Medieval Sourcebook: Council of Ephesus, 431
[Note: pagination of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers edition preserved]
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THE THIRD ECUMENICAL COUNCIL.
THE COUNCIL OF EPHESUS.
Emperors.--THEODOSIUS II. AND VALENTINIAN III.
Note on the Emperor's Edict to the Synod.
Extracts from the Acts, Session I.
St. Cyril's Letter to Nestorius, Intelligo quos dam.
Continuation of Session I.
Historical Introduction to Cyril's Anathematisms.
The Canonical Epistle of St. Cyril, Gum Salvator noster.
The XII. Anathematisms of St. Cyril, and Nestorius's Counter-anathematisms, with Notes.
Excursus to Anath. I., On the word
Excursus to Anath. IX,, On how our Lord worked Miracles, with Theodoret's Counter-statement.
Extracts from the Acts, Session I. continued.
Decree against Nestorius, with Notes.
Extracts from the Acts, Session II.
St. Celestine's Letter to the Synod.
Continuation of Session II.
The Canons, with the Ancient Epitome, and Notes.
Excursus to Canon j., On the Conciliabulum of John of Antioch.
Excursus to Canon iv., On Pelagianism.
Excursus to Canon vii., On the words
A Letter from the Synod to the Synod in Pamphylia.
The Letter of the Synod to Pope Celestine.
The Definition against the Messalians, with Notes.
The Decree re Euprepius and Cyril.
(Bossuet, Def. Cler. Gall., Lib. vij., Cap. ix. et seqq. Abridged.
Translation by Allies.)
The innovation of Nestorius, Bishop of Constantinople, is
known; how he divided into two the person of Christ. Pope St.
Celestine, watchful, according to his office, over the affairs
of the Church, had charged the blessed Cyril, Bishop of Alexandria,
to send him a certain report of the doctrine of Nestorius, already
in bad repute. Cyril declares this in his letter to Nestorius;
and so he writes to Celestine a complete account, and sets forth
the doctrines of Nestorius and his own; he sends him two letters
from him self to Nestorius, who likewise, by his own letters and
explanations, endeavoured to draw Celestine to his side. Thus
the holy Pontiff, having been most fully informed by letters from
both sides, is thus inquired of by Cyril. "We have not confidently
abstained from Communion with him (Nestorius) before informing
you of this; condescend, therefore, to unfold your judgment, that
we may clearly know whether we ought to communicate with him who
cherishes such erroneous doctrine." And he adds, that his
judgment should be written to the other Bishops also, "that
all with one mind may hold firm in one sentence." Here is
the Apostolic See manifestly consulted by so great a man, presiding
over the second, or at least the third, Patriarchal See, and its
judgment awaited; and nothing remained but that Celestine, being
duly consulted, should perform his Apostolic office. But how he
did this, the Acts have shewn. In those Acts he not only approves
the letters and doctrine of Cyril, but disapproves, too, the perverse
dogma of Nestorius, and that distinctly, because he was unwilling
to call the blessed Virgin Mother of God: and he decrees that
he should be deprived of the Episcopate and Communion unless,
within ten days from the date of the announcing of the sentence,
he openly rejects this faithless innovation, which endeavours
to separate what Scripture joineth together--that is, the Person
of Christ. Here is the doctrine of Nestorius expressly disapproved,
and a sentence of the Roman Pontiff on a matter of Faith most
clearly pronounced under threat of deposition and excommunication:
then, that nothing be wanting, the holy Pope commits his authority
to Cyril to carry into execution that sentence "associating,"
he saith to Cyril, "the authority of our See, and using our
person, and place, with power." So to Cyril; so to Nestorius
himself; so to the clergy of Constantinople; so to John of Antioch,
then the Bishop of the third or fourth Patriarchal See; so to
Juvenal, Bishop of the Holy City, whom the Council of Nice had
ordered to be especially honoured: so he writes to the other Bishops
also, that the sentence given may be duly and in order made known
to all. Cyril proceeds to execute his office, and performs all
that he had been commanded. He promulgates and executes the decrees
of Celestine; declares to Nestorius. that after the ten days prescribed
and set forth by Celestine, he would have no portion, intercourse,
or place with the priesthood. Nothing evidently is wanting to
the Apostolical authority being most fully exercised.
But Nestorius, bishop of the royal city, possessed such influence,
had deceived men's minds with such an appearance of piety, had
gained so many bishops and enjoyed such favour with the younger
Theodosius and the great men, that he could easily throw everything
into commotion; and thus there was need of an Ecumenical Council,
the question being most important, and the person of the highest
dignity; because many bishops, amongst these almost all of the
East--that is, of the Patriarchate of Antioch, and the Patriarch
John himself--were ill disposed to Cyril, and seemed to favour
Nestorius: because men's feelings were divided, and the whole
empire of the East seemed to fluctuate between Cyril and Nestorius.
Such was the need of an Ecumenical Council.
The Emperor, moved by these and other reasons, wrote to Cyril,--"It
is our will that the
holy doctrine be discussed and examined in a sacred Synod, and
that be ratified which appeareth agreeable to the fight faith,
whether the wrong party be pardoned by the Fathers or no."
Here we see three things: First, after the judgment of St.
Celestine, another is still required, that of the Council; secondly,
that these two things would rest with the Fathers, to judge of
doctrine and of persons; thirdly, that the judgment of the Council
would be decisive and final. He adds, "those who everywhere
preside over the Priesthood, and through whom we ourselves are
and shall be professing the truth, must be judges of this matter."
See on whose; faith we rest. See in whose judgment is the final
and irreversible authority.
Both the Emperor affirmed, and the bishops confessed, that
this was done according to the Ecclesiastical Canons. And so all,
and Celestine himself, prepared themselves for the Council. Cyril
does no more, though named by Celestine to execute the pontifical
decree, Nestorius remained in his original rank; the sentence
of the universal Council is awaited; and the Emperor had expressly
decreed, "that before the assembling and common sentence
of the most holy Council, no change should be made in any matter
at all, on any private authority." Rightly, and in order;
for this was demanded by the majesty of an universal Council.
Wherefore, both Cyril obeyed and the bishops rested. And it was
established, that although the sentence of the Roman Pontiff on
matters of Faith, and on persons judged for violation of the Faith,
had been passed and promulged, all was suspended, while the authority
of the universal Council was awaited.
Having gone over what preceded the Council, we review the
acts of the Council itself, and begin with the first course of
proceeding. After, therefore, the bishops and Nestorius himself
were come to Ephesus, the universal Council began, Cyril being
president, and representing Celestine, as being appointed by the
Pontiff himself to execute his sentence. In the first course of
proceeding this was done. First, the above-mentioned letter of
the Emperor was read, that an Ecumenical Council should be held,
and all proceedings in the mean time be suspended; this letter,
I say, was read, and placed on the Acts, and it was up-proved
by the Fathers, that all the decrees of Celestine in the matter
of Nestorius had been suspended until the holy Council should
give its sentence. You will ask if it was the will of the Council
merely that the Emperor should be allowed to prohibit, in the
interim, effect being given to the sentence of the Apostolic See.
Not so, according to the Acts; but rather, by the intervention
of a General Council's authority (the convocation of which, according
to the discipline of those times, was left to the Emperor), the
Council itself understood that all proceedings were of course
suspended, and depended on the sentence of the Council. Wherefore,
though the decree of the Pontiff had been promulged and notified,
and the ten days had long been past, Nestorius was held by the
Council itself to be a bishop, and called by the name of most
religious bishop, and by that name, too, thrice cited and summoned
to take his seat with the other bishops in the holy Council; for
this expression, "to take his seat," is distinctly written;
and it is added, "in order to answer to what was charged
against him." For it was their full purpose that he should
recognise in whatever way, the Ecumenical Council, as he would
then afterwards be, beyond doubt, answerable to it; but he refused
to come, and chose to have his doors besieged with an armed force,
that no one might approach him.
Thereupon, as the Emperor commanded, and the Canons required,
the rule of Faith was set forth, and the Nicene Creed read, as
the standard to which all should be referred, and then the letters
of Cyril and Nestorius were examined in order. The letter of Cyril
was first brought before the judgment of the Council. That letter,
I mean, concerning the Faith, to Nestorius, so expressly approved
by Pope Celestine, of which he had declared to Cyril, "We
see that you hold and maintain all that we hold and maintain";
which, by the decree against Nestorius, published to all Churches,
he had approved, and wishes to be considered as a canonical monition
against Nestorius: that letter, I repeat, was examine, at the
proposition of Cyril himself, in these words: "I am persuaded
that I have in nothing departed from the orthodox Faith, or the
Nicene Creed; wherefore I beseech your Holiness to set forth openly
whether I have written this correctly, blamelessly, and in accordance
with that holy Council."
And are there those who say that questions concerning the
Faith, once judged by the Roman Pontiff on his Apostolical authority,
are examined in general Councils, in order to understand their
contents, but, not to decide on their substance, as being still
a matter of question? Let them hear Cyril, the President of the
Council; let them attend to what he proposes for the inquiry of
the Council; and though he were conscious of no error in himself
yet, not to trust himself, he asked for the sentence of the Council
in these words-"whether I have written correctly and blamelessly,
or not." This Cyril, the chief of the Council, proposes for
their consideration. Who ever even heard it whispered that, after
a final and irreversible judgment of the Church on a matter of
Faith, any such inquiry or question was made? It was never done,
for that would be to doubt about the Faith itself, when declared
and discussed. But this was done after the judgment of Pope Celestine;
neither Cyril, nor anyone else, thought of any other course: that,
therefore, was not a final and irreversible judgment.
In answer to this question the Fathers in order give their
judgment --" that the Nicene Creed, and the letter of Cyril,
in all things agree and harmonise." Here is inquiry and examination,
and then judgment. The Acts speak for themselves -- we say not
here a word.
Next that letter of Nestorius was produced, which Celestine
had pronounced blasphemous and impious. It is read: then at the
instance of Cyril it is examined, "whether this, too, be
agreeable to the Faith set forth by the holy Council of the Nicene
Fathers, or not." It is precisely the same form according
to which Cyril's letter was examined. The Fathers, in order, give
judgment that it disagreed from the Nicene Creed, and was, therefore,
censurable. The letter of Nestorius is disapproved in the same
manner, by the same rule, by which that of Cyril was approved.
Here, twice in the same proceeding of the Council of Ephesus,
a judgment of the Roman Pontiff concerning the Catholic Faith,
uttered and published, is reconsidered. What he had approved,
and what he had disapproved, is equally examined, and, only after
In the mean time, the bishops Arcadius and Projectus, and
the presbyter Philip, had been chosen by Celestine to be present
at the Council of Ephesus, with a special commission from the
Apostolic See, and the whole Council of the West. So they come
from Rome to Ephesus, and appear at the holy Council, and here
the second procedure commences.
After reading the letter of Celestine, the Legates, in pursuance,
say to the bishops: "Let your Holiness consider the form
of the letters of the holy and venerable Pope Celestine the Bishop,
who hath exhorted your Holiness, not as instructing those who
are ignorant, but as reminding those who are aware: in order that
you may command to be completely and finally settled according
to the Canon of our common Faith, and the utility of the Catholic
Church, what he has before determined, and has now the goodness
to remind you of." This is the advantage of a Council; after
whose sentence there is no new discussion, or new judgment, but
merely execution. And this the Legates request to be commanded
by the Council, in which they recognise that supreme authority.
It behoved, also, that the Legates, sent to the Council on
a special mission, should understand whether the proceedings against
Nestorius had been pursued according to the requisition of the
Canons, and due respect to the Apostolic See. This we have already
said. Wherefore, with reason, they require the Acts to be communicated,
"that we, too," say they, "may confirm them."
The proceedings themselves will declare what that confirmation
means. After that, at the request of the Legates, the Acts against
Nestorius were given them, they thus report about them at the
third procedure: "We have found all things judged canonically,
and according to the Church's discipline." Therefore judgments
of the Apostolic See are canonically and, according to the Church's
discipline, reconsidered, after deliberation, in a General Council,
and judgment passed upon them. After the Legates had approved
the Acts against Nestorius communicated to them, they request
that all which had been read and done at, Ephesus from the beginning,
should be read afresh in public Session, "in order,"
they say, "that obeying the form of the most holy Pope Celestine,
who hath committed this care to us, we may be enabled to confirm
the judgment also of your Holiness." After these all had
been read afresh, and the Legates agreed to them, Cyril proposes
to the holy Council, "That the Legates, by their signature,
as was customary, should make plain and manifest their canonical
agreement with the Council." To this question of Cyril the
Council thus answers, and decrees that the Legates, by their subscription,
confirm the Acts; by which place tiffs confirmation, spoken of
by the Council, is clearly nothing else but to make their assent
plain and manifest, as Cyril proposed.
Finally, Celestine himself, after the conclusion of the whole
matter, sends a letter to the holy Council of Ephesus, which he
thus begins: "At length we must rejoice at the conclusion
of evils." The learned reader understands where he recognizes
the conclusion; that is, after the condemnation of Nestorius by
the infallible authority of an Ecumenical Council, viz., of the
whole Catholic Church. He proceeds: "We see, that you, with
us, have executed this matter so faithfully transacted."
All decree, and all execute, that is, by giving a common judgment.
Whence Celestine adds, "We have been informed of a just deposition,
and a still juster exaltation:" the deposition of Nestorius,
begun, indeed, by the Roman See, but brought to a conclusion by
the sentence of the Council; to a full and complete settlement,
as we have seen above: the exaltation of Maximianus, who was substituted
in place of Nestorius immediately after the Ephesine decrees;
this is the conclusion of the question. Even Celestine himself
recognises this conclusion to lie not in his own examination and
judgment, but in that of an Ecumenical Council. And this was done
in that Council in which it is admitted that the authority of
the Apostolic See was most clearly set forth, not only by words,
but by deeds, of any since the birth of Christ,. At least the
Holy Council gives credence to Philip uttering these true and
magnificent encomiums, concerning the dignity of the Apostolic
See, and "Peter the head and pillar of the Faith, and foundation
of the Catholic Church, and by Christ's authority administering
the keys, who to this very time lives ever, and exercises judgment,
in his successors." This, he says, after having seen all
the Acts of the Council itself, which we have mentioned, so that
we may indeed understand, that all these privileges of Peter and
the Apostolic See entirely agree with the decrees of the Council,
and the judgment entered into afresh, and deliberation upon matters
of Faith held after the Apostolic See.
NOTE ON THE EMPEROR'S EDICT TO THE SYNOD.
Neither of the Emperors could personally attend the Council
of Ephesus and accordingly Theodosius II. appointe+d the Count
Candidian, Captain of the imperial bodyguard, the protector of
the council, to sit in the room of the Emperors. In making this
appointment he addressed an edict to the synod which will be found
in the Concilia and of which Hefele gives the following synopsis.
(Hefele, Hist. of the Councils, Vol. III., p. 43.)
Candidian is to take no immediate part in the discussions
on contested points of faith, for it is not becoming that one
who does not belong to the number of the bishops should mix himself
up in the examination and decision of theological controversies.
On the contrary, Candidian was to remove from the city the monks
and laymen who had come or should afterwards come to Ephesus out
of curiosity, so that disorder and confusion should not be caused
by those who were in no way needed for the examination of the
sacred doctrines. He was, besides, to watch lest the discussions
among the members of the Synod themselves should degenerate into
violent disputes and hinder the more exact investigation of truth;
and, on the contrary, see that every statement should be heard
with attention, and that every one put forward in view, or his
objections, without let or hindrance, so that at last an unanimous
decision might be arrived at in peace by the holy Synod. But above
all, Candidian was to take care that no member of the Synod should
attempt, before the close of the transactions, to go home, or
to the court, or elsewhere. Moreover, he was not to allow that
any other matter of controversy should be taken into consideration
before the settlement of the principal point of doctrine before
EXTRACTS FROM THE ACTS.
SESSION I. [Before the arrival of the Papal Legates.] (Labbe and
Cossart, Concilia Tom. III., col. 459 et seqq.)
The Nicene Synod set forth this faith: We believe in one God,
When this creed had been recited, Peter the Presbyter of Alexandria,
and primicerius of the notaries said:
We have in our hands the letter of the most holy and most
reverend archbishop Cyril, which he wrote to the most reverend
Nestorius, filled with counsel and advice, on account of his aberration
from the right faith. I will read this if your holiness [i.e.,
the holy Synod] so orders. The letter began as follows:
Intelligo quosdam meae, etc.
THE EPISTLE OF CYRIL TO NESTORIUS.
(Labbe and Cossart, Concilia, Tom. III., col. 315; Migne,
Patr. Groec., Tom. LXXVII. [Cyril., Opera, Tom. X.]; Epist. iv.,
To the most religious and beloved of God, fellow minister
Nestorius, Cyril sends greeting in the Lord.
I hear that some are rashly talking of the estimation in which
I hold your holiness, and that this is frequently the case especially
at the times that meetings are held of those in authority. And
perchance they think in so doing to say something agreeable to
you, but they speak senselessly, for they have suffered no injustice
at my hands, but have been exposed by me only to their profit;
this man as an oppressor of the blind and needy, and that as one
who wounded his mother with a sword. Another because he stole,
in collusion with his waiting maid, another's money, and had always
laboured under the imputation of such like crimes as no one would
wish even one of his bitterest enemies to be laden with.' I take
little reckoning of the words of such people, for the disciple
is not above his Master, nor would I stretch the measure of my
narrow brain above the Fathers, for no matter what path of life
one pursues it is hardly possible to escape the smirching of the
wicked, whose months are full of cursing and bitterness, and who
at the last must give an account to the Judge of all.
But I return to the point which especially I had in mind.
And now I urge you, as a brother in the Lord, to propose the word
of teaching and the doctrine of the faith with all accuracy to
the people, and to consider that the giving of scandal to one
even of the least of those who believe in Christ, exposes a body
to the unbearable indignation of God. And of how great diligence
and skill there is need when the multitude of those grieved is
so great, so that we may administer the healing word of truth
to them that seek it. But this we shall accomplish most excellently
if we shall turn over the words of the holy Fathers, and are zealous
to obey their commands, proving ourselves, whether we be in the
faith according to that which is written, and conform our thoughts
to their upright and it-reprehensible teaching.
