Period iii. The Critical Period: A. D. 140 to A. D. 200
The interval between the close of the post-apostolic age and the end of the second century, or from about 140 to 200, may be called the Critical Period of Ancient Christianity. In this period there grew up conceptions of Christianity which were felt by the Church, as a whole, to be fundamentally opposed to its essential spirit and to constitute a serious menace to the Christian faith as it had been commonly received. These conceptions, which grew up both alongside of, and within the Church, have been grouped under the term Gnosticism, a generic term including many widely divergent types of teaching and various interpretations of Christian doctrine in the light of Oriental speculation. There were also reactionary and reformatory movements which were generally felt to be out of harmony with the development upon which Christian thought and life had already entered; such were Montanism and Marcionism. To overcome these tendencies and movements the Christian churches in the various parts of the Roman Empire were forced, on the one hand, to develop more completely such ecclesiastical institutions as would defend what was commonly regarded as the received faith, and, on the other hand, to pass from a condition in which the various Christian communities existed in isolated autonomy to some form of organization whereby the spiritual unity of the Church might become visible and better able to strengthen the several members of that Church in dealing with theological and administrative problems. The Church, accordingly, acquired in the Critical Period the fundamental form of its creed, as an authoritative expression of belief; the episcopate, as a universally recognized essential of Church organization and a defence of tradition; and its canon of Holy Scripture, at least in fundamentals, as the authoritative primitive witness to the essential teachings of the Church. It also laid the foundations of the conciliar system, and the bonds of corporate unity between the scattered communities of the Church were defined and recognized. At the same time, the Church developed in its conflict with heathenism an apologetic literature, and in its conflict with heresy a polemical literature, in which are to be found the beginnings of its theology or scientific statement of Christian truth. Of this theology two lines of development are to be traced: one a utilization of Greek philosophy which arose from the Logos doctrine of the Apologists, and the other a realistic doctrine of redemption which grew out of the Asia Minor type of Christian teaching, traces of which are to be found in Ignatius of Antioch.

Chapter I. The Church In Relation To The Empire And Heathen Culture

In the course of the second century the Church spread rapidly into all parts of the Empire, and even beyond. It became so prominent that the relation of the Church to heathen thought and institutions underwent a marked change. Persecutions of Christians became more frequent, and thereby the popular conviction was deepened that Christians were malefactors. To some extent men of letters began to notice the new faith and attack it. In opposition to persecution and criticism, the Church developed an active apologetic or defence of Christianity and Christians against heathen aspersions.

§ 17. The Extension of Christianity

Under the head of Extension of Christianity are to be placed only such texts as may be regarded as evidence for the presence of the Church in a well-defined locality. It is apparent that the evidence must be incomplete, for many places must have received the Christian faith which were unknown to the writers whose works we have or which they had no occasion to mention. Rhetorical overstatement of the extension of the Church was a natural temptation in view of the rapid spread of Christianity. Each text needs to be scrutinized and its merits assessed. It should, however, be borne in mind that the existence of a well-established church in any locality is in most cases sufficient reason for believing that Christianity had already been there for some time. In this way valid historical reasoning carries the date of the extension of the Church to a locality somewhat further back than does the date of the appearance of a document which testifies to the existence of Christianity in a definite place at a definite time.

(a) Tertullian, Adv. Judaeos, 7. (MSL, 2:649.)

Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus (circa 160-circa 220 A. D.) is the most important ante-Nicene Latin ecclesiastical writer. He has been justly regarded as the founder of Latin theology and the Christian Latin style. His work is divided into two periods by his adherence (between 202 and 207 A. D.) to the Montanistic sect.

The treatise Adversus Judaeos probably belongs to Tertullian's pre-Montanist period, though formerly placed among his Montanist writings (see Krueger, § 85, 6). For Geographical references, see W. Smith, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography.

Upon whom else have all nations believed but upon the Christ who has already come? For whom have the other nations believed -- Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and they who inhabit Mesopotamia, Armenia, Phrygia, Cappadocia, and those dwelling in Pontus and Asia, and Pamphylia, sojourners in Egypt, and inhabitants of the region of Africa which is beyond Cyrene, Romans and sojourners, yes, and in Jerusalem, Jews and other nations;(25) as now the varied races of the Gaetulians, and manifold confines of the Moors, all the limits of Spain, and the diverse nations of the Gauls, and the places of the Britons inaccessible to the Romans, but subjugated to Christ, and of the Sarmatians and Dacians, and Germans and Scythians, and of many remote nations and provinces and many islands unknown to us and which we can hardly enumerate? In all of these places the name of Christ, who has already come, now reigns.

(b) Tertullian, Apologeticus adversus Gentes pro Christianis, 37. (MSL, 1:525.)

The date of this work is 197 A. D.

We are but of yesterday, and we have filled every place among you -- cities, islands, fortresses, towns, market-places, the very camps, tribes, companies, palace, Senate, and Forum. We have left you only the temples.

(c) Irenaeus, Adv. Haereses, I, 10, 3. (MSG, 7:551 f.) For text, see Kirch, § 91.

Since the Church has received this preaching and this faith, as we have said, the Church, although it is scattered throughout the whole world, diligently guards it as if it dwelt in one house; and likewise it believes these things as if it had one soul and one heart, and harmoniously it preaches, teaches, and believes these things as if possessing one mouth. For although the languages of the world are dissimilar, yet the import of the tradition is one and the same. For the churches which have been founded in Germany have not believed nor handed down anything different, nor have those among the Iberians, nor those among the Gauls, nor those in the East, nor those in Egypt, nor those in Libya, nor those which have been established in the central regions(26) of the world.

(d) Bardesanes, De Fato. F. Nau, Bardesane l'astrologue; le livre des lois des pays, Paris.1899.

Bardesanes (154-222 A. D.) was the great Christian teacher of Edessa. He lived at the court of Abgar IX (179-214), whom, according to a doubtful tradition, he is said to have converted. The entire book may be found well translated by B. P. Pratten, ANF, VIII.723-734.

In Syria and Edessa men used to part with their manhood in honor of Tharatha,(27) but when King Abgar became a believer he commanded that every one that did so should have his hand cut off, and from that day until now no one does so in the country of Edessa.

And what shall we say of the new race of us Christians, whom Christ at His advent planted in every country and in every region? For, lo, wherever we are, we are called after the one name of Christ -- namely, Christians. On one day, the first day of the week, we assemble ourselves together, and on the days of the readings(28) we abstain from sustenance. The brethren who are in Gaul do not take males for wives, nor those in Parthia two wives; nor do those in Judea circumcise themselves; nor do those of our sisters who are among the Geli consort with strangers; nor do those of our brethren who are in Persia take their daughters for wives; nor do those who are in Media abandon their dead or bury them alive or give them as food to the dogs; nor do those who are in Edessa kill their wives who commit adultery, nor their sisters, but they withdraw from them, and give them over to the judgment of God; nor do those who are in Hatra stone thieves to death; but wherever they are, and in whatever place they are found, the laws of the several countries do not hinder them from obeying the law of their Christ; nor does the Fate of the celestial governors(29) compel them to make use of the things which they regard as impure.

(e) Eusebius, Hist. Ec., V, 10. (MSG, 20:455.)

Missions in the extreme East.

They say that Pantaenus displayed such zeal for the divine word that he was appointed a herald of the Gospel of Christ to the nations of the East and was sent as far as India.(30) For indeed there were still many evangelists of the word who sought earnestly to use their inspired zeal, after the example of the Apostles, for the increase and building up of the divine word. Pantaenus was one of these, and he is said to have gone to India. The report is that among persons in that country who knew of Christ he found the Gospel according to Matthew, which had anticipated his own arrival. For Bartholomew, one of the Apostles, had preached to them and left them the writing of Matthew in the Hebrew language, and they had preserved it till that time.

§ 18. Heathen Religious Feeling and Culture in Relation to Christianity

The Christian religion in the course of the latter part of the second century began to attract the attention of heathen writers; it became an object of literary attack. The principal literary opponent of Christianity was Celsus, who subjected the Christian traditions and customs to a searching criticism to prove that they were absurd, unscientific, and false. Lucian of Samosata, does not seem to have attacked Christianity from any philosophical or religious interest, but treated it as an object of derision, making sport of it. There were also in circulation innumerable heathen calumnies, many of the most abominable character. These have been preserved only by Christian writers. It was chiefly in reference to these calumnies that the Christian apologists wrote. The answer to Celsus made by Origen belongs to a later period, though Celsus represents the best philosophical criticism of Christianity of the latter part of the second century.

(a) Celsus, The True Word, in Origen, Contra Celsum. (MSG, 11:651 ff.)

The work of Celsus against Christianity, or The True Word, written about 178, is lost, but it has been so incorporated in the elaborate reply of Origen that it can be reconstructed without much difficulty. This Theodor Keim has done. The following extracts from Origen's Contra Celsum are quotations from Celsus or references to his criticism of Christianity. For Origen, v. infra, § 43, b.

I, 1. (MSG, 11:651.) Wishing to throw discredit upon Christianity, the first point Celsus brings forward is that the Christians have entered secretly into associations with each other which are forbidden by the laws; saying that "of associations some are public, others again secret; and the former are permitted by the laws; the latter are prohibited by the laws."

I, 4. (MSG, 11:661.) Let us notice, also, how he thinks to cast discredit upon our system of morals as neither venerable nor a new branch of instruction, inasmuch as it is common to other philosophers.

I, 9. (MSG, 11:672.) He says that "Certain of them do not wish either to give or to receive reasons for those things to which they hold; saying, 'Do not examine, only believe and your faith will save you!' "; and he alleges that such also say: "The wisdom of this life is bad, but foolishness is a good thing."

I, 38. (MSG, 11:733.) He admits somehow the miracles which Jesus wrought and by means of which He induced the multitude to follow Him as the Christ. He wishes to throw discredit on them, as having been done not by divine power, but by help of magic, for he says: "That he [Jesus], having been brought up secretly and having served for hire in Egypt, and then coming to the knowledge of certain miraculous powers, returned from thence, and by means of those powers proclaimed himself a god."

II, 55. (MSG, 11:884.) "Come, now, let us grant to you that these things [the prediction made by Christ of His resurrection] were said. Yet how many others are there who have used such wonders to deceive their simple hearers, and who made gain of their deception? Such was the case, they say, with Zalmoxis in Scythia, the slave of Pythagoras; and with Pythagoras himself in Italy.{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} But the point to be considered is, whether any one who was really dead ever rose with a veritable body. Or do you imagine the statements of others not only are myths, but appear as such, but you have discovered a becoming and credible termination of your drama, the voice from the cross when he breathed his last, the earthquake and the darkness? that while living he was of no help to himself, but when dead he rose again, and showed the marks of his punishment and his hands as they had been. Who saw this? A frantic woman, as you state, and, if any other, perhaps one of those who were engaged in the same delusion, who, owing to a peculiar state of mind, had either dreamed so, or with a wandering fancy had imagined things in accordance with his own wishes, which has happened in the case of very many; or, which is most probable, there was some one who desired to impress the others with this portent, and by such a falsehood to furnish an occasion to other jugglers."

II, 63. (MSG, 11:896.) "If Jesus desired to show that his power was really divine, he ought to have appeared to those who had ill-treated him, and to him who had condemned him, and to all men universally."

III, 59. (MSG, 11:997.) "That I bring no heavier charge than what truth requires, let any one judge from the following. Those who invite to participation in other mysteries make proclamation as follows: 'Every one who has clean hands and a prudent tongue'; others again thus: 'He who is pure from every pollution, and whose soul is conscious of no evil, and who has lived well and justly.' Such is the proclamation made by those who promise purification from sins. But let us hear whom the Christians invite. 'Whoever,' they say, 'is a sinner, whoever is devoid of understanding, whoever is a child,' and, to speak generally, 'whoever is unfortunate, him will the kingdom of God receive.' Do you not call him a sinner, then, who is unjust and a thief and a house-breaker and a poisoner, a committer of sacrilege and a robber of the dead? Whom else would a man invite if he were issuing a proclamation for an assembly of robbers?"

VII, 18. (MSG, 11:1445.) "Will they not again make this reflection: If the prophets of the God of the Jews foretold that he who should come was the son of this same God, how could he command them through Moses to gather wealth, to rule, to fill the earth, to put to the sword their enemies from youth up, and to destroy them utterly, which, indeed, he himself did in the eyes of the Jews, as Moses says, threatening them, moreover, that if they did not obey his commands he would treat them as his open enemies; whilst, on the other hand, his son, the man of Nazareth, promulgating laws in opposition to these, declares that no one comes to the Father who is rich or who loves power or seeks after wisdom or glory; that men ought to be no more careful in providing food than the ravens: that they were to be in less concern about their raiment than the lilies; that to him who has smitten them once they should offer opportunity to smite again? Is it Moses or Jesus who lies? Did the Father when he sent Jesus forget the things he commanded Moses? Or did he change his mind and, condemning his own laws, send forth a messenger with the opposite instructions?"

V, 14. (MSG, 11:1201.) "It is folly for them to suppose that when God, as if he were a cook, introduces the fire, all the rest of the human race will be burnt up, while they alone will remain, not only those who are alive, but also those who have been dead long since, which latter will arise from the earth clothed with the self-same flesh as during life; the hope, to speak plainly, of worms. For what sort of human soul is it that would still long for a body gone to corruption? For this reason, also, this opinion of yours is not shared by some of the Christians,(31) and they pronounce it exceedingly vile and loathsome and impossible; for what kind of body is that which, after being completely corrupted, can return to its original nature, and to that self-same first condition which it left? Having nothing to reply, they betake themselves to a most absurd refuge -- that all things are possible to God. But God cannot do things which are disgraceful, nor does he wish things contrary to his nature; nor, if in accordance with your wickedness you desire something shameful, would God be able to do it; nor must you believe at once that it will be done. For God is the author, not of inordinate desires nor of a nature disordered and confused, but of what is upright and just. For the soul, indeed, he might be able to provide everlasting life; but dead bodies, on the other hand, are, as Heraclitus observes, more worthless than dung. So, then, God neither will nor can declare contrary to reason that the flesh is eternal, which is full of those things which it is not honorable to mention. For he is the reason of all things that exist, and therefore can do nothing either contrary to reason or contrary to himself."

(b) Lucian of Samosata, De morte Peregrini Protei, § 11 ff. Preuschen, Analecta, I, 20 ff.

Ch.11. About this time he made himself proficient in the marvellous wisdom of the Christians by associating around Palestine with their priests and scribes. And would you believe it? In a short time he convinced them that they were mere children and himself alone a prophet, master of ceremonies, head of the synagogue, and everything. He explained and interpreted some of their books, and he himself also wrote many, so they came to look upon him almost as a God, made him their law-giver and chose him as their patron.{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} At all events, they still worship that enchanter [mage] who was crucified in Palestine for introducing among men this new religious sect.

Ch.12. Then Proteus was, on this account, seized and thrown into prison, and this very circumstance procured for him during his subsequent career no small renown and the reputation for wonderful powers and the glory which he loved. When, then, he had been put in bonds, the Christians looked upon these things as a misfortune and in their efforts to secure his release did everything in their power. When this proved impracticable, other assistance of every sort was rendered him, not occasionally, but with zeal. From earliest dawn old women, widows, and orphan children were to be seen waiting beside the prison, and men of rank among them slept with him in the prison, having bribed the prison guards. Then they were accustomed to bring in all kinds of viands, and they read their sacred Scriptures together, and the most excellent Peregrinus (for such was still his name) was styled by them a New Socrates.

Ch.13. Certain came even from the cities of Asia, sent by the Christians at the common charge, to assist and plead for him and comfort him. They exhibit extraordinary activity whenever any such thing occurs affecting their common interest. In short, they are lavish of everything. And what is more, on the pretext of his imprisonment, many contributions of money came from them to Peregrinus at that time, and he made no little income out of it. These poor men have persuaded themselves that they are going to be immortal and live forever; they both despise death and voluntarily devote themselves to it; at least most of them do so. Moreover, their law-giver persuaded them that they were all brethren, and that when once they come out and reject the Greek gods, they should then worship that crucified sophist and live according to his laws. Therefore they despise all things and hold everything in common, having received such ideas from others, without any sufficient basis for their faith. If, then, any impostor or trickster who knows how to manage things came among them, he soon grew rich, imposing on these foolish folk.

Ch.14. Peregrinus was, however, set at liberty by the governor of Syria at that time, a lover of philosophy, who understood his folly and knew that he would willingly have suffered death that by it he might have acquired glory. Thinking him, however, not worthy of so honorable an end, he let him go.{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS}

Ch.16. A second time he left his country to wander about, having the Christians as a sufficient source of supplies, and he was cared for by them most ungrudgingly. Thus he was supported for some time; at length, having offended them in some way -- he was seen, I believe, eating food forbidden among them -- he was reduced to want, and he thought that he would have to demand his property back from the city;(32) and having obtained a process in the name of the Emperor, he expected to recover it. But the city sent messengers to him, and nothing was done; but he was to remain where he was, and to this he agreed for once.

(c) Minucius Felix, Octavius, VIII, 3-10. (MSL.3:267 ff.)

The following passage is taken from an apologetic dialogue entitled Octavius. Although it was composed by a Christian, it probably represents the current heathen conceptions of Christianity and its morals, especially its assemblies, where the worst excesses were supposed to take place. In the dialogue the passage is put into the mouth of the disputant who represents the heathen objection to the new faith. The date is difficult to determine probably it was the last third of the second century.

Ch.8. {HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} Is it not lamentable that men of a reprobate, unlawful, and dangerous faction should rage against the gods? From the lowest dregs, the more ignorant and women, credulous and yielding on account of the heedlessness of their sex, gathered and established a vast and wicked conspiracy, bound together by nightly meetings and solemn feasts and inhuman meats -- not by any sacred rites, but by such as require expiation. It is a people skulking and shunning the light; in public silent, but in corners loquacious. They despise the temples as charnel-houses; they reject the gods; they deride sacred things. While they are wretched themselves, if allowed they pity the priests; while they are half naked themselves, they despise honors and purple robes. O wonderful folly and incredible effrontery! They despise present torments, but fear those that are uncertain and in the future. While they fear to die after death, for the present life they do not fear to die. In such manner does a deceitful hope soothe their fear with the solace of resuscitation.

Ch.9. And now, as wickeder things are advancing more successfully and abandoned manners are creeping on day by day, those foul shrines of an impious assembly are increasing throughout the whole world. Assuredly this confederacy should be rooted out and execrated. They know one another by secret marks and signs. They love one another almost before they know one another. Everywhere, also, there is mingled among them a certain religion of lust; and promiscuously they call one another brother and sister, so that even a not unusual debauchery might, by the employment of those sacred names, become incestuous. It is thus that their vain and insane superstition glories in crimes. Nor, concerning these matters, would intelligent report speak of things unless there was the highest degree of truth, and varied crimes of the worst character called, from a sense of decency, for an apology. I hear that they adore the head of an ass, that basest of creatures, consecrated by I know not what silly persuasion -- a worthy and appropriate religion for such morals. Some say that they worship the genitalia of their pontiff and priest, and adore the nature, as it were, of their parent. I know not whether these things be false; certainly suspicion has place in the case of secret and nocturnal rites; and he who explains their ceremonies by reference to a man punished by extreme suffering for wickedness, and to the deadly wood of the cross, bestows fitting altars upon reprobate and wicked men, that they may worship what they deserve. Now the story of their initiation of young novices is as detestable as it is well known. An infant covered with meal, so as to deceive the unwary, is placed before him who is to be defiled with their rites; this infant is slain with dark and secret wounds by the young novice, who has been induced to strike harmless blows, as it were, on the surface of the meal. Thirstily -- O horror! -- they lick up its blood; eagerly they divide its limbs. By this victim they are confederated, with the consciousness of this wickedness they are pledged to a mutual silence. These sacred rites are more foul than any sort of sacrilege. And of their banqueting it is well known what is said everywhere; even the speech of our Cirtensian(33) testifies to it. On a solemn day they assemble at a banquet with all their children, their sisters and mothers, people of every sex and age. There, after much feasting, when the sense of fellowship has waxed warm and the fervor of incestuous lust has grown hot with drunkenness, a dog that has been tied to a chandelier is provoked to rush and spring about by throwing a piece of offal beyond the length of the line by which he is bound; and thus the light, as if conscious, is overturned and extinguished in shameless darkness, while unions of abominable lust involve them by the uncertainty of chance. Although if all are not in fact, yet all are in their conscience, equally incestuous; since whatever might happen by the act of the individuals is sought for by the will of all.

Ch.10. I purposely pass over many things, for there are too many, all of which, or the greater part of them, the obscurity of their vile religion declares to be true. For why do they endeavor with such pains to conceal and cloak whatever they worship, since honorable things always rejoice in publicity, but crimes are kept secret? Why have they no altars, no temples, no acknowledged images? Why do they never speak openly, never congregate freely, unless it be for the reason that what they adore and conceal is either worthy of punishment or is something to be ashamed of? Moreover, whence or who is he, or where is the one God, solitary and desolate, whom no free people, no kingdoms, and not even Roman superstition have known? The sole, miserable nationality of the Jews worshipped one God, and one peculiar to itself; but they worshipped him openly, with temples, with altars, with victims, and with ceremonies; and he has so little force or power that he is enslaved together with his own special nation to the Roman deities. But the Christians, moreover, what wonders, what monstrosities, do they feign, that he who is their God, whom they can neither show nor see, inquires diligently into the conduct of all, the acts of all, and even into their words and secret thoughts. They would have him running about everywhere, and everywhere present, troublesome, even shamelessly inquisitive, since he is present at everything that is done, and wanders about in all places. When he is occupied with the whole, he cannot give attention to particulars; or when occupied with particulars, he is not enough for the whole. Is it because they threaten the whole earth, the world itself and all its stars, with a conflagration, that they are meditating its destruction? As if either the natural and eternal order constituted by the divine laws would be disturbed, or, when the league of the elements has been broken up and the heavenly structure dissolved, that fabric in which it is contained and bound together would be overthrown!

§ 19. The Attitude of the Roman Government toward Christians, A. D.138 to A. D.192

No general persecution of the Christians was undertaken by the Roman Government during the second century, though Christians were not infrequently put to death under the existing laws. These laws, however, were by no means uniformly carried out. The most sanguinary persecutions were generally occasioned by mob violence and may be compared to modern lynchings. At Lyons and Vienne, in Gaul, there was much suffering in 177. The letter from the churches of these cities to the Christians in Asia and Phrygia, Eusebius, Hist. Ec., V, 1 (PNF, ser. I, vol. I, 211), and the Martyrdom of Polycarp (ANF, I, 37) are among the finest pieces of literature in this period and should be read by every student. Under Commodus (180-193), Marcia seems to have aided the Christians suffering persecution. The Martyrdom of Justin may be found ANF, I, 303, appended to his works. The doubtful rescript of Hadrian and the certainly spurious rescript of Antoninus Pius may be found in the Appendix to Justin Martyr's works (ANF, I, 186), and in Eusebius, Hist. Ec., IV, 9 and 13. For a discussion of their genuineness, see McGiffert's notes to Eusebius, Hist. Ec. The original texts may be found in Preuschen's Analecta, I, § 6 f.

(a) Justin Martyr, Apologia. II.2. (MSG, 6:445.)

The martyrdom of Ptolemaeus.

A certain woman had been converted to Christianity by Ptolemaeus. Her dissolute husband, who had deserted her some time before, was divorced by her on account of his profligacy. In revenge he attempted to injure her, but she sought and obtained the protection of the imperial courts. The husband thereupon turned his attack upon Ptolemaeus. According to Ruinart, the martyrdom took place in 166. See DCB, arts. "Ptolemaeus" and "Justin Martyr." This and the following martyrdoms illustrate the procedure of the courts in dealing with Christians.

Since he was no longer able to prosecute her, he directed his assaults against a certain Ptolemaeus whom Urbicus punished, and who had been the teacher of the woman in the Christian doctrines. And he did this in the following way: He persuaded a centurion, his friend, who had cast Ptolemaeus into prison, to take Ptolemaeus and interrogate him only as to whether he were a Christian. And Ptolemaeus, being a lover of the truth, and not of deceitful or false disposition, when he confessed himself to be a Christian, was thrown in chains by the centurion and for a long time was punished in prison. At last, when he was brought to Urbicus, he was asked this one question only: whether he was a Christian. And again, conscious of the noble things that were his through the teaching of Christ, he confessed his discipleship in the divine virtue. For he who denies anything either denies it because he condemns the thing itself or he avoids confession because he knows his own unworthiness or alienation from it; neither of which cases is that of a true Christian. And when Urbicus ordered him to be led away to punishment, a certain Lucius, who was also himself a Christian, seeing the unreasonable judgment, said to Urbicus: "What is the ground of this judgment? Why have you punished this man: not as an adulterer, nor fornicator, nor as one guilty of murder, theft, or robbery, nor convicted of any crime at all, but who has only confessed that he is called by the name of Christian? You do not judge, O Urbicus, as becomes the Emperor Pius, nor the philosopher, the son of Caesar, nor the sacred Senate." And he, replying nothing else to Lucius, said: "You also seem to me to be such an one." And when Lucius answered, "Most certainly I am," he then ordered him also to be led away. And he professed his thanks, since he knew that he was going to be delivered from such wicked rulers and was going to the Father and King of the heavens. And still a third came forward and was condemned to be punished.

(b) Passion of the Scilitan Martyrs.

Text: J. A. Robinson, Text and Studies, I, 2, 112-116, Cambridge, 1891; reprinted in R. Knopf, Ausgewaehlte Maertyreracten, 34 ff., Tuebingen, 1901.

The date of this martyrdom is July 17, 180 A.D. Scili, the place of residence of these martyrs, was a small city in northwestern Proconsular Africa. For an account of ancient martyrologies, see Krueger, §§ 104 ff.

When Praesens, for the second time, and Claudianus were consuls, on the seventeenth day of July, and when Speratus, Nartzalus, Cittinus, Donata, Secunda, and Vestia were brought into the judgment-hall at Carthage, the proconsul Saturninus said: Ye can win the indulgence of our lord the Emperor if ye return to a sound mind.

Speratus said: We have never done ill; we have not lent ourselves to wrong; we have never spoken ill; but when we have received ill we have given thanks, because we pay heed to our Emperor.

Saturninus, the proconsul, said: We, too, are religious, and our religion is simple; and we swear by the genius of our lord the Emperor, and pray for his welfare, which also ye, too, ought to do.

Speratus said: If thou wilt peaceably lend me thine ears, I will tell thee the mystery of simplicity.

Saturninus said: I will not lend my ears to thee, when thou beginnest to speak evil things of our sacred rites; but rather do thou swear by the genius of our lord the Emperor.

Speratus said: The empire of this world I know not; but rather I serve that God whom no man hath seen nor with these eyes can see. [I Tim.6:16.] I have committed no theft; but if I have bought anything I pay the tax; because I know my Lord, the King of kings and Emperor of all nations.

Saturninus, the proconsul, said to the rest: Cease to be of this persuasion.

Speratus said: It is an ill persuasion to do murder, to bear false witness.

Saturninus, the proconsul, said: Be not partakers of this folly.

Cittinus said: We have none other to fear except only our Lord God, who is in heaven.

Donata said: Honor to Caesar as Caesar, but fear to God. [Cf. Rom.13:7.]

Vestia said: I am a Christian.

Secunda said: What I am that I wish to be.

Saturninus, the proconsul, said to Speratus: Dost thou persist in being a Christian?

Speratus said: I am a Christian. And with him they all agreed.

Saturninus, the proconsul, said: Will ye have a space to consider?

Speratus said: In a matter so just there is no considering.

Saturninus, the proconsul, said: What are the things in your chest?

Speratus said: Books and epistles of Paul, a just man.

Saturninus, the proconsul, said: Have a delay of thirty days and bethink yourselves.

Speratus said a second time: I am a Christian. And with him all agreed.

Saturninus, the proconsul, read out the decree from the tablet: Speratus, Nartzalus, Cittinus, Donata, Vestia, Secunda, and the rest who have confessed that they live according to the Christian rite because an opportunity has been offered them of returning to the custom of the Romans and they have obstinately persisted, it is determined shall be put to the sword.

Speratus said: We give thanks to God.

Nartzalus said: To-day we are martyrs in heaven; thanks be to God.

Saturninus, the proconsul, ordered it to be proclaimed by the herald: Speratus, Nartzalus, Cittinus, Veturius, Felix, Aquilinus, Laetatius, Januaria, Generosa, Vestia, Donata, and Secunda I have ordered to be executed.

They all said: Thanks be to God.

And so they all at one time were crowned with martyrdom; and they reign with the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, forever and ever. Amen.

(c) Hippolytus, Refutatio omnium Haeresium, X, 7. (MSG, 16:3382.)

Hippolytus, a Greek writer of the West, lived at Rome in the time of Zephyrinus (198-217) and until shortly after A. D.235. He appears to have been consecrated bishop of a schismatical party in Rome. Of his numerous works many have been lost in whole or in part. The Philosophumena, or the Refutation of All Heresies, was lost, with the exception of the first book, until 1842, and was then published among the works of Origen. It is of importance as giving much material for the study of Gnosticism. It may be found as a whole translated in ANF, V.

But after a time, when other martyrs were there [i.e., in the mines in Sardinia], Marcia, the pious concubine of Commodus, wishing to perform some good deed, called before her the blessed Victor [193?-202], at that time bishop of the Church, and inquired of him what martyrs were in Sardinia. And he delivered to her the names of all, but did not give the name of Callistus, knowing what things had been attempted by him. Marcia, having obtained her request from Commodus, hands the letter of emancipation to Hyacinthus, a certain eunuch rather advanced in life [or a presbyter], who, receiving it, sailed away to Sardinia. He delivered the letter to the person who at that time was governor of the territory, and he released the martyrs, with the exception of Callistus.

§ 20. The Literary Defence of Christianity

In reply to the attacks made upon Christianity, the apologists defended their religion along three lines: It was philosophically justified; it was true; it did not favor immorality, but, on the contrary, inculcated virtue. The philosophical defence, or justification, of Christianity was most brilliantly undertaken by Justin Martyr, who employed the current philosophical conception of the Logos. The general proof of Christianity was chiefly based upon the argument from the fulfilment of prophecy. All apologists undertook to show that the heathen calumnies against the Christians were false, that the heathen religions were replete with obscene tales of the gods, and that the worship of idols was absurd.

(a) Aristides, Apology, 2, 13, 15, 16. Ed. J. R. Harris and J. A. Robinson, Texts and Studies, I, 1, Cambridge, 1891.

The Apology of Aristides was long lost, but was found in a Syriac version in 1889. It was then found that much of the Greek original had been incorporated in the Life of Barlaam and Josaphat, a popular religious romance of the Middle Ages; see the introduction to the parallel translations by D. H. McKay in ANF, vol. IX, 259-279. This work of Aristides may be as early as 125; if so, it disputes with the similar work of Quadratus the honor of being the first Christian apology. A large part of it is taken up with a statement of the contradictions and absurdities of the mythology of the Greeks and Barbarians. Of this statement, ch.13, quoted below, is the conclusion. Then, after a short passage regarding the Jews, the author passes to an exposition of the faith of Christians and a statement regarding their high morality.

Ch.2. [Found only in Syriac.] The Christians trace the beginning of their religion to Jesus the Messiah; and He is named the Son of the most high God. And it is said that God came down from heaven and from a Hebrew virgin assumed and clothed Himself with flesh, and that the Son of God lived in a daughter of man. This is taught in that Gospel which, as is related among them, was preached among them a short time ago. And you, also, if you will read therein, may perceive the power that belongs to it. This Jesus, therefore, was born of the race of the Hebrews. He had twelve disciples, that His wonderful plan of salvation might be carried out. But He himself was pierced by the Jews, and He died and He was buried. And they say that after three days He rose and was raised to heaven. Thereupon those twelve disciples went forth into the known parts of the world, and with all modesty and uprightness taught concerning His greatness. And therefore also those at the present time who now believe that preaching are called Christians and they are known.

Ch.13. When the Greeks made laws they did not perceive that by their laws they condemned their gods. For if their laws are righteous, their gods are unrighteous, because they committed transgressions of the law in that they killed one another, practised sorcery, and committed adultery, robbed, stole, and lay with males, not to mention their other practices. For if their gods have done right in doing all this, as they write, then the laws of the Greeks are unrighteous in not being made according to the will of their gods. And consequently the whole world has gone astray.

Ch.15. The Christians, O King, in that they go about and seek the truth, have found it and, as we have understood from their writings, they have come much nearer to the truth and correct knowledge than have the other peoples. They know and trust God, the creator of heaven and earth, in whom are all things and from whom are all things, in Him who has no other God beside Him, in Him from whom they have received commandments which they have engraved upon their minds, commandments which they observe in the faith and expectation of the world to come. Wherefore they do not commit adultery or fornication, nor bear false witness, nor covet what is held in pledge, nor covet what is not theirs. They honor father and mother and show kindness to their neighbors. If they are judges, they judge uprightly. They do not worship idols made in human form. And whatsoever they would not that others should do unto them, they do not to others. They do not eat of food offered to idols, because they are pure. And their oppressors they appease and they make friends of them; they do good to their enemies.{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} If they see a stranger, they take him to their dwellings and rejoice over him as over a real brother. For they do not call themselves brethren after the flesh, but after the Spirit and in God. But if one of their poor passes from the world, each one of them who sees him cares for his burial according to his ability. And if they hear that one of them is imprisoned or oppressed on account of the name of their Messiah, all of them care for his necessity, and if it is possible to redeem him, they set him free. And if any one among them is poor and needy, and they have no spare food, they fast two or three days in order to supply him with the needed food.(34) The precepts of their Messiah they observe with great care. They live justly and soberly, as the Lord their God commanded them. Every morning and every hour they acknowledge and praise God for His lovingkindnesses toward them, and for their food and drink they give thanks to Him. And if any righteous man among them passes from this world, they rejoice and thank God and they escort his body as if he were setting out on a journey from one place to another.{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS}

Ch.16. {HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} Their words and precepts, O King, and the glory of their worship and their hope of receiving reward, which they look for in another world, according to the work of each one, you can learn about from their writings. It is enough for us to have informed your Majesty in a few words concerning the conduct and truth of the Christians. For great, indeed, and wonderful is their doctrine for him who will study it and reflect upon it. And verily this is a new people, and there is something divine in it.

(b) Justin Martyr, Apologia, I, 46. (MSG, 6:398.)

In the following, Justin Martyr states his argument from the doctrine of the Logos, which was widely accepted in Greek philosophy and found its counterpart in Christianity in the Johannine theology (see below, § 32 A). With Justin should be compared Clement of Alexandria (see below, § 43 a), who develops the same idea in showing the relation of Greek philosophy to the Mosaic dispensation and to the Christian revelation.

We have been taught that Christ is the first-born of God, and we have declared above that He is the Word of whom every race of men partake; and those who lived reasonably were Christians, even though they have been thought atheists; as among the Greeks, Socrates and Heraclitus and those like them; and among the Barbarians, Abraham and Ananias, and Azarias, and Misael, and Elias, and many others whose actions and names we now decline to recount, because we know it would be tedious.

(c) Justin Martyr, Apologia, II, 10, 13. (MSG, 6:459, 466.)

Ch.10. Our doctrines, then, appear to be greater than all human teaching; because Christ who appeared for our sakes, became the whole rational being,(35) body and reason and soul. For whatever either law-givers or philosophers uttered well they elaborated by finding and contemplating some part of the Logos. But since they did not know the whole of the Logos, which is Christ, they often contradicted themselves. And those who by human birth were more ancient than Christ, when they attempted to consider and prove things by reason, were brought before the tribunals as impious persons and busybodies. And Socrates, who was more zealous in this direction than all of them, was accused of the very same crimes as ourselves. For they said that he was introducing new divinities, and did not consider those to be gods whom the State recognized. But he cast out from the State both Homer and the rest of the poets, and taught men to reject the wicked demons and those who did the things which the poets related; and he exhorted them to become acquainted with the God who was unknown to them, by means of the investigation of reason, saying, "That it is not easy to find the Father and Maker of all, nor, having found Him, is it safe to declare Him to all."(36) But these things our Christ did through His own power. For no one trusted in Socrates so as to die for this doctrine, but in Christ, who was partially known even by Socrates (for He was and is the Logos who is in every man, and who foretold the things that were to come to pass both through the prophets and in His own person when He was made of like passions and taught these things), not only philosophers and scholars believed, but also artisans and people entirely uneducated, despising both glory and fear and death; since He is the power of the ineffable Father, and not the mere instrument of human reason.(37)

Ch.13. {HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} I confess that I both boast and with all my strength strive to be found a Christian; not because the teachings of Plato are different from those of Christ, but because they are not in all respects similar, as neither are those of others, Stoics, poets, and historians. For each man spoke well in proportion to the share he had of the spermatic divine Logos, seeing what was related to it. But they who contradict themselves on the more important points appear not to have possessed the heavenly wisdom and the knowledge which cannot be spoken against. Whatever things were rightly said among all men are the property of us Christians. For next to God we worship and love the Logos, who is from the unbegotten and ineffable God, since also He became man for our sakes, that, becoming a partaker of our sufferings, He might also bring us healing. For all the writers were able to see realities darkly through the sowing of the implanted Logos that was in them. For the seed of anything and a copy imparted according to capacity [i.e., to receive] is one thing, and quite another is the thing itself, of which there is the participation and imitation according to the grace which is from Him.

(d) Justin Martyr, Apologia, I, 31, 53. (MSG, 6:375, 406.)

The argument from prophecy.

Ch.31. There were then among the Jews certain men who were prophets of God, through whom the prophetic Spirit [context shows that the Logos is here meant] published beforehand things that were to come to pass before they happened. And their prophecies, as they were spoken and when they were uttered, the kings who were among the Jews at the several times carefully preserved in their possession, when they had been arranged by the prophets themselves in their own Hebrew language.{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} They are also in possession of all Jews throughout the world.{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} In these books of the prophets we found Jesus our Christ foretold as coming, born of a virgin, growing up to manhood, and healing every disease and every sickness, and raising the dead, and being hated and unrecognized, and crucified, and dying, and rising again, and ascending into heaven, and both being and also called the Son of God, and that certain persons should be sent by Him into every race of men to publish these things, and that rather among the Gentiles [than among the Jews] men should believe on Him. And He was predicted before He appeared first 5,000 years before, and again 3,000, then 2,000 then 1,000, and yet again 800; for according to the succession of generations prophets after prophets arose.

Ch.53. Though we have many other prophecies, we forbear to speak, judging these sufficient for the persuasion of those who have ears capable of hearing and understanding; and considering also that these persons are able to see that we do not make assertions, and are unable to produce proof, like those fables that are told of the reputed sons of Jupiter. For with what reason should we believe of a crucified man that He is the first-born of the unbegotten God, and Himself will pass judgment on the whole human race, unless we found testimonies concerning Him published before He came and was born as a man, and unless we saw that things had happened accordingly?

Chapter II. The Internal Crisis: The Gnostic And Other Heretical Sects

In the second century the Church passed through an internal crisis even more trying than the great persecutions of the following centuries and with results far more momentous. Of the conditions making possible such a crisis the most important was absence in the Church of norms of faith universally acknowledged as binding. Then, again, many had embraced Christianity without grasping the spirit of the new religion. Nearly all interpreted the Christian faith more or less according to their earlier philosophical or religious conceptions; e.g., the apologists within the Church used the philosophical Logos doctrine. In this way arose numerous interpretations of Christian teaching and perversions of that teaching, some not at all in harmony with the generally received tradition. These discordant interpretations or perversions are the heretical movements of the second century. They varied in every degree of departure from the generally accepted Christian tradition. Some, like the earlier Gnostics (§ 21), and even the greater Gnostic systems (§ 22), at least in their esoteric teaching, show that their principal inspiration was other than Christian; others, as the Gnosticism of Marcion (§ 23) and the enthusiastic sect of the Montanists (§ 25), seem to have built largely upon exaggerated Christian tenets, contained, indeed, in the New Testament, but not fully appreciated by the majority of Christians; or still others, as the Encratites (§ 24), laid undue stress upon what was generally recognized as an element of Christian morality.

The principal source materials for the history of Gnosticism and other heresies of this chapter may be found collected and provided with commentary in Hilgenfeld, Ketzergeschichte des Urchristenthums, Leipsic, 1884.

§ 21. The Earlier Gnostics: Gnosticism in General

Gnosticism is a generic name for a vast number of syncretistic religious systems prevalent, especially in the East, both before and after the Christian era. For the most part the movement was outside of Christianity, and was already dying out when Christianity appeared. It derived its essential features from Persian and Babylonian sources and was markedly dualistic. As it spread toward the West, it adopted many Western elements, making use of Christian ideas and terms and Greek philosophical concepts. Modified by such new matter, it obtained a renewed lease of life. In proportion as the various schools of Gnosticism became more influenced by Christian elements, they were more easily confused with Christianity, and accordingly more dangerous to it. Among such were the greater schools of Basilides and Valentinus (see next section). The doctrines of Gnosticism were held by many who were nominally within the Church. The tendency of the Gnostics and their adherents was to form little coteries and to keep much of their teaching secret from those who were attracted by their more popular tenets. The esoteric element seems to have been the so-called "systems" in which the fanciful and mythological element in Gnosticism appears. This, as being the most vulnerable part of the Gnostic teaching, was attacked most bitterly by the opponents of heresy. There are no extant writings of the earlier Gnostics, Simon, Menander, or Cerinthus. They are known only from Christian opponents.

Sources for the history of Gnosticism: The leading sources are the Church Fathers Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria (all translated in ANF), Origen (in part only translated in ANF), and Epiphanius. The accounts of these bitter enemies must necessarily be used with caution. They contain, however, numerous fragments from Gnostic writings. The fragments in the ante-Nicene Fathers may be found in A. Hilgenfeld, op. cit., in Greek, with commentary. For the literary remains of Gnosticism, see Krueger, §§ 22-31. The more accessible are: Acts of Thomas (best Greek text by Bonnet, Leipsic, 1903, German translation with excellent commentary in E. Hennecke, Neutestamentliche Apokryphen, Tuebingen and Leipsic, 1904); Ptolemaeus, Epistle to Flora (in Epiphanius, Panarion, Haer. XXXIII); Hymn of the Soul, from the Acts of Thomas (text and English translation by Bevan in Text and Studies, V, 3, Cambridge, 1897, also translated in F. C. Burkitt, Early Eastern Christianity, N. Y., 1904).

(a) Tertullian, De Praescriptione Haereticorum, 7. (MSL, 2:21.)

A wide-spread opinion that Gnosticism was fundamentally a perversion of Christianity finds its most striking expression in the phrase of Harnack that it was "the acute secularizing or Hellenizing of Christianity" (History of Dogma, English translation, I, 226). The foundation for this representation is the later Gnosticism, which took over many Christian and Greek elements, and the opinion of Tertullian that Gnosticism and Greek philosophy discussed the same questions and held the same opinions. (Cf. the thesis of Hippolytus in his Philosophumena, or the Refutation of All Heresies; see the Proemium, ANF, V, 9 f., and especially bk. VII.) Tertullian, although retaining unconsciously the impress of his former Stoicism, was violently opposed to philosophy, and in his denunciation of heresy felt that it was a powerful argument against the Gnostics to show similarities between their teaching and the Greek philosophy he so heartily detested. It is a brilliant work and may be taken as a fair specimen of Tertullian's style.

These are the doctrines of men and of demons born of the spirit of this world's wisdom, for itching ears; and the Lord, calling this foolishness, chose the foolish things of this world to the confusion of philosophy itself. For philosophy is the material of the world's wisdom, the rash interpreter of the nature and dispensation of God. Indeed, heresies themselves are instigated by philosophy. From this source came the eons, and I know not what infinite forms, and the trinity of man in the system of Valentinus; he was of Plato's school. From this source came Marcion's better god with all his tranquillity; he came of the Stoics. Then again the opinion that the soul dies is held by the Epicureans. The denial of the resurrection of the body is taken from the united schools of all philosophers. When matter is made equal to God, you have the teaching of Zeno; and when anything is alleged touching a fiery god, then Heraclitus comes in. The same subject-matter is discussed over and over again by the heretics and the philosophers; the same arguments are involved. Whence and wherefore is evil? Whence and how has come man? Besides these there is the question which Valentinus has very recently proposed, Whence comes God?

(b) Irenaeus, Adv. Haer., I, 23. (MSG, 7:670.)

Simon Magus. For additional source material, see Justin Martyr, Apol. I, 26, 56, Dial. c. Tryph., 120; Hippolytus, Ref. VI, 72 f. The appearance of Simon in the pseudo-Clementine literature (translated in ANF, VIII), presents an interesting historical problem. The present condition of investigation is given in the article "Clementine Literature" by J. V. Bartlett, in Encyc. Brit., eleventh ed.

Simon the Samaritan, that magician of whom Luke, the disciple and follower of the Apostles, says: "But there was a certain man, Simon by name," etc. [Acts 8:9-11, 20, 21, 23.] Since he did not put his faith in God a whit more, he set himself eagerly to contend against the Apostles, in order that he himself might seem to be a wonderful being, and studied with still greater zeal the whole range of magic art, that he might the better bewilder the multitude of men. Such was his procedure in the reign of Claudius Caesar, by whom also he is said to have been honored with a statue on account of his magic. This man, then, was glorified by many as a god, and he taught that it was he himself who appeared among the Jews as the Son, but descended in Samaria as the Father, while he came to other nations in the character of the Holy Spirit. He represented himself as the loftiest of all powers, that it is he who is over all as the Father, and he allowed himself to be called whatsoever men might name him.

Now this Simon of Samaria, from whom all heresies derive their origin, has as the material for his sect the following: Having redeemed from slavery at Tyre, a city of Phoenicia, a certain woman named Helena,(38) a prostitute, he was in the habit of carrying her about with him, declaring that she was the first conception [Ennoea] of his mind, the mother of all, by whom he conceived in his mind to make the angels and archangels. For this Ennoea, leaping forth from him and comprehending the will of her father, descended to the lower regions and generated angels and powers, by whom, also, he declared this world was made. But after she had generated them she was detained by them through jealousy, because they were unwilling that they should be regarded as the progeny of any other being. As to himself, he was wholly unknown to them, but his Ennoea was detained by those powers and angels who had been produced by her. She suffered all kinds of contumely from them, so that she could not return upward to her father, but was even shut up in a human body and for ages passed in succession from one female body to another, as from one vessel to another vessel. She was in that Helen on whose account the Trojan War was undertaken; wherefore also Stesichorus was struck blind, because he cursed her in his poems; but afterward, when he had repented and written those verses which are called palinodes, in which he sung her praises, he saw once more. Thus passing from body to body and suffering insults in every one of them, she at last became a common prostitute; and she it is who was the lost sheep.

For this purpose he himself had come, that he might win her first and free her from chains, and confer salvation upon men by making himself known to them. For since the angels ruled the world poorly, because each one of them coveted the principal power, he had come to mend matters and had descended, been transfigured and assimilated to powers and angels, so that he might appear among men as man, although he was not a man; and that he was supposed to have suffered in Judea, although he had not suffered. Moreover, the prophets inspired by the angels, who were the makers of the world, pronounced their prophecies; for which reason those who place their trust in him and Helena no longer regard them, but are free to do what they will; for men are saved according to his grace, and not according to their righteous works. For deeds are not righteous in the nature of things, but by mere accident and just as those angels who made the world have determined, seeking by such precepts to bring men into bondage. On this account he promised that the world should be dissolved and that those who are his should be freed from the rule of them who made the world.

Thus, then, the mystic priests belonging to this sect both live profligately and practise magical arts, each one to the extent of his ability. They use exorcisms and incantations, love-potions, also, and charms, as well as those beings who are called "familiars" [paredri] and "dream senders" [oniropompi], and whatever other curious arts can be had are eagerly pressed into their service.

(c) Irenaeus, Adv. Haer., I, 23. (MSG, 7:673.)

The system of Menander. Cf. also Eusebius. Hist. Ec., III, 26.

The successor of Simon Magus was Menander, a Samaritan by birth, who also became a perfect adept in magic. He affirms that the first power is unknown to all, but that he himself is the person who has been sent forth by the invisible beings as a saviour for the salvation of men. The world was made by angels, who, as he also, like Simon, says, were produced by the Ennoea, He gives also, as he affirms, by means of the magic which he teaches knowledge, so that one may overcome those angels that made the world. For his disciples obtain the resurrection by the fact that they are baptized into him, and they can die no more, but remain immortal without ever growing old.

(d) Irenaeus, Adv. Haer., I, 26. (MSG, 7:686.)

The system of Cerinthus. For additional source material, see Irenaeus, III, 3, 4; Hippolytus, Ref. VII, 33; X, 21; Eusebius, Hist. Ec., III, 28.

Cerinthus, again, taught in Asia that the world was not made by the supreme God, but by a power separated and distant from that Ruler [principalitate] who is over the universe, and ignorant of the God who is above all. He represented Jesus as not having been born of a virgin, for this seemed impossible to him, but as having been the son of Joseph and Mary in the same way that all other men are sons, only he was more righteous, prudent, and wise than other men. After his baptism Christ descended upon him in the form of a dove from the Supreme Ruler; and that then he proclaimed the unknown Father and performed miracles. But at last Christ departed from Jesus, and then Jesus suffered and rose again, but Christ remained impassable, since He was a spiritual being.

§ 22. The Greater Gnostic Systems: Basilides and Valentinus

The Gnostic systems having most influence within the Church and effect upon its development were those of Basilides and Valentinus. Of these teachers and their followers we have not only the accounts of those opponents who attacked principally their esoteric and most characteristically Gnostic tenets, but also fragments and other remains which give a more favorable impression of the religious and moral value of the great schools of Gnosticism. In their "systems" of vast theogonies and cosmologies, in their wild mythological treatment of the most abstract conceptions and their dualism, the Church writers naturally saw at once their most vulnerable and most dangerous element.

A. The School of Basilides

The school of Basilides marks the beginning of the distinctively Hellenistic stadium of Gnosticism. Basilides, its founder, apparently worked first in the East; circa 120-130 he was at Alexandria. He was the first important Gnostic writer. Of his Gospel, Commentary on that Gospel in twenty-four books (Exegetica), and his odes only fragments remain of the second, preserved by Clement of Alexandria and in the Acta Archelai (collected by Hilgenfeld, Ketzergeschichte, 207-213).

Additional source material: Clement of Alexandria, Strom., II, 3, 8, 20; IV, 24, 26 (ANF. II); Hippolytus, Ref., VII, 20-27; X, 14 (=VII, 1-15, X, 10, ANF, V); Eusebius, Hist. Ec., IV.7. The account of Hippolytus differs markedly from that of Irenaeus, and his quotations and references have been the subject of long dispute among scholars.

(a) Acta Archelai, 55. (MSG, 10:1526.)

The Acta Archelai purport to be an account of a disputation held in the reign of the Emperor Probus (276-282) by Archelaus, Bishop of Kaskar in Mesopotamia, with Mani, the founder of Manichaeanism. The work is of uncertain authorship; it belongs to the first part of the fourth century. It is the most important source for the Manichaean doctrine (v. infra, § 54). It exists only in a Latin translation probably from a Greek original.

Among the Persians there was also a certain preacher, one Basilides, of more ancient date, not long after the time of our Apostles. Since he was of a shrewd disposition himself, and observed that at that time all other subjects were preoccupied, he determined to affirm that dualism which was maintained also by Scythianus. And so, since he had nothing to advance which he might call his own, he brought the sayings of others before his adversaries. And all his books contain some matters difficult and extremely harsh. The thirteenth book of his Tractates,(39) however, is still extant, which begins thus: "In writing the thirteenth book of our Tractates, the word of salvation furnished us with the necessary and fruitful word. It illustrates(40) under the figure of a rich [principle] and a poor [principle], a nature without root and without place and only supervenes upon things.(41) This is the only topic which the book contains." Does it not, then, contain a strange word, as also certain persons think? Will ye not all be offended with the book itself, of which this is the beginning? But Basilides, returning to the subject, some five hundred lines intervening, more or less, says: "Give up this vain and curious variation, and let us rather find out what inquiries the Barbarians [i.e., the Persians] have instituted concerning good and evil, and to what opinions they have come on all these subjects. For certain among them have said that there are for all things two beginnings [or principles], to which they have referred good and evil, holding these principles are without beginning and ingenerate; that is to say, that in the origins of things there were light and darkness, which existed of themselves, and which were not declared to exist.(42) When these subsisted by themselves, they each led its own proper mode of life as it willed to lead, and such as was competent to it. For in the case of all things, what is proper to it is in amity with it, and nothing seems evil to itself. But after they came to the knowledge of each other, and after the darkness contemplated the light, then, as if fired with a passion for something superior, the darkness rushed to have intercourse with the light."

(b) Clement of Alexandria, Strom., IV, 12. (MSG, 8:1289.)

Basilides taught the transmigration of souls as an explanation of human suffering. Cf. Origen in Ep. ad Rom., V: "I [Paul], he says, died [Rom.7:9], for now sin began to be reckoned unto me. But Basilides, not noticing that these things ought to be understood of the natural law, according to impious and foolish fables turns this apostolic saying into the Pythagorean dogma, that is, attempts to prove from this word of the Apostle that souls are transferred from one body to another. For he says that the Apostle has said, 'I lived without any law' -- i.e., before I came into the body I lived in that sort of body which is not under the law, i.e., of beasts and birds."

Basilides, in the twenty-third book of the Exegetics, respecting those that are punished by martyrdom, expresses himself in the following language: "For I say this, Whosoever fall under the afflictions mentioned, in consequence of unconsciously transgressing in other matters, are brought to this good end by the kindness of Him who brings about all things, though they are accused on other grounds; so that they may not suffer as condemned for what are acknowledged to be iniquities, nor reproached as the adulterer or the murderer, but because they are Christians; which will console them, so that they do not appear to suffer. And if one who has not sinned at all incur suffering (a rare case), yet even he will not suffer aught through the machinations of power, but will suffer as the child which seems not to have sinned would suffer." Then further on he adds: "As, then, the child which has not sinned before, nor actually committed sin, but has in itself that which committed sin, when subjected to suffering is benefited, reaping the advantage of many difficulties; so, also, although a perfect man may not have sinned in act, and yet endures afflictions, he suffers similarly with the child. Having within him the sinful principle, but not embracing the opportunity of committing sin, he does not sin; so that it is to be reckoned to him as not having sinned. For as he who wishes to commit adultery is an adulterer, although he fails to commit adultery, and he who wishes to commit murder is a murderer, although he is unable to kill; so, also, if I see the man without sin, whom I refer to, suffering, though he have done nothing bad, I should call him bad on account of the wish to sin. For I will affirm anything rather than call Providence evil." Then, in continuation, he says expressly concerning the Lord, as concerning man: "If, then, passing from all these observations, you were to proceed to put me to shame by saying, perchance impersonating certain parties, This man has then sinned, for this man has suffered; if you permit, I will say, He has not sinned, but was like a child suffering. If you insist more urgently, I would say, That the man you name is man, but God is righteous, 'for no one is pure,' as one said, 'from pollution.' " But the hypothesis of Basilides says that the soul, having sinned before in another life, endures punishment in this -- the elect soul with honor by martyrdom, the other purged by appropriate punishment.

(c) Irenaeus, Adv. Haer., I, 24:3 ff. (MSG, 7:675.)

The system of Basilides, as presented by Irenaeus, is dualistic and emanationist; with it is to be compared the presentation of the system by Hippolytus in his Philosophumena, where it appears as evolutionary and pantheistic. The trend of present opinion appears to be that the account given by Irenaeus is more correct, or, at least, is earlier. The following account has all the appearance of having been taken from an original source (cf. Hilgenfeld, Ketzergeschichte, 195, 198). It represents the esoteric and more distinctively Gnostic teaching of the school.

Ch.3. Basilides, to appear to have discovered something more sublime and plausible, gives an immense development to his doctrine. He declares that in the beginning the Nous was born of the unborn Father, that from him in turn was born the Logos, then from the Logos the Phronesis, from the Phronesis Sophia and Dynamis, and from Dynamis and Sophia the powers and principalities and angels, whom he calls the first; and that by these the first heaven was made. Then by emanation from these others were formed, and these created another heaven similar to the first. And in like manner, when still others had been formed by emanations from these, corresponding to those who were over them, they framed another third heaven; and from this third heaven downward there was a fourth succession of descendants; and so on, in the same manner, they say that other and still other princes and angels were formed, and three hundred and sixty-five heavens. Wherefore the year contained the same number of days in conformity with the number of the heavens.

Ch.4. The angels occupying the lowest heaven, that, namely, which is visible to us, created all those things which are in the world, and made allotments among themselves of the earth, and of those nations which are upon it. The chief of them is he who is thought to be the God of the Jews. Inasmuch as he wished to make the other nations subject to his own people, the Jews, all the other princes resisted and opposed him. Wherefore all other nations were hostile to his nation. But the unbegotten and nameless Father, seeing their ruin, sent his own first-begotten Nous, for he it is who is called Christ, to set free from the power of those who made the world them that believe in him. He therefore appeared on earth as a man to the nations of those powers and wrought miracles. Wherefore he did not himself suffer death, but Simon, a certain Cyrenian, was compelled and bore the cross in his stead; and this latter was transfigured by him that he might be thought to be Jesus and was crucified through ignorance and error; but Jesus himself took the form of Simon and stood by and derided him. For as he is an incorporeal power and the Nous of the unborn Father, he transfigured himself at pleasure, and so ascended to him who had sent him, deriding them, inasmuch as he could not be held, and was invisible to all. Those, then, who know these things have been freed from the princes who made the world; so that it is not necessary to confess him who was crucified, but him who came in the form of a man, and was thought to have been crucified, and was called Jesus, and was sent by the Father, that by this dispensation he might destroy the works of the makers of the world. Therefore, Basilides says that if any one confesses the crucified, he is still a slave, under the power of those who made our bodies; but whoever denies him has been freed from these beings and is acquainted with the dispensation of the unknown Father.

Ch.5. Salvation is only of the soul, for the body is by nature corruptible. He says, also, that even the prophecies were derived from those princes who made the world, but the law was especially given by their chief, who led the people out of the land of Egypt. He attaches no importance to meats offered to idols, thinks them of no consequence, but makes use of them without hesitation. He holds, also, the use of other things as indifferent, and also every kind of lust. These men, furthermore, use magic, images, incantations, invocations, and every other kind of curious arts. Coining also certain names as if they were those of the angels, they assert that some of these belong to the first, others to the second, heaven; and then they strive to set forth the names, principles, angels, powers, of the three hundred and sixty-five imagined heavens. They also affirm that the name in which the Saviour ascended and descended is Caulacau.(43)

Ch.6. He, then, who has learned these things, and known all the angels and their causes, is rendered invisible and incomprehensible to the angels and powers, even as Caulacau also was. And as the Son was unknown to all, so must they also be known by no one; but while they know all and pass through all, they themselves remain invisible and unknown to all; for "Do thou," they say, "know all, but let nobody know thee." For this reason, persons of such a persuasion are also ready to recant, yea, rather, it is impossible that they should suffer on account of a mere name, since they are alike to all. The multitude, however, cannot understand these matters, but only one out of a thousand, or two out of ten thousand. They declare that they are no longer Jews, and that they are not yet Christians; and that it is not at all fitting to speak openly of their mysteries, but right to keep them secret by preserving silence.

Ch.7. They make out the local position of the three hundred and sixty-five heavens in the same way as do the mathematicians. For, accepting the theorems of the latter, they have transferred them to their own style of doctrine. They hold that their chief is Abraxas [or Abrasax]; and on this account that the word contains in itself the numbers amounting to three hundred and sixty-five.

B. The School of Valentinus

The Valentinians were the most important of all the Gnostics closely connected with the Church. The school had many adherents scattered throughout the Roman Empire, its leading teachers were men of culture and literary ability, and the sect maintained itself a long time. Valentinus himself was a native of Egypt, and probably educated at Alexandria, where he may have come under the influence of Basilides. He taught his own system chiefly at Rome c.140-c.160. The great work of Irenaeus against the Gnostics, although having all Gnostics in view, especially deals with the Valentinians in their various forms, because Irenaeus was of the opinion that he who refutes their system refutes all (cf. Adv. Haer., IV, praef., 2). It is difficult to reconstruct with certainty the esoteric system of Valentinus as distinguished from possibly later developments of the school, as Irenaeus, the principal authority, follows not only Valentinus, but Ptolomaeus and others, in describing the system. The following selection of sources gives fragments of the letters and other writings of Valentinus himself as preserved by Clement of Alexandria, passages from Irenaeus bringing out distinctive features of the system, and the important letter of Ptolemaeus to Flora, one of the very few extant writings of the Gnostics of an early date. It gives a good idea of the character of the exoteric teaching of the school.

Additional source material: The principal authority for the system of the Valentinians is Irenaeus, Adv. Haer., Lib. I (ANF), see also Hippolytus, Refut., VI, 24-32 (ANF); "The Hymn of the Soul," from the Acts of Thomas, trans. by A. A. Bevan, Texts and Studies, III, Cambridge, 1897; The Fragments of Heracleon, trans. by A. E. Burke, Text and Studies, I, Cambridge, 1891; see also ANF, IX, index, p.526, s. v., Heracleon. The Excerpta Theodoti contained in ANF, VIII, are really the Excerpta Prophetica, another collection, identified with the Excerpta Theodoti by mistake of the editor of the American edition, A. C. Coxe (on the Excerpta, see Zahn, History of the Canon of the New Testament).

(a) Clement of Alexandria, Strom., IV, 13. (MSG, 8:1296.)

The following passages appear to be taken from the same homily of Valentinus. The pneumatics are naturally immortal, but have assumed mortality to overcome it. Death is the work of the imperfect Demiurge. The concluding portion, which is very obscure, does not fit well into the Valentinian system. Cf. Hilgenfeld, op. cit., p.300.

Valentinian in a homily writes in these words: "Ye are originally immortal, and ye are children of eternal life, and ye desired to have death distributed to you, that ye may spend and lavish it, and that death may die in you and by you; for when ye dissolve the world, and are not yourselves dissolved, ye have dominion over creation and all corruption."(44) For he also, similarly with Basilides, supposes a class saved by nature [i.e., the pneumatics, v. infra], and that this different race has come hither to us from above for the abolition of death, and that the origin of death is the work of the Creator of the world. Wherefore, also, he thus expounds that Scripture, "No one shall see the face of God and live" [Ex.33:20], as if He were the cause of death. Respecting this God, he makes those allusions, when writing, in these expressions: "As much as the image is inferior to the living face, so much is the world inferior to the living Eon. What is, then, the cause of the image? It is the majesty of the face, which exhibits the figure to the painter, to be honored by his name; for the form is not found exactly to the life, but the name supplies what is wanting in that which is formed. The invisibility of God co-operates also for the sake of the faith of that which has been fashioned." For the Demiurge, called God and Father, he designated the image and prophet of the true God, as the Painter, and Wisdom, whose image, which is formed, is to the glory of the invisible One; since the things which proceed from a pair [syzygy] are complements [pleromata], and those which proceed from one are images. But since what is seen is no part of Him, the soul [psyche] comes from what is intermediate, and is different; and this is the inspiration of the different spirit. And generally what is breathed into the soul, which is the image of the spirit [pneuma], and in general, what is said of the Demiurge, who was made according to the image, they say was foretold by a sensible image in the book of Genesis respecting the origin of man; and the likeness they transfer to themselves, teaching that the addition of the different spirit was made, unknown to the Demiurge.

(b) Clement of Alexandria, Strom., II, 20. (MSG, 8:1057.)

According to Basilides, the various passions of the soul were no original parts of the soul, but appendages to the soul. "They were in essence certain spirits attached to the rational soul, through some original perturbation and confusion; and that again, other bastard and heterogeneous natures of spirits grow onto them, like that of the wolf, the ape, the lion, and the goat, whose properties, showing themselves around the soul, they say, assimilate the lusts of the soul to the likeness of these animals." See the whole passage immediately preceding the following fragment. The fragment can best be understood by reference to the presentation of the system by W. Bousset in Encyc. Brit., eleventh ed., art. "Basilides."

Valentinus, too, in a letter to certain people, writes in these very words respecting the appendages: "There is One good, by whose presence is the manifestation, which is by the Son, and by Him alone can the heart become pure, by the expulsion of every evil spirit from the heart; for the multitude of spirits dwelling in it do not suffer it to be pure; but each of them performs his own deeds, insulting it oft with unseemly lusts. And the heart seems to be treated somewhat like a caravansary. For the latter has holes and ruts made in it, and is often filled with filthy dung; men living filthily in it, and taking no care for the place as belonging to others. So fares it with the heart as long as there is no thought taken for it, being unclean and the abode of demons many. But when the only good Father visits it, it is sanctified and gleams with light. And he who possesses such a heart is so blessed that he shall see God."

(c) Clement of Alexandria, Strom., II.8. (MSG, 8:972.)

The teaching in the following passage attaches itself to the text, "The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom" (cf. Prov.1:7). Compare with it Irenaeus, Adv. Haer., I, 30:6.

Here the followers of Basilides, interpreting this expression [Prov.1:7] say that "the Archon, having heard the speech of the Spirit, who was being ministered to, was struck with amazement both with the voice and the vision, having had glad tidings beyond his hopes announced to him; and that his amazement was called fear, which became the origin of wisdom, which distinguishes classes, and discriminates, and perfects, and restores. For not the world alone, but also the election, He that is over all has set apart and sent forth."

And Valentinus appears also in an epistle to have adopted such views. For he writes in these very words: "And as terror fell on the angels at this creature, because he uttered things greater than proceeds from his formation, by reason of the being in him who had invisibly communicated a germ of the supernal essence, and who spoke with free utterance; so, also, among the tribes of men in the world the works of men became terrors to those who made them -- as, for example, images and statues. And the hands of all fashion things to bear the image of God; for Adam, formed into the name of man, inspired the dread attaching to the pre-existing man, as having his being in him; and they were terror-stricken and speedily marred the work."

(d) Clement of Alexandria, Strom., III, 7. (MSG, 8:1151.)

The Docetism of Valentinus comes out in the following. It is to be noted that Clement not only does not controvert the position taken by the Gnostic as to the reality of the bodily functions of Jesus, but in his own person makes almost the same assertions (cf. Strom., VI, 9). He might indeed call himself, as he does in this latter passage, a Gnostic in the sense of the true or Christian Gnostic, but he comes very close to the position of the non-Christian Gnostic.

Valentinus in an epistle to Agathopous says: "Since He endured all things, and was continent [i.e., self-controlled], Jesus, accordingly, obtained for Himself divinity. He ate and drank in a peculiar manner, not giving forth His food. Such was the power of His continence [self-control] that the food was not corrupted in Him, because He himself was without corruption."

(e) Irenaeus, Adv. Haer., I, 7, 15; I, 8, 23. (MSG, 7:517, 528.)

The division of mankind into three classes, according to their nature and consequent capacity for salvation, is characteristic of the Valentinian Gnosticism. The other Gnostics divided mankind into two classes: those capable of salvation, or the pneumatics, or Gnostics, and those who perish in the final destruction of material existence, or the hylics. Valentinus avails himself of the notion of the trichotomy of human nature, and gives a place for the bulk of Christians, those who did not embrace Gnosticism; cf. Irenaeus, ibid., I, 6. Valentinus remained long within the Church, accommodating his teaching as far as possible, and in its exoteric side very fully, to the current teaching of the Church. The doctrine as to the psychics, capable of a limited salvation, appears to be a part of this accommodation.

I, 7, 5. The Valentinians conceive of three kinds of men: the pneumatic [or spiritual], the choic [or material],(45) and the psychic [or animal]; such were Cain, Abel, and Seth. These three natures are no longer in one person, but in the race. The material goes to destruction. The animal, if it chooses the better part, finds repose in an intermediate place; but if it chooses the worse, it, too, goes to the same [destruction]. But they assert that the spiritual principles, whatever Acamoth has sown, being disciplined and nourished here from that time until now in righteous souls, because they were sent forth weak, at last attain perfection and shall be given as brides(46) to the angels of the Saviour, but their animal souls necessarily rest forever with the Demiurge in the intermediate place. And again subdividing the animal souls themselves, they say that some are by nature good and others are by nature evil. The good are those who become capable of receiving the seed; the evil by nature, those who are never able to receive that seed.

I, 8, 23. The parable of the leaven which the woman is said to have hid in three measures of meal they declare manifests the three kinds of men: pneumatic, psychic, and the choic, but the leaven denoted the Saviour himself. Paul also very plainly set forth the choic, the psychic, and the pneumatic, saying in one place: "As is the earthy [choic] such are they also that are earthy" [I Cor.15:48]; and in another place, "He that is spiritual [pneumatic] judgeth all things" [I Cor.2:14]. And the passage, "The animal man receiveth not the things of the spirit" [I Cor.2:15], they affirm was spoken concerning the Demiurge, who, being psychic, knew neither his mother, who was spiritual, nor her seed, nor the Eons in the pleroma.

(f) Irenaeus. Adv. Haer., I, 1. (MSG, 7:445 f.)

The following passage appears, from the context, to have been written with the teaching of Ptolemaeus especially in mind. It should be compared with the account further on in the same book, I, 11: 1-3. The syzygies are characteristic of the Valentinian teaching, and the symbolism of marriage plays an important part in the "system" of all the Valentinians. In the words of Duchesne (Hist. ancienne de l'eglise, sixth ed., p.171): "Valentinian Gnosticism is from one end to the other a 'marriage Gnosticism.' From the most abstract origins of being to their end, there are only syzygies, marriages, and generations." For the connection between these conceptions and antinomianism, see Irenaeus, Adv. Haer., I, 6:3 f. For their sacramental application, ibid., I, 21:3. Cf. I, 13:3, a passage which seems to belong to the sacrament of the bridal chamber.

They [the Valentinians] say that in the invisible and ineffable heights above there exists a certain perfect, pre-existent Eon, and him they call Proarche, Propator, and Bythos; and that he is invisible and that nothing is able to comprehend him. Since he is comprehended by no one, and is invisible, eternal, and unbegotten, he was in silence and profound quiescence in the boundless ages. There existed along with him Ennoea, whom they call Charis and Sige. And at a certain time this Bythos determined to send forth from himself the beginnings of all things, and just as seed he wished to send forth this emanation, and he deposited it in the womb of her who was with him, even of Sige. She then received this seed, and becoming pregnant, generated Nous, who was both similar and equal to him who had sent him forth(47) and alone comprehended his father's greatness. This Nous they also call Monogenes and Father and the Beginning of all Things. Along with him was also sent forth Aletheia; and these four constituted the first and first-begotten Pythagorean Tetrad, which also they denominate the root of all things. For there are first Bythos and Sige, and then Nous and Aletheia. And Monogenes, when he perceived for what purpose he had been sent forth, also himself sent forth Logos and Zoe, being the father of all those who are to come after him, and the beginning and fashioning of the entire pleroma. From Logos and Zoe were sent forth, by a conjunction, Anthropos and Ecclesia, and thus were formed the first-begotten Ogdoad, the root and substance of all things, called among them by four names; namely, Bythos, Nous, Logos, and Anthropos. For each of these is at once masculine and feminine, as follows: Propator was united by a conjunction with his Ennoea, then Monogenes (i.e., Nous) with Aletheia, Logos with Zoe, Anthropos with Ecclesia.

(g) Ptolemaeus, Epistula ad Floram, ap. Epiphanius, Panarion, Haer. XXXIII, 3. Ed. Oehler, 1859. (MSG, 41:557.)

Ptolemaeus was possibly the most important disciple of Valentinus. and the one to whom Irenaeus is most indebted for his first-hand knowledge of the teaching of the sect of the Valentinians. Of his writings have been preserved, in addition to numerous brief fragments, a connected passage of some length, apparently from a commentary on the Prologue or the Gospel of St. John (see Irenaeus, Adv. Haer., I, 8:5), and the Epistle to Flora. The commentary is distinctly a part of the esoteric teaching, the epistle is as clearly exoteric.

That many have not(48) received the Law given by Moses, my dear sister Flora, without recognizing either its fundamental ideas or its precepts, will be perfectly clear to you, I believe, if you become acquainted with the different views regarding the same. For some [i.e., the Church] say that it was commanded by God and the Father; but others [i.e., the Marcionites], taking the opposite direction, affirm that it was commanded by an opposing and injurious devil, and they attribute to him the creation of the world, and say that he is the Father and Creator. But such as teach such doctrine are altogether deceived, and each of them strays from the truth of what lies before him. For it appears not to have been given by the perfect God and Father, because it is itself imperfect, and it needs to be completed [cf. Matt.5:17], and it has precepts not consonant with the nature and mind of God; neither is the Law to be attributed to the wickedness of the adversary, whose characteristic is to do wrong. Such do not know what was spoken by the Saviour, that a city or a house divided against itself cannot stand, as our Saviour has shown us. And besides, the Apostle says that the creation of the world was His work (all things were made by Him and without Him nothing was made), refuting the unsubstantial wisdom of lying men, the work not of a god working ruin, but a just one who hates wickedness. This is the opinion of rash men who do not understand the cause of the providence of the Creator [Demiurge] and have lost the eyes not only of their soul, but of their body. How far, therefore, such wander from the way of truth is evident to you from what has been said. But each of these is induced by something peculiar to himself to think thus, some by ignorance of the God of righteousness: others by ignorance of the Father of all, whom the Only One who knew Him alone revealed when He came. To us it has been reserved to be deemed worthy of making manifest to you the ideas of both of these, and to investigate carefully this Law, whence anything is, and the law-giver by whom it was commanded, bringing proofs of what shall be said from the words of our Saviour, by which alone one can be led without error to the knowledge of things.

First of all, it is to be known that the entire Law contained in the Pentateuch of Moses was not given by one -- I mean not by God alone; but some of its precepts were given by men, and the words of the Saviour teach us to divide it into three parts. For He attributes some of it to God himself and His law-giving, and some to Moses, not in the sense that God gave laws through him, but in the sense that Moses, impelled by his own spirit, set down some things as laws; and He attributes some things to the elders of the people, who first discovered certain commandments of their own and then inserted them. How this was so you clearly learn from the words of the Saviour. Somewhere the Saviour was conversing with the people, who disputed with Him about divorce, that it was allowed in the Law, and He said to them: Moses, on account of the hardness of your hearts, permitted a man to divorce his wife; but from the beginning it was not so. For God, said He, joined this bond, and what the Lord joined together let not man, He said, put asunder. He therefore pointed out one law that forbids a woman to be separated from her husband, which was of God, and another, which was of Moses, that allows, on account of the hardness of men's hearts, the bond to be dissolved. And accordingly, Moses gives a law opposed to God, for it is opposed to the law forbidding divorce. But if we consider carefully the mind of Moses, according to which he thus legislated, we shall find that he did not do this of his own mere choice, but by constraint because of the weakness of those to whom he was giving the law. For since they were not able to observe that precept of God by which it was not permitted them to cast forth their wives, with whom some of them lived unhappily, and because of this they were in danger of falling still more into unrighteousness, and from that into utter ruin, Moses, intending to avoid this unhappy result, because they were in danger of ruin, gave a certain second law, according to circumstances less evil, in place of the better; and by his own authority gave the law of divorce to them, that if they could not keep that they might keep this, and should not fall into unrighteousness and wickedness by which complete ruin should overtake them. This was his purpose in as far as he is found giving laws contrary to God. That thus the law of Moses is shown to be other than the Law of God is indisputable, if we have shown it in one instance.

And as to there being certain traditions of the elders which have been incorporated in the Law, the Saviour shows this also. For God, said He, commanded: Honor thy father and thy mother, that it may be well with thee. But ye, He said, addressing the elders, have said: It is a gift to God, that by which ye might be profited by me, and ye annul the law of God by the traditions of your elders. And this very thing Isaiah declared when he said: This people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me, vainly do they worship me, teaching the doctrines and commandment of men [cf. Matt.15:4-9.] Clearly, then, from these things it is shown that this whole Law is to be divided into three parts. And in it we find laws given by Moses, by the elders, and by God; and this division of the whole Law as we have made it, has shown the real truth as to the Law.

But one portion of the Law, that which is from God, is again to be divided into three parts: first, into the genuine precepts, quite untainted with evil, which is properly called the law, and which the Saviour came not to destroy but to complete (for what he completed was not alien to Him, but yet it was not perfect); secondly, the part comprising evil and unrighteous things, which the Saviour did away with as something unfitting His nature; and thirdly, the part which is for types and symbols, which is given as a law, as images of things spiritual and excellent which, from being evident and manifest to the senses, the Saviour changed into the spiritual and unseen. Now the law of God, pure and untainted with anything base, is the Decalogue itself, or those ten precepts distributed in two tables, for the prohibition of things to be avoided and the performance of things to be done. Although they constitute a pure body of laws, yet they are not perfect, but need to be completed by the Saviour. But there is that body of commands which are tainted with unrighteousness; such is the law requiring vengeance and requital of injuries upon those who have first injured us, commanding the smiting out of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth and revenging bloodshed with bloodshed. For one who is second in doing unrighteousness acts no less unrighteously, when the difference is only one of order, doing the self-same work. But such a precept was, and is, in other respects just, because of the infirmity of those to whom the law was given, and it was given in violation of the pure law, and was not consonant with the nature and goodness of the Father of all; it was to a degree appropriate, but yet given under a certain compulsion. For he who forbids the commission of a single murder in that he says, Thou shalt not kill, but commands that he who kills shall in requital be killed, gives a second law and commands a second slaying, when he has forbidden one, and has been compelled to do this by necessity. And therefore the Son, sent by Him, abolishes this portion of the Law, He himself confessing that it is from God, and this, among other things, is to be attributed to an ancient heresy, among which, also, is that God, speaking, says: He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But there is that part of the Law which is typical, laying down that which is an image of things spiritual and excellent, which gives laws concerning such matters as offerings, I mean, and circumcision, the Sabbath and fasting, the passover and the unleavened bread, and such like. For all these things, being images and symbols of the truth which had been manifested, have been changed. They were abrogated so far as they were external, visible acts of bodily performance, but they were retained so far as they were spiritual, the names remaining, but the things being changed. For the Saviour commands us to present offerings, though not of irrational animals or of incense, but spiritual offerings -- praise, glory, and thanksgiving, and also liberality and good deeds toward the neighbor. He would have us circumcised with a circumcision not of the flesh, but spiritual and of the heart; and have us observe the Sabbath, for he wishes us to rest from wicked actions; and fast, but he does not wish us to observe a bodily fast, but a spiritual, in that we abstain from all that is unworthy. External fasting, however, is observed among our people, since it is capable of benefiting the soul to some degree, if it is practised with reason, when it is neither performed from imitation of any one, nor by custom, nor on account of a day, as if a day were set apart for that purpose; and at the same time it is also for a reminder of true fasting, that they who are not able to fast thus may have a reminder of it from the fast which is external. And that the passover, in the same way, and the unleavened bread are images, the Apostle Paul also makes clear, saying: Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us, and That ye may be unleavened, not having any leaven (for he calls leaven wickedness), but that ye may be a new dough.

This entire Law, therefore, acknowledged to be from God, is divided into three parts: into that part which is fulfilled by the Saviour, such as Thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not forswear thyself, for they are included in this, thou shalt not be angry, thou shalt not lust, thou shalt not swear; into that which is completely abolished, such as an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, being tainted with unrighteousness, and having the same work of unrighteousness, and these are taken away by the Saviour because contradictory (for those things which are contradictory are mutually destructive), "For I say unto you that ye in no wise resist evil, but if any one smite thee turn to him the other cheek also;" and into that part which is changed and converted from that which is bodily into that which is spiritual, as he expounds allegorically a symbol which is commanded as an image of things that are excellent. For these images and symbols, fitted to represent other things, were good so long as the truth was not yet present; but when the truth is present, it is necessary to do the things of truth, not the image of truth. The same thing his disciples and the Apostle Paul teach, inasmuch as in regard to things which are images, as we have already said, they show by the passover and the unleavened bread that they are for our sake, but in regard to the law which is tainted with unrighteousness, they call it the law of commandments and ordinances, that is done away; but as to the law which is untainted with evil, he says that the law is holy and the commandment holy and just and good.

Accordingly, I think that it has been sufficiently shown you, so far as it is possible to discuss the matter briefly, that there are laws of men which have slipped in, and there is the very Law of God which is divided into three parts. There remains, therefore, for us to show, who, then, is that God who gave the Law. But I think that this has been shown you in what has already been said, if you have listened attentively. For if the Law was not given by the perfect God, as we have shown, nor by the devil, which idea merely to mention is unlawful, there is another beside these, one who gave the Law. This one is, therefore, the Demiurge and maker of this whole world and of all things in it, different from the nature of the other two, and placed between them, and who therefore rightly bears the name of the Midst. And if the perfect God is good according to His own nature, as also He is (for that there is only One who is good, namely, God and His Father, the Saviour asserted, the God whom He manifested), there is also one who is of the nature of the adversary, bad and wicked and characterized by unrighteousness. Standing, therefore, between these, and being neither good nor bad nor unjust, he can be called righteous in a sense proper to him, as the judge of the righteousness that corresponds to him, and that god will be lower than the perfect God, and his righteousness lower than His, because he is begotten and not unbegotten. For there is one unbegotten One, the Father, from whom are all things, for all things have been prepared by Him. But He is greater and superior to the adversary, and is of a different essence or nature from the essence of the other. For the essence of the adversary is corruption and darkness, for he is hylic and composite,(49) but the essence of the unbegotten Father of all is incorruptibility, and He is light itself, simple and uniform. But the essence of these(50) brings forth a certain twofold power, and he is the image of the better. Do not let these things disturb you, who wish to learn how from one principle of all things, whom we acknowledge and in whom be believe, namely, the unbegotten and the incorruptible and the good, there exist two other natures, namely, that of corruption and that of the Midst, which are not of the same essence [{GREEK SMALL LETTER ALPHA WITH PSILI}{GREEK SMALL LETTER NU}{GREEK SMALL LETTER OMICRON}{GREEK SMALL LETTER MU}{GREEK SMALL LETTER OMICRON}{GREEK SMALL LETTER OMICRON}{GREEK SMALL LETTER UPSILON WITH PERISPOMENI}{GREEK SMALL LETTER SIGMA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER IOTA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER OMICRON}{GREEK SMALL LETTER IOTA}], though the good by nature begets and brings forth what is like itself, and of the same essence [{GREEK SMALL LETTER OMICRON WITH DASIA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER MU}{GREEK SMALL LETTER OMICRON}{GREEK SMALL LETTER OMICRON}{GREEK SMALL LETTER UPSILON WITH PERISPOMENI}{GREEK SMALL LETTER SIGMA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER IOTA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER OMICRON}{GREEK SMALL LETTER FINAL SIGMA}]. For you will learn by God's permission, in due order, both the beginning of this and its generation, since you are deemed worthy of the apostolic tradition, which by a succession we have received, and in due season to test all things by the teaching of the Saviour. The things which in a few words I have said to you, my sister Flora, I have not exhausted, and I have written briefly. At the same time I have sufficiently explained to you the subject proposed, and what I have said will be constantly of use to you, if as a beautiful and good field you have received the seed and will by it produce fruit.

§ 23. Marcion

Recently Marcion has been commonly treated apart from the Gnostics on account of the large use he made of the Pauline writings. By some he has even been regarded as a champion of Pauline ideas which had failed to hold a place in Christian thought. This opinion of Marcion is being modified under the influence of a larger knowledge of Gnosticism. At the bottom Marcion's doctrine was thoroughly Gnostic, though he differed from the vast majority of Gnostics in that his interest seems to have been primarily ethical rather than speculative. His school maintained itself for some centuries after undergoing some minor modifications. Marcion was teaching at Rome, A. D.140. The aspersions upon his moral character must be taken with caution, as it had already become a common practice to blacken the character of theological opponents, regardless of the truth, a custom which has not yet wholly disappeared.

Additional source material: Justin Martyr, Apol., I.26, 58; Irenaeus, III.12:12 ff. The most important source is Tertullian's elaborate Adversus Marcionem, especially I, 1 f., 29; III, 8.11.

(a) Irenaeus, Adv. Haer., I, 27: 1-3. (MSG, 7:687.)

The system of Cerdo and Marcion.

Ch.1. A certain Cerdo, who had taken his fundamental ideas from those who were with Simon [i.e., Simon Magus], and who was in Rome in the time of Hyginus, who held the ninth place from the Apostles in the episcopal succession, taught that the God who was preached by the law and the prophets is not the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the former is known, but the latter is unknown; and the former is righteous, but the other is good.

Ch.2. And Marcion of Pontus succeeded him and developed a school, blaspheming shamelessly Him who is proclaimed as God by the law and the prophets; saying that He is maker of evils and a lover of wars, inconstant in purpose and inconsistent with Himself. He said, however, that Jesus came from the Father, who is above the God who made the world, into Judea in the time of Pontius Pilate, the procurator of Tiberius Caesar, and was manifested in the form of a man to those who were in Judea, destroying the prophets and the law, and all the works of that God who made the world and whom he also called Cosmocrator. In addition to this, he mutilated the Gospel which is according to Luke, and removed all that refers to the generation of the Lord, removing also many things from the teaching in the Lord's discourses, in which the Lord is recorded as very plainly confessing that the founder of this universe is His Father; and thus Marcion persuaded his disciples that he himself is truer than the Apostles who delivered the Gospel; delivering to them not the Gospel but a part of the Gospel. But in the same manner he also mutilated the epistles of the Apostle Paul, removing all that is plainly said by the Apostle concerning that God who made the world, to the effect that He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and all that the Apostle taught by quotation from the prophetical writings which foretold the coming of the Lord.

Ch.3. He taught that salvation would be only of the souls of those who should receive his doctrine, and that it is impossible for the body to partake of salvation, because it was taken from the earth.

(b) Tertullian, Adv. Marcion., I, 19; IV, 2, 3. (MSL, 2: 293.393.)

Tertullian's great work against Marcion is his most important and most carefully written polemical treatise. He revised it three times. The first book of the present revision dates from A. D.207; the other books cannot be dated except conjecturally. In spite of the openly displayed hostile animus of the writer, it can be used with confidence when controlled by reference to other sources.

I, 19. Marcion's special and principal work is the separation of the law and the Gospel; and his disciples will not be able to deny that in this they have their best means by which they are initiated into, and confirmed in, this heresy. For these are Marcion's antitheses -- that is, contradictory propositions; and they aim at putting the Gospel at variance with the law, that from the diversity of the statements of the two documents they may argue for a diversity of gods, also.

IV, 2. With Marcion the mystery of the Christian religion dates from the discipleship of Luke. Since, however, it was under way previously, it must have had its authentic materials by means of which it found its way down to Luke; and by aid of the testimony which it bore Luke himself becomes admissible.

IV, 3. Well, but because Marcion finds the Epistle to the Galatians by Paul, who rebukes even Apostles for "not walking uprightly according to the truth of the Gospel" [Gal.2:14], as well as accuses certain false apostles of being perverters of the Gospel of Christ, he attempts to destroy the standing of those gospels which are published as genuine and under the names of Apostles, or of apostolic men, to secure, forsooth, for his own gospel the credit he takes away from them.

(c) Rhodon, in Eusebius, Hist. Ec., V, 13. (MSG, 20:459.)

At this time Rhodon, a native of Asia, who, as he himself states, had been instructed at Rome by Tatian, with whom we have already become acquainted, wrote excellent books, and published among the rest one against the heresy of Marcion which, he says, was in his time divided into various sects; and he describes those who occasioned the division and refutes carefully the falsehood devised by each. But hear what he writes: "Therefore also they have fallen into disagreement among themselves, and maintain inconsistent opinions. For Apelles, one of their herd, priding himself on his manner of life and his age, acknowledged one principle [i.e., source of existence], but says that the prophecies were from an opposing spirit. And he was persuaded of the truth of this by the responses of a demoniac maiden named Philumene. But others hold to two principles, as does the mariner Marcion himself, among these are Potitus and Basiliscus. These, following the wolf of Pontus and, like him, unable to discover the divisions of things, became reckless, and without any proof baldly asserted two principles. Again, others of them drifted into worse error and assumed not only two, but three, natures. Of these Syneros is the leader and chief, as those say who defend his teaching."

§ 24. Encratites

Asceticism is a wide-spread phenomenon in nearly all religions. It is to be found in apostolic Christianity. In the early Church it was regarded as a matter in the option of the Christian who was aiming at the religious life [see above, § 16]. The characteristic of the Encratites was their insistence upon asceticism as essential to Christian living. They were therefore associated, and with abundant historical justification, with Gnosticism.

Additional source material: Clement of Alexandria, Strom., III, passim; Eusebius, Hist. Ec., IV, 29, cf. the many references in the notes to McGiffert's edition, PNF.

(a) Hippolytus, VIII, 13. (MSG, 16:3368.)

See above, § 19, c.

Others, however, styling themselves Encratites, acknowledge some things concerning God and Christ in like manner with the Church, but in respect to their mode of life they pass their time inflated with pride; thinking that by meats they glorify themselves, they abstain from animal food, are water drinkers, and, forbidding to marry, they devote the rest of their life to habits of asceticism.

(b) Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. I, 28. (MSG, 7:690.)

Many offshoots of numerous heresies have already been formed from those heresies which we have described.{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} By way of example, let us say there are those springing from Saturninus and Marcion, who are called Encratites [i.e., self-controlled], who preached the unmarried state, thus setting aside the original creation of God, and indirectly condemning Him who made male and female for the propagation of the human race. Some of those reckoned as belonging to them have also introduced abstinence from animal food, being ungrateful to God who created all things. They deny, also, the salvation of him who was first created. It is but recently that this opinion has been discovered among them, since a certain man named Tatian first introduced the blasphemy. He had been a hearer of Justin's, and as long as he continued with him he expressed no such views; but after his martyrdom [circa A. D.165] he separated from the Church, and having become 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 Eons, like the followers of Valentinus; and like Marcion and Saturninus, he declared that marriage was nothing else than corruption and fornication. But this denial of Adam's salvation was an opinion due entirely to himself.

§ 25. Montanism

Montanism was, in part at least, an attempt to revive the enthusiastic prophetic element in the early Christian life. In its first manifestations, in Asia Minor, Montanism was wild and fanatical. It soon spread to the West, and in doing so it became, as did other Oriental religious movements (e.g., Gnosticism and Manichaeanism, see § 54), far more sober. It even seemed to many serious persons to be nothing more than a praiseworthy attempt to revive or retain certain primitive Christian conditions, both in respect to personal morals and ecclesiastical organization and life. In this way it came to be patronized by not a few (e.g., Tertullian) who, in other respects, deviated in few or no points from the prevailing thought and practice of Christians. See also § 26.

Additional source material: Eusebius, Hist. Ec., V, 16-19, cf. literature cited in McGiffert's notes. The sayings of Montanus, Maximilla, and Priscilla are collected in Hilgenfeld, Ketzergeschichte, 591 ff. See also Hippolytus, Refut., X, 25f. [= X, 21, ANF.]

(a) Eusebius, Hist. Ec., V, 16:7. (MSG, 20:463.)

For Eusebius, see § 3.

There is said to be a certain village named Ardabau, in Mysia, on the borders of Phrygia. There, they say, when Gratus was proconsul of Asia, a recent convert, Montanus by name -- who, in his boundless desire for leadership, gave the adversary opportunity against him -- first became inspired; and falling into a sort of frenzy and ecstasy raved and began to babble and utter strange sounds, prophesying in a manner contrary to the traditional and constant custom of the Church from the beginning.{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} And he stirred up, besides, two women [Maximilla and Priscilla], and filled them with the false spirit, so that they talked frantically, at unseasonable times, and in a strange manner, like the person already mentioned.{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} And the arrogant spirit taught them to revile the universal and entire Church under heaven, because the spirit of false prophecy received from it neither honor nor entrance into it; for the faithful in Asia met often and in many places throughout Asia to consider this matter and to examine the recent utterances, and they pronounced them profane and rejected the heresy, and thus these persons were expelled from the Church and shut out from the communion.

(b) Apollonius, in Eusebius, Hist. Ec., V, 18. (MSG, 20:475.)

Apollonius was possibly bishop of Ephesus. His work against the Montanists, which appears to have been written about 197, was one of the principal sources for Eusebius in his account of the Montanists. Only fragments of his work have been preserved.

This is he who taught the dissolution of marriages; who laid down laws for fasting; who named Pepuza and Tymion (which were small cities in Phrygia) Jerusalem, desiring to gather people to them from everywhere; who appointed collectors of money; who devised the receiving of gifts under the name of offerings; who provided salaries for those who preached his doctrine, so that by gluttony the teaching of his doctrine might prevail.

(c) Hippolytus, Refut., VIII, 19. (MSG, 16:3356.)

For Hippolytus, see § 19, c.

But there are others who are themselves in nature more heretical than the Quartodecimans. These are Phrygians by birth and they have been deceived, having been overcome by certain women called Priscilla and Maximilla; and they hold these for prophetesses, saying that in them the Paraclete Spirit dwelt; and they likewise glorify one Montanus before these women as a prophet. So, having endless books of these people, they go astray, and they neither judge their statements by reason nor pay attention to those who are able to judge. But they behave without judgment in the faith they place in them, saying they have learned something more through them than from the law and the prophets and the Gospels. But they glorify these women above the Apostles and every gift, so that some of them presume to say that there was something more in them than in Christ. These confess God the Father of the universe and creator of all things, like the Church, and all that the Gospel witnesses concerning Christ, but invent new fasts and feasts and meals of dry food and meals of radishes, saying that thus they were taught by their women. And some of them agree with the heresy of the Noetians and say that the Father is very Son, and that this One became subject to birth and suffering and death.

Chapter III. The Defence Against Heresy

The Church first met the various dangerous heresies which distracted it in the second century by councils or gatherings of bishops (§ 26). Although it was not difficult to bring about a condemnation of novel and manifestly erroneous doctrine, there was need of fixed norms and definite authorities to which to appeal. This was found in the apostolic tradition, which could be more clearly determined by reference to the continuity of the apostolic office, or the episcopate, and especially to the succession of bishops in the churches founded by Apostles (§ 27), the apostolic witness to the truth, or the more precise determination of what writings should be regarded as apostolic, or the canon of the New Testament (§ 28); and the apostolic faith, which was regarded as summed up in the Apostles' Creed (§ 29). These norms of orthodoxy seem to have been generally established as authoritative somewhat earlier in the West than in the East. The result was that Gnosticism was rapidly expelled from the Church, though in some forms it lingered for centuries (§ 30), and that the Church, becoming organized around the episcopate, assumed by degrees a rigid hierarchical constitution (§ 31).

§ 26. The Beginnings of Councils as a Defence against Heresy

Ecclesiastical councils were the first defence against heresy. As the Church had not as yet attained its hierarchical constitution and the autonomy of the local church still persisted, these councils had little more than the combined authority of the several members composing them. They had, as yet, only moral force, and did not speak for the Church officially. With the development of the episcopal constitution, the councils gained rapidly in authority.

Additional source material: See Eusebius, Hist. Ec., V, 16 (given above, § 25, a), V, 24; Tertullian, De Jejun., 13 (given below, § 38).

(a) Libellus Synodicus, Man. I, 723.

For a discussion of the credibility of the Libellus Synodicus, a compilation of the ninth century, see Hefele, History of the Councils, § 1.

A holy and provincial synod was held at Hierapolis in Asia by Apollinarius, the most holy bishop of that city, and twenty-six other bishops. In this synod Montanus and Maximilla, the false prophets, and at the same time, Theodotus the tanner, were condemned and expelled. A holy and local synod was gathered under the most holy Bishop Sotas of Anchialus(51) and twelve other bishops, who condemned and rejected Theodotus the tanner and Montanus together with Maximilla.

(b) Eusebius. Hist. Ec., V, 18. (MSG, 20:475.) Cf. Mirbt, n.21.

The following should be connected with the first attempts of the Church to meet the heresy of the Montanists by gatherings of bishops. It also throws some light on the methods of dealing with the new prophets.

Serapion, who, according to report, became bishop of Antioch at that time, after Maximinus, mentions the works of Apollinarius against the above-mentioned heresy. And he refers to him in a private letter to Caricus and Pontius, in which he himself exposes the same heresy, adding as follows: "That you may see that the doings of this lying band of new prophecy, as it is called, are an abomination to all the brethren throughout the world, I have sent you writings of the most blessed Claudius Apollinarius, bishop of Hierapolis in Asia." In the same letter of Serapion are found the signatures of several bishops, of whom one has subscribed himself as follows: "I, Aurelius Cyrenius, a witness, pray for your health." And another after this manner: "AElius Publius Julius, bishop of Debeltum, a colony of Thrace. As God liveth in the heavens, the blessed Sotas in Anchialus desired to cast the demon out of Priscilla, but the hypocrites would not permit him." And the autograph signatures of many other bishops who agreed with them are contained in the same letter.

§ 27. The Apostolic Tradition and the Episcopate

The Gnostics claimed apostolic authority for their teaching and appealed to successions of teachers who had handed down their teachings. This procedure forced the Church to lay stress upon the obvious fact that its doctrine was derived from the Apostles, a matter on which it never had had any doubt, but was vouched for, not by obscure teachers, but by the churches which had been founded by the Apostles themselves in large cities and by the bishops whom the Apostles had instituted in those churches. Those churches, furthermore, agreed among themselves, but the Gnostic teachers differed widely. By this appeal the bishop came to represent the apostolic order (for an earlier conception v. supra, § 14, b, c), and to take an increasingly important place in the church (v. infra, § 31).

Additional source material: For Gnostic references to successions of teachers, see Tertullian, De Praescr., 25; Clement of Alexandria, Strom., VII, 17; Hippolytus, Refut., VII, 20. (= VII, 8. ANF.)

(a) Irenaeus, Adv. Haer., III, 3: 1-4. (MSG, 7:848.) Cf. Mirbt, n.30.

The first appearance of the appeal to apostolic tradition as preserved in apostolic sees is the following passage from Irenaeus, written about 175. The reference to the church of Rome, beginning, "For with this Church, on account of its more powerful leadership," has been a famous point of discussion. While it is obscure in detail, the application of its general purport to the argument of Irenaeus is clear. Since for this passage we have not the original Greek of Irenaeus, but only the Latin translation, there seems to be no way of clearing up the obscurities and apparently contradictory statements. The text may be found in Gwatkin, op. cit., and in part in Kirch, op. cit., §§ 110-113.

Ch.1. The tradition, therefore, of the Apostles, manifested throughout the world, is a thing which all who wish to see the facts can clearly perceive in every church; and we are able to count up those who were appointed bishops by the Apostles, and to show their successors to our own time, who neither taught nor knew anything resembling these men's ravings. For if the Apostles had known hidden mysteries which they used to teach the perfect, apart from and without the knowledge of the rest, they would have delivered them especially to those to whom they were also committing the churches themselves. For they desired them to be very perfect and blameless in all things, and were also leaving them as their successors, delivering over to them their own proper place of teaching; for if these should act rightly great advantage would result, but if they fell away the most disastrous calamity would occur.

Ch.2. But since it would be very long in such a volume as this to count up the successions [i.e., series of bishops] in all the churches, we confound all those who in any way, whether through self-pleasing or vainglory, or through blindness and evil opinion, gather together otherwise than they ought, by pointing out the tradition derived from the Apostles of the greatest, most ancient, and universally known Church, founded and established by the two most glorious Apostles, Peter and Paul, and also the faith declared to men which through the succession of bishops comes down to our times. For with this Church, on account of its more powerful leadership [potiorem principalitatem], every church, that is, the faithful, who are from everywhere, must needs agree; since in it that tradition which is from the Apostles has always been preserved by those who are from everywhere.

Ch.3. The blessed Apostles having founded and established the Church, intrusted the office of the episcopate to Linus.(52) Paul speaks of this Linus in his Epistles to Timothy. Anacletus succeeded him, and after Anacletus, in the third place from the Apostles, Clement received the episcopate. He had seen and conversed with the blessed Apostles, and their preaching was still sounding in his ears and their tradition was still before his eyes. Nor was he alone in this, for many who had been taught by the Apostles yet survived. In the times of Clement, a serious dissension having arisen among the brethren in Corinth, the Church of Rome sent a suitable letter to the Corinthians, reconciling them in peace, renewing their faith, and proclaiming the doctrine lately received from the Apostles.{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS}

Evaristus succeeded Clement, and Alexander Evaristus. Then Sixtus, the sixth from the Apostles, was appointed. After him Telesephorus, who suffered martyrdom gloriously, and then Hyginus; after him Pius, and after Pius Anicetus; Soter succeeded Anicetus, and now, in the twelfth place from the Apostles, Eleutherus [174-189] holds the office of bishop. In the same order and succession the tradition and the preaching of the truth which is from the Apostles have continued unto us.

Ch.4. But Polycarp, too, was not only instructed by the Apostles, and acquainted with many that had seen Christ, but was also appointed by Apostles in Asia bishop of the church in Smyrna, whom we, too, saw in our early youth (for he lived a long time, and died, when a very old man, a glorious and most illustrious martyr's death); he always taught the things which he had learned from the Apostles, which the Church also hands down, and which alone are true. To these things all the Asiatic churches testify, as do also those who, down to the present time, have succeeded Polycarp, who was a much more trustworthy and certain witness of the truth than Valentinus and Marcion and the rest of the evil-minded. It was he who was also in Rome in the time of Anicetus and caused many to turn away from the above-mentioned heretics to the Church of God, proclaiming that he had received from the Apostles this one and only truth which has been transmitted by the Church. And there are those who heard from him that John, the disciple of the Lord, going to bathe in Ephesus, when he saw Cerinthus within, ran out of the bath-house without bathing, crying: "Let us flee, lest even the bath-house fall, because Cerinthus, the enemy of the truth, is within." And Polycarp himself, when Marcion once met him and said, "Knowest thou us?" replied, "I know the first-born of Satan." Such caution did the Apostles and their disciples exercise that they might not even converse with any of those who perverted the truth; as Paul, also, said: "A man that is a heretic after the first and second admonition, reject; knowing that he that is such subverteth and sinneth, being condemned by himself." There is also a very powerful Epistle of Polycarp written to the Philippians, from which those who wish to, and who are concerned for their own salvation, may learn the character of his faith and the preaching of the truth.

(b) Tertullian, De Proescriptione, 20, 21. (MSL, 2:38.)

Tertullian worked out in legal fashion the argument of Irenaeus from the testimony of the bishops in apostolic churches. He may have obtained the argument from Irenaeus, as he was evidently acquainted with his works. From Tertullian's use of the argument it became a permanent element in the thought of the West.

Ch.20. The Apostles founded in the several cities churches from which the other churches have henceforth borrowed the shoot of faith and seeds of teaching and do daily borrow that they may become churches; and it is from this fact that they also will be counted as apostolic, being the offspring of apostolic churches. Every kind of thing must be judged by reference to its origin. Therefore so many and so great churches are all one, being from that first Church which is from the Apostles. Thus they are all primitive and all apostolic, since they altogether are approved by their unity, and they have the communion of peace, the title of brotherhood, and the interchange of hospitality, and they are governed by no other rule than the single tradition of the same mystery.

Ch.21. Here, then, we enter our demurrer, that if the Lord Jesus Christ sent Apostles to preach, others than those whom Christ appointed ought not to be received as preachers. For no man knoweth the Father save the Son and he to whom the Son has revealed Him [cf. Luke 10:22]; nor does it appear that the Son has revealed Him unto any others than the Apostles, whom He sent forth to preach what, of course, He had revealed to them. Now, what they should preach, that is, what Christ revealed to them, can, as I must likewise here enter as a demurrer, properly be proved in no other way than by those very churches which the Apostles themselves founded by preaching to them, both viva voce, as the phrase is, and subsequently by epistles. If this is so, it is evident that all doctrine which agrees with those apostolic churches, the wombs and origins of the faith, must be reckoned for truth, as undoubtedly containing what the churches received from the Apostles, the Apostles from Christ, Christ from God. There remains, therefore, for us to show whether our doctrine, the rule of which we have given above [v. infra, § 29, c], agrees with the tradition of the Apostles, and likewise whether the others come from deceit. We hold fast to the apostolic churches, because in none is there a different doctrine; this is the witness of the truth.

(c) Tertullian, De Praescriptione, 36. (MSL, 2:58.)

It should be noted that the appeal to apostolic churches is to any and all such, and is accordingly just so much the stronger in the controversy in which it was brought forward. The argument, whenever it occurs, does not turn upon the infallibility of any one see or church as such. That point is not touched. Such a turn to the argument would have weakened the force of the appeal in the dispute with the Gnostics, however powerfully it might be used in other controversies.

Come, now, you who would indulge a better curiosity, if you would apply it to the business of your salvation, run over the apostolic churches, in which the very thrones of the Apostles are still pre-eminent in their places, in which their own authentic writings are read, uttering the voice and representing the face of each of them severally. Achaia is very near you, in which you find Corinth. Since you are not far from Macedonia, you have Philippi; there, too, you have the Thessalonians. Since you are able to cross to Asia, you get Ephesus. Since, moreover, you are close upon Italy, you have Rome, from which there comes even into our own hands the very authority of Apostles themselves. How happy is that church, on which Apostles poured forth all their doctrine along with their blood! Where Peter endures a passion like his Lord's; where Paul wins a crown in a death like John's; where the Apostle John was first plunged, unhurt, into boiling oil, and thence remitted to his island exile! See what she has learned, what taught; what fellowship she has had with even our churches in Africa! One Lord God does she acknowledge, the Creator of the universe, and Christ Jesus born of the Virgin Mary, the Son of God the Creator; and the resurrection of the flesh; the law and the prophets she unites in one volume with the writings of Evangelists and Apostles, from which she drinks in her faith. This she seals with the water of baptism, arrays with the Holy Ghost, feeds with the eucharist, cheers with martyrdom, and against such a discipline thus maintained she admits no gainsayer.

§ 28. The Canon or the Authoritative New Testament Writings

The Gnostics used in support of their doctrines writings which they attributed to the Apostles, thus having a direct apostolic witness to these doctrines. This they did in imitation of the Church's practice of using apostolic writings for edification and instruction. Marcion drew up a list of books which were alone to be regarded as authoritative among his followers [v. supra, § 23, a]. The point to be made by the champions of the faith of the great body of Christians was that only those books could be legitimately used in support of Christian doctrine which could claim actual apostolic origin and had been used continuously in the Church. As a fact, the books to which they appealed had been in use generation after generation, but the Gnostic works were unknown until a comparatively recent time and were too closely connected with only the founders of a sect to deserve credence. It was a simple literary argument and appeal to tangible evidence. The list of books regarded as authoritative constituted the Canon of Scripture. The state of the Canon in the second half of the second century, especially in the West, is shown in the following extracts.

Additional source material: See Preuschen, Analecta, II, Tuebingen, 1910; Tatian, Diatessaron, ANF, IX; The Gospel of Peter, ibid.

(a) The Muratorian Fragment. Text, B. F. Westcott, A General Survey of the History of the Canon of the New Testament, seventh ed., Cambridge, 1896. Appendix C; Kirch, n.134; Preuschen, Analecta, II, 27. Cf. Mirbt, n.20.

The earliest list of canonical books of the New Testament was found by L. A. Muratori in 1740 in a MS. of the eighth century. It lacks beginning and end. It belongs to the middle or the second half of the second century. It cannot with certainty be attributed to any known person. The obscure Latin text is probably a translation from the Greek. The fragment begins with what appears to be an account of St. Mark's Gospel.

{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} but at some he was present, and so he set them down.

The third book of the gospels, that according to Luke. Luke, the physician, compiled it in his own name in order, when, after the ascension of Christ, Paul had taken him to be with him like a student of law. Yet neither did he see the Lord in the flesh; and he, too, as he was able to ascertain events, so set them down. So he began his story from the birth of John.

The fourth of the gospels is John's, one of the disciples. When exhorted by his fellow-disciples and bishops, he said, "Fast with me this day for three days; and what may be revealed to any of us, let us relate to one another." The same night it was revealed to Andrew, one of the Apostles, that John was to write all things in his own name, and they were all to certify.

And therefore, though various elements are taught in the several books of the gospels, yet it makes no difference to the faith of the believers, since by one guiding Spirit all things are declared in all of them concerning the nativity, the passion, the resurrection, the conversation with His disciples, and His two comings, the first in lowliness and contempt, which has come to pass, the second glorious with royal power, which is to come.

What marvel, therefore, if John so firmly sets forth each statement in his epistles, too, saying of himself: "What we have seen with our eyes and heard with our ears and our hands have handled, these things we have written to you"? For so he declares himself to be not an eye-witness and a hearer only, but also a writer of all the marvels of the Lord in order.

The acts, however, of all the Apostles are written in one book. Luke puts it shortly, "to the most excellent Theophilus," that the several things were done in his own presence, as he also plainly shows by leaving out the passion of Peter, and also the departure of Paul from the city [i.e., Rome] on his journey to Spain.

The epistles, however, of Paul make themselves plain to those who wish to understand what epistles were sent by him, and from what place and for what cause. He wrote at some length, first of all, to the Corinthians, forbidding schisms and heresies; next to the Galatians, forbidding circumcision; then to the Romans, impressing on them the plan of the Scriptures, and also that Christ is the first principle of them, concerning which severally it is necessary for us to discuss, since the blessed Apostle Paul himself, following the order of his predecessor John, writes only by name to seven churches in the following order: to the Corinthians a first, to the Ephesians a second, to the Philippians a third, to the Colossians a fourth, to the Galatians a fifth, to the Thessalonians a sixth, to the Romans a seventh; and yet, although for the sake of admonition there is a second to the Corinthians and to the Thessalonians, but one Church is recognized as being spread over the entire world. For John, too, in the Apocalypse, though he writes to seven churches, yet speaks to all. Howbeit to Philemon one, to Titus one, and to Timothy two were put in writing from personal inclination and attachment, to be in honor, however, with the Catholic Church for the ordering of the ecclesiastical mode of life. There is current, also, one to the Laodiceans, another to the Alexandrians, [both] forged in Paul's name to suit a heresy of Marcion, and several others, which cannot be received into the Catholic Church; for it is not fitting that gall be mixed with honey.

The Epistle of Jude, no doubt, and the couple bearing the name of John are accepted in the Catholic [Church], and the Wisdom written by the friends of Solomon in his honor. The Apocalypse, also, of John and of Peter only we receive; which some of us will not have read in the Church. But the Shepherd was written quite lately in our times by Hermas, while his brother Pius, the bishop, was sitting in the chair of the church of the city of Rome; and therefore it ought to be read, indeed, but it cannot to the end of time be publicly read in the Church to the people, either among the prophets, who are complete in number, or among the Apostles.

But of Valentinus, the Arsinoite, and his friends, we receive nothing at all, who have also composed a long new book of Psalms, together with Basilides and the Asiatic founder of the Montanists.

(b) Irenaeus, Adv. Haer., III, II:8. (MSG, 7:885.)

The following extract illustrates the allegorical method of exegesis in use throughout the Church, and also the opinion of the author that there were but four gospels, and could be no more than four. It should be noted that the symbolism of the beasts is not that which has become current in ecclesiastical art.

It is not possible that the gospels be either more or fewer than they are. For since there are four regions of the world in which we live, and four principal winds, and the Church is scattered over the whole earth, and the pillar and ground of the Church is the Gospel and the Spirit of Life, it is fitting that she should have four pillars, breathing forth immortality on every side, and giving life to men. From this it is evident that the Word, the Artificer of all, who sitteth upon the cherubim and who contains all things and was manifested to men, has given us the Gospel under four forms, but bound together by one Spirit. As also David says when he prayed for His coming: "Thou that sittest between the cherubim, shine forth" [cf. Psalm 80:1]. For the cherubim, also, were four-faced, and their faces were images of the dispensation of the Son of God. For he says, "The first living creature was like a lion" [cf. Ezek.1:5 ff.], symbolizing His effectual working, leadership, and royal power; the second was like a calf, symbolizing His sacrificial and sacerdotal order; but "the third had, as it were, the face of a man," evidently describing His coming as a human being; "the fourth was like a flying eagle," pointing out the gift of the Spirit hovering over the Church. And therefore the gospels are in accord with these things, among which Christ is seated. For that according to John relates His original, effectual, and glorious generation from the Father, thus declaring, "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God" [cf. John 1:1 ff.], and further, "All things were made by Him and without Him was nothing made." For this reason, also, is that Gospel full of confidence, for such is His person. But that according to Luke, which takes up His priestly character, commenced with Zacharias, the priest, who offers sacrifice to God. For now was made ready the fatted calf, about to be immolated for the recovery of the younger son [Luke 15:23]. Matthew, again, relates His generation as a man, saying, "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham" [Matt.1:1]; and "The birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise" [Matt.1:18]. This, then, is the gospel of His humanity; for which reason the character of a humble and meek man is kept up through the whole gospel. Mark, on the other hand, commences with reference to the prophetical Spirit who comes down from on high to men, saying, "The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as it is written in Isaiah the prophet," pointing to the winged aspect of the Gospel, and on this account he makes a compendious and brief narrative, for such is the prophetical character. And the Word of God himself had intercourse with the patriarchs, before Moses, in accordance with His divinity and glory; but for those under the Law He instituted a sacerdotal and liturgical service. Afterward, having been made man for us, He sent the gift of the heavenly Spirit over all the earth, to protect it with His wings. Such, then, was the course followed by the Son of God, and such, also, were the forms of the living creatures; and such as was the form of the living creatures, such, also, was the character of the Gospel. For the living creatures are quadriform, and the Gospel is quadriform, as is also the course followed by our Lord. For this reason four principal covenants were given mankind: one prior to the Deluge, under Adam; the second after the Deluge, under Noah; the third was the giving of the law under Moses; the fourth is that which renovates man and sums up all things in itself by means of the Gospel, raising and bearing men upon its wings into the heavenly kingdom.

(c) Tertullian, Adv. Marcion., IV, 5. (MSL, 2:395.)

Tertullian's work against Marcion belongs to the first decade of the third century; see above, § 23, b. In the following passage he combines the argument from the apostolic churches with the authority of the apostolic witness. This is the special importance of the reference to the connection of St. Mark's Gospel with St. Peter, and is an application of the principle that the authority of a book in the Church rested upon its apostolic origin.

If it is evidently true that what is earlier is more true, that what is earlier is what is from the beginning, that what is from the beginning is from the Apostles, it will be equally evidently true that what is handed down from the Apostles is what has been a sacred deposit in the churches of the Apostles. Let us see what milk the Corinthians drank from Paul; to what rule the Galatians were brought for correction; what the Philippians, the Thessalonians, the Ephesians, read; what the Romans near by also say, to whom Peter and Paul bequeathed the Gospel even sealed with their own blood. We have also John's nursling churches. For, although Marcion rejects his Apocalypse, the order of bishops, when traced to their origin, will rest on John as their author. Likewise the noble lineage of the other churches is recognized. I say, therefore, that in them, and not only in the apostolic churches, but in all those which are united with them in the fellowship of the mystery [sacramenti], that Gospel of Luke, which we are defending with all our might [cf. § 23], has stood its ground from its very first publication; whereas Marcion's gospel is not known to most people, and to none whatever is it known without being condemned. Of course it has its churches, but they are its own; they are as late as they are spurious. Should you want to know their origins, you will more easily discover apostasy in it than apostolicity, with Marcion, forsooth, as their founder or some one of Marcion's swarm. Even wasps make combs; so, also, these Marcionites make churches. The same authority of the apostolic churches will afford evidence to other gospels, also, which we possess equally through their means and according to their usage -- I mean the Gospel of John and the Gospel of Matthew, but that which Mark published may be affirmed to be Peter's, whose interpreter Mark was. For even the Digest of Luke men usually ascribe to Paul. And it may well seem that the works which disciples publish belong to their masters.

§ 29. The Apostles' Creed

By the middle of the second century there were current in the Church brief confessions of faith which had already been in use from a time in the remoter past as summaries of the apostolic faith. They were naturally attributed to the Apostles themselves, although they seem to have varied in many details. They were used principally in baptism, and were long kept secret from the catechumen until just before that rite was administered. They are preserved only in paraphrase, and can be reconstructed only by a careful comparison of many texts.

Additional source material: See Hahn, Bibliothek der Symbole und Glaubensregeln der allen Kirche, third ed., Breslau, 1897; cf. Mirbt, n.16, 16 a.

(a) Irenaeus, Adv. Haer., 1, 10. (MSG, 7:549 f.)

For Irenaeus, v. supra, § 3, a.

The Church, though dispersed through the whole world to the ends of the earth, has received from the Apostles and their disciples the faith: In one God, the Father Almighty, who made the heaven and the earth and the seas, and all that in them is; And in one Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who was incarnate for our salvation; And in the Holy Ghost, who through the prophets preached the dispensations and the advents, and the birth from the Virgin, and the passion, and the resurrection from the dead, and the bodily assumption into the heavens of the beloved Christ Jesus our Lord, and His appearing from the heavens in the glory of the Father, in order to sum up all things under one head [cf. Ephes.1:10], and to raise up all flesh of all mankind, that to Christ Jesus, our Lord and God and Saviour and King, every knee of those that are in heaven and on earth and under the earth should bow [cf. Phil.2:11], according to the good pleasure of the Father invisible, and that every tongue should confess Him, and that He may execute righteous judgment on all; sending into eternal fire the spiritual powers of wickedness and the angels who transgressed and apostatized, and the godless and unrighteous and lawless and blasphemous among men, but granting life and immortality and eternal glory to the righteous and holy, who have both kept the commandments and continued in His love, some from the beginning, some from their conversion.

(b) Irenaeus, Adv. Haer., III, 4. (MSG, 7:855.)

The following form of the creed more closely resembles the traditional Apostles' Creed. With it compare the paraphrase in Irenaeus. op. cit., IV, 33:7.

If the Apostles had not left us the Scriptures, would it not be necessary to follow the order of tradition which they handed down to those to whom they committed the churches? To this order many nations of the barbarians gave assent, of those who believe in Christ, having salvation written in their hearts by the Spirit without paper and ink, and guarding diligently the ancient tradition: Believing in one God, Maker of heaven and earth, and all that is in them; through Jesus Christ, the Son of God; who, because of His astounding love toward His creatures, sustained the birth of the Virgin, Himself uniting man to God, and suffered under Pontius Pilate, and rising again was received in brightness, and shall come again in glory as the Saviour of those who are saved and the judge of those who are judged, and sending into eternal fire the perverters of the truth and despisers of His Father and His coming.

(c) Tertullian, De Virginibus Velandis, 1. (MSL, 2:937).

Tertullian gives various paraphrases of the creed. The three most important are the following and d, e. The date of the work De Virginibus Velandis is about 211, and belongs to his Montanist period.

The Rule of Faith is altogether one, sole, immovable, and irreformable -- namely, of believing in one God the Almighty, the Maker of the world; and His Son, Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin Mary, crucified under Pontius Pilate, on the third day raised again from the dead, received in the heavens, sitting now at the right hand of the Father, coming to judge the quick and the dead, also through the resurrection of the flesh.(53)

(d) Tertullian, Adv. Praxean, 2. (MSL, 2:156.)

The work of Tertullian against Praxeas is one of his latest works, and is especially important as developing the doctrine of the Trinity as opposed to the Patripassianism of Praxeas. To this theory of Praxeas, Tertullian refers in the opening sentence of the following extract, quoting the position of Praxeas. See below, § 40, b.

"Therefore after a time the Father was born, and the Father suffered, He himself God, the omnipotent Lord, Jesus Christ was preached." But as for us always, and now more, as better instructed by the Paraclete, the Leader into all truth: We believe one God; but under this dispensation which we call the economy there is the Son of the only God, his Word [Sermo] who proceeded from Him, through whom all things were made, and without whom nothing was made. This One was sent by the Father into the Virgin, and was born of her, Man and God, the Son of Man and the Son of God, and called Jesus Christ; He suffered, He died and was buried, according to the Scriptures; and raised again by the Father, and taken up into the heavens, and He sits at the right hand of the Father; He shall come again to judge the quick and the dead: and He thence did send, according to His promise, from the Father, the Holy Ghost, the Paraclete, the Sanctifier of the faith of those who believe in the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost. That this rule has come down from the beginning, even before any of the earlier heresies, much more before Praxeas, who is of yesterday, the lateness of date of all heresies proves, as also the novelties of Praxeas, a pretender of yesterday.

(e) Tertullian, De Praescriptione, 13. (MSL, 2:30.)

The Rule of Faith is {HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} namely, that by which it is believed: That there is only one God, and no other besides the Maker of the world, who produced the universe out of nothing, through His Word [Verbum], sent forth first of all; that this Word, called His Son, was seen in the name of God in various ways by the patriarchs, and always heard in the prophets, at last was sent down from the Spirit and power of God the Father, into the Virgin Mary, was made flesh in her womb, and born of her, lived as Jesus Christ; that thereupon He preached the new law and the new promise of the kingdom of the heavens; wrought miracles; was fastened to the cross; rose again the third day; was caught up into the heavens; and sat down at the right hand of the Father; He sent in His place the power of the Holy Ghost, to lead the believers; He will come again with glory to take the saints into the enjoyment of eternal life and the celestial promises, and to judge the wicked with perpetual fire, with the restoration of the flesh.

§ 30. Later Gnosticism

Though Gnosticism was expelled from the Church as it perfected its organization and institutions on the basis of the episcopate, the Canon of Scripture, and the creeds, outside the Catholic Church, or the Church as thus organized, Gnosticism existed for centuries, though rapidly declining in the third century. The strength of the movement was still further diminished by loss of many adherents to Manichaeanism (v. § 54), which had much in common with Gnosticism. The persistence of these sects, together with various later heresies, in spite of the very stringent laws of the Empire against them (v. § 73) should prevent any hasty conclusions as to the unity of the faith and the absence of sects in the patristic age. Unity can be found only by overlooking those outside the unity of the largest body of Christians, and agreement by ignoring those who differed from it.

Theodoret of Cyrus, Epistulae 81, 145. (MSG, 83:1259, 1383.)

Ep.81 was written to the Consul Nonus, A. D.445. Ep.145 was written to the monks of Constantinople, A. D.450.

Ep.81. To every one else every city lies open, and that not only to the followers of Arius and Eunomius, but to Manichaeans and Marcionites, and to those suffering from the disease of Valentinus and Montanus, yes, and even to pagans and Jews; but I, the foremost champion of the teaching of the Gospel, am excluded from every city.{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} I led eight villages of Marcionites with their surrounding country into the way of truth, another full of Eunomians and another of Arians I brought to the light of divine knowledge, and, by God's grace, not a tare of heresy was left among us.

Ep.145. I do indeed sorrow and lament that I am compelled by the attacks of fever to adduce against men, supposed to be of one and the same faith with myself, the arguments which I have already urged against the victims of the plague of Marcion, of whom, by God's grace, I have converted more than ten thousand and brought them to holy baptism.

§ 31. The Results of the Crisis

The internal crisis, or the conflict with heresy, led the Church to perfect its organization, and, as a result, the foundation was laid for such a development of the episcopate that the Church was recognized as based upon an order of bishops receiving their powers in succession from the Apostles. Just what those powers were and how they were transmitted were matters left to a later age to determine. (V. infra, §§ 50, 51.)

(a) Irenaeus, Adv. Haer., IV, 26:2, 5. (MSG, 7:1053.)

That Irenaeus, writing about 175, could appeal to the episcopal succession as commonly recognized and admitted, and use it as a basis of unity for the Church, is generally regarded as evidence of the existence of a wide-spread episcopal organization at an early date in the second century. Possibly the connection of Irenaeus with Asia Minor, where the episcopal organization admittedly was earliest, diminishes the force of the argument. The reference to the "charisma of truth," which the bishops were said to possess, was to furnish later a theoretical basis for the authority of bishops assembled in council.

Ch.2. Wherefore it is incumbent to obey the presbyters who are in the Church, those who, as I have shown, possess the succession from the Apostles; those who together with the succession of the episcopate have received the certain gift [charisma] of the truth according to the good pleasure of the Father; but also to hold in suspicion others who depart from the primitive succession and assemble themselves together in any place whatsoever.{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS}

Ch.5. Such presbyters does the Church nourish, of whom also the prophet says: "I will give thy rulers in peace, and thy bishops in righteousness" [cf. Is.60:17]. Of whom also the Lord did declare: "Who, then, shall be a faithful steward, good and wise, whom the Lord sets over His household, to give them their meat in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his Lord when he cometh shall find so doing" [Matt.24:45 f.]. Paul, then, teaching us where one may find such, says: "God hath placed in the Church, first, Apostles; secondly, prophets; thirdly, teachers" [I Cor.12:28]. Where, then, the gifts of the Lord have been placed there we are to learn the truth; namely, from those who possess the succession of the Church from the Apostles, and among whom exists that which is sound and blameless in conduct, as well as that which is unadulterated and incorrupt in speech.

(b) Tertullian, De Praescriptione, 32. (MSL, 2:52.)

In Tertullian's statement as to the necessity of apostolic succession, the language is more precise than in Irenaeus's. Bishop and presbyter are not used as interchangeable terms, as would appear in the passage in Irenaeus. The whole is given a more legal turn, as was in harmony with the writer's legal mind.

But if there be any heresies bold enough to plant themselves in the midst of the apostolic age, that they may thereby seem to have been handed down from the Apostles, because they were in the time of the Apostles, we can say: Let them produce the originals of their churches; let them unfold the roll of their bishops, running down in due succession from the beginning in such manner that that first bishop of theirs shall be able to show for his ordainer or predecessor some one of the Apostles or of apostolic men -- a man, moreover, who continued steadfast with the Apostles. For in this manner the apostolic churches transmit their registers; as the church of Smyrna, which records that Polycarp was placed therein by John; as also the church of Rome, which makes Clement to have been ordained in like manner by Peter. In exactly the same way the other churches likewise exhibit their several worthies, whom, as having been appointed to their episcopal places by the Apostles, they regard as transmitters of the apostolic seed.

Chapter IV. The Beginnings Of Catholic Theology

The theology of the Church, as distinguished from the current traditional theology, was the statement of the beliefs commonly held by Christians but expressed in the more precise and scientific language of current philosophy, the co-ordination of those beliefs as so stated together with their necessary consequences, and their proof by reference to Holy Scripture and reason. In this attempt to build up a body of reasoned religious ideas there were two lines of thought or interpretation of the common Christianity already distinguished by the middle of the second century, and destined to hold a permanent place in the Church. These were the apologetic conception of Christianity as primarily a revealed philosophy (§ 32), and the so-called Asia Minor school of theology, with its conception of Christianity as primarily salvation from sin and corruptibility (§ 33). In both lines of interpretation the Incarnation played an essential part: in the apologetic as insuring the truth of the revealed philosophy, in the Asia Minor theology as imparting to corruptible man the divine incorruptibility.

§ 32. The Apologetic Conception of Christianity

Christianity was regarded as a revealed philosophy by the apologists. This they considered under three principal aspects: knowledge, or a revelation of the divine nature; a new law, or a code of morals given by Christ; and life, or future rewards for the observance of the new law that had been given. The foundation of all was laid in the doctrine of the Logos (A), which involved, as a consequence, some theory of the relation of the resulting distinctions in the divine nature to the primary conviction of the unity of God, or some doctrine of the Trinity (B). As a result of the new law given, moralism was inevitable, whereby a man by his efforts earned everlasting life (C). The proof that Jesus was the incarnate Logos was drawn from the fulfilment of Hebrew prophecy (D). It should be remembered that the apologists influenced later theology by their actual writings, and not by unexpressed and undeveloped opinions which they held as a part of the common tradition and the Christianity of the Gentile Church. Whatever they might have held in addition to their primary contentions had little or no effect, however valuable it may be for modern students, and the conviction that Christianity was essentially a revealed philosophy became current, especially in the East, finding its most powerful expression in the Alexandrian school. (V. infra, § 43.)

(A) The Logos Doctrine

As stated by the apologists, the Logos doctrine not only furnished a valuable line of defence for Christianity (v. supra, § 20), but also gave theologians a useful formula for stating the relation of the divine element in Christ to God. That divine element was the Divine Word or Reason (Logos). It is characteristic of the doctrine of the Logos as held by the early apologists that, although they make the Word, or Logos, personal and distinguish Him from God the Father, yet that Word does not become personally distinguished from the source of His being until, and in connection with, the creation of the world. Hence there arose the distinction between the Logos endiathetos, or as yet within the being of the Father, and the Logos prophorikos, or as proceeding forth and becoming a distinct person. Here is, at any rate, a marked advance upon the speculation of Philo, by whom the Logos is not regarded as distinctly personal.

(a) Justin Martyr, Apol., I, 46. (MSG, 6:398.)

In addition to the following passage from Justin Martyr, see above, § 20, for a longer statement to much the same effect.

We have been taught that Christ is the first-born of God, and we have declared above that He is the Word of whom every race of men were partakers; and those who lived reasonably are Christians even though they have been thought atheists; as among the Greeks, Socrates and Heraclitus, and men like them; and among the barbarians, Abraham and Ananias, Azarias, and Missael [the "three holy children," companions of Daniel, see LXX, Dan.3:23 ff.], and Elias [i.e., Elijah], and many others whose actions and names we now decline to recount because we know that it would be tedious.

(b) Theophilus, Ad Autolycum, II, 10, 22. (MSG, 6:398.)

Theophilus was the sixth bishop of Antioch, from 169 until after 180. His apology, consisting of three books addressed to an otherwise unknown Autolycus, has alone been preserved of his works. Fragments attributed to him are of very doubtful authenticity. The date of the third book must be subsequent to the death of Marcus Aurelius, March 17, 180, which is mentioned. The first and second books may be somewhat earlier. The distinction made in the following between the Logos endiathetos and the Logos prophorikos was subsequently dropped by theologians.

Ch.10. God, then, having His own Logos internal [endiatheton] within His own bowels, begat Him, emitting Him along with His own wisdom before all things.

Ch.22. What else is this voice but the Word of God, who is also His Son? Not as the poets and writers of myths talk of the sons of the gods begotten from intercourse with women, but as the Truth expounds, the Word that always exists, residing within [endiatheton] the heart of God. For before anything came into existence He had Him for His counsellor, being His own mind and thought. But when God wished to make all that He had determined on, He begat this Word proceeding forth [prophorikon], the first-born of all creation, not being Himself emptied of the Word [i.e., being without reason], but having begotten Reason and always conversing with His reason.

(B) The Doctrine of the Trinity

The doctrine of the Trinity followed naturally from the doctrine of the Logos. The fuller discussion belongs to the Monarchian controversies. It is considered here as a position resulting from the general position taken by the apologists. (V. infra, § 40.)

(a) Theophilus, Ad Autolycum, II, 15. (MSG, 6:1078.)

The following passage is probably the earliest in which the word Trinity, or Trias, is applied to the relation of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. It is usual in Greek theology to use the word Trias as equivalent to the Latin term Trinity. Cf. Tertullian, Adv. Praxean, 2, for first use of the term Trinity in Latin theology.

In like manner, also, the three days, which were before the luminaries(54) are types of the Trinity (Trias) of God, and His Word, and His Wisdom.

(b) Athenagoras, Supplicatio, 10, 12. (MSG, 6:910, 914.)

Athenagoras, one of the ablest of the apologists, was, like Justin Martyr and several others, a philosopher before he became a Christian. His apology, known as Supplicatio, or Legatio pro Christianis, is his most important work. Its date is probably 177, as it is addressed to the Emperors Marcus Aurelius and Commodus.

Ch.10. If it occurs to you to inquire what is meant by the Son, I will briefly state that He is the first product of the Father, not as having been brought into existence (for from the beginning God, who is the eternal mind [Nous], had the Logos in Himself, being eternally reasonable [{GREEK SMALL LETTER LAMDA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER OMICRON}{GREEK SMALL LETTER GAMMA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER IOTA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER KAPPA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER OMICRON WITH OXIA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER FINAL SIGMA}]), but inasmuch as He came forth to be idea and energizing power of all material things, which lay like a nature without attributes, and an inactive earth, the grosser particles being mixed up with the lighter. The prophetic Spirit also agrees with our statements: "The Lord, it says, created me the beginning of His ways to His works." The Holy Spirit himself, also, which operates in the prophets we say is an effluence of God, flowing from Him and returning back again as a beam of the sun.

Ch.12. Are, then, those who consider life to be this, "Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die" [cf. I Cor.15:32], and who regard death as a deep sleep and forgetfulness [cf. Hom., Iliad, XVI.672], to be regarded as living piously? But men who reckon the present life as of very small worth indeed, and are led by this one thing along -- that they know God and with Him His Logos, what is the oneness of the Son with the Father, what the communion of the Father with the Son, what is the Spirit, and what is the unity of these and their distinction, the Spirit, the Son, and the Father -- and who know that the life for which we look is far better than can be described in word, provided we arrive at it pure from all wrong-doing, and who, moreover, carry our benevolence to such an extent that we not only love our friends {HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} shall we, I say, when such we are and when we thus live that we may escape condemnation, not be regarded as living piously?

(C) Moralistic Christianity

The moralistic conception of Christianity, i.e., the view of Christianity as primarily a moral code by the observance of which eternal life was won, remained fixed in Christian thought along with the philosophical conception of the faith as formulated by the apologists. This moralism was the opposite pole to the conceptions of the Asia Minor school, the Augustinian theology, and the whole mystical conception of Christianity.

For additional source material, see above, § 16.

Theophilus, Ad Autolycum, II, 27. (MSG, 6:27.)

God made man free and with power over himself. That [death], man brought upon himself through carelessness and disobedience, this [life], God vouchsafes to him as a gift through His own love for man and pity when men obey Him. For as man, disobeying, drew death upon himself, so, obeying the will of God, he who desires is able to procure for himself everlasting life. For God has given us a law and holy commandments; and every one who keeps these can be saved, and obtaining the resurrection, can inherit incorruption.

(D) Argument from Hebrew Prophecy

The appeal to the fulfilment of Hebrew prophecy was the main argument of the apologists for the divine character of the mission of Christ. The exegesis of the prophetic writings was in the spirit of the times. Hebrew prophecy was also regarded as the source of all knowledge of God outside of Israel. The theory that the Greeks and other nations borrowed was employed to show the connection; in this the apologists followed Philo Judaeus. No attempt was made either by them or by Clement of Alexandria to remove the inconsistency of this theory of borrowing with the doctrine of the Logos; see above, under "Logos Doctrine;" also § 20.

Justin Martyr, Apol., I, 30, 44. (MSG, 6:374, 394.)

Additional source material: Justin Martyr, Dial. c. Tryph., passim.

Ch.30. But lest any one should say in opposition to us: What should prevent that He whom we call Christ, being a man born of men, performed what we call His mighty works by magical art, and by this appeared to be the Son of God? We will offer proof, not trusting to mere assertions, but being of necessity persuaded by those who prophesied of Him before these things came to pass.

Ch.44. Whatever both philosophers and poets have said concerning the immortality of the soul, or punishments after death, or contemplation of things heavenly, or doctrines of the like kind, they have received such suggestions from the prophets as have enabled them to understand and interpret these things. And hence there seem to be seeds of truth among all men.

§ 33. The Asia Minor Conception of Christianity

The Asia Minor school regarded Christianity primarily as redemption, salvation, the imparting of new power, life, and incorruptibility by union with divinity in the Incarnation. Its leading representative was Irenaeus, a native of Asia Minor, but many of his leading ideas had been anticipated by Ignatius of Antioch, and they were shared by many others.

The theology of Irenaeus influenced Tertullian to some extent, but its essential points were reproduced by Athanasius, who was directly indebted to Irenaeus, and through him it superseded in the Neo-Alexandrian school the tradition derived through Origen and Clement from the apologists. Characteristic features of the Asia Minor theology are the place assigned to the Incarnation as itself effecting redemption or salvation, the idea of recapitulation whereby Christ becomes the head of a new race of redeemed men, a second Adam, and of the eucharist as imparting the incorruptibility of Christ's immortal flesh which is received by the faithful.

(a) Irenaeus, Adv. Haer., V, 1. (MSG, 7:1119.)

The position of the Incarnation in the system and its relation to redemption.

In no other way could we have learned the things of God, if our Master, existing previously as the Word, had not been made man. For no one else could have declared to us the truths of the Father than the Father's own Word. For who else knew the mind of the Lord or who else has been his counsellor? [Rom.11:34]. Nor again in any other way could we have learned except by seeing our Master with our eyes and hearing His voice with our ears; that so as imitators of His acts and doers of His words we might have fellowship with Him and receive of the fulness of Him who is perfect and who was before all creation. All this we have been made in these latter days by Him who only is supremely good and who has the gift of incorruptibility; inasmuch as we are conformed to His likeness and predestinated to become what we never were before, according to the foreknowledge of the Father, made a first-fruit of His workmanship, we have, therefore, received all this at the foreordained season, according to the dispensation of the Word, who is perfect in all things. For He, who is the mighty Word and very man, redeeming us by His blood in a reasonable manner, gave Himself as a ransom for those who had been led into captivity. And since apostasy tyrannized over us unjustly, for though by nature we were God's possession, it yet alienated us contrary to nature, making us its own disciples, the Word of God, powerful in all things and constant in His justice, dealt justly even with apostasy itself, redeeming from it what was His own property. Not by force, the way in which the apostasy had originally gained its mastery over us, greedily grasping at that which was not its own; but by moral force [secundum suadelam] as became God, by persuasion and not by force, regaining what He wished; so that justice might not be violated and God's ancient handiwork might not perish. Therefore, since by His own blood the Lord redeemed us and gave His soul for our soul, and His flesh for our flesh, and shed on us His Father's spirit to unite and join us in communion God and man, bringing God down to men by the descent of the Spirit, and raising up man to God by His incarnation, and by a firm and true promise giving us at His advent incorruptibility by communion with Him, and thus all the errors of the heretics are destroyed.

(b) Irenaeus. Adv. Haer., III.18:1, 7. (MSG, 6:932, 937.)

The following is a statement by Irenaeus of his doctrine of recapitulation, which combines the idea of the second Adam of Paul and the Johannine theology.

Ch.1. Since it has been clearly demonstrated that the Word, who existed in the beginning with God, and by whom all things were made, who also was present with the human race, was in these last days, according to the time appointed by the Father, united to His own workmanship, having been made a man liable to suffering, every objection is set aside of those who say: "If Christ was born at that time, He did not exist before that time." For I have shown that the Son of God did not then begin to be, since He existed with His Father always; but when He was incarnate, and was made man, He commenced afresh [in seipso recapitulavit] the long line of human beings, and furnished us in a brief and comprehensive manner with salvation; so that what we had lost in Adam -- namely, to be according to the image and likeness of God -- that we might recover in Christ Jesus.

Ch.7. He caused human nature to cleave to and to become one with God, as we have said. For if man had not overcome the adversary of man, the enemy would not have been legitimately overcome. And again, if God had not given salvation, we could not have had it securely. And if man had not been united to God, he could never have become a partaker of incorruptibility. For it was incumbent upon the Mediator between God and man, by His relationship to both, to bring about a friendship and concord, and to present man to God and to reveal God to man. For in what way could we be partakers of the adoption of sons, if we had not received from Him, through the Son, that fellowship which refers to Himself, if the Word, having been made flesh, had not entered into communion with us? Wherefore He passed also through every stage of life restoring to all communion with God.

(c) Irenaeus, Adv. Haer., IV, 18:5. (MSG, 6:1027 f.)

The conception of redemption as the imparting of incorruptibility connected itself easily with the doctrine of the eucharist, which had been called by Ignatius of Antioch "the medicine of immortality" (v. supra, § 12). With this passage compare Irenaeus, Adv. Haer., IV, 17:5.

How can they say that the flesh which is nourished with the body of the Lord and with His blood goes to corruption and does not partake of life? Let them, therefore, either alter their opinion or cease from offering the things mentioned. But our opinion is in accordance with the eucharist, and the eucharist, in turn, establishes our opinion. For we offer to Him His own, announcing consistently the fellowship and union of the flesh and the Spirit. For as the bread which is produced from the earth when it receives the invocation of God is no longer common bread, but the eucharist, consisting of two realities, earthly and heavenly, so, also, our bodies, when they receive the eucharist, are no longer corruptible, having the hope of the resurrection unto eternity.

period ii the post-apostolic age
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