Classic DACB Collection

All articles created or submitted in the first twenty years of the project, from 1995 to 2015.


Ancient Christian Church

Eusebius of Caesarea (c.260-340) initiated his Ecclesiastical History with reference to “the successions from the holy apostles” [I.1] thereby enunciating the principal one of those several themes by which he intended to tell his story [cf. Grant 1980,]. As a consequence those major urban centers of the Roman imperial world, including its second city, Alexandria, could provide Eusebius with the main points of reference wherein he could document literally by named persons those who were in that succession and thereby presided over the ministry of their respective urban communities.

According to Eusebius, “Antoninus, called Pius” [September 19, 86 - March 7, 161, ruled from July 10, 138], had succeeded “to the principate of the Romans” before the termination of the episcopacy at Alexandria of Eumenes [q.v.], in a reign that remained quiet relative to Christian growth in catechetical school and church throughout the episcopacy of Mark the bishop [q.v.], though internally Eusebius would note the initial rise of “heresies” and “heretics” within both school and church [H.E. IV.5.5-11.6]. Late in Mark’s administration, Antoninus, having “completed the twenty-second year of his principate,” died and “was succeeded by his [adopted] son Marcus [Aelius] Aurelius Verus, also called Antoninus [April 26, 121 - March 17, 180, ruled from March 7, 161], together with his brother Lucius” [H.E.IV.14.10]. Eusebius displays some confusion by this complicated succession of co-emperors, neither of whom were related to one another or to their adoptive predecessor. Lucius [December 15, 130 - early in 169] passed from the scene but shortly after Celadion, who “presided over the community of the Alexandrians for fourteen years,” being followed in the succession by Agrippinus [q.v.] [H.E.IV.19].

Eusebius has inexactly correlated this shift as occurring “when the [Roman] government of which we are at present speaking was in its eighth year,” such that nearly simultaneously Anicetus [a contemporary of Polycarp of Smyrna, in whose administration Valentinus the heretic [q.v.] came to Rome as did Marcellina, a female disciple of Carpocrates [q.v.]; cf. Q1 77,260,267] “completed his episcopate of the church of the Romans” and was followed by Soter with whom begins surviving fragments of papal correspondence [c.166; ODP 10-11; cf. Q1 278-279,281], and “in the church of the Antiochenes also Theophilus [J 25; cf. Q1 236-242] was well known as the sixth from the apostles” [H.E.IV.19-20]. Thus elsewhere the holders of the Christian episcopacy are becoming fully illuminated, but of these “pastors” at Alexandria, there remains nothing more within the tradition that can be adduced pertaining to them.

Clyde Curry Smith

Bibliography (see link to abbreviations table below):

GEEC 33 (FWNorris)

Supplementary Bibliography

Grant 1980

Eusebius as Church Historian, by Robert McQueen Grant. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Oulton 1927 Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea, The Ecclesiastical History and the Martyrs of Palestine, translated with Introduction and Notes, by Hugh Jackson Lawlor and John Ernest Leonard Oulton. London: SPCK. 2 volumes. Volume I: Translation, by John Ernest Leonard Oulton. (Specific references also cited as H.E. with book and chapter).

This article, received in 2004, was researched and written by Dr. Clyde Curry Smith, Professor Emeritus of Ancient History and Religion, University of Wisconsin, River Falls.

Click here forAbbreviations and Source References for Ancient African Christians.