Prof. Jaroslav Skira (Regis College) - Trinity & Church to 1054AD Syllabus



Note: The full electronic versions of most of the texts can be found at Early Church Fathers (CCEL). These readings are adapted from the translations found at this site.

Week 10. Christology Unfolds and the Eastern Schisms (431-500):
Ephesus (431); Cyril; Leo the Great; Chalcedon (451); the Assyrian and Oriental Orthodox churches.

- Photocopies handed out in class.

Study Guidelines / Questions:
Review the questions from the previous weeks. By now, you should have appropriated the methodology used in analyzing the texts for their Triadology.


Familiarize yourself with this modern map of the Middle East, and compare it to the historical map you received with the course syllabus. Look also at this satellite map and read the commentary. It is very important that you get a sense of modern and ancient geography---it will help you contextualize the geographical spread of Christianity in the East. This will also be useful for the next weeks when we describe the rise of Islam.

OPTIONAL: Archeology: Take a look at this ancient world map of Ephesus. Click on the map of Turkey, then click on Ephesus. A window will pop up, and on the bottom left-hand corner will appear a legend map. Click on the area to the left of "Church" and a virtual tour of the ruins will begin. Clicking on the coloured dots will load a panoramic video. You can then "move around" in the video to see what is around you (you can also zoom in and out of each shot). (Hint: You navigate in the video by placing the mouse cursor over the video window, and hold down the left mouse key to "drag" you left or right. You need a high-speed internet connection for this].


John Chrysostom (c.344-407)

Homily 11 - On the Gospel of John

"And the Word was made Flesh," [John said], "and dwelt among us."

1. Having declared that they who received him were "born of God," and had become "sons of God," he adds the cause and reason of this unspeakable honour. It is that "the Word became Flesh," that the Master took on him the form of a servant. For he became Son of man, who was God's own Son, in order that he might make the children of humanity to be the children of God. For the high when it associates with the low touches not at all its own honour, while it raises up the other from its excessive lowness; and even thus it was with the Lord. He in nothing diminished His own Nature by this condescension [kenosis], but raised us, who had always sat in disgrace and darkness, to glory unspeakable. Thus it may be, a king, conversing with interest and kindness with a poor mean man, does not at all shame himself, yet makes the other observed by all and illustrious. Now if in the case of the adventitious dignity of humans, intercourse with the humbler person in nothing injuries the more honourable, much less can it do so in the case of that simple and blessed Essence which has nothing adventitious, or subject to growth or decay, but has all good things immovable, and fixed for ever. So that when you hear that "the Word became Flesh," be not disturbed nor cast down, for that Essence did not change to flesh, (it is impiety to imagine this,) but continuing what it is, it so took upon it the form of a servant.

2. Wherefore then does he use the expression, "was made"? To stop the mouths of the heretics. For since there are some who say that all the circumstances of the Dispensation [economy] were an appearance, a piece of acting, an allegory, at once to remove beforehand their blasphemy, he has put "was made"; desiring to show thereby not a change of substance, (away with the thought,) but the assumption of very flesh. For as when (Paul) says, "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us," he does not mean that His essence removing from Its proper glory took upon it the being of an accused thing, (this not even devils could imagine, nor even the very foolish, nor those deprived of their natural understanding, such impiety as well as madness does it contain,) as (St. Paul) does not say this, but that he, taking upon himself the curse pronounced against us, leaves us no more under the curse; so also here he [St. John] says that he "was made Flesh," not by changing His Essence to flesh, but by taking flesh to himself, His Essence remained untouched.

3. If they say that being God, he is Omnipotent, so that he could lower himself to the substance of flesh, we will reply to them, that he is Omnipotent as long as he continues to be God. But if he admit of change, change for the worse, how could he be God? for change is far from that simple Nature. Wherefore the Prophet said, "They all shall wax old as does a garment, and as a vesture shall you roll them up, and they shall be changed; but you are the same, and your years shall not fail." [Ps 102.27 LXX.] For that Essence is superior to all change. There is nothing better than he, to which he might advance and reach. Better do I say? No, nor equal to, nor the least approaching him. It remains, therefore, that if he change, he must admit a change for the worse; and this would not be God. But let the blasphemy return upon the heads of those who utter it. Nay, to show that he uses the expression,'" was made" only that you should not suppose a mere appearance, hear from what follows how he clears the argument, and overthrows that wicked suggestion. For what does he add? "And dwelt among us." All but saying, "Imagine nothing improper from the word 'was made'; I spoke not of any change of that unchangeable Nature, but of Its dwelling and in habiting. But that which dwells cannot be the same with that in which it dwells, but different; one thing dwells in a different thing, otherwise it would not be dwelling; for nothing can inhabit itself. I mean, different as to essence; for by an union, and conjoining God the Word and the Flesh are One, not by any confusion or obliteration of substances, but by a certain ineffable union ... .

4. What then was the tabernacle in which he dwelt? Hear the Prophet say; "I will raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen" (Amos 9.11.). It was fallen indeed, our nature had fallen an incurable fall, and needed only that mighty Hand. There was no possibility of raising it again, had not he who fashioned it at first stretched forth to it His Hand, and stamped it mew with His Image, by the regeneration of water and the Spirit. And observe I pray you, the awful and ineffable nature of the mystery. He inhabits this tabernacle for ever, for he clothed himself with our flesh, not as again to leave it, but always to have it with him. Had not this been the case, he would not have deemed it worthy of the royal throne, nor would he while wearing it have been worshipped by all the host of heaven, angels archangel, thrones, principalities, dominions, powers. What word, what though can represent such great honour done to our race, so truly marvellous and awful? What angel what archangel? Not one in any place, whether in heaven, or upon earth. For such are the mighty works of God, so great and marvellous are His benefits, that a right description of them exceeds not only the tongue of men, but even the power of angels.

