Action Alert!

Fathers of the Church

Letter XCVII. to the Count Sporacius

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 brief letter to an influential friend expresses his sense of the growing crisis.

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

I am delighted with your excellency's letter. My pleasure has been increased by the very religious presbyter and monk Iamblichus, who has told me of your warm zeal, your earnestness in religion, and your real goodwill to me. On hearing of this as well as of the efforts of the glorious and pious lord Patricius on my behalf I give you the apostolic blessing which the blessed Onesiphorus obtained from that holy tongue; "The Lord give mercy to your house, for he oft refreshed. me and was not ashamed of my chain;" "The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day." This I pray for you, even though the enemies of the truth inflict on me yet greater miseries as they suppose; for we have been taught to regard men's purpose; but be sure of this, that with true religion death to me is very pleasant, and exile to the ends of the earth. Still we are distressed at the storm of the churches, which the Lord of all is mighty to disperse.

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.