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Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 10.djvu/828

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NESTORIUS


756


NESTORIUS


dorus wiis a holy man. iiuich venerated by St. John Chrysostom. Theodore, however, Wiis condemned in person lis well as in hi.s writings by the Fifth General Coimcil, in 5.53. Inoppo-sition tomany of the Arians, who taught that in the Incarnation the Son of God a--^<unied a human body in which His Divine Na- ture took the place of soul, and to the followers of Apollinarius of Laodicea, who held that the Di- vine Nature supplied the functions of the higher or intellectual .«oul, (he Antiochenes insisted upon the completeness of the humanity which the Word assumed. Unfortunately, they represented this hu- man nature as a complete m.an, and represented the Incarnation as the assumption of a man by the Word. The same way of speaking was common enough in Latin wTiters {assumere hominem, homo as- sumplus) and was meant by them in an orthodox sense; we still sing in the Te Deum: "Tu ad liberan- dum suscepturus hominem", where we must under- stand "ad liberandtmi hominem, humanam naturam suscepisti". But the Antiochene writers did not mean that the "man assumed" (o Xij^Scis ApOpairos) was taken up into one hypostasis with the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. They preferred to speak of o-ura^efa, "junction", rather than ^i-Mffis, " unifi- cation", and said that the two were one person in dignity and power, and must be worshipped together. The word person in its Greek form Trpbawrrov might Btand for a juridical or fictitious unity: it does not necessarily imply what the word person implies to us, that is, the unity of the subject of consciousness and of all the internal and external activities. Hence we are not surprised to find that Diodorus admitted two Sons, and t hat Theodore practically made two Christs, and yet that they cannot be proved to have really made two subjects in Christ. Two things are certain : first, that, whether or no they believed in the unity of subject in the Incarnate Word, at least they explained that unity wrongly; secondly, that they used most un- fortunate and misleading language when they spoke of the union of the Manhood with the Godhead — ■ language which is objectively heretical, even were the intention of its authors good.

Xestorius, as well as Theodore, repeatedly insisted that he did not admit two Christs or two Sons, and he frequently asserted the unity of the trpbaoiirov. On ar- riving at Constantinople he came to the conclusion that the very different theology which he found rife there was a form of Arian or Apollinarian error. In this he was not wholly wrong, as the outbreak of Euty- chianism twenty years later may be held to prove. In the first months of his pontificate he was implored by the Pelagian .Julian of Eclanum and other expelled bishops of his party to recognize their orthodoxy and obtain their restoration. He wrote at least three letters to the pope, St. Celestine I, to inquire whether these petitioners had been duly condemned or not, but he received no reply, not (as has been too often repeated) because the pope imagined he did not re- spect the condemnation of the Pelagians by himself and by the Western emperor, but because he added in his letters, which are extant, denunciations of the sup- posed Arians and Apollinarians of Constantinople, and in 80 doing gave clear signs of the Antiochene errors soon to be known as Nestorian. In particular he denounced those who employed the word 9«ot6tos, though he was ready to admit the use of it in a certain sense: "Ferri tamen potest hoc vocabulum propter ipsuin considerationem, quod solum nominetur de vir- gine hoc verbum hoc proi)ter inseparabile templum Dei Verbi ex ipsa, non quia mater .sit Dei Verbi; nemo enirn antiquiorem se parit." Such an admission is worse than useless, for it involves the whole error that the Ble.s.sed Virgin is not the mother of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. It is therefore unfortu- nate that Ijoofs and others who defend Nestorius should appeal to the frequency with which he repeated


that he could accept the fffordKos if only it was properly understood. In the saini- letter he speaks quite cor- rectly of the "two Natures which are adored in the one Person of the Gnly-begotten by a jjerfect and im- confused conjunction", but this could not palliate his mistake that the Blessed Virgin is mother of one na- ture, not of the person (a son is necessarily a per.son not a nature), nor the fallacy: "No one can bring forth a son older than herself". The deacon Leo, who was twenty years later as pope to define the whole doctrine, gave these letters to John Cassian of Marseilles, who at once wrote against Nestorius his seven books, "De incarnatione Christi". Before he had completed the work he had further obtained some sermons by Nestorius, from which he quotes in flic later books. He misunderstands and exaggerates the teaching of his opponent, but his treatise is important because it stereotyped once for all a doctrine which the Western world was to accept as Nestoriatusui. After explaining that the new heresy was a renewal of Pelagianism and Ebionitism, Cassian represents the Constantinoplitan patriarch as teaching that Christ is a mere man {homo solilarius) who merited union with the Divinity as the reward of His Pa.ssion. Cas- sian himself brings out quite clearly both the unity of person and the distinction of the two natures, yet the formula "Two Natures .and one Person" is less plainly enunciated by him than by Nestorius himself, and the discussion is wanting in clear-cut distinctions and definitions.

Meanwhile Nestorius was being attacked by his own clergy and simultaneously by St. Cyril, Patriarch of Alexandria, who first denounced him, though with- out giving a name, in an epistle to all the monks of Egypt, then remonstrated with him personally by letter, and finally wrote to the pope. Loots is of the opinion that Nestorius would never have been dis- turbed but for St. Cyril. But there is no reason to connect St. Cyril with the opposition to the here- siarch at Constantinople and at Rome. His rivals Philip of Side and Proclus and the layman Eusebius (afterwards Bishop of Dorylseum), as well as the Roman Leo, seem to have acted without any impulse from Alexandria. It might have been expected that Pope Celestine would specify certain heresies of Nestorius and condemn them, or issue a definition of the traditional faith which was being endangered. LTnfortunately, he did nothing of the kind. St. Cyril had sent to Rome his correspondence with Nestorius, a collection of that Patriarch's sermons, and a work of his own which he had just composed, consisting of five books "Contra Nestorium". The pope had them translated into Latin, and then, after asseinbling the customary council, contented himself with giving a general condemnation of Nestorius and a general approval of St. Cyril's conduct, whilst he delivered the execution of this vague decree to Cyril, who as Patriarch of Alexandria was the hereditary enemy both of the Antiochene theologian and the Constanti- noplitan bishop. Nestorius was to be summoned to recant within ten days. The sentence was as harsh as can well be imagined. St. Cjril saw himself obliged to draw up a form for the recantation. With the help of an Egyptian council he formulated a set of twelve anathematisms which simply epitomize the errors he had pointed out in his five books "Against Nestorius", for the pope appeared to have agreed with the doctrine of that work. It is most important to notice th.nt up to this point St. Cyril had not rested Iiis cascupim .Ap- ollinarian documents and had not adciplcd llic Apolli- narian formula /i(a (fiiais ataapKufiiv-q from Pseiido- Athanasius. He does not teach in so many words "two natures after the union", but his work against Nestoriu.s, with the depth and precision of St. Leo, is an admirable exposition of Catholic doctrine, worthy of a Doctor of the Church, and far surpassing the treatise of Cassian. The twelve anathematisms are less happy,