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Fathers of the Church

Letter XII. to the Bishop Irenaeus

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 consoles Irenaeus upon the death of his son-in-law.

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

Job, that famous tower of adamant and noble champion of goodness, was not shaken even by blows of continuous troubles of every sort and kind, but stood impregnable and firm. At the end however of all his trials the righteous Law-giver explained the reason of them in the words, "Dost thou think that I answered thee for any other reason than that thou mightest appear just?" I think that these words are known to your piety which is able to support the many and various attacks of troubles and anxieties, and so far from shrinking from them, exhibits the strength and stability of your administration. So the bountiful Lord, seeing the bravery and holiness of your soul, has refused to keep a worthy champion in concealment, and has brought him forth to the contest to adorn your venerable head with a crown of victory, and give your struggles as a high example of good service to the rest. So, my dear friend, conquer in this battle too, and bear bravely the death of your son-in-law, my own dear friend. Conquer in your wisdom the claims of kinsmanship and the memory of a noble and generous character, a memory which must always recall something beyond painters art or rhetorician's skill. Repel the assault of sorrow by the thought of Him who wisely administers all the affairs of men, with perfect knowledge of the future and right guidance of it for our good. Let us join in the joy of him who has been delivered from this life's storms. Let us rather give thanks because, wafted by kindly winds, he has cast anchor in the windless haven and has escaped the grievous shipwrecks whereof this life is full. But need I say all this to one who is a tried gladiator of goodness? Need I, as it were, anoint for endurance one who is a trainer of other athletes? Still I write. It is a comfort to myself to write as I do. I am really and truly grieved when I remember an intimacy that I esteemed so highly. Once more I praise the great Guide of all, Who both knows what would be good for us and guides our life accordingly. I have dictated this after writing my former communication, on one of my friends in Antioch telling me that the end had come.

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.