Monophysites and Monophysitism
Sect of early heretics, Monophysitism was condemned by the Council of Chalcedon in 451
Monophysites and Monophysitism .—The history of this sect and of its ramifications has been summarized under Eutychianism (the nickname somewhat unfairly given by Catholic controversialists). The theology of Monophysitism has also been described under the same heading. Two points are discussed in the following article: first, the literary activity of the Monophysites both in Greek and Syriac; secondly, the question whether they can be exculpated from material heresy in their Christology.
LITERARY HISTORY.—From many points of view the Monophysites are the most important of early heretics, and no heresy or related group of heresies until the sixteenth century has produced so vast and important a literature. A large portion of it is lost; some remains in manuscript, and of late years important publications have brought much of this material to the light of day. Nearly all the Greek literature has perished in its original form, but much of it survives in early Syriac translations, and the Syriac literature itself is extant in yet greater amount. The scientific, philosophical, and grammatical writings of Monophysites must for the most part be passed over here. Ecclesiastical history and biography, as well as dogmatic and polemical writings will be described for the fifth and sixth centuries, together with a few of the chief works of the centuries immediately following.
Dioscurus (q.v.) has left us but a few fragments. The most important is in the “Hist. Misc.”, III, i, from a letter written in exile at Gangra, in which the banished patriarch declares the reality and completeness of our Lord’s Human Body, intending evidently to deny that he had approved the refusal of Eutyches to admit Christ’s consubstantiality with us.
Timothy Aelurus (d. 477) who had been ordained priest by St. Cyril himself, and preserved a profound attachment to that saint, published an edition of some of his works. He accompanied Dioscurus to the Robber Council of Ephesus in 449, as he says himself “together with my brother the blessed priest Anatolius” (the secretary of Dioscurus, promoted by him to the See of Constantinople). It is not necessary to infer that Timothy and Anatolius were brothers. When the death in exile of Dioscurus (September, 454) was known, Timothy assumed the leadership of those who did not acknowledge the orthodox Patriarch Proterius, and demanded a new bishop. He had with him four or five deprived bishops. The riots which followed were renewed at the death of the Emperor Marcian, and Proterius was murdered. Even before this, Timothy had been consecrated patriarch by two bishops. Eusebius of Pelusium and the famous Peter the Iberian, Bishop of Maluma, the latter not even an Egyptian. At Constantinople Anatolius was scarcely his enemy; the minister Aspar was probably his friend; but the Emperor Leo certainly desired to acquiesce in the demands for Timothy’s deposition addressed to him by the orthodox bishops of Egypt and by Pope St. Leo, and he punished the murderers of Proterius at once. Meanwhile Aelurus was expelling from their sees all bishops who accepted the Council of Chalcedon. It was not, however, till Anatolius was dead (July 3, 458) and had been succeeded by St. Gennadius, that the Emperor put into effect the opinions he had elicited from all the bishops of the East in the “Encyclia”, by exiling Aelurus first to Gangra in Paphlagonia, and then in 460 to the Cheronesus. During the reign of Basiliscus he was restored, at the end of 475, and Zeno spared his old age from molestation.
Under Eutychianism something has been said of his theology, and more will be found below. Of his works a fragment on the Two Natures, is in Migne (P.G., LXXXVI, 273). The unpublished Syriac collection of his works (in British Mus., MS. Addit. 12156, sixth cent.) contains (a) a treatise against the “Dyophysites” (Catholics) which consists mainly of a collection of extracts from the Fathers against the Two Natures, the last of the citations being from letters of Dioscurus. This is, however, but a summary of a larger work, which has recently been published entire in an Armenian translation under the title of “Refutation of the Council of Chalcedon“. We learn from Justinian that the original was written in exile. (b) Extracts from a letter written to the city of Constantinople against the Eutychianizers Isaias of Hermopolis and Theophilus, followed by another florilegium from “the Fathers” (almost entirely from Apollinarian forgeries). This letter is preserved entire by Zacharias (in Hist. Misc., IV, xii, where it is followed by the second letter), and also in the “Chronicle” of Michael the Syrian. (c) A second letter against the same. (d) Extracts from two letters to all Egypt, the Thebaid, and Pentapolis on the treatment of Catholic bishops, priests, and monks who should join the Monophysites. (e) A refutation of the Synod of Chalcedon and of the Tome of Leo, written between 454 and 460, in two parts, according to the title, and concluding with extracts from the “Acts” of the Robber Synod and four documents connected with it. (f) A short prayer which Blessed Timothy used to make over those who returned from the communion of the Dyophysites. (g) Exposition of the faith of Timothy, sent to the Emperor Leo by Count Rusticus, and an abridged narration of what subsequently happened to him. A similar supplication of 2Elurus to Leo, sent by the silentiary Diomede, is mentioned by Anastasius Sin. The contents of this MS. are largely cited by Lebon. A translation into Latin of patristic testimonies collected by Aelurus was made by Gennadius Massil, and is to be identified with the Armenian collection. A Coptic list of Timothy’s works mentions one on the Canticle of Canticles. The “Plerophoria” (33, 36) speak of his book of “Narrations”, from which Crum (p. 71) deduces an ecclesiastical history by Timothy in twelve books. Lebon does not accept the attribution to Timothy of the Coptic fragments by which Crum established the existence of such a work, but he finds (p. 110) another reference to a historical work by the patriarch in MS. Addit. 14602 (Chabot, “Documenta”, 225 sqq.).
Peter Mongus (q.v.) of Alexandria was not a writer. His letters in Coptic are not genuine; though a complete Armenian text of them has been published, which is said to be more probably authentic. Peter Fullo (q.v.) of Alexandria similarly left no writings. Letters addressed to him exist, but are certainly spurious. Timothy IV, Patriarch of Alexandria (517-535), composed “Antirrhetica” in many books. This polemical work was lost; but a homily of his remains and a few fragments. Theodosius, Patriarch of Alexandria (10-February 11, 535, and again July, 535-537 or 538) has left us a few fragments and two letters. The Severians of Alexandria were called Theodosians after him, to distinguish them from the Gaianites who followed his Incorruptibilist rival Gaianus. The latter left no writings.
Severus: The most famous and the most fertile of all the Monophysite writers was Severus, who was Patriarch of Antioch (512-518), and died in 538. We have his early life written by his friend Zacharias Scholasticus; a complete biography was composed soon after his death by John, the superior of the monastery where Severus had first embraced the monastic life. He was born at Sozopolis in Pisidia, his father being a senator of the city, and descended from the Bishop of Sozopolis who had attended the Council of Ephesus in 431. After his father’s death he was sent to study rhetoric at Alexandria, being yet a catechumen, as it was the custom in Pisidia to delay baptism until a beard should appear. Zacharias, who was his fellow student, testifies to his brilliant talents and the great progress he made in the study of rhetoric. He was enthusiastic over the ancient orators, and also over Libanius. Zacharias induced him to read the correspondence of Libanius with St. Basil, and the works of the latter and of St. Gregory of Nazianzus, and he was conquered by the power of Christian oratory. Severus went to study law at Berytus about the autumn of 486, and he was followed thither by Zacharias a year later. Severus was later accused of having been in youth a worshipper of idols and a dealer in magical arts (so the libellus of the Palestinian monks at the council of 536), and Zacharias is at pains to refute this calumny indirectly, though at great length, by relating interesting stories of the discovery of a hoard of idols at Menuthis in Egypt and of the routing of necromancers and enchanters at Berytus; in both these exploits the friends of Severus took a leading part, and Zacharias asks triumphantly whether they would have consorted with Severus had he not agreed with them in the hatred of paganism and sorcery. Zacharias continued to influence him, by his own account, and induced him to devote the free time which the students had at their disposal on Saturday afternoons and Sundays to the study of the Fathers. Other students joined the pious company of which an ascetic student named Evagrius became leader, and every evening they prayed together in the church of the Resurrection. Severus was persuaded to be baptized. Zacharias refused to be his godfather, for he declared that he did not communicate with the bishops of Phoenicia, so Evagrius stood sponsor, and Severus was baptized in the church of the martyr, Leontius, at Tripolis.
After his baptism Severus renounced the use of baths and betook himself to fasting and vigils. Two of his companions departed to become monks under Peter the Iberian. When the news of the death of that famous monk (488) arrived, Zacharias and several others entered his monastry of Beith-Aphthonia, at the native place of Zacharias, the port of Gaza (known also as Maiuma), where Peter had been bishop. Zacharias did not persevere, but returned to the practice of the law. Severus intended to practice in his own country, but he first visited the shrine of St. Leontius of Tripolis, the head of St. John Baptist at Emesa, and then the holy places of Jerusalem, with the result that he joined Evagrius who was already a monk at Maiuma. The great austerities there did not suffice for Severus, and he preferred the life of a solitary in the desert of Eleutheropolis. Having reduced himself to great weakness he was obliged to pass some time in the monastery founded by Romanus, after which he returned to the laura of the port of Gaza, in which was the convent of Peter the Iberian. Here he spent what his charities had left of his patrimony in building a monastery for the ascetics who wished to live under his direction. His quiet was rudely disturbed by Nephalius, a former leader of the Acephali, who was said to have once had 30,000 monks ready to march on Alexandria when, at the end of 482, Peter, Mongus accepted the Henoticon and became patriarch. Later on Nephalius joined the more moderate Monophysites, and finally the Catholics, accepting the Council of Chalcedon. About 507-8 he came to Maiuma, preached against Severus, and obtained the expulsion of the monks from their convents. Severus betook himself to Constantinople with 200 monks, and remained there three years, influencing the Emperor Anastasius as far as he could in the support of the Henoticon, against the Catholics on the one hand and the irreconcilable Acephali on the other, He was spoken of as successor to the Patriarch Macedonius who died in August 511. The new patriarch, Timotheus, entered into the views of Severus, who returned to his cloister. In the following year he was consecrated Patriarch of Antioch, November 6, 512, in succession to Flavian, who was banished by the emperor to Arabia for the half-heartedness of his concessions to Monophysitism. Elias of Jerusalem refused to recognize Severus as patriarch, and many other bishops were equally hostile. However, at Constantinople and Alexandria he was supported, and Elias was deposed. Severus exercised a most active episcopacy, living still like a monk, having destroyed the baths in his palace, and having dismissed the cooks. He was deposed in September, 518, on the accession of Justin, as a preparation for reunion with the West. He fled to Alexandria.
In the reign of Justinian the patronage accorded to the Monophysites by Theodora raised their hopes. Severus went to Constantinople where he fraternized with the ascetical Patriarch Anthimus, who had already exchanged friendly letters with him and with Theodosius of Alexandria. The latter was deposed for heresy by Pope Agapetus on his arrival in Constantinople in 536. His successor Mennas held a great council of sixty-nine bishops in the same year after the pope’s departure in the presence of the papal legates, solemnly heard the case of Anthimus and reiterated his deposition. Mennas knew Justinian’s mind, and was determined to be orthodox: “We, as you know”, said he to the council, “follow and obey the Apostolic See, and those with whom it communicates we have in our communion, and those whom it condemns, we condemn.” The Easterns were consequently emboldened to present petitions against Severus and Peter of Apamea. It is from these documents that we have our main knowledge of Severus from the point of view of his orthodox opponents. One petition is from seven bishops of Syria Secunda, two others are from ninety-seven monasteries of Palestine and Syria Secunda to the emperor and to the council. Former petitions of 518 were recited. The charges are somewhat vague (for the facts are supposed known) of murders, imprisonments, and chains, as well as of heresy. Mennas pronounced the condemnation of these heretics for contemning the succession from the Apostles in the Apostolic See, for setting at naught the patriarchal see of the royal city and its council, the Apostolic succession from our Lord in the holy places (Jerusalem), and the sentence of the whole Diocese of Oriens. Severus retired to Egypt once more and to his eremitical life. He died, February 8, 538, refusing to take a bath even to save his life, though he was persuaded to allow himself to be bathed with his clothes on. Wonders are said to have followed his death, and miracles to have been worked by his relics. He has always been venerated by the Jacobite Church as one of its principal doctors.
