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Theodoretus, bishop of Cyrrhus

Theodoretus (2), bp. of Cyrrhus, or Cyrus, in the province of Euphratensis, was born at Antioch probably c. 393 (Tillemont). His parents held a high position at Antioch. His maternal grandmother was a lady of landed property (Relig. Hist. p. 1191, vol. v. ed. Schulze, Halae, 1771). His writings indicate a well-trained and highly cultivated mind, enriched by complete familiarity with the best classical authors. But his chief study was given to the Holy Scriptures and the commentators upon them in several languages. He was master of Greek, Syriac, and Hebrew, but unacquainted with Latin. His chief theological teacher, to whom be never refers without deserved reverence and admiration, was Theodore of Mopsuestia, "the great commentator," as he was called, the luminary and pride of the Antiochene school, but one who undoubtedly prepared the way for the teaching of Nestorius by his desire to provide, in Dorner's words, "for a free moral development in the Saviour's manhood." Theodoret speaks also of Diodorus of Tarsus as his teacher, but this can only have been through his writings.

The parents of Theodoret were both dead when he was 23 years old. Being their sole heir, he immediately proceeded to distribute his inheritance among the poor (Ep. 113), taking up his abode in a monastery, one of two founded in a large village called Nicerte, 3 miles from Apamea, and about 75 from Antioch (Ep. 119).

After some 7 years in the Apamean monastery, he was drawn to assume the cares of the episcopate. Of the circumstances of his consecration we are entirely ignorant. The see was that of Cyrus, or more properly Cyrrhus, the chief city of a district of the province of Euphratensis, called after it Cyrrhestica, an extensive fertile plain between the spurs of the Amanus and the river Euphrates, intersected by mountain ranges. His diocese was 40 miles square, and contained 800 distinct parishes, each with its church. It was singularly rich in monastic houses for both sexes, some of them containing as many as 250 inmates, and it boasted of a large number of solitaries. All of these enjoyed Theodoret's unremitting and affectionate solicitude and frequent visits. Cyrrhus was equally fertile in heretics. The East has ever been the nursery of heresy. Lying, as it were, in a corner of the world, not reached by the public posts, isolated by the great river to the E. and the mountain chains to the W., peopled by half-leavened heathen, Christianity there assumed many strange forms, sometimes hardly recognizable caricatures of the truth. Eunomians, Arians, Marcionites, and others who still more wildly distorted the pure faith abounded. To the recovery of these Theodoret devoted his youthful ardour and still undiminished strength, at personal risk. "often," he writes, "have I shed my blood; often have I been stoned; nay, brought down before my time to the very gates of death." Nor were his labours fruitless. Eight villages polluted by Marcionite errors, with their neighbouring hamlets comprising more than a thousand souls, one village filled with Eunomians, another with Arians, were brought back to the sound faith. He could boast with all honesty to pope Leo I. in 449 that by the help of his prayers not a single plant of tares was left among them, and that his whole flock had been delivered from heretical errors (Epp. 81, 113, 116, vol. vi. pp. 1141; 1190, 1197). He carried his campaign against error, which embraced Jews and heathen as well as misbelieving Christians, beyond his own diocese. He was unwearied in preaching, and his acquaintance with the Syrian vernacular enabled him to reach the poorest and most ignorant. His care for the temporal interests and material prosperity of his diocese was no less remarkable. The city of Cyrrhus, though the winter quarters of the tenth legion, could boast little dignity or architectural beauty. He calls it "a small and desolate city," with but "few inhabitants, and those poor," whose ugliness he had striven to redeem by costly buildings erected at his own expense (Ep. 183, p. 1231). >From his own ecclesiastical revenues—which cannot have been small—he erected public porticos, two large bridges, and public baths, and, finding the city without any regular water-supply, constructed an aqueduct, and by a catchwater drain guarded the city against inundation from the marshes (Epp. 79, 81). These works attracted architects and engineers to the city, and afforded remunerative employment to many people, for whose benefit he secured the help of presbyters skilled in medical science (Epp. 114, 115). Finding that the severity of the state imposts caused many to throw up their farms, leaving the civil authorities to make good their deficiency, a liability they were seeking to avoid by flight, he wrote to the empress Pulcheria, entreating her to lighten so intolerable a burden (Ep. 43, p. 1102), as well as to the patrician Anatolius (Ep. 45, p. 1104). With considerable trouble he obtained from Palestine relics of prophets, apostles, and 959martyrs, for the greater glory of a church he had built (Relig. Hist. c. xxi. p. 1251; Ep. 66). So great was his zeal for orthodoxy that, having discovered in the churches of his diocese more than 200 copies of the Diatessaron of Tatian, which he regarded as tainted with heresy, he destroyed them all, and substituted the ordinary text of the four Gospels (Haer. Fab. lib. i. c. 20). His life as bishop differed as little as possible from that he had lived in his monastery. State and official routine were very distasteful to him, and he avoided them as far as possible, devoting himself to the spiritual side of his office (Epp. 16, 79, 81, 145)

The critical period in the life of Theodoret was in connexion with the Nestorian controversy, through which he is chiefly known to us. His personal share in it began towards the end of 430, with the receipt by John, the patriarch of Antioch, of the letters of Celestine and Cyril, relative to the condemnation of the doctrines of Nestorius obtained by the Western bishops in Aug. 429. The high-handed behaviour of the patriarchs of Rome and Alexandria towards the bp. of the new Rome, a personal friend of long standing to both of them, was no less offensive to Theodoret than to John. When these documents arrived, Theodoret was at Antioch with other bishops of the province. The admirable letter (see Labbe, iii. 390 seq.; Baluz. col. 445, c. xxi.) despatched in the name of John and his suffragans to Nestorius, exhorting him to give up his objections to the term "Theotokos," seeing that its true sense was part of the Church's faith, and entreating him not to throw the whole of Christendom into confusion for the sake of a word, has been with great show of probability ascribed to the practised pen of Theodoret. The controversy was speedily rendered much fiercer by the publication of Cyril's celebrated twelve "Anathematisms" or "Articles." Designed to crush one form of heretical teaching as regards our Lord's personal nature, these "articles" (detached, against Cyril's intention, from the letter on which they were based) hardly escaped falling into the opposite error. The Godhead of Christ was asserted with such emphasis that to some readers His manhood might seem obscured. John was shocked at what he deemed the positive affinity to Apollinarian doctrine of some of these articles, and applied first to Andreas of Samosata and then to Theodoret to confute them. Theodoret readily replied to the anathematisms seriatim. So completely at variance with orthodoxy did he regard them, that in the letter to John (reckoned as Ep. 150) prefixed to his observations upon them, he expresses a suspicion that some "enemies of the truth" had been sheltering themselves under Cyril's name. For the nature of these documents and for the objections urged by Theodoret and his friends, which, with much that is illogical and inconsistent, contain much that is prima facie Nestorian see CYRILLUS. The documents were prior to the council of Ephesus and to the formal condemnation of Nestorius then passed. At that gathering Theodoret, accompanying his metropolitan, Alexander of Hierapolis, was among the earlier comers, anticipating the Oriental brethren, whose arrival he, with 68 bishops, vainly urged should be waited for before the council opened (Baluz. c. vii. 697–699). On the arrival of John and his Oriental brethren, Theodoret at once united himself to them, and gave his voice for the deposition and excommunication of Cyril, Memnon, and their adherents (Labbe, iii. 597–599). He took part also in the proceedings which ensued, when the "concilium" and the "conciliabulum" launched thunderbolts against each other, deposing and excommunicating. Theodoret was one of the Oriental commissioners to the emperor Theodosius II. at Constantinople, representing his metropolitan Alexander (ib. 728). The deputies not being allowed to enter Constantinople, audiences with the emperor were held at Chalcedon, Sept. 431. Theodoret's name appears in the letters and other documents passing between the Oriental party at Ephesus and their representatives in Chalcedon, in which much was said and written in a bitter spirit (Labbe, vol. iii. 724–746; Theod. ed. Schulze, vol. iv. pp. 1336–1354). Of the five sessions held at Chalcedon the proceedings of the first alone are recorded. We have also a few scanty fragments of speeches and homilies of Theodoret at this period, characterized by distressing acrimony (Theod. ed. Schulze, vol. v. pp. 104–109), and a letter of his to Alexander of Hierapolis, whom he was representing, informing him how matters were going on at Chalcedon, telling him of the popularity of the deputies with the people, who, in spite of the hostility of the clergy and monks by whom they had been repeatedly stoned, flocked to hear them, assembling in a large court surrounded with porticos, the churches being closed against them; but Theodoret laments their ill-success with the emperor. Before the deputies finally left Chalcedon, the Orientals delivered addresses to the adherents of the deposed Nestorius who had crossed the Bosphorus from Constantinople. The first of these was by Theodoret. He and his companions, he said, were shut out from the royal city on account of their fidelity to Christ, but the Heavenly Jerusalem was still open to them. On their way home from Ephesus the Orientals, Theodoret among them, held a synod at Tarsus and renewed the sentence of deposition on Cyril in conjunction with the seven orthodox deputies to Theodosius II., which they published in a circular letter. They engaged also never to abandon Nestorius. Theodoret returned to his diocese, and devoted himself to composing a fresh work assailing the obnoxious anathematisms, entitled Pentalogus, from its division into five books. Only a few fragments remain. Other treatises