First Council of Nicaea
The First Council of Nicaea was a council of Christian bishops convened in the Bithynian city of Nicaea by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in AD 325. This ecumenical council was the first effort to attain consensus in the Church through an assembly representing all of Christendom. Hosius of Corduba, one of the papal legates, may have presided over its deliberations, its main accomplishments were settlement of the Christological issue of the divine nature of God the Son and his relationship to God the Father, the construction of the first part of the Nicene Creed, establishing uniform observance of the date of Easter, promulgation of early canon law. The First Council of Nicaea was the first ecumenical council of the Church. Most it resulted in the first uniform Christian doctrine, called the Nicene Creed. With the creation of the creed, a precedent was established for subsequent local and regional councils of Bishops to create statements of belief and canons of doctrinal orthodoxy—the intent being to define unity of beliefs for the whole of Christendom.
Derived from Greek, "ecumenical" means "worldwide" but is assumed to be limited to the known inhabited Earth, at this time in history is synonymous with the Roman Empire. One purpose of the council was to resolve disagreements arising from within the Church of Alexandria over the nature of the Son in his relationship to the Father: in particular, whether the Son had been'begotten' by the Father from his own being, therefore having no beginning, or else created out of nothing, therefore having a beginning. St. Alexander of Alexandria and Athanasius took the first position; the council decided against the Arians overwhelmingly. Another result of the council was an agreement on when to celebrate Easter, the most important feast of the ecclesiastical calendar, decreed in an epistle to the Church of Alexandria in, stated:We send you the good news of the settlement concerning the holy pasch, namely that in answer to your prayers this question has been resolved. All the brethren in the East who have hitherto followed the Jewish practice will henceforth observe the custom of the Romans and of yourselves and of all of us who from ancient times have kept Easter together with you.
Significant as the first effort to attain consensus in the church through an assembly representing all of Christendom, the Council was the first occasion where the technical aspects of Christology were discussed. Through it a precedent was set for subsequent general councils to adopt canons; this council is considered the beginning of the period of the First seven Ecumenical Councils in the History of Christianity. The First Council of Nicaea was convened by Emperor Constantine the Great upon the recommendations of a synod led by Hosius of Córdoba in the Eastertide of 325; this synod had been charged with investigation of the trouble brought about by the Arian controversy in the Greek-speaking east. To most bishops, the teachings of Arius were dangerous to the salvation of souls. In the summer of 325, the bishops of all provinces were summoned to Nicaea, a place reasonably accessible to many delegates those of Asia Minor, Armenia, Egypt and Thrace; this was the first general council in the history of the Church summoned by emperor Constantine I.
In the Council of Nicaea, "The Church had taken her first great step to define revealed doctrine more in response to a challenge from a heretical theology." Constantine had invited all 1,800 bishops of the Christian church within the Roman Empire, but a smaller and unknown number attended. Eusebius of Caesarea counted more than 250, Athanasius of Alexandria counted 318, Eustathius of Antioch estimated "about 270". Socrates Scholasticus recorded more than 300, Evagrius, Hilary of Poitiers, Dionysius Exiguus, Rufinus recorded 318; this number 318 is preserved in the liturgies of the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria. Delegates came including Britain; the participating bishops were given free travel to and from their episcopal sees to the council, as well as lodging. These bishops did not travel alone. Eusebius speaks of an innumerable host of accompanying priests and acolytes. A Syriac manuscript lists the names of the eastern bishops which included twenty two from Coele-Syria, nineteen from Palestine, ten from Phoenicia, six from Arabia, etc. but the distinction of bishops from presbyters had not yet formed.
