Relations between the Pro and Non-Chalcedonians in the 6th Century

Remains of the Hormisdas Palace

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In the period 571 – 577 A.D. there was a sustained persecution of the non-Chalcedonian communities in Constantinople by the Patriarch John Scholasticus. During this persecution he tried to bring about unity by a forced reception of the Holy Mysteries. When he began to require re-ordination of those entering his communion, he provoked a scandal since this had not been the practice of either community. The publication of an Imperial Edict represented a shared faith, and the restoration of communion only by reception of the Holy Mysteries as the common and traditional mechanism represented that both communities considered the other as substantially Orthodox. But the issue of the council of Chalcedon remained a irresolvable obstacle to full communion.


If we are to understand the relations between the pro and non-Chalcedonian communities in the present then it must be through a detailed and scholarly examination of the relationship in the past, and not by the introduction of a pseudo-traditional approach which has no basis in actual events. This paper considers one period in the 6th century to consider the attitudes of each community to the other, and the extent and means by which reconciliation seemed possible to those who lived at that time.

The Church historian, John of Ephesus, describes for us a period of persecution which took place in the 6th century at the instigation of the Chalcedonian Patriarch of Constantinople, John Scholasticus. He was Patriarch of Constantinople 565-577 A.D. and had replaced the exiled Patriarch Eutychius who was restored to his See on the death of John Scholasticus. Eutychius has presided over the Fifth Ecumenical Council, the Second at Constantinople, according to the Chalcedonian reckoning. Vigilius, the Pope of Rome, had been present in Constantinople at this time but had provoked a great deal of controversy in his refusal to accept the condemnation of the Three Chapters. It was Eutychius who supported the efforts and intention of the Emperor Justinian in organising a universal and authoritative clarification of the Chalcedonian position with respect to Theodore of Mopsuestia, Theodoret of Cyrus, and Ibas of Edessa.

But by the end of Justinian’s life he had adopted a form of the Julianist heresy and confessed that the humanity of Christ was entirely impassible, incorruptible and immortal from the moment of the incarnation. This meant that the humanity of Christ was unable to naturally suffer and die, and that therefore the suffering and death of Christ had been an illusion in some sense. St Severus of Antioch had written four volumes resisting this error, and when it was adopted by the Emperor Justinian, the Patriarch Eutychius found himself unable to submit to the Emperor’s wishes to proclaim it as Orthodoxy.

The historian Evagrius writes…

Justinian … issued what the Latins call an Edict, after the deposition of Eutychius, in which he termed the body of the Lord incorruptible and incapable of the natural and blameless passions; affirming that the Lord ate before his passion in the same manner as after his resurrection, his holy body having undergone no conversion or change from the time of its actual formation in the womb, not even in respect of the voluntary and natural passions, nor yet after the resurrection. To this, he proceeded to compel the bishops in all quarters to give their assent[1].

Eutychius refused to sign the edict, and it is reported that he was arrested as he was celebrating the Liturgy on the Feast of St Timothy, on the 22nd January, 565 A.D. Justinian also intended to exile Anastasius, the Chalcedonian Patriarch of Antioch. He had also opposed this new development in Justinian’s thinking, and Evagrius says of him…

He stood upon the immoveable rock of faith, that he unreservedly contradicted Justinian by a formal declaration, in which he showed very clearly and forcibly that the body of the Lord was corruptible in respect of the natural and blameless passions, and that the divine apostles and the inspired fathers both held and delivered this opinion[2].

It was at this moment that the Emperor Justinian appointed John Scholasticus as the replacement for Eutychius in Constantinople. He had been born in the region of Antioch and been a successful lawyer. He was already well known for having published a compilation of the Church canons, and continued in this area of study, producing the Nomocanon when he was in Constantinople. He had travelled as an Agent of the Church to Constantinople on various matters of Church business, and when Justinian needed a new Patriarch, he settled on this John of Sirimis. Unlike Eutychius, John Scholasticus was willing to support Justinian in his adoption of Julianism, or Aphthartodocetism.

At the installation of John as Patriarch of Constantinople in 565 A.D, Pope Theodosius of Alexandria was still in exile in the royal city, under the patronage and protection of the Empress Theodora, and the non-Chalcedonian community flourished there. John of Ephesus, who personally experienced the events which will be considered, says…

For the long period then of more than forty years, all the congregations of the orthodox church had enjoyed a time of peace and tranquillity both in the capital and its suburbs; and in entire liberty, fully and freely and without fear, had assembled wherever they chose, and performed all the mysteries and ordinances of the church[3].

This indicates that despite the complicated political and ecclesiological circumstances of the times, from about 525 A.D. there had been relative security for the non-Chalcedonian congregations and monasteries in Constantinople. Theodora had become Empress in 527 A.D., and even before her marriage to Justinian she had used whatever influence she had to promote the interests of the non-Chalcedonians. John of Ephesus, in his account of the Lives of the Eastern Saints, describes the great number of monastics who were resident in the Empress’ Palace of Hormisdas, and who gathered around themselves many thousands of believers because of their ascetic practices and spiritual endeavours. The Empress had established countless crowded cells in every part of the Palace, and there were many services which took place in the various halls.

Writing this account in 565 A.D., just after the death of the Emperor Justinian, John of Ephesus is able to speak in positive terms about the freedom which was enjoyed, and had been enjoyed for so long. Theodosius of Alexandria was still in the Hormisdas, together with Anthimus of Constantinople, who had been deposed in 536 A.D. John of Ephesus writes…

But the blessed Theodosius, patriarch of Alexandria, also had been bravely contending in the conflict of persecution for a considerable lime, during all the lifetime of king Justinian, and did so after his death, even to the present time, which is the year eight hundred and seventy seven (565 A.D), a new king having also succeeded in the same year, who is Justinian’s sister’s son, who also promises with the help of the blessed Theodosius to bring about the peace of the church[4].

The new king was Justin II, and it was during his reign and under the influence of Patriarch John Scholasticus that severe persecution broke out in Constantinople and elsewhere. John of Ephesus had been one of those who lived in the Palace of Hormisdas and had benefitted from the support of the Empress Theodora. He had been consecrated a bishop himself, by James Baradeus, the great wandering bishop of the early 6th century who had been himself consecrated by Theodosius of Alexandria in his exile in Constantinople and with the direct support of the Empress. He was also one of those who came to experience the fierceness of the persecution in a personal manner.

The history of John of Ephesus recounts at the beginning of the Third Book…

The events which took place at the commencement of the reign of the victorious king Justin II, have been sufficiently detailed by us in the previous part of our history; and that originally he was anxious to make unity, and mild and peaceable to the whole body of believers for the first six years of his reign, but then changed, and took part in a persecution carried on in a violent and uncanonical manner, of which in the two former books we have given a few details out of many.[5]

It can be seen that John of Ephesus had described in his history how the non-Chalcedonian community in Constantinople had prospered even to the sixth year of Justin II, which was 571 A.D. There had even been a hope that unity between the pro and non-Chalcedonians might be established. All of this changed in 571 A.D. He writes…

But suddenly in the holy days of the Lenten fast, on the Saturday before Palm Sunday, from the urgency and wicked violence of him who governed the church of the capital, namely John of Sirmin, a village in Syria, and from his numerous slanders against the whole party of the orthodox, the victorious Justin was stirred up unto great wrath, and in an angry decree commanded that all the places where the believers assembled should be shut up, the altars in them razed, their priests and bishops seized and cast into prison, and all who met there for worship driven away and dispersed, and commanded never to enter them again. And other similar decrees and injunctions were issued in great wrath, whereas up to that time they had been permitted in peace and quietness to celebrate the rites of their religion[6].

