Fathers of the Church

Letter CXLII. to Marcellus, Archimandrite of the Acoemetae

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) This letter repeats the sentiments of the former, also to Marcellus, and includes a brief profession of faith in the Trinity.

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 Theodoret’s recall from exile and before the Council of Chalcedon.

by Theodoret in 450-451 | translated by Blomfield Jackson

I have already addressed your reverence in another letter, and have delivered it to your much respected brethren. Now again I address your holiness. I am induced to do so both by your admirable life, and by the praiseworthy zeal which you have shewn on behalf of the apostolic faith, fearless alike of imperial power and of episcopal combination. For granted that the majority of the council consented under coercion, still they did confirm the new fangled heresy by their signatures. Your holiness, however, was shaken by none of these things, but abided by the ancient doctrines which the Lord, by means of both the prophets and the apostles, has taught the churches to hold. These decrees I pray that I may preserve, and keep to the end my faith and confession in one Father, one Son and one Holy Ghost. For the incarnation of the only begotten made no addition to the number of the Trinity. Even after the incarnation the Trinity is still a Trinity. This is the teaching I have received from the beginning; this has been my faith; in this was I baptized; this have I preached; in this have I baptized, this I continue to hold. Of them that utter a lie about the Father the Lord has said "When he speaketh a lie he speaketh of his own," for what is said of the teacher is appropriate to the disciples. So these men who employ lies against me speak of their own, and do not describe what is mine. I am comforted by my Master's words "Blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad for great is your reward in heaven."

I entreat your piety to pray that I may not have my part among the wrong doers, but among them that suffer wrong on account of the truth of the Gospels.

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.