Fathers of the Church

Letter CXXXII. to Ibas, Bishop of Edessa

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) The present letter is very supernatural expression of comfort and companionship to Bishop Ibas of Edessa, who had also been deposed by the “Robber-Council.”

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

The Lord has taught them that suffer wrong not to be cast down, but to rejoice, and to derive consolation from the examples of old. For from the period of the first men down to our own days we find instances of men who have been zealous in the worship of the God of all, and vet have been wronged by those with whom their lot was cast, and have fallen into many and grievous troubles. Of these I would have gone through the entire list, had I not been writing to one of accurate knowledge of the divine Scriptures. But since you, O beloved of God, have been nurtured from your boyhood in the divine oracles, I have thought it needless so to do. I only ask you to cast your eyes on them, and to look on all the kind-hearted clergy that have done wrong, with sorrow; on all that look lightly on wrong doing, with pity; and to be sorrowful for the disquiet of the Church. I ask you to rejoice and be glad that I am a sharer in suffering for the sake of true religion, and to praise without ceasing Him who has imposed this lot on me. As for honour and comfort and the dignity of sees and wretched reputation, let us yield them to the murderers.

Let us cleave only to the doctrines of the gospel, and with them, if need be, endure any extremity of pain, and choose honourable penury rather than wealth with its many cares.

I am not writing in these terms in order to give you exhortation, for I know the courage of your holiness in trouble. My object is to make my own mind known to your piety, and to inform you that you have on your side comrades who are gladly incurring peril for the truth's sake. I have been anxious for some time to write thus to you, but I have been unable to find anyone to convey my letter. Now I have met with the very honourable and pious presbyter Ozeas, a man who is at once engaged in the battle for truth and attached to your piety. So I write and salute your holiness, and beg you to give me both the prop of your prayers and the comfort of a letter from you.

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.