Nestorius

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Nestorius (in Greek: Νεστόριος; c. 386 – c. 451) was Archbishop of Constantinople from 10 April 428 to 22 June 431. Drawing on his studies at the School of Antioch he devised a doctrine that later bore his name, Nestorianism, which emphasized the disunity of the human and divine natures of Christ. His teachings, which included a rejection of the long-used title of Theotokos ("Mother of God") for the Virgin Mary, brought him into conflict with other prominent churchmen of the time, most notably Cyril of Alexandria, who accused him of heresy. Nestorius sought to defend himself at the First Council of Ephesus in 431, but instead he found himself formally condemned for heresy and removed from his see. Thereafter he retired to a monastery, where he asserted his orthodoxy for the rest of his life. Despite his acquiescence, many of his supporters split with the rest of the church in the Nestorian Schism, and over the next decades a number of them relocated to Persia. Thereafter Nestorianism became the official position of the Church of the East.

Contents

Early life

Nestorius was born in 386 in Germanicia in the Roman province of Syria (now Kahramanmaraş in Turkey).[1] He received his clerical training as a pupil of Theodore of Mopsuestia in Antioch and gained a reputation for his sermons that led to his enthronement by Theodosius II as Archbishop following the death of Sisinnius I in 428.

Nestorian controversy

Shortly after his arrival in Constantinople, Nestorius became involved in the disputes of two theological factions, which differed in their Christology. Nestorius tried to find a middle ground between those that emphasized the fact that in Christ God had been born as a man, insisted on calling the Virgin Mary Theotokos (Greek: Θεοτόκος, "God-bearer"), and those that rejected that title because God as an eternal being could not have been born. Nestorius suggested the title Christotokos (Χριστοτόκος, "Christ-bearer"), but did not find acceptance on either side.

Nestorius believed that no union between the human and divine were possible. If such a union of human and divine occurred, Nestorius believed that Christ could not truly be con-substantial with God and con-substantial with us because he would grow, mature, suffer and die (which he said God cannot do) and also would possess the power of God that would separate him from being equal to humans.

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