The Threatened Series - 13
THE ANIOCHENE TRADITION. It will be helpful at this point to mention
the succession of teachers in the Antiochene tradition, and some of the
characteristics of their teaching.
DIODORE OF TARSUS (d. 390) was a native of Antioch. He studied in
Athens and then ruled a monastery near Antioch until the strength of
Arianism drew him into the city to combat it. He became Bishop of
Tarsus in 378 and was considered a model of orthodoxy; in fact in 381
the Emperor Theodosius named him as a bishop being in communion with
whom was a test of orthodoxy. He upheld the Antiochene tradtion in
theology, insisting on the literal and historical exegesis of scripture
(as opposed to the Alexandrian school, who following Origen were rather
fond of the allegorical exegesis). He insisted, against Apollinarius,
on the full humanity of Christ.
THEODORE OF MOPSUESTIA (350-428), Antiochene theologian and exegete,
was a pupil of Diodore. He studied rhetoric with the pagan teacher
Libanius at Antioch, then, in 369, with his friend John Chrysostom,
entered the school of Diodore in Antioch. In 392 he became Bishop of
Mopsuestia, remaining for the rest of his life in the see and gaining a
reputation for learning and orthodoxy. In his biblical commentaries he
used scientific, critical, philological and historical methods,
following Diodore and rejecting the Alexandrian tradition of
allegorical exegesis. Neither Theodore nor Diodore were accused of
heresy during their own lifetime.
JOHN CHRYSOSTOM (347-407) studied with Theodore in the schools of both
Libanius and Diodore. He wrote sermons of many books of the Bible -
Genesis, Psalms, Isaiah, Matthew, John, Acts, the Pauline Epistles,
Hebrews. In the Antiochene tradition, he stressed the literal sense as
opposed to the allegorical. He incurred the enmity of the Patriarch of
Alexandria, and of the Empress Eudoxia. Despite the support of the
people of Constantinople, of the Pope and of the entire western Church,
he was deposed and exiled, and died from his harsh treatment in 407.
He has never been accused of heresy, and indeed is considered a Saint
and a Doctor of the Church.
NESTORIUS (born after 351, died after 451) entered a monstery in
Antioch, and was taught in the Antiochene tradition, probably by
Theodore of Mopsuestia. In 428, with the support of the Emperor
Theodosius II, he was made Patriarch of Constantinople. He considered
himself a strong supporter of orthodoxy and a foe to heretics and
schismatics. He opposed the term 'Theotokos' (God-bearer, Mother of
God) because it seemed to him to smack of Apollinarianism. The word
had long been in use among theologians of the highest orthodoxy. He
was opposed (of course) by the Alexandrians, notably Cyril of
Alexandria and the Egyptian monks. The Pope (Celestine) held a council
in Rome in 430 and condemned Nestorius' teaching. Cyril was
commissioned to pronounce sentence of deposition on Nestorius. In the
next year, 431, the Emperor summoned an Ecumenical Council (the third
in the series) to meet at Ephesus. This deposed Nestorius, who was
sent back to his monastery in Antioch, and later into exile, where he
died. We shall look at the teaching of Nestorius in more detail in
THEODORET OF CYRRHUS (393-460), was a native of Antioch, and was
educated in its monastery schools. He was consecrated Bishop of
Cyrrhus in 423, and governed his diocese with great wisdom and
munificence, at the same time fighting paganism and heresy. He was a
friend and admirer of Nestorius, and took his side against Cyril of
Alexandria, whom he detected a new form of Apollinarianism. He
accepted to title 'theotokos' only in a figurative (Pickwickian?)
sense. He continued to oppose Cyril after the Council of Ephesus. He
was deposed by the another council in Ephesus (the so-called
'Latrocinium' or 'den of thieves', of which more later) but later
reinstated. He attended the Council of Chalcedon (451) where he was
persuaded, reluctantly, to anathematize Nestorius. He spent the rest
of his life in peaceful possession of his see, and was never, during
his lifetime, convicted of heresy by any reputable authority.
IBAS (Bishop of Edessa from 435 to 449 and from 451 to 457 was closely
associated with the policy and doctrine of Theodoret. Like Thedoret be
was deposed by the Latrocinium and reinstated at Chalcedon.
The Supple Doctor.
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