7. Presbyter of Caesareia, in Palestine, saint and martyr, and also celebrated for his friendship with Eusebius, who, as a memorial of this intimacy, assumed the surname of Παμφίλου
He was probably born at Berytus, of an honourable and wealthy family. Having received his early education in his native city, he proceeded to Alexandria, where he attended the instrnctions structions of Pierius, the head of the catechetical school.
Afterwards, but at what time we are not informed, he became a presbyter under Agapius the bishop of Caesareia in Palestine.
In the fifth year of the persecution under Diocletian, towards the end of the year A. D. 307, he was thrown into prison by Urbanus, the governor of Palestine, for refusing to sacrifice to the heathen deities. Eusebius attended upon him most affectionately during his imprisonment, which lasted till the l6th of February, 309, when he suffered martyrdom by the command of Firmilianus, the successor of Urbanus.
The life of Pamphilus seems to have been entirely devoted to the cause of biblical literature, and of a free theology, but more especially the former: he was an ardent admirer and follower of Origen. Jerome tells us that he was always ready to show his friendship for studious men, and to supply their wants; and that he multiplied copies of the Holy Scriptures to such an extent that he was able not only to lend, but to give them away.
He formed, at Caesareia, a most valuable public library, chiefly of ecclesiastical authors, a catalogue of which was contained in the lost work of Eusebius on the life of Pamphilus. Not only did the writings of Origen occupy an important place in this library, but the greater part of them were transcribed by Pamphilus with his own hand, as we learn from Jerome, who used these very copies. Perhaps the most valuable of the contents of this library were the Tetrapla
of Origen, from which Pamphilus, in conjunction with Eusebius, formed a new recension of the Septuagint, numerous copies of which were put into circulation. Among the other treasures of this library was a copy of the so-called Hebrew text of the gospel of St. Matthew, as used by the Nazarenes.
There is still extant one MS., if not two, which some suppose to have been transcribed by Pamphilus for his library (Montfaucon, Bibl. Coisl.
p. 251; Proleg. ad Orig. Hexapl.
pp. 14, 76.).
The library is supposed to have been destroyed at the taking of Caesareia by the Arabs, in the seventh century. Another eminent service which Pamphilus rendered to the Christians of Caesareia, was the foundation of a theological school, in which the exposition of the Scriptures formed the chief study.
The statement of Jerome that Pamphilus, though so ardent in the study and transcription of the old writers, composed nothing of his own, except a few letters, is certainly incorrect.
Photius expressly states that the Apology for Origen
was commenced by Pamphilus in prison, where he composed five books of it in conjunction with Eusebius, and that the sixth book was added by Eusebius after the martyrdom of Pamphilus. Of these six books the first only is extant, in the incorrect Latin version of Rufinus.
The work was in the form of a letter to the Christian confessors condemned to the mines in Palestine.
Rufinus' Latin version is printed in Delarue's edition of Origen, Gallandi's Bibliotheca Patrum,
and Routh's Reliquiae Sacrae.
There is another work ascribed to Pamphilus by some writers, under the title of Expositio capitum Actuum Apostolicorum
, but it is quite impossible to decide whether this was really written by Pamphilus or by Euthalius.
Sources for his life
Eusebius wrote a life of Pamphilus in three books, but it is entirely lost, excepting a few fragments, and even these are doubtful. All that we now know of him is derived from scattered passages in the works of Eusebius, Jerome, Photius, and others.
Euseb. Hist. Eccl. 6.32
, de Mart. Palaest.
11; Hieron. de Vir. Illu/st.
75, ad v. Rufin.
I. vol. iv. p. 357, II. vol. iv. p. 419; Phot. Bibl. 118
; Acta S. Pamphili Marlyris ;
vol. x. p. 712; Lardner, Tillemont, Schröckh, and the other church historians.