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6. The Gnostic School Becomes a “Catholic Church” — Bishops Sixtus To Anicetus (§§45-59)

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6. The Gnostic School Becomes a “Catholic Church” — Bishops Sixtus To Anicetus (§§45-59)



45. The dangers were soon realized. Within the lifetime of Clement, and in the face of his pastoral devotion to the flock, one of the elders ordained by the Bible-believing bishops of Rome crossed over to the Gnostic school founded by Simon Magus. His name was Sixtus. He is the first bishop recorded as having headed the Gnostic school83 (now counted as a church because it had a bishop to lead it). It is probable that the geographical proximity between the two groups, at the Vicus Patricius and the Vicus Lateranus in the Subura, about one third of a Roman mile apart, facilitated fellowship between interested parties on both sides. Sixtus is said by later writers to have been the author of a book called The Sentences, which has no Christian element whatsoever, and is simply a rehash of half-understood, Pythagorean, pagan Greek philosophy. With that kind of interest it is no wonder that Sixtus gravitated towards the Gnostic pseudo-philosophical circle on the Vicus Lateranus. Also, according to the Book of Popes, a late and legendary source, but one which preserves some genuine historical nuggets, Sixtus was a son of one “Pastor”. This name “Pastor” (the Shepherd) was commonly given to the prophet Hermas, and it is likely that it is Hermas who is intended here, as he seems to have lived on into the first few decades of the second century AD. Now, we know from Hermas’ own book that his sons and other members of his family and church had neglected their Christian duties, and that the seriousness of the situation warranted the intervention of a heavenly messenger to warn Hermas to attend to his family, as well as to himself and to his fellow ministerial brethren. In the apostasy of Sixtus, son of “Pastor”, we may see the consequences of a failure to repent on the part of at least one of his family, and Sixtus also happened to be an elder of the church. Confirming this suggestion is the evidence outlined hereafter that Hermas’ brother, Pius, like Sixtus an elder of the church, was similarly drawn into the Gnostic net.


45a. Probably the end was believed by some of the Roman Christians to justify the means. Ignatius had held up the bishops as the antidote to heresy: would not this Gnostic school only benefit by a pastor like those of the faithful Christian congregations? In any case, the Gnostics seemed genuinely interested in incorporating elements of the tradition handed down from the Apostles in their own school’s doctrines. Here was an example of mutual reconciliation: the Gnostics were no longer rejecting the leadership of the Bible-believers and their Jewish brethren — they were accepting it. But a little leaven leavens the lump. It was not the bishop who had won over the Gnostics, it was the Gnostics who had won over the bishop. The (magical) rituals of the Gnostics had to be maintained. The new bishops had to drop their Jewish Passover customs and accept those of the Gnostics84. The true believers did as Paul had said and KEPT AWAY from the heretics (and the farther the better). The Apostle John had famously fled from a bathhouse85 when he knew a Gnostic heretic was inside, crying out to his brethren that they should get out with him in case the roof fell in for the blasphemy uttered within its walls. Sixtus, on the contrary, had now become the first of a line of bishops who FELLOWSHIPED WITH the heretics, and actually TOOK THEM UNDER PASTORAL SUPERVISION. They also attempted to obviate their disfellowshiping by usurping the rights of the Bible-believing pastors in other churches where the original Jewish Passover customs prevailed: they reserved a part of their eucharistic bread and sent fragments of it to sympathetic individuals in these other assemblies86: they thus established a sort of supercommunion which ignored the existing (and sacred) pastoral boundaries. This was the beginning of Papal supremacy. It was also the beginning of the custom of leaving a portion of the Eucharist in the church building as an object of worship.

46. Sixtus and his successors were not the only ones in Rome to be corrupted. Even a great scholar like Tatian87, the disciple of the renowned Bible-teacher Justin, was polluted with Gnostic error in the middle years of the second century AD. So was Pastor Florinus88, who had been a hearer in his youth of Polycarp, the grand old disciple of John the Apostle89. The more intellectual Christian leaders, particularly, seemed attracted to the pseudoscientific theology of the Gnostic gurus. They began to despise the simple, humble, spiritual Christianity of the Bible-believing majority. The latter were called the “Catholic Church”, meaning those who, wherever they existed “throughout the world” (“Catholic” = “worldwide”, “universal”), bore witness to the same Holy Ghost religion preached by the Apostles on the Day of Pentecost. The Catholics were universal also in the sense that they encompassed within their communion both Jew and gentile. The Messianic Jews who honored the Law of Moses as members of the nation of Israel were a significant body in the true Catholic Church. But the pressure on Christians in Rome, particularly during the reign of Trajan, when the Jews were in disfavor with the authorities, was to spurn the Jewish Christians and make a clear separation between Church and Synagogue. The Gnostic school was an already-existing, nominally Christian, body which abhorred Judaism, had actually played a major role in the imperial policy of persecution of the House of David, and was ready to welcome compromised believers from the Bible-believing Catholic communion. Those who wanted to be popular with the Roman authorities found a peaceful home in the school of Cerdon.

47. In the intervening years the Gnostic school was busy consolidating its political position with the Roman authorities by informing against the Jewish leadership of the Bible-believers. “Father” Simon was followed by “Father” Cerdon. By that time90, Sixtus, ordained by Alexander, the overseer of what used to be Clement’s congregation, had apostatized and became the episcopal head of the Gnostic school. Cerdon took a back seat, though evidently an influential back seat, and claimed he had “joined the Church”91. Transformed into the leader of a heretical sect, Sixtus could still boast of his episcopal succession from the Apostles. He had been ordained by bishop Alexander, Alexander by Evaristus and Evaristus by Clement, and so on back to Linus and the Apostles. But that was before he had apostatized. It in no way authorized his apostasy into Gnosticism. He had now abandoned the true Faith and, with it, all claims he may have once had to be a true elder and bishop. Only those who viewed ordination as some kind of magical rite would imagine that Sixtus was still, after his apostasy, a validly ordained minister of the Gospel. Yet that is precisely how the Gnostic school on the Vicus Lateranus viewed him. Sixtus was actually its bishop even back in the days of Nero, when Paul was martyred92. Thus the “apostolic succession” of Sixtus and the “apostolic” trend of his doctrine could be asserted without reference to the letter of Clement, which proved the opposite. In practice, the relationship between the new bishops of the First Church, Sixtus and his immediate successors, and the heretical teachers, who continued to inspire it doctrinally, was similar to the political relationship between a constitutional head of state, who has no actual power, and a prime minister, who runs the day-to-day business of government. Real power rested in the hands of the heretical teachers, Cerdon and his successor, Marcion.

48. According to an early Church tradition preserved by Epiphanius of Salamis93 Marcion was an immigrant to Rome from Pontus in Turkey, who had once professed to be an ascetic — a man eschewing the luxuries of the world in the service of Jesus — but had failed to live up to his calling. He had been excommunicated from his own Bible-believing Church in his homeland of Pontus, the pastor of which was his own father, because he had had an immoral relationship with an unmarried girl in the congregation. When he arrived in Rome, he first attempted to join the Bible-believing assembly in the city. They discovered the skeleton in his cupboard and refused him communion. He then crossed over to Cerdon’s sect. He had no trouble joining that group! Now he had doctrinal justification for his separation from the Bible-believers. He challenged the elders of the Bible-believing assembly to answer the Gnostic problems Cerdon had, to his own satisfaction, solved. They declined to enter into the fruitless debate, and Marcion gloated in his new role of Gnostic theologian, guru and speculator. After Cerdon’s death, he became head of Cerdon’s school. His ambition proved his undoing, however. In the meantime Cerdon’s sect had become a “church” under the supervision of bishops, the “First Church of Rome”. Marcion’s ever-restless curiosity and doctrinal speculating finally brought him into conflict with the latter-day, increasingly ambitious and strong-willed, bishops of the First Church. He was excommunicated. He then established a Gnostic church of his own. This prospered and spread abroad, surviving for hundreds of years in the East.

49. Following in the footsteps of Sixtus, another elder from the Bible-believing group, called Pius, crossed over to the Gnostics. Sixtus, seemingly, was the son, and Pius the brother (more likely “spiritual brother” see footnote 95 §5 below), of the prophet Hermas. It was a feud as bitter and as dangerous in its consequences as that between Cain and Abel. Pius had at one time ministered in the house of Pudens (Linus’ friend)94, where Clement’s group assembled for meetings. This ancient house-church95 (ecclesia domestica), to which we have already frequently referred, the mother of the godly Christians of Rome, and traditionally the mother of the British Church96 as well, can still be seen on the Viminal Hill. It is known as “Santa Pudenziana”. There were Roman baths in the building, called the Baths of Novatus or “the Timothinian Baths” which provided a hall sufficient for the meetings; they were so named from Novatus and Timothy, two Christian brothers associated with Pudens (some call them his sons), and this Timothy was anciently identified with Paul’s beloved disciple. The house was later titled “Saint Pudentiana” (Santa Pudenziana), or “Saint Potentiana”, after one of Pudens’ daughters. She is variously named Potentiana or Pudentiana in the old records and her sister was called Praxedes. Members of this family were buried in the Catacomb of Priscilla on the Via Salaria outside the walls of the city. This was the cemetery for the earliest Bible-believing Catholics of Rome, founded, according to tradition, by Pudens’ noble Christian mother Priscilla — a different woman from Priscilla the wife of Aquila, but probably a member of the same Roman household. Inscriptions and frescoes from that primitive era can still be seen there today.

50. The same house-church was known when it met at an earlier period in the house of Pudens himself on the Vicus Patricius, rather than in the hall of the immediately neighboring Baths of Novatus, as the “Church of the Shepherd”. The Shepherd was Pastor Hermas, though the name also referred to his angelic visitor. The Gnostic meeting-place on the Vicus Lateranus was named “Praxedes”, today Santa Prassede, after Pudens’ other daughter, thus falsely associating the Gnostic church with the Bible-believing Catholic fellowship on the Vicus Patricius named after Potentiana. The property itself on the Vicus Lateranus, a mere third of a Roman mile or so away from that on the Vicus Patricius, does seem also at one time actually to have been in the possession of Pudens’ family, and this would justify the use by its new occupants of the deliberately confusing title “Praxedes.” Pius now constituted the church on the Lateranus as the official “House-church of Rome” (Latin: titulus Romanus). He was claiming, in effect, to be the sole legitimate successor of the line of Bible-believing elders at Pudens’ house-church before Sixtus. The only real spiritual connection was that the heretical group on the Vicus Lateranus seems to have originally been founded by Junia and Andronicus who later, after its fall into heresy, separated from it and became the apostles of the fellowship to which Pudens belonged and which at some subsequent time assembled in Pudens’ house on the Vicus Patricius.




The Apse mosaic in Santa Pudenziana Rome, c. AD 410-417, showing Christ as the “Preserver of the Church of Pudens” and two female figures, one crowning an Apostle beneath the Bull cherub, and the other crowning an Apostle, who is holding Matthew’s Gospel in his hand, beneath the Lion cherub, and other Apostles seated alongside them. What appears to be the Upper Room (the “Cenacle”) at Jerusalem is located over the head of the female figure on the right, indicating the original Church in Rome was founded from the Pentecostal assembly in the Upper Room under the direction of Peter, though the Christian fellowship later moved to Pudens’ house-church when the original group apostatized. The Gospel of Matthew was that used by Paul when he founded the fellowship at Pudens’ House, hence Christ points to the Apostle holding Matthew’s Gospel.

On the connection of the Gospel of Matthew with the Hebrew Christians in Rome and with the martyrdom (“crowning”) of Peter and Paul, see Appendix 6, section [2], and ibid., Secondary Quotations (4).



51. Pius’ apostasy and betrayal of the godly believers at Santa Pudenziana brought him what he lacked in their humble company, namely, worldly acclaim and social advancement: he was, at any rate, promoted to become the bishop of the apostate Gnostic church at an advanced age. One of the most infamous Gnostic heretics, Valentinus, like his fellow church-member, Marcion, “flourished” under the ministry of Pius97. Meanwhile, the true Catholic church at the Baths of Novatus and Timothy (Santa Pudenziana) continued to meet during the lifetime of Pudens’ daughters, under the pastorship of the old prophet, Hermas (commonly called simply “Pastor”) in the first few decades of the second century AD98. Shortly thereafter it was blessed with the presence of the Bible-teachers Hegesippus and Justin, and the house-church in the latter’s time was under the authority of a brother called Martinus, the son, it appears, of a freedman of Timothy. The succession of bishops at Santa Pudenziana seems actually to have been under the guiding hand of Hegesippus99, who was a Messianic Jew, and a transmitter of the most authentic, Apostolic, teaching of the early Church. He traveled all the way to Rome from the East to help deal with these ecclesiastical problems in Rome. As for Justin, he states clearly that he recognized no Christian, true Catholic, assembly in the city, except for the one that met at the Timothinian Baths (Santa Pudenziana), both in his first sojourn in Rome (not dated but within about a decade of AD 135) and in his second, at the end of which he was brought to trial in the reign of Marcus Aurelius (AD 161-180)100. The other Bible-believing house-church at Santa Prisca had long ceased to operate: Aquila and Priscilla had moved to Ephesus, on the evidence of Paul’s last letter to Timothy, way back in the 60s of the first century AD. The only other church known to have existed within the city walls of Rome in Justin’s time was the Gnostic meeting at Santa Prassede and that, of course, did not count as Christian in Justin’s estimation.

52. Justin himself was a Christian philosopher by profession. He had been converted before AD 135 in the East and had witnessed to Christ boldly and with great erudition in the city of Ephesus, before he journeyed to Rome, having fellowshiped in the circle of the disciples of the Apostle John. The Church he attended in Rome was very different from the philosophical school on the Vicus Lateranus, though one might have expected him, as a professional philosopher, to tend in that direction. No, his house-church at the Timothinian Baths was on fire for God. The Romans witnessed under its anointed ministry healing miracles and many cases of deliverance from demons101. This was the vindication of true Catholic teaching: signs of the presence of the resurrected Savior followed the preaching of the Word.

53. However, the rival Gnostic school of Sixtus and Pius at Santa Prassede soon began to call itself a “Catholic” church, in fact, “THE Catholic Church”. It boasted of its line of bishops, going back to the Apostles, Peter and Paul. In this sense only, and that an illegitimate one, could it claim apostolic origin, in the sense that Linus, the first in the line of overseers before Sixtus, had been ordained by apostles. If this so-called “Catholic” church was reproached with having heretical doctrine and ritual, which were innovations of the Gnostics, it emphasized that it was the OLDEST, ORIGINAL and FIRST Church of Rome. And indeed, IT WAS THE FIRST CHURCH OF ROME — it was the original Pentecostal church that had backslidden into Gentile paganism in the days of Claudius.

54. Now, the bishops of this First Church of Rome started to call themselves “Father”, the title inherited from its Gnostic founders. This was a pagan, not a Christian, practice, since Jesus had specifically forbidden any Christian leader to be addressed as “Father”. To describe a person as a “father”, either in a genetic or a spiritual sense, was permissible (Romans 9. 5, I Corinthians 4. 15), but for one Christian brother to address another by that title, thus making a hierarchic separation as of an inferior to a superior between himself and the addressee, was forbidden. Jesus required communion to be on an equal footing between all members of the brotherhood. God alone could be addressed as “Father”, Christ alone as “Master” or “Rabbi”. (Matthew 23. 8-10.) The bishops of the First Church ignored this strict injunction. At the same time they became as particular as the Gnostic teachers in the congregation about ceremonies and rituals. The rituals were treated like magical rites; they had to be performed in a certain way, at a certain time, in a certain state of ritual purity. One of their most important celebrations was a spring festival which they called “Passover” preceded by a (Lenten) fast which Tertullian — a former member of the First Church of Rome — admitted to be essentially the same as in the cult of the Great Mother Goddess102 (called Cybele, Isis, Astarte etc. by the Romans). Tertullian claimed that this kind of paganizing ritual fast was condemned only coincidentally and not intentionally by the Apostle Paul, in his denunciation of those who commanded “to abstain from meats” (I Timothy 4. 3), because his ire was really directed against Jewish fasting of the Mosaic Law. On this interpretation, Jewish fasting was forbidden, paganizing (Montanist) fasting was permissible! The anti-Semitic motive here shines through. Centuries later the so-called Christian spring festival was given the name “Easter” by the English-speaking peoples, from one of the Mother Goddess’ English names, “Eostre”103. The First Church of Rome thoroughly despised the scriptural, Jewish Passover celebration — an aversion explicable in the light of their anti-Judaic Samaritan origins — even though the Apostles themselves, being Jews by nationality, had celebrated the Passover in the Jewish manner, and so did their Jewish disciples. It was still the practice in the Bible-believing Catholic Church, and amongst its Gentile members, to celebrate a memorial of the Lord’s death at the time that the Jews celebrated the Passover. Even this timing was condemned by the First Church of Rome. To be efficacious, in their view, the festival must be performed in the correct (magical) manner, at precisely the right time of year. In any case, the First Church of Rome wanted nothing to do with Judaism, and the same anti-Semitic spirit has persisted to this day.

55. If there was ever any illusion that the placement of Sixtus or Pius, ordinands of the Catholic Bible-believers, at the head of this group would bring it back to God, that illusion was soon shattered. It actually served to reinforce their obstinacy and false sense of superiority. New and more virulent Gnostic teachers were attracted to this unusual “Catholic” church. Valentinus found a home there for his mystical doctrines in the episcopate of Hyginus104 and the Carpocratian heretic, Marcellina, for her idolatrous images under Anicetus105. Image-worship was condoned by the First Church106 on the pretext that it was only the despised “Jewish” Law that forbad idolatry, and that the Apostles suppressed its public practice because they were pandering to the scruples of “weaker” Jewish brethren amongst the gentiles. As the years went by and bishop succeeded bishop in the First Church, the heresies became institutionalized. The true Catholics were dismayed and discouraged.

56. The aged bishop Polycarp of Smyrna, who had in his youth sat at the feet of John, the beloved disciple of Jesus, was filled with fatherly concern for the Christians in Rome. He traveled thousands of miles, in spite of the infirmities of his great age, from Smyrna on the coast of Turkey, to the capital of the Empire, to apprise the situation for himself. Like Ignatius, but with less rigidity, Polycarp’s inclination was to exalt the bishop’s role as a bulwark against Gnosticism. He went straight to work amongst the Bible-believers, and held meetings which were even attended by Bishop Anicetus107. All Polycarp’s efforts were directed to reforming the church at Santa Prassede. The Bishop, for his part, kept disagreements to a minimum. It looked as though Polycarp had succeeded. In front of the whole congregation, and shamed by the spiritual eminence of the disciple of John, Anicetus yielded the celebration of the Lord’s supper to Polycarp. In fact, multitudes were persuaded by the personal testimony of Polycarp and were converted from the heretical teachers to true Christianity108.

57. But the heretical leaders themselves, Marcion and Valentinus being the most important, were not for a long time yet (and then for a different reason) excluded from the First Church109 and the heathen rituals and doctrines continued. The First Church prided itself in its “multi-faith” approach. Some had images of Jesus and the saints, as well as of the heathen philosophers and deities110. They prostrated themselves before these idols and served them in the usual pagan manner. The idolatry went back to the original “father” of the First Church. There were idols amongst them called “Lord” and “Lady”111 which were actually images of Simon Magus and his mistress Helena, their names changed to obscure their identity. To refer to them as Simon and Helena was forbidden. The “Lord” (Simon) was made in the form of the god Jupiter, and the “Lady” (Helena) in the form of the goddess Minerva. Now, Simon Magus himself had been an idiosyncratic devotee of the religion of the Magi. The most popular Magian cult in the Empire at that period was Mithraism, and the name of the god Mithras meant “The Mediator”; he was the god of contracts and oaths. This explains why the statue erected to Simon Magus on the island in the Tiber, the base of which was rediscovered in 1574, was sculpted in the form of the god Semo Sancus, the “god of the oath”, this being the Roman deity most nearly corresponding in function to Mithras. It was a common practice in that era to sculpt famous figures with attributes of a deity (e.g. the Emperor Claudius with attributes of Jupiter), as though the god had descended to earth and taken on human form as that person, so this statue would quite be in keeping with the spirit of the age. Of course, the followers of Simon also equated the god’s name Semo with the name of their “father”, Simon. The inscription on the base of the statue112 read “Semoni Sanco Deo Fidio Sacrum”, meaning “Dedicated to Semo Sancus the God of the Oath”. The Gnostics read it as “To Simon (Semoni) the Holy (Sanco = Sancto, holy or sacred) God (Deo) ….” Semo Sancus was also identified with Jupiter by the Romans themselves, so the statue of Simon made in the form of the god Jupiter was probably just another specimen of this multi-faith god, Semo, Jupiter, or Mithras, deliberately sculpted to reflect the facial characteristics of Simon Magus, if it was not, indeed, this same statue on the island in the Tiber. But a reverence for Simon Magus — even under his proper name — survived for centuries in the Roman church. As late as the sixth century AD Acts of the Roman “saints” were concocted which honored Simon Magus with a place amongst the martyrs!

58. The rituals of the Mithraic Magi are significant in the light of how the First Church of Rome developed. There can be little doubt as to the source whence the following nonbiblical rites and ceremonies crept into the Papal religion. The Mithraic priests were called “father” and their chief priest, the “father of fathers”, the very image of a pope, always resided at Rome. The priests wore a mitre-like, pointed, Phrygian cap and carried a shepherd’s staff in their hand. Mithras was called CHRESTOS, the “Good One”, a common variant of the name Christ. Initiates were marked on their forehead in water with the sign of a cross (symbolic of the sun’s crossing over the celestial equator at the spring equinox). Women were excluded from the cult. Mithras was identified with the Sun, the Light of Heaven unconquered by the powers of darkness; accordingly, the Mithraists’ holy day was Sunday, the day of the “Unconquered Sun”, and December 25th (the winter solstice, following which the sun begins to rise higher in the sky) was the birthday of their god. A perpetual fire was kept burning in their sanctuaries. The Mithraists celebrated a sacred meal in which they ate bread and wine, these elements being believed to infuse a magical virtue into those who partook of them. Furthermore, the Mithraic religion had been combined in the city of Pergamum in Turkey with the cult of Cybele, the “Mother of the Gods”, worshiped alongside her divine consort Sabazius (identified with Zeus or Jupiter ) — a cult which heretical Jews had introduced into Rome over a 100 years before the time of Christ113. The sign of Sabazius, a raised hand with the thumb and the middle and index fingers held upright and the other two fingers folded down, many representations of which are discovered by archaeologists, is today the characteristic sign of blessing of the Pope. Cybele was identified with the Mithraists’ chief goddess, Anaitis and Sabazius with Mithras. In this mixed form Mithraism had become popular at Rome, even with the emperors — Nero and Commodus (two of the most vicious emperors of all) being keen adherents: this meant that both Nero and Commodus were cult brothers of the Gnostic followers of Simon Magus, and would be prepared to use state power to argue their cause. It was this same cult’s “Great Mother Goddess” Cybele whose spring festival was identical to the “Passover” feast of the First Church of Rome. In fact, Cybele, Anaitis, Minerva, Astarte, Isis etc. amongst the Romans of that era were simply so many names of this “Great Mother Goddess”. She was called the “Queen of Heaven” and the “Mother of God”. Because of her feminine tenderness she was commonly served with an “unbloody” sacrifice. The priest lifted up in front of her idol the unbloody sacrifice of a piece of bread baked in the shape of a disk to honor the Sun114, and poured out the wine (rather than allowing the congregation to drink it) as a libation at the base of the statue.

59. All this had the tacit, if not the public, approval of the Bishop Anicetus. It is no wonder in the revival atmosphere at Rome during the visit of Polycarp that Anicetus shrunk from celebrating his pagan communion in the presence of that great patriarch. Anicetus would not yield on the principle and doctrine of his spring festival, however. He claimed it had always been celebrated like that in his church. The Bible-believers’ concern about the content of the Gnostic cult was diverted into a fruitless debate about the calendrical timing of the “Passover” celebration and the length of the preceding (Lenten) fast. Details like that were of no interest to the Catholics. The anxiety of the heretics, on their side, to receive recognition from Polycarp is illustrated by the famous occasion115 on which the Gnostic archheretic Marcion approached Polycarp and inquired “Do you recognize us?” Polycarp replied “Yes, I do recognize you — the firstborn of Satan.” However, by the adroitness, subtlety and blatant hypocrisy of Bishop Anicetus, the issues were fudged and, in the end, it was the First Church that gained points from Polycarp’s visit. Once he was gone, they held up Anicetus’ attendance at the Eucharistic celebration as apostolic validation of their cult.



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Footnotes 83-115


83. §1. In his letter to Victor, Bishop of the First Church of Rome, Irenaeus lists the bishops of that church preceding Victor. A substantial fragment of Irenaeus’ letter is preserved in Eusebius, Hist. Ecc., V. xxiv. 11-17. The list of bishops is found ibid. 14: “Among these [the ones who held on to customs, like the First Church of Rome Passover ritual, which were not strictly in accord with Apostolic practice, ibid.13 ] were the presbyters before Soter, who presided over the church [the First Church of Rome] which thou [Victor] now rulest. We mean [working back in time] Anicetus, and Pius, and Hyginus, and Telesphorus, and Xystus [Sixtus]. They neither observed it [the Jewish Passover celebration] themselves, nor did they permit those after them to do so. And yet though not observing it, they were none the less at peace with those who came to them from the residential districts [of other churches] in which it was observed; although this observance was more opposed to those who did not observe it.” This list only goes as far back as Sixtus then stops abruptly. Irenaeus gives no indication that there were any bishops of that particular church before Sixtus. Yet we know that there were bishops in Rome before Sixtus: Irenaeus himself informs us elsewhere (These were, working back in time from Sixtus: Alexander, Evaristus, Clement, Anencletus, Linus). This suggests the possibility that the pre-Sixtine bishops did not preside over “the church over which thou [Victor] now rulest”, as Irenaeus puts it, but over some other church. The evidence for the following observations, confirming this suggestion, will be provided in the endnotes at relevant places in the main text. They form a summary of the reasoning which leads us to believe there were, in the second century AD, two separate churches in Rome, one a Bible-believing fellowship, and the second a gathering of Gnostic heretics under bishops who falsely claimed to be orthodox in faith.

§2. The church at the Timothinian Baths was the church where Justin Martyr fellowshiped throughout both periods he was resident in Rome. This is believed to be the church now known as Santa Pudenziana, which received its name from the Timothy to whom the Roman Baths in that location, according to tradition, were bequeathed, and which were otherwise known as the Baths of Novatus, from Timothy’s brother, see further §§5 and 6. The existence of Roman Baths at Santa Pudenziana already in the first half of the second century AD has been confirmed by excavation. Justin states he did not recognize any other church in the city, and also the brethren in his fellowship held no communion with the Gnostic heretics, like Valentinus and Marcion. However, the church ruled by the bishops from Sixtus to Victor did hold communion with these heretics (see further §3) throughout the period Justin Martyr was ministering in the capital. This is the most stark, historical, evidence of the separation of two churches in Rome in the second century AD. In the account of the Martyrdom of Justin and his companions (ch. 2), Justin corrects a perceived misunderstanding of the interrogating prefect that the Christians assembled (or ought to have assembled) in one place in Rome, by stating that that Christians do not fellowship in one and the same place, but in different locations “where each one chooses and can”.

§3. A similar situation is envisaged in Epiphanius’ account of Marcion, extracted, as is much else in Epiphanius, from circumstantial, early church, records, this probably from a lost work of Hippolytus. When Marcion arrived in Rome (just after the death of Hyginus, and therefore in the time of Pius), being from a Bible-believing, orthodox, background in Pontus, he tried to join the Bible-believing church in Rome. That church refused him communion, because of his immoral conduct in Pontus. He then joined what is called “Cerdon’s sect” in the source used by Epiphanius. Later Marcion became head of this sect. Now, Cerdon is known to have been, in actual fact, a professing member of the First Church of Rome, from an era at least as early as the episcopate of Telesphorus. In other words, Marcion, after being rejected by the orthodox church, joined the First Church of Rome, which at that time included in its ranks the heretic Cerdon. This is confirmed, in respect of what relates to Marcion, by Irenaeus, Tertullian and other writers, who state clearly that Marcion was, indeed, a member of a church, and that church was the First Church of Rome, from the time of bishop Pius all the way till the time of bishop Eleutherus (Tertullian’s date), by whom he was finally expelled. This was the church of Sixtus and his successors, the one which welcomed fellowship with heretics, including, amongst many others, Marcion and Valentinus. On Justin’s evidence, it had nothing to do with the other mentioned Bible-believing fellowship. There was one church in Rome which Marcion never succeeded in joining, viz. the Bible-believing one, and another church in Rome which he did succeed in joining, viz. the same First Church of Rome in which Cerdon professed orthodox faith, but from which he (Marcion) was later expelled. Here is evidence confirming the existence of two churches in Rome in the second century AD, with very different rules of admission and practice.

§4. Another witness to the separation of two churches in Rome in the latter quarter of the second century AD and the first quarter of the second, is Hippolytus of Rome. One church in Hippolytus is a Bible-believing assembly, and the other church is the First Church of Rome, with its line of monarchical bishops including (in Hippolytus’ day) Victor, Zephyrinus and Callistus, and with heretics, not only fellowshiping freely within it, but also influencing the trend of its teaching. In his Refutation of All Heresies Hippolytus represents himself as a bishop of a church, with a ministry centered on Rome, but not a bishop in the church ruled by Victor and his successors, Zephyrinus and Callistus, viz. the First Church of Rome. Hippolytus calls his fellow church-members the “brethren” and says that he and his did not at any time have any collusion with the “school” of the heretics who followed the doctrine of Noetus, which increased greatly under the “succession” of such bishops as Zephyrinus and Callistus, but was already present in that church before the time of Zephyrinus (i.e. at least as early as Victor). The scandalous and criminal life of Bishop Callistus of the First Church is vividly portrayed by Hippolytus, who was his contemporary. No mention is made in the narrative of any schism initiated by Hippolytus or his fellow believers from the other church. On the contrary, the already existing, and permanent, separation is taken for granted. Only at times there would be discussions between Hippolytus and his people and members of the other church, in order to win the latter back to the true faith. The bishops of the First Church pretended to be orthodox in faith and gave verbal assent to Hippolytus’ point of view (certainly they were unable to answer Hippolytus’ fierce, Biblical, logic), but nevertheless continued to tolerate the heretical teachers. Now, Hippolytus was a disciple of Irenaeus. Irenaeus had himself been present in Rome at the time of Bishop Eleutherus of the First Church, but did not, as Eleutherus did, fellowship with heretics. Irenaeus was also a staunch upholder of the doctrine of Justin Martyr and of Hermas. I.e. Irenaeus seems to have fellowshiped with the Christians of Justin’s group at Santa Pudenziana, whilst Hippolytus, his disciple, seems to have continued his work there as bishop. Hippolytus treats the other congregation as a Catholic church in name only, and one which indiscriminately fellowshiped with heretics and was, indeed, under their controlling influence. This work of Hippolytus was, for understandable reasons, “lost” for many centuries and was only recovered in the nineteenth century from a single copy preserved in the Orthodox monastery of Mount Athos. Pope Damasus confirms the existence of a schism between Hippolytus and the First Church of Rome by reporting the tradition that Hippolytus remained till his end a presbyter in what he refers to as “the schism of Novatus,” though Damasus was willing to interpret Hippolytus’ description before his martyrdom of the true faith as “Catholic” to mean that he may have latterly returned repentant to the First Church! (Sylloge Corbeiensis, Epitaph of Hippolytus). Novatus fellowshiped for a time with Novatian, the leader of a rival church in Rome in the first half of the third century AD, that is, evidently, the church of which Hippolytus was bishop. (Novatus, not Novatian, subsequently lapsed into heresy, and the First Church deliberately confused the orthodox Bible-teacher Novatian with the lapsed heretic Novatus.) Actually, it was the First Church that was in schism from the Bible-believers. This notice lets us know, incidentally, that the church at Santa Pudenziana was in the third century AD the church attended by the Novatianists or followers of Novatian (also called, incorrectly and slanderously, Cathari and Novatians, the followers of Novatus), who were in permanent “schism” from the First Church of Rome and its allies throughout the third and fourth centuries AD.

