The Second Council of Constantinople
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. Some Protestants, such as Calvinists, recognize only the first four councils, whereas Lutherans and most Anglo-Catholics accept all seven. Constantinople II was convoked by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I under the presidency of Patriarch Eutychius of Constantinople to condemn the Three Chapters, which were Christological writings of Theodore of Mopsuestia (died 428), certain writings by Theodoret of Cyrrhus (died c. 466), and a letter written by Ibas of Edessa (died 457). This was intended to further condemn Nestorianism and the teaching that Mary could not rightly be calledby her ancient title of Theotokos, or “Mother of God”. The Second Council of Constantinople was also an attempt to bring peace in the empire and heal the schism in the Church between the Chalcedonian and Monophysite fractions which had been in continuous conflict since the Council of Ephesus in AD 431. This attempt at reconciliation, however -largley due to the unprecedented posthumous anathematization of Theodore of Mopsuestia, who had once been widely esteemed as a pillar of orthodoxy— caused further schisms and heresies, such as the semi-monophysite compromises of monoenergism and monotheletism.
Pope Vigilius, who initially opposed the condemnation of the Three Chapters, eventually resigned himself to the advice of the Council, and six months afterwards wrote a letter to the Patriarch Eutychius, wherein he confesses that he has been wanting in charity in dividing from his brethren. He adds, that one ought not to be ashamed to retract, when one recognises the truth, and brings forward the example of Augustine. He says, that, after having better examined the matter of the Three Chapters, he finds them worthy of condemnation.
We recognize for our brethren and colleagues all those who have condemned them, and annul by this writing all that has been done by us or by others for the defense of the three chapters. The manuscript from which this letter was printed was found in the Royal Library of Paris by Peter de Marca and by him first published, with a Latin translation and with a dissertation. Both of these with the Greek text are found in Labbe and Cossart’s Concilia, Tom. V., col. 596 et seqq.; also in Migne’s Patr. Lat., Tom. LXIX., col. 121 et seqq.
Source: 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,
The Second Council of Constantinople (553 A.D.)
The Second Council of Constantinople (553 A.D.)
Source. Translated by Henry Percival. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 14. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1900.)
Session I - Extracts from the Acts
[The Emperor’s Letter which was read to the Fathers.]
[The following is the letter condensed, including Hefele’s digest. History of the Councils, Vol. IV., p. 298.]
The effort of my predecessors, the orthodox Emperors, ever aimed at the settling of controversies which had arisen respecting the faith by the calling of Synods. For this cause Constantine assembled 318 Fathers at Nice, and was himself present at the Council, and assisted those who confessed the Son to be consubstantial with the Father. Theodosius, 150 at Constantinople, Theodosius the younger, the Synod of Ephesus, the Emperor Marcian, the bishops at Chalcedon. As, however, after Marcian’s death, controversies respecting the Synod of Chalcedon had broken out in several places, the Emperor Leo wrote to all bishops of all places, in order that everyone might declare his opinion in writing with regard to this holy Council. Soon afterwards, however, had arisen again the adherents of Nestorius and Eutyches, and caused great divisions, so that many Churches had broken off communion with one another. When, now, the grace of God raised us to the throne, we regarded it as our chief business to unite the Churches again, and to bring the Synod of Chalcedon, together with the three earlier, to universal acceptance. We have won many who previously opposed that Synod; others, who persevered in their opposition, we banished, and so restored the unity of the Church again. But the Nestorians want to impose their heresy upon the Church; and, as they could not use Nestorius for that purpose, they made haste to introduce their errors through Theodore of Mopsuestia, the teacher of Nestorius, who taught still more grievous blasphemies than his. He maintained, e.g., that God the Word was one, and Christ another. For the same purpose they made use of those impious writings of Theodoret which were directed against the first Synod of Ephesus, against Cyril and his Twelve Chapters, and also the shameful letter which Ibas is said to have written. They maintain that this letter was accepted by the Synod of Chalcedon, and so would free from condemnation Nestorius and Theodore who were commended in the letter. If they were to succeed, the Logos could no longer be said to be
made man, nor Mary called the Mother (genetrix) of God. We, therefore, following the holy Fathers, have first asked you in writing to give your judgment on the three impious chapters named, and you have answered, and have joyfully confessed the true faith. Because, however, after the condemnation proceeding from you, there are still some who defend the Three Chapters, therefore we have summoned you to the capital, that you may here, in common assembly, place again your view in the light of day. When, for example, Vigilius, Pope of Old Rome, came hither, he, in answer to our questions, repeatedly anathematised in writing the Three Chapters, and confirmed his steadfastness in this view by much, even by the condemnation of his deacons, Rusticus and Sebastian. We possess still his declarations in his own hand. Then he issued his Judicatum, in which he anathematised the Three Chapters, with the words, Et quoniam, etc. You know that he not only deposed Rusticus and Sebastian because they defended the Three Chapters, but also wrote to Valentinian, bishop of Scythia, and Aurelian, bishop of Arles, that nothing might be undertaken against the Judicatum. When you afterwards came hither at my invitation, letters were exchanged between you and Vigilius in order to a common assembly. But now he had altered his view, would no longer have a synod, but required that only the three patriarchs and one other bishop (in communion with the Pope and the three bishops about him) should decide the matter. In vain we sent several commands to him to take part in the synod. He rejected also our two proposals, either to call a tribunal for decision, or to hold a smaller assembly, at which, besides him and his three bishops, every other patriarch should have place and voice, with from three to five bishops of his diocese.