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Chapter XI.—The Heresiarchs of that Age.

1. “For Valentinus came to Rome under Hyginus, flourished under Pius, and remained until Anicetus. 1065 Cerdon 1066 also, Marp. 183 cion’s 1067 predecessor, entered the Church in the time of Hyginus, the ninth 1068 bishop, and made confession, and continued in this way, now teaching in secret, now making confession again, and now denounced for corrupt doctrine and withdrawing 1069 from the assembly of the brethren.”

2. These words are found in the third book of the work Against Heresies. And again in the first book he speaks as follows concerning Cerdon: 1070 “A certain Cerdon, who had taken his system from the followers of Simon, and had come to Rome under Hyginus, the ninth in the episcopal succession from the apostles, 1071 taught that the God proclaimed by the law and prophets was not the father of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the former was known, but the latter unknown; and the former was just, but the latter good. 1072 Marcion of Pontus succeeded Cerdon and developed his doctrine, uttering shameless blasphemies.”

3. The same Irenæus unfolds with the greatest vigor the unfathomable abyss of Valentinus’ errors in regard to matter, and reveals his wickedness, secret and hidden like a serpent lurking in its nest.

4. And in addition to these men he says that there was also another that lived in that age, Marcus by name, 1073 who was remarkably skilled in magic arts. And he describes also their unholy initiations and their abominable mysteries in the following words: 1074

5. “For some of them prepare a nuptial couch and perform a mystic rite with certain forms of expression addressed to those who are being initiated, and they say that it is a spiritual marriage which is celebrated by them, after the likeness of the marriages above. But others lead them to water, and while they baptize them they repeat the following words: Into the name of the unknown father of the universe, into truth, the mother of all things, into the one that descended upon Jesus. 1075 Others repeat Hebrew names 1076 in order the better to confound those who are being initiated.”

6. But Hyginus 1077 having died at the close of the fourth year of his episcopate, Pius 1078 p. 184 succeeded him in the government of the church of Rome. In Alexandria Marcus 1079 was appointed pastor, after Eumenes 1080 had filled the office thirteen years in all. And Marcus having died after holding office ten years was succeeded by Celadion 1081 in the government of the church of Alexandria.

7. And in Rome Pius died in the fifteenth year of his episcopate, and Anicetus 1082 assumed the leadership of the Christians there. Hegesippus records that he himself was in Rome at this time, and that he remained there until the episcopate of Eleutherus. 1083

8. But Justin 1084 was especially prominent in those days. In the guise of a philosopher 1085 he preached the divine word, and contended for the faith in his writings. He wrote also a work against Marcion, 1086 in which he states that the latter was alive at the time he wrote.

9. He speaks as follows: 1087 “And there is a certain Marcion 1088 of Pontus, 1089 who is even now p. 185 still teaching his followers to think that there is some other God greater than the creator. And by the aid of the demons 1090 he has persuaded many of every race of men 1091 to utter blasphemy, and to deny that the maker of this universe is the father of Christ, and to confess that some other, greater than he, was the creator. 1092 And all who followed them are, as we have said, 1093 called Christians, just as the name of philosophy is given to philosophers, although they may have no doctrines in common.”

10. To this he adds: 1094 “And we have also written a work against all the heresies that have existed, 1095 which we will give you if you wish to read it.”

11. But this same Justin contended most successfully against the Greeks, and addressed discourses containing an apology for our faith to the Emperor Antoninus, called Pius, and to the Roman senate. 1096 For he lived at Rome. But who and whence he was he shows in his Apology in the following words. 1097



