Part 5 out of 7
considerable step between this and calling the whole of the Old
Testament 'Scriptures of the Lord.' On the other hand, we can
hardly think that Dionysius refers to a complete collection of
writings like the New Testament. It seems most natural to suppose
that he is speaking of Gospels--possibly not the canonical alone,
and yet, with Irenaeus in our mind's eye, we shall say probably to
them. There is the further reason for this application of the
words that Dionysius is known to have written against Marcion--'he
defended the canon of the truth' [Endnote 243:1], Eusebius says--
and such 'tampering' as he describes was precisely what Marcion
had been guilty of.
* * * * *
The reader will judge for himself what is the weight of the kind
of evidence produced in this chapter. I give a chapter to it
because the author of 'Supernatural Religion' has done the same.
Doubtless it is not the sort of evidence that would bear pressing
in a court of English law, but in a question of balanced
probabilities it has I think a decided leaning to one side, and
that the side opposed to the conclusions of 'Supernatural
MELITO--APOLLINARIS--ATHENAGORAS--THE EPISTLE OF VIENNE AND LYONS.
We pass on, still in a region of fragments--'waifs and strays' of
the literature of the second century--and of partial and indirect
(though on that account not necessarily less important)
In Melito of Sardis (c. 176 A.D) it is interesting to notice the
first appearance of a phrase that was destined later to occupy a
conspicuous position. Writing to his friend Onesimus, who had
frequently asked for selections from the Law and the Prophets
bearing upon the Saviour, and generally for information respecting
the number and order of 'the Old Books,' Melito says 'that he had
gone to the East and reached the spot where the preaching had been
delivered and the acts done, and that having learnt accurately the
books of the Old Covenant (or Testament) he had sent a list of
them'--which is subjoined [Endnote 244:1]. Melito uses the word
which became established as the title used to distinguish the
elder Scriptures from the younger--the Old Covenant or Testament
([Greek: hae palaia diathaekae]); and it is argued from this that
he implies the existence of a 'definite New Testament, a written
antitype to 'the Old' [Endnote 245:1] The inference however seems
to be somewhat in excess of what can be legitimately drawn. By
[Greek: palaia diathaekae] is meant rather the subject or contents
of the books than the books themselves. It is the system of
things, the dispensation accomplished 'in heavenly places,' to
which the books belong, not the actual collected volume. The
parallel of 2 Cor. iii. 14 ([Greek: epi tae anagnosei taes palaias
diathaekaes]), which is ably pointed to in 'Supernatural Religion'
[Endnote 245:2], is too close to allow the inference of a written
New Testament. And yet, though the word has not actually acquired
this meaning, it was in process of acquiring it, and had already
gone some way to acquire it. The books were already there, and, as
we see from Irenaeus, critical collections of them had already
begun to be made. Within thirty years of the time when Melito is
writing Tertullian uses the phrase Novum Testamentum precisely in
our modern sense, intimating that it had then become the current
designation [Endnote 245:3]. This being the case we cannot wonder
that there should be a certain reflex hint of such a sense in the
words of Melito.
The tract 'On Faith,' published in Syriac by Dr. Cureton and
attributed to Melito, is not sufficiently authenticated to have
value as evidence.
It should be noted that Melito's fragments contain nothing
especially on the Gospels.
Some time between 176-180 A.D. Claudius Apollinaris, Bishop of
Hierapolis, addressed to the Emperor Marcus Aurelius an apology of
which rather more than three lines have come down to us. A more
important fragment however is assigned to this writer in the
Paschal Chronicle, a work of the seventh century. Here it is said
that 'Apollinaris, the most holy bishop of Hierapolis in Asia, who
lived near the times of the Apostles, in his book about Easter,
taught much the same, saying thus: "There are some who through
ignorance wrangle about these matters, in a pardonable manner; for
ignorance does not admit of blame but rather needs instruction.
And they say that on the 14th the Lord ate the lamb with His
disciples, and that on the great day of unleavened bread He
himself suffered; and they relate that this is in their view the
statement of Matthew. Whence their opinion is in conflict with the
law, and according to them the Gospels are made to be at
variance"' [Endnote 246:1]. This variance or disagreement in the
Gospels evidently has reference to the apparent discrepancy
between the Synoptics, especially St. Matthew and St. John, the
former treating the Last Supper as the Paschal meal, the latter
placing it before the Feast of the Passover and making the
Crucifixion coincide with the slaughter of the Paschal lamb.
Apollinaris would thus seem to recognise both the first and the
fourth Gospels as authoritative.
Is this fragment of Apollinaris genuine? It is alleged against it
[Endnote 247:1] (1) that Eusebius was ignorant of any such work on
Easter, and that there is no mention of it in such notices of
Apollinaris and his writings as have come down to us from
Theodoret, Jerome, and Photius. There are some good remarks on
this point by Routh (who is quoted in 'Supernatural Religion'
_apparently_ as adverse to the genuineness of the fragments).
He says: 'There seems to me to be nothing in these extracts to
compel us to deny the authorship of Apollinaris. Nor must we
refuse credit to the author of the Preface [to the Paschal
Chronicle] any more than to other writers of the same times on
whose testimony many books of the ancients have been received,
although not mentioned by Eusebius or any other of his contemporaries;
especially as Eusebius declares below that it was only some select
books that had come to his hands out of many that Apollinaris had
written' [Endnote 247:2]. It is objected (2) that Apollinaris is
not likely to have spoken of a controversy in which the whole Asiatic
Church was engaged as the opinion of a 'few ignorant wranglers' A
fair objection, if he was really speaking of such a controversy.
But the great issue between the Churches of Asia and that of Rome
was whether the Paschal festival should be kept, according to the
Jewish custom, always on the fourteenth day of the month Nisan, or
whether it should be kept on the Friday after the Paschal full moon,
on whatever day of the month it might fall. The fragment appears
rather to allude to some local dispute as to the day on which the
Lord suffered. To go thoroughly into this question would involve
us in all the mazes of the so-called Paschal controversy, and in
the end a precise and certain conclusion would probably be impossible.
So far as I am aware, all the writers who have entered into the
discussion start with assuming the genuineness of the Apollinarian
There remains however the fact that it rests only upon the attestation
of a writer of the seventh century, who may possibly be wrong, but,
if so, has been led into his error not wilfully but by accident.
No reason can be alleged for the forging or purposely false ascription
of a fragment like this, and it bears the stamp of good faith in that
it asks indulgence for opponents instead of censure. We may perhaps
safely accept the fragment with some, not large, deduction from its
An instance of the precariousness of the argument from silence
would be supplied by the writer who comes next under review--
Athenagoras. No mention whatever is made of Athenagoras either by
Eusebius or Jerome, though he appears to have been an author of a
certain importance, two of whose works, an Apology addressed to
Marcus Aurelius and Commodus and a treatise on the Resurrection,
are still extant. The genuineness of neither of these works is
The Apology, which may be dated about 177 A.D., contains a few
references to our Lord's discourses, but not such as can have any
great weight as evidence. The first that is usually given, a
parallel to Matt. v. 39, 40 (good for evil), is introduced in such
a way as to show that the author intends only to give the sense
and not the words. The same may be said of another sentence that
is compared with Mark x. 6 [Endnote 249:1]:--
_Athenagoras, Leg. pro Christ. 33._
[Greek: Hoti en archae ho Theos hena andra eplase kai mian
_Mark x. 6_
[Greek: Apo de archaes ktiseos arsen kai thaelu epoiaesen autous
All that can be said is that the thought here appears to have been
suggested by the Gospel--and that not quite immediately.
A much closer--and indeed, we can hardly doubt, a real--parallel
is presented by a longer passage:--
_Athenagoras, Leg. pro Christ. 11._
What then are the 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 become the sons of your Father which is
in heaven: who maketh his sun to rise on the evil and the good,
and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust.
[Greek: Tines oun haemon hoi logoi, hois entrephometha; lego
humin, agapate tous echthrous humon, eulogeite tous kataromenous,
proseuchesthe huper ton diokonton humas, hopos genaesthe huioi tou
patros humon tou en ouranois, hos ton haelion autou anatellei epi
ponaerous kai agathous kai brechei epi dikaious kai adikous.]
_Matt_. v. 44, 45.
I say unto you: Love your enemies [bless them that curse you, do
good to them that hate you], and pray for them that persecute you;
that ye may become the sons of your Father which is in heaven: for
he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth
rain on the just and the unjust.
[Greek: ego de lego humin, agapate tous echthrous humon
[eulogeite tous kataromenous humas, kalos poiete tous misountas
humas], proseuchesthe huper ton diokonton humas hopos genaesthe
huioi tou patros humon tou en ouranois, hoti ton haelion autou
anatellei epi ponaerous kai agathous kai brechei epi dikaious kai
The bracketed clauses in the text of St. Matthew are both omitted
and inserted by a large body of authorities, but, as it is rightly
remarked in 'Supernatural Religion,' they are always either both
omitted or both inserted; we must therefore believe that the
omission and insertion of one only by Athenagoras is without
manuscript precedent. Otherwise the exactness of the parallel is
great; and it is thrown the more into relief when we compare the
corresponding passage in St. Luke.
The quotation is completed in the next chapter of Athenagoras'
_Athenagoras, Leg. pro Christ._ 12.
For if ye love, he says, them which love and lend to them which
lend to you, what reward shall ye have?
[Greek: Ean gar agapate, phaesin, tous agapontas, kai daineizete
tois daneizousin humin, tina misthon hexete;]
_Matt._ v. 46.
For if ye shall love them which love you, what reward have ye?
[Greek: Ean gar agapaesaete tous agapontas humas tina misthon
Here the middle clause in the quotation appears to be a
reminiscence of St. Luke vi. 34 ([Greek: ean danisaete par' hon
elpizete labein]). Justin also, it should be noted, has [Greek:
agapate] (but [Greek: ei agapate]) for [Greek: agapaesaete]. If
this passage had stood alone, taking into account the variations
and the even run and balance of the language we might have thought
perhaps that Athenagoras had had before him a different version.
Yet the [Greek: tina misthon], compared with the [Greek: poia
charis] of St. Luke and [Greek: ti kainon poieite] of Justin,
would cause misgivings, and greater run and balance is precisely
what would result from 'unconscious cerebration.'
Two more references are pointed out to Matt. v. 28 and Matt. v.
32, one with slight, the other with medium, variation, which leave
the question very much in the same position.
We ought not to omit to notice that Athenagoras quotes one
uncanonical saying, introducing it with the phrase [Greek: palin
haemin legontos tou logou]. I am not at all clear that this is not
merely one of the 'precepts' [Greek: oi logoi] alluded to above.
At any rate it is exceedingly doubtful that the Logos is here
personified. It seems rather parallel to the [Greek: ho logos
edaelou] of Justin (Dial. c. Tryph. 129).
Considering the date at which he wrote I have little doubt that
Athenagoras is actually quoting from the Synoptics, but he cannot,
on the whole, be regarded as a very powerful witness for them.
After the cruel persecution from which the Churches of Vienne and
Lyons had suffered in the year 177 A.D., a letter was written in
their name, containing an account of what had happened, which
Lardner describes as 'the finest thing of the kind in all
antiquity' [Endnote 251:1]. This letter, which was addressed to
the Churches of Asia and Phrygia, contained several quotations
from the New Testament, and among them one that is evidently from
St. Luke's Gospel.
It is said of one of the martyrs, Vettius Epagathus, that his
manner of life was so strict that, young as he was, he could claim
a share in the testimony borne to the more aged Zacharias. Indeed
he had _walked in all the commandments and ordinances of the
Lord blameless_, and in the service of his neighbour untiring,
&c. [Endnote 252:1] The italicised words are a verbatim
reproduction of Luke i. 6.
There is an ambiguity in the words [Greek: sunexisousthai tae tou
presbuterou Zachariou marturia]. The genitive after [Greek: marturia]
may be either subjective or objective--'the testimony borne _by_'
or 'the testimony borne _to_ or _of_' the aged Zacharias. I have
little doubt that the translation given above is the right one.
It has the authority of Lardner ('equalled the character of') and
Routh ('Zachariae senioris elogio aequaretur'), and seems to be
imperatively required by the context. The eulogy passed upon
Vettius Epagathus is justified by the uniform strictness of his
daily life (he has walked in _all_ the commandments &c.), not by
the single act of his constancy in death.
The author of 'Supernatural Religion,' apparently following
Hilgenfeld [Endnote 252:2], adopts the other translation, and
bases on it an argument that the allusion is to the _martyrdom_
of Zacharias, and therefore not to our third Gospel in which no
mention of that martyrdom is contained. On the other hand, we are
reminded that the narrative of the martyrdom of Zacharias enters
into the Protevangelium of James. That apocryphal Gospel however
contains nothing approaching to the words which coincide exactly
with the text of St. Luke.
Even if there had been a greater doubt than there is as to the
application of [Greek: marturia], it would be difficult to resist
the conclusion that the Synoptic Gospel is being quoted. The words
occur in the most peculiar and distinctive portion of the Gospel;
and the correspondence is so exact and the phrase itself so
striking as not to admit of any other source. The order, the
choice of words, the construction, even to the use of the nominative
[Greek: amemptos] where we might very well have had the adverb
[Greek: amemptos], all point the same way. These fine edges of the
quotation, so to speak, must needs have been rubbed off in the
course of transmission through several documents. But there is
not a trace of any other document that contained such a remark
upon the character of Zacharias.
This instance of a Synoptic quotation may, I think, safely be
Another allusion, a little lower down in the Epistle, which speaks
of the same Vettius Epagathus as 'having in himself the Paraclete
[there is a play on the use of the word [Greek: paraklaetos] just
before], the Spirit, more abundantly than Zacharias,' though in
exaggerated and bad taste, probably has reference to Luke i. 67,
'And Zacharias his father was filled with the Holy Ghost,' &c.
[Footnote: Mr. Mason calls my attention to [Greek: enduma
numphikon] in Sec. 13, and also to the misleading statement in
_S.R._ ii. p. 201 that 'no writing of the New Testament is
directly referred to.' I should perhaps have more fault to find
with the sentence on p. 204, 'It follows clearly and few venture
to doubt,' &c. I have assumed however for some time that the
reader will be on his guard against expressions such as these.]
PTOLEMAEUS AND HERACLEON--CELSUS--THE MURATORIAN FRAGMENT.
We are now very near emerging into open daylight; but there are
three items in the evidence which lie upon the border of the
debateable ground, and as questions have been raised about these
it may be well for us to discuss them.
We have already had occasion to speak of the two Gnostics
Ptolemaeus and Heracleon. It is necessary, in the first place, to
define the date of their evidence with greater precision, and, in
the second, to consider its bearing.
Let us then, in attempting to do this, dismiss all secondary and
precarious matter; such as (1) the argument drawn by Tischendorf
[Endnote 254:1] from the order in which the names of the disciples
of Valentinus are mentioned and from an impossible statement of
Epiphanius which seems to make Heracleon older than Cerdon, and
(2) the argument that we find in Volkmar and 'Supernatural
Religion' [Endnote 254:2] from the use of the present tense by
Hippolytus, as if the two writers, Ptolemaeus and Heracleon, were
contemporaries of his own in 225-235 A.D. Hippolytus does indeed
say, speaking of a division in the school of Valentinus, 'Those
who are of Italy, of whom is Heracleon and Ptolemaeus, say' &c.
But there is no reason why there should not be a kind of historic
present, just as we might say, 'The Atomists, of whom are
Leucippus and Democritus, hold' &c., or 'St. Peter says this, St.
Paul says that.' The account of such presents would seem to be
that the writer speaks as if quoting from a book that he has
actually before him. It is not impossible that Heracleon and
Ptolemaeus may have been still living at the time when Hippolytus
wrote, but this cannot be inferred simply from the tense of the
verb. Surer data are supplied by Irenaeus.
Irenaeus mentions Ptolemaeus several times in his first and second
books, and on one occasion he couples with his the name of
Heracleon. But to what date does this evidence of Irenaeus refer?
At what time was Irenaeus himself writing. We have seen that the
_terminus ad quem_, at least for the first three books, is
supplied by the death of Eleutherus (c. A.D. 190). On the other
hand, the third book at least was written after the publication of
the Greek version of the Old Testament by Theodotion, which
Epiphanius tells us appeared in the reign of Commodus (180-190
A.D.). A still more precise date is given to Theodotion's work in
the Paschal Chronicle, which places it under the Consuls Marcellus
(Massuet would read 'Marullus') and Aelian in the year 184 A.D.
[Endnote 255:1] This last statement is worth very little, and it
is indeed disputed whether Theodotion's version can have appeared
so late as this. At any rate we must assume that it was in the
hands of Irenaeus about 185 A.D., and it will be not before this
that the third book of the work 'Against Heresies' was written. It
will perhaps sufficiently satisfy all parties if we suppose that
Irenaeus was engaged in writing his first three books between the
years 182-188 A.D. But the name of Ptolemaeus is mentioned very
near the beginning of the Preface; so that Irenaeus would be
committing to paper the statement of his acquaintance with
Ptolemaeus as early as 182 A.D.
This is however the last link in the chain. Let us trace it a
little further backwards. Irenaeus' acquaintance with Ptolemaeus
can hardly have been a fact of yesterday at the time when he
wrote. Ptolemaeus represented the 'Italian' branch of the
Valentinian school, and therefore it seems a fair supposition that
Irenaeus would come in contact with him during his visit to Rome
in 178 A.D.; and the four years from that date to 182 A.D. can
hardly be otherwise than a short period to allow for the necessary
intimacy with his teaching to have been formed.
But we are carried back one step further still. It is not only
Ptolemaeus but Ptolemaeus _and his party_ ([Greek: hoi peri
Ptolemaion]) [Endnote 256:1]. There has been time for Ptolemaeus
to found a school within a school of his own; and his school has
already begun to express its opinions, either collectively or
through its individual members.
In this way the real date of Ptolemaeus seems still to recede, but
I will not endeavour any further to put a numerical value upon it
which might be thought to be prejudiced. It will be best for the
reader to fill up the blank according to his own judgment.
Heracleon will to a certain extent go with Ptolemaeus, with whom
he is persistently coupled, though, as he is only mentioned once
by Irenaeus, the data concerning him are less precise. They are
however supplemented by an allusion in the fourth book of the
Stromateis of Clement of Alexandria (which appears to have been
written in the last decade of the century) to Heracleon as one of
the chief of the school of Valentinus [Endnote 257:1], and perhaps
also by a statement of Origen to the effect that Heracleon was said
to be a [Greek: gnorimos] of Valentinus himself [Endnote 257:2].
The meaning of the latter term is questioned, and it is certainly
true that it may stand for pupil or scholar, as Elisha was to Elijah
or as the Apostles were to their Master; but that it could possibly
be applied to two persons who never came into personal contact must
be, I cannot but think, very doubtful. This then, if true, would
throw back Heracleon some little way even beyond 160 A.D.
From the passage in the Stromateis we gather that Heracleon, if he
did not (as is usually inferred) write a commentary, yet wrote an
isolated exposition of a portion of St. Luke's Gospel. In the same
way we learn from Origen that he wrote a commentary upon St. John.
We shall probably not be wrong in referring many of the
Valentinian quotations given by Irenaeus to Ptolemaeus and
Heracleon. By the first writer we also have extant an Epistle to a
disciple called Flora, which has been preserved by Epiphanius.
This Epistle, which there is no reason to doubt, contains
unequivocal references to our first Gospel.
_Epistle to Flora. Epiph. Haer._ 217 A.
[Greek: oikia gar ae polis meristheisa eph' heautaen hoti mae
dunatai staenai [ho sotaer haemon apephaenato].]
_Ibid._ 217 D.
[Greek: [ephae autois hoti] Mousaes pros taen sklaerokardian humon
epetrepse to apoluein taen gunaika autou. Ap' archaes gar ou
gegonen houtos. Theos gar (phaesi) sunezeuxe tautaen taen suzugian
kai ho sunezeuxen ho kurios, anthropos (ephae) mae chorizeto.]
_Ibid. 218 D.
[Greek: ho gar Theos (phaesin) eipe tima ton patera sou kai taen
maetera sou, hina eu soi genaetai; humeis de (phaesin) eiraekate
(tois presbuterois legon), doron to Theo ho ean ophelaethaes ex
emou, kai aekurosate ton nomon tou Theou, dia taen paradosin humon
ton presbuteron. Touto de Haesaias exephonaesen eipon; ho laos
houtos tois cheilesi me tima hae de kardia auton porro apechei ap'
emou. Mataen de sebontai me, didaskontes didaskalias, entalmata
_Ibid._ 220 D, 221 A.
[Greek: to gar, Ophthalmon anti ophthalmou kai odonta anti odontos ...
ego gar lego humin mae antistaenai holos to ponaero alla ean tis
se rhapisae strepson auto kai taen allaen siagona.]
_Matt._ xii. 25 (_Mark_ iii. 25, _Luke_ xi. 17).
[Greek: pasa polis ae oikia meristheisa kath' heautaes ou
_Matt._ xix. 8, 6 (_Mark_ x. 5, 6, 9).
[Greek: legei autois; Hoti Mousaes pros taen sklaerokardian humon
epetrepsen humin apolusai tas gunaikas humon' ap' archaes de ou
gegonen houtos. ... ho oun ho theos sunezeuxen anthropos mae
_Matt._ xv. 4-8 (_Mark_ vii. 10, 11, 6, 9).
[Greek: ho gar theos eneteilato legon, Tima ton patera kai taen
maetera ... humeis de legete; hos an eipae to patri ae tae maetri;
Doron ho ean ex emou ophelaethaes,... kai aekurosate ton nomon tou
Theou dia taen paradosin humon. Hupokritai, kalos eprophaeteusen
peri humon Haesaias legon; Ho laos houtos tois cheilesin me tima,
hae de kardia auton porro apechei ap' emou; mataen de sebontai me
didaskontes didaskalias entalmata anthropon.]
_Matt_. v. 38, 39 (_Luke_ vi. 29).
[Greek: aekousate oti erraethae, Ophthalmon anti ophthalmou kai
odonta anti odontos ego de lego hymin mae antistaenai to ponaero
all hostis se rapizei eis taen dexian siagona sou, strephon auto
kai taen allaen.]
Some doubt indeed appears to be entertained by the author of
'Supernatural Religion' [Endnote 259:1] as to whether these
quotations are really taken from the first Synoptic; but it would
hardly have arisen if he had made a more special study of the
phenomena of patristic quotation. If he had done this, I do not
think there would have been any question on the subject. A
comparison of the other Synoptic parallels, and of the Septuagint
in the case of the quotation from Isaiah, will make the agreement
with the Matthaean text still more conspicuous. It is instructive
to notice the reproduction of the most characteristic features of
this text--[Greek: polis, meristheisa] ([Greek: ean meristhae]
Mark, [Greek: diameristheisa] Luke), [Greek: hoti Mousaes,
epetrepsen apolu[sai] t[as] gunaik[as], ou gegonen oitos,
aekurosate .. dia taen p., ophthalmon ... odontos, antistaenai to
ponaero, strepson], and the order and cast of sentence in all the
quotations. The first quotation, with [Greek: eph eautaen] and
[Greek: dunatai staenai], which may be compared (though, from the
context, somewhat doubtfully) with Mark, presents, I believe, the
only trace of the influence of any other text.
To what period in the life of Ptolemaeus this Epistle to Flora may
have belonged we have no means of knowing; but it is unlikely that
the writer should have used one set of documents at one part of
his life and another set at another. Viewed along with so much
confirmatory matter in the account of the Valentinians by
Irenaeus, the evidence may be taken as that of Ptolemaeus himself
rather than of this single letter.
The question in regard to Celsus, whose attacks upon Christianity
called forth such an elaborate reply from Origen, is chiefly one
of date. To go into this at once adequately and independently
would need a much longer investigation than can be admitted into
the present work. The subject has quite recently been treated in a
monograph by the well-known writer Dr. Keim [Endnote 260:1], and,
as there will be in this case no suspicion of partiality, I shall
content myself with stating Dr. Keim's conclusions.
Origen himself, Dr. Keim thinks, was writing under the Emperor
Philip about A.D. 248. But he regards his opponent Celsus, not as
a contemporary, but as belonging to a past age (Contra Celsum, i.
8, vii. 11), and his work as nothing recent, but rather as having
obtained a certain celebrity in heathen literature (v. 3). For all
this it had to be disinterred, as it were, and that not without
difficulty, by a Christian (viii. 76).
Exact and certain knowledge however about Celsus Origen did not
possess. He leans to the opinion that his opponent was an
Epicurean of that name who lived 'under Hadrian and later' (i. 8).
This Epicurean had also written several books against Magic (i.
68). Now it is known that there was a Celsus, a friend of Lucian,
who had also written against Magic, and to whom Lucian dedicated
his 'Pseudomantis, or Alexander of Abonoteichos.'
It was clearly obvious to identify the two persons, and there was
much to be said in favour of the identification. But there was
this difficulty. Origen indeed speaks of the Celsus to whom he is
replying as an Epicurean, and here and there Epicurean opinions
are expressed in the fragments of the original work that Origen
has preserved. But Origen himself was somewhat puzzled to find
that the main principles of the author were rather Platonic or
Neo-platonic than Epicurean, and this observation has been
confirmed by modern enquiry. The Celsus of Origen is in reality a
It still being acknowledged that the friend of Lucian was an
Epicurean, this discovery seemed fatal to the supposition that he
was the author of the work against the Christians. Accordingly
there was a tendency among critics, though not quite a unanimous
tendency, to separate again the two personalities which had been
united. At this point Dr. Keim comes upon the scene, and he asks
the question, Was Lucian's friend really an Epicurean? Lucian
nowhere says so in plain words, but it was taken as a _prima
facie_ inference from some of the language used by him. For
instance, he describes the Platonists as being on good terms with
this very Alexander of Abonoteichos whom he is ridiculing and
exposing. He appeals to Celsus to say whether a certain work of
Epicurus is not his finest. He says that his friend will be
pleased to know that one of his objects in writing is to see
justice done to Epicurus. All these expressions Dr. Keim thinks
may be explained as the quiet playful irony that was natural to
Lucian, and from other indications in the work he concludes that
Lucian's Celsus may well have been a Platonist, though not a
bigoted one, just as Lucian himself was not in any strict and
narrow sense an Epicurean.
When once the possibility of the identification is conceded, there
are, as Dr. Keim urges, strong reasons for its adoption. The
characters of the two owners of the name Celsus, so far as they
can be judged from the work of Origen on the one hand and Lucian
on the other, are the same. Both are distinguished for their
opposition to magical arts. The Celsus of the Pseudomantis is a
friend of Lucian, and it is precisely from a friend of Lucian that
the 'Word of Truth' replied to by Origen might be supposed to have
come. Lastly, time and place both support the identification. The
Celsus of Lucian lived under Marcus Aurelius and Commodus, and
Dr. Keim decides, after an elaborate examination of the internal
evidence, that the Celsus of Origen wrote his work in the year 178
A.D., towards the close of the reign of Marcus Aurelius.
Such is Dr. Keim's view. In the date assigned to the [Greek: Logos
alaethaes] it does not differ materially from that of the large
majority of critics. Graetz alone goes as far back as to the time
of Hadrian. Hagenbach, Hasse, Tischendorf, and Friedlaender fix
upon the middle, Mosheim, Gieseler, Baur, and Engelhardt upon the
second half, of the second century; while the following writers
assume either generally the reign of Marcus Aurelius, or specially
with Dr. Keim one of the two great persecutions--Spencer,
Tillemont, Neander, Tzschirner, Jachmann, Bindemann, Lommatzsch,
Hase, Redepenning, Zeller. The only two writers mentioned by Dr.
Keim as contending for a later date are Ueberweg and Volkmar, 'who
strangely misunderstands both Origen and Baur' [Endnote 263:1].
Volkmar is followed by the author of 'Supernatural Religion.'
At whatever date Celsus wrote, it appears to be sufficiently clear
that he knew and used all the four canonical Gospels [Endnote 263:2].
The last document that need be discussed by us at present is the
remarkable fragment which, from its discoverer and from its
contents, bears the name of the Canon of Muratori [Endnote 263:3].
Whatever was the original title and whatever may have been the
extent of the work from which it is taken, the portion of it that
has come down to us is by far the most important of all the direct
evidence for the Canon both of the Gospels and of the New
Testament in general with which we have yet had to deal. It is
indeed the first in which the conception of a Canon is quite
unequivocally put forward. We have for the first time a definite
list of the books received by the Church and a distinct separation
made between these and those that are rejected.
The fragment begins abruptly with the end of a sentence apparently
relating to the composition of the Gospel according to St. Mark.
Then follows 'in the third place the Gospel according to St.
Luke,' of which some account is given. 'The fourth of the Gospels'
is that of John, 'one of the disciples of the Lord.' A legend is
related as to the origin of this Gospel. Then mention is made of
the Acts, which are attributed to Luke. Then follow thirteen
Epistles of St. Paul by name. Two Epistles professing to be
addressed to the Laodiceans and Alexandrines are dismissed as
forged in the interests of the heresy of Marcion. The Epistle of
Jude and two that bear the superscription of John are admitted.
Likewise the two Apocalypses of John and Peter. [No mention is
made, it will be seen, of the Epistle to the Hebrews, of that of
James, of I and II Peter, and of III John.] [Endnote 264:1]
The Pastor of Hermas, a work of recent date, may be read but not
published in the Church before the people, and cannot be included
either in the number of the prophets or apostles.
On the other hand nothing at all can be received of Arsinous,
Valentinus, or Miltiades; neither the new Marcionite book of
Psalms, which with Basilides and the Asian founder of the
Cataphryges (or the founder of the Asian Cataphryges, i.e.
Montanus) is rejected.
The importance of this will be seen at a glance. The chief
question is here again in regard to the date, which must be
determined from the document itself. A sufficiently clear
indication seems to be given in the language used respecting the
Pastor of Hermas. This work is said to have been composed 'very
lately in our times, Pius the brother of the writer occupying the
episcopal chair of the Roman Church.' The episcopate of Pius is
dated from 142-157 A.D., so that 157 A.D. may be taken as the
starting-point from which we have to reckon the interval implied
by the words 'very recently in our times' (nuperrime temporibus
nostris). Taking these words in their natural sense, I should
think that the furthest limit they would fairly admit of would be
a generation, or say thirty years, after the death of Pius (for
even in taking a date such as this we are obliged to assume that
the Pastor was published only just before the death of that
bishop). The most probable construction seems to be that the
unknown author meant that the Pastor of Hermas was composed within
his own memory. Volkmar is doubtless right in saying [Endnote
265:1] that he meant to distinguish the work in question from the
writings of the Prophets and Apostles, but still the double use of
the words 'nuperrime' and 'temporibus nostris' plainly indicate
something more definite than merely 'our post-apostolic time.' If
this had been the sense we should have had some such word as
'recentius' instead of 'nuperrime.' The argument of 'Supernatural
Religion' [Endnote 265:2], that 'in supposing that the writer may
have appropriately used the phrase thirty or forty years after the
time of Pius so much licence is taken that there is absolutely no
reason why a still greater interval may not be allowed,' is
clearly playing fast and loose with language, and doing so for no
good reason; for the only ground for assigning a later date is
that the earlier one is inconvenient for the critic's theory. The
other indications tally quite sufficiently with the date 170-190
A.D. Basilides, Valentinus, Marcion, the Marcionites, we know were
active long before this period. The Montanists (who appear under
the name by which they were generally known in the earlier
writings, 'Cataphryges') were beginning to be notorious, and are
mentioned in the letter of the Churches of Vienne and Lyons.
Miltiades was a contemporary of Claudius Apollinaris who wrote
against him [Endnote 266:1]. All the circumstances point to such a
date as that of Irenaeus, and the conception of the Canon is very
similar to that which we should gather from the great work
'Against Heresies.' If this does not agree with preconceived
opinions as to what the state of the Canon ought to have been, it
is the opinion that ought to be rectified accordingly, and not
plain words explained away.
I can see no sound objection to the date 170-180 A.D., but by
adding ten years to this we shall reach the extreme limit
I do not know whether it is necessary to refer to the objection
from the absence of any mention of the first two Synoptic Gospels,
through the mutilated state of the document. It is true that the
inference that they were originally mentioned rests only 'upon
conjecture' [Endnote 266:2], but it is the kind of conjecture
that, taking all things into consideration--the extent to which
the evidence of the fragment in other respects corresponds with
the Catholic tradition, the state of the Canon in Irenaeus, the
relation of the evidence for the first Gospel in particular to
that for the others--can be reckoned at very little less than
ninety-nine chances out of a hundred.
To the same class belongs Dr. Donaldson's suggestion [Endnote 267:1]
that the passage which contains the indication of date may be an
interpolation. It is always possible that the particular passage
that happens to be important in any document of this date may be
an interpolation, but the chances that it really is so must be in
any case very slight, and here there is no valid reason for suspecting
interpolation. It does not at all follow, as Dr. Donaldson seems
to think, that because a document is mutilated therefore it is more
likely to be interpolated; for interpolation is the result of quite
a different series of accidents. The interpolation, if it were such,
could not well be accidental because it has no appearance of being
a gloss; on the other hand, only far-fetched and improbable motives
can be alleged for it as intentional.
The full statement of the fragment in regard to St. Luke's Gospel
is as follows. 'Luke the physician after the Ascension of Christ,
having been taken into his company by Paul, wrote in his own name
to the best of his judgment (ex opinione), and, though he had not
himself seen the Lord in the flesh, so far as he could ascertain;
accordingly he begins his narrative with the birth of John.' The
greater part of this account appears to be taken simply from the
Preface to the Gospel, which is supplemented by the tradition that
St. Luke was a physician and also the author of the Acts. As
evidence to those facts a document dating some hundred years after
the composition of the Gospel is not of course very weighty; its
real importance is as showing the authority which the Gospel at
this date possessed in the Church. That authority cannot have been
acquired in a day, but represents the culmination of a long and
gradual movement. What we have to note is that the movement, some
of the stages of which we have been tracing, has now definitely
reached its culmination.
In regard to the fourth Gospel the Muratorian fragment has a
longer story to tell, but before we touch upon this, and before we
proceed to draw together the threads of the previous enquiry, it
will be well for us first to bring up the evidence for the fourth
Gospel to the same date and position as that for the other three.
This then will be the subject of the next chapter.
THE EXTERNAL EVIDENCE FOR THE FOURTH GOSPEL.
The fourth Gospel was, upon any theory, written later than the
others, and it is not clear that it was published as soon as it
was written. Both tradition and the internal evidence of the
concluding chapter seem to point to the existence of somewhat
peculiar relations between the Evangelist and the presbyters of
the Asian Church, which would make it not improbable that the
Gospel was retained for some time by the latter within their own
private circle before it was given to the Church at large.
We have the express statement of Irenaeus [Endnote 269:1], who, if
he was born as is commonly supposed at Smyrna about 140 A.D., must
be a good authority, that the Apostle St. John lived on till the
times of Trajan (98-117 A.D.). If so, it is very possible that the
Gospel was not yet published, or barely published, when Clement of
Rome wrote his Epistle to the Corinthians. Neither, considering
its almost esoteric character and the slow rate at which such a
work would travel at first, should we be very much surprised if it
was not in the hands of Barnabas (probably in Alexandria) and
Hermas (at Rome). In no case indeed could the silence of these two
writers be of much moment, as in the Epistle of Barnabas the
allusions to the New Testament literature are extremely few and
slight, while in the Shepherd of Hermas there are no clear and
certain references either to the Old Testament or the New
Testament at all.
And yet there is a lively controversy round these two names as to
whether or not they contain evidence for the fourth Gospel, and
that they do is maintained not only by apologists, but also by
writers of quite unquestionable impartiality like Dr. Keim. Dr.
Keim, it will be remembered, argues against the Johannean
authorship of the Gospel, and yet on this particular point he
seems to be almost an advocate for the side to which he is
'Volkmar,' he says [Endnote 270:1], 'has recently spoken of Barnabas
as undeniably ignorant of the Logos-Gospel, and explained the early
date assigned to his Epistle by Ewald and Weizsaecker and now also
by Riggenbach as due to their perplexity at finding in it no trace
of St. John. There is room for another opinion. However much it
may be shown that Barnabas gives neither an incident nor a single
sentence from the Gospel, that he is unacquainted with the conception
of the Logos, that expressions like 'water and blood,' or the
Old Testament types of Christ, and especially the serpent reared
in the wilderness as an object of faith, are employed by him
independently--for all this the deeper order of conceptions in
the Epistle coincides in the gross or in detail so repeatedly with
the Gospel that science must either assume a connection between
them, or, if it leaves the problem unsolved, renounces its own
calling. "The Son of God" was to be manifested in the flesh,
manifested through suffering, to go to his glory through death and
the Cross, to bring life and the immanent presence of the Godhead,
such is here and there the leading idea. Existing before the
foundation of the world, the Lord of the world, the sender of the
prophets, the object of their prophecies, beheld even by Abraham,
in the person of Moses himself typified as the only centre of
Israel's hopes, and in so far already revealed and glorified in
type before his incarnation, he was at last to appear, to dwell
among us, to be seen, not as son of David but as Son of God, in
the garment of the flesh, by those who could not even endure the
light of this world's sun. So did he come; nay, so did he die to
fulfil the promise, in the very act of his apparent defeat to
dispense purification, pardon, life, to destroy death, to overcome
the devil, to show forth the Resurrection, and with the Resurrection
his right to future judgment; at the same time, it is true, to fill
up the measure of the sins of Israel, whom he had loved exceedingly
and for whom he had done such great wonders and signs, and to prepare
for himself again a new people who should keep his commandments,
his new law. The mission that his Father gave him he has accomplished,
of his own free will and for our sake--the true explanation of his
death--did he suffer. "The Jews" have not hoped upon him, clearly
as the typical design of the Old Testament and Moses himself pointed
to him, and, in opposition to the spiritual teaching of Moses, they
have been seduced into the carnal and sensual by the devil; they
have set their trust and their hopes, not upon God, but upon the
fleshly circumcision and upon the visible house of God, worshipping
the Lord in the temple almost like the heathen. But the Christian
raises himself above the flesh and its lusts, which disturb the
faculties of knowledge as well as those of will, to the Spirit
and the spiritual service of God, above the ways of darkness to
the ways of light; he presses on to faith, and with faith to
perfect knowledge, as one born again, who is full of the Spirit
of God, in whom God dwells and prophesies, interpreting past and
future without being seen or heard; as taught of God and fulfilling
the commandments of the new law of the Lord, a lover of the brethren,
and in himself the child of peace, of joy, and of love. For this
class of ideas there is no analogy in St. Paul, or even in the
Epistle to the Hebrews, but only in this Gospel, much as the
connection has hitherto been overlooked. Indeed, though it may
still in places be questioned on which side the relation of dependence
lies (it might be thought that Barnabas supplied the ideas, John
the application of them, and the conception of the Logos crowning all),
in any case the Gospel appeared at a date near to that of the
Epistle of Barnabas. With more reason may it be said that it is
not until we come to the Epistle of Barnabas that we find stiff
scholastic theory a more predominant typology, an artificialised
view of Judaism; besides the points of view always appear as
something received and not originated--water and blood, new law,
new people--and in the solemn manifestation of the Son of God
immediately after the selection of the Apostles, in the great
but fruitless exhibition of miracle and love for Israel, there
is evidently allusion to history, that is, to John ii and xii.'
'The Epistle of Barnabas,' Dr. Keim adds, 'after the lucid
demonstration of Volkmar--in spite of Hilgenfeld and Weizaecker,
and now also of Riggenbach--was undoubtedly written at the time of
the rebuilding of the temple under the Emperor Hadrian, about the
year 120 A.D. (according to Volkmar, at the earliest, 118-119), at
It is not to be expected that this full and able statement should
carry conviction to every reader. And yet I believe that it has
some solid foundation. The single instances are not perhaps such
as could be pressed very far, but they derive a certain weight
when taken together and as parts of a wider circle of ideas. The
application of the type of the brazen serpent to Jesus in c. xii.
may have been suggested by John iii. 14 sqq., but we cannot say
that it was so with certainty. The same application is made by
Justin in a place where there is perhaps less reason to assume a
connection with the fourth Gospel; and we know that types and
prophecies were eagerly sought out by the early Christians, and
were soon collected in a kind of common stock from which every one
drew at his pleasure. A stronger case, and one that I incline to
think of some importance, is supplied by the peculiar combination
of 'the water and the cross' in Barn. c. xi; not that here there
is a direct and immediate, but more probably a mediate, connection
with the fourth Gospel. The phrase [Greek: ho uios tou theou] is
not peculiar to, though it is more frequent in, and to some degree
characteristic of, the Gospel and First Epistle of St. John.
[Greek: Phanerousthai] may be claimed more decidedly, especially
by comparison with the other Gospels, though it occurs with
similar reference to the Incarnation in the later Pauline
Epistles. [Greek: 'Elthein en sarki] is again rightly classed as a
Johannean phrase, though the exact counterpart is found rather in
the Epistles than the Gospel. The doctrine of pre-existence is
certainly taught in such passages as the application of the text,
'Let us make man in our image,' which is said to have been
addressed to the Son 'from the foundation of the world' (c. v).
Generally I think it may be said that the doctrine of the
Incarnation, the typology, and the use of the Old Testament
prophecies, approximate, most distinctly to the Johannean type,
though under the latter heads there is of course much debased
exaggeration. The soteriology we might be perhaps tempted to
connect rather on the one hand with the Epistle to the Hebrews,
and on the other with those of St. Paul. There may be something of
an echo of the fourth Gospel in the allusion--to the unbelief and
carnalised religion of the Jews. But the whole question of the
speculative affinities of a writing like this requires subtle and
delicate handling, and should be rather a subject for special
treatment than an episode in an enquiry like the present. The
opinion of Dr. Keim must be of weight, but on the whole I think it
will be safest and fairest to say that, while the round assertion
that the author of the Epistle was ignorant of our Gospel is not
justified, the positive evidence that he made use of it is not
sufficiently clear to be pressed controversially.
* * * * *
A similar condition of things may be predicated of the Shepherd of
Hermas, though with a more decided leaning to the negative side.
Here again Dr. Keim [Endnote 273:1], as well as Canon Westcott
[Endnote 273:2], thinks that we can trace an acquaintance with the
Gospel, but the indications are too general and uncertain to be relied
upon. The imagery of the shepherd and the flock, as perhaps of the
tower and the gate, may, be as well taken from the scenes of the
Roman Campagna as from any previous writing. The keeping of the
commandments is a commonplace of Christianity, not to say of
religion. And the Divine immanence in the soul is conceived rather
in the spirit of the elder Gospels than of the fourth.
There is a nearer approach perhaps in the identification of 'the
gate' with the 'Son of God,' and in the explanation with which it
is accompanied. 'The rock is old because the Son of God is older
than the whole of His creation; so that He was assessor to His
Father in the creation of the world; the gate is new, because He
was made manifest at the consummation of the last days, and they
who are to be saved enter by it into the kingdom of God' (Sim. ix.
12). Here too we have the doctrine of pre-existence; and
considering the juxtaposition of these three points, the pre-
existence, the gate (which is the only access to the Lord), the
identification of the gate with the incarnation of Jesus, we may
say perhaps a _possible_ reference to the fourth Gospel;
_probable_ it might be somewhat too much to call it. We must
leave the reader to form his own estimate.
* * * * *
A somewhat greater force, but not as yet complete cogency,
attaches to the evidence of the Ignatian letters. A parallel is
alleged to a passage in the Epistle to the Romans which is found
both in the Syriac and in the shorter Greek or Vossian version. 'I
take no relish in corruptible food or in the pleasures of this
life. I desire bread of God, heavenly bread, bread of life, which
is the flesh of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who was born in the
latter days of the seed of David and Abraham; and I desire drink
of God, His blood, which is love imperishable and ever-abiding
life' [Endnote 275:1] (Ep. ad Rom. c. vii). This is compared with
the discourse in the synagogue at Capernaum in the sixth chapter
of St. John. It should be said that there is a difference of
reading, though not one that materially influences the question,
in the Syriac. If the parallel holds good, the peculiar diction of
the author must be seen in the substitution of [Greek: poma] for
[Greek: posis] of John vi. 55, and [Greek: aennaos zoae] for
[Greek zoae aionios], of John vi. 54. [The Ignatian phrase is
perhaps more than doubtful, as it does not appear either in the
Syriac, the Armenian, or the Latin version.] Still this need not
stand in the way of referring the original of the passage
ultimately to the Gospel. The ideas are so remarkable that it
seems difficult to suppose either are accidental coincidence or
quotation from another writer. I suspect that Ignatius or the
author of the Epistle really had the fourth Gospel in his mind,
though not quite vividly, and by a train of comparatively remote
The next supposed allusion is from the Epistle to the
Philadelphians: 'The Spirit, coming from God, is not to be
deceived; for it knoweth whence it cometh and whither it goeth,
and it searcheth that which is hidden' [Endnote 275:2]. This is
obviously the converse of John iii. 5, where it is said that we do
not know the way of the Spirit, which is like the wind, &c. And
yet the exact verbal similarity of the phrase [Greek: oiden pothen
erchetai kai pou hupagei], and its appearance in the same
connection, spoken of the Spirit, leads us to think that there
was--as there may very well have been--an association of ideas.
