Chapter III.—The Epistles of the Apostles.
1. One epistle of Peter, that called the first, is acknowledged as genuine. 578 And this the ancient elders 579 used freely in their own writings as an undisputed work. 580 But we have learned that his extant second Epistle does not belong to the canon; 581 yet, as it has appeared profitable to many, it has been used with the other Scriptures. 582
2. The so-called Acts of Peter, 583 however, and the Gospel 584 which bears his name, and the Preaching 585 and the p. 134 Apocalypse, 586 as they are called, we know have not been universally accepted, 587 because no ecclesiastical writer, ancient or modern, has made use of testimonies drawn from them. 588
3. But in the course of my history I shall be careful to show, in addition to the official succession, what ecclesiastical writers have from time to time made use of any of the disputed works, 589 and what they have said in regard to the canonical and accepted writings, 590 as well as in regard to those which are not of this class.
4. Such are the writings that bear the name of Peter, only one of which I know to be genuine 591 and acknowledged by the ancient elders. 592
5. Pauls fourteen epistles are well known and undisputed. 593 It is not indeed right to overlook the fact that some have rejected the Epistle to the Hebrews, 594 saying that it is disp. 135 puted 595 by the church of Rome, on the ground that it was not written by Paul. But what has been said concerning this epistle by those who lived before our time I shall quote in the proper place. 596 In regard to the so-called Acts of Paul, 597 I have not found them among the undisputed writings. 598
6. But as the same apostle, in the salutations at the end of the Epistle to the Romans, 599 has made mention among others of Hermas, to whom the book called The Shepherd 600 is ascribed, it should be observed that this too has been disputed by some, and on their account cannot be placed among the acknowledged books; while by others it is considered quite indispensable, especially to those who need instruction in the elements of the faith. Hence, as we know, it has been publicly read in churches, and I have found that some of the most ancient writers used it.
7. This will serve to show the divine writings that are undisputed as well as those that are not universally acknowledged.
The testimony of tradition is unanimous for the authenticity of the first Epistle of Peter. It was known to Clement of Rome, Polycarp, Papias, Hermas, &c. (the Muratorian Fragment, however, omits it), and was cited under the name of Peter by Irenæus, Tertullian, and Clement of Alexandria, from whose time its canonicity and Petrine authorship were established, so that Eusebius rightly puts it among the homologoumena. Semler, in 1784, was the first to deny its direct Petrine authorship, and Cludius, in 1808, pronounced it absolutely ungenuine. The Tübingen School followed, and at the present time the genuineness is denied by all the negative critics, chiefly on account of the strong Pauline character of the epistle (cf. Holtzmann, Einleitung, p. 487 sqq., also Weiss, Einleitung, p. 428 sqq., who confines the resemblances to the Epistles to the Romans and to the Ephesians, and denies the general Pauline character of the epistle). The great majority of scholars, however, maintain the Petrine authorship. A new opinion, expressed by Harnack, upon the assumption of the distinctively Pauline character of the epistle, is that it was written during the apostolic age by some follower of Paul, and that the name of Peter was afterward attached to it, so that it represents no fraud on the part of the writer, but an effort of a later age to find an author for the anonymous epistle. In support of this is urged the fact that though the epistle is so frequently quoted in the second century, it is never connected with Peters name until the time of Irenæus. (Cf. Harnacks Lehre der Zwölf Apostel, p. 106, note, and his Dogmengeschichte, I. p. 278, note 2.) This theory has found few supporters.133:579
οἱ π€λαι πρεσβύτεροι. On the use of the term “elders” among the Fathers, see below, chap. 39, note 6.133:580
