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A critical account of the growth of Christianity in Antioch from the Apostolic Age to the reign of Julian.

Friday 8th October 2004

Peter Eyland


The sources for the growth of Christianity in Antioch are both illuminating in terms of the development of Christian ideas, and yet incomplete as regards the evolution of such a significant Christian institution as the monarchical bishop. This essay will look at the trends in Antioch from group ministries to monarchic unity, from public ceremony to private beliefs, from city bishop to metropolitan power, from fellowship dining to formula repetition, the catechetical school at Antioch and the effect of the Christianising of the Empire.


Outside the place where the bishops met at Nicaea (Taken on our trip to Turkey 2006)

Group ministries to Monarchic Bishop

According to Luke the persecution in Jerusalem following Stephen’s trial and execution resulted in an exodus of Jesus’ Jewish followers.  Some went to Antioch (Acts 11:19). The arrival of these refugees in the early or mid 30s CE[1], preaching a Jewish “Messiah” to Jews, may have caused the same internal problems within the local Jewish community that they did in Jerusalem.  Also a proclamation about a Jewish “king” may have created a external problem by inciting antagonism from the Hellenes.  The Hellene citizens of Antioch held Gaius and his father Germanicus in high honour (Barnett, 1999:265) so any declaration about a rival emperor might have been regarded as a threat.  Malalas (Jeffreys et al, 1986:130 §244-6) records fighting at Antioch between Jews and Hellenes in the third year of Gaius’ reign which seems to coincide with the crisis over his Jamnian and proposed Jerusalem temple statue. [2]

A second group of refugees seems to have been Hellenistic Jews originally from Cyprus and Cyrene (Acts 11:20). They proclaimed the “good news” about the Jewish “Christ” to non-Jewish Hellenes[3].  Nicolaus of Antioch, who was described as a proselyte and one of the “seven” mentioned by Luke in Acts 6:5, probably did not return with them because Antioch was not included in Acts 11:20, nor was he mentioned in Acts 13:1 as one of those prominent in Antioch[4].  It is unclear what was required of the non-Jewish Hellenic believers at this time, but the significant response affirmed by Luke (Acts 11:22) would tend to indicate that the unpopular distinctions of Judaism (e.g. circumcision, food laws and sabbath keeping) were not imposed on Hellenic believers.

These two disparate groupings suggest that there was no concept of an “orthodox” set of beliefs for Antiochene Christians in this period.  In Acts 15:30 they are simply called a πλῆθος when they gathered together.  Rowan Williams (Williams, 1989:13) is probably correct when he argues that the unity of the local ekklesia was a first century concern.  What probably unified the local groups was eating together as Christ’s followers. This is indicated by the practice of “breaking bread” together in Acts 2:42,46. It is reinforced by the “Apostolic council” at Jerusalem which was careful to insist on some food regulations (Acts 15:20,29) and Paul drew attention to its disruption as a major problem in Galatians (2:11-12).

Now the “followers” or “adherents” of Herod or Augustus ( Ῥῳδιανοί or Augustiani) were also identified by their social relationships (Barnett, 1999:28), so the label Χριστιανός , which was reportedly first given them in Antioch (Acts 11:26), might also have indicated something similar.  Malalas recorded that bishop “Euodios gave this name to them in his preaching; formerly Christians had been called Nazarenes and Galileans” (Jeffreys et al, 1986: 131, §246).  Despite this, it is more likely that the title was given by Jewish and Hellenic opponents and then adopted by the Roman authorities for administrative purposes (Downey, 1961:275).  The interest in Malalas’ comment is that it may contain the kernel of a tradition that previously gave the two groupings of believers separate names. The  destruction of Jerusalem probably did not result in more Jewish Christians migrating to Antioch (Downey, 1961:287).

Wallace-Hadrill (1982:14-15) in writing of the religious background of Antioch, mentioned the presence of Gnosticism, the Graeco-Roman pantheons and oriental deities such as Ba’al and Atargatis/Astarte/Asherah. In line with this, Downey (1961:278) suggested that a diversity of Christian groups may have arisen in Antioch, such as those who combined Jesus’ teachings with gnosticism and mystery cults.  Later, Ignatius mysticism was said to have been associated with the mystery cults (Downey, 1961:298).

Peter and Paul were both associated with Antioch, but apart from the confused traditions about Peter (Downey, 1961:583-6) there does not seem to have been any unifying “bishop” associated with Antioch in the 40s CE.  Downey wrote that there was no indication of formal government until Ignatius (Downey, 1961:276).

