The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 18d

After the  murder of Omar, the Muslims elect Othman. The Muslim conquests continue.  The Byzantines don’t make much resistance, apparently.  Othman too is murdered after drawing up an edition of the Koran and destroying all the other copies.

Lots of theological letters in this section of Eutychius.  We also see the appearance of “Misr” for the first time – Cairo.

Caliphate of Othman ibn Affan (23-35 / 644-656)

1.  Othman ibn’ Affari b. Abi’l-‘As b. Umayya b. Abd Shams was made Caliph – his mother was Umayyah bint Kawbarā b. Rabi’a – three days after the death of Omar, at the turn of the month of Dhul-hiğğa.  His caliphate began in the new moon of the month of al-Muharram, in the twenty-fourth year of the Hegira, the twenty-fourth year of the reign of Heraclius, King of Rum.  He held the caliphate for twelve years.  In the third year of his caliphate George was made by Patriarch of Antioch.  He was a Maronite.  He settled in Constantinople and remained there five years without ever going to Antioch.  He died in Constantinople and was buried there.  In the tenth year of his caliphate Macarius was made patriarch of Antioch.  He was a Maronite.  He was invested with the office in Constantinople and remained there for eight years and never entered Antioch.  He died and was buried in Constantinople.  In the ninth year of his caliphate Peter was made Patriarch of Constantinople.  He was a Maronite.  He held the office for six years and died.  In the fourth year of his caliphate Peter was made Patriarch of Alexandria.  He was a Maronite.  He held the office nine years and died.  In the eighth year of his caliphate died Honorius, patriarch of Rome, who had professed the doctrine of Maron, thus giving rise to different opinions within the church.  After his death a man named Sadinus was chosen and was made patriarch of Rome.  He held the office for six months and died.  After his death a man of proven virtue named John was chosen.  Made aware of the origin of the doubts that were snaking about within the church – the sovereigns of Constantinople were then Heraclius and his brother Constantine – the Patriarch John wrote them a letter in which he passed under review the reasons for such doubts, taking the side of his predecessor Honorius, patriarch of Rome.  The letter began:

2. “Pope John, Patriarch of Rome, to Heraclius and Constantine, ruling brothers, to whom are entrusted the church of Christ, true God, whose light appeared in the darkness, who has delivered us from the power of darkness with his wonderful light, the light of truth uncontaminated by any darkness, so that with the blood of his cross peace is restored between heaven and earth, who ever guards his church.  It is given to you, O emperors, to ensure that in his church are raised the best and noblest invocations and that people believe according to the perfect faith and stay close to him.  Something has happened that it is necessary to set forth, for him to understand who loves and cultivates justice, so that the truth can shine again as brightly as it once did.  I have come to know the state of the controversy, also, and the doubts that are circulating in the West.  I received news of all of this by a letter of our brother Honorius, Patriarch of Constantinople, and from others.  And it is our duty to explain how things are, because He knows everything.  The beginning of the story is this.  About eighteen years ago Cyrus, Patriarch of Alexandria, professed the doctrine of Maron, according to which in Christ, our Lord, there are two natures, one will and one operation.  He heard about Sophronius, who became Patriarch of Jerusalem, who disputed with him, getting the better with his arguments.  Then Sophronius went to Sergius, Patriarch of Constantinople, and perceived that he spoke the same way as Cyrus, affirming also that Honorius, patriarch of Rome, professed his doctrine.  From Constantinople Sophronius went to Jerusalem.  Later when he became Patriarch of Jerusalem – it was in fact because of the righteousness of his faith that the inhabitants of Jerusalem made him Patriarch of Jerusalem – he wrote a book on the faith that was welcomed by the people of this world.  When Honorius, patriarch of Rome, heard this and that Sergius, Patriarch of Constantinople, had lied about him [Honorius], saying that he [Honorius] was a Maronite, he wrote a letter in which he said: ‘Our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the source of life, was born without sin, because the eternal Word, by whom all things were made, coming down from heaven, he took a body from the Virgin Mary and became like us as to the nature, but not in the will of sinners.  Because Paul says that he took the similitude of us sinners, i.e. the body, without sin, with a rational soul and intellect.  And similarly, he was pleased to take the single will for his humanity, not as we know it, who have two contrary wills, one of which is centred in the intellect and the other in the body, opposed to each other, which takes place in every human being who is subject to sin, and because none [of us] is exempt from the sin of rebellion.  But the body of Christ, our Lord, did not in itself have two contrary wills nor was the will of his intellect contrary to the will of his body and he who had come to take away the sin of the world had no sin.  Away from him be such a thing!  In Christ our Lord there was never sin, not even one, either in his birth or in his incarnation.  We profess and confirm that there was only one will to which was conformed his sacred humanity, and we do not accept at all that there were in him two contrary wills, one in his intellect and the other in his body”.  So wrote Honorius, patriarch of Rome, to Sergius, the patriarch of Constantinople.

Now, with regard to our own natures, we recognize two contrary wills, the intellect and the body, and some, bending this fact to their fallacious doctrines, thought that Honorius, patriarch of Rome, was saying that there was one and the same will in the divinity and humanity of Christ our Lord.  Now I ask those who advocate this doctrine:  “In what nature can we say that Christ God had only one will?  If only in his divinity, then his humanity had no will, so therefore he was not a perfect man.  If they say that this will alone was in the humanity of Christ, we ask them: “How could he then be perfect God?”  And if you respond that there are two natures with one will, this would not be possible at all.  We profess the incarnation of Christ and therefore we do not deny the two wills of his two natures, nor alter in any way the peculiarities of each of them.  But let’s say that each of the two natures of Christ, the incarnation of the one and only person, has a will.  We do not say that there are two persons, like the much-execrated Nestorius [said].  As for those who claim to be two natures and one will, common to the deity and humanity of Christ, and a single operation, well they are known to be in error, like the maligned Marone.  As for those who claim there to be one nature, one will and one operation, well we also know that they are in error, like the execrated Eutyches, Dioscorus and Severus, since this is the doctrine of the Jacobites.  But sound and manifest doctrine is that which [our] masters professed, namely that in Christ our Lord there are two natures, two wills and two operations in one person, for it is impossible that one who has two natures can have only one will.  If he had only one will, he would also have only one nature.  But if he has two natures then he must have also two wills.  We therefore ask you to tear up the parchment in which are accused Leo, patriarch of Rome, and the council of Chalcedon, so that it is not widely read and not understood in the hands of weak minds so as to shake their faith. We ask Christ our Lord to look upon you with his mercy, his forgiveness and his help and to subdue the nations with his invincible strength.”

3. When John, patriarch of Rome, had thus finished his letter, he affixed his seal and sent it by entrusting it to a remarkable man named Barsiqā, archdeacon of the Church of Rome.  He went to the sovereigns Heraclius and Constantine, but he found that Constantine had died.  The ministers and army generals revolted against Heraclius, and killed him, because they thought that he was the cause of the disaster that had hit them – they had indeed lost Egypt and Syria – and also because he was a Maronite.  In his place they elected king the son of the late brother Constantine and called him Constantine, with the name of his father.  This was in the eighth year of the Caliphate of Othman.  This new king, Constantine, was a godly man.  When Barsiqā handed him the letter of John, Patriarch of Rome, the king took it, read it and was amazed at the insight of the Patriarch of Rome.  Then he ordered that his answer should be written in these terms:

4. “We welcome, Your Excellent Holiness, your instruction.  We profess and believe in Christ our Lord there are two natures, two wills, two operations and a single person and anathematise anyone who dares contradict anything.  We also believe in what the Six hundred and thirty bishops gathered in Chalcedon said, and anathematise anyone who dares act against them.  We have complied with the order that you gave to tear up the parchment where is slandered Leo, the holy patriarch of Rome, and the Council of Chalcedon, and we gave it to the fire.  We remain steadfast in your teaching, which is the teaching of truth, and ask that you invoke upon us salvation, and preservation from every calamity.”

5. Barsiqā set off, carrying the letter of King Constantine in order to hand it over to John, patriarch of Rome, in response to his letter.  When he arrived in Rome, he found that the patriarch John was now dead and in his place had come a man of proven virtue named Theodore.  Barsiqā presented himself, let him know what the king had willingly accepted, informed him of his orthodoxy and handed him the letter that King Constantine sent him in response to the letter that John had sent to the two sovereigns.  The Patriarch Theodore took it, read it and remained comfortable with the orthodoxy of the king.  He answered him in these terms:

6.  “To King Constantine, singularly faithful to pure orthodoxy, from the patriarch of Rome, Theodore.  Almighty God, who protects his church, gave us the economy of his mercy by the event of your orthodox faith and has given us the opportunity to talk to you with joy and fervour in order to manifest this grace.  Because you have received your authority as vicars of the holy Apostles in order to defend orthodoxy and make manifest the true religion, not as Heraclius did who does not deserve to be called King because of his wickedness, and to be left out of the truth, nor as Sergius, Honorius, Paul and Peter, the patriarchs of Constantinople, who opposed the truth making themselves worthy of anathema, and that they deserved to be deprived of the place they occupied within the church, for the falsity of their doctrine and for the doubts that they spread among the people.  As for you, most excellent king, know that the true orthodox faith is the fruit of paradise and it is your job, most excellent king, to protect it, fight for it and make it manifest to the people.  We ask this through Christ our Lord to grant this with his blessing by his generosity.”  Patriarch Theodore affixed his seal to the letter and sent it to King Constantine in response to the letter he had sent to John, patriarch of Rome.  When he received the letter, King Constantine felt great pain to learn the news of John’s death.  Then he opened the letter and remained extremely pleased with the response that the patriarch Theodore gave him in place of the deceased John.  Then he ordered a reply.  When the king’s messenger came to Rome, he found that Theodore had died and that Martin had been made Patriarch of Rome.

7. In the time of Othman ibn Affan, King Constantine sent an eunuch named Manuel with a large army by sea and captured Alexandria.  Amr ibn al-As was at Misr [i.e. Cairo].  Amr ibn al-As came out against him accompanied by the Copts and other people of Misr.  Al-Muqawqas was with them who provided them money, housing, weapons and provisions.  They met at the gates of Alexandria in a furious battle carried on fighting for several days.  Eventually the eunuch Manuel fled along with all the Rum that were with him, they embarked and returned to Constantinople.

8. During the times of Othman ibn Affan were conquered Africa, Armenia and Khurasan.  Muawiyah ibn Abi Sufyan ruled Damascus in the name of Othman ibn Affan.  Mu’awiya made a pact of friendship with the people of Cyprus in the twenty-eighth year of the Hegira, the fourth year of the caliphate of Othman ibn Affan, for a tribute of seven thousand, two hundred dinars to be paid to Muslims each year, forever.  The same amount they gave to the king of Rum. Othman had the Koran drawn up, beginning with the longest suras and ending with the shorter ones;  he had seven copies made and ordered the destruction of all the others.  This was in the thirtieth year of the Hegira.  The people revolted against Othman ibn Affan and he was killed.  Those who killed him were Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr, Ammar ibn Yasir and Kinana ibn Bishr, on the eighth day of Dhul-hiğğa (others say “the eighteenth of Dhu’l-higğa”) in the thirty-fifth year of the Hegira.  He was eighty years old.  They buried him three days later.  He was of medium height, handsome of face, dark, had a thick and braided beard, and his teeth were linked together with gold frames.  His influential adviser was Marwan ibn al-Hakam.  He was buried in Medina in a place called ‘gisr Kawkab’.  The head of his bodyguard was Abdullah ibn Fahd al-Adawī and his ‘hāgib’  was the freedman Hamdan.


Leave a Reply