Fathers of the Church

Letter XLIV. to the Patrician Senator

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 writes a high-ranking civil official on behalf of the people of Cyrus, who—partly through the malicious lies of a fallen bishop—are in danger of being ruined by exorbitant taxes.

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

Thanks be to the Saviour of the world because to your greatness He is ever adding dignity and honour. The reason of my not writing up to this time to exhibit the delight which I have felt at the colophon of your honour, has been my wish not to trouble your magnificence. At the moment of my now thus writing, the district which Providence has committed to my care stands as the proverb has it on a razor's edge. You will remember the visitation which was made at the time when we first were benefited by your presence among us; how it was with difficulty established in the time of the most excellent prefect the Lord Florentius; and how it was confirmed by the present holder of the office. An individual who bears the name of bishop, but of ways unworthy even of stage players, has fled from the episcopal synod at a time when he was lying under sentence of excommunication and is endeavouring to calumniate and discredit the visitation, while through his hatred to the illustrious Philip be assails the truth. I therefore beseech your excellency to make his lies of none effect, and that the visitation lawfully confirmed may remain undisturbed. It is indeed becoming to your greatness to reap the fruit of this good deed among the rest, to receive the acclamations of those whom yon are benefiting, and so to do honour at once to the God of all and to his true servant the very man of God the Lord Jacob, who joins with me in sending you this supplication. Had it been his wont to write he would have written himself.

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.