Chapter 5. Theodoret’s Rhetoric, Style, and Argumentation: Some Literary Considerations

The Therapeutikê’s literary features are informed by a set of recognizable historical, religious, educational, and cultural concerns, which have yet to be integrated into a coherent account. [1] More specifically, a number of these features form an integral part of Theodoret’s apologetic program. He makes this explicit in the preface to the Therapeutikê, where he summarizes his central claims succinctly: [2]
Πολλάκις μοι τῶν τῆς Ἑλληνικῆς μυθολογίας ἐξηρτημένων ξυντετυχηκότες τινὲς τήν τε πίστιν ἐκωμῴδησαν τὴν ἡμετέραν, οὐδὲν ἄλλο λέγοντες ἡμᾶς τοῖς τὰ θεῖα παρ’ ἡμῶν παιδευομένοις ἢ τὸ πιστεύειν παρεγγυᾶν, καὶ τῆς τῶν ἀποστόλων κατηγόρουν ἀπαιδευσίας, βαρβάρους ἀποκαλοῦντες, τὸ γλαφυρὸν τῆς εὐεπείας οὐκ ἔχοντας· … Καὶ διεῖλον μὲν εἰς δυοκαίδεκα διαλέξεις τὴν πραγματείαν, τὸν ἀνειμένον δὲ χαρακτῆρα τοῖς λόγοις ἐντέθεικα· τῇ διδασκαλίᾳ γὰρ εἶναι τοῦτον ὑπείληφα πρόσφορον, ἄλλως τε καὶ ταῖς Πλάτωνος καὶ τῶν ἄλλων φιλοσόφων χρώμενον μαρτυρίαις ἔδει καὶ τοὺς λόγους μὴ παντάπασιν ἀπᾴδοντας ξυναρμόσαι, ἀλλ’ ἔχοντάς τινα πρὸς ἐκείνας ἐμφέρειαν.
Therapeutikê, prologue 1–3
I have often encountered those devotees of Greek mythology who are convinced of its truth, and who make fun of our faith under the pretext that the only option we give to those who are being instructed in divine things is to believe. They accuse the apostles of ignorance and regard them as barbarians because they lack the refinement of elegant diction … I have divided my work into twelve chapters and have given a flowing quality to my style because this method seems most suited to my didactic purposes, especially since, in utilizing arguments from Plato and the other philosophers, it would be appropriate if my style should not be at complete variance with theirs, but should bear some resemblance to it.
Apaideusia (lack of paideia) and barbarism, as well as lack of euepeia, become focal points of Theodoret’s defense of Christian paideia. [3] This leads him to make a point of both using elegant Greek [4] and referring to the literary form that he selected, dialexis, as will be explained below. Style, then, and literary form are not mere literary choices but ones closely tied to his apologetic project.

Imagery

Imagery plays an important role in Theodoret’s rhetoric and is integral to his argumentation. [5] There is a repeated emphasis on the medical imagery that is used from the outset of Dialexis I. On Faith, which sets the tone for the rest of the work. [6] Alongside this, Theodoret’s images are taken from many different realms. [7] Preference is given to similes over metaphors, and they range from two or three words to almost an entire page in length. Theodoret deploys the images that unfold before the reader with great skill, at times with an eye to their pedigree or to a detail that illustrates his point. [8] On the function of these images, Artzer writes:
In many cases the image carries the message as much as the prose text which forms the setting to support the image. Often it sheds more light on the subject than the longer verbal explanation. The images are embedded in the substance; they are not patterns embroidered on a plain base, not accessories pinned on, neither inlay nor overlay, not applique or veneer. [9]
Collectively, images give a more vivid rendering of a thought process, with the effect of bringing before the eyes of the reader the point that is being argued. [10] This goes hand in hand with Theodoret’s inventiveness with imagery, as when Greek gods—compared to bats—are put to flight [11] or when he recalls the entire life of Christ in one sentence by abstracting it to concrete objects that are grouped together and placed paratactically. [12]
To the above we should add a pair of features found particularly in Christian rhetoric: the tendency to build on oppositions (passible/impassible, divided/undivided, truth/falsity, part/whole, light/darkness, universality/particularity, simplicity/complexity) and the taste for paradox [13] (poor and powerless king, i.e. Jesus, etc.).

Literary form and style

Theodoret’s use of dialexis as a formal means of conveying his ideas deserves special attention. [14] The emphasis on his choice of literary form needs to be stressed in view of the fact that formal considerations have been little discussed in previous scholarship on the Therapeutikê. [15] However, form could account for a number of Theodoret’s choices, giving a new dimension to the nature of his project.
Dialexis as a literary form is akin to diatribe, lalia, and meletê. [16] It recalls the setting of a philosophical school or a classroom and was used by a number of ancient authors (e.g. Teles, Bion, Epictetus, Julian) in order to expound philosophical topics. The informal, conversational style of the lecture form renders it a flexible means of getting across a number of ideas, often by using popular [17] literary and philosophical commonplaces and set-pieces. Another aspect important for our discussion is that the dialexis aims to dispel erroneous beliefs and lead the interlocutor to a right belief, which usually entails converting the interlocutor to the speaker’s point of view. [18] The dialogical element is bound up with this (ultimately Socratic) form, [19] and this enables the speaker to engage in a lively and personal way the beliefs of the reader (or listener)—to censure, exhort, or praise according to his aim. [20] To this end, abundant use of imagery and quotations from poets and philosophers lends authority and vividly illustrates the claims and arguments that are set forth.
As a result, the dialexeis appear as a unique formal means by which to address pagan criticisms but also to instruct through the rehearsal of popular philosophical set-pieces. Didacticism could also be used to convey Theodoret’s practice of putting order into several knotty and contested issues, of clarifying and simplifying and reducing a mass of material into well articulated positions. But, more importantly, in each dialexis he makes sure to give a careful presentation of central Christian beliefs and to offer an account for the grounds of these beliefs, incorporating ample proofs from the Bible. [21]

