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Author Topic: What's this about St. Theodora?  (Read 4225 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: June 14, 2006, 04:41:43 AM »

I just found this quote in the article about St. Theodora on orthodoxwiki.org

In 523 Theodora married Justinian, the magister militum praesentalis in Constantinople. On his accession to the Roman Imperial throne in 527 as Justinian I, he made her joint ruler of the empire, and appears to have regarded her as a full partner in their rulership. This proved to be a wise decision. A strong-willed woman, she showed a notable talent for governance. In the Nika riots of 532, her advice and leadership for a strong (and militant) response caused the riot to be quelled and probably saved the empire.

Some scholars believe that Theodora was Byzantium's first noted proponent—and, according to Procopius, practitioner—of abortion; she convinced Justinian to change the law that forbade permit noblemen from marrying lower class women (like herself). Theodora also advocated the rights of married women to commit adultery, and the rights of women to be socially serviced, helping to advance protections and "delights" for them; and was also something of a voice for prostitutes and the downtrodden. She also helped to mitigate the breach in Christianity that loomed large over her time; she probably had a large part in Justinian's efforts to reconcile the Monophysites to orthodoxy.

Other scholars (and those who venerate Theodora as a saint) instead regard Theodora's achievements for women not as a modern feminist "liberation" to commit abortion or adultery but rather as a truly egalitarian drive to give women the same legal rights as men, such as establishing homes for prostitutes, passing laws prohibiting forced prostitution, granting women more rights in divorce cases, allowing women to own and inherit property, and enacting the death penalty for rape, all of which raised women's status far above that current in the Western portion of the Empire.

-So a saint of the Orthoodox Church promoted abortion and advocated "rights" for the adulterous? IS THIS FOR REAL?
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« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2006, 05:12:07 AM »

Okay, your first sentence is that it was found on "orthodoxwiki," which for me begs two questions: what are the cited sources for the information, and what is the context of the information.  For example, was her begging for "rights for the adulterous" asking for freedoms for them, or was she advocating the same punishment for women adultresses as there was for male adulterers (because we know it was traditional in most societies for the last 3000+ years to have different punishments...)?

I don't want to downplay your outrage at what is claimed in the article.  I just want a bit of context before figuring out what I think (my gut initial reaction is to say the source of the information is shaky and taking info out of context).
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« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2006, 05:22:05 AM »

Erracht,

The article in its entirety appears to be reasonably balanced. If you actually go back and re-read the opening paragraph of the section on her life, you'll see that it notes that Procopius (who appears to be the one who claimed the scandalous things you mentioned) is hardly reliable. It notes:

Quote
Much of the information from this earliest part of her life comes from the Secret History of Procopius, published posthumously. Critics of Procopius—whose work reveals a man seriously disillusioned regarding his rulers and out to defame them—have dismissed his work as vitriolic and pornograpic.

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« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2008, 04:17:19 PM »

But wasn't Theodora a Monophysite? How can a Monophysite who worked to undermine Orthodoxy, often under the nose of her Orthodox husband, Justinian, be glorified as an Eastern Orthodox saint?

(I just asked this question over at The Byzantine Forum, too).

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« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2008, 04:58:02 PM »

But wasn't Theodora a Monophysite? How can a Monophysite who worked to undermine Orthodoxy, often under the nose of her Orthodox husband, Justinian, be glorified as an Eastern Orthodox saint?


That's a rather significant presumption. Even a cursory search of this site indicates that there are several sides to this question regarding the Empress' theological disposition:

Quote
It is believed by some scholars that sometime before meeting Justinian she became an adherent of the Monophysite Christianity, which claims Christ was of one nature, and remained their partisan throughout her life. Others instead argue that her association with Monophysitism is largely because of Justinian's putting her in charge of courting the Monophysites' reunion with the Chalcedonian party in the Church, and so while remaining Chalcedonian herself, she was pastorally favorable toward the non-Chalcedonians.

(Bold text mine)

Source, reply #13
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« Reply #5 on: November 12, 2008, 05:08:05 PM »

Quote
So a saint of the Orthoodox Church promoted abortion and advocated "rights" for the adulterous? IS THIS FOR REAL?

I don't know for sure, I don't recall having read anything about that in the books that I've read about Justinian. As far as Procopius and his "Secret History" goes, I trust him about as far as I can throw him.

Quote
But wasn't Theodora a Monophysite?

