Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

The history of this sect and of its ramifications has been summarized under E UTYCHIANISM (the nickname somewhat unfairly given by Catholic controversialists). The theology of Monophysitism has also been described under the same heading. Two points are discussed in the following article: first, the literary activity of the Monophysites both in Greek and Syriac ; secondly, the question whether they can be exculpated from material heresy in their Christology.

LITERARY HISTORY

From many points of view the Monophysites are the most important of early heresies, and no heresy or related group of heresies until the sixteenth century has produced so vast and important a literature. A large portion of this is lost; some remains in manuscript, and of late years important publications have brought much of this material to the light of day. Nearly all the Greek literature has perished in its original form, but much of it survives in early Syriac translations, and the Syriac literature itself is extant in yet greater amount. The scientific, philosophical, and grammatical writings of Monophysites must for the most part be passed over here. Ecclesiastical history and biography, as well as dogmatic and polemical writings will be described for the fifth and sixth centuries, together with a few of the chief works of the centuries immediately following.

Dioscurus has left us but a few fragments. The most important is in the "Hist. Misc.", III, i, from a letter written in exile at Gangra, in which the banished patriarch declares the reality and completeness of our Lord's Human Body, intending evidently to deny that he had approved the refusal of Eutyches to admit Christ's consubstantiality with us.

Timothy Ælurus (d. 477) who had been ordained priest by St. Cyril himself, and preserved a profound attachment to that saint, published an edition of some of his works. He accompanied Dioscurus to the robber Council of Ephesus in 449, as he says himself "together with my brother the blessed priest Anatolius" (the secretary of Dioscurus, promoted by him to the See of Constantinople). It is not necessary to infer that Timothy and Anatolius were brothers. When the death in exile of Dioscurus (September 454) was known, Timothy assumed the leadership of those who did not acknowledge the orthodox Patriarch Proterius, and demanded a new bishop. He had with him four or five deprived bishops. The riots which followed were renewed at the death of the Emperor Marcian, and Proterius was murdered. Even before this, Timothy had been consecrated patriarch by two bishops. Eusebius of Pelsium and the famous Peter the Iberian, Bishop of Maïuma, the latter not even an Egyptian. At Constantinople Anatolius was scarcely his enemy; the minister Aspar was probably his friend; but the Emperor Leo certainly desired to acquiesce in the demands for Timothy's deposition addressed to him by the orthodox bishops of Egypt and by Pope St. Leo, and he punished the murderers of Proterius at once. Meanwhile Ælurus was expelling from their sees all bishops who accepted the Council of Chalcedon. It was not, however, till Anatolius was dead (3 July, 458) and had been succeeded by St. Gennadius, that the Emperor put into effect the opinion he had elicited from all the bishops of the East in the "Encyclia", by exiling Ælurus first to Gangrus in Paphlagonia, and then in 460 to the Cheronesus. During the reign of Basilicus he was restored, at the end of 475, and Zeno spared his old age from molestation.

Under E UTYCHIANISM something has been said of his theology, and more will be found below. Of his works a fragment on the Two Natures, is in Migne (P.G., LXXXVI, 273). The unpublished Syriac collection of his works (in British Mus., manuscript Addit. 12156, sixth cent.) contains

  • a treatise against the "Dyophysites" ( Catholics ) which consists mainly of a collection of extracts from the Fathers against the Two Natures, the last of the citations being from letters of Dioscurus. This is, however, but a summary of a larger work, which has recently been published entire in an Armenian translation under the title of "Refutation of the Council of Chalcedon ". We learn from Justinian that the original was written in exile.
  • Extracts from a letter written to the city of Constantinople against the Eutychianizers Isaias of Hermopolis and Theophilus, followed by another florigeium from "the Fathers" (almost entirely from Apollinarian forgeries). This letter is preserved entire by Zacharias (in Hist. Misc., IV, xii, where it is followed by the second letter) and also in the "Chronicle" of Michael the Syrian.
  • A second letter against the same.
  • Extracts from two letters to all Egypt, the Thebaid, and Pentapolis on the treatment of Catholic bishops, priests, and monks who should join the Monophysites.
  • A refutation of the Synod of Chalcedon and of the Tome of Leo, written between 454 and 460, in two parts, according to the title, and concluding with extracts from the "Acts" of the Robber Synod and four documents connected with it.
  • A short prayer which Blessed Timothy used to make over those who returned from the communion of the Dyophysites.
  • Exposition of the faith of Timothy, sent to the Emperor Leo by Count Rusticus, and an abridged narration of what subsequently happened to him. A similar supplication of Ælurus to Leo, sent by the silentiary Diomede, is mentioned by Anastasius Sin. The contents of this manuscript are largely cited by Lebon.
A translation into Latin of patristic testimonies collected by Ælurus was made by Gennadius Massil , and is to be identified with the Armenian collection. A Coptic list of Timothy's works mentions one on the Canticle of Canticles. The "Plerophoria" (33, 36) speak of his book of "Narrations", from which Crum (p. 71) deduces an ecclesiastical history by Timothy in twelve books. Lebon does not accept the attribution to Timothy of the Coptic fragments by which Crum established the existence of such a work, but he finds (p. 110) another reference to a historical work by the patriarch in manuscript Addit. 14602 (Chabot, "Documenta", 225 sqq.).

