Tag Archives: nestorian christianity

Nestorius and Nestorianism

Nestorius, who gave his name to the Nestorian heresy, was born at Germanicia, in Syria Euphoratensis (date unknown); died in the Thebaid, Egypt, c. 451. He was living as a priest and monk in the monastery of Euprepius near the walls, when he was chosen by the Emperor Theodosius II to be Patriarch of Constantinople in succession to Sisinnius. He had a highr eputation for eloquence, and the popularity of St. Chrysostom’s memory among the people of the imperial city may have influenced the Emperor’s choice of another priest from Antioch to be court bishop. He was consecrated in April, 428, and seems to have made an excellent impression. He lost no time in showing his zeal against heretics. Within a few days of hisc onsecration Nestorius had an Arian chapel destroyed, and he persuaded Theodosius to issue a severe edict against heresy in the following month. He had the churches of the Macedoniansin the Hellespont seized, and took measures against the Quartodecimans who remained inA sia Minor. He also attacked the Novatians, in spite of the good reputation of their bishop. Pelagian refugees from the West, however, he did not expel, not being well acquainted with their condemnation ten years earlier. He twice wrote to Pope St. Celestine I for information on the subject. He received no reply, but Marius Mercator, a disciple of St. Augustine, published a memoir on the subject at Constantinople, and presented it to the emperor, who duly proscribed the heretics. At the end of 428, or at latest in the early part of 429, Nestorius preached the first of his famous sermons against the word Theotokos, and detailed hisAntiochian doctrine of the Incarnation. The first to raise his voice against it was Eusebius, alayman, afterwards Bishop of Dorylaeum and the accuser of Eutyches. Two priests of the city,Philip and Proclus, who had both been unsuccessful candidates for the patriarchate, preached against Nestorius. Philip, known as Sidetes, from Side, his birthplace, author of a vast and discursive history now lost, accused the patriarch of heresy. Proclus (who was to succeed later in his candidature) preached a flowery, but perfectly orthodox, sermon, yet extant, to which Nestorius replied in an extempore discourse, which we also possess. All this naturally causedg reat excitement at Constantinople, especially among the clergy, who were clearly not well disposed towards the stranger from Antioch. St. Celestine immediately condemned the doctrine. Nestorius had arranged with the emperor in the summer of 430 for the assembling of a council. He now hastened it on, and the summons had been issued to patriarchs and metropolitans on 19 Nov., before the pope’s sentence, delivered though Cyril of Alexandria, had been served on Nestorius (6 Dec.). At the council Nestorius was condemned, and the emperor, after much delay and hesitation, ratified its finding. It was confirmed by Pope Sixtus III.

Read more here.