Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature to the End of the Sixth Century/Joannes (520), monk and author
Joannes (520), surnamed Moschus and Eucratas (also Everatas and Eviratus, corruptions of Eucratas as Fabricius remarks), a monk, author of Pratum Spirituale, c. 620. The materials of his Life are to be collected from his book (which exhibits no historical arrangement), a brief notice by Photius (Cod. 199) and a Greek Vatican MS. of which Migne has printed a Latin version entitled Elogium Auctoris. This document extends the chronological material, and purports to have been composed while the Laura of St. Sabas in Palestine was standing.
Photius states that Moschus commenced the recluse life in the monastery of St. Theodosius, perhaps c. 575. In the Pratum Moschus is found at two monasteries named after two Theodosii, near Antioch and Jerusalem respectively. The one intended by Photius is a Laura founded c. 451 by the younger St. Theodosius a little E. of Jerusalem (Boll. Acta SS. Jan. i. 683). The Pratum (c. 92) shews Moschus at this spot, described as "in the desert of the holy city," Gregory being archimandrite. In the reign of Tiberius (Prat. 112) John Moschus was sent by his superior on monastic business with a companion, Sophronius Sophista (said to have been afterwards patriarch of Jerusalem), to Egypt and Oasis. This circumstance, unnoticed by Photius, is assigned by the Elogium to the beginning of the reign of Tiberius (i.e. 578). The absence was perhaps temporary, and Moschus's more protracted wanderings in Egypt may be assigned to a much later day. His Palestine life lasted more than 25 years, and Sophronius Sophista is frequently mentioned as his companion, once with a remark that it was "before he renounced the world." Photius states that he began monastic life at St. Theodosius, he afterwards resided with
the monks of the Jordan desert and in the new laura of St. Sabas. The Pratum fills up this outline. The laura of Pharon (Φαρών [acute accent on the alpha], Φαρῶν [circumflex accent on the omega], Φαρᾶ, Pharan in the Latin version) was his residence for ten years (40). It was within burying distance of Jerusalem (42), and near the laura of Calamon and that of the Towers of Jordan (40). The laura of Calamon where Moschus visited was near Jordan (157, 163). Another ten years (67) he resided at the laura of Aeliotae. This also was near Jordan (134) and still under the rule of its founder Antonius (66). Moschus was at Jerusalem at the consecration of the patriarch Amos (149), probably therefore A.D. 594 (Le Quien, Or. Chr. iii. 246); he records having ascended from "holy Gethsemane" to the "holy mount of Olives" (187). He resided at the laura of St. Sabas, called New Laura (3,128) near the Dead Sea (53), and a few miles E. of St. Theodosius (Boll. u.s.). He visited the μονή of the eunuchs near "holy Jordan" (135–137), the xenodochium of the fathers at Ascalon (189), and Scythopolis (50). That he held the office of a κανόναρχος is a mistake of Fabricius, citing Prat. 50, where it is a narrator, not Moschus, who thus describes himself. >From the wilderness of Jordan and the New Laura, says Photius, John went to Antioch and its neighbourhood, the Elogium adding that this occurred when the Persians attacked the Romans because of the murder (Nov. 27, 602) of the emperor Maurice and his children. In 603 Chosroes declared war against Phocas. The Pratum shews Moschus at Antioch or Theopolis (88, 89) and at Seleucia while Theodorus was bp. (79); but as this bp. is not otherwise known we get no date (Le Quien, Or. Chr. ii. 780). He visited the μοναστήριον (also μονή) of the elder St. Theodosius, on the Rhosicus Scopulus, a mountain promontory between Rhosus in the gulf of Issus and Seleucia (80–86, 95, 99). At a village six miles from Rhosus, in the seventh indiction (i.e. between Sept. 1, 604, and Aug. 31, 605), he heard the story of Joannes Humilis. From those parts, says Photius, he went to Alexandria and Oasis and the neighbouring deserts. This was his principal visit to Egypt, the only one noticed by Photius and the most prominent one in the Elogium, which states his reason for leaving