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5. The First Three Persecutions (§§18-44)

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5. The First Three Persecutions (§§18-44)



The First Persecution under Nero



Revelation 2:2 “I know thy works, and thy LABOR, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars …”

18. It was not long before the Gnostic heretics were able to accomplish their aims. The wicked Emperor Nero (AD 54-68) came to power in Rome and in AD 64 turned his attention on the humble disciples of Jesus36. They were accused of “malevolence against the human race”, and their religion was classed as “maleficent” i.e. black magic. This accusation had been thrown at Jesus Himself. His Jewish enemies claimed He was a demon-possessed occultist who cast out spirits by the power of Beelzebub. Jesus said His disciples would be accused of the same thing. In Nero’s Rome that is what happened. A great fire had recently swept through the city and the rumor began to circulate that it had been started by Nero himself. Nero deflected these suspicions by stirring up a pogrom against the new and alien “doomsday-cult” which had sprung up so suddenly in their midst. The Christians’ prophecies of the end of the world by fire and of the four world-empires — Rome being the last which was destined to be destroyed by God — provided evidence sufficient for a fanatical or prejudiced adversary that the Christians were plotting to destroy Rome. Similar accusations are used against Bible-believing Christianity to this day to justify State action against it. AND IT IS THE SAME PSEUDO-CHRISTIAN ROMAN CULT BEHIND THE ACCUSATIONS.


19. According to the Roman history, Nero’s persecution went through two phases. First, those Christians who ADMITTED the charge of “malevolence against the human race” were arrested, then on their evidence a VAST NUMBER of disciples — mostly Paul’s converts37 — were identified, arrested and punished with death in the most horrible fashion Nero could dream up. Many were set alight as human torches in Nero’s gardens on the Vatican Hill, as Nero mingled with his party guests dressed as a charioteer. Notice the two groups again. There were the Christians who ADMITTED they participated in occult practices (like the Gnostics). They were happy to INFORM on the others (who were innocent of the charge, like the disciples of Paul). There were differences amongst the Gnostics themselves with regard to the public practice of their, often gruesome, magic rites, which were classed here as malevolent. Some, including Simon Magus and Cerdon, practiced their occult mysteries in secret; others, including the followers of Carpocrates, indulged overtly in occultism38. The latter type were the ones who would be noticed by the ordinary citizens of Rome. In this instance in Nero’s time, the real Christians tried unsuccessfully to disassociate their religious practices from those of the Gnostics39. In fact, what mattered to Nero was not the actual occultism alleged against the Bible-believing Christians, but their unsocial behavior and their unwillingness to participate in the pagan Roman cult. This made them an excellent scapegoat for the unpopular Emperor. It also marked their religion as malevolent (capable of religiously-motivated arson) and by the same token absolved the Gnostic pseudo-Christians, because they happily participated in the pagan social and religious culture.

20. A contemporary witness, Clement40, later a pastor in the Roman Church, states that Nero’s persecution was the result of sectional strife within the Christian community of the same kind Clement’s church itself was suffering when he wrote this account some time before AD 70. The Bible-believing Christian writer Melito of Sardis confirms41 that it was a group of informers, sorcerers in fact42, who stirred up Nero’s persecution, as they did later in the reign of Domitian; and in the latter case we know that these were Gnostic heretics, belonging to seven heretical sects of which Simon’s group was the first, and that their antagonism towards the Bible-believers went back to an incident which occurred in Jerusalem in AD 62 during the reign of Nero43 and which also brought about the death of James the brother of the Lord, the leader of the Christians in Jerusalem. The agitation first evidenced in Jerusalem quickly spread to Rome, where the heretics had some credit with the imperial authorities. Nero was, in historical fact, a devotee of the Magian cult of Mithras, a member of the same religious circle as Simon Magus. Therefore, he would have had ulterior motives for supporting the Simonian Gnostics against the Bible-believing Catholics. The memory of Simon’s role in the persecution is preserved with legendary accretions in the apocryphal Acts of Peter and Paul: a dispute between Simon and the Apostles is held in the presence of Nero, and Simon attempts to rival the supernatural power of Peter and Paul; destroying himself in this attempt, Nero avenges him by executing the Apostles.

21. Many fine Christians perished in the Neronian holocaust. Paul was martyred at that time, according to the contemporary evidence of the Letter of Clement and other reliable witnesses. The tradition is that he was martyred just outside Rome by Nero, in fact, that he was decapitated — a “more humane” execution reserved for Roman citizens like Paul — and that his remains were eventually interred at Aquae Salviae, the modern Tre Fontane, near the Ostian Way about three miles from the city. Paul was certainly in Rome when he wrote his last extant letter. In that44, the Second Epistle to Timothy, Paul looked ahead to his next appearance before the court of Caesar with the knowledge that the time of his “departure” was at hand. Thinking of the welfare of the disciples in the East, Paul prepared Timothy take up his mantle as pastor of the Church in Ephesus on the coast of Turkey, and instructed him to hand on his commission, in turn, to faithful, capable ministers. He sent final greetings to Timothy from the brethren in Rome, among them one called Linus. This Linus also received a commission at some point to be the first bishop (“overseer”) of an assembly in Rome45.

22. There is no historical evidence that Peter was ever personally present in Rome46. The earliest nonpartisan traditions claim that he was martyred by Nero at the same time as Paul, but the location is not named in these traditions, and other evidence must be adduced. We know from the Acts of the Apostles and from his own epistles that Paul came to Rome; however, the same biblical records do not support the notion that Peter was ever personally present there. On the other hand, Peter’s evangelistic companion, John Mark, whose written Gospel was based on the reminiscences of Peter, was present in Rome towards the end of Paul’s confinement, and seems to have composed his Gospel in the capital. There were also memorials (tropaia) on the Vatican Hill and the Ostian Way to the “apostles who founded” the First Church of Rome at the turn of the third century AD; but this begs the question as to who these apostolic founders actually were (Andronicus and Junia would be the obvious choice on the evidence of Paul’s Letter to the Romans); and, even if we were to accept the Roman Catholic guess that the founders referred to in this instance were Peter and Paul, the mere existence of memorials would not prove that martyrdoms had occurred at these sites or that Peter as well as Paul had been personally present in the city.

23. It is, however, quite possible, indeed highly likely, that the remains of Peter were transferred to Rome long after his decease when the legend connecting him with the Roman Church assumed such abnormal ecclesiastical importance. There is a curious and otherwise hardly explicable tradition that the remains of Peter and Paul were immediately after their martyrdom in the possession of Greek-speaking easterners, or, in the case of Peter, of men from Jerusalem, and that later they were seized by the people of Rome and deposited in a place called Ad Catacumbas on the Appian Way two miles from the city (now the shrine called the Platonia at S. Sebastian); they remained there for forty years before being finally moved to the Vatican (Peter) and the Ostian Way (Paul). This tradition receives confirmation from an ecclesiastical calendrical notice dating from around AD 354 (the “Philocalian” Calendar) which commemorates the deposition of the remains of Peter at that very location Ad Catacumbas on the Appian Way in AD 258, and from a codex of the Hieronymian Martyrology which preserves the same notice in a fuller form, referring to the deposition of the remains of both Peter and Paul that same year in the same location47, as well as from a verse of Pope Damasus (AD 366-384) originally inscribed in the shrine there stating that the (Greek) “East” (oriens) sent Peter and Paul to “dwell” in that tomb — a fact “freely acknowledged” — though Rome, as Damasus saw it, was more deserving of the privilege of now defending these her sainted “citizens”48. Also, the San Sebastian shrine has numerous votive inscriptions to Peter and Paul dating from precisely the middle of the third century on.

24. According to the Book of Popes it was bishop Cornelius (AD 251-253) who arranged for the Apostle Peter’s remains to be taken away (but from where?)49 and relocated in Rome, with the involvement in the process of a rich Roman lady, Lucina. Lucina initially provided some land of her own on the Ostian Way for Paul’s remains near the site of his execution, and Peter’s were placed by Cornelius in the first instance, likewise, near the site of his martyrdom (for which see infra). According to the apocryphal Acts of Peter and Paul certain mysterious “men from Jerusalem” first brought Peter’s body to the Vatican and placed it there with the help of one Marcellus. Marcellus is the reputed author of the apocryphal Acts of Peter and Paul and is thought by some to be the later pope of that name (AD 306-309), who would have been in his prime in the second half of the third century. A delay seems to have occurred, however, in securing these locations as the final Roman resting-places — the Acts of Peter and Paul claim that an earthquake occurred just then in the city — and the easterners who had possession of the remains prepared and actually proceeded to transport them to the East. Referring to this notorious episode a few centuries later, Pope Gregory relates50 that the easterners called the Apostles “their citizens” and on that basis reclaimed them. As the easterners processed out of the city with their sacred relics, a thunderstorm held them up, and the Romans intervened, seizing the bodies and depositing them temporarily in the nearby cemetery Ad Catacumbas on the Appian Way, two miles out of Rome. It was found necessary to maintain a military guard at this tomb as long as one year and seven months after the deposition of the bodies; evidently there was a real possibility that the easterners would use violence to regain possession of them. Some time still within the episcopate of Cornelius (i.e. no later than AD 253), Lucina had the bishop take up the saints’ bodies from their temporary resting-place Ad Catacumbas by night, and Cornelius then placed them in a shrine of Apollo (!), on the Vatican Hill, where Apollo (who was commonly identified with Mithras) was worshiped by the pagans along with the Mother-goddess Cybele. Other bodies of the bishops of the First Church were already located in this pagan shrine. However, the Apostles’ remains were back at the site Ad Catacumbas in AD 258, according to the Calendrical notice, perhaps because this was the time of the persecution instigated by Emperor Valerian. There they remained, in the shrine known as the Platonia, for forty years. The remains were translated to their first intended, and now their final, Roman resting-places on the Vatican and the Ostian Way in AD 298 or thereabouts (i.e. AD 258 + 40), just before Marcellus became Pope. The shrine of Peter in the sanctuary of Apollo on the Vatican was subsequently converted into a Christian basilica (the first St. Peter’s) by Constantine in the time of Pope Silvester (AD 314-355), Constantine himself being a devotee of the syncretistic sun-god, Apollo, now identified with Jesus.

25. The vagueness and confusion of the traditions regarding the easterners who originally held the bodies seems to be covering up an illegal seizure of the Apostles’ remains by the Romans: hence also Pope Damasus’ anxiety as early as the second half of the fourth century AD to justify Rome’s claims to be their keeper and defender, whilst “freely acknowledging” the prior claims of the East. There would be no question of Rome’s rights if the remains had always and ever been in Rome.

26. Another hint that Peter suffered in the Greek-speaking East, and more specifically in the area of Judaea, is found in the apocryphal Acts of Peter. This work incorporates items of historical value amongst a worthless mass of legend, and names the representatives of the Roman authorities at the time of Peter’s decease as Albinus and Agrippa. There were no such magistrates in the reign of Nero at Rome where these Acts of Peter locate the martyrdom, but Albinus and Agrippa were the procurator and king respectively of Judaea51 at the very time when James the brother of the Lord and his companions were martyred by stoning (James himself finally by impaling through the head) on the instructions of the High Priest Ananus (AD 62) and at the instigation of the Gnostic heretical sects including the Simonians — an event which forms the background of the Neronian persecution in Rome. It is highly likely that Peter was one of these martyred companions of James52. The mysterious “men from Jerusalem” mentioned in the Acts of Peter and Paul who brought the Apostle’s body to the Vatican would then be connected with the original location of Peter’s tomb in Jerusalem, or at least in the “East”.

27. It is a commonplace of the advocates of the “Peter in Rome” theory that no other theory has any support from the sources. This bald assertion ignores the witness of the archaeology and traditions relating to the transference of Peter’s remains to Rome by easterners and men from Jerusalem, as well as the circumstantial evidence provided by the apocryphal Acts. But what evidence could be adduced in favor of the hypothesis suggested here stronger than contemporary evidence of one of Peter’s closest companions? In the haste to discover what later ecclesiastical writers have to say on the subject of Peter’s martyrdom, a little reference to that event in the New Testament itself has been overlooked. Much is made of the Apostle’s statement in the First Epistle of Peter (5. 13) that “The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you; and so doth Marcus my son,” and the question is debated at length whether “Babylon” here means literal Babylon on the Euphrates, or is an allusion to to the much smaller town called Babylon in Egypt, or is a mystical designation for Rome. Even if we were to take this to be a reference to Rome (though Babylon on the Euphrates is a likelier location for Peter’s ministry to the Jews, in view of its much greater Jewish population), the passage does not claim that Peter was actually present in Babylon. Peter merely passes on greetings from the Church (or “co-elect lady”) in Babylon, and from his spiritual son, Mark, who had, we may suppose, recently been present in that city, and forwards them to the Christian Jews of the dispersion in Asia to whom he addresses his epistle. Perhaps it has been the emphasis on this somewhat irrelevant discussion which has diverted the attention of scholars away from the passage in the Gospel of John which has a more direct bearing on the location of Peter’s martyrdom.

28. The passage reads as follows (Gospel of John 21. 15-19) “15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. 16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. 17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep. 18 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. 19 This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.”

29. This is the Apostle John’s testimony of what the Lord prophesied in relation to Peter’s martyrdom. It is prime, contemporary, and, more than that, inspired, evidence on the subject in hand. And this evidence REFERS TO THE LOCATION OF PETER’S MARTYRDOM: “… another shall gird thee [Peter], and carry thee WHITHER THOU WOULDEST NOT.” It does not seem to have occurred to commentators what an unusual assertion this is, if it is taken to refer to Peter’s FUTURE or PROPHESIED attitude to his martyrdom. Does the passage really mean that the lion-like Apostle Peter, after his infilling by the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, when he is known to have lost all fear of persecution and to have boldly preached the Word in public in the streets of Jerusalem, even in the face of the very Council that had so recently condemned his Master Jesus to a horrible death on the Cross, that this same Apostle was prophesied to face his martyrdom with fear and trembling, carried by another whither he would not want to be carried? Would he not rather, like his fellow Apostle, Paul, go to his execution, crying, “O Death, where is thy sting? O Grave, where is thy victory?” According to Clement of Alexandria (apud Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History III. xxx. 2) Peter watched as his own wife was dragged away to martyrdom and cried out to her to be brave and “remember the Lord” because she was “going home”. How does that square with the cowering Peter the common reading sees in this passage from John? And if the place whither he was to be carried refers to the other world, the assertion would be even more ridiculous, upon that interpretation. What saint would not WISH to go to the heavenly mansions with King Jesus? In any case, the internal structure of the sentence, the comparison and contrast of the location Peter is said to have liked to walk in as a young man, that is, clearly, a physical location, presumably on the shores of Galilee, with the undesirable location where it is prophesied he will meet his end, implies that the latter, too, is a physical location. These interpretations, therefore, are untenable.

30. When the Greek is examined, the conundrum is solved, and, with it, the debate as to where Peter suffered martyrdom. The second “wouldest” is not FUTURE tense, but PRESENT. “… Another will carry thee WHITHER THOU WOULDEST [NOW] NOT [GO]”53. The location of Peter’s martyrdom, according to this contemporary record of Jesus’ prophecy just after His resurrection, was to be somewhere Peter did not AT THAT TIME wish to go. Naturally, Rome, at that time, was not anywhere in his thoughts. In fact, there is no record that the disciples frequented any place outside of the limited territory of Israel and parts of Syria before, during and immediately subsequent to the earthly ministry of Jesus. Within that small circle of land in the Near East, there was only one place Peter and the other disciples felt fear at that period, before their empowerment on the Day of Pentecost, and THAT WAS JERUSALEM. The same Gospel writer specifically notes that, just a few days before this episode, IN JERUSALEM, the disciples had huddled together in a room with the doors locked, out of fear of the Jews who had crucified Jesus (20. 19). A second reference is made to the locked doors a little further on in the same account (20. 26). In that context, the passage is as clear a statement as one could wish, that Peter was martyred in Jerusalem.

