Brief note on Cyril of Alexandria

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timmopussycat

Puritan Board Junior
At least one discussion has dates Nestorius death at 451 (after the Council), see The Lynching of Nestorius

Yes, but that is pure speculation, and one would be very hard pressed to prove that any of Nestorius' writings were post-Chalcedon. Granted not impossible, but highly unlikely. Moreover, Nestorius was not at that Council, and it's not as though he was living in the days of electronic communication of documents and conciliar decrees.

No, but he was living in the days of the imperal postal service, which if I recall my source correctly, could in the Roman days of a century or so earlier, transmit a despatch from Rome to Palestine in well under a month. Unless you know of a substantial degredation in the imperial postal system in the east, I don't think we can presume anything substantially longer for the news of Chalcedon to spread empire wide.
 

DTK

Puritan Board Junior
No, but he was living in the days of the imperal postal service, which if I recall my source correctly, could in the Roman days of a century or so earlier, transmit a despatch from Rome to Palestine in well under a month. Unless you know of a substantial degredation in the imperial postal system in the east, I don't think we can presume anything substantially longer for the news of Chalcedon to spread empire wide.
Wow, then we can presume that dispatches flowed this flawlessly empire wide! :)

DTK
 

P.F.

Puritan Board Freshman
Timmo:

Perhaps a better measure is the speed with which the Roman bishop "ratified" Chalcedon's canons. You are doubtless aware that he did not do so until March of 453. I certainly don't think the ancient world was waiting around to see whether and to what extent the Roman bishop weighed in, but the languor of that bishop's response does not suggest that the news of Chalcedon was spread with the utmost haste.
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
Yes, but that is pure speculation, and one would be very hard pressed to prove that any of Nestorius' writings were post-Chalcedon.

Actually, the Bazaar, which I quoted, refers to events that happened at Chalcedon. Unless we're willing to say that the Bazaar is a Syriac forgery, it's implausible that he was not familiar with the proceedings of Chalcedon. As his place of exile was a monastery near Antioch, it's probable that he would have been very familiar with developments of the day.

Moreover, the language of Cyril and Nestorius was very nuanced, making both of them difficult to understand. For the most part, I'm convinced that the two of them were talking past one another, and that there was more of a personality conflict than anything at work between the two men.

Oh, I agree. I do think that in Cyril's case, he was trying to attack the Antiochene School by attacking its most prominent student. The rivalry in the east between the Antiochene and Alexandrian Schools is fairly well-documented (and, in the end, fruitful as the conflict between the two produced the Chalcedonian Creed).
 

P.F.

Puritan Board Freshman
"Actually, the Bazaar, which I quoted, refers to events that happened at Chalcedon."

Would you please provide an example? If you did earlier, I missed it.
 

timmopussycat

Puritan Board Junior
Timmo:

Perhaps a better measure is the speed with which the Roman bishop \"ratified\" Chalcedon's canons. You are doubtless aware that he did not do so until March of 453. I certainly don't think the ancient world was waiting around to see whether and to what extent the Roman bishop weighed in, but the languor of that bishop's response does not suggest that the news of Chalcedon was spread with the utmost haste.

Actually the date of Leo's response isn't a better measure of the speed with which news travelled in the Byzantine empire: the canons, specifically the
28th canon presented Leo with a major political problem as it raised Constantinople to equal status with Rome. Leo seems to have taken a while to decide how to finesse this: he eventually accepted the first 27 canons and rejected the 28th.

And it seems I have misremembered my sources. Although the Roman postal service was inherited by the Byzantines and remained as effective as it had been earlier, it would have taken slightly less than 2 months for a Rome Palestine dispatch, which means that a dispatch going out from Constantinople would reach the fringes of the Byzantine empire in about the same time. See
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cursus_publicus
for why we may legitimately assume that dispatches flowed routinely if not flawlessly empire wide at the rate of 50 miles per day.

-----Added 10/14/2009 at 06:24:08 EST-----

\"Actually, the Bazaar, which I quoted, refers to events that happened at Chalcedon.\"

Would you please provide an example? If you did earlier, I missed it.

One may find the introduction to the Bazaar online at
Nestorius, The Bazaar of Heracleides (1925) pp.iii-xxxv.* Introduction

The introduction contains the following paragraph.

"The book must have been written by Nestorius in the year 451 or 452, seeing that there are references to the death of Theodosius II in 450, and to the flight of Dioscorus of Alexandria. Dioscorus was at the Council of Chalcedon in 451, but though formally deposed by the Council in October of that year was not condemned to banishment until the following July. On the other hand, Nestorius, though speaking of the triumph of the orthodox faith of Flavian and Leo, does not seem to be aware of the formal decisions of the Council of Chalcedon. It appears, therefore, that Dioscorus must have fled when the Council decided against him, and that when Nestorius wrote he must have heard of his flight, but not of the formal decision of the Council or of the imperial decree by which sentence of exile was pronounced upon him."

If this is correct it dates N's last emendation of the Bazzar to sometime betwen mid November 451 and early 452.
 
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DTK

Puritan Board Junior
Actually, the Bazaar, which I quoted, refers to events that happened at Chalcedon. Unless we're willing to say that the Bazaar is a Syriac forgery, it's implausible that he was not familiar with the proceedings of Chalcedon. As his place of exile was a monastery near Antioch, it's probable that he would have been very familiar with developments of the day.
In his summary of the life of Nestorius, Paul Bedjan makes the point that in the Bazaar, Nestorius "knew the celebrated letter of Leo and who speaks at such length of the Robber-synod of Ephesus in 449, is silent about Marcian, silent about the Council of Chalcedon at which he was again condemned..."