This was both an unexpected persecution in regard to its sudden development, and also to the ferocity with which it was applied. It was not simply a matter of placing difficulties in the way of the life of the non-Chalcedonian community, but it was intended that it be eliminated completely. This was something new. All of the churches and places of worship were to be closed. The altars were to be destroyed. The priests and bishops arrested and put into prison, and the congregations completely dispersed and forbidden to meet together.

We find an account of the treatment of one Elder. He was taken before the magistrate and defended himself in the strongest terms, saying… Why do you sit as a Christian and judge the servants of God as if you were a heathen?[7] The magistrate was rather shocked and having respect for the great age of the prisoner before him ordered that he be sent to the bishop, John the Scholasticus. Perhaps he expected kinder treatment. But in fact, he was sent to Heraclea, 90 km along the coast from Constantinople, where he was imprisoned so closely that not even his closest supporters were able to visit him. He was held a prisoner for two years, and not even allowed a change of clothing, so that he soon became infested with vermin. At the end he became sick and died in this confinement, and his body was taken by the non-Chalcedonian community and brought back to the city with honour.

John of Ephesus describes that the great object of this persecution were the non-Chalcedonian monastic communities of men and women in Constantinople, and this elder was probably a member of one of these monastic houses which had been supported by the Empress Theodora for so long. He writes…

There came clergy and laity with the prison-keepers, and sergeants, and along with them the body-guard of the prefect of the city; who being let loose upon them with barbarous violence surrounded the convents, and like a troop of wolves breaking into and falling upon a fold of sheep, so they rushed in, and laid their destructive hands upon the inmates, who were Christ’s own lambs; and the clergy, who had brought with them consecrated bread, dragged and pulled them by main force to make them receive the communion at their hands. And they all … saying, ‘We cannot communicate with the synod of Chalcedon, which divides Christ our God into two natures after the union and teaches a quaternity instead of the Holy Trinity.’ But with angry words and force they were dragged up to communicate; and when they held their hands above their heads, in spite of their screams their hands were seized, and they were dragged along, uttering shrieks of lamentation, and sobs, and loud cries, and struggling to escape. And so the sacrament was thrust by force into the mouths of some, in spite of their screams, while others threw themselves on their faces upon the ground, and cursed every-one who required them to communicate by force[8].

It seems remarkable to us that any Christian could imagine it ever being appropriate to force the Holy Mysteries into someone’s mouth so that it could be said that they had received communion and were now restored to some sort of unity in the Church. But this was the practice adopted at this time and in these circumstances by John Scholasticus of Constantinople. From one perspective it is indeed shocking, but this passage does give some useful insight into the relations between the pro and non-Chalcedonians. We can see that the non-Chalcedonians objected to the Council itself and considered it to have introduced a division into Christ. It was this aspect of the Council which required them to take a principled stand against any recognition of the authority of Chalcedon. There is no sense, from the perspective of the non-Chalcedonians, that the communion which the agents of John Scholasticus forced upon them was not a sacrament. It would have been easy for John of Ephesus to deny that what was forced upon these monastics was the sacrament at all, and that those who forced it on them were truly Christian or members of the Church. But he does not. What was objectionable was that the sacrament being forced upon them implied a communion in the perceived error of Chalcedon, the division of Christ which it seemed to have introduced.

It was considered to be the sacrament even by the non-Chalcedonians, though being used in an almost blasphemous manner. But more than that, we can also see at this first outbreak of violent persecution it was not thought necessary that anything more than receiving communion be required to restore unity in the Church. The monks and nuns were not forced to say anything, they were not forced to pray anything, they were not anointed by force. None of these was required before they could receive communion. On the contrary, it was the reception of communion which was considered to bring about and establish unity. Whatever the difference of opinion between the pro and non-Chalcedonians, at this point in the 6th century, the difference was not considered so significant that unity could not be restored simply by the reception of communion.

It is reported by John of Ephesus that John Scholasticus had worked on the Emperor Justin II since his consecration as Patriarch of the Imperial city, and eventually, after six years, ‘he by his slanders inflamed the king against the whole party of the believers, and so worked upon him that at length he obtained permission to treat them as he liked[9]. John used violence against the non-Chalcedonians, but presented his activities as uniting the separated community.

He even went in person to the convents both of men and women, and to houses, and forced and compelled the inmates to communicate with him, and whoever persisted in refusing, both men and women, whether monks or clergy or nuns, he commanded in cruel wrath and without mercy, that they should be imprisoned separately in various monasteries, and finally pronounced against them harsh sentences of death… But such as resisted were exiled, or sent into close confinement, or made over without mercy to the praetorian guards to torture or given up to whatever bitter and cruel scourgings and ill treatment the fierce and vindictive malice of their persecutors suggested to them [10].

This is important, not so much as a record of the persecution of those who rejected Chalcedon, but once again, because there is no suggestion that anything more was required for the restoration of unity than receiving the communion from those acting on John Scholasticus’ behalf. Those who received communion were considered as being in unity with him and were not subject to violence.

Those who received communion from him were received entirely in their rank, if they were of the clergy, and continued in their ministry, with no other action required. John of Ephesus describes…

They had communicated with him, and been received according to their rank in the priesthood, the presbyters being received by him as presbyters, and officiating at the administration of the sacrament on an equal footing with his own presbyters, and sitting in a row with them inside the chancel; and the deacons also in like manner performing in company with his own deacons their appointed part in the services; and that not once merely or thrice, but on as many as thirty-six several occasions in all the offices of the church: after they had thus officiated with him in right of their previous ordination, and fulfilled all the order of their priesthood…[11]

For more than six or nine months, those who had given way in the force of violence and submitted to receive communion from John Scholasticus, had been considered in union with him, with no other action required. They had served as priests and deacons, entirely as his own priests and deacons. They had not been anointed, or re-ordained, but were received as they were, Orthodox priests and deacons, by virtue only of receiving communion.

But then this changed. John Scholasticus demanded the humiliation of those he had treated as entirely Orthodox for so many months. John of Ephesus says…

The cruel thought entered his mind, as though he had been but a young boy, and violently, being elated with pride, and drunken with power and haughtiness, he gave orders, saying; ‘We command all those who have given in their submission to us after being our opponents, that they be deposed from their former priesthood, and be made priests by us anew.’ And thus, he now deposed them all, after they had acted as priests with him and in his presence thirty-six several times by right of their former ordination by the orthodox and ordained afresh all who had submitted to communion with him. And great was their dismay and trouble at this proceeding, and they cursed and reviled both him and his lawless ordination. Several of them thus re-ordained he placed among the clergy of his own church: but many even of his own party blamed the step he had taken, as done wickedly and violently by him, in violation of church law and canonical order[12].

What is interesting is that this new step is understood by members of both the pro and non-Chalcedonian communities as being something which was in violation of the canons of the Church. The non-Chalcedonians had never re-ordained or even chrismated those who came over to their community from the pro-Chalcedonians. In the same way, this action of John Scholasticus was a novelty introduced by him and it had not been experienced before.

