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Fathers of the Church

Letter CXXXVII. to the Archimandrite John

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 letter Theodoret recalls the wrong done him by the Monophysites, while rejoicing that orthodoxy regained the upper hand.

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 letter was written after the ascension of Emperor Marcian had begun to restore peace to the Eastern Church, but before Marcian recalled Theodoret from exile.

by Theodoret in 450 | translated by Blomfield Jackson

The blessed David fell into several errors, which God, who wisely orders all things, has caused to be recorded for the good of them that were to come after. But it was not on their account that Absalom, parricide, murderer, impious, and altogether vile, started his wild war against his father. The reason of his beginning that most unrighteous struggle was because he coveted the sovereignty. The divine David, however, when these events were coming to pass, began to remember the wrong that he had done. I too am conscious within myself of the guilt of many errors, but I have kept undefiled the dogmatic teaching of the Apostles. And they who have trampled upon all laws human and divine, and condemned me in my absence, have not sentenced me for what I have done wrong, for my secret deeds are not made manifest to them; but they have contrived false witness and calumny against me, or rather in their open attack upon the doctrines of the Apostles have proscribed me for my obedience to them. "So the Lord awaked as one out of sleep; He smote His enemies in the hinderparts and put them to a perpetual shame." Counterfeit and spurious doctrines he has scattered to the winds, and has provided for the free preaching of those which He has handed down to us in the holy Gospels. To me this suffices for complete delight. I do not even long for a city in which I have passed all my time in hard work; all I long for is to see the establishment of the truth of the Gospels. And now the Lord has satisfied this longing. I am therefore very glad and happy, and I sing praises to our generous Lord, and I invite your reverence to rejoice with the, and, with our praises, to put up the earnest prayer that the men who say now one thing and now another and change about to suit the hour, like the chameleons who assume the colour of the leaves, may be strengthened by the loving-kindness of the Lord, established upon the rocks and, of His mercy, made to pay the highest honour to the truth.

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.