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Author Topic: The Tome of Pope Saint Leo  (Read 4484 times) Average Rating: 0
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Ben
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« on: June 14, 2004, 08:00:41 PM »

Okay, I recently read the Tome of Pope Saint Leo, I read over it a few times, and took some notes. After closely reading it over a few times, there were some parts that I could see could be interpreted as leaning a little to the Nestorian side, but honeslty it doesn't seem as semi-Nestorian as many of the Non-Chalcedonians like to make it out ot be.

I am starting this thread in hope that Peter, and Stavro, and any other OO, or EO, Christian who would like to comment on Leo's Tome and its high points and its low points.

I am really curious to know what the defects of the Tome are from the OO perspective and in what ways it seems to be representing Nestorian Christology, and not orthodox Christology. And I am also curious to know what you EO Christians, like Linus, have to say in response to those OO Christians who claim the Tome does indeed have defects and does in many ways represent Nestorian Christology.

I await what you all have to say.

Thanks.
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« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2004, 04:31:33 AM »

Hi Ben

Firstly I think you need to read it in the context of the 5th century when there were lots of real Nestorians about. You need to read it in the light of a Church that had not yet had the 5th council that dealt with those who were trying to be both Nestorian and Chalcedonian. So it is not just a matter of reading it and saying that it does or does not sound Nestorian.

How did Nestorius say that it described his Christology? I am quite sure that Leo of Rome didn't mean it to. But if Nestorius and many of his followers did then this at least suggests that there was a measure of ambiguity - doesn't it?. Otherwise Nestorius would not be able to say that it described his Christology.

Fr John Romanides says:

"In spite of its obvious deficiencies the Tome of Leo is adequately Orthodox"

and

"Undoubtedly a key figure which conditioned Dioscoros' exasperation with all talk of two natures was its extremely clever use by Theodoret to hide what one may call a clear case of crypto-Nestorianisrn. Leo's support of and failure to see through Theodoret made him guilty by association, as in some measure happened with Dioscoros' support of Eutyches. This explains a good deal of the negative attitude toward Leo's tome, not only from Egyptian quarters, but also from the Palestinian and, of all people, the Illyrian bishops, who were within Leo s own sphere of ecclesiastical influence."

and most importantly:

"There is no doubt that Leo tended to separate or distinguish the acts of Christ in such a way that the two natures seem to be acting as separate subjects, a tendency explainable by what he imagined Eutyches was teaching and by his Latin formation wherein Greek Trinitarian terms used in Christology were not available to him. He so obviously failed to understand how the term One Nature was being used in the East, and especially during the Endemousa Synod of 448. "

Now it may be that an EO will say that this is unfair, but I have used an EO theologian to make the point that criticism of the Tome is not un-Orthodox, unless Fr John Romanides is a heretic?

So if Fr John Romanides can see that there are problems with the Tome then it seems to me to be eminently reasonable that in a context where real Nestorians were saying that the Tome supported their Christology the Tome should be seen in a negative light. It did not arise ina vacuum, it was part of the Christological controversy of the 5th/6th centuries and so must be read in that context. Even the fact that its ambiguity allowed others to assert that Nestorianism was acceptabe was enough to condemn it.

The defects are those highlighted by Fr John Romanides.

as he says:

"It is ... important to keep in mind that during its reading at Session II the three now famous Nestorian sounding passages were each one challenged as the document was being read."

So there ARE Nestorian sounding passages. And though I can understand what is meant I am dealing with a Chalcedonianism that needed the 5th council to exclude those who tried to be Chalcedonian Nestorians. At the time of the Tome such an exclusion had not taken place, so these Nestorian sounding passages were deadly in the ears of those who had spent the last 20 years fighting against that heresy.

Can the Tome be read in an Orthodox manner? Of course - most EO read it in such a way.

Did Leo of Rome mean it to be ambiguous or even Nestorianising - most surely not.

Was it ambiguous and could it encourage the Nestorianisers - well it was and did, that is history. Nestorius did say that the Tome described his Christology, and the Church of the East, as far as I can see, also thought that it was fine.

