The Fourth Century
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351 Battle of Mursa (the see of Valens), September 28. Constantius defeated Magnentius.
351 First Council of Sirmium. Sirmium was an important border town in Illyria, near the Danube. As such, the emperor Constantius was often in residence there to conduct border wars. This council ousted Photinus, bishop of Sirmium. In opposition to Photinus’ doctrine that the Son of God did not exist before the Son of the Virgin, the council asserted that the Old Testament theophanies were appearances of the pre-incarnate Christ. Gen 19.24 was mentioned in particular – the Lord (the Son) rained down fire from the Lord (the Father). The council also issued a version of the fourth creed from Antioch (341).
351 With Constans’ death, the emperor Constantius had a free hand to act against the Nicene bishops. He deposed Marcellus of Ancyra and reinstated Basil. Simularly, he replaced Paul (337, 342, 346) with Macedonius, sending Paul into exile to Cucusus in Cappadocia , where he was murdered. According to Athansius (History of the Arians, 1.7), Paul was strangled by Philip, the prefect of Cucusus.
352 Liberius (bishop from 352-366) became bishop of Rome.
353 Hilary became bishop of Poitiers. He violently denounced people who held that Mary had not remained a virgin after Jesus’ birth, and maintained that Jesus’ brothers were Joseph’s children by an earlier marriage.
353 The emperor Constantius felt that the way to oust the Nicene bishops, Athanasius in particular, was to have the Western bishops, historically Athanasius’ supporters, condemn him. At Constantius’ wish, a council was held at Arles to consider the old charges against Athanasius. The council was run by the Arian bishop of Arles, Saturninus. Athanasius was found guilty by nearly all present. However, Constantius was too busy with a war on the frontiers of Gaul to proceed further against Athanasius at that time.
354 St. Augustine was born in Thagaste, Numidia (now Algeria).
354/5 The emperor Constantius had a council meet at Milan to condemn Athanasius. Three bishops who disagreed with Constantius’ desired verdict of guilty were sent into exile.
In this year, Hilary of Poitiers began to induce bishops of Gaul to withdraw from communion with Saturninus of Arles, and with Ursacius and Valens, the disciples of Arius who were now influential with Constantius. Hilary also wrote a letter to Constantius protesting that Athanasius had been found innocent by councils long before, and the Arians guilty – so it was egregious for the condemned to be allowed to intrigue against the innocent.
356 Hilary of Poitiers exiled to Asia after being found guilty of some unspecified misconduct by a council at Beziers, presided over by Saturninus. Many Western bishops who refused to condemn Athanasius were sent East during this period.
Athanasius was again removed from his see in Alexandria. George, a radical Arian, became bishop of Alexandria, entering the city on February 24, 357.
emperor Constantius sent a letter to the rulers of Axum (Ethiopia) requesting
they replace bishop Frumentius with an Arian. Natives of Tyre, Frumentius
and his brother Aedesius had been shipwrecked off the Ethiopian coast.
When rescued, they became slaves of the king of Axum, and used their respective
positions as treasurer and cup-bearer to spread the gospel. When the
king died, the brothers were freed. Aedesius returned to Tyre and became
a priest. Frumentius traveled to Egypt, seeking a bishop for the Ethiopians;
the patriarch there, Athanasius, appointed Frumentius himself their bishop.
Frumentius returned to Ethiopia and labored for Christ among that people.
He died around 370.
this year and 362, Athanasius, patriarch of Alexandria, wrote his Life of St. Anthony (see 285).
This work includes two visions of the afterlife.
The first tells of how Anthony, while a thirteen day journey from Nitria,
where the monk Amun had lived, saw Amun’s soul ascend into heaven.
It was later verified that the vision coincided with the moment of Amun‘s
death. In the second, Anthony was caught up in the spirit: “He
stood and saw himself, as it were, from outside himself, and that he was
led in the air by certain ones. Next certain bitter and terrible beings
stood in the air and wished to hinder him from passing through. But
when his conductors opposed them, they demanded whether he was not accountable
to them. And when they wished to sum up the account from his birth,
Antony‘s conductors stopped them, saying, ‘The Lord hath wiped out the sins
from his birth, but from the time he became a monk, and devoted himself to
God, it is permitted you to make a reckoning.’ Then when they accused
him and could not convict him, his way was free and unhindered. And
immediately he saw himself, as it were, coming and standing by himself, and
again he was Antony as before.” The picture of angels leading the souls
upward, and demons accusing it of sins, occurs again in Diodachos (see 486).
357 Liberius, bishop of Rome, was also exiled at about this time (the dates are somewhat uncertain - 355 is another possibility). In a conference with Constantius, Liberius refused to condemn Athanasius, and was exiled to Thrace. Liberius returned to Rome in 358 when Basil of Ancyra gained Constantius’ confidence, temporarily ousting Valens. Liberius subscribed to a statement condemning Athanasius, but under duress. Athanasius wrote of Liberius’ fall with sympathy and compassion (History of the Arians, Part V).
After Constantius banished Liberius, an archdeacon became Felix II, bishop of Rome. Upon Liberius’ return, Felix was forced to remove to Porto. At one time, Felix was listed as a Roman Catholic saint. His feast day fell on July 29.
357 Under the influence of Valens, the Second Council of Sirmium was held, at which Hosius and Potamius composed their blasphemy. This creed insisted upon the unique Godhead of the Father and deplored both the homoousion (Athanasius and the West) and homoiousion (Basil of Ancyra and most of the East), along with all discussion of essence, as unscriptural. The “blasphemy,” from Athanasius’ de Synodis:
The Blasphemy of Hosius: “Whereas it seemed good that there should be some discussion concerning faith, all points were carefully investigated and discussed at Sirmium in the presence of Valens, and Ursacius, and Germinius, and the rest. It is held for certain that there is one God, the Father Almighty, as also is preached in all the world.
“And His One Only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, generated from Him before the ages; and that we may not speak of two Gods, since the Lord Himself has said, `I go to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God' (John 20.17). On this account He is God of all, as also the Apostle taught: `Is He God of the Jews only, is He not also of the Gentiles? yea of the Gentiles also: since there is one God who shall justify the circumcision from faith, and the uncircumcision through faith' (Rom. 3.29, 30); and every thing else agrees, and has no ambiguity.
“But since many persons are disturbed by questions concerning what is called in Latin `Substantia,' but in Greek `ousia,' that is, to make it understood more exactly, as to `Coessential,' or what is called, `Like-in-Essence,' there ought to be no mention of any of these at all, nor exposition of them in the Church, for this reason and for this consideration, that in divine Scripture nothing is written about them, and that they are above men's knowledge and above men's understanding; and because no one can declare the Son's generation, as it is written, `Who shall declare His generation' (Is. 53. 8)? for it is plain that the Father only knows how He generated the Son, and again the Son how He has been generated by the Father. And to none can it be a question that the Father is greater for no one can doubt that the Father is greater in honour and dignity and Godhead, and in the very name of Father, the Son Himself testifying, `The Father that sent Me is greater than I' (John 10.29, 14.28). And no one is ignorant, that it is Catholic doctrine, that there are two Persons of Father and Son, and that the Father is greater, and the Son subordinated to the Father together with all things which the Father has subordinated to Him, and that the Father has no beginning, and is invisible, and immortal, and impassible; but that the Son has been generated from the Father, God from God, Light from Light, and that His origin, as aforesaid, no one knows, but the Father only. And that the Son Himself and our Lord and God, took flesh, that is, a body, that is, man, from Mary the Virgin, as the Angel preached beforehand; and as all the Scriptures teach, and especially the Apostle himself, the doctor of the Gentiles, Christ took man of Mary the Virgin, through which He has suffered. And the whole faith is summed up, and secured in this, that a Trinity should ever be preserved, as we read in the Gospel, `Go ye and baptize all the nations in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost' (Matt. 28.19). And entire and perfect is the number of the Trinity; but the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, sent forth through the Son, came according to the promise, that He might teach and sanctify the Apostles and all believers.”
The blasphemy was too shocking for most Eastern bishops. In the view of some historians, this council began the collapse of the Arian cause.
357 Eudoxius became bishop of Antioch.
357 The controversy over the place of the Holy Spirit in the Godhead reached center stage. Macedonius of Constantinople led a group opposed to the divinity of the Spirit. These became known as Pneumatomachi, or Spirit Fighters (also known as Macedonians). Athanasius wrote Letters to Serapion, in which he argues for the Spirit’s divinity.
