Fathers of the Church

Letter CXXXIII. to John, Bishop of Germanicia

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 writes to a fellow bishop that although he is awaiting orders from the new emperor before leaving his exile, this exile has suddenly been converted into a pleasant retreat from which to continue writing in defense of the faith.

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. The present was written shortly after the death of Emperor Theodosius II and the ascension of the competent and orthodox Marcian, which promised peace for the Church and for Theodosius the possibility of return from exile.

by Theodoret in 450 | translated by Blomfield Jackson

I have always known, sir, that you are not unmindful of our friendship. And it has ever been my wish and prayer that your piety should give heed to exact truth, and shun the communion of traitors to true religion, ascribing to the Supreme Ruler His care on our behalf. For indeed, while I have been silent and inactive, He has put an end to our very keen and terrible sufferings, and has replaced the dire tempest by this bright calm. And now that the loving-kindness of the Lord has granted us this blessing, I find the quiet of my retreat indeed delightful, for I feel the necessity of persuading those who have been led away by the slanders launched against me, and of both convincing them of the truth of the teaching of the gospels, and refuting the attack of falsehood. When once this refutation is finished, and the victory of the truth is secured, it is my purpose to quit public life, and withdraw to the rest that I so greatly long for. As to the foes of the truth I cry with the prophet, "Their memorial is perished with a noise, but the Lord shall endure for ever." As to ourselves, I sing with the Psalmist, "He sent from above, He took me, He drew me out of many waters, He delivered me from my strong enemy."

This letter is in reply to two received from your holiness, one conveyed by Anastasius, the presbyter of Beroea, and one by the standard- bearer Theodotus. In your last letter you mention another, but this has not been delivered. As to my journey thither I can say nothing till I know what orders are given concerning me by the most pious emperor. His letter has not yet arrived.

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.