Early Church Fathers
33 On the life and writings of Hegesippus, see below, chap. 22, note 1. Eusebius in this passage puts his literary activity too early (see above, chap. 7, note 10). Jerome follows Eusebius' chronological arrangement in his de vir ill., giving an account of Hegesippus in chap. 22, between his accounts of Agrippa Castor and Justin Martyr.
34 Already quoted in Bk. II. chap. 23, and in Bk. III. chap. 32.
35 Antinoüs, a native of Bithynia, was a beautiful page of the Emperor Hadrian, and the object of his extravagant affections. He was probably drowned in the Nile, in 130 a.d. After his death he was raised to the rank of the gods, and temples were built for his worship in many parts of the empire, especially in Egypt. In Athens too games were instituted in his honor, and games were also celebrated every fifth year at Mantinea, in Arcadia, according to Vale. sius, who cites Pausanias as his authority.
36 Hadrian rebuilt the city of Bess in the Thebais, in whose neighborhood Antino_s was drowned, and called it Antinoüpolis.
37 On Justin Martyr, see chap. 16, below. We do not know the date of his conversion, but as it did not take place until mature years, it is highly probable that he was still a heathen during the greater part of Hadrian's reign. There is no reason, however, to suppose that Eusebius is speaking here with more than approximate accuracy. He may not have known any better than we the exact time of Justin's conversion.
38 Justin, Apol. I. 29.
39 Justin, Apol. I. 31.
40 xristianouj monouj. "This `alone0' is, as Münter remarks, not to be understood as implying that Barcocheba did not treat the Greeks and Romans also with cruelty, but that he persecuted the Christians especially, from religious hate, if he could not compel them to apostatize. Moreover, he handled the Christians so roughly because of their hesitation to take part in the rebellion" (Closs).
41 epithn qeosbeian.
42 Justin, Apol. II. 12. Eusebius here quotes from what is now known as the Second Apology of Justin, but identifies it with the first, from which he has quoted just above. This implies that the two as he knew them formed but one work, and this is confirmed by his quotations in chaps. 16 and 47, below. For a discussion of this matter, see chap. 18, note 3.
43 The best mss. of Eusebius write the name Serennioj Granianoj, but one ms., supported by Syncellus, writes the first word "Serenio". Rufinus writes "Serenius"; Jerome, in his version of Eusebius' Chronicle, followed by Orosius (VII. 13), writes "Serenius Granius," and this, according to Kortholdt (quoted by Heinichen), is shown by an inscription to have been the correct form (see Heinichen's edition, in loco). We know no more of this man, except that he was Minucius Fundanus' predecessor as proconsul of Asia, as we learn from the opening sentence of the rescript quoted in the next chapter.
44 grammata. The plural is often used like the Latin literae to denote a single epistle and we learn from the opening sentence of the rescript itself (if the Greek of Eusebius is to be relied on) that Hadrian replies, not to a number of letters, but to a single one,-an epistolh, as Eusebius calls it.
46 This Minucius Fundanus is the same person that is addressed by Pliny, Ep. I. 9 (see Mommsen's note in Keil's ed. of Pliny's epistles, p. 419). He is mentioned also by Melito (Eusebius, IV. 26) as proconsul of Asia, and it is there said that Hadrian wrote to him concerning the Christians. The authenticity of this rescript is a disputed point. Keim (Theol. Jahrbücher, 1856, p. 387 sqq.) was the first to dispute its genuineness. He has been followed by many scholars, especially Overbeck, who gives a very keen discussion of the various edicts of the early emperors relating to the Christians in his Studien zur Gesch. der alten Kirche, I. p. 93 sqq. The genuineness of the edict, however, has been defended against Keim's attack by Wieseler, Renan, Lightfoot, and others. The whole question hinges upon the interpretation of the rescript. According to Gieseler, Neander, and some others, it is aimed only against tumultuous proceedings, and, far from departing from the principle laid down by Trajan, is an attempt to return to that principle and to substitute orderly judicial processes for popular attacks. If this be the sense of the edict, there is no reason to doubt its genuineness, but the next to the last sentence certainly cannot be interpreted in that way: "if any one therefore brings an accusation, and shows that they have done something contrary to the laws (ti para touj nomouj) determine thus according to the heinousness of the crime" (kata thn dunamin tou amarthmatoj). These last words are very significant. They certainly imply various crimes of which the prisoners are supposed to be accused. According to the heinousness of these crimes the punishment is to be regulated. In other words, the trial of the Christians was to be for the purpose of ascertaining whether they were guilty of moral or political crimes, not whether they merely professed Christianity; that is, the profession of Christianity, according to this rescript, is not treated as a crime in and of itself. If the edict then be genuine, Hadrian reversed completely Trajan's principle of procedure which was to punish the profession of Christianity in andof itself as a crime. But in the time of Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius the rescript of Trajan is seen still to be in full force. For this and other reasons presented by Keim and Overbeck, I am constrained to class this edict with those of Antoninus Plus and Marcus Aurelius as a forgery. It can hardly have been composed while Hadrian was still alive, but must have been forged before Justin wrote his Apology, for he gives it as a genuine edict, i.e. it must belong to the early part of the reign of Antoninus Pius.
The illusion under which the early Christian writers labored in regard to the relations of the emperors to Christianity is very remarkable. Both Melito and Tertullian state that no emperor had persecuted the Christians except Nero and Domitian. Christian writers throughout the second century talk in fact as if the mode of treatment which they were receiving was something new and strange, and in opposition to the better treatment which previous emperors had accorded the Christians. In doing this, they ignore entirely the actual edicts of the emperors, all of which are now lost and notice only forged edicts which are favorable to the Christians; when and by, whom they were forged we do not know. Thus Tertullian, in addressing Septimius Severus, speaks of the favors which his predecessors had granted the Christians and contrasts their conduct with his; Melito addresses Marcus Aurelius in the same way, and so Justin addresses Antoninus Plus. This method probably arose from a misunderstandings of the original edict of Trajan (cf. Bk. III. chap. 33, note 6), which they all considered favorable, and therefore presupposed a friendly attitude on the part of the emperors toward the Christians, which, not finding in their own age, they naturally transferred to a previous age. This led gradually to the idea-which Lactantius first gives precise expression to-that only the bad emperors persecuted Christianity, while the good ones were favorable to it. But after the empire became Christian, the belief became common that all the heathen emperors had been persecutors, the good as well as the bad;-all the Christian emperors were placed upon one level, and all the heathen on another, the latter being looked upon, like Nero and Domitian, as wicked tyrants. Compare Overbeck, l.c.
47 Our two mss. of Justin have substituted the Greek translation of Eusebius for the Latin original given by the former. Rufinus, however, in his version of Eusebius' History, gives a Latin translation which is very likely the original one. Compare Kimmel's De Rufino, p. 175 sq., and Lightfoot's Ignatius, I. p. 463 sq., and see Otto's Corpus Apol. I. p. 190 sq., where the edict is given, both in the Greek of our mss. of Justin and in the Latin of Rufinus. Keim (Aus dean Urchristenthum, p. 184 sq.) contends that the Latin of Rufinus is not the original, but a translation of Eusebius' Greek. His arguments, however, do not possess any real weight, and the majority of scholars accept Kimmel's view.
48 Justin, Apol. I. 68.
49 We cannot judge as to the faithfulness of the Greek translation which follows, because we are not absolutely sure whether the Latin of Rufinus is its original, or itself a translation of it. Eusebius and Rufinus, however, agree very well, and if the Latin of Rufinus is the original of Eusebius' translation, the latter has succeeded much better than the Greek translator of the Apology of Tertullian referred to in Bk. II. chap. 2, above. We should expect, however, that much greater pains would be taken with the translation of a brief official document of this kind than with such a work as Tertullian's Apology, and Eusebius' translation of the rescript does not by any means prove that he was a fluent Latin scholar. As remarked above (Bk. II. chap. 5, note 9), he probably had comparatively little acquaintance with the Latin, but enough to enable him to translate brief passages for himself in cases of necessity.
50 Greek, epistolhn; Latin, litteras.
51 Greek, oi anqrwpoi; Latin, innoxii.
52 This is the only really suspicious sentence in the edict. That Hadrian should desire to protect his Christian subjects as well as others from tumultuous and illegal proceedings, and from unfounded accusations, would be of course qutte natural, and quite in accord with the spirit shown by Trajan in his rescript. But in this one sentence he implies that the Christians are to be condemned only for actual crimes, and that the mere profession of Christianity is not in itself a punishable offense. Much, therefore, as we might otherwise be tempted to accept the edict as genuine,-natural as the style is and the position taken in the other portions of it,-this one sentence, considered in the light of all that we know of the attitude of Hadrian's predecessors and successors toward the Christians, and of all that we can gather of his own views, must, as I believe, condemn it as a forgery.
53 Compare this sentence with the closing words of the forged edict of Antoninus Pius quoted by Eusebius in chap. 13. Not only are the Christians to be released, but their accusers are to be punished. Still there is a difference between the two commands in that here only an accusation made with the purpose of slander is to be punished, while there the accuser is to he unconditionally held as guilty, if actual crimes are not proved against the accused Christian. The latter command would be subversive of all justice, and brands itself as a counterfeit on its very face; but in the present case the injunction to enforce the law forbidding slander against those who should slanderously accuse the Christians is not inconsistent with the principles of Trajan and Hadrian, and hence not of itself alone an evidence of ungenuineness.
54 Greek, opwj an ekdikhseiaj; Latin, suppliciis severioribus vindices.
55 Hadrian reigned from Aug. 8, 117, to July to, 138 a.d.
56 On Telesphorns, see above, chap. 5, note 13. The date given here by Eusebius (138-139 a.d.) is probably (as remarked there) at least a year too late.
57 We know very little about Hyginus. His dates can be fixed with tolerable certainty as 137-141, the duration of his episcopate being four years, as Eusebius states in the next chapter. See Lipsius' Chron. d. röm. Bischöfe, p. 169 and 263. The Roman martyrologies make him a martyr, but this means nothing, as the early bishops of Rome almost without exception are called martyrs by these documents. The forged decretals ascribe to him the introduction of a number of ecclesiastical rites.
