Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. II: The Ecclesiastical History of Sozomen.: About the Four Brothers, called “The Long,” who were Ascetics, and of whom Theophilus was an Enemy; about Isidore and the Events which came about through these Four.Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Chapter XII.—About the Four Brothers, called “The Long,” who were Ascetics, and of whom Theophilus was an Enemy; about Isidore and the Events which came about through these Four.
The controversy would most likely have been terminated, had it not been renewed by Theophilus himself, from inimical feelings against Ammonius, Dioscorus, Eusebius, and Euthymius, who were called “the long.” 1601 They were brothers; and, as we have before stated, became conspicuous among the philosophers at Scetis. They were at one period beloved by Theophilus above all the other monks of Egypt; he sought their society, and frequently dwelt with them. He even conferred on Dioscorus the bishopric of Hermopolis. He was confirmed in his hatred of them, on account of his enmity to Isidore, whom he had endeavored to ordain in Constantinople after Nectarius. Some say, that a woman, belonging to the Manichean heresy, had been converted to the faith of the Catholic Church; Theophilus rebuked the arch-presbyter (towards whom he had other reasons for entertaining resentful feeling), because he had admitted her to participate in the sacred mysteries before she had adjured her former heresy. Peter, for this was the name of the arch-presbyter, maintained that he had received the woman into communion according to the laws of the Church, and with the consent of Theophilus; and referred to Isidore, as a witness to the truth of what he had deposed. Isidore happened to be then at Rome on an embassy; but, on his return, he testified that the assertions of Peter were true. Theophilus resented this avowal as a calumny, and ejected both him and Peter from the Church. Such is the account given by some persons of the transaction. I have, however, heard it alleged, by a man of undoubted veracity, who was very intimate with the monks above mentioned, that the enmity of Theophilus towards Isidore originated from two causes. One of these causes was identical with that specified by Peter the presbyter, namely, that he had refused to attest the existence of a testament in which the inheritance was entailed on the sister of Theophilus; the other cause alleged by this individual was, that Isidore refused to give up certain moneys that had been confided to him for the relief of the poor, and which Theophilus wished to appropriate to the erection of churches; saying that it is better to restore the bodies of the suffering, which are more rightly to be considered the temples of God, and for which end the money had been furnished, than to build walls. But from whatever cause the enmity of Theophilus might have originated, Isidore, immediately after his excommunication, joined his former companions, the monks at Scetis. Ammonius, with a few others, then repaired to Theophilus, and entreated him to restore Isidore to communion. Theophilus readily promised to do as they requested; but as time passed away, and nothing more was effected for them, and it became evident that Theophilus was pretending, they again repaired to him, renewed their entreaties, and pressed him to be faithful to his engagement. Instead of complying, Theophilus thrust one of the monks into prison, for the purpose of intimidating the others. But he erred in this. Ammonius and all the monks with him then p. 407 went to the prison, into which they were readily admitted by the jailer, who imagined that they had come to bring provisions to the prisoner; but having once obtained admission, they refused to leave the prison. When Theophilus heard of their voluntary confinement, he sent to desire them to come to him. They replied, that he ought first to take them out of prison himself, for it was not just, after having been subjected to public indignity, that they should be privately released from confinement. At length, however, they yielded and went to him. Theophilus apologized for what had occurred, and dismissed them as if he had no further intention of molesting them; but by himself, he champed and was vexed, and determined to do them ill. He was in doubt, however, as to how he could ill-treat them, as they had no possessions, and despised everything but philosophy, until it occurred to him, to disturb the peace of their retirement. From his former intercourse with them he had gathered that they blamed those who believe that God has a human form, and that they adhered to the opinions of Origen; he brought them into collision with the multitude of monks who maintained the other view. A terrible contention prevailed among the monks, for they did not think it worth while to persuade one another by flaming arguments for themselves in an orderly way, but settled down into insults. They gave the name of Origenists to those who maintained the incorporeality of the Deity, while those who held the opposite opinion were called Anthropomorphists.
Soc. vi. 7, 9; Pallad, Dialog. 6. Soz. has different order and some new opinions.
Next: These Four repair to John on account of his Interest; for this Reason, Theophilus was enraged, and prepares himself to fight against John.
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