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Religious figures biography (6)

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Epiphanius of Salamis

, , 310 - 403

Epiphanius. Born at Besanduk, near Eleutheropolis, in Judea, after 310; died in 403. While very young he followed the monastic life in Egypt . On his return to Judea he founded a monastery at Besanduk and was ordained to the priesthood. In 367 his reputation for asceticism and learning brought about his nomination as Bishop of Constantia (Salamis) the metropolis of the Island of Cyprus. For nearly forty years he fulfilled the duties of the episcopate, but his activity extended far beyond his island. His zeal for the monastic life, ecclesiastical learning, and orthodoxy gave him extraordinary authority; hence the numerous occasions on which his advice was sought, and his intervention in important ecclesiastical affairs. He went to Antioch, probably in 376, to investigate Apollinarianism and to intervene in the schism that divided that church. He decided in favour of Bishop Paulinus, who was supported by Rome, against Meletius, who was supported by the episcopate of the East. In 382 he assisted at the Council of Rome to uphold the cause of Paulinus of Antioch. About 394, carried away by an apparently excessive zeal, he went to Jerusalem to oppose the supposed Origenism of the bishop, John. In 402 he was at Constantinople to combat the same pretended heresy of St. John Chrysostom. He died on his return journey to Cyprus.
  It was at the instance of his correspondents that Epiphanius compiled his works. The earliest (374) is the "Ancoratus", or "The Well-Anchored", i.e. the Christian firmly fixed against the agitations of error. The Trinity and the dogma of the Resurrection are particularly treated by the author, who argues especially against the Arians and the Origenists. There are two symbols at the end of the work: the first, which is the shorter, is very important in the history of symbols, or professions of faith, being the baptismal creed of the Church of Constantia. The second is the personal work of Epiphanius, and is intended to fortify the faithful against current heresies. In the "Ancoratus" Epiphanius confines himself to a list of heresies. Some readers desired to have a detailed work on this question, and Epiphanius composed (374-7) the "Panarion" or "Medicine chest", i.e. a stock of remedies to offset the poisons of heresy. This work is divided into three books comprising in all seven volumes and treating eighty heresies. The first twenty heresies are prior to Jesus Christ; the other sixty deal with Christian doctrine. In reality the number eighty may be reduced to seventy-seven, for among the twenty heresies prior to Christ only seventeen count. Three are generic names, namely Hellenism, Samaritanism, and Judaism. In the editions of the "Panarion" each heresy is numbered in order; hence it is customary to quote the "Panarion" as follows: Epiphanius, Haer. N (the number of the heresy). Necessarily much of the information in this great compilation varies in value. The "Panarion" reflects the character of Epiphanius and his method of working. Sometimes his ardour prevents him from inquiring carefully into the doctrines he opposes. Thus, on his own avowal (Haer., lxxi), he speaks of Apollinarianism on hearsay. At Constantinople he had to acknowledge the Origenist monks whom he opposed that he was not acquainted with either their school or their books, and that he only spoke from hearsay (Sozomen, "Hist. eccl.", VIII, xl). There is, however, in the "Panarion" much information not found elsewhere. Chapters devoted only to the doctrinal refutation of heresies are rare. As an apologist Epiphanius appeared generally weak to Photius.
  The "Panarion" furnishes very valuable information concerning the religious history of the fourth century, either because the author confines himself to transcribing documents preserved by him alone or because he writes down his personal observations. With regard to Hieracas (Haer., lxvii), he makes known a curious Egyptian sect by whom asceticism and intellectual work were equally esteemed. In connection with the Meletians of Egypt (Haer., lxviii), he has preserved important fragments of contemporary Egyptian history of this movement. With regard to Arianism (Haer., lxix), if he gives an apocryphal letter of Constantine, he transcribes two letters of Arius. He is the only one to give us any information concerning the Gothic sect of the Audians (Haer., lxx). He has made use of the lost report of the discussion between Photius (Haer., lxxi), and Basil of Ancyra. He has transcribed a very important letter from Bishop Marcellus of Ancyra (Haer., lxxii) to Pope Julius and fragments of the treatise of Acaius of Caesarea against Marcellus. With regard to the Semiarians (Haer., lxxiii), he gives in the Acts of the Council of Ancyra (358) a letter from Basil of Ancyra and one from George of Laodicea, and the stenographic text of a singular sermon of Melitius at the time of his installation at Antioch. In the chapter dealing with the Anomeans (Haer., lxxvi) he has preserved a monograph of Aetius.
  For the first three centuries Epiphanius was compelled to use the only literary sources. Some of these have been preserved, such as the great anti-heretical work of St. Irenaeus of Antioch, "Contra Haereses". Other ancient sources utilized by him have been lost, which gives exceptional value to his work. Thus he made use of the "Syntagma" of Hippolytus. The precise determination of all his sources is matter of controversy. His information is especially valuable with regard to the Samaritans (Haer., x-xiii), the Jews (Haer., xiii-xx), the Ebionites (Haer., xxx), and their Gospel; with regard to the Gnostics Valentius (Haer., xxxi) and Ptolemaeus (Haer., xxxiii), whose letter to Flora he quotes; and with regard to the Scriptural criticism of Marcion. The work ends with a long exposition of the Catholic faith. A summary of the "Penarion" is perhaps the work of Epiphanius. A work entitled "Of Measures and Weights" (De mensuribus et ponderibus) has a more general interest than might be imagined from the title. For the time it is a real "Introduction" to the Holy Scripture, containing the history of Biblical texts and Sacred archaeology. The treatise "On the Twelve Precious Stones" is an explanation of the ornaments of the high-priest's breastplate (Ex., xxviii, 17). Mention must finally be made of two letters of Epiphanius preserved in a Latin translation.
  In theological matters Epiphanius teaches the doctrine of the Catholic theologians of his time. In the vocabulary of Trinitarian theology he conforms to the language of the Greek Church. He speaks of three hypostases in the Trinity, whereas the Latins and the Paulicians of Antioch speak of one hypostasis in three persons. At bottom it was a mere matter of words, but for some time it occasioned theological dissensions. Ephiphanius clearly teaches that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son. The doctrine that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father only prevailed later in the Greek Church. This teaching cannot be traced to Epiphanius (Ancoratus, 8). With regard to the constitution of the Church, he is one of the most explicit of the Greek theologians concerning the primacy of St. Peter ("Ancoratus", 9; "Haer.", lix, 7). Two passages on the Eucharist are famous because they are among those which most clearly affirm the "Discipline of the Secret". The "Secret" was purely pedagogical and often neglected, consisting in grading the doctrinal initiation of catechumens and in not speaking before them of the Christian mysteries save in deliberately vague expressions. Hence the necessity of explaining the words of Epiphanius on the Eucharist ("Ancoratus", 57; "Haer.", xlii, 61). In these two passages, instead of quoting the words of the institution of the Eucharist, the author gives these: "Hoc meum est, hoc." Epiphanius is one of the chief authorities of the fourth century for the devotion to the Blessed Virgin. He expresses himself on the subject in connection with two heresies, of which one diminished, while the other exaggerated, this devotion (Haer." lxxviii, lxxix). A circumstance of his life is well known in the history of images, namely the destruction of an image in the church of Bethel ("Letter to John of Jerusalem" in P.G., XLIII, 390).
  His character is most clearly shown by the Origenist controversies, which demonstrated his disinterested zeal but also his quickness to suspect heresy, a good faith which was easily taken advantage of by the intriguing, and an ardour of conviction which caused him to forget the rules of canon law and to commit real abuses of power. He saw in Origen the chief cause of the heresies of his time, and especially of Arianism. He was particularly opposed to his allegorical method, his doctrines concerning the Son, in which he saw the subordination of the Son to the Father, his doctrines concerning the pre-existence of souls and the resurrection ("Ancoratus", 54, 62; "Haer.", lxiv). He did not confine himself to this condemnation of Origen. He reproached the monks and bishops of his time with accepting the Origenist errors. Thence resulted at the end of his life the conflict with John of Jerusalem and with St. John Chrysostom. Apart from the injustice of the controversy, he encroached on the jurisdiction of these bishops. He was made use of by Theophilus of Alexandria, the irreconcilable enemy of Chrysostom. The chief sources relative to this controversy are: St. Jerome, "Contra Joannem Hierosolymitanum" in P.L., XXIII, 355; Idem, "Ad Theophilum" in Pl L., XXII, 736; Epiphanius, "Ad Joannem Hierosolymitanum" in P.G., XLIII, 379; Socrates, "Hist. eccl.", VI, x-xiv; Sozomen, "Hist. eccl.", VIII, xiv-xv. The chief editions of Epiphanius's works are those of Petavius (Paris, 1622); Greek text, Latin tr., and notes reproduced with additions in P.G., XLI-XLIII; and of Dindorf (Leipzig, 1859-62), 5 vols., giving only the Greek text, improved in some parts.

