Fathers of the Church

Letter CXXI. to Anatolius the Patrician

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) In this letter to Anatolius, which must have been written shortly after the previous (letter CXIX), he shows that he has now seen the “Tome of Leo” (Pope Leo the Great, letter XXVIII) and Leo’s other letters to the now deceased bishop of Constantinople, Flavian. He rejoices in Leo’s authoritative statement of Christian orthodoxy, and sends Anatolius some passages from the Tome together with parallel passages from his own works, as a new defense of his own yorthodoxy.

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

The Lord who overlooks and governs all things has shewn both the apostolic truth of my doctrines, and the falsehood of the slander laid at my door. For the writings sent from the right godly and holy lord Leo, archbishop of Great Rome, to Flavianus of holy memory and to the rest assembled at Ephesus, are entirely in harmony with what I myself have written and have always preached in church. So soon therefore as I had read them, I praised the loving-kindness of the Lord, in that He had not wholly forsaken the churches, but had protected the spark of orthodoxy; or—shall I not rather say?—not a spark, but a very great torch, such as might enkindle and enlighten the world; for he has truly, in his writings, observed the apostolic stamp, and in them we have found at once what has been delivered by the holy and blessed prophets and apostles, and their successors in the preaching of the Gospel, and moreover the holy Fathers assembled at Nicaea. By these I confess that I abide, and indict all who hold other doctrines as guilty of impiety. Side by side with these writings of mine I have set one of the letters sent by him to Ephesus, to the end that when your excellency reads them you may remember the words which I have often spoken in church, may recognise the harmony of the doctrines, and may bate the utterers of the lie as well as those who have set up their new heresy in opposition to the doctrines of the Apostle.

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.