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|Additional Physical Format:||Online version:
Council of Constantinople (2nd : 553)
Acts of the Council of Constantinople of 553.
Liverpool : Liverpool University Press, 2009
|All Authors / Contributors:||
|Language Note:||Translated from Latin or Greek.|
|Description:||2 volumes : maps ; 22 cm.|
|Contents:||volume 1. General introduction, Letters and edicts, Sessions I-V --
volume 2. Sessions VI- VIII, Vigilius, Constituta, Appendices, Maps, Glossary, Bibliography, Indices.
|Series Title:||Translated texts for historians, v. 51.|
|Responsibility:||translated with an introduction and notes by Richard Price.|
THE translation of texts, even when joined by annotations and commentary as extensive as in these two volumes, is, so I was once reliably told, not favoured by official Assessors of Research in British universities. If true, how absurd! The translations in this series have notably improved historical understanding and none, I think, more so than those edited by Richard Price, who here gives us the Acts of a much misunderstood council along with accompanying documents. I list and partly expound the contents. There is, first: an English translation of the minutes of the council, mostly from the surviving Latin in the absence of the Greek originals. This is preceded, after a lengthy general introduction dealing with the church-historical matters and theological issues at stake, by translations of two letters from Africa important for understanding the pained reception there of Pope Vigilius' attitude to the proposed condemnation of the 'Three Chapters' (viz. the works of Theodore of Mopsuestia en bloc, the anti-Cyrilline polemics of Theodoret, and the Letter of Ibas, denouncing Cyril, to Mari); of Justinian's edict On the Orthodox Faith; of three letters explanatory of Vigilius' treatment in Constantinople and of problems with his flock; of three important pieces, Vigilius' two Constituta and second letter to Eutychius in which the Pope eventually condemns the Three Chapters and the long process of aligning papal and imperial wills reaches a conclusion (after a fashion); and, as an appendix, of the anti-Origenist Canons (543 and 553) and Justinian's letter to the council denouncing the same Origen's abominable opinions. There follow notes on the attendance lists, maps, and bibliography (from which valuable and extensive list I am slightly surprised to note absent the article by Michel van Esbroeck, JTS, NS 38 , pp. 129-35, where the 'Mari' to whom Ibas wrote his controversial letter is, I had supposed reliably, placed; if I supposed wrongly I could have wished to be corrected). To list the documents here exposes some of the critical issues raised by the council with which the editor must deal. First, why do the Acts survive entire only in Latin? Richard Price's answer neatly tells the tale of how, when the next oecumenical council met in 680, the confirmation of its predecessor ran into difficulties because Vigilius had (certainly) used the now discredited phrase 'single energy' of the incarnate Christ and the text of the Acts had (very probably) been tampered with elsewhere. The tampering occasioned the production of a bowdlerized second edition of the Acts which again was allegedly interfered with. The Greek manuscript tradition having been discredited and well nigh lost, 'it is sheer luck that the Latin version of the text survived in the West'. That Latin version has the strange renderings of the Greek original, as Richard Price points out, characteristic of the genre. His own English translation is, I judge from the soundings I have taken, reliable (an adjective which does not partake of degrees or require qualification). The minutes of the meetings do not have the verve and excitement of Chalcedon's. There is plenty of drama in the whole conciliar event but it takes place offstage and there are not those episcopal quarrels about ordinations and pensions for displaced clergy and the like which make the non-doctrinal sessions at Chalcedon such fun to read and so instructive. That is partly compensated for by the report of a synod at Mopsuestia in 550 which attested that Theodore never had been venerated in the diptychs there: it illuminates the logistics of the Mopsuestian clergy. As for the doctrinal issues of the opposing Christologies of Cyril and Theodore and the consequent status of Cyril's Twelve Chapters, these are amply dealt with in the general introduction. The council also condemned Origenist teachings in canons not included in the Acts, which repeated those issued ten years before. That Justinian's authority lay behind the condemnation both of the Three Chapters and of the Origenist theses is abundantly plain. Whether, and if so how, the two condemnations are linked is obscure. Richard Price works hard on the problem but I find the matter no clearer at the