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Fathers of the Church

Letter CLXXIV. to Himerius, Bishop of Nicomedia

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 explains to Himerius (a fellow member of the eastern delegation to Chalcedon in 431; see letters CLXIII ff.) that Cyril of Alexandria’s most recent letter (cf. letter CLXXI) expresses the true faith of the Church, and that Himerius should therefore be reconciled with Cyril. At the same time, he advises him not to assent to the unjust condemnation of Nestorius at Ephesus.

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

We wish to acquaint your holiness that on reading and frequently discussing the letter brought from Egypt we find it in harmony with the doctrine of the Church. Of the twelve Chapters we have proved the contrary, and up to the present time we continue to oppose them. We have therefore determined, if your holiness has recovered the churches divinely entrusted to you, that you ought to communicate with the Egyptians and Constantinopolitans and others who have fought with them against us, because they have professed to hold our faith, or I should rather say the faith of the apostles; but not to give your consent to the alleged condemnation of the very holy and venerable Nestorius. For we hold it impious and unjust in the case of charges in which both appeared as defendants to lavish favour on the one and shut the door of repentance on the other. Far more unjust and impious is it to condemn an innocent man to death. Your holiness should be assured that you ought not to communicate with them before you have recovered your churches. For this not only I but all the holy bishops of our district decreed in the recent Council.

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.