Severus of Antioch

Severus, Patriarch of Antioch (AD 512 - 518), born approximately 465 in Sozopolis in Pisidia, was by birth and education a pagan, who was baptized in the martyry of Leontius at Tripolis (Evagr. H. E. iii. 33; Philippe Labbe, v. 40, 120).

He almost at once openly united himself with the Acephali, repudiating his own baptism and his baptizer, and even the Catholic church itself as infected with Nestorianism (Labbe, u.s.). Upon embracing Miaphysite doctrines, he entered a monastery apparently belonging to that sect between Gaza and its port Majuma. Here he met Peter the Iberian, a zealous Eutychian, who had been ordained bishop of Gaza by Theodosius, the Miaphysite monk, during his usurpation of the patriarch of Jerusalem. About this time Severus apparently joined a Eutychian brotherhood near Eleutheropolis under the archimandrite Mamas, who further confirmed him in his extreme Monophysitism (Liberat. Brev. c. xix.; Labbe, v. 762; Evagr. l.c.). At this time Severus rejected the Henoticon of Zeno, dismissing it as "the annulling edict," and "the disuniting edict" (Labbe, v. 121), and anathematized Peter Mongus, the Miaphysite patriarch of Alexandria, for accepting it. We next hear of him in an Egyptian monastery, whose abbot Nephalius having been formerly a Miaphysite, now embraced the council of Chalcedon. In the resulting disagreement, Nephalius with his monks expelled Severus and his partisans (Evagr. l.c., Cf. iii. 22).

Severus is said to have stirred up a fierce religious war among the population of Alexandria, resulting in bloodshed and conflagrations (Labbe, v. 121). To escape punishment for this violence, he fled to Constantinople, supported by a band of two hundred Miaphysite monks. Anastasius, who succeeded Zeno as emperor in 491, was a professed Miaphysite, and received Severus with honor. His presence initiated a period of fighting in Constantinople between rival bands of monks, orthodox and Miaphysite, which ended in AD 511 with the humiliation of Anastasius, the temporary triumph of the patriarch Macedonius II, and the reversal of the Miaphysite cause (Theophanes, p. 132). That same year Severus was eagerly dispatched by Anastasius to occupy the vacant patriarch of Antioch (Labbe, iv. 1414; Theod. Lect. ii. 31, pp. 563, 567; Theophanes p. 134), and the very day of his enthronement solemnly pronounced in his church an anathema on Chalcedon, and accepted the Henoticon he had previously repudiated. He had the name of Peter Mongus inscribed in the diptychs; entered into communion with the Eutychian prelates, Timotheus of Constantinople and John Niciota of Alexandria; and received into communion Peter of Iberia and other leading members of the Acephali (Evagr. H. E. iii. 33; Labbe, iv. 1414, v. 121, 762; Theod. Lect. l.c.). Monophysitism seemed now triumphant throughout the Christian world. Proud of his patriarchal dignity and strong in the emperor's protection, Severus despatched letters to his brother-prelates, announcing his elevation and demanding communion. In these he anathematized Chalcedon and all who maintained the two natures. While many rejected them altogether, Monophysitism was everywhere in the ascendant in the East, and Severus was deservedly regarded as its chief champion (Severus of Ashmunain apud Neale, Patr. Alex. ii. 27). Synodal letters were exchanged between John Niciota and Severus, which are the earliest examples of communication between the Jacobite sees of Alexandria and Antioch that have continued to the present day.

The triumph of Severus was, however, short. His possession of the patriarchate of Antioch did not survive his imperial patron. Anastasius was succeeded in 518 by Justin I, who embraced the beliefs of Chalcedon. The Miaphysite prelates were everywhere replaced by orthodox successors, Severus being one of the first to fall. Irenaeus, the count of the East, was commissioned to arrest him but Severus departed before his approach, setting sail one night in September 518 for Alexandria (Liberat. Brev. l.c.; Theophanes 141; Evagr. H. E. iv. 4). Paul I was ordained in his place. Severus and his doctrines were anathematized in various councils, while at Alexandria he was gladly welcomed by the patriarch Timotheos III and his other fellow doctrinarists, being generally hailed as the champion of the orthodox faith against the corruptions of Nestorianism. His learning and persuasion established his authority as "os omnium doctorum," and the day of his entrance into Egypt was long celebrated as a Jacobite festival (Neale, u.s. p. 30). Alexandria soon became a refuge of Miaphysites of every shade of opinion, becoming too numerous for the emperor to molest. But within this group fierce controversies sprang up on various subtle questions of Christology, one of which involved Severus and his fellow-exile Julian of Halicarnassus as to the corruptibility of Christ's human body before His resurrection. Julian and his followers were styled "Aphthartodocetae" and "Phantasiastae," Severus and his adherents "Phthartolatrae" or "Corrupticolae," and "Ktistolatrae." The controversy was a heated and protracted one and while no settlement was arrived at, the later Oriental Orthodox claim the victory for Severus (Renaudot, p. 129).

