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A Dictionary Of Christian Biography And Literature by Henry Wace

Letter Z

Zeno (16), emperor of the East a.d.474-491, is famous in church history for the publication of the HENOTICON and for his active part in the prolonged disputes about Timotheus Aelurus, Timotheus Salofaciolus, Peter Mongus, and Peter the Fuller. Pope SIMPLICIUS and ACACIUS used him very effectually against their opponents. For a full analysis of the letters of popes Simplicius and Felix III. to him see Ceillier, t. x. pp.410-420.


Zephyrinus, bp. of Rome after Victor, under the emperors Septimius Severus and Caracalla. Lipsius concludes his episcopate to have been either 18 or 19 years, from 198 or 199 to 217. His reign was marked by serious disturbance at Rome owing to doctrinal controversies and consequent schism. Zephyrinus seems to have been of no sufficient mark to take a personal lead, but to have been under the guidance of Callistus, a man of more practical ability who succeeded him as pope. This Callistus and his learned opponent Hippolytus appear to have been the leading spirits of the time at Rome.

The two notable heresies of the time were Montanism and Monarchianism. The see of Rome, when occupied by Zephyrinus, declared against Montanism (Eus. H. E. ii.25; iii.28, 31; vi.20). [[630]CAIUS.] Thus Zephrinus, though no action of his in the matter is recorded, may certainly be concluded to have been no favourer of the Montanists. But neither he nor Callistus, who succeeded him, is free from the imputation of having countenanced one school of the Monarchians, that which Praxeas had introduced into Rome. Montanism and Monarchianism represented two opposite tendencies. The former was the product of emotional enthusiasm, the latter of intellectual speculation grounded on the difficulty of comprehending the mystery of the Godhead in Christ. Those called by the general name of Monarchians, though differing widely in their views, agreed in denying a divine personality in Christ distinct from that of the Father, being jealous for the Unity, and what was called the Monarchy of God. One school was also called Patripassian, because its position was held to imply that in the sufferings of Christ the Father suffered. |They taught that the one Godhead, not one Person thereof only, had become incarnate, the terms Father and Son with them denoting only the distinction between God in His Eternal Being, and God as manifested in Christ. Such views were obviously inconsistent with orthodox Trinitarian doctrine, and their outcome was the Sabellian heresy. Praxeas appears to have been the first to introduce this form of heresy at Rome, and, if Tertullian is to be believed, the popes of the time supported Praxeas and his doctrine rather than otherwise. In addition to this testimony of Tertullian (whose treatise against Praxeas, written in the time of Zephyrinus, has been supposed, not without reason, to have been directed against the reigning pope as much as against the original heresiarch) we have that of the Refutation of all Heresies, attributed to HIPPOLYTUS, a learned writer of great note in his day, whose real ecclesiastical position is still open to discussion. He probably was bishop over a community at Rome which claimed to be the true church, out of communion with the pope, after the accession of Callistus, and possibly also under Zephyrinus.

Callistus, in the time of pope Victor, had been residing under suspicion at Antium. Zephyrinus, the successor of Victor, seems to have had no misgivings about him, recalled him to Rome, gave him some position of authority over the clergy, and |set him over the cemetery.| Zephyrinus is described as an unlearned and ignorant man, entirely managed by Callistus, who induced him, for his own purposes, to declare generally for, but sometimes against, the Patripassians. The picture of the Roman church during the episcopate of Zephyrinus, as given in the Refutation of Hippolytus, discloses a state of discord and disruption not recorded by the historians. The picture, indeed, may be somewhat overcoloured under the influence of odium theologicum, and Callistus may not be the unprincipled adventurer, or Zephyrinus altogether the greedy and ignorant tool, that the writer describes. Dr. Döllinger (Hippolyt. und Callist.), who attributes the whole work to Hippolytus, takes this view. He defends Callistus against the libel on his character, which, however, he allows may have had some ground, but acquits Hippolytus of wilful misrepresentation, supposing him to have been partly misled by false reports and partly by prejudice, being himself a strict maintainer of ancient discipline, while Callistus was a liberal. It is difficult, however, to acquit the writer of deliberate and malignant slander unless the picture given of the popes was mainly a true one. There remains the idea of Dr. Newman, that |the libellous matter| in the Elenchus of Hippolytus was not his; but for this there is no foundation beyond the supposed difficulty of believing it so. If Hippolytus wrote it, it is to be remembered that he was undoubtedly a divine of greater learning and repute than his rivals, and that he seems to have left a name without reproach behind him. All three (like some others who were bitterly at variance during life) are now together in the Calendar of Saints.