His literary output was enormous. A long catalogue of works is given by Assemani. Only a few fragments survive in the original Greek, but a great quantity exists in Syriac translations, some of which has been printed. The early works against Nephalius are lost. A dialogue, “Philalethes”, against the supporters of the Council of Chalcedon was composed during the first stay of Severus at Constantinople, 509-11. It was a reply to an orthodox collection of 250 extracts from the works of St. Cyril. An answer seems to have been written by John the Grammarian of Caesarea, and Severus retorted with an “Apology for Philalethes” (remains of the attack and retort in Cod. Vat. Syr. 140 and Cod. Venet. Marc. 165). A work “Contra Joannem Grammaticum” which had a great success and seems to have long been regarded by the Monophysites as a triumph, was probably written in exile after 519. Severus was not an original theologian. He had studied the Cappadocians and he depended much an the Apollinarian forgeries; but in the main he follows St. Cyril in every point without conscious variation.
A controversy with Sergius the Grammarian, who went too far in his zeal for the “One Nature“, and whom Severus consequently styles a Eutychian, is preserved in MS. Addit. 17154. This polemic enabled Severus to define more precisely the Monophysite position, and to guard himself against the exaggerations which were liable to result from the habit of restricting theology to attacks on Chalcedon. In his Egyptian exile Severus was occupied with his controversy with Julian of Halicarnassus. We also hear of works on the two natures “Against Felicissimus“, and “Against the Codicils of Alexander“. Like all Monophysites his theology is limited to the controversial questions. Beyond these he has no outlook. Of the numerous sermons of Severus, those which he preached at Antioch are quoted as “Homili ae cathedrales” They have come down to us in two Syriac translations; one was probably made by Paul, Bishop of Callinicus, at the beginning of the sixth century, the other by Jacob Baradai, was completed in 701. Those which have been printed are of astonishing eloquence. A diatribe against the Hippodrome may be especially noticed, for it is very modern in its denunciation of the cruelty to the horses which was involved in the chariot races. A fine exhortation to frequent communion is in the same sermon. The letters of Severus were collected in twenty-three books, and numbered no less than 3759. The sixth book is extant. It contains theological letters besides many proofs of the varied activities of the patriarch in his episcopal functions. He also composed hymns for the people of Antioch, since he perceived that they were fond of singing. His correspondence with Anthimus of Constantinople is found in “Hist. Misc.”, IX, xxi-xxii.
Julian, Bishop of Halicarnassus, joined with Severus in the intrigue by which Macedonius was deposed from the Patriarchate of Constantinople in 511. He was exiled on the accession of Justin in 518, and retired to the monastery of Enaton, nine miles from Alexandria. He was already of advanced age. Here he wrote a work “Against the Diphysites” in which he spoke incorrectly according to Severus, who nevertheless did not reply. But Julian himself commenced a correspondence with him (it is preserved in the Syriac translation made in 528 by Paul of Callinicus, and also partially in the “Hilt. Misc.”, IX, x-xiv) in which he begged his opinion on the question of the incorruptibility of the Body of Christ. Severus replied, enclosing an opinion which is lost, and in answer to a second letter from Julian wrote a long epistle which Julian considered to be wanting in respect, especially as he had been obliged to wait for it a year and a month. Parties were formed. The Julianists upheld the incorruptibility of the Body of Christ, meaning that Christ was not naturally subject to the ordinary wants of hunger, thirst, weariness, etc., nor to pain, but that He assumed them of His free will for our sakes. They admitted that He is “consubstantial with us”, against Eutyches, yet they were accused by the Severians of Eutychianism, Manichaeism, and Docetism, and were nicknamed Phantasiasts, Aphthartodocetae, or Incorrupticolae. They retorted by calling the Severians Phthartolotrae (Corrupticolae), or Ktistolatrae, for Severus taught that our Lord’s Body was “corruptible” by its own nature; that was scarcely consistent, as it can only be of itself “corruptible” when considered apart from the union, and the Monophysites refused to consider the Human Nature of Christ apart from the union. Justinian, who in his old age turned more than ever to the desire of conciliating the Monophysites (in spite of his failure to please them by condemning the “three chapters”), was probably led to favor Julian because he was the opponent of Severus, who was universally regarded as the great foe of orthodoxy. The emperor issued an edict in 565 making the “incorruptibility” an obligatory doctrine, in spite of the fact that Julian had been anathematized by a council at Constantinople in 536, at which date he had probably been dead for some years.
A commentary by Julian on the Book of Job, in a Latin version, was printed in an old Paris edition of Origen (ed. Genebrardus, 1574). A MS. of the original Greek is mentioned by Mai. It is largely quoted in the catena on Job of Nicetas of Heraclea. The great work of Julian against Severus seems to be lost. Ten anathematisms remain. Of his commentaries, one on Matthew is cited by Moses Barkepha (P.G., CXI, 551). It is to be hoped that some of Julian’s works will be recovered in Syriac or Coptic translations. An anti-Julianist catena in the British Museum (MS. Addit. 12155) makes mention of Julian’s writings. We hear of a treatise by him, “Against the Eutychianists and Manichans”, which shows that Julian, like his great opponent Severus, had to be on his guard against extravagant Monophysites. Part of the treatise which Peter of Callinicus, Patriarch of Antioch (578-591), wrote against the Damianists is extant in Syriac MSS. (see Assemani‘s and Wright’s catalogues).
