Reference: CPG 5308/8623
Incipit: Οἶδα μὲν τῆς σῆς ἀγάπης τὸ εἰλικρινὲς
Date: mid-to-late 429
Greek Text: ACO 1.1.1:108-109
Latin Text: ACO 1.3:43
Other Ancient Versions:  
English Translation: FCC: R. Read; FC 76:53-55

By the middle of 429, the names of Nestorius and Cyril were already coming to define the Christological controversy that had started in Constantinople. It was perhaps shortly after these two first exchanged letters (CPG 5302 and 5666) that someone fairly well known to Cyril wrote to him in support of Nestorius. In Cyril’s brief reply (CPG  5308) he emphasizes his commitment to the biblical principal of love and maintaining harmony among brothers in the faith. Yet in this case, the matter has now become a public offense and a danger to the faith of many within the church across the empire. Therefore, Cyril cannot remain silent, and it is up to Nestorius to dispel rumors by making a clear denial of the teachings that were now being associated with him. It seems that the letter Cyril is responding to may have mentioned Nestorius’s power at the imperial court and warned of repercussions against Cyril from that quarter, for Cyril declares that he must confess the truth even if it means persecution or death.

The Greek text and Latin translation provided below are adapted from those in the ACO. The English translation was prepared for FCC by R. Read.

Κυρίλλου πρός τινα ζηλωτὴν περὶ Νεστορίου A letter from Cyril to a certain supporter of Nestorius. EPISTULA CYRILLI EPISCOPI ALEXANDRIAE SCRIPTA AD QUONDAM ZELOTEM
Οἶδα μὲν τῆς σῆς ἀγάπης τὸ εἰλικρινὲς καὶ οὐκ ἠγνόηκα τὴν σπουδήν. καὶ εἰ μὲν ἔγραφον πρός τινας τὸν ἐμὸν οὐκ εἰδότας τρόπον, πολλοῖς ἂν ἐχρησάμην λόγοις ἀναπείθων ὅτι σφόδρα εἰμί τις εἰρηνικὸς καὶ οὔτε δύσερις οὔτε φιλόμαχος, ἀλλ᾽ εὐχόμενος καὶ φιλεῖν ἅπαντας καὶ φιλεῖσθαι παρ᾽ ἁπάντων· ἐπειδὴ δὲ πρὸς εἰδότα γράφω, βραχυλογήσας ἐκεῖνο διδάσκω ὅτι εἰ πραγμάτων ἦν ἢ χρημάτων ἀφαίρεσιν ὑπομεῖναι καὶ παῦσαι λύπην ἀδελφοῦ, ἐποίησα ἂν ἡδέως ὑπὲρ τοῦ μὴ δοκεῖν τι τῆς ἀγάπης ἡγεῖσθαι προτιμότερον· ἐπειδὴ δὲ ὁ τῆς πίστεώς ἐστι λόγος καὶ ἐσκανδαλίσθησαν καὶ αἱ κατὰ πᾶσαν ὡς ἔπος εἰπεῖν τὴν Ῥωμαίων ἀρχὴν ἐκκλησίαι (οὐ γὰρ ἔστι τις τῶν ἐξ οἱασδηποτοῦν πόλεως ἢ χώρας ἐρχόμενος καὶ μὴ λέγων ὅτι τί ταῦτ᾽ ἐστὶ τὰ θρυλούμενα καὶ ποία καινὴ μάθησις ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις ἐπιφέρεται), πρὸς ταῦτα τί δράσομεν οἱ πεπιστευμένοι παρὰ θεοῦ τὸν τοῦ μυστηρίου λόγον; πρὸς οὓς ἐν ἡμέρᾳ κρίσεως δικάσονται οἱ μυσταγωγούμενοι πάντως. I am aware of the sincerity of your love and am not ignorant of your zeal. If I were writing to someone who did not know my character, I would have gone on at length trying to persuade them that I am very agreeable, not contentious or belligerent. I want to love and be loved by everyone. Because I am writing to one who knows me, however, I will make this brief and instruct you. If it were possible to endure the loss of things or possessions and [thereby] end a brother’s