Damascenus, Joannes, (Ioannes Damaskenos), a voluminous ecclesiastical writer,
who flourished during the first half of the eighth century after Christ, in the
reigns of Leo Isauricus and Constantine VII. He was a native of Damascus, whence
he derived his surname, and belonged to a family of high rank. His oratorical
powers procured him the surname of Chrysorrhoas, but he was also stigmatized by
his enemies with various derogatory nicknames, such as Sarabaita, Mansur, and
Arclas. He devoted himself to the service of the church, and after having obtained
the dignity of presbyter, he entered the monastery of St. Saba at Jerusalem, where
he spent the remainder of his life, devoting himself to literary pursuits, especially
the study of theology. He seems to have died, at the earliest, about A. D. 756,
and his tomb was shewn near St. Saba down to a very late period. He is regarded
as a saint both by the Greek and Latin churches; the former celebrates his memory
on the 29th of November and the 4th of December, and the latter on the 6th of
May. His life, which is still extant, was written by Joannes, patriarch of Jerusalem;
but little confidence can be placed in it, as the facts are there mixed up with
the most incredible stories. It is printed in Surius's Lives of the Saints, under
the 6th of May.
All the writers who mention Joannes Damascenus agree in asserting, that he surpassed all his contemporaries as a philosopher and by the extensive range of his knowledge. This reputation is sufficiently supported by the great number of his works which have come down to us, though he was extremely deficient in critical judgment, which is most apparent in the stories which he relates in confirmation of the doctrines he propounds. He was a strong opponent of those who insisted upon removing all images from the Christian churches, and upon abolishing prayers for the dead. We pass over the several collections of his works, as well as the separate editions of single treatises, and only refer our readers to the best edition of his works, which was prepared and edited by Michael le Quien, Paris, 1712, in 2 vols. fol., though it is far from containing all the works that are still extant under his name, and are buried in MS. in the various libraries of Europe. It contains the following works: 1. Kephalaia philosophika, or the main points of philosophy and dialectics. 2. Peri haireseon, on heresies and their origin. 3. Ekdosis akribes tes orthodoxou pisteos, an accurate exposition of the orthodox faith. 4. Pros tous diaballontas tas hagias eikonos, a treatise against those who opposed the use of images in churches. 5. Libellos neri orthou pronoematos, that is, a confession of faith. 6. Tomos, i. e. a work against the Jacobites and Monophysites or Eutychians. 7. Kata Manichaimn dialogos, a discourse against the Manicheans. 8. Dialogos Sarakenou kai Christianou, a dialogue between a Saracen and a Christian. 9. Peri drakonton, a fragment on dragons. 10. Peri hagias triados, on the holy trinity. 11. Peri tou trisagiou humnou, on the hymn entitled Trisagium. 12. Peri ton hagion nesteion, on fasts. 13. Peri ton okto tes ponerias pneumaton, on the eight spirits of wickedness. 14. Eisagoge dogmaton stoicheiodes. elementary instruction in the Christian dogmas. 15. Peri sunthetou phuseos, a treatise directed against the Acephalians. 16. Peri ton en toi Christoi duo belematon kai energeion kai loipon phusikon idiomaton, on the twofold will and action of Christ, and on the other physical properties. 17. Epos akribestaton kata beostugous haireseos ton Nestorianon, against the heresies of the Nestorians. 18. A number of fragments on various subjects. 19. Paschalion, or a paschal canon. 20. A fragment of a letter on the nature of man. 21. A treatise on those who had died in the faith of Christ, and on the manner in which their souls may be benefited by masses and alms. 22. A letter on confession. 23. Logos apodeiktikos peri ton hagion kai septon eikonon, an oration on the veneration due to sacred images. 24. An epistle on the same subject, addressed to Theophilus. 25. Peri ton asumon, on the east of unleavened bread. 26. An epistle addressed to Zacharias, bishop of the Doari. 27. An exposition of the Christian faith : it is only in Latin, and a translation from an Arabic MS. 28. Some poems in iambics on sacred subjects. 29. An abridgment of the interpretation of the letters of St. Paul by Joannes Chrysostomus. 30. Hiera parallela, sacred parallels, consisting of passages of Scripture compared with the doctrines of the early fathers. 31. A number of homilies. (Fabric. Bibl. Graec. ix.; Cave, Hist. Lit. i., ed. London, 1688.)
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
d. 1st century, feastday: February 25
Theologian, homilist, hymnographer, born at Damascus about the middle of the seventh century.
d. unknown, feastday: November 1
d. 1860, feastday: July 10
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