58 In his Adv. Haer. III. 3. 3. The testimony of Irenaeus rests upon Roman tradition at this point, and is undoubtedly reliable. Telesphorus is the first Roman bishop whom we know to have suffered martyrdom, although the Roman Catholic Church celebrates as martyrs all the so-called popes down to the fourth century.
59 On Valentinus, Cerdon, and Marcion, see the next chapter.
60 Irenaes, Adv. Haer. III. 4. 3.
61 Valentinus is the best known of the Gnostics. According to Epiphanius (Haer. 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 Irenaeus 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 numerons 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.
62 Cerdon is best known as the teacher of Marcion. Epiphanius (Haer. XLI.) and Philaster (Haer. 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 Cordon and Marcion together, making no attempt to distinguish their doctrines. Irenaeus, in the passage quoted, and the lost Syntagma of Hippolytus (represented by Pseudo-Tertullian's Adv. Haer. 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.
63 Of Germanicus we know only what is told us in this epistle.
64 This proconsul was Statius Quadratus, as we are told in the latter part of this epistle, in a passage which Eusebius does not quote. Upon his dates, see the discussions of the date of Polycarp's martyrdom mentioned in note 2, above.
65 Compare Justin Martyr's Apol. I. 6; Tertullian's Apol. 10, &c.; and see chap. 7, note 20, above.
66 Of Quintus we know only what is told us in this epistle. It is significant that he was a Phrygian, for the Phrygians were proverbially excitable and fanatical, and it was among them that Montanism took its rise. The conduct of Polycarp, who avoided death as long as he could without dishonor, was in great contrast to this; and it is noticeable that the Smyrnaeans condemn Quintus' hasty and ill-considered action, and that Eusebius echoes their judgment (see above, p. 8).
67 Sabbaton megalou. "The great Sabbath" in the Christian Church, at least from the time of Chrysostom on, was the Saturday between Good-Friday and Easter. But so far as we know, there are no examples of that use of the phrase earlier than Chrysostom's time. Lightfoot points out that, in the present instance, it is not "The great Sabbath" (to mega Sabbaton), but only "A great Sabbath"; and therefore, in the present instance, any great Sabbath might be meant,-that is, any Sabbath which coincided with a festival or other marked day in the Jewish calendar. Lightfoot gives strong reasons for assuming that the traditional day of Polycarp's death (Feb. 23) is correct, and that the Sabbath referred to here was a great Sabbath because it coincided with the Feast of Purim (see Lightfoot, ibid. I. p. 660 sqq. and 690 sqq.).
68 Of Herod and Nicetes we know only what is told us in this epistle. The latter was not an uncommon name in Smyrna, as we learn from inscriptions (see Lightfoot, ibid. II. p. 958).
69 eirhnarxoj (see Lightfoot, ibid. p. 955).
70 Compare Joshua i. 6, Joshua i. 7, Joshua i. 9, and Deut. i. 7, Deut. i. 23.
71 thn Kaisaroj tuxhn. This oath was invented under Julius Caesar, and continued under his successors. The oath was repudiated by the Christians, who regarded the "genius" of the emperor as a false God, and therefore the taking of the oath a species of idolatry. It was consequently employed very commonly by the magistrates as a test in times of persecution (cf. Tertullian, Apol. 32; Origen, Contra Cels. VIII. 65, and many other passages).
72 See above, chap. 14, note 5. Whether the eighty-six years are to be reckoned from Polycarp's birth, or from the time of his conversion or baptism, we cannot tell. At the same time, inasmuch as he speaks of serving Christ, for eighty-six years, not God, I am inclined to think that he is reckoning from the time of his conversion or baptism, which may well be if we suppose him to have been baptized in early boyhood.
73 See Rom. xiii. 1 sq., 1 Pet. ii. 13 sq.
74 timhn ...thn mh blaptousan hmaj. Compare Pseudo-Ignatius, ad Antioch. 11, and Mart. Ignat. Rom. 6 (in both of which are found the words en oij akindunoj h uupotagh).
75 The proconsul made quite a concession here. He would have been glad to have Polycarp quiet the multitude if he could. Polycarp was not reckless and foolish in refusing to make the attempt, for he knew it would fail, and he preferred to retain his dignity and not compromise himself by appearing to ask for mercy.
76 The Jews appear very frequently as leading spirits in the persecution of Christians. The persecution under Nero was doubtless due to their instigation (see Bk. II. chap. 25, note 4). Compare also Tertullian, Scorp. 10, and Eusebius, H. E. V. 16. That the Jews were numerous in Smyrna has been shown by Lightfoot, ibid. p. 966.
77 "The Asiarch was the head of the Commune Asiae, the confederation of the principal cities of the Roman province of Asia. As such, he was the `chief priest0' of Asia, and president of the games" (Lightfoot, ibid. p. 967; on p. 987 ff. of the same volume, Lightfoot discusses the Asiarchate at considerable length). The Asiarch Philip mentioned here was a Trallian, as we learn from a statement toward the close of the epistle, which Eusebius does not quote; Lightfoot identifies him with a person named in various Trallian Inscriptions.