The Armenian version of Eusebius’ Chronicle has Evodius appointed bishop in 45/6 CE (Schoen ed. p.152)[5].  Jerome’s Chronicle has 44 CE which was also based on Eusebius (Downey 1961:285)[6].  Malalas has 41 CE (Jeffreys et al, 1986: 131, §246) but is well known for his confusions.[7]  Downey (1961:293) cites Jerome’s date of 116 CE for Ignatius’ death (De Viris Illustribus 16) as reasonably firm because of its relation to a known eathquake.  This gives 70 to 75 years for the combined length of Evodius’ and Ignatius’ office.  Given later typical times, it is unlikely that Evodius and Ignatius continued this long, and Downey’s conclusion that Malalas and Jerome constructed artificial chronologies is likely to be correct. [8]  The dates seem to have been calculations to ensure “Apostolic succession” in ordinations.  It is more likely that the successive lengths of time for Evodius and Ignatius went back to somewhere around Domitian’s death in 96 CE[9], or perhaps there was a long break between them.  In either case there does not seem to be a continuous line of bishops going back to Apostolic times.

Good sources are then not available to cover the seventy plus years from the early 40s until the last days of Ignatius, the alleged second bishop of Antioch (Eusebius, History of the Church, 3.36.2).  By this time, the unity that had been demonstrated by eating meals together, seems to be condensed into a liturgical event.  Ignatius (Magnesians, 4)[10] associated the name “Christian” with being a follower of the local bishop , who presided in the eucharistic assembly “after the likeness of God” (Magnesians, 6). The presbyters were made equivalent to Apostles, and the deacons presumably served to free the presbyters from mundane tasks.  Thus Ignatius in the preface of his letter to the Philadelphians, saluted those who were in “unity with the bishop, the presbyters, and the deacons”. 

During the silence, the group ministries of Apostles, Prophets and Teachers, which were endorsed by Paul (e.g. 1 Corinthians 12:28, Ephesians 2:20, 3:5, 4:1), were replaced by a monarchical bishop who was now the source of unity (Magnesians, 7).


Public celebration to private beliefs

Marcion and Tatian seem to have initiated a paradigm shift, from unity by public celebration with the bishop, to salvation by private beliefs derived from an authoritative set of writings.

Marcion took Paul’s opposition to the Law of Moses seriously and discarded the whole of the Jewish Bible because the history of the Jews had nothing to do with Christianity (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 1.27.2-3)[11].  He accepted ten suitably edited Pauline epistles as authoritative.  He also accepted an edited Luke’s Gospel, because Luke was seen as close to Paul.  Armed with this definitive body of literature, he taught that there was a previously unknown Good God who graciously sent a non-material Jesus to reveal that the Creator’s Laws were not the true way (Tertullian, Against Marcion, 1.19)[12].  Salvation was for individuals by personally hearing the Crucified One and loving one’s enemies.  It also involved behaviour modification because the body was “incapable of sharing in salvation” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 1.27.3)[13].

Tatian also augmented the trend to definitive scripture by producing a Gospel harmony which eliminated the irreducible uncertainty about the words and actions of Jesus found in four separate Gospels.  Tatian may also have opened a school in Antioch around 172 CE  when Theophilus was bishop of Antioch (Downey, 1961:302) thus setting up another precedent.  Tatian taught that the Λόγος came from the will of the Father and created man with free will to share God’s situation (Drijvers, 1984:8).  Mankind had two spirits:ψυχήand πνεῦμα (the seat of god’s image and likeness).  Men lost πνεῦμα through their individual missuse of freewill.  When God dwells individually in man there is συζυγία (union) again and this produced an emphasis on individual belief and behaviour.  Tatian wrote that the flesh contains the ψυχή as a ναόϛ or temple (Drijvers, 1984:8) so he was not docetic about the humanity of Jesus.

Theophilus of Antioch, who was a Syrian by birth (Wallace-Hadrill, 1982:43), probably took his cue from the new paradigm.  He put the established “writings of the Apostles” on the same footing as the Jewish Bible (Downey, 1961:302).  He then showed how Jewish exegetical methods could help the individual find the right beliefs and behaviour from the Bible.  This exegetical style was later to become a marker for the Antiochene catechetical school.

