Historia Ecclesiastica


Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiastica, Lake, Loeb, 1926

XXVII. But others the wiched demon, when he could not aliienate them from God's plan in Christ, made his own, when he found them by a different snare. The first Christians gave these the suitablename of Ebionites because they had poor and mean opinions concerning Christ. They held him to be a plain and ordinary man who had achieved righteousness merely by the progress of his characcter and had been born naturally from Mary and her busband. They insisted on the complete observation of the Law, and did not think that they would be saved by faith in Christ alone and by a life in accordance with it. But there were others besides these

who have the same name. These escaped the absurd folly of the first mentioned, and did not deny that the Lord was born of a Virgin and the Ηoly Spirit, but nevertheless agreed with them in not confessing his pre-existence as God, being the Logos and Wisdom. Thus they shared in the impiety of the former class, especially in that they were equally zealous to insist on the literal observance of the Law. They thought that the letters ofthe Apostle 1 ought to be wholly rejecgted and called him an apostate from the Law. They used only the Gospel called according to the Hebrews and made little account of the rest. Like the former they used to observe the sabbath and the rest of the Jewish ceremonial, but on Sundays celebrated rites like ours in commemoration of the Saviour's resurrection. wherefore from these practices they have obtained their name, for the name οf Ebionites indicates the poverty of their intelligence, for this name meanS “ poor ’’ in Hebrew.2

XXVIII. We have received the tradrtion that at the time under discussion Cerinthus founded another heresy. Gaius, whose words 1 have quoted before, in the inquiry attributed to him writes as follows about Cerinthus. “ Moreover, Cerinthus, who through revelations attributed to the writing of a great apostle, lyingly introduees portents to us as though shown him by angels, and says that after the resurrection the kingdom of Christ will be on earth and that [*](1 That is, Ρaul.) [*](2 The does does mean “ poor ’’ in Ηebrew ; but it is not known why it was applied to the Jewish Chrisrians. One guess is as good as another.)

humanity living in Jerusalem will again be the slave of lust and pleasure. Ηe is the enemy οf the scriptures of God and in his desire to deceive says that the marriage feast 1 will last a thousand. years. ” Dionysius, too, who held the bishopric of the diocese of Alexandria in οur time, in the second book of his Promises makes some remarks about the Apocalypse οf John as though from ancient οn and refers to the same Cerintus in these words, “ Cerintus too, who founded the Cerinthian heresy named after him, wished to attaeh a name worthy of credit to his οwn invention, for the doctrine of his teaching was this, that the kingdom οf Christ would be οn earth, and being fond of his body and very camal he dreamt of a future according to his own desires, given up the the indulgence of the flesh, that is, eating and drinking and marrying, and to those things which seem a euphemism for these things, feasts and sacrifices and the slaughter of victums.”

Dionysius said this and Irenaeus in his first book Agianst Heresies quoted some οf his more abominable errors, and in the third book has committed to writing a narrative, which deserves not to be forgotten, stating how aecorffing to the traffidltion of Polycarp, the apostle John once went into a bath-house to wash, but when he knew that Cerinthus was within leapt out of the place and Red from the door, for he did not endure to be even under the same roof with him, and enjoined οn those who were with him to do the same, saying, “ Let us flee, lest the bath-house [*](1 This is the obvious sense of the Greek which is, however, clearly corrupt. It would appear that Gaius thought that Cerinthus was the writer of the Apocalypse.)

fall in, for Cerinthus, the enemy of the truth, is within.”

XXIX. Αt this time, too, there existed for a short time the heresy of the Nicolaïtans of which the of John also makes mention. These elaimed Nicolas, one of the deacons in the company of Stephen who were appointed by the Apostles for the serviee of the poor. Clement or Αlexandria in the third book of the Stromata gives the following account of him. “ Ηe had, they say, a beautiful wife ; but after the ascension of the saviour he was accused of jealousy by the apostles, and brought her forward and commanded her to be mated to anyone who wished. They say that this aetion was in consequenee of the injunction ‘ it is necessary to abuse the ’ and that by following up what had been done and said with simplicity and without perversion those who follow his heresy lead a life of unrestrained license. But Ι have learned that Nicolas had nothing to do with any other woman beside her whom he married, and that of his children the daughters reaehed old age as virgins, and that the son remained uncorrupted. Since this is the case it is clear that the exposure of the wife of whom he was jealous in the midst of the disciples was the abandonment of passion, and that teaching the abuse of the flesh was continence from the pleasures which he had sought. For I think that according to the command οf the Saviour he did not whish to serve two masters — pleasure and the Lord. They also say that this was the teaching of Matthias, to slight the flesh and abuse it, yielding nothing to it for pleasure, but to make the soul grow through faith and knowledge.”

Let this suffice concerning the attempts made during this period to triumph against the truth which were, nevertheless, extinguished for ever more quickly than it takes to tell.

XXX. Clement, whose words we cited recently in the context οf the previous quotation, enumerates, on aeeount of those who reject marriage, those of the Apostles who were married, saying, “ Or will they disapprove even of the Apostles ? For Ρeter and Philip begat children, and Philip even gave his daughters to husbands, while Ρaul himself does not hesitate in one of his letters to address 1 his wife whom he did not take about with him in order to facilitate his ” Since we have made these quotations there is no harm in adducing another memorable narrative of Clement whleh he wrote down in the seventh book of the Stromata, and narrates as follows: “ They say that the blessed Ρeter when he saw his own wife led out to death rejoiced at her ealrmg and at her return home, and called out to her in true warning and comfort, addressing her by her name, ‘ Remember the ’ Such was the marriage of the blessed and the perfeet disposition of those dearest to ” Let this, cognate to the present subject, suffice for the moment.

XXXI. The time and manner of the death of Ρaul and οf Ρeter, and the plaee where their corpses were laid after their departure from this life, have been already described by us. The date of the death οf [*](1 Philipp. iv. 3 γνήσιε σύζυγε, ‘true yoke-fellow’ or ‘wife.’)

John has also been already 1 mentioned, and the place of his body is shown by a letter of Polycrates (he was bishop of the diocese of Ephesus) which he wrote to Vietor, bishop of Rome. In this he mentions both John, Philip the apostle, 2 and Philip's daughters as follows: “ For great luminaries sleep in Asia, and they will rise again at the last day of the advent of the Lord, when he shall come with glory from heaven and call back all the saints, such as was Philip, one of the twelve apostles, who sleeps at Hierapolis with his two daughters who grew old as virgins and his third daughter 3 who lived in the ΗοΙy Spirit and rests in Ephesus. Αnd there is also John, who leaned on the Lord's breast, who was a priest wearing the mitre,4 and martyr and and he sleeps at ” So far concerning their deaths. Αnd in the dialogue of Gaius, which we mentioned a little earlier, Proclus, with whom he was disputing, speaks thus about the death of Philip and his daughters and agrees with what has been stated. “ Αfter him the four daughters of Philip who were prophetesses were at Hierapolis in Αsia. Their grave is there and so is their ” so he says. Αnd Luke in the Acts of the Apostles mentions the daughters of Philip who were then living with their father at Caesarea in Judaea and were vouchsafed the gift of prophecy. Ηe says as [*](2 Possibly Polycrates has confused Philip the Apostle and Philip the Deacon and Eusebius did not notice it.) [*](3 This must be the meaning unless the text be corrupt. The Greek word tranriated “ third ’’ ought to mean “ the second of two.”) [*](4 The word πέταλον is used in the LXX. οf the “ plate ’’ οr “diadem ’’ of the Ηigh Priest (cf. Exod. xxviii.), but what it means here has never been discovered.)
follows: “ We came to Caesarea and entered into the house οf Philip the Evangelist, one of the seven, and remained with him. Αnd he had four daughters who were prophetesses.”

We have now described the facts which have come to our knowledge concerning the Apostles and their times, the sacred writings which they have left us, those books which are disputed yet nevertheless are used openly by many in most churches, and those which are altogether fictitious and foreign to our historic orthodoxy. Let us now continue the narrative.

XXXII. Αfter Νero and Domitian tradition says that under the Emperor whose times we are now describing persecution was raised against us sporadically, in some cities, from pupular risings. We have learnt that in it Symeon, the son οf Clopas, whom we showed to have been the second hishop of the church at Jerusalem, ended his life in martyrdom. The witness for this is that same Hegesippus, of whom we have already quoted several passages. Αfter speaking of certain hereties he goes on to explain how Symeon was at this time accused by them and for many days was tortured in various manners for being a Christain, to the great astonishment of the judge and those with him, until he suffered an end like that of the Lord. But there is nothing better than to listen to the historian who tells these facts as follows. “ some οf these (that

is to say the heretics) accused simon the son of Clopas of being deseended from David and a Christian and thus he suffered martyrdom, being a hundred and twenty years old, when Trajan was emperor and Atticus was ” The Same Writer says that his aecusers also soffered arrest for being of the royal house of the Jews when search was made at that time for those of that family. Αnd οne would reasonably say that Symeon was one of the eyewitnesses and actual hearers of the Lord on the evidence of the length of his life and the referenee in the Gospels to Μary the wife of Clopas whose son the narrative has already shown him to be.

The same writer says that other grandsons of one of the so-called brethren of the saviour named Judas survived to the same reign after they had given in the time of Domitian the testimony already recorded of them in behalf of the faith in Christ. Ηe writes thus: “ They came therefore and presided over every chureh as witnesses belonging to the Lord's family, and when there was complete peace in every cherch they survived until the reign of the Emperor Trajan, until the time when the son of the Lord's uncle, 2 the aforesaid Simon the son of Clopas, was similarly accused by the sects on the same charge before Atticus the Consular. Ηe was tortured for many days and gave hiS witness, so that all, even the consular, were extremely surprised how, at the age of one hundred and twenty, he endured, and he was eommanded to be ” Besides this the Same writer, explaining the events [*](2 Ηe was the brother of Joseph ; see iii. 11. 1.)

of these times, adds that until then the church remained a pure and uncorrupted virgin, for those who attempted to corrupt the healthful rule of the Saviour's preaching, if they existed at all, lurked in obscure darlness. But when the sacred band of the Apostles and the generation of those to whom it had been vouchsafed to hear with their own ears the divine wisdom had reached the several ends of their lives, then the federation of godless error took its beginning through the deceit of false teachers who, seeing that none of the Apostles still remained, barefacedly tried against the preaching of the truth the counter-proclamation οf “ knowledge falsely so-called.”

XXXIII. The persecution which at that time was extended against us in many places was so great that Plinius secundus, one of the most distinguished governors, was disturbed at the number of the martyrs, and reported to the Emperor the number of those being put to death for the faith, and in the same document mentioned that he understood them to do nothing wicked or illegal except that they rose at dawn to sing to Christ as though a God, and that they themselves forbade adultery, murder and similar terrible crimes, and that they did eVerything in obedienee to the law. In answer to this Trajan issued a decree to the effect that the tribe of Christians should not be sought for but punished when it was met with. By this means the imminent threat of persecution was extinguished to some extent, but none the less opportunities remained to those who wished to harm

us. sometimes the populace, sometimes even the loeal authorities contrived plots against us, so that with no pen persecution partial attacks broke out in various provinces and many of the faithful endured martyrdom in various ways. The narrative has been taken from the Latin apology of Tertullian mentioned above of which the translation is as follows: “ Υet we found that this attempt against us was also prevented, for the governor of the province, Pliny secundus, after eondemning certain Christians and depriving them of their rank, was troubled at their number and, not knowing what to do in the future, eommunieated with the Emperor Trajan. saying that beyond their unwillingness to offer sacrifice to idols, he had found nothing wicked in them. Ηe also mentioned this that the Christians arose at dawn and sang a hymn to Christ as a God, and in order to preserve their teaching 1 forbade murder, adultery, covetousness, robbery, and suchlike. To this Trajan sent a rescript that the tribe of Christians should not be sought out but punished if met ” such were the events at that time.

XXXIV. In the third year of the afore-mentioned emperor, Clement handed over the ministry of the bishops of Rome to Evarestos and departed this life, having been in charge of the teaching of the diving word for nine years.

XXXV. Μoreover, when Symeon suffered martyrdom in the manner already deseribed a certian Jew named Justus, who was one of the many thousands of the circumcision who by that time had belived on [*](1 The Greek word means knowledge which is meaningless and clearly a mistaken translation of the Latin. Tertullian wrote disciplinam.)

Christ, succeeded to the throne of the bishopric of Jerusalem.

XXXVI. Αt this time there flourished in Asia Polycarp, the companion of the Apostles, who had been appointed to the bishopric of the church in Smyrna by The eyewitnesses and ministers of the Lord. Distinguished men at the same time were Papias, who was himself bishop of the diocese of Hierapolis, and Ignatius, still a name of note to most men, the second after Ρeter to succeed to the bishopric of Antioch. The story goes that he was sent from Syria to Rome to be eaten by beasts in testimony to Christ. Ηe was taken through Asia under most careful guard, and strengthened by his speech and exhortation the diocese of eaeh city in which he stayed. Ηe particularly warned them to be on their guard against the heresies which then for the first time were beginning to obtain, and exhorted them to hold fast to the tradition of the Apostles, to which he thought necessary, for safety's sake, to give the form of written testimony. Thus while he was in Smyrna where Polycarp was, he wrote one letter to the church at Ephesus, mentioning their pastor Onesimus, and another to the church at Mangnessia on the Meander (and here, too, he mentioned the bishop Damas), and another to the church in Tralles, of which he relates that Polybius was then the ruler. In addition to these he also wrote to the churcb at Rome, and to it he extended the request that they should not deprive him of the hope for which he longed by begging him off from his martyrdom. It

is worth while appending a short extract from this in support οf what has been said. Ηe writes as follows: “ From Syria to Rome I am fighting with wild beasts, by land and sea, by night and day, bound to ten ‘ leopards ’ (that is, a company οf soldiers), and they become worse for kind treatment. Νow I become the more a disciple for their ill deeds, ‘ but not by this am I justified. ’ I long for the beasts that are prepared for me ; and I pray that they may be found prompt for me ; I will even entice them to devour me promptly ; not as has happened to some whom they have not touched from fear ; even if they be unwilling of themselves, I will force them to it. Grant me this favour. I know what is expcdient for me ; now I am beginning to be a disciple. May I envy nothing of things seen οr unseen that 1 may attain to Jesus christ. Let there come οn me fire, and cross, and struggles with wild beasts, cutting, and tearing asunder, rackings of bones, mangling of limbs, crushing οf my whole nody, cruel tortures οf the devil, may I but attain to Jesus Christ.”

This he put into words from the city mentioned to the churehes named. When he had already passed beyond Smyrna he also again conversed in writing from Troas with those in Philadelphia and with the church of the Smyrnaeans, and especially with Polycarp who was then the head of this church. Ηe knew well that Polycarp was an apostolic man and like a true and good shepherd commends the flock at Antioch to him, asking him to be zealous in his care for it. Ηe also wrote to the Smyranaeans quoting words from I know not what source and discoursing thus about Christ: “ For I know and believe that

he was in the flesh even after the Resurrection. Αnd when he came to those with Ρeter he said to them: ‘ Take, handle me and see that Ι am not a phantom without a body. ’ Αnd they immediately touched him and believed.”

Ιrenaeus also knew of his martyrdom and quotes his letters saying thus : “ Αs one of the Christians said when he was condemned to the beaSts as testimony for God, ‘ Ι am the wheat of God and Ι am ground by the teeth of beasts that I may be found pure bread.’”

Ρolycarp, too, mentions these same things in the letter to the Philippians bearing his name and says: “ Νow I beseech you all to obey the word of righteousness, and to practise all the endurance which you also saw before your eyes, not only in the blessed Ignatius, and Zosimus, and Rufus, but also in others among yourselves, and in Pual himself, and in the other Apostles; being persuaded that all of these ‘ ran not in vain, ’ but in faith and righteousness, and that they are with the Lord in the ‘ place whieh is their ’ with whom they also suffered. For they did not ‘ love this present world ’ but him who died on our behalf, and was raised by God for our ” Αnd he continues later, “ Both you and Ignatius wrote to me that if anyone was going to Syria he shovld also take your letters Ι will do this if Ι have a convenient opportunity, either myself or the man whom Ι am sending as a representative for you and me. We send you, as you asked, the letters of Ιgnatius, which were sent to us by him, and others which we had by us These are subjoined

to this letter, and you will be able to benefit greatly from them. For they contian faith, patience, and all the edification which pertains to our Lord.” such is the story concerning Ignatius, and Ηeros succeeded to the bishopric of Antioch after him.

XXXVII. Among those who were famous at this time was also Quadratus, of whom traffition says that he shared vith the daughters of Philip the ffistinc- tion of a prophetic gift. Αnd many others besides them were well known at this time and take the first rank in the Apostolic succession. These pious foundations οf the churches laid by the Apostles. They spread the preaching and scattered the saving seeds of the kingdom of Heaven, sowing them broad- cast through the whole world. Many of those then disciples, smitten in the soul by the divine Logos with an ardent passion for the love of wisdom,1 first fulfilled the Saviour's command and distributed their property to the needy, then, starting on their ourney, took up the work of evangelists and were zealous to preach to all who had not yet heard the word of the faith, and to transmit the writhing of the divine Gospels. Αs soon as they had no more than laid the foundations of the faith in some strange place, they appointed others as shepherds and had been just brought in, but they themselves passed on again to other lands and peoples, helped by the grace and co-operation of God, seeing that [*](1 The Greek wordd is “ philosophy ’’ ; but Eusebius does not mean metaphysics.)

many strange miracles οf the divine spirit were at that time still being wrought by them, So that whole crowds of men at the first hearing eagerly received in their souls the religion of the Creator οf the universe.

It is impossible for us to give the number and the names of all who first succeeded the Apostles, and were shepherds or evangelists in the churches throughout the world. It was, therefore, natural for us to recorded by name the memory only of those of whom the tradition still surviveS to our time by their treatises on the Apostolic teaching.