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Religious figures biography (20)

Saints

St. Afra

d.c.304, feastday: August 5

St. Auxentius

28th September

St. Barnabas

Barnabas, one of the early inspired teachers of Christianity, was originally named Joseph, and received the apellation Barnabas from the apostles. To the few details in his life supplied by the New Testament various additions have been made; none of which are certainly true, while many of them are evidently false. Clemens Alexandrinus, Eusebius, and others, affirm, that Barnabas was one of the seventy disciples sent forth by our Lord himself to preach the gospel. Baronius and some others have maintained, that Barnabas not only preached the gospel in Italy, but founded the church in Milan, of which they say he was the first bishop. That this opinion rests on no sufficient evidence is ably shewn by the candid Tillemont. (Memoires, &c. vol. i.) Some other fabulous stories concerning Barnabas are related by Alexander, a monk of Cyprus, whose age is doubtful; by Theodorus Lector; and in the Clementina, the Recognitions of Clemens, and the spurious Passio Barnabae in Cypro, forged in the name of Mark.
  Tertullian, in his treatise "de Pudicitia," ascribes the Epistle to the Hebrews to Barnabas; but this opinion, though probably shared by some of his contemporaries, is destitute of all probability.
  A gospel ascribed to Barnabas is held in great reverence among the Turks, and has been translated into Italian, Spanish, and English. It seems to be the production of a Gnostic, disfigured by the interpolations of some Mohammedan writer. (Fabric. Codex Apocryphus Novi Testamenti, Pars Tertia; White's Bampton Lecturcs.)
  Respecting the epistle attributed to Barnabas great diversity of opinion has prevailed from the date of its publication by Hugh Menard, in 1645, down to the present day. The external evidence is decidedly in favour of its genuineness; for the epistle is ascribed to Barnabas, the coadjutor of Paul, no fewer than seven times by Clemens Alexandrinus, and twice by Origen. Eusebius and Jerome, however, though they held the epistle to be a genuine production of Barnabas, yet did not admit it into the canon. When we come to examine the contents of the epistle, we are at a loss to conceive how any serious believer in divine revelation could ever think of ascribing a work full of such gross absurdities and blunders to a teacher endowed with the gifts of the Spirit. It is not improbable that the author's name was Barnabas, and that the Alexandrian fathers, finding its contents so accordant with their system of allegorical interpretation, came very gladly to the precipitate conclusion that it was composed by the associate of Paul.

This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited Sep 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


