JOHANNES PHILOPONOS: Greek philosopher, philologist, and theologian of the sixth century. Of his life few details are known, except that he was born at Alexandria and was a pupil of the Aristotelian exegete Ammonius and the grammarian Romanos. He was a man of learning, versatility, and restless energy, but, adhering fully neither to tradition nor to dogma, his fondness for a philosophical treatment of Christian dogma, to which he subscribed in general, frequently placed him in a dubious position. He won disapproval, moreover, by his interpretation of the Trinity in his "Arbitrator," a


dialogue in ten books but now extant only in fragments, since he asserted that hypostasis and nature are the same, so that Christ could have but one nature, unless two hypostases were to be assumed. In the Trinity he postulated three independent hypostases comprised under a unity, which was such merely in virtue of being a generic concept. There was, therefore, no unity in the Trinity except that which presupposed the triad of hypostases and was inferred from their common predicates. The teaching here summarized brought upon Johannes the charge of tritheism, and with some show of reason, although he was not, as Leontius alleged, the founder of tritheism, but merely one of its chief representatives.

The chief work of this author still extant is his De aeternitate mundi (ed. V. Trincavellus, Venice, 1535), assailing Proclus, Aristotle, and Plato, and seeking to explain the creation rationally without the aid of the Bible. In his "On the Resurrection," known only from excerpts in Photius, Nicephorus, and Timotheus, he again made a concession to philosophy by his distinction between a sensuous and supersensuous creation. The second work still preserved is his Commentariorum in Mosaicam mundi creationem libri septem (ed. B. Corder, Vienna, 1630), based on older writers on the hexameron, especially Basil, but enriched with a mass of theories of nature and philosophy developed by the author. Mention should also be made of his Disputatio de paschate, printed together with the foregoing work, in defense of the thesis that on the thirteenth day of the month and on the day before the legal Passover Christ celebrated a mystic meal with his disciples, but did not actually eat a Passover-lamb.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Fabricius-Harles, Bibliotheca Graeca, x. 639 sqq., Hamburg, 1807; F. Trechsel, in TSK, viii (1835), 95-118; J. M. Schönfelder, Die Kirchengeschichte des Johannes von Ephesus, pp. 286-297, Munich. 1892; Byzantinische Zeitschrift, viii (1899), 444 sqq.; Krumbacher, Geschichte, p. 53 et passim; KL, vi. 1748-1754.


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