30a. Now consider the phrase “another shall GIRD thee [Peter]”. The martyrdom of James in Jerusalem in AD 62 was accomplished by means of a FULLER’s stake driven into his head. And Peter perished at the same time, seemingly on the same occasion, and by identical means, with a stake — presumably the same stake — (according to a tradition first recorded by Eusebius) driven into his head. A fuller was a dresser of cloth and used the stake to pound his material. Was not Jesus’ reference to Peter’s GIRDING by ANOTHER a prophetic adumbration, not only of the fact that he was to be tied up in preparation for his murder, but also of the fact that a fuller, precisely a GIRDER OF OTHERS, was to be involved in his martyrdom?

30b. Did this great event in Jerusalem leave any archaeological trace? It seems so. The following passage is found in the writings of the sectarian lawyer, Tertullian (Scorpiace, xv. 1-3): “And yet, that the apostles endured such sufferings, we know: the teaching is clear. This only I perceive in running through the Acts. I am not at all on the search. The prisons there, and the bonds, and the scourges, and the big stones, and the swords, and the onsets by the Jews, and the assemblies of the heathen, and the indictments by tribunes, and the hearing of causes by kings, and the judgment-seats of proconsuls and the name of Caesar, do not need an interpreter. That Peter is struck, that Stephen is overwhelmed by stones, that James is slain as is a victim at the altar, that Paul is beheaded has been written in their own blood. And if a heretic wishes his confidence to rest upon a public record, the archives of the empire will speak, as, for instance, the stones of Jerusalem. We read the lives of the Caesars: At Rome Nero was the first who stained with blood the rising faith. Then is Peter girt by another, when he is fixed immobile to the stake. Then does Paul obtain a birth suited to Roman citizenship, when in Rome he springs to life again ennobled by martyrdom.”

30c. This is another early witness that Peter suffered under Nero. Note, however, that Tertullian does not specify, as he does in Paul’s case, that Peter was martyred in Rome. He merely says, “THEN [“tunc,” viz. in the reign of Nero] is Peter girt by another …” This confirms the tradition that Peter and Paul were martyred at the same time. The mode of Peter’s death is also confirmed, viz. crucifixion or impaling. The word “caeditur” (translated “is struck” above) used of Peter has a general and a more specific meaning. The general meaning is “he is slain”, but the more specific and proper meaning is “he is felled, cudgelled.” This is a word used somewhat more appropriately to describe Peter’s impalement by a stake than crucifixion by suspension on a stake, whilst the other word used by Tertullian, “adstringitur,” is ambiguous (fixed or bound to). Tertullian further claims that these facts were recorded in the “archives of the empire … as, for instance, the stones of Jerusalem,” or “the Lives of the Caesars.” Such public records would seem to the most likely source of the historical names Agrippa and Albinus which are found in the apocryphal Acts as the names of the Roman authorities under whom Peter suffered, though in the Apocrypha they have been plucked out of their proper, historical, context, viz. Judaea in AD 62. The mention of these “imperial archives” (“instrumenta imperii”), and “stones of Jerusalem” (“lapides Hierusalem”), is, in fact, immediately followed by references to the martyrdoms of Paul and Peter in the reign of Nero, it being implied that these events can be thus confirmed. There would be no reason at all for Paul’s martyrdom, traditionally, credibly, and by Tertullian himself, located in Rome, to be commemorated on a stone inscription in or from Jerusalem, but there would for Peter’s, if, indeed, he was martyred, as suggested here, along with James the brother of the Lord in Jerusalem in AD 62. It is possible, furthermore, that such a stone inscription, describing, or even depicting, Peter’s martyrdom, was transferred later to the Vatican, and there provided public evidence of the mode of Peter’s death and of the officials who presided over it.





The Second Persecution under Domitian



Revelation 2:2-3: “I know … thou … hast BORNE, and hast patience …”

31. When Paul was no longer with them, the faithful few who had survived Nero’s slaughter continued to serve the Lord in the capital, supported and comforted by their devoted pastors. Even the pagans sympathized with the Christians. They admired their heroic stand for their beliefs and were well aware that they had been victims of the insanity of the Emperor. On the death of Nero, the persecution ceased. The horrific tortures inflicted on the Christians and the mockery added to their deaths show that they were of the lower classes and not Roman citizens54. It is noticeable that when the Church began to recover, it is found centered around the household of Pudens who is thought to be the senator of that name, and who must therefore have survived the slaughter. The original Roman assembly had Linus as overseer (bishop) of the charitable and missionary distributions. He was followed by Anencletus, Anencletus by Clement (though seemingly he failed to take up his position at that time), Clement by Evaristus, Evaristus by Alexander, and Alexander by Sixtus, otherwise spelled Xystus. Sixtus was overseer at the time of the Neronian slaughter. The reason the names of the overseers survived is because they were appointed successively by vote of the members and were thus able to be traced back over the years, it may be presumed through the questioning of older disciples who took part in the process. This investigative work was done by the Messianic Jewish believer Hegesippus in the mid-second century AD, as we shall see. Several presiding elders55 are mentioned, but not named, as leaders of the Christians in Rome at the time. These latter were the spiritual pastors of the assembly according to the fivefold pattern of Ephesians 4.

32. As the political climate improved, the Christian churches flourished, and a measure of laxity, along with the prosperity, crept in. The old restraints became irksome to the younger generation. Some wanted to compromise with the secular world, being unable to endure any longer the reproach of the Cross. Around the Christians was always that pressure to conform, not to be different and peculiar, to condone, at least not condemn, their neighbors’ pleasure-loving lifestyle and heathen entertainments. That was especially true for the few upper-class Romans who became attracted to the Gospel. There were, too, in many cities at the turn of the second century of the Christian era varieties of the Christian religion which tolerated laxity of this kind: the Gnostic sects felt no compunction in combining Christianity with paganism and the mixed religion which resulted was more pagan than Christian. Satan had not won the war: now he fought hard to win the peace.

33. While the Apostle John was still alive (up to about AD 110) there was little chance that the Gnostics could induce the mass of Christian believers to accept their perverted gospel. The Holy Spirit worked powerfully through John and his disciples, exposing error, restoring the backslidden and confirming the Word with signs following. The true Christians did not fellowship56 with the hardened heretics57. It was difficult enough for them to maintain a faithful Christian witness in a generally hostile pagan environment, without having their message confused by association with the semi-paganism of the Gnostics. However, as the age went on, and Christ’s return was delayed, many began to lower their guard. Young leaders arose who were less keenly aware of the dangers of compromise.

34. Around the time that Clement was pastor of that congregation in Rome, a young prophet in the assembly called Hermas, a slave of a wealthy woman of Rome, began to experience visions from God. He was warned of a Beast58, representing tribulation, on its way to the Christians of Rome. This tribulation would purge the faithful. They, like Hermas himself, were beginning to drift on the way of worldly comfort and slack morality59. He was specifically instructed to give this message to Clement, and Clement was commissioned to pass the message on to churches abroad60. The pastors and elders61 in Rome, as well as the laity, were challenged to repent by the prophet. The result of the pastors’ backsliding was division in the Christian Body, of a kind which could threaten their lives in the coming tribulation. Ravenous beasts always target the stragglers in the herd.

35. The same life-threatening danger, unbeknown to them, hung over the Christians of Corinth in Southern Greece. A particularly bitter schism had arisen in the Corinthian Church62. One or two headstrong young leaders turned their faction against the established eldership of the Church. The dispute was over inessentials and sprang from personality conflicts and rivalries between the younger and the older generations. The young troublemakers were dissatisfied with the overseers (bishops) appointed to administer the welfare of their Church. (I Clement 42, 44.) Clement’s diagnosis was that like Israel of old the Christians of Corinth had become too affluent. (I Clement 3. 1.) It was similar to the case in the Acts of the Apostles (6. 1) where Matthias’ bishopric led, through no fault of his own, to a murmuring of one party against the other over the widows’ distribution. Disputes like this easily flared up into wildfires of contention. Clement pointed out that the Lord Jesus Himself had predicted there would be strife over the office of the overseer (I Clement 44. 1) a reference no doubt to the Scripture in the Psalms (Ps. 69. 25) quoted in the Acts of the Apostles (1. 20) which foretold Judas would fail in his appointed position as overseer (Hebrew pequdah, Gk. episkope), that is, through the love of money and thievery, and “another would take his office”. This was the kind of trouble in the churches abroad that Hermas had been warned about and which Pastor Clement had been commissioned to address.

36. The worrying vision of the prophet Hermas was soon fulfilled. A second Nero emerged as Emperor of Rome in the person of Domitian (AD 81-96). His paranoid obsession with plots against his throne laid him open to the malevolence of informers. A group of heretics approached the Emperor and laid accusation against the Jewish descendants of Jude63, the foster-brother of Jesus and author64 of the Epistle of Jude in the Bible. These Christian members of the House of David were the spiritual leaders of the Messianic Jews. The Church in Jerusalem had until shortly before the destruction of the city in AD 70 been headed up by Jude’s brother James (the author of the Epistle of James), and these “brethren of the Lord” were well known in the New Testament Church, being mentioned by the Gospel-writers, by Luke in the Acts of the Apostles and by Paul65. They were honored by all Jews as members of the royal house of Judah and by Christians as members of the family of Jesus. After James, the Lord’s brother, was martyred by fanatical Jews in Jerusalem, a new Christian leader was elected, Symeon son of Clopas, also a member of Jesus’ natural family, as head of the Messianic community in Jerusalem. However, this choice was resented by the Gnostic heretics, divided at that time into seven heretical sects, of which the school of Simon Magus was the first. It was members of these same sects who had brought about James’ death in the first place66, by demanding a public declaration from James about the Messiahship of Jesus which they must have known would bring him into conflict with the Jewish authorities. After the crushing of the Jewish revolt against Rome and with James out of the way, one of the Gnostic leaders, Thebuthis, made a play for the leadership of the Christian community in Jerusalem. However, throngs of Bible-believers and all the surviving apostles and members of Jesus’ natural family who were able to gathered to Jerusalem67 to ward off the danger. Symeon, son of Clopas, was elected, and from this rivalry and jealousy in Jerusalem developed a bitter antagonism on the part of the Gnostic heretics to the Messianic Jews68. Through their contacts with the Gnostic groups in Rome and the contacts of the latter with the Roman authorities, the heretics hoped to accomplish by force what they were unable to accomplish by persuasion. Already the Gnostic-Jewish divide had fueled the madness of Nero to bring about the martyrdom of thousands of ordinary believers in Rome, now under Domitian the Gnostics closed in on the Jewish leadership.

37. In attacking the grandchildren of Jude, the anti-Semitic heretics were striking at the root of Jewish Christianity in Rome and throughout the Empire. The heretics alleged that these Messianic Jews were plotting to set up a political, this-worldly kingdom which would sweep away the Roman Empire. No charge was more calculated to enrage the Emperor. The unsuccessful Jewish revolt against Rome in the earlier reign of Vespasian, which resulted in the utter destruction of Jerusalem and of the Temple (AD 70), had not cooled the ardor of the Jewish nationalists and Messianic expectations were still high. The threat of a Messianic plot against the Empire was a real one. Domitian acted swiftly to round up any surviving members of the House of David. Clearly the connection of these Messianic Jews with the Gnostics’ great adversary, the Apostle John, had also been pointed out to Domitian, because the Apostle was arrested far away in Turkey and banished to the island of Patmos in the Aegean Sea. It must be remembered that Mary the mother of Jesus is said to have lived for some time at Ephesus under the care of the Apostle John. Here was the very mother of the Messiah of the House of David! According to a tradition current in the second century AD and recorded by the sectarian lawyer Tertullian, John was first thrown into boiling oil 69 by his persecutors, but remained unharmed by the experience. Only after this demonstration of miraculous preservation was he banished to the island of Patmos. (“If I will that he [John] tarry till I come,” said Jesus to Peter, “what is that to thee?”70 John himself informs us that he was exiled “for the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ”71, i.e. for the already-existing revealed Word, contained in what we call the Old Testament (Word of God), and the testimony of Jesus contained in what we now call the New Testament. This is that combination of the revelation of God to the Jews and the new revelation of Jesus which the Gnostics hated. Hence also their hatred of John. There in his exile, towards the end of the reign of Domitian, John was vouchsafed his mighty Revelation of the end-time. A greater Beast than Domitian was unveiled in this vision, the very Antichrist, whose reign truly would terminate world-systems and usher in the Messianic millennium-kingdom. However, as soon as Domitian had personally interviewed two grandsons of Jude he realized he had been misled by his Gnostic informers. He saw for himself the callouses on the hands of these faithful members of the House of David who worked their own lands to support their Gospel work. The Kingdom they were fervently expecting he discovered was a spiritual Kingdom, to be established supernaturally on earth at the Second Advent of the Messiah. He issued a decree terminating the persecution.

38. A limited number of upper-class Romans — whom, in any case, the jealous Domitian wanted to humble for personal reasons — suffered in this persecution. The chief were the members of the households of the Glabriones and of the consul Flavius Clemens, Domitian’s own close relative. Amongst the latter was Flavius Clemens’ niece, Domitilla. (The pastor Clement or Clemens is


The House-Church of Pudens on the Vicus Patricius (indicated) Reconstruction by André Caron at maquettes-historiques.net

The fellowship which met in this house-church (ecclesia domestica) was founded in the Subura, a district in the city of Rome, in the first century AD by the family of Priscilla. Priscilla was a rich Roman patroness, who used her wealth to give aid and support to the early Christians of Rome. She was the mother of Rufus Pudens. The house illustrated here, situated on the street known as the Vicus Patricius in the Subura, passed into the hands of the family of Rufus Pudens in the early second century AD. It was used to host their Christian gatherings. It was chronologically the third such location within the city boundaries, being preceded by the “First Church” (so termed in ancient writings) in a house one third of a mile away from this residence on the Vicus Lateranus (to the immediate left in Caron’s reconstruction), as well as by the house-church of Aquila and Priscilla on the Aventine near the Circus Maximus (on the far side of the Colosseum, out of view in the section of Caron’s reconstruction illustrated here). Click here to see a JPG map of ancient Rome with the location of the three house-churches.



associated in later legend with this family and may well have been a freed slave of the household of Flavius Clemens. There were several devoted Christians amongst his domestics.) The charge against them was atheism, i.e. refusal to worship the Roman idols. Submission to the images of the imperial gods and, particularly, to the “divine” Emperor’s statue signified subjection to the authority of Rome. “Atheism” was therefore tantamount to treason, and was punished as a capital offense. The members of the household of Flavius Clemens were interred in a special group of tombs off the Via Ardeatina. There were laid to rest Achilleus and Nereus, Domitilla’s faithful Christian servants, in crypts built on the family’s land half a mile from Rome. A column dug up from the church later built on the site shows Ac[h]illeus, so named, tied to a stake surmounted by a crossbeam, assaulted by a soldier, dressed in a tunic and mantle, who seizes the prisoner with the right hand and raises a cutlass in his left to stab him in the neck. There also lay Petronilla, the martyred relative of Domitilla.

39. Though some, no doubt, like these precious saints and Domitilla herself, were strong believers in the Nazarene, others were punished on the merest suspicion of complicity with the Messianic Jews. One of the noblest of all Romans, the ex-consul Manius Acilius Glabrio, was forced to fight a lion and two bears in the arena adjoining Domitian’s villa near Albanum. He won! His humility after this glorious conflict — the sensation of Rome for many years thereafter — earned him only the opprobrious epithet of stupidity in the sycophantic circle around Domitian. The Emperor executed him regardless. He was buried in the Catacombs of Priscilla on the Via Salaria. These Catacombs were the property of the Acilian family, to which Acilius Glabrio belonged, and in which the name Prisca and Priscilla were common. Paul’s companions Aquila and Prisca themselves were interred there, and it is thought for that reason that Prisca was a probably a daughter of a freedman of that noble family and Aquila a freedman or client of theirs, as such dependents were commonly named after their noble benefactors. (The family name Acilii was derived from the Latin Aquila, “Eagle”.) In fact, there was a tradition in the Roman Church that these Catacombs of Priscilla were founded by and named after a certain Roman lady Priscilla (presumably of the Acilian family) who had considerable property, but was a faithful Christian and ministered out of her wealth to the saints. She was also, according to this tradition, the mother of Pudens whose house was converted into the church on the Vicus Patricius (Santa Pudenziana). And if, as seems probable, the Rufus who is mentioned in the last Chapter of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, is indeed this Pudens (Rufus Pudens), then we can see why Paul greeted Pudens’ mother, Priscilla, as “his mother and mine”. The noble Priscilla was the grand old lady of the Roman Church, the spiritual mother and guardian of the poorer brethren’s welfare72.

