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Fifth Ecumenical Council: Constantinople II, 553

[Note: pagination of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers edition preserved]

Emperor.--Justinian I. Pope.--Vigilius.


Historical Introduction.

Excursus on the genuineness of the Acts of the Council.

The Emperor's Letter.

Extracts from the Acts, Session VII.

The Sentence of the Synod.

The Capitula of the Council.

Excursus on the XV. Anathematisms against Oripen.

The Anathemas against Origen paralleled with the Anathematisms of the Emperor Justinian.

Historical Note to the Decretal Letter of Pope Vigilius.

The Decretal Letter of the Pope, with Introductory Note.

Historical Excursus on the after-history of the Council.


(Hefele, History of the Councils, Vol. IV., p. 289.)

In accordance with the imperial command, but without the assent of the Pope, the synod was opened on the 5th of May A.D. 553, in the Secretarium of the Cathedral Church at Constantinople. Among those present were the Patriarchs, Eutychius of Constantinople, who presided, Apollinaris of Alexandria, Domninus of Antioch, three bishops as representatives of the Patriarch Eustochius of Jerusalem, and 145 other metropolitans and bishops, of whom many came also in the place of absent colleagues.

(Bossuet, Def. Cleri Gall., Lib. vii., cap. xix. Abridged. Translation by Allies.)

The three chapters were the point in question; that is, respecting Theodore of Mopsuestia, Theodoret's writings against Cyril, and the letter of Ibas of Edessa to Maris the Persian. They examined whether that letter had been approved in the Council of Chalcedon. So much was admitted that it had been read there, and that Ibas, after anathematizing Nestorius, had been received by the holy Council. Some contended that his person only was spared; others that his letter also was approved. Thus inquiry was made at the fifth Council how the writings on the Faith were wont to be approved in former Councils. The Acts of the third and fourth Council, those which we have mentioned above respecting the letter of St. Cyril and of St. Leo, were set forth. Then the holy Council declared: "It is plain, from what has been recited, in what manner the holy Councils are wont to approve what is brought before them. For great as was the dignity of those holy men who wrote the letters recited, yet they did not approve their letters simply or without inquiry, nor without taking cognizance that they were in all things agreeable to the exposition and doctrine of the holy Fathers, with which they were compared." But the Acts proved that this course was not pursued in the case of the letter of Ibas; they inferred, therefore, most justly, that that letter had not been approved. So, then, it is certain from the third and fourth Councils, the fifth so declaring and understanding it, that letters approved by the Apostolic See, such as was that of Cyril, or even proceeding from it, as that of Leo, were received by the holy Councils not simply, nor without inquiry. The holy Fathers proceed to do what the Bishops at Chalcedon would have done, had they undertaken the examination of Ibas's letter. They compare the letter with the Acts of Ephesus and Chalcedon. Which done, the holy Council declared--"The comparison made proves, beyond a doubt, that the letter which Ibas is said to have written is, in all respects, opposed to the definition of the right Faith, which the Council of Chalcedon set forth." All the Bishops cried out. "We all say this; the letter is heretical." Thus, therefore, is it proved by the fifth Council, that our holy Fathers in Ecumenical Councils pronounce the letters read, whether of Catholics or heretics, or even of Roman Pontiffs, and that on matter of Faith, to be orthodox or heretical, according to the same procedure, after legitimate cognizance, the truth being inquired into, and then cleared up; and upon these premises judgment given.

What! you will say, with no distinction, and with minds equally inclined to both parties? Indeed, we have said, and shall often repeat, that there was a presumption in favour of the decrees of orthodox Pontiffs; but in Ecumenical Councils, where judgment is to be passed in matter of Faith, that they were bound no longer to act upon presumption, but on the truth clearly and thoroughly ascertained.

Such were the Acts of the fifth Council. This it learnt from the third and fourth Councils, and approved; and in this argument we have brought at once in favour of our opinion the decrees of three Ecumenical Councils, of Ephesus, of Chalcedon, and the second Con-


stantinopolitan. The Emperor Justinian desired that the question concerning the above-mentioned Three Chapters should be considered in the Church. He therefore sent for Pope Vigilius to Constantinople. There he not long after assembled a council. He and the Orientals thought it of great moment that these Chapters should be condemned, against the Nestorians, who were raising their heads to defend them; Vigilius, with the Occidentals, feared let this occasion should be taken to destroy the authority of the Council of Chalcedon: because it was admitted that Theodoret and Ibas had been received in that Council, whilst Theodore, though named, was let go without any mark of censure. Though then both parties easily agreed as to the substance of the Faith, yet the question had entirely respect to the Faith, it being feared by the one party lest the Nestorian, by the other lest the Eutychian, enemies of the Council of Chalcedon should prevail. Vigilius on the 11th of April, 548, issues his "Judicatum" against the Three Chapters, saving the authority of the Council of Chalcedon. Thereupon the Bishops of Africa, Illyria, and Dalmatia, with two of his own confidential Deacons, withdraw from his communion. In the year 550 the African Bishops, under Reparatus of Carthage, not only reject the Judicatum, but anathematize Vigilius himself, and sever him from Catholic Communion, reserving to him a place for repentance. At length the Pope publicly withdraws his "Judicatum." While the Council is sitting at Constantinople he publishes his "Constitutum," in which he condemns certain propositions of Theodore, but spares his person; the same respecting Theodoret; but with respect to Ibas, he declares that his letter was pronounced orthodox by the Council of Chalcedon. However this may be, so much is clear, that Vigilius, though invited, declined being present at the council: that nevertheless the council was held without him; that he published a "Constitutum," in which he disapproved of what Theodore, Theodoret, and Ibas were said to have written against the Faith; but decreed that their names should be spared because they were considered to have been received by the fourth Council, or to have died in the communion of the Church, and to be reserved to the judgment of God. Concerning the letter of Ibas, he published the following, that, "understood in the best and most pious sense," it was blameless; and concerning the three Chapters generally, he ordered that after his present declaration ecclesiastics should move no further question.

Such was the decree of Vigilius, issued upon the authority with which he was invested. But the council, after his Constitution, both raised a question about the Three Chapters, and decided that question was properly raised concerning the dead, and that the letter of Ibas was manifestly heretical and Nestorian, and contrary in all things to the Faith of Chalcedon, and that they were altogether accursed, who defended the impious Theodore of Mopsuestia, or the writings of Theodoret against Cyril, or the impious letter of Ibas defending the tenets of Nestorius: and all such as did not anathematize it, but said it was correct.

In these latter words they seemed not even to spare Vigilius, although they did not mention his name. And it is certain their decree was confirmed by Pelagius the Second, Gregory the Great, and other Roman Pontiffs. These things prove, that in a matter of the utmost importance, disturbing the whole Church, and seeming to belong to the Faith, the decrees of sacred councils prevail over the decrees of Pontiffs, and that the letter of Ibas, though defended by a judgment of the Roman Pontiff, could nevertheless be proscribed as heretical.



Some suspicion has arisen with regard to how far the acts of the Fifth Ecumenical Council may be relied upon. Between the Roman Manuscript printed by Labbe and the Paris manuscript found in Mansi there are considerable variations and, strange to say, some of the most injurious things to the memory of Pope Vigilius are found only in the Paris manuscript. Moreover we know that the manuscript kept in the patriarchal archives at Constantinople had been tampered with during the century that elapsed before the next Ecumenical Synod, for at that council the forgeries and interpolations were exposed by the Papal Legates.

At the XIVth Session of that synod the examination of the genuineness of the acts of the Second Council of Constantinople was resumed. It had been begun at the XIIth Session. Up to this time only two MSS. had been used, now the librarian of the patriarchate presented a third MS. which he had found in the archives, and swore that neither himself nor any other so far as he knew had made any change in these MSS. These were then compared and it was found that the two first agreed in containing the pretended letter of Mennas to Pope Vigilius, and the two writings addressed by Vigilius to Justinian and Theodora; but that none of these were found in the third MS. It was further found that the documents in dispute were in a different hand from the rest of the MS, and that in the first book of the parchment MS., three quarternions had been inserted, and in the second book between quarternions 15 and 16, four unpaged leaves had been placed. So too the second MS. had been tampered with. The council inserted these particulars in a decree, and ordered that "these additions must be quashed in both MSS., and marked with an obelus, and the falsifiers must be smitten with anathema." Finally the council cried out, "Anathema to the pretended letters of Mennas and Vigilius! Anathema to the forger of Acts! Anathema to all who teach, etc."

From all this it would seem that the substantial accuracy of the rest of the acts have been established by the authority of the Sixth Synod, and Hefele and all recent scholars follow Mansi's Paris MS.

It may be well here to add that a most thorough-going attack upon the acts has been made in late years by Professor Vincenzi, in defence of Pope Vigilius and of Origen. The reader is referred to his writings on the subject: In Sancti Gregorii Nysseni et Originis scripta et doctrinam nova defensio; Vigil., Orig., Justin. triumph., in Synod V. (Romae, 1865.) The Catholic Dictionary frankly says that this is "an attempt to deny the most patent facts, and treat some of the chief documents as forgeries," and "unworthy of serious notice."(1)



(Labbe and Cossart, Concilia, Tom. V., col. 419.)

