Early Church Fathers
271 See note 2.
272 The earliest account which we have of Cerinthus is that of Irenaeus (Adv. Haer. I. 26. 1; cf. III. 3. 4, quoted at the end of this chapter, and 11. 1), according to which Cerinthus, a man educated in the wisdom of the Egyptians, taught that the world was not made by the supreme God, but by a certain power distinct from him. He denied the supernatural birth of Jesus, making him the son of Joseph and Mary, and distinguishing him from Christ, who descended upon him at baptism and left him again at his crucifixion. He was thus Ebionitic in his Christology, but Gnostic in his doctrine of the creation. He claimed no supernatural power for himself as did Simon Magus and Menander, but pretended to angelic revelations, as recorded by Caius in this paragraph. Irenaeus (who is followed by Hippolytus, VII. 21 and X. 17) says nothing of his chiliastic views, but these are mentioned by Caius in the present paragraph, by Dionysius (quoted by Eusebius, VII. 25, below), by Theodoret (Haer. Fab. II. 3), and by Augustine (De Haer. I. 8), from which accounts we can see that those views were very sensual. The fullest description which we have of Cerinthus and his followers is that of Epiphanius (Haer. XXVIII.), who records a great many traditions as to his life (e.g. that he was one of the false apostles who opposed Paul, and one of the circumcision who rebuked Peter for eating with Cornelius, &c.), and also many details as to his system, some of which are quite contradictory. It is clear, however, that he was Jewish in his training and sympathies, while at the same time possessed of Gnostic tendencies. He represents a position of transition from Judaistic Ebionism to Gnosticism, and may be regarded as the earliest Judaizing Gnostic. Of his death tradition tells us nothing, and as to his dates we can say only that he lived about the end of the first century. Irenaeus (III. 2. 1) supposed John to have written his gospel and epistle in opposition to Cerinthus. On the other hand, Cerinthus himself was regarded by some as the author of the Apocalypse (see Bk. VII. chap. 25, below), and most absurdly as the author of the Fourth Gospel also (see above, chap. 24, note 1).
273 See Bk. II. chap. 25, §7. Upon Caius, see the note given there. The Disputation is the same that is quoted in that passage.
274 Cf. Rev. xx. 4. On chiliasm in the early Church, see below, chap. 39, note 19.
275 It is a commonly accepted opinion founded upon this passage that Caius rejected the apostolic authorship of the Apocalypse and considered it a work of Cerinthus. But the quotation by no means implies this. Had he believed that Cerinthus wrote the Apocalypse commonly ascribed to John, he would certainly have said so plainly, and Eusebius would just as certainly have quoted his opinion, prejudiced as he was himself against the Apocalypse. Caius simply means that Cerinthus abused and misinterpreted the vision of the Apocalypse for his own sensual purposes. That this is the meaning is plain from the words "being an enemy to the Divine Scriptures," and especially from the fact that in the Johannine Apocalypse itself occur no such sensual visions as Caius mentions here. The sensuality was evidently superimposed by the interpretation of Cerinthus. Cf. Weiss' N. T. Einleitung, p. 82.
276 Upon Dionysius and his writings, see below, Bk. VI. chap. 40, note 1.
277 The same passage is quoted with its context in Bk. VII. chap. 25, below. The verbs in the portion of the passage quoted here are all in the infinitive, and we see, from Bk. VII. chap. 25, that they depend upon an indefinite legousin, "they say"; so that Eusebius is quite right here in saying that Dionysius is drawing from tradition in making the remarks which he does. Inasmuch as the verbs are not independent, and the statement is not, therefore, Dionysius' own, I have inserted, at the beginning of the quotation, the words "they say that," which really govern all the verbs of the passage. Dionysius himself rejected the theory of Cerinthus' authorship of the Apocalypse, as may be seen from Bk. VII. chap. 25, §7.
278 Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. I. 26. 1.