* We further declare that we hold fast to the decrees of the four Councils, and in every way follow the holy Fathers, Athanasius, Hilary, Basil, Gregory the Theologian, Gregory of Nyssa, Ambrose, Theophilus, John (Chrysostom) of Constantinople, Cyril, Augustine, Proclus, Leo and their writings on the true faith. As, however, the heretics are resolved to defend Theodore of Mopsuestia and Nestorius with their impieties, and maintain that that letter of Ibas was received by the Synod of Chalcedon, so do we exhort you to direct your attention to the impious writings of Theodore, and especially to his Jewish Creed which was brought forward at Ephesus and Chalcedon, and anathematized by each synod with those who had so held or did so hold; and we further exhort you to consider what the holy Fathers have written concerning him and his blasphemies, as well as what our predecessors have promulgated, as also what the Church historians have set forth concerning him. You will thence see that he and his heresies have since been condemned and that therefore his name has long since been struck from the diptychs of the Church of Mopsuestia. Consider the absurd assertion that heretics ought not to be anathematized after their deaths; and we exhort you further to follow in this matter the doctrine of the holy Fathers, who condemned not only living heretics but also anathematized after their death those who had died in their iniquity, just as those who had been unjustly condemned they restored after their death and wrote their names in the sacred diptychs; which took place in the case of John and of Flavian of pious memory, both of them bishops of Constantinople. Moreover we exhort you to examine the writing of Theodoret and the supposed letter of Ibas, in which the incarnation of the Word is denied, the expression
Mother of God and the holy Synod of Ephesus rejected, Cyril called a heretic, and Theodore and Nestorius defended and praised. And as they say that the Council of Chalcedon has received this letter, you must compare the declarations of this Council relating to the faith with the contents of the impious letter. Finally, we entreat you to accelerate the matter. For he who when asked concerning the right faith, puts off his answer for a long while, does nothing else but deny the right faith. For in questioning and answering on things which are of faith, it is not he who is found first or second, but he who is the more ready with a right confession, that is acceptable to God. May God keep you, most holy and religious fathers, for many years. Given IV. Nones of May, at Constantinople, in the twenty-seventh year of the reign of the imperial lord Justinian, the perpetual Augustus, and in the twelfth year after the consulate of the most illustrious Basil.
Session VII - Extracts from the Acts
(From the Paris manuscript found in Hardouin Concilia, Tom. III., 171 et seqq.; Mansi, Tom. ix., 346 et seqq. This speech is not found in full in any other ms. The Ballerini [Hefele notes] raise objections to the genuineness of the additions [in Noris. Opp., Tom. IV., 1037], but Hefele does not consider the objections of serious moment. [Hist. of the Councils, Vol. IV., p. 323, note 2.] All the mss. agree that The most glorious quæster of the sacred palace, Constantine, was sent by the most pious Emperor, and when he had entered the Council spoke as follows:
Certum est vestræ beatitudini, quantum, etc. The rest of the speech differs in the different manuscripts. I follow that of Paris.)
Yesterday Vigilius sent Servus Dei, a most reverend Subdeacon of the Roman Church, and invited Belisarius, Cethegus, as also Justinus and Constantine the most glorious consuls, as well as bishops Theodore, Ascidas, Benignus, and Phocas, to come to him as he wished to give through them an answer to the Emperor. They came, but speedily returned and informed the most pious lord, that we had visited Vigilius, the most religious bishop, and that he had said to us:
We have called you for this reason, that you may know what things have been done in the past days. To this end I have written a document about the disputed Three Chapters, addressed to the most pious Emperor, pray be good enough to read it, and to carry it to his Serenity. But when we had heard this and had seen the document written to your serenity, we said to him that we could not by any means receive any document written to the most pious Emperor without his bidding.
But you have deacons for running with messages, by whom you can send it. He, however, said to us:
You now know that I have made the document. But we, bishops, answered him:
If your blessedness is willing to meet together with us and the most holy Patriarchs, and the most religious bishops, and to treat of the Three Chapters and to give, in unison with us all, a suitable form of the orthodox faith, as the Holy Apostles and the holy Fathers and the four Councils have done, we will hold you as our head, as a father and primate. But if your holiness has drawn up a document for the Emperor, you have errand-runners, as we have said; send it by them. And when he had heard these things from us, he sent Servus Dei the Subdeacon, who now awaits the answer of your serenity. And when his Piety had heard this, he commanded through the aforesaid most religious and glorious men, the before-named subdeacon to carry back this message to the most religious Vigilius:
We invited him (you) to meet together with the most blessed patriarchs and other religious bishops, and with them in common to examine and judge the Three Chapters. But since you have refused to do this, and you say that you alone have written by yourself somewhat on the Three Chapters; if you have condemned them, in accordance with those things which you did before, we have already many such statements and need no more; but if you have written now something contrary to these things which were done by you before, you have condemned yourself by your own writing, since you have departed from orthodox doctrine and have defended impiety. And how can you expect us to receive such a document from you?
And when this answer was given by the most pious Emperor, he did not send through the same deacon any document in writing from himself. And all this was done without writing as also to your blessedness.
[He then, according to all the mss., presented certain documents to be read, in the ms. printed by Labbe and Cossart, Tom. V., col. 549 et seqq. These are fewer than in the Paris ms., which last also contains the following just after the reading of the documents and after the Council had declared that they proved the Emperor’s zeal for the faith.]
[The letter was then read.]
