The MOST Theological Collection: Outline of Christology
"XXIII. Development of the Theology of Jesus"
Because of the promise of Jesus at the Last Supper to send the Holy Spirit to lead them into all truth (Jn. 16. 13. Cf. 14. 26) we must expect a development in the Patristic age. And indeed the long and bitter controversies about the nature and structure of Jesus show this was true.
a) Scripture on the divinity of Jesus: There are three kinds of texts in the NT. One kind does seem to state His divinity; the other seems to deny it. Still others are unclear.
1) Affirmation of divinity: In John 1. 1-2 the Logos is called God. In John 8. 58 Jesus says "before Abraham came to be, I AM." Any Jew would see that He was using the words of Yahweh at the burning bush. In John 10. 30 He said "I and the Father are one." Titus 2. 13 says we are "waiting for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ." Romans 9. 5 according to one translation would read: "... from who is Christ according to the flesh, the one who is over all God, blessed forever. Amen." But a different translation is equally possible: . . from whom is Christ according to the flesh, who is above all. May God be blessed forever. Amen." In 1 Thes. 3. 11 St. Paul uses a singular verb with the two subjects The Father and Jesus. Right after his conversion Paul in Damascus, according to Acts 9. 20 began to preach that Jesus was "the Son of God." Now if Paul had used that phrase in the loose sense, in which it could be applied to any Jew, there would have been no reason for surprise.
2)Seeming denial of divinity. In John 14. 28 Jesus Himself says: "The Father is greater than I." In 1 Cor 15. 28 St. Paul says that at the end Christ will be subject to the Father. In St. Peter's speech on the first Pentecost in Acts 2. 14ff. Peter speaks of Him as "a man whom God sent. He adds that God worked miracles through Him. God raised Him up. Peter's speech in Acts 3. 11-26 is similar, as is also Paul's first synagogue address in Acts 13. 16-41. Paul's speech at Athens, in Acts 17, 2-31 speaks of Jesus as "a man He has appointed."
3) Uncertain texts. Paul habitually speaks of Jesus as Lord, Kyrios in Greek. Now the Septuagint used Kyrios to translate Yahweh, and so that makes it seem Paul has that in mind. Yet Kyrios in Greek, much like Adon in Hebrew, could mean not only a divine Lord, but also a human master. In Phil 2. 6-7 Paul says that Christ did not think equality to God something to cling to or grasp after. But that leaves us uncertain if Paul meant He already had equality to God or was trying to get it - unless we take "form of God" just before it to mean divine nature. If it does not mean divine nature, it would mean the external glory of God, which would come to the same thing. In Colossians 1. 15-16 Christ is "the image of the invisible God." But that need not mean divinity. In fact, to be visible when God himself cannot be seen could imply inferiority. In Col 2. 9 "the fullness of divinity dwells in Him." But again, this might be something like our share in the divine nature (cf 2 Peter 1. 4).
b) Theological Method in the Fathers: We comment: 1)Sound theological method tells us that at times, in divine matters, we may meet with two texts or conclusions which seem to clash. We then recheck our work, but if after that we still find the seeming clash, we must not force either truth. The Fathers were very faithful to this procedure. Thus in speaking of the human knowledge of Jesus, most of them made two sets of statements, one affirming ignorance, the other denying it (Cf. Wm. G. Most, The Consciousness of Christ, chapter 6. Again, in speaking of the teaching that there is no salvation outside the Church, many Fathers (and the Magisterium too) also make two kinds of statements: Cf. Wm. G. Most, Our Father's Plan, pp. 241-69. So it is not strange if both Scripture and the Fathers make two kinds of statements on His divinity. 2) It is quite proper to make statements that fully fit either His divine nature or His human nature. Hence Peter and Paul could speak of Him in the purely human vein in speeches. Hence Paul could speak of Him as going to be subject to the Father, and Jesus Himself could say "The Father is greater than I."
c) Denials of Humanity of Jesus:
Before taking up Patristic texts on His divinity, we digress a moment to notice that many denied His humanity altogether:
The Docetists: They said the spiritual Christ entered the human Jesus at His baptism, and left before the crucifixion. They appealed to St. Paul's words about a "spiritual" body in 1 Cor 15. 42-50. Of course, then the suffering would not be attributed to a divine person, and the redemption would be finite. The incarnation also would be an illusion.
Our first clear mention of this view is in the Letter of St. Ignatius of Antioch (died prob. 107 AD) to Tralles 10: "But if, as some atheists, that is unbelievers, claim, His suffering was only a make-believe, when really they themselves are make-believes: why am I in chains? Why do I even want to fight with the beasts? Then I die in vain. My testimony is only a lie about the Lord." He has in mind St. Paul's framework: we are saved and made holy if and to the extent that we are members of Christ and like Him. Ignatius wants to be more like Him in His sufferings. In his Letter to Smyrna 7: "They avoid the Eucharist and prayer because they do not admit that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, that suffered for our sins... . It is right, then, to avoid associating with such people, and not to speak about them either privately or publicly."
St. Irenaeus (died c. 200) in his Against Heresies repeatedly uses the theme of recapitulation to counter the denial by Gnostics of the reality of the flesh of Christ. (Recapitulation means that there is now a new head. Adam had been the first head, Christ the new Adam reverses the evil from Adam. He applies this also to the New Eve, to the Antichrist who is the new head of the forces of evil, and to the restoration of all things to their original state at the end (cf. St. Paul, Romans 8. 19-25). In 3. 18. 7: "For just as by the disobedience of the one man who originally came from the virginal soil, the many became sinners and forfeited life; so it was right that by the obedience of the one man, who was originally born from a virgin, the many should be justified... if without being made flesh He appeared as if He had flesh, His work would not be a true one. But He was what He appeared." In 3. 22. 1: "They are greatly in error who say He took nothing from the Virgin. To throw away the inheritance of the flesh, they also reject the parallel [between Christ and Adam].
Evidence for Docetic ideas among the Gnostics also appears in the Nag Hammadi documents, e.g., 1st Apocalypse of James 5. 31. 15-26 and Letter of Peter to Philip 8. 139. 15-19.
d) Some reduction of the humanity of Jesus appears in Clement of Alexandria, probably under influence of Stoic ideas. Clement said (Paidagogos 1. 2. 4) Jesus was apathes , without bodily passion. More clearly in Stromata 6. 9. 71. 2: "The one who has deeper wisdom is such that he is subject only to the affections that are for the maintenance of the body, such as hunger, thirst, and similar things. As to the Savior, it would be ridiculous to suppose that the body demanded as a body the things needed for maintenance. For He ate, but not for the sake of the body, which had its sustenance from a holy power, but He did it so that those with Him might not think he appeared like a phantasm. He was in general dispassionate and had no movement of feeling." A somewhat similar notion is found in St. Hilary, On the Trinity 10. 23. He seems to mean that organic physical pain could be found in Christ, but said He had no interior reaction or feeling of pain: unworthy of the God-man.
e) Cases of Subordinationism before Arius?
St. Justin the Martyr is sometimes accused of subordinationism. On the one hand he speaks of the Father as invisible and living above the sky, and never visiting the world (Dialogue 60): "He who has even the smallest intelligence will not venture to say that the Creator and Father of all things left matters above the heavens, and was visible on a little space on the earth." Justin has in mind the belief that all the appearances of God before the incarnation were by the Second Person - an idea often found in the Fathers. Similarly in Dialogue 127: "He does not move, cannot be contained by place or by the whole world... . How then could he talk to anyone, or be seen by anyone?"
On the other hand, we can see the Logos while the Father is incomprehensible. In First Apology 13: "He is the Son of the True God, He holds a second place, and the Spirit of Prophecy third place." Again, in Dialogue 56. 4:" Another is here called God and Lord, who is below (hypo) the Maker of the universe, and who is called angel or messenger because He is the one who announces to men whatever the Creator of all things wills to announce."
Yet Justin is the first we know to use the comparison of fire. He says that when one fire is enkindled from another, it loses nothing, yet the second fire is the same (Dialogue 61).
St. Theophilus of Antioch, To Autolycus 2. 22: After saying that God is not contained in a place, he answers the problem of how God could come to paradise and walk with Adam: "His Word, through whom He made all things, being His power and His wisdom, taking on the person [prosopon] of the Father and Lord of all, came into paradise in the person of God and associated with Adam... the Word was God."
St. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3. 16. 6: "Recapitulating man in Himself, the invisible is made visible, the incomprehensible is made comprehensible, and that which is not subject to suffering is made subject to suffering." in 2. 28. 8:" Irrationally, moreover, and proudly and boldly you say you know the unspeakable mysteries of God, while even the Lord, the Son of God Himself, admitted that only the Father knows [the day of the end]."COMMENT: Irenaeus is attacking the pride of the Gnostics who claimed such great knowledge. So it is in polemic - where things may be strained - that he says this. Actually the Fathers of the Church still had to wait and labor for some centuries before the true answer came to the problem of Mark 13. 32. It came from Eulogius and Gregory the Great (DS 475): "The incarnate only-begotten, made perfect man for us, knew the day and the hour of judgment in the nature of humanity, but yet not from the nature of humanity." Really, those today who charge ignorance in Jesus really mean that a certain item did not register on His human mind. They do not mean that the divine Person was ignorant. There is only one Person in Jesus.
Tertullian is also sometimes accused of subordinationism. In his Against Hermogenes 3 he said that,"God could not be Father before the Son was." This could be taken to mean the Son had a beginning in time. On the other hand, in his Against Praxeas 27 he says: "We plainly see the double state, which is not mixed but joined in one person - Jesus, God and man... and so the special property of each nature is so fully preserved that the spirit on the one hand did all things proper to it in Jesus, such as miracles... and the flesh showed the affections that belong to it. It was hungry... thirsty... wept... was troubled even to death and at last actually died."
St. Hippolytus of Rome in Philosophoumena 10. 33 said: "At the same time as He came forth from Him by whom He was begotten, His firstborn, being His voice, He has in Himself the ideas conceived beforehand by the Father." Yet a few lines below in the same passage: "Wherefore He [the Logos] is God, being the substance of God."
Origen: In his Discussion with Heraclides he arrived at the conclusion "two Gods and one power" to express the relation of the Father to the Son. Yet in His On John 13. 25 he wrote: The Savior and the Holy Spirit are beyond comparison, and are very much superior to all things that are made, but also, the Father is even more above them than they are above creatures, even the highest." In his Peri archon (on First Principles) 1. 2. 6 he said: "The Son is without beginning." In Fragment 24, 359 of his On Hebrews he wrote: "So Wisdom too, since it proceeds from God, is generated out of the divine substance itself... it is called 'a sort of clean and pure outflow of all powerful glory' (Wisdom 7. 25). Both these comparisons clearly show the community of substance between Son and Father, for an outflow seems to be homoousios [of the same substance] with the body of which it is the outflow." Thus He coined the word homoousios which the Council of Nicea was later to pick as the clearest expression of the divinity of Christ. On the other hand, Origen said that the Father is incomprehensible but becomes comprehensible through the Logos: First Principles 1. 2. 8.
Novatian, On the Trinity 31: "For it is necessary that He who does not have an origin must precede Him who has an origin." A few lines below: "He came forth from Him, by whose will all things were made, God indeed proceeding from God."
Eusebius of Caesarea, Ecclesiastical Theology 2. 14:" "... the only begotten Son of the Father, not Himself being unbegotten nor without beginning, but born of Him, and attributing His beginning to the one who begot Him." "the only begotten Son, as the image of the Father, born of Him, and in everything most like the one who begot Him."
There are more texts alleged as being subordinationist. Cf. Aloys Grillmeier, Christ in Christian Tradition (tr. John Bowden, John Knox, Atlanta, I. 1975, in index s. v."subordinationism".
It seems that most if not all the above texts could be explained by supposing the Fathers were following the theological method explained above, of holding to both truths without knowing how to fit them together. We must add that precise terminology took a long time to develop, and that much trouble arose from the attempts of the Fathers to express and further clarify tradition by philosophical means. This was especially the case with Arius, who depended heavily on philosophical ways rather than on Scripture and Tradition. Still further, no one sees and intends all the implications of his own words. Hence we should stick largely to the explicit sense of the things that are said, and at least, cannot be sure a writer intended an implication.
f) Arianism: Sometime after 313, an elderly priest, Arius, began to attract great crowds by his preaching in the church of St. Baucalis in Alexandria. He was then about 60. He had been born probably in 256- 260. He had come from Libya when quite young. He probably had listened in Antioch to Lucian, a famed scholar to whose teaching Arius appealed. It was at least colored with subordinationism. Arius at the time was still handsome, had a lean face as if from much fasting, and a serene look, vibrant speech.
He stressed the absolute unity of God, who did not have to have a Logos. Hence "There was when He was not". Perhaps meant the Logos was created before time began.
Pagans then found it hard to believe God could become man - we recall the words of Plato and Aristotle on this. But they could easily believe a man became God. There were many such Greek gods.