Louis Saltet, ed.
Transcribed by: Stan Walker
This text is cited June 2004 from The Catholic Encyclopedia, New Advent online edition URL below.


Epiphanius (Epiphanios), a bishop of Salamis in Cyprus, in the fourth century. He was born of Jewish parents, near Eleutheropolis, in Palestine, about A.D. 320, and appears to have been educated in Egypt, where he imbibed the principles of the Gnostics. At length he left them, and, becoming an ascetic, returned to Palestine and adopted the discipline of St. Hilarion, the founder of monachism in that country. Epiphanius erected a monastery near the place of his birth, over which he presided till he was made bishop of Salamis in 367. Here he remained about thirty-six years, and composed most of his writings. In 391 he commenced a controversy with John, bishop of Jerusalem, relative to the Platonic doctrines of the learned and laborious Origen, against which he wrote and preached with implacable bitterness. John favoured Origen's views, but Epiphanius found in Theophilus, the violent bishop of Alexandria, a worthy coadjutor, who, in 399, convened a council and condemned all the works of Origen. Epiphanius himself then called a council in Cyprus, A.D. 401, and reiterated this condemnation. Afterwards, he embroiled himself with the empress Eudoxia; for on the occasion of her asking him to pray for the young Theodosius, who was dangerously ill, he replied that her son should live provided she would disavow the defenders of Origen. To this presumptuous message the empress indignantly answered that her son's life was not in the power of Epiphanius, whose prayers were unable to save that of his own archdeacon who had recently died. After thus vainly endeavouring to gratify his sectarian animosity, he resolved to return to Cyprus; but he died at sea on the passage, A.D. 403.
    The principal works of Epiphanius are: (1) Panarion, or a Treatise on Heresies--that is, peculiar sects (haireseis). This is the most important of his writings and treats of eighty sects, from the time of Adam to the latter part of the fourth century. (2) Anakephalaiosis, or an Epitome of the Panarion. (3) Ankuroton, or a Discourse on the Faith, explaining the doctrine of the Trinity, Resurrection, etc. (4) A treatise on the ancient weights, measures, and coins of the Jews. St. Jerome admires Epiphanius for his skill in the Hebrew, Syriac, Egyptian, Greek, and Latin languages, and styles him "Pentaglottus" (Pentaglottos), or the Five-tongued. His writings are of great value, as containing numerous citations from curious works which are no longer extant.

This text is from: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Cited Nov 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