οὐκ ἐνδι€θηκον μὲν εἶναι παρειλήφαμεν. The authorship of the second Epistle of Peter has always been widely disputed. The external testimony for it is very weak, as no knowledge of it can be proved to have existed before the third century. Numerous explanations have been offered by apologists to account for this curious fact; but it still remains almost inexplicable, if the epistle be accepted as the work of the apostle. The first clear references to it are made by Firmilian, Bishop of Cæsarea in Cappadocia (third century), in his Epistle to Cyprian, §6 (Ep. 74, in the collection of Cyprians Epistles, Ante-Nicene Fathers, Am. ed., V. p. 391), and by Origen (quoted by Eusebius, VI. 25, below), who mentions the second Epistle as disputed. Clement of Alexandria, however, seems at least to have known and used it (according to Euseb. VI. 14). The epistle was not admitted into the Canon until the Council of Hippo, in 393, when all doubts and discussion ceased until the Reformation. It is at present disputed by all negative critics, and even by many otherwise conservative scholars. Those who defend its genuineness date it shortly before the death of Peter, while the majority of those who reject it throw it into the second century,—some as late as the time of Clement of Alexandria (e.g. Harnack, in his Lehre der Zwölf Apostel, p. 15 and 159, who assigns its composition to Egypt). Cf. Holtzmann, Einleitung, p. 495 sqq., and Weiss (who leaves its genuineness an open question), Einleitung, p. 436 sqq. For a defense of the genuineness, see especially Warfield, in the Southern Pres. Rev., 1883, p. 390 sqq., and Salmons Introduction to the N. T., p. 512 sqq.133:582
Although disputed by many, as already remarked, and consequently not looked upon as certainly canonical until the end of the fourth century, the epistle was yet used, as Eusebius says, quite widely from the time of Origen on, e.g. by Origen, Firmilian, Cyprian, Hippolytus, Methodius, etc. The same is true, however, of other writings, which the Church afterward placed among the Apocrypha.133:583
These πρ€ξεις (or περίοδοι, as they are often called) Πέτρου were of heretical origin, according to Lipsius, and belonged, like the heretical Acta Pauli (referred to in note 20, below), to the collection of περίοδοι τῶν ἀποστόλων, which were ascribed to Lucius Charinus, and, like them, formed also, from the end of the fourth century, a part of the Manichean Canon of the New Testament. The work, as a whole, is no longer extant, but a part of it is preserved, according to Lipsius, in a late Catholic redaction, under the title Passio Petri. Upon these Acts of Peter, their original form, and their relation to other works of the same class, see Lipsius, Apocryphen Apostelgeschichten, II. I, p. 78 sq. Like the heretical Acta Pauli already referred to, this work, too, was used in the composition of the Catholic Acts of Paul and Peter, which are still extant, and which assumed their present form in the fifth century, according to Lipsius. These Catholic Acts of Peter and Paul have been published by Thilo (Acta Petri et Pauli, Halle, 1837), and by Tischendorf, in his Acta Apost. Apocr., p. 1–39. English translation in the Ante-Nicene Fathers (Am. ed.), VIII. p. 477.133:584
This Gospel is mentioned by Serapion as in use in the church of Rhossus (quoted by Eusebius, Bk. VI. chap. 12, below), but was rejected by him because of the heretical doctrines which it contained. It is mentioned again by Eusebius, III. 25, only to be rejected as heretical; also by Origen (in Matt. Vol. X. 17) and by Jerome (de vir. ill. 1), who follows Eusebius in pronouncing it an heretical work employed by no early teachers of the Christian Church. Lipsius regards it as probably a Gnostic recast of one of the Canonical Gospels. From Serapions account of this Gospel (see below, Bk. VI. chap. 12), we see that it differs from the Canonical Gospels, not in denying their truth, or in giving a contradictory account of Christs life, but rather in adding to the account given by them. This, of course, favors Lipsius hypothesis; and in any case he is certainly quite right in denying that the Gospel was an original work made use of by Justin Martyr, and that it in any way lay at the base of our present Gospel of Mark. The Gospel (as we learn from the same chapter) was used by the Docetæ, but that does not imply that it contained what we call Docetic ideas of Christs body (cf. note 8 on that chapter). The Gospel is no longer extant. See Lipsius, in Smith and Waces Dict. of Christ. Biog. II. p. 712.133:585
This Preaching of Peter (Κήρυγμα Πέτρου, Prædicatio Petri), which is no longer extant, probably formed a part of a lost Preaching of Peter and Paul (cf. Clement of Alexandria, Strom. VI. 5, and Lactantius, Inst. IV. 21). It was mentioned frequently by the early Fathers, and a number of fragments of it have been preserved by Clement of Alexandria, who quotes it frequently as a genuine record of Peters teaching. (The fragments are collected by Grabe in his Spic. Patr. I. 55–71, and by Hilgenfeld in his N. T. extra Can. rec., 2d ed., IV. p. 51 sqq.). It is mentioned twice by Origen (in Johan. XIII. 17, and De Princ. Præf. 8), and in the latter place is expressly classed among spurious works. It was probably, according to Lipsius, closely connected with the Acts of Peter and Paul mentioned in note 