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

By Henry Chadwick | Go to book overview

24 Paul of Samosata

The Persian capture of the Roman emperor Valerian and his great city of Antioch in 259/60 resulted from the constant weakness of an eastern frontier without natural barriers and in any event ill defined and fluctuating. Roman collapse made possible for a decade in the 260s the emergence of an autonomous kingdom under Queen Zenobia based on the largely Arab city of Palmyra in the Syrian desert. The political independence was contemporaneous with a controversy about the style and teaching of the bishop of Antioch on the Orontes, Paul from Samosata on the Euphrates, whose doctrines of Christ and flamboyance in general delighted some of his people and alarmed others. Paul was sharply critical of the interpretation of scripture generally current in the Greek churches. 'He spoke disparagingly of dead exegetes', said his critics, and the reference is probably to the lately dead Origen, whose commentaries and sermons were still influential. It is a measure of their influence and of the opposition aroused that about ad 300 Eusebius and his master Pamphilus undertook a considerable Defence of Origen in six books; the first of the six survives in a Latin version by Rufinus of Aquileia.

Greek culture had come to pervade Syria and most of the Semitic world, but not so much as to suppress the languages, Aramaic, Nabataean, Syriac, Arabic. Most people spoke Greek, which was the medium of cultured communication. Paul may well have had Aramaic as his mother's-knee tongue, but was certainly fluent in Greek. Critical as he evidently was of the way in which Origen and his admirers spoke of the incarnate Lord, there is no sufficient reason to think him a conscious vehicle of nationalist Syrian culture over against a Hellenic Christian society. Greek was the dominant Christian language for worship and theology. In the second century a Greek harmony of the four Gospels made by Justin's pupil Tatian and called 'Diatessaron' became a standard text translated for Syriac-speaking churches. At Edessa in 200 Bardaisan was bilingual in Syriac and Greek. The Palmyra court under Queen Zenobia became host to the excellent scholar Longinus, who tried to persuade the polymath Porphyry to come and join him (Life of Plotinus 6). The name Iamblichus, borne by the famous Neoplatonist, is that of a princely Phoenician family fluent in Greek but whose first language was Aramaic (Photius, Bibliotheca 94).

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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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