Council of Chalcedon

Council of Chalcedon
Although Pope Leo I, the Great, asked Theodosius II to summon a council for the definition of the orthodox doctrine once more, to bring an end to the ecclesiastical chaos, his request was refused. Shortly after Theodosius’ death his sister Pulcheria, marrying a senator and veteran soldier Marcian (450-57), became empress and in accordance with the Pope’s wish summoned a great council at the church of St. Euphemia in Chalcedon.

The participancy of some six hundred bishops at this council shows the extent of the displeasure that the Robbers Council had created in the eastern provinces. This was the greatest of the seven Ecumenical Councils, and in importance second to only the First Council of Nicaea. The council reconfirmed that Christ was a single person with two natures, one divine and one human. However, it was unable to define the relationship between the two natures which was the cause of the controversy. Thus both Nestorianism, which overstressed the human element in Christ, and Monophysitism, which overemphasized the divine at the expense of the human nature of Christ, were condemned.

The result did not satisfy either Alexandria or Antioch. Among the other decisions taken at the council – when the Roman delegates were absent – was the elevation of Constantinople to the level of Rome: ‘The See of Constantinople shall enjoy equal privileges with the See of Old Rome.’ This left Rome nothing but titular supremacy. In other words while the bishop of Rome might enjoy a primacy of honor in the Church universal, the bishop of Constantinople, the evident capital of what was left of the Roman empire, became his equal in authority.

This canon known as ‘Canon Twenty-Eight’ was strongly objected to by Rome and became one of the steps which ultimately led to the separation of the Churches of the East and West in 1054. The new position given to the church of Constantinople, combined with national and political factors, also alienated Egypt, Syria and Palestine from the empire.

Shortly after the council the Egyptian Monophysites elected their own patriarch in Alexandria, separate from the one assigned to the port by the capital, and took the first step for the foundation of the Egyptian Church which would be known as the Coptic Church. When the Moslem armies who believed in the single Person of Allah arrived in the seventh century, the Coptic Church readily submitted to them.

First Council of Nicaea Ecumenical Councils in Anatolia
First Council of Constantinople 
Council of Ephesus  
Council of Chalcedon
Second Council of Constantinople
Third Council of Constantinople
Second Council of Nicaea  

The church as established in the middle east has been established under the concept of unity IE catholic and or ecumenical. For the earliest Christian communities the concept of unity was one were the church communities agreed on a doctrinal understanding of Christianity. A doctrine based on the tradition of unity within the different ancient Christian communities. Unity established in what was taught to the communities by Christ and then his apostles. When various persons or groups within the many ancient Christian communities began to come to odds with innovations or interpretations of the tradition of Christianity the communities set out to clarify the validity of the variation in the comparison to traditional understanding. To establish why this change was to be accepted or rejected. As such was the case of the first council in Jerusalem. The later councils where prompted to clarify tradition and address what was proper and what was improper. Proper being what was established by Jesus Christ and then his apostles, then the Seventy and the clergy of the churches that take their linage directly back to the Apostolic era. Innovations being that which changed the understanding that Christian communities.