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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. II: The Ecclesiastical History of Socrates Scholasticus.: Epiphanius, in order to gratify Theophilus, performs Ordinations at Constantinople without John's Permission.

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Chapter XII.—Epiphanius, in order to gratify Theophilus, performs Ordinations at Constantinople without John’s Permission.

Not long after this, at the suggestion of Theophilus, the bishop Epiphanius again came from Cyprus to Constantinople; he brought also with him a copy of the synodical decree in which they did not excommunicate Origen himself but condemned his books. On reaching St. John’s church, which is seven miles distant from the city, he disembarked, and there celebrated a service; then after having ordained a deacon, 869 he again entered the city. In complaisance to Theophilus he declined John’s courtesy, and engaged apartments in a private house. He afterwards assembled those of the bishops who were then in the capital, and producing his copy of the synodical decree condemnatory of Origen’s works, recited it before them; not being able to assign any reason for this judgment, than that it seemed fit to Theophilus and himself to reject them. Some indeed from a reverential respect for Epiphanius subscribed the decree; but many refused to do so among whom was Theotimus bishop of Scythia, who thus addressed Epiphanius:—‘I neither choose, Epiphanius,’ said he, ‘to insult the memory of one who ended his life piously long ago; nor dare I be guilty of so impious an act, as that of condemning what our predecessors did not reject: and especially when I know of no evil doctrine contained in Origen’s books.’ Having said this, he brought forward one of that author’s works, and reading a few passages therefrom, showed that the sentiments propounded were in perfect accordance with the orthodox faith. He then added, ‘Those who speak evil of these writings are unconsciously casting dishonor upon the sacred volume whence their principles are drawn.’ Such was the reply which Theotimus, a bishop celebrated for his piety and rectitude of life, made to Epiphanius.



It was contrary to the canons of the church for a bishop to ordain a presbyter or a deacon in another’s diocese. Cf. Apostol. Can. 35. ‘Let not a bishop dare to ordain beyond his own limits in cities and places not subject to him. But if he be convicted of doing so without the consent of those persons who have authority over such cities and places, let him be deposed, and those also whom he has ordained.’ Also Can. 16 of the Council of Nicæa; ‘If any one should dare to steal, as it were, a person who belongs to another [bishop], and to ordain him for his own church, without permission of the bishop from whom he was withdrawn, the ordination shall be void.’

Next: The Author's Defence of Origen.