Fathers of the Church

Letter CLXXVIII. to Alexander of Hierapolis

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 suggests that John of Antioch, leader of the eastern bishops both at Ephesus in 431 and during the reconciliation of 433, must approve of his own consistency in refusing to condemn Nestorius. (Theodoret never, or else not until much later, admitted that Nestorius actually taught the heresy associated with him. He was finally induced to condemn him at the Council of Chalcedon in 451.)

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. This letter was during or shortly after the reconciliation of the Antiochene and Alexandrian parties in 433, two years after the Council of Ephesus. It is not clear whether it was written before or after letter CLXXVI, although the interpretation of the sentiments attributed to John of Antioch depend on this.

by Theodoret in 433-434 | translated by Blomfield Jackson

I think that more than all the very holy and venerable bishop, my lord John, must have been gratified at my refusing either to give my consent to the condemnation of the very holy and venerable bishop Nestorius or to violate the pledges made at Tarsus, Chalcedon and Ephesus.

He remembers also what was frequently received from us at Antioch after our departure.

Let no one therefore deceive your holiness into the belief that I should ever do this, for God is without doubt on my side and strengthening me.

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.