[The Emperor's Letter which was read to the Fathers.]

In the Name of our Lord God Jesus Christ. The Emperor Flavius Justinian, German, Gothic, etc., and always Augustus, to the most blessed bishops and patriarchs, Eutychius of Constantinople, Apollinarius of Alexandria, Domninus of Theopolis, Stephen, George, and Damian, the most religious bishops taking the place of that man of singular blessedness, Eustochius, the Archbishop and Patriarch of Jerusalem, and the other most religious bishops stopping in this royal city from the different provinces.

[The following is the letter condensed, including Hefele's digest. History of the Councils, Vol. IV., p. 298.]

The effort of my predecessors, the orthodox Emperors, ever aimed at the settling of controversies which had arisen respecting the faith by the calling of Synods. For this cause Constantine assembled 318 Fathers at Nice, and was himself present at the Council, and assisted those who confessed the Son to be consubstantial with the Father. Theodosius, 150 at Constantinople, Theodosius the younger, the Synod of Ephesus, the Emperor Marcian, the bishops at Chalcedon. As, however, after Marcian's death, controversies respecting the Synod of Chalcedon had broken out in several places, the Emperor Leo wrote to all bishops of all places, in order that everyone might declare his opinion in writing with regard to this holy Council. Soon afterwards, however, had arisen again the adherents of Nestorius and Eutyches, and caused great divisions, so that many Churches had broken off communion with one another. When, now, the grace of God raised us to the throne, we regarded it as our chief business to unite the Churches again, and to bring the Synod of Chalcedon, together with the three earlier, to universal acceptance. We have won many who previously opposed that Synod; others, who persevered in their opposition, we banished, and so restored the unity of the Church again. But the Nestorians want to impose their heresy upon the Church; and, as they could not use Nestorius for that purpose, they made haste to introduce their errors through Theodore of Mopsuestia, the teacher of Nestorius, who taught still more grievous blasphemies than his. He maintained, e.g., that God the Word was one, and Christ another. For the same purpose they made use of those impious writings of Theodoret which were directed against the first Synod of Ephesus, against Cyril and his Twelve Chapters, and also the shameful letter which Ibas is said to have written. They maintain that this letter was accepted by the Synod of Chalcedon, and so would free from condemnation Nestorius and Theodore who were commended in the letter. If they were to succeed, the Logos could no longer be said to be "made man," nor Mary called the Mother (genetrix) of God. We, therefore, following the holy Fathers, have first asked you in writing to give your judgment on the three impious chapters named, and you have answered, and have joyfully confessed the true faith. Because, however, after the condemnation proceeding from you, there are still some who defend the Three Chapters, therefore we have summoned you to the capital, that you may here, in common assembly, place again your view in the light of day. When, for example, Vigilius, Pope of Old Rome, came hither, he, in answer to our questions, repeatedly anathematised in writing the Three Chapters, and confirmed his steadfastness in this view by much, even by the condemnation of his deacons, Rusticus and Sebastian. We possess still his declarations in his own hand. Then he issued his Judicatum, in which he anathematised the Three Chapters, with the words, Et quoniam, etc. You know that he not only deposed Rusti-


cus and Sebastian because they defended the Three Chapters, but also wrote to Valentinian, bishop of Scythia, and Aurelian, bishop of Aries, that nothing might be undertaken against the Judicatum. When you afterwards came hither at my invitation, letters were exchanged between you and Vigilius in order to a common assembly.(1) But now he had altered his view would no longer have a synod, but required that only the three patriarchs and one other bishop (in communion with the Pope and the three bishops about him) should decide the matter. In vain we sent several commands to him to take part in the synod. He rejected also our two proposals, either to call a tribunal for decision, or to hold a smaller assembly, at which, besides him and his three bishops, every other patriarch should have place and voice, with from three to five bishops of his diocese. * We further declare that we hold fast to the decrees of the four Councils, and in every way follow the holy Fathers, Athanasius, Hilary, Basil, Gregory the Theologian, Gregory of Nyssa, Ambrose, Theophilus, John (Chrysostom) of Constantinople, Cyril, Augustine, Proclus, Leo and their writings on the true faith. As, however, the heretics are resolved to defend Theodore of Mopsuestia and Nestorius with their impieties, and maintain that that letter of Ibas was received by the Synod of Chalcedon, so do we exhort you to direct your attention to the impious writings of Theodore, and especially to his Jewish Creed which was brought forward at Ephesus and Chalcedon, and anathematized by each synod with those who had so held or did so hold; and we further exhort you to consider what the holy Fathers have written concerning him and his blasphemies, as well as what our predecessors have promulgated, as also what the Church historians have set forth concerning him.(2) You will thence see that he and his heresies have since been condemned and that therefore his name has long since been struck from the diptychs of the Church of Mopsuestia. Consider the absurd assertion that heretics ought not to be anathematized after their deaths; and we exhort you further to follow in this matter the doctrine of the holy Fathers, who condemned not only living heretics but also anathematized after their death those who had died in their iniquity, just as those who had been unjustly condemned they restored after their death and wrote their names in the sacred diptychs; which took place in the case of John and of Flavian of pious memory, both of them bishops of Constantinople.(3) Moreover we exhort you to examine the writing of Theodoret and the supposed letter of Ibas, in which the incarnation of the Word is denied, the expression "Mother of God" and the holy Synod of Ephesus rejected, Cyril called a heretic, and Theodore and Nestorius defended and praised. And as they say that the Council of Chalcedon has received this letter, you must compare the declarations of this Council relating to the faith with the contents of the impious letter. Finally, we entreat you to accelerate the matter. For he who when asked concerning the right faith, puts off his answer for a long while, does nothing else but deny the right faith. For in questioning and answering on things which are of faith, it is not he who is found first or second, but he who is the more ready with a right confession, that is acceptable to God. May God keep you, most holy and religious fathers, for many years. Given IV. Nones of May, at Constantinople, in the xxviith year of the reign of the imperial lord Justinian, the perpetual Augustus, and in the xiith year after the consulate of the most illustrious Basil.




(From the Paris manuscript found in Hardouin Concilia, Tom. III., 171 et seqq.; Mansi, Tom. ix., 346 et seqq. This speech is not found in full in any other MS. The Ballerini [ Hefele notes] raise objections to the genuineness of the additions [in Noris. Opp., Tom. IV., 1037], but Hefele does not consider the objections of serious moment. [Hist. of the Councils, Vol. IV., p. 323, note 2.] All the MSS. agree that The most glorious quaester of the sacred palace, Constantine, was sent by the most pious Emperor, and when he had entered the Council spake as follows: "Certum est vestrae beatitudini, quantum, etc." The rest of the speech differs in the different manuscripts. I follow that of Paris.)

You know how much care the most invincible Emperor has always had that the contention raised up by certain persons with regard to the Three Chapters should have a termination. ... For this intent he has required themost religious Vigilius to assemble withyou and draw up a decree on this matter in accordance with the Orthodox faith. Although therefore, Vigilius has already frequently condemned the Three Chapters in writing, and has done this also by word of mouth in the presence of the Emperor, and of the most glorious judges and of many members of this synod, and has always been ready to smite with anathema the defenders of Theodore of Mopsuestia, and the letter which was attributed to Ibas, and the writings of Theodoret which be set forth against the orthodox faith and against the twelve capitula of the holy Cyril:(1) yet he has refused to do this in communion with you and your synod.

Yesterday Vigilius sent Servus Dei, a most reverend Subdeacon of the Roman Church, and invited Belisarius,(2) Cethegus, as also Justinus and Constantine the most glorious consuls, as well as bishops Theodore,Ascidas, Benignus, and Phocas, to come to him as he wished to give through them an answer to the Emperor. They came, but speedily returned and informed the most pious lord, that we had visited Vigilius, the most religious bishop, and that he had said to us: "We have called you for this reason, that you may know what things have been done in the past days. To this end I have written a document about the disputed Three Chapters, addressed to the most pious Emperor,(3) pray be good enough to read it, and to carry it to his Serenity." But when we had heard this and had seen the document written to your serenity, we said to him that we could not by any means receive any document written to the most pious Emperor without his bidding. "But you have deacons for running with messages, by whom you can send it." He, however, said to us: "You now know that I have made the document." But we, bishops, answered him: "If your blessedness is willing to meet together with us and the most holy Patriarchs, and the most religious bishops, and to treat of the Three Chapters and to give, in unison with us all, a suitable form of the orthodox faith, as the Holy Apostles and the holy Fathers and the four Councils have done, we will hold thee as our head, as a farmer and primate. But if your holiness has drawn up a document for the Emperor, you have errand-runners, as we have said; send it by them." And when he had heard these things from us, he sent Servus Dei the Subdeacon, who now awaits the answer of your serenity. And when his Piety had heard this, he commanded through the aforesaid most religious and glorious men, the before-named subdeacon to carry back this message to the most religious Vigilius: "We invited him (you) to meet together with the most blessed patriarchs and other religious bishops, and with them in common to examine and judge the Three Chapters. But since you have refused to do this, and you say that you alone have written by yourself somewhat on


the Three Chapters; if you have condemned them, in accordance with those things which you did before, we have already many such statements and need no more; but if you have written now something contrary to these things which were done by you before, you have condemned yourself by your own writing, since you have departed from orthodox doctrine and have defended impiety. And how can you expect us to receive such a document from you?"