Valentinus is the best known of the Gnostics. According to Epiphanius (Hær. XXXI. 2) he was born on the coast of Egypt, and studied Greek literature and science at Alexandria. The same writer, on the authority of the lost Syntagma of Hippolytus, informs us that he taught in Cyprus, and this must have been before he went to Rome. The direct statement of Irenæus as to the date of his activity there is confirmed by Tertullian, and perhaps by Clement of Alexandria, and is not to be doubted. Since Hyginus held office in all probability from 137–141, and Anicetus from 154 or 155 to 166 or 167, Valentinus must have been in Rome at least thirteen years. His chronological position between Basilides and Marcion (as given by Clement of Alexandria, Strom. VII. 17) makes it probable that he came to Rome early in Antoninus’ reign and remained there during all or the most of that reign, but not longer. Valentinus’ followers divided into two schools, an Oriental and an Italian, and constituted by far the most numerous and influential Gnostic sect. His system is the most profound and artistic of the Gnostic systems, and reveals great depth and power of mind. For an excellent account of Valentinus and Valentinianism, see Lipsius’ article in the Dict. of Christ. Biog. Vol. IV. Valentinus occupies a prominent place in all works on Gnosticism.


Cerdon is best known as the teacher of Marcion. Epiphanius (Hær. XLI.) and Philaster (Hær. XLIV.) call him a native of Syria. Epiphanius speaks of a sect of Cerdonians, but there seems never to have been such a sect, and his disciples probably early became followers of Marcion, who joined Cerdon soon after reaching Rome. It is not possible to distinguish his teachings from those of his pupil, Marcion. Hippolytus (X. 15) treats Cerdon and Marcion together, making no attempt to distinguish their doctrines. Irenæus, in the passage quoted, and the lost Syntagma of Hippolytus (represented by Pseudo-Tertullian’s Adv. Hær. and by Epiphanius) distinguish the two, treating Cerdon separately but very briefly. The doctrines of Cerdon, however, given by them, are identical with or at least very similar to the known views of Marcion. If they were really Cerdon’s positions before Marcion came to him, then his influence over Marcion was most decided.


On Marcion, see below, note 24.


The Latin text of Irenæus here reads “eighth” instead of “ninth.” See below, note 7.


ἐφιστ€μενος. This is commonly taken to mean that Cerdon was excommunicated. But as Valesius remarks, the participle is strictly middle, not passive. The distinction, however, cannot be insisted upon in the present case, and therefore we cannot determine decisively whether Cerdon was excluded by the congregation or excluded himself.


Irenæus, Adv. Hær. I. 27. 1–2.


Hyginus is here called the ninth bishop, and the reading is confirmed by a passage in Cyprian’s epistle to Pompey (Ep. LXXIII. 2 in the Ante-Nicene Fathers), and also by Epiphanius (Hær. LXI. 1). In the passage quoted just above, however, from the third book of Irenæus, although Eusebius calls Hyginus the “ninth,” the Latin text of Irenæus makes him the “eighth,” and according to Salmon in the Dict of Christ. Biog.: “The ms. evidence is decisive that Irenæus here [in the passage quoted above from III. 4. 3] describes Hyginus as the eighth bishop, and this agrees with the list of Roman bishops given in the preceding chapter (Adv. Hær. III. 3. 3), and with the description of Anicetus as the tenth bishop a couple of chapters further on. Lipsius hence infers that Irenæus drew his account of Cerdon from two sources in which Hyginus was differently described, but this inference is very precarious. In the interval between the composition of the first and third books, Irenæus may have been led to alter his way of counting by investigations concerning the succession of the Roman bishops, which he had in the meantime either made himself, or adopted from Hegesippus. As for the numeration ‘ninth,’ we do not venture to pronounce whether it indicates a list in which Peter was counted first bishop, or one in which Cletus and Anacletus were reckoned as distinct.” According to Eusebius’ own reckoning up to the present chapter, Hyginus was the eighth, not the ninth, from the apostles, for in chap. 5, above, he calls Telesphorus (Hyginus’ predecessor) the seventh, in chap. 1, Alexander (the predecessor of Xystus, who preceded Telesphorus) the fifth, and so on. Why, in the passage quoted at the beginning of this chapter, he should change his reckoning, and call Hyginus the ninth if the original list of Irenæus from which he drew said eighth is difficult to see. It is possible that he made the change under the influence of the “ninth,” in the present passage, which certainly stood in the original text. It would be easier to think this if the order in which the passages are quoted were reversed, but it may be that Eusebius had the present quotation in mind when making the first, or that he went back afterward and corrected that to correspond. If he ventured to change the text of Irenæus in that passage, he must have done it in all good faith, assuming a mistake in transcription, where the contradiction was so glaring. It still remains to me inexplicable, however, why he did not change the “ninth” of the second passage to “eighth” instead of the “eighth” of the first passage to “ninth.” He would thus have gotten rid of all contradictions, and have remained consistent with himself. I am tempted, in fact, to believe that Eusebius found “ninth” in the original of both passages quoted, and copied just what he found. At the same time, I do not feel disposed in the face of what Lipsius and Salmon say as to the original text of Irenæus to claim that Irenæus himself wrote “ninth” at that point.