Arius seems to have reasoned that the divinity should not only be uncreated but unbegotten, agennetos. So, whatever is begotten, cannot be really God, though he may be the highest of creatures. Such is the Logos. He, like other creatures was brought out of nothingness: ek ouk onton, not from the divine substance. Hence, again, there was a point when he was not.
Similarly, he held God must be incommunicable, and so the Logos must not be God.
We notice in passing the bad theological method. Arius decided not from Scripture but from reason that God could not be begotten. But the first chapter of John's Gospel says both that the Logos was God, and that He was the only-begotten of the Father.
There was only a hint that Jesus was adopted as God for His virtue. Later opponents of Nicea seem to have excluded this idea of adoption.
He seems to have held that Jesus had no human soul - the Logos filled that function. (Of course for Arius, the Logos was not divine. so this is different from the heresy of Apollinaris, which we shall see). This was the ultimate in the Logos-sarx (i.e., Logos plus flesh is all there was in Jesus) Christology - the opposite of the Logos-anthropos (Logos plus a man) Christology, which was to culminate in Nestorianism.
Bishop Alexander of Alexandria first pleaded with Arius, but in vain. Then he called a synod of about 100 bishops from Egypt and Libya, in about 318. Arius was deposed. He tried to get support especially from former fellow students at Antioch, including Eusebius of Nicomedia, then the eastern capital of the empire. Eusebius welcomed him warmly. Eusebius of Caesarea, the historian, was friendly, but not too clear in his stand. Arius first went to Palestine, then to Nicomedia. He composed his chief work, the Thalia in prose and verse.
In 324 Constantine after defeating Licinius controlled both East and West. When he entered Nicomedia, h e was disturbed over the division in Christianity, and did not understand Arius. Daniel Rops' Church history (I. 2. pp. 203-04) gives us the text of the letter Constantine wrote to Bishop Alexander and Arius: "In considering the origin of your division, I find that its cause is trivial and certainly does not merit throwing souls into confusion in this way... . On certain questions it is a futile to ask as to reply. How many people are there who are capable of understanding and possessing an opinion on such difficult matters as these?... Basically you think alike; you can easily return to the same communion. Remain united. Return to your mutual charity for, in short, the matter between you does not concern an essential point of faith."
Constantine sent the letter through a Spanish Bishop, Ossius of Cordova, one of his advisors, then near 70. He was vigorous, lived to be over 100. Ossius sided with Bishop Alexander. The Arians rose in revolt, even broke some statues of the Emperor. Ossius returned to Nicomedia, followed soon by Alexander, then by Arius. Constantine sent officials to restore order and to double the capitation tax.
He proposed to personally judge the theological debate. But Ossius suggested calling a council of all Catholic Bishops, at which Constantine could preside. He liked the idea, paid expenses of the Bishops. It was first planned for Ancyra, then changed to Nicea, a better location. Eusebius says 250 Bishops came, plus numerous priests, deacons and others. Athanasius says 318 came.
It opened on May 20, 325 in joyful atmosphere. But it soon was clear that there was a grave division. About 15 Bishops openly sided with Arius, espcially Eusebius of Nicomedia. Some wanted to define using only Scriptural phrases. That would be unclear, and both sides might accept in different senses. Prominent in the debates was Deacon Athanasius of Alexandria.
When part of the Thalia was read, the errors were so obvious that the council was indignant. At first 5 Bishops refused to sign the final definition. Constantine threatened force, and 3 of the 5 signed, the other two went into exile with Arius (Theonas of Marmarica and Secundus of Ptolemais).
The Council finally did define the divinity of Christ, using the word homoousios, meaning that the Logos is "of the same substance" as the Father": DS 125.
We said Athanasius, a Deacon of Alexandria was prominent at Nicea. He was born c 295 at Alexandria, and had a good classical and theological education. He went to Nicea as secretary of Bishop Alexander. In 328 he became Bishop of Alexandria - when he was not yet 30 yrs. old. He died May 2, 373 after 45 years in office.
Constantine ordered him to readmit Arius. Athanasius refused. False charges were made that he had murdered Bishop Arsenius, and cut off his dead hand for magic uses, and had relations with an immoral woman. But the harlot his enemies hired did not even recognize Athanasius at the trial - pointed at the wrong man. He was deposed at the Synod of Tyre in 335. Constantine exiled him to Treves. Constantine died in 337, baptized near his end by Arian Eusebius of Nicomedia. Arius had died the year before, suddenly, before he was to be readmitted. One account says he was found huddled in a corner, his entrails hanging out from a punctured hernia. Another account says it was a stroke.
With the support of Constantine's son, Constantine II, who was at Treves, Athanasius returned to his diocese. He was acquitted by a provincial council at Alexandria. But the Eusebians attacked again, and he was deposed at a Synod of Antioch in 339. The Synod claimed his return was invalid, since he had been deposed at Tyre. The Synod elected Pistus, an excommunicated priest as Bishop of Alexandria, but later forced him out, and installed Gregory of Cappadocia by force.
Eusebius of Nicomedia died as Bishop of Constantinople, Constantine's new city, in 339.
Athanasius fled to Rome to Pope Julius I who called a local Synod recognizing Athanasius at the lawful Bishop of Alexandria. That decision was ratified by a broader Synod at Sardica (now Sofia) in 343, called by Constans, another son of Constantine. In 346 with the help of much pressure by Constans, Athanasius got back to his see. But the eastern Bishops at a Council in Antioch (for dedication of a new basilica, called first in 341) did not disapprove of Arius, and was noncommittal about the nature of the unity of the Son with the Father.
Constans was murdered by a usurper in 350, and Constantius became sole Emperor. He wanted unity, and decided to go along with what he considered a majority of Eastern Bishops who were hostile to Athanasius. So there was a campaign of synods and individual signatures in both east and west against Athanasius. Constantius called a synod at Arles in 353 to condemn Athanasius. Legates of Pope Liberius agreed to the condemnation. But the Pope did not agree, and called for a broader council. It met at Milan in 355. When bishops protested against condemning Athanasius, the Emperor lost patience and threatened the Bishops. He said: "My will is canon law in this matter". Most Bishops yielded. Pope Liberius protested and was exiled. Constantius put in an antiPope, Felix, but the people refused to recognize him. So Constantius then wanted to restore Liberius, but first to get him to condemn Athanasius. The Emperor used threats and flattery. Finally Liberius did excommunicate St. Athanasius and signed an ambiguous profession of faith.
St. Athanasius himself later defended Liberius (Epistle to the Monks and History of the Arians 41. PG 25. 741): "Things done through torments contrary to the original judgment, these are not acts of will on the part of those who have been put to fear, but of those who inflict the torture." Liberius is not admirable, but his action has no doctrinal value at all, because done under duress. It is possible too that Liberius had been sold the idea that the word homoousios was being used to spread Sabellianism -quite possible - the heresy that held that the Son had no separate existence - He was just a mode of the Father.
5000 soldiers were sent to arrest Athanasius in Alexandria, but he slipped into the desert in February 356, stayed in hiding until November 361, with the aid of monks of the desert.
Constantius by force and threats imposed a still more ambiguous creed on the western Bishops at Rimini and then on the Eastern Bishops, probably at Seleucia in 359, clearly in Constantinople in 360. The formula was that the Son is "like" the Father: homoios. The word homoiousios had the root ousia, for substance in it, it would mean like in substance. The homoios was thus more vague. (Some Bishops had tried to add kata panta,"in all things" but could not win acceptance for the addition).
It was at this point that St. Jerome's rhetoric went too far (Dialogue against the Luciferians 19): "Then the word for substance was abolished; then the condemnation of the faith of Nicea was shouted out. The whole world groaned and was surprised to find itself Arian." But: this was not a general council, but two regional councils. And since the decisions were under duress they had no doctrinal value. And the formula, as we said, was not strictly Arian, but deliberately ambiguous.
Constantius died in 36l and Athanasius returned to his see even before the next Emperor, Julian the Apostate, called back all Bishops from exile, hoping to promote dissension. But then Julian, seeing peace was likely, again expelled Athanasius as "a disturber of the peace and enemy of the gods." Julian died in 363, and Athanasius returned. But he was exiled again in 365 under the Eastern Emperor Valens, for 4 months. But the people of Alexandria threatened to revolt, and Valens recalled him. He returned Feb. 1, 366, died May 2, 373.
He had been exiled 5 times, a total of about 17 years. Some of his chief writings are: Three Orations Against the Arians (his chief dogmatic work), Apology Against the Arians (many important documents), History of the Arians (written at request of the monks who took him in).
