Eutychianism and Monophysitism are usually identified as a single heresy. But as some Monophysites condemned Eutyches, the name Eutychian is given by some writers to only the more extreme of these sectaries, or even only to those in Armenia. It seems best to use the words indifferently, as no party of the sect looked to Eutyches 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 prosopon, 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, Theotokos. 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 Loetentur coeli, 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 (energeiai) 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 utraque forma cum alterius communione quod proprium est” (Ep. xxviii, 4). The famous formula of St. Cyril mia phusis tou Theou Logou sesarkomene, “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 incarnatam… 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 phusis 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 color to the charges of Apollinarianism brought against him by Theodoret, John, Ibas, and their party. The word phusis produced just the same difficulties that the word hupostasis had aroused in the preceding century. For hupostasis, as St. Jerome rightly declared, was the equivalent of ousia 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 phusis was an especially Alexandrian word for ousia and hupostasis, and was naturally used of a subsistent ousia, not of abstract ousia, 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 hupostasis 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 ousia, eidos, and phusis. Again, phusis 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 phusis 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), “(a), that when the Divine Word became man, He remained one and the same in essence, attributes and personality; in all respects the same as before, and therefore mia phusis. It means (b), that the manhood, on the contrary, which He assumed, was not in all respects the same nature as that masses, usia, physis, etc., out of which it was taken; (I) from the very circumstance that it was only an addition or supplement to what He was already, not a being complete in itself; (2) because in the act of assuming it, He changed it in its qualities. This added nature, then, was best expressed, not by a second substantive, as if collateral in its position, but by an adjective or participle, as sesarkomene. The three words answered to St. John’s he logos sarks egeneto, i.e. sesarkomenos en.” 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 hen kai to auto te ousia 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 alterableness 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 mia theia phusis 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 today, 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.
1. The Cyrillian party before Chalcedon did not put forward any doctrine of their own; they only denounced as Nestorians any who taught duo phuseis, two natures, which they made equal to two hypostases, and two Sons. They usually admitted that Christ was ek duo phuseon “of two natures”, but this meant that the Humanity before (that is, logically before) it was assumed was a complete phusis; it was no longer a phusis (subsistent) after its union to the Divine nature. It was natural that those of them who were consistent should reject the teaching of St. Leo, that there were two natures: “Tenet emm sine defectu proprietatem suam utraque natura”, “Assumpsit formam servi sine sorde peccati, humana augens, divina non minuens”, and if they chose to understand “nature” to mean a subsistent nature, they were even bound to reject such language as Nestorian. Their fault in itself was not necessarily that they were Monophysites at heart, but that they would not stop to listen to the six hundred bishops of Chalcedon, to the pope, and to the entire Western Church. Those who were ready to hear explanations and to realize that words may have more than one meaning (following the admirable example set by St. Cyril himself), were able to remain in the unity of the Church. The rest were rebels, and whether orthodox in belief or not, well deserved to find themselves in the same ranks as the real heretics.
2. Eutyches himself was not a Cyrillian. He was not a Eutychian in the ordinary sense of that word. His mind was not clear enough to be definitely Monophysite, and St. Leo was apparently right in thinking him ignorant. He was with the Cyrillians in denouncing as Nestorians all who spoke of two natures. But he had never adopted the “consubstantial with us” of the “creed of the union”, nor St. Cyril’s admissions, in accepting that creed, as to the two natures. He was willing to accept St. Cyril’s letters and the decisions of Ephesus and Nicaea only in a general way, in so far as they contained no error. His disciple, the monk Constantine, at the revision, in April, 449, of the condemnation of Eutyches, explained that he did not accept the Fathers as a canon of faith. In fact Eutyches simply upheld the ultra-Protestant view that nothing can be imposed as of faith which is not verbally to be found in Scripture. This, together with an exaggerated horror of Nestorianism, appears to describe his whole theological position.