However, also typically of later Antiochene thinkers, his language on the nature of God and Christ, owed more to Greek philosophy than the Bible. He used the word “trias” in his apologetic Ad Autolycum, which was against Marcion and probably against Tatian (Wallace-Hadrill, 1982:67).  Commenting on the book of Genesis, Theophilus wrote that “the three days which were before [the creation of] the heavenly bodies are types of the trias of God his Word and his Wisdom” (Ad Autolycum 2.15).[14] 

Theophilus’ views revealed something of a Stoic bent, in that the internal Word was portrayed as an attribute, whereas the emitted Word was a rôle (Wallace-Hadrill, 1982:68, 103).  This means that for Theophilus, God was a unity with personified qualities (Wallace-Hadrill, 1982:69). 

By thinking and reasoning about God, using the Bible and philosophical language, Theophilus was an apologist using the new paradigm.  Christianity could still be seen in terms of group ceremonial, yet individual thinking guided by authoritative writings was approved.  His differences from other Christian writers (e.g. Tertullian’s “economic” trinity) show that exploring different beliefs about God was quite acceptible.


City Bishop to Metropolitan power

Serapion reveals a wider picture of Antiochene influence at the end of the second century CE.  In view of the fact that Antioch was the metropolitan city of Syria, the bishop of Antioch apparently claimed titular authority over Christians in other cities and towns of Syria.  This was ostensibly true since Ignatius’ time, according to Ignatius’ letter to the Romans 2.2, where he is styled the bishop of Syria.  However it would seem that it was not until Serapion extended his vision beyond Antioch, that any real influence was exerted. 

According to Eusebius (History of the Church, 6.12.2-6) Serapion, presumably for pastoral reasons, visited Rhossus, a town which was only 50 km from Antioch.  He then wrote to them about their use of the Gospel of Peter which they, in good faith, had accepted as authoritative.  Serapion described the Gospel as generally all right, but “docetic” in parts, i.e. Jesus was at places portrayed as only human in appearance [15].  This use of a “non-canonical” gospel so close to Antioch, indicates that there had been no effective or perhaps contemplated oversight from Antioch.  Eusebius also noted that Serapion forwarded material to others who would presumably have been authority figures of some kind (Caricus and Pontius are mentioned by name as recipients in History of the Church, 5.19).  Serapion, also as a significanty extension of his authority, sent Palût to Edessa to sort things out and later consecrated him as bishop there (Phillips, ed, The Doctrine of Addai the Apostle, p.50)[16].  By these actions he changed himself from a city bishop to a metropolitan bishop, probably by analogy with Roman administration.


The ruins of Nicaea (taken on our trip to Turkey 2006)


From fellowship to formula

The analogy of Roman administrative power became actual under Paul of Samosata and may have set a precedent for the future Christian Empire.  The defeat of Valerian and the capture of Antioch by the Persians saw many Antiochenes (along with their bishop Demetrianus), transported to Persia.  Paul was appointed both bishop and procurator ducenarius (Chief financial officer) when Palmyra (under Zenobia) gained political control of Antioch.  This was a significant change for Antioch, because Paul was from the Eastern frontier region where many regions had not been Hellenised (Downey, 1961:311).  It may have worked out well for Syria as a whole, but his particular attitudes and lifestyle proved offensive to many bishops. 

They eventually excommunicated him through a synod at Antioch and a letter to all the Roman provinces (Eusebius, History of the Church, 7.30).  Eusebius’ record of the letter is long on character denouncement and short on describing Paul’s “modernistic notions”.  The examining bishops (and Malchion) seem to have insisted that the eternal Word was an οὐσία in himself – meaning that he was real person and not just a verbal utterance (Kelly, 1958:118).  Paul apparently interpreted their word οὐσία as substance or being.  He then would have heard them insisting that the Father was a different οὐσία from the Word i.e. a different being and hence another God.  With this understanding he affirmed that the Father and Word were όμοούσιοϛ i.e. one God in essence, and in that sense exactly what Nicaea later affirmed[17].  Paul seems to have disagreed with the philosophical starting point of his examiners that there were three eternal, subsistent Persons (Kelly, 1958:118).  He seems to have started from scripture, with one God i.e. one οὐσία, not three, and Jesus as a real human begotten from the Holy Spirit through Mary (Lietzmann, 1963:3.101). 

Paul’s apparent refusal to allow the Word an independent personality branded him as espousing - in Prestige’s words,  “the principles of Adoptianism, or something very like them” (Prestige 1963:78).  Prestige’s revealing words show that modern commentators still do not have confidence that they know what his position was in philosophical terms[18].  In fact it may not have been clearly understood in those terms by Paul himself.  

