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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. III:
The Ecclesiastical History, Dialogues, and Letters of Theodoret.: To Domnus, Bishop of Antioch.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

CX. To Domnus, Bishop of Antioch. 1857

When I read your letter I remembered the very blessed Susannah, who when she saw the famous villains, and believed that the God of all was present, uttered that remarkable cry, “I am straitened on every side;” 1858 but nevertheless preferred to fall into the snares of slander rather than to despise the just God. And I, sir, have two alternatives as I have often said, to offend God and wound my conscience, or to fall by man’s unjust sentence. The most pious emperor, I think, knows nothing of this. For what hindered him from writing, and ordering the ordination to take place, if in truth it so pleased him? Why in the world do they utter threats without and cause alarm, and yet do not send letters openly ordering it? One of two things must be true; either the very pious emperor is not induced to write, or they are trying to make us break the law and afterwards be indicted by them for illegality. I have before me the example of the blessed Principius, 1859 for in that case, when they had given orders by writing, they punished him for obedience. Moreover the letters which I read on the very day of the letter-bearer’s arrival are of a contrary tenour. For one of the holy monks has written to some one that he has received letters both from the very illustrious guardsman and the very glorious ex-magister stating that the case of the very godly lord bishop Irenæus will stand more favourably, and in return for this good will they ask prayers on their behalf. I think therefore that a reply ought to be written to the clergy who have written from the imperial city to the effect that 1860 “in obedience to the sentence of the very godly bishops of Phœnicia, and knowing both the zeal and the magnanimity and love for the poor and all the other virtues of the very godly bishop Irenæus, and in addition to this the orthodoxy of his opinions, I have ordained him. I am not aware that he has ever objected to apply to the holy Virgin the title ‘Theotokos,’ or has ever held any other opinions contrary to the doctrines of the Gospel. As to the question of digamy, I have followed my predecessors; for Alexander of blessed and sacred memory, the ornament of this apostolic see, as well as the very blessed Acacius, bishop of Berœa, ordained Diogenes of blessed memory who was a ‘digamus;’ 1861 and similarly the blessed Praylius ordained Domninus of Cæsarea who was a ‘digamus.’ 1862 We have therefore followed precedent, and the example of men well known and illustrious both for learning and character. Proclus, bishop of Constantinople, of blessed memory well aware of this and many other instances, both himself accepted the ordination, and wrote in praise and admiration of it. So too did the leading godly bishops of the Pontic Diocese, 1863 and all the Palestinians.

“No doubt has been raised about the matter, and we hold it wrong to condemn a man illustrious for many and various noble actions.” In my opinion it is becoming to write in these terms. If your holiness holds any other view, let what seems good to you be done. I, as they suppose, have undergone one punishment, and am ready by God’s help to undergo yet another. Even a third and fourth, if they like, by the stay of God’s grace I will endure, praising the Lord. If your holiness thinks right, let us see what answer comes from Palestine, and, after considering more exactly what course is to be taken, let us so write to Constantinople.



This letter is placed by Garnerius in the end of 447 on account of its allusion to Proclus, who died in October 447, and to the deposition of Irenæus of Tyre, for which the formal edict was issued in Feb. 448, but which was perhaps rumoured earlier. But by some the death of Proclus is placed a year earlier.


Susannah 22


Of the blessed Principius nothing is known. cf. Tillemont, XV. 267.


“The phraseology of this letter has given rise to much misapprehension. The use of the first person has led some to suppose that Theodoret, who belonged to another province, was the consecrator of Irenæus, or that he took part in his consecration, or even with the Abbé Martin (le Pseudo-Synode d’Éphèse, pp. 84, 85) that it is erroneously ascribed to Theodoret, and was really written by Domnus. It is clear from the tenor of the epistle that it was written by Theodoret, and that the first person is employed by him as writing in Domnus’ name. (Tillemont xv. pp. 871, 872.)” Dict. Christ. Biog. iii. 281 n.

It is in consonance with this theory that Alexander of Antioch is described as bishop of this apostolic see, a phrase natural for Domnus to use, but not for Theodoret.


It is uncertain who this Diogenes was; he cannot have been Diogenes of Cyzicus, for he was alive and present at Chalcedon in 451.


No more is known of Domninus or Praylius. cf. p. 157. “It is clear from the Philosophumena of Hippolytus (ix, 12.) that by the beginning of the third century the rule of monogamy for the clergy was well established, since he complains that in the days of Callistus ‘digamist and trigamist bishops, priests, and deacons began to be admitted.’” Dict. Christ. Ant. i. 552.


The Pontic Diocese is one of the twelve civil divisions of the Constantinian empire.

Next: To Anatolius the Patrician.

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