From  the  book  “THE  HISTORY  OF  THE  CHURCH”  



Book 3

Vespasian to Trajan: the distribution and

writings of the Apostles and their

successors! enemies within the

church: persecutions

Countries evangelized by the apostles: the first Bishop of Rome: apostolic epistles: the apostles’ first successors

1. Such then was the plight of the Jews. Meanwhile the holy apostles and disciples of our Saviour were scattered over the whole world. Thomas, tradition tells us, was chosen for Parthia, Andrew for Scythia, John for Asia, where he remained till his death at Ephesus. P^ter seems to have preached in Pontus, Galatia and Bithynia, Cappadocia and Asia, to the Jews of the DispersioiilyPinally, he came to Rome where he was crucified, head downwards at his own request. What need be said of Paul, who from Jerusalem as far as Illyricum preached in all its fulness the gospel of Christ,2 and later was martyred in Rome under Nero? This is exactly what Origen tells us in Volume in of his Commentary on Genesis.

2. After the martyrdom of Paul and Peter3 the first man to be appointed Bishop of Rome was Linus. He is mentioned


1. Peter i. i: Peter does not say that he had preached in these areas; the Dispersion means Jews outside Palestine.

2. Romans xv. 19.

3. Believing that Paul died before Peter (pp. 104, no), Eusebius puts Paul first whenever he has their deaths in rnind. But we find Peter put first in quotations from Dionysius and Irenaeus, who are referring to his arrival in Rome, which they believed to be prior to Paul's, as did Eusebius (p. 88).


by Paul when writing to Timothy from Rome, in the salutation at the end of the epistle.1

3. Of Peter one epistle, known as his first, is accepted, and this the early fathers quoted freely, as undoubtedly genuine, in their own writings. But the second Petrine epistle we have been taught to regard as uncanonical; many, however, have thought it valuable and have honoured it with a place among the other Scriptures. On the other hand, in the case of the 'Acts' attributed to him, the 'Gospel' that bears his name, the 'Preaching' called his, and the so-called 'Revelation', we have no reason at all to include these among the traditional Catholic Scriptures, for neither in early days nor in our own has any Church writer made use of their testimony.2 In the course of my narrative I shall take care to indicate in each period which of the Church historians of the time used the various disputed books; their comments on the canonical and recognized Scriptures; and their remarks about the other sort.

These then are the works attributed to Peter, of which I have recognized only one epistle as authentic and accepted by the early fathers. Paul on the other hand was obviously and unmistakably the author of the fourteen epistles, but we must not shut our eyes to the fact that some authorities have rejected the Epistle to the Hebrews, pointing out that the Roman Church denies that it is the work of Paul: what our predecessors have said about it I will quote at the proper time. As for the 'Acts' attributed to him, no one has ever suggested to me that they are genuine.

As the same apostle, in the salutations that conclude the Epistle to the Romans, has referred among others to Hermas, the reputed author of the 'Shepherd',3 it is to be noted that


1. 2 Tim. iv. 21.

2. Eusebius is in error here.

3. The ‘Shepherd’ finds a place in Codex Sinaiticus, one of the great fourth-century MSS.

this, too, has been rejected by some authorities and therefore cannot be placed among the accepted books. Others, however, have judged it indispensable, especially to those in need of elementary instruction. Hence we know that it has been used before now in public worship, and some of the earliest writers made use of it, as I have discovered.

4. That by his preaching to the Gentiles Paul had laid the foundations of the churches from Jerusalem by a roundabout route as far as Illyricum is obvious from his own words and from Luke's account in the Acts. Similarly, from Peter's language we can gather the names of the provinces in which he preached the gospel of Christ to the circumcised, proclaiming the message of the New Covenant. It is clearly stated in the epistle which, as I said, is accepted as his, in which he writes to the Hebrews of the Dispersion in Pontus and Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. But how many of them and which ones became genuine enthusiasts, and were judged fit to shepherd the churches founded by the apostles, is not easy to determine, except for those whose names can be extracted from the statements of Paul. For he had innumerable fellow-workers or - as he himself called them - fellow-soldiers.1 Most of these he has honoured with an imperishable memory, paying them constant tribute in his own letters. Again Luke in the Acts, in listing Paul's disciples, mentions them by name. We may instance Timothy, stated to have been the first bishop appointed to the see of Ephesus, as was Titus to the churches of Crete.