Peter Mongus of Alexandria was not a writer. His letters in Coptic are not genuine; though a complete Armenian text of them has been published, which is said to be more probably authentic. Peter Fullo of Alexandria similarly left no writings. Letter addressed to him exist, but are certainly spurious.

Timothy IV , Patriarch of Alexandria (517-535), composed "Antirrhetica" in many books. This polemical work of his was lost; but a homily of his remains and a few fragments. Theodosius, Patriarch of Alexandria (10-11 February, 535, and again July, 535- 537 or 538) has left us a few fragments and two letters. The Severians of Alexandria were called Theodosians after him, to distinguish them from the Gaianites who followed his Incorruptibilist rival Gaianus. The latter left no writings.

Severus: The most famous and the most fertile of all the Monophysite writers was Severus, who was Patriarch of Antioch (512-518), and died in 538. We have his early life written by his friend Zacharias Scholasticus; a complete biography was composed soon after his death by John, the superior of the monastery where Severus had first embraced the monastic life . he was born at Sozopolis in Pisidia, his father being a senator of the city, and descended from the Bishop of Sozopolis who had attended the Council of Ephesus in 431. After his father's death he was sent to study rhetoric at Alexandria, being yet a catechumen, as it was the custom in Pisidia to delay baptism until a beard should appear. Zacharias, who was his fellow-student, testifies to his brilliant talents and the great progress he made in the study of rhetoric. He was enthusiastic over the ancient orators, and also over Libanius. Zacharias induced him to read the correspondence of Libanius with St. Basil, and the works of the latter and of St. Gregory of Nazianzus , and he was conquered by the power of Christian oratory. Severus went to study law at Berytus about the autumn of 486, and he was followed thither by Zacharias a year later. Severus was alter accused of having been in youth a worshiper of idols and a dealer in magical arts (so the libellus of the Palestinian monks at the council of 536), and Zacharias is at pains to refute this calumny indirectly, though at great length, by relating interesting stories of the discovery of a hoard of idols in Menuthis in Egypt and of the routing of necromancers and enchanters at Berytus; in both these exploits the friends of Severus took a leading part, and Zacharias asks triumphantly whether they would have consorted with Severus had he not agreed with them in the hatred of paganism and sorcery. Zacharias continued to influence him, by his own account, and induced him to devote the free time which the students had at their disposal on Saturday afternoons and Sundays to the study of the Fathers. Other students joined the pious company of which an ascetic student named Evagrius became leader, and every evening they prayed together in the Church of the Resurrection. Severus was persuaded to be baptized. Zacharias refused to be his godfather, for he declared that he did not communicate with the bishops of Phoenicia, so Evagrius stood sponsor, and Severus was baptized in the church of the martyr, Leontius, at Tripolis.

After his baptism Severus renounced the use of baths and betook himself to fasting and vigils. Two of his companions departed to become monks under Peter the Iberian. When the news of the death of that famous monk (488) arrived, Zacharias and several others entered his monastery of Beith-Aphthonia, at the native place of Zacharias, the port of Gaza (known also as Maïuma), where Peter had been bishop. Zacharias did not persevere, but returned to the practice of the law. Severus intended to practise in his own country, but he first visited the shrine of St. Leontius of Tripolis, the head of St. John Baptist at Emea, and then the holy places of Jerusalem, with the result that he joined Evagrius who was already a monk at Maïuma, the great austerities there did not suffice for Severus, and he preferred the life of a solitary in the desert of Eleutheropolis. Having reduced himself to great weakness he was obliged to pass some time in the monastery founded by Romanus, after which he returned to the laura of the port of Gaza, in which was the convent of Peter the Iberian. Here he spent what his charities had left of his patrimony in building a monastery for the ascetics who wished to live under his direction. His quiet was rudely disturbed by Nephalius, a former leader of the Acephali, who was said to have once had 30,000 monks ready to march on Alexandria when, at the end of 482, Peter Mongus accepted the Henoticon and became patriarch. Later on Nephalius joined the more moderate Monophysites, and finally the Catholics, accepting the council of Chalcedon. About 507-8 he came to Maïuma, preached against Severus, and obtained the expulsion of the monks from their convents. Severus betook himself to Constantinople with 200 monks, and remained there three years, influencing the Emperor Anastasius as far as he could in the support of the Henoticon, against the Catholics on the one hand and the irreconcilable Acephali on the other. He was spoken of as successor to the Patriarch Macedonius who died in August 511. The new patriarch, Timotheus, entered into the views of Severus, who returned to his cloister. In the following year he was consecrated Patriarch of Antioch, 6 November 512, in succession to Flavian, who was banished by the emperor to Arabia for the half-heartedness of his concessions to Monophysitism. Elias of Jerusalem refused to recognized Severus as Patriarch, and many other bishops were equally hostile. However, at Constantinople and Alexandria he was supported, and Elias was deposed. Severus exercised a most active episcopacy, living still like a monk, having destroyed the baths in his palace, and having dismissed the cooks. He was deposed in September, 518, on the accession of Justin, as a preparation for reunion with the West. He fled to Alexandria.

In the reign of Justinian the patronage accorded to the Monophysites by Theodora raised their hopes. Severus went to Constantinople where he fraternized with the ascetical Patriarch Anthimus, who had already exchanged friendly letters with him and with Theodosius of Alexandria. The latter was deposed for heresy by Pope Agapetus on his arrival in Constantinople in 536. His successor Mennas held a great council of sixty-nine bishops in the same year after the pope ;s departure in the presence of the papal legates, solemnly heard the case of Anthimus and reiterated his deposition. Mennas knew Justinian's mind as was determined to be orthodox : "We, as you know ", said he to the council, "follow and obey the Apostolic See , and those with whom it communicates we have in our communion, and those whom it condemns, we condemn." The Easterns were consequently emboldened to present petitions against Severus and Peter of Apamea. It is from these documents that we have our main knowledge of Severus from the point of view of his orthodox opponents. One petition is from seven bishops of Syria Secunda, two others are from ninety-seven monasteries of Palestine and Syria Secunda to the emperor and to the council. Former petitions of 518 were recited. The charges are somewhat vague (or the facts are supposed known) of murders, imprisonments, and chains, as well as of heresy. Mennas pronounced the condemnation of these heretics for contemning the succession from the Apostles in the Apostolic See, for setting at nought the patriarchal see of the royal city and its council, the Apostolic succession from our Lord in the holy places (Jerusalem), and the sentence of the whole Diocese of Oriens. Severus retired to Egypt once more and to his eremitical life. He died, 8 February, 538, refusing to take a bath even to save his life, though he was persuaded to allow himself to be bathed with his clothes on. Wonders are said to have followed his death, and miracles to have been worked by his relics. He has always been venerated by the Jacobite Church as one of its principal doctors.

His literary output was enormous. A long catalogue of works is given by Assemani. Only a few fragments survive in the original Greek, but a great quantity exists in Syriac translations, some of which has been printed. The early works against Nephalius are lost. A dialogue, "Philalethes", against the supporters of the Council of Chalcedon was composed during the first stay of Severus at Constantinople, 509-11. It was a reply to an orthodox collection of 250 extracts from the works of St. Cyril. An answer seems to have been written by John the Grammarian of Caesarea, and Severus retorted with an "Apology for Philalethes" (remains of the attack and retort in Cod. Vat. Syr. 140 and Cod. Venet. Marc. 165). A work "Contra Joannem Grammaticum" which had a great success, and seems to have long been regarded by the Monophysites as a triumph, was probably written in exile after 519. Severus was not an original theologian. He had studied the Cappadocians and he depended much on the Apollinarian forgeries; but in the main he follows St. Cyril in every point without conscious variation.

