When seized with a desire to write history, Sozomen says: “I at first felt strongly inclined to trace the course of events from the very commencement, but on reflecting that similar records of the past, up to their own time, had been compiled by those wisest of men, Clemens and Hegesippus, successors of the Apostles, by Africanus, the historian, and by Eusebius, surnamed Pamphilus, a man intimately acquainted with Sacred Scriptures and the writings of the Greek p. 200 poets and historians, I merely drew up an epitome in two books, of all that is recorded to have happened to the churches, from the ascension of Christ to the deposition of Licinius.” This work is unfortunately lost. It was not a simple chronicle, but an abbreviated account of these events; the abridgment was probably from the authors mentioned above. The habit of succinct narration is quite in his later vein. He doubtless commingled secular with the sacred detail. It may be suggestingly asked, whether his words in ix. 1 do not give a hint of another work: “But I willingly for awhile pass over the many separate manifestations of divine favor, that were granted to the sister of the emperor, as proofs that she was loved of God, lest anybody should blame me, for having set out to do other things, and yet had turned to the use of encomiums.” This sudden arrest could not be owing to an intended resumption of such matters at a later portion of the history; for the method was already regarded as irrelevant, and the very reason for citing no more in that vein; is it not likely that he at least purposed an encomium of Pulcheria?
The attempt of Hieronymus, Wolf, Lambec, and Fenzel to ascribe Hermias Διασυρμὸς τῶν ἔξω φιλοσόφων (Irrisio gentilium philosophorum) to Sozomen, because of identity of name, is now held by none. 1048 The work by which we know him, is the Ecclesiastical History in nine Books. When did he write it? In trying to determine the time of its production, let us look at the data suggested in his work.
(1) In the dedication, the delineation of the emperors culture and character discloses a man of fixity and repose; these qualities could not be ascribed to the time of his imperial majority, in his fifteenth year, nor to the time of his marriage (421); they are rather the features of settled experience; hence we would expect in general a period nearer the end of his reign, than one in the beginning or middle; certainly somewhere beyond his thirtieth year, and therefore beyond a.d. 438.
(2) Sozomen says that poets and authors, even those of prefectural dignity, as well as other subjects, celebrated the emperor. The usual literary incense was burned. Olympiodorus dedicated his history to him. Socrates was magniloquent; and more particularly did Cyrus, the friend of Eudocia, who attained the highest offices of the state from 439–441, write epigrams in praise of his monarch. 1049 This would make a date after 441. 1050
(3) In illustration of the practiced self-control of his sovereign, he narrates an incident of the royal journey in the summer heat, through Bithynia, to the fallen city of Heraclea, in Pontus, 1051 with the view of restoring it. This journey took place in June of a.d. 443. 1052 This incident is introduced with πρώην, which would place the writing quite definitely as not very soon after June 443.
(4) The reign of Theodosius is described as above all others bloodless and pure from slaughter. This could only be moderately just, before the judicial murders connected with the jealous fits of Theodosius, from 442 on, and the united movement of outlying nations upon the East and West, as projected by the political sagacity of Attila.
(6) The prayer at the conclusion of the proëmium may have in it a point of light; he hopes that through the favor of Christ, the imperium may be transmitted to Theodosius sons and grandsons. The only child born to Eudocia was a daughter, Eudoxia, who was married to Valentinian III. It was because of the lack of succession, that Pulcheria married General Marcianus. Eudocia withdrew from the court somewhere between 441–443, but that would not have had to impede the succession, had Theodosius chosen to be divorced; and this prayer rather intimates the desirability of another marriage. This, therefore, must have been written p. 201 before the hope of sons was removed; certainly, therefore, before the closing years of the emperors reign.
(7) In Book ix, Pulcherias inclination to virginity is spoken of as expressed in the most solemn way, and with the consecrated gift of a table to signalize it. There is no hint in the work of the marriage with Marcian, suggested by Theodosius on his death-bed, and carried out after his demise. This would indicate that the work was completed before 450.
(8) In ix. 1, he affirms: “That new heresies have not prevailed in our times, we shall find to be due especially to her, as we shall subsequently see.” The heresies are those connected with Nestorianism, 428–444, and possibly the return of the Johannists to full communion by the triumphal restoration of Chrysostoms remains in 438; these were to fall within the limits of his work. The Eutychean heresy in its first stage was hostile to Pulcherias views, while its overthrow was not effected until a year after the death of Theodosius. The close of the Nestorian controversy through the compromise was in 444, and that date would suit well with the fact of mastering the heresy at the very time he was writing this account of Pulcheria.
(9) In ix. 2, he recounts the transfer of the forty martyrs, after a public festival had been appropriately celebrated with fitting honor and pomp, with psalms, “at which I myself was present; and others who were present can also bear testimony that these things were done in the way described, for almost all of them still survive. And the event occurred much later, when Proclus governed the church of Constantinople.” Proclus was elected 434, and continued in office until his death in 447. This transfer must have taken place before 439, the proposed terminus of the history, and very likely a little while after the accession of this long-tried candidate. The time of the writing was at some considerable remove from the event itself, because of his appeal to the survivors as witnesses to the truth of his portrayal, and yet not so far, but that the most of the participants and spectators could still be appealed to. This would correspond very well with the date connected with 443, suggested by the incident in Bithynia, if we allow some interval between the writing of the dedication and Book ix.
(10) In ix. 6, the overthrow of Uldis, 406, is narrated. The settlement of the conquered Sciri as slaves and colonists is enlarged upon. Sozomen himself saw these imperial farmers at their tilling in Bithynia. This may connect itself, possibly, as to the time of the year, and place, with the emperors progress to Heraclea Pontica. There is evidently an interval between the capture of the Sciri, and their settled work as colonists, when Sozomen visited that region, and between that visit and the writing of the fact. If it corresponded with the imperial progress, it would of course be 443. Taking all these points together, it would seem that the work was begun about the latter part of 443; and that the dedication was written first, because that states the plan of the whole work, including the ninth book, whose record does not meet the intention, there expressed; moreover, some of the events in Book ix. indicate a considerable interval between the fact and the account of it. When he finished what he wrote, it is not so easy to tell; it would certainly take him a few years, and the end was reached before any considerable outbreak of the Eutychean heresy; therefore probably in 447, or 448, for the reason that Pulcheria did not conquer that heresy until after her marriage with Marcian; this date is supported by the fact that the breaking of her vow was unknown to the writer of ix. 1, 3; also because the Emperor Theodosius was still alive. The work was the fruit and employment of old age; the style is certainly that of an elderly man, and not that of youth or early maturity.
1. He desired to present the truth with regard to the facts and their results. In i. 1, he affirms: “I will readily transcribe fully from any work that may tend to the elucidation of truth.” “Still, as it is requisite, in order to maintain historical accuracy, to pay the strictest attention to the means of eliciting truth, I felt myself bound to examine all writings of this class, according to my ability.” This is his professed purpose; however subjective or churchly his view of truth may be, we must give him the credit for the intention. In i. 1, he appeals p. 202 to his readers in this wise: “Let not an impertinent or malignant spirit be imputed to me, for having dwelt upon the disputes of ecclesiastics among themselves, concerning the primacy and pre-eminence of their own heresy. In the first place, as I have already said, a historian ought to regard everything as secondary in importance to truth.” And we shall see evidences of his fairness.
2. His history is designed to be a demonstration of Christianity as from God. The vastness of the change wrought by God in the introduction and success of Christianity and the insignificant and mythical themes upon which literature had been wont to exercise itself, prompted him, with his confessed inefficiency, to undertake this line of evidence, in the conviction that God would help his believing incapacity. Hence his work is a record of immediate divine interventions, and extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit; it abounds in visions, miracles, and prophecy. The celestial agents visibly direct affairs; the flow of vaticination does not cease; the power to reverse the expected order of events is not suspended. Thus, as to epiphanies of divine, angelic, or sainted beings: In i. 3, is recounted the appearance of the cross unto Constantine; and in the night during sleep, the manifestation of Christ with a cross, and the instructions given to the emperor. In ii. 1, we have a series of divine interpositions to discover the true cross, and Sozomen remarks in refutation of one explanation, “I do not think that human information is requisite, when God thinks it best to make manifest the same.” In ii. 3, the old name, Hestiæ, is changed to Michaelium, because of the reported appearance of the archangel there. The monks are favored with such direct counselors; Pachomius obeys an angel, who directs him to assemble young men for instruction; “he was frequently admitted to intercourse with the holy angels.” Apollonius yielded to direct divine advice, and withdrew from the desert to a populous region. The cross reappeared in the days of Constantius (iv. 5); Julians life is filled with portents (v. 1, 20, 22; vi. 2). A curious bit of speculation occurs in vi. 2; in interpreting Julians alleged use of his blood, he says: “I know not whether the approach of death, as is wont to be the case, when the soul is in the act of being separated from the body, and when it is enabled to behold diviner spectacles than is allotted to men, that Julian might then have beheld Christ. Few allusions have been made to this subject; and yet I dare not reject this hypothesis as absolutely false, for God often suffers still more improbable and astonishing events to take place, in order to prove that the religion named after Christ is not sustained by human energy.” Of Theodores confession (v. 20) he remarks: “It is said that he was afterwards asked whether he had been sensible of any pain on the rack; and that he replied he had not been entirely free from suffering, but had his pain assuaged by the attentions of a young man who had stood by him, and had wiped off the perspiration with the finest linen cloth, and supplied him with coolest water, by which he eased the inflammation and refreshed his labors. I am convinced that no man, whatever magnanimity he may possess, is capable without the special assistance of divine Power, of manifesting such entire indifference about the body.” In vi. 29, Piammon sees an angel standing near the holy table, and writing down in a book the names of the monks who were present, while he erased the names of those who were absent. Mark had the elements of the holy table administered to him by an angel (vii. 29). Malachion, while journeying with his brothers, was made invisible, and then reappeared, and pursued his way with them (vi. 32). So the portent at Hebdomas was a sign of divine favor to Theodosius the Great (vii. 24); the heavenly hosts were the real overthrowers of Gaïnas (viii. 4); Basiliscus the martyr appears to Chrysostom (viii. 28). Pulcherias celestial directors helps her to find the forty martyrs (ix. 2). The appearance of Zechariah to the serf pointed out the way to the discovery of the prophets remains (ix. 17). The demoniacal agencies are equally operant, some of which are alluded to in the above passages, but readily yield to prayer and exorcism, if not immediately overthrown by God.
