St. Evodius of Antioch

Disciple of Jesus
Bishop of Antioch [succeeding St. Peter] 
martyred c. 69
Memorial : 6 May

The first Bishop of Antioch after St. Peter. Eusebius mentions him thus in his "History": "And Evodius having been established the first bishop of the Antiochians, Ignatius flourished at this time" . The time referred to is that of Clement of Rome and Trajan, of whom Eusebius has just spoken. Harnack has shown (after discarding an earlier theory of his own) Eusebius possessed a list of the bishops of Antioch which did not give their dates, and that he was obliged to synchronize them roughly with the popes. It seems certain that he took the three episcopal lists of Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch from the "Chronography" which Julius Africanus published in 221. The "Chronicle of Eusebius" is lost; but in Jerome's translation of it we find in three successive years the three entries that Peter, having founded the Church of Antioch, is sent to Rome, where he perseveres as bishop for 25 years; that Mark, the interpreter of Peter, preaches Christ in Egypt and Alexandria; and that Evodius is ordained first Bishop of Antioch.

This last year is given as Claudius III by the Codex Freherianus, but by the fifth-century Bodleian Codex (not used in Schoene's edition) and the rest as Claudius IV (A.D. 44). The Armenian translation has Claudius II. We have no mention of Evodius earlier than that by Africanus; but the latter is confirmed by his contemporary, Origen, who calls Ignatius the second bishop after Peter (Hom. IV, in Luc., III, 938A). It is curious that the ordination of Evodius should not have been given in the "Chronography" in the same year as the founding of the Antiochian Church by Peter, and Hort supposed that the three entries must have belonged to a single year in Eusebius. But the evidence is not in favour of this simplification. The year of the accession of Ignatius, that is of the death of Evodius, was unknown to Eusebius, for he merely places it in the "Chronicle" together with the death of Peter and the accession of Linus at Rome (Nero 14-68), while in the "History" he mentions it at the beginning of Trajan's reign.

The fame of Ignatius has caused later writers, such as Athanasius and Chrysostom, to speak of him as though he were the immediate successor of the Apostles. Jerome (Illustrious Men 16) and Socrates (H.E. VI, 8) call him the "third" bishop after St. Peter, but this is only because they illogically include Peter among his own successors. Theodoret and Pseudo-Ignatius represent Ignatius as consecrated by Peter. The difficulty which thus arose about Evodius was solved in the Apostolic Constitutions by stating that Evodius was ordained by Peter and Ignatius by Paul. The Byzantine chronographer, John Malalas (X, 252), relates that as Peter went to Rome, and passed through the great city of Antioch, it happened that Evodus (sic), the bishop and patriarch, died, and Ignatius succeeded him, he attributes to Evodius the invention of the name Christian. Salmon does not seem to be justified in supposing that Malalas ascribes any of this information to Theophilus, the second century Bishop of Antioch. We may be sure that Evodius is an historical personage, and really the predecessor of St. Ignatius. But the dates of his ordination and death are quite uncertain. No early witness makes him a martyr.

The Greeks commemorate together "Evodus" and Onesiphorus (2 Timothy 1:16) as of the seventy disciples and as martyrs on 29 April, and also on 7 September. Evodius was unknown to the earlier Western martyrologies the Hieronymian, and those of Bede and Florus; but Ado introduced him into the so-called "Martyrologium Romanum parvum" (which he forged not long before 860) and into his own work, on 6 May. His source was Pseudo-Ignatius, whom he quotes in the "Libellus de fest. Apost.", prefixed to the martyrology proper. From him the notice came to Usuard and the rest, and to the present Roman Martyrology.

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