40. These sudden troubles took the Roman Christians by surprise. They had not taken sufficient heed to the warning of the prophet Hermas. Pastor Clement — whose own household was one of Domitian’s chief targets — was suffering the consequences he had warned the Corinthians of before AD 70. He had said then that the schism in Corinth would be noticed by a group unconnected with his fellowship, of a different faith from themselves, and that they were in danger as a result73. Hermas foresaw the same thing74. It is obvious where the danger lay. Since Clement blamed schismatic jealousies of the kind the Corinthians were experiencing both for the Neronian martyrdoms and for the persecution the Roman Church was enduring at the time he wrote75, he must have been referring here to the Gnostic heretics of Rome as the parties interested in the division in the Corinthian Church. They might be expected to flatter and seduce the younger party in its conflict against the faithful eldership, in the same way that they promoted conflict in the Church at Jerusalem. Any division in the Body was exploitable by the heretics. This reference in Clement’s letter also hints that the Gnostic agitation, in Jerusalem as in Corinth, was orchestrated from Rome.







The Third Persecution under Trajan



Revelation 2:2-3: “I know … thou … for My Name’s sake hast LABORED, and hast not fainted.”

41. The heretics did not abandon their aim to enlist the imperial authorities against the Jewish leaders of the Bible-believing Christians. After the death of Domitian and the short reign of Nerva, the Empire fell into the capable hands of Trajan (AD 98-117). Under normal conditions it would have been difficult for the Gnostic cult-leaders to persuade this strong and sensible man to persecute Christians, peaceable and productive members of society as, in the majority, they were. However, the threat of Jewish nationalism once again tipped the balance against the Christian Jews of the House of David, and therefore against the churches throughout the world, especially the eastern churches, which looked up to them for spiritual guidance. As the Messianic redemption lingered, those Jews who trusted to the sword rather than the Spirit of God, became more desperate for a political solution to reverse the disastrous consequences of their earlier revolt against Rome. Riots by Jewish nationalists in Africa and the East plagued the reign of Trajan (especially AD 115-117). With the threat of Messianic agitation hanging over him, Trajan was more open than he otherwise would have been to the Gnostics’ siren song.

42. The apostates informed Trajan against Symeon son of Clopas76, the second bishop of Jerusalem following James, the foster-brother of Jesus. Under Trajan, the heretic informers got more than they bargained for because they were also put under arrest: it was a common practice of the Romans to subject detainees to torture to ensure they told the truth! Symeon’s father, called Clopas, Cleopas or Cleophas, was of the House of David also, a brother of Joseph, the foster-father of Jesus. Clopas’ wife, Mary, was standing present by the cross of Jesus77, when He pointed to the young Apostle John and to His own blessed mother, Mary, and said, “Woman, behold thy son!” and to John, “Behold thy mother!” (For that reason Mary lived thenceforth in the house of the Apostle John and is said to have lived with him78, after the Jewish revolt, in Ephesus in Turkey.) On the day of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, the same Clopas was walking with a friend to Emmaus79 near Jerusalem and the risen Lord drew near, unrecognized at first even by his natural uncle because he was “in another form”, and explained to them from His own precious lips the prophecies of the Old Testament which showed that the Messiah should suffer death and be raised again from the dead. Clopas’ son Symeon was an outstanding witness to the truth of the Gospel and had the prestige, spiritual and natural, that went with membership of the royal foster-family of Jesus. The Gnostic heretics hated everything he and his kind represented. Their poisoned accusations against him led to his torture and death by crucifixion at the venerable age of 120 years. Even the Roman executioners were astounded at his courage and endurance.

43. Trajan set on course a witch-hunt for the surviving members of the Jewish royal house. To ensure the eradication was complete, Christians under the leadership of these brethren of the Lord were rounded up throughout the East and forced to sacrifice to the imperial gods. Failure to comply was taken as a sign of rebellion against the Emperor. The slaughter spread into Turkey, where a new center of Jewish Christianity had sprung up since the revolt. The cultured Roman governor, Pliny (Plinius Secundus), became concerned 80 at the huge number of victims and the malicious slander which in too many cases sealed their conviction. He wrote (c. AD 112) to Trajan expressing his reservations. Trajan replied81 that these, the ordinary run of Christians, should not be hunted out, but, if they came to public notice, they should be punished if they refused to worship the imperial gods.

44. In Antioch in Syria, another and earlier great center of Jewish Christianity, one of the old disciples of the Apostle John, the venerated leader of the eastern Church, Ignatius, was brought to Rome in chains (c. AD 110) to be fed to the lions in the arena. His call to his Christian brethren in the cities along his tortured path to Rome echoed what was widely felt to be the need of the hour, “Stay faithful to your pastor!”, “Listen to your bishop!”, “Beware of the heretics and let your spiritual shepherd protect you from the wolves!” For the background and the reasoning behind Ignatius’ emphasis on bishops, and the anti-Scriptural exaltation of their role, see footnote 9a, above, >>. Ignoring the role of the pastors or elders of the fivefold ministry of Ephesians 4, whose ministry was to the body of Christ universally (though Ignatius himself was operating as such when he addressed these letters to the churches), Ignatius focused on the bishop or overseer of each local flock. That was because the bishop was elected by the members, and therefore Ignatius and like-minded believers in the fellowships he wrote to could have some say in the doctrinal qualifications of the candidate, ensuring he was not tainted by heresy. But this gave an emphasis on the bishop’s teaching role which contradicted the pattern in the New Testament. There the bishop’s main role was a clerical one, one of distribution to the mission work and to the poor. Yes the bishop must be “apt to teach”, as Paul put it, I Timothy 3. 2, and therefore was an elder himself before he was elected bishop, but that was because he came into contact with needy ones in the distribution work every day whom he must be able to point to Christ as their ultimate benefactor. His clerical role explains the means by which he was chosen to occupy his position, that is, by popular vote. It would have been blasphemous, according to the New Testament doctrine, to imagine that the ministers of Christ to the body universal could be chosen by man. Theirs was a spiritual calling not a clerical one. They were anointed by the Holy Ghost and chosen by God alone to fulfill their function. Distribution, on the other hand, the work of the bishop, was a carnal matter (though it needed a spiritual mind to rightly direct it), and therefore was a business to which one was elected. The level to which Ignatius emphasized the bishop’s position is demonstrated by such assertions in his letters as: (Magnesians 6, my emphasis) “Be zealous to do all things in harmony with God, with the bishop presiding in the place of God, and the elders in the place of the Council of the Apostles, and the deacons entrusted with the service of Jesus Christ … (ibid. 7) “As the Lord was united to the Father and did nothing without Him, neither by Himself nor through the Apostles, so do you do nothing without the bishop and the elders.” (Similarly ibid., 13, Trallians 2, and 3. 1, Philadelphians 7, Smyrnaeans 8, 9, To Polycarp 4, 6: (Trallians 3. 1) “Let all respect the deacons as Jesus Christ, even as the bishop is also a type of the Father, and the elders as the council of God and the college of Apostles. Without these the name of ‘church’ is not given.” Smyrnaeans 8. 1-2: “Let that be considered a valid Thanksgiving which is celebrated by the bishop, or by one whom he appoints. Wherever the bishop appears, let the congregation be present; just as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. It is not lawful either to baptize or to hold an agape [love-feast, including the communion meal] without the bishop; but whatever he approve, this is also pleasing to God…” [ibid. 9. 1; “He who does anything without the knowledge of the bishop is serving the Devil”.) Here an already approved elder, having been given a presiding role as bishop (in distribution), is taken to preside over other (non-presiding) elders, as well as over the deacons (in distribution). The bishop is typed as God the Father, the deacons as Christ the Servant, doing only what the Father (bishop) tells Him, and the non-presiding elders as the college of the Apostles. Even the noted Polycarp of Smyrna, the disciple of John the Apostle, as shown in Ignatius’ letter to him (4. 1), had been entangled in this organizational system. Disciples now began to look to their pastors rather than to the Word of God and the Spirit to keep them from error. There were precipices on each side of the highway. On one side was the abyss of Gnosticism, on the other the pit of dependence on the bishop as a man. Avoiding one, many fell into the other. Ignatius’ advice would have been fine if all elders were as devoted and holy as he. But the schism in Corinth and Hermas’ rebuke of the Roman elders prove that a new generation was rising82 which was not as dependable as that which had heard the Word from the lips of the Apostles of Jesus.



____________________

Footnotes 36-82


36. Publius Cornelius Tacitus, Annals, Book XV. 44: “But all human efforts, all the lavish gifts of the Emperor [Nero], and the propitiations of the gods, did not banish the sinister belief that the conflagration was the result of an order. Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their center and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty [first group]; then, upon their information, an immense multitude [second group] was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind [= malevolent occult practices]. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired. Nero offered his Gardens for the spectacle, and was exhibiting a show in the Circus, while he mingled with the people in the dress of a charioteer or stood aloft on a car. Hence, even for criminals who deserved extreme and exemplary punishment, there arose a feeling of compassion; for it was not, as it seemed, for the public good, but to glut one man’s cruelty, that they were being destroyed.” Suetonius, Life of Nero, xvi. 2: “… afflicti Christiani, genus hominum superstitionis novae et maleficae”, “… the Christians were afflicted [by Nero], a social group with a novel and maleficent belief-system.”


37. This is the “great multitude” martyred under Nero, I Clement, 6 (see Appendix 6, Secondary Quotations 1) and Tacitus, Annals, XV. 44 (footnote 36).


38. Eusebius, Hist. Ecc. IV. vii. 1-2, 9-11: “1 As the churches throughout the world were now shining like the most brilliant stars, and faith in our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ was flourishing among the whole human race, the demon who hates everything that is good, and is always hostile to the truth, and most bitterly opposed to the salvation of man, turned all his arts against the Church. In the beginning he armed himself against it with external persecutions. 2 But now, being shut off from the use of such means, he devised all sorts of plans, and employed other methods in his conflict with the Church, using base and deceitful men as instruments for the ruin of souls and as ministers of destruction. Instigated by him, impostors and deceivers, assuming the name of our religion, brought to the depth of ruin such of the believers as they could win over, and at the same time, by means of the deeds which they practiced, turned away from the path which leads to the word of salvation those who were ignorant of the faith …. 9. Irenaeus also writes that Carpocrates was a contemporary of these men, and that he was the father of another heresy, called the heresy of the Gnostics, who did not wish to transmit any longer the magic arts of Simon, as that one had done, in secret, but openly. For they boasted — as of something great — of love potions that were carefully prepared by them, and of certain demons that sent them dreams and lent them their protection, and of other similar agencies; and in accordance with these things they taught that it was necessary for those who wished to enter fully into their mysteries, or rather into their abominations, to practice all the worst kinds of wickedness, on the ground that they could escape the cosmic powers, as they called them, in no other way than by discharging their obligations to them all by infamous conduct. 10 Thus it came to pass that the malignant demon, making use of these ministers, on the one hand enslaved those that were so pitiably led astray by them to their own destruction, while on the other hand he furnished to the unbelieving heathen abundant opportunities for slandering the divine word, inasmuch as the reputation of these men brought infamy upon the whole race of Christians. 11 In this way, therefore, it came to pass that there was spread abroad in regard to us among the unbelievers of that age, the infamous and most absurd suspicion that we practiced unlawful commerce with mothers and sisters, and enjoyed impious feasts.” Note Carpocrates is here called by Irenaeus (a reliable witness) the “father” of the heresy of the Gnostics, so called. Carpocrates is dateable to the earlier Apostolic era, as is demonstrated by the fact that, according to Ps.-Tertullian, Against All Heresies 3, he was the precursor of Cerinthus, whilst Cerinthus was a contemporary of John the Apostle in Ephesus some time after the Jewish revolt (between c. AD 70-110). On Carpocrates and Cerinthus ps.-Tertullian: “Carpocrates, furthermore, introduced the following sect. He affirms that there is one Virtue, the chief among the upper (regions): that out of this were produced angels and Virtues, which, being far distant from the upper Virtues, created this world in the lower regions: that Christ was not born of the Virgin Mary, but was generated — a mere human being — of the seed of Joseph, superior (they admit) above all others in the practice of righteousness and in integrity of life; that He suffered among the Jews; and that His soul alone was received in heaven as having been more firm and hardy than all others: whence he would infer, retaining only the salvation of souls, that there are no resurrections of the body. After him brake out the heretic Cerinthus, teaching similarly. For he, too, says that the world was originated by those angels; and sets forth Christ as born of the seed of Joseph, contending that He was merely human, without divinity; affirming also that the Law was given by angels; representing the God of the Jews as not the Lord, but an angel.” “III. [1] Carpocrates praeterea hanc tulit sectam: Unam esse dicit virtutem in superioribus principalem, ex hac prolatos angelos atque virtutes, quos distantes longe a superioribus virtutibus mundum istum in inferioribus partibus condidisse; Christum non ex virgine Maria natum, sed ex semine Ioseph hominem tantummodo genitum, sane prae ceteris iustitiae cultu, vitae integritate meliorem; hunc apud Iudaeos passum, solam animam ipsius in caelo receptam, eo quod et firmior et robustior ceteris fuerit; ex quo colligeret, retentata animarum sola salute, nullas corporis resurrectiones. [2] Post hunc Cerinthus haereticus erupit, similia docens. Nam et ipse mundum institutum esse ab illis dicit; Christum ex semine Ioseph natum proponit, hominem illum tantummodo sine diuinitate contendens, ipsam quoque legem ab angelis datam perhibens, Iudaeorum deum non dominum, sed angelum promens.” See para. 45a, below, >>, and footnote 85, below, >>. Since Carpocrates is called by Irenaeus the originator of the Gnostic heresy, under that name, and operated in Asia (Epiphanius, Panarion, Bk. I Tom. ii, Anakephalaiosis vii) and since his follower Cerinthus operated in Ephesus, it is likely Carpocrates and/or his immediate circle were the very heretics denounced by Paul, when writing to Timothy in Ephesus (I Timothy, this letter fitting chronologically into the scheme of Acts at ch. 20. 1, 3, cf. I Tim. 1. 3), who are said to have been advocates of the Gnosis (theological science) falsely so called (I Tim. 6. 20). These heretics are likely to have sprung from the throngs of occultists in Ephesus (Acts 19. 19) who had recently been converted (or half-converted) through the ministry of Paul. Paul warned that predatory cultists would attack the Christians of the area around Ephesus after his departure and that even some of the elders of that region would fall away from the faith (Acts 20. 29f.). Cerinthus and his ilk were Judaizing heretics, and the name Gnostic seems originally to have been derived from Jewish Sabazius syncretists in Asia. Any or all the related heresies which spread amongst the early Christian community, originating from cults connected with these Jewish Sabazius syncretists, seem later to have been designated “Gnostic” by the disciples of John, presumably because that was the form of the heresy best known to them in Ephesus. Simon Magus himself seems to have been acquainted with, and to have absorbed tenets from, the Sabazius cult (ibid.), and chronologically he preceded Paul’s mission in Ephesus and the presumed date of Carpocrates’ adhesion to Christianity. Hence the idea that Simon was the founding father of Gnosticism, even though in the earliest period, the name only properly belonged to the Carpocratians. Note that the Carpocratians differed from Simon in their open practice of occult rites. This is understandable given their different points or origin — the Carpocratians in Graeco-Roman Ephesus, a great Gentile emporium, where Jews were present but had no say in the running of the city, and Simon in Samaria and Judaea, where the all-pervasive atmosphere of Jewish orthodoxy will have made occultists more circumspect. That faithful Jewish Christians could be confused with Sabazius cultists is suggested by the incident described in Acts (16. 16) where, in Philippi in Macedonia, on Paul’s first missionary excursion into Europe, a girl possessed with a serpentine spirit of divination proclaimed Paul as a preacher of the God Hupsistos, “Most High”, this title of the divinity being favored in Jewish syncretistic circles in Asia. The Serpent was the particular emblem of the Jewish syncretistic god, Sabazius. At the time, Paul was attended by a woman called Lydia, who came from the city of Thyatira in Asia. This city was the site of an oracle of Sambethe, the legendary prophetess of the Sabazius cultists. Lydia is likely, therefore, to have been acquainted with Jewish Sabazius syncretism and may even have been originally a devotee of the Sabazius cult. Hence, perhaps, the special interest of the female soothsayer in Paul’s dealings with Lydia. (On the various assertions here regarding the Sabazius cult, see further footnote 113, below, >>.)


39. Hippolytus, Refutation, VII. 20: “But (they [the Carpocratians] also contend) that some enjoy an excellence above the disciples of that (Redeemer), for instance Peter and Paul, and the rest of the Apostles, and that these are in no respect inferior to Jesus. And (Carpocrates asserts) that the souls of these have originated from that supernal power, and that consequently they, as equally despising the world-making (angels), have been deemed worthy of the same power, and (of the privilege) to ascend to the same (place). If, however, any one would despise earthly concerns more than did that (Savior, Carpocrates says) that such a one would be able to become superior to (Jesus. The followers of this heretic) practice their magical arts and incantations, and spells and voluptuous feasts. And (they are in the habit of invoking the aid of) subordinate demons and dream-senders, and (of resorting to) the rest of the tricks (of sorcery), alleging that they possess power for now acquiring sway over the Archons and makers of this world, nay, even over all the works that are in it. (Now these heretics) have themselves been sent forth by Satan, for the purpose of slandering before the Gentiles the divine name of the Church. (And the devil’s object is,) that men hearing, now after one fashion and now after another, the doctrines of those (heretics), and thinking that all of us are people of the same stamp, may turn away their ears from the preaching of the truth, or that they also, looking, (without abjuring,) upon all the tenets of those (heretics), may speak hurtfully of us.”


40. See footnotes 62 and 75 for relevant quotations from Clement’s own Letter. This Clement of Rome, according to early Church tradition, was Paul’s fellow-worker, “whose name is in the Book of Life”, mentioned in Philippians 4. 3. He was the author, in the name of the Roman Church, of the Epistle of Clement (I Clement), a magnificent exhortation, dating from some time before AD 70. The date is proven by his assertion in I Clement 41. 2 that the Temple services were still in operation and the Temple itself still standing as he wrote. He seems to have been ordained originally, on the evidence of a tradition preserved by Tertullian, as overseer of the First Church in Rome by Peter, probably in Caesarea some time in the reign of Claudius, but evidently was prevented from taking up his post by the expulsion of the Jews from the city. By the time he returned to Rome after the death of Claudius, the church he had been set over had fallen into heresy under Simon Magus and another Bible-believing fellowship had been formed in the meantime, towards the end of Paul’s ministry or shortly thereafter. Clement became pastor of this latter church, and continued in that position till the reign of Domitian. Hence in some lists Clement appears as the first bishop of the Church in Rome, that is, the first bishop of the new fellowship, which was formed after the Neronian persecution, in others as the third bishop, meaning third after Linus and Cletus, when he was ordained a couple of decades earlier by Peter in Caesarea as bishop of the fellowship which fell into heresy. For further information and details, see Appendix 6 (Secondary Quotations 5). The confusion in the order of Roman bishops was addressed by Epiphanius, who favored an explanation along the lines adopted here: that Clement had been ordained by Peter but failed to take up his ministry at first (he cites an excerpt from a lost letter of Clement to corroborate this suggestion); then, some time later, he took up the pastoral position in Rome: Panarion, Haer. XXVII (VII). vi., Migne PG XLI, 372-3, “About this time {mid-second century AD} Marcellina, a woman who had been led astray by them [the Carpocratians], arrived amongst us, and spiritually devastated many in the time of Anicetus bishop of Rome, who was of the episcopal succession from Pius and so forth. For in Rome, at the very beginning, the Apostles themselves Peter and Paul were the (only) bishops (of the flock), then Linus, then Cletus, then Clement, who was a contemporary of Peter and Paul, and whom Paul mentions in the letter to the Romans {either a mistake for Philippians, cf. Philippians 4. 3, or the letter to the Philippians at the date this was written was included in the scroll known as “the Letter to the Romans”, after the first document in the scroll}. And let no-one wonder that before him {viz. Clement} others received the episcopacy from the apostles, whilst he himself was a contemporary of Peter and Paul. For this one too {presumably Linus} was a contemporary of the apostles. It was, in fact, whilst they were still alive, that he {Clement} received the ordination [lit. laying-on-of-hands] for the episcopacy from Peter, but he neglected to take it up and left it vacant. He actually says in one of his letters, “I am withdrawing, I am away, let the people of God stand in the breach” — so he advised his correspondents. I found this extract quoted in some Memoirs. We cannot clearly determine whether he was appointed by bishop Cletus subsequent to the succession from the apostles. What we can say is that it was quite possible, whilst the apostles were still alive, I mean Peter and Paul and their immediate circle, for other bishops to be appointed, for the reason that frequently the apostles needed to direct their journey to other lands for the sake of the Gospel of Christ, and it was not possible for the city of the Romans to be without a bishop. In fact Paul got as far as Spain, whilst Peter frequently took pastoral care of Pontus and Bithynia. So it comes about that after the appointment of Clement and his failure to take that appointment up, if that is actually what took place; I suspect so, but make no definitive assertion on the matter, subsequently, after the death of Linus and Cletus, who served as bishops for a total of 12 years severally, subsequent to the deaths of Peter and Paul, which occurred in the 12th year of Nero, he {Clement} was now compelled to take up the episcopacy again. Regardless, the succession of the bishops in Rome goes in this order: Peter and Paul, Linus and Cletus, Clement, Evaristus, Alexander, Sixtus, Telesphorus, Hyginus, Pius, Anicetus, who is set forth above in the catalog.” Lightfoot (The Apostolic Fathers, Part 1, S. Clement of Rome, vol. 1, 2nd ed., New York, 1890, p. 327ff.) gave good reasons for believing this passage was extracted by Epiphanius from Hegesippus, who was the first to examine in detail the succession of bishops in the Church of Rome in the first half of the second century AD. It is noticeable the writer dates Linus, Cletus and Clement, the first three bishops of the First Church in the city, to the lifetime of Peter and Paul. The only contextual historical evidence that survives relating to the sixth bishop in the same series, that is Sixtus or Xystus (see footnote 92, 108, >>), dates him likewise to the time of the Neronian persecution, when Paul was martyred by Nero (AD 62). That implies all the pre-Sixtine bishops recorded by Hegisippus were contemporaries of Peter and Paul and served their ministries before AD 62, with the proviso that Clement also served after that date, as the “first bishop” of the new fellowship. Because of the mention here of a twelve-year period in relation to Linus and Cletus, Lightfoot concluded (ibid. p. 333) it was Hegisippus who was responsible for preserving a record of the terms, as well as of the order, of the bishops. The terms of the pre-Sixtus bishops, according to Lightfoot (ibid. p. 326), originally stood as follows: Linus 12 years, Anencletus (or Cletus) 12 years, Clement 9 years, Euarestus (or Evaristus) 8 years, Alexander 10 years. These terms fit very well into the pre-Neronian context, so long as, with Hegisippus as quoted by Epiphanius, according to the most natural reading of the relevant passage, we assume the 12-year terms of Linus and Cletus ran concurrently to the nearest year. The dates would then be: Linus AD 35-46, Cletus likewise AD 35-46, Clement AD 46 (ordained by Peter in Caesarea, but failing to take up the post), Evaristus AD 46-53, and finally Alexander AD 53-62. The founding of the Church falls within the required period between Pentecost AD 33 and AD 37 (the conversion of Paul), which is when Andronicus and Junia appear to have done their foundational missionary-work. Aquila and Priscilla were prominent in this fellowship before the time of Claudius, and they returned to the city on Claudius’ death, c. AD 54-58. It is likely that by that time their original fellowship had in large part apostatized, and that Alexander therefore continued to be pastor of the Bible-believing members in the new house-church founded by Aquila and Priscilla near the Circus Maximus (at the modern Santa Prisca). Accordingly, when Paul composed his Epistle to the Romans c. AD 58, he made no special mention of Alexander, even though he was supervisor (bishop), as he was included in the “church in the house” of Aquila and Priscilla, which Paul referred to otherwise in a comprehensive way (Romans 16. 5). Meantime at the site of the original fellowship (at Santa Prassede) Hermas’ son Sixtus, earlier ordained a supervisor (bishop) by Alexander, had apostatized and been installed as bishop of the apostate sect. For that reason, too, Paul makes no special mention of Sixtus, as he was included within the group he condemned that “caused divisions and offenses”, contrary to his Apostolic doctrine, through the inspiration of Satan (Romans 16. 17, 20). The reason this tradition got mangled in later accounts, was, of course, the “necessity” to find room for an episcopate of Peter in Rome prior to Nero. Peter can only have “arrived in Rome” after the conversion of Paul (properly c. AD 37), since that is the historical sequence in the Book of Acts. Jerome’s solution was to date the arrival of Peter in Rome to AD 42, that is, 14 years inclusive subsequent to the crucifixion of Jesus (AD 29 in his faulty chronology), corresponding to the historical date AD 46 (14 years inclusive after the actual date of the crucifixion, AD 33). AD 46 is the year, according to this calculation, Clement was ordained bishop of the Roman church by Peter in the East. This pivotal moment had been transformed from what it originally was, that is, the beginning of Peter’s spiritual supervision of the Roman church at a distance (“episkopos” = supervisor is used infrequently in the New Testament in this spiritual sense), to what it has become ever since in Roman ecclesiastical myth, the beginning of Peter’s personal presence and episcopate in Rome itself. From AD 42 to AD 66, the supposed date of Peter’s martyrdom under Nero, is 25 years inclusive. Thus Peter “was bishop in Rome for 25 years”. The rewritten history had the effect of ousting all the pre-Sixtine bishops from their proper chronological positions. A little tinkering was done, therefore, with Hegesippus’ tradition. Peter was the lynch pin in the new scheme, and Peter’s ordinand, Clement, had a prime role in it also. Clement must be the first bishop by all means after the execution of Peter by Nero. That left some uncomfortable, since Linus was known, in the historical tradition, to have been the first bishop of Rome ordained by “apostles”. Since Hegesippus, as quoted by Epiphanius, merged the ministries of Linus and Cletus into a single period of 12 years, it was possible to claim Linus’ term was insignificant within that 12-year period, say, less than one complete year immediately following Peter’s death. He might still be considered, in a real sense, the first bishop, but he was succeeded by Peter’s ordinand Clement thereafter for the more significant term. Next the twelve years “each” or “severally” of Hegesippus had to be addressed. The solution was to allocate the two names of the next bishop (Cletus, also called Anencletus or Anacletus) to two different bishops, ruling 12 years apiece, 24 years in all. Deducting the 25 inclusive years (1 [Linus] + 24 [Cletus, Anacletus]) from the actual term of Clement (historically c. AD 62-96), left a mere 9 years for Clement himself. The alleged succession now was: Peter 25 years till his execution by Nero, Linus a few months till his execution the same year, Clement 9 years, Cletus 12 years, Anacletus 12 years, and that is how the First Church of Rome recorded the early succession at least from the middle of the fourth century on. The fact that Linus and Cletus exercised their episcopates during the lifetime of Peter was explained away as a special arrangement on the part of Peter during his episcopate in Rome, whereby he delegated them as his suffragans, so that he would not be cumbered in his own ministry. (Lightfoot, ibid. p. 309f.)


41. Eusebius, Hist. Ecc. IV. xxvi. 2, 5-11: “2. … Of Melito [c. AD 177] … the book addressed to Antoninus [= Marcus Aurelius] …. 5. But in his book addressed to the emperor he records that the following events happened to us under him: “For, what never before happened, the race of the pious is now suffering persecution, being driven about in Asia by new decrees. For the shameless calumniating informers [Gk. sukophantai] and coveters of the property of others, taking occasion from the decrees, openly carry on robbery night and day, despoiling those who are guilty of no wrong.” 6. And a little further on he says: “If these things are done by thy command, well and good. For a just ruler will never take unjust measures; and we indeed gladly accept the honor of such a death. But this request alone we present to thee, that thou wouldst thyself first examine the authors of such strife, and justly judge whether they be worthy of death and punishment, or of safety and quiet. But if, on the other hand, this counsel and this new decree, which is not fit to be executed even against barbarian enemies, be not from thee, much more do we beseech thee not to leave us exposed to such lawless plundering by the populace.” 7. Again he adds the following: “For our philosophy formerly flourished among the Barbarians; but having sprung up among the nations under thy rule, during the great reign of thy ancestor Augustus, it became to thine empire especially a blessing of auspicious omen. For from that time the power of the Romans has grown in greatness and splendor. To whom thou, in partnership with thy son [= Lucius otherwise known as Commodus], both art now become and art to be hereafter the prayed for successor [Gk. ‘ou su diadochos euktaios gegonas te kai esêi meta tou paidos], if thou guardest the philosophy which grew up with the empire and which came into existence with Augustus; that philosophy which thy ancestors also honored along with the other religions. 8. And a most convincing proof that our doctrine flourished for the good of an empire happily begun, is this — that there has no evil happened since Augustus’ reign, but that, on the contrary, all things have been splendid and glorious, in accordance with the prayers of all. 9. Nero and Domitian, alone, persuaded by certain malignant persons [or, more specifically, sorcerers, Gk. baskanôn anthrôpôn, viz. the Gnostic heretics] have wished to slander our doctrine, from whose time it has come about, on occasion, that the lie of the calumny [viz. of the sorcerers] has spewed forth, by an irrational habit of mind regarding such people (as are at present under consideration). [ Gk. aph’ ‘on kai to tês sukophantias alogôi sunêtheiai peri toioutous ‘ruênai sumbebêken pseudos]. 10. But thy pious fathers corrected the ignorance of the former [the previous Emperors], having frequently rebuked in writing many who dared to attempt new measures against the latter [the Christians]. Among them thy grandfather Hadrian appears to have written to many others, and also to Fundanus, the proconsul and governor of Asia. And thy father, when thou also wast ruling with him, wrote to the cities, forbidding them to take any new measures against us; among the rest to the Larissaeans, to the Thessalonians, to the Athenians, and to all the Greeks. 11. And as for thee, — since thy opinions respecting the Christians are the same as theirs, and indeed much more benevolent and philosophic, — we are the more persuaded that thou wilt do all that we ask of thee.” The words sukophantai and sukophantia here (the slander and calumny of informers) are the same words used of the accusation brought against Symeon son of Clopas in the reign of Trajan by the Gnostic heretics in Hegesippus, apud Eusebius, Ecc. Hist. III. xxxii. 6 [Gk. sukophantêtheis upo tôn ‘aireseôn].


42. Greek baskanoi, malignant sorcerers: Melito of Sardis, apud Eusebius Hist. Ecc. IV. xxvi. 9 [see the footnote 41 for the context] “Nero and Domitian, alone, persuaded by certain malignant persons [or, more specifically, sorcerers, Gk. baskanôn anthrôpôn, viz. the Gnostic heretics] have wished to slander our doctrine.”


43. See footnotes 66 and 68 for full details.


44. II Timothy, 4. 6-22: “6 For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. 9 ¶ Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me: 10 For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry. 12 And Tychicus have I sent to Ephesus. 13 The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments. 14 Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works: 15 Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words. 16 ¶ At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge. 17 Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. 18 And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. 19 Salute Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus. 20 Erastus abode at Corinth: but Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick. 21 Do thy diligence to come before winter. Eubulus greeteth thee, and Pudens, and Linus, and Claudia, and all the brethren. 22 The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit. Grace be with you. Amen. The second epistle unto Timotheus, ordained the first bishop of the church of the Ephesians, was written from Rome, when Paul was brought before Nero the second time.”


45. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, III. iii. 2-3: (See further on this passage, Appendix 6, Quotation 2b) “Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the Churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings; [we do this, I say,] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the most ancient [Church], and [that which was] accredited to all by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul, founded and organized at Rome; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For the whole Church is bound to agree with this Church on account of its more authoritative primacy, that is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the apostolical tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere. 3. The blessed apostles, then, having founded and built up the Church, committed into the hands of Linus the office of the episcopate. Of this Linus, Paul makes mention in the Epistles to Timothy. To him succeeded Anencletus; and after him, in the third place from the apostles, Clement was allotted the bishopric. This man, as he had seen the blessed apostles, and had been conversant with them, might be said to have the preaching of the apostles still echoing [in his ears], and their traditions before his eyes. Nor was he alone [in this], for there were many still remaining who had received instructions from the apostles. In the time of this Clement, no small dissension having occurred among the brethren at Corinth, the Church in Rome dispatched a most powerful letter to the Corinthians, exhorting them to peace, renewing their faith, and declaring the tradition which it had lately received from the apostles, proclaiming the one God, omnipotent, the Maker of heaven and earth, the Creator of man, who brought on the deluge, and called Abraham, who led the people from the land of Egypt, spake with Moses, set forth the law, sent the prophets, and who has prepared fire for the devil and his angels. From this document, whosoever chooses to do so, may learn that He, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, was preached by the Churches, and may also understand the apostolical tradition of the Church, since this Epistle is of older date than these men who are now propagating falsehood, and who conjure into existence another God beyond the Creator and the Maker of all existing things. To this Clement there succeeded Evaristus. Alexander followed Evaristus; then, sixth from the apostles, Sixtus was appointed; after him, Telesphorus, who was apparently [usually translated “gloriously”] martyred [the word “martyr” was used in the First Church of Rome of those who had suffered some kind of persecution for their beliefs (or their crimes!), but not necessarily suffered capital punishment, see Eusebius Hist. Ecc.V. xxviii. 11 and on “apparent” martyrs in the First Church, cp. Hippolytus, Ref. IX. vi, sub fin. and vii]; then Hyginus; after him, Pius; then after him, Anicetus. Soter having succeeded Anicetus, Eleutherius does now, in the twelfth place from the apostles, hold the inheritance of the episcopate. In this order, and by this succession, the ecclesiastical tradition from the apostles, and the preaching of the truth, have come down to us. And this is most abundant proof that there is one and the same vivifying faith, which has been preserved in the Church from the apostles until now, and handed down in truth.”


46. See Appendix 6.


47. Feriale Philocalianum (Philocalian Calendar AD 354) under the heading Depositio Martyrum: “III. Kal. Iul. Petri in Catacumbas et Pauli Ostense — Tusco et Basso cons.” “III Kalends July. (Deposition) of Peter in Catacumbas and of Paul in the Ostian Way — in the consulship of Tuscus and Bassus”. The names of the Consuls fixes the date to AD 258. Berne codex of the Martirologium Hieronymianum (Hieronymian Martyrology): “III. Kal. Iul. Romae natale apostolorum sanctorum Petri et Pauli — Petri in Vaticano via Aurelia Pauli vero in Via Ostensi, utrumque in Catacumbis, passi sub Nerone, Basso et Tusco consulibus”. “III Kalends July. At Rome, the Birth-Feast (of the Deposition) of the holy apostles, Peter and Paul, Peter in the Vatican Hill, on the Via Aurelia, and Paul in the Ostian Way, and of both in Catacumbis, having suffered martyrdom in the reign of Nero — in the consulship of Bassus and Tuscus”. The way the phrase passi sub Nerone is juxtaposed to the date AD 258 (the consulship of Bassus and Tuscus) suggests that the redating of Marcellus and his deposition of the martyrs’ bodies to the era of Nero, when the proper historical period was the second half of the third century AD, arose from a misunderstanding of some such festal, calendar, entry.


48. Damasi Epigrammata 19: Hic habitasse prius sanctos cognoscere debes, nomina quisque Petri pariter Paulique requiris. discipulos oriens misit, quod sponte fatemur: sanguinis ob meritum (Christumque per astra secuti aetherios petiere sinus regnaque piorum) Roma suos potius meruit defendere cives. haec Damasus vestras referat nova sidera laudes. “Here, you should know, in earlier times saints had their habitation: should anyone further inquire their names — Peter and Paul. The East sent the disciples [to us], a fact we freely acknowledge: [but] for the merits of their shed blood (for they also followed Christ through the stars in quest of the heavenly shores and the realms of the just) Rome was more deserving to defend [these] her citizens. May Damasus now bring your praises before these new stars.”


49. Liber Pontificalis (6th century AD), 22: Cornelius [Pope 251-3]: “In his time, at the request of a certain lady Lucina, he took away the bodies of the apostles Saints Peter and Paul up out of the Catacombs [i.e. the spot Ad Catacumbas, where they had hurriedly been deposited after the fracas with the easterners] at night (in fact first of all [i.e. before their placement in the cemetery Ad Catacumbas] the blessed Lucina took the body of St Paul [qu. from where?] and put it on her estate on the Ostian Way close to the place where he was beheaded; the blessed bishop Cornelius took the body of St Peter [qu. from where?] and put it close to the place where he was impaled [meaning originally, in Jerusalem, but later the location was understood to be Rome]), among the bodies of the holy bishops inside the temple of Apollo on the Mons Aureus, on the Vatican at Nero’s palace, on 29th June.” This translation presumes the words “… inter corpora in templum …” “among the bodies inside the temple …” etc. at the end of the entry complement the verb “levavit”, “took away … up out of,” earlier in the passage and that the phrase “primum quidem … ubi crucificus est …”, “in fact first of all … where he was impaled,” is an original aside or a later interpolation. Any other understanding leaves it unexplained whither the bodies were taken after they were removed from Ad Catacumbas. “IV. Hic temporibus suis, rogatus a quadam matrona Lucina, corpora apostolorum beati Petri et Pauli de Catacumbas levavit noctu: primum quidem corpus beati Pauli accepto beata Lucina posuit in praedio suo, via Ostense, iuxta locum ubi decollatus est; beati Petri accipit corpus beatus Cornelius episcopus et posuit iuxta locum ubi crucificus est: inter corpora sanctorum episcoporum, in templum Apollinis, in monte Aureum, in Vaticanum palatii Neroniani, III kal. iul.”


50. Letter of Gregory the Great SANCTI GREGORII MAGNI EPISTOLAE AD CONSTANTINAM AVGVSTAM (IV.30) “Concerning the corpses of the Blessed Apostles, however, what am I to say? For it is well known that at that season when they suffered martyrdom, faithful ones came from the East, to reclaim their corpses on the grounds that they were their citizens. They were carried forth as far as two miles out of the city and placed down in the spot called Catacumbas. But when the whole throng of them gathered together and attempted to take them away from that place, the power of a peal of thunder and a flash of lightning so terrified them with sheer panic and scattered them that they never dared again to attempt such things. Upon which the people of Rome came forth, who deserved this because of their piety towards the Lord, and took them away, laying them in the locations where they are found now.” In the original Latin: “De corporibus vero beatorum apostolorum quid ego dicturus sum, dum constet quia eo tempore quo passi sunt ex Oriente fideles venerunt, qui eorum corpora sicut civium suorum repeterent? Quae ducta usque ad secundum urbis milliarium in loco qui dicitur Catacumbas collocata sunt. Sed dum ea exinde levare omnis eorum multitudo conveniens niteretur, ita eos vis tonitrui atque fulguris nimio metu terruit atque dispersit, ut talia denuo nullatenus attentare praesumerent. Tunc autem exeuntes Romani eorum corpora, qui hoc ex Domini pietate meruerunt, levaverunt, et in locis quibus nunc sunt condita posuerunt.”


51. Josephus, Antiquities, XX. ix. 1: “CHAPTER 9 CONCERNING ALBINUS UNDER WHOSE PROCURATORSHIP JAMES WAS SLAIN; AS ALSO WHAT EDIFICES WERE BUILT BY AGRIPPA. 1. AND now Caesar, upon hearing the death of Festus, sent Albinus into Judea, as procurator. But the king deprived Joseph of the high priesthood, and bestowed the succession to that dignity on the son of Ananus, who was also himself called Ananus. Now the report goes that this eldest Ananus proved a most fortunate man; for he had five sons who had all performed the office of a high priest to God, and who had himself enjoyed that dignity a long time formerly, which had never happened to any other of our high priests. But this younger Ananus, who, as we have told you already, took the high priesthood, was a bold man in his temper, and very insolent; he was also of the sect of the Sadducees, who are very rigid in judging offenders, above all the rest of the Jews, as we have already observed; when, therefore, Ananus was of this disposition, he thought he had now a proper opportunity [to exercise his authority]. Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or, some of his companions]; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned: but as for those who seemed the most equitable of the citizens, and such as were the most uneasy at the breach of the laws, they disliked what was done; they also sent to the king [Agrippa], desiring him to send to Ananus that he should act so no more, for that what he had already done was not to be justified; nay, some of them went also to meet Albinus, as he was upon his journey from Alexandria, and informed him that it was not lawful for Ananus to assemble a sanhedrin without his consent. Whereupon Albinus complied with what they said, and wrote in anger to Ananus, and threatened that he would bring him to punishment for what he had done; on which king Agrippa took the high priesthood from him, when he had ruled but three months, and made Jesus, the son of Damneus, high priest.” Josephus, Antiquities, XX. ix. 1: “CHAPTER 9 CONCERNING ALBINUS UNDER WHOSE PROCURATORSHIP JAMES WAS SLAIN; AS ALSO WHAT EDIFICES WERE BUILT BY AGRIPPA. 1. AND now Caesar, upon hearing the death of Festus, sent Albinus into Judea, as procurator. But the king deprived Joseph of the high priesthood, and bestowed the succession to that dignity on the son of Ananus, who was also himself called Ananus. Now the report goes that this eldest Ananus proved a most fortunate man; for he had five sons who had all performed the office of a high priest to God, and who had himself enjoyed that dignity a long time formerly, which had never happened to any other of our high priests. But this younger Ananus, who, as we have told you already, took the high priesthood, was a bold man in his temper, and very insolent; he was also of the sect of the Sadducees, who are very rigid in judging offenders, above all the rest of the Jews, as we have already observed; when, therefore, Ananus was of this disposition, he thought he had now a proper opportunity [to exercise his authority]. Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or, some of his companions]; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned: but as for those who seemed the most equitable of the citizens, and such as were the most uneasy at the breach of the laws, they disliked what was done; they also sent to the king [Agrippa], desiring him to send to Ananus that he should act so no more, for that what he had already done was not to be justified; nay, some of them went also to meet Albinus, as he was upon his journey from Alexandria, and informed him that it was not lawful for Ananus to assemble a sanhedrin without his consent. Whereupon Albinus complied with what they said, and wrote in anger to Ananus, and threatened that he would bring him to punishment for what he had done; on which king Agrippa took the high priesthood from him, when he had ruled but three months, and made Jesus, the son of Damneus, high priest.”


52. See Appendix 6, Primary Quotations (7) = Eusebius Hist. Ecc. III. i. 1-3. It is there stated that Peter was “impaled down through his head” (the identical expression used of the fuller’s stake in Hegesippus’ account of the martyrdom of James, apud Eusebius, Hist Ecc. II. xxiii. 17-18). The phrase in the case of Peter is often incorrectly translated “crucified head-downwards”.


53. For the Greek see Appendix 13 §10.


54. Roman citizens got better treatment than foreigners, even when they were guilty of a capital crime.


55. The Shepherd of Hermas VIS. II. ii. 6, “You will tell, therefore, those who preside over the Church, to direct their ways in righteousness.” Also VIS. III. ix. 7-8: “Wherefore I now say to you who preside over the Church and love the first seats, “Be not like to sorcerers. For the sorcerers carry their drugs in boxes, but ye carry your drug and poison in your heart. Ye are hardened, and do not wish to cleanse your hearts, and to add unity of aim to purity of heart, that you may have mercy from the great King.”


56. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, I. xxv. 3: “They practice also magical arts and incantations; philters, also, and love-potions; and have recourse to familiar spirits, dream-sending demons, and other abominations, declaring that they possess power to rule over, even now, the princes and formers of this world; and not only them, but also all things that are in it. These men, even as the Gentiles, have been sent forth by Satan to bring dishonor upon the Church, so that, in one way or another, men hearing the things which they speak, and imagining that we all are such as they, may turn away their ears from the preaching of the truth; or, again, seeing the things they practice, may speak evil of us all, who have in fact no fellowship with them, either in doctrine or in morals, or in our daily conduct. But they lead a licentious life, and, to conceal their impious doctrines, they abuse the name [of Christ], as a means of hiding their wickedness; so that “their condemnation is just,” when they receive from God a recompense suited to their works.”


57. Hermas, MAN. xi. 4-5: “As many, then, as are strong in the faith of the Lord, and are clothed with truth, have no connection with such spirits [viz. of the false prophet who sits on the kathedra or episcopal chair, leading astray the true servants of Christ], but keep away from them; but as many as are of doubtful minds and frequently repent, betake themselves to soothsaying, even as the heathen, and bring greater sin upon themselves by their idolatry. For he who inquires of a false prophet in regard to any action is an idolater, and devoid of the truth, and foolish. For no spirit given by God requires to be asked; but such a spirit having the power of Divinity speaks all things of itself, for it proceeds from above from the power of the Divine Spirit. But the spirit which is asked and speaks according to the desires of men is earthly, light, and powerless, and it is altogether silent if it is not questioned.”


58. The Shepherd of Hermas, VIS. IV. i. 1 — iii. 6: CHAPTER 1 “Twenty days after the former vision I saw another vision, brethren — a representation of the tribulation that is to come. I was going to a country house along the Campanian road. Now the house lay about ten furlongs from the public road. The district is one rarely traversed. And as I walked alone, I prayed the Lord to complete the revelations which He had made to me through His holy Church, that He might strengthen me, and give repentance to all His servants who were going astray, that His great and glorious name might be glorified because He vouchsafed to show me His marvels. And while I was glorifying Him and giving Him thanks, a voice, as it were, answered me, “Doubt not, Hermas;” and I began to think with myself, and to say, “What reason have I to doubt — I who have been established by the Lord, and who have seen such glorious sights?” I advanced a little, brethren, and, lo! I see dust rising even to the heavens. I began to say to myself, “Are cattle approaching and raising the dust?” It was about a furlong’s distance from me. And, lo! I see the dust rising more and more, so that I imagined that it was something sent from God. But the sun now shone out a little, and, lo! I see a mighty beast like a whale, and out of its mouth fiery locusts proceeded. But the size of that beast was about a hundred feet, and it had a head like an urn. I began to weep, and to call on the Lord to rescue me from it. Then I remembered the word which I had heard, “Doubt not, O Hermas.” Clothed, therefore, my brethren, with faith in the Lord and remembering the great things which He had taught me, I boldly faced the beast. Now that beast came on with such noise and force, that it could itself have destroyed a city. I came near it, and the monstrous beast stretched itself out on the ground, and showed nothing but its tongue, and did not stir at all until I had passed by it. Now the beast had four colors on its head — black, then fiery and bloody, then golden, and lastly white. CHAPTER 2. Now after I had passed by the wild beast, and had moved forward about thirty feet, lo! a virgin meets me, adorned as if she were proceeding from the bridal chamber, clothed entirely in white, and with white sandals, and veiled up to her forehead, and her head was covered by a hood. And she had white hair. I knew from my former visions that this was the Church, and I became more joyful. She saluted me, and said, “Hail, O man!” And I returned her salutation, and said, “Lady, hail!” And she answered. and said to me, “Has nothing crossed your path?” I say, “I was met by a beast of such a size that it could destroy peoples, but through the power of the Lord and His great mercy I escaped from it.” “Well did you escape from it,” says she, “because you cast your care on God, and opened your heart to the Lord, believing that you can be saved by no other than by His great and glorious name. On this account the Lord has sent His angel, who has rule over the beasts, and whose name is Thegri, and has shut up its mouth, so that it cannot tear you. You have escaped from great tribulation on account of your faith, and because you did not doubt in the presence of such a beast. Go, therefore, and tell the elect of the Lord His mighty deeds, and say to them that this beast is a type of the great tribulation that is coming. If then ye prepare yourselves, and repent with all your heart, and turn to the Lord, it will be possible for you to escape it, if your heart be pure and spotless, and ye spend the rest of the days of your life in serving the Lord blamelessly. Cast your cares upon the Lord, and He will direct them. Trust the Lord, ye who doubt, for He is all-powerful, and can turn His anger away from you, and send scourges on the doubters. Woe to those who hear these words, and despise them: better were it for them not to have been born.” CHAPTER 3. I asked her about the four colors which the beast had on his head. And she answered, and said to me, “Again you are inquisitive in regard to such matters.” “Yea, Lady, said I, “make known to me what they are.” “Listen,” said she: “the black is the world in which we dwell: but the fiery and bloody points out that the world must perish through blood and fire: but the golden part are you who have escaped from this world. For as gold is tested by fire, and thus becomes useful, so are you tested who dwell in it. Those, therefore, who continue steadfast, and are put through the fire, will be purified by means of it. For as gold casts away its dross, so also will ye cast away all sadness and straitness, and will be made pure so as to fit into the building of the tower. But the white part is the age that is to come, in which the elect of God will dwell, since those elected by God to eternal life will be spotless and pure. Wherefore cease not speaking these things into the ears of the saints. This then is the type of the great tribulation that is to come. If ye wish it, it will be nothing. Remember those things which were written down before.””


