Alexandrian

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Webster's Dictionary [1]

(1): (a.) Of or pertaining to Alexandria in Egypt; as, the Alexandrian library.

(2): (a.) Applied to a kind of heroic verse. See Alexandrine, n.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [2]

( Ἀλεξανδρεύς ) , an inhabitant of Alexandria in Egypt, spec. a Jew living there ( Acts 6:9;  Acts 18:24). Alexandria was much frequented by Jews, so that 10,000 of them are said to have been numbered among its inhabitants (Philo, In Flacc. p. 971; Josephus, Ant. 19, 5, 2). (See Alexandria). It appears from  Acts 6:9, that they were accustomed to attend the festivals at Jerusalem, and that they even had a synagogue there for their special use (Kuinol, Hackett, in loc.). (See Synagogue).

Alexandrian Chronicle the name given to a MS. found in Sicily by Jerome Surita, and carried to Rome, and preserved by Antonio Augustine, auditor of the Rota. Charles Sigonius and Onuphrius Panvinius made considerable use of it in the composition of their Consular Fasti, and published it in Greek and Latin. The name "Sicilia Fasti" was given to these annals because of their having been found in that island. It is not so easy to assign a reason for the name of "the Chronicle of Alexandria," except that the name of Peter of Alexandria is at the head of the Augsburg MS. found in the library of Augsburg by Casaubon. Mattheus Raderus, a Jesuit, published the first complete edition of this chronicle at Munich, in 1615, in Greek and Latin. Dufresne, who published an improved edition (Gr. and Lat. with notes, Paris, 1688), gives it the name of the Paschal Chronicle, because it treats of the time of celebrating Easter. Cave and Ussher attribute it to George Pisides, A.D. 640; Casimir Oudin to George of Alexandria, A.D. 620. This chronicle begins at the creation, and is carried up to the tenth year of the consulate of the Emperor Heraclius, or A.D. 628. It seems to have been written by two authors, of whom one carried the work on to the year of Christ 354, and the other completed it. It is compiled without any great judgment or research, but the writer evidently had access to many ancient monuments, which are now lost. Cave, Hist. Lit. anno 640.

Alexandrian Library This remarkable collection of books, the largest of the ancient world, was founded by Ptolemy Soter, in the city of Alexandria, in Egypt. Even in the time of its first manager, Demetrius Phalereus, a banished Athenian, the number of volumes or rolls already amounted to 50,000; and during its most flourishing period, under the direction of Zenodotus, Aristarchus of Byzantium, Apollonius Rhodius, and others, is said to have contained 400,000, or, according to another authority, 700,000. The greater part of this library, which embraced the collected literature of Rome, Greece, India, and Egypt, was contained in the Museum, in the quarter of Alexandria called Brucheium. During the siege of Alexandria by Julius Caesar this part of the library was destroyed by fire; but it was afterward replaced by the collection of Pergamos, which was presented to Queen Cleopatra by Mark Antony, to the great annoyance of the educated Romans. The other part of the library was kept in the Serapeion, the temple of Jupiter Serapis, where it remained till the time of Theodosius the Great. When the emperor permitted all the heathen temples in the Roman empire to be destroyed, the magnificent temple of Jupiter Serapis was not spared. A mob of fanatic Christians, led on by the Archbishop Theophilus, stormed and destroyed the temple, together, it is most likely, with the greater part of its literary treasures, in A.D. 391. It was at this time that the destruction of the library was begun, and not at the taking of Alexandria by the Arabians, under the Caliph Omar in A.D. 642. The story, at least, is ridiculously exaggerated which relates that the Arabs found a sufficient number of books remaining to heat the baths of the city for six months. The historian Orosius, who visited the place after the destruction of the temple by the Christians, relates that he then saw only the empty shelves of the library (Gibbon, Decline and Fall, c. 51). See Petit-Radel, Recherches sur les Bibliotheques Anciennes et Modernes (Paris, 1819); and Ritschl, Die Alexandrinischen Bibliotheken (Berlin, 1838). See ALEXANDRIA.