St. Basil and St. Gregory of Nazianzus contributed much to the final settlement by their writings against Eunomius who held the Son was anomoios , unlike the Father, and taught that agennetos,"unbegotten", fully expressed the nature of God. An interesting facet of the work of St. Basil was his winning rather wide acceptance in a short period of time for restricting, in theological writings, the meaning of ousia to "substance" (in general usage it could also mean "being") and of hypostasis to "person" (in general usage it could also mean "substance." Cf. Basil's Against Eunomius and his Epistle 214, and Gregory's Orations 27-31).
In the West, the work of St. Hilary of Poitiers was very valuable, so that he is sometimes called "the Athanasius of the West".
g) Apollinarism: His is a sad story. He had fought well with St. Athanasius against Arianism and was even excommunicated by the Arian Bishop of His city in 342. He became Bishop of Laodicea c. 361. He probably died c 390.
He denied that Christ had a human rational soul - said He had a body and an irrational soul (Platonic idea, practically, the emotional sphere). The Logos, who was divine in His thought (unlike that of Arius) did the work of the human rational soul. This was the culmination of the Logos-sarx Christology, of which we spoke above.
Two trains of thought lead him to his error: 1) A metaphysical reasoning: If two beings are already complete, such as God and man, they cannot form a unity, but only a conglomerate. So there must be something lacking in Christ - Apollinaris thought it was the human soul, 2) A psychological reasoning: The rational soul is the seat and center of the power of self-determination for good or evil: so if He had a rational soul, Christ would be capable of sin.
As to the metaphysical argument: It is true that something had to be lacking. But what was lacking was human personhood and separate existence. Ordinarily if we put together a body and soul it is a human person. Not so in Christ, for the Second Person of the Holy Trinity took over the whole complex so it never became a human person. (Incidentally, this shows us Jesus had to have the vision of God in His human soul - for not just His human mind, but His whole humanity was joined to the divinity in one Person. An ordinary soul gets the vision if its mind is joined, with no image in between. The union in Jesus was much closer, in one Person).
As to the psychological argument: Jesus did have a human will, but all actions of His were channelled into, attributed to the one Person, the divine Person, which cannot sin. His view was first censured in 377 at a Synod of Rome under Pope Damasus, then again by a Synod of Antioch in 379, and finally by the Second General Council, of Constantinople, in 381.
St. Gregory of Nyssa wrote a large refutation, Antirrheticus. St. Gregory of Nazianzus in his Epistle 101 also argues against him. This Gregory reasoned that what He has not assumed, He has not healed (this within the framework of Physical-Mystical Solidarity which we saw above in Section XXI).
St Gregory of Nazianzus also showed that the doctrine of the Theotokos is the touchstone of orthodoxy. If we said He had two persons, divine and human, she would have relation only to the human person. If we said He had but one nature, divine, again she would not be Theotokos. If He had one nature, human, she could not be called Mother of God. Therefore, for her to be called Mother of God, He must have one Person, a divine Person, but two natures, divine and human. St Cyril of Alexandria also spoke similarly.
h) Nestorianism: St. Cyril of Alexandria, the chief opponent of Nestorius, said that Diodore of Tarsus and Theodore of Mopsuestia were Nestorians before Nestorius. There is debate today. We have only fragments of Diodore and Theodore, and not a lot of Nestorius either. Some even assert without qualification that Nestorius was not a Nestorian, that he was opposed to it. But there is scant evidence for such a position. After all, St. Cyril was able to talk to Nestorius in person. It would be strange indeed if he and the Council did not know what he taught.
Diodore of Tarsus defended Nicea against the heretics. Among his pupils were St. John Chrysostom and Theodore of Mopsuestia. Diodore worked vigorously against Julian the Apostate Emperor. Didore was considered orthodox in his lifetime. He seems to have been led into error by working hard to find two subjects for the human and divine characteristics in Christ. Julian used the human notes to deny divinity. Diodore probably died before 394.
Theodore of Mopsuestia studied with Diodore of Tarsus. He too like Diodore had a great reputation for orthodoxy while alive. Charges came after his death, especially in the heavily politicized matter of the "Three Chapters" --i.e., Theodore of Mopsuestia, Theodoret and Ibas whose condemnation Emperor Justinian sought hoping to reconcile the Monophysites. Pope Vigilius wavered - no doctrinal error. Theodore of Mopsuestia was guilty of doctrinal error and did not retract. The other two were once guilty, t hen retracted. Their previous error could be condemned, or their later retractation could be approved. Hence there was room for real politics. Died about 428.
