Amphilochius of Iconium

Last updated
Saint Amphilochius bishop of Iconium, from the Menologion of Basil II Amphilochius of Iconium (Menologion of Basil II).jpg
Saint Amphilochius bishop of Iconium, from the Menologion of Basil II

Amphilochius of Iconium (Greek : Ἀµφιλόχιος Ἰκονίου) was a Christian bishop of the fourth century, son of a Cappadocian family of distinction, born, perhaps at Caesarea, ca. 339/340, died probably 394–403. [1] His father was an eminent lawyer, and his mother Livia was remarkable for gentleness and wisdom. [1] He is venerated as a saint on Nov. 22. [2] In the Orthodox church, he is venerated on Nov. 23. [3]


He was probably first cousin to Gregory of Nazianzus, and was brought up in the peculiarly religious atmosphere of the Christian aristocracy of his native province. He studied law in Antioch with Libanius, practised at Constantinople, but soon retired to lead a religious life in the vicinity of his friend and relative, the "theologian" of Nazianzus. [1]

He was soon drawn within the circle of influence around Basil of Caesarea, and seems to have been for a while a member of the Christian "City of the Poor" that Basil had built at Cæsarea. Early in 374 he was bishop of the important see of Iconium, probably placed there by Basil, whom he continued to aid in Cappadocian ecclesiastical affairs until Basil's death (379). Thenceforth he remained in close relations with Gregory of Nazianzus, and accompanied him to the Council of Constantinople (381), where Jerome met and conversed with him (De Vir. Ill., c. 133). [1]

In the history of theology he occupies a place of prominence for his defence of the divinity of the Holy Spirit against the Macedonians. It was to him that Basil dedicated his work "On the Holy Spirit". He wrote a similar work, now lost. We know, however, that he read it to Jerome on the occasion of their meeting at Constantinople. [1]

His attitude towards Arianism is illustrated by the well-known anecdote concerning his audience with Theodosius I and his son Arcadius. When the Emperor rebuked him for ignoring the presence of his son, he reminded him that the Lord of the universe abhorreth those who are ungrateful towards His Son, their Saviour and Benefactor. [1]

He was very energetic against the Messalians, and contributed to the extirpation of that group. [1] Basil, who appointed him to his bishopric, had a high opinion of Amphilochius. In the next generation Theodoret described him in very flattering terms, [4] and he is quoted by councils as late as 787. [1] Jerome also includes him as one of the Cappadocians in a list of Christian exemplars of secular erudition. [5] Because Amphilochius only started to study theology after he became a bishop, his work retains a certain simplicity. According to Georges Florovsky, it becomes evident in his theological writing that he has no philosophical background or particular interest in it. His writing was contingent upon his needs as a pastor and teacher in the struggle against heresy. That said, Florovsky also praises his writing as "inspired by a calm and sincere faith" and his homiletic use of rhetoric, describing it as "reminiscent of Gregory the Theologian." [6]


Most of Amphilochius' work has been lost. Eight homilies have survived, including the oldest known sermon on the Feast of the Purification of the Lord (In Occursum Domini). [7] The Oration at Midpentecost (In Mesopentocostem), which refers to the feast of Mid-Pentecost is spurious. [8] His style and concern for historical accuracy puts Amphilochius in the place of predecessor to John Chrysostom, who may have been influenced by him. [9] In addition to his homilies, there is also an epistle to the council of Iconium of 376, and a didactic work (of questionable authenticity) Epistula Iambica ad Seleucum. The spurious "Iambics to Seleucus" offers an early and important catalogue of the canonical writings; other spurious fragments, current under his name, are taken from scriptural discourses, dogmatic letters and controversial writings. [10] [1] The polemical treatise Against False Asceticism of Amphilochius of Iconium is expressly directed against the beliefs and practices of the ‘Encratites’ and ‘Apotactites’ of rural Lycaonia. It seems to be written in the second half of the 370s.

His only genuine extant work is, according to Bardenhewer, [11] the "Epistola Synodica", a letter against the Macedonian heresy in the name of the bishops of Lycaonia, and probably addressed to the bishops of Lycia. [12] [1]


Amphilochius' theology typically follows in the footsteps of his Cappadocian peers, and he defines the Trinity by the hypostatic properties of the Son as generation and the Spirit as procession. He does, however, innovate in designating the hypostases with a new phrase, "mode of being" (τρόποι τῆς ὺπάρξεως). This expression had not been used by the Cappadocian Fathers and was a step toward understanding the Trinity with language not aimed at essence, but relations. By the beginning of the fifth century, this phrase was generally accepted in theological uses. [13]

Besides his Trinitarian thought, Amphilochius also anticipated later theological usage with his Christological terminology of "hypostasis." In his insistence on the human nature of Christ, he was led to conclude that Christ had two wills and two natures. [14]

See also

Related Research Articles

Gregory of Nazianzus 4th-century Christian saint, bishop, and theologian

Gregory of Nazianzus, also known as Gregory the Theologian or Gregory Nazianzen, was a 4th-century Archbishop of Constantinople, and theologian. He is widely considered the most accomplished rhetorical stylist of the patristic age. As a classically trained orator and philosopher he infused Hellenism into the early church, establishing the paradigm of Byzantine theologians and church officials. Saint Gregory was saint patron of medieval Bosnia before the Catholic conquest when he was replaced by Saint Gregory the Great.

Gregory of Nyssa 4th-century bishop of Nyssa, Asia Minor

Gregory of Nyssa, also known as Gregory Nyssen, was bishop of Nyssa from 372 to 376 and from 378 until his death. He is venerated as a saint in Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, Anglicanism, and Lutheranism. Gregory, his elder brother Basil of Caesarea, and their friend Gregory of Nazianzus are collectively known as the Cappadocian Fathers.

Year 340 (CCCXL) was a leap year starting on Tuesday of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Acindynus and Valerius. The denomination 340 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.

Didymus the Blind

Didymus the Blind was a Christian theologian in the Church of Alexandria, where he taught for about half a century. He was a student of Origen, and, after the Second Council of Constantinople condemned Origen, Didymus's works were not copied. Many of his writings are lost, but some of his commentaries and essays survive. He was intelligent and a good teacher, but not especially original.

Eunomius of Cyzicus

Eunomius, one of the leaders of the extreme or "anomoean" Arians, who are sometimes accordingly called Eunomians, was born at Dacora in Cappadocia or at Corniaspa in Pontus. early in the 4th century.

Basil of Caesarea 4th-century Christian bishop, theologian, and saint

Basil of Caesarea, also called Saint Basil the Great, was the bishop of Caesarea Mazaca in Cappadocia, Asia Minor. He was an influential theologian who supported the Nicene Creed and opposed the heresies of the early Christian church, fighting against both Arianism and the followers of Apollinaris of Laodicea. His ability to balance his theological convictions with his political connections made Basil a powerful advocate for the Nicene position.

Cappadocian Fathers Group of early of Christian chaplains

The Cappadocian Fathers, also traditionally known as the Three Cappadocians, are Basil the Great (330–379), who was bishop of Caesarea; Basil's younger brother Gregory of Nyssa, who was bishop of Nyssa; and a close friend, Gregory of Nazianzus (329–389), who became Patriarch of Constantinople. The Cappadocia region, in modern-day Turkey, was an early site of Christian activity, with several missions by Paul in this region.

Peter of Sebaste was a bishop, taking his usual name from the city of his bishopric, Sebaste in Lesser Armenia. He was the younger brother of Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nyssa, the famous Christian jurist Naucratius, and Macrina the Younger. He is also known as Peter of Sebasteia.

In 4th century Christianity, the Anomoeans, and known also as Heterousians, Aetians, or Eunomians, were a sect that upheld an extreme form of Arianism, that Jesus Christ was not of the same nature (consubstantial) as God the Father nor was of like nature (homoiousian), as maintained by the semi-Arians.

The Patrologia Graeca is an edited collection of writings by the Christian Church Fathers and various secular writers, in the Greek language. It consists of 161 volumes produced in 1857–1866 by J. P. Migne's Imprimerie Catholique, Paris. It includes both the Eastern Fathers and those Western authors who wrote before Latin became predominant in the Western Church in the 3rd century, e.g. the early writings collectively known as the Apostolic Fathers, such as the First and Second Epistle of Clement, the Shepherd of Hermas, Eusebius, Origen, and the Cappadocian Fathers Basil the Great, Gregory of Nazianzus, and Gregory of Nyssa.


Nazianzus or Nazianzos, also known as Nandianulus, was a small town of ancient Cappadocia, and in the late Roman province of Cappadocia Tertia, located 24 Roman miles to the southeast of Archelais. In the Jerusalem Itinerary it is miswritten as Nathiangus.

Three Holy Hierarchs

The Three Hierarchs of Eastern Christianity refers to Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom. They were highly influential bishops of the early church who played pivotal roles in shaping Christian theology. In Eastern Christianity they are also known as the Three Great Hierarchs and Ecumenical Teachers, while in Roman Catholicism the three are honored as Doctors of the Church. The three are venerated as saints in Eastern Orthodoxy, Catholicism, Anglicanism, and other Christian churches.

The Arian controversy was a series of Christian theological disputes that arose between Arius and Athanasius of Alexandria, two Christian theologians from Alexandria, Egypt. The most important of these controversies concerned the substantial relationship between God the Father and God the Son.

The Pneumatomachi, also known as Macedonians or Semi-Arians in Constantinople and the Tropici in Alexandria, were an anti-Nicene Creed sect which flourished in the countries adjacent to the Hellespont during the latter half of the fourth, and the beginning of the fifth centuries. They denied the godhood of the Holy Ghost, hence the Greek name Pneumatomachi or 'Combators against the Spirit'.

Anthimus of Tyana was a Christian bishop of the Cappadocian city of Tyana. Tyana increased in prominence when Roman Emperor Valens divided Cappadocia into two provinces and Tyana became the capital of Cappadocian Secundus in 371. This led to the conflict with Basil of Caesarea, who had only become bishop there in 370, for which Anthimus of Tyana is best known.

Christianity in the 5th century

In the 5th century in Christianity, there were many developments which led to further fracturing of the State church of the Roman Empire. Emperor Theodosius II called two synods in Ephesus, one in 431 and one in 449, that addressed the teachings of Patriarch of Constantinople Nestorius and similar teachings. Nestorius had taught that Christ's divine and human nature were distinct persons, and hence Mary was the mother of Christ but not the mother of God. The Council rejected Nestorius' view causing many churches, centered on the School of Edessa, to a Nestorian break with the imperial church. Persecuted within the Roman Empire, many Nestorians fled to Persia and joined the Sassanid Church thereby making it a center of Nestorianism. By the end of the 5th century, the global Christian population was estimated at 10-11 million. In 451 the Council of Chalcedon was held to clarify the issue further. The council ultimately stated that Christ's divine and human nature were separate but both part of a single entity, a viewpoint rejected by many churches who called themselves miaphysites. The resulting schism created a communion of churches, including the Armenian, Syrian, and Egyptian churches, that is today known as Oriental Orthodoxy. In spite of these schisms, however, the imperial church still came to represent the majority of Christians within the Roman Empire.

Theological Library of Caesarea Maritima

The Theological Library of Caesarea Maritima, or simply the Library of Caesarea, was the library of the Christians of Caesarea Maritima in Palestine in ancient times.

Church Fathers Group of ancient and influential Christian theologians and writers

The Church Fathers, Early Church Fathers, Christian Fathers, or Fathers of the Church were ancient and influential Christian theologians and writers who established the intellectual and doctrinal foundations of Christianity. There is no definitive list. The historical period during which they flourished is referred to by scholars as the Patristic Era ending approximately around AD 700.

Paris Gregory

The Paris Gregory is an illuminated manuscript of the Homilies of Gregory of Nazianzus commissioned in Constantinople by Patriarch Photios I as a commemoration to the emperor Basil I between 879 and 883. The illustrations from the manuscript are held today in the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris as part of their collection of Greek manuscripts.

Metropolis of Iconium

The Metropolis of Iconium is a metropolitan bishopric of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople located at Iconium in Asia Minor, in the region of Lycaonia. It flourished through the Roman and Byzantine empires, and survived into the Ottoman Empire until the early 20th century and the Greco-Turkish population exchange, which led to the disappearance of the local Christian population.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Shahan, Thomas Joseph (1907). "Amphilochius of Iconium"  . In Herbermann, Charles (ed.). Catholic Encyclopedia . 1. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  4. Hist. Eccl., IV, x; V, xvi.
  5. Jerome, Epistle LXX
  6. Georges Florovsky, The Eastern Fathers of the Fourth Century, p.234.
  7. Which is deemed spurious anyway, by M. Sachot, L'homélie pseudo-chrysostomienne sur la Transfiguration CPG 4724, BHG 1975: Contextes liturgiques, restitution à Léonce, prêtre de Constantinople, édition critique et commentée, traduction et études connexes (Frankfurt am Main - Bern 1981) (Publications Universitaires Européennes s. XXIII: Théologie, 151).
  8. See Sachot.
  9. Georges Florovsky, The Eastern Fathers of the Fourth Century, pp.233-234.
  10. P.G., XXXIX, 13-130.
  11. Patrologie, p. 249.
  12. Goldhorn, S. Basil., Opp. Sel. Dogm., 630-635.
  13. Georges Florovsky, The Eastern Fathers of the Fourth Century, pp.234-235.
  14. Georges Florovsky, The Eastern Fathers of the Fourth Century, p. 235.