Fathers of the Church

Letter X. to the Learned Elias

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 asks a lawyer friend to see to it that another man, guilty of various injustices, be compelled to restore what he has stolen.

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

Legislators have made laws in aid of the oppressed, and advocates have practised the orator's arts to help them that stand in need of fair defence. You, my friend, have studied eloquence and the law. Now put your art in practice, and by it put down the oppressors, help them that are put down by them, and defend them with the law as with a shield. Let no guilty client enjoy the benefit of your advocacy, even though he be your friend.

Now one of these guilty men is that villain Abraham. After being settled for a considerable time on an estate belonging to the church, he then took several partners in his rascality, and has had no hesitation in owning his proceedings. I have sent him to you with an account of his doings, the parties be has wronged, and the reverend sub-deacon Gerontius. I do not want you to deliver the guilty man to the authorities, but in the hope that when his victims have told you all they have had to put up with, and have made you, my learned friend, feel sympathy for their case, you may be induced to compel the wicked fellow to restore what he has stolen.

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.