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Fathers of the Church

Letter CLXIl: To Andreas, Bishop of Samosata

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 brief letter Theodoret comments to a fellow bishop not present at Ephesus on the disorderly events that have taken place there. For the perspective of the eastern bishops, including Theodoret, on the Council of Ephesus, see letter CLII.

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 are a number of letters pertaining to the acts of the Council of Ephesus, including the present, which is however by Theodoret.

by Theodoret in 431 | translated by Blomfield Jackson

CLXII. Letter of Theodoretus to Andreas, bishop of Samosata, written from Ephesus.

Writing from Ephesus I salute your holiness, I congratulate you on your infirmity, and deem you dear to God, in that you have known what evil deeds have been going on here by report, and not by personal experience. Evil indeed! They transcend all imagination and all incidents of history; they compel a continual downpour of tears. The body of the Church is in peril of dismemberment;—nay, rather I may say it has received the first incision;— unless the wise Healer restore and re-connect the unsound and severed limbs. Once again the Egyptian is raging against God, and warring with Moses and Aaron His servants, and the more part of Israel are on the side of the foe; for all too few are the sound who willingly suffer for true religion's sake. Ancient principles are trodden under foot. Deposed men perform priestly functions, and they who have deposed them sit sighing at home. Men excommunicated by the same sentence as the deposed have relieved the deposed of their deposition of their own free will. Such is the mockery of a synod held by Egyptians, by Palestinians, by men from the Pontic and Asian dioceses, and by the West in their company.

What players in a pantomime, in the days of paganism, even in any farce so held up religion to ridicule? Indeed what farce-writer ever performed such a play? What dramatist ever wrote so sad a tragedy? Such and so great are the troubles that have beset God's Church, whereof I have narrated but a very small part.

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.