Second Council of Constantinople

Last updated
Second Council of Constantinople
Date553
Accepted by
Previous council
Council of Chalcedon
Next council
Third Council of Constantinople
Convoked byEmperor Justinian I
President Eutychius of Constantinople
Attendance152 [1]
Topics Nestorianism
Origenism
Documents and statements
14 canons on Christology and against the Three Chapters. 15 canons condemning the teaching of Origen and Evagrius.
Chronological list of ecumenical councils

The Second Council of Constantinople is the fifth of the first seven ecumenical councils recognized by both the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church. It is also recognized by the Old Catholics and others. Protestant opinions and recognition of it are varied. Some Protestants, such as Calvinists and Lutherans, recognize the first four councils, [2] whereas most Anglo-Catholics accept all seven. Constantinople II was convoked by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I under the presidency of Patriarch Eutychius of Constantinople. It was held from 5 May to 2 June 553. Participants were overwhelmingly Eastern bishops—only sixteen Western bishops were present, including nine from Illyricum and seven from Africa, but none from Italy—out of the 152 total. [1] [3]

First seven ecumenical councils

In the history of Christianity, the first seven ecumenical councils include the following: the First Council of Nicaea in 325, the First Council of Constantinople in 381, the Council of Ephesus in 431, the Council of Chalcedon in 451, the Second Council of Constantinople in 553, the Third Council of Constantinople from 680–681 and finally, the Second Council of Nicaea in 787.

Eastern Orthodox Church Christian Church

The Eastern Orthodox Church, officially the Orthodox Catholic Church, is the second-largest Christian church, with approximately 200–260 million baptised members. It operates as a communion of autocephalous churches, each governed by its bishops in local synods, although roughly half of Eastern Orthodox Christians live in Russia. The church has no central doctrinal or governmental authority analogous to the Bishop of Rome, but the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople is recognised by all as primus inter pares of the bishops. As one of the oldest surviving religious institutions in the world, the Eastern Orthodox Church has played a prominent role in the history and culture of Eastern and Southeastern Europe, the Caucasus, and the Near East.

Catholic Church Largest Christian church, led by the Bishop of Rome

The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide as of 2017. As the world's oldest continuously functioning international institution, it has played a prominent role in the history and development of Western civilisation. The church is headed by the Bishop of Rome, known as the pope. Its central administration, the Holy See, is in the Vatican City, an enclave within the city of Rome in Italy.

The main work of the council was to confirm the condemnation issued by edict in 551 by the Emperor Justinian against the Three Chapters. These were the Christological writings and ultimately the person of Theodore of Mopsuestia (died 428), certain writings against Cyril of Alexandria's Twelve Anathemas accepted at the Council of Ephesus, written by Theodoret of Cyrrhus (died c.466), and a letter written against Cyrillianism and the Ephesian Council by Ibas of Edessa (died 457). [4]

Byzantine Empire Roman Empire during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages

The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople. It survived the fragmentation and fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD and continued to exist for an additional thousand years until it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. During most of its existence, the empire was the most powerful economic, cultural and military force in Europe. "Byzantine Empire" is a term created after the end of the realm; its citizens continued to refer to their empire simply as the Roman Empire, or Romania (Ῥωμανία), and to themselves as "Romans".

Theodore of Mopsuestia Byzantine theologian

Theodore the Interpreter was bishop of Mopsuestia from 392 to 428 AD. He is also known as Theodore of Antioch, from the place of his birth and presbyterate. He is the best known representative of the middle School of Antioch of hermeneutics.

Cyril of Alexandria Pope of Alexandria from 412 to 444

Cyril of Alexandria was the Patriarch of Alexandria from 412 to 444. He was enthroned when the city was at the height of its influence and power within the Roman Empire. Cyril wrote extensively and was a leading protagonist in the Christological controversies of the late-4th and 5th centuries. He was a central figure in the Council of Ephesus in 431, which led to the deposition of Nestorius as Patriarch of Constantinople.

The purpose of the condemnation was to make plain that the Great Church, which followed a Chalcedonian creed, was firmly opposed to Nestorianism as supported by the Antiochene school which had either assisted Nestorius, the eponymous heresiarch, or had inspired the teaching for which he was anathematized and exiled. The council also condemned the teaching that Mary could not be rightly called the Mother of God (Gk. Theotokos ) but only the mother of the man (Gk. anthropotokos) or the mother of Christ (Gk. Christotokos). [4]

Chalcedonian Christianity refers to the Christian denominations adhering to the christological definitions and ecclesiological resolutions of the Council of Chalcedon, the Fourth Ecumenical Council held in 451. Chalcedonian Christians follow the Definition of Chalcedon, a religious doctrine concerning the divine and human natures of Jesus Christ. The great majority of Christian communions and confessions in the 21st century are Chalcedonian, but from the 5th to the 8th centuries the ascendancy of Chalcedonian Christology was not always certain.

