Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Joannes Maxentius

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Joannes Maxentius, leader of the so-called Scythian monks, appears in history at Constantinople in 519 and 520. These monks adapted the formula: "One of the Trinity suffered in the flesh" to exclude Nestorianism and Monophysitism, and they sought to have the works of Faustus of Riez condemned as being tainted with Pelagianism. On both these points they met with opposition. John Maxentius presented an appeal to the papal legates than at Constantinople (Ep. ad legatos sedis apostolicae, P. G. LXXXVI, i, 75-86); but it failed to bring forth a favourable decision. Some of the monks (not Maxentius, however) proceeded, therefore, to Rome to lay the case before Pope Hormisdas. As the latter delayed his decision, they addressed themselves to some African bishops, banished to Sardinia, and St. Fulgentius, answering in the name of these prelates, warmly endorsed their cause (Fulg. ep., xvii in P.L., LXV, 451-93). Early in August, 520, the monks left Rome. Shortly after, 13 August, 520, Hormisdas addressed a letter to the African bishop, Possessor, then at Constantinople, in which he severely condemned the conduct of the Scythian monks, also declaring that the writings of Faustus were not received among the authoritative works of the Fathers and that the sound doctrine on grace was contained in the works of St. Augustine (Hormisdae ep., cxxiv in Thiel, p. 926). Maxentius assailed this letter in the strongest language as a document written by heretics and circulated under the pope's name (Ad epistulam Hormisdae responsio, P. G. LXXXVI, i, 93-112). This is the last trace of the Scythian monks and their leader in history. The identification of John Maxentius with the priest John to whom Fulgentius addressed his "De veritate praedestinationis etc" and with the priest and archminandrite, John, to whom the African bishops sent their "Epistula synodica", rests on a baseless assumption. Maxentius is also the author of: (1) two dialogues against the Nestorians; (2) twelve anathematisms against the Nestorians; (3) a treatise against the Acephali (Monophysites). As to the "Professio de Christo", printed as a separate work, it is but a part of the "Epistola ad legatos sedis apostolicae". His works, originally written in Latin, have reached us in a rather unsatisfactory condition. They were first published by Cochlaeus (Basle and Hagenau, 1520), reprinted in P.G., LXXXVI, i, 75-158.

NORIS, Opera Omnia (Verona, 1729), I, 474-504; III, 775-942; LOOFS, Leontius von Byzanz, 228-61, in Texte unde Untersuch, III (Leipzig, 1887); DAVIDS in Dict. Christ. Biog., s. v. Maxentius (4); BARDENHEWER, Patrology, tr. SHAHAN (St. Louis, 1908), 548-49.

N.A. WEBER