Caesarea was a major Christian Center. According to the Acts of the Apostles, Caesarea was first introduced to Christianity by Philip the Deacon; who later had a house there in which he gave hospitality to Paul the Apostle. It was there that Peter the Apostle came and baptized Cornelius the Centurion and his household; the first time Christian baptism was conferred on Gentiles. When newly converted Paul the Apostle was in danger in Jerusalem; the Christians there accompanied him to Caesarea and sent him off to his native Tarsus. He visited Caesarea between his second and third missionary journeys.
And later, as mentioned, stayed several days there with Philip the Deacon. Later still, he was a prisoner there for two years before being sent to Rome. So as you can read Caesarea As Christian Center was truly grand. In the 3rd century, Origen wrote his Hexapla and other exegetical and theological works while living in Caesarea. The Nicene Creed may have originated in Caesarea.
Caesarea As a Christian Center: Theological Library of Caesarea Maritima
Through Origen and especially the scholarly presbyter Pamphilus; an avid collector of books of Scripture; the theological school of Caesarea won a reputation for having the most extensive ecclesiastical library of the time, containing more than 30,000 manuscripts: Gregory Nazianzus, Basil the Great, Jerome and others came to study there. The Caesarean text type is recognized by scholars as one of the earliest New Testament types.
Saint Pamphilus devoted his life to searching out and obtaining ancient texts which he collected in the famous library that Jerome was later to use, and established a school for theological study. In the scriptorium, a necessary adjunct to all libraries of antiquity; he oversaw the production of accurate edited copies of Scripture. Testimonies to his zeal and care in this work are to be found in the colophons of biblical manuscripts. Jerome’s De Viris Illustribus says that Pamphilus “transcribed the greater part of the works of Origen of Alexandria with his own hand,” and that “these are still preserved in the library of Cæsarea.”
Caesarea As a Christian Center: Great Treasures of the Library at Caesarea
Among other priceless lost treasures in the library was the Gospel according to the Hebrews. Jerome knew of this copy of the so-called “Hebrew” or Aramaic text of the Gospel of Matthew and Eusebius refers to the catalog of the library that he appended to his life of Pamphilus. A passage from the lost life, quoted by Jerome, describes how Pamphilus supplied poor scholars with the necessaries of life and gave them copies of the Scriptures; of which he kept a large supply. He likewise bestowed copies on women devoted to studying. The great treasure of the library at Caesarea was Origen’s own copy of the “Hexapla,” probably the only complete copy ever made. It was consulted by Jerome. St Pamphilus was martyred in February, 309.
The collections of the library suffered during the persecutions under Emperor Diocletian but were repaired subsequently by bishops of Caesarea. Acacius of Caesarea and Euzoius, successors of Eusebius, concentrated on conservation.
It was noted in the 6th century, but the opinion is that it probably did not long survive the capture of Caesarea by the Saracens in 638; and this claim is repeated, without citation, in a modern reference: the “large library survived at Caesarea until destroyed by the Arabs in the 7th cent.” Click on the link if you’re interested in reading more about Archaeological Discoveries in Caesarea.