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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. III:
The Ecclesiastical History, Dialogues, and Letters of Theodoret.: The Works of Theodoret.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

VIII.—The Works of Theodoret.

Of authorities for the works of Theodoret we may first cite himself. In four of his letters he mentions his own writings; viz.: in lxxxii, to Eusebius of Ancyra; in cxiii, to Leo of Rome; in cxvi, to the Presbyter Renatus; and in cxlv, to the monks at Constantinople. Of these the first was written in 445 and the last three in 449 and a reference to them will show the works mentioned. It is to be noticed 103 that no allusion is made to the refutation of the twelve chapters; to the defence of Diodorus of Tarsus and Theodorus of Mopsuestia, nor to the Dialogues, though all are held to have been written before the Latrocinium. It may have been, as Garnerius conjectures, that Theodoret did not judge it politic at this time to call attention to these particular works, but the assumption is not based on strong grounds, and Theodoret never appears as one unwilling to avow his convictions, which indeed, were perfectly well known.

Gennadius, presbyter of Marseilles, who died in 496, writes “Theodoretus, bishop of Cyrus, is said to have written many works: those, however, which have come to my knowledge are the following; of the Incarnation of the Lord, against the presbyter Eutyches, and Dioscorus, bishop of Alexandria, who deny that there was in Christ human flesh,—powerful writings wherein he proves, as well by argument as by scriptural evidence, that Christ had very flesh of the substance of His mother, which He took from the Virgin, and very Godhead, which by eternal generation He received, in being generated, from God the father begetting Him. There exist also his books of Ecclesiastical History, which he wrote in imitation of Eusebius of Cæsarea, beginning from the end of the books of Eusebius down to his own time, viz.: from the twentieth year of Constantine down to the reign of Leo I, in whose reign he died.” 104

Photius, in the ninth century, says that he has read the Ecclesiastical History; twenty-seven books against Heresies, among which he reckons the “Eranistes;” five books “Hæreticarum Fabularum;” five in praise of Chrysostom; with Commentaries on Daniel, the Octateuch, Kings, Chronicles, and the Twelve Minor Prophets.

Nicephorus Callistus Xanthopulus in the fourteenth century, Hist. Ecc. xiv. 54, writes: “Theodoretus, Syrian by birth, was a follower of the great Chrysostom, whom he set before him as a model of style. His own was flowing and copious, eloquent and easy, and not destitute of Attic grace.” He mentions expositions of difficult passages of the Old Testament; Commentaries on the Prophets and the Psalms; the “de Providentia;” a volume “On the Apostles;” the Confutation of heresies, called “the battle between truth and falsehood;” the refutation of Cyril’s “Twelve Chapters;” the Ecclesiastical History; the “Philotheus,” a History of the Lovers of God; three books on the divine doctrines, and five hundred (?) letters.

The following is the catalogue of extant works as given by Sirmondus and followed by Garnerius.

(i.) Exegetical. Questions on the Octateuch, the Books of Kings and Chronicles; the Interpretation of the Psalms, Canticles, the Four Greater, and the Twelve Lesser Prophets; an exposition of all the Epistles of St. Paul, including the Hebrews.

(ii.) Historical. The Ecclesiastical History, and the “Philotheus,” or Religious History.

(iii.) Controversial. The Eranistes, or Dialogues, and the Hæreticarum Fabularum Compendium.

(iv.) Theological. The Græcarum Affectionum Curatio, the Discourse on Charity, and the De Providentia.

(v.) Epistolary. The Letters.

(vi.) To these may be added the Refutation of the Twelve Chapters, and the following given in the Auctarium of Garnerius.

p. 15 (1.) Prolegomena and extracts from Commentaries on the Psalms.

(2.) Part of a Commentary on St. Luke.

(3.) Sermon on the Nativity of St. John the Baptist.

(4.) Portions of Sermons on St. Chrysostom.

(5.) Homily preached at Chalcedon in 431.

(6.) Fragments of the Pentalogium, extracted from Marius Mercator, 105 who attributed the work to the instigation of the devil.

Lost works. 106

(1.) The Pentalogium, of which fragments are preserved in the Auctarium.

(2.) Opus mysticurn, sive mysteriorum fidei expositiones, lib. xii.

(3.) Works “de theologia et Incarnatione,” identified by Garnier with three Dialogues against the Macedonians, and two against the Apollinarians, erroneously attributed to Athanasius.

(4.) Adversus Marcionem.

(5.) Adversus Judæos (? the Commentary on Daniel).

(6.) Responsiones ad quæsitus magorum Persarum.

(7.) Five sermons on St. Chrysostom.

(8.) Two allocutions spoken at Chalcedon against Cyril in 431.

(9.) Sermon preached at Antioch on the death of Cyril.

(10.) Works on Sabellius and the Trinity, of which portions are given by Baluz. Misc. iv.



Cf. Garnerius in Migne’s Theodoret V. 255.


The last record in the History appears to be of a.d. 440, cf. p. 159. Eusebius ends, and Theodoret begins, with the defeat of Licinius in 323. Constantine began to reign in 306.


A writer, supposed to be a layman, whose works were discovered in two mss. at the end of the seventeenth century. One is in the Vatican, the other was found in the Cathedral Library of Beauvais. Marius wrote fully on the Nestorian Controversy, and with acrimony against Theodoret.


As catalogued by Canon Venables from Cave (Hist. Lit. I. 405 ff.) Dict. Christ. Biog. iv. 918.

Next: Contents and Character of the Extant Works.

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