Pope dioscorus i of alexandria -
Pope Dioscorus I of Alexandria
Published on: Mar 4, 2016
Transcripts - Pope dioscorus i of alexandria -
Pope Dioscorus I of Alexandria
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Saint Dioscorus the Great
The Champion of Orthodoxy
25th Pope of Alexandria & Patriarch of the See of St. Mark
Predecessor Cyril "Pillar of Faith"
Successor Timothy II
Died September 454
Buried Island of Gangra, Paphlagonia
Pope Dioscorus I of Alexandria, 25th Pope of Alexandria & Patriarch of the See of St. Mark. He
was deposed by the Council of Chalcedon in 451 but was recognized as Patriarch by the Coptic
Church until his death. He died in the Island of Gangra,Paphlagonia, in September 454.
venerated as a saint by the Coptic and other Oriental Orthodox churches.
Early life: Pope Dioscorus served as the dean of the Catechetical School of Alexandria, and was the
personal secretary of Cyril of Alexandria, whom he accompanied to the Council of Ephesus in 431.
He eventually rose to the position of archdeacon.
Opposition to Nestorius: In his struggle against Nestorius, Cyril explained the union between
the divine and human natures of Christ as "inward and real without any division, change, or
confusion." He rejected the Antiochene theory of "indwelling,", or "conjunction" or "close
participation," as insufficient. Thus the Alexandrian formula adopted by Cyril and Dioscorus was "one
nature of God the Word Incarnate," which translates into Greek as mia physis tou theou logou
sesarkomene, by which Cyril meant "one nature"—that Christis at once God and man. On the other
hand, the Antiochene formula was "two natures after the union," or "in two natures," which translates
to dyo physis. This formula explained Christ as existing in two natures, God and man.
Nestorius was condemned and deposed by the First Council of Ephesus, which approved of the
Second Epistle of Cyril to Nestorius. He succeeded Cyril as Patriarch of Alexandria in 444.
Support for Eutyches: Dioscorus supported Eutyches, an archmandrite in Constantinople who
defended the formula of "one nature" against the formula of dyo physis. Eutyches argued that the
divinity absorbed the humanity of Christ.
A synod chaired by Archbishop Flavian of
Constantinople in 448 condemned and exiled Eutyches. Eutyches appealed against this decision,
labeling Flavian a Nestorian, and received the support of Dioscorus, while Pope Leo I, in his
famous Tome confirmed Flavian's theological position but also requested that Eutyches should be
readmitted if he repented.
In 449, Emperor Theodosius II convened the Second Council of Ephesus. In remembrance of Cyril's
role during the council of 431, the emperor asked Dioscorus to preside over the meetings. The
council subsequently decided to reinstate Eutyches and to depose Flavian, as well as Eusebius of
Dorylaeum, Theoderet of Cyrrus, Ibas of Edessa, andDomnus II of Antioch. Leo's legates protested
but were ignored.
Pope Leo himself called the council a "robber synod" and declared its decisions
Emperor Theodosius supported the council's decisions until he died on 28 July 450. His
sister Pulcheria returned to power and made the officer Marcian her consort and emperor. She
consulted with Pope Leo on convoking a new council, gathering signatures for his Tome to be
introduced as the basic paper for the new council, but also insisted, against Leo's wishes that the
council should be held not in Italy but in the East. Meanwhile, the new imperial couple brought
Flavian's remains back to Constantinople and exiled Eutyches to Syria.
Council of Chalcedon: The Council, assembled at Chalcedon, not only dealt with the Christogical
views of Eutyches but also with Dioscorus' views and earlier behavior, specifically his condemnation
of the bishop Flavian in Ephesus II was questioned. When, in the Council of Chalcedon, he was
asked why he had deposed Flavian, according to the minutes of Chalcedon, he responded:
"Flavian was deposed for this reason, that he spoke of two natures after the union. But I have
quotations from the holy fathers Athanasius, Gregory and Cyril saying in numerous places that one
should not speak of two natures after the union". See Minutes of the Council of Chalcedon. Trans.