The holy Synod said: What has seemed good to the most pious Emperor is congruous to the labours which he bears for the unity of the churches. Let us preserve unity to (ad) the Apostolic See of the most holy Church of ancient Rome, carrying out all things according to the tenor of what has been read. De proposita vero quæstione quod jam promisimus procedat.
The Sentence of the Synod
Our Great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, as we learn from the parable in the Gospel, distributes talents to each man according to his ability, and at the fitting time demands an account of the work done by every man. And if he to whom but one talent has been committed is condemned because he has not worked with it but only kept it without loss, to how much greater and more horrible judgment must he be subject who not only is negligent concerning himself, but even places a stumbling-block and cause of offense in the way of others? Since it is manifest to all the faithful that whenever any question arises concerning the faith, not only the impious man himself is condemned, but also he who when he has the power to correct impiety in others, neglects to do so.
When, therefore, we saw that the followers of Nestorius were attempting to introduce their impiety into the church of God through the impious Theodore, who was bishop of Mopsuestia, and through his impious writings; and moreover through those things which Theodoret impiously wrote, and through the wicked epistle which is said to have been written by Ibas to Maris the Persian, moved by all these sights we rose up for the correction of what was going on, and assembled in this royal city called there by the will of God and the bidding of the most religious Emperor.
And because it happened that the most religious Vigilius stopping in this royal city, was present at all the discussions with regard to the Three Chapters, and had often condemned them orally and in writing, nevertheless afterwards he gave his consent in writing to be present at the Council and examine together with us the Three Chapters, that a suitable definition of the right faith might be set forth by us all. Moreover the most pious Emperor, according to what had seemed good between us, exhorted both him and us to meet together, because it is comely that the priesthood should after common discussion impose a common faith. On this account we besought his reverence to fulfil his written promises; for it was not right that the scandal with regard to these Three Chapters should go any further, and the Church of God be disturbed thereby. And to this end we brought to his remembrance the great examples left us by the Apostles, and the traditions of the Fathers. For although the grace of the Holy Spirit abounded in each one of the Apostles, so that no one of them needed the counsel of another in the execution of his work, yet they were not willing to define on the question then raised touching the circumcision of the Gentiles, until being gathered together they had confirmed their own several sayings by the testimony of the divine Scriptures.
And thus they arrived unanimously at this sentence, which they wrote to the Gentiles:
It has seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us, to lay upon you no other burden than these necessary things, that you abstain from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication.
Nor is there any other way in which the truth can be made manifest when there are discussions concerning the faith, since each one needs the help of his neighbour, as we read in the Proverbs of Solomon:
A brother helping his brother shall be exalted like a walled city; and he shall be strong as a well-founded kingdom; and again in Ecclesiastes he says:
Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.
So also the Lord himself says:
Verily I say unto you that if two of you shall agree upon earth as touching anything they shall seek for, they shall have it from my Father which is in heaven. For wheresoever two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
But when often he had been invited by us all, and when the most glorious judges had been sent to him by the most religious Emperor, he promised to give sentence himself on the Three Chapters (sententiam proferre): And when we heard this answer, having the Apostle’s admonition in mind, that
each one must give an account of himself to God and fearing the judgment that hangs over those who scandalize one, even of the least important, and knowing how much sorer it must be to give offense to so entirely Christian an Emperor, and to the people, and to all the Churches; and further recalling what was said by God to Paul:
Fear not, but speak, and be not silent, for I am with you, and no one can harm you. Therefore, being gathered together, before all things we have briefly confessed that we hold that faith which our Lord Jesus Christ, the true God, delivered to his holy Apostles, and through them to the holy churches, and which they who after them were holy fathers and doctors, handed down to the people credited to them.
O intolerable tongue! O the depravity of the man! O that high hand he lifted up against his Creator! For the wretched man who had promised to know the Scriptures, had no recollection of the words of the Prophet Hosea,
Woe unto them! For they have fled from me: they have become famous because they were impious as touching me; they spoke iniquities against me, and when they had thought them out, they spoke the violent things against me. Therefore shall they fall in the snare by reason of the wickedness of their own tongues. Their contempt shall turn into their own bosom: because they have transgressed my covenant and have acted impiously against my laws.
To these curses the impious Theodore is justly subject. For the prophecies concerning Christ he rejected and hastened to destroy, so far as he had the power, the great mystery of the dispensation for our salvation; attempting in many ways to show the divine words to be nothing but fables, for the mirth of the gentiles, and spurned the other prophetic announcements made against the impious, especially that which the divine Habacuc said of those who teach falsely,
Woe to him that gives his neighbour drink, that puts your bottle to him and makes him drunken that you may look on their nakedness, that is, their doctrines full of darkness and altogether foreign to the light.
And why should we add anything further? For anyone can take in his hands the writings of the impious Theodore or the impious chapters which from his impious writings were inserted by us in our acts, and find the incredible foolishness and the detestable things which he said. For we are afraid to proceed further and again to remember these infamies.
For when the Lord says:
he is judged already, and when the Apostle anathematizes even angels, if they teach anything different from what we have preached, how can even those who dare all things, presume to say that these words refer only to the living? Or are they ignorant, or is it not rather that they feign to be ignorant, that the judgment of anathema is nothing else than that of separation from God? For the impious person, although he may not have been verbally anathematized by anyone, nevertheless he really is anathematized, having separated himself from the true life by his impiety.
For what have they to answer to the Apostle again when he says,
A man that is an heretic reject after the first and second corrections. Knowing that such a man is perverse, and sins, and is condemned by himself.
