Ephesus, Ecumenical Council of
- The Third Ecumenical Council called in 431 at Ephesus by Theodosios II (q.v.) to settle a dispute between Nestorios, patriarch of Constantinople (qq.v.), and Cyril, patriarch ofAlexandria (qq.v.), over the exact relationship of Christ's human and divine natures. Nestorios followed the theological school at Antioch (q.v.) which believed that although the two natures were in contact, they were essentially independent of each other. This led him to state that Mary was not, properly speaking, the Theotokos (q.v.), or " bearer of God," but the mother of a man, Christ. After all, Nestorios reasoned, how can one say that God, who is unchanging, was born and grew up? This attack on Mary aroused great passions within the church. When the council opened, the situation was chaotic, even disgraceful. Cyril borrowed 1,500 pounds of gold to bribe high officials at court. His supporters roamed the streets of Ephesus shouting and looking for trouble. Nestorios's house had to be guarded by soldiers for his protection. John I (q.v.), patriarch of Antioch, and Nestorios's main supporter, arrived three weeks late, which allowed Cyril to engineer Nestorios's condemnation. John I quickly responded by organizing a rival council on the spot to condemn Cyril, whom they declared deposed. At first Theodosios II let the two depositions stand, but Cyril's money and influence at court, including the support of Theodosios II's sister Pulcheria (q.v.), won the day, and he was allowed to resume his see (q.v.). However, Nestorios remained in exile in Egypt (q.v.). In 433 moderates on both sides agreed to accept the epithet Theotokos (q.v.) for Mary, and agreed to a compromise formula stating that Christ had two natures that existed in an unconfused union. Nestorios's followers retreated to Edessa (q.v.), and, after Zeno (q.v.) drove them from that city in 489, to Nisibis, in Persia (qq.v.). In terms of their ecclesiastical rivalry, the see of Alexandria had humiliated the upstart see of Constantinople.
Historical Dictionary of Byzantium . John H. Rosser .
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