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Author Topic: The Soteriology of Leo the Great by Bernard Green  (Read 717 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: September 06, 2011, 04:59:02 PM »

I recently found this book from my university's library and it occurred to me that some of you might find it interesting. I haven't actually read it so I have no idea of how good or bad it is but it seemed to contain some interesting ideas.



Here's a paragraph that peaked my interest:

Quote from: Bernard Green
Unfortunately, Leo still held to the understanding
of the heresy of Nestorius which Rome had adopted in 430, that he
was an adoptionist who effectively denied Christ’s divinity. He saw
him therefore as the polar opposite of Eutyches who denied Christ’s
humanity. Facing two heresies that were in their different ways onenature,
Leo produced a statement that asserted the duality of the
natures. It was only after Chalcedon that Leo recognised that Nestorius’
critics in the East believed his real failure had been an inability
to define the unity of the two natures, which left his Tome looking
distinctly Nestorian. In 453, Leo produced a second Christological
statement in the form of a letter to the rebellious monks of Palestine
which was far more successful in combining an account of the oneness
of Christ with the duality of the natures. That letter was more
representative of Leo’s thinking. It has a claim to be his best work and
to be a far more significant contribution to the Christological disputes
than his Tome.
« Last Edit: September 06, 2011, 05:22:09 PM by Alpo » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2011, 05:19:50 PM »

Quote
Unfortunately, Leo still held to the understanding
of the heresy of Nestorius which Rome had adopted in 430
What event happened in 430?

Quote
In 453, Leo produced a second Christological
statement in the form of a letter to the rebellious monks of Palestine
which was far more successful in combining an account of the oneness
of Christ with the duality of the natures. That letter was more
representative of Leo’s thinking. It has a claim to be his best work and
to be a far more significant contribution to the Christological disputes
than his Tome.

I wonder what letter he is referring to.
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« Reply #2 on: September 06, 2011, 05:53:35 PM »

I wonder what letter he is referring to.

It could be this one.
« Last Edit: September 06, 2011, 05:53:48 PM by Alpo » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: September 06, 2011, 06:17:02 PM »

I wonder what letter he is referring to.

It could be this one.
The Christology is better, but there are other disturbing portions.

Like the notion that God is not humble in his divinity and had to become human to be humble. When I read St. Leo I always feel like I'm walking through a minefield.
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« Reply #4 on: September 08, 2011, 01:50:51 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

I wonder what letter he is referring to.

It could be this one.
The Christology is better, but there are other disturbing portions.

Like the notion that God is not humble in his divinity and had to become human to be humble. When I read St. Leo I always feel like I'm walking through a minefield.

Amen Amen.  Leo III is so all over the place, from a historians perspective, I would dare say his writings are heavily politicized to reflect the debates of his era, and so we only catch glimpses of Leo III's own personal theology because he seems always so careful to be representing the contemporary discussions.  Of course, I must respect that he was a great Bishop, and like all leaders is sometimes required play the song in the tastes of the audience, while still keeping the same structure in tact.
Even in this letter from above:

Quote
.. the Godhead and the manhood being right from the Virgin's conception so completely united that without the manhood the divine acts, and without the Godhead the human acts were not performed.

and yet in the paragraph just above this one Leo says:
Quote
For neither do His Divine acts affect His human, nor His human acts His Divine, since both concur in this way and to this very end that in their operation His twofold qualities be not absorbed the one by the other, nor His individuality doubled.

I see what the father is trying to say, but since he is balancing separate arguments so close together they can be interpreted as contradictory.  How can "the Divine acts not affect His human", when "without the Godhead the human acts were not performed?"

stay blessed,
habte selassie

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« Reply #5 on: September 08, 2011, 03:36:13 PM »

I wonder what letter he is referring to.

It could be this one.

Leo was a stickler for custom and legality.  Leo cared deeply about proceedure and proper channels and he was nervous about Eutyches.  Problem was communications of the day from Constantinople.  Leo was sympathetic initially to Eutyches but when Leo received a full report from the Constantinople Synod his sympathies turned decisively against Eutyches.  In June of 449 Leo reaffirmed the judgement in a substantial letter that has become known as the Tome of Leo.   The letter showed his disgust with Eutyches ideas. The Tome has become a classic definition of the orthodox view at the time. 

It was this weakness in Constantinople and the strength in Rome that had a lot to do with the Supremacy mentality we have today.  However, Leo never adopted Nestorianism.
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« Reply #6 on: September 08, 2011, 08:07:04 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
I wonder what letter he is referring to.

