The Acts of the Council of Chalcedon - Vol. 1

The Acts of the Council of Chalcedon - Vol. 1

The Acts of the Council of Chalcedon - Vol. 1

The Acts of the Council of Chalcedon - Vol. 1


The Council of Chalcedon in 451 was a defining moment in the Christological controversies that tore apart the churches of the Eastern Roman Empire in the fifth and sixth centuries. Theological division, political rivalry and sectarian violence combined to produce what ultimately became separate Chalcedonian and non-Chalcedonian churches, a schism that persists to this day. Whether seen as a milestone in the development of orthodox doctrine or as a divisive and misguided cause of schism, Chalcedon is chiefly remembered for its Definition of Faith, a classic expression of Christian belief in Christ as both God and man. The council also dealt with other contentious issues relating to individuals and to the rights of various sees; its famous Canon 28 was crucial in the development of the patriarchate of Constantinople. Little attention, however, has been devoted to the process by which these results were reached, the day-by-day deliberations of the council as revealed in its Acts. These are particularly illuminating for the politics of the late antique church and its relations with the civil power, and contain moments of high drama. This edition, based on both the Greek and Latin versions of the Acts, is the first translation in a modern western language, and the first annotated edition. In addition to the minutes, it includes a selection of the attendant documentation, relating to imperial policy and the stance of the papacy.


The Acts of the Council of Chalcedon (AD 451) must be one of the longest surviving texts from the ancient world, and they make the council itself possibly the best-documented event in Roman, or early church, history. They are extremely revealing for the politics of the council, the role of the emperor and his officials, the concerns and loyalties of the bishops, and a host of matters relating to church affairs. They are not rich in theological debate, but they remain the essential source for determining what the bishops themselves intended when they approved the Definition of the Faith and the other decrees. It is hoped that this, the first fully annotated edition and the first complete translation into a modern western language, will stimulate interest in this imposing and revealing document.

Authorship and acknowledgements

The division of labour between the two authors was as follows. the translation is the work of Richard M. Price, on the basis of a first draft of the greater part of the text by Michael Gaddis. the General Introduction is by Gaddis, except for Section V, ‘The Theology of Chalcedon’, which is by Price. the introductions, commentaries and footnotes to each section of text, the glossary, and the indices are by Price. of the two appendices, the first on ‘The Documentary Collections’ is by Gaddis, and the second on ‘Attendance and Ecumenicity’ is by Price.

Acknowledgements are owed to our predecessors. the Greek version of Sessions I to vi was fluently and accurately rendered into French by that expert translator A.J. Festugière. Even more impressive is the prerevolutionary Russian version, which translates the whole text and indeed

As observed by Ste. Croix, ‘The Council of Chalcedon’.

Ephèse et Chalcédoine (Paris, 1982), and Actes du Concile de Chalcédoine: Sessions III– vi (Geneva, 1983).

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