pain, I would have done so gladly, lest I seem to consider anything more valuable than love. But because it is a matter of the faith, and all the churches throughout the entire Roman world, so to speak, took offense (for there is no one, from whatever city or region he may come, who does not say, “What are these rumors?” and “What sort of new doctrine are people bringing into the churches?”), what shall we who have been entrusted by God with the word of mystery do about these things? On the day of judgment those whom we have initiated will assuredly testify against us. Nouimus tuae dilectionis sinceritatem et non ignoro studium. Et si quidem scriberem ad aliquos meum nescientes modum, multis uterer uerbis suadens quia nimis pacificus sum et neque contentiosus nec amator litigii, sed optans et amare cunctos et ab omnibus amari; quia uero scienti scribo, breuiter locutus illud edoceo quia si rerum immineret aut pecuniarum priuationem pati et fratris amouere tristitiam, feceram libenter, ne uideretur aliquid caritati praeponi; quia uero fidei ratio est et scandalizatae sunt etiam ecclesiae in uniuerso Romanorum, ut ita dixerim, principatu (non enim est aliquis ex quacumque ciuitate seu prouincia ueniens et non dicens quia haec diuulgata sunt et noua doctrina infertur ecclesiis), ad haec quid agamus quibus commisa est a deo ratio sacramenti? Cum quibus in die iudicii examinabuntur modis omnibus quos imbuimus.
Ἐροῦσι γὰρ οὕτως τηρῆσαι τὴν πίστιν, ὡς μεμυσταγώγηνται παρ᾽ ἡμῶν. καὶ εἰ μὲν ὀρθῶς τοῦτο πεπράχαμεν, ἀποληψόμεθα καὶ μισθόν, τευξόμεθα δὲ καὶ ἐπαίνων· εἰ δὲ ἑτέρως καὶ διεστραμμένως, ποῖαι φλόγες ἡμῖν ἀρκέσουσιν; ἀκουσόμεθα γὰρ ὅτι “Τὴν γῆν μου ἀπώλεσας καὶ τὸν λαόν μου ἀπέκτεινας” κατὰ τὸ γεγραμμένον. καὶ ἕκαστος μὲν τῶν ἐν τάξει λαικῶν τῆς ἑαυτοῦ ζωῆς ὑπεραπολογήσεται, ἡμεῖς δὲ οἱ ταῖς τῆς ἱερωσύνης λειτουργίαις πεφορτισμένοι οὐχ ὑπὲρ μόνων ἑαυτῶν, ἀλλ᾽ ὑπὲρ πάντων τῶν πιστευόντων εἰς Χριστὸν ἀπολογησόμεθα. They will say that they kept the faith just as we initiated them into it. If we have done so properly, we will receive a reward and obtain praise. But if improperly and perversely, what flames will be sufficient for us? We will hear, “You destroyed my land and killed my people” [Is. 14:20], according to scripture. The layman will answer for just his own life, but we who have been burdened with the ministry of the priesthood will answer not only for ourselves but for all who believe in Christ. Dicent enim sic se reseruasse fidem sicut inbuti sunt a nobis. Et si quidem recte hoc agimus, recipiemus quoque mercedem, impetrabimus autem et laudem; si autem aliter et peruerse, quae nobis flammae sufficient? Audibimus enim quia “Terram meam perdidisti et populum meum occidisti” secundum quod scriptum est. Et singuli quidem, qui in ordine laicorum sunt, pro sua uita satisfacient, nos autem, qui sacerdotii ministerio onerati sumus, non pro nobis solummodo, sed pro omnibus credentibus in Christum rationem reddemus.
Ἐμοὶ τοίνυν οὐδείς ἐστι λόγος οὐ λύπης, οὐχ ὕβρεως, οὐ λοιδορίας τῆς οὕτω πολλῆς ἧς πεποίηνται κατ᾽ ἐμοῦ τῶν ἀνυπολήπτων τινές, … Therefore I do not speak of grief or pride or the amount of abuse which certain disreputable men have leveled against me, injuring themselves also. Mihi igitur sermo nullus est nec tristitiae nec iniuriarum nec obloquii sic plurimi quem fecerunt aduersum me infames quidam , …
ἀλλ᾽ οἰχέσθω ταῦτα πάντα πρὸς λήθην, δικάσει δὲ καὶ τοῖς πεφλυαρηκόσι θεός. μόνον σῳζέσθω τὰ τῆς πίστεως, καὶ φίλος εἰμὶ καὶ ἀγαπητὸς καὶ οὐδενὶ παραχωρῶν πρὸς τὸ χρῆναι μειζόνως φιλεῖν τὸν θεοφιλέστατον ἐπίσκοπον Νεστόριον, ὅν, ὡς ἐπὶ τοῦ θεοῦ φημί, καὶ εὐδοκιμεῖν ἐν Χριστῷ βούλομαι καὶ τὸν ἐπὶ τοῖς παρελθοῦσιν ἀφανίσαι μῶμον καὶ δεῖξαι συκοφαντίαν καὶ οὐ πάντως ἀλήθειαν τὰ παρά τινων ἐπὶ τῇ πίστει θρυλούμενα. Let all these things be forgotten. God will also judge those who have played the fool. If Nestorius should merely preserve the faith, I would be friendly and affectionate. I would not concede to anyone in the duty to show more love to the God-loving bishop Nestorius. I want him to be of good repute in Christ (I say this before God) and to blot out the stain in issues that have been settled and to point out that the rumors spread by some regarding his faith are slander and not at all truthful. sed abscedant haec omnia in obliuionem, iudicabit autem in his qui oblocuti sunt, deus. Solum seruentur quae fidei sunt, et amicus et carus sum et nulli cedo ut oporteat maius amari quam deo amabilem episcopum Nestorium, quem, coram deo dico, et probabilem esse in Christo uolo et in his quae transacta sunt, aboleri maculam et risum et ostendere calumniam et non omnino ueritatem ea quae ab aliquibus in fide diuulgantur.
Εἰ δὲ προστετάγμεθα παρὰ Χριστοῦ καὶ τοὺς μισοῦντας ἀγαπᾶν, πῶς οὐ μᾶλλον ἀκόλουθον ἀδελφοῖς τε καὶ συνιερεῦσι τοῦτο ποιεῖν; ὅτι γὰρ εἰ παραλύοιτο παρά τινων ἡ πίστις, τὰς ἑαυτῶν ψυχὰς οὐ προώσομεν, … If we have been commanded by Christ to love even those who hate us, how much more ought we, consequently, to do so for both brothers and fellow priests? For we will not betray our own souls if some happen to forsake the faith. Nam si iussi sumus a Christo etiam odientes nos diligere, quanto magis consequens est fratribus et consacerdotibus hoc praebere? Quia enim si soluatur ab aliquibus fides, nostras animas non prodemus, …
κἂν εἰ προκέοιτο παθεῖν καὶ αὐτὸν τὸν θάνατον, οὔκ ἐστιν ἀμφίβολον. We will remain silent, beyond doubt, even if the prospect is suffering and death itself, since Christ gives strength. taciturnitate contenti, etsi propositum sit [pati] etiam ipsius mortis experimentum excipere, dubium non est, .
Εἰ γὰρ δεδίαμεν ὑπὲρ τῆς δόξης τοῦ θεοῦ τὴν ἀλήθειαν εἰπεῖν, ἵνα μὴ περιπέσωμεν ἀηδίαις, ποίῳ λοιπὸν προσώπῳ τὰ τῶν ἁγίων μαρτύρων ἐγκώμια ποιησόμεθα πρὸς τοὺς λαούς; οὓς ἐπαινοῦμεν ὅτιπερ τετηρήκασι τὸ εἰρημένον “ἕως θανάτου ἀγώνισαι ὑπὲρ τῆς ἀληθείας.” For if we are afraid to speak the truth on behalf of the glory of God lest we face hardship, with what pretense shall we before the people praise the holy martyrs, whom we commend because they adhered to what was said: “Contend for the truth to the point of death”?1 Si enim metuimus pro gloria dei dicere ueritatem, ne in molestias incurramus, qua de cetero facie sanctorum martyrum praeconia celebrabimus coram populis? Quos laudamus quia seruauerunt quod dictum est “Usque ad mortem certare pro ueritate.”
  1. Sirach 4:28 (Latin 4:33).

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