Moreover, although he was permitted initially to return to the vicinity of Antioch for 4 or 5 years, he was sent on order of the emperor into exile at the Oasis, in the Thebaid, i.e., to a monastery in the Great Oasis of Hibis (al-Khargah). This was in the middle of the Libyan desert of Egypt, at the most southern oasis, so I disagree with your suggested "probability."

DTK
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
If Nestorius, although using different words, can be shown to be teaching a subtially Chalcedonian position wrt the nature of Christ, than a charge of heresy against him cannot be sustained and should not be mounted.

We seem to have leaped back into modern times again. The fact is that a charge of heresy has been substantiated against Nestorius in the times in which he lived. Our method of examining the evidence must reflect a case that has already been tried. Regrettably modern scholars come to the facts of the case as if it were still open, which results in the evaluation of evidence which was not part of the original case and the omission of evidence which was essential to the original case.

I accept that Nestorius might not have declared everything that was charged against him; hence I am only prepared to use a conditional statement concerning his apparent maintenance of "two persons." But the evidence which does exist fails to exnonerate him, and that for three reasons.

1. He denied the orthodox language of the time at the precise point where it comes to bear on orthodox Christology. "Theotokos" simply cannot be cast aside as the language of Mariolatry; it was the orthodox way of representing soteriological truth in an incarnation model of salvation; much in the same way the reformed speak of the infinite value of the atonement.

2. He used language which hints at "two persons." At times he even used the plural "prosopa." Scholars have suggested this can be explained away on the basis of Aristotelian categories of existence. That may be the case; but the fact is he used language which gave the distinct impression that Christ was two persons.

3. His overall theological concerns cannot be reconciled with the strong emphasis on union which later came to be identified with Christological orthodoxy.

Obviously it was a period of development. Cyril himself made statements which later Christology would find suspect. But history is history; we should simply read it, not revise it. Cyril was found to be within mainline orthodoxy, however closely he walked on the edge of it; and Nestorius was found to be outside the mainline. Any evaluation of the period must focus on this reality.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
We can start with the term theotokos as applied to Mary. We Protestants like to translate this as "God-bearer" when the more traditional rendering has been "Mother of God." While this may be an inaccurate translation, it was the error that Nestorius was trying to guard against because he saw the implications. He didn't reject the term outright, instead suggesting that it was prone to misinterpretation.

Matthew 1:23, "Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us."

The son brought forth by the Virgin is "God with us." The catholic tradition (including the reformed catholic tradition) takes seriously the nativity revelation of Matthew and Luke. Nestorius' failure to affirm this key element of the incarnation is bound to become a problem for anyone who undertakes to defend him.
 

timmopussycat

Puritan Board Junior
If Nestorius, although using different words, can be shown to be teaching a subtially Chalcedonian position wrt the nature of Christ, than a charge of heresy against him cannot be sustained and should not be mounted.

We seem to have leaped back into modern times again. The fact is that a charge of heresy has been substantiated against Nestorius in the times in which he lived. Our method of examining the evidence must reflect a case that has already been tried. Regrettably modern scholars come to the facts of the case as if it were still open, which results in the evaluation of evidence which was not part of the original case and the omission of evidence which was essential to the original case.

The attitude that once a theological judgment once made by the church is not capable of being revisited when prima facie views of evidence that is either not known or not presented in the original court turns up, is simply inconsistent with the stances Reformed Theology has taken elsewhere. We do not, for example, presume that we may not reexamine the Roman doctrine of the Mass because the doctrine is already established. Nor can we assume that Councils get it always right. I think it was the Bainton bio of Luther that noted that it was when Martin Luther discovered two solidly "evangelical" (his word) propositions of Hus that were condemned by the council of Constance that he showed that councils could not have final authority in the church.

Moreover on biblical standards, it is an injustice to condemn a man for a doctrine he does not hold.

If N's own writings show Chalcedonian orthodoxy wrt to the nature of Christ, his differing position concerning how to name Mary must be shown by GNC to be heresy before he can be condemned as heretical. Given the circumstances of the council that promulgated the title "theotokos" I trust you will not think it unChristian to ask, following Luther's example and the requirement of WCF 1 vi, x, for Scriptural proof that N's substitute title for Mary necessarily leads to heresy. Does anyone know where such a proof is attempted?
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
The attitude that once a theological judgment once made by the church is not capable of being revisited when prima facie views of evidence that is either not known or not presented in the original court turns up, is simply inconsistent with the stances Reformed Theology has taken elsewhere. We do not, for example, presume that we may not reexamine the Roman doctrine of the Mass because the doctrine is already established. Nor can we assume that Councils get it always right. I think it was the Bainton bio of Luther that noted that it was when Martin Luther discovered two solidly "evangelical" (his word) propositions of Hus that were condemned by the council of Constance that he showed that councils could not hae final authority in the church.

Moreover on biblical standards, it is an injustice to condemn a man for a doctrine he does not hold.

If N's own writings show Chalcedonian orthodoxy wrt to the nature of Christ, his reservations concerning how to name Mary must be shown by GNC to be heresy before he can be condemned for it. It would help if someone could set forth a place where such demonstration is attempted.

On paragraph one, you are speaking to the wrong issue. I am not denying the responsibility of the modern church to evaluate the history. I am denying the ability to revise the history. Modern evangelicals continually confound those two things, so I suppose I have to show some indulgence to your zeal for the fallibility of human councils.

On paragraph two, that is a truism, and it applies as equally to condemning a council for acting in the interests of Christian truth.

