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Bible Dictionaries

A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography

Euthalius (5), Deacon of Alexandria

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Euthalius (5) , a deacon of Alexandria, afterwards bp. of Sulca; fl. a.d. 459. This date is confirmed by the fact that his works are dedicated to Athanasius the Younger, who was bp. of Alexandria about that time. Euthalius appears to have been then a deacon, devoted to the study of the N.T. text. He is now best known as the author of the Euthalian Sections.

The books of N.T. were written without any division into chapters verses or words. The first steps towards such a convenient division seem to have proceeded from the wish for easy reference to parallel passages. This was done by what are known as the Ammonian Sections together with the Eusebian Canons.

    [See Eusebius of Caesarea.] Ammonius of Alexandria in the 3rd cent. is generally credited with dividing the gospels into sections but the principle had not been applied to other books of N.T. Euthalius introduced a system of division into all those not yet divided except the Apocalypse which spread rapidly over the whole Greek church and has become by its presence or absence a valuable test of the antiquity of a MS. In the Epp. of St. Paul Euthalius tells us he adopted the scheme of a certain "father," whose name is nowhere given. But by his other labours and the further critical apparatus which he supplied Euthalius procured for it the acceptance it soon obtained. In Romans there were 19 capitula; in Galatians 12; in Ephesians 10; in I. Thessalonians 7; in II. Thessalonians 6; in Hebrews 22; in Phm_1:2; and so on.

Three points in connexion with the text especially occupied Euthalius.

(1) The Larger Sections or Lessons. Fixed lessons for public worship no doubt passed from the synagogue into the Christian church, at least as soon as the canon was settled. But there seems to have been little or no uniformity in them. Individual churches had divisions of their own. The scheme proposed by Euthalius, however, speedily became general in all Greek-speaking churches. The whole N.T., except the Gospels and Apocalypse, was divided into 57 portions of very varying length (in Acts there were 16; in the Pauline Epp. 31; 5 in Romans 5 in I. Cor. ; 4 in II. Cor. ; in the Catholic Epp. 10; 2 in James 2 in I. Pe. ; 1 in II. Pe., etc.) Of these, 53 were for Sundays, which seem alone to have been provided for in the Alexandrian Synaxes, and Mill supposes that the other 4 were for Christmas, Good Friday, Easter, and Epiphany (Proleg. in N.T. p. 90).

(2) The smaller divisions were the well known στίχοι—i.e. "lines" (Lat. versus) each containing either a few words complete in themselves or as much as it was possible to read without effort at one breath. Like that of the capitula formerly spoken of the plan of these "verses" was not introduced by Euthalius. It had already been adopted in some of the poetical books and in poetical parts of the prose books of the O.T. The LXX had occasionally employed it. It had been sanctioned by Origen. The Vulgate had used it and it is found in the psalms of the Vatican and Sinaitic MSS. It had been partially applied to N.T. for Origen speaks of the 100 στίχοι of II. and III. John. of a few in St. Paul's Epistles and very few in I. John; while Eustathius of Antioch in the 4th cent. is said to reckon 135 from Joh_8:59 to Joh_10:31 (Scrivener Intro. to Codex D p. 17). But these figures shew that many of these divisions cannot have been στίχοι in the strict sense but of very unequal length and generally much larger. What was before partially and imperfectly done Euthalius extended upon better principles and with greater care. In Rom. he made 920 such στίχοι; in Gal. 293; in Eph. 312; in I. Thess. 193; in II. Thess. 106; in Heb. 703; in Philemon 37; and so on.

(3) The third part of his labour was an enumeration of all the quotations from O.T., and even from profane writers, found in those books of N.T. of which he treated. These he numbered in one catalogue; assigned to the various books whence they were taken in a second; and quoted at length in a third. If we may look upon the Argumenta as really the work of Euthalius, and not, as Zacagnius argues ( Praef. p. 60), as the production of a later hand, he went also into the substance and meaning of the books edited by him, as the Argumenta contain short and excellent summaries of them. Euthalius also wrote a short Life of St. Paul, prefixed to his work on the 14 epistles of that apostle, but it is bald and meagre. It has been said that he also wrote comments on Acts and Luke; and that in an ancient catena on Romans there were fragments of his writings; but these statements seem to be incorrect ( ib. p. 71).

In later life he became a bishop, and was known as Episcopus Sulcensis. Scrivener suggests Sulci in Sardinia as the only see of that name (Intr. p. 53, n. 1), but so distant a place is unlikely. Zacagnius thinks that Sulca may represent Psilca, a city of the Thebaid near Syene; but Galland throws doubt on this, and the point must be left unsolved.

His works remained long unknown, but in 1698 they were ed. and pub. at Rome by Laurentius Alexander Zacagnius, praefect of the Vatican Library, in vol. i. of his Collectanea Monumentorum Veterum Ecclesiae Graecae ac Latinae, in the long preface of which different questions relating to Euthalius are discussed with much care. This ed. has been printed in Galland ( Biblioth. Pat. x. 197) and in Migne ( Patr. Gk. lxxxv. 621). Notices of Euthalius may be found in the Prolegomena of N. T. of Wetstein and Mill, and in Scrivener's Intro. to the Criticism of N.T. But much light has recently been thrown on Euthalius by Dean Armitage Robinson in his "Euthaliana" ( Texts and Stud. iii. 3), and in an article "Recent Work on Euthalius" in the Journ. of Theol. Stud. vol. vi. p. 87, Oct. 1904. In the latter art. the recent work on the subject by Von Soden and Zahn is noticed.

[W.M.]


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Bibliography Information
Wace, Henry. Entry for 'Euthalius (5), Deacon of Alexandria'. A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hwd/e/euthalius-5-deacon-of-alexandria.html. 1911.

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