John of Ephesus

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[pp. 6-26]

JOHN OF EPHESUS

(507 - 586 A.D.) about 580 A.D.

John of Ephesus, also known as John of Asia, was born at Amida, in Mesopotamia, about 507 A.D. Despite his monophysite faith, he enjoyed Justinian's esteem and favours, rose to important offices in the Byzantine Court, was appointed bishop of Ephesus (558) and, later, Patriarch of Constantinople. Justin II put him to forced residence, then released him (580-585) and detained again until he died (586).

About the year 580 John wrote a Church History in Syriac, of which only Part III is authentic, the remainder being a duplicate of Eusebius' history or spurious interpolations. In book IV, he recorded the evangelization of Nubia, beginning from underground dealings in the court of [p. 7] Byzantium. John's account, although far from being impartial, is of paramount importance for the history of Nubia.[1]

Ed.: W. Cureton, The Third Part of the Eccl. Hist. of John. Bishop of Ephesus, Oxford 1853; I.P.N. Land, Joannes Bischof von Eph. der erste syrische Kirchenhistoriker, Leiden 1856; R. Payne-Smith, Ecclesiastical History, Book IV, Oxford 1860; I.M. Schoenfelder, Die Kirchengeschichte des J.v.Eph., Miinchen 1862; E.W. Brook, Ioannls Ephesinl Hist. Eccl. Pars Tertia, CSCO, Series 13 Script. Syri, Louvain 1936 (critical ed. with a Latin version).

Lit.: I. Marquardt, Osteuropaische und ostasiatische Streifzüge, Leipzig 1904; A. Diakonov, Joann Efesskiv, Petersburg 1908; Th. Hermann, Patriarch Paul v. Antiochia und das Alexandrinische Schisma von J. 575, ZNW 27, 1928, pp. 263-304; E.W. Brooks, The Patriarch Paul of A. and the Alex. Schism of 575, Byz. Zeitschr. XXX, 1930, p. 468/76.

The text below is taken from the Payne-Smith translation checked against the Brooks Latin version.

T.: Payne-Smith and Brooks S:4


[p. 8] IV. [ch.6] About the barbarous people of the Nobades, and about the cause of their conversion to Christianity.[2]

Among the clergy in attendance upon pope Theodosius, was a presbyter named Julianus, an old man of great worth, who conceived an earnest spiritual desire to christianize the wandering people who dwell on the eastern borders of the Thebais beyond Egypt, and who are not only not subject to the authority of the Roman empire, but even receive a subsidy on condition that they do not enter nor pillage Egypt. The blessed Julianus, therefore being full of anxiety for these people, went and spoke about them to the late queen Theodore [d. 547], in the hope of awakening in her a similar desire for their conversion; and as the queen was fervent in zeal for God, she received the proposal with joy and promised to do everything in her power for the conversion of these tribes from the errors of idolatry.

[p. 9] The king, however, hearing that she was sending somebody from that Synod which was opposed to him, did not like the thing, and arranged that a letter be dispatched to his bishops in the Thebaid district ordering them to enter the territory and instruct the people avoiding to mention that Synod. Hence he was himself with zeal and sent immediately some ambassadors with gold and baptismal garments and gifts destined to the king of that people and letters to the governor of Thebaid to take care of the ambassadors and forward them to that people. Therefore, as soon as the queen was informed of this, she wrote a letter, cunningly worded, to the governor of Thebaid, which was brought by an official. The letter was to this effect: "In as much as both his majesty and myself have purposed to send an embassy to the people of the Nobadae, and I am now despatching a blessed man named Julian; and further my will is, that my ambassador should arrive at the aforesaid people before his majesty's; be warned, that, if you permit his ambassador to arrive there before mine, and do not hinder him by various pretexts until mine shall have reached you, and have passed through your province, and arrived at his destination, your life shall answer for it; for I will immediately send and take off your head".

