The Tomos of Leo, Pope of Rome

Silouan

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Since this issue has been brought up and the accusation made I would like a precise recounting of the position of those rejecting the council of Chalcedon -

Precisely quoting the specific parts of the Tomos of Pope Leo of Rome, where does he espouse Nestorianism?

The accusation is hurled very frequently, but I have seen little to back it up.

Thanks,

Silouan
 

Matthew777

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There are specific passages which can be quoted but I have to catch the bus in a few minutes and don't really have the time to look it up for you. Oftentimes, when I am confronted with such a question, I look it up for myself.
 

copticorthodoxboy

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From what I understand, our holy Father St. Dioscorus agreed with most of the Tome of Leo.  This is where he saw the Nestorian influence:

"There is nothing unreal about this oneness, since both the lowliness of the man and the grandeur of the divinity are in mutual relation. As God is not changed by showing mercy, neither is humanity devoured by the dignity received. The activity of each form is what is proper to it in communion with the other: that is, the Word performs what belongs to the Word, and the flesh accomplishes what belongs to the flesh. One of these performs brilliant miracles; the other sustains acts of violence. As the Word does not lose its glory which is equal to that of the Father, so neither does the flesh leave the nature of its kind behind." - Tome of Pope Leo

in Christ,
copticorthodoxboy
 

idontlikenames

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The only way I can see how someone would insist that this must be interpreted "Nestorianically" is if the  phrase "the Word performs that which is appropriate to the Word" is qualified by the adverbial phrase: "....acting in separation from the flesh".  Or if the phrase, "the flesh accomplishes what is appropriate to the flesh" (or whatever it says, sorry not exact quote) is qualified by the adverbial phrase: "....acting in separation from the Word".
 

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coptic orthodox boy said:
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From what I understand, our holy Father St. Dioscorus agreed with most of the Tome of Leo. This is where he saw the Nestorian influence:

"There is nothing unreal about this oneness, since both the lowliness of the man and the grandeur of the divinity are in mutual relation. As God is not changed by showing mercy, neither is humanity devoured by the dignity received. The activity of each form is what is proper to it in communion with the other: that is, the Word performs what belongs to the Word, and the flesh accomplishes what belongs to the flesh. One of these performs brilliant miracles; the other sustains acts of violence. As the Word does not lose its glory which is equal to that of the Father, so neither does the flesh leave the nature of its kind behind." - Tome of Pope Leo

in Christ,
copticorthodoxboy
What specifically is wrong with this?
One of these performs brilliant miracles; the other sustains acts of violence.
This sentence seems especially important to a proper understanding of our Lord.
 

idontlikenames

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Who's to say you can't interpret that as referring to the two natures in the abstract rather than in the concrete?....i.e. He performs miracles by virtue of his being the Word.....He sustains violence by virtue of his being human.....what necessity drives someone from being able to interpret that sentence in this sense?
 

copticorthodoxboy

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To Sabbas and David,
Forgive me, for I am not as learned as EA and Stavro on this topic, but I will try my best to shed my understanding on the topic.
First, lets take a look at what happened at the 3rd Ecumenical Council: Taken from Fr. Tadros Yacoub Malaty's "Introduction to the Coptic Orthodox Church."
"On the 22nd of June A.D. 431, the 3rd Ecumenical Council was held in Ephesus, at the order of Emperor Theodosius the Lesser. It was attended by 200 bishops, and St. Cyril the Great, Pope of Alexandria, chaired the council. The Council convened to try Nestorius, the Patriarch of Constantinople, for he divided Christ into two separate persons: the Son of God and the Son of Man. St. Cyril stressed on the unity of the Godhead and the manhood without mixing or mingling. He also stressed on the title "Theotokos," i.e. "the mother of God" for St. Mary, in order to clarify that who was born from her is truly God the Incarnate Word and not an ordinary man on whom the Godhead descended subsequently.