However one important fact emerged, a council had applied a “word test” for unity.  Unity now meant accepting a form of words as true whether they were understood or not.  Later on, Eusebius of Caesarea wrote to his church about Nicaea, “we assented to the meanings … peace being the aim … and fear of deviating from the correct meaning” (Socrates, History of the Church, 1.8 and Theodoret, History of the Church, 1.12)[19].  Here Eusebius’ word “meaning” has probably replaced his previous word “formula”, intimating that Roman Empire Christianity had forsaken fellowship for formulae.

The Catechetical School at Antioch

Kelly (1958:230) has Lucian of Antioch as the “founder of the catechetical school” at Antioch[20].  In relation to that, Sozomen (History of the Church, 3.5) wrote that Lucian “was a man highly approved and exceedingly accurate in the sacred Scriptures”.  Lucian taught Jewish style “literal” exegesis.  Downey claims Lucian’s recension of the Bible was “the ancestor of the early modern printed versions” (1961:338) and Lucian’s recension was apparently used by Jerome (De Viris Illustribus 77)[21].

There is surprisingly little in the sources about Lucian of Antioch when he and his pupils  were so influential[22].  A letter of Arius to Eusebius of Nicomedia shows they were both pupils of Lucian (Theodoret, History of the Church, 1.5.4)[23], as were Maris of Chalcedon, Theognis of Nicaea, Asterius the Sophist, Athanasius of Anazarbus, Leontius of Antioch and Eudoxius of Antioch (Downey, 1961:340).  Lucian was associated with the second creed of Antioch in 341 CE (but Sozomen has his doubts about that[24]).  Later chief theologians at the school were Diodore of Tarsus c.330 – c.390, Theodore of Mopsuestia c.350 – 428 and Theodoret c.393 – c.460 (Kelly. 1958:75).

The catechetical school at Antioch set the stage for the Arian controversy, which according to Hanson was a “competition between rival Greek philosophical theories with little reference to the doctrines and assumptions” of the Biblical text (Hanson in Williams, 1989:147).  These philosophies were represented by the schools of Alexandria (Platonism and allegorical exegesis) and Antioch (Aristotelianism and historical exegesis).  In 318 CE there was no orthodox position on how divine Jesus was (Hanson in Williams 1989:143).  There were two views: the Alexandrine Origen (c.185 – 254) who advocated an eternal generation ἀναρχος γέννησις) of the Son (Origen, Homilies of Jeremiah, 9.4)[25], and the North African Tertullian (c.160 – post 220) who advocated an “economic” trinity (Tertullian, Apology, 21.10 – 14)[26].

The Emperor’s new clout

At this point the Christianising of the Emperor and its consequent effects on the Empire came into play. For example, a change in the character of the Olympic games was obligatory (except for Libanius at Antioch and other Hellenes).  It was no longer to be in honour of Zeus or to be part of the Emperor cult (Downey, 1939:434)[27]

The effect on Church leaders brought about a change in tactics.  Bishops could attempt to circumvent the process of discussion when it was seen more effective to seek the favour of the Emperor, and have him intervene on their behalf.  The “Donatist” dispute in North Africa was settled by Constantine (letter to Eumalius)[28] and the Council of Nicaea was a way to settle the Arian question.  Thus Richard Hanson was probably right when he argued that the Arian controversy was really a power struggle disguised as a theological debate (in Williams, 1989:147).

Arius was from the catechetical school at Antioch and was “a biblical expositor and a man of piety” according to Maurice Wiles (in Williams, 1989:160).  Everyone accepted that there was a Son who was “begotten”[29], the sticking point was when this occurred.  Arius’ position was that there was a time, however brief, when the pre-incarnated Son did not exist[30].  The word ὁμοούσιος was apparently used at the council to equate the essences, but Arians probably saw it as equating the persons. 

