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The Ecclesiastical History Of Scholasticus by Socrates Scholasticus

Chapter III.--Birth and Education of John Bishop of Constantinople.

John was a native of Antioch in Syria-Coele, son of Secundus and Anthusa, and scion of a noble family in that country. He studied rhetoric under Libanius the sophist, and philosophy under Andragathius the philosopher. Being on the point of entering the practice of civil law, and reflecting on the restless and unjust course of those who devote themselves to the practice of the forensic courts, he was turned to the more tranquil mode of life, which he adopted, following the example of Evagrius. Evagrius himself had been educated under the same masters, and had some time before retired to a private mode of life. Accordingly he laid aside his legal habit, and applied his mind to the reading of the sacred scriptures, frequenting the church with great assiduity. He moreover induced Theodore and Maximus, who had been his fellow-students under Libanius the sophist, to forsake a profession whose primary object was gain, and embrace a life of greater simplicity. Of these two persons, Theodore afterwards became bishop of Mopsuestia in Cilicia, and Maximus of Seleucia in Isauria. At that time being ardent aspirants after perfection, they entered upon the ascetic life, under the guidance of Diodorus and Carterius, who then presided over a monastic institution. The former of these was subsequently elevated to the bishopric of Tarsus, and wrote many treatises, in which he limited his attention to the literal sense of scripture, avoiding that which was mystical. But enough respecting these persons. Now John was then living on the most intimate terms with Basil, at that time constituted a deacon by Meletius, but afterwards ordained bishop of Cæsarea in Cappadocia. Accordingly Zeno the bishop on his return from Jerusalem, appointed him a reader in the church at Antioch. While he continued in the capacity of a reader he composed the book Against the Jews. Meletius having not long after conferred on him the rank of deacon, he produced his work On the Priesthood, and those Against Stagirius; and moreover those also On the Incomprehensibility of the Divine Nature, and On the Women who lived with the Ecclesiastics. Afterwards, upon the death of Meletius at Constantinople, -- for there he had gone on account of Gregory Nazianzen's ordination, -- John separated himself from the Meletians, without entering into communion with Paulinus, and spent three whole years in retirement. Later, when Paulinus was dead, he was ordained a presbyter by Evagrius the successor of Paulinus. Such is a brief outline of John's career previous to his call to the episcopal office. It is said that on account of his zeal for temperance he was stern and severe; and one of his early friends has said that in his youth he manifested a proneness to irritability, rather than to modesty.' Because of the rectitude of his life, he was free from anxiety about the future, and his simplicity of character rendered him open and ingenuous; nevertheless the liberty of speech he allowed himself was offensive to very many. In public teaching he was powerful in reforming the morals of his auditors; but in private conversation he was frequently thought haughty and assuming by those who did not know him.
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