The second general Council, at Constantinople in 381, condemned "impious Theodore of Mopsuestia who said that the Logos of God is one, Christ was another, suffering molestations from passions of soul and desires of the flesh, and gradually leaving the worse things, becoming better with advance in [good] works and becoming immaculate by living, was baptized as a mere man in the name of the Father and Son and Holy Spirit, and by Baptism received the grace of the Holy Spirit and merited to become a son." (DS 434). We notice: 1) The clear implication of two persons, one who was morally inferior, gradually became better, was baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit - implying that the Son [the Logos] was one person, and Christ was another person, as the opening line had said. He had been a "mere man" [psilon anthropon] and merited to become a son. 2) He said Jesus was subject to disorderly passions - like the infamous movie,"The Last Temptation."
Nestorius was born after 381 of Persian parents in Syria. He studied at the school of Antioch, probably under Theodore of Mopsuestia. He entered the monastery of St. Euprepius near Antioch, and won fame as a preacher. That led Emperor Theodosius II to make him Bishop of Constantinople in 428 in spite of claims of local candidates. He set out to reform, took strong measures against heretics, schismatics, Jews, Arians, Macedonians, Novatians. Oddly, he spared the Pelagians.
One of the priests he brought with him, Anastasius, forbade the title Theotokos. Nestorius defended Anastasius in a series of sermons. He is supposed to have taught there were two persons in Christ. Hence the Blessed Virgin would be the Mother only of the human person, and not the Mother of God. He wanted the terms Anthropotokos or Christotokos, instead of Theotokos. When the teaching of Nestorius appeared in 428, St. Cyril of Alexandria already in the spring of 429, in his Paschal Letter, answered Nestorius. He soon did the same in a long encyclical to the monks of Egypt. There had been latent hostility for two generations between Alexandria and Antioch , both patriarchates. It now came out in the open. There was a fruitless exchange of letters between Nestorius and Cyril. Both then appealed to Pope Celestine. A Synod at Rome in August 430 condemned Nestorius, and approved Cyril. The Pope entrusted Cyril with the work of communicating the decision to Nestorius. Cyril drew up 12 anathemas, which he added to the Pope's letter (these can now be seen as the end of Epistle 17 of Cyril). Cyril threatened Nestorius with deposition and excommunication if he did not retract within ten days. Nestorius asked Emperor Theodosius II to call a Council. It met at Ephesus on June 22, 431. Cyril presided at the first session. Cyril's twelve anathemas were confirmed, the doctrine of Nestorius was condemned, the title Theotokos was solemnly recognized. Cf. DS 250-64.
About four days later John of Antioch arrived with his own Bishops, held a synod which deposed and excommunicated Cyril. Then Emperor Theodosius II heard of it, he deposed both Cyril and Nestorius, sent both to jail. Later Cyril was allowed to return to Alexandria, where he was welcomed as a second Athanasius. Nestorius retired to a monastery near Antioch.
In 433 John of Antioch accepted the condemnation of Nestorius. Cyril thought peace had returned, but he had to defend his Christology again and again. He had to defend his twelve anathemas in three apologies. He died June 27, 444.
Some of the major works of Cyril, besides the twelve anathemas included Thesaurus de sancta et consubstantiali Trinitate. It dates from 428, is against Arians. After that he wrote chiefly against Nestorius. His Epistle 4 to Nestorius was unanimously approved by the Council of Ephesus. His Epistle 17 was sent in the name of an Alexandrian synod in 430. His Epistle 39 to John of Antioch, in 433, i s also called the Creed of Ephesus. His terminology was not always careful. Before 428 when Nestorius appeared, he wrote some lines that sounded Nestorian. He even used the word "inhabitation" to describe the relation of God and man in Christ. He was accused of Apollinarism and Monophysitism. In his Epistle 46. 2 he uses the expression,"the one nature of the Word of God made flesh" - which he thought came from St. Athanasius, but really came from Apollinaris. He sometimes used the words physis and hypostasis without distinction to mean nature as well as person. Hence confusion.
Today is he accused on saying Jesus was ignorant. For the answer, cf. Wm. G. Most, The Consciousness of Christ, pp. 109-12.
His Sermon 4 is the most famous ancient Marian sermon, given at the Church of S. Mary at Ephesus between June 23 and 24 in 43l. Sermon 11 is the same, retouched.
