« Trophimus, 1st bishop of Arles Ulfilas Urbanus, bishop of Rome »


Ulfilas (Urphilas in Philostorgius), the apostle of the Goths in the 4th cent. His career is involved in much obscurity. The 5th-cent. church historians were our only source until Waitz, in 1840, discovered a MS. of the Louvre, containing an independent account, written by one of Ulfilas's own pupils, Auxentius, Arian bp. of Silistria, who is thus an original witness. This MS. gives details which shed light on the obscurity. >From these two sources we learn that he was born early in 4th cent., probably in 311. He was consecrated bishop when 30 years of age, possibly by Eusebius of Nicomedia, at the council of the Dedication, held at Antioch 341. In 380 he went to Constantinople, and died there the same year or early in 381. The circumstances of his life raise the question of the origin of Gothic Christianity. Philostorgius tells us that, under Valerian and Gallienus in the second half of cent. iii., the Goths from N. of the Danube invaded the Roman territory, laid waste the province of Moesia as far as the Black Sea, crossed into Asia and ravaged Cappadocia and Galatia, whence they took a vast number of captives, including many Christian ecclesiastics. "These pious captives, by their intercourse with the barbarians, brought over large numbers to the true faith, and persuaded them to embrace the Christian religion in place of heathen superstitions. Of the number of these captives were the ancestors of Urphilas himself, who were of Cappadocian descent, deriving their origin from a village called Sadagolthina, near the city of Parnassus" (Philost. H. E. ii. 5). The Goths carried back these Christian captives into Dacia, where they were settled, and where considerable numbers embraced Christianity through their instrumentality. Ulfilas, the child of one of these Christian captives, was trained in Christian principles. Socrates asserts that he was a disciple of a bishop, Theophilus, who was present at Nicaea and subscribed its creed. He was at first a reader in the church. The king of the Goths then sent him to Constantinople as ambassador to the emperor, c. 340, when he was consecrated bishop. He returned to Dacia, laboured there for 7 years, and then migrated into Moesia, driven from his original home by a persecution, probably between 347 and 350. About that period he produced his great literary work, inventing the Gothic character and translating "all the books of Scripture with the exception of the Books of Kings, which he omitted because they are a mere narrative of military exploits, and the Gothic tribes, being especially fond of war, were in more need of restraints to check their military passions than of spurs to urge them on to deeds of war" (Philost. l.c.). We next hear of him as present at the synod of Constantinople a.d. 360, when the Acacian party triumphed and issued a creed taking a middle view between those of the orthodox and Arian parties. This was the creed of the Homoean sect, headed by Acacius in the East and Ursacius and Valens in the West. It is important to note its exact words, as it defines the position of Ulfilas. The material part 994runs thus: "We do not despise the Antiochian formula of the synod in Encoeniis, but because the terms Ὁμοούσιος and Ὁμοιουύιος occasion much confusion, and because some have recently set up the ἀνόμοιος, we therefore reject ὁμοούσιος and ὁμοιούσιος as contrary to the Holy Scriptures; the ἀνόμοιος, however, we anathematize, and acknowledge that the Son is similar to the Father in accordance with the words of the apostle, who calls Him the image of the invisible God. We believe in our Lord Jesus Christ, His Son, Who was begotten by Him before all ages without change, the only-begotten God, Logos from God, Light, Life, Truth, and Wisdom. . . . And whoever declares anything else outside this faith has no part in the Catholic church" (see Hefele, ii. 265, Clark's ed.; and Gwatkin's Studies of Arianism, pp. 180-182). The subsequent history of Ulfilas is involved in much obscurity. Sozomen (vi. 37) intimates that Ulfilas and his converts suffered much at the hands of Athanaric, a lively picture of whose persecution, a.d. 372–375, will be found in the Acts of St. Sabas (Ruinart's Acta Sincera, p. 670) and of St. Nicetas, Sept. 15 (cf. AA. SS. Boll. Sept.), both of which documents are full of most interesting details concerning the life and manners of the Goths. Mr. C. A. Scott, of Cambridge, published an interesting and full monograph on Ulfilas, in which he discusses his history and that of Gothic Christianity during this period. Arianism seems to have specially flourished during the first half of cent. iv. in the provinces along the Danube. Valens and Ursacius, who lived there, were the leaders of Western Arianism, and Sulpicius Severus expressly asserts (Chron. ii. 38) that almost all the bishops of the two Pannonias were Arians. This would sufficiently account for the Arianism of the Goths who were just then accepting Christianity. The literary fame of Ulfilas is connected with his Gothic translation of the Bible, the one great monument of that language now extant. It does not exist in a complete shape. The fragments extant are contained in (1) the Codex Argenteus, now at Upsala; (2) the Codex Carolinus; and (3) the Ambrosian fragments published by Mai. A complete bibliography of these fragments, as known till 1840, will be found in Ceillier (iv. 346), and a complete ed. in Migne (Patr. Lat. t. xviii.) with a Life, Gothic grammar, and glossaries. Scott (Ulfilas, the Apostle of the Goths, 1885) gathered together the literature after 1840, and gave a long account of the MS. of Waitz. He also discussed (p. 137) some fragments attributed to Ulfilas. The best German works on the life of Ulfilas are those of Waitz (1840), Krafft (1860), and Bessel (1860). Works on the Gothic Bible are by E. Bernhardt (Halle, 1875), and Stamm (Paderborn, 1878); Bosworth's Gothic and Anglo-Saxon Gospels (1874); Skeat, Gospel of St. Mark in Gothic (Oxf. 1883); An Introduction, Phonological, Morphological, Syntactic, to the Gothic of Ulfilas, by T. Le Marchant Douse (1886). The chief ancient sources for the life of Ulfilas are Philostorgius, H. E. ii. 5 ; Socr. ii. 41, iv. 33; Soz. vi. 37; Theod. iv. 37.


« Trophimus, 1st bishop of Arles Ulfilas Urbanus, bishop of Rome »
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