Alexandrian Manuscript (Codex Alexandrinus So called from its supposed origin at Alexandria), one of the three or four most famous copies of the Holy Scriptures, and designated as A of the N.T. It contains the whole Bible in Greek, including the Septuagint version of the O.T., with the first (or genuine) Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians, and part of his second (or apocryphal). It is defective, however, in several passages of the N.T. ( Matthew 1:1;  Matthew 25:6;  John 6:50 to  John 8:52;  2 Corinthians 4:13 to  2 Corinthians 12:6), and in part of the Psalms, where the leaves are totally missing. Letters here and there have also been cut away in binding; and in a considerable part of the N.T. one of the upper corners of the leaves is gone. The N.T. books are found in the order in which they are arranged in the other ancient MSS.: the Catholic Epistles follow the Acts; then come the Pauline Epistles, but with that to the Hebrew before the Pastoral Epistles; the Apocalypse, so rare in extant ancient codices, stands as usual at the close of the N.T.; and in this copy it has been preserved from the injury which has befallen both ends of the volume by reason of the Epistles of Clement having been added. The MS., which is on thin vellum and in semi-folio form, is now bound in four volumes, the first three of which contain the O.T. The pages are about thirteen inches long and ten broad; the writing on each is divided into two columns of fifty lines each, having about twenty letters or upward in a line. These letters are continuously written in uncial characters, without any space between the words, the uncials being of an elegant yet simple form, in a firm and uniform hand, though in some places larger than in others. The punctuation merely consists of a point placed at the end of the sentence, usually on a level with the top of the preceding letter, but not always, and a vacant space follows the point at the end of the paragraph, the space being proportioned to the break in the sense. Capital letters of various sizes abound at the beginning of books and sections, not painted as in later copies, but written by the original scribe in common ink. Vermilion is freely used in the initial lines of books. Accents and breathings are found in the beginning of Genesis only. At the end of each book are neat and unique ornaments in the ink of the first hand. Contractions occur as in other very ancient MSS. It has the Ammonian divisions of the Gospels, with references to the canons of Eusebius; the headings of the large sections are placed at the top of the page, the places where they begin being indicated in the text, and in Luke and John the numbers being set in the margin of the column. The subdivisions of the Acts, Epistles, and Apocalypse, by Euthalius and others, are not indicated; a cross occasionally appears as a separation of the chapters of the Acts a large initial denoting a paragraph throughout (Davidson, Bib. Crit. 2, 271 sq ).

This MS. is now in the manuscript room of the British Museum, where it was placed on the formation of that library in 1753. It previously belonged to the king's private collection, having been presented to Charles I through Sir Thomas Roe, English ambassador to Turkey, by Cyril Lucar, patriarch of Constantinople. An Arabic inscription, several centuries old, at the back of the table of contents, on the first leaf of the MS., states that it was written by the hand of Thecla the martyr, and given to the Patriarchal Chamber in the year of the Martyrs 814 (A.D. 1098). Another, and apparently an earlier inscription, in Moorish Arabic, declares that the book was dedicated to the Patriarchal Chamber at Alexandria. But upon neither of these notices can much reliance be placed. That the codex was brought from Alexandria by Cyril (who had previously been patriarch of that see), need not, however, be doubted, though Wetstein, on the dubious authority of Matthew Muttis of Cyprus, Cyril's deacon, concluded that it came from Matthew Athos. It is now very generally assigned to the beginning or middle of the fifth century. The reasons for this are in part the general style of the characters, especially the shape of certain distinctive letters (e.g. Α , Δ , Ε , Π , Σ , Φ , and Ω ), the presence of the Eusebian canons (A.D. 268- 340?), and of the Epistle of Marcellinus by Athanasius before the Psalms

(303?-373), which place a limit in one direction; while the absence of the Euthalian divisions of the Acts and Epistles, and the shortness of the subscriptions appear tolerably decisive against a later date than A.D. 450. The insertion of Clement's Epistles points likewise to a period when the canon was yet unsettled. These were added as parts of the specified number of the N.T. books; while the apocryphal Psalms bearing the name of Solomon, which the MS. appears to have once contained, were separated in the list, as something wholly different in point of authority. The latter were prohibited by the Council of Laodicea, soon after the middle of the fourth century, from being read in the churches; and to this prohibition the MS. is conformed, although it treats the epistles of Clement so differently. Wetstein's and Woide's objections to this date (such as the use of Θεοτόκος as a title of the Virgin in her song added to the Psalms) are anachronous. Woide believes that a different hand was employed upon it from 1 Corinthians 5, onward, but this is not clear. The original copyist was not very careful, and the later corrector was by no means accurate. Yet of all the uncials, this holds a rank as one of the first value. It contains indeed the itacisms (interchange of Ι and Ει , Η and Ι , Ε and Αι ) common to that period, and certain orthographical peculiarities (e.g. Χημψομαι , Ελαβαμεν , etc.) frequent in the Egyptian MSS. The reference to St. Thecla as its writer is plausibly explained by Tregelles, who remarks that, inasmuch as the text ( Matthew 25:6) where this MS. now begins was the lesson in the Greek Church for her festival, the Egyptian scribe may have hastily concluded that she wrote it (Scrivener, Introd. To N.T. p. 82). (See Biblical Manuscripts).

