Friday, October 7, 2011


LATIN TEXT: “...Alia epistola Constani Victor Constantinus, Maximus, Augustis, episcopos et plebibus. Cum malos et impios homines imitatus sit Arius, camdem cum illis poenam infamiae meretur subire. Quemadmodum ergo Porphyrius verae pietatis inimicus, compositis adversus Christianam religionem nefariis voluminibus, dignam mercedem retulit, ut et ipse infamis sit apud posteros, multisque appetitus opprobiis, et impii ejus libri penitus fuerint aboliti : ita nunc placuit Arium sectatoresque ejus Porphyrianos vocari, ut cujus imitati sunt mores, ejus etiam vocabulo appellentur. Praeterea, si quis forte liber ab Ario conscriptus reperiatur, flammis eum absumi praecipimus : ut non solum prava illius doctrina funditus aboeatur ; sed ne monumentum quidem ejus ullum posteritati relinquatur. Illud etiam denuntio, quod si quis librum ab Ario compositum occultasse deprehensus sit, nec eum statim oblatum igne combusserit, mortis paenam subibit : simul atque enim in hoc facinore fuerit deprehensus, capitali supplicio ferietur. Divinitas vos servet...” - (Pages 89, 90; Lib. I. Cap. IX. HISTORIA ECCLESIASTICA. MPL.)

SOCRATES SCHOLASTICUS’ (circa. born 380-? C.E.): “...Victor Constantine Maximus Augustus, to the bishops and people.—Since Arius has imitated wicked and impious persons, it is just that he should undergo the like ignominy. Wherefore as Porphyry,[180] that enemy of piety, for having composed licentious treatises against religion, found a suitable recompense, and such as thenceforth branded him with infamy, overwhelming him with deserved reproach, his impious writings also having been destroyed; so now it seems fit both that Arius and such as hold his sentiments should be denominated Porphyrians, that they may take their appellation from those whose conduct they have imitated. And in addition to this, if any treatise composed by Arius should be discovered, let it be consigned to the flames, in order that not only his depraved doctrine may be suppressed, but also that no memorial of him may be by any means left. This therefore I decree, that if any one shall be detected in concealing a book compiled by Arius, and shall not instantly bring it forward and burn it, the penalty for this offense shall be death; for immediately after conviction the criminal shall suffer capital punishment. May God preserve you!...” - (Book I, Chapter IX.—The Letter of the Synod, relative to its Decisions: and the Condemnation of Arius and those who agreed with him.
Another Epistle of Constantine. Socrates Scholasticus’ Ecclesiastical History. Roberts & Donalsons ANF series.)
[FOOTNOTE 180]: Cf. III. 23, where the author makes further mention of Porphyry and his writings; see also Smith, Dict. Greek and Roman Biog.

Two English translations of the Syriac version of the same edict:

SOCRATES SCHOLASTICUS’ (circa. born 380-? C.E.): “...Constantine the King to the Bishops and nations everywhere. Inasmuch as Arius imitates the evil and the wicked, it is right that, like them, he should be rebuked and rejected. As therefore Porphyry, who was an enemy of the fear of God, and wrote wicked and unlawful writings against the religion of Christians, found the reward which befitted him, that he might be a reproach to all generations after, because he fully and insatiably used base fame; so that on this account his writings were righteously destroyed; thus also now it seems good that Arius and the holders of his opinion should all be called Porphyrians, that he may be named by the name of those whose evil ways he imitates: And not only this, but also that all the writings of Arius, wherever they be found, shall be delivered to be burned with fire, in order that not only his wicked and evil doctrine may be destroyed, but also that the memory of himself and of his doctrine may be blotted out, that there may not by any means remain to him remembrance in the world. Now this also I ordain, that if any one shall be found secreting any writing composed by Arius, and shall not forthwith deliver up and burn it with fire, his punishment shall be death; for as soon as he is caught in this he shall suffer capital punishment by beheading without delay...” - (Letter of Constantine to the churches. Synopsis: Against Arius and the Porphyrians, and threatens that any one who conceals a work of Arius shall be punished with death. A translation of a Syriac translation of [Socrates Scholasticus’ Ecclesiastical History 1:9], written in 501, is in B. H. Cowper’s, Syriac Miscellanies, Extracts From The Syriac Ms. No. 14528 In The British Museum, Lond. 1861, p. 6– 7)

