Saint Victorinus of Pettau or of Poetovio (died 303 or 304) was a Catholic ecclesiastical writer who flourished about 270, and who was martyred during the persecutions of Emperor Diocletian. A Bishop of Poetovio (modern Ptuj in Slovenia; German: Pettau) in Pannonia, Victorinus is also known as Victorinus Petavionensis, Poetovionensis or Victorinus of Ptuj.
Born probably in Greece on the confines of the Eastern and Western Empires or in Poetovio with rather mixed population, due to its military character, Victorinus spoke Greek better than Latin, which explains why, in St. Jerome's opinion, his works written in the latter tongue were more remarkable for their matter than for their style. He was the first theologian to use Latin for his exegesis. He is one of the earliest church fathers to give any indication against Chiliasm, though he still respects the gathering of the church to Judea. Moreover, his remarks on the twentieth chapter of the Apocalypse stand in contradiction to his commentary on the seventh millennium given in his work On the Creation of the World, possibly indicating a redaction in his Commentary on the Apocalypse, or a change of opinion.
His works were ranked with the apocrypha in the decree, later attributed to Pope Gelasius I, which excluded and anathematized them with that of many other early fathers. That is to say they were not considered free of error. By contrast, St. Jerome gives him an honourable place in his catalogue of ecclesiastical writers. Victorinus composed commentaries on various books of Holy Scripture, such as Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Habakkuk, Ecclesiastes, the Canticle of Canticles, St. Matthew, and the Apocalypse, besides treatises against the heresies of his time.
All his works have disappeared save his Commentary on Apocalypse and short tract On the construction of the world ('De fabrica mundi). It is agreed among scholars, that these texts are really a remnant of his works. The Migne edition, in Patrologia Latina V (1844) 301-344, is considered no more reliable, since the discovery of an important codex by Haussleiter (edition in CSEL 49, 1916), the reference however is to be taken rather from the new critical edition by M. Dulaey in SCh 421 (1997). It is incorrect to regard him as the author of two poems,De Jesu Christo and De Pascha, which are included in the collection of Fabricius.
Works by Victorinus
Originally printed in 1885, the ten-volume set, Ante-Nicene Fathers, brings together the work of early Christian thinkers. In particular, it brings together the writings of the early Church fathers prior to the fourth century Nicene Creed. These volumes are noteworthy for their inclusion of entire texts, and not simply fragments or excerpts from these great writings. The translations are fairly literal, providing both readers and scholars with a good approximation of the originals. This volume has Church fathers from both the third and fourth century. These writings were heavily influential on the early Church, and for good reason, as they are inspirational and encouraging. These volumes also come with many useful notes, providing the reader with new levels of understanding. Overall, Ante-Nicene Fathers, or any part of it, is a welcome addition to one's reading list.
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