The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 13 (part 1)

We continue the Annals of Eutychius, and deal with the Council of Constantinople and some anti-Manichaean material.  It is important to recall that Eutychius is a Melkite, and Patriarch of Alexandria.

1. Theodosius, called Theodosius the Great (1), reigned over Rum for seventeen years.  This happened in the fortieth year of the reign of Sabur, son of Sabur, king of the Persians.  The ministers and generals presented themselves before the king Theodosius and said: “The doctrine of the population has become corrupt and infested with the doctrine of Arius and Macedonius.  Take to heart the matter and take it upon yourself to defend the Christian faith and to present it in all clarity.  Write therefore to all the patriarchs and bishops telling them to come together, to examine the issue and to set forth with clear wording the true Christian faith.”  King Theodosius then wrote to Timothy, patriarch of Alexandria, to Milātiyūs (2), Patriarch of Antioch, to Damasus, patriarch of Rome and Cyril, Bishop of Jerusalem, ordering them to go with their bishops to Constantinople in order to discuss the Christian faith and present it in clear terms to the people.  The patriarchs went to Constantinople, together with their bishops, except for Damasus, patriarch of Rome.  In fact, although he did not go there personally, he wrote to Theodosius a letter in which he explained and expounded in clear terms the true faith.  At Constantinople there gathered in council a hundred and fifty bishops.  The presidents were Timothy, patriarch of Alexandria, Meletius, Patriarch of Antioch and Cyril, bishop of Jerusalem.  King Theodosius gave them the letter of Damasus, patriarch of Rome, in which the latter had set out and explained in clear terms the true faith.  They read it, expounded the doctrine of the faith and confirmed that it had been expounded.

Then they went on to examine the doctrine of Macedonius who said: “The Holy Spirit is not God, but [was] created and made.”  Timothy, patriarch of Alexandria, said: “When we speak of the Holy Spirit, we intend to speak of God’s Spirit.  The Spirit of God is nothing more than his life.  So if we were to say that the Holy Spirit is created, we would say that the Spirit of God was created.  And if we say that the Spirit of God is created, that would be to say that his life is created.  And if we say that his life is created, we would be affirming that He is not living [by his own power].  And if we say that he is not living [by his own power] we would be committing an impiety against him.  For those who deny God are worthy of excommunication.” They were therefore unanimous in excommunicating Macedonius, and excommunicated him along with his followers and the patriarchs who had followed after him and had not followed [true] doctrine.  They also excommunicated Sabellius, bishop of Lūbiya (3), and his followers.  He actually said that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are a single person.  They excommunicated also Apollinaris and his followers because they claimed that the body of Christ, our Lord, was devoid of intellect.  They established thus that the Holy Spirit is the creator, uncreated, true God, of one substance with the Father and the Son, one substance and one nature, adding to the Symbol of faith drawn up by the three hundred and eighteen bishops who had gathered at Nicaea, the words: “And in the Holy Spirit, Lord and Giver of life, who proceeds from the Father, who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified,” where the three hundred and eighteen had said, in the creed they composed, only “and in the Holy Spirit”.  They also established that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are three persons, three substances and three properties, Unity in Trinity and Trinity in Unity, one essence in three persons, one God, one substance and one nature.  They also confirmed that the body of Christ, our Lord, possessed an intellectual and rational soul.  Then they made patriarch of Constantinople, from the guards of the king, a man named Fiqtūriyūs (4).  They defined the primacy of the Patriarch of Rome, placing in second place the patriarch of Constantinople, the patriarch of Alexandria in the third and in fourth the Patriarch of Antioch.  They elevated to the rank of patriarch, the bishop of Jerusalem, which had been until then only a bishop — Jerusalem had never had a patriarch before then —, and placed him in fifth place.

Then each returned to his own see.

2. From the first council of three hundred and eighteen bishops who had gathered in the city of Nicaea, to this council of the hundred and fifty bishops who had gathered in Constantinople excommunicating Macedonius and his sect, there had passed fifty years.  Timothy, patriarch of Alexandria, allowed the patriarchs, bishops and monks to eat meat on the feasts of the Lord because of the Manichaean so-called as-Siddīqūn (5) in order to know which of the patriarchs and bishops were Manicheans.  He intended, in fact, by making them eat flesh to making vain their religion and to abolish it.  This is because Manichaeans are not allowed to slaughter animals and eat them, nor themselves to eat meat from animals in any way.  Most of the metropolitans of Egypt and their bishops were Manichaeans.  Now the Orthodox patriarchs, with their bishops and monks, ate meat at the feasts of the Lord.  The Manichaean metropolitans, however, and their bishops and monks did not eat meat and replaced it with fish, placing it instead of meat, fish being [also] an animal.  This custom was observed at the time of the heretical and impious Mani.  On the death of Mani and his followers, the Orthodox patriarchs, with their bishops and monks, returned to their ancient custom and abstained from meat on the feasts of the Lord.