Constantine threatened everybody who refused to sign the proposed creed with exile, so 318 bishops signed (Athenasius, ad Afros, 2)[31].  Theonas of Marmarica in Libya and Secundus of Ptolemai apparently did not and so were banished, along with Arius, Eusebius of Nicomedia, and Theognis. The Emperor’s intervention made it clear that he was in charge of the church[32].  The inclination of the Emperor would now strongly influence the character of church appointments and its missionary endeavours.

nicea 3

Inside the ruins of Nicaea (taken on our trip to Turkey 2006)

The fortunes of the Nicaeans and Arians waxed and waned with the Emperor.  Constantine replaced Athanasius with an Arian Bishop.  Constantius, who had been Caesar at Antioch from 333 CE (Downey, 1961:354) and later took it as his capital, was Pro-Arian and built up Arian numbers in the church hierarchy.  Athenasius was variously replaced and restored again.  Arian or crypto-Arian bishops were appointed at Antioch (Downey, 1961:369-70).

Julian apparently thought that Antioch’s Hellenic past would make it an ideal place for his religious reforms (Downey, 1961:381) and was disappointed by the city’s indifference to the old paganism (Julian, Misopogon, 35).  He was also disappointed in the response to his satire, the Misopogon.  It may have been a contribution to the satirical Kalends festival, which involved ridicule of the chief magistrates (Gleason, 1986:108).  It may also have combined that with a kind of “edict of chastisement” (Gleason, 1986:116).  In particular, since Julian had been trained in Christianity (Julian, To the Athenians, Loeb:271 c d), he might have been subtly imitating the Apostle Paul.  Paul, after being embarrassed by some Corinthians, had parodied those who equated authority with power, and in doing so, confessed his own hardships, hunger and humiliation (2 Corinthians 6:4 – 13 and 11:16 – 33).  This may have been lost on Julian’s contemporary readers.

Julian would perhaps have been better off tactically to use his position of authority over the church, but he chose to stand outside it.


The movement from group ministries to monarchic unity, first seen at Antioch, is too poorly documented to form firm conclusions.  Suggestions that it was dependent on unique conditions at Antioch emphasise the accidental.  The importance of group ceremonial was retained throughout the period, yet individual thinking, guided by philosophy and circumscribed by authoritative writings, led to the validation of private beliefs about God.  The different focal points of catechetical schools at Antioch and Alexandria produced a succession of bishops with competing theologies. The analogy of Roman administrative power induced city bishops to exert metropolitan power in order to control those private beliefs by public decrees. The chance conditions that enabled variously minded Emperors to gain power, also affected church leadership and direction. Thus the growth of Christianity in Antioch seems to be more a stochastic process than steady progress towards some goal, and this has implications about whether the orthodox consensus of the fourth century was inevitable or accidental.



Primary Sources

Dodgeon, M.H., and Lieu, S.N.C., 2002, The Roman Eastern Frontier and the Persian Wars AD 226 – 363, Routledge, Burgess Hill
Eusebius, trans. Williamson, G.A., 1965, The History of the Church from Christ to Constantine, Penguin, Bungay
Eusebius, trans. Winkelmann, F., 1975, Life of Constantine, in Dodgeon and Lieu
Jerome, 1973, trans. Sherwin, W.K. Jr., De viris illustribus urbis Romae, University of Oklahoma Press
Julian, trans Vince. S., The Misopogon, in AHPG830 Study Guide, Macquarie University
Julian, trans Wright, W.C., 1913-1962, Orations and essays, 3 vols, Loeb, Harvard, Cambridge
Malalas, trans. Jeffreys, E., Jeffreys, M. and Scott, R., 1986, The Chronicle of John Malalas, Melbourne
Sozomen, Trans. Hartranft, C.D., History of the Church, Hartford
Stevenson, 1963, A New Eusebius, SPCK, London


Secondary sources

Ball, W., 2000, Rome in the East, Routledge, London.
Barnett, P., 1999, Jesus & the Rise of Early Christianity, IVF, Downers Grove
Bruce, F.F., 1958, The Spreading Flame, London
Bruce, F.F., 1962, The Book of Acts, London
Downey, G., (1945), “The Pagan Virtue of Megalopsychia in Byzantine Syria”, Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association, 76, 279-286
Downey, G., 1961, A History of Antioch in Syria From Seleucus to the Arab Conquest, Princeton
Drijvers, H.J.W., 1984, East of Antioch, Studies in Early Syriac Christianity, Variorium Reprints, London
Gleason, M.W., (1986), “Festival Satire: Julian’s Misopogon and the New Year at Antioch”, The Journal of Roman Studies, 76.106-119
Gwatkin, H.M., 1914, Early Church History to AD 313, Macmillan, London,
Kelly, J.N.D., 1958, Early Christian Doctrines, London
Lietzman, H., 1961, A History of the Early Church, 4 vols., London
Millar, F., 2001, The Roman Near East 31 BC – AD 337, Harvard Cambridge
Prestige, G.L., 1963, Fathers and Heretics, SPCK, London
Wallace-Hadrill, D.S., 1982, Christian Antioch A Study of Early Christian Thought in the East, Cambridge
Williams, R., ed., 1989, The making of Orthodoxy - Essays in honour of Henry Chadwick, Cambridge


Appendix : The Bishops of Antioch


Dates (CE)





45/6 - ?