5. Wherefore we will for a while dose our discourse, and be silent; only delivering to you this charge, that you repay this our so great Benefactor by a return which again shall bring round to us all profit. The return is, that we look with all carefulness to the state of our souls. For this too is the work of His loving-kindness, that he who stands in no need of anything of ours says that he is repaid when we take care of our own souls. It is therefore an act of extremist folly, and one deserving ten thousand chastisements, if we, when such honour has been lavished upon us, will not even contribute what we can, and that too when profit comes round to us again by these means, and ten thousand blessings are laid before us on these conditions. For all these things let us returns glory to our merciful God, not by words only, but much more by works that we may obtain the good things hereafter, which may it be that we all attain to, through the grace and loving-kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Spirit, be glory for ever and ever. Amen.


Nestorius (c.?-451)

Nestorius' Sermon Against the Theotokos

a. The human race was adorned with ten thousand gifts when it was dignified by a gift which was furthest away and nearest to hand—the Lord's incarnation. Humanity is the image of the divine nature; but the devil overthrew this image and cast it down into incorruption, and God grieved over this image as a king might grieve over his statue, and renewed the likeness. Without male seed, he fashioned from the Virgin a nature like Adam's (who was himself formed without male seed) and through a human being brought about the revival of the human race. "Since," Paul says, "death came through a human being, through a human being also came the resurrection of the dead" [1 Cor 15.21].

b. Let those people pay attention to these words [of Paul], I mean those who, as we know have learned, are always inquiring among us now this way and now that: "Is Mary Theotokos," they say (that is, the bearer or mother of God), "or is she on the contrary anthropotokos" (that is, the bearer or mother of a human being)?

c. Does God have a mother? ... Is Paul then a liar when he says of the deity of Christ, "without father, without mother, without genealogy" [Heb 7.3]? Mary, my friend, did not give birth to the Godhead ... . A creature did not produce he who is uncreatable. The Father has not just recently generated God the Logos from the Virgin (for in the "beginning was the Logos" as John says). A creature did not produce the Creator, rather she gave birth to the human being, the instrument of the Godhead. The Holy Spirit did not create God the Logos (for what is "born of her is of the Holy Spirit" [Mt 1.20]). Rather, the Spirit formed out of the Virgin a temple for God the Logos, a temple in which he dwelt.

d. Moreover, the incarnate God did not die; he raised up the one in whom he was incarnate. ... God saw the ruined nature, and the power of the Godhead took hold of it in its shattered state. God held on to it while himself remaining what he had been, and lifted it up high. ... Paul recounts all at once everything which happened, and the [divine] being has become incarnate and that the immutability of the incarnate deity is always maintained after the union.


Nestorius' Reply to the Second Letter of Cyril

a. So if it seems right, examine what was said more closely [at Nicea], and you will discover that the divine chorus of the Fathers did not say that the coessential Godhead is passible or that the Godhead which is coeternal with the Father has only just been born, or that he who has raised up the temple which was destroyed has [himself] risen. ...

b. "We also believe," [Nicea] said, "in our Lord Jesus Christ, his only-begotten Son." Observe how first of all they establish, as foundations, the titles which are common to the deity and the humanity—"Lord" and "Jesus" and "Christ" and "Only-begotten" and "Son"—and then build upon them the teaching about his becoming human and his passion and resurrection, or order, since the titles which signify and are common to both natures are set in the foreground, the things which pertain to the sonship and lordship are not divided and the things peculiar to the natures within the unitary sonship do not get endangered by the suggestion of a confusion.

c. Paul was himself the instructor in this matter. He refers to the divine act of becoming human, and since he is about to add mention of the passion, he first posits the title Christ, the title which as I said earlier, is common to the two natures, and then introduces words that are appropriate to the two natures. What does he say? "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who being in the form of God, did not think equality with God something to be snatched at, but [...] became obedient to death, even death on the Cross" [Phil 2.5-8]. Since he was about to recall the death, lest anyone for that reason suppose that the Logos is passible, he inserts the word "Christ" because it is the term which signifies the impassible and the passible in one unitary person, with the result that Christ is without risk called both passible and impassible—impassible in the Godhead and passible in the nature of the body.

d. ... Everywhere in Scripture, whenever mention is made of the saving dispensation of the Lord, what is conveyed to us is the birth and suffering not of the deity but of the humanity of Christ, so that by a more exact manner of speech the holy Virgin is called Mother of Christ [Christotokos], and not Mother of God [Theotokos]. ... [One may read in the Scriptures] thousand of other statements warning the human race not to think that the deity of the Son is a new thing, or susceptible to bodily passion, but rather the flesh which is united to the nature of the Godhead.

e. That is why Christ calls himself both Lord and son of David. He says, "What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?" They say to him, "David's." Jesus answered and said to them, "How then does David, speaking in the Spirit, call him Lord, saying, 'The Lord said to my Lord, "Sit on my right hand."'" [Mat 22.42-44]. Because he is entirely the son of David according to the flesh but Lord according to the deity. The body therefore is the temple of the Son's deity, and a temple united to it by a complete and divine conjunction, so that the nature of the deity associates itself with the things belonging to the body, and the body is acknowledged to be noble and worthy of the wonders related in the Gospels.


Cyril of Alexandria (c.376?-444)

The Epistle of Cyril to Nestorius (with the 12 Anathemas)

1. When our Saviour says clearly: "He that loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me," what is to become of us, from whom your Holiness requires that we love you more than Christ the Saviour of us all? Who can help us in the day of judgment, or what kind of excuse shall we find for thus keeping silence so long, with regard to the blasphemies made by you against him? If you injured yourself alone, by teaching and holding such things, perhaps it would be less matter; but you have greatly scandalized the whole Church, and have cast among the people the leaven of a strange and new heresy. And not to those there [i.e. at Constantinople] only; but also to those everywhere [your letters were sent]. How can we any longer, under these circumstances, make a defence for our silence, or how shall we not be forced to remember that Christ said: "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother." For if faith be injured, let there be lost the honour due to parents, as stale and tottering, let even the law of tender love towards children and brothers be silenced, let death be better to the pious than living; "that they might obtain a better resurrection," as it is written.

