Theodoret of Cyr

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Theodoret of Cyr (393-458), also called Theodoret of Cyrus, was an influential bishop of Cyrrhus (423–457) from the School of Antioch. Theodoret stands out prominently in the Christological controversies and he played a pivotal role in several 5th-century Byzantine Church controversies that led to various ecumenical acts and schisms. His writings were included in the Three Chapters Controversy and were condemned at the Second Council of Constantinople.

Theodoret shared in the petition to Nestorius to approve of the term theotokos (“mother of God”). Theodoret was determined to preserve the peace of the Church by seeking the adoption of a formula avoiding the unconditional condemnation of Nestorius as he could not assent to the condemnation of Nestorius. Theodoret then composed the Eranistes.  
Theodoret was excluded from the Second Council of Ephesus in 449 because of his antagonism to Cyril. Here, because of his Epistle 151 against Cyril and his defence of Diodorus and Theodore, he was condemned without a hearing and excommunicated and his writings were directed to be burned. He made an appeal to Pope Leo the Great, but not until after the death of Emperor 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 and to pronounce Nestorius anathema. Upon this he was declared orthodox and rehabilitated.  However, because some of his works were interpreted by many to be sympathetic to Nestorianism, his writings became involved in what was known as the Three-Chapter Controversy which eventually led to the condemnation of his writings against Cyril at the Second Council of Constantinople in 553 A.D. His works along with Theodore of Mopsuestia and Ibas of Edessa became known as the Three Chapters and resulted in Emperor Justinian I anathematizing:

  1. The person and writings of Theodore of Mopsuestia
  2. Certain writings of Theodoret of Cyrus
  3. The letter of Ibas of Edessa to Maris

Although Roman Catholic canonists admit that theological errors, and in the case of Theodore very serious ones, can be found in the writings, the mistakes of Theodoret and Ibas were chiefly but not wholly due to a misunderstanding of the language of Cyril of Alexandria.


  • Counter-Statements to Cyril’s 12 Anathemas against Nestorius
  • Ecclesiastical History
  • Dialogues (“Eranistes” or “Polymorphus”)
  • Demonstrations by Syllogism

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