History of the Christian Church, Volume III: Nicene and Post-Nicene Christianity. A.D. 311-600.
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§ 169. Epiphanius.

I. S. Epiphanius: Opera omnia, Gr. et Lat., Dionysius Petavius ex veteribus libris recensuit, Latine vertit et animadversionibus illustravit. Paris, 1622, 2 vols. fol. The same edition reprinted with additions at Cologne (or rather at Leipsic), 1682, and by J. P. Migne Petit-Montrouge, 1858, in 3 vols. (tom. xli.-xliii. of Migne’s Patrologia Graeca). The Πανάριονor Panaria of Epiphanius, together with his Anacephalaeosis, with the Latin version of both by Petavius, has also been separately edited by Fr. Oehler, as tom. ii. and iii. of his Corpus haereseologicum, Berol. 1859–’61. (Part second of tom. iii. contains the Animadversiones of Petavius, and A. Jahn’s Symbolae ad emendanda et illustranda S. Epiphanii Panaria.)

II. Hieronymus: De viris illustr. c. 114, and in several of his Epistles relating to the Origenistic controversies, Epp. 66 sqq. ed. Vallarsi. Socrates: Hist. Eccl. l. vi. c. 10–14. Sozomen: H. E. viii. 11–15. Old biographies, full of fables, see in Migne’s edition, tom. i., and in Petav. ii. 318 sqq. The Vita Epiph. in the Acta Sanctorum for May, tom. iii. die 12, pp. 36–49 (also reprinted in Migne’s ed. tom. i.). Tillemont: Mémoires, tom. x. pp. 484–521, and the notes, pp. 802–809. Fr. Arm. Gervaise: L’histoire et la vie De saint Epiphane. Par. 1738. Fabricius: Biblioth. Graeca ed. Harless, tom. viii. p. 255 sqq. (also reprinted in Migne’s ed. of Epiph. i. 1 sqq.). W. Cave: Lives of the Fathers, iii. 207–236 (new Oxf. ed.). Schröckh: Th. x. 3 ff. R. Adelb. Lipsius: Zur Quellenkritik des Epiphanies. Wien, 1865. (A critical analysis of the older history of heresies, in Epiph. haer. 13–57, with special reference to the Gnostic systems.)

Epiphanius,19861986   There are several prominent ecclesiastical writers of that name. Compare a list of them in Fabricius, l. c. who achieved his great fame mainly by his learned and intolerant zeal for orthodoxy, was born near Eleutheropolis in Palestine, between 310 and 320, and died at sea, at a very advanced age, on his way back from Constantinople to Cyprus, in 403. According to an uncertain, though not improbable tradition, he was the son of poor Jewish parents, and was educated by a rich Jewish lawyer, until in his sixteenth year he embraced the Christian religion,19871987   See the biography of his pupil John, ch. 2, in Migne’s ed. i. 25 sqq. Cave accepts this story, and it receives some support from the Palestine origin of Epiphanius, and from his knowledge of the Hebrew language, which was then so rare that Jeromewas the only father besides Epiphanius who possessed it.—the first example, after St. Paul, of a learned Jewish convert and the only example among the ancient fathers; for all the other fathers were either born of Christian parents, or converted from heathenism.

He spent several years in severe ascetic exercises among the hermits of Egypt, and then became abbot of a convent near Eleutheropolis. In connection with his teacher and friend Hilarion he labored zealously for the spread of monasticism in Palestine.19881988   He composed a eulogy on Hilarion, which, with some others of his works, is lost

In the year 367 he was unanimously elected by the people and the monks bishop of Salamis (Constantia), the capital of the island of Cyprus. Here he wrote his works against the heretics, and took active part in the doctrinal controversies of his age. He made it his principal business to destroy the influence of the arch-heretic Origen, for whom he had contracted a thorough hatred from the anchorites of Egypt. On this mission he travelled in his old age to Palestine and Constantinople, and died in the same year in which Chrysostom was deposed and banished, an innocent sacrifice on the opposite side in the violent Origenistic controversies.19891989   Comp. above, §§ 133 and 134.

Epiphanius was revered even by his cotemporaries as a saint and as a patriarch of orthodoxy. Once as he passed through the streets of Jerusalem in company with bishop John, mothers brought their children to him that he might bless them, and the people crowded around him to kiss his feet and to touch the hem of his garment. After his death his name was surrounded by a halo of miraculous legends. He was a man of earnest, monastic piety, and of sincere but illiberal zeal for orthodoxy. His good nature easily allowed him to be used as an instrument for the passions of others, and his zeal was not according to knowledge. He is the patriarch of heresy-hunters. He identified Christianity with monastic piety and ecclesiastical orthodoxy and considered it the great mission of his life to pursue the thousand-headed hydra of heresy into all its hiding places. Occasionally, however, his fiery zeal consumed what was subsequently considered an essential part of piety and orthodoxy. Sharing the primitive Christian abhorrence of images, he destroyed a picture of Christ or some saint in a village church in Palestine; and at times he violated ecclesiastical order.

The learning of Epiphanius was extensive, but ill digested. He understood five languages: Hebrew, Syriac, Egyptian, Greek, and a little Latin. Jerome, who himself knew but three languages, though he knew these far better than Epiphanius, called him the Five-tongued,19901990   Πεντάγλωττος. and Rufinus reproachfully says of him that he considered it his sacred duty as a wandering preacher to slander the great Origen in all languages and nations.19911991   Hieron. Apol. adv. Rufinum, l. iii. c. 6 (Opera, tom. ii. 537, ed. Vall.) and l. ii. 21 and 22 (tom. ii. 515). Jeromesays that “papa” Epiphanius had read the six thousand [?] books of Origen, and in his apology against Rufinus and in his letters he speaks of him with great respect as a confederate in the war upon Origen. He acknowledges, however, that his statements need an accurate and careful verification. In his Liber de viris illustribus, cap. 114, he disposes of him very summarily with two sentences: “Epiphanius, Cypri Salaminae episcopus, scripsit adversus omnes haereses libros, et multa alia, quae ab eruditus propter res, a simplicioribus propter verba lectitantur. Superest usque hodie, et in extrema jam senectute varia cudit opera.” He was lacking in knowledge of the world and of men, in sound judgment, and in critical discernment. He was possessed of a boundless credulity, now almost proverbial, causing innumerable errors and contradictions in his writings. His style is entirely destitute of beauty or elegance.

Still his works are of considerable value as a storehouse of the history of ancient heresies and of patristic polemics. They are the following:

1. The Anchor,19921992   ̓Αγκυρωτός, Ancoratus, or Ancora fidei catholicae in tom, ii of Petavius; tom. iii. 11-236 of Migne. a defence of Christian doctrine, especially of the doctrines of the Trinity, the incarnation, and the resurrection; in one hundred and twenty-one chapters. He composed this treatise a.d. 373, at the entreaty of clergymen and monks, as a stay for those who are tossed about upon the sea by heretics and devils. In it he gives two creeds, a shorter and a longer, which show that the addition made by the second ecumenical council to the Nicene symbol, in respect to the doctrine of the Holy Ghost and of the church, had already been several years in use in the church.19931993   Anc. n. 119 and 120 (tom. iii. 23 sqq. ed. Migne). For the shorter symbol, which, according to Epiphanius, had to be said at baptism by every orthodox catechumen in the East, from the council of Nicaea to the tenth year of Valentinian and Valens (a.d. 373), is precisely the same as the Constantinopolitan; and the longer is even more specific against Apollinarianism and Macedonianism, in the article concerning the Holy Ghost. Both contain the anathemas of the Nicene Creed; the longer giving them in an extended form.

2. The Panarium, or Medicine-chest,19941994   Πανάριον, Panarium (Panaria), sive Arcula, or Adversus lxxx. haereses (Petavius, tom. i. f. 1-1108; Migne, tom. i. 173-1200, and tom. ii. 10-832). Epiphanius himself names it πανάριον, εἴτ ̓ οὖν κιβώτιον ἰατρικὸν καὶ θηριοδηκτικόν, Panarium, sive Arculam Medicam ad eorum qui a serpentibus icti sunt remedium (Epist. ad Acacium et Paulum, in Oehler’s ed. i. p. 7). which contains antidotes for the poison of all heresies. This is his chief work, composed between the years 374 and 377, in answer to solicitations from many quarters. And it is the chief hereseological work of the ancient church. It is more extensive than any of the similar works of Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and Hippolytus before it, and of Philastrius (or Philastrus), Augustine, Theodoret, pseudo-Tertullian, pseudo-Jerome, and the author of Praedestinatus, after it.19951995   Compare the convenient collection of the Latin writers De haeresibus, viz.: Philastrius, Augustine, the author of Praedestinatus (the first book), pseudo-Tertullian, pseudo-Jerome, Isdortis Hispalensis, and Gennadius (De ecclesiasticis dogmatibus), in the first volume of Franz Oehler’s Corpus haereseologicum, Berolini, 1856. This collection is intended to embrace eight volumes. Tom. ii. and iii. contain the anti-heretical works of Epiphanius; the remaining volumes are intended for Theodoret, pseudo-Origen, John of Damascus, Leontius, Timotheus, Irenaeus, and Nicetae Choniatae Thesaurus orthodoxae fidei. Epiphanius brought together, with the diligence of an unwearied compiler, but without logical or chronological arrangement, everything he could learn from written or oral sources concerning heretics from the beginning of the world down to his time. But his main concern is the antidote to heresy, the doctrinal refutations, in which he believed himself to be doing God and the church great service, and which, with all their narrowness and passion, contain many good thoughts and solid arguments. He improperly extends the conception of heresy over the field of all religion; whereas heresy is simply a perversion or caricature of Christian truth, and lives only upon the Christian religion. He describes and refutes no less than eighty heresies,19961996   Perhaps with a mystic reference to the eighty concubines in the Song of Songs, vi. 8: “Sexaginta sunt reginae et octoginta concubinae, et adolescentularum non est numerus. Una est columba mea, perfecta mea.” (Vulgate.) twenty of them preceding the time of Christ.19971997   Pseudo-Tertullian(in Libellus adversus omnes haereses), Philastrus, and pseudo-Hieronymus (Indiculus de haeresibus) likewise include the Jewish sects among the heresies; while Irenaeus, Augustine, Theodoret, and the unknown author of the Semi-Pelagian work Praedestinatus more correctly begin with the Christian sects. For further particulars, see the comparative tables of Lipsius, l.c. p. 4 ff. The pre-Christian heresies are: Barbarism, from Adam to the flood; Scythism; Hellenism (idolatry proper, with various schools of philosophy); Samaritanism (including four different sects); and Judaism (subdivided into seven parties: Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes, Hemerobaptists, Osseans, Nazarenes, and Herodians).19981998   Epiphanius in his shorter work, the Anacephalaeosis, deviates somewhat from the order in the Panarion. His twenty heresies before Christ are as follows:
   Order in the Panarion:

