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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.—The Works of Others that flourished at that Time.

Numerous memorials of the faithful zeal of the ancient ecclesiastical men of that time are still preserved by many. Of these we would note particularly the writings of Heraclitus 1727 On the Apostle, and those of Maximus on the question so much discussed among heretics, the Origin of Evil, and on the Creation of Matter. 1728 Also those of Candidus on the Hexæmeron, 1729 and of Apion 1730 on the same subject; likewise of Sextus 1731 on the Resurrection, and another treatise of Arabianus, 1732 and writings of a multitude of others, in regard to whom, because we have no data, it is impossible to state in our work when they lived, or to give any account of their history. 1733 And works of many others have come p. 246 down to us whose names we are unable to give, orthodox and ecclesiastical, as their interpretations of the Divine Scriptures show, but unknown to us, because their names are not stated in their writings. 1734



This Heraclitus is mentioned only by Eusebius and by Jerome (de vir. ill. chap. 46), who, in his description of him and in the five following chapters (on Maximus, Candidus, Apion, Sextus, and Arabianus), does nothing more than repeat the words of Eusebius in this chapter. The work which Eusebius calls τὰ ῾Ηρακλείτου εἰς τὸν ἀπόστολον is called by Jerome in apostolum Commentarios. The word ἀπόστολος was quite commonly used among the Fathers to denote the epistles of Paul (see Suicer’s Thesaurus), and hence Eusebius seems here to refer to commentaries (the plural article τὰ is used) on the Pauline epistles. These commentaries are no longer extant, and we know nothing of their nature.


The Greek reads καὶ τὰ Μαξιμου περὶ τοῦ πολυθρυλήτου παρὰ τοῖς αἱρεσιώταις ζητήματος, τοῦ πόθεν ἡ κακία, καὶ περὶ τοῦ γενητὴν ὑπ€ρχειν τὴν ὕλην. The plural τὰ (sc. πομνήματα) might lead us to suppose Eusebius refers here to separate works, were it not for the fact that in his Præp. Evang. VII. 22 is found a long extract from a work of Maximus On Matter (περὶ τῆς ὕλης) in which the subject of the origin of evil is discussed in connection with the origin and nature of matter. In that age one could hardly discuss the origin of evil without at the same time discussing matter, to which the origin of evil was referred by the great majority of the ancients. We are to suppose, then, that the work of Maximus bore the double title given by Eusebius in this chapter. Jerome in his de vir. ill. chap. 47, says: Maximusfamosam quæstionem insigni volumine ventilavit, unde malum, et quod materia a Deo facta sit. As remarked above, a long extract, which must have been taken from this work, is given by Eusebius in his Præp. Evang. It appears from this extract that the work was written in the form of a dialogue between three speakers,—two inquirers, and one orthodox Christian. The same fragment of Maximus’ work is found also in the twenty-fourth chapter of the Philocalia of Origen, and is said by the editors, Gregory and Basil, to have been copied by them from Eusebius’ work. The Dialogue on Free Will, ascribed to Methodius (of the early part of the fourth century), made large use of this work of Maximus; and the same is to be said of the Pseudo-Origenistic Dialogue against the Marcionites, though according to Routh (Rel. Sac. II. p. 79) the latter drew his quotations from Methodius and not directly from Maximus. The work of Methodius undoubtedly contains much more of Maximus’ work than is given here by Eusebius; but it is difficult to ascertain what is his own and what belongs to Maximus, and Routh, in publishing the fragments of Maximus’ work (ibid. p. 87–107), gives only the extract quoted by Eusebius. In his Præp. Evang. Eusebius speaks of Maximus as τῆς χριστοῦ διατριβὴς οὐκ ἄσημος ἀνήρ, but we know no more about him than has been already indicated. Gallandius suggests that he may be identical with Maximus, the twenty-sixth bishop of Jerusalem (see above, chap. 12), who, it is quite probable, lived about this time (cf. Eusebius’ Chron., year of Abr. 2202). But Eusebius, neither in this chapter nor in his Præp. Evang., calls Maximus a bishop, and it seems proper to conclude that he at least did not know that he was a bishop; and hence Gallandius’ conjecture, which rests only upon agreement in a very common name, must be pronounced quite baseless.


εἰς τὴν ἑξαήμερον (sc. κοσμοποιΐαν ορ δημιουργίαν). The adjective ξαήμερος was commonly used in this way, with the feminine article, implying a noun understood, and referring to the six days’ work of creation (see Suicer’s Thesaurus). The subject was quite a favorite one with the Fathers. Hippolytus, Basil, Gregory of Nyssa, Ambrose, and others wrote upon it, as did also the Apion mentioned in the next sentence. The work of Candidus is no longer extant, nor do we know anything more about it and its author than Eusebius tells us here. The plural τὰ occurs again, and Jerome supplies tractatus. Whether the word fitly describes the work, or works, or whether they were rather of the nature of homilies, like Basil’s, we do not know. Sophronius, in translating Jerome, puts μιλίας for tractatus, but this of course is of no authority.


Apion’s work is mentioned also by Jerome (de vir. ill. chap. 4), but nothing is added to the statement of Eusebius. We know nothing more about him or his work.


Sextus also is mentioned by Jerome, in his de vir. ill. chap. 50, but we know nothing about him or his work, except what Eusebius tells us here.


Nothing more is known of this Arabianus, and Eusebius does not even tell us the name of his work. His silence is difficult to explain. We can hardly imagine that the title was intentionally omitted; for had there been a reason for such a course, there must have been as much reason for omitting the writer’s name also. It does not seem probable that he had never known the title of the book, for he was not in the habit of mentioning works which he had not seen, except with the formula λόγος žχει, or something of the kind, to indicate that he makes his statement only on the authority of others. It is possible that he had seen this, with the other works mentioned (perhaps all bound in one volume), at sometime in the past, but that the title of Arabianus’ work had escaped him, and hence he simply mentioned the work along with the others, without considering the title a matter of great importance. He speaks of but a single work,—λλη τις ὑπόθεσις,—but Jerome (chap. 51) mentions quædam opuscula ad christianum dogma pertinentia. His description is not specific enough to lead us to think that he had personal knowledge of Arabianus’ writings. It must rather be concluded that he allowed himself some license, and that, not satisfied to speak of a writer without naming his works, and, at the same time, knowing nothing definite about them, he simply calls them, in the most general terms, ad christianum dogma pertinentia; for if they were Christian works, he was pretty safe in concluding that they had to do, in some way at least, with Christian doctrine. The substitution of the plural for the singular (quædam opuscula for τις ὑπόθεσις) can hardly have been an accident. It is, perhaps safe to say, knowing Jerome’s methods, that he permitted himself to make the change in order to conceal his own ignorance of the writings of Arabianus; for to mention a single book, and say no more about it than that it had to do with Christian doctrine, would be a betrayal of entire ignorance in regard to it; but to sum up a number of writings under the general head ad christianum dogma pertinentia, instead of giving all the titles in detail, would be, of course, quite consistent with an exact acquaintance with all of them. If our supposition be correct, we have simply another instance of Jerome’s common sin, and an instance which, in this case, reveals a sharp contrast between his character and that of Eusebius, who never hesitated to confess his ignorance.


Eusebius does not imply, in this sentence, that he is not acquainted with these works to which he refers. As the words are commonly translated, we might imagine that he was not familiar with them, for all the translators make him speak of not being able to draw any extracts from them for his own history. Thus Valesius: nec narrationem ullam libris nostris intexere possumus; Stroth: “noch etwas darauserzählen kann”; Closs: “noch etwas daraus anführen können”; Crusè: “we can neither insert the time nor any extracts in our History.” The Greek of the whole sentence reads, ν διὰ τὸ μηδεμίαν žχειν ἀφορμὴν οὐχ οἷ& 231·ν τε οὔτε τοὺς χρόνους παραδοῦναι γραφῇ, οὔθ᾽ ἱστορίας μνήμην ὑποσημήνασθαι, which seems to mean simply that their works contain no information which enables him to give the dates of the authors, or to recount anything about their lives; that is, they contain no personal allusions. This is quite different from saying that he was not acquainted with the works; in fact, had he not been quite familiar with them, he could not have made such a broad statement. He seems to have searched them for personal notices, and to have failed in the search. Whether these words of Eusebius apply to all the works already mentioned, or only to the μυρίων ἄλλων just referred to, cannot be certainly determined. The latter seems most natural; but even if the reference be only to those last mentioned, there is every reason to think that the words are just as true of the writings of Heraclitus, Maximus, and the others, for he tells us nothing about their lives, nor the time in which they lived, but introduces them in the most general terms, as “ancient ecclesiastical men.” There seems, therefore, no good reason for connecting these writers with the reign of Commodus, rather than with any other reign of the late second or of the third century. It must be noticed that Eusebius does not say that “these men lived at this time”; he simply mentions them in this connection because it is a convenient place, and perhaps because there were indications which led him to think they could not have lived early in the second or late in the third century. It is quite possible, as suggested in the previous note, that the works of the writers whose names are mentioned in this chapter were collected in a single volume, and that thus Eusebius was led to class them all together, although the subjects of their works were by no means the same, and their dates may have been widely different.


Eusebius mentioned first those works whose authors’ names were known to him, but now adds that he is acquainted with many other writings which bear the name of no author. He claims, however, that the works testify to their authors’ orthodoxy, and he seems to imply, by this statement, that he has convinced himself of their orthodoxy by a personal examination of them.

Next: Chapter XXVIII