An alternative theory of
the history of Christianity
Article 53: The Council of Nicaea - PHILOSTORGIUS
Philostorgius says that he cannot tell who was the author of the two books which are commonly called those of the Maccabees. But he is especially loud in the praise of their unknown author, inasmuch as the events which he narrates in them are found to correspond exactly with the prophecies of Daniel: and also because of the skill which he shows in explaining how the evil deeds of men reduced the condition of the Jewish people to the lowest depths, just as afterwards it was the valour of other men that retrieved it again; when the Jews resuscitated the spirit in which they had met their enemies of old, and had seen their temple purged of foreign superstitions. The Second Book of Maccabees, however, according to Philostorgius, would seem to be the work of a different writer from the First; and is a mere compendium of what Jason of Cyrene related at length in five books. It gives an account of the war carried on by Judas Maccabeus against Antiochus Epiphanes, and his son named Eupator. But as to the Third Book of the Maccabees, Philostorgius utterly rejects it as monstrous, and as bearing no resemblance to the two former ones. The Fourth Book he asserts to have been the work of Joseph, and to be regarded rather as an encomium upon Eleazar and his seven sons, the Maccabeans, than as a regular history of events.
Though Philostorgius praises Eusebius Pamphilus as well on other grounds as on account of his Ecclesiastical History, yet he accuses him of erroneous opinions in matters relating to religion. The accusation which he brings against him is to the effect that Eusebius considered the Deity as unintelligible and incomprehensible, and that he was implicated in a variety of other strange opinions. He also bears witness that Eusebius brought down his history to the period when Constantine the Great was succeeded in the empire by his sons.
The impious Philostorgius says that when the votes of the people were inclining to his own side in the election of an archbishop of Alexandria, Arius preferred Alexander to himself, and so contrived to give him a majority.
He also says that a certain presbyter of Alexandria, who was called Baucalis, on account of a lump of superfluous flesh which had grown upon his back to the size of an earthen vessel, such as the Alexandrians call “Baucala” in their provincial dialect, having obtained the post of honour among the presbyters next to Arius himself, brought about the beginning of contention between Alexander and Arius, and that it was from this circumstance that the preaching of the Homoöusian doctrine was devised.
Constantius, the father of Constantine the Great, according to Philostorgius, was proclaimed emperor of Upper Galatia and the district lying around the Alps; regions which were very remote and difficult of access. This Upper Galatia is now called Gallia or Gaul by the Romans. The death of Constantius occurred in Britain, which is also called the island of Albion. Constantine succeeded in avoiding the treachery of Diocletian, and finding his father on his deathbed upon his arrival in Britain, he soon after committed his body to the tomb, and was shortly proclaimed his successor in the empire.
As to the cause of the conversion of Constantine from heathen superstitions to the Christian faith, Philostorgius, in conformity with all other writers, ascribes it to his victory over Maxentius, in a battle in which the sign of the cross was seen in tile East, vast in extent and lit up with glorious light, and surrounded on each side by stars like a rainbow, symbolizing tile form of letters. The letters too were in the Latin tongue and formed these words, “In hoc signo vinces.”
Philostorgius says that before the synod at Nicaea, Alexander, bishop of Alexandria, came to Nicomedia, and after a convention with Hosius of Cordova and the other bishops who were with him, prevailed upon the synod to declare the Son consubstantial with the Father, and to expel Arius from the communion of the church.
Not long after this, the synod of Nicaea was held; at this synod, over and above the other high priests of God, Basileus, bishop of Amasea, and Meletius, bishop of Sebastopolis, were present.
Philostorgius also confesses that all the bishops consented to the exposition of the faith made at Nicaea, with the exception of Secundus, bishop of Ptolemais, and Theon, bishop of Marmarica. But the rest of the band of Arian bishops, such as Eusebius of Nicomedia, (whom Philostorgius
calls the Great,) Theognis of Nicaea, end Tharis of Chalcedon, and all the others, embraced the sentence of the council, though with a fraudulent and treacherous purpose, (as Philostorgius admits,) for under the term o9moou&sioj they secretly introduced that of o9moiou&sioj. But still they did not refuse submission to the decrees of the synod, though Constantina, the emperor's sister, suggested this counsel to them.
Philostorgius adds that Secundus, on going into exile, said to Eusebius, "You subscribed, Eusebius, in order to escape being sent into banishment: but I place my confidence in a revelation made to me by God, that within a year you will be sent into exile too." In point of fact, within three months after the conclusion of the synod, Eusebius was sent into exile according to the prediction of Secundus, upon returning to his own original and manifest impiety.
PHILOSTORGIUS falsely relates, that after the general council and the recantation of the Eusebians, and their open return to the orthodox faith, the emperor Constantine punished them, because, while they subscribed to the Homoousian faith, they entertained sentiments at variance with it, and on the other band, that he recalled Secundus and his associates from banishment, and sent letters in every direction, exploding the term "Homoousios," and confirming the doctrine of a diversity of substance. He adds that Alexander, bishop of Alexandria, subscribed these letters, and that on this account Arius communicated with him. But when all fear on account of the emperor was at an end, Alexander returned to his original sentiments, while Arius and those who joined with him in his opinions seceded from communion with Alexander and the church.
He says that Arius, after his secession from the church, composed several songs to be sung by sailors, and by millers, and by travellers along the high road, and others of the same kind, which he adapted to certain tunes, as he thought suitable in each separate case, and thus by degrees seduced the minds of the unlearned by the attractiveness of his songs to the adoption of his own impiety.
Though Philostorgius extols Arius to the skies for impugning the Divinity of the Son, yet he asserts that the latter is involved in the most absurd errors, because he everywhere affirms that God cannot be known, or comprehended, or conceived by the human mind; and not only by men, (which perhaps were an evil more easy to endure,) but also not even by His own only-begotten Son. And lie asserts that not only Arius, but also a large body of his followers, were carried away into this absurd error at the same time. For with the exception of Secundus and Theonas, and the disciples of the martyr Lucian, namely Leontius, Antonius, and Eusebius of Nicomedia, the rest of the impious band of heretics adopted this opinion.
Philostorgius asserts that Constantine was induced by the fraudulent artifices of his step-mother to put his son Crispus to death; and afterwards, upon detecting her in the act of adultery with one of his Cursores, ordered the former to be suffocated in a hot bath. He adds, that long afterwards Constantine was poisoned by his brothers during his stay at Nicomedia, by way of atonement for the violent death of Crispus.
THE ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY OF PHILOSTORGIUS presented above is actually an epitome
compiled by Photius, circa 855 CE. The original work no longer exists. Philostorgius was born about 368 at Borissus in Cappadocia Secunda but went at the age of twenty to Constantinople where he spent most of his life. Though a layman he became a follower and warm admirer of Eunomius.
While at Constantinople he published between 425 and 433 a Church History in twelve books covering the period 300-425 ostensibly a continuation of Eusebius but in reality a late apology for the extreme Arianism of Eunomius.
The History composed by this author was comprised in twelve books, and the initial letters of each book being put together composed the author’s name. Philostorgius commenced his History from the outbreak of the contest between Arius and Alexander, which he regarded as the first cause of the outbreak of the Arian heresy: and he continued it down to the date of the proclamation as emperor of Valentinian the younger, the son of Constantius and Placidia, and the violent death of John the Tyrant. The History itself was written as an encomium on the heretical party, and an attack and assault upon the orthodox, rather than a history.
Mountain Man Graphics