Thursday, August 11, 2011

Was His Name 'Sextus Julius Africanus' or 'Julius Africanus the Eunuch'?

Markschies is a scholar of unparalleled erudition. It is well worth reading the opening words of his Julius Africanus Chronographiae to see how we all take for granted that the name of the famous author was 'Sextus Julius Africanus' on the "basis of just one reference in a late and notoriously imprecise source (and even here the reading is problematic) is perilously weak." I think that the alternative reading is probably correct - i.e. he was Julius Africanus the Eunuch. The practice of self-castration in the Alexandrian Church was well known in antiquity and the evidence once again supports the identification of the community with Marcionitism. Yet I encourage my readers to take a look at Markschies comments at the beginning of his work (linked above). It reinforces why it is so important to never stop taking second and third looks at the evidence we take for granted.

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