« Theodorus Askidas, archbp. of Caesarea Theodorus, bp. of Mopsuestia Theodorus, bishop of Tyana »

Theodorus, bp. of Mopsuestia

Theodorus (26), bp. of Mopsuestia; also known, from the place of his birth and presbyterate, as Theodore of Antioch, the most prominent representative of te middle Antiochene school of hermeneutics.

I. Life and Work.—Theodore was born at Antioch c. 350 (see Fritzsche, de Th. M. V. et Scr. pp. 1–4, for the chronology; cf. Kihn, Theodor u. Junilius, p. 39, n. 1). His father held an official position at Antioch, and the family was wealthy (Chrys. ad Th. Laps. ii. in Migne, Patr. Gk. xlvii. 209). Theodore's cousin, Paeanius, to whom several of Chrysostom's letters are addressed (Epp. 95, 193, 204, 220, in Migne, lii.), held an important post of civil government; his brother Polychronius became bp. of the metropolitan see of Apamea. Theodore first appears as the early companion and friend of Chrysostom, his fellow-townsman, his equal in rank, and but two or three years his senior in age. Together with their common friend Maximus, afterwards bp. of Isaurian Seleucia, Chrysostom and Theodore attended the lectures of the sophist Libanius (Socr. vi. 3; cf. Soz. viii. 1), then at Antioch in the zenith of his fame. We have the assurance of Sozomen that he enjoyed a philosophical education (l.c.). Chrysostom credits his friend with diligent study, but the luxurious life of polite Antioch seems to have received an equal share of his thoughts. When Chrysostom himself had been reclaimed from the pleasures of the world by the influence of Basil, he succeeded in winning Maximus and Theodore to the same mind. The three friends left Libanius and sought a retreat in the monastic school (ἀσκητήριον) of Carterius and Diodorus, to which Basil was already attached. Whether Theodore had been previously baptized is doubtful; Chrysostom, however, speaks of him shortly afterwards in terms which seem to imply his baptism (ad Th. Laps.). He gave himself to the new learning with characteristic energy. His days, as his friend testifies, were spent in reading, his nights in prayer; he fasted long, lay on the bare ground, and practised every form of ascetic self-discipline; he was full withal of light-hearted joy, as having found the service of Christ to be perfect freedom. His conversion was speedy, sincere, and marvellously complete, but was followed by a reaction which threatened an utter collapse of his new-found life. He had but just resigned himself to a celibate life when he 966was fascinated by a girl named Hermione (Chrys. ib. i., Migne, xlvii. p. 297), and contemplated marriage, at the same time returning to his former manner of life (Soz. viii. 2). His "fall" spread consternation through the little society. Many were the prayers offered and efforts made for his recovery. "Valerius, Florentius, Porphyrius, and many others," laboured to restore him; and the anxiety drew forth from Chrysostom the earliest of his literary compositions—two letters "to Theodore upon his fall." The second letter reveals at once the strength of Chrysostom's affection, and the greatness of the character in which at that early age (Theodore was not yet 20) he had already found so much to love. Theodore remained constant to his vows (Soz. l.c.), although the disappointment left traces in his after-life.

Chrysostom's connexion with Diodore was probably broken off in 374, when he plunged into a more complete monastic seclusion; Theodore's seems to have continued until the elevation of Diodore to the see of Tarsus a.d. 378. During this period doubtless the foundations were laid of Theodore's acquaintance with Holy Scripture and ecclesiastical doctrine, and he was imbued for life with the principles of scriptural interpretation which Diodore had inherited from an earlier generation of Antiochenes, and with the peculiar views of the Person of Christ into which the master had been led by his antagonism to Apollinarius. The latter years of this decade witnessed Theodore's first appearance as a writer. He began with a commentary on the Psalms, in which the method of Diodore was exaggerated, and which he lived to repent of (Facund. iii. 6, x. 1; v. infra, § III.). The orthodox at Antioch, it seems, resented the loss of the traditional Messianic interpretation, and, if we may trust Hesychius, Theodore was compelled to promise that he would commit his maiden work to the flames—an engagement he contrived to evade (Mansi, ix. 284).

Gennadius (de Vir. Ill. 12) represents Theodore as a presbyter of the church of Antioch; and from a letter of John of Antioch (Facund. ii. 2) we gather that 45 years elapsed between his ordination and his death. It seems, therefore, that he was ordained priest at Antioch a.d. 383, in his 33rd year, the ordaining bishop being doubtless Flavian, Diodore's old friend and fellow-labourer, whose "loving disciple" Theodore now became (John of Antioch, ap. Facund. l.c.). The epithet seems to imply that Theodore was an attached adherent of the Meletian party; but there is no evidence that he mixed himself up with the feuds which for some years after Flavian's consecration distracted the Catholics of Antioch. Theodore's great treatise on the Incarnation (Gennad. l.c.) belongs to this period, possibly also more than one of his commentaries on the O.T. As a preacher he seems to have now attained some eminence in the field of polemics (Facund. viii. 4). Theodore is said by Hesychius of Jerusalem (Mansi, ix. 248) to have left Antioch while yet a priest and betaken himself to Tarsus, until 392, when he was consecrated to the see of Mopsuestia, vacant by the death of Olympius, probably through the influence and by the hands of Diodore. Here he spent his remaining 36 years of life (Theodoret, l.c.).

Mopsuestia was a free town (Pliny) upon the Pyramus, between Tarsus and Issus, some 40 miles from either, and 12 from the sea. It belonged to Cilicia Secunda, of which the metropolitan see was Anazarbus. In the 4th cent. it was of some importance, famous for its bridge, thrown over the Pyramus by Constantine. It is now the insignificant town Mensis, or Messis (D. of G. and R. Geogr.).

Theodore's long episcopate was marked by no striking incidents. His letters, long known to the Nestorians of Syria as the Book of Pearls, are lost; his followers have left us few personal recollections. In 394 he attended a synod at Constantinople on a question which concerned the see of Bostra in the partiarchate of Antioch (Mansi, iii. 851; cf. Hefele, ii. 406). Theodore preached, probably on this occasion, before the emperor Theodosius I., who was then starting for his last journey to the West. The sermon made a deep impression, and Theodosius, who had sat at the feet of St. Ambrose and St. Gregory of Nazianzus, declared that he had never met with such a teacher (John of Antioch, ap. Facund. ii. 2). The younger Theodosius inherited his grandfather's respect for Theodore, and often wrote to him. Another glimpse of Theodore's episcopal life is supplied by a letter of Chrysostom to him from Cucusus (a.d. 404–407) (Chrys. Ep. 212, Migne, Iii. 668). The exiled patriarch "can never forget the love of Theodore, so genuine and warm, so sincere and guileless, a love maintained from early years, and manifested but now." Chrysostom (Ep. 204) thanks him profoundly for frequent though ineffectual efforts to obtain his release. No titles of honour, no terms of affection, seem too strong to be lavished on his friend. Finally, he assures Theodore that, "exile as he is, he reaps no ordinary consolation from having such a treasure, such a mine of wealth within his heart, as the love of so vigilant and noble a soul." Higher testimony could not have been borne, or by a more competent judge; and so much was this felt by Theodore's enemies at the fifth council that they vainly made efforts to deny the identity of Chrysostom's correspondent with the bp. of Mopsuestia.

Notwithstanding his literary activity, Theodore worked zealously for the good of his diocese. The famous letter of Ibas (Mansi, vii. 247; Facund. vii. 7) testifies that he converted Mopsuestia to the truth, i.e. extinguished Arianism and other heresies there. Several of his works are doubtless monuments of these pastoral labours, e.g. the catechetical lectures, the ecthesis, and possibly the treatise on "Persian Magic." Yet his episcopal work was by no means simply that of a diocesan bishop. Everywhere he was regarded as "the herald of the truth and the doctor of the church"; "even distant churches received instruction from him." So boasts Ibas to Maris, and his letter was read without a dissentient voice at the council of Chalcedon (Facund. ii. i seq.). Theodore "expounded Scripture in all the churches of the East," says John of Antioch (ib. ii. 2) with Oriental hyperbole, and adds that in his lifetime Theodore 967was never arraigned by any of the orthodox. But in a letter to Nestorius (ib. x. 2) John begs him to retract, urging the example of Theodore, who, when in a sermon at Antioch he had said something which gave great and manifest offence, for the sake of peace and to avoid scandal, after a few days as publicly corrected himself. Leontius tells us (Migne, lxxxvi. 1363) that the cause of offence was a denial to the Blessed Virgin of the title θεοτόκος. So great was the storm that the people threatened to stone the preacher (Cyril. Alex. Ep. 69; Migne, lxxvii. 340). The heretical sects attacked by Theodore shewed their resentment in a way less overt, but perhaps more formidable. They tampered with his writings, hoping thus to involve him in heterodox statements (Facund. x. 1).

Theodore's last years were perplexed by a new controversy. When in 418 the Pelagian leaders were deposed and exiled from the West, they sought in the East the sympathy of the chief living representative of the school of Antioch. The fact is recorded by Marius Mercator, who makes the most of it (Praef. ad Symb. Theod. Mop. 72). With Theodore they probably remained till 422, when Julian returned to Italy. Julian's visit was doubtless the occasion upon which Theodore wrote his book Against the Defenders of Original Sin. Mercator charges Theodore with having turned against Julian as soon as the latter had left Mopsuestia, and anathematized him in a provincial synod (op. cit. 3). The synod can hardly be a fabrication, since Mercator was a contemporary writer; but it was very possibly convened, as Fritzsche suggests, without any special reference to the Pelagian question. If Theodore then read his ecthesis, the anathema with which that ends might have been represented outside the council as a synodical condemnation of the Pelagian chiefs. Mercator's words, in fact, point to this explanation.

A greater heresiarch than Julian visited Mopsuestia in the last year of Theodore's life. It is stated by Evagrius (H. E. i. 2; Migne, lxxxvi. 2425) that Nestorius, on his way from Antioch to Constantinople (a.d. 428), took counsel with Theodore and received from him the seeds of heresy which he shortly afterwards scattered with such disastrous results. Evagrius makes this statement on the authority of one Theodulus, a person otherwise unknown. We may safely reject it, so far as it derives the Christology of Nestorius from this single interview. The germ of the Nestorian doctrine was in the teaching of Diodore and in the earliest works of Theodore; it could not have been new to Nestorius, as a prominent teacher of the church of Antioch.

Towards the close of 428 (Theodoret, H. E. v. 39) Theodore died, worn out by 50 years (Facund. ii. 2) of literary and pastoral toil, at the age of 78, having been all his life engaged in controversy, and more than once in conflict with the popular notions of orthodoxy; yet he departed, as Facundus (ii. 1) triumphantly points out, in the peace of the church and at the height of a great reputation. The storm was gathering, but did not break till he was gone.

