Episode 40. Disintegration

In this episode we go through the period between 565 AD and 578 AD, a chaotic period in the history of the Copts, where the Egyptian church was disintegrating into various factions

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  1. The Rise of the Monophysite Movement. W.H.C Frend
  2. The Early Coptic Papacy. Steven J. Davis
  3. The Story of the Church of Egypt. E.L. Butcher
  4. The History of the Patriarchs. in English, translation of 13th century “Vulgate” version by B. Evetts . Available at: http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/severus_hermopolis_hist_alex_patr_01_part1.htm#FIRST_PREFACE
  5. The Coptic Encyclopedia. Edited by Aziz A. Atiya. Available at: http://ccdl.libraries.claremont.edu/cdm/landingpage/collection/cce
  6. The Chronicles of John, Bishop of Nikiu. John of Nikiu. Translated by R. H. Charles. Available at: http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/nikiu1_intro.htm
 Music credit: Lullaby of Democracy. Doctor Turtle
Justin the 2nd Miaphysite edict


“In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, our God, the Emperor Caesar Flavian Justin, faithful in Christ, clement, supreme, beneficent, Alemannicus, Gothicus, Germanicus, Anticus, Francicus, Herulicus, Gepidicus, pious, fortunate, glorious, victorious, triumphant, ever-worshipful Augustus.


“My peace I give to you,’ says the Lord Christ, our very God. ‘My peace I leave to you,’ he also proclaims to all mankind. Now this is nothing else than that those who believe on him should gather into one and the same church, being unanimous concerning the true belief of Christians, and withdrawing from such as affirm or entertain contrary opinions: for the prime means of salvation for all men is the confession of the right faith.

Wherefore we also, following the evangelical precepts and the holy symbol or doctrine of the holy fathers, exhort all persons to unite in one and the same church and sentiment; and this we do, believing in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, holding the doctrine of a consubstantial Trinity, one Godhead or nature and substance, both in terms and reality; one power, influence, and operation in three subsistences or persons; into which doctrine we were baptized, in which we believe, and to which we have united ourselves. For we worship a Unity in trinity and a Trinity in unity, peculiar both in its division and in its union, being Unity in respect of substance or Godhead, and Trinity with regard to its proprieties or subsistences or persons; for it is divided indivisibly, so to speak, and is united divisibly: for there is one thing in three, namely, the Godhead; and the three things are one, namely, those in which is the Godhead, or, to speak more accurately, which are the Godhead: and we acknowledge the Father to be God, the Son God, and the Holy Spirit God, whenever each person is regarded by itself—-the thought in that case separating the things that are inseparable—-and the three when viewed in conjunction to be God by sameness of motion and of nature; inasmuch as it is proper both to confess the one God, and at the same time to proclaim the three subsistences or proprieties.
We also confess the only begotten Son of God, the God-Word, who, before the ages and without time, was begotten of the Father, not made, and who, in the last of the days, for our sakes and for our salvation, descended from heaven, and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and of our Lady, the holy glorious Mother of God and ever virgin Mary, and was born of her; who is our Lord Jesus Christ, one of the Holy Trinity, united in glorification with the Father and the Holy Spirit: for the Holy Trinity did not admit the addition of a fourth person, even when one of the Trinity, the God-Word, had become incarnate; but our Lord Jesus Christ is one and the same, being consubstantial with God the Father, as respects the Godhead, and at the same time consubstantial with ourselves as respects the manhood; passible in the flesh, and at the same time impassible in the Godhead: for 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; inasmuch as it was not a human being that gave himself on our behalf; but the God-Word himself, becoming man without undergoing change, submitted in the flesh to the voluntary passion and death on our behalf.
Accordingly, while confessing him to be God, we do not contravene the circumstance of his being man; and while confessing him to be man, we do not deny the fact of his being God: whence, while confessing our Lord Jesus Christ to be one and the same, composed of both natures, namely, the Godhead and the manhood, we do not superinduce confusion upon the union; for he will not lose the circumstance of being God on becoming man like ourselves ; nor yet, in being by nature God, and in that respect incapable of likeness to us, will he also decline the circumstance of being man. But as he continued God in manhood; in like manner, though possessed of divine supremacy, he is no less man; being both in one, God and man at the same time, one Emmanuel. Further, while confessing him to be at the same time perfect in Godhead and perfect in manhood, of which two he was also composed, we do not attach to his one complex subsistence a division by parts or severance ; but we signify that the difference of the natures is not annulled by the union: for neither was the divine nature changed into the human, nor the human nature converted into the divine; but, each being the more distinctly understood and existent in the limit and relation of its own nature, we say that the union took place according to subsistence. The union according to subsistence signifies, that the God-Word, that is to say one subsistence of the three subsistences of the Godhead, was not united with a previously existing human being, but in the womb of our Lady, the holy glorious Mother of God and ever virgin Mary, formed for himself of her, in his own subsistence, flesh consubstantial with ourselves, having the same passions in all respects except sin, and animated with a reasonable and intelligent soul; for he retained his subsistence in himself, and became man, and is one and the same, our Lord Jesus Christ, united in glorification with the Father and the Holy Spirit.
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: and all who have held or do hold opinions at variance with these, we anathematize, judging them to be alien from the Holy and Apostolic Church of God. Accordingly, while the right doctrines which have been delivered to us by the holy fathers are being thus proclaimed, we exhort you all to gather into one and the same Catholic and Apostolic Church, or rather we even entreat you; for though possessed of imperial supremacy, we do not decline the use of such a term, in behalf of the unanimity and union of all Christians, in the universal offering of one doxology to our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, and in abstinence for the future on the part of all from unnecessary disputes about persons and words—-since the words lead to one true belief and understanding—-while the usage and form which has hitherto prevailed in the holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of God, remains for ever unshaken and unchanged.”


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