And when this answer was given by the most pious Emperor, he did not send through the same deacon any document in writing from himself. And all this was done without writing as also to your blessedness.

[He then, according to all the MSS., presented certain documents to be read, in the MS. printed by Labbe and Cossart, Tom. V., col. 549 et seqq. These are fewer than in the Paris MS., which last also contains the following just after the reading of the documents and after the Council had declared that they proved the Emperor's zeal for the faith.]

Constantine, the most glorious Quaestor, said: While I am still present at your holy council by reason of the reading of the documents which have been presented to you, I would say that the most pious Emperor has sent a minute (formam), to your Holy Synod, concerning the name of Vigilius, that it be no more inserted in the holy diptychs of the Church, on account of the impiety which he defended. Neither let it be recited by you, nor retained, either in the church of the royal city, or in other churches which are intrusted to you and to the other bishops in the State committed by God to his rule. And when you hear this minute, again you will perceive by it how much the most serene Emperor cares for the unity of the holy churches and for the purity of the holy mysteries.

[The letter was then read.]

The holy Synod said: What has seemed good to the most pious Emperor is congruous to the labours which he bears for the unity of the churches. Let us preserve unity to (ad) the Apostolic See of the most holy Church of ancient Rome, carrying out all things according to the tenor of what has been read. De proposita vero quaestione quod jam promisimus procedat.


Hefele understands that the Council heard and approved this letter of the Emperor's, but that the "Emperor did not mean entirely to break off communion with the Apostolic see, neither did he wish the Synod to do so" (Hist. Councils, Vol. IV., p. 326), as indeed he says in his letter.

The Ballerini consider this letter of the Emperor's to be spurious, but (says Hefele) "on insufficient grounds" (l. c., p. 326, note 3). The expressions used by the Emperor may not unnaturally be somewhat startling to those holding the theological position of the Ballerini: "We will not endure to receive the spotless communion from him nor from any one else who does not condemn this impiety ... lest we be found thus communicating with the impiety of Nestorius and Theodore." It is noteworthy that the Fifth Ecumenical Council should strike the name of the reigning Pope from the diptychs as a father of heresy; and that the Sixth Ecumenical Synod should anathematize another Pope as a heretic!


(From the Acts. Collation VIII., L. and C., Conc., Tom. V., col. 562.)

Our Great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, as we learn from the parable in the Gospel, distributes talents to each man according to his ability, and at the fitting time demands an account of the work done by every man. And if he to whom but one talent has been committed is condemned because he has not worked with it but only kept it without loss, to how much greater and more horrible judgment must he be subject who not only is negligent concerning himself, but even places a stumbling-block and cause of offence in the way of others? Since it is manifest to all the faithful that whenever any question arises concerning the faith, not only the impious man himself is condemned, but also he who when he has the power to correct impiety in others, neglects to do so.(1)

We therefore, to whom it has been committed to rule the church of the Lord, fearing the curse which hangs over those who negligently perform the Lord's work, hasten to preserve the good seed of faith pure from the tares of impiety which are being sown by the enemy.

When, therefore, we saw that the followers of Nestorius were attempting to introduce their impiety into the church of God through the impious Theodore, who was bishop of Mopsuestia, and through his impious writings; and moreover through those things which Theodoret impiously wrote, and through the wicked epistle which is said to have been written by Ibas to Maris the Persian, moved by all these sights we rose up for the correction of what was going on, and assembled in this royal city called thither by the will of God and the bidding of the most religious Emperor.

And because it happened that the most religious Vigilius stopping in this royal city, was present at all the discussions with regard to the Three Chapters, and had often condemned them orally and in writing, nevertheless afterwards he gave his consent in writing to be present at the Council and examine together with us the Three Chapters, that a suitable definition of the right faith might be set forth by us all. Moreover the most pious Emperor, according to what had seemed good between us, exhorted both him and us to meet together, because it is comely that the priesthood should after common discussion impose a common faith. On this account we besought his reverence to fulfil his written promises; for it was not right that tile scandal with regard to these Three Chapters should go any further, and the Church of God be disturbed thereby. And to this end we brought to his remembrance the great examples left us by the Apostles, and the traditions of the Fathers. For although the grace of the Holy Spirit abounded in each one of the Apostles, so that no one of them needed the counsel of another in the execution of his work, yet they were not willing to define on the question then raised touching the circumcision of the Gentiles, until being gathered together they had confirmed their own several sayings by the testimony of the divine Scriptures.

And thus they arrived unanimously at this sentence, which they wrote to the Gentiles: "It has seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us, to lay upon you no other burden than these necessary things, that ye abstain from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication."

But also the Holy Fathers, who from time to time have met in the four holy councils, following the example of tile ancients, have by a common discussion, disposed of by a fixed decree the heresies and questions which had sprung up, as it was certainly known, that by common discussion when the matter in dispute was presented by each side, the light of truth expels the darkness of falsehood.

Nor is there any other way in which the truth can be made manifest when there are discussions concerning the faith, since each one needs the help of his neighbour, as we read in the Proverbs of Solomon: "A brother helping his brother shall be exalted like a walled city; and he shall be strong


as a well-founded kingdom;" and again in Ecclesiastes he says: "Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour."

So also the Lord himself says: "Verily I say unto you that if two of you shall agree upon earth as touching anything they shall seek for, they shall have it from my Father which is in heaven. For wheresoever two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."

But when often he had been invited by us all, and when the most glorious judges had been sent to him by the most religious Emperor, he promised to give sentence himself on the Three Chapters (sententiam proferre): And when we heard this answer, having the Apostle's admonition in mind, that "each one must, give an account of himself to God" and fearing the judgment that hangs over those who scandalize one, even of the least important, and knowing how much sorer it must be to give offence to so entirely Christian an Emperor, and to the people, and to all the Churches; and further recalling what was said by God to Paul: "Fear not, but speak, and be not silent, for I am with thee, and no one can harm thee." Therefore, being gathered together, before all things we have briefly confessed that we hold that faith which our Lord Jesus Christ, the true God, delivered to his holy Apostles, and through them to the holy churches, and which they who after thorn were holy fathers and doctors, handed down to the people credited to them.

We confessed that we hold, preserve, and declare to the holy churches that confession of faith which the 318 holy Fathers more at length set forth, who were gathered together at Nice, who handed down the holy mathema or creed. Moreover, the 150 gathered together at Constantinople set forth our faith, who followed that same confession of faith and explained it. And the consent of fire 200 holy fathers gathered for the same faith in the first Council of Ephesus. And what things were defined by the 630 gathered at Chalcedon for the one and the same faith, which they both followed and taught. And all those wile from time to time have been condemned or anathematized by the Catholic Church, and by the aforesaid four Councils, we confessed that we hold them condemned and anathematized. And when we had thus made profession of our faith we began the examination of the Three Chapters, and first we brought into review the matter of Theodore of Mopsuestia; and when all the blasphemies contained in his writings were made manifest, we marvelled at the long-suffering of God, that the tongue and mind which had framed such blasphemies were not immediately consumed by the divine fire; and we never would have suffered the reader of the aforenamed blasphemies to proceed, fearing [as we did] the indignation of God for their record alone (as each blasphemy surpassed its predecessor in the magnitude of its impiety and moved from its foundation the mind of the hearer) had it not been that we saw they who gloried in such blasphemies stood in need of the confusion which would come upon them through their manifestation. So that all of us, moved with indignation by these blasphemies against God, both during and after the reading, broke forth into denunciations and anathematisms against Theodore, as if he had been living and present. O Lord be merciful, we cried, not even devils have dared to utter such things against thee.

O intolerable tongue! O the depravity of the man! O that high hand he lifted up against his Creator! For the wretched man who had promised to know the Scriptures, had no recollection of the words of the Prophet Hosea, "Woe unto them! for they have fled from me: they are become famous because they were impious as touching me; they spake iniquities against me, and when they had thought them out, they spake the violent things against me. Therefore shall they fall in the snare by reason of the wickedness of their own tongues. Their contempt shall turn into their own bosom: because they have transgressed my covenant and have acted impiously against my laws."

To these curses the impious Theodore is justly subject. For the prophecies concerning Christ he rejected and hastened to destroy, so far as he had the power, the great mystery of the dispensation for our salvation; attempting in many ways to show the divine words to be nothing but fables, for the mirth of the gentiles, and spurned the other prophetic announcements made against the impious, especially that which the divine Habacuc said of those who teach falsely, "Woe unto him that


giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him and makest him drunken that thou mayest look on their nakedness," that is, their doctrines full of darkness and altogether foreign to the light.

