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Author Topic: Reception of Severus of Antioch  (Read 2062 times) Average Rating: 0
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deusveritasest
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« on: May 19, 2009, 04:47:30 PM »

I heard recently from a Coptic Orthodox fellow that the Armenian church anathematizes Severus of Antioch.

Is this true?

If so, why is it the case?

How is it that the Armenian church and the Syriac church are considered in full communion?

I've also heard that the Armenian church was at on point associated with the heresy of Julian of Halicarnassus and that early on in the 8th century they held a council with the Syriac church to address this matter.

Does anyone know of any sources established how extensive the condemnation of the teachings of Julian was and how extensive the acceptance of the teachings of Severus were?
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« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2009, 04:58:17 PM »

I just found this thread right after I posted:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,4996.0.html

It answers some of the questions, but not all of them. For instance...

What I heard was that St. Severus is still anathematized by the Armenian church even after the joint 726 council. Why would this be, if it is indeed true?

Also, it was mentioned that there were some teachings associated with Severus or possibly even from Severus himself that were supposedly condemned by this council. What are those teachings? Did Severus really teach them? And is there actually substance behind the claim that Severus tolerated the phrase "in two natures" ever?
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« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2009, 07:58:25 PM »

I just found this thread right after I posted:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,4996.0.html

It answers some of the questions, but not all of them. For instance...

What I heard was that St. Severus is still anathematized by the Armenian church even after the joint 726 council. Why would this be, if it is indeed true?


Welcome to the forum.

If you click on the tags below, you'll find other threads discussing St. Severus, but I'll answer what I can here.

St. Severus is not still anathematized by the Armenian Church.  He is not on our calendar, but I've been told that we Armenians are free to venerate him, like so many other saints of our brother OO Churches who may not be on our calendar, but whom we can venerate.  In fact, Father VC Samuel confirms in his book The Council of Chalcedon Re-Examined that St. Severus was considered a saint in our Church after 726. (page 168)


Quote
Also, it was mentioned that there were some teachings associated with Severus or possibly even from Severus himself that were supposedly condemned by this council. What are those teachings? Did Severus really teach them? And is there actually substance behind the claim that Severus tolerated the phrase "in two natures" ever?

I'm not sure which teachings of St. Severus to which you are referring.  We condemned Julianism and accepted the teachings of St. Severus at that council.

I have never heard about St. Severus using the phrase "in two natures."  It has probably been discussed or debated here, but I can't recall. 

I need to let you know that debates about Chalcedon on OCnet now take place in a private forum, to which you need to ask admission.  We've done that because such debates can get nasty.   Smiley  The most thorough discussions about St. Severus have probably taken place there.  If you want admission to the private forums, you just need to pm Fr. Chris and ask.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2009, 08:31:57 PM by Salpy » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2009, 09:26:15 PM »

deusveritaset,

Welcome to the forum.

Something I have realised is that we often expect the Voice of the Holy Spirit to express itself explicitly, either through formal agreements, statements or acts. We often neglect the fact that the very life of the Church is the life of the Holy Spirit itself, and that her general movement is subtly swayed by the Divine Breath.

Whilst it is true (as far as I can gather) that the formal condemnation of St Severus by the Armenians at an 8th century local Synod (undoubtedly based on a misunderstanding of certain legitimate concessions he had made towards Chalcedonian Christology) has never been formally revoked or disavowed, the fact the Armenians and Syrians were able to subsequently form strong relations, and remain (after more than a millenium later) united within the context of the wider OO communion (every local body of which highly venerates St Severus), I think is itself very clear testimony of the Holy Spirit directing the Armenians away from their initial suspicions of St Severus so as to preserve the unity of the Church.
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« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2009, 10:14:46 PM »

I need to clarify my earlier post. 

Let me reprint what Ghazar wrote in the thread deusveritaset linked:

Quote
To my limited knowledge:  Severus is not a formal Saint on the Armenian Church calendar.  I suppose he may be considered a Saint by individual Armenians.  If he is canonized in another Oriental Orthodox Church, I'm sure our Church would recognize this local canonization as valid.  His teachings certainly impacted the "Mia-Physite" Christology of our Church.  Some teachings attributed to Severus maintained by later "Severians" were condemned in a joint Council by the Syriac and Armenian Orthodox Churches while not at all condeming Severus himself.


