« Helvidius, a Western writer Henoticon, The Heracles, patriarch of Alexandria »

Henoticon, The

Henoticon, The, or Instrument of Union, a document owing its existence to Acacius, the patriarch of Constantinople, and probably the production of his pen, put forth by the emperor Zeno, a.d. 482, on his restoration to the throne, after the discomfiture of the usurper Basiliscus, with the view of putting an end to the dissensions caused by what Gibbon calls "the obstinate and sanguinary zeal of the Monophysites." Like every endeavour, however well meant, to cover radical differences by a vague comprehensiveness, it not only failed to secure union but aggravated the divisions it was intended to cure, and created a schism which divided the East and West for nearly 40 years, lasting down to the reign of Justinian and the popedom of Hormisdas.

The immediate cause of its issue was the dissension between the rival occupants of the patriarchal see of Alexandria. On the death of Timotheus Salofaciolus in 482, John Talaia, the oeconomus of the Alexandrian church, was elected by the orthodox party. He at once, according to custom, dispatched synodical letters to the chief bishops of Christendom, to notify his election. Those addressed to Simplicius of Rome and Calandion of Antioch were duly received; but the letters for Acacius and Zeno were delayed, and Acacius heard of John's appointment from another quarter. Thinking the seeming neglect a studied insult, Acacius and Gennadius, bp. of Hermopolis Minor, a relation of Timotheus Salofaciolus, and "apocrisiarius" or legate of the see of Alexandria, who conceived that he too had been slighted by the new patriarch, determined to compass his overthrow. They represented to Zeno that Talaia was unworthy of the patriarchate, both as having replaced the name of Dioscorus on the diptychs, and as having perjured himself by accepting the see of Alexandria, after having, as was asserted, taken an oath that he would not seek for it. Zeno readily gave credence to these charges, and when it was further represented that, if he recognized Peter Mongus, the deposed patriarch, peace would be restored, he wrote to Simplicius, stating his grounds for hesitating to sanction the appointment of John, and urging the restoration of Peter Mongus to put an end to the distractions of the church. Simplicius replied, June 482, that he would delay recognizing John as patriarch until the grave charges brought by Zeno could be investigated; but he utterly refused to allow the elevation of a convicted heretic such as Peter Mongus to the patriarchal see. His return to the true faith might restore him to communion, but could not render him worthy to be a chief ruler of the church ( Liberat. Diac. Breviar. cc. 16, 17; Evagr. H. E. iii. 12). This opposition roused the indignation of Zeno, who issued imperative commands to Pergamius, the new prefect of Egypt, then about to sail for Alexandria, and to Apollonius the governor, to expel John Talaia and seat Peter Mongus in his place. Acacius persuaded Zeno to present himself to the world in the novel character of an expounder of the faith of the Catholic church. The "Henoticon" was drawn up, and as it did not directly mention the council of Chalcedon and a hypothetical allusion in it was capable of being construed in a depreciatory sense, it could be accepted by those who, like Mongus, had hitherto rejected that council's decrees. The friends of Mongus undertook that he would adopt it, and on this he was recognized by Zeno and Acacius as the canonical patriarch and his name inserted in the diptychs.

The "Henoticon" was directed to the bishops and people in Alexandria, Egypt, Libya, and Pentapolis; but, as Tillemont has remarked (Mém. eccl. xvi. 327), it was really addressed only to those who had separated themselves from the church, i.e. to the Monophysites or semi-Eutychians. The original document is given by Evagrius (H. E. iii. 14) and in a not very clear Latin translation by Liberatus (Breviar. c. 18; Labbe, Concil. v. 767). It commences by stating that "certain abbats, hermits, and other reverend persons had presented to the emperor a petition, supplicating him to restore the unity of the churches, and enlarging on the lamentable results of the late divisions." On this account, and knowing also that the strength and shield of the empire rested in the one true faith declared by the holy Fathers gathered at Nicaea, confirmed by those who met at Constantinople and followed by those who had condemned Nestorius at the council of Ephesus, the emperor declares that "the creed so made and confirmed is the one only symbol of faith, and that he has held, holds, and will hold no other, and will regard all who hold another as aliens, and that in this alone those who desire saving baptism must be baptized." All who hold other views he anathematizes, and recognizes the twelve chapters of Cyril as a symbolical book. The document then proceeds to declare the orthodox faith, viz. "that our Lord Jesus Christ is the only-begotten Son of God, and Himself God, incarnate, consubstantial with the Father according to His Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to His manhood, that He came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and that He is One Son, not two." That "it was this one and the same Son of God Who wrought miracles, and endured the sufferings which He underwent voluntarily in His flesh." Those "who divide or confound the natures, or admit only a phantastical incarnation," are to be rejected, "since the incarnation without sin of the Mother of God did not cause the addition of a Son, for the Trinity remained even when one Person of the Trinity, God the Word, became incarnate." It asserts that this is no new form of faith, 444and anathematizes all who have ever thought or do think, "anything to the contrary, either now or at any other time, either at Chalcedon or in any other synod," especially Nestorius and Eutyches and their followers. It closes with an earnest appeal to all to return to the church which, "as a loving mother, opens her longing arms to receive them."

