Council of Chalcedon

The Council of Chalcedon (/kælˈsdən, ˈkælsɪdɒn/; Latin: Concilium Chalcedonense; Greek: Σύνοδος τῆς Χαλκηδόνος, Synodos tēs Chalkēdonos) was the fourth ecumenical council of the Christian church, convoked by Emperor Marcian. The council operated in Chalcedon, Bithynia (modern day Kadıköy, Turkey) from 8 October to 1 November 451[1] and was attended by 520 bishops or their representatives. The gathering itself continues to represent the largest and best-documented of early councils.[1] The principal purpose of the Council was to re-assert the doctrine of Council of Ephesus against the heresy derivative of Eutyches and Nestorius.[2] Such heresies attempted to dismantle and separate Christ's divine nature from his humanity (Nestorianism) and further, to limit Christ as solely divine in nature (Monophysitism).[3]

Council of Chalcedon
Fourth Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon, 1876 painting by Vasily Surikov
Accepted by
Previous council
Council of Ephesus
Next council
Second Council of Constantinople
Convoked byEmperor Marcian of the Byzantine Empire
PresidentAnatolius, Patriarch of Constantinople; A board of government officials and senators, led by the patrician Anatolius
AttendanceApprox. 520
Topicsthe judgements issued at the Second Council of Ephesus in 449, the alleged offences of Bishop Dioscorus of Alexandria, the definition of the Godhead and manhood of Christ, many disputes involving particular bishops and sees
Documents and statements
Chalcedonian Creed, 28 canons
Chronological list of ecumenical councils
Chalcedon marked on a map of the Istanbul region

As recorded by American Christian scholar Jaroslav Pelikan, it was stated:

We all teach harmoniously [that he is] the same perfect in godhead, the same perfect in manhood, truly God and truly man, the same of a reasonable soul and body; homoousios with the Father in godhead, and the same homoousios with us in manhood ... acknowledged in two natures without confusion, without change, without division, without separation.[4]

Whilst this judgment marked a significant turning point in the Christological debates,[5] it also generated heated disagreements between the Council and the Oriental Orthodox Church, who did not agree with such conduct or proceedings.[6] This disagreement would later inform the separation of the Oriental Orthodox Churches from the rest of Christianity, and lead to the Council being regarded as "Chalcedon, the Ominous".[6]

The council's other responsibilities included addressing controversy, dealing with issues such as ecclesiastical discipline and jurisdiction,[7] and approving Statements of Belief such as the Creed of Nicaea (325), the Creed of Constantinople (381 subsequently known as the Nicene Creed), two letters of St. Cyril of Alexandria against Nestorius, and the Tome of Pope Leo.[1] The Christology of the Church of the East may be called "non-Ephesine" for not accepting the Council of Ephesus, but did finally gather to ratify the Council of Chalcedon at the Synod of Mar Aba I in 544.[8][9]