A Theological Exploration of the Chalcedonian Implications of 451 on the Syriac Churches of the East

By Subdeacon
Christopher Nahra

DECEMBER 7, 2020

Submitted as Partial fulfillment of Theology and Religious Studies 727B – A Survey of Greek Patristics and the Ecumenical Councils Introduction


At the wake of the 6th century, terror and persecution filled the land of Edessa and the near East under the jurisdiction of Emperor Justin I and his successor Emperor Justinian. The Syrian monks and religious were taken out of their cities and churches and outcasted out to the peripheries of society. In 521, under the leadership of Emperor Justin I, the non-Chalcedonian members of society were condemned and persecuted for their faith in hopes to preserve the state’s integrity from dissension and destruction.[1] St. Jacob of Serugh, the bishop of Batnan in the 6th century describes this period of time in his writings pinpointing the horrors that filled the land and the devoid that spread across the churches. St. Jacob was born on the year of the Council of Chalcedon in 451, therefore by the time he became bishop, he had witnessed many crucial moments of history. Ergo, St. Jacob’s writings describe the persecutions and divisions within the Church under the jurisdiction of Emperor Justin I. St. Jacob writes:

“Death trampled on the adornment of priests and it destroyed the splendor of deacons in the place of destruction.” Church[es] were empty of their beautiful chants, and naves were devoid of their sweet melodies. The sanctuary weeps for them bitterly, and sacred vessels are clothed in pain because of the passing of those who were temples for the Spirit in the sanctuary, and who celebrated and offered up all the Divine Mysteries.”[2]

Amidst much persecution and grief, one can only venture to ask what caused all this persecution and more importantly what led up to these horrors? The history of the Church has seen much persecution under alien groups of people however what motivated Emperor Justin to claim that he had been “elected to the empire by favor of the indivisible [Christian] Trinity”[3] to persist in the persecution of Monophysites? Moreover, he firmly stated that he will “continuously commit himself to all plans and actions in the name of Jesus Christ.”[4] Emperor Justin I was attempting to protect the state from heresy which would bring about destruction to his society however what was the nature of this heresy, and to what extent did the theological premises of these churches really differ from that of orthodoxy? These questions I will tackle in this paper as I explore the events leading up to the 6th century persecution with special emphasis on the theological implications of the councils leading up to and including Chalcedon. Moreover, the scope of this paper will look at some historical and theological distinctions made throughout the councils amounting to the divisions amongst the Syriac Churches. Then, I will look at the sources of theology for the non-Chalcedonian churches as a framework to interpret the technical and linguistical nuances of their Christological understandings. Finally, I will conclude with some ecumenical responses to the Christological controversies and disparities amongst these churches. To begin this exploration, firstly, I will look at one of the most influential melting pots of theology, culture, and tradition – Antioch.


The city of Antioch is immensely important to look at first because it carries numerous traditions including that of Paul and Peter’s preaching. Its imperial and judicial influence can be expressed “stretching from the Euphrates to the Sinai”[5] as Antioch remained very powerful in the East. Antioch holding up through much turmoil including “frequent schisms, disputed elections and multiple claimants to the episcopacy”[6] expressed power and importance in the later fourth century which will prove to be useful in its near future. In terms of theology and philosophy, Antioch was an “intellectual powerhouse”[7] where a certain style of theology developed in the late fourth century through the influence of major theologians including “Diodore of Tarsus, Theodore of Mopsuestia, and Theodoret of Cyrrhus.”[8] Moreover, Antioch’s influence carried through the centuries especially at the councils where Antioch’s theology and philosophy would be disputed. For example, John of Antioch in the Council of Ephesus I fought in opposition with the Cyrillians to which “two years later led to reconciliation.”[9] However, Antioch did not have the impact of a deeply seated monastic tradition, “a fact made painfully clear by the vitriolic opposition to Ibas of Edessa documented in Chalcedon’s tenth session.”[10] Also, the people of Antioch including many clergy would regard themselves as “heretical Nestorians.”[11] Thus, Antioch entered the sphere of the ecumenical councils with various ailments and benefits making the councils all the more difficult to navigate through. Next, I will look at the councils of Ephesus I, II, and the Council of Chalcedon through a historical and theological Syriac perspective.

