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Bible Dictionaries

A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography

Alexander, Bishop of Jerusalem

Alexander , bp. of Jerusalem, was an early friend and fellow scholar of Origen at Alexandria, where they studied together under Pantaenus and Clemens Alex. (Eus. H. E. vi. 14). He was bishop of a city in Cappadocia ( ib. vi. 11); or, according to Valesius ( Not. ad Euseb. ) and Tillemont (Mém. eccl. iii. p. 183), of Flaviopolis in Cilicia. He became a confessor in the persecution of Severus, A.D. 204, and was thrown into prison, where he continued some years. He was still a prisoner at the commencement of Caracalla's reign, A.D. 211, when he sent a letter by the hand of Clemens to congratulate the church of Antioch on the appointment of Asclepiades as their bishop in the room of Serapion (Eus. vi. 11). The next year he was released from prison, and, in fulfilment of a vow, visited Jerusalem, where he was chosen coadjutor to the aged bp. Narcissus. This being the first occasion of the translation of a bishop, as well as of the appointment of a coadjutor bishop, and in apparent violation of the canons of the church, it was deemed essential to obtain the sanction of the whole episcopate of Palestine. A synod was summoned at Jerusalem, and the assembled bishops gave their unanimous consent to the step, A.D. 213 (Hieron. de Script. Eccl.; Vales. Not. in Euseb. vi. 11; Socr. vii. 36; Bingham, Origines , bk. ii. § 4). On the death of Narcissus, Alexander succeeded as sole bishop. His chief claim to celebrity rests on the library he formed at Jerusalem, and on the boldness with which he supported Origen against his bishop, Demetrius of Alexandria. [See Origen.] The friendship of Alexander and Origen was warm and lasting; and the latter bears testimony to the remarkable gentleness and sweetness of character manifested in all Alexander's public instructions (Orig. Homil. I. in Lib. Reg. No. 1). Alexander was again thrown into prison at Caesarea in the Decian persecution, where he died A.D. 251 (Eus. H. E. vi. 46; Hieron. Script. Eccl. ). Eusebius has preserved some fragments of Alexander's letters: to the Antinoites, H. E. vi. 11, to the church of Antioch, ib.; to Origen, H. E. vi. 14, and to Demetrius, H. E. vi. 19. These have been published by Galland, Biblioth. Vet. Patrum , vol. ii. pp. 201 seq. Clemens Alex. dedicated his Canon Ecclesiasticus to him (Eus. vi. 13).


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Bibliography Information
Wace, Henry. Entry for 'Alexander, Bishop of Jerusalem'. A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography. 1911.

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