II. Posthumous History.—The popularity of Theodore was increased by his death. Meletius, his successor at Mopsuestia, protested that his life would have been in danger if he had uttered a word against his predecessor (Tillem. Mém. xii. p. 442). "We believe as Theodore believed; long live the faith of Theodore!" was a cry often heard in the churches of the East (Cyril. Alex. Ep. 69). "We had rather be burnt than condemn Theodore," was the reply of the bishops of Syria to the party eager for his condemnation (Ep. 72). The flame was fed by leading men who had been disciples of the Interpreter: by Theodoret, who regarded him as a "doctor of the universal church " (H. E. v. 39); by Ibas of Edessa, who in 433 wrote his famous letter to Maris in praise of Theodore; by John, who in 429 succeeded to the see of Antioch. Yet Theodore's ashes were scarcely cold when in other quarters men began to hold him up to obloquy. As early perhaps as 431 Marius Mercator denounced him as the real author of the Pelagian heresy (Lib. subnot. in verba Juliani, praef; Migne, Patr. Lat. xlviii. 110); and not long afterwards prefaced his translation of Theodore's ecthesis with a still more violent attack on him as the precursor of Nestorianism (ib. pp. 208, 1046, 1048). The council of Ephesus, however, while it condemned Nestorius by name, contented itself with condemning Theodore's creed without mentioning Theodore; and the Nestorian party consequently fell back upon the words of Theodore, and began to circulate them in several languages as affording the best available exposition of their views (Liberat. Brev. 10). This circumstance deepened the mistrust of the orthodox, and even in the East there were not wanting some who proceeded to condemn the teaching of Theodore. Hesychius of Jerusalem, about 435, attacked him in his Ecclesiastical History; Rabbûlas, bp. of Edessa, who at Ephesus had sided with John of Antioch, now publicly anathematized Theodore (Ibas, Ep. ad Marin.). Proclus demanded from the bishops of Syria a condemnation of certain propositions supposed to have been drawn from the writings of Theodore. Cyril, who had once spoken favourably of some of Theodore's works (Facund. viii. 6), now under the influence of Rabbûlas took a decided attitude of opposition; he wrote to the synod of Antioch (Ep. 67) that the opinions of Diodore, Theodore, and others of the same schools had "borne down with full sail upon the glory of Christ"; to the emperor (Ep. 71), that Diodore and Theodore were the parents of the blasphemy of Nestorius; to Proclus (Ep. 72), that had Theodore been still alive and openly approved of the teaching of Nestorius, he ought undoubtedly to have been anathematized; but as he was dead, it was enough to condemn the errors of his books, having regard to the terrible disturbances more extreme measures would excite in the East. He collected and answered a series of propositions gathered from the writings of Diodore and Theodore (Migne, xxvi. 1438 seq.), a work to which Theodoret replied shortly afterwards. The ferment then subsided for a time, but the disciples of Theodore, repulsed in the West, pushed their way from Eastern Syria to Persia. Ibas, who succeeded Rabbûlas in 435, restored the school of Edessa, 968and it continued to be a nursery of Theodore's theology till suppressed by Zeno, a.d. 489. At Nisibis Barsumas, a devoted adherent of the party, was bp. from 435 to 489. Upon the suppression of the school of Edessa, Nisibis became the seat of the Antiochene exegesis and theology. The Persian kings favoured a movement distasteful to the empire; and Persia was henceforth the headquarters of Nestorianism. Among the Nestorians of Persia the writings of Theodore were regarded as the standard both of doctrine and of interpretation, and the Persian church returned the censures of the orthodox by pronouncing an anathema on all who opposed or rejected them (cf. Assem. iii. i. 84; and for a full account of the spread of Theodore's opinions at Edessa and Nisibis see Kihn, Theodor u. Junilius, pp. 198–209, 333–336). At a later period the school of Nisibis reacted on the West, and the influence, though not the name, of Theodore appears in the Instituta Regularia of Junilius Africanus, and in the de Institutione Divinarum Literarum of Cassiodorus (Kihn, pp. 209 seq.).

The 6th cent. witnessed another and final outbreak of bitter hatred against Theodore. The fifth general council (553), under the influence of the emperor Justinian, pronounced the anathema which Theodosius II. had refused to sanction and which even Cyril shrank from uttering. This condemnation of Theodore and his two supporters shook the fabric of the Catholic church. This is not the place to enter upon the history of the "Three Chapters," but we may point out one result of Justinian's policy. The West, Africa especially, rebelled against a decree which seemed to set at nought the authority of the councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon, and also violated the sanctity of the dead. It was from no particular interest in Theodore's doctrine or method of interpretation that the African bishops espoused his cause. Bp. Pontian plainly told the emperor that he had asked them to condemn men of whose writings they knew nothing (Migne, Patr. Lat. lxvii. 997). But the stir about Theodore led to inquiry; his works, or portions of them, were translated and circulated in the West. It is almost certainly to this cause that we owe the preservation in a Latin dress of at least one-half of Theodore's commentaries on St. Paul. Published under the name of St. Ambrose, the work of Theodore passed from Africa into the monastic libraries of the West, was copied into the compilations of Rabanus Maurus and others, and in its fuller and its abridged form supplied the Middle Ages with an accepted interpretation of an important part of Holy Scripture. The name of Theodore, however, disappears almost entirely from Western church literature after the 6th cent. It was scarcely before the 19th cent. that justice was done by Western writers to the importance of the great Antiochene as a theologian, an expositor, and a precursor of later thought.