I was under the impression that she was Orthodox, and was sympathetic towards those who were traditionally called monophysites (but who may not have actually been monophysites). But I can't say for sure, as all the books that I've read were on Justinian, and only mention Theodora as a secondary focus.
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« Reply #6 on: November 12, 2008, 05:12:11 PM »

Welcome to the forum, Alexios.
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« Reply #7 on: November 12, 2008, 07:08:15 PM »

Father,

Bless!

There isn't any need to get defensive; I was only repeating what I have heard and read from what I presumed to be very realiable sources.

How does one explain Theodora sending the Monophysite Julian ahead to the Kingdom of Nubidae to convert the locals to Monophysite Christianity, after she had heard that Justinian had dispatched his own Chalcedonian missionaries to do the same task? She apparently instructed those who were to prepare Justinian's missionaries' way into Nubidae by saying that if they did not hold up Justinian's missionaries as long as possible, she'd have their heads.

Additionally, a holy man (I forget his name but I'll look it up) who came to call on the Imperial couple denounced her and informed her she would remain childless because of her wicked faith. How can all this be understood in light of her glorification as a saint by the Eastern Orthodox Churches?

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« Reply #8 on: November 12, 2008, 07:18:35 PM »

Don't confuse "Non-Chalcedonian" with "monophysite".
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« Reply #9 on: November 12, 2008, 07:27:45 PM »

Father,

Bless!

There isn't any need to get defensive; I was only repeating what I have heard and read from what I presumed to be very realiable sources.
And don't confuse anything Fr. Chris just said above with any real tone of defensiveness.  If he was REALLY being defensive... well... Wink

BTW, welcome to the forum, Alexios. Smiley
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« Reply #10 on: November 12, 2008, 07:40:44 PM »

Quote
How does one explain Theodora sending the Monophysite Julian ahead to the Kingdom of Nubidae to convert the locals to Monophysite Christianity, after she had heard that Justinian had dispatched his own Chalcedonian missionaries to do the same task? She apparently instructed those who were to prepare Justinian's missionaries' way into Nubidae by saying that if they did not hold up Justinian's missionaries as long as possible, she'd have their heads.

Where are you reading about this at (or where is your source reading about this at)? I'll have to get that book.
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« Reply #11 on: November 12, 2008, 09:09:28 PM »

All I am saying is what was highlighted in the quote I provided: the historical record could very well be colored by those who had a political axe to grind. The problem is that many so-called 'authorities' will not indicate that the information regarding Empress Theodora is conflicting; instead depending on the slant they wish to take she is labeled as a Monophysite or elevated to a high degree as an early feminist and crusader for woman's rights.

So, where is the proof of her alleged heresies?  Where is her anathematization for her alleged belief of Monophysitism? It does not exist. The presumptuous part is to designate that she is a heretic without there being any declaration from the Church of this fact.

And, while it can be argued that this need for an anathema is outrageous on my part since the Empress was, in fact, an Empress and this would be politically inexpedient, the simple fact is that even posthumously this anathematization did not occur. After her death, she could not have defended herself, and people were anathematized after their deaths...just look at Pope Honorius, for instance.

What is telling is that, even after her death and political rivals to the Justinian dynasty may have been in power, even then they did not find her guilty of Monophysitism. To condemn her of this without the Church finding this in her actions is incorrect.
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« Reply #12 on: November 12, 2008, 09:22:22 PM »

Fr. Chris,

Bless!

That is why I took care to ask whether she was a Monophysite; I don't think I claimed to know if she was one. I was asking, (1) was she?, and (2) if so, as at least a good portion of the historical record seems to indicate, how can she be glorified as an EO saint?

The book I'm reading this out of is Readings in World Christian History, Volume I by John W. Coakley and Andrea Sterk. I don't have the book with me at the moment, but when I get to it I'll quote the relevant material directly.

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« Reply #13 on: November 12, 2008, 09:31:58 PM »

Fr. Chris,

Bless!

That is why I took care to ask whether she was a Monophysite; I don't think I claimed to know if she was one. I was asking, (1) was she?, and (2) if so, as at least a good portion of the historical record seems to indicate, how can she be glorified as an EO saint?

The book I'm reading this out of is Readings in World Christian History, Volume I by John W. Coakley and Andrea Sterk. I don't have the book with me at the moment, but when I get to it I'll quote the relevant material directly.

Alexis

First of all welcome Alexis Cheesy Second OzGeorge has already  stated is that the terms Non-Chalcedonian and Monophysite cannot be used interchangebly as they represent very different christologies. Non-Chalcedonian theology believes that Christ has two natures (human and divine) which are united in the person of Christ while Monophysite christology states that Christs human nature was nothing in comparison to his divine nature and practically was obliterated like "a drop of honey in the ocean" which essentially denies the human nature of Christ. Just a little thing to know brother and again welcome.
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« Reply #14 on: November 12, 2008, 10:27:34 PM »

Thanks for the welcome!