   1. Barbarismus,

   2. Scythismus,

   3. Hellenismus,

   4. Judaismus,


   5. Stoici,

   6. Platonici,

   7. Pythagorei,

   8. Epicurei,


   9. Samaritae,

   10. Esseni,

   11. Sebuaei,

   12. Gortheni,

   13. Dosithei,


   14. Saducaei,

   15. Scribae,

   16. Pharisaei,

   17. Hemerobaptistae

   18. Nazaraei,

   19. Osseni or Ossaei,

   20. Herodiani


   Order in the Anacephalaeosis:

   1. Barbarismus,

   2. Scythismus,

   3. Hellenismus,

   4. Judaismus.

   5. Samaritismus,


   6. Pythagorei,

   7. Platonici,

   8. Stoici,

   9. Epicurei,


   10. Gortheni,

   11. Sebuaei,

   12. Esseni,

   13. Dosithei,


   14. Scribae,

   15. Pharisaei,

   16. Sadducaei,

   17. Hemerobaptistae,

   18. Ossaei,

   19. Nazaraei,

   20. Herodiani

Among the Christian heresies, of which Simon Magus, according to ancient tradition, figures as patriarch, the different schools of Gnosticism (which may be easily reduced to about a dozen) occupy the principal space. With the sixty-fourth heresy Epiphanius begins the war upon the Origenists, Arians, Photinians, Marcellians, Semi-Arians, Pneumatomachians, Antidikomarianites, and other heretics of his age. In the earlier heresies he made large use, without proper acknowledgment, of the well-known works of Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and Hippolytus, and other written sources and oral traditions. In the latter sections he could draw more on his own observation and experience.

3. The Anacephalaeosis is simply an abridgment of the Panarion, with a somewhat different order.19991999   ̓Ανακεφαλαίωσις, or Epitome Panarii (tom. ii. 126, ed. Patav.; tom. ii. 834-886, ed. Migne).

This is the proper place to add a few words upon similar works of the post-Nicene age.

About the same time, or shortly after Epiphanius (380), Philastrius or Philastrus, bishop of Brixia (Brescia), wrote his Liber de haeresibus (in 156 chapters).20002000   Edited by J. A. Fabricius, Hamburg, 1728; by Gallandi, Bibliotheca, tom. vii. pp. 475-521; and by Oehler in tom. i. of his Corpus haereseolog. pp. 5-185. The close affinity of Philastrus with Epiphanius is usually accounted for on the ground of the dependence of the former on the latter. This seems to have been the opinion of Augustine, Epistola 222 ad Quodvultdeum. But Lipsius (l.c. p. 29 ff.) derives both from a common older source, viz., the work of Hippolytus against thirty-two heresies and explains the offence of Epiphanius (who mentions Hippolytus only once) by the unscrupulousuess of the authorship of the age, which had no hesitation in decking itself with borrowed plumes. He was still more liberal with the name of heresy, extending it to one hundred and fifty-six systems, twenty-eight before Christ, and a hundred and twenty-eight after. He includes peculiar opinions on all sorts of subjects: Haeresis de stellis coelo affixis, haeresis de peccato Cain, haeresis de Psalterii inequalitate, haeresis de animalibus quatuor in prophetis, haeresis de Septuaginta interpretibus, haeresis de Melchisedech sacerdote, haeresis de uxoribus, et concubinis Salomonis!

He was followed by St. Augustine, who in the last years of his life wrote a brief compend on eighty-eight heresies, commencing with the Simonians and ending with the Pelagians.20012001   Liber de haeresibus, addressed to Quodvultdeus, a deacon who had requested him to write such a work. Augustine, in his letter of reply to Quodvultdeus (Ep. 222 in the Bened. edition) alludes to the work of Philastrus, whom he had seen with Ambrosein Milan, and to that of Epiphanius, and calls the latter “longe Philastrio doctiorem.” The work of Augustineis also embodied in Oehler’s Corpus haereseol. tom. i. pp. 189-225. The following is a complete list of the heresies of Augustineas given by him at the close of the preface: 1. Simoniani; 2. Menandriani; 3. Saturniniani; 4. Basilidiani; 5. Nicolaitae; 6. Gnostici; 7. Carpocratiani; 8. Cerinthiani, vel Merinthiani; 9. Nazaraei; 10. Hebio-naei; 11. Valentiniani; 12. Secundiani; 13. Ptolemaei; 14. Marcitae; 15. Colorbasii; 16. Heracleonitae; 17. Ophitae; 18. Caiani; 19. Sethiani; 20. Archontici; 21. Cerdoniani; 22. Marcionitae; 23. Apellitae; 24. Se-veriani; 25. Tatiani, vel Encratitae; 26. Cataphryges; 27. Pepuziani, alias Quintilliani; 28. Artotyritae; 29. Tessarescaedecatitae; 30. Alegi; 31. Adamiani; 32. Elcesaei et Sampsaei; 33. Theodotiani; 34. Mel-chisedechiani; 35. Bardesanistae; 36. Noëtiani; 37. Valesii; 38. Ca-thari, sive Novatiani; 39. Angelici; 40. Apostolici; 41. Sabelliani; 42. Ori-geniani; 43. Alii Origeniani; 44. Pauliani; 45. Photiniani; 46. Manichaei; 47. Hieracitae; 48. Meletiani; 49. Ariani; 50. Vadiani, sive Anthropo-morphitae; 51. Semiariani; 52. Macedoniani; 53. Aëriani; 54. Aëtiani, qui et Eunomiani; 55. Apollinaristae; 56. Antidicomarianitae; 57. Mas-saliani, sive Euchitae; 58. Metangismonitae; 59. Seleuciani, vel Her-miani; 60. Proclianitae; 61. Patriciani; 62. Ascitae; 63. Passaloryn-chitae; 64. Aquarii; 65. Coluthiani; 66. Floriniani; 67. De mundi statu dissentientes; 68. Nudis pedibus ambulantes; 69. Donatistae, sive Do-natiani; 70. Priscillianistae; 71. Cum hominibus non manducantes; 72. Rhetoriani; 73. Christi divinitatem passibilem dicentes; 74. Triformem deum putantes; 75. Aquam Deo coaeternam dicentes; 76. Imaginem Dei non esse animam dicentes; 77. Innumerabiles mundos opinantes; 78. Animas converti in daemones et in quaecunque animalia existi-mantes; 79. Liberationem omnium apud inferos factam Christi descen-sione credentes; 80. Christi de Patre nativitati initium temporis dantes; 81. Luciferiani; 82. Iovinianistae; 83. Arabici; 84. Helvidiani; 85. Pater-niani, sive Venustiani; 86. Tertullianistae; 87. Abeloitae; 88. Pelagiani, qui et Caelestiani.

The unknown author of the book called Praedestinatus added two more heretical parties, the Nestorians and the Predestinarians, to Augustine’s list; but the Predestinarians are probably a mere invention of the writer for the purpose of caricaturing and exposing the heresy of an absolute predestination to good and to evil.20022002   Corpus haereseol. i. 229-268. Comp. above, § 159.

4. In addition to those anti-heretical works, we have from Epiphanius a biblical archeological treatise on the Measures and Weights of the Scriptures,20032003   Περὶ μέτρων καὶ σταθμῶν, De ponderibus et mensuris, written in 392. (Tom. ii. 158, ed. Petav.; tom. iii. 237, ed. Migne.) and another on the Twelve Gems on the breastplate of Aaron, with an allegorical interpretation of their names.20042004   Περὶ τῶν δώδεκα λίθων, De xii. gemmis in veste Aaronis. (Tom. ii. 233, ed. Pet; iii. 293, ed. Migne.)

A Commentary of Epiphanius on the Song of Songs was published in a Latin translation by Foggini in 1750 at Rome. Other works ascribed to him are lost, or of doubtful origin.

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