end. The emperor certainly had a tidy and bureaucratic mind and thought it appropriate to settle two problems at once. Perhaps that is the most that can be said and it is futile to delve deeper for an intrinsic and/or extrinsic connection; but I salute a good try. (Friends of Origen who resent, or even unwisely doubt, the condemnation or its validity may console themselves with the window to him in Emmanuel College Chapel, Cambridge.) Much to be valued is the account Richard Price gives of the two important persons in the drama, most of which, as I have remarked, takes place offstage: Vigilius and Justinian. The lights and shades in the portrait of the first are well caught. It was (one can imagine a prosecuting counsel saying) a disgraceful and cowardly thing to take flight from Rome and a city under threat of siege; no wonder that the hostile crowd of abandoned churchpeople resented it and pelted him. It served him right that he was available for exploitation by a clever and subtle emperor. But he was made to suffer for it and he did not, in the end, betray his office even if he wriggled and tried unsuccessfully to deceive. In Justinian we meet a confident and competent theologian, even though, as with all royal compositions, one can never be quite sure who wrote them. Everybody who discusses him since Schwartz speaks of the 'zigzag' policy on church unity, meaning that he favoured now the non-Chalcedonians, now the Chalcedonians. Certainly he tried hard to secure church unity after the Acacian schism and, I think, can be credited with a high degree of success. Richard Price sees in the decisions of the council of 553 an attempt not so much to conciliate the opponents of Chalcedon (for that was by then clearly impossible) as to clarify the decisions of its predecessor and define their true extent. Not only, and not principally, are the non-Chalcedonians in view; the aim is to show Chalcedonians what they are committed to. They were committed to the Twelve Chapters of Cyril and that meant rejection of their opponents, Theodoret and Ibas, along with Theodore, who was behind the Nestorian error in the first place. I find this convincing as I do all the main judgements of Richard Price. Not only so, but there are many amusing and clever asides which make these two volumes not only an important contribution to historical scholarship and research but a pleasure to read. Journal of Theological Studies 201010 Following his universally acclaimed translation of the acts of the Council of Chalcedon (2005) Richard Price has now produced a two-volume set with the translation of the acts of the Council of Constantinople, held in 553, and including much additional material from the so-called Three Chapters Controversy for which this council is the decisive event. The translation is, where I checked, reliable and always highly readable in English. It represents yet another significant achievement of almost equal importance to that of the translation of the acts of Chalcedon, even though, or perhaps rather, especially because, the council of 553 is less well known outside a small circle of specialists. Very helpfully, therefore, a general introduction of 108 pages not only offers the necessarily technical description of the available texts and versions here translated, but also sets out lucidly and succinctly the ecclesiastical politics and theological problems at stake. Later on individual texts receive more specific introduction, adding many important insights. The volumes further include maps, indices of persons and documents, a glossary for the uninitiated into the theology and ecclesiastical affairs of the time, and an extensive up-to-date bibliography, which between them offer various gateways into the documents, topics and scholarly debates for the non-specialist, and have much to offer for those who have already puzzled over the theological and historical questions of the council, Emperor Justinian's religious policies and the competing theologies. The Constantinopolitan Council of 553 - the fifth ecumenical council- is in many ways related to that of Chalcedon and reflects the century of discussion and controversy about that council's achievement, or otherwise, and the dramatic developments in the Churches between the mid-fifth century and the times of Justinian. By the time that Justinian convened it, the complex issues became condensed in the controversy over the so-called Three Chapters. Justinian proposed, taking up a suggestion made by the so-called Miaphysites (Non-Chalcedonians) a few years earlier, to condemn three items: the person and writings of Theodore of Mopsuestia (the forefather of 'Antiochene' theology), specific writings of Theodoret of Cyrus (d. c. 460) directed against Cyril of Alexandria and the (part-) Council of Ephesus (431) under his leadership, and the Letter of Ibas to Mari the Persian, another denunciation