Now, let's take a look at what our holy Father St. Dioscorus found fault with in Pope Leo's Tome:
The activity of each form is what is proper to it in communion with the other: that is, the Word performs what belongs to the Word, and the flesh accomplishes what belongs to the flesh. One of these performs brilliant miracles; the other sustains acts of violence. As the Word does not lose its glory which is equal to that of the Father, so neither does the flesh leave the nature of its kind behind

What is lacking here, from the words of Pope Leo, is a concrete stance on the hypostatic union. This is why our holy Father St. Dioscorus found fault, for Nestorios stated, "I distinguish between the two natures" as Pope Leo seems to imply from his tome. And Sabbas, you are correct that we need to understand that Christ is from 2 Natures, but to speak of the 2 Natures acting independently after the hypostatic union, not only goes against the teachings of St. Cyril, but also the Council of Ephesus. This is also why Nestorius agreed with the Tome, at face level. This is why, and I agree with EA deeply on this, that the Tome of Leo can be seen in an Orthodox understanding, but it is very weak at doing so.

Well, just my 2 cents.
copticorthodoxboy

p.s.  I also want to state, I consider myself an Orthodox Christian, and not just an OO Christian, or a Coptic Christian (though my name implies it).  I believe that the Christological misunderstandings of the past have been better understood from each family of Orthodox Churches, and that we truly have the same Christology. 




 

Silouan

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Again how is this precisely Nestorian? 

Saint Leo always confessed THEOtokos not Christotokos - so to say that he held to a Nestorian division of the natures in Christ is dishonest. 

In the same tomos Saint Leo does say "in the Lord Jesus Christ God and man is one person."  How can that be twisted to mean Nestorianism.  If that is what Pope Leo confesses in his tomos, would it not make sense to infer that throughout the tomos he is speaking of Christ as a single person?
 

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Silouan said:
Again how is this precisely Nestorian? 
The problem with the language of the Tomos is not that it is specifically Nestorian but that its language can be so easily be accepted by Nestorianism, which is exactly what happened. The christology of St. Cyril, on the other hand, does not have this problem.
 

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Matthew777 said:
The problem with the language of the Tomos is not that it is specifically Nestorian but that its language can be so easily be accepted by Nestorianism, which is exactly what happened. The christology of St. Cyril, on the other hand, does not have this problem.
Yet we would say that accepting St. Cyril apart from Chalcedon (which he accepted) is insufficient, as it doesn't make enough of a distinction between the two natures.  Read what I just wrote in the long-since-sidetracked Thessoloniki thread.

coptic orthodox boy said:
This is why our holy Father St. Dioscorus found fault, for Nestorios stated, "I distinguish between the two natures" as Pope Leo seems to imply from his tome.
Well, good for Nestorius; he should distinguish between the two natures.  It doesn't then follow, however, that he should distinguish between two persons or separate the natures into contradictory actions (that italicized word is important!). 

And Sabbas, you are correct that we need to understand that Christ is from 2 Natures, but to speak of the 2 Natures acting independently after the hypostatic union, not only goes against the teachings of St. Cyril, but also the Council of Ephesus.
Acting independently?  Hmm...not sure this is bad in and of itself.  The divine is the divine, and there are certain things the human cannot do.  Likewise, the human is what was destined to receive certain things.  Like idontlikenames has said, the one Person of the Logos merely performed these things through the appropriate nature.  It doesn't mean that there are two, conscious Christs doing different things at different times.  This would be bad, as would saying that the natures acted against each other (which would divide the natures) rather than for each other, complementing each other (which unites the Person).
 

Mor Ephrem

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Pedro said:
Yet we would say that accepting St. Cyril apart from Chalcedon (which he accepted)...
Very quickly before I go to Liturgy and work...how could St. Cyril accept Chalcedon when he died seven years or so before it? 
 

Pedro

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Mor Ephrem said:
Very quickly before I go to Liturgy and work...how could St. Cyril accept Chalcedon when he died seven years or so before it? 
Whoops!  Crap, you're right...I was correcting stuff and forgot to edit that to say that he stated acceptance of the understanding of the two natures therein.

Happy Ascension!
 

Matthew777

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Pedro said:
Yet we would say that accepting St. Cyril apart from Chalcedon (which he accepted) is insufficient, as it doesn't make enough of a distinction between the two natures. 
If it were insufficient, why did the Council of Ephesus accept it before Chalcedon?
 