Remember, it must be read as if you were an Alexandrian of the 5th century, not a Roman Catholic of the 21st if you wish to answer your question.
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« Reply #2 on: June 15, 2004, 02:55:55 PM »

Thank you for your thoughts Peter, you really got me thinking. I am going to go back and read the Tome and try to read it as if I were a 5th century Alexandrian and see if I can understand why the NCs object to it.
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« Reply #3 on: June 15, 2004, 04:03:02 PM »

Peter,

I was wondering, what do you think of the overwhelming acceptance of the Tome of Pope Leo I at Chalcedon? Why didn't those bishops present at the Council declare it Nestorian or semi-nestorian?
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« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2008, 05:23:30 PM »

Okay, I recently read the Tome of Pope Saint Leo, I read over it a few times, and took some notes. After closely reading it over a few times, there were some parts that I could see could be interpreted as leaning a little to the Nestorian side, but honeslty it doesn't seem as semi-Nestorian as many of the Non-Chalcedonians like to make it out to be.

Exactly. I have read it as well, and although there are some things that could be interpreted as being semi-Nestorian, it really does not seem like that to me. You can interpret it however you want, but nonetheless, it emphasizes the unity in several places. I understand some of the objection, but to me it seems like Alexandrians being unwilling to accept a compromise as St. Cyril of Alexandria did with John of Antioch.
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« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2008, 08:54:53 PM »

it seems like Alexandrians being unwilling to accept a compromise as St. Cyril of Alexandria did with John of Antioch.

That's your interpretation. We would not agree that St Cyril's concession to John of Antioch justifies the position taken in Pope Leo's Tome. This needs to be stressed because some historians misleadingly portray Pope Dioscorus as intentionally undermining this agreement--there is no evidence to this effect, only conjecture. The evidence actually suggests the contrary. It's entirely up to you whether you want to believe that such was the practical effect though; ofcourse, we would strongly disagree on that level as well.

I'm not sure that resurrecting every thread on the subject of your interest is going to help you in your search for whatever it is you're looking for. From what I gather (given certain remarks made in the 'CAF bars Orthodox discussion' thread regarding your experience with RC'ism) you tend to be somewhat capricious, a tad precarious maybe, when it comes to your "pursuit to find the truth." So for the sake of your own soul and sanity can you please take the advice of others and just read and digest...slowly....prayerfully...Maybe take the old-fashioned route and visit your local library and spend some time there reading some books. And if, after all that, questions remain, or you feel there are some points requiring further discussion, maybe choose ONE thread and focus on that, moving on to the next thread only once you've exhausted all the issues in the first? I think it will make life a bit easier for you, and all of us...

I have to ask though...are you really at that stage in your spiritual journey where there is no subject of greater importance than whether or not OO objections to Chalcedon hold weight? Seriously? (It does after all seem to be the subject you've raised most frequently in your short time here).
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« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2008, 09:24:10 PM »

It's entirely up to you whether you want to believe that such was the practical effect though; ofcourse, we would strongly disagree on that level as well.

What about the Second Council of Constantinople? This seems to completely end the heresy of saying that Christ does things in His natures. He can only be spoken as doing things as One person, Christ.

Maybe take the old-fashioned route and visit your local library and spend some time there reading some books. And if, after all that, questions remain, or you feel there are some points requiring further discussion, maybe choose ONE thread and focus on that, moving on to the next thread only once you've exhausted all the issues in the first? I think it will make life a bit easier for you, and all of us...

I agree, I'm just hard pressed to find good places to research this on my own.

I have to ask though...are you really at that stage in your spiritual journey where there is no subject of greater importance than whether or not OO objections to Chalcedon hold weight? Seriously? (It does after all seem to be the subject you've raised most frequently in your short time here).

I don't know. I don't want to become a member of a Church, go through the whole Catechumation process, only to later find that what I believed before to be the One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church is not really the Church. I understand that this is legalistic and wrong, but still I don't know that's just the way I work. It's just so confusing for me.
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« Reply #7 on: June 21, 2008, 09:36:34 PM »

Chalcedon confuses just about everybody.  Don't spend your time worrying about it.  Most Orthodox Christians have lived and died not even knowing about it.  It  shouldn't provide a stumbling block to you, but it may if you get too obsessed with it.  Continue with your catechumen process without worrying about it.  The Eastern Orthodox Church is a great Church and the differences between them and us are really not significant enough for you to turn away from your present path.

Also, please read what I wrote here:

  http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,10302.new.html#new
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« Reply #8 on: June 21, 2008, 09:38:19 PM »

Chalcedon confuses just about everybody.  Don't spend your time worrying about it.  Most Orthodox Christians have lived and died not even knowing about it.  It  shouldn't provide a stumbling block to you, but it may if you get too obsessed with it.  Continue with your catechumen process without worrying about it.  The Eastern Orthodox Church is a great Church and the differences between them and us are really not significant enough for you to turn away from your present path.

Thank You.
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« Reply #9 on: June 22, 2008, 09:28:17 AM »

Ben, as a convert to the Coptic Church (from Protestantism) I am able to read the Tome and see how it could be intended as being quite Orthodox considering that it was written in response to the monophysite heresy. Nonetheless, the fact that the heretic Nestorius held it up and said, This is what I believe! leaves a wide door open to correction.

Pray for me please and for the unity of all Christians.
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« Reply #10 on: June 22, 2008, 12:47:34 PM »

Ben, as a convert to the Coptic Church (from Protestantism) I am able to read the Tome and see how it could be intended as being quite Orthodox considering that it was written in response to the monophysite heresy. Nonetheless, the fact that the heretic Nestorius held it up and said, This is what I believe! leaves a wide door open to correction.

Very good point. Yes it is disappointing that Nestorius liked the Tome. However we can see the Tome as reactionary with the Council of Chalcedon. I believe that when the Council of Ephesus, Chalcedon, and Constantinople II are looked at together they can be seen as an understand of Orthodox theology, however when taken out of context any can lead to heresy.

Also we must say that Nestorius quite often would take things out of context. He was certainly welcome to distort the meanings of things if he wanted, however we know that the Tome was not enforcing Nestorianism, no matter who you are.
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« Reply #11 on: June 22, 2008, 04:01:57 PM »

Very good point. Yes it is disappointing that Nestorius liked the Tome. However we can see the Tome as reactionary with the Council of Chalcedon. I believe that when the Council of Ephesus, Chalcedon, and Constantinople II are looked at together they can be seen as an understand of Orthodox theology, however when taken out of context any can lead to heresy.

Also we must say that Nestorius quite often would take things out of context. He was certainly welcome to distort the meanings of things if he wanted, however we know that the Tome was not enforcing Nestorianism, no matter who you are.

On the flip side of things, St. Cyril many times was misunderstood and people accused him of Apollinarianism and Monophysitism as well.  Something to meditate on.

In the end, I believe what is important is indeed to hold correct dogma, that Christ is fully man and fully God without mixing or division.  This is the foundation of your spirituality.  All else is scholarly and philosophically exhausting.
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« Reply #12 on: June 22, 2008, 04:13:04 PM »

On the flip side of things, St. Cyril many times was misunderstood and people accused him of Apollinarianism and Monophysitism as well.  Something to meditate on.

Right exactly. I can agree with you on that one.  Wink police

In the end, I believe what is important is indeed to hold correct dogma, that Christ is fully man and fully God without mixing or division.  This is the foundation of your spirituality.  All else is scholarly and philosophically exhausting.

Yes, exactly. Could we agree that both the Chalcedonians and the non-Chalcedonians hold this correct dogma? If we can reunion may come sooner than we think.
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« Reply #13 on: June 22, 2008, 04:53:30 PM »

Yes, exactly. Could we agree that both the Chalcedonians and the non-Chalcedonians hold this correct dogma? If we can reunion may come sooner than we think.

Well, there are many, like myself, who believe that we do hold the same dogma and that unity should not be delayed.  But there are others who are not convinced, and we can't force unity that leads to more schism.

There is a lot more to study, and it only becomes much more complex.  But in the end, I find this simple dogma to be the answer, the answer that both Orthodox churches have believed and articulated in their own ways.

I'd personally focus on spirituality now and a prayerful life.

God bless.
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« Reply #14 on: June 22, 2008, 05:04:48 PM »

Well, there are many, like myself, who believe that we do hold the same dogma and that unity should not be delayed.  But there are others who are not convinced, and we can't force unity to the sake of schism.

