The Works of Gelasius of Caesarea: A Potential Source for Sozomen’s Ecclesiastical History?

Joseph J. Reidy, Kennesaw State University


The parallels between the fifth-century Ecclesiastical History of Sozomen and the earlier narrative by Socrates of Constantinople are too striking to be ignored, and the scholarly consensus is that Sozomen incorporated significant portions of his predecessor’s work. Nonetheless, there are segments of Sozomen’s history that do not rely upon Socrates. These reveal the author’s awareness of events in Palestine as well as detailed theological arguments against non-Nicene theological positions. While this material may derive from Sozomen’s personal experience and knowledge, there is reason to believe otherwise. Those aspects of his Ecclesiastical History that are independent of Socrates’s suggest that another source may underlie Sozomen’s account. This paper argues that the lost fourth-century church history of Gelasius of Caesarea may be the source that Sozomen used for these parts of his narrative. The paper explores parallel instances among the texts of Socrates, Theodoret, and Sozomen, and highlights those details in Sozomen’s history that parallel the known interests and writings of Gelasius. While not conclusive, this article encourages future studies on the Ecclesiastical Histories of both Gelasius and Sozomen.