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GREGORY THAUMATURGUS AND THE EARTHQUAKE OF 344

R. W. B U R G E S S has recently attempted to reconstruct a continuation of Eusebius of Caesareas Chronici Canones from 326 until c.350 on the basis of the strong similarities exhibited between various otherwise independent chronicles for this period.1 He identies his ve key sources in this matter as the Latin chronicle composed by Jerome at Constantinople c.380, an anonymous seventh-century Syriac chronicle preserved in the so-called Chronicle of 724, the anonymous Greek Chronicon Paschale composed at Constantinople c.630, the Greek chronicle composed by Theophanes the Confessor at Constantinople c.814, and the chronicle which Michael the Syrian wrote c.1195. On the basis of his analysis of the similarities between these texts, he concludes that their common source for the early fourth century was probably written at Antioch in Syria c.350.2 His methods and conclusions will certainly fuel much discussion, but I will restrict myself here to his treatment of one event only, the destruction of Neocaesarea in Pontus by an earthquake in 344. Of the key sources identied by Burgess, four describe this eventJerome, the Chronicle of 724, Theophanes, and Michael the Syrian. We need only quote Jerome and Theophanes in their original here:3
Neocaesaria in Ponto subversa excepta ecclesia et episcopo ceterisque qui ibidem reperti sunt. (Jer. Chron. 236c (Helm))
1 R. W. Burgess, Studies in Eusebian and Post-Eusebian Chronography (Historia Einzelschriften, 135; Stuttgart, 1999), pp. 111305. 2 Burgess (n. 1), p. 129, argues that the authors of our key surviving witnesses to Eusebius Canones did not have direct access to his text as such, but to a continuation of the same until c.350. He names this continuation the Continuatio Antiochiensis. While I agree with him that these sources did not have direct access to Eusebius text, but to a continuation of the same, I would argue that there were actually a series of incremental continuations ending in 337, c.342, c.352, and at several dates thereafter. His own analysis of the so-called Consularia Constantinopolitana provides an excellent parallel for this process. See R. W. Burgess, The Chronicle of Hydatius and the Consularia Constantinopolitana (Oxford, 1993), pp. 18798. Yet, because these di^erences to not a^ect the substance of my argument here, I shall continue to refer to the continuator of c.350 throughout. 3 The sources are quoted in full at Burgess (n. 1), p. 159. The accompanying translation of the Chronicle of 724 runs: Neocaesarea of Pontus was submerged apart from only the church and the bishop and the excellent people who were inside it; that of Michael the Syrian: Caesarea of Pontus was submerged except for the church which was in it; some people inside it were saved.
# Oxford University Press 2002

[Journal of Theological Studies, NS, Vol. 53, Pt. 2, October 2002]

548

DAVID WOODS

Tou tv tJ e lou cenome nou, Neokaisa reia Po ntou kateptv tei seismou hg meca plg ` n tg kklgsi piskopei kei rehe ntvn eu labv z e az kai ` tou e ou kai ` tv n e n eu a ndrv n. (Theoph. Chron. AM5835)