This forced re-consecration was also applied to some of the non-Chalcedonian bishops. John of Ephesus recounts the experience of Paul, Metropolitan of Caria. He says…

The great sorrow of Paul also deserves to be related, who was a man honest and peaceable, and humble and guileless, and dwelt like Jacob in the tabernacle of his monastery, in the land of Caria, for a long time. And when John of Sirmin heard of him, he sent at once into Asia, and brought him bound and in chains to Constantinople, and imprisoned him in his palace in sore misery: and by bonds and many tortures he forced him to submit to receive the communion at his hands. … after he had brought him to submission, and made him obedient to his will, he sent him to the bishop of Aphrodisias, with a letter in these words: ‘Depose this man from his bishopric, and consecrate him afresh, and set him over Antioch, a city under your dominion (in your diocese).’ And when he had received Paul and the letters, he at once laid hands on him,—for he had no idea of their artifice,—and said to him, ‘See, the patriarch has sent me his commands to depose you from your episcopate, and consecrate you afresh.’ And he, on hearing this, began lamenting and saying, ‘O heathens that you are! lo, these many years have I been consecrated, and am a bishop, and, according to canonical order, three bishops took part in it; and now, for what reason am I deposed contrary to the canon, and wickedly ordained anew? And if you annul my priesthood, and ordain me afresh, then also first annul my baptism, and baptise me afresh.’ And when they would not give way, but were even full of anger at him, they took him tyrannically and violently and deposed him, and consecrated him afresh, while he beat upon his face, and his eyes became dim, and he grew blind. And so finally, in tears and lamentation over his state, and anxious only to hasten for refuge unto repentance, death overtook him, and his old age descended in affliction and misery to the grave, reserving his cause for that Judge who judges righteously[13].

This is indeed a sad account, but what matters most is that this was entirely a novel approach. It was a new thing, in 571 A.D. for a bishop of the non-Chalcedonian community to be treated as if he was not a bishop at all. If it had been a usual occurrence, then Paul would not have been surprised at all. Nor would he have been so shocked and offended. But this was so terrible and unexpected that Paul addresses those who are treating him in such a way as being heathens. This is not because of their support for Chalcedon, but for their re-consecration of a true bishop of the Church.

The same scandal at the unexpected and entirely novel practice of re-consecration is found in the experience of the bishop Elisha, of whom John of Ephesus says…

Elisha, who already was in confinement in a monastery called Bethdios, whence the patriarch took him, and imprisoned him in his palace, and by the most rigorous measures compelled him to submit to his communion, Elisha hoping, says John, even so to find an opportunity of escaping from his hands. But on the patriarch’s wishing to send him to Sardes, the metropolis of Lydia, that he might be deposed from his episcopal office, and consecrated afresh, Elisha resisted, saying, ‘All unworthy though I be, yet was I made bishop by the orthodox, and you shall never consecrate me afresh. If however you think that it is according to order to depose me, and consecrate me afresh, depose me first of all from the baptism with which I was baptized, and then baptize me a second time.’ … Elisha would not for one moment consent, or submit himself to him, or listen to his words: and upon this he grew angry, and imprisoned him in another monastery called Beth Abraham, and passed upon him a harsh sentence: and there accordingly he was detained for a long time, and underwent great affliction, until he fell seriously ill, when upon petition he was permitted to go to the warm baths attended by keepers[14]

In this account we can see that after great pressure was brought to bear upon him, Elisha considered that he could at least receive communion from John Scholasticus and enter into unity with him, since nothing else was required of him which would be contrary to his principles. But when he learned that John intended to re-consecrate him, this was unbearable. He has not changed his views, he does not consider that he was ever in error, and he understands that he has always been an Orthodox bishop consecrated by Orthodox bishops. Unity on the basis simply of communion was practiced by both sides. But none had dreamed of re-consecrating bishops before. This was a scandal and a novelty. Elisha insists that if his episcopacy is not accepted then neither can his baptism be accepted. And if his baptism is accepted then his episcopacy must be accepted. Whatever else he was able to consent to, and he clearly did not consider that entering into communion with John Scholasticus was impossible, he could never accept something previously unheard of, and repudiate his own consecration as a bishop.

But these were not the only cases. John of Ephesus writes of the case of Stephen, Bishop of Cyprus, which was once a stronghold of the non-Chalcedonian community. He says of him…

Far more severe and extraordinary was the treatment experienced by Stephan, bishop of Cyprus. He had aroused the wrath of the patriarch by warmly reproving him for seeking to annul the orthodox ordinations, and in return had been banished to the island of Plataea. There he now sent a body of clergy to fetch him away, and along with them a number of guards, with orders to beat him with clubs, until he vomited blood, or consented to their communion. Twelve of them accordingly beat him until he fell down speechless in the midst, and lay apparently dead. But on seeing him lie motionless, and dying as it seemed, they ran, and brought four pails of water, which they dashed over him, and so after a long time his soul returned to him again, and he returned to life as from the dead. And thus, by force he was compelled to submit to communion with them. But even so he was less influenced by his own sufferings, than by the knowledge that several of the believers who had sent to supply his wants, had been arrested and thrown into prison on his account, and that in case of further resistance on his part, they intended to attack them, and plunder their property. They took him therefore, and brought him to the capital, where much discussion took place between him and the patriarch, but finally he was compelled to submit to their communion.[15]

We can see that there is the same use of violence, in this case extreme violence, which was applied to a non-Chalcedonian bishop to induce him to accept communion with John Scholasticus. This indicates again, that the difference between the pro and non-Chalcedonian communities was not so great that communion was considered impossible. It also indicates that unity was established only on the basis of reception of communion, with no other requirement. But we then discover, as we will see, that the practice of re-consecration was considered entirely a novelty and contrary to all the canons and the established relations between the pro and anti-Chalcedonians. John of Ephesus continues…

When John required him to consent to the annulling of his orders, and his re-consecration to the bishopric of the island of Cyprus, he contended with him and resisted him, and finally made an outcry, and began to exclaim, ‘Woe is me! If you purpose to depose me from the priesthood of the orthodox, and ordain me afresh, depose me first also from my baptism, and baptize me also afresh, and then you shall depose me from my priesthood and ordain me again. For by the life of the Lord God, if you do not baptise me afresh, I will never suffer you to ordain me afresh.’[16]

Stephen has been willing to enter the communion of John Scholasticus, after great violence was used against him, and especially threatened against those who supported him. He has already submitted to John Scholasticus, to the extent of receiving communion from him and entering unity with him. This is already significant. The problem between the pro and non-Chalcedonians was not so great that it could not be overcome with some difficulty but not as if it was absolutely impossible. But the new practice introduced only by John, of re-consecrating those who entered his communion, was completely unacceptable. Now if a bishop such as Stephen was willing to resist to the end being re-consecrated, since it was against every canonical tradition, he would have resisted entering into the communion of John Scholasticus if it was considered as serious a matter. But it does not seem that it was viewed in that way at all. Equally, it seems clear that it had never been the case that those who resisted Chalcedon had been considered so distant from the pro-Chalcedonian position that they could not be reconciled only and simply by the reception of communion.