3. Dioscurus and the party which followed him seem to have been pure Cyrillians, who by an excessive dislike of Nestorianism, fell into excess in minimizing the completeness of the Humanity, and exaggerating the effects upon it of the union. We have not documents enough to tell us how far their error went. A fragment of Dioscurus is preserved in the “Antirrhetica” of Nicephorus (Spicil. Solesm., IV, 380) which asks: “If the Blood of Christ is not by nature (kata phusin) God‘s and not a man’s, how does it differ from the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer? For this is earthly and corruptible, and the blood of man according to nature is earthly and corruptible. But God forbid that we should say the Blood of Christ is consubstantial with one of those things which are according to nature (henos ton kata phusin homoousion).” If this is really, as it purports to be, from a letter written by Dioscurus from his exile at Gangra, we shall have to class him with the extreme Monophysite “Incorrupticolae”, in that he rejects the “consubstantial with us” and makes the Blood of Christ incorruptible of its own nature. But the passage may conceivably be a Julianist forgery.
4. Timothy Aelurus, the first Monophysite Patriarch of Alexandria, was on the contrary nearly orthodox in his views, as has been clearly shown by the extracts published by Lebon from his works, extant in Syriac in a MS. in the British Museum (Addit. 12156). He denies that phusis, nature, can be taken in an abstract sense. Hence he makes extracts from St. Leo, and mocks the pope as a pure Nestorian. He does not even accept ek duo phuseon, and declares there can be no question of two natures, either before or after the Incarnation. “There is no nature which is not a hypostasis, nor hypostasis which is not a person.” So far we have, not heresy, but only a term defined contrary to the Chalcedonian and Western usage. A second point is the way Aeurus understands phusisto mean that which is “by nature”. Christ, he says, is by nature God, not man; He became man only by “oikonomia ” (economy or Incarnation); consequently His Humanity is not His phusis. Taken thus, the formula mia phusis was intended by Allurus in an orthodox sense. Thirdly, the actions of Christ are attributed to His Divine Person, to the one Christ. Here Aelurus seems to be unorthodox. For the essence of Monothelism is the refusal to apportion the actions (energeiai) between the two natures, but to insist that they are all the actions of the one Personality. How far Aelurus was in reality a Monothelite cannot be judged until his works are before us in full. He is, at all events in the main, a schismatic, full of hatred and contempt for the Catholic Church outside Egypt, for the 600 bishops of Chalcedon, for the 1600 of the Encyclia, for Rome and the whole West. But he consistently anathematized Eutyches for his denial that Christ is consubstantial with us.
5. In the next generation Severus, Bishop of Antioch (511-39), was the great Monophysite leader. In his earlier days he rejected the Henoticon of Zeno, but when a patriarch he accepted it. His contemporaries accused him of contradicting himself in the attempt, it seems, to be comprehensive. He did not, however, conciliate the Incorrupticolse, but maintained the corruptibility of the Body of Christ. He seems to have admitted the expression ek duo phuseon. Chalcedon and Pope Leo he treated as Nestorian, as Aelurus did, on the ground that two natures mean two persons. He did not allow the Humanity to be a distinct monad; but this is no more than the view of many modern Catholic theologians that it has no esse of its own. (So St. Thomas, III, Q. xvii, a. 2; see Janssens, De Deohomine, pars prior, p. 607, Freiburg, 1901.) It need not be understood that by thus making a composite hypostasis Severus renounced the Cyrillian doctrine of the unchanged nature of the Word after the unconfused union. Where he is most certainly heretical is in his conception of one nature not Divine (so Cyril and Aelurus) but theandric, and thus a composition, though not a mixture—phusis theandrike. To this one nature are attributed all the activities of Christ, and they are called “theandric” (energeiai theandrikai), instead of being separated into Divine activities and human activities as by the Catholic doctrine. The undivided Word, he said, must have an undivided activity. Thus even if Severus could be defended from the charge of strict Monophysitism, in that he affirmed the full reality of the Human Nature of Christ, though he refused to it the name of nature, yet at least he appears as a dogmatic Monothelite. This is the more clear, in that on the crucial question of one or two wills, he pronounces for one theandric will. On the other hand utterances of Severus which make Christ’s sufferings voluntarily permitted, rather than naturally necessitated by the treatment inflicted on His Body, might perhaps be defended by the consideration that from the union and consequent Beatific Vision in the Soul of Christ, would congruously ensue a beatification of the Soul and a spiritualizing of the Body, as was actually the case after the Resurrection; from this point of view it is true that the passibility of the Humanity is voluntary (that is, decreed by the Divine will) and not due to it in the state which is connatural to it after the union; although the Human Nature is of its own nature passible apart from the union (St. Thomas, III, Q. xiv, a. 1, ad 2). It is important to recollect that the same distinction has to be made in considering whether the Body of Christ is to be called corruptible or incorruptible, and consequently whether Catholic doctrine on this point is in favor of Severus or of his adversary Julian. The words of St. Thomas may be borne in mind: “Corruptio et mors non competit Christo ratione suppositi, secundum quod attenditur unitas, sed ratione naturee, secundum quam invenitur differentia mortis et vitae” (III, Q. 1, a. 5, ad 2). As the Monophysites discussed the question ration suppositi (since they took nature to mean hypostasis, and to imply a soppositum) they were bound to consider the Body of Christ incorruptible. We must therefore consider the Julianists more consistent than the Severians.
6. Julian, Bishop of Halicarnassus, was the leader of those who held the incorruptibility, as Severus was of those who held the corruptibility. The question arose in Alexandria, and created great excitement, when the two bishops had taken refuge in that city, soon after the accession of the orthodox Emperor Justin, in 518. The Julianists called the Severians phthartolatrai or Corrupticol, and the latter retorted by entitling the Julians Aphthartodoketai, as renewing the Docetic heresies of the second century. In 537, the two parties elected rival patriarchs of Alexandria, Theodosius and Gaianas, after whom the Corrupticolae were known as Theodosians, and the Incorrupticolae as Gaianites. Julian considered, with some show of reason, that the doctrine of Severus necessitated the admission of two natures, and he was unjustly accused of Docetism and Manichaeanism, for he taught the reality of the Humanity of Christ, and made it incorruptible not formaliter quae human, but as united to the Word. His followers, however, split upon this question. One party admitted a potential corruptibility. Another party taught an absolute incorruptibility kata panta tropon, as flowing from the union itself. A third sect declared that by the union the Humanity obtained the prerogative of being uncreate; they were called Actistetae, and replied by denominating their opponents “Ctistolaters”, or worshippers of a creature. Heresies, after the analogy of low forms of physical life, tend to propagate by division. So Monophysitism showed its nature, once it was separated from the Catholic body. The Emperor Justinian, in 565, adopted the incorruptibilist view, and made it a law for all bishops. The troubles that arose in consequence, both in East and West, were calmed by his death in November of that year.
7. The famous Philoxenus or Xenaias (d. soon after 518), Bishop of Mabug (Mabbogh, Mambuce, or Hierapolis in Syria Euphratensis), is best known today by his Syriac version of the N. T., which was revised by Thomas of Harkel, and is known as the Harkleian or Philoxenian text. It is unfair of Hefele (Councils, tr. III, 459-60) to treat him as almost a Docetist. From what can be learned of his doctrines they were very like those of Severus and of 2Elurus. He was a Monophysite in words and a Monothelite in reality, for he taught that Christ had one will, an error which it was almost impossible for any Monophysite to avoid. But this mia phusis sunthetos was no doubt meant by him as equivalent to the hypostasis composita taught by St. Thomas. As Philoxenus taught that Christ’s sufferings were by choice, he must be placed on the side of the Julianists. He was careful to deny all confusion in the union, and all transformation of the Word.
8. Peter Fullo, Patriarch of Antioch (471-88), is chiefly famed in the realm of dogma for his addition to the Trisagion or Tersanctus, “Agios o Theos, Agios Ischyros, Agios Athanatos”, of the words “who wast crucified for us”. This is plain Patripassianism, so far as words go. It was employed by Peter as a test, and he excommunicated all who refused it. There is no possibility of explaining away this assertion of the suffering of the Divine Nature by the communicatio idiomatum, for it is not merely the Divine Nature (in the sense of hypostasis) of the Son which is said to have been crucified, but the words are attached to a three-fold invocation of the Trinity. Peter may therefore be considered as a full-blooded Monophysite, who carried the heresy to its extreme, so that it involved error as to the Trinity (Sabellianism) as well as with regard to the Incarnation. He did not admit the addition of the words “Christ our King” which his orthodox rival Calandio added to his formula. Some Scythian monks of Constantinople, led by John Maxentius, before the reconciliation with the West in 549, upheld the formula “one of the Trinity was crucified” as a test to exclude the heresy of Peter Fullo on the one hand and Nestorianism on the other. They were orthodox adherents of the Council of Chalcedon. Pope Hormisdas thought very badly of the monks, and would do nothing in approval of their formula. But it was approved by John II, in 534, and imposed under anathema by the Second Council of Constantinople in 553, which closed the so-called “Theopaschite” controversy.
9. We have further to catalogue a number of subdivisions of Monophysitism which pullulated in the sixth century. The Agnoetae were Corrupticolae., who denied completeness of knowledge to the Human Nature of Christ; they were sometimes called Themistians, from Themistus Calonymus, an Alexandrian deacon, their chief writer. They were excommunicated by the Patriarchs of Alexandria, Timotheus (d. 527) and Theodosius. Their views resemble the “Kenotic” theories of our own day. The Tritheists, or Tritheites, or Condobaudites, were founded by a Constantinopolitan philospher, John Asconagus, or Ascunaghes, at the beginning of the sixth century, but their principal teacher was John Philoponus, an Alexandrian philosopher, who died probably towards the end of that century. These heretics taught that there were three natures in the Holy Trinity, the three Persons being individuals of a species. A zealot of the sect was a monk Athanasius, grandson of the Empress Theodora, wife of Justinian. He followed the view of Theodosius, that the bodies to be given in the resurrection are new creations. Stephen Gobaras was another writer of this sect. Their followers were called Athanasians or Philoponiaci. Athanasius was opposed by Conon, Bishop of Tarsus (c. 600), who eventually anathematized his teacher Philoponus. The Cononites are said to have urged that, though the matter of the body is corruptible, its form is not. The Tritheites were excommunicated by the Jacobite Patriarch of Alexandria, Damian (577), who found the unity of God in a huparksis distinct from the three Persons, which he called autotheos. His disciples were taunted with believing in four Gods, and were nicknamed Tetradites, or Tetratheites, and also Damianists and Angelites. Peter Callinicus, Patriarch of Antioch (578-91), opposed them, and both he and Damian attacked the Alexandrian philosopher Stephen Niobes, founder of the Niobites, who taught that there was no distinction whatever between the Divine Nature and the Human after the Incarnation, and characterized the distinctions made by those who admitted only one nature as half-hearted. Many of his followers joined the Catholics, when they found themselves excommunicated by the Monophysites.
HISTORY.—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 Irenaeus of Tyre, Ibas of Edessa, and others (see Dioscurus). The trial of Eutyches, by St. Flavian at Constantinople, brought matters to a head (see Eutyches). Theodosius II convened an ecumenical council at Ephesus, in 449, over which Dioscurus, the real founder of Monophysitism as a sect, presided (see Robber Council of Ephesus). 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 (see Pope Leo I). 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 (see Council of Chalcedon). The pope’s view was assured of success beforehand 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 colorless document (no longer extant), using the words ek duo phuseon, 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 Anatolius 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 duo phusesin asunksutos, atreptos, adiairetos, achoristos gnorizomenon]; 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 peaceably 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 Aelurus, “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 Aelurus 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 Aelurus 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 Aelurus. 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 today, but in controversies with the Monophysites it was in those times of equal importance with the council itself, as its solemn ratification.
In the following year “Aelurus was exiled, but was recalled in 475 during the short reign of the Monophysite usurper Basiliscus. The Emperor Zeno spared Aelurus 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 (q.v.). 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 Pope Saint Gelasius I (q.v.). In 518, the orthodox Justin came to the throne, and reunion was consummated in the following year by him, with the active cooperation of his more famous nephew Justinian, to the great joy of the whole East. Pope Hormisdas (q.v.) 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 (q.v.) 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 possess 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 (q.v.) into the acceptance of the Second Council of Constantinople (q.v.), 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 Edessa (c. 541-78). (See Jacob Baradaeus.) In his earlier years a recluse in his monastery, when a bishop he spent his life travelling 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 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 connection 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.