358 The Sirmium blasphemy was hailed by the Homoeans, assembled at Antioch. Under the pretext that Western bishops had denounced the homoousion and the homoiousion at Syrmium, Eudoxius advocated the anomoios (dissimilar) theology of the layman Aetius: Jesus was not divine at all. Those who advocated this view are referred to as Anomoeans.
358 Constantius brought Liberius of Rome from exile in Thrace to Sirmium. Liberius subscribed to one of the dedication creeds of 341, and was allowed to return to Rome.
358 On report of the strong influence of Aetius in Antioch, Basil of Ancyra held a council with local bishops during Lent and drafted a synodical letter which asserted the essential likeness (homoion kat’ ousion) of the Son to the Father. He proceeded to the court of Sirmium, gained the Constantius’ support, and the approval of the formula at a council.
The anathemas of the council of Antioch (from Hilary, De Synodis): “(1) If any one hearing that the Son is the image of the invisible God, says that the image of God is the same as the invisible God, as though refusing to confess that He is truly Son: let him be anathema. (2) And if any one hearing the Son say, As the Father hath life in Himself, so also hath He given to the Son to have life in Himsel (John 5.26), shall say that He who has received life from the Father, and who also declares, I live by the Father (John 6.57), is the same as He who gave life: let him be anathema. (3) And if any one hearing that the Only-begotten Son is like the invisible God, denies that the Son who is the image of the invisible God (whose image is understood to include essence) is Son in essence, as though denying His true Sonship: let him be anathema. (4) And if any one hearing this text, For as the Father hath life in Himself so also He hath given to the Son to have life in Himsef (John 5.26); denies that the Son is like the Father even in essence, though He testifies that it is even as He has said; let him be anathema. For it is plain that since the life which is understood to exist in the Father signifies substance, and the life of the Only-begotten which was begotten of the Father is also understood to mean substance or essence, He there signifies a likeness of essence to essence. (5) If any one hearing the words formed or created it and begat me spoken by the same lips (Prov 8.22), refuses to understand this begat me of likeness of essence, but says that begat me and formed me are the same: as if to deny that the perfect Son of God was here signified as Son under two different expressions, as Wisdom has given Us to piously understand, and asserts that formed me and begat me only imply formation and not sonship: let him be anathema. (6) And if any one grant the Son only a likeness of activity, but rob Him of the likeness of essence which is the corner-stone of our faith, in spite of the fact that the Son Himself reveals His essential likeness with the Father in the words, For as the Father hath life in Himself, so also hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself, as well as His likeness in activity by teaching us that What things soever the Father doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise (John 5.19), such a man robs himself of the knowledge of eternal life which is in the Father and the Son, and let him be anathema. (7) And if any one professing that he believes that there is a Father and a Son, says that the Father is Father of an essence unlike Himself but of similar activity; for speaking profane and novel words against the essence of the Son and nullifying His true divine Sonship, let him be anathema. (8) And if any one understanding that the Son is like in essence to Him whose Son He is admitted to be, says that the Son is the same as the Father, or part of the Father, or that it is through an emanation or any such passion as is necessary for the procreation of corporeal children that the incorporeal Son draws His life from the incorporeal Father: let him be anathema. (9) And if any one, because the Father is never admitted to be the Son and the Son is never admitted to be the Father, when he says that the Son is other than the Father (because the Father is one Person and the Son another, inasmuch as it is said, There is another that beareth witness of Me, even the father who sent Me (John 5.32) ), does in anxiety for the distinct personal qualities of the Father and the Son which in the Church must be piously understood to exist, fear that the Son and the Father may sometimes be admitted to be the same Person, and therefore denies that the Son is like in essence to the Father: let him be anathema. (10) And if any one admits that God became Father of the Only-begotten Son at any point in time and not that the Only-begotten Son came into existence without passion beyond all times and beyond all human calculation: for contravening the teaching of the Gospel which scorned any interval of times between the being of the Father and the Son and faithfully has instructed us that In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1.1), let him be anathema. (11) And if any one says that the Father is older in times than His Only-begotten Son, and that the Son is younger than the Father: let him be anathema. (12) And if any one attributes the timeless substance (i.e. Person) of the Only-begotten Son derived from the Father to the unborn essence of God, as though calling the Father Son: let him be anathema.”
Basil supported the homoiousion (of like nature) party, which constituted the majority of Eastern churchmen. They are sometimes referred to as the Conservative party, and sometimes as Semiarians. These bishops were concerned that the Nicene homoousion led to Sabellianism. They saw the insertion of the iota as a means of avoiding a theological confusion of the persons in the Godhead.
This was Constantius’ theology at the moment as well. In a letter sent to the clergy at Antioch, after condemning their bishop Eudoxius, Constantius wrote: “Recall to your recollection the words of which we made use, when we first made a declaration of our belief; for we confessed that our Savior is the Son of God, and of like substance with the Father.
Valens of Mursa endorsed the Anomoean theology. He sought a formula to replace the Nicene homoousion, which would permit this dissimilarity. He did so by advocating the Homoean view, that the Son is like (homoion) the Father, but not in essence. This likeness, not being essential, would be in Valens’ view an essential dissimilarity
359 For about a year, Valens and Basil of Ancyra had vied for influence with the emperor. Valens pushed for his formula, which stated that the Son is like the Father without qualification, while Basil argued for the homoousion position. The two reached a compromise (essentially, Basil buckled): at the Third Council of Sirmium a creed was drafted, known as the dated creed from the fact that it bears the date May 23, 359. The creed was written in preparation for the council to be held at Rimini (Ariminum) and Seleucia, as a trial solution. It held that the Son is like the Father, according to the scripture, but prohibited the use of the term ousia. This statement did not specify that the likeness is essential, which is the maneuvering room Valens desired; but it also didn’t claim that the Son was unlike the Father – a position Constantius would not agree with. The dated creed, according to Socrates in his Ecclesiastical History:
“The catholic faith was expounded at Sirmium in presence of our lord Constantius, in the consulate of the most illustrious Flavius Eusebius, and Hypatius, on the twenty-third of May.
“We believe in one only and true God, the Father Almighty, the Creator and Framer of all things: and in one only-begotten Son of God, before all ages, before all beginning, before all conceivable time, and before all comprehensible thought, begotten without passion: by whom the ages were framed, and all things made: who was begotten as the only-begotten of the Father, only of only, God of God, like to the Father who begat him, according to the Scriptures: whose generation no one knows, but the Father only who begat him. We know that this his only-begotten Son came down from the heavens by his Father's consent for the putting away of sin, was born of the Virgin Mary, conversed with his disciples, and fulfilled every dispensation according to the Father's will: was crucified and died, and descended into the lower parts of the earth, and disposed matters there; at the sight of whom the (door-keepers of Hades trembled): having arisen on the third day, he again conversed with his disciples, and after forty days were completed he ascended into the heavens, and is seated at the Father's right hand; and at the last day he will come in his Father's glory to render to every one according to his works.
“[We believe] also in the Holy Spirit, whom the only-begotten Son of God Jesus Christ himself promised to send to the human race as the Comforter, according to that which is written: ‘I go away to my Father, and will ask him, and he will send you another Comforter, the Spirit of truth. He shall receive of mine, and shall teach you, and bring all things to your remembrance.’ As for the term ‘substance,’ which was used by our fathers for the sake of greater simplicity, but not being understood by the people has caused offense on account of the fact that the Scriptures do not contain it, it seemed desirable that it should be wholly abolished, and that in future no mention should be made of substance in reference to God, since the divine Scriptures have nowhere spoken concerning the substance of the Father and the Son. But we say that the Son is in all things like the Father, as the Holy Scriptures affirm and teach.”
359 Constantius called an ecumenical council to meet in two locations: the West in Italy at Rimini (Ariminum), and the East at Seleucia in Asia Minor (Isauria). At Seleucia, 160 bishops attended. It is estimated that ¾ of them were Conservatives or Semiarians (Basil’s party), while the remaining quarter were either uncompromising Arians or loyal to the Nicene creed. The Lucianic creed of the Council of Dedication (341) was adopted. The Arians were excommunicated, and a successor was named for the Arian bishop Eudoxius of Antioch.
The council at Rimini endorsed the Nicene formula. Each council sent a deputation to Constantius.
