Posthumous Orthodoxy

Christine Shepardson

in Melania

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2016 | ISBN: 9780520292086
Published online May 2017 | e-ISBN: 9780520965638 | DOI:
Posthumous Orthodoxy

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Melania the Younger died more than a decade before the Council of Chalcedon (451 CE) and the ensuing bitter conflicts between Chalcedonian and miaphysite Christians. Nevertheless, the Greek Vita by Gerontius portrays her as actively involved in numerous religious and political controversies surrounding bishop Nestorius preceding her death. This chapter argues that the historicity of her alleged anti-Nestorian activities in the Vita must remain in doubt. The anti-Nestorian Melania of the Greek Vita appears to support Gerontius’s miaphysite condemnation of the politically dominant Chalcedonian Christians, providing him with a useful weapon in the pressing Christological battles he faced following her death. While the anti-Nestorian stance Gerontius attributed to Melania remained orthodox in Greek Christianity, his anti-Chalcedonian views, which he considered the natural extension of Melania’s, did not. Gerontius’s Vita Melania thus serves as a microcosm of the complex and highly politicized fifth-century disputes over the definition of Christian orthodoxy.

Keywords: Melania the Younger; hagiography; heresy; orthodoxy; Christology; Nestorius; Nestorianism; Gerontius; Council of Chalcedon; early Christianity

Chapter.  8018 words. 

Subjects: Early Christianity

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