The council he is referring to was the Council of Manzikert, presided over by the Catholicos St. John Otsnetsi.  A number of Syriac Orthodox bishops attended. The purpose of the council was to heal the tension that existed between the two Churches due to the popularity of Julianism among some of the Armenians at that time.  Julianism was condemned.  It is my understanding, however, that some teachings attributed to St. Severus were also condemned, but they may not have been actual teachings of his.  I don't know what these teachings were.  I am not aware of the existence of an English (or even Modern Armenian) translation of the minutes of the council.

The decisions of the council, however, would have been consistent with St. Severus' condemnations and criticisms of Julian's teachings.  With Syriac Orthodox bishops participating and signing on to the decisions of the council, I don't think anything contrary to St. Severus' actual teachings would have been established.  That is what I earlier meant when I said we accepted the teachings of St. Severus.  Our Christology today is consistent with his teachings.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2009, 10:29:59 PM by Salpy » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2009, 10:19:06 PM »

With regard to St. Severus himself, I don't think his person was specifically dealt with by the council.  He would not have been condemned, especially with the Syrian bishops present.  However, I don't think he was explicitly accepted as a saint either.
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« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2009, 12:05:42 AM »

What do y'all make of the comments on the website of the Catholicosate of Etchmiadzin (http://66.208.37.78/index.jsp?sid=1&id=4094&pid=59)?:

"At this council some dogmatic questions were discussed which had been raised in the Assyrian Church, and led to divergence. The famous Armenian Theologian Translator Khosrovik took part in this Council. The goal of this council was to amend the divergences that had occurred between the two churches concerning the purity of the Savior’s body. The Assyrians accused the Armenians of following the teaching of Julian of Halicarnassus and the Armenians in their turn accused the Assyrians of following the teachings of Severus of Antioch.

The Council established 10 anathemas which refuted the teachings of Julian of Halicarnas and Severus of Antioch and their followers and reestablished the orthodox teaching of the Holy Trinity. As a result an alliance was created between the Armenian and Assyrian churches."
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« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2009, 12:17:53 AM »

I've seen that.  It is rather confusing in that it uses the word "Assyrian" to refer to what is now called the Syriac Orthodox.  Syriac Christians and Assyrians basically come from the same ethnic group and back then you didn't use different terms for them.  I know this has been discussed elsewhere.  I suspect the person who wrote (or translated into English) the webpage you linked is not a native speaker of English.  In any event, where the passage says "Assyrian," don't think Church of the East.  Think Syriac (Oriental) Orthodox.

Also, again, when the passage refers to the teachings of St. Severus being refuted, they're speaking of teachings that the Armenians at that time had attributed to him, but were not necessarily his.  At least that is what I always heard.  As I said, with Syriac Orthodox bishops signing on to the council, it would not have condemned any of St. Severus' actual teachings.
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« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2009, 12:48:39 AM »

So then it appears that whatever anathemas had been hurled against Severus of Antioch were officially lifted?

And that the teachings of Julian of Halicarnassus were condemned?

And that the teachings of Severus were clarified and ratified?

Yet that it does not appear that Father Samuel was correct in claiming that Severus was explicitly upheld as a saint by the Armenians?
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« Reply #9 on: May 21, 2009, 01:00:12 AM »

I don't think that St. Severus was explicitly made a saint by my Church.  Like I said, he was never added to our calendar.  However, there are a lot of OO saints we are free to venerate who are not on our calendar.  Fr. Samuel's passage on the council was very short and it could be he was a bit careless in his language in making it seem like the Armenians made Severus a saint at the council.  As I said above, I don't think St. Severus himself was explicitly dealt with either negatively or positively at the time.
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« Reply #10 on: May 21, 2009, 01:12:56 AM »

The basic thing to understand about the council of Manzikert is that it officially condemned Julianism.  That is its importance in the life and history of the Armenian Church and, by extension, the OO communion in general.  Julianism had been a popular heresy, to the point that they say the Emperor Justinian himself adopted it before his death.  It gained popularity among the Armenians for a while, which caused tension between them and the Syriac Orthodox, who were very opposed to it.  The council of Manzikert settled the matter by condemning Julianism. 

I would imagine the other condemnations, against the teachings the Armenians at that time attributed to St. Severus, were probably added in as a sort of safeguard to assure the Armenians they were not falling into Nestorianism by condemning Julianism.  I really don't know.  That is my assumption.  Unfortunately, there is not any real scholarly work done on the subject in English that I know of.
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« Reply #11 on: May 21, 2009, 02:08:03 AM »

Ok. When someone said that the Armenians still anathematized Severus of Antioch it got me worried. But if the things you say are true, it sounds like there is no substantial problem here.
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Tags: Armenian Church Julianism St. Severus Syriac Orthodox Assyrian 
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