THEOPISTUS OF ALEXANDRIA
Theopistus accompanied DIOSCORUS I of Alexandria (444-458) to the Council of CHALCEDON. After Dioscorus was sentenced to exile in Gangra, Theopistus went to the Pentapolis where he wrote an account of the events of the council, challenging its decisions.
He is named in the Panegyric of Macarius of Tkow, which is attributed to the same Dioscorus. In this text (ed. Johnson, 1983, chap. 1, pp. 10-13), the bishop-monk Macarius is portrayed as an uneducated holy man who did not know Greek, just as Dioscorus did not know Coptic. When he saw that an interpreter was needed in order to talk with Dioscorus, Theopistus asked Dioscorus why he had brought Macarius to the council; Dioscorus replied that Macarius was the superior of either of them.
It seems clear that a Coptic-monastic tradition sought to exalt a specific monk (as in the case of Victor at the Council of EPHESUS), thus introducing some alteration in the “official” Greek tradition of the patriarchate, which was also anti-Chalcedonian. However, Theopistus is a well-attested historical character.
As a literary writer, Theopistus is known as the author of the so- called Life of Dioscorus. Internal references lead one to suppose that he produced it in Greek in the Pentapolis (perhaps at Cyrene about 455). The Greek original has been lost; a complete Syriac version has survived (ed. Nau, 1903) and also various fragments from a papyrus codex now in London (British Library, Or. 7561, 85, 87, 90-102; ed. Crum, 1903; Wenstedt, 1906). As far as comparison can indicate, the Coptic and Syriac texts both appear to have their source in the same Greek version.
The content of the text reflects the tastes of the time, and especially that of the anti-Chalcedonian circles in which Timothy moved. They produced such works as the Plerophoriae of JOHN OF MAYUMA and the Life of Peter the Iberian, in which historical facts that were actually the basis of the accounts tended to be replaced by the miraculous element and “pious fraud” of a polemico- theological type. The text is not a true life of Dioscorus but an account (fictitious and polemical) of the Council of Chalcedon, including the opening stages of the council, its actual celebration, the condemnation of Dioscorus, and his exile to Gangra and death.
- Crum, W. E. “Coptic Texts Relating to Dioscorus of Alexandria.” Proceedings of the Society of Biblical Archaeology 25 (1903):267-76.
- Haase, F. Patriarch Dioscur I von Alexandrie. Kirchengeschichtliche Abhandlungen 6 (1908). Also published separately, Breslau, 1909.
- Johnson, D. W. A Panegyric on Macarius Bishop of Tkow Attributed to Dioscorus of Alexandria. CSCO, 415, 416. Louvain, 1983.
- Nau, F. “Histoire de Dioscore.” Journal Asiatique, ser. 10, 1 (1903):5-108, 241-310.
- Winstedt, E. O. “Some Munich Coptic Fragments.” Proceedings of the Society of Biblical Archaeology 28 (1906):137-42, 229-37.