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Theodoret of Cyrus or Cyrrhus (Greek: Θεοδώρητος Κύρρου; c. 393 – c. 457) was an influential author, theologian, and Christian bishop of Cyrrhus, Syria (423-457). He played a pivotal role in many early Byzantine church controversies that led to various ecumenical acts and schisms. He is considered a saint.

Contents

Biography

According to Tillemont, he was born at Antioch in 393, and died either at Cyrrhus ("about a two-days' journey east of Antioch" or eighty Roman miles), or at the monastery near Apamea (fifty-four miles southeast 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 heard the orations of John Chrysostom is improbable.

At a young age he became a lector among the clergy of Antioch, then resided 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. He converted more than 1,000 Marcionites in his diocese, besides 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.

His philanthropic and economic interests were extensive and varied: he endeavored to secure relief for the people oppressed with taxation; he divided his inheritance among the poor; from 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, who had fled the rule of the Vandals, he gave refuge.

The Nestorian controversy

Theodoret stands out prominently in the christological controversies aroused by Cyril of Alexandria. Theodoret shared in the petition of John I 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 a 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 between the Eastern churches. But Cyril refused to compromise and when he opened his attack (437) upon Diodorus of Tarsus and Theodore, John sided with them and Theodoret assumed the defense of the Antiochian party (c. 439). Domnus II, 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 bishop of Tyre, in spite of the protests of Dioscorus, 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 Eranistes (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 Apollinarism. The court excluded Theodoret from the Second Council of Ephesus in 449 because of his antagonism to Cyril. Here, because of his Epistle 151 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 his monastery at Apamea. He made an appeal to Leo the Great, but not until after the death of Theodosius II in 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, which created violent opposition. He was first to take part only as accuser, yet among the bishops. Then he was constrained (October 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 following the Council of Chalcedon is the letter of Leo charging him to guard the Chalcedonian victory (PG, lxxxiii. 1319 sqq.). With Diodorus and Theodore he was no less hated by the Monophysites than Nestorius himself, and held by them and their friends as a heretic. The Three-Chapter Controversy led to the condemnation of his writings against Cyril in the Second Council of Constantinople (553).

Works

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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 latter to the earlier. The commentary on the Song of Songs, 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 to 453.

Excepting the commentary on Isaiah (fragments preserved in the catenae) and on Galatians 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 Syriac 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 The Song of Songs 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 typological 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.

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., PG, lxxx. 297 sqq.), and exposed the fables of the Magi who worshiped the elements (Church History v. 38).

De providentia consists of apologetic discourses, proving the divine providence from the physical order (chapters i-iv), and from the moral and social order (chapters vi-x).

The "Graecarum Affectionum Curatio" or 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.[1]

The Church History of Theodoret, which begins with the rise of Arianism and closes with the death of Theodore in 429, falls far behind those of Socrates Scholasticus and Sozomen. It contains many sources otherwise lost, specially letters on the Arian controversy; but it is defective in historical sense and chronological accuracy, and on account of Theodoret's inclination to embellishment and miraculous narrative, and preference for the personal. Original material of Antiochian information appears chiefly in the latter books.

Theodoret's sources are in dispute. According to Valesius these were mainly Socrates and Sozomen; Albert Guldenpenning's thorough research placed Rufinus first, and next to him, Eusebius of Caesarea, Athanasius, Sozomen, Sabinus, Philostorgius, Gregory Nazianzen, and, least of all, Socrates. N. Glubokovskij counts Eusebius, Rufinus, Philostorgius, and, perhaps, Sabinus.

The Religious History, with an appendix on divine love, contains the biographies of thirty (ten living) ascetics, held forth as religious models. It is a document of remarkable significance for understanding the complexities of the role of early monastics, both in society and in the church; it is also remarkable for presenting a model of ascetic authority which runs strongly against Athanasius's Life of Antony. Upon the request of a high official named Sporacius, Theodoret compiled a Compendium of Heretical Accounts (Haereticarum fabularum compendium), including a heresiology (books i-iv) and a "compendium of divine dogmas" (book v), which, apart from Origen's De principiis and the theological work of John of Damascus, is the only systematic representation of the theology of the Greek Fathers.

