Sozomen (Fifth Century)

SOZOMEN (fifth century)

A church historian. His full name was Hermias Sozomenus Salamanes (or Salaminius), which has misled some to associate him with the town of Salamis in Cyprus. This is a mistake, since he is known to have been born in the village of Bethelia near the town of Gaza in Palestine. His grandfather was the first convert to Christianity in his family. Thus Sozomen was born to Christian parents, and he was given his early education by a Christian monk named Hilarion, to whom the family owed its conversion.

Beyond that, his early life is obscure and his dates are uncertain. He probably was born in 400 but the date of his death is unknown, though he must have died in Constantinople, to which he moved for the completion of his education as a lawyer.

There Sozomen became interested in and decided to write a continuation of the Eusebian . He was a contemporary of SOCRATES, who may have preceded him by two decades. It is possible that he profited from the work of Socrates, according to Valesius, the first editor of both of their works. Sozomen’s History of the Church appeared in nine books covering the period from 323 to 425.

Though his work displays no major contributions to Christianity as a whole, his accounts stand out in relation to the Armenians, the Saracens, and the Goths. In style he is superior to Socrates, but he shares with him the failure to comprehend the theological and dogmatic issues of his day. He dedicated his work to Emperor Theodosius the Younger.

Sozomen’s work, like that of Socrates, attracted the attention of Western scholars from the earliest days of publishing. His first edition appeared in Greek at Paris in 1544, and another in Greek, with a Latin translation by Christophorsonos and Suffridus Petrus, at Cologne in 1612. An edition by Valesius appeared in 1668, followed by another at Cambridge in 1720. The revised and annotated edition in three volumes by R. Hassy appeared at Oxford in 1860. Migne included it in Patrologia Graeca (Vol. 67).

  • Bidez, J. “Le texte du de Sozomène et de ses chapitres (VI. 28-34) sur les moines d’Egypte et de Palestine.” Akademie der , Berlin, Sitzungsberichte 18 (1935):399-427. Milligan, W. “Sozomen.” In DCB, Vol. 4, pp. 722-23.
  • Schaff, P., and H. Wace, eds. The Ecclesiastical History of Sozomen. A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, 2nd ser., Vol. 2, pp. 179-454. Grand Rapids, Mich., 1952.