John of Antioch. —There are four persons commonly known by this name.
I. JOHN, Patriarch of Antioch (428-41) at the time of the Council of Ephesus. He was a friend and had been a fellow-student of Nestorius. When the trouble about the word theotokos began, he wrote and warned Nestorius not to make a disturbance, showing that this title of the Blessed Virgin had been constantly used by orthodox Fathers. Later, Nestorius wrote to him, enclosing Cyril of Alexandria‘s twelve anathemas and some of his own sermons, and defending himself. John then decided for his friend against his natural rival, “the Egyptian”. He was summoned to Ephesus by the emperor in November, 430, with all the other bishops. But when the council was opened in June, 431, he had not come. The Fathers waited for him some time; then two of his metropolitans (those of Apamea and Hierapolis) declared in his name that the council was to begin without him. It was thought that he did not wish to be present at the condemnation of his friend, so the first session was held in his absence. Six days later John arrived with a great number of his bishops, refused all invitations to take part in the council, and opened at his own lodging a rival synod, which defended Nestorius and condemned Cyril. This rival assembly (in which the emperor’s commissioner, Candidian, took part) caused the great trouble at Ephesus (see Council of Ephesus). From this time John took the side of Nestorius, declared his deposition unjust, refused to acknowledge the new Bishop of Constantinople, Maximian, and was in schism with Alexandria and Rome. Later, he held a synod at Antioch, in which he anathematized Cyril and all his partisans. Eventually, however, he was reconciled. Emperor Theodosius II (408-50) sent a tribune, Aristolaos, to Antioch and then to Alexandria to make peace. John was persuaded to send one of his bishops, Paul of Emesa, to Alexandria with an orthodox profession of faith in 433. Cyril accepted Paul’s message and allowed him to preach at Alexandria. After a few more disputes about minor points, John, in April, 433, signed a formula, prepared by Cyril, condemning Nestorius; so that Cyril was able to write to Pope Sixtus III (432-40) that peace was restored between the two Eastern patriarchates. The result of this was that many bishops in Syria declared that John had fallen away from the Faith, and broke communion with him. Towards these bishops (the first founders of the Nestorian Church in East Syria) John used a policy of moderation and concession, as far as was possible without sacrificing the Faith of Ephesus, from which he did not again swerve. On the other hand there were Catholics, such as the deacon Maximus, who thought that the patriarch was too conciliatory to the heretics, and who threatened to make a schism on their side too. Cyril wrote to warn these zealots not to cause further complications, and loyally helped John to reconcile the Nestorian party by his letters. John did not again tamper with Nestorianism. When a definite Nestorian schism organized itself at Edessa, it was by renouncing the obedience of Antioch. John even invoked the civil power to put an end to the schism, and so began the persecution of the Nestorians that ended in their escaping across the frontier to Persia. John died unimpeachably orthodox in 441. (For all this see Ephesus, Council of , and Nestorianism.) Four letters of this John of Antioch are extant (Mansi, “Conc. Coll.”, V, 813-14; cf. P.G., LXXVII, 1449-58).
II. JOHN OF ANTIOCH, chronicler in the seventh century. He was a monk, apparently contemporary with Emperor Heraclius (610-41). He composed a chronicle (`Istoria chronike) from Adam to the death of Phokas (610), using for this purpose Sextus Julius Africanus, Eusebius, Ammianus Marcellinus, and other standard authorities. It is one of the many adaptations and imitations of the better known chronicle of John Malalas. Only fragments of it remain. Gelzer (Sextus Julius Africanus, 41) identifies the author with the Monophysite Patriarch John of Antioch, who ruled from 630 to 648. The fragments of the chronicle are contained in two collections, the Codex Parisinus, 1763, written by Salmasius, and the encyclopedia of history made by order of Constantine VII, Porphyrogenitus (912-59), in fifty-three chapters, or titles with different headings. Of this collection of excerpts only parts remain (Krumbacher, “Byz. Litt.”, 258-60). Two titles: “Of Virtue and Vice” and “Of Conspiracies against Emperors” contain the literary remains of John of Antioch. A difficulty arises from the fact that a great part of the extracts (from the Roman Commonwealth of Justin I) differs considerably from the corresponding quotations in the Salmasian collection. The Constantinian passages are of the nature of the old Hellenic writing of history, the Salmasian ones are rather Byzantine and Christian. The Salmasian compilation is older, and so appears to be the original text; the other is no doubt a rearrangement made under the influence of the Hellenic Renaissance since Photius. But some authorities see in them two different originals and speak of a “Constantinian” and a “Salmasian “John of Antioch.
The Salmasian excerpts are edited by Cramer, “Anecdota Graeca e cod. mss. regiae Parisiensis”, II, Oxford, 1839, 383-401. Both series of fragments are in C. Muller, “Fragmenta Historicorum Graecorum”, IV, Paris, 1883, 535-622; V, 27-8.
IV. JOHN OF ANTIOCH, Orthodox patriarch at the time of Alexius I Comnenus (1081-1118), formerly a monk in Oxia, one of the Echinades Islands in the Ionian Sea. He was a reformer of monasticism and a deserving ascetic writer. Towards the end of the tenth century a custom grew up in the East of bequeathing property to a monastery on condition that some prominent layman should be its patron or guardian (ephoros). The monastery then owed something like feudal service to its protector. Such benefices were called charistikaria. The result was that frequently the lay “ephoros” misused the property of the monastery for his own enrichment. Against this abuse John wrote a work “Of the [true] Teaching concerning Monasteries” (peri monastikes didaskalias), in which he shows its evils in a tone of dignified indignation. Theodore Balsamon in the twelfth century refers to this work in his commentary on the “Nomocanon“. John also wrote a work of anti-Latin controversy, “Of Azymes“, that is still unedited. Leo Allatius quotes a passage from a letter from John of Antioch to Theodore of Ephesus (“De aetate et interstitiis in collatione ordinum etiam apud Graecos servandis”, Rome, 1638, 215). The work about monasteries is in P.G., CXXXII, 1117-49.