The holy and great Synod therefore says, that the only begotten
Son, born according to nature of God the Father, very God of very
God, Light of Light, by whom the Father made all things, came
down, and was incarnate, and was made man, suffered, and rose
again the third day, and ascended into heaven. These words and
these decrees we ought to follow, considering what is me. ant
by the Word of God being incarnate and made man. For we do not
say that the nature of the Word was changed and became flesh,
or that it was
converted into a whole man consisting of soul and body; but rather
that the Word having personally united to himself flesh animated
by a rational soul, did in an ineffable and inconceivable manner
become man, and was called the Son of Man, not merely as willing
or being pleased to be so called, neither on account of taking
to himself a person, but because the two natures being brought
together in a true union, there is of both one Christ and one
Son; for the difference of the natures is not taken away by the
union, but rather the divinity and the humanity make perfect for
us the one Lord Jesus Christ by their ineffable and inexpressible
union. So then he who had an existence before all ages and was
born of the Father, is said to have been born according to the
flesh of a woman, not as though his divine nature received its
beginning of existence in the holy Virgin, for it needed not any
second generation after that of the Father (for it would be absurd
and foolish to say that he who existed before all ages, coeternal
with the Father, needed any second beginning of existence), but
since, for us and for our salvation, he personally united to himself
an human body, and came forth of a woman, he is in this way said
to be born after the flesh; for the was not first born a common
man of the holy Virgin, and then the Word came down and entered
into him, but the union being made in the womb itself, he is said
to endure a birth after the flesh, ascribing to himself the birth
of his own flesh. On this account we say that he suffered and
rose again; not as if God the Word suffered in his own nature
stripes, or the piercing of the nails, or any other wounds, for
the Divine nature is incapable of suffering, inasmuch as it is
incorporeal, but since that which had become his own body suffered
in this way, lie is also said to suffer for us; for he who is
in himself incapable of suffering was in a suffering body. In
the same manner also we conceive respecting his dying; for the
Word of God is by nature immortal and incorruptible, and life
and life-giving; since, however, his own body did, as Paul says,
by the grace of God taste death for every man, he himself is said
to have suffered death for us, not as if he had any experience
of death in his own nature (for it would be madness to say or
think this), but because, as I have just said, his flesh tasted
death. In like manner his flesh being raised again, it is spoken
of as his resurrection, not as if tie had fallen into corruption
(God forbid), but because his own body was raised again. We, therefore,
confess one Christ and Lord, not as worshipping. a man with the
Word (lest this expression "with the Word" should suggest
to the mind the idea of division), but worshipping him as one
and the same, forasmuch as the body of the Word, with which he
sits with the Father, is not separated from the Word himself,
not as if two sons were sitting with him, but one by the union
with the flesh. If, however, we reject the personal union as impossible
or unbecoming, we fall into the error of speaking of two sons,
for it will be necessary to distinguish, and to say, that he who
was properly man was honoured with the appellation of Son, and
that he who is properly the Word of God, has by nature both the
name and the reality of Sonship. We must not, therefore, divide
the one Lord Jesus Christ into two Sons. Neither will it at all
avail to a sound faith to hold, as some do, an union of persons;
for the Scripture has not said that the Word united to himself
the person of man, but that he was made flesh. This expression,
however, "the Word was made flesh," can mean nothing
else but that he partook of flesh and blood like to us; he made
our body his own, and came forth man from a woman, not casting
off his existence as God, or his generation of God the Father,
but even in taking to himself flesh remaining what he was. This
the declaration of the correct faith proclaims everywhere. This
was the sentiment of the holy Fathers; therefore they ventured
to call the holy Virgin, the Mother of God, not as if the nature
of the Word or his divinity had its beginning from the holy Virgin,
but because of her was born that holy body with a rational soul,
to which the Word being personally united is said to be born according
to the flesh. These things, therefore, I now write unto you for
the love of Christ, beseeching you as a brother, and testifying
to you before Christ and the elect angels, that you would both
think and teach these things with us, that the peace of the Churches
may be preserved and the bond of concord and love continue unbroken
amongst the Priests of God.
EXTRACTS FROM THE ACTS.
SESSION I. (CONTINUED).
(Labbe and Cossart, Concilia, Tom. III., col. 462.)
And after the letter was read, Cyril, the bishop of Alexandria,
said: This holy and great Synod has heard what I wrote to the
most religious Nestorius, defending the right faith. I think that
I have in no respect departed from the true statement of the faith,
that is from the creed set forth by the holy and great synod formerly
assembled at Nice. Wherefore I desire your holiness [i.e. the
Council] to say whether rightly and blamelessly and in accordance
with that holy synod I have written these things or no.
[A number of bishops then gave their opinion, all favourable
to Cyril; after these individual opinions the Acts continue (col.
And all the rest of the bishops in the order of their rank
deposed to the same things, and so believed, according as the
Fathers had set forth, and as the Epistle of the most holy Archbishop
Cyril to Nestorius the bishop declared.
Palladius, the bishop of Amused, said, The next thing to be
done is to read the letter of the most reverend Nestorius, of
which the most religious presbyter Peter made mention; so that
we may understand whether or no it agrees with the exposition
of the Nicene fathers. ...
And after this letter was read, Cyril, the bishop of Alexandria,
said, What seems good to this holy and great synod with regard
to the letter just read? Does it also seem to be consonant to
the faith set forth by the holy Synod assembled in the city of
[The bishops, then as before, individually express their opinion,
and at last the Acts continue (col. 502):]
All the bishops cried out together: Whoever does not anathematize
Nestorius let him be anathema. Such an one the right faith anathematizes;
such an one the holy Synod anathematizes. Whoever communicates
with Nestorius let him be anathema! We anathematize all the apostles
of Nestorius: we all anathematize Nestorius as a heretic: let
all such as communicate with Nestorius be anathema, etc., etc.
Juvenal, the bishop of Jerusalem said: Let the letter of the
most holy and reverend Coelestine, archbishop of the Church of
Rome, be read, which he wrote concerning the faith.
[The letter of Coelestine was read and no opinion expressed.]
Peter the presbyter of Alexandria, and primicerius of the
notaries said: Altogether in agreement with the things just read
are those which his holiness Cyril our most pious bishop wrote,
which I now have at hand, and will read if your piety so shall
[The letter was read which begins thus:]
Cum Salvator noster, etc.
HISTORICAL INTRODUCTION TO ST. CYRIL'S ANATHEMATISMS.
There has been some difference of opinion among the learned
as to whether St. Cyril's Synodal letter which has at its end
the anathemas against Nestorius, which hereafter follow, was formally
approved at the Council of Ephesus. The matter is one only of
archeological and historical interest for from a theological point
of view the question is entirely uninteresting, since there is
no possible doubt that the synod endorsed St. Cyril's teaching
and for that express reason proceeded at their first session to
excommunicate Nestorius. Further there is no one that disputes
that the anathematisms were received at the next General Council.
i.e., of Chalcedon, only twenty years later, and that Theodoret
was condemned by the Fifth Ecumenical Council because he wrote
against these very Anathemas. This being
the case, to those who value the decrees of Ecumenical Councils
because of their ecumenical character, it is quite immaterial
whether these anathematisms were received and approved by the
third Council or no, provided, which is indisputably the case,
they have been approved by some one council of ecumenical authority,
so as to become thereby part and parcel of the ecumenical faith
of the Church.
But the historical question is one of some interest, and I
shall very briefly consider it. We have indeed the "Acta"
of this council, but I cannot but agree with the very learned
Jesuit Petavius and the Gallican Tillemont in thinking them in
a very unsatisfactory condition. I am fully aware of the temerity
of making such a suggestion, but I cannot help feeling that in
the remarks of the Roman representatives, especially in those
of the presbyter-legate, there is some anachronism. Be this as
it may, it is a fact that the Acts do not recite that this letter
of Cyril's was read, nor do they state that the Anathemas were
received. I would suggest, however, that for those who defend
John of Antioch, and criticise the action of St. Cyril, it is
the height of inconsistency to deny that the Council adopted the
Anathemas. If it was the bitterly partisan assembly that they
would have us believe, absolutely under the control of Cyril,
there is nothing that,
would have been more sure to do than adopt the Anathemas which
were universally looked upon as the very fulcrum on which the
whole matter turned.
Bishop Hefele was at first of opinion that the letter was
merely read, being led to this conclusion by the silence of the
Acts with regard to any acceptance of it, and indeed at first
wrote on that side, but he afterwards saw grounds to change his
mind and expresses them with his usual clearness, in the following
(Hefele, Hist. of Councils. Vol. III., p. 48, note 2.)
We were formerly of opinion that these anathematisms were
read at Ephesus, but not expressly confirmed, as there is hardly
anything on the subject in the Acts. But in the Fifth Ecumenical
Council (collatio vj.) it is said: "The holy Council at Chalcedon
approved this teaching of Cyril of blessed memory, and received
his Synodical letters, to one of which are appended the xij. anathemas"
(Mansi, t. ix., p. 341; Hardouin, t. iij., p. 167). If, however,
the anathematisms of Cyril were expressly confirmed at Chalcedon,
there was even more reason for doing so at Ephesus. And Ibas,
in his well-known letter to Maris, says expressly that the Synod
of Ephesus confirmed the anathematisms of Cyril, and the same
was asserted even by the bishops of Antioch at Ephesus in a letter
to the Emperor.
From all these considerations it would seem that Tillemont's(1)
conclusion is well rounded that the Synod certainly discussed
the anathemas of Cyril in detail, but that here, as in many other
places, there are parts of the Acts lacking. I shall add the opinion
(Petavius, De Incarnatione, Lib. VI., cap. xvij.)
The Acts do not tell us what judgment the Synod of Ephesus
gave with respect to the third letter of Cyril, and with regard
to the anathemas attached to it. But the Acts in other respects
also have not come down to us in their integrity. That that third
letter was received and approved by the Ephesine Council there
can be no doubt, and this the Catholics shewed in their dispute
with the Acephali in the Collation held at Constantinople under
the Emperor Justinian in the year of Christ 811. For at that memorable
meeting some-tiring was shewn forth concerning this letter and
its anathemas, which has a connexion with the matter in hand,
and therefore must not be omitted. At that meeting the Opposers,
that is the Acephali, the enemies of the Council of Chalcedon,
made this objection against that
Council: "The [letter] of the Twelve Anathemas which is inserted
in the holy Council of Ephesus, and which you cannot deny to be
synodical, why did not Chalcedon receive it?" etc., etc.
From this it is evident that the prevailing opinion, then
as now, was that the Twelve Anathemas were defined as part of
the faith by the Council of Ephesus. Perhaps I may close this
treatment of the subject in the words of Denziger, being the caption
he gives the xij. Anathematisms in his Enchiridion, under "Decrees
of the Third Ecumenical Council, that of Ephesus." "The
Third Synod received these anathematisms; the Fourth Synod placed
them in its Acts and styled the Epistles of Cyril 'Canonical';
the Fifth Synod defended them."
THE EPISTLE OF CYRIL TO NESTORIUS WITH THE XII. ANATHEMATISMS.
(Labbe and Cossart, Concilia, Tom. III., col. 395; Migne,
Parr. Groec., Tom. LXXVII. [Cyril, Opera, Tom. X.], col. 105 et
To the most reverend and God-loving fellow-minister Nestorius,
Cyril and the synod assembled in Alexandria, of the Egyptian Province,
Greeting in the Lord.
When our Saviour says clearly: "He that loveth father
or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth
son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me," what is
to become of us, from whom your Holiness requires that we love
you more than Christ the Saviour of us all? Who can help us in
the day of judgment, or what kind of excuse shall we find for
thus keeping silence so long, with regard to the blasphemies made
by you against him? If you injured yourself alone, by teaching
and holding such things, perhaps it would be less matter; but
you have greatly scandalized the whole Church, and have cast among
the people the leaven of a strange and new heresy. And not to
those there [i.e. at Constantinople] on]y; but also to those everywhere
[the books of your explanation were sent]. How can we any longer,
under these circumstances, make a defence for our silence, or
how shall we not be forced to remember that Christ said: "Think
not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send
peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against
his father, and the daughter against her mother." For if
faith be injured, let there be lost the honour due to parents,
as stale and tottering, let even the law of tender love towards
children and brothers be silenced, let death be better to the
pious than living; "that they might obtain a better resurrection,"
as it is written.
Behold, therefore, how we, together with the holy synod which
met in great Rome, presided over by the most holy and most reverend
brother and fellow-minister, Celestine the Bishop, also testify
by this third letter to you, and counsel you to abstain from these
mischievous and distorted dogmas, which you hold arid teach, and
to receive the right faith, handed down to the churches from the
beginning through the holy Apostles and Evangelists, who "were
eye-witnesses, and ministers of the Word." And if your holiness
have not a mind to this according to the limits defined in the
writings of our brother of blessed memory and most reverend fellow-minister
Celestine, Bishop of the Church of Rome, be well assured then
that you have no lot with us, nor place or standing (
among the priests and bishops of God. For it is not possible for
us to overlook the churches thus troubled, and the people scandalized,
and the right faith set aside, and the sheep scattered by you,
who ought to save them, if indeed we are ourselves adherents of
the right faith, and followers of the devotion of the holy fathers.
And we are in communion with all those laymen and clergymen cast
out or deposed by your holiness on account of the faith; for
it is not right that those, who resolved to believe rightly, should
suffer by your choice; for they do well in opposing you. This
very thing you have mentioned in your epistle written to our most
holy and fellow-bishop Celestine of great Rome.
But it would not be sufficient for your reverence to confess
with us only tile sym-
bol of the faith set out some time ago by the Holy Ghost at the
great and holy synod convened in Nice: for you have not held and
interpreted it rightly, but rather perversely; even though you
confess with your voice the form of words. But in addition, in
writing and by oath, you must confess that you also anathematize
those polluted and unholy dogmas of yours, and that you will hold
and teach that which we all, bishops, teachers, and leaders of
the people both East and West, hold. The holy synod of Rome and
we all agreed on the epistle written to your Holiness from the
Alexandrian Church as being right and blameless. We have added
to these our own letters and that which it is necessary for you
to hold and teach, and what you should be careful to avoid. Now
this is the Faith of the Catholic and Apostolic Church to which
all Orthodox Bishops, both East and West, agree:
"We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of
all things visible and invisible, and in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the Only-begotten Son of God, begotten of his Father, that is,
of the substance of the Father; God of God, Light of Light, Very
God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with
the Father, by whom all things were made, both those in heaven
and those in the earth. Who for us men and for our salvation,
came down, and was incarnate, and was made man. He suffered, and
rose again the third day. He ascended into the heavens, from thence
he shall come to judge both the quick and tile dead. And in the
Holy Ghost: But those that say, There was a time when he was not,
and, before he was begotten he was not, and that he was made of
that which previously was not, or that he was of some other substance
or essence; and that the Son of God was capable of change or alteration;
those the Catholic and Apostolic Church anathematizes."
Following in all points the confessions of the Holy Fathers
which they made (the Holy Ghost speaking in them), and following
the scope of their opinions, and going, as it were, in the royal
way, we confess that the Only begotten Word of God, begotten of
the same substance of the Father, True God from True God, Light
from Light, through Whom all things were made, the things in heaven
and the things in the earth, coming down for our salvation, making
himself of no reputation (
was incarnate and made man; that is, taking flesh of the holy
Virgin, and having made it his own from the womb, he subjected
himself to birth for us, and came forth man from a woman, without
casting off that which he was; but although he assumed flesh and
blood, he remained what he was, God in essence and in truth. Neither
do we say that his flesh was changed into the nature of divinity,
nor that the ineffable nature of the Word of God has laid aside
for the nature of flesh; for he is unchanged and absolutely unchangeable,
being the same always, according to the Scriptures. For although
visible and a child in swaddling clothes, and even in the bosom
of his Virgin Mother, he filled all creation as God, and was a
fellow-ruler with him who begat him, for the Godhead is without
quantity and dimension, and cannot have limits.
Confessing the Word to be made one with the flesh according
to substance, we adore one Son and Lord Jesus Christ: we do not
divide the God from the man, nor separate him into parts, as though
the two natures were mutually united in him only through a sharing
of dignity and authority (for that is a novelty and nothing else),
neither do we give separately to the Word of God the name Christ
and the same name separately to a different one born of a woman;
but we know only one Christ, the Word from God the Father with
his own Flesh. For as man he was anointed with us, although it
is he himself who gives the Spirit to those who are worthy and
not in measure, according to the saying of the blessed Evangelist
But we do not say that the Word of God dwelt in him as in
a common man born of the holy Virgin, lest Christ be thought of
as a God-bearing man; for although the Word tabernacled among
us, it is also said that in Christ "dwelt all the fulness
of the Godhead bodily"; but we understand that be became
flesh, not just as he is said to dwell in the saints, but we define
that that tabernacling in him was according to equality (
). But being made one
,(1) and not converted into flesh,
he made his indwell-
ing in such a way, as we may say that the soul of man does in
his own body.
One therefore is Christ both Son and Lord, not as if a man
had attained only such a conjunction with God as consists in a
unity(1) of dignity alone or of authority. For it is not equality
of honour which unites natures; for then Peter and John, who were
of equal honour with each other, being both Apostles and holy
disciples [would have been one, and], yet the two are not one.
Neither do we understand the manner of conjunction to be apposition,
for this does not suffice for natural oneness (
Nor yet according to relative participation, as we are also joined
to the Lord, as it is written "we are one Spirit in him."
Rather we deprecate the term of "junction" (
as not having sufficiently signified the oneness. But we do not
call the Word of God the Father, the God nor the Lord of Christ,
lest we openly cut in two the one Christ, the Son and Lord, and
fall under the charge of blasphemy, making him the God and Lord
of himself. For the Word of God, as we have said already, was
made hypostatically one in flesh, yet he is God of all and he
rules all; but he is not the slave of himself, nor his own Lord.
For it is foolish, or rather impious, to think or teach thus.
For he said that God was his Father, although he was God by nature,
and of his substance. Yet we are not ignorant that while he remained
God, he also became man and subject to God, according to the law
suitable to the nature of the manhood. But how could he become
the God or Lord of himself? Consequently as man, and with regard
to the measure of his humiliation, it is said that he is equally
with us subject to God; thus he became under the Law, although
as God he spake the Law and was the Law-giver.
We are careful also how we say about Christ: "I worship
the One clothed on account of the One clothing him, and on account
of the Unseen, I worship the Seen." It is horrible to say
in this connexion as follows: "The assumed as well as the
assuming have the name of God."
For the saying of this divides again Christ into two, and puts
the man separately by himself and God also by himself. For this
saying denies openly the Unity according to which one is not worshipped
in the other, nor does God exist together with the other; but
Jesus Christ is considered as One, the Only-begotten Son, to be
honoured with one adoration together with his own flesh.
We confess that he is the Son, begotten of God the Father,
and Only-begotten God; and although according to his own nature
he was not subject to suffering, yet he suffered for us in the
flesh according to the Scriptures, and although impassible, yet
in his Crucified Body he made his own the sufferings of his own
flesh; and by the grace of God he tasted death for all: he gave
his own Body thereto, although he was by nature himself the life
and the resurrection, in order that, having trodden down death
by his unspeakable power, first in his own flesh, he might become
the first born from the dead, and the first-fruits of them that
slept. And that he might make a way for the nature of man to attain
incorruption, by the grace of God (as we just now said), he tasted
death for every man, and after three days rose again, having despoiled
hell. So although it is said that the resurrection of the dead
was through man, yet we understand that man to have been the Word
of God, and the power of death was loosed through him, and he
shall come in the fulness of time as the One Son and Lord, in
the glory of the Father, in order to judge the world in righteousness,
as it is written.
We will necessarily add this also. Proclaiming the death,
according to the flesh, of the Only-begotten Son of God, that
is Jesus Christ, confessing his resurrection from the dead, and
his ascension into heaven, we offer the Unbloody Sacrifice in
the churches, and so go on to the mystical thanksgivings, and
are sanctified, having received his Holy Flesh and the Precious
Blood of Christ the Saviour of us all. And not as common flesh
do we receive it; God forbid: nor as of a man sanctified and as
sociated with the Word according to the unity of worth, or as
having a divine indwelling, but as truly the Life-giving and very
flesh of the Word himself. For he is the Life according to his
nature as God, and when he became united to his Flesh, he made
it also to be Life-giving, as also he said to us: Verily, verily,
I say unto
you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood.
