Severus of Antioch

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'''Severus of Antioch''' was one of the ancient dissident bishops in the [[Church of Antioch (Syriac)|Church of Antioch]]. He was the most prominent theologian associated with the opposition to [[Fourth Ecumenical Council|Council of Chalcedon]] and played a central role in defending the phraseology of [[Dioscorus of Alexandria]] preserved by Chalcedon's opponents.
  
'''Severus''', [[Patriarch of Antioch]] (AD 512 - 518), born approximately 465 in Sozopolis in Pisidia, was by birth and education a [[Paganism|pagan]], who was baptized in the ''[[martyrium]]'' of Leontius at Tripolis.<ref>Evagrius Scholasticus, H. E. 3.33.</ref>
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==Early Life==
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Severus was born around 459 in Sozopolis, Pisidia (modern day Turkey). His paternal grandfather, also named Severus, was [[Metropolitan]] of Sozopolis and in that capacity attended the [[Third Ecumenical Council|Council of Ephesus]] in 431.  
  
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Following the death of his father, a senator in Sozopolis, Severus left Pisidia for Egypt, where he studied grammar and rhetoric together with the Greek and Latin languages in Alexandria. It was in Alexandria that he was introduced to the writings of Ss. [[Basil the Great]] and [[Gregory of Nazianzus]]. In 486 Severus moved to Beirut to study philosophy and Roman jurisprudence and in 488 he was baptized in nearby Tripoli, having not been previously baptized as it was a custom in Pisidia at that time not to baptize boys until they had at least come of age.
== Life ==
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He almost at once openly united himself with the Acephali, repudiating his own [[baptism]] and his baptizer, and even the Christian church itself as infected with [[Nestorianism]] (Labbe, u.s.). Upon embracing Non-Chalcedonian doctrines, he entered a [[monastery]] apparently belonging to that sect between Gaza and its port Majuma. Here he met [[Peter the Iberian]], who had been ordained bishop of Gaza by Theodosius, the Non-Chalcedonian monk, during his usurpation of the [[patriarch of Jerusalem]]. About this time Severus apparently joined a Non-Chalcedonian brotherhood near Eleutheropolis under the archimandrite Mamas. At this time Severus rejected the ''[[Henoticon]]'' of [[Zeno (emperor)|Zeno]], dismissing it as "the annulling edict," and "the disuniting edict" (Labbe, v. 121), and anathematized Pope ]]Peter III of Alexandria|Peter Mongus]], the Non-Chalcedonian [[patriarch of Alexandria]], for accepting it. We next hear of him in an Egyptian monastery, whose abbot Nephalius having been formerly a Non-Chalcedonian, now embraced the [[Fourth Ecumenical Council|Council of Chalcedon]]. In the resulting disagreement, Nephalius with his [[monk]]s expelled Severus and his partisans<ref>Evagrius 3.33; see also 3.22.</ref>
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Severus is said to have stirred up a fierce religious war among the population of Alexandria, resulting in bloodshed and conflagrations (Labbe, v. 121). To escape punishment for this violence, he fled to [[Constantinople]], supported by a band of two hundred Non-Chalcedonian monks. [[Flavius Anastasius|Anastasius I]], who succeeded Zeno as emperor in 491, was a professed Non-Chalcedonian, and received Severus with honor. His presence initiated a period of fighting in Constantinople between rival bands of monks, [[Chalcedonian]] and [[Non-Chalcedonian|Non]], which ended in AD 511 with the humiliation of Anastasius, the temporary triumph of the patriarch [[Macedonius II]], and the reversal of the Non-Chalcedonian cause (Theophanes, p. 132). That same year Severus was eagerly dispatched by Anastasius to occupy the vacant [[patriarch of Antioch]] (Labbe, iv. 1414; Theod. Lect. ii. 31, pp. 563, 567; Theophanes p. 134), and the very day of his enthronement solemnly pronounced in his church an anathema on Chalcedon, and accepted the ''Henoticon'' he had previously repudiated. He had the name of Peter Mongus inscribed in the diptychs; entered into communion with the Non-Chalcedonian prelates, [[Patriarch Timothy I of Constantinople|Timotheus]] of Constantinople and [[Yoannis II of Alexandria|John Niciota]] of Alexandria; and received into communion Peter of Iberia and other leading members of the Acephali (Evagr. H. E. iii. 33; Labbe, iv. 1414, v. 121, 762; Theod. Lect. l.c.). Non-Chalcedonianism seemed now triumphant throughout the Christian world. Proud of his patriarchal dignity and strong in the emperor's protection, Severus despatched letters to his brother-prelates, announcing his elevation and demanding [[communion]]. In these he anathematized Chalcedon and all who maintained the two natures. While many rejected them altogether, Non-Chalcedonianism was everywhere in the ascendant in the East, and Severus was deservedly regarded as its chief champion (Severus of Ashmunain apud Neale, Patr. Alex. ii. 27). Synodal letters were exchanged between John Niciota and Severus, which are the earliest examples of communication between the [[Oriental Orthodox]] sees of Alexandria and Antioch that have continued to the present day.
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==Life as a Monk==
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After his [[baptism]] Severus became increasingly [[asceticism|ascetic]] in his daily life, eventually becoming a [[monk]] at St. Romanus' Monastery in Maiuma, Palestine. He later retreated into the desert near Eleutheropolis before founding a [[monastery]] for his [[disciple]]s in Maiuma. Severus lived there until the coming of Nephalius to Gaza in 508. Nephalius had previously led a faction of the Eutychian [[heresy|heretics]] before renouncing his heresies and accepting Chalcedon. Severus insisted that Dioscorus' terminological rigidity be preserved, refused to acknowledge the later Cyrilline and Chalcedonian formula, and was therefore expelled.  
  
