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Miltiades, 2nd Cent. Christian Writer

Wace's Dictionary of Early Christian Biography

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Miltiades (1) , an active Christian writer of the 2nd cent. Eusebius tells us (H. E. v. 17) that, besides leaving other records of his diligent study of the divine oracles, he composed a treatise "against the Greeks," another "against the Jews," and an "Apology" addressed to the rulers of this world on behalf of the school of philosophy to which he belonged. It is a natural inference from the plural "rulers" that there were, when Miltiades wrote, two emperors, probably Aurelius and Verus. The Apology may be supposed to have been a learned plea for toleration of Christianity, the purity of whose doctrines may have been favourably contrasted with the teaching of heathen philosophy. It is not extant, but seems to have had at the time a high repute. The writer of the "Little Labyrinth" (Eus. v. 28) names Miltiades in company with Justin, Tatian, and Clement among the writers in defence of the truth or against contemporary heretics who, before Victor's episcopate, had distinctly asserted the divinity of Christ. Tertullian ( adv. Valentin. 5) names him with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus as a writer against heresy, giving him the appellation, evidently intended in an honourable sense, "Sophista Ecclesiarum." St. Jerome twice mentions him ( Catal. 39; Ep. ad Magnum , vol. i. p. 427), but gives no clear indication that he knew more of him than he had learned from Eusebius.

Great obscurity hangs over his relation to Montanism, owing to a strange confusion, either on the part of Eusebius or of his copyists, between the names Miltiades and Alcibiades. In H. E. v. 2 Eusebius tells a story about one of the Lyons confessors named Alcibiades, and, going on to speak about Montanism, mentions an Alcibiades as among its leaders. After the death of Montanus, his sect seems to have been known in Phrygia by the name of its leader for the time being; and in an anti-Montanist document preserved by Eusebius, v. 16, the sect is called the party of Miltiades. This is the reading of all the MSS.; yet having regard to the earlier passage, editors are disposed here to substitute Alcibiades for Miltiades. If we are not permitted to think that there might have been Montanists of both names, it would seem more natural to make the opposite correction. In c. 16 there was nothing to lead copyists astray; in c. 2 Eusebius, having named an Alcibiades just before, might easily by a slip of the pen have repeated the same name. This view is strengthened by the fact that at the close of the Muratorian fragment, a name transcribed as "Mitiades" occurs as that of one the ecclesiastical use of whose writings was totally rejected by the church. This would be explained by the supposition that a Miltiades had written records of Montanist prophesyings or some other document, which that sect had regarded as inspired and admitted to church use. But the case is complicated further in c. 17 of Eusebius. He begins by saying that the anti-Montanist document mentioned Miltiades as having written against Montanus; and then, having given extracts from the document, goes on to give the account we have already used of the other works of Miltiades. But the extract, according to the reading of all the MSS., names not Miltiades but Alcibiades as the author of an anti-Montanist treatise, "that a prophet ought not to speak in ecstasy." Here editors are compelled to correct the Alcibiades of the extract into Miltiades to make Eusebius consistent; yet this leaves it unexplained why transcribers should go so strangely wrong. Cf. Otto, Corpus Apol. ix. 364.


Bibliography Information
Wace, Henry. Entry for 'Miltiades, 2nd Cent. Christian Writer'. A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​hwd/​m/miltiades-2nd-cent-christian-writer.html. 1911.
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