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Fathers of the Church

Letter CXVIII. to the Archdeacon of Rome

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 to the archdeacon of Rome was sent along with Theodoret’s appeal to Pope Leo I (letter CXIII), urging the recipient to intercede with Leo.

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 CXIV-CXXXII were written during his exile from Cyrus after the “Robber-Council” of Ephesus.

by Theodoret in 449-450 | translated by Blomfield Jackson

A terrible storm has attacked our churches, but the adherents of the apostolic faith have in your holiness a safe and quiet haven. Not only do you champion the cause of the doctrines of the Gospel, but you utterly detest the wrong done to me. I was living far away at a distance of thirty- five days' journey, when I was condemned at their good pleasure by those most righteous judges. Teaching which has obtained in the churches from the coming of God our Saviour till this day they have abandoned. They have introduced a novel and bastard doctrine, diametrically contrary to the tradition of the apostles, and are openly at war with them that hold to the ancient instruction. Deign, then, most godly sir, to kindle the zeal of the very sacred and holy archbishop, that the churches of the East too may enjoy your kindly care. Above all fight in behalf of the faith delivered from the beginning by the holy apostles; preserve the heritage of our fathers unimpaired, and scatter the mist that oppresses us. Give us instead of moonless night clear sunshine, and condemn the wickedness of the massacre unrighteously wrought against us. It is becoming to your holiness to add yet this act of zeal to your other good deeds.

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.