The Church in Ancient Society: From Galilee to Gregory the Great

By Henry Chadwick | Go to book overview

19 Julius Africanus

A comparable contemporary of Clement was another learned Christian, Sextus Julius Africanus, whose surviving writings show him to have been a rare polymath. He was capable of writing on military matters (of which he had some first-hand knowledge), on history, magic, Christianity, and architecture. He had a strikingly varied career in the army, in medicine, and law. His birthplace seems to have been Hadrian's replacement of Jerusalem, Aelia Capitolina (P. Oxy. III 412). He came to know relatives of Jesus from the Nazareth region, and knew at least some Hebrew. On a visit to Edessa he met King Abgar VIII (177-212) and his son and especially a Christian theologian who also wrote Syriac poetry, Bardaisan or (for Greeks) Bardesanes (below p. 166), whose skill in archery he admired. Bardaisan or an immediate pupil was author of an extant tract 'on the laws of the nations', 1 copied by both Christians and pagans. At Edessa Africanus studied the archives to grasp the history of Edessa's kings. He compiled a pioneer chronicle in five books, providing a synchronous account of biblical or church history together with Greek and Roman history.

His reputation reached the ears of the emperor Severus Alexander to whom he dedicated a kind of encyclopedia, and perhaps he influenced this emperor towards the construction of a private chapel with statues of principal heroes of the various religions of his subjects, including Abraham and Jesus. The emperor invited him to design a library for the Pantheon in Rome. For an otherwise unknown Aristides he composed an extant harmonization of the two gospel genealogies of Jesus, the differences between them being a point of negative criticism against the reliability of the records. (Late in the fourth century their diversity played a crucial role in repelling the adolescent Augustine from his mother's faith.)

In touch with the equally learned Origen, he persuasively argued that the story of Susanna should not be cited as authoritatively showing up Jewish elders in an unhappy light, since the Greek text contained a pun not

-130-

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The Church in Ancient Society: From Galilee to Gregory the Great
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The Church in Ancient Society iii
  • Prefatory Note vi
  • Contents vii
  • Abbreviations ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1: The First Followers of Jesus 5
  • 2: The Jewish Matrix 13
  • 3: Jews and Christians Survive Rome's Crushing of Revolts 21
  • 4: The Hebrew Scriptures in the Church 27
  • 5: Interpreting Scripture 32
  • 6: Apostles and Evangelists 43
  • 7: Women Among Jesus' Followers 53
  • 8: 'Barnabas', Jewish Christianity, Trouble at Corinth 56
  • 9: Ignatius of Antioch 65
  • 10: Didache 84
  • 11: Marcion 89
  • 12: Justin 93
  • 13: Irenaeus of Lyon 100
  • 14: The New Testament Text 108
  • 15: Celsus: A Platonist Attack 110
  • 16: Montanism: Perpetua 114
  • 17: Tertullian, Minucius Felix 118
  • 18: Clement of Alexandria 124
  • 19: Julius Africanus 130
  • 20: Hippolytus and Liturgy 132
  • 21: Origen 135
  • 22: Cyprian of Carthage 145
  • 23: Dionysius of Alexandria 161
  • 24: Paul of Samosata 166
  • 25: Mani 170
  • 26: Plotinus, Porphyry 173
  • 27: Diocletian and the Great Persecution; Rise of Constantine 176
  • 28: Constantine 190
  • 29: The Seeds of Reaction 201
  • 30: The Church at Prayer 212
  • 31: Athanasius, Marcellus, and the Gathering Storm 226
  • 32: A Fiasco at Serdica 240
  • 33: Religious Division 254
  • 34: Athanasius' Return 260
  • 35: Constantius' Double Council of Unity 279
  • 36: Julian and the Church 295
  • 37: Damasus, Siricius, Papal Authority, Synesius of Cyrene 314
  • 38: Basil of Caesarea (Cappadocia) 331
  • 39: Ambrose 348
  • 40: Ambrosiaster 379
  • 41: Donatism 382
  • 42: Monks: The Ascetic Life 394
  • 43: Messalians 411
  • 44: Schism at Antioch 415
  • 45: Jerome and Rufinus 433
  • 46: Pelagius, Caelestius, and the Roman See in Gaul and North Africa 446
  • 47: Julian of Eclanum 464
  • 48: Augustine 473
  • 49: John Chrysostom 479
  • 50: Innocent I and John Chrysostom's Honour 499
  • 51: The Christological Debate, I 515
  • 52: The Christological Debate, Ii 538
  • 53: The Christological Debate, Iii 557
  • 54: The Aftermath of the Council of Chalcedon 592
  • 55: Justinian, Origen, and the 'Three Chapters' 612
  • 56: The Ancient Oriental Churches 628
  • 57: The Church and the Barbarian Invasions in the West 633
  • 58: Pope Gregory the Great (590-604) 658
  • 59: Worship After Constantine 675
  • 60: Pilgrims 684
  • 61: Penance 688
  • Further Reading 694
  • Dates of Roman Emperors 714
  • Index 721
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