Click to View

Early Church Fathers
Click to ViewMaster Index
Click to ViewPower Search

 Click to View

28 Dionysius, in following this vision, was but showing himself a genuine disciple of his master Origen, and exhibiting the true spirit of the earlier Alexandrian school.

29 wj apostolikh fwnh suntrexon ...ginesqe dokimoi trapezitai. This saying, sometimes in the brief form given here, sometimes as part of a longer sentence (e.g. in Clement of Alex. Strom. I. 28, ginesqe de dokimoi trapezitai, ta men apodokimazontej, to de kalon katexontej), appears very frequently in the writings of the Fathers. In some cases it is cited (in connection with 1 Thess. v. 21, 1 Thess. v. 22) on the authority of Paul (in the present case as an "apostolic word"), in other cases on the authority of "Scripture" (h grafh, or gegraptai, or qeioj logoj), in still more cases as an utterance of Christ himself. There can be little doubt that Christ really did utter these words, and that the words used by Paul in 1 Thess. v. 21, 1 Thess. v. 22, were likewise spoken by Christ in the same connection. We may, in fact, with considerable confidence recognize in these words part of a genuine extra-canonical saying of Christ, which was widely current in the early Church. We are to explain the words then not as so many have done, as merely based upon the words of Christ, reported in Matt. XXV. 12 sq., or upon the words of Paul already referred to, but as an actual utterance of the Master. Moreover, we may, since Resch's careful discussion of the whole subject of the Agrapha (or extra-canonical sayings of Christ), with considerable confidence assume that these words were handed down to post-apostolic times not in an apocryphal gospel, nor by mere oral tradition, but in the original Hebrew Matthew, of which Papias and many others tell us, and which is probably to be looked upon as a pre-canonical gospel, with the "Ur-Marcus" the main source of our present gospels of Matthew and Luke, and through the "Ur-Marcus" one of the sources of our present Gospel of Mark. Looked upon in this light these words quoted by Dionysius become of great interest to us. They (or a part of the same saying) are quoted more frequently by the Fathers than any other of the Agrapha (Resch, on p. 116 sq. gives 69 instances). Their interpretation, in connection with the words of Paul in 1 Thess. V. 21, 1 Thess. V. 22, has been very satisfactorily discussed by Hänsel in the Studien und Kritiken, 1836, p. 170 sq. They undoubtedly mean that we are to test and to distinguish between the true and the false, the good and the bad, as a skillful money-changer distinguishes good and bad coins. For a full discussion of this utterance, and for an exhibition of the many other patristic passages in which it occurs, see the magnificent work of Alfred Resch, Agrapha: Aussercanonische Evangelienfragmente, in Gebhardt and Harnack's Texte und Untersuchungen, Bd. V. Heft 4, Leipzig, 1889; the most complete and satisfactory discussion of the whole subject of the Agrapha which we have.

30 papa. According to Suicer (Thesaurus) all bishops in the Occident as late as the fifth century were called Papae as a mark of honor and though the term by that time had begun to be used in a distinctive sense of the bishop of Rome, the older usage continued in parts of the West outside of Italy, until Gregory VII. (a.d. 1075) forbade the use of the name for any other than the pope. In the East the word was used for a long time as the especial title of the bishops of Alexandria and of Rome (see Suicer's Thesaurus and Gieseler's Church Hist. Harper's edition, I. p. 499).

31 On Heraclas, see Bk. VI. chap. 3, note 2.

32 Compare Cyprian's epistle to Quintus concerning the baptism of heretics (Ep. 70, al. 71). Cyprian there takes the position stated here, that those who have been baptized in the Church and have afterward gone over to heresy and then returned again to the Church are not to be re-baptized, but to be received with the laying on of hands only. This of course does not at all invalidate the position of Cyprian and the others who re-baptized heretics, for they baptized heretics not because they had been heretics, but because they had not received true baptism, nor indeed any baptism at all, which it was impossible, in their view, for a heretic to give. They therefore repudiated (as Cyprian does in the epistle referred to) the term re-baptism, denying that they re-baptized anybody.

33 Namely the re-baptism (or, as they would say, the baptism) of those who had received baptism only at the hands of heretics standing without the communion of the Church.

34 Iconium was the principal city of Lycaonia, and Synnada a city of Phrygia. The synod of Iconium referred to here is mentioned also by Firmilian in his epistle to Cyprian, §§7 and 19 (Cypriani Ep. 74, al. 75). From that epistle we learn that the synod was attended by bishops from Phrygia, Cilicia, Galatia, and other countries, and that heretical baptism was entirely rejected by it. Moreover, we learn that Firmilian himself was present at the synod, and that it was held a considerable time before the writing of his epistle. This leads us to place the synod between 230 (on Firmilian's dates, see above, Bk. VI. chap. 26, note 3) and 240 or 250. Since it took place a considerable time before Firmilian wrote, it can hardly have been held much later than 240. Of the synod of Synnada, we know nothing. It very likely took place about the same time. See Hefele's Conciliengesch. I. p. 107 sq. Dionysius was undoubtedly correct in appealing to ancient custom for the practice which he supported (see above, chap. 2, note 3).

35 fhsi, i.e. "The Scripture saith."

36 Deut. xix. 14.

37 On Dionysius' other epistles on baptism, see above, chap. 5, note 6.

38 On Dionysius of Rome, see below, chap. 27, note 2.

39 The majority of the mss.; have Noouatianw, a few Nauatianw. This is the only place in which the name Novatian occurs in Eusebius' History, and here it is used not by Eusebius himself but by Dionysius. Eusebius, in referring to the same man, always calla him Novatus (see above, Bk. VI. chap. 43, note 1). Upon Novatian and his schism, see the same note.

40 loutron. That Novatian re-baptized all those who came over to him from the Church is stated by Cyprian in his epistle to Jubaianus, §2 (No. 72, al. 73). His principle was similar to that which later actuated the Donatists, namely, that baptism is valid only when performed by priests of true and approved Christian character. Denying, then, that those who defiled themselves and did despite to God s holy Church by communing with the lapsed were true Christians, he could not do otherwise than reject their baptism as quite invalid.

41 It was the custom from a very early period to cause the candidate for baptism to go through a certain course of training of greater or less length, and to require him to assent to a formulated statement of belief before the administration of the sacred rite. Thus we learn from the Didache that even as early as the very beginning of the second century the custom of pre-baptismal training was already in vogue, and we know that by the third century the system of catechetical instruction was a highly developed thing, extending commonly over two to three years. Candidates for baptism were then known as catechumens. So far as a baptismal creed or confession of faith is concerned, Caspari (see his great work, Studien zur Gesch. des Taufsymbols) has shown that such a creed was in use in the Roman church before the middle of the second century, and that it formed the basis of what we know as the Apostles' Creed, which in the form in which we have it is a later development.

Inasmuch as Novatian, so far as we can learn, was perfectly orthodox on matters of faith, he would not have cared to make any alteration in such a creed as the present Apostles' Creed. Exactly what Dionysius means in the present case is not certain. It is possible that he is simply speaking in general terms, assuming that if Novatian does not accept the Church baptism, he must overturn and pervert with it the instruction which had preceded; or it may be that he is thinking of that form of confession to which the candidate was required to give his assent, according to Cyprian, Ep. 69 (al. 70): credis in vitam oeternam et remissionem peccatorum per sanctam ecclesiam? "Dost thou believe in eternal life and remission of sins through the holy Church?" The latter is the view of Valesius, who is followed by all others that have discussed the passage so far as I am aware. Of course Novatian could not put the last clause of this question to his converts, and hence Dionysius may have been thinking of this omission in using the words he does. At the same time I confess myself unable to agree with others in interpreting him thus. In the first place, it is, to say the least, very doubtful whether the question quoted above from Cyprian formed an article in the baptismal confession of the Church in general. It does not appear in the Apostles' Creed, and can therefore hardly have formed a part of the earlier Roman formula which underlay that. And so far as I am aware there are no traces of the use of such an article in the church of Alexandria. In the second place, Dionysius' language seems to me too general to admit of such a particular application. Had he been thinking of one especial article of the confession, as omitted or altered by Novatian, he would, in my opinion, have given some indication of it. I am, therefore, inclined to take his words in the most general sense, suggested as possible just above.