III. Literary Remains.—Facundus (x. 4) speaks of Theodore's "innumerable books"; John of Antioch, in a letter quoted by Facundus (ii. 2), describes his polemical works as alone numbering "decem millia" (i.e. μυρία), an exaggeration of course, but based on fact. A catalogue of such of his writings as were once extant in Syriac translations is given by Ebedjesu, Nestorian metropolitan of Soba, a.d. 1318 (J. S. Assem. Bibl. Orient. iii. i. pp. 30 seq.). These Syriac translations filled 41 tomes. Only one whole work remains.

(A) EXEGETICAL WRITINGS.—(i) Old Testament. (a) Historical Books.—A commentary on Genesis is cited by Cosmas Indicopleustes, John Philoponus, and Photius (Cod. 3, 8). Fragments of the Greek original survive in the catena of Nicephorus (Lips. 1772). Latin fragments are found in the Acts of the second council of Constantinople, and an important collection of Syriac fragments from the Nitrian. MSS. of the British Museum was pub. by Dr. E. Sachau (Th. Mops. Fragm. Syriaca, Lips. 1869, pp. 1–21). Photius, criticizing the style of this work in words more or less applicable to all the remains of Theodore, notices the writer's opposition to the allegorical method of interpretation. Ebedjesu was struck by the care and elaboration bestowed upon the work. The catenae contain fragments attributed to Theodore upon the remaining books of the Pentateuch and of Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Samuel, and Kings (Mai, Scr. Vet. Nov. Coll. i. praef. p. xxi.). Theodore is stated by Leontius (Migne, Patr. Gk. lxxxvi. 1368) to have rejected the two books of Chronicles, and there is no trace of any comments upon them bearing his name.

(b) Poetical Books.—Theodore's commentary on Job was dedicated to St. Cyril of Alexandria. Of all his works it seems to have been the least worthy of this dedication. Only four fragments survive (Mansi, ix. pp. 223 seq.), but they are sufficient to justify the censure pronounced upon the work by the Fifth council. Theodore regards Job as an historical character, but considers him as traduced by the author of the book, whom he considers to have been a pagan Edomite.

The Psalms were the earliest field of Theodore's hermeneutical labours. The printed fragments, Greek and Latin, fill 25 columns in Migne. More recently attention has been called to a Syriac version (Baethgen), and new fragments of a Latin version and of the original Greek have been printed. That his first literary adventure was hasty and premature was frankly acknowledged by Theodore himself (Facund. l.c.). His zeal for the historical method of interpretation led him to deny the application to Christ of all but 3 or 4 of the Psalms usually regarded as Messianic.

No fragments have hitherto been discovered of the commentary of Ecclesiastes, which Ebedjesu counts among the Syriac translations. From the remains of the commentary on Job it appears that Theodore expressly denied the higher inspiration of both the sapiential books of Solomon. Of the Canticles he writes in terms of positive contempt (Mansi, ix. 225). He repudiates imputations of immodesty on it, but denies its spiritual character. It is merely the epithalamium of Pharaoh's daughter, a relic of Solomon's lighter poetry, affording an insight into his domestic life. For this reason, he adds, it had never been read in synagogue or church.

(c) Prophetical Books.—A commentary on the four greater prophets is in Ebedjesu's list; 969but one or two inedited fragments alone remain. The commentary on the minor prophets has been preserved and published in its integrity by Mai (Rome, 1825–1832) and Wegnern. Its exegetical value is diminished by Theodore's absolute confidence in the LXX, excessive independence of earlier hermeneutical authorities, and reluctance to admit a Christological reference, as well as by his usual defects of style. It is, nevertheless, a considerable monument of his expository power, and the best illustration we possess of the Antiochene method of interpreting O.T. prophecy.

(ii) N.T. (a) The Gospels.—Ebedjesu recounts commentaries on SS. Matthew, Luke, and John. Fragments of these, with the remaining N.T. fragments, were collected and ed. by O. F. Fritzsche (Turici, 1847), and reprinted by Migne. The commentary on St. John exists in a Syriac version, and has been pub. by J. B. Chabot (Paris, 1897).

(b) Acts and Catholic Epistles.—One fragment only remains of the commentary on the Acts; we owe it to the zeal of Theodore's opponents at the Fifth council. Notwithstanding Mai (l.c. p. xxi), it is more than doubtful whether Theodore wrote upon the Catholic Epistles. With the rest of the Antiochians he probably followed the old Syrian canon in rejecting II. Peter and II. and III. John.

(c) The Epistles of St. Paul.—Ebedjesu distinctly states that Theodore wrote on all the Pauline epistles, including among them Hebrews. The commentary on Hebrews is cited by the Fifth council, Vigilius and Pelagius II.; that on Romans by Facundus (iii. 6). A fortunate discovery last century gave us a complete Latin version of the commentary on Galatians and the nine following epistles. The Latin, apparently the work of an African churchman of the time of the Fifth council, abounds in colloquial and semi-barbarous forms; the version is not always careful, and sometimes almost hopelessly corrupt. But it gives us the substance of Theodore's interpretation of St. Paul, and we have thus a typical commentary from his pen on a considerable portion of each Testament (pub. by Camb. Univ. Press, 1880–1882).