Audience

Theodoret combines knowledgeable exposition with a lively engagement with readers (or listeners). We can get an idea of his intended audience by looking at the occasional comments and reactions of “readers” that he conjures up throughout the Therapeutikê. Allowance has to be made for the fact that the interlocutors are fictive; [22] nevertheless, it is important to give attention to assumptions that are made even in the form of a (fictive) audience, as they determine the kind of arguments that inform the Therapeutikê. We are allowed occasional glimpses beginning with the preface. Theodoret continues to cure the oiêsis of those who “have had a share of the expressions of the poets and the rhetoricians, and who have had a taste of the elegant diction of Plato, despise the sacred Scriptures under the pretext that these are totally devoid of the ornaments of style, and are reluctant to learn about [the truth of being] from men who are mere fishermen.” He adds further:
Μόνην δ’ ἄρα τῆς ἀληθείας τὴν μάθησιν ἀπεριέργως λαβεῖν οὐκ ἐθέλουσιν, ἀλλ’ ἀτιμίαν ὑπολαμβάνουσιν, εἰ βάρβαρος αὐτοὺς ταύτην τὴν γλῶτταν παιδεύοι· καὶ τοῦτον ἔχουσι τὸν τύφον ἄνδρες οὐδ’ εἰς ἄκρον τῆς Ἑλληνικῆς φιλοσοφίας ἐληλακότες, ἀλλ’ ὀλίγων τινῶν, τὸ δὴ λεγόμενον, ἄκροις χείλεσι γεγευμένοι καὶ σμικρὰ ἄττα ἔνθεν κἀκεῖθεν ἠρανισμένοι
Therapeutikê 1.11
But when it comes to the teaching of the truth they are unwilling to receive it in all simplicity, but are disturbed if they are educated by one who does not speak Greek well. And you will find this conceitedness not among those who have attained the summit of Greek philosophy, but among those who have only tasted it, so to speak, with the tips of their tongues, and got a smattering of a few things here and there [ἀλλ’ ὀλίγων τινῶν, τὸ δὴ λεγόμενον, ἄκροις χείλεσι γεγευμένοι καὶ σμικρὰ ἄττα ἔνθεν κἀκεῖθεν ἠρανισμένοι].
The polemical setting notwithstanding, these passages are important because they reflect (however obliquely) an audience attracted to rhetorical elegance (with a preference for Plato), who disdain the wisdom of fishermen. [23] Word choice is important here, as the term ἠρανισμένοι alludes to the habit of acquiring knowledge from handbooks and compendia, which—in combination with other comments—points to an audience of average education. [24]
Commenting on their admiration of elegant style, Theodoret apostrophizes his audience thus: “My friends, you long to hear well-embellished speeches and seek to be enchanted by them. And if, by chance, you do not get them, then you jeer and mock, and stuff up your ears, and refuse to listen to what is said.” [25] At issue is the eager—but wrongly expended—admiration of Greek language and rhetoric that is bound up in their cultural identity. [26] At times Theodoret approaches overstatement in his effort to temper the excessive admiration of his readers for Greek culture. For example, he writes:
Ῥωμαῖοι δὲ καὶ ποιητὰς ἔσχον καὶ ξυγγραφέας καὶ ῥήτορας· καί φασιν οἱ ταύτην γε κἀκείνην ἠσκημένοι τὴν γλῶτταν καὶ πυκνότερα τῶν Ἑλληνικῶν τὰ τούτων ἐνθυμήματα εἶναι καὶ ξυντομωτέρας τὰς γνώμας. Καὶ ταῦτα λέγω οὐ τὴν Ἑλλάδα σμικρύνων φωνήν, ἧς ἁμηγέπη μετέλαχον, οὐδὲ ἐναντία γε αὐτῆ ἐκτίνων τροφεῖα, ἀλλὰ τῶν ἐπὶ ταύτῃ μεγαλαυχουμένων ξυστέλλων τὴν γνάθον καὶ τὴν ὀφρὺν καταστέλλων καὶ διδάσκων μὴ κωμῳδεῖν γλῶτταν τῇ ἀληθείᾳ λαμπρυνομένην μηδέ γε βρενθύεσθαι ἐπὶ λόγοις κομμωτικῇ τέχνῃ πεποικιλμένοις, τῆς δὲ ἀληθείας γεγυμνωμένοις, ἀλλὰ θαυμάζειν τοὺς τῆς ἀληθείας ὑποφήτας, κομμοῦν μὲν δαιδάλλειν εὐεπείᾳ τοὺς λόγους οὐ διδαχθέντας, γυμνὸν δὲ δεικνύντας τῆς ἀληθείας τὸ κάλλος καὶ τῶν ἀλλοτρίων καὶ ἐπεισάκτων ἀνθέων ἥκιστα δεηθέντας.
Therapeutikê 5.75
The Romans, for their part, have had their poets, historians, and orators; those who are bilingual even say that the Romans are more profound than the Greeks in thought and more concise in expression. I do not say this to detract from the Greek language, in which I, in a manner of speaking, participate myself, or to be remiss in paying the price of my nurture for the culture I have got, but simply to close the mouths of those who brag about it, and to expose their superciliousness and teach them not to ridicule a tongue that is resplendent with truth or to bear themselves haughtily at discourses adorned with the art of embellishment but devoid of truth, but rather to marvel at those who expound the truth without any training in embellishing and prettifying their discourses with eloquence, but rather revealing the truth in all its naked grandeur without the least recourse to extraneous and imported flourishes.
Another salient feature that arises in the context of Theodoret’s engagement with his audience is the pervasive concern for the “countless threads of uninterrupted communal and personal polytheism, not lacking in nostalgia, but among those, from peasant to philosopher, who were anyway used to doing without the supporting hand of the state, not without conviction either.” [27] Paganism, deprived of its civic face and role continued to linger among the educated and uneducated, whether in the city or in the countryside.
The reactions that Theodoret evokes point to an audience devoted too eagerly to eloquence and its corollary, Greek paideia. [28] It is worth noting that literary education had always been integral to any definition of Greekness. In other words, to be Greek meant to have a Greek paideia (more so than ancestry or birth). Insofar as paideia was the preserve of pagans, it was shot through and through with pagan religious elements. As Christianity made headway, Christian authors began a process of absorption and appropriation of Greek paideia that involved—among other things—the filtering out of its religious elements. [29] As a result, long before Theodoret, Greek paideia and access to it had become deeply contested issues between pagans and Christians. However, two circumstances lent the issue of Greek paideia a renewed urgency: Julian delivered a proclamation that sought to exclude Christians from classical education [30] and, with the increasing bureaucratization [31] of the empire, literary education was becoming a highly sought-after pursuit. [32]
In the changed historical circumstances wherein Christianity has become the religion of the empire, Theodoret (along with Cyril, Isidore of Peluse, and others) is faced as much with the difficult task of winning the hearts and minds of the Greek literati as with edifying and supporting those Kulturchristen, “Christians [who] did more than share with zest in the classical tradition that they held in common with pagans of the same class and sensibilities” [33] [or those who had recently converted]. This shared admiration for the classical tradition required an explanation for how the glorious cultural and literary past fit into the Christian present and affected the use of the past, to which we will now turn.

The past

To the extent that paideia was interwoven with the great past and had become a revered tradition, Theodoret’s readers can be counted as representatives of “an age that preferred to live its imaginative life in the words and the world of a great but vanished past.” [34] This requires that Theodoret engage with the Greek past (literary and otherwise) on a number of levels in order to address a number of distinct (but interrelated) concerns. [35]
Christianity, lacking the ancient credentials of either paganism or Judaism, would have appeared keen on having a past. [36] Julian’s polemic serves as a painful reminder of the fact. [37] As a true pepaideumenos Theodoret appears as “the mediator between past and present.” [38] His command of Greek culture qualifies him to make judgments about the value of the past, to help make the transition from past to present (by using the particularly Christian rhetoric of the “new”), and ultimately to show how the past grew into the present.
He does this partly by using the dependency theme [39] and partly by imposing on human history a linearity in which paganism represents a previous stage (characterized—with few but important exceptions—by error) of humanity that is replaced irrevocably by the advent of Christianity. [40] Once the pattern of this logic has been applied, the advent and rise of Christianity flows as a natural, literally predictable (anticipated and foreshadowed in the prophecies), and irreversible outcome. In this respect the Therapeutikê addresses the same contemporary concerns that arise in questions 16, [41] 55, [42] 86, [43] and 136 [44] of Ps.-Justin’s Quaestiones et responsiones ad orthodoxos.
At the same time, Theodoret builds up a new vision that elides the very contemporary realities that were briefly alluded to elsewhere. In Therapeutik ê 6.87 he writes:
Καὶ μαρτυρεῖ τῷ λόγῳ τὰ πράγματα, γῆ καὶ θάλαττα τῆς προτέρας ἀγνοίας ἀπηλλαγμέναι, πεπαυμένος τῶν εἰδώλων ὁ πλάνος, τῆς ἀγνοίας ὁ ζόφος ἐληλαμένος, τοῦ τῆς γνώσεως φωτὸς αἱ ἀκτῖνες τὴν οἰκουμένην ἐμπλήσασαι, Ἕλληνες καὶ Ῥωμαῖοι καὶ βάρβαροι τὸν ἐσταυρωμένον θεολογοῦντες καὶ τοῦ σταυροῦ τὸ σημεῖον γεραίροντες καὶ ἀντὶ τῶν πολλῶν καὶ ψευδωνύμων θεῶν τῇ Τριάδι λατρεύοντες, τὰ τῶν δαιμόνων τεμένη φροῦδα γεγενημένα, οἱ βωμοὶ τῶν εἰδώλων ἐκ βάθρων ἀνεσπασμένοι, ἐκκλησίαι περιφανεῖς πανταχῇ δεδομημέναι, ἐν πόλεσιν, ἐν κώμαις, ἐν ἀγροῖς, ἐν ἐσχατιαῖς σηκοὶ μαρτύρων εἰς κάλλος ἐξειργασμένοι, ἀσκητῶν καταγωγαὶ τὰς τῶν ὀρέων κορυφὰς ἁγιάζουσαι καὶ τὰς ἀοικήτους ἐρήμους οἰκίζουσαι.
Therapeutikê 6.87
Facts bear out my words. Earth and sea are freed from their ancient ignorance; the error of idols is no longer to be seen; the darkness of ignorance has been dispersed, and the light of knowledge fills with its rays the whole inhabited world. Greeks, Romans, and barbarians recognize the divinity of the crucified and venerate the sign of the cross. The Trinity is worshipped in place of a multitude of false gods. The temples of the demons have been leveled to the ground. The altars of idols have been wrenched from their bases. Splendid churches have grown up on all sides; in towns, cities, in the countryside, and in the remotest areas beautiful monuments to the martyrs have been erected. The abodes of the ascetics sanctify the mountain tops and populate deserts which had previously been uninhabited.
As a result of this attitude, we are faced with a paradox: while Christianity is defended, it is Greek culture (which is allowed to possess good qualities) that is assimilated to the natural, new Christian reality through selective appropriation of certain aspects, becoming thus a cultural component of limited historical significance. [45]

Method

In the Therapeutikê Theodoret most often works through a theme in terms of its relevance to the inquiry launched in each dialexis. Given the cultural admiration for classical authors, the reason why Theodoret prefaces each step of his elenchus with appeals to authority becomes more clear. His method weaves in and out, [46] conferring a rich texture to his dialexeis. The doxographic units become denser depending on the subject matter (e.g. on matter and cosmos and on the nature man). The implied role of the physician lends Theodoret the authority to arrange, discuss, refute, or endorse the different doxai. By selecting and combining Greek authorities he creates an exetastic buildup, which is intensified by the accumulation of opinions leading to each climactic declaration.
The transitions from one theme to another can be abrupt, at times even based on unstated conceptual links. Claims from external texts (suggestively juxtaposed) are sometimes set forth in order to win an argument rather than to explore all of their implications. [47] Many scholars have studied the use of Theodoret’s quotations from Greek authors and have commented on the sheer number of them. [48] G. Bardy, quoting Schulte, refers to 500 [49] authors mentioned in the text (philosophers, poets, historians, etc.), from whom about 350 quotations are used as testimonies. [50]
Theodoret does not always acknowledge his sources. [51] It is a well-established fact that most of his materials are derived from known works by Clement and Eusebius, [52] which has led scholars to deplore his lack of independence. Yet we have seen how exhaustively Theodoret seeks to document his claims by adducing often-famous philosophical set-pieces that enjoyed wide currency at the time across a number of authors, pagan and Christian alike. This makes the Therapeutikê one of the most important pieces of Christian doxography.
Despite Theodoret’s reliance on such authors as Clement and Eusebius, it is the presentation of these materials—their embedding in the dialexeis and the recontextualization that allows them to serve different argumentative purposes—that shows Theodoret’s independence. Closer attention to this presentation will help us form a more nuanced view.

