In conformity with the two natures the Lord had two minds, and it is through the human mind, as an intermediary, that the Logos is united with the coarseness of the flesh — not, however, in simple co-habitation, but in in-dwelling. Having accepted, on the one hand, the human mind, Christ thought, and will always think, like a man. On the other hand, "Christ’s holy mind performs its natural actions, thinking and understanding that it is the mind of God, and that all creation worships it, remembering at the same time his sojourn and suffering on earth. Christ’s mind participates in the activity of the Divinity of the Logos, in the Logos’ arranging and controlling of everything, thinking and understanding and arranging not like a normal human mind but like a mind hypostatically joined to God which receives the title of the mind of God."

With total resoluteness St. John of Damascus asserts the fullness and perfection of Christ’s human knowledge — and from his very conception — so that in reality there was no learning or growth. The opposite view seemed to him to be Nestorian abuse. He connects his judgment in the given question with the characteristics of the will, perceiving in the perfection of knowledge the condition and cause for the mind’s unwavering steadfastness. At the same time he deduces it from his general notion of the reciprocal penetration of natures in Christ.

The Savior’s humanity in general is permeated with the Godhead — not only is it favored or anointed but it is also deified through hypostatic union, through the acceptance as the Logos’ own property into the Hypostasis of the Logos. Therefore, one must not speak of the ignorance of the Lord through his manhood. Therefore, one can speak of Christ’s success through humanity only in the impersonal sense — either in the sense that he displayed the wisdom existing in him more and more as he grew corporeally; or in the sense that he assumed our merely human success "relatively." And if the Lord prayed, it was not for his own sake and not because he had a real need for something and had to turn to God the Father. But rather because he had assumed our person, was "imitating in himself what was properly ours," and in order to fulfill every truth for us — that is, to pave the way of ascent to God for us with his holy mind.

St. John of Damascus extends this explanation to the prayer at Gethsemane as well. In it he sees an example and an image, and at the same time a manifestation of the natural resistance to death, even though it was voluntarily willed and accepted by the Savior. Christ accepted and assumed everything in our nature in order to illumine it. Consequently, he also accepted the natural and guiltless passions —φυσικά και αδιάβλητα πάθη — that is, the suffering of the soul and the body. And he really suffered, grieved, and was afraid. However, these "guiltless passions” in Christ were at the same time both in conformity with nature and above nature — κατά φύσιν καί υπέρ φυσιν, for everything in Christ was voluntary and not forced, everything was there by his free tolerance, and nothing natural in Christ preceded his will. By his own will he hungered and thirsted. He was afraid voluntarily. He was tempted by the Devil, but from without, externally, not through his thoughts. There was nothing of the slave, nothing submissive in Christ, for how could the Lord be a slave. In Christ manhood ceases to be servile. But he accepted the image or form of a slave for our sake and delivers us from slavery.

The Lord suffers and dies on the Cross for our sake. He suffers, of course, through his manhood — that is, what suffers is his suffering human nature, body and soul. The Godhead, through the Incarnation of the Logos, "arrived" not privy to suffering. And the Lord died willfully because he "was not subject to death," because death is the wages of sin, and there was neither sin nor deceit in him — "…and there was no deceit in his mouth" [Isaiah 53:9]. Therefore, his death was a sacrifice. In suffering, however, as in death the hypostatic union was not violated. Christ was never abandoned by God — that is, by his own Divinity. In the struggle at Gethsemane he prayed "as one who had assumed our person," as one speaking "from and in our place." Properly speaking, it was not Christ who was abandoned, but we who were forsaken and neglected. Christ hung on the Cross in the flesh, but abided in two natures. And when his pure soul separated from his body in death, the hypostasis did not divide, but remained inseparably with both, which abided equally in it. Thus, having separated in death, having separated "as to place," the two natures remained united in the hypostasis. The hypostasis of the Logos was the hypostasis of both the body and the soul. Neither the body nor the soul of Christ received an isolated existence for one instant; that is, a special hypostasis. And since neither nature had its own hypostasis, the two natures were preserved in the single hypostasis of the Logos. To this St. John of Damascus adds another distinction between “decay” and “through decay” — φθορά and διαφθορα, understanding under the former the “passive state” of the body — τα πάθη — and under the latter decomposition or disintegration into elements. The body of the Lord did not experience this διαφθορα. In this sense the body of the Lord is imperishable or, rather, non-diaphthoric from the beginning. But in the first sense, contrary to the mindless Julian, the body of the Lord becomes imperishable only in the Resurrection. And through the Resurrection of the Lord, who became the source of resurrection for us, imperishability and immortality were granted to us — in hope.

In the death of the Lord his deified soul descends into hell with a word of good news and is worshipped. And, having freed the prisoners, he returns from the midst of the mortal and rises from the dead — in the same body, a body which is now glorious and without weaknesses, but without having removed anything of g: the human nature. And in this glorified body he sits corporeally at the right hand of the Father — that is, in the glory and honor which is ever his as the consubstantial Son. He mounts the throne "as God and Man, willing our salvation," without forgetting his deeds on earth. Thus it is and will be on the day of the dreadful yet glorious Second Coming, the day of universal resurrection — in imperishability.

 

The Defense of the Holy Ikons.

The controversy over ikons was not a ceremonial dispute. It was a dogmatic controversy, and theological depths were revealed in it. Secular power began the controversy, but iconoclastic sympathies also proved to be strong among the clergy, even among the bishops. Iconoclastic bishops were not only currying the favor of the emperors — they frequently acted by conviction. For this reason, the situation demanded a theological basis for the veneration of ikons.

People disputed the image of Christ first of all — his depictability or "describability." From the very beginning the defenders of the ikons, the iconodules, reduced this question to its Christological premises. The veneration of ikons was not established in the Church immediately. In any event, it did not occupy a noticeable place in Christian piety in the first centuries. Even among the writers of the fourth century we find only rare, occasional mention of holy ikons — and these were either Biblical episodes or else portrayals of the "ordeals" of the martyrs.

There are no "ikons" — in the true sense of the word — among the most ancient paintings known to us. These were partly symbolic signs — the anchor, the dove, the "fish" — and allegories, usually parables from the Gospels. They were partly prototypes of the Old Testament — "types." At times they were apocalyptic visions. These ikons had primarily a decorative significance, sometimes a didactic one. "For what the word of a narration offers to the ears, a silent painting shows through imitation," wrote St. Basil the Great. Subsequently, these words by St. Basil are almost literally repeated by St. John of Damascus and by Pope Gregory — quod legentibus scriptura, hoc idiotis praestatpictura cernentibus. The counsel of St. Nilus of Sinai is very characteristic: "And let the hand of the most skillful painter fill the holy temple with the histories of the Old and New Testaments so that even those who do not know literacy and cannot read the Holy Scriptures may commit the courageous ordeals of those who truly served God to memory" (Letter 4, 58).

The didactic explanations do not, of course, exhaust the essence of ikon-painting. The ancient paintings were, however, really an original kind of "illuminated Bible" — Biblia picta — in selected fragments and episodes. Ikons in the narrow sense of the word are connected not so much with Church painting as with representations of holy subjects. Most important was the veneration of the "Image Not Made By Hands." Because of a paucity of historical data we cannot trace the early history iconography in all its details. By the end of the sixth century ikons were already in universal use.

However, we do know about sharp objections to ikons. First of all, we must recall the opinion of Eusebius of Caesarea in his letter to Constantia, the sister of Constantine the Great. Eusebius considered the pictorial representation of Christ to be impossible and impermissible. This was subsequently explained as his "Arianism." Actually, Eusebius came to his "iconoclastic" conclusions entirely consistently — from Origenistic premises. "Of course, you seek the ikon which depicts him in the image of a slave and in the flesh, in which he clothed himself for our sake. But we are taught that it is dissolved by the glory of the Godhead, and the mortal is swallowed by life. In Christ the visible, as it were, perceptibly melted away in the brilliance of his Divinity, and is therefore beyond representation in deathly lines and paints. And the attention of the true Christian must not be directed to Christ’s sensual or earthly image. He already anticipates a vision of the future age, face to face." In Eusebius1 argument one plainly feels the sharp distinction between the "sensual" and the "spiritual" which was so characteristic for Origen himself. Only the "unlearned" are occupied with recollections of the earthly and kenotic life of the Savior, the days of his flesh, the Cross. The true "gnostic" contemplates his Divine Glory and is distracted from his oikonomic kenosis. Moreover, for Origen, Christ, through his ascension, is "no longer a man." Origen’s pathos of abstract spirituality makes any return to sensual realism corrupting. Eusebius was hardly alone when he drew "iconoclastic" conclusions from Origen’s system. One may think that other "Origenists" reasoned the same way. On the other hand, opponents of Origenism — St. Epiphanius, for example — came to similar conclusions. With St. Epiphanius this was a relapse into Judaism -see the prohibitions of the Council of Elvira in 306. Subsequently it was the Jews who attacked the veneration of ikons. From the sixth and seventh centuries we know of a number of apologetical works in defense of the holy ikons directed precisely against the Jews. The testimony of Leontius, the bishop of Neapolis in Cyprus and a famous hagiographer, is especially characteristic. His conclusions were subsequently repeated and embellished by St. John of Damascus (see the Apologia of Stephen of Bostra). The ikons are placed in churches for the sake of grandeur, for remembrance, and for veneration — προσ άνάμνησιν και τιμήν. And Leontius explains that the veneration concerns the ikons themselves. "I trace and draw Christ and the sufferings of Christ in the churches and homes, on squares, and on ikons, and on linen, and in pantries, and on clothing, and in any place, so that by clearly seeing them one might remember and not forget… And as you, in worshipping the book of the Law, worship not the nature of the hides and ink but the words of God found in it, so do I worship the ikon of Christ. Not the nature of the wood and the paints — Heaven forbid. But, in worshipping the inanimate ikon of Christ, through it I think to embrace Christ himself and worship him. We Christians, by corporeally kissing an ikon of Christ, or of an apostle, or of a martyr, spiritually kiss Christ himself or his martyr." This is no longer merely a didactic justification of ikons. Leontius is emphasizing the hieratic realism of the images. And that "recollection" of which he speaks is not only the psychological movement of the soul.

