Phoebadius was possibly the first bishop of Agen, located in the province of Aquitania. A native of Gaul, Phoebadius was elevated to the bishopric sometime between 347 and 357 A.D. Jerome ascribes to him one book, Against the Arians, or Liber contra Arianos, which is extant. This was written in response to the anti-Nicene formula produced at the Second Council of Sirmium (357), known as the “Blasphemy of Sirmium.” The bishop presumably wrote the treatise during the autumn of 357, preceding the similar work by Hilary.
Phoebadius was ardently opposed to Arianism, and he played a leading role in defending Nicene doctrine at the Council of Ariminum/Rimini (359). At this council Valens used vague language to insinuate that the Son was in some way inferior to the Father. Phoebadius was the last to subscribe to the compromise-driven formula only after he was allowed to add his own anathemas as a precaution against pro-Arian misinterpretation. He later attended two more councils in the years 374 and 380. When Jerome wrote of him in 392 Phoebadius was still alive.
Against the Arians (Liber contra Arianos)
Barnes, Timothy D. Athanasius and Constantius: Theology and Politics in the Constantinian Empire. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1993.
Berardino, Angelo Di, ed. Encyclopedia of the Early Church. Translated by Adrian Walford. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992, p. 685.
Hanson, R.P.C. The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God: The Arian Controversy 318-38. London: T & T Clark Publishers, Inc., 1988.
Wessel, Keith C. “Phoebadius of Agen: Liber Contra Arianos.” Independent Study Project: LNW 6905, University of Florida, 2008. This paper will hopefully one day be revised, but in the meantime you can access a preliminary edition by clicking here.
Last updated: 2-12-2011
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