I honestly am starting to come to believe this as well. I honestly don't see any difference in dogma other than the way they are stressed. If Christ has one nature, it still has two distinct parts, or He has two natures yet they combine in such a way that He is only one person and undivided.

There is a lot more to study, and it only becomes much more complex.  But in the end, I find this simple dogma to be the answer, the answer that both Orthodox churches have believed and articulated in their own ways.

I think that either if pushed too far could lead to heresy. Chalcedonians to Nestorianism and non-Chalcedonians to Appollinarianism. However if this is true, and reunion is imminent, still I don't know how Church organization would follow. My guess is that the OOC Antiochian Church could be absorbed into the EOC Antiochian Church; The EOC Alexandrian Church could be absorbed into the OOC Alexandrian Church, and Armenia, Ethiopia, Eritrea and India all become Autocephalous. However perhaps a new thread would be necessary for that.
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« Reply #15 on: March 01, 2009, 09:04:37 PM »

Ben, as a convert to the Coptic Church (from Protestantism) I am able to read the Tome and see how it could be intended as being quite Orthodox considering that it was written in response to the monophysite heresy.

St Leo, and many of the Romans believed the Tome to be a good document against Nestorius, however the Fourth Œcumenical Council only used it as a condemnation of Eutyches and the more extreme factions from within the Monophysite groups. To me the Tome is similar to Eranistes written by Theodoret in that it's primary function is to comdemn those who believe Christ has one nature and in particular followed the heresy of Eutyches.

Nonetheless, the fact that the heretic Nestorius held it up and said, This is what I believe! leaves a wide door open to correction.

The fact that Nestorius accepted the Tome, does not make the Tome a Nestorian document by any means. The fact is the Tome addresses the unity of Christ in several places, and says many things that Nestorius would never say himself. It is my opinion that Nestorius merely read the Tome very selectively and took a few parts of it out of context in order to try to attach the prestige of the Roman Pope to his heresy. Here is a place where the Tome is in complete agreement with St Cyril:

"Accordingly, the Son of God, descending from his seat in heaven, and not departing from the glory of the Father, enters this lower world, born after a new order, by a new mode of birth. After a new order; because he who in his own sphere is invisible, became visible in ours; He who could not be enclosed in space, willed to be enclosed; continuing to be before times, he began to exist in time; the Lord of the universe allowed his infinite majesty to be overshadowed, and took upon him the form of a servant; the impassible God did not disdain to be passible Man and the immortal One to be subjected to the laws of death. And born by a new mode of birth; because inviolate virginity, while ignorant of concupiscence, supplied the matter of his flesh. What was assumed from the Lord's mother was nature, not fault; nor does the wondrousness of the nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, as born of a Virgin's womb, imply that his nature is unlike ours." (St Leo of Rome; Tome to Flavian)

"For how can anyone be of the same opinions as Nestorius if they confess that the Only Begotten Word of God born of the Father was the same that was born of a woman according to the flesh, and that the holy virgin was the Mother of God, and that He has one prosopon, and that there are not two Sons or two Christs but one?" (St Cyril of Alexandria; Epistle to Eulogius)

Is it not apparent that although their language and respective theological traditions were different from each other that the two Fathers were agreeing on the same thing. I'm not going to say that the Tome of St Leo was without fault, but all of this was corrected in the Fourth Œcumenical Council, as the Tome was agreed to be in concordance with the Twelve Chapters.

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« Reply #16 on: April 23, 2009, 06:39:14 AM »

if you read the Tome of Pope Saint Leo, you also need to read the Tomos of Chalcedon, as a reference to it, so that you will also agree with the Fathers of Chalcedon who said "Peter Spoke through Leo"
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« Reply #17 on: April 23, 2009, 06:58:17 AM »

if you read the Tome of Pope Saint Leo, you also need to read the Tomos of Chalcedon, as a reference to it, so that you will also agree with the Fathers of Chalcedon who said "Peter Spoke through Leo"

Christ is Risen!

Yes, you should, as the Tomos of Chalcedon is the Ecumenical and Infallible one, not that of Pope St. Leo.
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« Reply #18 on: April 23, 2009, 09:48:15 AM »

The problem with that passage from Leo, and others, is that it can be very easily read in a Theodorean way. Nowhere in this passage does he say that the Word of God is born. On the contrary he speaks of the birth of Jesus Christ, just as Theodore, Theodoret and Ibas wanted to.