42 These last clauses are, according to Valesius, fraught with difficulty. He interprets the autwn ("entirely banished from them") as referring to the lapsi, and interpreted thus I find the passage not simply difficult, as he does, but incomprehensible. But I confess myself again unable to accept his interpretation. To me the autwn seems not to refer to the lapsi, to whom there has been no direct reference in this fragment quoted by Eusebius, but rather to Novatian's converts, to whom reference is made in the previous sentence, and who are evidently in the mind of the writer in referring to Novatian's baptism in the first clause of the present sentence. It seems to me that Dionysius means simply to say that in rejecting the baptism of the Church, and the "faith and confession which precede it," Novatian necessarily drove away from his converts the Holy Spirit, who works in and through right confession and true baptism. The meaning of the words "if, indeed, there was any hope," &c., thus becomes very clear; Dionysius does not believe, of course, that the Holy Spirit would remain with those who should leave the Church to go with Novatian, but even if he should remain, he would be driven entirely away from them when they blasphemed him and denied his work, by rejecting the true baptism and submitting to another baptism without the Church.

43 i.e. his fifth epistle on the subject of baptism (see above, chap. 5, note 6). The sixth, likewise addressed to Xystus, is mentioned below in §6.

44 On Xystus II. of Rome, see chap 5, note 5.

45 On Heraclas, see above Bk. VI. chap. 3, note 2.

46 See the previous chapter, note 3.

47 The reference here, of course, is not to the Novatians, because this old man, who had been a regular attendant upon the orthodox Church since the time of Heraclas, if not before, had been baptized by the heretics long before Novatian arose. The epistle seems to contain no reference to Novatian; at least, the fragment which we have is dealing with an entirely different subject.

48 Dittrich finds in this epistle an evidence that Dionysius was not fully convinced of the advisability of re-baptizing converts from heretical bodies, that he wavered in fact between the Eastern and the Roman practices, but I am unable to see that the epistle implies anything of the kind. It is not that he doubts the necessity of re-baptism in ordinary cases,-he is not discussing that subject at all,-the question is, does long communion itself take the place of baptism; does not a man, unwittingly baptized, gain through such communion the grace from the Spirit which is ordinarily conveyed in baptism, and might not the rite of baptism at so late a date be an insult to the Spirit, who might have been working through the sacrament of the eucharist during all these years? It is this question which Dionysius desires to have Xystus assist him in answering-a question which has nothing to do, in Dionysius' mind, with the validity or non-validity of heretical baptism, for it will be noticed that he does not base his refusal to baptize the man upon the fact that he has already been baptized, partially, or imperfectly, or in any other way, but solely upon the fact that he has for so long been partaking of the eucharist.

49 On Dionysius of Rome, see chap. 27, note 2.

50 So many Lucians of this time are known to us that we cannot speak with certainty as to the identity of the one referred to here. But it may perhaps be suggested that the well-known Carthaginian Confessor is meant, who caused Cyprian so much trouble by granting letters of pardon indiscriminately to the lapsed, in defiance of regular custom and of Cyprian's authority (see Cypriani Ep. 16, 17, 20, 21, 22; al. 23, 26, 21, 22, 27). If this be the Lucian referred to, the epistle must have discussed the lapsi, and the conditions upon which they were to be received again into the Church. That the epistle did not, like the one mentioned just before, have to do with the subject of baptism, seems clear from the fact that it is not numbered among the epistles on that subject, as six others are.

51 oi amfi ton Gallon. Eusebius is undoubtedly referring to Gallus, Volusian, his son and co-regent, and Aemilian, his enemy and successor. Gallus himself, with his son Volusian, whom he made Caesar and co-regent, reigned from the latter part of the year 251 to about the middle of the year 253, when the empire was usurped by Aemilian, and he and his son were slain. Aemilian was recognized by the senate as the legal emperor, but within four months Valerian, Gallus' leading general,-who had already been proclaimed emperor by his legions,-revenged the murder of Gallus and came to the throne. Valerian reigned until 260, when his son Gallienus, who had been associated with him in the government from the beginning, succeeded him and reigned until 268.

52 Upon this epistle, see above, chap. 1, note 3.

53 Rev. xiii. 5.

54 Philip was the only emperor before this time that was openly said to have been a Christian (see above, Bk. VI. chap. 34, note 2). Alexander Severus was very favorable to the Christians, and Eusebius may have been thinking of him also in this connection.