After some years in Egypt spent in continual literary and polemical activity, Severus was unexpectedly summoned to Constantinople by Justin's successor Justinian I, whose consort Theodora favored Severus' cause. The emperor was weary of the turmoil caused by the prolonged theological discussions; Severus, he was told, was the master of the Miaphysite party, and only through his influence could unity only be regained. At this period, AD 535. Anthimus had been recently appointed to the Patriarch of Constantinople by Theodora's influence. He was a concealed Eutychian, who on his accession threw off the orthodox mask and joined heartily with Severus and his associates, Peter of Apamea and Zoaras, in their endeavours to get Monophysitism recognized as the orthodox faith. This introduction of Miaphysites threw the city into great disorder, and large numbers embraced their heresy (Labbe, v. 124). Eventually, at the instance of Pope Agapetus I, who happened to be present in Constantinople on political business, the Miaphysites Anthimus and Timotheus were deposed. Patriarch Mennas, who succeeded Anthimus, summoned a synod in May and June 536 to deal with the Miaphysite question. Severus and his two companions were cast out "as wolves", and once again anathematized (Labbe, v. 253-255). The sentence was ratified by Justinian. The writings of Severus were proscribed; any one possessing them who failed to commit them to the flames was to lose his right hand (Evagr. H. E. iv. 11; Novell. Justinian. No. 42; Matt. Blastar. p. 59). Severus returned to Egypt, which he seems never again to have left. The date of his death is said variously to be 538, 539, or 542. According to John of Ephesus, he died in the Egyptian desert.

He was a very copious writer, but we possess little more than fragments. An account of them, so far as they can be identified, is given by Cave (Hist. Lit. vol. i.pp. 499 ff.) and Fabricius (Bibl. Graec. lib. v. c. 36, vol. x. pp. 614 ff., ed. Harless). A very large number exist only in Syriac, for which consult the catalogue of the Syriac manuscripts in the British Museum by Prof. Wright.

Severus was successful in his great aim of uniting the Miaphysites into one compact body with a definitely formulated creed. For notwithstanding the numerous subdivisions of the Miaphysites, he was, in Dorner's words, "strictly speaking, the scientific leader of the most compact portion of the party," and regarded as such by the Miaphysites and their opponents. He was the chief object of attack in the long and fierce contest with the orthodox, by whom he is always designated as the author and ringleader of the heresy. His opinions, however, were far from consistent, and his opponents apparently had much difficulty in arriving at a clear and definite view of them, and constantly asserted that he contradicted himself. This was partly forced upon him by the conciliatory position he aimed at. Hoping to embrace as many as possible of varying theological color, he followed the traditional formulas of the church as closely as he could, while affixing his own sense upon them (Dorner, Pers. of Christ, div. ii. vol. i. p. 136, Clark's trans.).

References

In 1904 the Sixth Book of the Select Letters of Severus, in the Syriac version of Athanasius of Nisibis, were edited by G. E. W. Brooks (London). For a full statement of his opinions see the major work of Dorner, and the article "Monophysiten" in Herzog's Encyclopedia.

This article uses text from A Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature to the End of the Sixth Century A.D., with an Account of the Principal Sects and Heresies by Henry Wace.

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Preceded by
Flavian II
Patriarch of Antioch
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Paul the Jew
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Flavian II
Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch
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Sergius of Tella
Patriarch of Antioch is a traditional title carried by the Bishop of Antioch. As the traditional "overseer" (επισκοπος, episkopos
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This article is about the year 512 AD. For other uses, see 512 (disambiguation).


