Theophilus (4), bp. of Antioch (Eus. H. E. iv. 20; Hieron. Ep. ad Algas. quaest. 6), succeeded Eros c. 171, and was succeeded by Maximin c. 183, according to Clinton (Fasti Romani), but the dates are only approximations. His death may probably be placed c. 183-185 (Lightfoot, S. Ignatius, vol. ii. p. 166). We gather from his writings that he was born a heathen, not far from the Tigris and Euphrates, and was led to embrace Christianity by studying the Holy Scriptures, especially the prophetical books (ad Autol. i. 14, ii. 24). He makes no reference to his office in his existing writings, nor is any other fact in his life recorded. Eusebius, however, speaks of the zeal which he and the other chief shepherds displayed in driving away the heretics who were attacking Christ's flock, with special mention of his work against Marcion (H. E. iv. 24). He was a fertile writer in different departments of Christian literature, polemics, exegetics, and apologetics. Dr. Sanday describes him as "one of the precursors of that group of writers who, from Irenaeus to Cyprian, not only break the obscurity which rests on the earliest history of the Christian church, but alike in the East and in the West carry it to the front in literary eminence, and distance all their heathen contemporaries" (Studia Biblica, p. 90). Eusebius and Jerome mention numerous works of Theophilus current in their time. They are (1) the existing Apology addressed to Autolycus; (2) a work against the heresy of Hermogenes; (3) against that of Marcion; (4) some catechetical writings; (5) Jerome also mentions having read some commentaries on the gospel and on Proverbs, which bore Theophilus's name, but which he regarded as inconsistent with the elegance and style of his other works.
The one undoubted extant work of Theophilus is his Apologia ad Autolycum, in three books. Its ostensible object is to convince a heathen friend, Autolycus, a man of great learning and an earnest seeker after truth, of the divine authority of the Christian religion, while at the same time he exhibits the falsehood and absurdity of paganism. His arguments, drawn almost entirely from O.T., with but very scanty reference to N.T., are largely chronological. He makes the truth of Christianity depend on his demonstration that the books of O.T. were long anterior to the writings of the Greeks and were divinely inspired. Whatever of truth the heathen authors contain he regards as borrowed from Moses and the prophets, who alone declare God's revelation to man. He contrasts the perfect consistency of the divine oracles, which he regards as a convincing proof of their inspiration, with the inconsistencies of heathen philosophers. He contrasts the account of the creation of the universe and of man, on which, together with the history contained in the earlier chapters of Genesis, he comments at great length but with singularly little intelligence, with the statements of Plato, "reputed the wisest of all the Greeks" (lib. iii. cc. 15, 16), of Aratus, who had the hardihood to assert that the earth was spherical (ii. 32, iii. 2), and other Greek writers on whom he pours contempt as mere ignorant retailers of stolen goods. He supplies a series of dates, beginning with Adam and ending with Marcus Aurelius, who had died shortly before he wrote, i.e. early in the reign of Commodus. He regards the Sibylline verses as authentic and inspired productions, quoting them largely as declaring the same truths with the prophets. The omission by the Greeks of all mention of O.T., from which they draw all their wisdom, is ascribed to a self-chosen blindness in refusing to recognize the only God and in persecuting the followers of Him Who is the only fountain of truth (iii. 30, ad fin.). He can recognize in them no aspirations after the divine life, no earnest gropings after truth, no gleams of the all-illumining light. The heathen religion was a mere worship of idols, bearing the names of dead men. Almost the only point in which he will allow the heathen writers to be in harmony with revealed truth is in the doctrine of retribution and punishment after death for sins committed in life (ii. 37, 38). The literary character of the Apology deserves commendation. The style is characterized by dignity and refinement. It is clear and forcible. The diction is pure and well chosen. Theophilus also displays wide and multifarious though superficial reading, and a familiar acquaintance with the most celebrated Greek writers. His quotations are numerous and varied. But Donaldson (Hist. Christ. Lit. iii. p. 69) remarks that he has committed many blunders, misquoting Plato several times (iii. 6, 16), ranking Zopyrus among the Greeks (iii. 26), and speaking of Pausanias as having only run a risk of starvation instead of being actually starved to death in the temple of Minerva (ib.). His critical powers were not above his age. He adopts Herodotus's derivation (ii. 52) of archbishop was sitting in his palace among his clergy. He instantly proceeded to perform episcopal acts; but after thus playing the anti-patriarch for a few days, he was expelled by the "dux" Dionysius; and it was apparently in revenge that his adherents (ib. 526, 533) hunted Proterius into a baptistery and murdered him (Easter, 457). Thereupon Timotheus returned and acted as archbishop. He declared open war against the maintainers of "two natures" as being in effect Nestorianizers, and on this ground boldly broke off communion with Rome, Constantinople, and Antioch, denouncing bishops of the Alexandrian patriarchate who had accepted the formula of the council, and some of whom had held their sees before the accession of Cyril; he also sent to cities and monasteries a prohibition to communicate with such bishops or to recognize clerics ordained by them. The 14 prelates who supply our most authentic information on these events were forced by the storm thus raised to abandon their homes, travel to Constantinople, and present memorials to the emperor and archbishop. These are extant in Latin versions (ib. 524 ff.). Timotheus Aelurus sent some bishops and clerics to plead his cause with the emperor. We possess a fragment of their petition (ib. 536), to the effect that under their "most pious archbishop, the great city of the Alexandrians, with its churches and monasteries, was by God's favour enjoying complete peace," and that they and their archbishop held firmly to the Nicene Creed, refusing to admit any alterations in, or additions to, its text. The document, as we now have it, breaks off abruptly with the words, "for the church of the great city of the Alexandrians does not accept the council of Chalcedon"; but it appears from other evidence (Leo, Ep. 149; Mansi, vii. 522) that it went on to ask that the sanction given to that council might be recalled, and a new council summoned, asserting that the Alexandrian people, the civil dignitaries, the municipal functionaries, and the company of transporters of corn-freights, desired to retain Timotheus as their bishop. The emperor Leo refused the request of the emissaries of Timotheus for immediate action against the authority of the council of Chalcedon, which he had already constructively upheld by confirming the ecclesiastical acts of his predecessors (cf. pope Leo's Ep. 149 with Mansi, vii. 524), but yet deemed it expedient to send copies of both memorials to the bishops of Rome, Constantinople, Antioch, and Jerusalem, and to 55 other prelates and three leading monks (one of them being Symeon Stylites), requesting their opinion as to the case of Timotheus and as to the authority of the council (Evagr. ii. 9; Mansi, vii. 521). Of the prelates consulted, all but one, the inconstant Amphilochius of Side, accepted the council of Chalcedon (Evagr. ii. 10), and all condemned Timotheus in more or less energetic terms, although some with "a salvo, if the statements of the exiles were true" (Mansi, vii. 537 ff.). In the early summer of 460 Leo I. sent orders to Stilas, the "dux" commanding at Alexandria, to expel Timotheus from the church, and to promote the election of an orthodox bishop (Liberat. Brev. 15). "The Cat" was then ejected, but shewed his wonted acuteness by obtaining permission to come to Constantinople and pretend that he had adopted the Chalcedonian doctrine, as if heterodoxy had been his only fault, and so on becoming orthodox he might hope to retain his see. Pope Leo wrote, on June 17, 460, to the emperor Leo and to Gennadius, the new patriarch of Constantinople, urging that Timotheus, even supposing his conversion sincere, was disqualified by having "invaded so great a see during the lifetime of its bishop" (Epp. 169, 170). Accordingly Timotheus was a second time exiled with his brother Anatolius--first to Gangra and then, on his causing fresh disturbances, to a village on the shore of the Chersonesus which Eutychius calls Marsuphia (cf. Evagr. ii. 11; Liberat. Brev. 16; Theophan. Chronogr. i. 186; Eutychius, ii. 103); and during 16 years the church over which he had tyrannized was at peace under the rule of his namesake, Timotheus, called Salofaciolus. But when the next emperor, Zeno, fled from the usurper Basiliscus, towards the close of 475, a new scene opened for Aelurus. He was summoned to Constantinople, where his admirers greeted him with "Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord!" (Simplicius, in Mansi, vii. 976). The patriarch Acacius closed the churches against him, but he held services in private houses (Mansi, l.c.). Basiliscus recognized him as rightful bp. of Alexandria, and by his advice put forth a circular to the episcopate, condemning "the innovation in the faith which was made at Chalcedon" (Evagr. iii. 4). But when the Eutychians of Constantinople, deeming his arrival a godsend, hastened to pay court to him, he disappointed them by declaring that he for his part accepted the statement which Cyril had in effect adopted at his reunion with John of Antioch, that "the Incarnate Word was consubstantial with us, according to the flesh" (ib. 5). On his way home he visited Ephesus, and gratified its clergy and laity by declaring their church (the fifth in Christendom in point of dignity) to be free from that subjection to Constantinople which had been imposed on it by the 28th canon of Chalcedon (ib. 6). When he reached Alexandria, the kindly and popular Salofaciolus was allowed to retire to his monastery at the suburb called Canopus. Aelurus did not long survive, dying probably in the autumn of 477 (Neale, Hist. Alex. ii. 17).
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