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   Chapter 13 The Church In The Eastern Empire

A Source Book for Ancient Church History By Joseph Cullen Ayer, Jr., Ph.D. Characters: 49823

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02


The century extending from the accession of Justin I (518-528) to the end of the Persian wars of Heraclius (610-641), or from 518 to 628, is the most brilliant period of the Eastern Empire. The rise of Islam had not yet taken place, whereby the best provinces in Asia and Africa were cut off from the Empire. A large part of the West was recovered under Justinian, and under Heraclius the power of Persia, the ancient enemy of the Roman Empire, which had been a menace since the latter part of the third century, was completely overthrown in the most brilliant series of campaigns since the foundation of the Roman Empire. With the death of Justin II (565-578), the family of Justin came to an end after occupying the throne for sixty years. But under Tiberius (578-582) and Maurice (582-602) the policy of Justinian was continued in all essentials in the stereotyped form known as Byzantinism. The Church became practically a department of the State and of the political machinery. The only limitation upon the will of the Emperor was the determined resistance of the Monophysites and smaller factions. Maurice was succeeded by the rude Phocas (602-610), whom a military revolution placed upon the throne, and who instituted a reign of terror and blood. Upon his downfall, Heraclius (610-641) ascended the throne.

[pg 541]

§ 93. The Age of Justinian

Justinian I, the greatest of all the rulers of the Eastern Empire, succeeded his uncle Justin I (518-527); but he had, from the beginning of the latter's reign, exercised an ever-increasing influence over the imperial policy, and to him can be attributed the direction of ecclesiastical affairs from the accession of Justin. No reign among the Eastern emperors was more filled with important events and successful undertakings. His first great work was the reduction of the vast mass of Roman law to what approached a system. This was accomplished in 534, resulting in the Digest, made up of the various decisions and opinions of the most celebrated Roman legal authorities, the Codex, comprising all the statute law then in actual force and applicable to the conditions of the Empire, and the Institutes, a revision of the excellent introductory manual of Gaius. No body of law reduced to writing has been more influential in the history of the world. The second great undertaking, or series of undertakings, was the reconquest of the West. In 533 Belisarius recovered North Africa to the Empire by the overthrow of the Vandal kingdom. In 554 the conquest of Italy by Belisarius and Narses was completed. Portions of Spain had also been recovered. No Eastern Emperor ruled over a larger territory than did Justinian at the time of his death. The third great line of work on the part of Justinian was his regulation of ecclesiastical and theological matters. In this he took an active personal part. The end of the schism with the West had been brought about under the reign of his uncle. Three controversies fill the reign of Justinian: the Theopaschite (519-533) over the introduction of the phrase into the Trisagion, stating that God was crucified for us, so that the Trisagion read as follows, [pg 542] "Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, who was crucified for us, have mercy upon us"; the Second Origenistic controversy (531-543) in which those elements of Origen's teaching which had never been accepted by the Church were condemned along with Origen himself; and the Three Chapters controversy, 544-553, in which, as an attempt to win back the Monophysites, which began even before the Conference with the Severians in 533, three of the leading Antiochians were condemned. In connection with the two last controversies, the Fifth General Council was held A. D. 553.

Additional source material: Evagrius, Hist. Ec., Lib. IV-VI; John of Ephesus, The Third Part of His Ecclesiastical History, trans. by R. Payne Smith, Oxford, 1860; Percival, Seven Ecumenical Councils (PNF).

(a) Justinian, Anathematisms against Origen. Mansi, IX, 533. (MSG, 86:1013; MSL, 65:221.)

The Origenistic controversy arose in Palestine, where the learned monks were nicknamed Origenists by the more ignorant. The abbot St. Sabas was especially opposed to the group which had received this name. But several, among whom the more important were Domitian and Theodore Askidas, won the favor of Justinian and the latter received promotion, becoming bishop of C?sarea in Cappadocia. Supported by them, struggles broke out in various places between the Sabaites and the Origenists. Ephraem, patriarch of Antioch, in a synodal letter thereupon condemned Origenism. The Origenists tried in vain to win the support of John, patriarch of Constantinople. But he turned to Justinian, who thereupon abandoned the Origenists and issued an edict condemning Origen and his writings, and appending a summary of the positions condemned in ten anathematisms. Text in Denziger, nn. 203 f. Synods were ordered for the condemnation of Origen, and among these was the synod under Menas, patriarch of Constantinople, in which were issued fifteen anathematisms based upon the ten of Justinian (Hefele, §§ 257, 258). With this action, the controversy may be said to be closed, were it not that in spite of the renewed condemnation at the Fifth General Council (see below) disputes and disturbances continued in Palestine until 563.

1. If any one says or thinks that human souls pre-existed, that is, that they had previously been spirits and holy powers, but that satiated with the vision of God, they turned to evil, and in this way the divine love in them became cold [pg 543] [?ποψυγε?σα?] and they were there named souls [ψυχ??] and were condemned to punishment in bodies, let him be anathema.

