On Dioscorus of Alexandria

Leontius of Jerusalem ca. 485-543
 
‘But the council [of Chalcedon] is to be faulted on another score as well’, my friend says. ‘When it behaved adversely towards Dioscorus, it was opposed by him, he being Pope of Alexandria at the time, and a much opposed to Nestorian teachings. It wasn’t for no reason that it deposed this man from his throne, since it was angry at him solely for being an enemy of Nestorius, but some of the rhetorical mistatements and accusations of such speeches pro and contra are of a kind that would suit Tertullus, the man who spoke to Felix on behalf of the Jews against Paul.’
 
Such things are inventions aimed at suborning those not well-equipped to judge. The council sumoned Dioscorus as having received the thoughtless Eutyches after the latter’s deposition, and as having anathematized the holy Flavian (who justly deposed Eutyches), and it summoned him to appear for a examination of the allegations against him when he was detected making false excuses in many different ways for his delaying action against the summons. It was later, when he quite freely refused to appear, that they deposed him.
 
‘How is it, then,’ my friend says, ‘that the same council said it did not condemn Dioscorus on doctrinal grounds, but because he did not comply when he was summoned?’
 
Well, my friends, Dioscorus really was summoned on suspicion of harboring the evil doctrine of Eutyches, but when he wouldn’t comply and submit the case against himself to trial, he fell under another accusation, that of disobedience, and it’s in connection with the charge of disobedience and the particular penalty prescribed by the canons for it that he happened to be deposed – except he wasn’t released from the charge of heresy in this. If someone is charged with sacrilege, but avoids trial even though he’s urged [to submit to] trial for it, and then this man’s condemned on solid grounds for avoiding trial, he doesn’t deflect the first-order judgment for sacrilege on account of this lighter judgment. On the contrary, the accusation that emerged against him of contesting the proposed trial would strengthen the earlier suspicion contained in the information laid against him. If you say it wasn’t this realization that caused him to avoid trial, but the antipathy of the judges, what he needed to do was to give written, legal, and canonical proof of this antipathy in the form of reasoned refusal, not by running away from cross-examination! That completely undermines his defense against the accusation. Let anyone who feels pain for the man note the character of the assertions he made when he was present. That he received Eutyches is clear, but what excuse did he offer for incorrectly receiving a man who supposed that there was only one nature of Christ, a nature that is just divine and had nothing human about it? That’s what you, the followers of Dioscorus, need to come up with!
 
‘Certainly’, my friend says, ‘he received [Eutyches] when he repented for these things, and when he later held correct and true opinions.’
 
How does it happen that you – who are persuaded that, among those at the council, none of those ever suspected in any way of agreeing with Nestorius ever abandoned their superstition – now have become utterly convinced that this man (who isn’t just suspected of impiety, but even confessed his impiety in writing, and was deposed for it as being someone who didn’t abandon his error) learned piety instead? This though he didn’t confess that he abandoned his former error either in the presence of the council or of trustworthy witnesses, or in church, or in any written confession! Furthermore, even if it really is the case that [Dioscorus] received him as being someone who repented, it’s clear that the most religious Flavian deposed him when he earlier was impious about things of which he in the end repented to Dioscorus. How is it that Dioscorus, though he received the one who confessed his former error (a man justly deposed before his repentance), says he himself did exactly the same thing to Flavian that Flavian did to Eutyches, that is, justly deposed him? Either he received this man though he didn’t truly repent, or he himself unjustly counter-deposed the very Flavian who not unjustly deposed Eutyches!
 
‘But there certainly was a Nestorian prejudice to Flavian, the Bishop of Constantinople,’ my friend says, ‘and as a result everything that took place against Eutyches under him is suspect.’
 
Yet who that happened upon Flavian’s exposition of faith would agree with this, my friends? Here’s what he says:
 
‘We proclaim our Lord Jesus Christ, eternally begotten of God the Father before all ages vis-a-vis His divinity, but in latter days the same born of Mary vis-à-vis His humanity for us and for our salvation; perfect God, and the same perfect man by the acquisition of a soul and a body; consubstantial with the Father in respect of divinity, and the same consubstantial with His mother in respect of His humanity. For we confess the same Christ out of two natures after taking flesh from the Holy Virgin and becoming man, one Christ, one Son, one Lord in one hypostasis and in one person, and do not refuse to speak of one nature – incarnate, to be sure, and become man – of the Word of God, on account of our Lord Jesus Christ’s being one and the same out of both. But those who proclaim two sons, or two hypostases, or two persons, but not one and the same Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, we anathematize, and judge them to be strangers to the Church. We anathematize first of all the impious Nestorius, along with those who think or speak as he does. Such people will fall away from the adoption as sons announced for those who think aright.’ (Flavian of Constantinople, Letter to Theodosius)
 
That’s the kind of confession this man makes, the man deposed by Dioscorus, as my friend says, for being a ‘Nestorianizer’! (Testimonies of the Saints)
 

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