EPIPHANIUS OF CONSTANTIA: Life. Greek Church Father; b. at Basanduk (near Eleutheropolis, the modern Bet Jibrin, 23 m. s.w. of Jerusalem), probably between 310 and 320; d. at sea 403. It is very doubtful whether his parents were Jews, for while still a youth he lived among the monks of Egypt, where he came into conflict with Gnostic heretics and succeeded in expelling some eighty members of the sect. In his native town he founded a monastery and was ordained presbyter by the bishop of Eleutheropolis. He was possibly a close friend of Hilarion, although the statements in his Vita concerning their relations are devoid of historicity. But there is no doubt that he was a faithful adherent of the Nicene Creed, and because of his reputation for learning and piety he was made bishop of Constantin in Cyprus and metropolitan of the island in 357. He established monasticism in his see, and was so deeply venerated that his judgment was sought on all sides. Thus originated many of his works, such as his epistle on the perpetual virginity of Mary, his "Fast-anchored," his "Medicine Chest," and his "Twelve Gems."
Opposition to Origen. Next to his zeal for monasticism, Epiphanius was characterized by his orthodoxy. He regarded Origen as the father of all heresies, and made the task of his life the crushing of his opponent. His hatred was based on the fact that Origen was the source of Arianism and had also received a Greek training, with which was connected a spiritualism which Epiphanius opposed by a crass realism. He therefore became the leader of a reaction against Origen which assailed all Greek culture within the Church. While on a visit to Jerusalem (probably in 393), he contended in the Church of the Resurrection against the teachings of Origen as the root of Arianism until Bishop Johannes compelled him to desist. Johannes replied with a sermon against "anthropomorphism,” but Epiphanius, though he too repudiated all anthropomorphistic doctrines, besought the bishop to abandon the teachings of his opponent. Some time afterward he ordained a monk, the brother of Jerome, priest at Bethlehem, a violation of the episcopal rights of Johannes which he felt himself obliged to justify. He had another occasion to manifest his antipathy to Origen, when Theophilus of Alexandria came over to his side and sought to annihilate the followers of his former teacher in the Nitrian desert. The disciples of Origen took refuge with Chrysostom, and Theophilus urged Epiphanius to convene a synod to condemn Origen and to send its rulings to him, to Chrysostom, and other bishops. Epiphanius eagerly assented, held the synod, and hastened to Constantinople, at the invitation of Theophilus, in 402. There, however he avoided meeting Chrysostom, but performed another ordination which contravened ecclesiastical law and informed the bishops whom he had assembled of the condemnation of Origen. After a fruitless endeavor to secure the expulsion and excommunication of the adherents of Origen and the condemnation of his writings, he left the city in rage, but died before he reached Cyprus.
Character and Significance. The extraordinary reputation of Epiphanius among his contemporaries was due to his union of monastic asceticism with deep learning and zeal for orthodoxy, and he may be regarded as the representative of the tendency of his time to drive paganism at all costs from the position which it still held. His importance for posterity, on the other hand, is found in the contents of his writings. His "Fast-anchored" affords insight into the theology of the period, and it contains a detailed exposition of the doctrine of the Trinity and the Resurrection, and polemics against the Arians, Origen, and others. Far more important is the "Medicine Chest," which was based largely on Irenæus and the lost "Heresies" of Hippolytus. The other sources of Epiphanius are more difficult to trace. Once he quotes Clement of Alexandria as his authority, but shows himself independent in his discussion of many of the older heresies, especially the Jewish and Samaritan sects, the Ebionites, the Valentinians, and the Marcionites. With all his limitations, his work remains a valuable source for the heresies of the fourth century. The "Recapitulation," which was used by Augustine may also have been a separate work of Epiphanius. His "Weights and Measures" is devoted chiefly to the books of the Bible, their translations, the geography of Palestine, and other Biblical subject. His "Twelve Gems," on the twelve precious stone in the breastplate of the high priest, is extant only in two excerpts, one edited by Konrad Gesner (Zurich, 1565), and the other preserved as the fortieth question of Anastasius. The Latin translation of the latter, which is incomplete at the beginning and the end, was first published by P. F. Foggini (Rome, 1750), but the exegesis of the Song of Solomon, also translated by the same scholar, is really an abridgment of a work of Philo of Carpasia. The letters of Epiphanius to Johannes of Jerusalem and Jerome have been preserved in Latin translation, but the Homilies, the Vitæ prophetorum, the De numerorum mysteriis, and the so-called Physiologus are spurious.
Bibliography: The editio princeps of the Opera is by J. Hervagius, Basel, 1544; the editions by D. Petavius, Paris, 1622, and W. Dindorf, Leipsic, 1859-62 (critical) contain the Vita ascribed to an alleged companion of Epiphanius, Polybius (worthless as a source). Sources for a life are: Socrates, Hist. eccl., vi. 10, 12; Sozomen, Hist. eccl., vi. 32, vii. 27, viii. 14; Jerome, De vir. ill., cxiv. For more modern discussions of his life consult: A. Gervaise, Histoire de la vie de S. Épiphane, Paris, 1738; DCB, ii. 149-156 (by R. A. Lipsius, elaborate); Neander, Christian Church, vols. I., ii.; Schaff, Christian Church, iii. 926-933 et passim. For treatment of various phases of criticism consult: B. Eberhard, Die Betheiligung des Epiphanius am Streite über Origenes, Trier, 1850; R. A. Lipsius, Zur Quellenkritik des Epiphanies, Vienna, 1865; idem, Quellen der ältesten Ketzergeschichte, pp. 91 sqq., Leipsic, 1874; A. Hilgenfeld, Ketzergeschichte dcs Urchristentums, pp. 80 sqq., ib. 1884; H. G. Voigt, Eine verschollene Urkunde des antimontanistischen Kampfes, ib. 1891; E. Rolffs, in TU, xii. 4, 1895; Krumbacher, Geschichte, pp. 874 sqq.; G. Rauschen, Jahrbücher der christlichen Kirche, pp. 382-383, 404, 552 sqq., Freiburg, 1897; Kruger, History, passim; Harnack, Dogma, especially vol. ii.