For we must not think that it is flesh of a man like us (for how
can the flesh of man be life-giving by its own nature?) but as
having become truly the very own of him who for us both became
and was called Son of Man. Besides, what the Gospels say our Saviour
said of himself, we do not divide between two hypostases or persons.
For neither is he, the one and only Christ, to be thought of as
double, although of two (
and they diverse, yet he has joined them in an indivisible union,
just as everyone knows a man is not double although made up of
soul and body, but is one of both. Wherefore when thinking rightly,
we transfer the human and the divine to the same person (
For when as God he speaks about himself: "He who hath
seen me hath seen the Father," and "I and my Father
are one," we consider his ineffable divine nature according
to which he is One with his Father through the identity of essence--"The
image and impress and brightness of his glory." But when
not scorning the measure of his humanity, he said to the Jews:
"But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the
truth." Again no less than before we recognize that he is
the Word of God from his identity and likeness to the Father and
from the circumstances of his humanity. For if it is necessary
to believe that being by nature God, he became flesh, that is,
a man endowed with a reasonable soul, what reason can certain
ones have to be ashamed of this language about him, which is suitable
to him as man? For if he should reject the words suitable to him
as man, who compelled him to become man like us? And as he humbled
himself to a voluntary abasement (
for us, for what cause can any one reject the words suitable to
such abasement? Therefore all the words which are read in the
Gospels are to be applied to One Person, to One hypostasis of
the Word Incarnate. For the Lord Jesus Christ is One, according
to the Scriptures, although he is called "the Apostle and
High Priest of our profession," as offering to God and the
Father the confession of faith which we make to him, and through
him to God even the Father and also to the Holy Spirit; yet we
say he is, according to nature, the Only-begotten of God. And
not to any man different from him do we assign the name of priesthood,
and the thing, for be became "the Mediator between God and
men," and a Reconciler unto peace, having offered himself
as a sweet smelling savour to God and the Father. Therefore also
he said: "Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not; but a
body hast thou prepared me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices
for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in
the volume of the book it is written of me) to do thy will, O
God." For on account of us he offered his body as a sweet
smelling savour, and not for himself; for what offering or sacrifice
was needed for himself, who as God existed above all sins? For
"all have sinned and come short of the glory of God,"
so that we became prone to fall, and the nature of man has fallen
into sin, yet not so he (and therefore we fall short of his glory).
How then can there be further doubt that the true Lamb died for
us and on our account? And to say that he offered himself for
himself and us, could in no way escape the charge of impiety.
For he never committed a fault at all, neither did he sin. What
offering then did he need, not having sin for which sacrifices
are rightly offered? But when he spoke about the Spirit, he said:
"He shall glorify me." If we think rightly, we do not
say that the One Christ and Son as needing glory from another
received glory from the Holy Spirit; for neither greater than
he nor above him is his Spirit, but because he used the Holy Spirit
to show forth Iris own divinity in his mighty works, therefore
he is said to have been glorified by him just as if any one of
us should say concerning his inherent strength for example, or
Iris knowledge of anything, "They glorified me."For
although the Spirit is the same essence, yet we think of him
by himself, as he is the Spirit and not the Son; but he is not
different from him; for he is called the Spirit of truth and Christ
is the Truth, and he is sent by him, just as, moreover, he is
from God and the Father. When then the Spirit worked miracles
through the hands of the holy apostles after the Ascension of
Our Lord Jesus Christ into heaven, he glorified him. For it is
believed that he who works through his own Spirit is God according
to nature. Therefore he said: "He shall receive of mine,
and shall shew it
unto you." But we do not say this as if the Spirit is wise
and powerful through some sharing with another; for he is all
perfect and in need of no good thing. Since, therefore, he is
the Spirit of the Power and Wisdom of the Father (that is, of
the Son), he is evidently Wisdom and Power.
And since the holy Virgin brought forth corporally God made
one with flesh according to nature, for this reason we also call
her Mother of God, not as if the nature of the Word had the beginning
of its existence from the flesh.
For "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was
God, and the Word was with God," and he is the Maker of the
ages, coeternal with the Father, and Creator of all; but, as we
have already said, since he united to himself hypostatically human
nature from her womb, also he subjected himself to birth as man,
not as needing necessarily in his own nature birth in time and
in these last times of the world, but in order that he might bless
the beginning of our existence, and that that which sent the earthly
bodies of our whole race to death, might lose its power for the
future by his being born of a woman in the flesh. And this: "In
sorrow thou shalt bring forth children," being removed through
him, he showed the truth of that spoken by the prophet,"
Strong death swallowed them up, and again God hath wiped away
every tear from off all faces."(1) For this cause also we
say that he attended, having been called, and also blessed, the
marriage in Cana of Galilee, with his holy Apostles in accordance
with the economy. We have been taught to hold these things by
the holy Apostles and Evangelists, and all the God-inspired Scriptures,
and in the true confessions of the blessed Fathers.
To all these your reverence also should agree, and give heed,
without any guile. And what it is necessary your reverence should
anathematize we have subjoined to our epistle.(2)
THE XII. ANATHEMATISMS OF ST. CYRIL AGAINST NESTORIUS.
(Found in St. Cyril's Opera. Migne, Pat. Graec, Tom. LXXVII.,
Col. 119; and the Concilia.)
IF anyone will not confess that the Emmanuel is very God,
and that therefore the Holy Virgin is the Mother of God (
inasmuch as in the flesh she bore the Word of God made flesh [as
it is written, "The Word was made flesh">: let him
THE ANATHEMATISMS OF THE HERETIC NESTORIUS AGAINST CYRIL.
(Found best in Migne's edition of Marius Mercator.)
If anyone says that the Emmanuel is true God, and not rather
God with us, that is, that he has united himself to a like nature
with ours, which he assumed from the Virgin Mary, and dwelt in
it; and if anyone calls Mary the mother of God the Word, and not
rather mother of him who is Emmanuel; and if he maintains that
God the Word has changed himself into the flesh, which he only
assumed in order to make his Godhead visible, and to be found
in form as a man, let him be anathema.
(De Incarnatione, Lib. vj. cap. xvij.)
In this anathematism certain words are found in the Greek
copy of Dionysius which are lacking in the ordinary copies, viz.
"according as it is written, 'And the Word was made flesh';"
unless forsooth Dionysius supplied them of his own authority.
For in the Lateran Synod in the time of Martin I. this anathematism
was quoted without the appended words.
This anathematism breaks to pieces the chief strength of the
Nestorian impiety For it sets forth two facts. The one that the
Emmanuel, that is he who was born of a woman and dwelt with us,
is God: the other, that Mary who bare such an one is Mother of
God. That Christ is God is clearly proved from the Nicene Creed,
and he shews that the same that was in the beginning the Son of
God, afterwards took flesh and was born of Mary, without any change
or confusion of natures.
St. Cyril explains that by
carnaliter, he meant nothing else than
, secundum carnem, "according
to the flesh." And it was necessary to use this expression
to overthrow the perfidy of Nestorius; so that we may understand
that the most holy Virgin was the parent not of a simple and bare
man, but of God the Word, not in that he was God, but in that
he had taken flesh. For God the Father was the parent of the same
(2) (divinely) as his mother
(after the flesh). And
the word (
) in no degree lessens
the dignity of his begetting and bringing forth; for it shews
that his flesh was not simulated or shadowed forth; but true and
like to ours. Amphilochius distinctly uses the word, saying "Except
he had been born carnally (
never wouldest thou have been born spiritually (
Cf. St. Gregory Nazianzen (Orat. 51).
Theodoret misunderstood St. Cyril to teach in this first anathematism
that the Word was changed into the flesh he assumed. But Cyril
rightly treated this whole accusation as a foolish calumny.
EXCURSUS ON THE WORD
There have been some who have tried to reduce all the great
theological controversies on the Trinity and on the Incarnation
to mere logomachies, and have jeered at those who could waste
their time and energies over such trivialities. For example, it
has been said that the
real difference between Arius and Athanasius was nothing more
nor less than an iota, and that even Athanasius himself, in his
more placid, and therefore presumably more rational moods, was
willing to hold communion with those who differed from him and
who still rejected the homousion. But however catching and brilliant
such remarks may be, they lack all solid foundation in truth.
It is perfectly manifest that a person so entirely lacking in
discrimination as not to see the enormous difference between identity
and likeness is not one whose opinion on such a point can be of
much value. A brilliant historian is not necessarily an accurate
historian, far less need he be a safe guide in matters of theological
A similar attempt to reduce to a logomachy the difference
between the Catholic faith and Nestorianism has been made by some
writers of undoubted learning among Protestants, notably by Fuchs
and Schrockh. But as in the case of the homousios so, too, in
the case of the theotocos the word expresses a great, necessary,
and fundamental doctrine of the Catholic faith. It is not a matter
of words, but of things, and the mind most unskilled in theology
cannot fail to grasp the enormous difference there is between
affirming, as does Nestorianism, that a God indwelt a man with
a human personality of his own distinct from the personality of
the indwelling god; and that God assumed to himself human nature,
that is a human body and a human soul, but without human personality.
(Wm. Bright, St. Leo on the Incarnation, pp. 160, 161.)
It is, then, clear that the question raised by the wide circulation
of the discourses of Nestorius as archbishop of Constantinople
was not verbal, but vital. Much of his language was irrelevant,
and indicated some confusedness of thought: much would, of itself,
admit of an orthodox construction; in one of the latest of his
sermons, which Garnier dates on Sunday, December 14, 430, he grants
that "Theotocos" might be used as signifying that "the
temple which was formed in Mary by the Holy Spirit was united
to the Godhead;" but it was impossible not to ask whether
by "the temple" he meant the body of Jesus, or Jesus
himself regarded as a human individual existing
--as Cyril represents his theory--and
whether by "union" he meant more than a close alliance,
ejusdem generis, in the last analysis, with the relation between
God and every saint, or, indeed, every Christian in true moral
fellowship with him--an alliance which would amount, in Cyril's
phrase, to no more than a "relative union," and would
reduce the Saviour to a "Theophoros," the title claimed
of old by one of his chief martyrs. And the real identity of Nestorius's
view with that of Theodore [of Mopsuestia] was but too plainly
exhibited by such statements as occur in some of the extracts
preserved in Cyril's treatise Against Nestorius--to the effect
that Christ was one with the Word by participation in dignity;
that "the man" was partaker of Divine power, and in
that sense not mere man; that he was adored together with the
Word; and that "My Lord and my God" was a doxology to
the Father; and above all, by the words spoken at Ephesus, "I
can never allow that a child of three months old was God."
It is no part of my duty to defend the truth of either the
Catholic or Nestorian proposition--each has found many adherents
in most ages since it was first started, and probably what is
virtually Nestorianism is to-day far more widely held among persons
deemed to be orthodox than is commonly supposed. Be this as it
may, Nestorianism is clearly subversive of the whole Catholic
Doctrine of the Incarnation, and therefore the importance of the
cannot be exaggerated.
I shall treat the word Theotocos under two heads;(1) Its history(2)
its meaning, first however quoting Bp. Pearson's words on its
Conciliar authority. (Pearson, Exp. of the Creed, Art. III., n.
37). "It is plain that the Council of Ephesus which condemned
Nestorius confirmed this title
I say confirmed it; for it is evident that it was before used
in the Church, by the tumult which arose at the first denial of
it by Anastasius [Nestorius's presbyter]; and so confirmed it
as received before, because they approved the Epistles of St.
Cyril, who proved it by the usage of those Fathers which preceded
(1) History of Word
It has not been unfrequently assumed that the word Theotocos
was coined to express the peculiar view of the Incarnation held
by St. Cyril. Such however, is an entire mistake. It was an old
term of Catholic Theology, and the very word was used by bishop
Alexander in a letter from the synod held at Alexandria in A.D.
320,(1) to condemn the Arian heresy (more than a hundred years
before the meeting of the Council of Ephesus); "After this,
we receive the doctrine of the resurrection from the dead, of
which Jesus Christ our Lord became the first-fruits; who bore
a body in truth, not in semblance, which be derived from Mary
the Mother of God (
Mapias)."(2) The same word had been used by many church writers
among whom may be mentioned St. Athanasius, who says, "As
the flesh was born of Mary, the Mother of God, so we say that
he, the Word, was himself born of Mary" (Orat. c. Arian.,
iij., 14, 29, 33; also iv., 32). See also Eusebius (Vit. Const.,
iij., 43); St. Cyril of Jerusalem (Cat., x., 9); and especially
Origen, who (says Bp. Pearson) "did not only use, but expound
at large the meaning of that title
in his first tome on the Epistle to the Romans, as Socrates and
Liberatus testify."(3) (Cf. Origen in Deut. xxii., 23; vol.
ij., p. 391. A; in Luc. apud Galland, Bib. Patr., vol. xiv., append.,
p. 87, D). A list is given by Dr. Routh, in his Reliquioe Sacroe.
Vol. ij., p. 215 (1st Ed.), 332 (2d Ed.).
In fact Theodore of Mopsuestia was the first to object to it,
so far as we know, writing as follows: "Mary bare Jesus,
not the Word, for the Word was and remained omnipresent, although
from the beginning he dwelt in Jesus in a peculiar manner. Thus
Mary is properly the Mother of Christ (Christotocos) but not the
mother of God (Theotocos). Only figuratively, per anaphoram, can
she be called Theotocos also, because God was in Christ in a remarkable
manner. Properly she bare a man, in whom the union with the Word
was begun, but was still so little completed, that he was not
yet called the Son of God." And in another place he says:
"It is madness to say that God is born of the Virgin. ...
Not God, but
the temple in which God dwelt, is born of Mary."(4) How far
Theodore had departed from the teaching of the Apostolic days
may be seen by the following quotations from St. Ignatius. "There
is one only physician, of flesh and spirit, generate and ingenerate,
God in man, true Life in death, Son of Mary and of God, first
passible and then impassible, Jesus Christ our Lord."(5)
Further on in the same epistle he says: "For our God, Jesus
the Christ, was borne in the womb by Mary etc."(6) With the
first of these passages Bp. Light-foot very aptly compares the
following from Melito. "Since he was incorporeal, he fashioned
a body for himself of our likeness ... he was carried by Mary
and clothed by his Father, he trod the earth and he filled the
Theodore was forced by the exigencies of his position to deny
the doctrine of the communicatio idiomatum which had already at
that early date come to be well understood, at least so far as
practice is concerned.
(Hefele, Hist. of the Councils, Vol. iii., p. 8.)
This doctrine, as is well known is predicating the same properties
of the two natures in Christ, not in abstracto (Godhead and manhood),
but in concreto (God and man). Christ. himself had declared in
St. John iii., 16: "God ... gave his only begotten Son"
(namely, to death), and similarly St. Peter declared (Acts iii.,
15): "ye ... killed the Prince of Life," when in fact
the being given up and being killed is a property
= predicate) of man, not of God (the only begotten, the Prince
of Life). In the same way Clement of Rome, for example, spoke
of "the sufferings of God" (
) (1 Ad Cor. 2), Ignatius of Antioch
(Ad Ephes., c. 1, and Ad Rom., 6) of an
Tatian of a
(Ad Groecos, c. 13); Barnabas teaches (c. 7) that "the Son
of God could not suffer except on our behalf ... and on our behalf
he has brought the vessel of his Spirit as a sacrifice."
Similarly Irenaeus (iii., 16, 6) says, "The Only-begotten
impassible Word (unigenitus impassibilis) has become passible"
(passibilis); and Athanasius,
(Ep. ad Epictet., n. 10, t. j., p. 726. ed. Patav.)
It is, however, to be remarked that the properties of the
one nature were never transferred to the other nature in itself,
but always to the Person who is at the same time both man and
God. Human attributes were not ascribed to the Godhead, but to
God, and vice versa.
For a full treatment of the figure of speech called the communicatio
idiomatum the reader is referred to the great works on Theology
where it will be found set forth at large, with its restrictions
specified and with examples of its use. A brief but interesting
note on it will be found in St. John Damascene's famous treatise
De Fide Orthodoxa, Book III, iij. (Migne's Pat. Groec., col. 994).
(2) Meaning of the Word
We pass now to the meaning of the word, having sufficiently
traced the history of its use. Bishop Pearson says: "This
name was first in use in the Greek Church, who, delighting in
the happy compositions of that language, called the blessed Virgin
Theotocos. From whence the Latins in imitation styled her Virginem
Deiparam et Deigenitricem."(1) In the passage to which the
words just quoted are a portion of a footnote, he says: "Wherefore
from these three, a true conception, nutrition, and parturition,
we must acknowledge that the blessed Virgin was truly and properly
the Mother of our Saviour. And so is she frequently styled the
Mother of Jesus in the language of the Evangelists, and by Elizabeth
particularly the 'Mother of her Lord,' as also by the general
consent of the Church (because he which was so born of her was
God,) the Deipara; which being a compound title begun in the Greek
Church, was resolved into its parts by the Latins and so the Virgin
was plainly named the Mother of God."
Pearson is mistaken in supposing that the resolution of the
compound Theotocos into
was unknown to the early Greek
writers. Dionysius expressly calls Mary
(Contr. Paul. Samos., Quaest. viij.); and among the Latins Mater
Dei and Dei Genetrix were (as Pearson himself confesses in note
37) used before the time of St. Leo I. It is not an open question
whether Mater Dei, Dei Genetrix, Deipara,
are proper equivalents for
This point has been settled by the unvarying use of the whole
Church of God throughout all the ages from that day to this, but
there is, or at least some persons have thought that there was,
some question as to how Theotocos should be translated into English.
Throughout this volume I have translated it "Mother of
God," and I propose giving my
reasons for considering this the only accurate translation of
the word, both from a lexico-graphical and from a theological
point of view.
(a) It is evident that the word is a composite formed of
= God, and
= to be the mother
of a child. Now I have translated the verbal part "to be
the mother of a child" because "to bear" in English
does not necessarily carry the full meaning of the Greek word,
which (as Bp. Pearson has well remarked in the passage cited above)
includes "conception, nutrition, and parturition." It
has been suggested that "God-bearer" is an exact translation.
To this I object, that in the first place it is not English; and
in the second that it would be an equally and, to my mind, more
accurate translation of
Another suggestion is that it be rendered "the bringer
forth of God." Again I object that, from a rhetorical standpoint,
the expression is very open to criticism; and from a lexicographical
point of view it is entirely inadequate, for while indeed the
parturition does necessarily involve in the course of nature the
previous conception and nutrition, it certainly does not express
Now the word Mother does necessarily express all three of
these when used in relation to her child. The reader will remember
that the question I am discussing is not whether Mary can properly
be called the Mother of God; this Nestorius denied and many in
ancient and modern times have been found to agree with him. The
question I am considering is what the Greek word Theotocos means
in English. I do not think anyone would hesitate to translate
Nestorius's Christotocos by "Mother of Christ" and surely
the expressions are identical from a lexicographical point of
Liddell and Scott in their Lexicon insert the word
as an adjective and translate "bearing God" and add:
of God, of the Virgin, Eccl."
