Julius Africanus


January 1, AD 160
January 1, AD 240
Related topics
Bible, Kestoi (Africanus, Sextus Julius), Byzantine literature, Greek literature, Hellenistic, Geoponica,


Sextus Julius Africanus (c.160 – c.240) was a Christian traveller and historian of the late 2nd and early 3rd century AD. He is important chiefly because of his influence on Eusebius, on all the later writers of Church history among the Fathers, and on the whole Greek school of chroniclers.

Suidas claims Julius was an "Libyan philosopher", while Gelzer considers him of Roman descent. Julius called himself a native of Jerusalem – which some scholars consider his birthplace – and lived at the neighbouring Emmaus. His chronicle indicate his familiarity with the topography of historic Palestine.

Little of Julius's life is known and all dates are uncertain. One tradition places him under the Emperor Gordianus III (238–244), others mentions him under Severus Alexander (222–235). He appears to have known Abgar VIII, the Christian King of Edessa (176–213).

Julius may have served under Septimius Severus against the Osrhoenians in 195. He went on an embassy to the emperor Severus Alexander to ask for the restoration of Emmaus, which had fallen into ruins. His mission succeeded, and Emmaus was henceforward known as Nicopolis.

Julius traveled to Greece and Rome and went to Alexandria to study, attracted by the fame of its catechetical school, possibly about the year 215. He knew Greek (in which language he wrote), Latin, and Hebrew. He was at one time a soldier and had been a pagan; he wrote all his works as a Christian.

Whether Julius Africanus was a layman or a cleric remains controversial. Tillemont argued from Julius' addressing the priest Origen as "dear brother" that Julius must have been a priest himself but Gelzer points out that such an argument is inconclusive. Statements calling him a bishop only appear in the fourth century.

Influence of Julius Africanus

Works published by Julius Africanus

Works published about Julius Africanus

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