On the very eve of the iconoclastic explosion, the Council of Trullo or the Quinisext Council (692) established the basic principles of iconography in the famous Eighty-Second Canon. "In some pictures of the venerable ikons, a lamb is painted to which the Precursor points his finger, which is received as a type of grace, indicating beforehand through the Law, our true Lamb, Christ our God. Embracing therefore the ancient types and shadows as symbols of the truth and patterns given to the Church, we prefer ‘grace and truth,’ receiving it as the fulfillment of the Law. In order therefore that ‘that which is perfect1 may be delineated to the eyes of all, at least in colored expression, we decree that the figure in human form — κατά ανθρωπίνον χαρακτήρα — of the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world, Christ our God, be henceforth exhibited in ikons instead of the ancient lamb, so that all may understand by means of it the depths of the humiliation of the Logos of God, and that we may recall to our memory his conversation in the flesh, his passion and salutary death, and his redemption which was wrought for the whole world." The same council in its Seventy-Third Canon refers to the veneration of the Cross. "Since the life-giving Cross has shown to us Salvation, we should be careful that we render due honor to that by which we were saved from the ancient fall. Wherefore, in mind, in word, in feeling giving veneration — προσκυνησιν — to it, we command that the figure of the Cross, which some have placed on the floor, be entirely removed therefrom, lest the trophy of the victory won for us be desecrated by the trampling under foot of those who walk over it. Therefore those who from this moment on represent on the pavement the sign of the Cross, we decree are to be cut off." Characteristic here, especially in the Eighty-Second Canon, is the sharp contrast between the Old and the New Testament. "Grace" and "truth" and "the perfect" — the stress here is precisely on evangelical realism, “on the memory of his life in the flesh” — προς μνήμην της ένσάρκου πολιτείας. The Council of Trullo consolidates the sacred-historical realism already established in ikon-painting, and abolishes the archaic symbolism of the Old Testament "symbols and types." The "outlines" or symbols and types were realized and fulfilled, and "grace and truth" appeared. And the ikon must not prophesy as much as "recall." Here is given the theme of the later theological defense of the holy ikons.

The prohibition of holy ikons in the early eighth century was issued by the emperor. It is hard to determine his motives precisely. In any case, in the actions of the iconoclasts we can detect a coherent program of Church reform and social reform. It does not take shape immediately. And it was possible to reach similar conclusions from different premises — it was possible to resort to the same practical measures from different motives. However, the basic tendency of the iconoclastic movement is entirely clear. This is the fallacious pathos of ineffability, the pathos of the gap between the "spiritual" and the "sensual" — one could say a fallacious religious symbolism from the temptation of the holy ikons’ historical realism. Ultimately it is a lack of feeling for the sacred realism of history. The defenders of the veneration of ikons, the iconodules, realized this at once. Even the patriarch Germanus divined a kind of Docetism in iconoclasm — his letter to Thomas of Claudiopolis, written before open persecution began, witnesses to this. Later, George of Cyprus flatly declared in an argument with the iconoclastic bishop Cosmas: "He who thinks like you, blasphemes Christ, the Son of God, and does not confess his oikonomia in the flesh" — την ενσαρκον οίκονομίαν. We find no coherent system of dogmatic conclusions in the first defenders of the veneration of ikons. It is perfectly clear, however, that for them the possibility of ikon-painting is connected precisely with the reality of the history of the Gospel and the truth of the Incarnation.

St. John of Damascus for the first time attempts to develop the defense of the holy ikons into a theological justification. Here he relies on earlier apologetic experience — probably on Leontius of Cyprus most of all. Unfortunately these apologies of the seventh century are known to us only in later excerpts. St. John of Damascus bases the possibility of sacred iconography on a general notion of the relationship between the spiritual and the material, between the invisible and the visible, as it is revealed to us in the light of the Incarnation.To him iconoclasm is a land of Docetism, an insensitivity to the mystery of the God-Man, and, in a sense, a kind of pre-Christian frame of mind.

God, through the pure spirituality of his nature, is invisible, "infinite," and therefore "indescribable” and undepictable. He has no actual image in the material world. One must remember that περιγραφή means at once both “description” and “limitation” — hence the remark about “infiniteness." However, even the invisible can be described in word, at least symbolically. In general, an image is the "disclosure and portrayal of what is hidden." In this sense, a visible depiction of the invisible is possible "so that a corporeal image displays a certain incorporeal, mental contemplation." Such were the prophetic images, the Old Testamental "Tabernacle" itself — the "ikon of all creation" shown on the mountain, in the words of St. Gregory of Nyssa — the Ark of the Covenant and the Cherubim over it, as standing before God. God appeared in images in the Old Testament, and Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, and all the prophets saw an image of God, not the very essence of God. The Burning Bush is an image of the Theotokos. This type of image is symbolic.

In creation itself there are certain natural images which show us, however dimly, the Divine revelations — created analogies to the Trinity, for example. Therefore, discussion of God is generally possible, although it always remains imprecise and approximate, since knowledge of the invisible is mediated by visible signs. St. John of Damascus distinguishes several kinds of images. God created the first image himself. First he bore the Only-Begotten, "his living, natural ikon, the perfect outline of his eternity." Secondly, he created man in his image and likeness. One is connected with the other. God also appeared in the Old Testament "as a man" — see especially Daniel’s vision. "They saw not God’s nature then, but a prototype and depiction of the One before whom they were to appear — "typos" and "ikon" For the Son and the Invisible Logos of God intended to become a true man in order to be united with our nature and visible upon the earth." The second kind of image is God’s Eternal Counsel about the world; that is, the sum total of images and examples or "paradigms" of that which has been and will be created. The third kind of image is man, an image "by imitation." Then St. John of Damascus speaks of prophetic images, created analogies "for the sake of our understanding," memorable signs, and the images of memory.

"And the law, and everything which is according to the law, was somehow a shadowy foretelling of the future image — that is, of our service, and our service is an image of future blessings. And reality itself, the Heavenly Jerusalem, is something immaterial and not made by hands. Everything was for its sake: that which is according to the law, and that which is according to our service." Thus, St. John of Damascus reduces the question about the possibility of iconography to the basic problem of appearance and Revelation.

The relationship between the visible and the invisible changes substantially with the coming of Christ. "In antiquity God, incorporeal and not having form, was never portrayed," St. John writes, continuing: "now, after God has appeared in flesh and lived among men, we portray the visible in him." God appeared and became visible. Therefore, let us portray him — no longer merely symbolically or in a model, but in the direct sense of a descriptive reproduction of what was. "I do not portray the invisible Godhead, but God’s flesh which has been seen." In antiquity Israel did not see God, but we saw, and see, the glory of the Lord. "We have beheld his glory, the glory as of the only Son from the Father" (John 1:14). "I saw God’s human image, and my soul was saved. I contemplate God’s image as Jacob saw — but differently, for he saw the immaterial prototype of the future with the eyes of the mind, while I contemplate that which recalls the Visible in the flesh."

Thus, for St. John of Damascus, iconography is based first of all on the very fact of the historical Gospel, on the fact of the Incarnation of the Logos, who is accessible and subject to description — "Write everything, in word and in paints." St. John brings these two kinds of "description" together. "An ikon is a reminder. And what the book is for those who are trained in letters, so the ikon is for the untrained. And what the word is to the ear, so the ikon is to the eye — mentally we are joined to it." Through this we illumine our senses of sight and hearing. We see the ikon of our Lord and are illumined through it. "Books for the illiterate." By this St. John of Damascus means not only that for illiterate ikons take the place of speech and the word. But rather he also establishes a general category for any kind of "description." After all, even the Scriptures are are "descriptions," and a kind of verbal portrayal of the "Invisible" and the Divine. Iconography is as possible as the Scriptures — through the fact of Revelation, through the reality of visible theophanies. In both cases "we ascend through corporeal contemplation to the spiritual."

The Old Testament prohibition against making "any likeness," which the iconoclasts cited before anything else, had in St. John’s mind a temporary significance and force, and was an educational measure for cutting off the Judaic inclination towards idolatry. But now the upbringing has ceased, the educational process has peaked, and not all of the Law retains its force in the kingdom of grace. "But you saw no form. Take good heed to yourselves. You saw no form on the day that the Lord spoked to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire." St. John of Damascus cites this text from Deuteronomy (4:12,15) and asks: "What is being mysteriously demonstrated here? It is obvious that when you see that the Incorporeal has become a man for your sake, you will make an image of his human aspect."

The invisible God is really indescribable and not portrayable. But he became visible and describable through the Incarnation. "He accepted the nature, and the volume, and the appearance, and the color of flesh. When the Invisible becomes visible in flesh, you will depict a likeness of what has been seen. When the incorporeal, which has no form, no quantity, and no size, which is incomparable in view of the superiority of its nature, which Exists in God’s image — when he accepts the form of a slave and humbles himself in it, down to quantity and size, and vests himself in a corporeal image, draw him on a board, and on it put for contemplation the One who permitted that he be seen." And St. John of Damascus concludes: "And we wish to contemplate his features."

At the same time, by virtue of the hypostatic union, the "flesh became Logos," as well, so that "the body of God is God." "As that which unites with fire becomes fire, not by nature but by union through burning and communion, so too, the flesh of the Incarnate Son of God." Consequently, a description of Christ in his visible and human image is a genuine portrayal of God himself. God is depictable in the true sense only through the Incarnation, but the image of the Incarnate One is the image of God, and not merely the image of a body. St. John does not develop this thought in detail, but it directly follows from his general Christological premises: the acceptance of the human into the hypostasis of the Logos is deification, and consequently all of what is human in Christ is a living image of what is Divine.

Against the iconoclast it was necessary to defend not only iconography but even more the veneration and of ikons — προσκυνησις. If the "description" or "portrayal" of God is even possible, is it permitted? Is it useful? St. John of Damascus answers directly, again citing the Incarnation. The Incarnation of the Logos illumines the flesh, "deifies" it, as it were, and thus makes it worthy of being venerated — not as matter, of course, but by virtue of its union with God. "I do not worship matter, but the Creator of matter, who became material for my sake and who deigned to reside in matter, and who made my salvation through matter. And I will not cease venerating the matter through which my salvation was accomplished." This also concerns Christ’s flesh ("I worship the body’s purple mantle") and to all "the remaining matter through which my salvation was accomplished," for it, too, is full of Divine power and grace — the Cross, the Sepulchre, Golgotha, the Gospels — which, after all, are also a kind of ikon, an image or description of the Incarnate Logos.

Matter in general is not something low or despicable, but a creation of God. Ever since the uncontainable Logos was contained in it, matter has been worthy of praise and veneration. Therefore, material images are not only possible, but also necessary, and have a direct and positive religious significance, for "our nature was glorified and moved into imperishability." This justifies iconography and the veneration of ikons in general — the ikons of the saints as a triumph and a sign of victory, "an inscription in memory of victory." "For this reason the deaths of the saints are also celebrated, and churches are raised to them, and ikons are painted." In the Old Testament human nature was still under censure — death was considered a punishment, and the body of the dead impure. But now everything has been renewed. "We have been illumined since the time when God the Logos became flesh and, without mixture joined with our nature."

