Codices 230-241

Portions © Les Belles Lettres, Paris.

232.  [Stephen Gobar, Miscellany]

Read the book of a certain Stephen, a tritheist, surnamed Gobar 1. The work seems to have involved a lot of work without procuring a profit proportional to the great pain expended; it exhibits in fact more futile vanity than utility. The chapters which the author has written relating to questions of general order which concern the church are up to about 52; some chapters on more limited subjects are mingled in there. These chapters are divided into expositions of two contradictory opinions. And these opinions are not advanced either by logic or from the holy scriptures but uniquely, according to the author, from the citation of various Fathers of whom some advance the point of view of the church and others who reject it. The latter point of view is defended by ancient testimonies and ancient authors who had not made an exact study of all the problems, and certain of these citations don't defend the point of view supposed anyway, but only seem to do so, at least to the eyes that collected them. As for the point of view of the church, it is confirmed by the testimonies of authors who have defined the truth with the greatest exactitude. The subjects on which this double and contradictory demonstration is made are the following.

It is the propriety 2, the distinctive mark and the form which constitutes the hypostasis, and not the union of the substance and the propriety, and this is no more that which exists of itself. There are first citations which confirm this point of view and then others confirming the adverse opinion, to think that the propriety and the form and the distinctive mark are not the hypostatis but the distinctive mark of it. And in the other chapters, not to weary with repetition every time, the diverse citations rehearse the antithetical proposition and seem to support the two aspects.

John the Baptist was conceived in the month of October. The opposing opinion is that not then, but in November. The Mother of God received the Annunciation in the month of New Things 3, that is April, called Nisan by the Hebrews; she brought our Lord Jesus Christ into the world after 9 months, that is 5 January, in the middle of the night of the eighth day of the Ides of January. The opposing opinion is that not inthe month [usually thought] of the Annunciation, but on the twenty-fifth of March, and that our Saviour 4  came into the world not on the fifth of January but the eighth day before the Kalends of January.

At the moment of the resurrection, it will be exactly the same body as that which we wear now which we will put on again without any modification and which will acquire incorruptibility; the thesis opposed is that we won't put on the same body because our actual body is perishable. We will resurrect with the same appearance and we won't resurrect with the same appearance, but another. We will be the same age at which we died; the opposing opinion is that it will not be so, but that even infants will resurrect with a body of an adult and that we won't all be resurrected at once but in turn. It will be a light, aerial, ethereal and spiritual body that we take on at the moment of resurrection; and it will not be thus, but a terrestrial body, thick and consistent.

God is of human form and has a soul, the icon reveals his corporeal form, and that man was created in imitation of his model, and that angels have bodies similar to human bodies, and that the human soul is an emanation of the divine substance 5; and the opposing opinions, that God is not of human form nor of any form at all, and by nature isn't any of the things just stated; even the angels have no bodies, but are bodiless, and the human soul does not emanate from the divine substance.

Before the fall, the body of man was different, it was what we call a glorious body; and that which we have had since the fall is different: it is of flesh and a tunic of skin and we abandon it at the moment of resurrection. The contrary opinion is that these tunics of skin are not our flesh.

First of all the just will be resurrected and with them all those alive and they will live a good life for a thousand years, eating and drinking, procreating, and that it is after this time that there will be the universal resurrection. The contrary opinion is that there is no first resurrection of the just, no more than the good life for a thousand years nor marriages. After the resurrection, the just will live in Paradise; and they won't live in Paradise by in the heavens and the Paradise is neither in heaven nor on earth, but in an intermediate place. Paradis is the New Jerusalem and is in the third heaven; the tree that grow there are endowed with sensation, intelligence and speech and it is from there that man after his fall was thrown down to earth.  And the opposing thesis is that Paradise is not in the third heaven but on earth.

The good things prepared for the just, the eye has not seen, the ears have not heard and they are not found in the heart of man.6 However Hegesippus, one of the ancients, a contemporary of the apostles, in the third book of his Commentaries, in I do not know what context, says that these are empty words and that those who say them are liars since the Holy Scriptures say, "Blessed are your eyes because they see and happy your ears because they hear," etc.7

Those sinners who are delivered to chastisement are thereby purified of their malice and, after their purification, are free of chastisement. According to the other point of view, those delivered to chastisement are not purified and freed, but only some are, and, according to the true point of view of the church, no-one is freed of chastisement.

It is to burn and not be consumed that means being destroyed in a destruction that does not destroy itself. Titus, bishop of Bostra, who wrote against the Manichaeans, says in his first book,8 "How can the destruction be its own destruction? Because it is always some other object that it destroys, not itself. And if it destroys itself, it would not even have any beginning, because it would have destroyed itself instead of existing. An indestructible destruction is impossible to conceive of, at least according to common sense." And it is evident that it's in another sense that this holy author has said that indestructible destruction is impossible, and St. John said it in still another sense 9. The last-named in fact said that the destruction is indestructible instead of saying it prolongs itself and lasts forever, and the other intended to say that there is no indestructible destruction, i.e. that destruction cannot be a state exempt from suffering, an absence of destruction susceptible to save those whom it encounters. But the two interpretations are such that Gobar, the author of the present essay, without understanding the difference of interpretations has juxtaposed them as contradictory propositions.

The age to come is the eighth 10, the opposing proposition being that it isn't the eighth but the ninth.

