Bookmark and Share

Open the online Arabic language course


(?-451) Archbishop of Constantinople 428-431, name giver and possible founder of the Christian sectarian orientation, Nestorianism.
There is a discrepancy between what Nestorius was accused of having said and what he himself declared to be his opinions, as this is indicated in the sole surviving scripture from his hand. This scripture was written long after the conflict that had him deposed as archbishop, and the motivations for writing this can be questioned.
The official version is that, as archbishop, Nestorius chose to not refer to Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus, as "Mother of God", Theotokos, that she only should be called "Mother of Christ" (Christotokos). This view caused strong reactions, as many saw it as a denial of the divinity of Christ, making Christ nothing but a human being having been adopted by God.
His views on Virgin Mary were linked to his understanding of the natures of Christ, one divine and one human. He considered these two joined in the one Christ, as if they were two persons joined by a moral union.
Many of the conflicts of the early church were smoke screens for conflicts over power, influence and even politics. Nestorius appears to have had a crude and intolerant personality, and as archbishop he was tossed into an ongoing rivalry between the great episcopal sees of Constantinople and Alexandria. It is possible that Nestorius was the victim of a misunderstanding, perhaps even a willed one, by the Archbishop of Alexandria, Cyril.
No matter if Nestorius was part of Nestorianism or not, this ideology was very much a real, contemporary ideology. It is one of few declared heresies that created a church that has lasted until modern times.
In the Nestorian Church, Nestorius is deeply venerated as a saint, in Syriac language 'Saint Nestorius' is renederd Mar Nestorios.

Around 386: Born in Germanica (modern Kahramanmaras, Turkey).
Around 400: Nestorius enters the monastery of St. Euprepios, near Antioch. It is told that he became a pupil of the renowned biblical commentator Bishop Theodore of Mopsuestia.
— Is ordained a priest.
428 April 10: Ordained archbishop of Constantinople by Byzantine Emperor, Theodosius 2. He begins a strict campaign against all groups he considered heretics, showing leniency only to Pelagians
November 22: Anastasius, Nestorius' domestic chaplain, preaches a sermon in which he objects to the title Theotokos being applied to Virgin Mary.
December 25: Nestorius, who had already expressed doubts on the subject, supported Anastasius and, on Christmas Day, began a series of addresses arguing that Mary was not Theotokos.
429: Saint Cyril of Alexandria, believing that Nestorius was teaching a heretical Christian doctrine, sent a request to Pope Celestine 1 asking him, as a bishop of Rome, to settle the dispute. Celestine authorized Cyril to give an ultimatum to Nestorius, that he had to renounce his theories.
431 June 22: At the Council of Ephesus, Cyril of Alexandria has the doctrines of Nestorianism declared heretical. At this point, the contingents of Antioch, supporting Nestorius, had not yet arrived. Although they came a few days later, Cyril managed to protect the early decisions, and the condemnations of both Nestorianism and Nestorius were upheld.
— Nestorius retires to his old monastery near Antioch.
435 August 3 Exiled by imperial decree to Hibis (modern Kharga Oasis, Egypt). Here he came under the jurisdiction of Cyril.
430's: Orders are sent out to have across the Christian world to have the scriptures of Nestorius burnt.
440's?: Is moved to Panopolis (modern Akhmim, Egypt).
451: Dies in Panopolis.
1895: The sole surviving treatise of Nestorius is discovered, Bazar of Heracleides, written in Syriac. Here Nestorius denies the accusations that had been set forth against him, rather expressing views in good correspondance with his opponent Cyril of Alexandria.

By Tore Kjeilen