Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Two Early Lives of Severos, Patriarch of Antioch

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Two Early Lives of Severos, Patriarch of Antioch

Article excerpt

Two Early Lives of Severos, Patriarch of Antioch. Translated with an introduction and notes by Sebastian Brock and Brian Fitzgerald. [Translated Texts for Historians, Vol. 59.] (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press; distrib. University of Chicago Press. 2013. Pp. xii, 175. $34.95 paperback. ISBN 978-1-84631882-5.)

"The Life of Severus" by Zacharias Scholasticus and the "Life of Severus" traditionally attributed to John of Beth Aphthonia and here translated into English for the first time are possibly the two most important documents not only for the historical events linked to Severus of Antioch (c. 465-538 AD) but also, given the patriarch's historical importance, for the history of the late Roman empire and the Christian Church in the Orient at the turn of the sixth century. Zacharias, a friend and a fellow student of Severus in Alexandria and Beirut, wrote his work in reaction to a pamphlet that accused Severus of participating in pagan sacrifices as a student. His openly apologetic narrative goes from the family origins of Severus up to his ordination as Patriarch of Antioch in 512. The anonymous "Life," composed immediately after the death of the patriarch, drew on Zacharias's work for the early years of Severus, taking the narrative up to Severus's death and the miraculous events surrounding his burial. The task of translating and introducing the texts has been divided between the two editors: Sebastian Brock has translated and commented on the "Life of Severus" of Zacharias and has written the sections of the introduction dealing with Severus and Zacharias. Brian Fitzgerald is responsible for the later "Life of Severus" as well as for the relevant section in the introduction.

The concise but highly informative introduction gives an outline of the life of Severus based upon all the available sources and clarifies the question of his pagan origins through a synoptical presentation of both the Syriac and almost contradictory Coptic redactions of the famous section from the second Cathedral homily in which Severus mentions his life before baptism (pp. …

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