(b) It only remains to consider whether there is from a theological
point of view any objection to the translation, "Mother of
God." It is true that some persons have thought that such
a rendering implied that the Godhead has its origin in Mary, but
this was the very objection which Nestorius and his followers
urged against the word Theotocos, and this being the case, it
constitutes a strong argument in favour of the accuracy of the
rendering. Of course the answer to the objection in each case
is the same, it is not of the Godhead that Mary is the Mother,
but of the Incarnate Son, who is God. "Mother" expresses
exactly the relation to the incarnate Son which St. Cyril, the
Council of Ephesus, and all succeeding, not to say also preceding,
ages of Catholics, rightly or wrongly, ascribe to Mary. All that
every child derives from its Mother that God the Son derived from
Mary, and this without the co-operation of any man, but by the
direct operation of the Holy Ghost, so that in a fuller, truer,
and more perfect sense, Mary is the Mother of God the Son in his
incarnation, than any other earthly mother is of her son.
I therefore consider it certain that no scholar who can and
will divest himself of theological bias, can doubt that "Mother
of God" is the most accurate translation of the term Theotocos.
IF anyone shall not confess that the Word of God the Father
is united hypostatically to flesh, and that with that flesh of
his own, he is one only Christ both God and man at the same time:
let him be anathema.
If any one asserts that, at the union of the Logos with the
flesh, the divine Essence moved from one place to another; or
says that the flesh is capable of receiving the divine nature,
and that it has been partially united with the flesh; or ascribes
to the flesh,
by reason of its reception of God, an extension to the infinite
and boundless, and says that God and man are one and the same
in nature; let him be anathema.
IF anyone shah after the [hypostatic] union divide the hypostases
in the one Christ, joining them by that connexion alone, which
happens according to worthiness, or even authority and power,
and not rather by a coming together (
which is made by natural union (
): let him be anathema.
If any one says that Christ, who is also Emmanuel, is One,
not [merely] in consequence of connection, but [also] in nature,
and does not acknowledge the connection (
of the two natures, that of the Logos and of the assumed manhood,
in one Son, as still continuing without mingling; let him be anathema.
(Hist. of the Coucn., Vol. III., p. 7.)
Theodore [of Mopsuestia, and in this he was followed by Nestorius,]
(and here is his fundamental error,) not merely maintained the
existence of two natures in Christ, but of two persons, as, he
says himself, no subsistence can be thought of as perfect without
personality. As however, he did not ignore the fact that the consciousness
of the Church rejected such a double personality in Christ. he
endeavoured to get rid of the difficulty, and he repeatedly says
expressly: "The two natures united together make only one
Person, as man and wife are only one flesh. ... If we consider
the natures in their distinction, we should define the nature
of the Logos as perfect and complete, and so also his Person,
and again the nature and the person of the man as perfect and
complete. If, on the other hand, we have regard to the union (
we say it is one Person." The very illustration of the union
of man and wife shows that Theodore did not suppose a true union
of the two natures in Christ, but that his notion was rather that
of an external connection of the two. The expression
moreover, which he selected here instead of the term
which he elsewhere employs, being derived from
[to join together], expresses only an external connection, a fixing
together. and is therefore expressly rejected in later times by
the doctors of the Church. And again, Theodore designates a merely
external connection also in the phrase already quoted, to the
effect that "the Logos dwells in the man assumed as in a
temple." As a temple and the statue set up within it are
one whole merely in outward appearance, so the Godhead and manhood
in Christ appear only from without in their actuality as one Person,
while they remain essentially two Persons.
IF anyone shall divide between two persons or subsistences
those expressions (
) which are
contained in the Evangelical and Apostolical writings, or which
have been said concerning Christ by the Saints, or by himself,
and shall apply some to him as to a man separate from the Word
of God, and shall apply others to the only Word of God the Father,
on the ground that they are fit to be applied to God: let him
If any one assigns the expressions of the Gospels and Apostolic
letters, which refer to the two natures of Christ, to one only
of those natures, and even ascribes suffering to the divine Word,
both in the flesh and in the Godhead; let him be anathema.
( Apol. contra Orientales.)
For we neither teach the division of the hypostases after
the union, nor do we say that the nature of the Deity needs increase
and growth; but this rather we hold, that by way of an economical
), he made his own the
properties of the flesh, as having become flesh.
(Quod unus eat Christus.)
For the wise Evangelist, introducing the Word as become flesh,
shows him economically submitting himself to his own flesh and
going through the laws of his own nature. But it belongs to humanity
to increase in stature and in wisdom, and, I might add, in grace,
intelligence keeping pace with the measure of the body, and differing
according to age. For it was not impossible for the Word born
of the Father to have raised the body united to himself to its
full height from the very swaddling-clothes. I would say also,
that in the babe a wonderful wisdom might easily have appeared.
But that would have approached the thaumaturgical, and would have
been incongruous to the laws of the economy. For the mystery was
accomplished noiselessly. Therefore he economically allowed the
measures of humanity to have power over himself.
A. B. BRUCE.
(The Humiliation of Christ. Appendix to Lect. II.)
The accommodation to the laws of the economy, according to
this passage, consisted in this--in stature, real growth; in wisdom,
apparent growth. The wonderful wisdom was there from the first,
but it was not allowed to appear (
to avoid an aspect of monstrosity.
Therefore there would have been shown to all an unwonted and
strange thing, if, being yet an infant, he had made a demonstration
of his wisdom worthy of God; but expanding it gradually and in
proportion to the age of the body, and (in this gradual manner)
making it manifest to all, he might be said to increase (in wisdom)
(Ad Reginas de recta fide, Orat. II., cap. xvi.)
"But the boy increased and waxed strong in spirit, being
filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him." And
again: "Jesus increased in stature and wisdom, and in favour
with God and men." In affirming our Lord Jesus Christ to
be one, and assigning to him both divine and human properties,
we truly assert that it was congruous to the measures of the kenosis,
on the one hand, that he should receive bodily increase and grow
strong, the parts of the body gradually attaining their full development;
and, on the other hand, that he should seem to be filled with
wisdom, in so far as the manifestation of the wisdom dwelling
within him proceeded, as by addition, most congruously to the
stature of the body; and this, as I said, agreed with the economy
of the Incarnation, and the measures of the state of humiliation.
(Apol. contra Theod., ad Anath. iv.)
And if he is one and the same in virtue of the true unity
of natures, and is not one and another (two persons) disjunctively
and partitively, to him will belong both to know and to seem not
to know. Therefore he knows on the divine side as the Wisdom of
the Father. But since he subjected himself to the measure of humanity,
he economically appropriates this also with the rest, although,
as I said a little ago, being ignorant of nothing, but knowing
all things with the Father.
IF anyone shall dare to say that the Christ is a Theophorus
[that is, God-bearing] man and not rather that he is very God,
as an only Son through nature, because "the Word was made
flesh," and "hath a share in flesh and blood as we do:"
let him be anathema.
If any one ventures to say that, even after the assumption
of human nature, there is only one Son of God, namely, he who
is so in nature (naturaliter filius=Logos), while he (Since the
assumption of the flesh) is certainly Emmanuel; let him be anathema.
It is manifest that this anathematism is directed against
the blasphemy of Nestorius, by which he said that Christ was in
this sense Emmanuel, that a man was united and associated with
God, just as God had been said to have been with the Prophets
and other holy men, and to have had his abode in them;
so that they were properly styled
because, as it were, they carried God about with them; but there
was no one made of the two. But he held that our Lord as man was
bound and united with God only by a communion of dignity.
Nestorius [in his Counter Anathematism] displays the hidden
meaning of his heresy, when he says, that the Son of God is not
one after the assumption of the humanity; for he who denied that
he was one, no doubt thought that he was two.
Thedoret in his criticism of this Anathematism remarks that
many of the Ancients, including St. Basil had used this very word,
, for the Lord; but the objection
has no real foundation, for the orthodoxy or heterodoxy of such
a word must be determined by the context in which it is used,
and also by the known opinions of him that uses it. Expressions
which are in a loose sense orthodox and quite excusable before
a heresy arises, may become afterwards the very distinctive marks
and shibboleths of error. Petavius has pointed out how far from
orthodox many of the earliest Christian writers were, at least
verbally, and Bp. Bull defended them by the same line of argument
I have just used and which Petavius himself employs in this very
IF anyone shall dare say that the Word of God the Father is
the God of Christ or the Lord of Christ, and shall not rather
confess him as at the same time both God and Man, since according
to the Scriptures, "The Word was made flesh": let him
If anyone, after the Incarnation calls another than Christ
the Word, and ventures to say that the form of a servant is equally
with the Word of God, without beginning and uncreated, and not
rather that it is made by him as its natural Lord and Creator
and God, and that he has promised to raise it again in the words:
"Destroy this temple, and in three days I will build it up
again"; let him be anathema.
This [statement of Nestorius's that any should call "another
than Christ the Word"] has no reference to Cyril; but is
a hyper-Nes-torianism, which Nestorius here rejects. This [that
"the form of a servant is without beginning and uncreated"]
was asserted by some Apollinarists; and Nestorius accused St.
Cyril of Apollinarianism.
As Nestorius believed that in Christ there were two distinct
entities (re ipsa duos) that is to say two persons joined together;
it was natural that he should hold that the Word was the God and
Lord of the other, that is of the man. Cyril contradicts this,
and since he taught that there was, not two, but one of two natures,
that is one person or suppositum, therefore he denied that the
Word was the God or Lord of the man; since no one should be called
the Lord of himself.
Theodoret in his answer shuffles as usual, and points out
that Christ is styled a servant by the Prophet Isaiah, because
of the form of a servant which he had received. But to this Cyril
answers; that although Christ, inasmuch as he was man, is called
the servant of the Father, as of a person distinct from himself;
yet he denies that the same person can be his own lord or servant,
lest a separation of the person be introduced.
IF anyone shah say that Jesus as man is only energized by
the Word of God, and that the glory of the Only-begotten is attributed
to him as something not properly his: let him be anathema.
If any one says that the man who was formed of the Virgin
is the Only-begotten, who was born from the bosom of the Father,
before the morning star was (Ps. cix., 3)(1), and does not rather
confess that he has obtained the desig-
nation of Only-begotten on account of his connection with him
who in nature is the Only-begotten of the Father; and besides,
if any one calls another than the Emmanuel Christ let him be anathema.
When the blessed Gabriel announced to the holy Virgin the
generation of the only-begotten Son of God according to the flesh,
he said, "Thou shalt bear a son; and thou shalt call his
name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins."
But he was named also Christ, because that according to his human
nature he was anointed with us, according to the words of the
Psalmist: "Thou hast loved righteousness and hated iniquity:
therefore God, even thy God hath anointed thee with the oil of
gladness above thy fellows." For although he was the giver
of the Holy Spirit, neither did he give it by measure to them
that were worthy (for he was full of the Holy Ghost, and of his
fulness have we all received, as it is written), nevertheless
as he is man he was called anointed economically, the Holy Spirit
resting upon him spiritually (
and not after the manner of men, in order that he might abide
in us, although he had been driven forth from us in the beginning
by Adam's fall. He therefore the only begotten Word of God made
flesh was called Christ. And since he possessed as his own the
power proper to God, he wrought his wonders. Whosoever therefore
shall say that the glory of the Only-begotten was added to the
power of Christ, as though the Only-begotten was different from
Christ, they are thinking of two sons; the one truly working and
the other impelled (by the strength of another, Lat.) as a man
like to us; and all such fall under the penalty of this anathematism.
IF anyone shall dare to say that the assumed man (
ought to be worshipped together with God the Word, and glorified
together with him, and recognised together with him as God, and
yet as two different things, the one with the other (for this
"Together with" is added [i. e., by the Nestorians]
to convey this meaning); and shall not rather with one adoration
worship the Emmanuel and pay to him one glorification, as [it
is written] "The Word was made flesh": let him be anathema.
If any one says that the form of a servant should, for its
own sake, that is, in reference to its own nature, be reverenced,
and that it is the ruler of all things, and not rather. that [merely]
on account of its connection with the holy and in itself universally-ruling
nature of the Only-begotten, it is to be reverenced; let him be
On this point [made by Nestorius, that "the form of a
servant is the ruler of all things"] Marius Mercator has
already remarked with justice, that no Catholic had ever asserted
anything of the kind.
Petavius notes that the version of Dionysius Exiguus is defective.
Nestorius captiously and maliciously interpreted this as if
the "form of a servant" according to its very nature
(ratio) was to be adored, that is should receive divine worship.
But this is nefarious and far removed from the mind of Cyril.
Since to such an extent only the human nature of Christ is one
suppositum with the divine, that he declares that each is the
object of one and an undivided adoration; lest if a double and
dissimilar cultus be attributed to each one, the divine person
should be divided into two adorable Sons and Christs, as we have
heard Cyril often complaining.
IF any man shall say that the one Lord Jesus Christ was glorified
by the Holy Ghost, so that he used through him a power not his
own and from him received power against unclean spirits and power
to work miracles before men and shall not rather con-
fess that it was his own Spirit through which he worked these
divine signs; let him be anathema.
If anyone says that the form of a servant is of like nature
with the Holy Ghost, and not rather that it owes its union with
the Word which has existed since the conception, to his mediation,
by which it works miraculous healings among men, and possesses
the power of expelling demons; let him be anathema.
The scope of this anathematism is to shew that the Word of
God, when he assumed flesh remaining what he was, and lacking
nothing which the Father possessed except only paternity, had
as his own the Holy Spirit which is from him and substantially
abides in him. From this it follows that through him, as through
a power and strength which was his own, and not one alien or adventitious,
he wrought his wonders and cast forth devils, but he did not receive
that Holy Spirit and his power as formerly the Prophets had done,
or as afterwards his disciples did, as a kind of gift (beneficii
The Orientals objected that St. Cyril here contradicts himself,
for here he says that Christ did not work his wonders by the Holy
Ghost and in another place he frankly confesses that he did so
work them. But the whole point is what is intended by working
through the Holy Ghost. For the Apostles worked miracles through
the Holy Ghost but as by a power external to themselves, but not
so Christ. When Christ worked wonders through the Holy Ghost,
he was working through a power which was his own, viz.: the Third
Person of the Holy Trinity; from whom he never was and never could
be separated, ever abiding with him and the Eternal Father in
the Divine Unity.
The Westerns have always pointed to this anathematism as shewing
that St. Cyril recognized the eternal relation of the Holy Spirit
as being from the Son.
EXCURSUS ON HOW OUR LORD WORKED MIRACLES.
In view of the fact that many are now presenting as if something
newly discovered, and as the latest results of biblical study,
the interpretations of the early heretics with regard to our Lord's
powers and to his relation to the Holy Ghost, I have here set
down in full Theo-doret's Counter-statement to the faith accepted
by tile Ecumenical Councils of the Church.
(Counter Statement to Anath. IX. of Cyril.)
Here he has plainly had the hardihood to anathematize not
only those who at the present time hold pious opinions, but also
those who were in former days heralds of truth; aye even the writers
of the divine Gospels, the band of the holy Apostles, and, in
addition to these, Gabriel the archangel. For he indeed it was
who first, even before the conception, announced the birth of
the Christ according to the flesh; saying in reply to Mary when
she asked, "How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? "The
Holy Ghost shall come upon thee and the power of the Highest shall
overshadow thee; therefore also that holy thing that shall be
born of thee shall be called the Son of God." And to Joseph
he said, "Fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife, for that
which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost." And the
Evangelist says, "When as his mother Mary was espoused to
Joseph ... she was found with child of the Holy Ghost." And
the Lord himself when he had come into the synagogue of the Jews
and had taken the prophet Isaiah, after reading the passage in
which he says, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because
he hath anointed me" and so on, added, "This day is
this scripture fulfilled in your ears." And the blessed Peter
in his sermon to the Jews said, "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth
with the Holy Ghost." And Isaiah many ages before had predicted
"There shall come forth a rod out of the stem
of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots; and the Spirit
of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of
the fear of the Lord"; and again, "Behold my servant
whom I uphold, my beloved in whom my soul delighteth. I will put
my Spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles."
This testimony the Evangelist too has inserted in his own writings.
And the Lord himself in the Gospels says to the Jews, "If
I with the Spirit of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom
of God is come upon you." And John says, "He that sent
me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou
shalt see the Spirit descending and remaining on him, the same
is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost." So this exact
examiner of the divine decrees has not only anathematized prophets,
apostles, and even the archangel Gabriel, but has suffered his
blasphemy to reach even the Saviour of the world himself. For
we have shewn that the Lord himself after reading the passage
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he had anointed
me," said to the Jews, "This day is this scripture fulfilled
in your ears." And to those who said that he was casting
out devils by Beelzebub he replied that he was casting them out
by the Spirit of God. But we maintain that it was not God the
Word, of one substance and co-eternal with the Father, that was
formed by the Holy Ghost and anointed, but the human nature which
was assumed by him at the end of days. We shall confess that the
Spirit of the Son was his own if he spoke of it as of the same
nature and proceeding from the Father, and shall accept the expression
as consistent with true piety. But if he speaks of the Spirit
as being of the Son, or as having its origin through the Son we
shall reject this statement as blasphemous and impious. For we
believe the Lord when he says, "The spirit which proceedeth
from the Father"; and likewise the very divine Paul saying,
"We have received not the spirit of the world, but the spirit
which is of God."
In the foregoing will be found the very same arguments used
and the same texts cited against the Catholic faith as are urged
and cited by the Rev. A. J. Mason. The Conditions of Our Lord's
Life on Earth, and by several other recent writers.
WHOSOEVER shall say that it is not the divine Word himself,
when he was made flesh and had become man as we are, but another
than he, a man born of a woman, yet different from him (
), who is become our Great
High Priest and Apostle; or if any man shall say that he offered
himself in sacrifice for himself and not rather for us, whereas,
being without sin, he had no need of offering or sacrifice: let
him be anathema.
If any one maintains that the Word, who is from the beginning,
has become the high priest and apostle of our confession, and
has offered himself for us, and does not rather say that it is
the work of Emmanuel to be an apostle; and if any one in such
a manner divides the sacrifice between him who united [the Word]
and him who was united [the manhood] referring it to a common
sonship, that is, not giving to God that which is God's, and to
man that which is man's; let him be anathema.
But I do not know how those who think otherwise contend that
the very Word of God made man, was not the apostle and high-priest
of our profession, but a man different from him; who was born
of the holy Virgin, was called our apostle and high-priest, and
came to this gradually; and that not only for us did he offer
himself a sacrifice to God and the Father, but also for himself.
A statement which is wholly contrary to the right and undefiled
faith, for he did no sin, but was supe-
rior to fault and altogether free from sin, and needed no sacrifice
for himself. Since those who think differently were again unreasonably
hinking of two sons, this anathematism became necessary that
their impiety might appear.
WHOSOEVER shall not confess that the flesh of the Lord giveth
life and that it pertains to the Word of God the Father as his
very own, but shall pretend that it belongs to another person
who is united to him [i.e., the Word] only according to honour,
and who has served as a dwelling for the divinity; and shall not
rather confess, as we say, that that flesh giveth life because
it is that of the Word who giveth life to all: let him be anathema.
If any one maintains that the flesh which is united with God
the Word is by the power of its own nature life-giving, whereas
the Lord himself says, "It is the Spirit that quickeneth;
the flesh profiteth nothing" (St. John vi. 61), let him be
anathema. [He adds, "God is a Spirit" (St. John iv.