Certainly these writers understood that the Son had descended 'in some sense' but not in the sense that Jesus Christ was the self-same as the Word of God, and that therefore the Word Himself is born, suffers, dies and rises.

Leo seems to share their view, even unwittingly, in his stress that the Word does not suffer, if not the Word then who?

Ibas and Theodoret were both able to sign up to the Tome and to Chalcedon without ever changing their Theodoran Christology, at the very least the Tome of Leo and Chalcedon are ambiguous and allow the persistence of the Theodorean Christology, at worse, through the insistence of Marcian and Leo at Chalcedon, they promote a Theodorean Christology.

Nestorius was invited to the council of Chalcedon, but died before he could attend. Modern scholars (not OO) believe that he was to be rehabilitated at Chalcedon, the Leonine/Theodorean Christology was to become the official Christology, and unity would be restored to the Church as it returned to its pre-Ephesine state.

It is very hard to see that Chalcedon was anti-Eutychian, since his Christology was not desperately flawed nor very widely shared. It seems rather to be an anti-Cyrilline council. The same arguments used against Dioscorus are those rehearsed against Cyril. Indeed Cyril's terminology is rejected because it is used by Dioscorus. Ibas is accepted on the basis of his letter which calls Theodore a 'Doctor of the Church' and which claims that Cyril has rejected his heretical Christology. Theodoret is accepted and writes to his supporters that his Christology has been accepted at the council. In the 6th century all of the Western and North African Churches went into schism and their leaders endured prison rather than accept the Three Chapters since they were convinced that Chalcedon had canonised Theodore, Theodoret and Ibas.

I am not saying this to argue, but after 15 years of study I am convinced that Chalcedon was flawed and plunged the Church into 1500 years of division. The anathemas which the OO raised against Chalcedon all seem to me to require answering by the EO and all seem to be justified questions about various issues raised by the council.

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« Reply #19 on: April 23, 2009, 11:49:12 AM »

The problem with that passage from Leo, and others, is that it can be very easily read in a Theodorean way. Nowhere in this passage does he say that the Word of God is born. On the contrary he speaks of the birth of Jesus Christ, just as Theodore, Theodoret and Ibas wanted to.

Certainly these writers understood that the Son had descended 'in some sense' but not in the sense that Jesus Christ was the self-same as the Word of God, and that therefore the Word Himself is born, suffers, dies and rises.

Leo seems to share their view, even unwittingly, in his stress that the Word does not suffer, if not the Word then who?

Ibas and Theodoret were both able to sign up to the Tome and to Chalcedon without ever changing their Theodoran Christology, at the very least the Tome of Leo and Chalcedon are ambiguous and allow the persistence of the Theodorean Christology, at worse, through the insistence of Marcian and Leo at Chalcedon, they promote a Theodorean Christology.

Nestorius was invited to the council of Chalcedon, but died before he could attend. Modern scholars (not OO) believe that he was to be rehabilitated at Chalcedon, the Leonine/Theodorean Christology was to become the official Christology, and unity would be restored to the Church as it returned to its pre-Ephesine state.

It is very hard to see that Chalcedon was anti-Eutychian,
Pope Dioscoros' support of Eutyches (and his refusal to answer on it) was the basis of his deposal by the Council of Chalcedon.

Quote
since his Christology was not desperately flawed nor very widely shared. It seems rather to be an anti-Cyrilline council.
Can you quote some condemnation of Pope St. Cyril in it? 

That also makes this, from the Definition of Chalcedon, harder to explain:
Quote
Moreover, observing the order and every form relating to the faith, which was observed by the holy synod formerly held in Ephesus, of which Celestine of Rome and Cyril of Alexandria, of holy memory, were the leaders,...And, on account of those who have taken in hand to corrupt the mystery of the dispensation [i.e. the Incarnation] and who shamelessly pretend that he who was born of the holy Virgin Mary was a mere man, it receives the synodical letters of the Blessed Cyril, Pastor of the Church of Alexandria, addressed to Nestorius and the Easterns, judging them suitable, for the refutation of the frenzied folly of Nestorius, and for the instruction of those who long with holy ardour for a knowledge of the saving symbol...
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf214.xi.xiii.html

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The same arguments used against Dioscorus are those rehearsed against Cyril. Indeed Cyril's terminology is rejected because it is used by Dioscorus. Ibas is accepted on the basis of his letter which calls Theodore a 'Doctor of the Church' and which claims that Cyril has rejected his heretical Christology. Theodoret is accepted and writes to his supporters that his Christology has been accepted at the council. In the 6th century all of the Western and North African Churches went into schism and their leaders endured prison rather than accept the Three Chapters since they were convinced that Chalcedon had canonised Theodore, Theodoret and Ibas.
That's rather odd, as Pope Vigilius of Rome was struck from the diptychs at the Council of Constantinople II, the Fifth Ecumenical One, because he refused to condemn the Three Chapters.
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf214.xii.v.html
[/quote]

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I am not saying this to argue, but after 15 years of study I am convinced that Chalcedon was flawed and plunged the Church into 1500 years of division. The anathemas which the OO raised against Chalcedon all seem to me to require answering by the EO and all seem to be justified questions about various issues raised by the council.
All answered by the Fifth Ecumenical Council.

Which raises a question: what say the OO on Origen?
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« Reply #20 on: April 23, 2009, 01:22:59 PM »

It is not easy, or appropriate to provide a too brief answer, but..

i. I have just finished a 10,000 word introductory paper on Eutyches and the Oriental Orthodox Churches. He was condemned at Constantinople 448 by Flavian ONLY because he refused to condemn those who spoke of one nature after the union - as of course St Cyril does. He refused to do so unless the bishops of Rome and Alexandria instructed him to because he said he would be condemning the Fathers.

ii. At Chalcedon the issue was again whether or not 'of two natures' and 'one nature' was the Orthodox terminology, or 'in two natures'.

iii. The Acts clearly show that at Ephesus 449 Eutyches, and then his monks, were only received into communion on the basis of their accepting the faith of Nicaea and Ephesus I. Eutyches himself rejected any idea that the flesh of our Lord was heavenly, and the record of Constantinople 448, even though they had been edited by Flavian's office, still show clearly that Eutyches did confess that Christ was consubstantial with his Father, and with us.

iv. When Dioscorus confessed that he believed that Christ was 'of two natures' - an entirely Cyrilline concept - he was shouted down and the Roman legates insisted that the council choose between Dioscorus' (and Cyril's) 'of two natures', and Leo's (and also Nestorius', Theodore and Theodoret's) 'in two natures'.

v. The council did not receive St Cyril's Third Letter with the Anathemas.

vi. When the draft Definition was produced which contained St Cyril's 'of two natures' it was rejected by the Romans who insisted that a version be produced which had Leo's (and also Nestorius', Theodore and Theodoret's) 'in two natures'.

vii. St Cyril is excluded from Chalcedon because his terminology is rejected - Flavian had already condemned Eutyches for using St Cyril's 'one nature' terminology, and this together with St Cyril's 'of two natures' is not only not used, but is rejected as supposedly heretical.

viii. When the letter of Ibas was read out to the council it said, among other things, 'Cyril, however, while aiming to refute the affirmations of Nestorius, has been found to fall into the Dogma of Appollinarius, seeing that he himself has written in a similar way, (affirming) that "God, the Word, became Man," so that there could (in that case) be no distinction between The "Temple and Him Who dwells in it." For, he has written Twelve Chapters, as also, I think, your Piety knows, in which (he says)
"there is One Nature constituting the Divinity and the Humanity of our Lord Jesus Christ," ... But, how impious such statements are, your Piety will, even before we can declare it, have been quite persuaded.'

Yet after hearing this condemnation of the teaching of St Cyril, and of his Twelve Chapters, the council says, 'We have heard the letter of Ibas and it is Orthodox'. If the letter of Ibas is acceptable to Chalcedon then the Christology it is endorsing is not that of St Cyril, and the Christological statements it does make must be understood in the light of Ibas' letter.