Zephyrinus is further accused of undue laxity in matters of discipline. Our informant, Tertullian, writing in his time, speaks indignantly of a papal edict allowing admission of adulterers, after penance, to communion.

There was yet another school of Monarchians at Rome in the time of Zephyrinus, adding to the discord. Its teacher, Theodotus the banker, who held that Christ, though conceived by the Holy Ghost, was a mere man, and even inferior to Melchizedek, had his sect apart and out of communion with the church (Eus. H. E. v.28; Tertull. de Praescript.). Eusebius (l.c.), quoting from an unnamed writer of the time, tells a story of Natalius, a confessor for the faith, having been persuaded by Theodotus and his colleague Asclepiodotus to be made bishop of their sect, of his having subsequently thrown himself in sackcloth and ashes with many tears at the feet of Zephyrinus, and been thereupon received into communion. Another of the same school, Artemon or Artemas, taught at Rome under Zephyrinus, and apart from his communion. He alleged that his own doctrine was that which the apostles had handed down, and which had been accepted by the Roman see till pope Victor's time, Zephyrinus having been the first to falsify the ancient creed. To this bold assertion his opponents replied that the fact of Victor having excommunicated Theodotus the carrier, who was |the leader and father of this God-denying apostasy,| was proof that Artemon's doctrine had not been formerly that of the Roman church (Eus. H. E. v.28; cf. Epiphan. Haer. lxv.1, 4; Theodoret, Haer. Fab. ii.4; Phot. Biblioth.48). During this episcopate the emperor Severus, a.d.202, issued an edict which forbade any person to become a Jew or a Christian (Aelii Spartiani Severus, c.17), which was probably interpreted so as to include existing converts; for in some parts it was followed by severe persecution, though there is no evidence that Zephyrinus or the Christians at Rome were then molested.

Some time during this episcopate Origen paid a short visit to Rome (Eus. H. E. vi.14). Zephyrinus is said (Catal. Felic.) to have been buried |in cimiterio suo juxta cimiterium via Appia| -- i.e. apparently not in |the cemetery| itself, over which Callistus had been set (supra), but in one of his own adjoining it. Lipsius supposes that the cemetery here meant was one which Zephyrinus had acquired, and that, Callistus having greatly added to it, the larger extension was afterwards called |the cemetery.|

Zephyrinus is said in Catal. Felic. to have ordered that no cleric of any order should be ordained except in the presence of the clergy and faithful laity, and to have made a constitution, the purport of which, as it stands now in the texts of Cat. Fel., it is not easy to understand, but which is given in the Lib. Pontif. (Vit. S. Zephyr.) as meaning that |the ministers should carry patens of glass in the church before the priests when the bishop celebrated masses, and that the priests should stand in attendance while masses were thus celebrated.| There is other conclusive evidence that anciently, and to a date considerably later than that of Zephyrinus, glass patens as well as chalices were in use (see Labbe, p.619 -- nota Binii (c.) in Vit. Zephyr.).

Together with most of the early popes, St. Zephyrinus is commemorated as a martyr; |Aug.26. Romae S. Zephyrinus Papae et martyris| (Martyr. Rom.). There is no ground for supposing him to have been one. Two spurious epistles have been assigned to him (see Labbe).

[J.B -- Y.]

