Early Church Fathers
Translator's Biographical Notice.
[a.d. 309.] According to the common account Pamphilus was a native of Berytus, the modern Beirut, and a member of a distinguished Phoenician family. Leaving Berytus, however, at an early period, he repaired to Alexandria and studied under Pierius, the well-known head of the Catechetical school there. At a subsequent period he went to the Palestinian Caesareia, and was made a presbyter of the Church there under Bishop Agapius. In course of the persecutions of Diocletian he was thrown into prison by Urbanus, the governor of Palestine. This took place towards the end of the year 307 a.d., and his confinement lasted till the beginning of the year 309, when he suffered martyrdom by order of Firmilianus, who had succeeded Urbanus in the governorship of the country. During his imprisonment he enjoyed the affectionate attendance of Eusebius, the Church historian, and the tender friendship which subsisted long between the two is well known. It was as a memorial of that intimacy that Eusebius took the surname of Pamphili. Pamphilus appears to have given himself up with great enthusiasm to the promotion of Biblical studies, and is spoken of as the founder of a theological school in which special importance was attached to exposition. He busied himself also with the transcription and dissemination of the Scriptures and other writings, such as those of Origen, of whom he was a devoted follower. At Caesareia he established a great public library,1 consisting mainly of ecclesiastical writers; and among the treasures of that library are mentioned the Tetrapla and Hexapla of Origen, from which, with the help of Eusebius, he produced a new and revised edition of the Septuagint. There is a statement in Jerome2 to the effect that, though he was so great a student of the writings of others, Pamphilus, through an excess of modesty, wrote no work of his own, with exception of some letters to his friends.3 But there is a work bearing the title of An Exposition of the Chapters of the Acts of the Apostles, which is attributed by many to him, although others ascribe it to Euthalius, bishop of Sulce. And besides this there is also the Apology for Origen, of which, according to the statement of Photius,4 the first five books were compiled by Pamphilus, in conjunction with Eusebius, during the period of his imprisonment, the sixth book being added by Eusebius after his friend's martyrdom. Of this Apology we possess now only the first book, and that, too, only in the faulty Latin version of Rufinus. There are repeated and warmly eulogistic references to Pamphilus in the Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius. Thus he speaks of him as that holy martyr of our day; and as that most eloquent man, and that philosopher truly such in his life; and again, as that most admirable man of our times, that glory of the church of Caesareia. He devotes the eleventh chapter of the eighth book also to a notice of Pamphilus and other martyrs. And besides all this he wrote a separate life of his friend, in three books, of which, however, all has perished, with exception of a few disputed fragments.