Vol. 4, Chapter XIV. Biographical Sketches of Ecclesiastical Writers

[This chapter, with the exception of the last four sections, has been prepared under my direction by the Rev. Samuel M. Jackson, M. A., from the original sources, with the use of the best modern authorities, and has been revised, completed and adapted to the plan of the work. — P. S.


142. Chronological List of the Principal Ecclesiastical Writers from the Sixth to the Twelfth Century


I. Greek Authors




St. Maximus Confessor c. 580-662   

St. John of Damascus c. 676-754   

Photius c. 805-891   

Simeon Metaphrastes 10th century.   

Oecumenius 10th century.   

Theophylact 11th century.   

Michael Psellus c. 1020-c. 1106   

Euthymius Zigabenus 12th century.   

Eustathius of Thessalonica 12th century   

Nicetas Acominatos d. c. 1126  



II. Latin Authors




Cassiodorus c. 477-c. 580   

St. Gregory of Tours 538-594   

St. Gregory the Great c. 540-604   

St. Isidore of Seville c. 560-636   

The Venerable Bede (Baeda) 674-735   

Paulus Diaconus (Paul Warnefrid) c. 725-800   

St. Paulinus of Aquileia c. 726-804   

Alcuin 735-804   

Liudger c. 744-809   

Theodulph of Orleans -821   

Eigil -822   

Amalarius -837   

Claudius of Turin -839   

Agobard of Lyons 779-840   

Einhard (Eginhard) c. 770-840   

Smaragdus -c. 840   

Jonas of Orleans -844   

Rabanus Maurus c. 776-856   

Haymo c. 778-853   

Walafrid Strabo c. 809-849   

Florus of Lyons -c. 860   

Servatus Lupus 805-862   

Druthmar c. 860   

St. Paschasius Radbertus c. 790-865   

Ratramnus -c. 868   

Hincmar of Rheims c. 806-882   

Johannes Scotus Erigena c. 815-877   

Anastasius -886   

Ratherius of Verona c. 890-974   

Pope Sylvester II. (Gerbert) -1003   

Fulbert of Chartres c. 950-1029   

Peter Damiani 1007-1072   

Berengar c. 1000-1088   

Lanfranc 1005-1089  



I. Greek Authors


143. St. Maximus Confessor

I. Maximus Confessor: Opera in Migne, Patrol. Gr. Tom. XC., XCI., reprint of ed. of Fr. Combefis, Paris, 1673 (only the first two volumes ever appeared), with a few additional treatises from other sources. There is need of a complete critical edition.

II. For his life and writings see his Acta in Migne, XC. col. 109-205; Vita Maximi (unknown authorship) col. 67-110; Acta Sanctorum, under Aug. 13; Du Pin (Eng. transl., Lond. 1693 sqq.), VI. 24-58; Ceillier (second ed., Paris, 1857 sqq.), XI. 760-772.

III. For his relation to the Monotheletic controversy see C. W. Franz Walch: Historie der Kezerien, etc., IX. 60-499, sqq.; Neander: III. 171 sqq.; this History, IV. 409, 496-498. On other aspects see J. N. Huber: Die Philosophie der Kirchenvaeter. München, 1859. Josef Bach: Die Dogmengeschichte des Mittelalters. Wien, 1873-75, 2 parts, I. l5-49. Cf. Weser: Maximi Confesoris de incarnatione et deificatione doctrina. Berlin, 1869.

As a sketch of St. Maximus Confessor (c. 580-Aug. 13, 662) has been elsewhere given, it is only necessary in this place to pass in review his literary activity, and state briefly his theological position.

Notwithstanding his frequent changes of residence, Maximus is one of the most prolific writers of the Greek Church, and by reason of his ability, stands in the front rank. Forty-eight of his treatises have been printed, others exist in MS., and some are lost. By reason of his pregnant and spiritual thoughts he has always been popular with his readers, notwithstanding his prolixity and frequent obscurity of which even Photius and Scotus Erigena complain.

His Works may be divided into five classes.

I. Exegetical. A follower of the Alexandrian school, he does not so much analyze and expound as allegorize, and make the text a starting point for theological digressions. He wrote (1) Questions [and Answers] upon difficult Scripture passages, sixty-five in number addressed to Thalassius, a friend who had originally asked him the questions. The answers are sometimes very short, sometimes rich speculative essays. Thus he begins with a disquisition upon evil. Unless one is expert in allegorical and mystical writings, the answers of Maximus will be hard reading. He seems to have felt this himself, for he added explanatory notes in different places. (2) Questions, seventy-five in number, similar to the preceding, but briefer and less obscure. (3) Exposition of Psalm LIX. (4) The Lord’s Prayer. Both are very mystical.

II. Scholia upon Dionysius Areopagita and Gregory Nazianzen, which were translated by Scotus Erigena (864).

III. Dogmatical and polemical. (1) Treatises. The first twenty-five are in defense of the Orthodox dyotheletic doctrine (i.e. that there are in Christ two perfect natures, two wills and two operations) against the Severians. One treatise is on the Holy Trinity; another is on the procession of the Holy Spirit; the rest are upon cognate topics. (2) Debate with Pyrrhus (held July, 645) upon the Person of Christ, in favor of two wills. It resulted in Pyrrhus’ retraction of his Monotheletic error. This work is easier to read than most of the others. (3) Five Dialogues on the Trinity. (4) On the Soul.

IV. Ethical and ascetic. (1) On asceticism a dialogue between an abbot and a young monk, upon the duties of the monastic life. A famous treatise, very simple, clear and edifying for all Christians. It insists upon love to God, our neighbors and our enemies, and the renunciation of the world. (2) Chapters upon Charity, four in number, of one hundred aphorisms, each, ascetic, dogmatic and mystical, added to the preceding, but not all are upon charity. There are Greek scholia upon this book. (3) Two Chapters, theological and economical, each of one hundred aphorisms, upon the principles of theology. (4) Catena, five chapters of one hundred aphorisms each, upon theology.