The writers of the Tritheist sect (see Tritheists) next demand our attention. The chief among them, John Philoponus, of Caesarea, was Patriarch of the Tritheists at Alexandria at the beginning of the sixth century, and was the principal writer of his party. He was a grammarian, a philosopher, and an astronomer as well as a theologian. His principal theological work, Diaitetes e peri enoseos, in ten books, is lost. It dealt with the Christological and Trinitarian controversies of his age, and fragments of it are found in Leontius (De sectis, October 5), in St. John Damascene (De hr., I, 101-107, ed. Le Quien) and in Niceph. Call., XVIII (see Mansi, XI, 301). A complete Syriac translation is in Brit. Mus. and Vat. MSS. Another lost theological work, peri anastaseos, described the writer’s theory of a creation of new bodies at the general resurrection; it is mentioned by Photius (cod. 21-23), by Timotheus Presbyter and Nicephorus. As a philosopher Philoponus was an Aristotelian, and a disciple of the Aristotelian commentator Ammonius, son of Hermeas. His own commentaries on Aristotle were printed by Aldus at Venice (on “De generatione et interitu”, 1527; “Analytica posteriora”, 1534; “Analytica priora”, 1536; “De nat. auscult.”, I-IV, and “De anima”, 1535; “Meteorologica”, I, 1551; “Metaphysica”, 1583). He also wrote much against the Epicheiremata of Proclus, the last great Neoplatonist: eighteen books on the eternity of the world (Venice, 1535), composed in 529, and peri kosmopoitas (printed by Corderius, Vienna, 1630, and in Gallandi, XII; new ed. by Reichert, 1897), on the Hexaemeron, in which he follows St. Basil and other Fathers, and shows a vast knowledge of all the literature and science accessible in his day. The latter work is dedicated to a certain Sergius, who may perhaps be identified with Sergius the Grammarian, the Eutychianizing correspondent of Severus. The work was possibly written as early as 517 (for 617 in the editions is evidently a clerical error). A “Computatio de Pascha”, printed after this work, argues that the Last Supper was on the 13th of Nizan, and was not a real passover. A lost theological work entitled tmemata is summarized by Michael the Syrian (Chronicle, II, 69). A book against the Council of Chalcedon is mentioned by Photius (cod. 55). A work “Contra Andream” is preserved in a Syriac MS. Another work “Against the Acephali” exists in MS., and may be the work Philoponus is known to have written in controversy with Severus. In grammar his master was Romanus, and his extant writings on the subject are based upon the kapholike of Herodian (tonika paraggelmata, ed. Dindorf, 1825; peri ton diaphoros tonoumenon, ed. Egenolff, 1880).
This sixth century Monophysite is to be distinguished from an earlier grammarian, also called Philoponus, who flourished under Augustus and Tiberius. Of his life little is known. On account of his Tritheistic opinions he was summoned to Constantinople by Justinian, but he excused himself on account of his age and infirmity. He addressed to the emperor a treatise “De divisione, differentia, et numero”, which seems to be the same as a treatise spoken of as “De differentia quae manere creditur in Christo post unionem”; but it is lost. He addressed an essay on Tritheism to Athanasius Monachus, and was condemned on this account at Alexandria. At a disputation held by the emperor’s order before the Patriarch of Constantinople John Scholasticus, Conon, and Eugenius represented the Tritheists; John condemned Philoponus, and the emperor issued an edict against the sect (Photius, cod. 24). In 568 Philoponus was still alive, for he published a pamphlet against John, which Photius describes with great severity (cod. 75). The style of Philoponus, he says, is always clear, but without dignity, and his argumentation is puerile. (For the theological views of the sect, see Tritheists.)
Conon, Bishop of Tarsus, though a Tritheist and, with Eugenius, a supporter of John Philoponus before the emperor, disagreed with that writer about the equality of the three Persons of the Holy Trinity (see Tritheists), and together with Euqenius and Themistius wrote a book, kata Ioannou, against his views on the Resurrection. Eugenius is called a Cilician bishop by John of Ephesus, but Bar Hebrwus makes him Bishop of Seleucia in Isauria (see Tritheists). Themistius, surnamed Calonymus, was a deacon of Alexandria, who separated from his patriarch, Timothy IV (517-535), and founded the sect of Agncetae. He wrote against Severus a book called “Apology for the late Theophobius”, to which a Severian monk named Theodore replied; the answer of Themistius was again refuted by Theodore in three books (Photius, cod. 108). Other works of Themistius are referred to by St. Maximus Confessor, and some fragments are cited in Mansi, X, 981 and 1117. Stephen Gobarus the Tritheist is known only by the elaborate analysis of his book given by Photius (cod. 232); it was a “Sic et Non” like that of Abelard, giving authorities for a proposition and then for the contrary opinion. At the end were some remarks on curious views of a number of Fathers. It was evidently, as Photius remarks, a performance of more labor than usefulness.
