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The condemnation of the Christology of the three chapters in its historical and doctrinal context: the assessment and judgement of Emperor Justinian and the Fifth Ecumenical Council (553)

Pavouris, Raphael (2001) The condemnation of the Christology of the three chapters in its historical and doctrinal context: the assessment and judgement of Emperor Justinian and the Fifth Ecumenical Council (553). PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

This study examines - in its immediate and larger context - the exposition of christological doctrine in the fifth and sixth centuries, and in particular, how Justinian and the Fifth Ecumenical Council (553) interpreted the Chalcedonian Definition through the condemnation of the Three Chapters, namely 1) the person and writings of Theodore of Mopsuestia, 2) the writings of Theodoret of Cyrus against Cyril of Alexandria and the Council of Ephesus, and 3) the Letter of Ibas of Edessa to Maris. All three theologians belonged more or less to what is conveniently called 'the Antiochene school' of thought and were in one way or another associated with the doctrine of Nestorius. In tackling the heretical (Monophysite) teaching of Eutyches, the Council of Chalcedon proclaimed the christological doctrine in dyophysite terms: Christ is one hypostasis or prosopon in two natures. By it, Chalcedon meant to safeguard the oneness of the subject in Christ and its identification with that of the Logos as well as the 'difference' of the two natures in him. However, the terms it used (hypostasis, prosopon nature) were not clearly defined. Thus the Definition was open to misinterpretation from two points of view. Firstly, the 'strict Cyrillians' or 'Monophysites', with their Alexandrian background, regarded the Chalcedonian Definition with its 'in two natures' doctrine as vindication of Nestorius. For them, to say 'in two natures' was to say 'two Christs' and 'two Sons'. They contended that the only way to safeguard Christ's oneness without abolishing the 'difference' of his natures was to confess Cyril's 'one incarnate nature of the God Logos'. Secondly, a group of Christians with Antiochene background, concerned primarily about preserving the distinction of the two natures in Christ and the impassibility of God, refused to identify Chalcedon's one hypostasis with that of the eternal Logos. As a reaction to both interpretations of Chalcedon, a number of Cyrillian Chalcedonians or 'neo-Chalcedonians' undertook to show that, although they used different language, Chalcedon and Cyril were in essential agreement. In other words, they both taught that Christ is the same hypostasis or prosopon as the God-Logos who really became man by assuming perfect human nature. To these Cyrillian Chalcedonians belong Justinian and the fathers of the fifth ecumenical council.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BT Doctrinal Theology
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > Theology and Religious Studies
Supervisor's Name: Hazlett, Dr. Ian
Date of Award: 2001
Depositing User: Elaine Ballantyne
Unique ID: glathesis:2001-1503
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 04 Feb 2010
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 13:41
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/1503

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