44 - ?

Eusebius, History of the Church, 3.22
Malalas, Chronicle
Eusebius, Chronicle Armenian translation
Jerome, Chronicle

Fall of Jerusalem  in 70.


? - 20/12/116

Eusebius, History of the Church, 3.36
Downey, 1961:293

First monarchical bishop.
Parthian war 114 -6



Eusebius, History of the Church, 3.36
Downey, 1961:300

Marcion, Basilides, Valentine



Jerome, Chronicle
Downey, 1961:300




Jerome, Chronicle
Downey, 1961:300




169 - <188

Downey, 1961:300-2

Ad Autolycum. First apologist to use “trinity”. Apostles’ writings are equal to OT in authority


c.188/9 - 198

Downey, 1961:303

Took part in Paschal controversy


198/9 – 211/2

Downey, 1961:303-4


Lietzmann, 1963:2.13

Letters to Eusebius on Montanism and Doceticism (against Gospel of Peter). Sent Palût to Edessa c.200. 
Origen in Alexandria (202 – 230)


211/2 – 217/8

Downey, 1961:305



217/8 – 230/1?

Downey, 1961:305




Downey, 1961:305
Lietzmann, 1963:2.13

Only his name is known.
Origen in Caesarea (230 – 253)


? – 249/51

Downey, 1961:306

Time of the Gordians (238 – 244). Alleged encounter with Philip the Arab. Died in Decius’ persecution.



Downey, 1961:308

Novatian schism



Downey, 1961:30

Taken to Persia in 256.
Chronicle of Se’ert.

Paul of Samosata

260/1 - 272

Downey, 1961:310-315


Lietzmann, 1963:2.14

Palmyra in control.
Paul was chief fiscal officer (procurator ducenarius).
Edict of toleration 261.  Mani.



Downey, 1961:315

Son of Demetrianus


272? – 279/80?

Downey, 1961:316

Time of Lucian of Antioch


279/80 - 303

Downey, 1961:327-9

Time of Dorotheus and Lucian. Arrested 303 and sent to marble quarries. He died in 306


303/4 - ?

Downey, 1961:329



314 - ?

Downey, 1961:336

Began construction of “Old Church”


319 - 20/12/324

Downey, 1961:336

Completed “Old Church”


325 - 326

Downey, 1961:351
Hanson in :155

Kelly, 1958:283

Condemned Arianism
God has “3 aspects or phases of self-revelation”.
The Word did not die on the cross

Paulinus of Tyre


Downey, 1961:352

Died within 6 months of election



Downey, 1961:352



c.327/8 - ?

Downey, 1961:352

Severe famine 333.
Office of Comes Orientis.



Downey, 1961:360

Put a prostitute into a bishop’s room



Downey, 1961:369



? - 360

Downey, 1961:370


Kelly, 1958:282

Translated to Constantinople in 360. Arian: Anomoean i.e. three beings of unlike essence.
“We believe  … in one Lord … who was made flesh but not man … God in place of a soul in flesh”.

Meletius of Beroea


Downey, 1961:370

Banished for orthodox sentiments


361 - 378

Downey, 1961:370

Issued an Arian creed


362 -

Downey, 1961:396

Nicean (Eustathian)




Nicean (Meletian)



[1] Downey (1961:275) gives the death of Stephen “about A.D. 34 or possibly 36”.

[2] The accession of Gaius was in March 37 CE (Millar, 1993:56) and he died January 24, 41 CE (Millar, 1993:59).

[3] Reading ἐλληνας (Hellenes) rather than ἐλληνιστάϛ (Hellenistic Jews) in Acts 11:20. Though if ἐλληνιστάϛ was accepted it would be in the sense of “Greek-speakers” (Bruce, 1962:237 and Downey, 1961:273, n.6).

