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Fathers of the Church

Letter LX. to Dioscorus, Bishop of Alexandria

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) This fascinating letter is a deferential greeting to Dioscorus, who became patriarch of Alexandria in 444. Dioscorus would later illegitimately depose Theodoret at the “Robber-Council” of Ephesus in 449, and was himself condemned by Pope Leo the Great and the Council of Chalcedon in 451.

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 c. 444 | translated by Blomfield Jackson

Among many forms of virtue by which, we hear that your holiness is adorned (for all men's ears are filled by the flying fame of your glory, which speeds in all directions) special praise is unanimously given to your modesty, a characteristic of which our Lord in His law has given Himself as an ensample, saying, "Learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart;" for though God is high, or rather most high He honoured at His incarnation the meek and lowly spirit. Looking then to Him, sir, you do not behold the multitude of your subjects nor the exaltation of your throne, but you see rather human nature, and life's rapid changes, and follow the divine laws whose observance gives us the kingdom of heaven. Hearing of this modesty on the part of your holiness, I take courage in a letter to salute a person sacred and dear to God, and I offer prayers whereof the fruit is salvation. Occasion is given me to write by the very pious presbyter Eusebius, for when I heard of his journey thither I immediately indited this letter to call upon your holiness to support us by your prayers, and by your reply to give us a spiritual feast, sending to us who are hungry the blessed banquet of your words.

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.