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, esp.ch.VI]. 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.
For Alexandria, while the point of reference began with “Mark the Evangelist” (q.v.; cf. H.E. II.15-16.1) though in an era, and even Eusebian context, where the word “bishop” was not yet appropriate, he whom Eusebius designated “first” was one Annianus (q.v.; cf. H.E. II.24; III.13, 21]. When “in the fourth year of Domitian [October 24, 51 - September 18, 96, ruled from September 13, 81]” Annianus died [III.14], he was succeeded by Avilius (q.v.), who remained, as designated “second” for thirteen years until his own death “in the first year of Trajan [53- August 8, 117, ruled from January 25, 98],” when he too was succeeded by Cerdon who was “third over the people of that place [= Alexandria]” [III.21]. With Cerdon the title “bishop” first appears; though with an oblique reference back to him, Eusebius states that “about the twelfth year of the reign of Trajan . . . he departed this life; and Primus [q.v.], the fourth from the apostles, was appointed to the ministry of the people there” [IV.1]. Of these Alexandrians, 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)
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.