In accordance with which words Cyril of blessed memory, in the books which he wrote against Theodore, says as follows: They are to be avoided who are in the grasp of such awful crimes whether they be among the quick or not. For it is necessary always to flee from that which is hurtful, and not to have respect of persons, but to consider what is pleasing to God. And again the same Cyril of holy memory, writing to John, bishop of Antioch, and to the synod assembled in that city concerning Theodore who was anathematized together with Nestorius, says thus: It was therefore necessary to keep a brilliant festival, since every voice which agreed with the blasphemies of Nestorius had been cast out no matter whose. For it proceeded against all those who held these same opinions or had at one time held them, which is exactly what we and your holiness have said: We anathematize those who say that there are two Sons and two Christs. For one is he who is preached by us and you, as we have said, Christ, the Son and Lord, only begotten as man, according to the saying of the most learned Paul. And also in his letter to Alexander and Martinian and John and Paregorius and Maximus, presbyters and monastic fathers, and those who with them were leading the solitary life, he so says: The holy synod of Ephesus, gathered together according to the will of God against the Nestorian perfidy with a just and keen sentence condemned together with him the empty words of those who afterwards should embrace or who had in time past embraced the same opinions with him, and who presumed to say or write any such thing, laying upon them an equal condemnation. For it followed naturally that when one was condemned for such profane emptiness of speech, the sentence should not come against one only, but (so to speak) against every one of their heresies or calumnies, which they utter against the pious doctrines of the Christ, worshipping two Sons, and dividing the indivisible, and bringing in the crime of man-worship (anthropolatry), both into heaven and earth. For with us the holy multitude of the supernal spirits adore one Lord Jesus Christ. Moreover several letters of Augustine, of most religious memory, who shone forth resplendent among the African bishops, were read, showing that it was quite right that heretics should be anathematized after death. And this ecclesiastical tradition, the other most reverend bishops of Africa have preserved: and the holy Roman Church as well had anathematized certain bishops after their death, although they had not been accused of any falling from the faith during their lives: and of each we have the evidence in our hands.
For the definition agreed with the one and unchanging faith set forth as well by the 318 holy Fathers as by the 150 and by those who assembled at the first synod at Ephesus. But that impious letter, on the other hand, contained the blasphemies of the heretics Theodore and Nestorius, and defended them, and calls them doctors, while it calls the holy Fathers heretics.
And this we made manifest to all, that we did not have any intention of omitting the Fathers of the first and second interlocutions, which the followers of Theodore and Nestorius cited on their side, but these and all the others having been read and their contents examined, we found that the aforesaid Ibas was not allowed to be received without being compelled to anathematize Nestorius and his impious teachings, which were defended in that epistle. And this the rest of the religious bishops of the aforesaid holy Council did as well as those two whose interlocutions certain tried to use.
For this they observed in the case of Theodoret, and required him to anathematize those things of which he was accused. If therefore they were willing to allow the reception of Ibas in no other manner unless he condemned the impiety which was contained in his letters, and subscribed the definition of faith adopted by the Council, how can they attempt to make out that this impious letter was received by the same holy council? For we are taught,
What fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what concord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has he that believes with an infidel? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols.
The Capitula of the Council
If anyone shall not confess that the nature or essence of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is one, as also the force and the power; [if anyone does not confess] a consubstantial Trinity, one Godhead to be worshipped in three subsistences or Persons: let him be anathema. For there is but one God even the Father of whom are all things, and one Lord Jesus Christ through whom are all things, and one Holy Spirit in whom are all things.
If anyone shall not confess that the Word of God has two nativities, the one from all eternity of the Father, without time and without body; the other in these last days, coming down from heaven and being made flesh of the holy and glorious Mary, Mother of God and always a virgin, and born of her: let him be anathema.
If anyone shall say that the wonder-working Word of God is one [Person] and the Christ that suffered another; or shall say that God the Word was with the woman-born Christ, or was in him as one person in another, but that he was not one and the same our Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God, incarnate and made man, and that his miracles and the sufferings which of his own will he endured in the flesh were not of the same [Person]: let him be anathema.
If anyone shall say that the union of the Word of God to man was only according to grace or energy, or dignity, or equality of honour, or authority, or relation, or effect, or power, or according to good pleasure in this sense that God the Word was pleased with a man, that is to say, that he loved him for his own sake, as says the senseless Theodorus, or [if anyone pretends that this union exists only] so far as likeness of name is concerned, as the Nestorians understand, who call also the Word of God Jesus and Christ, and even accord to the man the names of Christ and of Son, speaking thus clearly of two persons, and only designating disingenuously one Person and one Christ when the reference is to his honour, or his dignity, or his worship; if anyone shall not acknowledge as the Holy Fathers teach, that the union of God the Word is made with the flesh animated by a reasonable and living soul, and that such union is made synthetically and hypostatically, and that therefore there is only one Person, to wit: our Lord Jesus Christ, one of the Holy Trinity: let him be anathema. As a matter of fact the word
union (τῆς ἑνώςεως) has many meanings, and the partisans of Apollinaris and Eutyches have affirmed that these natures are confounded inter se, and have asserted a union produced by the mixture of both. On the other hand the followers of Theodorus and of Nestorius rejoicing in the division of the natures, have taught only a relative union. Meanwhile the Holy Church of God, condemning equally the impiety of both sorts of heresies, recognises the union of God the Word with the flesh synthetically, that is to say, hypostatically. For in the mystery of Christ the synthetical union not only preserves unconfusedly the natures which are united, but also allows no separation.
If anyone understands the expression
one only Person of our Lord Jesus Christ in this sense, that it is the union of many hypostases, and if he attempts thus to introduce into the mystery of Christ two hypostases, or two Persons, and, after having introduced two persons, speaks of one Person only out of dignity, honour or worship, as both Theodorus and Nestorius insanely have written; if anyone shall calumniate the holy Council of Chalcedon, pretending that it made use of this expression [one hypostasis] in this impious sense, and if he will not recognize rather that the Word of God is united with the flesh hypostatically, and that therefore there is but one hypostasis or one only Person, and that the holy Council of Chalcedon has professed in this sense the one Person of our Lord Jesus Christ: let him be anathema. For since one of the Holy Trinity has been made man, viz.: God the Word, the Holy Trinity has not been increased by the addition of another person or hypostasis.
If anyone shall not call in a true acceptation, but only in a false acceptation, the holy, glorious, and ever-virgin Mary, the Mother of God, or shall call her so only in a relative sense, believing that she bare only a simple man and that God the word was not incarnate of her, but that the incarnation of God the Word resulted only from the fact that he united himself to that man who was born [of her]; if he shall calumniate the Holy Synod of Chalcedon as though it had asserted the Virgin to be Mother of God according to the impious sense of Theodore; or if anyone shall call her the mother of a man (ἀνθρωποτόκον) or the Mother of Christ (Χριστοτόκον), as if Christ were not God, and shall not confess that she is exactly and truly the Mother of God, because that God the Word who before all ages was begotten of the Father was in these last days made flesh and born of her, and if anyone shall not confess that in this sense the holy Synod of Chalcedon acknowledged her to be the Mother of God: let him be anathema.
If anyone using the expression,
in two natures, does not confess that our one Lord Jesus Christ has been revealed in the divinity and in the humanity, so as to designate by that expression a difference of the natures of which an ineffable union is unconfusedly made, [a union] in which neither the nature of the Word was changed into that of the flesh, nor that of the flesh into that of the Word, for each remained that it was by nature, the union being hypostatic; but shall take the expression with regard to the mystery of Christ in a sense so as to divide the parties, or recognising the two natures in the only Lord Jesus, God the Word made man, does not content himself with taking in a theoretical manner the difference of the natures which compose him, which difference is not destroyed by the union between them, for one is composed of the two and the two are in one, but shall make use of the number [two] to divide the natures or to make of them Persons properly so called: let him be anathema.
If anyone uses the expression
of two natures, confessing that a union was made of the Godhead and of the humanity, or the expression
the one nature made flesh of God the Word, and shall not so understand those expressions as the holy Fathers have taught, to wit: that of the divine and human nature there was made an hypostatic union, whereof is one Christ; but from these expressions shall try to introduce one nature or substance [made by a mixture] of the Godhead and manhood of Christ; let him be anathema. For in teaching that the only-begotten Word was united hypostatically [to humanity] we do not mean to say that there was made a mutual confusion of natures, but rather each [nature] remaining what it was, we understand that the Word was united to the flesh. Wherefore there is one Christ, both God and man, consubstantial with the Father as touching his Godhead, and consubstantial with us as touching his manhood. Therefore they are equally condemned and anathematized by the Church of God, who divide or part the mystery of the divine dispensation of Christ, or who introduce confusion into that mystery.
If anyone shall take the expression, Christ ought to be worshipped in his two natures, in the sense that he wishes to introduce thus two adorations, the one in special relation to God the Word and the other as pertaining to the man; or if anyone to get rid of the flesh, [that is of the humanity of Christ,] or to mix together the divinity and the humanity, shall speak monstrously of one only nature or essence (φύσιν ἤγουν οὐσίαν) of the united (natures), and so worship Christ, and does not venerate, by one adoration, God the Word made man, together with his flesh, as the Holy Church has taught from the beginning: let him be anathema.
If anyone does not confess that our Lord Jesus Christ who was crucified in the flesh is true God and the Lord of Glory and one of the Holy Trinity: let him be anathema.
If anyone does not anathematize Arius, Eunomius, Macedonius, Apollinaris, Nestorius, Eutyches and Origen, as well as their impious writings, as also all other heretics already condemned and anathematized by the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, and by the aforesaid four Holy Synods and [if anyone does not equally anathematize] all those who have held and hold or who in their impiety persist in holding to the end the same opinion as those heretics just mentioned: let him be anathema.
If anyone defends the impious Theodore of Mopsuestia, who has said that the Word of God is one person, but that another person is Christ, vexed by the sufferings of the soul and the desires of the flesh, and separated little by little above that which is inferior, and become better by the progress in good works and irreproachable in his manner of life, as a mere man was baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, and obtained by this baptism the grace of the Holy Spirit, and became worthy of Sonship, and to be worshipped out of regard to the Person of God the Word (just as one worships the image of an emperor) and that he has become, after the resurrection, unchangeable in his thoughts and altogether without sin. And, again, this same impious Theodore has also said that the union of God the Word with Christ is like to that which, according to the doctrine of the Apostle, exists between a man and his wife,
They two shall be in one flesh. The same [Theodore] has dared, among numerous other blasphemies, to say that when after the resurrection the Lord breathed upon his disciples, saying,
Receive the Holy Ghost, he did not really give them the Holy Spirit, but that he breathed upon them only as a sign. He likewise has said that the profession of faith made by Thomas when he had, after the resurrection, touched the hands and the side of the Lord, viz.:
My Lord and my God, was not said in reference to Christ, but that Thomas, filled with wonder at the miracle of the resurrection, thus thanked God who had raised up Christ. And moreover (which is still more scandalous) this same Theodore in his Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles compares Christ to Plato, Manichæus, Epicurus and Marcion, and says that as each of these men having discovered his own doctrine, had given his name to his disciples, who were called Platonists, Manicheans, Epicureans and Marcionites, just so Christ, having discovered his doctrine, had given the name Christians to his disciples. If, then, anyone shall defend this most impious Theodore and his impious writings, in which he vomits the blasphemies mentioned above, and countless others besides against our Great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, and if anyone does not anathematize him or his impious writings, as well as all those who protect or defend him, or who assert that his exegesis is orthodox, or who write in favour of him and of his impious works, or those who share the same opinions, or those who have shared them and still continue unto the end in this heresy: let him be anathema.
If anyone shall defend the impious writings of Theodoret, directed against the true faith and against the first holy Synod of Ephesus and against St. Cyril and his XII. Anathemas, and [defends] that which he has written in defense of the impious Theodore and Nestorius, and of others having the same opinions as the aforesaid Theodore and Nestorius, if anyone admits them or their impiety, or shall give the name of impious to the doctors of the Church who profess the hypostatic union of God the Word; and if anyone does not anathematize these impious writings and those who have held or who hold these sentiments, and all those who have written contrary to the true faith or against St. Cyril and his XII. Chapters, and who die in their impiety: let him be anathema.
If anyone shall defend that letter which Ibas is said to have written to Maris the Persian, in which he denies that the Word of God incarnate of Mary, the Holy Mother of God and ever-virgin, was made man, but says that a mere man was born of her, whom he styles a Temple, as though the Word of God was one Person and the man another person; in which letter also he reprehends St. Cyril as a heretic, when he teaches the right faith of Christians, and charges him with writing things like to the wicked Apollinaris. In addition to this he vituperates the First Holy Council of Ephesus, affirming that it deposed Nestorius without discrimination and without examination. The aforesaid impious epistle styles the XII. Chapters of Cyril of blessed memory, impious and contrary to the right faith and defends Theodore and Nestorius and their impious teachings and writings. If anyone therefore shall defend the aforementioned epistle and shall not anathematize it and those who defend it and say that it is right or that a part of it is right, or if anyone shall defend those who have written or shall write in its favour, or in defense of the impieties which are contained in it, as well as those who shall presume to defend it or the impieties which it contains in the name of the Holy Fathers or of the Holy Synod of Chalcedon, and shall remain in these offenses unto the end: let him be anathema.
The Anathemas Against Origen
If anyone asserts the fabulous pre-existence of souls, and shall assert the monstrous restoration which follows from it: let him be anathema.
If anyone shall say that the creation (τὴυ παραγωγὴν) of all reasonable things includes only intelligences (νόας) without bodies and altogether immaterial, having neither number nor name, so that there is unity between them all by identity of substance, force and energy, and by their union with and knowledge of God the Word; but that no longer desiring the sight of God, they gave themselves over to worse things, each one following his own inclinations, and that they have taken bodies more or less subtle, and have received names, for among the heavenly Powers there is a difference of names as there is also a difference of bodies; and thence some became and are called Cherubims, others Seraphims, and Principalities, and Powers, and Dominations, and Thrones, and Angels, and as many other heavenly orders as there may be: let him be anathema.
If anyone shall say that the sun, the moon and the stars are also reasonable beings, and that they have only become what they are because they turned towards evil: let him be anathema.
If anyone shall say that the reasonable creatures in whom the divine love had grown cold have been hidden in gross bodies such as ours, and have been called men, while those who have attained the lowest degree of wickedness have shared cold and obscure bodies and have become and called demons and evil spirits: let him be anathema,.
If anyone shall say that a psychic (ψυχικὴν) condition has come from an angelic or archangelic state, and moreover that a demoniac and a human condition has come from a psychic condition, and that from a human state they may become again angels and demons, and that each order of heavenly virtues is either all from those below or from those above, or from those above and below: let him be anathema.
If anyone shall say that there is a twofold race of demons, of which the one includes the souls of men and the other the superior spirits who fell to this, and that of all the number of reasonable beings there is but one which has remained unshaken in the love and contemplation of God, and that that spirit has become Christ and the king of all reasonable beings, and that he has created all the bodies which exist in heaven, on earth, and between heaven and earth; and that the world which has in itself elements more ancient than itself, and which exists by themselves, viz.: dryness, damp, heat and cold, and the image (ιδέαν) to which it was formed, was so formed, and that the most holy and consubstantial Trinity did not create the world, but that it was created by the working intelligence (Ν οῦς δημιρυργός) which is more ancient than the world, and which communicates to it its being: let him be anathema.
If anyone shall say that Christ, of whom it is said that he appeared in the form of God, and that he was united before all time with God the Word, and humbled himself in these last days even to humanity, had (according to their expression) pity upon the various falls which had appeared in the spirits united in the same unity (of which he himself is part), and that to restore them he passed through various classes, had different bodies and different names, became all to all, an Angel among Angels, a Power among Powers, has clothed himself in the different classes of reasonable beings with a form corresponding to that class, and finally has taken flesh and blood like ours and has become man for men; [if anyone says all this] and does not profess that God the Word humbled himself and became man: let him be anathema.