A controversy with Sergius the Grammarian, who went too far in his zeal for the "One Nature ", and whom Severus consequently styles a Eutychian, is preserved in manuscript Addit. 17154. This polemic enabled Severus to define more precisely the Monophysite position, and to guard himself against the exaggerations which were liable to result from the habit of restricting theology to attacks on Chalcedon. In his Egyptian exile Severus was occupied with his controversy with Julian of Halicarnassus. We also hear of works on the two natures "against Felicissimus ", and "Against the Codicils of Alexander". Like all Monophysites his theology is limited to the controversial questions. Beyond these he has no outlook. Of the numerous sermons of Severus, those which he preached at Antioch are quoted as "Homilae cathedrales ". They have come down to us in two Syriac translations; one was probably made by Paul, Bishop of Callinicus, at the beginning of the sixth century, the other by Jacob Barandai, was completed in 701. Those which have been printed are of astonishing eloquence. A diatribe against he Hippodrome may be especially noted, for it is very modern in its denunciation of the cruelty to the horses which was involved in the chariot races. A fine exhortation to frequent communion is in the same sermon. The letters of Severus were collected in twenty-three books, and numbered no less than 3759. The sixth book is extant. It contains theological letters besides many proofs of the varied activities of the patriarch in his episcopal functions. He also composed hymns for the people of Antioch, since he perceived that they were fond of singing. His correspondence with Anthimus of Constantinople is found in "Hist. Misc.", IX, xxi-xxii.

Julian , Bishop of Halicarnassus, joined with Severus in the intrigue by which Macedonius was deposed from the Patriarchate of Constantinople in 511. He was exiled on the accession of Justin in 518, and retired to the monastery of Enaton, nine miles from Alexandria. He was already of advanced age. Here he wrote a work "Against the Diphysites" in which he spoke incorrectly according to Severus, who nevertheless did not reply. But Julian himself commenced a correspondence with him (it is preserved in the Syriac translation made in 528 by Paul of Callinicus, and also partially in the "Hist. Misc.", IX, x-xiv) in which he begged his opinion on the question of the incorruptibility of the Body of Christ. Severus replied, enclosing an opinion which is lost, and in answer to a second letter from Julian wrote a long epistle which Julian considered to be wanting in respect, especially as he had been obliged to wait for it for a year and a month. Parties were formed. The Julianists upheld the incorruptibility of the Body of Christ, meaning that Christ was not naturally subject to the ordinary wants of hunger, thirst, weariness, etc., nor to pain, but that He assumed them of His free will for our sakes. They admitted that He is "consubstantial with us", against Eutyches, yet they were accused by the Severians of Eutychianism, Manichaeism, and Docetism, and were nicknamed Phantasiasts, Aphthartodocetae, or Incorrupticolae. They retorted by calling the Severians Phthartolotrae (Corrupticolae), or Ktistolatrae, for Severus taught that our Lord's Body was "corruptible" by its own nature ; that was scarcely consistent, as it can only be of itself "corruptible" when considered apart from the union, and the Monophysites refused to consider the Human Nature of Christ apart from the union. Justinian, who in his old age turned more than ever to the desire of conciliating the Monophysites (in spite of his failure to please them by condemning the "three chapters"), was probably led to favour Julian because he was the opponent of Severus, who was universally regarded as the great foe of orthodoxy. The emperor issued in edict in 565 making the "incorruptibility" an obligatory doctrine, in spite of the fact that Julian had been anathematized by a council of Constantinople in 536, at which date he had probably been dead for some years.

A commentary by Julian on the Book of Job, in a Latin version, was printed in an old Paris edition of Origen (ed. Genebrardus, 1574). A manuscript of the original Greek is mentioned by Mai. It is largely quoted in the catena on Job of Nicetas of Heraclea. The great work of Julian against Severus seems to be lost. Ten anathematisms remain. Of his commentaries, one on Matthew is cited by Moses Barkepha (P.G., CXI, 551). It is to be hoped that some of Julian's works will be recovered in Syriac or Coptic translations. An anti-Julianist catena in the British Museum ( manuscript Addit. 12155) makes mention of Julian's writings. We hear of a treatise by him, "Against the Eutychianists and Manichaens", which shows that Julian, like his great opponent Severus, had to be on his guard against extravagant Monophysites. Part of the treatise which Peter of Callinicus , Patriarch of Antioch (578-591), wrote against the Damianists is extant in Syriac manuscripts (See Assemani's and Wright's catalogues).

