1. Of ANTIOCH, was born, probably, in that city, and in the earlier part of the fourth century. His parentsdied when he was young; but he resisted the temptations arising from rank, wealth, and early freedom from parental control, and devoted himself to study and ascetic exercises, not carrying the latter, however, to such excess as to injure his constitution.
He was remarkable for the early sedateness of his character, so that Chrysostom doubts if he could ever be said to have been a young man. On the deposition of Eustathius, bishop of Antioch, A. D. 329 or 330, or perhaps 331, by the Arian party [EUSTATHIUS, No. 1], Flavian is said to have followed him into exile.
But this is somewhat doubtful, from the silence of Chrysostom, and from the fact that, though the bishops who succeeded Eustathius were of Arian or Eusebian sentiments, Flavian did not secede from the communion of the church, as the more zealous supporters of Eustathius did. Yet Flavian was a strenuous supporter of orthodoxy, and his opposition, with that of his coadjutor Diodorus, though they were both yet laymen, compelled the bishop Leontius to prohibit Aetius, who was preaching his heterodox doctrines at Antioch, under the bishop's protection [AETIUS], from the exercise of the functions of the deaconship to which he had just been raised.
The date of this transaction is not fixed; but the episcopate of Leontius commenced in A. D. 348, and lasted about ten years. Whether Flavian and Diodorus were at this time deacons is not clear. Philostorgius states that they were deposed by Leontius for their opposition to him, but does not say from what office. They first introduced the practice of the alternate singing or chanting of the psalms, and the division of the choir into parts, which afterwards became universal in the church.
Flavian was ordained priest by Meletius, who was elected bishop of Antioch, A. D. 361, and held the see, with three intervals of exile, chiefly occasioned by his opposition to Arianism, till A. D. 381. His first expulsion, which was soon after his election, induced Flavian and others to withdraw from the communion of the church, over which Euzoius, an Arian, had been appointed.
The seceders still recognised the deposed prelate; and the church formed by them was, during the third and longest banishment of Meletius, under the care of Flavian and Diodorus, both now in the priesthood. Flavian himself did not preach, but he supplied materials to Diodorus and others who did. On the death of Valens, A. D. 378, and the consequent downfall of Arianism, Meletius was restored, and the orthodox party recovered possession of the churches, the Arians, or the more staunch of them, becoming in turn seceders.
But the orthodox were divided among themselves; for the older seceders at the deposition of Eustathius had remained separate under their own bishop, and had not united with the second secession under Meletius. Paulinus was, at the death of Valens, the Eustathian bishop, and contested with Meletius the rightful occupation of the see.
The orthodox church throughout the Roman empire was divided on the question, the Western and Egyptian churches acknowledging Paulinus, and the Asiatic, and apparently the Greek churches, recognising Meletius. To terminate the schism it was agreed upon oath, by those of the clergy of Antioch who were most likely to be appointed to succeed in the event of a vacancy, that they would decline accepting such appointment, and agree to recognise the survivor of the present claimants. Flavian was one of the parties to this agreement: but many of the Eustathians refused to sanction it; so that when Meletius died, while attending the Council of Constantinople, A. D. 381, Flavian, who was also attending the Council, and was elected to succeed him, with the general approval of the Asiatic churches, felt himself at liberty to accept the appointment.
The imputation of perjury, to which Flavian thus subjected himself, apparently aggravated the schism; and when Paulinus died, A. D. 388 or 389, his party elected Evagrius to succeed him; but on his death after a short episcopate [EVAGRIUS, No. 1], no successor was chosen; and the schism was healed, though not immediately. Flavian managed to conciliate Theophilus, bishop of Alexandria, and by his intervention, and that of Chrysostom, now bishop of Constantinople, A. D. 397-403, he was acknowledged by the Roman and other Western churches.
On occasion of the great sedition at Antioch, A. D. 387, Flavian was one of those who interceded with the emperor, Theodosius the Great, for the pardon of the citizens.
He set out on this mission in spite of the infirmities of age, the inclemency of the weather, and the illness of his only sister, who was at the point of death; and used such diligence as to reach Constantinople before the authentic tidings of the disturbance. Ecclesiastical writers ascribe the pardon of the citizens very much to his intercession, but Zosimus, in his brief notice of the affair, does not mention him.
Flavian was held in much respect, both during and after his life. Chrysostom, his pupil and friend, speaks of him in the highest terms. Theodore of Mopsuestia was also his pupil. Flavian died, A. D. 404, not long after the deposition of Chrysostom, to which he was much opposed, but which was sanctioned by his successor in the see of Antioch.
Of his writings only some quotations remain ; they are apparently from his sermons, and are preserved in the Eranistes
of Theodoret. Photius mentions his Letters to the Bishops of Osroene
and to a certain Armenian Bishop,
respecting the rejection, by a synod over which Flavian presided, of Adelphius, a heretic, who desired to be reconciled to the church; Photius speaks also of a Confession of Faith,
and a Letter to the Emperor Theodosius,
written by him. ( Chrysostom, Homil. cum ordinatus esset Presbyt., Homil. III. ad Pop. Antioch., &c.
; Facund. Def. Trium Cap.
2.2; Socrat. Hist. Eccles.
5.5, 10, 15; Sozom. Hist. Eccl.
7.11, 15, 23, 8.3, 24; Theodoret, Hist. Eccl.
2.24, 4.25, 5.2, 9, 23, Eranist. Dial.
i. ii. iii. Opera,
vol. iv pp. 46, 66, 160, 250, 251, ed. Schulze, Halae, 1769-74; Philostorg. Hist. Eccl.
3.18; Photius, Bibl.
cod. 52, 96, pp. 12, 80, 81, ed. Bekker; Fabric. Bibl. Graec.
vol. viii. p. 291, x. pp. 347, 695; Cave, Hist. Lit.
vol. i. p. 277, ed. Oxford, 1740-43.)