Sacred Texts  Christianity  Early Church Fathers  Index  Previous  Next 

Chapter XXXIII.—The Error of Beryllus.

1. Beryllus, 2033 whom we mentioned recently as bishop of Bostra in Arabia, turned aside from the ecclesiastical standard 2034 and attempted to introduce ideas foreign to the faith. He dared to assert that our Saviour and Lord did not pre-exist in a distinct form of being of his own 2035 before his abode among men, and that he does not possess a divinity of his own, 2036 but only that of the Father dwelling in him.

2. Many bishops carried on investigations and discussions with him on this matter, and Origen having been invited with the others, went down at first for a conference with him to ascertain his real opinion. But when he understood his views, and perceived that they were erroneous, having persuaded him by argument, and convinced him by demonstration, he brought him back to the true doctrine, and rep. 278 stored him to his former sound opinion.

3. There are still extant writings of Beryllus and of the synod held on his account, which contain the questions put to him by Origen, and the discussions which were carried on in his parish, as well as all the things done at that time.

4. The elder brethren among us 2037 have handed down many other facts respecting Origen which I think proper to omit, as not pertaining to this work. But whatever it has seemed necessary to record about him can be found in the Apology in his behalf written by us and Pamphilus, the holy martyr of our day. We prepared this carefully and did the work jointly on account of faultfinders. 2038



Beryllus, bishop of Bostra in Arabia (mentioned above, in chap. 20) is chiefly noted on account of the heresy into which he fell, and from which Origen won him back, by convincing him of his error. According to chap. 20, he was a learned and cultured man, and Jerome (de vir. ill. c. 60) says of him, gloriose rexisset ecclesiam. We do not know his dates, but we may gather from this chapter that the synod which was called on his account convened during the reign of Gordian (238–244), and apparently toward the close of the reign. Our sources for a knowledge of the heresy of Beryllus are very meager. We have only the brief passage in this chapter; a fragment of Origen’s commentary on Titus (Lommatzsch, V. 287), which undoubtedly refers to Beryllus’ error, though he is not mentioned by name; and finally, a single sentence in Jerome’s de vir. ill. c. 60 (Christum ante incarnationem regat), which, however, is apparently no more than his own interpretation of Eusebius’ words. Our sources have been interpreted very differently, some holding Beryllus to have been a Patripassian, others classing him with the Artemonites (see above, Bk. V. chap. 28). He was, at any rate, a Monarchion, and his position, not to enter here into details, seems to have been that our Lord did not pre-exist as an independent being; but that, with the incarnation, he, who had previously been identified with the πατρικὴ θεότης, became a distinct being, possessed of an independent existence (see Dorner’s Person of Christ, Div. I. Vol. II. p. 35 sq., Edinburgh edition). According to this chapter and chap. 20, Beryllus was the author of numerous treatises and epistles, which were extant in Eusebius’ time. According to Jerome (l.c.), he wrote, varia opuscula et maxime epistolas, in quibus Origeni gratias agit. Jerome reports, also, that there were extant in his time epistles of Origen, addressed to Beryllus, and a dialogue between Origen and Beryllus. All traces of these epistles and other works have perished.


τὸν ἐκκλησιαστικὸν κανόνα: i.e. the rule of faith.


μὴ προϋφεστ€ναι κατ᾽ ἰδίαν οὐσίας περιγραφήν


θεότητα ἰδίαν.


τῶν καθ᾽ ἡμας οι πρεσβύτεροι. It seems necessary here to take the word πρεσβύτερος in an unofficial sense, which is, to say the least, exceptional at this late date.


On this Defense of Origen, written jointly by Pamphilus and Eusebius, see above, p. 36.

Next: Chapter XXXIV