previous next


Εὐτύχης), a presbyter and abbot at Constantinople, in the 5th century, who headed the party opposed to the Nestorian doctrines [NESTORIUS]. Nestorius having maintained that there are in Christ two persons or substances (ν̔πσοστά σεις), one divine (the Λόγος), and one human (Jesus), but with only one aspect, and united not by nature, but by will and affection ;--Eutyches carried his opposition to this system so far as to assert that in Christ here is but one nature, that of the Incarnate Word. The declaration "the word was made flesh" implies, according to Eutyches, that He so took human nature upon Him, that His own nature was not changed. From this it follows that His body is not a mere human body, but a body of God. There can be no doubt that this doctrine, if pushed to its logical consequences, would he highly dangerous, since it would destroy all the practical benefits of our belief in in the Incarnation, as it involves the denial that we have a High Priest who can be touched with a feeling of our infirmities. If this is borne in mind, the horror which it excited can be accounted for; and although we do not know that Eutyches, any more than many other teachers of error, did carry out his principles to their practical conclusions, still the means which were adopted to support his cause were such as to prevent our feeling any sympathy with it. His opinions became popular in the Alexandrian Church, where the doctrines of Nestorius had been most loudly coindemned, and where the patriarch Dioscurus was eminently violent and unscrupulous. Eutycilea was first warned of his error privately by Eusebius, bishop of Dorylaeum, and was then denounced by him as a heretic, before a synod which assembled at Constantinople, under the presidency of Flavian, patriarch of that city. He was condemned, in spite of the extent of his influence at court, where Chrysaphius, eunuch and chief chamberlain to Theodosius II., was a close friend of Dioscurus, and godson to Eutyches. Besides this, Chrysaphis had a strong desire to crush the partisans of Pulcheria. the emperor's sister, who was warmly attached to Flavian. By his influence Theodosius was persuaded to declare himself dissatisfied with the decision of Flavian's synod, and to refer the matter to a general council, to meet at Ephesus, A. D. 449. under the presidency of Dioscurus. This is the celebrated λῃστρικὴ σύνοδος, an appellation which it most richly deserved. It was composed almost entirely of partisans of Eutyches. Flavian, and those who had judged him on the former occasion,though allowed to be present, were not to be suffered to vote. Theodoret, the historian, who had been a friend of Nestorius, was not to vote without the permission of Dioscurus; and a number of frantic Egyptian monks accompanied their abbot, Barsumas, to whom, as a vigorous opponent of Nestorius, a seat and vote in the council were assigned. For the emperor had avowed, in his letters of convocation, that his great object was πᾶσαν διαβολικὴν ἔκκοψαι πίζαν, meaning by this phrase the Nestorian doctrines. When the council met, all opponents of Eutyches were silenced by the outcries of the monks, the threats of the soldiers who were admitted to hear the deliberations, and the overhearing violence of the president. Flavian, Eusebius, and Theodoret were deposed, and the doctrines of Eutyches formally sanctioned; and this was regarded as a victory gained over the Eastern church by its Alexandrian rival, which two bodies often came into conflict from the different dogmatical tendencies prevalent in each. The deposed prelates, however, applied for aid to Leo the Great, bishop of Rome, who had been himself summoned to the council, but, instead of appearing there, had sent Julius, bishop of Puteoli, and three other legates, from whom therefore he obtained a correct account of the scenes which had disgraced it. He was ready to interfere, both on general grounds, and from the notion, which had already begun to take root, that to him, as the successor of St. Peter, belonged a sort of oversight over the whole church. Things were changed too at Constantinople: Chrysaphius was disgraced and banished, and Pulcheria restored to her brother's favour. In the year 450, Theodosius II. died; Pulcheria married Marcian, and procured for him the succession to the throne. A new general council was summoned at Nicaea, and afterwards adjourned to Chalcedon, A. D. 451, which 630 bishops attended. The proceedings were not altogether worthy of a body met to decide on such subjects; yet, on the whole, something like decorum was observed. The result was that Dioscurus and Eutyches were condemned, and the doctrine of Christ in one person and two natures finally declared to be the faith of the church. We know nothing of the subsequent fate of Eutyches, except that Leo wrote to beg Marcian and Pulcheria to send him into banishment, with what success does not appear. There are extant a confession of faith presented by Eutyches to the council of Ephesus (the βουλὴ λῃστρικὴ), and two petitions to the emperor Theodosius (Concil. vol. iv. pp. 134, 241, 250); but no works of his are in existence. This schism was continued among the monks by Eudocia, widow of Theodosius, and to such an extent, that Marcian was obliged to send an armed force to put it down. The followers of Eutyches, however, under the name of Monophysites, continued to propagate their opinions, though with little success, till the 6th century, when a great revival of those doctrines took place under the auspices of Jacob Baradaeus, who died bishop of Edessa, A. D. 588. From him they were called Jacobites, and under this title still constitute a very numerous church, to which the Armenians and Copts belong. (Evagrius, Hist. Eccles. 1.9; Theodoret, Ep. 79, 82, 92, &c.; Cave, Script. Eccles. Hist. Lit. vol. i.; Neander, Kirchengesch. iii. p. 1079, &c.)


hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
588 AD (1)
451 AD (1)
449 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: