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E00218: Eusebius of Caesarea, in his Ecclesiastical History, quotes letters from Polykrates, bishop of Ephesos, and from the Montanist leader Proklos (both late 2nd c.), which mention the tombs of *John (the Apostle and Evangelist, S00042) at Ephesus (western Asia Minor) and of *Philip (the Apostle, S00109) at Hierapolis of Phrygia (west central Asia Minor). Quoted in Greek in Palestine, 311/325.

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posted on 2014-11-26, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
Eusebius of Caesarea, Ecclesiastical History 3.31.2-5

(2.) τοῦ δὲ Ἰωάννου τὰ μὲν τοῦ χρόνου ἤδη πως εἴρηται, τὸ δέ γε τοῦ σκηνώματος αὐτοῦ χωρίον ἐξ ἐπιστολῆς Πολυκράτους (τῆς δ’ ἐν Ἐφέσῳ παροικίας ἐπίσκοπος οὗτος ἦν) ἐπιδείκνυται, ἣν Οὐίκτορι Ῥωμαίων ἐπισκόπῳ γράφων, ὁμοῦ τε αὐτοῦ καὶ Φιλίππου μνημονεύει τοῦ ἀποστόλου τῶν τε τούτου θυγατέρων ὧδέ πως· (3.) «καὶ γὰρ κατὰ τὴν Ἀσίαν μεγάλα στοιχεῖα κεκοίμηται· ἅτινα ἀναστήσεται τῇ ἐσχάτῃ ἡμέρᾳ τῆς παρουσίας τοῦ κυρίου, ἐν ᾗ ἔρχεται μετὰ δόξης ἐξ οὐρανοῦ καὶ ἀναζητήσει πάντας τοὺς ἁγίους, Φίλιππον τῶν δώδεκα ἀποστόλων, ὃς κεκοίμηται ἐν Ἱεραπόλει καὶ δύο θυγατέρες αὐτοῦ γεγηρακυῖαι παρθένοι καὶ ἡ ἑτέρα αὐτοῦ θυγάτηρ ἐν ἁγίῳ πνεύματι πολιτευσαμένη ἐν Ἐφέσῳ ἀναπαύεται· ἔτι δὲ καὶ Ἰωάννης, ὁ ἐπὶ τὸ στῆθος τοῦ κυρίου ἀναπεσών, ὃς ἐγενήθη ἱερεὺς τὸ πέταλον πεφορεκὼς καὶ μάρτυς καὶ διδάσκαλος, οὗτος ἐν Ἐφέσῳ κεκοίμηται». (4.) ταῦτα καὶ περὶ τῆς τῶνδε τελευτῆς· καὶ ἐν τῷ Γαΐου δέ, οὗ μικρῷ πρόσθεν ἐμνήσθημεν, διαλόγῳ Πρόκλος, πρὸς ὃν ἐποιεῖτο τὴν ζήτησιν, περὶ τῆς Φιλίππου καὶ τῶν θυγατέρων αὐτοῦ τελευτῆς, συνᾴδων τοῖς ἐκτεθεῖσιν, οὕτω φησίν· «μετὰ τοῦτον προφήτιδες τέσσαρες αἱ Φιλίππου γεγένηνται ἐν Ἱεραπόλει τῇ κατὰ τὴν Ἀσίαν· ὁ τάφος αὐτῶν ἐστιν ἐκεῖ καὶ ὁ τοῦ πατρὸς αὐτῶν». (5.) ταῦτα μὲν οὗτος· ὁ δὲ Λουκᾶς ἐν ταῖς Πράξεσιν τῶν ἀποστόλων τῶν Φιλίππου θυγατέρων ἐν Καισαρείᾳ τῆς Ἰουδαίας ἅμα τῷ πατρὶ τότε διατριβουσῶν προφητικοῦ τε χαρίσματος ἠξιωμένων μνημονεύει, κατὰ λέξιν ὧδέ πως λέγων· «ἤλθομεν εἰς Καισάρειαν, καὶ εἰσελθόντες εἰς τὸν οἶκον Φιλίππου τοῦ εὐαγγελιστοῦ, ὄντος ἐκ τῶν ἑπτά, ἐμείναμεν παρ’ αὐτῷ. τούτῳ δὲ ἦσαν παρθένοι θυγατέρες τέσσαρες προφητεύουσαι.»

'(2.) The time of John’s death has already been mentioned in some way, but the place of his burial (skenoma) is indicated by an epistle of Polykrates (he was bishop of the community in Ephesus); writing to Victor, bishop of Rome, he mentions both the apostle Philip himself and his daughters in the following terms: (3.) "For indeed, great figures sleep in Asia, which will rise again on the last day of the Lord’s presence, when He will come with glory from heaven and will seek out all the saints: Philip, one of the twelve apostles, who sleeps in Hierapolis, and two aged virgin daughters of his, and his other daughter who lived in the Holy Spirit and now rests at Ephesus; and moreover John, who reclined upon the bosom of the Lord, and who was a priest wearing the sacerdotal plate, and a martyr and teacher. He also sleeps at Ephesus." (4.) So much about their death. And in the Dialogue of Gaius, which we mentioned a little earlier, Proklos, against whom he directed his disputation, in agreement with what has been quoted, says the following concerning the death of Philip and his daughters: "After him there were four prophetesses, the daughters of Philip, at Hierapolis in Asia. Their tomb is there and the tomb of their father." (5.) Such is his statement. As for Luke, in the Acts of the Apostles, he mentions the daughters of Philip, who were at that time in Caesarea in Judea with their father, and were honoured with the gift of prophecy. His words are as follows: "We came unto Caesarea; and went to the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him. This man had four virgin daughters that prophesied".'

Text: Schwartz et al. 1999. Translation: E. Rizos.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

John the Evangelist : S00042 Philip the Apostle, ob. 1st c. : S00109

Saint Name in Source

Ἰωάννης Φίλιππος

Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories) Literary - Letters


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Palestine Asia Minor Asia Minor

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Caesarea Maritima Hierapolis Ephesus

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Caesarea Maritima Hierapolis Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia Ephesus Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia

Major author/Major anonymous work

Eusebius of Caesarea

Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - unspecified

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Transmission, copying and reading saint-related texts


Written between 311 and 325, the Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius of Caesarea is the first literary work to employ the methodology and objectives of classical historiography – which, since Herodotus and Thucydides, had traditionally focused on military and political events – in a novel field, the history of the Christian community. It survives in several Greek manuscripts, in a Latin translation by Rufinus, and in Syriac and Armenian translations. The first paragraphs of the work outline its chronological framework and thematic range: it is a narrative of events in the life of the Christian community from the times of Christ and the Apostles to the times of Eusebius (c. AD 260-340); it records the leaders of the most important communities (i.e. successions of bishops in Alexandria, Antioch, Rome and Jerusalem); it records the most notable exponents of Christian doctrine and their works, and also the main heresies and their proponents; it finally records persecutions and people that suffered and were martyred during them. The Ecclesiastical History is mostly a synthesis of quotations and summaries from other sources, for which Eusebius often gives concrete references. Thus his work preserves excerpts from early Christian texts which do not survive in their full form. Since the author knew Greek and Syriac, but no Latin, his source material is confined chiefly to Greek texts, originating from Christian centres in Anatolia, Syria, Palestine and Egypt. These areas constitute the main geographical range of his narrative, while his information about Christianity in the western provinces of the Roman Empire (except Rome) is very limited. Eusebius lived in Caesarea Maritima in Palestine between c. AD 260 and 340. He was a pupil and friend of the martyred Christian intellectual Pamphilus. Under Constantine, he emerged as one of the most influential Christian figures of the Roman Empire, and was ordained bishop of Caesarea.


This is probably the earliest mention of the tombs of the Apostles John and Philip, and of the latter's daughters in Asia Minor. According to Eusebius, the quotations are from letters of the bishop of Ephesus, Polykrates, and of the heresiarch Proklos, both corresponding with Rome on doctrinal issues (the same passage from the letter of Polykrates is quoted at greater length by Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 5.24.2-7: E00488). Polykrates was then in conflict with Pope Victor I on the date of Easter (the Quartodeciman dispute), while the Montanist Proklos had a doctrinal debate by correspondence with Gaius of Rome. Eusebius’ source for these texts was probably published corpora of the letters of Victor, Polykrates, Gaius and Proklos, which circulated in Greek in Anatolia during the 3rd century. The epistolary debate between Gaius and Proklos, in particular, was published by the former as a volume entitled Dialogue. The two Anatolian-based Christian leaders refer to the presence of the Apostles’ tombs as a proof of the apostolic roots and credentials of authority and orthodoxy of their communities, perhaps responding to similar Roman claims. Proklos, at least, seems to be responding to Gaius' claims that the Romans possessed the burial places of Peter and Paul (see E00118), and it is possible that Polykrates also addressed a similar claim by Victor. Thus this seems to be the earliest attested example of apostolic tombs being used as proofs of authority in the context of doctrinal disputes between Christian communities. Neither of these statements says anything concrete about veneration at these tombs, but they do demonstrate that their later flourishing cults can perhaps be traced to traditions as early as c. AD 200. It is remarkable that Proklos mentions the tomb of Philip and his daughters in Hierapolis, suggesting that the Montanist community shared the same reverence for the apostolic tomb as the catholic one. At the same time, however, it is intriguing that he omits John’s tomb in Ephesus. Polykrates’ statement about John is of special interest for the earliest stages of John's memory in Ephesus ('... John, who reclined upon the bosom of the Lord, and who was a priest wearing the sacerdotal plate, and a martyr and teacher'). No other source describes John as a priest or martyr, and this may be echoing the local traditions of the catholic community of Ephesus. It is possible that Polykrates is identifying John as one of the relatives of the high priest mentioned in the New Testament (on which see Bauckham 2006, 445-452), or with John the Elder (or Presbyter), one of the obscure figures of the apostolic era in Anatolia. Eusebius was aware of the problem of distinguishing between John the Apostle and John the Elder and reports that in his own days, tombs of both of them were known in Ephesus (see E00256).


Edition: Schwartz, E., Mommsen, T., and Winkelmann, F., Eusebius Werke II: Die Kirchengeschichte. 3 vols. (Die Griechischen Christlichen Schriftsteller der ersten drei Jahrhunderte NF 6/1-3; Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1999). Translations: Lake, K., Oulton, J.E.L., and Lawlor, H.J., Eusebius of Caesarea: The Ecclesiastical History. 2 vols. (Loeb Classical Library; London and Cambridge, MA: Heinemann and Harvard University Press, 1926). Williamson, G.A., and Louth, A., Eusebius: The History of the Church from Christ to Constantine (London: Penguin, 1989). Further reading: Bauckham, R., Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony (Grand Rapids MI: Eerdmans, 2006). Chesnut, G. The First Christian Histories: Eusebius, Socrates, Sozomen, Theodoret, and Evagrius. Atlanta: Mercer University, 1986.

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