This particular phrase [Greek: pothen erchetai kai pou hupagei] is
very characteristically Johannean. It occurs three times over in
the fourth Gospel, and not at all in the rest of the New
Testament. The combination of [Greek: erchesthai] and [Greek
hupagein] also occurs twice, and [Greek: pou [opou] hupago [-gei,
-geis]] in all twelve times in the Gospel and once in the Epistle
([Greek: ouk oide pou hupagei]); this too, it is striking to
observe, not at all elsewhere. The very word [Greek: hupago] is
not found at all in St. Paul, St. Peter, or the Epistle to the
Hebrews. Taken together with the special application to the
Spirit, this must be regarded as a strong case.
Neither do the arguments of 'Supernatural Religion' succeed in
proving that there is no connection with St. John in such
sentences as, 'There is one God who manifested Himself through
Jesus Christ His Son, who is His eternal Word' (Ad Magn. c. viii),
or who is Himself the door of the Father (Ad Philad. c. ix). In
regard to the first of these especially, it is doubtless true that
Philo also has 'the eternal Word,' which is even the 'Son' of God;
but the idea is much more consciously metaphorical, and not only
did the incarnation of the Logos in a historical person never
enter into Philo's mind, but 'there is no room for it in his
system' [Endnote 276:1].
It should be said that these latter passages are all found only in
the Vossian recension of the Epistles, and therefore, as we saw
above, are in any case evidence for the first half of the second
century, while they _may_ be the genuine works of Ignatius.
* * * * *
The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians, which goes very much
with the Ignatian Epistles and the external evidence for which it
is so hard to resist, testifies to the fourth Gospel through the
so-called first Epistle. That this Epistle is really by the same
author as the Gospel is not indeed absolutely undoubted, but I
imagine that it is as certain as any fact of literature can be.
The evidence of style and diction is overwhelming [Endnote 277:1].
We may set side by side the two passages which are thought to be
_Ep. ad Phil_. c. vii.
[Greek: Pas gar hos an mae homologae Iaesoun Christon en sarki
elaeluthenai antichristos esti; kai hos an mae homologae to
marturion tou staurou ek tou diabolou esti; kai hos an methodeuae
ta logia tou Kuriou pros tas idias epithumias, kai legae maete
anastasin maete krisin einai, outos prototokos esti tou Satana.]
1 _John_ vi. 2, 3.
[Greek: Pan pneuma ho homologei Iaesoun Christon en sarki
elaeluthota ek tou Theou estin. Kai pan pneuma ho mae homologei
tou Iaesoun ek tou Theou ouk estin, kai touto estin to tou
This is precisely one of those passages where at a superficial
glance we are inclined to think that there is no parallel, but
where a deeper consideration tends to convince us of the opposite.
The suggestion of Dr. Scholten cannot indeed be quite excluded,
that both writers I have adopted a formula in use in the early
Church against various heretics' [Endnote 277:2]. But if such a
formula existed it is highly probable that it took its rise from
St. John's Epistle. This passage of the Epistle of Polycarp is the
earliest instance of the use of the word 'Antichrist' outside the
Johannean writings in which, alone of the New Testament, it occurs
five times. Here too it occurs in conjunction with other
characteristic phrases, [Greek: homologein, en sarki elaeluthenai,
ek tou diabolou]. The phraseology and turns of expression in these
two verses accord so entirely with those of the rest of the
Epistle and of the Gospel that we must needs take them to be the
original work of the writer and not a quotation, and we can hardly
do otherwise than see an echo of them in the words of Polycarp.
There is naturally a certain hesitation in using evidence for the
Epistle as available also for the Gospel, but I have little doubt
that it may justly so be used and with no real diminution of its
force. The chance that the Epistle had a separate author is too
small to be practically worth considering.
This then will apply to the case of Papias, of whose relations to
the fourth Gospel we have no record, but of whom Eusebius expressly
says, that 'he made use of testimonies from the first Epistle of John.'
There is the less reason to doubt this statement, as in _every_
instance in which a similar assertion of Eusebius can be verified
it is found to hold good. It is much more probable that he would
overlook real analogies than be led astray by merely imaginary
ones--which is rather a modern form of error. In textual matters
the ancients were not apt to go wrong through over-subtlety, and
Eusebius himself does not, I believe, deserve the charge of
'inaccuracy and haste' that is made against him [Endnote 278:1].
* * * * *
In regard to the much disputed question of the use of the fourth
Gospel by Justin, those who maintain the affirmative have again
emphatic support from Dr. Keim [Endnote 278:2]. We will examine
some of the instances which are adduced on this side.
And first, in his account of John the Baptist, Justin has two
particulars which are found in the fourth Gospel and in no other.
That Gospel alone makes the Baptist himself declare, 'I am not the
Christ;' and it alone puts into his mouth the application of the
prophecy of Isaiah, 'I am the voice of one crying in the
wilderness.' Justin combines these two sayings, treating them as
an answer made by John to some who supposed that he was the
_Justin, Dial_. c. 88.
To whom he himself also cried: 'I am not the Christ, but the voice
of one crying [Greek: ouk eimi o Christos, alla phonae boontos];
for there shall come one stronger than I,' &c.
_John_ i. 19, 20, 23.
And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and
Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? And he confessed,
and denied not: but confessed, I am not the Christ [Greek: oti ouk
eimi ego o Christos]... I am the voice of one crying [Greek: ego
phonae boontos] in the wilderness,' &c.
The passage in Justin does not profess to be a direct quotation;
it is merely a historical reproduction, and, as such, it has quite
as much accuracy as we should expect to find. The circumstantial
coincidences are too close to be the result of accident. And Dr.
Keim is doubtless right in ridiculing Volkmar's notion that Justin
has merely developed Acts xiii. 25, which contains neither of the
two phrases ([Greek: ho Christos, phonae boontos]) in question. To
refer the passage to an unknown source such as the Gospel
according to the Hebrews--all we know of which shows its
affinities to have been rather on the side of the Synoptics--when
we have a known source in the fourth Gospel ready to hand, is
quite unreasonable [Endnote 280:1].
No great weight, though perhaps some fractional quantity, can be
ascribed to the statement that Jesus healed those who were maimed
from their birth ([Greek: tous ek genetaes paerous] [Endnote
280:2]). The word [Greek: paeros] is used specially for the blind,
and the fourth Evangelist is the only one who mentions the healing
of congenital infirmity, which he does under this same phrase
[Greek: ek genetaes], and that of a case of blindness (John ix.
1). The possibility urged in 'Supernatural Religion,' that Justin
may be merely drawing from tradition, may detract from the force
of this but cannot altogether remove it, especially as we have no
other trace of a tradition containing this particular.
Tischendorf [Endnote 280:3] lays stress on a somewhat remarkable
phenomenon in connection with the quotation of Zech. xvi. 10,
'They shall look on him whom they pierced.' Justin gives the text
of this in precisely the same form as St. John, and with the same
variation from the Septuagint, [Greek: opsontai eis hon
exekentaesan] for [Greek: epiblepsontai pros me anth hon
katorchaesanto]--a variation which is also found in Rev. i. 7.
Those who believe that the Apocalypse had the same author as the
Gospel, naturally see in this a confirmation of their view, and it
would seem to follow that Justin had had either one or both
writings before him. But the assumption of an identity of
authorship between the Apocalypse and the Gospel, though I believe
less unreasonable than is generally supposed, still is too much
disputed to build anything upon in argument. We must not ignore
the other theory, that all three writers had before them and may
have used independently a divergent text of the Septuagint. Some
countenance is given to this by the fact that ten MSS. of the
Septuagint present the same reading [Endnote 281:1]. There can be
little doubt however that it was in its origin a Christian
correction, which had the double advantage of at once bringing the
Greek into closer conformity to the Hebrew, and of also furnishing
support to the Christian application of the prophecy. Whether this
correction was made before either the Apocalypse or the Gospel
were written, or whether it appeared in these works for the first
time and from them was copied into other Christian writings, must
remain an open question.
The saying in Apol. i. 63, 'so that they are rightly convicted
both by the prophetic Spirit and by Christ Himself, that they knew
neither the Father nor the Son' ([Greek: oute ton patera oute ton
uion egnosan]), certainly presents a close resemblance to John
xvi. 3, [Greek: ouk egnosan ton patera oude eme]. But a study of
the context seems to make it clear that the only passage
consciously present to Justin's mind was Matt. xi. 27. Dr. Keim
thinks that St. John supplied him with a commentary oh the
Matthaean text; but the coincidence may be after all accidental.
But the most important isolated case of literary parallelism is
the well-known passage in Apol. i. 61 [Endnote 281:2].
_Apol_. i. 61.
For Christ said: Except ye be born again ye shall not enter into
the kingdom of heaven. Now that it is impossible for those who
have once been born to return into the wombs of those who bare
them is evident to all.
[Greek: Kai gar ho Christos eipen, An mae anagennaethaete, ou mae
eiselthaete eis taen Basileian ton ouranon. Hoti de kai adunaton
eis tas maetras ton tekouson tous hapax gennomenous embaenai,
phaneron pasin esti.]
_John_ iii. 3-5.
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee,
Except any one be born over again (or possibly 'from above'), he
cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a
man be born when he is old? can he enter a second time into his
mother's womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say
unto thee, Except any one be born of Water and Spirit, he cannot
enter into the kingdom of God.
[Greek: Apekrithae Iaesous kai eipen auto Amaen amaen lego soi,
ean mae tis gennaethae anothen ou dunatai idein taen Basilaian tou
Theou. Legei pros aouton ho Nikodaemos, Pos dunatai anthropos
gennaethaenai geron on; mae dunatai eis taen koilian taes maertros
autou deuteron eiselthein kai gennaethaenai; k.t.l.]
Here we have first to determine the meaning of the word [Greek: anothen]
in the phrase [Greek: gennaethae anothen] of John iii. 3 on which
the extent of the parallelism to some degree turns. Does it mean
'be born _over again_,' like Justin's [Greek: anagennaethaete]?
Or does it mean 'be born _from above_,' i.e. by a heavenly, divine,
regeneration? To express an opinion in favour of the first of these
views would naturally be to incur the charge of taking it up merely to
suit the occasion. It is not however necessary; for it is sufficient to
know that whether or not this meaning was originally intended by the
Evangelist, it is a meaning that Justin might certainly put upon the
words. That this is the case is sufficiently proved by the fact that
the Syriac version (which is quoted in 'Supernatural Religion,' by a
pardonable mistake, on the other side [Endnote 283:1]) actually
translates the words thus. So also does the Vulgate; with Tertullian
('renatus'), Augustine, Chrysostom (partly), Luther, Calvin,
Maldonatus, &c. For the sense 'from above' are the Gothic version,
Origen, Cyril, Theophylact, Bengel, &c.; on the whole a fairly equal
division of opinion. The question has been of late elaborately
re-argued by Mr. McClellan [Endnote 283:2], who decides in favour of
'again.' But, without taking sides either way, it is clear that Justin
would have had abundant support, in particular that of his own national
version, if he intended [Greek: anagennaethaete] to be a paraphrase of
[Greek: gennaethae anothen].
It is obvious that if he is quoting St. John the quotation is
throughout paraphrastic. And yet it is equally noticeable that he
does not use the exact Johannean phrase, he uses others that are
in each case almost precisely equivalent. He does not say [Greek:
our dunatai idein--taen basileian ton ouranon], but he says
[Greek: ou mae eiselthaete eis--taen basileian ton ouranon], the
latter pair phrases which the Synoptics have already taught us to
regard as convertible. He does not say [Greek: mae dunatai eis
taen koilian taes maetros autou deuteron eiselthein kai
gennaethaenai], but he says [Greek: adunaton eis tas maetras ton
tekouson tous hapax gennomenous embaebai]. And the scale seems
decisively turned by the very remarkable combination in Justin and
St. John of the saying respecting spiritual regeneration with the
same strangely gross physical misconception. It is all but
impossible that two minds without concert or connection should
have thought of introducing anything of the kind. Nicodemus makes
an objection, and Justin by repeating the same objection, and in a
form that savours so strongly of platitude, has shown, I think we
must say, conclusively, that he was aware that the objection had
Such are some of the chief literary coincidences between Justin
and the fourth Gospel; but there are others more profound. Justin
undoubtedly has the one cardinal doctrine of the fourth Gospel--
the doctrine of the Logos.
Thus he writes. 'Jesus Christ is in the proper sense [Greek:
idios] the only Son begotten of God, being His Word [Greek: logos]
and Firstborn Power' [Endnote 284:1]. Again, 'But His Son who
alone is rightly [Greek: kurios] called Son, who before all
created things was with Him and begotten of Him as His Word, when
in the beginning He created and ordered all things through Him,'
&c. Again, 'Now the next Power to God the Father and Lord of all,
and Son [Endnote 284:2], is the Word, of whom we shall relate in
what follows how He was made flesh and became Man.' Again,
'The Word of God is His Son.' Again, speaking of the Gentile
philosophers and lawgivers, 'Since they did not know all things
respecting the Word, who is Christ, they have also frequently
contradicted each other.' These passages are given by Tischendorf,
and they might be added to without difficulty; but it is not
questioned that the term Logos is found frequently in Justin's
writings, and in the same sense in which it is used in the
Prologue of the fourth Gospel of the eternal Son of God, who is at
the same time the historical person Jesus Christ.
The natural inference that Justin was acquainted with the fourth
Gospel is met by suggesting other sources for the doctrine. These
sources are of two kinds, Jewish or Alexandrine.
It is no doubt true that a vivid personification of the Wisdom of
God is found both in the Old Testament and in the Apocrypha. Thus
in the book of Proverbs we have an elaborate ode upon Wisdom as
the eternal assessor in the counsels of God: 'The Lord possessed
me in' the beginning of His way, before His works of old. I was
set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth
was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there
were no fountains of water ... When He prepared the heavens, I was
there: when He set a compass upon the face of the deep ... Then I
was by Him, as one brought up with Him: and I was daily His
delight, rejoicing always before Him' [Endnote 285:1]. The ideas
of which this is perhaps the clearest expression are found more
vaguely in other parts of the same book, in the Psalms, and in the
book of Job, but they are further expanded and developed in the
two Apocryphal books of Wisdom. There [Endnote 285:2] Wisdom is
represented as the 'breath of the power of God, and a pure
influence flowing from the glory of the Almighty,' as 'the
brightness [Greek: apaugasma] of the everlasting light, the
unspotted mirror of the power of God, and the image of His
goodness.' Wisdom 'sitteth by the throne' of God. She reacheth
from one end to another mightily: and sweetly doth she order all
things.' 'She is privy to the mysteries of the knowledge of God
and a lover of His works.' God 'created her before the world'
[Endnote 286:1]. We also get by the side of this, but in quite a
subordinate place and in a much less advanced stage of personification,
the idea of the Word or Logos: 'O God of my fathers ... who hast
made all things with thy word, and ordained man through thy wisdom'
[Endnote 286:2]. 'It was neither herb nor mollifying plaister that
restored them to health: but thy word, O Lord, which healeth all things.'
It was 'the Almighty word' ([Greek: ho pantodunamos logos]) 'that
leaped down from heaven' to slay the Egyptians.
But still it will be seen that there is a distinct gap between
these conceptions and that which we find in Justin. The leading
idea is that of Wisdom, not of the Word. The Word is not even
personified separately; it is merely the emitted power or energy
of God. And the personification of Wisdom is still to a large
extent poetical, it does not attain to separate metaphysical
hypostasis; it is not thought of as being really personal.
The Philonian conception, on the other hand, is metaphysical, but
it contains many elements that are quite discordant and
inconsistent with that which we find in Justin. That it must have
been so will be seen at once when we think of the sources from
which Philo's doctrine was derived. It included in itself the
Platonic theory of Ideas, the diffused Logos or _anima mundi_
of the Stoics, and the Oriental angelology or doctrine of
intermediate beings between God and man. On its Platonic side the
Logos is the Idea of Ideas summing up the world of high
abstractions which themselves are also regarded as possessing a
separate individuality; they are Logoi by the side of the Logos.
On its Stoic side it becomes a Pantheistic Essence pervading the
life of things; it is 'the law,' 'the bond' which holds the world
together; the world is its 'garment.' On its Eastern side, the
Logos is the 'Archangel,' the 'Captain of the hosts of heaven,'
the 'Mother-city' from which they issue as colonists, the 'Vice-
gerent' of the Great King [Endnote 287:1].
It needed a more powerful mind than Justin's to reduce all this to
its simple Christian expression, to take the poetry of Judaea and
the philosophy of Alexandria and to interpret and realise both in
the light of the historical events of the birth and life of
Christ. 'The Word became flesh' is the key by which Justin is made
intelligible, and that key is supplied by the fourth Gospel. No
other Christian writer had combined these two ideas before--the
divine Logos, with the historical personality of Jesus. When
therefore we find the ideas combined as in Justin, we are
necessarily referred to the fourth Gospel for them; for the
strangely inverted suggestion of Volkmar, that the author of the
fourth Gospel borrowed from Justin, is on chronological, if not on
other grounds, certainly untenable. We shall see that the fourth
Gospel was without doubt in existence at the date which Volkmar
assigns to Justin's Apology, 150 A. D.
* * * * *
The history of the discussion as to the relation of the Clementine
Homilies to the fourth Gospel is highly instructive, not only in
itself, but also for the light which it throws upon the general
character of our enquiry and the documents with which it is
concerned. It has been already mentioned that up to the year 1853
the Clementine Homilies were only extant in a mutilated form,
ending abruptly in the middle of Hom. xix. 14. In that year a
complete edition was at last published by Dressel from a
manuscript in the Vatican containing the rest of the nineteenth
and the twentieth Homily. The older portion occupies in all, with
the translation and critical apparatus, 381 large octavo pages in
Dressel's edition; the portion added by Dressel occupies 34. And
yet up to 1853, though the Clementine Homilies had been carefully
studied with reference to the use of the fourth Gospel, only a few
indications had been found, and those were disputed. In fact, the
controversy was very much at such a point as others with which we
have been dealing; there was a certain probability in favour of
the conclusion that the Gospel had been used, but still
considerably short of the highest. Since the publication of the
conclusion of the Homilies the question has been set at rest.
Hilgenfeld, who had hitherto been a determined advocate of the
negative theory, at once gave up his ground [Endnote 288:1]; and
Volkmar, who had somewhat less to retract, admitted and admits
[Endnote 288:2] that the fact of the use of the Gospel must be
considered as proved. The author of 'Supernatural Religion' stands
alone in still resisting this conviction [Endnote 288:3], but the
result I suspect will be only to show in stronger relief the one-
sidedness of his critical method.
We will follow the example that is set us in presenting the whole
of the passages alleged to contain allusions to the fourth Gospel;
and it is the more interesting to do so with the key that the
recent discovery has put into Our hands. The first runs thus:--
_Hom._ iii. 52.
Therefore he, being a true prophet, said: I am the gate of life;
he that entereth in through me entereth into life: for the
teaching that can save is none other [than mine].
[Greek: Dia touto autos alaethaes on prophaetaes elegen; Ego eimi
hae pulae taes zoaes; ho di' emou eiserchomenos eiserchetai eis
taen zoaen; hos ouk ousaes heteras taes sozein dunamenaes
_John_ x. 9.
I am the door: by me if any one enter in, he shall be saved, and
shall come in and go out, and shall find pasture.
[Greek: Ego eimi hae thura; di' emou ean tis eiselthae sothaesetai
kai eiseleusetai kai exeleusetai kai nomaen heuraesei.]
Apart from other evidence it would have been somewhat precarious
to allege this as proof of the use of the fourth Gospel, and yet I
believe there would have been a distinct probability that it was
taken from that work. The parallel is much closer--in spite of
[Greek: thura] for [Greek: pulae]--than is Matt. vii. 13, 14 (the
'narrow gate') which is adduced in 'Supernatural Religion,' and
the interval is very insufficiently bridged over by Ps. cxviii.
19, 20 ('This is the gate of the Lord'). The key-note of the
passage is given in the identification of the gate with the person
of the Saviour ('_I_ am the door') and in the remarkable
expression 'he that entereth in _through me_,' which is
retained in the Homily. It is curious to notice the way in which
the [Greek: sothaesetai] of the Gospel has been expanded
Less doubtful--and indeed we should have thought almost beyond a
doubt--is the next reference; 'My sheep hear my voice.'
_Hom._ iii. 52.
[Greek: ta ema probata akouei taes emaes phonaes.]
_John_ x. 27. [Greek: ta probata ta ema taes phonaes mou
'There was no more common representation amongst the Jews of the
relation of God and his people than that of Shepherd and his
sheep' [Endnote 290:1]. That is to say, it occurs of Jehovah or of
the Messiah some twelve or fifteen times in the Old and New
Testament together, but never with anything at all closely
approaching to the precise and particular feature given here. Let
the reader try to estimate the chances that another source than
the fourth Gospel is being quoted. Criticism is made null and void
when such seemingly plain indications as this are discarded in
favour of entirely unknown quantities like the 'Gospel according
to the Hebrews.' If the author of 'Supernatural Religion' were to
turn his own powers of derisive statement against his own
hypotheses they would present a very strange appearance.
The reference that follows has in some respects a rather marked
resemblance to that which we were discussing in Justin, and for
the relation between them to be fully appreciated should be given
along with it:--
_Justin, Apol._ i. 61.
Except ye be born again ye shall not enter into the kingdom of
[Greek: An mae anagennaethaete ou mae eiselthaete eis taen
basileian ton ouranon.]
_Clem. Hom._ xi. 26.
Verily I say unto you, Except ye be born again with living water,
in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, ye shall not enter
into the kingdom of heaven.
[Greek: Amaen humin lego, ean mae anagennaethaete hudati zonti eis
onoma patros, uhiou, hagiou pneumatos, ou mae eiselthaete eis taen
basileian ton ouranon.]
