The first two ecumenical councils definitely settled the question that Jesus Christ is both God and man. But this decision fell short of satisfying the probing theological minds haunted by the problem of how the union of the divine substance of Jesus Christ with his human nature was to be conceived. In Antioch at the end of the fourth century originated the teaching that there was no complete union of the two natures in Christ. In its further developments this teaching attempted to prove the absolute independence of Christ's human nature both before and after its union with the divine nature. As long as this doctrine remained within the confines of a limited circle of men it did not cause any serious disturbance in the church. But with the passing of the patriarchal throne of Constantinople to the Antiochene presbyter Nestorius, an ardent follower of this new teaching, conditions changed considerably, for he imposed the teaching of Antioch upon the church. Famous for his eloquence, he addressed the Emperor immediately after his consecration: Give me, my prince, the earth purged of heretics, and I will give you heaven as a recompense. Assist me in destroying heretics, and I will assist you in vanquishing the Persians. By heretics Nestorius meant all those who did not share his views on the independence of the human nature in Jesus Christ. Nestorius' name for the Virgin Mary was not the Mother of God but the Mother of Christ, the Mother of a man.
A History of the Byzantine Empire - Table of Contents
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