May 23, 2015

Holy Prophet Manaen

St. Manaen the Prophet (Feast Day - May 23)

All that we know of Saint Manaen comes from Acts 13:1-3, which says:

Now in the Church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.

Based on the information in this passage:

1. Manaen, which is the Greek form of the Hebrew name "Menahem", means "consoler".

2. Manaen may have been related to the older Manaen, the Essene, who, Josephus tells us, foretold the greatness of Herod the Great, and was afterward treated by Herod as his friend (Ant., XV, x, 5).

3. He was the foster brother (Gk. syntrophos) of Herod Antipas, the one who beheaded St. John the Baptist. He was probably brought up and educated with this Herod and his brother Archelaus and half-brother Philip in Rome.

4. In A.D. 39, Antipas left for Rome to gain the favor of Caligula, but instead received an order of perpetual exile (Jos., Ant., XVIII, vii, 2). During this time, the Church of Antioch was founded by Jewish Christians, who "had been dispersed by the persecution that arose on the occasion of Stephen" and had taught the Gospel also to the Greeks of Antioch (Acts 11:19-24). It is quite likely that St. Manaen was one of these founders of the Antiochian Church.

5. He may have become a disciple of Jesus with "Joanna, the wife of Chusa, Herod's steward" (Luke 8:3).

6. Since St. Luke the Evangelist was an Antiochene, it is likely that Manaen, as one of "the prophets and teachers" of the Church of Antioch, was one of the "eyewitnesses and ministers of the word" (Luke 1:2) who delivered unto Luke the details which that sacred writer has in regard to Antipas and other members of the Herodian family (Luke 3:1, 19, 20; 8:3; 9:7-9; 13:31, 32; 23:8-12; Acts 12).

7. Tradition states that Manaen was among the prophets of the Church of Antioch, and he reposed in peace.