And why should we add anything further? For anyone can take in his hands the writings of the impious Theodore or the impious chapters which from his impious writings were inserted by us in our acts, and find the incredible foolishness and the detestable things which he said. For we are afraid to proceed further and again to remember these infamies.

There was also read to us what had been written by the holy Fathers against him, and his foolishness which exceeded that of all heretics, and moreover the histories and the imperial laws, setting forth his impiety from the beginning, and since after all these things the defenders of his impiety, glorying in the injuries uttered by him against his Creator, said that it was not right to anathematize him after death, although we knew the ecclesiastical tradition concerning the impious, that even after death, heretics are anathematized; nevertheless we thought it necessary concerning this also to make examination, and there were found in the acts how divers heretics had been anathematized after death; and in many ways it was manifest to us that those who were saying this cared nothing for the judgment of God, nor for the Apostolic announcements, nor for the tradition of the Fathers. And we would like to ask them what they have to say to the Lord's having said of himself: "Whosoever should have believed in him, is not judged: but who should not have believed in him is judged already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God," and of that exclamation of the Apostle: Although we or an angel from heaven were to preach to you another gospel than that we have preached unto you, let him be anathema: as we have said, so now I say again, If anyone preach to you another gospel than that you have received, let him be anathema."

For when the Lord says: "he is judged already," and when the Apostle anathematizes even angels, if they teach anything different from what we have preached, how can even those who dare all things, presume to say that these words refer only to the living? or are they ignorant, or is it not rather that they feign to be ignorant, that the judgment of anathema is nothing else than that of separation from God? For the impious person, although he may not have been verbally anathematized by anyone, nevertheless he really is anathematized, having separated himself from the true life by his impiety.

For what have they to answer to the Apostle again when he says, "A man that is an heretic reject after the first and second corrections. Knowing that such a man is perverse, and sins, and is condemned by himself."

In accordance with which words Cyril of blessed memory, in the books which he wrote against Theodore, says as follows: They are to be avoided who are in the grasp of such awful crimes whether they be among the quick or not. For it is necessary always to flee from that which is hurtful, and not to have respect of persons, but to consider what is pleasing to God. And again the same Cyril of holy memory, writing to John, bishop of Antioch, and to the synod assembled in that city concerning Theodore who was anathematized together with Nestorius, says thus: It was therefore necessary to keep a brilliant festival, since every voice which agreed with the blasphemies of Nestorius had been cast out no matter whose. For it proceeded against all those who held these same opinions or had at one time held them, which is exactly what we and your holiness have said: We anathematize those who say that there are two Sons and two Christs. For one is he who is preached by us and you, as we have said, Christ, the Son and Lord, only begotten as man, according to the saying of the most learned Paul. And also in his letter to Alexander and Martinian and John and Paregorius and Maximus, presbyters and monastic fathers, and those who with them were leading the solitary life, he so says: The holy synod of Ephesus, gathered together according to the will of God against the Nestorian perfidy with a just and keen sentence condemned together with him the empty words of those who afterwards should embrace or who had in time past embraced the same opinions with him, and who presumed to say or write any such thing, laying upon them an equal condemnation. For it fol-


lowed naturally that when one was condemned for such profane emptiness of speech, the sentence should not come against one only, but (so to speak) against every one of their heresies or calumnies, which they utter against the pious doctrines of the Christ, worshipping two Sons, and dividing the indivisible, and bringing in the crime of man-worship (anthropolatry), both into heaven and earth. For with us the holy multitude of the supernal spirits adore one Lord Jesus Christ. Moreover several letters of Augustine, of most religious memory, who shone forth resplendent among the African bishops, were read, shewing that it was quite right that heretics should be anathematized after death. And this ecclesiastical tradition, the other most reverend bishops of Africa have preserved: and the holy Roman Church as well had anathematized certain bishops after their death, although they had not been accused of any falling from the faith during their lives: and of each we have the evidence in our hands.

But since the disciples of Theodore and of his impiety, who are so manifestly enemies of the truth, have attempted to bring forward certain passages of Cyril of holy memory and of Proclus, as though they had been written in favour of Theodore, it is opportune to fit to them the words of the prophet when he says: "The ways of the Lord are right and the just walk therein; but the wicked shall be weak in them." For these, evilly receiving the fixings which have been well and opportunely written by the holy Fathers, and making excuses in their sins, quote these words. The fathers do not appear as delivering Theodore from anathema, but rather as economically using certain expressions on account of those who defended Nestorius and his impiety, in order to draw them away from this error, and to lead them to perfection and to teach them to condemn not only Nestorius, the disciple of the impiety, but also his teacher Theodore. So in these very words of economy the Fathers shew their intention on tiffs point, that Theodore should be anathematized, as has been abundantly demonstrated by us in our acts from the writings of Cyril and Proclus of holy memory with regard to the condemnation of Theodore and his impiety. And such economy is found in divine Scripture: and it is evident that Paul the Apostle made use of this in the beginning of his ministry, in relation to those who had been brought up as Jews, and circumcised Timothy, that by this economy and condescension he might lead them on to perfection. But afterwards he forbade circumcision, writing thus to the Galatians: "Behold, I Paul say to you, that if ye be circumcised Christ profiteth you nothing." But we found that that which heretics were wont to do, the defenders of Theodore had done also. For cutting out certain of the things which the holy Fathers had written, and placing with them and mixing up certain false things of their own, they have tried by a letter of Cyril of holy memory as though from a testimony of the Fathers, to free from anathema the aforesaid impious Theodore: in which very passages the truth was demonstrated, when the parts which had been cut off were read in their proper order, and the falsehood was thoroughly evinced by the collation of the true. But in all these things, they who spake such vanities, "trusted in falsehood," as it is written, "they trust in falsehood, and speak vanity; they conceive grief and bring forth iniquity, weaving the spider's web." When we had thus considered Theodore and his impiety, we took care to have re cited and inserted in our acts a few of these things which had been impiously written by Theodoret against the right faith and against the Twelve Chapters of St. Cyril and against the First Council of Ephesus, also certain things written by him in defence of those impious ones Theodore and Nestorius, for the satisfaction of the reader; that all might know that these had been justly cast out and anathematized. In the third place the letter which is said to have been written by Ibas to Maris the Persian, was brought forward for examination, and we found that it, too, should be read. When it was read immediately its impiety was manifest to all. And it was right to make the condemnation and anathematism of the aforesaid Three Chapters, as even to this time there had been some question on the subject. But because the defenders of these impious ones, Theodore and Nestorius, were scheming in some way or other to confirm these persons and their impiety, and were saving that this impious letter, which praised and defended Theodore and


Nestorius and their impiety, had been received by the holy Council of Chalcedon we thought it necessary to shew that the holy synod was free of the impiety which was contained in that letter, that it might be clear that they who say such things do not do so with the favour of this holy council, but that through its name they may confirm their own impiety. And it was shewn in the acts that in former times Ibas had been accused because of the very impiety which is contained in this letter; at first by Proclus, of holy memory, the bishop of Constantinople, and afterwards by Theodosius, of pious memory, and by Flavian, who was ordained bishop in succession to Proclus, who delegated the examination of the matter to Photius, bishop of Tyre, and to Eustathius, bishop of the city of Beyroot. Afterwards the same Ibas, being found guilty, was cast out of his bishopric. Such was the state of the case, how could anyone presume to say that that impious letter was received by the holy council of Chalcedon and that the holy council of Chalcedon agreed with it throughout? Nevertheless in order that they who thus calumniate the holy council of Chalcedon may have no further opportunity of doing so, we ordered to be recited the decisions of the holy Synods, to wit, of first Ephesus, and of Chalcedon, with regard to the Epistles of Cyril of blessed memory and of Leo, of pious memory, sometime Pope of Old Rome. And since we had learned from these that nothing written by anyone else ought to be received unless it had been proved to agree with the orthodox faith of the holy Fathers, we interrupted our proceedings so as to recite also the definition of the faith which was set forth by the holy council of Chalcedon, so that we might compare the things in the epistle with this decree. And when this was done it was perfectly clear that the contents of the epistle were wholly opposite to those of the definition.

For the definition agreed with the one and unchanging faith set forth as well by the 318 holy Fathers as by the 150 and by those who assembled at the first synod at Ephesus. But that impious letter, on the other hand, contained the blasphemies of the heretics Theodore and Nestorius, and defended them, and calls them doctors, while it calls the holy Fathers heretics.

And this we made manifest to all, that we did not have any intention of omitting the Fathers of the first and second interlocutions, which the followers of Theodore and Nestorius cited on their side, but these and all the others having been read and their contents examined, we found that the aforesaid Ibas was not allowed to be received without being compelled to anathematize Nestorius and his impious teachings, which were defended in that epistle. And this the rest of the religious bishops of the aforesaid holy Council did as well as those two whose interlocutions certain tried to use.

For this they observed in the case of Theodoret, and required him to anathematize those things of which he was accused. If therefore they were willing to allow the reception of Ibas in no other manner unless he condemned the impiety which was contained in his letters, and subscribed the definition of faith adopted by the Council, how can they attempt to make out that this impious letter was received by the same holy council? For we are taught, "What fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols."