HISTORY.—We now turn to the historians. Zacharias of Gaza, brother of Procopius of Gaza, the rhetorician, Zacharias Scholasticus, Zacharias the Rhetorician, Zacharias of Mitylene, are all apparently the same person (so Kugener’s latest view, Kruger, and Brooks). Of his early life we have a vivid picture in his memoirs of Severus, with whom he studied at Alexandria and at Berytus. His home was at the port of Gaza, near the monastery of the bishop, Peter the Iberian. To the latter he was greatly devoted, and believed that Peter had prophesied his unfitness for the monastic life. He in fact did not become a monk, when his friends Evagrius, Severus, and others did so, but practiced law at Constantinople, and reached eminence in his profession. Of his writings, a dialogue “that the world did not exist from eternity” was probably composed in youth while he lived at Berytus. His “Ecclesiastical History” is extant only in a Syriac epitome which forms four books (III-VI) of the “Historia Miscellanea”. It begins with a short account from a Monophysite point of view of the Council of Chalcedon, and continues the history, mainly of Palestine and Alexandria, until the death of Zeno (491). From the same history is derived a curious statistical description of Rome in “Hist. Misc.”, X, xvi. The very interesting life of Severus carries the author’s recollections up to the accession of his hero to the See of Antioch in 512. It was written subsequently to the history, as the cubicularius Eupraxius, to whom that work was dedicated, was already dead. His recollections of Peter the Iberian and of Theodore, Bishop of Antinoe, are lost, but his biography of Isaias, an Egyptian ascetic, is preserved in Syriac. A disputation against the Manichwans, published by Cardinal Pitra in Greek, was probably written after the edict of Justinian against the Manichi ans in 527. He seems to have been still a layman. Up to the time he wrote the life of Severus he was a follower of the Henoticon; this was the easy course under Zeno and Anastasius. It would seem that he found it paid to revert to orthodoxy under Justin and Justinian, for he was present as Bishop of Mitylene at the Council of Mennas at Constantinople in 536, where he was one of the three metropolitans who were sent to summon Anthimus to appear. His name does not appear in the incomplete printed list of subscriptions to that patriarch’s deposition, but Labbe testifies that it is found in some MSS. (Mansi, VIII, 975); it is absent from the condemnation of Severus in a later session. Zacharias was dead before the ecumenical council of 553.
An important historical work in anecdotal form is the “Plerophoria” of John of Maiuma, composed about 515; it contains stories of Monophysite worthies up to date, especially of Peter the Iberian, whose life was also written by Zacharias, but is now lost. A later life of Peter has been printed, which contains curious information about the Iberian princes from whom the Monophysite bishop descended. The life of the ascetic Isaias by Zacharias accompanies it.
The interesting “Historia Miscellanea”, often referred to as Pseudo-Zacharias, was composed in Syriac in twelve books by an unknown author who seems to have lived at Amida. Though the work was completed in 569, he seems to have used part of the history of John of Ephesus, which was finished only in 571. Certain parts were written earlier (or are borrowed from older writers), VII, xv before 523; X, xii in 545; XII, vii in 555; XII, iv in 561. The first book contains a quantity of legendary matter from Greek sources which are still extant; a few words are added on the Syriac doctors Isaac and Dodo. Book II has the story of the Seven Sleepers. History begins in II, ii, with an account of Eutyches, and the letter of Proclus to the Armenians follows. The next four books are an epitome of the lost work of Zacharias Rhetor. The seventh book continues the story from the accession of Anastasius (491), and together with general ecclesiastical history it combines some interesting details of wars with the Persians in Mesopotamia. A curious chapter gives the Prologue of Moro, or Mara, Bishop of Amida (a Syriac writer whose works appear to be lost), to his edition of the four Gospels in Greek, to which the writer appends as a curiosity the pericope of the woman taken in adultery (John, viii) which Moro had inserted in the 89th canon; “it is not found in other MSS.” Book VIII, iii, gives the letter of Simeon of Beit-Arsham on the martyrs of Yemen, perhaps an apocryphal document. Book XI is lost, with most of X and XII. Some of X has been restored by Brooks from the “Chronicle” of Michael the Syrian (died 1199). It is necessary to mention the “Chronicle of Edessa“, from 495 to 506, which is embedded in the “Chronicle” attributed to Joshua the Stylite (who seems to have been a Catholic); this latter is included in the second book of the “Chronicle” attributed to the Patriarch of Antioch, Dionysius of Tell-Mahre, a compilation which has a fourth book (from the end of the sixth century to 775) which is an original work by the compiler, who was in reality a monk of Zonkenin (north of Amida), possibly Joshua the Stylite himself.
Some small chronicles of the sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth centuries have been published as “Chronica minora” in the “Corpus Script. Or.” Of later histories, those of Bar Hebrceus (died 1286) must be noted. His “Chronicon Syriacum” is an abridgment of Michael with a continuation; the “Chronicon ecclesiasticum” contains the ecclesiastical history first of Western Syria and then of Eastern Syria, with lives of the patriarchs of Antioch, of the Jacobite missionary bishops (called maphrians) and of the Nestorian patriarchs. The “Chronicle” of Elias of Nisibis to 1008 is important because it mentions its sources, but it is very defective in the early period through the loss of some pages of the MS. Basil the Cilician and John of Aegea are counted as Monophysite writers by Ehrhard (in Krumbacher, p. 53), but Photius clearly makes them out Nestorians (cod. 41, 55, 107), and it is by a slip that he conjectures Basil to be the author of a work against Nestorius.
Syriac Writers.—Of the Syriac Monophysite writers none is more important than Philoxenus, otherwise Xenaias, who was Bishop of Mabug (Hierapolis) from 485. For his life and the version of Scripture which was made by his order, see Philoxenus. His dogmatic writings alone concern us here. His letter to the Emperor Zeno, published by Vaschalde (1902) is of 485, the date of his episcopal consecration and of his acceptance of the Henoticon. His treatises on the Incarnation date perhaps before 500; to the same period belong two short works, “A Confession of Faith” and “Against every Nestorian”. He wrote also on the Trinity. A letter to Marco, lector of Anazarbus, is attributed to 515-518. After he had been exiled by Justin to Philippolis in Thrace in 518, he attacked the orthodox patriarch, Paul of Antioch, in a letter to the monks of Teleda, and wrote another letter of which fragments are found in MS. Addit. 14533, in which he argues that it is sometimes wise to admit baptisms and ordinations by heretics for the sake of peace; the question of sacramental validity does not occur to him. Fragments of his commentaries on the Gospel are found in MSS. Thirteen homilies on religious life have been published by Budge. They scarcely touch upon dogma. Of his three liturgies two are given by Renaudot. Out of the great mass of his works in MS. at Rome, Paris, Oxford, Cambridge, London, only a fraction has been published. He was an eager controversialist, a scholar, and an accomplished writer. His Syriac style is much admired. His sect had no more energetic leader until Jacob Baradaeus himself. He was president of the synod which elevated Severus to the See of Antioch, and he had been the chief agent in the extrusion of Flavian. He was an energetic foe of Catholicism, and his works stand next in importance to those of Severus as witnesses to the tenets of their party. He was exiled by Justin in 519 to Philippolis and then to Gangra, where he died of suffocation by smoke in the room in which he was confined.