Isn't Monophysitism just a subset of non-Chalcedonian? And if non-Chalcedonian doctrine declares two Natures and one Person, what is the difference between that and the definitons of the Council of Chalcedon?

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« Reply #15 on: November 12, 2008, 10:35:54 PM »

The majority of people who opposed Chalcedon at the time of Justinian did not belong to the heresies attributed to Eutyches or Apollonarius.  I am assuming it is those heresies you are referring to when you say "Monophysite."  It would therefore be incorrect to use that term to refer to all people who rejected Chalcedon at the time of Justinian.

The Churches today which reject Chalcedon, but do not adhere to the heresies mentioned above, are referred to on this forum as Oriental Orthodox or Non-Chalcedonian.  These are the Coptic, Ethiopian, Eritrean, Armenian, Syriac and Indian Orthodox Churches.

With regard to St. Theodora, she is venerated as a saint by the Oriental Orthodox ("OO") Churches.  Most scholars believe that she was non-Chalcedonian.  Those who say she was a Chalcedonian who was just doing outreach to the OO's really don't have much to back that up.  At least that is my experience.  

As you noted, she did a lot which could be perceived as undermining her husband's persecution of the OO's.  Among other things, she hid OO bishops and theologians whom her husband wanted to either kill or exile.  She hid one such bishop in the women's quarters of the palace for many years.  After her death he appeared at her funeral to pray over her body and people were astounded to see that he was alive.  She also, as you noted, arranged for the ordination of Oriental Orthodox missionaries.

St. Theodora's status as a saint in both Churches is discussed a little bit in this thread, starting at reply 19:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,10408.msg144492.html#msg144492

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« Reply #16 on: November 12, 2008, 10:40:47 PM »

Blessings of the Lord!

I was asking, (1) was she?, and (2) if so, as at least a good portion of the historical record seems to indicate, how can she be glorified as an EO saint?


1. Without an anathema against her for being found guilty of holding Monophysitic beliefs, we cannot know if she was a monophysite or not. The statement that she is one, therefore, would be incorrect without such proof.

2. Perhaps she is considered a saint because, even though she did not hold to Monophysitic beliefs, the assistance she gave to those she disagreed with was due to her seeing in others the Icon of Christ that we all are, even at great danger to her husband's goals and possibly her own physical danger. And, like Christ in His trial when He was slandered, she suffered such rebukes in silence yet still continued in her mission of assisting those who needed her help.

What the historical record shows is that her husband Justinian apparently wanted her to be his 'lead' in a potential rapprochement with the Monophysites. She did provide help; her motivations behind this are known best to God.

In a similar way, let us say there is a Orthodox priest in an urban environment in the Deep South. His parish is primarily made up of people of European descent. This priest is known to help those in his parish's surrounding neighborhood, where most folks have ancestry from Africa. His motivation is to serve those near him because these people are the image of Christ, and possibly bring these people to Christ through evangelism. However, those in his parish who dislike this priest discuss this aid, and spread rumors that this priest is secretly a 'n****r lover', and other such slanders.

Unless the priest is found guilty of these charges, it would be wrong for anyone to state categorically that he is a 'n****r lover' because they do not know what is in his heart. In the same way, the actions the Empress performed may not have been due to holding a Monophysitic theology, but only out of Christian love.

Without Empress Theodora being found guilty of Monophysitism, it is presumptuous to state she is a Monophysite.
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« Reply #17 on: November 12, 2008, 10:45:57 PM »

And if non-Chalcedonian doctrine declares two Natures and one Person, what is the difference between that and the definitons of the Council of Chalcedon?

Alexis

When speaking of Christ, we OO's say He is OF two natures.  Eastern Orthodox ("EO") say He is IN two natures.  When we say He had "one nature," we don't mean one in a numerical sense, but rather in the sense of "united."  We avoid the phrase "in two natures," because at the time of Chalcedon it was used by those suspected of the heresy of Nestorianism.  When we say "one nature," we mean a nature that is fully human and fully divine.
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« Reply #18 on: November 12, 2008, 10:51:03 PM »

2. Perhaps she is considered a saint because, even though she did not hold to Monophysitic beliefs, the assistance she gave to those she disagreed with was due to her seeing in others the Icon of Christ that we all are, even at great danger to her husband's goals and possibly her own physical danger. And, like Christ in His trial when He was slandered, she suffered such rebukes in silence yet still continued in her mission of assisting those who needed her help.

What the historical record shows is that her husband Justinian apparently wanted her to be his 'lead' in a potential rapprochement with the Monophysites. She did provide help; her motivations behind this are known best to God.


I was unaware of her giving help to monophysites.  She did, however, help the Oriental Orthodox.  I was also unaware that Justinian wanted any rapprochement with the monophysites.  There were times, however, when he did try to reconcile with the Oriental Orthodox. 

Which monophysites did St. Theodora help?
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« Reply #19 on: November 12, 2008, 11:04:38 PM »

Isn't Monophysitism just a subset of non-Chalcedonian?
Not really. The term "non-Chalcedonian" is what the Coptic, Armenian, Syrian, Ethiopian, and   the Malankara Indian Churches prefer to be called, and none of them are monophysite.
The Mormons on the other hand are monophysite, but they can't properly be called a "non-Chalcedonian Church".
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« Reply #20 on: November 12, 2008, 11:10:53 PM »

2. Perhaps she is considered a saint because, even though she did not hold to Monophysitic beliefs, the assistance she gave to those she disagreed with was due to her seeing in others the Icon of Christ that we all are, even at great danger to her husband's goals and possibly her own physical danger. And, like Christ in His trial when He was slandered, she suffered such rebukes in silence yet still continued in her mission of assisting those who needed her help.

What the historical record shows is that her husband Justinian apparently wanted her to be his 'lead' in a potential rapprochement with the Monophysites. She did provide help; her motivations behind this are known best to God.


I was unaware of her giving help to monophysites.  She did, however, help the Oriental Orthodox.  I was also unaware that Justinian wanted any rapprochement with the monophysites.  There were times, however, when he did try to reconcile with the Oriental Orthodox. 

Which monophysites did St. Theodora help?

If memory serves, I think there was a monastery in Constantinople that had 'Monophysites' in it. They had been kicked out, and the Empress did her best to make certain they had food and shelter. Of course, when an Empress 'does her best', it can appear to be quite outscaled to many, and they may see this help as more than is needed, and make assumptions on their part.

BTW...It was not my intent to indicate that Copts, Armenians, or other OO's were Monophysites, in case you may have been thinking that. I regret any potential misunderstanding.
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« Reply #21 on: November 13, 2008, 12:32:26 AM »

I would really like to quote the relevant material, and will do so when I get the book back. Right now a friend has it.

Can we refer to the Oriental Orthodox, at least, as Miaphysites?

As far as Empress Theodora helping OOs and likening this to an Orthodox priest who does outreach to blacks in the Deep South, I find this comparison difficult to accept. It seems that she "helped" the OOs to the extreme detriment of Eastern Orthodoxy/Catholicism, such as the aforementioned efforts at stopping Justinian's missionaries from reaching Nubidae before her own OO missionaries, and for this reason the Christians of Ethiopia, Eritrea, and the surrounding regions rejected Justinian's brand of Christianity and his "wicked faith." This, I think, would be troublesome for some? I am not trying to create controversy surrounding the Empress, and I fully agree with Fr. Chris that we should exercise charity in all things.

Alexis
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« Reply #22 on: November 13, 2008, 12:48:17 AM »

Justinian's brand of Christianity and his "wicked faith."
The appellation "wicked faith" is your own, not St. Theodora's. She did nothing to the detriment of Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #23 on: November 13, 2008, 02:07:10 AM »


 She did nothing to the detriment of Orthodoxy.

Indeed, she heroically helped the Orthodox during one of our darkest hours.



I've always admired Theodora.  She was truly a woman before her time.  She was very dynamic and very intelligent.  They say if it wasn't for her, Justinian may not have survived some riots that took place during his reign. 

Another remarkable thing was that although she did some things that may have opposed her husband's religious policies, she evidently had a very good marriage with him.  My understanding is that they really loved each other.  I've always thought their story would make a good movie.   Smiley
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« Reply #24 on: November 13, 2008, 03:51:29 AM »


As far as Empress Theodora helping OOs and likening this to an Orthodox priest who does outreach to blacks in the Deep South, I find this comparison difficult to accept. It seems that she "helped" the OOs to the extreme detriment of Eastern Orthodoxy/Catholicism, such as the aforementioned efforts at stopping Justinian's missionaries from reaching Nubidae before her own OO missionaries, and for this reason the Christians of Ethiopia, Eritrea, and the surrounding regions rejected Justinian's brand of Christianity and his "wicked faith." This, I think, would be troublesome for some?


You need to know that it really took a couple of hundred years after Chalcedon for the pro-Chalcedon and anti-Chalcedon parties to really become two completely different Churches.  For quite a while after Chalcedon, there were times of negotiation between the two sides, and even times when Constantinople wavered on Chalcedon, like when Emperor Zeno reigned.  It's not like two different Churches formed the day after Chalcedon was over.  It was a process and it took a while.  The two sides were really more like two factions within the same Church.  I go over this in posts 32 and 43 in the thread I linked above.

For that reason, you find EO's and OO's venerating some of each other's saints who lived during that time period.  The Armenian Church, for example, venerates St. Daniel the Stylite, even though he was extremely pro-Chalcedon and even condemned the non-Chalcedonians.  We venerate him for his piety and asceticism and, I guess, we sort of overlook his opinion on Chalcedon.   Smiley  Our veneration of him is possible because at the time he lived the split was not the permanent concrete thing it is today.  On the other hand, a more recent EO saint now venerated by the Armenians, St. Nektarios, will probably never be added to the Armenian calendar, because at this time our Churches are really officially two separate Churches.


So it is with St. Theodora.  You're thinking about the situation in 21st century terms.  You're thinking "How could the saint of one Church be venerated by a completely different Church?"  The thing is, at that time we weren't yet two completely different Churches.  In post 43 of the above linked thread, I think I make a comparison to the Old vs. New Calendarists in the EO Church today.  They are kind of out of communion with each other (I think) but I think psychologically most EO's still view the two parties as both being Eastern Orthodox, and therefore somehow one Church.  It's not a perfect comparison, but it's the best I can do to explain the situation between the Chalcedonians and nonChalcedonians at the time of Justinian.

Anyway, if you take that into consideration, it becomes easier to understand why St. Theodora is venerated by the EO's even though she did so much for the OO's.  She was such a pious and admirable woman that even someone who disagrees with her position on Chalcedon could admire her.  And since the two parties were not completely split yet, venerating her as a saint could be possible for the EO's.

I hope that is not too confusing.   Smiley
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« Reply #25 on: November 13, 2008, 04:13:15 AM »

I've always thought their story would make a good movie.   Smiley
It actually would I think. And it surprises me that it hasn't already.
She was one of the most influential women in history.
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« Reply #26 on: November 13, 2008, 04:19:32 AM »

I can picture it now:

JUSTINIAN AND THEODORA:  A LOVE THAT CHANGED AN EMPIRE

Maybe Brad and Angelina could play the imperial couple.  Ooooh, and maybe Russel Crowe could be St. Severus and Matt Damon could be St. James Barradaeus.

There'll be romance, action, adventure, a few riots, some prison scenes...

Does anyone here know how to write a script?
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« Reply #27 on: November 13, 2008, 05:20:21 AM »

Well, seeing that she was North African, I would cast someone with Semetic type beauty and with lots of charisma that can control a crowd. I would therefore cast the Israeli Singer, "Rita" as St. Theodora:
http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=4E6Uy1wbDrc
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« Reply #28 on: November 13, 2008, 05:51:11 AM »


As far as Empress Theodora helping OOs and likening this to an Orthodox priest who does outreach to blacks in the Deep South, I find this comparison difficult to accept. It seems that she "helped" the OOs to the extreme detriment of Eastern Orthodoxy/Catholicism, such as the aforementioned efforts at stopping Justinian's missionaries from reaching Nubidae before her own OO missionaries, and for this reason the Christians of Ethiopia, Eritrea, and the surrounding regions rejected Justinian's brand of Christianity and his "wicked faith." This, I think, would be troublesome for some?


You need to know that it really took a couple of hundred years after Chalcedon for the pro-Chalcedon and anti-Chalcedon parties to really become two completely different Churches.  For quite a while after Chalcedon, there were times of negotiation between the two sides, and even times when Constantinople wavered on Chalcedon, like when Emperor Zeno reigned.  It's not like two different Churches formed the day after Chalcedon was over.  It was a process and it took a while.  The two sides were really more like two factions within the same Church.  I go over this in posts 32 and 43 in the thread I linked above.

For that reason, you find EO's and OO's venerating some of each other's saints who lived during that time period.  The Armenian Church, for example, venerates St. Daniel the Stylite, even though he was extremely pro-Chalcedon and even condemned the non-Chalcedonians.  We venerate him for his piety and asceticism and, I guess, we sort of overlook his opinion on Chalcedon.   Smiley  Our veneration of him is possible because at the time he lived the split was not the permanent concrete thing it is today.  On the other hand, a more recent EO saint now venerated by the Armenians, St. Nektarios, will probably never be added to the Armenian calendar, because at this time our Churches are really officially two separate Churches.