(B) CONTROVERSIAL WRITINGS.—(a) Chief amongst these, and first in point of time, was the treatise, in 15 books, on the Incarnation. According to Gennadius (de Vir. Ill. 12) it was directed against the Apollinarians and Eunomians, and written while the author was yet a presbyter of Antioch, i.e. a.d. 382–392. Gennadius adds an outline of the contents. After a logical and scriptural demonstration of the truth and perfection of each of the natures in Christ, Theodore deals more at length with the Sacred Manhood. In bk. xiv. he approached the mystery of the Holy Trinity and the relation of the creature to the Divine Nature; in xv. the work was concluded, teste Gennadius, with an appeal to authority: "citatis etiam patrum traditionibus." Large fragments of this treatise have been collected from various quarters. None of the remains of Theodore throw such important light upon his Christology.

(b) Books against Apollinarianism.—Facundus (viii. 2) says that Theodore wrote several distinct treatises against Apollinarius. One, entitled de Apollinario et ejus Haeresi, was written, as Theodore states in the only surviving fragment, 30 years after the treatise on the Incarnation (Facund. x. 1). A number of important fragments preserved in the Constantinopolitan Acts and in the writings of Facundus, Justinian, Leontius, etc., are referred to bks. iii. and iv. "Against Apollinarius."

(c) Theodore wrote a separate polemic against Eunomius, and a single characteristic fragment has survived (Facund. ix. 3). The work professed to be a defence of St. Basil. In the original it reached the prodigious length of 25 (Phot. Cod. 4) or even of (Cod. 177) 28 books. Photius complains bitterly of the faults of style, and doubts the orthodoxy of the writer, but admits its clearness of argument and wealth of scriptural proof.

(d) Ebedjesu includes in his list "two tomes on the Holy Spirit"; probably a work directed against the heresy of the Pneumatomachi; but see Klener, Symb. Liter. p. 76.

(e) Three books on "Persian Magic." We learn from Photius that bk. i. was an exposure of the Zoroastrian system; bks. ii. and iii. contained a comprehensive sketch of the history and doctrines of Christianity, beginning with the Biblical account of the Creation. In this portion, especially in bk. iii., Theodore betrayed his "Nestorian" views, and even advanced the startling theory of a final restoration of all men. One cannot but regret the utter loss of so remarkable a volume, especially as it seems to have been written in the interests of Christian missions, an earnest of the missionary spirit which was afterwards so marked in the Nestorian church.

(f) According to Ebedjesu, Theodore wrote "two tomes against him who asserts that sin is inherent in human nature." The heading, as given in Marius Mercator, who published Latin excerpts from this book shortly after Theodore's death, is merely an ex parte description of its contents: "Contra S. Augustinum defendentem originale peccatum et Adam per transgressionem mortalem factum catholice disserentem." Mercator, a friend and disciple of St. Augustine, not unnaturally imagined Theodore's work to be directed against the great Western assailant of Pelagius; but Theodore seems actually to have selected Jerome as the representative of the principles he attacks. Such as they are, the remains of this book form our best guide to the anthropology of Theodore.

(C) PRACTICAL, PASTORAL, AND LITURGICAL WRITINGS.—Ebedjesu mentions a treatise On the Priesthood, which seems to have been an extensive one, probably unfolding the doctrine of the Sacraments as based upon the doctrine of the Incarnation. It was written, Hesychius tells us, in Theodore's old age. A more popular treatment of the same subject seems to have been attempted in the Catechetical Lectures ("Catechismus," according to Marius Mercator; the Fifth council calls it "Allocutiones ad baptizandos," Facundus (ix. 3) less correctly, "Liber ad baptizatos"). The fragments, which are chiefly from bk. viii., refer almost exclusively to the doctrine of the Incarnation. A MS. of the whole in Syriac exists in the library of the American 970College at Beyrout. Fritzsche thinks that to some copies at least of these lectures Theodore appended (1) an explanation of the creed of Nicaea, a fragment of which, preserved by the Fifth council, suggests that its object was to interpret the creed in harmony with the bishop's teaching upon the Person of Christ; and (2) the ecthesis afterwards produced at the Third council by the Philadelphian presbyter Charisius, and condemned, but without mention of the author's name (Mansi, iv. 1347 seq. ). The document corresponds closely with Theodore's teaching, reveals his style in both its weakness and strength, and was attributed to him by his contemporary Mercator, who bases on it his attack upon Theodore's Christology. The ecthesis was probably composed in good faith, and intended to serve the interests of the Catholic doctrine.

Lastly, Leontius intimates that Theodore wrote a portion of a liturgy; "not content with drafting a new creed, he sought to impose upon the church a new Anaphora" (Migne, lxxxvi. 1367). A Syriac liturgy ascribed to "Mâr Teodorus the Interpreter" is still used by the Christians of Assyria for a third of the year, from Advent to Palm Sunday. The proanaphoral and post-communion portions are supplied by the older liturgy "of the Apostles" (so called), the anaphora only being peculiar. A Latin version of this anaphora is in Renaudot, pub. in English by Dr. Neale (Hist. H. E. Ch.) and Dr. Badger (Eastern Ch. Assoc., occasional paper, xvii., Rivingtons, 1875). Internal evidence confirms the judgment of Dr. Neale, who regards it as a genuine work of Theodore.

IV. Doctrine.—We deal with the peculiarities of Theodore's teaching under: (A) Anthropology, (B) Christology, (C) Soteriology.

