The third and fourth oecumenical synods (Ephesus, 43 1; Chalcedon, 451) were primarily tribunals for the trials of Nestorius and Dioscorus; it was secondarily that they became organs of the universal episcopate for the definition of the faith, or legislative assemblies for the enactment of canons.
He was not, however, charged with direct heresy, as were Nestorius and Dioscorus, and the synod seems to have hesitated to deal stringently with the primate of Christendom.
Both Eutyches and Nestorius are spoken of as living.
At the desire of Leo (then archdeacon of Rome) he wrote against Nestorius his De Incarnatione Domini in seven books.
On the advice of Acacius, the energetic patriarch of Constantinople, Zeno issued the Henotikon edict (482), in which Nestorius and Eutyches were condemned, the twelve chapters of Cyril accepted, and the Chalcedon Definition ignored.
The teaching of Apollinarius that in Christ the Divine Word took the place of the human rational soul, thus seeming to do away with his possession of a true humanity, had led to a reaction by Paul of Samosata, Diodore of Tarsus, Theodore of Mopsuestia, and Nestorius of Constantinople.
It seems to have been the objection of Nestorius to the use of this expression which mainly led to his condemnation and deposition at the Council of Ephesus (431) under the influence of Cyril, when as patriarch of Constantinople (428-431) he had distinguished himself by his zeal for Nicene orthodoxy."
11 New light on the theological position of Nestorius is to be obtained from the long-lost Book of Heraclides, a work of his own which has turned up in a Syriac version and has just been published by Bedjan.
To the Nestorian movement in Persia he rendered useful service by his letter to Mari of Beth Hardasher, in which he maintained the tenets of Diodore and Theodore, while allowing that Nestorius had erred.
His theological position is clearly defined in a homily on the three doctors - Diodore, Theodore and Nestorius - published by the Abbe Martin in the Journal asiatique for July 1900.
- Among those who had been present at Ephesus in support of Nestorius was Ibas, presbyter and head of the theological school of Edessa.
On the accusation of the orthodox he was deposed by the "Robber Synod" of Ephesus, but at Chalcedon in 451 was pardoned on condition of anathematizing both Nestorius and Eutyches and accepting the Tome of Leo.
The church traced its doctrines to Theodore of Mopsuestia rather than to Nestorius, whose name at first they repudiated, not regarding themselves as having been proselytized to any new teaching.
The Nestorians commemorate Nestorius as a saint, and invoke his aid and that of his companions.
Bethune-Baker's Nestorius and his Teaching).
Nestorius held the two natures so far apart as to appear to sacrifice the unity of the person of Christ.
If the creed-phrases needed sharpening against the revived Nestorian error of the Adoptianists, it is scarcely likely to have been written during the generation following the condemnation of Nestorius in 431.
When the doctrines of Nestorius were denounced to him, he instructed Cyril, bishop of Alexandria, to follow up the matter.
The consecration took place on the 10th of April 428, and then, almost immediately afterwards, in what is said to have been his first patriarchal sermon, Nestorius exhorted the emperor in the famous words - "Purge me, 0 Caesar, the earth of heretics, and I in return will give thee heaven.
In the spirit of this utterance, steps were taken within a few days by the new prelate to suppress the assemblies of the Arians; these, by a bold stroke of policy, anticipated his action by themselves setting fire to their meetinghouse, Nestorius being forthwith nicknamed "the incendiary."
From Antioch Nestorius had brought along with him to Constantinople a co-presbyter named Anastasius, who enjoyed his confidence and is called by Theophanes his "syncellus."
The opposition, which was led by one Eusebius, a "scholasticus" or pleader who afterwards became bishop of Dorylaeum, chose to construe this utterance as a denial of the divinity of Christ, and so violent did the dispute upon it become that Nestorius judged it necessary to silence the remonstrants by force.
He stirred up his own clergy, he wrote to encourage the dissidents at Constantinople, he addressed himself to the sister and wife of the emperor (Theodosius himself being known to be still favourable to Nestorius), and he beggared the clergy of his own diocese to find bribes for the officials of the court.
Nestorius himself, on the other hand, having occasion to write to Pope Celestine I.
Bethune-Baker, Nestorius and his Teaching, p. 16 seq.
On hearing from Rome, Cyril at once held a synod and drew up a doctrinal formula for Nestorius to sign, and also twelve anathemas covering the various points of the Nestorian dogmatic. Nestorius, instead of yielding to the combined pressure of his two great rivals, merely replied by a counter excommunication.
Nestorius, with sixteen bishops and a large following of armed men, was among the first to arrive; soon afterwards came Cyril with fifty bishops.
Cyril and his friends accordingly assembled in the church of the Theotokos on the 22nd of June, and summoned Nestorius before them to give an account of his doctrines.
Notwithstanding these circumstances, Cyril and the one hundred and fifty-nine bishops who were with him proceeded to read the imperial letter of convocation, and afterwards the letters which had passed between Nestorius and his adversary.
Almost immediately the entire assembly with one voice cried out anathema on the impious Nestorius and his impious doctrines, and after various extracts from the writings of church fathers had been read the decree of his exclusion from the episcopate and from all priestly communion was solemnly read and signed by all present, whose numbers had by this time swelled to one hundred and ninety-eight.
As Nestorius himself said, "the Council was Cyril"; it simply registered the Alexandrian patriarch's views.
A few days afterwards (June 26th or 27th) John of Antioch arrived, and efforts were made by both parties to gain his ear; whether inclined or not to the cause of his former co-presbyter, he was naturally excited by the precipitancy with which Cyril had acted, and at a conciliabulum of forty-three bishops held in his lodgings shortly after his arrival he was induced by Candidian, the friend of Nestorius, to depose the bishops of Alexandria and Ephesus on the spot.
Meanwhile a letter was received from the emperor declaring invalid the session at which Nestorius had been deposed unheard; numerous sessions and counter-sessions were afterwards held, the conflicting parties at the same time exerting themselves to the utmost to secure an effective superiority at court.
In the end Theodosius decided to confirm the depositions which had been pronounced on both sides, and Cyril and Memnon as well as Nestorius were by his orders laid under arrest.
Maximian, one of the Constantinopolitan clergy, a native of Rome, was promoted to the vacant see, and Nestorius was henceforward represented in the city of his former patriarchate only by one small congregation, which also a short time afterwards became extinct.
As for Nestorius himself, immediately after his deposition he withdrew into private life in his old monastery of Euprepius, Antioch, until 435, when the emperor ordered his banishment to Petra in Arabia.
Nestorius was already old and ailing and must have died very soon after.
So far as Nestorius himself is concerned, however, it is certain that he never formulated any such doctrine;2 nor does any recorded utterance of his, however casual, come so near the heresy called by his name as Cyril's deliberately framed third anathema (that regarding the "physical union" of the two hypostases or natures) approaches Eutychianism.
It must be remembered that Nestorius was as orthodox at all events as Athanasius on the subject of the incarnation, and sincerely, even fanatically, held every article of the Nicene creed.
But in reality the question raised by Nestorius was not one as to the communicatio idiomatum, but simply as to the proprieties of language.
He did not refuse to speak of Mary as being the mother of Christ or as being the mother of Emmanuel, but he thought it improper to speak of her as the mother of God, and Leo in the Letter to Flavian which was endorsed at Chalcedon uses the term "Mother of the Lord" which was exactly what Nestorius wished.
The danger was that under cover of such a title an unhistorical conception of the facts of the Gospel should grow up, and a false doctrine of the relations between the human and the Divine be encouraged, and this was to Nestorius a double danger that needed to be exposed.
The fact that Nestorius was trained at Antioch and inherited the Antiochene zeal for exact biblical exegesis and insistence upon the recognition of the full manhood of Christ, is of the first importance in understanding his position.
Bethune-Baker, Nestorius and his Teaching, ch.
There is no reason to suppose that Nestorius intended to introduce any innovations in doctrine, and in any estimate of him his strong religious interest and his fervent pastoral spirit must have due weight.
It is only within recent years that an attempt has been made to judge Nestorius from some other evidence than that afforded by the accusations of Cyril and the inferences drawn therefrom.
This other evidence consists partly of letters from Nestorius, preserved among the works of those to whom they were written, some sermons collected in a Latin translation by Marius Mercator, an African merchant who was doing business in Constantinople at the time of the dispute, and,other material gathered from Syriac manuscripts.
This pseudonym served to protect the book against the fate that overtook the writings of heretics, and in a Syriac version it was preserved in the Euphrates valley where the followers of Nestorius settled.
The discovery of The Bazaar, which is the Apologia of Nestorius, was made public by Dr H.
Bethune-Baker's Nestorius and his Teaching (Cambridge, 1908), chapter ii.
It is thus increasingly difficult to believe that Nestorius was a "Nestorian."
Personal rather than doctrinal reasons had by far the larger part in determining the fate of Nestorius, who was sacrificed to the agreement between the two great schools.
This view is confirmed by the evidence of the Synodicon Orientate (the collection of the canons of Nestorian Councils and Synods), which shows that the Great Syriac Church built up by the adherents of Nestorius and ever memorable for its zeal in carrying the Gospel into Central Asia, China and India cannot, from its inception, be rightly described as other than orthodox.
"When I came," said Nestorius (Baz.
The manner in which this union is realized is thus stated by Nestorius: "The Word also passed through Blessed Mary inasmuch as He did not receive a beginning by birth from her, as is the case with the body which was born of her.
It may truly be said that the ideas for which Nestorius and the Antiochene school strove "won the day as regards the doctrinal definitions of the church.