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Procopius of Gaza

PROCOPIUS OF GAZA: Christian rhetorician; b. in Gaza c. 465; d. there before 528. The school of rhetoric at Gaza was widely celebrated for its teachers, among whom were Æneas (see Æneas of Gaza), and Procopius, "the Christian sophist." Of the latter's life little is known except that he spent it in the town of his birth, refusing calls to Antioch and Tyre. He is known to have carried on an extensive correspondence with contemporaries, and Choricius describes him as modest, unpretentious, and idealistic. His writings are partly rhetorical, partly exegetical. Of his speeches only one is extant—the bombastic encomium of the Emperor Anastasius I., probably written between 512 and 515. The description of the Church of St. Sophia and the lament over the falling of its cupola during an earthquake in 558 are not genuine. On account of the loss of so much of his work the more valuable is the possession of 162 letters, partly recommendations to pupils and others, partly on philosophical or rhetorical themes, which give insight into the ecclesiastical species of sophistics of the period. Among his exegetical works is his commentary in the form of a Catenæ (q.v., §§ 3, 7) on the Octateuch, in which the attempt has been made by Lindl (see bibliography below) to prove that the complete Hexaplar text as it was in the time of Procopius is in existence. It has been shown by Wendland, Klostermann, and Eisenhofer that Procopius drew upon Philo, Origen, Basil of Cæsarea, Gregory of Nyssa, Apollinaris of Laodicea, and Cyril of Alexandria. The commentary on Kings and Chronicles is practically all from Theodoret. For Isaiah and the epitome of the Octateuch, Cyril, Eusebius of Caesarea; and Theodore of Heraclea are the sources. The best preserved is the commentary on the Song of Songs. The commentary on Proverbs is but an epitome by Procopius of his catena. His works, so far as they are preserved, are in MPG, lxxxvii. 1–242; his letters are best found in Epistolographi Græci, ed. R. Hercher, pp. 533–598 (Paris, 1873).

(G. Krüger.)

Bibliography: The funeral oration of Choricius is in Boissonade, Choricii Gazasi Orationes . . . fragmenta, pp. 1–24, Paris, 1840. Consult: L. Eisenhofer, Procopius von Gaza, Freiburg, 1897; T. Zahn, Forschungen zur Geschichte des neutestamentlichen Kanons, ii. 239–250, Leipsic, 1883; P. Wendland, Neuentdeckte Fragments Philos, Berlin, 1891; E. Klostermann, Griechische Exzerpte aus Homilien des Origines, in TU, xii. 3 (1894), 1–12; E. Lindl, Die Oktateuchcatene des Prokop von Gaza, Munich, 1902; Ceillier, Auteurs sacrés, xi. 176–180; DCB, iv. 486–487.

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