The only substantive di^erence between these sources lies in their preservation of the terms episcopo bishop and e piskopei ou bishops residence. Burgess prefers Theophanes reading in this matter. Indeed, he adopts his notice wholesale into his reconstruction. He claims that Jeromes text represents a careless misreading and is probably a result of itacism, i.e. -ei- being written -i- in an early Greek exemplar, and the iotas then being easily missed next to the pi.4 Yet while this may well explain the mechanics of a transformation from e piskopei pisko pou, ou to e it does not explain why the transformation ought necessarily to have been in this direction rather than vice versa. One might well argue that an editor or copyist had expected to nd reference to a second type of building immediately following a reference to a rst type of building, a church, and had erred accordingly. In support of this one notes that the Chronicle of 724 supports Jerome in this matter. Michael the Syrian refers to neither a bishop nor a bishops residence. Hence a majority of two of the three witnesses who preserve this term favour the reading e pisko pou rather than e piskopei ou. Most importantly, these are the two earliest witnesses to this text. The best way to decide between the two readings, of course, lies in the fullest understanding of what is actually being described here. Although Burgess claims that there is no other source for this event, this is not in fact the case. Writing c.380, Gregory of Nyssa records that, at some point during his own lifetime, the church built by the third-century bishop of Neocaesarea, Gregory Thaumaturgus, survived an earthquake which devastated the rest of the city:5
Seismou r pote baruta tou tg po lei e n toi ma noiz cecengme nou kai ca z xro ` z kah g pa ntvn mikrou polvlo tvn tv idivtikv rdgn a dei vn kai ` tv n te dgmosi n n n a oi tvn a pa ntvn e reipivhe ntvn mo noz e nao `z e kei rracg z meinen o kodomgma noz a
Burgess (n. 1), p. 269. This passage escapes the notice of E. Guidoboni (ed.), Catalogue of Ancient Earthquakes in the Mediterranean Area up to the 10th Century (Rome, 1994), pp. 25051. It also escapes recent commentators upon and translators of the chronicles, e.g. M. D. Donalson, A Translation of Jeromes Chronicon with Historical Commentary (New York, 1996), p. 70, and C. Mango and R. Scott, The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor: Byzantine and Near Eastern History (Oxford, 1997), p. 62. On the other hand, commentators on the life of Gregory Thaumaturgus remain equally unaware of the relevance of the chronicles to their subject, e.g. M. Slusser, St. Gregory Thaumaturgus: Life and Works (Fathers of the
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EARTHQUAKE OF 344

549

te kai ` tou tou Qanero ` n ei mevz o me caz seistoz, v z kai `a ` dia nai meh oi az duna 6 e kei noz tv n kat au to ` n pracma tvn a ntelamba neto.

Given the similarity of the descriptions, and the fact that no other serious earthquake is known to have hit Neocaesarea at this period, the obvious interpretation is that Gregory describes the same event as do our four key witnesses to the earthquake of 344. It is important, therefore, that he does not describe the survival of the bishops residence also. To this extent, he seems to support Jerome and the Chronicle of 724 against Theophanes. It is curious, however, that neither Jerome nor the Chronicle of 724 actually name the bishop who allegedly survived the earthquake. This cannot be explained by assuming that they, or rather their common source, omitted his name for some theological reason, perhaps because they considered him a heretic.7 If this had been the case, then they, or their source, ought to have omitted any mention at all of his survival. Indeed, one suspects that this is exactly what happens in the case of Gregory of Nyssas description of this event. He would not mention the happy survival of the bishop (assuming he understood his source to imply this) because the bishop at this time was probably Theodulus, an Arian.8 This leaves only one possibility. Jerome and the Chronicle of 724 follow their source in referring to the bishop of Neocaesarea, i.e. the famous third-century bishop of that city, Gregory Thaumaturgus. This is not to claim that Jerome or the author of the Chronicle of 724 realized this. They clearly did not, or they would have made much more of this event, naming Gregory at least. Rather, their ultimate common source, the continuation of c.350, had originally referred to Gregory in an anonymous fashion, but a subsequent
Church, 98; Washington, D.C., 1998), and S. Mitchell, The Life and Lives of Gregory Thaumaturgus, in J. W. Drijvers and J. W. Watt (eds.), Portraits of Spiritual Authority: Religious Power in Early Christianity, Byzantium and the Christian Orient (Leiden, 1999), pp. 99138. 6 Ed. G. Heil in Gregorii Nysseni Opera X.1 (Leiden, 1990), p. 28 (=924B-C). Slusser (n. 5), p. 62: For when there was a very severe earthquake in the city in our own times, and almost everything was completely destroyed, all public and private buildings ruined, that temple alone remained unshattered and unshaken, so that through even this it is manifest with what sort of power that Great One undertook his a^airs. 7 For the interpretation during this period of the survival, or not, of a church and those sheltering inside it during an earthquake as a sign from God, see Soc. HE 4.16 on the di^ering accounts of the e^ect of the earthquake of 358 on a church in Nicomedia. 8 He had attended the council of Serdica in 343 on the Arian side. See Hil. Op. Hist. Ser. A IV.3 (Feder).