When the governor of Thebaid read this and the king's ambassador reached him, he played him off saying: "Be patient, while we look for and prepare the camels and the men who know the road of the desert: then you shall have them and enter that country". So he dismissed him and awaited till the ambassadors of the gentle queen arrived: they found the camels ready with the men and, the same day, without delay, they pretended to seize violently the camels and left first. The governor then sent a messenger to the king's ambassador: "Lo! when I had made my preparation, and was desirous of sending [p. 10] you onward, ambassadors from the queen arrived, and fell upon me with violence, and took away the beasts of burden I had got ready, and have passed onward. And I am too well acquainted with the fear in which the queen is held, to venture to oppose them. But abide still with me, until I can make fresh preparations for you, and then you shall also go in peace". The king's ambassador, hearing this, rent his garments, threatening and insulting [the governor]. After a few days he could proceed, too, and finally left, without detecting the trick played against him. (pp. 220 - 222).

[ch. 7] Julian's and his companions' arrival in the country of the Nobades; how they were received and the other things they did with God's help.

As Julian and his fellow-ambassadors reached the country and sent information to the king and his princes, a whole army was sent to meet them; they received Julian’s expedition with joy and introduced them to their king, and the latter also received them gladly. Then [Julian] produced the letters of the queen; they were read and their content was understood; they accepted also the great gifts and the numerous baptismal garments, everything in plenty. They soon offered themselves gladly to be instructed, renouncing the errors of their forefathers and confessing the God of the Christians, saying: "This is the one true God, and there is no other beside Him".

After having instructed and prepared them thoroughly, Julian's group informed them also that certain disputes had arisen among Christians about some point of faith and that, therefore, even blessed Theodosius had been removed by the king from his see having refused to obey; that the queen, however, had supported him valiantly, and added: she herself has sent us to you with this faith, that you may follow the patriarch Theodosius and [p. 11] may receive baptism in his faith and may keep his truth. But the king also has sent his ambassadors who are already coming after us'. Then they taught the Nobades how to receive them and what to answer to them.

They had been just instructed firmly in all these things, when the king's ambassador arrived; he also gave the king the letters and presents, and began to inform and tell him, according to his instructions, as follows: "The king of the Romans has sent us to you, that in case of your becoming Christians, you may cleave to the church and those who govern it, and not be led astray after those who have been expelled from it". And when the king of the Nobadae and his princes heard these things, they answered them, saying: "The honourable present which the king of the Romans has sent us we accept, and will also ourselves send him a present. But his faith we will not accept: for if we consent to become Christians, we shall walk after the example [of pope Theodosius] who, because he was not willing to accept the wicked faith of the king, was driven away by him and expelled from his church. If, therefore, we abandon our heathenism and errors, we cannot consent to fall into the wicked faith professed by the king". Then they dismissed the ambassadors, putting such things into writing.

Blessed Julian remained two years with them bearing the great heat; he told later that he used to seat from the third to the tenth hour in caves full of water with the whole people of the region, naked or, better, wearing only a cloth, while he could perspire only with the help of water. He persevered, however, and instructed and baptised the king and his noblemen and a lot of people with them, arranging also to have with him a certain bishop from the Thebaid, an old man by name Theodore.

After having taught them and having organized the community, he entrusted them to that bishop, then left them [p. 12] and came to Constantinople. I was present when the queen received him with great honour and he used to tell many wonderful things about that great people, which things I omit because they are too many, being content with the few I relate, (p. 223).

[ch.8] How the pious [pope] Theodosius on his death bed remembered this people [Nabados] and ordered that Longinus immediately be sent as their bishop. How Longinus went there to replace Julianus, who, having passed away, was lost to them.

Pope Theodosius, on the day he died, remembered this people; more so, because the pious Julian, who had instructed them, had passed away and his loss was felt deeply. Queen Theodore, too, had died. Therefore, Theodosius gave orders that the pious Longinus should take the place of Julian, for Longinus was a men fired with zeal and capable of completing the conversion of the Nabados and strengthening them in the Christian religion. Immediately after the death of the pope, Longinus was ordained bishop of those countries and made preparations for the Journey. When he arrived in that country he was received with great rejoicing. He instructed all the people again in the Christian religion, preaching and enlightening them. He also built a church and established the clergy, organized the liturgy and set up all the church institutions, (pp. 225, 226).

[ch.9] ... After Longinus had been in that country six years, Satan became envious of the good deeds he had done and tried by all means to have him expelled from that country, to arouse rifts and discords in the church because of him and to bring about losses. [Satan] arranged that letters be sent to him [Longinus] by the clergy of Alexandria. The letters were written by the [p. 13] archpriest Theodosius and his nephew Theodorus the archdeacon, whereby they summoned him to leave the country. The Nabados, though very sad and grieved, saluted him on his departure and supplied him with all the provisions for the journey. Thence he went to [see] Theodorus the aged bishop of Philae (Pîlôn), in the Inner Thebaid. Then he left for Mariyôta [Alexandria] and went to the place assigned to him as his dwelling. (pp. 227, 228)

[ch.10] ... Two bishops ... were sent by the Oriental Synodos to Longinus and to the aforementioned Theodorus of Philae ... While they were making preparations for the journey to meet him, the news arrived that he had already left that country and that he was on his way to Egyptos. They therefore went to look for him. ... [They found him at Louba near Alexandria, in a monastery near St. Menas' (pp. 229 - 230)].

One of the two bishops died while on journey in the monastery of Qasiyan. (p. 258).

[ch.48] Longinus had travelled far beyond the people of Nabados [to a country] where other innumerable people were living, towards the inner regions, many days’ distance away from the Nabados. The Greeks call that country Alûdôs. It is commonly believed that the population are Kushites (Kushâyê). God helped Longinus. He spoke to their king, to all the nobles and to all the people under the rule of the king; but this we shall mention at its proper place (p. 281).

[ch.49] [The beginning of the conversion to Christianity of the people whom the Greeks call Alodaei and whom we think to be the Ethiopians.]

[p. 14] As we have related above, the blessed Julian, with the zealous help of queen Theodore, - may her soul rest in peace - came to the great people called Nobades and within two years he trained in the faith their king, their noblemen and great part of his subjects, then left the country after having entrusted the whole people to a certain very old bishop, Theodore by name, who resided at Philae, a town in the southern Thebaid on the borders of the aforesaid region. This bishop used to enter the country, visit the people and give admonitions and return to his town. The things went on like that for about eighteen years, then Longinus left<ref<Patriarch Theodosius while at Constantinople had ordained Longinus bishop [566] for Nubia. Longinus could not arrive in Nubia before 569. In 575 he was invited for the election of the new Patriarch of Alexandria. He went and secretly consecrated a patriarch of his party, but he had to leave for Arabia on account of the fierce persecution raised against him by the Melkites. While in Arabia, Longinus received the invitation to evangelize "'Alwa". He went to 'Alwa, journeying from Korosko through the Nubian desert, thus avoiding the "Melkite" kingdom of Muqurra.</ref> in disguise and came to them and instructed them again, warning them and teaching and baptising those who had remained unbaptised. He passed six years among them and a delegation came to the capital, with whom we have often talked; they used to praise Longinus very much extolling him and thanking him.

When the people of the Alodaei knew that the Nobadae had been converted, their king sent a letter to the king of the Nobades, asking to send him [the bishop] who had taught and baptised the Nobades, that he might instruct and baptise also the Alodaei. But Longinus had received a letter from Alexandria and he had Immediately set out for the country of the Romans [i.e. Egypt] and had fallen into all the trials we described above[3] and It was only after great labour and many efforts that the king of the Alodaei[4] could send a delegation to take him back to [p. 15] their, country. Then the Alexandrians[5], as if moved by satanic envy, were striving to trick that king and his people and turn them against him so that they would not receive him; for this purpose they sent a delegation to the king - a thing against the church laws, we are told - which was not recognized nor received: "We shall not receive - they said - any other but our spiritual father who begat[6] us against by a spiritual generation and whatever his enemies say against him we hold as false". So they rejected and did not receive them. (pp. 203, 204).

[ch.50] [The delegation sent by the Alexandrians to the Alodaei.]