V. Miscellaneous. (1) Initiation into the mysteries, an allegorical exposition of the Church and her worship. Incidentally it proves that the Greek liturgy has not changed since the seventh century. (2) Commonplaces, seventy-one sections, containing texts of Scripture and quotations from the Fathers, arranged under heads. (3) Letters forty-five in number, on theological and moral matters; several are on the Severian heresy, others supply biographical details. Many of his letters exist in MS. only. (4) Hymns, three in number.

Maximus was the pupil of Dionysius Areopagita, and the teacher of John of Damascus and John Scotus Erigena, in the sense that he elucidated and developed the ideas of Dionysius, and in turn was an inspiration and guide to the latter. John of Damascus has perpetuated his influence in the Greek Church to the present day. Scotus Erigena introduced some of his works to Western Europe. The prominent points of the theology of Maximus are these: Sin is not a positive quality, but an inborn defect in the creature. In Christ this defect is supplied, new life is imparted, and the power to obey the will of God is given. The Incarnation is thus the Divine remedy for sin’s awful consequences: the loss of free inclination to good, and the loss of immortality. Grace comes to man in consequence of Christ’s work. It is not the divine nature in itself but in union with the human nature which is the principle of atoning and saving grace. God is the fountain of all being and life, the alpha and omega of creation. By means of the Incarnation he is the Head of the kingdom of grace. Christ is fully Man, and not only fully God. This is the mystery of the Incarnation. Opposed to the Monophysites and Monothelites, Maximus exerts all his ingenuity to prove that the difference of natures in Christ requires two wills, a human and a divine will, not separated or mixed, but in harmony. Christ was born from eternity from the Father, and in time from the Virgin, who was the veritable Mother of God. Christ’s will was a natural, human will, one of the energies of his human nature. The parallel to this union of the divine and human in Christ is the human soul wrought upon by the Holy Spirit. The divine life begins in faith, rules in love, and comes to its highest development in the contemplative life. The Christian fulfils the command to pray without ceasing, by constantly directing his mind to God in true piety and sincere aspiration. All rational essences shall ultimately be re-united with God, and the final glorification of God will be by the complete destruction of all evil.

An interesting point of a humane interest is his declaration that slavery is a dissolution, introduced by sin, of the original unity of human nature, and a denial of the original dignity of man, created after the image of God.


144. John of Damascus

Cf. §§ 89 and 103.

I. Joannes Damascenus: Opera omnia in Migne, Patrol. Gr. Tom. XCIV.-XCVI. (reprint, with additions, of Lequien’s ed. Paris, 1712. 2 vols. fol. 2d ed. Venice, 1748).

II. John of Jerusalem: Vita Damasceni (Migne, XCIV. col. 429-489); the Prolegomena of Leo Allatius (l.c. 118-192). Perrier: Jean Damascène, sa vie et ses écrits. Paris, 1862. F. H. J. Grundlehner: Johannes Damascenus. Utrecht, 1876 (in Dutch). Joseph Langen (Old-Catholic professor at Bonn): Johannes von Damaskus. Gotha, 1879. J. H. Lupton: St. John of Damascus. London, 1882. Cf. Du Pin, V. 103-106; Ceillier, XII., 67-99; Schroeckh, XX., 222-230; Neander, iii. passim; Felix Nève: Jean de D. et son influence en Orient sous les premiers khalifs, in “Revue Belge et etrangère,” July and August, 1861.

I. Life. John of Damascus, Saint and Doctor of the Eastern Church, last of the Greek Fathers, was born in the city of Damascus in the fourth quarter of the seventh century. His common epithet of Chrysorrhoas (streaming with gold) was given to him because of his eloquence, but also probably in allusion to the river of that name, the Abana of Scripture, the Barada of the present day, which flows through his native city, and makes it a blooming garden in the desert. Our knowledge of his life is mainly derived from the semi-legendary account of John of Jerusalem, who used an earlier Arabic biography of unknown authorship and date.

The facts seem to be these. He sprang from a distinguished Christian family with the Arabic name of Mansur (ransomed). His father, Sergius, was treasurer to the Saracenic caliph, Abdulmeled (685-705), an office frequently held by Christians under the caliphs. His education was derived from Cosmas, a learned Italian monk, whom Sergius had ransomed from slavery. He made rapid progress, and early gave promise of his brilliant career. On the death of his father he was taken by the caliph into his service and given an even higher office than his father had held. When the emperor Leo the Isaurian issued his first edict against images (726), he prepared a circular letter upon the subject which showed great controversial ability and at once raised him to the position of leader of the image worshippers. This letter and the two which followed made a profound impression. They are classical, and no one has put the case better. John was perfectly safe from the emperor’s rage, and could tranquilly learn that the letters everywhere stirred up the monks and the clergy to fanatical opposition to Leo’s decrees. Yet he may well have found his position at court uncomfortable, owing to the emperor’s feelings towards him and his attempts at punishment. However this may be, shortly after 730 John is found as a monk in the Convent of St. Sabas, near the shore of the Dead Sea, ten miles southeast from Jerusalem. A few years later he was ordained priest. His last days were spent in study and literary labor. In the closing decade of his life he is said to have made a journey through Palestine, Syria, and even as far as Constantinople, for the purpose of exciting opposition to the iconoclastic efforts of the Emperor Copronymus. He died at St. Sabas; the exact date is not known, probably 754. The Greek Church commemorates him upon Dec. 4th (or Nov. 29 in some Menologies); the Latin upon May 6.

Many legends are told of him. The most famous is that Leo the Isaurian, enraged at his opposition to the iconoclastic edicts, sent to the caliph a letter addressed to himself which purported to have come from John, and was written in imitation of his hand and style, in which the latter proposed to the emperor to capture Damascus — a feat easily accomplished., the writer said, because of the insufficient guard of the city. Moreover, in the business he could count upon his support. The letter was of course a forgery, but so clever that when the caliph showed John the letter he acknowledged the similarity of the writing, while he denied the authorship. But the caliph in punishment of his (supposed) treachery had his right hand cut off, and, as was the custom, hung up in a public place. In answer to John’s request it was, however, given to him in the evening, ostensibly for burial. He then put the hand to the stump of his arm, prostrated himself before an image of the Virgin Mary in his private chapel, and prayed the Virgin to cause the parts to adhere. He fell asleep: in a vision the Virgin told him that his prayer had been granted, and he awoke to find it true. Only a scar remained to tell the story of his mutilation. The miracle of course convinced the caliph of the innocence of his servant, and he would fain have retained him in office, but John requested his absolute dismission. This story was manifestly invented to make out that the great defender of image-worship deserved a martyr’s crown.

Other legends which have more of a basis of fact relate to his residence in the convent of St. Sabas. Here, it is said., he was enthusiastically received, but no one would at first undertake the instruction of so famous a scholar. At length an old monk undertook it, and subjected him to the most humiliating tests and vexatious restrictions, which he bore in a very saintly way. Thus he sent him once to Damascus to sell a load of convent-made baskets at double their real value, in order that his pride might be broken by the jeers and the violence of the rabble. He was at first insulted; but at last a man who had been formerly his servant, bought out of compassion the baskets at the exorbitant price, and the saint returned victorious over vanity and pride. He was also put to the most menial services. And, what must have been equally trying, he was forbidden to write prose or poetry. But these trials ended on a hint from the Virgin Mary who appeared one night to the old monk and told him that John was destined to play a great part in the church. He was accordingly allowed to follow the bent of his genius and put his immense learning at the service of religion.

II. Writings. The order of his numerous writings is a mere matter of conjecture. It seems natural to begin with those which first brought their author into notice, and upon which his fame popularly rests. These were his three Orations, properly circular letters, upon image worship, universally considered as the ablest presentation of the subject from the side of the image-worshippers. The first appeared probably in 727, shortly after the Emperor Leo the Isaurian had issued his edict forbidding the worship of “images,” by which term was meant not sculptures, but in the Greek Church pictures exclusively; the second after Leo’s edict of 730 ordering the destruction of the images; and the third at some later time.

In the first of these three letters John advanced these arguments: the Mosaic prohibitions of idolatry were directed against representations of God, not of men, and against the service of images, not their honor. Cherubim made by human hands were above the mercy-seat. Since the Incarnation it is allowable to represent God himself. The picture is to the ignorant what the book is to the learned. In the Old Testament there are signs to quicken the memory and promote devotion (the ark, the rod of Aaron, the brazen serpent). Why should the sufferings and miracles of Christ not be portrayed for the same purposes? And if Christ and the Virgin have their images, why should not the saints have theirs? Since the Old Testament Temple contained cherubim and other images, churches may be adorned with images of the saints. If one must not worship an image, then one must not worship Christ, for he is the image of the Father. If the shadows and handkerchiefs of apostles had healing properties, why can one not honor the representations of the saints? It is true there is nothing about such worship in the Holy Scriptures, but Church ordinances depend for authority on tradition no less than on Scripture. The passages against images refer to idols. “The heathens dedicate their images to demons, whom they call gods; we dedicate ours to the incarnate God and his friends, through whom we exorcise demons.” He ends his letter with a number of patristic quotations of greater or less relevancy, to each of which he appends a comment. The second letter, which is substantially a repetition of the first, is characterized by, a violent attack upon the Emperor, because of his deposition and banishment of Germanus, the patriarch of Constantinople. It closes with the same patristic quotations, and a few new ones. The third letter is almost necessarily a repetition of the preceding, since it goes over the same ground. It likewise looks upon the iconoclasts as the servants of the devil. But it bears marks of more care in preparation, and its proofs are more systematically arranged and its quotations more numerous.

For his writings in favor of images he was enthusiastically lauded by the second Nicene Council (787).

But the fame of John of Damascus as one of the greatest theologians of history rests chiefly on his work entitled the Fount of Knowledge. It is made up of three separate and complete books, which yet were designed to go together and constitute in outline a cyclopaedia of Christian theology and of all other kinds of knowledge. It is dedicated to Cosmas, bishop of Maiuma, his foster-brother and fellow-student under the old monk. Its date is after 743, the year of Cosmas’s consecration. In it the author avows that he has introduced nothing which had not been previously said, and herein is its value: it epitomizes Greek theology.

The first part of the trilogy, “Heads of Philosophy,” commonly called, by the Latin title, Dialectica, is a series of short chapters upon the Categories of Aristotle and the Universals of Porphyry, applied to Christian doctrines. The Dialectica is found in two forms, one with sixty-eight, and the other with only fifteen chapters. The explanation is probably the well-known fact that the author carefully revised his works before his death. The longer form is therefore probably the later. Its principal value is the light it throws upon the Church terminology of the period, and its proof that Christians preceded the Arabs in their study of Aristotle, by one hundred years. The second part of the trilogy, the “Compendium of Heresies,” is a description of one hundred and three heresies, compiled mostly from Epiphanius, but with two sections, on the Mohammedans and Iconoclasts, which are probably original. A confession of faith closes the book. The third, the longest, and by far the most important member of the trilogy is “An accurate Summary of the Orthodox Faith.” The authors drawn upon are almost exclusively Greek. Gregory Nazianzen is the chief source. This part was apparently divided by John into one hundred chapters, but when it reached Western Europe in the Latin translation of John Burgundio of Pisa, made by order of Pope Eugenius III. (1150), it was divided into four books to make it correspond in outward form to Peter Lombard’s Sentences. Accepting the division into four books, their contents may be thus stated: bk. I., Theology proper. In this he maintains the Greek Church doctrine of the single procession of the Holy Spirit. bk. II. Doctrines of Creation (severally of angels, demons, external nature, paradise, man and all his attributes and capacities); and of Providence, foreknowledge and predestination. In this part he shows his wide acquaintance with natural science. bk. III. Doctrine of the Incarnation. bk. IV. Miscellaneous subjects. Christ’s passion, death, burial, resurrection, ascension, session; the two-fold nature of Christ; faith; baptism; praying towards the East; the Eucharist; images; the Scriptures; Manichaeism; Judaism; virginity; circumcision; Antichrist; resurrection.