At Nike in Thrace, Valens hoodwinked the deputation from the Western council into signing a version of the dated creed, saying that the Son is `like the Father in all things, as Scripture says.' The statement, apparently, was what Constantius wanted - a broad statement that everyone could interpret as he liked and agree to. Valens thus regained Constantius’ favor, at Basil of Ancyra and the Semiarian party’s expense. The creed of Nike, as given by Athanasius in de Synodis:
“We believe in One God, Father Almighty, from whom are all things;
“And in the Only-begotten Son of God, begotten from God before all ages and before every beginning, by whom all things were made, visible and invisible, and begotten as only-begotten, only from the Father only, God from God, like to the Father that begat Him according to the Scriptures; whose origin no one knows, except the Father alone who begat Him. He as we acknowledge, the Only-begotten Son of God, the Father sending Him, came hither from the heavens, as it is written, for the undoing of sin and death, and was born of the Holy Ghost, of Mary the Virgin according to the flesh, as it is written, and convened with the disciples, and having fulfilled the whole Economy according to the Father's will, was crucified and dead and buried and descended to the parts below the earth; at whom hades itself shuddered: who also rose from the dead on the third day, and abode with the disciples, and, forty days being fulfilled, was taken up into the heavens, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father, to come in the last day of the resurrection in the Father's glory, that He may render to every man according to his works.
“And in the Holy Ghost, whom the Only-begotten Son of God Himself, Christ, our Lord and God, promised to send to the race of man, as Paraclete, as it is written, `the Spirit of truth' (John 16.13), which He sent unto them when He had ascended into the heavens.
“But the name of `Essence,' which was set down by the Fathers in simplicity, and, being unknown by the people, caused offence, because the Scriptures contain it not, it has seemed good to abolish, and for the future to make no mention of it at all; since the divine Scriptures have made no mention of the Essence of Father and Son. For neither ought Subsistence to be named concerning Father, Son, and Holy Ghost But, we say that the Son is Like the Father, as the divine Scriptures say and teach; and all the heresies, both those which have been afore condemned already, and whatever are of modern date, being contrary to this published statement, be they anathema.”
The Semi-Arianswere defeated by Valens’ influence at court, swept from their sees and replaced by Homoeans.
Jerome wrote of the council of Rimini, “the world groaned to find itself Arian.”
359 The Persians under Shapur II attacked Amida on the upper Tigris, beginning the war that ended with the death of Julian the Apostate in 363.
360 A council in Constantinople, called to celebrate the dedication of the church of Sancta Sophia, promulgated a creed (a version of the Nike creed of 359) that stated the Son is like the Father, without further qualification. (Aetius, who could not agree to say that the Son is like the Father in any way, was exiled.) Soon thereafter, Basil and Macedonius of Constantinople (see 337, 342, 346) were deposed on charges of misconduct. Though Macedonius was deposed, the Pneumatomachi were clearly marked off as a party.
Eudoxius of Antioch became bishop of Constantinople (see year 357).
360 Athanasius, head of the homoousios party, realized that he and the homoiousios (“like in substance”) party (led by Basil of Ancyra) were really allies. He wrote, “Those who accept the Nicene creed but have doubts about the term homoousios must not be treated as enemies...” He pointed out that though properties may be alike, essences cannot be, but are either the same or different. When the homoiousians realized this, he believed, they would come over to his side.
360 Meletius, formerly bishop of Sebastea, was elected bishop of Antioch when Eudoxius was translated to Constantinople. Within a few weeks, Meletius, who expressed too much sympathy for the Nicene position, was banished by Constantius, and replaced by Euzoios, an Arian.
360 By this year, the church in Edessa observed a festival of All Martyrs on May 13th.
361 Constantius died, November 3, 361. Julian “the Apostate” became emperor. He died in 363 during a campaign against the Persians. Julian proclaimed his paganism and, in hopes of further disrupting the church, published an edict recalling all bishops exiled by Constantius. Julian also gave permission and provided funds for the Jews to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. This project was terminated by an earthquake.
Ambrose mentions (Letter 40) that the Jews burned two basilicas in Damascus, others in Gaza, Ascalon, Berytus and Alexandria during Julian’s reign.
361 First mention of Epiphany in the West. Its observance in Gaul was noted by Ammianus Marcellinus, a pagan. Curiously, there is no record of December 25 observance in transalpine Gaul during the fourth century.
362 On Feb 9, Julian published an edict that recalled the bishops who had been exiled by Constantius.
362 Athanasius restored to his see. End of his third and last exile prolonged exile. Athanasius was to be forced to depart from Alexandria for short periods in 362/3 and 365 also.
362 Beginning of the schism in Antioch. A famous ascetic named Paulinus was elected bishop of Antioch. He was ordained by Lucifer of Caralis (Cagliari, Sardinia), a strict adherent to the Nicene formula. The party supporting Paulinus were known as Eustathians after the pro-Nicene bishop Eustathius, whom the Arians had deposed in 328. Meletius was already bishop of Antioch. He had been banished (see 360) by Constantius, then returned soon after Julian’s edict of February 9.
362 A new group, known as the Tropici, appeared in the Nile delta. They denied the deity of the Holy Spirit, terming him simply a ministering spirit, and were condemned at the council in Alexandria.
362 Athanasius called a council in Alexandria to deal with (1) terms under which to accept the Arians back into communion and (2) to sort out the succession at Antioch (see below). It was decided to accept the Arians on the grounds of their subscription to the Nicene formula and their repudiation of Arianism, including the doctrine that the Holy Spirit is a creature. This council was of key importance. Jerome said that by its judicious conciliation it “snatched the world from the jaws of Satan.” Exiles returned across the empire (see year 356) and the example of this council was followed, reunion being accomplished on Nicaean, not Homoean, grounds.
There were three rival bishops in Antioch, two of whom are anti-Arian, Meletius and Paulinus. In the course of the council, Athanasius began to act on the principle that orthodoxy is a matter of intentions, not of formulas. One logomachy dealt with the use of the term hypostases. The anti-Sabellian tradition following Origen had spoken of three hypostases, meaning three entities existing in their own right, as a safeguard against the notion that the Father, Son and Spirit are just descriptions of different divine attributes. But, to some, “three hypostases” seemed like tritheism. Meletius spoke of three hypostases, but Paulinus of one. Based on loyalties, Rome and Athanasius recognize Paulinus as rightful bishop of Antioch, but they considered Meletius orthodox.
362 The colossal statue of Apollo in Antioch of Syria, made of gold with jewels for eyes, was destroyed by fire.
363 On 26 June, the emperor Julian died during a battle with the Persians.
363 The council of Laodicea (in the Lycus valley, Phrygia) enumerated the canon of scripture in Canon 60, which is of doubtful authenticity. The New Testament canonical books were those we now receive, with the exception of Revelation, which Laodicea did not accept.
The Old Testament agreed with the modern Protestant Old Testament, with the addition of Baruch and the Epistle. (Unlike Athanasius, Laodicea included Esther.)
Theologians of the Alexandrian school generally agreed with Athanasius: Cyril of Jerusalem, Gregory of Nazianzus, and Epiphanius, for example. The Antiochene school (e.g., John Chrysostom and Theodoret) was more favorable towards the "Apocrypha." Though the East was generally hesitant about the Apocrypha, the West was favorable.
The synod’s fifty-nine other canons affirmed the lawfulness of receiving the remarried and contrite to communion; determined that Montanists who converted were to be baptized; and forbade Christians from praying in the graveyards of heretics, honoring heretical martyrs instead of faithful ones, receiving the blessings of heretics, praying with heretics or schismatics, marrying their children to heretics, holding “love feasts” in the church, judaizing by resting on Saturday, receiving portions from the feasts of heretics or Jews, or clubbing “together for drinking entertainments.” The council also passed various canons regarding propriety in the worship service and the Lenten season. It addressed the travel of bishops for synods and forbade the travel of priests and other clergy without the bishop’s permission. It forbade the clergy from being magicians, from manufacturing magic amulets, and from seeing plays at weddings and banquets.
The exact date of this synod is not known. It has been placed as early as 343 and as late as 381.
363 A council met in Antioch in this year. By this time, the Arians were split into three groups: the Acacians who, following Acacius, said that the Son was like the Father , without making further clarification; the Semiarians, or homoiousions; and the Aetians, who held that the Son was unlike the Father. Later, the Aetians would by termed Eunomians. This council of Antioch has been termed an Acacian synod.
364 Valentinian I (364-75) became Emperor. He restored the division of the empire, taking the West and entrusting the East to his brother Valens (364-78). Valens’ wife swayed him in favor of Eudoxius, the Arian bishop of Constantinople, and then in favor of his Arian successor, Demophilus.
364 Basil, later bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia, ordained to the priesthood. About this time he wrote his books against Eunomius. Eunomius was a follower of Aetius, who formed an ecclesiastical sect centered in Constantinople. Eunomius was condemned at the second ecumenical council in Constantinople in 381 and died ~394.
According to Sozomen (vi, 26), Eunomius was accused of being the first to baptize with single immersion. Theodoret adds that he also abandoned the invocation of the Trinity at baptism.
364 At a council in Lampsacus, the Semiarians opposed the councils of Arminium (359) and Constantinople (360), reissuing instead the Lucianic creed of Antioch (341). They also deposed Acacius of Caesarea in Palestine.
365 On May 5, the emperor Valens sent the bishops whom Julian had permitted to return to their sees (see 362) back into exile. Meletius, one of three rival bishops in Antioch, remained in that city.
366 Semiarian deputies sent to Liberius in Rome from the council of Lampsacus. They subscribed to the Nicene creed, thus demonstrating their orthodoxy.
366 Liberius, bishop of Rome, died. He had subscribed to an Arian creed (see year 358), but continued to govern the church in Rome. Damasus and Ursinus battled for the bishopric of Rome. At the end of one day, 137 corpses were counted in the Liberian basilica. Damasus won and ruled through 384. In Damasus’ time, Latin was used in the Roman liturgy for the first time.
Damasus wrote that Rome was the “first see of the apostle Peter” and the “apostolic see.” He began the habit of using the “plural of majesty” in his writings, and he addressed his fellow bishops for the first time as “sons,” instead of the traditional “brothers.” Damasus claimed to be the “exclusive inheritor of all, and more than all, that the New Testament tells us of the prerogative of St. Peter.” He also claimed that the authority of the council of Nicaea was based on its acceptance by Sylvester, his predecessor. Much of this verbiage may have been induced by the pretensions of Constantinople (see 381).
That the bishop of Rome enjoyed temporal power in this time is illustrated by the pagan official Praetextus’ words to Damasus: “Make me bishop of Rome and I will turn Christian.”
367 The council of Tyana accepted the restitution of the Semiarian bishops. (Was this an ecclesiastical validation of Julian’s edict of 362?)
367 In his annual “festal letter,” Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, listed the canon of scripture. His canon was very close to the modern Protestant Bible, listing the Wisdom of Solomon, the Wisdom of Sirach, Esther (!), Judith, and Tobit specifically as outside the canon. It is probable, however, that he meant to include the Greek additions to the Hebrew books in the canon. He does not mention the books of Maccabees. (Athanasius’ listing is identical to that of Laodicea, 363, except for his inclusion of the book of Revelation.) This was the first listing of the 27 books of the modern New Testament as being canonical, without also including certain books not considered canonical in our time.
367 Epiphanios (Epiphanius) became bishop of Salamis in Cyprus. Served through 403. Found a curtain in a church porch in Palestine decorated with a picture of Christ or some saint. He tore it down and lodged a vehement protest with the bishop of Jerusalem. [This may be an apocryphal account, invented by iconoclasts.]
Epiphanios stated that Mary, not Eve, is the mother of all living. He neither affirmed nor denied her death. Most Eastern theologians believed that Mary was sinful, in need of redemption.
367 Britain raided by a combined force of Irish, Scots and Saxons.
367 The West Roman emperor Valentinian I (364-75) gave the bishop of Rome the right to judge cases against other bishops.
367-9 Christians in Gaul persecuted during the Eastern emperor Valens’ Gothic war.
368 Probable year of John Chrysostom’s baptism. Meletius, bishop of Antioch, probably presided. John served as Meletius’s aide during the period 368-371.
370 The “Cappadocian Fathers” came to the forefront of the post-Nicene debate. Basil became metropolitan of Caesarea, the metropolis of Cappadocia. He replaced Eusebius and served through 379. Basil set about to build a solid Nicene party in Cappadocia by appointing orthodox candidates to vacant sees. Associated with Basil were his younger brother Gregory, who became bishop of Nyssa (372-75, 375-395), and his friend Gregory whose father [Gregory] (see year 381) was bishop of Nazianzus before him.
Gregory of Nazianzus is also known as Gregory the Theologian. Basil supported the cause of Meletius at Antioch - they agreed on the “three hypostases” formula. (His father had been persuaded to accept Christianity through the efforts of his wife (Gregory’s mother) Nonna, and soon afterwards became bishop of Nazianzus. Gregory was born after his father’s conversion and ordination.) In his writings, Gregory mentioned the story of a virgin who implored Mary to help her in her time of peril. He related it as if there is nothing strange about it, indicating this may have been a common practice by this time.<>St. Gregory of Nyssa wrote, concerning the state of the dead: “When he has quitted his body and the difference between virtue and vice is known he cannot approach God till the purging fire shall have cleansed the stains with which his soul was infested. That same fire in others will cancel the corruption of matter, and the propensity to evil.”
Basil supported the cause of Meletius at Antioch - they agreed on the “three hypostases” formula. He was instrumental in curbing the excesses of individualism among the ascetics. Basil stressed obedience, even over poverty and chastity, in the monasteries in his province.
Epiphanios, Basil implied that the view that Mary had children with Joseph
after Jesus was born is not unorthodox. Gregory of Nyssa (as
well as Athanasius) held that Mary was a virgin before, during, and after
Christ’s birth. Gregory also held that Mary and her virginity ended
the reign of death.
In a passage
that bears upon the Palamite controversy of the fourteenth century (see 1333),
Basil wrote, “The energies are various, and the essence simple. But
we say that we know our God from His energies, but do not undertake to approach
near His essence. His energies come down to us, but His essence remains
beyond our reach.” (Letter 234.1)
imperial decree, clerics were forbidden to visit the houses of rich widows
371 St. Martin became bishop of Tours. A child of pagan parents, Martin had become a Christian when he was 10 years old. He was forced into the Roman army, but petitioned the Emperor Julian the Apostate, and was eventually discharged. He then became an evangelist, working in Pannonia and Illyricum. In 360, he joined Hilary of Poitiers in that city, then founded the first monastery in Gaul, at Liguge (near Poitiers). As bishop, Martin continued to act as an evangelist, especially in Touraine and the countryside where the faith was little known.
371 When the emperor Valens set up headquarters in Antioch, Meletius was forced into exile. He returned to his home in the region of Armenia (perhaps near Sebastea, along the river Halys). Meletius remained in exile until Gratian’s edict of toleration, after the battle of Adrianople in 378.
372 The Eastern emperor Valens reduced Basil of Caesarea’s power by dividing Cappadocia in two. He directed that Tyana be considered the chief town in the new province. A canon of Nicaea had tied ecclesiastical provinces to civil provinces, so the division diminished Basil’s jurisdiction as metropolitan of Cappadocia.
372 Basil made Gregory Nazianzus bishop of the tiny village of Sasima. For Basil, this was a tactical move to assist him against the rival bishop of Tyana. Antithimus, bishop of Tyana, argued that he should have privileges equal to Basil’s.
373 Athanasius died. Apollinarius of Laodicea in Syria, his friend, asserted a Christology in which the Logos replaced the human mind of the Son. This implied that Christ was not fully human, which has unwanted implications for soteriology. Christologies of the “Word-Flesh” type (like that of Apollinarius) were common coming from Alexandria, while Antioch championed a “Word-Man” theology. The former type had the potential to do disservice to Christ’s humanity, while the latter had difficulty with the fusion of the two natures, human and divine, into one person.
373 (374?) Upon the death of Auxentius, an Arian, Ambrose became bishop of Milan. Served through 397. Ambrose believed in Mary’s perpetual virginity, though, at first, he was reluctant to do so. Ambrose wrote that St. Peter had “a primacy of confession, not of office; a primacy of faith, not of rank.” During Ambrose’s time, the capital in the West was at Milan, and Ambrose had considerable influence over the emperor. The bishop of Rome was forced to surrender control of the church in northern Italy to the bishop of Milan. (Milan had originally become the capital of the West in 286 when Diocletian divided the empire. But the imperial court had resided for some time at Trier before returning to Milan in 383.)
374 St. Epiphanios, bishop of Salamis in Cyprus, published his Ancoratus. It contained two creeds, the first of which is nearly identical to that of Constantinople (381). It included the phrase, “the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life, who proceeds from the Father, who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, who spake by the prophets.”
374 When Auxentius, the Arian bishop of Milan, died, Ambrose was elected bishop in his stead - though only a catechumen at the time. St. Ambrose sent a deputation to St. Basil to collect the body of St. Dionysius, the late Catholic bishop of Milan.
