Fathers of the Church

Letter Xc. to Lupicinus the Master

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 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

I have passed through the contests of my prime. I see before me the confines of old age, and have expected as an old man to have more honour given me. But I am a mark for the shafts of slander, and am driven to meet by defence accusations levelled against me. Under these circumstances, I beseech your excellency not to believe the lies of my accusers. Had I been living a life of silence, there might have been room for the suspicion of unorthodoxy. But I am continually discoursing in the churches, and therefore have, by God's grace, innumerable witnesses to the soundness of what I teach. I follow the laws and rules of the apostles. I test my teaching by applying to it, like a rule and measure, the faith laid down by the holy and blessed Fathers at Nicaea. If any one maintain that I hold any contrary opinion, let him accuse me face to face; let him not slander me in my absence. It is fair that even the defendant should have an opportunity of speech, and meet with his defence the charges brought against him, and that then and not till then should the judges lawfully pronounce their sentence. This favour I beg through your excellency's assistance. If any men wish to condemn me unheard, I accept with willingness even their unjust sentence. For I wait for the judgment of the Master, where we need neither witnesses nor accusers. Before Him, as says the divine Apostle, "all things are naked and opened."

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.