INTELLECTUAL BATTLE BETWEEN TWO SCHOOLS VOL. 5 NO. 25

It was a remarkable battle between the school of Alexiandria and the school of Antioch on the humanity and divinity of Christ. The controversy had to do with the possibility of interchanging the attributes of Christ without falling into heresy. That is, whether one could say that God suffered on the cross (as some liturgies did) or that Jesus created the world. The Alexandrian school favoured the possibility of such expression whereas the Antiochene school rejected such thought as heretical. However, the council of Ephesus in 431AD could not bring peace between the two schools.
Worse still, Dioscoros, the supporter of Eutyches and adversary of Flavian, as the patriarch of Alexandria, was looking for a way to secure a definitive triumph for the Alexiandrian Christology and discredit the Antiochene school. So, he found a perfect tool in Eutyches, a monk of Constantinople but a partisan of the Alexandrian theology. Dioscoros counted on his friend Chrysaphius, the Emperor’s trusted adviser, to bring matters to a favourable conclusion. The Emperor therefore called a council together at Ephesus in 449AD and appointed Dioscoros to preside. Backed by an army of monks, favoured by the Emperor and supported by most of the 130 bishops present. Dioscoros had everything his own way. The bishops listened to Eutyches. Recite his grievances against Flavian, their opponent, and then applauded his confession; “Two natures before the union, after the union, one nature.” The implication of this confession could therefore mean that it is the same God who created the whole universe that also died on the cross using the same nature.
In furtherance, Dioscoros proceeded against Flavian, whom he accused of charging the faith of Nicaea and Ephesus by adding his doctrine of the “two natures,” that is, God is both human and divine. Sentence of deposition was therefore passed against Flavian; those bishops who were reluctant to sign it were compelled to do so by soldiers amid scenes of violence and disorder. Flavian was treated as a prisoner, and after four days as the story had it, the rough handling he received led to his death.
Moreover, it could be recalled that at the beginning of the struggle between Dioscoros and Flavian, Pope Leo studied the matter and decided in favour of Flavian. When word finally reached Leo of the goings on at the council of Ephesus, he was outraged. He dubbed Dioscoros’s council a Latrocinium meaning synod of robbers. He (Pope Leo) therefore wrote a strong letter to Emperor Theodosius to hold a general council to redress the injury inflicted on the church’s doctrine by the robber synod organized in favour of the heresy of Dioscoros and Eutyches. The Pope had little success with the Emperor, who declared the question settled. But through the Emperor’s sister, Pulcheria, who got married to Theodosius’ successor, Marcian, another council was called to settle the issue along the lines of Leo’s time.
In obedience to the Emperor, more than five hundred bishops, (the longest so far during those periods met a chalcedon on October 8, 451AD. They filled the magnificient basilica of St. Euphemia under the watchful eyes of eighteen imperial commissioners. At the insistence of the Papal legates who presided, Dioscoros was seated among the accused. So, the Acts of Flavian’s synod of Constantinople were read, followed by the Acts of the “robbers’ synod.” The atmosphere was one of extreme tension.
The trial of Dioscoros lasted well into the night, and candles had to be brought in. as more and more evidence were unfolded on the treacherous and violent methods used by Dioscoros to gain his triumph at Ephesus, his supporters gradually deserted him until he was left with only twelve bishops. Sentence of deposition was finally leveled against him by the papal legates present, derive him (Dioscoros) of his episcopal office and of all sacerdotal dignity.” When Leo’s Tome was read to them, they cried: This is the faith of the Fathers and of the Apostles. This we all believe. Peter has spoken through Leo; thus Cyril taught; Leo and Cyril teach the same; anathema to him who teaches otherwise …” Then, they all followed Leo in stating that two natures are united without change, and without division and without confusion in Christ.
In sum, Leo has won a great dogmatic victory, but he failed to unite Christendom. Two Schisms occurred. This is because, the Nestorians rejected the formular of Chalcedon. For them, it confused the relations of the divine persons within the Trinity. Again, the Monophystantial with ours. Even the Byzantines themselves for a longtime tended to interpret Chalcedon in a promonophysite sense, due to political reasons. The misunderstanding continued to bedevil the relations between the two sees (that is the Easter and Western Christendom), and finally led to the schism of the Middle ages

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