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“John of Antioch - Letter to Cyril of Alexandria about Peace”

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Click here to read at earlychurchtexts.com in the original Greek (with dictionary lookup links). The English translation is by the Revd Andrew Maguire, the Early Church Texts webmaster. Please do not use this translation with acknowledgment.

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Relevant books
available at Amazon

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John McGuckin
Saint Cyril of Alexandria and The Christological Controversy

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Richard Price and Thomas Graumann
The Council of Ephesus 431

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Susan Wessel
Cyril of Alexandria and The Nestorian Controversy

From John to my lord Cyril, a fellow minister who is truly God-loving and holy, greetings in the Lord.

A little while ago a decree was issued by our most pious emperors that a synod of truly God-loving bishops should assemble at the metropolitan city of Ephesus to deal with ecclesiastical business and questions about the true faith. After we had reached the aforementioned city and then returned without mutual conversation (it is superfluous now, in a time of peace, to speak about the reasons for disagreement) the churches suffered, as we know, severe disagreement. It was of paramount important that all should consider how they could be united, with all disagreement set aside. Our most pious and Christ loving emperors had specifically decreed that the churches should be united and for this very purpose had sent my lord, the remarkable and much admired tribune and secretary Aristolaus. He brought a devout written communication from the emperors exhorting us now to proceed to meet together, to put obstacles to one side and to find a resolution to every cause of tumult and grief. Responding appropriately to this devout written communication without delay we immediately sent my master, who loves God in all things, the most holy bishop Paul. This was also pleasing to our most holy and devout father, bishop Acacius and to our fellow fellow God-loving bishops. We did this so as to act swiftly, because, in short, we were not able to meet together face to face to carry out what had been ordered by our most pious emperors. We have instructed him, in our place, on our behalf and in our name, to reach a formula for peace, which is the priority, and to place into the hands of your reverence our exposition concerning the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ which is in harmony with your understanding. We sent this to your reverence through the previously mentioned God-loving man. It is as follows:-

Concerning the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and what we think and say, and concerning the manner of the incarnation of the only-begotten Son of God, the essence of our faith, not by way of some addition, but in the form of certainty - what we have received and have held from the start both from the divine scriptures and from the tradition of the holy Fathers - we will state briefly, adding nothing at all to the faith of the holy Fathers as set out at Nicaea. We have said all along that this is sufficient for the knowledge of all piety, and for the rejection of all misguided heretical opinions. Our statement will not recklessly speak of what is unattainable, but through a confession of our own weakness we will exclude those who wish to intrude into areas where what we examine is beyond human understanding.

So we confess our Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, fully God and fully human through a soul endowed with reason and a physical body, begotten of the Father before the ages in respect of his divinity. begotten of the Virgin Mary in the last days in respect of his humanity for us and for our salvation. He is of the same substance as the Father in respect of his divinity, and of the same substance as us with respect to his humanity. For there was a uniting of two natures. Therefore we confess one Christ, one Son, one Lord. In accordance with this insight about the unconfused union we confess the holy Virgin as the Mother of God, because God the Word became flesh and became human. From the moment of his conception he united to himself the temple which was taken from her. With regard to the testimonies of the gospels and apostles concerning the Lord, we know that theologians consider some as shared by the natures, as there is one person, and consider others as distinct, as there are two natures. They ascribe those that are fitting for divinity to the divinity of Christ, and those that are lowly to his humanity.

With this faith accepted it has pleased us to consider Nestorius as deposed who was once bishop of Constantinople. This should lead to the end of all strife, to a decision being made for peace throughout the world for the holy churches of God, and to all stumbling blocks which have arisen being removed. We anathematize his inferior and profane empty talk. For the holy churches of God among us have adhered to the true and wholesome faith. They guard this and hand it on to the people, just as is the case with your holiness. We are in agreement with the consecration of the most holy and God-fearing Maximan as bishop of the holy Church of God in Constantinople. Furthermore we are in communion with all the God-fearing bishops throughout the entire world, all those who adhere to and proclaim the true and undefiled faith. Farewell, most God-loving and holy lord and continue in prayer for us. You are the most genuine brother of all to me.




 



 

 

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John of Antioch
Letter to Cyril of Alexandria about Peace
Controversy following Council of Ephesus 431

 

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