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Chapter X.—Epiphanius Bishop of Cyprus convenes a Synod to condemn the Books of Origen.

He moreover renewed his friendship with Epiphanius862862    There were thirty-five bishops, besides several presbyters and laymen of some distinction in the ancient church, who bore the name of Epiphanius. The bishop here mentioned is the most illustrious of them all, being the author of the well-known treatise de Hæres. His see—that of Constantia in Cyprus—was the old ‘Salamis’ of Acts xiii. 5. bishop of Constantia in Cyprus, with whom he had formerly been at variance. For Theophilus accused Epiphanius of entertaining low thoughts of God, by supposing him to have a human form.863863    It seems strange that Epiphanius should be classed with the Anthropomorphitæ as Epiphanius himself repudiates their views according to the testimony of Jerome. Cf. Jerome, ad Pammachium, 2 et seq. Socrates must have been imposed upon by some Origenist, as the Origenists were accustomed to call all who condemned their views Anthropomorphitæ. Cf. above, chap. 7. Now although Theophilus was really unchanged in sentiment, and had denounced those who thought that the divinity was human in form, yet on account of his hatred of others, he openly denied his own convictions; and he now professed to be friendly with Epiphanius, as if he had altered his mind and agreed with him in his views of God. He then managed it so that Epiphanius by letter should convene a Synod of the bishops in Cyprus, in order to condemn the writings of Origen. Epiphanius being on account of his extraordinary piety a man of simple mind and manners was easily influenced by the letters of Theophilus: having therefore assembled a council of bishops in that island, he caused a prohibition to be therein made of the reading of Origen’s works. He also wrote to John, exhorting him to abstain from the study of Origen’s books, and to convoke a Synod for decreeing the same thing as he had done. Accordingly when Theophilus had in this way deluded Epiphanius, who was famous for his piety, seeing his design prosper according to his wish, he became more confident, and himself also assembled a great number of bishops. In that convention, pursuing the same course as Epiphanius, he caused a like sentence of condemnation to be pronounced on the writings of Origen, who had been dead nearly two hundred years: not having this as his first object, but rather his purpose of revenge on Dioscorus and his brethren. John paying but little attention to the communications of Epiphanius and Theophilus, was intent on instructing the churches; and he flourished more and more as a preacher, but made no account of the plots which were laid against him. As soon, however, as it became apparent to every body that Theophilus was endeavoring to divest John of his bishopric, then all those who had any ill-will against John, combined in calumniating him. And thus many of the clergy, and many of those in office, and of those who had great influence at the court, believing that they had found an opportunity now of avenging themselves upon John, exerted themselves to procure the convocation of a Grand Synod at Constantinople, partly by sending letters and partly by dispatching messengers in all directions for that purpose.


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