The entire work is a noteworthy application of Aristotelian categories to Christian theology. In regard to Christology he repudiates both Nestorianism and Monophysitism, and teaches that each nature in Christ possessed its peculiar attributes and was not mixed with the other. But the divine in Christ strongly predominated over the human. The Logos was bound to the flesh through the Spirit, which stands between the purely divine and the materiality of the flesh. The human nature of Jesus was incorporated in the one divine personality of the Logos (Enhypostasia). John recognizes only two sacraments, properly so called, i.e. mysteries instituted by Christ — Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. In the latter the elements are at the moment when the Holy Ghost is called upon, changed into the Body and Blood of Christ, but how is not known. He does not therefore teach transubstantiation exactly, yet his doctrine is very near to it. About the remaining five so-called sacraments he is either silent or vague. He holds to the perpetual virginity of Mary, the Mother of our Lord, and that her conception of Christ took place through the ear. He recognizes the Hebrew canon of twenty-two books, corresponding to the twenty-two Hebrew letters, or rather twenty-seven, since five of these letters have double forms. Of the Apocrypha he mentions only Ecclesiasticus and Wisdom, and these as uncanonical. To the New Testament canon he adds the Apostolical Canons of Clement. The Sabbath was made for the fleshly Jews — Christians dedicate their whole time to God. The true Sabbath is the rest from sin. He extols virginity, for as high as angels are above men so high is virginity above marriage. Yet marriage is a good as preventive of unchastity and for the sake of propagation. At the end of the world comes Antichrist, who is a man in whom the devil lives. He persecutes the Church, kills Enoch and Elijah, who are supposed to appear again upon the earth, but is destroyed by Christ at his second coming. The resurrection body is like Christ’s, in that it is immutable, passionless, spiritual, not held in by material limitation, nor dependent upon food. Otherwise it is the same as the former. The fire of hell is not material, but in what it consists God alone knows.

His remaining works are minor theological treatises, including a brief catechism on the Holy Trinity; controversial writings against Mohammedanism (particularly interesting because of the nearness of their author to the beginnings of that religion), and against Jacobites, Manichaeans, Nestorians and Iconoclasts; homilies, among them an eulogy upon Chrysostom; a commentary on Paul’s Epistles, taken almost entirely from Chrysostom’s homilies; the sacred Parallels, Bible sentences with patristic illustrations on doctrinal and moral subjects, arranged in alphabetical order, for which a leading word in the sentence serves as guide. He also wrote a number of hymns which have been noticed in a previous section.

Besides these there is a writing attributed to him, The Life of Barlaam and Joasaph the story of the conversion of the only son of an Indian King by a monk (Barlaam). It is a monastic romance of much interest and not a little beauty. It has been translated into many languages, frequently reprinted, and widely circulated. Whether John of Damascus wrote it is a question. Many things about it seem to demand an affirmative answer. His materials were very old, indeed pre-Christian, for the story is really a repetition of the Lalita Vistara, the legendary life of Buddha.

Another writing of dubious authorship is the Panegyric on St. Barbara, a marvellous tale of a suffering saint. Competent judges assign it to him. These two are characteristic specimens of monastic legends in which so much pious superstition was handed down from generation to generation.

III. Position. John of Damascus considered either as a Christian office-holder under a Mohammedan Saracenic Caliph, as the great defender of image-worship, as a learned though credulous monk, or as a sweet and holy poet, is in every way an interesting and important character. But it is as the summarizer of the theology of the Greek fathers that he is most worthy of attentive study; for although he seldom ventures upon an original remark, he is no blind, servile copyist. His great work, the “Fount of Knowledge,” was not only the summary of the theological discussions of the ancient Eastern Church, which was then and is to-day accepted as authoritative in that communion, but by means of the Latin translation a powerful stimulus to theological study in the West. Peter Lombard, Thomas Aquinas and other schoolmen are greatly indebted to it. The epithets, “Father of Scholasticism” and “Lombard of the Greeks” have been given to its author. He was not a scholastic in the proper meaning of that term, but merely applied Aristotelian dialects to the treatment of traditional theology. Yet by so doing he became in truth the forerunner of scholasticism.

An important but incidental service rendered by this great Father was as conserver of Greek learning. “The numerous quotations, not only from Gregory Nazianzen, but from a multitude of Greek authors besides would provide a field of Hellenic literature sufficient for the wants of that generation. In having so provided it, and having thus become the initiator of a warlike but ill-taught race into the mysteries of an earlier civilization, Damascenus is entitled to the praise that the elder Lenormant awarded him of being in the front rank of the master spirits from whom the genius of the Arabs drew its inspiration.”

One other interesting fact deserves mention. It was to John of Damascus that the Old Catholics and Oriental and Anglo-Catholics turned for a definition of the relation of the Holy Spirit to the Father and Son which should afford a solid basis of union. “He restored unity to the Triad, by following the ancient theory of the Greek church, representing God the Father as the ἁρχή, and in this view, the being of the Holy Spirit no less than the being of the Son as grounded in and derived from the Father. The Holy Spirit is from the Father, and the Spirit of the Father; not from the Son, but still the Spirit of the Son. He proceeds from the Father the one ἀρχή of all being, and he is communicated through the Son; through the Son the whole creation shares in the Spirit’s work; by himself he creates, moulds, sanctifies all and binds all together.”


145. Photius, Patriarch of Constantinople

I. Photius: Opera omnia, in Migne, “Patrol. Gr.” Tom. CI.-CIV. (1860). Also Monumenta Graeca ad Photium ejusgue historiam pertinentia, ed. Hergenröther. Regensburg, 1869.

II. David Nicetas: Vita Ignatii, in Migne, CV., 488-573. The part which relates to Photius begins with col. 509; partly quoted in CI. iii. P. De H. E. (anonymous): Histoire de Photius. Paris, 1772. Jager: Histoire de Photius. Paris, 1845, 2d ed., 1854. L. Tosti: Storia dell’ origine dello scisma greco. Florence, 1856, 2 vols. A. Pichler: Geschichte der kirchlichen Trennung zwischen Orient und Occident. Munich, 1864-65, 2 vols. J. Hergenröther: Photius, Patriarch von Constantinopel. Sein Leben, seine Schriften und das griechische Schisma. Regensburg, 1867-69, 3 vols. (The Monumenta mentioned above forms part of the third vol.) Cf. Du Pin, VII., 105-110; Ceillier, XII., 719-734.

