Philostorgius was born around 368 at Borissus in Cappadocia to members of the Eunomian sect of Arianism. Very little is known about Philostorgius’s personal life, other than the fact that he was a layman. Around the age of 20, he moved to Antioch, his hometown until his death in around 430.

Sometime shortly before his death, Philostorgius composed a church history to give his own perspective on the doctrinal debates which had troubled and divided the church for the past century. Picking up where Eusebius left off, Philostorgius’s church history spanned from the beginning of the Arian controversy in 320 up to 425. But unlike Gelasius of Caesarea and Rufinus of Aquileia before him, and Sozomen, Socrates, and Theodoret after him, Philostorgius did not hold to orthodox beliefs. Like his parents, Philostorgius was a Eunomian. His zeal for this most radical sect of Arianism was strengthened when he once met and listened to Eunomius. Thus Philostorgius considered both pagans and any non-Arian Christians, such as those who held to the Nicene faith, to be in direct opposition of true orthodoxy, and his history blatantly defended and promoted Arian teachings.

Because of his unorthodox views, it is no surprise that Philotorgius’s history is no longer extant. Nevertheless, much of his work has been preserved in many fragments as well as a summary given by Photius. According to Photius, his work was divided into twelve books of which the first letter of each forms a message acrostic which spells out his name. The fragments which remain of Philostorgius’s history are especially helpful because they provide the Arian perspective and include some primary Arian documents and unique characterizations of Arian leaders. Like the orthodox historians, Philostorgius shows his theological bias throughout. On the whole, however, his history is well-researched, well-written, and reliable.


Incipit: Ὅτι ἐν δώδεκα λόγοις αὐτοῦ ἡ ἱστορία περαίνεται
Date: c. 425-433
CPG: 6032
TLG: 2058
Most recent Greek edition: Joseph Bidez, Philostorgius, Kirchengeschichte: Mit dem Leben des Lucian von Antiochien und den Fragmenten eines arianischen Historiographen (3rd ed.; rev. by Friedhelm Winkelmann; GCS: Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 1981).
English translation: Philostorgius: Church History, ed. and trans. P. Amidon (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature), 2007.

Philostorgius’ record of those who sympathized with Arius I.

Philostorgius’ record of those who sympathized with Arius II.

Last edited by AGC 1-10-2024

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