Such was the document which was to "combine all the churches in one harmonious confederacy." It was "a work of some skill, of some adroitness, in attempting to reconcile, in eluding, evading difficulties; it is subtle to escape subtleties" (Milman, Hist. of Lat. Christ. bk. iii. c. i. vol. i. p. 248). The crucial test of the unity or duality of the natures of the Incarnate Word is left an open question, on which a difference of opinion might be lawfully permitted. Gibbon's verdict is by no means an unfair one, that "it accurately represents the Catholic faith of the incarnation without adopting or disclaiming the peculiar terms of the hostile sects" (vol. vi. p. 44, c. xlvii.). But its fatal error was its feebleness, and that it endeavoured to substitute for real unity of doctrine a fictitious cohesion of discordant elements. The Monophysites who subscribed were to be admitted into communion without being required to give up their distinctive doctrines; while their opponents were left free to maintain the authority of the decrees of Chalcedon and the tome of Leo. The resulting peace was naturally more apparent than real and satisfied no one. The Catholic party, zealous in their advocacy of the council of Chalcedon, had no liking for a document which disparaged its authority and suggested the possible erroneousness of its decisions. The Monophysites, on the other hand, clamoured for a more definite condemnation of a council which they regarded as heretical. The high Chalcedonian party, chiefly consisting of the monastic orders, condemned the "Henoticon" as tainted with Eutychianism, and, on the other hand, the Eutychians or Monophysites, indignant with Mongus for turning traitor to their cause, separated themselves, and, forming a distinct body without any chief leader and not holding communion with the patriarch, were designated "the headless sect," "Acephali." A third body of dissidents was formed by the high ecclesiastical party, who were offended at the presumption of the emperor in assuming a right to issue decrees on spiritual matters, "a right," writes Milman, (u.s. p. 235), "complacently admitted when ratifying or compulsorily enforcing ecclesiastical decrees, and usually adopted without scruple on other occasions by the party with which the court happened to side." A fourth party was that of the centre or moderates, who were weary of strife, or too loyal or too cowardly to resist the imperial power. This party of the centre was in communion with Peter Mongus, who had at once signed the "Henoticon," and had had it read in church at a public festival and openly commended it to the adoption of the faithful. Violence and falsehood characterized the conduct of Mongus. As soon as he felt himself safe in his seat, his overbearing temper knew no bounds. He removed from the diptychs the names of Proterius and Timotheus Salofaciolus, disinterring the remains of the latter and casting them out of the church; inserted the names of Dioscorus and Timotheus Aelurus; and anathematized the council of Chalcedon and the tome of Leo. When called to account by Acacius, he coolly denied the anathemas, and, professed his acceptance of the faith as declared at Chalcedon. He wrote to the same effect to Simplicius, expressing a desire to be received into communion by him (Evagr. H. E. iii. 17; Liberat. Breviar. c. 18). Such double-dealing estranged many of his own party, and the discussions of which the unhappy "instrument of union" was the parent were still further aggravated by the cruel persecution of the orthodox throughout the whole of Egypt by the new patriarch. In bold defiance of the prohibitions of the emperor, all, whether clerics, monks, or laymen, who refused to accept the "Henoticon" were subjected to expulsion and serious maltreatment. (Evagr. H. E. iii. 22). At this crisis Simplicius died, a.d. 483. The first act of his successor, Felix II., was an indignant rejection of the "Henoticon," as an insult to the council of Chalcedon, as an audacious act of the emperor Zeno, who dared to dictate articles of faith, and as a seed-plot of impiety (Theod. Lect. ap. Milman, u.s. p. 236). He also anathematized all bishops who had subscribed this edict. This anathema included nearly all the bishops of the East. A strong admonitory letter was addressed by Felix to Acacius, and another in milder terms to Zeno, the authors of the "Henoticon." All remonstrance proving vain, Felix fulminated an anathema against Acacius, deposing and excommunicating him, July 28, a.d. 484 (Liberat. c. 18; Labbe, Concil. iv. 1072). This anathema severed the whole of the Eastern church from the West for nearly 40 years. [ACACIUS.] Neither emperor nor patriarch took much heed of the condemnation of the Roman see, and continued to press the "Henoticon" everywhere, ejecting bishops who withheld their signatures and refused to communicate with Peter Mongus (Theoph. p. 114; Liberat. c. 18; Viet. Tunun.Chron.; Tillem. Mém. eccl. xvi. p. 168; Aece, Art. xcv.). Calandion, patriarch of Antioch, was deposed, and Peter the Fuller reinstated. Thus the three chief sees of the East were in constrained communion and nearly all the suffragan bishops had been silenced or deposed. Zeno and Acacius had "made a solitude and called it peace." It would be tedious to narrate in detail the subsequent issues of this unhappy attempt to force discordant elements into external union which continued under Acacius's successors and under the emperor Anastasius. Anastasius required toleration of the bishops who were forbidden to force the decrees of Chalcedon on a reluctant diocese or to compel one which had accepted that council to abandon it. Those who violated this law of toleration were deposed with impartial severity (Evagr. H. E. iii. 30). Euphemius was deposed from Constantinople a.d. 495. Macedonius, his successor, began by subscribing the "Henoticon," but overawed by the obstinate orthodoxy of the "Acoemetae" and other monastic bodies of Constantinople, whom he 445had undertaken to reconcile to that instrument, he became an ardent partisan of the council of Chalcedon, and, after having headed the religious tumults in the city which at one time threatened Anastasius's throne, was in his turn deposed and succeeded by Timotheus, a.d. 511. The new patriarch not only signed the "Henoticon," but pronounced an anathema on the council of Chalcedon. Flavianus, accused of being a concealed Nestorian, was ejected from Antioch in a.d. 512, where the Monophysite Severus, who had raised religious riots in the streets of Alexandria and Constantinople, reigned supreme. Elias of Jerusalem, though making large concessions to the Catholic party, refused to go all lengths with them, and was deposed in 513. "Throughout Asiatic Christendom it was the same wild struggle. Bishops deposed quietly, or, where resistance was made, the two factions fighting in the streets, in the churches. Cities, even the holiest places, ran with blood" (Milman, u.s. p. 245).

The "Henoticon," so fruitful a source of dissension in the East, became also the watchword of rival parties in the West. Gelasius, succeeding Anastasius II., sought to re-unite the churches by the proposal, couched in the very spirit of the "Henoticon," that Acacius's name should be quietly left on the diptychs. On his death in 498 a contested election ensued, exasperated by differences of opinion on the "Henoticon" and the schisms in the East. Two rival pontiffs were consecrated on Dec. 22, a.d. 499—Laurentius an advocate of union, and Symmachus its uncompromising opponent. Theodoric decided in favour of Symmachus, who had received the largest number of votes. This choice was fatal to the restoration of peace in the East on the terms of the "Henoticon." Pope and emperor hurled at one another charges of heresy and messages of defiance. The turbulent orthodox party at Constantinople was supported in its obstinate resistance to the emperor by the Roman see. The rebellion of Vitalian, characterized by Gibbon as "the first of the religious wars," whose battle-cry was the council of Chalcedon, was countenanced by Symmachus's still more haughty successor, Hormisdas, who reaped the fruits of the humiliation of the aged Anastasius and became "the dictator of the religion of the world." The demand of Hormisdas for the public anathematization of the authors and maintainers of the "Henoticon" was indignantly rejected by Anastasius. The conflict only ended with the life of Anastasius, who died worn out by strife at the age of nearly 90 years, a.d. 518. His successor, Justin, was an unlettered soldier of unbending orthodoxy. The new patriarch, John of Cappadocia, "a man of servile mind though unmeasured ambition," was prepared to adopt any course which would secure his power. He had seconded all the measures of Anastasius, but at the demand of the mob he now hastily assembled a synod of 40 bishops, which anathematized all upholders of the "Henoticon," recalled the banished bishops, and deposed the so-called usurpers. All heretics, i.e. those who refused the council of Chalcedon, were made incapable of civil or military office. Hormisdas profited by the favourable opportunity to press his demands, which were admitted without question. The names of the patriarchs Acacius, Fravitta, Euphemius, and Macedonius, together with those of the emperor Zeno and Anastasius, were erased from the diptychs, and Acacius was branded with a special anathema. Fresh disturbances were created when it was found that Hormisdas demanded the condemnation of all who had communicated with Acacius, and turned a deaf ear to the repeated applications of both emperor and patriarch for some relaxation of these terms (Evagr. H. E. iv. 4; Labbe, Concil. iv. 1542; Natal. Alexand. Hist. Eccl. t. ii. p. 448). Hormisdas at last consented that Epiphanius, John's successor, should act for him in receiving churches into communion. Some honoured names were allowed to remain on the diptychs, and eventually Euphemius, Macedonius, Flavian of Antioch, Elias of Jerusalem and some others who had died during the separation, were admitted to the Roman Calendars (Tillem. Mém. eccl. t. xvi. p. 697; Bolland. Apr. 25, p. 373).

Thus ended the unhappy schism. The "Henoticon," without being formally repealed, was allowed to sink into oblivion. The four oecumenical councils, including Chalcedon, were everywhere received, save m Egypt, and one common creed expressed the religious faith of the Christian world. Gibbon, Decline and Fall, c. xlvii.; Tillem. Mém. eccl. vol. xvi. "Acace"; Schröckh, Kirchengesch. vol. xviii.; Migne, Patr. t. lviii.; Evagr. H. E. libb. iii. iv.; Liberat. Breviar.; Walch, Ketzerhist. vol. vi.; Fleury, Hist. eccl. t. vi. vii.; Neander, Ch. Hist. vol. iv. pp. 253 ff. (Clarke's trans.); Dorner, Person, div. ii. vol. i. pp. 123 ff.; Milman, Hist. of Lat. Christ. vol. i. bk. iii. cc. i. iii.

[E.V.]

« Helvidius, a Western writer Henoticon, The Heracles, patriarch of Alexandria »





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