(434 A.D. onwards)
Eutychianism and Monophysitism are usually identified as a single heresy. But as some Monophysites condemned Eutyches, the name Eutychians is given by some writers only to those in Armenia. It seems best to use the words indifferently, as no party of the sect looked to Eutychius as a founder or a leader and Eutychian is but a nickname for all those who, like Eutyches, rejected the orthodox expression “two natures” of Christ. The tenet “one nature” was common to all Monophysites and Eutychians, and they affected to call Catholics Diphysites or Dyophysites. The error took its rise in a reaction against Nestorianism, which taught that in Christ there is a human hypostasis or person as well as a Divine. This was interpreted to imply a want of reality in the union of the Word with the assumed Humanity, and even to result in two Christs, two Sons, though this was far from the intention of Nestorius himself in giving his incorrect explanation of the union. He was ready to admit one prósopon, but not one hypostasis, a “prosopic” union, though not a “hypostatic” union, which is the Catholic expression. He so far exaggerated the distinction of the Humanity from the Divine Person Who assumed it, that he denied that the Blessed Virgin could be called Mother of God, Theotókos. His views were for a time interpreted in a benign sense by Theodoret, and also by John, Bishop of Antioch, but they all eventually concurred in his condemnation, when he showed his heretical spirit by refusing all submission and explanation. His great antagonist, St. Cyril of Alexandria, was at first vehemently attacked by Theodoret, John, and their party, as denying the completeness of the Sacred Humanity after the manner of the heretic Apollinarius.
The fiery Cyril curbed his natural impetuosity; mutual explanations followed; and in 434, three years after the Council of Ephesus which had condemned Nestorius, peace was made between Alexandria and Antioch. Cyril proclaimed it in a letter to John beginning Lætentur cœli, in which he clearly condemned beforehand the Monothelite, if not the Monophysite, views, which were to be unfortunately based on certain ambiguities in his earlier expressions. If he did not arrive quite at the exactness of the language in which St. Leo was soon to formulate the doctrine of the Church, yet the following words, drawn up by the Antiochian party and fully accepted by Cyril in his letter, are clear enough:
Before the worlds begotten of the Father according to the Godhead, but in the last days and for our salvation of the Virgin Mary according to the Manhood; consubstantial with the Father in the Godhead, consubstantial with us in the Manhood; for a union of two natures took place, wherefore we confess one Christ, one Son, one Lord. According to the understanding of this unconfused union, we confess the Blessed Virgin to be Theotokos, because the Word of God was incarnate and made man, and through her conception united to Himself the temple He received from her. And we are aware that the words of the Gospels, and of the Apostles, concerning the Lord are, by theologians, looked upon some as applying in common [to the two natures] as belonging to the one Person; others as attributed to one of the two natures; and that they tell us by tradition that some are of divine import, to suit the Divinity of Christ, others of humble nature belonging to His humanity.
In this “creed of the union” between John and Cyril, it is at least implied that the two natures remain after the union (against Monophysitism), and it is quite clearly enunciated that some expressions belong to the Person, others to each of the Natures, as, e. g. it was later defined that activities (’enérgeiai) and will are of the Natures (against Monothelites), while Sonship (against the Adoptionists), is of the Person. There is no doubt that Cyril would have understood rightly and have accepted (even apart from papal authority) the famous words of St. Leo’s tome: “Agit enim ultraque forma cum alterius communione quod proprium est” (Ep. xxviii, 4). The famous formula of St. Cyril mía phúsis toû Theoû Lógou sesarkoméne, “one nature incarnate of God the Word” (or “of the Word of God”), derived from a treatise which Cyril believed to be by St. Athanasius, the greatest of his predecessors, was intended by him in a right sense, and has been formally adopted by the Church. In the eighth canon of the Fifth General Council, those are anathematized who say “one Nature incarnate of God the Word”, unless they “accept it as the Fathers taught, that by a hypostatic union of the Divine nature and the human, one Christ was effected”. In the Lateran Council of 649, we find: “Si quis secundum sanctos Patres non confitetur proprie et secundum veritatem unam naturam Dei verbi incarnatum … anathema sit.” Nevertheless this formula, frequently used by Cyril (in Epp. i, ii, Ad Successum; Contra Nest. ii; Ad eulogium, etc.; see Petavius “De Incarn.”, IV, 6), was the starting point of the Monophysites, some of whom understood it rightly, whereas others pushed it into a denial of the reality of the human nature, while all equally used it as a proof that the formula “two natures” must be rejected as heretical, and therefore also the letter of St. Leo and the decree of Chalcedon. The word phúsis was ambiguous. Just as the earlier writings of Theodoret against Cyril contained passages which naturally permitted a Nestorian interpretation–they were in this sense condemned by the Fifth General Council–so the earlier writings of Cyril against Nestorius gave colour to the charge of Apollinarianism brought against him by Theodoret, John, Ibas, and their party. The word phúsis produced just the same difficulties that the word ‘upóstasis had aroused in the preceeding century. For ‘upóstasis, as St. Jerome rightly declared, was the equivalent of ousía in the mouths of all philosophers, yet it was eventually used theologically, from Didymus onwards, as the equivalent of the Latin persona, that is, a subsistent essence. Similarly phúsis was an especially Alexandrian word for ousía and ‘upóstasis, and was naturally used of a subsistent ousía, not of abstract ousía, both by Cyril often (as in the formula in question), and by the more moderate Monophysites. The Cyrillian formula, in its genesis and in its rationale, has been explained by Newman in an essay of astounding learning and perfect clearness (Tracts Theol. and Eccl., iv, 1874). He points out that the word ‘upóstasis could be used (by St. Athanasius, for example), without change of meaning, both of the one Godhead, and of the three Persons. In the former case it did not mean the Divine Essence in the abstract, but considered as subsistent, without defining whether that subsistence is threefold or single, just as we say “one God” in the concrete, without denying a triple Personality. Just the same twofold use without change of meaning might be made of the words ousía, eîdos, and phúsis. Again, phúsis was not applied, as a rule, in the fourth century, to the Humanity of Christ, because that Humanity is not “natural” in the sense of “wholly like to our nature”, since it is sinless, and free from all the imperfections which arise from original sin (not pura natura but integra natura), it has no human personality of its own, and it is ineffably graced and glorified by its union with the Word. From this point of view it is clear that Christ is not so fully “consubstantial with us” as He is “consubstantial with the Father”. Yet again, in these two phrases the word consubstantial appears in different senses; for the Father and the Son have one substance numero, whereas the Incarnate Son is of one substance with us specie (not numero, of course). It is therefore not to be wondered at, if the expression “consubstantial with us” was avoided in the fourth century. In like manner the word phúsis has its full meaning when applied to the Divine Nature of Christ, but a restricted meaning (as has been just explained) when applied to His Human Nature. In St. Cyril’s use of the formula its signification is plain. “It means”, says Newman (loc. cit., p. 316):
Thus St. Cyril intended to safeguard the teaching of the Council of Antioch (against Paul of Samosata, 264-72) that the Word is unchanged by the Incarnation, “that He is ‘én kaì tò a’utò tê o’usía from first to last, on earth and in heaven” (p. 317). He intended by his one nature of God, “with the council of Antioch, a protest against that unalterableness and imperfection, which the anti-Catholic schools affixed to their notion of the Word. The council says ‘one and the same in usia’; it is not speaking of a human usia in Christ, but of the divine. The case is the same in Cyril’s Formula; he speaks of a mía theía phúsis in the Word. He has in like manner written a treatise entitled ‘quod unus sit Christus’; and, in one of his Paschal Epistles, he enlarges on the text ‘Jesus Christ, yesterday, and to-day, the same, and for ever.’ His great theme in these words is not the coalescing of the two natures into one, but the error of making two sons, one before and one upon the Incarnation, one divine, one human, or again of degrading the divine usia by making it subject to the humanity” (pp. 321-2). It has been necessary thus to explain at length St. Cyril’s meaning in order to be able to enumerate the more briefly and clearly, the various phases of the Eutychian doctrine.