_John_ iii. 3, 5. Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except
any one be born over again (or 'from above') he cannot see the
kingdom of God ... Except any one be born of water and Spirit, he
cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
[Greek: Amaen amaen lego soi, ean mae tis gennaethae anothen, ou
dunatai idein taen basileian tou Theou ... ean mae tis gennaethae
ex hudatos kai pneumatos, ou dunatai eiselthein eis taen basileian
[Greek: pneum]. add. [Greek: hagiou] Vulg. (Clementine edition),
a, ff, m, Aeth., Orig. (Latin translator).
Here it will be noticed that Justin and the Clementines have four
points in common, [Greek: anagennaethaete] for [Greek: gennaethae
anothen], the second person plural (twice over) for [Greek: tis]
and the singular, [Greek: ou mae] and the subjunctive for [Greek:
ou dunatai] and infinitive, and [Greek: taen basileian ton
ouranon], for [Greek: taen basileian tou Theou]. To the last of
these points much importance could not be attached in itself, as
it represents a persistent difference between the first and the
other Synoptists even where they had the same original. As both
the Clementines and Justin used the first Gospel more than the
others, it is only natural that they should fall into the habit of
using its characteristic phrase. Neither would the other points
have had very much importance taken separately, but their
importance increases considerably when they come to be taken
On the other hand, we observe in the Clementines (where it is
however connected with Matt. xxviii. 19) the sufficiently near
equivalent for the striking Johannean phrase [Greek: ex hudatos
kai pneumatos] which is omitted entirely by Justin.
The most probable view of the case seems to be that both the
Clementines and Justin are quoting from memory. Both have in their
memory the passage of St. John, but both have also distinctly
before them (so much the more distinctly as it is the Gospel which
they habitually used) the parallel passage in Matt. xviii. 3--
where _all the last three_ out of the four common variations
are found, besides, along with the Clementines, the omission of
the second [Greek: amaen],--'Verily I say unto you, Except ye be
converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into
the kingdom of heaven' ([Greek: on mae eiseathaete eis taen
basileian ton ouranon]). It is out of the question that this
_only_ should have been present to the mind of the writers;
and, in view of the repetition of Nicodemus' misunderstanding by
Justin and of the baptism by water and Spirit in the Clementine
Homilies, it seems equally difficult to exclude the reference to
St. John. It is in fact a Johannean saying in a Matthaean
There is the more reason to accept this solution, that neither
Justin nor the Clementines can in any case represent the original
form of the passages quoted. If Justin's version were correct,
whence did the Clementines get the [Greek: hudati zonti k.t.l.]? if
the Clementine, then whence did Justin get the misconception of
Nicodemus? But the Clementine version is in any case too eccentric
The last passage is the one that is usually considered to be
decisive as to the use of the fourth Gospel.
_Hom_. xix. 22.
Hence too our Teacher, when explaining to those who asked of him
respecting the man who was blind from his birth and recovered his
sight, whether this man sinned or his parents that he should be
born blind, replied: Neither this man sinned, nor his parents; but
that through him the power of God might be manifested healing the
sins of ignorance.
[Greek: Hothen kai didaskalos haemon peri tou [Endnote 293:1] ek
genetaes paerou kai anablepsantos par' autou exetazon erotaesasin,
ei ohutos haemarten ae oi goneis autou, hina tuphlos gennaethae
[Endnote 293:1] apekrinato oute ohutos ti haemarten, oute oi
goneis autou, all' hina di autou phanerothae hae dunamis tou Theou
taes agnoias iomenae ta hamartaemata.]
_John_ ix. 1-3.
And as he passed by, he saw a man blind from his birth. And his
disciples asked him, saying, Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his
parents, that he should be born blind? Jesus answered, Neither
hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God
should be manifested in him.
[Greek: Kai paragon eiden anthropon tuphlon ek genetaes. Kai
aerotaesan auton oi mathaetai autou legontes, Rhabbei, tis
haemarten, ohutos ae oi goneis autou, hina tuphlos gennaethae;
apekrithae Iaesous, Oute ohutos haemarten oute oi goneis autou,
all' hina phanerothae ta erga tou Theou en auto.]
The author of 'Supernatural Religion' undertakes to show 'that
the context of this passage in the Homily bears positive
characteristics which render it impossible that it can have been
taken from the fourth Gospel' [Endnote 293:2]. I think we may
venture to say that he does indeed show somewhat conspicuously the
way in which he uses the word 'impossible' and the kind of grounds
on which that and such like terms are employed throughout his
It is a notorious fact, abundantly established by certain
quotations from the Old Testament and elsewhere, that the last
thing regarded by the early patristic writers was context. But in
this case the context is perfectly in keeping, and to a clear and
unprejudiced eye it presents no difficulty. The Clementine writer
is speaking of the origin of physical infirmities, and he says
that these are frequently due, not to moral error, but to mere
ignorance on the part of parents. As an instance of this he gives
the case of the man who was born blind, of whom our Lord expressly
said that neither he nor his parents had sinned--morally or in
such a way as to deserve punishment. On the contrary they had
erred simply through ignorance, and the object of the miracle was
to make a display of the Divine mercy removing the consequences of
such error. 'And in reality,' he proceeds, 'things of this kind
are the result of ignorance. The misfortunes of which you spoke,
proceed from ignorance and not from any wicked action.' This is
perfectly compatible with every word of the Johannean narrative.
The concluding clause of the quotation is merely a paraphrase of
the original (no part of the quotation professes to be exact),
bringing out a little more prominently the special point of the
argument. There is ample room for this. The predetermined object
of the miracle, says St. John, was to display the works of God,
and the Clementine writer specifies the particular work of God
displayed--the mercy which heals the evil consequences of
ignorance. If there is anything here at all inconsistent with the
Gospel it would be interesting to know (and we are not told) what
was the kind of original that the author of the Homily really had
A further discussion of this passage I should hardly suppose to be
necessary. Nothing could be more wanton than to assign this
passage to an imaginary Gospel merely on the ground alleged. The
hypothesis was less violent in regard to the Synoptic Gospels,
which clearly contain a large amount of common matter that might
also have found its way into other hands. We have evidence of the
existence of other Gospels presenting a certain amount of affinity
to the first Gospel, but the fourth is stamped with an idiosyncracy
which makes it unique in its kind. If there is to be this freedom
in inventing unknown documents, reproducing almost verbatim the
features of known ones, sober criticism is at an end.
That the Clementine Homilies imply the use of the fourth Gospel
may be considered to be, not indeed certain in a strict sense of
the word, but as probable as most human affairs can be. The real
element or doubt is in regard to their date, and their evidence
must be taken subject to this uncertainty.
* * * * *
It is perhaps hardly worth while to delay over the Epistle to
Diognetus: not that I do not believe the instances alleged by
Tischendorf and Dr. Westcott [Endnote 295:1] to be in themselves
sound, but because there exists too little evidence to determine
the date of the Epistle, and because it may be doubted whether the
argument for the use of the fourth Gospel in the Epistle can be
expressed strongly in an objective form. The allusions in question
are not direct quotations, but are rather reminiscences of
language. The author of 'Supernatural Religion' has treated them
as if they were the former [Endnote 296:1]; he has enquired into
the context &c., not very successfully. But such enquiry is really
out of place. When the writer of the Epistle says, 'Christians
dwell in the world but are not of the world' [Greek: ouk xisi de
ek tou kosmou] = exactly John xvii. 14; note peculiar use of the
preposition); 'For God loved men for whose sakes He made the world
... unto whom He sent His only begotten Son' (= John iii. 16, 'God
so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son'); 'How will
you love Him who so beforehand loved you' [Greek: proagapaesanta];
cf. i John iv. 19, [Greek: protos aegapaesen] 'He sent His Son as
wishing to save ... and not to condemn' ([Greek: sozon ... krinon]
of. John iii. 16),--the probability is about as great that he had
in his mind St. John's language as it would be if the same phrases
were to occur in a modern sermon. It is a real probability; but
not one that can be urged very strongly.
* * * * *
Of more importance--indeed of high importance--is the evidence
drawn from the remains of earlier writers preserved by Irenaeus
and Hippolytus. There is a clear reference to the fourth Gospel in
a passage for which Irenaeus alleges the authority of certain
'Presbyters,' who at the least belonged to an elder generation
than his own. There can be little doubt indeed that they are the
same as those whom he describes three sentences later and with
only a momentary break in the oblique narration into which the
passage is thrown, as 'the Presbyters, disciples of the Apostles.'
It may be well to give the language of Irenaeus in full as it has
been the subject of some controversy. Speaking of the rewards of
the just in the next world, he says [Endnote 297:1]:--
'For Esaias says, "Like as the new heaven and new earth which I
create remain before me, saith the Lord, so your seed and your
name shall stand." And as the Presbyters say, then too those who
are thought worthy to have their abode in Heaven shall go thither,
and some shall enjoy the delights of Paradise, while others shall
possess the splendour of the City; for everywhere the Saviour
shall be seen according as they shall be worthy who look upon Him.
[So far the sentence has been in oratio recta, but here it becomes
oblique.] And [they say] that there is this distinction in
dwelling between those who bear fruit an hundred fold and those
who bear sixty and those who bear thirty, some of whom shall be
carried off into the Heavens, some shall stay in Paradise, and
some shall dwell in the City. And for this reason, [they say that]
the Lord declared ([Greek: eipaekenai]) that _in my Father's_
[realm] _are many mansions;_ for all things [are] of God, who
gives to all the fitting habitation: even as His Word saith
(_ait_), that to all is allotted by the Father as each is or
shall be worthy. And this is (_est_) the couch upon which
they shall recline who are bidden to His marriage supper. That
this is (_esse_) the order and disposition of the saved, the
Presbyters, disciples of the Apostles, say,' etc.
That Irenaeus is here merely giving the 'exegesis of his own day,'
as the author of 'Supernatural Religion' suggests [Endnote 297:2],
is not for a moment tenable. Irenaeus does indeed interpose for
two sentences (Omnia enim... ad nuptias) to give his own comment
on the saying of the Presbyters; but these are sharply cut off
from the rest by the use of the present indicative instead of the
infinitive. There can be no question at all that the quotation 'in
My Father's realm are many mansions' [Greek: en tois ton Patros
mon monas einai pollas] belongs to the Presbyters, and there can
be but little doubt that these Presbyters are the same as those
spoken of as 'disciples of the Apostles.'
Whether they were also 'the Presbyters' referred to as his
authority by Papias is quite a secondary and subordinate question.
Considering the Chiliastic character of the passage, the
conjecture [Endnote 298:1] that they were does not seem to me
unreasonable. This however we cannot determine positively. It is
quite enough that Irenaeus evidently attributes to them an
antiquity considerably beyond his own; that, in fact, he looks
upon them as supplying the intermediate link between his age and
that of the Apostles.
* * * * *
Two quotations from the fourth Gospel are attributed to Basilides,
both of them quite indisputable as quotations. The first is found
in the twenty-second chapter of the seventh book of the
'Refutation,' 'That was the true light which lighteth every man
that cometh into the world [Endnote 298:2] ([Greek: aen to phos to
alaethinon, o photizei panta anthropon erchomenon eis ton kosmon]
= John i. 9), and the second in the twenty-seventh chapter, 'My
hour is not yet come' ([Greek: oupo aekei aeora mon] = John ii.