Man was adopted by God and received imperishability as a gift. And properly speaking the saints are not dead. "After he who is Life itself and the Initiator of Life was numbered among the dead, we no longer call ‘dead’ those who are resting in hope of resurrection with faith in him." They are alive with the audacity to stand before God. The morning star has already risen in our hearts. And the grace of the Holy Spirit is present in the bodies and souls of the saints, during life and in death, and in depictions of them and on ikons (whose grace and energy work miracles). And human nature is extolled higher than the angelic ranks, for the God-Man sits on the Father’s throne. "The saints are the sons of God, sons of the kingdom, the co-heirs of God and of Christ. Therefore, I venerate the saints and glorify them: slaves and friends, and the co-heirs of Christ — slaves by nature, friends by choice, sons and heirs by Divine grace." For by grace they became that which he is by nature. This is the triumphant army of the heavenly king.

St. John of Damascus distinguishes various kinds of worship. First of all comes service — κατά λατρείαν, which is fitting for God only, but has various types and degrees — servile worship, worship out of love and ecstasy, worship in the form of thanksgiving. Otherwise, it is fitting to honor created things only for the Lord’s sake. Thus it is fitting to honor the saints, for God rests in them. It is fitting to honor everything connected with the cause of salvation — Mount Sinai, Nazareth, the manger in Bethlehem, the Holy Sepulchre, the blessed garden of Geth -semane, "for they are the receptacle of Divine activity." It is also fitting to venerate one another, "as those who have their destinies in God and are created in the image of God." Such honor ascends to the source of all goodness, God.

St. John of Damascus does not settle the question of the painting and veneration of ikons in his writings. Not everything in his writings is entirely clear. It was he, however, whom later writers followed. And the fundamental principles of the doctrine of veneration of ikons were expressed by St. John: ikons are possible only by virtue of the Incarnation, and iconography is inseparably connected with the renewal and deification of human nature which were accomplished in Christ. Hence, the close connection between the veneration of ikons and the veneration of the saints, especially in their holy and imperishable relics. In other words, the doctrine of the veneration of ikons has a Christological basis and significance. So it was before St. John of Damascus, and so reasoned his successors.

 

 

The Seventh Ecumenical Council 787.

The history of the struggle against iconoclasm is a long and complex history, a history that develops the original iconoclastic theology into a sophisticated philosophical vision. The Church was sorely disrupted, sorely rent over the dispute — indeed, bloodshed, violence, and compulsion from the imperial authorities reign throughout the long history from 726 until the ultimate victory of the Church over iconoclasm in 843 under Patriarch Methodius. In 787 Empress Irene managed to convoke a council which expressed the theology of the Church on the dispute, a council which is accepted as the Seventh Ecumenical Council. Although the Church would not gain its final victory over iconoclasm until 843, this council utilized as a base the theology of St. John of Damascus. Just as the iconoclastic position is more sophisticated than is often realized, so also the position of the iconodules as expressed in the brief theological position at the Seventh Ecumenical Council is far more sophisticated and philosophical than it first appears. The basic position as sketched by St. John of Damascus was developed more deeply and more penetratingly by other theologians — especially by Patriarch Nicephorus who succeeded Patriarch Tarasius in 806 but was exiled by Emperor Leo V in 815 with the resurgence of iconoclasm. The Seventh Ecumenical Council does, however, provide the essential position of the Church on a subject little understood in the Latin West — indeed, the theology of ikons is, as it were, still not fully grasped by theologians from the Western Christian tradition.

The very convoking of this council was cloaked in intrigue. Emperor Leo IV (775-780), an iconoclastic emperor, died in 780. The entire governmental apparatus was in the hands of iconoclasts. Any thought of a restoration of a theology of ikons seemed remote, if not impossible. The famous iconoclastic Council of Constantinople in 754 appeared unbreakable. The army was still under the command of many of the officers who had served under the most iconoclastic emperor of all, Emperor Constantine V Copronymos (741-775), and they were dedicated iconoclasts and also dedicated to the memory of Emperor Constantine V. But when Irene assumed power in 780 in the name of her minor son, Constantine VI, she was determined to restore a theology of ikons and annul the work of the iconoclastic council of 754. She began to change the personnel of the government, replacing the iconoclastic ministers with those she knew were supportive of iconodulism. Pope Hadrian I was informed of her intention to convoke an ecumenical council, an act of which he thoroughly approved. Patriarch Paul IV, an iconoclast, was replaced by Irene’s governmental secretary, Tarasius. At the beginning of 786 notice was given throughout the empire of the scheduled council. Rome sent two delegates — an archpriest Peter and the hegoumen Peter the Greek. Approximately three hundred and fifty bishops from the Byzantine empire proper attended. The council opened in late July or early August of 786 in Constantinople but iconoclastic elements within the imperial guard forced their way into the church with swords drawn and disbanded the council. Irene and Patriarch Tarasius realized they had to take even greater caution in preparing for the council. Irene transferred the iconoclastic army in Con -stantinople to Asia Minor with the pretext that a campaign against the Arabs was to commence. The army in Thrace was supportive of the iconodule position and these troops were brought to Constantinople. New invitations were sent in May of 787 — the new council would meet in Nicaea.

The Seventh Ecumenical Council acted swiftly under Patriarch Tarasius — it opened on the twenty-fourth of September and completed its business by the thirteenth of October. Eight sessions were held. However, the first three sessions had to confront the question of how to handle those iconoclastic bishops, especially those who participated in the iconoclastic council of 754. Numerous monks were present and it was they who opposed the council’s decision to accept the iconoclastic bishops once they had renounced their opposition to ikons. The fourth and fifth sessions examined the question of ikons from the evidence from Biblical and patristic sources. The sixth session took up the matter demanded by Pope Hadrian I that the iconoclastic council of 754 be condemned. It was at the seventh session that the oros, the definition of faith, was proclaimed. Twenty-two disciplinary canons were promulgated. Empress Irene invited the fathers of the council to conduct the eighth session in Constantinople at the Magnaura Palace. Irene personally addressed the council, had the definition of faith read and proclaimed, and then signed it — prior to the signing by her son Constantine VI and the two papal legates. The Byzantine Church gained a period of relative peace for approximately thirty years before the resurgence of iconoclasm. The reception of the acts of the council did not fare well in the Latin West, for Charlemagne challenged them and had his Prankish theologians write a response to the Seventh Ecumenical Council — the Libri Carolini.

The Definition of Faith.

"The holy, great, and Ecumenical Council which by the grace of God and the will of the pious and Christ-loving Emperors, Constantine and Irene, his mother, was gathered together for the second time at Nicaea, the illustrious metropolis of Bithynia, in the holy church of God which is named Sophia, having followed the tradition of the Catholic Church, has defined as follows:"

"Christ our Lord, who has bestowed upon us the light of the knowledge of himself, and has redeemed us from the darkness of idolatrous madness, having espoused to himself the Holy Catholic Church without spot or defect, promised that he would so preserve her, and gave his word to this effect to his holy disciples when he said: ‘Lo! I am with you always, even unto the end of the world,’ which promise he made, not only to them, but to us also who should believe in his name through their word. But some, not considering this gift, and having become fickle through the temptation of the wily enemy, have fallen from the right faith. For, withdrawing from the traditions of the Catholic Church, they have erred from the truth and as the proverb says The husbandmen have gone astray in their own husbandry and have gathered in their hands nothingness’ because certain priests, priests in name only, not in fact, had dared to speak against the God-approved ornament of the sacred monuments, of whom God cries aloud through the prophet, ‘Many pastors have corrupted my vineyard, they have polluted my portion.’ "

"And, following profane men, led astray by their carnal sense, they have calumniated the Church of Christ our God which he has espoused to himself, and have failed to distinguish between holy and profane, styling the ikons of our Lord and of his Saints by die same name as the statues of diabolical idols. Seeing which things, our Lord God — not willing to behold his people corrupted by such manner of plague — has of his good pleasure called us together, the chief of his priests, from every quarter, moved with a divine zeal and brought hither by the will of our princes, Constantine and Irene, to the end that the traditions of the Catholic Church may receive stability by our common decree. Therefore, with all diligence, making a thorough examination and analysis, and following the trend of the truth, we diminish nothing, we add nothing, but we preserve unchanged all things which pertain to the Catholic Church, and following the Six Ecumenical Councils, especially that which met in this illustrious metropolis of Nicaea, as also that which was afterwards gathered together in the God-protected imperial city" [the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed follows].

"We detest and anathematize Arms and all the sharers of his absurd opinion. Also Macedonius and those who, following him, are well called ‘Foes of the Spirit’ (Pneumatomachi). We confess that our Lady, St. Mary, is properly and truly Theotokos because she was the Mother after the flesh of One Person of the Holy Trinity, that is, Christ our God, as the Council of Ephesus has already defined when it cast out of the Church the impious Nestorius with his colleagues because he taught that there were two Persons [in Christ]. With the Fathers of this council we confess that he who was incarnate of the immaculate Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary has two natures, recognizing him as perfect God and perfect man, as also the Council of Chalcedon has promulgated, expelling from the divine Atrium — αυλής — as blasphemers, Eutyches and Dioscorus, and placing in the same category Severus, Peter and a number of others, blaspheming in various ways. Moreover, with these we anathematize the fables of Origen, Evagrius, and Didymus, in accordance with the decision of the Fifth Council held at Constantinople. We affirm that in Christ there are two will and two operations according to the reality of each nature, as also the Sixth Council, held at Constantinople, taught, casting out Sergius, Honorius, Cyrus, Pyrrhus, Macarius, and those who agree with them, and all those who are unwilling to be reverent."

"To make our confession short, we keep unchanged all the ecclesiastical traditions handed down to us, whether in writing or verbally, one of which is the making of pictorial representations, agreeable to the history of the preaching of the Gospel, a tradition useful in many respects but especially in this, that so the Incarnation of the Logos of God is shown forth as real and not merely imaginary, for these have mutual indications and without doubt have also mutual significations."