he wrote then are lost. But we have, in a Latin version, a long letter addressed to the followers of Nestorius at Constantinople, declaring his adherence to the orthodox faith, although he had felt unable to acquiesce in the condemnation of Nestorius, not believing that the doctrines ascribed to him were actually held by him (Baluz. Synod. c. 40, 742). Cyril found it impossible to accept the terms proposed in Theodoret's articles. He explained his objections in a 960long letter to Acacius, which, however, opened a way for pacification by interpretations of some questionable points in his anathematisms which he refused to withdraw. This letter Theodoret regarded as orthodox, but irreconcilable with the anathematisms, which he still regarded as heretical. He was, however, precluded from accepting the terms of peace which John and others were increasingly inclined to acquiesce in, by the demand that he should anathematize the doctrine of Nestorius and Nestorius himself. To do this (Theodoret writes to his friend Andrew of Samosata) would be to anathematize godliness itself. He is ready to anathematize all who assert that Christ was mere man, or who divide Him into two Sons, or who deny His Godhead. But if they anathematized a man of whom they were not the judges, and his doctrine which they knew to be sound, en bloc, "indeterminate," they would act impiously (ib. 766, c. 61). At this epoch, as Hefele remarks (Hist. of Councils, vol. iii. p. 127 Eng. trans.), the Orientals were divided into two great parties: the peace-seeking majority, with John of Antioch and the venerable Acacius at their head, ready to meet Cyril half-way; the violent party of irreconcilables, with Alexander of Hierapolis as their leader, opposed to all reconciliation as treason to the truth; while a third or middle party was led by Theodoret and Andrew of Samosata, anxious for peace, but on terms of their own. Theodoret and his scanty band of adherents failed to secure the confidence of either of the two great parties. His inflexible metropolitan, Alexander, vehemently denounced as treason to the truth any approach to reconciliation with Cyril. Against this reproach and against the suspicion that he had given in to escape persecution or to secure a higher place Theodoret sought to defend himself (ib. c. 72, 775). Though still holding back from reconciliation with Cyril, he was virtually the means of bringing about the long-desired peace. The declaration of faith presented to Cyril by Paul of Emesa, as representing the belief of John, and accepted by Cyril, had been originally drawn up by Theodoret at Ephesus. The paragraphs directed against Cyril's twelve articles were slightly modified, but the main body was unaltered (Cyril. ed. Pusey, vi. 44; Baluz. c. 96, 97, 804; Tillem. Mém. eccl. xiv. 531; Hefele, op. cit. iii. 130 ff.). The reconciliation, however, was by no means acceptable to Theodoret. For it demanded acceptance of the deposition of Nestorius, the anathematizing of Nestorius's doctrines, and the giving up the four metropolitans of his party who had been deposed at Constantinople. Theodoret's protest was in vain. Theodosius insisted on the deposition and expulsion of all bishops who continued opposed to union. Finding his growing isolation more and more intolerable, Theodoret invited the chiefs of the fast-lessening band of his sympathizers, Alexander, Andrew, and others, to take counsel at Zeugma, in reference to the union with Cyril, which had been accepted by John and earnestly pressed upon them by the combined weight of the ecclesiastical and civil power. Alexander refused to attend the synod except on his own terms. The bishops who met, as Theodoret informed John (Baluz. c. 95, 662, 801), accepted the orthodoxy of Cyril's letter and regarded it as a recantation of his obnoxious twelve articles, but would not pronounce an anathema on Nestorius. John, now hopeless of peace otherwise, applied to the secular power. His method proved generally effectual. One by one the recalcitrant prelates yielded, except Alexander and some others. Theodoret was one of the last to yield. The coldness arising between him and John after John's reconciliation with Cyril had been much increased by John's uncanonical intrusion into the province of Alexander in the ordination of bishops. Theodoret, with the other bishops of the province, on this, withdrew from communion with him, and published a synodical letter charging him with ordaining unworthy persons (ib. 831, 850). Long and painful controversy ensued, only crushed at last by John's appealing to the imperial power. All eventually yielded to combined entreaties and menaces save Alexander and a small band of irreconcilables, who were banished from their sees. Theodoret was assailed on his tenderest side by harassing his diocese. The unhappy renewal of strife, concerning the doctrines of Diodorus and Theodoret, brought Theodoret and Cyril once more into collision. For the details of the conflict see CYRILLUS OF ALEXANDRIA; PROCLUS; RABBULAS; IBAS. The long and bitter controversy, in which both parties did and said many regrettable things; was closed by the death of Cyril, June 9 or 27, 444.