SOCRATES SCHOLASTICUS’ (circa. born 380-? C.E.): “...The great and victorious Constantine Augustus to the bishops and laity: Since Arius is an imitator of the wicked and the ungodly, it is only right that he should suffer the same dishonor as they. Porphyry, who was hostile to anyone who feared God, composed a book which transgressed against our religion, and has found a suitable reward: namely that he has been disgraced from that time onward, his reputation is completely terrible, and his ungodly writings have been destroyed. In the same way it seems appropriate that Arius and those of like mind with Arius should from now on be called Porphyrians, so that their name is taken from those whose ways they have imitated. In addition, if any writing composed by Arius should be found, it should be handed over to the flames, so that not only will the wickedness of his teaching be obliterated, but nothing will be left even to remind anyone of him. And I hereby make a public order, that if someone should be discovered to have hidden a writing composed by Arius, and not to have immediately brought it forward and destroyed it by fire, his penalty shall be death. As soon as he is discovered in this offense, he shall be submitted for capital punishment. And in another hand: God will watch over you, beloved brothers...” - (Translation by AJW or H-G. Opitz, Athanasius Werke, vol. 2.1 (Berlin: De Gruyter, 1940). Ancient Syriac sources 2 manuscripts: Brit. Mus. Add. 14,528 and Vatican Borg. Syr. 82 Modern edition of Syriac Fredrich Schulthess, “Die syrischen Kanones der Synoden von Nicaea bis Chalcedon.” Abhandlungen der Königlichen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen, Philologisch-Historische Klasse N.F. 10, no. 2 (Berlin: Weidmannsche Buchhandlung, 1908) pp. 1-2.)

SALMINIUS HERMIAS SOZOMEN (circa. ?-448 C.E.): “...It ought to be known, that they affirmed the Son to be consubstantial with the Father; and that those are to be excommunicated and voted aliens to the Catholic Church, who assert that there was a time in which the Son existed not, and before He was begotten He was not, and that He was made from what had no existence, and that He is of another hypostasis or substance from the Father, and that He is subject to change or mutation. This decision was sanctioned by Eusebius, bishop of Nicomedia; by Theognis, bishop of Nicaea; by Maris, bishop of Chalcedon; by Patrophilus, bishop of Scythopolis; and by Secundus, bishop of Ptolemais in Libya.[67] Eusebius Pamphilus, however, withheld his assent for a little while, but on further examination assented.[68] The council excommunicated Arius and his adherents, and prohibited his entering Alexandria. The words in which his opinions were couched were likewise condemned, as also a work entitled "Thalia," which he had written on the subject. I have not read this book, but I understand that it is of a loose character, resembling in license Sotadus.[69] It ought to be known that although Eusebius, bishop of Nicomedia, and Theognis, bishop of Nicaea, assented to the document of this faith set forth by the council, they neither agreed nor subscribed to the deposition of Arius. The emperor punished Arius with exile, and dispatched edicts to the bishops and people of every country, denouncing him and his adherents as ungodly, and commanding. that their books should be destroyed, in order that no remembrance of him or of the doctrine which he had broached might remain. Whoever should be found secreting his writings and who should not bum them immediately on the accusation, should undergo the penalty of death, and suffer capital punishment...” - (Book 1, Chapter XXI. - What the Council Determined About Arius; The Condemnation of His Followers; His Writings are to Be Burnt; Certain of the High Priests Differ from the Council; The Settlement of the Passover. Historia Ecclesia.)
[FOOTNOTE 67]: There are variations in the earlier writers as to the number and names of the excommunicated and banished.
[FOOTNOTE 68]: Eusebius' attempt at straddling amounts to prevarication here, and later; Soc. i. 8 copied by the later historians.
[FOOTNOTE 69]: Cf. Soc. i. 9; both borrowed their criticism from Athan. Orcont. Arian. i. 4, etc.

Eusebius refers to the seizure of books as well:

EUSEBIUS OF CAESAREA (circa. 260 to 340 C.E. ): “...Thus were the lurking-places of the heretics broken up by the emperor's command, and the savage beasts they harbored (I mean the chief authors of their impious doctrines) driven to flight. Of those whom they had deceived, some, intimidated by the emperor's threats, disguising their real sentiments, crept secretly into the Church. For since the law directed that search should be made for their books, those of them who practiced evil and forbidden arts were detected, and, these were ready to secure their own safety by dissimulation of every kind.[84]...” - (Book III, ch.6ff. Chapter LXVI. How on the Discovery of Prohibited Books Among the Heretics, Many of Them Return to the Catholic Church. Vita Constantini.)
[FOOTNOTE 84]: Here again it is worth noting, for history and for edification, that books were prohibited and heretics treated just as the Christians did not like to "be done by," by the heathen.