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