Fathers of the Church

Letter CLVIII

Description

This letter provides for the emperor a few details that were omitted from the formal report (letter CLVII), and adds that the senders have also communicated to the messenger, Count Irenaeus, their recommendations about how peace may be restored to the Church.

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. Published and numbered among these, however, are a number of letters pertaining to the acts of the Council of Ephesus, only some of which are by Theodoret. The present letter accompanied the second report from the Antiochene bishops at Ephesus in 431 (including Theodoret) to Emperor Theodosius II, who had called an ecumenical council at to be held there.

by Theodoret in 431 | translated by Blomfield Jackson

Report of(the bishops of) the East to the very pious emperor, which delivered with the preceding report to the right honourable count Irenaeus.

On receiving the letter of your piety we entertained hopes that the Egyptian storm which has lately struck the churches of God would be driven away. But we have been disappointed. Those men have been made even yet more daring by their madness; they have given no heed to the sentence of deposition justly and in due forth passed upon them, nor have become any more moderate in consequence of the rebuke of your majesty. They have trampled down alike the laws of your piety, and the canons of the holy Fathers, and, some of them being deposed and some excommunicated, keep festivals, and celebrate communion, in Houses of Prayer. And we, as we have already informed your Christ-loving majesty, on the receipt of your clemency's kindly letter, though our only desire was to pray in the church of the Apostles, have not only been prevented, but actually stoned, and chased for a considerable distance, so that we were compelled to effect our safety by flight at full speed. Our opponents on the contrary think that they may act just as they please. They have declined to make investigation of the questions at issue, and to undertake the defence of Cyril's heretical Chapters, rejecting the plain proofs of the impiety which they contain. They are impudent from mere impudence, while the examination of the questions before us requires not impudence, but calmness, knowledge, and skill in matters of doctrine.

Under these circumstances we have been under the necessity of sending forward the most honourable Count Irenaeus, to approach your piety, and to explain the position of affairs. He has accurate information concerning all that has occurred, and has learned from us many modes of cure, whereby it may be possible to bring about the restoration of tranquillity to the holy churches of God. We beseech your clemency to grant him patient audience, and to give orders for the prompt carrying out of whatever measures may seem good to your piety, that we be not here crushed beyond all endurance.

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.