Fathers of the Church

Letter CI. to the Deaconess Celarina

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 he asks a supporter to receive the traveling bishops well.

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

The flames of the war against us have been lit up again. After yielding awhile, the enemy of men has once more armed against us men nurtured in lies, who utter open slander against me, and say that I divide our one Lord Jesus Christ into two sons. I however know the distinction between Godhead and manhood, and confess one Son, God the Word made man. I assert that He is God eternal, who was made man at the end of days, not by the change of the Godhead, but by the assumption of the manhood. It is however needless for me to inform your piety of my sentiments, for you have exact knowledge of what I preach, and how I instruct the ignorant. I beseech you therefore since the workers of lies have poured their insults upon all the godly bishops of the East at once, and overwhelmed the churches with a storm, that your piety will show all possible zeal on behalf of the doctrines of the gospel and the peace of the churches. On this account the very godly bishops have left the churches shepherded by them, have disregarded the inclemency of winter, and endured the labours of their long journey, that they may calm the tempest which has arisen. I am sure that your godly excellency will regard them as champions of piety and governors of the churches.

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.