From Nestorius we have the Bazaar of Heraclides of Damascus. It was written in his later years, the only treatise of his completely extant . It was discovered in 1895 in a Syriac translation. It is a dialogue with an Egyptian Sophronius, in which Nestorius defends his teachings, gives a history of his life. He attacks the decisions of Ephesus and the teachings of Cyril. He claims his belief is the same as that of Pope Leo I. Heraclides is only a pen name. It closes with a plea for forgiveness and charity. Fifteen of his Epistles seem to have survived, including two to Cyril, one to Theodosius II, four to Pope Celestine I, and one to Theodoret of Cyrus (one of the "Three Chapters").
i) Monophysitism: Eutyches was born about 378. At about age 30 he became Archimandrite of a large monastery of 300 monks at Constantinople. After the Council of Ephesus he was an ardent opponent of Nestorians. In 441 his godson, the eunuch Chrysaphius became powerful at the imperial court. Eutyches used this influence against all suspected of Nestorianism. He was not bright, a poor mind, poor training. He held to what he thought were formulas of St. Cyril without understanding. Cyril had used some misleading expressions, especially "the one nature of the word of God made flesh" which really came from Apollinaris, Cyril thought it was from Athanasius. It easily led to Monophysitism.
Eutyches was denounced to the Emperor by the Patriarch of Antioch, but with no result. Later the same year Eusebius, Bishop of Dorylaeum, charged him before Flavian, Bishop of Constantinople and a council of Bishops permanently residing there. Eutyches came only on the third summons. He on questioning said that before the incarnation there were two natures, after it, only one nature. He was deposed, excommunicated, and interdicted. He did not submit.
Dioscorus, successor of St. Cyril as Bishop of Alexandria, took Eutyches under his protection. Eutyches induced Theodosius II to call a council at Ephesus. Dioscorus presided, in 449. With imperial troops and fanatical monks with clubs, he terrified the 135 Bishops, and paid no heed to the Pope's letter. He rehabilitated Eutyches, deposed several Bishops . The papal legates fled. Pope Leo I called it "The robber council of Ephesus". Theodosius backed its decisions until his death in 450. The next Emperor wanted a new Council. It was held at Chalcedon in October 451. Papal legates presided.
The Council of Chalcedon in 451 condemned Eutyches, accepted the Tome (Epistle of Pope Leo I:DS 290-95). When the letter of Pope Leo was read, the Bishops replied: "This is the faith of the Fathers, this is the faith of the Apostles. We all believe thus... . Anathema to him who does not so believe. Peter has spoken through Leo."
Chalcedon defined: "one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only Son, in two natures, without confusion, without transformation, without division, without separation. Cf DS 300-02.
j) Monothelitism: The teaching that there was but one will in Christ, so that His humanity would lack a will. It developed in the 7th century in the Byzantine Empire in a move to try to reconcile the Monophysites. It arose in the circle of Sergius Patriarch of Constantinople. Actually, because of the political character, not all Monothelites explained their ideas in the same way.
It was really excluded in advance by the Tome of Leo I which said ( DS 294): "Each form [human and divine] does what is proper to it." The third Council of Constantinople (DS 556) in 681 defined there was also a human will in Christ, self-moving, but always obeying the divine will, since the human will was "owned" by the divine will.
Sergius liked to speak of "one energy" or "one mode of operation" in Christ. This was really ambiguous for it could mean either that there was never a conflict of human and divine wills in Jesus, or, that there was no human will at all in Jesus.
Pope Honorius seemed not to fully grasp the maneuverings of Sergius. As a result, in 634 he wrote two letters (DS 487-88) to Sergius that were not heretical, but ambiguous. Pope John IV in 641 wrote to Emperor Constantius II defending Honorius from a charge of heresy (DS 496-98). He said Honorius just meant there were not two contrary wills in Christ.
But in spite of the words of John IV, the Council of Constantinople in 681 (DS 550-59) wanted to call Pope Honorius a heretic. Pope Agatho was on the verge of approving that false teaching. But God took care: Pope Agatho died before the conclusion of the Council. The next Pope, Leo II sharply criticized Pope Honorius but did not charge him with heresy. He wrote (DS 561-63): "Pope Honorius... failed to add luster to this Apostolic Church by teaching the Apostolic tradition, but on the contrary, permitted the spotless [faith] to be defiled."