Serapion of Thmuis, St.
SERAPION OF THMUIS, ST.
Monk, theologian; consecrated bishop of Thmuis (Lower Egypt) before 339; d. after 362 (feast, March 21; Coptic Church, March 7). Scrapion had been superior of a colony of monks and was an intimate friend of St. an thony of egypt (the Hermit). He received a number of letters from St. athanasius of Alexandria, among them the four Concerning the Holy Spirit, the first formal treatise ever written on this subject. In 356 Athanasius sent Serapion with four other Egyptian bishops to the court of Constantius II to refute the calumnies of the Arians (Sozomen, Hist. eccl. 4.9). It was under the same Emperor that Serapion was ousted from his see by the Arian usurper Ptolemaius (359); and Jerome calls him a "confessor" (De vir. ill. 99). The same source states that Serapion was given the title scholasticus on account of his great learning.
Sozomen (loc. cit. ) calls him "a prelate distinguished by the wonderful sanctity of his life and the power of his eloquence." Jerome mentions among his works "an excellent treatise Against the Manicheans, one on the titles of the Psalms, and useful Epistles to various persons." The work on the Psalms is lost, but that against the Manichaeans was published in 1931 by R. Casey who discovered it in a 12th-century manuscript of the Monastery of Vatopedi on Mount Athos. It gives ample evidence of the rhetorical, philosophical, and theological erudition of the author. Serapion does not refute the entire Manichaean system, but limits himself to a criticism of the main points, especially of the dualistic theory of a good and bad principle.
Though there existed at one time a collection of 23 of his letters, only three are extant, two in Greek discovered by Cardinal Mai (the first addressed to Bishop Eudoxius; the second, to monks at Alexandria), and one in Syriac recently published by R. Draguet, addressed to some disciples of St. Anthony the hermit on the occasion of his death. Jerome does not mention the Euchologion, discovered by A. Dimitrijewskij (1894) in an 11th-century manuscript of the Laura Monastery of Mount athos. There is no doubt that Serapion is the author of this Sacramentary, which has great importance in the history of the liturgy. It consists of 30 prayers, 18 connected with the Eucharistic liturgy, seven with Baptism and Confirmation, three with Ordination, and two with the blessings of the oils and funerals. It contains the earliest certain evidence for the Sanctus in the Mass. Most striking is the prayer for the union of the Church drawn from the didache and inserted between the words of the Institution for the bread and the cup, and the epiclesis of the Logos, rather than the Holy Spirit, which seems to be Serapion's contribution. The author is a compiler of traditional material, but shows a bold independence that leads to the creation of new prayers and revisions of early Christian forms.
Bibliography: r. p. casey, Serapion of Thmuis against the Manichees (Cambridge, Mass. 1931). Patrologia Graeca, ed. j. p. migne (Paris 1857–66) 40:923–942. r. draguet, Muséon 64 (1951) 1–25, with Fr. tr. a. dimitrijewskij, ed., Euchologium (Kiev 1894). g. wobbermin, Texte und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur N5 2.3b (Berlin 1898). f. e. brightman, Journal of Theological Studies 1 (Berlin 1900) 88–113, 247–277. f. x. funk, ed., Didascalia et constitutions apostolorum, 2 v. (Paderborn 1905) 2:158–195. j. quasten, ed., Monumenta eucharista et liturgica vetustissima (Bonn 1935–37) 7.1:48–69. j. wordsworth, tr., Bishop Serapion's Prayer-Book (London 1899). g. bardy, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al., (Paris 1903–50; Tables générales 1951–) 14.2:1908–12. h. dÖrrie, Paulys Realenzyklopädie der klassischen Altertumswissenschaft, ed. g. wissowa et al. Suppl. 8 (Stuttgart 1956) 1260–67; j. quasten, Patrology (Westminster, Md. 1950–) 3:80–85. g. dix, The Shape of the Liturgy (2d ed. London 1945; repr. 1960) 162–172. p. e. rodopoulos, Theologia 28 (1957) 252–275, 420–439, 578–591; 29 (1958) 45–54, 208–217, Sacramentary. k. fitschen, Serapion von Thmuis : echte und unechte Schriften sowie die Zeugnisse des Athanasius und anderer (Berlin; New York 1992). m. e. johnson, The Prayers of Sarapion of Thmuis: A Literary, Liturgical, and Theological Analysis (Rome 1995).