Marcion drew this same distinction between the strictly just God of the Old Testament and the good or merciful God of the New, and the distinction was a fundamental one in his system. It is noticeable that Pseudo-Tertullian (Adv. Omnes Hær. chap 6) says that Cerdon taught two Gods, one good, the other cruel (sævum); the good being the superior God,—the latter, the cruel one, being the creator of the world.


Irenæus gives an account of Marcus and the Marcosians in I. 13–21. He was a Gnostic of the sect of Valentinus. Jerome calls him a Basilidian (Ep. LXXV. 3), but he was mistaken. Hippolytus and Epiphanius (Hær. 34) copy their accounts from Irenæus, and probably had no direct knowledge of the works of Marcus, or of his sect. Clement of Alexandria, however, knew and used his writings. It is probable that Asia Minor was the scene of his labors. He is spoken of in the present tense by Irenæus, and hence seems to have been alive when he wrote; that is, in the latter part of the second century. His additions to Valentinianism lay chiefly, perhaps solely, in the introduction of worthless magic rites. He seems to have lowered greatly the tone of the philosophical Gnosticism of Valentinus. See Salmon’s article in the Dict. of Christ. Biog.


Irenæus, Adv. Hær. I. 21. 3.


εἰς τὸν κατελθόντα εἰς τὸν ᾽Ιησοῦν. Taking the Greek simply as it stands, we should naturally put a comma before the second εἰς, and translate “into the one that descended, into Jesus,” identifying the “one that descended” with Jesus. But the Gnostics in general taught that Jesus was only a man, upon whom descended one of the æons, or higher spiritual powers, and hence it is plain that in the present case the “one that descended upon [or literally “into”] Jesus” is referred to here as the third person of the baptismal Trinity.


The Greek and Latin texts of Irenæus add at this point widely variant lists of these words, but in both lists the words are quite meaningless.


On Hyginus, see the previous chapter, note 3.


Eusebius states, just below, that Pius held office fifteen years, and in his Chronicle he gives the same figure. In that work (Armen. version) he places his accession in the first year of Antoninus Pius, though the version of Jerome assigns it to the fifth year, and with this Eusebius agrees in his History, for in the previous chapter he puts the accession of Hyginus in the first year of Antoninus Pius, and here tells us that Hyginus held office four years. Lipsius assigns Pius’ episcopate to the years 139–154, as the earliest possible termini; the years 141–156 as the latest. But since we learn from chapter 14, below, that Polycarp was in Rome during the episcopate of Anicetus, and from other sources (see chapter 15, note 2) that he was martyred in Asia Minor in 155 or 156, we may assume it as certain that Pius cannot have held office as late as 156. The earlier date for his death (154) may therefore be accepted as more probable. The Liberian and Felician Catalogues put Anicetus between Hyginus and Pius; but that is certainly incorrect, for, in support of the order given here by Eusebius, we have the testimony both of Hegesippus, quoted below, in chap. 22, and of Irenæus (III. 3). Pius is commonly regarded as the first monarchical bishop in the strict sense, the so-called bishops before his time having been simply leading presbyters or presbyter bishops of the Roman church (see chap. 11, note 14). According to the Muratorian Fragment and the Liberian Catalogue, Pius was the brother of Hermas, the author of the Shepherd. Upon this alleged relationship, see Bk. III. chap. 3, note 23.


