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Paul of Samosata

FL. 260-272. Bishop of Antioch. From Samosata on the Euphrates, he became bishop of Syrian Antioch c.260. His political role under Odenath and Zenobia of Palmyra-governor over tax collection-entitled him to a bodyguard, the position of judge, and a private council chamber. His critics charged him with encouraging adulation of himself and keeping virgines subintroductae. At local synods they failed to depose him in 264, but succeeded in 268, when they elected his successor, Domnus. Popular support retained Paul, and Antioch had two bishops until 272 when Aurelian recovered the city from the Palmyrene regime. Paulianists survived at least until the Council of Nicea (325).

The sources for his teaching are accepted with differing degrees of confidence by scholars. Apparently Paul distinguished the “heavenly Word” from the man Jesus, whereas his Origenist opponent Malchion* argued for a unity in Christ echoed later by Apollinarius.* Paul objected to attributing ousia to the Word, probably because two ousiai, of the Father and of the Word, would make a divided Godhead. Loofs interpreted Paul as an economic Trinitarian, foreshadowing Marcellus of Ancyra.* Fourth-century critics generally accused him of making Christ “a mere man” and stressing His human soul. Heretics later charged with his error include Marcellus of Ancyra, Theodore of Mopsuestia,* and Nestorius.*

See H. de Riedmatten, Les Actes du Procès de Paul de Samosate (1952).

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