29. Of LAODICEIA, one of the leaders of the Arian, or rather Semi-Arian party in the ecclesiastical struggles of the fourth century. His family were of Alexandria, and it is probable that he was born and spent his early life there.
He was a presbyter of the church of Alexandria before the council of Nice (A. D. 325), and was anxious to soothe the irritation caused by the dispute beteen Alexander, the bishop, and Arius. [ALEXANDER, vol. i. p. 111b., ARIUS, ATHANASIUS.] The letters which he wrote for this purpose, both to the bishop and to the Arian clergy, of which extracts are given by Athanasius (De Synodis,
100.17), show that he held the Son to have been produced by the Father.
It was probably this opinion that led to his deposition from the office of presbyter; though. Athanasitus says (Ib.
) that there were other charges against him, but does not state what they were.
He elsewhere says he was deposed "for his wickednesss" διὰ τὴν κακίαν αὐτοῦ
(Apol. de Fuga sua,
100.26), but this is probably only another word for heresy. George is said to have subsequently been a presbyter at Arethusa in Syria; and after that he succeeded Theodotus in the bishopric of Laodiceia, in the same province. Athanasius says that he named himself bishop; but it is difficult to understand what the charge means, except that perhaps George solicited the office, instead of affecting any coyness in accepting it.
He was aided in obtaining it by his Arian friends, and must have been in possession of the bishopric before the meeting of the council of Antioch (A. D. 329 or 330), at which Eustathius of Antioch was deposed [EUSTATHIUS, No. 1] ; for he was present at the council. His account of the proceedings there was one of the authorities used by Socrates and Sozonten; though Socrates says that some of his statements were inconsistent with each other.
He afforded shelter about the same time to Eusebius of Emesa or Emisa [EUSEBIUS of EMIAS], when driven from his see, and succeeded in procuring his restoration. In A. D. 335 he was present at the council of Tvre. In A. D. 347 he did not attend the council of Sardica, his enemies said it was through fear: in his absence he was sentenced to be deposed and excommunicated, but the sentence does not appear to have been carried into effect.
He admitted to communion Cyril of Jerustalem [CYRILLUS of JERUSALEM], who had been deposed (A. D. 358) by Acacius, bishop of Caesareia in Palestine, and int A. D. 359 headed the predominant party of the Semi-Arians, at the council of Seleuceia in Isauria, where Cyril was restored. George and his party had at this time to withstand the orthodox on the one hand and the Aetians or Anomoeans on the other.
He wrote to the council of Ancyra (A. D. 358) a letter against Eudoxius of Antioch, whom he charged with being a disciple of Aetius; and he excommunicated the younger Apollinaris, who was a reader in the church at Laodiceia, on account of the friendship he had formed with Athanasius.
He took part in the appointment of Meletius to the bishopric of Antioch, and delivered one of three discourses then preached at the desire of the emperor Constantius II. on Prov. viii, 22--" The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old." Iis exposition of the passage was the least orthodox of the three; that of Meletius, the new bishop, the most orthodox. We know nothing of George after the death of Constantius, A. D. 361. His character is not impugned, except for his heresy, by any other writer than Athanasius, who charges him with living intemperately, and thereby incurring reproach even from his own party.
It is hard to determine whether there is any, or how much, truth in the charge. Fabricius states (Bibl. Gr.
vol. xi. p. 293) that George became in his latter days an Eunomian or Aetian, but he does not cite his authority, and we doubt the correctness of the statement. George of Laodiceia had studied philosophy.
He wrote, 1. Letters
to Alexander, bishop of Alexandria, and to the Arians of Alexandria, already noticed. 2. Ἐγκώμιον εἰς Εὐσέβιον τὸν Ἐμισηνόν
, Encomium Eusebii Emiseni,
containing the account already mentioned of the council of Antioch. 3.
A work against the Manichaeans, now lost, mentioned by Heraclian (apud Phot. Bibl.
cod. 85). (Athan. Apol. contra Arian.
100.36, 48, 49, Hist. Arian. ad Monach,
100.4, 17, Apol. de Fuga sua,
100.26, Epistol. ad Episcop. Aeyypt. et Libyae,
100.7, De Synodis,
100.17; Socrates, H. E.
1.24, 2.9, 10; Sozom. H. E.
3.6, 4.13; Theodoret, H. E.
2.8, 31, 5.7; Philostorg. H. E.
8.17; Tillemont, Me/moires,
vol. viii. ix.)