Theodore of Mopsuestia

Theodore of Mopsuestia bishop, and leader in the so-called theological school of Antioch, was born at Antioch about the year 350. He studied philosophy and rhetoric, the latter in company with John Chrysostom at the school of the famous Libanius. Stimulated by Chrysostom to a fervor of Christian enthusiasm, he renounced his proposed secular career in order to devote himself to Christian studies and monastic asceticism; and though affection for a lady named Hermione interrupted his course, he was recalled to it by the zealous efforts of his friend, and, through the influence of his teacher, Diodorus of Tarsus, who introduced him to the study of sacred literature, was confirmed in it for life. Two of Chrysostom's letters to Theodore in relation to this subject are yet extant. He became a presbyter at Antioch and rapidly acquired reputation, but soon removed to Tarsus, and thence to Mopsuestia, in Cilicia Secunda, as bishop. In 394 he attended a council at Constantinople, and subsequently other synods. When Chrysostom was overtaken by his adverse fortunes, Theodore sought to aid his cause, but without success. Theodore himself enjoyed a notable reputation throughout the Church, especially in the Eastern branch. Even Cyril of Alexandria deemed him worthy of praise and esteem. He was accused, indeed, of favoring the heresy of Pelagius, but died in peace in 428 or 429, before the Christological quarrel began between the schools of Antioch and Alexandria, in which his character for orthodoxy was so seriously impaired. After his death, the Nestorians appealed to his writings in support of their opinions, and at the Fifth (Ecumenical Council Theodore and his writings were condemned. His memory was revered among the Nestorians, and his works were held in repute in the churches of Syria.

The theological importance of this father grows chiefly out of his relation to the Christological controversies of his time, and, in a lower degree, out of his exegetical labors. He was an uncommonly prolific writer, and expended much effort on the exposition of the Scriptures; but of his exegetical works only a commentary on the minor prophets in Greek has been preserved intact to the present time. Other expositions of minor books, e.g. the Pauline epistles, which had been published in Latin by Hilary of Poitiers, have lately been recognized as the property of Theodore. Fragments of still other exegetical labors by this father are scattered through the compilations of Wegner, Mai, and Fritzsche (see below). Theodore's method was that of sober, historical exposition, although his results are not always satisfactory; and to this he added independent criticism of the canon. He distinguished the books of the Bible into prophetical, historical, and didactic writings, the latter class including the books of Solomon, Job, etc., whose inspiration he denied.

In Christology Theodore was opposed to Augustinianism and thus naturally approximated to Pelagianism, though his position was intermediate. Adam was created mortal. The human will, in its earthly environment, would necessarily be drawn into sin. Adam's sin was riot transmitted, and Christ's work had for its object the enabling of a created and imperfect nature to realize the true end of its being rather than the restoration of a ruined nature. All intelligent beings were included in this purpose, and it would consequently appear that Theodore taught the impossibility of eternal punishment.

The works of this author which are still extant are, A Commentary on the Minor Prophets (Wegner [Berol. 1834]; Mai, Script. Vet. Nov. Coll. [Romans 1832], vol. vi), and Fragments, in Mai, Nov. Patr. Bibl. 1854, vol. 7. The Greek fragments are more completely given in Fritzsche, Theod. Mops. in N. Test. Comm. (Turici, 1847). Pitra, in Spicil. Solesm. (Par. 1854), vol. 1, has Latin versions of Theodore's commentaries on Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians. See also Mercator, Opp. ed. Baluz., on the councils growing out of the controversy of the Three Chapters. etc.

Literature. —Dupin, Nouv. Bibl. vol. 3; Cave, Script. Eccl. Hist. Lit. p. 217; Tillemont, Memoires, vol. 12; Fabricius, Bibl. Graeca, 9:153 sq. (ed. Harl. 10:346); Norisii Diss. de Synodo Quinta, in his Hist. Pelag. Pat. 1673, and per contra Garner in his Liberaltus; the Church histories; Fritzsche, De Theod. Mops. Vita et Script. (1836); Klener, Symbol. Lit. ad Theod. Mops. Pertin. (Gött. 1836). Also, with reference to exegetical questions, Sieffert, Theod. Mops. Vet. Test. sobrie Interpr. Vind. (Regiom. 1827.); Kuhn, Theod. Mop. u. Jun. Africanus als Exegeten (Freib. 1880); and the histories of interpretation. With reference to doctrines, the literature of the Pelagian controversy, and especially Dorner, Entwicklungsgesch. vol. 2. —Smith, Dict. of Biog. and Mythol. s.v.; and Herzog, Real-Encyklop. s.v.

Topical Outlines Nave's Bible Topics International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Online King James Bible King James Dictionary

Verse reference tagging and popups powered by VerseClick™.