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Chapter VIII.—A Synod consisting of One Hundred and Fifty Bishops meets at Constantinople. The Decrees passed. Ordination of Nectarius.
The emperor making no delay
summoned a Synod703703
Cf. parallel account in Sozom. VII. 7–9;
Theodoret, H. E. V. 8. The Synod of Constantinople was the
second great œcumenical or general council. Its title as an
œcumenical council has not been disputed, although no Western
bishop attended. Baronius, however (Annal. 381, notes 19, 20),
attempts to prove, but unsuccessfully, that Pope Damasus summoned the
council. For a full account of the council, see Hefele, History of
the Councils, Vol. II. p. 340–374.
of the prelates of his own faith, in order that he might establish the
Nicene Creed, and appoint a bishop of Constantinople: and inasmuch as
he was not without hope that he might win the Macedonians over to his
own views, he invited those who presided over that sect to be present
also. There met therefore on this occasion of the Homoousian party,
Timothy from Alexandria, Cyril from Jerusalem, who at that time
recognized the doctrine of homoousion,704704
Sozomen adds that Cyril was previously a follower of
Macedonius, and had changed his mind at this time. Cf. Sozom. VII.
having retracted his former opinion; Melitius from Antioch, he having
arrived there previously to assist at the installation of Gregory;
Ascholius also from Thessalonica, and many others, amounting in all to
one hundred and fifty. Of the Macedonians, the leaders were Eleusius of
Cyzicus, and Marcian of Lampsacus; these with the rest, most of whom
came from the cities of the Hellespont, were thirty-six in number.
Accordingly they were assembled in the month of May, under the
of Eucharius and Evagrius, and the emperor used his utmost exertions,
in conjunction with the bishops who entertained similar sentiments to
his own, to bring over Eleusius and his adherents to his own side. They
were reminded of the deputation they had sent by Eustathius to
Cf. IV. 12.
then bishop of Rome; that they had of their own accord not long before
entered into promiscuous communion with the orthodox; and the
inconsistency and fickleness of their conduct was represented to them,
in now attempting to subvert the faith which they once acknowledged,
and professed agreement with the catholics in. But they paying little
heed alike to admonitions and reproofs, chose rather to maintain the
Arian dogma, than to assent to the ‘homoousian’ doctrine.
Having made this declaration, they departed from Constantinople;
moreover they wrote to their partisans in every city, and charged them
by no means to harmonize with the creed of the Nicene Synod. The
bishops of the other party remaining at Constantinople, entered into a
consultation about the ordination of a bishop; for Gregory, as we have
See above, chap. 7.
had resigned that see, and was preparing to return to Nazianzus. Now
there was a person named Nectarius, of a senatorial family, mild and
gentle in his manners, and admirable in his whole course of life,
although he at that time bore the office of proctor. This man was
seized upon by the people, and elected708708
See Bingham, Christ. Antiq. IV. 2. 8 for
other examples illustrating this method of electing bishops.
to the episcopate, and was ordained accordingly by one hundred and
fifty bishops then present. The same prelates moreover published a
Canon 3 of the Synod; see Hefele, History of the
Councils, Vol. II. p. 357. The canon is given by Socrates entire
and in the original words. Valesius holds that the primacy conferred by
this canon on the Constantinopolitan see was one of honor merely, and
involved no prerogatives of patriarchal or metropolitan jurisdiction.
For a full discussion of its significance, see Hefele, as above. The
Council of Chalcedon in 451 confirmed the above action in the following
words: ‘We following in all things the decision of the Holy
Fathers, and acknowledging the canon of the one hundred and fifty
bishops…do also determine and decree the same things respecting
the privileges of the most holy city of Constantinople, New Rome. For
the Fathers properly gave the primacy to the throne of the elder
Rome.’ Canon 28.
prescribing ‘that the bishop of Constantinople should have the
next prerogative of honor after the bishop of Rome, because that city
was New Rome.’ They also again confirmed the Nicene Creed. Then
too patriarchs were constituted, and the provinces distributed, so that
no bishop might exercise any jurisdiction over other churches710710
Canon 2. The words ‘patriarch,’ however,
and ‘patriarchate’ are not used in the canon. According to
Sophocles (Greek Lexicon) the modern sense of these words was
introduced at the close of the fourth century. Valesius holds that the
sixth canon of the Nicene Council had given sanction to the principle
of patriarchal authority; but Beveridge is of opinion that patriarchs
were first constituted by the second general council. Hefele takes
substantially the same position as Valesius. See discussion of the
subject in Hefele, Hist. of the Councils, Vol. I. p. 389
out of his own diocese: for this had been often indiscriminately done
before, in consequence of the persecutions. To Nectarius therefore was
allotted the great city and Thrace. Helladius, the successor of 122Basil in the bishopric of Cæsarea in
Cappadocia, obtained the patriarchate of the diocese of Pontus in
conjunction with Gregory Basil’s brother, bishop of Nyssa711711
Cf. IV. 27. On Gregory of Nyssa, one of the most
prominent of the ancient Fathers, see Smith & Wace, Dict. of
Christ. Biog.; Schaff, Hist. of the Christ. Church, Vol.
III. p. 903 et seq., and sources mentioned in the work.
in Cappadocia, and Otreïus bishop of Melitina in Armenia. To
Amphilochius of Iconium and Optimus of Antioch in Pisidia, was the
Asiatic diocese assigned. The superintendence of the churches
throughout Egypt was committed to Timothy of Alexandria. On Pelagius of
Laodicea, and Diodorus of Tarsus, devolved the administration of the
churches of the East; without infringement however on the prerogatives
of honor reserved to the Antiochian church, and conferred on Melitius
then present. They further decreed that as necessity required it, the
ecclesiastical affairs of each province should be managed by a Synod of
the province. These arrangements were confirmed by the emperor’s
approbation. Such was the result of this Synod.
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