First Synod of Tyre

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The First Synod of Tyre or the Council of Tyre (335 AD) was a gathering of bishops called together by Emperor Constantine I for the primary purpose of evaluating charges brought against Athanasius, the Patriarch of Alexandria.

Background[edit]

Athanasius was involved in the early Christian christological and trinitarian debates, and supported the position of the Council of Nicaea in opposition to that of Arius and his followers.

In 328, Athanasius was elected as bishop or patriarch of Alexandria. Alexandria happened to be the city in which Arius was a priest. The situation was further complicated, as Athanasius had not yet reached the age of 30 - the minimum age for bishops in the church.

After Athanasius succeeded to the see of Alexandria, they had accused him of, among other things: immoral conduct, illegally taxing the Egyptian people, supporting rebels to the Imperial throne, and even murdering a bishop and keeping his severed hand for use in magical rites. More to the point, Constantine had decided that he wanted Athanasius to re-admit Arius to the church—which he would not do. In 334 Athanasius was summoned before a synod in Caesarea, which he did not attend.

The Synod[edit]

While a group of bishops were en route to Jerusalem to dedicate a new church (the precursor to the Holy Sepulchre), Constantine requested that they gather in the city of Tyre to consider the case against Athanasius. The Emperor also sent a letter to Athanasius, making clear that if he did not attend voluntarily, he would be brought to the Synod forcibly.

Eusebius of Caesarea likely played a major role in the council, but it was Irene, the empress and wife of Emperor Constantine, who presided over the assembly along with other laity.[1] About 310 members attended. Athanasius appeared this time with forty-eight Egyptian bishops. The Synod condemned Athanasius, so he went to Constantinople and confronted the Emperor personally.

Aftermath[edit]

At a hearing in the presence of the Emperor, Athanasius was cleared of all charges except one: threatening to cut off the grain supply to Constantinople from Egypt. This one charge was enough for the Emperor to exile Athanasius to Trier.

Athanasius did not return from exile until the death of Constantine in 337.

The Arianism of the Synod of Tyre was ultimately overturned by the Council of Constantinople.

References[edit]

  • Socrates Scholasticus & Sozomen, Historia Ecclesiastica, Book II: from the Council of Nicea to Constantine's death
  • Westminster Dictionary of Church History, ed. Jerald C. Brauer (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1971)
  1. ^ Garry Wills (10 September 2003). Why I Am a Catholic. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 978-0-618-38048-0. Retrieved 9 October 2011. 

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company.