279 See ibid. III. 3. 4. This story is repeated by Eusebius, in Bk. IV. chap. 14. There is nothing impossible in it. The occurrence fits well the character of John as a "son of thunder," and shows the same spirit exhibited by Polycarp in his encounter with Marcion (see below, Bk. IV. chap. 14). But the story is not very well authenticated, as Irenaeus did not himself hear it from Polycarp, but only from others to whom Polycarp had told it. The unreliability of such second-hand tradition is illustrated abundantly in the case of Irenaeus himself, who gives some reports, very far from true, upon the authority of certain presbyters (e.g. that Christ lived fifty years; II. 22. 5). This same story, with much more fullness of detail, is repeated by Epiphanius (Haer. XXX. 24), but of Ebion (who never existed), instead of Cerinthus. This shows that the story was a very common one, while, at the same time, so vague in its details as to admit of an application to any heretic who suited the purpose. That somebody met somebody in a bath seems quite probable, and there is nothing to prevent our accepting the story as it stands in Irenaeus, if we choose to do so. One thing, at least, is certain, that Cerinthus is a historical character, who in all probability was, for at least a part of his life, contemporary with John, and thus associated with him in tradition, whether or not he ever came into personal contact with him.
280 Rev. ii. 6, Rev. ii. 15. Salmon, in his article Nicolaitans, in the Dict. of Christ. Biog., states, as I think, quite correctly, that "there really is no trustworthy evidence of the continuance of a sect so called after the death of the apostle John"; and in this he is in agreement with many modern scholars. An examination of extant accounts of this sect seems to show that nothing more was known of the Nicolaitans by any of the Fathers than what is told in the Apocalypse. Justin, whose lost work against heretics Irenaeus follows in his description of heresies, seems to have made no mention of the Nicolaitans, for they are dragged in by Irenaeus at the close of the text, quite out of their chronological place. Irenaeus (I. 26. 3; III. 11. 1) seems to have made up his account from the Apocalypse, and to have been the sole source for later writers upon this subject. That the sect was licentious is told us by the Apocalypse. That Nicolas, one of the Seven, was their founder is stated by Irenaeus (I. 26. 3), Hippolytus (VII. 24), Pseudo-Tertullian (Adv. omnes Haer. chap. 1), and Epiphanius (Haer. 25), the last two undoubtedly drawing their account from Hippolytus, and he in turn from Irenaeus. Jerome and the writers of his time and later accept this view, believing that Nicolas became licentious and fell into the greatest wickedness. Whether the sect really claimed Nicolas as their founder, or whether the combination was made by Irenaeus in consequence of the identity of his name with the name of a sect mentioned in the Apocalypse, we cannot tell; nor have we any idea, in the latter case, where the sect got the name which they bore. Clement of Alexandria, in the passage quoted just below, gives us quite a different account of the character of Nicolas; and as be is a more reliable writer than the ones above quoted, and as his statement explains excellently the appeal of the sect to Nicolas' authority, without impeaching his character, which certainly his position among the Seven would lead us to expect was good, and good enough to warrant permanence, we feel safe in accepting his account as the true one, and denying that Nicolas himself bore the character which marked the sect of the Nicolaitans; though the latter may, as Clement says, have arisen from abusing a saying of Nicolas which had been uttered with a good motive.
281 See Acts vi.
282 Stromata, III. 4.
283 Compare Matt. vi. 24.
284 This teaching was found in the Gospel of Matthias, or the paradoseij Matqiou, mentioned in chap. 25 (see note 30 on that chapter).
285 A chapter intervenes between the quotation given by Eusebius just above and the one which follows. In it Clement had referred to two classes of heretics,-without giving their names,-one of which encouraged all sorts of license, while the other taught celibacy. Having in that place refuted the former class, he devotes the chapter from which the following quotation is taken to a refutation of the latter, deducing against them the fact that some of the apostles were married. Clement here, as in his Quis dives salvetur (quoted in chap. 23), shows his good common sense which led him to avoid the extreme of asceticism as well as that of license. He was in this an exception to most of the Fathers of his own and subsequent ages, who in their reaction from the licentiousness of the times advised and often encouraged by their own example the most rigid asceticism, and thus laid the foundation for monasticism.
