), archbishop of Tephar (Τεφὰρ
, the Sapphar, Σάπφαρ
, of Ptolemy, and the Saphar, Σάφαρ
, of Arrian), capital of the Homeritae, a nation of Arabia Felix, the site of which is a little above 100 miles N.N.W. of Aden.
The place of his birth is not ascertained.
In the Greek Menaea,
in which he is called Γριγεντῖνος
, he is described as a native of Milan, and the son of Agapius and Theodota, inhabitants of that city ; but in a Slavonic MS. of the Disputatio,
mentioned below, he is described as the son of Agapius and Theotecna, a married pair living in the little town of " Lopliane, on the frontier of Avaria and Asia."
He went to Alexandria, where he embraced the life of an anchorite, and from whence he was sent by Asterius, patriarch of Alexandria, to take charge of the church of the Homeritae, which had been relieved by the Aethiopian Elesbaan, king of the Axumitae, from the depressed condition to which it had been reduced by the persecution of Dunaan, king of the Homeritae, a Jew.
The reigning prince at the time of the mission of Gregentius, was Abramius, whom Elesbaan had raised to the throne, and with whom, as well as with his son and successor, Serdidus, Gregentius had great influence. Abramius died A. D. 552, after a reign of thirty years, and Gregentius died year, and was buried in the great church at Tephar.
A work is extant, entitled Τοῦ ἐν ἁγίοις Πατρὸς ἡμῶν Γρηγεντίου Ἀρχιεπισκόπου γενομένου Τεφρῶν διάλεξις μετὰ Ἰουδαίου
, Ἑρβᾶν τούνομα
, S. Patris nostri Gregentii Tephrensis Archiepiscopi Disputatio cum Herbano Judaeo.
It was published with a Latin version by Nie. Gulonius, 8vo. Paris, 1586, and again in 1603
It is given in the first vol. of the Auctarium
of Ducaeus, in the Bibliotheca Patrum,
vol. xi. ed. Paris. 1654; and in the Bibliotheca Patrum
of Gallandius, vol. xi. fol. Venice, 1765, &c.
The Latin version alone appears in some other editions of the Bibliotheca Patrum.
as it appears in these works, is considered by Fabricius to be mutilated at the commencement ; and his opinion, which is disputed by Gallandius, is corroborated by the greater completeness of a Slavonic MS. of the work in the Royal Library at Berlin, of which one or two passages are given in a Latin version in the last edition of Fabricius.
In this Slavonic MS. the archbishop is always called Gregory.
The work is by Pagi regarded as a fiction, and Gallandius significantly leaves it to others to determine mine this point. Cave considers that "some parts of it smack of the credulity of a later age ;" and, indeed, the contents of the work render it likely that it is much interpolated, to say the least; nor is the authorship determined of that portion (if any) which is genuine. Substantially it may be regarded as the production of Gregentius himself, whose arguments, as Barthius thinks, and as the work itself indicates, were taken down at the time by Palladius of Alexandria, whom the archbishop, on his departure for Tephar, had taken with him as his scholasticus. Lambecius ascribes the work to Nonnosus, ambassador of the emperor Justinian to the Homeritae.
According to this work, the disputation of Gregentius with Herban took place at Tephar, in the presence of the king, Abramis, many bishops, a number of Jews, and the whole population of the city : it was terminated by the miraculous appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the infliction of miraculous blindness upon the Jews, who were, however, restored to sight on their believing and being baptized.
The king himself was sponsor for Herban, to whom he gave the name of Leo, and whom he enrolled among his councillors.
The number of Jews converted and baptized in consequence of these events is stated at 5,500,000 ! Gregentius persuaded Abramius to break up the division of the Jewish converts into tribes, and to mingle them with other Christians, and to order their children, under pain of death, not to marry with any of their own nation, but with Gentile Christians only.
By these means, "in course of time" (τῷ χρόνῳ
, an expression showing that the passage is not by a contemporary), the Jews were merged in the general population of the country.
Law code in the name of King Abramius
The code promulgated by Gregentius in the name of king Abramius, entitled Νομοθεσία ὡς ἐκ προσώπου τοῦ εὐσεβεστάτου Βασιλέως Ἀβραμίου
, is extant in the Imperial Library of Vienna.
A copy of it is also mentioned as among the MSS. formerly belonging to Abraham Seller in England.
The offences denounced in this code are arranged under twenty-three tituli or heads.
Fabric. Bibl. Gr.
vol. vi. p. 749, vii. p. 543, x. p. 115, &c.; Galland. Biblioth. Patr.
vol. xi., Proleg.
100.12; Cave, Hist. Lit.
vol. i. p. 521, ed. Oxon., 1740-43, Catal. MStorum Angliae et Hib.
vol. ii. p. 96; Baronii Annales
ad ann. 523, xvi.-xxxi.; Pagi, Critice in Baronium ;
Oudin, Comment. de Scriptor., &c., Eccles.
vol. i. col. 1423, &c.; Lambecius, apud Oudin.