374 For his opposition to Arianism, St. Macarius (d. 390) the Egyptian was banished to an island in the Nile by bishop Lucius of Alexandria. Macarius had become a hermit in the desert of Scete in around 330, and lived there for much of the following 60 years. Macarius had gifts of healing and prophecy. He was the author of 50 Spiritual Homilies, which describes the ascent of the spirit, through work, discipline, and meditation, toward the vision of light.
375 Basil of Casarea published his On the Holy Spirit. His argument in favor of the Spirit’s divinity was based largely on tradition in baptism and doxology.
375 Epiphanios (see 335), bishop of Salamis in Cyprus (367-403), launched an attack on the orthodoxy of Origen. He wanted to bring Origen (or, rather, his corpse) to trial, and he was troubled by the influence of Origen’s writings on certain Egyptian monks, namely, Ammonius and three brothers, known collectively as the Tall Brothers. Evagrius moved to Egypt and put himself under Ammonius’ direction, where he became the Tall Brothers’ literary spokesman.
Epiphanios was a scholar. According to Jerome, he knew Greek, Hebrew, Syriac, Coptic, and some Latin. He was also an energetic defender of the Orthodox faith. His chief written works are the Panarion, written by about 377, which describes 80 heresies, and the Ancoratus, a compendium of church teachings dating to 374. In his works, Epiphanios denounced a sect called the Collyridians, which worshipped Mary. He also described a group of Quartodecimans in Asia Minor who taught that Jesus was crucified on March 25 and who celebrated Easter invariably on that date.
In the Panarion, also known as the Refutation of all the Heresies, Epiphanios wrote, “The Savior was born in the 42nd year of Augustus, emperor of the Romans ... on 8 before the Ides of January” (January 6). He asserted that the wedding in Cana occurred on the same date, but held that Christ’s baptism was on November 8. Palestine excepted (and Epiphanios was from there), the East held 6 January as the date of the Lord’s baptism also.
375 The western emperor Valentinian I (364-75) died of a stroke. His sixteen-year-old son Gratian, then at Trier, was proclaimed emperor. The legions on the Danube proclaimed Gratian’s four-year-old half-brother Valentinian II co-emperor.
376 Upon the death of the Arian bishop of Antioch, Euzozios, he was succeeded by Dorotheos, another Arian.
377 The Eastern emperor Valens allowed Visigoths to cross the Danube into the empire. As part of the deal worked out by Valens and the Gothic leader Fritigern (according to the historian Sozomen), Fritigern agreed to adopt the emperor’s Arian faith and to persuade his followers to do likewise. Other tribes - Burgundians, Ostrogoths, Sueves, and Vandals - also adopted Arianism after entering imperial territory. The Huns were a driving force behind the migration of the Ostrogoths, who pressured the Visigoths across the Danube.
377 Jerome visited Evagrius in Antioch. Evagrius won him over to the party of bishop Paulinus (who was opposed by the supporters of Meletius, including Basil of Caesarea) in the contention over the see of Antioch. The overwhelming majority of Christians in Antioch supported Meletius. (See 362).
377 Damasus realized the implications of Apollinarius’ Christology and held a council that condemned his teachings. Its sentence was confirmed by synods in Alexandria in 378 and Antioch in 379.
378 Paulinus ordained Jerome a priest in Antioch. Jerome became a disciple of Gregory of Nazianzus.
378 Gratian (375-83), emperor in the West, supported the bishop of Rome’s claim to authority over other bishops in the West. At Gratian’s request, Ambrose wrote the first two books of De Fide.
378 On 9 August, the Eastern emperor Valens died in the battle of Adrianople against Fritigern and his Goths. More than 2/3 of Valens’ army was slain. Valens’ nephew Gratian, a supporter of Nicaea, promptly published an edict recalling exiled bishops. Meletius of Antioch returned to his see after a seven-year exile (371-78).
As Valens left Constantinople to battle the Goths, he was confronted by Isaac, a monk from Syria, who prophesied that the emperor would not return unless he restored the churches to the Orthodox. (The majority in Constantinople were Arians at that time.) Isaac was jailed, but released by by the emperor Theodosius I (see 379). Isaac later became a bitter enemy of John Chrysostom (see 398), whose authority he rejected.
378 Diodore became bishop of Tarsus. Served through 390. Teacher of John Chrysostom. Diodore (from the Word-Man school) came into conflict with Apollinarius over the nature of Christ. Apollinarius suspected Diodore of believing that Jesus was simply a uniquely inspired man. Diodore refused to call Mary Theotokos unless it was balanced by saying Mary was the “mother of man” as well.
379 On January 1, St. Basil the Great died.
379 Theodosius (379-95) became Eastern Roman emperor. Ruled through 395. Christianity became an ingredient of good citizenship, and many pagan temples were closed. Pagans themselves were generally tolerated. Through Theodosius’s influence, an imperial edict (3 August 379) was issued which condemned heretics of all kinds.
Theodosius made it clear that he wanted conformity with the creed of Nicaea. Bishops not in communion with Pope Damasus and Athanasius’ successor at Alexandria, Peter, would not be recognized. He soon discovered, however, that Meletius of Antioch was capable of bringing the Greek world to unity. Paulinus refused to be co-bishop with Meletius, so he was abandoned. Meletius later presided at the council of Constantinople (381).
379 The small Orthodox community in Constantinople invited Gregory of Nazianzen (see 370) to lead the church until a bishop should be chosen. He converted a room in the house where he stayed there into the Anastasia (Resurrection) chapel, where he preached his Five Theological Orations. Jerome visited this chapel and heard Gregory preach. A certain Maximus the Cynic, supported by a group of Egyptian bishops, had himself consecrated bishop of Constantinople while Gregory was ill. When the congregation learned of this, they forced Maximus and his compatriots out of the city.
379 A shrine to St. Babylas was erected in Antioch. See 250.
380 In an edict promulgated on 28 February, Theodosius recognized the bishops of Rome (Damasus) and Alexandria (Peter) as the guardians of the true faith. He reserved the title “Catholic Christians” to those who espoused their doctrines (the Nicene theology). When Theodosius entered Constantinople in this year, the Arian bishop Demophilus was deposed, the Arians were refused use of the city’s churches, and Gregory of Nazianzen and his congregation moved to the Great Church (likely the former church on the site of Hagia Sophia).
380 The canons of the synod of Saragossa (Caesaraugusta), Spain, made the first mention of Advent as a season of preparation for Epiphany. The council also condemned the teachings of Priscillian, later bishop of Avila, Spain. From about 375 Priscillian taught that bodies were created by the Satan, that souls were imprisoned in bodies as punishment for sins, and that angels and human souls were emanations from the Godhead. Eleven sermons ascribed to Priscillian were published in 1889. They teach that the Son differs from the Father in name only.
380 About this year, Christmas was celebrated on December 25 for the first time in Antioch. (Some historians conclude Christmas was first observed there in 386.)
381 Second Ecumenical Council, held at Constantinople - practically, the end of the battle against Arianism. The emperor Theodosius made Meletius of Antioch president (note that Meletius was not in communion with the bishop of Rome, who had backed Paulinus for the contested episcopacy at Antioch). No representatives from Rome were present. The homoousios was reasserted. The council recognized the bishop of Constantinople as second in standing to Rome, because “Constantinople is the new Rome” (Canon 3).
The creed of the Council of Constantinople, popularly known as the Nicene creed, sometimes known as the Creed of the 150 Fathers, may not have been adopted at the council at all. That is, however, the tradition, and it was the understanding of the Council of Chalcedon. The creed:
“We believe in one God, the Father All Governing, creator of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible;
“And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten from the Father before all time, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten not created, of the same essence as the Father [homoousion to patri], through whom all things came into being. Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became man. He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered and was buried, and rose on the third day, according to the Scriptures, and ascended to heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father, and will come again with glory to judge the living and the dead. His kingdom shall have no end.
“And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and life-giver, Who proceeds from the Father, Who is worshipped and glorified together with the Father and Son, Who spoke through the prophets; and in one, holy, catholic and apostolic church. We confess one baptism for the remission of sins. We look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.”
The influence of Basil of Caesarea is seen in the phrase “Who is worshipped and glorified together with the Father and Son,” and in the fact that the Son is begotten, while the Spirit proceeds.
The addition “by the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary” was a bulwark against Apollinarius’ heresy (see 373). Apollinarius denied the human nature of Christ, believing his human soul to have been replaced by the Divine Logos and his flesh to have come, not from the Virgin, but directly from heaven.