6, above. Lipsius, however, regards those Acts as a Catholic adaptation of a work originally Ebionitic, though he says expressly that the Preaching is not at all of that character, but is a Petro-Pauline production, and is to be distinguished from the Ebionitic κηρύγματα. It would seem therefore that he must put the Preaching later than the original of the Acts, into a time when the Ebionitic character of the latter had been done away with. Salmon meanwhile holds that the Preaching is as old as the middle of the second century and the most ancient of the works recording Peters preaching, and hence (if this view be accepted) the Ebionitic character which Lipsius ascribes to the Acts did not (if it existed at all) belong to the original form of the record of Peters preaching embodied in the Acts and in the Preaching. The latter (if it included also the Preaching of Paul, as seems almost certain) appears to have contained an account of some of the events of the life of Christ, and it may have been used by Justin. Compare the remarks of Lipsius in the Dict. of Christ. Biog. I. p. 28 (Cath. Adaptations of Ebionitic Acts), and Salmons article on the Preaching of Peter, ibid. IV. 329.134:586
The Apocalypse of Peter enjoyed considerable favor in the early Church and was accepted by some Fathers as a genuine work of the apostle. It is mentioned in the Muratorian Fragment in connection with the Apocalypse of John, as a part of the Roman Canon, and is accepted by the author of the fragment himself; although he says that some at that time rejected it. Clement of Alexandria, in his Hypotyposes (according to Eusebius, IV. 14, below), commented upon it, thus showing that it belonged at that time to the Alexandrian Canon. In the third century it was still received in the North African Church (so Harnack, who refers to the stichometry of the Codex Claramontanus). The Eclogæ or Prophetical Selections of Clement of Alexandria give it as a genuine work of Peter (§§41, 48, 49, p. 1000 sq., Potters ed.), and so Methodius of Tyre (Sympos. XI. 6, p. 16, ed. Jahn, according to Lipsius). After Eusebius time the work seems to have been universally regarded as spurious, and thus, as its canonicity depended upon its apostolic origin (see chap. 24, note 19), it gradually fell out of the Canon. It nevertheless held its place for centuries among the semi-scriptural books, and was read in many churches. According to Sozomen, H. E. VII. 19, it was read at Easter, which shows that it was treated with especial respect. Nicephorus in his Stichometry puts it among the Antilegomena, in immediate connection with the Apocalypse of John. As Lipsius remarks, its “lay-recognition in orthodox circles proves that it could not have had a Gnostic origin, nor otherwise have contained what was offensive to Catholic Christians” (see Lipsius, Dict. of Christ. Biog. I. p. 130 sqq.). Only a few fragments of the work are extant, and these are given by Hilgenfeld, in his Nov. Test. extra Can. receptum, IV. 74 sq., and by Grabe, Spic. Patr. I. 71 sqq.134:587
οὐδ᾽ ὅλως ἐν καθολικαῖς ἴσμεν παραδεδομένα134:588
Eusebius exaggerates in this statement. The Apocalypse of Peter was in quite general use in the second century, as we learn from the Muratorian Fragment; and Clement (as Eusebius himself says in VI. 14) wrote a commentary upon it in connection with the other Antilegomena.134:589
περὶ τῶν ἐνδιαθήκων καὶ ὁμολογουμένων134:591
ὧν μόνην μίαν γνησίαν žγνων.134:592
As above; see note 2.134:593
The thirteen Pauline Epistles of our present Canon, and the Epistle to the Hebrews. These formed for Eusebius an absolutely undisputed part of the Canon (cf. chap. 25, below, where he speaks of them with the same complete assurance), and were universally accepted until the present century. The external testimony for all of them is ample, going back (the Pastoral Epistles excepted) to the early part of the second century. The Epistles to the Romans, Corinthians, and Galatians have never been disputed (except by an individual here and there, especially during the last few years in Holland), even the Tübingen School accepting them as genuine works of Paul. The other epistles have not fared so well. The genuineness of Ephesians was first questioned by Usteri in 1824 and De Wette in 1826, and the Tübingen School rejected it. Scholars are at present greatly divided; the majority of negative critics reject it, while many liberal and all conservative scholars defend it. Colossians was first attacked by Mayerhoff in 1838, followed by the whole Tübingen School. It fares to-day somewhat better than Ephesians. It is still, however, rejected by many extreme critics, while others leave the matter in suspense (e.g. Weizsäcker in his Apostolisches Zeitalter). Since 1872, when the theory