« Philostorgius Philoxenus Phocas, Saint »


PHILOXENUS, fî-lex´i-nUs, (XENAIA, AXENAIA): Monophysite bishop of Mabug (Hierapolis); said to have been born at Tahal, a little place in the Persian district of Beth-Garmai, between the Tigris and the mountains of Kurdistan, in the second quarter of the fifth century; d. a violent death at Gangra in Paphlagonia, probably 523. He was probably of Syrian parentage, and not a slave, as was reported by Theodore the Lector; studied at Edessa while Ibas was bishop there (435–457), but was an opponent of Ibas and of Nestorianism. He left Edessa and went to Antioch, where, having accepted the Henoticon (q.v.), he came into conflict with the Patriarch Calandio, who expelled him; but he returned and was by Peter Fullo (458) consecrated metropolitan of Hierapolis (Mabug), when he took the name Philoxenus, sending a confession of his faith to the Emperor Xenos, to refute a charge of Eutychianism (q.v.). For the next thirteen years nothing is heard of him. It is not impossible that this was the period when the writings which made him famous were composed. In May, 498, he was in Edessa, being charged with undue leniency toward drunken carnival rioters. With the accession to office of Flavian in 498 (see Monophysites) Philoxenus came more into publicity as the spokesman of the Monophysites. He was twice at Constantinople, being summoned thither by Anastasius in 506 at the end of the Persian war. He was the animating spirit of the party which assailed Flavian as a Nestorian. At the Synod of Tyre Monophysitism was victorious; but a few years later came the reversal, and under Justin (successor of Anastasius) Philoxenus was banished to Philippopolis (518 or 519), and then to Gangra.

The eminent position and ability of Philoxenus as a writer are conceded. His productions stamp him as a man of virile thought, strong will, and warm heart, while the "strife-seeking rioter" his opponents deemed him disappears in the spiritual curate of souls. Jacob of Edessa (q.v.) regarded him as one of the four great teachers of the Syrian church, Ephraem, Jacob of Sarug, and Isaac of Antioch being the others. He was held in equal estimation by the Armenians, who quoted and used his writings. Numerous manuscripts of his writings exist at Paris, Rome, Oxford, and particularly at the British Museum, but comparatively few have been published. For his work on Bible translation see Bible Versions, A, III., 2. He wrote a partial commentary on the Gospels, and dealt with dogmatic subjects, liturgies, and the like, and a list of eighty writings is given by Budge (see below). Among the printed productions are thirteen addresses on the Christian life, dogmatic treatises on matters dealing with a personal creed; on the Chalcedonian creed; against Nestorius and Nestorianism; letters of theological content. to Abraham and Orestes, priests at Edessa, on the pantheism of Stephen bar Sudaili to the monks at Teleda (between Antioch and Aleppo); circular addresses to monks, with no particular ascription; letters to monks at Beth Gaugal near Amida, and to Emperor Zeno; and two Anaphora, printed in E. Renaudot, Liturgiarum orientalium collectio, ii. 370 (Paris, 1716).

In considering his Christology, it is to be borne in mind that he stood for the same thing as Severus of Antioch (q.v.), with whom he fought shoulder to shoulder, the two being the foremost representatives of Monophysitism, ever energetically opposed to Eutychianism (q.v.) and Apollinarianism (see Apollinaris of Laodicea). 44 His letter to Zeno issued from a desire to purge himself of false suspicion. "He who was complete deity assumed flesh and became true man," he asserts in this letter. While the polemic against Nestorius gradually lost its interest, the effort continued to guard against the consequences of Docetism (q.v.), and appears in the latest of his writings—to the monks of Teleda. In this the avowal of the reality of the manhood of Christ and of his undergoing the experiences of humanity is explicit. Philoxenus emphasized the fact that all which Christ did was done both voluntarily and vicariously. In the last phases of his thought he approached the position of Julian of Halicarnassus (q.v.). Yet it must remain a matter of doubt whether Philoxenus had part in the strife between Julian and Severus, since this broke out while Philoxenus was in banishment in Thrace, though Severus expressly stated that Julian had not only published his book in Alexandria but had distributed it broadcast. Possibly Philoxenus had received it, in whose earlier writings Severus "had found nothing foolish." The letter to the monks of Teleda and a work of unassigned authorship appear to be the only documents which contain an echo of the dispute.

Early issue of some of his works is to be found in S. E. Assemani, Bibliotheca orientalis (Rome, 1719–1728); and M. Le Quien, Oriens Christianus (Paris, 1740). Later issues are: The Discourses of Philoxenus, Bishop of Mabbogh A.D. 486–519, Edited from Syriac Manuscripts . . . with an English Translation by E. A. Wallis Budge, 2 vols. (London, 1894); Three Letters of Philoxenus, Bishop of Mabbogh (485–519): being the Letter to the Monks, the first Letter to the Monks of Beth-Gaugal, and the Letter to the Emperor Zeno . . . with an English Translation, and Introduction, . . by A. A. Vaschalde (Rome, 1902); the Letter of Mar Xenaias of Mabug to Abraham and Orestes, in A. L. Frothingham's Stephen bar Sudaili (Leyden, 1886); and his Tractatus tres de trinitate et incarnatione, ed. A. Vaschalde, in CSCO, vol. xxvii., 1907.

(G. Krüger.)

Bibliography: The early sources are for the most part collected, abstracted, or used in J. S. Assemani, Bibliotheca orientalis, i. 268, 346–358, 475, 479, ii 10, 13, 17, 20. Consult further: W. Wright, Short Hist. of Syriac Literature, pp. 72–76, London, 1894; idem, Catalogue of Syriac MSS. in the British Museum, 3 parts, London, 1870–72; R. Duval, Hist. politique, religieuse et littéraire d’Edesse, Paris, 1892; idem, La Littérature syriaque, ib. 1900; E. Ter-Minassiantz, in TU, xxvi (1904); DCB, iv. 391–393.

« Philostorgius Philoxenus Phocas, Saint »
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