Price & Gaddis. (Liverpool University Press) p.190
Instead, Dioscorus argued saying:
"One should not conceive of two natures but of One Incarnate Nature of the Word" (same book
The Council deposed Dioscorus and other bishops that had been responsible for the decisions of
449, due to violations of canon law rather than of heresy; Dioscorus had not attended the council of
Chalcedon from the third session onward, despite an imperial call to do so. For a bishop not to attend
such a gathering, after an imperial summons, was a deposable offence. According to the minutes of
the council of Chalcedon, Dioscorus had given the reason of ill health for his non-attendance from the
third session. However, Oriental sources indicate otherwise, namely, subterfuge. Whatever the real
reason, the result of Dioscorus not being there saw him exiled to Gangra Island.
Exile: Following Dioscorus's deposition and exile, an Alexandrian priest named Proterius was
appointed Patriarch in his stead, with the approval of the emperor. Though no one opposed Proterius
out of fear of Imperial reprisal, many still secretly adhered to Dioscorus, considering him the
legitimate Patriarch.[weasel words]
Dioscorus died in exile in 454. When the news reached Egypt, his supporters assembled and
elected Timothy, a disciple of his, to be the new Patriarch. Timothy immediately went into hiding, but
was recognized among the Coptic inhabitants of the countryside, creating the split between
the Coptic and the Melchite (i.e. Imperial) Church.
Legacy: Oriental Orthodox Churches remain in disagreement with Eastern
Orthodox and Catholic churches regarding Dioscorus's character and positions. He is considered a
saint by theCoptic, Syriac, and other Oriental Orthodox churches, while Eastern Orthodox and
Catholic Churches have frequently deemed him a heretic.
Certain modern theologians suggest that both Leo and Dioscorus were orthodox in their agreement
with Saint Cyrill's Twelve Chapters, even though both have been (and still are) considered heretical
Some commentators like Anatolius and John S. Romanides argue that Dioscorus was not
deposed for heresy but for "grave administrative errors" at Ephesus II, among which they mention his
restoration of Eutyches, his attack on Flavian, and afterwards, his excommunication of Pope Leo I.
Defenders of Dioscorus argue that Eutyches was orthodox at the time of his restoration and only later
lapsed into heresy, that Flavian was a Nestorian, and that Pope Leo had supported Nestorianism.
Another controversial aspect of Dioscorus's legacy is the accusation, frequently levelled by
Chalcedonian churches, that the Oriental Orthodox Churches accept Eutychianism. They later deny
this charge, arguing that they reject both the Monophysitism of Eutyches, whom they consider a
heretic, as well as Dyophysitism espoused by the Council of Chalcedon, which they equate with
Nestorianism, for a doctrine they term miaphysitism, or that in Jesus Christ, divinity and humanity
exist as "one divinized nature" (physis), as opposed to the orthodox Chalcedonian teaching of a
divine and a human nature united in the one person (hypostasis) of Jesus Christ, fully God and fully
man, a doctrine called the "hypostatic union".
In recent times, Oriental Orthodox churches have engaged in ecumenical dialog with Catholic and
Eastern Orthodox churches on the issues of Dioscorus's day. In May 1973 Pope Shenouda III of
Alexandria visited Pope Paul VI in Rome and declared a common faith in the nature of Christ, the
issue which caused the schism of the church in the Council of Chalcedon.
A similar declaration was
reached between the Oriental and Eastern Orthodox churches in 1990 in Geneva, in which both
agreed in condemnation of the Nestorian and Eutychian heresies and in rejection of interpretations of
ecumenical councils which do not fully agree with the Horos of the Third Ecumenical Council and the
letter (433) of Cyril of Alexandria to John of Antioch.
They also agreed to lift the anathemas and
condemnations of the past.
In the summer of 2001, the Coptic Orthodox and Greek Orthodox
Patriarchates of Alexandria agreed to mutually recognize baptisms performed in each other's