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p. 132 Book III.

Chapter I.—The Parts of the World in which the Apostles preached Christ.

1. Such was the condition of the Jews. Meanwhile the holy apostles and disciples of our Saviour were dispersed throughout the world. 563 Parthia, 564 according to tradition, was allotted to Thomas as his field of labor, Scythia 565 to Andrew, 566 and Asia 567 to John, 568 who, after he had lived some time there, 569 died at Ephesus.

2. Peter appears to have preached 570 in Pontus, Galatia, Bithynia, Cappadocia, and Asia 571 to the Jews of the dispersion. And at last, having come to Rome, he was crucified head-downwards; 572 for he had requested that he might suffer in this way. What do we need to say concerning Paul, who preached the Gospel of Christ from Jerusalem to Illyricum, 573 and afterwards suffered martyrdom in Rome under p. 133 Nero? 574 These facts are related by Origen in the third volume of his Commentary on Genesis. 575



According to Lipsius, the legends concerning the labors of the apostles in various countries were all originally connected with that of their separation at Jerusalem, which is as old as the second century. But this separation was put at various dates by different traditions, varying from immediately after the Ascension to twenty-four years later. A lost book, referred to by the Decretum Gelasii as Liber qui appellatus sortes Apostolorum apocryphus, very likely contained the original tradition, and an account of the fate of the apostles, and was probably of Gnostic or Manichean origin. The efforts to derive from the varying traditions any trustworthy particulars as to the apostles themselves is almost wholly vain. The various traditions not only assign different fields of labor to the different apostles, but also give different lists of the apostles themselves. See Lipsius’ article on the Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles in Smith and Wace’s Dict. of Christ. Biog. I. p. 17 sqq. The extant Apocryphal Gospels, Acts, Apocalypses, &c., are translated in the Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. VIII. p. 361 sqq. Lipsius states that, according to the oldest form of the tradition, the apostles were divided into three groups: first, Peter and Andrew, Matthew and Bartholomew, who were said to have preached in the region of the Black Sea; second, Thomas, Thaddeus, and Simeon, the Canaanite, in Parthia; third, John and Philip, in Asia Minor.


Parthia, in the time of the apostles, was an independent kingdom, extending from the Indus to the Tigris, and from the Caspian Sea to the Persian Gulf. This is the oldest form of the tradition in regard to Thomas (see preceding note). It is found also in the Clementine Recognitions, IX. 29, and in Socrates, H. E. I. 19. Rufinus (H. E. II. 5) and Socrates (H. E. IV. 18) speak of Edessa as his burial place. Later traditions extended his labors eastward as far as India, and made him suffer martyrdom in that land; and there his remains were exhibited down to the sixteenth century. According to the Martyrium Romanum, however, his remains were brought from India to Edessa, and from thence to Ortona, in Italy, during the Crusades. The Syrian Christians in India called themselves Thomas-Christians; but the name cannot be traced beyond the eighth century, and is derived, probably, from a Nestorian missionary.


The name Scythia was commonly used by the ancients, in a very loose sense, to denote all the region lying north of the Caspian and Black Seas. But two Scythias were distinguished in more accurate usage: a European Scythia, lying north of the Black Sea, between the Danube and the Tanais, and an Asiatic Scythia, extending eastward from the Ural. The former is here meant.


The traditions respecting Andrew are very uncertain and contradictory, though, as remarked above (note 1), the original form, represented here, assigned as his field the region in the neighborhood of the Black Sea. His traditional activity in Scythia has made him the patron saint of Russia. He is also called the patron saint of Greece, where he is reported to have been crucified; but his activity there rests upon a late tradition. His body is said to have been carried to Constantinople in 357 (cf. Philostorgius, Hist. Eccles. III. 2), and during the Crusades transferred to Amalpæ in Italy, in whose cathedral the remains are still shown. Andrew is in addition the patron saint of Scotland; but the tradition of his activity there dates back only to the eighth century (cf. Skene’s Celtic Scotland, II. 221 sq.). Numerous other regions are claimed, by various traditions, to have been the scene of his labors.


