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Fathers of the Church

Fragments

Description

Included are a fragment of Pierius' exegetical work on the first letter of Paul to the Corinthians, and a brief description of his writings, which have since been lost.

Provenance

Pierius was a priest and headmaster of the catechetical school of Alexandria (along with Achillas). He was often referred to as "Origen the Younger" because of his gift for preaching and exegetical work. Many, including Photius, insist that he was a martyr. However, St. Jerome wrote that he survived the Diocletian persecution and died in Rome after 309 A.D. He most likely suffered severe persecution for his faith. In his work of twelve treatises, he echoed some of Origen's main errors, including the subordination of the Holy Spirit to the Son and the Father, and the preexistence of the human soul. Only some fragments of his writings remain.

by Pierius of Alexandria in Late third to early fourth century. | translated by Rev. S. D. F. Salmond, M.A

I.—A FRAGMENT OF A WORK OF PIERIUS ON THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PAUL TO THE CORINTHIANS.

Origen, Dionysius, Pierius, Eusebius of Caesareia, Didymus, and Apollinaris, have interpreted this epistle most copiously; of whom Pierius, when he was expounding and unfolding the meaning of the apostle, and purposed to explain the words. For I would that all men were even as I myself, added this remark: In saying this, Paul, without disguise, preaches celibacy.

II.—A SECTION ON THE WRITINGS OF PIERIUS. DIFFERENT DISCOURSES OF THE PRESBYTER PIERIUS.

There was read a book by Pierius the presbyter, who, they say, endured the conflict for Christ, along with his brother Isidorus. And he is reputed to have been the teacher of the martyr Pamphilus in ecclesiastical studies, and to have been president of the school at Alexandria. The work contained twelve books. And in style he is perspicuous and clear, with the easy flow, as it were, of a spoken address, displaying no signs of laboured art, but bearing us quietly along, smoothly and gently, like off-hand speaking. And in argument he is most fertile, if any one is so. And he expresses his opinion on many things outside what is now established in the Church, perhaps in an antique manner; but with respect to the Father and the Son, he sets forth his sentiments piously, except that he speaks of two substances and two natures; using, however, the terms substance and nature, as is apparent from what follows, and from what precedes this passage, in the sense of person and not in the sense put on it by the adherents of Arius. With respect to the Spirit, however, he lays down his opinion in a very dangerous and far from pious manner. For he affirms that He is inferior to the Father and the Son in glory. He has a passage also in the book entitled, On the Gospel according to Luke, from which it is possible to show that the honour or dishonour of the image is also the honour or dishonour of the original. And, again, he indulges in some obscure speculations, after the manner of the nonsense of Origen, on the subject of the "pre-existence of souls." And also in the book on the Passover (Easter) and on Hosea, he treats both of the cherubim made by Moses, and of the pillar of Jacob, in which passages he admits the actual construction of those things, but propounds the foolish theory that they were given economically, and that they were in no respect like other things which are made; inasmuch as they bore the likeness of no other form, but had only, as he foolishly says, the appearance of wings.

Taken from "The Early Church Fathers and Other Works" originally published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. in English in Edinburgh, Scotland beginning in 1867. (ANF 6, Roberts and Donaldson). The digital version is by The Electronic Bible Society, P.O. Box 701356, Dallas, TX 75370, 214-407-WORD.