Fathers of the Church

Letter LXXXVIII. to Taurus the Patrician

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 letter to an imperial magistrate shows him trying to build a network of support for himself and for Christian orthodoxy against his Monophysite enemies.

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. Letters LXXIX-CXI date from 448 and 449, and chronicle the growing agitation in the Eastern Church during the Monophysite crisis, including the slanders that led to Theodoret’s illegitimate deposition at the “Robber-Council” of Ephesus in 449.

by Theodoret in c. 449 | translated by Blomfield Jackson

Slanderers have forced me to go beyond the bounds of moderation, and compel me to write to you who have adorned the highest offices, and obtained the most distinguished honours. I therefore implore you to pardon me, for I do not write in self sufficiency, but because I am thrust forward by necessity. It is not because I expect to fall unjustly into trouble and distress, for this is the common fate of all who have sincerely served God, but because I desire to persuade your excellency that those who accuse my opinions are producing false charges against me. From my mother's breast I have been nurtured on apostolic teaching, and the creed laid down at Nicaea by the holy and blessed Fathers I have both learnt and teach. All who hold any other opinion I charge with impiety, and if any one persists in asserting that I teach the contrary, let him not bring a charge which I cannot defend, but convict me to my face. For this is agreeable to the laws alike of God and of man, but to whom is it so becoming to champion the wronged as to you, O friend of Christ, to whom boldness of utterance is given by the splendour of your lineage, the greatness of your rank and your foremost place in the law?

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.