286 Strom. III. 6.
287 Peter was married, as we know from Matt. viii. 14 (cf. 1 Cor. ix. 5). Tradition also tells us of a daughter, St. Petronilla. She is first called St. Peter's daughter in the Apocryphal Acts of SS. Nereus and Achilles, which give a legendary account of her life and death. In the Christian cemetery of Flavia Domitilla was buried an Aurelia Petronilla filia dulcissima, and Petronilla being taken as a diminutive of Petrus, she was assumed to have been a daughter of Peter. It is probable that this was the origin of the popular tradition. Petronilla is not, however, a diminutive of Petrus, and it is probable that this woman was one of the Aurelian gens and a relative of Flavia Domitilla. Compare the article Petronilla in the Dict. of Christ. Biog. Petronilla has played a prominent rôle in art. The immense painting by Guercino in the Palace of the Conservators in Rome attracts the attention of all visitors.
288 It is probable that Clement here confounds Philip the evangelist with Philip the apostle. See the next chapter, note 6.
Philip the evangelist, according to Acts xxi. 9, had four daughters who were virgins. Clement (assuming that he is speaking of the same Philip) is the only one to tell us that they afterward married, and he tells us nothing about their husbands. Polycrates in the next chapter states that two of them at least remained virgins. If so, Clement's statement can apply at most only to the other two. Whether his report is correct as respects them we cannot tell.
289 The passage to which Clement here refers and which he quotes in this connection is 1 Cor. ix. 5; but this by no means proves that Paul was married, and 1 Cor. vii. 8 seems to imply the opposite, though the words might be used if he were a widower. The words of Phil. iv. 3 are often quoted as addressed to his wife, but there is no authority for such a reference. Clement is the only Father who reports that Paul was married; many of them expressly deny it; e.g. Tertullian, Hilary, Epiphanius, Jerome, &c. The authority of these later Fathers is of course of little account. But Clement's conclusion is based solely upon exegetical grounds, and therefore is no argument for the truth of the report.
290 Strom. VII. 11. Clement, so far as we know, is the only one to relate this story, but he bases it upon tradition, and although its truth cannot be proved, there is nothing intrinsically improbable in it.
291 See Bk. II. chap. 25, §§5 sqq.
292 See chap. 23, §§3, 4.
293 Upon Polycrates, see Bk. V. chap. 22, note 9.
294 Upon Victor, see ibid. note 1.
295 This epistle is the only writing of Polycrates which is preserved to us. This passage, with considerably more of the same epistle, is quoted below in Bk. V. chap. 24. From that chapter we see that the epistle was written in connection with the Quarto-deciman controversy, and after saying, "We therefore observe the genuine day," Polycrates goes on in the words quoted here to mention the "great lights of Asia" as confirming his own practice. (See the notes upon the epistle in Bk. V. chap. 24.) The citation here of this incidental passage from a letter upon a wholly different subject illustrates Eusebius' great diligence in searching out all historical notices which could in any way contribute to his history.
296 Philip the apostle and Philip the evangelist are here confounded. That they were really two different men is clear enough from Luke's account in the Acts (cf. Acts vi. 2-5, Acts viii. 14-17, and Acts xxi. 8). That it was the evangelist, and not the apostle, that was buried in Hierapolis may be assumed upon the following grounds: (1) The evangelist (according to Acts xxi. 8) had four daughters, who were virgins and prophetesses. Polycrates speaks here of three daughters, at least two of whom were virgins, and Proclus, just below, speaks of four daughters who were prophetesses. (2) Eusebius, just below, expressly identifies the apostle and evangelist, showing that in his time there was no separate tradition of the two men. Lightfoot (Colossians, p. 45) maintains that Polycrates is correct, and that it was the apostle, not the evangelist, that was buried in Hierapolis; but the reasons which he gives are trivial and will hardly convince scbolars in general. Certainly we need strong grounds to justify the separation of two men so remarkably similar so far as their families are concerned. But the truth is, there is nothing more natural than that later generations should identify the evangelist with the apostle of the same name, and should assume the presence of the latter wherever the former was known to have been. This identification would in itself be a welcome one to the inhabitants of Hierapolis, and hence it would be assumed there more readily than anywhere else. Of course it is not impossible that Philip the apostle also had daughters who were virgins and prophetesses, but it is far more probable that Polycrates (and possibly Clement too; see the previous chapter) confounded him with the evangelist,-as every one may have done for some generations before them. Eusebius at any rate, historian though he was, saw no difficulty in making the identification, and certainly it was just as easy for Polycrates and Clement to do the same. Lightfoot makes something of the fact that Polycrates mentions only three daughters, instead of four. But the latter's words by no means imply that there had not been a fourth daughter (see note 8, below).