So it is with St. Theodora.  You're thinking about the situation in 21st century terms.  You're thinking "How could the saint of one Church be venerated by a completely different Church?"  The thing is, at that time we weren't yet two completely different Churches.  In post 43 of the above linked thread, I think I make a comparison to the Old vs. New Calendarists in the EO Church today.  They are kind of out of communion with each other (I think) but I think psychologically most EO's still view the two parties as both being Eastern Orthodox, and therefore somehow one Church.  It's not a perfect comparison, but it's the best I can do to explain the situation between the Chalcedonians and nonChalcedonians at the time of Justinian.

Anyway, if you take that into consideration, it becomes easier to understand why St. Theodora is venerated by the EO's even though she did so much for the OO's.  She was such a pious and admirable woman that even someone who disagrees with her position on Chalcedon could admire her.  And since the two parties were not completely split yet, venerating her as a saint could be possible for the EO's.

I hope that is not too confusing.   Smiley
I hope that the concrete that you set the split in is old and crumbling.

One also should remember that Justinian also supported the Non-Chalcedonians: he set an imperial policy to suppress the non-Chalcedonians within the empire, but supporting them outside the empire (basically to counter Nestorianism).

One might also remember St. Isaac the Syrian, who I believe is on all Orthodox calendars, although he belonged to the Nestorians (he however eschewed the academic theology where this became an issue).
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« Reply #29 on: November 13, 2008, 06:01:41 AM »

I can picture it now:

JUSTINIAN AND THEODORA:  A LOVE THAT CHANGED AN EMPIRE

Maybe Brad and Angelina could play the imperial couple.  Ooooh, and maybe Russel Crowe could be St. Severus and Matt Damon could be St. James Barradaeus.

There'll be romance, action, adventure, a few riots, some prison scenes...

Does anyone here know how to write a script?

You forgot Sean Connorey (spllng?) for St. Dioscoros, for some flash back scenes.  Who we gonna get for Belisarius?

I think Jason Alexander should play Procopius.
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« Reply #30 on: November 13, 2008, 07:53:24 AM »



As far as Empress Theodora helping OOs and likening this to an Orthodox priest who does outreach to blacks in the Deep South, I find this comparison difficult to accept. It seems that she "helped" the OOs to the extreme detriment of Eastern Orthodoxy/Catholicism, such as the aforementioned efforts at stopping Justinian's missionaries from reaching Nubidae before her own OO missionaries, and for this reason the Christians of Ethiopia, Eritrea, and the surrounding regions rejected Justinian's brand of Christianity and his "wicked faith." This, I think, would be troublesome for some?


But it really is not difficult to accept! Some of the African American religious leaders in surrounding neighborhoods feel that this Orthodox priest's efforts to evangelise is actually encroaching in thier 'turf', and especially because the faith being spread is one very difficult for these religious leaders to accept ("Those idol worshipping Greeks!"). From their viewpoint, as well as the viewpoint of others in his congregation, his actions are truly very suspect.

The big issue, which I do not know if you understood, is that we do not know the motivations behind the Empress' actions. In the absence of a direct and undisputed quote from the Empress indicating she was a Monophysite, or without being found guilty of Monophysitism by the Church, to declare her a Monophysite is incorrect.

It would be entirely proper to write something such as "The Empress may have had sympathies underlying her motivation to assist  those who were Monophysites", or some such language, but to declare her a Monophysite would be like stating a person is a murderer without them being found guilty of this crime in a trial.
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« Reply #31 on: November 13, 2008, 02:56:27 PM »

ozgeorge said:
Quote
The appellation "wicked faith" is your own, not St. Theodora's. She did nothing to the detriment of Orthodoxy.

Actually, you are incorrect on the first point. I will reserve judgment on the accuracy of the second. I did not say Justinian had wicked faith (thus my quotation marks). The source from which I am drawing quoted the Nubians as referring to Justinian's as a "wicked faith." As I said, when I get the book back (which is looking like it won't be till at least Monday), I will quote all of the relevant material. However, this phrase struck me and so was lodged in my memory. Please be assured that it is absolutely not my appellation in any way whatever.

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« Reply #32 on: November 13, 2008, 03:02:29 PM »

Father,

Bless!

I did understand your point; I just do not agree with it. I don't think it matters what the African Americans (or even the Greeks) think in your analogy, but rather what occurred and whether it was detrimental to the Church. Again, I never declared Theodora to be Monophysite. I asked a question.