For a demonstration of the same truth, miracles are wrought to effect physical cures, mental troubles, threatened dangers, casting out of demons, silencing philosophers and wordy ecclesiastics, vindicating orthodoxy, reading the thoughts of hypocrites defeating enemies, sanctifying p. 203 the sacraments raising the dead; and they are the mighty agents for converting philosophers, Jews, pagans, and heretics. They are wrought by the hands of the eminently excellent only; the gift is associated with a high measure of grace; for example the bishops Paphnutius (i. 10) and Spyridion (i. 11) are so endowed; Alexander of Constantinople (i. 14), Eusebius of Emesa (iii. 6), Martin of Tours (iii. 14), Arsacius of Nicomedia (iv. 16), Donatus (vii. 26), Gregory of Neocæsarea (vii. 26), Theotimus of Scythia (vii. 26), Epiphanius of Salamis (vii. 27). In like manner, the monks Antony (i. 13), Amun (i. 14), Eutychianus (i. 14), Macarius the Egyptian, Apollonius, Hilarion, Julian (iii. 14), John, Copres, Helles, Apelles, Eulogius (vi. 28); Apollos, John of Diolchus, Benjamin and Pior (vi. 29). The united prayer of a congregation could effect them (vii. 5). The statue of Christ at Paneas, the fountain at Emmaus, the tree at Hermopolis (v. 21), were all miraculous centers. The spot where the Archangel Michael appeared (ii. 3), the places where the head of John the Baptist reposed (vii. 21), the tombs of monks, martyrs, and bishops,—as of Hilarion (iii. 14), Martyrius and Marcianus (iv. 3), Epiphanius (vii. 27),—were replete with restorative virtues. Sozomen had such a miracle wrought upon himself; he believed thoroughly in an uninterrupted stream of charismata; he deemed it necessary for the maintenance of the faith. He was no more credulous than Socrates, or Theodoret, or Evagrius, or Theodore. To criticise him for his belief in this respect is to forget the Christian consciousness of the age. And the historic school which seeks to eliminate the volume of testimony, in the assumption that miracles do not fall within the province of history, ignores the first law of that science, which requires the reproduction of all facts, in time and place, whatever they may be, that are affiliated with the evolution of the human will; that other older school which dismisses all ecclesiastical miracles on the a prioriassumption that these energies ceased at a time co-ordinate with the death of the Apostles, or at a point not far removed from their age, violates the spirit of induction. These miracles must be tested by evidence, and the laws of supernatural energy, and in no other way. To Sozomen and all his contemporaries the miracle appeared essential both to the proof of the divine origin of Christianity, and to offset and withstand the influence of the theurgic arts of the philosophers, such as Julianus and many of the Neoplatonists. As he remarks concerning the reply made by Alexander, bishop of Constantinople, when he silenced the philosopher by the simple authority of Christ, “It is then right to consider whether it is a greater miracle, that a man, and he a philosopher, should so easily be silenced by a word, or that a stone wall should be cleft by the power of a word, which miracle I have heard some attribute with pride to Julian, surnamed the Chaldean” (i. 18). The gift of prophecy is also represented as sustained throughout this period, and with the same logical aims in view. The monks are especially thus endowed: Antony (i. 13, vi. 5, 6), the two Macarii, Pachomius (iii. 14), Arsacius (iv. 16), John (vi. 28, vii. 22, vii. 28), Theon (vi. 28), Isaac (vi. 40); so the bishops Athanasius (iv. 10), Chrysostom and Epiphanius, rather abusively (viii. 15); so royal persons, such as the wife of Valens, passively (vi. 16), Pulcheria, directly and passively (ix. 3). The perpetuation of this charism was deemed inherently necessary for the sake of historical continuity, and to prove as well that the faith he loved had been established by God; equally was it requisite as a holy parallel whereby to gainsay the mantic spirit of Paganism; as is best illustrated in the silencing of the oracle at Daphne (v. 19), and by his reflections upon the philosophers tripod devised for finding the successor of Valens (vi. 35). Nor are Socrates, Theodoret, Evagrius, and others any more moderate than Sozomen in this respect.
3. Another aim of his history is to prove that Providence or the divine government is promoting the Christian faith directly. The universal order must be interpreting itself distinctly through the Church. The Father must be vindicating the good and punishing the wicked, according to the orthodox category. Sozomens history is as insistent in this regard as Eliphaz and his philosophic confreres. One must be able to decide infallibly in each case as to cause and effect; it is a very realistic pragmatism, and is not the exclusive property of Sozomen; it is a characteristic of all these Church historians.
p. 204 There is properly enough a recognition of God in history; the sovereign will and the human will are jointly working out the worlds order, but it is the attempt to trace the cause and effect immediately and in each case, which is so repulsive and absurd. Some illustrations will show how he brings out this view. In i. 7 the comment made on Constantines overthrow of Licinius: “From many facts it has often appeared to me that the teaching of the Christians is supported, and its advancement secured, by the Providence of God, and not the least from what then occurred; for at the very moment that Licinius was about to persecute all the churches under him, the war in Bithynia broke out, which ended in a war between him and Constantine, and in which Constantine was so strengthened by Divine assistance, that he was victorious over his enemies by land and by sea.” More of detail comes out in the life of Athanasius. Thus in ii. 17, of his election he says: “Alexander, bishop of Alexandria, when about to depart this life, left Athanasius as his successor, in accordance, I am convinced, with the Divine will, directing the vote upon him.” And again: “He fled to escape the honor, but he was discovered in his place of concealment by the help of God, who had forecast by Divine manifestations to his blessed predecessors, that the succession was to devolve upon him.” His whole career is so viewed in v. 6. There is a large discussion of this subject in vi. 35, where he argues against the plan of pagan philosophers to foretell the future of the empire: “The philosophers, on the other hand, acted as if the deposition and restoration of emperors had depended solely on them; for if the imperial succession was to be considered dependent on the arrangement of the stars, what was requisite but to await the accession of the future emperor, whoever he might be? Or, if the succession was regarded as dependent on the will of God, what right had man to meddle? For it is not the function of human foreknowledge or zeal to understand Gods thought; nor if it were right, would it be well for men, even if they be the wisest of all, to think that they can plan better than God.” He persists in tracing a connection between God and every event in favor of mechanical goodness or orthodoxy. He follows many opponents, whether heretical or pagan, with the Divine wrath; all these historians do this,—Philostorgius, as well as Evagrius. Sozomen is not nearly so bitter or uncharitable as either of these. He is most atrabilious in the case of Julian, under whom his own family had suffered. As a consequence of this arbitrary pious pragmatism, the most deplorable incompetents are treated as the express favorites of heaven, while the larger-minded pagan or Arian is loaded with contempt. Under this law, too, the evil sides of the orthodox, and the excellences of the pagan, or Arians, are suppressed. The defeats of the Nicene emperors are not mentioned; the victories of the Anti-Nicene are passed by or belittled, while their humiliations are evidence of the impending anger of heaven. In the survey of Helenas life (ii. 2) he says: “It seems to me that so many holy actions demanded a recompense, and indeed even in this life she was raised to the summit of magnificence.” As to Constantine, in ii. 34 he dares say: “He was more successful than any other sovereign in all his undertakings; for he formed no design, I am convinced, without God.” When Bishop Felix of Rome died, and Liberius became sole occupant of the see, he construes the fact thus: “This event was no doubt ordained by God, that the seat of Peter might not be dishonored by the occupancy of two bishops; for such an arrangement is a sign of discord, and is foreign to ecclesiastical law” (iv. 15). In all the features of Julians life, God is visiting him with his unappeasable anger (vi. 35, v. 21, 22, vi. 1, 2). The election of Nectarius, though it was in violation of ecclesiastical order and an accumulation of ignorant blunders, did not take place without the interposition of Divine strength (vii. 8). Theodosius is portrayed as the prime delight of heaven; thus his simple reliance upon God wins him a hopeless battle with Eugenius (vii. 24). It is so with the whole Theodosian line (viii. 1, ix. 1). Pulcheria has Divine love manifested to her in manifold ways, as does her brother, Theodosius the Younger (ix. 1, 3, 16). Even Alaric is driven by an inexplicable impulse to rebuke the luxury, debauchery, and injustice of the Romans (ix. 6). In ix. 1, he says of his own sovereign: “It appears to me that it was the design of God to show by the events of this period, that piety alone suffices for the salvation of p. 205 princes; and that without piety, armies, a powerful empire, and every other resource, are of no avail. The Divine power, which is the guardian of the universe, foresaw that the emperor would be distinguished by his piety, and determined that Pulcheria, his sister, should be the protector of him and of the government.” In ix. 16, he explains his secular details in the paragraph: “This is not the proper place to enter into details concerning the deaths of the tyrants; but I considered it necessary to allude to the circumstance in order to show, that to insure the stability of imperial power, it is sufficient for an emperor to serve God with reverence, which was the course pursued by Honorius.” While of his patron he says: “It seems as if God openly manifested His favor towards the present emperor, not only by disposing of warlike affairs in an unexpected way, but also by revealing the sacred bodies of many persons who were of old most distinguished for piety.” The whole history is full of this sort of philosophy of its personages. Similarly all natural calamities and the irruption of barbarians are ethically explained, which is correct enough as a general principle; but these phenomena are punitive or vindicatory of particular deeds. Constantius course toward Athanasius was heralded by an invasion of the Franks, and by an earthquake in the East (iii. 6). Of Julian he says: “It is, however, very obvious that throughout the reign of this emperor, God gave manifest tokens of His displeasure and permitted many calamities to befall several of the provinces of the Roman Empire. He visited the earth with such fearful earthquakes, that the buildings were shaken, and no more safety could be found within houses than in the open air.” Then follow the inundations of the Nile; the drought and the famine in the empire, and on their heels the pestilences (vi. 2). Under Valens we read: “In the meantime although hail-storms of extraordinary magnitude fell in various places, and although many cities, particularly Nicæa in Bithynia, were shaken by earthquakes, yet Valens the emperor and Eudoxius the bishop paused not in their career, but continued to persecute all Christians who differed from them in opinion” (vi. 10). He does not make the same reflection upon Constantius, when the earthquake at Nicomedia intercepted the meeting of a council (iv. 16); Gaïnas attempted revolution is “pre-announced by the appearance of a comet directly over the city; this comet was of extraordinary magnitude, larger, it is said, than any that had previously been seen” (viii. 3). After Chrysostoms exile, “hailstones of extraordinary magnitude fell at Constantinople and in the suburbs of the city. Four days afterwards, the wife of the emperor died. These occurrences were regarded by many as indications of Divine wrath, on account of the persecutions that had been carried on against John” (viii. 27).