Of the origin of Eutychianism among the Cyrillian party a few words were said above. The controversy between Cyril and Theodoret was revived with violence in the attacks made in 444-8, after Cyril’s death, by his party on Irenæus of Tyre, Ibas of Edessa, and others. The trial of Eutyches, by St. Flavian at Constantinople, brought matters to a head. Theodosius II convened an œcumenical council at Ephesus, in 449, over which Dioscurus, the real founder of Monophysitism as a sect, presided. St. Leo had already condemned the teaching of one nature in his letter to Flavian called the tome, a masterpiece of exact terminology, unsurpassed for clearness of thought, which condemns Nestorius on the one hand, and Eutyches on the other. After the council had acquitted Eutyches, St. Leo insisted on the signing of this letter by the Eastern bishops, especially by those who had taken part in the disgraceful scenes at Ephesus. In 451, six hundred bishops assembled at Chalcedon, under the presidency of the papal legates. The pope’s view was assured of success before-hand by the support of the new Emperor Marcian. Dioscurus of Alexandria was deposed. The tome was acclaimed by all, save by thirteen out of the seventeen Egyptian bishops present, for these declared their lives would not be safe, if they returned to Egypt after signing, unless a new patriarch had been appointed. The real difficulty lay in drawing up a definition of faith. There was now no Patriarch of Alexandria; those of Antioch and Constantinople had been nominees of Dioscurus, though they had now accepted the tome; Juvenal of Jerusalem had been one of the leaders of the Robber Council, but like the rest had submitted to St. Leo. It is consequently not surprising that the committee, appointed to draw up a definition of faith, produced a colourless document (no longer extant), using the words ’ek dúo phúseon, which Dioscurus and Eutyches might have signed without difficulty. It was excitedly applauded in the fifth session of the council, but the papal legates, supported by the imperial commissioners, would not agree to it, and declared they would break up the council and return to Italy, if it were pressed. The few bishops who stood by the legates were of the Antiochian party and suspected of Nestorianism by many. The emperor’s personal intervention was invoked. It was demonstrated to the bishops that to refuse to assert “two natures” (not merely “of” two) was to agree with Dioscurus and not with the pope, and they yielded with a very bad grace. They had accepted the pope’s letter with enthusiasm, and they had deposed Dioscurus, not indeed for heresy (as Austolius of Constantinople had the courage, or the impudence, to point out), but for violation of the canons. To side with him meant punishment. The result was the drawing up by a new committee of the famous Chalcedonian definition of faith. It condemns Monophysitism in the following words: “Following the holy Fathers, we acknowledge one and the same Son, one Lord Jesus Christ; and in accordance with this we all teach that He is perfect in Godhead, perfect also in Manhood, truly God and truly Man, of a rational soul and body, consubstantial with His Father as regards his Godhead, and consubstantial with us as regards His Manhood, in all things like unto us save for sin; begotten of His Father before the worlds as to His Godhead, and in the last days for us and for our salvation [born] of Mary the Virgin Theotokos as to His Manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, made known as in two natures [the Greek text now has ‘of two natures’, but the history of the definition shows that the Latin ‘in’ is correct] without confusion or change, indivisibly, inseparably [’en dúo phúsesin ’asugchútos, ’atréptos, ’adiairétos, ’achorístos gnorizómenon]; the distinction of the two natures being in no wise removed by the union, but the properties of each nature being rather preserved and concurring in one Person and one Hypostasis, not as divided or separated into two Persons, but one and the same Son and Only-begotten, God the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ; even as the Prophets taught aforetime about Him, and as the Lord Jesus Christ Himself taught us, and as the symbol of the Fathers has handed down to us.” So Monophysitism was exorcised; but the unwillingness of the larger number of the six hundred Fathers to make so definite a declaration is important. “The historical account of the Council is this, that a doctrine which the Creed did not declare, which the Fathers did not unanimously witness, and which some eminent Saints had almost in set terms opposed, which the whole East refused as a symbol, not once, but twice, patriarch by patriarch, metropolitan by metropolitan, first by the mouth of above a hundred, then by the mouth of above six hundred of its bishops, and refused upon the grounds of its being an addition to the Creed, was forced upon the Council, not indeed as a Creed, yet, on the other hand, not for subscription merely, but for its acceptance as a definition of faith under the sanction of an anathema, forced on the Council by the resolution of the Pope of the day, acting through his Legates and supported by the civil power” (Newman, “Development”, v, §3, 1st ed., p. 