I found a paper yesterday titled "THE NATURE OF CHRIST", said to be by Pope Shenouda III.

Now I've learned that wikipedia is a terrible resource for church history, and I've also heard of the Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church, so I know to be careful on the Internets.

So, the paper I noted (above) contains this text:

D) The Heresy of Eutyches (Eutychianism):
Eutyches was an archimandrite of a monastery in Constantinople. He zealously
opposed the Nestorian heresy and was so highly concerned about the unity of the two
natures in Christ, which Nestorus tore apart, that he fell into another heresy.
Eutyches said that the human nature was absorbed and dissolved in the Divine nature
as a drop of vinegar in the ocean. In this way, he denied the human nature of Christ.
After St. Dioscorus had excommunicated him, Eutyches pretended that he repented and
accepted the true faith and St. Dioscorus allowed him to return on the condition that he
would refute his heresy. Later on however, he again declared his corrupt belief and was
condemned by the Council of Chalcedon held in 451 A.D., and was also
excommunicated by the Coptic Church.

Is it true that Eutyches was ultimately excommunicated? I hadn't heard that he was ever excommunicated by Dioscorus. What is a good source for this information? 



  • No St Dioscorus did not excommunicate Eutyches. This was done by 2 councils in Ephesus in 448 AD by Flavian. He was exonerated by Dioscorus in Ephesus II in 449 AD. Chalcedon condemned him 451AD based exclusively on the 448 AD council by Flavian. It cared more to excommunicate Dioscorus than Eutyches. Eutyches recanted his Orthodox confession that exonerated him in 449 AD by Dioscorus after Chalcedon (as described by Patriarch Severus of Antioch). I'm not sure which council after Chalcedon excommunicated Eutyches. I'll have to get back to you on that. The source of the information (which is a little biased) is Gaddis' Acts of the Council of Chalcedon.  

    The Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church is not Coptic. You'll have to hear the whole story from Bishop Antonios Morcos directly. But you're right stuff on Wikipedia can be inadequate. But no less than other sources, including Pope Shenouda's Nature of Christ (which one should not take as a historical account but a theological account). 
  • edited July 2014
    I would appreciate if you could find that out for me. Thanks. :)
  • It seemed to be soon afterwards, about a decade after Chalcedon where some anti-Chalcedonians were writing against Eutyches and "his followers".  St. Timothy II (known as Aelurus) lead a quick ecumenical council in Ephesus in 475 AD (dubbed Ephesus III) that officially condemned Eutyches.  He also wrote anathemas and refutations against "Eutychian" clergy in Egypt, particularly Bishop Isaiah and Presbyter Theophilus.

    In Ephesus III, a couple of things happened.  First it was estimated that there was between 500 and 700 bishops there.  They condemned Chalcedon and the Tome of Leo, and confirmed Nicea, Constantinople, Ephesus I, and Ephesus II.  They also condemned Eutyches, and praised Dioscorus along with the church fathers Cyril, Theophilus, Athanasius, Alexander, Peter Ieromartyros, Gregory Nazienzen, Basil the Great, and Gregory of Nyssa.  St. Timothy was able to get the body of St. Dioscorus back to Alexandria after this council.

    There seems to be no record of minutes or conclusive statements from the council, but only second-hand report from ancient historians like Bishop Zacharias of Mytilene.  It seems there was also an adoption of a canon by St. Timothy II on how to receive Chalcedonians into the Church, which was by a confession of faith, and a condemnation of the council of Chalcedon and the Tome.  No baptism or chrismation was necessary, and if the person was a clergy, he would be not be reordained, but continue in that particular honor of the clergy as a non-Chalcedonian.  It's not completely clear whether this canon, among other purported canons, was at the council or outside the council, but this canon was adopted by St. Severus of Antioch as the norm, and used by Syrians, Indians, and Armenians as the norm to receive EOs and RCs, under the umbrella term "Chalcedonian".  St. Severus also continued to condemn Eutychianism, and went on to become a phenomenal theologian into attacking Eutychians "of all sorts", such as Sergius the Grammarian and Julian of Halicarnassus (who though believed in the reality of the flesh claimed to say the flesh was inherently incorruptible, destroying any really consubstantiality of the flesh with humanity).
  • I am so glad Minasoliman is so knowledgable about these things, both historically and theologically. God bless your service Mina. I'm always learning something from you.
  • Thank you for your kinds words.  I have to thank many scholars who have made writings available in English and most importantly Fr. Peter Farrington of the British Orthodox Church, who wrote many great articles in elucidating the history and theology of these issues.  I am continually learning more about this the more of these writings are available for us.
  • Also, one can take into account that even St. Diosocrus got wind of the fact that he was accused of Eutychianism.  So he shared some letters while he was in exile in Gangra:

    And one purported to be a letter to Secundinus cited by Bishop Zacharias of Mytilene (I wonder if he's a saint):

    Omitting many urgent matters, this I declare, that no man shall say that the holy flesh, which our Lord took from the Virgin Mary, by the operation of the Holy Spirit, in a manner which He Himself knows, was different to and foreign from our body. And, indeed, since this is so, they who affirm that Christ did not become incarnate for us, give the lie to Paul. For he has said, 'Not from angels did He take (the nature), but from the seed of the House of Abraham' ; to which seed Mary was no stranger, as the Scriptures teach us. And again,' It was right that in everything He should be made like unto His brethren,' and that word 'in everything' does not suffer the subtraction of any part of our nature : since in nerves, and hair, and bones, and veins, and belly, and heart, and kidneys, and liver, and lungs, and, in short, in all those things that belong to our nature, the flesh which was born from Mary was compacted with the soul of our Redeemer, that reasonable and intelligent soul, without the seed of man, and the gratification and cohabitation of sleep.

