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Fathers of the Church

Letter CLXXIII. to Andreas, 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) This brief letter expresses Theodoret’s satisfaction that, two years after their apparent triumph, as he sees it, at the Council of Ephesus, Cyril and the Alexandrian party have accepted the teaching about the Incarnation always defended by the bishops of the East. By “him who in the cause of truth has borne the brunt of the battle” he almost certainly means himself; hence this letter provides evidence that he was the author of the formula of union accepted by both parties in 433.

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. This letter was written during or shortly after the reconciliation of the Antiochene and Alexandrian parties in 433, two years after the Council of Ephesus.

by Theodoret in 433-434 | translated by Blomfield Jackson

"God is faithful who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape that ye may be able to bear it," and convicts falsehood,—although now refuted assertion of the falsehood is approved,—and the power of truth has been shewn. For, lo, they, who by their impious reasoning had confused the natures of our Saviour Christ, and dared to preach one nature, and therefore insulted the most holy and venerable Nestorius, high priest of God, their mouths held, as the prophet says, with bit and bridle and turned from wrong to right, have once again learnt the truth, adopting the statement of him who in the cause of truth has borne the brunt of the battle. For instead of one nature they now confess two, anathematizing all who preach mixture and confusion. They adore the impassible Godhead of Christ; they attribute passion to the flesh; they distinguish between the terms of the Gospels, ascribing the lofty and divine to the Godhead, and the lowly to the manhood. Such are the writings now brought from Egypt.

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.