On paragraph three, good and necessary consequence only applies in a closed world of facts. It applies to the Bible because the fulness of the Bible as a revelation fom God specifically implies truths which are not expressly stated. Good and necessary consequence would be dangerous to apply to fallible and limited human statements. What we must determine is whether Nestorius' rejection of the theotokos was a rejection of an important part of Christological orthodoxy of that time. Given the incarnational model of salvation, the answer to that question is affirmative.
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
DTK said:
Moreover, although he was permitted initially to return to the vicinity of Antioch for 4 or 5 years, he was sent on order of the emperor into exile at the Oasis, in the Thebaid, i.e., to a monastery in the Great Oasis of Hibis (al-Khargah). This was in the middle of the Libyan desert of Egypt, at the most southern oasis, so I disagree with your suggested "probability."

Oops--regardless, Egypt was also a major center of Christianity, plus it was the breadbasket of the Empire. News would still have traveled fast there.

armourbearer said:
Regrettably modern scholars come to the facts of the case as if it were still open, which results in the evaluation of evidence which was not part of the original case and the omission of evidence which was essential to the original case.

The church of the time was divided on the validity of the proceedings. Hence the immediate counter-council called by John of Antioch, which exonerated Nestorius and defrocked Cyril. The emperor banished both Cyril and Nestorius but was later persuaded to reinstate Cyril and banish Nestorius to Egypt--under Cyril's watchful eye.

He denied the orthodox language of the time at the precise point where it comes to bear on orthodox Christology. "Theotokos" simply cannot be cast aside as the language of Mariolatry; it was the orthodox way of representing soteriological truth in an incarnation model of salvation; much in the same way the reformed speak of the infinite value of the atonement.

He didn't deny its validity as a technical theological term any more than we reject the validity of the term "real presence." The trouble was that he saw it as being a bit ambiguous and leading to error (in which he was justified), preferring a term that emphasized both humanity and divinity.

His overall theological concerns cannot be reconciled with the strong emphasis on union which later came to be identified with Christological orthodoxy.

I think the quote which I presented in post 27 answers this.

The son brought forth by the Virgin is "God with us." The catholic tradition (including the reformed catholic tradition) takes seriously the nativity revelation of Matthew and Luke. Nestorius' failure to affirm this key element of the incarnation is bound to become a problem for anyone who undertakes to defend him.

Again, he didn't deny the title theotokos, he just disliked it for some of its possible implications--and I don't think any Protestant can deny that his fear was ultimately justified. He preferred the title Christotokos partly because it emphasized both divine and human.

I might myself say that the term theanthropotokos (God-man-bearer) might be even more accurate.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
The church of the time was divided on the validity of the proceedings. Hence the immediate counter-council called by John of Antioch, which exonerated Nestorius and defrocked Cyril. The emperor banished both Cyril and Nestorius but was later persuaded to reinstate Cyril and banish Nestorius to Egypt--under Cyril's watchful eye.

I am referring to the Christological verdict, not events. Nestorius is left on the outside and Cyril within the circle of orthodoxy.

He didn't deny its validity as a technical theological term any more than we reject the validity of the term "real presence." The trouble was that he saw it as being a bit ambiguous and leading to error (in which he was justified), preferring a term that emphasized both humanity and divinity.

Can't you see that you are substantiating the point, that his negation of a term which emphasised unity and his preference for duality is the very problem.

His overall theological concerns cannot be reconciled with the strong emphasis on union which later came to be identified with Christological orthodoxy.

I think the quote which I presented in post 27 answers this.

Regrettably it doesn't. His concerns were metaphysical; he could not find a rational way to bring divinity and humanity together in personal union. Even the Bazaar (which is really irrelevant to the case as it was post factum) continues to voice these concerns.

Again, he didn't deny the title theotokos, he just disliked it for some of its possible implications--and I don't think any Protestant can deny that his fear was ultimately justified. He preferred the title Christotokos partly because it emphasized both divine and human.

As suspected, the problem does not lie in the verdict of history, but in the dislike of an orthodoxy which Protestantism has always confessed. If a modern rejects the theotokos it is no wonder he will fight for Nestorius because he is really fighting for himself.
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
I am referring to the Christological verdict, not events. Nestorius is left on the outside and Cyril within the circle of orthodoxy.

Depends--do you accept Cyril's council or John's version of Ephesus?

Can't you see that you are substantiating the point, that his negation of a term which emphasised unity and his preference for duality is the very problem.

I think you miss the problem that theotokos emphasizes Christ's divinity at the expense of His humanity. I don't see how using the term Christotokos is any less unified than theotokos.

Regrettably it doesn't. His concerns were metaphysical; he could not find a rational way to bring divinity and humanity together in personal union. Even the Bazaar (which is really irrelevant to the case as it was post factum) continues to voice these concerns.

And they were legitimate concerns, as Chalcedon and later history proved.

As suspected, the problem does not lie in the verdict of history, but in the dislike of an orthodoxy which Protestantism has always confessed.

Half the church didn't accept it at the time! The only parts that accepted it were the ones under imperial jurisdiction. Outside the Roman Empire, it was rejected entirely and within, the debate would rage until Chalcedon.

If a modern rejects the theotokos it is no wonder he will fight for Nestorius because he is really fighting for himself.

I don't reject the theotokos--I just think the term has been so misused as to not be useful. Again, think "real presence." I can affirm the original intent--I just reject its current use in Catholicism as a reference to transubstantiation.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Depends--do you accept Cyril's council or John's version of Ephesus?

The orthodox Christological tradition accepts Cyril's council.

I think you miss the problem that theotokos emphasizes Christ's divinity at the expense of His humanity. I don't see how using the term Christotokos is any less unified than theotokos.

Yes, Christ is a divine person who assumed a human nature; that is the point of the term. "Christotokos" made no substantive claim.

And they were legitimate concerns, as Chalcedon and later history proved.

Chalcedon answered these metaphysical concerns with theological certainty: "Mary, the Mother of God."

Half the church didn't accept it at the time! The only parts that accepted it were the ones under imperial jurisdiction. Outside the Roman Empire, it was rejected entirely and within, the debate would rage until Chalcedon.

Chalcedon accepts it; catholicism (including reformed catholicism) accepts Chalcedon.

I don't reject the theotokos--I just think the term has been so misused as to not be useful. Again, think "real presence." I can affirm the original intent--I just reject its current use in Catholicism as a reference to transubstantiation.

By all means one is required to free terms from misconceptions which attach to them; but one is not at liberty to disregard the substantive truth signified by a term. Corporeal presence, not real presence, undergirds transubstantiation. Anyone with common sense will understand that. But this is beside the point, as Nestorius' polemic was aimed at the Christological truth signified by theotokos, not at mariolatrical abuse of the term.
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
Therefore has he said 'the likeness' and 'the name' which it has taken, which indicates a prosôpon as of one; and this same name and prosôpon make the two of them to be understood; and the distinction of nature, one hypostasis and one prosôpon,50 is theirs

Two natures in a hypostatic/prosoponic union. I really can't see how Nestorius' understanding contradicts.

But this is beside the point, as Nestorius' polemic was aimed at the Christological truth signified by theotokos, not at mariolatrical abuse of the term.

Actually, if anything, that was his error--in his objection to the term theotokos (which is where the controversy started), he made too great a distinction between the two natures. The subtle christological differences between the actual Nestorian (ie: Nestorius--not the Ephesian definition), orthodox, and miaphysite positions are so slight, in my humble opinion, as to render them moot. In fact, in modern times, adherents of all three have come together in affirming Chalcedon.

The other question I would ask here is, how much does it matter? Does Nestorius' position teach another Gospel/worship another Christ than the one that we do?

I would suggest that it does not. Nestorians in Persia and beyond were the greatest missionaries since the apostolic age. By 1000 AD there were Christians of this Church of the East from Mesopotamia to Japan and the Philippines and from Mongolia to India. Are we going to seriously suggest that they were all preaching a false Gospel as they were fulfilling the Great Commission? Somehow the thought is incredible to me.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Therefore has he said 'the likeness' and 'the name' which it has taken, which indicates a prosôpon as of one; and this same name and prosôpon make the two of them to be understood; and the distinction of nature, one hypostasis and one prosôpon,50 is theirs

Two natures in a hypostatic/prosoponic union. I really can't see how Nestorius' understanding contradicts.

This is from a work which is only relevant to the case insofar as it seeks to present the perspective of the condemned. This work was not in evidence during the controversy.

Even here, however, there is no genuine presentation of Christological orthodoxy. In the very section you cite, we read, "But since he became flesh in taking the flesh, he was named after both of them in both of them, but as though he were one in both of them, not [in both] in nature, but in the one indeed in nature but in the other in prosôpon by adoption as well as by revelation."

Again, "He who was seen speaks from him who was conceived as from his own prosôpon, as though he were one and possessed the same prosôpon."

Again, "For they are not far removed either in operation or in word or in ousia; nor are the things which are to be distinguished the one from the other in the prosôpon distinct in love, for they are conceived of his prosôpon in the love and the will of God in that he took the flesh."

The "union" recognised by this bizarre Bazaar is one of love and will. The flesh is spoken of as a prosopon by adoption and revelation. The language of two persons is not utilised, but it uses very impertinent language if it intends to teach a unio personalis.

Actually, if anything, that was his error--in his objection to the term theotokos (which is where the controversy started), he made too great a distinction between the two natures.

It is good that you are starting to see what the controversy was actually concerned with.

The subtle christological differences between the actual Nestorian (ie: Nestorius--not the Ephesian definition), orthodox, and miaphysite positions are so slight, in my humble opinion, as to render them moot. In fact, in modern times, adherents of all three have come together in affirming Chalcedon.

All three have not come together in affirming Chalcedon if Nestorius' advocates continue to reject Chalcedon's affirmation of theotokos.

To show the importance of the controversy in modern terms -- do you believe "Christ" satisfied "infinite" justice? How?
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
This is from a work which is only relevant to the case insofar as it seeks to present the perspective of the condemned. This work was not in evidence during the controversy.

And neither were the eastern bishops. You have a synod of half the church essentially condemning the other half for heresies they don't hold. Again, I'm not convinced that Nestorius actually held the heresy condemned at Ephesus. This isn't like Nicaea where the case was clear--in this case there were so many irregularities as to throw the whole into doubt.

All three have not come together in affirming Chalcedon if Nestorius' advocates continue to reject Chalcedon's affirmation of theotokos.

I'll check into that. Given the subsequent history of the term theotokos, I would prefer to find a different term that doesn't put quite so much emphasis on Mary.

To show the importance of the controversy in modern terms -- do you believe "Christ" satisfied "infinite" justice? How?

By being God incarnate. I don't think Nestorius would disagree here.
 

TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
We do not, for example, presume that we may not reexamine the Roman doctrine of the Mass because the doctrine is already established.

He said

Regrettably modern scholars come to the facts of the case as if it were still open, which results in the evaluation of evidence which was not part of the original case and the omission of evidence which was essential to the original case.

How can the RC doctrine of the Mass be compared to the teachings of Nestorius when it comes to clear forensic evidence?
 

P.F.

Puritan Board Freshman
"Actually, the Bazaar, which I quoted, refers to events that happened at Chalcedon."

Would you please provide an example? If you did earlier, I missed it.