§5. Going back now to the beginning of the second century or the very end of the first, we find in the Shepherd of Hermas the prophet Hermas describing in his vision a congregation with which his own church in Rome (the church of Clement) did not hold communion, led by a false prophet or sorcerer seated on a kathedra, or episcopal throne. Members of Hermas’ church, however, had been seduced into attending the meeting of this false prophet. Furthermore, Hermas specifically attacks in his book what we would call the Docetist, Gnostic, belief that pure spirit alone is of real consequence, and the flesh unimportant, which suggests — in view of the fact that the Gnostics were also sorcerers — that this false prophet and sorcerer is one of the Docetist Gnostics (perhaps Cerdon himself) who are known to have operated in Rome in the era of Hermas, i.e. about the time of Domitian. Considering that the word kathedra has such negative connotations in The Shepherd of Hermas, both in this vision and earlier ones, it is remarkable to find it stated in the Muratorian Canon, dating from the end of the second century AD, that Hermas’ own “brother” (close male relative), Pius (the Pius in Irenaeus’ list above §1), occupied the kathedra of a church in Rome at the time The Shepherd of Hermas was put into writing. The hint here, as well as elsewhere in the book of Hermas, where it repeatedly highlights the need for repentance in the troubled household of Hermas himself, is that Hermas’ own brother may have crossed over to the Gnostics and become a bishop amongst them in another “church” in Rome. This is confirmed by a seemingly reliable, ecclesiastical, tradition, different elements of which are preserved fossilized in the apocryphal Acts of Pastor and Timothy and in the Liber Pontificalis. The tradition informs us that in the time of one of the bishops in Irenaeus’ list, viz. Pius, there were, indeed, two churches in Rome, and the tradition identifies them as Santa Prassede [Latin: Praxedis] and Santa Pudenziana [Pudentiana, though Pius seems to have used the form Potentiana, the name being derived from that of Pudens’ daughter]. Pius is described as having ministered at some earlier period in Santa Pudenziana, where Hermas (his natural brother) was pastor. Since only two churches in Rome are mentioned in this tradition and Pius is bishop of Rome, it follows that Santa Prassede is the church where Pius usually ministered as bishop. I.e. Santa Prassede is the First Church of Rome (see further §6). It could not have been otherwise, if only two churches existed in Rome at that time, since we know that the church at Santa Pudenziana (Pudentiana) did not fellowship with heretics, whereas Pius, at his church, did. His church must be that other church mentioned in the apocryphal tradition, viz. Santa Prassede (Praxedis). The apocryphal work does not inform us whether Pius moved from Santa Pudenziana peacefully or in consequence of some conflict, but the evidence already given points to a schism between the two churches.

§6. The Senator Rufus Pudens, whose house is said to have been converted into the house-church Santa Pudenziana, is traditionally connected with Hermas (in Romans 16. 13f.) as well as with two of the bishops preceding Sixtus known from other lists in Irenaeus and elsewhere, namely Linus (“Pudens and Linus” II Timothy 4. 21) and Clement (Shepherd of Hermas VIS. II. iv. 3). This confirms the association of the pre-Sixtine bishops with the circle of Pudens. The bishops before Sixtus appear, therefore, to have ministered in Pudens’ circle, whilst Sixtus separated from that circle and continued teaching heretically at Santa Prassede, where he was followed as bishop by Telesphorus, and the rest up to Pius, Victor and so forth. Hermas was at some point also pastor at Santa Pudenziana, according to the Acts of Pastor and Timothy, and since he does not appear in Irenaeus’ pre-Sixtine list, he seems to have taken the pastor’s position after Clement, who was the spiritual guide of that fellowship up to the reign of Domitian at the close of the second century. The belief of the Vicus Lateranus group was that Sixtus had been the bishop in Rome back in the time of Nero, when Paul was martyred (see footnote 92). Thus the supposed “apostolic succession” of Sixtus and “apostolic” trend of his doctrine could be asserted without reference to the letter of Clement, which proved the opposite.

§7. It can be concluded from this that the First Church of Rome with its bishops from Sixtus through Pius, Eleutherus, Victor etc. was, in the earliest period, the sect of Cerdon, masquerading as a church. Cerdon continued in his role of Gnostic guru and seems simply to have accepted Sixtus and his successors with the title of “bishop”, and no great doctrinal influence, in his remodeled “sect-cum-church”. In fact, Irenaeus distinctly tells us that Cerdon “came into the church” and “professed orthodox faith” after an undetermined period in which he was a Gnostic teacher, and that he “continued” professing orthodox faith under bishop Hyginus, following Sixtus and Telesphorus. The word “continued” implies that he “joined the church” at least as early as the time of bishop Hyginus’ predecessor, Telesphorus, and, on the evidence produced here, more probably in the time of Telesphorus’ predecessor, Sixtus. The precise sequence of events is no longer traceable in the fragments of second-century ecclesiastical literature which have survived. The date of Cerdon’s arrival in Rome, even, is not certain; but his inspiration came from Simon himself and his immediate circle, according to the earliest and most reliable witness, Irenaeus, therefore a first century date is preferable. The third-century Anti-Marcionite poem alleges Cerdon arrived in Rome in the days of Telesphorus, but only to inflict “new wounds” after he had already been expelled by the faithful brethren for secret heretical teaching. Anti-Marcionite Poem, III. 282-293: “Sixth ALEXANDER commends the flock to SIXTUS, and he, after the period of his duty was complete, hands it on to TELESPHORUS. The latter was a shining example and a faithful martyr, following the former, a fellow-believer in the Law and a reliable teacher, when the fellow-believer in your [the Marcionites’] wickedness, (your) forerunner and founder, came to Rome, afflicting new wounds, that is, Cerdo, after having been thrown out, because he was spreading the intimations and words of poison in secret, for which he was driven from the ranks and then brought forth this sacrilegious brood by inspiration of the Serpent. The vibrant Church of Rome stood firm in piety, having been formed by Peter, whose successor now too he was, HYGINUS, taking the (bishop’s) seat [cathedram] in ninth place.” CARMINIS ADVERSUS MARCIONITAS LIBER III. “282 SEXTUS ALEXANDER SIXTO commendat ovile, 283 post expleta sui qui lustri tempora tradit 284 TELESPHORO; excellens hic erat martyrque fidelis 285 (post illum socius legis certusque magister), 286 cum vestri sceleris socius, praecursor et auctor 287 advenit Romam Cerdo nova vulnera gestans, 288 deiectus, quoniam voces et verba veneni 289 spargebat furtim; quapropter ab agmine pulsus 290 sacrilegum genus hoc genuit spirante dracone. 291 constabat pietate vigens ecclesia Romae 292 composita a Petro, cuius successor et ipse 293 iamque loco nono cathedram suscepit HYGINUS.” It could be that Sixtus set up a Gnostic church at the location later known as Santa Prassede and Cerdon and his sectarian colleagues joined it in the time of Telesphorus or in the time of Sixtus himself. In that case, the bishop provided a new ecclesiastical home for the wandering Gnostics of Rome who had been present in the capital since the earliest days of Emperor Claudius. Alternatively, Sixtus was won over by the Gnostics at Santa Prassede, where Simon Magus or Cerdon were already seated on the Gnostic kathedra, during the time they were teaching in secret. The latter alternative seems preferable inasmuch as Hermas depicts in his vision a sorcerer and false prophet (i.e. a Gnostic heretic), not a backslidden bishop, already seated on a kathedra in Rome, and members of Hermas’ group are being seduced into attending his meeting — which is precisely the scenario envisioned if Sixtus joined the Gnostics.

§8. Though Cerdon professed to have “joined the church” by accepting an ordained bishop as the titular head of his movement, the truth seems to be, rather, that it was the bishop who had joined the heresy of Simon and Cerdon. Strong evidence of a more or less open embracing of Gnosticism in the First Church is the continued fellowshiping of its members, under the succession of these bishops, with heretics — a thing unknown amongst the orthodox. Again, the trend in the First Church, as in Gnosticism, was against Judaism and against Judaizing practices of the kind which were common amongst the orthodox. The bishops of the First Church celebrated thereafter a form of non-Jewish, or rather anti-Jewish, “Passover”, which was condemned by the orthodox (as we learn from Tertullian in his tract On Fasting) as a borrowing or imitation of the cult of the Great Mother goddess. This kind of religious syncretism was the hallmark of Gnostic heresy. The First Church absolutely insisted on the practice of its ritual, like some magic rite, and, when it was able to, enforced it on others. It became, in consequence, a source of bitter contention in the early Church all the way into the medieval period. The rigid adherence of Sixtus and his successors on the kathedra of the First Church to this paganizing ritual indicates that, intellectually, the movement of Sixtus was away from the Bible-believing tenets of Pudens’ circle and towards the Gnostic heretics, who made the transition easy by professing orthodoxy. Some time thereafter, according to the account of Irenaeus, Cerdon’s ecclesiastical charade was exposed by the Bible teachers and the separation of communion between the “brethren”, as Irenaeus calls them, i.e. the orthodox Bible-believers, and Cerdon was severed. This implies there was a doubt for a time whether Cerdon had genuinely “repented” and joined the church, by accepting the ministry of the bishops. Hence, it may be, the false accreditation granted to this church at Santa Prassede on occasion by orthodox churches. The bishops in the line of Sixtus claimed that their church was the “first” or “original” church in Rome (Gk. archaiotate, used of that church by Origen in the time of Zephyrinus, Eusebius Hist. Ecc. VI. xiv. 10, or Lat. principalis, as used of that same church by Cyprian). And so it was, because, whether the bishops had joined the Gnostics, or the Gnostics had joined the bishops, the First Church was the ecclesiastical home in Rome of the Gnostic heretics, whilst the Gnostic heretics originated from the school of Simon Magus, which was, in turn, composed of Gentile converts to Simon’s Gnosticism from the earliest and original church in Rome, viz. the Gentile members of the Church of Priscilla and Aquila, and Andronicus and Junia, before the time of Claudius. It was that group of schismatics and heretics denounced shortly thereafter by Paul in Romans 16. 17f.


84. For a reference to the Paschal controversy in the time of Hermas and Sixtus see Appendix 8.


85. Irenaeus Adv. Haer. III. iii. 4: “To these things all the Asiatic Churches testify, as do also those men who have succeeded Polycarp down to the present time, — a man who was of much greater weight, and a more steadfast witness of truth, than Valentinus, and Marcion, and the rest of the heretics. He it was who, coming to Rome in the time of Anicetus caused many to turn away from the aforesaid heretics to the Church of God, proclaiming that he had received this one and sole truth from the apostles, — that, namely, which is handed down by the Church. There are also those who heard from him that John, the disciple of the Lord, going to bathe at Ephesus, and perceiving Cerinthus within, rushed out of the bathhouse without bathing, exclaiming, “Let us fly, lest even the bathhouse fall down, because Cerinthus, the enemy of the truth, is within.” And Polycarp himself replied to Marcion, who met him on one occasion, and said, “Dost thou recognize us?” “I do recognize thee, the first-born of Satan.” Such was the horror which the apostles and their disciples had against holding even verbal communication with any corrupters of the truth; as Paul also says, “A man that is an heretic, after the first and second admonition, reject; knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.”


86. Irenaeus, from the letter to Victor quoted by Eusebius, Church History, V. xxiv. 15-17: “But none were ever cast out on account of this form [the Jewish Passover]; but the presbyters before thee [viz. before Victor, meaning the bishops from Sixtus up to Victor, as partially listed just prior to this] who did not observe it, sent the Eucharist to people from the residential districts [of other churches] who themselves observed it, and furthermore, at the time when the blessed Polycarp visited Rome in the time of Anicetus, and having little things against eachother on other points, they [viz. the presbyters of the First Church who did not keep the Jewish Passover, and those from other church districts who did] quickly made peace amongst themselves, not caring to quarrel over this matter. For neither was Anicetus able to persuade Polycarp not to observe what he had always observed with John the disciple of our Lord [i.e. the Jewish Passover celebration], and the other apostles with whom he had associated; neither did Polycarp persuade Anicetus to observe it, as he [Anicetus] said that he ought to follow the customs of the presbyters that had preceded him. And in this state of affairs, they held communion amongst themselves. Also Anicetus conceded the Eucharist in the church to Polycarp, evidently out of a feeling of shame. And they settled the matter between them in peace, both those who observed [the Jewish Passover], and those who did not, maintaining the peace of the whole church.” This passage indicates that Anicetus, the bishop of the First Church, was concerned at the impact Polycarp (who practiced the Jewish Passover of the Apostle John) made on the Christians in Rome. Anicetus’ practice had been to send the First Church’s eucharist to members of other groups who observed the Jewish Passover. Evidently, the important thing for the bishops of the First Church was to ensure that these outsiders at least partook of their (magical) elements. They, on the other hand, absolutely abstained from the Jewish Passover. This practice continued during Polycarp’s visit, but the outsiders who received Anicetus’ eucharist seem to have been influenced by Polycarp, on other matters, against the practice of the First Church (“having little things against eachother … not caring to quarrel over this matter”). In these differences we can see the beginning of a movement like that which developed shortly thereafter in the time when Anicetus’ deacon, Eleutherus, became bishop, namely the Montanist movement. This was composed of Christians who accepted the First Church’s Paschal practice and other elements of its cult, but were also influenced by the charismatic ministries of the disciples of John. This proved to be a sore trial for the First Church bishops, and led eventually to a schism in the First Church itself, and the separation from it of Tertullian and the Cataproclan Montanists. The Paschal custom of the First Church was later condemned in the 14th Canon of the Laodicean Council, “On not sending the sacred elements for the purpose of imparting blessings, at the time of the Paschal feast, to other residential districts.” (This custom is to be strictly differentiated from the orthodox practice of sending remainders of the eucharistic elements to absent members of the local church in the same residential area, e.g. to those absent through sickness or other urgent necessity [Justin, Apol. I. 67].)


87. Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. I. xxviii. 1: “Springing from Saturninus and Marcion, those who are called Encratites (self-controlled) preached against marriage, thus setting aside the original creation of God, and indirectly blaming Him who made the male and female for the propagation of the human race. Some of those reckoned among them have also introduced abstinence from animal food, thus proving themselves ungrateful to God, who formed all things. They deny, too, the salvation of him who was first created. It is but lately, however, that this opinion has been invented among them. A certain man named Tatian first introduced the blasphemy. He was a hearer of Justin’s, and as long as he continued with him he expressed no such views; but after his martyrdom he separated from the Church, and, excited and puffed up by the thought of being a teacher, as if he were superior to others, he composed his own peculiar type of doctrine. He invented a system of certain invisible Aeons, like the followers of Valentinus; while, like Marcion and Saturninus, he declared that marriage was nothing else than corruption and fornication. But his denial of Adam’s salvation was an opinion due entirely to himself.”