24). If, then, any one maintains that God the Logos has in a carnal
manner, in his substance, become flesh, and persists in this with
reference to the Lord Christ; who himself after his resurrection
said to his disciples, "Handle me and see; for a spirit hath
not flesh and bones, as ye behold me having" (St. Luke xxiv.
39); let him be anathema.]
The part enclosed in brackets is certainly a spurious addition
and is wanting in many manuscripts. Cf. Marius Mercator [ed. Migne],
We perform in the churches the holy, lifegiving, and unbloody
sacrifice; the body, as also the precious blood, which is exhibited
we believe not to be that of a common man and of any one like
unto us, but receiving it rather as his own body and as the blood
of the Word which gives all things life. For common flesh cannot
give life. And this our Saviour himself testified when he said:
"The flesh profiteth nothing, it is the Spirit that giveth
life." For since the flesh became the very own of the Word,
therefore we understand that it is lifegiving, as the Saviour
himself said: "As the living Father hath sent me, and I live
by the Father; so he that eateth me shall live by me." Since
therefore Nestorius and those who think with him rashly dissolve
the power of this mystery; therefore it was convenient that this
anathematism should be put forth.
WHOSOEVER shall not recognize that the Word of God suffered
in the flesh, that he was crucified in the flesh, and that likewise
in that same flesh he tasted death and that he is become the first-begotten
of the dead, for, as he is God, he is the life and it is he that
giveth life: let him be anathema.
If any one, in confessing the sufferings of the flesh, ascribes
these also to the Word of God as to the flesh in which he appeared,
and thus does not distinguish the dignity of the natures; let
him be anathema.
(Adv. Orientales, ad XII. Quoting Athanasius.)
For if the body is of another, to him also must the sufferings
be ascribed. But if the flesh is the Word's (for "The Word
was made flesh")it is necessary that the sufferings of the
flesh be called his also whose is the flesh. But whose are the
sufferings, such especially as condemnation, flagellation, thirst,
the cross, death, and other such like infirmities of the body,
his also is the merit and the grace. Therefore rightly and properly
to none other are these sufferings attributed than to the Lord,
as also the grace is from him; and we shall not be guilty of idolatry,
but be the true
worshippers of God, for we invoke him who is no creature nor any
common man, but the natural and true Son of God, made man, and
yet the same Lord and God and Saviour.
As I think, these quotations will suffice to the learned for
the proof of the propositions advanced, the Divine Law plainly
saying that "In the mouth of two or three witnesses every
word shall be established." But if after this any one would
still seem to be contentious, we would say to him: "Go thine
own way. We however shall follow the divine Scriptures and the
faith of the Holy Fathers."
The student should read at full length all Cyril's defence
of his anathematisms, also his answers to the criticisms of Theodoret,
and to those of the Orientals, all of which will be found in his
works, and in Labbe and Cossart, Concilia, Tom. III., 811 et seqq.
EXTRACTS FROM THE ACTS. SESSION I.
(Continued). (L. and C., Cone., Tom. III., Col. 503.)
[No action is recorded in the Acts as having been taken. A verbal
report was made by certain who had seen Nestorius during the past
three days, that they were hopeless of any repentance on his part.
On the motion of Flavian, bishop of Philippi, a number of passages
from the Fathers were read; and after that some selections from
the writings of Nestorius. A letter from Capreolus, Archbishop
of Carthage, was next read, excusing his absence; after the reading
of the letter, which makes no direct reference to Nestorius whatever,
but prays the Synod to see to it that no novelties be tolerated,
the Acts proceed. (Col. 534).]
Cyril, the bishop of the Church of Alexandria, said: As this
letter of the most reverend and pious Capreolus, bishop of Carthage,
which has been read, contains a most lucid expression of opinion,
let it be inserted in the Acts. For it wishes that the ancient
dogmas of the faith should be confirmed, and that novelties, absurdly
conceived and impiously brought forth, should be reprobated and
All the bishops at the same time cried out: These are the
) of all of us, these
are the things we all say-the accomplishment of this is the desire
of us all.
[Immediately follows the sentence of deposition and the subscriptions.
It seems almost certain that something has dropped out here, most
probably the whole discussion of Cyril's XII. Anathematisms.]
DECREE OF THE COUNCIL AGAINST NESTORIUS.
(Found in all the Concilia in Greek with Latin Versions.)
As, in addition to other things, the impious Nestorius has
not obeyed our citation, and did not receive the holy bishops
who were sent by us to him, we were compelled to examine his ungodly
doctrines. We discovered that he had held and published impious
doctrines in his letters and treatises, as well as in discourses
which he delivered in this city, and which have been testified
to. Compelled thereto by the canons and by the letter (
our most holy father and fellow-servant Coelestine, the Roman
bishop, we have come, with many tears, to this sorrowful sentence
against him, namely, that our Lord Jesus Christ, whom he has blasphemed,
decrees by the holy Synod that Nestorius be excluded from the
episcopal dignity, and from all priestly communion.
The words for which I have given the original Greek, are not
mentioned by Canon Bright in his Article on St. Cyril in Smith
and Wace's Dictionary of Christian Biography; nor by Ffoulkes
in his article on the Council of Ephesus in Smith and Cheetham's
Dictionary of Christian Antiquities. They do not appear in Canon
Robertsons History of the Church.
And strangest of all, Dean Milman cites the Sentence in English
in the text and in Greek in a note but in each case omits all
mention of the letter of the Pope, marking however in the Greek
that there is an omission. (Lat. Chr., Bk. II., Chap. III.)(1)
I also note that the translation in the English edition of Hefele's
History of the Councils (Vol. III., p. 51) is misleading and inaccurate,
"Urged by the canons, and in accordance with the letter etc."
The participle by itself might mean nothing more than "urged"
(vide Liddell and Scott on this verb and also
but the adverb which precedes it,
certainly is sufficient to necessitate the coacti of the old Latin
version which I have followed, translating "compelled thereto."
It will also be noticed that while the prepositions used with
regard to the "canons" and the "letter" are
different, yet that their grammatical relation to the verb is
identical is shewn by the
which proves the translation cited above to be utterly incorrect.
Hefele for the "canons" refers to canon number lxxiv.
of the Apostolic Canons; which orders an absent bishop to be summoned
thrice before sentence be given against him.
EXTRACTS FROM THE ACTS. SESSION II.
(Labbe and Cossart, Concilia, Tom. III., col. 609.)
The most pious and God-beloved bishops, Arcadius and Projectus,
as also the most beloved-of-God Philip, a presbyter and legate
of the Apostolic See, then entered and took their seats.(2)
Philip the presbyter and legate of the Apostolic See said:
We bless the holy and adorable Trinity that our lowliness has
been deemed worthy to attend your holy Synod. For a long time
) our most holy and blessed
pope Coelestine, bishop of the Apostolic See, through his letters
to that holy and most pious man Cyril, bishop of Alexandria, gave
judgment concerning the present cause and affair (
which letters have been shown to your holy assembly. And now again
for the corroboration of the Catholic (
faith, he has sent through us letters to all your holinesses,
which you will bid (
) to be
read with becoming reverence (
and to be entered on the ecclesiastical minutes.
Arcadius, a bishop and legate of the Roman Church said: May
it please your blessedness to give order that the letters l of
the holy and ever-to-be-mentioned-with-veneration Pope Coelestine,
bishop of the Apostolic See, which have been brought by us, be
read, from which your reverence will be able to see what care
he has for all the Churches.
Projectus, a bishop and legate of the Roman Church said,
May it please, etc. [The same as Arcadius had said verbatim!]
And afterwards the most holy and beloved-of-God Cyril, bishop
of the Church of Alexandria, spoke as is next in order contained;
Siricius, notary of the holy Catholic (
Church of Rome read it.
Cyril, the bishop of Alexandria said: Let the letter received
from the most holy and altogether most blessed Coelestine, bishop
of the Apostolic See of Rome be read to the holy Synod with fitting
Siricius, notary of the holy Catholic (
Church of the city of Rome read it.
And after it was read in Latin, Juvenal, the bishop of Jerusalem
said: Let the writings of the most holy and blessed bishop of
great Rome which have just been Toad, be entered on the minutes.
And all the most reverend bishops prayed that the letter
might be translated and read.
Philip, the presbyter of the Apostolic See and Legate said:
The custom has been sufficiently complied with, that the writings
of the Apostolic See should first be read in Latin.(3) But now
since your holiness has
demanded that they be read in Greek also, it is necessary that
your holiness's desire should be satisfied; We have taken care
that this be done, and that the Latin be turned into Greek. Give
order therefore that it be received and read in your holy hearing.
Arcadius and Projectus, bishops and legates said, As your
blessedness ordered that the writings which we brought should
be brought to the knowledge of all, for of our holy brethren bishops
there are not a few who do not understand Latin, therefore the
letter has been translated into Greek and if you so command let
it be read.
Flavian, the bishop of Philippi said: Let the translation
of the letter of the most holy and beloved of God, bishop of the
Roman Church be received and read.
Peter, the presbyter of Alexandria and primicerius of the
notaries read as follows:
THE LETTER OF POPE COELESTINE TO THE SYNOD OF EPHESUS.
(Labbe and Cossart, Concilia, Tom. III., col. 613. Also Migne,
Pat. Lat., Tom. L, col. 505.(1))
Coelestine the bishop to the holy Synod assembled at Ephesus,
brethren beloved and most longed for, greeting in the Lord.
A Synod of priests gives witness to the presence of the Holy
Spirit. For true is that which we read, since the Truth cannot
lie, to wit, the promise of the Gospel; "Where two or three
are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."
And since tiffs is so, if the Holy Spirit is not absent from so
small a number how much more may we believe he is present when
so great a multitude of holy ones are assembled together! Every
council is holy on account of a peculiar veneration which is its
due; for in every such council the reverence which should be paid
to that most famous council of the Apostles of which we read is
to be had regard to. Never was the Master, whom they had received
to preach, lacking to this, but ever was present as Lord and Master;
and never were those who taught deserted by their teacher. For
he that had sent them was their teacher; he who had commanded
what was to be taught, was their teacher; he who affirms that
he himself is heard in his Apostles, was their teacher. This duty
of preaching has been entrusted to all the Lord's priests in common,
for by right of inheritance we are bound to undertake this solicitude,
whoever of us preach the name of the Lord in divers lands in their
stead for he said to them, "Go, teach all nations."
You, dear brethren, should observe that we have received a general
command: for he wills that all of us should perform that office,
which he titus entrusted in common to all the Apostles. We must
needs follow our predecessors. Let us all, then, undertake their
labours, since we are the successors in their honour. And we shew
forth our diligence in preaching the same doctrines that they
taught, beside which, according to the admonition of the Apostle,
we are forbidden to add aught. For the office of keeping what
is committed to our trust is no less dignified than that of handing
They sowed the seed of the faith. This shall be our care that
the coming of our great father of the family, to whom alone assuredly
this fulness of the Apostles is assigned, may find fruit uncorrupt
and many fold. For the vase of election tells us that it is not
sufficient to plant and to water unless God gives the increase.
We must strive therefore in common to keep the faith which has
come down to us to-day, through the Apostolic Succession. For
we are expected to walk according to the Apostle. For now not
our appearance (species) but our faith is called in question.
Spiritual weapons are those we must take, because the war is one
of minds, and the weapons are words; so shall we be strong in
the faith of our King. Now the Blessed Apostle Paul admonishes
that all should remain in that place in which he bid Timothy remain.
The same place therefore, the same cause, lays upon us the same
duty. Let us now also do and study
that which he then commanded him to do. And let no one think otherwise,
and let no one pay heed to over strange fables, as he himself
ordered. Let us be unanimous thinking the same thing, for this
is expedient: let us do nothing out of contention, nothing out
of vain glory: let us be in all things of one mind, of one heart,
when the faith which is one, is attacked. Let the whole body grieve
and mourn in common with us. He who is to judge the world is called
into judgment; he who is to criticise all, is himself made the
object of criticism, he who redeemed us is made to suffer calumny.
Dear Brethren, gird ye with the armour of God. Ye know what helmet
must protect our head, what breast-plate our breast. For this
is not the first time the ecclesiastical camps have received you
as their rulers. Let no one doubt that by the favour of the Lord
who maketh twain to be one, there will be peace, and that arms
will be laid aside since the very cause defends itself.
Let us look once again at these words of our Doctor, which
he uses with express reference to bishops, saying, "Take
heed to yourselves and to the whole flock, over which the Holy
Ghost has placed you as bishop, that ye rule the church of God,
which he hath purchased with his blood."
We read that they who heard this at Ephesus, the same place
at which your holiness is come together, were called thence. To
them therefore to whom this preaching of the faith was known,
to them also let your defence of the same faith also be known.
Let us shew them the constancy of our mind with that reverence
which is due to matters of great importance; which things peace
has guarded for a long time with pious understanding.
Let there be announced by you what things have been preserved
intact from the Apostles; for the words of tyrannical opposition
are never admitted against the King of Kings, nor can the business
of truth be oppressed by falsehood.
I exhort you, most blessed brethren, that love alone be regarded
in which we ought to remain, according to the voice of John the
Apostle whose reliques we venerate in this city. Let common prayer
be offered to the Lord. For we can form some idea of what will
be the power of the divine presence at the united intercession
of such a multitude of priests, by considering how the very place
was moved where, as we read, the Twelve made together their supplication.
And what was the purport of that prayer of the Apostles? It was
that they might receive grace to speak the word of God with confidence,
and to act through its power, both of which they received by
the favour of Christ our God. And now what else is to be asked
for by your holy council, except that ye may speak the Word of
the Lord with confidence? What else than that he would give you
grace to preserve that which he has given you to preach? that
being filled with the Holy Ghost, as it is written, ye may set
forth that one truth which the Spirit himself has taught you,
although with divers voices.
Animated, in brief, by all these considerations (for, as
the Apostle says: "I speak to them that know the law, and
I speak wisdom among them that are perfect"), stand fast
by the Catholic faith, and defend the peace of the Churches, for
so it is said, both to those past, present, and future, asking
and preserving "those things which belong to the peace of
Out of our solicitude, we have sent our holy brethren and
fellow priests, who are at one with us and are most approved men,
Arcedius, and Projectus, the bishops, and our presbyter, Philip,
that they may be present at what is done and may carry out what
things have been already decreed be us (quoe a nobis anted statuta
sunt, exequa tur).
To the performing of which we have no doubt that your holiness
will assent when it is seen that what has been decreed is for
the security of the whole church. Given the viij of the Ides of
May, in the consulate of Bassus and Antiochus.
EXTRACTS FROM THE ACTS. SESSION II. (Continued.) (Labbe and Cossart,
Concilia, Tom. III., col. 617.)
And all the most reverend bishops at the same time cried out.
This is a just judgment. To Coelestine, a new Paul To Cyril a
new Paul! To Coelestine the guardian of the faith! To Coelestine
of one mind with the synod! To Coelestine the whole Synod offers
its thanks! One Coelestine! One Cyril! One faith of the Synod!
One faith of the world!
Projectus, the most reverend bishop and legate, said: Let
your holiness consider the form (
of the writings of the holy and venerable pope Coelestine, the
bishop, who has exhorted your holiness (not as if teaching the
ignorant, but as reminding them that know) that those things which
he had long ago defined, and now thought it right to remind you
of, ye might give command to be carried out to the uttermost,
according to the canon of the common faith, and according to the
use of the Catholic Church.
Firmus, the bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia said: The Apostolic
and holy see of the most holy bishop Coelestine, hath previously
given a decision and type (
this matter, through the writings which were sent to the most
God beloved bishops, to wit to Cyril of Alexandria, and to Juvenal
of Jerusalem, and to Rufus of Thessalonica, and to the holy churches,
both of Constantinople and of Antioch. This we have also followed
and (since the limit set for Nestorius's emendation was long gone
by, and much time has passed since our arrival at the city of
Ephesus in accordance with the decree of the most pious emperor,
and thereupon having delayed no little time so that the day fixed
by the emperor was past; and since Nestorius although cited had
not appeared) we carried into effect the type (
having pronounced against him a canonical and apostolical judgment.
Arcadius the most reverend bishop and legate, said: Although
our sailing was slow, and contrary winds hindered us especially,
so that we did not know whether we should arrive at the destined
place, as we had hoped, nevertheless by God's good providence
... Wherefore we desire to ask your blessedness, that you command
that we be taught what has been already decreed by your holiness.
Philip, presbyter and legate of the Apostolic See said: We
offer our thanks to the holy and venerable Synod, that when the
writings of our holy and blessed pope had been read to you, the
holy members by our [or your] holy voices,(1) ye joined yourselves
to the holy head also by your holy acclamations. For your blessedness
is not ignorant that the head of the whole faith, the head of
the Apostles, is blessed Peter the Apostle. And since now our
mediocrity, after having been tempest-tossed and much vexed, has
arrived, we ask that ye give order that there be laid before us
what things were done in this holy Synod before our arrival; in
order that according to the opinion of our blessed pope and of
this present holy assembly, we likewise may ratify their determination.
Theodotus, the bishop of Ancyra said: The God of the whole
world has made manifest the justice of the judgment pronounced
by the holy Synod by the writings of the most religious bishop
Coelestine, and by the coming of your holiness. For ye have made
manifest the zeal of the most holy and reverend bishop Coelestine,
and his care for the pious faith. And since very reasonably your
reverence is desirous of learning what has been done from the
minutes of the acts concerning the deposition of Nestorius your
reverence will be fully convinced of the justice of the sentence,
and of the zeal of the holy Synod, and the symphony of the faith
which the most pious and holy bishop Coelestine has
proclaimed with a great voice, of course after your full conviction,
the rest shall be added to the present action.
[In the Acts follow two short letters from Coelestine, one to
the Emperor and the other to Cyril, but nothing is said about
them, or how they got there, and thus abruptly ends the account
of this session.]
EXTRACTS FROM THE ACTS. SESSION III. (Labbe and Cossart, Concilia,
Tom. III., col. 621.)
Juvenal the bishop of Jerusalem said to Arcadius and Projectus
the most reverend bishops, and to Philip the most reverend presbyter;
Yesterday while this holy and great synod was in session, when
your holiness was present, you demanded after the reading of the
letter of the most holy and blessed bishop of Great Rome, Coelestine,
that the minutes made in the Acts with regard to the deposition
of Nestorius the heretic should be read. And thereupon the Synod
ordered this to be done. Your holiness will be good enough to
inform us whether you have read them and understand their power.
Philip the presbyter and legate of the Apostolic See said:
From reading the Acts we have found what things have been done
in your holy synod with regard to Nestorius. We have found from
the minutes that all things have been decided in accordance with
the canons and with ecclesiastical discipline. And now also we
seek from your honour, although it may be useless, that what things
have been read in your synod, the same should now again be read
to us also; so that we may follow the formula (
of the most holy pope Coelestine (who committed this same care
to us), and of your holiness also, and may be able to confirm
) the judgment.
[Arcadius having seconded Philip's motion, Memnon directed
the acts to be read which was done by the primicerius of the notaries.]