The body of our Saviour Jesus Christ after the resurrection became subtle, spiritual, heavenly, light and impossible to touch; this is why he could even pass through closed doors.11 His tangible and solid body is another body to the subtle one: it is consistant and of another essence. And the contrary opinion to this, is that our Lord Jesus Christ after his resurrection did not have an intangible or subtle or spiritual body, and that it was by miracle and not in virtue of the nature of his body that he still entered when the doors were shut.

The Christ did not abandon his flesh after his resurrection, but with it He is seated at the right hand of the Father 12. In the opposed thesis, He will come to judge the living and the dead in a divine body, not one of flesh. It is not with his flesh but purely in his divinity that the master will come for the second time. In introducing this data in his chapter, Gobar produces citations by Titus, Bishop of Bostra 13, when he could have assembled innumerable numbers who establish that it isn't only in his divinity that the Christ our Master will return; he passes on without mentioning one, thus showing the impiety throughout his soul, and hasn't the honesty to profess the monophysitism by the denial of the flesh. The impassible body, invulnerable and immortal, is of one substance and of a type different to ours and the corruptible and mortal bodies which pass into a state of incorruptibility and immortality undergo a modification in their substance.

Every definition preserves the nature of the things it defines. If it is lessened, or elements added to it, the object defined is destroyed. These last two chapters, like those a little earlier, welcome witnesses in one sense only and not in favour of two opposed theses.

The Word of God is complete in every way and under all and is complete in the body to which it is hypostatically attached.  And in a word, the substance of the divinity, by its nature, by its power and operation, fills everything and passes into every part and mixes itself throughout the universe.  On the contrary, it is not so, but God is separate from the universe in his substance and is in everything through the effect of his own virtues.

It is before the creation of the world that God likewise created the angels.  He is thus not one of them, but created them on the first day of the creation of the world.   The angels and demons are united to bodies.  Neither the one nor the other are united to bodies.14  The angels and the souls endowed with reason and all the creatures provided with intelligence are by nature and according to nature incorruptible 15; in the opposing thesis, it is not by nature but by grace that they are immortal.  God alone is immortal by nature.  The angels who descended from heaven to earth had bodies and organs of generation; they united themselves to women and engendered the giants and taught them the arts, good and bad.  The giants themselves in uniting themselves to beasts engendered monstrous men and demons, male and female; these anges undergo punishment in places where fire and hot water stream from the earth.  The souls of sinners become demons.  According to the contrary thesis, the rebel angels remained incorporeal beings; and not themselves but by means of men were they united to women, or even that neither directly nor indirectly did they do this, and the souls of sinners are not changed into demons.

The sky is spherical and has a circular movement; it is not spherical and does not have a circular movement.  In the verse, "The Spirit of God was moving over the waters," the Holy Spirit is referred to; it does not refer to the Holy Spirit but to one of the four elements.  The day of the Lord is both the eighth day and the first; and it is not so.

The souls of men are bodies endowed with intelligence and are fashioned according to the exterior appearance of the body.  According to the opposite opinion, the soul is incorporeal and doesn't take on corporeal form.  Souls existed before the creation of the world and descended from the heavens into bodies like those of Moses, and the prophets, of Socrates, of Plato, of John the Baptist and the apostles, and that of the Lord himself.  According to the opposite opinion, souls did not exist in heaven before bodies, but are born at the moment of the generation of the body; however, the body comes into existence first, and then the soul; or even, souls do not come into existence before or after the body, but, better still, body and soul come into existence together.16

The body of Adam was fashioned with some earth by God; it was not from earth, but from water and spirit.  The breath that God breathed in the face of Adam was a temporal breath and not the eternal Spirit; it was not temporal but an immortal soul 17.  It was neither a temporal breath nor a soul but a spirit, since man is composed of three elements: spirit, soul and body.  And the breath breathed into Adam was none of the three elements just mentioned but the Holy Spirit, and it is neither soul nor spirit but the breath that created the soul.

Earth, water and the other elements are transformed to give fruit and planys; nourishment is transformed to give flesh, nerves and the other elements of the body.  According to the opposed thesis, earth is not transformed into plants and fruit nor nourishment into our body.

After death, the soul does not leave either the body or the tomb; on the contrary, it does not stay with the body nor in the tomb.  On this question Gobar, who disposed of witnesses in abundance, only produced that of Severian of Gabala and that of Irenaeus.

All that is created is corruptible and mortal and it is by the will of God that it remains indissoluble and incorruptible.  According to the opposed thesis, that which is corruptible by nature cannot be made incorruptible by the will of God, because to speak thus is self-contradictory and attributes the impossible to the creator.  For this proposition the author has produced a citation borrowed from Justin Martyr; the latter had undertaken to combat the opinions of the pagans and refutes Plato who said, "Since you were born, you are neither immortal nor quite indestructible and yet, you won't suffer dissolution and you won't undergo a mortal destiny because you have obtained a stronger link which is my will." 18  And the martyr refutes the Platonic sophism and shows that Plato propounds a self-contradictory creator and doesn't include any logical reasoning; because by necessity, whether indeed that which is created is corruptible according to the definition above, or that in fact he lies in saying that everything that is born is corruptible.19  And Gobar hijacks the argument destined to confound the pagan in such a way that it serves the refute the position of the church.

The chapters in question are elaborated by the author by means of pairs of contradictory citations as usual; he then returns to chapters from a single point of view.  He first says ---- and this is the thirty-eighth chapter of the whole work ---- what the teaching was concerning the incarnation of our Lord according to St. Eustathius,20 who occupied the episcopal chair of Antioch, then what was the teaching of the very holy Cyril, the Bishop of Alexandria, and how the doctors of the church understood the verse, "Of the day and the hour, no-one is told, not the angels nor the Son but only the Father," 21 and how Severus understood it.

After these subjects treated in a single sense, he returns to producing citations in two senses, and makes a forty-second chapter22 where it is said that our Lord Jesus Christ was nourished with milk by Mary, the mother of God, and that he was not so nourished.

The verse, "The least in the kingdom of Heaven is greater than John the Baptist," was spoken by the Saviour of himself; it was not of himself that he said this, but of John the Evangelist.

Our Lord Jesus the Christ was crucified aged thirty.  He was not thirty, but thirty-three; and not thirty-three but forty; nor thirty-three or forty but much older, so that he wasn't far short of fifty.

At the moment when the Lord transmitted the mystery of the New Covenant to his disciples, he was eating the passover;  and he was not eating the passover at that moment.

The brass serpent that Moses made in the desert was a "type" of the Master; and it was not his "type" but an "anti-type."  He that cut off the ear of the High Priest was Thomas; it wasn't Thomas but Peter.

At the moment of the Passion, the divinity was separated from the body of Christ; the divinity was not separated from either body or soul.

In exchange for the man who was possessed, the Lord gave his own blood to the enemy as a ransom since the enemy extorted it; in the opposing thesis, it was not the enemy but to God his father that the Christ made this offering.

The Christ was resurrected in most great and marvellous glory that he only manifested in his Transfiguration on the mountain, and after the resurrection he did not change his body to give himself the glory due to him, but made visible what he had been [already] before his death.  Thus says Cyril; the opposing opinion is that of Dionysius of Alexandria.

It was on the twelfth day of the first month that Mary annointed the Lord with myrrh in the house of Simon the leper; it was the thirteenth day when the Lord gave the mystic supper to the disciples; the fourteenth when the passion of the Saviour took place, the fifteenth when he rose from the dead and the sixteenth when he rose into heaven; or, indeed, it was not so but it was the fourteenth day when he ate the mystic supper, the fifteenth when he was crucified, the sixteenth when he was resurrected.  Or again it was not so either, but it was the thirteenth day, the Sunday, when the resurrection of the Lord took place, and he ascended into Heaven forty days later.

It was on the fifth evening at the moment when the Lord gave the mystic supper to his disciples that the sacrifice of his body began.

So far, therefore, it is the doctrines of the church and questions of a general kind that the author discusses in almost all his chapters, and most of the time he offers two opposing opinions with some contradictory witnesses and, in some cases, he can only establish a view by witnesses favourable only to a single thesis.  From here on, he deals with some special questions, eighteen in number.  For example, the opinion of Severus on the holy conductors of the churches and of the arrangements where he reflects on the words of Cyril and John in their message to Thomas, Bishop of Germanica; he does not approve of what St. Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa, said on the restoration of man, nor Papias, Bishop of Hierapolis and martyr, nor Irenaeus, the holy Bishop of Lyons, when they say that the kingdom of Heaven consists of the coming of certain material foods.23

St. Basil does not follow St. Dionysius of Alexandria on many points, above all those where the Arian heresy found an opportunity.  The author says in defense ofArius that this was not from an impious intention, but in combatting Sabellius; that he had been carried away in his remarks against the opposite heresy.  More still, concerning the Holy Spirit, he held improper opinions.  But the great Athanasius himself defends Dionysius; "Because," he says, "Dionysius never shared the opinions of Arius, nor ignored the truth; in fact he was never condemned for heresy by other bishops and never included the ideas of Arius in his teaching." 24  Theodoret also uses the same language on the subject of the said Dionysius.

The author also cites some witnesses on the attitude of Theophilus and his synod in regard to St. John Chrysostom and the opinions of Atticus and Cyril on the subject of the same very holy John of Constantinople and the reticence of the very prudent Isidore of Pelusium with regard to Theophilus and Cyril, the bishops of Alexandria, concerning St. John Chrysostom; he blames the first for their hostility towards Chrysostom, while he praises and admires him.

Severus, who undertook to criticise St. Isidore without good reason, imagines as his subject an accusation of origenism,25 and yet, conquered by the truth, spontaneously admits his error.

The author reports some suspicions that Hippolytus and Epiphanius encouraged concerning Nicholas, one of the seven deacons, whom they condemn energetically.  On the other hand the divine Ignatius and Clement, the author of the Stromateis, and Eusebius Pamphilus and Theodoret of Cyr condemn the heresy of the Nicolaitans but deny that Nocholas was connected with it.  Hippolytus and Irenaeus claim that the Letter to the Hebrews is not by Paul 26, but Clement and Eusebius and a numerous company of the other fathers count this letter among the others and say that Clement named above translated it from Hebrew.

Origen and Theognostus received the approbation of the great Athanasius of Alexandria in many of their works; Titus of Bostra and Gregory the Theologian in their letters call him the friend of virtue while Gregory of Nyssa speaks of him in favourable terms.  St. Dionysius, writing to this personage, then after his death to Theotechnus Bishop of Caesarea, praises Origen.  And Alexander, Bishop of the Holy Towns 27 and martyr, in a letter to the same Origen treats him in a very friendly manner.  Theophilus and Epiphanius reject Origen with vigour.  The author reports the suspicions of most holy Hippolytus in regard to the heresy of the Montanists as well as those of Gregory of Nyssa.

Such are the chapters concerning questions of detail.  He then returns again to more general ideas and presents some citations which attest that the soul of someone dead derives great advantage from prayers, offerings and alms given in its name; and the opposed opinion that it is not so.28

These are all the chapters that we have found assembled in the work of Gobar.

1. Also referred to in English as Stephen Gobarus, Stephanus Gobarus, and Stephan Gobar.  He lived in the 6th century, and his work is lost.  See G. Bardy, Le florilège d'Étienne Gobar, in the Revue Études Byzant., vol. 5 (1947) p. 5-30 and vol. 7 (1949) p. 51-52.  A German article on him is online at

2. sumplokh\.

3. neon.

4. Rendered 'Lord' in Henry, but Soter in Greek.

5. Greek -- ousias theias.

6. A paraphrase of 1 Cor. 2:9

7. Matt. 13:16.  This otherwise unknown citation from the lost work of Hegesippus, twn u(pomnhma&twn, or Commentaries, has attracted much more interest than the remainder of the codex.  Henry mentions that the opinion of Hegesippus on this matter is also mentioned by Gregory of Nyssa, Or. catech. 40, PG 45 c. 104D, who reports Hegesippus as saying the opposite.

In the interests of accuracy, I include some other translations and discussion of this passage from Photius which I found online.

8. Titus of Bostra, Adversus Manichaeos, I.11.  PG 18 c. 1084B.

9. John Chrysostom, In Ep. ad Eph. (On the Epistle to the Ephesians) 24, 5.  PG 72 col. 175.

10.  Greek --- ogdoos, cf. ogdoad.  Bardy suggests that this may all relate to speculations of Clement of Alexandria on the ogdoad.

11.  John 20:19, 26.  Cf. Clement of Alexandria, Adumbr. in Epist. can. In Joannis primam, I, 1.

12.  Origen, De principiis, II.11.6.  Also Homily 29 on Luke.

13.  This may be a reference to a lost passage from book 4 of Adversus Manichaeos.  The summary alone preserved of this book shows that Titus was in fact defending the New Testament against the attacks of the Manichaeans.

14.  Justin, Dialogue with Trypho 52:2, and most of the fathers think that angels took on bodies.  The opposite idea can be found in Gregory Nazianzen, Oration 38:7, Dionysius the Areopagite, The celestial hierarchy IV.1-2, and The divine hom. 7:2.

15.  Justin, Dialogue 5 and 6; Tatian, Oration against the Greeks, 13; Clement of Alexandria, Adumb. in Ep. 1 Petri. III.

16.  Origen, De principiis II.8.3.  Theodore, Healing for Greek maladies 5 (PG 83 c.941 B).

17.  Theodoret, Quaestiones in Genesim 23 (PG 80 c. 121 A-B).

18.  Plato, Timaeus p. 41 A-B.

19.  Pseudo-Justin, Cohortatio ad Graecos 33.

20.  Only a fragment of his De anima survives (PG 18 c. 613-704), which defends the complete divinity and humanity of Christ.

21.  Matthew 24:36.  Cyril of Alexandria, Treasure 22 (PG 75 c. 368D-380B).

22.  42 is what the manuscripts say; Henry states that it is in fact the 40th chapter.

23.  I found a German version of these words: "... freilich auch weder Papias, den Bischof von Hierapolis und Märtyrer, noch Irenäus, den gottgefälligen Bischof von Lyon (sc. erkennt Stephanus an), wenn sie sagen, es gebe den Genuß irgendwelcher irdischer Speisen im Reich der Himmel. [Stephanus Gobarus bei Phot. Biblioth. cod. 232 ed. Bekker p. 291]" from here.

24.  St. Athanasius devoted a tract, De sententiis Dionysii to the defense of St. Dionysius of Alexandria.

25.  Severus, Contra impium grammaticum Oratio, III.39, trad. Lebon, Louvain, 1929.

26.  Cf. codex 121 from which alone we know of this work of Hippolytus.

27.  Jerusalem.

28.  From the Oxford Movement Tracts

But he should have considered, as Stephanus Gobarus, who was as great an heretic as himself, did, that the doctors were not agreed upon the point; some of them maintaining "that the soul of every one that departed out of this life received very great profit by the prayers and oblations and alms that were performed for him;" and others, "on the contrary side, that it was not so;" (Tract 72)

[Translated from Henry.]

See also the translation by Adolf von Harnack in The "Sic et Non" of Stephanus Gobarus, from the Harvard Theological Review 16 (1923).

233. [Germanus of Constantinople, On the true and legitimate retribution]

Read a book which has the name of St. Germanus as the author, who was first chosen for Cyzicus and then was Bishop of Constantinope.1  It has as its title The Punisher or The Legitimate which are  equivalent to On the legitimate retribution to men according to the actions of their life."

The subject that defines this book which is a polemical work is to demonstrate that St. Gregory of Nyssa and his writings are free of any taint of Origenism.  In fact those to whom this silly idea of the redemption of demons and men freed from everlasting punishment is dear are those, I say, ---- because they know the man 2 by the elevation of his teaching and the abundance of his writings and because they see his distinguished conception of the faith spread among all men, ---- who have attempted to mix into his works, full of the light of salvation, informed, troubled and disastrous ideas from the dreams of Origen as part of the design to soil with heresy by a method which overturns the virtue and distinguished wisdom of the great man.