Proconsular Asia included only a narrow strip of Asia Minor, lying upon the coast of the Mediterranean and comprising Mysia, Lydia, and Caria.


The universal testimony of antiquity assigns John’s later life to Ephesus: e.g. Irenæus, Adv. Hær. III. 1. 1 and 3. 4, etc.; Clement of Alex., Quis Dives Salvetur, c. 42 (quoted by Eusebius, chap. 23, below); Polycrates in his Epistle to Victor (quoted by Eusebius in chap. 31, below, and in Bk. V. chap. 24); and many others. The testimony of Irenæus is especially weighty, for the series: Irenæus, the pupil of Polycarp, the pupil of John, forms a complete chain such as we have in no other case. Such testimony, when its force is broken by no adverse tradition, ought to be sufficient to establish John’s residence in Ephesus beyond the shadow of a doubt, but it has been denied by many of the critics who reject the Johannine authorship of the fourth Gospel (e.g. Keim, Holtzmann, the author of Supernat. Religion, and others), though the denial is much less positive now than it was a few years ago. The chief arguments urged against the residence of John in Ephesus are two, both a silentio: first, Clement in his first Epistle to the Corinthians speaks of the apostles in such a way as to seem to imply that they were all dead; secondly, in the Ignatian Epistles, Paul is mentioned, but not John, which is certainly very remarkable, as one is addressed to Ephesus itself. In reply it may be said that such an interpretation of Clement’s words is not necessary, and that the omission of John in the epistles of Ignatius becomes perfectly natural if the Epistles are thrown into the time of Hadrian or into the latter part of Trajan’s reign, as they ought to be (cf. chap. 36, note 4). In the face of the strong testimony for John’s Ephesian residence these two objections must be overruled. The traditional view is defended by all conservative critics as well as by the majority even of those who deny the Johannine authorship of the fourth Gospel (cf. especially Hilgenfeld in his Einleitung, and Weizsäcker in his Apostaliches Zeitalter). The silence of Paul’s epistles and of the Acts proves that John cannot have gone to Ephesus until after Paul had permanently left there, and this we should naturally expect to be the case. Upon the time of John’s banishment to Patmos, see Bk. III. chap. 18, note 1. Tradition reports that he lived until the reign of Trajan (98–117). Cf. Irenæus, II. 22. 5 and III. 3. 4.


Origen in this extract seems to be uncertain how long John remained in Ephesus and when he died.


The language of Origen (κεκηρυχέναι žοικεν, instead of λόγος žχει or παρ€δοσις περιέχει) seems to imply that he is recording not a tradition, but a conclusion drawn from the first Epistle of Peter, which was known to him, and in which these places are mentioned. Such a tradition did, however, exist quite early. Cf. e.g. the Syriac Doctrina Apostolorum (ed. Cureton) and the Gnostic Acts of Peter and Andrew. The former assigns to Peter, Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia, in addition to Galatia and Pontus, and cannot therefore, rest solely upon the first Epistle of Peter, which does not mention the first three places. All the places assigned to Peter are portions of the field of Paul, who in all the traditions of this class is completely crowded out and his field given to other apostles, showing the Jewish origin of the traditions. Upon Peter’s activity in Rome and his death there, see Bk. II. chap. 25, note 7.


Five provinces of Asia Minor, mentioned in 1 Pet. i. 1.


Origen is the first to record that Peter was crucified with his head downward, but the tradition afterward became quite common. It is of course not impossible, but the absence of any reference to it by earlier Fathers (even by Tertullian, who mentions the crucifixion), and its decidedly legendary character, render it exceedingly doubtful.


Cf. Rom. xv. 19. Illyricum was a Roman province lying along the eastern coast of the Adriatic.


See above, Bk. II. chap. 25, note 5.


This fragment of Origen has been preserved by no one else. It is impossible to tell where the quotation begins—whether with the words “Thomas according to tradition received Parthia,” as I have given it, or with the words “Peter appears to have preached,” etc., as Bright gives it.

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