Click here to get started today!
A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography
Eutyches and Eutychianism
Eutyches (4) and Eutychianism. Eutyches was archimandrite of a monastery near Constantinople. For 70 years (as he told pope Leo) he had lived a monastic life, and during 30 out of them had presided over his 300 monks. He was a staunch upholder of the views and conduct of Cyril of Alexandria, who had even sent him, as a special mark of favour, a copy of the Acts of the council of Ephesus, a.d. 431. By whom he was first accused, whether by Theodoret in his Eranistes, or by his former friend, Eusebius of Dorylaeum, or by Domnus of Antioch, it seems difficult to decide (cf. Hefele, ii. 319; Martin, 75-78); but it is clear that to Eusebius are due the definite charges first brought against him at Constantinople in 448.
Flavian, who succeeded Proclus in 447 as archbishop, convened a synod in Constantinople on Nov. 8, 448, to consider some questions between the metropolitan of Sardis and two of his suffragan bishops. Eusebius of Dorylaeum was present, and at its conclusion complained that Eutyches defamed "the holy Fathers and himself, a man who had never been suspected of heresy," alleging himself prepared to convict Eutyches of being untrue to the orthodox faith. Flavian listened in astonishment, and suggested that Eusebius should first privately discuss with Eutyches the points in dispute. Eusebius retorted that he had already done this unsuccessfully; he, therefore, implored the synod to summon Eutyches before them, not only to induce him to give up his views, but to prevent infection spreading further. Two deputies, a priest and a deacon, were instructed to read to Eutyches the complaint, and to invite him to attend the synod, which met again on Nov. 12. Eusebius asked first for the recital of (a ) Cyril's first letter to Nestorius, (b ) the approbation of that letter by the council of Ephesus, and (c ) Cyril's letter to John of Antioch; secondly, that all present should express acceptance of these documents as true expositions of the Nicene Creed. Flavian and the bishops present accepted these propositions, and a resolution to the same effect was sent to the absentees for their approval and signature. The synod professed its belief in "Jesus Christ the only-begotten Son of God, perfect God and perfect man, of a reasonable soul and body subsisting, begotten before all ages, without beginning; of the Father according to the Godhead, but in these last days for our sake and for our salvation born of the Virgin Mary, according to the manhood; consubstantial with the Father, as touching His Godhead, and consubstantial with the mother, as touching His manhood." "We confess that Jesus Christ, after the Incarnation, was of two natures in one Hypostasis and in one Person; one Christ, one Son, one Lord. Whosoever asserts otherwise, him we exclude from the clergy and the church" (Mansi, vi. 679). At the third session, Nov. 15, the deputies announced that Eutyches refused to appear before the synod, alleging that Eusebius had long been his enemy, and had grossly slandered him, for he (Eutyches) was ready to assent to and subscribe the statements of the holy Fathers at Nicaea and Ephesus. Certain expressions used by them were, in his opinion, mistakes; in such cases he turned to Holy Scripture, as a safer guide than the Fathers. He worshipped one nature, and that the nature of God incarnate. Reading from a little book which he fetched, Eutyches then, according to the deputies, first protested against a statement falsely ascribed to himâ€”viz. that the Logos had brought His body from heavenâ€”and next asserted his inability to find in the writings of the Fathers their belief that our Lord Jesus Christ subsisted of two Persons united in one Hypostasis; adding, that even if he did find such a statement, he must decline to accept it, as not being in Holy Scripture. In his belief, He Who was born of the Virgin Mary was very God and very man, but His body was not of like substance with ours. Eusebius struck in, "This is quite enough to enable us to take action against Eutyches; but let him be summoned a second time." Two priests were now sent to tell Eutyches that his replies had given great offence; he must come and explain them, as well as meet the charges originally brought against him. They took with them a note saying that if he still refused to appear, it might be necessary to deal with him according to canonical law, and that his determination not to leave his cell was simply an evasion. During their absence, Eusebius brought forward a further charge. Eutyches, he asserted, had written and circulated among the monks a little book on the faith, to which he had requested their signatures. The statement was evidently an exaggeration, but was of sufficient importance for priests and deacons to be at once sent to the neighbouring monasteries to make inquiries. Meanwhile