Zoaras (2), a turbulent Monophysite Syrian monk, a zealous adherent of Severus, associated with him and Peter of Apamea in the petitions of the orthodox clergy of Syria to the council of Constantinople under Mennas, a.d.536, as leaders of the Monophysite heresy, and condemned with them by the synod. He became a Stylite. On being driven after several years from his pillar by the orthodox party (the |Synodites|), he started for Constantinople with ten of his monks to complain to Justinian, who hastily summoned a synod to give him audience. Zoaras uncompromisingly denounced |the accursed council of Chalcedon.| This greatly irritated Justinian, who rebuked him for his presumption. Zoaras in no measured terms denounced the emperor for his support of heresy. A monastery in the suburb of Sykas was assigned as a residence to him and his followers by the emperor, where he lived quietly, exercising great liberality. The embassage of Agapetus, patriarch of Rome, with whom Zoaras held a very stormy encounter which resulted in the deposition of the patriarch Anthimus as a concealed Monophysite and the appointment of Mennas, a.d.536, caused an outbreak of orthodox fury against Zoaras and his followers. In the various |libelli| presented to the synod under Mennas he and his heresy are denounced in no measured terms. He is described as a leader of the Acephali (Labbe, v.108). He had been already condemned and excommunicated by Anthimus's predecessor Epiphanius (ib.251). Mennas and his synod repeated the condemnation, and Justinian banished Zoaras from Constantinople and its vicinity, and from all the chief cities of the empire, charging him to live in solitude. According to the biography in Land, however, Justinian assigned him a monastery in Thrace, named Dokos, 30 miles away. Here Theodorus, the Monophysite patriarch of Alexandria, was living and propagating his doctrines. The length of Zoaras's residence here is uncertain. After a time he left Thrace, and after some years died, leaving as his successor his disciple the presbyter Ananias. Assem. Bibl. Or. ii.58, 235; Land, Anecdot. Syr. ii.12-22; Bar-heb. Chron. Eccl. ed. Abbeloos, i. pp 206-208; Labbe, v.108, 254, 267.


Zosimus, bp. of Rome
Zosimus (4), bp. of Rome after Innocent I., from Mar.18, 417, to Dec.25, 418, under Honorius as the Western and Theodosius II. as the Eastern emperor.

Coelestius, having been expelled from Constantinople by the patriarch Atticus, went to Rome, a.d.417, hoping for the support of Zosimus, who had newly succeeded to the Roman see. Atticus had written letters about Coelestius to Asia, Carthage, and Thessalonica, but not to Rome; the churches of Rome and Constantinople not being then in full communion, owing to the name of John Chrysostom not having been restored to the diptychs of the latter church. On the other hand, Zosimus had before him, when Coelestius appealed to him, letters addressed by Pelagius to pope Innocent, but not received by him before his death. These letters had by no means satisfied St. Augustine (de Pecc. Orig. c.17, 21; De Grat. x.30, 31); but being expressed so as to evade the main points at issue, they may have seemed a sufficient exculpation to the pope, less sharpsighted than Augustine in detecting heresy, and apparently less ready to find fault with it in this case. Thus Zosimus was disposed to receive Coelestius with favour, while the independent action of the African bishops in the time of Innocent may have further inclined him to give the condemned persons a chance of clearing themselves. Coelestius appeared before him in the church of St. Clement, presented his defence, and was questioned as to whether he spoke sincerely and assented to what pope Innocent had written to the African bishops against the heresies imputed to him and Pelagius. This, Augustine tells us, he did, but refused to condemn the alleged errors imputed to him in the libellus of Paulinus (his original accuser at Carthage, a.d.412), which had been sent to Rome. He further, according to Augustine, desired the pope's correction of any error of which he might through ignorance have been guilty (Aug. de Pecc. Orig. c.607). Zosimus thereupon took up his cause, as that of one unfairly and improperly condemned. He wrote to this effect to Aurelius and the African bishops, desiring them either to send persons to Rome to convict the accused of heresy or to hold him innocent, and inveighing against the two Gallican bishops, Heros and Lazarus, who had been the accusers of Coelestius. Zosimus wrote a second time to Aurelius and the Africans, having meanwhile received a letter in favour of Pelagius from Praylius, bp. of Jerusalem, and others from Pelagius himself. These last had entirely satisfied him of the writer's orthodoxy; they had been publicly read at Rome, and received (says Zosimus) with universal joy; and Zosimus wrote again to Carthage, declaring Pelagius and Coelestius to have fully vindicated themselves against the calumnious accusations of those |whirlwinds and storms of the church,| Heros and Lazarus; to have been condemned by unjust judges; and to be still in the church's communion. He sent with his letter copies of those which he had received from Pelagius.

