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Grammarians & Philologists
Apollinaris (the Elder)
A Christian grammarian of the fourth century, first at Berytus in Phoenicia, then at Laodicea in Syria. He became a priest, and was among the stanchest upholders of the Council of Nic?a (325) and of St. Athanasius. When Julian the Apostate forbade Christian professors to lecture or comment on the poets or philosophers of Greece (362), Apollinaris and his son bearing the same name, both highly cultivated and resourceful, zealously strove to replace the literary masterpieces of antiquity by new works which should offset the threatened loss to Christians of the advantages of polite instruction and help to win respect for the Christian religion among the heathens. According to Socrates (Hist. Eccl., II, xlvi; III, xvi), the elder Apollinaris translated the Pentateuch into Greek hexameters, converted the first two books of Kings into an epic poem of twentyfour cantos, wrote tragedies modelled on Euripides, comedies after the manner of Menander, and odes imitated from Pindar. Sozomen (Hist. Eccl., V, xviii; VI, xxv) says nothing of the poetical works of the elder Apollinaris, but lays stress on those of his son. This improvised Greek literature, however, uninspired by genius, did not survive. As soon as Valentinian I (364-375) had revoked the edict of Julian the schools returned to the great classic writers, and only the memory of the courageous efforts of Apollinaris to nullify the malice of Julian survived.
John J. A. Becket, ed.
Transcribed by: WGKofron
This text is cited July 2004 from The Catholic Encyclopedia, New Advent online edition URL below.
Apollinarianism. A Christological theory, according to which
Christ had a human body and a human sensitive soul, but no human rational mind,
the Divine Logos taking the place of this last.
The author of this theory, Apollinaris (Apolinarios) the Younger, Bishop of Laodicea, flourished in the latter half of the fourth century and was at first highly esteemed by men like St. Athanasius, St. Basil, and St. Jerome for his classical culture, his Biblical learning, his defence of Christianity and his loyalty to the Nicene faith. He assisted his father, Apollinaris the Elder, in reconstructing the scriptures on classical models in order to compensate the Christians for the loss of Greek literature of which the edict of Julian had deprived them. St. Jerome credits him with innumerable volumes on the Scriptures; two apologies of Christianity, one against Porphyry, and the other against Julian; a refutation of Eunomius, a radical Arian, etc.; but all these works are lost. With regard to Apollinaris's writings which bear on the present theory, we are more fortunate. A contemporary anonymous book: Adversus fraudes Apollinaristarum, informs us that the Apollinarists, in order to win credence for their error, circulated a number of tracts under the approved names of such men as Gregory Thaumaturgus (He kata meros pistis, Exposition of Faith), Athanasius (Peri sarkoseos, On the Incarnation), Pope Julius (Peri tes en Christo enotetos, On Unity in Christ), etc. Following that clue, Lequien (1740), Caspari (1879) and Draseke (1892), have shown that in all probability these are Apollinaris's writings. Moreover, the Fathers of the Church who wrote in defence of orthodoxy, e.g., Athanasius, in two books against Apollinaris; Gregory Nazianzen, in several letters; Gregory of Nyssa in his Antirretikos; Theodoret, in his Haereticae Fabulae and Dialogues, etc., incidentally give us ample information on the real system of the Laodicean.
The precise time at which Apollinaris came forward with his heresy is uncertain. There are clearly two periods in the Apollinarist controversy. Up to 376, either because of his covert attitude or of the respect in which he was held, Apollinaris's name was never mentioned by his opponents, i.e. by individuals like Athanasius and Pope Damasus, or by councils like the Alexandrian (362), and the Roman (376). From this latter date it is open war. Two more Roman councils, 377 and 381, and a number of Fathers, plainly denounce and condemn as heretical the views of Apollinaris. He failed to submit even to the more solemn condemnation of the council of Constantinople, 381, whose first canon entered Apollinarianism on the list of heresies, and he died in his error, about 392. His following, at one time considerable in Constantinople, Syria, and Phoenicia, hardly survived him. Some few disciples, like Vitalis, Valentinus, Polemon, and Timothy, tried to perpetuate the error of the master and probably are responsible for the forgeries noticed above. The sect itself soon became extinct. Towards 416, many returned to the mother-Church, while the rest drifted away into Monophysitism.
Apollinaris based his theory on two principles or suppositions, one
ontological or objective, and one psychological or subjective. Ontologically,
it appeared to him that the union of complete God with complete man could not
be more than a juxtaposition or collocation. Two perfect beings with all their
attributes, he argued, cannot be one. They are at most an incongruous compound,
not unlike the monsters of mythology. Inasmuch as the Nicene faith forbade him
to belittle the Logos, as Arius had done, he forthwith proceeded to maim the humanity
of Christ, and divest it of its noblest attribute, and this, he claimed, for the
sake of true Unity and veritable Incarnation. Psychologically, Apollinaris, considering
the rational soul or spirit as essentially liable to sin and capable, at its best,
of only precarious efforts, saw no way of saving Christ's impeccability and the
infinite value of Redemption, except by the elimination of the human spirit from
Jesus' humanity, and the substitution of the Divine Logos in its stead. For the
constructive part of his theory, Apollinaris appealed to the well-known Platonic
division of human nature: body (sarx, soma), soul (psyche halogos), spirit (nous,
pneuma, psyche logike). Christ, he said, assumed the human body and the human
soul or principle of animal life, but not the human spirit. The Logos Himself
is, or takes the place of, the human spirit, thus becoming the rational and spiritual
centre, the seat of self-consciousness and self-determination. By this simple
device the Laodicean thought that Christ was safe, His substantial unity secure,
His moral immutability guaranteed, and the infinite value of Redemption made self-evident.
And in confirmation of it all, he quoted from St. John i, 14 "and the Word was
made flesh"; St. Paul, Phil., ii, 7, Being made in the likeness of men and in
habit found as a man, and I Cor., xv, 47 The second man, from heaven, heavenly.
DOCTRINE OF THE CHURCH
It is to be found in the seventh anathema of Pope Damasus in the Council
of Rome, 381. "We pronounce anathema against them who say that the Word of God
is in the human flesh in lieu and place of the human rational and intellective
soul. For, the Word of God is the Son Himself. Neither did He come in the flesh
to replace, but rather to assume and preserve from sin and save the rational and
intellective soul of man." In answer to Apollinaris's basic principles, the Fathers
simply denied the second as Manichaean. As to the first, it should be remembered
that the Councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon had not yet formulated the doctrine
of Hypostatical Union. It will then appear why the Fathers contented themselves
with offering arguments in rebuttal, e.g.:
Scripture holds that the Logos assumed all that is human -- therefore
the pneuma also -- sin alone excepted; that Jesus experienced joy and sadness,
both being properties of the rational soul. Christ without a rational soul is
not a man; such an incongruous compound, as that imagined by Apollinaris, can
neither be called God-man nor stand as the model of Christian life. What Christ
has not assumed He has not healed; thus the noblest portion of man is excluded
from Redemption. They also pointed out the correct meaning of the Scriptural passages
alleged by Apollinaris, remarking that the word sarx in St. John, as in other
parts of Holy Writ, was used by synecdoche for the whole human nature, and that
the true meaning of St. Paul (Philippians and I Corinthians) was determined by
the clear teaching of the Pastoral Epistles. Some of them, however, incautiously
insisted upon the limitations of Jesus' knowledge as proof positive that His mind
was truly human. But when the heresiarch would have taken them farther afield
into the very mystery of the Unity of Christ, they feared not to acknowledge their
ignorance and gently derided Apollinaris s mathematical spirit and implicit reliance
upon mere speculation and human reasoning. The Apollinarist controversy, which
nowadays appears somewhat childish, had its importance in the history of Christian
dogma; it transferred the discussion from the Trinity into the Christological
field; moreover, it opened that long line of Christological debates which resulted
in the Chalcedonian symbol.
J.F. Sollier, ed.
Transcribed by: Michael C. Tinkler
This text is cited July 2004 from The Catholic Encyclopedia, New Advent online edition URL below.
Apollinaris, father and son, the former presbyter, the latter bishop, of Laodicea.
The father was born at Alexandria. He taught grammar first at Berytus and afterwards
at Laodicea (about A. D. 335), where he married, and became a presbyter of the
church. Apollinaris and his son enjoyed the friendship of the sophists Libanius
and Epiphanius. They were both excommunicated by Theodotus, bishop of Laodicea,
for attending the lectures of Epiphanius, but they were restored upon their profession
of penitence. Being firm catholics, they were banished by Georgius, the Arian
successor of Theodotus.
When Julian (A. D. 362) issued an edict forbidding Christians to teach
the classics, Apollinaris and his son undertook to supply the loss by transferring
the Seriptures into a body of poetry, rhetoric, and philosophy. They put the historical
books of the Old Testament into poetry, which consisted partly of Homeric hexameters,
and partly of lyrics, tragedies, and comedies, in imitation of Pindar, Euripides,
and Menander. According to one account, the Old Testament history, up to the reign
of Saul, formed a kind of heroic poem, divided into twenty-four books, which were
named after the letters of the Greek alphabet, in imitation of Homer. The New
Testament was put into the form of dialogues, after the manner of Plato. Only
two works remain which appear to have formed a part of these sacred classics,
namely, a tragedy entitled "Christ Suffering", which is found among the works
of Gregory Nazianzen, and a poetic version of the Psalms, entitled "Metaphrasis
Psalmortum", which was published at Paris, 1552, 1580, and 1613; by Sylburg at
Heidelberg, 1596; and in the various collections of the Fathers. There is some
difficulty in determining what shares the father and son had in these works. The
Old Testament poems are generally ascribed to the father, who is spoken highly
of as a poet, and the New Testament dialogues to the son, who was more distinguished
as a philosopher and rhetorician. In accordance with this view, Vossius (de Hist.
Graec. ii. 18, and de Poet. Graec. 9) and Cave (sub ann. 362), attribute both
the extant works to the son.
Apollinaris the younger, who was bishop of Laodicea in 362 A. D.,
wrote several controversial works, the most celebrated of which was one in thirty
books against Porphyry. He became noted also as the founder of a sect. He was
a warm opponent of the Arians, and a personal friend of Athanasius; and in arguing
against the former, he maintained, that the Divine Word (the Logos) supplied the
place of a rational soul in the person of Christ. He died between 382 and 392
A. D. His doctrine was condemned by a synod at Rome, about 375 A. D., but it continued
to be held by a considerable sect, who were called Apollinarists, down to the
middle of the fifth century (Hieron. de Vir. Illzust. 104; Socrates, H. E. ii.
46, iii. 16 ; Sozomen, H. E. v. 18, vi. 25; Suidas, s. v.).
This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited Oct 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
- A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology (ed. William Smith)