was proposed by Holtzmann, some scholars have held that our present Epistle contains a genuine Epistle of Paul to the Colossians, of which it is a later revision and expansion. Baur and the Tübingen School were the first to attack Philippians as a whole, and it too is still rejected by many critics, but at the same time it is more widely accepted than either Ephesians or Colossians (e.g. Weizsäcker and even Hilgenfeld defend its genuineness). Second Thessalonians was first attacked by Schmidt in 1801, followed by a number of scholars, until Baur extended the attack to the first Epistle also. Second Thessalonians is still almost unanimously rejected by negative critics, and even by some moderates, while First Thessalonians has regained the support of many of the former (e.g. Hilgenfeld, Weizsäcker, and even Holtzmann), and is entirely rejected by comparatively few critics. Philemon—which was first attacked by Baur—is quite generally accepted, but the Pastoral Epistles are almost as generally rejected, except by the regular conservative school (upon the Pastorals, see Bk. II. chap. 22, note 8, above). For a concise account of the state of criticism upon each epistle, see Holtzmanns Einleitung. For a defense of them all, see the Einleitung of Weiss.134:594
τινες ἠθετήκασι. That the Epistle to the Hebrews was not written by Paul is now commonly acknowledged, and may be regarded as absolutely certain. It does not itself lay any claim to Pauline authorship; its theology and style are both non-Pauline; and finally, external testimony is strongly against its direct connection with Paul. The first persons to assign the epistle to Paul are Pantænus and Clement of Alexandria (see below, Bk. VI. chap. 14), and they evidently find it necessary to defend its Pauline authorship in the face of the objections of others. Clement, indeed, assumes a Hebrew original, which was translated into Greek by Luke. Origen (see below, Bk. VI. chap. 25) leaves its authorship undecided, but thinks it probable that the thoughts are Pauls, but the diction that of some one else, who has recorded what he heard from the apostle. He then remarks that one tradition assigned it to Clement of Rome, another to Luke. Eusebius himself, in agreement with the Alexandrians (who, with the exception of Origen, unanimously accept the Pauline authorship), looks upon it as a work of Paul, but accepts Clement of Alexandrias theory that it was written in Hebrew, and thinks it probable that Clement of Rome was its translator (see chap. 38, below). In the Western Church, where the epistle was known very early (e.g. Clement of Rome uses it freely), it is not connected with Paul until the fourth century. Indeed, Tertullian (de pudicit. 20) states that it bore the name of Barnabas, and evidently had never heard that it had been ascribed to any one else. The influence of the Alexandrians, however, finally prevailed, and from the fifth century on we find it universally accepted, both East and West, as an epistle of Paul, and not until the Reformation was its origin again questioned. Since that time its authorship has been commonly regarded as an insoluble mystery. Numerous guesses have been made (e.g. Luther guessed Apollos, and he has been followed by many), but it is impossible to prove that any of them are correct. For Barnabas, however, more can be said than for any of the others. Tertullian expressly connects the epistle with him; and its contents are just what we should expect from the pen of a Levite who had been for a time under Pauls influence, and yet had not received his Christianity from him; its standpoint, in fact, is Levitic, and decidedly non-Pauline, and yet reveals in many places the influence of Pauline ideas. Still further, it is noticeable that in the place where the Epistle to the Hebrews is first ascribed to Paul, there first appears an epistle which is ascribed (quite wrongly; see below, chap. 25, note 20) to Barnabas. May it not be (as has been suggested by Weiss and others) that the anonymous Epistle to the Hebrews was originally accepted in Alexandria as the work of Barnabas, but that later it was ascribed to Paul; and that the tradition that Barnabas had written an epistle, which must still have remained in the Church, led to the ascription of another anonymous epistle to him? We seem thus most easily to explain the false ascription of the one epistle to Paul, and the false ascription of the other to Barnabas. It may be said that the claims of both Barnabas and Apollos have many supporters, while still more attempt no decision. In regard to the canonicity of the epistle there seems never to have been any serious dispute, and it is this fact doubtless which did most to foster the belief in its Pauline authorship from the