88. Eusebius, Hist. Ecc. V. 15: “Others, of whom Florinus was chief, flourished at Rome. He fell from the presbyterate of the Church, and Blastus was involved in a similar fall. They also drew away many of the Church to their opinion, each striving to introduce his own innovations in respect to the truth.” and Irenaeus in Eusebius, Hist. Ecc. V. 20: “In the letter to Florinus, of which we have spoken, Irenaeus mentions again his intimacy with Polycarp, saying: “These doctrines, O Florinus [i.e. the Gnostic doctrines newly espoused by Florinus], to speak mildly, are not of sound judgment. These doctrines disagree with the Church, and drive into the greatest impiety those who accept them. These doctrines, not even the heretics outside of the Church, have ever dared to publish. These doctrines, the presbyters who were before us, and who were companions of the apostles, did not deliver to thee. “For when I was a boy, I saw thee in lower Asia with Polycarp, moving in splendor in the royal court, and endeavoring to gain his approbation. I remember the events of that time more clearly than those of recent years. For what boys learn, growing with their mind, becomes joined with it; so that I am able to describe the very place in which the blessed Polycarp sat as he discoursed, and his goings out and his comings in, and the manner of his life, and his physical appearance, and his discourses to the people, and the accounts which he gave of his intercourse with John and with the others who had seen the Lord. And as he remembered their words, and what he heard from them concerning the Lord, and concerning his miracles and his teaching, having received them from eyewitnesses of the ‘Word of life,’ Polycarp related all things in harmony with the Scriptures. These things being told me by the mercy of God, I listened to them attentively, noting them down, not on paper, but in my heart. And continually, through God’s grace, I recall them faithfully. And I am able to bear witness before God that if that blessed and apostolic presbyter had heard any such thing, he would have cried out, and stopped his ears, and as was his custom, would have exclaimed, O good God, unto what times hast thou spared me that I should endure these things? And he would have fled from the place where, sitting or standing, he had heard such words. And this can be shown plainly from the letters which he sent, either to the neighboring churches for their confirmation, or to some of the brethren, admonishing and exhorting them.” Thus far Irenaeus.”


89. See Appendix 9 on Polycarp.


90. The historical setting of Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypho is Ephesus just after the Bar Kokhba Revolt, between AD 135 and the early 140s. Whenever this work was actually composed, the fabric of the dialogue as reproduced by Justin includes a reference to the followers of the Gnostic heretics, Marcion and Valentinus. (The word “Marcians” in Justin seems to denote what we would call Marcionites, in view of the fact that the Marcians are there paired with the Valentinians, Marcion and Valentinus being contemporaries.) This implies that by c. AD 135-145 Marcion and Valentinus were well-known in Christian circles in Ephesus. Valentinus and Marcion arrived in Rome during the episcopate of Hyginus. The commonly accepted traditional dates are Hyginus AD 136-140, Pius AD 140-155. Even if the Dialogue was composed much later than the setting in Ephesus c. AD 135-145 would imply, there seems to be no good reason why Justin should have invented the reference to Marcians and Valentinians, transposing them into an earlier era, when he was concerned to reproduce an authentic historical context (as the mention of the Bar Kokhba Revolt confirms) and the mistake would have been obvious — at least to readers in Rome, which was Justin’s home for much of his later ministry. Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho the Jew xxxv, setting c. AD 135-145. “CHAPTER 35 HERETICS CONFIRM THE CATHOLICS IN THE FAITH And Trypho said, “I believe, however, that many of those who say that they confess Jesus, and are called Christians, eat meats offered to idols, and declare that they are by no means injured in consequence.” And I replied, “The fact that there are such men confessing themselves to be Christians, and admitting the crucified Jesus to be both Lord and Christ, yet not teaching His doctrines, but those of the spirits of error, causes us who are disciples of the true and pure doctrine of Jesus Christ, to be more faithful and steadfast in the hope announced by Him. For what things He predicted would take place in His name, these we do see being actually accomplished in our sight. For he said, ‘Many shall come in My name, clothed outwardly in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” And, ‘There shall be schisms and heresies.’ And, ‘Beware of false prophets, who shall come to you clothed outwardly in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.’ And, ‘Many false Christs and false apostles shall arise, and shall deceive many of the faithful.’ There are, therefore, and there were many, my friends, who, coming forward in the name of Jesus, taught both to speak and act impious and blasphemous things; and these are called by us after the name of the men from whom each doctrine and opinion had its origin. (For some in one way, others in another, teach to blaspheme the Maker of all things, and Christ, who was foretold by Him as coming, and the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, with whom we have nothing in common, since we know them to be atheists, impious, unrighteous, and sinful, and confessors of Jesus in name only, instead of worshipers of Him. Yet they style themselves Christians, just as certain among the Gentiles inscribe the name of God upon the works of their own hands, and partake in nefarious and impious rites.) Some are called Marcians, and some Valentinians, and some Basilidians, and some Saturnilians, and others by other names; each called after the originator of the individual opinion, just as each one of those who consider themselves philosophers, as I said before, thinks he must bear the name of the philosophy which he follows, from the name of the father of the particular doctrine. So that, in consequence of these events, we know that Jesus foreknew what would happen after Him, as well as in consequence of many other events which He foretold would befall those who believed on and confessed Him, the Christ. For all that we suffer, even when killed by friends, He foretold would take place; so that it is manifest no word or act of His can be found fault with. Wherefore we pray for you and for all other men who hate us; in order that you, having repented along with us, may not blaspheme Him who, by His works, by the mighty deeds even now wrought through His name, by the words He taught, by the prophecies announced concerning Him, is the blameless, and in all things irreproachable, Christ Jesus; but, believing on Him, may be saved in His second glorious advent, and may not be condemned to fire by Him.”


91. On Cerdon see footnote 26, above, >>.


92. The legend appears in the following form in a Syriac chronicle (Chronicle of the Year AD 846, trans. into Latin by Chabot, CSCO, Scriptores Syri Versio, Series Tertia, Tomus IV, Chronica Minora, Paris 1903, p. 138): “In the 12th year of Nero … Peter offered up his testimony, and he was crucified head downwards, but since many of the faithful brethren were slain that day, Mark went out with four brethren in the night and took his master Simon down from the cross. He also took up Paul’s corpse there, but because it was night-time, he did not find his head. When morning came, he quietly left Rome and gathered together the corpses and members of the martyrs which were scattered around, including the head of Paul, and laid them out in a single location. After some time had passed a shepherd with seven sheep in that place took up the head of Paul which he saw lying there, and placed it up on high out of reach of the sheep, and that night he noticed a fiery light shining over the head. This news was noised abroad and came to the ears of Sixtus, who was for the time [pro hoc tempore] bishop of Rome. [My emphasis.] The clergy said, ‘This is the head of Paul.’ And he said, ‘It is not right we should deposit the corpse of a passing stranger with the corpses of the saints, unless we prove it is genuine.’ After the matter was thoroughly argued one way and the other, it was decided to place the head at the feet of the Apostle. Ministers kept watch through that night, and in the morning it was found that the head had returned to its place at the top of the corpse and that it was fixed to the spinal cord though it had been severed by the sword. All then believed and gave praise to God.” A shorter version is found in the Book of the Bee: “PAUL, of Tarsus, was a Pharisee and of the tribe of Ephraim (or, Benjamin?). He went to Peter at Rome, and Nero ordered them to be slain. On their way to the place of slaughter they gave the laying on of hands of the priesthood to their disciples, Peter to Mark, and Paul to Luke. Peter was crucified and Paul was beheaded, and Mark and Luke brought their [p. 257] bodies into the city. But Paul’s head could not be found. At length a shepherd found it, and he laid it by his sheep-fold. At night a fire blazed over it, and the shepherd went and told bishop Xystus {= Sixtus} and the clergy, and when they saw the head they recognized it as Paul’s head. They laid the head at the feet of Paul’s body, and, having prayed the whole night, the head was found to have joined itself to the body. From his call to the end of his life was 35 years; he traveled for 31 years, and he was in prison at Caesarea for two years, and for two years in Rome. He was martyred in the thirty-sixth year after the Passion of our Lord, and was buried in the royal catacombs in Rome.” This legend refers to Xystus/Sixtus as a “temporary” bishop for the reasons outlined in footnote 40, above, >>: viz. Peter’s mythic episcopacy was inserted by First Church pseudo-historians over the terms of the first five pastors, from c. AD 35 to AD 62; therefore these pastors were relocated chronologically posterior to Peter, and/or considered to be “suffragans” or “temporary” bishops during the supposed episcopacy of Peter himself, in order that he, as it was imagined, might concentrate on missionary work, rather than on pastoral duties within the city of Rome. A further observation is that the Sixtus legend describes the first occurrence of a “fake relic” in the history of the apostate organization. The “miracle” which joined the head of Saint Paul to his body must surely have been invented to explain the substitution of a fake for the real corpse, and, at the same time, to prove the magical “power” of the First Church leaders. The genuine relics of Paul at the beginning of the third century AD were in the possession of Eastern Christians, till they were seized at that time by force and relocated in a temporary tomb just outside the city by the First Church.(See footnote 47, above, >>, and the three footnotes following it.)


93. §1. EPIPHANIUS Panarion (about AD 375), Haer. XLII (XXII). i-ii., ed. Migne PG XLI, 696-7, probably drawing on the lost Syntagma of Hippolytus, “Marcion, the founder of the Marcionites, took his cue from Cerdon and emerged into the world as a great serpent himself. And because he deceived a large number of people he founded a school which has endured to the present day in a variety of different forms. The sect is still to be found even now, in Rome and Italy, Egypt and Palestine, Arabia and Syria, Cyprus and Thebaid — in Persia too, moreover, and other places. For the evil one has lent great strength to the deceit in those parts. It is very commonly said that he was a native of Pontus — I mean Helenpontus and the city of Sinope. In early life he was an ascetic, if you please, for he was a hermit, and the son of a bishop of our holy catholic church. But in time he corrupted a virgin, and, by deceiving the virgin, cheated both her and himself of the hope. For her seduction he was excommunicated from the church by his own father. His father was noted for his great devotion amongst the foremost, and especially amongst those concerned to uphold truth, in the episcopal ministry. So when Marcion went through the motions of petitioning repeatedly for mercy and of seeking repentance, he did not receive what he was looking for from his own father. The worthy old gentleman and bishop was stricken with grief, not only because that fellow had fallen, but also because he had brought shame on him. As Marcion could not wheedle what he required out of him, he felt unable to bear the people’s ridicule and fled from his city, and betook himself to Rome, no less, at a period following the death of Hyginus, the bishop of Rome. (The latter was ninth in succession from the apostles Peter and Paul.) Meeting the elders who were still alive and had been taught by the pupils of the apostles, he asked for permission to assemble with the church; and no one allowed it to him. Finally, inflamed with jealousy at not getting a leading position in, along with entry into, the church, he thought of an expedient, and took refuge in the heresy of the fraud, Cerdon. Then he began, as we might put it, to use that position of principle, ensconced, so to say, behind the doors of disputed theses, to tender this particular thesis to those who were the elders at that time: “Tell me, what does this mean: “They do not put new wine into old wineskins, nor a patch of untreated material onto an old garment; otherwise, the filling (Gk. plerôma) comes away, and will not match the old. Then the rent will be made worse.” And when the simple-hearted and wholly sanctified elders and teachers of the holy church of God heard this, they returned an answer in accord with the principles of discipleship, speaking to him in simplicity, as follows: “Child, this is the meaning of the old wineskins — they represent the attitudes of the Pharisees and scribes, hardened by long continuance in sins, and unreceptive of the message of the Gospel. And the old garment refers to such as Judas, who had long continued in his love of money and so did not accept the message of the new, holy and heavenly mystery, the message of the hope. And though he was joined in fellowship with the eleven apostles, and called by the Lord Himself, he held the creature to be of superior worth, for reasons of self-interest, without any good cause. So his intentions did not accord with the hope of higher things, and with the heavenly calling that looks to blessings in store, instead of treasures down here and worldly repute, and passing friendship, aspiration and pleasure.” But he replied: “Not so! It means something quite different.” That was Marcion’s riposte. All because they did not want to accept him into communion. So he put this in plain words to them: “Why did you refuse to receive me into communion?” They replied, “Because we are unable to do so without the permission of your reverend father. For there is one faith, and one fellowship of the like-minded, and we are unable to act contrary to our fine fellow minister, and your own father.” Then Marcion became jealous and was roused to great anger and pride, and since he was that sort of person he made the rent. He became head of his own sect and said, “I shall rend your church, and make a permanent rent in it.” He did indeed make a rent of no small proportions, but by rending himself and his converts, not the church.”

§2. The chronology of Marcion’s sojourn in Rome is complicated, and riddled with inconsistencies, in the standard studies, but only because of a refusal to accept the statements in the original sources, especially the date of Marcion’s expulsion from the First Church of Rome in Tertullian, viz. the era of Bishop Eleutherus or shortly thereafter (c. AD 175-189). This dating is rejected because the existence of two separated churches is not contemplated in the usual reconstruction. At the very time when Marcion was outlawed as a heretic by Justin Martyr at the Timothinian Baths (his First Apology mentioning the worldwide spread of Marcion’s heresy dates from around the third quarter of the second century AD), and by other orthodox Bible-teachers, he was actually an active, even an overactive, member of the First Church of Rome! In simple summary: Marcion arrived in Rome around AD 141 just after the death of Bishop Hyginus of the First Church, according to Epiphanius. He was rejected at that time by the Bible-believing congregation at the Timothinian Baths (Santa Pudenziana), and then joined the First Church as an adherent of Cerdon. (Cerdon continued professing orthodox beliefs within the First Church in the time of Hyginus.) After Cerdon’s death Marcion became head of Cerdon’s school within the First Church (as Tertullian affirms) at least as early as the episcopate of Bishop Anicetus c. AD 144, as the Marcionites dated the birth of their movement some 115 years after Christ, presumably from the baptism of Christ in the 15th year of Tiberius c. AD 29. He continued in this position, “flourishing” (according to Irenaeus) in the episcopate of Anicetus (trad. c. AD 155-166) and planting his movement in other countries (as Justin informs us), till the episcopate of Eleutherus (c. AD 175-189), latterly with varied fortunes. At last he was expelled from the First Church, and started his own sect, outside of both the First Church and the Bible-believing orthodox communion.

§3. Other relevant quotations: Tertullian Adv. Marc. I. xix. 2-3: “Of this teacher there is no doubt that he is a heretic of the Antonine period, impious under the pious. Now, from Tiberius to Antoninus Pius, there are about 115 years and 6 1/2 months. Just such an interval do they place between Christ and Marcion. Inasmuch, then, as Marcion, as we have shown, first introduced this God to notice in the time of Antoninus, the matter becomes at once clear, if you are a shrewd observer. The dates already decide the case, that he who came to light for the first time in the reign of Antoninus, did not appear in that of Tiberius; in other words, that the God of the Antonine period was not the God of the Tiberian; and consequently, that he whom Marcion has plainly preached for the first time, was not revealed by Christ (who announced His revelation as early as the reign of Tiberius).” “De quo tamen constat, Antoninianus haereticus est, sub Pio impius. A Tiberio autem usque ad Antoninum anni fere cxv et dimidium anni cum dimidio mensis. Tantundem temporis ponunt inter Christum et Marcionem. [3] Cum igitur sub Antonino primus Marcion hunc deum induxerit, sicut probavimus, statim, qui sapis, plana res est. Praeiudicant tempora quod sub Antonino primum processit sub Tiberio non processisse, id est deum Antoniniani imperii Tiberiani non fuisse, atque ita non a Christo revelatum quem constat a Marcione primum praedicatum.” Tertullian Praes. Haer. xxx. 1-3: “Where was Marcion then, that shipmaster of Pontus, the zealous student of Stoicism? Where was Valentinus then, the disciple of Platonism? For it is evident that those men lived not so long ago, — in the reign of Antoninus for the most part, — and that they at first were believers in the doctrine of the Catholic Church, in the church of Rome under the episcopate of the blessed Eleutherus [Tertullian broke away from the First Church about the time of Victor, Eleutherus’ successor, and still refers to Eleutherus as “blessed” — evidently the rejection of the Quartodeciman Montanist Blastus did not affect yet Tertullian’s own Cataproclan Montanists], until on account of their ever restless curiosity, with which they even infected the brethren, they were more than once expelled. Marcion, indeed, [went] with the two hundred thousand sesterces [Roman currency, but the amount is uncertain: sestertius, masc., is a single sesterce, a small silver coin originally worth two and a half copper asses, whilst sestertium, neut., is a thousand sesterces: unfortunately they both have the same abl. plural, which is the case and number in Tertullian here, so the figure can also (and, considering that Marcion had a rather substantial business background as a shipmaster, less probably) be interpreted as “two hundred sesterces”] which he had brought into the church, and, when banished at last to a permanent excommunication, they scattered abroad the poisons of their doctrines. Afterwards, it is true, Marcion professed repentance, and agreed to the conditions granted to him — that he should receive reconciliation if he restored to the church all the others whom he had been training for perdition: he was prevented, however, by death.” “XXX. [1] Vbi tunc Marcion, ponticus nauclerus, Stoicae studiosus? ubi Valentinus Platonicae sectator? [2] Nam constat illos neque adeo olim fuisse, Antonini fere principatu, et in catholicae primo doctrinam credidisse apud ecclesiam Romanensem sub episcopatu Eleutherii benedicti, donec ob inquietam semper eorum curiositatem, qua fratres quoque uitabant, semel et iterum eiecti, Marcion quidem cum ducentis sestertiis quae ecclesiae intulerat, nouissime in perpetuum discidium relegati, uenena doctrinarum suarum disseminauerunt. [3] Postmodum Marcion paenitentiam confessus cum condicioni datae sibi occurrit, ita pacem recepturus si ceteros quoque, quos perditioni erudisset, ecclesiae restitueret, morte praeuentus est.”


94. This Pudens is mentioned by Paul shortly before his martyrdom, along with Linus (Linus not then as a pastor): II Timothy, 4. 6-22: “6 For I [Paul] 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.”


95. §1. Liber Pontificalis (Book of the Popes), under the name Pius: “Hic ex rogatu beate Praxedis dedicavit aecclesiam thermas Novati, in vico Patricii, in honore sororis sue sanctae Potentianae, ubi et multa dona obtulit; ubi et sepius sacrificium Domino offerens ministrabat. Inmo et frontem baptismi construit fecit, manus suas benedixit et consecravit; et multos venientes ad fidem baptizavit in nomine Trinitatis.” “Following the request of the blessed Praxedes [daughter of Pudens], he [Pius] dedicated the baths of Novatus [son of Pudens in some accounts] on the Vicus Patricius as a church in honor of her sister, the holy Potentiana, where also he made many offerings, and where quite frequently he used to minister, offering sacrifice to the Lord. He also had a baptismal font to be constructed, and blessed and consecrated it with his own hands; and many coming to faith he baptized in the Name of the Trinity.”

§2. The Liber Pontificalis is a late reworking of early historical items mixed with semi-historical tradition and legend. Duchesne in his edition of the Liber Pontificalis (i, p. 133, fn. 8) notes that this account has some relationship to the Acts of Saints Pudentiana and Praxedes or The Acts of Pastor and Timothy (after 8th century AD), which give a fuller account than the Liber Pontificalis (see for this account Acta Sanctorum, Maii iv, 297-301). These Acts consist of a letter from the presbyter Pastor [supposed to be Hermas, author of the Pastor (Shepherd) of Hermas and brother of Pius] to another presbyter called Timothy [supposed to be Paul’s disciple] and the reply of the latter. A short narrative is appended. The following is a translation of the Acts. The name Pius has been edited out and relegated to the footnotes (along with the name of the Emperor contemporary with his episcopacy, viz. Antoninus Pius, Emperor AD 138-161), as it clearly interrupts the narrative and is intended to demonstrate that Pius, rather than Hermas (Pastor) was the true bishop. There is no reason why the Acts in this edited form should not be accepted as an authentic memorial of the orthodox, Bible-believing, church in Rome, and the persecution experienced by it in the time of Trajan. Its rejection has largely been due to its depiction of the apostolic church in the city as an entity different from the church of the bishops of the First Church, and Pastor Hermas as the true bishop of Rome, recognized as such by the disciples of Paul. The list of monarchical bishops of the First Church included no such figure. Hence also the need to interpolate the name of bishop Pius and of Emperor Antoninus.

§3. Acts of the Sainted Virgins Pudentiana or Potentiana and Praxedes (text Migne PG II. col. 1011-1024, Bollandists, Acta Sanctorum Maii vol. iv, pp. 296-301, Maii 19, SS. Pudentiana et Praxedes.)

Commencement of the text:

(The Letter of Pastor to Timotheus)

“1. The presbyter Pastor to Timotheus, greetings! Pudens our brother and the friend of apostles, was also a diligent receiver of strangers. After his wife Savinilla died, and his parents, his father Punicus, and his mother, Priscilla (who had joined him and his wife in marriage), he received instruction in all the precepts of the Lord, and came to despise the things of this world. When his wife passed on, she left him two daughters, Praxedes and Potentiana. Them Pudens brought up in all chasteness; and love of Christianity being the main concern for him, he taught them the whole divine law. He, like you, had received instruction from the blessed Paul, and desiring, after the death of his wife, to consecrate his house as a church {Latin “ecclesia”} of Christ, he brought this to a successful issue by means of us sinners: there he set up a house-church {Latin “titulus”} under our name in the city of Rome, more precisely, in the location called Vicus Patricius. As regards this same Pudens, I notify you hereby that he has passed on to be with the Lord of all, leaving the aforesaid daughters, conspicuous for chasteness and trained up in the whole divine law.

“2. These same blessed virgins proceeded to sell all their goods, and distributed them to the poor. Continuing wholly in the love of Christ, without regret, they took every opportunity to express their pride in the blooming beauty of their virginity, and persevered under the yoke together in watchings, in fastings, and in prayers. In that location where their father of blessed memory had dedicated the house-church in my name, a decision was made between myself and the slaves of Christ’s Household, Praxedes and Potentiana, that for the upcoming sacred festal day of the Passover, we should apply ourselves to construct in the same house-church a baptismal pool, to employ it for the baptism of the whole household, which was pagan gentile. It was their own desire, no less than the love of the faith, which propelled them on to see it done.(1) All this, by the help of God, was completed. Then the slaves of Christ’s Household convened their own household, both from the city and from their outlying properties, and entering into debate with them, discovered the Christians amongst them, and provided them with the means to acquire their freedom. These pagan gentiles they thus brought to faith in the holy law of Christ. Then, in the same house-church, following the ancient custom, they celebrated their freedom from slavery. When the day of the Passover came round, they were baptized, a mixed multitude of both sexes, ninety-six in all. Their plans had now been brought to fruition, and they began to hold meetings in the same house-church. Day and night the sound of hymns rang out continuously, and a great throng of pagan gentiles came to the faith, and were baptized with fulness of joy.

“3. By and by these events came to the notice of the Emperor (1a) and he was prompted to take action. The Most Religious (1a) Augustus issued a decree by his own imperial authority that whoever participated in the cult of Christ should understand it must suffice them henceforth to live within the bounds of their own habitations; that they should no longer mix with the rest of the populace, nor dine in public, nor frequent the public bathing establishments, but remain at all times within their own domiciles. Since this decree was observed by all Christians, our daughters dedicated to God, and approved to be true virgins on good testimony, we kept under our guardianship for a considerable period of time in the aforesaid house-church, which was their own domicile, spending our time in prayer, in watchings and fastings, along with the people of God who had come to faith through them, offering up praises to Christ day and night continually, and provided with means sufficient for our needs.(2)

“4. At the end of sixteen years, Potentiana, the virgin of the Lord, passed on to be with the Lord. We and her sister most carefully wrapped her body in a shroud soaked in ointments, and kept it hidden in the aforesaid house-church. Twenty-eight days later we took the body by night and placed it next to her father Pudens in the cemetery of Priscilla on the Via Salaria, the XIVth day before the Kalends of June.

“5. After her death, the virgin of Christ Praxedes continued to live in the aforesaid house-church, under great personal affliction on account of the passing of her sister. Many noble Christians came to console her.(3) Also your own brother, Novatus, came to see her, who is our brother in the Lord. While he offered her his consolation, he also supplied the needs of many Christians from his own resources, and indeed ministered to all from his own resources out of respect to the same virgin Praxedes. He requested that he might be found worthy to receive from her the favor of prayers on his behalf. He also made frequent mention of yourself in that regard.(4) One year and twenty-three days later, it so happened that Novatus was confined to his house with a sickness, and was unable to visit the blessed virgin Praxedes.(5) When we heard he had been confined to his house with this sickness, we all expressed our condolences.

“6. Then the blessed Praxedes said (6) we should go and see him, if perhaps by our visit (7) the Lord might grant him recovery. We all agreed with this suggestion, and set out by night to make our way to where he was. When Novatus, the man of God, saw we had all gathered to come and see him, he immediately offered thanks to God that he had been found worthy of a visit from (8) the virgin of the Lord, as of our concern for his welfare. We remained in his house eight days and nights. During that time he expressed his desire to leave all his material goods to ourselves and the blessed virgin. After making this decision, on the thirteenth day, he passed on to be with the Lord. It is concerning this matter we have directed this letter to you, with permission of (9) the virgin of Christ, Praxedes, so as to find out what you would have us do in regard to the material goods of your brother. Whatever you decide, that will be done in every particular. Sent by the hand of Eusebius, the sub-deacon of the Roman Church.

(The Reply of the Presbyter Timotheus)

“7. The presbyter Timotheus to the sainted brother presbyter Pastor, and the most sainted sister Praxedes, greetings in the Lord! Willingly demonstrating our status as your slaves, wherever you, the fellow members of our Household, are in need, we beseech your sainted virtue to deign to commend our own lowly selves also to the memory of the sainted apostles (10) and to all the saints. I, the lowly one, am filled with great joy, on hearing what you deigned to write me. From this, your sainted virtue will perceive, my mind is made up concerning the matter of which you wrote: and what my brother agreed, agrees with us, the slaves of your Household: that is, whatever he left should be under your say and under the say of the sainted virgin. You have power to dispose of those things as you see fit. We were filled with joy when we received this letter.(11)

“8. At the same time, and having been granted this authority, Praxedes, the virgin of the Lord, requested (12) to consecrate the baths of Novatus, which were not then in use, as a church {Latin “ecclesia”}, because it was evident they comprised a large and spacious structure.(13) So she dedicated (14) the baths of Novatus as a church {Latin “ecclesia”}, named after the blessed virgin Potentiana. (15) Two years later a great persecution of the Christians broke out, and many received the martyr’s crown. At this time Praxedes, the virgin of the Lord, hid many Christians in the above-mentioned house-church, and fed them both with natural food and the Word of God. Then it was reported to the Emperor (15a) that Christian meetings were going on in the house-church of Praxedes. He dispatched a force immediately and arrested many of them. Amongst those arrested were the presbyter Simetrius, and twenty-two others. He ordered them to be beheaded by the sword without a hearing. The blessed Praxedes gathered their corpses by night, and buried them in the cemetery of Priscilla on the VIIth day before the Kalends of June. Then, constrained by great affliction of the body, the virgin of the Lord sighed private prayers to the Lord that she would be counted worthy to be removed securely from this life. Her prayers and tears reached Heaven, because fifty-five days after the suffering unto death of the aforesaid saints, that is, on the XIIth day before the Kalends of August, she went to be with the Lord. Her body I, presbyter Pastor, buried next to her father, Pudens, on the Via Salaria, in the cemetery of Priscilla,(16) in the reign of our Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom be honor and dominion through the eternal ages of ages. Amen.”

End of text.

Footnotes to the text

The following additions were made to the text by an interpolator who wished to represent Pius, rather than Pastor, as the presiding presbyter of the Roman Church. The interpolator was aware Pius had actually been present in the house-church of Pastor at the time these events transpired (according to tradition Pius was the brother of Pastor) and therefore inserted his name, usually with the florid title “sainted bishop of the apostolic seat,” or similar, at the appropriate place, where the members of Pastor’s congregation were involved. It is noticeable that these additions interrupt the flow of the narrative, which makes perfect sense without them, and conflict directly in some cases with the role of Pastor. Almost identical wording relating to Pius’ participation in the construction of the baptismal pool occurs in the Liber Pontificalis. Traditionally the antiquarian Pope Damasus was the author of the earliest edition of the Liber Pontificalis and possibly it was he who inserted these notes in the Acts of Potentiana and Praxedes. Pius later headed an heretical congregation, with whom Pastor’s church did not fellowship, on the Vicus Lateranus, and this, according to the footnote 15 to the text infra, he claimed to be the official “House-church of Rome.”

(1) The present text adds: “When we consulted Pius, the sainted bishop {Latin “episcopus”} of the apostolic seat, concerning this plan, he was so delighted with it, he encouraged the construction of the baptistery, as we had planned, with enthusiasm; he also personally participated in the design and building of the pool.”

(1a) The present text adds: “Antoninus” meaning Antoninus Pius, the Emperor who was contemporary with Bishop Pius.

(2) The present text adds: “Now, the most blessed Pius also often came to visit us, rejoicing, and offered sacrifices to the Lord on our behalf.”

(3) The present text adds: “… among them, the sainted bishop Pius.”

(4) The present text adds: “… to the most blessed bishop Pius, as he approached the altar of the Lord.”

(5) The present text adds: “So while bishop Pius was attending to the welfare of all the Christians, including the virgin Praxedes, he enquired, along with the rest, of Novatus.”

(6) The present text adds: “… to our father, the sainted bishop Pius, let your sanctity give orders that …”

(7) The present text adds: “… and your [viz. Pius’] prayers …”

(8) The present text adds: “… the sainted bishop Pius and …”

(9) The present text adds: “… Pius the blessed bishop of the apostolic seat and …”

(10) The present text adds: “… and to the sainted Pius who presides on the apostolic seat …”

(11) The present text adds: “… and we handed it over to be read to the sainted bishop Pius. When it was read to him, he gave thanks to God.”

(12) The present text adds: “… the blessed bishop Pius …”

(13) The present text adds: “The sainted bishop Pius agreed to this plan.”

(14) Latin “dedicavit;” the interpolator interpreted this as “he [viz. Pius] dedicated:” see the following note.

