Ibas of Edessa bigraphy, stories - Bishop of Edessa

Ibas of Edessa : biography

- 457

Ibas (died October 28, 457) was bishop of Edessa (c. 435–457) and was born in Syria. His name in Syriac is ' pronounced Ihiba or Hiba, the quivalent of Donatus. He is frequently associated with the growth of Nestorianism, although his recorded acts do not support this reputation.


Early life

He appears first as a presbyter of the church of Edessa during the episcopate of Rabbula, warmly espousing the theological views which his bishop uncompromisingly opposed. He admired the writings of Theodore of Mopsuestia, which he translated into Syriac and diligently disseminated through the East.

The famous theological school of Edessa, of which, according to some accounts, Ibas was head, and to which the Christian youth from Persia and adjacent lands came for education, offered many opportunities for propagating Theodore's beliefs. The growing popularity of doctrines which appeared clearly heretical alarmed Rabbula, and he endeavored to get Theodore's works anathematized and burnt. However the church of Edessa was generally favorable to Theodore's teaching, and supported Ibas against their bishop.

Ibas attended the First Council of Ephesus in 431 as a presbyter, was cognizant of Cyril's autocratic conduct, Ep. ad Mar.; Labbe, Conc. iv. 662. and wrote in 433 the letter to Maris, bishop of Hardaschir in Persia, a letter which later became one of the Three Chapters. Maris had been at Edessa previous to the Nestorian controversy, and Ibas wrote to tell him what had occurred since his visit. Though evidently written under great exasperation, it shows Ibas as a man of independent judgment, and free from partisanship. In the letter, Nestorius is severely censured for refusing the title Theotokos to the Virgin Mary, and Ibas accuses Cyril of Apollinarianism, and denounces the heresy of his 12 chapters, charging him with maintaining the perfect identity of the manhood and Godhead in Christ, and denying the Catholic doctrine of the union of two Natures in One Person. cites Philippe Labbe, iv. 661, v. 510

When Rabbula died in 435 or 436, Ibas was elected his successor. This was distasteful to those who held the strong anti-Nestorian views of their late bishop, and they speedily planned to secure his deposition, by spreading charges against him of openly preaching heretical doctrines. The accusations soon reached the ears of Theodosius II and Archbishop Proclus of Constantinople. To Proclus the matter appeared so serious that towards the close of 437 he wrote to John I of Antioch, as the leading prelate of the East, though really having no canonical jurisdiction over Osrhoene, begging him to persuade Ibas, if innocent, to remove the scandal by condemning publicly certain propositions chiefly drawn from Theodore's writings against the errors of Nestorius. The same demand was made by Proclus of all the Eastern bishops; but Ibas and the other bishops generally refused to condemn Theodore's propositions. cites Labbe, v. 511-514

Although blocked so far, the malcontents at Edessa continued to work against their bishop. Their leaders were four presbyters, Samuel, Cyrus, Eulogius, and Maras, who acted at the instigation of one of Ibas's own suffragans, Uranius, bishop of Himeria, a pronounced Eutychian. While Domnus II, who had in 442 succeeded his uncle John I of Antioch as Patriarch of Antioch, visited Hierapolis Bambyce for the enthronization of the new bishop Stephen, Ibas' opponents chose that moment for action. Cyrus and Eulogius formally laid before Domnus the accusation against Ibas, signed by about 17 clergy of Edessa, and supported by 30. cites Labbe, iv. 658 Ibas, starting his journey for Hierapolis Bambyce to pay his respects to Domnus, learned of the accusation, at once summoned his clergy, pronounced excommunication on Cyrus and Eulogius as calumniators, and threatened the same treatment to all who participated in their proceedings.

Summoning by Domnus

In 445 Ibas was summoned by Domnus to the synod held at Antioch in the matter of Athanasius of Perrha, but he excused himself by letter. cites Labbe, iv. 739 The Domnus supported Ibas, and he showed no readiness to entertain the charges brought against him. At last, in Lent 448, the four chief accusers presented their indictment before Domnus and the council of the East in a manner too formal to be neglected. Domnus consequently summoned Ibas to appear before him after Easter to answer the charges. The council was held at Antioch, and was attended by only a few bishops: the existing Acts bear only nine signatures. cites Labbe, iv. 643 Ibas in person answered the 18 charges, mostly of a frivolous character and destitute of proof: e.g. that he had appropriated a jewelled chalice to his own use; that the wine at the Eucharist was inferior in quality and quantity; the malversation of sums given for the ransom of captives; simoniacal ordinations and the admission of unfit persons to the ministry and episcopate, especially his nephew Daniel, whom he had made bishop of Charrae. The most serious charges were that he had anathematized Cyril and charged him with heresy; that he was a Nestorian; and especially that at Easter 445, in the presence of his clergy, he had spoken the blasphemous words, "I do not envy Christ His becoming God, for I can become God no less than He." "This is the day that Jesus Christ became God". cites Labbe, iv. 647-654; Liberat. c. 12 The first charge he acknowledged, the others he indignantly repudiated as base slanders. Only two of the accusers appeared. Samuel and Cyrus had gone to Constantinople, in defiance of the terms on which the excommunication had been lifted, to lay their complaint before the emperor and Patriarch of Constantinople, deciding that a hearing by Domnus would obviously be biased towards Ibas. Domnus and the council declined to proceed in the absence of the chief witnesses, and the case seemed to be postponed indefinitely. cites Labbe, iv. 642 seq.; Theod. Ep. 111

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Living octopus

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