of that council and of Cyril. The proposed condemnation attracted much resistance particularly in the Churches of Africa and the west, where the idea of a posthumous condemnation of persons deceased in the peace of the Church was criticised on principle and where the move was feared to fatally undermine the Council of Chalcedon (and with it Pope Leo), which had seemingly endorsed Theodoret and Ibas. Pope Vigilius initially wrote against the condemnation, but was cajoled and coerced into agreeing to it eventually, causing a protracted and bitter schism in the west. This fascinating but convoluted story can be traced in Price's translation of a selection of documents: (1) letters from Africa that show the grievances and objections there before the council; (2)Justin's Edict on the Orthodox Faith of551, which very much predetermined the later course of action at the council; (3) letters by Pope Vigilius of the time; (4) the acts of the council itself, meeting in six sessions in May and June 553; and (5) Vigilius's two constituta, that is two lengthy and elaborate examinations of the case of the Three Chapters, the first despite a very full rebuttal in particular of the heterodoxies of Theodore refusing to assent to their condemnation - and therefore not preserved with the acts; the second agreeing under immense pressure to do just that; and a terse but revealing letter to the Constantinopolitan Patriarch Eutychius announcing his de facto capitulation. (An appendix adds the canons of the con-demnation of Origen whose relation to this controversy remains obscure.) With these texts the collection reaches significantly beyond the protocols and the documentation preserved in the Latin edition (the original Greek is lost) of the acts of the council In so doing it renders an invaluable service to the historical understanding of the council and its political and theological contexts. Much of the drama happened offstage, with Justinian and Vigilius the main protagonists. The records of the official sessions of the council reveal very little about the struggles behind closed doors and appear at times rather pale. In large parts they relied on documents drawn up in advance and appear occasionally almost scripted or stage-managed. The documents presented here at least allow a glimpse behind the stage. In Price's interpretation of the central questions of the politics and theology of Justinian and the council two related elements deserve particular attention. Building on suggestions (not only) from eastern orthodox scholarship Price rejects more conventional views that it was Justinian's policy to accommodate the NonChalcedonian Christians and to compromise over Chalcedon in the hope of increased internal stability of the empire. Rather the emperor mounted a strong defence of the Council of Chalcedon by hedging it with the condemnations of the Three Chapters. Yet in so doing he also committed the Chalcedonians to the more radical statements of Cyril, including his Twelve Chapters against Nestorius. Theologically, the advocated reading of the Christology originally outlined at Chalcedon a century earlier was, to Price, the real and necessary clarification of issues left unresolved there, and was, moreover, also fundamentally in the spirit of the original sentiments and decrees of that council. According to this view, the theology of the council of 553 may seem less' new' than the debate over its so-called 'Neo-Chalcedonianism' suggests and is certainly not, to Price, to be juxtaposed to an imaginary original, 'pure' Chalcedonian orthodoxy. Implied in this is a more sympathetic hearing of 'miaphysite' arguments and positions than is traditionally granted. This assessment merits, and requires, serious scholarly discussion. Overall, Price must be congratulated for a translation that will remain indispensable both for historians and for scholars of historical theology. , -- Thomas Graumann, Faculty of Divinity, Cambride The Journal of Ecclesiastical History, Volume 62/3 201107 Price must be congratulated for a translation that will remain indispensable both for historians and for scholars of historical theology. The Journal of Ecclesiastical History, Volume 62/3 201107 There are many amusing and clever asides which make these two volumes not only an important contribution to historical scholarship and research but a pleasure to read. -- Lionel Wickham Journal of Theological Studies Chalcedon in Context: Church Councils 400-700. Edited by Richard Price and Mary Whitby. Translated Texts for Historians, Contexts 1. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press. 2009. vii + 205 pp. GBP65. ISBN 978 1 84631 177 2. The Acts of the Council of Constantinople of 553 with Related Texts on the Three Chapters Controversy. Translated with an introduction and notes by Richard Price. Translated Texts for istorians 51. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press. 2009. xiv + 717 pp. GBP120. ISBN 978 1 84631 178 9. The welcome debt historians owe to Richard Price and his collaborators continues to grow. The Acts of the Council of Chalcedon (2006), which he prepared with Michael Gaddis, disappeared quickly from conference book displays and was reissued again in paperback. Its three volumes include, not only a clear and reliable translation of the acts with commentary, but an excellent introduction, supporting documents, and useful maps, glossary, and indices. Now scholars may add a complete translation of The Acts of the Council of Constantinople of 553 to their personal libraries. Once again Price's extra labour in supplying detailed indices and an up-to-date bibliography makes this volume a valuable aid to research as well as an accessible introduction to the doctrinal and political issues surrounding the Fifth Ecumenical Council. Roughly a third of its contents consists of translations of important documents that helped to set the stage for the council, including letters from western clergy in reaction to Justinian's 544/5 edict against the so-called Three Chapters and the emperor's own follow-up edict On the Orthodox Faith from 551, and the two Constituta issued by the unfortunate Pope Vigilius, the first rejecting and the second accepting the emperor's position. The lengthy introduction situates the acts in their historical context 'on the road from Chalcedon'. Here Price also probes deeply into the politics constraining the bishops' deliberations and especially into the evolution of Justinian's strategy across the 540s and 550s: from first attempting to win over the eastern opponents to Chalcedon, the emperor shifted to muscling through a consensus among all its supporters in the east and west. Ironically, it would be the 'losers', those who refused to join the consensus, whose pejorative narrative would dominate the legacy of Constantinople. Price encourages historians to return to the documents themselves, which preserve voices on both sides of the contest. Doing so requires sensitivity to both their historical context and their 'literary character'. The acts, in particular, 'remain a credible record of a council whose proceedings, choreographed in advance, were more akin to liturgy than to a modern parliamentary debate'. Scholars and students could not have a better entry into those proceedings than this volume. Yet Price offers more. Many of the literary and textual issues he raises in the translations of Chalcedon and Constantinople are explored at length by the essays collected in Chalcedon in Context, which Price edited together with Mary Whitby. It is the first volume in a new companion series to Translated Texts for Historians, called Contexts. The purpose of the new series is to situate translation volumes 'in the framework of the latest scholarly debate with edited papers by leading researchers who have met to discuss problems and prospects'. The essays indeed provide an informative context that also serves as an introduction to key issues for the historical interpretation of church councils and their records. Several authors are drawing on their own previously published or forthcoming work, including a translation of the Lateran Council of 649 by Price and Catherine Cubitt. Most focus to varying degrees on ancient editorial practices, the importance of translation, and the influence of both ecclesiastical and secular politics on council proceedings. Together they give a good sense of the dynamic state of the field and point to numerous areas of ongoing investigation. The first essay is by David Gwynn on 'the definition of Christian tradition' between the Council of Nicaea (325) and the issue of the Henotikon (482). No one before 451 seems to have known of any 'Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed' as such but that did not stop the bishops at Chalcedon from taking it up as an authoritative complement to the Nicene Creed. Along with approving some of Cyril of Alexandria's writings and Leo the Great's Tome, they expanded Christian authoritative tradition to include more than Scripture alone. Focusing on the Council of Ephesus (431), Thomas Graumann addresses two related challenges that other essays also will tackle. First, it is often important but difficult to tell when texts were read aloud in the council and to what effect; the most consequential instance of this is Cyril's third letter to Nestorius. Second, editors made interventions in the record, not only for the sake of concision and clarity, but to shape the appearance of the proceedings, with the emperor not least envisioned among their audience. Fergus Millar picks up on the problem of editorial activity and even more on issues of language and translation in his detailed study of a Syriac translation of the acts of the second Council at Ephesus (449) from a manuscript