2. Behold, therefore, how we, together with the holy synod which met in great Rome, presided over by the most holy and most reverend brother and fellow-minister, Celestine the Bishop, also testify by this third letter to you, and counsel you to abstain from these mischievous and distorted dogmas, which you hold and teach, and to receive the right faith, handed down to the churches from the beginning through the holy Apostles and Evangelists, who "were eye-witnesses, and ministers of the Word." And if your holiness has not a mind to this according to the limits defined in the writings of our brother of blessed memory and most reverend fellow-minister Celestine, Bishop of the Church of Rome, be well assured then that you have no lot with us, nor place or standing among the priests and bishops of God. For it is not possible for us to overlook the churches thus troubled, and the people scandalized, and the right faith set aside, and the sheep scattered by you, who ought to save them, if indeed we are ourselves adherents of the right faith, and followers of the devotion of the holy fathers. And we are in communion with all those laymen and clergymen cast out or deposed by your holiness on account of the faith; for it is not right that those, who resolved to believe rightly, should suffer by your choice; for they do well in opposing you. This very thing you have mentioned in your epistle written to our most holy and fellow-bishop Celestine of great Rome.

3. But it would not be sufficient for your reverence to confess with us only the symbol of the faith set out some time ago by the Holy Spirit at the great and holy synod convened in Nicea: for you have not held and interpreted it rightly, but rather perversely; even though you confess with your voice the form of words. But in addition, in writing and by oath, you must confess that you also anathematize those polluted and unholy dogmas of yours, and that you will hold and teach that which we all, bishops, teachers, and leaders of the people both East and West, hold. The holy synod of Rome and we all agreed on the epistle written to your Holiness from the Alexandrian Church as being right and blameless. We have added to these our own letters and that which it is necessary for you to hold and teach, and what you should be careful to avoid. Now this is the Faith of the Catholic and Apostolic Church to which all Orthodox Bishops, both East and West, agree:

4. "We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible, and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son of God, begotten of his Father, that is, of the substance of the Father; God of God, Light of Light, Very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made, both those in heaven and those in the earth. Who for us men and for our salvation, came down, and was incarnate, and was made man. He suffered, and rose again the third day. He ascended into the heavens, from thence he shall come to judge both the living and tile dead. And in the Holy Spirit: But those that say, There was a time when he was not, and, before he was begotten he was not, and that he was made of that which previously was not, or that he was of some other substance or essence; and that the Son of God was capable of change or alteration; those the Catholic and Apostolic Church anathematizes."

5. Following in all points the confessions of the Holy Fathers which they made (the Holy Spirit speaking in them), and following the scope of their opinions, and going, as it were, in the royal way, we confess that the Only begotten Word of God, begotten of the same substance of the Father, True God from True God, Light from Light, through Whom all things were made, the things in heaven and the things in the earth, coming down for our salvation, making himself of no reputation, was incarnate and made man; that is, taking flesh of the holy Virgin, and having made it his own from the womb, he subjected himself to birth for us, and came forth man from a woman, without casting off that which he was; but although he assumed flesh and blood, he remained what he was, God in essence and in truth. Neither do we say that his flesh was changed into the nature of divinity, nor that the ineffable nature of the Word of God has laid aside for the nature of flesh; for he is unchanged and absolutely unchangeable, being the same always, according to the Scriptures. For although visible and a child in swaddling clothes, and even in the bosom of his Virgin Mother, he filled all creation as God, and was a fellow-ruler with him who begat him, for the Godhead is without quantity and dimension, and cannot have limits.

6. Confessing the Word to be made one with the flesh according to substance, we adore one Son and Lord Jesus Christ: we do not divide the God from the man, nor separate him into parts, as though the two natures were mutually united in him only through a sharing of dignity and authority (for that is a novelty and nothing else), neither do we give separately to the Word of God the name Christ and the same name separately to a different one born of a woman; but we know only one Christ, the Word from God the Father with his own Flesh. For as man he was anointed with us, although it is he himself who gives the Spirit to those who are worthy and not in measure, according to the saying of the blessed Evangelist John.

7. But we do not say that the Word of God dwelt in him as in a common man born of the holy Virgin, lest Christ be thought of as a God-bearing man; for although the Word tabernacled among us, it is also said that in Christ "dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily"; but we understand that be became flesh, not just as he is said to dwell in the saints, but we define that that tabernacling in him was according to equality. But being made one and not converted into flesh, he made his indwelling in such a way, as we may say that the soul of man does in his own body.

8. One therefore is Christ both Son and Lord, not as if a man had attained only such a conjunction with God as consists in a unity of dignity alone or of authority. For it is not equality of honour which unites natures; for then Peter and John, who were of equal honour with each other, being both Apostles and holy disciples [would have been one, and], yet the two are not one. Neither do we understand the manner of conjunction to be apposition, for this does not suffice for natural oneness. Nor yet according to relative participation, as we are also joined to the Lord, as it is written "we are one Spirit in him." Rather we deprecate the term of "junction" [or "conjoining"] as not having sufficiently signified the oneness. But we do not call the Word of God the Father, the God nor the Lord of Christ, less we openly cut in two the one Christ, the Son and Lord, and fall under the charge of blasphemy, making him the God and Lord of himself. For the Word of God, as we have said already, was made hypostatically one in flesh, yet he is God of all and he rules all; but he is not the slave of himself, nor his own Lord. For it is foolish, or rather impious, to think or teach thus. For he said that God was his Father, although he was God by nature, and of his substance. Yet we are not ignorant that while he remained God, he also became man and subject to God, according to the law suitable to the nature of the manhood. But how could he become the God or Lord of himself? Consequently as man, and with regard to the measure of his humiliation, it is said that he is equally with us subject to God; thus he became under the Law, although as God he spake the Law and was the Law-giver.