(A) His whole doctrinal system hinges, as Neander and Dorner rightly judged, upon his conception of man's relation to the Universe and to God. (1) The Universe (ὁ κόσμος = ἡ σύμπασα κτίσις) is an organic whole (ἓν σῶμα), consisting of elements partly visible and material, partly invisible and spiritual. Of this organism man is the predestined bond (φιλίας ἐνέχυρον, σύνδεσμος, συνάφεια, copulatio), and therefore made a composite creature, his body derived from material elements, his spiritual nature akin to pure spirits, the νοηταὶ φύσεις. He was also to be the image of God, i.e. His visible representative, and as such to receive the homage of all creation. Hence all things minister to him, and even angelic beings superintend the movements of the physical world for his benefit. Man is thus the crowning work of the Creator, and the proper medium of communication between the Creator and the creature. (2) In the history of all intelligent created life, Theodore distinguishes two stages (καταστάσεις), the first a state of flux, exposed to conflict, temptation, and mortality; the second immutable, and free from all the forms of moral and physical evil. From the beginning God purposed that the second of these conditions (ἡ μέλλουσα κατάστασις) should be revealed through the Incarnation of His Son. Man was created in the former state, his nature being from the first liable to dissolution. "Earth to earth"—the human body naturally returns to the element from which it was taken. (3) The fall therefore did not introduce mortality, but converted the liability into a fact. It was not said, "Ye shall become mortal," but "Ye shall die." As a matter of fact, "death came by sin"; and the dissolution of soul and body was followed by the still more serious dissolution of the bond which in the person of man had hitherto knit together the visible and invisible creations. The fall of the first man gave sin a foothold in the world. The same result followed in the case of each descendant of Adam who sinned; and since all sinned, death "passed upon all men, for that all sinned." (4) As our mortality was no after-thought with God, so neither was the sentence of death a vindictive punishment. The present life, with its vicissitudes and probationary trials, is a wholesome discipline, affording room for the exercise of free will and the attainment of goodness, which without our efforts would be destitute of moral worth. Although human nature is free, yet in its present condition of mortality and mutability it is insufficient to conquer the forces of evil and attain perfect virtue without supernatural aid. A new creation is needed to abolish sin and death.

(B) We are thus brought to Theodore's doctrine of the mission and Person of Christ. (1) The mission of Christ is primarily to restore the shattered unity of the κόσμος and gather up all things to Himself, by realizing in His Person the position of man as the visible Image of God and the head of the whole Creation; secondarily, to restore mankind by union with Himself as the Second Adam and the Head of the Church to a condition of perfect deliverance from sin and death. (2) To fulfil this mission it was necessary that God the Word should become perfect man. The perfection of His manhood required Him to possess a rational human soul, capable of exercising a real choice between good and evil, although persistently choosing good; and to attain the perfection of human experience it was necessary for Him to take human nature in its mutable state, to pass through a period of growth, and to enter into conflict not only with the Evil One, but with the passions of the human soul. (3) Though perfect man, the man Christ surpassed all other men. He was absolutely free from sin, and His life was a continual progress from one stage of virtue to another, a meritorious course of which the end was victory over death and an entrance into the immortal and immutable state. This sinlessness and ultimate perfection of the manhood of Christ was due (a) to His supernatural birth and subsequent baptism of the Spirit, which He received in a manner peculiar to Himself, i.e. in the fullness of His grace; but yet more (b) to His union with the Person of the Divine Word. This union he had indeed received as the reward of His foreseen sinlessness and virtue, for with Him, as with the rest of mankind, divine gifts depended upon the action of the human will. The union, however, necessarily reacted on the Man, with whom the Word was made one; the cooperation of the Indwelling Godhead rendered it morally impossible for him to fall into sin. (4) But after what manner did the Word unite 971Himself to the Man whom He assumed? A priori there are three conceivable modes of divine indwelling: it might be essential, effectual, or moral (κατ᾿ οὐσίαν, κατ᾿ ἐνέργειαν, κατ᾿ εὐδοκίαν). An essential indwelling of God is excluded by every adequate idea of His Nature. The indwelling of God in Christ and in the saints is generically the same, but there is an all-important specific difference, by which Theodore strives to retain the conception of a true incarnation of God. "I am not so mad," he says; "as to affirm that the indwelling of God in Christ is after the same manner as in the saints. He dwelt in Christ as in a Son (ὡς ἐν υἱῷ); I mean that He united the assumed man entirely to Himself and fitted him to partake with Him of all the honour of which the indwelling Person, Who is Son by nature, partakes." Further, the union of the Word with the man Christ differs from the divine indwelling in the saints in two other important particulars. It began with the first formation of the Sacred Manhood in the Virgin's womb ("a prima statim plasmatione . . . Creator . . . occulte eidem copulatus existens non aberat cum formaretur, non dividebatur cum nascebatur"). And once having taken effect, the union remains indissoluble (ἀχώριστον πρὸς τὴν θείαν φύσω ἔχων τὴν συνάφειαν). So close was the union, so ineffable, that the Word and the man He assumed may be regarded and spoken of as One Person, even as man and wife are "no longer two but one flesh"; or as "the reasonable soul and flesh are one man." Hence in Scripture things are often predicated of one of the natures which belong to the other. Hence the question whether the Virgin is rightly called ἀνθρωποτόκος or θεοτόκος is an idle one; for she was both. She was the mother of the Man, but in that Man when she gave Him birth there was already the indwelling of God. On the other hand, every idea of the Incarnation which tends to a confusion of the natures is to be jealously excluded. When St. John says that "the Word was made flesh," we must understand him to speak only of what the Word apparently became; not that the flesh He took was unreal, but that He was not really transformed into flesh (τὸ ῾ἐγένετο᾽ . . . κατὰ τὸ δοκεῖν . . . οὐ γὰρ μετεποιήθη εἰς σάρκα). (5) There are not two Sons in Christ, for there are not two Christs; the unity of the Person must be as carefully preserved as the distinction of the Natures; the Man is Son only by virtue of His indissoluble union with the Divine Word; when we call Christ the Son of God, we think principally of Him Who is truly and essentially Son, but we include in our conception the man who is indissolubly One with Him, and therefore shares His honours and His Name.