dated to 535. With the aid of chronological tables of texts and events, he demonstrates how this translation fits into a moment of imperial goodwill toward non-Chalcedonian theology and into the early rise of a Christian Syriac literary culture. Andrew Louth returns to the Syrian perspective when he asks why, if Chalcedon was the culmination of conflict between Alexandrian and Antiochene schools of doctrine, did Syrian bishops come to reject Chalcedon along with the Egyptians? Louth argues that Cyril represented not an Alexandrian school but 'the broad consensus', which he went outside of his philosophical comfort zone to defend against Nestorius in the Twelve Chapters. One effect was to rouse the anger of Syrian bishops, who themselves had never constituted a school and whom the Henotikon later helped push to decisive renunciation by affirming the Twelve Chapters but not Chalcedon. Chalcedon is centre stage in two essays by Price. The first is a narrative that highlights, among other things, the presiding role of the imperial representative who, 'it is clear, thoroughly enjoyed his work', and how dynamics changed over successive sessions. In what might be read as a variation of Gwynn's argument, he characterizes the reception of Chalcedon's acts as a 'new conciliar fundamentalism', whereby the 'honest disclosure of tensions and agreements' became fodder for future disagreements. In the next chapter, Price goes on to test the honesty of those acts under three rubrics: truth, omission and fiction. Variations between the two extant versions of the acts, as well as close attention to subscription lists, are shown to reveal some cases of omission or fiction. Although unanimity was required of verdicts, the record of some disagreement might have been intended to validate the proceedings to non-participants or future generations (Graumann made a similar point in his essay). Three essays focus on later councils and their relationship to the 451 council. Chalcedon's authoritative status was made certain only in Justinian's reign, when first the emperor and then the second Council of Constantinople 'rewrote history with a will', trying to dispel ambiguity and resolve contradiction. According to Price, this 'reshaping of the historical record' was 'more the fruit of wishful thinking than deceit'. Catherine Cubitt's essay on the Lateran Council of 649 addresses key themes in this volume, especially the contest between imperial and Episcopal authority, the use of acts from earlier councils as proof texts, and the importance of language - the Lateran acts were issued in both Latin and Greek. If there is a big jump from Chalcedon to Constantinople to Rome, Judith Herrin demonstrates the immediacy of issues raised at Chalcedon for bishops assembled during 692 in what was called the Council in Trullo as well as the Quinisext Council. Herrin first traces the legacy of Chalcedon's canon 28, on the ecclesiastical status of Constantinople, in the context of canon lists and other collections circulating in the Greek east and Latin west. She then looks more closely at the form and function of such lists as the background to comparing the canons of Chalcedon and the Quinisext Council. The final two essays by Charlotte Roueche and Price return to scrutinizing the acts of Chalcedon in order to address two important subjects: the role as well as the recording of acclamations during council proceedings; and the degree to which those proceedings allowed room for 'bishops behaving badly'. Naturally, there is much overlap between these essays. The editors might have imposed more consistency and provided a fuller introduction or conclusion, one which highlights the common themes running through the volume. The maps and glossaries found in Price's translation volumes are missed and some considerable knowledge on the part of readers is occasionally taken for granted. Those who forget their Three Chapters may have trouble figuring out why Ibas of Edessa and Theodore of Mopsuestia are mentioned so often. Some may wonder why one contributor denounces the term miaphysite as a 'barbarity', when all other contributors prefer it to monophysite. In summary, more volumes in the Contexts series are most welcome. But they would be more broadly useful and long-lasting if they enjoyed the same editorial care that goes into the Translated Texts. For now, Price and his colleagues have supplied a wealth of ideas and resources for investigating the history of church councils. Ohio University KEVIN UHALDE Early Medieval Europe 2011 19 (3) -- Kevin Uhalde Early Medieval Europe 19 (3) 2011 Price's extra labour in supplying detailed indices and an up-to-date bibliography makes this volume a valuable aid to research as well as an accessible introduction to the doctrinal and political issues surrounding the Fifth Ecumenical Council. -- Kevin Uhalde Early Medieval Europe 19 (3) 2011