9. We are careful also how we say about Christ: "I worship the one clothed on account of the one clothing him, and on account of the unseen, I worship the seen." It is horrible to say in this connection as follows: "The assumed as well as the assuming have the name of God." For the saying of this divides again Christ into two, and puts the man separately by himself and God also by himself. For this saying denies openly the Unity according to which one is not worshipped in the other, nor does God exist together with the other; but Jesus Christ is considered as One, the Only-begotten Son, to be honoured with one adoration together with his own flesh.

10. We confess that he is the Son, begotten of God the Father, and Only-begotten God; and although according to his own nature he was not subject to suffering, yet he suffered for us in the flesh according to the Scriptures, and although impassible, yet in his Crucified Body he made his own the sufferings of his own flesh; and by the grace of God he tasted death for all: he gave his own Body thereto, although he was by nature himself the life and the resurrection, in order that, having trodden down death by his unspeakable power, first in his own flesh, he might become the first born from the dead, and the first-fruits of them that slept. And that he might make a way for the nature of man to attain incorruption, by the grace of God (as we just now said), he tasted death for every man, and after three days rose again, having despoiled hell. So although it is said that the resurrection of the dead was through man, yet we understand that man to have been the Word of God, and the power of death was loosed through him, and he shall come in the fulness of time as the One Son and Lord, in the glory of the Father, in order to judge the world in righteousness, as it is written.

11. We will necessarily add this also. Proclaiming the death, according to the flesh, of the Only-begotten Son of God, that is Jesus Christ, confessing his resurrection from the dead, and his ascension into heaven, we offer the Unbloody Sacrifice in the churches, and so go on to the mystical thanksgivings, and are sanctified, having received his Holy Flesh and the Precious Blood of Christ the Saviour of us all. And not as common flesh do we receive it; God forbid: nor as of a man sanctified and associated with the Word according to the unity of worth, or as having a divine indwelling, but as truly the Life-giving and very flesh of the Word himself. For he is the Life according to his nature as God, and when he became united to his Flesh, he made it also to be Life-giving, as also he said to us: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood." For we must not think that it is flesh of a man like us (for how can the flesh of man be life-giving by its own nature?) but as having become truly the very own of him who for us both became and was called Son of Man. Besides, what the Gospels say our Saviour said of himself, we do not divide between two hypostaseis or persons [prosopa]. For neither is he, the one and only Christ, to be thought of as double, although of two and diverse, yet he has joined them in an indivisible union, just as everyone knows a man is not double although made up of soul and body, but is one of both. Wherefore when thinking rightly, we transfer the human and the divine to the same person.

12. a. For when as God he speaks about himself: "He who has seen me has seen the Father," and "I and my Father are one," we consider his ineffable divine nature according to which he is One with his Father through the identity of essence—"The image and impress and brightness of his glory." But when not scorning the measure of his humanity, he said: "But now you seek to kill me, a man that has told you the truth." Again no less than before we recognize that he is the Word of God from his identity and likeness to the Father and from the circumstances of his humanity. For if it is necessary to believe that being by nature God, he became flesh, that is, a man endowed with a reasonable soul, what reason can certain ones have to be ashamed of this language about him, which is suitable to him as man? For if he should reject the words suitable to him as man, who compelled him to become man like us? And as he humbled himself to a voluntary abasement for us, for what cause can any one reject the words suitable to such abasement?

b. Therefore all the words which are read in the Gospels are to be applied to One Person [prosopon], to one hypostasis of the Word incarnate. For the Lord Jesus Christ is one, according to the Scriptures, although he is called "the Apostle and High Priest of our profession," as offering to God and the Father the confession of faith which we make to him, and through him to God even the Father and also to the Holy Spirit; yet we say he is, according to nature, the Only-begotten of God. And not to any man different from him do we assign the name of priesthood, and the thing, for be became "the Mediator between God and men," and a Reconciler unto peace, having offered himself as a sweet smelling savour to God and the Father. Therefore also he said: "Sacrifice and offering you would not; but a body you have prepared for me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin you have had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me) to do your will, O God." For on account of us he offered his body as a sweet smelling savour, and not for himself; for what offering or sacrifice was needed for himself, who as God existed above all sins? For "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God," so that we became prone to fall, and the nature of man has fallen into sin, yet not so he (and therefore we fall short of his glory).

c. How then can there be further doubt that the true Lamb died for us and on our account? And to say that he offered himself for himself and us, could in no way escape the charge of impiety. For he never committed a fault at all, neither did he sin. What offering then did he need, not having sin for which sacrifices are rightly offered? But when he spoke about the Spirit, he said: "He shall glorify me." If we think rightly, we do not say that the one Christ and Son as needing glory from another received glory from the Holy Spirit; for neither greater than he nor above him is his Spirit, but because he used the Holy Spirit to show forth his own divinity in his mighty works, therefore he is said to have been glorified by him just as if any one of us should say concerning his inherent strength, for example, or his knowledge of anything, "They glorified me."For although the Spirit is the same essence, yet we think of it by itself, as it is the Spirit and not the Son; but it is not different from him; for it is called the Spirit of Truth and Christ is the Truth, and it is sent by him, just as, moreover, it is from God and the Father. When then the Spirit worked miracles through the hands of the holy apostles after the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ into heaven, it glorified him. For it is believed that he who works through his own Spirit is God according to nature. Therefore he said: "He shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you." But we do not say this as if the Spirit is wise and powerful through some sharing with another; for it is all perfect and in need of no good thing. Since, therefore, he is the Spirit of the Power and Wisdom of the Father (that is, of the Son), he is evidently Wisdom and Power.