Nestorianism is a Christian theological doctrine that upholds several distinctive teachings in the fields of Christology and Mariology. It opposes the concept of hypostatic union and emphasizes that the two natures of Jesus Christ were joined by will rather than nature. This Christological position is defined as radical dyophisitism. Nestorianism was named after Christian theologian Nestorius (386–450), Patriarch of Constantinople from 428 to 431, who was influenced by Christological teachings of Theodore of Mopsuestia at the School of Antioch.

The School of Antioch was one of the two major centers of the study of biblical exegesis and theology during Late Antiquity; the other was the Catechetical School of Alexandria. This group was known by this name because the advocates of this tradition were based in the city of Antioch, one of the major cities of the ancient Roman Empire.

Justinian hoped that this would contribute to a reunion between the Chalcedonians and monophysites in the eastern provinces of the Empire. Various attempts at reconciliation between these parties within the Byzantine Empire were made by many emperors over the four centuries following the Council of Ephesus, none of them successful. Some attempts at reconciliation, such as this one, the condemnation of the Three Chapters and the unprecedented posthumous anathematization of Theodore—who had once been widely esteemed as a pillar of orthodoxy—causing further schisms and heresies to arise in the process, such as the aforementioned schism of the Three Chapters and the emergent semi-monophysite compromises of monoenergism and monotheletism. These propositions assert, respectively, that Christ possessed no human energy but only a divine function or principle of operation (purposefully formulated in an equivocal and vague manner, and promulgated between 610 and 622 by the Emperor Heraclius under the advice of Patriarch Sergius I of Constantinople) and that Christ possessed no human will but only a divine will, "will" being understood to mean the desires and appetites in accord with the nature (promulgated in 638 by the same and opposed most notably by Maximus the Confessor). [4]

Monophysitism is the Christological position that, after the union of the divine and the human in the historical incarnation, Jesus Christ, as the incarnation of the eternal Son or Word (Logos) of God, had only a single "nature" which was either divine or a synthesis of divine and human. Monophysitism is contrasted to dyophysitism which maintains that Christ maintained two natures, one divine and one human, after the incarnation.

Anathema, in common usage, is something or someone that is detested or shunned. In its other main usage, it is a formal excommunication. The latter meaning, its ecclesiastical sense, is based on New Testament usage. In the Old Testament, anathema referred either to something that was consecrated or to something denounced as evil or accursed and set aside for sacrificial offering.

A schism is a division between people, usually belonging to an organization, movement, or religious denomination. The word is most frequently applied to a split in what had previously been a single religious body, such as the East–West Schism or the Great Western Schism. It is also used of a split within a non-religious organization or movement or, more broadly, of a separation between two or more people, be it brothers, friends, lovers, etc.

Proceedings

The Council was presided over by Eutychius, Patriarch of Constantinople, assisted by the other three eastern patriarchs or their representatives. [5] Pope Vigilius was also invited; but even though he was at this period resident in Constantinople (to avoid the perils of life in Italy, convulsed by the war against the Ostrogoths), he declined to attend, and even issued a document forbidding the council from preceding without him (his 'First Constitutum'). For more details see Pope Vigilius.[ citation needed ]

Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople position

The Ecumenical Patriarch is the Archbishop of Constantinople–New Rome and ranks as primus inter pares among the heads of the several autocephalous churches that make up the Eastern Orthodox Church. He is widely regarded as the representative and spiritual leader of the 300 million Eastern Orthodox Christians worldwide. The term Ecumenical in the title is a historical reference to the Ecumene, a Greek designation for the civilised world, i.e. the Roman Empire, and it stems from Canon 28 of the Council of Chalcedon.

Pope Vigilius pope

Pope Vigilius was Pope from 29 March 537 to his death in 555. He is considered the first pope of the Byzantine Papacy.

The council, however, proceeded without the pope to condemn the Three Chapters. And during the seventh session of the council, the bishops had Vigilius stricken from the diptychs for his refusal to appear at the council and approve its proceedings, effectively excommunicating him personally but not the rest of the Western Church. Vigilius was then imprisoned in Constantinople by the emperor and his advisors were exiled. After six months, in December 553, he agreed, however, to condemn the Three Chapters, claiming that his hesitation was due to being misled by his advisors. [4] His approval of the council was expressed in two documents, (a letter to Eutychius of Constantinople on 8 December 553, and a second "Constitutum" of 23 February 554, probably addressed to the Western episcopate), condemning the Three Chapters, [6] on his own authority and without mention of the council. [3]

Diptych two-part polyptych

A diptych is any object with two flat plates attached at a hinge. For example, the standard notebook and school exercise book of the ancient world was a diptych consisting of a pair of such plates that contained a recessed space filled with wax. Writing was accomplished by scratching the wax surface with a stylus. When the notes were no longer needed, the wax could be slightly heated and then smoothed to allow reuse. Ordinary versions had wooden frames, but more luxurious diptychs were crafted with more expensive materials.

In Northern Italy the ecclesiastical provinces of Milan and Aquileia broke communion with Rome. Milan accepted the condemnation only toward the end of the sixth century, whereas Aquileia did not do so until about 700. [3] [7] The rest of the Western Church accepted the decrees of the council, though without great enthusiasm. Though ranked as one of the ecumenical councils, it never attained in the West the status of either Nicaea or Chalcedon.

