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Catholic Culture Overview

Fathers of the Church

Letter CLXXV. to Alexander of Hierapolis


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) In this short letter Theodoret states, asking Alexander to send this information along to Antioch, that he will not be united or reunited with any bishop who condemns Nestorius.


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 the reconciliation of the Antiochene and Alexandrian parties in 433, two years after the Council of Ephesus. Although Theodoret was satisfied with the new doctrinal agreement with Alexandria, he refused to condemn Nestorius as a heretic and did not join the Union of 433 until a year later, when the requirement to condemn Nestorius had been lifted. (He never, or else not until much later, admitted that Nestorius actually taught the heresy associated with him. He was finally induced to condemn him at the Council of Chalcedon in 451.)

by Theodoret in 433 | translated by Blomfield Jackson

I have already informed your holiness that if the doctrine of the very holy and venerable bishop, my lord Nestorius, is condemned, I will not communicate with those who do so. If it shall please your holiness to insert this in the letter which is being sent to Antioch so be it. Let there then, I beseech you, be no delay!

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.

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