"We, therefore, following the royal pathway and the divinely inspired authority of our Holy Fathers and the traditions of the Catholic Church — for, as we all know, the Holy Spirit indwells in her — define with all certitude and accuracy that just as the figure of the precious and life-giving Cross, so also the venerable and holy ikons, as well in painting and mosaic as of other fit materials, should be set forth in the holy churches of God, and on the sacred utensils and on the vestments and on hangings and in pictures both in houses and by the wayside, that is, the ikon of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ, of our spotless Lady, Theotokos, of the honorable Angels, of all Saints and of all pious people. For by so much more frequently as they are seen in iconographic representation, by so much more readily are men lifted up to the memory of their prototypes, and to a longing after them. And to these should be given due salutation and honorable reverence — άσπασμόν και τιμητικήν προσκυνησιν — not indeed that true worship of faith — Xarpeiav — which pertains alone to the divine nature. But to these, as to the figure of the precious and life-giving Cross and to the holy Gospels and to the other holy objects, incense and lights may be offered according to ancient pious custom. For the honor which is paid to the ikon passes on to that which the ikon represents, and he who reveres the ikon reveres in it the subject represented. For thus the teaching of our holy Fathers, that is the tradition of the Catholic Church, which from one end of the earth to the other has received the Gospel, is strengthened. Thus we follow Paul, who spoke in Christ, and the whole divine Apostolic company and the holy Fathers, holding fast the traditions which we have received. So we sing prophetically the triumphal hymns of the Church, ‘Rejoice greatly, Ο daughter of Zion; Shout, Ο daughter of Jerusalem. Rejoice and be glad with all your heart. The Lord has taken away from you the oppression of your adversaries. You are redeemed from the hand of thine enemies. The Lord is a King in the midst of you. You shall not see evil any more, and peace be unto you forever.’ "

"Those, therefore, who dare to think or teach otherwise, or as wicked heretics to spurn the traditions of the Church and to invent some novelty, ore else to reject some of those things which the Church has received — that is, the Gospel, or the figure of the Cross, or iconographic representation, or the holy relics of a martyr — or evilly and sharply to devise anything subversive of the lawful traditions of the Catholic Church or to turn to common uses the sacred utensils or the venerable monasteries, if they be bishops or clerics, we command that they be deposed; if monks or laymen, that they be excommunicated."

The Council’s Letter to Irene and Constantine VI.

The letter from the Seventh Ecumenical Council to the Irene and Constantine VI contains an explanation of the definition.

"…[We have likewise decreed] that these ikons are to be venerated — προσκυνείν — that is, salutations are to be offered to them. The reason for using the word is that it has a two-fold signification. For κυνειν in the old Greek language signifies both “to salute” and “to kiss.” And the preposition προς gives to it the additional idea of strong desire towards the object; as for example, we have φέρω and προσφέρω, κυρώ and προσκyρω, and so also we have κυνέω and προσκυνέω. This last word implies salutation and strong love, for that which one loves he also venerates — προσκυνεί and what he venerates that he greatly loves, as the everyday custom, which we observe towards those we love, bears witness and in which both ideas are practically illustrated when two friends meet together. The word is not only made use of by us but we also find it set down in the Holy Scriptures by the ancients. For it is written in the histories of the Kings, ‘And David rose up and fell upon his face and did reverence to — προσεκυνήσε — Jonathan three times and kissed him’ (I Kings 20:41). And what is it that the Lord in the Gospel says concerning the Pharisees? ‘They love the uppermost rooms at feasts and greetings — ασπασμους — in the markets.’ It is evident that by “greetings” here, he means reverence — προσκύνησιν — for the Pharisees being very high-minded and thinking themselves to be righteous were eager to be venerated by all, but not [merely] to be kissed. For to receive salutations of this latter sort savored too much of lowly humility and this was not to the Pharisees’ liking. We have also the example of Paul the divine Apostle, as Luke in the Acts of the Apostles relates: ‘When we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly, and the day following Paul went in with us to James and all the presbyters were present. And when he had saluted — άσπασάμενος — them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry’ (Acts 21:17-19). By the salutation here mentioned, the Apostle evidently intended to render that reverence of honor — τιμητικήν προσκύνησιν — which we show to one another, and of which he speaks when he says concerning Jacob that ‘he reverenced’ — προσεκυνησεν — the top of his staff (Hebrews 11:21). With these examples agrees what Gregory surnamed the Theologian says: ‘Honor Bethlehem and reverence — προσκννήσον — the manger.’"

"Now who of those rightly and sincerely understanding the Holy Scriptures has ever supposed that these examples which we have cited speak of the worship in spirit — της εν πνεύματι λατρείας? [Certainly no one has ever thought so] except perhaps some persons utterly bereft of sense and ignorant of all knowledge of the Scriptures and of the teachings of the Fathers. Surely Jacob did not worship — έλάτρευσεν — the top of his staff. And surely Gregory the Theologian does not bid us to worship — λατρεύειν — the manger? By no means. Again, when offering salutations to the life-giving Cross, we together sin: ‘We venerate — προσκυνώμεν — thy Cross, Ο Lord, and we also venerate — προσκυνώμεν — the spear which opened the life-giving side of thy goodness1. This is clearly but a salutation and is so called, and its character is evinced by our touching the things mentioned with our lips. We grant that the word προσκύνησις is frequently found in the Holy Scriptures and in the writings of our learned and holy Fathers for the worship in spirit — επί της εν πνεύματι λατρείας, since, being a word of many significations, it may be used to express that kind of veneration which is service. As there is also the veneration of honor, love, and fear. In this sense it is that we venerate your glorious and most noble majesty… Therefore, because this term has these many significations, the Holy Scriptures teaching us, ‘You shall venerate the Lord your God, and him only shall you worship,’ says simply that veneration is to be given to God, but does not add the word Only,’ for veneration, being a word of wide meaning, is an ambiguous term; but it goes on to say ‘you shall worship — λατρεύσεις — him only,’ for to God alone do we render worship — latria."

"The things which we have decreed, being thus well supported, it is confessedly and beyond all question acceptable and well-pleasing before God that the ikons of our Lord Jesus Christ as man, and those of the undefiled Theotokos, the Ever-Virgin Mary, and of the honorable Angels and of all the Saints, should be venerated and saluted. And if anyone does not so believe, but undertakes to debate the matter further and is evil affected with regard to the veneration due to the holy ikons, such an one our holy ecumenical council, fortified by the inward working of the Spirit of God and by the traditions of the Fathers and of the Church, anathematizes. Now anathema is nothing less than complete separation from God. For if any are quarrelsome and will not obediently accept what has now been decreed, they but kick against the pricks and injure their own souls in their fighting against Christ. And in taking pleasure at the insults which are offered to the Church, they clearly show themselves to be of those who madly make war upon piety, and are therefore to be regarded as in the same category with the heretics of old time, and their companions and brethren in ungodliness."

The Iconoclastic Controversy.

"The Iconoclastic Controversy" appeared as "Origen, Eusebius, and the Iconoclastic Controversy" in Church History, Vol. XIX, No. 2 (1950), 77-96. Reprinted by permission of Church History and the author.

THE ICONOCLASTIC CONTROVERSY was undoubtedly one of the major conflicts in the history of the Christian Church. It was not just a Byzantine conflict; the West was also involved in the dispute. It is true, however, that the West never followed the East in the theological argument, nor did it suffer all the implications and consequences of the Byzantine theology of the Icons. In the history of the Christian East it was, on the contrary, a turning point. All levels of life were affected by the conflict, all strata of society were involved in the struggle. The fight was violent, bitter, and desperate. The cost of victory was enormous, and tensions in the Church were not solved by it. The Church in Byzantium has never recovered again her inner unity, which had been distorted or lost in the Iconoclastic strife.

Strangely enough, we seem to have lost the key to this momentous crisis of history. The origin, the meaning, and the nature of the Iconoclastic conflict are rather uncertain and obscure. Modern historians do not agree on the main points of the interpretation. It has been fashionable for several decades, since Paparrigopoulo and Vasiljevsky, to interpret the Iconoclastic crisis primarily in political and social categories and to regard its religious aspect as a side issue. It has been variously suggested that originally the conflict had nothing to do with doctrine, and theological arguments or charges were invented, as it were, post factum, as efficient weapons in the struggle. Some historians went so far as to suggest that the religious problem was simply a kind of a "smoke screen" manufactured and employed by the rival parties as a disguise to conceal the true issue, which was economic.1 Even quite recently, a prominent Byzantine scholar contended that theology "counted for nothing" in the dispute and that the whole controversy was "concerned with anything but philosophical speculation."2 Byzantium was supposed to have been spiritually dead and exhausted long before the Iconoclastic controversy arose, and the conflict itself was merely a symptom of sterility of the Byzantine Church. A kind of deadlock had been reached in her development. "Intellectual curiosity was practically dead. On the Orthodox side there is scarcely a sign of it." On the other hand, Iconoclasm "was in itself of little importance intellectually."3 The Iconoclastic struggle, therefore, should not be interpreted in the perspective of the great doctrinal conflicts of the preceding centuries; the old Christological heresies had been condemned and were dead issues by that time. Their ghosts were invoked in the Iconoclastic dispute just for the sake of polemical efficiency.4 And finally, it is contended that we should not dig out these corpses again.

In the light of the recent research, these arbitrary statements are hopelessly old-fashioned and out of date. The theological setting of the whole dispute has been rediscovered and reestablished by impartial scholars beyond any reasonable doubt. It is enough to quote the studies of George Ostrogorsky, Gerhart B. Ladner and, especially, Lucas Koch, O.S.B.5 Most modern scholars now recognize that the true problem under discussion was specifically religious, and that both parties were wrestling with real theological problems. The Iconoclastic debate was not simply ecclesiastical or ritualistic; it was a doctrinal controversy. Some ultimate issues of faith and belief were at stake. It was a real struggle for "Orthodoxy." St. John of Damascus, Patriarch Nicephorus and St. Theodore of Studium were indeed true theologians, and not just controversialists or ecclesiastical schemers. It is very instructive that a close study of the works of Nicephorus (a large part of which is still unpublished) has compelled J. D. Andreev to revise and reverse his earlier interpretation of the Iconoclastic controversy. He began his studies in the mood of Paparrigopoulo, but ended with a firm conviction that Iconoclasm was an integral phase of the great Christological dispute, that Patriarch Nicephorus was a "mighty exponent of the Greek genius." Unfortunately, Andreev's book was never published and his manuscript, which was ready for the printer, seems to have been lost.6