The succession of Dioscorus to Cyril's patriarchal throne led to fresh trials for Theodoret. Dioscorus was resolved to bring about Theodoret's overthrow, as Theodoret was one of the first to discern the nascent heresy of Eutyches, and directed the powers of a well-trained intellect and great theological learning to exposing it. The ear of the emperor was gained, and Theodoret was represented as a turbulent busybody, constantly at Antioch and other cities, taking part in councils and assemblies instead of attending to his diocese; a troublesome agitator, stirring up strife wherever he moved (Ep. 79, p. 1135, etc.). He was also accused on theological grounds. Dioscorus, who seems to have regarded himself as "the lawful inheritor of Cyril's guardianship of anti-Nestorian orthodoxy," wrote to Theodoret's patriarch, Domnus, who c. 442 had succeeded his uncle John in the see of Antioch, informing him that Theodoret was creating a crypto-Nestorian party, practically teaching Nestorianism under another name and striking at "the one Nature of the Incarnate." These accusations were accepted at court, and Dioscorus obtained an imperial edict (dated by Tillemont Mar. 30, 449) that as a disturber of the peace of the church Theodoret should keep to his own diocese. Theodoret submitted, leaving the city without bidding his friends farewell (Ep. 80, p. 1137).

From the "Latrocinium" or "Robbers' Synod," at Ephesus (449) [DIOSCORUS; EUTYCHES], Theodoret was excluded by an imperial edict of Mar. 4, unless summoned unanimously by the council itself (Labbe, iv. 100). Theodoret's condemnation was evidently the chief 961purpose in summoning this infamous synod. From his "internement" at Cyrrhus Theodoret calmly watched his enemies' proceedings. He had not long to wait for the confirmation of his worst fears. Dioscorus and his partisans, having by brutal violence obtained the acquittal of Eutyches and the deposition of Flavian, Ibas, Irenaeus, and other sympathizers with Theodoret, proceeded on the third session to deal with him. The indictment was formulated by a presbyter of Antioch named Pelagius, who, in language of the most atrocious violence, proceeded to demand of the council to take the sword of God and, as Samuel dealt with Agag, and Elijah with the priests of Baal, pitilessly destroy those who had introduced strange doctrines into the church. Those who adhered to the poisonous teachings of Nestorius deserved the flames. "Burn them!—burn them!" he cried. Pelagius was allowed to lay before the synod the proofs of his accusation, contained in "The Apology of Theodoret, bp. of Cyrrhus, in behalf of Diodorus and Theodorus, champions of God." The council exclaimed that they had heard enough to warrant the immediate deposition of Theodoret, as the emperor had already ordered. The unanimous sentence was that he should be deposed from the priesthood and deprived of even lay communion. His books were to be committed to the flames (ib. 125, 126, 129; Le Brigandage, pp. 193–195).

