), a voluminous ecclesiastical writer, who flourished during the first half of the eighth century after Christ, in the reigns of Leo Isauricus and Constantine VII.
He was a native of Damascus, whence he derived his surname, and belonged to a family of high rank. His oratorical powers procured him the surname of Chrysorrhoas, but he was also stigmatized by his enemies with various derogatory nicknames, such as Sarabaita, Mansur, and Arclas.
He devoted himself to the service of the church, and after having obtained the dignity of presbyter, he entered the monastery of St. Saba at Jerusalem, where he spent the remainder of his life, devoting himself to literary pursuits, especially the study of theology.
He seems to have died, at the earliest, about A. D. 756, and his tomb was shewn near St. Saba down to a very late period.
He is regarded as a saint both by the Greek and Latin churches; the former celebrates his memory on the 29th of November and the 4th of December, and the latter on the 6th of May.
Life of Joannes by Joannes, Patriarch of Jerusalem
His life, which is still extant, was written by Joannes, patriarch of Jerusalem; but little confidence can be placed in it, as the facts are there mixed up with the most incredible stories.
It is printed in Surius's Lives of the Saints, under the 6th of May.
All the writers who mention Joannes Damascenus agree in asserting, that he surpassed all his contemporaries as a philosopher and by the extensive range of his knowledge.
This reputation is sufficiently supported by the great number of his works which have come down to us, though he was extremely deficient in critical judgment, which is most apparent in the stories which he relates in confirmation of the doctrines he propounds.
He was a strong opponent of those who insisted upon removing all images from the Christian churches, and upon abolishing prayers for the dead.
We pass over the several collections of his works, as well as the separate editions of single treatises, and only refer our readers to the best edition of his works, which was prepared and edited by Michael le Quien, Paris, 1712, in 2 vols. fol.
, though it is far from containing all the works that are still extant under his name, and are buried in MS. in the various libraries of Europe.
It contains the following works:
Works Printed in the le Quien Edition
1. Κεφάλαια φιλοσοφικά, or the main points of philosophy and dialectics. 2. Περὶ αἱρέσεων, on heresies and their origin. 3. Ἔκδοσις ἀκριβὴς τῆς ὀρθοδόξου πίστεως, an accurate exposition of the orthodox faith. 4. Πρὸς τοὺς διαβάλλοντας τὰς ἁγίας εἰκόνος, a treatise against those who opposed the use of images in churches. 5. Λίβελλος νερὶ ὀρθοῦ προνοήματος, that is, a confession of faith. 6. Τόμος, i. e. a work against the Jacobites and Monophysites or Eutychians. 7. Κατὰ Μανιχαίμν διάλογος, a discourse against the Manicheans. 8. Διάλογος Σαρακηνοῦ καὶ Χριστιανοῦ, a dialogue between a Saracen and a Christian. 9. Περὶ δρακόντων, a fragment on dragons. 10. Περὶ ἁγίας τριάδος, on the holy trinity. 11. Περὶ τοῦ τρισαγίου ὕμνου, on the hymn entitled Trisagium. 12. Περὶ τῶν ἁγίων νηστειῶν, on fasts. 13. Περὶ τῶν ὀκτὼ τῆς πονηρίας πνευμάτων, on the eight spirits of wickedness. 14. Εἰσαγωγὴ δογμάτων στοιχειώδης. elementary instruction in the Christian dogmas. 15. Περὶ συνθέτου φύσεως, a treatise directed against the Acephalians. 16. Περὶ τῶν ἐν τῷ Χριστῷ δύο βελημάτων καὶ ἐνεργειῶν καὶ λοιπῶν φυσικῶν ἰδιωμάτων, on the twofold will and action of Christ, and on the other physical properties. 17. Ἔπος ἀκριβέστατον κατὰ βεοστυγοῦς αἱρέσεως τῶν Νεστοριανῶν, against the heresies of the Nestorians. 18.
A number of fragments on various subjects. 19. Πασχάλιον, or a paschal canon. 20.
A fragment of a letter on the nature of man. 21.
A treatise on those who had died in the faith of Christ, and on the manner in which their souls may be benefited by masses and alms. 22.
A letter on confession. 23. Λόγος ἀποδεικτικὸς περὶ τῶν ἁγίων καὶ σεπτῶν εἰκόνων, an oration on the veneration due to sacred images. 24.
An epistle on the same subject, addressed to Theophilus. 25. Περὶ τῶν ἀσ῾ύμων, on the east of unleavened bread. 26.
An epistle addressed to Zacharias, bishop of the Doari. 27.
An exposition of the Christian faith : it is only in Latin, and a translation from an Arabic MS. 28. Some poems in iambics on sacred subjects. 29.
An abridgment of the interpretation of the letters of St. Paul by Joannes Chrysostomus. 30. Ἱερὰ παράλληλα, sacred parallels, consisting of passages of Scripture compared with the doctrines of the early fathers. 31.
A number of homilies.
Fabric. Bibl. Graec.
ix. pp. 682-744; Cave, Hist. Lit.
i. p. 482, &c., ed. London, 1688.