13. And since the holy Virgin brought forth corporally God made one with flesh according to nature, for this reason we also call her Mother of God, not as if the nature of the Word had the beginning of its existence from the flesh.

14. For "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God, and the Word was with God," and he is the Maker of the ages, coeternal with the Father, and Creator of all; but, as we have already said, since he united to himself hypostatically human nature from her womb, also he subjected himself to birth as man, not as needing necessarily in his own nature birth in time and in these last times of the world, but in order that he might bless the beginning of our existence, and that which sent the earthly bodies of our whole race to death, might lose its power for the future by his being born of a woman in the flesh. And this: "In sorrow you shall bring forth children,"being removed through him, he showed the truth of that spoken by the prophet, "Death swallowed them up, and again God has wiped away every tear from off all faces." For this cause also we say that he attended, having been called, and also blessed, the marriage in Cana of Galilee, with his holy Apostles in accordance with the economy. We have been taught to hold these things by the holy Apostles and Evangelists, and all the God-inspired Scriptures, and in the true confessions of the blessed Fathers.


The Anathemas of Cyril in Opposition to Nestorius

1. If any one refuses to confess that the Emmanuel is in truth God, and therefore that the holy Virgin is Mother of God, for she gave birth after a fleshly manner to the Word of God made flesh; let him be anathema.

2. If any one refuses to confess that the Word of God the Father is united in hypostasis to flesh, and is one Christ with his own flesh, the same being at once both God and man, let him be anathema.

3. If any one in the case of the one Christ divides the hypostaseis after the union, conjoining them by the conjunction alone which is according to dignity, independence, or prerogative, and not rather by the concurrence which is according to natural union, let him be anathema.

4. If any one divides between two persons or hypostaseis the expressions used in the writings of evangelists and apostles, whether spoken by the saints of Christ or by him about himself, and applies the one as to a man considered properly apart from the Word of God, and the others as appropriate to the divine and the Word of God the Father alone, let him be anathema.

5. If any one dares to maintain that the Christ is man bearing God, and not rather that he is God in truth, and one Son, and by nature, according as the Word was made flesh, and shared blood and flesh in like manner with ourselves, let him be anathema.

6. If any one dares to maintain that the Word of God the Father was God or Lord of the Christ, and does not rather confess that the same was at once both God and man, the Word being made flesh according to the Scriptures, let him be anathema.

7. If any one says that Jesus was energized as man by God the Word, and that he was invested with the glory of the only begotten as being another beside him, let him be anathema.

8. If any one dares to maintain that the ascended man ought to be worshipped together with the divine Word, and be glorified with him, and with him be called God as one with another, and does not rather in one act of worship honour the Emmanuel and praise him in one doxology, in that he is the Word made flesh, let him be anathema.

9. If any one says that the one Lord Jesus Christ is glorified by the Spirit, using the power that works through him as a foreign power, and receiving from him the ability to operate against unclean spirits, and to complete his miracles among men; and does not rather say that the Spirit is his own, whereby also he wrought his miracles, let him be anathema.

10. Holy Scripture states that Christ is High Priest and Apostle of our confession, and offered himself on our behalf for a sweet-smelling savour to God and our Father. If, then, any one says that he, the Word of God, was not made our High Priest and Apostle when he was made flesh and man after our manner; but as being another, other than himself, properly man made of a woman; or if any one says that he offered the offering on his own behalf, and not rather on our behalf alone; for he that knew no sin would not have needed an offering, let him be anathema.

11. If any one confesses not that the Lord's flesh is giver of life, and proper to the Word of God himself, but [states] that it is of another than him, united indeed to him in dignity, yet as only possessing a divine indwelling; and not rather, as we said, giver of life, because it is proper to the Word of him who has might to engender all things alive, let him be anathema.

12. If any one confesses not that the Word of God suffered in flesh, and was crucified in flesh, and tasted death in flesh, and was made firstborn of the dead, in so far as he is life and giver of life, as God, let him be anathema.


Leo the Great (fl.c 440-461)

Letter 28: To Flavian ["The Tome of Leo"]

1. Having read your letter, beloved, at the late arrival of which we are surprised, and having perused the detailed account of the bishops' acts, we have at last found out what the scandal was which had arisen among you against the purity of the Faith: and what before seemed concealed has now been unlocked and laid open to our view: from which it is shown that Eutyches, who used to seem worthy of all respect in virtue of his priestly office, is very unwary and exceedingly ignorant, so that it is even of him that the prophet has said: "he refused to understand so as to do well: he thought upon iniquity in his bed." But what more iniquitous than to hold blasphemous opinions, and not to give way to those who are wiser and more learned than yourself. Now into this unwisdom fall they who, finding themselves hindered from knowing the truth by some obscurity, have recourse not to the prophets' utterances, not to the Apostles' letters, nor to the injunctions of the Gospel but to their own selves: and thus they stand out as masters of error because they were never disciples of truth. For what learning has he acquired about the pages of the New and Old Testament, who has not even grasped the rudiments of the Creed? And that which, throughout the world, is professed by the mouth of every one who is to be born again, is not yet taken in by the heart of this old man.

2. Not knowing, therefore, what he was bound to think concerning the incarnation of the Word of God, and not wishing to gain the light of knowledge by researches through the length and breadth of the Holy Scriptures, he might at least have listened attentively to that general and uniform confession, whereby the whole body of the faithful confess that they believe in God the Father Almighty, and in Jesus Christ, God's only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary. By which three statements the devices of almost all heretics are overthrown. For not only is God believed to be both Almighty and the Father, but the Son is shown to be co-eternal with Him, differing in nothing from the Father because he is God from God, Almighty from Almighty, and being born from the Eternal one is co-eternal with God; not later in point of time, not lower in power, not unlike in glory, not divided in essence: but at the same time the only begotten of the eternal Father was born eternal of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary. And this nativity which took place in time took nothing from, and added nothing to that divine and eternal birth, but expended itself wholly on the restoration of man who had been deceived: in order that he might both vanquish death and overthrow by his strength, the devil who possessed the power of death. For we should not now be able to overcome the author of sin and death unless he took our nature on him and made it his own, whom neither sin could pollute nor death retain. Doubtless then, he was conceived of the Holy Spirit within the womb of his Virgin Mother, who brought him forth without the loss of her virginity, even as she conceived him without its loss.

3. But if he could not draw a rightful understanding [of the matter] from this pure source of the Christian belief, because he had darkened the brightness of the clear truth by a veil of blindness peculiar to himself, he might have submitted himself to the teaching of the Gospels. And when Matthew speaks of "the book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham," he might have also sought out the instruction afforded by the statements of the apostles. And reading in the epistle to the romans, "Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called an apostle, separated unto the Gospel of god, which he had promised before by his prophets in the Holy Scripture concerning God's Son, who was made ... of the seed of David after the flesh," he might have bestowed a loyal carefulness upon the pages of the prophets. And finding the promise of God who says to Abraham, "In thy seed shall all nations be blest," to avoid all doubt as to the reference of this seed, he might have followed the Apostle when he says, "To Abraham were the promises made and to his seed. He said not and to seeds, as if in many, but as it in one, and to thy seed which is Christ's."

4. Isaiah's prophecy also he might have grasped by a closer attention to what he says, "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a Son and they shall call his name Emmanuel," which is interpreted "God with us." And the same prophet's words he might have read faithfully. "A child is born to us, a Son is given to us, whose power is upon his shoulder, and they shall call his name the Angel of the Great Counsel, Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Prince of Peace, the Father of the age to come." And then he would not speak so erroneously as to say that the Word became flesh in such a way that Christ, born of the Virgin's womb, had the form of man, but had not the reality of his mother's body. Or is it possible that he thought our Lord Jesus Christ was not of our nature for this reason, that the angel, who was sent to the blessed Mary ever Virgin, says, "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee: and therefore that Holy Thing also that shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God," on the supposition that as the conception of the Virgin was a Divine act, the flesh of the conceived did not partake of the conceiver's nature? But that birth so uniquely wondrous and so wondrously unique, is not to be understood in such wise that the properties of his kind were removed through the novelty of his creation. For though the Holy Spirit imparted fertility to the Virgin, yet a real body was received from her body; and, "Wisdom building her a house," "the Word became flesh and dwelt in us," that is, in that flesh which he took from man and which he quickened with the breath of a higher life.

5. Without detriment therefore to the properties of either nature and substance which then came together in one person, majesty took on humility, strength weakness, eternity mortality: and for the paying off of the debt belonging to our condition inviolable nature was united with possible nature, so that, as suited the needs of our case, one and the same Mediator between God and humanity, the human [incarnate] Christ Jesus, could both die with the one and not die with the other. Thus in the whole and perfect nature of a true human was true God born, complete in what was his own, complete in what was ours. And by "ours" we mean what the Creator formed in us from the beginning and what he undertook to repair. For what the deceiver brought in and man deceived committed, had no trace in the Saviour. Nor, because he partook of man's weaknesses, did he therefore share our faults. He took the form of a slave without stain of sin, increasing the human and not diminishing the divine: because that emptying of himself whereby the invisible made himself visible and, Creator and Lord of all things though he be, wished to be a mortal, was the bending down of pity, not the failing of power.

6. Accordingly he who while remaining in the form of God made human, was also made human in the form of a slave. For both natures retain their own proper character without loss: and as the form of God did not do away with the form of a slave, so the form of a slave did not impair the form of God. For inasmuch as the devil used to boast that man had been cheated by his guile into losing the divine gifts, and bereft of the gift of immortality had undergone sentence of death, and that he had found some solace in his troubles from having a partner in delinquency, and that God also at the demand of the principle of justice had changed his own purpose towards man whom he had created in such honour: there was need for the issue of a secret counsel, that the unchangeable God whose will cannot be robbed of its own kindness, might carry out the first design of his fatherly care towards us by a more hidden mystery; and that man who had been driven into his fault by the treacherous cunning of the devil might not perish contrary to the purpose of God.

7. There enters then these lower parts of the world the Son of God, descending from his heavenly home and yet not quitting his Father's glory, begotten in a new order by a new nativity. In a new order, because being invisible in his own nature, he became visible in ours, and he whom nothing could contain was content to be contained: abiding before all time he began to be in time: the Lord of all things, he obscured his immeasurable majesty and took on Him the form of a servant: being God that cannot suffer, he did not disdain to be man that can, and, immortal as he is, to subject himself to the laws of death. The Lord assumed his mother's nature without her faultiness: nor in the Lord Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin's womb, does the wonderfulness of his birth make his nature unlike ours. For he who is true God is also true man: and in this union there is no lie, since the humility of manhood and the loftiness of the Godhead both meet there. For as God is not changed by the showing of pity, so man is not swallowed up by the dignity. For each form does what is proper to it with the co-operation of the other; that is the Word performing what appertains to the Word, and the flesh carrying out what appertains to the flesh. One of them sparkles with miracles, the other succumbs to injuries. And as the Word does not cease to be on an equality with his Father's glory, so the flesh does not forego the nature of our race. For it must again and again be repeated that one and the same is truly Son of God and truly son of man. God in that "in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God;" man in that "the Word became flesh and dwelt in us." God in that "all things were made by Him, and without Him was nothing made:" man in that "he was made of a woman, made under law."

8. The nativity of the flesh was the manifestation of human nature: the childbearing of a virgin is the proof of divine power. The infancy of a babe is shown in the humbleness of its cradle: the greatness of the Most High is proclaimed by the angels' voices. He whom Herod treacherously endeavours to destroy is like ourselves in our earliest stage: but whom the Magi delight to worship on their knees is the Lord of all. So too when he came to the baptism of John, his forerunner, lest he should not be known through the veil of flesh which covered his Divinity, the Father's voice thundering from the sky, said, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." And thus him whom the devil's craftiness attacks as man, the ministries of angels serve as God. To be hungry and thirsty, to be weary, and to sleep, is clearly human: but to satisfy 5,000 men with five loaves, and to bestow on the woman of Samaria living water, droughts of which can secure the drinker from thirsting any more, to walk upon the surface of the sea with feet that do not sink, and to quell the risings of the waves by rebuking the winds, is, without any doubt, divine. Just as therefore, to pass over many other instances, it is not part of the same nature to be moved to tears of pity for a dead friend, and when the stone that closed the four-days' grave was removed, to raise that same friend to life with a voice of command: or, to hang on the cross, and turning day to night, to make all the elements tremble: or, to be pierced with nails, and yet open the gates of paradise to the robber's faith: so it is not part of the same nature to say, "I and the Father are one," and to say, "the Father is greater than I." For although in the Lord Jesus Christ God and man is one person, yet the source of the degradation, which is shared by both, is one, and the source of the glory, which is shared by both, is another. For his manhood, which is less than the Father, comes from our side: his Godhead, which is equal to the Father, comes from the Father.

9. Therefore in consequence of this unity of person which is to be understood in both natures, we read of the Son of Man also descending from heaven, when the Son of God took flesh from the Virgin who bore him. And again the Son of God is said to have been crucified and buried, although it was not actually in his divinity whereby the Only-begotten is co-eternal and con-substantial with the Father, but in his weak human nature that he suffered these things. And so it is that in the Creed also we all confess that the Only-begotten Son of God was crucified and buried, according to that saying of the Apostle: "for if they had known, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory." But when our Lord and Saviour Himself would instruct his disciples' faith by his questioning, he said, "Whom do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?" And when they had put on record the various opinions of other people, he said, "But you, whom do you say that I am?" Me, that is, who am the Son of Man, and whom you see in the form of a slave, and in true flesh, whom do ye say that I am? Whereupon blessed Peter, whose divinely inspired confession was destined to profit all nations, said, "You are Christ, the Son of the living God." And not undeservedly was he pronounced blessed by the Lord, drawing from the chief corner-stone the solidity of power which his name also expresses, he, who, through the revelation of the Father, confessed him to be at once Christ and Son of God: because the receiving of the one of these without the other was of no avail to salvation, and it was equally perilous to have believed the Lord Jesus Christ to be either only God without man, or only man without God.

10. But after the Lord's resurrection (which, of course, was of his true body, because he was raised the same as he had died and been buried), what else was effected by the forty days' delay than the cleansing of our faith's purity from all darkness? For to that end he talked with his disciples, and dwelt and ate with them, he allowed Himself to be handled with diligent and curious touch by those who were affected by doubt, he entered when the doors were shut upon the Apostles, and by his breathing upon them gave them the Holy Spirit, and bestowing on them the light of understanding, opened the secrets of the Holy Scriptures. So again he showed the wound in his side, the marks of the nails, and all the signs of his quite recent suffering, saying, "See my hands and feet, that it is I. Handle me and see that a spirit has not flesh and bones, as you see me have;" in order that the properties of his divine and human nature might be acknowledged to remain still inseparable: and that we might know the Word not to be different from the flesh, in such a sense as also to confess that the one Son of God is both the Word and flesh.

11. Of this mystery of the faith your opponent Eutyches must be reckoned to have but little sense if he has not recognized our nature in the Only-begotten of God neither through the humiliation of his having to die, nor through the glory of his rising again. Nor has he any fear of the blessed apostle and evangelist John's declaration when he says, "every spirit which confesses Jesus Christ to have come in the flesh, is of God: and every spirit which destroys Jesus is not of God, and this is antichrist." But what is "to destroy Jesus," except to take away the human nature from Him, and to render void the mystery, by which alone we were saved, by the most barefaced fictions. The truth is that being in darkness about the nature of Christ's body, he must also be fooled by the same blindness in the matter of his sufferings. For if he does not think the cross of the Lord fictitious, and does not doubt that the punishment he underwent to save the world is likewise true, let him acknowledge the flesh of him whose death he already believes: and let him not disbelieve him man with a body like ours, since he acknowledges him to have been able to suffer: seeing that the denial of his true flesh is also the denial of his bodily suffering. If therefore he receives the Christian faith, and does not turn away his ears from the preaching of the Gospel, let him see what was the nature that hung pierced with nails on the wooden cross, and, when the side of the Crucified was opened by the soldier's spear, let him understand whence it was that blood and water flowed, that the Church of God might be watered from the font and from the cup. Let him hear also the blessed Apostle Peter, proclaiming that the sanctification of the Spirit takes place through the sprinkling of Christ's blood. And let him not read cursorily the same Apostle's words when he says, "Knowing that not with corruptible things, such as silver and gold, have ye been redeemed from your vain manner of life which is part of your fathers' tradition, but with the precious blood of Jesus Christ as of a lamb without spot and blemish." Let him not resist too the witness of the blessed Apostle John, who says: "and the blood of Jesus the Son of God cleanses us from all sin." And again: "this is the victory which overcomes the world, even our faith." And "who is he that overcomes the world save he that believes that Jesus is the Son of God. This is he that came by water and blood, Jesus Christ: not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that testifies, because the Spirit is the truth, because there are three that bear witness, the Spirit, the water and the blood, and the three are one." The Spirit, that is, of sanctification, and the blood of redemption, and the water of baptism: because the three are one, and remain undivided, and none of them is separated from this connection; because the catholic Church lives and progresses by this faith, so that in Christ Jesus neither the manhood without the true Godhead nor the Godhead without the true manhood is believed in.

12. But when during your cross-examination Eutyches replied and said, "I confess that our Lord had two natures before the union but after the union I confess but one," I am surprised that so absurd and mistaken a statement of his should not have been criticised and rebuked by his judges, and that an utterance which reaches the height of stupidity and blasphemy should be allowed to pass as if nothing offensive had been heard: for the impiety of saying that the Son of God was of two natures before his incarnation is only equalled by the iniquity of asserting that there was but one nature in him after "the Word became flesh." And to the end that Eutyches may not think this a right or defensible opinion because it was not contradicted by any expression of yourselves, we warn you beloved brother, to take anxious care that if ever through the inspiration of God's mercy the case is brought to a satisfactory conclusion, his ignorant mind be purged from this pernicious idea as well as others. He was, indeed, just beginning to beat a retreat from his erroneous conviction, as the order of proceedings shows, in so far as when hemmed in by your remonstrances he agreed to say what he had not said before and to acquiesce in that belief to which before he had been opposed. However, when he refused to give his consent to the anathematizing of his blasphemous dogma, you understood, brother, that he abode by his treachery and deserved to receive a verdict of condemnation. And yet, if he grieves over it faithfully and to good purpose, and, late though it be, acknowledges how rightly the bishops' authority has been set in motion; or if with his own mouth and hand in your presence he recants his wrong opinions, no mercy that is shown to him when penitent can be found fault with: because our Lord, that true and "good shepherd" who laid down his life for his sheep and who came to save not lose humanity's souls, wishes us to imitate his kindness; in order that while justice constrains us when we sin, mercy may prevent our rejection when we have returned. For then at last is the true faith most profitably defended when a false belief is condemned even by the supporters of it.


The Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon (451)

[Extracts from the Definition of Faith]

1. [We affirm] the Creed of the three hundred and eighteen Fathers at Nice: "We believe in one God," [reciting the Creed of Nicea].

[And we hold] the Creed of the one hundred and fifty holy Fathers who were assembled at Constantinople: "We believe in one God," [reciting the Creed of Constantinople].

2. This wise and salutary formula of divine grace sufficed for the perfect knowledge and confirmation of religion; for it teaches the perfect [doctrine] concerning Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and sets forth the Incarnation of the Lord to them that faithfully receive it. But, forasmuch as persons undertaking to make void the preaching of the truth have through their individual heresies given rise to empty babblings; some of them daring to corrupt the mystery of the Lord's incarnation for us and refusing [to use] the name Mother of God [Theotokos] in reference to the Virgin, while others, bringing in a confusion and mixture, and idly conceiving that the nature of the flesh and of the godhead is all one, maintaining that the divine nature of the Only Begotten is, by mixture, capable of suffering [passible]. Therefore this present holy, great, and ecumenical [universal] synod, desiring to exclude every device against the truth, and teaching that which is unchanged from the beginning, has at the very outset decreed that the faith of the 318 Fathers [at Nicea] shall be preserved inviolate. And on account of them that contend against the Holy Spirit, it confirms the doctrine afterwards delivered concerning the substance of the Spirit by the 150 holy Fathers who assembled in the imperial City [at Constantinople]; which doctrine they declared unto all men, not as though they were introducing anything that had been lacking in their predecessors, but in order to explain through written documents their faith concerning the Holy Spirit against those who were seeking to destroy his sovereignty.

3. And because of those who attempt to corrupt the mystery of the economy, shamelessly pretending that the one born of the holy Mary was an ordinary human being, it has received, as in agreement [with this faith], the synodical letters of the blessed Cyril [of Alexandria], ... to Nestorios and the Orientals, for the sake of refuting the follies of Nestorios and for the instruction of those who, in religious zeal, seek understanding of the saving symbol.

4. With these letters, for the confirmation of the orthodox teachings, it has appropriately included the letter which the most blessed and holy archbishop Leo [Leo's Tome]], who presides in the great and elder Rome, wrote to the holy archbishop Flavian for the removal of the error of Eutyches, for it agrees with confession of the great Peter and is a common pillar against those who think incorrectly.

5. For [this synod] sets itself against those who attempt to split up the mystery of the dispensation into a duality of sons; and those who dare assert that the deity of the Only Begotten is passible it expels from the college of priest; and it opposes those who conceive of a confusion or mixture in the case of the two natures of Christ. And it drives out those who foolishly think that the "form of a slave" which was assumed by him from among us is heavenly, or of some other essence. It also anathematizes those who make up the teaching that before the union there are two natures of the Lord, but imagine that after the union there is one.

6. Following the holy Fathers we teach with one voice that the Son [of God] and our Lord Jesus Christ is to be confessed as one and the same [Person], that he is perfect [complete] in Godhead and perfect in manhood, truly God and truly human, consisting of a rational soul and [human] body, consubstantial with the Father as to the divinity, and consubstantial with us as to the humanity; made like us in all things, except sin; begotten of his Father before the worlds according to his Godhead; but in these last days for us men and for our salvation born [into the world] of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God according to his humanity. This one and the same Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son [of God] must be confessed to be in two natures, unconfusedly, immutably, indivisibly, distinctly [the alpha-privatives: without change, confusion, separation, or admixture], since the difference of the natures is not destroyed because of the union, but on the contrary, the character of each natures is preserved and comes together in one person [prosopon] and one hypostasis, not divided nor torn into two persons, but one and the same Son and only-Begotten God, Logos, Lord Jesus Christ—just as in earlier times the prophets and also the lord Jesus Christ himself taught us about him, and the symbol [Creed] of the Fathers transmitted to us.