ܕܡܪܥܝܬܐ ܕܐܘܚܕ̈ܢܐ ܡܥܪ̈ܒܝܐ ܕܐܡܝܪܟܐ
|St. Theophilus 7th Patriarch of Antioch, October 17|
Theophilos (169-182) Bishop of Antioch (in modern Turkey), and an early Christian apologist. He was originally a philosopher. Theophilus was born a pagan in Mesopotamia, not far from the Tigris and Euphrates. He began to study the Scriptures with the intention of attacking the Christian faith but was soon led to embrace Christianity by studying the Holy Scriptures, especially the prophetical books. A gifted apologist, he was the author of an Apology in three books and addressed to Autolycus (the only work of his writings to survive). It seeks to demonstrate the superiority of Christianity over the immoral myths of pagan religion. It is also noted for its development of the doctrine of the Logos (Word) as first enunciated in the Gospel of John and to express the word Triad when describing the relationship of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. (Eusebius Ecclesiastical History iv. 20; Jerome Ep. ad Algas. quaest. 6), succeeded Heros 169. His death probably occurred between 182 – 183.
He makes no reference to his office in his existing writings, nor is any other fact in his life recorded. Eusebius, however, speaks of the zeal which he and the other chief shepherds displayed in driving away the heretics who were attacking Christ's flock, with special mention of his work against Marcion (Ecclesiastical History iv. 24). His arguments, drawn almost entirely from the Old Testament, with but very scanty references to the New Testament, are largely chronological. He made contributions to the departments of Christian literature, polemics, exegetics, and apologetics. Dr. Sanday describes him as "one of the precursors of that group of writers who, from Irenaeus to Cyprian, not only break the obscurity which rests on the earliest history of the Christian church, but alike in the East and in the West carry it to the front in literary eminence, and distance all their heathen contemporaries" (Studia Biblica, p. 90). Eusebius and Jerome mention numerous works of Theophilus existing in their time. They are:
Theophilus's testimony to the Old Testament is numerous. He quoted very largely from the Pentateuch and to a smaller extent from the other historical books. His references to Psalms, Proverbs, Isaiah, and Jeremiah are copious, and he quoted from Ezekiel, Hosea and other minor prophets. His direct evidence respecting the canon of the New Testament does not go much beyond a few precepts from the Sermon on the Mount (iii. 13, 14), a possible quotation from Luke 18:27 (ii. 13), and quotations from Romans, 1Corinthians, and 1 Timothy. More important is a distinct citation from the opening of the Gospel of St. John (1:1-3), mentioning the evangelist by name, as one of the inspired men by whom the Holy Scriptures were written (ii. 22). The use of a metaphor found in 2 Peter 1:19 bears on the date of that epistle. According to Eusebius, Theophilus quoted the Book of Revelations in his work against Hermogenes; a very precarious allusion has been seen in ii. 28, cf. Revelations 12:3, 7, etc. A full index of these and other possible references to the Old and New Testament is given by Otto (Corp. Apol. Christ. ii. 353-355). Theophilus transcribes a considerable portion of Genesis chapters 1-3 with his own allegorizing comments upon the successive work of the creation week. The sun is the image of God; the moon of man, whose death and resurrection are prefigured by the monthly changes of that luminary. The first three days before the creation of the heavenly bodies are types of the Trinity -- the first place in Christian writings where that terminology is known to occur (ii. 15): i.e. "God, His Word and His Wisdom." The silence regarding his Apology in the East is remarkable.