Fathers of the Church

Letter CLXIII

Description

The Antiochene delegation sent this letter immediately upon arriving in Chalcedon. It expresses their mild dismay that Nestorius had simply been released from Ephesus rather than being restored to his see in Constantinople, and their determination to exert themselves in the cause of orthodoxy.

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. When Emperor Theodosius II heard of the events in Ephesus (see letters CLII-CLXII), he declared by Nestorius and Cyril of Alexandria deposed and had them imprisoned pending further hearings. These took place in Chalcedon before the emperor himself. The present and following letters are reports sent back to John of Antioch and the eastern bishops assembled in Ephesus by the delegation, including Theodoret, that these had sent to Chalcedon.

by Theodoret in 431 | translated by Blomfield Jackson

First Letter of the Commissioners of the East, sent to Chalcedon, among whom was Theodoretus.

On our arrival at Chalcedon, for neither we ourselves nor our opponents were permitted to enter Constantinople, on account of the seditions of the excellent monks, we heard that eight days before we had appeared (behold the glory of the most pious prince) the lord Nestorius was dismissed from Ephesus, free to go where he would; whereat we are much distressed, since verily deeds done illegally and informally now seem to have some force. Let your holiness however be assured that we shall eagerly join the battle for the Faith, and are willing to fight even unto death. To-day, the 11th of the month Gorpiaeum, we are expecting our very pious Emperor to cross over to the Rufinianum, and there to hear the trial.

We therefore beg your holiness to pray the Lord Christ to help us to be able to confirm the faith of the holy Fathers, and to pluck up by the roots these Chapters which have sprouted to the damage of the Church. We implore your holiness to think and act with us, and to abide in your ready devotion to the orthodox faith. When this letter was written the lord Himerius had not yet met us, being peradventure hindered on the road. But do not let this trouble you. Only let your piety strenuously support us, and we trust that gloom will disappear, and the truth shine forth.

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.