The Eastern bishops formed the great majority. Of these, the first rank was held by the patriarchs: Alexander of Alexandria and Eustathius of Antioch. Many of the assembled fathers—for instance, Paphnutius of Thebes, Potamon of Heraclea, Paul of Neocaesarea—had stood forth as confessors of the faith a
Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople
The Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople is an autonomous See. The seat of the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople is the Surp Asdvadzadzin Patriarchal Church in the Kumkapı neighborhood of Istanbul; the Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople known as Armenian Patriarch of Istanbul is today head of the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople. During the Byzantine period, the Armenian Apostolic Church had not been allowed to operate in Constantinople because the two churches mutually regarded each other as heretical; the schism was rooted in the rejection of the Council of Chalcedon by the Oriental Orthodox Churches, of which the Armenian Church is a part, while the Byzantine Church and the rest of Eastern Orthodoxy had accepted. After conquering Constantinople, the Ottoman Empire allowed the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople to stay in the city, but Sultan Mehmed II asked the Armenians to establish their own church in the new Ottoman capital, as part of the Millet system. From on the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople acted as superior religious institution in the Ottoman Empire standing over the Armenian Catholicos.
For a short period, the Syriac Orthodox Church was placed under the jurisdiction of the Armenian Patriarchate. The first Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople was Hovakim I, at the time the Metropolitan of Bursa. In 1461, he was brought to Constantinople by Sultan Mehmed II and established as the Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople. Hovakim I was recognized as the religious and secular leader of all Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, carried the title of milletbaşı or ethnarch as well as patriarch. There have been 84 individual Patriarchs since establishment of the Patriarchate: 75 patriarchs during the Ottoman period 4 patriarchs in the Young Turks period 5 patriarchs in the current secular Republic of Turkey The Armenian Patriarchate served the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire with a line of Patriarchs in Constantinople; however like the Greek Patriarchate, the Armenians suffered from intervention by the state in their internal affairs. Although there have been 115 pontificates since 1461, there have only been 84 individual Patriarchs.
In 1861, a national constitution was granted to Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire by Sultan Abdülaziz. In 1896 Patriarch Madteos III was deposed and exiled to Jerusalem by Sultan Abdülhamid II for boldly denouncing the 1896 massacre; the constitution governing the Armenians was suspended by the Sultan. The Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople Madteos III was permitted to return to Istanbul in 1908 when Sultan Abdulhamid II was deposed by the Young Turks; the new Turkish administration restored the constitution. In the initial period of the reign of the Young Turks, the Armenians enjoyed a brief period of restoration of civil liberties between 1908 and 1915. However, in 1915 the Armenians suffered great hardship under the Young Turk administration owing to the desire of the Turkish government for its peoples to be religiously homogeneous, motivated by an imagined threat of Armenians from Russian influences with whom Turkey was at war; the Armenian community of Turkey in 1915 was accordingly decimated by mass deportations and killings.
The events surrounding this ethnic cleansing of Armenians from Turkey have become known as the Armenian Genocide. The inability of Turkey to acknowledge these events has been a source of significant angst among Armenians worldwide for the past hundred years. Prior to 1915 two million Armenians lived in Turkey. With this backdrop of turmoil for Armenians, the post of the Patriarch remained vacant from 1915 to 1919, it was restored for a brief period from 1919 to 1922 with Patriarch Zaven I Der Yeghiayan residing. Four Armenian Patriarchs served under the rule of the Young Turks. Despite a huge diminution in the number of its faithful during the Armenian Genocide, the patriarchate remains the spiritual head of the largest Christian community presently living in Turkey. Today, the Armenian Patriarchs are recognized as the head of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Turkey and he is invited to state ceremonies. Five Armenian Patriarchs have served after the establishment of the Republic of Turkey; the synod of the Patriarchate has designated, with the votes of 25 of its 26 members, Aram Ateşyan as Patrik Genel Vekili in 2010 because of the illness of the Patriarch Mesrob II Mutafyan.
Some members of the Armenian community of Turkey criticised this move and asked for the election of a new Patriarch by universal suffrage instead. At last, the synod decided to retire the Patriarch Mesrob II Mutafyan on October 26, 2016 and to organize an election for a new patriarch; the Patriarchate publishes an annual review in Armenian called Shoghagat, containing theological, liturgical and cultural articles. A small, illustrated bulletin Lraper is published weekly; the bilingual Lraper is in Turkish. List of Armenian Patriarchs of Constantinople Armenians in the Ottoman Empire Armenian Apostolic Church Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople Lraper Bulletin
Saint Thomas Christians
The Saint Thomas Christians called Syrian Christians of India, Nasrani or Malankara Nasrani or Nasrani Mappila, are an ethnoreligious community of Malayali Syriac Christians from Kerala, who trace their origins to the evangelistic activity of Thomas the Apostle in the 1st century. The terms Syrian or Syriac relate not to their ethnicity but to their historical and liturgical connection to Syriac Christianity; the term Nasrani was derived from Semitic languages like Syriac and Arabic and refers to Christians in general. This community was organised as the Province of India of the Church of the East in the 8th century, served by Nestorian bishops and a local dynastic Archdeacon; the Church of the East declined in the 16th century due to outside influences like the Islamic invasion and the influence of the Catholic Church. The Schism of 1552 split the Church of the East into two factions, the independent Assyrian Church of the East and the Chaldean Catholic Church, in full communion with Rome.
Both the factions follow the East Syriac Liturgy of the historic Church of the East. In the 16th century the overtures of the Portuguese padroado to bring the Saint Thomas Christians into the Catholic Church led to the first of several rifts in the community; the majority of Nasranis joined in formal communion with Rome, to form the Syro-Malabar Church, distinct and separate from the Western Latin Church but is one of the Eastern Catholic Churches. The remaining group entered into a new communion with the Syriac Orthodox Church, to form an Oriental Orthodox Church; the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church follows the East Syriac Liturgy of the historic Church of the East, traditionally attributed to Saints Addai and Mari which dates back to 3rd-century Edessa. The Malankara Church follows the West Syriac Liturgy of the Syriac Orthodox Church, traditionally attributed to Saint James, is an ancient rite of the Early Christian Church of Jerusalem. Since that time further splits have occurred, the Saint Thomas Christians are now divided into several different Eastern Catholic, Oriental Orthodox and independent bodies, each with their own liturgies and traditions.
The Eastern Catholic faction is in full communion with the Holy See in Rome. This includes the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church; the Syro-Malankara Church were a minority faction within the Oriental Orthodox faction that joined in communion with Rome in 1930 under Bishop Mar Ivanios. The Oriental Orthodox faction includes the Malankara Orthodox Church and the Malankara Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church; the Malankara Orthodox Church is headed by the Catholicos of the East and Malankara Metropolitan in Kottayam, India. Whereas the Malankara Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church is an integral part of the Syriac Orthodox Church and is headed by the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch in Damascus, Syria. Independents include the Chaldean Syrian Church of India; the Marthoma Syrian Church were a part of the Malankara Church that went through a reformation movement under Abraham Malpan due to influence of British Anglican missionaries in the 1800s. The Mar Thoma Church follows a reformed variant of the liturgical West Syriac Rite.
The Chaldean Syrian Church is an archbishopric of the Assyrian Church of the East in Iraq. They were a minority faction within the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, who split off and joined with the Church of the East Bishop during the 1700s. Saint Thomas Christians represent a multi-ethnic group, their culture is derived from East Syriac, Hindu and West Syriac influences, blended with local customs and elements derived from indigenous Indian and European colonial contacts. Their language is Malayalam, the language of Kerala, Syriac is used for liturgical purposes; the Saint Thomas Christians are classified as a Forward caste by the Government of India under its system of positive discrimination. The Saint Thomas Christians have been nicknamed such due to their reverence for Saint Thomas the Apostle, said to have brought Christianity to India; the name dates back to the period of Portuguese colonisation. They are known locally, as Nasrani or Nasrani Mappila; the former means Christian. Mappila is an honorific applied to members of non-Indian faiths and descendants of immigrants from the middle east who had intermarried with the local population, including Muslims and Jews.
