Nestorius and His Place in the History of Christian Doctrine

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Professor of Church History in the University
of Halle-Wittenberg, Germany

at the University Press





IN this small book I publish four lectures which I was invited to give in a course of "advanced lectures in theology" at the University of London, March, 1913. The lectures were for the most part originally written in German. I translated them with the kind assistance of Miss Ida Southhall, M.A., of Birmingham, then a guest at my house. But it is not she alone to whom I am indebted. I have also to thank my dear host during my stay in London, Professor H. J. White, who read two of my lectures before I gave them, and the corrector of the Cambridge University Press and two of our American students, Mr H. Harper, B.A., of Avalan (U.S.A.), and Mr Charles Baillie, B.D., of Picton (Canada), whose kind suggestions I often utilized in reading the proofs. However, I beg my readers to put it to my account, that in spite of all these friendly helpers, the German author very often reveals himself.

In quoting Nestorius' "Book of Heraclides" I have given the pages both of the Syriac text and of Nau's French translation—not in order to raise in my reader's mind the idea that I made use of the Syriac text. Having forgotten nearly all I once knew of Syriac, I examined the Syriac text with the help of various friends only in a very few places, and I realize how much the ordinary use of the French translation alone is to be regarded as a defect in my lectures. I have quoted the numbers of the pages of the original Syriac text, as given by Nau, only in order that in this way the places where the quotations are to be found may be more accurately indicated than by merely quoting the pages of Nau's translation.

Since this book went to press I have made the acquaintance of a lecture by Dr Junglas, a Roman-Catholic scholar, entitled Die Irrlehre des Nestorius (Trier, 1912, 29 pages), and of the interesting chapters on "the tragedy of Nestorius" and "the council of Chalcedon" in L. Duchesne's Histoire ancienne de l'Église (tom. iii, Paris, 1911, pp. 313–388 and 389–454). The latter makes little use of the newly discovered Liber Heraclidis and does not give much detail about the teaching of Nestorius. Nevertheless I regret very much that I did not know earlier this treatment of the matter, surely more learned and more impartial than any other of Roman-Catholic origin. Dr Junglas in giving a short delineation of Nestorius' "heresy" has utilized the "Book of Heraclides" and, in my opinion, made some valuable remarks about the terminology of Nestorius which are not to be found elsewhere. However, in his one short lecture he was not able to go into details, and there are many things which he has failed to observe. There is a third Roman-Catholic research into the doctrine of Nestorius (Jugie, article "Éphèse, concile de" in the Dictionnaire de la théologie catholique, Fasc. 37. Paris, 1911, pp. 137–163), which, as I understand, endeavours more eagerly than Dr Junglas to show that Nestorius was justly condemned; but I have not had the opportunity to read this article.

As regards my own treatment of the matter, I do not pretend to have exhausted the subject nor to have found the definite and final answers to the various questions aroused about Nestorius' life and doctrine by his Liber Heraclidis. I trust that I have indicated more clearly than Professor Bethune-Baker has already done the way by which we may arrive at a real understanding of Nestorius' peculiar ideas. Others, I hope, may be stimulated by the present lectures to a further study of Nestorius' christology. The subject is deserving of interest. For there is no other christology in the ancient church so "modern" as his and perhaps that of his teachers whose dogmatical works are lost.

F. L.

Halle on the Saale, Germany,
January 20th, 1914.

Lectures(not individually listed)
A fresh interest in Nestorius newly awakened
The tragedy of Nestorius' life
The doctrine of Nestorius
Nestorius' place in the history of Christian doctrine

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1925.

The author died in 1928, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 80 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.