James of Sarugh, 451-521 (q.v.), became periodeutes, or visitor, of Haura in that district about 505, and bishop of its capital, Batnan, in 519. Nearly all his numerous writings are metrical. We are told that seventy amanuenses were employed to copy his 760 metrical homilies, which are in Wright’s opinion more readable than those of Ephraem or Isaac of Antioch. A good many have been published at various times. In the Vatican are 233 in MSS., in London 140, in Paris, 100. They are much cited in the Syriac Liturgy, and a liturgy and a baptismal rite are ascribed to him. Numerous letters of his are extant in Brit. Mus., MSS. Addit. 14587 and 17163. Though his feast is kept by Maronites and even by some Nestorians, there is no doubt that he accepted the Henoticon, and was afterwards in relation with the leading Monophysites, rejecting the Council of Chalcedon to the end of his life. Stephen bar Soudaili was an Edessene Monophysite who fell into Pantheism and Origenism. He was attacked by Philoxenus and James of Sarugh, and retired to Jerusalem. The confession of faith of John of Tella (483-538; bishop, 519-521) is extant, and so is his commentary on the Trisagion, and his canons for the clergy and replies to the questions of the priest Sergius—all in MSS. in the British Museum. The great James Baradceus, the eponymous hero of the Jacobites, who supplied bishops and clergy for the Monophysites when they were definitively divided from the Eastern Catholics in 543, wrote but little: a liturgy, a few letters, a sermon, and a confession of faith are extant (see Jacob Baradaeus). Of Syriac translators it is not necessary to speak, nor is there need to treat of the Monophysite scientist Sergius of Reschaina, the writer on philosophy, Ahoudemmeh, and many others.
John of Ephesus, called also John of Asia, was a Syrian of Amida, where he became a deacon in 529. On account of the persecution of his sect he departed, and was made administrator of the temporal affairs of the Monophysites in Constantinople by Justinian, who sent him in the following year as a missionary bishop to the pagans of Asia Minor. He relates of himself that he converted 60,000, and had 96 churches built. He returned to the capital in 546, to destroy idol worship there also. But on the death of Justinian he suffered a continual persecution, which he describes in his “History”, as an excuse for its confusion and repetitions. What remains of that work is of great value as a contemporary record. The style is florid and full of Greek expressions. The lives of blessed Eastern were put together by John about 565-566, and have been published by Land. They include great men like Severus, Baradaeus, Theodosius, etc. (For an account of these works and for bibliography see John of Ephesus.)
George, bishop of the Arabians (b. about 640; d. 724) was one of the chief writers of the Assyrian Jacobites. He was a personal follower of James of Edessa, whose poem on the Hexameron he completed after the death of James in 708. In this work he teaches the Apocatastasis, or restoration of all things, including the destruction of hell, which so many Greek Fathers learned from Origen. George was born in the Tchouma in the Diocese of Antioch, and was ordained bishop of the wandering Arabs in November, 686; his see was at Akoula. He was a man of considerable learning. His translation, with introduction and commentary, of part of the “Organon” of Aristotle (“Catagories”, “De Interpretatione” and “Prior Analytics”) is extant (Brit. Mus., MS. Acidit.14659), as is the collection he made of scholia on St. Gregory of Nazianzus, and an explanation of the three Sacraments (Baptism, Holy Communion, and consecration of chrism—following Pseudo-Dionysius). His letters of 714 till 718 are extant in the same MS. as this last work (Brit. Mus., MS. Addit. 12154). They deal with many things; astronomical, exegetical, liturgical questions, explanations of Greek proverbs and fables, dogma and polemics, and contain historical matter about Aphraates and Gregory the Illuminator. His poems included one in dodecasyllables on the unpromising subject of the calculation of movable feasts and the correction of the solar and lunar cycles, another on the monastic life, and two on the consecration of the holy chrism. His works are important for our knowledge of Syriac Church and literature. His reading was vast, including the chief Greek Fathers, with whom he classes Severus and Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite; he knows the Pseudo-Clementines and Josephus, and of Syriac writers he knows Bardesanes, Aphraates, and St. Ephraem. His correspondence is addressed to literary monks of his sect. The canons attributed to George in the “Nomocanon” of Bar Hebraeus are apparently extracts from his writings reduced to the form of canons.
James of Edessa (q.v.), about 633-705, was the chief Syriac writer of his time, and the last that need be mentioned here. His works are sufficiently described in a separate article. The Syriac literature of the Monophysites, however, continued throughout the middle ages. Their Coptic, Arabic, and Anne-nian literature is large, but cannot be treated in an article like the present one.
ORTHODOXY.—Were the Monophysites really heretics or were they only schismatics? This question was answered in the affirmative by Assemani, more recently by the Oriental scholar Nau, and last of all by Lebon, who has devoted an important work, full of evidence from unpublished sources, to the establishment of this thesis. It is urged that the Monophysites taught that there is but one Nature of Christ, pia 4e nr, because they identify the words phusis and upostasis. But in just the same way the Nestorians have lately been justified. A simple scheme will make the matter plain:
Nestorians: One person, two hypostases, two natures.
