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Cyril of Alexandria: Festal Letters 1–12
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Cyril of Alexandria: Festal Letters 1–12


Catholic University of America 2009

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St. Cyril of Alexandria is best known for his role in the Christological disputes of the fifth century. In recent years, however, scholars have turned their attention to Cyril the exegete. Cyril wrote extensive commentaries on nearly every book of the Bible; in fact, two-thirds of his extant corpus is devoted to biblical interpretation. Yet, despite this strong interest in Cyril as theologian and biblical interpreter, his activity as the Patriarch of Alexandria remains obscure. Doctrinal treatises and biblical commentary reveal little of the daily pastoral duties that occupied Cyril during his years as leader of one of ancient Christianity’s most important sees. This new translation of Cyril’s festal letters will help fill these gaps.

Twenty-nine in all, these letters cover all but three of Cyril’s years as bishop. In Alexandria, festal letters functioned primarily as a vehicle for announcing the beginning of Lent and the proper date for the celebration of Easter. They also served an important catechetical purpose by providing the patriarch with an annual opportunity to present his flock with a pastoral version of the theological issues that found more formal and complex expression elsewhere. Thus, Cyril’s Festal Letters offer the modern reader a glimpse into the issues that Cyril himself considered important enough to proclaim to the entire diocese and a sample of how he prepared these ideas for reception by a less sophisticated audience.

These letters illuminate other aspects of the ancient church in Alexandria, including that church’s complex relationship with the Jews and other religious groups, as well as the ways in which the ascetical movement wound its way into the patriarch’s pastoral program. In short, Cyril of Alexandria’s Festal Letters provides modern readers with a rare opportunity to enter the daily reality of the church in ancient Alexandria.

In the Logos edition, this work becomes enhanced by amazing functionality. Links to the patristic writings of the Early Church Fathers will bring you right to the source—to the very quote—allowing you to see instant context. Footnotes appear on mouseover, as well as references to Scripture and extra-biblical material in your library, and you can perform near-instant searches across these volumes, searching for references to keywords or Scripture passages.

Key Features

  • Contains a new translation of Cyril of Alexandria’s festal letters
  • Provides insight into Cyril’s pastoral duties as bishop
  • Offers a look at the ancient church in Alexandria

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About Cyril of Alexandria

Cyril of Alexandria was the Patriarch of Alexandria from 412 to 444. His uncle, Pope Theophilus of Alexandria, was Patriarch of Alexandria from 385 to 412. Cyril was well educated, wrote extensively, and was a leading figure in the First Council of Ephesus in 431, the third ecumenical council of the early Christian Church. The council convened amid disputes over the teachings of Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople, and Cyril led the charges of heresy against Nestorius. Nestorius’ teachings were condemned by the council, leading to the formation of separate denominations that broke from the Orthodox church.

Cyril of Alexandria is venerated as a saint in the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodox Church, Anglican Church, and Lutheran Church.

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