307). Theodosius issued edicts against the Eutychians, in March and July, 452, forbidding them to have priests, or assemblies, to make wills or inherit property, or to do military service. Priests who were obstinate in error were to be banished beyond the limits of the empire. Troubles began almost immediately the council was over. A monk named Theodosius, who had been punished at Alexandria for blaming Dioscurus, now on the contrary opposed the decision of the council, and going to Palestine persuaded the many thousands of monks there that the council had taught plain Nestorianism. They made a raid upon Jerusalem and drove out Juvenal, the bishop, who would not renounce the Chalcedonian definition, although he had been before one of the heads of the Robber Council. Houses were set on fire, and some of the orthodox were slain. Theodosius made himself bishop, and throughout Palestine the bishops were expelled and new ones set up. The Bishop of Scythopolis lost his life; violence and riots were the order of the day. Eudocia, widow of the Emperor Theodosius II, had retired to Palestine, and gave some support to the insurgent monks. Marcian and Pulcheria took mild measures to restore peace, and sent repeated letters in which the real character of the decrees of Chalcedon was carefully explained. St. Euthymius and his community were almost the only monks who upheld the council, but this influence, together with a long letter from St. Leo to the excited monks, had no doubt great weight in obtaining peace. In 453, large numbers acknowledged their error, when Theodosius was driven out and took refuge on Mount Sinai, after a tyranny of twenty months. Others held out on the ground that it was uncertain whether the pope had ratified the council. It was true that he had annulled its disciplinary canons. The emperor therefore wrote to St. Leo asking for an explicit confirmation, which the pope sent at once, at the same time thanking Marcian for his acquiescence in the condemnation of the twenty-eighth canon, as to the precedence of the See of Constantinople, and for repressing the religious riots in Palestine.
In Egypt the results of the council were far more serious, for nearly the whole patriarchate eventually sided with Dioscurus, and has remained in heresy to the present day. Out of seventeen bishops who represented, at Chalcedon, the hundred Egyptian bishops, only four had the courage to sign the decree. These four returned to Alexandria, and peacably ordained the archdeacon, Proterius, a man of good character and venerable by his age, in the place of Dioscurus. But the deposed patriarch was popular, and the thirteen bishops, who had been allowed to defer signing the tome of St. Leo, misrepresented the teaching of the council as contrary to that of Cyril. A riot was the result. The soldiers who attempted to quell it were driven into the ancient temple of Serapis, which was now a church, and it was burnt over their heads. Marcian retaliated by depriving the city of the usual largess of corn, of public shows, and of privileges. Two thousand soldiers reinforced the garrison, and committed scandalous violence. The people were obliged to submit, but the patriarch was safe only under military protection. Schism began through the retirement from his communion of the priest Timothy, called Ælurus, “the cat”, and Peter, called Mongus, “the hoarse”, a deacon, and these were joined by four or five bishops. When the death of Dioscurus (September, 454) in exile at Gangra was known, two bishops consecrated Timothy Ælurus as his successor. Henceforward almost the whole of Egypt acknowledged the Monophysite patriarch. On the arrival of the news of the death of Marcian (February, 457), Proterius was murdered in a riot, and Catholic bishops were everywhere replaced by Monophysites. The new emperor, Leo, put down force by force, but Ælurus was protected by his minister Aspar. Leo wished for a council, but gave way before the objections made by the pope his namesake, and the difficulties of assembling so many bishops. He therefore sent queries throughout the Eastern Empire to be answered by the bishops, as to the veneration due to the Council of Chalcedon and as to the ordination and the conduct of Ælurus. As only Catholic bishops were consulted, the replies were unanimous. One or two of the provincial councils, in expressing their indignation against Timothy, add the proviso “if the reports are accurate”, and the bishops of Pamphylia point out that the decree of Chalcedon is not a creed for the people, but a test for bishops. The letters, still preserved (in Latin only) under the name of Encyclia, or Codex Encyclius, bear the signatures of about 260 bishops, but Nicephorus Callistus says, that there were altogether more than a thousand, while Eulogius, Patriarch of Alexandria in the days of St. Gregory the Great, puts the number at 1600. He says that only one bishop, the aged Amphilochius of Side, dissented from the rest, but he soon changed his mind (quoted by Photius, Bibl., CCXXX, p. 283). This tremendous body of testimonies to the Council of Chalcedon is little remembered to-day, but in controvresies with the Monophysites it was in those times of equal importance with the council itself, as its solemn ratification.