When the Alexandrians learned that the king of the Alodaei had sent a second delegation to the king of the Nobades to send him Longinus, who had instructed him in the faith, then prompted by envious zeal, they sent a delegation to that people to excite them against Longinus and to introduce that ruin and transgression of the ecclesiastical discipline,[7] which they had started and to instruct them in it. Then they prepared a careful and deceiving letter for them in regard to Longinus. They did not fear God and so, moved by envy and hatred, they did not entertain thoughts of Justice; these would have showed to them that it was not according to the fear of God to convey in writing, immediately, before other things convenient to their conversion, what referred to [p. 16] the dissension, quarrels and schisms among Christians. And this to a people, who from error and paganism had asked to turn to Christianity and to learn God's fear. But, since, as aforesaid, their mind was clouded and their foolish intellect[8] was blinded, instead of the fear of God, they laboured to set for them, as first basis, offensive enmity, by construing a letter against Longinus and sending it by means of two bishops - among those they had created contrary to the church laws - and of other people.

They wrote: "Since we heard that you asked that Longinus, at present with the Nobades, be sent to you in order to baptize you, we sent you the bishops and other people to inform you not to be baptized by that man, because he is a heretic and has been deposed, so that he cannot lawfully exercise his priestly functions anymore, nor baptize anybody" and other such things, which they wrote to instruct them In their dangerous belief. But God 'turned the reward of Nabal on his head'[9] and, according to the Scripture, 'people who ignored the law of justice learned the law of justice and became a law to themselves while Israel, who followed the law, did not catch it'[10]. So it happened in this case, that the Alexandrians should be scolded by a pagan people and be ashamed by not being received and, so ashamed and blushing, should return to their homes. Actually the Alodaei told them: "We know not who you are, nor can we receive you, nor be baptized by you: but we will receive him who baptized the Nobadae, and by him will be baptized. And as for what you say of him, we do not listen to its for [p. 17] we see that you are his enemies, and speak thus of him, from envy. Depart, therefore, from our land, that you die not miserably". So they left the country, they themselves and whatever they had said having been rejected, as if by God's intervention, who saw their ill intention and false zeal. (pp. 284, 285).

[ch.51] The narrative of Longinus entering the Alodian country and how he converted them with gladness and baptized them.

When the king of the Alodaei sent the delegation to the king of the Nobades, asking that bishop Longinus be sent to them to instruct his people and baptize them, it was clear that the good disposition of that people towards conversion had been produced in a certain miraculous way by God. Then 'God moved the spirit'[11] of Longinus to depart and come to them; the king and nobles and chiefs [of the Nobades], though sorry that he should leave them, allowed him to go, in the company of some people who know the desert. On the road he got sick and so also some of his companions; as he writes in his letter, besides other animals, seventeen camels died in the desert because of the heat. Moreover, another people, called Macuritae, was midway between the two kingdoms; their king, informed that Longinus was on the way, was moved by satanic envy to place watchmen on all the borders of his kingdom, on all roads, mountains and plains up to the Suph [=Red] Sea, to hold Longinus and hamper the salvation of that great people of the Alodaei. God, however, hid him and blinded the eyes of those who wanted to hold him and 'he passed through them'[12] without being seen by them.

[p. 18] When he reached the borders of the kingdom to which he was directed, the king, soon informed, sent one of his noblest men, by name Itiqya, as he says in his letter, who received him with great attention and introduced him into the country with great honours. And when he reached (the capital), the king himself moved to meet him and received him with great joy. And having settled among them and spoken the Word of God to the king and to all his nobles, they received it with open heart; within a few days they were instructed and the king was baptized together with all his nobles and a great part of the population. That king, therefore, full of Joy and gladness, sent the following letter of gratitude to the king of the Nobades. (pp. 286 - 287).

[ch.52] [The letter of the king of the Alodaei to the king of the Nobades.]

"Thy love is remembered by us, my lord, our brother Orfiulo[13], because thou hast now shown thyself my true kinsman, and that not only in the body, but also in the spirit, in having sent hither our common spiritual father, who has shown me the way of truth, and of the true light of Christ our God, and has baptized me, and my nobles, and all my family. And in everything the work of Christ is multiplied, and I have hope in the holy God, and am desirous moreover of doing thy pleasure, and driving thy enemies from thy land. For he is not thy enemy alone, but also mine: for thy land is my land, and thy people my people. Let not their courage therefore fail, but be manful and take courage: for it is impossible for me to be careless of thee and thy land, especially now that I have become a Christian, [p. 19] by the help of my father, the holy father Longinus. As we have need, however, of church furniture, get some ready for us: for I feel certain that thou wilt send me these things with carefulness, and I will make thee an answer: but on the day on which I was keeping festival I did not wish to write, lest my letters should fail. Be not anxious then, but encourage thyself, and play the man: for Christ is with us".