297 Hierapolis was a prominent city in Proconsular Asia, about five miles north of Laodicea, in connection with which city it is mentioned in Col. iv. 13. The ruins of this city are quite extensive, and its site is occupied by a village called Pambouk Kelessi.
298 The fact that only three of Philip's daughters are mentioned here, when from the Acts we know he had four, shows that the fourth had died elsewhere; and therefore it would have been aside from Polycrates' purpose to mention her, since, as we see from Bk. V. chap. 24, he was citing only those who had lived in Asia (the province), and had agreed as to the date of the Passover. The separate mention of this third daughter by Polycrates has been supposed to arise from the fact that she was married, while the other two remained virgins. This is, however, not at all implied, as the fact that she was buried in a different place would be enough to cause the separate mention of her. Still, inasmuch as Clement (see the preceding chapter) reports that Philip's daughters were married, and inasmuch as Polycrates expressly states that two of them were virgins, it is quite possible that she (as well as the fourth daughter, not mentioned here) may have been a married woman, which would, perhaps, account for her living in Ephesus and being buried there, instead of with her father and sister in Hierapolis. It is noticeable that while two of the daughters are expressly called virgins, the third is not.
299 martuj; see chap. 32, note 15.
300 The Greek word is petagon, which occurs in the LXX. as the technical term for the plate or diadem of the high priest (cr. Ex. xxviii. 36, &c.). What is meant by the word in the present connection is uncertain. Epiphanius (Haer. LXXVII. 14) says the same thing of James, the brother of the Lord. But neither James nor John was a Jewish priest, and therefore the words can be taken literally in neither case. Valesius and others have thought that John and James, and perhaps others of the apostles, actually wore sotnething resembling the diadem of the high priest; but this is not at all probable. The words are either to be taken in a purely figurative sense, as meaning that John bore the character of a priest,-i.e. the high priest of Christ as his most beloved disciple,-or, as Hefele suggests, the report is to be regarded as a mythical tradition which arose after the second Jewish war. See Kraus' Real-Encyclopaedie der christlichen Alterthümer, Band II. p. 212 sq.
301 Upon John's Ephesian activity and his death there, see Bk. III. chap. 1, note 6.
302 Bk. II. chap. 25, §6, and Bk. III. chap. 28, §1. Upon Caius and his dialogue with Proclus, see the former passage, note 8.
303 Upon Proclus, a Montanistic leader, see Bk. II chap. 25, note 12.
304 The agreement of the two accounts is not perfect, as Polycrates reports that two daughters were buried at Hierapolis and one at Ephesus, while Proclus puts them all four at Hierapolis. But the report of Polycrates deserves our credence rather than that of Proclus, because, in the first place, Polycrates was earlier than Proclus; in the second place, his report is more exact, and it is hard to imagine how, if all four were really buried in one place, the more detailed report of Polyerates could have arisen, while on the other hand it is quite easy to explain the rise of the more general but inexact account of Proclus; for with the general tradition that Philip and his daughters lived and died in Hierapolis needed only to be combined the fact that he had four daughters, and Proclus' version was complete. In the third place, Polycrates' report bears the stamp of truth as contrasted with mere legend, because it accounts for only three daughters, while universal tradition speaks of four.