This new conclusion should not deny or minimize the political and social aspects of the conflict. But these aspects are to be viewed in proper perspective. All doctrinal movements in the Early Church (and possibly, all doctrinal and philosophical movements) were, in some sense, "politically involved" and had political and social implications, and even Monotheism itself was "a political problem."7 Yet, by no means were they just an ideological superstructure over a political or economic foundation. In the Iconoclastic conflict the political strife itself had a very definite theological connotation and the "Caesaro-papalism" of the Iconoclastic emperors was itself a kind of theological doctrine.8 Iconoclasm was, no doubt, a complex phenomenon. Various groups were associated with the movement, and their purposes and concerns, their motives and aims, were by no means identical. Probably, there was no real agreement inside the Iconoclastic party itself, if there was a party at all or, at least, one particular party. As a matter of fact, we know there was considerable disagreement. And therefore, the recovery of a theological setting or perspective does not settle all problems at once. It brings, rather, some new problems to the fore. We have to admit frankly that our knowledge of the epoch is still very inadequate and incomplete. There is here still much to be done before we could attempt an inclusive historical synthesis. Even the major theological documents of the epoch have not yet been properly studied. We have no reliable book on the theology of St. Theodore of Studium, and no monograph at all on St. Patriarch Nicephorus. And much of the available information has been overlooked or misinterpreted, owing to certain prejudices and presuppositions, which were never seriously scrutinized.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that, on the whole, we know and understand the position of the Iconodules much better than the theology of the Iconoclasts. The theological contentions and aspirations of the defenders of the Holy Icons are, more or less, clear and comprehensible. They were plainly stated and summarized by the prominent writers of the time. We know what they stood for and what they opposed, and what their reasons were.9 The theological position of the Iconoclasts, on the contrary, is still rather obscure. Of course, this is due primarily to the scarcity of information. Our documentation is fragmentary and scanty. The original writings of the Iconoclasts were almost completely destroyed by their antagonists and are to be reconstructed only upon the evidence of their enemies. To some extent this has been done.10 Still we do not know, exactly, what was the starting point of the Iconoclastic argument nor the real perspective of that argument. This missing perspective usually has been supplied by the conjecture of historians, as it were, by analogy. Judaic or Moslem hatred and repudiation of sacred images, on one hand, and the later Puritanical condemnation of the sacred art, on the other, seemed to provide a relevant analogy, especially because there were parallel movements of a similar type in other contexts, almost contemporaneous with the Iconoclastic outburst in Byzantium. The main problem for a historian, however, is still: what was the main inspiration of those Church groups, which committed themselves to the Iconoclastic cause? It would be a precarious endeavour to use analogy, before this first question is settled. It is a gratuitous assumption, and a too easy solution, if we simply suggest (as it had been so often done) that they were led mainly by the desire to please the Emperor.11 This assumption does not do full justice to the obvious facts. Bishops, as we know, did not go as far as some politicians, and yet they seemed to be quite sincerely against the Iconodulia. Even Kopronymos had to justify his policy and convictions by theological arguments, obviously, not so much to impress his opponents, as to make a convincing appeal to his prospective supporters, and he had to speak their idiom, even if it was not his own, i.e. even if his main reason was not ultimately a theological one. And we know that the pseudo-council of 754 did not follow the Emperor's lead completely.12

It is not the purpose of this paper to make an attempt at synthesis. Its scope and purpose is very modest and limited. I am going to bring to the fore some neglected evidence and suggest some fresh lines of research. It is to be a programme of study, not a report on achievements. We shall begin with a concrete question: What was the main authority of the Iconoclasts? It was an appeal to antiquity, and this was possibly the strongest point both of their attack and of their self-defense. It was a double appeal to Scripture and Tradition. It is usual, in modern interpretation, to give priority to their scriptural proof. Their patristic references were rather neglected. They seemed to be less instructive and convincing. But in the eighth and ninth centuries the patristic proofs would carry full weight. It seems to me, we should have given much more attention to these references, not to pass a judgment on the fight, but to ascertain the reasons and aims of the contending parties.

First of all, some few comments on the scriptural proofs will not be out of place. The Old Testament prohibition of images comes first, and the defenders of the Icons themselves gave much attention to this point. They re-interpreted in many ways this Old Testament witness. Yet, can we be sure, that it was the real focus of the debate, and was it not rather a borrowing from other literary sources? What I mean is simply this: there was a controversy between Jews and Christians, on that very point, immediately before the outbreak of the Iconoclastic movement in the Byzantine Church. Obviously, in this controversy the Old Testament witness had to have an indisputable priority. We have every reason to admit that in this debate the Christian apologists developed some standard arguments and compiled some patristic testimonia to vindicate the Christian position.13 We have no direct evidence to prove that the internecine strife within the Church was an organic continuation of the earlier Judaeo-Christian controversy. Yet, of course, it was quite natural for both sides to use or apply the readily available arguments and "proofs." But was this really the point of the Byzantine controversy? Usually, the whole Iconoclastic argument is reconstructed as a "Semitic" objection against the "Hellenistic" re-paganization of the Church. Iconoclasm then appears to be merely Oriental resistance to a more or less acute Hellenization of Christianity. We have to concede that, in some respects, it is a very plausible hypothesis.14 Iconoclasm was born in the Orient, and its first promoters were Phrygian bishops (Constantine of Nacoleia and Thomas of Claudiopolis). Yet, let us not overlook the strange fact that their names completely disappear in later documents — probably because they would not appeal too much to the new strata which were sustaining the Iconoclastic cause in its later phase.15 Again, the Iconoclastic movement in Byzantium was preceded by a persecution of a similar character in the Caliphate. Still, no direct link with the Moslem opposition has been detected — there was no more than a parallelism and "analogy."16 Even the defenders of an Oriental inspiration concede that the role of the Orientals in the later development of the struggle was nul.17 On the other hand, the first theologian of Icons emerged in the East, in a Moslem environment, and St. John of Damascus was by no means an exceptional figure. We should not forget also that, at least in the later period of the struggle, the Iconoclastic cause was popular in the Hellenized quarters, in the court circles, and in the army, whereas in the lower classes it never had flourished, even if there are recorded some cases of violence among the masses. This observation was made by Schwartz-lose.18 Even if the initial impetus came from the Orient and from the masses, the movement grew rapidly on Greek soil and was supported mostly by the learned. This was the main reason Paparrigopoulo construed Iconoclasm into an early system of Enlightenment. In any case, we have to warn ourselves against easy generalizations. The situation seems to have been more complicated than an Oriental hypothesis can explain. It remains to determine precisely why and how Iconoclasm could appeal to the higher clergy and other intellectuals in Byzantium. They were the opponents with whom Nicephorus and Theodore had to debate the issue. The subservience and opportunism of these men is not an explanation. It simply explains away an unwelcome question. It has been customary to look for the "sources" of the Iconoclasm in the most remote quarters: Judaism, Islam, Paulicianists and other Oriental heresies.19 But Hellenistic precedents or "sources" have been overlooked or ignored.

Let us turn now to the patristic references of the Iconoclastic party. Most of them are colorless and irrelevant — detached phrases taken out of their original context. There are only two references which are of importance and can substantiate a theological thesis. First, a letter of Eusebius of Caesarea to Constantia Augusta. Secondly, quotations from Epiphanius or "Epiphanides" or Pseudo-Epiphanius, if we have to agree with Ostrogorsky on the point of the authorship. The witness of Epiphanius was discussed extensively by Holl and Ostrogorsky, and we can leave it aside in the present study. We have, however, to remember that, for Holl, the witness of Epiphanius (which he regarded as authentic) was a proof of a dogmatic connotation of the whole problem of Images, as early as the fourth century.20 The evidence of Eusebius, strangely enough, was never given much attention. It has often been quoted, but never properly analyzed. There is no reason whatsoever to question its authenticity.21 It seems to be the key-argument in the whole system of Iconoclastic reasoning. It was hardly an accident that St. Nicephorus felt compelled to write a special "Antirrheticus" against Eusebius. The name of Eusebius demands attention for another reason: the whole Iconoclastic conception of the Imperial power and authority in the Church goes back to Eusebius. There was an obvious trend of archaism in Iconoclastic policy.

The letter of Eusebius is not preserved in full. Some parts of it were quoted and discussed at the Council of Nicea and again by Nicephorus, and all excerpts available were put together by Boivin and published for the first time in the notes to his edition of Nicephorus Gregoras' History (1702). The text has been reproduced several times since, and a critical edition is badly wanted.22 This time, however, we are not concerned with the exact reading.

The letter cannot be accurately dated. It was a reply to Constantia Augusta, a sister of Constantine. She had asked Eusebius to send her an "image of Christ." He was astonished. What kind of an image did she mean? Nor could he understand why she should want one. Was it a true and unchangeable image, which would have in itself Christ's character? Or was it the image he had assumed when he took upon himself, for our sake, the form of a servant? The first, Eusebius remarks, is obviously inaccessible to man; only the Father knows the Son. The form of a servant, which he took upon himself at the Incarnation, has been amalgamated with his Divinity. After his ascension into heaven he had changed that form of a servant into the splendor which, by an anticipation, he had revealed to his disciples (at the Transfiguration) and which was higher than a human nature. Obviously, this splendor cannot be depicted by lifeless colors and shades. The Apostles could not look at him. If even in his flesh there was such a power, what is to be said of him now, when he had transformed the form of a servant into the glory of the Lord and God ? Now he rests in the unfathomable bosom of the Father. His previous form has been transfigured and transformed into that splendor ineffable that passes the measure of any eye or ear. No image of this new "form" is conceivable, if "this deified and intelligible substance" can still be called a "form." We cannot follow the example of the pagan artists who would depict things that cannot be depicted, and whose pictures are therefore without any genuine likeness. Thus, the only available image would be just an image in the state of humiliation. Yet, all such images are formally prohibited in the Law, nor are any such known in the churches. To have such images would have meant to follow the way of the idolatrous pagans. We, Christians, acknowledge Christ as the Lord and God, and we are preparing ourselves to contemplate him as God, in the purity of our hearts. If we want to anticipate this glorius image, before we meet him face to face, there is but one Good Painter, the Word of God himself. The main point of this Eusebian argument is clear and obvious. Christians do not need any artificial image of Christ. They are not permitted to go back; they must look forward. Christ's "historical" image, the "form" of his humiliation, has been already superseded by his Divine splendor, in which he now abides. This splendor cannot be seen or delineated, but, in due time, true Christians will be admitted into that glory of the age to come. It would be superfluous for our present purpose to collate the parallels from the other writings of Eusebius.23

This testimony of Eusebius was disavowed by the Orthodox and rejected as heretical, as betraying his impious errors. It was emphasized that Eusebius was an Arian. We would phrase this charge somewhat differently. Eusebius was an Origenist, and his letter to Constantia was composed in an Origenistic idiom. Now, we have to ask this question: was the letter of Eusebius just an accidental reference discovered (by the Iconoclasts), post factum, and brought forward, along with many others, to vindicate a thesis that had been formulated quite independently? Or, do we have here one of the original sources of the Iconoclastic inspiration, at least in its later theological form? Should we not explain the obvious popularity of the Iconoclastic bias among the learned bishops and clergy (whom it would be ridiculous to associate with either the Moslems, Paulicianists, or other obvious heretics) on the basis of their Origenistic leaning? To do this, of course, one would have to go through the list of all the bishops and clergy concerned and ascertain to what extent this suggestion could be substantiated in each particular case. We are speaking now especially of the prelates present at the Iconoclastic pseudo-councils of 754 and 815. This inquiry cannot, however, be undertaken in the present preliminary study. In any case, Origenism was by no means a dead issue by that time. Origen's spiritual ideal, through Evagrius and St. Maximus the Confessor, was integrated into the current Orthodox synthesis. For St. Maximus himself, Origenism was still a living theology and he had to wrestle with its problems and shortcomings quite in earnest. It is not yet quite certain whether he had actually overcome all of them.24 This was but a century before the outbreak of Iconoclasm. The Orient especially was infected by Origenistic ideas of all sorts. It is true, the name of Origen was never mentioned in the Iconoclastic debate, and Nicephorus treated Eusebius simply as an Arian and does not mention Origen. We are not concerned at this point, however, with what Nicephorus had to say against Eusebius.25 The Origenistic character of the letter in question is beyond doubt. Obviously, the Iconoclasts would have condemned themselves, if they had dared to claim for themselves the authority of Origen. Yet, the whole tenor and ethos of Origenism was undoubtedly favorable to that course of theological reasoning which was actually adopted by the Iconoclasts. Therefore, the defense of Holy Icons was, in some sense, an indirect refutation of Origenism, a new act in the story of the "Origenistic controversies."

