Sozomen

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Salminius Hermias Sozomenus [lower-alpha 1] (Greek : Σωζομενός; c. 400 – c. 450 AD), also known as Sozomen was a historian of the Christian Church.

Greek language Language spoken in Greece, Cyprus and Southern Albania

Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning more than 3000 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.

Historian person who studies and writes about the past

A historian is a person who studies and writes about the past, and is regarded as an authority on it. Historians are concerned with the continuous, methodical narrative and research of past events as relating to the human race; as well as the study of all history in time. If the individual is concerned with events preceding written history, the individual is a historian of prehistory. Some historians are recognized by publications or training and experience. "Historian" became a professional occupation in the late nineteenth century as research universities were emerging in Germany and elsewhere.

Christian Church Term used to refer to the whole group of people belonging to the Christian religious tradition

The Christian Church, also called the holy catholic church, is a Christian ecclesiological concept of a church invisible comprising all Christians. In this understanding, "Christian Church" or "catholic church" does not refer to a particular Christian denomination but to the "body" of all "believers", both defined in various ways. Other Christian traditions believe that these terms apply only to a specific concrete Christian institution, such as the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Oriental Orthodox Churches, or the Assyrian Church of the East; or to a group of institutions, as in the branch theory taught by some Anglicans.

Contents

Family and home

He was born around 400 in Bethelia, a small town near Gaza, into a wealthy Christian family of Palestine.

Gaza City Municipality type A in Gaza, State of Palestine

Gaza, also referred to as Gaza City, is a Palestinian city in the Gaza Strip, with a population of 515,556, making it the largest city in the State of Palestine. Inhabited since at least the 15th century BCE, Gaza has been dominated by several different peoples and empires throughout its history. The Philistines made it a part of their pentapolis after the Ancient Egyptians had ruled it for nearly 350 years.

Palestine (region) geographical region in the Middle East

Palestine is a geographic region in Western Asia usually considered to include Israel, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and in some definitions, parts of western Jordan.

What he has to tell us of the history of Southern Palestine was derived from oral tradition. He appears familiar with the region around Gaza, and mentions having seen Bishop Zeno of Majuma, the seaport of Gaza.

Oral tradition form of human communication wherein knowledge, art, ideas and cultural material is received, preserved and transmitted orally from one generation to another

Oral tradition, or oral lore, is a form of human communication wherein knowledge, art, ideas and cultural material is received, preserved and transmitted orally from one generation to another. The transmission is through speech or song and may include folktales, ballads, chants, prose or verses. In this way, it is possible for a society to transmit oral history, oral literature, oral law and other knowledge across generations without a writing system, or in parallel to a writing system. Religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism, for example, have used an oral tradition, in parallel to a writing system, to transmit their canonical scriptures, secular knowledge such as Sushruta Samhita, hymns and mythologies from one generation to the next.

Grandfather

Sozomen wrote that his grandfather lived at Bethelia, [1] near Gaza, and became a Christian together with his household, probably under Constantius II. A neighbor named Alaphrion was miraculously healed by Saint Hilarion who cast out a demon from Alaphrion, and, as eyewitnesses to the miracle, his family converted, along with Alaphrion's. The conversion marked a turning-point in the Christianization of southern Palestine, according to his account.

Constantius II Roman emperor

Constantius II was Roman Emperor from 337 to 361. His reign saw constant warfare on the borders against the Sasanian Empire and Germanic peoples, while internally the Roman Empire went through repeated civil wars and usurpations. His religious policies inflamed domestic conflicts that would continue after his death.

The grandfather became within his own circle a highly esteemed interpreter of Scripture. The descendants of the wealthy Alaphrion founded churches and convents in the district, and were particularly active in promoting monasticism. Sozomen himself had conversed with one of these, a very old man. He tells us that he was brought up under monkish influences and his history bears him out.

Bible Collection of religious texts in Judaism and Christianity

The Bible is a collection of sacred texts or scriptures. Varying parts of the Bible are considered to be a product of divine inspiration and a record of the relationship between God and humans by Christians, Jews, Samaritans, and Rastafarians.

Monasticism religious way of life

Monasticism or monkhood is a religious way of life in which one renounces worldly pursuits to devote oneself fully to spiritual work. Monastic life plays an important role in many Christian churches, especially in the Catholic and Orthodox traditions. Similar forms of religious life also exist in other faiths, most notably in Buddhism, but also in Hinduism and Jainism, although the expressions differ considerably. By contrast, in other religions monasticism is criticized and not practiced, as in Islam and Zoroastrianism, or plays a marginal role, as in Judaism.

Life and career

Education

Sozomen seems to have been brought up in the circle of Alaphrion and acknowledges a debt of gratitude to the monastic order. His early education was directed by the monks in his native place. It is impossible to ascertain what curriculum he followed in these monastic schools, but his writings give clear evidence of the thoroughness with which he was grounded in Greek studies.

Greek literature dates back from the ancient Greek literature, beginning in 800 BC, to the modern Greek literature of today.

As a man he retained the impressions of his youth, and his great work later was to be also a monument of his reverence for the monks in general and for the disciples of Hilarion in particular.

Lawyer

As an adult he acquired training as a lawyer. He studied law in Beirut. He then went to Constantinople to start his career as a lawyer, perhaps at the court of Theodosius II. While thus engaged he conceived, around the year 443 the project of writing a history of the Church.

Writings on Church history

Sozomen wrote two works on church history, of which only the second one is extant.

His first work covered the history of the Church, from the Ascension of Jesus to the defeat of Licinius in 323, in twelve books. His sources for it included Eusebius of Caesarea, the Clementine homilies, Hegesippus, and Sextus Julius Africanus.

Sozomen's second work continues approximately where his first work left off. He wrote it in Constantinople, around the years 440 to 443 and dedicated it to Emperor Theodosius II.

The work is structured into nine books, roughly arranged along the reigns of Roman Emperors:

Book IX is incomplete. In his dedication of the work, he states that he intended cover up to the 17th consulate of Theodosius II, that is, to 439. The extant history ends about 425. Scholars disagree on why the end is missing. Albert Guldenpenning supposed that Sozomen himself suppressed the end of his work because in it he mentioned the Empress Aelia Eudocia, who later fell into disgrace through her supposed adultery. However, it appears that Nicephorus, Theophanes, and Theodorus Lector did read the end of Sozomen's work, according to their own histories later. Therefore, most scholars believe that the work did actually come down to that year, and that consequently it has reached us only in a damaged condition.

Other writings

According to historian and scholar of Islam Michael Cook, Sozomen wrote that a group of "Saracens" (Arabs) in Palestine had adopted Jewish laws and customs after coming into contact with Jews, and who may have been (according to Cook) the forerunners of Islam and Muslims. [2]

Sources

Sozomen borrowed heavily from other sources for his work.

The source for about three-fourths of his material was the writings of Socrates Scholasticus. The literary relationship of these writers appears everywhere. [3] Valesius asserted that Sozomen read Socrates, and Robert Hussey and Guldenpenning have proved this. For example, Socrates, in I.x, relates an anecdote which he had heard, and says that neither Eusebius nor any other author reports it, yet this anecdote is found in Sozomen, I.xxii, the similarity of diction showing that the text of Socrates was the source.

The extent of this dependence cannot be accurately determined. Sozomen used the work of Socrates as a guide to sources and order. In some matters, such as in regard to the Novatians, Sozomen is entirely dependent on Socrates.

But Sozomen did not simply copy Socrates. He went back to the principal sources used by Socrates and other sources, often including more from them than Socrates did.

He used the writings of Eusebius, the first major Church historian. The Vita Constantini of Eusebius is expressly cited in the description of the vision of Constantine.

Sozomen appears also to have consulted the Historia Athanasii and also the works of Athanasius including the Vita Antonii. He completes the statements of Socrates from the Apologia contra Arianos, lix, sqq., and copies Athanasius' Adv. episcopos AEgypti, xviii-xix.

Rufinus is frequently used. Instructive in this respect is a comparison of Sozomen, Socrates, and Rufinus on the childhood of Athanasius. Rufinus is the original; Socrates expressly states that he follows Rufinus, while Sozomen knows Socrates' version, but is not satisfied with it and follows Rufinus more closely.

The ecclesiastical records used by Sozomen are principally taken from Sabinus, to whom he continually refers. In this way he uses records of the synods from that of Tyre (335) to that of Antioch in Caria (367).

For the period from Theodosius I, Sozomen stopped following the work of Socrates and followed Olympiodorus of Thebes, who was probably Sozomen's only secular source. A comparison with Zosimus, who also made use of Olympiodorus, seems to show that the whole ninth book of Sozomen, is mostly an abridged extract from Olympiodorus.

Sozomen used many other authorities. These include sources relating to Christianity in Persia, monkish histories, the Vita Martini of Sulpicius Severus, the works of Hilarius, logoi of Eustathius of Antioch, the letter of Cyril of Jerusalem to Constantius concerning the miraculous vision of the cross, and Palladius.

He also used oral tradition, adding some of the most distinctive value to his work.

Publication

The work of Sozomen was first printed ( editio princeps ) by Robert Estienne at Paris in 1544, on the basis of Codex Regius, 1444. There are later editions by Christophorson and Ictrus (Cologne, 1612).

A noteworthy edition was done by Valesius (Cambridge, 1720), who used, besides the text of Stephens, a Codex Fucetianus (now at Paris, 1445), "Readings" of Savilius, and the indirect traditions of Theodorus Lector and of Cassiodorus-Epiphanius.

Hussey's posthumous edition (largely prepared for the press by John Barrow, who wrote the preface) is important, since in it the archetype of the Codex Regius, the Codex Baroccianus 142, is collated for the first time. But this manuscript was written by various hands and at various times and therefore is not equally authoritative in all its parts.

There is an excellent English translation published in 1846 (London, Samuel Bagster and sons), translator unnamed, later reprinted and credited to Chester David Hartranft (1839-1914), with a learned though somewhat diffuse introduction, in the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers , II (published New York, 1890). (This text is available on-line at the Christian Classics Ethereal Library.)

Notes

  1. Variations on his name include, Salamanes and Salaminius.

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References

Citations

  1. Sozomenus, Historia Ecclesiastica, Bk.1, Chap. 15
  2. Cook, The Koran, 2000: p.141
  3. For a recent discussion of their relationship see H. Leppin, "The Church Historians (I): Socrates, Sozomenus, and Theodoretus", in Gabriele Marasco, Greek & Roman Historiography in Late Antiquity, Brill, 2003, pp. 219-254.

Sources

On ethnic identity and ecclesiastical politics in Sozomen, see: Argov, Eran I. (2005). "A Church Historian in Search of an Identity: Aspects of Early Byzantine Palestine in Sozomen's Historia Ecclesiastica". Zeitschrift für Antikes Christentum. 9: 367–396.

The English translation of the Ecclesiastical History ascribed to Chester D. Hartranft is available online:

The English translation of the Ecclesiastical History by Edward Walford as originally published in the Bohn Ecclesiastical Library, is available in book form: