Gonzalez, Justo L. The Story of Christianity: The Early Church to the Reformation. Revised and Updated ed. Vol. 1. New York: HarperCollins, 2010. Kindle Electronic Edition.
Ch. 28, “Eastern Christianity” Loc. 5150-5502.
In this chapter Gonzalez reminds the reader that during the Middle Ages the Church was still one entity, though the East and West were gradually separating. The political instability in the West led to the church filling a vacuum. In the East there was much less instability. “This usually led to civil intervention in ecclesiastical matters, particularly in theological debates” (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 5158). Theological debate tended to be couched in political terms. This eventually led to schism. Among these debates was the way the human and divine met in Jesus (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 5169). The Alexandrian school tended to emphasize Jesus’ deity, while the Antiochian school emphasized his humanity. The issue of how the two natures could exist in one person was a matter of debate in the East while the West simply confessed it but did not explain it (Gonzalez 2010, Loc 5190). In the East the Appolinarians postulated that God the Son replaced the human rational soul in Jesus (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 5200). This was rejected by the Council of Constantinople in 381. Nestorius later suggested that Mary be considered not “Mother of God” but “Mother of Christ.” This could downplay Jesus’ divinity and divide (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 5232). The Council of Ephesus in 431 rejected this though their ruling was immediately contested. On the other hand, Eutyches proposed that in his earthly work Christ had only one nature, the divine. This was rejected in a council in Ephesus in 449 (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 5253). In council in Chalcedon in 451 Eutyches was again condemned (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 5273). From this, most Christians accepted a view of two natures in Christ, but some, the Monophysites, found only one nature (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 5296). There followed several councils in which the factions condemned one another. By the early 8th century the controversy shifted to the use of images in worship, a common practice in the early church (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 5348). The source of the controversy is unclear. In 787 there was an ecumenical council at Nicaea which distinguished between worship and appropriate reverence (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 5369).
Gonzalez also mentions church bodies in the East which had sought autonomy (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 5381). These churches later declined but some still exist. Because of the spread of Islam they could not grow to the south but did expand into Russia and territories (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 5422). Relations between East and West tended to worsen until there arose what currently seems a permanent schism (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 5486).