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Lecture 21: Christological Controversies

Lecture 21: Christological Controversies

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Lecture 21: Christological Controversies

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  1. Lecture 21: Christological Controversies 26 November 2013 Christological Controversies

  2. This lecture Key developments in Church history and doctrine in Mediterranean basin: Christology Next Lecture: Key development in Church history in Europe: Western Monasticism Following Lecture: Rise of Islam Why such a broad historical sweep? Destruction of Roman Empire, which is not complete until 1453 Sometime during these lectures the West moved from antiquity to middle ages Next Three Lectures: 4th through 7th C Christological Controversies

  3. Introduction • History: Fall of Rome • Refresher: 4th C Controversies Arians and Apollinarians • Nestorian Controversy • Cyril of Alexandria • Monophysites • Pope St. Leo the Great • Council of Chalcedon • Councils after Chalcedon Christological Controversies

  4. Key Political Events of Fourth Century • The Great Persecution of Diocletian • Constantine the Great rises to power; adopts Christianity as his religion • Battle of Milvian Bridge 312 • Council of Nicaea 325 • Creates powerful Eastern capitol of Roman Empire in Constantinople • Emperors alternately orthodox and Arian (except for brief pagan interlude by Julian the Apostate 361-363) • Theodosius the Great • Firmly establishes orthodoxy as official religion of Empire • Calls First Council of Constantinople to reaffirm Nicaea • Moves Western Capitol to Milan Christological Controversies

  5. Eastern Roman Emperors • Constantine • Council of Nicaea • Theodosius I, Great (379-395) • Council of Constantinople • Conflicts with Ambrose • Last Emperor of East and West • Arcadius (son of Theodosius) and Eudoxia in East (395-408) • Conflicts with John Chrysostom • Theodosius II (408-450) • Son of Arcadius • Council of Ephesus • Pulcharia and Marcion (450-457) • Pulcharia daughter of Theodosius II • Council of Chalcedon Christological Controversies

  6. Fall of Rome • Fall of Rome in 410 to Alaric had a huge psychological impact • The Goths sacking Rome were Arian Christians • “My voice sticks in my throat, and as I dictate, sobs choke my utterance. The City which had taken the whole world, was itself taken.” St. Jerome Christological Controversies

  7. City of God • Augustine wrote City of God to explain how this could happen • Traces the history of Roman Empire to show that without Christ Roman Empire was great only in eyes of man; human societies are destined to rise and fall • Only true society is society of pilgrim Church moving toward heavenly Jerusalem • But even pilgrim Church is a mixtures of wheat and tares • Takes up many of themes of Confessions, plus Pelagian Controversy, plus theory of history and society, plus, plus, plus… • Systematic work analyzing all of these issues Christological Controversies

  8. Arianism • Arius, presbyter in Alexandria • Christ the First Fruit of Creation; • “there was when he was not” • Opposed by Athanasius, Cappadocians • Council of Nicaea • Homoousia, Christ one in being with the Father • But Arianism has great staying power in East and among Germanic tribes Christological Controversies

  9. Apollinarius: Heretical Reaction to Arius • Apollinarius, • bishop of Laodicea, • proposed notion that Jesus had a physically human body, but mind and will were not human but divine. • Gregory of Nazianzus rejects this completely; • Supports “what is not assumed is not saved” Christological Controversies

  10. Recall Political Problems for John Chrysostom • Patriarch of Constantinople • Opposed by Patriarch of Alexandria, Theophilus • Opposed by Emperor (and Empress) • Pope sides with Chrysostom Christological Controversies

  11. Nestorius (400-451) • Born in Antioch; became Patriarch in Constantinople in 428 • Opposed Arians and Apollinarians • Theology based upon Theodore of Mopsuestia and Diodorus, Antiochenes • Human and Divine joined, but separate in Jesus Christ • Mary gave birth to human Jesus, not to Word; rejects Mary as Theotokos (God bearer) • The Word of God did not suffer on the cross • Human Jesus is raised by power of the Word and perfected at the Resurrection • Seemed to be way to solve “Son of God” and “Son of Man” references in Gospels Christological Controversies