The writers of the Tritheist sect next demand our attention. The chief among them John Philoponus , of Caesarea, was Patriarch of the Tritheists at Alexandria at the beginning of the sixth century, and was the principal writer of his party. He was a grammarian, a philosopher, and an astronomer as well as a theologian. His principal theological work, Diaitetes e peri henoseos , in ten books, is lost. It dealt with the Christological and Trinitarian controversies of his age, and fragments of it are found in Leontius (De sectis, Oct. 5) in St. John Damascene (De haer., I, 101-107, ed. Le Quien ) and in Niceph. Call., XCIII (see Mansi, XI, 301). A complete Syriac translation is in Brit. Mus. and Vat. manuscripts. Another lost theological work, peri anastaseos , described the writer's theory of a creation of new bodies at the general resurrection ; it is mentioned by Photius (cod. 21-23), by Timotheus Presbyter and Nicephorus. As a philosopher Philoponus was an Aristotelian, and a disciple of the Aristotelian commentator Ammonius, son of Hermeas. His own commentaries on Aristotle were printed by Aldus at Venice (on "De generatione et interitu", 1527; "Analytica posteriora", 1534; "Analytica priora", 1536; "De nat. auscult.", I-IV, and "De anima", 1535; "Meteorologica", I, 1551; "Metaphysica", 1583). He also wrote much against the Epicheiremata of Proclus, the last great Neoplatonist: eighteen books on the eternity of the world (Venice, 1535), composed in 529, and peri kosmopoitas (printed by Corderius, Vienna, 1630, and in Gallandi, XII; new ed. by Reichert, 1897), on the Hexaemeron, in which he follows St. Basil and other Fathers, and shows a vast knowledge of all the literature and science accessible in his day. The latter work is dedicated to a certain Sergius, who may perhaps be identified with Sergius the Grammarian, the Eutychianizing correspondent of Severus. The work was possibly written as early as 517 (for 617 in the editions is evidently a clerical error ). A "Computatio de Pascha", printed after this work, argues that the Last Supper was on the 13th of Nizan, and was not a real passover. A lost theological work (entitled tmemata is summarized by Michael the Syrian (Chronicle, II, 69). A book against the Council of Chalcedon is mentioned by Photius (cod. 55). A work "Contra Andream" is preserved in a Syriac manuscript. Another work "Against the Acephali" exists in manuscript, and may be the work Philoponus is known to have written in controversy with Severus. In grammar his master was Romanus, and his extant writings on the subject are based upon the katholike of Herodian ( tonika paraggelmata , ed. Dindorf, 1825; peri ton diaphoros tonoumenon , ed. Egenolff, 1880).

This sixth century Monophysite is to be distinguished from an earlier grammarian, also called Philoponus, who flourished under Augustus and Tiberius. Of his life little is known. On account of his Tritheistic opinions he was summoned to Constantinople by Justinian, but he excused himself on account of his age and infirmity. He addressed to the emperor a treatise "De divisione, differentia, et numero", which seems to be the same as a treatise spoken of as "De differentia quae manere creditur in Christo post unionem"; but it is lost. He addressed an essay on Tritheism to Athanasius Monachus, and was condemned on this account at Alexandria. At a disputation held by the emperor's order before the Patriarch of Constantinople John Scholasticus, Conon, and Eugenius represented the Tritheists ; John condemned Philoponus, and the emperor issued an edict against the sect (Photius, cod. 24). In 568 Philoponus was still alive, for he published a pamphlet against John, which Photius describes with great severity (cod. 75). The style of Philoponus, he says, is always clear, but without dignity, and his argumentation is puerile. (For the theological views of the sect, see T RITHEISTS ).

