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Fathers of the Church

Letter XCI. to the Prefect Eutrechius

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 is the second letter to Eutrechius (cf. letter LXXX) defending himself against his 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 well know, and need no words to tell me, how your excellency regards me. Actions speak more clearly than words, but I have been anxious for you to know the cause of the accusation that is brought against me. For I am suffering under a most extraordinary charge, being at one and the same time attacked as unmarried, and as having been married twice. If my present calumniators assert that I am falsifying the apostolic doctrine, why in the world, instead of accusing me in my absence, do they not attempt to convict me face to face? This fact alone is enough to give utter refutation to their lies, for it is because they know that I have innumerable witnesses to the apostolic character of my doctrines that they have urged an undefended indictment against me. Lawful judges must on the contrary keep one ear unbiassed for the accused. If they give both to the pleadings of the opponents, and deliver a sentence acceptable to them, I shall put up with the injustice as bringing me nearer to the kingdom of heaven, and shall await that impartial tribunal, where there is neither prosecutor, nor counsel, nor witness, nor distinction in rank, but judgment of deeds and words and righteous retribution. "For," it is said, "we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ that every one may receive the things done in his body according to that he hath done whether it be good or bad."

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.