Syria to have been the invasion of the empire by the Persians, i.e. when Chosroes overran N. Syria in and after 605 (as detailed by Rawlinson, Seventh Monarchy, 501, 502). At Alexandria Moschus remained eight years (as the Latin version renders νρόνους ὁκτώ, Prat. 13 fin.) in the μοναστήριον of Palladius (69–73). The names of monastic localities in and about Alexandria occur in Prat. 60, 105, 110, 111, 145, 146, 162, 177, 184, 195. There are recorded also visits to the Thebaid cities of Antinous and Lycus (44, 143, 161), to the laura of Raythu (115, 116, 119) on the Red Sea shore (120, 121), and to Mount Sinai (122, 123). Photius states that from Egypt Moschus went to Rome, touching at some islands en route, and at Rome composed his book. What drove him from Egypt appears in the Elogium. The holy places had fallen into the hands of the: enemy and the subjects of the empire were terror-stricken. This again assists the chronology; for as the Persians obtained possession of Jerusalem in 615 and in 616 advanced from Palestine and took Alexandria (Rawl. 503, 504), the rumour of their approach would cause the retirement of Moschus in one of those years. The Pratum (185) records a visit to Samos. The Elogium relates how on his deathbed at Rome he delivered his book to Sophronius, requesting to be buried if possible at Mount Sinai or at the laura of St. Theodosius. Sophronius and 12 fellow-disciples sailed with the body to Palestine, but, hearing at Ascalon that Sinai was beset by Arabs, took it up to Jerusalem (in the beginning of the eighth indiction, e.g. c. Sept. 1, 620) and buried it in the cemetery of St. Theodosius.
The work of Moschus consists of anecdotes and sayings collected in the various monasteries he visited, usually of eminent anchorets of his own time, as he states in his dedicatory address to Sophronius; but some whose stories were related belonged to an earlier period, e.g. John of Sapsas. The work is now distributed in 219 chapters, but was originally comprised, says Photius, in 304 narrations (διηγήματα). The discrepancy may be partly due to arrangement, as some chaps. (e.g. 5, 55, 92, 95, 105) contain 2 or even 3 distinct narrations, introduced by the very word διήγημα. Moschus (To Sophron.) compares the character of his worthies to various flowers in a spring meadow, and names his work accordingly Λειμών (Pratum). In the time of Photius some called it Νέον Παραδείσιον (Hortulus Novus), and it has since been named Viridarium, Νέοσ Παράδεισος (Novus Paradisus) and Λειμωναριον. The title Pratum Spirituale apparently originated with the first Latin translator, said by Possevinus to have been Ambrosias Camaldulensis (ob. 1439) who translated numerous works of the Greek Fathers (Oudin. iii. 2437). The Pratum in this version forms lib. x. of Rosweyd's Vitae Patrum (1615), which Migne reprinted in 1850 (Pat. Lat. lxxiv.), prefixing to the Pratum the Elogium Auctoris already described. In 1624 an incomplete Greek text made its appearance, accompanying the Latin, furnished by Fronto Ducaeus in vol. ii. of the Auctarium to the 4th ed. of La Bigne's Magna Bibliotheca Patrum. In La Bigne's ed. of 1654 it stands in vol. xiii. p. 1057. In 1681 Cotelier (Eccles. Gr. Mon. ii. 341) supplied more of the Greek and gave an independent Latin translation of some parts. In 1860 Migne (Pat. Gk. lxxxvii. 2814) reprinted the thus augmented Greek, leaving a gap of only three chaps. (121, 122, 132), retaining the Latin of Ambrosias throughout. Other bibliographical particulars, including an account of the Italian and French versions, will be found in Fabricius (Bibl. Gr. x. 124, ed. Harles). The authorship of the Pratum used sometimes to be attributed to Sophronius, in whose name it is cited by John of Damascus (de Imagin. orat. i. 328, ii. 344, iii. 352 in Patr. Gk. xciv. 1279, 1315, 1335) and likewise in actio iv. of the seventh synod in 787 (Mansi, xiii. 59). John Moschus and his book are treated by Cave (i. 581) and more fully by Ceillier (xi. 700). Dupin gives an analysis of the Pratum for illustrations of church discipline (Eng. trans. 1722, t. ii. p. 11).
Cf. S. Vailhé, St. Jean Mosch. in Echos d᾿orient, 1901.