Having thus detailed all that has been done by us, we again confess that we receive the four holy Synods, that is, the Nicene, the Constantinopolitan, the first of Ephesus, and that of Chalcedon, and we have taught, and do teach all that they defined respecting the one faith. And we account those who do not receive these things aliens from the Catholic Church. Moreover we condemn and anathematize, together with all the other heretics who have been condemned and anathematized by the before-mentioned four holy Synods, and by the holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, Theodore who was Bishop of Mopsuestia, and his impious writings, and also those things which Theodoret impiously wrote against the right faith, and against the Twelve Chapters of the holy Cyril, and against the first Synod of Ephesus, and also those which he wrote in defence of Theodore and Nestorius. In addition to these we also anathematize the impious Epistle which Ibas is said to have


written to Maris, the Persian, which denies that God the Word was incarnate of the holy Mother of God, and ever Virgin Mary, and accuses Cyril of holy memory, who taught the truth, as an heretic, and of the same sentiments with Apollinaris, and blames the first Synod of Ephesus as deposing Nestorius without examination and inquiry, and calls the Twelve Chapters of the holy Cyril impious, and contrary to the right faith, and defends Theodorus and Nestorius, and their impious dogmas and writings. We therefore anathematize the Three Chapters before-mentioned, that is, the impious Theodore of Mopsuestia, with his execrable writings, and those things which Theodoret impiously wrote, and the impious letter which is said to be of Ibas, and their defenders, and those who have written or do write in defence of them, or who dare to say that they are correct, and who have defended or attempt to defend their impiety with the names of the holy Fathers, or of the holy Council of Chalcedon. These things therefore being settled with all accuracy, we, bearing in remembrance the promises made respecting the holy Church, and who it was that said that the gates of hell should not prevail against her, that is, the deadly tongues of heretics; remembering also what was prophesied respecting it by Hosea, saying, "I will betroth thee unto me in faithfulness, and thou shalt know the Lord," and numbering together with the devil, the father of lies, the unbridled tongues of heretics who persevered in their impiety unto death, and their most impious writings, will say to them, "Behold, all ye kindle a fire, and cause the flame of the fire to grow strong, ye shall walk in the light of your fire, and the flame which ye kindle." But we, having a commandment to exhort the people with right doctrine, and to speak to the heart of Jerusalem, that is, the Church of God, do rightly make haste to sow in righteousness, and to reap the fruit of life; and kindling for ourselves the light of knowledge from the holy Scriptures, and the doctrine of the Fathers, we have considered it necessary to comprehend in certain Capitula, both the declaration of the truth, and the condemnation of heretics, and of their wickedness.



(Labbe and Cossart, Concilia, Tom. V., col. 568.)


If anyone shall not confess that the nature or essence of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is one, as also the force and the power; [if anyone does not confess] a consubstantial Trinity, one Godhead to be worshipped in three subsistences or Persons: let him be anathema. For there is but one God even the Father of whom are all things, and one Lord Jesus Christ through whom are all things, and one Holy Spirit in whom are all things.


If anyone shall not confess that the Word of God has two nativities, the one from all eternity of the Father, without time and without body; the other in these last days, coming down from heaven and being made flesh of the holy and glorious Mary, Mother of God and always a virgin, and born of her: let him be anathema.


IF anyone shall say that the wonder-working Word of God is one [Person] and the Christ that suffered another; or shall say that God the Word was with the woman-born Christ, or was in him as one person in another, but that he was not one and the same our Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God, incarnate and made man, and that his miracles and the sufferings which of his own will he endured in the flesh were not of the same [Person]: let him be anathema.


If anyone shall say that the union of the Word of God to man was only according to grace or energy, or dignity, or equality of honour, or authority, or relation, or effect, or power, or according to good pleasure in this sense that God the Word was pleased with a man, that is to say, that he loved him for his own sake, as says the senseless Theodorus, or [if anyone pretends that this union exists only] so far as likeness of name is concerned, as the Nestorians understand, who call also the Word of God Jesus and Christ, and even accord to the man the names of Christ and of Son, speaking thus clearly of two persons, and only designating disingenuously one Person and one Christ when the reference is to his honour, or his dignity, or his worship; if anyone shall not acknowledge as the Holy Fathers teach, that the union of God the Word is made with the flesh animated by a reasonable and living soul, and that such union is made synthetically and hypostatically, and that therefore there is only one Person, to wit: our Lord Jesus Christ, one of the Holy Trinity: let him be anathema. As a matter of fact the word "union" ( ths enwsews )has many meanings, and the partisans of Apollinaris and Eutyches have affirmed that these natures are confounded inter se, and have asserted a union produced by the mixture of both. On the other hand the followers of Theodorus and of Nestorius rejoicing in the division of the natures, have taught only a relative union. Meanwhile the Holy Church of God, condemning equally the impiety of both sorts of heresies, recognises the union of God the Word with the flesh synthetically, that is to say, hypostatically. For in the mystery of Christ the synthetical union not only preserves unconfusedly the natures which are united, but also allows no separation.


If anyone understands the expression "one only Person of our Lord Jesus Christ" in this sense, that it is the union of many hypostases, and if he attempts thus to introduce into the mystery of Christ two hypostases, or two Persons, and, after having intro-


duced two persons, speaks of one Person only out of dignity, honour or worship, as both Theodorus and Nestorius insanely have written; if anyone shall calumniate the holy Council of Chalcedon, pretending that it made use of this expression [one hypostasis] in this impious sense, and if he will not recognize rather that the Word of God is united with the flesh hypostatically, and that therefore there is but one hypostasis or one only Person, and that the holy Council of Chalcedon has professed in this sense the one Person of our Lord Jesus Christ: let him be anathema. For since one of the Holy Trinity has been made man, viz.: God the Word, the Holy Trinity has not been increased by the addition of another person or hypostasis.


IF anyone shall not call in a true acceptation, but only in a false acceptation, the holy, glorious, and ever-virgin Mary, the Mother of God, or shall call her so only in a relative sense, believing that she bare only a simple man and that God the word was not incarnate of her, but that the incarnation of God the Word resulted only from the fact that he united himself to that man who was born [of her];(1) if he shall calumniate the Holy Synod of Chalcedon as though it had asserted the Virgin to be Mother of God according to the impious sense of Theodore; or if anyone shall call her the mother of a man anqrwpotokon or the Mother of Christ (X ristotokon ), as if Christ were not God, and shall not confess that she is exactly and truly the Mother of God, because that God the Word who before all ages was begotten of the Father was in these last days made flesh and born of her, and if anyone shall not confess that in this sense the holy Synod of Chalcedon acknowledged her to be the Mother of God: let him be anathema.


IF anyone using the expression, "in two natures," does not confess that our one Lord Jesus Christ has been revealed in the divinity and in the humanity, so as to designate by that expression a difference of the natures of which an ineffable union is unconfusedly made, [a union] in which neither the nature of the Word was changed into that of the flesh, nor that of the flesh into that of the Word, for each remained that it was by nature, the union being hypostatic; but shall take the expression with regard to the mystery of Christ in a sense so as to divide the parties, or recognising the two natures in the only Lord Jesus, God the Word made man, does not content himself with taking in a theoretical manner(2) the difference of the natures which compose him, which difference is not destroyed by the union between them, for one is composed of the two and the two are in one, but shall make use of the number [two] to divide the natures or to make of them Persons properly so called: let him be anathema.(3)


IF anyone uses the expression "of two natures," confessing that a union was made of the Godhead and of the humanity, or the expression "the one nature made flesh of God the Word," and shall not so understand those expressions as the holy Fathers have taught, to wit: that of the divine and human nature there was made an hypostatic union, whereof is one Christ; but from these expressions shall try to introduce one nature or substance [made by a mixture] of the Godhead and manhood of Christ; let him be anathema. For in teaching that the only-begotten Word was united hypostatically [to humanity] we do not mean to say that there was made a mutual confusion of natures, but rather each [nature] remaining what it was, we understand that the Word was united to the flesh. Wherefore there is one Christ, both God and man, consubstantial with the Father as touching his Godhead, and consubstantial with us as touching his


manhood. Therefore they are equally condemned and anathematized by the Church of God, who divide or part the mystery of the divine dispensation of Christ, or who introduce confusion into that mystery.


IF anyone shall take the expression, Christ ought to be worshipped in his two natures, in the sense that he wishes to introduce thus two adorations, the one in special relation to God the Word and the other as pertaining to the man; or if anyone to get rid of the flesh, [that is of the humanity of Christ,] or to mix together the divinity and the humanity, shall speak monstrously of one only nature or essence ( fusin hgoun ousian ) of the united (natures), and so worship Christ, and does not venerate, by one adoration, God the Word made man, together with his flesh, as the Holy Church has taught from the beginning: let him be anathema.


IF anyone does not confess that our Lord Jesus Christ who was crucified in the flesh is true God and the Lord of Glory and one of the Holy Trinity: let him be anathema.