But the earthquakes and famines and invasions that happened under Theodosius the Great and Theodosius Junior are not mentioned directly. By such unfair pragmatism Sozomen, as all his fellow-historians, sought to answer the allegations, now more directly affirmed, in the period of barbarian irruption, that the calamities were due to the desertion of the gods. Sulpicius Severus, Augustine, and Orosius built up a somewhat better apology.
4. Another object he kept before him, we will let him state in his own words: “The doctrine of the Catholic Church is shown to be especially the most genuine, since it has been tested frequently by the plots of opposing thinkers; yet, the disposal of the lot being of God, the Catholic Church has maintained its own ascendancy, has re-assumed its own power, and has led all the churches and the people to the reception of its own truth” (i. 1). Catholicity and Orthodoxy, as defined at Nicæa, are synonymous. The creed of the fathers is final. The Church which spoke in 325 and 381 is the historic and Catholic Church, and the Theodosian line is the Divinely appointed instrument for laying its foundations immovably, the others having failed. Church and State are to be indissolubly wedded. This faith is made mechanically the test of goodness and badness, and this expresses his personal belief.
He speaks of the Scriptures with uniform reverence, and holds to the θεωρία as the method of interpretation, as we see in v. 22, where he says of the Jews: “They were only acquainted with the mere letter of Scripture, and could not, like the Christians and a few of the wisest among the Hebrews, discover the hidden meaning (πρὸς θεωρίαν)”; yet he speaks with respect (viii. 2) p. 206 of Chrysostoms way of expounding the sacred records and of his “teacher Diodorus method, employed in the many books of that bishop,” in which he explained the significance of the sacred words and avoided allegory (θεωρία). But when bishops and monks are declared to be skilled in the Scriptures, it is in this mystical sense. His own grandfather was a solver of the amphibolies of the Word, doubtless by this convenient key (v. 5).
The dogmatic standpoint, as we have seen, was traditionalism, toward which the Church gravitated under the dictation of the councils, the influence of bishops like Athanasius, the almost uniform ictus of the Roman see, Ambrose, the Gregories, Basil the Great, Ephraim, Eusebius, and Epiphanius, the majority of monks, and finally the whole force of the State. He opposes all shades of Arianism, as also Apolinarianism; had he completed his work, from what he says of Pulcherias conquest over heresies, he would have opposed the Nestorian views of the Theotokos. But of Donatism and Cyprianism he has not a word. Of the anthropological struggles of the West there is not a syllable. Here is the place, also, to consider his attitude toward heresies. Sozomen does not assail any phase of Arianism with the intemperate epithets which Eusebius employed to condemn the earlier innovators, or such as abound in Theodoret and Evagrius and later historians. Indeed, he sometimes calls them Christians and members of the Catholic Church. His treatment of the Novatians, while a little offish, is yet generous as compared with other writers, except Socrates, from whom he obtains almost all their history; he devotes much space; he is generally courteous in tone; and when he speaks of the proposed union (iv. 2) between the Catholic Church and that body of believers, he omits the cause of the failure; viz., the reluctance of some legalistic Novatians to acquiesce,—a point which Socrates does not fail to expose. He mentions Montanism (Phrygianism) several times, but with no new facts, save that they were numerous in Phrygia in his day, and had peculiar Paschal usages (i. 6, ii. 18, 32, vii. 18, 19). Of the Gnostic sects, he alludes to the Valentinians only, whose conventicles were repressed by an edict of Constantius (ii. 32). The Manichæans are mentioned only as they are one of the three sects excepted from Gratians law of toleration (vii. 1). Of the Pricillianists, whose attempt at a world religion falls so wholly within his time, he says nothing. The Quartodecimanians are still numerous and tenacious (vii. 18). He has a bare allusion to the Encratites (v. 11). Of the Origenistic controversy, he has no more to say than he is compelled to, in order to state correctly the conflict between Theophilus and Chrysostom. Over against the Origenists he places the Anthropomorphists (viii. 12). Of Lucifers separatism, he gives only the rise (iii. 15). With all his emphatic adherence to the current orthodoxy, he must be regarded as the most charitable of historians next to Socrates. Mention has already been made of his kindly disposition toward the Novatians. When writing fully and favorably, as was his duty, about Aëtius (iii. 15), he is constrained to make an apology: “Let it not be accounted strange if I have bestowed commendations upon the leaders or enthusiasts of the above-mentioned heresies. I admire their eloquence and their impressiveness in discourse: I leave their doctrines to be judged by those whose prerogative it is.”
On the one hand, we find him insisting on the right of private judgment, as when he discusses the overruling Providence in Julians life, and especially on the infatuation which led the emperor to Persia in spite of Sallust (vi. 1): “This observation, however, is only inserted lest I should be blamed for omitting it. I leave every one to form his own opinion.” So, after discussing the use of penance, he remarks in the following chapter (vii. 17): “Such subjects as the above, however, are best left to the decision of individual judgment.” He would also allow latitude in ceremonials (vii. 19), as we shall see. On the other hand, he dreads the progressive and unsettling outcome of the private judgment in exercise. He expresses this fear in iv. 27: “The spirit of innovation is self-laudatory; hence it advanced farther and farther, and crept along to greater novelties. With increasing self-conceit, and in scorn of the fathers, it enacted laws of its own. Nor does it honor the doctrine of the ancients concerning God, but is always excogitating strange dogmas and restlessly adds novelty to novelty, as the events now show.”
p. 207 Of the threatening strategies of free thought in his own day, he devoutly exclaimed: “That new heresies have not prevailed in our times, we shall find to be due especially to her” (Pulcheria) (ix. 1). Consequently he deprecates the deleterious influence of polemics. On the accession of Jovian, he says: “The presidents of the churches now resumed the agitation of doctrinal questions and discussions. They had remained quiet during the reign of Julian, when Christianity itself was endangered, and had unanimously offered up their supplications for the mercy of God. It is thus that men, when attacked by foreign enemies, remain in accord among themselves; but when external troubles are removed, then internal dissensions creep in” (vi. 4 and in vi. 25).
“Thus do the private animosities of the clergy from time to time greatly injure the Church and divide religion into many heresies! And this is a proof; for had George, like Theodotus, received Apolinarius, on his repentance, into communion, I believe that we should never have heard of the heresy that bears his name. Men are prone, when loaded with opprobrium and contempt, to resort to rivalries and innovations; whereas, when treated with justice, they become moderate and remain in the same position.” More emphatic still is his protest in vi. 26: “Those varying dogmas are the source of innumerable troubles to religion, and many are deterred from embracing Christianity by the diversity of opinion which prevails in matters of doctrine.” In the beginning of this same chapter, in speaking of the Eunomians, he delineates them thus: “They do not applaud a good course of life or manner of conduct, or mercy towards the needy, unless exhibited by persons of their own sect, so much as skill in disputation and the power of triumphing in debates.” This is a great blow at the sectores cymini, and at pride in polemics; the whole tone is much more liberal than that of the ecclesiastic Theodoret, or even the lawyer Evagrius. Sozomen, like Socrates, represents a generous feeling current among the laymen of Constantinople in court and among the trades and professions. The attitude of the Catholic Church with regard to baptism he sets forth adequately as trivial, and argues against the Eunomian innovation of one baptism and a change in the formula (vi. 21): “But whether it was Eunomius or any other person who first made these innovations upon the tradition of baptism, it seems to me that such innovators, whoever they may have been, were alone in danger, according to their own representation, of quitting this life without having received Divine baptism.” The argument here is an unusually long one; with his generation he held to the magical efficacy of the rite. The theory of the sacraments as mysteries or arcane, was one which controlled him throughout, and even limited his fidelity as a historian. Thus in i. 20: “I thought it necessary to reproduce the very document (the Nicene Creed) concerning these matters, as an example of the truth, in order that posterity might possess in a fixed and clear form, the symbol of that faith which proved pacifying at the time; but since some pious friends who understood such matters, recommended that these truths ought to be spoken of and heard by the initiated and their initiators only, I agreed with their counsel: for it is not unlikely that some of the uninitiated may read this book: while I have concealed such of the prohibited material as I ought to keep silent about, I have not altogether left the reader ignorant of the opinions held by the Synod.” Nor will he repeat the symbol as subjoined to the letter of the council of Antioch (vi. 4); and when the Macedonian commission to Liberius make their statement, and the text is given to show their entire acceptance of the Nicene view, Sozomen will not reproduce it. Again in vi. 29, Mark was a monk of “such eminent piety, that Macarius himself, the presbyter of Celliæ, declared that he had never given to him what priests present to the initiated at the holy table; but that an angel, administering it to him, whose hand up to the forearm, he declared himself to have seen.” In viii. 5, in giving the account of a marvelous judgment wrought on a Macedonian wife, who pretended to be a convert to the Nicene views, and thus frequented the orthodox ceremony of the Supper, he remarks, “At the time of the celebration of the mysteries (the initiated will understand what I mean), this woman kept what was given her, and held down her head as if engaged in prayer.” In reciting the disturbances at the Easter celebration over the decree of exile against Chrysostom (viii. 21), he says: “They p. 208 were charged with the commission of such disorderly acts as can be readily conceived by those who have been admitted to the mysteries, but which I consider it requisite to pass over in silence, lest my work should fall into the hands of the uninitiated.” Here we have a glimpse of the scope of the arcane as well as the weakness of the historian in submitting to the advice of narrow friends; no other historian felt bound to restrict himself in such matters. Sozomen here joined the most extreme sacramentarians of his day. On the weighty matter of discipline, he believes with the Catholic Church in receiving back the penitent into the Church, against Novatian and Donatistic practices. He expresses his opinion at some length, though not so fully as Socrates, in the chapter which relates to the abolition of the penitential presbyter (vii. 16): “Impeccability is a Divine attribute, and belongs not to human nature; therefore God has decreed that pardon should be extended to the penitent even after many transgressions. As in supplicating for pardon, it is requisite to confess the sin, it seems probable that the priests, from the beginning, considered it irksome to make this confession in public, before the whole assembly of the people. They appointed a presbyter of the utmost sanctity and the most undoubted prudence, to act on those occasions: the penitents went to him and confessed their transgressions; and it was his office to indicate the kind of penance adapted to each sin, and then when satisfaction had been made, to pronounce absolution.” He deplores the abolition of the office as the occasion of laxity. The deterrent force of public confession was now lost, and that to the danger of Christian conduct. He sympathizes also with that form of martyrdom which wantonly and ruthlessly assails paganism and is slain in the attempt. The system of relic-worship, so characteristic of any decline of opportunity for heroic action, had set in overwhelmingly, and he believed in it vigorously. Our own age reproduces the same tendency not only in religious, but in secular forms, and among Protestants as well. Thus he commemorates: of Old Testament prophets, Micah and Habakkuk (vii. 29), Zechariah (ix. 17); of the preparatory period, the head of John the Baptist (vii. 21); of the Apostolic Church, St. Stephen (vii. 29, ix. 16); of the martyrs, Babylas (v. 19), Forty Soldiers (ix. 2); of the monks, Hilarion (iii. 14), the four brothers (vii. 9). The most prominent of secondary relics is the cross with its inscriptions and nails (ii. 1). The discovery of these is mainly through prayer and heavenly signs; their possession is an object of imperial ambition; the removal and transportation of them are effected with most gorgeous and reverent pomp; and the sacred treasures become the agents of endless miracles.
Sozomen, like Socrates and Chrysostom, believes in freedom as to old-time ceremonials. He has a chapter on the varieties of religious usage (vii. 19); and the record is largely the result of his own inquiry. He remarks in conclusion: “Many other customs are still to be observed in cities and villages; and those who have been brought up in their observance would, from respect to the great men who instituted and perpetuated these customs, consider it wrong to abolish them. Similar motives must be attributed to those who observe different practices in the celebration of the fast, which has led us into this long digression.” From his point of view, uniformity may not encroach upon individualism beyond a certain point. He is certainly quietly and with dignity attacking a party of narrow uniformitarians, who are already pressing for a harmony of all ceremonials in Christendom.
Another feature of the Catholic system that he traces carefully, is the relation between Church and Empire. He devotes more attention to this aspect of polity than to its internal development; this latter he touches upon incidentally, and not at all carefully. We have seen how painstakingly he cites the imperial edicts with regard to the Church. The state laws, which at first expressed conciliar decisions, were followed by independent imperial enactments. These, indeed, are at first sporadic, but become more and more the rule. The personal views of Sozomen appear in the narrative, but they are fluctuating. He acquiesces in the imperial convocation of councils, as do all his cotemporaries. On the death of Constantine, in commenting upon the hereafter fixed Christian character of the state, he says: “The sacerdotal dignity p. 209 is not only equal in honor to imperial power, but in sacred places even takes the ascendancy” (ii. 34). With the plan of producing uniformity of religion in the empire, he seems to sympathize (iv. 11). He is indignant at Julians indifference to the murder of Zeno by the inhabitants of Gaza, and at the deprivations of the Christians, when all their political and personal rights were taken from them (v. 9). To the charge of Libanius, that the man who aimed the dart at Julian was a Christian, and belonged to the race of habitual transgressors of the law, Sozomen replies by defending the regicide: “In the documents above quoted, Libanius clearly states that the emperor fell by the hand of a Christian; and this probably was the truth. It is not unlikely that some of the soldiers who then served in the Roman army might have conceived the idea, since Greeks and all men until this day have praised tyrannicides, for exposing themselves to death in the cause of liberty, and spiritedly standing by their country, their families, and their friends. Still less is he deserving of blame, who for the sake of God and of religion, performed so bold a deed” (vi. 2). This is the highest stand that a lawyer could take in support of individualism. In his view of the exalted prerogatives of the Church, the reply of Valentinian to the bishops, who desired to hold a council, would seem happy. “I am but one of the laity, and have, therefore, no right to interfere in these transactions; let the priests, to whom such matters appertain, assemble where they please” (vi. 7). Theodosius compulsory course with regard to paganism and orthodoxy, and the choice of Nectarius, are approved. On the other hand, he selected two instances out of many from the life of Ambrose, for the purpose of illustrating how, in Gods behalf, that bishop conducted himself towards those in power (vii. 25).
Throughout we find him recognizing the practical headship of Rome; he expresses himself unconsciously in vi. 22, “The question having been thus decided by the Roman Church, peace was restored and the inquiry ended.” This ignores the action of the Synod of Alexandria and that of Constantinople itself, for both had decreed the consubstantiality of the Holy Spirit and opposed the christology of Apolinarius, prior to the action of the Roman Synod. The power delegated to Julius by the council of Sardica (iii. 8), the conflict between the East and the West conducted in mutually arrogant epistles (iii. 10), the subordination of new to old Rome (vii. 9), show the drift toward concentration. Sozomen does not seem to understand the rival movements of Alexandria under Athanasius and Theophilus; nor the Eastern imperial attempts to elevate Constantinople to the supremacy, nor the mutterings of Antiochan jealousy.
The Churchs servility toward the orthodox rulers is fairly expressed, and yet with comparative moderation, by Sozomen. He is an apologist for Constantine, and reflects, as do all the historians, and especially Evagrius in his criticism of Zosimus, the adulations and subterfuges of Eusebius. The religious fluctuation of that emperor is masked; his crimes are suppressed; he is made to appear orthodox, even when at his worst Eusebian stage. No wonder that Philostorgius charged the Homoöusians with worshiping Constantine as a god in the ceremonies connected with his image! Constantius, a vacillating, cruel, incompetent, is also apologized for, but to the damage of his intelligence. Julian, for his years in some respects, one of the most promising and earnest rulers of ancient times, is loaded with obloquy, his highest motives and ideals ridiculed, his victories belittled, his death savagely exulted in. Jovians and Valentinians toleration are not understood, but their personal orthodoxy is in so far praised. Valens is looked at through the eyes of his two fierce Cappadocian assailants. His excellences are entirely ignored; the most inconsequent views are imputed to him while attempting to glorify Basil; in the sad story of the emperors dying son, that bishop appears as a brute in his treatment of the agonized father. The stories of heroism attributed to the orthodox are only examples of insufferable insolence; one must marvel at the patience of Valens, if there be any truth in them. Gratian, that beau-ideal of Western orthodoxy, was really a nose of wax in the hands of Ambrose; he was esteemed more moderately by the East, and that rather for having called Theodosius to a share in the throne, than for any quality in himself; but his utter moral collapse, after the magnificent promise of his youth, is wholly veiled from sight. Theodosius the Great is glorified, not for his superior statecraft and p. 210 generalship, but for his efforts to suppress paganism and heresy. The charges against his private life such as Eunapius and Zosimus suggest, are not hinted at. He is a man of prayer and visions, a relic-worshiper, and a persecutor of pagans and Arians. Great as he certainly was, his distinguishing and conspicuous qualities are passed by. His pitiful children, Arcadius and Honorius, the sorriest quidnuncs of those stormy times, are heroes of piety. Pulcheria, excellent as she was, was not worthy of the excessive flattery poured out upon her; while Anthemius, Troïlus, Valerianus, and other noble figures of the day are passed by. The younger Theodosius, with his good training and generally fair endeavor, is delineated in the dedication as the consummate man of all time, while he is a very third-rate soul at best. The eulogies by Socrates (vii. 22 and 42) are just as fulsome. This was the grave sin of the State Church; the Arian State Church did the same for Constantius and Valens; more and more as history reveals the truth concerning many of those idols, does the revulsion increase against a union of two functions which could so degrade both.