Theodoret's Correspondence (mentioned below) is a primary source for the development of Christological issues between the Councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon and illuminates current administrative and social problems.

Dogmatic

Among dogmatic treatises Theodoret mentions (Epist. cxiii, cxvi) having written against Arius and Eunomius, probably one work, to which were joined the three treatises against the Macedonians. There were, besides, two works against the Apollinarians, and of the Opus adversus Marcionem nothing has been preserved. The treatises On the Trinity and On the Divine Dispensation (cf. Peri theologias kai tes theias enanthropeseos; Epist. cxiii), assigned by A. Ehrhard to the work On the Holy and Life-giving Trinity and On the Incarnation of the Lord of Cyril of Alexandria, certainly belong to the Antiochian School and to Theodoret. To the same belong cap. xiii-xv, xvii, and brief parts of other chapters of the fragments which Jean Garnier (Auctarium) included under the title, Pentology of Theodoret on the Incarnation as well as three of the five fragments referred by Marius Mercator to the fifth book of some writing of Theodoret. They are polemics against Arianism and Apollinarianism.

Theodoret's Refutation of the twelve anathemas of Cyril is preserved in the antipolemic of Cyril (PG, cxxvi. 392 sqq.). He detects Apollinarianism in Cyril's teaching, and declines a "contracting into one" of two natures of the only begotten, as much as a separation into two sons (Epist. Cxliii). Instead of a "union according to hypostases," he would accept only one that "manifests the essential properties or modes of the natures." The man united to God was born of Mary; between God the Logos and the form of a servant a distinction must be drawn. Only minor fragments (cf. Epist. xvi) of Theodoret's defense of Diodorus and Theodore (438-444) have been preserved (Glubokovskij ii. 142).

His chief christological work is the Eranistes etoi polymorphos ("Beggar or Multiform") in three dialogues, describing the Monophysites as beggars passing off their doctrines gathered by scraps from diverse heretical sources and himself as the orthodox.

God is immutable also in becoming man, the two natures are separate in Christ, and God the Logos is ever immortal and impassive. Each nature remained "pure" after the union, retaining its properties to the exclusion of all transmutation and intermixture. Of the twenty-seven orations in defense of various propositions, the first six agree in their given content with Theodoret. A few extracts from the five orations on Chrysostom were preserved by Photius (codex 273). Most valuable are the numerous letters (Eng. transl., NPNF, 2 ser., iii. 250-348).

Translations

  • Translations of some of Theodoret's writings can be found in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers. A bilingual edition of the Eranistes was published by Oxford University Press in 1974
  • Bilingual editions (Greek text with parallel French translation) of several of the texts mentioned above have been published in recent years in Sources Chrétiennes.

External links


Theodoret of Cyrus or Cyrrhus (Greek: Θεοδώρητος Κύρρου; c. 393 – c. 457) was an influential author, theologian, and Christian bishop of Cyrrhus, Syria (423-457). He played a pivotal role in many early Byzantine church controversies that led to various ecumenical acts and schisms. He is considered blessed or a saint by the Eastern Orthodox Church [1].

Contents

Biography

According to Tillemont, he was born at Antioch in 393, and died either at Cyrrhus ("about a two-days' journey east of Antioch" or eighty Roman miles), or at the monastery near Apamea (fifty-four miles southeast 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 heard the orations of John Chrysostom is improbable.

At a young age he became a lector among the clergy of Antioch, then resided 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. He converted more than 1,000 Marcionites in his diocese, besides 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.

His philanthropic and economic interests were extensive and varied: he endeavored to secure relief for the people oppressed with taxation; he divided his inheritance among the poor; from 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, who had fled the rule of the Vandals, he gave refuge.

The Nestorian controversy

Theodoret stands out prominently in the christological controversies aroused by Cyril of Alexandria. Theodoret shared in the petition of John I 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 a 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 between the Eastern churches. But Cyril refused to compromise and when he opened his attack (437) upon Diodorus of Tarsus and Theodore, John sided with them and Theodoret assumed the defense of the Antiochian party (c. 439). Domnus II, 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 bishop of Tyre, in spite of the protests of Dioscorus, 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 Eranistes (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 Apollinarism. The court excluded Theodoret from the Second Council of Ephesus in 449 because of his antagonism to Cyril. Here, because of his Epistle 151 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 his monastery at Apamea. He made an appeal to Leo the Great, but not until after the death of Theodosius II in 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, which created violent opposition. He was first to take part only as accuser, yet among the bishops. Then he was constrained (October 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 following the Council of Chalcedon is the letter of Leo charging him to guard the Chalcedonian victory (PG, lxxxiii. 1319 sqq.). With Diodorus and Theodore he was no less hated by the Monophysites than Nestorius himself, and held by them and their friends as a heretic. The Three-Chapter Controversy 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[citation needed], 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 latter to the earlier. The commentary on the Song of Songs, 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 to 453.

Excepting the commentary on Isaiah (fragments preserved in the catenae) and on Galatians 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 Syriac 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 The Song of Songs 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 typological 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.

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., PG, lxxx. 297 sqq.), and exposed the fables of the Magi who worshiped the elements (Church History v. 38).

De providentia consists of apologetic discourses, proving the divine providence from the physical order (chapters i-iv), and from the moral and social order (chapters vi-x).

The "Graecarum Affectionum Curatio" or 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.[2]

The Church History of Theodoret, which begins with the rise of Arianism and closes with the death of Theodore in 429, falls far behind those of Socrates Scholasticus and Sozomen. It contains many sources otherwise lost, specially letters on the Arian controversy; but it is defective in historical sense and chronological accuracy, and on account of Theodoret's inclination to embellishment and miraculous narrative, and preference for the personal. Original material of Antiochian information appears chiefly in the latter books.

Theodoret's sources are in dispute. According to Valesius these were mainly Socrates and Sozomen; Albert Guldenpenning's thorough research placed Rufinus first, and next to him, Eusebius of Caesarea, Athanasius, Sozomen, Sabinus, Philostorgius, Gregory Nazianzen, and, least of all, Socrates. N. Glubokovskij counts Eusebius, Rufinus, Philostorgius, and, perhaps, Sabinus.

The Religious History, with an appendix on divine love, contains the biographies of thirty (ten living) ascetics, held forth as religious models. It is a document of remarkable significance for understanding the complexities of the role of early monastics, both in society and in the church; it is also remarkable for presenting a model of ascetic authority which runs strongly against Athanasius's Life of Antony. Upon the request of a high official named Sporacius, Theodoret compiled a Compendium of Heretical Accounts (Haereticarum fabularum compendium), including a heresiology (books i-iv) and a "compendium of divine dogmas" (book v), which, apart from Origen's De principiis and the theological work of John of Damascus, is the only systematic representation of the theology of the Greek Fathers.

Theodoret's Correspondence (mentioned below) is a primary source for the development of Christological issues between the Councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon and illuminates current administrative and social problems.

Dogmatic

Among dogmatic treatises Theodoret mentions (Epist. cxiii, cxvi) having written against Arius and Eunomius, probably one work, to which were joined the three treatises against the Macedonians. There were, besides, two works against the Apollinarians, and of the Opus adversus Marcionem nothing has been preserved. The treatises On the Trinity and On the Divine Dispensation (cf. Peri theologias kai tes theias enanthropeseos; Epist. cxiii), assigned by A. Ehrhard to the work On the Holy and Life-giving Trinity and On the Incarnation of the Lord of Cyril of Alexandria, certainly belong to the Antiochian School and to Theodoret. To the same belong cap. xiii-xv, xvii, and brief parts of other chapters of the fragments which Jean Garnier (Auctarium) included under the title, Pentology of Theodoret on the Incarnation as well as three of the five fragments referred by Marius Mercator to the fifth book of some writing of Theodoret. They are polemics against Arianism and Apollinarianism.

Theodoret's Refutation of the twelve anathemas of Cyril is preserved in the antipolemic of Cyril (PG, cxxvi. 392 sqq.). He detects Apollinarianism in Cyril's teaching, and declines a "contracting into one" of two natures of the only begotten, as much as a separation into two sons (Epist. Cxliii). Instead of a "union according to hypostases," he would accept only one that "manifests the essential properties or modes of the natures." The man united to God was born of Mary; between God the Logos and the form of a servant a distinction must be drawn. Only minor fragments (cf. Epist. xvi) of Theodoret's defense of Diodorus and Theodore (438-444) have been preserved (Glubokovskij ii. 142).

His chief christological work is the Eranistes etoi polymorphos ("Beggar or Multiform") in three dialogues, describing the Monophysites as beggars passing off their doctrines gathered by scraps from diverse heretical sources and himself as the orthodox.

God is immutable also in becoming man, the two natures are separate in Christ, and God the Logos is ever immortal and impassive. Each nature remained "pure" after the union, retaining its properties to the exclusion of all transmutation and intermixture. Of the twenty-seven orations in defense of various propositions, the first six agree in their given content with Theodoret. A few extracts from the five orations on Chrysostom were preserved by Photius (codex 273). Most valuable are the numerous letters (Eng. transl., NPNF, 2 ser., iii. 250-348).

Translations

  • Translations of some of Theodoret's writings can be found in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers. A bilingual edition of the Eranistes was published by Oxford University Press in 1974
  • Bilingual editions (Greek text with parallel French translation) of several of the texts mentioned above have been published in recent years in Sources Chrétiennes.
  • An English translation is available as an e-book from Munseys.com.

External links


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

THEODORET, bishop of Cyrrhus, an important writer in the domains of exegesis, dogmatic theology, church history and ascetic theology, was born in Antioch, Syria, about 386. At an early age he entered the cloister; and in 423 he became bishop of Cyrrhus, a small city in a wild district between Antioch and the Euphrates, where, except for a short period of exile, he spent the remainder of his life. The date of his death is uncertain, but it must have been at least six or seven years later than the council of Chalcedon (451). Although thoroughly devoted to the ideals of monasticism, he discharged his episcopal duties with remarkable zeal and fidelity. He was diligent in the cure of souls, labouring hard and successfully for the conversion of the numerous Gnostic communities and other heretical sects which still maintained a footing within the diocese. He himself claims to have brought more than a thousand Marcionites within the pale of the church, and to have destroyed many copies of the Diatessaron of Tatian, which were still in ecclesiastical use; and he also exerted himself to improve the diocese, which was at once large and poor, by building bridges and aqueducts, beautifying the town, and by similar works.

As an exegete Theodoret belongs to the Antiochene school, of which Diodorus of Tarsus and Theodore of Mopsuestia were the heads. He was not actually the personal disciple of either, but he adopted their methods, though without the consistency and boldness of the first-named. His extant commentaries (those on Canticles, on the Prophets, on the book of Psalms and on the Pauline epistles - the last the most valuable) are among the best performances of the fathers of the church. They are brief, yet not wanting in that element of practical edification on which Chrysostom lays special weight as characteristic of the Antiochenes. In addition to these complete commentaries, we have fragments of some others (of that on Isaiah, for example), principally met with in catenae. There are also special elucidations of some difficult Scripture texts.

Theodoret's chief importance is as a dogmatic theologian, it having fallen to his lot to take part in the Nestorian controversy and to be the most considerable opponent of the views of Cyril and Dioscurus of Alexandria. For more than twenty years he maintained the struggle against the Alexandrian dogmatic and its formulae fvwciS b and the like), and taught that in the person of Christ we must strictly distinguish two natures (hypostases), which are united indeed in one person (prosopon), but are not amalgamated in essence. For these years his history coincides with that of the Eastern Church from 430 to 451, and for this very reason it is impossible to sketch it even briefly here (see Hefele, Conc.-gesch., vol. ii.). The issue was not unfavourable to Theodoret's cause, but melancholy enough for Theodoret himself: the council of Chalcedon condemned monophysitism, but he unhappily yielded to pressure so far as also to take part in pronouncing " anathema upon Nestorius, and upon all who call not the Holy Virgin Mother of God, and who divide the one Son into two." As Theodoret had previously been a constant defender of Nestorius it was impossible for him to concur in this sentence upon his unfortunate friend with a clear conscience, and in point of fact he did not change his own dogmatic position. It is painful, therefore, to find him in his subsequent Epitome classing Nestorius as a heretic, and speaking of him with the utmost hostility. Some of Theodoret's dogmatic works are no longer extant: of his five books IIEpi Evavepwirila - ecws, for example, directed against Cyril after the council of Ephesus, we now possess fragments merely. A good deal of what passes under his name has been wrongly attributed to him. Certainly genuine are the refutation ('Avarpori 7) of Cyril's twelve a.vaOENcarcamoi of Nestorius, and the 'EpavirTns, or IIoXu,uopcos, (written about 446), consisting of three dialogues, entitled respectively "Arpsirros, 'A r yxvros, and 'Aira01, in which the monophysitism of Cyril is opposed, and its Apollinarian character insisted on. Among the apologetico-dogmatic works of Theodoret must be reckoned his ten discourses IIEpi irpovotas. Theodoret gives a valuable exposition of his own dogmatic in the fifth book of his Aip€ru s KaKoµueias eircro ii j , already referred to.' This, the latest of his works in the domain of church history (it was written after 451), is a source of great though not of primary importance for 'the history of the old heresies. In spite of the investigations of Volkmar and Hilgenfeld, we are still somewhat in the dark as to the authorities he used. The chief uncertainty is as to whether he knew Justin's Syntagma, and also as to whether he had access to the Philosophumena of Hippolytus in their complete form. Besides this work Theodoret has also left us a church history in five books, from 324 to 429, which was published shortly before the council of Chalcedon. The style is better than that of Socrates and Sozomen, as Photius has remarked, but as a contribution to history the work is inferior in importance. Its author made use of Eusebius's Life of Constantine, and of the histories of Rufinus, Socrates and Sozomen, and probably of Philostorgius as well. He also used other sources, and made a thorough study of the writings of Athanasius, but apart from some documents he has preserved, relating to the Arian controversy, he does not contribute much that is not to be met with in Socrates. As regards chronology he is not very trustworthy; on the other hand, his moderation towards opponents, not excepting Cyril, deserves recognition. The `EAXnvucwv OEpairEvruo lraen,uhTwv (De Curandis Graecorum Affectionibus) - written before 438 - is of an historical and apologetic character, very largely indebted to Clement of Alexandria and Eusebius; it aims at showing the advantages of Christianity as compared with " the moribund but still militant " Hellenism of the day, and deals with the assaults of pagan adversaries. The superiority of the Christian faith both philosophically and ethically is set forth, the chief stress being laid on monachism, with which heathen philosophy has nothing to compare. Much prominence is also given to the cult of saints and martyrs.

On this side of his character, however, Theodoret can best be studied in the thirty ascetic biographies of his (DtX66Eos iaropia. This collection, which has been widely read, is a pendant to the Historia Lausiaca of Palladius and the monkish tales of Sozomen. For the East it has had the same importance as the similar writings of Jerome, Sulpicius Severus and Cassian for the West. It shows that the " sobriety " of the Antiochene scholars can be predicated only of their exegesis; their style of piety was as exaggerated in its devotion to the ideals of monasticism as was that of their monophysite opponents. Indeed, one of the oldest leaders of the school, Diodorus of Tarsus, was himself among the strictest ascetics.

181 letters of Theodoret have come down to us, partly in a separate collection, partly in the Acta of the councils, and partly in the Latin of Marius Mercator; they are of great value not only for the biography of the writer, but also for the history of his diocese and of the church in general.

The edition of Sirmond (Paris, 1642) was afterwards completed by Garnier (1684), who has also written dissertations on the author's works. Schulze and Nosselt published a new edition (6 vols., Halle, 1769-74) based on that of their predecessors; a glossary was afterwards added by Bauer. The reprint will be found in vols. lxxx.-lxxxiv. of Migne, and considerable portions occur in Mansi. The church history has been published frequently in connexion with the histories of Socrates, Sozomen and others, e.g. by Valesius (1693) and Reading (1720). There is an English translation of the history by Bloomfield Jackson in the Nicene and PostNicene Fathers, series ii., vol. iii.; the translation including also the dialogues and letters.

Besides the earlier labours of Tillemont, Ceillier, Oudin, Du Pin and Fabricius and Harless, see Schrbckh, Kirchengesch., vol. xviii.; Hefele, Conc.-gesch., vol. ii.; Richter, De Theodoreto Epp. Paul. Interprete (Leipzig, 1822); Binder, Etudes sur The'odoret (Geneva, 1844); Staudlin, Gesch. u. Lit. der Kirchengesch. (Hanover, 1827); Kihn, Die Bedeutung der antioch. Schule (1866) Diestel, Das A. T. in der christl. Kirche (Jena, 1869); Specht, Theodor v. Mopsvestia 1 Roman Catholic writers vary greatly in their estimate of Theodoret's christology and of his general orthodoxy. On Bertram's essay on this subject (Theodoreti, Episcopi Cyrensis, Doctrina Christologica, Hildesheim, 1883), see Theol. Lit.-Ztung. (1883), 563 seq.

u. Theodoret v. Cyrus (Munich, 1871); Roos, De Theodoreto Clementis et Eusebii Compilatore (Halle, 1883); Nolte in the Tubing. Quartalschr. (1859), p. 302 seq.; Moller, art. " Theodoret," in HerzogHauck's Realencykl.; Venables's article in Smith and Wace's Dict. of Christian Biography; also Bardenhewer's Patrologie, p. 345 fl. On the sources of Theodoret's church history see Jeep, Quellenuntersuchungen z. d. Griech. Kirchenhistorikern (Leipzig, 1884); and especially Giildenpenning, Die Kirchengesch. des Theodoret von Kyrrhos (Halle, 1889). (A. HA.; A. C. McG.)


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Bishop of Cyrus and theologian, born at Antioch in Syria about 393; died about 457.

He says himself that his birth was an answer to the prayers of the monk Macedonius ("Hist. rel.", IX; Epist. lxxi). On account of a vow made by his mother he was dedicated from birth to the service of God and was brought up and educated by the monks Macedonius and Peter. At a very early age he was ordained lector. In theology he studied chiefly the writings of Diodorus of Tarsus, St. John Chrysostom, and Theodore of Mopsuestia. Theodoret was also well trained in philosophy and literature. He understood Syriac as well as Greek, but was not acquainted with either Hebrew or Latin. When he was twenty-three years old and both parents were dead, he divided his fortune among the poor (Epist. cxiii; P. G., LXXXIII, 1316) and became a monk in the monastery of Nicerte not far from Apamea, when he lived for seven years, devoting himself to prayer and study.

Much against his will about 423 he was made Bishop of Cyrus. His diocese included nearly 800 parishes and was suffragan of Hierapolis. A large number of monasteries and hermitages also belonged to it, yet, notwithstanding all this, there were many heathen and heretics within its borders. Theodoret brought many of these into the Church, among others more than a thousand Marcionites. He also destroyed not less than two hundred copies of the "Diatessaron" of Tatian, which were in use in that district ("Hæret. fab.", I, xix; P. G., LXXXIII, 372). He often ran great risks in his apostolic journeys and labours; more than once he suffered ill-usage from the heathen and was even in danger of losing his life. His fame as a preacher was widespread and his services as a speaker were much sought for outside of his diocese; he went to Antioch twenty-six times. Theodoret also exerted himself for the material welfare of the inhabitants of his diocese. Without accepting donations (Epist. lxxxi) he was able to build many churches, bridges, porticos, aqueducts, etc. (Epist. lxxxi, lxxviii, cxxxviii).

Towards the end of 430 Theodoret became involved in the Nestorian controversy. In conjunction with John of Antioch he begged Nestorius not to reject the expression Theotókos as heretical (Mansi, IV, 1067). Yet he held firmly with the other Antiochenes to Nestorius and to the last refused to recognize that Nestorius taught the doctrine of two persons in Christ. Until the Council of Chalcedon in 451 he was the literary champion of the Antiochene party. In 436 he published his ’Anatropé (Confutation) of the Anathemas of Cyril to which the latter replied with an Apology (P. G., LXXVI, 392 sqq.). At the Council of Ephesus (431) Theodoret sided with John of Antioch and Nestorius, and pronounced with them the deposition of Cyril and the anathema against him. He was also a member of the delegation of "Orientals", which was to lay the cause of Nestorius before the emperor but was not admitted to the imperial presence a second time (Hefele-Leclerq, "Hist. des Conc.", II, i, 362 sqq.). The same year he attended the synods of Tarsus and Antioch, at both of which Cyril was again deposed and anathematized. Theodoret after his return to Cyrus continued to oppose Cyril by speech and writing. The symbol (Creed) that formed the basis of the reconciliation (c. 433) of John of Antioch and others with Cyril was apparently drawn up by Theodoret (P. G., LXXXIV, 209 sqq.), who, however, did not enter into the agreement himself because he was not willing to condemn Nestorius as Cyril demanded. It was not until about 435 that Theodoret seems to have become reconciled with John of Antioch, without, however, being obliged to agree to the condemnation of Nestorius (Synod. cxlvii and cli; Epist. clxxvi). The dispute with Cyril broke out again when in 437 the latter called Diodorus of Tarsus and Theodore of Mopsuestia the real originators of the Nestorian heresy. Theodore entered the lists in their defence. The bitterness with which these polemics were carried on is shown both by the letter and the speech of Theodoret when he learned of the death in 444 of the Patriarch of Alexandria (Epist. clxxx).

The episcopate of Dioscurus, the successor of Cyril, was a period of much trouble for Theodoret. Dioscurus, by the mediation of Eutyches and the influential Chrysaphius, obtained an imperial edict which forbade Theodoret to leave his diocese (Epist. lxxix-lxxxii). In addition Theodoret was accused of Nestorianism (Epist. lxxxiii-lxxxvi); in answer to this attack he wrote his most important polemical work, called "Eranistes". Theodoret was also considered the prime mover of the condemnation of Eutyches by the Patriarch Flavian. In return Dioscurus obtained an imperial decree in 449 whereby Theodoret was forbidden to take any part in the synod of Ephesus (Robber Council of Ephesus). At the third session of this synod Theodoret was deposed by the efforts of Dioscurus and ordered by the emperor to re-enter his former monastery near Apamea. Better times, however, came before long. Theodoret appealed to Pope Leo who declared his deposition invalid, and, as the Emperor Theodosius II died the following year (450), he was allowed to re-enter his diocese. In the next year, notwithstanding the violent opposition of the Alexandrine party, Theodoret was admitted as a regular member to the sessions of the Council of Chalcedon, but refrained from voting. At the eighth session (26 Oct., 451), he was admitted to full membership after he had agreed to the anathema against Nestorius; probably he meant this agreement only in the sense: in case Nestorius had really taught the heresy imputed to him (Mansi, VII, 190). It is not certain whether Theodoret spent the last years of his life in the city of Cyrus, or in the monastery where he had formerly lived. There still exists a letter written by Pope Leo in the period after the Council of Chalcedon in which he encourages Theodoret to co- operate without wavering in the victory of Chalcedon (P. G., LXXXIII, 1319 sqq.). The writings of Theodoret against Cyril of Alexandria were anathematized during the troubles that arose in connexion with the war of the Three Chapters.

WRITINGS

A. Exegetical

Theodoret wrote brief treatises in the form of questions and answers on special passages of the Octateuch, four Books of Kings, and two Books of Paralipomenon (P. G., LXXX, 75-858). He wrote commentaries covering the whole books on: The Psalms (P. G., LXXX, 857-1998, and LXXXIV, 19-32), written before 436 (Epist. lxxxi); Canticles (P. G., LXXXI, 27-214); the Greater Prophets, Daniel and Ezechiel before 436, Isaias and Jeremias before 448, of which the commentary on Isaias has been lost, excepting some fragments preserved in the "Catenæ"; the Minor Prophets before 436 (P. G., LXXXI, 495-1988); and the Epistles of St. Paul, written before 448 (P. G., LXXXII, 35-878).

B. Apologetic

"Græcarum affectionum curatio" (Remedy for the diseases of the Greeks), twelve books, written before 437, "the last and probably also the most complete of the numerous apologies which Greek antiquity has produced" (Bardenhewer, "Patrologie", 3rd ed., 1910, p. 327). "De divina Providentia", ten sermons, probably his best work, in which he proves the administration of Divine Providence from the physical, moral, and social systems of the world.

C. Dogmatico-Polemical

"Refutatio duodecim Anathematum", against St. Cyril; it has been preserved in Cyril's answer (P. G., LXXVI, 392 sqq.; Latin by Marius Mercator, P. L., XLVIII, 972 sqq.). "De Sancta et vivifica Trinitate" (P. G., LXXV, 1147-90), and "De Incarnatione Domini" (ib., 1419-78); these two last mentioned treatises have been proved by A. Ehrhard to have been written by Theodoret (see bibliography). "Eranistes seu Plymorphos" (P. G., LXXXIII, 27-l336), written in 448 in the form of three dialogues between an Orthodox (Theodoret) and a beggar (Eutyches); these dialogues sought to prove that the Divinity of Christ is (a) unchangeable, (b) unmixed with humanity, (c) incapable of suffering. In the fourth book the first three are briefly summed up in syllogisms. "Hæreticarum fabularum compendium" in five books (ib., 336-556); the first four contain a brief summary of heresies up to the time of Theodoret, and the last book contrasts them with Catholic faith and morals.

D. Historical

"Historia Ecclesiastica" (P. G., LXXXII, 881-1280) treats in five books the period from Arius up to 429. In this work Theodoret used Eusebius, Rufinus, Socrates, Sozomenus, Philostorgius, as well as documents long since lost. As an ecclesiastical historian, however, he is inferior to his predecessors. "Historia religiosa" (ib., 1283-1522) contains the biographies of thirty celebrated ascetics or hermits; the treatise "De divina charitate" forms the close of the work.

E. Letters

Theodoret's lettters are of much value, both for his personal history and for that of his era. Cf. P. G., LXXXIII, 1173-1494, and Sakkelion, "Forty-eight Letters of Theodoret of Cyrus" (Athens, 1885).

F. Lost Writings

"Opus mysticum", in twelve books; "Responsiones ad quæstiones magorum persarum" (Epist. lxxxii and cxiii), five "Sermones in laudem S. Johannis Chrysostomi", of which the fragments are to be found in Photius, "Bibl.", 273; and other "Sermones". Von Harnack ("Texte und Untersuchungen", N. F. 6, IV, 1901) assigned the "Responsiones ad quæstiones" to Diodorus of Tarsus, but a manuscript of the tenth century, edited by Papadopulos Kerameus (St. Petersburg, 1895), ascribes the work to Theodoret (see A. Erhard in "Byzantinische Zeitschrift", VII, 1898, 609 sqq.).

DOCTRINE

In hermeneutics Theodoret followed the principles of the Antiochene school, but avoided the bias of Theodore of Mopsuestia. In his Christology also he followed the terminology of Diodorus and Theodore, and saw in the teaching of Cyril a revival of Apollinarianism. He would never acknowledge that the teaching of Nestorius presupposed the acceptance of two persons in Christ or, as Cyril believed, necessarily led to it.

Portions of this entry are taken from The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1907.
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