Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Parallel to the Zuqnin Chronicle's Reference to Hadrian Organizing a Christian Council at Ancyra

The 'Zuqnin Chronicle' is preserved in a single handwritten manuscript, Cod. Vat. 162. This is now in the Vatican (shelfmark Vatican Syriac 162). As noted in a previous post, that manuscript was undoubtedly produced in 775 CE and is an autograph. It turns out that there is another eighth century Syrian chronicle MS 14643 of the British Museum which has the story in a slightly different form:

And what time Synods have met, and in the days of what kings

In the year 427, in the days of Hadrian, the king, Sabellius arose against the Church, 117 years after the birth of Christ, and said that there was one Person in the Trinity, and that the body and blood which we receive from the altar is the Trinity. And forty-three Bishops met at Ancyra, of Galatia, and excommunicated him from the Church.

And in the year 530, in the days of Severus, the king, arose Paul of Samosata against the Church, He was Bishop of Antioch, and he called the Son of God righteous, as one of the ancient righteous who had been in the world. And this was 220 years from the birth of Christ. And all the Bishops assembled at Antioch, Dionysius of Rome, and Dionysius of Alpharno {i.e. Alexandria), and Gregory Thaumaturgus, and excommunicated him from the Church.

And in the year 640, in the days of Julian, the impious king, arose Eustathius against the Church, 330 years after the birth of Christ. And there assembled the Sons of the Covenant, who ate not flesh and took not wines, with the Sons of the Covenant who ate flesh and took wines ; and there was a division in the Church, and seventy Bishops met in the city of Gangra, and they read in the sacred Scriptures, and decided and said thus : " That after God had set apart for Aaron, the priest, the right shoulder and the jaw and the (appurtenances?) until Eli, the priest, the priests of Israel ate flesh, and no man was stumbled by them, because they ate it in rectitude and propriety, as God commanded by the prophets ; and when the sons of Eli came and snatched the flesh from the people, Paul comes and decides it not (to be) for impurity but for gluttony, and says, ' I will never eat flesh, that I cause not my brother to stumble.

That of 318, met at Nicea, in the days of Constantine, the first Christian king, in the year 636, on the 19th of Haziran, in the 13th. In this was the overthrow of wicked Arius. From the birth of Christ, it was 326. Its heads were, Silvester at Rome, and Alexander the Great, of Alexandria, and Eusta- thius of Antioch, and Macarius of Jerusalem. There was there also the great Athanasius, who was a deacon, who ministered as a true son to holy Alexander ...

This is clearly not the same as the material which makes its way to the Zuqnin Chronicle and subsequently to the chronicles of Michael the Syrian and Bar Hebraeus.  For one, Hadrian is only said to have been the king at the time of the synod here, the other traditions say he organized the conference.  It should also be noted that the dating is consistently off for all calculations here.  The other tradition made clear the conference was held at the end of Hadrian's reign.  Here it is said that it occurred in the year 427 (when the beginning of the Seleucid period is 311/312).

With respect to the next council mentioned in the Syrian chronicle - the council of Antioch against Paul of Samosata - the information is certainly 'accurate.'  All these things occurred but the dating is remarkably incorrect.  Similarly with respect to the next entry, it may be said that while it may be unfamiliar to many readers both Eutathius and the council of Gangra are 'real events' in the history of the Church:

He was one of the chief founders of monasticism in Asia Minor, and for a long time was an intimate friend of St. Basil. He was censured because of the exaggerated asceticism of his followers, hesitated all his life between various forms of Arianism, and finally became a leader of the Pneumatomachians condemned by the First Council of Constantinople (381). Eustathius was apparently the son of Eulalius, Bishop of Sebaste, the metropolis of Armenia (the Roman province). He studied under Arius (Basil, Ep. cxxxiii, 3; cxxliv, 3; cxlxiii, 3), and was known from the beginning as one who sympathized with the heretic. He was ordained priest and then founded a community of monks. Partly because of the idea common at that time (Fortescue, The Greek Fathers, London, 1908, pp. 57, 94) that no one could be both a priest and a monk, and partly also because of the extravagance of his community, he was suspended from his priesthood by a synod at Neo-Cæsarea. Late, in 340, a synod at Gangra condemned his followers (toùs perì Eustáthion) for exaggerated and extravagant asceticism. These monks forbade marriage for any one, refused to communicate with married priests, and taught that no married person can be saved; they fasted on Sundays and would not do so on the appointed fast-days; they claimed special grace for their own conventicles and dissuaded people from attending the regular services of the Church. It was evidently a movement like that of the Encratites and Montanists. Against these abuses the council drew up twenty canons, but without directly censuring Eustathius (Hefele, "Conciliengesch.", 1st ed., II, 777 sq.; Braun, "Die Abhaltung der Synode von Gangra" in "Hist. Jahrb.", 1895, pp. 586 sq.).

It seems I will have to get my hands on the Zuqnin Chronicle and compare the entry with this one.  The decision of Michael and Bar Hebraeus to change 'Ancyra' as the locale of the first council to 'Nicaea' doesn't seem possible if the entry there took this form.

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