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Fathers of the Church

Letter CXXIII. to Uranius Bishop of Emesa

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 Theodoret corrects his suspicion (see letter CXXII) that Uranius might lack courage, expressing his joy at having a comrade in affliction. He also assures him that God has been providing for his material needs during his exile.

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

Your letter was a long one, and a pleasant one, and it shews how warm and genuine is your affection. So delighted am I with it that I am not at all sorry for having erroneously conjectured the meaning of the beginning of your former one. For my misapprehension of the intention of your letter has disclosed your brotherly love, made plain the sincerity of your faith, and shewn your zeal for the true religion. We have indeed shared between us the words and the trials of the prophet; your holiness has used the words; I am buffeted by the hurricane and billows, and against the towers of the ship I exclaim in his words "They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy." Perhaps He who is Jonah's Lord and mine will grant that I too may rise and be released from the monster. But if the surge continue to boil I trust that even thus I shall enjoy the divine protection, and learn by my own experience how His strength is "made perfect in weakness," for He has measured the peril by my infirmity. The divine prophet whom I have mentioned was flung into the sea by his shipmates one and all, but I am granted the consolation of your holiness, and of other godly men. For them and for your godliness I pray that the blessing bestowed upon the excellent Onesiphorus may be yours, for you have not blushed at my gibes; nay rather you have shared in my afflictions for the faith's sake.

And one thing which I wish you to know is that, though other godly bishops have sent me their bounty, I have declined to receive it;—not from any want of respect to the senders, God forbid;—but because hitherto food convenient for me has been provided by Him Who gives it even to the ravens without stint. In the case of your reverence I have acted differently, for really the warmth of your affection has overcome what has hitherto been my fixed principle. For be well assured, thy godly friend, that ever since friendship grew up between us the fire of our love has been kindled to greater heat.

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.