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Author Topic: Defects in Tome of Leo  (Read 5350 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: July 18, 2003, 08:28:28 PM »

Just finished reading this article after a review of the Tome of Leo.

Interesting points.

www.geocities.com/mfignatius/others/byzantine02.html


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« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2003, 06:07:52 PM »

Thanks, James, for posting a link to this article.  I think it would be interesting to see how our Eastern Orthodox friends would address the points made therein.
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« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2003, 06:19:37 PM »

What are friends for ?

Besides borrowing money and liquid refreshments.

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« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2003, 07:47:50 PM »

Thanks, James, for posting a link to this article.  I think it would be interesting to see how our Eastern Orthodox friends would address the points made therein.  

Thanks, James, for the link to this very interesting article.  I know what my initial but not-very-well-thought-out reaction to it from an individual EOx POV is  Angry Shocked, but I think it would be most interesting to see how our RC and EC friends would address the points made therein also, for are they not also still strongly Chalcedonian in theology like us?  Do not *both* EO's and RC's-EC's unreservedly unhold up the Tome of St. Pope Leo the Great as a touchstone of O(o)rthodox Christology?

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« Reply #4 on: July 22, 2003, 11:14:04 PM »

Anyone can answer if they want.  I just presumed that our EO posters would be more inclined to answer.  I hope they just haven't had time yet to post here.  It would sadden me greatly if I found out from this that the only way EO Christians would engage this issue was to beat us over the head with anathemas and force us into submission rather than speak with us as human beings.
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« Reply #5 on: July 23, 2003, 08:46:17 AM »

Anyone can answer if they want.  I just presumed that our EO posters would be more inclined to answer.  I hope they just haven't had time yet to post here.  It would sadden me greatly if I found out from this that the only way EO Christians would engage this issue was to beat us over the head with anathemas and force us into submission rather than speak with us as human beings.  

Well, this EO won't do that, Mor.  I keep reminding myself that we EO's still hold St. Cyril of Alexandria in high regard as a Father of the Church.

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« Reply #6 on: July 23, 2003, 09:27:08 AM »

Hypo,

You speak as though St. Cyril actually did say what the Oriental Orthodox say. From a traditional Orthodox perspective (leaving aside the dialogues of the last decades for a moment), the Orthodox would disagree and say that St. Cyril most certainly did not. In fact, I'm in the middle of reading 3 christological documents by St. Emperor Justinian in which he, in part, shows that St. Cyril did not teach what the monophysites at the time claimed that he did. I'm staying out of these conversations (both here and at the cafe) because I think that's for the best (rather than continually beating people over the head with the defense "well our saints say differently"), but I did want to add this note.
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« Reply #7 on: July 23, 2003, 09:39:02 AM »

Justin, I really don't think that what the OO's and the EO's say regarding that which St. Cyril of Alexandria wrote differs, although we may possibly interpret what he wrote differently.  And we both venerate St. Cyril as a Church Father.  If I'm wrong, I'm certainly willing to be corrected.

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« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2003, 06:32:32 PM »

You speak as though St. Cyril actually did say what the Oriental Orthodox say. From a traditional Orthodox perspective (leaving aside the dialogues of the last decades for a moment), the Orthodox would disagree and say that St. Cyril most certainly did not. In fact, I'm in the middle of reading 3 christological documents by St. Emperor Justinian in which he, in part, shows that St. Cyril did not teach what the monophysites at the time claimed that he did. I'm staying out of these conversations (both here and at the cafe) because I think that's for the best (rather than continually beating people over the head with the defense "well our saints say differently"), but I did want to add this note.