Councils of Ephesus I and II (Robber Synod)

The 5th century was met with much “veneration of the Holy Virgin”[12] as various devotions and traditions arose during this time period in Antioch and the east. Many people grew in devotion to specific saints and especially the Virgin Mary. However, coming from the Antiochene school of theology which ensured a high Christological divinity, Nestorius carried a different perspective. In 431, the Council of Ephesus I convened to assess the heretical preaching of Nestorius coming from an Antiochene monastery. Much dispute continued over the nature of Christ’s Incarnation and the Nestorian perspective saw this controversy as an “assault on the Holy Virgin and indeed on the very divinity of Christ.”[13] The nature of Christ thus depended on a Christological understanding of unity because “there was only one subject of all of the Word Incarnate’s actions, both in His divinity before the incarnation, and in His flesh; you could not legitimately talk about the human Jesus as if He were a distinct subject performing His own actions, as Nestorius was doing.”[14] Thus, as Cyril was securing his spot in Rome, John of Antioch was conducting a “counter council” to condemn Cyril and his theology. Likening the ideologies of Nestorius to that of Pelagianism, Cyril was skillfully able to win over the council members including Pope Celestine I who “refused to engage Nestorius in any dialogue, issuing a stern peremptory demand that Nestorius renounce his views or be excommunicated.”[15] Finally, even though Nestorius was condemned, he was still supported by the Syrian bishops who had “continued to claim victory for their position, and to try to diminish the influence of Cyril.”[16] Ergo, the controversy was not completely resolved.

The effects of the Council of Ephesus I trace back to the Antiochene school of theology and their clergy who were “by no means ready to swallow Cyrillian Christology.”[17] Their tradition of theology and history proved their support to Nestorius especially represented by Ibas’s letter to Mari the Persian in which he uses “harsh language against Cyril as to his doctrinal teachings.”[18] This would later on prove to be hindering at the Second Council of Ephesus as Ibas would become the pronounced miaphysite leader. And so, the second Council of Ephesus was convened to discuss the heresy of Monophysites under Cyril of Alexandria. With just over 100 bishops present at the council, Bishop Flavian conducted the council/synod in Constantinople condemning Eutyches for his Monophysite theology. Thus, thus this council demanded that the Antiochene churches to use a two-nature language about Christ which in their minds was a revival of Nestorianism. Interestingly enough, the Syrian patriarch of Antioch, Domnus, spear headed Eutyches condemnation at the Synod.[19] Subsequently, it was the patriarch of Alexandria, Dioscoros, who expectedly supported Eutyches by pushing for clarification of doctrine at the Council of Chalcedon. Concluding this synod with the Tome of Leo, the two-nature language had been developed and would be immensely crucial at the wake of the Council of Chalcedon. Thus, in conclusion, we see that the Antiochene position in the councils of Ephesus I and II were very nuanced. At first, the Antiochene bishops and clergy supported Nestorius two nature position regarding Christ and thus the Theotokos, and then we see the Patriarch of Antioch condemning Eutyches for his Monophysite theology. Additionally, the Syriac Orthodox Church (traditionally known as the Monophysite church) would later on condemn the 3 theological doctors Diodore of Tarsus, Theodore of Mopsuestia, and Theodoret of Cyrrhus for their theological positions based on this Robber Synod.[20] Finally, I believe these crucial elements of history set the stage for the Council of Chalcedon as the climax of controversies in the early history of the Church. Thus, the Antiochene school of theology will play a major role in the Council of Chalcedon amidst the controversies and disputes along with the patriarchate of Alexandria.

Council of Chalcedon

By now, Dioscorus, the patriarch of Alexandria, had moved the theological realm to a “one-nature Cyrillian Christology along with Juvenal.”[21] Additionally, the aftermath of the Robber Synod left a “long shadow over the bishops and officials who gathered for the new synod,”[22] especially toward the Antiochene bishops. Thus, many clergy and members of the council entered with a specific overtone from Ephesus II. However, even though the Robber Synod was filled with disarray and confusion, the Council of Chalcedon attempted to bring about “moderation, reconciliation and consensus.”[23] The Council of Chalcedon tried to elicit “procedural fairness”[24] so that disguised zeal to preserve orthodoxy would not triumph at the expense of ecclesiastical destruction and dissension. With these conditions at hand, the theological discovery of a medium between Eutyches’ Monophysitism and Nestorianism was underway. The Council of Chalcedon began using a “compromise formula based on ek duo phuseon[25] trying to balance the various doctrinal positions. Thus, the Definition of Faith came about in its labyrinthine declarations trying to walk a “fine line between necessary clarification and impermissible innovation, facing the burden of proving that its own formulation was consistent with Nicaea and the fathers.”[26] Ergo, in the 4th session, the Council of Chalcedon granted approval to the Tome of Leo and produced a unique definition “in spite of considerable Eastern reluctance at accepting the key phrase, ‘In two natures,’ was finally included.”[27] However, this decree carried many implications for the next few decades that would pave the way for more division and persecution amongst the Syriac churches of the East.

