Scanned text contains errors.
Younger, a. d. 439, to which period his Ecclesiastical History extends (H. E. vii. 48). In fact, he probably survived that date several years, as he published a second edition of his history (H. E. ii. 1), and had opportunity between the first and second editions to procure access to several additional documents, to weigh their testimony, and to re-write the first and second books. Photius, in his brief notice of Socrates and his history (Bibliotli. Cod. 28), and Nicephorus Callisti (H. E. i. 1) in a still briefer notice, do not speak of his profession of a scholasticus or pleader ; from which some have inferred (e. g. Hamberger, apud Fabric. Biblioth. Graec. vol. vii. p. 423, note g.; comp. Ceillier, Auteurs Sacres, vol. xiii. p. 669), that the title of his work is inaccurate in giving him that designation : but we think that no such inference can be justly drawn from the omission of so unimportant a circumstance in notices so brief as those of Photius and Nicephorus. The general impartiality of Socrates may be taken as an indication that he was not an ecclesiastic ; while his literary habits and his balancing of evidence (e. g. //. E. ii. 1) are in harmony with the forensic pursuits in which the title scholasticus shows him to have been engaged.
Another much disputed point is, what were his religious opinions, or, to state the question more accurately, did he belong to the church claiming to be " Catholic," and which comprehended the bulk of the Homoousian or orthodox community, or to the smaller and u schlsmatical" body of the KaBapoi, w Puritans" or Novatians. From the general accordance of the Novatians with " the Church " in religious belief and ecclesiastical constitution, the only difference between the two bodies being the sterner temper and stricter discipline of the dissenting community [novatia-nus], it is difficult to trace any decisive indications in the writings of Socrates to which body he gave his adherence. The testimony of Nicephorus Callisti (H. E.i.l) would be decisive, had it been the testimony of a contemporary, and more impartial in tone. He speaks of him as " Socrates the pure (/mflapos, i. e. Puritan) in designation, but not also in principle." To the testimony of Nicephorus we may oppose the silence of earlier writers, as Cassiodorus (De divinis Lection, c.17, and Praefat. Historiae Tripartitae), Liberatus (Kreviar. c. 2), Theodore Anagnostes or Lector (Epistola Histor. Eccles. praefixa], Evagrius (H. E. i. 1), some one or other of whom would have probably mentioned his being a Novatian, had he really belonged to that sect. (See the Veterum Testimo?iia collected by Valesius, and prefixed to his edition of Socrates.) It is argued that he has carefully recorded the succession of the Novatian bishops of Constantinople ; has' spoken of these prelates in the highest terms, and has even recorded (PL E. vii. 17) a miracle which occurred to Paul, one of them ; and that he appears to have taken a peculiar interest in the sect, and to have recorded various incidents respecting them with a particularity which would hardly be expected except from a member of their body. But these things, as Valesius justly contends, may be accounted for by his avowed purpose of recording events occurring in Constantinople more mi-nutelv, because he was a native and resident of
** — ^
that city (H. E. v. 24), and by sympathy with the stricter morality of the Novatians, or by some family connection or intimate friendship with some of their members (comp. Socrat. //. E. i. 13).
When, however, Valesius adduces as positive evidence of his adherence to the " Catholic " church, that he repeatedly mentions it without qualification as " the church," and classes the Novatians with other sectaries, he employs arguments as little valid as those which, just before, he had refuted. Socrates, though a Novatian, might speak thus in a conventional sense, just as Protestants of the present day often speak of " Catholics," or " Catholic church," Dissenters of " the church " or " the church of England," and persons of reputedly heterodox views of " Orthodoxy " or " the Orthodox : " such terms, when once custom has determined their application, being used as conventional and convenient without regard to the essential justness and propriety of their application. The question of the Novatianism of Socrates must be regarded as undetermined ; but the preponderance of the various arguments is in favour of his connection with the " Catholic church."
The 'Etf/cA^cnacrTT? lo-ropia, Historia Ecclesiastica, of Socrates extends from the reign of Constantine the Great to that of the younger Theodosius, a. d. 439, and comprehends the events of a hundred and forty years, according to the writer's own statement (H. E. vii. 48), or more accurately of a hundred and thirty-three years, in one of the most eventful periods of the history of the Church, when the doctrines of orthodoxy were developed and defined in a succession of creeds, each step in the process being occasioned or accompanied and followed by commotions which shook the whole Christian community and rent it into sects, some of which have long since passed away, while others have continued to exist. Three general councils, the first Nicene, the first Constantinopolitan, and the first Ephesian are recorded in the history, and two others, the second Ephesian, 77 XrjffrpiKii, and the Chalcedonian, were held at no great interval from the period at which it ends. The interest and importance of the period may be further inferred from the fact that we have three histories of it by contemporary writers (Socrates, Sozomen, and Theodoret) which have come down to us in a complete form, and which furnished materials for the Historia Tri-partita of Cassiodorus [cassiodorus ; epiphanjus, No.l 1 ], and that we have fragments of another (that of Philostorgiu-s) written about the same period. Of these histories that of Socrates is perhaps the most impartial. In fact he appears to have been a man of less bigotry than most of his contemporaries, and the very difficulty of determining from internal evidence some points of his religious belief, may be considered as arguing his comparative liberality. His history is divided into seven books. Commencing with a brief account of the accession and conversion of Constantine the Great, and the civil war of Constantine and Licinius, the author passes to the history of the Arian controversy, which he traces from its rise to the banishment of Atha-nasius, the recal and death of Arius, and the death, soon after, of Constantine himself, a. d. 306—337 (Lib. i.). He then carries on the history of the contentions of the Arian or Eusebian and Homoousian parties during the reign of Constan-tius II. a. d. 337—36(f (Lib. ii.). The struggle of heathenism with Christianity under Julian, and the triumph of Christianity under Jovian (a. d. 360—364), then follow (Lib. iii.). The renewed struggle of the Arians and Hornoousians under Valens, a. d. 364—378 (Lib. iv.) : the triumph