Dear Justin,

I understand your desire not to get involved in these discussions.  However, I must ask you what it is that the Monophysites of that time taught regarding Saint Cyril's teaching, and what the Emperor said Saint Cyril actually taught, and how any of this compares to what the Oriental Orthodox teach regarding Saint Cyril's Christology?
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« Reply #9 on: July 23, 2003, 06:42:42 PM »

Mor,

Well, one of the reasons that I'm trying to avoid the discussions is that I'm not quite sure that I have a handle on all of this myself! Smiley Me telling you what St. Justinian said at this point would be sort of like a blind man describing a tree: maybe he's heard information which he can more or less rattle off (probably somewhat inaccurately), but he doesn't really "get it" yet and would have a hard time conveying the spirit of it, the... "intangibles" (that's the word I guess would come closest). Instead... I'm almost done with the book, I can send it to you if you'd like?
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« Reply #10 on: July 23, 2003, 06:46:55 PM »

I understand, Justin.  Ordinarily, I'd take you up on the offer to borrow the book, but I'm up to my ears in books I should be reading but haven't had time to get to because of work, play, and other pressing needs.  Perhaps if you own the book, and I am done with my reading at some point in life ( Tongue ), I will take you up on it.  For now, what's the book called, and who wrote it?
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« Reply #11 on: July 23, 2003, 07:16:54 PM »

Okie, let me know, hehe Smiley  The book is On the Person of Christ: The Christology of Emperor Justinian (St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1991) by Kenneth P. Wesche. He was, at the time the book was published, an (OCA) priest at Saint Mary's Cathedral (so says the back cover), and is currently the priest at Saint Herman's Church in Minnesota.
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« Reply #12 on: July 23, 2003, 08:58:56 PM »

I have that book too Mor so you can check it out when you come over to my place next time.

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« Reply #13 on: August 27, 2003, 12:53:04 AM »

The Tome of Leo rules! Though Leo's ecclesiology was a bit off.

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« Reply #14 on: August 27, 2003, 02:33:40 PM »

I have that book too, and it is very interesting (although I confess I haven't read it in at least 2 1/2 years).  One of the points that it makes successfully is that there were several groups with disparate christologies running around at that point in history which were lumped together as "monophysites" by those who were not "in the know".  Some of them actually were monophysites in the truest sense of the word: they were Eutychians believing that Christ's Divinity swallowed up His humanity.  Other monophysites believed only in Christ's Divine Nature, opining that His human flesh was some sort of an illusion.  

Both of these groups were anathema to the so-called "monophysite" Christians today termed Oriental Orthodox (who confess one united nature,  fully human and fully Divine, after Our Lord took His perfect human flesh from Our Lady the Holy Virgin Mary).  It is possible that when Emperor Justinian said that the "monophysites" were distorting St. Cyril's teaching, he did not mean the same folks who are today the Oriental Orthodox, because as Hypo pointed out, both the EO and the OO have always said the same thing about what St. Cyril wrote.  

Calling someone a "monophysite" in those days was like calling someone a "commie" in the 1950's, it was a convenient way to discredit them and get them out of your way, and many wore the label who did not deserve it.  There were a ton of bonafide monophysites to be sure, but they were not the people who are today the Oriental Orthodox.  They were not St. Severus of Antioch and his brethren.  I don't believe that a fruitful dialogue and reconciliation with the Eastern Orthodox would be possible for someone who believed that Christ's Holy Body was merely illusory, or that His human nature was so dilluted by His Divine as to be of no consequence.  

Oh, and I have to agree with Athanasius (the poster not the saint, although I have to agree with St. Athanasius too!  Grin ).  Not about the Tome of Leo "ruling" (because to my mind it certainly does not), but about Leo's ecclesiology being whacked.  In fact, it seems to me that a large part of Leo's involvement in Chalcedon, etc., was a means of asserting the then developing idea of Roman papal supremacy over the Christian East.
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« Reply #15 on: August 27, 2003, 02:50:27 PM »

Later westerners (especially Romans) used Saint Leo's involvement to support their own assertions. But don't blame Chalcedon for that! Have you read the canons from Chalcedon accepted by the Orthodox? Canon 28 is about as anti-Roman-primacy as you got in the early Church.
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« Reply #16 on: September 02, 2003, 01:28:23 PM »

I'm not saying that Chalcedon was about Roman primacy per se, but it seems that such notions were at least a part of the Roman delegation's agenda.  Leo's Tome was (to their way of thinking) the final word on the matter.  It was not AN orthodox christological statement, it was THE DEFINITIVE orthodox christological statement, after which there need be no further discussion. The presence of the Roman pope at the council was not even necessary, his letter was to be read and the disobedient bishops of the East were to fall into line without any further debate. Roma locuta, causa finita.  Of course I'm sure that Flavian and the other Eastern Chalcedonians didn't quite feel this way.
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« Reply #17 on: September 03, 2003, 02:57:49 AM »

I just had to drop in and tip my hat to Antonious-Nikolas, selam wondem,

That was a very good and succinct summary of the context of the Tome of Leo within the overall framework of the papacy. I would only add that geo-politics and the Roman Empire itself also plays a role in this and it is no accident that the Churches that were to later be known as Oriental Orthodox were all located on the periphery of the Roman Empire and not in itGǪI have never seen the “inside the empire/inside of the Church” confusion ever being expressed in Oriental Orthodoxy nor any of our important texts or documentsGǪI know such discourse is almost similar to the fuss and nonsense that many Protestant heretics promote but I think that it does absolutely ZERO service for the future and unity of Orthodoxy and Apostolic Christianity to sit and pretend as if empire politics did not play any role and that originally this was only a theological debateGǪNay, the Oriental Orthodox are just very perceptive; we could already see the direction Rome was heading with their Tome and could sense it was only going to get worseGǪwe just fully anticipated what it took our Byzantine brethren several more centuries to realizeGǪ  Cool

Btw, your position is mirrored by the Great Indian Orthodox theologian/scholar/Bishop V.C. Samuel of blessed memory:

"At a time when Rome was well on its way to develop a theory of the papacy as the supreme authority over the Church as a whole, the Tome was intended by Leo to offer the final and infallible teaching of the Church on the person of Christ. Thus the document was not meant merely as a sound statement of the faith, but also as the only possible expression of the Christian understanding of Christ’s person, coming as it did from none other than Apostle Peter himself."
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« Reply #18 on: September 03, 2003, 04:59:53 AM »

Hi

When I wrote that short piece referred to in the first post of this thread, some years ago, I had not had the chance to read as widely as I have now. Having now studied the writings of St Severus of Antioch and St Timothy of Alexandria, as well as re-reading several times books like The Council of Chalcedon Re-Examined, and of course non-OO works such as Three Monophysite Christologies by Cheshunt, I am absolutely convinced that there is no heresy at all in the Oriental Orthodox position.

I am from an Evangelical Protestant background, I became OO as a matter of choice and after thought and prayer. I wan't born into the OO and therefore find myself 'having' to defend it. But I do love the people I have been re-born into.  Smiley

I wrote that article just to illustrate that there were legitimate questions being raised by the non-Chalcedonians.

Are you aware, for instance, that there were Chalcedonian monks in Constantinople keeping a feast of Nestorius? That Theodoret wrote to Leo of Rome claiming that HIS Christology (later declared heretical) had won the day at Chalcedon? That in the later years of St Cyril's life he wrote about how there were growing groups who pretended to accept the Ephesine settlement by anathematising Nestorius but who accepted the even more heretical opinions of Diodore and Theodore? That it took the Chalcedonians over 100 years to find the writings of Theodoret, Ibas and Theodore heretical, and that the Chalcedonians in the West refused to consider Ibas and Theodore heretics and considered that they had in fact been exonerated at Chalcedon?

These are not accusations of heresy against the EO today, but I have found that few EO are willing to consider the context of the Christological controversies and seek to understand why the Chalcedonian position was considered heretical and a re-hash of Nestorius. Chalcedon was rejected not least because there were many Nestorians and semi-Nestorians who were also Chalcedonians anc considered that it had defended their Christology. Even Nestorius said that the Tome of Leo described his teaching.

Justinian was wrong on many things but who'd want to be an Emperor. He ended his life as a Julianist professing the view that the humanity of Christ was incorruptible from the moment of conception and not the resurrection. He also persecuted the non-Chalcedonians violently. But he had a lovely wife, St Theodora.

Having read the actual words of the fathers of the Oriental Orthodox I just don't buy the historic criticism of them. St Severus, for instance, was condemned at a synod in Constantinople for being a Eutychian and a Nestorian?HuhHuh I have read his works. He is most definitely neither. Indeed he wrote several works against Eutychians and many works against Nestorians.

I'm in the process of researching for a book about the Christology of St Severus. He says in one letter that 'from Cyril's words, as from a sacred anchor, I do not depart'. This is apparent in any of his works. He is constantly quoting St Cyril.

What is Eutychianism?

i. The teaching that the humanity of Christ is not consubtantial with us - Severus rejects it.

ii.. The teaching that the humanity was swallowed up by the Divinity - this was a lie propagated by Nestorius himself about St Cyril. - Severus rejects it. He teaches that if the humanity were not real and complete and did not remain real and complete then there could not be a union, there would only be a mixture.

iii. The teaching that the humanity was deficient in some way - Severus rejects this also and teaches that the humanity of Christ is consubstantial with us in every way except sin, and remains consubstantial with us.

I appreciate reading a great many excellent works by EO authors. But it seems that we OO still have much to do to communicate our Orthodox faith. Thank God for fathers such as John Romanides and V.C. Samuel, both of blessed memory, who have been able to constructively criticise their own communities and have sought to understand the other position.

I am convinced that the present EO and OO faith are the substantially the same, and that it is terminology which confuses us. I am convinced that the fathers of the OO are entirely Orthodox. Not from simple trust but from a lot of reading and study and comparison - never enough though.

It is a pity that the criticism of the Tome of Leo and Chalcedon became mixed with Imperial politics and that repeated efforts were made to crush such criticism by the force of arms and not argument. Now we do not need to take that path. Now is not the time for polemics and shouting past each other. Now we need to try and understand each other and base our judgements on what we really believe, not what polemics tells us the others must believe.

I am not a monophysite. I anathematise Eutychius and Nestorius. I confess that Christ is fully and perfectly divine and fully and perfectly human. I confess that the union of the Divinity and humanity of Christ has taken place without confusion or mixture, as without division or separation. I confess that Christ is one incarnate hypostasis of God the Word, as does St Severus.

I do pray earnestly that all faithful Orthodox might be given grace to hear what the others are actually saying and teaching and believing and will not set up straw men to knock down with polemical satisfaction.

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« Reply #19 on: September 03, 2003, 07:20:50 AM »

Roman Catholics should take note that despite the Chalcedonian schism happening centuries before the great schism, despite the fact that the Oriental and Eastern Orthodox have not been in communion for a millenium and a half, they still have everything in common with each other and are both in disagreement with Rome on the same issues.

I find this information rather telling.

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« Reply #20 on: September 03, 2003, 10:59:24 AM »

John

That is so very true. And if we put polemics aside it is indeed a miracle that two communions isolated from each other for about 1450 years are indeed so close in thought, doctrine and spirituality.

Yet the Protestant group I grew up in, which was founded in 1829, had split into about 5 different groups within 70 years.

And in my own home town new groups have sprung up before my eyes from the divisions of old groups and even from the division of groups that had only sprung up a few years earlier.

I wrote an article for the Glastonbury Review - my Church journal - which explored how in fact the most fruitful means of ecumenism was an honest and faithful seeking to understand the doctrinal differences where they exist, not a hiding them away or papering over them with a-theological warm feelings.  I am glad that in my own lifetime the EO and OO have started seeking to understand each other honestly.

Personally I don't find the EO heretical Nestorians or even semi-Nestorians and I am able to read a document and sniff out heresy. I have found some of the members of some of the more extreme 'Traditionalist' groups in EO to propose a semi-Nestorian Christology however. They seem to go beyond the bounds whenever they find an OO who confesses the union of full and perfect humanity and Divinity in Christ without confusion, mixture, division or change. This tends to provoke some to edge closer and closer to the edge just to leave clear water between them and me. :-)

Having read the papers presented at the meetings of the Joint Commission I can see that both sides started off quite hesitant about the other but ended up genuinely pleased to find that the substance of the faith was the same.