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Matthew777 said:
If it were insufficient, why did the Council of Ephesus accept it before Chalcedon?
That's a pretty daft question. I think you need to look at it as insufficient for some purpose not just insufficient per se. The Creed, after all, was sufficient at the time of the Council of Nicea, then became insufficient and was revised at Constantinople - that's how such things work - you can't see all possible future insufficiencies in a theological text until something happens to point them out to you.

James
 

copticorthodoxboy

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Silouan,
Peace, and you state:
Silouan said:
Again how is this precisely Nestorian?

Saint Leo always confessed THEOtokos not Christotokos - so to say that he held to a Nestorian division of the natures in Christ is dishonest.

In the same tomos Saint Leo does say "in the Lord Jesus Christ God and man is one person." How can that be twisted to mean Nestorianism. If that is what Pope Leo confesses in his tomos, would it not make sense to infer that throughout the tomos he is speaking of Christ as a single person?
First off, I'll leave all the history to those more learned. I know this is a cheap way out, but I'll confess, I'm not the best historian on the subject. However, you bring up a good point.

*Pope Leo always confessed Theotokos and not Christotokos, as well as St. Dioscorus.
*Pope Leo condemned the views of Eutyches, and so did St. Dioscorus (though, some would like to re-write history, and say otherwise).ÂÂ
*It is true Pope Leo speaks of "one person (prosopon)" of Christ but this term does not suffice, for the Nestorians used it to mean "mask," i.e. external unity. There was a need to confirm the unity as a true and "hypostatic" union, which the tome lacks.

in Christ,
copticorthodoxboy
 

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First, to my fellow ("Chalcedonian") Orthodox brothers...

I've found that as I've read up on this topic (and the early Christological controversies in general), that while on one hand there is much more room for toleration than most (including myself) would have ever imagined, I've also found that we (Orthodox, who accept the Seven Ecumenical Synods) are typically so conditioned by our conflicts with heterodox westerners, so as to be largely ignorant on this topic.

Because of this ignorance, we basically get our lunch eaten by Non-Chalcedonians who, for obvious reasons, are very pre-occupied by this issue (since they tend to view us the way we view the Roman Catholics).  Thus, as I've read and read, I've discovered that far from having a particularly impressive case, this is just a case of us being sloppy and ignorant of our own sources and of the controversies as they occured (and the situation of the Councils themselves.)  Upon looking at these controversies as a whole (and not just that which surrounded the Council of Chalcedon), it's quite clear where the truly catholic position lies, as opposed to a narrowness which actually supports that which is less complete (which is how I've more or less come to view the Non-Chalcedonian position.)  I've read one Orthodox author refer to this narrowness as "Cyprianic fundamentalism"; a sort of delusion which believes the entire universe revolved around Alexandria and the "school" which had erected itself there.

Coptic Orthodox Boy,

"There is nothing unreal about this oneness, since both the lowliness of the man and the grandeur of the divinity are in mutual relation. As God is not changed by showing mercy, neither is humanity devoured by the dignity received. The activity of each form is what is proper to it in communion with the other: that is, the Word performs what belongs to the Word, and the flesh accomplishes what belongs to the flesh. One of these performs brilliant miracles; the other sustains acts of violence. As the Word does not lose its glory which is equal to that of the Father, so neither does the flesh leave the nature of its kind behind."
There is nothing "Nestorian" about the passage, particularly when one reads the Tome of St.Leo whole and entire - and even less so, when one reads it as a part of the Ecumenical Synod of Chalcedon.  This is, frankly, looking for excuses to not be in communion with the Orthodox-Catholic Church.

What is lacking here, from the words of Pope Leo, is a concrete stance on the hypostatic union.
Bullocks.  What more than "one person" do you need?  While only God knows exactly why Dioscoros agitated on this matter, the logical deduction that such a rejection leaves us with is that one understands St.Cyril's "one physis" in a manner fundamentally different than either he or the consensus of the Holy Fathers would have it.  Personally, I'm inclined to believe that save for radicals like Eutyces (who were eventually found to be too out to lunch even by his fellow anti-Chalcedonians, at least from what I understand), few of the anti-Chalcedonians were in fact genuine mixers or diminishers of Christ's true and real humanity.  However, this begs the question of why reject Chalcedon...frankly, I think it was sour grapes and pride - a sectarian spirit which is the hallmark of schism.  This is probably why according to the canons, the anti-Chalcedonians can be received via economia (which generally is reserved for schismatics, or those whose errors while real, do not amount to the adoration of an alien "god").