First of all, Origen's Christology was utterly inadequate and ambiguous. The whole set of his metaphysical presuppositions made it very difficult for him to integrate the Incarnation, as an unique historical event, into the general scheme of Revelation. Everything historical was for him but transitory and accidental. Therefore the historical Incarnation had to be regarded only as a moment in the continuous story of permanent Theophany of the Divine Logos — a central moment, in a sense, but still no more than a central symbol. In the perspective of a continuous Divino-cosmic process there was no room for a true historical uniqueness, for an ultimate decision, accomplished in time, by one major event. No event could, in this perspective, have an ultimate meaning or value by itself as an event. All events were to be interpreted as symbols or projections of some higher, super-temporal and super-historical, reality. The historical was, as it were, dissolved into the symbolic. Now, a symbol is no more than a sign, pointing to a beyond, be it eternity or "the age to come," or both at once. The whole system of symbols was something provisional, to be ultimately done away. One had to penetrate behind the screen of symbols. This was the major exegetical principle or postulate of Origen. The exegetical method of Origen, by whatever name we may label it, was meant precisely for that ultimate purpose — to transcend history, to go beyond the veil of events, beyond the "letter" which would inevitably kill even under the New Dispensation of Grace, no less than sub umbraculo legis. The reality or historicity of the events was not denied, but they were to be interpreted as hints and signs and symbols. It would be an obvious injustice, if we imputed to Origen a neglect of history, of the ''historic Jesus" and him Crucified. As Bigg has aptly remarked: "the Cross in all its wonder, its beauty, its power, was always before the eyes of Origen."26 This symbolism of Origen had nothing docetical about it. Yet, the "historic Cross" of Jesus was for Origen just a symbol of something higher. Only the simpliciores, "who are still children," could be satisfied, in Origen's opinion, with the "somatic" sense of Scripture, which is but "a shadow of the mysteries of Christ," just as the Law of old had been a shadow of good things to come. The more advanced are concerned with the truth itself, i.e. with the "Eternal Gospel" (or a "Spiritual" Gospel), of which the historic Gospel or Evangel is but an enigma and shadow. Origen emphatically distinguishes and contrasts an "external" and a "hidden" Christianity. He admits, it is true, that one has to be at once "somatic" and "pneumatic," but only for educational reasons and purposes. One has to tell the "fleshly" Christians that he does not know anything but Christ Jesus and Him Crucified. "But should we find those who are perfected in the spirit, and bear fruit in it, and are enamoured of the heavenly wisdom, these must be made to partake of that Word which, after it was made flesh, rose again to what it was in the beginning, with God." Ultimately, we have to "transform" the "sensual" Evangelium into the "spiritual";27 that is to say that the New Testament is to be interpreted in the same manner as the Old — as an anticipation. This basic orientation towards the future, towards that which is to come, implies a definite devaluation of the past, of that which had already happened. It implies also an ultimate levelling of the whole temporal process, which is but natural since everything temporal is but a symbol of the eternal, and at any point one can break into the eternal. The whole "allegorical" or rather symbolical method of interpretation implies a certain equality of the two historical dispensations: they are both, in an ultimate sense, but provisional, and should be interpreted as such. Both are but "shadows," if in a different sense. And Origen concludes, therefore, that in the Old Testament the whole truth was already available for the advanced. The prophets and the sages of the Old Dispensation have actually seen and known more and better than "somatics" in the Church, "and could see better than we can the realities of which (the happenings of their times) were the shadows." They have seen the glory of Christ, the image of the invisible God, "advanced from the introduction they had in types to the vision of truth." He dwells at length on this topic and concludes: "those who were made perfect in earlier generations knew not less than the Apostles did of what Christ revealed to them, since the same teacher was with them as He who revealed to the Apostles the unspeakable mysteries of godliness." The only advantage of the Apostles was that "in addition to knowing these mysteries, they saw the power at work in the accomplished fact."28 The allegorical method was first invented in order to interpret the promise. It could not suit the new purpose: a Christian exegete had to interpret an achievement. In other words, a Christian allegorist was approaching the Gospel as if it were still nothing more than the Law; he approached the New Testament as if it were still the Old; he approached the achievement as if it were but a promise. There was indeed a further promise in the achievement, yet the fact of the accomplishment should not have been disregarded. And it was at that point that the "allegorical" method was bound to fail. We may describe the allegorical method as "Judaic," i.e. as an approach to the Gospel in the spirit of Prophecy. Of course, this "Judaism" was in no sense "Semitic"; it was a typical Hellenistic approach. "For the mere letter and narrative of the events which happened to Jesus do not present the whole view of the truth. For each one of them can be shown, to those who have an intelligent apprehension of Scripture, to be a symbol of something else." We have to ascend from the narratives themselves to the things which they symbolized.29 The story or narrative is but a starting point. One begins with Jesus of the Gospel, with Him the Crucified, but his aim should be to arrive at the vision of the Divine glory. The humanity of Jesus is but the first and lowest step of our spiritual understanding, which is to be transcended.30

In fact, we have to deal here not only with the steps and degrees of interpretation. Jesus himself has transcended the state of his humiliation, which had been superseded and, as it were, abrogated by the state of his glorification. His humanity has not been laid aside, yet it was exalted to a higher perfection, in an intimate blending with his divinity.31 This is strong language indeed. "And truly, after his resurrection, he existed in a body intermediate, as it were, between the grossness of the one he had before his sufferings, and the appearance of a soul uncovered by such a body." And therefore, after his resurrection, Jesus simply could not appear to the people "in the same manner as before that event." Even in the days of his flesh he "was more things than one," i.e. he had no standing appearance, "nor was he seen in the same way by all who beheld him." His external outlook depended upon the measure of ability to receive him. His glorious transfiguration on the Mount was but one instance of the adaptability of his body. "He did not appear the same person to the sick, and to those who needed his healing aid, and to those who were able by reason of their strength to go up the mountain along with him."32 These varying appearances of Jesus are to be referred to the nature of the Word, who does not show himself in the same way, or indifferently, to all, but to the unprepared would appear as one "who has neither form nor beauty" (to the "sons of men") and to those who can ascend with him in a "surpassing loveliness.33

As strange and forbidding as this interpretation may seem to be, it has been preserved in the tradition up to the later ages. We find it, for example, in St. Maximus. He speaks of the mystical experience, but his phrasing is almost a literal quotation from Origen. The Lord does not appear to all in his present glory, but to those who are still under way he comes in the form of a servant, and to those who are capable of following him up to the mountain of his transfiguration he would appear in the form of God, in which he existed before the world began.34

For Origen, even in the days of the earthly life of Christ, his body was "an altogether miraculous body."35 After the resurrection it was assumed into his divinity, and could no more be distinguished from it.36 "Ideo omnia quod est in Christo jam nunc Filius Dei est."37 If he was truly man, he is now man no more, and therefore we also are no more men when we follow his words, for he, as the prototokos of all men, has transformed us into God.38 "Si autem Deus est qui quondam homo fuit, et oportet te illi similem fieri, 'quando similes ejus fuerimus, et viderimus eum sicut est' (I Jo. 3:2), te quoque necesse erit Deum fieri, in Christo Jesu."39 For our immediate purpose, there is no need to go into any further detail. The main contention of Origen is clear. And we could not fail to observe the close and intimate resemblance between Origen's ideas and those in the letter of Eusebius to Constantia. Origen's Christology was the background and presupposition of Eusebius. He drew legitimate conclusions from the principles laid down by Origen. If one walks in the steps of Origen, would he, really, be interested in any "historical" image or "ikon" of the Lord? What could be depicted was already overcome and superseded, and the true and glorious reality of the Risen Lord escapes any depiction or description. Moreover, from the Origenist point of view, the true face of the Lord could hardly be depicted even in the days of his flesh, but only his image accommodated to the capacity of a "somatic" and "fleshly" man, which "appearance" was in no sense his true and adequate image. Of course, Origen himself was not concerned with the pictorial images. Yet, what he had to say against pagan images could be very easily used against icons.40 Again, there was an obvious parallelism between the two problems: the problem of Scripture and the problem of pictorial representation. It was the same problem of "description." We know that this was a major topic of the whole Iconoclastic controversy. St. John of Damascus had clearly seen the connection of the two topics and problems: Scripture itself is "an image."41 If we apply the exegetical method of Origen to the problem of the artistic and pictorial "description," we shall have at least to hesitate. Possibly, we would have no difficulty in accepting "symbolic" representations, just as the Bible is to be taken as a book of symbols, which, by their very nature, compel us to go beyond. But, surely, we shall be most seriously embarrassed by a "historical" image. This was exactly what had happened at the Iconoclastic pseudo-councils in 754 and 815. The very point of their argument was this: they felt very strongly the utter disproportion between all historical ("sensual") images and the "state of glory" in which both Christ and his saints were already abiding. One instance will suffice: was it permissible, so asked the Iconoclastic bishops in 754, to depict the saints, who already shine in the glory ineffable, and to recall them thereby again to earth?42

