whom Cave, apparently without just ground, identifies with JOANNES SCYTHOPOLITANUS (Ἰωάννης ό Σκυσοπολίτης
[JOANNES, No. 111.], lived in the early part of the sixth century.
In the beginning of the reign of the Byzantine emperor, Justin I., who sneceeded Anastasius A. D. 518, certain "Scvthian monks," as their contemporaries term them, who appear to have come from the bishopric of Tomi and the adjacent bishoprics near the south bank of the Danube, made a great stir at Constantinople, by contending for the propriety of the expression "Unus e Trinitate in carne crucifixus est."
This mode of expression was suspected of covering the Monophysite or Eutychian heresy [EUTYCHES] ; and the formula " Una Persona e Trinitate" was regarded as more orthodox. Here was sufficient cause in that age of logomachy for bitter controversy. Maxentius appeared in Constantinople on the side of the "Scythians;" but whether he was one of them is questionable: he was, or claimed to be, of the monastic profession, and styled himself abbot; but from what place he came is very doubtful. The Magdeburgh Centuriators and Possevino absurdly identify him with Maxentius, an abbot of Poitou, in France; and Usher, followed by Cave, misunderstanding an expression in one of Maxentius' works, makes him a monk and presbyter of Antioch. Some have confounded him with the Joannes of Antioch mentioned by Gennadius (de Viris Illstr.
100.93). From whatever quarter he came, he entered warmly into the contest, which was further inflamed by the addition of the controversv about divine grace, revived in the East by the diffusion of the Semi-Pelagian writings of Faustus of Riez [FAUSTUS REIENSIS]. Maxentius became the leader of the Scythians, and presented on their part and his own a confession of faith to the legates of pope Hormisdas, who were at Constantinople on other matters.
This confession was designed to vindicate them from the suspicion or charge of Eutychianism, and to obtain the sanction of the legates to the favourite expression " Unus e Trinitate," &c. Failing in this, four of the monks, of whom it is questioned whether Maxentius was one, were despatched to Rome, to try what could be done with the pope himself.
But though they strained every nerve, they could effect nothing; and after a stay of a year or more they returned to Constantinople; shortly after which Hormisdas, in a letter to Possessor, an African bishop then in exile at Constantinople, branded them as deceivers and men of the worst character. To this letter Maxentius published a reply; and in order to have more liberty to assail it, chose to regard it as not genuine. Nothing further of Maxentius's history is known.
His works are extant only in a Latin version, and have been published in various collections of the fathers.
His works appear in the following order in the Bibliotheca
They first appeared in the Orthodoxographa, fol. Basel, 1555. In the Maxima Biblioth. Patrum, fol. Lyon, 1677, vol. ix. p. 533, &c.
To these several pieces are prefixed, by the editor of the Bibliotheca,
short introductions, pointing out their supposed heretical tendency. Baronius also bitterly inveighs against the heresies of Maxentius, who is, however, ably vindicated by Cardinal Noris and by John Forbes of Aberdeen.
ad ann. 519, 520; Norisius, Histor. Pelagian.
2.18-20; Forbesius, Instruction. Historico- Theologic.
3.21; Cave, Hist. Litt.
ad ann. 520, vol. i. p. 505, ed. Oxf. 1740-1742 ; Fabric. Bibl. Crae.
vol. x. p. 540.