History of the Christian Church – Saint Lucian of Antioch

I. Lucian was an eminent presbyter of Antioch and martyr of the Diocletian persecution, renewed by Maximin. Very little is known of him. He was transported from Antioch to Nicomedia, where the emperor then resided, made a noble confession of his faith before the judge and died under the tortures in prison. His memory was celebrated in Antioch on the 7th of January. His piety was of the severely ascetic type.

His memory was obscured by the suspicion of unsoundness in the faith. Eusebius twice mentions him and his glorious martyrdom, but is silent about his theological opinions. Alexander of Alexandria, in an encyclical of 321, associates him with Paul of Samosata and makes him responsible for the Arian heresy; he also says that he was excommunicated or kept aloof from the church during the episcopate of Domnus, Timaeus, and Cyrillus; intimating that his schismatic condition ceased before his death. The charge brought against him and his followers is that he denied the eternity of the Logos and the human soul of Christ (the Logos taking the place of the rational soul). Arius and the Arians speak of him as their teacher. On the other hand Pseudo-Athanasius calls him a great and holy martyr, and Chrysostom preached a eulogy on him 1 January 387. Baronius defends his orthodoxy, other Catholics deny it. Some distinguished two Lucians, one orthodox, and one heretical; but this is a groundless hypothesis.

The contradictory reports are easily reconciled by the assumption that Lucian was a critical scholar with some peculiar views on the Trinity and Christology which were not in harmony with the later Nicene orthodoxy, but that he wiped out all stains by his heroic confession and martyrdom.

II. The creed which goes by his name and was found after his death, is quite orthodox as far as it goes, and was laid with three similar creeds before the Synod of Antioch held a.d. 341, with the intention of being substituted for the Creed of Nicaea. It resembles the creed of Gregorius Thaumaturgus, is strictly trinitarian and acknowledges Jesus Christ “as the Son of God, the only begotten God, through whom all things were made, who was begotten of the Father before all ages, God of God, Whole of Whole, One of One, Perfect of Perfect, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, the living Word, Wisdom, Life, True Light, Way, Truth, Resurrection, Shepherd, Door, unchangeable and unalterable, the immutable Likeness of the Godhead, both of the substance and will and power and glory of the Father, the first-born of all creation, who was in the beginning with God, the Divine Logos, according to what is said in the Gospel: ’And the Word was God (John 1:1), through whom all things were made’ (ver. 3), and in whom ‘all things consist’ (Col. 1:17): who in the last days came down from above, and was born of a Virgin, according to the Scriptures, and became man, the Mediator between God and man, etc.

III. Lucianus is known also by his critical revision of the text of the Septuagint and the Greek Testament. Jerome mentions that copies were known in his day as “exemplaria Lucianea,” but in other places he speaks rather disparagingly of the texts of Lucian, and of Hesychius, a bishop of Egypt (who distinguished himself in the same field). In the absence of definite information it is impossible to decide the merits of his critical labors. His Hebrew scholarship is uncertain, and hence we do not know whether his revision of the Septuagint was made from the original.

As to the New Testament, it is likely that he contributed much towards the Syrian recension (if we may so call it), which was used by Chrysostom and the later Greek fathers, and which lies at the basis of the textus receptus.

– History of the Christian Church, by Philip Schaff, 1910