John of Ephesus writes further…

And as this took place in the church, a great tumult arose, and multitudes flocked together, until Stephan rushed suddenly away, and entered the king’s presence, terrifying him also, and exclaiming, ‘Woe! woe! Christianity is ruined: the regulations of the Christian church are overthrown: all the constitutions and canons of the church of God are confounded and trampled underfoot and are undone! What means this wickedness, that contrary to law the priesthood of the orthodox Christians is annulled by those who are now in power, and another new one substituted in its place? For lo! these twenty years have I, unworthy though I be, been a bishop canonically consecrated by the orthodox at the command of Theodosius, patriarch of Alexandria; and now that I have yielded myself, and submitted to you, this man, acting in the same wicked way to me as he has done to many others, wishes to depose me also from the priesthood of the orthodox, and to ordain me afresh in his own.[17]

This dramatic passage gives some indication of the scandal which Stephen felt in being required to submit to re-consecration, where he had not objected to entering into communion with John Scholasticus in the same way. Stephen rushes into the presence of the Emperor Justin II himself, but he does not raise an objection to having been forced to enter into communion with John after being beaten up. The violence was not normal, but the restoration of unity by means of receiving communion only was understood and accepted. That was not the issue.

But the forced re-consecration raised many issues. It was considered to be wickedness, to be against the regulations of the Church, and contrary to the constitutions and canons. It was not the accepted practice, even of the pro-Chalcedonians. It was considered by Stephen of Cyprus to be against the settled canons of the Church in every way. Just as the non-Chalcedonians did not re-consecrate any pro-Chalcedonians, so it was not expected that the pro-Chalcedonians would ever re-consecrate any non-Chalcedonians. Even having entered into the communion of John Scholasticus, Stephen considers that he has been canonically consecrated a bishop for more than twenty years already, and he expects others, including the Emperor, to consider him as having been a canonical bishop all this time as well.

In an interesting passage, Stephen describes to the Emperor in more detail, why he objects so forcefully. He says…

Let him show the canons where he learnt this; or say whether it is from ignorance and not understanding the canons of the church, that he thus acts; or whether, knowing them, he insults them and tramples them under foot, in his pride and haughtiness and wrong-headedness. … For so the nineteenth canon of the three hundred and eighteen fathers commands, with reference to the pernicious heresy of Paul of Samosata, and the like, that they are first to be baptized again, and then such of them as are worthy are to be made priests. And this regulation was made because of the wickedness of their heresy. Now then let this man show first of all what his pretext is for thus acting, and for being so puffed up with pride as to depose and ordain us afresh.[18]

As far as Stephen is concerned, and in his own experience and understanding of the relations between the pro and non-Chalcedonians over the preceding 100 years, there are no canons of the Church which apply to these two communities and require the rebaptism and re-ordination of respective members. There is a canon which requires the baptism of extreme heretics, such as the Samosatans, but he does not consider that this applies to the difference between the pro and non-Chalcedonians, and it has never been applied to these communities.

Paul of Samosata essentially denied the Trinity, though Athanasius of Alexandria said that he used the Names of the Divinity. For him, Christ was a man who had become God through the Holy Spirit and his own effort and was not God made man. It was because he did not properly confess the Holy Trinity that his baptism, and the ordinations of his followers were considered void. But the pro and non-Chalcedonians had never accused one another of such extreme and anti-Trinitarian heresy, and the canon requiring the baptism of Paulianists, the followers of Paul of Samosata, had never been mutually applied in their case. The 19th canon of Nicaea says…

Concerning the Paulianists who have flown for refuge to the Catholic Church, it has been decreed that they must by all means be rebaptized; and if any of them who in past time have been numbered among their clergy should be found blameless and without reproach, let them be rebaptized and ordained by the Bishop of the Catholic Church; but if the examination should discover them to be unfit, they ought to be deposed. Likewise in the case of their deaconesses, and generally in the case of those who have been enrolled among their clergy, let the same form be observed. And we mean by deaconesses such as have assumed the habit, but who, since they have no imposition of hands, are to be numbered only among the laity[19].

Now this canon was never applied to all those who might be considered to have held erroneous views of every kind, but it applied in the first place to the followers of Paul of Samosata entirely because he taught a false understanding of the Holy Trinity, so that even though he baptised in the name of the Trinity, it could not be said that he was properly recognising the Trinity of divine Persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Those who had been followers of Paul were to be baptised, and if they were clergy and were considered acceptable, then they were to be re-ordained. But this was not because of being simply considered in error. It was because they failed to confess the Holy Trinity.

Athanasius of Alexandria spoke about this in his work, Against the Arians, where he writes…

There are many other heresies too, which use the words only, but not in a right sense, as I have said, nor with sound faith, and in consequence the water which they administer is unprofitable, as deficient in piety, so that he who is sprinkled by them is rather polluted by irreligion than redeemed. So, Gentiles also, though the name of God is on their lips, incur the charge of Atheism, because they know not the real and very God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. So Manichees and Phrygians, and the disciples of the Samosatene, though using the Names, nevertheless are heretics[20].

This was one of the distinguishing points. It was whether or not the Holy Trinity was properly confessed. Athanasius was writing against the Arians, and these denied the Trinity, making the Word of God a created being. But Athanasius includes with those who deny the Trinity, and who are therefore unable to baptise in the name of the Trinity, the Manichees, Phrygians and Samosatenes. There were others who held errors of one kind or another, but they did not deny the Holy Trinity, and so were not considered by Athanasius, or by the Fathers of the Council of Nicaea, to have embraced such error that even their baptism was worthless.

This is what Stephen, the bishop who rushed into the presence of the Emperor Justin II was objecting to. It had never been the case that either the pro or non-Chalcedonians had treated each other in such a way. There was a serious Christological difference, but it had never been considered that either party held such grievous Trinitarian error that their baptism and subsequently all ordinations were invalid.

John of Ephesus records the Emperor’s response, writing…

When the king heard these things, and perceived that Stephan had good reason for finding fault, and was supported by the canons in his arguments, he was in a maze, and like one just roused from a deep sleep; and himself also blamed and reprobated the proceeding, saying, ‘In very truth this is done wrongly and without law, and is contrary to the whole constitution of the church, for the priesthood to be annulled and conferred afresh; and it is monstrous and entirely foreign to all the constitutions of the church.’ And then he commanded that such a thing should never again be done in the church of God: and published immediately a royal edict forbidding every-one from ever again venturing to annul the priesthood, except in case of the heresies in which the canons so ordain. … When however the edict was drawn up, and John knew that a decisive order was about to be published, he and his partisans contrived by bribery to put the obnoxious decree out of the way; and it was never again seen![21]

This suggests several things, in regard to the relations between the pro and non-Chalcedonian communities in the period after Chalcedon. In the first place, this was not a definite Imperial policy, and it seems that the Emperor was willing to believe simply that closing the non-Chalcedonian churches would encourage them to enter into unity with the Chalcedonian party. Justin II does not appear to have been aware of the extent of the violence being used by John Scholasticus, nor that it had developed into the forced re-consecration and re-ordination of non-Chalcedonian clergy. In the second place, the Emperor confirms that this had never been the practice in the Church in terms of managing the relations between the pro and non-Chalcedonians. It was both un-canonical and against all the experience of recent times. In the third place, he confirms that the Nicene canon was not intended to apply to the situation of the pro and non-Chalcedonians, despite their controversy, and had not been applied before the time of John Scholasticus, nor should it be applied in the future.