In the following year Ælurus was exiled, but was recalled in 475 during the short reign of the Monophysite usurper Basiliscus. The Emperor Zeno spared Ælurus from further punishment on account of his great age. That emperor tried to reconcile the Monophysites by means of his Henoticon, a decree which dropped the Council of Chalcedon. It could, however, please neither side, and the middle party which adhered to it and formed the official Church of the East was excommunicated by the popes. At Alexandria, the Monophysites were united to the schismatic Church of Zeno by Peter Mongus who became patriarch. But the stricter Monophysites seceded from him and formed a sect known as Acephali. At Antioch Peter Fullo also supported the Henoticon. A schism between East and West lasted through the reigns of Zeno and his more definitely Monophysite successor Anastasius, in spite of the efforts of the popes, especially the great St. Gelasius. In 518, the orthodox Justin came to the throne, and reunion was consummated in the following year by him, with the active co-operation of his more famous nephew Justinian, to the great joy of the whole East. Pope Hormisdas sent legates to reconcile the patriarchs and metropolitans, and every bishop was forced to sign, without alteration, a petition in which he accepted the faith which had always been preserved at Rome, and condemned not only the leaders of the Eutychian heresy, but also Zeno’s time-serving bishops of Constantinople, Acacius and his successors. Few of the Eastern bishops seem to have been otherwise than orthodox and anxious for reunion, and they were not obliged to omit from the diptychs of their churches the names of their predecessors, who had unwillingly been cut off from actual communion with Rome, in the reigns of Zeno and Anastasius. The famous Monophysite writer Severus was now deposed from the See of Antioch. Justinian, during his long reign, took the Catholic side, but his empress, Theodora, was a Monophysite, and in his old age the emperor leaned in the same direction. We still posses the acts of a conference, between six Severian and seven orthodox bishops, held by his order in 533. The great controversy of his reign was the dispute about the “three chapters”, extracts from the writings of Theodore of Mopsuestia, Theodoret, and Ibas, which Justinian wished to get condemned in order to conciliate the Severians and other moderate Monophysites. He succeeded in driving Pope Vigilius into the acceptance of the Second Council of Constantinople, which he had summoned for the purpose of giving effect to his view. The West disapproved of this condemnation as derogatory to the Council of Chalcedon, and Africa and Illyricum refused for some time to receive the council.The divisions among the heretics have been mentioned above. A great revival and unification was effected by the great man of the sect, the famous Jacob Baradai, Bishop of Edssa (c. 541-78). (See BARADÆUS .) In his earlier years a recluse in his monastery, when a bishop he spent his life traveling in a beggar’s garb, ordaining bishops and priests everywhere in Mesopotamia, Syria, Asia Minor, in order to repair the spiritual ruin caused among the Monophysites by Justinian’s renewal of the original laws against their bishops and priests. John of Ephesus puts the number of clergy he ordained at 100,000, others at 80,000. His journeys were incredibly swift. He was believed to have the gift of miracles, and at least he performed the miracle of infusing a new life into the dry bones of his sect, though he was unable to unite them against the “Synodites” (as they called the orthodox), and he died worn out by the quarrels among the Monophysite patriarchs and theologians. He has deserved to give his name to the Monophysites of Syria, Mesopotamia, and Babylonia, with Asia Minor, Palestine, and Cyprus, who have remained since his time generally united under a Patriarch of Antioch (see Eastern Churches, A. Schismatical Churches, 5. Jacobites). A number of these united in 1646 with the Catholic Church, and they are governed by the Syrian Archbishop of Aleppo. The rest of the Monophysites are also frequently called Jacobites. For the Coptic Monophysites see EGYPT, and for the Armenians see ARMENIA. The Armenian Monophysite Patriarch resides at Constantinople. The Abyssinian Church was drawn into the same heresy through its close connexion with Alexandria. At least since the Mohammedan conquest of Egypt, in 641, the Abuna of the Abyssinians has always been consecrated by the Coptic Patriarch of Alexandria, so that the Abyssinian Church has always been, and is still, nominally Monophysite.
The chief materials for the general history
of the Eutychians will be found in the Collections of the Councils
by MANSI, HARDOUIN, or LABBE, that is to say the councils, letters of
popes, and other documents. To these must be added the historians EVAGRIUS,
THEOPHANES, etc., and the Monophysite historians JOHN OF EPHESUS, and
ZACHARIAS RHETOR (both in LAND’s Anecdota Syriaca, II-III, Leyden,
1879), a German translation of the latter by AHRENS and KRÜGER (Leipzig,
1899) and an English one by HAMILTON and BROOKS (London, 1889). The works
of FACUNDUS, the Breviarium of LIBERATUS, and information imparted
by PHOTIUS are valuable. Of modern authorities, the larger and smaller
histories are innumerable, e. g. BARONIUS, FLEURY, GIBBON, HEFELE, and
(for the early period) TILLEMONT, XV; also the biographical articles in
such large works as CAVE, Biogr. Litt. FABRICIUS; the Kirchenlexikon;
HERZOG, Realencykl.; and Dict. Ch. Biog.; ASSEMANI, Bibl.
Orient., II; WALCH, Ketzergeschichte (Leipzig, 1762-85),
VI-VIII; for detailed biographies see the articles referred to above.
On the works of Timothy Ælurus, CRUM, Eusebius and Coptic Ch. Hist., in Proc. of Soc. of Bibl. Archæol. (London, 1902), XXIV; LEBON, La Christologie de Timothée Ælure in Revue d’Hist. Eccl. (Oct., 1908), IX, 4; on Severus of Antioch, KUGENER, Vies de Sचvère par Zaccharie le Rhéteur, et par Jean de Beith Apthonia in Patrol. Orient. II (Paris, 1907); DUVAL, Les homélies cathédrale de Sévère, trad. syr. de Jacques d’Edesse in Patrol. Orient.; BROOKS, Sixth book of the select letters of Severus in the Syrian version of Athan. of Nisib. (Text and Transl. Soc., London, 1904), besides the fragments published by MAI, etc.; on Julian see LOOFS, loc. cit.; USENER in Rhein. Mus. für Phil. (N. S., LV, 1900); the letters of Peter Mongus and Acacius publ. by REVILLOUT (Rev. des Qu. hist., XXII, 1877, a French transl.) and by AMÉLINEAU (Monum. pour servir à l’hist. de l’Egypte chr. aux IVe et Ve siècles, Paris, 1888) are spurious; DUVAL, Litt. Syriaque (Paris, 1900), 2nd ed.
Compiled by John Chapman
Arianism - through the centuries
Arius’ doctrines have been reinforced by numerous attempts by other Theologians’, Bishops’ and an Archbishop’s attempts to argue along similar grounds resulting the heresies of Apollinarianism (Apollinarius: c310 - c390), Nestorianism (428 A.D. - 14th Century), Monophysitism (451 A.D., 6th century onwards, see also Eutychianism), Monothelitism (681 A.D. onwards) and most recently in 18th century Britain when there was a strong Arian movement especially within the Church of England; its leading exponents, William Whiston and Samuel Clarke, were among the prominent scientists of the day and disciples of Sir Isaac Newton in both their scientific and their theological views. Accepting scripture as embodying divinely give truth, but interpreting it not so mush with the aid of tradition as with that of the reason, characteristic of the emerging scientific age, they found themselves impelled in a broadly Arian direction.
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