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Fathers of the Church

Letter CXLIII. to Andrew, Monk of Constantinople

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) Here Theodoret expresses his desire to begin a correspondence with Andrew, of whose orthodoxy and character he has heard good reports.

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 never seen your piety nor have we ever communicated by letter, but I have become warmly attached to you. What has wrought the charm and continues to inflame it is the report unanimously brought by the tasters of your honey. All express admiration of the orthodoxy of your faith, the brightness of your life, the constancy of your soul, the harmoniousness of your character, the attractiveness and sweetness of your society and all the other characteristics of the true foster child of philosophy. For all these reasons I am attached to your godliness, and my longing has made me even begin a correspondence; but, my dear sir, grant me as soon as possible what I desire and let me have written communication from you. For when friends are at a distance considerable comfort is given them by epistolary communication. You will write to no man of heterodox opinions, but to one nurtured in the teaching of the apostles and preacher not of a quaternity but of a Trinity, for in reality I see little difference in the impiety of those who have the hardihood to endeavour to contract into one the two natures of the Only-begotten and those who endeavour to divide our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, God the Word made man, into two sons; if such indeed there be; I cannot think so; but Arians, Eunomians, and Apollinarians too have ever shamelessly fabricated this slander against the Church, and indeed laborious students may easily perceive that our far famed Fathers, lights of the churches, laboured at the hands of the foes of the truth under this accusation which is now levelled against me by the most excellent champions of the new fangled heresy. Our wise Lord has laid bare their impiety, for He could not endure to confirm the unholy heresy by His long suffering. Be sure then, sir, that you will be writing to one of like sentiments with your own; and of this you can easily assure yourself from my copious writings.

Write then to me in return, and again your letter, by God's leave, shall serve to kindle affection. And before you write, give me the help of your prayers, and beseech our good Lord to guide my feet into the right road, that I may travel the rest of my journey in accordance with His laws. You who have won right of access from your unstained life will easily persuade Him Who is eager to give us His good gifts.

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.