  12. Cyril of Alexandria (375-444) • Issues between Constantinople and Alexandria • Economic, political and social tensions between Alexandria and Constantinople • Scriptural interpretation tension between Antiochene and Alexandrian hermeneutics • Ecclesial hierarchical issues over precedence of Constantinople over Alexandria • Cyril succeeded his uncle, Theolphilus, as patriarch (pope) of Alexandria in 412 • Actively persecuted non-orthodox Christians in Alexandria, mostly because of city politics • Novatian Christians • Jews • Pagan Neo-Platonists; torture and death of Hypathia Christological Controversies

  13. Cyril’s Christology • Hypostatic union of God and man • Not two persons in Christ • Both God and man fully present from the moment of the Incarnation • Mary gave birth to God; i.e. Theotokos • Recall Athanasius also had a great devotion to the Incarnation • Recall, Origen used term theotokos Christological Controversies

  14. Bitter conflict between Nestorius and Cyril • Nestorius’ Letter to Pope Celestine (Christology of Later Fathers, p. 346-348) • Starts asking what to do about Julian of Eclanum who is seeking support for Pelagainism from Emperor • Complains against those who like Arius and Apollinarius have their Christology wrong • Says now there are some who mix together Divinity and humanity; who even call Mary Theotokos • Christ’s human and divine nature unconfused; tries to maintain reality of Christ’s humanity; • Cyril’s Reply to Nestorius (p. 349-354) • Word took flesh from the Virgin in the womb • Word and flesh are united in one hypostasis; Virgin is Theotokos • Whoever does not believe this should be anathema • Christ’s human and divine nature undivided; tries to maintain reality of Christ’s divinity • Relies heavily on Athanasius Christological Controversies

  15. Council of Ephesus, 431 • Council called by Emperor Theodosius II • Gathering of Bishops from around Eastern Empire, including Cyril and Nestorius • Pope Celestine supported Cyril • Cyril presides at Council in the place of Celestine • In fact, Celestine sent Nestorius’ letter to Cyril for a response • Nestorius condemned and removed as Patriarch of Constantinople • Council formally declares Mary Theotokos • Nestorians still found in Jacobin Syrian Churches (which usually also call themselves Orthodox); also sometimes refer to themselves as Antiochene • Note: St. Mary Major in Rome is built to honor Mary as Theotokos after the council • Theodore of Mopsuestia condemned at Second Council of Constantinople (553) Christological Controversies

  16. Monophysitism: Eutyches and Dioscursus • Eutyches • Head of large monastery in Constantinople • Adamantly opposed to Nestorius • Seemed to renew Apollinarian heresy • Christ had one nature : Divine with a human body • Dioscursus • Succeeded Cyril as Patriarch of Alexandria in 444 • Also adamantly opposed to Nestorianism • Supports Eutyches against patriarch of Constantinople, Flavian • “Robber” council of Ephesus 449 Christological Controversies

  17. Opposition to Monophysitism (Single Nature) • Flavian, Patriarch of Constantinople • Succeeds Nestorius • Opposed to Eutyches • Pope St. Leo • Supports two natures, one hypostasis (person) • Pulcharia, Empress • Daughter of Theodosius II • Calls Council of Chalcedon to confirm support of Flavian and Leo Christological Controversies

  18. Pope St. Leo the Great • Born in Tuscany; deacon under Pope Celestine • Pope 440-461 • Fought against Pelagians and Manicheans • Deeply influenced by Augustine • Concerned for Church discipline, • Proper forms for Latin liturgies • Papal control over appointment of bishops; conflict with St. Hilary of Arles • Managed to convince barbarians not to sack Rome • Attila the Hun • Genseric the Vandal • Most famous for Christological formula, “One person, two natures” Christological Controversies

