Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Ecclesiastical History, Dialogues, and Letters of Theodoret.: Of Alexander, bishop of Antioch.
Chapter XXXV.—Of Alexander, bishop of Antioch.
At this time the see of Alexandria was held by Cyril, 931 brothers son to Theophilus whom he succeeded; at the same time Jerup. 155 salem was occupied by John 932 in succession to Cyril whom we have formerly mentioned. The Antiochenes were under the care of Alexander 933 whose life and conversation were of a piece with his episcopate. Before his consecration he passed his time in ascetic training and in hard bodily exercise. He was known as a noble champion, teaching by word and confirming the word by deed. His predecessor was Porphyrius who guided that church after Flavianus, and left behind him many memorials of his loving character. 934 He was also distinguished by intellectual power. The holy Alexander was specially rich in self discipline and philosophy; his life was one of poverty and self denial; his eloquence was copious and his other gifts were innumerable; by his advice and exhortation, the following of the great Eustathius which Paulinus, and after him Evagrius, had not permitted to be restored, was united to the rest of the body, and a festival was celebrated the like of which none had ever seen before. The bishop gathered all the faithful together, both clergy and laity, and marched with them to the assembly. The procession was accompanied by musicians; one hymn was sung by all in harmony, and thus he and his company went in procession from the western postern to the great church, filling the whole forum with people, and constituting a stream of thinking living beings like the Orontes in its course.
When this was seen by the Jews, by the victims of the Arian plague, and by the insignificant remnant of Pagans, they set up a groaning and wailing, and were distressed at seeing the rest of the rivers discharging their waters into the Church. By Alexander the name of the great John was first inscribed in the records 935 of the Church.
Cyril occupied the Episcopal throne of Alexandria from 412 to 444. Theodoretus could not be expected to allude to the withdrawal of the Roman legions from Britain in 401, or the release of Britoins from their allegiance by Honorius in 410. The sack of Rome by the Goths in the latter year might have however claimed a passing notice.155:932
Of the five Johns more or less well known as bishop of Jerusalem this was the second—from 386 to 417. He is chiefly known to us from the severe criticisms of Jerome.155:933
Bp. from 413 to 421.155:934
Palladius (Dial. 143 et Seqq.) describes Porphyrius as a monster of frivolity, iniquity, and bitterness. It is interesting to hear both sides.155:935
Theodoret here uses the word δίπτυχον. Other words in use were ἱεραὶ, δέλτοι and κατάλογοι. The names engraved on these tablets were recited during the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. e.g. at Carthage in 411 we find it said of Cæcilianus: “In ecclesia sumus in qua episcopatum gessit et diem obiit. Ejus nomen ad altare recitamus ejus memoriæ communicamus tanquam memoriæ fratris.” (Dict. Christ. Ant. i. 561. Labbe ii. 1490.) Names were sometimes erased from unworthy motives. A survival of the use obtains in the English Church in the Prayer for the Church Militant, and more specifically in the recitation of names in the Bidding Prayer.
Next: Of the removal of the remains of John and of the faith of Theodosius and his sisters.
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