Some Syrian Christians of Travancore continue to attach this honorific title to their names. The Government of India designates members of the community as Syrian Christians, a term originating with the Dutch colonial authority that distinguishes the Saint Thomas Christians, who used Syriac as their liturgical language, from newly evangelised Christians who followed the Roman Rite; the terms Syrian or Syriac relate not to their ethnicity but to their historical and liturgical connection to the Church of the East, or East Syriac Church. According to tradition, Thomas the Apostle came to Muziris on the Kerala coast in 50 AD, in present-day Pattanam, Kerala; the Cochin Jews are known to have existed in Kerala in the 1st century AD, it was possible for an Aramaic-speaking Jew, such as St. Thomas from Galilee, to make a trip to Kerala then; the earliest known source connecting the Apostle to India is the Acts of Thomas written in the early 3rd century in Edessa. A number of 3rd and 4th century Roman writers mention Thomas' trip to India, including Ambrose of Milan, Gregory of Nazianzus and Ephrem the Sy
Coptic Monasticism is claimed to be the original form of Monasticism as St. Anthony of Egypt became the first one to be called "monk" and he was the first to established a Christian monastery, now known as the Monastery of Saint Anthony in the Red Sea area. St. Anthony's Monastery is now the oldest monastery in the world. Although Saint Anthony's way of life was focused on solidarity, Saint Pachomius the Cenobite, a Copt from Upper Egypt, established communal monasticism in his monasteries in upper Egypt which laid the basic monastic structure for many of the monasteries today in many monastic orders. Institutional Christian monasticism seems to have begun in the deserts in AD 4th century Egypt as a kind of living martyrdom. Scholars such as Lester K. Little attribute the rise of monasticism at this time to the immense changes in the church, brought about by Constantine's acceptance of Christianity as the main Roman religion; this ended the position of Christians as a small group. In response a new more advanced form of dedication was developed to preserve a nucleus of the dedicated.
The end of persecution meant that martyrdom was no longer an option to prove one's piety. Instead the long-term "martyrdom" of the ascetic became common. Many Egyptian Christians went to the desert during the 3rd century, remained there to pray and work and dedicate their lives to seclusion and worship of God; this was the beginning of the monastic movement, organized by Anthony the Great, Saint Paul, the world's first anchorite, Saint Macarius the Great and Saint Pachomius the Cenobite in the 4th century. Pachomius spent most of his time at his Pabau monastery. From his initial monastery, demand grew and, by the time of his death in 345, one count estimates there were 3000 monasteries dotting Egypt from north to south. Within a generation after his death, this number grew to 7000 and moved out of Egypt into Palestine and the Judea Desert, North Africa and Western Europe. Christian Monasticism was born in Egypt and was instrumental in the formation of the Coptic Orthodox Church character of submission and humility, thanks to the teachings and writings of the Great Fathers of Egypt's Deserts.
By the end of the fifth century, there were hundreds of monasteries, thousands of cells and caves scattered throughout the Egyptian desert. A great number of these monasteries have new vocations to this day. All Christian monasticism stems, either directly or indirectly, from the Egyptian example: Saint Basil the Great Archbishop of Caesaria of Cappadocia and organizer of the monastic movement in Asia Minor, visited Egypt around 357 AD and his rule is followed by the Eastern Orthodox Churches. Countless pilgrims have visited the "Desert Fathers" to emulate their disciplined lives; the Coptic monasticism took three forms: Monachism The Coenobitic System The Communal System or Semi-eremitic Life The Coptic Orthodox Church has many monasteries and convents that host many monks and nuns. All of the Coptic bishops are chosen from monks. Coptic monasticism saw a revival that started in the 1960s during the papacy of Pope Cyril VI of Alexandria, there are Coptic monasteries and convents in Egypt, the United States and Europe that have been recognised by the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church.
There are 33 monasteries in Egypt and in the lands of the immigration with a total of more than 1,000 monks, six convents with about 300 nuns. The largest monasteries, most famous, are at Wadi Natrun, about 60 miles northwest of Cairo, they are the only four of the ancient fortified self-sufficient monasteries which have survived out of many that were in the Wadi Natroun valley. Coptic Monasteries Christian monasticism before 451 The Daughters of St. Mary Desert Fathers Eastern Christian monasticism List of Coptic monasteries Members of the Covenant Parabalani Tall Brothers Gruber, Mark. 2003. Sacrifice In the Desert: A Study of an Egyptian Minority Through the Lens of Coptic Monasticism. Lanham: University Press of America. ISBN 0-7618-2539-8
The Peshitta is the standard version of the Bible for churches in the Syriac tradition. The consensus within biblical scholarship, though not universal, is that the Old Testament of the Peshitta was translated into Syriac from Hebrew in the 2nd century AD, that the New Testament of the Peshitta was translated from the Greek; this New Testament excluding certain disputed books, had become a standard by the early 5th century. The five excluded books were added in the Harklean Version of Thomas of Harqel. However, the 1905 United Bible Society Peshitta used new editions prepared by the Irish Syriacist John Gwynn for the missing books; the name'Peshitta' is derived from the Syriac mappaqtâ pšîṭtâ meaning'simple version'. However, it is possible to translate pšîṭtâ as'common', or'straight', as well as the usual translation as'simple'. Syriac is a dialect, or group of Eastern Aramaic, originating around Edessa, it is written in the Syriac alphabet, is transliterated into the Latin script in a number of ways, generating different spellings of the name: Peshitta, Peshittâ, Pshitta, Pšittâ, Fshitto.
All of these are acceptable. There is no full and clear knowledge of the circumstances under which the Peshitta was produced and came into circulation. Whereas the authorship of the Latin Vulgate has never been in dispute every assertion regarding the authorship of the Peshitta and its time and place of its origin, is subject to question; the chief ground of analogy between the Vulgate and the Peshitta is that both came into existence as the result of a revision. This, has been strenuously denied, but since Hort maintained this view in his Introduction to New Testament in the Original Greek, following Griesbach and Hug at the beginning of the 19th century, it has gained many adherents; as far as the New Testament writings are concerned, there is evidence and increased by recent discoveries, for the view that the Peshitta represents a revision, fresh investigation in the field of Syriac scholarship has raised it to a high degree of probability. The designation, "Peshito," has given rise to dispute.
It has been applied to the Syriac as the version in common use, regarded as equivalent to the Greek "koiné" and the Latin "Vulgate". The word itself is a feminine form, meaning "simple", as in "easy to be understood", it seems to have been used to distinguish the version from others which are encumbered with marks and signs in the nature of a critical apparatus. However, the term as a designation of the version has not been found in any Syriac author earlier than the 9th or 10th century; as regards the Old Testament, the antiquity of the version is admitted on all hands. The tradition, that part of it was translated from Hebrew into Syriac for the benefit of Hiram in the days of Solomon is a myth; that a translation was made by a priest named Assa, or Ezra, whom the king of Assyria sent to Samaria, to instruct the Assyrian colonists mentioned in 2 Kings 17:27-28, is legendary. That the translation of the Old Testament and New Testament was made in connection with the visit of Thaddaeus to Abgar at Edessa belongs to unreliable tradition.
Mark has been credited in ancient Syriac tradition with translating his own gospel and the other books of the New Testament into Syriac. What Theodore of Mopsuestia says of the Old Testament is true of both: "These Scriptures were translated into the tongue of the Syriacs by someone indeed at some time, but who on earth this was has not been made known down to our day". F. Crawford Burkitt concluded that the translation of the Old Testament was the work of Jews, of whom there was a colony in Edessa about the commencement of the Christian era; the older view was that the translators were Christians, that the work was done late in the 1st century or early in the 2nd. The Old Testament known to the early Syrian church was that of the Palestinian Jews, it contained the same number of books. First, there was the Pentateuch Job, Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Proverbs, Ruth, the Song of Songs, Ezra, Isaiah followed by the Twelve Minor Prophets and Lamentations, Daniel. Most of the Deuterocanonical books of the Old Testament are found in the Syriac, the Wisdom of Sirach is held to have been translated from the Hebrew and not from the Septuagint.
Of the New Testament, attempts at translation must have been made early, among the ancient versions of New Testament scripture, the Syriac in all likelihood is the earliest. It was at Antioch, the capital of Syria, that the disciples of Christ were first called Christians, it seemed natural that the first translation of the Christian Scriptures should have been made there; the tendency of recent research, goes to show that Edessa, the literary capital, was more the place. If we could accept the somewhat obscure statement of Eusebius that Hegesippus "made some quotations from the Gospel according to the Hebrews and from the Syriac Gospel," we should have a reference to a Syriac New Testament as early as 160–180 AD, the time of that Hebrew Christian writer. One thing is certain, the earliest New Testament of the Syriac church lacked not only the Antilegomena – 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John and the Apocalypse – but the whole of the Catholic Epistles; these were at a date translated and received into the Syriac Canon of the New Testament, as the qu
Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church
The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church is the largest of the Oriental Orthodox Christian churches. One of the few pre-colonial Christian churches in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church has a membership of between 45 and 50 million people, the majority of whom live in Ethiopia, it is a founding member of the World Council of Churches. The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church is in communion with the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, having gained autocephaly in 1959; the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church was administratively part of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria from the first half of the 4th century until 1959, when it was granted its own patriarch by Cyril VI, Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria. As one of the oldest Christian churches and a non-Chalcedonian church, it is not in communion with the Ethiopian Catholic Church. Ethiopia is the second country following only Armenia, to have proclaimed Christianity as state religion. Tewahedo is a Ge'ez word meaning "being made one".
This word refers to the Oriental Orthodox belief in the one unified nature of Christ. The Oriental Orthodox churches adhere to a Miaphysitic Christological view followed by Cyril of Alexandria, the leading protagonist in the Christological debates of the 4th and 5th centuries, who advocated "mia physis tou theou logou sesarkōmenē", or "one nature of the Word of God incarnate" and a "union according to hypostasis", or hypostatic union; the distinction of this stance was that the incarnate Christ has one nature, but that one nature is of the two natures and human, retains all the characteristics of both after the union. Miaphysitism holds that in the one person of Jesus Christ and humanity are united in one nature without separation, without confusion, without alteration and without mixing where Christ is consubstantial with God the Father. Around 500 bishops within the Patriarchates of Alexandria and Jerusalem refused to accept the dyophysitism doctrine decreed by the Council of Chalcedon in 451, an incident that resulted in the first major split in the main body of the Christian Church.
The Oriental Orthodox churches, which today include the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Syriac Orthodox Church, the Malankara Orthodox Church of India, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church, are referred to as "Non-Chalcedonian", sometimes incorrectly by outsiders as "monophysite". Monophysitism is a theology adopted by a 5th-century presbyter and archimandrite in Constantinople known as Eutyches and claims that Christ has "one single nature" where his divinity absorbed his humanity resulting in a "simple" mathematical "one" nature to which the Oriental Orthodox churches object. According to these, both natures in Christ are preserved after the union in "mia physis"—one nature. Tewahedo is a Ge'ez word meaning "being made one" or "unified"; this word refers to the Oriental Orthodox belief in the one single unified nature of Christ. This is in contrast to the "two Natures of Christ" belief, held by the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church.
Oriental Orthodoxy is known as "non-Chalcedonian", sometimes by outsiders as "monophysite". However, these Churches themselves describe their Christology as miaphysite. Many traditions claim that Christian teachings were introduced to the region after Pentecost. John Chrysostom speaks of the "Ethiopians present in Jerusalem" as being able to understand the preaching of Saint Peter in Acts, 2:38. Possible missions of some of the Apostles in the lands now called Ethiopia is reported as early as the 4th century. Socrates of Constantinople includes Ethiopia in his list as one of the regions preached by Matthew the Apostle, where a specific mention of "Ethiopia south of the Caspian Sea" can be confirmed in some traditions such as the Roman Catholic Church among others. Ethiopian Church tradition tells that Bartholomew accompanied Matthew in a mission which lasted for at least three months. Paintings depicting these missions are available in the Church of St. Matthew found in the Province of Pisa, in northern Italy portrayed by Francesco Trevisan and Marco Benefial.