Iconoclasm was not just an indiscriminate rejection of any art. There was a wide variety of opinion among the opponents of the icons. Yet, in the main, it was rather a resistance to one special kind of religious art, namely the icon-painting, an "icon" being a representation of a true historical person, be it our Lord or a saint. This type of Christian art was growing at that time. Its birth-place was probably in Syria, and its distinctive mark was, as Louis Brehier put it recently, "la recherche naive de la verite historique" — a special emphasis on the historic truth.43 One of the favorite subjects was the Crucified Christ. It was not necessarily a "naturalism," but it was bound to be some sort of a historic realism. This was the main contention of the new trend. A true "icon" claimed to be something essentially different from a "symbol." It had to be a "representation" of something real, and a true and accurate representation. A true icon had to be, in the last resort, a historic picture. This accounts for the stability of the iconographic types in the East: there is no room for an artistic "invention." The iconographic types belong to tradition, and are stabilized by the authority of the Church. Only the execution belongs to the artist. Thus was it formulated at Nicaenum II.44 The final appeal is not to an artistic imagination or to an individual vision, but to history, — to things seen and testified. In this connection, canon 82 of the Council in Trullo (691-692) is illustrative. It deals directly only with one particular case (the immediate circumstances of the decision are uncertain), but, at least by implication, it establishes a general principle too. The Council forbids a symbolic representation of Christ as a Lamb. Apparently, the Council was objecting to a semi-historical scene: St. John the Baptist pointing to the coming Christ, and Christ represented symbolically. The reasons for prohibition are highly instructive. The lamb is a "typos," or an "image" or figure of the coming Grace, which signifies the very Lamb, Christ. Now, the old "types" and "shadows," i.e. symbols and signs, must be respected. Yet, priority belongs to "grace" and "truth," which is the fulness of the Law. The Council prescribes that Christ should be represented or depicted as man, instead of the "ancient lamb," in remembrance of His incarnation, passion and redeeming death, and of the universal redemption, thereby accomplished.45 It is much more than an ordinary canonical regulation, it is a doctrinal statement and pronouncement. It is a doctrinal programme, a true preamble to all subsequent literature on the Holy Icons. Strangely enough, this canon was completely overlooked by the historians of Iconoclasm. The case, to which the Council refers, seems to be very special. But the canon lays down a principle. There must have been some reason for that. What is remarkable is that the painting of icons is emphatically linked with the relation between the "types" and the (historic) "truth," or possibly between the two Testaments. We touch again upon an exegetical problem. All ancient "types" are already over, the Truth had come, Christ, the Incarnate and Crucified. It was a solemn approbation and encouragement of the new "historical" art. The phrasing seems to be deliberate. An emphasis on the "human form" of Christ was quite natural at the time when the last Christological controversy had been in the process of being settled. It directs the painter's attention to the historical achievement.

It is commonly agreed that theological defense of Holy Icons, especially by St. Theodore, but earlier by St. John of Damascus, had been based on Neo-platonic presuppositions. The whole conception of the "prototype" and the "image" (reflection on a lower level) was platonic. On the whole, this statement is obviously fair. Yet, it needs a qualification. In any case, the argument includes an open reference to the (historic) Incarnation. The Iconodules were not speaking simply of "images" of some "eternal" or "heavenly" realities. They were speaking precisely of the "images" of some "earthly" realities, as it were, of historic personalities, who lived in time on earth. And this makes a difference.

At this moment, we are not concerned with the doctrine of the Iconodules. Let us admit that they were platonic or rather pro-platonic. Unfortunately, it has been overlooked that there was, in Neo-platonism, an obvious Iconoclastic tendency as well. Porphyrius, in his Life of Plotinus, tells us that Plotinus, it seemed, "was ashamed to be in the flesh," and it is precisely with that statement that Porphyrius begins his biography. "And in such a frame of mind he refuses to speak either of his ancestors or parents, or of his fatherland. He would not sit for a sculptor or painter." Should one make a permanent image of this perishable frame? It was enough that one is compelled to bear it.46 Plotinus would gladly forget that he had an earthly biography, parents or fatherland. The philosophical aspiration of Plotinus must be carefully distinguished from an "Oriental" asceticism, Gnostic or Manichean. Plotinus was not a dualist. Yet, his practical conclusion was still that we should "retreat" from this corporeal world and escape the body. Plotinus himself suggested the following analogy. Two men live in the same house. One of them blames the builder and his handiwork, because it is made of inanimate wood and stone. The other praises the wisdom of the architect, because the building is so skillfully erected. For Plotinus this world is not evil, it is the "image" or reflection of the world above, and perhaps the best of all images. Still, one has to aspire beyond all images, from the image to the prototype, from the lower to the higher world, and Plotinus praises not the copy, but the pattern or exemplar.47 "He knows that when the time comes, he will go out and will no longer have need of any house."48 This was why he was unwilling to sit for a painter. The picture of this "perishable frame" could never be his true "image," an image of his immortal self. No picture can ever be taken of the very self of man. And therefore, all pictures are deceiving. They would imprison man's imagination in a "perishable frame." Now, is not this admirable passage of Plotinus a good introduction to the Iconoclastic mind? A Christian would, of course, put the whole problem a bit differently. Possibly, instead of a "world above" he would speak of the "age to come." Yet, to the same effect. Origen, at least, was not so far from Plotinus at this point. It is interesting to notice that among the ancient testimonia, collected by the Iconoclasts, there was one of an obvious "platonic" inspiration and of an undoubtedly heretical origin. It was a quotation from the Acts of St. John. It was an exact parallel to the story told of Plotinus by Porphyrius. A picture was taken of St. John, without his knowledge. He did not approve of it, nor could he recognize at once that it was really his picture, as he had never seen his face in the mirror. After all, it was but a "picture of his body." But man had to be the painter of his soul and to adorn it with faith and other virtues. "This, however, which thou hast made, is childish and imperfect; thou hast painted a dead picture of a dead thing."49

It has been usual to interpret the Iconoclastic movement as an Oriental or Semitic reaction and resistance to an excessive Hellenization of Christian art and devotion, to the Hellenistic involvement of the Byzantine Church. But, we find nothing specifically "Semitic" in Iconoclastic theology; both the arguments and the proofs seem to be rather Hellenistic. The Iconodules were Platonic to be sure. But was not the Iconoclastic attitude also rather Platonic? And are we not to interpret the whole conflict rather as an inner split within Hellenistic Christianity? Iconoclasm was, of course, a very complex movement and its various components are to be carefully analyzed. But the main inspiration of Iconoclastic thought was Hellenistic. We must reverse the current interpretation. It was Iconoclasm that was a return to the pre-Christian Hellenism. The whole conflict can be interpreted as a new phase of an age-long process. Sometimes it has been styled as an Hellenization of Christianity. It should be described rather as a Christianization of Hellenism. The main feature of the process was obviously the split in Hellenism or its polarization. In the Iconoclastic controversy, — at least, on its theological level — the two Hellenisms, as several times before, met again in a heated fight. The main issue was between symbolism and history. The Iconoclasts represented in the conflict an un-reformed and uncompromising Hellenic position, of an Origenistic and Platonic trend. It was not an immediate continuation of the Monophysite tradition. Yet, Monophysitism itself, as far as its theology was concerned, was a kind of Hellenism, and its roots go back to the early Alexandrian tradition, and therefore it could be easily amalgamated with Neoplatonism. The Iconodules, on the contrary, stood definitely for the "Historic Christianity." A particular topic was under discussion, but the major issues were at stake. This accounts for the bitterness and violence of the whole struggle. Not only the destiny of Christian Art .was at stake, but "Orthodoxy" itself. In any case, the struggle can be understood only in the perspective of an age-long Auseinandersetzung between Christianity and Hellenism. Both parties were "Hellenistically-minded." Yet there was a conflict between a Christian Hellenism and an Hellenized Christianity, or possibly between Orthodoxy and Syncretism.50

The only contention of this brief essay is to raise the question. More study will be required before an ultimate answer can be given.51

 

Notes.

1. K. N. Ouspensky, Sketches on Byzantine History, Part I, Moskow 1917 (Russian), p. 237 ff. Ouspensky's book on the history of the Iconoclasm, to which he refers, seems never to have been published.

2. Henri Gregoire, in Byzantium, edited by Norman H. Baynes and H. St. L. B. Moss (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1948), p. 105. All articles in this volume were written before the war.

3. E. J. Martin, A History of the Iconoclastic Controversy (London: S.P.C.K., s.d.), pp. 3-4.

4. Gregoire, Byzantium (1948), p. 105.

5. G. Ostrogorsky, Studien zur Geschichte des byzantinischen Bilderstreites, (Breslau, 1929) [Historische Untersuchungen, Hf. 5]; "Connection of the question of the Holy Icons with the Christological dogma," Seminarium Kondakovianum, I (1927); "Gnoseological presuppositions of the Byzantine controversy about the Holy Icons," Ibidem, II (1928) — both articles in Russian; "Les debuts de la Querelle des Images," Melanges Diehl, vol. I, Paris, 1930; G. Ladner, "Der Bilderstreit und die Kunstlehren der byzantinischen und abendlandischen Theologie," Zeitschrift fur die Kirchengeschichte, B. 50 (1931); "Origin and Significance of the Byzantine Iconoclastic Controversy," Mediaeval Studies, II (1940); P. Lucas Koch, "Zur Theologie der Christus-ikone," in "Benediktinische Monatschrift," Beuron, XIX (1937); 11/12; XX (1928), 1/2, 5/6, 7/8; "Christusbild-Kaiserbild," Ibidem, XXI (1939), 3/4.

6. A brief note on Andreev's unpublished work has been given in the Russian Historical Journal (probably by V. Beneshevich), VII (Petrograd, 1921), 215-218 (in Russian).

7. This is the title of an admirable booklet by Eric Peterson, Der Monotheismus als politisches Problem (1935).

8. Cf. Lucas Koch, Christusbild, etc. — The author uses extensively the book of Andre Grabar, L'Empereur dans l'art Byzantin (Paris, 1936).

9. The best presentation of the Orthodox theory of icons is in the articles of P. Lucas Koch.

10. See B. M. Melioransky, Georgij Kyprianin i loann Jerusalimskij, dva maloizviestnykh borza za pravoslavie v 8 vickie [два малоизвестных борца за православие в 8 веке] (St. Petersbourg, 1901); and Ostrogorsky, Studien.

11. Cf., e.g., A. Vasiliev, Histoire de I'Empire Byzantine (Paris: Picard, 1932), I, 379: "Quant au parti de la cour et an haut elerge', on peut dire que ces fonctionnaires du gouvernement et eveques n'obeirent pas pour la plupart aux ordres de leur conscience, mais qu'ils professerent les doctrines qui s'harmonisaient avec leurs crainte et leur ambitions." This view is widespread in the literature.

12. This point has been emphasized by H. Gregoire in his review of Ostrogorsky's "Studien," in Byzantion, IV, 765-771.

13. Cf. F. Vernet, "Juifs (Controverses avec les)," in D. T. C., VIII. 2, c. 1878 s.; and Sirarpie der Nersessian, "Une Apologie des images du septieme siecle," in Byzantion, XVII (1944-1945). See also J. B. Frey, "La question des images chez les Juifs," in Biblica, XV (1934).