IF anyone does not anathematize Arius, Eunomius, Macedonius, Apollinaris, Nestorius, Eutyches and Origen, as well as their impious writings, as also all other heretics already condemned and anathematized by the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, and by the aforesaid four Holy Synods and [if anyone does not equally anathematize] all those who have held and hold or who in their impiety persist in holding to the end the same opinion as those heretics just mentioned: let him be anathema.



(Hist. Councils, Vol. iv., p. 336.)

Halloix, Garnier, Basnage, Walch and others suppose, and Vincenzi maintains with great zeal, that the name of Origen is a later insertion in this anathematism, because (a) Theodore Ascidas, the Origenist, was one of the most influential members of the Synod, and would certainly have prevented a condemnation of Origen; further, (b) because in this anathematism only such heretics would be named as had been condemned by one of the first four Ecumenical Synods, which was not the case with Origen; (c) because this anathematism is identical with the tenth in the omologia of the Emperor, but in the latter the name of Origen is lacking; and, finally, (d) because Origen does not belong to the group of heretics to whom this anathematism refers. His errors were quite different.

All these considerations scent to me of insufficient strength, or mere conjecture, to make an alteration in the text, and arbitrarily to remove the name of Origen. As regards the objection in connection with Theodore Ascidas, it is known that the latter had already pronounced a formal anathema on Origen, and certainly he did the same this time, if the Emperor wished it or if it seemed advisable. The second and fourth objections have little weight. In regard to the third (c) it is quite possible that either the Emperor subsequently went further than in his omologia , or that the bishops at the fifth Synod, of their own accord, added Origen, led on perhaps by one or another anti-Origenist of their number. What, however, chiefly determines us to the retention of the text is: (a) that the copy of the synodal Acts extant in the Roman archives, which has the highest credibility, and was probably prepared for Vigilius himself, contains the name of Origen in the eleventh anathematism; and (b) that the monks of the new Lama in Palestine, who are known to have been zealous Origenists, withdrew Church communion from the bishops of Palestine after these had subscribed the Acts of the fifth Synod. In the anathema on the Three Chapters these Origenists could find as little ground for such a rupture as their friends and former colleague Ascidas; it could only be by the synod attacking their darling Origen. (c) Finally, only on the ground that the name of Origen really stood in the eleventh anathematism, can we explain the widely-circulated ancient rumour that our Synod anathematized Origen and the Origenists.



IF anyone defends the impious Theodore of Mopsuestia, who has said that the Word of God is one person, but that another person is Christ, vexed by the sufferings of the soul and the desires of the flesh, and separated little by little above that which is inferior, and become better by the progress in good works and irreproachable in Iris manner of life, as a mere man was baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, and obtained by this baptism the grace of the Holy Spirit, and became worthy of Sonship, and to be worshipped out of regard to the Person of God the Word (just as one worships the image of an emperor) and that he is become, after the resurrection, unchangeable in his thoughts and altogether without sin. And, again, this same impious Theodore has also said that the union of God the Word with Christ is like to that which, according to the doctrine of the Apostle, exists between a man and his wife, "They twain shall be in one flesh." The same [Theodore] has dared, among numerous other blasphemies, to say that when after the resurrection the Lord breathed upon his disciples, saying, "Receive the Holy Ghost," he did not really give them the Holy Spirit, but that he breathed upon them only as a sign. He likewise has said that the profession of faith made by Thomas when he had, after the resurrection, touched the hands and the side of the Lord, viz.: "My Lord and my God," was not said in reference to Christ, but that Thomas, filled with wonder at the miracle of the resurrection, thus thanked God who had raised up Christ. And moreover (which is still more scandalous) this same Theodore in his Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles compares Christ to Plato, Manichaeus, Epicurus and Marcion, and says that as each of these men having discovered his own doctrine, had given his name to his disciples, who were called Platonists, Manicheans, Epicureans and Marcionites, just so Christ, having discovered his doctrine, had given the name Christians to his disciples. If, then, anyone shall defend this most impious Theodore and his impious writings, in which he vomits the blasphemies mentioned above, and countless others besides against our Great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, and if anyone does not anathematize him or his impious writings, as well as all those who protect or defend him, or who assert that his exegesis is orthodox, or who write in favour of him and of his impious works, or those who share the same opinions, or those who have shared them and still continue unto the end in this heresy: let him be anathema.


IF anyone shall defend the impious writings of Theodoret, directed against the true faith and against the first holy Synod of Ephesus and against St. Cyril and his XII. Anathemas, and [defends] that which he has written in defence of the impious Theodore and Nestorius, and of others having the same opinions as the aforesaid Theodore and Nestorius, if anyone admits them or their impiety, or shall give the name of impious to the doctors of the Church who profess the hypostatic union of God the Word; and if anyone does not anathematize these impious writings and those who have held or who hold these sentiments, and all those who have written contrary to the true faith or against St. Cyril and his XII. Chapters, and who die in their impiety: let him be anathema.


IF anyone shall defend that letter which Ibas is said to have written to Maris the Persian, in which he denies that the Word of God incarnate of Mary, the Holy Mother of God and ever-virgin, was made man, but says that a mere man was born of her, whom he styles a Temple, as though the Word of God was one Person and the man another person; in which letter also he reprehends St. Cyril as a heretic, when he teaches the right faith of Christians, and charges him with writing things like to the wicked Apollinaris. In addition to this he vituperates the First Holy Council of Ephesus, affirming that it deposed Nestorius without discrimination and without examination. The aforesaid impious epistle styles the XII. Chapters of Cyril of blessed memory, impious and contrary


to the right faith and defends Theodore and Nestorius and their impious teachings and writings. If anyone therefore shall defend the aforementioned epistle and shall not anathematize it and those who defend it and say that it is right or that a part of it is right, or if anyone shall defend those who have written or shall write in its favour, or in defence of the impieties which are contained in it, as well as those who shall presume to defend it or the impieties which it contains in the name of the Holy Fathers or of the Holy Synod of Chalcedon, and shall remain in these offences unto the end: let him be anathema.



That Origen was condemned by name in the Eleventh Canon of this council there seems no possible reason to doubt. I have given in connexion with that canon a full discussion of the evidence upon which our present text rests. But there arises a further question, to wit, Did the Fifth Synod examine the case of Origen and finally adopt the XV. Anathemas against him which are usually found assigned to it ? It would seem that with the evidence now in our possession it would be the height of rashness to give a dogmatic answer to this question. Scholars of the highest repute have taken, and do take to-day, the opposite sides of the case, and each defends his own side with marked learning and ability. To my mind the chief difficulty in supposing these anathematisms to have been adopted by the Fifth Ecumenical is that nothing whatever is said about Origen in the call of the council, nor in any of the letters written in connexion with it; all of which would seem unnatural had there been a long discussion upon the matter, and had such an important dogmatic definition been adopted as the XV. Anathemas, and yet on the other hand there is a vast amount of literature subsequent in date to the council which distinctly attributes a detailed and careful examination of the teaching of Origen and a formal condemnation of him and of it to this council.

The XV. Anathemas as we now have them were discovered by Peter Lambeck, the Librarian of Vienna, in the XVIIth century; and bear, in the Vienna MS., the heading, "Canons, of the 165 holy Fathers of the holy fifth Synod, held in Constantinople." But despite this, Walch (Ketzerhist., Vol. vii., p. 661 et seqq. and 671; Vol. viij., p. 281 et seqq.); Dollinger (Church History, Eng. Trans., Vol. v., p. 203 et seqq.); Hefele (Hist. Councils, Vol. iv., p. 221 sq.), and many others look upon this caption as untrustworthy. Evagrius, the historian, distinctly says that Origen was condemned with special anathemas at this Council, but his evidence is likewise (and, as it seems to me, too peremptorily) set aside.

Cardinal Noris, in his Dissertatio Historica de Synodo Quinta, is of opinion that Origen was twice condemned by the Fifth Synod; the first time by himself before the eight sessions of which alone the acts remain, and again after those eight sessions, in connexion with two of his chief followers, Didymus the Blind and the deacon Evagrius. The Jesuit, John Garnier wrote in opposition to Noris; but his work, while exceedingly clever, is considered by the learned to contain (as Hefele says) "many statements [which] are rash, arbitrary, and inaccurate, and on the whole it is seen to be written in a spirit of opposition to Noris."(1) In defence of Noris's main contention came forward the learned Ballerini brothers, of Verona. In their Defensio dissertationis Norisianoe de Syn. V. adv. diss. P. Garnerii, they expand and amend Noris's hypothesis. But after all is said the matter remains involved in the greatest obscurity, and it is far easier to bring forward objections to the arguments in defence of either view than to bring forward a theory which will satisfy all the conditions of the problem.


Those who deny that the XV. Anathemas were adopted by the Fifth Synod agree in assigning them to the "Home Synod," that is a Synod at Constantinople of the bishops subject to it, in A.D. 543. Hefele takes this view and advocates it with much cogency, but confesses frankly, "We certainly possess no strong and decisive proof that the fifteen anathematisms belong to the Constantinopolitan synod of the year 543; but some probable grounds for the opinion may be adduced.(1) This appears to be a somewhat weak statement with which to overthrow so much evidence as there can be produced for the opposite view. For the traditional view the English reader will find a complete defence in E. B. Pusey, What is of Faith with regard to Eternal Punishment?

