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E04055: Sozomen in his Ecclesiastical History mentions the discovery of the tombs and relics of the Prophets *Habbakuk (S01268) and *Micah (S01236) in villages near Eleutheropolis in Palestine, after a dream vision revealed to the local bishop Zebennos, under Theodosius I (r. 379-395). Written in Greek at Constantinople, 439/450.

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posted on 2017-09-19, 00:00 authored by erizos
Sozomen, Ecclesiastical History, 7.29

(1) Ὑπὸ δὲ τοιούτων ἀγομένη ἡ πανταχῇ ἐκκλησία πρὸς ὁμόνοιαν καὶ ἀρετὴν τοὺς λαοὺς καὶ τοὺς κλήρους ἀνῆγεν. οὐ μόνον δὲ ταῦτα τὴν θρησκείαν ἐσέμνυνεν, ἀλλὰ γὰρ καὶ Ἀμβακούμ, μετ’ οὐ πολὺ δὲ τούτου καὶ (2) Μιχαίας, πρῶτοι προφητῶν περὶ τοῦτον τὸν χρόνον ἀναφανέντες. ἀμφοῖν δὲ τὰ σώματα, ὡς ἐπυθόμην, κατὰ θείαν ὀνείρατος ὄψιν ἀνεδείχθη Ζεβέννῳ τῷ τότε ἐπιτροπεύοντι τὴν Ἐλευθεροπόλεως ἐκκλησίαν. καὶ γὰρ δὴ καὶ τοῦ νομοῦ ταύτης ἤστην Κελὰ ἡ πρὶν Κεϊλὰ ὀνομαζομένη κώμη, καθ’ ἣν ὁ Ἀμβακοὺμ ηὑρέθη, καὶ Βηραθσάτια χωρίον ἀμφὶ δέκα στάδια τῆς πόλεως (5) διεστώς· περὶ τοῦτο δὲ ὁ Μιχαίου τάφος ἦν, ὃ μνῆμα πιστὸν ἀγνοοῦντες ὅ τι λέγουσιν οἱ ἐπιχώριοι ἐκάλουν, Νεφσαμεεμανᾶ τῇ πατρίῳ φωνῇ ὀνομάζοντες. (3) ἱκανὰ μὲν οὖν καὶ τάδε πρὸς εὔκλειαν τοῦ Χριστιανῶν δόγματος ἐπὶ τῆς παρούσης βασιλείας συνεκύρησε.

‘Being administered by such figures, the Church around the world inspired unity and virtue to both the clergy and laity. Yet it was not only these things that contributed to the good reputation of our religion, but also Habakkuk and, not long after him, Micah, the first prophets, who were brought to light about this time. As I understand, the bodies of them both were revealed by a divine dream vision to Zebennos, then bishop of the church of Eleutheropolis. For the territory of this city included the village of Kela, formerly called Keila, where Habakkuk was found, and the village of Berathsatia, about ten stades from the city. The tomb of Micah was in the vicinity of the latter, and the locals used to call it by the name Nefsameemana in their native language, not knowing that their words meant ‘the faithful tomb’. These events, then, also made a major contribution to the repute of the Christian religion during the reign of this emperor [=Theodosius I].’

Text: Bidez and Hansen 1995. Translation: E. Rizos.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Habakkuk, the Old Testament prophet : S01268 Micah, the Old Testament Prophet : S01236

Saint Name in Source

Ἀμβακούμ Μιχαίας

Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Constantinople and region

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Constantinople Constantinople Κωνσταντινούπολις Konstantinoupolis Constantinopolis Constantinople Istanbul

Major author/Major anonymous work


Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Apparition, vision, dream, revelation Saint aiding or preventing the translation of relics

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - unspecified Discovering, finding, invention and gathering of relics


Salamenios Hermeias Sozomenos (known in English as Sozomen) was born in the early 5th c. to a wealthy Christian family, perhaps of Arab origins, in the village of Bethelea near Gaza. He was educated at a local monastic school, studied law probably at Beirut, and settled in Constantinople where he pursued a career as a lawyer. Sozomen published his Ecclesiastical History between 439 and 450, perhaps around 445. It consists of nine books, the last of which is incomplete. In his dedication of the work, Sozomen states that he intended to cover the period from the conversion of Constantine to the seventeenth consulate of Theodosius II, that is, 312 to 439, but the narrative of the extant text breaks in about 425. The basis of Sozomen’s work is the Ecclesiastical History of Socrates, published a few years earlier, which our author revises and expands. Like Socrates, Sozomen was devoted to Nicene Orthodoxy and the Theodosian dynasty, but his work is marked by stronger hagiographical interests, a richer base of sources, and different sympathies/loyalties. Sozomen probably lacked the classical education of Socrates, but had a broader knowledge of hagiographical and monastic literature and traditions, which makes him a fuller source for the cult of saints. Besides Greek and Latin, Sozomen knew Aramaic, which allowed him to include information about ascetic communities, monastic founders, and martyrs from his native Palestine, Arabia, Syria, Mesopotamia, and Persia, to which Socrates had had no access. Much like the other ecclesiastical historians of the fourth and fifth centuries, Sozomen focuses on the East Roman Empire, only seldom referring to the West and Persia.


Following his enumeration of holy men active in various parts of the East Roman Empire under Theodosius I, Sozomen mentions two inventions of relics which, as he asserts, contributed to the good name of the Christian religion in that period. Since the inventions are not mentioned by Egeria (writing in 384), they must have taken place in the late 380s or early 390s. It seems probable that the discoveries were related to the rivalry between bishop Zebennos of Eleutheropolis and his neighbour, John of Jerusalem, during the 390s (Cronnier 2016).


Text: Bidez, J., and Hansen, G. C., Sozomenus. Kirchengeschichte. 2nd rev. ed. (Die griechischen christlichen Schriftsteller der ersten Jahrhunderte, Neue Folge 4; Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1995). Translations: Grillet, B., Sabbah, G., Festugière A.-J. Sozomène, Histoire ecclésiastique. 4 vols. (Sources chrétiennes 306, 418, 495, 516; Paris: Éditions du Cerf, 1983-2008): text, French translation, and introduction. Hansen, G.C. Sozomen, Historia ecclesiastica, Kirchengeschichte, 4 vols. (Fontes Christiani 73; Turnhout: Brepols, 2004): text, German translation, and introduction. Hartranft, C.D. “The Ecclesiastical History of Sozomen, Comprising a History of the Church from AD 323 to AD 425." In A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church: Second Series, edited by P. Schaff and H. Wace (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1890), 179-427. Further reading: Chesnut, G. F. The First Christian Histories: Eusebius, Socrates, Sozomen, Theodoret, and Evagrius (Atlanta: Mercer University, 1986). Cronnier E. Les inventions de reliques dans l’Empire romain d’Orient (IVe-VIe s.) (Turnhout: Brepols, 2016). Leppin, H. Von Constantin dem Grossen zu Theodosius II. Das christliche Kaisertum bei den Kirchenhistorikern Socrates, Sozomenus und Theodoret (Hypomnemata 110; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1996). Van Nuffelen, P., Un héritage de paix et de piété : Étude sur les histoires ecclésiastiques de Socrate et de Sozomène (Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 142; Leuven: Peeters, 2004).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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