Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature to the End of the Sixth Century/Maximus, bp. of Jerusalem
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Maximus, bp. of Jerusalem
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Maximus (10), bp. of Jerusalem, the 40th in succession from the apostles, succeeded Macarius on his death, a.d. 336. He had been a confessor in one of the persecutions (Theod. H. E. ii. 26)—according to Philostorgius (H. E. iii. 12) that of Maximian—in which he had lost one eye and had the sinews of one arm and one thigh severed while still serving as a presbyter at Jerusalem. He appears to have had no strength of character, being honest but timid, his simplicity making him the tool of the stronger and more designing. His career is consequently inconsistent. He attended the council of Tyre, a.d. 335, being admitted to a seat, together with Marcellus of Ancyra, Asclepas of Gaza, and others, as among those least committed to the cause of Athanasius, whose presence would give an air of impartiality to its deliberations, whom, also for their close vicinity, it would not have been decent to exclude (De Broglie, L’Eglise et l’Empire, ii. 326). The part he took is variously represented. According to Socrates (H. E. ii. 8) and Sozomen (H. E. iii. 6), he assented to the deposition of Athanasius. Rufinus, however (H. E. i. 17), records the dramatic incident that the aged confessor Paphnutius of the Thebaid, whose mutilated form had attracted so much attention at Nicaea, when he saw Maximus vacillating, took him by the hand and led him over to the small band of Athanasius's supporters, saying that it did not become those who bore the tokens of their sufferings for the faith to consort with its adversaries. Sozomen, who here, as elsewhere, is not consistent, records the same incident (H. E. ii. 25). We know little of the part taken by Maximus in the Arian troubles between the council of Tyre, a.d. 335, and that of Sardica. But if he had refused complicity when the solemn recognition of Arius was made by the 200 bishops assembled for the dedication of Constantine's church at the council of Jerusalem, it could hardly fail to have been recorded. The silence of all historians throws doubt on Rufinus's statement that Maximus remained always faithful to the cause of Athanasius. He, however, refused to attend the council of the Dedication assembled by the Eusebians at Antioch, a.d. 341, at which the sentence of the council of Tyre against Athanasius, to which he had been an assenting party, was confirmed. On this occasion he had been put on his guard in time; and, conscious of his weakness, discreetly kept away, fearing lest he might, as at Tyre, be carried away (συναρπαγείς) against his will and led to acquiesce in measures of which he would afterwards repent (Socr. H. E. ii. 8; Soz. H. E. iii. 6). At Sardica he was once more on the orthodox side and his name stands first of the Palestinian bishops who signed the synodical letters (Athan. Apolog. I. ad Const. p. 768). A little later he warmly welcomed Athanasius when passing through Jerusalem to resume his seat at Alexandria, summoning an assemblage of bishops to do honour to him, by the whole of whom, with two or three exceptions, Athanasius was solemnly received into communion. Congratulatory letters on the recovery of their chief pastor were written to the Egyptian bishops, and Maximus was the first to affix his signature (Socr. H. E. ii. 24; Soz. H. E. 21, 22; Athan. Apol. I. ad Const. p. 775
- Hist. Arian. ad Solit. § 25; Labbe. Concil.
ii. 92, 625, 679). Jerome states that Maximus died in possession of his bishopric, a.d. 350 or 351, and that Cyril was appointed to the vacant see.