Conon , Bishop of Tarsus, though a Tritheist and, with Eugenius, a supporter of John Philoponus before the emperor, disagreed with that writer about the equality of the three Persons of the Holy Trinity ( see T RITHEISTS ), and together with Eugenius and Themistius wrote a book, kata Ioannou , against his views on the Resurrection. Eugenius is called a Cilician bishop by John of Ephesus, but Bar Habraeus makes him Bishop of Selucia in Isauria ( see T RITHEISTS ). Themistius, surnamed Calonymus, was a deacon of Alexandria, who separated from his patriarch, Timothy IV (517-535), and founded the sect of Agnoetae. He wrote against Severus a book called "Apology for the late Theophobius", to which a Severian monk named Theodore replied; the answer of Themistus was again refuted by Theodore in three books (Photius, cod. 108). Other works of Themistius are referred to by St. Maximus Confessor, and some fragments are cited in Mansi, X, 981 and 1117. Stephen Gobarus the Tritheist is known only by the elaborate analysis of his book given by Photius (cod. 232); it was a "Sic et Non" like that of Abelard, giving authorities for a proposition and then for the contrary opinion. At the end was were some remarks on curious views of a number of Fathers. It was evidently, as Photius remarks, a performance of more labour than usefulness.

HISTORY

We now turn to the historians. Zacharias of Gaza , brother of Procopius of Gaza, the rhetorician, Zacharias Scholasticus, Zacharias the Rhetorician, Zacharias of Mitylene, are all apparently the same person (so Kugener's latest view, Kruger, and Brooks). Of his early life we have a vivid picture in his memoirs of Severus, with whom he studied at Alexandria and at Berytus. His home was at the port of Iberian. To the latter he was greatly devoted, and believed that Peter had prophesied his unfitness for the monastic life. He in fact did not become a monk, when his friends Evagrius, Severus, and others did so, but practised law at Constantinople, and reached eminence in his profession. Of his writings, a dialogue "that the world did not exist from eternity " was probably composed in youth while he lived at Berytus. His "Ecclesiastical History" is extant only in a Syriac epitome which forms four books (III-VI) of the "Historia Miscellanea". It begins with a short account from a Monophysite point of view of he Council of Chalcedon, and continues the history, mainly of Palestine and Alexandria, until the death of Zeno (491). From the same history is derived a curious statistical description of Rome in "Hist. Misc.", X, xvi. The very interesting life of Severus carries the author's recollections up to the accession of his hero to the See of Antioch in 512. It was written subsequently to the history, as the cubicularius Eupraxius, to whom that work was dedicated, was already dead. His recollections of Peter the Iberian and of Theodore, Bishop of Antinoe, are lost, but his biography of Isaias, an Egyptian ascetic, is preserved in Syriac. A disputation against the Manichæans, published by Cardinal Pitra in Greek, was probably written after the edict of Justinian against the Manichæans in 527. He seems to have been still a layman. Up to the time he wrote the life of Severus he was a follower of the Henoticon ; this was the easy course under Zeno and Anastasius. It would seem that he found it paid to revert to orthodoxy under Justin and Justinian, for he was present as Bishop of Mitylene at the Council of Mennas at Constantinople in 536, where he was one of the three metropolitans who were sent to summon Anthimus to appear. His name does not appear in the incomplete printed list of subscriptions to that patriarch's deposition, but Labbe testifies that it is found in some manuscripts ( Mansi, VIII, 975); it is absent from the condemnation of Severus in a later session. Zacharias was dead before the ecumenical council of 553.

An important historical work in anecdotal form in the "Plerophoria" of John of Maïuma , composed about 515; it contains stories of Monophysite worthies up to date, especially of Peter the Iberian, whose life was also written by Zacharias, but is now lost. A later life of Peter has been printed, which contains curious information about the Iberian princes from whom the Monophysite bishop descended. The life of the ascetic Isaias by Zacharias accompanies it.

The interesting "Historia Miscellanea", often referred to as Pseudo-Zacharias , was composed in Syriac in twelve books by an unknown author who seems to have lived at Amida. Though the work was completed in 569, he seems to have used part of the history of John of Ephesus, which was finished only in 571. Certain parts were written earlier (or are borrowed from older writers), VII, xv before 523; X, xii in 545; XII, vii in 555; XII, iv in 561. The first book contains a quantity of legendary matter form Greek sources which are still extant; a few words are added on the Syriac doctors Isaac and Dodo. Book II has the story of the Seven Sleepers. History begins in II, ii, with an account of Eutyches, and the letter of Proclus to the Armenians follows. The next four books are an epitome of the lost work of Zacharias Rhetor. The seventh book continues the story from the accession of Anastasius (491), and together with general ecclesiastical history it combines some interesting details of wars with the Persians in Mesopotamia.

A curious chapter gives the Prologue of Moro, or Mara, Bishop of Amida (a Syriac writer whose works appear to have been lost), to his edition of the four Gospels in Greek, to which the writers appends as a curiosity the pericope of the woman taken in adultery ( John 8 ) which Moro had inserted in the 89th canon; "it is not founded in other manuscripts " Book VIII, iii, gives the letter of Simeon of Beit-Arsham on the martyrs of Yemen, perhaps an apocryphal document. Book XI is lost, with most of X and XII. Some of X has been restored by Brooks from the "Chronicle" of Michael the Syrian (died 1199). It is necessary to mention the "Chronicle of Edessa ", from 495 to 506, which is embedded in the "chronicle" attributed to Joshua the Stylite (who seems to have been a Catholic ); this latter is included in the second book of the "Chronicle" attributed to the Patriarch of Antioch, Dionysius of Tell-Mahre , a compilation which has a fourth book (from the end of the sixth century to 775) which is an original work by the compiler, who was in reality a monk of Zonkenin (north of Amida ), possibly Joshua the Stylite himself.

Some small chronicles of the sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth centuries have been published as "Chronica minora" in the "Corpus Script. Or." Of later histories, those of Bar Hebraeus (died 1286) must be noted. His "Chronicon Syriacum" is an abridgment of Michael with a continuation; the "Chronicon ecclesiasticum" contains the ecclesiastical history first of Western Syria and then of Eastern Syria, with lives of the patriarchs of Antioch, of the Jacobite missionary bishops (called maphrians ) and of the Nestorian patriarchs. The "Chronicle" of Elias of Nisibis to 1008 is important because it mentions its sources, but it is very defective in the early period through the loss of some pages of the manuscript. Masil the Cilician and John of Ægea are counted as Monophysite writers by Ehrhard (in Krumbacher, p. 53), but Photius clearly makes them out Nestorians (cod. 41, 55, 107), and it is by a slip that he conjectures Basil to be the author of a work against Nestorius.

Syriac Writers

Of the Syriac Monophysite writers none is more important than Philoxenus , otherwise Xenaias , who was Bishop of Mabug (Hierapolis) from 485. For his life and the version of Scripture which was made by his order, see PHILOXENUS. His dogmatic writings alone concern us here. His letter to the Emperor Zeno, published by Vaschalde (1902) is of 485, the date of his episcopal consecration and of his acceptance of the Henoticon. His treatises on the Incarnation date perhaps before 500; to the same period belong two short works, "A Confession of Faith " and "Against Every Nestorian ". He wrote also on the Trinity. A letter to Marco, lector of Anazarbus, is attributed to 515-518. After he had been exiled by Justin to Philippolis in Thrace in 518, he attacked the orthodox patriarch, Paul of Antioch, in a letter to the monks of Teleda, and wrote another letter of which fragments are found in manuscript Addit. 14533, in which he argues that it is sometimes wise to admit baptisms and ordinations by heretics for the sake of peace; the question of sacramental validity does not seem to have occurred to him. Fragments of his commentaries on the Gospel are found in manuscripts Thirteen homilies on religious life have been published by Budge. They scarcely touch upon dogma. Of his three liturgies two are given by Renaudot. Out of the great mass of his works in manuscript at Rome, Paris, Oxford, Cambridge, London, only a fraction has been published. He was an eager controversialist, a scholar, and an accomplished writer. His Syriac style is much admired. His sect had no more energetic leader until Jacob Baradaeus himself. He was president of the synod which elevated Severus to the See of Antioch, and he had been the chief agent in the extrusion of Flavian. He was an energetic foe of Catholicism, and his works stand next in importance to those of Severus as witnesses to the tenets of their party. He was exiled by Justin in 519 to Philippolis and then to Gangra, where he died of suffocation by smoke in the room in which he was confined.