The triumph of Severus was, however, short. His possession of the patriarchate of Antioch did not survive his imperial patron. Anastasius was succeeded in 518 by [[Justin I]], who embraced the beliefs of Chalcedon. The Non-Chalcedonian prelates were everywhere replaced by Chalcedonian successors, Severus being one of the first to fall. Irenaeus, the count of the East, was commissioned to arrest him but Severus departed before his approach, setting sail one night in September 518 for Alexandria (Liberat. Brev. l.c.; Theophanes, p. 141; Evagr. H. E. iv. 4). [[Paul I of Antioch|Paul I]] was ordained in his place. Severus and his doctrines were anathematized in various councils, while at Alexandria he was gladly welcomed by the patriarch [[Timotheos III of Alexandria|Timotheos III]] and his other fellow doctrinarists, being generally hailed as the champion of the orthodox faith against the corruptions of Nestorianism. His learning and persuasion established his authority as "os omnium doctorum," and the day of his entrance into Egypt was long celebrated as a Coptic/Jacobite festival (Neale, u.s. p. 30). Alexandria soon became a refuge of Non-Chalcedonians of every shade of opinion, becoming too numerous for the emperor to molest. But within this group fierce controversies sprang up on various subtle questions of [[Christology]], one of which involved Severus and his fellow-exile [[Julian of Halicarnassus]] as to the corruptibility of Christ's human body before His resurrection. Julian and his followers were styled [[Aphthartodocetae]] and "Phantasiastae," Severus and his adherents "Phthartolatrae" or "Corrupticolae," and "Ktistolatrae." The controversy was a heated and protracted one and while no settlement was arrived at, the later Oriental Orthodox claim the victory for Severus ([[Renaudot]], p. 129).
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Following his expulsion from his monastery Severus together with 200 monks from the area around Gaza left for the imperial capital of Constantinople, where they remained for 3 years seeking to obtain the favor of Emperor Anastasius. When Patriarch [[Macedonius II of Constantinople|Macedonius of Constantinople]] was [[deposition|deposed]] in 511 he was considered for the patriarchate, but Patriarch Timothy, who also opposed Chalcedon, was enthroned instead and Severus was able to return to Palestine with his disciples.  
  
After some years in Egypt spent in continual literary and polemical activity, Severus was unexpectedly summoned to Constantinople by Justin's successor [[Justinian I]], whose consort [[Theodora (wife of Justinian)|Theodora]] favored Severus' cause. The emperor was weary of the turmoil caused by the prolonged theological discussions; Severus, he was told, was the master of the Non-Chalcedonian party, and only through his influence could unity only be regained. At this period, AD 535. [[Anthimus I of Constantinople|Anthimus]] had been recently appointed to the [[Patriarch of Constantinople]] by Theodora's influence. He was a Non-Chalcedonian, who later joined heartily with Severus and his associates, Peter of Apamea and Zoaras, in their endeavours to get Non-Chalcedonianism recognized as the imperial faith. This introduction of Non-Chalcedonians threw the city into great disorder, and large numbers embraced their beliefs (Labbe, v. 124). Eventually, at the instance of [[Pope Agapetus I]], who happened to be present in Constantinople on political business, the Non-Chalcedonians Anthimus and Timotheus were deposed. Patriarch [[Mennas of Constantinople|Mennas]], who succeeded Anthimus, summoned a [[synod]] in May and June 536 to deal with the Chalcedon question. Severus and his two companions were cast out "as wolves", and once again anathematized (Labbe, v. 253-255). The sentence was ratified by Justinian. The writings of Severus were proscribed; any one possessing them who failed to commit them to the flames was to lose his right hand (Evagr. H. E. iv. 11; Novell. Justinian. No. 42; Matt. Blastar. p. 59). Severus returned to Egypt, which he seems never again to have left. The date of his death is said variously to be 538, 539, or 542.<ref>Gillman, Ian and Hans-Joachim Klimkeit, ''Christians in Asia before 1500'' (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1999), on p. 31 states he died in 538.</ref> According to [[John of Ephesus]], he died in the Egyptian desert.
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==Patriarchate==
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When Patriarch Flavian II of Antioch was deposed in 512, Severus was elected Patriarch of Antioch, being [[enthronement|enthroned]] on [[November 6]], 512. Following the rise to power of Emperor [[Justinian I]] Severus was summoned to Constantinople, where the emperor attempted to persuade him to accept [[Chalcedon]]. When Severus refused the emperor ordered him to be killed, but he was saved by St. [[Theodora (wife of Justinian)|Theodora]], the emperor's wife, who was the daughter of a [[priest]] from Syria and an opponent of Chalcedon. At her urging, Severus fled the capital, after which Emperor Justinian declared him [[deposition|deposed]] and in 518 placed a supporter of Chalcedon on the patriarchal throne of Antioch.
  
== Writing and theology ==
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Severus fled Constantinople for Egypt, where he met with Pope [[Timothy II Aelurus of Alexandria|Timothy II]] and took refuge in a number of different monasteries disguised as a simple monk. Throughout his travels in Egypt Severus preached his anti-Chalcedonian position and strengthened his followers in their resistance to the Fourth Ecumenical Synod. He also wrote many books and letters against heresies. Although he wrote in Greek his writings have been primarily preserved in Syriac.  
He was a very copious writer, but we possess little more than fragments. An account of them, so far as they can be identified, is given by William Cave<ref> ''Historia Literaria'', vol. i.pp. 499 ff.</ref> and [[Fabricius]]<ref>Bibl. Graec. lib. v. c. 36, vol. x. pp. 614 ff., ed. Harless</ref>. A very large number exist only in Syriac, for which consult the catalogue of the Syriac manuscripts in the British Museum by Prof. Wright.
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Severus was successful in his great aim of uniting the Non-Chalcedonians into one compact body with a definitely formulated creed. For notwithstanding the numerous subdivisions of the Non-Chalcedonians, he was, in Dorner's words, "strictly speaking, the scientific leader of the most compact portion of the party," and regarded as such by the Non-Chalcedonians and their opponents. He was the chief object of attack in the long and fierce contest with the Chalcedonians, by whom he is always designated as the author and ringleader of Non-Chalcedonianism. Hoping to embrace as many as possible of varying theological color, he followed the traditional formulas of the church as closely as he could, while affixing his own sense upon them.<ref>Dorner, ''Pers. of Christ'', div. ii. vol. i. p. 136, Clark's trans.</ref>
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In 535 Severus returned to Constantinople to discuss the reunification of the Church with Emperor Justinian. During his stay in the city he brought Patriarch [[Anthimus I of Constantinople|Anthimus]] of Constantinople to reject Chalcedon, but the [[schism]] as a whole was unable to be healed at that time and in 536 the emperor had Severus formally [[excommunication|excommunicated]].
  
==References==
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Upon returning to Egypt, Severus settled in the home of a layman, Dorotheus, in the city of Sakha and continued to teach and purportedly work miracles. He died on [[February 8]], 538.
  
*In 1904 the ''Sixth Book of the Select Letters of Severus'', in the Syriac version of [[Athanasius of Nisibis]], were edited by G. E. W. Brooks (London). For a full statement of his opinions see the major work of Dorner, and the article "Monophysiten" in Herzog's Encyclopedia.
 
*This article uses text from ''[http://www.ccel.org/w/wace/biodict/htm/TOC.htm A Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature to the End of the Sixth Century A.D., with an Account of the Principal Sects and Heresies]'' by Henry Wace.
 
*Pauline Allen and Robert Hayward, ''Severus of Antioch'', Routlege, 2004.
 
*Frédéric Alpi, several recent articles in French devoted to the episcopate of Severus.
 
  
==Notes==
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==External Links and Sources==
<references/>
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*[http://www.cecs.acu.edu.au/severusresearch.htm A Bibliography of Severus of Antioch]
 
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*[http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/10489b.htm Monophysites and Monophysitism] (Catholic Encyclopedia)
==Source==
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*[http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/severus_coll_0_eintro.htm A Collection of Letters of Severus of Antioch]
*[[Wikipedia:Severus_of_Antioch]]
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*[http://www.ccel.org/ccel/pearse/morefathers/files/severus_coll_0_eintro.htm Letters of Patriarch Severus of Antioch]
 
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==External links==
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* [http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/severus_coll_0_eintro.htm Severus: A collection of letters from numerous Syriac manuscripts]
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* [http://www.cecs.acu.edu.au/severusresearch.htm A bibliography of Severus of Antioch]
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* [http://www.orthodoxunity.org/article02.html The Christology of Severus of Antioch].
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* [http://www.orthodox-library.com A collection of letters from numerous Syriac manuscripts]
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[[Category: Bishops]]
 
[[Category: Bishops]]
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[[Category:Monastics]]
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[[Category:Non-Chalcedonian Saints]]
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[[Category: Oriental Orthodox]]
 
[[Category: Patriarchs of Antioch]]
 
[[Category: Patriarchs of Antioch]]
[[Category:Non-Chalcedonian Saints]]
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[[Category:6th-century bishops]]

Latest revision as of 20:30, June 2, 2012

Severus of Antioch was one of the ancient dissident bishops in the Church of Antioch. He was the most prominent theologian associated with the opposition to Council of Chalcedon and played a central role in defending the phraseology of Dioscorus of Alexandria preserved by Chalcedon's opponents.

Contents

Early Life

Severus was born around 459 in Sozopolis, Pisidia (modern day Turkey). His paternal grandfather, also named Severus, was Metropolitan of Sozopolis and in that capacity attended the Council of Ephesus in 431.

Following the death of his father, a senator in Sozopolis, Severus left Pisidia for Egypt, where he studied grammar and rhetoric together with the Greek and Latin languages in Alexandria. It was in Alexandria that he was introduced to the writings of Ss. Basil the Great and Gregory of Nazianzus. In 486 Severus moved to Beirut to study philosophy and Roman jurisprudence and in 488 he was baptized in nearby Tripoli, having not been previously baptized as it was a custom in Pisidia at that time not to baptize boys until they had at least come of age.

Life as a Monk

After his baptism Severus became increasingly ascetic in his daily life, eventually becoming a monk at St. Romanus' Monastery in Maiuma, Palestine. He later retreated into the desert near Eleutheropolis before founding a monastery for his disciples in Maiuma. Severus lived there until the coming of Nephalius to Gaza in 508. Nephalius had previously led a faction of the Eutychian heretics before renouncing his heresies and accepting Chalcedon. Severus insisted that Dioscorus' terminological rigidity be preserved, refused to acknowledge the later Cyrilline and Chalcedonian formula, and was therefore expelled.

Following his expulsion from his monastery Severus together with 200 monks from the area around Gaza left for the imperial capital of Constantinople, where they remained for 3 years seeking to obtain the favor of Emperor Anastasius. When Patriarch Macedonius of Constantinople was deposed in 511 he was considered for the patriarchate, but Patriarch Timothy, who also opposed Chalcedon, was enthroned instead and Severus was able to return to Palestine with his disciples.

Patriarchate

When Patriarch Flavian II of Antioch was deposed in 512, Severus was elected Patriarch of Antioch, being enthroned on November 6, 512. Following the rise to power of Emperor Justinian I Severus was summoned to Constantinople, where the emperor attempted to persuade him to accept Chalcedon. When Severus refused the emperor ordered him to be killed, but he was saved by St. Theodora, the emperor's wife, who was the daughter of a priest from Syria and an opponent of Chalcedon. At her urging, Severus fled the capital, after which Emperor Justinian declared him deposed and in 518 placed a supporter of Chalcedon on the patriarchal throne of Antioch.

Severus fled Constantinople for Egypt, where he met with Pope Timothy II and took refuge in a number of different monasteries disguised as a simple monk. Throughout his travels in Egypt Severus preached his anti-Chalcedonian position and strengthened his followers in their resistance to the Fourth Ecumenical Synod. He also wrote many books and letters against heresies. Although he wrote in Greek his writings have been primarily preserved in Syriac.

In 535 Severus returned to Constantinople to discuss the reunification of the Church with Emperor Justinian. During his stay in the city he brought Patriarch Anthimus of Constantinople to reject Chalcedon, but the schism as a whole was unable to be healed at that time and in 536 the emperor had Severus formally excommunicated.

Upon returning to Egypt, Severus settled in the home of a layman, Dorotheus, in the city of Sakha and continued to teach and purportedly work miracles. He died on February 8, 538.


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