Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series II/Volume II/Socrates/Book VII/Chapter 29
Chapter XXIX.—Nestorius of Antioch promoted to the See of Constantinople. His Persecution of the Heretics.
After the death of Sisinnius, on account of the spirit of ambitious rivalry displayed by the ecclesiastics of Constantinople, the emperors resolved that none of that church should fill the vacant bishopric, notwithstanding the fact that many eagerly desired to have Philip ordained, and no less a number were in favor of the election of Proclus. They therefore sent for a stranger
from Antioch, whose name was Nestorius,
a native of Germanicia,
distinguished for his excellent voice and fluency of speech; qualifications which they judged important for the instruction of the people. After three months had elapsed therefore, Nestorius was brought from Antioch, being greatly lauded by some for his temperance: but what sort of a disposition he was of in other respects, those who possessed any discernment were able to perceive from his first sermon. Being ordained on the 10th of April, under the consulate of Felix and Taurus,
he immediately uttered those famous words, before all the people, in addressing the emperor, ‘Give me, my prince, the earth purged of heretics, and I will give you heaven as a recompense. Assist me in destroying heretics, and I will assist you in vanquishing the Persians.’
Now although these utterances were extremely gratifying to some of the multitude, who cherished a senseless antipathy to the very name of heretic; yet those, as I have said, who were skillful in predicating a man’s character from his expressions, did not fail to detect his levity of mind, and violent and vainglorious temperament, inasmuch as he had burst forth into such vehemence without being able to contain himself for even the shortest space of time; and to use the proverbial phrase, ‘before he had tasted the water of the city,’ showed himself a furious persecutor. Accordingly on the fifth day after his ordination, having determined to demolish a chapel in which the Arians were accustomed to perform their devotions privately, he drove these people to desperation; for when they saw the work of destruction going forward in their chapel, they threw fire into it, and the fire spreading on all sides reduced many of the adjacent buildings also to ashes. A tumult accordingly arose on account of this throughout the city, and the Arians burning to revenge themselves, made preparations for that purpose: but God the Guardian of the city suffered not the mischief to gather to a climax. From that time, however, they branded Nestorius as an ‘incendiary,’ and it was not only the heretics who did this, but those also of his own faith. For he could not rest, but seeking every means of harassing those who embraced not his own sentiments, he continually disturbed the public tranquillity. He annoyed the Novatians also, being incited to jealousy because Paul their bishop was everywhere respected for his piety; but the emperor by his admonitions checked his fury. With what calamities he visited the Quartodecimans throughout Asia, Lydia, and Caria, and what multitudes perished in a popular tumult of which he was the cause at Miletus and Sardis, I think proper to pass by in silence. What punishment he suffered for all these enormities, and for that unbridled license of speech in which he indulged himself, I shall mention somewhat later.
- ἐπήλυδα, perhaps in a contemptuous sense = ‘an imported fellow.’
- Founder of Nestorianism (Nestorian church and heresy). For details on Nestorianism, see Assemani, Bibliotheca Oriental. tom. IV., said to be the most exhaustive work on the subject, ancient and modern alike, being a volume of 950 pp. and occupied with Nestorianism alone. ‘It collects information from all quarters, especially from the Oriental writers, concerning the history, ritual, organization, schools, and missions.’ (Stokes, in Smith and Wace.) The peculiar characteristic of the Nestorian Christology will appear in the sequel of Socrates’ account. Other accessible sources of information on Nestorianism and Nestorius will be found in the standard ecclesiastical histories. Cf. Neander, Hist. of the Christ. Church, Vol. II. p. 446–524; Schaff, Hist. of the Christ. Church, Vol. III. p. 714–734; Kurtz, Church Hist. Vol. I. p. 334; also Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Rom. Empire, chap. 47.
- A city in Cilicia, on the western border of Syria.
- 428 a.d.
- ‘What the bishops and especially the prelates of the greater churches said in their first sermon to the people was very carefully observed among the early Christians. For from that sermon a conjecture was made as to the faith, doctrine, and temper of every bishop. Hence the people were wont to take particular notice, and remember their sayings. A remark of this nature occurs above, Bk. II. chap. 43, concerning the first sermon of Eudoxius, bishop of Constantinople. And Theodoret and Epiphanius declare the same concerning the first sermon of Melitius to the people.’—Valesius.
- Below, chap. 36.