Such things were written by that new confessor of the faith, the king of the Alodaei, to the king of the Nobades. Now I shall copy also a small part of the letter of the blessed Longinus, which he sent to the king of the Nobades from the same region, to be forwarded to Alexandria; which he did. The extract of the letter follows.

[ch.53] Part of the letter of bishop Longinus.

"... Lest I tell you annoying details and be too prolix, I leave all other points and I tell you only a favourable one, which will certainly delight all of you, who are Christian and perfectly orthodox; ‘I rejoice and congratulate with you all and you also should rejoice and congratulate with me'[14], that He, who wants all men live and does not want the death of a sinner like me, forgetting all my sins, was both mindful of his own mercy and benevolence, and opened the door of his mercy to me, by delivering me from the hands of those who chased me and He let me pass through them, blinding their eyes, so that they did not see me. Nevertheless we experienced both his kindness and his anger, since all those who were with my weakness fell into sickness, from the big to the [p. 20] small, I being the first to suffer from it. It was only just, that I should be the first punished, who by many sins and faults was the cause of the chastisement. Not only we fell sick and were almost despairing to escape, but also the beasts, which were with us, died, unable to bear the heat of the rocks, the thirst and the bad smell of the water, and seventeen of our camels died too.

Now, when the king of the Alodi [sic!] was informed that I had set out to come to him, sent one of his highest officials, by name Itika, and he introduced me in his country with great pomp. And on our arrival at the river's bank, we went on a vessel; and the king hearing of our arrival rejoiced, and came out in person to meet us and received us with great Joy. And by the grace of God we taught him, and have baptized him and his nobles and all his family; and the work of God grows daily. And since there were certain Axumites, who have fallen into the malady of the fancy of Julianus[15] and say that Christ suffered in a body not capable of pain or death, we have told them what is the correct belief, and have required them to anathematize this heresy in writing, and have received those persons upon their presenting their recantation".

[p. 21] Then, after a few lines: "Let all the dioceses [know this] and rejoice with you and praise our God, the lover of men, and let the Fathers (of the Synod, attending the exiled Patriarch) see that they send bishops who may labour and serve in this divine work, which pleases God and those who trust in Him, and which is going on so well. Indeed, there are thousands of people who throng here to salvation, to the glory of our common Saviour Christ. Believe me, I had first a temptation not to write to anybody, but when I considered the danger of those who are negligent in using those spiritual gifts, I decided to send you these small letters for the sake of your souls. I don't want money or gold or clothes and God is my witness, He who knows the hearts of men and knows all my affairs, that I lack my daily bread and it is hard to find vegetables. But it is enough what I said so far".

Such things were written by the same saintly Longinus - I just excerpted from his letter - and he sent it from the country of the Alodaei to the king of the Nobades, that he might forward it to Alexandria. The king actually received the letter and sent it to Alexandria to patriarch Theodore, whom Longinus had consecrated, and he himself [the king] added a letter of his own, in which he recalled the whole affair of Longinus' Journey, the distance of the country, the trials and hardships which rose against him, the help which came to him from God's grace, and the other things which happened in a miraculous manner. The letter was as follows:

Letter of the king of Nobades to Theodore of Alexandria. "First of all I greet you, blessed father, in Christ, and I mean you should know, that seven months ago the king of the great people of the Alodaei, i.e. Ethiopia, sent me a delegation to get bishop Longinus to [p. 22] baptize him; this was actually done, as the king and my holy father wrote to me. As soon as I talked to my father about this affair, he took it up with great zeal and he promised to do his best and he was urging me every day, sayings 'We ought not to neglect this affair, because it is God's one. But because of the wicked devices of him who dwells between us [i.e. between the Nobades and the Alodaei], I mean the king of the Makuritae, I sent my saintly father [Longinus] to the king of the Blemyes, that he might conduct him thither by routes farther inland; but the Makuritae heard also of this, and set people on the look out in all the passes of his kingdom, both in the mountains and in the plains, and as far as the Sea of Weeds [=Red Sea], wishing to lay hands on my father, and put a stop to the good work of God, as my father has written to tell me. He bore sorrows and bitter trials of body and soul in the country of the Blemyes, and moreover a lot of troubles have been added to him together with Indigence. Nevertheless, the enemy's deplorable malice could not refrain the eagerness of my father from the work of Gods our Lord God himself directed the ways and paths of my saintly father, that he might overstep high roads and strong stations, when even loaded camels and other animals died; so God helped him and he escaped and reached the country and was received by the king and the whole people with joy; then he Instructed the king and baptized him with all those who were with him, as it is written in the letter he sent. And know also this, how God the Lord of all accompanied my father and how he entered with him, that you may admire the great miracle He wrought in his regard, that, while my uncle the king and his predecessors, when sending a delegation to that same king, used to take eight or ten years before it returned back, my saintly father sent us [p. 23] a delegation of that king only two hundred days from his arrival in that region, while, many of our previous messengers did not yet return here. Now, to be brief, my father sent me letters, which describe whatever happened to him and whatever he performed; what is revealed in them, you should spread to others. Indeed, it is not becoming that such things be hidden to your Beatitude' through our negligence, and it is highly convenient that your Holiness may hold my saintly father with her holy prayers".

This excerpt from the letter of the king of Nobades, since it proves that the whole deed was divine, we have inserted to confirm our narrative; he wrote two other letters on the same argument, which we omitted for the sake of brevity. And since the importance of the whole affair and of this divine operation is made evident by the two letters of the bishop and of the king to all those who read them, it seemed to us, therefore, useless to enlarge further our narrative; while, then, we thank God and admire, let us remember the words of our Saviour on the same argument: 'Truly, I tell you, that this gospel of the kingdom will be preached among all peoples, and then the consummation will come'.[16]

Such facts were performed by God's help in the year 891 [= 580 A.D] and were recorded by us. (pp. 289 - 294).

[p. 24] APPENDIX: The kingdoms of the Indians [= Ethiopians] and how they became Christians because of a war.[17]

About the same time [under Emperor Anastasius + 518A.D., or Justin 518-527 A.D.7] war broke out between the kings of the Indians, viz. between Xenodon,[18] a king of the Indians, and Aidog, a king of Interior India, who was, at that time, a pagan. The latter, after he had settled a quarrel with Xenodon, moved against Dimion [Dhū Nuwās], king of the Homeritae, who are also Indians. The cause of the war was the following.

The kingdom of the Ethiopians lies beyond the land of the Homeritae[19] near the regions of Egypt and Thebaid, which are no part of India. The Roman merchants, however, on their way to the regions of the Indians called Euzaliae [Auzulis? perhaps Zeila?] and hence to the inner regions of the Indians and the Ethiopians, used to travel through the country of the Homeritae. (For there are seven kingdoms of Indians and Ethiopians, three of which belong to the Indians and four to the Ethiopians. The latter are the remotest ones, as they stretch along the coast of the great ocean which environs the Earth).

[p. 25] Dimion, the king of the Homeritae, seized the aforesaid Roman merchants while crossing his territory for trade purpose, expoliated them of all their property and killed them. [To justify himself] he said: "Actually, the Christians vex the Jews in the countries of the Romans and kill many of them; therefore, I think it is my duty to do the same to them". For this reason, many (Christian traders) were killed, and, as a result, the other merchants stopped all trade with Interior India and Ethiopia, fearing for their lives.

The letter of the King of the Ethiopians to the king of the Homeritae, and the War which ensued between them.

[1st War campaign, 519 A.D., under Elesbass ?]

Then Aidog, the king of the Ethiopians complained to the king of the Homeritae [sending him] his envoys saying "You have acted very wrongfully. By killing the Roman merchants you have disrupted all trade relations. Not only have you stopped all imports to my own kingdom, but also to the other kingdoms: my kingdom, in particular, has suffered badly".

Therefore enmity rose between them and war broke out. As they stood face to face ready for battle, Aidog, the king of the Ethiopians exclaimed: "If I succeed in defeating this assassin who is the king of the Homeritae, I shall become a Christian. In fact, it is the Christian blood he shed that I want to avenge" [an allusion to the martyrs of Najran? therefore, II War campaign, 525 A.D.]. In the battle which ensued, the Ethiopian king defeated the king of the Homeritae, seized and killed him confiscated all his property, conquered his country and annihilated his army to the last man.

