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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. XIV:
The Canons of the Councils of Ancyra, Gangra, Neocæsarea, Antioch and Laodicea, which Canons were Accepted and Received by the Ecumenical Synods.: Historical Introduction.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

p. 89

Historical Introduction.

With regard to the Synod of Gangra we know little beside what we learn from its own synodal letter.  Three great questions naturally arise with regard to it.

1.  What was its date?

2.  Who was the Eustathius it condemned?

3.  Who was its presiding officer?

I shall briefly give the reader the salient points with regard to each of these matters.

1.  With regard to the date, there can be no doubt that it was after Nice and before the First Council of Constantinople, that is between 325 and 381.  Socrates 131 seems to place it about 365; but Sozomen 132 some twenty years earlier.  On the other hand, Remi Ceillier 133 inconsistently with his other statements, seems to argue from St. Basil’s letters that the true date is later than 376.  Still another theory has been urged by the Ballerini, resting on the supposition that the Eusebius who presided was Eusebius of Cæsarea, and they therefore fix the date between 362 and 370.  With this Mr. Ffoulkes agrees, and fixes the date, 134 with Pagi, at 358, and is bold enough to add, “and this was unquestionably the year of the Council.”  But in the old collections of canons almost without exception, the canons of Gangra precede those of Antioch, and Blondel and Tillemont 135 have sustained this, which perhaps I may call the traditional date.

2.  There does not seem to be any reasonable ground to doubt that the person condemned, Eustathius by name, was the famous bishop of Sebaste.  This may be gathered from both Sozomen 136 and Socrates, 137 and is confirmed incidentally by one of St. Basil’s epistles. 138   Moreover, Eustathius’s See of Sebaste is in Armenia, and it is to the bishops of Armenia that the Synod addresses its letter.  It would seem in view of all this that Bp. Hefele’s words are not too severe when he writes, “Under such circumstances the statement of Baronius, Du Pin, and others (supported by no single ancient testimony) that another Eustathius, or possibly the monk Eutactus, is here meant, deserves no serious consideration, though Tillemont did not express himself as opposed to it.” 139

The story that after his condemnation by the Synod of Gangra Eustathius gave up wearing his peculiar garb and other eccentricities, Sozomen only gives as a report. 140

3.  As to who was the president, it seems tolerably certain that his name was Eusebius—if Sozomen 141 indeed means it was “Eusebius of Constantinople,” it is a blunder, yet he had the name right.  In the heading of the Synodal letter Eusebius is first named, and as Gangra and Armenia were within the jurisdiction of Cæsarea, it certainly would seem natural to suppose that the Eusebius named was the Metropolitan of that province, but it must be remembered that Eusebius of Cappadocia was not made bishop until 362, four years after Mr. Ffoulkes makes him preside at Gangra.  The names of thirteen bishops are given in the Greek text.

The Latin translations add other names, such as that of Hosius of Cordova, and some Latin writers have asserted that he presided as legate à latere from the pope, e.g., Baronius 142 and Binius. 143   Hefele denies this and says:  “At the time of the Synod of Gangra Hosius was p. 90 without doubt dead.” 144   But such has not been the opinion of the learned, and Cave 145 is of opinion that Hosius’s episcopate covered seventy years ending with 361, and (resting on the same opinion) Pagi thinks Hosius may have attended the Synod in 358 on his way back to Spain, an opinion with which, as I have said, Mr. Ffoulkes agrees.  It seems also clear that by the beginning of the sixth century the Synod of Gangra was looked upon at Rome as having been held under papal authority; Pope Symmachus expressly saying so to the Roman Synod of 504.  (Vide Notes on Canons vij. and viij.)

It remains only further to remark that the Libellus Synodicus mentions a certain Dius as president of the Synod.  The Ballarini 146 suggest that it should be Βίος, an abbreviation of Eusebius.  Mr. Ffoulkes suggests that Dius is “probably Dianius, the predecessor of Eusebius.”  Lightfoot 147 fixes the episcopate of Eusebius Pamphili as between 313 and 337; and states that that of Eusebius of Cæsarea in Cappadocia did not begin until 362, so that the enormous chronological difficulties will be evident to the reader.

As all the proposed new dates involve more or less contradiction, I have given the canons their usual position between Neocæsarea and Antioch, and have left the date undetermined.



Socrat.  H. E., Lib. II., cap. xliij.


Sozomen.  H. E., Lib. IV., cap. xxiv.


Remi Ceillier.  Hist. Générale des Auteurs Sacrés, Tom. IV., p. 735.


E. S. Ffoulkes, in Smith and Cheetham, Dict. Christ. Antiq., s. v. Gangra.


I am indebted to Hefele for this reference, and he gives Mémoires, note xxvij., sur St. Basile.


Sozom.  H. E., III., xiv.


Socrat.  H. E., II., xliij.


S. Basil.  M.,Ep. ccxxiij.


Hefele.  Hist. Councils, Vol. II., p. 337.


Soz.  H. E., Lib. III., cap. xiv.  It is curious that Canon Venables in his article “Eustathius” in Smith and Wace, Dict. of Christ. Biog., gives the story on Sozoman’s authority as quoted by Hefele, but without giving Hefele’s warning that it was a mere rumour.  It would seem that Canon Venables could not have consulted the Greek, where the word used is λόγος; Hefele gives no reference.  I have supplied this in the beginning of this note.


Sozomen.  H. E., Lib. IV., cap. xxiv.


Baronius.  Annal., Tom. iii., ad ann. 361, n. 44.


Binius.  Annotat. in Synod. Gang.


Hefele.  Hist. Councils, Vol. II., p. 327.


Cave.  Hist. Lit., Lib. I., cap. v.


S. Leon., M., Opp., ed. Ballerini, Tom. III., p. xxiv.


Smith and Wace.  Dict. Christ. Biog., s. v. Eusebius of Cæsarea.

Next: Synodical Letter of the Council of Gangra.