Mamas and Theophilus returned. They reported that they had encountered many obstacles. The monks round the door of the monastery had affirmed the archimandrite to be ill; one Eleusinius had presented himself as representing Eutyches; and it was only on the assurance that the letter, of which they were the bearers, contained neither hard nor secret messages that they at last procured an audience. To the letter Eutyches replied that nothing but death should make him leave his monastery, and that the archbishop and the synod might do what they pleased. In his turn, he wished them to take a letter; and on their refusal announced his intention of sending it to the synod. Eusebius at once broke out, "Guilty men have always some excuse ready; we must bring Eutyches here against his will." But at the desire of Flavian, two priests (Memnon and Epiphanius) and a deacon (Germanus) were sent to make another effort. They took a letter exhorting Eutyches not to compel the synod to put in force canonical censure, and summoning him before them two days later (Nov. 17). The synod met on Nov. 16. During the session, information was brought to Flavian that certain monks and deacons, friends of Eutyches, and Abraham, archimandrite of a neighbouring monastery, requested an audience. They were at once admitted. Abraham informed the archbishop that Eutyches was ill, and had deputed him to speak for him. Flavian's reply was paternal and conciliatory. He regretted the illness of Eutyches, and on behalf of those present, expressed their willingness to wait till he was restored. "Let him remember," he continued, "that he is not coming among strangers, but among men who would receive him with fatherly and brotherly affection, and many of whom have hitherto been his friends. He has pained many, and must defend himself. Surely if he could leave his retirement when the error of Nestorius imperilled the faith, he should do as much when his own orthodoxy is in question. He has but to acknowledge and anathematize his error, and the past shall be forgiven. As regards the future, he must give assurance to us that he will only teach conformably to the doctrines of the Fathers." The archbishop closed with significant words: "You (monks) know the zeal of the accuser of Eutyches. Fire itself seems to him cold in comparison with his burning zeal for religion. God knows I have besought him to desist; but, as he persisted, what could I do? Do you suppose that I have any wish to destroy you, and not rather gather you together? It is the act of an enemy to scatter, but the act of a father to gather."
The fifth session opened on Wed. Nov. 17, and as the result of its deliberations, Eutyches was informed that he would be expected on Nov. 22, and, if he failed to appear, would be deprived of his clerical functions and monastic dignity. A sixth session met on Sat. Nov. 20, and agreed that Eutyches might be accompanied on the Monday following by four friends. Eusebius said that when Mamas and Theophilus had visited Eutyches, the archimandrite used expressions not reported to the synod, but which threw great light on his opinions. At the request of the bishops, Theophilus narrated what had occurred. Eutyches, he said, had wished to argue with them, and in the presence of several of his monks had put these questions: "Where, in Holy Scripture, is there any mention of two natures? Which of the Fathers has declared that God the Word has two natures?" Mamas had replied that the argument from silence was insufficient. "The word ὁμοούσιος does not occur in Holy Scripture; we owe it to the definitions of the Fathers. And similarly we owe to them the affirmation of the two natures." Theophilus had then asked if Eutyches believed that God the Word was "perfect ( τέλειος ) in Christ," and "Do you believe that the man made flesh was also perfect (in Him)?" He answered "Yes" to both questions, whereupon Theophilus urged, "If in Christ be perfect God and perfect man, then do these perfect (natures) form the one Son. Why will you not allow that the one Son consists of two natures?" Eutyches replied: "God forbid that I should say that Christ consists of two natures, or dispute about the nature of God. Let the synod depose me, or do what they please. I will hold fast by the faith which I have received." Mamas substantiated the truth of this report, adding that what led to the discussion was a remark of Eutyches: "God the Word became flesh to restore fallen human nature," and the question which he (Mamas) had put: "By what nature, then, is this human nature taken up and restored?" Flavian naturally asked why this conversation had not been reported before: it was a lame but thoroughly Oriental answer to reply: "Because we had been sent, not to question Eutyches about his faith, but to summon him to the synod. We gave you his answer to the latter point. No one asked us about the former, and therefore we held our peace."
The seventh, last, and weightiest session met on Mon. Nov. 22. Eutyches at last presented himself, accompanied by a multitude of soldiers, monks, and others, who refused to allow him to enter till assured that he should depart as free as he entered. A letter from the emperor (Theodosius II.) was presented. "I wish," it said, "for the peace of the church, and steadfast adherence to the orthodox doctrines of the Fathers at Nicaea and Ephesus. And because I know that Florentius the patrician is a man approved in the faith, I desire that he should be present at the sessions of a synod which has to deal with matters of faith." The synod received the letter with shouts, "Long live the emperor! His faith is great! Long live our pious, orthodox, high-priest and emperor (τῷ ἀρχιερεῖ βασιλεῖ )." Florentius was conducted to his seat, the accuser (Eusebius) and the accused (Eutyches) took their places, and the session began by the recital of all the papers bearing on the point at issue. Cyril's letter to John of Antioch was again read, in which occurred the following: "We confess our Lord Jesus Christ . . . consubstantial with the Father, according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to the manhood; for a union of the two natures was made; wherefore we confess one Christ, one Son, one Lord. And in accordance with the perception of the unconfused union (τὴν τῆς ἀσυγχύτου ἑνώσεως ἔννοιαν ), we confess the Holy Virgin θεοτόκος , because God the Word was made flesh, and became man and united to Himself by conception the temple taken from her." Eusebius exclaimed, "Certainly Eutyches does not acknowledge this; he has never believed it, but taught the very opposite to every one who came to him." Florentius desired that Eutyches should be asked if he assented to these documents or not. Eutyches was interrogated; and when the archbishop put the plain question: "Do you confess that Christ is of two natures?" Eutyches answered, "I have never yet presumed to dispute about the nature of my God; that He is consubstantial with us have I never said. I readily admit that the Holy Virgin is consubstantial with us, and that our God was born of her flesh." Flavian, Florentius, Basil of Seleucia, and others, pressed upon him "If you admit that Mary is consubstantial with us, and that Christ took His manhood from her, it naturally follows that He, according to His manhood, is consubstantial with us." Eutyches answered: "I do not say that the body of man has become the body of God; but in speaking of a human body of God I say that the Lord became flesh of the Virgin. If you wish me to add that His body is consubstantial with ours, I will do so; but I cannot use the word consubstantial in such a manner as to deny that He is the Son of God." Flavian's retort was just: "You will then admit this from compulsion, and not because it is your belief." Finally, the synod desired Eutyches to make a full explanation, and to pronounce an anathema on opinions opposed to the documents which had been recited. Eutyches replied that he would, if the synod desired it, make use of language (viz. consubstantial with us, and of two natures) which, in his opinion, was very much open to question; "but," he added, "inasmuch as I do not find such language either in Holy Scripture or in the writings of the Fathers, I must decline to pronounce an anathema on those who do not accept it, lestâ€”in so doingâ€”I should be anathematizing the Fathers." Florentius asked: "Do you acknowledge two natures in Christ, and His consubstantiality with us?" "Cyril and Athanasius," answered Eutyches, "speak of two natures before the union, but of one nature after the union." "If you do not acknowledge two natures after the union," said Florentius, "you will be condemned. Whosoever refuses the formula 'of two natures' and the expression 'two natures' is unorthodox; "to which the synod responded with the cry, "And to receive this under compulsion (as would Eutyches) is not to believe in it. Long live the emperor!" The sentence was pronounced: "Eutyches, formerly priest and archimandrite, hath proved himself affected by the heresy of Valentinus and Apollinaris, and hath refusedâ€”in spite of our admonitionâ€”to accept the true faith. Therefore we, lamenting his perverseness, have decreed, through our Lord Jesus Christ, blasphemed by him, that he be excluded from all priestly functions, from our communion, and from his primacy in his monastery." Excommunication was pronounced upon all who should consort with and abet him, and the sentence was signed by 32 (? 28) bishops, and 23 archimandrites. Eutyches left the council-chamber muttering an appeal to Rome.