If anyone shall not acknowledge that God the Word, of the same substance with the Father and the Holy Ghost, and who was made flesh and became man, one of the Trinity, is Christ in every sense of the word, but [shall affirm] that he is so only in an inaccurate manner, and because of the abasement (κενώσαντα), as they call it, of the intelligence (νοῦς); if anyone shall affirm that this intelligence united (συνημμένον) to God the Word, is the Christ in the true sense of the word, while the Logos is only called Christ because of this union with the intelligence, and e converso that the intelligence is only called God because of the Logos: let him be anathema.
If anyone shall say that it was not the Divine Logos made man by taking an animated body with a ψυχὴ῾ λογικὴ and νοερὰ, that he descended into hell and ascended into heaven, but shall pretend that it is the Ν οῦς which has done this, that Ν οῦς of which they say (in an impious fashion) he is Christ properly so called, and that he has become so by the knowledge of the Monad: let him be anathema.
If anyone shall say that after the resurrection the body of the Lord was ethereal, having the form of a sphere, and that such shall be the bodies of all after the resurrection; and that after the Lord himself shall have rejected his true body and after the others who rise shall have rejected theirs, the nature of their bodies shall be annihilated: let him be anathema.
If anyone shall say that the future judgment signifies the destruction of the body and that the end of the story will be an immaterial ψύσις, and that thereafter there will no longer be any matter, but only spirit νοῦς): let him be anathema.
If anyone shall say that the heavenly Powers and all men and the Devil and evil spirits are united with the Word of God in all respects, as the Ν οῦς which is by them called Christ and which is in the form of God, and which humbled itself as they say; and [if anyone shall say] that the Kingdom of Christ shall have an end: let him be anathema.
If anyone shall say that Christ [i.e., the Ν οῦς] is in no wise different from other reasonable beings, neither substantially nor by wisdom nor by his power and might over all things but that all will be placed at the right hand of God, as well as he that is called by them Christ [the Ν οῦς], as also they were in the feigned pre-existence of all things: let him be anathema.
If anyone shall say that all reasonable beings will one day be united in one, when the hypostases as well as the numbers and the bodies shall have disappeared, and that the knowledge of the world to come will carry with it the ruin of the worlds, and the rejection of bodies as also the abolition of [all] names, and that there shall be finally an identity of the γνῶσις and of the hypostasis; moreover, that in this pretended apocatastasis, spirits only will continue to exist, as it was in the feigned pre-existence: let him be anathema.
If anyone shall say that the life of the spirits (νοῶν) shall be like to the life which was in the beginning while as yet the spirits had not come down or fallen, so that the end and the beginning shall be alike, and that the end shall be the true measure of the beginning: let him be anathema.
The Anathemas of the Emperor Justinian Against Origen
Whoever says or thinks that human souls pre-existed, i.e., that they had previously been spirits and holy powers, but that, satiated with the vision of God, they had turned to evil, and in this way the divine love in them had died out (ἀπψυγείσας) and they had therefore become souls (ψυχάς) and had been condemned to punishment in bodies, shall be anathema.
If anyone 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.
If anyone says or thinks that the body of our Lord Jesus Christ was first formed in the womb of the holy Virgin and that afterwards there was united with it God the Word and the pre-existing soul, let him be anathema.
If anyone says or thinks that the Word of God has become like to all heavenly orders, so that for the cherubim he was a cherub, for the seraphim a seraph: in short, like all the superior powers, let him be anathema.
If anyone says or thinks that, at the resurrection, human bodies will rise spherical in form and unlike our present form, let him be anathema.
If anyone says that the heaven, the sun, the moon, the stars, and the waters that are above heavens, have souls, and are reasonable beings, let him be anathema.
If anyone says or thinks that Christ the Lord in a future time will be crucified for demons as he was for men, let him be anathema.
If anyone says or thinks that the power of God is limited, and that he created as much as he was able to compass, let him be anathema.
If anyone says or thinks that the punishment of demons and of impious men is only temporary, and will one day have an end, and that a restoration (ἀποκατάστασις) will take place of demons and of impious men, let him be anathema.
Anathema to Origen and to that Adamantius, who set forth these opinions together with his nefarious and execrable and wicked doctrine and to whomsoever there is who thinks thus, or defends these opinions, or in any way hereafter at any time shall presume to protect them.
The Decretal Epistle of Pope Vigilius in Confirmation of the Fifth Ecumenical Synod
Vigilius to his beloved brother Eutychius.
No one is ignorant of the scandals which the enemy of the human race has stirred up in all the world: so that he made each one with a wicked object in view, striving in some way to fulfil his wish to destroy the Church of God spread over the whole world, not only in his own name but even in ours and in those of others to compose diverse things as well in words as in writing; in so much that he attempted to divide us who, together with our brethren and fellow bishops, are stopping in this royal city, and who defend with equal reverence the four synods, and sincerely persist in the one and the same faith of those four synods, by his sophistries and machinations he tried to part from them; so that we ourselves who were and are of the same opinion as they touching the faith, went apart into discord, brotherly love being despised.
But since Christ our God, who is the true light, whom the darkness comprehends not, has removed all confusion from our minds, and has so recalled peace to the whole world and to the Church, so that what things should be defined by us have been healthfully fulfilled through the revelation of the Lord and through the investigation of the truth.
Therefore, my dear brothers, I do you to wit, that in common with all of you, our brethren, we receive in all respects the four synods, that is to say the Nicene, the Constantinopolitan, the first Ephesian, and the Chalcedonian; and we venerate them with devout mind, and watch over them with all our mind. And should there be any who do not follow these holy synods in all things which they have defined concerning the faith, we judge them to be aliens to the communion of the holy and Catholic Church.