In the subsequent years following the Council of Chalcedon, factions began forming between those who supported either Dioscorus or Cyril in opposition to the miaphysite Christology. Syria was divided “between supporters and opponents of the council.”[28] These divisions trickled into the monastic and patriarchal spheres affecting clergy and laity alike. Even emperors were divided, some siding with Chalcedon and some with the miaphysite position. In 482, Zeno’s Henotikon attempted to reach a “common ground by declaring that Christ is ‘one and not two’ while avoiding any discussion of ‘natures’ and neither endorsing nor condemning Chalcedon,”[29] however this did not prove successful but rather led to more alienation. About 40 years later in 527, Emperor Justinian rose to power with a mission to reinstate Chalcedonian orthodoxy. This mission was met with much resistance and persecution – even martyrdom – by the miaphysite churches who remained unrelenting toward their Christological doctrinal positions. After being driven out of their churches and institutions, the miaphysite churches would unexpectedly develop a strong Syriac monastic tradition in the later 7th and 8th centuries – i.e., Simon the Stylite. Finally, in Syria, the miaphysite church would eventually be known as “Jacobite”[30] because of the traveling bishop, Jacob of Baradaeus, who ordained “twenty-seven bishops and hundreds of priests and deacons”[31] to which the hierarchy of the Syriac Orthodox Church is immensely grateful. On the Chalcedonian side, the Syriac Melkite (imperial/kingly) church remined in communion with the judicial state of power contrary to their counterparts (miaphysites).[32] In conclusion, despite the efforts for unity, we can see how the theological implications of the Council of Chalcedon affected the Syriac churches of the East leading to persecution and dissension amongst themselves and the state. The chart below describes how the Syriac church divided into various factions based on conciliar doctrinal positions.[33]



Thus, one can see how the Syriac churches are divided primarily based on Chalcedonian doctrinal disagreement. For example, the Maronites celebrate a feast in their liturgical calendar called the 350 Martyrs in which these men and women martyrs died for their faith defending the Council of Chalcedon. Whereas the Syriac Orthodox (Jacobites) indeed did the opposite. The question one might ask is what motivated these Christian factions to fight so adamantly against each other in defending their proposed “truth?” Moreover, what are the sources of their Christological doctrinal positions that are so juxtaposed to one another? However, maybe they are not as different as we might think? Next, I will look at the patristic sources that reinforces these Christian Syriac church’s doctrinal positions.

Antiochene and Alexandrian Christology

The Antiochene school of theology being one of the intellectual powerhouses of the east had numerous prominent figures including Theodore of Mopsuestia, Theodoret of Cyrrhus, and Nestorius. Attempting to maintain a high Christology rooted in Christ’s divinity while keeping the “freedom of his manhood,”[34] the Antiochene school eventually developed into a dualistic theology between the “Godhead and manhood.”[35] Moreover, this theology led to the understanding that in Christ were two elements his humanity and divinity carrying a distinctive reality that was “conjoined…”[36] somehow. In the Antiochene school, Christ became a dualistic being where he would act in his humanity and act separately in his divinity as if they were two persons. Eventually, this theology would lead into various problems including soteriological and ontological difficulties to sort out in Christ’s humanity and divinity. Now, in the Alexandrian school of theology, Cyril of Alexandria, drawing upon Athanasius developed a biblical and theological outlook towards Christ natures and being. Cyril focused on the unity in Christ as “one hypostasis.” This was important because it maintained the divine person of Christ consistently throughout the discussion of nature and relationships between the Godhead and humanity. This unity of Christ had major ontological implications in that Christ’s natures were not two different entities but rather “distinct but not separate in reality”[37] which differed from the Antiochene school of theology. However, both schools can agree that “Christ is both God and man,” but the debate over terminology proved to be very toxic and misunderstood. With all this being said, the conflicting theological approaches from Antioch and Alexandria arose from differing understandings of the Incarnation rooted in their sources of theology not just etymological inconsistencies.

