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Theodosius, Monophysite Patriarch of Alexandria


Reigned 535 to 566; d. June 19 or 22, 566. He succeeded Timotheus III (Feb. 10, 535) through the support of Empress theodora (1), who had Monophysitic leanings. Rejecting his election, the julianist Monophysitic faction chose Gaian as rival patriarch. Theodosius, lacking popular support, fled Alexandria to take refuge in the Canopus Monastery until late May 535, when imperial troops drove the Julianists from Alexandria. After investigating the patriarchal election, the cubicularius Narses ruled that Theodosius was the legitimate Monophysite patriarch. Gaian was exiled, but the Gaianist controversy deprived Theodosius of wide local support. Byzantine Emperor justinian i summoned him to Constantinople in November or December 536, but did not dare to depose him. At first Justinian treated Theodosius well, hoping to induce him to accept the Council of Chalcedon. Sent to enforced residence at Derkos for some time, Theodosius was ultimately recalled to Constantinople, where he spent the rest of his life in gentle captivity in the company of Monophysite clergy. Meanwhile, Justinian sent a series of Chalcedonian patriarchs to Alexandria in an unsuccessful endeavor to destroy Egyptian monophysit ism.

While in captivity Theodosius made important contributions to Monophysitism. After the death of severus of antioch and the deposition of anthemius of Constantinople (536), Theodosius exercised leadership over the Monophysites throughout the Byzantine Empire. Although he shrank from open struggle with Justinian, he favored and assisted James baradai and others in Monophysitic missionary activity and encouraged the formation of the Jacobite Church. Theodosius chose his own syncellus, Paul, as Monophysite patriarch of Antioch. After Justinian's death (565), Justin II gave Theodosius an audience and offered to permit him to return to Alexandria. Theodosius died soon after this meeting, and the imperial government buried him with honors at Constantinople.

Theodosius occupied himself during exile by writing treatises against the agnoete, tritheist, and condobaudite heresies. Among the extant works of this prolific writer are a letter to Severus of Antioch and one to Anthimus of Constantinople, fragments of a tome addressed to Empress Theodora, and other Coptic texts. In doctrine, he adhered to the Monophysitic views of Severus of Antioch.

Bibliography: Patrologia Graeca, ed. j. p. migne (Paris 185866) 86.1:277286. cosmas indicopleustes, Christian Topography, ed. e. o. winstedt 314315, works and fragments. e. a. t. w. budge, ed. and tr., Saint Michael the Archangel: Three Encomiums by Theodosius (London 1894). f. robinson, tr., Coptic Apocryphal Gospels (Texts and Studies 4; Cambridge, Eng. 1896) 90127. É. amann, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al. (Paris 190350) 15.1:325328. l. duchesne, L'église au VIe siècle 9091, 101108, 338347. j. maspero, Histoire des patriarches d'Alexandrie 111121.

[w. e. kaegi, jr.]

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