A saint and thirty-third patriarch of the See of Saint Mark (535-567). Theodosius was the secretary of TIMOTHY III and was chosen to succeed him. This occurred with the support of the Empress THEODORA’s chamberlain, Calotychius, and official circles at Alexandria. When he appeared for his enthronement, a popular uprising swept a rival candidate into his place, Archdeacon Gaianus, a supporter of the Julianist theology. Julian, bishop of Halicarnarsus (d. 518), attested that the body of Christ was incapable of corruption while the Monophysites believed that was true only after Christ’s resurrection. Theodosius was driven from the city for several months, but was restored by military forces under the Persarmenian general Narses (not to be confused with his namesake, the eunuch Narses, later commander in Italy).
Theodosius had exchanged letters with SEVERUS OF ANTIOCH; in 536 they exchanged letters of communion with the sympathetic Anthimus of Constantinople. But Justinian now took a strict Chalcedonian line (judgment based on the statement of the Catholic faith made by the Council of CHALCEDON of 451). Anthimus was deposed, and in 537 Theodosius was summoned to the capital and offered the choice of Chalcedon or exile from his see. He chose the latter, and for the rest of his life was interned in or near Constantinople, and for some time before Theodora’s death at her monastery in the palace of Hormisdas.
As a confessor for Coptic orthodoxy, Theodosius gradually won the support that he had previously lacked. After the death of Severus in 538, he was the leading theologian and ranking hierarch of the anti-Chalcedonian party. Later Copts were willing to accept the name Theodosians, perhaps originally given by their opponents. Theodosius guided his church by correspondence, but was restrained from specifically episcopal functions. However, in 543 he was able, with the support of the Arab prince Harith (Arethas), to consecrate a bishop for the Arabs, and more significantly, to consecrate JACOB BARADAEUS with a roving commission to ordain and consecrate, including some bishops for Egypt.
About the same time, Theodosius commissioned the priest Julian for the Nubian mission. The theology of Theodosius followed that of Severus. He recognized the full humanity of Christ while also asserting the single will of Christ. His writings included a theological Tome to Theodora, and later he condemned the eccentric heresy of the tritheists, who argued that one person and one nature in Christ implied three natures and three persons in the Trinity. After Justinian’s death in 565 Theodosius was honorably received by the new emperor, Justinian II, but died himself shortly afterward. Almost his last action was to authorize the consecration of LONGINUS, a priest of his entourage, as bishop for Nubia.
- Amann, E. “Théodose d’Alexandrie.” In Dictionnaire de Théologie catholique, Vol. 15, pp. 325-28. Paris, 1946.
- Bardenhewer, O. Geschichte der altkirchlichen Literatur, Vol. 5, pp. 1-9. Freiburg, 1932.
- Frend, W. H. C. The Rise of the Monophysite Movement, chap. 7. Cambridge, 1972.
- Hardy, E. R. Christian Egypt, pp. 130-43. New York, 1952.
- . “The Egyptian Policy of Justinian.” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 22 (1968):22-41.
- Maspero, J. Histoire des Patriarches d’Alexandrie, chaps. 4-6. Paris, 1923.
- Wigram, W. A. The Separation of the Monophysites, chaps. 9, 10. London, 1923.
EDWARD R. HARDY