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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol I:
The Church History of Eusebius.: Chapter IV

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter IV.—The Bishops of Rome and of Alexandria under the Same Emperor989

In the third year of the same reign, Alexander, 990 bishop of Rome, died after holding office p. 176 ten years. His successor was Xystus. 991 About the same time Primus, bishop of Alexandria, died in the twelfth year of his episcopate, 992 and was succeeded by Justus. 993



I.e. the emperor Hadrian.


On Alexander, see above, chap. 1, note 4.


Known as Sixtus I. (Sixtus, or Sistus, being the Latin form of the name) in the list of Roman bishops. He was supposed to be the author of a collection of religious and moral maxims, which were widely read in the ancient Church and are mentioned by many of the Fathers. His authorship was disputed by Jerome and others, and the work from that time on was commonly assigned to a heathen author, until recently some voices have again been heard in favor of the authorship of Bishop Sixtus (notably de Lagarde and Ewald). See Schaff’s Church Hist. II. p. 703 sq.

He is, according to Lipsius, the first Roman bishop whose dates we have any means of ascertaining, and it may be assumed that he was the first one that occupied an episcopal position in Rome; and yet, even in his time, the monarchical episcopate can hardly have been established in its full sense. In the next chapter we are told that he held office ten years; and this figure, which is supported by most of the ancient catalogues, may be accepted as approximately correct. The date of his accession given here by Eusebius cannot, however, be correct; for, as Lipsius has shown (Chron. de röm. Bischöfe, p. 183 sq.) he must have died at least as early as 126 a.d. (possibly as early as 124), so that his accession took place not later than 116; that is, before the death of Trajan. Like most of the other early Roman bishops he is celebrated as a martyr in the martyrologies, but the fact of his martyrdom rests upon a very late and worthless tradition.


On Primus, see chap. 1, note 4. Eusebius contradicts his own dates here. For in chap. 1 he says that Alexander of Rome and Primus of Alexandria became bishops at the same time; but according to this chapter, Alexander died at the close of the tenth year of his episcopate, and Primus in the twelfth year of his. Eusebius may have used the word “about” advisedly, to cover considerable ground, and may have grouped the two bishops together simply for convenience’ sake. No reliance is to be placed upon the dates in any case.


We know nothing about Justus except that he ruled eleven years, according to the next chapter. If Primus died in the twelfth year of his episcopate, as Eusebius says in this chapter, and entered upon his office in the twelfth year of Trajan, as he says in chapter 1, Justus must have become bishop about 120 a.d., in the third or fourth year of Hadrian. It must be remembered, however, that all of these dates are historically worthless.

Next: Chapter V

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