St. Barnabas Barnabas (originally Joseph), styled an Apostle in Holy Scripture, and, like St. Paul, ranked by the Church with the Twelve, though not one of them; b. of Jewish parents in the Island of Cyprus about the beginning of the Christian Era. A Levite, he naturally spent much time in Jerusalem, probably even before the Crucifixion of Our Lord, and appears also to have settled there (where his relatives, the family of Mark the Evangelist, likewise had their homes, Acts, xii, 12) and to have owned land in its vicinity (iv, 36-37). A rather late tradition recorded by Clement of Alexandria and Eusebius says that he was one of the seventy Disciples; but Acts (iv, 36-37) favours the opinion that he was converted to Christianity shortly after Pentecost (about A.D. 29 or 30) and immediately sold his property and devoted the proceeds to the Church. The Apostles, probably because of his success as a preacher, for he is later placed first among the prophets and doctors of Antioch (xiii, 1), surnamed him Barnabas, a name then interpreted as meaning "son of exhortation" or "consolation". (The real etymology, however, is disputed. See Encyl. Bibli., I, col. 484.) Though nothing is recorded of Barnabas for some years, he evidently acquired during this period a high position in the Church.
  When Saul the persecutor, later Paul the Apostle, made his first visit (dated variously from A.D. 33 to 38) to Jerusalem after his conversion, the Church there, remembering his former fierce spirit, was slow to believe in the reality of his conversion. Barnabas stood sponsor for him and had him received by the Apostles, as the Acts relate (ix, 27), though he saw only Peter and James, the brother of the Lord, according to Paul himself (Gal., i, 18, 19). Saul went to his house at Tarsus to live in obscurity for some years, while Barnabas appears to have remained at Jerusalem. The event that brought them together again and opened to both the door to their lifework was an indirect result of Saul's own persecution. In the dispersion that followed Stephen's death, some Disciples from Cyprus and Cyrene, obscure men, inaugurated the real mission of the Christian Church by preaching to the Gentiles. They met with great success among the Greeks at Antioch in Syria, reports of which coming o the ears of the Apostles, Barnabas was sent thither by them to investigate the work of his countrymen. He saw in the conversions effected the fruit of God's grace and, though a Jew, heartily welcomed these first Gentile converts. His mind was opened at once to the possibility of this immense field. It is a proof how deeply impressed Barnabas had been by Paul that he thought of him immediately for this work, set out without delay for distant Tarsus, and persuaded Paul to go to Antioch and begin the work of preaching. This incident, shedding light on the character of each, shows it was no mere accident that led them to the Gentile field. Together they laboured at Antioch for a whole year and "taught a great multitude". Then, on the coming of famine, by which Jerusalem was much afflicted, the offerings of the Disciples at Antioch were carried (about A.D. 45) to the mother-church by Barnabas and Saul (Acts, xi). Their mission ended, they returned to Antioch, bringing with them the cousin, or nephew of Barnabas (Col., iv, 10), John Mark, the future Evangelist (Acts, xii, 25).
  The time was now ripe, it was believed, for more systematic labours, and the Church of Antioch felt inspired by the Holy Ghost to send out missionaries to the Gentile world and to designate for the work Barnabas and Paul. They accordingly departed, after the imposition of hands, with John Mark as helper. Cyprus, the native land of Barnabas, was first evangelized, and then they crossed over to Asia Minor. Here, at Perge in Pamphylia, the first stopping place, John Mark left them, for what reason his friend St. Luke does not state, though Paul looked on the act as desertion. The two Apostles, however, pushing into the interior of a rather wild country, preached at Antioch of Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra, at Derbe, and other cities. At every step they met with opposition and even violent persecution from the Jews, who also incited the Gentiles against them. The most striking incident of the journey was at Lystra, where the superstitious populace took Paul, who had just cured a lame man, for Hermes (Mercury) "because he was the chief speaker", and Barnabas for Jupiter, and were about to sacrifice a bull to them when prevented by the Apostles. Mob-like, they were soon persuaded by the Jews to turn and attack the Apostles and wounded St. Paul almost fatally. Despite opposition and persecution, Paul and Barnabas made many converts on this journey and returned by the same route to Perge, organizing churches, ordaining presbyters and placing them over the faithful, so that they felt, on again reaching Antioch in Syria, that God had "opened a door of faith to the Gentiles" (Acts, xiii, 13--xiv, 27; see article Saint Paul).
  Barnabas and Paul had been "for no small time" at Antioch, when they were threatened with the undoing of their work and the stopping of its further progress. Preachers came from Jerusalem with the gospel that circumcision was necessary for salvation, even for the Gentiles. The Apostles of the Gentiles, perceiving at once that this doctrine would be fatal to their work, went up to Jerusalem to combat it; the older Apostles received them kindly and at what is called the Council of Jerusalem (dated variously from A.D. 47 to 51) granted a decision in their favour as well as a hearty commendation of their work (Acts, xiv, 27--xv, 30; see articles Council of Jerusalem; Saint Peter). On their return to Antioch, they resumed their preaching for a short time. St. Peter came down and associated freely there with the Gentiles, eating with them. This displeased some disciples of James; in their opinion, Peter's act was unlawful, as against the Mosaic law. Upon their remonstrances, Peter yielded apparently through fear of displeasing them, and refused to eat any longer with the Gentiles. Barnabas followed his example. Paul considered that they "walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel" and upbraided them before the whole church (Gal., ii, 11-15). Paul seems to have carried his point. Shortly afterwards, he and Barnabas decided to revisit their missions. Barnabas wished to take John Mark along once more, but on account of the previous defection Paul objected. A sharp contention ensuing, the Apostles agreed to separate. Paul was probably somewhat influenced by the attitude recently taken by Barnabas, which might prove a prejudice to their work. Barnabas sailed with John Mark to Cypress, while Paul took Silas an revisited the churches of Asia Minor. It is believed by some that the church of Antioch, by its God-speed to Paul, showed its approval of his attitude; this inference, however, is not certain (Acts, xv, 35-41).
  Little is known of the subsequent career of Barnabas. He was still living and labouring as an Apostle in 56 or 57, when Paul wrote I Cor. (ix, 5, 6). from which we learn that he, too, like Paul, earned his own living, though on an equality with other Apostles. The reference indicates also that the friendship between the two was unimpaired. When Paul was a prisoner in Rome (61-63), John Mark was attached to him as a disciple, which is regarded as an indication that Barnabas was no longer living (Col., iv, 10). This seems probable. Various traditions represent him as the first Bishop of Milan, as preaching at Alexandria and at Rome, whose fourth (?) bishop, St. Clement, he is said to have converted, and as having suffered martyrdom in Cyprus. The traditions are all late and untrustworthy. With the exception of St. Paul and certain of the Twelve, Barnabas appears to have been the most esteemed man of the first Christian generation. St. Luke, breaking his habit of reserve, speaks of him with affection, "for he was a good man, full of the Holy Ghost and of Faith". His title to glory comes not only from his kindliness of heart, his personal sanctity, and his missionary labours, but also from his readiness to lay aside his Jewish prejudices, in this anticipating certain of the Twelve; from his large-hearted welcome of the Gentiles, and from his early perception of Paul's worth, to which the Christian Church is indebted, in large part at least, for its great Apostle. His tenderness towards John Mark seems to have had its reward in the valuable services later rendered by him to the Church. The feast of St. Barnabas is celebrated on 11 June. He is credited by Tertullian (probably falsely) with the authorship of the Epistle to the Hebrews, and the so-called Epistle of Barnabas is ascribed to him by many Fathers.