third century on. For the criterion of canonicity more and more came to be looked upon as apostolicity, direct or indirect. The early Church had cared little for such a criterion. In only one place does Eusebius seem to imply that doubts existed as to its canonicity,—in Bk. VI. chap. 13, where he classes it with the Book of Wisdom, and the Epistles of Barnabas, Clement, and Jude, among the antilegomena. But in view of his treatment of it elsewhere it must be concluded that he is thinking in that passage not at all of its canonicity, but of its Pauline authorship, which he knows is disputed by some, and in reference to which he uses the same word, ἀντιλέγεσθαι, in the present sentence. Upon the canonicity of the epistle, see still further chap. 25, note 1. For a discussion of the epistle, see especially the N. T. Introductions of Weiss and Holtzmann.135:595
See Bk. VI. chaps. 14, 20, 25.135:597
These πρ€ξεις are mentioned also in chap. 25, below, where they are classed among the νόθοι, implying that they had been originally accepted as canonical, but were not at the time Eusebius wrote widely accepted as such. This implies that they were not, like the works which he mentions later in the chapter, of an heretical character. They were already known to Origen, who (De Prin. I. 2, 3) refers to them in such a way as to show that they were in good repute in the Catholic Church. They are to be distinguished from the Gnostic περίοδοι or πρ€ξεις Παύλου, which from the end of the fourth century formed a part of the Manichean canon of the New Testament, and of which some fragments are still extant under various forms. The failure to keep these Catholic and heretical Acta Pauli always distinct has caused considerable confusion. Both of these Acts, the Catholic and the heretical, formed, according to Lipsius (Apokr. Apostelgeschichten, II. 1, p. 305 sq.) one of the sources of the Catholic Acts of Peter and Paul, which in their extant form belong to the fifth century. For a discussion of these Catholic Acts of Paul referred to by Eusebius, see Lipsius, ibid., p. 70 sq.135:598
οὐδὲ μὴν τὰς λεγομένας αὐτοῦ πρ€ξεις ἐν ἀναμφιλέκτοις παρείληφα135:599
See Rom. xvi. 14. The greater part of this last chapter of Romans is considered by many a separate epistle addressed to Ephesus. This has been quite a common opinion since 1829, when it was first broached by David Schulz (Studien und Kritiken, p. 629 sq.), and is accepted even by many conservative scholars (e.g. Weiss), while on the other hand it is opposed by many of the opposite school. While Aquila and Priscilla, of Rom. 16.3, and Epænetus, of Rom. 16.5, seem to point to Ephesus, and the fact that so many personal friends are greeted, leads us to look naturally to the East as Pauls field of labor, where he had formed so many acquaintances, rather than to Rome, where he had not been; yet on the other hand such names as Junias, Narcissus, Rufus, Hermas, Nereus, Aristobulus, and Herodion point strongly to Rome. We must, however, be content to leave the matter undecided, but may be confident that the evidence for the Ephesian hypothesis is certainly, in the face of the Roman names mentioned, and of universal tradition (for which as for Eusebius the epistle is a unit), not strong enough to establish it.135:600
The Shepherd of Hermas was in circulation in the latter half of the second century, and is quoted by Irenæus (Adv. Hær. IV. 20. 2) as Scripture, although he omits it in his discussion of Scripture testimonies in Bk. III. chap. 9 sqq., which shows that he considered it not quite on a level with regular Scripture. Clement of Alexandria and Origen often quote it as an inspired book, though the latter expressly distinguishes it from the canonical books, admitting that it is disputed by many (cf. De Prin. IV. 11). Eusebius in chap. 25 places it among the νόθοι or spurious writings in connection with the Acts of Paul and the Apocalypse of Peter. According to the Muratorian Fragment it was “written very recently in our times in the city of Rome by Hermas, while his brother, Bishop Pius, sat in the chair of the Church of Rome. And therefore it also ought to be read; but it cannot be made public in the Church to the people, nor placed among the prophets, as their number is complete, nor among the apostles to the end of time.” This shows the very high esteem in which the work was held in that age. It was very widely employed in private and in public, both in the East and the West, until about the fourth century, when it gradually passed out of use. Jerome (de vir. ill. 10) says that it was almost unknown among the Latins of his time. As to the date and authorship of the Shepherd opinions vary widely. The only direct testimony of antiquity is that of the Muratorian Fragment, which