PRIMASIUS: Bishop of Hadrumetum and primate of Byzacena in Africa; d. about 560. Of his early life nothing seems to be known, but in 551, after he had become a bishop, he was called with other bishops to Constantinople and took part in the Three Chapters Controversy (q.v.) where he shared the fortunes of Vigilius, bishop of Rome; helped to condemn Theodorus Ascidas, bishop of Cæsarea, the chief promoter of the controversy, and fled with Vigilius to Chalcedon. He declined to attend the so-called fifth ecumenical council at Constantinople in the absence of the pope; was the sole African to sign the papal constitutum to Justinian, and was ingloriously crushed with his leader. While at Constantinople, Primasius studied the exegesis of the Greeks, and his fame is chiefly due to his commentary on the Apocalypse. This work, divided into five books (MPL, lxviii. 793-936), is of importance both as containing the pre-Cyprian Latin text of the Apocalypse of the early African church, and as aiding in the reconstruction of the most influential Latin commentary on the Apocalypse, the exegetical work of the Donstist Ticonius (q.v.; see also AUTPERTUS, AMBROSIUS). The text and exegesis o£ Revelation xa. 1-xxi. 6 are taken without reference from Augustine's De civitate Dei, xx. 7-17. Of special interest is a letter of Augustine to the physician Maximus of Thenæ preserved by Primasius, in which the four philosophical cardinal virtues are combined with the later three so-called theological virtues to make the number seven, in a manner nowhere else known of Augustine. The work of the Donatist Ticonius was considered by Primasius a piece of treasure adrift and belonging of right to the Church, needing only to be revised and expurgated. He followed essentially the strongly spiritual exegetical method of Ticonius, approved the theory introduced by Victorinus and developed by Ticonius that the Apocalypse in certain places repeats with different words and imagery what had previously been said, and held the true content of the prophecy to be the conflict between the Church and the world instead of Ticonius' more concrete interpretation of the struggle of the Donatists with false brethren and gentiles. The first edition of Primasius' commentary was by Eucharius Cervicornus (Cologne, 1535; reprinted, Paris, 1544), but the moat complete and still the most valuable is that of Basel, 1544, which is based on a very ancient manuscript of the Benedictine Monastery of Murbach in Upper Alsace. The same monastery, according to a manuscript catalogue, possessed a work Contra hæreticos, which is no longer extant, and alludes to other works, especially one on Jeroboam. The commentary on the Pauline epistles and on Hebrews ascribed to Primasius by Migne (MPL, lxviii. 409-793) is spurious.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: H, Kihn, Theodor von Mopsuestia and Junidius Africanus ale Exegeten, pp. 248--254, Freiburg, 1880; J. Hausaleiter, in ZKW, vii (1886), 239-257; idem, in T. Zahn's Forschungen zur Geshichte den neutestamerlichen Kanons, iv. 1-224, Leipsic, 1891; H. Zimmer, Pelagius in Irland, Berlin, 1901; Ceillier, Auteurs sacré xi. 283-284, x. 332, xi. 879; DNB, iv. 467.


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