How Eusebius could have overlooked the contradiction it is more difficult to explain. He can hardly have failed to notice it, but was undoubtedly unable to account for the difference, and probably considered it too small a matter to concern himself about. He was quite prone to accept earlier accounts just as they stood, whether contradictory or not. The fact that they had been recorded was usually enough for him, if they contained no improbable or fabulous stories. He cannot be accused of intentional deception at this point, for he gives the true accounts side by side, so that every reader might judge of the agreement for himself. Upon the confusion of the apostle and evangelist, see above, note 6.
305 I read meta touton with the majority of the mss., with Burton, Routh, Schwegler, Heinichen, &c., instead of meta touto, which occurs in some mss. and in Rufinus, and is adopted by Valesius, Crusèe, and others. As Burton says, the copyists of Eusebius, not knowing to whom Proclus here referred, changed touton to touto; but if we had the preceding context we should find that Proclus had been referring to some prophetic man such as the Montanists were fond of appealing to in support of their position. Schwegler suggests that it may have been the Quadratus mentioned in chap. 37, but this is a mere guess. As the sentence stands isolated from its connection, touton is the harder reading, and could therefore have more easily been changed into touto than the latter into touton.
306 Acts xxi. 8, Acts xxi. 9. Eusebius clearly enough considers Philip the apostle and Philip the evangelist identical. Upon this identification, see note 6, above.
307 ierwn grammatwn, kai twn antilegomenwn men, omwj ...dedhmosieumenwn. The classification here is not inconsistent with that given in chap. 25, but is less complete than it, inasmuch as here Eusebius draws no distinction between antilegomena and noqoi, but uses the former word in its general sense, and includes under it both the particular classes (Antilegomena and noqoi) of chap. 25 (see note 27 on that chapter).
308 Trajan, who reigned from 98 to 117 a.d.
309 Upon the state of the Christians under Trajan, see the next chapter, with the notes.
310 See chap. 11.
311 Quoted in Bk. II. chap. 23, and in Bk. III. chap. 20, and mentioned in Bk. III. chap. 11. Upon his life and writings, see Bk. IV. chap. 8, note 1.
312 In the passage quoted in Bk. IV. chap. 22, §4, Hegesippus speaks of various heretics, and it looks as if the passage quoted there directly preceded the present one in the work of Hegesippus.
313 That is, by crucifixion, as stated in §6.
314 It is noticeable that Symeon was not sought out by the imperial authorities, but was accused to them as a descendant of David and as a Christian. The former accusation shows with what suspicion all members of the Jewish royal family were still viewed, as possible instigators of a revolution (cf. chap. 20, note 2); the latter shows that in the eyes of the State Christianity was in itself a crime (see the next chapter, note 6). In the next paragraph it is stated that search was made by the officials for members of the Jewish royal family. This was quite natural, after the attention of the government had been officially drawn to the family by the arrest of Symeon.
315 The date of the martyrdom of Symeon is quite uncertain. It has been commonly ascribed (together with the martyrdom of Ignatius) to the year 106 or 107, upon the authority of Eusebius' Chron., which is supposed to connect these events with the ninth or tenth year of Trajan's reign. But an examination of the passage in the Chron., where Eusebius groups together these two events and the persecutions in Bithynia, shows that he did not pretend to know the exact date of any of them, and simply put them together as three similar events known to have occurred during the reign of Trajan (cf. Lightfoot's Ignatius, II. p. 447 sqq.). The year of Atticus' proconsulship we unfortunately do not know, although Wieseler, in his Christen-Verfolgungen der Caesaren, p. 126, cites Waddington as his authority for the statement that Herodes Atticus was proconsul of Palestine from 105 to 107; but all that Waddington says (Fastes des prov. Asiat., p. 720) is, that since the proconsul for the years 105 to 107 is not known, and Eusebius puts the death of Symeon in the ninth or tenth year of Trajan, we may assume that this was the date of Atticus' proconsulship. This, of course, furnishes no support for the common opinion. Lightfoot, on account of the fact that Symeon was the son of Clopas, wishes to put the martyrdom earlier in Trajan's reign, and it is probable that it occurred earlier rather than later; more cannot be said. The great age of Symeon and his martyrdom under Trajan are too well authenticated to admit of doubt; at the same time, the figure 120 may well be an exaggeration, as Lightfoot thinks. Renan (Les Evangiles, p. 466) considers it very improbable that Symeon could have had so long a life and episcopate, and therefore invents a second Symeon, a great-grandson of Clopas, as fourth bishop of Jerusalem, and makes him the martyr mentioned here. But there is nothing improbable in the survival of a contemporary of Jesus to the time of Trajan, and there is no warrant for rejecting the tradition, which is unanimous in calling Symeon the son of Clopas, and also in emphasizing his great age.