The relation of Church and State involves the question of persecution. It is not the history of the endeavor to enforce uniformity, with which we shall concern ourselves, but rather the views Sozomen sets forth, as to the policy of repression. The laws of Constantine suppressing heretics did not affect the Novatians (ii. 32), concerning which justice, he remarks: “The emperor, I believe, willingly relaxed the rigor of the enactment in their favor, for he only desired to strike terror into the minds of his subjects, and had no intention of persecuting them.” The punishments inflicted in Constantius time on the orthodox in Constantinople, both by Macedonius (iv. 23) and Eudoxius (iv. 26), call forth this reflection: “For, if the persecution did not occasion such tortures to the body as preceding ones, it appeared more grievous to all who reflected aright, on account of its disgraceful nature, for both the persecutors and the persecuted belonged to the Church; and the one was all the more disgraceful in that men of the same religion treated their fellows with a degree of cruelty which the ecclesiastical laws prohibit to be manifested towards enemies and strangers.” He spares himself the pain of registering all who were ejected from their sees (iv. 27), for no province was without its list of sufferers. The cruelties inflicted by George on pagan and orthodox, furnish a mournful narrative (iv. 30). On the elevation of Julian, a great dread fell upon the Christian world, intensified by the portents which befell him. The series of edicts soon wrought mutual dissension in the Christian ranks, as well as suffering from without. But while Sozomen attributes the refinements of cruelty to Julian, and lays the miseries of the saints at his door as parts of a subtle plan, he nevertheless cannot conceal from himself the absence of direct interference on the part of the State; these calamities were the results of a restoration of the old religion to its ancient union with the State; it was an imperial act; and he is compelled to confess the seeming magnanimity of Julian in certain cases, but even then maligns his motives. The imperial clemency did not arise from any feeling of compassion, but because persecution would only increase the number of Galilean adherents; because he was envious of their glory, did he resort to argument instead of cruelty, and manifest an unexpected benevolence instead of proceeding to rigorous measures (v. 4, 5). “It may be concluded from what has been said, that if Julian shed less blood than preceding persecutors of the Church, and that if he devised fewer punishments for the torture of the body, yet that he was severer in other respects.” Nevertheless, this statement is followed by a record of suffering in all quarters of the empire and the impression of purposed directness is given, as if the State had inflicted them, especially when we read that the emperor would not listen to the cautions of Sallust (v. 20). He does not comment on Jovians toleration, but only rejoices in the return of the Church to ascendancy. Unsparing is his picture of the dastardly measures of Valens against the professors of the faith; he regards that persecutor as the special victim of Divine wrath; while, on the other hand, he does not hesitate to call the Arian Goths, who fell under the anger of Athanaric, martyrs (vi. 37). He does not express an opinion as to the partial toleration of Gratians edict (vii. 1); but in explanation of Theodosius law forbidding heretics, i.e. all anti-Nicenists, from holding churches and from exercising any clerical function, he says: “Great as were the punishments p. 211 adjudged by the laws against heretics, they were not always carried into execution; for the emperor had no desire to persecute his subjects; he only desired to enforce uniformity of view about God through the medium of intimidation. Those who voluntarily renounced heretical opinions, received commendation from him.” And it is true that the court practice of persecuting emperors, orthodox or Arian, was utterly in the teeth of their own edicts, and their most intimate counselors were elected without regard to religion. When Justina sought to revive the Arian standard in the West, her treatment of Ambrose is called persecution (vii. 13); but Ambroses intolerant procedures against the Arians are not even noticed. No quizzical wrinkle disturbs the flow of his narrative in vii. 15, when Theodosius I. gives a heathen temple to the Christians, and the pagans resolve to defend their rights, and do so effectually; but the Christians who perish in that hateful conflict are crowned as martyrs by an imperial edict! For the religious tyranny of Theodosius the Great he is a warm apologist, and disguises the perversion of that principle of freedom for which he pleads most earnestly, when the Arians hold the reins of power, and abuse their opportunity. The contradictions are perfectly apparent and irreconcilable, because uniformity by force has always been impossible. Yet logical men will state the most contradictory reasons, which no quidnunc can refrain from laughing at. Themistius plea for toleration (vi. 36) in matters of intellectual belief, on the ground of secular diversities in philosophy and from the incomprehensible nature of God, shows the existence of a party who believed in this principle. While Sozomen gives it place, and hailed the Gothic Arians who compelled Valens to cease his oppressions, he has no word of approbation for the proposition or the argument.
5. Another design of his history is stated in i. 1: “I have had to deliberate whether I ought to confine myself to the recital of events connected with the Church under the Roman government; but it seemed more advisable to include, as far as possible, the record of transactions relative to religion among the Persians and barbarians.” He regards Christianity as the universal and sole religion, and would trace its extension in all directions. Hence he is the first historian to give us a larger account of religion in Syria and Palestine, introducing us especially to some aspects of Christian life and suffering in Edessa; we are all the more surprised to have no mention of the Church in Africa, and so very little of the Church in the West, except when it comes into close relations with the East, as in the larger controversies, and especially after Arianism threatened to keep its hold upon the Byzantine section of the empire; and the Orient had to cry to the cold and unsympathetic Occident for help, and often in vain. He is also careful to give us some, if not a very original, account of the work of missions. He repeats the story of the Iberians, Armenians, Indians, Saracens, and Goths. He gives us a larger insight into Persia; the errors with which he is charged as swarming, are no more numerous than those of his cotemporaries. Of the large work of Theophilus of Dhu, or the extension of Arianism among the Germanic tribes, he says nothing. Chrysostoms real missionary enterprises are passed by, excepting his expenditure of the funds furnished by Olympias for the redemption and restoration of Isaurian captives (viii. 27). His reflections on the methods of Church extension are more interesting and numerous. Thus, in ii. 5, of the attempt of Constantine to abolish idolatry and introduce the faith, Sozomen says, “Soldiers were not necessary; the courtiers effected it”; he does not consider it advisable to give all the details as to all the lands then won to the state religion. The barbarians he notices as converted through the instrumentality of Christian captives (ii. 6, 7). Armenian influence carried Christianity into Persia (ii. 8). Prodigies, too, are helpful agents (vi. 5, v. 22). The hieroglyphs and crux-symbols discovered in the Egyptian temples led to the repentance of pagans (vii. 15). Sometimes a kingdom will solicit the instruction of an orthodox monk, as in the case of the Saracens (vi. 38). The legal suppressions of paganism facilitate a change of sentiment on the part of many (vii. 15). The very ambitions of their clergy led numbers of the Arians to embrace Nicene views (vii. 17); and the doctrinal discussions among heretics constrain others to embrace a more uniform system of belief (viii. 1). The p. 212 efficiency of the monks as evangelists is found in nearly all the biographies of them. On the other hand, he makes confession to the baleful effects of incessant indulgence in polemics. “These varying dogmas are the sources of innumerable troubles to religion; and many are deterred from embracing Christianity by the diversity of opinion which prevails in matters of doctrine” (vi. 26). This thought of universality, then, is a feature of his history.
6. Another design is to dignify monasticism as the true ethical ideal and goal of Christianity,—as the philosophy which is to supplant all the ancient intellectual strivings of reason,—and he announces this purpose as follows: “Nor is it foreign to ecclesiastical history to introduce in this work an account of those who were the fathers and originators of what is denominated monachism, and of their immediate successors, whose celebrity is well known to us either by observation or report. For I would neither be considered ungracious towards them, nor willing to consign their virtue to oblivion, nor yet be thought ignorant of their history; but would wish to leave behind me such a record of their manner of life that others, led by their example, might attain to a blessed and happy end” (i. 1). He is here quietly resisting a school of Christians and politicians who were opposed to the absorbing and destructive qualities of this manner of life; Athanasius, Basil the Great, Jerome, Chrysostom, had to write in its defense for the same reason, and he sided with these supporters of its virtues, very naturally. He is a full believer in the Divine philosophy which nurtured him; monasticism with its practical strivings after conformity to the Divine-human Pattern, and its attempt to enthrone the spiritual over the material has a zealous defender in him, of all its rapt and grotesque forms. He determined therefore to make it a unique portion of his history. The discussion of its aims in i. 12 will give us a clue to his own desire to represent it as almost the resultant force in the progress of the Divine kingdom; one reads the historians responsive feeling between the lines. This philosophy was the most useful thing received by man from God; it was superior to all other knowledge, and warranted the neglect of all worldly science; it strove to eliminate the adiaphora from ethics, and to make everything have a moral complexion; one must be doing good, or else he is doing evil. Its great duties are the discipline of self, the worship of the Creator, and the cultivation of a spirit of other-worldness. These canons and goals are the life of the system. It is the philosophy which is to take the place of the old theoretical schemes; and it is the great school to fill up the gap made by the decay of the Hellenic universities. The Christian university founded by Theodosius in Sozomens day, was indeed a blow to this educational ideal. While we may have no accord with his view of this ethical phenomenon, we must concede him the merit of discerning its significance and intent, and allow that he was wise to give us so full an account of its elaboration, and so much detail and scrap of biography; for it was a dominant element in the history of this time. It formed men and measures. The reproach of Sozomen on this score is wholly a mistake; he has done us capital service in not neglecting this element, otherwise we could have but little conception of its historical setting, of its patience, its tireless devotion, and we would have to resort to Palladius or Rufinus and the individual biographies. Moreover, it is an uncritical spirit which recoils from dissecting the awful and often repulsive details of legalistic self-denial. After discoursing on the local origin of monasticism and the forms it assumed, we have chapters containing brief sketches of hermits, laurists, and cœnobites (i. 12, 13, 14, iii. 14). The people looked to the monks for the color of their theology (iv. 10). Arianism felt its weakness without them and ineffectually sought their suppression (vi. 20). The Nicene faith uniformly received the support of these communities (vi. 27), to which they remained devoted under all persecutions. Another series of biographies follows in vi. 28–34: Theophilus (viii. 12) has a preliminary struggle with them to carry forward his plots against John. The royal court itself under Pulcherias leadership reflected its severe discipline (ix. 13). Sozomen seems also to have studied the rules of various bodies, some of whose details he gives, and indulges in a sort of comparative study of their regulations (vi. 30). Yet with all his implied admiration of the heroes of this system, who went to the almost extreme of abstinence, he remarks in reviewing the p. 213 discipline of Theotimus (vii. 26): “I consider it to be the part of the philosopher to yield to the demand of these appetites from necessity, and not from the love of sensual gratification.” It is to be noted that he omits for the most part the immoral forms of monasticism, such as Evagrius gives us a highly rhetorical account of.
7. A more subordinate aim is to present selected secular matters so-called; he does not consider these to be wholly foreign to the scope of his work. He handles such with considerable largeness in Constantines life, and keeps up a thread under Constantius and Julian. He is more sparing until he reaches Arcadius and Honorius, and the chapters 3–15 of Book ix. are largely devoted to the Western struggles with usurpers.
8. A final and subordinate aim is the development of imperial law with regard to the Church; he gives little of purely synodical canons, but remarks, “I consider it necessary, however, to mention the laws enacted for the honor and consolidation of religion, as they constitute a considerable portion of ecclesiastical history.” And in the next chapter, “Having arrived at this point of my history, it would not be right to omit all mention of the laws passed in favor of those individuals in the churches, who had received their freedom” (i. 9). We have already seen how continuously this plan is sustained.
His Method. 1. He is conscious of certain limitations, and expresses them frankly. (a) A modest estimate of his own powers (Proemium, i. 1). (b) The excess of material compels him to a constant process of selection (ii. 3, 5, 14, iii. 14, 15, 16, iv. 4, 27, vii. 17, 28, ix. 1. (c) A sense of incapacity to handle some aspects of doctrine (vii. 17). (d) An occasional insufficiency of data to state a positive conclusion (iv. 2, viii. 16).