The N.T. portion of this Codex was published by Woide, from facsimile letters cast expressly for the purpose, under the title "Nov. Test. Groec. e Cod. Alexandr." (Lond. 1786, fol.); revised by Cowper (Lond. 1860). The O.T. part was printed from the same characters by Baber (4 vols. fol. Lond. 1816-28). On its critical value, see Semler, De oetate Cod. Alexandr. (Hal. 1759); Woide, Notitia Cod. Alexandr. curavit Spohn (Lips. 1788). Comp. Michaelis, Orient. Bibl. 9, 166 sq.; Cramer, Beitr. 3, 101-146;. Tregelles, in Home's Introd. ed. 1846, 4:152 sq., 678; Princeton Rev. Jan. 1861; Am. Theol. Rev. July, 1861; Chr. Remembrancer, Apr. 1861; Dietelmaier, Antiquitas Cod. Alex. vindicata (Hal. 1739); Jorke, De estate Cod. Alex. (Hal. 1759); Spohn, Notitia Cod. Alex. (Lpz. 1789); Stroth, De Cod. Alex. (Hal. 1771). It has also been published in phototype (Lond. 1888, 3 vols. fol.).

Alexandrian Schools a term usually applied to the various systems of philosophy and religious belief that have characterized or originated among the citizens of Alexandria at different periods in its history. (See Alexandria).

I. Pagan. When Alexander the Great built the city of Alexandria, with a determination to make it the seat of his empire, he also opened a new mart of philosophy, which emulated the fame of Athens itself. A general indulgence was granted to Egyptians, Grecians, Jews, or others, to profess their respective systems of philosophy without molestation. The consequence was that Egypt was soon filled with religious and philosophical sectaries of every kind, and particularly that almost every Grecian sect found an advocate and professor in Alexandria. The family of the Ptolemies, who, after Alexander, obtained the government of Egypt, from motives of policy encouraged this new establishment. Ptolemy Lagus, who had obtained the crown of Egypt by usurpation, was particularly careful to secure the interest of the Greeks in his favor, and with this view invited people from every part of Greece to settle in Egypt, and removed the schools of Athens to Alexandria. Under the patronage, first of the Egyptian princes and afterward of the Roman emperors, Alexandria long continued to enjoy great celebrity as the seat of learning, and to send forth eminent philosophers of every sect to distant countries. Philosophy during this period suffered a grievous corruption from the attempt which was made by philosophers of different sects and countries, Grecian, Egyptian, and Oriental, to frame from their different tenets one general system of opinions. The respect which had long been universally paid to the schools of Greece, and the honors with which they were now adorned by the Egyptian princes, induced other wise men, and even the Egyptian priests and philosophers themselves, to submit to this innovation. (See Philosophy).

Naturally enough, therefore, the philosophy which seems to have obtained most at Alexandria was an eclectic teaching, aiming at bringing together the best features of every school, and combining them into one harmonious aggregate. Antiochus is the best representative of that movement: the fundamental idea of his metaphysics consists in asserting that the writings of Plato, connected with those of Orpheus and of Pythagoras, form a code of doctrine, a species of revelation, given by heaven, and superior to all the attempts of human speculation. The eclecticism taught by Antiochus was exclusively confined to the doctrines of the Greek school. The celebrated Philo (q.v.), who flourished from A.D. 40 to 60, borrowing from the works of Plato a great number of ideas and views, endeavored to amalgamate them with the truth contained in the Old Testament, the traditions of the Cabala, and the Essenian philosophy. Philo may be said to have spiritualized Judaism by the means of Platonism; and in turning the mind of his countrymen away from mere verbal criticism, and from the minutiae of legal observances, he prepared them, to some degree, for the reception of the Gospel. But the philosopher whose name is chiefly connected with the history of Alexandria is Ammonius Saccas (q.v.), surnamed Θεοδίδακτος , on account of the beauty of his teaching, who was a mystic theosophist, but a theosophist who blended his views with polytheism, and engrafted them there, not on Christianity. Seeing how fast the old convictions were vanishing away before ideas, feelings, and hopes of a totally different origin, he endeavored to renovate philosophy by showing that on the most important points Plato and Aristotle agree. This was the ruling axiom of his theories, which he completed in systematizing the Greek demonology by the help of elements derived from Egyptian and Eastern sources. As soon as the Christian religion became the creed of the state, the pagan school of Alexandria fell to the ground. It had to maintain, single-handed, a desperate struggle against the united forces of Gnostic philosophers and of the new religion, which, after having originated in an obscure corner of the Roman empire, was advancing with rapid strides to the conquest of society. The best accounts of the literary history of Alexandria, its pagan schools, libraries, philosophy, etc., may be found in M. Matter's Histoire de l'ecole d'Alexandrie (Paris, 2d ed. 3 vols. 8vo) and in Simon's Histoire de l'ecole d'Alexandrie (Paris, 1845, 2 vols. 8vo). A rapid and vigorous, but not very trustworthy sketch is given in Kingsley's Alexandria and her Schools (Cambridge, 1854, 12mo).

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