Argumentation

Simulated dialogue with fictive interlocutors adds to the liveliness of the dialexeis of the Therapeutik ê, but it also enables Theodoret to address a number of criticisms. [53] This is consonant with the stated aim of elenchus, [54] the examination of an opponent’s beliefs and the refutation of accusations. Theodoret’s therapeutic approach, discussed in the first chapter of this book, involves injecting doxai into the minds (or rather the souls) of his readers. [55] In this respect it is more akin to what has been called enthymematic argumentation [56] (derived from the false etymology ἐν θυμῷ).
Enthymême is a term that denotes a condensed form of syllogism whose premises have been suppressed because they are assumed by the audience to whom the arguments are addressed. The term has a long and complex history, but what is important for our analysis is that enthymême in later antiquity had come to mean ‘a loosely defined argument’ that could include such forms as quotation from philosophers, poets, etc. [57] Another thing to bear in mind is that an enthymême always presupposes the audience’s knowledge of the premises during the process of inference making. So when Theodoret—in his defense of the cult of the martyrs (Dialexis VIII)—juxtaposes a number of quotations primarily from Plato, but also from Empedocles and Pindar, to prove that the souls of the pious go to heaven, he relies on the presupposed premises of the audience to draw the conclusion that just as the souls of the doctors (etc.) go to heaven so do the souls of the Christian martyrs.
Theodoret constructs an argument either by making a claim and then adducing as many doxai (understood as enthymêmes) from Greek authors as possible or by using testimonia such as martyriai and apodeikseis as asserted premises. This can give the impression that he aims not only to adduce the most prominent authors but also to compile a large number of quotations. [58] The quotations are placed with an eye to their thematic appropriateness, a process of decontextualizion and recontextualization whereby the logic of each quotation is aligned with Theodoret’s claim. In this way, the quotation is made to sustain a different goal than that of its initial context, which creates the momentum for shared inferencing. The prior knowledge of the audience becomes infused with biblical understanding and is then reconfigured in a new direction. [59]

Literary persona: a Christian pepaideumenos?

Of crucial importance for the intended audience of the Therapeutikê—and the ultimate success of his enterprise—is the persona that Theodoret adopts in his dialexeis. The role of the physician, even when implied, is used throughout in order to make the speaker more ethically viable. [60]
At the same time, Theodoret is compelled to demonstrate his command of Greek rhetoric and knowledge of Greek culture. He accomplishes this through his style, including skillful use of imagery, and his displays of immense erudition. [61] Theodoret’s aim is to appear at home with Greek culture—a true pepaideumenos [62] —and therefore to arrive at a position from which he is entitled to pronounce with authority on the inquiries and assessments that he sets out to undertake. [63] His adoption of an “insider’s” point of view [64] is particularly important for refuting pagan criticisms, which he does using Greek paideia (which “[makes] him immediately part of tradition”) in the form of arguments drawn from Greek philosophy and the Bible alike. It is in this vein that he refers in the same context to his education and love of Greek (Therapeutikê 5.75). [65]
If Theodoret comes across as educated or didactically inclined, he is nonetheless capable of harsh and abrasive tones. [66] However, this is never allowed to dominate his work, but is tempered with the rich intermixing of exhortation, [67] qualified praise, [68] and irony. [69]
Alongside the apologetic project, Theodoret’s engagement with Hellenism is an important indication of the state of Greek education in fifth-century Antioch. Being born to Christian parents and raised among Syrian ascetics, Theodoret’s paideia is a testimony to the educational possibilities available to a Christian of the fifth century, just as it is indicative of the ability of Christian elites to absorb classical culture. [70]

Manual, aide-mémoire?

But is there a different possibility envisaged for the Therapeutikê by its author? We have seen the thoroughness with which Theodoret compiled the Therapeutikê, the sheer number of quotations making it difficult for even the most well versed readers to absorb all of his arguments. Furthermore, the thematic orientation and cross-referencing indicate that Theodoret wanted to make the Therapeutikê easy to consult. Perhaps most tellingly, the preface condenses a number of distinct but complementary aims, outlines the entire work, and guides the reader. This reveals a striking consciousness of both the literary aim of the work and its compilatory nature. [71]
In the preface Theodoret writes, “I, for my part, have provided them with all the counter-arguments necessary to dissipate their charges,” and a little further, “I have divided my work into twelve chapters (dialexeis) and have given a flowing quality to my style because this method seems most suited to my didactic purposes …” There is an insistence on the didactic aspect when Theodoret says of the third dialexis, “The third teaches …” [72]
Having thus indexed the Therapeutikê, carefully going through the thematic contents and the aims of each dialexis, Theodoret states the title of the work. He then indicates the rationale for the title along with the reason for compiling the work, from which, by means of a captatio benevolentiae, the following comment follows: “As for those who happen upon the labors of others, I pray that if they find everything that is written acceptable they should glorify the Author of these things and requite with prayers the human authors [sc. Theodoret]. But if there are any shortcomings let them not condemn everything forthright but rather profit from whatever is well composed.”
A precious glimpse into the logic of Theodoret’s citing habits is afforded in the following passage:
Ἐγὼ δὲ πάσας ξυναγαγεῖν τὰς προρρήσεις πάρεργον ὑπείληφα· πολλῶν γὰρ ἂν ἐδεήθην βιβλίων, καὶ πάσας γράφων καὶ περὶ ἑκάστης δέ γε τὰ πρόσφορα λέγων. Ἀρκεῖ δὲ ὑμῖν, ἂν ἐθέλητε, καὶ τῶν ἄλλων, ἐξ ὧν ἀκηκόατε, τὴν ἀλήθειαν διαγνῶναι.
Therapeutikê 10.101
But I thought that it would be superfluous to assemble all their predictions because I would need many books to write them all and to say what is appropriate about each. It will be enough for you, if you please, to deduce the truth of the others from the ones which we have examined.
At other times, however, he refers the reader to other doxographies for more extensive documentation that corroborates his point:
Εἰ δέ τις οἴεται κἀμὲ συκοφαντῆσαι τοὺς ἄνδρας, τὴν παμπόλλην αὐτῶν διαφωνίαν ἐλέγξαντα, ἀναγνώτω μὲν Ἀετίου τὴν Περὶ ἀρεσκόντων ξυναγωγήν, ἀναγνώτω δὲ Πλουτάρχου τὴν Περὶ τῶν τοῖς φιλοσόφοις δοξάντων ἐπιτομήν· καὶ Πορφυρίου δὲ ἡ Φιλόσοφος ἱστορία πολλὰ τοιαῦτα διδάσκει.
Therapeutikê 4.31–32
And if one supposes that I calumniate these fine gentlemen when I denounce the extreme contradictions in their teachings, let him read the collection of the Placita of Aëtius, or the work of Plutarch, On the Opinions of the Philosophers. The History of Philosophy by Porphyry also provides many similar examples.
The anthologizing thrust is confirmed by the statement with which Theodoret ends his first dialexis, which becomes a reflection on the entire enterprise:
Καὶ μὲν δὴ καὶ ταῖς μελίτταις οὗτος ὁ νόμος ἐμπέφυκεν· οὐ γλυκέσι γὰρ μόνοις, ἀλλὰ καὶ πικροῖς ἄνθεσιν ἐφιζάνουσαι, τὴν μὲν γλυκεῖαν ἀνιμῶνται ποιότητα, τὴν δὲ πικρὰν ἀποστρέφονται καὶ ἐκ διαφόρων ποιοτήτων, πικρῶν τε καὶ στρυφνῶν καὶ αὐστηρῶν καὶ δριμέων, τὸ γλυκύτατον μέλι τοῖς ἀνθρώποις κατασκευάζουσιν· ταύτας δὴ καὶ ἡμεῖς μιμούμενοι, ἐκ τῶν πικρῶν ὑμῶν λειμώνων τὸ γλυκὺ τῆς ὠφελείας ὑμῖν κατασκευάζομεν μέλι. Καὶ ὥσπερ οἱ τὰ σώματα θεραπεύοντες ἐκ τῶν ἰοβόλων θηρίων ὀνησιφόρα κατασκευάζουσι φάρμακα, καὶ τῶν ἐχιδνῶν τὰ μὲν ἀποβάλλοντες, τὰ δὲ ἕψοντες, πολλὰς διὰ τούτων ἐξελαύνουσι νόσους, οὕτως καὶ ἡμεῖς, τὰ τῶν ὑμετέρων ποιητῶν καὶ ξυγγραφέων καὶ φιλοσόφων πονήματα μεταχειρισάμενοι, τὰ μὲν ὡς δηλητήρια καταλείπομεν, τὰ δὲ τῇ τῆς διδασκαλίας ἐπιστήμῃ διασκευάσαντες, ἀλεξιφάρμακον ὑμῖν θεραπείαν προσφέρομεν· καὶ οὓς ἀντιπάλους ἡμῶν ὑπειλήφατε, τούτους τῶν ἡμετέρων λόγων ἀποφαίνομεν ξυνηγόρους καὶ τῆς πίστεως δείκνυμεν διδασκάλους.
Therapeutikê 1.126–127
Clearly, that too is a law of nature for the bees. For they light on bitter flowers as well as on sweet ones. Then they extract the sweet substance and leave behind what is bitter and from different qualities—bitter and sour, piquant and harsh—and they prepare for humanity the sweetest honey. And we, imitating the bees, prepare from your bitter meadows the honey whose sweetness will benefit you. And just as physicians prepare effective remedies from poisonous beasts, even from vipers; they first throw away some parts and boil the rest, and with this they expel many maladies, we also, who have taken in hand the works of your poets, your historians, your philosophers, we first lay on one side what is injurious and manipulate the rest for the knowledge of teaching. We apply to you this remedy that acts as an antidote. And even those whom you regard as our enemies we show you that they champion our teachings and we make you see that even they teach you the faith. [73]
In a similar vein he concludes the Therapeutikê:
Ταύτης καὶ ὑμᾶς τῆς ἀκτῖνος μεταλαχεῖν ἀξιῶ. Τοῦδε γὰρ χάριν καὶ τὸν πόνον ἀνεδεξάμην, καὶ οἷόν τινας βοτάνας πανταχόθεν ξυλλέξας, τὸ ἀλεξίκακον ὑμῖν κατεσκεύασα φάρμακον.
Therapeutikê 12.98
It is my hope that you get a share of those rays. It was for this reason that I undertook this labor, and that I have prepared this cure for you from herbs which I have collected from far and wide.
On a broader level, the Therapeutikê should be viewed in the wider context of Theodoret’s time, which was characterized by a tendency to classify, abridge, condense, and summarize different types of knowledge. This is reflected in the proliferation of handbooks and anthologies (e.g. Stobaeus) [74] that sought to make knowledge more accessible. [75] In fact, the ninth-century patriarch Photius, when discussing Stobaeus’ anthology, neatly outlines the ways in which a reader can profit from such manuals:
Χρήσιμον δὲ τὸ βιβλίον τοῖς μὲν ἀνεγνωκόσιν αὐτὰ τὰ συντάγματα τῶν ἀνδρῶν πρὸς ἀνάμνησιν, τοῖς δ’ οὐκ εἰληφόσι πεῖραν ἐκείνων, ὅτι διὰ συνεχοῦς αὐτῶν μελέτης οὐκ ἐν πολλῷ χρόνῳ πολλῶν καὶ καλῶν καὶ ποικίλων νοημάτων, εἰ καὶ κεφαλαιώδη, μνήμην καρπώσονται. Κοινὸν δ’ ἀμφοτέροις ἡ τῶν ζητουμένων, ὡς εἰκός, ἀταλαίπωρος καὶ σύντομος εὕρεσις, ἐπειδάν τις ἀπὸ τῶν κεφαλαίων εἰς αὐτὰ τὰ πλάτη ἀναδραμεῖν ἐθελήσειε. Καὶ πρὸς ἄλλα δὲ τοῖς ῥητορεύειν καὶ γράφειν σπουδάζουσιν οὐκ ἄχρηστον τὸ βιβλίον.
Photius Bibliotheca 2.159, ed. Henry
This book is useful to those who have read the actual compositions of the writers for recalling them to mind. It will be useful to those who have no acquaintance with the complete works because, by dint of continuous study of the selections, they will quickly acquire a summary [κεφαλαιώδη] acquaintance with many beautiful and varied concepts. Common to both will be the advantage of being able quickly to find what they seek, should they wish to proceed to the relevant section of the entire work. Moreover, the book is not without utility for those who endeavor to speak and write correctly. [76]
As Inglebert has recently shown, such projects held a special interest for Christians, who were faced with the difficult task of coming to terms with an overwhelming body of Greek learning. [77]
If the Therapeutikê was indeed intended as a manual, as the sheer bulk of its raw materials would seem to suggest, it is not one that presents the reader with merely the disparate components needed for an apology. Instead, Theodoret has also provided an authoritative assessment that guides the reader, judiciously summarizing all of the available information necessary for arriving at the absolute truth.

Conclusion

In this chapter I have attempted to show how literary considerations are closely allied with Theodoret’s apologetics. The emphasis on instruction, the choice of literary form, the compilatory nature of the Therapeutikê, all situate the text at the heart of fifth-century literary activity, amidst all of the challenges the period posed for a Christian pepaideumenos. At the same time, this emphasis is a testimony to the persistence of Greek culture crystallized in language, which becomes a means for the display of cultural fluency par excellence. As a result, language and style become intimately connected with cultural identity. It is for this reason that Theodoret makes a point of using elegant style: it establishes his literary authority and allows him to consciously manipulate the cultural identity that inheres in language.

Footnotes

[ back ] 1. For a circumspect discussion, see Prostmeier 2005:1–29.
[ back ] 2. The preface structures and unifies the Therapeutikê, rendering explicit the main aims of the work. For its affinities with the rest of the prefaces in late antique literary culture, see Schissel 1930:18–22. On the importance of the preface in Syriac literary culture, see Riad 1988. We will return to the importance of the preface for Theodoret’s project later.
[ back ] 3. For a discussion of these accusations, see Speyer and Opelt 2001:811–895 and Ackermann 1997:145–157, with an emphasis on the criticisms of the literary style of the Old Testament. Ackermann draws attention to the fact that the poor literary quality of the Bible was also a problem for Christians with a taste for elegant Greek. See Norden 1898:516–531 for a discussion of early Christian views on style with attention to the New Testament and the pagan criticisms of its style.
[ back ] 4. On Theodoret’s elegant Greek, see the introduction by Canivet 2000–2001(I):60–67. See also Spadavecchia 1976, Festa 1928:584–588, and Hult 1990 for studies of Theodoret’s syntax. Theodoret’s turns of phrase and flourishes of sententiousness earned him a place in the textbooks used by the Greeks under Ottoman rule; see Stoupakês 2000:561–562.
[ back ] 5. Artzer 1970:148. While Artzer acknowledges the importance of imagery when it comes to account for its abundant use, he resorts to such puzzling and intriguing statements as: “As a true oriental he speaks in figures not in grammatical statements alone, with the imagination rather than pure reason, with art rather than prosaic pronouncements” (148, emphasis mine).
[ back ] 6. See Chapter Three.
[ back ] 7. E.g. war, athletic games, family and the home, animals, the human body, agriculture, music, painting, sculpture, theater, birds, architecture, clothing, commerce, crafts, education, fire, water, religious mysteries, the sea, ships, tools, travel.
[ back ] 8. See e.g. the following passage: “τῶν τὸν θαλάττιον βίον ἀσπαζομένων οἱ μὲν τὰς φορτίδας ἐρέττουσιν, οἱ ταύτας τοῖς οἴαξι διευθύνουσιν, καὶ μέντοι καὶ πᾶς ἁλιευτὴς ἐφ᾿ ἁλιάδος ὀχούμενος χαλᾷ δίκτυον καὶ θηρεύει τοὺς τῶν ὑδάτων τροφίμους, καὶ ἄλλος ἐπὶ πέτρας ἱδρυμένος καθίησιν ὁρμιὰν καὶ δελεάζων περιπείρει τῷ ἀγκίστρῳ τῶν ἰχθύων τινάς· εἰσὶ δὲ οἳ καὶ ναυαγίᾳ χρῶνται καὶ ὑποβρύχιοι γίνονται, ἢ ἐξ ἀβουλίας παρὰ καιρὸν ἀναχθέντες ἢ διὰ θράσος τῆς ζάλης κατατολμήσαντες. Ταῦτα δὲ οὐ τηνάλλως ὑθλῶν διεξῆλθον, ἀλλὰ τῶν τῇ κτίσει προσπταιόντων καὶ τῶν ἐν ταύτῃ πρυτανευομένων ἀνέδην κατηγορούντων ἐπιδεῖξαι τὴν ἄνοιαν διά τινος εἰκόνος πειρώμενος” (“Of those engaged in seafaring activities, some act as rowers of merchantmen, others direct the ships with the helm; and indeed every fisherman borne out on the briny water lowers his net and fishes for the products of the sea, while another sits propped up on a rock, casts his line, and tries to lure the fish with bait. But there are those who suffer shipwreck and become submerged, either because in their folly they put out to sea when it is still not the season to sail, or because they rashly decide to confront the surge of the billows. I make these observations, not just to indulge in idle cliches, but in an attempt to utilize an image to show up the folly of those who put themselves in opposition to creation and unrestrainedly criticize the providence governing it,” Therapeutikê 6.1–2 [emphasis mine]).
[ back ] 9. Artzer 1970:148.
[ back ] 10. Newman 2002:1–23.
[ back ] 11. Therapeutikê 12.97: “ Ἅπαντα γὰρ αὐτῶν τὸν ὁρμαθόν, οἷόν τινας νυκτερίδας, τῷ σκότῳ παρέπεμψεν ἀνατεῖλαν τὸ φῶς” (“… because the Light has risen and banished the lot of them like bats to darkness”).
[ back ] 12. Therapeutikê 8.8: “ἀλλὰ σπήλαιον καὶ φάτνην καὶ παρθένον χερνῆτιν καὶ βρέφος εὐτελέσι σπαργάνοις ἐνειλημένον καὶ ἐπὶ κενῆς ἐρριμμένον τῆς φάτνης καὶ χωρίον ἄδοξον καὶ σμικρόν, ἐν ᾧ ταῦτα ἐγένετο, καὶ αὖ πάλιν πενίαν αὐξηθέντος τοῦ βρέφους καὶ πεῖναν καὶ δίψος καὶ τὸν ἐξ ὁδοιπορίας πόνον καὶ μετὰ ταῦτα τὸ παρὰ πάντων ᾀδόμενον πάθος, τὰς ἐπὶ κόρρης πληγάς, τὰς κατὰ νώτου μάστιγας, τὸ ἰκρίον, τοὺς ἥλους, τὴν χολήν, τὸ ὄξος, τὸν θάνατον” (“No, all they had were a cave, a manger, a poor virgin, an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a bare manger, and a small, undistinguished place in which these events took place. And it is the poverty of this Infant which increases, His hunger, thirst, fatigue from journeys, and His passion, which is celebrated by all; the blows on His forehead, the lashes on His back, the nails, the vinegar, the gall, and finally His death”).
[ back ] 13. Cameron 1991:162 suggests that “the early emphasis on mystery and paradox in Christian discourse resisted the impetus to assimilation with public rhetoric.”
[ back ] 14. For detailed discussions of the literary form, see the introduction to Trapp 1997a, as well as Trapp 1997b:1945–1976, which is by far the most accomplished case study of the application of this literary form. See also Fuentes González 1998, which, while it is a thorough study of the literary fragments of Teles, features, esp. in pages 44–78, an excellent and nuanced discussion of the affinities between dialexis and diatribe. See also Wehner 2000:13–18, which contains a discussion of related literary features. For a condensed discussion of diatribe and dialexis with forays into Christian material, see Stowers 1988:71–83 and 1994:627–633.
[ back ] 15. Canivet 2000–2001(I):65 writes: “Théodoret possède la technique de l’écrivain, mais son œuvre apologétique n’entre dans aucune genre littéraire.” In light of recent work on dialexis (Trapp 1997a and b, Fuentes Gonzalez 1998, Wehner 2000), I think this view is no longer tenable and is in need of revision.
[ back ] 16. See the introduction by Trapp 1997a:xl.
[ back ] 17. I use the word advisedly and without assuming a rigid dichotomy between “high” and “low” culture. Instead, it is to be understood in the same vein as Fuentes Gonzalez’s discussion of “popular philosophie”. In his careful discussion of the notion, Fuentes Gonzalez 1998:56 criticizes nineteenth-century German scholarship—which coins the term—for the assumption that it “peut porter à croire qu’il s’agit d’une philosophie créée par le peuple ou simplement suivie par le peuple, ce qui serait faux.” He continues: “… il peut être utile de parler de ‘philosophie populaire’ pour désigner les motifs qui représentent les exigences les plus répandues d’une époque fortement caractérisée par un esprit d’universalisation comme c’était le cas de l’époque hellénistico-romaine” [emphasis mine].
[ back ] 18. So Fuentes González 1958:57. Fuentes González makes the interesting point (while commenting on the eristic elements of philosophical dialexeis): “Mais il faut peut-être nuancer l’idée que la dialexis philosophique suit une méthode éristique, si bien que l’on parle souvent de l’interlocuteur fictif comme d’un ‘adversaire’. En effet, le but du moraliste n’est pas la polémique pure et simple mais la conversion de l’individu, la transformation de son caractère dans le sens de la vertu et de la verité. Une telle conception rattache bien un moraliste comme Télès à la tradition socratique. Si l’on veut, on peut dire qu’il se sert d’un ‘adversaire’ théorique ou méthodique” [emphasis mine].
[ back ] 19. Trapp 1997a:xl draws attention to the derivation of dialexis from the verb dialegesthai and notes its ultimately Socratic origin. Kerferd 1981:59 points to a later meaning of “διαλέγεσθαι” in its sophistic context as ‘to discuss by the method of question and answer’.
[ back ] 20. For the dialogical element, see Tsekourakis 1980:61–78. The most detailed study of the dialogic element is Wehner 2000. For the coexistence of ἐλεγκτικός, προτρεπτικός, διδασκαλικὸς χαρακτήρ in dialexis, see Schmidt 1962:14–28; Long 2002:52–64.
[ back ] 21. On Theodoret’s didacticism in his Questions on the Octateuch and his correspondence, see Petruccione (forthcoming).
[ back ] 22. Fuentes-Gonzalez’s “adversaire methodique” comes to mind. However, to treat this as a purely literary device and deny any relationship with—an otherwise admittedly difficult to ascertain—reality would be to deny too much.
[ back ] 23. The motif was very widespread across Greek and Latin authors. For an excellent survey, see Hagendahl 1959:184–193; Cameron 1991:185 touches briefly upon it. Christians tried to make a positive virtue of the fact that the Bible was not written in lofty Greek by praising the simplicity of the message.
[ back ] 24. On the culture of excerpting and sharing texts, see Konstan 2011:9–22 and Johnson 2010:153–156. For an interesting case study of fifth-century encyclopedism, see Piccione 2002:169–197.
[ back ] 25. Therapeutikê 9.1–2: “Ὑμεῖς μέν, ὦ ἄνδρες, κεκαλλιεπημένων ποθεῖτε λόγων ἀκούειν καὶ τούτοις κατακηλεῖσθαι ζητεῖτε· οὗ δ’ ἂν τούτους μὴ εὕροιτε, γελᾶτε καὶ κωμῳδεῖτε καὶ τὰς ἀκοὰς βύετε καὶ τῶν λεγομένων ἐπαΐειν οὐ βούλεσθε” (“My friends, you long to hear well-embellished speeches and seek to be enchanted by them. And if, by chance, you do not get them, then you jeer and mock and stop up your ears, and you refuse to listen to what is said”). Isidore of Peluse repeatedly conjures up similar reactions of the literati against the language of the Gospels in his letter to the sophist Asclepius: “λανθάνουσιν Ἑλλήνων παῖδες, δι’ ὧν λέγουσιν, ἑαυτοὺς ἀνατρέποντες. Ἐξευτελίζουσι γὰρ τὴν θείαν Γραφήν, ὡς βαρβαρόφωνον, καὶ ὀνοματοποιίαις ξέναις συντεταγμένην, συνδέσμων δὲ ἀναγκαίων ἐλλείπουσαν, καὶ περιττῶν παρενθήκῃ τὸν νοῦν μανθανέτωσαν τῆς ἀληθείας τὴν ἰσχύν. Πῶς γὰρ ἔπεισεν ἡ ἀγροικιζομένη τὴν εὐγλωττίαν; Εἰπάτωσαν οἱ σοφοί, πῶς βαρβαρίζουσα κατακράτος καὶ σολοικίζουσα νενίκηκε τὴν ἀττικίζουσαν πλάνην· πῶς Πλάτων μὲν τῶν ἔξωθεν φιλοσόφων ὁ κορυφαῖος, οὐδενὸς περιεγένετο τυράννου· αὕτη δὲ γῆν τε καὶ θάλατταν ἐπηγάγετο;” (Ep. 29, PG 78:1081).
[ back ] 26. On Greek language and identity, see Swain 1996:17–42.
[ back ] 27. Fowden 1998:538–560, esp. 538. A few examples should suffice. In Therapeutikê 8.22, referring to the cult of Asclepius, Theodoret says: “With libations and smoke of sacrifice, formerly quite openly, even today perhaps in some remote corner, you honor him and deem his statues worthy of divine worship.” And again in Therapeutikê 8.33: “You are well aware that they offered libations to the dead, you who dare these things by night in transgression of the laws.” On this remark, see Canivet 1987:280. Libianus had alluded to this phenomenon thus: “But if they tell you that others have been converted by these [coercive] acts and are now of the same religious opinion as themselves, do not let it elude you that they are speaking of seeming converts, and of factual ones. For they put off nothing of their [belief], but only say they have. This is not to say that they honor one set of cults instead of others, but that the [Christian authorities] have been fooled. For they go with the crowds through the other places where they go for the sake of appearances, but when they assume the mien of men praying, they either call upon no one or else the gods, it not being proper to call upon them from such a place, but they do it all the same” (Libianus Orations 30.28 [emphasis mine]). Libianus’ comment seems to have had the same relevance for Theodoret’s time. For further evidence, see Milewski 1995:167–177.
[ back ] 28. For evidence of how classical authors and literature were intertwined with everyday life, see Uytterhoeven 2009:321–342.
[ back ] 29. Inglebert 2001:557 calls it a biblical filter: “Pour expliquer les modalités de l’extension du concept de culture religieuse chrétienne du domaine théologique de la foi et de l’érudition biblique à celui d’une explication du monde qui intégrait la plus grande partie des savoirs classiques, on a utilisé le modèle du ‘filtre biblique’, susceptible de quatre variantes, l’acceptation, le rejet, la création, la synthèse.” On the early Christian attitudes toward pagan paideia, see also Sandnes 2009.
[ back ] 30. Athanassiadi 2002:277–278 speaks of Julian’s edict as an indication of “a new conception of intellectual protectionism” motivated by “Iamblichus’ systematic sanctification of Greek letters.” She continues: “Greek culture as defined by Iamblichus was sacred, … As presented by Iamblichus, the ingredients of the new paganism were a set number of texts, a given hermeneutic methodology, and a ritual framework. Its authorized language was Greek, … The need for a ‘metropolitan’ theology expressed only in Greek was firmly launched by Iamblichus and in the following centuries every effort was made to integrate all local gods, cults, and myths in a systematic thought-world which bore the formal name Ἑλληνισμός, in response and open challenge to the term Χριστιανισμός.” There is an ongoing debate as to the exact form and import of Julian’s measures. For a review of the status questionis (with a collection of the references to these measures in patristic texts of the fourth and fifth centuries), see Dal Covolo 1988:73–85 and Banchich 1993:5–14. Banchich stressed, at the time, the need for a detailed study of the reaction of Christian authors (John Chrysostom, Theodoret) to Julian’s educational policy. Tedeschi 1996:17–36; Germino 1997; Fiedrowicz 2001:73–87; Saracino 2002:123–141. For the most recent assessment, see Goulet 2009:175–200. In our case it is important to note how Theodoret presented both the Julian’s measures and his reasons for implementing them: “Countless other deeds were dared at that time by land and by sea, all over the world, by the wicked against the just, for now without disguise the enemy of God began to lay down laws against true religion. First of all he prohibited the sons of the Galileans, for so he tried to name the worshippers of the Saviour, from taking part in the study of poetry, rhetoric, and philosophy, for said he, in the words of the proverb ‘we are shot with shafts feathered from our own wing,’ for from our own books they take arms and wage war against us” (Ecclesiastical History 3.8.1–2 [emphasis mine]). In some sense Theodoret, writing almost a century later, seems to be doing precisely this in the Therapeutikê [viz. shooting the pagans with shafts feathered from their own wings].
[ back ] 31. Cameron 1991:140 writes: “The fourth century with its enlarged bureaucracy saw an increased need for educated men, the vast majority of whom were produced by the standard rhetorical schools; … Since everything conspired to make of the fourth century a time when rhetoric did indeed convey power, Christians needed to make it their own.” This could be extended to the fifth century and the intense literary activity that continued unabated. See Schlange-Schöningen 1995.
[ back ] 32. For the importance of Greek paideia in late antiquity, see Brown 1992.
[ back ] 33. Brown 2011:72 citing approvingly Cameron’s claim that “Paganism lasted much longer for Christians than pagans” (2011).
[ back ] 34. Trapp 1997b:1972.
[ back ] 35. It should be noted that, although there is no systematic account by Theodoret on this particular issue, his sporadic engagement with its various aspects allows us to form an idea.
[ back ] 36. For the widespread perception in the Greco-Roman world that antiquity meant superiority, see Pilhofer 1990. For a stress in the competitive aspect of this phenomenon, see Droge 1989.
[ back ] 37. Such was the impact of Julian’s efforts to exclude Christians from Hellenic paideia that as late as the twelfth century Byzantine authors in their rhetorical exercises included a defense of their right to read Hellenic books against Julian’s measures: Asmus 1906:125–136; Widmann 1935–1936: 22–23, 275–280.
[ back ] 38. Anderson 1989:80–208, at 142.
[ back ] 39. Riding 1995:197–230 is devoted to Theodoret. Riding’s study is thorough but narrow in its focus. Tracing a single motif and reading everything through the lens of the dependency theme does not bring out the complexity of Theodoret’s attitude toward Hellenism, which—in the words of Goldhill 2001:8—is “veined with a complex dynamic of attraction and rupture, affiliation and dismissal.”
[ back ] 40. Trying to explain this religious change from paganism to Christianity to his correspondent Agathodaimon, Isidore of Peluse argues similarly: “ἔξεστί [σοι] συνιδεῖν, ἄριστε, ἐκ τῶν συμβάντων τὰ μείζονα. Ὁ γὰρ Ἑλληνισμὸς πολλοῖς καὶ χρόνοις καὶ πόνοις καὶ πόροις καὶ ὅπλοις καὶ λόγοις κρατυνθείς, ἠφανίσθη. Ἡ δὲ ἡμετέρα θρησκεία ἰδιώταις καὶ ἀγραμμάτοις καὶ πτωχοῖς καὶ εὐτελέσιν ἐγχειρισθεῖσα ἐν βραχεῖ καιρῷ, δίκην ἀστραπῆς διῆλθε πανταχοῦ, οὐ τὰς ὄψεις μόνον, ἀλλὰ καὶ τὰς γνώμας φωτίσασα· ὅτι ὁ μὲν ψευδέσι μύθοις συνέκειτο· ἡ δὲ δόγμασιν οὐρανίοις συνήρμοστο” (Ep. 270, PG 78:341–344).
[ back ] 41. “εἰ τὴν ἀρχαίαν λατρείαν ἀνεῖλεν ὁ θεὸς ὡς αὐτῇ μὴ ἀρεσκόμενος, τὴν δὲ τῶν χριστιανῶν ὡς ἀρεστὴν αὐτῷ ἀντεισήγαγεν, οἱ δὲ ὀρθόδοξοι μόνοι θεῷ ἀρέσκοντες Ἑλλήνων τε καὶ Ἰουδαίων καὶ πάντων αἱρετικῶν κατὰ τὸν ἀριθμὸν ὑπάρχουσιν ἥσσονες, τίς ἡ ἀπόδειξις τοῦ μὴ κατὰ πτωχείαν δυνάμεως τοῦ ταύτην ἀντ᾿ ἐκείνης ἑλομένου λατρείαν τὴν πλάνην μένειν ἀνεκρίζωτον, πῶς δὲ οὐκ ἀνωφελὴς ἡ ἐκείνης κατάλυσις, πλάνης ἑτέρας κατεχούσης τὸν κόσμον;” (“If God abolished the ancient worship, because He did not like it, and introduced that of the Christians because he liked it and (if) only orthodox Christians are liked how are they less in number than the Greeks, Jews and all the heretics? How is the fact that error is not uprooted not proof of the lack of power since He chose this worship over the other? How is the dissolution of this error not useless since a different error prevails in the world?”).
[ back ] 42. “εἰ τῶν μερῶν τῆς κτίσεως οἱ δαίμονες οὐκ ἐξουσιάζουσι, διατί παρακουσθέντων τῶν χρησμῶν τοῖς Ἕλλησι τιμωρίας ἐπήγαγον, καὶ θεραπευθέντων τῶν εἰδώλων ταύτας ἀνέσχον καὶ ἀγαθὰ αὐτοῖς ἀντὶ τούτων παρέσχον; πόθεν οὖν αὐτοῖς δύναμις εἰς τὴν ἑκατέρου ἐνέργειαν;” (“If demons govern parts of the created world, why, when the oracles were not heeded by the Greeks, did they [viz. demons] bring punishments upon them, whereas when the idols were reverenced they put an end to the punishments and they [viz. demons] provided goods instead? Whence did their power come for either act?”).
[ back ] 43. “εἰ διὰ τὸ νενικῆσθαι τὸν ἑλληνισμὸν ὑπὸ τοῦ χριστιανισμοῦ ἐλπίδα οὐκ ἔχει ὁ ἑλληνισμὸς ἀνακλήσεως, πῶς πάλαι ὑπὸ τοῦ ἑλληνισμοῦ νικηθεῖσα ἡ ἀληθὴς θεοσέβεια νυνὶ τὴν ἀνάκλησιν δέδεκται; ὅτι γὰρ πρὸ τῆς πλάνης ἐκράτει ἡ ἀλήθεια, μαρτυροῦσιν αἱ θεῖαι γραφαί, τὸν Ἀδαμ καὶ πολλοὺς ἐφεξῆς μετ᾿ αὐτὸν δηλοῦσαι οὐκ εἰδώλοις ἀλλὰ τῷ θεῷ λατρεύσαντας, κἄν τινες αὐτῶν ἐν ἀτόποις ἐξητάσθησαν πράξεσιν” (“If Hellenism has no hope of being reinstated because it has been vanquished by Christianity, how is it that vanquished by Hellenism the true piety/religion is now restored? That before error truth reigned is attested in the sacred scriptures, stating that Adam with many others was not worshipping idols but God, even if some of them were involved in absurd deeds”).
[ back ] 44. “εἰ τοὺς εὐσεβεῖς ἀμείβεται ὁ θεὸς τῇ κατὰ τόνδε τὸν βίον λαμπρότητι, ὡς τὸν Ἀβραὰμ καὶ Ἰσαὰκ καὶ Ἰακὼβ καὶ τοὺς ἐξ αὐτῶν, πλούτῳ καὶ εὐπαιδίᾳ καὶ καρπῶν εὐθηνίᾳ, πόθεν καὶ τὰ ὅμοια παρείποντο Ἕλλησιν, ἡνίκα τὰ εἴδωλα πανταχοῦ ἐθεράπευον; πῶς δὲ ὁ ἑλληνισμὸς οὐ δείκνυται ὁσιώτερος; ὅτι ἕως μὲν ἐκεῖνος κατεῖχε τῶν πόλεων, πᾶσαι αἱ πόλεις καὶ οἱ ἀγροὶ εὐπραγίαν καὶ εὐθηνίαν ἐκέκτηντο, καὶ ταῦτα οὐ συχνότερον πολεμούμεναι· ἀφ᾿ οὗ δὲ αὐτὰς τὸ χριστιανικὸν κατέλαβε κήρυγμα, καὶ οἴκων καὶ οἰκούντων καὶ τῆς λοιπῆς εὐθηνίας κατέστησαν ἔρημοι, καὶ μόλις τὰ λείψανα τῶν πάλαι ὑπὸ τῶν Ἑλλήνων γεγενημένων κτισμάτων κατέχουσαι τοῦ ποτὲ πόλεις γεγενῆσθαι δεικνύουσι, τῆς παλαιᾶς εὐθηνίας καὶ τῆς νέας ἐρημίας ἑκατέρας τὰς θρησκείας αἰτίας ἀμφοτέρων προσφέρουσαι” (“If God rewards the pious with eminence in this life, just as with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and their people with wealth, children, and abundance of crops, how is Hellenism not proven more holy? When it was prevailing in the cities, all the cities and the countryside were prospering and flourishing (while they did not have to engage in war more often). But after the Christian teaching prevailed they [viz. cities] lost their houses and their tenants and the entire prosperity and only the remains of the buildings built by the Greeks demonstrate that these were cities; the former prosperity and the latter devastation are offering each one of them the reasons for the [practice] of these two religions”).
[ back ] 45. Albeit, in this highly selective and qualified version with which we are presented in the Therapeutikê.
[ back ] 46. An image used by Theodoret in On Providence to describe the process of writing: “Φέρε τοίνυν, ἐξ αὐτῆς τῆς κατηγορίας τὴν ἀπολογίαν ὑφαίνωμεν” (PG 83:625).
[ back ] 47. E.g. see Theodoret’s use of Porphyry’s judgment of theurgy (and by implication Greek religion) as magic in Dialexis III. On Angels, Gods, and Demons.
[ back ] 48. Roos 1883; Raeder 1900; Canivet 1957:161–290; Schulte 1904:42–105; Halton 1963; Bardy 1946:299–325. On the use of Aëtius by Theodoret, see Mansfeld and Runia 1996:272–290 and the judicious review by Frede 1999:135–149. Frede in his detailed discussion of Theodoret’s treatment by Runia and Mansfeld entertains the possibility of Theodoret’s use of Aëtius.
[ back ] 49. Bardy 1946:308.
[ back ] 50. Despite estimates like these, it is hard to precisely quantify Theodoret’s readings, as there are places where he reproduces the thoughts of an author without quoting him. This results in a fair amount of unattributed sources.
[ back ] 51. But see for example Therapeutikê 5.16–17: “ Ἃ δέ γε ξὺν Θεῷ λέξω, ἐκ τῶν Πλουτάρχῳ καὶ Πορφυρίῳ καὶ μέντοι καὶ Ἀετίῳ ξυγγεγραμμένων ἐρῶ” (“All that I am going to say I will borrow, with God’s help, from the writings of Plutarch, Porphyry, and Aetius”). Goulet 1997:152 writes convincingly about this phenomenon: “Un cas de Cyr très éclairant est offert par la Thérapeutique des maladies helléniques de Théodoret de Cyr. P. Canivet a montré que cet auteur empruntait la quasi-totalité de ses citations anciennes—environ 360—à Clément d’Alexandrie, à Eusèbe de Césarée ou à une troisième source non identifiée (‘X’). Jamais ces emprunts ne sont reconnus. Eusèbe, la source principale, n’est cité qu’une fois, dans un passage où Théodoret ne dit d’ailleurs pas qu’ils ait emprunté quoi que ce soit à son devancier. Devant ce qui à nos yeux de modernes est un plagiat manifeste, on en vient à se demander comment un compilateur comme Théodoret voyait les choses. Si on leur avait dit: vous nous laissez croire que vous citez directement d’innombrables auteurs anciens dont, en vérité, vous copiez le texte dans un ouvrage intermédiaire dont vous taiser le titre, ils auraient peut-être répondu que primo ils n’avaient jamais dit que ces auteurs étaient pour eux des sources et que secundo la source immédiate intermédiaire ne leur avait servi qu’à repérer des textes qu’ils auraient pu trouver par eux-mêmes chez les auteurs cités. D’une telle pratique, on peut en effet conjecturer que ces références et ces citations n’étaient peut-être pas dans leur esprit des sources qu’ils avaient matériellement et immédiatement recopiées dans leur propre ouvrage, mais des autorités qui authentifiaient par leur témoignage le bien-fondé des propos rapportés.”
[ back ] 52. Ulrich 2009:113–130.
[ back ] 53. The rhetorical figure that is employed is known as ὑποφορά and ἀνθυποφορά (subiectio in Latin); see Cooper 1971:10–23. Pernot 1993:421–437 discusses related rhetorical figures and their corresponding literary forms. For its use in the context of Cynic diatribe and homily, see Fuentes González 1998:58.
[ back ] 54. Note the term: “διελέγξαι τῶν κατηγορημάτων τὸ μάταιον” (Therapeutikê, prologue).
[ back ] 55. A good example is Therapeutikê 8.34–35, where Theodoret cites Pindar: “Εἰ δὲ ἀναισθήτως αὐτοὺς ἔχειν τῶν γινομένων νομίζετε καὶ μὴ θείας τινὸς καὶ τρισολβίας ὄντως λήξεως ἀπολαῦσαι, Πίνδαρος ὁ λυρικὸς ταύτην ὑμῶν ἐκβαλέτω τὴν δόξαν, λέγων ὡδί·” (“And if you think that they are insensible to what happened to them and that they do not enjoy some divine and truly thrice-blest lot, let Pindar, the lyric poet, expel this false opinion of yours when he says …”).
[ back ] 56. Thoroughly analyzed by Walker 2000:184, where he gives the following definition of an enthymeme: “An ‘enthymeme’ is, on one hand, a complex, quasi-syllogistic structure of inference and affect that constitutes the substance and persuasive force of an argument as perceived by an audience. On the other hand, an ‘enthymême’ will typically and perhaps most forcefully appear in discourse as an emphatic, structural/stylistic turn that caps an exetasis, gives the inferential/affective substance a particular realization with a particular salience within a particular discursive moment, and thereby shapes its audience’s perception of (and responses to) just what ‘the argument’ is” [emphasis in original]. The bibliography for enthymêmes and their role in rhetoric is considerable. However, the contributions most relevant to our discussion are Johnstone 2001:247–250 and Conley 1984:168–187.
[ back ] 57. Theodoret’s use of syllogisms has been pointed out recently by Barnes 2002:399–417. For an early use of enthymemes by Christian authors, see Schoedel 1959:22–32.
[ back ] 58. Lemerle 1971:46, who rightly views the Therapeutikê as a part of larger project on the part of Christian authors to address the issue of Greek paideia and its relationship with Christianity, refers to the Therapeutikê in these words: “elle [sc. the Therapeutikê] se présente comme une bizarre mosaïque.”
[ back ] 59. Thus, instead of a “bizarre mosaïque” in Lemerle’s words (to the extent that the Therapeutikê is to be seen as such), it is a mosaic in which each text is painstakingly selected and positioned—like a tessera in a mosaic—in order to make the most out of its place in the larger pattern.
[ back ] 60. E.g. Therapeutikê 1.9: “Πρῶτον δέ γε τῶν ἄλλων τὸ τῆς οἰήσεως ἰατρεύσωμεν πάθος” (“But, before anything else, let us pay careful attention to the malady of self-conceit”). Also Therapeutikê, prologue 17.1–3: “ Ἐγὼ μὲν οὖν τῆς τε τῶν νοσούντων ἕνεκα θεραπείας καὶ τῆς τῶν ὑγιαινόντων προμηθούμενος ὠφελείας τοῦτον ἀνεδεξάμην τὸν πόνον” (“I, for my part, have undertaken this labor for the sake of curing the ill and doing a service to the healthy”).
[ back ] 61. See also Mansfeld and Runia 1996: “His work is not only an apologetic exercise. It also aims to demonstrate a command of style, i.e. beating the Greeks at their own game” (289).
[ back ] 62. For a detailed study of the concept, see Anderson 1989:80–208.
[ back ] 63. On some occasions Theodoret’s display of “cultural fluency” becomes an open challenge, such as when he confronts the superficial knowledge of the Hellenizers, taunts them, and ridicules their tendency to adorn speeches with phrases taken from Greek religion: “παίδευσιν δὲ ἄκραν καὶ λαμπρότητα λόγων ὑπολαμβάνοντες, εἰ ὀμνύντες εἴποιεν “Μὰ τοὺς θεούς” καὶ “Μὰ τὸν ἥλιον,” καὶ τοιούτους τινὰς τοῖς λόγοις ἐπιπλάττοιεν ὅρκους. Εἰ δὲ οὐκ ἀληθῆ λέγω, εἴπατε, ὦ ἄνδρες, τίνα Ξενοφάνης ὁ Κολοφώνιος ἔσχε διάδοχον τῆς αἱρέσεως; τίνα δὲ Παρμενίδης ὁ Ἐλεάτης; τίνα Πρωταγόρας καὶ Μέλισσος; τίνα Πυθαγόρας ἢ Ἀναξαγόρας; τίνα Σπεύσιππος ἢ Ξενοκράτης; τίνα Ἀρκεσίλαος ἢ Φιλόλαος; τίνες τῆς Στωϊκῆς αἱρέσεως προστατεύουσιν; τίνες τοῦ Σταγειρίτου τὴν διδασκαλίαν κρατύνουσιν; τίνες κατὰ τοὺς Πλάτωνος πολιτεύονται νόμους; τίνες τὴν ὑπ’ ἐκείνου ξυγγραφεῖσαν πολιτείαν ἠσπάσαντο; Ἀλλὰ τούτων μὲν τῶν δογμάτων οὐδένα διδάσκαλον ἡμῖν ἐπιδεῖξαι δυνήσεσθε, ἡμεῖς δὲ τῶν ἀποστολικῶν καὶ προφητικῶν δογμάτων τὸ κράτος ἐναργῶς ἐπιδείκνυμεν· πᾶσα γὰρ ἡ ὑφήλιος τῶνδε τῶν λόγων ἀνάπλεως” (“… and they think it is the height of culture and linguistic distinction if they say when swearing, ‘Yes, by God’ and ‘No, by the sun,’ plastering their conversation with such swearwords. If what I say is untrue, then tell me, my friends, who succeeded Xenophanes of Colophon as head of his school? Who succeeded Parmenides of Elea? Who Protagoras and Melissus? Who succeeded Pythagoras or Anaxagoras? Who Speussipus or Xenocrates? Who succeeded Anaximander or Anaximenes? Who Arcesilas or Philolaus? Who were the heads of the Stoic school? Who follow the teachings of the Stagirite? Who are those whose way of life is in accordance with the Laws of Plato? Who are those who have adopted the way of life described in the Republic? Now you will be unable to show us one devotee of these teachings whereas we, for our part, can clearly demonstrate the cogency of the teachings of the apostles and prophets. Every country under the sun is filled with their words,” Therapeutikê 5.64–66).
[ back ] 64. This refers to the literary and cultural level as opposed to the religious one, to be sure.
[ back ] 65. Adjusting his arguments each time to the circumstances and the people that he addresses, he does not hesitate to express his admiration for Homer or recommend a student to a Sophist. See Ep. 28; Bartelink 1981:6–28.
[ back ] 66. I.e. when attacking Porphyry. However, compared with such harsh tones as that of Chrysostom, who refers to Plato and his teachings thus: “καὶ Πλάτωνος οὐδὲν ἔστι θαυμάσαι, ἢ τοῦτο μόνον. Καὶ καθάπερ τῶν τάφων τοὺς ἔξωθεν κεκονιαμένους, ἂν ἀπαμφιάσῃς, ἰχῶρος, καὶ δυσωδίας, καὶ διεφθορότων ὄψει γέμοντας ἰστῶν· οὕτω καὶ τὰ τοῦ φιλοσόφου δόγματα, ἂν τῆς κατὰ τὴν λέξιν ἀπογυμνώσῃς ὥρας, πολλῆς ὄψει τῆς βδελυγμίας πεπληρωμένα, καὶ μάλιστα ὅταν περὶ ψυχῆς φιλοσοφῇ, ἀμέτρως τιμῶν τε αὐτὴν καὶ βλασφημῶν” (“And as, if you uncover those sepulchers which are whitened without you will find them full of corruption, and stench, and rotten bones; so too the doctrines of the philosopher, if you strip them of their flowery diction, you will see to be full of much abomination, especially when he philosophizes on the soul, which he both honors and speaks ill of without measure,” On John, PG 59:33), Theodoret’s literary urbanity and decorum stand out.
[ back ] 67. Therapeutikê 11.83ff.: “Ταῦτα καὶ ἡμεῖς ὑμῖν, ὦ φίλοι ἄνδρες, παραινοῦντές φαμεν. Οὐ γὰρ δὴ ἄκοντας τὰς θείας λαβεῖν ἀναγκάζομεν δωρεάς, ἀλλὰ παρακαλοῦντες καὶ λιπαροῦντες καὶ τὸ μέγεθος τούτων ἐπιδεικνύντες. Διά τοι τοῦτο καὶ τὴν δεσποτικὴν ταύτην καὶ θαυμασίαν ἐπιλέγομεν ῥῆσιν· ‘Ὁ ἔχων ὦτα ἀκούειν ἀκουέτω’” (“My good friends, I will use the same words in my exhortation to you. For of course we do not force you against your will to accept the divine gifts, but we exhort and beseech you, and show you the greatness of what He has promised. And so we conclude with this remarkable saying of the Lord: ‘Let the one who has ears to hear heed this’”).
[ back ] 68. In the case of Plato and Socrates, see Fabricius 1988:179–187.
[ back ] 69. I.e. when criticizing the cult of Heracles, he says: “τετραετηρικοῖς ἀγῶσιν ἐτίμησαν, καὶ ταῦτά γε ἄνδρα εἰδότες, καὶ ἄνδρα οὐ σώφρονα οὐδὲ φιλοσοφίαν ἠγαπηκότα, ἀλλ’ ἀκολασίᾳ καὶ λαγνείᾳ ξυνεζηκότα. Ἵνα γὰρ τὴν ἄλλην αὐτοῦ πᾶσαν ἀκρασίαν παρῶ, φασὶν αὐτὸν ἐν μιᾷ νυκτὶ πεντήκοντα μιγῆναι παρθένοις, τὸν τρίτον καὶ δέκατον ἴσως ἀγωνισάμενον ἆθλον·” (“And not satisfied with offering annual celebrations, they have special games every four years in his honor. They are aware that he was a mere man, one who had esteemed neither temperance nor philosophy, but who had spent his life in debauchery and dissolute conduct. And, to pass over his other heinous actions, they say that in one night he slept with fifty virgins. That perhaps was labor number thirteen!” Therapeutikê 8.15–16).
[ back ] 70. Inglebert 2001:555 stresses the importance of the integration of the classical paideia into the doctrina christiana because “elle aida les élites païennes à se rallier à la nouvelle religion sans avoir l’impression de trahir la tradition culturelle classique, un des fondements de leur identité sociale, puisqu’elles la retrouvaient avec une nouvelle signification.” On the powerful influence of classical paideia on Christian members of the elite, see Brown 1992 and Salzman 2002.
[ back ] 71. That Theodoret’s method is consistent with that of compilator is easily recognizable when compared to the methods described in later periods by Minnis 1979:385–421. Additional support can be gained by Theodoret’s literary output, a large part of which consists of compilations that serve as thematically organized compendia with a didactic orientation (i.e. Eranistês, Compendium of Heretical Falsehoods, etc). The idea of the Therapeutikê as manual is also reticently suggested by Festa 1928:584–588.
[ back ] 72. Therapeutikê, prologue 6.1. This is to recur in a number of places in the Therapeutikê. See also Therapeutikê, prologue 13.1: “the tenth discourse, on the one hand, teaches what …”
[ back ] 73. For the favorite Christian image of the bee and its classical antecedents, see Ronnenberg 2008:138–164.
[ back ] 74. Reydams-Schils 2011.
[ back ] 75. On the process of condensing knowledge, see Horster and Reitz 2010.
[ back ] 76. Trans. Wortley 1997:175.
[ back ] 77. Inglebert 2001:555–558.