Eutyches

Eutyches

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Eutyches was a presbyter
Presbyter
Presbyter in the New Testament refers to a leader in local Christian congregations, then a synonym of episkopos...

 and archimandrite
Archimandrite
The title Archimandrite , primarily used in the Eastern Orthodox and the Eastern Catholic churches, originally referred to a superior abbot whom a bishop appointed to supervise...

 at Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

. He first came to notice in 431 at the First Council of Ephesus, for his vehement opposition to the teachings of Nestorius
Nestorius
Nestorius was Archbishop of Constantinople from 10 April 428 to 22 June 431.Drawing on his studies at the School of Antioch, his teachings, which included a rejection of the long-used title of Theotokos for the Virgin Mary, brought him into conflict with other prominent churchmen of the time,...

; his condemnation of Nestorianism
Nestorianism
Nestorianism is a Christological doctrine advanced by Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople from 428–431. The doctrine, which was informed by Nestorius's studies under Theodore of Mopsuestia at the School of Antioch, emphasizes the disunion between the human and divine natures of Jesus...

 as heresy precipitated his being denounced as a heretic himself.

Controversy


The Archbishop of Constantinople
Patriarch of Constantinople
The Ecumenical Patriarch is the Archbishop of Constantinople – New Rome – ranking as primus inter pares in the Eastern Orthodox communion, which is seen by followers as the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church....

 — Nestorius
Nestorius
Nestorius was Archbishop of Constantinople from 10 April 428 to 22 June 431.Drawing on his studies at the School of Antioch, his teachings, which included a rejection of the long-used title of Theotokos for the Virgin Mary, brought him into conflict with other prominent churchmen of the time,...

, having asserted that Mary ought not to be referred to as the "Mother of God" (Theotokos
Theotokos
Theotokos is the Greek title of Mary, the mother of Jesus used especially in the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Catholic Churches. Its literal English translations include God-bearer and the one who gives birth to God. Less literal translations include Mother of God...

in Greek, literally "God-bearer"), was denounced as a heretic; in combating this assertion of Patriarch Nestorius, Eutyches declared that Christ
Christ
Christ is the English term for the Greek meaning "the anointed one". It is a translation of the Hebrew , usually transliterated into English as Messiah or Mashiach...

 was "a fusion of human and divine elements", causing his own denunciation as a heretic twenty years after the First Council of Ephesus at the 451 AD Council of Chalcedon
Council of Chalcedon
The Council of Chalcedon was a church council held from 8 October to 1 November, 451 AD, at Chalcedon , on the Asian side of the Bosporus. The council marked a significant turning point in the Christological debates that led to the separation of the church of the Eastern Roman Empire in the 5th...

.

According to Nestorius, Jesus was born a mere man to Mary, and only subsequently became imbued with a divine nature. In opposition to this, Eutyches inverted the assertion to the opposite extreme, asserting that human nature and divine nature were combined into the single nature of Christ: that of the incarnate Word
Jesus Christ the Logos
In Christology, the conception that the Christ is the Logos has been important in establishing the doctrine of the divinity of Jesus Christ and his position as God the Son in the Trinity as set forth in the Chalcedonian Creed.The conception derives from the opening of the Gospel of John, commonly...

. This would imply that Jesus' human body was essentially different from other human bodies. In this he went beyond Cyril of Alexandria
Cyril of Alexandria
Cyril of Alexandria was the Patriarch of Alexandria from 412 to 444. He came to power when the city was at its height of influence and power within the Roman Empire. Cyril wrote extensively and was a leading protagonist in the Christological controversies of the later 4th and 5th centuries...

 and the Alexandrine
Alexandrine
An alexandrine is a line of poetic meter comprising 12 syllables. Alexandrines are common in the German literature of the Baroque period and in French poetry of the early modern and modern periods. Drama in English often used alexandrines before Marlowe and Shakespeare, by whom it was supplanted...

 school who, although they expressed the unity of the two natures in Christ so as almost to nullify their duality, took care verbally to guard themselves against the accusation of in any way diminishing the humanity of Christ.

Career


Eutyches in fact denied that Christ's humanity was limited or incomplete, putting him perfectly in line with Alexandrine doctrine, but the energy and imprudence with which he asserted his opinions led to his being misunderstood. He was accused of heresy by Domnus II of Antioch
Domnus II of Antioch
Domnus II, Patriarch of Antioch of the heavily religious Eastern Roman Empire, and a friend of the influential Saint Theodoret Bishop of Cyrrhus. He was nephew of John I, Patriarch of Antioch, brought up under Euthymius the famous hermit of Palestine. He was ordained deacon by Juvenal of Jerusalem...

 and Eusebius, bishop of Dorylaeum
Eusebius of Dorylaeum
Eusebius of Dorylaeum was a 5th-century bishop who spoke out against heretical teachings, especially those of Nestorius and Eutyches, during the period of Christological controversy. He was bishop of Dorylaeum which is located in Phrygia . The name Eusebius may also be found as Eusebios which...

, at a synod presided over by Flavian at Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

 in 448. His explanations deemed unsatisfactory, the council deposed him from his priestly office and excommunicated him.

In 449, however, at the Second Council of Ephesus
Second Council of Ephesus
The Second Council of Ephesus was a church synod in 449 AD. It was convoked by Emperor Theodosius II as an ecumenical council but because of the controversial proceedings it was not accepted as ecumenical, labelled a Robber Synod and later repudiated at the Council of Chalcedon.-The first...

 convened by Dioscorus of Alexandria
Dioscorus of Alexandria
Pope Dioscorus I of Alexandria was Patriarch of Alexandria from 444. He was deposed by the Council of Chalcedon in 451 but was recognized as Patriarch by the Coptic Church until his death. He died in Asia Minor, on September 17, 454...

, overawed by the presence of a large number of Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

ian monks, not only was Eutyches reinstated to his office, but Eusebius, Domnus and Flavian, his chief opponents, were deposed, and the Alexandrine doctrine of the "one nature" received the sanction of the church. This judgment is the more interesting as being in distinct conflict with the opinion of the bishop of Rome—Leo
Pope Leo I
Pope Leo I was pope from September 29, 440 to his death.He was an Italian aristocrat, and is the first pope of the Catholic Church to have been called "the Great". He is perhaps best known for having met Attila the Hun in 452, persuading him to turn back from his invasion of Italy...

—who, departing from the policy of his predecessor Celestine
Pope Celestine I
Pope Saint Celestine I was elevated to the papacy in the year 422, on November 3 according to the Liber Pontificalis, but on April 10 according to Tillemont....

, had written very strongly to Flavian in support of the doctrine of the two natures and one person.

Meanwhile the emperor Theodosius II
Theodosius II
Theodosius II , commonly surnamed Theodosius the Younger, or Theodosius the Calligrapher, was Byzantine Emperor from 408 to 450. He is mostly known for promulgating the Theodosian law code, and for the construction of the Theodosian Walls of Constantinople...

 died, and Pulcheria
Pulcheria
Aelia Pulcheria was the daughter of Eastern Roman Emperor Arcadius and Empress Aelia Eudoxia. She was the second child born to Arcadius and Eudoxia. Her oldest sister was Flaccilla born in 397, but is assumed she had died young. Her younger siblings were Theodosius II, the future emperor and...

 and Marcian
Marcian
Marcian was Byzantine Emperor from 450 to 457. Marcian's rule marked a recovery of the Eastern Empire, which the Emperor protected from external menaces and reformed economically and financially...

 who succeeded summoned, in October 451, a council (the fourth ecumenical
Council of Chalcedon
The Council of Chalcedon was a church council held from 8 October to 1 November, 451 AD, at Chalcedon , on the Asian side of the Bosporus. The council marked a significant turning point in the Christological debates that led to the separation of the church of the Eastern Roman Empire in the 5th...

) which met at Chalcedon
Chalcedon
Chalcedon , sometimes transliterated as Chalkedon) was an ancient maritime town of Bithynia, in Asia Minor, almost directly opposite Byzantium, south of Scutari . It is now a district of the city of Istanbul named Kadıköy...

. There the synod of Ephesus was declared to have been a "robber synod," its proceedings were annulled, and, in accordance with the rule of Leo as opposed to the doctrines of Eutyches, it was declared that the two natures were united in Christ, but without any alteration, absorption or confusion. Eutyches died in exile, but of his later life nothing is known.

After his death his doctrines obtained the support of the Empress Aelia Eudocia
Aelia Eudocia
Aelia Eudocia Augusta was the wife of Theodosius II, and a prominent historical figure in understanding the rise of Christianity during the beginning of the Byzantine Empire. Eudocia lived in a world where Greek paganism and Christianity were still coming together...

 and made considerable progress in Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

. In the 6th century, they received a new impulse from a monk of the name of Jacob Baradaeus
Jacob Baradaeus
Jacob Baradaeus was Bishop of Edessa from 543 until his death. One of the most important figures in the history of the Syriac Orthodox Church, and the Oriental Orthodox churches generally, he was a defender of the Monophysite movement in a time when its strength was declining...

, who united the various divisions into which the Eutychians, or Monophysites, had separated into one church, which exists today under the name of the Syriac Orthodox Church
Syriac Orthodox Church
The Syriac Orthodox Church; is an autocephalous Oriental Orthodox church based in the Eastern Mediterranean, with members spread throughout the world. The Syriac Orthodox Church claims to derive its origin from one of the first Christian communities, established in Antioch by the Apostle St....

. There are also many adherents of the similar miaphysite doctrine in Armenia
Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

, Egypt and Ethiopia
Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...

 (also in the Oriental Orthodox communion), who are often erroneously called "Monophysites" even though they do not, and never have, followed Eutyches.