Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 1916
Bishop Ambrose of Milan (Italy) in a letter to Irenaeus, possibly a cleric in Milan, comments on the Epistle to the Romans. Ambrose of Milan, Letter 63 (Maur. 73), written in Milan, AD 374/397.
LXIII (Maur. 73)
Ambrosius Irenaeo.
1. Decursa lectione apostoli non perfunctorie motus es quia audisti hodie lectum: "Lex enim iram operatur; ubi autem non est lex, nec praevaricatio" [Rom 4:15]. Unde et consulendum arbitratus es, cur lata sit lex, si nihil proderat, immo oberat, quae operaretur iracundiam et praevaricationem introduceret.
In what follows, Ambrose continues his exegetical commentary using Origen's commentary to the Epistle to the Romans.
11. [...] Vale, fili, et nos dilige, quia nos te diligimus.
(ed. Zelzer 1990: 142-148; summary M. Szada)
LXIII (Maur. 73)
Ambrose to Irenaeus.
1. You seem greatly disturbed over the Apostles's lesson, hearing it read today: "For the Law works wrath; for where there is no law, neither is there transgression" [Rom 4:15]. For this reason you determined to ask why the Law was promulgated if it profited nothing, in fact, was injurious by working wrath and causing transgression.
In what follows, Ambrose continues his exegetical commentary using Origen's commentary to the Epistle to the Romans.
11. [...] Farewell, and love us, because we love you.
(trans. Beyenka 1954: 464-468; in the translation Letter 83)


The present letter is not dated and it can only be said that it was written at some point during the episcopacy of Ambrose. Ambrose's addresee, Iraeneus, is treated with paternal affection. Irenaeus received several letters from Ambrose and is known only from this correspondence. He is never explicitely called a presbyter (or a cleric) and there is a scholarly discussion whether he actually was one - see especially Palanque 1933. That Irenaeus was a layman is claimed by Paredi 1968: 498 and Zelzer 1978: 15. He is considered a cleric by Mazières 1979 and later by Zelzer 1990: XXI, n. 6. See PCBE, Italie 1, Irenaeus 1.

Place of event:

  • Italy north of Rome with Corsica and Sardinia
  • Milan

About the source:

Author: Ambrose of Milan
Title: Letters, Epistulae
Origin: Milan (Italy north of Rome with Corsica and Sardinia)
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
Ambrose was a bishop of Milan from 374 until his death in 397. We have a collection of his letters organized in three parts. The first one consists of 77 letters organized in ten books most probably by Ambrose himself. He published his letters at some point after the death of Theodosius in 395. From this collection, Book 4 is missing, as are some letters of Books 2 and 4. The second part is the group of letters that survived outside the collection (extra collectionem), and the third is a group of letters concerning the council of Aquileia in 381 (together with the acts of this council). For a detailed discussion on the letters and further reading see Liebeschuetz 2010: 27–48 and Nauroy 2016: 146–160.
M. Zelzer ed., Epistulae et acta, epistularum libri VII-VIIII, Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Lationorum 82/2, Wien 1990
Saint Ambrose, Letters, trans. M. M. Beyenka, Washington D.C. 1954
J.H.W.G. Liebeschuetz, Ambrose of Milan: political letters and speeches, Liverpool 2010.
J.-P. Mazières, "Les lettres d’Ambroise de Milan à Irenaeus.”, Pallas. Revue d’études antiques 26 (1979), 103–114.
G. Nauroy, "The Letter Collection of Ambrose of Milan", [in:] Late Antique Letter Collections: A Critical Introduction and Reference Guide, ed. C. Sogno, B.K. Storin, E.J. Watts, Oakland, CA 2016, 146–160.
G. Nauroy, "Édition et organisation du recueil des lettres d’Ambroise de Milan: une architecture cachée ou altérée?", in: La correspondance d'Ambroise de Milan, textes réunis et préparés par A. Canellis, Saint-Étienne 2012, 19-61.
J.-R. Palanque, "Deux correspondants de saint Ambroise: Orontien et Irénée”, Revue des Études Latines 11 (1933), 153–163.
A. Paredi, S. Ambrogio e la sua età, Milano 1960.


Writing activity - Correspondence
Relation with - Bishop/Monastic superior
Education - Theological interest
Devotion - Reading the Bible and devotional literature
Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: M. Szada, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER1916,