59. The Shepherd of Hermas, VIS. III. viii. 11: “I command you to speak all the words which I am to say to you into the ears of the saints, that hearing them and doing them, they may be cleansed from their iniquities, and you along with them.” (See also VIS. I. i. 9, and iii, II. ii-iii and IV. i. 4, SIM. I, where the multiplication of lands, houses and excessive wealth by the Roman Christians is attacked, and passim. According to VIS. III. i. 2 Hermas himself was a farmer and, according to VIS. III. vi. 7, he was at one time rich in material goods and useless to God, but now, after repentance, he had become profitable in the service of Christ. Similarly in VIS. III. xi. 3 Hermas and his fellow Christians are described as having been weakened spiritually by worldly business, though they afterwards recovered through repentance.)


60. The Shepherd of Hermas, VIS. II. iv. 1-4: “Now a revelation was given to me, my brethren, while I slept, by a young man of comely appearance, who said to me, “Who do you think that old woman is from whom you received the book?” And I said, “The Sibyl.” “You are in a mistake,” says he; “it is not the Sibyl.” “Who is it then?” say I. And he said, “It is the Church.” And I said to him, “Why then is she an old woman?” “Because,” said he, “she was created first of all. On this account is she old. And for her sake was the world made.” After that I saw a vision in my house, and that old woman came and asked me, if I had yet given the book to the presbyters. And I said that I had not. And then she said, “You have done well for I have some words to add. But when I finish all the words, all the elect will then become acquainted with them through you. You will write therefore two books, and you will send the one to Clemens [= Clement] and the other to Grapte. And Clemens will send his to foreign countries, for permission has been granted to him to do so. And Grapte will admonish the widows and the orphans. But you will read the words in this city, along with the presbyters who preside over the Church.”


61. The Shepherd of Hermas, VIS. II. ii. 6: “…. You will tell, therefore, those who preside over the Church, to direct their ways in righteousness, that they may receive in full the promises with great glory.” Op. cit. VIS. III. ix. 6-10: “Give heed, therefore, ye who glory in your wealth, lest those who are needy should groan, and their groans should ascend to the Lord, and ye be shut out with all your goods beyond the gate of the tower. Wherefore I now say to you who preside over the Church and love the first seats [Gk. prôtokathedritai, from the Gospels, Mtt. 23.6, Mk. 12. 39, Lk. 11. 43, 20. 46], “Be not like to sorcerers [Gk. pharmakoi]. For the sorcerers carry their drugs in boxes, but ye carry your drug and poison in your heart. Ye are hardened, and do not wish to cleanse your hearts, and to add unity of aim to purity of heart, that you may have mercy from the great King. Take heed, therefore, children, that these dissensions of yours do not deprive you of your life. How will you instruct the elect of the Lord, if you yourselves have not instruction? Instruct each other therefore, and be at peace among yourselves, that I also, standing joyful before your Father, may give an account of you all to your Lord.” Ibid. MAN. XI: “He pointed out to me some men sitting on a seat, and one man sitting on a chair [Gk. kathedra, lit. throne, a word used in the early Church as a title of honor of the pastor’s position, but clearly abused in this context and given a monarchical twist by the “false prophet”: compare the use of the word prôtokathedritai, “people who take the prime seat (kathedra)” in the section above, referring to backsliding Christians who are likened to sorcerers. This “false prophet” is an actual example of the latter class. In the first vision of Hermas the Church appears sitting on a kathedra, I. ii. 2, which she afterwards abandons, this being interpreted to mean that the Church was at first spiritually weak and unhealthy, and hence had to be seated, though afterwards, having repented, she recovered her health, III. xi. 2-4. In the symbolism of Hermas the kathedra, therefore, represents backsliding and worldliness, especially of the leadership of the Church.]. And he says to me, “Do you see the persons sitting on the seat?” “I do, sir,” said I. “These,” says he, “are the faithful, and he who sits on the chair is a false prophet, ruining the minds of the servants of God. [Note: this false prophet, taking the prime seat (see above) is operating within a circle frequented by believing, but weak, Christians, whereas the strong believers do not fellowship with the false prophets and keep their assembly separate, see footnotes 56 and 57. The vision seems to be exposing the activity of a particular false prophet in Rome, and is, most probably, a reference to the sorcerer Cerdon, who occupied the kathedra of the First Church of Rome at this time.] It is the doubters, not the faithful, that he ruins. These doubters then go to him as to a soothsayer, and inquire of him what will happen to them; and he, the false prophet, not having the power of a Divine Spirit in him, answers them according to their inquiries, and according to their wicked desires, and fills their souls with expectations, according to their own wishes. For being himself empty, he gives empty answers to empty inquirers; for every answer is made to the emptiness of man. Some true words he does occasionally utter; for the devil fills him with his own spirit, in the hope that he may be able to overcome some of the righteous. As many, then, as are strong in the faith of the Lord, and are clothed with truth, have no connection with such spirits, but keep away from them; but as many as are of doubtful minds and frequently repent, betake themselves to soothsaying, even as the heathen, and bring greater sin upon themselves by their idolatry. For he who inquires of a false prophet in regard to any action is an idolater, and devoid of the truth, and foolish. For no spirit given by God requires to be asked; but such a spirit having the power of Divinity speaks all things of itself, for it proceeds from above from the power of the Divine Spirit. But the spirit which is asked and speaks according to the desires of men is earthly, light, and powerless, and it is altogether silent if it is not questioned.” “How then, sir,” say I, “will a man know which of them is the prophet, and which the false prophet?” “I will tell you,” says he, “about both the prophets, and then you can try the true and the false prophet according to my directions. Try the man who has the Divine Spirit by his life. First, he who has the Divine Spirit proceeding from above is meek, and peaceable, and humble, and refrains from all iniquity and the vain desire of this world, and contents himself with fewer wants than those of other men, and when asked he makes no reply; nor does he speak privately, nor when man wishes the spirit to speak does the Holy Spirit speak, but it speaks only when God wishes it to speak. When, then, a man having the Divine Spirit comes into an assembly of righteous men who have faith in the Divine Spirit, and this assembly of men offers up prayer to God, then the angel of the prophetic Spirit, who is destined for him, fills the man; and the man being filled with the Holy Spirit, speaks to the multitude as the Lord wishes. Thus, then, will the Spirit of Divinity become manifest. Whatever power therefore comes from the Spirit of Divinity belongs to the Lord. Hear, then,” says he, “in regard to the spirit which is earthly, and empty, and powerless, and foolish. First, the man who seems to have the Spirit exalts himself, and wishes to have the first seat, and is bold, and impudent, and talkative, and lives in the midst of many luxuries and many other delusions, and takes rewards for his prophecy; and if he does not receive rewards, he does not prophesy. Can, then, the Divine Spirit take rewards and prophesy? It is not possible that the prophet of God should do this, but prophets of this character are possessed by an earthly spirit. Then it never approaches an assembly of righteous men, but shuns them. And it associates with doubters and the vain, and prophesies to them in a comer, and deceives them, speaking to them, according to their desires, mere empty words: for they are empty to whom it gives its answers. For the empty vessel, when placed along with the empty, is not crushed, but they correspond to each other. When, therefore, it comes into an assembly of righteous men who have a Spirit of Divinity, and they offer up prayer, that man is made empty, and the earthly spirit flees from him through fear, and that man is made dumb, and is entirely crushed, being unable to speak. For if you pack closely a storehouse with wine or oil, and put an empty jar in the midst of the vessels of wine or oil, you will find that jar empty as when you placed it, if you should wish to clear the storehouse. So also the empty prophets, when they come to the spirits of the righteous, are found [on leaving] to be such as they were when they came. This, then, is the mode of life of both prophets. Try by his deeds and his life the man who says that he is inspired. But as for you, trust the Spirit which comes from God, and has power; but the spirit which is earthly and empty trust not at all, for there is no power in it: it comes from the devil. Hear, then, the parable which I am to tell you. Take a stone, and throw it to the sky, and see if you can touch it. Or again, take a squirt of water and squirt into the sky, and see if you can penetrate the sky.” “How, sir,” say I, “can these things take place? for both of them are impossible.” “As these things,” says he, “are impossible, so also are the earthly spirits powerless and pitiless. But look, on the other hand, at the power which comes from above. Hail is of the size of a very small grain, yet when it falls on a man’s head how much annoyance it gives him! Or, again, take the drop which falls from a pitcher to the ground, and yet it hollows a stone. You see, then, that the smallest things coming from above have great power when they fall upon the earth. Thus also is the Divine Spirit, which comes from above, powerful. Trust, then, that Spirit, but have nothing to do with the other.””


62. I Clement, 1, 3: “The Church of God which sojourns at Rome, to the Church of God sojourning at Corinth, to them that are called and sanctified by the will of God, through our Lord Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, from Almighty God through Jesus Christ, be multiplied. Owing, dear brethren, to the sudden and successive calamitous events which have happened to ourselves, we feel that we have been somewhat tardy in turning our attention to the points respecting which you consulted us; and especially to that shameful and detestable sedition, utterly abhorrent to the elect of God, which a few rash and self-confident persons have kindled to such a pitch of frenzy, that your venerable and illustrious name, worthy to be universally loved, has suffered grievous injury. For who ever dwelt even for a short time among you, and did not find your faith to be as fruitful of virtue as it was firmly established? Who did not admire the sobriety and moderation of your godliness in Christ? Who did not proclaim the magnificence of your habitual hospitality? And who did not rejoice over your perfect and well-grounded knowledge? For ye did all things without respect of persons, and walked in the commandments of God, being obedient to those who had the rule over you, and giving all fitting honor to the presbyters among you. Ye enjoined young men to be of a sober and serious mind; ye instructed your wives to do all things with a blameless, becoming, and pure conscience, loving their husbands as in duty bound; and ye taught them that, living in the rule of obedience, they should manage their household affairs becomingly, and be in every respect marked by discretion …. [3] Every kind of honor and happiness was bestowed upon you, and then was fulfilled that which is written, “My beloved did eat and drink, and was enlarged and became fat, and kicked.” Hence flowed emulation and envy, strife and sedition, persecution and disorder, war and captivity [this is probably a reference to the Jewish Revolt crushed in AD 70 by Titus, which was stirred up by the heretics, through the influence Simon Magus had with the Roman procurator, Felix]. So the worthless rose up against the honored, those of no reputation against such as were renowned, the foolish against the wise, the young against those advanced in years. For this reason righteousness and peace are now far departed from you, inasmuch as every one abandons the fear of God, and is become blind in His faith, neither walks in the ordinances of His appointment, nor acts a part becoming a Christian, but walks after his own wicked lusts, resuming the practice of an unrighteous and ungodly envy, by which death itself entered into the world.


63. Eusebius, Hist. Ecc. , III. xvii-xx: CHAPTER 17. THE PERSECUTION UNDER DOMITIAN. DOMITIAN, having shown great cruelty toward many, and having unjustly put to death no small number of well-born and notable men at Rome, and having without cause exiled and confiscated the property of a great many other illustrious men, finally became a successor of Nero in his hatred and enmity toward God. He was in fact the second that stirred up a persecution against us, although his father Vespasian had undertaken nothing prejudicial to us. CHAPTER 18. THE APOSTLE JOHN AND THE APOCALYPSE. IT is said that in this persecution the apostle and evangelist John, who was still alive, was condemned to dwell on the island of Patmos in consequence of his testimony to the divine word. Irenaeus, in the fifth book of his work Against Heresies, where he discusses the number of the name of Antichrist which is given in the so-called Apocalypse of John, speaks as follows concerning him: “If it were necessary for his name to be proclaimed openly at the present time, it would have been declared by him who saw the revelation. For it was seen not long ago, but almost in our own generation, at the end of the reign of Domitian.” To such a degree, indeed, did the teaching of our faith flourish at that time that even those writers who were far from our religion did not hesitate to mention in their histories the persecution and the martyrdoms which took place during it. And they, indeed, accurately indicated the time. For they recorded that in the fifteenth year of Domitian Flavia Domitilla, daughter of a sister of Flavius Clement, who at that time was one of the consuls of Rome, was exiled with many others to the island of Pontia in consequence of testimony born to Christ. CHAPTER 19. DOMITIAN COMMANDS THE DESCENDANTS OF DAVID TO BE SLAIN. BUT when this same Domitian had commanded that the descendants of David should be slain, an ancient tradition says that some of the heretics brought accusation against the descendants of Jude (said to have been a brother of the Savior according to the flesh), on the ground that they were of the lineage of David and were related to Christ himself. Hegesippus relates these facts in the following words. CHAPTER 20. THE RELATIVES OF OUR SAVIOR. “OF the family of the Lord there were still living the grandchildren of Jude, who is said to have been the Lord’s brother according to the flesh. Information was given that they belonged to the family of David, and they were brought to the Emperor Domitian by the Evocatus. For Domitian feared the coming of Christ as Herod also had feared it. And he asked them if they were descendants of David, and they confessed that they were. Then he asked them how much property they had, or how much money they owned. And both of them answered that they had only nine thousand denarii, half of which belonged to each of them; and this property did not consist of silver, but of a piece of land which contained only thirty-nine acres, and from which they raised their taxes and supported themselves by their own labor.” Then they showed their hands, exhibiting the hardness of their bodies and the callousness produced upon their hands by continuous toil as evidence of their own labor. And when they were asked concerning Christ and his kingdom, of what sort it was and where and when it was to appear, they, answered that it was not a temporal nor an earthly kingdom, but a heavenly and angelic one, which would appear at the end of the world, when he should come in glory to judge the quick and the dead, and to give unto every one according to his works. Upon hearing this, Domitian did not pass judgment against them, but, despising them as of no account, he let them go, and by a decree put a stop to the persecution of the Church. But when they were released they ruled the churches because they were witnesses and were also relatives of the Lord. And peace being established, they lived until the time of Trajan. These things are related by Hegesippus. Tertullian also has mentioned Domitian in the following words: “Domitian also, who possessed a share of Nero’s cruelty, attempted once to do the same thing that the latter did. But because he had, I suppose, some intelligence, he very soon ceased, and even recalled those whom he had banished.” But after Domitian had reigned fifteen years, and Nerva had succeeded to the empire, the Roman Senate, according to the writers that record the history of those days, voted that Domitian’s honors should be canceled, and that those who had been unjustly banished should return to their homes and have their property restored to them. It was at this time that the apostle John returned from his banishment in the island and took up his abode at Ephesus, according to an ancient Christian tradition.”