Dioscorus was now master of the whole Eastern church; "il règne partout." Theodoret knew that deposition was usually followed by exile, and prepared for the worst. He was allowed to retire to his monastery near Apamea (Ep. 119, p. 1202). An appeal to the West, forbidden him in person by Theodosius, was now prosecuted by letter, which, though addressed to Leo individually, was really meant for the bishops of the West assembled in the synod, to which he begs his cause may be submitted (Mém. eccl. xv. 294). "In this remarkable letter," writes Dr. Bright (Hist. of Church, p. 395), "he traces the primacy of Rome to her civil greatness, her soundness of faith, and her possession of the graves of the apostles Peter and Paul. He eulogizes the exact and comprehensive orthodoxy with which the Tome of Leo conveys the full mind of the Holy Spirit." He entreats Leo "to decide whether he ought to submit to the recent sentence. He awaits his decision. He will acquiesce in it, whatever it be, committing himself to the judgment of his God and Saviour." Theodosius continued to pay no heed to the remonstrances of Leo, asserting that everything had been decided at Ephesus with complete freedom and in accordance with the truth, and that the prelates there deposed merited their fate for innovations in the faith. The interposition of Pulcheria and of the Western princesses was employed in vain. On July 29, 450, Theodosius II. was killed by a fall from his horse, and the imperial dignity passed to the resolute hands of the orthodox Pulcheria and her soldier-husband Marcian. All was now changed. Eutychianism became the losing cause, and the orthodox sufferers were speedily recalled. Theodoret appears to have been mentioned by name in the edict of recall. The stigma of heterodoxy was speedily removed from him. There is no reason to doubt that he was one of the bishops who signed the Tome of Leo, prefixing a short résumé of his own faith regarding the Incarnation, and that on this Leo recognized him as a Catholic bishop (Tillem. xv. 304; Baron. 450, §§  22–24). Though now at liberty to go where he pleased, Theodoret preferred to remain in his monastery (Ep. 146). His chief desire was to witness the complete triumph of truth, and to convince others of the purity of his own teaching. This desire he saw in part fulfilled. But for his complete satisfaction an oecumenical council was necessary, and to bring that about he laboured with all his might.

The council of Chalcedon met on Oct. 8, 451. Theodoret's entrance was the signal for outrageous violence on the part of the adherents of Dioscorus. The hall re-echoed with cries and counter-cries which interrupted all proceedings. Theodoret sat down "in the midst," not among his brother-bishops. He continued to attend the sessions of the council, but without voting, and taking no part in the deposition of Dioscorus. His own cause came on at the eighth session, Oct. 26. Although his orthodoxy had been acknowledged by Leo and his restoration required by the emperor, the anti-Nestorian section would not hear of his recognition as a bishop until he had in express terms anathematized Nestorius. This step he had repeatedly declared he would never take, and he now tried to satisfy the remonstrants with something short of it, but in vain. Wearied out, at last he yielded to their clamour and pronounced the test words, "Anathema to Nestorius, and to every one who denies that the Holy Virgin Mary is the mother of God, and who divides the one Son, the Only-begotten, into two Sons." The imperial commissioners now declared that all doubt had been removed and that Theodoret should now receive back his bishopric. The whole assembly raised the cry that Theodoret was worthy of his throne, and that the church must receive back her orthodox teacher. The leading bishops voted for his restoration, the rest signified their assent by acclamation, and the commissioners gave sentence that by the decree of the holy council Theodoret should receive again the church of Cyrrhus (Labbe, iv. 619–624).

But few years remained to Theodoret, and of these very little is known. It is not even certain whether he returned to his episcopal duties at Cyrrhus or remained in the quiet Apamean monastery, devoting himself to literary labours. Tillemont thinks that he probably did not live beyond 453. But if the statement of Gennadius (c. 89) be true, that his death took place under the emperor Leo, he must have lived till 457 or 458.

His writings may be divided roughly into I. Exegetical, on the Scriptures of O. and N. T. II. Controversial, dealing with the anathematisms of Cyril, the Eutychian heresy, and, in a work written towards the end of his life, with heresies in general. III. Theological, including the Graecarum affectionum Curatio, Orations on Divine Providence, and sundry orations and lesser treatises. IV. Historical, and V. Epistolary.