2. If any one says or thinks that the soul of the Lord pre-existed and was united with God the Word before the incarnation and conception of the Virgin, let him be anathema.

3. If any one says or thinks that the body of the Lord Jesus Christ was first formed in the womb of the holy Virgin, and that afterward there was united with it God the Word and the pre-existing soul, let him be anathema.

4. If any one says or thinks that the Word of God has become like to all heavenly orders, so that for the cherubim He was a cherub and for the seraphim a seraph, in short, like all the superior powers, let him be anathema.

5. If any one says or thinks that, at the resurrection, human bodies will arise spherical in form and not like our present form, let him be anathema.

6. If any one says or thinks that the heavens, the sun, moon, and stars, and the waters above the firmament have souls and are spiritual and rational beings, let him be anathema.

7. If any one says or thinks that Christ the Lord in a future age will be crucified for demons as He was for men, let him be anathema.

8. If any one says or thinks that the power of God is limited and that He created only as much as He was able to comprehend, let him be anathema.

9. If any one says or thinks that the punishment of demons and impious men is only temporary and will have an end, and that a restoration [apocatastasis] will take place of demons and impious men, let him be anathema.

10. Let Origen be anathema together with that Adamantius who set forth these opinions together with his nefarious and execrable doctrine, and whoever there is who thinks thus or defends these opinions, or in any way hereafter at any time shall presume to protect them.

[pg 544]

(b) Vigilius, Judicatum. Mansi, IX, 181.

This important document was addressed to Menas of Constantinople and is dated April 11, 548. Unfortunately it exists only in detached fragments, which are given below, taken from the text as given by Hefele, § 259. The first is given in a letter of Justinian to the Fifth Council, an abridgment of which may be found in Hefele, § 267. Other fragments are from the Constitutum (see below), where they are quoted by Vigilius from his previous letter to Menas, which Hefele has identified with the Judicatum. In this opinion Krüger (art. "Vigilius" in PRE). and Bailey (art. "Vigilius" in DCB) and other scholars concur. The force of the first is that the writings condemned by the Three Chapters are heretical; of the others, that the credit of the Council of Chalcedon must be maintained. How the two positions were reconciled is not clear.

1. And because certain writings under the name of Theodore of Mopsuestia have been handed to us which contain many things contrary to the right faith, we, following the warnings of the Apostle Paul, who said: Prove all things, hold fast that which is good, therefore anathematize Theodore, who was bishop of Mopsuestia, with all his impious writings, and also those who defend him. We anathematize also the impious epistle which is said to have been written by Ibas to Maris the Persian, as contrary to the right faith, and also all who defend it and say that it is right. We anathematize also the writings of Theodoret which were written contrary to the right faith and against the capitula of Cyril.204

2. Since it is evident to us by sufficient reason, that whosoever attempts to do anything to the disparagement of the aforesaid council, will rather sin against himself.

3. If it had been shown conclusively by us to be contained in the acts [i.e., of the Council of Chalcedon], no one would have dared to be the author of so great a presumption or would have regarded as doubtful or undecided anything which was brought before that most holy judgment; since it is to be believed that those then present could have investigated things diligently even apart from writing, and have defined them positively, which appears to us after so [pg 545] much time and on account of unknown causes still unsettled; since also it is a part of reverence for the synods that in those things which are less understood one recognizes their authority.

4. All things being accepted and remaining perpetually established which were defined in the venerable councils at Nic?a, and Constantinople, in the first at Ephesus, and at Chalcedon, and confirmed by the authority of our predecessors; and all who in the said holy councils were deposed are without doubt condemned, and those are no less absolved whose absolution was decreed by the same synods.

5. Subjecting also him to the sentence of anathema who accepts as of any force whatsoever may be found against the said synod of Chalcedon, written in this present letter, or in anything in the present case whatever done by us or by any one; and let the holy synod of Chalcedon, of which the authority is great and unshaken, perpetual and reverenced, have the same force as that which the synods of Nic?a, Constantinople, and the first at Ephesus have.

6. We anathematize also whoever does not faithfully follow and equally venerate the holy synods of Nic?a. of Constantinople, the first of Ephesus, and the synod of Chalcedon as most holy synods, agreeing in the one and immaculate faith of the Apostles, and confirmed by the pontiffs of the Apostolic See, and whoever wishes to correct as badly said, or wishes to supply as imperfect, those things which were done in the same councils which we have mentioned.

(c) Vigilius, Oath to Justinian, August 15, A. D. 550. Mansi. IX, 363. (MSL, 69: 121.)

The Judicatum met with great opposition in the West. Vigilius, to still the clamor against it, withdrew it and proposed other measures in consultation with Justinian. In connection with this he bound himself with an oath to support Justinian in putting through the condemnation of the Three Chapters, and this oath Justinian produced later, when Vigilius had presented his Constitutum to him refusing to condemn the chapters. The Emperor thereupon suppressed the Constitutum.

[pg 546] The most blessed Pope Vigilius has sworn to the most pious lord Emperor in our presence, that is of me, Theodorus, bishop of C?sarea, in Cappadocia [see DCB, Theodorus of Askidas], and of me, Cethegus, the patrician, by the sacred nails with which our Lord God Jesus Christ was crucified and by the four holy Gospels, as also by the sacred bridle,205 so also by the four Gospels; that, being of one mind and will with your piety, we shall so will, attempt, and act, as far as we are able, so that the three chapters, that is, Theodore of Mopsuestia, the epistle attributed to Ibas, and the writings of Theodoret against the orthodox faith and his sayings against the twelve capitula of the holy Cyril, may be condemned and anathematized; and to do nothing, either by myself or by those whom we can trust, either of the clerical or lay order, in behalf of the chapters, against the will of your piety, or to speak or to give counsel secretly in behalf of those chapters. And if any one should say anything to me to the contrary, either concerning these chapters or concerning the faith, or against the State, I will make him known to your piety, without peril of death, and also what has been said to me, so that on account of my place you do not abandon my person; and you have promised, because I observe these things toward your piety, to protect my honor in all respects, and also to guard my person and reputation and to defend them with the help of God and to protect the privileges of my see. And you have also promised that this paper shall be shown to no one. I promise further that in the case of the three chapters, we shall treat in common as to what ought to be done, and whatsoever shall appear to us useful we will carry out with the help of God. This oath was given the fifteenth day of August, indiction XIII, the twenty-third year of the reign of our lord Justinian, the ninth year after the consulship of the illustrious Basil. I, Theodore, by the mercy of God bishop of C?sarea, in Cappadocia, [pg 547] have subscribed hereunto as a witness to this oath; I, Flavius Cethegus, patrician, have subscribed hereunto as a witness to this oath.

(d) Vigilius, Constitutum, May 14, 553. (MSL, 69:67.)

The synod known as the Fifth General Council met May 5, 553, and proceeded to condemn the Three Chapters, as directed by the Emperor. Vigilius refused to attend, but consented to pronounce his judgment on the matter apart from the council. This he did in his Constitutum ad Imperatorem, May 14, 553. In it he condemns the teaching of Theodore of Mopsuestia, but opposes the condemnation of Theodore himself, inasmuch as he had died in the communion of the Church. He also opposes the condemnation of Theodoret and Ibas, because both were acquitted at Chalcedon. This Constitutum is to be distinguished from the Constitutum of 554 (MSL, 69:143, 147), in which, after the council had acceded to the proposals of the Emperor and condemned the Three Chapters and had excommunicated Vigilius by removing his name from the diptychs, the latter confirmed the decisions of the council and joined in the condemnation of the Three Chapters. For a discussion of the whole situation, see Hefele, §§ 272-276. The devious course followed by Vigilius has been the subject of much acrimonious debate. The facts of the case are now generally recognized. The conclusion of Cardinal Hergenr?ther, KG. I, 612, is the best that can be said for Vigilius: "In the question as to the faith, Vigilius was never wavering; but he was so, indeed, in the question as to whether the action was proper or opportune, whether it was advisable or necessary to condemn subsequently men whom the Council of Chalcedon had spared, to put forth a judgment which would be regarded by the Monophysites as a triumph of their cause, which was most obnoxious for the same reason, and its supposed dishonoring of the Council of Chalcedon, and was likely to create new divisions instead of healing the old."

The portions of the Constitutum given below are the conclusions of Vigilius as to each of the Three Chapters. The whole is a lengthy document.

All these things have been diligently examined, and although our Fathers speak in different phrases yet are guided by one sentiment, that the persons of priests, who have died in the peace of the Church, should be preserved untouched; likewise the constitutions of the Apostolic See, which we have quoted above, uniformly define that it is lawful for no one to judge anew anything concerning the persons of the dead, [pg 548] but each is left in that condition in which the last day finds him; and especially concerning the name of Theodore of Mopsuestia, what our Fathers determined is clearly shown above. Him, therefore, we dare not condemn by our sentence, and we do not permit him to be condemned by any one else; the above-written chapters of dogmas, which are damned by us, or any sayings of any one without name affixed, not agreeing with, or consonant with, the evangelical and apostolic doctrine and the doctrines of the four synods, of Nic?a, of Constantinople, of the first of Ephesus, and of Chalcedon, we, however, do not suffer to be admitted to our thought or even to our ears.

But concerning the writings which are brought forward under the name of that venerable man, Theodoret, late bishop, we wonder, first, why it should be necessary or with what desire anything should be done to the disparagement of the name of that priest, who more than a hundred years ago, in the judgement of the sacred and venerable Council of Chalcedon, subscribed without any hesitation and consented with profound devotion to the Epistle of the most blessed Pope Leo.… The truth of these things having been considered, we determine and decree that nothing be done or proposed by any one in judgement upon him to the injury and defamation of a man most approved in the synod of Chalcedon, that is to say, Theodoret of Cyrus. But guarding in all respects the reverence of his person, whatsoever writings are brought forward under his name or under that of another evidently in accord with the errors of the wicked Nestorius and Eutyches we anathematize and condemn.

