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Apocalypse) was issued at about the same date by the Council of Laodicea.16 Other decrees forbid priests to lend at interest and the laity to marry their kin or share a meal with heretics. Our knowledge of these events comes from the digests of conciliar legislation that the church of the late fourth century compiled in imitation of the jurists. Not every local canon became an ecumenical law, for to endorse the canons was to endorse the president, while conversely any weakness in his position marred the authority of the council. Thus Flavian of Antioch (381-404) may have hoped to confirm his title as a bishop by condemning the 'Messalians', a name given to contemplatives whose pursuit of God through imageless prayer was thought to bespeak a low esteem for the sacraments and other ministrations of the clergy. Yet Photius attaches less weight to his synod than to the trial of the Messalians in 388 at Side, where they were outflanked by Amphilochius of Iconium;17 perhaps it was only in 431 at Ephesus that they sustained an irreversible defeat.18

When the Homoousian party triumphed in 379 and 381 it was no doubt partly because the world was weary, partly because emperors Theodosius and Gratian were of one mind, but above all because the policies of these emperors had been shaped by a vigilant coalition of bishops who had made a talisman of the Nicene Creed. Gratian was content to let the bishop of Rome dictate both law and truth to the Western provinces, but he himself took the chair in 379 at a contest of orthodoxy that ended in 381, at the Council of Aquileia, with the defeat of the Homoians by the champion of the Homousians, Ambrose of Milan.19 The principles of Roman litigation were observed, though loosely enough to enable Ambrose to arrive at Aquileia as the defendant and emerge as the prosecutor.20 His eloquence, supported by royal favour, tamed the West, but in the East it passed to the strength of Theodosius the Great to appease the bickering of the 150 bishops whom he brought to Constantinople in 381.21 The choice of venue, flattering as it was to the new metropolitanate, was offensive to the older ones.22 The emperor was present and confirmed the

16 Jonkers, ibid., 81-96 assigns a date of 343 to the Council of Gangra, but allows that Laodicea may have convened at any date between 341 and 381.

17 Photius, Bibliotheca 52; cf. C. Stewart, Working the earth of the heart, 24-42. As the date of his assault on the Messalians is unknown, we cannot be sure that Flavian was universally recognised as bishop.

18 N. Tanner and J. Alberigo, Decrees of the ecumenical councils, 1: 66-7.

19 See 'Atti del colloquio internazionale sul concilio di Aquileia'.

21 On the caliginous history of this council see Socrates, Churchhistory 5.8; Sozomen, Church history 7.7 and above all Theodoret, Church history 5.9-13. For the decrees, including the creed, see Tanner and Alberigo, Decrees of the ecumenical councils, 1: 21-35.

22 See canon 3 (Tanner and Alberigo, Decrees of the ecumenical councils, 1:32) on the privileges accorded to Constantinople and ratified at Chalcedon.

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