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Epiphanius

Ἐπιφάνιος). A bishop of Salamis in Cyprus, in the fourth century. He was born of Jewish parents, near Eleutheropolis, in Palestine, about A.D. 320, and appears to have been educated in Egypt, where he imbibed the principles of the Gnostics. At length he left them, and, becoming an ascetic, returned to Palestine and adopted the discipline of St. Hilarion, the founder of monachism in that country. Epiphanius erected a monastery near the place of his birth, over which he presided till he was made bishop of Salamis in 367. Here he remained about thirty-six years, and composed most of his writings. In 391 he commenced a controversy with John, bishop of Jerusalem, relative to the Platonic doctrines of the learned and laborious Origen, against which he wrote and preached with implacable bitterness. John favoured Origen's views, but Epiphanius found in Theophilus, the violent bishop of Alexandria, a worthy coadjutor, who, in 399, convened a council and condemned all the works of Origen. Epiphanius himself then called a council in Cyprus, A.D. 401, and reiterated this condemnation. Afterwards, he embroiled himself with the empress Eudoxia; for on the occasion of her asking him to pray for the young Theodosius, who was dangerously ill, he replied that her son should live provided she would disavow the defenders of Origen. To this presumptuous message the empress indignantly answered that her son's life was not in the power of Epiphanius, whose prayers were unable to save that of his own archdeacon who had recently died. After thus vainly endeavouring to gratify his sectarian animosity, he resolved to return to Cyprus; but he died at sea on the passage, A.D. 403. The principal works of Epiphanius are:


1.

Πανάριον, or a Treatise on Heresies—that is, peculiar sects (αἱρέσεις). This is the most important of his writings and treats of eighty sects, from the time of Adam to the latter part of the fourth century.


2.

Ἀνακεφαλαίωσις, or an Epitome of the Panarion.


3.

Ἀγκυρωτόν, or a Discourse on the Faith, explaining the doctrine of the Trinity, Resurrection, etc.


4.

A treatise on the ancient weights, measures, and coins of the Jews. St. Jerome admires Epiphanius for his skill in the Hebrew, Syriac, Egyptian, Greek, and Latin languages, and styles him “Pentaglottus” (Πεντάγλωττος), or the Five-tongued. His writings are of great value, as containing numerous citations from curious works which are no longer extant. See the monograph by Lipsius (Vienna, 1865).

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