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Rise of Monophysite Movement Hardcover – December 29, 1972
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Frend does a good and fair job of defining the issue at hand. He is fair in his discussion of Monophysite Christology. He gives a brilliant discussion of the political and sociological issues that fed this controversy. For a Christian within the Eastern (Persian) Church, Frend's discussion of Cyril and Dioscorus points to their theological brilliance but only reinforces my basic dislike and even revulsion of them as men (what kind of fruit falls from such trees?). The bribery and political force they brought to bear against and upon their opponents is both breathtaking and revolting.
Frend helps the reader new to this material understand some of the fundamental differences in thought between western and eastern parts of the Roman Empire: Church/state relations and the role of monasticism within the church and culture are just two fine examples. I am reminded here of J. Gonzales' discussion of 'four types of theological method'. As is usual in the West, there is little discussion of the Church of the East perspective at the time.
This book was a pleasant read because it is so well written. I had the sense that this seemed like an extemporaneous discussion with a friend.
Monophysitism (Eutichianism) is mixed up with Orthodox Miaphysitism that challenged the Dyophisite Nestorian definition of Antioch. Cyril, as Athanasius, has taught in accordance with the trenched Orthodoxy of Alexandria that in Jesus there were not two natures (divine and human) but one united nature out of the Hypostatic union of the eternal Logos with Jesus humanity, at the moment of his conception by Mary, which made her bearer of God (Theotokos). Dispute of this belief was caused by a radical conceptual difference between the two Chrisologies, interpreted in Neoplatonic and Aristotalian philosophies. This was further clouded by misinterpretation of terms, and by the lack of knowledge of Greek in the West, and irrelevance of the issue in Rome.
Rise of Monophysite Movement:
This well searched, clearly written, and historically supported study, by the ultimate expert on the subject, examines the psychological milieu and sociopolitical background to those troubling two centuries, from the council of Ephesus in 431 to the defeat of the Byzantines by the advent of Islam into Syria, Palestine, and Egypt, the strongholds of Cyril-Severus Henophysite doctrine.
Contemporary sociologists and ecclesiastic history analysts view that the aftermath of Chalcedon was in principle a refutation to Leo's authority in the East, attacking his pseudo Nestorian expression. 'Monophysitism' could be regarded as a slow accumulating separatist movement in Syria, Egypt and Armenia, using words or articles (Ek & En) as an excuse. W.H. C. Frend supported this view, asserting that regional church identity (Copt, Jacobite, or Armenian) did not start right away, to imply otherwise, in Meyendorff expression Imperial unity endured Christian divisions.
The Thematic Study:
Through this study, while professor Frend kept using the 'Mono' conventional expression, the inquisitive reader can appreciate how religion was an influential medium through which the unity of the Empire was sought disregarding provincial church traditions. Frend's work does not limit its scope to the history of the Christian doctrine only, but discusses issues raised by the third and fourth councils (1st Ephesus & Chalcedon) that influenced life in Byzantium's eastern provinces of the Roman Empire, in the fifth and sixth centuries. Frend provides an articulate examination of the doctrinal issues that were essential to the unity of the Early Church, following a deeper understanding of the history of the fifth and sixth centuries.
William H.C. Frend:
Professor Frend was Dean of the Divinity Faculty of the University of Glasgow from 1972 to 1975, and Emeritus Professor of Ecclesiastical History, who has devoted more than fifty years to the study of the Early Church and is one of the leading English-speaking church historians.
He is also the author of: The Donatist Church, The Early Church, The Archaeology of Early Christianity, and The Rise of Christianity, and the author of 'Monophysitism' in the 8-volume Coptic Encyclopedia.