The Antiochene school carried a “Christology from below” whereas the Alexandrian school held a “Christology from above.”[38] This was rooted in how each school of theology saw the Incarnation specifically John 1:14. An adequate understanding of the Incarnation is immensely important because it creates the framework from which one can understand the operations of Christ’s nature and God’s divinity. Whether the Christology is a high descending approach or a low ascending approach, Christ’s Incarnation remains a pivotal point in seeing the theological reality of the Divine Logos taking flesh. The Antiochene school heavily drew from Theodore of Mopsuestia whereas the Alexandrian school drew from Cyril of Alexandria. Both theologians were well known in their communities, and both drew from the patristic fathers before them in their region. However, their approaches to Christ’s Incarnation does indeed differ in a way that can lead to various implications which affect the school of theology. Below are two excerpts from Theodore of Mopsuestia and Cyril of Alexandria commenting on John 12:32: “I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.”[39]

[Theodore] He says: ‘I do not trust in my own strength, but through the nature which indwells in me I hope to conquer Satan … God the Word made me his own once and for all time when he assumed me; and it is clear that he will not leave me to act at random. When therefore the God of all hears our judgement and sees that Satan has inflicted death on me unjustly and undeservedly, abusing his tyranny against me, he will order me to be freed from the bonds of death, with the result that I shall then have confidence to pray to God for all the children of my race, so that those who share with me in the same nature may also participate in the resurrection.’

[Cyril] Christ alone, as God, was able to procure all good things for us … Christ draws [human beings] to himself and does not, like the disciples, lead them to another. Here he shows himself to be God by nature, in that he does not make a distinction between himself and the Father; for it is through the Son that one is drawn to the knowledge of the Father.[40]

Thus, here we can see how Theodore views Christ’s human reality in relation to that of his divinity. In Christ’s human consciousness, Christ “recognizes the dignity he has received of being united to the eternal Son.”[41] This is important because of the juxtaposition with the Alexandrian tradition that sees Christ’s divinity through the operation of a human being[42] – the Word made flesh. In Theodore’s commentary, we see Christ addressing the Son “in the second person or third as a distinct personal subject”[43] whereas Cyril focuses on the indwelling of Christ in a human body. Cyril is drawing from the writings of Athanasius where the focus lies primary on the divine mind of the Godhead operating in the human body of Christ,[44] thus the divine mind and the human mind are distinct but not separated. However, Theodore’s writing present Christ as speaking to God in the 2nd/3rd person which elicits a duality within Christ. In the Antiochene school of theology, this is understood as Christ being “one Son, in whom the humanity is so lifted up as to share in the relationship enjoyed by the eternal Son with his heavenly Father.”[45] Ergo, Christ’s internal composition is made up of two entities, and so he is “one in his relationships both with the Father and with the human race.”[46] This brings about a problematic dualistic theology indicating that within Christ, there are two persons or realities: his manhood and the Godhead. This ideology began to affect ritual worship in the early Christian Church in that Christians adored “Christ’s Godhead while venerating his manhood.”[47] To this reason, we can see how Nestorius picked up on the theological position of Christokos vs Theotokos in efforts to avoid possible idolatry of the proposed “human reality” within Christ.

On the other hand, Cyril explained Christ’s humanity in relation to Philippians 2:6-7 as kenosis[48] where Christ “put on the measure of ignorant humanity, in his condescension he appropriates this together with the rest.”[49] Ultimately, this appropriation is understood by Cyril as Christ in the “appearance”[50] of human nature shining forth God’s glory to the world. Therefore, both theologians influenced their respective schools of theology regarding Christ’s personhood in relation to the Godhead. Theodore and Cyril’s commentaries on the Gospel of John became the sources for theological understanding of Christ demonstrating their Christological approaches to the unity of Christ. However, the implications that follow thereafter presented difficulties in reaching an accord amongst the various churches of the east and the west which I will look at next.