Then follow these five anathematisms, the test of which may be found in Hahn, § 228:

1. If any one does not confess that the Word was made flesh, and the inconvertibility of the divine nature having been preserved, and from the moment of conception in the womb of the virgin united according to subsistence [hypostatically] [pg 549] human nature to Himself, but as with a man already existing; so that, accordingly, the holy Virgin is not to be believed to be truly the bearer of God, but is called so only in word, let him be anathema.

2. If any one shall deny that a unity of natures according to subsistence [hypostatically] was made in Christ, but that God the Word dwelt in a man existing apart as one of the just, and does not confess the unity of natures according to subsistence, that God the Word with the assumed flesh remained and remains one subsistence or person, let him be anathema.

3. If any one so divides the evangelical, apostolic words in reference to the one Christ, that he introduces a division of the natures united in Him, let him be anathema.

4. It any one says that the one Jesus Christ, God the Word and the same true Son of Man, was ignorant of future things or of the day of the last judgment, and was able to know only so far as Deity revealed to Him, as if dwelling in another, let him be anathema.

5. If any one applies to Christ as if stripped of His divinity the saying of the Apostle in the Epistle to the Hebrews,206 that He knew obedience by experience and with strong crying and tears offered prayers and supplications to God who was able to save Him from death, and who was perfected by the labors of virtue, so that from this he evidently introduces two Christs or two Sons, and does not believe the one and the same Christ to be confessed and adored Son of God and Son of Man, of two and in two natures inseparable and undivided, let him be anathema.

… We have also examined concerning the Epistle of the venerable man Ibas, once bishop of the city of Edessa, concerning which you also ask if in early times anything concerning it was undertaken by our Fathers, or discussed, or examined, or determined. Because it is known to all and especially to your piety, that we are ignorant of the Greek language, yet by [pg 550] the aid of some of our company, who have knowledge of that tongue, we discover clearly and openly that in the same synod the affair of the venerable man Ibas was examined, from the action taken regarding Photius, bishop of Tyre, and Eustathius, bishop of Berytus, that this epistle, concerning which inquiry is made, was brought forward against him by his accusers; and when, after discussion of the affair was ended, it was asked of the venerable Fathers what ought to be done concerning the matter of the same Ibas, the following sentence was passed:

Paschasius and Lucentius, most reverend bishops, and Boniface, presbyter, holding the place of the Apostolic See (because the apostolic delegates are accustomed always to speak and vote first in synods), by Paschasius said: "Since the documents have been read, we perceive from the opinion of the most reverend bishops that the most reverend Ibas is approved as innocent; for now that his epistle has been read we recognize it as orthodox. And on this account we decree that the honor of the episcopate be restored to him, and the church, from which unjustly and in his absence he was driven out, be given back." [The patriarchs of Constantinople and Antioch agreed, and their opinions are also quoted by Vigilius from the Acts of the Council of Chalcedon.]

… Therefore we, following in all things the discipline and judgment of the holy Fathers, and the disposition of all things according to the account which we have given of the judgment of the Council of Chalcedon, since it is most evidently true, from the words of the Epistle of the venerable man Ibas, regarded with the right and pious mind, and from the action taken regarding Photius and Eustathius, and from the opinions of bishop Ibas, discussed in his presence by those present, that our Fathers present at Chalcedon most justly pronounced the faith of the same venerable man Ibas orthodox and his blaming the blessed Cyril, which they perceive to have been from error of human intelligence, purged by appropriate satisfaction, by the authority of our present sentence, [pg 551] we determine and decree in all things so also in the often-mentioned Epistle of the venerable Ibas, the judgment of the Fathers present at Chalcedon remain inviolate.

Conclusion of the Constitutum:

These things having been disposed of by us in every point with all caution and diligence, in order to preserve inviolate the reverence of the said synods and the venerable constitutions of the same; mindful that it has been written [cf. Prov. 22:26], we ought not to cross the bounds of our Fathers, we determine and decree that it is permitted to no one of any ecclesiastical rank or dignity to do anything contrary to these things which, by this present constitution, we assert and determine, concerning the oft-mentioned three chapters, or to write or to bring forward, or to compose, or to teach, or to make any further investigation after this present definition. But concerning the same three chapters, if anything contrary to these things, which we here determine and assert, is made in the name of any one, in ecclesiastical order or dignity, or shall be found by any one or anywheresoever, such a one by the authority of the Apostolic See, in which by the grace of God we are placed, we refute in every way.

(e) Council of Constantinople, A. D. 553, Definition. Mansi, IX, 367.

Condemnation of the Three Chapters.

This action is taken from the Definition of the council, a rather wordy document, but ending with a passage indicating the action of the council. From this concluding passage this condemnation is taken. See Hefele, § 274, also PNF, ser. II, vol. XIV, pp. 306-311.