James of Sarugh (451-521) became periodeutes, or visitor, of Haura in that district about 505, and bishop of its capital, Batnan, in 519. Nearly all his numerous writings are metrical. We are told that seventy amanuenses were employed to copy his 760 metrical homilies, which are in Wright's opinion more readable than those of Ephraem or Isaac of Antioch. A good many have been published at various times. In the Vatican are 233 in manuscripts, in London 140, in Paris, 100. They are much cited in the Syriac Liturgy, and a liturgy and baptismal rite are ascribed to him. Numerous letters of his are extant in Brit. Mus., manuscripts Addit. 14587 and 17163. Though his feast is kept by Maronites and even by some Nestorians, there is no doubt that he accepted the Henoticon, and was afterwards in relation with the leading Monophysites, rejecting the Council of Chalcedon to the end of his life. Stephen bar Soudaili was an Edessene Monophysite who fell into Pantheism and Origenism. He was attacked by Philoxenus and James of Sarugh, and retired to Jerusalem. The confession of faith of John of Tella (483-538; bishop, 519-521) is extant, and so is his commentary on the Trisagion, and his canons for the clergy and replies to the questions of the priest Sergius — all in manuscripts in the British Museum. The great James Baradaeus , the eponymous hero of the Jacobites, who supplied bishops and clergy for the Monophysites when they were definitively divided from the Eastern Catholics in 543, wrote but little; a liturgy, a few letters, a sermon, and a confession of faith are extant. Of Syriac translators it is not necessary to speak, nor is there need to treat of the Monophysite scientist Sergius of Reschaina, the writer on philosophy, Ahoudemmeh, and many others.

John of Ephesus , called also John of Asia , was a Syrian of Amida, where he became a deacon in 529. On account of the persecution of his sect he departed, and was made administrator of the temporal affairs of the Monophysites in Constantinople by Justinian, who sent him in the following year as a missionary bishop to the pagans of Asia Minor. He relates of himself that he converted 60,000, and had 96 churches built. He returned to the capital in 546, to destroy idol worship there also. But on the death of Justinian he suffered a continual persecution, which he described in his "History", as an excuse for its confusion and repetitions. What remains of that work is of great value as a contemporary record. The style is florid and full of Greek expressions. The lives of blessed Easterns were put together by John about 565-566, and have been published by Land. They include great men like Severus, Baradæus Theodosius, etc. (For an account of these works and for bibliography see JOHN OF EPHESUS.)

George , bishop of the Arabians (b. about 640; d. 724) was one of the chief writers of the Assyrian Jacobites. He was a personal follower of James of Edessa, whose poem on the Hexameron he completed after the death of James in 708. In this work he teaches the Apocatastasis, or restoration of all things, including the destruction of hell, which so many Greek Fathers learned from Origen. George was born in the Tehouma in the Diocese of Antioch, and was ordained bishop of the wandering Arabs in November, 686; his see was at Akoula. He was a man of considerable learning. His translation, with introduction and commentary, of part of the "Organon" of Aristotle ("Catagories", "De Interpretatione", and "Prior Analytics") is extant (Brit. Mus., manuscript Addit. 14659), as is the collection he made of scholia on St. Gregory of Nazianzus, and an explanation of the three Sacraments (Baptism, Holy Communion, and consecration of chrism, following Pseudo-Dionysius ). His letters of 714 till 718 are extant in the same manuscript as this last work (Brit. Mus., manuscript Addit. 12154). They deal with many things; astronomical, exegetical, liturgical questions, explanations of Greek proverbs and fables, dogma and polemics, and contain historical matter about Aphraates and Gregory the Illuminator. His poems included one in dodecasyllables on the unpromising subject of the calculations of movable feasts and the correction of the solar and lunar cycles, another on the monastic life, and two on the consecration of the holy chrism. His works are important for our knowledge of Syriac Church and literature. His reading was vast, including the chief Greek Fathers, with whom he classes Severus and Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite ; he knows the Pseudo-Clementines and


More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online


Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Job 3:1-3, 11-17, 20-23
1 In the end it was Job who broke the silence and ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 88:2-3, 4-5, 6, 7-8
2 may my prayer reach your presence, hear my cry for ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 9:51-56
51 Now it happened that as the time drew near for him ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 30th, 2014 Image

St. Jerome
September 30: St. Jerome, who was born Eusebius Hieronymous Sophronius, was ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter