Theodoret (c. 393 – c. 457) was an influential author, theologian, and Christian
bishopof Cyrrhus, Syria (423-457). He played a pivotal role in many early Byzantine church controversies that led to various ecumenical acts and schisms.
According to Tillemont, he was born at
Antiochin 393, and died either at Cyrrhus ("about a two-days' journey east of Antioch" or eighty Roman miles), or at the monasterynear 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
hermitnamed Macedoniuson 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 Mopsuestiaand heard the orations of John Chrysostomis improbable.
At a young age he became a "
lector" among the clergyof Antioch, then resided a while in a monastery, was a clericat Cyrrhus, and in 423 became bishop over a dioceseabout 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 Armeniahe 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 Antiochto Nestoriusto 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 Tarsusand 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 bishopof 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
Eutychesof Apollinarism. The court excluded Theodoret from the Second Council of Ephesusin 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 excommunicatedand 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 IIin 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 orthodoxand 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 Controversyled to the condemnation of his writings against Cyril in the Second Council of Constantinople(553).
In literature Theodoret devoted himself first of all to
exegesis. The Scripture was his only authorityFact|date=August 2008, 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 Solomonand 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 Testamenteverything has typological significance and prophetically it embodies already the Christian doctrine. The divine illumination affords the right understanding after the apostolicsuggestion and the New Testamentfulfilment. 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 Antiochas a whole for the Christian Church.
Among apologetic writings was the "Ad quaestiones magorum" (429-436), now lost, in which he justified the
Old Testamentsacrifices as alternatives in opposition to the Egyptian idolatry (question 1, Lev., "PG", lxxx. 297 sqq.), and exposed the fables of the Magiwho 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 "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 philosophyand 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 Arianism and closes with the death of Theodore in 429, falls far behind those of
Socrates Scholasticusand 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 andSozomen;
Albert Guldenpenning's thorough research placed Rufinusfirst, 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.
Among dogmatic treatises Theodoret mentions ("Epist." cxiii, cxvi) having written against
Ariusand 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 Mercatorto 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 Godwas 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 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 "
* [http://www.ccel.org/fathers2/NPNF2-03/TOC.htm Theodoret's works]
* [http://www.1911encyclopedia.org/Theodoret "Encyclopædia Britannica" 11th edition]
* [http://www.documentacatholicaomnia.eu/30_20_0393-0466-_Theodoretus_Cyrrhi_Episcopus.html Greek Opera Omnia by Migne Patrologia Graeca, with analytical indexes and concordances made on the whole writings]
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Theodoret — • Bishop of Cyrus and theologian, born at Antioch in Syria about 393; died about 457 Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Theodoret Theodoret … Catholic encyclopedia
Theodoret — (* 393 in Antiochia, Syrien; † um 460 in Kyrrhos) war seit 423 Bischof von Kyrrhos und ein bedeutender Theologe und Kirchenhistoriker. Er verteidigte die Lehren des Nestorius und wurde dafür 449 auf dem Konzil von Ephesos (der so genannten… … Deutsch Wikipedia
Theodoret — Théodoret de Cyr Théodoret (386 ou 393 458), évêque de Cyr, dans la province euphratésienne, né à Antioche, selon les uns en 386, selon d autres en 393, et mort en 458, est l un des plus savants et des plus célèbres pères de l Église. Sommaire 1… … Wikipédia en Français
Théodoret — de Cyr Théodoret (386 ou 393 458), évêque de Cyr, dans la province euphratésienne, né à Antioche, selon les uns en 386, selon d autres en 393, et mort en 458, est l un des plus savants et des plus célèbres pères de l Église. Sommaire 1 Sa… … Wikipédia en Français
Theodoret — Theodorēt, griech. Kirchenvater, geb. um 390 zu Antiochia, gest. 457 als Bischof von Kyros am Euphrat, Hauptvertreter der sog. Antiochenischen Schule, bes. verdient als Exeget und Fortsetzer von Eusebius Kirchengeschichte. – Vgl. Bertram (lat.,… … Kleines Konversations-Lexikon
Theodoret — Theodoret, einer der gelehrtesten Kirchenväter, geb. um 390 zu Antiochien in Syrien, von Mönchen u. von Theodor von Mopsuestia wie von Johannes Chrysostomus erzogen, gab sein großes Vermögen den Armen und widmete sich dem Mönchsstande, wurde um… … Herders Conversations-Lexikon
Theodoret — (c. 393–c. 466) Theologian and Bishop. Theodoret was born in Antioch. He was consecrated Bishop of Cyrrhus in 423 where he was widely respected. A friend of Nestorius, he became involved in the controversy with cyril of alexandria,… … Who’s Who in Christianity
THEODORET — Church historian, born at Antioch; as bishop of the Syrian city, Cyrus, gave himself to the conversion of the Marcionites; a leader of the Antioch school of theology, he took an active part in the Nestorian and Eutychian controversies, and was … The Nuttall Encyclopaedia
Theodoret von Kyrrhos — Theodoret (* 393 in Antiochia, Syrien; † um 460 in Kyrrhos) war seit 423 Bischof von Kyrrhos und ein bedeutender Theologe und Kirchenhistoriker. Er verteidigte die Lehren des Nestorius und wurde dafür 449 auf dem Konzil von Ephesos (der so… … Deutsch Wikipedia
Théodoret de Cyr — (° vers 393 † vers 460) était un théologien et historiographe chrétien de langue grecque. Du point de vue théologique, il se rattache à l École d Antioche. Il est, avec Eusèbe de Césarée, Sozomène, Socrate le Scolastique et Évagre le Scolastique … Wikipédia en Français