Epiphanius, (Epiphanios), bishop of Constantia and metropolitan of Cyprus, was born at Bezanduca, a small town in Palestine, in the district of Eleutheropolis, in the first part of the fourth century. (Sozomen. vi. 32.) His parents were Jews. He went to Egypt when young, and there appears to have been tainted with Gnostic errors, but afterwards feli into the hands of some monks, and by them was made a strong advocate for the monastic life, and strongly imbued with their own narrow spirit. He returned to Palestine, and lived there for some time as a monk, having founded a monastery near his native place. In A. D. 367 he was chosen bishop of Constantia, the metropolis of the Isle of Cyprus, formerly called Salamis. His writings shew him to have been a man of great reading; for he was acquainted with Hebrew, Syriac, Egyptian, Greek, and Latin, and was therefore called pentaglossos. But he was entirely without critical or logical power, of real piety, but also of a very bigoted and dogmatical turn of mind, unable to distinguish the essential from the nonessential in doctrinal differences, and always ready to suppose that some dangerous heresy lurked in any statement of belief which varied a little from the ordinary form of expression. It was natural that to such a man Origen, whom he could not understand, should appear a dangerous teacher of error; and accordingly in his work on heresies he thinks it necessary to give an essential warning against him. A report that Origen's opinions were spreading in Palestine, and sanctioned even by John, bishop of Jerusalem, excited Epiphanius to such a pitch, that he left Cyprus to investigate the matter on the spot. At Jerusalem he preached so violent a sermon against any abettors of Origen's errors, and made such evident allusions to the bishop, that John sent his Archdeacon to beg him to stop. Afterwards, when John preached against anthropomorphism (of a tendency to which Epiphanius had been suspected) he was followed up to the pulpit by his undaunted antagonist, who announced that he agreed in John's censure of Anthropomorphites, but that it was equally necessary to condemn Origenists. Having excited sufficient commotion at Jerusalem, Epiphanius repaired to Bethlehem, where he was all-powerful with the monks; and there he was so successful in his denuneiation of heresy, that he persuaded some to renounce their connexion with the bishop of Jerusalem. After this he allowed his zeal to get the better of all considerations of church order and decency, to such an extent, that he actually ordained Paullinianus to the office of presbyter, that he might perform the ministerial functions for the monks (who, as usual at that time, were laymen), and so prevent them from applying to Jerusalem to supply this want. John naturally protested loudly against this interference with his diocese, and appealed for help to the two patriarchal sees of Alexandria and Rome. Peace was not restored to the Church for some time. The next quarrel in which Epiphanius was involved was with Chrysostom. Some monks of Nitria had been expelled by Theophilus, bishop of Alexandria, as Origenists, but were received and protected at Constantinople. Upon this Theophilus persuaded Epiphanius, now almost in his dotage, to summon a council of Cyprian bishops, which he did A. D. 401. This assembly passed a sentence of condemnation on Origen's books, which was made known to Chrysostom by letter; and Epiphanius proceeded in person to Constantinople, to take part in the pending dispute. Chrysostom was irritated by Epiphanius interfering in the government of his diocese; and the latter, just before his return home, is reputed to have given vent to his bad feeling by the scandalous malediction, "I hope that you will not die a bishop!" upon which Chrysostom replied,--" I hope you will never get home !" (Sozomen. viii. 15.) For the credit of that really great and Christian man, it is to be hoped that the story is incorrect; and as both wishes were granted, it bears strong marks of a tale invented after the deaths of the two disputants. Epiphanius died on board the ship, which was conveying him back to Cyprus, A. D. 402, leaving us a melancholy example of the unchristian excesses into which bigotry may hurry a man of real piety, and a sincere desire to do God service.
  The extant works of Epiphanius are (1) Ancoraius, a discourse on the faith, being an exposition of the doctrine of the Trinity; (2) Panarium, a discourse against Heresies, of which he attacks no less than eighty; (3) An epitome of 2, called Anacephalaeosis ; (4) De Ponderibus et Mensuris liber ; (5) Two Epistles ; the first to John bishop of Jerusalem, translated by Jerome into Latin; the second to Jerome himself, in whose works they are both found. A great number of Epiphanius's writings are lost. The earliest editions were at Basle, in Latin, translated by Cornarius, 1543, and again in the following year sumtu et typis Jo. Hervagii. The edition of Dionysius Petavius, in Greek and Latin, appeared at Paris, 1622, 2 vols. fol., and at Leipzig, 1682, with a commentary by Valesius. (Sozomen. l. c.; Hieronym. Apol. 1. adv. Rufin.; Cave, Hist. Litt. vol. i.; Neander, Kirchengeschichte, vol. ii.)

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


St. Aristion

d. 1st century, feastday: February 22


Bishops

Epiphanius the Younger

Epiphanius. Of Constantia and metropolitan of Cyprus, surnamed the Younger, was represented at the third council of Constantinople (the sixth general council) by the bishop of Trimithus, one of his suffragans. Several of the discourses which have been regarded as written by the great Epiphanius are by acuter judges ascribed either to this Epiphanius, or to a third of the same name and bishopric. A work extant in MS. in the Library of St. Mark at Venice, and in the Imperial Library at Vienna, is also by some ascribed to this writer or the following. (Labbe, Concilia, vol. vi. col. 1058; Fabric. Bibl. Graec. vol. viii., x. ; Petavius, Preface to the second volume of his edition of Epiphanius ; Oudin, Commentarius de Scriptor. Eccles. vol. ii. 318. 19.)

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


Arcadius, bishop of Constantia

Arcadius, bishop of Constantia in Cyprus, wrote a life of Simeon Stylita, the younger. surnamed Thaumastorita, several passages from which are quoted in the Acts of the second council of Nice. A few other works, which exist in MS., are ascribed to him. (Fabric. Bib. Graec. xi., xii..) Cave (Diss. de Script,. Icnert. Aet.) places him before the eighth century.


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