The letter discusses the so-called Theopaschite theology which was promoted by the Scythian monks in the context of the Christological debates of the fifth and sixth centuries. From AD 513 they advocated the formula that "One of the Trinity suffered in the flesh", which, however, led to further controversy in Constantinople. In AD 519 the Acacian schism came to an end, and the doctrine of the Scythian monks started to be interpreted as an attack on the Council of Chalcedon and a newly re-established union between Rome and Constantinople. The monks proceeded to Rome in 519, but Hormisdas did not grant them an audience. They left Rome, and in response Hormisdas wrote a letter to Bishop Possessor in August AD 520 in which he criticized the theology of the Scythian monks. When the Scythian monks were still in Rome, the Senator Faustus asked the Presbyter Trifolius about the Theopaschite formula, and received the present letter (see Grillmeier and Hainthaler 1995: 322–27).
The recipient of the letter should probably be identified with Flavius Anicius Probus Faustus iunior Niger (PLRE, vol. 2, Faustus 9), consul of the year 490, magister officiorum in the years 492–94, quaestor palatii in 503–5/6, and praefectus praetorio in Italy in 509-512. He was an addressee of many letters of Ennodius, deacon of Milan and later bishop of Pavia.