[Access article in PDF]
Theophilus of Antioch. The Life and Thought of a Second-Century Bishop
Theophilus of Antioch. The Life and Thought of a Second-Century Bishop. By Rick Rogers. (Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books. 2000. Pp. vii, 193. $55.00.)
Is there really a Life of Theophilus apart from the Writings (chapters 1-2)? One needs more about his literary habits, and while Professor Rogers, author of this interesting study, says, "it is fun to notice how Theophilus insistently claims that pagan thinkers are often, what I would call, 'ideological kleptomaniacs'" (p. 134), he seems to neglect Theophilus' own reliance on anthologies with slight reference to primary texts, except for some Homer and Hesiod, possibly a little Plato, and some minor specialties. Jerome's judgment on his books as edifying (p. 8) proves little since he had not read them.
For his ideas about creation one might compare Tertullian Against Hermogenes, based on Theophilus, because the Genesis text is essentially the same (Tertullian also used Theophilus in Apology 19). On Christology one can still consult R. V. Sellers, Eustathius of Antioch (Cambridge University Press, 1928), p. 58 n.2, on the Doctrinal Statement of Sardica (Theodoret HE 2.8). There are also similarities in Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies, where as in Theophilus there is no "genuine Trinitarian doctrine" and the Logos is identified as both the will of the Father and his voice (Marcovich, Hippolytus [PTT 25, 1986], 42-43). Theologically, the Antiochenes, beginning with Theophilus (like Ignatius at another extreme), had little connection with the Nicene winners on these special doctrines. Neither they nor the early Alexandrians (Clement, Origen, Athanasius) preserved any memory of him. What could even Eusebius think or know about him, since he had not read his work? And can early writings be compared with "Nicene orthodoxy"? Irenaeus, for example, claims to be following tradition, but he selects the traditions he wants to follow.
In his last two chapters Rogers reviews my attempts to show from possible allusions that Theophilus had some definite ideas about Jesus, and concludes [End Page 309] that the connections are too vague to be useful. Reconsideration suggests that some of my suspicions may have been "misplaced concretions," and I agree that it is hard to reconstruct ideas about someone not mentioned. None the less, the claim that Theophilus' "profile of this first-century figure was situated in an appropriate ecclesiastical context" (p. 167) is also a leap in the dark, as much scholarship must inevitably be.
Finally, while I naturally welcome use of my edition I should note that the most modern is by Miroslav Marcovich in Patristische Texte und Studien, Volume 44 (1995).
Robert M. Grant
University of Chicago (Emeritus)