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Bible Dictionaries

A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography

Apolinaris, or Apolinarius Claudius

Apolinaris , or Apolinarius Claudius. Ἀπολινάριος : so spelt in the most ancient Gk. MSS.; Latin writers generally use the form Apollinaris), bp. of Hierapolis, in Phrygia A.D. 171 and onwards (Eus. Chron. ); one of the most active and esteemed Christian writers of the day, he is praised by Photius for his style (Phot. Cod. 14). Jerome enumerates him among the ecclesiastical writers who were acquainted with heathen literature, and who made use of this knowledge in the refutation of heresy ( Ep. ad Magnum , iv. 83, p. 656. Cf. Theod. Haer. Fab. Compend. iii. 2).

Only a few fragments of his works have been preserved. Eusebius (H. E. iv. 27) gives the following list of those which had fallen into his hands; and his list is repeated by St. Jerome ( de Vir. Ill. c. 26) and Nicephorus ( H. E. iv. 11). (1) An apology addressed to Marcus Aurelius, probably written after A.D. 174, since it is likely that it contained the reference to the miracle of the Thundering Legion elsewhere quoted by Eusebius from Apolinaris ( H. E. v. 5). (2) Five books πρὸς Ἕλληνας , written according to Nicephorus in the form of a dialogue. (3) Two books περὶ ἀληθείας . (4) Two books πρὸς Ἰουδαίους : these are not mentioned by St. Jerome, and the reference to them is absent from some copies of Eusebius. (5) Writings against the Phrygian heresy, published when Montanus was first propounding his heresy; i.e. according to the Chronicon of Eusebius, c. 172. These writings, which were probably in the form of letters, are appealed to by Serapion, bp. of Antioch (Eus. H. E. v. 19); and Eusebius elsewhere (v. 16) describes Apolinaris as raised up as a strong and irresistible weapon against Montanism. The situation of his see sufficiently accounts for the prominent part taken by Apolinaris in this controversy. We are told indeed by an anonymous writer who probably wrote at the end of the 9th cent. (Auctor, Libelli Synodici apud Labbe et Cossart, i. 599) that Apolinaris on this occasion assembled twenty-six other bishops in council, and excommunicated Montanus and Maximilla, as well as the shoemaker Theodotus. Besides the works mentioned by Eusebius, who does not give his list as a complete one, Theodoret ( Haer. Fab. ii. 21) mentions (6) that Apolinaris wrote against the Encratites of the school of Severus ( πρὸς τοὺς Σεουηριανοὺς Ἐγκρατίτας ). (7) Photius (Cod. 14) mentions having read Apolinaris's work πρὸς Ἐλληνας καὶ περὶ ἀληθείας καὶ περὶ εὐσεβείας . (8) In the preface to the Alexandrian Chronicle a work περὶ τοῦ πάσχα is attributed to Apolinaris, from which two extracts are furnished which have given rise to much controversy; the main point being whether (if the fragments are genuine) Apolinaris wrote on the side of the practice of the Roman church, or on that of the Quartodecimans of Asia Minor. In support of the former view is urged the similarity of the language of these fragments with that of Clement of Alexandria and of Hippolytus, who advocated the Western practice; and also the fact that Apolinaris is not claimed as a Quartodeciman by Polycrates, bp. of Ephesus, in his letter to Victor of Rome. On the other side it is urged that Apolinaris speaks of his antagonists as "some who raise contention through ignorance," language which would rather convey the impression that Apolinaris was writing against the opinions of some small sect than that he was combating the belief of the whole church of Asia Minor to which he belonged; and it is further urged that if Apolinaris had been the first to defend in the East the practice which ultimately prevailed, it is incredible that neither Eusebius nor any early writer mentions this early champion of the Catholic practice. Socrates the historian ( H. E. iii. 7) names Apolinaris, together with Irenaeus, Clement, and Serapion, as holding the doctrine that our Lord when He became man had a human soul ( ἔμψυχον τὸν ἐνανθρωπήσαντα ).

Apolinaris had been set down as a Chiliast on St. Jerome's authority (de Vir. Ill. c. 18), but Routh ( Rel. Sac. i. 174) has given good reason for thinking that the Apollinaris intended is the younger Apollinaris, of Laodicea; since Jerome speaks of Irenaeus and Apollinaris as the first and the last of the Greek Millenarians (lib. xi. Comm. in Ezech. c. 36, iii. 952), and also states that Apollinaris answered Dionysius of Alexandria ( Prooem. in lib. xviii. Comm. Esaiae iii. 478).

The Martyrologies commemorate the death of Apollinaris on Feb. 7. Of the year or of the place and manner of his death nothing is known; but that it was before the end of the 2nd cent. may be inferred from the language in which he is described in the letter of Serapion written about that time (Κλαυδίου Ἀπολιναρίου τοῦ μακαριωτάτου γενομένου ἐν Ιεραπόλει τῆς Ἀσίας ἐπισκόπου ).


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Bibliography Information
Wace, Henry. Entry for 'Apolinaris, or Apolinarius Claudius'. A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography. 1911.

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