3.  Sa`id ibn Batrīq, the doctor said: “Timothy, patriarch of Alexandria, allowed the eating of meat on the feasts of the Lord in view of the fact that the Manichaeans such as-Siddīqūn used to eat fish instead of meat.  When he speaks of “eating meat” he refers to a slaughtered animal, and a fish is not considered a  slaughtered animal.  And in fact another sect of Manicheans, called the as-Sammākūn, (6) ate fish because it cannot be considered a slaughtered animal, while abstaining from eating meat from a slaughtered animal.  And yet they were in error even the Manichaeans called as-Siddīqūn, who had replaced meat with fish, because Christ, our Lord, ate meat, and it is therefore the duty of all who profess the Christian religion in imitation of Christ, our Lord, to eat meat at least one day a year, to remove from their hearts any kind of scruple and confirm, before all, their contempt for this wicked sect of Manicheans.  In Acts it is written that Peter was in the city of Jaffa in the house of a tanner named Simon.  Peter was on the housetop to pray at about six in the morning.  There fell on him a deep sleep and fell asleep, and he saw the heavens opened to him, and there came down from the sky a sheet, touching the ground, in which there were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, and flying birds of the sky.  And he heard a voice say: “O Peter, get up, kill and eat.”  But Peter said: “No, Lord, I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”  The voice told him for the second time:  “What God has made clean do you not treat as unclean.” And the voice repeated it to him for the third time. Then the sheet rose up to heaven” (7).  These words of Peter support this, he being one of the leaders of the Apostles and a founder of our religion, as well as one from whom you have to take and accept, what Christ our Lord, has done in eating the meat of slaughtered animals and in making all animals lawful.  So it is necessary to be wary of those who abstain from eating meat and act differently from how Christ, our Lord, and Peter, the head of the Apostles, behaved.  Therefore, anyone who refuses to eat meat from slaughtered animals is for us a transgressor of the Christian law and is to be counted among the followers of the doctrine of Mani, with the exception of the patriarchs, bishops and monks, for they do not refrain from the use of meat as prohibited but only for abstinence and to honor God.”

4. “The people of Rum also began not to wash themselves with water because most of them were Manichaeans.  The Manicheans, in fact, do not believe that it is good to wash with water.  Having therefore for a long time continued to maintain their custom, they continue to this day to refrain from washing with water.  Some have said that they stopped washing with water simply because of the intense cold that there is in their country and because the water was too cold, especially in winter, and that they could not bathe in cold nor could touch it as it was so cold” (8).

5. “The Manichaeans are, as we have said, of two species: the Sammākūn and the Siddīqūn.  The Sammākūn fast on certain days of each month, while the Siddīqūn fast for life, eating only what the land produces.  Having embraced the Christian faith, the Siddīqūn, fearing to be recognized and killed if they abstained from eating fish, also began to fast, and actually fasted on the Orthodox feasts of Christmas, the Virgin Mary and the Apostles, abstaining, in those days of fasting, from eating the flesh of fish.  They adopted a similar behavior only so as to pass in fasting the day of the year and in these fasts did not refrain from eating fish only so that they were not discovered.  Over time the Nestorians, Jacobites and Maronites adopted this custom, who made it a norm.  Later also some Greek Melkites, especially those living in the territories subjected to Islam, adopted a similar habit, starting also to abstain from eating fish on the aforementioned days of fasting, although this was not included in their traditions nor in their precepts, since the Greek Melkites abstain from eating fish only on the two days reported, namely Wednesdays and Fridays throughout the year, and on the eve of Christmas and the eve of Baptism, days when they abstain from eating fish as they revere these in the same way as the great fast.  The Greek Melkites, then, who prefer to fast for Christmas, [for the feast of the Madonna] and for the feast of the Apostles, fast in these three days by eating the flesh of fish, abstaining only on Wednesdays and Fridays.  Similarly, if someone wishes to fast on Wednesdays and Fridays throughout the year, they can fast until the ninth hour without eating fish.  And yet this is not obligatory and no one is obliged to fast and abstain from these fasts to make use of the meat of fish, except for Wednesdays and Fridays, as we said at the first, for the great fast and for two vigils of Christmas and Epiphany.  Some Greek Melkites also refrain from eating fish on the fast of the feast of Our Lady, following their custom in this the holy Typicon of St. Saba (9), nor is there, in this abstinence, any shadow of sin.  Only those who say otherwise sin, thus contravening the law and acting contrary to the divine precept.”


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