In Visigothic Spain (Reccared having converted a short time prior) the churches never accepted the council; [8] when news of the later Third Council of Constantinople was communicated to them by Rome it was received as the fifth ecumenical council, [9] not the sixth. Isidore of Seville, in his Chronicle and De Viris Illustribus, judged Justinian a tyrant and persecutor of the orthodox [10] and an admirer of heresy, [11] contrasting him with Facundus of Hermiane and Victor of Tunnuna, who was considered a martyr. [12]

Despite the conflict between the council and the pope, and the inability to reconcile Chalcedonians and non-Chalcedonians, the council still made a significant theological contribution. The canons condemning the Three Chapters were preceded by ten dogmatic canons which defined Chalcedonian Christology with a new precision, bringing out that God the Word is the one subject of all the operations of Christ, divine and human[ citation needed ]. The 'two natures' defined at Chalcedon were now clearly interpreted as two sets of attributes possessed by a single person, Christ God, the Second Person of the Trinity. [13] Later Byzantine Christology, as found in Maximus the Confessor and John of Damascus, was built upon this basis. It might have proved sufficient, moreover, to bring about the reunion of Chalcedonians and non-Chalcedonians, had it not been for the severance of connections between the two groups that resulted from the Muslim conquests of the next century.[ citation needed ]

Acts

The original Greek acts of the council are lost, [14] but an old Latin version exists, possibly made for Vigilius, of which there is a critical edition [15] and of which there is now an English translation and commentary, [16] it was alleged (probably falsely) that the original Acts of the Fifth Council had been tampered with [17] in favour of Monothelitism. [3] It used to be argued that the extant acts are incomplete, since they make no mention of the debate over Origenism. However, the solution generally accepted today is that the bishops signed the canons condemning Origenism before the council formally opened. [18] This condemnation was confirmed by Pope Vigilius and the subsequent ecumenical council (third Council of Constantinople) gave its "assent" in its Definition of Faith to the five previous synods, including "... the last, that is the Fifth holy Synod assembled in this place, against Theodore of Mopsuestia, Origen, Didymus, and Evagrius ..."; [19] its full conciliar authority has only been questioned in modern times. [20]

Notes

  1. 1 2 "NPNF2–14. The Seven Ecumenical Councils, Introduction". CCEL. Retrieved 2014-08-23.
    • (3 names, 3 bishops and 145 other, plus 1 pope, total 152)
  2. See, e.g. Lutheran–Orthodox Joint Commission, Seventh Meeting, The Ecumenical Councils, Common Statement, 1993, available at Lutheran–Orthodox Joint Commission (B. I. 5a. "We agree on the doctrine of God, the Holy Trinity, as formulated by the Ecumenical Councils of Nicaea and Constantinople and on the doctrine of the person of Christ as formulated by the first four Ecumenical Councils.").
  3. 1 2 3 4 Wikisource-logo.svg  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain :  Thomas J. Shahan (1913). "CouncilsofConstantinople"  . In Herbermann, Charles (ed.). Catholic Encyclopedia . New York: Robert Appleton.
  4. 1 2 3 4 Leo Donald Davis (1983), "Chapter 6 Council of Constantinople II, 553", The First Seven Ecumenical Councils (325–787): Their History and Theology, Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, pp. 242–248, ISBN   978-0814656167 , retrieved 2014-08-23
  5. Meyendorff 1989, pp. 241–243.
  6. Mansi, Sacrorum Conciliorum nova et amplissima collectio, vol. IX, p. 414–420, 457–488; cf. Hefele, Conciliengeschichte, vol. II, pp. 905–911.
  7. Hefele, Conciliengeschichte, vol. II, pp. 911–927. (For an equitable appreciation of the conduct of Vigilius see, besides the article VIGILIUS, the judgment of Bois, in Diet. de theol. cath., II, 1238–39.)
  8. Herrin (1989) pp. 240–241
  9. Herrin (1989) p. 244
  10. Herrin (1989) p. 241 and the references therein
  11. Isidore of Seville, Chronica Maiora, no. 397a
  12. Herrin (1989) p. 241
  13. Price (2009) vol. I, p. 73–75
  14. "NPNF2–14. The Seven Ecumenical Councils, Excursus on the Genuineness of the Acts of the Fifth Council". Christian Classics Ethereal Library. 1 June 2005. Retrieved 2014-08-23.
  15. Straub, Johannes (1971), Acta Conciliorum Oecumenicorum. Tomus IV, volumen I, Berlin: Walter de Gruyter
  16. Price (2009)
  17. Hefele, Conciliengeschichte, vol. II, pp. 855–858
  18. Price (2009) vol. 2, pp. 270-86.
  19. "NPNF2–14. The Seven Ecumenical Councils, The Definition of Faith". Christian Classics Ethereal Library. 1 June 2005. Retrieved 2014-08-23.
  20. Price (2009) vol. 2, pp. 270ff.

Wikisource-logo.svg  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain :  Thomas J. Shahan (1913). "CouncilsofConstantinople"  . In Herbermann, Charles (ed.). Catholic Encyclopedia . New York: Robert Appleton.

Bibliography

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