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Chapter XLVI.—Death of Paul Bishop of the Novatians, and Election of Marcian as his Successor.

A little while after the removal of John’s body, Paul bishop of the Novatians died, on the 21st of July, under the same consulate:10371037    As above, 438 a.d. who at his own funeral united, in a certain sense, all the different sects into one church. For all parties attended his body to the tomb, chanting psalms together, inasmuch as even during his lifetime by his rectitude he was in universal esteem by all. But as Paul just before his death performed a memorable act, I deem it advantageous to insert it in this history as it may be interesting to the readers of this work to be acquainted with it. And lest the brilliancy of that important deed should be obscured by dwelling on circumstantial details of minor consequence, I shall not stay to expatiate on the strictness with which he maintained his ascetic discipline as to diet even throughout his illness, without the least departure from the course he had prescribed for himself, or the omission of any of the ordinary exercises of devotion with his accustomed fervor. But what was this deed? Conscious that his departure was at hand, he sent for all the presbyters of the churches under his care, and thus addressed them: ‘Give your attention while I am alive to the election of a bishop to preside over you, lest the peace of your churches should hereafter be disturbed.’ They having answered that this affair had better not be left to them: ‘For inasmuch,’ said they, ‘as some of us have one judgment about the matter, and some another, we would by no means nominate the same individual. We wish therefore that you would yourself designate the person you would desire to succeed you.’ ‘Give me then,’ said Paul, ‘this declaration of yours in writing, that you will elect him whom I should appoint.’ When they had written this pledge, and ratified it by their signatures, Paul, rising in his bed and sitting up, wrote the name of Marcian in the paper, without informing any of those present what he had inserted. This person had been promoted to the rank of presbyter, and instructed in the ascetic discipline by him, but was then gone abroad. Having folded this document and put his own seal on it, he caused the principal presbyters to seal it also; after which he delivered it into the hands of Marcus 178a bishop of the Novatians in Scythia, who was at that time staying at Constantinople, to whom he thus spake, ‘If it shall please God that I should continue much longer in this life, restore me this deposit, now entrusted to your safe keeping. But should it seem fit to him to remove me, you will herein discover whom I have chosen as my successor in the bishopric.’ Soon after this he died; and on the third day after his death, the paper having been unfolded in the presence of a great number of persons, Marcian’s name was found within it, when they all cried out that he was worthy of the honor. Messengers were therefore sent off without delay to bring him to Constantinople. These, by a pious fraud, finding him residing at Tiberiopolis in Phrygia, brought him back with them; whereupon he was ordained and placed in the episcopal chair on the 21st of the same month.10381038    This seems hardly probable when compared with the opening sentence of the chapter, and so Valesius with Christophorson and others change it into August. The emendation suggested in the Greek is not a difficult one; it simply adds between αὐ- and τοῦ of the word αὐτοῦ (above translated ‘the same’), the syllable γουσ- making it thus, αὐγούστου μηνός, ‘month of August.’ The emendation, or something equivalent to it, must be accepted, otherwise we are compelled to place the death of Paul and the ordination of Marcian together with the intervening events on the same day.


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