Of Marcus we know only what Eusebius tells us here: that he succeded Eumenes, after the latter had held office thirteen years, and that he continued in office ten years. If Eumenes became bishop in 132 or 133 (see above, chap. 5, note 16), then Marcus must have succeeded him in 145 or 146, and this agrees with the Armenian Chron. of Eusebius, which, while it does not mention the accession of Marcus, yet puts the accession of his successor Celadin in the eighteenth year of Antoninus Pius, which would make the beginning of his own episcopate the eighth year of the same ruler. Jerome’s version of the Chron., however, puts it in the sixth year. Little reliance is to be placed upon any of the dates of the Alexandrian bishops during the first two centuries.


On Eumenes, see above, chap. 5, note 14.


Of Celadion we know only what Eusebius tells us here, and in chap. 19, where he gives fourteen years as the duration of his episcopate. As mentioned in the previous note, the Armenian Chron. of Eusebius puts his accession in the eighteenth year of Antoninus Pius, i.e. 155 or 156, while the version of Jerome puts it in the sixteenth year.


Anicetus, according to the Armenian Chron. of Eusebius, succeeded Pius in the fifteenth year of Antoninus Pius; according to Jerome’s version, in the eighteenth year (i.e. 155 or 156), which is more nearly correct. Lipsius puts his accession between 154 and 156 (see note 14, above). According to chap. 19, below, with which both versions of the Chron. agree, Anicetus held office eleven years; i.e. until 165 to 167, when he was succeeded by Soter. Irenæus (as quoted by Eusebius in Bk. V. chap. 24) informs us that Polycarp was in Rome in the time of Anicetus, and endeavored to induce him to adopt the Quartodeciman practice of celebrating Easter; but that, while the two remained perfectly friendly to one another, Anicetus would not change the custom of the Roman church (see the notes on the chapter referred to). As stated in note 13, the Liberian and Felician Catalogues incorrectly insert the name of Anicetus between those of Hyginus and Pius.


Eusebius evidently makes a mistake here. That Hegesippus remained so long in Rome (Anicetus ruled from 154–168 (?), and Eleutherus from 177–190) is upon the face of it very improbable. And in this case we can see clearly how Eusebius made his mistake. In chap. 22 he quotes a passage from Hegesippus in regard to his stay in Rome, and it was in all probability this passage from which Eusebius drew his conclusion. But Hegesippus says there that he “remained in Rome until the time of Anicetus,” &c. It is probable, therefore, that he returned to the East during Anicetus’ episcopacy. He does not express himself as one who had remained in Rome until the reign of Eleutherus; but Eusebius, from a hasty reading, might easily have gathered that idea. According to Hegesippus’ account in chap. 22, he must, then, have come to Rome before Anicetus, i.e. during the reign of Pius, and this Eusebius does not here contradict, though he is said to do so by Reading, who translates the Greek words, ἐπιδημῆσαι τῇ ῾Ρώμῃ, “came to the city” (so, also, Closs, Stigloher, and Crusè). But the words properly mean “to be in Rome,” not “to come to Rome,” which would require, rather, ἐπιδημῆσαι εἰς τὴν ῾Ρώμην, as in §2, above, where the words are used of Cerdon. Jerome, to be sure (de vir. ill. 22), says that Hegesippus came to Rome in the time of Anicetus; but his account rests solely upon Eusebius, whom he mistranslated. The tradition, therefore, that Hegesippus came to Rome in the time of Anicetus has no foundation; he was already there, as he himself informs us, in chap. 22, below. Cf. the note on this passage, in chap. 22.