Philip the presbyter and legate of the Apostolic See said:
There is no doubt, and in fact it has been known in all ages,
that the holy and most blessed Peter, prince (
and head of the Apostles, pillar of the faith, and foundation
) of the Catholic Church,
received the keys of the kingdom from our Lord Jesus Christ, the
Saviour and Redeemer of the human
race, and that to him was given the power of loosing and binding
sins: who down even to to-day and forever both lives and judges
in his successors. The holy and most blessed pope Coelestine,
according to due order, is his successor and holds his place,
and us he sent to supply his place m this holy synod, which the
most humane and Christian Emperors have commanded to assemble,
bearing in mind and continually watching over the Catholic faith.
For they both have kept and are now keeping intact the apostolic
doctrine handed down to them from their most pious and humane
grandfathers and fathers of holy memory down to the present time,
[There is no further reference in the speech to the papal
Arcadius the most reverend bishop and legate of the Apostolic
See said: Nestorius hath brought us great sorrow.. . . And since
of his own accord he hath made himself an alien and an exile from
us, we following the sanctions handed down from the beginning
by the holy Apostles, and by the Catholic Church (for they taught
what they had received from our Lord Jesus Christ), also following
the types (
) of Coelestine, most
holy pope of the Apostolic See, who has condescended to send us
as his executors of this business, and also following the decrees
of the holy Synod [we give this as our conclusion]: Let Nestorius
know that he is deprived of all episcopal dignity, and is an alien
from the whole Church and from the communion of all its priests.
Projectus, bishop and legate of the Roman Church said: Most
clearly from the reading, etc, . . . Moreover I also, by my authority
as legate of the holy Apostolic See, define, being with my brethren
an executor (
) of the aforesaid
sentence, that the beforenamed Nestorius is an
enemy of the truth, a corrupter of the faith, and as guilty of
the things of which he was accused, has been removed from the
grade of Episcopal honour, and moreover from the communion of
all orthodox priests.
Cyril, the bishop of Alexandria said: The professions which
have been made by Arcadius and Projectus, the most holy and pious
bishops, as also by Philip, the most religious presbyter of the
Roman Church, stand manifest to the holy Synod. For they have
made their profession in the place of the Apostolic See, and of
the whole of the holy synod of the God-beloved and most holy bishops
of the West. Wherefore let those things which were defined by
the most holy Coelestine, the God-beloved bishop, be carried into
effect, and the vote east against Nestorius the heretic, by the
holy Synod, which met in the metropolis of Ephesus be agreed to
universally; for this purpose let there be added to the already
prepared acts the proceedings of yesterday and today, and let
them be shewn to their holiness, so that by their subscription
according to custom, their canonical agreement with all of us
may be manifest.
Arcadius the most reverend bishop and legate of the Roman
Church, said: According to the acts of this holy Synod, we necessarily
confirm with our subscriptions their doctrines.
The Holy Synod said: Since Arcadius and Projectus the most
reverend and most religious bishops and legates and Philip, the
presbyter and legate of the Apostolic See, have said that they
are of the same mind with us, it only remains, that they redeem
their promises and confirm the acts with their signatures, and
then let the minutes of the acts be shewn to them.
[The three then signed.]
THE CANONS OF THE TWO HUNDRED HOLY AND BLESSED FATHERS WHO MET AT EPHESUS. (1)
(Critical Annotations on the text will be found in Dr. Routh's
Scriptorum Eccl. Opusc.
Tom. II. [Ed. III.] p. 85.)
The holy and ecumenical Synod, gathered together in Ephesus
by the decree of our most religious Emperors, to the bishops,
presbyters, deacons, and all the people in every province and
When we had assembled, according to the religious decree [of
the Emperors], in the Metropolis of Ephesus, certain persons,
a little more than thirty in number, withdrew from amongst us,
having for the leader of their schism John, Bishop of Antioch.
Their names are as follows: first, the said John of Antioch in
Syria, John of Damascus, Alexander of Apamea, Alexander of Hierapolis,
Himerius of Nicomedia, Fritilas of Heraclea, Helladius of Tarsus,
Maximin of Anazarbus, Theodore of Marcianopolis, Peter of Trajanopolis,
Paul of Emissa, Polychronius of Heracleopolis, Euthyrius of Tyana,
Meletius of Neocaesarea, Theodoret of Cyrus, Apringius of Chalcedon,
Macarius of Laodicea Magna, Zosys of Esbus, Sallust of Corycus
in Cilicia, Hesychius of Castabala in Cilicia, Valentine of Mutloblaca,
Eustathius of Parnassus, Philip of Theodosia, and Daniel, and
Dexianus, and Julian, and Cyril, and Olympius, and Diegenes, Polius,
Theophanes of Philadelphia, Trajan of Augusta, Aurelius of Irenepolis,
Mysaeus of Aradus, Helladius of Ptolemais. These men, having no
privilege of ecclesiastical communion on the ground of a priestly
authority, by which they could injure or benefit any persons;
since some of them had already been deposed; and since from their
refusing to join in our decree against Nestorius, it was manifestly
evident to all men that they were all promoting the opinions of
Nestorius and Celestius; the Holy Synod, by one common decree,
deposed them from all ecclesiastical communion, and deprived them
of all their priestly power by which they might injure or profit
WHEREAS it is needful that they who were detained from the
holy Synod and remained in their own district or city, for any
reason, ecclesiastical or personal, should not be ignorant of
the matters which were thereby decreed; we, therefore, notify
your holiness and charity that if any Metropolitan of a Province,
forsaking the holy and Ecumenical Synod, has joined the assembly
of the apostates, or shall join the same hereafter; or, if he
has adopted, or shall hereafter adopt, the doctrines of Celestius,
he has no power in any way to do anything in opposition to the
bishops of the province, since he is already cast forth from all
ecclesiastical communion and made incapable of exercising his
ministry; but he shall himself be subject in all things to those
very bishops of the province and to the neighbouring orthodox
metropolitans, and shah be degraded from his episcopal rank.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON I.
If a metropolitan, having deserted his synod, adheres or shall
adhere to Celestine, let him be cast out.
Scholion concerning Celestine and Celestius. Whose finds at
the end of the fourth canon of the Holy Synod of Ephesus [and
same is true of this first canon. Ed.] "Clerics who shall
have consented to Celestine or Nestorius, should be deposed,"
let him not read "Celestine" with an "n,"
but "Celestius" without the "n." For Celestine
was the holy and orthodox Pope of Rome, Celestius was the heretic.
It is perfectly certain that this was no ac-
cident on the part of Aristenus, for in his commentary on Canon
V., he expressly says that "Celestine was Bishop of Rome"
and goes on to affirm that, "The Holy Synod decreed that
they who embraced the opinions of Nestorius and Celestine,"
etc. What perhaps is equally astonishing is that Nicholas Hydruntinus,
while correcting the name, still is of opinion that Celestius
was a pope of Rome and begins his scholion with the title.
. Beveridge well points out that
this confusion is all the more remarkable as in the Kalendar of
the Saints observed at that very time by the Greeks, on the eighth
day of April was kept the memory of "Celestine, Pope of Rome,
as a Saint and Champion against the Nestorian heretics."
(Bev., Annot, in C. v.).
Simeon the Logothete adds to this epitome the words,
which are necessary to make
the sense complete.
EXCURSUS ON THE CONCILIABULUM OF JOHN OF ANTIOCH.
The assembly referred to in this canon is one held by John
of Antioch who had delayed his coming so as to hamper the meeting
of the synod. John was a friend of Nestorius and made many fruitless
attempts to induce him to accept the orthodox faith. It will be
noticed that the conciliabulum was absolutely silent with respect
to Nestorius and his doctrine and contented itself with attacking
St. Cyril and the orthodox Memnon, the bishop of Ephesus. St.
Cyril and his friends did indeed accuse the Antiochenes of being
adherents of Nestorius, and in a negative way they certainly were
so, and were in open opposition to the defenders of the orthodox
faith; but, as Tillemont (1) has welI pointed out, they did not
theologically agree with the heresy of Nestorius, gladly accepted
the orthodox watchword "Mother of God," and subsequently
agreed to his deposition.
The first session of the Council of Ephesus had already taken
place on June 22, and it was only on June 26th or 27th, that John
of Antioch arrived at last at Ephesus.
(Hefele, History of the Councils, Vol. III., p. 55 et scqq.)
The Synod immediately sent a deputation to meet him, consisting
of several bishops and clerics, to show him proper respect, and
at the same time to make him acquainted with the deposition of
Nestorius, so that he might not be drawn into any intercourse
with him. The soldiers who surrounded Archbishop John prevented
the deputation from speaking to him in the street; consequently
they accompanied him to his abode, but were compelled to wait
here for several hours, exposed to the insults of the soldiers,
and at last, when they had discharged their commission, were driven
home, ill-treated and beaten. Count Irenaeus, the friend of Nestorius,
had suggested this treatment, and approved of it. The envoys immediately
informed the Synod of what had happened, and showed the wounds
which they had received, which called forth great indignation
against John of Antioch. According to the representation of Memnon,
excommunication was for this reason pronounced against him; but
we shall see further on that this did not take place until afterwards,
and it is clear that Memnon, in his brief narrative, has passed
over an intermediate portion -- the threefold invitation of John.
In the meantime, Candidian had gone still further in his opposition
to the members of the synod, causing them to be annoyed and insulted
by his soldiers, and even cutting off their supply of food, while
he provided Nestorius with a regular body-guard of armed peasants.
John of Antioch, immediately after his arrival, while still dusty
from the journey, and at the time when he was allowing the envoys
of the synod to wait, held at his town residence a Conciliabulum
with his adherents, at which, first of all Count Candidian related
how Cyril and his friends, in spite of all warnings, and in opposition
to the imperial decrees, had held a session five days before,
had contested his (the count's) right to be present, had dismissed
the bishops sent by Nestorius, and had paid no attention to the
others. Before he proceeded further, John of Antioch requested
that the Emperor's edict of convocation should be read, whereupon
Candidian went on with his account of what had taken place, and
in answer to a fresh question of John's declared that Nestorius
had been condemned unheard. John found this quite in keeping with
the disposition of the synod since, instead of receiving him and
his companions in a friendly manner, they had rushed upon them
tumultuously (it was thus that he described what had happened).
But the holy Synod, which was now assembled, would decide what
was proper with respect to them. And this synod, of which John
speaks in such grandiloquent terms, numbered only forty-three
members, including himself, while on the other side there were
more than two hundred.
John then proposed the question [as to] what was to be decided
respecting Cyril and his adherents; and several who were not particularly
pronounced Nestorian bishops came forward to relate how Cyril
and Memnon of Ephesus had, from the beginning, maltreated the
Nestorians, had allowed them no church, and even on the festival
of Pentecost had permitted them to hold no service. Besides Memnon
had sent his clerics into the residences of the bishops, and had
ordered them with threats to take part in his council. And in
this way he and Cyril had confused everything, so that their own
heresies might not be examined. Heresies, such as the Arian, the
Apollinarian, and the Eunomian, were certainly contained in the
last letter of Cyril [to Nestorius, along with the anathematisms].
It was therefore John's duty to see to it that the heads of these
heresies (Cyril and Memnon) should be suitably punished for such
grave offences, and that the bishops who had been misguided by
them should be subjected to ecclesiastical penalties.
To these impudent and false accusations John replied with
hypocritical meekness "that he had certainly wished that
he should not be compelled to exclude from the Church any one
who had been received into the sacred priesthood, but diseased
members must certainly be cut off in order to save the whole body;
and for this reason Cyril and Memnon deserved to be deposed, because
they had given occasion to disorders, and had acted in opposition
to the commands of the Emperors, and besides, were in the chapters
mentioned [the anathematisms] guilty of heresy. All who had been
misled by them were to be excommunicated until they confessed
their error, anathematized the heretical propositions of Cyril,
adhered strictly to the creed of Nice, without any foreign addition,
and joined the synod of John."
The assembly approved of this proposal, and John then announced
the sentence in the following manner:--
"The holy Synod, assembled in Ephesus, by the grace of
God and the command of the pious Emperors, declares: We should
indeed have wished to be able to hold a Synod in peace, but because
you held a separate assembly from a heretical, insolent, and obstinate
disposition, although we were already in the neighbourhood, and
have filled both the city and the holy Synod with confusion, in
order to prevent tire examination of your Apollinarian, Arian,
and Eunomian heresies, and have not waited for the arrival of
the holy bishops of all regions, and have also disregarded the
warnings and admonitions of Candidian, therefore shall you, Cyril
of Alexandria, and you Memnon of this place, know that you are
deposed and dismissed from all sacerdotal functions, as the originators
of the whole disorder, etc. You others, who gave your consent,
are excommunicated, until you acknowledge your fault and reform,
accept anew the Nicene faith [as if they had surrendered it!]
without foreign addition, anathematize the heretical propositions
of Cyril, and in all things comply with the command of the Emperors,
who require a peaceful and more accurate consideration of the
This decree was subscribed by all the forty-three members of the
The Conciliabulum then, in very one-sided letters informed the
Emperor, the imperial
ladies (the wife and sister of the Emperor Theodosius II.), the
clergy, the senate, and the people of Constantinople, of all that
had taken place, and a little later once more required the members
of the genuine Synod, in writing, no longer to delay the time
for repentance and conversion, and to separate themselves from
Cyril and Memnon, etc., otherwise they would very soon be forced
to lament their own folly.
On Saturday evening the Conciliabulum asked Count Candidian
to take care that neither Cyril nor Memnon, nor any one of their
(excommunicated) adherents should hold divine service on Sunday.
Candidian now wished that no member of either synodal party should
officiate, but only the ordinary clergy of the city; but Memnon
declared that he would in no way submit to John and his synod,
and Cyril and his adherents held divine service. All the efforts
of John to appoint by force another bishop of Ephesus in the place
of Memnon were frustrated by the opposition of the orthodox inhabitants.
IF any provincial bishops were not present at the holy Synod
and have joined or attempted to join the apostacy; or if, after
subscribing the deposition of Nestorius, they went back into the
assembly of apostates; these men, according to the decree of the
holy Synod, are to be deposed from the priesthood and degraded
from their rank.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON II.
If any bishop assents to or favours Nestorius, let him be
It was not unnatural that when it was seen that the Imperial
authority was in favour of the Antiochene party that some of the
clergy should have been weak enough to vacillate in their course,
the more so as the Conciliabulum was not either avowedly, nor
really, a Nestorian assembly, but one made up of those not sympathizing
with Nestorius's heresy, yet friendly to the heretic himself,
and disapproving of what they looked upon as the uncalled-for
harshness and precipitancy of Cyril's course.
IF any of the city or country clergy have been inhibited by
Nestorius or his followers from the exercise of the priesthood,
on account of their orthodoxy, we have declared it just that these
should be restored to their proper rank. And in general we forbid
all the clergy who adhere to the Orthodox and Ecumenical Synod
in any way to submit to the bishops who have already apostatized
or shall hereafter apostatize.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON III.
To whom Nestorius forbids the priesthood, he is most worthy;
but whom he approves is profane.
It would seem from this canon that any bishop who had become
a member of the Conciliabulum of John, was considered as eo ipso
having lost all jurisdiction. Also it would seem that the clergy
were to disregard the inhibition of Nestorian prelates or at least
these inhibitions were by some one to be removed. This principle,
if generally applied, would seem to be somewhat revolutionary.
(Apos. Fath. Ign. Ad Rom. i., Vol. II., Sec. I., p. 191.)
("district"), may be distinguished as implying locality,
extension, and limitation, respectively. The last word commonly
denotes either "an estate, a farm," or "a fastness,
a stronghold," or (as a mathematical term) "an area."
Here, as not unfrequently in later writers, it is "a region,
a district," but the same fundamental idea is presumed. The
is the same as that of
former being the metals themselves, the latter the metals worked
up into bullion or coins or plate or trinkets or images, e.g.
Macar. Magn. Apocr. iii. 42 (p. 147).
IF any of the clergy should fall away, and publicly or privately
presume to maintain the doctrines of Nestorius or Celestius, it
is declared just by the holy Synod that these also should be deposed.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON IV.
If any of the clergy shall consent to Celestine (1) or Nestorius,
let them be deposed.
EXCURSUS ON PELAGIANISM.
The only point which is material to the main object of this volume
is that Pelagius and his fellow heretic Celestius were condemned
by the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus for their heresy. On this
point there can be no possible doubt. And further than this the
Seventh Council by ratifying the Canons of Trullo received the
Canons of the African Code which include those of the Carthaginian
conciliar condemnations of the Pelagian heresy to which the attention
of the reader is particularly drawn. The condemnation of these
heretics at Ephesus is said to have been due chiefly to the energy
of St. Augustine, assisted very materially by a layman living
in Constantinople by the name of Marius Mercator. Pelagius and
his heresy have a sad interest to us as he is said to have been
born in Britain. He was a monk and preached at Rome with great
applause in the early years of the fifth century. But in his extreme
horror of Manichaeism and Gnosticism he fell into the opposite
extreme; and from the hatred of the doctrine of the inherent evilness
of humanity he fell into the error of denying the necessity of
grace. Pelagius's doctrines may be briefly stated thus. Adam's
sin injured only himself, so that there is no such thing as original
sin. Infants therefore are not born in sin and the children of
wrath, but are born innocent, and only need baptism so as to be
knit into Christ, not "for the remission of sins" as
is declared in the creed. Further he taught that man could live
without committing any sin at all. And for this there was no need
of grace; indeed grace was not possible, according to his teaching.
The only "grace," which he would admit the existence
of, was what we may call external grace, e.g. the example of Christ,
the teaching of his ministers, and the like. Petavius (2) indeed
thinks that he allowed the activity of internal grace to illumine
the intellect, but this seems quite doubtful. Pelagius's writings
have come down to us in a more or less -- generally the latter
-- pure form. There are fourteen books on the Epistles of St.
Paul, also a letter to Demetrius and his Libellus fidei ad Innocentium.
In the writings of St. Augustine are found fragments of Pelagius's
writings on free will. It would be absurd to attempt in the limits
possible to this volume to give any, even the most sketchy, treatment
of the doctrine involved in the Pelagian controversy: the reader
must be referred to the great theologians for this and to aid
him I append a bibliographical table on the subject. St. Augustine.
St. Jerome. Marius Mercator, Commonitorium super nomine Coelestii.
Vossius, G. J., Histor. de controv. quas Pel. ejusque reliquioe
Noris. Historia Pelagiana.
Garnier, J. Dissertat. in Pelag. in Opera Mar. Mercator.
Quesnel, Dissert. de conc. Africanis in Pelag. causa celebratis
Fuchs, G. D., Bibliothek der Kirchenversammlungen.
Horn, De sentent. Pat. de peccato orig.
Habert, P. L., Theologioe Groecorum Patrum vindicatoe circa univers.
materiam gratioe. Petavius, De Pelag. et Semi-Pelag. (1)
The English works on the subject are so well known to the English
reader as to need no mention. As it is impossible to treat the
theological question here, so too is it impossible to treat the
historical question. However I may remind the reader that Nestorius
and his heresy were defended by Theodore of Mopsuestia, and that
he and Celestius were declared by Pope Zosimus to be innocent
in the year 417, a decision which was entirely disregarded by
the rest of the world, a Carthaginian Synod subsequently anathematizing
him. Finally the Pope retracted his former decision, and in 418
anathematized him and his fellow, and gave notice of this in his
"epistola tractoria" to the bishops. Eighteen Italian
bishops, who had followed the Pope in his former decision of a
twelve month before, refused to change their minds at his bidding
now, and were accordingly deposed, among them Julian of Eclanum.
