Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol I:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Church History of Eusebius.: Chapter II
Chapter II.—The Subsequent Reverse.
1. But the tyrant who, as we have said, ruled over the districts of the Orient, a thorough hater of the good and an enemy of every virtuous person, as he was, could no longer bear this; and indeed he did not permit matters to go on in this way quite six months. 2719 Devising all possible means of destroying the peace, he first attempted to restrain us, under a pretext, 2720 from meeting in the cemeteries.
2. Then through the agency of some wicked men he sent an embassy to himself against us, 2721 inciting the citizens of Antioch to ask from him as a very great favor that he would by no means permit any of the Christians to dwell in their country; and others were secretly induced to do the same thing. The author of all this in Antioch was Theotecnus, 2722 a violent and wicked man, who was an impostor, and whose character was foreign to his name. 2723 He appears to have been the curator 2724 of the city.
The Edict of Galerius was issued in April, 311 (see Lactantius, de Mort. pers. 35, and Bk. VIII. chap. 17, note 1, above), so that Maximins change of policy, recorded in this chapter, must have begun in October, or thereabouts. Valesius supposes that the death of Galerius was the cause of Maximins return to persecuting measures. But Galerius died, not some months after the issue of the edict, as Valesius, and others after him, assert, but within a few days after it, as is directly stated by Lactantius (ibid.), whose accuracy in this case there is no reason to question. Another misstatement made by Valesius in the same connection, and repeated by Heinichen, Crusè, and others, is that Maximin became Augustus only after the death of Galerius. The truth is, he was recognized as an Augustus in 308 (see Lactantius, ibid. chap. 32; and Bk. VIII. chap. 13, note 22, above). The cause of the renewal of the persecution seems to have been simply impatience at the exultation of the Church and at the wonderful recuperative power revealed the moment the pressure was taken off. That it was not renewed sooner was doubtless due to the more important matters which engaged the attention of Maximinus immediately after the death of Galerius, in connection with the division of the Eastern Empire between himself and Licinius (see Lactantius, ibid. chap. 36). It would seem from the passage just referred to, that as soon as these matters were satisfactorily adjusted, Maximin turned his attention again to the Christians, and began to curtail their liberty.358:2720
Very likely under the pretext that night gatherings at the tombs of the martyrs, with the excitement and enthusiasm necessarily engendered under such circumstances, were of immoral tendency. Naturally, the honor shown by the Christians to their fellows who had been put to death at the command of the state was looked upon as an insult to the authorities, and could not but be very distasteful to them. They imagined that such meetings would only tend to foster discontent and disloyalty on the part of those who engaged in them, and consequently they were always suspicious of them.358:2721
The same account is given by Lactantius, ibid. chap. 36 (“First of all he took away the toleration and general protection granted by Galerius to the Christians, and, for this end, he secretly procured addresses for the different cities, requesting that no Christian church might be built within their walls; and thus he meant to make that which was his own choice appear as if extorted from him by importunity”). It is possible that the account is correct, but it is more probable that the embassies were genuine, and were voluntarily sent to the emperor, while he was on a tour through his dominions, by the pagan population of some of the cities who knew the emperors own position in the matter, and desired to conciliate him and secure favors from him. Of course such deputations would delight him greatly; and what one city did, others would feel compelled to do also, in order not to seem behindhand in religious zeal and in order not to run the risk of offending the emperor, who since the death of Galerius was of course a more absolute master than before. Cf. Mason, p. 313 sq.358:2722
Theotecnus, according to the Passion of St. Theodotus (translated in Mason, p. 354 sq.) an apostate from Christianity, was for some time chief magistrate of Galatia, where he indulged in the most terrible cruelties against the Christians. Beyond the account given in the Passion referred to we know in regard to Theotecnus only what is told us by Eusebius in the present book, in which he is frequently mentioned. His hatred of the Christians knew no bounds. He seems, moreover, to have been something of a philosopher and literary man (Mason calls him a Neo-Platonist, and makes him the author of the anti-Christian Acta Pilati; but see below, chap. 5, note 1). He was executed by command of Licinius, after the death of Maximinus (see below, chap. 11).358:2723
Θεοτέκνος, “child of God.”358:2724
The λογισταὶ, or curatores urbium, were the chief finance officers of municipalities. See Valesius note on Bk. VIII. chap. 11.
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