« Polycarpus, Moyses of Aghel Polychronius, bp. of Apamea Polycrates, bp. of Ephesus »

Polychronius, bp. of Apamea

Polychronius (4), brother of Theodore of Mopsuestia and bp. of Apamea on the Orontes in Syria Secunda. He belonged to a wealthy family of position at Antioch, and the literary character of his remains indicates that his early education was liberal and many-sided. A Polychronius was among the correspondents of Libanius (Epp. 27, 207, 228, etc.), but that he was the same is more than doubtful. That our Polychronius fell more or less directly under the influence of Diodore seems certain. Polychronius was probably younger than Theodore; at any rate his consecration as bp. was some ten years the later. In the see of Apamea he must have followed Agapetus, who succeeded Marcellus a.d. 398 (Theod. H. E. v. 27; Hist. Relig. § 3). He was still bishop when his brother died, a.d. 428 (cf. Theod. H. E. v. 40). But within the next three years he had died or otherwise vacated the see, for in the records of the council of Ephesus Alexander is bp. of Apamea (Mansi, iv. 1235, 1270). Both Le Quien (Oriens Christ. ii. 911) and Gams (Series Episc. p. 436) strangely omit Polychronius from their lists of the bps. of Apamea. The testimony of Theodoret, however, is unequivocal, and is that of the contemporary bishop of a neighbouring see. The city of Apamea was raised by Theodosius II. to metropolitan rank (Joh. Malal. Chronogr. xiv.; Migne, Patr. Gk. xcvii. 543) and the see attained a corresponding dignity. In the history of the church, however, the name of Polychronius occupies a comparatively insignificant place. Our knowledge of him is drawn almost exclusively from the scanty encomiums of Theodoret re-echoed by Cassiodorus and Nicephorus. We must be content to learn that, as bishop, he was characterized by the excellence of his rule, grace of oratory, and conspicuous purity of life (Theod. H. E. v. 40; cf. Cassiod. Hist. Tripart. x. 34; Niceph. xiv. 30).

It has been generally assumed that the bp. of Apamea is identical with the recluse of the same name in Theodoret's Religious History (§ 24). But such evidence as we possess points in an opposite direction.

As a disciple of the school of Antioch, Polychronius would naturally apply himself to Biblical exegesis. No traces occur of any comments by him on N.T., but the catenae teem with scholia upon O.T. bearing his name. The following have been ascribed to him: (1) 852Scholia on the Pentateuch in the catena of Nicephorus. (2) Prologue and fragments of a commentary on job. (3) Scholia on the Proverbs. (4) A MS. exposition of Ecclesiastes, said to be preserved in several European libraries. (5) Scholia on the Canticles. (6) Scholia on Jeremiah. (7) An exposition of Ezekiel, cited by Joannes Damascenus (De Imag. iii.; Migne, Patr. Gk. xciv. 1380, Πολυχρονίου ἐκ τῆς εἰς τὸν Ἰεζεκιὴλ ἑρμηνείας). This work happily survives in an almost complete form, and has been published by Mai (Nov. Patr. Bibl. vii. p. 2, pp. 92 seq.). (8) A commentary on Daniel, quoted in 9th cent. by Nicephorus (Pitra, Spic. Solesm. i. p. 352).

Of these remains the scholia on Proverbs, Canticles, and Jeremiah are of more than doubtful genuineness. Those on Proverbs and Canticles are in some MSS. ascribed to "Polychronius the Deacon," and all these collections are characterized by a partiality for allegorical and mystical interpretations quite alien to the instincts of the Antiochenes.

The style of Polychronius has been described (Bardenhewer, Polychronius, p. 36) as clear and concise, contrasting favourably with the loose and complex manner of his brother Theodore, a criticism which agrees with the verdict of Theodoret (supra). As an expositor Polychronius follows the historico-grammatical method of his school, condemning expressly the Alexandrian tendency to convert history into allegory. "His manner of exposition is scholarly and serious, breathing at the same time an air of deep piety." So Mai, who points out the fulness of historical illustration in his commentary on Daniel. His comments are based (the book of Daniel excepted) on the LXX., but he calls in the aid of Symmachus and Theodotion; and the frequency of his references to the Hebrew, as well as the remarkable fragment on the "obscurity of Scripture" among the extant fragments of his commentary on job, shew some acquaintance with that language. With regard to the canon, Polychronius assumes an independent attitude. Against his brother he stoutly maintains the historical character of the narrative of job, but discriminates between the Heb. Daniel and the Greek additions, refusing to comment upon the Song of the Three Children as not being in the original.

Of his doctrinal standpoint little can be learnt from his published remains. His temper was not controversial, and he has no place in the history of polemical theology—a circumstance which has saved him from the stigma of heterodoxy, but consigned his life and works to comparative obscurity.

[H.B.S.]

« Polycarpus, Moyses of Aghel Polychronius, bp. of Apamea Polycrates, bp. of Ephesus »
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