[p. 26] Soon after this victory, Aidog did not delay the fulfilment of his vow.[20] He sent two of his nobles to Emperor Justinian [or Justin ?][21] asking him to send a bishop to their country. The emperor, extremely pleased with this request, ordered that a bishop be sent with them, whomsoever they would choose. The envoys carefully enquired and finally asked that John, the paramonarius of St. John’s [church], be ordained and sent to their country. They took him in their company with many clerics, and went back to their own country very happy.

King Aidog received them with great Joy, both the bishop and the priests who accompanied him. He was instructed in the holy teachings, was baptized and made a Christian, and all the nobles followed his example. All the people embraced the Christian religion and began building churches in all places with great zeal, to honour the God of the Christians. This is the way in which God granted the salvation of those errant peoples. (Acta Sanctorum, Oct. VI, die 27, pp. 296 - 299).

  1. It is scarcely possible to understand the history of the conversion of the Nubians to Christianity without referring to the controversies within the Church at that time. The Council of Chalcedon (451 A.D.) had proclaimed the twofold nature of Christ against the Monophysites. The emperor of Constantinople, Justinian I, supported the Council of Chalcedon, but his wife, Theodora, was a Monophysite. Justinian had called on the Egyptian patriarch Theodosius (541 A.D.) to give public adherence to the Chalcedonian formula, but he had refused; therefore Justinian exiled him to Constantinople and appointed another patriarch. From this time until the Arab conquest (639 A.D.) there were two patriarchs in Egypt, the Melkite (i.e. imperial) at Alexandria and the Monophyisite at Nitria.
  2. Books i-iii deal with Constantinople events down to the year 582, Book iv narrates the conversion of the Nobades and Alodaei, beginning from 577 A.D. with flash backs to the earlier evangelization under Patriarch Thedosius, in exile at Constantinople as from 536.
  3. Chapters IX-X [not reported here].
  4. See note 7.
  5. John means the Melkites who were ruling Alexandria of Egypt with the support of the emperor of Constantinople.
  6. "Begat" or "would beget": in the first case, reference would be to the Nobades, in the second to the Alodaei. It is not clear who is the king to whom the delegation was sent; "Alodaei" has been supplied by the translator, but it is uncertain.
  7. The i.e. the Melkite confession.
  8. An implicit quotation from Eph. 4: 18 and Rom. 1:21.
  9. I Kings 25: 39.
  10. Agg. 1 : 14
  11. Rom. 9 : 30f, and 2 : 14.
  12. Lk. 4 : 30
  13. The original Syria "Wrpywl" is differently vowelled by the interpreters: "Orfiulo" (Trimingham), Awarfiūlai. Perhaps, he may be identified with Eirpanome, king of the Nobades in 559.
  14. Phil. 2: 17f.
  15. Julianus of Halicarnassus, a Monophysite, who held the Phantasiast heresy that Our Lord's body was incorruptible. This heresy caused a schism in the Egyptian church in 536. Emperor Justinianus adhered to this heresy on the year of his death. The presence of Phantasiasts in Alodia shows that Christianity had spread to that country before the arrival of Longinus. That paved the way to Longinus and probably explains the reason for the invitation sent by the king to Longinus to come.
  16. Mt. 24:2. 14.
  17. The conversion of the Ethiopian king Aidog, related by John of Ephesus, is no part of Nubia history. John of Nikiou [q.v.], however, copied and applied it to the Nubian king. Therefore, we give this story in an Appendix, for comparison with John of Nikiou's account.
  18. The name "Xenodon" is mentioned only by John of Ephesus
  19. John called "Ethiopia" all the land stretching from the country of the Homeritae [South Arabia] to the southern border of Egypt, including Nubia proper.
  20. Elesbaas's (Caleb) retirement to monastic life was a tale frabricated for pious purposes (Conti Rossini, Storia d'Etiopia, p. 216).
  21. Many an Oriental historian [e.g. Dionysius of Tell Mahre] confused Justin with Justinian.