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John of Antioch


Fifth century bishop of Antioch; d. c. 441. Little is known of the early life of John of Antioch, before his consecration as bishop of that see in 428, except that he was a friend and fellow student of nestorius. When the latter began to preach his ideas on the theotokos, John, as bishop of Antioch, urged him not to stir up trouble, and claimed that the title had been sanctioned by the early Fathers. Once the disturbance began, however, John sided with Nestorius. Summoned to the Council of ephesus by imperial order, John sent word that he and his suffragans would not be able to reach Ephesus in time for the opening session. As a result, the Antiochians were not present on June 22, 431, when the council condemned and deposed Nestorius. On June 26, John of Antioch arrived at Ephesus, was incensed at the reports of council proceedings, and began a rival synod that vindicated Nestorius and condemned cyril of alexandria as an Apollinarian. On July 10, the original council repeated its denunciation of Nestorius, and, on July 17, excommunicated John and his adherents. John appealed to the Emperor, who ratified the decisions of both assemblies, deposing Cyril and Nestorius.

As a result of the council, the Antiochene Church broke away from the rest of Christianity, although it seems that both John of Antioch and Cyril were sincerely desirous of reunion. In April 433, the schism was healed when John and Cyril were reconciled. John had sent to Alexandria a profession of faith probably drawn up by theodoret of cyr. Cyril accepted the formula and, in turn, John agreed to the condemnation of Nestorius.

This reconciliation caused violent reactions in the Byzantine Church. Those who leaned toward Nestorius's views thought that John had betrayed their cause and espoused heresy. Toward these, John at first adopted a policy of conciliation. Meanwhile, others criticized him for not stamping out nestorianism. Eventually, the Church at edessa, a Nestorian stronghold, renounced its ties with Antioch and began the East Syrian Nestorian Church. At this point John tried to use civil and military force to end the schism but died soon afterward.

John corresponded with proclus of constantino ple, Cyril of Alexandria, and Emperor theodosius ii on the subjects of Proclus's letter to the Armenians and the orthodoxy of theodore of mopsuestia. Some of John's letters on the Nestorian controversy are preserved among the correspondence of Proclus and of Cyril of Alexandria.

Bibliography: Letters Patrologia Graeca, ed. j. p. migne, 161v. (Paris 185766) 77:131132, 163166, 167174, 247250, 329332, 365, 877878; 83:144046. Synodicon adversus tragoedium Irenaei, Patrologia Graeca, 84:550864. Acta conciliorum oecumenicorum (Berlin 1914) 1.1:9396, 119; 1.4:79, 33;1.5:124135; 1.7:84, 146, 151161; 3; 4. m. le quien, Oriens Christianus (Leipzig-Wiesbaden 1904) 2 721. o. bardenhewer, Geschichte der altkirchlichen Literatur, 5 v. (Freiburg 191332) 4:362. 370371. w. kraatz, Texte und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur (Berlin 1882) 26.2:191200, on Nestorius. p. t. camelot, Éphèse et Chalcédoine 54, 7072, 209211. Histoire de l'église depuis les origins jusqu'à nos jours, eds. a. fliche and v. martin Histoire de l'église depuis les origines jusqu'à nos jours (Paris 1935) 4:163191. j. daniÉlou and h. i. marrou, The First Six Hundred Years, tr. v. cronin, of The Christian Centuries (New York 1964) 1:345348. b. altaner, Patrology, tr. h. graef from 5th German ed. (New York 1960) 329. j. quasten, Patrology, 3 v. (Westminster, Md. 195053) 3:118, 130.

[j. f. krastel]

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