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Fathers of the Church

Letter VII. to Theonilla

Description

Theodoret’s letters are a mine of information for the history of the fifth century, of the author’s life and of the history of dogma in general. This large correspondence is distinguished for its unpretentious learning, felicitous diction and perfect grace of style. (Quasten) Here he encourages a recently widowed woman to look upon her husband’s death with philosophical and supernatural serenity.

Provenance

Theodoret of Cyrus (c. 393-466), the wise and zealous bishop of Cyrus, a small town near Antioch, was the last great theologian of the school of Antioch. Although he first considered Alexandrian Christology dangerous, and refused to condemn Nestorius until the Council of Chalcedon, his commitment to the correct doctrine of the Incarnation should not be questioned. As late as the 14th century more than 500 of his letters were extant, of which we still have 232.

by Theodoret in Unknown | translated by Blomfield Jackson

Had I heard of the death of your dignity's most honourable husband I should have written long ago, and now my object in writing is not to lull your great sorrow to sleep by consolatory words. They are unnecessary. They who have learnt the wisdom of philosophers and consider what this life is, find reason strong enough to meet and break grief's rising surge. And even while you are remembering your long companionship, reason recognises the divine decrees, and to meet the forces of the tears of sorrow marshals at once the course of nature, the law of God, and the hope of the resurrection. Knowing this as I do, there is no necessity to use many words. I only beseech you to avail yourself of good sense in the hour of need. Think of the death of him who is gone as no more than a long journey, and wait for the promise of our God and Saviour. For He who promised the resurrection cannot lie, and is the fount of truth.

Taken from "The Early Church Fathers and Other Works" originally published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. in English in Edinburgh, Scotland, beginning in 1867. (NPNF II/III, Schaff and Wace). The digital version is by The Electronic Bible Society, P.O. Box 701356, Dallas, TX 75370, 214-407-WORD.