By the same messenger Zosimus summoned Paulinus, the original accuser of Coelestius, to Rome. Coelestius had retorted on Paulinus the charge of heresy, and neither the latter nor any other accusers had come to Rome to prove their charges, and now Paulinus respectfully refused to go, saying there was no need. He assumes in his extant reply that the pope's verdict had already been on his side, in that Coelestius had been called upon at Rome, however in vain, to condemn the heresies which he, Paulinus, had charged him with. Aurelius also, and the other African bishops, remained resolute. Several letters, no longer extant, appear to have passed between them and Zosimus, alluded to by Augustine (contra Duas Ep. Pelag. lib. ii. c.3), and by Zosimus himself. Early in 418 they held a council of 214 bishops at Carthage, which confirmed their condemnation of Pelagius and Coelestius, and declared, with regard to Rome, that they must hold the verdict of Innocent against the heresiarchs to be still in force, unless the latter should recant. The decrees of this council were sent to Zosimus; and he, in his extant reply, dated Mar.21, 418, begins by a lengthy assertion of the authority of the Roman see inherited from St. Peter, which was such, he says, that none might dare to dispute its judgment. Still, he declares himself willing to consult his brethren, though not as being ignorant of what ought to be done or requiring their concurrence.

Zosimus is further memorable for his adjudication on the question of the jurisdiction of the see of Arles in Gaul, when some of the Gallic bishops were as little ready as the Africans to submit to his authority. Patroclus had been elected and ordained metropolitan of Arles, a.d.412, on the expulsion by the people of the former metropolitan, Heros -- the Gallican bishop, above named, who subsequently, with Lazarus, accused Pelagius of heresy in Palestine and Africa. There had been a long rivalry and struggle for jurisdiction between the two ancient sees of Arles and Vienne. A recent synod at Turin had decided against the claim of Arles to general jurisdiction over other provinces. Consequently other metropolitans -- Simplicius of Vienne, Hilarius of Narbonne, and Proculus of Marseilles -- had claimed the right of ordaining bishops in their respective provinces; and, notably, Proculus, acting on powers assigned him by the Turin synod as metropolitan of Narbonensis Secunda, had ordained Lazarus (the friend and associate of Heros) to the see of Aquae Sextiae (Aix). Patroclus appealed to Zosimus (a.d.417), who at once wrote to the bishops of Gaul, to the Spanish bishops, and to Aurelius of Carthage and the rest of the African bishops, asserting the authority of the bishop of Arles over the provinces of Vienne and Narbonensis Prima and Secunda, and declaring all who should ordain bishops, or be ordained, within those provinces without his concurrence, to be degraded from the priesthood. He required that ecclesiastics of all orders from any part of Gaul whatever, proceeding to Rome, or to any other part of the world, should not be received without letters commendatory (firmatae) from the metropolitan of Arles. This last privilege he rests, not on ancient right, but on the personal merits of Patroclus. The jurisdiction of Arles over the above-named provinces he rests on ancient right, derived from Trophimus having been sent from Rome as first bishop of the see, and all Gaul having received the stream of faith from that fountain. Gregory of Tours (Hist. Franc. i.28), referring to Passio S. Saturnini Episc. Tolos., speaks of seven missionary bishops, including Trophimus, who founded the see of Arles, having been sent from Rome to Gaul, |Decio et Grato consulibus,| i.e. a.d.250. But the see of Arles must have existed before then, since it appears from Cyprian (Ep. vi.7) that in 254 Marcion had long been bishop of it. Possibly some Trophimus of an earlier date had been sent from Rome to Arles; but if so, nothing is known about him.

Zosimus wrote also to the bishops of the provinces Viennensis and Narbonensis Secunda, disallowing the independent authority conceded to the metropolitans of those provinces by the Turin synod; to Hilarius of Narbonne, the metropolitan of Narbonensis Prima, forbidding him to ordain bishops independently of Arles, declaring all whom he should so ordain excommunicate, and threatening him with the same sentence; and also to Patroclus, confirming to him the alleged ancient rights of his see, together with the privilege, above mentioned, of alone giving firmatae to ecclesiastics from all parts of Gaul. Simplicius of Vienne so far deferred to the pope's authority as to send a legate to him; and Zosimus, writing to him on Oct.1, 417, allowed him, for the sake of peace, to go on for the present ordaining bishops in the neighbouring cities of the province in accordance with the order of the Turin synod. No such deference to Rome was shewn by Proculus of Marseilles, who continued to ordain, though the pope had pronounced his deposition. Tumults ensued at Marseilles, where there seem to have been two parties. Consequently in 418 Zosimus wrote to the clergy and people there, warning them to oppose the attempts of Proculus, and to submit to Patroclus; and to Patroclus himself, enjoining him to assert his authority. Notwithstanding this, Proculus maintained his position as bp. of Marseilles and metropolitan of Narbonensis Secunda. The jurisdiction of Arles was long a bone of contention in Gaul. Zosimus died soon after writing the letters last mentioned, and was buried, according to the Lib. Pontif., on Dec.26, |via Tiburtina juxta corpus beati Laurentii martyris.|

The main authorities for his life are his own letters and other documents to be found in Baronius and Labbe, the works of Augustine, and Prosper (Chron.).

[J.B -- Y.]

Zosimus (5)
Zosimus (5), a Byzantine historian worthy of particular attention, not only for his general merits as an historian, but because, as a heathen bitterly opposed to Christianity, he gives the heathen view of the causes of the decline and fall of the Roman empire. There is considerable uncertainty as to when he flourished. The middle of the 5th cent. is a probable date. Zosimus was not a polytheist, for in one passage at least of his history, when referring to an oracle which had predicted the greatness of Old Byzantium, he speaks of the Deity in highly worthy terms (ii.37). He paid honour, however, to the heathen religious rites, as having come down from former generations (v.23), complaining of the attempts of various emperors to extinguish them (ii.29; iv.59), lamenting that the oracles of the gods were no longer listened to (i.57), and finding in the abandonment of the old religion one main cause of the decline of the empire (iv.59). He ridicules Christianity as an unreasonable conglomerate, alogos sunkatathesis (iv.59), sneers at Christian soldiers as only able to pray (iii.2; iv.23), and welcomes any opportunity of giving the most false
representations of the Christian faith (ii.29; iv.59). An historian of such a spirit can hardly be relied on for an account of the events of a time when the old superstitions he venerated were compelled to yield to the advancing power of a religion he abhorred; and even his admirers are constrained to admit that he is not to be trusted where his religious prejudices come into play. Reitemeier, who defends him on the whole, allows that he was too partial to the heathen, too unjust to Christians (Disquis. p.26); and Gibbon speaks of his |passion and prejudice,| |ignorant and malicious suggestions,| and |malcontent insinuations| (cc. xvii., xx.). His accounts of the conversion of Constantine, and of the character of Theodosius (ii.29; iv.26-33) suffer from this prejudice. To the former, as well as to many other of his most scandalous charges against that emperor, Evagrius replied in fierce language, addressing him as a |wicked spirit and fiend of hell| (iii.41); and for the latter he has been condemned by Gibbon in hardly less emphatic language (c. xxvii.). De Broglie refers, for a full refutation of the story regarding the conversion of Constantine, to the Mém. de l'Acad. des Inscrip.49, p.470, etc.

The inference must not, however, be hastily drawn that Zosimus is an historian unworthy of our regard. On the contrary, he may be justly described as one of the best historians of these early centuries. Even his views on church matters are highly interesting, as shewing how they were regarded by the more intelligent heathen; nor are they always wanting in truth. In estimating, too, his value as an historian, it must be remembered that he treats more largely of civil affairs than others had done, and we owe to him many facts connected with the condition of the military, their degeneracy, exactions, and dissoluteness, which contributed in no slight degree to the fall of the empire.

There seems indeed no sufficient ground to ascribe intentional bad faith to his history. That he was mistaken in many of his conclusions, and especially in those relating to the influence of Christianity, is unquestionable. That he occasionally gave too easy credence to unfounded statements is not less so; but it has never been proved that he wilfully perverted facts to establish any theory.

He was not in all respects an original historian. His History closes with a.d.410. Either he had been hindered by death from prosecuting it further or some portions have been lost. He is thus occupied throughout with events before his own day, and in relating these he seems rather to epitomize works of predecessors than to write original narrative. Reitemeier finds that in the first part of his History he followed the Synopsis of Denippus, in the middle and larger part the Chronicon of Eunapius, and in the last part the Silva of Olympiodorus (Disquis. p.35). Photius charges him with extensive copying of Eunapius (cf. Fabric. vi. p.232, note). It seems to have been his admiration of Polybius that led him to write. That historian had described the rise of the Roman empire, and Zosimus, beholding everywhere around him its majestic ruins, would describe its fall. Nor will he merely describe the phenomena: he proposes also to investigate their causes. He begins, accordingly, with the reign of Augustus, and, passing hastily over the time till the accession of Constantine, he occupies himself mainly with the reigns of that emperor and his successors. He sets forth as the causes of the fall of the Roman empire: the change of government to its imperial form (i.5); the removal of the soldiery into cities where they were debased by luxury and vice (ii.34); the iniquitous exactions of successive emperors (ii.38; iv.28, 29, 41; v.12); above all, the casting aside of the old religion, and the neglect of the responses of the oracles (i.57). There can be little doubt that he regarded this last as the most important, so frequently does he allude to it (ii.7; iv.37, 59; v.38, etc.). He expresses what was often thought and said at the time, and to the view thus taken we owe, in no small degree, St. Augustine's immortal work, de Civitate Dei.

The style of the History of Zosimus has been praised by Photius as concise, perspicuous, pure, and, though not adorned by many figures, yet not devoid of sweetness (Cod.98). (Cf. Heyne, Corp. Ser. H. B., Zosimus, p.16.) These commendations are deserved. Zosimus is generally free from the ambitious periods of most historians of his age. His narrative is circumstantial, but clear; his language well chosen, and often very nervous and antithetical. He was not free from superstition; and the fact that an historian, generally so calm and so far removed from the credulity of his day, should have put his faith in oracles and recorded without hesitation appearances of Minerva and Achilles to Alaric, and various other miracles (see them in Fabric. vi. p.610), shews how deep-seated such ideas were in the minds of his contemporaries, and may help to prove that the Christian belief in visions and miracles then prevailing was not inconsistent with sobriety of judgment and sound principles of criticism in other matters.

The History of Zosimus may be consulted for the lives and actions of the emperors between Augustus and a.d.410, more especially for those of Constantine, Constantius, Theodosius the elder, Honorius, and Arcadius; for accounts of the Huns, Alamanni, Scythians, Goths, and minor barbarous tribes; the war in Africa in the time of Honorius, the campaign of Alaric in Italy, and the taking of Rome; for the right of asylum in Christian churches, and the changes introduced into the army; for an important description of Byzantium, old and new, and of Britain; and finally, for an account of the secular games to which, celebrated only once in 110 years, the people were summoned with the stirring yet solemn cry, |Quos nec spectavit quisquam nec spectaturus est.| Some of the ancient oracles are preserved by him.

The best ed. is by Reitemeier, in Gk. and Lat., with Heyne's notes (Leipz.1784); Bekker's ed. (Bonn, 1837) has Reitemeier's notes.


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