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Christian heresy that held Jesus to be two distinct persons, closely and inseparably united. In 428, Emperor Theodosius II named an abbot of Antioch, Nestorius (d. 451?), as patriarch of Constantinople. In that year Nestorius, who had been a pupil of Theodore of MopsuestiaTheodore of Mopsuestia
, c.350–428, Syrian Christian theologian, bishop of Mopsuestia (from 392). Together with his lifelong friend, St. John Chrysostom, he studied at the school of Antioch, adopted its exegetical methods, and became a diligent writer and preacher.
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, outraged the Christian world by opposing the use of the title Mother of God for the Virgin on the grounds that, while the Father begot Jesus as God, Mary bore him as a man. This view was contradicted by Cyril, patriarch of Alexandria, and both sides appealed to Pope Celestine I. The Council of Ephesus (see Ephesus, Council ofEphesus, Council of,
431, 3d ecumenical council, convened by Theodosius II, emperor of the East, and Valentinian III, emperor of the West, to deal with the controversy over Nestorianism. Adherents of both parties attended; St.
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) was convened in 431 to settle the matter. This council (reinforced by the Council of Chalcedon in 451) clarified orthodox Catholic doctrine, pronouncing that Jesus, true God and true man, has two distinct natures that are inseparably joined in one person and partake of the one divine substance. Nestorius, deposed after the Council of Ephesus, was sent to Antioch, to Arabia, and finally to Egypt. A work believed to be by Nestorius, Bazaar of Heraclides, discovered c.1895, gives an account of the controversy. The patriarch of Antioch and his bishops, accusing Cyril of unscrupulous action, stayed out of communion with Alexandria until a compromise was reached in 433, but though the subject was discussed in 553 at the Second Council of Constantinople (see Constantinople, Second Council ofConstantinople, Second Council of,
553, regarded generally as the fifth ecumenical council. It was convened by Byzantine Emperor Justinian I to settle the dispute known as the Three Chapters.
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), Nestorianism was practically dead in the empire after 451. Nestorianism survived outside the Roman Empire through missionary expansion into Arabia, China, and India from the 6th cent., but declined after 1300. The doctrines that continued in the Nestorian ChurchNestorian Church,
officially the Assyrian Church of the East, Christian community of Iraq, Iran, and SW India. It represents the ancient church of Persia and is sometimes also called the East Syrian Church. It numbers about 175,000, including emigrants to the United States.
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 had diminishing connections with those of Nestorius. The teachings of EutychesEutyches
, c.378–c.452, archimandrite in Constantinople, sponsor of Eutychianism, the first phase of Monophysitism. He was the leader in Constantinople of the most violent opponents of Nestorianism, among whom was Dioscurus, successor to St. Cyril (d.
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 and MonophysitismMonophysitism
[Gr.,=belief in a single nature], a heresy of the 5th and 6th cent., which grew out of a reaction against Nestorianism. It was anticipated by Apollinarianism and was continuous with the principles of Eutyches, whose doctrine had been rejected in 451 at Chalcedon
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 developed partially in reaction to Nestorianism. J. Pelikan, The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (1971); and R. Norris, ed. and tr., The Christological Controversy (1980).



a movement in Christianity that arose in Byzantium in the fifth century; founded by Nestorius, patriarch of Constantinople from 428 to 431 (before that, a priest in Antioch, Syria).

For Nestorianism, which retained elements of classical rationalism, the mystical Christian concept of the “god-man” was the object of criticism. According to Nestorius, the Virgin Mary bore a man who subsequently rose to the level of the son of god (the messiah) after he had overcome human weakness; in Christ the human and the divine elements coexist only in a relative union, never fully merging. In contrast, orthodox doctrine emphasized the full unity of the human and the divine. Nestorius’ social support was mainly from those who still maintained classical traditions. His influence was especially great in Syria. His chief opponent was Cyril, bishop of Alexandria, who was supported by the monks and the rural population of Egypt, Palestine, and Asia Minor. At the Council of Ephesus in 431, Nestorianism was condemned as a heresy, and Nestorius was exiled. Most of the Nestorians fled to Iran (where they formed the Nestorian Church, which flourished until the mid-seventh century), to Middle Asia, and later to China.

Today there are Nestorians in Iran, Iraq, Syria, and India (along the Malabar Coast). In the early 20th century, when works by Nestorius previously known only through his opponents’ expositions were published, a tendency appeared in Western theology to prove that the doctrine of Nestorianism is not divergent from orthodoxy.


References in periodicals archive ?
Together, Catholic and Protestant missions never reached the high number of Nestorian monasteries in China, a fact that speaks to the comparative success of the Syrian missionaries.
The new rulers appointed the Bakhtishu family, who were Nestorian Christians, as court physicians and advisers.
Nestorians, Franciscans, Jesuits, missionaries of all kinds brought the message in their turn, each seemingly thwarted, their efforts frustrated, their work destroyed.
It is best to point out that this is not a fully documented study of every aspect of the Nestorian controversy.
The 24 chapters are divided into four main sections: the Ecumenical Patriarchate (10 essays); the Russian Church (5); Eastern Christianities covering Melkites, Nestorians, Jacobites, as well as Armenians, Copts, Ethiopians, and Syriac Christians (6); and the Modern World (3).
Passages in the manuscripts which reflected Nestorian theological language or contained the names of Nestorian theologians were revised or left blank.
They examine Chinese religions in a harmonious world, the Sinicization of Christianity, the human-god relation in Chinese contemporary art, reverence for life, the influence of the oRevelation of Johno on the Taipeng Heavenly Chronicle, marriage in a Catholic community in Eastern Fujian Province, differences in family values in Greek mythologies and Hebrew patriarchal legends, the understanding of the Bible among the general public in mainland China, the debate between Chinese New Leftism and Liberalism and the Leviathan state from the perspective of Christianity, the concepts of person and shen in Nestorian Christianity and Confucianism in Tang China, and the activities and organization of Protestant churches in China in 2010.
sees the history of Christian missions in Asia from their beginnings to 1900 as composed of a series of five advances and three recessions: the first advance--the Syrian tradition (50-225); the second advance--the Nestorian missions along the Old Silk Road (225-900); the third advance--the reappearance of Nestorians and the coming of Catholics (1000-1350); the fourth advance--the return of Catholics and the arrival of Protestants (1500-1750); the fifth advance--the "Great Century" of Protestant missions and Catholic recovery (1800-1900).
The importance of Cyril's thought rests m his Christology, which opposes the Nestorian God-Logos separation by insisting on the unity of what he preferred to call Logos and Flesh ('Sarx'), using the term 'Hypostasis', denoting Being or Substance.
Roughly three-quarters of the book is devoted to informative and fascinating essays by specialists on medieval Chinese Christianity or Chinese religion, with pieces on Nestorian Christianity and Manichaeism best illustrating how a receiving culture shapes a delivered message.
His topics are Theodoret and the Nestorian controversy before AD 431, Expositio Rectae Fidei, his Christology at the dawn of the Nestorian controversy: Refutation of the Twelve Anathemas of Cyril of Alexandria, and evidence in the Eranistes for his mature Christology.