Bishop of Constantia, Cyprus; born at Bezanduke near Eleutheropolis, Palestine, between 310 and 320 (according to Bartolocci, in 288); died at sea in 403. Epiphanius is supposed to have been born of Jewish parents and to have embraced Christianity in his sixteenth year. A legend asserts that, before his conversion, Epiphanius was adopted by a rich Jew named Tryphon, who died soon afterward, leaving his fortune to Epiphanius. After passing four years in Egypt in a monastery, Epiphanius returned to his native village, founding there a monastery of which he became abbot. In 367 he was elected Bishop of Constantia, in Cyprus, and became a zealous defender of orthodoxy, attaining celebrity on account of his opposition to Origen, whom he had condemned before two councils (399 and 401). Epiphanius was a teacher and friend of Jerome. Suspecting Chrysostom of favoring thefollowers of Origen, he went to Constantinople to denounce the heretical bishop, and died on his way back to Constantia.
Of especial interest to Jews, owing to the information it contains on Jewish, Gnostic, and Judoæo-Christian views, is his Πανάριον, an account, written in 374-376, of eighty heretical sects. According to Epiphanius, the pre-Christian sects are based upon the following systems: Barbarism, Scythism, Hellenism, Judaism, and Samaritanism. Heresies derived from Samaritanism are the following, the order being slightly changed in his letter to Acacius and Paulus: Samaritans (ix.), Gorothæans (x.), Sebuæans (xi.), Essenes (xii.), and Dositheans (xiii.). Those emanating from Judaism are: Scribes (xiv.), Pharisees (xv.), Sadducees (xvi.), Hemerobaptists (xvii.), Ossæans (xviii.), Nazarenes (xix.), and Herodians (xx.). To these must be added the Nazarenes again (xxix.), the Ebionites (xxx.), and the Judaizing Sampsæans (liii.). Though he follows older sources, such as Hippolytus I., and though he is often wanting in perspicuity, he adds a great deal from his own observation and study. In regard to the Ebionites he is the only source for their gospel (Zahn, "Geschichte des Neutestamentlichen Kanons," ii., part 1, p. 724). His treatise on Biblical weights and measures (περì Μέτρων καì Σταϑμῶν), published by Lagarde in Greek, with a partial translation into German ("Symmicta," i. 210, ii. 150), and in Syriac ("Veteris Testamenti ab Origene Recensiti Fragmenta," etc., pp. I et seq.), is more than what its name implies. It treats of the Greek translations of the Bible (see Swete, "Introduction," p. 31) as well as of localities and the stars and heavenly bodies mentioned in Scripture.
In these works, as also in his "Lives of the Prophets" (ed. in Greek and Latin, Basel, 1529; in Syriac, Nestle, "Syriac Grammar," p. 87; comp. idem, "Marginalien," ii. 1893) and in his short treatise on Aaron's breastplate (ed. Dindorf, i. 141, and in many Syriac MSS.), he shows a varied acquaintance with Jewish traditions (see, e.g., Ginzberg, "Die Haggada bei den Kirchenvätern," pp. 24, 40, 104, 119). That he knew Hebrew seems probable from his occasional Hebrew quotations.
- Panariun, in Epiphanius' collected works, ed. Oehler, Berlin, 1859-61;
- Bartolocci, Bibl. Rab. i. 424-428;
- Basnage, Hist. des Juifs, viii. 150;
- Hilgenfeld, Ketzergesch. des Ur-Christenthums, pp. 80 et seq.;
- Lipsius, Zur Quellen-Kritik des Epiphanius, Vienna, 1865;
- Harnack, in Zeit. für die Gesammte Lutherische Theoloqie, und Kirche, 1874, p. 143.