316 epi Traianou kaisaroj kai upatikou 'Attikou. The nouns being without the article, the phrase is to be translated, "while Trajan was emperor, and Atticus governor." In §6, below, where the article is used, we must translate, "before Atticus the governor" (see Lightfoot's Ignatius, 1. p. 59).
The word upatikoj is an adjective signifying "consular, pertaining to a consul." It "came to be used in the second century especially of provincial governors who had held the consulship, and at a later date of such governors even though they might not have been consuls" (Lightfoot, p. 59, who refers to Marquardt, Römische Staatsverwaltung, I. 409).
317 This is a peculiar statement. Members of the house of David would hardly have ventured to accuse Symeon on the ground that he belonged to that house. The statement is, however, quite indefinite. We are not told what happened to these accusers, nor indeed that they really were of David's line, although the wsan with which Eusebius introduces the charge does not imply any doubt in his own mind, as Lightfoot quite rightly remarks. It is possible that some who were of the line of David may have accused Symeon, not of being a member of that family, but only of being a Christian, and that the report of the occurrence may have become afterward confused.
318 This is certainly a reasonable supposition, and the unanimous election of Symeon as successor of James at a time when there must have been many living who had seen the Lord, confirms the conclusion.
319 Mary, the wife of Clopas, is mentioned in John xix. 25.
320 See above, chap. 11.
321 See above, chap. 20.
322 See p. 389, note.
323 marturej. The word is evidently used here in its earlier sense of "witnesses," referring to those who testified to Christ even if they did not seal their testimony with death. This was the original use of the word, and continued very common during the first two centuries, after which it became the technical term for persons actually martyred and was confined to them, while omologhthj, "confessor," gradually came into use as the technical term for those who bad borne testimony in the midst of persecution, but had not suffered death. As early as the first century (cf. Acts xxii. 20 and Rev. ii. 13) martuj was used of martyrs, but not as distinguishing them from other witnesses to the truth. See the remarks of Lightfoot, in his edition of Clement of Rome, p. 46.
324 This part of the quotation has already been given in Eusebius' own words in chap. 20, §8. See note 5 on that chapter.
325 epi tw autw logw, that is, was accused for the same reason that the grandsons of Judas (whom Hegesippus had mentioned just before) were: namely, because he belonged to the line of David. See chap. 20; but compare also the remarks made in note 10, above.
326 epi 'Attikou tou upatikou. See above, note 9.
327 On the heretics mentioned by Hegesippus, see Bk. IV. chap. 22.
328 thn yeudonumon gnwsin; 1 Tim. vi. 20. A few mss., followed by Stephanus, Valesius (in his text), Closs, and Crusè, add the words (in substance): "Such is the statement of Hegesippus. But let us proced with the course of our history." The majority of the mss., however, endorsed by Valesius in his notes, and followed by Burton, Heinichen, and most of the editors, omit the words, which are clearly an interpolation.