(15) The present interpolated text (omitting the bracketed words inserted by way of emendation by the Bollandists and reproduced in Migne) reads: “… he [viz. Pius] dedicated the baths of Novatus as a church, named after the blessed virgin Potentiana, within the boundaries of the city of Rome, in the street {Latin “vicus”} called Lateranus, where he [Pius] constituted also the House-church of Rome {Latin “titulus Romanus”}. In the same location he consecrated a baptistery on the IVth day before the Ides of May.” The interpolator represents the ceremony of dedication of the house-church named after Potentiana on the Vicus Patricius as having been transacted by Pius at the house-church on the Vicus Lateranus, that is, where Pius exercised his monarchical bishopric. Some confusion has resulted because the Acts of Pastor and Timothy call the house-church on the Vicus Patricius the “House-church of Praxedes” (titulus Praxedis, Acts §8), at the time she was the sole-surviving daughter. Thus some mss. of the Acts say Pius (sic) dedicated the Baths of Novatus as a church in the name of “Praxedes” instead of “Potentiana” (Bollandists, SS. Pudentiana et Praxedes, 19 May, Annotata [k]). Another textual variant notes that Praxedes lived at some time or other in “Titulo Lateranensi” or the “Lateran House-church” (Bollandists ibid., Annotata [g]), which implies the site on the Vicus Lateranus later known as Santa Prassede was indeed at one time in the possession of the family of Pudens. In the Acts the two names, Potentiana and Praxedes, are used interchangeably for the house-church on the Vicus Patricius, and it is probable they were similarly used interchangeably in some circles to denote the house-church on the Vicus Lateranus, because that too once belonged to their family. Later the former alone came to be called Santa Pudenziana and the latter Santa Prassede. Baronius had in his library a copy of a MS, beginning “Sanctorum vestigia,” and containing the Res Gestae Sancti Pastoris which was accustomed to be read on Pastor’s dies natalis; the ninth lection contained the following passage relating to this house-church on the Vicus Lateranus: “quem {sc. Pastorem} pia devotio Paulo apostolo adeo charum et unicum conjunxit, quod in vico, qui dicitur Latericius, ecclesiam sui nominis consecravit.” “Religious devotion bound him [Pastor] so dearly and wholly to the Apostle Paul, that in the Steet called Latericius [= Vicus Lateranus] he [Paul] consecrated a church [Latin: ecclesia] under his [Pastor’s] name.” (Migne PG II col. 1013D.) This asserts that the house-church on the Vicus Lateranus was originally consecrated as the “Church of Pastor” by the Apostle Paul himself, and this must have been prior to AD 62. The evidence outlined in The First Church of Rome demonstrates that the Lateran house-church, which was the earliest church established in the city, fell into heresy in the reign of Claudius, when it was deprived of its Jewish leaders, Aquila and Priscilla. Thus, it could only have been when Paul first met the refugee Aquila in Corinth, and learned of the abandoned gentile church in Rome, that he appointed the supervision of the congregation there, temporarily perhaps, and presumably by letter, to Hermas (Pastor). Hermas would have been a recent convert at that time, a youthful and enthusiastic gentile believer. He is mentioned somewhat later at the end of Paul’s epistle to the Romans (AD 58), but not then as supervisor of any congregation. By that time the heretics had taken over the house-church on the Vicus Lateranus, and the faithful Hermas (Pastor) had been forced to leave. Later in life he received his prophetic revelations written down in the book The Shepherd of Hermas, and later still, at a very advanced age, in the first few decades of the second century AD (before c. AD 122), he became pastor of this house-church in Pudens’ other property on the Vicus Patricius, at least one third of a Roman mile away from the house-church on the Vicus Lateranus. The heretical group continued in operation meanwhile on the Vicus Lateranus and was joined by the apostate brother of Pastor, Pius, some time not long after the events described in these Acts.

(15a) The present text adds: “Antoninus” meaning Antoninus Pius, the Emperor who was contemporary with Bishop Pius.

(16) The present text adds: “… where their prayers flourish unto this day …”

The outline of events in the Acts is as follows: there was a certain Christian called Pudens in Rome whose mother was named Priscilla. They owned some property and had shown great zeal in entertaining Apostles and strangers. After the death of his own wife, Pudens consecrated his house as a church [= Santa Pudenziana]. This church in the house of Pudens was erected into a Roman parish under the name of titulus Pastoris (the presbyter Pastor being placed in charge of it). [This implies Santa Pudenziana was originally known as the church “of Pastor” Hermas, i.e. “The Church of the Shepherd”; it also implies a traditional date for Hermas’ pastorship after the episcopate of Evaristus as, according to The Book of Popes, which draws for this period on the same traditions underlying the Acts of Potentiana and Praxedes, Evaristus (traditionally AD 97-105, according to the Peter in Rome theory, but historically before AD 62), was the bishop who instituted the tituli in Rome] Pudens passed his remaining days in prayer, fasting and charitable deeds, along with his two daughters, Praxedis [Praxedes] and Potentiana [Pudentiana], chaste virgins. After Pudens’ death, the two daughters obtained the consent of Pastor Hermas to the building of a baptistery adjoining the church. (Pius, Hermas’ “brother”, was present in the congregation at this time and participated in the construction.) When the virgin Potentiana deceased, the letter of Pastor informs us, Pastor himself and Praxedis her sister placed her body by the side of that of her father in the Cemetery of Priscilla [evidently here the Priscilla who gave her name to the cemetery is the mother of Pudens] on the Via Salaria.

§4. Now begins what in some MSS. is called the “Acts of Praxedis”. Many noble Christians came to console Praxedis on the loss of her sister. Amongst them was a certain Novatus, described as the brother of one Timothy, though not in these Acts as a son of Pudens (as in later Martyrologies). Novatus later fell ill and Pastor and Praxedis visited him in his affliction: the issue was that he left them the whole of his property in his will. A letter containing all this information was sent to his brother Timothy to find out what he would want them to do in the matter of his brother’s estate. Timothy’s reply was that he rejoiced at what his brother had done and he was happy to leave the disposition in the hands of Praxedis and Pastor. After these letters comes a narrative of what followed. Praxedis asked that the Baths of Novatus, which at that time were not in use, should be consecrated as a church. This was done, and the church was named after the departed sister Potentiana. The location, over what were originally the Baths of Novatus, is the same occupied by the present church of Santa Pudenziana. The congregation in Pudens’ house on the Vicus Patricius seems to have congregated henceforth in this new property on the same street, because of its greater size. As well as interpreting the latter event as the work of Pius, the interpolator added at this point in the narrative: “He [Pius] dedicated [it] inside the boundaries of Rome on the Vicus Lateranus, where he constituted also the House-church of Rome.” This important note informs us that Santa Prassede on the Vicus Lateranus was considered the official Church of Rome, according to its own bishops.

§5. The events in the Acts before the constitution of the official Church of Rome on the Lateranus by Pius seem to be pictured as occurring in the first decade or so of the second century AD, when the aged Hermas (Pastor) was presiding elder of the congregation at Pudens’ house, presumably following Clement, who was pastor from c. AD 62 till at least the time of Domitian. Hermas’ “brother” Pius had not apostatized at this time and was therefore active in the congregation at Pudens’ house. However, the wording of the entry in the Book of Popes presumes Pius was latterly no longer active as bishop at the church in Pudens’ house. I.e. Pius subsequently apostatized and went over to the Gnostics at Santa Prassede. (Pius was probably not a literal brother of Hermas, as Hermas himself was advanced in age at this point at the turn of the second century AD, and Pius became bishop even later, during the reign of Antoninus Pius which was AD 138-161. He was probably, rather, a “spiritual” brother, or, even more probably, a “brother bishop” in the earliest tradition. That term would have been controversial, since no bishop was recognized in the latter-day theory of the First Church outside of its own monarchical line. For that reason it was liable to be, and evidently was actually, expunged in the tradition preserved in the First Church.) Pius was still at Pudens’ house-church at the time of Potentiana’s funeral and had some time later consented to the consecration of the Baths of Novatus (which he may well have done as a member of that congregation). However, he would only have constituted the church on the Lateranus as the official Church of Rome after his apostasy. The name Praxedes designated it a spiritual “twin-sister” of the church on the Vicus Patricius, which was named after Potentiana.

§6. In Justin’s time the house-church on the Vicus Patricius was known as the Timothinian Baths — presumably after Timothy the last owner of the site before it became a church. Its previous name in the Acts and the Book of Popes was “the Baths of Novatus” though the earlier and neighboring property where the congregation met (according to the Acts) was called the “Titulus Pastoris” “Pastor’s Church”. The usual name from the fourth century on was “Ecclesia Pudentiana” (“The Church of Pudens”), producing the modern name “Santa Pudenziana”, or “Titulus Pudentis” (attested AD 528, “Pudens’ Church”). However, the historical existence of the two daughters of Pudens is corroborated by the fact that their tombs and that of Pudens are mentioned in the “Liberian Calendar” and in the “Pilgrim Itineraries” as existing in the fourth and fifth centuries in the Cemetery of Priscilla, where, according to the Acts, they were buried. Modern archaeology has consistently confirmed the general reliability of the old traditions respecting early Christians buried in the Catacombs of Priscilla. Paschal I in his translation of the remains of saints from the catacombs into the city in AD 817 brought the sarcophagi of SS. Pudentiana and Praxedis to Santa Prassede, and the names of both are recorded on a catalogue inscribed on a marble slab to the right of the altar there, and their portraits appear in the mosaics of this date, which adorn the church.

§7. The Baths of Novatus on the Vicus Patricius at Santa Pudenziana were certainly not changed into a church building of the familiar kind until after Constantine legitimized the Christian religion. Before that, this edifice was simply a house-church (ecclesia domestica) of the early Christians of Rome which happened to have baths included in the structure. Excavations on the Viminal Hill in 1930 (Terenzio, Bulletino della Commissione Archeologica Comunale di Roma, 1931) confirmed the broad outline of the tradition about the baths of Novatus. In the substructure of Santa Pudenziana the remains of the baths were found, making up part of the masonry of a most vast and complex thermal edifice at three levels. A house from the Republican (i.e. pre-Christian) period formed the base of the baths, which were in use in the second century AD. The baths were located under the floor of the later church. “Name: Thermae Novatianae Sive Timotheanae (Balneum Novati). Type: Bath Construction Date: 138-161 AD (after 129 AD, Krautheimer). Site (primary): Northwest of S. Maria Maggiore, at S. Pudenziana Note: L. Bufalini, Roma (Rome, 1551), pl. 9; F. Coarelli, Roma (Rome, 1994), 216, 241; L. Duchesne, Le Liber Pontificalis (Paris, 1892), I:132; A. Fulvio, L’Antichita di Roma, ed. G. Ferrucci (Venice, 1588), 90; R. Krautheimer, et. al, Corpus Basilicarum Christianarum Romae (Rome, 1971), III:288-96, fig. 250; E. Nash, Pictorial Dictionary of Ancient Rome (New York, 1962), II: 465-66, fig. 1273-75; F. M. Nichols, ed. and trans., Mirabilia Urbis Romae (New York, 1986), 9; L. Richardson, NTDAR (Baltimore, 1992), 395. Note: The Thermae Novatianae Sive Timotheanae, which date from the principate of Antoninus Pius (138-161) were built upon the ruins of a house of the Hadrianic period. They stand on a series of barrel vaulted substructures set into the slope of the Viminal hill. The basilical hall of this bath complex was converted into the church of S. Pudenziana, perhaps in the 4th century (Richardson) and not in the second century under Pius I (during the principate of Antoninus Pius) as asserted in the Liber Pontificalis [though that work may be presumed to be describing the dedication of the house church (ecclesia domestica) for sacred use, not the conversion of the building into a church of the type we are familiar with, which occurred at the later date — ed.]. The floor level of the bath remains is 6.00 meters below the level of via Balbo where remains of the bath hall can be seen today (Nash). Note: “The principal axis of the basilica [of the bath] lay at right angles to the present church axis”. The basilica was about 9 meters wide and 27.5 meters long, and there were two water tanks “one at each end flanking a shallow pool with apsidal protrusions….and … the terrace was designed from the outset to support the tanks.” The baths were remodeled and paved with mosaics depicting marine animals. The “structural core of the thermae hall — its supports and clerestorey walls — were retained with little change when the building was converted into a church [viz. of the later type — ed.]” (Krautheimer, 288 and 297).” This information is online as at 09/2003 at Aquae Urbis Romae http://www.iath.virginia.edu/waters/main.html, Object ID A0785 (use the Search facility to locate this Object ID).


96. Rev L. Smithett Lewis, late vicar of Glastonbury from St Joseph of Arimathea at Glastonbury, James Clarke & Co, London, 1955. Chapter Two. “There was probably no other aboveground church in Rome than the Titulus [ = Santa Pudenziana — ed.] till the time of Constantine the Great, when the Empire followed him in becoming Christian about AD 326. [This statement is factually incorrect: the author takes no account of the history of Santa Prisca near the Circus Maximus, which for a time was the house-church of Aquila and Priscilla after their return to Rome, of Santa Prassede, and of St Mary or the neighboring church in Trastevere, founded by Bishop Callistus.] It is interesting to note the claim that this Titulus* — or Hospitium Apostolorum, or Palatium Britannicum — was the abode of Rufus Pudens, the Roman noble who married Claudia Britannica, the most cultured woman in Rome, apparently daughter of the British king, Caractacus, and sister of Linus, Bishop of Rome.** [FOOTNOTE ON THE WORD TITULUS: * This “most ample house” with its baths named after Timothy and Novatus, two of the children (sic) of Rufus and Claudia, built on Viminalis Hill, became first a place where their daughter Praxedes hid martyrs, then a hospice for pilgrims from the East, and under Pope Evaristus (AD 100-109 [the dates here are legendary and incorrect — ed.]) a church, and was called Pastor’s, probably after Pastor Hermas, who wrote to them. Baronius expressly calls St. Timothy a disciple of St. Peter and St. Paul (Baronius, Vol 2, Sec. 56, p47). Pastor Hermas says that all four children, Timotheus, Novatus, Praxedes and Pudentiana, were instructed by preaching of the Apostles (Baronius, Vol. 2, Sec. 8-148.). [FOOTNOTE ON LINUS: ** Bishop, AD 69, martyred AD 90 (Baronius, Vol. 1, p. 778). … SS Peter and Paul … Linus succeeded them. {Again the dates are incorrect. — ed.}]

On the site of this house where St. Paul probably lived with the British Royal Family in exile, and from which he was probably martyred, is now a church dedicated to St. Pudentiana, one of the martyred daughters of Pudens and Claudia. Pudens died, martyred, AD 96, and Claudia, who survived him one year, is said to have given the Titulus to be a Home for the Faithful, afterwards, between AD 100-109, to become a Christian church ….

It is very interesting to note how the ancient British Royal Family was intimately connected with the earliest Apostolic Church, both in exile at Rome, and in Britain, where they fostered it. And there is a most interesting relic of the friendship of St. Paul and the Caractacus family in the existence of contemporary portraits of St. Paul and Linus engraved in two glass paterae (in the Vatican Museum) depicted in Sir Wyke Bayliss’s Rex Regum (pp 60, 61). In the same Museum and the same book (pp. 73-75) there are contemporary portraits engraved on glass medallions with lines filled in with gold of (1) St. John, Damas, St. Peter and St. Paul; (2) St. Peter and St. Paul; (3) Justin and St. Timothy, which makes all these people live to us.

