Author Topic: Cyril--"saint" or despot?  (Read 1878 times)

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Offline Doubting Thomas

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Cyril--"saint" or despot?
« on: December 18, 2005, 05:32:37 PM »
First of all let me state my intention in posting this is not to defame Cyril of Alexandria.  I'm actually trying to get some feedback for "apologetic" purposes.  I've been participating in a discussion on the about whether it's appropriate to call Mary "mother of God", and those who don't have made some rather bold claims about Cyril and the council of Ephesus.  Here's what one poster named "Bunyon" posted just today (you can find the full quote in the "other religion's" section of the Baptistboard, page 4 of the "does God have a mother?  II "thread.):

Check this out.

" He hardly seemed a likely candidate for sainthood. Vitriolic, tactless and despotic, Cyril, Bishop of Alexandria wielded as much power in Egypt as the Pharaoh themselves. He would stop at nothing to retain that power, even rousing mobs to lute and murder his enemies. Yet this man is remembered as one of the greatest teachers of the church. After his death his writings became canonized as the ultimate authority on the doctrine of Christ.
As a nephew of all powerful Theophilus, Bishop of Alexandria, Cyril was assured a good career in the church. The previous century and a half had seen successive Bishops of Alexandria, Demetrius to Athanasius, become more and more powerful. Theophilus had completed the process, becoming on of the most ruthless Church politicians in history. He had destroyed the great library of Alexandria, persecuted origenist, sent Armies of storm trooper into the monasteries to root out his enemies, and engineered the exile of his chief rival in the eastern empire, Bishop John Chriysostom of Constantinople. In Egypt his power was total. Within 3 days of theophilus death in 412, Cyrill had himself installed in his place, amidst riots between his supporters and opponents. It was an inauspicious beginning to an episcopate that would be almost as ruthless as his uncle. Cyril must have wanted to establish his authority as bishop quickly after the riots. His first act was to close down the chruches of a scismatic sect known as a Novatians. This was something the civil authority could normally do. So it seem that the bishop of Alexandria was now a secular ruler as well as a spiritual one."
From- "The History of Christian thought""

I've yet to hear back from Bunyon about who wrote this particular history.  It seems the character of Cyril (and the fact that Ephesus was the headquarters of so-called "Artemis worship") is a big part of this guy's argument against the council of Ephesus and the title "mother of God".  Does anyone have some balanced info on Cyril which may be useful in counterring such polemics?

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Offline icxn

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Re: Cyril--"saint" or despot?
« Reply #1 on: December 18, 2005, 07:12:04 PM »
The following comes to mind:

Elder Paisios said:

I know from experience that in this life people are divided in two categories. A third category does not exist; people either belong to one or the other. The first one resembles the fly. The main characteristic of the fly is that it is attracted by dirt. For example, when a fly is found in a garden full of flowers with beautiful fragranses, it will ignore them and will go sit on top of some dirt found on the ground. It will start messing around with it and feel comfortable with the bad smell. If the fly could talk, and you asked it to show you a rose in the garden, it would answer: "I don't even know what a rose looks like. I only know where to find garbage, toilets and dirt." There are some people who resemble the fly. People belonging to this category have learned to think negativily, and always look for the bad things in life, ignoring and refusing the presence of good.

The other category is like the bee whose main characteristic is to always look for something sweet and nice to sit on. When a bee is found is a room full of dirt and there is a small piece of sweet in a corner, it will ignore the dirt and will go to sit on top of the sweet. Now, if we ask the bee to show us where the garbage is, it will answer: "I don't know. I can only tell you where to find flowers, sweets, honey and sugar;" it only knows the good things in life and is ignorant of all evil. This is the second category of people who have a positive thinking, and see only the good side of things. They always try to cover up the evil in order to protect their fellow men; on the contrary, people in the first category try to expose evil and bring it to the surface.

When someone comes to me and starts accusing other people and puts me in a difficult situation, I tell him the above example. Then, I ask him to decide to which category he wishes to belong, so he may find people of the same kind to socialize with.

/end of quote

Unfortunately St. Cyril's works are not available online to show your friends what a Great Saint he was/is, though I doubt that would make any difference... it is not easy to turn convert flies into bees...

Offline SaintShenouti

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Re: Cyril--"saint" or despot?
« Reply #2 on: December 18, 2005, 11:34:34 PM »
Do not throw what is holy to the dogs.

Offline EkhristosAnesti

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Re: Cyril--"saint" or despot?
« Reply #3 on: December 18, 2005, 11:50:15 PM »
I guess it's not surprising that similar things were said of St Dioscorus.

All I see in that excerpt DT, is colourful language and passionate claims. What exactly is there to respond to? I think the onus remains on the accuser to present the prosecution's case i.e. to actually prove the elements of the offence.

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Offline Sir Sundae

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Re: Cyril--"saint" or despot?
« Reply #4 on: December 19, 2005, 12:06:01 AM »
I would really like to learn what book that quote came from. That would help alot in an assessment of the claims made. Whether or not the author is a recognized authority, and other similar issues, can say a whole lot about the legitimacy of the conclusions.
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Offline Fr. George

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Re: Cyril--"saint" or despot?
« Reply #5 on: December 19, 2005, 03:22:58 AM »
I would agree with the others that, as long as substantiation is lacking to the claims, there is not much you can do.  Once they begin to justify their position, then you'll have something to work with.
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Offline Doubting Thomas

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Re: Cyril--"saint" or despot?
« Reply #6 on: December 19, 2005, 11:33:32 AM »
Thanks for the responses.

That fellow responded and said the author (Mills, was the name I think) supposedly has degrees in philosophy and theology.  In other words, apparently the author of that work is not even a historian per se (which is what I kind of suspected).  At any rate, that fellow I've been dialoging with seems to have lost interest in the discussion, I guess because I've called his bluff, so to speak, and doubted the accuracy of his so-called "historical sources".

Again, thanks for the replies, everyone.
"My Lord and My God!"--Doubting Thomas, AD 33