329 Plinius Caecilius Secundus, commonly called "Pliny the younger" to distinguish him from his uncle, Plinius Secundus the elder, was a man of great literary attainments and an intimate friend of the Emperor Trajan. Of his literary remains the most important are his epistles, collected in ten books. The epistle of which Eusebius speaks in this chapter is No. 96 (97), and the reply of Trajan No. 97 (98) of the tenth book. The epistle was written from Bithynia, probably within a year after Pliny became governor there, which was in 110 or 111. It reads as follows: "It is my custom, my Lord, to refer to thee all questions concerning which I am in doubt; for who can better direct my hesitation or instruct my ignorance? I have never been present at judicial examinations of the Christians; therefore I am ignorant how and to what extent it is customary to punish or to search for them. And I have hesitated greatly as to whether any distinction should be made on the ground of age, or whether the weak should be treated in the same way as the strong; whether pardon should be granted to the penitent, or he who has ever been a Christian gain nothing by renouncing it; whether the mere name, if unaccompanied with crimes, or crimes associated with the name, should be punished. Meanwhile, with those who have been brought before me as Christians I have pursued the following course. I have asked them if they were Christians, and if they have confessed, I have asked them a second and third time, threatening them with punishment; if they have persisted, I have commanded them to be led away to punishment. For I did not doubt that whatever that might be which they confessed, at any rate pertinacious and inflexible obstinacy ought to be punished. There have been others afflicted with like insanity who as Roman citizens I have decided should be sent to Rome. In the course of the proceedings, as commonly happens, the crime was extended, and many varieties of cases appeared. An anonymous document was published, containing the names of many persons. Those who denied that they were or had been Christians I thought ought to be released, when they had followed my example in invoking the gods and offering incense and wine to thine image,-which I had for that purpose ordered brought with the images of the gods,-and when they had besides cursed Christ-things which they say that those who are truly Christians cannot be compelled to do. Others, accused by an informer, first said that they were Christians and afterwards denied it, saying that they had indeed been Christians, but had ceased to be, some three years, some several years, and one even twenty years before. All adored thine image and the statues of the gods, and cursed Christ. Moreover, they affirmed that this was the sum of their guilt or error; that they had been accustomed to come together on a fixed day before daylight and to sing responsively a song unto Christ as God; and to bind themselves with an oath, not with a view to the commission of some crime, but, on the contrary, that they would not commit theft, nor robbery, nor adultery, that they would not break faith, nor refuse to restore a deposit when asked for it. When they had done these things, their custom was to separate and to assemble again to partake of a meal, common yet harmless (which is not the characteristic of a nefarious superstition); but this they had ceased to do after my edict, in which according to thy demands I had prohibited fraternities. I therefore considered it the more necessary to examine, even with the use of torture, two female slaves who were called deaconesses (ministrae), in order to ascertain the truth. But I found nothing except a superstition depraved and immoderate; and therefore, postponing further inquiry, I have turned to thee for advice. For the matter seems to me worth consulting about, especially on account of the number of persons involved. For many of every age and of every rank and of both sexes have been already, and will be brought to trial. For the contagion of this superstition has permeated not only the cities, but also the villages and even the country districts. Yet it can apparently be arrested and corrected. At any rate, it is certainly a fact that the temples, which were almost deserted, are now beginning to be frequented, and the sacred rites, which were for a long time interrupted, to be resumed, and fodder for the victims to be sold, for which previously hardly a purchaser was to be found. From which it is easy to gather how great a multitude of men may be reformed if there is given a chance for repentance."
The reply of Trajan-commonly called "Trajan's Rescript"-reads as follows: "Thou hast followed the right course, my Secundus, in treating the cases of those who have been brought before thee as Christians. For no fixed rule can be laid down which shall be applicable to all cases. They are not to be searched for; if they are accused and convicted, they are to be punished; nevertheless, with the proviso that he who denies that he is a Christian, and proves it by his act (re ipsa),-i.e. by making supplication to our gods,-although suspected in regard to the past, may by repentance obtain pardon. Anonymous accusations ought not to be admitted in any proceedings; for they are of most evil precedent, and are not in accord with our age."
330 ama th ew diegeiromenouj. See note 9, below.