More digging in Quasten

I’m still reading through Quasten’s Patrology volume 3, looking for interesting texts which might be translated.  A few more have caught my eye.

It seems that Epiphanius of Salamis, author of the Panarion, also wrote three works attacking the veneration of images.  He became concerned that people were putting up such images in the churches, pagan-style.  These are extant (more or less). K. Holl, Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Kirchengeschichte, vol. 2 (1928), pp.356-363.  I wasn’t able to find this online, unfortunately.

Theodore of Mopsuestia on Genesis I have mentioned before.  I admit that I am still drawn to this.  Likewise I need to remember to do something about the remains of Philip of Side.

Another snippet from Quasten relates to Diodore of Tarsus.  During the reign of Julian the Apostate he resisted the attempts at re-paganisation.  In a rage Julian wrote an angry letter to one Photinus describing Diodore as “a priest sorceror of the Galileans” and “a keen defender of a religion for farmers” who was defending the Christians with “the wisdom of Athens itself”.  Erudite Christians always tend to infuriate Christian-haters.  The letter is preserved by Facundus of Hermiane (who?), Pro defens. trium capit. 4, 2.  I am unfamiliar with this work, but the letter sounds like something that should be online, and does not seem to be. 

I wonder if the letter is present in the Loeb Julian?  I always hesitated to scan material from these, not least because I am very much in favour of the Loeb Library, and the volumes are still in print.  But now that PDF’s are online there seems little reason to hold back.

The letter is indeed in the Loeb edition of Julian the Apostate, volume 3, on p.186, which also tells us that Diodore was in Antioch in 362.

This letter may have been written at any time between Julian’s arrival at Antioch in July 362 and his departure thence, in March 363. The Greek original is represented by curious and sometimes untranslatable Latin. Photinus, bishop of Sirmium, where Constantius resided in 351, was tried, deposed and banished by a synod convened there by Constantius. According to Sozomen 4. 6, he wrote many Greek and Latin works in support of his heretical views on the divinity of Christ, which were opposed by both Arians and Nicaeans. He is mentioned by Julian, Against the Galilieans 262c.

Moreover the Emperor Julian, faithless to Christ, in his attack on Diodorus writes as follows to Photinus the heresiarch:

O Photinus, you at any rate seem to maintain what is probably true, and come nearest to being saved, and do well to believe that he whom one holds to be a god can by no means be brought into the womb. But Diodorus, a charlatan priest of the Nazarene, when he tries to give point to that nonsensical theory about the womb by artifices and juggler’s tricks, is clearly a sharp-witted sophist of that creed of the country-folk.

A little further on he says:

But if only the gods and goddesses and all the Muses and Fortune will lend me their aid, I hope to show that he is feeble and a corrupter of laws and customs, of pagan * Mysteries and Mysteries of the gods of the underworld, and that that new-fangled Galilaean god of his, whom he by a false myth styles eternal, has been stripped by his humiliating death and burial of the divinity falsely ascribed to him by Diodorus.

Then, just as people who are convicted of error always begin to invent, being the slaves of artifice rather than of truth, he goes on to say:

For the fellow sailed to Athens to the injury of the general welfare, then rashly took to philosophy and engaged in the study of literature, and by the devices of rhetoric armed his hateful tongue against the heavenly gods, and being utterly ignorant of the Mysteries of the pagans he so to speak imbibed most deplorably the whole mistaken folly of the base and ignorant creed-making fishermen. For this conduct he has long ago been punished by the gods themselves. For, for many years past, he has been in danger, having contracted a wasting disease of the chest, and lie now suffers extreme torture. His whole body has wasted away. For his cheeks have fallen in and his body is deeply lined with wrinkles. But this is no sign of philosophic habits, as he wishes it to seem to those who are deceived by him, but most certainly a sign of justice done and of punishment from the gods which has stricken him down in suitable proportion to his crime, since he must live out to the very end his painful and bitter life, his appearance that of a man pale and wasted.

* Twice in this letter Facundus translates Julian’s “Hellenic” as “pagan.”

Interesting that this Photinus was currying favour with Julian.  We tend to think of the corrupt bishop as a modern figure, but of course it is not so.

2 thoughts on “More digging in Quasten

  1. Thanks for the note. It’s always interesting to see what people find interesting. I’d like these too. But as I don’t have a copy or easy means to acquire one, I can’t commission it just yet.

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