Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. II: The Ecclesiastical History of Socrates Scholasticus.: Synod at Ephesus against Nestorius. His Deposition.Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Chapter XXXIV.—Synod at Ephesus against Nestorius. His Deposition.
Not long time elapsed before a mandate from the emperor directed the bishops in all places to assemble at Ephesus. 1013 Immediately after the festival of Easter therefore Nestorius, escorted by a great crowd of his adherents, repaired to Ephesus, and found many of the bishops already there. Cyril bishop of Alexandria making some delay, did not arrive till near Pentecost. Five days after Pentecost, Juvenal bishop of Jerusalem arrived. While John of Antioch was still absent, those who were now congregated entered into the consideration of the question; and Cyril of Alexandria began a sharp skirmish of words, with the design of terrifying Nestorius, for he had a strong dislike for him. When many had declared that Christ was God, Nestorius said: I cannot term him God who was two and three months old. I am therefore clear of your blood, and shall in future come no more among you. Having uttered these words he left the assembly, and afterwards held meetings with the other bishops who entertained sentiments similar to his own. Accordingly those present were divided into two factions. That section which supported Cyril, having constituted themselves a council, summoned Nestorius: but he refused to meet them, and put them off until the arrival of John of Antioch. The partisans of Cyril therefore proceeded to the examination of the public discourses of Nestorius which he had preached on the subject in dispute; and after deciding from a repeated perusal of them that they contained distinct blasphemy against the Son of God, they deposed him. This being done, the partisans of Nestorius constituted themselves another council apart, and therein deposed Cyril himself, and together with him Memnon bishop of Ephesus. Not long after these events, John bishop of Antioch made his appearance; and being informed of what had taken place, he pronounced unqualified censure on Cyril as the author of all this confusion, in having so precipitately proceeded to the deposition of Nestorius. Upon this Cyril combined with Juvenal to revenge themselves on John, and they deposed him also. When affairs reached this confused condition, Nestorius saw that the contention which had been raised was thus tending to the destruction of communion, in bitter regret he called Mary Theotocos, and cried out: Let Mary be called Theotocos, if you will, and let all disputing cease. But although he made this recantation, no notice was taken of it; for his deposition was not revoked, and he was banished to the Oasis, where he still remains. 1014 Such was the conclusion of this Synod. These things were done on the 28th of June, under the consulate of Bassus and Antiochus. 1015 John when he had returned to his bishopric, having convened several bishops, deposed Cyril, who had also returned to his see: but soon afterwards, having set aside their enmity and accepting each other as friends, they mutually reinstated each other in their episcopal chairs. But after the deposition of Nestorius a mighty agitation prevailed through the churches of Constantinople. For the people was divided on account of what we have already called his unfortunate utterances; and the clergy unanimously anathematized him. For such is the sentence which we Christians are accustomed to pronounce on those who have advanced any blasphemous doctrines, when we set up their impiety that it may be publicly exposed, as it were, on a pillar, to universal execration.
This was the third of the Ecumenical or General Synods; it was convened in 431 and dealt with the Nestorian controversy. Cf. Hefele, Hist. of the Councils of the Ch. Vol. III. p. 1; also Evagrius, H. E. I. 2, 3, 4.172:1014
After his deposition Nestorius was banished to the Oasis, as above stated. This Oasis was a miserable place exposed to the wild nomad tribes; all around were shifting sands, forming a pathless solitude. He…employed himself in writing a defense of the opinions for which he had lost all. The Blemmyes at length invaded the Oasis, and took Nestorius, among others, captive; then, by what he calls a most unexpected act of compassion, released him, and bade him hurry away. He thought it best to proceed to Panopolis in the Thebaid, and voluntarily reported himself to the governor, who, unmoved by his pathetic entreaty that the imperial authorities would not be less merciful than the barbarians, ordered some soldiers to convey him to Elephantine. The journey under such circumstances exhausted the old man; a fall severely hurt his hand and side; and before he could reach Elephantine, a mandate came for his return to Panopolis. Two more compulsory changes of abode were added to sufferings which remind us perforce of the last days of S. John Chrysostom; and then the unhappy Nestorius was no more. The exact year of his death cannot be ascertained.—W. Bright, Hist. of the Church from a.d. 313 to 451, p. 371, 372.172:1015
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