4). Both of these passages are instances of the exegesis by which
the Basilidian doctrines were defended.
The real question is here, as in regard to the Synoptics, whether
the quotations were made by Basilides himself or by his disciples,
'Isidore and his crew.' The second instance I am disposed to think
may possibly be due to the later representatives of this school,
because, though the quotation is introduced by [Greek: phaesi] in
the singular, and though Basilides himself can in no case be
excluded, still there is nothing in the chapter to identify the
subject of [Greek: phaesi] specially with him, and in the next
sentence Hippolytus writes, 'This is that which they understand
([Greek: ho kat' autous nenoaemenos]) by the inner spiritual man,'
&c. But the earlier instance is different. There Basilides himself
does seem to be specially singled out.
He is mentioned by name only two sentences above that in which the
quotation occurs. Hippolytus is referring to the Basilidian
doctrine of the origin of things. He says, 'Now since it was not
allowable to say that something non-existent had come into being
as a projection from a non-existent Deity--for Basilides avoids
and shuns the existences of things brought into being by
projection [Endnote 299:1]--for what need is there of projection,
or why should matter be presupposed in order that God should make
a world, just as a spider its web or as mortal man in making
things takes brass or wood or any other portion of matter? But He
spake--so he says--and it was done, and this is, as these men say,
that which is said by Moses: "Let there be light, and there was
light." Whence, he says, came the light? Out of nothing; for we
are not told--he says--whence it came, but only that it was at the
voice of Him that spake. Now He that spake--he says--was not, and
that which was made, was not. Out of that which was not--he says--
was made the seed of the world, the word which was spoken, "Let
there be light;" and this--he says--is that which is spoken in
the Gospels; "That was the true light which lighteth every man
that cometh into the world.'" We must not indeed overlook the fact
that the plural occurs once in the middle of this passage as
introducing the words of Moses; 'as these men say.' And yet,
though this decidedly modifies, I do not think that it removes the
probability that Basilides himself is being quoted. It seems a
fair inference that at the beginning of the passage Hippolytus had
the work of Basilides actually before him; and the single
digression in [Greek: legousin houtoi] does not seem enough to
show that it was laid aside. This is confirmed when we look back
two chapters at the terms in which the whole account of the
Basilidian system is introduced. 'Let us see,' Hippolytus says,
'how flagrantly Basilides as well as (B. [Greek: homou kai])
Isidore and all their crew contradict not only Matthias but the
Saviour himself.' Stress is laid upon the name of Basilides, as if
to say, 'It is not merely a new-fangled heresy, but dates back to
the head and founder of the school.' When in the very next
sentence Hippolytus begins with [Greek: phaesi], the natural
construction certainly seems to be that he is quoting some work of
Basilides which he takes as typical of the doctrine of the whole
school. A later work would not suit his purpose or prove his
point. Basilides includes Isidore, but Isidore does not include
We conclude then that there is a probability--not an overwhelming,
but quite a substantial, probability--that Basilides himself used
the fourth Gospel, and used it as an authoritative record of the
life of Christ. But Basilides began to teach in 125 A.D., so that
his evidence, supposing it to be valid, dates from a very early
period indeed: and it should be remembered that this is the only
uncertainty to which it is subject. That the quotation is really
from St. John cannot be doubted.
The account which Hippolytus gives of the Valentinians also
contains an allusion to the fourth Gospel; 'All who came before Me
are thieves and robbers' (cf. John x. 8). But here the master and
the disciples are more confused. Less equivocal evidence is
afforded by the statements of Irenaeus respecting the Valentinians.
He says that the Valentinians used the fourth Gospel very freely
(plenissime) [Endnote 301:1]. This applies to a date that cannot
be in any case later than 180 A.D., and that may extend almost
indefinitely backwards. There is no reason to say that it does not
include Valentinus himself. Positive evidence is wanting, but negative
evidence still more. Apart from evidence to the contrary, there must
be a presumption against the introduction of a new work which becomes
at once a frequently quoted authority midway in the history of a school.
But to keep to facts apart from presumptions. Irenaeus represents
Ptolemaeus as quoting largely from the Prologue to the Gospel. But
Ptolemaeus, as we have seen, had already gathered a school about
him when Irenaeus became acquainted with him. His evidence
therefore may fairly be said to cover the period from 165-175 A.D.
The author of 'Supernatural Religion' seems to be somewhat beside
the mark when he says that 'in regard to Ptolemaeus all that is
affirmed is that in the Epistle to Flora ascribed to him
expressions found in John i. 3 are used.' True it is that such
expressions are found, and before we accept the theory in
'Supernatural Religion' that the parenthesis in which they occur
is due to Epiphanius who quotes the letter in full himself
[Endnote 302:1], it is only right that some other instance should
be given of such parenthetic interruption. The form in which the
letter is quoted, not in fragments interspersed with comments but
complete and at full length, with a formal heading and close,
really excludes such a hypothesis. But, a century and a half
before Epiphanius, Irenaeus had given a string of Valentinian
comments on the Prologue, ending with the words, 'Et Ptolemaeus
quidem ita' [Endnote 302:2]. Heracleon, too, is coupled with
Ptolemaeus by Irenaeus [Endnote 302:3], and according to the view
of the author of 'Supernatural Religion,' had a school around him
at the time of Irenaeus' visit to Rome in 178 A.D. But this
Heracleon was the author of a Commentary on St. John's Gospel to
which Origen in his own parallel work frequently alludes. These
are indeed dismissed in 'Supernatural Religion' as 'unsupported
references.' But we may well ask, what support they need. The
references are made in evident good faith. He says, for instance
[Endnote 302:4], that Heracleon's exegesis of John i. 3, 'All
things were made by Him,' excluding from this the world and its
contents, is very forced and without authority. Again, he has
misinterpreted John i. 4, making 'in Him was life' mean not 'in
Him' but 'in spiritual men.' Again, he wrongly attributes John i.
18 not to the Evangelist, but to the Baptist. And so on. The
allusions are all made in this incidental manner; and the life of
Origen, if he was born, as is supposed, about 185 A.D., would
overlap that of Heracleon. What evidence could be more sufficient?
or if such evidence is to be discarded, what evidence are we to
accept? Is it to be of the kind that is relied upon for referring
quotations to the Gospel according to the Hebrews, or the Gospel
according to Peter, or the [Greek: Genna Marias]? There are
sometimes no doubt reasonable grounds for scepticism as to the
patristic statements, but none such are visible here. On the
contrary, that Heracleon should have written a commentary on the
fourth Gospel falls in entirely with what Irenaeus says as to the
large use that was made of that Gospel by the Valentinians.
* * * * *
As we approach the end of the third and beginning of the fourth
quarter of the second century the evidence for the fourth Gospel
becomes widespread and abundant. At this date we have attention
called to the discrepancy between the Gospels as to the date of
the Crucifixion by Claudius Apollinaris. We have also Tatian, the
Epistle of the Churches of Vienne and Lyons, the heathen Celsus
and the Muratorian Canon, and then a very few years later
Theophilus of Antioch and Irenaeus.
I imagine that there can be really no doubt about Tatian. Whatever
may have been the nature of the Diatessaron, the 'Address to the
Greeks' contains references which it is mere paradox to dispute. I
will not press the first of these which is given by Dr. Westcott,
not because I do not believe that it is ultimately based upon the
fourth Gospel, still less that there is the slightest contradiction
to St. John's doctrine, but because Tatian's is a philosophical comment
perhaps a degree too far removed from the original to be quite
producible as evidence. It is one of the earliest speculations as to
the ontological relation between the Father and the Son. In the
beginning God was alone--though all things were with Him potentially.
By the mere act of volition He gave birth to the Logos, who was the
real originative cause of things. Yet the existence of the Logos was
not such as to involve a separation of identity in the Godhead; it
involved no diminution in Him from whom the Logos issued. Having been
thus first begotten, the Logos in turn begat our creation, &c. The
Logos is thus represented as being at once prior to creation (the
Johannean [Greek: en archae]) and the efficient cause of it--which is
precisely the doctrine of the Prologue.
The other two passages are however quite unequivocal.
_Orat. ad Graecos_, c. xiii.
And this is therefore that saying: The darkness comprehends not
[Greek: Kai touto estin ara to eiraemenon Hae skotia to phos ou
_John_ i. 5.
And the light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness
comprehended it not.
[Greek: Kai to phos en tae skotia phainei, kai hae skotia auto ou
On this there is the following comment in 'Supernatural Religion'
[Endnote 305:1]: '"The saying" is distinctly different in language
from the parallel in the Gospel, and it may be from a different
Gospel. We have already remarked that Philo called the Logos "the
Light," and quoting in a peculiar form, Ps. xxvi. 1: 'For the Lord
is my light ([Greek: phos]) and my Saviour,' he goes on to say
that as the sun divides day and night, so Moses says, 'God divides
light and darkness' ([Greek: Theon phos kai skotos diateichisai]),
when we turn away to things of sense we use 'another light' which
is in no way different from 'darkness.' The constant use of the
same similitude of light and darkness in the Canonical Epistles
shows how current it was in the Church; and nothing is more
certain than the fact that it was neither originated by, nor
confined to, the fourth Gospel.' Such criticism refutes itself,
and it is far too characteristic of the whole book. Nothing is
adduced that even remotely corresponds to the very remarkable
phrase [Greek: hae skotia to phos katalambanei], and yet for these
imaginary parallels one that is perfectly plain and direct is
The use of the phrase [Greek: to eiraemenon] should be noticed. It
is the formula used, especially by St. Luke, in quotation from the
Old Testament Scriptures.
The other passage is:--
_Orat. ad Graecos_, c. xix.
All things were by him, and without him hath been made nothing.
[Greek: Panta hup' autou kai choris autou gegonen oude hen.]
_John_ i. 3.
All things were made through him; and without him was nothing made
[that hath been made].
[Greek: Panta di' autou egeneto, kai choris autou egeneto oude hen
[ho gegonen]]. 'The early Fathers, no less than the early
heretics,' placed the full stop at [Greek: oude hen], connecting
the words that follow with the next sentence. See M'Clellan and
Tregelles _ad loc_.
'Tatian here speaks of God and not of the Logos, and in this
respect, as well as language and context, the passage differs from
the fourth Gospel' [Endnote 306:1], &c. Nevertheless it may safely
be left to the reader to say whether or not it was taken from it.
The Epistle of the Churches of Vienne and Lyons contains the
_Ep. Vienne. et Lugd_. Sec. iv.
Thus too was fulfilled that which was spoken by our Lord; that a
time shall come in which every one that killeth you shall think
that he offereth God service.
[Greek: Eleusetai kairos en o pas ho apokteinas humas doxei
latreian prospherein to Theo.]
_John_ xvi. 2.
Yea, the hour cometh, that every one that killeth you will think
he offereth God service.
[Greek: All' erchetai hora hina pas ho apokteinas humas, doxae
latreian prospherein to Theo.]
It is true that there are 'indications of similar discourses' in
the Synoptics, but of none containing a trait at all closely
resembling this. The chances that precisely the same combination
of words ([Greek: ho apokteinas humas doxei latreian prospherein
to Theo]) occurred in a lost Gospel must be necessarily very small
indeed, especially when we remember that the original saying was
probably spoken in Aramaic and not in Greek [Endnote 307:1].