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

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XXVII.—Apolinarius, Bishop of the Church of Hierapolis.

A number of works of Apolinarius 1315 have been preserved by many, and the following have p. 207 reached us: the Discourse addressed to the above-mentioned emperor, 1316 five books Against the Greeks, 1317 On Truth, a first and second book, 1318 and those which he subsequently wrote against the heresy of the Phrygians, 1319 which not long afterwards came out with its innovations, 1320 but at that time was, as it were, in its incipiency, since Montanus, with his false prophetesses, was then laying the foundations of his error.



The first extant notice of Apolinarius is that of Serapion, bishop of Antioch from about 192 to 209 (see Harnack, Zeit des Ignatius, p. 46), in the epistle quoted by Eusebius in V. 19. We learn from this notice that Apolinarius was already dead when Serapion wrote (he calls him “most blessed bishop”; μακαριώτατος), and that he had been a skillful opponent of Montanism. His name is not mentioned again, so far as we know, by any Father of the second or third century. Jerome (de vir. ill. 26) simply repeats the account of Eusebius, but in his Epist. ad Magnum, c. 4 (Migne, I. 607), he enumerates Apolinarius among those Christian writers who were acquainted with heathen literature, and made use of it in the refutation of heresies. Photius (Cod. 14) praises his literary style in high terms. Socrates (H. E. III. 7) names Apolinarius with Irenæus, Clement of Alexandria, and Serapion as holding that the incarnate Christ had a human soul (žμψυχον τὸν ἐνανθρωπήσαντα). Jerome, in his de vir. ill. chap. 18, mentions an Apolinarius in connection with Irenæus as a chiliast. But in his Comment. in Ezech. Bk. XI. chap. 36, he speaks of Irenæus as the first, and Apolinarius as the last, of the Greek Millenarians, which shows that some other Apolinarius is meant in that place, and therefore without doubt in the former passage also; and in another place (Prooem. in lib. XVIII. Comm. in Esaiam) he says that Apolinarius replied to Dionysius of Alexandria on the subject of the Millenium, and we are therefore led to conclude that Apolinarius, bishop of Laodicea (of the fourth century), is meant (see Routh, Rel. Sac. I. 174). Of the bishops of Hierapolis, besides Apolinarius, we know only Papias and Abircius Marcellus (of whom we have a Martyrdom, belonging to the second century; see Pitra, Spic. Solesm. III. 533), who, if he be identical with the Abircius Marcellus of Eusebius, Bk. V. chap. 16 (as Harneck conjectures) must have been bishop after, not before Apolinarius (see note 6 on Bk. V. chap. 16). It is impossible to determine the exact date of Apolinarius’ episcopate, or of his death. As we see from Serapion’s notice of him, he must have been dead at least before 202. And if Abircius Marcellus was bishop after him, and also bishop in the second century, Apolinarius must have died some years before the year 200, and thus about the same time as Melito. The fact that he is mentioned so commonly in connection with Melito, sometimes before and sometimes after him, confirms this conclusion. The Chron. mentions him as flourishing in the tenth (Syncellus and Jerome), or the eleventh (Armenian) year of Marcus Aurelius. His Apology was addressed, as we learn from Eusebius, to Marcus Aurelius; and the fact that only the one emperor is mentioned may perhaps be taken (as some have taken it) as a sign that it was written while Marcus Aurelius was sole emperor (i.e. between 169 and 176). In Bk. V. chap. 5, Eusebius speaks of the story of the thundering legion as recorded by Apolinarius, and it has been thought (e.g. by Salmon, in the Dict. of Christ. Biog.) that this circumstance was recorded in the Apology, which cannot then have been written before the year 174. Harnack, however, remarks that this venturesome report can hardly have stood in a work addressed to the emperor himself. But that seems to assume that the story was not fully believed by Apolinarius, which can hardly have been the case. The truth is, the matter cannot be decided; and no more exact date can be given for the Apology. Eusebius, in the present chapter, informs us that he has seen four works by Apolinarius, but says that there were many others extant in his day. In addition to the ones mentioned by Eusebius, we know of a work of his, On the Passover (περὶ τοῦ π€σχα), which is mentioned by the Chron. Paschale, and two brief fragments of which are preserved by it. These fragments have caused a discussion as to whether Apolinarius was a Quartodeciman or not. The language of the first fragment would seem to show clearly that he was opposed to the Quartodecimans, and this explains the fact that he is never cited by the later Quartodecimans as a witness for their opinions. The tone of the work, however, as gathered from the fragments, shows that it must have been written before the controversy had assumed the bitter tone which it took when Victor became bishop of Rome; i.e. it was written, probably, in the seventies (see, also, Bk. V. chap. 23, note 1). Photius (Cod. 14) mentions three apologetic works by Apolinarius known to him: πρὸς ῞Ελληνας, περὶ εὐσεβείας, and περὶ ἀληθείας. The first and last are mentioned by Eusebius, but the second is a work otherwise unknown to us. There is no reason to suppose, as some have done, that the περὶ εὐσεβείας does not designate a separate work (cf. e.g., Donaldson, Hist. of Christ. Lit. and Doctrine, III. 243), for Eusebius expressly says that he mentions only a part of Apolinarius’ writings. Theodoret (Hær. Fab. I. 21) mentions Apolinarius, together with Musanus and Clement, as having written against the Severians (see chap. 29, below). But, as Harnack justly remarks (p. 235), the most we can conclude from this is that Apolinarius in his Anti-Montanistic work, had mentioned the Severians with disapproval. Five mss. of Eusebius, and the Church Hist. of Nicephorus, mention just after the work On Truth, a work Against the Jews, in two books (καὶ πρὸς ᾽Ιουδαίους πρῶτον καὶ δεύτερον). The words are found in many of our editions, but are omitted by the majority of the best Greek mss., and also by Rufinus and Jerome, and therefore must be regarded as an interpolation; and so they are viewed by Heinichen, Laemmer, Otto, Harnack, and others. Harnack suggests that they were inserted under the influence of Bk. V. chap. 17, §5, where the works of Miltiades are given. We thus have knowledge of six, and only six, distinct works of Apolinarius, though, since no writer has pretended to give a complete list, it is quite probable that he wrote many others.


On the approximate date of this Apology, see the previous note. No fragments of the work are now extant, unless the account of the thundering legion mentioned by Eusebius in Bk. V. chap. 5 belong to it (see the previous note). Jerome speaks of the work as an insigne volumen pro fide Christianorum, and in chap. 26, §1, Eusebius speaks of it as λόγος ὑπερ τῆς πίστεως. This has given rise to the idea that the περὶ εὐσεβείας mentioned by Photius may be identical with this Apology (see the previous note). But such an important work would certainly not have been mentioned with such an ambiguous title by Photius. We may conclude, in fact, that Photius had not seen the Apology. The Chron. Paschale mentions the Apology in connection with those of “Melito and many others,” as addressed to the Emperor Marcus Aurelius.


No fragments of this work are known to us. Nicephorus (H. E. IV. 11) says that it was in the form of a dialogue, and it is quite possible that he speaks in this case from personal knowledge, for the work was still extant in the time of Photius, who mentions it in Cod. 14 (see Harnack, p. 236).


No fragments of this work are extant, and its nature is unknown to us. It may have resembled the work of Melito upon the same subject (see the previous chapter). The work is mentioned by Photius as one of three, which he had himself seen.


Eusebius states here that the works against the Montanists were written later than the other works mentioned. Where he got this information we do not know; it is possible, as Harnack suggests, that he saw from the writings themselves that Marcus Aurelius was no longer alive when they were composed. Eusebius speaks very highly of these Anti-Montanistic works, and in Bk. V. chap. 16, §1, he speaks of Apolinarius as a “powerful weapon and antagonist” of the Montanists. And yet it is a remarkable fact that he does not take his account of the Montanists from the works of Apolinarius, but from later writings. This fact can be explained only as Harnack explains it by supposing that Apolinarius was not decided and clear enough in his opposition to the sect. The writer from whom Eusebius quotes is certainly strong enough in his denunciations to suit Eusebius or any one else. Eusebius’ statement, that the Montanistic movement was only beginning at the time Apolinarius wrote against it (i.e. according to him between 175 and 180), is far from the truth (see on this subject, Bk. V. chap. 16, note 12). How many of these works Apolinarius wrote, and whether they were books, or merely letters, we do not know. Eusebius says simply καὶ ἃ μετὰ ταῦτα συνέγραψε. Serapion (in Eusebius, Bk. V. chap. 19) calls them γρ€μματα, which Jerome (de vir. ill. chap. 41) translates litteras. These γρ€μματα are taken as “letters” by Valesius, Stroth, Danz, and Salmon; but Otto contends that the word γρ€μματα, in the usage of Eusebius (cf. Eusebius, V. 28. 4), properly means “writings” or “books” (scripta or libri), not “letters,” and so the word is translated by Closs. The word itself is not absolutely decisive, but it is more natural to translate it “writings,” and the circumstances of the case seem to favor that rather than the rendering “letters.” I have therefore translated it thus in Bk. VI. chap. 19. On the life and writings of Apolinarius, see especially Salmon’s article in the Dict. of Christ. Biog. and Harnack’s Texte und Untersuch. I. 1, 232–239. The few extant fragments of his works are published by Routh (I. 151–174), and by Otto (IX. 479–495); English translation in the Ante-Nicene Fathers, VIII. 772.



Next: Chapter XXVIII