  19. Leo’s Tome • Letter written to St. Flavian • Relies on Scripture and Nicene Creed for arguments against monophysites • Distinction of both natures meets in one Person • Similar views expressed in Letter XXXI to Empress, St. Pucharia Christological Controversies

  20. Council of Chalcedon, 451 • Called by Pulcharia and Marcian • Establishes the Christological formula that Leo suggested • Primarily bishops from the East, with a representative from Rome • Dioscursus and much of the Alexandrian Church refuse to accept Chalcedon • Politically this remained a divisive issue in the East until rise of Islam • Theologically it remains a divisive issue to the present day; Coptic Christians Christological Controversies

  21. Maximus the Confessor (580-662) • Rise of Islam • Mohamed’s flight from Mecca to Medina 612 • Fall of Jerusalem in 637 and Alexandria 642 • To try to bring Monophysites back under imperial control against Arabs • Patriarch of Constantinople, Sergius proposes ‘monothelete’ Christology or that Christ had one will • Pope Honorius (625-638) goes along with this • Pope Martin I at First Lateran Council in Rome rejects this in 649, in opposition to Emperor and much of Eastern Church • In any case Monophysites also reject this • Maximus the Confessor Eastern theologian who supported Chalcedon • Gave deepest theological arguments in support of two complete natures, against monothelete • Was persecuted and tortured by Emperor Heraclius • Eventually Eastern Church returns to Chalcedonian formula in Third Council of Constantinople (680) Christological Controversies

  22. The Ecumenical Councils • Nicea I, 325, called by Constantine the Great • Condemned Arianism • Son of one substance with the Father • Nicene Creed • Constantinople I, 381, Called by Theodosius the Great • Affirmed divinity of Holy Spirit • Modified Creed; what we have now • Ephesus, 431, called by Theodosius II • Condemned Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople • Jesus was not two separate persons, but one person both human and divine • Mary as ‘Theotokos’ Mother of God • Chalcedon, 450, called by Empress Pulcharia at request of Pope St. Leo I (the Great) • Condemned monophysites: single nature • Christ has two natures: human and divine (Leo’s Tome • Second Council of Constantinople, 553, Called by Justinian • Condemned Theodore of Mosuestia • Third Council of Constantinople, 680 • Called by Emperor Constantine Pogonatus • Condemned Monothelete and Pope Honorius Christological Controversies

  23. Caesaropapism • Society in which head of government is also head of Church • Notice that all these early (eastern) councils are called by Emperors • Constantine considered a saint in the East, “equal to Apostles” • Revived civil Roman law includes canonical law in East • Theodosian Code (Theodosius II), 438, takes 312 as the beginning of legal precedents • Justinian Code, 534 • This will be the Church-State model in Byzantium until 1453 (in Russia until 1917) Christological Controversies

  24. A Different Development in West: Pope Gelasius • Pope 492-496; West being overrun with barbarians • Only civil authority with continuity to Roman Empire was Church • Eastern Emperor (Anastatius) claims authority in West, but has no military capability to back it up • Gelasius’ Letter to Anastatius is a landmark in defining balance of power relation between altar and throne • Two authorities in world: consecrated priests and royal power • Each has its own sphere of operation and respect • Priests have greater responsibility; emperor should obey priests • This view was never accepted in East; however became the basis of operation for Middle Ages in West • Pope Leo III crowns Charlemagne Holy Roman Emperor in 800 • Note: Papacy is only real continuing link between East and West from 476 onwards • Gelaisus’ Letter will be used by Papacy throughout Middle Ages to justify Papal stance with respect to Western Rulers Christological Controversies

  25. Assignments • Read Leo’s Tome, Letter XXXI to Pulcharia • Read Leo’s Sermons I, II, III, IX on priesthood • Read Gelasius’ “Letter to Anastatius” • CCC 464-478 Christological Controversies