Photius was born in Constantinople in the first decade of the ninth century. He belonged to a rich and distinguished family. He had an insatiable thirst for learning, and included theology among his studies, but he was not originally a theologian. Rather he was a courtier and a diplomate. When Bardas chose him to succeed Ignatius as Patriarch of Constantinople he was captain of the Emperor’s body-guard. Gregory of Syracuse, a bitter enemy of Ignatius, in five days hurried him through the five orders of monk, lector, sub-deacon, deacon, and presbyter, and on the sixth consecrated him patriarch. He died an exile in an Armenian monastery, 891.

As the history of Photius after his elevation to the patriarchate has been already treated, this section will be confined to a brief recital of his services to literature, sacred and secular.

The greatest of these was his so-called Library, which is a unique work, being nothing less than notices, critiques and extracts of two hundred and eighty works of the most diverse kinds, which he had read. Of the authors quoted about eighty are known to us only through this work. The Library was the response to the wish of his brother Tarasius, and was composed while Photius was a layman. The majority of the works mentioned are theological, the rest are grammatical, lexical, rhetorical, imaginative, historical, philosophical, scientific and medical. No poets are mentioned or quoted, except the authors of three or four metrical paraphrases of portions of Scripture. The works are all in Greek, either as originals or, as in the case of a few, in Greek translations. Gregory the Great and Cassian are the only Latin ecclesiastical writers with whom Photius betrays any intimate acquaintance. As far as profane literature is concerned, the Library makes the best exhibit in history, and the poorest in grammar. Romances are mentioned, also miscellanies. In the religious part of his work Chrysostom and Athanasius are most prominent. Of the now lost works mentioned by Photius the most important is by an anonymous Constantinopolitan author of the first half of the seventh century, who in fifteen books presented testimonies in favor of Christianity by different Greek, Persian, Thracian, Egyptian, Babylonian, Chaldean and Jewish scholars.

Unique and invaluable as the Library is, it has been criticized because more attention is given to some minor works than to other important ones; the criticisms are not always fair or worthy; the works spoken of are really few, while a much larger anthology might have been made; and again there is no order or method in the selection. It is, however, to be borne in mind that the object of the work was to mention only those books which had been read in the circle to which he and his brother belonged, during the absence of the latter; that it was hastily prepared, and was to have been followed by a second. Taking these facts into consideration there is nothing but praise to be given to the great scholar who in a wholly undesigned fashion has laid posterity under heavy obligation by jotting down his criticisms upon or making excerpts of the more important works which came under his observation during a comparatively short space of time.

Among the Greek fathers, he esteems most highly Athanasius, Chrysostom, Basil, Gregory Nazianzen, Epiphanius, Ephraem, Cyril of Alexandria, the fictitious Dionysius the Areopagite, and Maximus; among the Latin fathers, Leo. I. and Gregory I. He recognizes also Ambrose, Augustin, and Jerome as fathers, but often disputes their views. Of the ante-Nicene writers he has a rather low opinion, because they did not come up to his standard of orthodoxy; he charges Origen with blasphemous errors, and Eusebius with Arianism.

One of the earlier works of Photius, perhaps his earliest, was his Greek Lexicon, which he began in his youth and completed before the Library, although he revised it from time to time. He made use of the glossaries and lexica of former workers, whose names he has preserved in his Library, and has been in turn used by later lexicographers, e.g. Suidas (ninth century). Photius designed to remove the difficulties in the reading of the earlier and classic Greek profane and sacred literature. To this end he paid particular attention to the explanation of the old Attic expressions and figures of speech.

The most important of the theological works of Photius is the Amphilochian Questions — so called because these questions had been asked by his friend, Amphilochius, metropolitan of Lyzikus. The work consists of three hundred and twenty-four discussions, mostly in biblical exegesis, but also dogmatical, philosophical, mythological, grammatical, historical, medical, and scientific. Like the other works of Photius it displays rare learning and ability. It was composed during his first exile, and contains many complaints of lack of books and excerpts. It has no plan, is very disjointed, unequal, and evidently was written at different times. Many of the answers are taken literally from the works of others. The same question is sometimes repeatedly discussed in different ways.

Although it is doubtful whether Photius composed a complete commentary on any book of the Old Testament, it is very likely that he wrote on the Gospels and on Romans, Corinthians and Hebrews, since in the printed and unprinted catenae upon these books there are found many citations of Photius. No such commentary as a unit, however, now exists.

Two canonical works are attributed to Photius, “A Collection of Canons” and “A Collection of Ecclesiastical and Civil Laws.” To these some add a third. The second of these works, the Nomocanon, is authoritative on canonical law in the Greek Church. The word “Nomocanon” itself is the Greek name for a combination of ecclesiastical laws (κανόνες) and secular, especially imperial, law (νόμοι). Photius made such a collection in 883, on the basis of earlier collections. It contains (1) the canons of the seven universally accepted ecumenical councils (325-787), of the Trullan council of 692 (Quinisexta), the synods of 861 and 879; and (2) the laws of Justinian relative to the Greek Church. Photius was not only a collector of canonical laws, but also a legislator and commentator. The canons of the councils held by him in 861 and 879, and his canonical letters or decretals had a great and permanent influence upon Greek canonical law. The Nomocanon was enlarged and commented on by Balsamon in the twelfth century, and is usually published in connection with these commentaries. It is used in the orthodox church of Russia under the name Kormczia Kniga, i.e., “The Book for the Pilot.” As in his other works, he builded upon the foundations of his predecessors.

The historical and dogmatico-polemical writings of Photius may be divided into two classes, those against the Paulicians or Manichaeans, and those against the Roman Church. In the first class are four books which bear in the editions the general title “Against the new Manichaeans.” The first is a history of the old and new Manichaeans, written during Photius’ first patriarchate, and apparently largely borrowed from a contemporary author; the remaining three are polemical treatises upon the new Manichaeans, in which biblical rather than philosophical arguments are relied upon, and mostly those which had already been used against the Manichaeans.

The works against the Latin Church embrace (1) The Mystagogia, or doctrine of the Holy Spirit; his most important writing against the Latins. It is a discussion of the procession alone, not of the personality and divinity, of the Holy Spirit, for upon these latter points there was no difference between the Latin and Greek Churches. It appears to be entirely original with Photius. It is characterized by acuteness and great dialectical skill. There exists an epitome of this book, but it is doubtful whether Photius himself made it. (2) A collection of ten questions and answers upon such matters as, “In what respects have the Romans acted unjustly?” “How many and what true patriarchs are not recognized by the Romans, except compromisingly?” “Which emperor contends for the peace of the Church?” The collection has great historical interest, since it embraces materials which otherwise would be entirely lost. (3) Treatise against the Roman primacy. (4) Tractate against the Franks, from which there are extracts in the Kormczaia Kniga of the Oriental Slavs, which was extensively circulated in the thirteenth century, and enjoys among the Russians great authority as a book of canonical law. It has been attributed to Photius, but in its present shape is not his. (5) His famous Encyclical Letter to the Eastern Patriarchs, written in 867.

The genuine works of Photius include besides those already mentioned three books of letters of different contents, private and public, written generally in verbose style; homilies, two printed entire and two in fragments and twenty unprinted; several poems and moral sentences, probably a compilation. Several other works attributed to Photius are only of doubtful genuineness.


146. Simeon Metaphrastes

I. Simeon Metaphrastes: Opera omnia, in Migne, Patrol. Gr. Tom. cxiv.-cxvi.

II. Panegyric by Psellus, in Migne, CXIV. col. 200-208; Leo Allatius: De Symeonum scriptis, in Migne, CXIV. col. 19-148; and the Preface to Migne’s ed. Cf. Du Pin, VIII. 3; Ceillier, XII. 814-819.

This voluminous author probably lived in Constantinople during the reigns of Leo the Philosopher (886-911) and Constantine Porphyrogenitus (911-959). He was the Imperial Secretary, High Chancellor and Master of the Palace. When somewhat advanced in years he was sent by the Emperor Leo on a mission to the Cretan Arabs for the purpose, which was accomplished, of turning them from their proposed campaign against the Thessalonians. It was on this journey that he met on the island of Pharos, an anchorite, who suggested to him the writing of the lives of the saints and martyrs.

To this collection Simeon owes his fame. He apparently never carried out his original plan, which was to cover the year, for the genuine Lives of his now extant are nearly all of September (the first month of the Greek Church year), October, November and December. The remaining months have very few. But how many he wrote cannot be determined. Allatius credits him with only one hundred and twenty-two. MSS. attributed to him are found in the libraries of Munich, Venice, Florence, Madrid, Paris, London and elsewhere. The character of his work is sufficiently indicated by his epithet Simeon the Paraphraser, given to him because he turned “the ancient lives of the saints into another sort of a style than that wherein they were formerly written.” He used old material in most cases, and sometimes he did no more than edit it, at other times he re-wrote it, with a view to make it more accurate or attractive. Some of the lives are, however, original compositions. His work is of very unequal value, and as his credulity led him to admit very doubtful matter, it must be used with caution. However, he deserves thanks for his diligence in rescuing from obscurity many now illustrious names.

Besides the Lives, nine Epistles, several sermons, orations, hymns, and a canonical epitome bear his name. The Simeonis Chronicon is probably the work of a Simeon of the twelfth century.


147. Oecumenius

I. Oecumenius: Opera omnia, in Migne, Patrol. Gr. Tom. CXVIII., CXIX., col. 726, reprint of ed. of Hentenius. Paris, 1630-31, 2 vols. fol. Ceillier, XII. 913, 914.

Oecumenius was bishop of Tricca, in Thessaly, toward the close of the 10th century, and wrote a commentary upon the Acts, the Epistles of Paul and the Catholic Epistles, which is only a catena, drawn from twenty-three Fathers and writers of the Greek Church, with an occasional original comment. The work displays taste and judgment.


148. Theophylact

I. Theophylact: Opera omnia, in Migne, Patrol. Gr. Tom. CXXIII.-CXXVI., reprint of ed. Of de Rubeis. Venice, 1754-63, 4 vols. fol. Du Pin, IX. 108, 109; Neander, III. 584-586; Ceillier, XIII. 554-558.

Theophylact, the most learned exegete of the Greek Church in his day, was probably born at Euripus, on the Island of Euboea, in the Aegean Sea. Very little is known about him. He lived under the Greek Emperors Romanus IV. Diogenes (1067-1071), Michael VII. Ducas Parapinaces (1071-1078), Nicephorus III. Botoniates (1078-1081), Alexius I. Comnenus (1081-1118). The early part of his life he spent in Constantinople; and on account of his learning and virtues was chosen tutor to Prince Constantine Porphyrogenitus, the son of Michael Ducas. From 1078 until after 1107 he was archbishop of Achrida and metropolitan of Bulgaria. He ruled his diocese in an independent manner, but his letters show the difficulties he had to contend with. It is not known when he died.

His fame rests upon his commentary on the Gospels, Acts, Pauline, and Catholic Epistles; and on Hosea, Jonah, Nahum and Habakkuk, which has recently received the special commendation of such exegetes as De Wette and Meyer. It is drawn from the older writers, especially from Chrysostom, but Theophylact shows true exegetical insight, explaining the text clearly and making many original remarks of great value.