2. He acknowledges the need of research, and presents his ideal purpose in i. 7: “I shall record the transactions with which I have been connected, and also those concerning which I have heard from persons who knew or saw the affairs in our own day, or before our own generation. But I have sought for records of events of earlier date amongst the established laws appertaining to religion, amongst the proceedings of the Synods of the period, amongst the innovations that arose, and in the epistles of kings and priests.” His recurring intention was to reproduce the documents just as they were, but he finally decided to epitomize their contents and to present the entire instrument, only when the state of controversy compelled it in order to fairness. The difficulty in the way of consulting these sources lay in the fact of their dispersion in palaces, churches, and the private libraries of the erudite. He anticipates criticism by acknowledging that contradictions are likely to appear in his work, not from any fault of his own, but because of the partisan and arbitrary nature of the documents; he ingenuously confesses that mens passions and conceptions have shaped many of these writings, and that the factious spirit has often been guilty of the willful omission of material, which was not of its side. He distinctly avers that he felt it his duty to examine all writings of this class according to his ability. Such was his intention. If now we turn to his actual methods, we can group his ways of accumulating material, somewhat as follows:—
(b) By obtaining a personally clear knowledge, the medium being undefined, as in the election of Maximus to be bishop of Jerusalem, and Macarius sympathy therewith; here his better information was probably due to his Palestinian origin. ᾽Ιστέον μέντοι ὡς οἱ τάδε ἠκριβωκότες, κατὰ γνώμην Μακαρίου γενέσθαί τε καὶ σπουδασθῆναι τῷ πλήθει ταῦτα, ἰσχυρίζονται (ii. 20). As to Serapion and Severianus τὰ μὲν ὧδε ἔγνων (viii. 10). As to Zechariah, where the same phrase occurs (ix. 17). At the close of a universal review of monasticism τάδε ἔγνων ὡς συνέγραψα (iii. 14). As to the Syrian and Persian monks εἰς γνῶσιν ἐμὴν ἦλθον (vi. 34). ᾽Αλλὰ τὰ μὲν ἀφηγησάμην ἐφ᾽ ὅσον μοι μαθεῖν ἐξεγένετο, περὶ τῶν τότε ἐκκλησιαστικῶν φιλοσόφων (vi. 35).
(c) By hearing from those who knew the facts ἅπερ παρὰ ἀκριβῶς ἐπισταμένων ἀκήκοα (ii. 21). As to Arsacius: οἳ παρὰ τῶν ᾽Αρσάκιον αὐτὸν θεασαμένων ἀκηκοέναι ἔφασαν (iv. 16). As to the mutual prophecies of Epiphanius and John κἀκεῖνον δὲ εἰσέτι νῦν πολλῶν ὄντα τὸν λόγον ἐπυθόμην (viii. 15). As to Atticus: καὶ τὸν μὲν τοιόνδε γενέσθαι φασὶν, οἵ γε τὸν ἄνδρα ἔγνωσαν (viii. 27).
p. 214 (d) The correction of a false story by inquiring of trustworthy persons. Thus as to the origin of the Apocalypse of Paul. ᾽Ερομένῳ δέ μοι περὶ τούτου, ψεῦδος ἔφησεν εἶναι Κίλιξ (vii. 19). As to an accusation against John: τούτου δὲ πρόφασιν ἑτέραν λέγειν οὐκ ἔχω, πλὴν ὅτι ἀψευδής τις οἶμαι πυθανομένῳ περὶ τούτου ἔφη, κ.τ.λ. (viii. 9). The true and twofold causes of difficulty between Theophilus and Isadore: τῶν γε μὴν συγγενομένων τούτοις τότε τοῖς μοναχοῖς ἀνδρὸς οἵου πιστεύεσθαι ἐπυθόμην, κ.τ.λ (viii. 12).
(e) To these may be added the very frequent usage of πυνθάνομαι as a means of expressing his knowledge acquired in any form whatsoever, by hearing, by inquiry, by tradition (i. 21, ii. 8, iii. 14, iv. 25, v. 2, 9, vi. 2 bis, 17, 34 bis, 37, vii. 8, 15, 17, 20, 21, 25, viii. 2, 7, 9, 19).
(f) Also his use of ἀκριβόω, showing his effort to attain accurate information, and ἰσχυρίζομαι less frequently, to indicate the strongest confirmation. Both these are used with reserve, and not lightly. Several times he acknowledges his resort to tradition, when he uses the word παρειλήφαμεν, but we cannot always be sure of the form of transmission (iii. 15, 30, vi. 38).
We see then an ideal and actual plan of research, and a real effort at personal investigation; to deny his frequently iterated language, is to accuse him of deliberate falsehood; and this is palpably unfair; this his honest purpose and work must be borne in mind, in the discussion of his relation to Socrates.
3. As to method in textual criticism, there is none; we find variations in the texts quoted from those of Socrates, Athanasius, and Theodoret, but no more in him than in the rest from one another. When he reports Constantines speech, he treats it as Thucydides did the orations of his worthies, and as the high-flying Eusebius and the indiscriminating Theodoret do. When he copies a translation from the Greek, he simply says that he gives it just as he found it. On the whole, one is surprised at so fair an agreement in the readings of the documents.
4. There is an entire lack of genuine analytical criticism; the love of allegory (i. 1, ii. 1), the credence given to the Christic sections of Josephus (i. 1), the unquestioning acceptance of Eusebius turgid statements about Constantines life, are proofs enough of its absence; and yet Sozomen was careful to present the variety of accounts, so that one might have all points of view, if he did not carefully sift the evidence. This is indeed quite a marked feature of his method. Thus concerning the death of Arius, he gives five different views (ii. 29, 30). He states carefully the varying shades of opinion concerning Marcellus (ii. 33). The two classes of views of the election of Macedonius are recorded and skillfully weighed (iii. 3). The divisions of sentiment after the Synods of Sardica and Philippopolis are accurately grouped (iii. 13). Other instances occur in iii. 14, 18, 23, v. 2, 22, vi. 2, 12, 26, vii. 5, 22. These are but a selection of what is habitual with him, and show a desire to present all sides of a question, and to reflect the divergent convictions of his time about men and measures; but he does not always try to find the just opinion and weigh the testimony; he never tests the validity of his documents, and only a few times tries to decide between clashing judgments, as to which of them rests on a solid foundation of testimony. It is, however, to his credit, when he confesses that his research is baffled, as in iv. 2, with respect to the manner of Pauls death, or suspends his judgment, because the data are insufficient, as in the application to the empress, of Chrysostoms homily on female peccadilloes (viii. 6). Such language shows that he not only sought to ascertain the truth, but to elicit the facts out of conflicting testimony. We may not always think the game worth the powder, but the temper and intent are commendable.
(a) He criticises by the rules of traditionalism and monasticism; we find small men given undue prominence, and large ones put far below their proper place (iv. 6, 9, 28, v. 7, 12, vi. 17, 26, vii. 12).
p. 215 (b) He seems to have regarded it his occasional duty to explain the moral intent of a period, of the lives of men, of a special incident; in other words, he used history reflectively and ethically (viii. 4, 12, 17).
(c) He is fertile in suggesting motives for which he has no documentary warrant. The entire history of Julian is replete with the insinuation of mean motives (ὥς συμβάλλω). The solitary commendation of him for lowering the price of provisions in Antioch (v. 19) is only a ground for holding him up to ridicule for want of judgment (iii. 5, 15, v. 2, 4, 5, 11, 19, 15, 22, vi. 12).
(g) He delights in taking prominent figures of a period as the remarkable men who have created a remarkable time, and are Divine instruments, or as objects of Divine protection on account of their piety (iii. 13, 19, iv. 16, v. 13, vi. 17, 26, 27, viii. 3, 4, 6).
6. Chronological method. (1) The imperial reigns are taken as the great periods for the books, and the material is distributed under them; no dates are given, only the names of the emperors. This is stated in the proëmium, and is carried out in the history. (2) He uses the consulates—
(b) Also occasionally to indicate the synchronous occupants of the apostolic sees (i. 2); the convocation of a council (iii. 12, 19, iv. 6, 17, vii. 12); the enthronement of a bishop (iv. 26); the death of an emperor (vii. 29, ix. 1); some general but important event (vii. 5, viii. 4).
(d) Another conspicuous chronological system with Sozomen, as in Eusebius, Socrates, and the church historians in general, is to keep up the roll of succession in the greater sees. This had become an essential note of the visible and Catholic Church.
(g) An unusual number of particles for indefinite time occur as substitutes for an exact method. Nevertheless, one of his main purposes was to narrate his history in strict chronological order, so as to contain the virtue of a chronicle together with a more developed presentation of events. This is almost entirely forgotten, except that the sequence of occurrences is fairly kept up. Yet he does not hesitate to break through even this sequence, when he thinks the collocation of later facts, under the head that he is writing of, may contribute to clearness and completeness, as he directly avers in iii. 3, 14, iv. 10, 11, 12, v. 11, ix. 2. It is no easy task to make a Regesta of Sozomens history; moreover, he often blunders in the very few dates he gives, as well as in the arrangement of the events themselves; these errors are due to the lack of a fixed system.
7. The contributions to geography are mainly confined to Palestine. Passing more familiar ones, we have a list as follows: Helenopolis (ii. 2), Majuma (ii. 5, v. 3, vii. 28), Anthedon, Bethagathon, Asalea, Thabatha (iii. 14), Diocæsarea (iv. 17), Bethelia (v. 15, vi. 32), Besanp. 216 duca, Capharchobia, Gerara (vi. 32), Botolium (vii. 28), Ceila, Berathsabia with its tomb, Nephsameena (vii. 29), Chaphar Zacharia (ix. 17). Most of these terms are Hebraic or Syrian. Scythopolis is mentioned as abundant in palms (viii. 13). There is no direct, and very little indirect light on the political or ecclesiastical geography of the time; of course the seats of the bishops and of the monks that are enumerated yield a few new names of places. There are equally few hints in the physical features of the empire; the great rains, or hail-storms, or earthquakes are recorded chiefly with regard to their special ethical bearing. The topography of Constantinople has been indicated previously; outside of these, details of Alexandria, Antioch, Cæsarea, Cappadocia are given, but none of them new.
8. Statistics. There is of course no method in the presentation of statistics; there are general proportions, as in ii. 6, iv. 27, v. 15, vi. 20; and special detail, as in the enumeration of monks, iii. 14, vi. 29–34. The best illustration one finds in the account of the Persian martyrs, where there was a distinct effort at registration by Persian, Syrian, and Edessan authorities (ii. 13, 14).
9. Biography is one of the chief constituents of his history. He gives us an account of most of the distinguished Christian masters in theology, in monasticism, martyrdom, oratory, scholarship, administration; and he is refreshingly fair in giving a place to those who were not friendly to his view of the faith. Athanasius may be a chief hero, but Arius is not neglected. Here we may observe that Sozomen makes Aëtius the second head of rationalism, and the man who gave it breadth of culture by building the system on the basis of Aristotle (iii. 15, iv. 12); he regards Eunomius as but a reflection of Aëtius (vi. 29). This position accorded to Aëtius is one deserving special note and study. Philostorgius exalted Eunomius both in his special encomium and in the history. Of course the two Cappadocians, as well as Epiphanius and Chrysostom, are liberally sketched. The imperial biography is fairly full, and a large space is accorded Julian. In every book parts are devoted to the vitæ sanctorum, as the best way to set before us the inner life of the Church and the fairest exhibition of Christian character; these monastic sketches are, for the most part, mere glimpses of individuals (a line or two suffices); whereas the more conspicuous founders and organizers, such as Antony, Hilarion, Pachomius, the Macarii, Evagrius, receive a larger recognition. He feels the need of selection in the multiplicity of illustrious characters, and after a sketch of Acacius, Zeno, and Ajax, he says: “I have mentioned these as examples of those who served as priests at this period. It would be a task to enumerate all, when the major part of them were good, and God bore testimony to their lives by readily hearing their prayers and by working many miracles” (vii. 28). Prominent as is the biographical element, and earnestly as he endeavors to substantiate its claims, he confesses, as to Ephraim (iii. 16), “it would require a more experienced hand than mine to furnish a full description of his character and that of the other illustrious men, who, about the same period, had devoted themselves to a life of philosophy; and it is to be regretted that Ephraim did not enter upon this undertaking. The attempt is beyond my powers, for I possess but little knowledge of those great men, or of their exploits.”
10. In ecclesiastical culture we have many and important incidental hints, but no direct general chapter except vii. 19; and on special topics, those on the Easter controversy (i. 16, 21, vi. 24, vii. 18, viii. 17) on the penitential presbyter (vii. 16), and on relic worship, are the most significant.
11. Nor is there any methodical statement of growth in the acquisition and exposition of truth; his traditionalism in a measure precluded that, and his acknowledged incapacity to go deeply into the differentiation of these discussions prevented any system; there is no real history of dogma and ethics, except on the external side. He is frank to say: “I leave their doctrines to be judged by those whose right it is. For I have not set forth to record such matters, nor is it befitting in history” (iii. 15); that he does “not profess easily to understand or to expound these matters” (vi. 27); and again, “I should be prolix were I to enter into further particulars, p. 217 and under the subject would be by no means an easy one to me, since I have no such dialectic skill” (vii. 17). He furnishes us only with such a statement of doctrine, as sprang out of polemics and councils and the variety of creeds.
12. And so with the history of literature there is no such sustained account of Christian writers and works as in Eusebius; the second stage of historians did not see fit to be as complete and accurate as their exemplar in this particular, and Photius was left to gather up the fragments for us. What strikes us as peculiar is his confessed ignorance of the works of the greatest theologians. He passes by all the technical writings of Athanasius; he has no direct knowledge of the works of Hilary, though that might be excused. Of the purely theological works of Basil and Gregory Nazianzen, whom he regards as the pillars of the Nicene faith, he makes no mention; and indeed makes but the slightest use of their letters and special orations. Of the Arian theologians of all shades, he has no closer knowledge; he confesses at the outset that he had not read the Thalia (i. 21), but condemns it on Socrates authority; and he speaks of Diodorus, bishop of Tarsus, in language that displays unfamiliarity with his treatises (viii. 2).
14. If we pass to the stylistics of Sozomen, we find the quality of the Greek to be excellent; the dedication is especially studied and rhetorical; the first chapter of the first book is scarcely inferior in these traits, after which the form becomes more abrupt, after the fashion of an epitomizer, and it is obviously affected by his authorities. The likeness to Xenophon is not continuous, any more than Socrates sustainedly imitates Thucydides, although in elevated conception, Socrates is more in the vein of that philosophic master of history, than Sozomen is a reflection of the writer of the Hellenics. The vocabulary, too, is quite meager; the same forms of expression occur again and again, yet Photius considers him superior in diction to Socrates, 1053 which only one who admires mere form above spirit, can affirm. Certainly it would not be the view of this more subjective age. Of course he reflects the decline of meaning in particles and prepositional prefixes and participial constructions. He does not begin his books with formal prefaces, such as Socrates indulges in; chapter 1 of Book i. may, however, be regarded as introductory; and it serves to link Christianity with Judaism. In the distribution of his material there is no system agreeing with his own outline of aims or any other order that is discoverable. The main topics are: Secular affairs, relations of the emperor to Christianity, laws and privileges, missions and persecutions, polemics and irenics, biographies ; but there is no regular discussion of these, either under the reigns or in the books. None of the historians are any better in this regard.
A characteristic of our historian is the admirable generalization and the summaries he pauses to make here and there. The most notable are in iii. 17, a generalized description of the period of the Constantines. iii. 18, a doctrinal summary. iv. 17–19, conciliar movement in the West. iv. 20–22, conciliar movement in the East. iv. 23–25, united results. vi. 6, a succinct comparison of Valens with Valentinian. vi. 10, geographical centers of Nicenism. vi. 21, geographical centers of Arianism and Orthodoxy. vi. 22, geographical distribution of Macedonianism. vi. 26, genesis of Aëtianism (Eunomianism). vi. 27, geographical distribution of beliefs. vi. 28–34, geographical grouping of the monks. vii. 2, geographical supremacy of Arianism in the East. vii. 4, geographical survey of religion. vii. 17, divisions of Arianism. viii. 1, summary of Apostolic succession. The selective process is often alluded to (ii. 3, iii. 14, 15, iv. 3, 23, 27, vii. 25, 28, ix. 1); and we must confess that he has kept a very just proportion in this way among the subjects he has elected for his narrative.
The work was to have covered the time from 323 to 439, a period of 116 years; whereas, in fact, he writes continuously only to the death of Honorius as the latest event, 423, and the p. 218 accession of Valentinian III. in 425; beyond that in time, but mentioned anticipatively in the narrative (ix. 2), is the transfer of the forty martyrs, which happened certainly after 434, the year of the election of Proclus, therefore probably not far from the proposed limit of his work, say 437 or 438; this would give a period of about 114 or 115 years. He divides the record of this time into nine books, distributed among the emperors.
A noticeable feature, save in the case of Book ix., is the grouping of books by twos, in which the intervals discussed vary from fourteen to thirty-three years. This grouping seems entirely arbitrary.
The question for whom he wrote has been somewhat obscured by those who regard him simply as a plagiarist. He evidently turned himself to this task under the conviction that there was need of some such work as his. He addressed himself chiefly to Christians and not only to monks, because he defers to the narrow views of some friends about the mysteries,—and represses creeds and sacraments, for fear the book might fall into the hands of the uninitiated. He moreover designed his record, not for the more learned classes, but for the instruction of ordinary believers, since he professes uniformly a great modesty in treating the profounder themes of theology and the characters of the more eminent men. Yet he did not hesitate to submit it to the criticism of his emperor and invited the most erasive and final judgment. This is probably as far as we may go in the absence of any direct address to specific readers.
p. 219 Eustathius, Silvanus, and Theophilus to Liberius (vi. 11).
There are five imperial letters, four synodical letters, seven episcopal letters, one presbyterial letter, making seventeen in all. This is not nearly so large a number as is given by Socrates, but we must remember the expressed purpose of Sozomen, that, as a rule, he would give abstracts only, and text when in his judgment fairness made it necessary. Of these documents, there are at least three found in no earlier author. In them all, there is only one symbol transcribed, and that is from Arius and Euzoïus!
p. 220 Julian to the Alexandrians.......................................................................................... v. 7.
p. 221 Unmentioned Authorities.
Sozomen has refrained in large measure from indicating directly his chief authorities for political or ecclesiastical affairs; he has indicated, indeed, some minor springs, as we have seen, but the major ones are passed by. He imitated neither Eusebius, nor Socrates, nor Evagrius in this omission. He does abound in phrases indicative of authorities; thus of the forms of λέγω, λέγουσι, λέγονται, ἔλεγον, ἐλέγετο are used somewhat sparingly, while λέγεται occurs over eighty times, and λόγος about twenty; of φήμι, ἔφησεν and φήμη occasionally, while φησί or φασί introduces about thirty statements; εἰρήσθω and εἰρήται also appear in a few cases. One has no assurance of either the method or the validity of the sources from such vague terms, and it is this uncertain and incautious manner that has so often led critics to impeach his general worth, and it must be conceded with some degree of justice; the endless iteration of such words savors of gossip rather than history; this obscurity is not diminished by his persistent οἶμαι and less frequent εἰκάζω.
Socrates preceded Sozomen by a few years, writing his history not long after 439. 1054 Sozomen undoubtedly produced his record later, as we have already seen, and it would be just as likely that Socrates should be in the hands of Sozomen as that Philip of Sides contemporary Christian History should have been open to the criticism of Socrates; indeed, the predecessors work was quite probably an incentive to the task proposed by Sozomen to himself. The internal evidence makes the use sure. We have only to note how Socrates derived his statements about the Novatians from members connected with that body of believers; these very facts are reproduced by Sozomen as Socrates gives them, with the slightest of differences; there is no refutation of this possible. Socrates, therefore, manifestly preceded, and Sozomen employed the material thus amassed.
There are three views of the connection: (1) that Sozomen, excepting a few and not very valuable additions of his own, plagiarized Socrates; (2) that he used the same authorities as Socrates independently, and the points of identity arose from the language of the original in the hands of both; (3) that Socrates was his guide to the chief writers from whom he drew directly with more or less freedom; and when no other light presented itself or was to be found, he would use his path-finder. There is scarcely a more fascinating and genuine field for analytical criticism than this. It should be remarked at the outset that we cannot justly apply this term plagiarism, in its modern sense, to the use of material current in these earlier days of history. There was no more intention to appropriate the work of another in Sozomen, than there was in Socrates, when he fails to note his authority, and yet very evidently has followed him closely; or when Theodoret has taken his stuff from Sozomen, and says nothing about the original. To assail Sozomen as if he were a deliberate thief, and stigmatize him as a feeble reviser of Socrates, is wholly unfair and unwarranted by the general usage of his day and by the facts of the case. In no way can it be proved that Sozomen was a general plagiarist in the opprobrium and iniquity conveyed by the modern use of that term. That Socrates was the finer mind, that he had larger sympathies, that he was concerned to reproduce documents in an ampler degree, that he follows the development of the Church with a sharper and brighter criticism, no one can doubt; he is conspicuously superior in almost every quality of a historian, and confined himself more nearly to the modern idea of which the science should aim to do; but that does not set aside the distinct and supplemental value of Sozomen and his fullness in lines, however zigzag, which had been neglected by others. The acknowledged precedence of Socrates does not warrant us in assailing the fidelity of the lesser light. Since the notes are designed to indicate the relationship between p. 222 the two, the passages need not be anticipated here. (2) The second view, that Sozomen made an independent use of the same source which Holzhausen revived, Stäudlin supported, Hefele and Nolte have espoused, seems less tenable than the first. The Novatian material cannot, under any possible conditions, be so explained; the arrangement of the details in eight of the books will not permit view. The very corrections of that arrangement require us to be convinced that Socrates was in the correctors eye; the close resemblance of language in many places where he might easily have expanded from the originals, but preferred to confine himself to the equally meagre tracings of his predecessor, leave no basis for this solution. (3) The third explanation of the interrelation seems thus far the most accurate. 1055 Sozomen took Socrates for a guide in the main, (a) as to consecution of events, (b) as to sources, much as students would use a Church history to base their own studies upon. Socrates was a director to the authorities; these Sozomen would use freely; when they failed him, he would take the facts given by Socrates, precisely as he did those which Eusebius or Sabinus furnished, because he had nothing better, and in spite probably of his own inquiries; for let us remember how he insists that he has investigated the originals, and that he had been conscientious in his researches. Now it must be said in further modification of this statement:
(a) That some of the sources obviously consulted by both were doubtless known to Sozomen without Socrates to point them out. Rufinus and Eusebius and Sabinus were known to everybody. In all such cases we may concede an independent reading of those authors, and yet the order in which the subject-matter is arranged is at times more that of his guide-book than of his original.
2. The next unmentioned source is Rufinus, in his continuation of Eusebius in two books; this Sozomen certainly read independently of Socrates, very likely in a Greek translation. That authors Historia Monachorum also was sifted for a few of the monastic biographies; in these cases there is a closer resemblance to Rufinus than to the parallel sketches of Palladius.
3. Eusebius Life of Constantine is a primary source for Books i. and ii. In all the events pertaining to that emperor, it is drawn upon freely, just as freely as Socrates employs it, or as Sozomen handles Socrates.
4. Athanasius is also used independently, although in collocating the events, Socrates is followed. There is direct reference to one work only (v. 12), as we have seen. The unmentioned are as follows:—
p. 223 6. Sabinus: Collection of Synods (Συναγώγη τῶν συνόδων), which is lost; this book was written in the Macedonian and Arian interest; the author is mentioned by Socrates and criticised for his partiality. We can observe how Sozomen used it, where he adds to the statements of Socrates, which the latter had borrowed from that work. These additions are quite frequent in the transactions of the synods; and again a few records of councils, otherwise unknown, are thus preserved for us. We have here a proof of how Sozomen improved on his guide in the details.
7. Philippus of Side; the Christian History (χριστιανικὴ ἱστορία); a few fragments are preserved; Socrates criticises him severely. 1056
12. Palladius: Historia Lausica was not so constant a companion as some have suggested; Sozomen has rather borrowed from the sources out of which the bishop of Helenopolis gathered his sketches of the monks.
Dialogus de vita S. Joannis Chrysostomi was used in narrating the incidents of Johns life in Book viii. There is no indication of any large draught of Chrysostoms own writings: they may have been used for a few suggestions, contained in the orations before mentioned.
He does not seem to have made any direct use of Ammianus Marcellinus (Res gestæ), nor of the earlier Latin chroniclers. The points of resemblance with Eutropius (Breviarium Historiæ Romanæ) are very doubtful in my judgment; Eunapius (ex historia excerpta et fragmenta) seems to have been used in his full form; Zosimus (Historia) pretty surely; and for the ninth book, hardly with a doubt the full Olympiodorus, of whom fragments only remain, and yet in that same ninth book there are entirely independent political chapters whose source cannot yet be determined.
The most curious feature of all is Book ix., in the entire change of its method; even were the ecclesiastical affairs to have been presented, he has given here in remarkable excess the events affecting the Western state; he has done it nowhere else; to be sure, he proposes it as a demonstration of the value of imperial piety, and of the ever-present Divine grace, but nowhere else has he done this in so cumulative a form. Some wonderful change came over his purpose, whether that were a fuller view of the relation between state and church, or the desire to deepen the impression of his philosophy of history; or did some imperial domestic catastrophe make him reluctant to dwell upon the sad events which darkened the court he had so glorified?
That it is unfinished cannot be doubted; for (a) In the Proëmium he announces his purpose to carry it to the year a.d. 439, or the seventeenth consulate of Theodosius; but this is not done with any of his ordinary fullness, although his hints reach beyond, as we have seen. (b) In lauding Pulcheria (ix. 1) he remarks, “That new heresies have not prevailed in our time, we shall find to be due especially to her, as we shall subsequently see.” Here is the declared purpose of delineating the history of Nestorianism and its overthrow, but there is no appearance of the struggle in the record itself; he altogether passes by Nestorius, as bishop of Constantinople. (c) The p. 224 record of the forty martyrs he purposely took out of its normal order, to illustrate the excellence of Pulcheria; a late event is anticipated, but the whole of what would have been its normal setting is not there. (d) One would naturally expect that a book which had thus far treated mainly of state difficulties would have the usual balance, at least, and that ecclesiastical affairs would have preponderated in the remaining chapters; but there is only an initial chapter. Seventeen chapters are not his usual tale for a book; there is an evident break; the discussion of Nestorianism is not written. Most of all would one expect some allusion to the restoration of Chrysostom under Proclus. (e) In ix. 16, he says, “Among other relics, those of Zechariah, the very ancient prophet, and of Stephen, who was ordained deacon by the Apostles, were discovered; and it seems incumbent upon me to describe the mode, since the discovery of each was marvelous and divine;” but he gives only the invention of Zechariah (c. 17). The story of Stephen fails us, and would doubtless have followed immediately. It was his purpose to narrate the story,—this story which Theophanes and Marcellinus mention and Lucianus wrote a book about. (f) In c. ix. 17, this is confirmed; for he says, “I shall first speak of the relics of the prophet”; to his second he does not come. (g) The close is abrupt; one feels instinctively that something is amiss. Hence the work, as we have it, is obviously not complete.
The mistake into which Gregory I. fell in ascribing to Sozomen the commendation of Theodore of Mopsuestia, with which Theodoret really closes his history, led Baronius to maintain that we did not have the whole of Sozomen; and others have asserted the same for reasons which are indeed sufficient to prove that the history is unfinished, but not that anything is lost. That we have all that Sozomen wrote is more likely, because the Tripartite History at x. 24 makes the last use of Sozomen at viii. 25; it would surely have gone further in its dependence upon him had the later controversy been treated of, since he had been already a chief authority. Nicephorus Callistus, Historia Ecclesiastica, xiv. 8, gives the account of the finding of Zechariah in c. 9; the story of Stephen in c. 10; then the story of the forty martyrs. His source beyond is Socrates, until Evagrius takes up the thread of affairs. If Sozomen had written the more recent events parallel with Socrates, Nicephorus would undoubtedly have followed him as before. Of Theophanes, one cannot speak so confidently. Moreover, we cannot help asking, since we have Socrates, Theodoret, and Evagrius complete, why should Sozomen, who was so admired an author, have suffered any loss? Now, if we have Sozomen entire so far as he wrote, why did he stop where he did? There are no sufficient subjective reasons to be offered. It could scarcely have been in any unfavorable criticism of his prince, for the work seems to have been accepted by his imperial patron; and there was certainly nothing as objectionable in Sozomen, as in Socrates or in Olympiodorus. Nor is it likely that the unhappiness which invaded the court, the domestic jealousies, which rent its religious as well as connubial peace, or the quarrels over Cyrus or Paulinus or Chrysaphius, in any way restrained him; for he was beyond some, if not all of these agitations, at the time of his writing, and he had deliberately chosen to ignore such noble personages as Anthemius, Troïlus, Synesius, Aurelianus, and Eudocia, so that we can argue little from his silence, save his manifest jealousy for Pulcheria, and his hostility to certain more liberal tendencies developed under Eudocia. The Nestorian controversy would have been a choice field wherein to exalt the influence of Pulcheria, as he himself suggested. On the whole, one is constrained to believe that Sozomen died before he had completed the record which he had proposed to himself. He must have been nearing his seventieth year when thus suddenly arrested in his chosen study.
(a) Epiphanius Scholasticus, who made a translation into Latin, which Cassiodorus abbreviated, polished, and incorporated in the Historia Tripartita. 1057
p. 225 (b) The deacon Liberatus, in his Historia Nestorianorum, used the Tripartita.
The errors are numerous, as already suggested by Possevin, on dogmatic grounds; Du Pin, and more recently by Harnack, for historic reasons. They are due to the lack of a systematic chronology, and the blind copying of his authority, especially Socrates, and occasionally to his attempts to correct the order given by his authority.
Güldenpinning thinks there may be a suggestion of the fatal apple in Sozomens praise of his sovereigns abstemiousness. I would like to agree, but cannot. Die Kirchengesch. des Theodoret von Kyrrhos, pp. 12, 13.200:1051 200:1052 217:1053 221:1054 222:1055 223:1056 224:1057
©st-takla.org : Saint Takla Haymanout Website: General Portal for the Coptic Orthodox Church Faith, Egypt / Contact us at:
Bible | Daily Readings | Agbeya | Books | Lyrics | Gallery | Media | Links | Contact us