Theophilus of Alexandria
Theophilus of Alexandria a bishop in the latter part of the 4th and the beginning of the 5th century, is distinguished for his persecution of the Origenists; for his hostility to Chrysostom, and as being one of the most violent and unscrupulous even among the ecclesiastics of the 5th century. He succeeded Timotheus as bishop of Alexandria in A.D. 385, and soon after secured the favor of the emperor by a characteristic maneuver. When the fate of the empire was suspended on the battle which was to decide between Maximus and Theodosius (388), he sent his legate, Isidore, to Rome provided with letters to both, the one or the other of which he was to deliver with certain presents, according to the issue of the battle. He was also very zealous against heathenism, and in 391 obtained the emperor's consent to use severe measures against the pagans in his district, which resulted in the most of them being driven out of Egypt. His behavior to the different sects of Christians was marked by the same unscrupulous inconsistency. He appears to have passed a part of his early life among the monks of Nitria, some of whom were Origenists and others Anthropomorphites. At first he declared himself decidedly against the latter, and, in opposing them, he sided openly with the Origenists, drawing his arguments from the works of Origen. When, however, it became evident that the majority of the Egyptian monks were Anthropomorphites, Theophilus went over to them about 399, condemned the writings of Origen, commanded all his clergy to burn them, and commenced a cruel persecution of all who opposed the Anthropbmorphites, while he himself continued to read the works of Origen with admiration. In 401 he issued a violent letter in which he condemned the writings of Origen and threatened. the latter's adherents; in the following year he sent forth another of like character, to the unbounded delight of Jerome. Theophilus was subsequently called to Constantinople by the empress Eudoxia, and secured the deposition and banishment of Chrysostom (q.v.) in 403. During the tumult which followed, Theophilus escaped and returned to Alexandria, where, in 404, he issued a third Paschal letter against the Origenists, and where he died in 412. The works of Theophilus mentioned by the ancient writers are, Προσφωνητικὸν πρὸς τοὺς φρονοῦντας τὰ ᾿Ωριγένους, quoted by Theodoret (Didl. 2, 1291); and which Gennaldius (33) calls "adversus Origenem unum et grande volumem," Letter to Porphyry, Bishop of Antioch, quoted in the Acta Concil. Ephes. pt. 1, c. 4: the three Paschal Letters already mentioned and one more: —and some other unimportant orations, letters, and controversial works. The Paschal Letters are still extant in a translation by Jerome, and are published in the Antidot. contra Dicers. Omnium. Sceculorum laeresias (Basel, 1528 fol.); and the whole of his extant remains are contained in Galland, Biblioth. Patr. 7:603 fol. Cave, Hist. Lift. s. a. 385, p. 279, 280; Murdock, note to Mosheim, Eccles. Hist. 1, 444 (Engl. ed.). —Smith, Dict. of Greek and Latin Biog. s.v.