55 viz. Macrianus, one of the ablest of Valerian's generals, who had acquired great influence over him and had been raised by him to the highest position in the army and made his chief counselor. Dionysius is the only one to tell us that he was the chief of the Egyptian magicians. Gibbon doubts the statement, but Macrianus may well have been an Egyptian by birth and devoted, as so many of the Egyptians were, to arts of magic, and have gained power over Valerian in this way which he could have gained in no other. It is not necessary of course to understand Dionysius' words as implying that Macrianus was officially at the head of the body of Egyptian magicians, but simply that he was the greatest, or one of the greatest, of them. He figures in our other sources simply as a military and political character, but it was natural for Dionysius to emphasize his addiction to magic, though he could hardly have done it had Macrianus' practices in this respect not been commonly known.

56 The persecution which the Christians suffered under Valerian was more terrible than any other except that of Diocletian. Numerous calamities took place during his reign. The barbarians were constantly invading and ravaging the borders of the empire, and on the east the Persians did great damage. Still worse was the terrible plague which had begun in the reign of Decius and raged for about fifteen years. All these calamities aroused the religious fears of the emperor. Dionysius tells us that he was induced by Macrianus to have recourse to human sacrifices and other similar means of penetrating the events of the future, and when these rites failed, the presence of Christians-irreligious men hated by the gods-in the imperial family was urged as the reason for the failure, and thus the hostility of the emperor was aroused against all Christians. As a consequence an edict was published in 257 requiring all persons to conform at least outwardly to the religion of Rome on the penalty of exile. And at the same time the Christians were prohibited from holding religious services, upon pain of death. In 258 followed a rescript of terrible severity. Only the clergy and the higher ranks of the laity were attacked, but they were sentenced to death if they refused to repent, and the clergy, apparently, whether they repented or not. The persecution continued until Valerian's captivity, which took place probably late in 260. The dates during this period are very uncertain, but Dionysius' statement that the persecution continued forty-two months is probably not far out of the way; from late in the year 257 to the year 261, when it was brought to an end by Gallienus. In Egypt and the Orient the persecution seems to have continued a few months longer than elsewhere (see chap. 13, note 3). The martyrs were very numerous during the Valerian persecution, especially in Rome and Africa. The most noted were Cyprian and Xystus II. On the details of the persecution, see Tillemont, H. E. IV. p. 1 sq.

57 i.e. the evil spirits. As Valesius remarks, the meaning is that since the evil spirits had promised him power, he showed his gratitude to them by inducing the Emperor Valerian to persecute the Christians.

58 epi twn kaqolou logwn. The phrase is equivalent to the Latin Rationalis or Procurator summae rei, an official who had charge of the imperial finances, and who might be called either treasurer or finance minister. The position which Macrianus held seems to have been the highest civil position in the empire (cf. Valesius' note ad locum). Gibbon calls him Praetorian Prefect, and since he was the most famous of Valerian's generals, he doubtless held that position also, though I am not aware that any of our sources state that he did.

59 The Greek contains a play upon the words kaqolou and logoj in this sentence. It reads oj proteron men epi twn kaqolou logwn legomenoj einai basilewj, ouden eulogon oude kaqolikon efronhsen. The play upon the word kaqolou continues in the next sentence, where the Greek runs to kaqolou mh blepousin, and in the following, where it reads ou gar sunhke thn kaqolou pronoian. Again in the next sentence the adjective kaqolikh occurs: "his universal Church."

60 Ezek. xiii. 3.

61 kaqolikhj, "catholic" in the sense of "general" or "universal," the play upon the word still continuing.

62 Makrianoj. The Greek word makran means "far," "at a distance."

63 Isa. lxvi. 3, Isa. lxvi. 4.

64 i.e. Macrianus.

65 Valerian reposed complete confidence in Macrianus and followed his advice in the conduct of the wars against the Persians. The result was that by Macrianus' "weak or wicked counsels the imperial army was betrayed into a situation where valor and military skill were equally unavailing." (Gibbon.) Dionysius, in chap. 23, below, directly states that Macrianus betrayed Valerian, and this is the view of the case commonly taken. Valerian fell into the hands of the Persians (late in 260 a.d.), and Macrianus was proclaimed emperor by his troops, and on account of his lameness (as both Dionysius and Zonaras put it) or his age, associated with him his two sons, Quietus and Macrianus. After some months he left his son Quietus in charge of Syria, and designing to make himself master of the Occident, marched with his son Macrianus against Gallienus, but was met in Illyrium by the Pretender Aureolus (262) and defeated, and both himself and son slain. His son Quietus meanwhile was besieged in Edessa by the Pretender Odenathus and slain. Cf. Tillemont's Histoire des Empereurs, III. p. 333 sq. and p. 340 sq.

