THEODORET, the-ed'o-ret


Bishop of Cyrrhus and member of the School of Antioch (q.v.; see also EXEGESIS or HERMENEUTICS, III., 3); b. at Antioch in 393 (Tillemont); d. either at Cyrus or Cyrrhus ("about a two-days' journey east of Antioch"; eighty Roman miles), or at the monastery near Apamea (54 m. s.s.e. of Antioch) about 457. The following facts about his life are gleaned mainly from his "Epistles" and his "Religious History" (Philotheos historia). His mother having been childless for twelve years, his birth was promised by a hermit named Macedonius on the condition of his dedication to God, whence the name Theodoret ("gift of God"). He was brought up under the care of the ascetics and acquired a very extensive classical knowledge, and, according to Photius, a style of Attic purity. That he was a personal disciple of Theodore of Mopsuestia and listened to Chrysostom is improbable. He early became a lector among the clergy of Antioch, tarried a while in a monastery, was a cleric at Cyrrhus, and in 423 became bishop over a diocese about forty miles square and embracing 800 parishes, but with an insignificant town as its see city. Theodoret, supported only by the appeals of the intimate hermits, himself in personal danger, zealously guarded purity of the doctrine. More than 1,000 Marcionites were reclaimed in his diocese, beside many Arians and Macedonians; more than 200 copies of Tatian's Diatessaron he retired from the churches; and he erected churches and supplied them with relics. Extensive and varied were his philanthropic and economic interests: he endeavored to secure relief for the people oppressed with taxation; his inheritance he divided among the poor; out of his episcopal revenues he erected baths, bridges, halls, and aqueducts; he summoned rhetoricians and physicians, and reminded the officials of their duties. To the persecuted Christians of Persian Armenia he sent letters of encouragement, and to the Carthaginian Celestiacus, fleeing before the Vandals, he gave refuge.

The Nestorian Controversy.

The life of Theodoret stands out prominently in the christological controversies aroused by Cyril (see NESTORIUS; EUTYCHIANISM). Theodoret shared in the petition of John of Antioch to Nestorius to approve of the term theotokos ("mother of God"), and upon the request of John wrote against Cyril's anathemas.

He may have prepared the Antiochian symbol which was to secure the emperor's true understanding of the Nicene Creed, and he was member and spokesman of the deputation of eight from Antioch called by the emperor to Chalcedon. To the condemnation of Nestorius he could not assent. John, reconciled to Cyril by the emperor's


order, sought to bring Theodoret to submission by entrenching upon his eparchy. Theodoret was determined to preserve the peace of the Church by seeking the adoption of a formula avoiding the unconditional condemnation of Nestorius, and, toward the close of 434, strove earnestly for the reconciliation of the East. But Cyril refused to compromise and when he opened his attack (437) upon Diodorus and Theodoret, John sided with them and Theodoret assumed the defense of the Antiochian party (c. 439). Domnus, the successor of John, took him as his counselor. After the death of Cyril, adherents of the Antiochian theology were appointed to bishoprics. Irenaeus the friend of Nestorius, with the cooperation of Theodoret, became metropolitan of Tyre, in spite of the protests of Dioscurus, Cyril's successor, who now turned specially against Theodoret; and, by preferring the charge that he taught two sons in Christ, he secured the order from the court confining Theodoret to Cyrrhus. Theodoret now composed the Eronistes (see below). In vain were his efforts at court at self-justification against the charges of Dioscurus, as well as the countercharge of Domnus against Eutyches of Apollinarianism (see APOLLINARIS OF LAODICEA). The court excluded Theodoret from the council at Ephesus (449) because of his antagonism to Cyril. Here, because of Epist. cli. against Cyril and his defense of Diodorus and Theodore, he was condemned without a hearing and excommunicated and his writings were directed to be burned. Even Domnus gave his assent. Theodoret was compelled to leave Cyrrhus and retire to the monastery of Apamea. He made an appeal to Leo the Great, but not until the death of Theodosius II. (450) was his appeal for a revocation of the judgments against him granted by imperial edict. He was ordered to participate in the Council of Chalcedon (451), which created violent opposition. He was first to take part only as accuser, yet among the bishops. Then he was constrained (Oct. 26, 451) by the friends of Dioscurus to pronounce the anathema over Nestorius. His conduct shows (though hindered from a statement to that effect) that he performed this with his previous reservation; namely, without application beyond the teaching of two sons in Christ and the denial of the theotokos. Upon this he was declared orthodox and rehabilitated. The only thing known concerning him subsequent to the Council of Chalcedon is the letter of Leo charging him to guard the Chalcedonian victory (MPG, lxxxiii. 1319 sqq.). With Diodorus and Theodore he was no less hated by the Monophysites (q.v.) than Nestorius himself, and held by them and their friends as a heretic. The Three Chapter Controversy (q.v.) led to the condemnation of his writings against Cyril in the second Council of Constantinople (553).

Works: Exegetical.

In literature Theodoret devoted himself first of all to exegesis. The Scripture was his only authority, and his representation of orthodox doctrine consists of a collocation of Scripture passages. The genuineness and relative chronology of his commentaries is proven by references in the later to the earlier. The commentary on Canticles, written while he was a young bishop, though not before 430, precedes Psalms; the commentaries on the prophets were begun with Daniel, followed by Ezekiel, and then the Minor Prophets. Next that on the Psalms was completed before 436; and those on Isaiah, Jeremiah, and the Pauline Epistles (including Hebrews), before 448. Theodoret's last exegetical works were the interpretations of difficult passages in the Octateuch and Quaestiones dealing with the books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles, written about. 452-453. Excepting the commentary on Isaiah (fragments preserved in the catenae) and on Gal. ii. 6-13, the exegetical writings of Theodoret are extant. Exegetical material on the Gospels under his name in the catenae may have come from his other works, and foreign interpolations occur in his comments on the Octateuch. The Biblical authors are, for Theodoret, merely the mouthpieces of the Holy Spirit, though they do not lose their individual peculiarities. By the unavoidable imperfection of the translations he states, the understanding is encumbered. Not familiar with Hebrew, Theodoret uses the Syrian translation, the Greek versions, and the Septuagint. In principle his exegesis is grammatical-historical; and he criticizes the intrusion of the author's own ideas. His aim is to avoid a one-sidedness of literalness as well as of allegory. Hence he protests against the attributing of Canticles to Solomon and the like as degrading the Holy Spirit. Rather is it to be said that the Scripture speaks often "figuratively" and "in riddles." In the Old Testament everything has typical significance and prophetically it embodies already the Christian doctrine. The divine illumination affords the right understanding after the apostolic suggestion and the New Testament fulfilment. Valuable though not binding is the exegetical tradition of the ecclesiastical teachers. Theodoret likes to choose the best among various interpretations before him, preferably Theodore's, and supplements from his own. He is clear and simple in thought and statement; and his merit is to have rescued the exegetical heritage of the school of Antioch as a whole for the Christian Church.

Works: Apologetic, Historical.

Among apologetic writings was the Ad quaestiones magorum (429-436), now lost, in which he justified the Old Testament sacrifices as alternatives in opposition to the Egyptian idolatry (question 1, Lev., MPG, lxxx. 297 sqq.), and exposed the fables of the Magi who worshiped the elements (Hist. eccl. v. 38). De providentia consists of apologetic discourses, proving the divine providence from the physical order (cap. i.-iv.), and from the moral and social order (cap. vi.-x.). The "Cure of the Greek Maladies or Knowledge of the Gospel Truth from the Greek Philosophy," of twelve discourses, was an attempt to prove the truth of Christianity from Greek philosophy and in contrast with the pagan ideas and practises. The truth is self-consistent where it is not obscured with error and approves itself as the power of life; philosophy is only a presentiment of it. This work is distinguished for clearness of arrangement and style. The "Church History" of Theodoret, which begins with the rise of Arian-


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Christ's " sympathetic repentance " in his work is a " substitution of humanity plus Christ for humanity minus Christ "; C. C. Everett, The Gospel of Paul (ib. 1893) which represents the curse on sin as removed on account of Paul's view of Christ's death on the cross outside of the walls of the Holy City; and E. D. Burton and others, The Biblical Idea of the Atonement (Chicago, 1909), where the atonement is for the first time brought into line with the social consciousness of sin and salvation.

For contributions on the Spirit of God see SPIRIT of GOD; on conversion and religious experience, see CONVERSION, also Supplement to RELIGION, PSYCHOLOGY OF.

In Apologetics (q.v.) the most notable contributions have been by Henry B. Smith (q.v.), The Re-

RELIGIOUS ENCYCLOPEDIA Theological Science Theological Seminaries

lations of Faith and Philosophy (New York, 1877); Horace Bushnell, Nature and the Supernatural (ib., 1858); John Fiske, The Idea of God (Boston, 1886), and Through Nature to God (ib. 1899); Apologetics. w. A. Brown, The Essence of Christianity (New York, 1902); G. W. Knox (q.v.), The Direct and Fundamental Proof of the Christian Religion. (ib. 1903); G. B. Foster, The Finality of the Christian Religion (Chicago, 1906); and G. A. Gordon, Religion anal Miracle (Boston, 1909).

The foregoing presentation has not aimed to be exhaustive, some subjects having been omitted and only few books on each subject named, but the main lines have been indicated and leading works sug-


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