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PART TWO

CHAPTER 9.

MELITO OF SARDIS - CLAUDIUS APOLLINARIS

ATHENAGORAS - THE EPISTLE OF VIENNE AND LYONS

WE might altogether have passed over Melito, Bishop of Sardis, in Lydia, had it not been for the use of certain fragments of his writings made by Dr. Westcott. Melito, naturally, is not cited by Tischendorf at all, but the English apologist, with greater zeal, we think, than critical discretion, forces him into service as evidence for the Gospels and a New Testament Canon. The date of Melito, it is generally agreed, falls after AD 176, a phrase in his apology presented to Marcus Antoninus preserved in Eusebius [387:1] (meta tou paidos) indicating that Commodus had already been admitted to a share of the Government.

Dr. Westcott affirms that, in a fragment preserved by Eusebius, Melito speaks of the books of the New Testament in a collected form. He says: "The words of Melito on the other hand are simple and casual, and yet their meaning can scarcely be mistaken. He writes to Onesimus, a fellow-Christian, who had urged him to make selections for him from the Law and the Prophets concerning the Saviour and the faith generally, and furthermore desired to learn the accurate account of the Old (palaisôn) Books': 'having gone therefore to the East,' Melito says, 'and reached the spot where [each thing] was preached and done, and having learned accurately the Books of the Old Testament, I have sent a list of them.' The mention of 'the Old Books' -- 'the Books of the Old Testament,' naturally implies a definite New Testament, a written antitype to the Old; and the form of Language implies a familiar recognition of its contents." [387:2] This is truly astonishing! The "form of language" can only refer to the words, "concerning the Saviour and the faith generally," which must have an amazing fulness of meaning to convey to Dr. Westcott the implication of a "familiar recognition" of the contents of a supposed already collected New Testament, seeing that a simple Christian, not to say a Bishop, might at least know of a Saviour and the faith generally from the oral preaching of the Gospel, from a single Epistle of Paul, or from any of the polloi of Luke. This reasoning forms a worthy pendant to his argument, that because Melito speaks of the books of the Old Testament he implies the existence of a definite collected New Testament. Such an assertion is calculated to mislead a large class of readers. [388:1]

The fragment of Melito is as follows: "Melito to his brother Onesimus, greeting. As thou hast frequently desired in thy zeal for the word (logon) to have extracts made for thee, both from the law and the prophets concerning the Saviour and our whole faith; nay, more, hast wished to learn the exact statement of the old books (palaiôn bibliôn) how many they are and what is their order, I have earnestly endeavoured to accomplish this, knowing thy zeal concerning the faith, and thy desire to be informed concerning the word (logon), and especially that thou preferrest these matters to all others from love towards God, striving to gain eternal salvation. Having, therefore, gone to the East, and reached the place where this was preached and done, and having accurately ascertained the books of the Old Testament (ta tês palaias diathêkês biblia), I have, subjoined, sent a list of them unto thee, of which these are the names" -- then follows a list of the books of the Old Testament, omitting, however, Esther. He then concludes with the words: "Of these I have made the extracts, dividing them into six books." [388:2]

Dr. Westcott's assertion that the expression, "Old Books," "Books of the Old Testament," involves here by antithesis a definite written New Testament, requires us to say a few words as to the name of "Testament" as applied to both divisions of the Bible. It is of course well known that this word came into use originally from the translation of the Hebrew word "covenant," or compact made between God and the Israelites, [388:3] in the Septuagint version, by the Greek word Diathêkê which in a legal sense also means a will or testament, [388:4] and that word is adopted throughout the New Testament. [388:5] The Vulgate translation, instead of retaining the original Hebrew signification, translated the word in the Gospels and Epistles, "Testamentum," and hê palaia diathêkê became "Vetus Testamentum," instead of "Vetus Foedus," and whenever the word occurs in the English version it is almost invariably rendered "Testament" instead of covenant. The expression "Book of the Covenant," or "Testament," biblos tês diathêkês, frequently occurs in the Septuagint version of the Old Testament and its Apocrypha; [389:1] and in Jeremiah 31:31:34 [389:2] the prophet speaks of making a "new covenant" (kainê diathêkê) with the house of Israel, which is indeed quoted in Hebrews 8:8. It is the doctrinal idea of the new covenant, through Christ confirming the former one made to the Israelites, which has led to the distinction of the Old and New Testaments. Generally the Old Testament was, in the first ages of Christianity, indicated by the simple expressions, "The Books" (ta biblia), "Holy Scriptures" (hiera grammata[389:3] or graphai hagiai), [389:4] or "The Scriptures" (ai' graphai); [389:5] but the preparation for the distinction of "Old Testament" began very early in the development of the doctrinal idea of the New Testament of Christ, before there was any part of the New Testament books written at all. The expression "New Testament," derived thus antithetically from the "Old Testament," occurs constantly throughout the second part of the Bible. In the Epistle to the Hebrews, 8:6:13, the Mosaic dispensation is contrasted with the Christian, and Jesus is called the Mediator of a better Testament (diathêkê). [389:6] The first Testament, not being faultless, is replaced by the second, and the writer quotes the passage from Jeremiah to which we have referred regarding a New Testament, winding up his argument with the words, 5:13: "In that he saith a new (Testament) he hath made the first old." Again, in our first Gospel, during the Last Supper, Jesus is represented as saying: "This is my blood of the New Testament" (tês kainês diathêkês); [389:7] and in Luke he says: "This cup is the New Testament (hê kainê diathêkê) in my blood." [389:8] There is, therefore, a very distinct reference made to the two Testaments as "New" and "Old," and in speaking of the books of the Law and the Prophets as the "Old Books" and "Books of the Old Testament," after the general acceptance of the Gospel of Jesus as the New Testament or Covenant, there was no antithetical implication of a written New Testament, but a mere reference to the doctrinal idea. We might multiply illustrations showing how ever-present to the mind of the early Church was the contrast of the Mosaic and Christian Covenants as Old and New. Two more we may venture to point out. In Romans 9:4 and Gal. 4:24 the two Testaments or Covenants (ai duo diathêkai), typified by Sinai and the heavenly Jerusalem, are discussed, and the superiority of the latter asserted. There is, however, a passage still more clear and decisive. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3:6, "Who also (God) made us sufficient to be ministers of the New Testament (kainês diathêkês) not of the letter, but of the spirit" (ou grammatos alla pneumatos). Why does not Dr. Westcott boldly claim this as evidence of a definite written New Testament, when not only is there reference to the name, but a distinction drawn between the letter and the spirit of it, from which an apologist might make a telling argument? But, proceeding to contrast the glory of the New with the Old dispensation, the Apostle, in reference to the veil with which Moses covered his face, says: "But their understandings were hardened: for until this very day remaineth the same veil in the reading of the Old Testament" (epi tê anagnôsei tês palaias diathêkês); [390:1] and as if to make the matter still clearer he repeats in the next verse: "But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil lieth upon their heart." Now, here the actual reading of the Old Testament (palaias diathêkês) is distinctly mentioned, and the expression, quite as aptly as that of Melito, "implies a definite New estament, a written antitype to the Old"; but even Dr. Westcott would not dare to suggest that, when the second Epistle to the Corinthians was composed, there was a "definite written New Testament" in existence. This conclusively shows that the whole argument from Melito's mention of the books of the Old Testament is absolutely groundless.

On the contrary, the first general designation for the two portions of the New Testament collection was "The Gospel" (euangelion, euangelikon, euangelika) and "The Apostle" (apostolos, apostolikon, apostolika), in contrast with the two divisions of the Old Testament, the Law and the Prophets (ho nomos, oi prophêtai); [390:2] and the name New Testament occurs for the very first time in the third century, when Tertullian called the collection of Christian Scriptures Novum Instrumentum and Novum Testamentum[391:1] The term hê kainê diakêthê is not, so far as we are aware, applied in the Greek to the "New Testament" Scriptures in any earlier work than Origen's De Principiis, 4:1. It was only in the second half of the third century that the double designation to euangelion kai ho apostolos was generally abandoned.

As to the evidence for a New Testament Canon, which Dr. Westcott supposes he gains by his unfounded inference from Melito's expression, we may judge of its value from the fact that he himself, like Lardner, admits: "But there is little evidence in the fragment of Melito to show what writings he would have included in the new collection." [391:2] Little evidence? There is none at all.

There is, however, one singular and instructive point in this fragment to which Dr. Westcott does not in any way refer, but which well merits attention as illustrating the state of religious knowledge at that time and, by analogy, giving a glimpse of the difficulties which beset early Christian literature. We are told by Melito that Onesimus had frequently urged him to give him exact information as to the number and order of the books of the Old Testament, and to have extracts made for him from them concerning the Saviour and the faith. Now, it is apparent that Melito, though a Bishop, was not able to give the desired information regarding the number and order of the books of the Old Testament himself, but that he had to make a journey to collect it. If this was the extent of knowledge possessed by the Bishop of Sardis of what was to the Fathers the only Holy Scripture, how ignorant his flock must have been, and how unfitted, both, to form any critical judgment as to the connection of Christianity with the Mosaic dispensation. The formation of a Christian Canon at a period when such ignorance was not only possible but generally prevailed, and when the zeal of believers led to the composition of such a mass of pseudonymic and other literature, in which every consideration of correctness and truth was subordinated to a childish desire for edification, must have been slow indeed and uncertain; and in such an age fortuitous circumstances must have mainly led to the canonisation or actual loss of many a work. So far from affording any evidence of the existence of a New Testament Canon, the fragment of Melito only shows the ignorance of the Bishop of Sardis as to the Canon even of the Old Testament.

We have not yet finished with Melito in connection with Dr. Westcott, however, and it is necessary to follow him further in order fully to appreciate the nature of the evidence for the New Testament Canon, which, in default of better, he is obliged to offer. Eusebius gives a list of the works of Melito which have come to his knowledge, and, in addition to the fragment already quoted, he extracts a brief passage from Melito's work on the Passover, and some much longer quotations from his Apology, to which we have in passing referred. [392:1] With these exceptions, none of Melito's writings are now extant. Dr. Cureton, however, has published a Syriac version, with translation, of a so-called Oration of Meliton, the Philosopher, who was in the Presence of Antoninus Caesar, together with five other fragments attributed to Melito. [392:2] With regard to this Syriac Oration, Dr. Westcott says: "Though, if it be entire, it is not the Apology with which Eusebius was acquainted, the general character of the writing leads to the belief that it is a genuine book of Melito of Sardis "; [392:3] and he proceeds to treat it as authentic. In the first place, we have so little of Melito's genuine compositions extant that it is hazardous indeed to draw any positive deduction from the "character of the writing." Cureton, Bunsen, and others, maintain that this Apology is not a fragment; and it cannot be the work mentioned by Eusebius, for it does not contain the quotations from the authentic Orations which he has preserved, and which are considerable. It is, however, clear, from the substance of the composition, that it cannot have been spoken before the Emperor; and, moreover, it has in no way the character of an "apology," for there is not a single word in it about either Christianity or Christians. There is every reason to believe that it is not a genuine work of Melito. There is no ground for supposing that he wrote two Apologies, nor is this ascribed to him upon any other ground than the inscription of an unknown Syriac writer. This, however, is not the only spurious work attributed to Melito. Of this work Dr. Westcott says: "Like other Apologies, this oration contains only indirect references to the Christian Scriptures. The allusions in it to the Gospels are extremely rare, and, except so far as they show the influence of St. John's writings, of no special interest." [392:4] It would have been more correct to have said that there are no allusions in it to the Gospels at all.

Dr. Westcott is somewhat enthusiastic in speaking of Melito and his literary activity as evinced in the titles of his works recorded by Eusebius, and he quotes a fragment, said to be from a treatise, On Faith, amongst these Syriac remains, and which he considers to be "a very striking expansion of the early historic creed of the Church." [393:1] As usual, we shall give the entire fragment:

"We have made collections from the Law and the Prophets relative to those things which have been declared respecting our Lord Jesus Christ, that we may prove to your love that he is perfect Reason, the Word of God; who was begotten before the light; who was Creator together with the Father; who was the Fashioner of man; who was all in all; who among the Patriarchs was Patriarch; who in the Law was the Law; among the Priests, chief Priest; among Kings Governor; among the Prophets the Prophet; among the Angels Archangel; in the voice the Word; among Spirits Spirit; in the Father the Son; in God the King for ever and ever. For this was he who was Pilot to Noah; who conducted Abraham; who was bound with Isaac; who was in exile with Jacob; who was sold with Joseph; who was captain with Moses; who was the Divider of the inheritance with Jesus the son of Nun; who in David and the Prophets foretold his own sufferings; who was incarnate in the Virgin; who was born at Bethlehem; who was wrapped in swaddling clothes in the manger; who was seen of shepherds; who was glorified of angels; who was worshipped by the Magi; who was pointed out by John; who assembled the Apostles; who preached the kingdom; who healed the maimed; who gave light to the blind; who raised the dead; who appeared in the Temple; who was not believed by the people; who was betrayed by Judas; who was laid hold of by the priests; who was condemned by Pilate; who was pierced in the flesh; who was hanged upon the tree; who was buried in the earth; who rose from the dead; who appeared to the Apostles; who ascended to heaven; who sitteth on the right hand of the Father; who is the Rest of those who are departed; the Recoverer of those who are lost; the Light of those who are in darkness; the Deliverer of those who are captives; the Finder of those who have gone astray; the Refuge of the afflicted; the Bridegroom of the Church; the Charioteer of the Cherubim; the Captain of the Angels; God who is of God; the Son who is of the Father; Jesus Christ, the King for ever and ever. Amen." [393:2]

Dr. Westcott commences his commentary upon this passage with the remark: "No writer could state the fundamental truths of Christianity more unhesitatingly, or quote the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments with more perfect confidence." [393:3] We need not do more than remark that there is not a single quotation in the fragment, and that there is not a single one of the references to Gospel history or to ecclesiastical dogmas which might not have been derived from the Epistles of Paul, from any of the forms of the Gospel according to the Hebrews, the Protevangelium of James, or from many other apocryphal Gospels, or the oral teaching of the Church. It is singular, however, that the only hint which Dr. Westcott gives of the more than doubtful authenticity of this fragment consists of the introductory remark, after alluding to the titles of his, genuine and supposititious writings: "Of these multifarious writings very few fragments remain in the original Greek, but the general tone of them is so decided in its theological character as to go far to establish the genuineness of those which are preserved in the Syriac translation." [394:1]

Now, the fragment On Faith which has just been quoted is one of the five Syriac pieces of Dr. Cureton to which we have referred, and which even apologists agree "cannot be regarded as genuine." [394:2] It is well known that there were other writers in the early Church bearing the names of Melito and Miletius or Meletilus, which were frequently confounded. Of these five Syriac fragments one bears the superscription, "Of Meliton, Bishop of the city of Attica," and another, "Of the holy Meliton, Bishop of Utica"; and Cureton himself evidently leant to the opinion that they are not by our Melito, but by a Meletius or Melitius, Bishop of Sebastopolis in Pontus. [394:3] The third fragment is said to be taken from a discourse, On the Cross, which was unknown to Eusebius, and from its doctrinal peculiarities was probably written after his time.  [394:4] Another fragment purports to be from a work on the Soul and Body; and the last one from the treatise On Faith, which we are discussing. The last two works are mentioned by Eusebius, but these fragments, besides coming in such suspicious company, must for other reasons be pronounced spurious. [394:5] They have in fact no attestation whatever except that of the Syriac translator, who is unknown, and which therefore is worthless; and, on the other hand, the whole style and thought of the fragments are unlike anything else of Melito's time, and clearly indicate a later stage of theological development. [394:6] Moreover, in the Mechitarist Library at Venice there is a shorter version of the same passage in a Syriac MS., and an Armenian version of the extract as given above, with some variation of the opening lines, in both of which the passage is distinctly ascribed to Irenaeus. [394:7] Besides the Oration and the five Syriac fragments, there are two other works extant falsely attributed to Melito, one, De Transitu Virginis Mariae, describing the miraculous presence of the Apostles at the death of Mary; [394:8] and the other, De Actibus Joannis Apostoli, relates the history of miracles performed by the Apostle John. Both are universally admitted to be spurious, as are a few other fragments also bearing his name. Melito did not escape from the falsification to which many of his more distinguished predecessors and contemporaries were victims, through the literary activity and unscrupulous religious zeal of the first three or four centuries of our era.
 


Very little is known regarding Claudius Apollinaris, to whom we must now for a moment turn. Eusebius informs us that he was Bishop of Hierapolis, [395:1] and in this he is supported by the fragment of a letter of Serapion, Bishop of Antioch, preserved to us by him, which refers to Apollinaris as the "most blessed." [395:2] Tischendorf, without any precise date, sets him down as contemporary with Tatian and Theophilus (the latter of whom, he thinks, wrote his work addressed to Autolycus about AD 180-181). [395:3] Eusebius [395:4] mentions that, like his somewhat earlier contemporary, Melito of Sardis, Apollinaris presented an "Apology" to the Emperor Marcus Antoninus, and he gives us further materials for a Date [395:5] by stating that Claudius Apollinaris, probably in his Apology, refers to the miracle of the "Thundering Legion," which is said to have occurred during the war of Marcus Antoninus against the Marcomanni in AD 174. [395:6] The date of his writings may, therefore, With moderation, be fixed between AD 177-180.

Eusebius and others mention various works composed by him, [395:7] none of which, however, are extant; and we have only to deal with two brief fragments in connection with the Paschal controversy, which are ascribed to Appollinaris in the Paschal Chronicle of Alexandria. This controversy as to the day upon which the Christian Passover should be celebrated broke out about AD 170, and long continued to divide the Church. In the preface to the Paschal Chronicle, a work of the seventh century, the unknown chronicler says: "Now, even Apollinaris, the most holy Bishop of Hierapolis, in Asia, who lived near apostolic times, taught the like things in his work on the Passover, saying thus: 'There are some, however, who, through ignorance, raise contentions regarding these matters in a way which should be pardoned, for ignorance does not admit of accusation, but requires instruction. And they say that the Lord, together with his disciples, ate the sheep (to probaton) on the 14th Nisan, but himself suffered on the great day of unleavened bread. And they state (diêgnountai) that Matthew says precisely what they have understood; hence their understanding of it is at variance with the law, and, according to them, the Gospels seem to contradict each other.'" [396:1] The last sentence is interpreted as pointing out that the first synoptic Gospel is supposed to be at variance with our fourth Gospel. This fragment is claimed by Tischendorf [396:2] and others as evidence of the general acceptance, at that time, both of the Synoptics and the fourth Gospel. Dr. Westcott, with obvious exaggeration, says: "The Gospels are evidently quoted as books certainly known and recognised; their authority is placed on the same footing as the Old Testament." [396:3] The Gospels are referred to merely for the settlement of the historical fact as to the day on which the last Passover had been eaten, a narrative of which they contained.

There are, however, very grave reasons for doubting the authenticity of the two fragments ascribed to Apollinaris, and we must mention that these doubts are much less those of German critics, who either do not raise the question at all or hastily dispose of it, than doubts entertained by orthodox apologists, who see little ground for accepting them as genuine. [396:4] Eusebius, who gives a catalogue of the works of Apollinaris which had reached him, [396:5] was evidently not acquainted with any writing of his on the Passover. It is argued, however, that "there is not any sufficient ground for doubting the genuineness of these fragments On Easter, in the fact that Eusebius mentions no such book by Apollinaris" [396:6] It is quite true that Eusebius does not pretend to give a complete list of these works, but merely says that there are many preserved by many, and that he mentions those with which he had met. [396:7] At the same time, entering with great interest, as he does, into the Paschal controversy, and acquainted with the principal writings on the subject, [397:1] it would indeed have been strange had he not met with the treatise itself, or at least with some notice of it in the works of others. Eusebius gives an account of the writings of Melito and Apollinaris together. He was acquainted with the work of Melito on the Passover, and quotes it, [397:2] and it is extremely improbable that he could have been ignorant of a treatise by his distinguished contemporary on the same subject had he actually written one. Not only, however, does Eusebius seem to know nothing of his having composed such a work, but neither do Theodoret, [397:3] Jerome, [397:4] nor Photius, [397:5] who refer to his writings, mention it; and we cannot suppose that it was referred to in the lost works of Irenaeus or Clement of Alexandria on the Passover. Eusebius, who quotes from them, [397:6] would in that case have probably mentioned the fact, as he does the statement by Clement regarding Melito's work, or at least would have been aware of the existence of such a writing, and alluded to it when speaking of the works of Apollinaris.

This silence is equally significant whether we regard Apollinaris as a Quartodeciman or as a supporter of the views of Victor and the Church of Rome. On the one hand, Eusebius states that "all the churches of Asia" [397:7] kept the 14th Nisan, and it is difficult to believe that, had Apollinaris differed from this practice and, more especially, had he written against it, the name of so eminent an exception would not have been mentioned. The views of the Bishop of Hierapolis, as a prominent representative of the Asiatic Church, must have been quoted in many controversial works on the subject, and even if the writing itself had not come into their hands, Eusebius and others could scarcely fail to become indirectly acquainted with it. On the other hand, supposing Apollinaris to have been a Quartodeciman, whilst the ignorance of Eusebius and others regarding any contribution by him to the discussion is scarcely less remarkable, it is still more surprising that no allusion is made to him by Polycrates [397:8] when he names so many less distinguished men of Asia, then deceased, who kept the 14th Nisan, such as Thaseas of Eumenia, Sagoris of Laodicea, Papirius of Sardis, and the seven Bishops of his kindred, not to mention Polycarp of Smyrna and the Apostles Philip and John. He also cites Melito of Sardis: why does he not refer to Apollinaris of Hierapolis? If it be argued that he was still living, then why does Eusebius not mention him amongst those who protested against the measures of Victor of Rome? [397:9]

There has been much discussion as to the view taken by the writer of these fragments, Hilgenfeld and others [398:1] maintaining that he is opposed to the Quartodeciman party. Into this it is not necessary for us to enter, as our contention simply is that in no case can the authenticity of the fragments be established. Supposing them, however, to be directed against those who kept the 14th Nisan, how can it be credited that this isolated convert to the views of Victor and the Roman Church could write of so vast and distinguished a majority of the Churches of Asia, including Polycarp and Melito, as "some who through ignorance raised contentions" on the point, when they really raised no new contention at all, but, as Polycrates represented, followed the tradition handed down to them from their fathers, and authorised by the practice of the Apostle John himself!

None of his contemporaries nor writers about his own time seem to have known that Apollinaris wrote any work from which these fragments can have been taken, and there is absolutely no independent evidence that he ever took any part in the Paschal controversy at all. The only ground we have for attributing these fragments to him is the preface to the Paschal Chronicle of Alexandria, written by an unknown author of the seventh century Some five hundred years after the time of Apollinaris, whose testimony has rightly been described as "worth almost nothing." [398:2] Most certainly many passages preserved by him are inauthentic, and generally allowed to be so. [398:3] The two fragments have by some been conjecturally ascribed to Pierius of Alexandria, a writer of the third century, who composed a work on Easter; but there is no evidence on the point. In any case, there is such exceedingly slight reason for attributing these fragments to Claudius Apollinaris, and so many strong grounds for believing that he cannot have written them, that they have no material value as evidence for the antiquity of the Gospels.
 


We know little or nothing of Athenagoras. He is not mentioned by Eusebius, and our only information regarding him is derived from a fragment of Philip Sidetes, a writer of the fifth century, first published by Dodwell. [398:4] Philip states that he was the first leader of the school of Alexandria during the time of Hadrian and Antoninus, to the latter of whom he addressed his Apology; and he further says that Clement of Alexandria was his disciple, and that Pantaenus was the disciple of Clement. Part of this statement we know to be erroneous, and the Christian History of Philip, from which the fragment is taken, is very slightingly spoken of both by Socrates [399:1] and Photius. [399:2] No reliance can be placed upon this information.

The only works ascribed to Athenagoras are an Apology - called an Embassy, presbeia -- bearing the inscription "The Embassy of Athenagoras the Athenian, a philosopher and a Christian, concerning Christians, to the Emperors Marcus Aurelius Antoninus and Lucius Aurelius Commodus, Armeniaci Sarmatici and, above all, philosophers"; and further, a Treatise: On the Resurrection of the Dead. A quotation from the Apology by Methodius in his work on the Resurrection of the Body is preserved by Epiphanius [399:3] and Photius, [399:4] and this, the mention by Philip Sidetes, and the inscription by an unknown hand just quoted, are all the evidence we possess regarding the Apology. We have no evidence at all regarding the treatise on the Resurrection, beyond the inscription. The authenticity of neither therefore stands on very sure grounds. The address of the Apology and internal evidence furnished by it, into which we need not go, show that it could not have been written before AD. 176-177, the date assigned to it by most critics, although there are many reasons for dating it some years later.

In the six lines which Tischendorf devotes to Athenagoras, he says that the Apology contains "several quotations from Matthew and Luke," [399:5] without, however, indicating them. In the very few sentences which Dr. Westcott vouchsafes to him, he says: "Athenagoras quotes the words of our Lord as they stand in St. Matthew four times, and appears to allude to passages in St. Mark and St. John, but he nowhere mentions the name of an Evangelist." [399:6] Here the third Synoptic is not mentioned. In another place he says: "Athenagoras at Athens and Theophilus at Antioch make use of the same books generally, and treat them with the same respect"; and in a note: "Athenagoras quotes the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. John." [399:7] Here it will be observed that also the Gospel of Mark is quietly dropped out of sight, but still the positive manner in which it is asserted that Athenagoras quotes from "the Gospel of St. Matthew," without further explanation, is calculated to mislead. We shall refer to each of the supposed quotations.

Athenagoras not only does not mention any Gospel, but singularly enough he never once introduces the name of "Christ" into the works ascribed to him, and all the "words of the Lord" referred to are introduced simply by the indefinite "he says" (phêsi), and without any indication whatever of a written source. The only exception to this is an occasion on which he puts into the mouth of "the Logos" a saying which is not found in any of our Gospels. The first passage to which Dr. Westcott alludes is the following, which we contrast with the supposed parallel in the Gospel:
 

ATHENAGORAS. MATT. 5:39:40.
For we have learnt not only not to render a blow, nor to go to law (dikazesthai) with those who spoil and plunder us, but even to those who should strike (us) on one side of the forehead (kata korrês prospêlakizôsi) to offer for a blow the other side of the head also; and to those who should take away (aphairointo) the coat, to give also (epididonai) the cloak besides. [400:1] But I say unto you: that ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right check (se rhapisei epi tên dezian sou siagona) turn to him the other also. And if any man be minded to sue thee at the law (krithênai) and take away (labein) thy coat, let him have (aphes autô) thy cloak also. [400:2]

It is scarcely possible to imagine a greater difference in language conveying a similar idea than that which exists between Athenagoras and the first Gospel, and the parallel passage in Luke is in many respects still more distant. No echo of the words in Matthew has lingered in the ear of the writer, for he employs utterly different phraseology throughout, and nothing can be more certain than the fact that there is not a linguistic trace in it of acquaintance with our Synoptics. The next passage which is referred to is as follows:
 

ATHENAGORAS. MATT. 5:44:45 .
What, then, are those precepts in which we are instructed? I say unto you: love your enemies, bless them that curse, pray for them that persecute you ; that ye may be sons of your Father which is in the heavens who (hos) maketh his sun, etc. [400:3] But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, [400:4] do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that [400:5] persecute you: That ye may be sons of your Father which is in heaven: for (hoti) he maketh his sun, etc. [400:6]

The same idea is continued in the next chapter, in which the following passage occurs:
 

ATHENAGORAS MATT. 5:46.
For if ye love (agapate), he says, (phêsi) then which love, and lend to them which lend to you, what reward shall ye have? [401:1] For if ye should love (agapêsête) them which love you, what reward have ye? [401:2]

There is no parallel at all in the first Gospel to the phrase, "and lend to them that lend to you," and in Luke 6:34 the passage reads: "and if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye?" (kai ean danizete par' hôn elpizete labein, poia humin charis estin?) It is evident, therefore, that there are decided variations here, and that the passage of Athenagoras does not agree with either of the Synoptics. We have seen the persistent variation in the quotations from the "Sermon on the Mount" which occur In Justin, [401:3] and there is no part of the discourses of Jesus more certain to have been preserved by living Christian tradition, or to have been recorded in every form of Gospel. The differences in these passages from our Synoptic present the same features as mark the several versions of the same discourse in our first and third Gospels, and indicate a distinct source. The same remarks also apply to the next passage:
 

ATHENAGORAS. MATT. 5:28.
For whosoever, he says (phêsi), looketh on a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery (memoicheuken) already in his heart. [401:4] But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her (emoicheusen autên) already in his heart. [401:5]

The omission of autên, "with her," is not accidental, but is an important variation in the sense, which we have already met with in the Gospel used by Justin Martyr. [401:6] There is another passage, in the next chapter, the parallel to which follows closely on this in the great Sermon as reported in our first Gospel, to which Dr. Westcott does not refer, but which we must point out:
 

ATHENAGORAS. MATT. 5:32.
For whosoever, he says (phêsi), shall put away his wife and marry another committeth adultery. [402:1] But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her when divorced committeth adultery. [402:2]

It is evident that the passage in the Apology is quite different from that in the "Sermon on the Mount" in the first Synoptic. If we compare it with Matt. 19:9, there still remains the express limitation mê epi porneia, which Athenagoras does not admit, his own express doctrine being in accordance with the positive declaration in his text. In the immediate context, indeed, he insists that even to marry another wife after the death of the first is cloaked adultery. We find in Luke 16:18 the reading of Athenagoras, [402:3] but with important linguistic variation:
 

ATHENAGORAS. LUKE 16:18
Os gar an apolusê tên gynaika Autou, kai gamêsê allên moichatai. Pas ho apolusôn tên gynaika Autou kai gamôn eteran moicheuei.

It cannot, obviously, be rightly affirmed that Athenagoras must have derived this from Luke, and the sense of the passage in that Gospel, compared with the passage in Matt. 19:9, on the contrary, rather makes it certain that the reading of Athenagoras was derived from a source combining the language of the one and the thought of the other. In Mark 10:11 the reading is nearer that of Athenagoras, and confirms this conclusion; and the addition there of ep' autên, "against her," after moichatai, further tends to prove that his source was not that Gospel.

We may at once give the last passage which is supposed to be a quotation from our Synoptics, and it is that which is affirmed to be a reference to Mark. Athenagoras states in almost immediate context with the above: "for in the beginning God formed one man and one woman." [402:4] This is, compared with Mark 10:6, "But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female":
 

ATHENAGORAS. MARK 10:6.
Oti en archê ho Theos ena andra eplase kai mian gynaika. Apo de arches ktiseôs arsen kai Thêlu epoiêsen autous ho Theos.

This passage differs materially in every way from the second Synoptic. The reference to "one man" and "one woman" is used in a totally different sense, and enforces the previous assertion that a man may only marry one wife. Such an argument, directly derived from the Old Testament, is perfectly natural to one who, like Athenagoras, derived his authority from it alone. It is not. permissible to claim it as evidence of the use of Mark.

We must repeat that Athenagoras does not name any source from which he derives his knowledge of the sayings of Jesus. These sayings are all from the Sermon on the Mount, and are introduced by the indefinite phrase phêsi; and it is remarkable that all differ distinctly from the parallels in our Gospels. The whole must be taken together as coming from one source, and while the decided variation excludes the inference that they must have been taken from our Gospels, there is reasonable ground for assigning them to a different source. Dr. Donaldson states the case with great fairness: "Athenagoras makes no allusion to the inspiration of any of the New Testament writers. He does not mention one of them by name, and one cannot be sure that he quotes from any except Paul. All the passages taken from the Gospels are parts of our Lord's discourses, and may have come down to Athenagoras by tradition." [403:1] He should have added that they might also have been derived from the Gospel according to the Hebrews, or many other collections now unhappily lost.

One circumstance strongly confirming this conclusion is the fact already mentioned, that Athenagoras, in the same chapter in which one of these quotations occurs, introduces an apocryphal saying of the Logos, and connects it with previous sayings by the expression, "The Logos again (palin) saying to us." This can only refer to the sayings previously introduced by the indefinite phêsi. The sentence, which is in reference to the Christian salutation of peace, is as follows: "The Logos again saying to us: 'If any one for this reason kiss a second time because it pleased him (he sins)'; and adding: 'Thus the kiss, or rather the salutation, must be used with caution, as, if it be defiled even a little by thought, it excludes us from the life eternal.'" [403:2] This saying, which is directly attributed to the Logos, is not found in our Gospels. The only natural deduction is that it comes from the same source as the other sayings, and that source was not our synoptic Gospels.

The total absence of any allusion to New Testament Scriptures in Athenagoras, however, is rendered more striking and significant by the marked expression of his belief in the inspiration of the Old Testament. He appeals to the prophets for testimony as to the truth of the opinions of Christians -- men, he says, who spoke by the inspiration of God, whose Spirit moved their mouths to express God's will as musical instruments are played upon: [404:1] "But since the voices of the prophets support our arguments, I think that you, being most learned and wise, cannot be ignorant of the writings of Moses, or of those of Isaiah and Jeremiah and of the other prophets, who, being raised in ecstasy above the reasoning that was in themselves, uttered the things which were wrought in them, when the Divine Spirit moved them, the Spirit using them as a flute-player would blow into the flute." [404:2] He thus enunciates the theory of the mechanical inspiration of the writers of the Old Testament in the clearest manner, and it would, indeed, have been strange, on the supposition that he extended his views of inspiration to any of the Scriptures of the New Testament, that he never names a single one of them, nor indicates to the Emperors in the same way, as worthy of their attention, any of these Scriptures along with the Law and the Prophets. There can be no doubt that he nowhere gives reason for supposing that he regarded any other writings than the Old Testament as inspired or "Holy Scripture." [404:3]
 


In the seventeenth year of the reign of Marcus Aurelius, between the 7th March, 177-178, a fierce persecution was, it is said, [404:4] commenced against the Christians in Gaul, and more especially at Vienne and Lyons, during the course of which the aged Bishop Pothinus, the predecessor of Irenaeus, suffered martyrdom for the faith. The two communities some time after addressed an Epistle to their brethren in Asia and Phrygia, and also to Eleutherus, Bishop of Rome, [404:5] relating the events which had occurred, and the noble testimony which had been borne to Christ by the numerous martyrs who had been cruelly put to death. The Epistle has in great part been preserved by Eusebius, [404:6] and critics generally agree in dating it about AD 177, although it was most probably not written until the following year. [404:7]

No writing of the New Testament is mentioned in this Epistle, but it is asserted that there are "unequivocal coincidences of language" [404:8] with the Gospel of Luke, and others of its books. The passage which is referred to as showing knowledge of our Synoptic is as follows. The letter speaks of one of the sufferers, a certain Vettius Epagathus, whose life was so austere that, although a young man, "he was thought worthy of the testimony (martyria) borne by the elder (presbyterou) Zacharias. He had walked, of a truth, in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless, and was untiring in every kind office towards his neighbour; having much zeal for God and being fervent in spirit." [405:1] This is compared with the description of Zacharias and Elizabeth in Luke 1:6, "And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless." [405:2] A little further on in the Epistle it is said of the same person: "Having in himself the advocate (paraklêton), the spirit (to pneuma), more abundantly than Zacharias," etc., [405:3] which again is referred to Luke 1:67, "And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying," etc. [405:4]

A few words must be said regarding the phrase, tê tou presbyterou Zachariou martyria, "the testimony of the presbyter Zacharias." This, of course, may either be rendered: "the testimony borne to Zacharias," that is to say, borne by others to his holy life; or, "the testimony borne by Zacharias," his own testimony to the Faith: his martyrdom. We adopt the latter rendering for various reasons. The Epistle is an account of the persecution of the Christian community of Vienne and Lyons, and Vettius Epagathus is the first of the martyrs who is named in it: martyria was at that time the term used to express the supreme testimony of Christians - martyrdom, and the Epistle seems here simply to refer to the martyrdom, the honour of which he shared with Zacharias. It is, we think, very improbable that under such circumstances the word martyria would have been used to express a mere description of the character of Zacharias given by some other writer. The interpretation which we prefer is that adopted by Tischendorf. [405:5] We must add that the Zacharias here spoken of is generally understood to be the father of John the Baptist, and no critic, so far as we can remember, has suggested that the reference in Luke 11:51 applies to him. [406:1] Since the Epistle, therefore, refers to "the martyrdom of Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, when using the expressions which are supposed to be taken from our third Synoptic, is it not reasonable to suppose that those expressions were derived from some work which likewise contained an account of his death, which is not found in the Synoptic? When we examine the matter more closely, we find that, although none of the Canonical Gospels, except the third, gives any narrative of the birth of John the Baptist, that portion of the Gospel in which are the words we are discussing cannot be considered an original production by the third Synoptist, but, like the rest of his work, is merely a composition, based upon earlier written narratives. Ewald, for instance, assigns the whole of the first chapters of Luke (1:5 -- 2:40) to what he terms "the eighth recognisable book." [406:2]

However this may be, the fact that other works existed at an earlier period in which the history of Zacharias the father of the Baptist was given, and in which not only the words used in the Epistle were found but also the martyrdom, is in the highest degree probable; and, so far as the history is concerned, this is placed almost beyond doubt by the Protevangelium Jacobi which contains it. Tischendorf, who does not make use of this Epistle at all as evidence for the Scriptures of the New Testament, does refer to it, and to this very allusion in it to the martyrdom of Zacharias, as testimony to the existence and use of the Protevangelium Jacobi, a work whose origin he dates so far back as the first three decades of the second century, [406:3] and which he considers was also used by Justin, as Hilgenfeld had already observed. [406:4] Tischendorf and Hilgenfeld, therefore, agree in affirming that the reference to Zacharias which we have quoted indicates acquaintance with a different Gospel from our third Synoptic. Hilgenfeld rightly maintains that the Protevangelium Jacobi in its present shape is merely an altered form of an older work, [406:5] which he conjectures to have been the Gospel according to Peter, or the Gnostic work, Genna Marias[406:6] and both he and Tischendorf show that many of the Fathers [406:7] were either acquainted with the Protevangelium itself or the works on which it was based.

The state of the case, then, is as follows: we find a coincidence in a few words in connection with Zacharias between the Epistle and our third Gospel; but, so far from the Gospel being in any way indicated as their source, the words in question are connected with a reference to events unknown to our Gospel, but which were indubitably chronicled elsewhere. As part of the passage in the epistle, therefore, could not have been derived from our third Synoptic, the natural inference is that the whole emanates from a Gospel, different from ours, which likewise contained that part. In any case, the agreement of these few words, without the slightest mention of the third Synoptic in the epistle, cannot be admitted as proof that they must necessarily have been derived from it, and from no other source.
 


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