64. Clement of Alexandria, Comments on the Epistle of Jude, init., “COMMENTS ON THE EPISTLE OF JUDE: Jude, who wrote the Catholic Epistle, the brother of the sons of Joseph, and very religious, whilst knowing the near relationship of the Lord, yet did not say that he himself was His brother. But what said he? “Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ,” — of Him as Lord; but “the brother of James.” For this is true; he was His brother, (the son) of Joseph.” Origen, Commentary on Matthew, 10. 17, commenting on Matt. 13. 55: “ …. And His brethren, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us?” They thought, then, that He was the son of Joseph and Mary. But some say, basing it on a tradition in the Gospel according to Peter, as it is entitled, or “The Book of James,” that the brethren of Jesus were sons of Joseph by a former wife, whom he married before Mary. Now those who say so wish to preserve the honor of Mary in virginity to the end, so that that body of hers which was appointed to minister to the Word which said, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee,” might not know intercourse with a man after that the Holy Ghost came into her and the power from on high overshadowed her. And I think it in harmony with reason that Jesus was the first-fruit among men of the purity which consists in chastity, and Mary among women; for it were not pious to ascribe to any other than to her the first-fruit of virginity. And James is he whom Paul says in the Epistle to the Galatians that he saw, “But other of the Apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother.” And to so great a reputation among the people for righteousness did this James rise, that Flavius Josephus, who wrote the “Antiquities of the Jews” in twenty books, when wishing to exhibit the cause why the people suffered so great misfortunes that even the temple was razed to the ground, said, that these things happened to them in accordance with the wrath of God in consequence of the things which they had dared to do against James the brother of Jesus who is called Christ. And the wonderful thing is, that, though he did not accept Jesus as Christ, he yet gave testimony that the righteousness of James was so great; and he says that the people thought that they had suffered these things because of James. And Jude, who wrote a letter of few lines, it is true, but filled with the healthful words of heavenly grace, said in the preface, “Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ and the brother of James.” With regard to Joseph and Simon we have nothing to tell; but the saying, “And His sisters are they not all with us.” seems to me to signify something of this nature — they mind our things, not those of Jesus, and have no unusual portion of surpassing wisdom as Jesus has. And perhaps by these things is indicated a new doubt concerning Him, that Jesus was not a man but something diviner, inasmuch as He was, as they supposed, the son of Joseph and Mary, and the brother of four, and of the others — the women — as well, and yet had nothing like to any one of His kindred, and had not from education and teaching come to such a height of wisdom and power. For they also say elsewhere, “How knoweth this man letters having never learned?” which is similar to what is here said. Only, though they say these things and are so perplexed and astonished, they did not believe, but were offended in Him; as if they had been mastered in the eyes of their mind by the powers which, in the time of the passion, He was about to lead in triumph on the cross.”Clement of Alexandria, Comments on the Epistle of Jude, init., “COMMENTS ON THE EPISTLE OF JUDE: Jude, who wrote the Catholic Epistle, the brother of the sons of Joseph, and very religious, whilst knowing the near relationship of the Lord, yet did not say that he himself was His brother. But what said he? “Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ,” — of Him as Lord; but “the brother of James.” For this is true; he was His brother, (the son) of Joseph.” Origen, Commentary on Matthew, 10. 17, commenting on Matt. 13. 55: “ …. And His brethren, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us?” They thought, then, that He was the son of Joseph and Mary. But some say, basing it on a tradition in the Gospel according to Peter, as it is entitled, or “The Book of James,” that the brethren of Jesus were sons of Joseph by a former wife, whom he married before Mary. Now those who say so wish to preserve the honor of Mary in virginity to the end, so that that body of hers which was appointed to minister to the Word which said, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee,” might not know intercourse with a man after that the Holy Ghost came into her and the power from on high overshadowed her. And I think it in harmony with reason that Jesus was the first-fruit among men of the purity which consists in chastity, and Mary among women; for it were not pious to ascribe to any other than to her the first-fruit of virginity. And James is he whom Paul says in the Epistle to the Galatians that he saw, “But other of the Apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother.” And to so great a reputation among the people for righteousness did this James rise, that Flavius Josephus, who wrote the “Antiquities of the Jews” in twenty books, when wishing to exhibit the cause why the people suffered so great misfortunes that even the temple was razed to the ground, said, that these things happened to them in accordance with the wrath of God in consequence of the things which they had dared to do against James the brother of Jesus who is called Christ. And the wonderful thing is, that, though he did not accept Jesus as Christ, he yet gave testimony that the righteousness of James was so great; and he says that the people thought that they had suffered these things because of James. And Jude, who wrote a letter of few lines, it is true, but filled with the healthful words of heavenly grace, said in the preface, “Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ and the brother of James.” With regard to Joseph and Simon we have nothing to tell; but the saying, “And His sisters are they not all with us.” seems to me to signify something of this nature — they mind our things, not those of Jesus, and have no unusual portion of surpassing wisdom as Jesus has. And perhaps by these things is indicated a new doubt concerning Him, that Jesus was not a man but something diviner, inasmuch as He was, as they supposed, the son of Joseph and Mary, and the brother of four, and of the others — the women — as well, and yet had nothing like to any one of His kindred, and had not from education and teaching come to such a height of wisdom and power. For they also say elsewhere, “How knoweth this man letters having never learned?” which is similar to what is here said. Only, though they say these things and are so perplexed and astonished, they did not believe, but were offended in Him; as if they had been mastered in the eyes of their mind by the powers which, in the time of the passion, He was about to lead in triumph on the cross.”


65. I Cor. 9. 5: “Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?” and Gal. 1. 19: “But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother.” cf. Acts 1. 14: “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.” On these brethren in their unbelieving days see Matt. 12. 46, 13. 55, Mk. 6. 3, John 2. 12, 7. 3 and 5. On James and Jude [Judas] see Matt. 13. 55: “Is not this [Jesus] the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?”


66. Eusebius, Hist. Ecc., II. xxiii: “CHAPTER 23. THE MARTYRDOM OF JAMES, WHO WAS CALLED THE BROTHER OF THE LORD. BUT after Paul, in consequence of his appeal to Caesar, had been sent to Rome by Festus, the Jews, being frustrated in their hope of entrapping him by the snares which they had laid for him, turned against James, the brother of the Lord, to whom the episcopal seat at Jerusalem had been entrusted by the apostles. The following daring measures were undertaken by them against him. Leading him into their midst they demanded of him that he should renounce faith in Christ in the presence of all the people. But, contrary to the opinion of all, with a clear voice, and with greater boldness than they had anticipated, he spoke out before the whole multitude and confessed that our Savior and Lord Jesus is the Son of God. But they were unable to bear longer the testimony of the man who, on account of the excellence of ascetic virtue and of piety which he exhibited in his life, was esteemed by all as the most just of men, and consequently they slew him. Opportunity for this deed of violence was furnished by the prevailing anarchy, which was caused by the fact that Festus had died just at this time in Judea, and that the province was thus without a governor and head. The manner of James’ death has been already indicated by the above-quoted words of Clement, who records that he was thrown from the pinnacle of the temple, and was beaten to death with a club. But Hegesippus, who lived immediately after the apostles, gives the most accurate account in the fifth book of his Memoirs. He writes as follows: “James, the brother of the Lord, succeeded to the government of the Church in conjunction with the apostles. He has been called the Just by all from the time of our Savior to the present day; for there were many that bore the name of James. He was holy from his mother’s womb; and he drank no wine nor strong drink, nor did he eat flesh. No razor came upon his head; he did not anoint himself with oil, and he did not use the bath. He alone was permitted to enter into the holy place; for he wore not woolen but linen garments. And he was in the habit of entering alone into the temple, and was frequently found upon his knees begging forgiveness for the people, so that his knees became hard like those of a camel, in consequence of his constantly bending them in his worship of God, and asking forgiveness for the people. Because of his exceeding great justice he was called the Just, and Oblias, which signifies in Greek, Bulwark of the people’ and ‘Justice,’ in accordance with what the prophets declare concerning him. Now some of the seven [Gnostic] sects, which existed among the people and which have been mentioned by me in the Memoirs, asked him, ‘What is the gate of Jesus? and he replied that he was the Savior. On account of these words some believed that Jesus is the Christ. But the sects mentioned above did not believe either in a resurrection or in one’s coming to give to every man according to his works. But as many as believed did so on account of James. Therefore when many even of the rulers believed, there was a commotion among the Jews and Scribes and Pharisees, who said that there was danger that the whole people would be looking for Jesus as the Christ. Coming therefore in a body to James they said, ‘We entreat thee, restrain the people; for they are gone astray in regard to Jesus, as if he were the Christ. We entreat thee to persuade all that have come to the feast of the Passover concerning Jesus; for we all have confidence in thee. For we bear thee witness, as do all the people, that thou art just, and dost not respect persons. Do thou therefore persuade the multitude not to be led astray concerning Jesus. For the whole people, and all of us also, have confidence in thee. Stand therefore upon the pinnacle of the temple, that from that high position thou mayest be clearly seen, and that thy words may be readily heard by all the people. For all the tribes, with the Gentiles also, are come together on account of the Passover.’ The aforesaid Scribes and Pharisees therefore placed James upon the pinnacle of the temple, and cried out to him and said: Thou just one, in whom we ought all to have confidence, forasmuch as the people are led, astray after Jesus, the crucified one, declare to us, what is the gate of Jesus.’ And he answered with a loud voice,’ Why do ye ask me concerning Jesus, the Son of Man? He himself sitteth in heaven at the right hand of the great Power, and is about to come upon the clouds of heaven.’ And when many were fully convinced and gloried in the testimony of James, and said, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David,’ these same Scribes and Pharisees said again to one another,’ We have done badly in supplying such testimony to Jesus. But let us go up and throw him down, in order that they may be afraid to believe him.’ And they cried out, saying, ‘Oh! oh! the just man is also in error.’ And they fulfilled the Scripture written in Isaiah, ‘Let us take away the just man, because he is troublesome to us: therefore they shall eat the fruit of their doings.’ So they went up and threw down the just man, and said to each other, ‘Let us stone James the Just.’ And they began to stone him, for he was not killed by the fall; but he turned and knelt down and said, ‘I entreat thee, Lord God our Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ And while they were thus stoning him one of the priests [Symeon son of Clopas, according to Epiphanius, Haer. lxxviii.14] of the sons of Rechab, the son of the Rechabites, who are mentioned by Jeremiah the prophet, cried out, saying, ‘Cease, what do ye? The just one prayeth for you. And one of them, who was a fuller, took the club with which he beat out clothes and struck the just man on the head. And thus he suffered martyrdom. And they buried him on the spot, by the temple, and his monument still remains by the temple. He became a true witness, both to Jews and Greeks, that Jesus is the Christ. And immediately Vespasian besieged them.” These things are related at length by Hegesippus, who is in agreement with Clement. James was so admirable a man and so celebrated among all for his justice, that the more sensible even of the Jews were of the opinion that this was the cause of the siege of Jerusalem, which happened to them immediately after his martyrdom for no other reason than their daring act against him. Josephus, at least, has not hesitated to testify this in his writings, where he says, “These things happened to the Jews to avenge James the Just, who was a brother of Jesus, that is called the Christ. For the Jews slew him, although he was a most just man.” And the same writer records his death also in the twentieth book of his Antiquities in the following words: “But the emperor, when he learned of the death of Festus, sent Albinus to be procurator of Judea. But the younger Ananus, who, as we have already said, had obtained the high priesthood, was of an exceedingly bold and reckless disposition. He belonged, moreover, to the sect of the Sadducees, who are the most cruel of all the Jews in the execution of judgment, as we have already shown. Ananus, therefore, being of this character, and supposing that he had a favorable opportunity on account of the fact that Festus was dead, and Albinus was still on the way, called together the Sanhedrin, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, the so-called Christ, James by name, together with some others, and accused them of violating the law, and condemned them to be stoned. But those in the city who seemed most moderate and skilled in the law were very angry at this, and sent secretly to the king, requesting him to order Ananus to cease such proceedings. For he had not done right even this first time. And certain of them also went to meet Albinus, who was journeying from Alexandria, and reminded him that it was not lawful for Ananus to summon the Sanhedrin without his knowledge. And Albinus, being persuaded by their representations, wrote in anger to Ananus, threatening him with punishment. And the king, Agrippa, in consequence, deprived him, of the high priesthood, which he had held three months, and appointed Jesus, the son of Damnaeus.” These things are recorded in regard to James, who is said to be the author of the first of the so-called catholic epistles”.


67. Eusebius, Hist. Ecc., III. xi: “AFTER the martyrdom of James and the conquest of Jerusalem which immediately followed, it is said that those of the apostles and disciples of the Lord that were still living came together from all directions with those that were related to the Lord according to the flesh (for the majority of them also were still alive) to take counsel as to who was worthy to succeed James. They all with one consent pronounced Symeon, the son of Clopas, of whom the Gospel also makes mention; to be worthy of the episcopal throne of that parish. He was a cousin, as they say, of the Savior. For Hegesippus records that Clopas was a brother of Joseph.”


68. Eusebius Hist. Ecc. IV. xxii. 4-6: “And after James the Just had suffered martyrdom [AD 62], as the Lord had also on the same account, Symeon, the son of the Lord’s uncle, Clopas, was appointed the next bishop. All proposed him as second bishop because he was a cousin of the Lord. “Therefore, they called the Church a virgin, for it was not yet corrupted by vain discourses. But Thebuthis, because he was not made bishop, began to corrupt it from the seven sects among the people, amongst whose numbers he was included, (namely) from those who included Simon, from whom came Simonians, and Cleobius, from whom came Cleobians, and Dositheus, from whom came Dositheans, and Gorthaeus, from whom came Goratheni, and Masbothaeans {five sects are named here out of the seven that existed in the time of James and were the source of errors introduced by Thebuthis into the virgin Church}. From these sprang the Menandrianists, and Marcionists, and Carpocratians, and Valentinians, and Basilidians, and Saturnilians. Each introduced privately and separately his own peculiar opinion. From them came false Christs, false prophets, false apostles, who divided the unity of the Church by corrupt doctrines uttered against God and against his Christ.”


69. Tertullian, Praescrip. Haer. 36: “How happy is that church, on which apostles poured forth all their doctrine along with their blood, in that location where Peter endures a passion like his Lord’s, in that location where Paul wins his crown in a death like John’s, in that location where the Apostle John was first plunged, unhurt, into boiling oil, and thence remitted to his island-exile!”


70. John 21. 22.


71. Rev. 1. 9. These or similar words are used several times in the Book of Revelation: 1. 6: the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ; 6. 9: the Word of God and the testimony which they (the souls under the altar) held; 12. 17: the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ; 14. 12: the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus; 20. 4: the witness (same word as testimony) of Jesus and the Word of God. All of these but one are used in a context of persecution. On two occasions the “commandments of God” stand in place of “the Word of God”, confirming that the reference in this part of the phrase is solely or principally to the Old Testament scriptures. As regards the other part of the phrase, the testimony of Jesus, John himself uses the word “testify” (the same word in Greek) of his written account of the Gospel of Jesus (John 21. 24). Now, the major theme of the Book of Revelation (chapters 4-8 and 22) is the Sealed Book — a symbol which represents the finality, the authority and the completeness of the Word of God (all those ideas being encompassed in the symbol of the Seal). The completeness and finality of the Word is also reflected in the phrases under consideration here, inasmuch as in them the Old Testament revelation is paired with and complemented by the New Testament testimony of Jesus. That completeness and finality is asserted very firmly at the end of the book with a curse on any who would venture to add or take away even a single word from it (Rev. 22. 19). Note further that it is the bloody Lamb (persecuted and crucified Son) who claims and unseals (reveals) that Word. All these themes echo the visions in Daniel relating to the Sealed Book (Dan 7 and 12), which the persecuted “wise” alone will understand (Dan. 12. 9-10). John himself truly was persecuted for the sake of the completeness of the revealed Word, rejecting that separation of the Old Testament scriptures from the testimony of Jesus for which the Gnostic heretics were agitating.


72. See Romans 16. 13. This phrase “his [Rufus’] mother and mine” is most likely the origin of the belief that the biblical Timothy, called Paul’s (spiritual) son (I Tim. 1. 18) was a member of the household, or otherwise a son, of Pudens. For, according to Romans 16. 13 Pudens (Rufus) and Paul were both “sons” of Priscilla (the former literally and the latter spiritually), whilst Timothy was a “son” (spiritual) of Paul. Hence Timothy might be deemed a “son”, or strictly a “nephew”, of Pudens.