Christological Chalcedonian Implications

The Chalcedonian “Definition of Faith” became one of the most important theological outlooks to resolve controversies between the Antiochene and Alexandrian schools. The Definition seemed to focus on the duality of the Antiochene theological approach but rather remained grounded in unity of Christ, “distinct but united.”[51] This was the model for the oneness in Christ in two natures. The phrase “to two natures” was revised at the very last moment to “satisfy the emperor and the Roman delegates, who insisted on a formal affirmation of a continuing duality in Christ after the union.”[52] In doing so, the dyophysite theology developed from the Council of Chalcedon which was acceptable by the Antiochene church that had also at this time rejected the teachings of Nestorius. Thus, the two distinct natures come together in one person; the idea of coming together indicates a mental picture of two sets of characteristics[53] that are joined in the single subject of Christ. By doing so, a dualist ideology of two subjects in two distinct natures would not work because the oneness of Christ. And so, this one hypostasis merited the final decision in the Definition from the Council which echoed the “Formula of Reunion” coming from the Antiochene school of theology. Accompanied with the “condemnation of Dioscorus and the reinstatement of Theodoret (and his controversial ally Ibas),” the Cyrillian interpretation had been neglected bringing about even more opposition than agreement. Thus, ultimately, this quasi-dyophysite formulation from the Definition of the Council worried the Oriental Orthodox and miaphysite churches causing more division and so instead of clarifying its terms, history demonstrated that the “Chalcedonian Definition had opened a Pandora’s box.”[54] Now with Pandora’s box opened to a range of possibilities from the implications of the Council of Chalcedon, I will look at the effects this has had on the Assyrian Syriac Church of the East misidentified as the Nestorian Church. I am looking at the Assyrian Syriac Church as a paradigm of the Chalcedonian implications on the other Syriac churches as the scope of this paper will not allow me to analyze all of them. Also, it should be noted that this kind of research is fairly new so my treatment of it in this paper will not be exhaustive in nature.

Chalcedon in the Assyrian Church of the East

Many years ago, Sebastian Brock embarked on a mission to research the linguistical and technical implications of the Council of Chalcedon on various Syriac churches of the East. It seemed that the Latin West and the Greek East had reach a medium in terms of faith through the Christological distinctions identified by the Definition Faith which left the Syriac churches on “one side of the theological spectrum”[55] – the Nestorians and the Monophysites. Granted both hold heretical teachings stemming from their rejection of the Council of Ephesus I and the Council of Chalcedon respectively, however the situation in the Assyrian Church of the East (Nestorian Church) is more convoluted than one might think especially when it comes to Christological doctrinal terms. As exemplified in previous sections, the Council of Chalcedon found a medium between the Antiochene and Alexandrian Christological controversies but “from an Eastern Mediterranean perspective, Chalcedon was certainly not experienced at putting an end to controversy: rather, it was the cause of much further controversy which continued on till the seventh century.”[56] To understand why Chalcedon’s implication did not suffice for the Syriac churches, we will look at the issues with terminology, linguistics, and meaning. The chart below will help to clarify key terms:

Syriac and Greek Christological Chalcedonian Terminology

The technical terms used between the Greek East and Latin West carry a different significance in the Syriac language. As the chart above exemplifies, the Syriac Church found itself in a crunch when the word hypostasis was introduced because the Syriac word for person is qnoma which carries a different meaning/emphasis. Isoyahb II, the patriarch of the Church of the East at the time, writes this describing his experience at the Council and the terminology introduced:

Although, in accordance with the opinion of their own minds, they preserved the true faith with the confession of the two natures, yet by their formula of one qnoma (-hypostatis), it seems, they tempted weak minds. On what side we should number them i do not know, for their terminology cannot stand up, as Nature and Scripture testify: for in these, many qnome can be found a single “nature,” but that there should be various ‘natures’ in a single qnoma has never been the case and has not been hear of.[58]

Brock explains that by this time, the Church of the East had adopted a “two nature and two qnome but one prosopon, in the incarnate Christ”[59] therefore the Chalcedonian definition was strange to the Syriac churches because the word qnoma related more directly to the Greek physis. Thus, equating qnoma to hypostasis was foreign to any Syriac speaking clergy especially those present at the Council because the Church of the East used kyana (physis) for nature as related to essence or ousia.[60] Additionally, qnoma was typically used “in connection with ‘nature’ thus “the two natures and their qnomas where qnoma means something like ‘individual manifestation.’”[61] This is immensely important because the Assyrian Church of the East understood qnoma as a descriptive quality of a kyana (nature) – not as a separate entity. Qnoma was used to describe the “individual manifestation of a self-existent instance of a kyana.”[62] Therefore, qnome and hypostasis do not mean the same thing in the Church of the East because qnome is not a self-existent entity in and of itself, and so the Church of the East posits that there are two qnome (individual manifestations) in the one incarnate Christ.[63] Brock explains that the medieval European translators added a whole other level of complexity by “rendering qnoma as ‘person’, as if the underlying term was parsopa thus implying that the Church of the East believed that there were two persons in Christ, in other words the classic definition of ‘Nestorianism’.”[64] However, when one takes a closer look at the writings of the Church of the East, Nestorius is not a majorly influential figure – it was actually Theodore of Mopsuestia. Theodore’s Christology and biblical exegesis greatly influenced the Church of the East.[65] Theodore’s Antiochene Christology carried a more balanced approach to the personhood of Christ than that of Nestorius who went to the extreme. Nestorius was known in the Church of the East as a martyr during the Christological debates but not much more is elaborated upon; even Narsai did not have much to say about Nestorius except his exile and persecution.[66] One way to demonstrate this phenomenon of Theodore’s influence and Nestorius’ lack thereof is to look at the Church of the East’s liturgical tradition depicted below:

[Christ] having lowered himself to humility in order to raise up our fallen state to the exalted rank of his divinity, and in the person of the ‘hostage’ (someone who is given as a surety) he took from us (i.e., his humanity), he associated us in the glory of his majesty.”[67]

Finally, the liturgical texts demonstrate the influence of Theodore’s theology through biblical exegesis as a source used in the Church of the East. A similar theme of a “Christology from below” indicated in the quote above demonstrates the action of Christ’s Incarnation coming upon humanity and thus exemplifying our fallen human nature. However, the extreme duality of Nestorianism is not found in the Syriac liturgical texts of the Church of the East thus it is a misnomer to call them a Nestorian Church and if anything, they should be called “Theodoran.”[68] Ergo, the Christological controversies of this proposed immensely dualistic (Nestorian) Church does not remain consistent with the Church of the East’s linguistical and doctrinal use of qnoma and kyana nor does their association with Nestorius follow through. This carries major implications toward the future as the Christian Churches dialogue with one another in efforts to follow Our Lord’s call that “they may be one.”[69] Finally, I will offer some conclusions and ecumenical suggestions for dialogue and solidarity.

Conclusions and Ecumenism

In this paper, I have attempted to tackle the Chalcedonian implications of 451 in the Syriac perspective using Antioch as a center for theology and tradition including its theologians. Moreover, the Antiochene and Alexandrian Christologies proved immensely important when trying to understand the problems and issues at the councils leading up to and including Chalcedon. The Councils of Ephesus I and II (Robber Synod) set the stage for major theological and doctrinal conflicts approaching 451 which remained mysterious to this day. Additionally, the varying styles of theology in regard to Christ’s Incarnation from above or below created the framework of interpretation for Theodore of Mopsuestia and Cyril of Alexandria. Both schools of theology proved to carry their weight at the councils as crucial players during these important years of ecclesiastical history. When it came to the Syriac churches and the councils, we can see that problems arose linguistically when trying to understand Christ’s nature and essence because certain Syriac words carry different emphases and/or meanings. Ergo, problems arose at the councils and thereafter when certain Syriac churches needed to commit to the Definition of Faith. Thus, divisions occurred which would ripple effect for centuries forward. Even though the Church of the East carries a dyophysite Christology rooted in Theodore of Mopsuestia, Nestorian became the unqualified name of this church sending it into more isolation when all along, they do not actually believe in the extreme duality of Nestorius. Recent ecumenical discussions have “marginalized”[70] the Assyrian Church of the East and major emphasis has been solely placed on the Oriental Orthodox Church without much inclusion of the non-Chalcedonian churches. Going forward ecumenical discussion should be focused on the Christian Church’s traditions and sources of theology rather than using the Council of Chalcedon as the sole starting point.[71] Moreover, ecumenical discussion should be focused on finding commonalities (key theological terms in the way the church understands them[72]) rather than one party imposing their linguistics on another. Finally, the Chalcedonian implications of 451 carry a beautiful movement towards unity but also a poignant history of division as the Church attempts to understand more and more what is inside the Pandora box which is the person of Jesus Christ.