The monks rallied round Eutyches, and the influence of the minister Chrysaphius, his godson, was exerted in his behalf. Eutyches himself wrote to the emperor and to many of the bishops, and placarded notices about Constantinople, protesting against his sentence and justifying his teaching. Of his letters the most important is to pope Leo. In it he accuses Eusebius of acting at Satan's bidding, not in the interests of orthodoxy, but with the intention of destroying him. He repeats that he could not accede to the demands of the synod, acknowledge two natures in Christ, and anathematize all who opposed this doctrine, because Athanasius, Gregory, Julius, and Felix had rejected the expression "two natures," he himself having no wish to add to the creed of Nicaea and Ephesus, nor to define too particularly the nature of God the Word. He adds that he had desired the synod to lay the matter before the pope, promising to abide by his decision; but this not having been granted, he, being in great danger, now implored the pope to give an unprejudiced judgment, and to protect him.
Flavian, on his part, circulated the decree of excommunication. He charged the monks to obey it, and communicated it to the emperor, the pope, and provincial bishops. His interviews with the emperor were marked by great suspicion on the part of the latter; and his letter to Leo was forestalled by that of Eutyches and a second was required before the pope was satisfied. Leo eventually gave Eutyches his answer in the celebrated Epistola Dogmatica ad Flavianum .
Court favour inclined to Eutyches; and early in 449 the emperor appointed a commission to examine a charge of falsification of the acts of the late synod of Constantinople, proffered by Eutyches against Flavian. No such falsification was proved, and the commission had no choice but to confirm the sentence pronounced by the synod; but an agitation was thereby advanced, which was productive of the greatest misery.
A council had already been summoned by the emperor to meet at Ephesus. Eutyches and Dioscorus, patriarch of Alexandria, had demanded it, and their position had been supported by Chrysaphius. The imperial summons was in the names of Theodosius II. and Valentinian III., and was dated May 30, 449. It stated the cause of the summons to be the doubts and disputes which had arisen concerning the faith; it invited Dioscorus to present himself with ten metropolitans and ten bishops at Ephesus on Aug. 1; and it extended the invitation to other bishops, Theodoret of Cyrus (Kars) being exempted unless specially summoned by the council.
The synodâ€”the "Latrocinium," or "Robber Synod," as posterity was taught to call it by Leoâ€”first met on Aug. 8 449. "Flavian was presented as an oppressor and Eutyches as a victim and terrible was the day on which it opened. The true faith received in the East a shock from which it has never completely recovered since. The church witnessed the separation from herself of nations which have never returned to her and perhaps never will" (Martin). Leo was not present except by his legates who brought the famous tome or doctrinal letter to Flavian and letters to the emperor the archimandrites the council and others. In his letter to Theodosius (June 13 449) Leo expresses his regret that "the foolish old man" (Eutyches) had not given up opinions condemned by the synod of Constantinople and intimates his wish that the archimandrite should be received again if he would keep his promise to the pope and amend what was erroneous in his views. In the letter to Pulcheria (same date) the pope considers Eutyches to have fallen into his error "through want of knowledge rather than through wickedness"; to the archimandrites of Constantinople he states his conviction that they do not share the views of Eutyches and exhorts them to deal tenderly with him should he renounce his error; and to the synod he quotes the confession of St. Peter "Thou art the Christ the Son of the living God" (Mat_16:16) as embodying belief in the two natures and argues that if Eutyches had rightly understood these words he would not have swerved from the path of truth. In most of these Leo refers to the tome as containing the true teaching of the church.
A synod stigmatized as "a gang of robbers" was not likely to permit the recital of a document condemnatory of Eutyches, the man they were pledged to acquit. It was presented, but shelved.
For the history of the synod, in its relation to Eutyches, see Dioscorus. The Christian world was rent in pieces by its proceedings. Egypt, Thrace, and Palestine ranged themselves with Dioscorus and the emperor; Syria, Pontus, Asia, Rome, protested against the treatment of Flavian and the acquittal of Eutyches. Dioscorus excommunicated Leo, Leo Dioscorus. Theodosius applauded and confirmed the decisions of the synod in a decree which denounced Flavian, Eusebius, and others as Nestorians, forbad the elevation of their followers to episcopal rank, deposed them if already bishops, and expelled them from the country. Leo wrote to the emperor Theodosius, to the church at Constantinople, and to the anti-Eutychian archimandrites. He asked for a general council.
The wrangle was suddenly silenced by the death of Theodosius (July 450). Under Marcian orthodoxy triumphed again: "Eutychianism, as well as Nestorianism, was conquered" (Leo). Marcian assented at once and cordially to the pope's request for a council. Anatolius convened a synod of such bishops, archimandrites, priests, and deacons as were at Constantinople, and in the presence of the Roman legates subscribed the tome, and, together with the whole assembly, anathematized Eutyches, Nestorius, and their followers. Leo's wish for a council was not now so urgent. The danger had passed away. Eutychianism and Nestorianism had been anathematized; his own tome had been everywhere accepted; of more immediate importance, in his opinion, was the practical question, how best and most speedily to reconcile the penitent and to punish the obstinate. The war in the West, the invasion of Gaul by Attila, would prevent the bishops of the West from attending a council in Italy, where he wished it to be. Nestorianism was still powerful among the bishops of Syria, and would unquestionably bias the views of many, should a council be called in the East, as the emperor desired. He feared that the men who would unite for the condemnation of Eutychianism would find means for a triumph of Nestorianism over orthodoxy. But, in deference to the emperor's convictions, he consented to send representatives to the future council, while he urged that no fresh discussion should be allowed whether Eutyches was heretical or not, or whether Dioscorus had judged rightly or not, but that debate should turn upon the best means of reconciling and dealing mercifully with those who had gone wrong. For a similar reason he urged the emperor's wife, Pulcheria, to cause the removal of Eutyches from the neighbourhood of Constantinople, and to place an orthodox abbat at the head of his monastery.
The fourth great council of the church met at Chalcedon on Oct. 8, 451. For its general history see Dioscorus. During the first session the secretaries read the documents descriptive of the introduction of Eutyches at the synod of Ephesus (the Latrocinium) and the reading of his paper. At words attributing to Eutyches the statement, "The third general council (that of Ephesus, 431) hath directly forbidden any addition to the Nicene Creed," Eusebius of Dorylaeum exclaimed, "That is untrue." "You will find it in four copies," retorted Dioscorus. Diogenes of Cyzicus urged that Eutyches had not repeated the Nicene Creed as it then stood; for the second general council (Constantinople, 381) had certainly appended (against Apollinaris and Macedonius) to the words "He was incarnate," the words "by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary," though he considered this an explanation rather than an addition; but the Egyptian bishops present disclaimed (as Cyril had previously done) any such revised version of the Nicene confession and greeted the words of Diogenes with loud disapproval. Angry words were again interchanged when the reader continued: "I (Eutyches) anathematize all who say that the flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ came down from heaven." "True," interrupted Eusebius, "but Eutyches has never told us whence Christ did take His manhood; "and Diogenes and Basil of Seleucia affirmed that Eutyches, though pressed upon this point at Constantinople, had refused to speak out. Dioscorus now, and to his honour, protested: "Let Eutyches be not only punished, but burnt, if he holds heterodox opinions. I only care to preserve the Catholic faith, not that of any individual man"; and then he turned upon Basil for having said one thing at Constantinople and another at Ephesus. "I did so," pleaded Basil, "out of fear of the majority. Before a tribunal of magistrates I would have remained firm even to martyrdom; but I did not dare oppose (a tribunal of) the Fathers (or bishops)." This plea for pardon was adopted by the others. "Yes, we all sinned (at Ephesus); we all implore forgiveness."
At the 4th session (Oct. 17) 18 anti-Eutychian priests and archimandrites, headed by Faustus, were admitted. They were questioned about a petition addressed to Marcian previous to the opening of the council, by Carosus and other Eutychians, who styled themselves archimandrites. Faustus replied that only two of the petitioners (Carosus and Dorotheus) were archimandrites, the rest were men who lived in martyries or were unknown to them. The imperial commissioners commanded that Carosus and the others should be summoned. Twenty came, and then the petition was read. It was an impassioned appeal to the emperor to prevent an outbreak of schism, to summon a council, and meanwhile forbid the expulsion of any man from his church, monastery, or martyry. In a second document the Eutychians excused themselves for not having previously attended, on the ground that the emperor had forbidden it. "The emperor," it proceeded, "had assured them that at the council the creed of Nicaea only should be established, and that nothing should be undertaken previous to this." It urged that the condemnation of Dioscorus was inconsistent with the imperial promise; he and his bishops should therefore be again called to the council, and the present schism would be removed. If not, they declared that they would hold no communion with men who opposed the creed of the 318 Fathers at Nicaea. To prove their own orthodoxy they appended their signatures to that creed and to the Ephesian canon which confirmed it. Aetius, archdeacon of Constantinople, reminded these petitioners that church discipline required monks to accept from the bishops instructions in matters of faith. In the name of the council he demanded, "Do you assent to their decision or not?" "I abide by the creed of Nicaea," answered Carosus; "condemn me and send me into exile. . . . If Eutyches doth not believe what the Catholic church believes, let him be anathema." The appeal of Faustus and other anti-Eutychian archimandrites to the emperor was now ordered to be read. The Eutychian archimandrite Dorotheus immediately asserted the orthodoxy of Eutyches. The commissioners retorted, "Eutyches teaches that the body of the Redeemer is not "of like substance to ours. What say you to that?" Dorotheus avoided a direct answer by quoting the language of the Constantinopolitan creed in this form, "Incarnate of the Virgin and made man," and interpreting it in an anti-Nestorian sense; but he declined to attest the language used on this point by Leo of in his tome. The commissioners were now on the point of passing judgment, when the Eutychians asserted that the emperor had promised them an opportunity of fair debate with their opponents in his presence. It was necessary to ascertain the truth of this, and the sitting of Oct. 17 ended. On Oct. 20 the council met again. Alexander, the priest and periodeutes ("visitor," see Suicer, Theosaur. i. n.), who had been deputed to see the emperor informed the council that he and the decurion John had been sent by the emperor to the monks, with a message to the effect that had he (the emperor) considered himself able to decide the point in dispute, he would not have convened a council. "I now charge you," continued the emperor, "to attend the council and learn from them what you do not yet know. For what the holy general council determines, that I follow, that I rest in, and that I believe." The imperial language was greeted with loud acclamations. The Eutychians were granted 30 days' consideration, after which, should they remain contumacious, they would be deprived of ecclesiastical rank and office. From Leo's correspondence ( Epp. 136, 141, 142) it would seem that Carosus and Dorotheus persisted in their views and were ejected by Marcian from their monastery. On Oct. 22, in the 5th session, the memorable "Definition of faith agreed upon at the council of Chalcedon" was recited and received with the unanimous cry, "This is the faith of the Fathers; this is the faith of the Apostles. We all assent to it. We all think thus." It was signed by the metropolitan and by the imperial commissioners. After declaring the sufficiency of the wise and saving creed" of Nicaea and Constantinople, inasmuch as that creed taught "completely the perfect doctrine concerning the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and fully explained the Incarnation of the Lord to those who received it faithfully," it goes on to admit that some "dare to corrupt the mystery of the Lord's Incarnation, others ( i.e. the Eutychians) bring in a confusion and mixture ( σύγχυσιν καὶ κρᾶσιν ), and absurdly imagine the nature of the flesh and of the Godhead to be one, and teach the monstrous doctrine that the Divine nature of the Only-begotten was a commixture capable of suffering . . . Therefore the present holy, great, and oecumenical council . . . has added for the confirmation of the orthodox doctrines, the letter of Leo written to Flavian for the removal of the evil opinions (κακονοία ) of Eutyches. For it is directed against those who attempt to rend the mystery of the Incarnation into a duad of Sons; it repels from the sacred congregation those who dare to say that the Divinity of the Only-begotten is capable of suffering; it is opposed to those who imagine a mixture or confusion of the two natures of Christ; it drives away those who fancy that the form of a servant which was taken by Him of us is of an heavenly or any other substance; and it condemns those who speak of two natures of the Lord before the union, and feign one after the union. . . . We then," was the conclusion, "following the holy Fathers, all with one consent teach men to confess one and the same Son, one Lord Jesus Christ; the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a reasonable soul and body; consubstantial with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to the manhood; in all things like unto us without sin; begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, according to the Manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably (ἐν δύο φύσεσιν ἀσυγχύτως, ἀτρέπτως, ἀδιαιρέτως, ἀχωρίστως γνωριζόμενον ), the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one person and one hypostasis, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son and Only-begotten, God the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ, as the prophets from the beginning have declared concerning Him, and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself has taught us, and the creed of the holy Fathers has delivered to us." "Writing, composing, devising, or teaching any other creed" was declared unlawful, with penalties: "bishops and clergy were to be deposed, monks and laymen anathematized."
