Info

between Miaphysites and Dyophysites.101 In 548, Pope Vigilius also wrote a Judgment against the Three Chapters. But these condemnations were not well received: a plethora of Western bishops vigorously rejected Vigilius' opinion. Vigilius reversed his position and even excommunicated the bishops in the imperial party who held to the condemnations. Justinian eventually abandoned the denunciation of the 'Three Chapters' in 551. His intention had been to promote ecumenical unity, and the document was counter-productive.

The council

Tensions between the emperor and the pope were fraught even in planning the council. Pope Vigilius had wanted the council to take place in Italy or Sicily, but Justinian determined to hold it in Constantinople. Vigilius decided not to attend since most of the bishops would be from the East. Indeed, although Justinian invited equal representation from Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem, the West was underrepresented among the bishops at the council. The most significant Western delegation consisted in eight representatives from Roman North Africa.

The heavy representation of Eastern sees was consistent with the urgent necessity to restore good relations between the capital and Egypt. Justinian needed to mollify the Egyptians because Egypt had long supplied most of the empire's grain. If confrontations worsened, the ecclesiastical or civil leaders, or indeed the people at large, could threaten to disrupt the food supply, which would have disastrous consequences for the entire empire. The possibility was ominously real, because many Egyptians regarded the decision of Chalcedon as blasphemy.102 They worried that Nestorius' supporters could mouth the confession while holding to their views of 'two natures after the union'. That hypothetical situation aside, Egyptians believed that an active human nature in Jesus Christ (along the lines propagated in Nestorian doctrine) would destroy the united person of Christ.

On the other side ofthe debate, Pope Vigilius would not brook any insistence on only one divine nature in Jesus Christ. He held Miaphysite doctrine to be heretical and demanded that Chalcedon (451) be recognised as the touchstone of orthodoxy. A mere nine days after the council opened, he published his Constitution, a document that nullified and superseded his Judgment of 548. Vigilius' Constitution enumerated sixty propositions of Theodore that were false, but the pope declined to anathematise him personally because Ephesus

101 Gray, 'The legacy ofChalcedon'.

102 O. Mazal, Justinian I. und seine Zeit.

0 0

Post a comment