It could be this one.

Leo was a stickler for custom and legality.  Leo cared deeply about proceedure and proper channels and he was nervous about Eutyches.  Problem was communications of the day from Constantinople.  Leo was sympathetic initially to Eutyches but when Leo received a full report from the Constantinople Synod his sympathies turned decisively against Eutyches.  In June of 449 Leo reaffirmed the judgement in a substantial letter that has become known as the Tome of Leo.   The letter showed his disgust with Eutyches ideas. The Tome has become a classic definition of the orthodox view at the time. 

It was this weakness in Constantinople and the strength in Rome that had a lot to do with the Supremacy mentality we have today.  However, Leo never adopted Nestorianism.

This is true, there was a lot of respect for Eutyches across the Orthodox world, and no one really wanted to condemn him, in fact they tried to absolve him but even the Oriental Orthodox fathers who were initially his greatest sympathizers soon had to also reject his clumsy attempt at miaphysite Christology. If you ask me, Eutyches real error was not being able to properly explain himself. I believe I have even read some Oriental fathers say that Eutyches should not have been condemned because he retracted his first statements but don't quote me on that.

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #7 on: September 08, 2011, 09:15:28 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
I wonder what letter he is referring to.

It could be this one.

Leo was a stickler for custom and legality.  Leo cared deeply about proceedure and proper channels and he was nervous about Eutyches.  Problem was communications of the day from Constantinople.  Leo was sympathetic initially to Eutyches but when Leo received a full report from the Constantinople Synod his sympathies turned decisively against Eutyches.  In June of 449 Leo reaffirmed the judgement in a substantial letter that has become known as the Tome of Leo.   The letter showed his disgust with Eutyches ideas. The Tome has become a classic definition of the orthodox view at the time. 

It was this weakness in Constantinople and the strength in Rome that had a lot to do with the Supremacy mentality we have today.  However, Leo never adopted Nestorianism.

This is true, there was a lot of respect for Eutyches across the Orthodox world, and no one really wanted to condemn him, in fact they tried to absolve him but even the Oriental Orthodox fathers who were initially his greatest sympathizers soon had to also reject his clumsy attempt at miaphysite Christology. If you ask me, Eutyches real error was not being able to properly explain himself. I believe I have even read some Oriental fathers say that Eutyches should not have been condemned because he retracted his first statements but don't quote me on that.

stay blessed,
habte selassie

Eutyches's followers were allied with Manicheans.  I think Eutyches knew exactly what he was saying.
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« Reply #8 on: September 08, 2011, 09:44:21 PM »

Upon what are you basing both of those assertions?  I was unaware that Eutyches had any followers, and what I've read about him says that he was a very elderly and confused man.


FYI, an article about Eutyches:

http://www.orthodoxmedway.org/eutyches.pdf
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« Reply #9 on: September 08, 2011, 11:09:17 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
Upon what are you basing both of those assertions?  I was unaware that Eutyches had any followers, and what I've read about him says that he was a very elderly and confused man.


FYI, an article about Eutyches:

http://www.orthodoxmedway.org/eutyches.pdf

That was a delightful article a recall reading a few years ago when I first was trying to understand Eutyches.  Its a very confusing situation and the power-politics and hidden agendas involved in the whole episode really build up to and culminate in the Chalcedon Council, which the EO consider the solution, the RC consider a victory, and the OO consider the straw that broke the camel's back.

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #10 on: September 09, 2011, 12:04:12 AM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

the whole episode really build up to and culminate in the Chalcedon Council, which the EO consider the solution
Then there would have been no Constantinople II.  Wink
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« Reply #11 on: September 09, 2011, 01:07:07 AM »

Upon what are you basing both of those assertions?  I was unaware that Eutyches had any followers, and what I've read about him says that he was a very elderly and confused man.


FYI, an article about Eutyches:

http://www.orthodoxmedway.org/eutyches.pdf

Per your own source "he was the respected and powerful archimandrite of a monastery outside the city walls. He was the godfather of the eunuch Chrysaphius, one of the most influential ministers in the court of the emperor Theodosius II." And even before his case became a major controversy, he was of enough prominence within the Church that he could write to the bishop of Rome expecting and receiving a reply.

It seems true he was not a particularly skilled theologian and therefore his followers may not have been clear on what he actually believed/taught (and the same may be true for the OO Fathers who initially tried to defend him), and so were not disciples of 'Eutychianism' per se. But the historical record is clear that he was a figure of influence within Constantinople with a body of followers quite willing to move in his defense.
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« Reply #12 on: September 09, 2011, 04:18:40 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Upon what are you basing both of those assertions?  I was unaware that Eutyches had any followers, and what I've read about him says that he was a very elderly and confused man.


FYI, an article about Eutyches:

http://www.orthodoxmedway.org/eutyches.pdf

Per your own source "he was the respected and powerful archimandrite of a monastery outside the city walls. He was the godfather of the eunuch Chrysaphius, one of the most influential ministers in the court of the emperor Theodosius II." And even before his case became a major controversy, he was of enough prominence within the Church that he could write to the bishop of Rome expecting and receiving a reply.

It seems true he was not a particularly skilled theologian and therefore his followers may not have been clear on what he actually believed/taught (and the same may be true for the OO Fathers who initially tried to defend him), and so were not disciples of 'Eutychianism' per se. But the historical record is clear that he was a figure of influence within Constantinople with a body of followers quite willing to move in his defense.

Of course all of that is true and fact of history, however what is an inference is if Eutyches' followers at his monastery were heretics, and even if some of the monks there were, was this a matter of them being taught this by Eutyches, or was Eutyches at least complacent to their heresy, or even were they acting independent of Eutyches.  Individual priests do not always agree 100% with everything their superiors teach, and leaders are only held accountable for what they do to intervene, not necessarily what others did.  So if there were heretics in Eutyches monastery, his only crime I would say is not to openly suppress their heresies.  Did he teach variously confusing interpretations of the logistics behind Miaphysite Christology of Saint Anathasius and Saint Cyril? Yes, of course, he was no wax-poetic theologian.  It is clear he was a politician more so than a sophist.  He had powerful connections, great influence, and was widely revered.  If anything, this might suggest some motivation as to why some folks might have contrived against him. For example, no disrespect to Pope Leo the Great, but it also clear from history that he was a very power-hungry bishop, and that he introduced this push towards Latin superiority which was entirely foreign to the first three hundred years of Christian history, and that in Constantinople they almost acquiesced towards the Latins to put out the spot fires between the split from West to East.  The Byzantine Empire was most definitely the powerhouse, but they were probably as nostalgic about Rome as the earlier Romans were about "Great Greece" and so this idealism combined with political realities and influenced a temporary shift towards Rome's own charisma.  Also, this was just after Attila the Hun, if anything, perhaps those in Constantinople were just being politically "polite" and figured on the inevitable fall of Rome which sort of never happened.  I support the validity of the Roman Catholic jurisdiction, but history is history and people are people and the Church an institution very much inserted into the realities of history and people.

However, I would say that I am not familiar with any historical evidence to suggest that Eutyches led a heretical monastery, and if anything, the contemporary politics of the time complicate the entire situation.  We can't always trust condemnations or accusations against Eutyches because there may  have been an agenda behind such.  What we do know is that before Synods and Councils and in private communications to prestigious figures, Eutyches recanted of any heretical doctrines, and embraced the statements of Nicea and Ephesus which is why Saint Dioscoros reinstated him.  Now, folks may disagree with Saint Dioscoros' own Christology, but we in the Ethiopian Orthodox at the least honor the father as a saint, and further, we accept that Eutyches was accepted by the so-called "Robber Council" and so we do not reject Eutyches individually, rather we reject any of the monophysite (as opposed to the true miaphysite doctrine) interpretations which have subsequently been ascribed to him.  Ethiopian Archbishop Abba Melketsedek explains specifically that the Ethiopian Church, "rejects the teachings attributed to Eutyches" implying those doctrines condemned by the EO perhaps wrongfully called Eutychianism.  When Saint Dioscoros exonerated Eutyches, we in the Ethiopian Orthodox, as a jurisdiction historically under Alexandria, are duty bound to respect such.
I like the way Joseph Campbell explains it.

Quote
"..in the present development of controversy this school [of Alexandria] was represented principally by two powerful bishops, Cyril and Dioscurus, of whom the first would be canonized and the second anathematized for holding essentially the same view."
Occidental Mythology Joseph Campbell, p408

By the way, Campbell was a practicing Catholic so his kind interpretation of Saint Dioscoros may not  be as biased as my own Wink
stay blessed,
habte selassie
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