Catholics: One person, one hypostasis, two natures.
Monophysites: One person, one hypostasis, one nature.
It is urged by Bethune-Baker that Nestorius and his friends took the word hypostasis in the sense of nature, and by Lebon that the Monophysites took nature in the sense of hypostasis, so that both parties really intended the Catholic doctrine. There is a prima facie argument against both these pleas. Granting that for centuries controversialists full of odium theologicum might misunderstand one another and fight about words while agreeing as to the underlying doctrine, yet it remains that the words person, hypostasis, nature, (prosopon, upostasis, phusis) had received in the second half of the fourth century a perfectly definite meaning, as to which the whole Church was at one. All agreed that in the Holy Trinity there is one Nature (ousia or phusis) having three Hypostases or Persons. If in Christology the Nestorians used upostasis and the Monophysites phusis in a new sense, not only does it follow that their use of words was singularly inconsistent and inexcusable, but (what is far more important) that they can have had no difficulty in seeing what was the true meaning of Catholic councils, popes, and theologians, who consistently used the words in one and the same sense with regard both to the Trinity and the Incarnation. There would be every excuse for Catholics if they misunderstood such a strange “derangement of epitaphs” on the part of the schismatics, but the schismatics must have easily grasped the Catholic position. As a fact the Antiochene party had no difficulty in coming to terms with St. Leo; they understood him well enough, and declared that they had always meant what he meant. How far this was a fact must be discussed under Nestorius and Nestorianism. But the Monophysites always withstood the Catholic doctrine, declaring it to be Nestorian, or half Nestorian, and that it divided Christ into two.
Lebon urges that Severus himself more than once explains that there is a difference in the use of words in “theology” (doctrine of the Trinity) and in “the economy” (Incarnation): “Admittedly hypostasis and ousia or phusis are not the same in theology; however, in the economy they are the same” (P.G., LXXXVI, 1921), and he alleges the example of Gregory of Nazianzus to show that in a new mystery the terms must take new signification. But surely these very passages make it evident that Severus distinguished between phusis and upostasis. Putting aside the Trinity and the Incarnation, every phusis is a upostasis, and every upostasis is a phusis—in this statement all Catholics and Monophysites agree. But this means that the denotation of the words is the same, not that there is no difference of connotation. Phusis is an abstraction, and cannot exist except as a concrete, that is to say, as a upostasis. But “admittedly” in the Trinity the denotation as well as the connotation of the words is diverse, it is still true that each of the three Hypostases is identified with the Divine Nature (that is, each Person is God); but if each Hypostasis is therefore still a phusis (the one phusis) yet the phusis is not one but three Hypostases. The words retain their old sense (connotation) yet have received a new sense in a new relation. It is obvious that this is the phenomenon to which Severus referred. Catholics would add that in the Incarnation conversely two natures are one hypostasis. Thus the meanings of phusis (abstract = ousia) and upostasis (subsistent phusis, phusis uphestosa or enupostatos) in the Holy Trinity were a common possession; and all agreed further that in the created universe there cannot exist a nature which does not subsist, there is no such thing as phusis anupostatos. (a) But Catholics hold the Human Nature of Christ considered in itself to be anupostatos, to have no human upostasis, but that the second Person of the Holy Trinity is its upostasis. As the infinity of the Divine Nature is capable of a threefold subsistence, so the infinity of the Hypostasis of the Word is able to be the Hypostasis of the Human Nature assumed as well as of the Divine. The union in Christ is not a union of two natures directly with one another, but a union of the two in one hypostasis; thus they are distinct yet inseparable, and each acts in communion with the other. (b) The Nestorians argued thus: There are, according to the Fathers, two natures in Christ; but since every nature is a hypostasis, the Human Nature in Christ is a hypostasis. In order to make one Christ, they tried (in vain) to explain how two hypostases could be united in one person (prosoton). They did not mean to divide Christ, but their prosopic union leaked at every seam; it was difficult to express it or argue about it without falling into heresy. The Antiochenes were glad to drop such inadequate formulae, for it was certain that “person” in the Holy Trinity was only another name for “hypostasis”. The Cyrillians were shocked, and could not be induced to believe (though St. Cyril himself did) that the Nestorianizers did not really mean two Christs, two Sons. (c) Conversely, starting from the same proposition that every phusis is a upostasis, the Monophysites argued that as Christ is one Person, one Hypostasis, so He is one Nature, and they preferred “is one nature” to the equivalent “has one nature”. They alleged high authority for their formula, not only St. Cyril, but behind him St. Athanasius, Pope St. Julius, and St. Gregory the Wonderworker. These authorities, however, were but Apollinarian forgeries; the favorite formula of St. Cyril, the mia phusis sesarkomene), had been borrowed unwittingly from an Apollinarian source, and had been meant by its original inventor in a heretical sense. Nay, the “one nature” went back to the Arians, and had been used by Eudoxius himself to express the incompleteness of the Human Nature of Christ.
Yet the Monophysites were far from being Apollinarians, still less were they Arians; they were careful from the beginning to explain that Christ is perfect Man, and that He assumed a complete Human Nature like ours. Dioscurus is emphatic on this point in his letter to Secundinus (Hist. Misc., III, i) and with need, since he had acquitted Eutyches who had denied our Lord’s “consubstantiality with us”. Aelurus is just as clear in the letters by which he refuted and excommunicated Isaias of Hermopolis and Theophilus as “Eutychians” (Hist. Misc., IV, xii), and Severus had an acute controversy with Sergius the Grammarian on this very point. They all declared with one voice that Christ is mia phusis, but ek duo phuseon, that His Divine Nature is combined with a complete Human Nature in one hypostasis, and hence the two have become together the One
Nature of that one hypostasis, howbeit without mixture or confusion or diminution. Aelurus insists that after union the properties of each nature remain unchanged; but they spoke of “the divine and human things”, divina et humans, not natures; each nature remains in its natural state with its own characteristics (en idioteti te kata phusin) yet not as a unity but as a part, a quality (poiotes phusike), not as a phusis. All the qualities of the two natures are combined into one upostasis sunthetos and form the one nature of that one hypostasis. So far there is no heresy in intention, but only a wrong definition:—that one hypostasis can have only one nature.
