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Chapter IX.—Dispute between Theophilus and Peter leading to an Attempt on the Part of the Former to depose John Bishop of Constantinople.

Not long after this, the monks of the desert, together with Dioscorus and his brothers, came to Constantinople. There was also with them Isidore,858858    For an account of Theophilus’ outrageous treatment of Isidore, see Palladius, Vita S. Joannis Chrysost. chap. 6. formerly the most intimate friend of the bishop Theophilus, but then become his bitterest enemy, on account of the following circumstance: A certain man named Peter was at that time the archpresbyter859859    See Bingham, Christ. Antiq. II. 19–18, for a statement of the functions of this office. of the Alexandrian church; Theophilus being irritated against this person, determined to eject him from the church; and as the ground of expulsion, he brought the charge against him of having admitted to a participation of the sacred mysteries, a woman of the Manichæan sect, without first compelling her to renounce her Manichæan heresy. As Peter in his defence declared, that not only had the errors of this woman been previously abjured, but that Theophilus himself had sanctioned her admission to the eucharist, Theophilus became indignant, as if he had been grievously calumniated; whereupon he affirmed that he was altogether 145unacquainted with the circumstance. Peter therefore summoned Isidore to bear witness to the bishop’s knowledge of the facts concerning the woman. Now Isidore happened to be then at Rome, on a mission from Theophilus to Damasus the prelate of the imperial city, for the purpose of affecting a reconciliation between him and Flavian bishop of Antioch; for the adherents of Meletius had separated from Flavian in detestation of his perjury, as we have already observed.860860    See above, V. 15. When Isidore had returned from Rome, and was cited as a witness by Peter, he deposed that the woman was received by consent of the bishop; and that he himself had administered the sacrament to her. Upon this Theophilus became enraged and in anger ejected them both. This furnished the reason for Isidore’s going to Constantinople with Dioscorus and his brethren, in order to submit to the cognizance of the emperor, and John the bishop, the injustice and violence with which Theophilus had treated them. John, on being informed of the facts, gave the men an honorable reception, and did not exclude them from communion at prayers, but postponed their communion of the sacred mysteries, until their affairs should be examined into. Whilst matters were in this posture, a false report was brought to Theophilus’ ears, that John had both admitted them to a participation of the mysteries, and was also ready to give them assistance; wherefore he resolved not only to be revenged on Isidore and Dioscorus, but also if possible to cast John out of his episcopal chair. With this design he wrote to all the bishops of the various cities, and concealing his real motive, ostensibly condemned therein the books of Origen merely: which Athanasius,861861    Cf. Athan. de Decr. Nic. 27. his predecessor, had used in confirmation of his own faith, frequently appealing to the testimony and authority of Origen’s writings, in his orations against the Arians.


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