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Fathers of the Church

Letter XCV. to the Prefect Antiochus

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 informs a former imperial magistrate in the capital of the bishops’ mission and asks him to use his influence in favor of orthodox Christians.

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. Among these, most or all of XCII-CIX were sent with a group of Antiochene bishops who had gone to Constantinople to defend themselves and especially Theodoret against charges of heresy.

by Theodoret in c. 449 | translated by Blomfield Jackson

You have laid aside the cares of your very important government, but your fame flourishes among all; for they that have reaped the fruit of your benevolence, and they are many and everywhere, persistently extol it, proclaiming your good report in all directions, and stirring their hearers' tongues to join in the chorus of acclamation. When I behold the worthy fruit which adorns with its beauty its far-famed stem, I am delighted. For this reason I call your excellency to greater and higher deeds, and beseech you to give heed to the tranquillity of the churches. They have been overwhelmed with a great storm by the contrivers of calumnies against me, and under these circumstances the very religious bishops, making light of a long journey, of infirmity, and of old age, have left their own flocks unshepherded, and undertaken to travel this great distance, in their eagerness to confute the lies told against us all. I beseech your greatness to give them your protection, to shew care for the calumniated East, and your forethought for the welfare of the apostolic faith. It is only fitting that you should add this further glory to the rest of your 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.