Three Chapters

Three Chapters (Tria Capitula), the title of an edict published by the emperor Justinian. He having, in the year 542, been shocked by some of the writings of Origen, published an edict in which nine of the chief Origenist errors were set forth and condemned, Origen himself being also anathematized. Theodore, the Monophysite bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia, devised a plan by which to avenge the memory of Origen, and to strengthen the position of the Monophysites. He persuaded the emperor that the Acephali might be restored to the Church and reconciled to the decrees of Chalcedon, if the writings under three "heads" or "chapters" which he named were condemned, and so ceased to become stumbling-blocks to them by seeming to support the Nestorian heresy. These were (1) the Epistle of Theodoret against the twelve anathemas of St. Cyril, (2) the Epistle of Ibas of Edessa to Maris, and (3) the works of Theodore of Mopsuestia. All these writings having carried weight with them at the Council of Chalcedon, the condemnation of them by Justinian would be, to a certain extent, a repudiation of that council, and so a recognition of the Monophysites condemned by it. Attracted by the hope of reconciling the Acephali, and not seeing these consequences, the emperor published the edict of the Three Chapters, A.D. 544; giving a profession of his own faith, and anathematizing the three works above named. The edict was subscribed by the four Eastern patriarchs, and, after some hesitation, it was also assented to by Vigilius, bishop of Rome, with an added clause to the effect that in doing so he did not condemn the Council of Chalcedon. This assent he afterwards retracted when excommunicated by a council at Carthage, and in 550 declared the Eastern bishops separated from the communion of Rome. The condemnation of the Three Chapters, with a similar reservation respecting the Council of Chalcedon, was, however, confirmed by the fifth General Council, A.D. 553, the second Council of Constantinople. See Mansi, Concil. 9:61, 181, 487; Natal. Alex. 5, 502.

Three Denominations, a name given to the Independents, the Baptists, and the Presbyterians at the time when these three sects represented the great body of English Dissenters. They were the Dissenters recognized by the Act of Toleration (1 William and Mary, c. 18), and had the privilege granted to them of presenting corporate addresses to the sovereign. — Blunt, Dict. of Sects, s.v.

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