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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Vigilius of Thapsus

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in the African province of Byzacene. His name stands last on a list of bishops who attended a conference at Carthage called by the Vandal Hunneric, in A.D. 484, to bring to a conclusion the quarrel between the dominant Arian and the oppressed orthodox parties in the Church. A later report of his banishment to Constantinople, though not authenticated, is yet credible because a similar fate was experienced by his colleagues, and his works justify the conclusion that he sojourned in that city. He was an important character among the theological writers of his day, possessing a logical, simple, perspicuous style, and considerable dialectical skill, and producing a series of polemical works which were directed against the Arians and other heretics. His foremost work was Five Books against Eutyches, and it was also the only work he gave to the public over his own name a circumstance which led tradition to ascribe it to bishop Vigilius of Trent, who was more generally known.

Several pseudonymous works from the pen of Vigilius of Thapsus were also attributed to other authors in the uncritical period of the world; e.g. several controversial discussions between Athanasius, Photinus, Sabellius, and Arius were credited to Athanasius. The standpoint of Vigilius was that of Chalcedonian orthodoxy. He holds to a distinction of persons and a unity of essence in the Trinity, and to a unity of person and a diversity of natures in the person of Christ; but he does not even imagine that any difficulty is connected with the reception of such divergent doctrines, and seems utterly unable to discover any occasion whatever for the rise of heretical opinions. The importance of his work is consequently only relative, as it dealt with the particular heresies antagonized in a polemical or apologetical way. He was a dialectician rather than a theologian, and his works, if measured by the standards of a productive age, have no considerable value, while, if they be regarded as designed merely to combine and recapitulate the matter furnished by earlier thinkers, their value cannot be denied. Editions of the works of Vigilius are by Chiffletius (Dijon, 1664) and Churrerus (Tü b. 1528). The books against Eutyches, and the disputations with Arius, and with Arius and Sabellius, together with twelve (doubtful) books De Trinitate, are given in the Max. Bibl. Patrum, vol. 8; and the controverted books against Marivad, against Palladius, the De Unitate. Trinitatis (which is generally ascribed to Augustine, but possibly belongs to Vigilius), are in vol. 4 of the same collection. See Tillemont, St. Eugene, arts. 51, 52; id. Memoires, vol. 16; Cave, Script. Eccles. Hist. Lit. 1, 458; Herzog,. Real- Encyklop. s.v.

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Vigilius of Thapsus'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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