Fathers of the Church

Letter CLXIV

Description

This letter is an optimistic report on the initial proceedings at Chalcedon, expressing the hope that Cyril will be called to give an account of his actions, and the impression that the emperor and the people of Constantinople support their view of the orthodox 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. 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

Second Epistle of the of the Commissioners of the East, sent to Chalcedon, among whom was Theodoretus, expressing premature triumph in victory.

Through the prayers of your holiness our most pious prince has granted us an audience, and by God's grace we have got the better of our opponents, as all our views have been accepted by the most Christ-loving emperor. The reports of others were read, and what seemed unfit to be received, and had no further importance, he rejected. They were full of Cyril, and petitioned that he might be summoned to give an account of himself. So far they have not prevailed, but have heard discourses on true religion, that is on the system of the Faith, and that the faith of the blessed Fathers was confirmed. We further refuted Acacius who had laid down in his Commentaries that the Godhead is passible. At this our pious emperor was so shocked at the enormity of the blasphemy that he flung off his mantle, and stepped back. We know that the whole assembly welcomed us as champions of true religion.

It has seemed good to our most pious emperor that anyone should explain his own views, and report them to his piety. We have replied that it is impossible for us to make any other exposition than that made by the blessed Fathers at Nicaea, and so it has pleased his majesty. We therefore offered the form subscribed by your holiness. Moreover, the whole population of Constantinople is continually coming out to us to implore us to fight manfully for the Faith. We do our best to restrain them, to avoid giving offence to our opponents. We have sent a copy of the expositing, that two copies may be made, and you may subscribe them both.

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.