Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature to the End of the Sixth Century/Georgius (3), bp. of Laodicea

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Georgius (3), bp. of Laodicea ad mare in Syria Prima (335–347), who took part in the Trinitarian controversies of the 4th cent. At first an ardent admirer of the teaching of Arius and associated with Eusebius of Nicomedia, he subsequently became a semi-Arian, but seems ultimately to have united with the Anomoeans, whose uncompromising opponent he had once been, and to have died professing their tenets (Newman, Arians, pt. ii. p. 275). He was a native of Alexandria. In early life he devoted himself with considerable distinction to the study of philosophy (Philost. H. E. viii. 17). He was ordained presbyter by Alexander, bp. of Alexandria (ib.; Eus. Vit. Const. iii. 62). Having gone to Antioch, he endeavoured to mediate between Arius and the Catholic body. To the Arians he shewed how, by a sophistical evasion based on I. Cor. xi. 12 (τὰ δὲ πάντα ἐκ τοῦ Θεοῦ), they might accept the orthodox test Θεὸν ἐκ Θεοῦ (Socr. H. E. ii. 45; Athan. de Synod. p. 887). The attempt at reconciliation completely failed, and resulted in his deposition and excommunication by Alexander, on the ground of false doctrine and of the open and habitual irregularities of his life (Athan. ib. p. 886; Apol. ii. p. 728; de Fug. p. 718; Theod. H. E. ii. 9). Athanasius styles him "the most wicked of all the Arians," reprobated even by his own party (de Fug. 718). After his excommunication at Alexandria, he sought admission among the clergy of Antioch, but was steadily rejected by Eustathius (Athan. Hist. Arian. p. 812). On this he retired to Arethusa, where he acted as presbyter, and, on the expulsion of Eustathius, was welcomed back to Antioch by the dominant Arian faction. He was appointed bp. of Laodicea on the death of the Arian Theodotus (Athan. de Synod. p. 886; Or. i. p. 290; Soz. H. E. vi. 25). As bishop he took a leading part in the successive synods summoned by the Arian faction against Athanasius. He was at the councils of Tyre and Jerusalem in 335 (Athan. Apol. ii. p. 728; Eus. Vit. Const. iv. 43), and that of the Dedication at Antioch in 341 (Soz. H. E. iii. 5). Fear kept him from the council of Sardica in 347, where the bishops unanimously deposed him and many others as having been previously condemned by Alexander, and as holding Arian opinions (Theod. H. E. iii. 9; Labbe, Concil. ii. 678; Athan. Apol. ii. p. 765; de Fug. p. 718). Of this deposition George took no heed, and in 358, when Eudoxius, the newly appointed bp. of Antioch, openly sided with Aetius and the Anomoeans, George earnestly appealed to Macedonius of Constantinople and other bishops, who were visiting Basil at Ancyra to consecrate a newly erected church, to lose no time in summoning a council to condemn the Anomoean heresy and eject Aetius. His letter is preserved by Sozomen (H. E. iv. 13; Labbe, Concil. ii. 790). At Seleucia, in 359, when the semi-Arian party was split into two, George headed the more numerous faction opposed to that of Acacius and Eudoxius, whom, with their adherents, they deposed (Socr. H. E. ii. 40). On the expulsion of Anianus from the see of Antioch, George was mainly responsible for the election of Meletius, believing him to hold the same opinions as himself. He was speedily undeceived, for on his first entry into Antioch Meletius startled his hearers by an unequivocal declaration of the truth as laid down at Nicaea. Indignant at being thus entrapped, George and his fellows lost no time in securing the deposition and expulsion of a bishop of such uncompromising orthodoxy (Theod. H. E. ii. 31; Philost. H. E. v. 1; Socr. H. E. ii. 44; Soz. H. E. iv. 28). Gregory Nyssen mentions a letter by George relating to Arius (in Eunom. i. 28), and Socrates quotes a panegyric composed by him on the Arian Eusebius of Emesa, who was his intimate friend and resided with him at Laodicea after his expulsion from Emesa and by whose intervention at Antioch he was restored to his see (Socr. H. E. i. 24, ii. 9). He was also the author of some treatises against heresy, especially that of the Manicheans (Theod. Haer. Fab. i. 28 ; Phot. Bibl. c. 85; Niceph. H. E. vi. 32).

[E.V.]