Theodoret Of Cyrhus; The Epistle Of Paul To Philemon -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 61:1 (Spring 1999)
Article: Theodoret Of Cyrhus; The Epistle Of Paul To Philemon
Author: Anonymous

Theodoret Of Cyrhus; The Epistle Of Paul To Philemon

Translated by
Misty S. Irons, James T. Dennison, Jr.,
Catherine T. Drown, and Lee Irons

Introduction by James T. Dennison, Jr.*

Theodoret (ca. 393–457/58 or 466), Bishop of Cyrhus/Cyrrhus/Cyrrhos in Syria (east of Antioch), is arguably the most remarkable Eastern father of the fifth century.1 Apologist, exegete, historian, polemicist—he has left his mark on the Christological controversies of the era as a staunch defender of the Antiochene school. Vis-á-vis Cyril of Alexandria, his erstwhile nemesis, Theodoret argued that the Word (Logos) “becoming” flesh does not imply the divinization of the Son’s human nature. Though he later acknowledged that he had misunderstood Cyril’s explanation of John 1:14, Theodoret vigorously censured Cyril’s Twelve Anathemas (which, he opined, tended to Apollinarianism). Theodoret, in turn, was branded a Nestorian by Cyril—more for his friendship towards Nestorius and his refusal to condemn him after the Third Ecumenical Council (Ephesus, 431). Theodoret’s reversal at Chalcedon (451), while not merely utilitarian, was certainly a vindication of his own orthodoxy, i.e., Chalcedon’s two natures in one person.

Christologically Antiochene, Theodoret was also exegetically Antiochene. The thrust of this influential school from the impact of Theodore of Mopsuestia (ca. 350–428) to John Chrysostom (ca. 345/349/35–407) to Theodoret has been reduced to “literal/historical” interpretation. Alleged to be antithetical to Alexandria’s “spiritual/allegorical” exegesis (i.e., Origen, Athanasius, Cyril), Antiochene interpretation has been the subject of recent

*James T. Dennison, Jr. is librarian at Westminster Theological Seminary in California.

more balanced research.2 Theodoret’s typological approach to the Old Testament is a reflection of his concern for the historical character of Scripture. As the remarks on Philemon demonstrate, his style is clear, succinct3 and warm—even devotional.4 His quaint observation that Philemon’s house was still extant has intrigued compilers of New Testament introductions for centuries.

The commentary exhibits the customary patristic style: introduction (in this case “Argument”), citation of the biblical passage, paraphrase of the biblical passage, explanation of the biblical passage.You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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