The Church in Ancient Society: From Galilee to Gregory the Great

By Henry Chadwick | Go to book overview
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53 The Christological Debate, III: From the Second Council of Ephesus (449) to Chalcedon (451)

Dioscorus of Alexandria was deeply convinced that in his Twelve Anathemas his predecessor Cyril, despite later shilly-shallying, had seen the truth about the person of Christ and expressed it in ways that no good Christian could criticize. Cyril's concessions to Antioch were a mistake which now needed rectification. Through the Constantinopolitan archimandrite Eutyches, this view found a sympathetic ear in the hugely powerful eunuch chamberlain Chrysaphios, and therefore with Theodosius II.


Theodoret Confined to Cyrrhos

The direction of imperial policy was revealed in 448 when an order confined Theodoret to his diocese. As he had expended much money on fine public buildings and bridges in his city, making it attractive to pilgrims visiting the local shrine of the saints Cosmas and Damian, he was naturally upset. The order made ruffians at Cyrrhos unwilling to obey their bishop (ep. 79). Theodoret was prominent for his forthright criticism of Cyril's Twelve Anathemas as well as for his friendship with Nestorius, and the drama of Eutyches' confrontation with Flavian moved him to compose a general critique of Alexandrian Christology in the form of three dialogues entitled Eranistes. This title meant a person piecing together a garment from discarded rags, i.e. abandoned heresies. Each dialogue was fortified by a florilegium of weighty citations from orthodox authors. 1

An element in Theodoret's argument, noteworthy because found congenial by Pope Gelasius (492-6) in his treatise 'On the two natures' (14, p. 541 Thiel), reasoned from the analogy of the eucharistic presence. The heretic Eranistes argues that just as the epiklesis by the priest changes the antitypes or symbols of the Lord's body and blood, so the Lord's body was transformed

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