Besides his commentary, his works embrace orations on the Adoration of the Cross, the Presentation of the Virgin and on the Emperor Alexius Comnenus; a treatise on the Education Of Princes; a History of Fifteen Martyrdoms and an Address on the Errors of the Latin Church. Two of these call for further mention. The Education of Princes is addressed to Constantine Porphyrogenitus. It is in two books, of which the first is historical and discourses upon the parents of the prince, the second discusses his duties and trials. It was formerly a very popular work. It is instructive to compare it with the similar works by Paulinus, Alcuin, and Smaragdus. The Address is the most interesting work of Theophylact. It is written in a singularly conservative and moderate strain, although it discusses the two great matters in dispute between the Greek and Latin Churches, — the procession of the Holy Spirit, and the bread of the Eucharist. Of these matters Theophylact considered the first only important, and upon it took unhesitatingly the full Greek position of hostility to the Latins. Yet his fairness comes out in the remark that the error of the Latins may be due to the poverty of their language which compelled them to “employ the same term to denote the causality of the communication of the Holy Spirit and the causality of his being. The Latins, he observed, moreover, might retain the less accurate forms of expression in their homiletic discourses, if they only guarded against misconception, by carefully explaining their meaning. It was only in the confession of faith in the symbol, that perfect clearness was requisite.” In regard to the bread of the Eucharist the Latins held that it should be unleavened, the Greeks that it should be leavened. Each church claimed to follow the usage of Christ. Theophylact admitted that Christ used unleavened bread, but maintained that His example in this respect is not binding, for if it were in this then it would be in everything connected with the Supper, and it would be necessary to use barley bread and the wine of Palestine, to recline at table and to hold the Supper in a hall or upper room. But there is such a thing as Christian liberty, and the kind of bread to be used is one of the things which this liberty allows. Upon both these points of fierce and long controversy he counseled continual remembrance of the common Christian faith and the common Christian fellowship.


149. Michael Psellus

I. Michael Psellus: Opera, in Migne, Patrol. Gr., Tom. CXXII., col. 477-1358. His Hist. Byzant. et alia opuscula, ed. by Constantin Sathas. Paris, 1874.

II. Leo Allatius: Diatriba de Psellis, in Migne, l.c., col. 477-536. Ceillier, XIII. 335-337.

Michael Psellus, the third of the five of that name mentioned by Allatius, was born of a consular and patrician family in Constantinople about 1020. He took naturally to study, and denied himself the amusements and recreations of youth in order that he might make all the more rapid progress. Having completed his studies at Athens, he returned to Constantinople, and was appointed chief professor of philosophy. Constantine Monomachus invited him to his court, and entrusted him with secular business. He then turned his attention from philosophy and rhetoric to theology, physics, medicine, mathematics, astronomy and military science. In short, he explored the entire domain of knowledge, and as his memory was tenacious, he was able to retain everything he studied. “It has been said that in him human nature yielded up its inmost powers in order that he might ward off the downfall of Greek learning.” He was made the tutor of Michael Ducas, the future emperor, who when he came to the throne retained him in his councils. Psellus, of course, took the Greek position upon the Filioque question, and thwarted the movement of Peter, bishop of Anagni, to establish peace between the Greek and Latin churches. When Michael Ducas was deposed (1078), he was deprived of his professorship, and so he retired to a monastery, where he died. The last mention of him is made in 1105.

Psellus was a prolific author, but many of his writings are unprinted, and many are lost. Of the theological works which have been printed the most important are:

(1) Exposition of the Song of Songs, a paraphrase in verse with a commentary and excerpts from Gregory of Nyssa, Nilus, and Maximus.

(2) A Learned Miscellany, in 157 paragraphs, in which nearly everything is treated of, from the relations of the persons of the Trinity to the rise of the Nile and the changes of the weather. It is one of those prodigies of learning which really indicate the comparative ignorance of the past, and are now mere curiosities.

(3) The Operations of Demons, an attack, in the form of a dialogue, upon the Euchites, whom he charges with revolting and disgusting crimes, under the prompting of demons. But he passes on to discuss the subject more broadly and resting on the testimony of a certain monk who had actually seen demons he teaches their perpetual activity in human affairs; that they can propagate their species; and go anywhere at will under either a male or female form. From them come diseases and innumerable woes. The book is very curious, and has permanent value as a contribution to the demonology of the Middle Ages.

Twelve letters of Psellus have been printed. His panegyric upon Simeon Metaphrastes has already been mentioned. He wrote a criticism of the eloquence of Gregory the Theologian, Basil, and Chrysostom, and celebrated these Fathers also in verse.

Besides certain legal and philosophical treatises he wrote a poem on Doctrine, and a metrical Synopsis of Law.


150. Euthymius Zigabenus

I. Euthymius Zigabenus: Opera omnia, in Migne, Patrol. Gr., Tom, CXXVIII.-CXXXI.

II. See the Prolegomena in Migne. Ceillier, XIV. 150-155.

Euthymius Zigabenus (or Zigadenus) was a learned and able Greek monk of the order of St. Basil in the convent of the Virgin Mary near Constantinople, and enjoyed the marked favor of the emperor Alexius Comnenus (1081-1118) and his wife Anna. Being requested by Alexius to refute the Bogomiles, who had become alarmingly numerous, he was led to prepare an extensive work upon heresy, entitled The Panoply. Among the heretics he included the Pantheists, Jews, the Pope and the Latins. His materials were the decisions of councils and the Greek Fathers and other writers, including some otherwise unknown. In this important work and in separate treatises he imparts much valuable historical information respecting the Bogomiles, Massalians, Armenians, Paulicians, and even about the Jews and Mohammedans, although it is evident that he was not well informed about the last, and was much prejudiced against them. Like other Greeks, he finds the latter heretical upon the procession of the Holy Spirit and upon the bread of the Eucharist. Besides the Panoply, Euthymius wrote commentaries upon the Psalms, much dependent upon Chrysostom, and on the Gospels, more independent and exhibiting exegetical tact which in the judgment of some puts him next to Theophylact.


151. Eustathius of Thessalonica

I. Eustathius: Opera omnia in Migne, Patrol. Gr. Tom. CXXXV. col. 517; CXXXVI. col. 764 (reprint of L. F. Tafel’s ed. of the Opuscula. Frankfort, 1832, and appendix to De Thessalonica. Berlin, 1839. Tafel published a translation of Eustathius’ Ἒπίσκεψις βίου μοναχικοῦ. Betrachtungen ueber den Mönchstand. Berlin, 1847. The valuable De capta Thessalonica narratio was reprinted from Tafel in a vol. of the “Corpus scriptorum historiae Byzantinae” (Bonn, 1842, pp. 365-512), accompanied with a Latin translation.

