The church-historical epitome

I’ve been trying to understand just what this “kirchegeschichtliches Epitome” text is that all the articles about Philip of Side mention.  The catalogue of fragments referred to it quite a bit.

It seems it’s a text whose existence is inferred (don’t you hate that?).  Apparently there are three 14th century manuscripts containing excerpts from church histories of various sorts.  If you compare these, there’s enough commonality that they can’t be independent.   They must all derive from some earlier epitome of church history.  Then there are a couple of pages in Milan, which seem to derive from a copy of that earlier epitome.  The conclusion of De Boor, when printing the fragments of Philip of Side, was that this epitome was the source for all the fragments now extant.

The epitome consists of snippets from Eusebius’ Church History, plus additions from sources unspecified; then material from the Historia Tripartita (i.e. Socrates, Sozomen, Theodoret), plus some stuff from the now lost history of Gelasius of Caesarea.  It ran from the time of Christ up to the reign of the emperor Phocas (610), so was presumably written at that time.  The Christian History of Philip of Side must have been one of the minor sources.

6 Responses to “The church-historical epitome”


  1. Andy Hilkens

    I cannot account for the Greek sources, but I recently read a work about Syriac historiography and it seems that the Greek ecclesiastical histories were never fully translated into Syriac, but collections of translated fragments were passed on. It’s not a great leap from collections of Syriac fragments to Greek collections, why copy these church histories in full, when you can have the most interesting passages in one manuscript and leave out the rest.

  2. Andy Hilkens

    “the Greek ecclesiastical histories” should be “some”, such as Sozomenus and Socrates Scholasticus….

  3. Roger Pearse

    Well epitome is the characteristic literary activity of the Byzantine period, isn’t it?

  4. Jan van Ginkel

    For this text see:
    Günther Christian Hansen, Die kirchengeschichtliche Epitome, in: idem, Theodoros Anagnostes: Kirchengeschichte (GCS, 54), Berlijn: Akademie-Verlag, 1971, p. xxxvii-xxxix.
    It’s a summary of late antique Greek historiography. Although this refers to one particualr epitome, there are several fragmentary summaries of historiography preserved in various Greek and Syriac manuscripts.

  5. Jan van Ginkel

    PS: Hansen argues that most of the fragments attributed to Philip of Side are in fact by Gelasius of Caesarea

  6. Roger Pearse

    Thank you very much! I should add that the fragments of Philip are now online in English; one of the positive outcomes of this rather irritable post!