John F. Fenlon, ed.
Transcribed by: Janet Grayson
This text is cited Oct 2005 from The Catholic Encyclopedia, New Advent online edition URL below.


St. Basil and Companions

d. 4th century, feastday: March 4

St. Demetrian

d.c. 912, feastday: November 6

St. Isaac, bishop of Cyprus

d. unknown, feastday: September 21 (Catholic).

St. Potamius and Nemesius

d. unknown, feastday: February 20 (Catholic). Martyrs who were executed in Cyprus, although they may have belonged to the Church in Egypt owing to a reference to them by Eusebius of Caesarea, who identifies them as part of the faithful in Alexandria

Writers

Georgius of Cyprus

Georgius of Cyprus, the younger, afterwards Gregorius, has been said by some to have been of Latin parents, but this is shown by Rubeis, editor of the life of George, to be an error. He held the office of protapostolarius at Constantinople at the time of the accession of Andronicus Palaeologus the elder (A. D. 1282). He was a man of learning and eloquence, and the reviver, according to Nicephorus Gregoras, of the long-disused Attic dialect. During the reign of Michiael Palaeologus, father of Andronicus, he had been favourable to the union of the Greek and Latin churches, which Michael had much at heart; and supplied the emperor with arguments with which to press the patriarch of Constantinople (Joseph) and the other opponents of the union; but on the accession of Andronicus, who was opposed to the union, it is probable that George altered his views; for on the death of the patriarch Joseph, Andronicus determined that George, though as yet a layman, should be appointed to the office. The Greek church was at this time torn by dissension. Beside the dispute about the procession of the Holy Spirit, there had been an extensive schism occasioned by the deposition of Arsenius, patriarch of Constantinople early in the reign of Michael (A. D. 1266). The emperor was anxious to heal these dissensions, and possibly thought a layman more likely to assist him in so doing than a professed theologian; and George was recommended to the office by his literary reputation. The emperor, by tampering with some of the bishops, obtained his purpose; and George, after being rapidly hurried through the successive stages of monk, reader, deacon, and priest, was consecrated patriarch (April, A. D. 1283), and took the name of Gregory. The Arsenians, however, refused to return to the church, unless upon the testimony of heaven itself; and it was arranged at a synod or conference at Adramyttium, apparently just after the consecration of Gregory, that they and the party now predominant in the church (called Josephites from the late patriarch) should each prepare a book in support of their respective views, and that the two volumes should be submitted to the ordeal of fire. Both books, as might be expected, were consumed; and the Arsenians regarding this as a token that heaven was against them, submitted, and were at once led by the emperor in person, through a violent snow storm, to receive the communion from the hands of the patriarch Gregory. They soon, however, repented of their submission, and Gregory having excommunicated the refractory, the whole party broke off from the church again. This division was followed by troubles arising out of the controversy on the procession of the Holy Spirit, aggravated by the harshness used under Gregory's influence towards the ex-patriarch, Joannes or John Beccus or Veccus, a distinguished advocate of the doctrine of the Latin church; and a book, which Gregory had been ordered to prepare on the subject, and to the sentiments of which he had procured the approval of the emperor and several of the superior clergy, excited such animadversion and opposition, that, either in disgust or by constraint, he resigned the office of patriarch, A. D. 1289, and retired to a monastery. He died in the course of the following year, as many supposed, from grief and mortification. (Pachymer, De Mich. Palacol. v. 12, De Andron. Paleol. i. 8, 14-22, 34-37, ii. 1-11 ; Niceph. Greg. Hist. Rom. v. 2, vi. 1-4.)
  The published works of George of Cyprus are as follows:
1. Ekthesis tou tomou tes pisteos kata tou Bekkou, Expositio Fidei adcersus Beccum (seu Vceenm). This was the work which led to his troubles and consequent abdication.
2. Homologia, Confessio Fidei, delivered in consequence of the outcry against the preceding work.
3. Apologia pros ten kata tou tomou mempsin ischurotate, Responsio validissima ad Expositionis Censuram.
4. Pittakion: this is a letter to the emperor Andronicus, complaining of the wrong done to him. These four pieces are given in Banduri's Imperium Orientale, ed. Paris.
5. Enkomion eis ten Thalassan, Encomium Maris. Publshed by Bonaventura Vulcanius, with a poem of Paulus Silentiarius, Leyden, 1591. These two pieces were published both in a separate volume, and with the Peri Kosmou, De Mundo, of Aristotle. The Encomiunm Maris has been since reprinted.
6. Proverbia, in alphabetical order, subjoined to the edition of the Proverbia of Michael Apostolius by Pantinus, Leyden, 1619.
7. Logos eis ton hagion kai megalomartupa kai tropaiophoron Georgion, Oratio in honored Sancti Georgii Magni Martyris ac Victoris. This encomium on St. George of Cappadocia is printed in the Acta Sanctorum, April Vol. III. A Latin version is given in the body of the volume, and the Greek original in the Appendix. Sententiae, 8vo., Col., 1536. This is given by Fabricius as a separate work; we suspect that it is identical with the Proverbia, No. 6. 9. Encomium Georgii Logothetae Acropolitae; an extract from this was prefixed to the edition of the Chronicon of Acropolita, by Theodore Dousa, Leyden, 1614, and to the Paris edition.
10. Vita Georyii Cyprii. This Greek memoir of George was publishcd by J. F. Bernard de Rubeis, a Dominican, within a Latin version, notes, and dissertations, Venice,, 1753, and was shown by the editor to be an autobiography.
  Many other works of George of Cyprus remain in MS.

This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited Dec 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


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