, an ancient Christian writer, was born, about the year 320, at Besanduce, a village of Palestine, His parents are said by Cave to have been Jews; but others. are of opinion that there is no ground for this suspicion, since Sozomen affirms, that “from his earliest youth he was educated under the most excellent monks, upon which, account he continued a very considerable time in Ægypt.| It is certain, that, while he was a youth, he went into Ægypt, where he fell into the conversation of the Gnostics, who had almost engaged him in their party; but he soon withdrew himself from them, and, returning to his country, put himself for some time under the discipline of Hilarion, the father of the monks of Palestine. He afterwards founded a monastery near the village where he was born, and presided over it. About the year 367 he was elected bishop of Salamis, afterwards called Constantia, the metropolis of the isle of Cyprus, where he acquired great reputation by his writings and his piety. In the year 382, he was sent lor to Rome by the imperial letters, in order to determine the cause of Paulinus concerning the see of Antioch. In the year 3yi a contest arose between him and John, bishop of Jerusalem. Epipbanius accused John of holding the errors of Origen; and, going to Palestine, ordained Paulinian, brother of St. Jerom, deacon and priest, ill a monastery which did not belong to his jurisdiction. John immediately complained of this action of Epiphanius, as contrary to the canons and discipline of the church, and Epiphanius defended what he had done, in a letter to John. This dispute irritated their minds still more, which were already incensed upon the subject of Origen; and both of them endeavoured to engage Theophilus of Alexandria in their party. That prelate, who seemed at first to favour the bishop of Jerusalem, declared at last against Origen condemned his books in a council held in the year 399 and persecuted all the monks who were suspected of regarding his memory. These monks, retiring to Constantinople, were kindly received there by John Chrysostom; which highly exasperated Theophilus, who, from that time, conceived a violent hatred to Chrysostom. In the mean time Theophilus informed Epiphanius of what he had done against Origen, and exhorted him to do the same; upon which Epiphanius, in the year 401, called a council in the isle of Cyprus, procured the reading of Origen’s writings to be prohibited, and wrote to Chrysostom to do the same. Chrysostom, not approving this proposal, Epiphanius went to Constantinople, at the persuasion of Theophilus, in order to get the decree of the council of Cyprus executed. When he arrived there, he would not have any conversation with Cbrysostom, but used his utmost efforts to engage the bishops, who were then in that city, to approve of the judgment of the council of Cyprus against Origen. | Not succeeding in this, he resolved to go the next day to the church of the apostles, and there condemn publicly all the books of Origen, and those who defended them; but as he was in the church, Cbrysostom informed him, by his deacon Serapion, that he was going to do a thing contrary to the laws of the church, and which might expose him to danger, as it would probably raise some sedition. This consideration stopped Epiphanius, who yet was so inflamed against Origen, that when the empress Eudoxia recommended to his prayers the young Theodosius, who was dangerously ill, he answered, that “the prince her son should not die, if she would but avoid the conversation of Dioscorides, and other defenders of Origen.” The empress, surprised at this presumptuous answer, sent him word, that “if God should think proper to take away her son, she would submit to his will that he might take him away as he had given him but that it was not in the power of Epiphanius to raise him from the dead, since he had lately suffered his own archdeacon to die.Epiphanius’s heat was a little abated, when he had discoursed with Ammourns and his companions, whomTheophilus had banished for adhering to Origen’s opinions; for these monks gave him to understand that they did hot maintain an heretical doctrine, and that he had condemned them in too precipitate a manner. At last he resolved to return to Cyprus, and in his farewell to Chrysostom, he said, “I hope you will not die a bishop;” to which the latter replied, “I hope you will never return to your own country,” and both their hopes were realized, as Chrysostom was deposed from his bishopric, and Epiphanius died at sea about the year 403. His works were printed in Greek at Basil, 1544, in folio, and had afterwards a Latin translation made to them, which has frequently been reprinted. At last Petavius undertook an edition of them, together with a new Latin translation, which he published at Paris, 1622, with the Greek text revised and corrected by two manuscripts. This, which is the best edition, is in two volumes folio, at the end of which are the animadversions of Petavius, which however, are rather dissertations upon points of criticism and chronology, than notes to explain the text of his author. This edition was reprinted at Cologne, 1682, in 2 vols. folio.

Epiphanius was well versed in the Hebrew, Syriac, Egyptian, Greek, and Latin tongues, which makes Jerome | call him ενταγλωττος, “a man of five tongues;” and was very conversant in ecclesiastical antiquities, on which account he is chiefly regarded; but his literary character has not escaped much rigid censure. M. Dailk' styles him “a good and holy man;” hut observes, “that he was little conversant in the arts either of rhetoric or grammar, as appears sufficiently from his writings, which defects must necessarily be the cause of much obscurity in very many places, as indeed is much complained of by the interpreters of this father.” Scnliger says he was “an ignorant man, who knew nothing of Greek or Hebrew; who, without any judgment, was solicitous to collect everything; and who abounds in falsities. We have,” says he, “a treasure of antiquities in him for he had good books, which he sometimes transcribes to very good purpose but when he advances any thing of his own, he performs it wretchedly.” Pliot ins tells us, that his style is very mean and negligent; and Dupin observes, that it has neither beauty nor elevation, but is low, rough, and unconnected; that he had a great extent of reading and erudition, but no judgment nor justness of thought that he often uses false reasons to confute heretics that he was very credulous, inaccurate, and frequently mistaken in important points of history that he paid too ready a regard to spurious memoirs and uncertain reports; in short, that he had great zeal and piety, but little conduct and prudence. 1


Cave, vol. I. Dapin. Mosbeim. Gem. Dict. —Saxii Onomast.