Socrates Scholasticus

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Socrates Scholasticus (380-439), also known as Socrates of Constantinople, was a 5th-century Greek Christian church historian, a contemporary of Sozomen and Theodoret. He is the author of a Historia Ecclesiastica (“Church History”, Ἐκκλησιαστική Ἱστορία) which covers the history of late ancient Christianity during the years 305 to 439. The purpose of the history is to continue the work of Eusebius of Caesarea (1.1). It relates in simple Greek language what the Church experienced from the days of Constantine to the writer’s time. Ecclesiastical dissensions occupy the foreground, for when the Church is at peace, there is nothing for the church historian to relate (7.48.7). Socrates’ account is in many respects well-balanced. He is careful not to use hyperbolic titles when referring to prominent personalities in the church and the government and even criticizes Eusebius for his excessive praises to Emperor Constantine the Great in his Vita Constantini. The Historia Ecclesiastica is one of the few sources of information about Hypatia, the female mathematician and philosopher of Alexandria, who was brutally murdered by a mob. Socrates unequivocally condemns the actions of the mob, declaring, “Surely nothing can be farther from the spirit of Christianity than the allowance of massacres, fights, and transactions of that sort.”

Writings:

  • Historia Ecclesiastica

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