After this Pelagius and Celestius found a fitting harbour of refuge
with Nestorius of Constantinople, and so all three were condemned
together by the council of Ephesus, he that denied the incarnation
of the Word, and they twain that denied the necessity of that
incarnation and of the grace purchased thereby.
IF any have been condemned for evil practices by the holy Synod,
or by their own bishops; and if, with his usual lack of discrimination,
Nestorius (or his followers) has attempted, or shall hereafter
attempt, uncanonically to restore such persons to communion and
to their former rank, we have declared that they shall not be
profited thereby, but shall remain deposed nevertheless.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON V.
If one condemned by his bishop is received by Nestorius it shall
profit him nothing.
This canon is interesting as shewing that thus early in the history
of the Church, it was not unusual for those disciplined for their
faults in one communion to go to another and there be welcomed
and restored, to the overthrow of discipline and to the lowering
of the moral sense of the people to whom they minister.
LIKEWISE, if any should in any way attempt to set aside the orders
in each case made by the holy Synod at Ephesus, the holy Synod
decrees that, if they be bishops or clergymen, they shall absolutely
forfeit their office; and, if laymen, that they shall be excommunicated.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON VI.
If any layman shall resist the Synod, let him be excommunicated.
But if it be a cleric let him be discharged.
How courageous the passing of this canon was can only be justly
appreciated by those who are familiar with the weight of the imperial
authority at that day in ecclesiastical matters and who will remember
that at the very time this canon was passed it was extremely difficult
to say whether the Emperor would support Cyril's or John's synod.
OBSERVATION OF THE ROMAN EDITORS (Ed:1608).
In the Vatican books and in some others only these six canons
are found; but in certain texts there is added, under the name
of Canon VII., the definition of the same holy Synod put forth
after the Presbyter Charisius had stated his case, and for Canon
VIII. another decree of the synod concerning the bishops of Cyprus.
OBSERVATION OF PHILIP LABBE, S.J.P.
In the Collections of John Zonaras and of Theodore Balsamon, also
in the "Code of the Universal Church" which has John
Tilius, Bishop of St. Brieuc and Christopher Justellus for its
editors, are found eight canons of the Ephesine council, to wit
the six which are appended to the foregoing epistle and two others:
but it is altogether a subject of wonder that in the Codex of
Canons, made for the Roman Church by Dionysius Exiguus, none of
these canons are found at all. I suppose that the reason of this
is that the Latins saw that they were not decrees affecting the
Universal Church, but that the Canons set forth by the Ephesine
fathers dealt merely with the peculiar and private matters of
Nestorius and of his followers.
The Decree of the same holy Synod, pronounced after hearing the
Exposition [of the Faith] by the Three hundred and eighteen holy
and blessed Fathers in the city of Nice, and the impious formula
composed by Theodore of Mopsuestia, and given to the same holy
Synod at Ephesus by the Presbyter Charisius, of Philadelphia:
WHEN these things had been read, the holy Synod decreed that it
is unlawful for any man to bring forward, or to write, or to compose
a different (
) Faith as a rival
to that established by the holy Fathers assembled with the Holy
Ghost in Nicaea.
But those who shall dare to compose a different faith, or to introduce
or offer it to persons desiring to turn to the acknowledgment
of the truth, whether from Heathenism or from Judaism, or from
any heresy whatsoever, shall be deposed, if they be bishops or
clergymen; bishops from the episcopate and clergymen from the
clergy; and if they be laymen, they shall be anathematized.
And in like manner, if any, whether bishops, clergymen, or laymen,
should be discovered to hold or teach the doctrines contained
in the Exposition introduced by the Presbyter Charisius concerning
the Incarnation of the Only-Begotten Son of God, or the abominable
and profane doctrines of Nestorius, which are subjoined, they
shall be subjected to the sentence of this holy and ecumenical
Synod. So that, if it be a bishop, he shall be removed from his
bishopric and degraded; if it be a clergyman, he shall likewise
be stricken from the clergy; and if it be a layman, he shall be
anathematized, as has been afore said.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON VII.
Any bishop who sets forth a faith other than that of Nice shall
be an alien from the Church: if a layman do so let him be cast
The heading is that found in the ordinary Greek texts. The canon
itself is found verbatim in the Acts -- Actio VI. (Labbe and Cossart,
Concilia, Tom. III., col. 689.)
"When these things had been read." Balsamon here makes
an egregious mistake, for it was not after the reading of the
decree of this council and of the Nicene Creed, that this canon
was set forth, as Balsamon affirms; but after the reading of the
libellum of Charisius, and of the Nestorian Creed, as is abundantly
evident from what we read in the Acts of the
council. From this it is clear that Balsamon had never seen the
Acts of this council, or at least had never carefully studied
them, else he could not have written such a comment.
[With regard to Charisius, Balsamon] makes another mistake. For
not only did this presbyter not follow the evil opinions of Nestorius,
but as a matter of fact exhibited to the synod his libellum written
against Nestorius; in which so far from asserting that Nestorius
was orthodox, he distinctly calls him
Photius has included this canon in his Nomocanons, Title I., cap.
EXCURSUS ON THE WORDS
It has been held by some and was urged by the Greeks at the Council
of Florence, (1) and often before and since, as well as by Pope
Leo III., in answer to the ambassadors of Charlemagne, that the
prohibition of the Council of Ephesus to make, hold, or teach
any other faith than that of Nice forbade anyone, even a subsequent
General Council, to add anything to the creed. This interpretation
seems to be shewn to be incorrect from the following circumstances.
1. That the prohibition was passed by the Council immediately
after it had heard Charisius read his creed, which it had approved,
and on the strength of which it had received its author, and after
the reading of a Nestorian creed which it condemned. From this
it seems clear that
"different," "contradictory," and not "another"
in the sense of mere explanatory additions to the already existing
(E. B. Pusey, On the Clause "and the Son," p. 81.)
St. Cyril ought to understand the canon, which he probably himself
framed, as presiding over the Council of Ephesus, as Archbishop
of Alexandria and representative of Celestine, Bishop of Rome.
His signature immediately succeeds the Canon. We can hardly think
that we understand it better than he who probably framed it, nay
who presided over the Council which passed it. He, however, explained
that what was not against the Creed was not beside it. The Orientals
had proposed to him, as terms of communion, that he should "do
away with all he had written in epistles, tomes, or books, and
agree with that only faith which had been defined by our holy
Fathers at Nice." But, St. Cyril wrote back: "We all
follow that exposition of faith which was defined by the holy
fathers in the city of Nice, sapping absolutely nothing of the
things contained in it. For they are all right and unexceptionable;
and anything curious, after it, is not safe. But what I have rightly
written against the blasphemies of Nestorius no words will persuade
me to say that they were not done well:" and against the
imputation that he "had received an exposition of faith or
new Creed, as dishonouring that old and venerable Creed,"
"Neither have we demanded of any an exposition of faith,
nor have we received one newly framed by others. For Divine Scripture
suffices us, and the prudence of the holy fathers, and the symbol
of faith, framed perfectly as to all right doctrine. But since
the most holy Eastern Bishops differed from us as to that of Ephesus
and were somehow suspected of being entangled in the meshes of
Nestorius, therefore they very wisely made a defence, to free
themselves from blame, and eager to satisfy the lovers of the
blameless faith that they were minded to have no share in his
impiety; and the thing is far from all note of blame. If Nestorius
himself, when we all held out to him that he ought to condemn
his own dogmas and choose the truth instead thereof, had made
a written confession thereon, who would say that he framed for
us a new exposition of faith? Why then do they calumniate the
assent of the most holy Bishops of Phoenicia, calling it a new
setting forth of the Creed, whereas they made it for a good and
necessary end, to defend themselves and soothe those
who thought that they followed the innovations of Nestorius? For
the holy Ecumenical Synod gathered at Ephesus provided, of necessity,
that no other exposition of faith besides that which existed,
which the most blessed fathers, speaking in the Holy Ghost, defined,
should be brought into the Churches of God. But they who at one
time, I know not how, differed from it, and were suspected of
not being right-minded, following the Apostolic and Evangelic
doctrines, how should they free themselves from this ill-report?
by silence? or rather by self-defence, and by manifesting the
power of the faith which was in them? The divine disciple wrote,
"be ready always to give an answer to every one who asketh
you an account of the hope which is in you." But he who willeth
to do this, innovates in nothing, nor doth he frame any new exposition
of faith, but rather maketh plain to those who ask him, what faith
he hath concerning Christ." (1)
2. The fathers of the Council of Chalcedon, by their practice,
are authoritative exponents of the Canon of Ephesus. For they
renewed the prohibition of the Council of Ephesus to "adduce
any other faith," but, in "the faith" which is
not to be set aside, they included not only the Creeds of Nice
and Constantinople, but the definitions at Ephesus and Chalcedon
itself. The statements of the faith were expanded, because fresh
contradictions of the faith had emerged. After directing that
both Creeds should be read, the Council says, "This wise
and saving Symbol of Divine grace would have sufficed to the full
knowledge and confirmation of the faith; for it teaches thoroughly
the perfect truth of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and presents
to those who receive it faithfully the Incarnation of the Lord."
Then, having in detail shewn how both heresies were confuted by
it, and having set forth the true doctrine, they sum up.
"These things being framed by us with all accuracy and care
on every side, the holy and ecumenical Synod defines, that it
shall be lawful for no one to produce or compose, or put together,
or hold, or teach others another faith, and those who venture,
etc." (as in the Council of Ephesus).
The Council of Chalcedon enlarged greatly the terms although not
the substance of the faith contained in the Nicene Creed; and
that, in view of the heresies, which had since arisen; and yet
renewed in terms the prohibition of the Canon of Ephesus and the
penalties annexed to its infringement. It shewed, then, in practice,
that it did not hold the enlargement of the things proposed as
deride to be prohibited, but only the producing of things contradictory
to the faith once delivered to the saints. Its prohibition, moreover,
to "hold" another faith shews the more that they meant
only to prohibit any contradictory statement of faith. For if
they had prohibited any additional statement not being a contradiction
of its truth, then (as Cardinal Julian acutely argued in the Council
of Florence), any one would fall under its anathema, who held
(as all must) anything not expressed in set terms in the Nicene
Creed; such as that God is eternal or incomprehensible.
It may not be amiss to remember that the argument that
forbids any addition to the Creed or any further definition of
the faith, was that urged by the heretics at the Latrocinium,
and the orthodox were there condemned on the ground that they
had added to the faith and laid themselves under the Anathema
of Ephesus. How far this interpretation was from being that of
the Council of Chalcedon is evinced by the fact that it immediately
declared that St. Flavian and Bishop Eusebius had been unjustly
deposed, and proceeded to depose those who had deposed them. After
stating these facts Dr. Pusey remarks, "Protestants may reject
consistently the authority of all councils; but on what grounds
any who accept their authority can insist on their own private
interpretation of a canon of one council against the authority
of another General Council which rejected that interpretation,
I see not." (2)
4. The Fifth Ecumenical Council, the Second of Constantinople,
received both the creeds of Nice and that of Constantinople, as
well of the definitions of Ephesus and Chalcedon, and yet at the
end of the fourth Session we find in the acts that the fathers
cried out, with respect to the creed of Theodore of Mopsuestia:
"This creed Satan composed. Anathema to him that composed
this creed! The First Council of Ephesus anathematized this creed
and its author. We know only one symbol of faith, that which the
holy fathers of Nice set forth and handed down. This also the
three holy Synods handed down. Into this we were baptized, and
into this we baptize, etc., etc." (1)
From this it is clearer than day that these fathers looked upon
the creed of Constantinople, with its additions, to be yet the
same creed as that of Nice.
(Le Quien, Diss. Dam., n. 37.)
In the Sixth Council also, no one objecting, Peter of Nicomedia,
Theodore, and other bishops, clerks, and monks, who had embraced
the Monothelite heresy, openly recited a Creed longer and fuller
than the Nicene.
In the Seventh Synod also, another was read written by Theodore
of Jerusalem: and again, Basil of Ancyra, and the other Bishops,
who had embraced the errors of the Iconoclasts, again offered
another, although the Canon of Ephesus pronounced, that "it
should not be lawful to offer to heretics, who wished to be converted
to the Church, any other creed than the Nicene." In this
same Synod, was read another profession of faith, which Tarasius
had sent to the Patriarchs of the Eastern sees. It contains the
Nicene, or Constantinopolitan Creed, variously enlarged and interpolated.
But of the Holy Spirit it has specifically this: "And in
the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, which proceedeth
from the Father through the Son." But since the Greeks at
the Council of Florence said, that these were individual, not
common, formulae of faith, here are others, which are plainly
common and solemn, which are contained in their own rituals. They
do not baptize a Hebrew or a Jew, until he have pronounced a profession
of Christian Faith, altogether different from the Creed of Constantinople,
as may be seen in the Euchologion. In the consecration of a Bishop,
the Bishop elect is first bidden to recite the Creed of Constantinople;
and then, as if this did not suffice, a second and a third are
demanded of him; of which the last contains that aforesaid symbol,
intermingled with various declarations. Nay, Photius himself is
pointed out to be the author of this interpolated symbol. (2)
I pass by other formulae, which the Greeks have framed for those
who return to the Church from divers heresies or sects, although
the terms of the Canon of Ephesus are, that "it is unlawful
to propose any other faith to those who wish to be converted to
the Church, from heathenism, or Judaism, or any heresy whatever."
The Judgment of the same Holy Synod, pronounced on the petition
presented to it by the Bishops of Cyprus:
OUR brother bishop Rheginus, the beloved of God, and his fellow
beloved of God bishops, Zeno and Evagrius, of the Province of
Cyprus, have reported to us an innovation which has been introduced
contrary to the ecclessiastical constitutions and the Canons of
the Holy Apostles, and which touches the liberties of all. Wherefore,
since injuries affecting all require the more attention, as they
cause the greater damage, and particularly when they are transgressions
of an ancient custom; and since those excellent men, who have
petitioned the Synod, have told us in writing and by word of mouth
that the Bishop of Antioch has in this way held ordinations in
Cyprus; therefore the Rulers of the holy churches in Cyprus shall
enjoy, without dispute or injury, according to the Canons of the
blessed Fathers and ancient custom, the right of performing for
themselves the ordination of their excellent Bishops. The same
rule shall be observed in the other dioceses and provinces everywhere,
so that none of the God beloved Bishops shall assume control of
any province which has not heretofore, from the very beginning,
been under his own hand or that of his predecessors. But if any
one has violently taken and subjected [a Province], he shall give
it up; lest the Canons of the Fathers be transgressed; or the
vanities of worldly honour be brought in under pretext of sacred
office; or we lose, without knowing it, little by little, the
liberty which Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Deliverer of all men,
hath given us by his own Blood.
Wherefore, this holy and ecumenical Synod has decreed that
in every province the rights which heretofore, from the beginning,
have belonged to it, shall be preserved to it, according to the
old prevailing custom, unchanged and uninjured: every Metropolitan
having permission to take, for his own security, a copy of these
acts. And if any one shall bring forward a rule contrary to what
is hero determined, this holy and ecumenical Synod unanimously
decrees that it shall be of no effect.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON VIII.
Let the rights of each province be preserved pure and inviolate.
No attempt to introduce any form contrary to these shall be of
The caption is the one given in the ordinary Greek texts.
The canon is found word for word in the VII Session of the Council,
with the heading, "A decree of the same holy Synod."
(Labbe and Cossart, Concilia, Tom. III., col. 802.)
I have followed in reading "the Canons of the Holy Apostles"
the reading in Balsamon and Zonaras, and that of Elias Ehingerus
Augustanus (so says Beveridge) in his edition of the Greek canons,
A.D. 1614. But the Bodleian MS, and John of Antioch in his collection
of the Canons, and the Codex edited by Christopher Justellus read
"of the Holy Fathers" instead of "of the Holy Apostles."
Beveridge is of opinion that this is the truer reading, for while
no doubt the Ephesine Fathers had in mind the Apostolic Canons,
yet they seem to have more particularly referred in this place
to the canons of Nice. And this seems to be intimated in the libellum
of the Bishops of Cyprus, who gave rise to this very decree,
in which the condemned practice is said to be "contrary
to the Apostolic Canons and to the definitions of the most holy
Council of Nice."
This canon Photius does not recognize, for in the Preface
to his Nomocanon he distinctly writes that there were but seven
canons adopted by the Ephesine Synod, and in the first chapter
of the first title he cites the pre- ceding canon as the seventh,
that is the last. John of Antioch likewise says that there are
but seven canons of Ephesus, but reckons this present canon as
the seventh, from which Beveridge concludes that he rejects the
Canon concerning Charisius (vii).
Concerning the present canon, of rather decree, the Bishop
of Antioch, who had given occasion to the six former canons, gave
also occasion for the enacting of this, by arrogating to himself
the right of ordaining in the Island of Cyprus, in violation of
former usage. After the bishops of that island, who are mentioned
in the canon, had presented their statements (libellum) to the
Synod, the present decree was set forth, in which warning was
given that no innovation should be tolerated in Ecclesiastical
administration, whether in Cyprus or elsewhere; but that in all
Dioceses and Provinces their ancient rights and privileges should
THE LETTER OF THE SAME HOLY SYNOD OF EPHESUS, TO THE SACRED SYNOD
IN PAMPHYLIA CONCERNING EUSTATHIUS WHO HAD BEEN THEIR METROPOLITAN.
(Labbe and Cossart, Concilia, Tome III., col. 806.)
Forasmuch as the divinely inspired Scripture says, "Do
all things with vice," (1) it is especially their duty who
have had the priestly ministry allotted to them to examine with
all diligence whatever matters are to be transacted. For to those
who will so spend their lives, it comes to pass both that they
are established in [the enjoyment of] an honest hope concerning
what belongs to them, and that they are borne along, as by a favouring
breeze, in things that they desire: so that, in truth, the saying
[of the Scripture] has much reason [to commend it]. But there
are times when bitter and intolerable grief swoops down upon the
mind, and has the effect of cruelly beclouding it, so as to carry
it away from the pursuit of what is needful, and persuade it to
consider that to be of service which is in its [very] nature mischievous.
Something of this kind we have seen endured by that most excellent
and most religious Bishop Eustathius. For it is in evidence that
he has been ordained canonically; but having been much disturbed,
as he declares, by certain parties, and having entered upon circumstances
he had not foreseen, therefore, though fully able to repel the
slanders of his persecutors, he nevertheless, through an extraordinary
inexperience of affairs, declined to battle with the difficulties
which beset him, and in some way that we know not set forth an
act of resignation. Yet it behooved him, when he had been once
en-trusted with the priestly care, to cling to it with spiritual
energy, and, as it were, to strip himself to strive against the
troubles and gladly to endure the sweat for which he had bargained.
But inasmuch as he proved himself to be deficient in practical
capacity, having met with this misfortune rather from inexperience
than from cowardice and sloth, your holiness has of necessity
ordained our most excellent and most religious brother and fellow-bishop,
Theodore, as the overseer of the Church; for it
was not reasonable that it should remain in widowhood, and that
the Saviour's sheep should pass their time without a shepherd.
But when he came to us weeping, not contending with the aforenamed
most religious Bishop Theodore for his See or Church, but in the
meantime seeking only for his rank and title as a bishop, we all
suffered with the old man in his grief, and considering his weeping
as our own, we hastened to discover whether the aforenamed [Eustathius]
had been subjected to a legal deposition, or whether, forsooth,
he had been convicted on any of the absurd charges alleged by
certain parties who had poured forth idle gossip against his reputation.
And indeed we learned that nothing of such a kind had taken place,
but rather that his resignation had been counted against the said
Eustathins instead of a [regular] indictment. Wherefore, we did
by no means blame your holiness for being compelled to ordain
into his place the aforenamed most excellent Bishop Theodore.
But forasmuch as it was not seemly to contend much against the
unpractical character of the man, while it was rather necessary
to have pity on the eider who, at so advanced an age, was now
so far away from the city which had given him birth, and from
the dwelling-places of his fathers, we have judicially pronounced
and decreed without any opposition, that he shall have both the
name, and the rank, and the communion of the episcopate. On this
condition, however, only, that he shall not ordain, and that he
shall not take and minister to a Church of his own individual
authority; but that [he shall do so only] if taken as an assistant,
or when appointed, if it should so chance, by a brother and fellow-bishop,
in accordance with the ordinance and the love which is in Christ.
If, however, ye shall determine anything more favourable towards
him, either now or hereafter, this also will be pleasing to the
THE LETTER OF THE SYNOD TO POPE CELESTINE.
(Labbe and Cossart, Concilia, Tom. III., col. 659; also in
Migne, Pat. Lat. [reprinted from Galland., Vett. Patr., Tom. ix.],
Tom. L., Ep. xx., col. 511.)
THE RELATION WHICH THE HOLY COUNCIL OF EPHESUS SENT TO POPE CELESTINE;
IN WHICH ARE EXPLAINED WHAT THINGS WERE DONE IN THAT HOLY AND
The Holy Synod which by the grace of God was assembled at
Ephesus the Metropolis to the most holy and our fellow-minister
Coelestine, health in the Lord.
The zeal of your holiness for piety, and your care for the right
faith, so grateful and highly pleasing to God the Saviour of us
all, are worthy of all admiration. For it is your custom in such
great matters to make trial of all things, and the confirmation
of the Churches you have made your own care. But since it is right
that all things which have taken place should be brought to the
knowledge of your holiness, we are writing of necessity [to inform
you] that, by the will of Christ the Saviour of us all, and in
accordance with the orders of the most pious and Christ-loving
Emperors, we assembled together in the Metropolis of the Ephesians
from many and far scattered regions, being in all over two hundred
bishops. Then, in accordance with the decrees of the Christ-loving
Emperors by whom we were assembled, we fixed the date of the meeting
of the holy Synod as the Feast of the Holy Pentecost, all agreeing
thereto, especially as it was contained in the letters of the
Emperors that if anyone did not arrive at the appointed time,
he was absent with no good conscience, and was inexcusable both
before God and man. The most reverend John bishop of Antioch stopped
behind; not in singleness of heart, nor because the length of
the journey made the impediment, but hiding in his mind his plan
and his thought (which was so displeasing to God,) [a plan and
thought] which he made clear when not long afterwards he arrived
Therefore we put off the assembling [of the council] after the
appointed day of the Holy Pentecost for sixteen whole days; in
the meanwhile many of the bishops and clerics were overtaken with
illness, and much burdened by the expense, and some even died.
A great injury was thus being done to the great Synod, as your
holiness easily perceives. For he used perversely such long delay
that many from much greater distances arrived before him.
Nevertheless after sixteen days had passed, certain of the
bishops who were with him, to wit, two Metropolitans, the one
Alexander of Apamea, and the other Alexander of Hierapolis, arrived
before him. And when we complained of the tardy coming of the
most reverend bishop John, not once, but often, we were told,
"He gave us command to announce to your reverence, that if
anything should happen to delay him, not to put off the Synod,
but to do what was right." After having received this message,--and
as it was manifest, as well from his delay as from the announcements
just made to us, that he refused to attend the Council, whether
out of friendship to Nestorius, or because he had been a cleric
of a church under his sway, or out of regard to petitions made
by some in his favour,--the Holy Council sat in the great church
of Ephesus, which bears the name of Mary.
But when all with zeal had come together, Nestorius alone
was found missing from the council, thereupon the holy Synod sent
him admonition in accordance with the canons by bishops, a first,
second, and third time. But he surrounding his house with soldiers,
set himself up against the ecclesiastical laws, neither did he
shew himself, nor give any satisfaction for his iniquitous blasphemies.
After this the letters were read which were written to him
by the most holy and most reverend bishop of the Church of Alexandria,
Cyril, which the Holy Synod approved as being orthodox and without
and in no point out of agreement either with the divinely inspired
Scriptures, or with the faith banded down and set forth in the
great synod of holy Fathers, which assembled
sometime ago at Nice in Bithynia, as your holiness also rightly
having examined this has given witness.
On the other hand there was read the letter of Nestorius,
which was written to the already mentioned most holy and reverend
brother of ours and fellow-minister, Cyril, and the Holy Synod
was of opinion that those things which were taught in it were
wholly alien from the Apostolic and Evangelical faith, sick with
many and strange blasphemies.
His most impious expositions were likewise read, and also
the letter written to him by your holiness, in which he was properly
condemned as one who had written blasphemy and had inserted irreligious
) in his private exegesis,
and after this a just sentence of deposition was pronounced against
him; especially is this sentence just, because he is so far removed
from being penitent, or from a confession of the matters in which
he blasphemed, while yet he had the Church of Constantinople,
that even in the very metropolis of the Ephesians, he delivered
a sermon to certain of the Metropolitical bishops, men who were
not ignorant, but learned and God-fearing, in which he was bold
enough to say, "I do not confess a two or three months old
God," and he said other things more outrageous than this.
Therefore as an impious and most pestilent heresy, which perverts
our most pure religion (
and which overthrows from the foundation the whole economy of
the mystery [i.e. the Incarnation], we cast it down, as we have
said above. But it was not possible, as it seemed, that those
who had the sincere love of Christ, and were zealous in the Lord
should not experience many trials. For we had hoped that the most
reverend John, bishop of Antioch would have praised the sedulous
care and piety of the Synod, and that perchance he would have
blamed the slowness of Nestorius's deposition. But all things
turned out contrary to our hope. For he was found to be an enemy,
and a most warlike one, to the holy Synod, and even to the orthodox
faith of the churches, as these things indicate.
For as soon as he was come to Ephesus, before he had even
shaken off the dust of the journey, or changed his travelling
dress, he assembled those who had sided with
Nestorius and who had uttered blasphemies against their head,
and only not derided the glory of Christ, and gathering as a college
to himself, I suppose, thirty men, having the name of bishops
(some of whom were without sees, wandering about and having no
dioceses, others others again had for many years been deposed
for serious causes from their metropolises, and with these were
Pelagians and the followers of Celestius, and some of those who
were turned out of Thessaly),he had the presumption to commit
a piece of iniquity no man had ever done before. For all by himself
he drew up a paper which he called a deposition, and reviled and
reproached the most holy and reverend Cyril, bishop of Alexandria,
and the most reverend Memnon, bishop of Ephesus, our brother,
and fellow-minister, none of us knowing anything about it, and
not even those who were thus reviling knew what was being done,
nor for what reason they had presumed to do this. But ignoring
the anger of God for such behaviour, and unheeding the ecclesiastical
canons, and forgetting that they were hastening to destruction
by such a course of action, under the name of an excommunication,
they then reviled the whole Synod. And placing these acts of theirs
on the public bulletin boards, they exposed them to be read by
such as chose to do so, having posted them on the outside of the
theatres, that they might make a spectacle of their impiety. But
not even was this the limit of their audacity; but as if they
had done something in accordance with the canons, they dared to
bring what they had done to the ears of the most pious and Christ-loving
Emperors. Things being in this condition, the most holy and reverend
Cyril, bishop of Alexandria and the most reverend Memnon bishop
of the city of Ephesus, offered some books composed by themselves
and accusing the most reverend Bishop John and those who with
him had done this thing, and conjuring our holy Synod that John
and those with him should be summoned according to the canons,
so that they might apologize for their dating acts, and if they
had any complaints to make they might speak and prove them, for
in their written deposition, or rather sheet of abuse, they made
this statement as a pretext, "They are Apollinarians, and
Arians, and Eunomians, and therefore they have been deposed by
When, therefore, those who had endured their reviling were present,
we again necessarily assembled in the great church, being more
than two hundred bishops, and by a first, second, and third call
on two days, we summoned John and his companions to the Synod,
in order that they might examine those who had been reviled, and
might make explanations, and tell the causes which led them to
draw up the sentence of deposition; but he (1) did not dare to come.
But it was right that he, if he could truly prove the before-mentioned
holy men to be heretics, both should come and prove the truth
of that which, accepted as a true and indubitable crime, induced
the temerarious sentence against them. But being condemned by
his own conscience he did not come. Now what he had planned was
this. For he thought that when that foundation-less and most unjust
reviling was done away, the just vote of the Synod which it cast
against the heretic Nestorius would likewise be dissolved. Being
justly vexed, therefore, we determined to inflict according to
law the same penalty upon him and those who were with him, which
he contrary to law had pronounced against those who had been convicted
of no fault. But although most justly and in accordance with law
he would have suffered this punishment yet in the hope that by
our patience his temerity might be conquered, we have reserved
this to the decision of your holiness. In the meanwhile, we have
deprived them of communion and have taken from them all priestly
power, so that they may not be able to do any harm by their opinions.
For those who thus ferociously, and cruelly, and uncanonically
are wont to rush to such frightful and most wicked things, how
was it not necessary that they should be stripped of the powers
which [as a matter of fact] they did not possess, (2) of being
able to do harm.
With our brethren and fellow-ministers, both Cyril the bishop
and Memnon, who had endured reproval at their hands, we are all
in communion, and after the rashness [of their accusers] we both
have and do perform the liturgy in common, all together celebrating the Synaxis,
having made of none effect their play in writing, and having thus
shewn that it lacked all validity and effect. For it was mere
reviling and nothing else. For what kind of a synod could thirty
men hold, some of whom were marked with the stamp of heresy, and
some without sees and ejected [from their dioceses]? Or what strength
could it have in opposition to a synod gathered from all the whole
world? For there were sitting with us the most reverend bishops
Arcadius and Projectus, and with them the most holy presbyter
Philip, all of whom were sent by your holiness, who gave to us
your presence and filled the place of the Apostolic See (
Let then your holiness be angered at what took place. But if license
were granted to such as wished to pour reproval upon the greater
sees, and thus unlawfully and uncanonically to give sentence or
rather to utter revilings against those over whom they have no
power, against those who for religion have endured such great
conflicts, by reason of which now also piety shines forth through
the prayers of your holiness [if, I say, all this should be tolerated],
the affairs of the Church would fall into the greatest confusion.
But when those who dare to do such things shall have been chastised
aright, all disturbance will cease, and the reverence due to the
canons will be observed by all.
When there had been read in the holy Synod what had been done
touching the deposition of the most irreligious Pelagians and
Coelestines, of Coelestius, and Pelagius, and Julian, and Praesidius,
and Florus, and Marcellian, and Orontius, and those inclined to
like errors, we also deemed it right (
that the determinations of your holiness concerning them should
stand strong and firm. And we all were of the same mind, holding
them deposed. And that you may know in full all things that have
been done, we have sent you a copy of the Acts, and of the subscriptions
of the Synod. We pray that you, dearly beloved t and most longed
for, may be strong and mindful of us in the Lord. (3)
THE DEFINITION OF THE HOLY AND ECUMENICAL SYNOD OF
EPHESUS AGAINST THE IMPIOUS MESSALIANS WHO ARE ALSO
CALLED EUCHETAE ANDENTHUSIASTS.
(Found in Latin only. Labbe and Cossart, Concilia, Tom. III.,
When the most pious and religious bishops, Valerian and Amphilochius
had come to us, they proposed that we should consider in common
the case of the Messalians, that is the Euchetes or Enthusiasts,
who were flourishing in Pamphylia, or by what other name this
most contaminating heresy is called. And when we were considering
the question, the most pious and religious bishop Valerian, presented
to us a synodical schedule which had been drawn up concerning
them in the great city of Constantinople, under Sisinnius of blessed
memory: What we read therein was ap-proved by all, as well composed
and as a due presentation of the case. And it seemed good to us
all, and to the most pious bishops Valerian and Amphilochius and
to all the most pious bishops of the provinces of Pamphylia and
Lycaonia, that all things contained in that Synodical chart should
be confirmed and in no way rescinded; also that the action taken
at Alexandria might also be made firm, so that all, those who
throughout the whole province are of the Messalian or Enthusiastic
heresy, or suspected of being tainted with that heresy, whether
clerics or laymen, may come together; and if they shall anathematize
in writing, according to the decrees pronounced in the aforesaid
synod [their errors], if they are clergymen they may remain such;
and if laymen they may be admitted to communion. But if they refuse
to anathematize, if they were presbyters or deacons or in any
other ecclesiastical grade, let them be cast out of the clergy
and from their grade, and also from communion; if they be lay-men
let them be anathematized.
Furthermore those convicted of this heresy are no more to
be permitted to have the rule of our monasteries, lest tares be
sown and increase. And we give command that the most pious bishops
Valerian and Amphilochius, and the rest of the most reverend bishops
of the whole province shall pay attention that this decree be
carried into effect. In addition to this it seemed good that the
filthy book of this heresy, which is called the "Asceticon,"
should be anathematized, as composed by heretics, a copy of which
the most religious and pious Valerian brought with him. Likewise
anything savouring of their impiety which may be found among the
people, let it be anathema.
Moreover when they come together, let there be commended by
them in writing such things as are useful and necessary for concord,
and communion, and arrangement (dispositionem vel dispensationem).
But should any question arise in connexion with the present business,
and if it should prove to be difficult and ambiguous, what is
not approved by the most pious bishops Valerian and Amphilochius,
and the other bishops throughout the province, they ought to discuss
all things by reference to what is written. And if the most pious
bishops of the Lycians or of the Lycaonians shall have been passed
over; nevertheless let not a Metropolitan be left out of whatever
province he may be. And let these things be inserted in the Acts
so that if any have need of them they would find how also to expound
these things more diligently to others.
NOTE ON THE MESSALIANS OR MASSALIANS.
(Tillemont, Memoires, Tom. VIII., Seconde Partie. Condensed.)
St. Epiphanius distinguishes two sorts of persons who were
called by the name of Messalians, the one and the more ancient
were heathen, the other were Christian in name.
The Messalians who bore the Christian name had no beginning,
nor end, nor chief, nor fixed faith. Their first writers were
Dadoes, Sabas, Adelphus, Hermes, Simeon and some
others. Adelphus was neither monk nor clerk, but a layman. Sabas
had taken the habit of an anchorite and was surnamed "the
Eunuch," because he had mutilated himself. Adelphus was of
Mesopotamia and was considered their leader, so that they are
sometimes called "Adelphians." They are also called
"Eustathians." "Euchites" is the Greek equivalent
of "Messalians" in Hebrew. They were also called "Enthusiasts"
or "Corentes" because of the agitation the devils caused
them, which they attributed to the Holy Spirit.
St. Epiphanius thought that these heretics sprang up in the
time of Constance, although Theodoret does not put them down until
the days of Valentinian. They came from Mesopotamia, but spread
as far as Antioch by the year 376.
They pretended to renounce the world, and to give up their
possessions, and under the habit of monks they taught Manichaean
impieties, and others still more detestable.
Their principal tenet was that everyone inherited from his
ancestors a demon, who had possession of his soul from the moment
of his birth, and always led it to evil. That baptism cut away
the outside branches of sin, but could not free the soul of this
demon, and that therefore its reception was useless. That only
constant prayer could drive out this demon. That when it was expelled,
the Holy Spirit descended and gave visible and sensible marks
of his presence, and delivered the body from all the uprisings
of passion, and the soul from the inclination to evil, so that
afterwards there was no need of fasting, nor of controlling lust
by the precepts of the Gospel.
Besides this chief dogma, gross errors, contrary to the first
principles of religion, were attributed to them. That the divinity
changed itself in different manners to unite itself to their souls.
They held that the body of Christ was infinite like his divine
nature; they did not hesitate to say that his body was at first
full of devils which were driven out when the Word took it upon
him.(1) They claimed that they possessed clear knowledge of the
state of souls after death, read the hearts and desires of man,
the secrets of the future and saw the Holy Trinity with their
bodily eyes. They affirmed that man could not only attain perfection
but equal the deity in virtue and knowledge.
They never fasted, slept men and women together, in warm weather
in the open streets. But certain say that before attaining to
this liberty of license three years of mortification were required,
The most well-known point of their discipline is that they
forbade all manual labour as evil, and unworthy of the spiritual.
Harmenopulus in his Basilicoe (Tom. I. Lib. ix.) says that
they held the Cross in horror, that they refused to honour the
Holy Virgin, or St. John the Baptist, or any of the Saints unless
they were Martyrs; that they mutilated themselves at will, that
they dissolved marriages, that they foreswore and perjured themselves
without scruple, that women were appointed as mistresses of the
sect to instruct and govern men, even priests.
Although so opposed to the faith of the Church, yet for all
this the Messalians did not separate themselves from her communion.
They did not believe in the Communion as a mystery which sanctifies
us, which must be approached with fear and faith, but only came
to the holy Table to hide themselves and to pass for Catholics,
for this was one of their artifices. When asked, they had no hesitation
in denying all that they believed, and were willing to anathematize
those who thought with them. And all this they did without fear,
because they were taught they had attained perfection, that is
Vide Theodoret, H. E., Lib. iv., cap. xi.
Photius tells us that John of Antioch wrote against these heretics.
St. Maximus the Abbot speaks of this heresy as still existing
in the VIIth Century, and as practising the most abominable infamies.
Photius bears witness of its resuscitation
in his days in Cappadocia with its wonted corruptions. Harmenopulus
remarks that a certain Eleutherius of Paphlagonia had added to
it new crimes, and that in part it became the source of the sect
of the Bogomiles, so well known in the decadence of the Greek
DECREE OF THE SYNOD IN THE MATTER OF EUPREPIUS AND CYRIL.
(Found in Latin only. Labbe and Cossart, Concilia, Tom. III.,
The petition of the most pious bishops Euprepius and Cyril,
which is set forth in the papers they offered, is honest. Therefore
from the holy canons and the external laws, which have from ancient
custom the force of law,(1) let no innovation be made in the cities
of Europa, but according to the ancient custom they shall be governed
by the bishops by whom they have been formerly governed. For since
there never was a metropolitan who had power otherwise, so neither
hereafter shall there be any departure from the ancient custom.
(Hist. of the Councils, Vol. III., p. 77.)
Two Thracian bishops, Euprepius of Biza (Bizya) and Cyril
of Coele, gave occasion for a decree, praying for protection against
their Metropolitan, Fritilas of Heraclea, who had gone over to
the party of John of Antioch, and at the same time for the confirmation
of the previous practice of holding two bishoprics at the same
time. The Synod granted both.
from The Seven Ecumenical Councils of the Undivided Church, trans H. R. Percival, in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 2nd Series, ed. P. Schaff and H. Wace, (repr. Grand Rapids MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1955), XIV, pp. 192-242
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(c)Paul Halsall Feb 1996