This is why, sometimes by faked additions, sometimes by their relentless efforts to pervert correct thinking, they have attempted to falsify many of his works which were beyond reproach.  It is against these that Germanus, the defender of the true faith, has directed the sword sharpended with truth and leaving his enemies mortally wounded, he makes the victory apparent and his mastery over the legion of heretics who created these pitfalls.

The author this, in the present work, is pure and... [my photocopy ends here: more when I get more]

1. St. Germanus, Patriarch of Constantinople (715-730).  The work summarised here is lost.

2. Gregory of Nyssa.

[Translated from Henry]

238. [Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews]

Read Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews. The present selection exposes what he says about Herod: the reconstruction of the temple, the way he usurped the Jewish throne, how his descendants succeeded him in power and how  this power disappeared to the benefit of an aristocracy when the high-priests took the succession from the control of the people and all the other events connected with these.1

Towards the end of the fifteenth book of his Antiquities,2 Josephus says that, in the eighteenth year of its reign, Herod rebuilt the temple of Jerusalem, originally built by king Solomon and destroyed, then rebuilt at the end of forty-six years by the returned deportees to Babylon with the assistance of Darius, the king of Persia. This temple had been famous for six hundred years; Herode destroyed the old foundations to erect others and to set up a building twice the size of that it replaced. Indeed, the temple built by the prisoners was less high in some measurements than that of Solomon.

The temple of Herod was a hundred cubits long and more than twenty high, a height which reduced with time by erosion and which the Jews thought of restoring in the time of Neron. The sanctuary was, known as Josephus, built by Herod in eighteen months and them [ has ] buildings and the enclosure which surrounded the sanctuary it were in eight years full. The stones which were used to set up the temple were white and solid; each one had twenty-five bent from length, eight top and approximately twelve thickness. Work was completed according to the plan that here. Herod had put much self-esteem in this company; he thus started by gathering all the materials; he had thousand carriages at his disposal for the transport of the stones; he had, in addition to ten thousand workmen, thousand priests who were to do the work in the Holy of Holies, because such was the number of them which he had trained to build and to work wood and he had bought for them all priestly vestments. These preparations allowed him to carry out his intention in the long term more quickly than it had been hoped for and he accepted many large marks of recognition on behalf of the people who, in addition, supported Herod badly. He sacrificed, during the completion of the temple, three hundred cows; what the other Jews offered in sacrifice, it was impossible to make the account of it.3

This Herod is the son of Antipater the Idumaean and his arab wife Cypris; it is under his reign equally that the Christ our God is born from the womb of the Virgin for the salvation of our species; in his demented rage against him, Herod did not touch the Master, but made himself the assassin of numerous little children.

In murderous cruelty it is said that he exceeded every other tyrant. His wife was Mariamme, daughter of Alexandra who was herself the daughter of the high priest Hyrcanus and her beauty never yielded to any rival. For this woman and the two children born of her, Aristobulus and Alexander, whose names were on all lips because of their beauty, their education and their physical condition as much as because they were the sons of the king, Herod, excited by the calumnies of Antipater, became the tormenter, initally of his wife,4 then of her children and, finally, of Antipater who was his son born of a prior wife. He was struck with a dreadful evil: an ulceration of the intestine tortured the poor wretch, his breathing was short and noisy, his feet were swollen with a white pus, he had terrible colics, and his rod decomposed producing worms and he suffered from a thousand other miseries. Five days after the assassination of his son Antipater, he ended his life also after having lived in all seventy years and ruled thirty-seven. This character had become king in an illegal way and against his own expectation thanks to the favour of the chief Roman Antonius who was slave to money, and thanks to the support of Augustus and to a decree of the Roman senate which confirmed him in his office.

This Herod, who was the first foreigner to reign over the Jews, contrary to their laws, had for father an Idumaean of Ascalon, son of Antipas who had first the surname of Antipas and later that of Antipater.  This man had great riches, was a great plotter, and was factious; he was on good terms with Hyrcanus, high-priest of the Jews, and in disagreement with Aristobulus, [Hyrcanus'] brother; this is why, in repeated instances, he pressured Hyrcanus to remove by all means the royal dignity which Aristobolus held and had taken up with his agreement.

This rift between the brothers was the main cause of misery for them, their family and the Jewish people; it made the kingship fall into the hands of strangers. In this quarrel, it is certain that Antipater did  much for Hyrcanus and against Aristobulus. Finally, Aristobulus and his children were taken to Rome as prisoners; Aristobulus escaped from over there and returned to regain Judaea; he was again besieged by the Romans and, with his son Antigonus -- because this last had fled Rome with his father -- he was taken and returned to Rome to be kept there in prison; he had been a king and high priest for three years and six months and he had ruled with ability and grandeur.

The office of high priest was given to Hyrcanus without the kingship: the people governed themselves and the power given to Hyrcanus was called "ethnarchy" instead of kingship. Antipater, under the pontificate of Hyrcanus, had increased his power considerably. He fought indeed at the side of the Roman Generals against those which resisted them and he had in hand the direction of Jewish affairs thanks to the complaisant inertia of Hyrcanus. Aristobulus had been drawn from his prison by Julius Caesar who had formed the intention of sending him to Syria against the partisans of Pompey, but the Pompeians took the initiative and poisoned him. Scipio, to whom Pompey had sent the son of Aristobulus, Alexander, reproached his former faults against the Romans, and  decapitated him.

