Saint NameMarutha, bishop of Martyropolis/Maipherqat, ob. c. 420 : S01683
Saint Name in SourceΜαρουθᾶς
Type of EvidenceLiterary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)
Evidence not before439
Evidence not after446
Activity not before439
Activity not after446
Place of Evidence - RegionConstantinople and region
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcConstantinople
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Constantinople
Major author/Major anonymous workSocrates
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsTransmission, copying and reading saint-related texts
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesEcclesiastics - bishops
SourceSocrates ‘Scholasticus’ was born between 380 and 390 in Constantinople, where he probably spent his entire life. He was trained as a grammarian and rhetorician under the sophist Troilos of Side. From his work, Socrates emerges as a classically educated intellectual, and probably a member of the higher echelons of Constantinopolitan society.
His only known work, the seven-volume Ecclesiastical History, was published between 439 and 446, very probably in 439/440. It covers the period from the accession of Constantine to 439, focusing on the Roman East and recounting the 4th century Christological disputes, the reign of Julian the Apostate, the conflicts that led to the deposition of John Chrysostom, and the beginnings of the Nestorian dispute. Socrates’ synthesis is defined by his loyalties to Nicene Orthodoxy, the Theodosian dynasty, and the Origenist tradition. He is markedly sympathetic to the Novatian community, of which he may have been a member, and is interested in recording information about several other sectarian Christian groups of his time. Although an Origenist, like John Chrysostom and his supporters, Socrates distances himself from the Johannite party.
Socrates draws extensively on the Latin Ecclesiastical History of Rufinus of Aquileia for his account of the 4th century, which results in substantial overlaps between their works. In this database, we record only Socrates’ additions, and not the sections he reproduces from Rufinus. Alongside the recording of doctrinal disputes, successions of bishops, and victims of persecutions, Socrates was the first author to include a relatively systematic treatment of monasticism to the agenda of ecclesiastical historiography. It seems that he had access only to Greek and Latin sources, but not to the Syriac and other Aramaic hagiographies produced in this period in the East.
The work of Socrates is the first of the three Orthodox ecclesiastical Histories published in Greek between 439 and 449. Within less than ten years of its publication, Socrates’ work was systematically reworked and expanded by Sozomen, and may have been known also to Theodoret of Cyrrhus. Socrates’ narrative overlaps extensively with both of these ecclesiastical histories. This boom in Greek ecclesiastical historiography may have been instigated by the publication in Constantinople of an Arian Ecclesiastical History by Philostorgius in 425/433, which survives in fragments.
DiscussionDispersed through the narrative of the book 7, these four bishops are the only holy men recorded by Socrates during the reign of Theodosius II. Except for Maruthas, whose cult developed greatly in both the Greek and the Syriac Churches, there is no other attestation for the veneration of the other three. Silvanos and the Novatian bishop Paulos were probably personally known to Socrates through the circle of Troilos.
Socrates' account of Silvanos addresses those who criticised the translations of bishops from one see to another. This was technically uncanonical, but, as Socrates argues here, it was possible, if the translated bishop has previously resigned for good reasons his first see. Silvanos left his first bishopric with the approval of Atticus (an early attestation of Constantinople's patriarchal supremacy over the metropolitans of Thrace), and was lawfully appointed at Alexandria Troas, when it went vacant. The fact that the translation was legitimate is suggested by the fact that it did not deprive him from God's grace, expressed through his miracles.
The story about Paulos once again underlines Socrates' thesis that the Novatians were a grouping of equal holiness and orthodoxy to the Catholics. His reference to the miracle of baptism (a Jewish impostor, having already been baptised by the Catholic bishop, presents himself to the Novatian bishop for baptism, but the water disappears in the font) may allude to disputes about the validity of baptism in the two communities and its recognition. The story implies that divine grace was present in the baptism of both communities.
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