A mysterious reference to Theodoret in the NPNF John Damascene

An email reached me asking:

I was reading John of Damascus in NPNF Series 2, and a comparison was made to Theodoret’s “Epitome of Divine Dogmas.”  I tried searching with Google but gave up.  Do you know of an available English translation?

The reference is to the prologue here, “From the Latin of the Edition of Michael Lequien, as Given in Migne’s Patrology”.  The NPNF says:

After the rules of Christian dealectic and the review of the errors of ancient heresies comes at last the book “Concerning the Orthodox Faith.” In this book, John of Damascus retains the same order as was adopted by Theodoret in his “Epitome of Divine Dogmas,” but takes a different method.

Looking in Quasten’s Patrology reveals no such work by Theodoret; in Migne, vols. 80-84, nothing either.  Le Quien’s preface to John Damascene is PG94, columns 66-97.  But I could find no such sentence in it.

But my correspondent was luckier, and found a reference in a Word document at the Documenta Catholica Omnia site accessible from here.  In the Life and Writings, which takes a while to download.  It contains the following:

(ii.) The Haereticarum Fabularum Compendium, was composed at the request of Sporacius, one of the representatives of Martian at Chalcedon, and is, as its title indicates, an account of past or present heresies. It is divided into five. Books, which treat of the following heretics.

I. Simon Magus, Menander, Saturnilus, (1) Basilides, Isidorus, Carpocrates, Epiphanes, Prodicus, Valentinus, Secundus, Marcus the Wizard, the Ascodruti, (2) the Colorbasii, the Barbelioti, (3) the Ophites, the Cainites, the Antitacti, the Perati, Monoimus, Hermogenes, Tatianus, Severus, Bardesanes, Harmoniu Florinus, Cerdo, Marcion, Apelles, Potitus, Prepo, and Manes.

II. The Ebionites, the Nazarenes, Cerinthus, Artemon, Theodotus, the Melchisedeciani, the Elkesites, Paul of Samosata, Sabellius, MarcelIus, Photinus.

III. The Nicolaitans, the Montanists, Noetus of Smyrna, the Tessarescdecatites (i.e. Quartodecimani) Novatus, Nepos.

IV. Arius, Eudoxius, Etmomius, Aetius, the Psathyriani, the Macedoniani, the Donatists, the Meletians, Appollinarius, the Audiani, the Messaliani, Nestorius, Eutyches. V. The last book is an “Epitome of the Divine Decrees.” 

So it is, in fact, part of the Compendium of the Fables of the Heretics.  My correspondent added:

…there was enough to cross-reference at Source Chrétiennes where I found this:

Résumé des fables hérétiques (Haereticarum fabularum compendium);  CPG 6223.  420 – env. 460.  PG 83, 336-556.

Still nothing in English though.

The work ought to exist in English but I don’t believe it does.  Nor does it appear in the French Sources Chretiennes series.  The work is apparently derivative of earlier works, which probably explains the neglect by scholars.

3 Responses to “A mysterious reference to Theodoret in the NPNF John Damascene”


  1. Walter Dunphy

    True to its name the Compendium runs through the list of heresies, and the final Epitome of doctrine and morals is geared at what the heretics got wrong. PG83.439-556 for the Epitome. Apart from a few details it adds little to what we know from elsewhere about the heresies, and Theodoret’s thought is better presented elsewhere. Apart his History, and Eranistes (Dialogues), his exegetical works are finally being translated – but much still lacking in English. His theological language is tricky on a difficult topic – Christology. Google “Theodoret/Kupan” – if you’re lucky you might get a very useful PDF…

  2. Roger Pearse

    Another correspondent writes:

    By the way, you had a post about Theodoret’s Haereticarum fabularum compendium, wondering about availability in English…English translations of parts of it are included in Pázstori-Kupán’s (2006) Theodoret of Cyrus; and G. M. Cope’s 1990 (unpublished) dissertation “An Analysis of the Heresiological Method of Theodoret of Cyrus in the Haereticarum fabularum compendium” reportedly contains a complete translation…

    The Cope dissertation seems to be in UMI Proquest, who want $37 for a PDF. But I suspect I can get a free copy via a university library…

  3. Roger Pearse

    Thank you Walter for the tip!