It was after this that John Scholasticus imprisoned together four of the leading non-Chalcedonians, including John of Ephesus himself. They were held in the same prison but not allowed to communicate with each other, only saw each other when they were brought to John Scholasticus who demanded that they enter union with him. John of Ephesus says that John Scholasticus insisted…

‘You must unite yourselves to us after the manner of the union between Cyril of Alexandria and John of Antioch.’ Upon receiving this message, they understood and despised the wickedness practised towards them, and sent in answer, ‘You have counselled well: and we therefore, provided we have freedom to do and practise that which Cyril did, and may excommunicate and eject and drive out of the Church of God the Synod of Chalcedon just as Cyril did the wicked Nestorius;—upon these terms we will not oppose you upon other matters, but will unite ourselves to you without hindrance. If, however, it is not your pleasure to permit us to do that which Cyril did, how or in what manner do you craftily plan to require of us the union which finally took place between Cyril and John, when the very first step that Cyril took is forbidden us?[22]

This is an interesting passage because it shows clearly that the non-Chalcedonians were willing to consider reconciliation with the pro-Chalcedonians if the issue of Chalcedon could be dealt with. The difference between the two sides was serious and required principled action but was not of such an issue that either side should be treated as being not Christian at all. Indeed, this passage shows that the non-Chalcedonians would have been willing to enter into a union with no thought of re-baptism, or re-chrismation, or even re-ordination of the pro-Chalcedonians. They needed only to deal with the issue of Chalcedon, then union could be effected. This was what they demanded for themselves. That union be by a common confession of faith and without a repetition of any of the sacraments.

The union between John of Antioch and Cyril of Alexandria had taken place without any repeat of any of the sacraments. None of the Antiochians were baptised again, or chrismated again, or ordained again. All that was required was that a common confession of faith be made, even one which was not exactly what Cyril would have said himself, but which was substantially accurate enough. Now, at this time, in the 6th century, this was all the both sides required of the other, and it was all that had been required in the past since Chalcedon, until the aberrant and violent behaviour of John Scholasticus.

Certainly, throughout the extent of the preceding 100 years, the non-Chalcedonians had received pro-Chalcedonians without repeating any of the sacraments, and in their own rank as clergy. This was also how non-Chalcedonians had always been received by the pro-Chalcedonians, which made this new development under John Scholasticus so offensive and unacceptable.

These four bishops resisted John courageously, and once again insisted that he justified acting against the canons of the Church, saying to him…

If you have persuaded yourself, that this practice of yours to depose true priests, and ordain them again, in violation of all the constitutions and canons of the church, is a right one, you should also have annulled their baptism, and baptized them again, according to the purport of the canons. For the sixteenth (really the nineteenth) canon of the 318 fathers, which treats of the pernicious heresy of Paul of Samosata, ordered them to be baptized afresh: and that then such as appeared worthy should be ordained priests again. If therefore you now consider in yourself, that you have received back from heresy those whom you have treated with as much cruelty as if they had been captives taken in battle, and ordained afresh, why have you observed one part of the canon, but set at nought its previous requirement?[23]

The argument that they put to John is that it is against all the canons and tradition of the Church to re-ordain them, since the canon which would support such an action did not, and had never, applied to the situation between the pro and non-Chalcedonians. Indeed, the practice and experience of both sides over the 120 years since the council of Chalcedon showed that this was the case. But worse than that, if John was going to apply this canon, even illegitimately, then he was not applying it correctly since it required that they be baptised again, as not even being Christian, rather than just humiliated in being re-ordained, and therefore subject to the control and authority of John.

Now it can be seen that John Scholasticus was extremely hostile to the non-Chalcedonians. He had been more than happy to use extreme physical force to require non-Chalcedonians to enter communion with him, even if it meant forcing the Holy Mysteries into resistant mouths. He was also more than happy to depose and re-ordain deacons, priests and bishops. But he is also clearly willing, even as an extreme opponent of the non-Chalcedonians, to enter into union with them on the basis which had always been used in the past. He says…

‘As I perceive that you are troubled and offended at this annulling of your orders,—for so I conclude from what you have said, and to which I have given a patient audience,—if this matter is set right, and the annulling of your ordinations discontinued, will you be contented, and enter into union with me?’[24]

Nothing more was to be required of the non-Chalcedonians, from this most hostile pro-Chalcedonian, other than that they actually enter into union with him. This clearly shows that there was no overwhelming and absolutely unresolvable issue from the pro-Chalcedonian perspective. It especially shows that the practice at that time, on both sides, of reconciliation through a confession of faith, had been acceptable, and was always acceptable. It could perhaps be said that John had adopted a traditional practice in requiring the re-ordination of non-Chalcedonian clergy, but the four bishops show that this was far from the case at first, and that he had himself also adopted the traditional and canonical means of receiving non-Chalcedonians at first. They remind him…

After you had fallen upon your captives, as if they had been the spoil of war, or like a robber on his prey, and forced them to submit to communion with you; that then, after they had taken part with you in thirty-six consecrations of the Eucharist, and the liturgies during the whole feast of Passover as well as subsequently, and you had received them in right of their former ordination, and had made the presbyters sit with your presbyters in the chancel during all those days called the love feasts, and similarly had admitted the deacons to perform the office of the diaconate with the rest of your deacons, and had placed them according to their degree, that then finally, after all this, you ventured upon the annulling of their former ordination by some strange act of senseless audacity.[25]

It was at this point that Justin II decided to try to use his own efforts and authority to bring about a union. But his own efforts would also not require any re-baptism, or re-chrismation, or even re-ordination on the part of the non-Chalcedonians, simply the acceptance of an Edict which he intended to publish. There was a discussion of the text, and it appears to have been sent back and forth for revisions from the various parties. Evagrius Scholasticus, the Church Historian, provides the text of the Edict and says… To this edict all assented, saying that it was expressed in orthodox language[26].

This was not, of course, the first time that it was clear that both sides held the same faith. The Christological substance of this Edict says in part…

We do not admit that the divine Word who wrought the miracles was one, and he who underwent the sufferings was another; but we confess our Lord Jesus Christ to be one and the same, namely, the Word of God become incarnate and made perfectly man, and that both the miracles and the sufferings which he voluntarily underwent for our salvation belong to one and the same… Further, while considering his ineffable union, we rightly confess one nature, that of the Divine Word, to have become incarnate, by flesh animated with a reasonable and intelligent soul; and, on the other hand, while contemplating the difference of the natures, we affirm that they are two, without, however, introducing any division, for either nature is in him; whence we confess one and the same Christ, one Son, one person, one subsistence, both God and man together[27].

It is not surprising that since both sides had a hand in revising the text it was found to be acceptable to all. The Edict confesses clearly that the miracles and the suffering belong to one and the same divine Word, while also confessing that it is the one nature of the divine Word who has become incarnate, and that the integrity and distinction of the natures of humanity and divinity remains in the union without division. It was on this basis, of an existing unity in faith, that both sides had received the other only by a confession of faith, since there was no such difference in faith which could possibly demand the use of the 19th canon of Nicaea.

The Emperor Justin II hoped that this would be enough, and that on the basis of a common faith both sides would come into communion. He expected nothing more to be required. But unfortunately, the Edict also stated, under the influence of John Scholasticus according to John of Ephesus… the usage and form which has hitherto prevailed in the holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of God, remains for ever unshaken and unchanged[28]. This was understood by the four non-Chalcedonian bishops as essentially meaning that things would not change, and that the issue of Chalcedon would not be addressed. As a matter of principle, even while there was a complete agreement on the faith, and even though both sides could accept the text of the Edict, and even imagine a union based on a shared faith, Chalcedon remained the stone of stumbling.