In addition to his unorthodox Christology, Apollinarius wrote “about the resurrection from a mythical, or rather Jewish, point of view; urging that we shall return again to the worship of the Law, be circumcised, keep the Sabbath, abstain from meats, offer sacrifices to God, worship in the Temple at Jerusalem, and be altogether turned from Christians into Jews” (Basil, L263.4). Since Apollinarius’s heresies were condemned in Canon 1 of the Second Ecumenical Council, no Orthodox eschatology can contain any of these elements.
The first canon of the council: “The faith of the three hundred and eighteen fathers assembled at Nicaea in Bithynia shall not be set aside, but shall remain firm. And every heresy shall be anathematized, particularly that of the Eunomians or Eudoxians, and that of the semi-Arians or Pneumatomachi, and that of the Sabellians, and that of the Marcellians, and that of the Photinians, and that of the Apollinarians.”
381 In one of its first acts, the council installed Gregory of Nazianzus as bishop of Constantinople (in the face of an angry, Arian majority). After the death of Meletius, he presided over the council -- until he was deposed on a technicality, probably through the influence of Timothy, bishop of Alexandria. Nectarius, the city prefect, who was only a catechumen at the time, became bishop of Constantinople (381-97). Gregory returned to property his family owned in Arianzus (near Nazianzus) where he lived as an ascetic until 389). In his later life, he worked against the Apollinarian heresy.
Continuation of the Schism at Antioch. Gregory of Nazianzus had hoped that Paulinus would be appointed bishop of Antioch after Meletius’s death, and so end the schism at Antioch and mollify the west. Instead, the council appointed Flavian, whom Meletius had appointed to the priesthood. As an ascetic layman associated with Diodore (later bishop of Tarsus – see 378), Flavian had been a leader among the “three hypostases” party at Antioch. Socrates reports that “the bishops of Egypt, Arabia, and Cyprus combined against Flavian, and insisted on his expulsion from Antioch; but those of Palestine, Phoenicia, and Syria contended with equal zeal in his favor” (Book V, Chapter X). The bishop of Rome refused to recognize Flavian as bishop and excommunicated those involved in his ordination.
381 The emperor Theodosius I had the relics of Paul, former bishop of Constantinople, returned to the city from Cucusus. He placed them in a church which Paul’s Arian successor Macedonius had built.
381 A council, called by the western emperor Gratian, was held at Aquileia, which condemned the doctrines of Palladius and Secundianus. Ambrose of Milan was present. About this time, Ambrose completed his De Spiritu Sancto, in three books. The council also sent a letter to Theodosius in support of Damasus (against Ursinus -- see 366).
382 The emperor Theodosius settled the Tervingi, a Gothic tribe that had been allowed into the empire in 376 (377?), in Moesia. These Goths had defeated Valens at Adrianople in 378. The head of the embassy requesting this settlement was Ulfila, Arian bishop of the Goths.
382 Jerome (340-420) became an adviser to Damasus in Rome. Jerome initially rejected Mary’s virginity in childbirth, which he later came to accept, along with her perpetual virginity thereafter. Jerome was responsible for the theory that Jesus’ brothers were actually cousins, and that Joseph as well as Mary was a virgin. He attacked the view that virginity and marriage are to be valued equally.
Jerome wrote: “It is not the case that there is one church at Rome and another in all the world beside. Gaul and Britain, Africa and Persia, India and the East worship one Christ and observe one rule of truth. If you ask for authority, the world outweighs its capital. Wherever there is a bishop, whether it be at Rome or at Engubium, whether it be Constantinople or at Rhegium, whether it be at Alexandria or at Zoan, his dignity is one and his priesthood is one. Neither the command of wealth nor the lowliness of poverty makes him more a bishop or less a bishop. All alike are successors of the apostles.” (Letter CXLVI to Evangelus)
However, Jerome’s principle for solving ecclesiastical and theological problems was unity with the bishop of Rome. He is the earliest authority for the claim that Peter was bishop of Rome for 25 years.
Jerome believed that the Devil and those who have denied God will be tortured for eternity, but that reprobate Christians will eventually be saved.
Jerome created a new translation of the Bible into Latin (now known as the Vulgate). Unlike the Old Latin version, Jerome’s Vulgate relied on the Hebrew Old Testament rather than the Septuagint. His translation was declared authoritative at the council of Trent (Fourth Session, 1546). Jerome began work on this translation during a stay in Rome (382-85) when Damasus was bishop, working initially on the psalms and the New Testament. He completed his translation, the Vulgate, while living in Bethlehem, in 405.
Medieval artwork sometimes portrays Moses with horns. This depiction derives from Jerome’s mistranslation of verses in Exodus 34. Verse 29: “he knew not that his face was horned from the conversation of the Lord.” Verse 30: “And Aaron and the children of Israel seeing the face of Moses horned, were afraid to come near.” Verse 35: “And they saw that the face of Moses when he came our was horned.” Rather than being “horned” Moses face “shone,” as in the Old Latin and the Septuagint.
382 Gratian ordered the removal of the image of Victory from the forum in Rome.
382 A council meeting at Rome stated that Roman primacy is not founded on synodical decisions (referring to Constantinople, 381), but on the promise of Christ to Peter. It asserted a hierarchy: the prime see is at Rome, the second at Alexandria, and the third at Antioch. Rome did recognize Constantinople as second in rank in 869, at the synod held to condemn Photios (Photius).
382/3 In around this time, Isaac of Syria (see 378) and a certain Dalmatios began the first orthodox monastery in Constantinople.
383 In June, the emperor Theodosius I called a meeting of the various sects of Christianity to promote “universal agreement.” Arians, Eunomians, and Macedonians (Pneumatomachians) were represented. On the advice of the Novatians (the Novatian bishop Angelios, but principally his reader Sisinnios), Nectarios, bishop of Constantinople, confronted the sectaries with writings of the fathers, “who flourished before schism distracted the church,” Socrates (5.10) wrote that the emperor Theodosius perceived “by their confusion that their sole confidence was in subtle arguments, and that they feared to appeal to the expositions of the fathers” on the question of the Son’s deity. Theodosius approved only the homoousion view of the Trinity. The Novatians were rewarded, as the emperor gave them privileges equal to the Orthodox. [The Novatians had broken away from the church in 251 over the question of whether those whose lapsed under persecution could be restored to the faith. They answered in the negative. They agreed with the Orthodox in all other points, and plainly regarded the Arian view as a novelty.]
383 On August 25, the western emperor Gratian was murdered at Lyon (France).
384 Siricius (384-99) became bishop of Rome. He was the first Roman bishop to use the title “pope.” Siricius claimed for his rescripts and decretals the same binding force as synodal decrees, since “the care of all the churches” was “committed to him.” He threatened sanctions against those who disobeyed him.
384 A synod meeting in Bourdeaux (Burdigala, Aquitania), attended by Martin of Tours, condemned Priscillianism (see 380, Saragossa). Though Martin opposed the killing of heretics, the Emperor Magnus Maximus (383-88) had Priscillian executed.
385 After Damasus’ death, and under fire for his criticism of the Roman clergy, lax monks, and hypocritical virgins, and for his correction of the gospel texts, Jerome left Rome for the Holy Land, and settled in Bethlehem.
The Pilgrimage of Sylvia, written about this time, described
the journey to Palestine by a devout lady (Sylvia, or Etheria) from Gaul.
Silvia stated that on Ascension Day (40 days after Easter) there was a solemn
procession to the Mount of Olives. The procession ended at the church
of the Ascension built on the mount by the Empress Helena. The Pilgrimage also mentions the Feast
of Purification (or Hypapante, now celebrated on February 2) as being
then observed in Jerusalem on 14 February, forty days after Epiphany, the
date on which Christ’s birth was celebrated. Hypapante came to be called
Candlemas because of the words of Simeon (Luke 2.32).
Also this year, a new basilica was consecrated in Milan.
385-6 The bishop of Rome, Siricius (384-99), wrote a letter to Himerius of Tarragona (Tarraco, Spain) criticizing the practice of performing baptisms at times such as Christmas, Epiphany, and the festivals of saints and martyrs. By this time, in Rome, baptism was performed on Pascha and Pentecost only. In the letter, Siricius also commanded celibacy for priests. This was the first decree on the subject. In support of his position, Siricius quoted Romans 8.8: “those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” The letter to Himerius contains a reference to Matthew 16.18-19 as supporting papal rights. This is the earliest such interpretation of that passage extant.
385 St. Theophilus (385-412) became bishop of Alexandria. The Roman practice of Easter baptism was unknown in Alexandria at this time.
385 According to a letter written by St. Ambrose, the Metonic cycle (used in calculating the date of Easter, named after an Athenian astronomer named Meton who died circa 433) was in use at this time.
386? Flavian, bishop of Antioch, ordained John Chrysostom to the priesthood. At about this time, John gave a sermon in which he asserted that contact with (or even proximity to) saints’ shrines can result in miracles.
387 A riot broke out in Antioch over new taxes. Flavian, the bishop of Antioch, traveled to Constantinople and interceded with the emperor.
387 A certain John succeeded Cyril as bishop of Jerusalem.
St. Ambrose baptized St. Augustine in Milan.
bishop of Milan, rebuked the emperor Theodosius for punishing rioters who
had destroyed a Jewish synagogue.
388 Death of Paulinus of Antioch. On his deathbed, he ordained Evagrius as his successor. The schism in Antioch thus continued. (Evagrius was the same person who had associated with Jerome in 377.) As they had recognized Paulinus before him, Rome and Alexandria acknowledged Evagrius as bishop of Antioch, in spite of his irregular ordination.
389 St. Gregory of Nyssa composed his Commentary on the Canticle of Canticles. In this commentary, in his Life of Moses, and in other works, Gregory enunciated his mystical theology. Against the pagan notion that change is imperfection - which had led, in Origen, to the notion that men might fall into sin again, even in the future life - Gregory described the perfection of man as an eternal ascent into ever-increasing holiness. No changeless state is achievable, because God is wrapped in an impenetrable divine darkness - no created being can ever know him completely.
390 (391?) Theodosius had thousands of Thessalonicans massacred for killing a barbarian army commander. Ambrose, bishop of Milan, brought the emperor to public penance.
390 Symeon the Stylite born. Died 459. Lived on top of a column at the monastery in Telanissos in Syria. He became so prestigious that his assent was required to the verdicts of the councils of Ephesus in 431 and Chalcedon in 451. His imitator, Daniel (409-493), lived for 37 years atop a column near Constantinople.
390 Death of St. Gregory Nazianzus. Death of St. Ephraim the Syrian (303-390). Many of Ephraim’s theological works are in the form of hymns.
390 At the Synod of Side in Pamphylia, the Messalian heresy was condemned (they were then called Adelphians). The Messalians believed that Satan was Christ’s elder brother. On account of his pride, he had rebelled against the Father and created the material world, which they considered wicked. Each person’s soul was held to be inhabited by a demon, which the Messalians sought to eject in the form of mucous or saliva through prayer. The only prayer they said, however, was the Our Father. Those who succeeded in expelling the demon could be unified with the Holy Spirit and behold God. When they had reached this state, sin was impossible for them: Messalians had a reputation for licentious behavior. They refused to reverence the cross or the Virgin Mary, since the cross was the instrument of Jesus’s death, and Mary was simply the mother of a human, Jesus, whom the Holy Spirit later inhabited. Effectively, Jesus was reduced to a teacher or example. Epiphanios (Ephanius) reported that if a Messalian were asked, “Are you a Patriach? Prophet? Angel? Jesus Christ?” he would always respond with “Yes.” Messalians were also known as Euchetes (praying people) or Enthusiasts.
391 In two edicts issued this year and in 392,Theodosius made Christianity the official religion of the empire. Paganism was proscribed.
391 Theophilus, bishop of Alexandria, had the temple of Serapis (the Serapeum) dismantled. In doing so, he was enforcing recent imperial legislation suppressing pagan temples. The Serapeum was the world's largest temple to Serapis, a god of the sun, healing, and fertility. Gnostics sometimes identified Serapis with the godhead.
392 Theodore (392-429) became bishop of Mopsuestia in the Cilician plain. Served through 428. Theodore developed Diodore’s Christology. His concern was to protect Christ’s human nature, which he considered necessary to human redemption. He taught Christ as one person (prosopon) in two natures. Diodore and Theodore are representative of the “Word-Man” Christology.
Theodore became spiritual head of the exegetical school at Antioch. Instead of the allegorical interpretive method employed at Alexandria, Theodore stressed the literal sense. He argued that those who interpret Scripture allegorically “turn everything backwards, since they make no distinction in divine Scripture between what the text says and dreams....”
Though influenced by Origen, Theodore’s exegesis of Mt 16.17-18 did not identify the Rock with Christ, but with Peter’s confession of faith. According to Theodore, the church is built on Peter’s confession of faith (Rom 10.9). So also Chrysostom (see 398 below). Theodore and John Chrysostom had been fellow pupils in Libanios’s school of rhetoric in Antioch.
393 A council at Hippo set the canon along the lines approved by Augustine - including the Deuterocanonical books. Augustine’s Old Testament list: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, the four books of Kings (Samuel and Kings), the two books of Chronicles, Job, Tobias, Esther, Judith, two books of the Maccabees, two books of Esdras (Ezra and Nehemiah), Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, the twelve minor prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel and Ezekiel. Augustine’s New Testament agreed with the modern listing.
393 Jerome and Epiphanius of Salamis attacked John of Jerusalem for adhering to the views of Origen. Epiphanius incited the monks of Palestine to anti-Origenism. John refused to baptize their converts or bury their dead.
393 A council meeting in Caesarea (Palestine) supported Flavian’s claim to the see of Antioch. Siricius, bishop of Rome, had advised the council not to support Evagrius, due to his irregular consecration. But Siricius took no positive action to end the schism.
393/4 Death of Evagrius, head of the Eustathian party in Antioch. (See 362.) Evagrius had succeeded Paulinus in 388. According to Socrates, “No other was constituted in his [Evagrius’s] place, Flavian having brought this about.” However, the schism in Antioch was not healed, as those who disliked Flavian “held their assemblies apart.”
394 Siricius of Rome arbitrated a dispute within the Arabian church over the bishopric of Bosra (Bostra).
394 The emperor Theodosius defeated a usurper named Eugenius at the battle of the Frigidus River in northeastern Italy (near Aquileia). Also, it was probably in this year that Theodosius appointed Flavius Stilicho (whose father had been a Vandal) as regent for his younger son Honorius, Augustus in the West.
394 Olympic games abolished.
395 Death of the emperor Theodosius. Arcadius became emperor in the East (395-408), Honorius in the West, and Stilicho assumed the role of guardian for both.
395 Augustine bishop of Hippo (in North Africa). Died 430. Author of the Confessions, the City of God, etc. Apart from being the most influential Western theologian of the early church, Augustine was a strong exponent of Mary’s permanent virginity. He held that Mary was sinless, though not through her own will (as the Pelagians would have it) but by virtue of a special grace. Mary had, however, been born subject to original sin like all other humans. But she had been delivered from its effects by the grace of rebirth.
Augustine commented on Matthew 16.18: “All were asked, but Peter alone answers, Thou art the Christ; and it is said to him, I will give thee the keys; as if he alone had received the power of loosing and binding; whereas he both spoke for all, and received in common for all, being, as it were, the representation of unity.” This recalled Cyprian’s interpretation.
Augustine on infant baptism: “If anyone should ask for divine authority in this matter, though that which the whole church practices and which has not been instituted by the councils -- but was ever in use -- is very reasonably believed to be no other than a thing delivered by the authority of the apostles, yet we may besides take a true estimate, how much the sacrament of baptism does avail infants, by the circumcision which God’s former people received.”
On infant communion: “If then, as so many divine testimonies do agree, neither salvation nor eternal life is to be hoped for by any, without baptism and the body and blood of our Lord, it is in vain promised to infants without them.” “From all this it follows, that even for the life of infants was His flesh given, which He gave for the life of the world; and that even they will not have life if they eat not the flesh of the Son of man” [which eating Augustine identifies with “the sacrament of His own holy table]. (On Forgiveness of Sins, and Baptism, Chapters 33, 27 and 26.)
Augustine wrote On the Trinity, in which he argued that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. In Latin translations of the Creed of Constantinople (381), this “filioque” clause was inserted eventually. It was thought to be an indispensable anti-Arian proposition.
Augustine held that damnation for the lost is eternal, but that the torture of unbaptized children will be the most mild of all. Christians who have become entangled with earthly delights will have to undergo a purification by fire.
At some point in his career, Augustine attended a council at Milevita (see 419 below). The council excommunicated those who carry appeals beyond the seas. Representatives from Rome produced fraudulent copies of the declarations of Nicaea (325) which purported to give Rome the right to hear appeals from Africa. The African bishops sent to Constantinople for copies of the canons of Nicaea, and discovered the Roman deception.
395 The Huns crossed the Caucasus Mountains and raided Mesopotamia and Syria. Jerome wrote (Letter 60.16, written in 396), “For twenty years and more the blood of Romans has been shed daily between Constantinople and the Julian Alps … The Roman world is falling … In the year just gone by the wolves … were let loose upon us from the remotest fastnesses of Caucasus and in a short time overran these great provinces. What a number of monasteries they captured! What many rivers they caused to run with blood! They laid siege to Antioch and invested other cities on the Halys, the Cydnus, the Orontes, and the Euphrates. They carried off troops of captives. Arabia, Phoenicia, Palestine and Egypt, in their terror fancied themselves already enslaved.”
395 Disgruntled at not having been given a high military command after assisting Theodosius win the battle of the Frigidus (394), Alaric led the Visigoths on a raid into Macedonia and Thessaly. Stilicho, at the head of forces from both the western and eastern sections of the empire, moved into position to crush him in Thessaly. The eastern emperor Arcadius, however, suspected Stilicho intended to annex the Balkans to the western empire, ordered Stilicho to send his eastern forces on to Constantinople and return west with the remainder. Alaric was allowed to escape.
396 Jerome published a scathing attack on John of Jerusalem. The occasion was the visit of Epiphanius to Jerusalem. Epiphanius preached against Origenism, while John vocalized against Anthropomorphism - the opposite extreme. A breach resulted between the two, and Jerome took Epiphanius’ side. In the period from roughly 393-403, the condemnation of Origenism was widespread. The quarrel between Jerome and John was short-lived. [These events may have occurred in 393 - see note above.]
397 Ninian established a monastery on Whithorn Island in Scotland with a whitewashed stone church - the Candida Casa (White House) - said to be the only church in Britain built from stone. From that base, he labored for the conversion of the Picts and Celts. Ninian’s school on Whithorn was the only educational institution in the north of Britain. Born in Scotland in about 360, Ninian had traveled to Rome in around 380, where he eventually met bishop Siricius and Jerome. Siricius commissioned him to evangelize Scotland, and provided him priests as companions, along with vestments, relics, books and sacred vessels. Along the road back to Scotland, Ninian met Martin of Tours.
397 Jerome and John of Jerusalem were reconciled through the mediation of Theophilus, bishop of Alexandria. John became neutral on the Origen issue, while argument continued between Jerome and his former colleague, Tyrannius Rufinus. Theophilus himself now opposed Origenism.
397 By this time, Alaric and his Visigoths had taken Megara, Corinth, Argos, and Sparta in Greece. Stilicho crossed the Adriatic and confronted Alaric at Elis in northwestern Peloponnese. Alarac escaped into Epirus, and the eastern emperor Arcadius ordered Stilicho to return to the West.
398 Death of Didymus the Blind (~313-398). Blind from birth, Didymus was appointed by St. Athanasius to head the catechetical school in Alexandria. He was an opponent of Arianism, but certain of his teachings may have been condemned by the Fifth Ecumenical Council in its tenth anathema directed against Origen (see 553). The ancient epitome of the Quinisext council’s (see 691) first canon mentions Didymus together with Origen and Evagrios (see 399) as denying the resurrection of the flesh, teaching that hell will be temporary, “and other innumerable insane blasphemies.” Didymus may also have been the author of certain works formerly attributed to Basil the Great (pseudo-Basil).
398 On 26 February, John Chrysostom, a priest under bishop Flavian of Antioch, became bishop of Constantinople. He served through 404.
Although Siricuis of Rome had withdrawn support for Evagrius in 393, he and Theophilus of Alexandria had still not reconciled with Flavian of Antioch. Soon after his consecration as bishop of Constantinople, John sent a delegation to Rome to announce his ordination and to heal the breach with Antioch. It appears he did so with the cooperation of Theophilus. The delegation was successful, and the breach between Rome-Alexandria and Antioch was healed. (But see 412 and 414 below.)
John Chrysostom had been a student of Didore (see 347, 378), later bishop of Tarsus, as had his companion Theodore (later bishop of Mopsuestia). Like Diodore, Chrysostom tended to stress the literal sense of scripture.
He held that Mary was not without fault. In commenting on Matthew 12.46-49, for instance (Homily 44 on Matthew), Chrysostom wrote, “For in fact that which she had essayed to do was of superfluous vanity, in that she wanted to show the people that she has power and authority over her Son.” Then, later, “He both healed the [in the context, her] disease of vainglory, and rendered the due honor to His mother, even though her request was unreasonable.”
Chrysostom’s view of Peter’s place in the church was complex. Writing on the “Rock” passage, he said (Homily 54 on Matthew):
“What then saith Christ? ‘Thou art Simon, the son of Jonas; thou shalt be called Cephas.’ ‘Thus since thou hast proclaimed my Father, I too name him that begat thee;’ all but saying, "As thou art son of Jonas, even so am I of my Father." Else it were superfluous to say, “Thou art Son of Jonas;” but since he had said, “Son of God,” to point out that He is so Son of God, as the other son of Jonas, of the same substance with Him that begat Him, therefore He added this, ‘And I say unto thee, Thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build my Church’; that is, on the faith of his confession. Hereby He signifies that many were now on the point of believing, and raises his spirit, and makes him a shepherd.”
He was not at all concerned with the continuing primacy of the See of Peter. Instead, he defended the dignity and majesty of the Christ:
“Seest thou how He, His own self, leads Peter on to high thoughts of Him, and reveals Himself, and implies that He is Son of God by these two promises? For those things which are peculiar to God alone, (both to absolve sins, and to make the church incapable of overthrow in such assailing waves, and to exhibit a man that is a fisher more solid than any rock, while all the world is at war with him), these He promises Himself to give; as the Father, speaking to Jeremiah, said, He would make him as ‘a brazen pillar, and as a wall;’ but him to one nation only, this man in every part of the world.”
“I would fain inquire then of those who desire to lessen the dignity of the Son, which manner of gifts were greater, those which the Father gave to Peter, or those which the Son gave him? For the Father gave to Peter the revelation of the Son; but the Son gave him to sow that of the Father and that of Himself in every part of the world; and to a mortal man He entrusted the authority over all things in Heaven, giving him the keys; who extended the church to every part of the world, and declared it to be stronger than heaven. ‘For heaven and earth shall pass away, but my word shall not pass away.’ How then is He less, who hath given such gifts, hath effected such things?”
Although the Arians could no longer use churches inside the city (see 380), they processed through the city at dawn, chanting hymns that ridiculed Orthodox belief, then met outside the city walls. Chrysostom staged Orthodox processions that were even more spectacular, and the Arians soon ceased their efforts to win over the city this way. The Orthodox processions, however, continued until the 440s at least. John also worked to convert the Goths to Orthodoxy, providing them a church in the city and land for a monastery, and sending missionaries to the tribes in Moesia.
399 On 27 August a law was published in Constantinople that banned spectacles, horse racing, and threatrical shows on Sundays. The law may have been due to John Chrysostom’s recent criticism of spectacles competing with Sunday church attendance.
399 After initially supporting the Tall Brothers’ criticism of the Anthropomorphites, Theophilus of Alexandria expelled the Origenists. They moved to Constantinople and made their case to John Chrysostom. (Recall that Alexandria was jealous of Constantinople’s elevation by the council of Constantinople in 381.) In 400, a council convened at Theophilus’ behest condemned Origen.
399 Death of Evagrios of Pontus (known as “the Solitary”). Evagrios, born around 345, had been ordained reader by St. Basil the Great and deacon by St. Gregory of Nazianzen. After attending the council at Constantinople in 381, he went to Egypt in 383 to become a monk. Evagrios, like St. Gregory of Nyssa, believed in the eventual salvation of all - a position later condemned at the Fifth Ecumenical Council in 553. He also wrote on practical matters, such as the spiritual discipline of the Desert Fathers. John Cassian was a disciple of Evagrios’ - though Cassian rejected his universalist error.
399 When Yezdegerd I ascended the throne of Persia in this year, he halted the persecution of Christians in his realm. Yezdegerd was influenced to do so by Maruta, bishop of Martyropolis (Mayferqat) in Mesopotamia, whom the emperor Arcadius sent as an ambassador. Yezdegerd gave Maruta permission to build churches wherever he wished.
400 The first consolidated edition of canon law published about this time (in the East). Comprised the canons of many fourth century councils. (See 545 below.)
400 The Peshitta, a translation of the Bible into Aramaic, was completed around this time. (This statement is disputed by George Lamsa, who claims that it is far more ancient.) The Old Testament contains the so-called “Apocryphal” books. The New Testament lacks 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, Jude, and Revelation.
~400 Chrysostom referred to a feast of All Martyrs being
celebrated in Antioch on the Sunday after Pentecost.