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I. Exegetical.—These include works on (1) the Octateuch, (2) the books of Sam., Kings, and Chron., (3) the Pss., (4) the Canticles, (5) the Major Prophets, (6) the Twelve Minor Prophets, (7) the Fourteen Epistles of St. Paul, including that to the Hebrews. The work on the Octateuch consists of answers to difficult points, for the most part characterized by the sound common-sense literalism of the Antiochene school, with but little tendency to allegory. He often, instead of his own opinion, cites that of his great masters Diodorus of Tarsus and Theodore of Mopsuestia, and Origen. In Leviticus and Numbers he naturally adopts more of the allegorical method, regarding the whole Levitical ritual and the moral ordinances as typical of the sacrificial and mediatorial work of Christ, and of the new law He came to inaugurate. The commentary on the Canticles was his earliest exegetical work. He controverts the opinion that this book contains the story of the earthly loves of Solomon either with Pharaoh's daughter or with Abishag, or that it is a political allegory, in which the bridegroom represents the monarch and the bride the people, and adopts the spiritual interpretation by which the bridegroom stands for Jesus Christ and the bride for the church. From one passage in the very interesting prologue we learn that Theodoret held the then current opinion, that the whole of the O.T. books having been burnt under Manasseh and other godless kings, or destroyed during the Captivity, Ezra was divinely inspired to rewrite them word for word on the return from the Captivity. He denounces the iniquity of the Jews, who had excluded Daniel from the prophets and placed his book among the Hagiographa, because no prophet had so clearly predicted the advent of Jesus Christ, and the very time of His appearance. The only portions of the N.T. commented on by him are the Epistles of St. Paul, including that to the Hebrews. Of these bp. Lightfoot writes, "His commentaries on St. Paul are superior to his other exegetical writings, and have been assigned the palm over all patristic expositions of Scripture. For appreciation, terseness, and good sense they are perhaps unsurpassed, and if the absence of faults were a just standard of merit, they would deserve the first place; but they have little claim to originality, and he who has read Chrysostom and Theodore of Mopsuestia will find scarcely anything in Theodoret which he has not seen before. It is right to add, however, that Theodoret himself modestly disclaims any such merit. In his preface he apologizes for attempting to interpret St. Paul after two such men who are 'luminaries of the world,' and he professes nothing more than to gather his stores 'from the blessed Fathers."' (Gal. p. 220).

II. Controversial.—(1) The Refutation of the Twelve Anathematisms of Cyril. (2) Eranistes or Polymorphus, "a work of remarkable interest and of permanent value for theological students, to be read in connexion with the Tome of Leo and the definitions of Chalcedon" (Bright, Later Treatises of Athanas. p. 177). It consists of three dialogues between the "Mendicant" 'Ερανίστης who represents Eutychianism, and Theodoret himself as Ὀρθόδοξος. Their respective titles indicate the line adopted in each. These are Ἀτρεπτος, Immutabilis, Ἀσύγχυτος, Inconfusus, and Ἀπαθής, Impatibilis. (3) Λἱρετικῆς Κακομυθίας ἐπιτομή, Haereticarum Fabularum Compendium, a work directed against heresies in general, in five books. The fourth book, the most important as treating of matters with which he was more or less personally acquainted, begins with the heresies of Arius and Eunomius and comes down to those of Nestorius and Eutyches. His disgracefully violent language with regard to his former friend Nestorius—whom he stigmatizes as an instrument of Satan, a man who by his pride had plunged the church into disorders, and under the cloak of orthodoxy introduced the denial of the Divinity and of the Incarnation of the Only-begotten Son, and who at last met with the punishment he deserved, a sign of his future punishment—would warrant the charitable hope that this chapter has been erroneously ascribed to Theodoret. Of this, however, there is no evidence, and we are, though most reluctantly, compelled to accept it as his work, together with the equally atrocious letter to Sporacius on the Nestorian heresy. It is accepted by Photius (Cod. 56) and Leontius of Byzantius (art. 4, de Sectis) (cf. Neander, iv. p. 246, note, Ceillier, Aut. ecclés. x. 84).

III. Theological.—The chief is an apologetic treatise, intended to exhibit the confirmations of the truth of the Christian faith contained in the philosophical systems of the Gentiles, under the title Ἑληνικῶν θεραπευτικὴ παθημάτων, Graecarum Affectionum Curatio, seu Evangelicae Veritatis ex Gentilium Philosophia Cognitio. It is in 12 discourses, and furnishes a very able and eloquent defence of Christianity against the ridicule and ignorant accusations of pagan philosophers, written probably before 437. It was followed by another of a similar character, in ten orations, on Divine Providence, regarded by the best critics as exhibiting Theodoret's literary power in its highest form, as regards the careful selection of thoughts, nobility of language, elegance and purity of style, and the force and sequence of his arguments (Ceillier, p. 88, § 10). To these may be added a discourse on Charity, περὶ θείας καὶ ἁγίας ἀγάπης (Schulze, 14, 1296 seq.) and some fragments of sermons, etc., given by Garnier (Auctarium, ib. t. v. pp. 71 seq.).

IV. Historical.—This class contains two works of very different character and of very different value: (1) the Ecclesiastical History, and (2) the Religious History. (1) The former, in five books, was intended to form a continuation of that of Eusebius. It commences with the rise of Arianism under Constantius and closes with the death of Theodore of Mopsuestia, A.D. 429. From his opening words he has been thought to have had in view the histories of Socrates and Sozomen, and to have written to supply their omissions and correct their mistakes (Valesius). This is questioned by some, and must be regarded as doubtful. He gives more original documents than either of his brother-historians, but is very chary of dates, and writes generally without sufficient chronological exactness. Photius finds fault with his too great fondness for metaphor, while he praises his style as "clear, lofty, and 963free from redundancy" (Cod. 31). The history is learned and generally impartial, "though it is occasionally one-sided and runs off into a theological treatise." An Eng. trans. was pub. by Baxter in 1847. (2) The Religious History, φιλόθεος ἱστορία, is devoted to the lives of 30 celebrated hermits and ascetics, his contemporaries, and was written from personal knowledge and popular report before his Ecclesiastical History. It excites our wonder at what Dr. Newman calls the "easy credence, or as moderns would say large credulousness," which appears more astonishing as he had been brought up in the most matter-of-fact, prosaic, and critical school of ancient Christendom. "What," writes Dr. Newman, "made him drink in with such relish what we reject with such disgust? Was it that, at least, some miracles were brought home so absolutely to his sensible experience that he had no reason for doubting the others which came to him second-hand? This certainly will explain what to most of us is sure to seem the stupid credulity of so well-read, so intellectual an author " (Hist. Sketches, iii. 314). The whole subject presents a very curious intellectual problem.

V. Epistolary.—No portion of Theodoret's literary remains exceeds in interest and value the large collection of his letters. As throwing light on his personal history and character, and as helping us to understand the perplexed relations of the principal actors in that stormy period of theological strife and their various shades of theological opinion, their importance cannot be over-estimated. They give us a heightened esteem of Theodoret himself, his intellectual power, theological precision, warm-hearted affection, and Christian virtues. An Eng. trans. of this remarkable series of letters, arranged according to date and subject, is much to be desired.

The Auctarium of Garnier also contains the following: (1) Prolegomena and Extracts of Commentaries on the Psalms, probably derived from Catenae. (2) A Short Extract from a Commentary on St. Luke. (3) Sermon on the Nativity of S. John Baptist. (4) Homily spoken at Chalcedon in 431. (5) Fifteen additional letters of Theodoret. (6) Seven dialogues composed a little before the council of Ephesus, 2 each against Anomoeans and Apollinarians, and 3 against Macedonians. Their authorship is doubtful; they have been ascribed to Athanasius or Maximus, but Garnier claims them for Theodoret.

Editions.—There are 2 edd. of his complete works in Gk. and Lat.; the first in 4 vols. fol. (Paris, 1642 ), by the Jesuit Jac. Sirmond, to which a 5th vol. was added after Sirmond's death by his fellow-Jesuit, J. Garnier (Paris, 1684), containing an auctarium, comprising fragments of commentaries and sermons and some additional letters, together with Garnier's 5 learned but most one-sided dissertations on (1) the life, (2) the writings, (3) the faith of Theodoret, (4) on the fifth general council, and (5) the cause of Theodoret and the Orientals. This was succeeded by another ed. based on it, with additions and corrections by Lud. Schulze and J. A. Noesselt (Halae Sax. 1769–1774), in 5 vols. and in 10 parts. To this edition our references are made. The ed. of T. Gaisford is pub. by the Clarendon Press. There is a trans. of Theodoret's works in Bohn's Lib. (Bell), and by Blomfield Jackson in Lib. of Post-Nicene Fathers. Cf. N. Ghibokowski, The Blessed Theodoret, bp. of Cyrus (Moscow, 1890, 2vols.); Harnack in Theol. Literatur Zeitung (1890), p. 502.

[E.V.]

« Theodora I., empress Theodoretus, bishop of Cyrrhus Theodoricus I., king of the Visigoths »





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