But however harmless the formula “one nature” might look at first sight, it led in fact immediately to serious and disastrous consequences. The Divine Nature of the Word is not merely specifically but numerically one with the Divine Nature of the Son and the Holy Ghost. This is the meaning of the word omoousios applied to the Three Persons, and if Harnack were right in supposing that at the Council of Constantinople in 381 the word was taken to imply only three Persons of one species, then that Council accepted three Gods, and not three distinct but inseparable Persons in one God. Now if the Divine and Human Natures are united in the Word into one Nature, it is impossible to avoid one of two conclusions, either that the whole Divine Nature became man and suffered and died, or else that each of the three Persons had a Divine Nature of His own. In fact the Monophysites split upon this question. Aelurus and Severus seem to have avoided the difficulty, but it was not long before those who refused the latter alternative were taunted with the necessity of embracing the former, and were nicknamed Theopaschites, as making God to suffer. Vehemently Severus and his school declared that they made the Divinity to suffer not as God, but only as man; but this was insufficient as a reply. Their formula was not “The Word made flesh”, “the Son of God made man”, but “one Nature of the Word made flesh”;—the Nature became flesh, that is the whole Divine Nature. They did not reply: “We mean hypostasis when we say nature, we do not mean the Divine Nature (which the Word has in common with the Father and the Holy Ghost) but His Divine Person, which in the present case we call His phusis, for the phusis tou Theou Logou, before the word sesarkomene has been added, is in the sphere of “theology” not of “the economy”, and its signification could not be doubted.
Just as there were many “Eutychians” among the Monophysites who denied that Christ is consubstantial with us, so there were found many to embrace boldly the paradox that the Divine Nature has become incarnate. Peter Fullo added to the praise of the Trinity the words “who was crucified for us”, and refused to allow the natural inference to be explained away. Stephen Niobes and the Niobites expressly denied all distinction between the Human and the Divine Natures after the union. The Actistetae declared that the Human Nature became “untreated” by the union. If the greatest theologians of the sect, Severus and Philoxenus, avoided these excesses, it was by a refusal to be logically Monophysite.
It was not only the orthodox who were scandalized by these extreme views. An influential and very learned section of the schism rebelled, and chose the second of the two alternatives—that of making the Divine Nature itself threefold, in order to ensure that the Human Nature in Christ was made one with the Nature of the Son alone and not with the whole Divine Nature. John Philoponus, the Aristotelian commentator, therefore taught that there are in the Trinity three partial substances (merikai ousiai) and one common substance (mia koine), thus falling into Polytheism, with three, or rather four, gods. This Tritheistic party was treated with leniency. It split into sections. Though they were excommunicated at Alexandria, the Patriarch Damian held a view not far different. He so distinguished between the Divine ousia and the three Hypostases which partake (metechousin) in it, that he conceded the ousia to be existent of Itself (enuparktos), and his followers were nicknamed Tetradites. Thus Peter Fullo, the Actistetae, and the Niobites on the one hand, and the Tritheists and Damianists on the other, developed the Monophysite formulae in the only two possible directions. It is obvious that formulae which involved such alternatives were heretical in fact as well as in origin. Severus tried to be orthodox, but at the expense of consistency. His “corruptibilist” view is true enough, if the Human Nature is considered in the abstract apart from the union (see Eutychianism), but to consider it thus as an entity was certainly an admission of the Two Natures. All change and suffering in Christ must be (as the Julianists and Justinian rightly saw) strictly voluntary, in so far as the union gives to the Sacred Humanity a right and claim to beatification and (in a sense) to deification. But Severus was willing to divide the Natures not merely “before” the union (that is, logically previous to it) but even after the union “theoretically”, and he went so far in his controversy with the orthodox John the Grammarian as to concede duo phuseis en theopia. This was indeed an immense concession, but considering how much more orthodox were the intentions of Severus than his words, it is scarcely astonishing, for St. Cyril had conceded much more.
But though Severus went so far as this, it is shown elsewhere (see Eutychianism, Saint Maximus of Constantinople, and especially Monothelitism and Monothelites) that he did not avoid the error of giving one activity to our Lord, one will, and one knowledge. It is true enough that he had no intention of admitting any incompleteness in the Humanity of Christ, and that he and all the Monophysites started merely from the proposition that all activity, all will, and intelligence proceed from the person, as ultimate principle, and on this ground alone they asserted the unity of each in Christ. But it was on this ground that Monothelitism was condemned. It was not supposed by the best Catholic theologians who attacked that doctrine that the Monophysites denied Christ to have exercised human activities, human acts of the will, human acts of cognition; the error was clearly recognized as lying in the failure to distinguish between the human or the mixed (theandric) activity of Christ as Man, and the purely Divine activity, will, knowledge, which the Son has in common with the Father and the Holy Spirit, and which are in fact the Divine Nature. In speaking of one activity, one will, one knowledge in Christ, Severus was reducing Monophysitism to pure heresy just as much as did the Niobites or the Tritheists whom he certainly held in horror; for he refused to distinguish between the human faculties of Christ—activity, will, intellect—and the Divine Nature itself. This is not Apollinarianism, but is so like it that the distinction is theoretical rather than real. It is the direct consequence of the use of Apollinarian formulae. St. Cyril did not go so far; and in this Monothelite error we may see the essence of the heresy of the Monophysites; for all fell into this snare, except the Tritheists, since it was the logical result of their mistaken point of view.