[St. Pachomius Library]

Sextus Julius Africanus

II/III Centuries
The author of the first universal chronology by a Christian, Julius Sextus Africanus was born c. 160/180, probably at Jerusalem and had connections with the royal house of Edessa. He served as prefect for Emmaus, and he seems to have travelled widely in Italy, Asia, and Egypt. His Chronographia is a compilation of Judaic history (Old Testament), Chaldean chronologies, Oriental secular histories, and Greek mythology. Thought to have been composed c. 221, the work was a model for Eusebius, who rejected the millenianism of Julius, and a source for Sozomen and George the Synkellos. Fragments only are extant. The organizer of the public library at the Pantheon, Julius wrote the Kestoi ("Embroideries"), a 24-volume encyclopedia dedicated to his patron, Alexander Severus. The knowledge present derives from both pagan and Christian sources, and fragments only exist. Its articles on chemistry and explosives were used to develop Greek fire. Two letters (to Origen and to Aristedes) are extant and show solid critical ability. The work of Julius, who died c. 240/250, increased the prestige of Christianity.

Karen Rae Keck


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