The Roman poet Martial shows that Claudia Rufina was British. [He calls her “Claudia peregrina et edita Britannis” (Foreign Claudia native of the Britons) (Martial, 13B, XI, 53).] “Since Claudia wife of Rufus comes from the blue-set Britons, how is it that she has so won the hearts of the Latin people?” He praises her beauty and that of her three children as greater than that of Greeks and Italians. It is interesting that he speaks of Rufus as her “holy husband”. In an earlier epigram he had written, “The foreign Claudia marries my Rufus Pudens”. Martial was born in Bilbilis in Spain, and went to Rome AD 65. He wrote the above poem about AD 68. About the same time [the date here is probably a little too late — ed.] St. Paul links together the name of Pudens, Linus and Claudia with Eubulus in his greetings to St. Timothy from Rome (2 Tim, iv, 21). In Romans xvi, 13, he sends greetings from Corinth to “Rufus chosen in the Lord, and his mother, and mine” …. A Pudens, servant of the Emperor Claudius, is named among the sepulchral chambers of the Imperial household. It is a matter, too, of interest that the name of Pudens is also in the well-known Latin inscription on a stone discovered at Chichester, which narrates that Pudens, son of Pudentinus, gave a site there for a Temple to Neptune and Minerva. The inscription also bears the name of the Emperor Tiberius Claudius, who died in AD 37. This would be before the conversion of Rufus Pudens, and the dates fit in well. Baronius tells us that Rufus the Senator received St. Peter [sic Baronius following here the common Roman Catholic myth — ed.] into his house on the Viminalis Hill in the year AD 44. [FOOTNOTE: Baronius’ Annales, Sec. 61, f.365. Those who wish to study more closely the question of Rufus Pudens, Claudia, Linus, St. Pudentiana, and St. Timothy, should refer to Ussher, Brit. Eccl. Antiq., p. 19; Archdeacon Williams’s Claudia and Pudens; the Rev. R. W. Morgan’s St. Paul in Britain, in which the matter is fully treated; and Conybeare and Howson’s Life and Epistles of St. Paul, Vol II, pp. 581, 582, 594, 595; and Baronius’s Annales Ecclesiastic, Vol. I, p. 228, re Vol 2, Sec. 56, p.64; Secs. IV and V, pp. 111-112; Secs. I and II, pp. 148 and 150.]

He was apparently a Christian then, before receiving St. Peter. [See note above on the myth that Peter was in Rome — ed.] If he be the Pudens of the Chichester inscription he was apparently converted between these two dates. Was Rufus Pudens, the Roman, converted in Britain? Was it he who first brought Christianity into the British Royal Family, when or before he married Gladys, soon by an easy transition to become Claudia? It is a fascinating question.

Cressy in his Church History of Brittany, 1618, tells us “Our ancient histories report that Timotheus the eldest son of Rufus came into Brittany [sic] where he converted many to the faith, and at least disposed King Lucius to his succeeding conversion.” [This statement accepts the historicity of the myth of Lucius the native king of Britain. However, there is a possibility indeed that Emperor Lucius (Commodus), the original figure behind the myth, was acquainted with members of the noble family of Pudens in the second century, and perhaps even with Timotheus, though that acquaintance will have been most probably made in Rome. — ed.] And Cardinal Baronius distinctly says that Timotheus was a son of the most noble Roman Senator, Rufus Pudens, a disciple of SS. Peter and Paul” (Vol. 2, Sec. LVI, p47) …. Some think that as a result of these early efforts, when Caractacus and his family went to Rome as prisoners in AD 51, his sister Gladys, his daughters, Gladys (who, in compliment to the Emperor Claudius is said to have taken the name Claudia on her marriage to Rufus Pudens), and Euergen, [St Euergen of Caer Salog (Salisbury) and of Llan Illtud, South Wales, was the first British female saint] and Linus his son were already Christians; but Caractacus and his aged father Bran, who had become an Arch-Druid, were unconverted, probably through troubles of State and war. [That Tacitus does not mention Bran being taken prisoner is not a great obstacle. He may have been taken prisoner, but unknown to Tacitus, or Bran may well have joined his son, after the latter was given his life and freedom to live in Rome.]

The Welsh Triads say that Bran was baptized in Rome in AD 58 by St. Paul. Bp. Edwards of St. Asaph’s Landmarks in the history of the Welsh Church, p.2. The date given by the Triads is impossible. St. Paul did not go to Rome till AD 62 [again the date is a little too late — ed.]. The date 58 is probably the date of the baptism, and the Apostle’s name an addition. The Triads hail from the book of Caradoc of Llancarvan, who died in 1156, but most of the events in them refer to the 6th century. And some must be older than that — one speaks of Glastonbury, Llan Illtud and Ambresbury as the three principal Choirs of Britain, but Ambresbury fell in the 6th century.] When they came back they were Christians, and thenceforth fostered and protected in Siluria or South Wales the Christian Church. Bran returned to Britain before Caractacus, AD 58, very probably as a missionary.

Bran Vendigaid, or the Blessed, was a very remarkable personality. The Welsh Triads not only speak of him as one of the introducers of Christianity, [Triads, 18 and 35, 3rd series. Myvyrian Arch., vol 2] but together with Prydain and Dyfnwal as the three who consolidated elective monarchy in Britain. The Triads call the descendants of Bran one of the Three Holy Families of Britain. [Bran is stated to have returned mortally wounded from his punitive expedition to Ireland, and ordered his companions to carry his head to be buried in the White Hill, London (where the White Tower now stands), as a protection against future invasions, and there it remamed till, some 500 years later, King Arthur had it removed. Vide Mabinogion. The Mabinogion (plural of Mabinogi) are the oldest remains of Welsh mythological sagas. Every young Bard had to learn them by heart, which confirms Caesar’s statement that the Druids never committed their learning to writing, although it is said that they used Greek letters in writing.]


97. See footnote 26, above, >>, on this.


98. See footnote 95.


99. Eusebius, Hist. Ecc. IV. xxii. 1-3: “HEGESIPPUS in the five books of Memoirs which have come down to us has left a most complete record of his own views. In them he states that on a journey to Rome he met a great many bishops, and that he received the same doctrine from all. It is fitting to hear what he says after making some remarks about the epistle of Clement to the Corinthians. His words are as follows: “And the church of the Corinthians continued in the true faith until Primus was bishop in Corinth [implying some churches and/or Corinth itself did not]. I conversed with them on my way to Rome, and abode with the Corinthians many days, during which we were mutually refreshed in the true doctrine. And when I had come to Rome I formed [or, completed, or supplied] a succession [Gk. diadochên epoiêsamên] until Anicetus, whose deacon was Eleutherus. And Anicetus was succeeded by Soter, and he by Eleutherus. In every succession, and in every city that is held which is preached by the law and the prophets and the Lord.”


100. Martyrdom of the Holy Martyrs Justin etc. 2: Rusticus the prefect said, “Where do you assemble?” Justin said, “Where each one chooses and can: for do you fancy that we all meet in the very same place? Not so; because the God of the Christians is not circumscribed by place; but being invisible, fills heaven and earth, and everywhere is worshiped and glorified by the faithful.” Rusticus the prefect said, “Tell me where you assemble, or into what place do you collect your followers?” Justin said, “I live above one Martinus, at the Timothinian Baths [or, the Baths of Martinus son of Timothinus]; and during the whole time (and I am now living in Rome for the second time) I am unaware of any other meeting than his. And if any one wished to come to me, I communicated to him the doctrines of truth.” Rusticus said, “Are you not, then, a Christian?” Justin said, “Yes, I am a Christian.” Justin’s dates are correctly given in Epiphanius, Panarion, Haer. XLVI. 1 (ed. Migne, PG XLI, 837): “This Justin was a Samaritan by nationality, who had come to faith in Christ, and, having practiced great austerity, and been a model of the virtuous life, at the end bearing witness as a martyr for Christ, proved himself worthy of the perfect crown, his floruit in the city of the Romans falling within the thirty years that included the time when Rusticus was in office and the time of Emperor Hadrian [lit. being in the prime age within thirty years in the (city) of the Romans at the time of ruler Rusticus and Hadrian the king].”


101. Justin Martyr, Second Apology 6: “For He was made man also, as we before said, having been conceived according to the will of God the Father, for the sake of believing men, and for the destruction of the demons. And now you can learn from what is under your own observation. For numberless demoniacs throughout the whole world, and in your city [Rome], many of our Christian men exorcising them in the name of Jesus Christ, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, have healed and do heal, rendering helpless and driving the possessing devils out of the men, though they could not be cured by all the other exorcists, and those who used incantations and drugs.”


102. Tertullian, On Fasting Against the Psychics (De Ieiunio Adversus Psychicos), ii. 4-5 (emphases mine): “4. ‘Xerophagies’ [fasts in which certain types of food only were permitted, including especially the one before Passover] is a new name for what is treated as an official duty and is suggestive of pagan superstition: it is reminiscent of the asceticism found in the purificatory rites of Apis, Isis and the Great Mother [Cybele], which involve the exclusion of certain items of food: it was, however, if the truth be told, merely to ensure that the free faith in Christ should not depend for its practice of abstinence from any types of food on the Jewish Law, that the Apostle [Paul] lumped together all such practices in one and the same market-stall, in his expression of detestation for those who, as they forbade marriage, also commanded to abstain from foodstuffs, which were ordained by God. 5. Therefore we cannot accept that those who practice these rites in modern times are those referred to then as ones who depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits of this world, having a conscience branded with doctrines of deceitful talkers. What firebrands, I pray you, effected this result? Am I to believe those at which we multiply marriages and roast dinners every day?” Latin: “4. Xerophagias uero nouum adfectati officii nomen et proximum ethnicae superstitioni, quales castimoniae Apim, Isidem, et Magnem Matrem certorum eduliorum exceptione purificant, cum fides libera in Christo ne Iudaicae quidem legi abstinentiam quorundam ciborum debeat, semel in totum macellum ab apostolo admissa, detestatore eorum qui sicut nubere prohibeant, ita iubeant cibis abstinere a deo conditis. 5. Et ideo non esse iam tunc praenotatos in nouissimis temporibus abscendentes a fide, intendentes spiritibus mundi seductoribus, doctrinis mendaciloquorum inustam habentes conscientiam. Quibus, oro te, ignibus? Credo, quibus nuptias saepe deducimus et cenas quotidie coquimus?” Ibid. xvi. 7-8: “7. In fact you do well, as you heap blasphemies on our xerophagies, to equate them with the Ascetic Fast [Latin: Castus, see footnote 139, below, >>] of the cult of Isis and Cybele. I accept the comparison you make to defend your position. The rite thereby is confirmed to be of God, as the Devil, the emulator of the things of God, is imitating it. A lie is formed out of truth, superstition is compounded from elements of true religion. 8.Thereby you are proved to be that much more without true religion, and the pagan that much more provided with it: by this practice he sacrifices his appetite for the sake of the idol, but you are not willing to do the same for God.” Latin: “7. Sed bene quod tu nostris xerophagiis blasphemias ingerens casto Isidis et Cybeles eas adaequas. Admitto testimonialem comparationem. Hinc diuinam constabit, quam diabolus diuinorum aemulator imitatur. Ex ueritate mendacium struitur, ex religione superstitio compingitur. 8. Hinc tu eo inreligiosior, quanto ethnicus paratior. Ille denique idolo gulam suam mactat, tu deo non uis.” The whole argument of this tract of Tertullian is aimed at orthodox, Bible-believing, Christians who charged that the fasts imposed on those who celebrated the Passover ritual of Tertullian (the same ritual as was followed in the First Church of Rome) were comparable to the ritual, ascetic, fasts imposed in paganism on devotees of Isis and the Great Mother goddess, Cybele, at the time of the pagan spring festival. The basic (anti-Jewish) Passover ritual had always been practiced in the First Church but was latterly adopted by the Montanists, Tertullian himself being a fervent Montanist. This ritual developed out of the Docetist belief that the bread of the eucharist was the material body of the Supreme or Good God. The adherents of this doctrine abstained from worshiping with those who denied the communion bread was (literally) the body of Jesus, and believed rather that Jesus suffered and died in the flesh. (See footnote 27, above, >>.) With the (magical) importance of their eucharist uppermost in their minds, the bishops of the First Church even sent portions of it out to any in other churches who were willing to receive it. Those who received this eucharist in other churches and practiced other rituals at the same time, e.g. the Jewish Passover celebrated by the disciples of John, were not at first excommunicated by the bishops of the First Church. When the Montanists took it up, however, they added an obligatory element which was not present originally, because in Montanism rituals of this kind were now declared to be commandments of the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit. From the Montanists the First Church adopted the idea of making the Passover fast obligatory and added this to its already-existing ritual. It is obligatory to this day in Roman Catholicism (Lent). Now those who celebrated the Jewish Passover were summarily excommunicated by the First Church. Irenaeus rebuked the First Church bishop, Victor, for having thus altered the practice of his predecessors. The Lenten fast of seven weeks before Easter was, according to the 6th century Liber Pontificalis, instituted in Rome by bishop Telesphorus (sub nom.): “hic constituit, ut septem ebdomadas ante pascha ieiunium celebraretur:” “he ordained, that for seven weeks before Pascha a fast should be celebrated.”


103. Bede De Temporum Ratione xv: “In olden times the English people — for it did not seem fitting to me that I should speak of other nations’ observance of the year and yet be silent about my own nation’s — calculated their months according to the course of the Moon. Hence, after the manner of the Greeks and the Romans, [the months] take their name from the Moon, for the moon is called mona and each month monath. The first month, which the Latins call January, is Giuli; February is called Solmonath; March Hrethmonath; April, Eosturmonath …. Eosturmonath has a name which is now translated “Paschal month”, and which was once called after a goddess of theirs named Eostre, in whose honor feasts were celebrated in that month. Now they designate that Paschal season by her name, calling the joys of the new rite by the time-honored name of the old observance.”


104. See footnote 26 §1, above, >>.


105. Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. I. xxv. 6: “Others of them employ outward marks, branding their disciples inside the lobe of the right ear. From among these also arose Marcellina, who came to Rome under [the episcopate of] Anicetus, and, holding these doctrines, she led multitudes astray. They style themselves Gnostics. They also possess images, some of them painted, and others formed from different kinds of material; while they maintain that a likeness of Christ was made by Pilate at that time when Jesus lived among them. They crown these images, and set them up along with the images of the philosophers of the world that is to say, with the images of Pythagoras, and Plato, and Aristotle, and the rest. They have also other modes of honoring these images, after the same manner of the Gentiles.”


106. The following quotation relates to a subsequent phase of the Paschal controversy, in the sixth-century Celtic West, but it shows how the First Church promoted paganism (including their obligatory Paschal ritual) by playing it off against Judaism, as Tertullian did already in the second and third century: Bede, Ecclesiastical History, III. xxv: “Then Wilfrid [the representative of the First Church of Rome], being ordered by the king to speak, delivered himself thus :— ‘The Easter which we observe, we saw celebrated by all at Rome, where the blessed apostles, Peter and Paul, lived, taught, suffered, and were buried; we saw the same done in Italy and in France, when we traveled through those countries for pilgrimage and prayer. We found the same practiced in Africa, Asia, Egypt, Greece, and all the world, wherever the church of Christ is spread abroad, through several nations and tongues, at one and the same time; except only these and their accomplices in obstinacy, I mean the Picts and the Britons, who foolishly, in these two remote islands of the world, and only in part even of them, oppose all the rest of the universe. When he had so said, Colman answered, ‘It is strange that you will call our labors foolish, wherein we follow the example of so great an apostle, who was thought worthy to lay his head on our Lord’s bosom, when all the world knows him to have lived most wisely.’ Wilfrid replied, ‘Far be it from us to charge John with folly, for he literally observed the precepts of the Jewish law, whilst the church still Judaized in many points, and the apostles were not able at once to cast off all the observances of the law which had been instituted by God. In which way it is necessary that all who come to the faith should forsake the idols which were invented by devils, that they might not give scandal to the Jews that were among the Gentiles. For this reason it was, that Paul circumcised Timothy, that he offered sacrifice in the temple, that he shaved his head with Aquila and Priscilla at Corinth; for no other advantage than to avoid giving scandal to the Jews. Hence it was, that James said, to the same Paul, ‘You see, brother, how many thousands of the Jews have believed; and they are all zealous for the law.’ And yet, at this time, the Gospel spreading throughout the world, it is needless, nay, it is not lawful, for the faithful either to be circumcised, or to offer up to God sacrifices of flesh.’”


