The Acts of the Council of Chalcedon - Vol. 2

The Acts of the Council of Chalcedon - Vol. 2

The Acts of the Council of Chalcedon - Vol. 2

The Acts of the Council of Chalcedon - Vol. 2


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 second session, held on 10 October 451, was the first session on ‘how to confirm the true faith’ (II. 2). the emperor’s chief representative, the patrician Anatolius, who chaired this and most of the sessions of the council, proposed the setting up of a committee of bishops to draft a definition of the faith. the bishops responded with apparently unanimous opposition, which the chairman simply ignored, declaring that his proposal would be put into effect; this is a striking instance of the way that imperial policy rather than episcopal wishes dominated the proceedings of the council. the session was largely taken up by the reading of a series of credal and dogmatic documents, including the Tome of Leo; the supporters of miaphysite (onenature) Christology criticized certain of its statements, which its apologists defended by citing similar statements in Cyril of Alexandria, whose unique authority in Christology was taken for granted throughout the council.


The second or ‘corrected’ edition of the Latin text of the Acts, as well as that of Rusticus, gives the session of 10 October (on the faith) as the second act of the council and that of 13 October (the trial of Dioscorus) as the third. the Greek version, however, and also the first edition of the Latin (versio antiqua), reverse the order though not the dates; the purpose of this was to achieve a logical sequence, with the acts that dealt with Dioscorus (I and iii in our numeration) coming before the acts of the sessions (II, iv, V, VI) that dealt with the faith. We follow the chronological order given in most of the Latin witnesses, with the session on the faith of 10 October as the second session.

It has occasionally been suggested that the order in the Greek Acts is in fact chronologically correct, with the trial of Dioscorus preceding the first of the sessions on the faith, and that it is the dates of the sessions that are in . . .

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