I hope the same approach can be used with the Roman Catholics. The latest edition of the Glastonbury Review at www.uk-christian.net/boc/review.shtml has a report from the Consultation between the Roman Catholics and the Oriental Orthodox. There's also an article by me, although I haven't uploaded the notes yet.

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« Reply #21 on: September 04, 2003, 12:45:57 PM »

Thanks for the compliment Aklie, but actually my ideas mirror Abune Samuel's, not vice versa.  I've just finished reading a couple of his papers, and I keep kicking myself because I didn't discover them until after I completed work on my Master's degree.  Can you imagine how much easier having his book would have made the defense of my thesis?

Through the grace of God, I arrived at many of the same conclusions as Abune Samuel before I read his book, but the gulf between us as scholars is immense (and I use the term loosely to describe myself).  His writing is so lucid, and his mastery of the primary source material is complete.  The difference between Abune Samuel articulating a given notion and myself muddling through the same concept is the difference between an Acura RSX and an ox-cart both en route to the same location.

I honestly believe that V.C. Samuel's work should be required reading for anyone, Chalcedonian or Non-Chalcedonian, who wants to take part in the on-going dialogue (or debate, as the case may be) between the two perspectives.  After all, any English speaker studying this material can't help but be exposed to the massive body of pro-Chalcedonian literature produced by Western and Byzantine scholars.  If one wants to make an informed decision, shouldn't they also at least peruse something from the other side?
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« Reply #22 on: September 04, 2003, 01:40:14 PM »

Hi Folks,

I just had time to re-read this thread aain.  Aklie is absolutely right about the Roman Empire geo-politics getting into the mix.  I'm glad someone was here to point that out.  

Peter Theodore,

You have obviously done a great deal of research into this topic and I would like to benefit from your knowledge.  Could you please send me an e-mail at ---- ?  Thanks.

In XC,

A.N.
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« Reply #23 on: June 20, 2008, 05:28:45 PM »

I find the Tome to be a good medium between the Alexandrian and Antiochian schools of thought.
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« Reply #24 on: March 01, 2009, 08:45:46 PM »

They seem to go beyond the bounds whenever they find an OO who confesses the union of full and perfect humanity and Divinity in Christ without confusion, mixture, division or change.

The problem is that it seems Nestorians, Monophysites, and Orthodox can all agree with this. Saying this means nothing unless one has explained what they mean. If the Orthodox and the non-Chalcedonians really separated on something as trivial as language, then both sides should be ashamed of themselves for separating the Church over semantics.
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« Reply #25 on: March 01, 2009, 08:58:16 PM »

 Let us look at a talk given at the third consultation between the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox theologians in Geneva in 1970 by Fr. Paul Verghese and printed in the Greek Orthodox Theological Review in 1971.

This talk is also printed in Does Chalcedon Divide or Unite?, under the name of Metropolitan Paulos Mar Gregorios, the name Fr. Verghese took when he was consecrated a metropolitan. The author, a theologian of the Syrian Orthodox Church of India, states that:


"Here, as earlier in the decree, the Tome of Leo is expressly affirmed. The decree actually calls the Tome "the pillar of the right faith." You can perhaps understand that all this is rather difficult for us to accept. For us Leo is still a heretic. It may be possible for us to refrain from condemning him by name, in the interests of restoring communion between us. But we cannot in good conscience accept the Tome of Leo as "the pillar of the right faith" or accept a council which made such a declaration.

"The council approves explicitly what I clearly regard as heresy in the Tome of Leo: "Each form does in communion with the other what pertains properly to it, the Word, namely doing that which pertains to the Word, and the flesh that which pertains to the flesh." If one rightly understands the hypostatic union, it is not possible to say that the flesh does something on its own, even if it is said to be in union with the Word. The flesh does not have its own hypostasis. It is the hypostasis of the Word which acts through the flesh. It is the same hypostasis of the Word which does the actions of the Word and of his own flesh. The argument of the horos [dogmatic definition] in this Sixth Council is basically unacceptable to us ."
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holdencaulfield
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« Reply #26 on: March 01, 2009, 09:15:28 PM »

Let us look at a talk given at the third consultation between the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox theologians in Geneva in 1970 by Fr. Paul Verghese and printed in the Greek Orthodox Theological Review in 1971.

