Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series II/Volume II/Socrates/Book VI/Chapter 11
Chapter XI.—Of Severian and Antiochus: their Disagreement from John.
The odium against John Chrysostom was considerably increased by another additional event as follows: two bishops flourished at that time, Syrians by birth, named Severian and Antiochus; Severian presided over the church at Gabala, a city of Syria, and Antiochus over that of Ptolemaïs in Phœnicia. They were both renowned for their eloquence; but although Severian was a very learned man, he did not succeed in using the Greek language perfectly; and so while speaking Greek he betrayed his Syrian origin. Antiochus came first to Constantinople, and having preached in the churches for some time with great zeal and ability, and having thus amassed a large sum of money,
he returned to his own church. Severian hearing that Antiochus had collected a fortune by his visit to Constantinople, determined to follow his example. He therefore exercised himself for the occasion, and having composed a number of sermons, set out for Constantinople. Being most kindly received by John, to a certain point, he soothed and flattered the man, and was himself no less beloved and honored by him: meanwhile his discourses gained him great celebrity, so that he attracted the notice of many persons of rank, and even of the emperor himself. And as it happened at that time that the bishop of Ephesus died, John was obliged to go to Ephesus for the purpose of ordaining a successor. On his arrival at that city, as the people were divided in their choice, some proposing one person, and some another, John perceiving that both parties were in a contentious mood, and that they did not wish to adopt his counsel, he resolved without much ado to end their dispute by preferring to the bishopric a certain Heraclides, a deacon of his own, and a Cypriot by descent. And thus both parties desisting from their strife with each other had peace.
Now as this detention [at Ephesus] was lengthened, Severian continued to preach at Constantinople, and daily grew in favor with his hearers. Of this John was not left ignorant, for he was promptly made acquainted with whatever occurred, Serapion, of whom we have before spoken,
communicating the news to him and asserting that the church was being troubled by Severian; thus the bishop was aroused to a feeling of jealousy. Having therefore among other matters deprived many of the Novatians and Quartodecimans of their churches, he returned to Constantinople.
Here he resumed himself the care of the churches under his own especial jurisdiction. But Serapion’s arrogance no one could bear; for thus having won John’s unbounded confidence and regard, he was so puffed up by it that he treated every one with contempt. And on this account also animosity was inflamed the more against the bishop. On one occasion when Severian passed by him, Serapion neglected to pay him the homage due to a bishop, but continued seated [instead of rising], indicating plainly how little he cared for his presence. Severian, unable to endure patiently this [supposed] rudeness and contempt, said with a loud voice to those present, ‘If Serapion should die a Christian, Christ has not become incarnate.’ Serapion, taking occasion from this remark, publicly incited Chrysostom to enmity against Severian: for suppressing the conditional clause of the sentence, ‘If Serapion die a Christian,’ and saying that he had made the assertion that ‘Christ has not become incarnate,’ he brought several witnesses of his own party to sustain this charge. But on being informed of this the Empress Eudoxia severely reprimanded John, and ordered that Severian should be immediately recalled from Chalcedon in Bithynia. He returned forthwith; but John would hold no intercourse whatever with him, nor did he listen to any one urging him to do so, until at length the Empress Eudoxia herself, in the church called The Apostles, placed her son Theodosius, who now so happily reigns, but was then quite an infant, before John’s knees, and adjuring
him repeatedly by the young prince her son, with difficulty prevailed
upon him to be reconciled to Severian. In this manner then these men
were outwardly reconciled; but they nevertheless continued cherishing a
rancorous feeling toward each other. Such was the origin of the
animosity [of John] against Severian.
- The offerings of the congregations seem to have been divided usually among the officiating clergymen. Cf. Bingham, Christ. Antiq. V. 4. 1.
- In another version of this eleventh chapter of the sixth book, appended at the end of the sixth book in the Greek text of Bright, instead of the sentence beginning ‘And thus both parties,’ &c. is found the following more consistent statement: ‘Inasmuch, however, as on this account a tumult arose at Ephesus, on the ground that Heraclides was not worthy of the bishopric, it became necessary for John to remain in Ephesus for a long time.’
- The alternative version inserts here the following sentence: ‘And who was very much beloved by John and had been intrusted with the whole care of the episcopal administration, on account of his piety and faithfulness and watchfulness in respect to details of every sort, and diligence in matters pertaining to the interests of the bishop.’
- From this point to within one or two sentences of the end of the chapter the parallel version is so different at times that it will be well to insert it entire here for the purpose of comparison. It runs thus: ‘Not long afterward John came to Constantinople and assumed himself the churches which belonged to his jurisdiction. But between Serapion, the deacon, and Severian there had arisen a certain coolness; Serapion was opposed to Severian because the latter seemed desirous of excelling John in public speaking, and Severian was jealous of Serapion because the bishop John favored him, and the care of the bishopric had been intrusted to him. They being thus disposed toward one another, it happened that the evil of hatred was increased from the following cause. As Severian was passing by on one occasion Serapion did not render him the homage due to a bishop, but he continued sitting; whether because he had not noticed him, as he afterwards affirmed upon oath before a council, or because he cared little for him, being himself the vicegerent of a bishop, as Severian asserted, I am unable to say; God only knows. At the time, however, Severian did not tolerate the contempt; but immediately, and in anticipation of a public investigation before a council, he condemned Serapion upon oath, and not only declared him deposed from the dignity of the diaconate, but also put him out of the church. John upon learning this was very much grieved. As the matter afterwards was investigated by a council and Serapion defended himself declaring that he had not perceived [the approach of the bishop], and summoned witnesses to the fact, the common verdict of the assembled bishops was in favor of acquitting him and urging Severian to accept the apology of Serapion. The Bishop John, for his part, to satisfy Severian, suspended Serapion from the diaconate for a week; although he used him in all his affairs as his right hand, because he was very keen and diligent in ecclesiastical disputation. Severian however was not satisfied with these measures, but used all means to effect the permanent deposition of Serapion from the diaconate and his excommunication. John was extremely grieved at these words and arose from the council, leaving the adjudication of the case to the bishops present, saying to them, “Do you examine the matter in hand and render judgment according to your own conclusions; as for me I resign my part in the arbitration between them.” These things having been said by John as he arose, the council likewise arose and left the case, as it stood, blaming Severian the more for not yielding to the request of the Bishop John. After this John never received Severian into a private interview; but advised him to return to his own country, communicating to him the following message: “It is not expedient, Severian,” said he, “that the parish intrusted to you should remain for so long without care and bereft of a bishop; wherefore hasten and take charge of your churches, and do not neglect the gift which is in you.” As he now prepared for his journey and started, the Empress Eudoxia, on being informed of the facts,’ &c. From this point the variations are few, verbal, and unimportant.
- The ancients often swore by their children, especially when they wished to entreat others most earnestly. Cf. Vergil, Æneid, VI. 364, ‘Per caput hoc juro, per spem surgentis Juli.’ The form of abjuration used by Eudoxia was probably this: ‘By this little child of mine, and your spiritual son, whom I brought forth and whom you received out of the sacred font, be reconciled to Severian.’ Valesius, however, doubts the reality of this affair.