And Sabbas, you are correct that we need to understand that Christ is from 2 Natures, but to speak of the 2 Natures acting independently after the hypostatic union, not only goes against the teachings of St. Cyril, but also the Council of Ephesus.
But who is saying "independent"?  That there was only one hypostasis involved here was made clear enough, and it's quite clear upon a careful reading of St.Cyril (particularly when one reads his letter to John of Antioch) that his usage of "one physis" is equivelent to this.

A problem which too few people are willing to appreciate, is that all of the terms we throw around in these discussions (nature, essense, "hypostasis", persona, etc.) not only were understood in a different sense by different parties at the same time, but also underwent some development in the time between the early Ecumenical Synods.  For example, this is why you'll find great Fathers (like Sts.Basil or Gregory of Nyssa) who were only threadbare adherants to Nicea - precisely because they were uncomfortable with it's language (which some of them saw as leaning toward Sabellianism - and it is precisely because of differing ways of speaking, that Eastern Christendom long suspected the West of this as well).

The fundamental error of the Non-Chalcedonians, IMHO, is utterly failing to appreciate this historical reality.  They don't seem to want to consider for a moment that anyone outside of their local theological tradition could have possibly had anything to contribute in terms of a corrective to the real ambiguities latent in St.Cyril's formula.  Keep in mind, that real "confusers" of the Divine & human like Eutyces, considered themselves faithful adherants of St.Cyril (though they in fact were not.)

This is also why Nestorius agreed with the Tome, at face level.  This is why, and I agree with EA deeply on this, that the Tome of Leo can be seen in an Orthodox understanding, but it is very weak at doing so.
It's also worth considering that in one sense, the Antiochenes (including those who would later proudly grab hold of full blown "Nestorianism", and end up being, oddly enough, "more Nestorian than Nestorius!") were correct, in sensing something fishy and "Apollinarian" in St.Cyril's formula.  While it is clear in context what St.Cyril meant, he took his formula of "one physis of God the Word Incarnate" from a text he thought belonged to St.Athanasios (and hence of great authority).  However, even in the sixth century it had become well known (and is accepted in any modern source I've read on the topic, Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Protestant, or secular) that the text was not in fact from St.Athanasios, but was from the hated (by St.Cyril) Apollinaris.  This is not to say this would be the first time something was taken from heterodox folks and distilled and "baptized" by giving a phrase a thoroughly Orthodox meaning - but it does point to a weakness in St.Cyril's definition, not against the excesses of those who would make Christ into "two", but against those unstable men who would make Him either only Divine or diminish His humanity to the point of being a footnote.

Matthew,

The problem with the language of the Tomos is not that it is specifically Nestorian but that its language can be so easily be accepted by Nestorianism, which is exactly what happened. The christology of St. Cyril, on the other hand, does not have this problem.
The problem with St.Cyril's language is not that it's specifically neo-Apollinarian/Monophysitic, but that its language can be so easily accepted by neo-Apollinarianism/Monophysitism, which is exactly what happened.

Just as Constantinople I was the continuation of Nicea I, so too was Chalcedon the continuation of Ephesus.

If it were insufficient, why did the Council of Ephesus accept it before Chalcedon?
That's like asking why the Council of Nicea thought it sufficient to end the Creed by simply saying "And the Holy Spirit. (Period)." ÂÂ That's because the circumstances which brought on Constantinople I had not yet occured.  Constantinople I was called, precisely because the "Cappadocian" school suffered a split, between those who understood rightly, and those who essentially held an Arianesque view of the Holy Spirit.

The same is true of Ephesus - it was fine as a safeguard against those who would try to portray Christ as simply a really inspired man, who was really "close" to God or anything similar to this.  However, it did not of itself address (as it would turn out) genuine concerns of those who felt it could be twisted towards a sort of neo-Apollinarianism, which is precisely what happened.  Hardcore monophysites like Eutyces were, as far as they were concerned, "good Cyrillians".  This was not true, and Chalcedon saught to set this straight.