The earliest account of an Ethiopian converted to the faith in the New Testament books is a royal official baptized by Philip the Evangelist, one of the seven deacons: Then the angel of the Lord said to Philip, Start out and go south to the road that leads down from Jerusalem to Gaza. So he was on his way when he caught sight of an Ethiopian; this man was a eunuch, a high official of the Kandake Queen of Ethiopia in charge of all her treasure. The passage continues by describing ho
First Council of Constantinople
The First Council of Constantinople was a council of Christian bishops convened in Constantinople in AD 381 by the Roman Emperor Theodosius I. This second ecumenical council, an effort to attain consensus in the church through an assembly representing all of Christendom, except for the Western Church, confirmed the Nicene Creed, expanding the doctrine thereof to produce the Niceno–Constantinopolitan Creed, dealt with sundry other matters, it met from May to July 381 in the Church of Hagia Irene and was affirmed as ecumenical in 451 at the Council of Chalcedon. When Theodosius ascended to the imperial throne in 380, he began on a campaign to bring the Eastern Church back to Nicene Christianity. Theodosius wanted to further unify the entire empire behind the orthodox position and decided to convene a church council to resolve matters of faith and discipline. Gregory Nazianzus was of similar mind. In the spring of 381 they convened the Second Ecumenical Council in Constantinople; the Council of Nicaea in 325 had not ended the Arian controversy which it had been called to clarify.
Arius and his sympathizers, e.g. Eusebius of Nicomedia were admitted back into the church after ostensibly accepting the Nicene creed. Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, the most vocal opponent of Arianism, was exiled through the machinations of Eusebius of Nicomedia. After the death of Constantine I in 337 and the accession of his Arian-leaning son Constantius II, open discussion of replacing the Nicene creed itself began. Up until about 360, theological debates dealt with the divinity of the Son, the second person of the Trinity. However, because the Council of Nicaea had not clarified the divinity of the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, it became a topic of debate; the Macedonians denied the divinity of the Holy Spirit. This was known as Pneumatomachianism. Nicene Christianity had its defenders: apart from Athanasius, the Cappadocian Fathers' Trinitarian discourse was influential in the council at Constantinople. Apollinaris of Laodicea, another pro-Nicene theologian, proved controversial.
In an over-reaction to Arianism and its teaching that Christ was not God, he taught that Christ consisted of a human body and a divine mind, rejecting Christ having a human mind. He was charged with confounding the persons of the Godhead, with giving in to the heretical ways of Sabellius. Basil of Caesarea accused him of abandoning the literal sense of the scripture, taking up wholly with the allegorical sense, his views were condemned in a Synod at Alexandria, under Athanasius of Alexandria, in 362, subdivided into several different heresies, the main ones of which were the Polemians and the Antidicomarianites. Theodosius' strong commitment to Nicene Christianity involved a calculated risk because Constantinople, the imperial capital of the Eastern Empire, was solidly Arian. To complicate matters, the two leading factions of Nicene Christianity in the East, the Alexandrians and the supporters of Meletius in Antioch, were "bitterly divided... to the point of complete animosity". The bishops of Alexandria and Rome had worked over a number of years to keep the see of Constantinople from stabilizing.
Thus, when Gregory was selected as a candidate for the bishopric of Constantinople, both Alexandria and Rome opposed him because of his Antiochene background. The incumbent bishop of Constantinople was a Homoian Arian. On his accession to the imperial throne, Theodosius offered to confirm Demophilus as bishop of the imperial city on the condition of accepting the Nicene Creed. After forty years under the control of Arian bishops, the churches of Constantinople were now restored to those who subscribed to the Nicene Creed. There ensued. A group led by Maximus the Cynic gained the support of Patriarch Peter of Alexandria by playing on his jealousy of the newly created see of Constantinople, they conceived a plan to install a cleric subservient to Peter as bishop of Constantinople so that Alexandria would retain the leadership of the Eastern Churches. Many commentators characterize Maximus as having been proud and ambitious. However, it is not clear the extent to which Maximus sought this position due to his own ambition or if he was a pawn in the power struggle.
In any event, the plot was set into motion when, on a night when Gregory was confined by illness, the conspirators burst into the cathedral and commenced the consecration of Maximus as bishop of Constantinople. They had seated Maximus on the archiepiscopal throne and had just begun shearing away his long curls when the day dawned; the news of what was transpiring spread and everybody rushed to the church. The magistrates appeared with their officers; the news of the brazen attempt to usurp the episcopal throne aroused the anger of the local populace among whom Gregory was popular. Maximus withdrew to Thessalonica to lay his cause before the emperor but met with a cold reception there. Theodosius committed the matter to Ascholius, the much respected bishop of Thessalonica, charging him to seek the counsel of Pope Damasus I. Damasus' response repudiated Maximus summarily and advised Theodosius to summ