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Sozopolis in Pisidia, called Apollonia during Seleucid times, was an ancient town in the region of Pisidia, now in the Asian part of Turkey. It is not to be confused with the Thracian Sozopolis in present-day Bulgaria.
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Pisidia was a region of ancient Asia Minor (modern day Antalya, Turkey), located north of Lycia, and bordering Caria, Lydia, Phrygia and Pamphylia. Among Pisidia's settlements were Termessus, Selge, Cremna, Sagalassos, Etenna, Antiochia, Neapolis, Tyriacum, Laodiceia
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Paganism (from Latin paganus, meaning "an old country dweller, rustic") is a term which, from a Western perspective, has come to connote a broad set of spiritual or cultic practices or beliefs of any folk religion, and of historical and contemporary polytheistic religions
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martyr (Greek μάρτυς "witness") initially signified a witness in the forensic sense, a person called to bear witness in legal proceedings. With this meaning it was used in the secular sphere as well as in both the Old Testament and the New Testament of
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Philippe Labbe (10 July 1607 - 16 or 17 March, 1667) was a French Jesuit writer on historical, geographical, and philological questions.

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"Acephali" (from the Greek language a-, "without," and kephale, "head") is a term applied to several sects as having no head or leader; and in particular to a strict monophysite sect that separated itself, in the end of the 5th century, from the rule of Peter
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Nestorianism is the doctrine that Jesus exists as two persons, the man Jesus and the divine Son of God, or Logos, rather than as a unified person. This doctrine is identified with Nestorius (c. 386–c. 451), Archbishop of Constantinople.
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Miaphysitism (sometimes called henophysitism) is the christology of the Oriental Orthodox Churches. Miaphysitism holds that in the one person of Jesus Christ, Divinity and Humanity are united in one "nature" ("physis"), the two being united without separation, without
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Peter the Iberian, or Peter of Iberia, (Georgian: პეტრე იბერი, Petre Iberi) (A.D. c. 411-491) was a prominent Georgian (Iberian) theologian and one of the leaders of anti-Chalcedonian movement in the Eastern Roman
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Pope Saint Eutychian or Eutychianus was pope from January 4, 275 to December 7, 283 (according to the Annuario Pontificio of 2003).

His original epitaph was discovered in the catacombs of Callixtus (see Kraus, Roma sotterranea, p. 154 et seq.
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The term Patriarch of Jerusalem can refer to the holders of one of four offices:
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Eleutheropolis ("city of the free") was the Greek name of a Roman city in Palestine, some 53 km southwest of Jerusalem. Its remains still straddle the ancient road to Gaza.
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Zeno
Emperor of the Byzantine Empire

Zeno on a coin issued during his second reign and celebrating his victories
Reign 9 February 474 - 9 January 475
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Full name Dominus Noster Flavius Zeno Perpetuus Augustus
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Pope Peter III of Alexandria (died 490), also known as Mongus (from Greek moggos, "stammerer"), was Coptic Pope from 477 until his death and after 482 also recognized as Patriarch of Alexandria by the Eastern Orthodox Church.
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The Patriarch of Alexandria is the Archbishop of Alexandria and Cairo, Egypt. Historically, this office has included the designation of Pope (etymologically 'Father', like Abbot etc.), and did so earlier than that of the Bishop of Rome.
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The Council of Chalcedon was an ecumenical council that took place from October 8 to November 1, 451, at Chalcedon (a city of Bithynia in Asia Minor), today part of the city of Istanbul on the Asian side of the Bosphorus and known as the district of Kadıköy.
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Anastasius I
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Flavius Anastasius
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Macedonius II (died c.517), patriarch of Constantinople (495 - 511). For an account of his election see Patriarch Euphemius of Constantinople

Within a year or two (the date is uncertain) he assembled a council, in which he confirmed in writing the acts of the Council of
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Patriarch of Antioch is a traditional title carried by the Bishop of Antioch. As the traditional "overseer" (επισκοπος, episkopos
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Timothy I or Timotheus I, patriarch of Constantinople (511 - 523), was appointed by the emperor Anastasius the day after the deposition of Macedonius.

Timothy had been the priest and keeper of the ornaments of the cathedral, and was considered by many to be a man of
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