 

Augustine

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Coptic Orthodox Boy,

*It is true Pope Leo speaks of "one person (prosopon)" of Christ but this term does not suffice, for the Nestorians used it to mean "mask," i.e. external unity.  There was a need to confirm the unity as a true and "hypostatic" union, which the tome lacks.
This to me, is another example of "fishing for excuses".  To be fair, it is true that the East in general held some suspicions (to varying degrees) of the West, particularly as it became more "Latin" (and St.Leo is certainly part of that period, after the Roman Church moved from being primarily Greek-speaking to Latin-speaking), that it was secretly Sabellian.  This was because the Latins had baptized the word "persona" and used it as the equivelent of "hypostasis" when speaking of the Holy Trinity.  Unfortunately, in it's pagan etymology the word simply meant "mask", and it was precisely the Sabellian heresy, that the Holy Trinity was simply three "states" or "appearances" God somehow took on when dealing with mankind.  However in context, it's very clear what the Orthodox Latins meant by their usage of this term.

In the same sense, St.Cyril's definition read in isolation, could be easily accused of being in error.  I stress "accused as opposed to "demonstrated to be in", since the latter is not possible if one approaches the matter with good intentions and not being hell-bent to find fault.  The die-hard hold outs in Antioch are guilty of at least this in regard to St.Cyril, the die hard hold outs in Alexandrian are guilty of at least this in regard to St.Leo.

 
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I see there’s going to be a lot of homework waiting for me here when I'm "officially" back. I’ve briefly skimmed through this thread, and I most certainly have a lot to say; however, I thought I would simply interject on at least one issue to temporarily carry some weight off the shoulders of my Orthodox brother coptic orthodox boy.

coptic orthodox boy,

Please allow me to demonstrate for you how to effectively strip the rhetoric and red herrings from a Chaledonian’s argument, in order to get to the base and substance of that very argument, such that your reader's focus is not distracted into thinking that your arguments have actually been addressed, simply because there is a chunk of text following a quotation of your argument. Let not anyone be fooled. You are on the right path my brother, you're doing well.

Allow me to quote a particular paragraph from Augustine's response to you; I will strike out the rhetoric and red herrings, so we are left with his essential argument, which is in itself an evasion of the issue at hand in any event.

Augustine states:

This to me, is another example of "fishing for excuses". To be fair, it is true that the East in general held some suspicions (to varying degrees) of the West, particularly as it became more "Latin" (and St.Leo is certainly part of that period, after the Roman Church moved from being primarily Greek-speaking to Latin-speaking), that it was secretly Sabellian. This was because the Latins had baptized the word "persona" and used it as the equivelent of "hypostasis" when speaking of the Holy Trinity. Unfortunately, in it's pagan etymology the word simply meant "mask", and it was precisely the Sabellian heresy, that the Holy Trinity was simply three "states" or "appearances" God somehow took on when dealing with mankind.  However in context, it's very clear what the Orthodox Latins meant by their usage of this term.
As you can see coptic orthodox boy; you’re left with a cop-out. We are given a speech concerning how the term may have been used and understood (which is not even entirely historically accurate mind you, but I don’t have the time to elaborate on that right now, nor is it of any significance or relevance to the point you were making), and then we are left with a cop-out argument that ambiguously refers to some sort of contextual data which supposedly saves the chalcedonian from the charge that Leo’s tome was Nestorian-prone. Essentially what Augustine is saying above, is: “well, some may have used the term 'person' heretically; however in the context of the tome, it is orthodox.”

This alleged context is neither specified, nor provided, precisely because the necessary context (which you correctly pointed out i.e. the defining of the hypostatic union) simply does not exist. Let us take a moment to recap what instigated coptic orthodox boy’s response to this issue in the first place; for it was Leo’s mere affirmation of the “one person” of Christ which was initially given to coptic orthodox boy by a Chalcedonian as an example of SUFFICIENT context which had its purpose to vindicate another prima facie heretical quote from the tome (the dividing of his two natures as to two subjects/centres of actions and hence consciousness) from its obvious heretical implications. By mere virtue of the fact that Augustine feels compelled to try and jump through another hoop in order to refer you to yet another contextual reference point to validate that which was supposedly sufficient context in and of itself, is evidence of the fact that the affirmation of "One person" does NOT suffice; and since this was essentially your claim, you have not been refuted and interestingly enough, behind the surface of Augustine's response to you, he has in effect implicitly proven your point for you!

I would like however to add to Augustine's great job in proving your case, by further validating the crux of this matter, which is; that regardless of Leo's subjective intentions, the fact of the matter is that both The Orthodox Church (“non-Chalcedonians”) and the Nestorian Church reasonably interpreted Nestorianism in Leo’s tome. When there is a dispute in terms of interpretation, as often happens with regards to legal contracts; the document must be analysed by the courts according to an objective criterion, such that the question to be answered becomes: “What would the reasonable person have reasonably interpreted from leo’s tome?”

With regard's to this, coptic orthodox boy’s argument essentially remains intact: Nestorianism can reasonably be interpreted from the tome, since the affirmation of Christ’s “one person” does NOT suffice in refuting Nestorianism if there is no clear definition regarding the hypostatic union. The fact of the matter is that Nestorius had no problem plainly affirming that Christ is “one person” per se. According to Professor Frances Young in his work From Nicaea to Chalcedon (pages 237-239), Nestorius defined the term prosopon as a thing’s “concrete manifestation, its external presentation”, such that Nestorius was thus able to affirm “one person” as it pertains to “Christ’s unity of person”, or in other words the "prosopic union". Whether Nestorius' "prosopic union" was a reference to One Person in Christ with two underlying 'grounds of being' or whether it was in reference to a third prosopon arising the uniting of two prosopa; ultimately one prosopon was confessed by Nestorius.

As has been mentioned on many occasions; Nestorius read over leo’s tome, and had only kind and generous things to say about it; the affirmation of "one person" was not overlooked by Nestorius, it was simply compatible with his doctrine, and neither he and his church, nor The Orthodox Church (Oriental) found anything in the context of leo's tome to reasonably negate this; and hence the consequent “reasonable” acceptance and rejection of it, respectively. Furthermore, Leo’s ill-association with Nestorian heretics did not help his case either.

Peace.
 

Pedro

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EA,

This is "unofficially" back?  ::)

EkhristosAnesti said:
...the question to be answered becomes: “What would the reasonable person have reasonably interpreted from leo’s tome?”...since the affirmation of Christ’s “one person” does NOT suffice in refuting Nestorianism if there is no clear definition regarding the hypostatic union.[/b]...The fact of the matter is that Nestorius had no problem plainly affirming that Christ is “one person” per se.
Well, good for Nestorius.  Kidding, of course, but only a bit...

Sigh...I'll say it again: it does not matter what Nestorius thought of us.  Nor does it matter, in and of itself, what word is used to define a thing.  Whereas you, EA, see what you did to Augustine's quote as "getting rid of red herrings" and the like, I see as the quick dismissal of a very valid point: that words have many connotations to them and have had many different ones throughout history, and it is these connotations--along with their development over time--which must be addressed, not simply the word itself, as if it were the be-all-end-all.

Therefore, some conclusions I'd come to (not for EA specifically, as I know he's "away"  ;))

  • Were Nestorius' connotations of prosopon (whatever they may have ultimately been) the same as those of St. Leo?  No, and all of us here know it.

  • Was it St. Leo's fault if Nestorius, who did not adhere to the Council's connotative declaration of the meaning of prosopon, took that word and ran where Leo never thought to go?  No.

  • Did St. Leo refer in his tome to the one person (and not the one mask) of the Logos incarnate?  Yes, so all this talk of what it "could be interpreted as" is, as Augustine rightly called it, making a mountain out of a molehill.  It's clear, when seen in context, what Leo meant, and it ain't Nestorian by a long shot, period.

  • Does it make any sense whatsoever to use the question "what would a reasonable person infer from Leo's tome?"  No, as such a question's answer greatly varies depending on where the seeker starts.

  • Is it reasonable to conclude that, just as certain councils addressed certain issues only to a point (as needed) and then in later councils, further clarified and solidified the previous stances, so Chalcedon was sufficient at the time and completed later on?  I think it is perfectly reasonable, and a point well argued by Augustine.  (Kudos to you, man.)  We insisted on the one prosopon with two physia and got rid of both Nestorius and Eutyches at the time (which ultimately makes the case closed, y'all) and then, in subsequent councils, affirmed in more precise terms later on, what was really believed all along
 
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