TYPE of Silence

After prolonged discussion, the Patriarch Paul and the administration submitted to the eighteen-year-old Emperor for his signature the edict known as the "Type" concerning the faith. The Byzantine chroniclers make no reference to the Type. But the Latins, on the contrary, from whom we have our knowledge of the matter, record that Paul beguiled "the very meek prince", that is, the Emperor, into issuing the "Type" which threatened to destroy the Catholic dogma. Another chronicler informs us that being deceived by Paul, the Emperor acceded to the heresy of "the headless one's".

This edict has survived only in the records of the Lateran Council. Again I point out that the Byzantine chroniclers maintain absolute silence concerning the "Type".

The edict take no stand whatsoever in the dogmatic disputes that racked the Empire at the time, nor does it touch upon any theological argument. At the opening it declares that the Emperor acts for the good of the Empire, but because he had observed that "my orthodox subjects" were disturbed by the various factions of which one maintained two energies and two will in the person of Christ, and others believed in one and only such, he henceforth forbade any discussion of these matters and would punish severely those that did not obey the provisions of the edict. It also proclaimed that the form of religion must be maintained and that all should adhere faithfully to the Holy scriptures, to the traditions and the decisions of the five Ecumenical Councils, and so on. At the end it ordered the removal of the Ecthesis from the narthex of Saint Sophia. By removing the Ecthesis and by insisting on the decisions of the Councils, Constantine III was in effect vindicating mostly the Westerners, for he banned all discussions on the single energy and single will, which hopefully in this manner would with time fall into oblivion.

In such manner did Constantine III hope to set to rest the religious dissensions that so debilitated the Empire. It was indeed a sensible and discreet political move on his part. I do not agree with those who compare the edict of Constantinople with that of Zeno when the latter had issued his "Henoticon" as a formula for agreement. Zeno had avoided mentioning the Fourth Ecumenical Council, that of Chalcedon. On the contrary, Constantine III, who as I have pointed out, abhorred dogmatic contention, explicitly recognized the decisions of the five Councils, and limited himself to these five only because he did not wish to officially condemn Monothelitism, which he hopefully would let fall gradually into limbo. [Naturally the edict aroused the indignation of the Monothelites. Since all argument on the wills of Christ were banned, the new dogma, of which the only religious content was the single will in Christ and no other Christological reference, would be forgotten with the passage of time. With the disappearance of the Ecthesis, that is, the text containing such dogma, the only official document by which it could be supported would no longer be available. After all, before the Ecthesis was issued, no one referred to one will or two wills of Christ. By banning Christological disputes, at least on the "wills", the Christian world returned to the situation existing previously, that is, before 630.]

The edict was impartial yet did not satisfy the Westerners who would accept no kind of compromise and especially sought the condemnation not only of the dogma but of its authors.

The edict of Constantine III was issued at the close of 648. At all events, Pope Theodore displayed no reaction against the edict. It is recorded that he died long before he could even study the text of the "Type". But can this be a fact? If the Type was issued at the end of 648, how could the Pope be unaware of its content when he died on May 13, 649. There are two possible explanations: either Theodore was pleased with the content which was in substance a victory for the Westerners, or the edict was issued in the first half of 649, and probably in May or June of that year. But the latter date does not appear to be substantiated by the texts.

Martin was installed as pope without, as explicitly required, awaiting approval of his election. He assumed his duties on July 5, the 8th year of Constantine III, "irregulariter et sine lege espiscopatum subripuisse", as the Byzantines record. As I pointed out the approval of the emperor was not only a mere formality. Without royal endorsement no one could be ordained pope or patriarch. This illegal action on the part of Martin followed by the flagrant violations of the provisions of the Type were looked upon as a challenge to the authority of the emperor and the imperial administration. On these grounds Martin, who was not recognized as the regularly elected Pope, was subsequently accused of, among other transgressions, occupying the papal throne irregularly.
Andreas N. Stratos, Byzantium in the Seventh Century (Amsterdam: Adolf M. Hakkert, 1975), vol. 3, pp.95-99.



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