Liberatus of Carthage

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Sixth-century African cleric and theologian; d. after 556. An archdeacon in the Church of Carthage, Liberatus accompanied Bishops Caius and Peter to Rome in 535, carrying a synodal letter from the council held at Carthage after the Byzantine conquest of North Africa (j. d. mansi, Sacororum Conciliorum nova et amplissima collectio, 31 v. [Florence-Venice 175798] 8:849). Pope agapetus i mentions him in his response to Bishop Reparatus of Carthage (Patrologia Latina 66:45). Liberatus supported his bishop in his strong stand in favor of the Council of chalcedon at the beginning of the controversy over the three chapters (544) and followed him to Constantinople (551) when Reparatus was summoned to the capital by justinian i. Reparatus was deposed for his intransigence and exiled to the monastery of the Euchaites in Pontus (552). At the close of the Council of constantinople ii (July 553), Liberatus was forced to join him there (Victor of Tunnuna, Chron., an. 552563). Apparently on the death of Reparatus on Jan. 7, 563, Liberatus returned to Africa. Nothing further is known of his career.

He wrote the Breviarium causae Nestorianorum et Eutychianorum, which describes the Christological controversies from the accession of nestorius as patriarch of Constantinople (428) to the condemnation of the Three Chapters (553). Basing his doctrine on the orthodoxy of the Chalcedonian decrees, Liberatus described the intrigues that accompanied the theological disputes regarding the two natures in Christ and the efforts made by the Monophysites to discredit Chalcedon by attacking theodore of mopsuestia, theodoret of cyr, and Ibas of Edessa. He said explicitly that it was the partisans of Nestorius who misinterpreted the teaching of Diodore of Tarsus and Theodore in their zeal to combat the teaching of Eunomius and Apollinaris. While he defended the true Antiochene theology and was severe on cyril of alexandria because of his methods in dealing with opponents, he proved that the monophysites were wrong in the way they interpreted Cyril. His animosity was concentrated on Pope vigilius i, concerning whose career and death he furnished valuable information (c. 22).

Liberatus used excellent sources; for the course of events, he relied on the Tripartite History, which, as he remarked, had recently been translated from the Greek under the care of cassiodorus. For Chalcedon (c. 13) he employed the Gesta synodalia, the Epistolae sanctorum patrum, including the Gesta Acacii or Breviculus historiae Eutychianistarum (Schwartz, Acta conciliorum oecumenicorum, [Berlin 1914] 2.15), as well as a history "that he found written in Greek at Alexandria." This may be the Ecclesiastical History of zachary the rhetor. For the age of Justinian he used his own and the witness of contemporaries.

Well abreast of the doctrinal issues involved, the Breviarium is a valuable witness to the complexity and extent of sixth-century theological development. Its date of composition is difficult to determine. It records the death of Vigilius (June 7, 555) but speaks of Theodore of Alexandria as still living (d. 566 or 567).

Bibliography: Patrologia Latina, 217 v. (Paris 187890) 68:9631052. Acta conciliorum oecumenicorum, (Berlin 1914) 2.5:98144. É. amann, Dictionnarie de théologie catholique, 15 v. (Paris 190350) 9.1:630631. p. h. hebrand, Historisches Jahrbuch der Görres-Gesellschaft (1922) 223232. a. grillmeier and h. bacht, Das Konzil von Chalkedon: Geschichte und Gegenwart, 3 v. (Würzburg 195154) 2:159167. b. altaner, Patrology (New York 1960) 590. h. rahner, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, 10v., ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, (Freiburg 195765) 6:1012. o. bardenhewer, Geschichte der altkirchlichen Literatur, 5 v. (Freiburg 191332) 5:328329.

[f. x. murphy]