Quote
Anyway, if you take that into consideration, it becomes easier to understand why St. Theodora is venerated by the EO's even though she did so much for the OO's.  She was such a pious and admirable woman that even someone who disagrees with her position on Chalcedon could admire her.  And since the two parties were not completely split yet, venerating her as a saint could be possible for the EO's

This explanation does, indeed, make a lot of sense! Thanks.

Alexis

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« Reply #33 on: November 13, 2008, 10:10:46 PM »


The big issue, which I do not know if you understood, is that we do not know the motivations behind the Empress' actions. In the absence of a direct and undisputed quote from the Empress indicating she was a Monophysite, or without being found guilty of Monophysitism by the Church, to declare her a Monophysite is incorrect.


The problem with using the M-word is that its application is vague.  In this forum, it's supposed to be used only for Eutychians or Apollonarians.  However, a lot of people use it pejoratively to refer to anyone who rejects Chalcedon, including the OO's.

I truly doubt that the book Alexios is referring to is specifically making the allegation that St. Theodora was a Eutychian or Apollonarian.  I've just never heard anyone make that allegation.  The author is probably using the M-word in the second, more vague and pejorative, fashion.  That has been my experience in reading about St. Theodora.  The people who use that word for her will also use it against St. Severus, and he explicitly condemned Eutyches and Apollonarius.

It would be nice if Alexios could check the book and see if the author uses that word to describe not only St. Theodora, but also Severus of Antioch.  If that is the case, then he is using it to describe anyone who doesn't accept Chalcedon.  I strongly suspect that is the case.

So the question is really whether St. Theodora was a Chalcedonian or a Non-Chalcedonian (OO.)  My belief, and I think the belief of most people, is that she was Non-Chalcedonian.  This is for the following reasons:

1.  People who were contemporaries of her described her as such.  I am aware of no contemporaries of the saint who claim she was a Chalcedonian who was merely doing pastoral outreach to Non-Chalcedonians.  To the limited extent that I have read anything that viewed her as Chalcedonian, they were sources written centuries after her death. They seem to be polemics aimed at denying that anyone venerated by EO's or Catholics could ever be a Non-Chalcedonian.

2.  The things she did for the Non-Chalcedonians went way beyond what could be viewed as Chalcedonian pastoral outreach to Non-Chalcedonians.  She hid Non-Chalcedonian theologians and bishops from her husband, when he wanted to arrest them.  She sent out Non-Chalcedonian missionaries, and I have heard the story mentioned by Alexios, wherein she delayed Chalcedonian missionaries so that her own Non-Chalcedonian ones could reach their destination first.  Those are just not the actions of a devout Chalcedonian, regardless of what her pastoral duties may have been.

With regard to Chalcedonian polemics aimed at spinning history to make St. Theodora seem like a Chalcedonian, it's not like there aren't any OO's who are guilty of this themselves.  See reply 46 in the above linked thread, which I'll link again:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,10408.msg150810.html#msg150810

This is an example of an OO who just can't accept that the OO Churches venerate a saint who was probably a Chalcedonian (St. Simeon Stylites.)  It just hurts some people to think that the "other side" could have some people who are worthy of veneration.

The reality is, however, that the OO's venerate at least a few Chalcedonian saints, and the EO's have at least one saint (St. Theodora,) who almost certainly was Non-Chalcedonian.  The polemicists need to just accept it and get over it.   Smiley

I know you are uncomfortable about St. Theodora's possible affiliation and some of her actions.  She is, nevertheless, a saint worthy of admiration, respect and veneration.  Her love for Christ and her piety are unquestionable.  She may not have supported her husband's religious policies, but she supported him in all other things, and was responsible for him surviving a horrible political revolt.  She was, in the end, a faithful and loving wife. 



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« Reply #34 on: November 14, 2008, 08:34:19 PM »

I always thought Chalcedon and the events followed would make, if not a great movie, a great series of shows.
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« Reply #35 on: November 17, 2008, 03:48:47 PM »

Ok, y'all, here's the relevant material I promised. I will quote it at length, but cannot post the entire entry at the moment (it's fairly long).

Quote
The Evangelization of Nubia, John of Ephesus, Ecclesiastical History

Archaeologists have traced Africa's ancient black culture of Nubia back to 3100 B.C.E. Located in modern southern Egypt and northern Sudan, Nubia comprised three kingdoms (Nobatia, Makouria, and Alwa) that converted to Christianity in the sixth century. The following account of the non-Chalcedonian bishop, John of Ephesus (ca. 507-586), describes the rivalry between the Chalcedonian emperor, Justinian, and his non-Chalcedonian wife, Theodora, who both sent missionaries to evangelize the Nobatai. Though neighboring Egypt fell to the Arabs in the seventh century, strong Christian kingdoms in Nubia resisted conquest and conversion to Islam until the fourteenth century.