After his victory over Pompey, Julius Caesar proclaimed Antipater governor of Judaea. The latter, on his arrival in the country, entrusted to his son Phasael the military government of Jerusalem and the area; his next son, Herod, who was still very young -- he had just reached its fifteenth year -- was proclaimed governor of Galilee and his youth did not prevent him from showing his skill and courage. And these actions earned Antipater in the eyes of the people as much admiration as if he had been a king; however, he did not depart from his favorable and honest attitude towards Hyrcanus the high priest. Antipater was assassinated just as life opened to him a vast career very full of fame. He was poisoned following a plot: Malchus bought his wine waiter and ordered him to put poison in Antipater's drink; this Malchus was a Jew skilful at inventing a ruse and, when he was suspected, to calm suspicion by oaths and counterfeits of friendship. Nevertheless, because apparently he found in Herod a naturally gifted adversary capable of machinations like his or more skilful than him and who sought a punishment for the assassination of his father, Malchus was stabbed to death.

Antigonus, son of Aristobulus, bribed Fabius and he obtained the support of Pompeius, son of Menaius, by his marriage -- because he had married his sister -- and some others still and he undertook to go down to Judaea. But Herod fought battle with him, defeated him and pushed him back far from the country of the Jews and he himself was accepted with adulation by the town of Jerusalem and Hyrcanus in person for his victory when he arrived. And Antoinius, the Roman leader, gave for a bribe the Jewish tetrarchies to Herod and his brother Phasael brother without Hyrcanus conceiving dissatisfaction with this. And when the people accused Herod, all that happened was that the accusers were punished instead of seeing their allegations upheld because Antoinius had been bribed and because  Hyrcanus supported Herod, because the latter had already married Mariamme his grand-daughter.

When Ptolemy Menaius had died, his son Lysanias succeeded him. Pacorus, son of the king, and Bazapharmanes, Parthian satrap, seized Syria. Lysanias, allied to the satrap, concluded a treaty out of friendship with Antigonus, son of Aristobulus, and Antigone promised to the Parthians a thousand talents and five hundred women provided that they give him the paternal kingdom that they would take from Hyrcanus and that they kill the partisans of Herod. Therefore Pacorus and Bazapharmanes brought back Antigonus; the war was declared against them by Herod and many died on both sides; Herod was most distinguished in the action. Finally, Hyrcanus and Phasael were made prisoners thanks to a false parley between the Parthians and Phasael, leading to the latters death at the enemy hands, his head was crashed to pieces against a rock and he died; Hyrcanus was retained as a prisoner. The Parthians ended up taking Jerusalem; Herod, thanks to his skill, to his speed of decision and his bravery, deservedly escaped from them and they plundered the goods of people of Jerusalem except those of Hyrcanus who had eighty talents; thus they replaced Antigonus on the paternal throne. Antigonus, so that his uncle Hyrcan did not resume his sacerdotal functions, the mutilation of part of the body forbidding the Jews to be priests, slit his ears and delivered him to the Parthians so that they take him along with them

As for Herod, he gave himself no respite, but he went initially to Malik, king of the Arabs, with the hope to find there some assistance in the name of the friendship of his father; disappointed, he went to Antonius at Brindes, the Roman leader, and from there to Rome with him; he complained of what had happened to him and about the death of his brother. He cherished the project to make the throne pass, if he could manage it, to his brother-in-law, son of a daughter of Hyrcanus, because there was not the least hope to obtain it himself considering that he was a foreigner. But Antonius and Augustus, supported by a vote of the senate, proclaimed him king of the Jews; they fought at his sides against Antigonus on several occasions and, after many massacres and many battles, they captured Antigonus; it was the Roman General Sossius who wrote this epilogue to the war; they strengthened the power of Herod more.

The Roman leader Antony, to whom Antigonus had been sent captive, proposed to keep him in irons until his triumph; but when he learned that the Jewish people revolted in hatred against Herod, he decapitated Antigonus at Antioch. Hyrcanus, when he learned that Herod was king, addressed a request to king Phraates and, as Herod had addressed them on his side, Hyrcanus was returned to his country; he hoped to obtain much from Herod. This one testified seemingly the same favour and the same respect to him as before; later, he accused him wrongfully of corruption and of treason in favour of the Arabs and put him to death aged twenty-four  and whose great kindness and peaceful mood were without equal. Aristobulus, grandson of Hyrcanus and brother of the Herod's wife Mariamme, at the instance of Alexandra, mother of his children, and Mariamme herself, was promoted high priest at the age of seventeen by Herod who, a little later had him strangled in the baths at Jericho. Such was Herod, the man whom has already been depicted earlier.

At the time of his death, Herod, with the agreement of the emperor, made his will so that his son Archelaus succeeded to him on the throne. And Caesar -- this was Augustus -- proclaimed Archelaus master of half of the country and said that he would confer the kingship on him if he learned that he exercised his office with moderation and justice; he divided the other half and established there as tetrarchs Philip and Antipater, sons of Herod also. But as Archelaus ruled the Jews with severity and in the manner of his father, his tyrannized subjects resorted to Caesar and, in the tenth year of his reign, he was deposed and condemned to reside in Vienne, in Gaul; consequently from a kingdom Judaea became a province.

Herod, the tetrarch Galilee and Peraea, son of Herod the Great, Josephus reports, took the wife of his brother Herod who was called Herodias. She also was descended from Herod the Great, being born of his son Aristobulus who Herode the Great had had put at death; she had Agrippa as a brother. Herod took her from her husband and married her. It was he who assassinated John the Precursor out of fear, says Josephus, which did not raise the people against him because all followed the lesson of John because of his exceptional virtue.5 It was under his reign also that the Passion of the Saviour took place.6

Agrippa, the descendant of the first Herod, son of Aristobulus which had been put to death, and brother of Herodias, had fallen into the midlle of innumerable adventures and vicissitudes; however, whereas he was kept in prison where Tiberius had left him at his death, he was released by the favour of Caligula and he was elected king of the tetrarchy of Philip, brother of the first Herod; he accepted also the tetrarchy of Lysanias and embarked for Judaea to the immense stupor and astonishment of all in the face of this return of fortune. Herodias, astonished like the others, suffered from it a mortal wound of desire and she ceased importuning her husband only when she had constrained him to go to Rome and to actively occupy himself to be given the throne. She left with him; Agrippa who followed them joined them at the moment when they had just disembarked. Before Caligula, he accused Herod of a constant hostility with regard to the Romans; indeed, while Tiberius was still living, he had concluded a treaty of friendship with Sejanus, an enemy of the Romans, and he now meditated to make another against them with  Artaban the king of the Parthians. He did so much and so well that instead of the kingdom of which he had dreamed, Herod was deprived of his own tetrarchy and was sent to Lyon, condemned to perpetual exile. Herodias voluntarily followed her husband into exile; Caligula joined this last tetrarchy to those of Agrippa. This Agrippa who, to distinguish him from his son, is called Agrippa the Great, reigned over the Jews, says Josephus, by filling them with his favours. It was to please them apparently that he killed with the sword James the brother of John, and that he tried to kill Peter, the leader of the Apostles, but he failed in his intention.7 Agrippa, wearing a robe embroidered with silver, spoke to the people and, while he listened without rejecting the words of the crowd which outrageously pushed  flattery to the roof of impiety, he was punished at once; indeed, there came to him a violent pain in the belly and he died five days later; it was in the fifty-fourth year of his age and in the seventh of his reign of which four had been passed under Caligula, three at the head of the tetrarchy of Philippe and the fourth with, moreover, that of Herod; the three other years had been passed under the reign of Claudius and at this point in time he had acquired further Judaea, Samaria and Caesarea which the emperor had given him. Thus Agrippa died; the "bubo" -- a bird that the Romans call thus -- had appeared five days before its death above its head; this bird had also announced the throne to him, so Josephus believes. At his death, he left four children: a boy, Agrippa, who was in his seventeenth year, and three girls: Berenice, Mariamme and Drusilla. The first was sixteen years old and she had married Herod, her paternal uncle; Mariamme was in her tenth year, Drusilla in her sixth. Without any other reason than their insane anger, the Sebastians seized them suddenly, locked up them in houses of prostitution and made them know all the affronts that one can say and those which one cannot say. Claudius was irritated by this against them without however inflicting on them a punishment appropriate for their crime.

Agrippa, son of Agrippa, after the death of his father, went to Rome; Claudius had decided to entrust the paternal kingdom to him, but, influenced by the opinions of certain people who pointed out the youth of Agrippa, he sent Phadus to control Judaea and he installed Agrippa king of Chalcis of which Herod, which had just died, had been king. After four years, he gave him also the tetrarchy of Philip and Batania, plus Trachonitis which had been the tetrarchy of Lysanias. When he had made him this gift, he removed Chalcis from him.

Agrippa gave his sister Drusilla in marriage to Azizos, king of Emesa, who was circumcised, because Epiphanius, son of Antiochus, although he had promised it, had not accepted the circumcision, leading to the rupture of the promise of marriage. Drusilla was separated from Azizos and given in marriage to Felix, governor of Judaea, who had shown himself very eager because of her beauty. As for Mariamme, he gave her to Archelaus, son of Helcias, for whom his father had intended her; it is from them that was born Berenice. After the death of Claudius, Nero his successor gave to Agrippa part of Galilee, Tiberias and Taricheia by requiring his  obeissance; he added to it Julias, a town of Perea, and the ten villages which surrounded it. It is under this Agrippa that St. Paul spoke before Festus.

After Phadus, as governor of Judaea, Cumanus was sent; after him, who had been recalled to Rome to answer a charge, Felix was sent; after him, it was Festus, then Albinus, then finally Florus. It was during the second year of his administration, because of the excessive sufferings which he inflicted on the Jews, that the war between the Jews and the Romans began; Nero was in the twelfth year of his reign.

Ananias son of Ananias took the office of high priest after having stripped Joseph of it; he was bold, daring and bold to the extreme; he was, indeed, a follower of the sect of the Sadducees and those were hard in their judgements and inclined to every audacity. Thus, this Ananias, when Festus had died in Judaea and before Albinus had entered office,assembled the Sanhedrin on his own authority and accused James, the brother of the Lord, and others with him, of disobeying the laws and he ordered their death by stoning. On top, the most moderate Jews and king Agrippa himself, deeply affected, drove him out after three years of office and put  in his place Jesus son of Damnes.

It was after the death of Aaron, brother of Moses, that his sons, and their descendants after them, followed one another in the office of high priest, because there was in force an ancestral law which prohibited whoever was not of the blood of Aaron to obtain the office of high priest. So there were, from Aaron to Phanases which was elected high priest during the war by the Jews in revolt, eighty-three years. Then, during the passage to the desert, during which the tabernacle was manufactured, to the temple which king Solomon built, there were thirteen high priests who exercised the office until their death.

The first Jewish constitution was aristocratic, then it was a monarchy and the third regime was that of the kings. From the exit of Egypt until the construction of the temple of Jerusalem, there are six hundred and twelve years. After the thirteen high priests and the construction of the temple,there were eighteen high priests consecrated in the temple from Solomon to the moment when Nabuchodonosor, king of Babylon, burned the temple and deported the Jewish people to Babylon with the high-priest Josedek. The duration of the regime of the high priests was three hundred and sixty-six years, six months and ten days and, when seventy years had passed since the captivity, Cyrus let the prisoners return in their country. One of them took the office of high priest and there were after him fifteen of his descendants until Antiochus Eupator while the people lived under a democratic regime. Their time was four hundred and eighty years

It is this Antiochus who, the first to do so, with Lysias his general, put an end to the priesthood of Onias called Menelaus by killing him in Beroea; they put in his Joacihm which was of the race of Aaron, but not of the same family. This is why Ananias, nephew of Onias, who had died, went into Egypt; he in friendship with Ptolemy Philometor and with his wife Cleopatra, built in the deme of Heliopolis in the honor of God a similar temple to that of Jerusalem and persuaded the sovereigns to make him high priest of it. As for Joachim, he died after three years of priesthood and he did not have a successor for seven years.

It was again the descendants of the children of Asamon who exerted themselves to obtain the direction of the people; they made the war with the Macedonians and elected John high priest who died after having exercised his office for seven years; his death was caused by the tricks of Tryphon; his brother Simon was his  successor. When this one had been assassinated treacherously during a banquet by his son-in-law, his son called Hyrcanus succeeded him; this last, while dying, left his office to Judas whom was called also Aristobulus; this one, in his turn, had as a heir Alexander his brother: he had died of disease and had occupied the office of high priest and the kingship -- because Judas was the first to wear the diadem -- for one year

Alexander was a king and priest for 27 years and died after having entrusted to his wife Alexandra the responsibility to elect the new high priest. This one gave the priesthood to her elder son Hyrcanus and occupied the throne herself for nine years, then died; the duration of the priesthood of Hyrcanus was the same. Indeed, after the death of their mother, the junior son who was called Aristobulus entered in conflict with his brother and he removed his office of high priest from him at the same time as  the maternal kingship reverted to him. Three years and three months after his rise, Pompey came along; he captured the town and sent Aristobulus in captivity in Rome with his children; he returned his priesthood in Hyrcanus and the entrusted the control of the people to him but he prohibited  him  from wearing the diadem; Hyrcanus ruled twenty-four years in addition to his first nine years of office.

Bazapharmanes and Pacorus, the leaders of the Parthians, made war against Hyrcanus, captured him and made Antigonus son of Aristobulus king. When he had reigned three years and three months, Sossius and Herod took his city from him and Antony took him to Antioch and decapitated him there. Herod, to whom the  Romans had entrusted the throne, did not select any more of the high priests of the descent of Asamon, but from humble families and taken simply from among the priests except for only one: Aristobulus, son of a daughter of Hyrcanus, who had been taken by the Parthians and with whose sister Mariamme lived. For fear that  Aristobulus, who was of famous family and whose personality was remarkable, might not attract the people on his side, it was arranged to make him choke in Jericho while he bathed.

In choosing the high priests, his son Archelaus proceeded like him and the Romans, who had seized the kingdom, did in the same way after him

Thus there may be counted, from the time of Herod until the capture and burning of the temple, twenty-eight high priests for a duration of approximately one hundred and seven years. Some of them exercised their office, obviously, under the reigns of Herod and Archelaus; after that, the regime was an aristocracy where the control of the people was entrusted to the priests.

1. This section is based on Antiquities XIV-XX, as Photius goes back into the origins of the reign of Herod.

2. In fact chapter 11, which is the last in book XV.

3. Although the text is a summary, it contains many exact quotations in Cod. 238 from Antiquities which indicates attentive reading.  Some scholia have found their way into the text.

4. In fact Josephus does not make Antipater responsible for the death of Mariamne. (cf. XV, 202-236).

5. XVIII, 116-119.

6. Henry writes: "No editor of Josephus has paid attention to this phrase.  It is not in the author.  The fact that, as I wrote earlier, Photius is not astonished by the silence of Josephus on the Christ leads me to believe that he found this in his text or an interlinear remark had slipped into it and passed as a phrase of Josephus."  He refers here to the statement of Photius in his review of Justus of Tiberias.

7. Henry writes: "Given strangely to Josephus.  The fact is related in Acts 12, 1-18, but I hesitate to believe that Photius has introduced this mention into his summary himself, because, I repeat, he nowhere remarks as he did for Justus of Tiberias that Josephus says nothing of Christianity."

[Translated from Henry.]

This page has been accessed by ****** people since 15th July 2002.

Index of the Fathers Index About these pages