    For if, as the heretics think, this was not so, how is He named 'our brother,' supposing that He used a body different from ours ? And how, again, is that true which He said to His Father, 'I will declare Thy name to My brethren ?' Let us not reject, neither let us despise, those who think in this way. For He was like us, for us, and with us, not in phantasy, nor in mere semblance, according to the heresy of the Manichaeans, but rather in actual reality from Mary, the Theotokos. To comfort the desolate and to repair the vessel that had been broken, He came to us new. And as Immanuel, indeed, He is confessed ; for He became poor for us, according to the saying of Paul, 'that we, by His humiliation, might be made rich.' He became, by the dispensation, like us ; that we, by His tender mercy, might be like Him. He became man, and yet He did not destroy that which is His nature, that He is Son of God ; that we, by grace, might become the sons of God. This I think and believe; and, if any man does not think thus, he is a stranger to the faith of the apostles.

    This sounds like there was an implicit condemnation of Eutyches straight from St. Dioscorus himself in this letter.  This also explains what he said in Chalcedon, "if Eutyches holds opinions opposed to the Fathers, not only do I want him condemned, but wish hellfire for him. But my concern is not for any man whatsoever, but for the Orthodox faith."  So even early on, we can see that from St. Dioscorus himself, continued with St. Timothy II, his successor, we have a condemnation of Eutyches and Eutychianism.
  • Btw, I should point out Rem, the real scholar is you :)

    You know how to read Coptic.  You have a major benefit that I wish I could have, especially when it comes to Coptic translations of theological works of the fathers
  • First of all, I have yet to see a Coptic translation of any theological work. If you know of any, please guide the way. The vast majority of Coptic works are liturgical and hagiographic. The majority of works are in Greek and secondarily in French, Greek, German and English. I am trying to learn Greek from Ramez. (That is a real scholar).

    Second, even if there are Coptic theological works, I am not fluent enough to read them. I am not like other Coptic scholars who know Coptic and theology well, like Fr Shenouda Maher. 

    Third, thank you for your kind words. But I am really not a scholar, just a thinker who can barely find resources. (Again, Ramez takes the crown on resources)

    Finally, Coptic is not hard to learn. You can learn Coptic in the time it takes you to write one of your many theological and historical posts.
  • Thank you both very much. 

    The reason I ask is I was reading an article I found online, Eutyches and the Oriental Orthodox tradition, which I was very impressed with, although I got the sense from the author (which perhaps is what made me find his argument so persuasive) that he maybe wasn't 100% convinced of Eutyches guilt. Which of course caused me to wonder what Patriarch Dioscorus' motive, and so on. I should note that the author also addresses this issue very well:

    ".... Indeed turning to the writings of St Severus we find the same rejection of this false 
    Christology under the name of Eutyches.
    In one of his letters he addresses the issue of how Eutyches had come to be received 
    at Ephesus II if he actually held an heretical Christology? On the one hand he explains that 
    the council had only been interested in dealing with those who held the teachings of 
    Nestorius, and taught nothing new with regard to the faith. On the other hand, with the 
    information before them, both the minutes of Constantinople and the petition of Eutyches, 
    there was nothing which was contrary to the faith, even if heresy was hidden in his heart. In 
    another letter he suggests that perhaps Eutyches had „returned to his vomit‟. In some of his 
    other writings St Severus compares Julian of Halicarnassus, who taught that the humanity of 
    Christ was glorified from the moment of the incarnation with Eutyches because he 
    diminished the reality of the humanity of Christ."

    It's actually a really good work but you both probably have already read it. :)
  • Dear Community,

    I joined this group in the hope to find where (and if at all) Timothy Alerurs allegedly condemned Cyril of Alexandra's agreement with dyo-physitism in 433.  If anyone has a link to comments on this, please forward to me.  

    Thank you,
  • The quote that alleges St. Timothy II to condemn the agreement of 433 is from an EO source.  I have not come across any OO sources that have this quote.  It seems more likely a forgery and a smear campaign against the fathers.

    One has to wonder though that even if he did make such a statement, there is still inherently nothing heretical about criticizing one piece of writing among the hundreds which he praised St. Cyril in.  And there is generally nothing heretical in St. Timothy's writings either.  It's simply a rehash of St. Cyril's "one nature" theology.  He confesses Christ's full and consubstantial humanity and even condemns Eutyches and some notable Eutychians by name.
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