II. The funeral orations by Euthymius of Neopatria and Michael Choniates in Migne, Patrol. Gr. CXXXVI. col. 756-764, and CXL. col. 337-361. Fabricius: Bibliotheca Graeca, ed. Harless, XI. 282-84. Neander, IV. 530-533, and his essay, Characteristik des Bustathius von Thessalonich in seiner reformatorischen Richtung, 1841, reprinted in his “Wissenschaftliche Abhandlungen,” Berlin, 1851, pp. 6-21, trans. in Kitto’s “Journal of Sacred Literature,” vol. IV., pp. 101 sqq.

Eustathius, archbishop of Thessalonica and metropolitan, the most learned man of his day, was born in Constantinople, and lived under the Greek emperors from John Comnenus to Isaac II. Angelus, i.e., between 1118 and 1195. His proper name is unknown, that of Eustathius having been assumed on taking monastic vows. His education was carried on in the convent of St. Euphemia, but he became a monk in the convent of St. Florus. He early distinguished himself for learning, piety and eloquence, and thus attracted the notice of the Emperor Manuel, who made him successively tutor to his son John, deacon of St. Sophia and master of petitions, a court position. In the last capacity he presented at least one petition to the Emperor, that from the Constantinopolitans during a severe drought.

To this period of his life probably belong those famous commentaries upon the classic authors, by which alone he was known until Tafel published his theological and historical works. But Providence designed Eustathius to play a prominent part in practical affairs, and so the Emperor Manuel appointed him bishop of Myra, the capital of Lycia in Asia Minor, and ere he had entered on this office transferred him to the archbishopric of Thessalonica (1175). He was a model bishop, pious, faithful, unselfish, unsparing in rebuke and wise in counsel, “one of those pure characters so rarely met among the Greeks — a man who well knew the failings [superstition, mock-holiness and indecorous frivolity] of his nation and his times, which he was more exempt from than any of his contemporaries.” His courage was conspicuous on several occasions. The Emperor Manuel in a Synod at Constantinople in 1180 attempted to have abrogated the formula of adjuration, “Anathema to Mohammed’s God, of whom he says that he neither begat nor was begotten,” which all who came over from Mohammedanism to Christianity had to repeat. Manuel argued that this formula was both blasphemous and prejudicial to the spread of Christianity in Islam. But Eustathius dared to brave the emperor’s rage and deny the truth of this argument. The result was a modification of the formula. Although Manuel threatened to impeach Eustathius, he really did not withdraw his favor, and the archbishop was summoned to preach the sermon at the emperor’s funeral. When in 1185 Thessalonica was sacked by Count Alduin acting under William II. of Sicily, Eustathius remained in the city and by direct personal effort procured some alleviation of the people’s sufferings, and defended their worship against the fanatical Latins. Again, he interposed his influence to keep the Thessalonians from the rapacity of the imperial tax-gatherers. But notwithstanding his high character and unsparing exertions on behalf of Thessalonica there were enough persons there who were incensed against him by his plain speaking to effect his banishment. This probably happened during the reign of the infamous Andronicus (1180-1183), who was unfriendly to Eustathius. A brief experience of the result of his absence led to his recall, and he ended his days in increased esteem. It is strange indeed to find Eustathius and Calvin alike in their expulsion and recall to the city they had done so much to save.

His writings upon practical religious topics have great interest and value. Besides sermons upon Psalm xlviii., on an auspicious year, four during Lent, in which he specially inveighs against the lax marital customs, and five on different martyrs, he wrote an enthusiastic treatise in praise of monasticism if properly used, while at the same time he faithfully rebuked the common faults of the monks, their sloth, their hypocrisy and their ignorance, which had made the very name of monk a reproach. To the Stylites, he was particularly plain in setting forth their duty. By reason of their supposed sanctity they were sought by all classes as oracles. He seeks therefore to impress them with their responsibility, and tells them always to speak fearlessly, irrespective of person; not flattering the strong nor domineering the weak. He addressed also the laity, not only in the sermons already mentioned, but in separate treatises, and with great earnestness and tenderness exhorted them to obedience to their lawful rulers, and rebuked them for their hypocrisy, which was the crying sin of the day, and for their vindictiveness. He laid down the true gospel principle: love is the central point of the Christian life. His letters of which 75 have been published, give us a vivid picture of the time, and bear unconscious testimony to his virtue. To his Interpretation of the Pentecostal hymn of John of Damascus Cardinal Mai accords the highest praise.


152. Nicetas Acominatos

I. Nicetas Choniates: Opera, in Migne, Tom. CXXXIX., col. 287 — CXL., col. 292. His History was edited by Immanuel Bekker in Scriptores Byzantinae. Bonn, 1835.

II. See Allatius in Migne, CXXXIX., col. 287-302. Ceillier, XIV. 1176, 1177. Karl Ullmann: Die Dogmatik der griechischen Kirche im 12. Jahrhundert, reprinted from the “Studien und Kritiken,” 1833.

Nicetas Acominatos, also called Choniates, to denote his birth at Chonae the old Colossae in Phrygia, was one of the great scholars and authors of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. He was educated at Constantinople, studied law and early rose to prominence at the imperial court. He married a descendant of Belisarius; and at the time when Constantinople was taken by the crusaders (1204) he was governor of Philippopolis. He fled to Nicaea, and there died about 1216. It was during this last period of his life that he composed his Treasury of Orthodoxy, for the consolation and instruction of his suffering fellow-religionists. This work was in twenty-seven books, but only five have been published complete, and that only in the Latin translation of Peter Morel, made from the original MS. brought to Paris from Mt. Athos. Cardinal Mai has, however, given fragments of Books vi. viii. ix. x. xii. xv. xvii. xx. xxiii. xxiv. xxv., and these Migne has reprinted with a Latin translation. The work is, like the Panoply of Euthymius, a learned text-book of theology and a refutation of heresy, but it has more original matter in it, and being written by a layman and a statesman is more popular.

Book 1st is a statement of Gentile philosophy and of the errors of the Jews. Book 2d treats of the Holy Trinity, and of angels and men. Book 3d of the Incarnate Word. From Book 4th to the end the several heresies are described and combated. Nicetas begins with Simon Magus and goes down to his own day.

But his fame really rests upon his History, which tells the story of Byzantine affairs from 1117 to 1205; and is an able and reliable book. The closing portions interestingly describe the destruction or mutilation of the monuments in Constantinople by the Latins.