The leading bishops of the non-Chalcedonian community, held prisoner in Constantinople, found themselves in a very difficult situation. There was agreement on the faith, and now it seemed that they were cause of all the disunity and confusion. The important laymen of the non-Chalcedonians blamed them for the loss of property and influence. The Emperor blamed them. John Scholasticus and the other pro-Chalcedonians blamed them. From the perspective of the non-Chalcedonians what was required was described by them…

How can you expect us to come to terms with you, while you still retain the synod which has uprooted and troubled the whole church of God, and proclaim it, and love it? If. however, you are really anxious to bring about a unity according to your words, remove the snare and offence out of the level pathway of the faith, and eject it from God’s church: and so, not we only, but all the believers, with joy, and free from all cause of stumbling, will unite ourselves to you[29].

All that they required was that the council of Chalcedon be removed as an authority from the Church. It was all they required, otherwise there was already agreement enough to be the basis of unity. But as a matter of principle, if Chalcedon remained then it seemed to undermine all agreement in the faith even when clearly expressed. From the perspective of the pro-Chalcedonians it was only required that the non-Chalcedonians accept the fact of Chalcedon as best they were able and to whatever limited extent was necessary and enter into union. There was already an agreement in the faith, and apart from the temporary and violent practice of John Scholasticus it was not and had never been necessary for either side to be baptised, chrismated or ordained again. But this was more that the non-Chalcedonian bishops could easily do.

They were kept in close confinement in the dungeons and mistreated especially by the Patriarch’s own guards. But not only were the bishops held captive, with hardly any clothing or food, but their households, dependents and even their slaves, were all held in the same manner. No one was allowed to visit them, or provide for their needs, and they were forced to sleep on the ground. Again and again, the bishops insisted that the problem was Chalcedon, and that if the council could be removed from the Church then unity could take place. They repeated this principle many times when they were brought out of the prison and interviewed by John Scholasticus.

After it had become clear that the bishops would not enter into communion while Chalcedon was still such an issue, John Scholasticus used a different approach. He promised that as soon as communion had been re-established it would be possible to remove Chalcedon. He said…

As we have often said before, so now, both we and our lords, their majesties, give you our word, and our oath as in the presence of God, that upon your union with us the synod shall immediately be put away: and whatever comes out of our mouths shall not be changed[30].

The bishops were filled with doubts. It seemed most unlikely that the Patriarch would keep his word. But in the end, when it seemed that so many were suffering because of their principles, they determined that they would themselves bear the cost of entering into communion and testing the purpose of John Scholasticus. John of Ephesus, one of these four bishops, reports…

And therefore they yielded themselves up with great sorrow, and anathematizing with loud voice the council of Chalcedon, submitted themselves to communion twice, as they had promised and agreed, after having strenuously demanded of the king and patriarch, with many adjurations during all those three and thirty days its anathematization and expulsion from the church[31].

This is an important passage. It shows that the four non-Chalcedonian leaders were able to enter into communion with John Scholasticus, even though Chalcedon had not yet been dealt with. This was because it was clear that both sides held the same substance of faith. There was a compromise required over the issue of Chalcedon, and this was considered difficult but possible. But there was no compromise over the faith. More than that, before they entered into communion, they anathematised Chalcedon with a loud voice. There was no doubt that they did not accept Chalcedon, but not only did this not prevent them entering into communion with the pro-Chalcedonians, but it also did not prevent the pro-Chalcedonians receiving them into communion.

Of course, after communion had been established, and the four bishops shared in the Liturgy on two separate occasions, the issue of Chalcedon was never resolved. Excuses were made, such as that Chalcedon could only be removed if the Pope of Rome agreed. They were at least able to now insist that it was not their obstinacy which prevented a lasting reconciliation but the duplicity of John Scholasticus. The bishops returned to their imprisonment, and eventually were sent into exile, but they were inconsolable because they had gone as far as was possible, even further than was possible, but it had been for nothing.

The Emperor Justin II saw their misery and promised to speak with them after he had visited the baths for a month. But even as he was on the way back to the city, John Scholasticus intercepted the Emperor and persuaded him that the non-Chalcedonians were the cause of all disunity. The Emperor, guided by the Patriarch, sent a list of Sees to the bishops, inviting them to choose which ever they preferred, as long as they remained in communion. But the bishops rejected any idea that their principled stand was because of a desire for personal advancement. At this resistance the Emperor became angry, it is reported, and demanded that they remain in communion with John Scholasticus and his party. But they completely refused, if Chalcedon were not removed. John of Ephesus writes…

The wrath of the senators and of the patriarch blazed out upon the bishops, and they commanded that they should be dragged by the throat out of their presence, and separated from one another, and sent into exile. And the sentence was quickly put into execution, and they were taken away, and separated, and never saw one another more, being sent into banishment, some to monasteries, and some to islands in the sea, and some to oppressive and bitter imprisonment in hospices, it being part of their sentence that they should be kept in confinement, and that neither friend nor stranger should be permitted to see any one of them. And much besides was decreed against them, cruelly, and sternly, and without mercy, in bitter anger, and with iniquitous violence, as though they had been murderers[32].

What is interesting is that even though the bishops were willing to face the consequences of their resistance over the issue of Chalcedon, and so were entirely committed to the non-Chalcedonian position, at any cost. Nevertheless, they were also willing, while being men of such principles, to enter into a communion with the pro-Chalcedonians, in the hope that the issue of Chalcedon could be resolved. They were willing to bear with violence against themselves rather than accept Chalcedon, but they were also willing, in these circumstances, to enter into communion with those who still accepted Chalcedon on the basis of the common faith.

John of Ephesus wishes it to be understood that his description of these events is that of an eye-witness, and one who was personally involved, being one of these four bishops, and so he insists…

The writer of all these details was no stranger to the conflict, nor remote from the struggle, who, far away, upon report and by hearsay of others set down and described these events; but that he was one of those marshalled in the battle, and who, in earnest struggle equally with the rest, or even more so, manfully endured these sufferings, and patiently bore the pain of persecution and imprisonment: and let them know too, that not only the short summary contained in this book was spoken in argument with the king and patriarch, but a hundred times more besides, which however he has omitted, for fear of making the narrative too long, and crowding it with Words without end[33].

Since John of Ephesus participated in these events, his own reporting is especially valuable. Not least because he also was one of those who made a principled stand against Chalcedon, while also being willing to even enter into communion for the sake of unity if it was possible, and as a test of the sincerity of John Scholasticus. John of Ephesus had been an important agent of the Emperor Justinian in his religious policies and had been able to observe first-hand the events at the centre of the Empire for many decades, long before this controversy and outbreak of violent persecution. His record of conversations held in the court may therefore be given credence, not least since his own involvement in these affairs had led to criticism from the non-Chalcedonian community, as has been described, which he could very easily have passed over in silence.

In the last years of Justin II’s reign, and as these events were coming to a conclusion in exile, he began to suffer from increasing bouts of insanity. These are reported by John of Ephesus, but Evagrius Scholasticus also describes them, saying…

On being informed of these events, Justin, in whose mind no sober and considerate thoughts found place after so much inflation and pride, and who did not bear what had befallen him with resignation suited to a human being, falls into a state of frenzy, and becomes unconscious of all subsequent transactions[34].

These events were the invasion of the Eastern provinces of Syria by the Persian leader Chosroes I, and the loss of various cities in 573 A.D. Justin II had been warned of the approaching Persian armies, but Evagrius says of him…

He made no preparation for war, but was involved in his habitual luxury, regarding everything as secondary to his personal enjoyments[35].

This does perhaps give some explanation for how it was that John Scholasticus was able to act with great impunity for a time, towards the non-Chalcedonians. As an illustration of his luxurious way of life, it was at the height of the controversy over the re-ordination of the non-Chalcedonians, Justin II left the capital to spend a month at the hot-baths.

It was not only these four bishops who bore the weight of the pressures to enter into communion with John Scholasticus. At this same period John of Ephesus records…

In the midst of the persecution a missive was sent to Alexandria, the chief seat of the orthodox, requiring the presence of certain of their learned men and jurists, or, as they were then called, sophists and scholastics, and with them many others, including some of their great shipowners, the most powerful class in that wealthy city. Their secret purpose in requiring their presence was to compel them to communicate with the synod, but their pretext was the wish to consult how they might best restore the unity of the church. And in fact they did treat with them in both ways, but finally required them to communicate. But they refused, and resisted for many days, or rather for a whole year, manfully, nor would they give way or submit in the least. And, finally, they were let go, because those in authority were afraid to proceed to acts of open violence, as the capital depended upon Alexandria for its supplies of wheat. A few, however, of them were detained for a period of three years, but when they proved inflexible, all alike were set free[36].

In this passage, describing the period from 571 A.D. to as late as 574 A.D., we see that others were brought to Constantinople, from Alexandria itself. These were Christian scholars, canonists, and leading members of the laity. These were also detained and held in circumstances which might encourage them to enter the communion of John Scholasticus. They were held for a year at least, and some of them for three years. What is especially interesting is that none of these seem to have been faced with a requirement to be baptised, or chrismated again. They were to enter into communion in the same manner as practiced with the clergy, that is by simply receiving communion. But the fact of Chalcedon remained the stumbling block, not any difference of faith.

It was at this time that Justin II elevated Tiberius, one of his leading generals and a friend for many years, to the rank of Caesar, with the intention that he would bring some stability to the government of the Empire. The senate insisted that there be some competent Imperial leadership, and in his moments of lucidity even Justin agreed to this. Justin II was increasingly unwell, and John of Ephesus reports some of the behaviour which he exhibited, saying…

His mind was agitated and darkened, and his body given over both to secret and open tortures and cruel agonies, so that he even uttered the cries of various animals, and barked like a dog, and bleated like a goat; and then he would mew like a cat, and then again crow like a cock: … he rushed about in furious haste from place to place, and crept, if he could, under the bed, and hid himself among the pillows; and then, when the horror came upon him, he would rush out with hot and violent speed, and run to the windows to throw himself down. And his attendants, in spite of their  respect for him as king, had to run after him, and lay hold of him, to prevent him from dashing himself down and being killed: and the queen was obliged to give orders for carpenters to come, and fix bars in the windows, and close them up on the whole of that side of the palace on which the king lived… In this disordered state of the king’s intellect, those about him devised various kinds of amusements, both to divert his attention, and in the hope of restoring him to the use of his reason. The most successful of these was a little wagon, with a throne upon it for him to sit upon, and having placed him on it, his chamberlains drew him about, and ran with him backwards and forwards for a long time, while he, in delight and admiration at their speed, desisted from many of his absurdities. Another was an organ, which they kept almost constantly playing day and night near his chamber; and as long as he heard the sound of the tunes which it played he remained quiet, but occasionally even then a sudden horror would come upon him, and he would break out into cries, and be guilty of strange actions.[37].

John Scholasticus, who remained Patriarch of Constantinople, had not ceased in his efforts to bring about unity by force, if necessary, and to eliminate the non-Chalcedonians if unity could not be established. John now approached Tiberius, hoping that he could persuade him to begin again an open persecution. We learn…

After he had exhausted his arguments against the believers, the Caesar replied, ‘Tell me now the truth: who are these persons about whom you ask me, and whom you urge me to persecute? are they heathens?’ The patriarch, knowing that deceit was impossible, answered, ‘Heathens’ they are not.’ ‘What then,’ said he, ‘are they heretics?’ ‘No, my lord,’ he replied, ‘neither are they heretics.’ ‘Well then,’ said he, ‘as you yourself bear witness, they are Christians.’ ‘They are so indeed,’ he replied, ‘ Christians of the Christians.’ ‘If then, as you bear witness,’ said the Caesar, ‘they are Christians, why do you urge me to persecute Christians, as if I were a Diocletian, or one of those old heathen kings? Go, sit in thy church, and be quiet, and do not trouble me again with such things[38].

This passage shows us very clearly that after 574 A.D. and before 578 A.D. when Tiberius became Emperor himself, even a very hostile witness such as John Scholasticus, when pressed, had to admit that the non-Chalcedonians he was still seeking to persecute were neither heathens, nor heretics. He was forced to state, in his words, that the non-Chalcedonians were Christians of the Christians. Of course this was already clear, because apart from the deeply controversial and offensive period when he attempted to re-ordain non-Chalcedonian clergy, he had always been willing to enter into communion on the basis of sharing communion in the Holy Mysteries, and the Edict of the Emperor Justin II, which he had a hand in composing, was entirely acceptable to both sides, and represented a shared faith, other than it failed to deal with the issue of Chalcedon.

At the very end, as John Scholasticus also succumbed to painful illness, his supporters urged him once more to engage in persecution against the non-Chalcedonians. John of Ephesus reports them coming to him…

His adherents and the ministers of his wickedness, as if knowing his will, went unto him, and said, ‘Lo! once again these enemies of the church and synod have opened the doors of their meeting-houses, and are spreading more than ever, and rejoice in your sickness, and pray for your death. But if you will give us the command, we will torture them more sharply than at the first, and heap evils upon them.’ But he in wrath, and with loud voice, resisted them, saying, ‘Depart from me, you murderers, and be content with my humiliation; for it is you who have chiefly brought me to this miserable state. There are curses enough already uttered, which have roused and brought down upon me the wrath of Heaven. Away with you, and let no man ever mention this subject again in my presence.’ And so, they departed humbled from before him. And thus then, as we have said, both before his death, which was not long delayed, and after his death, the congregations of the believers once again met in full security[39].

At the end of his life, in about 577 A.D. it seems that John Scholasticus had finally ceased his active efforts to persecute or eliminate the non-Chalcedonians. The non-Chalcedonian communities in the city were able to establish themselves again, but John was no longer able to find the energy or determination to do much about them. Indeed, he seems to have considered his final debilitating illness a judgement on his behaviour in the past. This period of 6 years, from 571 A.D to 577 A.D. was unusual in the experience of the non-Chalcedonians. It had not been the case that they had been challenged with a requirement to submit to re-ordination before. But, even in this period of violence it is clear that it was accepted that both sides had the same faith, and that the restoration of communion was effected simply be sharing in the Holy Mysteries. The very fact that John Scholasticus tried to re-ordain clergy caused scandal on both sides, since the only possible canonical justification was that the non-Chalcedonians were not even Trinitarian. This was unsupported by evidence and experience. The Edict of Justin II was entirely acceptable to both sides who shared a substantially common faith but were still unable to resolve the issue of Chalcedon.

In this period, 120 years after Chalcedon, it was clear that both the pro and non-Chalcedonians had the same Orthodox Faith, and were able to enter into communion, with whatever practical difficulties, on the basis of that same Orthodox Faith. This firmly contradicts any idea that either the pro or non-Chalcedonians traditionally viewed each other as non-Christian, or even so heretical that unity was impossible. It certainly contradicts the idea that either pro or non-Chalcedonian Christians should be received by the other community by any means other than confession of Faith and communion in the Holy Mysteries. Anything else is not traditional at all and is not based in the real experience of history at all.

As a final note. John Scholasticus died in 577 A.D. just before Justin II, and Patriarch Eutychius was restored to his See, after being expelled because he had refused to accept the heretical aphthartodocetism of Justinian. He found himself encouraged by those who had become used to practicing persecution, and who had been turned away at last by John Scholasticus, to begin himself to persecute the non-Chalcedonians. John of Ephesus writes…

When his successor, Eutychius, returned to his throne, being incited by those clergy who had become habituated to plunder and rapine, he also had an audience with the serene Tiberius Constantinus Caesar, and spoke much against the whole party of the believers. But he gave him also for answer; ‘We have enough to do with the wars against the barbarians, which surround us on every side: —we cannot stir up another war against Christians. Go and sit quiet. If however, by word and admonition, you can persuade them, do so: but if not, let them alone, and do not persecute them, nor trouble me, who am exposed to the attacks of war from every quarter.’ And so he also was rebuffed for the present, and kept quiet[40].

At the end of this eventful period of years, this was the view of the Emperor Tiberius. These are Christians, they are not to be the subject of persecution and violence but of persuasion if possible. Otherwise, leave them alone. This was already, in the years after Chalcedon, the model for a proper engagement between these two communities. It had been the experience of the non-Chalcedonians for forty years before this persecution broke out, and it represented and represents, the proper relations between these communities today. Equally Christian, equally Orthodox, sharing the same Faith, still struggling to find a way to deal with the issue of Chalcedon, but only a shared participation in the Holy Mysteries away from unity and communion.

[1] Evagrius Scholasticus, Ecclesiastical History. Book IV. Chapter XXXIX. trans. E. Walford 1846

[2] Evagrius Scholasticus, Ecclesiastical History. Book IV. Chapter XL. trans. E. Walford 1846

[3] John of Ephesus, Ecclesiastical History, Part 3. Book 1, Chapter 5. trans. R. Payne Smith 1860

[4] John of Ephesus, Lives of the Eastern Saints, Chapter XLVIII. trans. E.W. Brooks 1925

[5] John of Ephesus, Ecclesiastical History, Part 3. Book 3, Chapter 1. trans. R. Payne Smith 1860

[6] John of Ephesus, Ecclesiastical History, Part 3. Book 1, Chapter 5. trans. R. Payne Smith 1860

[7] John of Ephesus, Ecclesiastical History, Part 3. Book 1, Chapter 9. trans. R. Payne Smith 1860

[8] John of Ephesus, Ecclesiastical History, Part 3. Book 1, Chapter 10. trans. R. Payne Smith 1860

[9] John of Ephesus, Ecclesiastical History, Part 3. Book 1, Chapter 11. trans. R. Payne Smith 1860

[10] John of Ephesus, Ecclesiastical History, Part 3. Book 1, Chapter 11. trans. R. Payne Smith 1860

[11] John of Ephesus, Ecclesiastical History, Part 3. Book 1, Chapter 12. trans. R. Payne Smith 1860

[12] John of Ephesus, Ecclesiastical History, Part 3. Book 1, Chapter 12. trans. R. Payne Smith 1860

[13] John of Ephesus, Ecclesiastical History, Part 3. Book 2, Chapter 42. trans. R. Payne Smith 1860

[14] John of Ephesus, Ecclesiastical History, Part 3. Book 1, Chapter 15. trans. R. Payne Smith 1860

[15] John of Ephesus, Ecclesiastical History, Part 3. Book 1, Chapter 16. trans. R. Payne Smith 1860

[16] John of Ephesus, Ecclesiastical History, Part 3. Book 1, Chapter 16. trans. R. Payne Smith 1860

[17] John of Ephesus, Ecclesiastical History, Part 3. Book 1, Chapter 16. trans. R. Payne Smith 1860

[18] John of Ephesus, Ecclesiastical History, Part 3. Book 1, Chapter 16. trans. R. Payne Smith 1860

[19] Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers, Series II. Volume 14. p40. trans. Henry R. Percival 1899

[20] Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers, Series II. Volume 4. P370. 1891

[21] John of Ephesus, Ecclesiastical History, Part 3. Book 1, Chapter 16. trans. R. Payne Smith 1860

[22] John of Ephesus, Ecclesiastical History, Part 3. Book 1, Chapter 17. trans. R. Payne Smith 1860

[23] John of Ephesus, Ecclesiastical History, Part 3. Book 1, Chapter 18. trans. R. Payne Smith 1860

[24] John of Ephesus, Ecclesiastical History, Part 3. Book 1, Chapter 18. trans. R. Payne Smith 1860

[25] John of Ephesus, Ecclesiastical History, Part 3. Book 1, Chapter 18. trans. R. Payne Smith 1860

[26] Evagrius Scholasticus, Ecclesiastical History. Book V. Chapter IV. trans. E. Walford 1846

[27] Evagrius Scholasticus, Ecclesiastical History. Book V. Chapter IV. trans. E. Walford 1846

[28] Evagrius Scholasticus, Ecclesiastical History. Book V. Chapter IV. trans. E. Walford 1846

[29] John of Ephesus, Ecclesiastical History, Part 3. Book 1, Chapter 21. trans. R. Payne Smith 1860

[30] John of Ephesus, Ecclesiastical History, Part 3. Book 1, Chapter 24. trans. R. Payne Smith 1860

[31] John of Ephesus, Ecclesiastical History, Part 3. Book 1, Chapter 24. trans. R. Payne Smith 1860

[32] John of Ephesus, Ecclesiastical History, Part 3. Book 1, Chapter 29. trans. R. Payne Smith 1860

[33] John of Ephesus, Ecclesiastical History, Part 3. Book 1, Chapter 30. trans. R. Payne Smith 1860

[34] Evagrius Scholasticus, Ecclesiastical History. Book V. Chapter XI. trans. E. Walford 1846

[35] Evagrius Scholasticus, Ecclesiastical History. Book V. Chapter VII. trans. E. Walford 1846

[36] John of Ephesus, Ecclesiastical History, Part 3. Book 1, Chapter 33. trans. R. Payne Smith 1860

[37] John of Ephesus, Ecclesiastical History, Part 3. Book 3, Chapter 2. trans. R. Payne Smith 1860

[38] John of Ephesus, Ecclesiastical History, Part 3. Book 1, Chapter 37. trans. R. Payne Smith 1860

[39] John of Ephesus, Ecclesiastical History, Part 3. Book 1, Chapter 38. trans. R. Payne Smith 1860

[40] John of Ephesus, Ecclesiastical History, Part 3. Book 1, Chapter 37. trans. R. Payne Smith 1860

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