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E04057: Socrates in his Ecclesiastical History recounts stories about four bishops renowned for their holiness and miracles under the emperor Theodosius II (r. 408-450): *Marouthas (bishop of Maipherqat in Persia, S01683), Akakios of Amida in Mesopotamia, Silvanos of Alexandria Troas in north-west Asia Minor, and the Novatian bishop of Constantinople, Paulos. Written in Greek at Constantinople, 439/446.

online resource
posted on 2017-09-19, 00:00 authored by erizos
Socrates, Ecclesiastical History, 7.8, 7.21, 7.37, 7.17, 7.39


7.8 Maruthas. He performed several miracles in Persia

7.21 Akakios of Amida. He became famous for his kind treatment of Persian captives

7.37 Silvanos of Alexandria Troas. Initially ordained bishop of Philippopolis in Thrace, he stepped down for health reasons. He was later translated by Atticus of Constantinople to Alexandria Troas, where he performed a miracle helping the launching of a ship.

7.17 and 7.39 Paulos the Novatian bishop of Constantinople. He miraculously identified a Jewish impostor, who presented himself to be baptised by him, having previously been baptised by Atticus. A miracle of Paulos also rescued a church from fire (in 432/433?).


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Marutha, bishop of Martyropolis/Maipherqat, ob. c. 420 : S01683

Saint Name in Source


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 - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Transmission, copying and reading saint-related texts

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops


Socrates ‘Scholasticus’ was born between 380 and 390 in Constantinople, where he probably spent his entire life. He was trained as a grammarian and rhetorician under the sophist Troilos of Side. From his work, Socrates emerges as a classically educated intellectual, and probably a member of the higher echelons of Constantinopolitan society. His only known work, the seven-volume Ecclesiastical History, was published between 439 and 446, very probably in 439/440. It covers the period from the accession of Constantine to 439, focusing on the Roman East and recounting the 4th century Christological disputes, the reign of Julian the Apostate, the conflicts that led to the deposition of John Chrysostom, and the beginnings of the Nestorian dispute. Socrates’ synthesis is defined by his loyalties to Nicene Orthodoxy, the Theodosian dynasty, and the Origenist tradition. He is markedly sympathetic to the Novatian community, of which he may have been a member, and is interested in recording information about several other sectarian Christian groups of his time. Although an Origenist, like John Chrysostom and his supporters, Socrates distances himself from the Johannite party. Socrates draws extensively on the Latin Ecclesiastical History of Rufinus of Aquileia for his account of the 4th century, which results in substantial overlaps between their works. In this database, we record only Socrates’ additions, and not the sections he reproduces from Rufinus. Alongside the recording of doctrinal disputes, successions of bishops, and victims of persecutions, Socrates was the first author to include a relatively systematic treatment of monasticism to the agenda of ecclesiastical historiography. It seems that he had access only to Greek and Latin sources, but not to the Syriac and other Aramaic hagiographies produced in this period in the East. The work of Socrates is the first of the three Orthodox ecclesiastical Histories published in Greek between 439 and 449. Within less than ten years of its publication, Socrates’ work was systematically reworked and expanded by Sozomen, and may have been known also to Theodoret of Cyrrhus. Socrates’ narrative overlaps extensively with both of these ecclesiastical histories. This boom in Greek ecclesiastical historiography may have been instigated by the publication in Constantinople of an Arian Ecclesiastical History by Philostorgius in 425/433, which survives in fragments.


Dispersed through the narrative of the book 7, these four bishops are the only holy men recorded by Socrates during the reign of Theodosius II. Except for Maruthas, whose cult developed greatly in both the Greek and the Syriac Churches, there is no other attestation for the veneration of the other three. Silvanos and the Novatian bishop Paulos were probably personally known to Socrates through the circle of Troilos. Socrates' account of Silvanos addresses those who criticised the translations of bishops from one see to another. This was technically uncanonical, but, as Socrates argues here, it was possible, if the translated bishop has previously resigned for good reasons his first see. Silvanos left his first bishopric with the approval of Atticus (an early attestation of Constantinople's patriarchal supremacy over the metropolitans of Thrace), and was lawfully appointed at Alexandria Troas, when it went vacant. The fact that the translation was legitimate is suggested by the fact that it did not deprive him from God's grace, expressed through his miracles. The story about Paulos once again underlines Socrates' thesis that the Novatians were a grouping of equal holiness and orthodoxy to the Catholics. His reference to the miracle of baptism (a Jewish impostor, having already been baptised by the Catholic bishop, presents himself to the Novatian bishop for baptism, but the water disappears in the font) may allude to disputes about the validity of baptism in the two communities and its recognition. The story implies that divine grace was present in the baptism of both communities.


Text: Hansen, G.C., Sokrates, Kirchengeschichte (Die griechischen christlichen Schriftsteller der ersten Jahrhunderte NF 1; Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1995). Translations: Zenos, A.C., "The Ecclesiastical History of Socrates Scholasticus," in: The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, vol. 2 (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1890), 1-178. Périchon, P., and Maraval, P., Socrate de Constantinople, Histoire ecclésiastique (Sources Chrétiennes 477, 493, 505, 506; Paris: Cerf), 2004-2007. Further reading: Bäbler, B., and Nesselrath, H.-G. (eds.). Die Welt des Sokrates von Konstantinopel: Studien zu Politik, Religion und Kultur im späten 4. und frühen 5. Jh. n. Chr. Zu Ehren von Christoph Schäublin (Munich: K.G. Saur, 2001). Chesnut, G.F., The First Christian Histories: Eusebius, Socrates, Sozomen, Theodoret, and Evagrius (Atlanta: Mercer University, 1986). 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. Nuffelen, P. van, Un héritage de paix et de piété: Étude sur les histoires ecclésiastiques de Socrate et de Sozomène (Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 142; Leuven: Peeters), 2004. Treadgold, W.T., The Early Byzantine Historians (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006). Urbainczyk, T., Socrates of Constantinople: Historian of Church and State (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1997). Wallraff, M., Der Kirchenhistoriker Sokrates: Untersuchungen zu Geschichtsdarstellung, Methode und Person (Forschungen zur Kirchen- und Dogmengeschichte 68; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1997).

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