« Pothinus, bp. of Lyons, martyr Praedestinatus, an author Praxeas, a heretic »

Praedestinatus, an author

Praedestinatus. The author known by this name wrote an anonymous work, first pub. in 1643 from a MS. in the Cathedral Library of Rheims by Sirmond, who somewhat inappropriately gave it its title from those against whom it was directed, and several times reprinted, e.g. by Migne (Patr. Lat. liii.), and bk. i. by Oehler in his Corpus Haeresiologicum.

The author complains that men were passing themselves off as of the household of 856faith who really were most treacherous enemies of the church. These men taught that certain were by God's foreknowledge so predestined to death that neither Christ's passion nor baptism, faith, hope, nor charity could help them. They might fast, pray, and give alms, but nothing could avail them, because they had not been predestined to life. On the other hand, those who had received this predestination might neglect and despise all righteousness, yet the gate of life would be opened to them without knocking, while against others who knocked, nay shouted, for admission, it would remain firmly closed. A work by one of these heretics had lately fallen into the writer's hands, and it was necessary to drag it to light and completely refute it. This accordingly is done in the present treatise, consisting of three books. In bk. i. the author clears himself of all suspicion of sympathy with heresy of any kind by enumerating and reprobating the 90 heresies by which up to his time Christ's truth had been perverted, the last and worst being that of the Predestinarians. It determines limits for the date of the book that in this list the last but one is the Nestorian heresy. From this and the silence about Eutychianism we may infer that it was written between 431 and 449, just the period when the semi-Pelagian controversy was most active. The author professes that his heretical catalogue was epitomized from Hyginus, Polycrates, Africanus, Hesiodus, Epiphanius, and Philaster, who, he tells us, wrote against different heresies in this chronological order. It is remarkable that the first four of these confutations of heresy are not mentioned by any one else, but still more remarkable that the writer is silent as to his obligations to the tract on heresies which Augustine addressed to Quodvultdeus, although his list of 90 heresies agrees, article by article, with Augustine's list of 88, with the addition of the two later heresies, Nestorianism and Predestinarianism, while the substance of each article is manifestly taken from Augustine. These unfavourable suspicions of the writer's literary morality are confirmed as we proceed. It is the author's plan to mention with each heresy the name of the orthodox writer who refutes it. We are thus told of a number of personages whom no one else mentions—Diodorus of Crete who refuted the Secundians, Philo the Alogi, Theodotus of Pergamus the Colorbasians, Crato, a Syrian bishop, who refuted the Theodotians, Tranquillus the Noetians, Euphranon of Rhodes the Severians, and a host of others of whom we should expect to hear elsewhere if they were not imaginary personages. Moreover, when Praedestinatus ascribes the confutation to real persons his assertions are usually chronologically impossible. Thus he makes the apostle Thomas confute Saturninus, Barnabas in Cyprus the Carpocratians; he makes Alexander, who was bp. of Rome at the very beginning of the 2nd cent., write against Heracleon, who lived in the latter half of the century; the Tertullianists are condemned by Soter, who must have been dead 30 years before Tertullian separated from the church; the imaginary heresiologist, Hesiod of Corinth, is made to be the bishop who first opposed Arius, and in answer to whose prayers that heretic died. We have thus before us, not inaccurate history but unscrupulous and unskilful invention, and it can only be from want of acquaintance with his character as a writer that he is ever cited as an historical authority.


« Pothinus, bp. of Lyons, martyr Praedestinatus, an author Praxeas, a heretic »
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