[4] The Nicolaitan heresy was probably incorrectly attributed to him (Downey, 1962:273)

[5] Cited Downey 1961:285

[6] Downey generally considered Jerome’s dates to be unreliable (Downey, 1961:286)

[7] Malalas transferred the persecution under Decius to the time of Vespasian (Jeffreys et al, 1986:137, §260) and despite characterising Vespasian as a persecutor, Malalas surprisingly acclaimed him as  Ὁ θειόστατος ( most sacred). He also wrongly attributed building done by Caracalla to Antoninius Pius and is according to Downey only “on occasion a source of great value” (Downey, 1958:153).

[8] Syncellus recorded that Eusebius’ Chronicle had Evodius as bishop for 29 years and Ignatius for 30 years (cited by Downey, 1961:285) but this is still too short

[9] Domitian persecuted Christians, but there is nothing specific known about Antioch (Downey, 1961:210)

[10] “It is therefore meet that we not only be called Christians, but also be such … apart from [the bishop] … men … do not assemble … lawfully.”

[11] Cited by Stevenson, (1963:97)

[12] Cited by Stevenson, (1963:99)

[13] Cited by Stevenson, (1963:102)

[14] Cited by Wallace-Hadrill, (1982:67)

[15] Gospel of Peter c.4 “And they brought two malefactors, and they crucified the Lord between them; but he was silent, since he had no pain”. Cited from Stevenson, (1963:152)

[16] Cited by Stevenson, 1963:152

[17] Contrary to Bruce, (1958:255) who says that it was used in a different sense, i.e. of an emanation coming from God (1964:306)

[18] Lietzmann, (1963:101) “it has been regarded as justifiable to treat him with disdain. Nevertheless it is not easy to describe his teaching precisely … earliest sources give the impression … that his opponents … put theological formulas into his mouth.”

[19] Cited by Stevenson, (1963:366)

[20] Not to be confused with the Lucian of Samosata (a second century Greek satirist) who wrote “How History should be Written” (Millar, 1993:112) and “On the Syrian Goddess” (Millar, 1993:245)

[21] De Viris Illustribus 77: “Lucianus, a man of great talent, presbyter of the church at Antioch, was so diligent in the study of the Scriptures, that even now certain copies of the Scriptures bear the name of Lucian. Works of his, On faith, and short Epistles to various people are extant.”

[22] Some of his pupils were Arian or Arian sympathisers so that may be the reason.

[23] Cited by Stevenson (1963:345)

[24] Sozomen, History of the Church, 3.5: “I know not whether this statement was really true, or whether they merely advanced it in order to give weight to their own document, by connecting with it the dignity of a martyr.”

[25] Cited by Stevenson, (1961:218) “The Father … is ever begetting  him” (Origen, De Principiis, 1.3.5), i.e. as the light from the Sun is always radiating from it by continual generation.  This makes the Son eternally dependent hence subordinate. Tertullian also used this example (Apology, 21.10-14)

[26] Cited by Stevenson, (1961:171) God has a unity of “nature” in three “ousiai” where the Father is the "originator", from whom the Son is “begotten”, and the Spirit “proceeds”. There is a household i.e. economic, subordination.

[27] For official purposes Constantine had to continue to be regarded as “a divine being … in order to hold together the body of law and custom which constituted the very basis of the Empire’s existence” (Downey, 1945:280).  The dilemma was that he was the head of an institution whose religious and philosophical basis was in opposition to those laws and customs.  Downey has argued that the pagan “opposition” supplied a resolution in terms of the Emperor’s megalopsychia, which in Christian terms became a synthesis of the highest virtues (Downey, 1945:286).

[28] Cited by Stevenson, (1961:327)

[29] The tradition from Hesiod’s, Theogony, was that a begotten son was derivative and inferior to the Father.  Jesus’ questioning of the Messiah as David’s son (as reported in Luke 20:41) reflects the same viewpoint.

[30] Eusebius has mistaken Nicaea’s canon, in his letter to his church (Socrates, History of the Church, 1.8 and Theodoret, History of the Church, 1.12, cited by Stevenson, 1961:367), where he wrote that “the Son of God was before his generation according to the flesh”.

[31] Cited by Stevenson, (1961:372, n.21) also in Hilary, Contra Constantium, 27.  However the number may be symbolic of the 318 servants of Abram in Genesis 14:14

[32] Constantine claimed he was “bishop” of those outside the church (Eusebius, Vita Constantini, 4.24) and even claimed some kind of pastoral care over Christians in Persia (Eusebius, Vita Constantini, 4.11-13)



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