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§ 167. Didymus of Alexandria.


I. Didymi Alexandrini Opera omnia: accedunt S. Amphilochii et Nectarii scripta quae supersunt Graece, accurante et denuo recognoscente J. P. Migne. Petit-Montrouge (Paris), 1858. (Tom. xxxix. of the Patrologia Graeca.)

II. Hieronymus: De viris illustr. c. 109, and Prooem. in Hoseam. Scattered accounts in Rufinus, Palladius, Socrates, Sozomen, and Theodoret. Tillemont: Mémoires, x. 164. Fabricius: Bibl. Gr. tom. ix. 269 sqq. ed. Harless (also in Migne’s ed. of the Opera, pp. 131–140). Schröckh: Church History, vii. 74–87. Guericke: De schola Alexandrina. Hal. 1824.


Didymus, the last great teacher of the Alexandrian catechetical school, and a faithful follower of Origen, was born probably at Alexandria about the year 309. Though he became in his fourth year entirely blind, and for this reason has been surnamed Caecus, yet by extraordinary industry he gained comprehensive and thorough knowledge in philosophy, rhetoric, and mathematics. He learned to write by means of wooden tablets in which the characters were engraved; and he became so familiar with the Holy Scriptures by listening to the church lessons, that he knew them almost all by heart.

Athanasius nominated him teacher in the theological school, where he zealously labored for nearly sixty years. Even men like Jerome, Rufinus, Palladius, and Isidore, sat at his feet with admiration. He was moreover an enthusiastic advocate of ascetic life, and stood in high esteem with the Egyptian anchorites; with St. Anthony in particular, who congratulated him, that, though blind to the perishable world of sense, he was endowed with the eye of an angel to behold the mysteries of God. He died at a great age, in universal favor, in 395.

Didymus was thoroughly orthodox in the doctrine of the Trinity, and a discerning opponent of the Arians, but at the same time a great venerator of Origen, and a participant of his peculiar views concerning the pre-existence of souls, and probably concerning final restoration. For this reason he was long after his death condemned with intolerant zeal by several general councils.19751975   First at the fifth ecumenical council in 553. The sixth council in 680 stigmatized him as a defender of the abominable doctrine of Origen, who revived the heathen fables of the transmigration of souls; and the seventh repeated this in 787

We have from him a book On the Holy Ghost, translated by Jerome into Latin, in which he advocates, with much discrimination, and in simple, biblical style, the consubstantiality of the Spirit with the Father, against the Semi-Arians and Pneumatomachi of his time;19761976   Didymus wrote only one book De Spiritu Sancto (see Jerome, De viris illustr. c. 135: librum unum de Sp. S. Didymi quem in Latinum transtuli). The division into three books is of later date. and three books on the Trinity, in the Greek original.19771977   Discovered and edited by Joh. Aloys. Mingarelli, at Bologna, 1769, with a Latin translation and learned treatises on the life, doctrine, and writings of Didymus. (Dr. Herzog, Encykl. iii. p. 384, confounds this edition with a preliminary advertisement by the brother Ferdinand Mingarelli: Veterum testimonia de Didymo Alex. coeco, ex quibus tres libri de Trinitate nuper detecti eidem asseruntur, Rom. 1764. The title of the work itself is: Didymus, De Trinitate libri tres, nunc primum ex Passioneiano codice Gr. editi, Latine conversi, ac notis illustrati a D. Joh. Aloys. Mingarellio, Bononiae 1769, fol.) He wrote also a brief treatise against the Manichaeans. Of his numerous exegetical works we have a commentary on the Catholic Epistles,19781978   The Latin version is found in the libraries of the church fathers. The original Greek has been edited by Dr. Fr. Lücke from Muscovite manuscripts in four academic dissertations: Quaestiones ac vindiciae Didymianae, sive Didymi Alex. enarratio in Epistolas Catholicas Latina, Graeco exemplari magnam partem e Graecis scholiis restituta, Gotting. 1829-’32. Reprinted in Migne’s edition of Opera Didymi, pp. 1731-1818. and large fragments, in part uncertain, of commentaries on the Psalms, Job, Proverbs, and some Pauline Epistles.19791979   In Migne’s ed. p. 1109 sqq.



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