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E07732: In c. 513/515, John Diakrinomenos in his Ecclesiastical History mentions that Philoxenus of Mabbug opposed the depiction of angels in human form, and opposed the veneration of images of Christ. Written in Greek in Constantinople.

online resource
posted on 2019-08-20, 00:00 authored by erizos
John Diakrinomenos, Ecclesiastical History, excerpts from Book 4

Ξεναΐας ὁ Φιλόξενος οὔτε Χριστοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ οὔτε ἀγγέλου εἰκόνας ἐν ἐκκλησίᾳ συνεχώρει ἀνατίθεσθαι.

'Xenaias Philoxenos did not allow images of Christ the God or angels in church.'

Fragment quoted in the Acts of the Second Council of Nicaea, Act V (Mansi 13, 180 E - 181 B)

Ἰωάννου τοῦ Διακρινομένου ἐκ τῆς ἐκκλησιαστικῆς ἱστορίας

Μὴ γὰρ εἶναι θεμιτὸν ἔλεγεν ὁ Ξεναΐας ἀσωμάτους ὄντας ἀγγέλους σωματοποιεῖν καὶ ὡς ἐν μορφαῖς ἀνθρωπίναις ὑπάρχοντας ἐνσωμάτους τυποῦν. ἀλλὰ μὴν μηδὲ κἀκεῖνο νομίζειν, τιμὴν ἢ δόξαν έκνέμειν τῷ Χριστῷ τὴν διὰ γραφῆς αὐτῷ τεχνιτευομένην εἰκόνα˙ εἶναι δὲ μόνην αὐτῷ προσδεκτὴν εἰδέναι τὴν ἐν πνεύματι καὶ ἀληθείᾳ προσκύνησιν.

'From the Ecclesiastical History by John Diakrinomenos'

For Xenaias used to say that it was unacceptable that the angels, although bodiless, be given a body and depicted as if having a human form. But also that one should not even believe that an icon produced by painting ascribes honour or glory to Christ. And one should know that the only acceptable form of worship for Him is in spirit and truth.'

Text: Hansen 1995.
Translation: Efthymios Rizos.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Angels, unnamed or name lost : S00723

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 name in other Language(s)

Constantinople Κωνσταντινούπολις Konstantinoupolis Constantinopolis Constantinople Istanbul

Cult activities - Rejection, Condemnation, Scepticism

Rejection of the cult of images

Cult activities - Use of Images

  • Commissioning/producing an image


John Diacrinomenus (Ioannes Diakrinomenos) was the author of an ecclesiastical history, which covered the period between the First Council of Ephesus (431) and c. 512. He wrote under the emperor Anastasius (491-518), and is known to have been a moderate Monophysite (hence his epithet Diakrinomenos, ‘the Hesitant’). However, only brief excerpts of the ten books of his history survive. In the 9th century, Photius had access to Books 1 to 5 (Bibliotheca cod. 42).


These two fragments


Text: Hansen, G.C., Theodoros Anagnostes. Kirchengeschichte. 2nd ed. (Die griechischen christlichen Schriftsteller der ersten drei Jahrhunderte NF 3; Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1995). Further reading: Treadgold, W., The Early Byzantine Historians (Basingstoke, 2006), 168-169.

Usage metrics

    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity