2007 Archive Edition - See the Archive Notice on the Project Homepage for more information.
Nestorius (c 381 - c 451 CE) became the patriarch of Constantinople in 428 with the help of Emperor Theodosius II (401-450). He believed that there were two persons in Jesus Christ, one human and the other divine. Furthermore, he argued that Mary gave birth to the human person only--though she was the passive recipient of the divine person--and could not, therefore, be called Theotokos (Mother of God). His views were based in Antiochene theology and originated in thinkers such as Diodore of Tarsus (d c 390) and Theodore of Mopsuestia (c 350-428). Although he argued zealously against Arianism and Pelagianism, his views caused him trouble with the Church. The Council of Ephesus (431), led by his adversary, Cyril of Alexandria (412-444), condemned him as a heretic, thus ending his patriarchate. Very few of his writings exist today because in 435 Theodosius II ordered them to be burnt. In 436 Nestorius was exiled to Egypt and remained there until his death around 451. During the same year, the Council of Chalcedon formulated the doctrine that Jesus Christ has two natures, human and divine, united in one person, thereby affirming that Mary should be called Theotokos. Even so, Nestorius' supporters spread his beliefs to the east, and during the fifth century, they formed their own independent body. Ibas, bishop of Edessa (435-457), helped the Nestorians establish a school, an ecclesiastical center and a patriarchal see. Nestorianism survives today in parts of Iraq, Iran and Syria.
Elise M. Bender
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