Before closing it will be well to call the attention of the reader to these words now found in the acts as we have them:

"And we found that many others had been anathematised after death, also even Origen; and if any one were to go back to the times of Theophilus of blessed memory or further he would have found him anathematised after death; which also now your holiness and Vigilius, the most religious Pope of Old Rome has done in his case."(2) It would seem that this cannot possibly refer to anything else than a condemnation of Origen by the Fifth Ecumenical Synod, and so strongly is Vincenzi, Origen's defender, impressed with this that he declares the passage to have been tampered with. But even if these anathemas were adopted at the Home Synod before the meeting of the Fifth Ecumenical, it is clear that by including his name among those of the heretics in the XIth Canon, it practically ratified and made its own the action of that Synod.

The reader will be glad to know Harnack's judgment in this matter. Writing of the Fifth Council, he says: "It condemned Origen, as Justinian desired; it condemned the Three Chapters and consequently the Antiochene theology, as Justinian desired," etc., and in a foot-note he explains that he agrees with "Noris, the Ballerini, Moller (R. Encykl., xi., p. 113) and Loofs (pp. 287, 291) as against Hefele and Vincenzi."(3) A few pages before, he speaks of this last author's book as "a big work which falsities history to justify the theses of Halloix, to rehabilitate Origen and Vigilius, and on the other hand to 'remodel' the Council and partly to bring it into contempt."(4) Further on he says: "The fifteen anathemas against Origen, on which his condemnation at the council was based, contained the following points. ... Since the 'Three Chapters ' were condemned at the same time, Origen and Theodore were both got rid of. ... Origen's doctrines of the consummation, and of spirits and matter might no longer be maintained. The judgment was restored to its place, and got back even its literal meaning."(5)



IF anyone asserts the fabulous pre-existence of souls, and shall assert the monstrous restoration which follows from it: let him be anathema.


IF anyone shall say that the creation ( thu paragwghn ) of all reasonable things includes only intelligences ( noas ) without bodies and altogether immaterial, having neither number nor name, so that there is unity between them all by identity of substance, force and energy, and by their union with and knowledge of God the Word; but that no longer desiring the sight of God, they gave themselves over to worse things, each one following his own inclinations, and that they have taken bodies more or less subtile, and have received names, for among the heavenly Powers there is a difference of names as there is also a difference of bodies; and thence some became and are called Cherubims, others Seraphims, and Principalities, and Powers, and Dominations, and Thrones, and Angels, and as many other heavenly orders as there may be: let him be anathema.


IF anyone shall say that the sun, the moon and the stars are also reasonable beings, and that they have only become what they are because they turned towards evil: let him be anathema.


IF anyone shall say that the reasonable creatures in whom the divine love had grown cold have been hidden in gross bodies such as ours, and have been called men, while those who have attained the lowest degree of wickedness have shared cold and obscure bodies and are become and called demons and evil spirits: let him be anathema,.


IF anyone shall say that a psychic ( yukikhn ) condition has come from an angelic or archangelic state, and moreover that a demoniac and a human condition has come from a psychic condition, and that from a human state they may become again angels and demons, and that each order of heavenly virtues is either all from those below or from those above, or from those above and below: let him be anathema.


IF anyone shall say that there is a twofold race of demons, of which the one includes the souls of men and the other the superior spirits who fell to this, and that of all the number of reasonable beings there is but one which has remained unshaken in the love and contemplation of God, and that that spirit is become Christ and the king of all reasonable beings, and that he has created(1) all the bodies which exist in heaven, on earth, and between heaven and earth; and that the world which has in itself elements more ancient than itself, and which exists by themselves, viz.: dryness, damp, heat and cold, and the image ( idean ) to which it was formed, was so formed, and that the most holy and consubstantial Trinity did not create the world, but that it was created by the working intelligence (N ous dhmiourgos ) which is more ancient than the world, and which communicates to it its being: let him be anathema.


IF anyone shah say that Christ, of whom it is said that he appeared in the form of God, and that he was united before all time with God the Word, and humbled himself in these last days even to humanity, had (according to their expression) pity upon the divers falls which had appeared in the spirits united in the same unity (of which he himself is part), and that to


restore them he passed through divers classes, had different bodies and different names, became all to all, an Angel among Angels, a Power among Powers, has clothed I himself in the different classes of reasonable beings with a form corresponding to that class, and finally has taken flesh and blood like ours and is become man for men; [if anyone says all this] and does not profess that God the Word humbled himself and became man: let him be anathema.


IF anyone shall not acknowledge that God the Word, of the same substance with the Father and the Holy Ghost, and who was made flesh and became man, one of the Trinity, is Christ in every sense of the word, but [shall affirm] that he is so only in an inaccurate manner, and because of the abasement ( kenwsanta ), as they call it, of the intelligence ( nous ); if anyone shall affirm that this intelligence united ( sunhmmenon ) to God the Word, is the Christ in the true sense of the word, while the Logos is only called Christ because of this union with the intelligence, and e converse that the intelligence is only called God because of the Logos: let him be anathema.


IF anyone shall say that it was not the Divine Loges made man by taking an animated body with a yukh logikh and noera , that he descended into hell and ascended into heaven, but shall pretend that it is the N ous which has done this, that N ous of which they say (in an impious fashion) he is Christ properly so called, and that he is become so by the knowledge of the Monad: let him be anathema.


IF anyone shall say that after the resurrection the body of the Lord was ethereal, having the form of a sphere, and that such shall be the bodies of all after the resurrection; and that after the Lord himself shall have rejected his true body and after the others who rise shall have rejected theirs, the nature of their bodies shall be annihilated: let him be anathema.


IF anyone shall say that the future judgment signifies the destruction of the body and that the end of the story will be an immaterial yusis , and that thereafter there will no longer be any matter, but only spirit nous ): let him be anathema.


IF anyone shall say that the heavenly Powers and all men and the Devil and evil spirits are united with the Word of God in all respects, as the N ous which is by them called Christ and which is in the form of God, and which humbled itself as they say; and [if anyone shall say] that the Kingdom of Christ shall have an end: let him be anathema.


IF anyone shall say that Christ [i.e., the N ous is in no wise different from other reasonable beings, neither substantially nor by wisdom nor by his power and might over all things but that all will be placed at the right hand of God, as well as he that is called by them Christ [the N ous , as also they were in the reigned pre-existence of all things: let him be anathema.


IF anyone shall say that all reasonable beings will one day be united in one, when the hypostases as well as the numbers and the bodies shall have disappeared, and that the knowledge of the world to come will carry with it the ruin of the worlds, and the rejection of bodies as also the abolition of [all] names, and that there shall be finally an identity of the gnpsis and of the hypostasis; moreover, that in this pretended apocatastasis, spirits only will continue to exist, as it was in the reigned pre-existence: let him be anathema.


IF anyone shall say that the life of the spirits ( nopn ) shall be like to the life which was in the beginning while as yet the spirits had not come down or fallen, so that the end and the beginning shall be alike, and that the end shall be the true measure of the beginning: let him be anathema.



(Labbe and Cossart, Concilia, Tom. v., col. 677.)

Whoever says or thinks that human souls pre-existed, i.e., that they had previously been spirits and holy powers, but that, satiated with the vision of God, they had turned to evil, and in this way the divine love in them had died out ( apyugeisas ) and they had therefore become souls ( yukas ) and had been condemned to punishment in bodies, shall be anathema.

II. If anyone says or thinks that the soul of the Lord pre-existed and was united with God the Word before the Incarnation and Conception of the Virgin, let him be anathema.

III. If anyone says or thinks that the body of our Lord Jesus Christ was first formed in the womb of the holy Virgin and that afterwards there was united with it God the Word and the pre-existing soul, let him be anathema.


If anyone says or thinks that the Word of God has become like to all heavenly orders, so that for the cherubim he was a cherub, for the seraphim a seraph: in short, like all the superior powers, let him be anathema.


If anyone says or thinks that, at the resurrection, human bodies will rise spherical in form and unlike our present form, let him be anathema.


If anyone says that the heaven, the sun, the moon, the stars, and the waters that are above heavens, have souls, and are reasonable beings, let him be anathema.


If anyone says or thinks that Christ the Lord in a future time will be crucified for demons as he was for men, let him be anathema.


If anyone says or thinks that the power of God is limited, and that he created as much as he was able to compass, let him be anathema.

IX. If anyone says or thinks that the punishment of demons and of impious men is only temporary, and will one day have an end, and that a restoration ( apokatastasis ) will take place of demons and of impious men, let him be anathema.

Anathema to Origen and to that Adamantius, who set forth these opinions together with his nefarious and execrable and wicked doctrine? and to whomsoever there is who thinks thus, or defends these opinions, or in any way hereafter at any time shall presume to protect them.




(Fleury. Hist. Eccl., Liv. xxxiii. 52.)

