ON THE PERSON OF CHRIST: THE CHRISTOLOGY OF EMPEROR JUSTINIAN
At the opening of the sixth century, large segments of the Roman Empire had fallen to barbarian warlords. The Churches of Rome and Constantinople were locked in a schism rooted in different attitudes towards the decrees and definition of the Fourth Ecumenical Council held at Chalcedon in 451. The emperor Justinian (527-565) dreamed of reunifying and restoring the Empire, but to accomplish this he needed a unified Church. Before Justinian ascended the throne the schism between Rome and Constantinople had been healed, largely due to Justinian`s influence, but a significant segment of the Eastern population (called monophysites) would not accept the union and the imperial Church remained divided.
Hoping to facilitate his political aims for unity, Justinian vigorously pursued
a policy or reconciling the monophysites to the Council of Chalcedon by sponsoring
a theological program to show that the language of Chalcedon`s definition of
faith was faithful to the meaning, if not to the exact terminology of Cyril`s
Christological formulas. The three documents translated in this volume, Against
the Monophysites, Concerning the Three Chapters, and On
the True Faith, are significant imperial documents reflecting the conclusion
reached in that theological program. Although they failed to convince the monophysites
or reconcile them to the imperial Church, they articulate the interpretation
of Chalcedon`s Christological definition, upheld by Orthodox theologians even
today, and set the stage for the Christological definitions of the Fifth Ecumenical
Council. They serve as an important source for setting forth fundamental philosophical
principles underlying the Orthodox doctrine concerning the Person of Jesus Christ.