73. I Clement, 47.7: “It is disgraceful, beloved, yea, highly disgraceful, and unworthy of your Christian profession, that such a thing should be heard of as that the most steadfast and ancient Church of the Corinthians should, on account of one or two persons, engage in sedition against its presbyters. And this rumor has reached not only us, but those also who are of the opposite, hypocritical, party from us [Gk. tous ‘eteroklineis ‘uparchontas aph’ ‘êmôn, lit. “those who are inclined in the opposite way from us”: the adverb ‘eteroklinôs is used in the LXX I Chron. 12. 34 (EVV. 33) to translate the Hebrew expression lev va-lev, lit. “heart and heart”, meaning “double-minded”, “hypocritical”, “feigning adherence or support”]; so that, through your infatuation, the name of the Lord is blasphemed, while danger is also brought upon yourselves.”


74. Shepherd of Hermas VIS. III. ix. 9: “Take heed, therefore, children, that these dissensions of yours do not deprive you of your life. How will you instruct the elect of the Lord, if you yourselves have not instruction? Instruct each other therefore, and be at peace among yourselves, that I also, standing joyful before your Father, may give an account of you all to your Lord.”


75. I Clement, 1. 1, 5-6, 7. 1: “CHAPTER 1 …. Owing, dear brethren, to the sudden and successive calamitous events which have happened to ourselves, we feel that we have been somewhat tardy in turning our attention to the points respecting which you consulted us; and especially to that shameful and detestable sedition, utterly abhorrent to the elect of God …. CHAPTER 5 But not to dwell upon ancient examples, let us come to the most recent spiritual heroes. Let us take the noble examples furnished in our own generation. Through envy and jealousy, the greatest and most righteous pillars [of the Church] have been persecuted and put to death. Let us set before our eyes the illustrious apostles. Peter, through unrighteous envy, endured not one or two, but numerous labors, and when he had at length suffered martyrdom, departed to the place of glory due to him. Owing to envy, Paul also obtained the reward of patient endurance, after being seven times thrown into captivity, compelled to flee, and stoned. After preaching both in the east and west, he gained the illustrious reputation due to his faith, having taught righteousness to the whole world, and come to the extreme limit of the west, and suffered martyrdom under the prefects. Thus was he removed from the world, and went into the holy place, having proved himself a striking example of patience. CHAPTER 6 To these men who spent their lives in the practice of holiness, there is to be added a great multitude of the elect, who, having through envy endured many indignities and tortures, furnished us with a most excellent example. Through envy, those women, the Danaids and Dircae, being persecuted, after they had suffered terrible and unspeakable torments, finished the course of their faith with steadfastness, and though weak in body, received a noble reward. Envy has alienated wives from their husbands, and changed that saying of our father Adam, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh.” Envy and strife have overthrown great cities and rooted up mighty nations. 19 CHAPTER 7 AN EXHORTATION TO REPENTANCE These things, beloved, we write unto you, not merely to admonish you of your duty, but also to remind ourselves. For we are struggling on the same arena, and the same conflict is assigned to both of us.”


76. Eusebius, Hist. Ecc., III. xxxii: “SYMEON, BISHOP OF JERUSALEM, SUFFERS MARTYRDOM. IT is reported that after the age of Nero and Domitian, under the emperor whose times we are now recording, a persecution was stirred up against us in certain cities in consequence of a popular uprising. In this persecution we have understood that Symeon, the son of Clopas, who, as we have shown, was the second bishop of the church of Jerusalem, suffered martyrdom. Hegesippus, whose words we have already quoted in various places, is a witness to this fact also. Speaking of certain heretics he adds that Symeon was accused by them at this time; and since it was clear that he was a Christian, he was tortured in various ways for many days, and astonished even the judge himself and his attendants in the highest degree, and finally he suffered a death similar to that of our Lord. But there is nothing like hearing the historian himself, who writes as follows: “Certain of these heretics brought accusation against Symeon, the son of Clopas, on the ground that he was a descendant of David and a Christian; and thus he suffered martyrdom, at the age of one hundred and twenty years, while Trajan was emperor and Atticus governor” And the same writer says that his accusers also, when search was made for the descendants of David, were arrested as belonging to that family. And it might be reasonably assumed that Symeon was one of those that saw and heard the Lord, judging from the length of his life, and from the fact that the Gospel makes mention of Mary, the wife of Clopas, who was the father of Symeon, as has been already shown. The same historian says that there were also others, descended from one of the so-called brothers of the Savior, whose name was Judas, who, after they had born testimony before Domitian, as has been already recorded, in behalf of faith in Christ, lived until the same reign. He writes as follows: “They came, therefore, and took the lead of every church as witness and as relatives of the Lord. And profound peace being established in every church, they remained until the reign of the Emperor Trajan, and until the above-mentioned Symeon, son of Clopas, an uncle of the Lord, was informed against by the heretics, and was himself in like manner accused for the same cause before the governor Atticus. And after being tortured for many days he suffered martyrdom, and all, including even the proconsul, marveled that, at the age of one hundred and twenty years, he could endure so much. And orders were given that he should be crucified.” In addition to these things the same man, while recounting the events of that period, records that the Church up to that time had remained a pure and uncorrupted virgin, since, if there were any that attempted to corrupt the sound norm of the preaching of salvation, they lay until then concealed in obscure darkness. But when the sacred college of apostles had suffered death in various forms, and the generation of those that had been deemed worthy to hear the inspired wisdom with their own ears had passed away, then the league of godless error took its rise as a result of the folly of heretical teachers, who, because none of the apostles was still living, attempted henceforth, with a bold face, to proclaim, in opposition to the preaching of the truth, the ‘knowledge which is falsely so-called.’ CHAPTER 33. TRAJAN FORBIDS THE CHRISTIANS TO BE SOUGHT AFTER. SO great a persecution was at that time opened against us in many places that Plinius Secundus, one of the most noted of governors, being disturbed by the great number of martyrs, communicated with the emperor concerning the multitude of those that were put to death for their faith. At the same time, he informed him in his communication that he had not heard of their doing anything profane or contrary to the laws, — except that they arose at dawn and sang hymns to Christ as a God; but that they renounced adultery and murder and like criminal offenses, and did all things in accordance with the laws. In reply to this Trajan made the following decree: that the race of Christians should not be sought after, but when found should be punished. On account of this the persecution which had threatened to be a most terrible one was to a certain degree checked, but there were still left plenty of pretexts for those who wished to do us harm. Sometimes the people, sometimes the rulers in various places, would lay plots against us, so that, although no great persecutions took place, local persecutions were nevertheless going on in particular provinces, and many of the faithful endured martyrdom in various forms. We have taken our account from the Latin Apology of Tertullian which we mentioned above. The translation runs as follows: “And indeed we have found that search for us has been forbidden. For when Plinius Secundus, the governor of a province, had condemned certain Christians and deprived them of their dignity, he was confounded by the multitude, and was uncertain what further course to pursue. He therefore communicated with Trajan the emperor, informing him that, aside from their unwillingness to sacrifice, he had found no impiety in them. And he reported this also, that the Christians arose early in the morning and sang hymns unto Christ as a God, and for the purpose of preserving their discipline forbade murder, adultery, avarice, robbery, and the like. In reply to this Trajan wrote that the race of Christians should not be sought after, but when found should be punished.” Such were the events which took place at that time …. CHAPTER 35. JUSTUS, THE THIRD BISHOP OF` JERUSALEM. BUT when Symeon also had died in the manner described, a certain Jew by the name of Justus succeeded to the episcopal throne in Jerusalem. He was one of the many thousands of the circumcision who at that time believed in Christ. CHAPTER 36. IGNATIUS AND HIS EPISTLES. AT that time Polycarp, a disciple of the apostles, was a man of eminence in Asia, having been entrusted with the episcopate of the church of Smyrna by those who had seen and heard the Lord. And at the same time Papias, bishop of the parish of Hierapolis, became well known, as did also Ignatius, who was chosen bishop of Antioch, second in succession to Peter, and whose fame is still celebrated by a great many. Report says that he was sent from Syria to Rome, and became food for wild beasts on account of his testimony to Christ. And as he made the journey through Asia under the strictest military surveillance, he fortified the parishes in the various cities where he stopped by oral homilies and exhortations, and warned them above all to be especially on their guard against the heresies that were then beginning to prevail, and exhorted them to hold fast to the tradition of the apostles. Moreover, he thought it necessary to attest that tradition in writing, and to give it a fixed form for the sake of greater security. So when he came to Smyrna, where Polycarp was, he wrote an epistle to the church of Ephesus, in which he mentions Onesimus, its pastor; and another to the church of Magnesia, situated upon the Maeander, in which he makes mention again of a bishop Damas; and finally one to the church of Tralles, whose bishop, he states, was at that time Polybius. In addition to these he wrote also to the church of Rome, entreating them not to secure his release from martyrdom, and thus rob him of his earnest hope. In confirmation of what has been said it is proper to quote briefly from this epistle. He writes as follows: “From Syria even unto Rome I fight with wild beasts, by land and by sea, by night and by day, being bound amidst ten leopards? that is, a company of soldiers who only become worse when they are well treated. In the midst of their wrongdoings, however, I am more fully learning discipleship, but I am not thereby justified. May I have joy of the beasts that are prepared for me; and I pray that I may find them ready; I will even coax them to devour me quickly that they may not treat me as they have some whom they have refused to touch through fear. And if they are unwilling, I will compel them. Forgive me. I know what is expedient for me. Now do I begin to be a disciple. May naught of things visible and things invisible envy me; that I may attain unto Jesus Christ. Let fire and cross and attacks of wild beasts, let wrenching of bones, cutting of limbs, crushing of the whole body, tortures of the devil, — let all these come upon me if only I may attain unto Jesus Christ.” These things he wrote from the above-mentioned city to the churches referred to. And when he had left Smyrna he wrote again from Troas to the Philadelphians and to the church of Smyrna; and particularly to Polycarp, who presided over the latter church. And since he knew him well as an apostolic man, he commended to him, like a true and good shepherd, the flock at Antioch, and besought him to care diligently for it. And the same man, writing to the Smyrnaeans, used the following words concerning Christ, taken I know not whence: “But I know and believe that he was in the flesh after the resurrection. And when he came to Peter and his companions he said to them, Take, handle me, and see that I am not an incorporeal spirit. And immediately they touched him and believed.” Irenaeus also knew of his martyrdom and mentions his epistles in the following words: “As one of our people said, when he was condemned to the beasts on account of his testimony unto God, I am God’s wheat, and by the teeth of wild beasts am I ground, that I may be found pure bread.” Polycarp also mentions these letters in the epistle to the Philippians which is ascribed to him. His words are as follows: “I exhort all of you, therefore, to be obedient and to practice all patience such as ye saw with your own eyes not only in the blessed Ignatius and Rufus and Zosimus, but also in others from among yourselves as well as in Paul himself and the rest of the apostles; being persuaded that all these ran not in vain, but in faith and righteousness, and that they are gone to their rightful place beside the Lord, with whom also they suffered. For they loved not the present world, but him that died for our sakes and was raised by God for us.” And afterwards he adds: “You have written to me, both you and Ignatius, that if any one go to Syria he may carry with him the letters from you. And this I will do if I have a suitable opportunity, either I myself or one whom I send to be an ambassador for you also. The epistles of Ignatius which were sent to us by him and the others which we had with us we sent to you as you gave charge. They are appended to this epistle, and from them you will be able to derive great advantage. For they comprise faith and patience, and every kind of edification that pertaineth to our Lord.” So much concerning Ignatius. But he was succeeded by Heros in the episcopate of the church of Antioch.”


77. John 19. 25.


78. The Council of Ephesus (AD 431) which declared Mary Theotokos described itself as meeting “in the [city] of the Ephesians, where John the divine and the holy Virgin Mary, the Theotokos, [had been]” (Schwartz, Acta Conciliorum Oecumenicorum, I. ii [Berlin/Leipzig, 1927], p. 70).


79. Luke 24. 18.


80. Pliny, Letters 10. 96 (about AD 112): “To the Emperor Trajan:  It is a rule, Sir, which I inviolably observe, to refer myself to you in all my doubts; for who is more capable of guiding my uncertainty or informing my ignorance? Having never been present at any trials of the Christians, I am unacquainted with the method and limits to be observed either in examining or punishing them. Whether any difference is to be made on account of age, or no distinction allowed between the youngest and the adult; whether repentance admits to a pardon, or if a man has been once a Christian it avails him nothing to recant; whether the mere profession of Christianity, albeit without crimes, or only the crimes associated therewith are punishable — in all these points I am greatly doubtful. In the meanwhile, the method I have observed towards those who have been denounced to me as Christians is this: I interrogated them whether they were Christians; if they confessed it I repeated the question twice again, adding the threat of capital punishment; if they still persevered, I ordered them to be executed. For whatever the nature of their creed might be, I could at least feel no doubt that contumacy and inflexible obstinacy deserved chastisement. There were others also possessed with the same infatuation, but being citizens of Rome, I directed them to be carried thither. These accusations spread (as is usually the case) from the mere fact of the matter being investigated and several forms of the mischief came to light. A placard was put up, without any signature, accusing a large number of persons by name. Those who denied they were, or ever had been, Christians, who repeated after me an invocation to the gods, and offered adoration, with wine and frankincense, to your image, which I had ordered to be brought for that purpose, together with those of the gods, and who finally cursed Christ — none of which acts, it is said, those who are really Christians can be forced into performing — these I thought it proper to discharge. Others who were named by that informer at first confessed themselves Christian, and then denied it. True, they had been of that persuasion but they had quitted it, some three years, others many years, and a few as much as twenty-five years ago. They all worshiped your statue and the images of the gods, and cursed Christ. They affirmed, however, the whole of their guilt, or their error, was, that they were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of food — but food of an ordinary and innocent kind. Even this practice, however, they had abandoned after the publication of my edict, by which, according to your orders, I had forbidden political associations. I judged it so much the more necessary to extract the real truth, with the assistance of torture, from two female slaves, who were styled deaconnesses: but I could discover nothing more than depraved and excessive superstition. I therefore adjourned the proceedings, and betook myself at once to your counsel. For the matter seemed to me well worth referring to you, — especially considering the numbers endangered. Persons of all ranks and ages, and of both sexes, are, and will be, involved in the prosecution. For this contagious superstition is not confined to the cities only, but has spread through the villages and rural districts; it seems possible, however, to check and cure it. ‘Tis certain at least that the temples, which had been almost deserted, begin now to be frequented; and the sacred festivals, after a long intermission, are again revived; while there is a general demand for sacrificial animals, which for some time past have met with but few purchasers. From hence it is easy to imagine what multitudes may be reclaimed from this error, if a door be left open to repentance.”


81. Trajan’s Reply to Pliny Pliny, Letters 10. 97: “To Pliny: The method you have pursued, my dear Pliny, in sifting the cases of those denounced to you as Christians is extremely proper. It is not possible to lay down any general rule which can be applied as the fixed standard in all cases of this nature. No search should be made for these people; when they are denounced and found guilty they must be punished; with the restriction, however, that when the party denies himself to be a Christian, and shall give proof that he is not (that is, by adoring our gods) he shall be pardoned on the ground of repentance, even though he may have formerly incurred suspicion. Informations without the accuser’s name subscribed must not be admitted in evidence against anyone, as it is introducing a very dangerous precedent, and by no means agreeable to the spirit of the age.”


82. Hegesippus in Eusebius, Hist. Ecc. III. xxxii. 7-8: “In addition to these things the same man [Hegesippus], while recounting the events of that period [the martyrdom of Symeon son of Clopas in the reign of Trajan c. AD 107], records that the Church up to that time had remained a pure and uncorrupted virgin, since, if there were any that attempted to corrupt the sound norm of the preaching of salvation, they lay until then concealed in obscure darkness. But when the sacred college of apostles had suffered death in various forms, and the generation of those that had been deemed worthy to hear the inspired wisdom with their own ears had passed away, then the league of godless error took its rise as a result of the folly of heretical teachers, who, because none of the apostles was still living, attempted henceforth, with a bold face, to proclaim, in opposition to the preaching of the truth, the ‘knowledge which is falsely so-called.’”


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