[St. Pachomius Library]

The Henoticon

In 482, the Emperor Zeno wrote to the Coptic patriarch Peter the Stammerer, offering to confirm him in the see of Alexandria if he would subscribe to a theological compromise attached (as he did). The theological portion of the letter was probably the work of Patriarch Acacius of Constantinople. It avoids saying clearly whether Christ has one or two natures, calls for a return to supposedly simple Nicene doctrine, and anathematises all "in Chalcedon or any other synod" who have deviated from it without specifically declaring either side to have done so.

Although the Copts were satisfied, Rome was not. Pope Felix III condemned the Henoticon and excommunicated Patriarch Acacius in 484, beginning the thirty-five year Acacian Schism. The one-nature party does not seem to have taken the compromise too seriously; it was while the Henoticon was in force that Severus of Antioch, hardly a moderate, was at the peak of his influence. The Henoticon was staunchly upheld by Zeno's successor Anastasius, but abandoned by Justin I.

Henoticon, which means "Act of Union", is also the alternate title of Emperor Justin II's Programma of 571, another (and more immediately failed) attempt to end the Miaphysite schism.

---Norman Hugh Redington

Under construction --- far from complete! Read with caution.


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