Council of Ephesus

The Council of Ephesus was convened in 431 by Theodosius II, emperor of the eastern half of the Roman empire, and he did so at the request of Nestorius. Nestorius’ teaching about the nature of Christ was generating a great deal of controversy in the church, and he requested a council in the hopes of being able to prove his orthodoxy and silence his detractors. While Theodosius did not attend, he sent the head of his imperial palace guard, Count Candidian, to represent him. The council met in Ephesus with between 200 and 250 bishops in attendance.

This council came at a time of conflict over authority within the church. The First Council of Constantinople had established the bishop of Constantinople as second in authority following Rome, whose bishop carried the title of Pope and who claimed his authority from the line of Peter. Alexandria and Antioch were also powerful bishoprics and their schools of Christology historically came from different positions. Leo Davis explains: “Just as all philosophers are said to be basically either Aristotelian or Platonist, so, roughly speaking, all theologians are in Christology either Antiochene, beginning with the Jesus of the Synoptic Gospels and attempting to explain how this man is also God, or Alexandrian, beginning with the Word of John’s Prologue and attempting to understand the implications of the Logos taking flesh.” This council would further expose the rift between the two schools of Christology.

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