Thank you for providing this, I think it will be a good place to start talking.

"Here, as earlier in the decree, the Tome of Leo is expressly affirmed. The decree actually calls the Tome "the pillar of the right faith." You can perhaps understand that all this is rather difficult for us to accept. For us Leo is still a heretic. It may be possible for us to refrain from condemning him by name, in the interests of restoring communion between us. But we cannot in good conscience accept the Tome of Leo as "the pillar of the right faith" or accept a council which made such a declaration.

I think that this shows that the Orthodox Church and the non-Chalcedonians are really and truly not completely in agreement with each other. How could there be union between the two bodies, if one holds St Leo to be orthodox and the other does not? Does this not show that there is differences between the Orthodox and non-Chalcedonians, even if this was the only difference it would still be a significant one.

If one rightly understands the hypostatic union, it is not possible to say that the flesh does something on its own, even if it is said to be in union with the Word.

My response to the writer of this would be that no where does St Leo state that the flesh is operating "on it's own" and it is taken as a basic understanding that the actor for the all the Gospel actions is the Logos Incarnate and that some actions are done Divinely and some actions are done humanly. This is maintained in order to assure that death is not attributed to the Divinity and uncreatedness to the humanity and so on.

The flesh does not have its own hypostasis. It is the hypostasis of the Word which acts through the flesh. It is the same hypostasis of the Word which does the actions of the Word and of his own flesh. The argument of the horos [dogmatic definition] in this Sixth Council is basically unacceptable to us ."

This is ironically enough also the opinion of the Sixth Œcumenical Council as well, so he is merely distorting the views of the Orthodox Church in this example.
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"For better is a laudable war than a peace which severs a man from God" - St Gregory the Theologian
Salpy
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Pray for the Christians of Iraq and Syria.


« Reply #27 on: March 01, 2009, 09:43:26 PM »

The problem is not just the words, but what people in the fifth century could make of them.  Pope Leo was using (probably unwittingly) language that appealed to Nestorians.  That, of course, is why Nestorius accepted the Tome and St. Dioscorus rejected it. 

There are even Nestorians today who accept the Tome as expressing their beliefs.  Observe what a modern day member of the Church of the East, and self-proclaimed Nestorian, says about the Tome:

3. In 451, however, the new emperor Marcian summoned a new council which met at Chalcedon.

a. The Council of Chalcedon condemned Eutyches and monophysitism.

b. It accepted the teachings of Pope Leo I, who said that Christ had two natures, human and divine. (How was this different from Nestorianism?)


http://www.nestorian.org/the_christological_controversi.html

Does that mean that modern day EO's are Nestorian heretics?  Of course not.  The Tome is subject to a number of interpretations, heretical and Orthodox.  It was a heretical interpretation of it that was accepted by Nestorius and rejected by St. Dioscorus.  It is the same heretical interpretation which the Nestorian guy above is obviously giving it.  It is an Orthodox interpretation of the Tome which I believe most, if not all, EO's today accept.

Holden,

You are coming close to violating forum rules that state polemical discussions about Chalcedon belong in the private forum.  You know this rule very well, and you have posted your views on the Oriental Orthodox extensively in the private forum.  Whereas a non-polemical discussion touching on Chalcedon could take place in the public forum, your posting history leads me to believe that your intentions are polemical in nature.  If you wish to discuss this further, please do so in the private forum.

Thank you for your anticipated cooperation.
Salpy

« Last Edit: April 04, 2009, 02:44:22 AM by Salpy » Logged

holdencaulfield
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« Reply #28 on: March 01, 2009, 09:56:55 PM »

ok
« Last Edit: March 01, 2009, 09:57:39 PM by holdencaulfield » Logged

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