Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 1925
Bishop Ambrose of Milan (Italy) in a letter to Irenaeus, possibly a cleric in Milan, comments on the episode from the Gospel of John about a woman accused of adultery. Ambrose of Milan, Letter 68 (Maur. 26), written in Milan, AD 374/397.
LXVIII (Maur. 26)
Ambrosius Irenaeo.
1. Etsi iam superiore epistula hanc quam proposuisti quaestiunculam absolverim, tamen aliquid plenius requirenti tibi ut filio afferre atque exsculpere non supersederim.
2. Ac semper quidem decantata quaestio et celebris absolutio fuit mulieris eius, quiae in libro evangelii quod secundum Iohannem scribitur, adulterii rea oblata Christo est. [...]
In what follows, Ambrose continues his exegetical commentary.
20. [...] Vale, fili, et nos dilige, quia nos te ut parentes diligimus.
(ed. Zelzer 1990: 169-178; summary M. Szada)
LXVIII (Maur. 26)
Ambrose to Irenaeus.
1. Although in a previous letter I have already disposed of the little question you proposed, I will not refuse your request, my son, to set forth and develop my meaning at greater lenght.
2. Numerous times the question has been raised, and well known, too, is the acquittal of the woman who in the Gospel according to John was brought to Christ, accused of adultery. [...]
In what follows, Ambrose continues his exegetical commentary.
20. [...] Farewell, son, and as a son love us, because we love you as a father.
(trans. Beyenka 1954: 468-474; in the translation Letter 84)


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.
A small part of the manuscript tradition give Studius as a name of Ambrose's addressee (the addressee of Letter 50 (Maur. 25); see Zelzer 1990: XXXIII-XXXIV).

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, ER1925,