Free Online Bible Library | Nicephorus

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c.758-829. Patriarch of Constantinople. Like his father, he was an imperial secretary and strong defender of icons, a cause bringing the older man torture and banishment. In his secretarial post Nicephorus was commissioned to the Second Council of Nicea* (787), signing its promulgation sustaining the veneration of images. Shortly thereafter he withdrew to a monastery which he had founded on the Propontis, but without taking orders. Having returned to Constantinople as director of a home for the indigent, he was appointed by Emperor Nicephorus to succeed Tarasius as patriarch. His lay background, and his exoneration of a priest earlier deposed for countenancing the adulterous marriage of Emperor Constantine VI, evoked stiff opposition to him from the strong, renascent Studite Order.

With the revival of iconoclasm under Emperor Leo V, however, Nicephorus and Theodore the Studite joined forces against their mutual enemy. A majority of the clergy endorsed the policy of the emperor, who in 815 deposed and exiled Nicephorus to his monastery. Here he continued his polemic against the iconoclasts. Apologeticus minor (perhaps predating his exile), Apologeticus major, three Antirhetikoi, and several unedited writings constitute an apologetic corpus for icon veneration which is dogmatically definitive, apologetically thorough, and rich in its interpretation of patristic sources and preservation of imperial statements. His history of Byzantium from 602 to 769, Historia syntomos, acclaimed for objectivity and rhetorical style, wrestles with a theological explanation for the scourge of Islam. Chronographia is his chronology from Adam until 829.

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