JULIUS AFRICANUS, SEXTUS: One of the most learned ecclesiastical writers of the third century; b. probably about 160 in Africa., perhaps in Libya; d. probably soon after 240. In early life he may have been an officer, but after the expedition of Septimius Severus against Osrhoene (195) he settled at Emmaus (Nicopolis) in Palestine. About 215 he spent. some time in Alexandria studying under Heraclas, and later, in the reign of Eágabalus or Alexander Severus, went to Rome on behalf of his fellow citizens. He published his "Chronography" in the fourth year of Elágabalus, and his heterogeneous work entitled Kestoi ("Embroiderings") under Alexander, to whom it was dedicated. His extant letter to Origen, whom he calls "son," was written in his old age. That he was ordained in later life is doubtful. He is one of the few ancient Greek Fathers who were in relation with Rome, and this was an advantage to his "Chronography." Divided into five books, and beginning with an apologetic purpose, it develops a scientific aim and shows a good knowledge of earlier pagan and Jewish sources. The whole work was practically incorporated into the chronographies of later writers, especially Eusebius, and deserves to be considered not only as the basis of Christian chronography, but as relatively better executed than the attempts of Julius' successors. Critical study of the Kestoi has made so little progress that it is scarcely worth while to summarize its conclusions. It appears to have been intended as a sort of encyclopedia of the material sciences with the cognate mathematical and technical branches, but to have contained a large proportion of merely curious, trifling, or miraculous matters, on which account the authorship of Julius has been questioned. Among the parts published are sections on agriculture, liturgiology, tactics, and medicine (including veterinary practise). The two letters, that to Aristides on the genealogies of Christ, of which only fragments are preserved, and that to Origen on the story of Susanna, are admirable bits of critical historical work.
Incomplete collections of the fragments are
in A. Gallandi, Bibliotheca veterum patrum, ii. 337-376,
14 vols., Venice, 1765-81, and in M. J. Routh, Reliquiae
sacrae, vol. ii., 5 vols., Oxford, 1846-48. The best ed. of
the "Chronography" is in Gelzer, see below; for the
Keatoi consult Veterum mathematicorum opera, ed. M.
Thevenot and J. Boivin, Paris, 1693; and for the Letter
to Aristides, F. Spitta, Der Brief des Julius Africanus an
Aristides, Halle, 1877. An Eng. transl. of the fragments
is in ANF, vi. 123 sqq.; and a list of literature is given
in ANF, Bibliography, pp. 68-69. Consult: Jerome, De
vir. ill., lxii.; H. Geiser, Sextus Julius Africanus und die
byzantinische Chronographie, 2 vols., Leipsic, 1880-98;
Schaff, Christian Church, iii. 803-805; Krüger, History,
pp. 248-253; Harnack, Litteratur, i. 507-513, ii. 1, pp.
124 sqq., ii. part ii., passim; DCB, i. 53-57.
Calvin College. Last modified on 10/03/03. Contact the CCEL.