Socrates scholasticus Constantinopolitanus


Along with Eusebius of Caesarea, Sozomen and Evagrius Scholasticus, Socrates of Constantinople is one of the great historians of Christian antiquity. Little is known about him, except that he was born around 380-390 in Constantinople, where he grew up and lived until his death, dated sometime between 439, the last year he describes in his work, and 450, the date of the death of Theodosius II, of whom he always speaks as if the latter were still alive. His knowledge of theology and his interest in liturgical questions suggest that he was a cleric. Despite the epithet “Scholasticus” (lawyer) given to Socrates in some manuscripts, there is no evidence that he was a jurist or that he had any particular knowledge in this field, unlike Sozomen.

His Ecclesiastical History, which was published probably around 439/440, is intended to be a history of Christianity in all its aspects rather than of the Church in the strict sense. This broad vision is probably explained by the fact that he belonged to the group of the Novatians and was therefore on the fringes of the "official" Church; hence his interest in, and tolerance of, all groups and movements within the wider Christian movement. It can also be explained by Socrates' concern to interest a very wide readership.


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