107. See footnote 86.


108. Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. III. iii. 4: To these things all the Asiatic Churches testify, as do also those men who have succeeded Polycarp down to the present time, — a man who was of much greater weight, and a more steadfast witness of truth, than Valentinus, and Marcion, and the rest of the heretics. He it was who, coming to Rome in the time of Anicetus caused many to turn away from the aforesaid heretics to the Church of God, proclaiming that he had received this one and sole truth from the apostles, — that, namely, which is handed down by the Church.”


109. Tertullian, Praesc. Haer. 30: “Where was Marcion then, that shipmaster of Pontus, the zealous student of Stoicism? Where was Valentinus then, the disciple of Platonism? For it is evident that those men lived not so long ago, — in the reign of Antoninus for the most part, — and that they at first were believers in the doctrine of the Catholic Church, in the church of Rome under the episcopate of the blessed Eleutherus [trad. AD 175-189], until on account of their ever restless curiosity, with which they even infected the brethren, they were more than once expelled. Marcion, indeed, [went] with the two hundred thousand sesterces which he had brought into the church, and, when banished at last to a permanent excommunication, they scattered abroad the poisons of their doctrines. Afterwards, it is true, Marcion professed repentance, and agreed to the conditions granted to him — that he should receive reconciliation if he restored to the church all the others whom he had been training for perdition: he was prevented, however, by death.”


110. See footnote 105.


111. Hippolytus, Ref. VI. 15: “The disciples, then, of this [Simon] (Magus), celebrate magical rites, and resort to incantations. And (they profess to) transmit both love-spells and charms, and the demons said to be senders of dreams, for the purpose of distracting whomsoever they please. But they also employ those denominated Paredroi. “And they have an image of Simon (fashioned) into the figure of Jupiter, and (an image) of Helen in the form of Minerva; and they pay adoration to these.” But they call the one Lord and the other Lady. And if any one amongst them, on seeing the images of either Simon or Helen, would call them by name, he is cast off, as being ignorant of the mysteries.”


112. The full inscription reads: “Semoni Sanco Deo Fidio SACRVM Sex. Pompeius. S. P. F. Col. Mussianvs Quinquennalis Decur Bidentalis Donum Dedit.”


113. §1. Valerius Maximus, 1. 3. 3: “Cn. Cornelius Hispalus, praetor peregrinus in the year of the consulate of M. Popilius Laenas and L. Calpurnius, ordered the Chaldaeans [astrologers] by an edict to leave Rome and Italy within ten days, since by a fallacious interpretation of the stars they perturbed fickle and silly minds, thereby making profit out of their lies. The same praetor compelled the Jews, who attempted to infect the Roman custom with the cult of Jupiter Sabazius, to return to their homes.” “EXEMPLUM 3. [Par.] Cn. Cornelius Hispalus praetor peregrinus M. Popilio Laenate L. Calpurnio coss. edicto Chaldaeos citra decimum diem abire ex urbe atque Italia iussit, leuibus et ineptis ingeniis fallaci siderum interpretatione quaestuosam mendaciis suis caliginem inicientes. idem Iudaeos, qui Sabazi Iouis cultu Romanos inficere mores conati erant, repetere domos suas coegit. EXEMPLUM 3. [Nep.] Chaldaeos igitur Cornelius Hispalus urbe expulit et intra decem dies Italia abire iussit, ne peregrinam scientiam uenditarent. Iudaeos quoque, qui Romanis tradere sacra sua conati erant, idem Hispalus urbe exterminauit arasque priuatas e publicis locis abiecit.” This event took place in 139 BC, about a year after Simon, the Hasmonean ruler, delegated Numenius, son of Antiochus, and Antipater, son of Jason, as envoys to the Roman Senate to plead on behalf of the Jews.

§2. The Jewish Sabazius cult is probably the single, most important, medium by which Hebrew traditions became intermingled with Graeco-Roman paganism. It seems to have been born in the area of Cappadocia, or Pontus, in Armenia, some time after the Assyrian or Babylonian captivity (8th-6th century BC), when members of a Jewish family called Shabbati (the name formed from the Hebrew word shabbat = “sabbath”) were established in a new exilic home in Armenia. There the family name was corrupted into the form Shambat. The family was also known as the Bagratuni. (The story of the Bagratuni is preserved in the great History of the Armenians of Moses of Khorene, based on an earlier history, now lost, of one Mar Apas Catina.) These exiles “over the River Sambathion” , i.e. north of Syria (the Syrian river name, like the exilic family name, derived from the Hebrew shabbat, see Jos. Wars VII. v. 1) are famed in Jewish legend. As the family prospered, their Judaism became mingled with the paganism of the Gentiles amongst whom they had settled. Some time after the conquest of Alexander the Great, certain apostate Jews adopted the cult of Zeus, titled him “Sabazios” (Greek) or “Sabazius” (Latin), and re-interpreted it to mean the Zeus “of the Shabbati (the Sabbath) clan”. The God of their ancestors, identified now with Zeus, was titled by them the “Highest God” (Greek Hupsistos) , in contrast, presumably, to the lesser gods of the Gentile pantheon.

§3. These same apostates also sought connections between their native Hebrew religious traditions and those of their adopted homeland. Now, Armenia featured in one of the most striking histories in the Hebrew scriptures, namely the history of Noah and the Flood, for it was on the “Mountains of Ararat” (commonly translated “Armenia”) that the Ark of Noah landed. This mountain was identified with Mount Masius, the highest peak in Armenia. (The Hebrew name spelt a-r-r-t in the consonantal Hebrew text, and read as Ararat in modern translations, is more likely, in reality, the name of the land and of the town Aratta, so called by the native Mesopotamians, the land being somewhere in the region of the biblical Ararat, and the town in southern Mesopotamia; the latter was otherwise known as Shuruppak, and Ziusudra-Noah is said to have reigned there.) Having identified this peak in their new homeland as the place of descent from the Ark, whence all the nations of the world dispersed, the apostate Jews promoted in their exilic home the cult of Noah and his family. Many pictures of Noah and the Ark have been found from this period in the neighboring regions, and these combine Biblical with pagan motifs. A Sibyl, or heathen prophetess, called Sambethe (i.e. “female of the Shambat [Sabbath] clan”), also written Sabbe, was declared to have been the bride of a son of Noah, and to have prophesied many things relating to the future history of the sons of Noah. Fragments of the oracular utterances ascribed to Sambethe are found embedded in the Jewish-Christian forgeries known as the Sibylline Oracles, especially III. 117-361 (Greek text, 97-294). Sambethe had a shrine in Thyatira in Asia Minor and the reference in Rev. 2. 20 to the “Jezebel” of Thyatira who calls herself a prophetess is evidently an allusion to the cult of Sambethe. In the Sibylline fragments (III. 132 etc.), Noah has a son called Cronus (Kronos), which is simply the Greek form of the name Sabbath, both the Greek and Hebrew names being designations of the planet Saturn, the tutelary deity in pagan astrology of the seventh day of the week. This son Cronus or Saturn is elsewhere (first in Theophilus of Antioch and then commonly in Byzantine chronicles) identified as Noah’s son Shem, the ancestor of the Hebrew race. Noah also being the first planter of a vineyard, and famous for having himself succumbed to wine, the emphasis in the cult of Zeus Sabazius on wine and intoxication made the connection between the cult and the Biblical history stronger. Its adherents indulged in drunken orgies and revelry. Sabazius was identified with the Greek vine-god Dionysus, who in turn was identified with the Egyptian Osiris and Serapis. Both in Greece and later in Italy, the cult of Sabazius, like that of Dionysus in the earlier period, was not infrequently suppressed by the authorities because of the excesses of its devotees, as well as for its barbarian (i.e. non-Graeco-Roman) origin and connections.

§4. The snake was the emblem of Sabazius. In Pergamum, the cult of Zeus Sabazius was merged with that of the Phrygian Mother Goddess, Cybele, and Sabazius was identified with her male consort, Atys or Attis. From this or a similar line of syncretistic Judaism came the identification of Jews — Latin Iudaei — with the Idaei, the Idaeans, the people of the Cretan or Asian Mount Ida and the adherents of the Idaean Mother, Cybele. This particular identification is attested in Rome (by Tacitus Hist. v. 2: Iudaeos Creta insula profugos novissima Libyae insedisse memorant, qua tempestate Saturnus vi Iovis pulsus cesserit regnis. Argumentum e nomine petitur: inclutum in Creta Idam montem, accolas Idaeos aucto in barbarum cognomento Iudaeos vocitari) and doubtless was a way of linking the Romans, who called themselves Idaeans, because they traced their genealogy back through Aeneas from the area of Mount Ida, with the Jewish Sabazius cultists. This identification explains the reference in Revelation 2. 9 to “the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews and are not, but are the Synagogue of Satan [the Serpent, cp. also Rev. 3. 9 and 12. 9, 20. 2].” The number seven (Hebrew sheva) and the motif of the sacred oath (shava, swear, lit. bind by a sevenfold confirmation) are prominent in the cult of Sabazius, presumably because of the significance of the deity’s name and its relation to the seventh day Sabbath. Hence the use of the “Sabazius hand”, which seems to be a symbol of the oath of the Sabazius mysteries. Later, the Iranian god of the oath, Mithras, became identified with Sabazius, Iranian paganism (or Magism) being prevalent in Armenia, as exemplified by the name Mithradates borne by several of the kings of Pontus. The worshipers of Mithras spread from Cappadocia via Cilicia into Rome in the time of Pompey. The mysteries of Sabazius and Cybele were performed commonly in caverns or in chambers built to resemble caverns. Later, caverns and chambers, sometimes the identical caverns and chambers, were adopted by the Mithraists.

§5. In view of the long history of Sabazius syncretism, specifically the mixture of Hebrew and pagan traditions, in Asia Minor and the West many centuries before the Christian era, it is evident why Simon Magus (i.e. a practitioner of Magism, Mithraism being a sect of the Magian religion) and the Gnostics who succeeded him were able to merge the teachings of Jesus so quickly and successfully with Graeco-Roman paganism. The groundwork had already been done for them by the paganized Jews of the Sabazius cult. It may be a group of Sabazius cultists, or a similar cult derived from them, who are denoted under the name “Sebuaeans” (derived, in all probability, from the Heb. shava, swear, or rather shevuah, oath), listed as one of four Samaritan cults, along with the Dositheans, in Epiphanius (Epiphanius, Panarion, Haer. XI). Simon, originally an adherent of Dositheus, could have borrowed major elements of his system directly from them. Some of the earliest Gnostics were Naassenes and Ophites, both of whom worshiped the divinity in the form of a snake — the emblem of Sabazius — and made much of the cult of Cybele and Attis. Even the name “Gnostic” may be derived from the Sabazius tradition, since Gnostos “raving mad and false” (!) appears as the name of the father of the Sibyl Sambethe and husband of Circe in the Sibylline Oracles (III. 1013). Likewise, details like the identification of Simon with the god Semo Sancus in Rome can be explained from the adoption by Simon of Sabazius traditions, as the god Semo was not only the Roman god of the oath (an important motif in the Sabazius cult) but was also the divine ancestor of the Sabines, a Latin tribe whose name was traditionally equated, rightly or wrongly, with that of the Saboi or adherents of Sabazius.

§6. An examination of Simon’s Megale Apophasis, the “Great Announcement”, preserved in Hippolytus, Ref. VI. 4-15 (see Appendix 3), indicates that the major elements in his system came from two sources: 1) the prophesying of John the Baptist, and 2) the Sabazius cult. Elements from the doctrine of John the Baptist: 1) The designation “Standing One” from “there standeth one among you”; 2) The fire which devours from the “unquenchable fire” of John; 3) The mystic or cosmic Tree derived from the tree at whose roots the “ax is laid” in John’s preaching; 4) the mystic fruit gathered to the garner from the same in John’s message; 5) The use of Isaiah 40 (the withered grass ), paralleling John’s use of the same passage (the “voice in the wilderness”); 6) The destruction of the fruitless Tree by the ax (as in John’s message); 7) The use of the idea that “He who comes after me was before me”, as in the preaching of John; 8) The transference of the spirit of Divine Intelligence (from Helen of Troy to Simon’s Helen), and of the Logos (from Moses to Jesus to Simon) from the transference of the spirit of Elijah. Elements from the Sabazius cult: 1) The identification of the Supreme Power with God’s Seventh Day of Rest, i.e. “Sabbath” (Sabazius); 2) Heaven and Earth (Uranus and Gaea) produce the Logos-Sabbath, as Noah (identified with Uranus) and his wife (Gaea) produce Cronus-Shem in Sambethe’s oracle, the Erythraean Sibyl; 3) The interpretation of the designation “Standing One” (the Messiah) in the sense of “Resting One” to identify him with the Sabbath Power (i.e. Sabazius); 4) The identification of the first day with Uranus (Heaven, creation of firmament on the first day) , the second day with Gaea (Earth, appearance of dry land on the second day) and the third day (in addition to the seventh) with the Sabbath Power (Cronus, god of the fruitful earth, paralleling the emergence of fruit from the earth on the third day); 5) Allegorization of the Red Sea (Erythraean Sea), this sea giving its name to the Erythraean Sibyl, Sambethe; 6) Allegorization of the story of Circe’s moly and its identification with the bitter waters of Marah in the Exodus; 7) The appearance in Simon’s system of Circe herself as a positive figure (Circe being the mother of Sambethe in Sabazius syncretism); 8) The use of philosophic theology, in respect to the interchangeability of the divine hypostaseis, as in the pagan philosophy of Heraclitus; 9) Pseudo-ascetic attitude to sexual generation, as in the Greek mysteries; 10) The divinization of the Divine Intelligence (Wisdom), as in Greek paganism; 11) The worship of Jupiter (Zeus Sabazius); 12) The use of pagan philosophers (Heraclitus and Empedocles) as in the Greek mysteries; 13) The use of idols, as in Greek paganism; 14) The use of magic, as in Greek paganism.


114. The sectarian Tertullian, with his background in the syncretism of the First Church, took it for granted that Christ (the “Sun of Righteousness”) was worshiped by Christians “assuredly” in his actual form, the form of a disk, on the first day of the week, or, as he refers to it “the day of the Sun.” It was believed by the Gnostic heretics of the First Church that the (disk-shaped) communion-bread was the actual body of Jesus. Tertullian, Apol. I. 16: “Others indeed, with more learning and truthfulness, believe that the Sun is our god. We shall be taken for Persians [viz. sun-worshipers] perhaps, although it is not permitted that we worship the Sun depicted on linen cloth, as we have him himself assuredly [reading the variant utique for the nonsensical ubique] in his actual disk. [My emphasis.] The reason for this, I suppose, is that it is known that we pray towards the east. But also most of you at times, in affectation of worshiping the heavenly bodies, move your lips toward the sunrising. Likewise, if we devote the day of the Sun [my emphasis] to festivity (from a far different reason from Sun worship), we are in a second place from those who devote the day of Saturn to rest and eating, themselves also deviating by way of a Jewish custom of which they are ignorant.” Latin: “Alii plane humanius et verisimilius, solem credunt deum nostrum. Ad Persas, si forte, deputabimur, licet solem non in linteo depictum adoremus, habentes ipsum utique [var. ubique] in suo clypeo. Denique inde suspicio quod innotuerit nos ad orientis regionem precari. Sed et plerique vestrum adfectatione aliquando et caelestia adorandi ad solis ortum labia vibratis. aeque si diem solis laetitiae indulgemus, alia longe ratione quam religione solis secundo loco ab eis sumus qui diem Saturni otio et victui decernunt exorbitantes et ipsi a Iudaico more, quem ignorant.” Here, as usual, Tertullian attempts to justify the (pagan) solar symbolism of the First Church’s ritual by playing it off against the despised Jewish ritual, in this case against Sabbatarianism, which, in his anti-Semitic fashion, he holds to be deviant.


115. See footnote 108.


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