Action Alert!

Fathers of the Church

Letter CLXV

Description

This letter reports the eastern delegation’s insistence that Cyril’s Twelve Chapters against Nestorius be condemned, and the refusal of Cyril and his supporters to discuss the Chapters. They have also tried, they continue, to defend Nestorius, but admit that he is generally out of favor, so that this has proved impossible. In general, Cyril has gained excessive influence by “domineering, cheating, flattering, and bribing.” As a result of this stalemate, finally, the emperor has sent everyone home. Cyril and Memnon of Ephesus have retained their sees, and Nestorius has been set free but is still considered deposed.

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

Third letter of the eastern delegation at Chalcedon to their fellow bishops in Ephesus.

To the very pious bishops now in Ephesus: Johannes, Himerius, Paulus, Apringius, Theodoretus, greeting. For the fifth time an audience has been granted us. We entered largely into the question of the heretical Chapters, and swore again and again to the very pious emperor that it was impossible for us to hold communion with our opponents unless they rejected the Chapters. We pointed out moreover that even if Cyril did abjure his Chapters he could not be received by us, because he had become the heresiarch of so impious a heresy. Nevertheless we gained no ground, because our adversaries were urgent, and their hearers could neither restrain them in their insolent endeavour, nor compel them to come to enquiry and argument. They thus evade the investigation of the Chapters, and allow no discussion concerning them. We, however, as you entreat, are ready to insist to the death. We refuse to receive Cyril and his Chapters; we will not admit these men to Communion till the improper additions to the Faith be rejected. We therefore implore your holiness to continue to show at once our mind and our efforts. The battle is for true religion; for the only hope we have,—on account of which we look forward to enjoying, in the world to come, the loving-kindness of our Saviour. As to the very pious and holy bishop Nestorius, be it known to your piety that we have tried to introduce a word about him, but have hitherto failed, because all are ill-affected toward him. We will notwithstanding do our best, though this is so, to take advantage of any opportunity that may offer, and of the goodwill of the audience, to carry out this purpose, God helping us. But that your holiness may not be ignorant of this too, know that we, seeing that the partisans of Cyril have deceived everyone by domineering, cheating, flattering, and bribing, have more than once besought the very pious emperor and most noble princes both to send us back to the East, and let your holiness go home. For we are beginning to learn that we are wasting time in vain, without nearing our end, because Cyril everywhere shirks discussion, in his conviction that the blasphemies published in his Twelve Chapters can be openly refuted. The very pious emperor has determined, after many exhortations, that we all go every one to his own home, and that, further, both the Egyptian and Memnon of Ephesus are to remain in their own places. So the Egyptian will be able to go on blindfolding by bribery. The one, after crimes too many to tell, is to return to his diocese. The other, an innocent man, is barely permitted to go home. We and all here salute you and all the brotherhood with you.

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.