14. It is a commonplace in the literature. See, in recent times, Christopher Dawson, The Making of Europe (London: Sheed & Ward, 1946 (1932), p. 136: "It has behind it, not the explicit doctrines of a theological school but the vague and formless spirit of an oriental sectarianism which rejected the whole system of Hellenic dogma." Cf. George Every, The Byzantine Patriarchate, 451-1204 (London: S.P.C.K., 1946), p. 105: "The Iconoclastic schisms of 730-86 and 815-43 were not the schisms between East and West, but between an Asiatic party at Constantinople and the Greek and Latin party in Greece, Italy and Rome."

15. Cf. Ostrogorsky, Melanges Diehl, p. 236: "Le role, joue' au debut de la querelle des images par le clerge iconoclaste d' Asie Mineure, tombe dans I' oublie dans les siecles suivants." See also Meliqransky, Georgij Kyprianin.

16. Cf. J. M. Sweetman, Islam and Christian Theology, P. I, v. I, (Lutterworth Press, London & Redhill, 1945), p. 63.: "One would rather see in this movement something parallel to Islam" etc.

17. Cf. Vasiliev, Histoire, 380.

18. Karl Schwartzlose, Der Bilderstreit (Gotha, 1890), pp. 77-78.

19. In any case Paulicians were invoked in vain, for it is most doubtful whether they had any iconoclastic tendencies, as much as would have agreed with their dualistic presuppositions. See Henri Gregoire, in Atti del V Congresso internazionale di Studi Bizantini (Roma, 1939), 177; and recently D. Obolensky, The Bogomils (Cambridge, 1949), p. 53.

20. See Karl Holl, ''Die Schrijten des Epiphanius gegen die Bilderverehrung" (1916), in his Gesammelte Aufsdtze zur Kirchengeschichte (Tubingen: Mohr, 1928), II, 351-387, and Ostrogorsky, Studien, 61 ff.

21. Holl, 387, n. I. "An der Echtheit des Briefes hat nur Befangenschaft zweifeln konnen. Sprache, Standpunkt, Auffassung stimmen ganz mit dem unangefochtenen Eusebius iiberein. Ware das Schreiben in einem spateren

Jahrhundert gefälscht, so müsste die dogmatische Begründung schärfer gefasst sein."

22. Excerpts from the Letter of Eusebius read at the Nicaenum II (787): Mansi, XIII, c. 314 or Harduin IV, 406; an enlarged text (following cod. Reg. 1980) was published by Boivin (Nie. Gregoras, Hist. Byz. XIX, 3, 4 (reprinted in Migne, S.Gr. CXLIX and in C. S. H. B., Bd. XIX. 2); Card. Pitra, Sptcilegium Solesmense, I, 383-386 (as cap. 9 of Nicephorus Antirrheticus contra Eusebium) ; see also inter opera Eusebii — Migne, S. Gr. XX, c. 1545-1549, and in Kirsch, Enchiridion, n. 471. Cf. Hugo Koch, Die alt christliche Bilderfrage nach den literarischen Quellen (Göttingen 1917; F.R.L.A.N.T., Neue Folge 10); W. Elliger, Die Stellung der alten Christen zu den Bildern in den ersten vier Jahrhunderten (Picker's Studien über Christliche Denkmäler, Hf. 20; Leipzig 1930).

23.See H. Berkhof, Die Theologie des Eusebius von Caesarea (Amsterdam, 1939).

24.The theology of St. Maximus was intensively discussed by scholars in recent years. The following studies should be listed: Hans Urs von Balthasar, Kosmische Liturgie. Maximus der Bekenner: Höhe und Krise des griechischen Weltbilds (1941; 2nd edition, revised and amplified, 196l); Polycarp Sherwood, O.S.B., The Earlier Ambigua of St. Maximus the Confessor, "Studia Anselmiana," fasc. XXXVI (Romae, 1955); Lars Thun-berg, Microcosm and Mediator. The Theological Anthropology of Maximus the Confessor (Lund, 1965); Walter Völker, Maximus Confessor als Meister des geistlichen Lebens (1965). The earlier monograph of S.L. Epifano-vich, St. Maximus the Confessor and Byzantine Theology (Kiev, 1915 [in Russian]) is still to be consulted.

25. Antirrheticus Liber adversus Eusebium et Epiphanidem by St. Nicephorus was published by Cardinal J.B. Pitra in his Specilegium Solesmense, Vol. I (1852), p. 371-504; Vol. IV (1858), p. 292-380. Unfortunately the major theological treatise of St. Nicephorus, Elenchos kai Anatrope, is still unpublished. Recent studies on St. Nicephorus: A.J. Visser, Nikephoros und der Bilderstreit (1952); PJ. Alexander, The Patriarch Nikephorus of Constantinople (1958).

26. Charles Bigg, The Christian Platonists of Alexandria (2nd revised edition, Oxford, 1913), p. 254.

27. Origen, Commentary in Joannem, I. 9 and 10, Migne PG, XIV, c. 35-40. Origen sharply distinguishes and contrasts the somatic (or "historical") Gospel and the spiritual (and "eternal"). Before His bodily coming Christ was already appearing to the advanced or "perfect" individuals under the Old Dispensation, like Moses and prophets, to whom His glory was revealed, in an intellectual (or "noetic") manner. Comparing, or rather contrasting, the two Dispensations, Origen uses the same term epidemia: a visit or appearance, coming among people, and a sojourn. Thus the noetic vision is put on the same level as historic encounter, and, in fact, much higher. Cf. II. 3, c. 113: The prophets, like Isaiah, Hosea, Jeremiah, encountered the Logos. The majority of Christians, however, do not know but Christ, and Him crucified, "considering that the Word made flesh is the whole Word, and knowing only Christ after the flesh." On many occasions Origen used the terms Logos and Christ as synonyms.

28. In Joannem, VI. 2, Migne, PG, XIV, c. 201 ss. Cf. I. 23, c. 60: "And happy indeed are those who in their need for the Son of God have yet become such persons as not to need Him in his character as a physician healing the sick, nor in that of a shepherd, nor in that of redemption, but only in His character as Wisdom, as the Word and righteousness, or if there be any other title suitable for those who are so perfect as to receive Him in His fairest characters."

29. Contra Celsum, II. 69: "The truth of the events recorded to have happened to Jesus cannot be seen fully in the mere text and historical narrative, for each event to those who read the Bible more intelligently is clearly a symbol of something as well." In fact Origen was prepared to go much further. There are in the Scriptures obvious contradictions and certain historical statements cannot be historically true. Yet, "the spiritual truth was often preserved, as one might say in the material falsehood." Origen would not condemn the writers, "if they even sometimes dealt freely with things which to the eye of history happened differently, and changed them so as to subserve the mystical aims they had in view." "Spiritual" must be put above "material." Cf. In Joannem, X. 3 and 4, Migne PG, XIV, c. 312-313. Ultimately the Bible was for Origen not so much a book of Sacred History, as an enormous Allegory to be understood by intuition.

30. " Joannem, XIX. I, Migne PG XIX, c. 524 ss.

31. Contra Celsum, III. 41: "We affirm that his mortal body and the human soul in him received the greatest elevation not only by communion but by union and intermingling, so that by sharing in his divinity he was transformed into God" and his body acquired "an ethereal and divine quality."

32. Contra Celsum, II. 64; Commentary in Mattheum, XII. 30 and 36, Migne PG, XII, c. 1050 and 1066.

33. Contra Celsum, VI. 77; cf. IV. 16 and 18.

34. St. Maximus, Capita theologica, II. 13, MPG, XC, c. 1129-1132.

35. Contra Celsum, I. 33: "Why then should there not be a certain soul that takes a body which is entirely miraculous," or paradoxical?

36. Contra Celsum, II. 9; cf. In Joannem, XXXII. 17, MPG, XIV, c. 812-818.

37. Commentaria in epistolam ad Romanos, I. 7, MPG, XIV, c. 852.

38. In Jeremiam homilia XV. 6, MPG, XII, c. 436-437.

39. In Lucam homilia XXIX, MPG, XIII, c. 1876: qui tune homo fuit, nunc autem esse cessavit.

40. See especially C. Cels. VIII. 17 and 18: "in all those, then, who plant and cultivate within their souls, according to the divine word, temperance, justice, wisdom, piety, and other virtues, these excellences are the statues they raise, in which we are persuaded that it is becoming for us to honour the model and the prototype of all statues: 'the image of the invisible God.' God the Only-begotten . . . And everyone who imitates Him according to his ability, does by this very endeavour raise a statue according to the image of the Creator, for in the contemplation of God with a pure heart they become imitators of Him. And in general, we see that all Christians strive to raise altars and statues as we have described them, and these not of a lifeless and senseless kind," etc.; cf. VII. 66: "All those who look at the evil productions of painters and sculptors and imagemakers sit in darkness and are settled in it, since they do not wish to look up and ascend in their mind from all visible and sensible things to the Creator of all who is Light." See Elliger, op. cit., s. II ff. and Hugo Koch, op. cit., p. 19 ff.

41. St. John of Damascus, De imaginibus, III.

42. The Acts of the Iconoclastic conciliabulum of 753 were read at the Nicene Ecumenical Council of 787, Mansi, vol. XII, c. 276.

43. "La Querelle des Images," in Fliche-Martin, Histoire de l'Eglise, vol. V (Paris 1947).

44. The horos of the Nicaenum II in Mansi t v. XIII, c. 373 ss.

45. Ralle and Potle, Syntagma ton theion kai hieron Canonon, vol. II (Athens), pp. 492-495.

46. Porphyrios, Vita Plotini, I.

47. Plotinus, Enneades, V, 8. 8.

48. Enneades, II. 9- 11.

49Acta Joannis, chapters 26-29, Bonnet, Acta Apostolorum Apocrypha, ILI (Leipzig 1898, reprinted in 1959); English translation in The Apocryphal New Testament, edited by M. R. James (Oxford, 1924). The document is not later than the middle 2nd century. The Acta were quoted at the iconoclastic conciliabulum of 753: Mansi, XIII, c. 168 ss. Patriarch Photius refers to the use of the document by the iconoclasts, Bibliotheca, CIV.

50. Cf. the stimulating book of Endra Ivanka, Hellenisches und Christliches im Frühbyzantinischen Geistesleben (Wien, 1948). On Iconoclasm see p. 105 ff.

51. Origen is still a controversial figure. It was beyond the purpose of this essay to give a comprehensive picture of his theological thought. The only point which it was intended to make was to suggest that certain aspects of his thought could have influenced the growth and formulation of the iconoclastic position. The texts of Origen quoted in this paper were selected for this purpose. The findings of this paper were supported by Professor P.J. Alexander in his article: The Iconoclastic Council of St. Sophia (815) and its definition (Horos), in "Dumbarton Oaks Papers," VII, p. 37-66.

 

 

 

 

 

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