17. Of SAMOSATA, a celebrated heresiarch of the third century. Of the early life of this celebrated man we know nothing more than that he was a native of Samosata, and that he neither inherited any property from his parents, nor followed any art or profession by which he could acquire wealth, before his exaltation to the bishopric of Antioch, apparently in A. D. 260. Cave ascribes his elevation to the influence of Zenobia [ZENOBIA], whose husband Odenathus [ODENATHUS] was allpowerful in the Fast.
But although Athanasius states that Paul was in favour with Zenobia (Athanas. Historia Arianor. ad Monachos,
100.71), he does not say that she procured his election to the bishopric, and in fact the context rather intimates that she did nob procure or aid his elevation; and beside, it does not appear that either Odenathus or Zenobia had any power at Antioch till after A. D. 260.
There is no reason, therefore, to doubt that the election of Paul was free and spontaneous on the part of the church at Antioch; and this circumstance, combined with the silence of the ecclesiastical writers, who would gladly have laid hold of any thing to his disadvantage, leads to the conclusion that his character before his elevation was not only free from any serious blemish, but so commendable as to lead to his being raised from an originally humble condition to the highest dignity in the church.
But this elevation was apparently the cause of his undoing.
He manifested in his subsequent conduct great rapacity, arrogance, and vanity. To this his comiiection with Zenobia probably conducted, bringing him into contact with the corrupting influences of an Oriental court, and either awakening his ambition and avarice, or bringing then out more prominently.
It is true that our knowledge of him is derived from the statements of his enemies; but, after making all reasonable abatement on this account, enough remains to show his general character, especially as the charges which are contained in the encyclical letter published by the council which deposed him, the greater part of which is given by Eusebius (Euseb. Hist. Eccl. 7.30
), were published at the time, and therefore had they been altogether groundless. would have been open to denial or refutation.
He obtained, while holding his bishopric, the secular office of procurator ducenarius, so called from the holder of it receiving a yearly salary of two hundred sestertia; and is said to have loved the pomp and state of this secular calling better than the humbler and more staid deportment which became his ecclesiastical office; and it was probably by the exercise, perhaps the abuse of his procuratorsllip, that he amassed the immense wealth, which, contrasted with his original poverty, so scandalized his opponents.
He was led also, by his habits of secular grandeur and the pride they inspired, to introduce into the church a greater degree of pomp than had as yet been allowed, erecting for himself an episcopal tribunal (βῆμα
and a lofty seat (θρόνον ὑψηλὸν
and having this seat placed in a recess, screened from public observation (see Valesius on the word σήκρητον
, not. ad Euseb. H. E.
7.30), in imitation of the higher judges and magistrates. When abroad he assumed all the airs of greatness; being attended by a numerous retinue, and affecting to rend letters and to dictate as he went, in order to inspire the spectators with an idea of the extent and pressing character of his engagements.
But if he expected to make by these proceedings a favourable impression, he was signally disappointed.
The heathen and Jewish part of the population, hostile to Christianity, were excited to jealousy and indignation; and among the Christians themselves, the really humble were disgusted; and those who were most desirous of the elevation of the Church and its dignitaries, were scandalized at such vain ostentation. Only the weakest and most worldly were induced to admire.
The decencies of public worship were violated; for Paul encouraged his admirers of both sexes to manifest their approval by waving their handkerchiefs, rising up and shouting, as in the theatres; and rebuked and insulted those whom a sense of propriety restrained from joining in these applauses. His style of preaching tended to aggravate the disaffection which his general deportment inspired.
He was equally unsparing in his strictures on those former teachers of the church whose memory was held in reverence, and in his praises of himself, "after the manner rather of a rhetorician or a mountebank, than of a bishop" (Euseb. ibid.
He allowed and excited womnen to sing his praises publicly in the church, amid the solemnities of Easter; and encouraged his flatterers among the neighbouring bishops to praise him in their discourses to the people, and extol him "as an angel from heaven." To these charges of open and ascertainable character, his accusers add others of more secret, and therefore more dubious nature, resting in fact on suspicion.
The intimacy which he cherished with a succession of young and beautiful women, and his encouragement of similar intimacy in his presbyters and deacons, gave rise to the most unfavourablie slurmises; and, he was further charged with secring himself from being accused by the partners of his secret guilt. by loading them with wealth, or by leading them so to commit themselves, that apprehension on their own account might make then silent as to him.
Probably, however, these offensive traits of his character would have excited less animadvlersion. had they not been connected with theological opinions, which excited great horror by their heterodoxy.
In fact his accusers admit that. though "all groaned and lamented his wickedness in secret," they feared his power too much to provoke him by attempting to accuse him; but the horror excited by his heresy inspired a courage which indignation at his immorality had failed to excite; and they declare that when he set himself in opposition to God, they were compelled to depose him, and elect another bishop in his room (Euseb. ibid
The heresy of Paul is described by his opponents (Euseb. 7.30; Epiph. Haeres.
lxv. ed. Petavii) as identical with that of Artemas or Artemon [ARTEMON, No. 3.
It is evident, from the portion of the letter of his accusers which is given by Eusebius, that he deified the divinity of Christ and his coming from heaven, and affirmed that he was "from beneath" (λέγει Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν κατώθεν
), apparently meaning thereby that he was in his nature simply a man. Epipianius Has given a fuller account of his opinions but less trustworthy.
The following passage (Hacres.
is, however, apparently correct. "He (Paul) affirms that God the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are one God; and that his word (λόγος
) and the Spirit (πνεῦμα
) exist continually (ἀεὶ ὄντα
) in God, as the word, or rather reason (λόγος
) of man exists continually in his heart: that the Son of God has no distinct personality (μὴ εἶναι δὲ τὸν Υἱὸν τοῦ Θεοῦ ἐνυπόστατον
), but exists in God himself; as also Sabellius, Novatus and Noetus, and others think, though he (Paul) does not (i. e. in other respects) agree with, but thinks differently from them; and affirms that the Word came and dwelt in the man Jesus. And thus he says God is one; not that the Father is the Father, and the Son is the Son, and the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit (i. e. not that the Father, Son, and Spirit are respectively distinct persons); but that the Father and his Son in him, like the word (or reason λόγος
of man in him. are one God: deriving his heresy from these words, from the declaration of Moses (Deut.
6.4), 'the Lord thy God is one Lord.' And he does not say with Noetus that the Father suffered, but he says that the Word came and alone did the work, and returned to the Father. And there is much that is absurd beside this."
The charge which Philastrius makes against Paul, of teaching circumcision. is unsupported by older and better testimony, and no doubt untrue: it arose probably from the supposed Judaical character of Paul's opinions.
The heresy of Paul having stirred up his opponents to take measures which his moral delinquency had failed to stimulate them to, it was determined to hold a council. Dionysius of Alexandria was invited to attend, but excused himself on the ground of age and infirmity.
He showed his opinion on the questions in dispute by a letter, not addressed to Paul, as bishop. and not even including a salntation to him, but addressed to the church of Antioch (Euseh. H. E.
7.27, and Epistol. Synod Antioch.
apud Euseb. Hist. Eccl. 7.30
This treatment from a man usually so moderate as Dionysins. shows that Paul had to anticipate anything but fairness and equity at the hands of his judges.
It may be observed here that the letter given in the Concilia
(vol. i. col. 849, &c. ed. Labbe, vol. i. p. 1040, ed. Mansi), as from Dionysius to Paul, cannot, consistently with the above statement, be admitted as genuine.
It is doubtful whether it is a forgery, or an actual letter of some other contemporary bishop to Paul. to which the name of Dionysius has been mistakenly prefixed.
The ten questions or propositions profssedly addressed by Paul to the writer of this letter (Παύλου Σαμοσάτεω αἱρετικοῦ προτάσεις δέκα, ὓς προέτεινε τῷ Πάπᾳ Διονυσίῳ
, Pauli Sanisosuate.sis IJcerctici decems Qtuaestioncs, qlitqs Dionqs/10 Alexandrsinseo proposzit
), subjoined, together with the answer to them, to the letter of Dionysius, cannot have been addressed to him. Whether they can be regarded as really addressed by Paul to any one else will depend on the decision as to the origin of the letter itself. Notwithstanding the refusal of Dionysius to attend, a council assembled (A. S. 264 or 265), over which Firmilian. lian bishop of the Cappadocian Caesareia, and one of the most eminent prelates of his day, presided. Gregory Thaumatutrgus and his brother Athenodorus [GREGORIUS THAUMATURGUS] were present. Firmilians condemned the opinions held by or imputed to Paul (between whom and his opponents much dialectic fencing took place), but accepted the explanation or promise of retractatier offered by Paul, and prevailed on the council to defer giving its judgment (Eulseb. H. E.
As, however, Paul, after the council had broken up. continued to inculcate his obnoxious opinions. a second council was summoned, to give an effective decision. Firmilian died at Tarsus on his way to attend it; and Helenus of Tarsus appears to have presided. Eusebius expressly states that this second council was held after the accession of Aurelian, who came to the throne in A. D. 270 [AURELIANUS], but Tillemont places it in A. D. 269 (see Vales. Annot. in Euseb. H. E.
7.29). Whether a council was held between the two of which Eusebius speaks is not clear; some expressions of Rufinus, and the circumstance that Firmilian visited Antioch twice on this affair (Epist. Synod. apud Euseb.
7.30), lead Tillemont to conclude positively that three councils were held, but we think the proof insufficient.
At the last council Paul attempted to conceal his opinions, but they were detected by the skill of the presbyter Malchion, who was, or had been, the master of one of the schools of secular literature at Antioch. The Jecision of the council appears to have been unanimous : Paul was deposed, and Domnus, the son of Demetrianus, one of the former bishops of Antioch, was appointed in his room. Paul appears to have denied the jurisdiction or disputed the sentence of the council; and, probably encouraged by the patronage of Zenobia, refused to give up possession of the church.
The council, therefore, found it needful to address a letter to the universal Christian world, informing them of their proceedings, and inviting them to recognise Domnus; adding, with a sneer little becoming their dignity, "that Paul might, if he chose, write to Artemas (or Artemon), and that the followers of Artemon might hold communion with Paul."
It is from this synodal letter, of which Eusebius has preserved (H. E.
7.30) a considerable part, that our chief knowledge of Paul's character is derived.
A letter of the council to Paul, before his deposition, is given in the Concilia
of Labbe (vol. i. col. 844) and Mansi (vol. i. col. 1033).
When the power of Zenobia was overthrown, and the East subdued by Aurelian [AURELIANUS], the council, or rather those with whom it rested to carry out their sentence, appealed to the emperor. Aurelian referred the matter to the bishops of Italy, and, upon receiving their decision against Paul, ordered him to be expelled (Euseb. Hist. Eccl. 7.30
) : after which event nothing more is known of him.
A sect holding his opinions, and called from him Pauliani or Paulianistae (Παυλιανισταί
), existed for a time, but they appear never to have become important; and in the fifth century were either entirely extinct, or were so few as to have escaped notice.
Paul does not appear to have written much.
The ten questions or propositions extant under his name, and addressed, according to the existing title, to Dionysius of Alexandria, have been noticed. A Greek MS. work, ascribed by some to Joannes Damascenus, contains a fragment of a work of Paul, entitled οἱ πρὸς Σαδειανὰν λόγοι
, Ad Sabianum Libri,
and some fragments of his are cited in the Concilia
(vol. iii. p. 338, ed. Labbe). Vincentius Lirinensis, in his Commonitorium,
states that the writings of Paul abounded in quotations from the Scriptures both of the O. T. and N. T.
Euseb. ll. cc.
; Athanas. l. c
. and Ad Episcopos Aegypt. ct Lybiae,
100.4, De Synodis,
4.43, Contra Apollinar.
lib. 2. c.3; Epiphan. Haeres.
lxv.; Augustin. De Haeresibus,
100.44; Theodoret. Haeret. Fabul. Compend.
lib. 2. c.8,11; Philastrius, Haeresis,
lxv.; Suidas, s. v.
vol. i. p. 843, &c. ed. Labbe, p. 1031, &c. ed. Mansi; Cave, Hist. Litt.
ad ann. 260, vol. i. p. 135; Le Quien. Orieus Christianus,
vol. ii. col. 705; Tillemont, Mémoires,
vol. iv. p. 289, &c.; Semler, Hist. Eccles. Selecta Cap.
Saecul. iii. c. 4.2.2; Neander, Church History
(by Rose), vol. ii. p. 269, &c.; Priestley, Hist. of the Christian Church,
vol. i. p. 396, &c.