66 Ex. xx. 5.

67 hutuxei. Three mss., followed by Stephanus, Valesius, Burton, Stroth (and by the translators Closs, Crusè, and Salmond in the Ante-Nicene Fathers, VI. p. 107), read htuxei, "failed" ("in whose gratification he failed"). hutuxei, however, is supported by overwhelming ms. authority, and is adopted by Schwegler and Heinichen, and approved by Valesius in his notes. It seems at first sight the harder reading, and is, therefore, in itself to be preferred to the easier reading, htuxei. Although it seems harder, it is really fully in accord with what has preceded. Macrianus had not made himself emperor (if Dionysius is to be believed), but he had succeeded fully in his desires, in that he had raised his sons to the purple. If he had acquired such power as to be able to do that, he must have given them the position, because he preferred to govern in that way; and if that be so, be could hardly be said to have failed in his desires.

68 On Germanus, and Dionysius' epistle to him, see above, Bk. VI. chap. 40, note 2.

69 Literally "it says" (fhsi), a common formula in quoting from Scripture.

70 Tob. xii. 7.

71 This Aemilianus, prefect of Egypt, under whom the persecution was carried on in Alexandria during Valerian's reign, later, during the reign of Gallienus, was induced (or compelled) by the troops of Alexandria to revolt against Gallienus, and assume the purple himself. He was defeated, however, by Theodotus, Gal-lienus' general, and was put to death in prison, in what year we do not know. Cf. Tillemont's Hist. des Emp. III. p. 342 sq.

72 Maximus is mentioned a number of times in this chapter in connection with the persecution. After the death of Dionysius he succeeded him as bishop of Alexandria, and as such is referred to below, in chaps. 28, 30, and 32. For the dates of his episcopate, see chap. 28, note 10.

73 On Faustus, see above, Bk. VI. chap. 40, note 10.

74 In regard to this deacon Eusebius, who later became bishop of Laodicea, see chap. 32, note 12.

75 Chaeremon is mentioned three times in the present chapter, but we have no other reliable information in regard to him.

76 We may gather from §11, below, that Germanus had accused Dionysius of neglecting to hold the customary assemblies, and of seeking safety by flight. Valesius, in his note ad locum, remarks, "Dionysius was accused by Germanus of neglecting to hold the assemblies of the brethren before the beginning of the persecution, and of providing for his own safety by flight. For as often as persecution arose the bishops were accustomed first to convene the people, that they might exhort them to hold fast to their faith in Christ. Then they baptized infants and catechumens, that they might not depart this life without baptism, and they gave the eucharist to the faithful, because they did not know how long the persecution might last." Valesius refers for confirmation of his statements to an epistle sent to Pope Hormisdas, by Germanus and others, in regard to Dorotheus, bishop of Thessalonica (circa a.d. 519). I have not been able to verify the reference. The custom mentioned by Valesius is certainly a most natural one, and therefore Valesius' statements are very likely quite true, though there seems to be little direct testimony upon which to rest them.

77 Acts v. 29.

78 We learn from §10, below, that Cephro was in Libya. Beyond this nothing is known of the place so far as I am aware.

79 This Marcellus, the only one not mentioned in §3, above, is an otherwise unknown person.

80 twn para fusin. That the twn refers to "gods" (viz. the gods of the Christians, Aemilianus thinking of them as plural) seems clear, both on account of the qeouj just preceding, and also in view of the fact that in §9 we have the phrase twn kata fusin qewn. A contrast, therefore, is drawn in the present case between the gods of the heathen and those of the Christians.

81 koimhthria; literally, "sleeping-places." The word was used only in this sense in classic Greek; but the Christians, looking upon death only as a sleep, early applied the name to their burial places; hence Aemilian speaks of them as the "so-called (kaloumena) cemeteries."

82 See above, note 9.

83 wj eipein, a reading approved by Valesius in his notes, and adopted by Schwegler and Heinichen. This and the readings wj eipen, "as he said" (adopted by Stroth, Zimmermann, and Laemmer), and wj eipon, "as I said" (adopted by Stephanus, Valesius in his text, and Burton), are about equally supported by ms. authority, while some mss. read wj eipen o apostoloj, "as the apostle said." It is impossible to decide with any degree of assurance between the first three readings.

84 1 Cor. v. 3.

85 Col. iv. 3.

Click Your Choice