Eusebius here puts Justin in his proper place, in the time of Antoninus Pius. The date of his birth is unknown, though it cannot have been far from the beginning of the second century. He was born in Flavia Neapolis, a Roman town built close by the ruins of the ancient Sychem, in Samaria. He was of heathen parentage, and received a thoroughly Greek education. He became an earnest student of philosophy, and after turning to many different systems in his search for truth, he was at last converted to Christianity, where he found that for which he had been searching; and his whole conception of Christianity shows the influence of the manner in which he accepted it. The date of his conversion is unknown, but it seems (from Dial. I. 1) to have taken place at least before the close of the Barcochba war (135 a.d.). He died as a martyr at Rome. The date of his death is difficult to determine, but it probably took place under Marcus Aurelius, in 163+. Upon his death, see below, chap. 16, note 4. Upon Justin, see Semich’s Justin der Märtyrer, Otto’s edition of the Greek Apologists, von Engelhardt’s article in Herzog, 2d ed., Holland’s article in Smith and Wace’s Dict. of Christ. Biog., and finally Schaff’s Ch. Hist. II. p.110 sq., where the most important literature is mentioned. Upon his theology, see especially von Engelhardt’s masterly monograph, Das Christenthum Justins des Märtyrers (Erlangen, 1878). A recent and interesting discussion of Justin’s testimony to early Christianity is found in Purves’ work on that subject (New York, 1889).


ἐν σχήματι φιλοσόφου. The reference here is to the distinctive cloak or mantle of the Greek philosophers, which was called the pallium, and to which Justin refers in his Dial. c. Trypho, §1. The wearing of the mantle was an advantage to the philosophers, inasmuch as it gave them peculiar opportunities to engage in philosophic discourse in the street or market, or other public places, which they could not otherwise so easily have enjoyed. Perhaps it was this fact which led Justin to continue wearing the cloak, and we see from the introduction to his Dialogue that it was the wearing of it which was the immediate occasion of his conversation with Trypho and his friends. Heraclas, the friend of Origen, also continued to wear the philosopher’s cloak after his conversion, as we learn from Bk. VI. chap. 19.


This work against Marcion is also mentioned by Irenæus, who quotes from it in his Adv. Hær. IV. 16. 2 (see below, chap. 18), and by Photius, Cod. 125. The work is lost, and we have only the single brief fragment preserved by Irenæus. It is possible that it formed a part of the larger Syntagma contra omnes Hæreses, mentioned by Justin in his Apol. I. 26 (see below), and it has been urged in support of this possibility that Irenæus nowhere mentions a work of Justin’s Against all Heresies, although it is highly probable that he made use of such a work (see Lipsius’ Quellen der ältesten Ketzergesch. and Harnack’s Zur Quellenkritik des Gnosticismus). It would seem that Irenæus is referring to this work when he mentions the Syntagma contra Marcionem. On the other hand, Photius mentions the work against Marcion and the one against all heresies as two separate works. He does not seem, however, to have had a personal knowledge of them, and is possibly only repeating Eusebius (Harnack says he is certainly doing so, Ueberlieferung d. griech. Apol. p. 150; but in view of the fact that he omits two works mentioned by Eusebius, this seems to be somewhat doubtful); and if this is so, no reliance is to be placed upon his report, for it is evident that Eusebius himself knew neither of the two works, and hence the fact that he distinguishes them has no significance. Although, therefore, it cannot be determined whether Justin wrote two separate works against heretics, it is quite probable that he did not.

The conduct of Eusebius in this connection is very peculiar. After mentioning the work against Marcion, he at once gives a quotation in such a way as to convey the impression that the quotation is taken from this work, but it is really taken from the first Apology. This makes it very probable that he had not seen this work against Marcion, a conclusion which is confirmed by its omission from the list of Justin’s writings given in chap. 18. It is claimed by many that Eusebius practices a little deception here, wishing to convey the impression that he knew a book which he did not know. This is not in accord with his usual conduct (as he seldom hesitates to confess his ignorance of any matter), and his general character for candor and honesty must be taken into account in deciding the case. He does not state directly that the quotation is taken from the work against Marcion, and it is possible that the seeming reference of it to that source was an oversight on his part. But it must be acknowledged, if that be the case, that he was very careless in making the quotation.


Justin, Apol. I. 26.


Marcion cannot be called a Gnostic in the strict sense of the term. He was rather an anti-Jewish reformer. He had much in common with the Gnostics, but laid stress upon belief rather than upon knowledge. He developed no complete system as did the extreme and perverted Paulinism, considering Paul the only true apostle and rejecting the others as Judaizing teachers. He cut the Gospel away from its historical connections, repudiating the Old Testament and all of the New except a mutilated Gospel of Luke and the Epistles of Paul, and denying the identity of the God of the Old Testament with the Supreme God, and the identity of Jesus with the promised Jewish Messiah. He magnified the mercy of God in redemption at the expense of creation, which he attributed to the demiurge, and in which he saw nothing good. He was an extreme anti-metaphysician, and the first Biblical critic. He was born in Pontus, was the son of a bishop, went to Rome about 135 a.d., and endeavored to carry out his reforms there, but was unsuccessful, and very soon broke with the Church. He traveled extensively and disseminated his doctrines very widely. The sect existed well on into the Middle Ages, and some of his opinions have never been completely eradicated. In Rome the Gnostic Cerdon exercised great influence over him, and to him are doubtless due many of Marcion’s Gnostic traits. The dualism which he held in common with the Gnostics arose rather from practical than speculative considerations; but his followers in the fourth and fifth centuries, when they had lost his practical religious spirit and yet retained his dualism, passed over quite naturally into Manicheeism. He was attacked by Justin, Irenæus, Tertullian, and all the anti-heretical writers of the early Church, and was considered one of the most dangerous of heretics. A complete monograph upon Marcion is still a desideratum, but he is discussed in all the general accounts of Gnosticism; see especially the brief but excellent account by Harnack, Dogmengeschichte, I. 197–214.


Pontus was a province in Northeastern Asia Minor, bordering upon the Black Sea.


Justin here agrees with Eusebius in his transcendental theory of heresy, looking upon it not as a natural growth from within, but as an infliction upon the Church from without, through the agency of demons. Indeed, this was the prevailing notion of the early Church.


The extent of Marcion’s influence referred to here is very significant. Gnosticism was not intended for common people, and never spread among the masses, but on the contrary was confined to philosophers and speculative thinkers. In this respect, Marcion, whose sect included multitudes of all classes, was distinguished most sharply from them, and it was because of the popularity of his sect that his heresy appeared so dangerous to the early Church.


ἄλλον δέ τινα ὡς, ὄντα μείζονα παρὰ τοῦτον ὁμολογεῖν πεποιηκέναι. The sentence as it thus stands is very difficult to construe, for we are compelled to take the last verb without an object, in the sense of create. Our mss. of Justin Martyr insert after the ὡςὄντα μείζονα the words τὰ μείζονα, and the sentence then reads, “some other one, greater than he, has done greater works.” It is plain that this was the original form of the sentence, and that the harsh construction found in Eusebius is a result of defective transcription. It was very easy for a copyist to drop out the second μείζονα.


Justin refers here to Apol. I. 7. He wishes to have it clear that not all that call themselves Christians are really such. From chaps. 26–29, we see that in Justin’s time the Christians were accused of great immoralities, and in this same chapter (chap. 26) he is rather inclined to throw the guilt upon heretics, although he does not expressly accuse them of it (“whether they perpetrate these shameful deeds—we know not”). See above.

His mention of philosophers here in his appeal to the philosophical emperors is very shrewd.


Ibid. I. 26.


This work is not mentioned by Eusebius in the list of Justin’s works which he gives in chap. 18. He had, therefore, undoubtedly never seen it. Irenæus nowhere mentions it under this title, though he seems to have made extensive use of it, and he does mention a work, Against Marcion, which is very likely to be identified with the work referred to here (see Harnack’s Zur Quellenkritik des Gnosticismus). The work, which is now lost, is mentioned by Photius (Cod. 125), but he evidently had never seen it, and is simply copying some earlier list, perhaps that of Eusebius. His testimony to the work, therefore, amounts to little. Compare note 22, above.


On Justin’s Apology and his work Against the Greeks, see below, chap. 18, notes 3 and 4. As shown in note 3 of that chapter, he really wrote only one Apology.


Justin, Apol. I. 1.

Next: Chapter XII