Among the clergy in attendance upon pope Theodosius was a presbyter named Julian, an old man of great worth, who conceived an earnest spiritual desire to christianize the wandering people who dwell on the eastern borders of the Thebais [a region of upper Egypt], beyond Egypt, and who are not only not subject to the authority of the Roman empire, but even receive a subsidy on condition that they do not enter or pillage Egypt. The blessed Julian, therefore, being full of anxiety for this people, went and spoke about them to the late queen Theodora, in the hope of awakening in her a similar desire for their conversion; and as the queen was fervent in zeal for God, she received the proposal with joy, and promised to do everything in her power for the conversion of these tribes from the errors of idolatry. In her joy, therefore, she informed the victorious king Justinian of the proposed undertaking, and promised and anxiously desired to send the blessed Julian thither. But when the king heard that the person she intended to send was opposed to the council of Chalcedon, he was not pleased, and determined to write to the bishops of his own side in the Thebais, with orders for them to proceed thither and instruct them, and plant among them the name of the synod. And as he entered upon the matter with great zeal, he sent thither, without a moment's delay, ambassadors with gold and baptismal robes, and gifts of honor for the king of that people, and letters for the duke of of the Thebais, enjoining him to take every care of the embassy, and escort them to the territories of the Nobidae [i.e., the people of Nobatia, one of the Nubian kingdoms]. When, however, the queen learnt these things, she quicky, with much cunning, wrote letters to the duke of the Thebais, and sent a mandatory of her court to carry them to him; and which were as follows: "Inasmuch as both his majesty and myself have proposed to send an embassy to the people of Nobidae, and I am now despatching a blessed man named Julian; and further my will is, that my ambassador should arrive at the aforesaid people before his majesty's; be warned, that if you permit his ambassador to arrive there before mine, and not hinder him by various pretexts until mine shall have reached you, and have passed through your province, and arrived as his destination, your life shall answer for it; for I will immediately send and take off your head."

It continues on to explain that Theodora's wishes were fulfilled and Justinian's missionaries were held up in the Thebais until Julian and his fellow missionaries had arrived in Nubia. The Nubians accepted Christ...

Quote
...And after Julian had given them much instruction, and taught them, he further told them about the council of Chalcedon, saying, that "inasmuch as certain disputes have sprung up among Christians touching the faith; and the blessed Theodosius being required to receive the council, and having refused, was ejected by the king from his throne, whereas the queen received him and rejoiced in him, because, he stood firm in the right faith, and left his throne for its sake: on this account her majesty has sent us to you, that you also may walk in the ways of pope Theodosius, and stand in his faith, and imitate his constancy. And moreover the king has sent unto you ambassadors, who already are on their way in our footsteps." They then instructed them how they should receive them, and what answer they should give....[and when the Justinian's ambassadors arrived and presented the king of Nubia with gifts, the king and his princes said]: "...But [Justinian's] faith we will not accept: for if we consent to become Christians, we shall walk after the example of pope Theodosius, who, because he was not willing to accept the wicked faith of the king, was driven away by him and expelled from his church."

That should do it for now.

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« Reply #36 on: November 22, 2008, 02:32:37 AM »

I feel bad, because you took the time to type all that out, and now I'm not sure what to say! I really hadn't heard of this before, and don't know what exactly to say. Hopefully this will bump the thread up and others can chime in though.
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« Reply #37 on: November 22, 2008, 02:44:00 AM »

Academic textbooks tend to insert their own biases towards any religion that doesn't mesh with the author's beliefs.

The source has inherent biases, especially if the Nubians didn't care for Rome/Byzantium, where the biases are intended to cast doubt as to whether St. Theodora and St. Justinian were on the same page.  The Church has had 1,500+ years to make that distinction and so far, nothing has come forward to refute what Sts. Theodora and Justinian have accomplished.

I take what the excerpt said with a little grain of salt.   Cheesy
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« Reply #38 on: November 22, 2008, 03:13:44 AM »

I have heard the story more than once, and it was recorded by contemporary sources, at least one of which was St. John of Ephesus.  St. John knew both Justinian and St. Theodora, and he was an example of an OO who personally got along with Justinian.  As an OO, I'm sure he would have had his biases, but there is no reason why he would have just made a story like that up.  In fact, I always thought that historians considered him a reliable source for that period.

By the way, I'm still interested in finding St. John's writings, if they are in print.  I asked about this a while back, and still no success:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,12934.0.html

If anyone knows of his history being in print, please let me know. 
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