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[1] Ronald Roberson, Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch, 1. Par. 7.

[2] An excerpt from “The Priests,” a mimro by Jacob of Serugh, Chris Nahra Translator, MS: Mingana Syr. 546, f. 220v-221r.

[3] Stephen Mitchell, A History of the Later Roman Empire, 35.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Richard Price and Michael Gaddis, “The Acts of the Council of Chalcedon,” 13.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid, 18.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Patrick Gray, “Leontius of Jerusalem Against the Monophysites: Testimonies of the Saints and Aporiae,” 6.

[15] Richard Price and Michael Gaddis, “The Acts of the Council of Chalcedon,” 19.

[16] Patrick Gray, “Leontius of Jerusalem Against the Monophysites: Testimonies of the Saints and Aporiae,” 7.

[17] Richard Price and Michael Gaddis, “The Acts of the Council of Chalcedon,” 23.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Second Council of Ephesus, New World Encyclopedia, https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Second_Council_of_Ephesus.

[20] Ronald Roberson, Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch, 1. Par. 7.

[21] Richard Price and Michael Gaddis, “The Acts of the Council of Chalcedon,” 37.

[22] Ibid, 40.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Ibid, 47.

[27] Hardy, Richardson, Christology of the Later Fathers, 371.

[28] Richard Price and Michael Gaddis, “The Acts of the Council of Chalcedon,” 52.

[29] Ibid, 53.

[30] Ibid.

[31] Ronald Roberson, Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch, 1. Par. 8.

[32] Richard Price and Michael Gaddis, “The Acts of the Council of Chalcedon,” 54.

[33] Chart taken from http://syri.ac/brock/chalcedon. Describes the divisions and factions in the Syriac churches of the east through the research of Sebastian Brock.

[34] Richard Price and Michael Gaddis, “The Acts of the Council of Chalcedon,” 60.

[35] Ibid.

[36] Ibid.

[37] Ibid.

[38] Ibid, 61.

[39] Comparing the parallel commentaries is taken from Richard Price and Michael Gaddis, “The Acts of the Council of Chalcedon,” 61.

[40] Price and Gaddis take the excerpts from the respective patristic commentaries: Theodore of Mopsuestia, Commentario al Vangelo di Giovanni, 209–10. 215; Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on the Gospel of John, PG 74. 96 AB.

[41] Richard Price and Michael Gaddis, “The Acts of the Council of Chalcedon,” 61.

[42] Ibid.

[43] Ibid.

[44] Ibid.

[45] Ibid, 62.

[46] Ibid.

[47] Ibid.

[48] Ibid.

[49] Ibid.

[50] Ibid.

[51] Ibid, 69.

[52] Ibid.

[53] Ibid.

[54] Ibid, 75.

[55] Sebastian Brock, “The ‘Nestorian’ Church: A Lamentable Misnomer,” 23.

[56] Ibid, 24.

[57] Qnoma has a different sense than hypostasis which I will elaborate on in this paper. Thus, hypostasis does not have a differently translated Syriac word.

[58] Sebastian Brock, “The ‘Nestorian’ Church: A Lamentable Misnomer,” drawing from: L.R.M. Sako, Lettre christologique du patriarche syro-orienlal lio’yahb II de Gdala (Rome, 1983), 42 (Syr.), 146-7 (trans.).

[59] Sebastian Brock, “The ‘Nestorian’ Church: A Lamentable Misnomer,” 25.

[60] Ibid.

[61] Ibid.

[62] Ibid.

[63] Ibid.

[64] Ibid, 28.

[65] Ibid.

[66] Ibid.

[67] Ibid, 31. Brock draws from his own writings: Christ”The Hostage.” Festschrift fur Luise Abramowski, eds H.C. Brennecke, E.L. Grasmuck, C. Markschies (Beihefte zur Zeitschriftfur die neutestamentiche Wissenschaft 67, 1993), 472-85.

[68] Sebastian Brock coins the term and others have used it as well.

[69] John 17:21.

[70] Ibid.

[71] This point is also suggested by Sebastian Brock a little differently but stressing the same idea nonetheless.

[72] Ibid.

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