Amphilochius of Iconium
Last Updated: Sat, 24 Nov 2012 11:03:00 +0000
Church Father Amphilochius of Iconium
Bishop of Iconium (373-); head of the Council of Side in 390 which excommunicated
was a Christian bishop of the fourth century, son of a Cappadocian family of distinction, b. perhaps at Caesarea, ca. 339 or 340; d. probably some time between 394 and 403. His father was an eminent lawyer, and his mother Livia remarkable for gentleness and wisdom.
He was probably first cousin to Gregory of Nazianzus, and was brought up in the peculiarly religious atmosphere of the Christian aristocracy of his native province. He studied law in Antioch with Libanius, practised at Constantinople, but soon retired to lead a religious life in the vicinity of his friend and relative, the "theologian" of Nazianzus.
He was soon drawn within the circle of influence around Basil of Caesarea, and seems to have been for a while a member of the Christian "City of the Poor" that Basil had built at Cæsarea. Early in 374 he was bishop of the important see of Iconium, probably placed there by Basil, whom he continued to aid in Cappadocian ecclesiastical affairs until Basil's death (379). Thenceforth he remained in close relations with Gregory of Nazianzus, and accompanied him to the Council of Constantinople (381), where Jerome met and conversed with him (De Vir. Ill., c. 133).
In the history of theology he occupies a place of prominence for his defence of the divinity of the Holy Spirit against the Macedonians. It was to him that Basil dedicated his work "On the Holy Spirit". He wrote a similar work, now lost. We know, however, that he read it to Jerome on the occasion of their meeting at Constantinople.
His attitude towards Arianism is illustrated by the well-known anecdote concerning his audience with Theodosius I and his son Arcadius. When the Emperor rebuked him for ignoring the presence of his son, he reminded him that the Lord of the universe abhorreth those who are ungrateful towards His Son, their Saviour and Benefactor.
He was very energetic against the Messalians, and contributed to the extirpation of that group. Basil, who appointed him to his bishopric, had a high opinion of Amphilochius. In the next generation Theodoret described him in very flattering terms, and he is quoted by councils as late as 787. Jerome also includes him as one of the Cappadocians in a list of Christian exemplars of secular erudition.Because Amphilochius only started to study theology after he became a bishop, his work retains a certain simplicity. According to Georges Florovsky, it becomes evident in his theological writing that he has no philosophical background or particular interest in it. His writing was contingent upon his needs as a pastor and teacher in the struggle against heresy. That said, Florovsky also praises his writing as "inspired by a calm and sincere faith" and his homiletic use of rhetoric, describing it as "reminiscent of Gregory the Theologian."
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