says that it was written by Hermas, the brother of Pius, during the episcopacy of the latter (139–154 a.d.). This testimony is accepted by the majority of scholars, most of whom date the book near the middle of the second century, or at least as late as the reign of Hadrian. This opinion received not long ago what was supposed to be a strong confirmation from the discovery of the fact that Hermas in all probability quoted from Theodotions version of Daniel (see Horts article in the Johns Hopkins University Circular, December, 1884), which has been commonly ascribed to the second century. But it must now be admitted that no one knows the terminus a quo for the composition of Theodotians version, and therefore the discovery leaves the date of Hermas entirely undetermined (see Schürer, Gesch. des jüdischen Volkes, II. p. 709). Meanwhile Eusebius in this connection records the tradition, which he had read, that the book was written by the Hermas mentioned in Romans xvi. This tradition, however, appears to be no older than Origen, with whom it is no more than a mere guess. While in our absence of any knowledge as to this Hermas we cannot absolutely disprove his claim (unless we prove decisively the late date of the book), there is yet no ground for accepting it other than a mere coincidence in a very common name. In Vis. II. 4. 3 Hermas is told to give one copy of his book to Clement. From this it is concluded by many that the author must have been contemporary with the well-known Roman Clement, the author of the Epistle to the Corinthians. While this appears very likely, it cannot be called certain in the face of evidence for a considerably later date. Internal testimony helps us little, as there is nothing in the book which may not have been written at the very beginning of the second century, or, on the other hand, as late as the middle of it. Zahn dates it between 97 and 100, and assigns it to an unknown Hermas, a contemporary of the Roman Clement, in which he is followed by Salmon in a very clear and keen article in the Dict. of Christ. Biog. Critics are unanimously agreed that the book was written in Rome. It consists of three parts, Visions, Mandates, and Similitudes, and is of the nature of an apocalypse, written for the purpose of reforming the life of the Church, which seemed to the author to have become very corrupt. The work (especially the last part) is in the form of an allegory, and has been compared to the Pilgrims Progress. Opinions are divided as to whether it is actually founded upon visions and dreams of the author, or is wholly a fiction. The former opinion seems to be the more probable.
Until recent years only a Latin translation of Hermas was known. In 1856 the first Greek edition was issued by Anger and Dindorf, being based upon a Mt. Athos ms. discovered shortly before by Simonides. Of the ten leaves of the ms. the last was lost; three were sold by Simonides to the University of Leipsic, and the other six were transcribed by him in a very faulty manner. The Sinaitic Codex has enabled us to control the text of Simonides in part, but unfortunately it contains only the Visions and a small part of the Mandates. All recent editions have been obliged to take the faulty transcription of Simonides as their foundation. In 1880 the six leaves of the Athos Codex, which had been supposed to be lost, and which were known only through Simonides transcription, were discovered by Lambros at Mt. Athos, and in 1888 A Collation of the Athos Codex of the Shepherd of Hermas by Dr. Spyr Lambros was issued in English translation by J. A. Robinson, at Cambridge, England. We thus have now a reliable Greek text of nine-tenths of the Shepherd of Hermas. Hilgenfeld, in his last edition (1887) of his Novum Test. Extra Can. Rec., published also a Greek text of the lost part of the work, basing it upon a pretended transcription by Simonides from the lost Athos ms. But this has been conclusively shown to be a mere fraud on the part of Simonides, and we are therefore still without any ms. authority for the Greek text of the close of the work. Cf. Robinsons introduction to the Collation of Lambros mentioned above, and Harnacks articles in the Theol. Literaturzeitung (1887). The most useful edition of the original is that of Gebhardt and Harnack, Patrum Apost. Opera, Fasc. III. (Lips. 1877). The work is translated in the Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II. The literature upon the subject is very extensive, but the reader should examine especially the Prolegomena of Harnack in his edition. Cf. Zahns Hirt des Hermas (1868), and the article by Salmon in the Dict. of Christ. Biog. II. p. 912 sqq. Cf. also chap. 24, note 20, in regard to the reasons for the non-canonicity of the Shepherd.