Ibas also says in this same letter, 'Blessed Theodore, that preacher of the Truth, that Doctor of the Church', yet this is also encompassed in the same judgement at Chalcedon, 'we have read the letter and it is Orthodox'.

ix. I have confused you in my reference to the Three Chapters. The Three Chapters were the three judgements issued by Justinian long before Constantinople 553 and which he then insisted the Church accept. To accept the Three Chapters first meant to accept the condemnation of the persons and texts refered to in these three chapters. It was only later that the three chapters became confused with the persons and texts themselves, and so the condemnation of the three chapters came to mean the condemnation of the person of Theodore, and the writings of Ibas and Theodoret against Cyril. Of course there was a problem in that the letter of Ibas, which Constantinople 553 described as blasphemous had been accepted as Orthodox at Chalcedon.

The Western and North African Churches refused to condemn Theodore, Ibas and Theodoret. Vigilius endured several years of harsh imprisonment before, as an elderly and frail man he was forced to sign their condemnation. Others, such as Facundius, the metropolitan of North Africa, wrote lengthy works showing that Chalcedon had established the Christology of Theodore, Theodoret and Ibas as the measure of Orthodoxy, and that to reject them was to reject Chalcedon. Pelagius, a priest of Rome, also wrote against condemning Theodore, Theodoret and Ibas, and shared the imprisonment of Vigilius, but he was offered the papacy if he was willing to sign, and this he eventually did. When he returned to Rome to be consecrated bishop only two bishops could be found who would have anything to do with him. Indeed parts of the Western Church remained in schism over this issue until 700 AD.

St Columbanus, one of my favourite Western saints, wrote to the Pope and said that he had wished that Vigilius had been vigilant and had not rejected Chalcedon by signing the Three Chapters.

Clearly a large proportion of the Chalcedonian community believed that Chalcedon had established the Christology of Theodore, Theodoret and Ibas. No community should be judged by the excesses of the most extreme, but it is interesting that in Syria, where the teachings of Theodore remained popular - Ibas was translating his works in Edessa at the time of Chalcedon - some Chalcedonian monks celebrated Nestorius as a martyr and kept his feast day.

x. If the issues caused by Chalcedon were fixed at Constantinople 553, and I do believe that most of them were, then are you able to agree that Chalcedon was flawed?

This is all important because though I am able to believe that it is entirely possible for the Chalcedonian Definition to be understood in an Orthodox manner through the lense of Constantinople 553, nevertheless as an historical event I am not able to accept Chalcedon as an ecumenical council because I do not believe that in its context, rather than simply as a contextless text, it is able to be authoritative. I am not sure that the spectre of Theodore has finally and completely been put to death within Chalcedonianism because despite Constaninople 553 I have to consider that Chalcedon was at least sympathetic to the Theodorean Christology, as later history shows to be true.

As to Origen. Within Coptic Orthodoxy he was condemned by Patriarch Theophilus. I know quite a few EO and OO people who are interested in his writings, and of course they are not all equally speculative, or liable to criticism. If you are wondering whether the OO non-acceptance of Constantinople 553 affects our view of Origen then I'd have to say that within Coptic Orthodoxy at least, he has been under a cloud since the end of the 4th century, 150 years before Constantiople 553. And of course Theodore, Theodoret and Ibas had also been condemned at Ephesus 449, 100 years before the Chalcedonians condemned Theodore and certain writings of Theodoret and Ibas.

I do not wish to be polemical at all. I hate polemics. But I think it is necessary to show why there are problems with the Tome of Leo and Chalcedon, and none of the problems are to do with a wish to diminish the humanity of Christ, they are all to do with the consideration on the part of our Fathers that Chalcedon was a Nestorianising council. Personally, I grow increasingly disturbed at the damaging influence of emperors on the Church, as they tended to view the Church as a department of their own state, and therefore subject to their own will. Chalcedon and Constantinople 553 seem to show this clearly. Vigilius was essentially locked up for years until he signed the three chapters which the emperor had already issued 10 years before.

Best wishes

Father Peter
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« Reply #21 on: April 23, 2009, 06:33:36 PM »

Since I sense a debate brewing, I am locking this topic, pursuant to forum rules.

If anyone wants to debate this topic, you can do so in the private forum.  For admission to the private forum, you can pm Fr. Chris and ask to be admitted.
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