On Oct. 25 Marcian, accompanied by Pulcheria and the court, opened and closed the sixth session. In his address he explained that he appeared in person, as Constantine had done before him, not to overawe and coerce any, but to strengthen and confirm the faith: his efforts and prayers were alike directed to one end, that all might be one in true doctrine, hold the same religion, and honour the true Catholic faith. The archdeacon Aetius recited in his presence the confession of faith approved at the previous session, and when the emperor asked if it expressed the opinion of all, shouts arose from all sides, "This is the belief of us all! We are unanimous, and have signed it unanimously! We are all orthodox! This is the belief of the Fathers; this is the belief of the Apostles; this is the belief of the orthodox; this belief hath saved the world! Long live Marcian, the new Constantine, the new Paul, the new David! Long live Pulcheria, the new Helena!"
Imperial edicts speedily followed the close of the council (Nov. 1). One, dated Mar 13, 452, was especially directed against the Eutychians. They had persisted in disseminating their "foolishness" in spite of the council and the emperor. Marcian warned them that their contumacy would be sharply punished; and on July 28, Eutychians and Apollinarians were deprived of their priests and forbidden to hold meetings or live together in monasteries; they were to be considered incapable of inheriting property under a will or devising property to their co-sympathizers; and were to be reckoned unfit for military service. Eutychian priests who had seceded from their post in the church and the monks from Eutyches's own monastery were banished from Roman territory. Their writings were to be burnt, and the composer and circulator of such works was to be punished with confiscation of goods and with exile. Dioscorus and Eutyches were exiled, but the latter died probably before the sentence was carried into effect.
"With none of those who have been the authors of heresies among Christians was blasphemy the first intention; nor did they fall from the truth in a desire to dishonour the Deity, but rather from an idea which each entertained, that he should improve upon his predecessors by upholding such and such doctrines." These words of the church historian Evagrius (i. 11) follow his account of the second (i.e. the Robber) synod of Ephesus, which restored Eutyches. They express the belief of a judicially-trained mind within little more than 100 years after the events in question, and are in substance reproduced by "judicious" Hooker ( Eccl. Pol. v. c. 52). Cyril "had given instance in the body and soul of man no farther than only to enforce by example against Nestorius, that a visible and invisible, a mortal and an immortal substance, may united make one person." Eutyches and his followers took those words of Cyril "as though it had been his drift to teach, that even as in us the body and the soul, so in Christ God and man make but one nature . . . . He became unsound (in belief) by denying the difference which still continueth between the one and the other nature." It was "real, though erring reverence" which led him, in the first instance, to broach his opinions. His "narrow mind, stiffened by seclusion, and bewildered by harassing excitement" (Bright) was in no state in the day of his trial before the synod of Constantinople to perceive to what his teaching logically conducted, nor to accept the qualifications or paraphrases kindly offered. He passed away, but Eutychianism exists still (Pusey, Councils of the Church , p. 25). It never has and never will yield to edicts like those of Marcian. The right faith has been defined by the great council which opposed both it and Nestorianism. "We must keep warily a middle course, shunning both that distraction of Persons, wherein Nestorius went away, and also this latter confusion of natures, which deceived Eutyches" (Hooker). [See Monophysitism.]
Consult Mansi, Sacr. Conc. Collectio , vi. vii.; Tillem. MÃ©moires , etc. xv.; Bright, History of the Church (313-451); and other works mentioned above.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Wace, Henry. Entry for 'Eutyches and Eutychianism'. A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hwd/e/eutyches-and-eutychianism.html. 1911.
the Sixth Week after Easter