We condemn and anathematize with all other heretics who have been condemned and anathematized by the before-mentioned four holy synods, and by the Catholic and Apostolic Church, Theodore, who was bishop of Mopsuestia, and his impious writings, and also those things which Theodoret impiously wrote against the right faith and against the twelve capitula of the holy Cyril, and against the first synod of Ephesus, [pg 552] and also those which he wrote in defence of Theodore and Nestorius. In addition to these, we also anathematize the impious epistle which Ibas is said to have written to Maris the Persian, which denies that God the Word was incarnate of the holy Theotokos and ever-virgin Mary, and accuses Cyril, of holy memory, who taught the truth, of being a heretic and of the same sentiments with Apollinaris, and blames the first synod of Ephesus for deposing Nestorius without examination and inquiry

, and calls the twelve capitula of Cyril impious and contrary to the right faith, and defends Theodore and Nestorius, and their impious dogmas and writings. We, therefore, anathematize the three chapters before mentioned, that is the impious Theodore of Mopsuestia with his execrable writings, and those things which Theodoret impiously wrote, and the impious letter which is said to be by Ibas, together with their defenders and those who have written or do write in defence of them, or who dare to say that they are correct, and who have defended or do attempt to defend their impiety with the names of the holy Fathers or of the holy Council of Chalcedon.

(f) Council of Constantinople A. D. 553. Anathematism 11. Mansi, IX, 201. Cf. Denziger. n. 223.

Condemnation of Origen.

Appended to the Definition of the council are fourteen anathematisms, forming (1-10) an exposition of the doctrine of the two natures, and concluding with condemnation of Origen, together with other heretics, and of the Three Chapters (11-14). These anathematisms are based upon a confession of faith of the Emperor Justinian, a lengthy document, but containing thirteen anathematisms. This confession of faith was composed before the council, probably in 551. For an analysis of it, see Hefele, § 263. The text of the council's anathematisms may be found in Hefele, § 274, also in Hahn, § 148. Attempts have been made by older scholars to show that the name Origen was a later insertion. For arguments, see Hefele, loc. cit.

If any one does not anathematize Arius, Eunomius, Macedonius, Apollinaris, Nestorius, Eutyches, and Origen, with their impious writings, as also all other heretics already condemned [pg 553] and anathematized by the holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, and by the aforesaid four holy synods, and all those who have been or are of the same mind with the heretics mentioned, and who remain to the end in their impiety, let him be anathema.

§ 94. The Byzantine State Church under Justinian

According to Justinian's scheme of Church government, the Emperor was the head of the Church in the sense that he had the right and duty of regulating by his laws the minutest detail of worship and discipline, and also of dictating the theological opinions to be held in the Church. This is shown, not merely in his conduct of the Fifth General Council, but also in his attempt, at the end of his life, to force Aphthartodocetism upon the Church. This position of the Emperor in relation to the Church is known as C?saropapism. (See Bury, Later Roman Empire, chap. XI.) The ecclesiastical legislation of Justinian should also be considered. At the same time Justinian strictly repressed the lingering heathenism and, in the interest of the schools at Constantinople, closed the schools at Athens, the last stronghold of paganism.

(a) Evagrius, Hist. Ec., IV, 39. (MSG, 86 II:2781.)

Aphthartodocetism of Justinian.

Among the many variations of Monophysitism flourishing under Justinian was Aphthartodocetism, according to which the body of Christ, before as well as after his resurrection, was "a glorified body," or incapable of suffering. See selection for description.

At that time Justinian, abandoning the right road of doctrine and following the path untrodden by the Apostles and Fathers, became entangled in thorns and briars; and he attempted to fill the Church also with these, but failed in his purpose, and thereby fulfilled the prediction of prophecy.… Justinian, after he had anathematized Origen, Didymus, and Evagrius, issued what the Latins call an edict, after the deposition [pg 554] of Eustochius [A. D. 556], in which he termed the body of the Lord incorruptible and incapable of the natural and blameless passions; affirming that the Lord ate before His passion in the same manner as after His resurrection, His holy body having undergone no conversion or change from the time of its actual formation in the womb, not even in respect to the natural and voluntary passions, nor yet after the resurrection. To this he proceeded to compel bishops in all parts to give their assent. However, they all professed to look to Anastasius, the Bishop of Antioch, and thus avoided the first attack.

(b) Justinian, Novella VI "Preface."

Church and State according to Justinian.

Among the greatest gifts of God bestowed by the kindness of heaven are the priesthood and the imperial dignity. Of these the former serves things divine; the latter rules human affairs and cares for them. Both are derived from the one and the same source, and order human life. And, therefore, nothing is so much a care to the emperors as the dignity of the priesthood; so that they may always pray to God for them. For if one is in every respect blameless and filled with confidence toward God, and the other rightly and properly maintains in order the commonwealth intrusted to it, there is a certain excellent harmony which furnishes whatsoever is needful for the human race. We, therefore, have the greatest cares for the true doctrines of God and the dignity of the priesthood which, if they preserve it, we trust that by it great benefits will be bestowed by God, and we shall possess undisturbed those things which we have, and in addition acquire those things which we have not yet acquired. But all things are well and properly carried on, if only a proper beginning is laid, and one that is acceptable to God. But this we believe will be so if the observance of the sacred canons is cared for, which also the Apostles, who are rightly to be praised, and the venerated eye-witnesses and ministers of the word of God, [pg 555] delivered, and which the holy Fathers have also preserved and explained.

(c) Justinian, Novella CXXXVII, 6.

The following section from the conclusion of a novella illustrates the manner in which Justinian legislated in matter of internal affairs for the Church and instituted a control over the priesthood which was other than that of the Church's own system of discipline.

We command that all bishops and presbyters shall offer the sacred oblation and the prayers in holy baptism not silently, but with a voice which may be heard by the faithful people, that thereby the minds of those listening may be moved to greater contrition and to the glory of God. For so, indeed, the holy Apostle teaches (I Cor. 14:16; Rom. 10:10).… Therefore it is right that to our Lord Jesus Christ, to our God with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be offered prayer in the holy oblation and other prayers with the voice by the most holy bishops and the presbyters; for the holy priests should know that if they neglect any of those things they shall render an account at the terrible judgment of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ, and that we shall not quietly permit such things when we know of them and will not leave them unpunished. We command, therefore, that the governors of the epachies, if they see anything neglected of those things which have been decreed by us, first urge the metropolitans and other bishops to celebrate the aforesaid synods, and do whatsoever things we have ordered by this present law concerning synods, and, if they see them delaying, let them report to us, that from us may come a proper correction of those who put off holding synods. And the governors and the officials subject to them should know that if they do not observe these matters they will be liable to the extreme penalty [i.e., death]. But we confirm by this present law all things which have been decreed by us in various constitutions concerning bishops, presbyters, and other clerics, and further concerning lodging-places for strangers, poor-houses, [pg 556] orphan asylums and others as many as are over the sacred buildings.

(d) Justinian, Novella CXXIII, 1.

Laws governing the ordination of bishops.

We decree that whenever it is necessary to ordain a bishop, the clergy and the leading citizens whose is the bishop who is to be ordained shall make, under peril of their souls, with the holy Gospels placed before them, certificates concerning three persons, testifying in the same certificates that they have not chosen them for any gifts or promises or for reasons of friendship, or any other cause, but because they know that they are of the true and Catholic faith and of honest life, and learned in science and that none of them has either wife or children, and know that they have neither concubine nor natural children, but that if any of them had a wife the same was one and first, neither a widow nor separated from her husband, nor prohibited by the laws and sacred canons; and know that they are not a curial or an official, or, in case they should be such, are not liable to any curial or official duty; and they know that they have in such case spent not less than fifteen years in a monastery. This also is to be contained in the certificate: that they know the person selected by them to be not less than thirty years of age; so that from the three persons for whom these certificates were made the best may be ordained by the choice and at the peril of him who ordains. But a curial or an official who, as has been said, has lived fifteen years in a monastery and is advanced to the episcopate is freed from his rank so that as freed from the curia he may retain a fourth part of his property, since the rest of his property, according to our law, is to be claimed by the curia and fisc. Also we give to those who make the certificate the privilege that if they deem a layman, with the exception of a curial or an official, worthy of the said election, they may choose such layman with the two other clergy or monks, but so, however, that the layman who has in this way been chosen [pg 557] to the episcopate shall not be ordained at once, but shall first be numbered among the clergy not less than three months, and so having learned the holy canons and the sacred ministry of the Church, he shall be ordained bishop; for he who ought to teach others ought not himself to be taught by others after his consecration. But if by chance there are not found in any place three persons eligible to such election, it is permitted those who make the certificates to make them for two or even for only one person, who shall each have the testimonials mentioned by us. But if those who ought to elect a bishop do not make this certificate within six months, then, at the peril of his soul, let him who ought to ordain ordain a bishop, provided, however, that all things which we have said be observed. But if any one is made bishop contrary to the aforesaid rules, we command that he be driven entirely from the episcopate; but as for him who dared to ordain him against these commands, let him be separated from the sacred ministry for a year and all his property, which at any time or in any way shall come into his possession, shall be seized on account of the crime he has committed against the rule of the Church of which he was a bishop.

Ch. 13. We do not permit clergy to be ordained unless they are educated, have the right faith, and an honorable life, and neither have, nor have had, a concubine or natural children, but who either live chastely or have a lawful wife and her one and only, neither a widow not separated from her husband, nor forbidden by laws and sacred canons.

Ch. 14. We do not permit presbyters to be made less than thirty years old, deacons and sub-deacons less than twenty-five, and lectors less than sixteen; nor a deaconess to be ordained207 in the holy Church who is less than forty years old and who has been married a second time.

(e) Justinian, Codex, I, 11.

Law against paganism.

The following laws of Justinian, though of uncertain date, mark the [pg 558] termination of the contest between Christianity and paganism. In the second of these laws there is a reference to the prohibition of pagan teachers. It is in line with the closing of the schools of the heathen teachers at Athens. The decree closing the schools has not been preserved.

Ch. 9. We command that our magistrates in this royal city and in the provinces take care with the greatest zeal that, having been informed by themselves or the most religious bishops of this matter, they make inquiry according to law into all impurities of pagan208 superstitions, that they be not committed, and if committed that they be punished; but if their repression exceed provincial power, these things are to be referred to us, that the responsibility for, and incitement of, these crimes may not rest upon them.

(1) It is permitted no one, either in testament or by gift, to leave or give anything to persons or places for the maintenance of pagan impiety, even if it is not expressly contained in the words of the will, testament, or donation, but can be truly perceived in some other way by the judges. (2) But those things which are so left or given shall be taken from the persons and places to whom they have been given or left, and shall belong to the cities in which such persons dwell or in which such places are situated, so that they may be paid as a form of revenue. (3) All penalties which have been introduced by previous emperors against the errors of pagans or in favor of the orthodox faith are to remain in force and effect forever and guarded by this present pious legislation.

Ch. 10. Because some are found who are imbued with the error of the impious and detestable pagans, and do those things which move a merciful God to just wrath, and that we may not suffer ourselves to leave uncorrected matters which concern these things, but, knowing that they have abandoned the worship of the true and only God, and have in insane error offered sacrifices, and, filled with all impiety, have celebrated solemnities, we subject those who have committed these [pg 559] things, after they have been held worthy of holy baptism, to the punishment appropriate to the crimes of which they have been convicted; but for the future we decree to all by this present law that they who have been made Christians and at any time have been deemed worthy of the holy and saving baptism, if it appear that they have remained still in the error of the pagans, shall suffer capital punishment.

(1) Those who have not yet been worthy of the venerable rite of baptism shall report themselves, if they dwell in this royal city or in the provinces, and go to the holy churches with their wives and children and all the household subject to them, and be taught the true faith of Christians, so that having been taught their former error henceforth to be rejected, they may receive saving baptism, or know, if they regard these things of small value, that they are to have no part in all those things which belong to our commonwealth, neither is it permitted them to become owners of anything movable or immovable, but, deprived of everything, they are to be left in poverty, and besides are subject to appropriate penalties.

(2) We forbid also that any branch of learning be taught by those who labor under the insanity of the impious pagans, so that they may not for this reason pretend that they instruct those who unfortunately resort to them, but in reality corrupt the minds of their pupils; and let them not receive any support from the public treasury, since they are not permitted by the Holy Scriptures or by pragmatic forms [public decrees] to claim anything of the sort for themselves.

(3) For if any one here or in the provinces shall have been convicted of not having hastened to the holy churches with his wife and children, as said, he shall suffer the aforesaid penalties, and the fisc shall claim his property, and they shall be sent into exile.

(4) If any one in our commonwealth, hiding himself, shall be discovered to have celebrated sacrifices or the worship of idols, let him suffer the same capital punishment as the Manich?ans [pg 560] and, what is the same, the Borborani [certain Ophitic Gnostics; cf. DCB], for we judge them to be similar to these.

(5) Also we decree that their children of tender years shall at once and without delay receive saving baptism; but they who have passed beyond their earliest age shall attend the holy churches and be instructed in the Holy Scriptures, and so give themselves to sincere penitence that, having rejected their early error, they may receive the venerable rite of baptism, for in this way let them steadfastly receive the true faith of the orthodox and not again fall back into their former error.

(6) But those who, for the sake of retaining their military rank or their dignity or their goods, shall in pretence accept saving baptism, but have left their wives and children and others who are in their households in the error of pagans, we command that they be deprived of their goods and have no part in our commonwealth, since it is manifest that they have not received holy baptism in good faith.

(7) These things, therefore, we decree against the abominable pagans and the Manich?ans, of which Manich?ans the Borborani are a part.

§ 95. The Definitive Type of Religion in the East: Dionysius the Areopagite

The works of Dionysius the Areopagite first appear in the controversies in the reign of Justinian, when they are quoted in the Conference with the Severians, 531 or 533. There are citations from the works of the Areopagite fifteen or twenty years earlier in the works of Severus, the Monophysite patriarch of Antioch. In this is given the latest date to which they may be assigned. They cannot be earlier than 476, because the author is acquainted with the works of Proclus (411-485) and uses them; also he refers to the practice of singing the Credo in divine service, which was first introduced by the Monophysites at Antioch in 476. No closer determination of the date is possible. The author is wholly unknown.

[pg 561] That he was Dionysius the Areopagite (Acts 17:34) is maintained by no scholar to-day. His standpoint is that of the later Eastern religious feeling and practice, with its strong desire for mysteries and sacramental system. But he brings to it Neo-Platonic thought to such a degree as to color completely his presentation of Christian truth. The effect of the book was only gradual, but eventually very great. In the East it gave authority, which seemed to be that of the apostolic age, for its highly developed system of mysteries, which had grown up in the Church. In the West it served as a philosophical basis for scholastic mysticism. On account of the connection between Dionysius and the later Greek philosophy and the medi?val philosophy, Dionysius the Areopagite occupies a place in the histories of philosophy quite out of proportion to the intrinsic merit of the writer.

Additional source material: English translations of Dionysius the Areopagite, Dean Colet, ed. by J. H. Lupton, London, 1869, and J. Parker, Oxford, 1897 (not complete); a new translation into German appeared in the new edition of the Kempten Bibliothek der Kirchenv?ter, 1912.

(a) Dionysius Areopagita, De C?lesti Hierarchia, III, 2. (MSG, 3:165.)

Dionysius thus defines "Hierarchy":

He who speaks of a hierarchy indicates thereby a holy order … which in a holy manner works the mysteries of illumination which is appropriate to each one. The order of the hierarchy consists in this, that some are purified and others purify; some are illuminated and others illuminate; some are completed and others complete.

(b) De C?lesti Hierarchia, VI, 2. (MSG, 3:200.)

The heavenly hierarchy.

Theology has given to all heavenly existences new explanatory titles. Our divine initiator divides these into three threefold ranks. The first is that, as he says, which is ever [pg 562] about God, and which, as it is related (Ezek. 1), is permanently and before all others immediately united to Him; for the explanation of the Holy Scripture tells us that the most holy throne and the many-eyed and many-winged ranks, which in Hebrew are called cherubim and seraphim, stand before God in the closest proximity. This threefold order, or rank, our great leader names the one, like, and only truly first hierarchy, which is more godlike and stands more immediately near the first effects of the illuminations of divinity than all others. As the second hierarchy, he names that which is composed of authorities, dominions, and powers, and as the third and last of the heavenly hierarchies he names the order of angels, archangels, and principalities.

(c) De Ecclesiastica Hierarchia, I, 1. (MSG, 3:372.)

The nature of the ecclesiastical hierarchy.

That our hierarchy … which is given by God, is God-inspired and divine, a divinely acting knowledge, activity, and completion, we must show from the supernal and most Holy Scriptures to those who through hierarchical secrets and traditions have been initiated into the holy consecration.… Jesus, the most divine and most transcendent spirit, the principle and the being and the most divine power of every hierarchy, holiness, and divine operation, brings to the blessed beings superior to us a more bright and at the same time more spiritual light and makes them as far as possible like to His own light. And through our love which tends upward toward Him, by the love of the beautiful which draws us up to Him, He brings together into one our many heterogeneities; that He might perfect them so as to become a uniform and divine life, condition, and activity, He gives us the power of the divine priesthood. In consequence of this honor we arrive at the holy activity of the priesthood, and so we ourselves come near to the beings over us, that we, so far as we are able, approximate to their abiding and unchangeable holy state and so look up to the blessed and divine brilliancy of [pg 563] Jesus, gaze religiously on what is attainable by us to see, and are illuminated by the knowledge of what is seen; and thus we are initiated into the mystic science, and, initiating, we can become light-like and divinely working, complete and completing.

(d) De Ecclesiastica Hierarchia, V, 3. (MSG, 3:504.)

The most holy consecration of initiation has as the godlike power or activity the expiatory purification of the imperfect, as the second the illuminating consecration of the purified, and as the last, which also includes the other two, the perfecting of the consecrated in the knowledge of the consecrations that belong to them.…

5. The divine order of the hierarch209 is the first under the God-beholding orders; it is the highest and also the last, for in it every other order of our hierarchy ends and is completed.210 For we see that every hierarchy ends in Jesus, and so each one ends in the God-filled hierarchs.

6. The hierarchical order, which is filled full of the perfecting power, performs especially the consecrations of the hierarchy, imparts by revelation the knowledge of the sacred things, and teaches the conditions and powers appropriate to them. The order of priests which leads to light leads to the divine beholding of the sacred mysteries all those who have been initiated by the divine order of the hierarchs and with that order performs its proper sacred functions. In what it does it displays the divine working through the most holy symbols [i.e., sacraments] and makes those who approach beholders and participants in the most holy mysteries, sending on to the hierarch those who desire the knowledge of those sacred rites which are seen. The order of the liturges [or deacons] is that which cleanses and separates the unlike [pg 564] before they come to the sacred rites of the priests, purifies those who approach that it may render them pure from all that is opposing and unworthy of beholding and participating in the sacred mysteries.

(e) De Ecclesiastica Hierarchia, I, 3. (MSG, 3:373.)

The sacraments.

The mysteries or sacraments, according to Dionysius the Areopagite, are six in number: baptism, the eucharist, anointing or confirmation, the consecration of priests, the consecration of monks,211 and the consecration of the dead. These he discusses in chs. 2-7 of the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy.

Salvation can in no other way come about than that the saved are deified. The deification is the highest possible resemblance to God and union with Him. The common aim of all the hierarchy is the love which hangs upon God and things divine, which fills with a divine spirit and works in godlike fashion; and before this is the complete and never retreating flight from that which is opposed to it, the knowledge of being as being, the vision and knowledge of the holy truth, the divinely inspired participation in the homogeneous perfection of the One himself, so far as man can come to that, the enjoyment of the holy contemplation, which spiritually nourishes and deifies every one who strives for it.

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