At last the Pope Vigilius resigned himself to the advice of the Council, and six months afterwards wrote a letter to the Patriarch Eutychius, wherein he confesses that he has been wanting in charity in dividing from his brethren. He adds, that one ought not to be ashamed to retract, when one recognises the truth, and brings forward the example of

Augustine. He says, that, after having better examined the matter of the Three Chapters, he finds them worthy of condemnation. "We recognize for our brethren and colleagues all those who have condemned them, and annul by this writing all that has been done by us or by others for the defence of the three chapters."



(The manuscript from which this letter was printed was found in the Royal Library of Paris by Peter de Marca and by him first published, with a Latin translation and with a dissertation. Both of these with the Greek text are found in Labbe and Cossart's Con-cilia, Tom. V., col. 596 et seqq.; also in Migne's Patr. Lat., Tom. LXIX., col. 121 et seqq. Some doubts have been expressed about its genuineness and Harduin is of opinion that the learned Jesuit, Garnerius, in his notes on the Deacon Leberatus's Breviary, has proved its supposititious character. But the learned have not generally been of this mind but have accepted the letter as genuine.)

Vigilius to his beloved brother Eutychius.

No one is ignorant of the scandals which the enemy of the human race has stirred up in all the world: so that he made each one with a wicked object in view, striving in some way to fulfil his wish to destroy the Church of God spread over the whole world, not only in his own name but even in ours and in those of others to compose diverse things as well in words as in writing; in so much that he attempted to divide us who, together with our brethren and fellow bishops, are stopping in this royal city, and who defend with equal reverence the four synods, and sincerely persist in the one and the same faith of those four synods, by his sophistries and machinations he tried to part from them; so that we ourselves who were and are of the same opinion as they touching the faith, went apart into discord, brotherly love being despised.(1)

But since Christ our God, who is the true light, whom the darkness comprehendeth not, hath removed all confusion from our minds, and hath so recalled peace to the whole world and to the Church, so that what things should be defined by us have been healthfully fulfilled through the revelation of the Lord and through the investigation of the truth.

Therefore, my dear brothers, I do you to wit, that in common with all of you, our brethren, we receive in all respects the four synods, that is to say the Nicene, the Constantinopolitan, the first Ephesian, and the Chalcedonian; and we venerate them with devout mind, and watch over them with all our mind. And should there be any who do not follow these holy synods in all things which they have defined concerning the faith, we judge them to be aliens to the communion of the holy and Catholic Church.

Wherefore on account of our desire that you, my brothers, should know what we have done in this matter, we make it known to you by this letter. For no one can doubt how many were the discussions raised on account of the Three Chapters, that is, concerning Theodore, sometime bishop of Mopsuestia, and his writings, as well as concerning the writings of Theodoret, and concerning that letter which is said to have been written by Ibas to Maris the Persian: and how diverse were the things spoken and written concerning these Three Chapters. Now if in every busi-


ness sound wisdom demands that there should be a retractation of what was propounded after examination, there ought to be no shame when what was at first omitted is made public after it is discovered by a further study of the truth. [And if this is the case in ordinary affairs] how much more in ecclesiastical strifes should the same dictate of sound reason be observed? Especially since it is manifest that our Fathers, and especially the blessed Augustine, who was in very sooth illustrious in the Divine Scriptures, and a master in Roman eloquence, retracted some of his own writings, and corrected some of his own sayings, and added what he had omitted and afterward found out. We, led by their example never gave over the study of the questions raised by the controversy with regard to the before-mentioned Three Chapters, nor our search for passages in the writings of our Fathers which were applicable to the matter.

As a result of this investigation it became evident that in the sayings of Theodore of Mopsuestia (which are spoken against on all hands) there are contained very many things contrary to the right faith and to the teachings of the holy Fathers; and for this very reason these same holy Fathers have left for the instruction of tile Church treatises which they had written against him.

For among other blasphemies of his we find that he openly said that God the Word was one [Person] and Christ another [Person], vexed with the passions of the soul and with the desires of the flesh, and that he little by little advanced from a lower to a higher stage of excellence by the improvement ( prokiph , per profectum operum) of his works, and became irreprehensible in his manner of life.(1) And further he taught that it was a mere man who was baptized in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and that he received through ilia baptism the grace of the Holy Spirit, and merited his adoption; and therefore that Christ could be venerated in the same way that the image of the Emperor is venerated as being the persona ( eis proswpon ) of God the Word. And he also taught that [only] after his resurrection he became immutable in his thoughts and altogether impeccable.

Moreover he said that the union of the Word of God was made with Christ as the Apostle says the union is made between a man and his wife: They twain shall be one flesh; and that after his resurrection, when the Lord breathed upon his disciples and said, Receive tile Holy Ghost, he did not give to them the Holy Spirit. In like strain of profanity he dared to say that the confession which Thomas made, when he touched the hands and side of the Lord after his resurrection, saying, My Lord and my God, did not apply to Christ (for Theodore did not acknowledge Christ to be God); but that Thomas gave glory to God being filled with wonder at the miracle of the resurrection, and so said these words.

But what is still worse is this, that in interpreting the Acts of the Apostles, Theodore makes Christ like to Plato, and Manichaeus, and Epicurus, and Marcian, saying: Just as each of these were the authors of their own peculiar teachings, and called their disciples after their own names, Platonists, and Munichaeans, and Epicureans, and Marcionites, just so Christ invented dogmas and called his followers Christians after himself.

Let therefore the whole Catholic Church know that justly and irreproachably we have arrived at the conclusions contained in this our constitution. Wherefore we condemn and anathematize Theodore, formerly bishop of Mopsuestia, and his impious writings, together with all other heretics, who (as is manifest) have been condemned and anathematized by the four holy Synods aforesaid, and by the Catholic Church: also the writings of Theodoret which are opposed to the right faith, and are against the Twelve Chapters of St. Cyril, and against the first Council of Ephesus, which were written by him in defence of Theodore and Nestorius.

Moreover we anathematize and condemn the letter to the Persian heretic Maris, which is said to have been written by Ibas, which denies that Christ the Word was incarnate of the holy Mother of God and ever-virgin Mary, and was made man, but declares that a mere man was born of her, and this man it styles a temple, so from this we are given to understand that God the Word is one [Person] and Christ another [Person]. Moreover it calumniates Saint Cyril, the master and herald of the orthodox faith, calling him a heretic, and charging him with writing things similar to Apollinaris; and it reviles the first Synod of Ephesus, as having condemned Nestorius without deliberation or investigation; it likewise declares the twelve chapters of St. Cyril to be impious and contrary to the right faith; and further still it defends Theodore and Nestorius, and their impious teachings and writings.

Therefore we anathematize and condemn


the aforesaid impious Three Chapters, to-wit, the impious Theodore of Mopsuestia and his impious writings; And all that Theodoret impiously wrote, as well as the letter said to have been written by Ibas, in which are contained the above mentioned profane blasphemies. We likewise subject to anathema whoever shall at any time believe that these chapters should be received or defended; or shall attempt to subvert this present condemnation.

And further we define that they are our brethren and fellow-priests who ever keep the right faith set forth by those afore-mentioned synods, and shall have condemned the above-named Three Chapters, or even do now condemn them.

And further we annul and evacuate by this present written definition of ours whatever has been said by me (a me)or by others in defence of the aforesaid Three Chapters.

Far be it from the Catholic Church that anyone should say that all the blasphemies above related or they who held and followed such things, were received by the before-mentioned four synods or by any one of them. For it is most clear, that no one was admitted by the before-mentioned holy Fathers and especially by the Council of Chalcedon, about whom there was any suspicion, unless he had first repelled the above-named blasphemies and all like to them, or else had denied and condemned the heresy or blasphemies of which he was suspected.


May God preserve thee in health, most honourable brother. Dated VI. Id. Dec. in the xxijd year of our lord the Emperor Justinian, eternal Augustus, the xijth year after the consulate of the illustrious Basil.(1)



Pope Vigilius died on his way home, but not until, as we have seen, he had accepted and approved the action of the council in doing exactly that which he "by the authority of the Apostolic See" in his Constitutum had forbidden it to do.(2) He died at the end of 554 or the beginning of 555.

Pelagius I., who succeeded him in the See of Rome, likewise confirmed the Acts of the Fifth Synod. The council however was not received in all parts of the West, although it had obtained the approval of the Pope. It was bitterly opposed in the whole of tile north of Italy, in England, France, and Spain, and also in Africa and Asia. The African opposition died out by 559, but Milan was in schism until 571, when Pope Justin II. published his "Henoticon." In Istria the matter was still more serious, and when in 607 the bishop of Aquileia-Grado with those of his suffragans who were subject to the Empire made their submission and were reconciled to the Church, the other bishops of his jurisdiction set up a schismatical Patriarchate at old Aquileia, and this schism continued till the Council of Aquileia in 700. But before this the II. Council of Constantinople was received all the world over as the Fifth Ecumenical Council; and was fully recognized as such by the Sixth Council in 680.

from The Seven Ecumenical Councils of the Undivided Church, trans H. R. Percival, in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 2nd Series, ed. P. Schaff and H. Wace, (repr. Grand Rapids MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1955), XIV, 300-323

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