One may find the introduction to the Bazaar online at
Nestorius, The Bazaar of Heracleides (1925) pp.iii-xxxv.* Introduction

The introduction contains the following paragraph.

"The book must have been written by Nestorius in the year 451 or 452, seeing that there are references to the death of Theodosius II in 450, and to the flight of Dioscorus of Alexandria. Dioscorus was at the Council of Chalcedon in 451, but though formally deposed by the Council in October of that year was not condemned to banishment until the following July. On the other hand, Nestorius, though speaking of the triumph of the orthodox faith of Flavian and Leo, does not seem to be aware of the formal decisions of the Council of Chalcedon. It appears, therefore, that Dioscorus must have fled when the Council decided against him, and that when Nestorius wrote he must have heard of his flight, but not of the formal decision of the Council or of the imperial decree by which sentence of exile was pronounced upon him."

If this is correct it dates N's last emendation of the Bazzar to sometime betwen mid November 451 and early 452.

The flight of Dioscorus is not an event that happened at Chalcedon.

Furthermore, you may be interested to note that the quotation you provided is essentially a block quotation taken from "Nestorius and his Teaching" by James Franklin Bethune-Baker. Bethune-Baker provides the following justification for his dating:

There is no direct mention of the Council of Chalcedon, but the orthodox faith—the faith of Flavian and of Leo which Nestorius regards as his own faith—has already triumphed, and Dioscorus has betaken himself to flight 'as a means of avoiding deposition and being driven into exile'. But Dioscorus was at the Council of Chalcedon, still endeavouring to brave out all that he had done, and if he took to flight it can only have been after the Council had already condemned him and before their sentence had been ratified by the Emperor, in the hope that his friends might secure more favourable treatment for him. The Council sat from the 8th of October to the 1st of November, and the formal deposition of Dioscorus was pronounced at the third session on the 13th of October. On the 7th of February of the following year the Emperor published an edict confirming the doctrinal decisions of the Council, but the decree condemning Eutyches and Dioscorus to banishment was not issued till the 6th of July. Nestorius therefore wrote the concluding portion of his book after the Council (apparently before the Acts of the Council had reached him) and before the news of the imperial edict which sent Dioscorus into exile had travelled so far up the Nile. The earlier parts were probably written at a much earlier time:—they breathe more of the spirit of battle and give no indication of the denouement; it seems to be only to a distant future that the writer looks for the vindication of his doctrine.
The emphasis is mine.

I'm not sure that will change your (or Pugh's - who has not deemed my inquiry worthy of a response) firmly entrenched views either as to the speed of the post in those days or to the fact that the Bazaar does not refer to events that happened at Chalcedon.
 

timmopussycat

Puritan Board Junior
"Actually, the Bazaar, which I quoted, refers to events that happened at Chalcedon."

Would you please provide an example? If you did earlier, I missed it.

One may find the introduction to the Bazaar online at
Nestorius, The Bazaar of Heracleides (1925) pp.iii-xxxv.* Introduction

The introduction contains the following paragraph.

"The book must have been written by Nestorius in the year 451 or 452, seeing that there are references to the death of Theodosius II in 450, and to the flight of Dioscorus of Alexandria. Dioscorus was at the Council of Chalcedon in 451, but though formally deposed by the Council in October of that year was not condemned to banishment until the following July. On the other hand, Nestorius, though speaking of the triumph of the orthodox faith of Flavian and Leo, does not seem to be aware of the formal decisions of the Council of Chalcedon. It appears, therefore, that Dioscorus must have fled when the Council decided against him, and that when Nestorius wrote he must have heard of his flight, but not of the formal decision of the Council or of the imperial decree by which sentence of exile was pronounced upon him."

If this is correct it dates N's last emendation of the Bazzar to sometime betwen mid November 451 and early 452.

The flight of Dioscorus is not an event that happened at Chalcedon.

Furthermore, you may be interested to note that the quotation you provided is essentially a block quotation taken from "Nestorius and his Teaching" by James Franklin Bethune-Baker. Bethune-Baker provides the following justification for his dating:

There is no direct mention of the Council of Chalcedon, but the orthodox faith—the faith of Flavian and of Leo which Nestorius regards as his own faith—has already triumphed, and Dioscorus has betaken himself to flight 'as a means of avoiding deposition and being driven into exile'. But Dioscorus was at the Council of Chalcedon, still endeavouring to brave out all that he had done, and if he took to flight it can only have been after the Council had already condemned him and before their sentence had been ratified by the Emperor, in the hope that his friends might secure more favourable treatment for him. The Council sat from the 8th of October to the 1st of November, and the formal deposition of Dioscorus was pronounced at the third session on the 13th of October. On the 7th of February of the following year the Emperor published an edict confirming the doctrinal decisions of the Council, but the decree condemning Eutyches and Dioscorus to banishment was not issued till the 6th of July. Nestorius therefore wrote the concluding portion of his book after the Council (apparently before the Acts of the Council had reached him) and before the news of the imperial edict which sent Dioscorus into exile had travelled so far up the Nile. The earlier parts were probably written at a much earlier time:—they breathe more of the spirit of battle and give no indication of the denouement; it seems to be only to a distant future that the writer looks for the vindication of his doctrine.
The emphasis is mine.

I'm not sure that will change your (or Pugh's - who has not deemed my inquiry worthy of a response) firmly entrenched views either as to the speed of the post in those days or to the fact that the Bazaar does not refer to events that happened at Chalcedon.

Unless you know that D was present for his deposition or remained in Chalcedon for the rest of the council and travelled to his see immediately afterwords, N may have been better informed than you are. Do we know D's travel diary? The land speed of the postal system throughout the Roman empire is known to have been 50 miles/day and it is not at all unreasonable to posit that such news could have reached N in Lower Egypt within 50 days as the distance from Istanbul (Chalcedon) to Alexandria is about 1061 miles. From Alexandria to the present Aswan is about another 700 miles. The Thebaid area was a twenty mile wide strip along the Nile running from Abydos south to Aswan. So the maximum distance from Chalcedon to Nestorius in exile was 1800 miles or 36 days average travel time.

The entire reason I have cited the matter was to point out that since the Bazaar specifically mentions an event that could only have occured after the council began, (since we know that D participated in the council until deposed), we have good reason to believe N's death took place after the Council commenced rather than before it began as was earlier presumed.
 
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P.F.

Puritan Board Freshman
Tim wrote:
Please note that the Bazaar specifically mentions that Discordius has taken flight so it could only been written after his banishment on 13 October. The land speed of the postal system throughout the Roman empire is known to have been 50 miles/day and it is not at all unreasonable to posit that such news could have reached N in Lower Egypt within 50 days.
Note, however, that Nestorius was not in Lower Egypt (well - of course, that depends where one sets off the limits). He was banished to a remote (far from the Nile) oasis in the Western Desert, as Pastor King already pointed out. (The place known today as al-Kharga, Egypt)

As to the remainder...

Pastor King had written:
Moreover, Nestorius was either dead (or at any rate, near death...some suggest he died in 436 AD, some suggest 451 AD when Chalcedon convened) at the time of this Council, and certainly could not have expressed familiarity with its proceedings in any of his writings.
Mr. Pugh had retorted:
As for the Church history, I'm relying on the scholarly introduction to the text which suggests that he most probably died around 451 and knew at least of the banishment of Dioscorus I, Pope of Alexandria (student of Cyril). The text also refers to the death of Theodosius II in 450.
You, Mr. Cunningham, chimed in by quoting from the paragraph to which Mr. Pugh was referring. However, that source (the source from which that paragraph originally comes) supports what Pastor King said.
Recall that Mr. Pugh had stated:
As I recall, the followers of Cyril were condemned at Chalcedon. In reading Nestorius' writings, it seems he was aware of the Council of Chalcedon and applauded it.
And again:
Actually, the Bazaar, which I quoted, refers to events that happened at Chalcedon.
I think what Pastor King wrote still stands:
You're going to have to do more than refer me to the above work by Nestorius when you suggest that "the followers of Cyril were condemned at Chalcedon" and that Nestorius was aware of the proceedings of Chalcedon, which is why I suggested the needed lesson(s) in Church history.
And I'm rather puzzled both as to why Mr. Pugh hasn't apologized to Pastor King and as to why you are seemingly trying to support Mr. Pugh. Your explanation doesn't really clarify things for me:
The entire reason I have cited the matter was to point out that since the Bazaar specifically mentions an event that could only have occured after the council began, (since we know that D participated in the council until deposed), we have good reason to believe N's death took place after the Council commenced rather than before it began as was earlier presumed.
Given that Pastor King said dead or dying and given that the issue is whether Nestorius was familiar with Chalcedon's acts, I hardly see what purpose your comments serve, or how they are really relevant to the topic. Perhaps focus has been lost in the flurry of comments.
 
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timmopussycat

Puritan Board Junior
We do not, for example, presume that we may not reexamine the Roman doctrine of the Mass because the doctrine is already established.

He said

Regrettably modern scholars come to the facts of the case as if it were still open, which results in the evaluation of evidence which was not part of the original case and the omission of evidence which was essential to the original case.

How can the RC doctrine of the Mass be compared to the teachings of Nestorius when it comes to clear forensic evidence?

It can't. We have clear statements accepted by the Roman magisterium as to what they teach on the subject. But much of N's own teachings are not accessible to us and N. consistently denied that that he taught what his accusers were accusing him of both at Ephesus and thereafter.

But my main point in referring to the Hus condemnation was to provide supporting evidence for my comment that

=timmopussycat
The attitude that once a theological judgment once made by the church is not capable of being revisited when prima facie views of evidence that is either not known or not presented in the original court turns up, is simply inconsistent with the stances Reformed Theology has taken elsewhere.

in contrast to the claim that

Our method of examining the evidence must reflect a case that has already been tried.

-----Added 10/15/2009 at 04:02:30 EST-----

Tim wrote:
Please note that the Bazaar specifically mentions that Discordius has taken flight so it could only been written after his banishment on 13 October. The land speed of the postal system throughout the Roman empire is known to have been 50 miles/day and it is not at all unreasonable to posit that such news could have reached N in Lower Egypt within 50 days.
Note, however, that Nestorius was not in Lower Egypt. He was banished to a remote (far from the Nile) oasis in Upper Egypt, as Pastor King already pointed out. (The place known today as al-Kharga, Egypt)

Sorry my typo: Upper Egypt is correct. But Upper Egypt lies within the milage radius I gave as that radius includes the distance from Alexandria to Aswan which is south of the Thebaid. Any oasis in the Thebaid would have been visited by the mail route to Aswan.

As to the remainder...

Pastor King had written:
Moreover, Nestorius was either dead (or at any rate, near death...some suggest he died in 436 AD, some suggest 451 AD when Chalcedon convened) at the time of this Council, and certainly could not have expressed familiarity with its proceedings in any of his writings.
Mr. Pugh had retorted:
You, Mr. Cunningham, chimed in by quoting from the paragraph to which Mr. Pugh was referring. However, that source (the source from which that paragraph originally comes) supports what Pastor King said.

Not quite. I stated the source from which I was quoting. That source was not Mr. Pugh's source, although mine drew from his.

And I'm rather puzzled ...as to why you are seemingly trying to support Mr. Pugh. Your explanation doesn't really clarify things for me:
The entire reason I have cited the matter was to point out that since the Bazaar specifically mentions an event that could only have occured after the council began, (since we know that D participated in the council until deposed), we have good reason to believe N's death took place after the Council commenced rather than before it began as was earlier presumed.
Given that Pastor King said dead or dying and given that the issue is whether Nestorius was familiar with Chalcedon's acts, I hardly see what purpose your comments serve, or how they are really relevant to the topic. Perhaps focus has been lost in the flurry of comments.

The Bazaar provides evidence that N may have been familliar with some of the events at the council, if not its decrees. That possibility must be taken into account in any discussions of timelines, something Pastor King appeared unwilling to do.
 
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P.F.

Puritan Board Freshman
The Bazaar provides evidence that N may have been familliar with some of the events at the council, if not its decrees. That possibility must be taken into account in any discussions of timelines, something Pastor King appeared unwilling to do.

There is no positive evidence that Nestorius knew what the council said about Christ. None. Even the source you quoted states:
On the other hand, Nestorius, though speaking of the triumph of the orthodox faith of Flavian and Leo, does not seem to be aware of the formal decisions of the Council of Chalcedon.

So, again, it seems apparent that there is no interaction between Nestorius and the council of Chalcedon, and that the weight of the evidence suggests he did not know what the council said.

-----Added 10/15/2009 at 04:40:23 EST-----

Friedrich Loofs: Now the Treatise of Heraclides teaches us that Nestorius lived roughly speaking till the time of that council. Accurately speaking there is no trace of the Chalcedonian synod in the Treatise of Heraclides, and the passages which seem to point to the time following it must in my opinion be explained otherwise. Hence I believe that the monophysitic stories asserting that Nestorius had been invited to the council of Chalcedon, but died a dreadful death on the journey thither are right in so far that Nestorius did not live to see the opening of the council in October 451. But he saw the beginning of the reaction which followed the so-called robber-synod of Ephesus in 449. He even read the famous letter of Pope Leo to Flavian of Constantinople, which was of such decisive importance for the determination of Chalcedon and was acknowledged as a norm of doctrine by this council. See Nestorius and his place in the history of Christian doctrine, Friedrich Loofs, Cambridge: 1914, pp. 21-22
 

P.F.

Puritan Board Freshman
Pastor Winzer:

I don't disagree with you, and yet your comment makes me wonder whether you've considered this remark from Nestorius:

Nestorius. As a king, who takes the clothes of soldierhood and is [so seen], has not become a double king, and as the king exists not apart from him, in that he is in him, and as, further, he is not revered apart from him in whom he is known and whereby men also have known him and have been rescued; so also God used his own prosôpon to condescend in poverty and shame even unto the death on the Cross for our salvation; and by it he was raised up also to honour and glory and adoration. Nestorius, Bazaar of Heracleides, Book I, Part I, Section 29

I'm not sure we can construct a complete view of the atonement from Nestorius' works, but it appears he recognized the significance of the passive obedience of Christ in our salvation. Now, whether he would use the "Christ" where he used "God" there, is a more difficult issue (we have so little of his own writings to go on). Given that he called Mary, Christokos, I suspect he'd prefer not to refer the atoning work simply to the name of Christ, but to the person of God the Word.

I understand from Pastor King that you've studied this issue more than I have. I would welcome your correction if you think I'm mistaken in my conclusions.

I'd like to add one more quotation from a portion where he appears to be opposing a monophysite error:

Nestorius: But to those who thought that the body of the Son of God was polluted the Apostle says that they are trampling underfoot the Son of God in rejecting him and denying him, against those who confess that the body is of our own nature and who regard it as polluted, although [they admit] that it was given for the salvation of us all because it was pure and unstained and saved from sins, and that for all our sins he accepted death and became as it were an offering unto God. Nestorius, Bazaar of Heracleides, Book I, Part I, Section 41
 
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timmopussycat

Puritan Board Junior
The attitude that once a theological judgment once made by the church is not capable of being revisited when prima facie views of evidence that is either not known or not presented in the original court turns up, is simply inconsistent with the stances Reformed Theology has taken elsewhere. We do not, for example, presume that we may not reexamine the Roman doctrine of the Mass because the doctrine is already established. Nor can we assume that Councils get it always right. I think it was the Bainton bio of Luther that noted that it was when Martin Luther discovered two solidly "evangelical" (his word) propositions of Hus that were condemned by the council of Constance that he showed that councils could not hae final authority in the church.

Moreover on biblical standards, it is an injustice to condemn a man for a doctrine he does not hold.

If N's own writings show Chalcedonian orthodoxy wrt to the nature of Christ, his reservations concerning how to name Mary must be shown by GNC to be heresy before he can be condemned for it. It would help if someone could set forth a place where such demonstration is attempted.

On paragraph one, you are speaking to the wrong issue. I am not denying the responsibility of the modern church to evaluate the history. I am denying the ability to revise the history. Modern evangelicals continually confound those two things, so I suppose I have to show some indulgence to your zeal for the fallibility of human councils.

I am not attempting to revise the history. I have no dog in the fight and I am not an expert on the controversy. But I agree with John Bugay who in post 6 yearned for "a very thorough history ... written by someone other than an eastern orthodox theologian." And I don't see the seven ecumenical councils given equal ranking to Scripture by the WCF.

[On paragraph two, that is a truism, and it applies as equally to condemning a council for acting in the interests of Christian truth.

On paragraph three, good and necessary consequence only applies in a closed world of facts. It applies to the Bible because the fulness of the Bible as a revelation fom God specifically implies truths which are not expressly stated. Good and necessary consequence would be dangerous to apply to fallible and limited human statements. What we must determine is whether Nestorius' rejection of the theotokos was a rejection of an important part of Christological orthodoxy of that time. Given the incarnational model of salvation, the answer to that question is affirmative.

No but we can compare the statements of men with the Scripture and that is how all theological controversy ought to be settled. Which means that we ought not to ultimately judge N's statements by the judgements of other men or councils but by comparing them to Scripture, particularly in cases where he is on record as denying the specific teachings imputed to him.

Now on theotokos: It is simply unjust to presume N to be guilty of an error in the nature of his Christology because of his statement concerning the propriety of a title for Mary. It is only if one can show that a Christological error is a good and necessary consequence of his anti-theotokes statements that we will be justified in condemning him for those statements.

Nobody will doubt that there may be differences between Mary's actual relationship to the Second Person of the Trinity, and the particular terms used to describe that relationship. The words may or may not not fully match the reality.

To determine whether or not N's rejection of the title theotokos is itself an error, we must, in the final analysis, consider whether or not his concept of that relationship accurately conveyed the Scriptural reality, despite his rejection of the technical term. One can for example describe the reality of Christ's incarnation quite accurately without using the term. (This is not to say that the council may have no justification for condemning him on other grounds. This is why I'd like to see a non-Orthodox writer do a full analysis of the era.)
 

johnbugay

Puritan Board Freshman
I am grateful for the serious discussion on all sides of this issue.

For a long time, my knowledge of "The Church of the East" consisted of Acts 16:6: "and they went through the region of Phyygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia."

My interest began, as I may have mentioned, with Samuel Hugh Moffett's very serious "A History of Christianity in Asia." Moffett traces the growth of Christianity eastward from that point, as "The Old Silk Road," a major trade route, extended northeast from Antioch into Edessa, east toward Nisibis (where one of the great early schools of Christianity was located), southward along the Tigris River through Mosul, Tekrit, Baghdad, Seleucia-Ctesiphon, (the border between Roman and Persian empires; we know this area as Iraq), before heading straight east through Persia, modern Afghanistan, and onward to China.

This eastward expansion of Christianity led to the development of a thriving church outside of the Roman Empire which grew in spite of a truly "Great Persecution" in the 4th century. As Moffett says, the conversion of the Roman Empire "was enough to make any Persian ruler conditioned by three hundred years of war with Rome suspicious of the emergence of a potential fifth column."

Persia's (Zoroastrian) priests and rulers cemented their alliance of state and religion in a series of periods of terror that have been called the most massive persecution of Christians in history, \"unequalled for its duration, its ferocity and the number of martyrs.\" (Moffett 138)

By the time this persecution ended, in around 401 ad, Moffet says, "one estimate is that as many as 190,000 Persian Christians died in the terror. It was worse than anything suffered in the West under Rome, and yet the number of apostasies seemed to be fewer in Persia than in the West, which is a remarkable tribute to the steady courage of Asia's early Christians." (145)

This "Church of the East" emerged from that period of persecution and adopted the the canons of the Council of Nicaea and the Nicene Creed unanimously in about 410 ad. It was a church which knew next to nothing of Rome and Constantinople and Alexandria, nothing of their feuds, nothing of their supposed "authority." It was this church which looked to Theodore of Mopsuestia as one of its greatest theologians. It was this church which took the "ill-fitting name for the church in non-Roman Asia, 'Nestorian.'"

Later, this church lived through the invasions of Islam, and largely died at its hand after the 12th century invasions of these lands under Ghengis Khan.


This history is one reason why I believe it is important to really understand how this branch of Christianity, which held some beliefs that we would not hold today. Their quite orthodox faith in Christ (those early centuries), their endurance, their rejection after the utterly reprehensible council of Ephesus, make the arguments of "who was greatest" among the "great" centers of Christianity -- Rome, Alexandria, Constantinople -- seem quite small and petty by comparison.
 
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MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
I am not attempting to revise the history. I have no dog in the fight and I am not an expert on the controversy. But I agree with John Bugay who in post 6 yearned for "a very thorough history ... written by someone other than an eastern orthodox theologian." And I don't see the seven ecumenical councils given equal ranking to Scripture by the WCF.

Again you trumpet the fallibility of human councils. I always find this an unbalanced zeal when it refuses to recognise the work of the Spirit of truth in the church. It really maintains solo Scriptura rather than sola Scriptura. There is a whole garbage truck of inconsistency here.

No but we can compare the statements of men with the Scripture and that is how all theological controversy ought to be settled. Which means that we ought not to ultimately judge N's statements by the judgements of other men or councils but by comparing them to Scripture, particularly in cases where he is on record as denying the specific teachings imputed to him.

As noted previously, this is a-historical and fails to take into account the development of dogma. Nestorius must be judged in the appropriate court of jursidiction, which is his own times, not ours.

Now on theotokos: It is simply unjust to presume N to be guilty of an error in the nature of his Christology because of his statement concerning the propriety of a title for Mary. It is only if one can show that a Christological error is a good and necessary consequence of his anti-theotokes statements that we will be justified in condemning him for those statements.

When judging between parties in an earlier controversy, men can't be held to good and necessary consequence because it is only in the light of controversy that logical outcomes are brought forth. It is illegitimate to judge on the basis of knowledge which has come as a result of that controversy. It equates to standing on a man's shoulders and kicking him in the head at the same time.

It is an error to make theotokos a mere "title for Mary." It is a Christological statement, as the structure and emphasis of both Ephesus and Chalcedon reveal. It does not aim to show us something about Mary per se, but about Jesus Christ. As with the nativity revelation of Matthew and Luke, Mary's dignity is conceived solely in terms of the nature of her offspring.
 
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