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A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography


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Demetrius (2) succeeded Julianus A.D. 189, as 11th bp. of Alexandria (Eus. H. E. v. 22). He presided over the see for 43 years, and died a.d. 231-232 ( ib. vi. 26). He appears to have been of an energetic and imperious nature. He took an active interest in the Catechetical School, and is said to have sent one of its early chiefs, Pantaenus, on a [second?] mission "to the Indians" on their own request (Hieron. de Vir. Ill. 36). After Clement had left Alexandria, he placed Origen at its head, c. 203 (Eus. H. E. vi. 5), and strenuously encouraged him to continue his work, when his indiscreet zeal had exposed him to misrepresentation ( ib. vi. 8). Later (a.d. 217), he sent Origen to the Roman governor of Arabia, at the governor's earnest invitation ( ib. vi. 19). Origen fulfilled his mission satisfactorily, but not long afterwards Demetrius's friendship for him was interrupted. [See Origen.] According to a late, and not very trustworthy, authority, Demetrius is reported to have written letters on the keeping of Easter, maintaining the view adopted at Nicaea (Eutychius, Ann. pp. 363 ff.; Migne, Patrol. vol. cxi.). Other legendary stories of his life are given in the Chronicon Orientale (pp. 72 f. ed 1685), and more briefly by Tillemont ( Mémoires , Origène, art. vii. tom. iii. p. 225, ed. Bruxelles).

The statement that Demetrius first changed the singular ecclesiastical arrangement of Egypt, by appointing three bishops in addition to the bp. of Alexandria, who had formerly governed the whole province, is probably correct, though the only direct authority for it is that of Eutychius, patriarch of Alexandria, in the 10th cent. (cf. Lightfoot, Philippians , p. 230). Possibly this change was due to special views on church government, which may have influenced Demetrius in his harsh judgment on the ordination of Origen beyond the limits of his jurisdiction.


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

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