(c) Lastly, what are the elements, conditions, and ultimate results of the restorative work which the Incarnate Son came to do? (1) Theodore placed the redemptive virtue of the death of Christ chiefly in this, that it was the transition of the Second Adam from the mutable state into the immutable, the necessary step to the resurrection-life, in which death and sin are finally abolished. (2) Baptism, which represents the death and resurrection of the Lord, unites us to the risen Christ by a participation of His Spirit, so that in it we pass as by a second birth into the sphere of the future life. (3) The regenerate occupy middle ground between the two worlds, living in the present yet belonging to the future, potentially sinless and immortal, actually liable to sin and death. It is their business, by the aid of the Holy Spirit, to mould their present lives into conformity with the life of the risen Christ, and the conditions of the future state. Living thus they are justified by faith, i.e. their faith enables them in some sort to anticipate their future sinlessness. (4) But actual and final justification can only be obtained at the resurrection. The Parousia is therefore the great hope of the church, as bringing with it the two great results of the Incarnation, the ἀναμαρτησία and the ἀφθαρσία of the Body of Christ. Nothing short of the final state of perfection which will be then inaugurated can exhaust the meaning of such terms as "redemption," "forgiveness of sins," and "salvation." (5) Although the Second Advent will bring these blessings only to those who have in some degree responded to their baptismal calling, and co-operated with the Spirit of Christ, Theodore is far from pronouncing the case of the unprepared to be hopeless. The punishments of the condemned will indeed be in their nature eternal, being such as belong to eternity and not to time; but both reason and Scripture shew that they will be remissible upon repentance. Where (he asks) would be the benefit of a resurrection to such persons if they were raised only to be punished without remedy or end? What would, then, be the meaning of such texts as Mt. v. 26, Lk. xii. 47, 48? Moreover, Theodore's fundamental conception of the mission and Person of Christ compels him to believe that there will be a final restoration of all creation.

V. Method of Interpretation.—As a scholar and successor of Diodore (cf. Socr. vi. 3; Soz. viii. 2), Theodore inherited the Antiochene system of grammatical and historical interpretation, and denounced the licence of the Alexandrian allegorizers. The recovery of the commentary on Gal. iv. 24 shews that Theodore convinced himself that the allegorical method was essentially rationalistic, undermining the historical truth of the O.T. narrative. St. Paul's use of ἀλληγορία was different in kind, since it presupposed the facts of the history and employed them only by way of illustration. In his own interpretation of both the historical and prophetical Scriptures it was a first principle with Theodore to ascertain the intention of the writer, and to refuse a secondary and more subtle meaning when the words were capable of a literal and practical sense. But the application of this principle was checked by several considerations, such as (i) the usage (ἰδίωμα) of Scripture or of the individual writer; (ii) the guidance of the context; (iii) in the case of O.T. writers, the general purpose of the older covenant. The third point requires careful examination. (a) Theodore was deeply convinced of the propaedeutic character of O.T. He saw that the divine purpose which runs through the whole of its course culminates in the Incarnation and the Gospel of Christ. His commentary on the minor prophets appears to have 972been written to counteract the allegorists. The God of both Testaments, being one and the same, worked out His purpose with a single aim. Hence the events of O.T. were so ordered as to be typical of those which were to follow. Consequently the histories and prophecies of the older revelation are susceptible of an application to the facts and doctrines of the Gospel, to which they offer a divinely foreseen and instinctive parallel. The words of the Psalmists and Prophets are constantly Christological, because the events to which they relate find a perfect counterpart in Christ (in Ps. xvi. xxii.). Their language is often hyperbolical or metaphorical, if viewed in reference to its original object; exhausting itself only in the higher realities of the kingdom of heaven (in Joel ii. 281). (b) Excepting some few passages in which he recognizes direct prophecies of the Messiah and His times, Theodore holds that the language of O.T. is applied to Christ and the Christian dispensation only by way of accommodation. This accommodation is, however, amply justified by the fact that in the divine foreknowledge the earlier cycle of events was designed to be typical of the later. Thus Ps. xxii., Theodore says, is clearly a narrative of David's conflict with Absalom, yet rightly used by the Evangelist to portray the passion of Christ, in which the words found a complete, and even to some extent a literal, fulfilment. Again, the words of Joel ii. 28 cannot possibly have been a prediction of the coming of the Holy Ghost, since the O.T. writers knew nothing as yet of a personal Spirit of God; "I will pour out of my Spirit" meant only "I will extend to all the divine favour and protection." Yet St. Peter rightly quotes the prophecy as finding its accomplishment in the Pentecostal effusion; for its fulfilment to the Jews of the Restoration was a pledge and type of the descent of the Spirit upon the universal church. This view (so Theodore argues) at once secures for the prophecy a historical basis, and magnifies the Christian economy as that which converted into sober fact the highest imagery of the ancient Scriptures.

If Theodore's N.T. exegesis is less characteristic, it is certainly more satisfactory than his interpretation of the Hebrew prophecies. His mind and education were Greek; in expounding the O.T. he trusted entirely to the guidance of the LXX ; in commenting on the Evangelists and St. Paul he found himself face to face with an original which he was competent to handle upon his own principles. In the remains of his commentaries of the Gospels we notice the precision with which he adheres to the letter of his author (e.g. on Matt. xxvi. 26), his readiness to press into the service of the interpreter minor words which are commonly overlooked (John xiii. 33, ἄρτι), his attention to the niceties of grammar (iii. 21) and punctuation (ix. 27), his keen discussion of doubtful readings (i. 3), his acuteness in seizing on the ἰδιώματα of Scripture (i. 14), and in bringing out the points of a parable or discourse (Mark iv. 26; John iii. 5, x. i seq., xv. 4, 26). Yet we note a want of spiritual insight (John xi. 21, ὃ δὲ λέγει κ.τ.λ.) and feeling (xi. 35), and detect an occasional departure from the author's own first principles under the pressure of theological prejudice (xx. 22, 28). The commentary on the Pauline Epistles seems on the whole worthy of its author's great name. It manifests in yet greater measure his care and precision, and, in addition, an honest and unceasing effort to trace the sequence of St. Paul's thought. Its principal fault is the continual introduction of theological disquisitions, which break the course of the interpretation and not seldom carry the reader into speculations entirely foreign to the mind of the Apostle. But even these digressions have their value as expositions of Antiochene theology and as shewing the process by which so acute an intellect as Theodore's could elicit that theology from the Epistles of St. Paul, or reconcile the two systems where they appear to be hopelessly at variance.

The worth of Theodore's contributions to the exegesis of Scripture has been very variously estimated. He is for ourselves the best exponent of Antiochene exegesis. Diodore has left too little to be representative; Chrysostom was a homilist rather than a scientific expositor; Theodoret is little else than a judicious compiler from Chrysostom and Theodore. Theodore is an independent writer, yet influenced more deeply than either Chrysostom or Theodoret by the Antiochene traditions. He had no audience to propitiate, no council to dread, and treads with the firmness of a man conscious that he represents a great principle and is fully convinced of its truth. His expositions, especially of N.T., possess intrinsic value of no common kind. Except when led astray by theological prepossessions, his firm grasp of the grammatical and historical method and a kind of instinctive power of arriving at the drift of his author's thought have enabled him often to anticipate the most recent conclusions of exegesis. Besides, however, being deterred by his unwieldy style, the reader misses the devotional and spiritual tone which recommends most Patristic commentaries. His abundant theological discussions and moral teachings do not compensate for this. Yet after every fair deduction on these and other grounds, we may still assign to Theodore a high rank among commentators proper, and a position in which he stands among ancient expositors of Scripture almost alone—that of an independent inquirer, provided with a true method of eliciting the sense of his author and considerable skill in the use of it.

Life and Writings.—O. F. Fritsche, de Theod. Mops. Vita et Scriptis Commentatio Hist. Theologica (Halae, 1836); J. L. Jacobi in Deutsche Zeitschrift für Christl. Wissenschaft (1864); F. J. A. Hort in the Journal of Class. and Sacred Philology, iv. (Camb. 1859); Bickell, Conspect. Rei Syror. Liter. (Monast. 1871); H. Kihn, Theodor. v. Mops. u. Junilius Africanus (Freiburg im Breisgau, 1880); F. Loofs, art. "Theodor. v. Mopsuestia" in Hauck-Herzog, Realencyklopädie, xix. (1907); O. Bardenhewer, Patr. pp. 301 ff.; F. Barthgen, "Du Psalmenkommentar d. Theodor. v. Mops in Syrichen Bearbeitung," in Z. A. T. W. v. (1889), "Sichenzahn Makkabäische Psalmen" in Z. A. T. W. vi. (1887); J. B. Chabot, Commentarius Theod. Mops. in Evang. D. 973Johannis i. (textus Syriacus) (Paris, 1897); J. Lietzmann, Der Psalmenkommentar, S.B.A. (1902). For doctrine and method of interpretation see Neander, Allgem. Geschichte, II. iii.; Dorner, Lehre v. der Person Christi, II. i.; art. in Ch. Quart. Rev. Oct. 1875, entitled "Theodore and Modern Thought"; Prof. Sanday in Expositor, June 1880; A. Harnack, art. "Antiochenische Schule" in Hauck-Herzog, Realencyklopädie, i. (1896); History of Dogmas (Eng. trans.), iii. 279 ff., iv. 165 ff.; J. H. Soarsby, art. "Antiochene Theology" in Hastings, Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, i. (1908); J. F. Bethune-Baker, Early History of Christian Doctrine, pp. 256 ff.; Nestorius and his Teaching, passim (1908). Migne's useful but uncritical ed. (vol. 66, 1864) of all the pub. works and fragments is in his Patr. Gk. In 1869 Dr. E. Sachau published the inedited Syriac fragments scattered through the Nitrian MSS. of Brit. Mus., with a reprint of the Theodorean matter already collected by P. de Lagarde in his Analecta Syriaca (Lips. 1858). The ancient Latin version of the commentaries on some of the Epp. of St. Paul, with a fresh collation of the Greek fragments, was issued by the Camb. Univ. Press in 1880–1882. A complete critical edition of all the literary remains of Theodore is still a desideratum. Cf. Zahn, Das N.T. Theodors von Mops. in Neue Kirch. Zeitschr. 1900, xi. pp. 788 f.

[H.B.S.]

« Theodorus Askidas, archbp. of Caesarea Theodorus, bp. of Mopsuestia Theodorus, bishop of Tyana »





Advertisements



| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |