The continuation of the Christological controversy

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So long as Cyril of Alexandria and John of Antioch lived, the peace which had been effected between the theologies which they represented was fairly well preserved. However, that peace proved to be only a truce. After death had removed them from the scene the struggle broke out with renewed fury. Here were two tendencies which could scarcely be reconciled. The one, represented by the scholarship which had been strong at Antioch, stressed the historical study of the Gospel records of the life of Jesus and hence made much of his humanity. The other, with its traditional centre at Alexandria, interpreted the Scriptures allegorically, minimized the historical and therefore the human side of Christ, and gave great weight to the divine in him. It was in part an outgrowth of the position of Athanasius and had been carried further by Cyril, even though the latter had anathematized its extension in the form represented by Apollinaris. As we have suggested, the tension was heightened by rivalries between the great sees of the Orient, especially between Alexandria and the New Rome at Constantinople, for from the standpoint of the former the latter was an upstart. Moreover, Constantinople made itself conveniently obnoxious by drawing a large proportion of its bishops from men trained in the An-tiochene tradition.

In 444 Cyril was succeeded at Alexandria by Dioscurus, a man fully as zealous as himself for the prestige and theology of his see and who went beyond Cyril in emphasizing the divine nature in Christ. In 446 Flavian, whose sympathies seem to have been with Antioch, was placed in the bishop's chair in Constantinople. Conflict soon arose over a monk of Constantinople, Eutyches. Eutyches denounced as Nestorian the creed of 433 in which John of Antioch and Cyril had reached agreement and declared that before the union (the incarnation) there were the two natures, divine and human, but that after the union (the incarnation) the two so blended that there was only one nature, and that was fully divine. In other words, Jesus Christ was homoousion with the Father but not with man. Eutyches was denounced at a synod in Constantinople in 448 over which Flavian presided, was excommunicated as a reviler of Christ, and was deposed from every priestly office. Eutyches presented his case to the Emperor and to a number of bishops, including the Bishop of Rome. Flavian also wrote to fellow bishops, as was the custom in the Catholic Church, among others to the Bishop of Rome.

The Bishop of Rome was one of the ablest men who have ever sat on the throne of Peter, Leo I, "the Great." Leo supported Flavian and sent him a long letter, known as the Tome, in which he set forth the view which had been generally held in the West and which had been clearly stated by Tertullian years before, that in Christ Jesus there was neither manhood without true Godhead nor the Godhead without true manhood, that in Christ two full and complete natures came together in one person, "without detracting from the properties of either nature and substance."

Dioscurus sided with Eutyches. The Emperor called a council of the whole Church to deal with the issue. The council convened at Ephesus in 449. Dioscurus presided and was dominant. Leo was not present but was represented by two legates. His Tome was denied a reading. The gathering professed allegiance to the creed of Nic^a, by a large majority declared Eutyches exonerated, and deposed Flavian and some of his supporters. Dioscurus excommunicated Leo and appointed an Alexandrian priest in his stead. It is not strange that in circles loyal to Rome the council was dubbed "the robber synod."

Leo was not to be so easily thwarted. He sought to have another council called, and in Italy. In 451 a council was indeed summoned by the Emperor, but it met, not in Italy, but at Chalcedon, immediately across the Bosporus from Constantinople, and was later known as the Fourth Ecumenical Council. About six hundred bishops were present, more than had previously come together at any one gathering, almost all of them from the East. Leo did not come, but was represented by legates. The latter were given the first place in the roll-calls. The imperial commissioners presided. Dioscurus was present, but was clearly out of favour. The Tome of Leo was approved and a creed was adopted which incorporated its views. The heart of it read:

Following the holy fathers we all, with one voice, define that there is to be confessed one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, perfect in Godhead and perfect in manhood, truly God and truly man, of rational soul and body, of the same substance [homoousion] with the Father according to the Godhead, and of the same substance [homoousion] with us according to the manhood, like to us in all respects, without sin, begotten of the Father before all time according to the Godhead, in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the Virgin Mary, the

Mother of God [Theotokos] according to the manhood, one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, in two natures, inconfusedly, immutably, indivisibly, inseparatety, the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the peculiarity of each nature being preserved and concurring in one person [prosopon] and one substance [hypostasis], not parted or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son and Only-begotten, divine word [Theon Logon], the Lord Jesus Christ; as from the beginning the prophets declared concerning him, and the Lord Jesus Christ has taught us, and the creed of the holy fathers has transmitted to us.

It will be seen that in this the distinctive views of Apollinaris, Eutyches, and those ascribed to Nestorius are condemned.

Fl avian, now dead, was exonerated, Eutyches was denounced as a heretic, and Dioscurus was deposed and excommunicated.

In other legislation of the council, various regulations or canons were enacted, for the administration of the Church. Moreover, the Bishop of Constantinople was placed second in precedence to the Bishop of Rome, thus promoting his see above the more ancient ones of Antioch, Alexandria, and Jerusalem.

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