DAVID WOODS 550 corruption of this text, the addition of an unnecessary kai ` between tg kklgsi pisko pou, transformed the meaning of z e az and tou e the latter so that it seemed to refer to an anonymous bishop current in 344 instead. Hence their ultimate source, and that of Theophanes also, should probably be restored to read:

Neokaisa reia Po ntou kateptv ` n tg kklgsi pisko pou kai hg plg z e az tou e ` tv n e kei rehe ntvn eu labv ndrv n a n. eu

The identication of this anonymous bishop as Gregory Thaumaturgus immediately raises a question as to the identity of the other pious men found in the church and, more importantly, their grammatical relationship to the bishop in this reconstruction. For two very di^erent readings of the above notice suggest themselves. On the one hand, one could translate it as follows: Neocaesarea in Pontus was levelled, except for the church of the bishop and for the pious men found there. This reading interprets the preposition plg ` n as governing both tg z e kklgsi ndrv az and tv n a n, and identies the pious men as survivors who had lived through the earthquake. Alternatively, one could understand tv ndrv kklgsi z e az in the same n a n to depend on tg way as tou pisko pou: Neocaesarea in Pontus was levelled, e except for the church of the bishop and of the pious men found there. This reading suggests a stronger association between both the bishop and the pious men and the pious men and the church itself. In brief, it suggests that the pious men were deceased who had merited burial in the church. The church had been saved as a result of their merits as well as those of the bishop. Two arguments may be adduced in favour of the latter interpretation. The rst is the passive voice of the participle eu rehe ntvn. Why did the author not prefer to refer, for example, to the men who had ed there? There is nothing in the current wording to suggest that the men did anything active at the time of the earthquake, i.e. that they had not been dead and buried in the church for a long time already by the time of its occurrence. The second argument focuses on the choice of the term eu labv n to describe these men. What exactly made them pious? It cannot be assumed either that their initial ight to the church or their subsequent survival there proved their piety. The continuator of c.350 has also left us a vivid account of how even pagans ed to a church at Beirut during an earthquake there in 349, and did not entirely abandon their pagan practices subsequently, which reveals that he would have been well aware that one did not have to be pious either to seek

EARTHQUAKE OF 344 551 safety in a church or to survive an earthquake by sheltering there.9 Hence the reason that he described the men found in the church at Neocaesarea as pious was that he believed that it was their piety which had merited their burial in the church in the rst place. But what does it mean to describe the church as the church of the bishop and of those found there? In what sense was it a church of the bishop? Two interpretation are again possible. On the one hand, it may mean simply that the bishop had built the church. On the other, the fact that the bishop is associated with men who had been buried in the church suggests that it was believed that he had been buried there also. Indeed, this belief would best explain the presence of the burials of the pious men there. They had wished to be buried as near to the saint as possible, the so-called burial ad sanctos.10 The obvious objection to this interpretation is that no one actually knew where Gregory had been buried by the time that Gregory of Nyssa wrote his life of Gregory Thaumaturgus c.380. According to his account, Gregory Thaumaturgus had deliberately arranged for the disposal of his body after his death in such a way as to prevent it becoming the object of a cult:

After praying for growth to perfection for those who already believed, and for the conversion of unbelievers, he thus left this human life for God, having charged his closest associates not to use the place reserved to him for burial. For if when he was alive the Lord did not have any place to lie down, but spent his life sojourning with others, neither would he be at all ashamed at his sojourn after his death. But let it be said of my life in times to come, he said, that Gregory was not named for someplace while he lived, and after death rested in strangers graves, keeping himself from every earthly possession to the point of not even receiving burial in his own place. For his only possession would be that honor which does not bear within it any trace of selshness.11

The rst explicit reference to a tomb of Gregory Thaumaturgus occurs among the fragments of the ecclesiastical history which Theodore Lector composed c.518. It is of particular interest in
9 Burgess (n. 1), p. 274. The only surviving witness to this incident is Theophanes, Chron. AM 5840, which Burgess adopts unchanged in his reconstruction. 10 `s des saints corps et me: Linhumation ad sanctos dans le See Y. Duval, Aupre `cle (Paris, 1988). chre tente dOrient et dOccident du IIIe au VIIe sie 11 Slusser (n. 5), p. 84 (=596A). W. Telfer, The Cultus of St. Gregory Thaumaturgus, HTR 29 (1936), pp. 225344, at p. 234, explains this passage in terms of the local burial customs of North Pontus which saw the frequent re-use of rock-slots as graves. It seems to me to be merely a rather convoluted way of saying that Gregory wanted an anonymous, paupers grave like that of a stranger in a foreign land.

552 DAVID WOODS the present context, however, because it describes how the church of Gregory survived an earthquake once more, probably in 499:12
e n Neokaisarei llontoz ci pi `n tgz tiz e a seismou tgnikau ta me neshai strativ ` tg po lin o deu vn du o strativ pio ntaz e p au tg `n e hea sato kai tvn o taz a pishen ` tou a g e teron kra fonta: Qula jate to ` n oi n v hg kg Crgcori sti kon, e ou e n. kai `o me `n seismo `z e ce neto kai ` plei roz tg levz e de ` oi pesen, o ` to z po koz tou ston me haumatourcou hg.13 diesv

On the basis of these texts, it has usually been assumed that a tomb had been constructed for Gregory in the church sometime during the period c.380499.14 Yet neither text need be interpreted in the way that it traditionally has, and their combination need not lead to this conclusion. Gregory of Nyssa does not claim that the Neocaesareans had no idea at all where Gregory Thaumaturgus had been buried. His words merely require that they could not point to a specic spot. Similarly, Theodores words do not require any more than a belief that Gregory had been buried in the churchsomewhere! By way of parallel, one notes that the cult of St Demetrius of Thessalonica illustrates the development of a similar belief there. St Demetrius had allegedly su^ered martyrdom sometime during the Great Persecution in 30310, and it was believed that the fth-century church of his name in the centre of Thessalonica had grown up over his grave. Yet no one was ever able to identify where exactly he lay, and his physical remains were never recovered, despite at least one serious attempt to excavate a lower area of the church in search for them, sometime under the emperor Justinian (52765).15 It is my argument, therefore, that the anonymous continuator of c.350 preserves evidence of a similar belief concerning Gregory of Thaumaturgus as early as 344, that he lay buried somewhere within the church that he had built. A nal point is necessary. The fact that the continuator of c.350 knew that there were other burials in the church built by Gregory of Thaumaturgus at Neocaesarea besides the hidden burial of the
Theod. Lect. Epit. 555. Cf. Theoph. Chron. AM5995. In Caesarea, when there was about to be an earthquake, a certain soldier who was travelling towards the city saw two soldiers approaching him and behind these another who was shouting, Guard the house in which is Gregorys tomb. And there was an earthquake and the greatest part of the city fell, but the house of the Wonderworker was saved. 14 See Telfer (n. 11), pp. 2327. 15 See J. Skedros, Saint Demetrios of Thessaloniki: Civic Patron and Divine Protector 4th7th Centuries CE (Harvard Theological Studies, 47; Harrisburg, 1999), pp. 858.
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EARTHQUAKE OF 344 553 great bishop himself points to his having visited this church. If the amount of space which he devotes to the earthquake at Beirut in 349 may be taken as an indication that he was a member of the clergy there, if not the bishop himself,16 then one strong possibility is that he may have visited this church while attending a church council in Neocaesarea. We know of only one signicant church council at this period held in Neocaesarea, that which excommunicated Eustathius of Sebasteia c.341, so that it was presumably this which he attended.17

DAVID WOODS
16 A bishop Macedonius of Beirut attended the council of Serdica on the Arian side. See Hil. Op. Hist. Ser. A IV.3 (Feder). I am not convinced by Burgesss arguments (n. 1), pp. 1278, that the continuator of c.350, or 352 as I would have, wrote at Antioch. The concentration of material focused on Antioch suggests rather that it was the incremental continuator of c.342 who wrote there. 17 Soz. HE 4.24 (sometime before the death of bishop Eusebius of Constantinople).