Wherefore on account of our desire that you, my brothers, should know what we have done in this matter, we make it known to you by this letter. For no one can doubt how many were the discussions raised on account of the Three Chapters, that is, concerning Theodore, sometime bishop of Mopsuestia, and his writings, as well as concerning the writings of Theodoret, and concerning that letter which is said to have been written by Ibas to Maris the Persian: and how diverse were the things spoken and written concerning these Three Chapters. Now if in every business sound wisdom demands that there should be a retractation of what was propounded after examination, there ought to be no shame when what was at first omitted is made public after it is discovered by a further study of the truth. [And if this is the case in ordinary affairs] how much more in ecclesiastical strifes should the same dictate of sound reason be observed? Especially since it is manifest that our Fathers, and especially the blessed Augustine, who was in very truth illustrious in the Divine Scriptures, and a master in Roman eloquence, retracted some of his own writings, and corrected some of his own sayings, and added what he had omitted and afterward found out. We, led by their example never gave over the study of the questions raised by the controversy with regard to the before-mentioned Three Chapters, nor our search for passages in the writings of our Fathers which were applicable to the matter.
As a result of this investigation it became evident that in the sayings of Theodore of Mopsuestia (which are spoken against on all hands) there are contained very many things contrary to the right faith and to the teachings of the holy Fathers; and for this very reason these same holy Fathers have left for the instruction of the Church treatises which they had written against him.
For among other blasphemies of his we find that he openly said that God the Word was one [Person] and Christ another [Person], vexed with the passions of the soul and with the desires of the flesh, and that he little by little advanced from a lower to a higher stage of excellence by the improvement (προκοπῇ, per profectum operum) of his works, and became irreprehensible in his manner of life. And further he taught that it was a mere man who was baptized in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and that he received through his baptism the grace of the Holy Spirit, and merited his adoption; and therefore that Christ could be venerated in the same way that the image of the Emperor is venerated as being the persona (εἰς πρόσωπον) of God the Word. And he also taught that [only] after his resurrection he became immutable in his thoughts and altogether impeccable.
Moreover he said that the union of the Word of God was made with Christ as the Apostle says the union is made between a man and his wife: They two shall be one flesh; and that after his resurrection, when the Lord breathed upon his disciples and said, Receive the Holy Ghost, he did not give to them the Holy Spirit. In like strain of profanity he dared to say that the confession which Thomas made, when he touched the hands and side of the Lord after his resurrection, saying, My Lord and my God, did not apply to Christ (for Theodore did not acknowledge Christ to be God); but that Thomas gave glory to God being filled with wonder at the miracle of the resurrection, and so said these words.
But what is still worse is this, that in interpreting the Acts of the Apostles, Theodore makes Christ like to Plato, and Manichæus, and Epicurus, and Marcian, saying: Just as each of these were the authors of their own peculiar teachings, and called their disciples after their own names, Platonists, and Manichæans, and Epicureans, and Marcionites, just so Christ invented dogmas and called his followers Christians after himself.
Let therefore the whole Catholic Church know that justly and irreproachably we have arrived at the conclusions contained in this our constitution. Wherefore we condemn and anathematize Theodore, formerly bishop of Mopsuestia, and his impious writings, together with all other heretics, who (as is manifest) have been condemned and anathematized by the four holy Synods aforesaid, and by the Catholic Church: also the writings of Theodoret which are opposed to the right faith, and are against the Twelve Chapters of St. Cyril, and against the first Council of Ephesus, which were written by him in defense of Theodore and Nestorius.
Moreover we anathematize and condemn the letter to the Persian heretic Maris, which is said to have been written by Ibas, which denies that Christ the Word was incarnate of the holy Mother of God and ever-virgin Mary, and was made man, but declares that a mere man was born of her, and this man it styles a temple, so from this we are given to understand that God the Word is one [Person] and Christ another [Person]. Moreover it calumniates Saint Cyril, the master and herald of the orthodox faith, calling him a heretic, and charging him with writing things similar to Apollinaris; and it reviles the first Synod of Ephesus, as having condemned Nestorius without deliberation or investigation; it likewise declares the twelve chapters of St. Cyril to be impious and contrary to the right faith; and further still it defends Theodore and Nestorius, and their impious teachings and writings.
Therefore we anathematize and condemn the aforesaid impious Three Chapters, to-wit, the impious Theodore of Mopsuestia and his impious writings; And all that Theodoret impiously wrote, as well as the letter said to have been written by Ibas, in which are contained the above mentioned profane blasphemies. We likewise subject to anathema whoever shall at any time believe that these chapters should be received or defended; or shall attempt to subvert this present condemnation.
And further we define that they are our brethren and fellow priests who ever keep the right faith set forth by those afore-mentioned synods, and shall have condemned the above-named Three Chapters, or even do now condemn them.
And further we annul and evacuate by this present written definition of ours whatever has been said by me (a me) or by others in defense of the aforesaid Three Chapters.
Far be it from the Catholic Church that anyone should say that all the blasphemies above related or they who held and followed such things, were received by the before-mentioned four synods or by any one of them. For it is most clear, that no one was admitted by the before-mentioned holy Fathers and especially by the Council of Chalcedon, about whom there was any suspicion, unless he had first repelled the above-named blasphemies and all like to them, or else had denied and condemned the heresy or blasphemies of which he was suspected.