New publication by CEMS senior member Volker Menze

April 12, 2023

Patriarch Dioscorus of Alexandria
The Last Pharaoh and Ecclesiastical Politics in the Later Roman Empire

Volker L. Menze

Oxford Early Christian Studies

Patriarch Dioscorus of Alexandria: The Last Pharaoh of Alexandria and Ecclesiastical Politics in the Later Roman Empire offers a thorough revision of the historical role of Dioscorus as patriarch of Alexandria between 444 and 451 CE. One of the major protagonists of the Christological controversy, Dioscorus was hailed a saint in Eastern Church traditions which opposed the Council of Chalcedon in 451. Yet Western Church traditions remember him as a heretic and violent villain, and much scholarship maintains this image of Dioscorus as 'ruthless and ambitious', a 'tyrant-bishop' feared by his opponents - the 'Attila of the Eastern Church'.

This book breaks with these negative stereotypes and offers the first serious historical analysis of Dioscorus as ecclesiastical politician and reformer. It discusses the discrepancy that theologically Dioscorus was a loyal follower of his famous predecessor Cyril of Alexandria (412-444) while politically he was the leading figure of the anti-Cyrillian party in Alexandria. Analysing Dioscorus' role as president of the Second Council of Ephesus in 449 and his downfall and deposition at the Council of Chalcedon in 451, Menze also offers a much-needed new reading of the acts of these two general councils.

Reappraising the life and role of Dioscorus ultimately shows how the Christological controversy of the fifth century can only be fully understood against the background of imperial politics-and its mechanisms for implementing 'Orthodoxy'-in the Later Roman Empire.

We offer Volker our earnest congratulations.