Sunday, April 5, 2009

St Sophronius of Jerusalem's Synodical Letter

Speaking of both patristic studies and St Sophronius of Jerusalem (the author of the Life of St Mary of Egypt), I just received a notice from Amazon about a new book dedicated to this saint: Sophronius of Jerusalem and Seventh-Century Heresy: The Synodical Letter and Other Documents (Oxford Early Christian Texts) by Pauline Allen. Here is the book description (which should be ingested with a grain or two of salt):
Sophronius was one of the most influential figures spanning the ecclesiastical troubles in East and West during the sixth to the seventh centuries. Poet, hagiographer, dogmatician, homilist, and liturgist, he was a widely-travelled monastic who had close ties with the see of Rome and an unrivalled knowledge of the workings of the anti-Chalcedonian churches, revealed in his Synodical Letter. Sophronius despatched this epistle to other church leaders when at an advanced age he became patriarch of Jerusalem in AD 634. The letter was read out at the Sixth Ecumenical Council in 680-1, and provided the only sustained rebuttal of the monoenergist doctrine which was used by eastern emperors and church leaders alike as a political strategy to unite Christians in the early Byzantine empire.

Pauline Allen provides the first complete annotated translation of the Synodical Letter into a modern language. A comprehensive introduction situates the work in the context of the aftermath of the Council of Chalcedon (AD 451). It is accompanied by a dossier of translated documents by other writers of the time which illustrate the progress of the debate and its political and ecclesiastical repercussions in the first half of the seventh century.
It's from Oxford University Press, so of course it's outrageously expensive. But your local library should be able to get you a copy.

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