Open main menu

Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 10.djvu/829

This page needs to be proofread.


NESTORIUS


757


NESTORIUS


for St. Cyril was always a diffuse writer, and his soli- tary attempt at brevity needs to be read in connexion with the w<nk which it summarizes.

Tlie aiKillic'iiKitisiiis were at once attacked, on be- half of Jiilui, Patriarch of Antioch, in defence of the Autiocliene School, by Andrew of Samosata and the great Theodoret of Cyrus. The former wrote at An- tioch; his objections were adopted by a synod held there, and were sent to Cyril as the official view of all the Oriental bishops. St. Cyril published separate replies to these two antagonists, treating Andrew with more respect than Theodoret, to whom he is com- temptuous and sarcastic. The latter was doubtless the superior of the Alexandrian in talent and learning, but at this time he was no match for him as a theolo- gian. Both Andrew and Theodoret show themselves captious and imfair; at best they sometimes prove that St. Cyril'.s wording is ambiguous and ill-chosen. They uphold Ihr olijcctionable Antiochene phraseol- ogy, and they reject the hypostatic union (fi-wiris Had vTToaTaaiv) as well as the ^wiatj; eVwffis as Unorthodox and unscriptural. The latter expression is indeed unsuitable, and may be misleading. Cyril had to ex- plain that he was not summarizing or defining the faith about the Incarnation, but simply putting to- gether the principal errors of Nestorius in the heretic's own words. In his books against Nestorius he had occasionally misrepresented him, but in the twelve anathematisms he gave a perfectly faithful picture of Nestorius's view, for in fact Nestorius did not disown the propositions, nor did Andrew of Samosata or Theodoret refuse to patronize any of them. The anath- ematisms were certainly in a general way approved of by the Council of Ephesus, but they have never been formally adopted by the Church. Nestorius for his part replied by a set of twelve contra-anathema- tisms. Some of them are directed against St. Cyril's teaching, others attack errors which St. Cyril did not dream of teaching, for example that Christ's Human Nature became through the union uncreated and with- out beginning, a silly conclusion which was later as- cribed to the sect of Monophysites called Actisteta;. On the whole, Nestorius's new programme emphasized his old position, as also did the violent sermons which he preached against St. Cyril on Saturday and Sun- day, 13 and 14 December, 430. We have no difficulty in defining the doctrine of Nestorius so far as words are concerned: Mary did not bring forth the Godhead as such (true) nor the Word of God (false), but the organ, the temple of the Godhead. The man Jesus Christ is this temple, "the animated purple of the King", as he expresses it in a passage of sustained eloquence. The Incarnate God did not suffer nor die, but raised up from the dead him in whom He was incarnate. The Word and the Man are to be worslujiped together, and he adds: 5id t6v ipopovvra rbv <popoOn€vov a(jiu (Through Him that bears I worship Him Who is borne). If St. Paul speaks of the Lord of Glory lieing crucified, he means the man by "the Lord of Glory". There are two natures, he says, and one person; but the two na- tures are regularly spoken of as though they were two persons, and the sayings of Scripture about Christ are to be appropriated some to the Man, some to the Word. If Mary is called the Mother of God, she will be made into a goddess, and the Gentiles will be scan- dalized.

This is all bad enough as far as words go. But did not Nestorius mean better than his words? The Ori- ental bishops were certainly not all disbelievers in the unity of subject in the Incarnate Christ, and in fact St. Cyril made peace with them in 433. One may point to the fact that Nestorius emphatically declared that there is one Christ and one Son, and St. Cyril himself has preserved for us some passages from his sermons which the saint admits to be perfectly ortho- dox, and therefore wholly inconsistent with the rest. For example: "Great is the mystery of the gifts! For


this visible infant, who seems so young, who needs swaddling clothes for His body, who in the substance which we see is newly born, is the Eternal Son, as it is written, the Son who is the Maker of all, the Son who binds together in the swathing-bands of His assisting power the whole creation which would otherwise be dissolved." And again: "Even the infant is the all- powerful God, so far, O Arius, is God the Word from being subject to God." And: "We recognize the hu- manity of the infant, and His Divinity; the unity of His Sonship we guard in the nature of humanity and divinity." It will probably be only just to Nestorius to admit that he fully intended to safeguard the unity of subject in Christ. But he gave wrong exiilanations as to the unity, and his teaching logically led to two Christs, though he would not have admitted the fact. Not only his words are misleading, but tin- doctrine which underlies his words is misleading, and tends to destroy the whole meaning of the Incarnation. It is impossible to deny that teaching as well as wording which leads to such consequences is heresy. He was therefore unavoidably condemned. He reiterated the same view twenty years later in the "Bazaar of Heraclides", which shows no real change of opinion, although he declares his adherence to the Tome of St. Leo.

After the council of 431 had been made into a law by the emperor, the Antiochene party would not at once give way. But the council was confirmed by Pope Sixtus III, who had succeeded St. Celestine, and it was received by the whole West. Antioch was thus iso- lated, and at the same time St. Cyril showed himself ready to make explanations. The Patriarchs of An- tioch and Alexandria agreed upon a "creed of union" in 433 (see Eutychianism). Andrew of Samosata and some others would not accept it, but declared the word BcotSkos to be heretical. Theodoret held a council at Zeugma which refused to anathematize Nestorius. But the prudent Bishop of Cyrus after a time perceived that in the "creed of union" Antioch gained more than did Alexandria; so he accepted the somewhat hollow compromise. He says himself that he commended the person of Nestorius whilst he anathe- matized his doctrine. A new state of things arose when the death of St. Cyril, in 444, took away his re- straining hand from his intemperate followers. The friend of Nestorius, Count Irena'us, had become Bishop of Tyre, and he was persecuted by the Cyril- lian party, as was Ibas, Bishop of Edessa (q. v.), who had been a great teacher in that city. These bishops, together with Theodoret and Domnus, the nephew and successor of John of Antioch, were deposed by Dioscorus of Alexandria in the Robber Covuicil of Ephesus (449). Ibas was full of Antiochene theology, but in his famous letter to Maris the Persian he disap- proves of Nestorius as well as of Cyril, and at the Council of Chalcedon he was willing to cry a thousand anathemas to Nestorius. He and Theodoret were both restored by that council, and both seem to have taken the view that St. Leo's Tome was a rehabilita- tion of the Antiochene theology. The same view was taken by the Monophysites, who looked upon St. Leo as the opponent of St. Cyril's teaching. Nestorius in his exile rejoiced at this reversal of Roman policy, as he thought it. Loofs, followed by many writers even among Catholics, is of the same opinion. But St. Leo him.self believed that he was completing and not un- doing the work of the Council of Ephesus, and as a fact his teaching is but a clearer form of St. Cyril's earlier doctrine as exposed in the five books against Nestorius. But it is true that St. Cyril's later phrase- ology, of which the two letters to Succensus are the type, is based upon the formula which he felt himself bound to adopt from an .\polIinarian treatise believed to be by his great predeces.sor .\thanasius: fiia (j>6<rti ToS OeoS A670U a-effapKi^rr). St. Cyril found this for- mula an awkward one, as his treatment of it shows,