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Fathers of the Church

Letter XCVIII. to Pancharius

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 expresses his sorrow for the Church’s trouble and his faith in God’s power and providence.

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

WE are distressed to see the tempest of the churches, but their Master and Ruler ever through mighty billows shows to men His own wisdom and power. He rebukes the winds and brings about a calm as He did when He was in the apostles' boat. So though I am distressed, nevertheless because I know this power of our Saviour and am aware of what He arranges for us, even though adversity befall me. I give thanks and accept it as a gift of God. I have learned the lesson to care little for the present, and to wait for the expected blessings. But it behoves your excellency zealously to defend the apostolic faith, that you may receive from the God of all the recompense of such conduct.

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.