Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. XIV:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The First Ecumenical Council: The First Council of Nice.: Excursus on the Rise of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
p. 18 Excursus on the Rise of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
The narrative of the successive steps by which the See of Jerusalem rose from being nothing but Ælia, a Gentile city, into one of the five patriarchal sees is sad reading for a Christian. It is but the record of ambition and, worse still, of knavery. No Christian can for a moment grudge to the Holy City of the old dispensation the honour shewn it by the Church, but he may well wish that the honour had been otherwise obtained. A careful study of such records as we possess shews that until the fifth century the Metropolitan of Cæsarea as often took precedence of the Bishop of Jerusalem as vice versa, and Beveridge has taken great pains to shew that the learned De Marca is in error in supposing that the Council of Nice assigned to Jerusalem a dignity superior to Cæsarea, and only inferior to Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch. It is true that in the signatures the Bishop of Jerusalem does sign before his metropolitan, but to this Beveridge justly replies that the same is the case with the occupants of two other of his suffragan sees. Bishop Beveridges opinion is that the Council assigned Jerusalem the second place in the province, such as London enjoys in the Province of Canterbury. This, however, would seem to be as much too little as De Marcas contention grants too much. It is certain that almost immediately after the Council had adjourned, the Bishop of Jerusalem, Maximus, convoked a synod of Palestine, without any reference to Cæsarea, which consecrated bishops and acquitted St. Athanasius. It is true that he was reprimanded for doing so, 67 but yet it clearly shews how he intended to understand the action of Nice. The matter was not decided for a century more, and then through the chicanery of Juvenal the bishop of Jerusalem.
(Canon Venables, Dict. Christ. Biography.)
Juvenalis succeeded Praylius as bishop of Jerusalem somewhere about 420 a.d. The exact year cannot be determined. The episcopate of Praylius, which commenced in 417 a.d., was but short, and we can hardly give it at most more than three years. The statement of Cyril of Scythopolis, in his Life of St. Euthymius (c. 96), that Juvenal died “in the forty-fourth year of his episcopate,” 458 a.d., is certainly incorrect, as it would make his episcopate begin in 414 a.d., three years before that of his predecessor. Juvenal occupies a prominent position during the Nestorian and Eutychian troubles towards the middle of the fifth century. But the part played by him at the councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon, as well as at the disgraceful λῃστρικὴ σύνοδος of 449, was more conspicuous than creditable, and there are few of the actors in these turbulent and saddening scenes who leave a more unpleasing impression. The ruling object of Juvenals episcopate, to which everything else was secondary, and which guided all his conduct, was the elevation of the see of Jerusalem from the subordinate position it held in accordance with the seventh of the canons of the council of Nicæa, as suffragan to the metropolitan see of Cæsarea, to a primary place in the episcopate. Not content with aspiring to metropolitan rank, Juvenal coveted patriarchal dignity, and, in defiance of all canonical authority, he claimed jurisdiction over the great see of Antioch, from which he sought to remove Arabia and the two Phœnicias to his own province. At the council of Ephesus, in 431, he asserted for “the apostolic see of Jerusalem the same rank and authority with the apostolic see of Rome” (Labbe, Concil. iii. 642). These falsehoods he did not scruple to support with forged documents (“insolenter ausus per commentitia scripta firmare,” Leo. Mag. Ep. 119 ), and other disgraceful artifices. Scarcely had Juvenal been consecrated bishop of Jerusalem when he proceeded to assert his claims to the metropolitan rank by his acts. In the letter of remonstrance against the proceedings of the council of p. 19 Ephesus, sent to Theodosius by the Oriental party, they complain that Juvenal, whose “ambitious designs and juggling tricks” they are only too well acquainted with, had ordained in provinces over which he had no jurisdiction (Labbe, Concil. iii. 728). This audacious attempt to set at nought the Nicene decrees, and to falsify both history and tradition was regarded with the utmost indignation by the leaders of the Christian church. Cyril of Alexandria shuddered at the impious design (“merito perhorrescens,” Leo. u. s.), and wrote to Leo, then archdeacon of Rome, informing him of what Juvenal was undertaking, and begging that his unlawful attempts might have no sanction from the apostolic See (“ut nulla illicitis conatibus præberetur assensio,” u. s.). Juvenal, however, was far too useful an ally in his campaign against Nestorius for Cyril lightly to discard. When the council met at Ephesus Juvenal was allowed, without the slightest remonstrance, to take precedence of his metropolitan of Cæsarea, and to occupy the position of vice-president of the council, coming next after Cyril himself (Labbe, Concil. iii. 445), and was regarded in all respects as the second prelate in the assembly. The arrogant assertion of his supremacy over the bishop of Antioch, and his claim to take rank next after Rome as an apostolical see, provoked no open remonstrance, and his pretensions were at least tacitly allowed. At the next council, the disgraceful Latrocinium, Juvenal occupied the third place, after Dioscorus and the papal legate, having been specially named by Theodosius, together with Thalassius of Cæsarea (who appears to have taken no umbrage at his suffragan being preferred before him), as next in authority to Dioscorus (Labbe, Concil. iv. 109), and he took a leading part in the violent proceedings of that assembly. When the council of Chalcedon met, one of the matters which came before it for settlement was the dispute as to priority between Juvenal and Maximus Bishop of Antioch. The contention was long and severe. It ended in a compromise agreed on in the Seventh Action, μετὰ πολλὴν φιλονεικίαν . Juvenal surrendered his claim to the two Phœnicias and to Arabia, on condition of his being allowed metropolitical jurisdiction over the three Palestines (Labbe, Concil. iv. 613). The claim to patriarchal authority over the Bishop of Antioch put forward at Ephesus was discreetly dropped. The difficulty presented by the Nicene canon does not appear to have presented itself to the council, nor was any one found to urge the undoubted claims of the see of Cæsarea. The terms arranged between Maximus and Juvenal were regarded as satisfactory, and received the consent of the assembled bishops (ibid. 618). Maximus, however, was not long in repenting of his too ready acquiescence in Juvenals demands, and wrote a letter of complaint to pope Leo, who replied by the letter which has been already quoted, dated June 11, 453 a.d., in which he upheld the binding authority of the Nicene canons, and commenting in the strongest terms on the greediness and ambition of Juvenal, who allowed no opportunity of forwarding his ends to be lost, declared that as far as he was concerned he would do all he could to maintain the ancient dignity of the see of Antioch (Leo Magn. Ep. ad Maximum, 119 ). No further action, however, seems to have been taken either by Leo or by Maximus. Juvenal was left master of the situation, and the church of Jerusalem has from that epoch peaceably enjoyed the patriarchal dignity obtained for it by such base means.
Socrates: Hist. Eccl., ii. 24.
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