Luke, by birth an Antiochene and by profession a physician, was for long periods a companion of Paul and was closely associated with the other apostles as well. So he has left us examples of the art of healing souls which he learnt from them in two divinely inspired books, the Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. The former, he declares, he wrote in accordance


I. Phil. ii. 25, Philem. 2.


with the information he received from those who from the first had been eyewitnesses and ministers of the word, information which, he adds, he had followed in its entirety from the first.1 The latter he composed not this time from hearsay but from the evidence of his own eyes.2 It is actually suggested that Paul was in the habit of referring to Luke's gospel whenever he said, as if writing of some Gospel of his own: 'According to my gospel.'3

Of his other followers, Paul informs us that Crescens had set out for Gaul.4 Linus, who is mentioned in the Second Epistle to Timothy as being with Paul in Rome, as stated above was the first after Peter to be appointed Bishop of Rome.5 Clement again, who became the third Bishop of Rome, was, as the Apostle himself testifies, Paul's fellow-worker and fellow-combatant.6 Besides these there was the Areopagite, Dionysius by name, who was, as Luke related in the Acts, the first convert after Paul's address to the Athenians in the Areopagus.7 He became the first Bishop of Athens, a fact recorded by a very early writer, another Dionysius, pastor of the see of Corinth. As we go on our way I shall take the opportunity to set out the details of the chronological sequence from the apostles. For the moment I had better proceed to the next stage in the story.

The final siege of the Jews after Christ: the crushing weight of famine

5. When Nero had been master of the empire for thirteen years, the business of Galba and Otho occupied a year and


1. Luke i. 2-3.

2. Certainly true of the ‘we’ passages at least.

3. Rom. ii. 16, xvi. 25; 2 Tim. ii. 8.

4. 2 Tim. iv. 10, where our oldest ms. agrees with Eusebius that Paul wrote 'Gaul', not 'Galatia'.

5. The mention of Peter without Paul clearly implies that he outlived his fellow-apostle.

6. Phil. iv. 3, where the translation should run: 'They were fellow-combatants with me in the gospel, with Clement also.'       

7. Acts xvii. 34.


a half; and then Vespasian, after his dazzling success in the campaigns against the Jews, was proclaimed emperor while still in Judaea, after being hailed as Imperator by the armies there. He at once set out for Rome, entrusting the war against the Jews to his son Titus.1

After the Ascension of our Saviour, the Jews had followed up their crime against Him by devising plot after plot against His disciples. First they stoned Stephen to death; then James the son of Zebedee and brother of John was beheaded; and finally James, the first after our Saviour's Ascension to be raised to the bishop's throne there, lost his life in the way described, while the remaining apostles, in constant danger from murderous plots, were driven out of Judaea. But to teach their message they travelled into every land in the power of Christ, who had said to them: 'Go and make disciples of all the nations in my name.'2 Furthermore, the members of the Jerusalem church, by means of an oracle given by revelation to acceptable persons there, were ordered to leave the City before the war began and settle in a town in Peraea called Pella. To Pella those who believed in Christ migrated from Jerusalem; and as if holy men had utterly abandoned the royal metropolis of the Jews and the entire Jewish land, the judgement of God at last overtook them for their abominable crimes against Christ and His apostles, completely blotting out that wicked generation from among men.

The calamities which at that time overwhelmed the whole nation in every part of the world; the process by which the inhabitants of Judaea were driven to the limits of disaster; the thousands and thousands of men of every age who together with women and children perished by the sword, by starvation, and by countless other forms of death; the number


1. Eusebius omits Vitellius, who reigned eight months, and Vespasian's visit to Alexandria, where he stayed till Rome had been won for him. 

2. Matt, xxviii. 19, in a simpler, perhaps a more primitive form.


of Jewish cities besieged and the horrors they endured -especially the terrible and worse than terrible sights that met the eyes of those who sought refuge in Jerusalem itself as an impregnable fortress; the character of the whole war and the detailed events at all its stages; the last scene of all when the Abomination of Desolation announced by the prophets was set up in the very Temple of God, once world-reiiowned, when it underwent utter destruction and final dissolution by fire - all this anyone who wishes can gather in precise detail from the pages of Josephus's history.1 I must draw particular attention to his statement that the people who flocked together from all Judaea at the time of the Passover Feast and -to use his own words - were shut up in Jerusalem as if in a prison, totalled nearly three million.2 It was indeed proper that in the very week in which they had brought the Saviour and Benefactor of mankind, God's Christ, to His Passion, they should be shut up as if in a prison and suffer the destruction that came upon them by the judgement of God.

Passing over the details of the successive disasters that befell them from the sword and in other ways, I think it necessary to mention only the miseries they suffered from starvation, so that readers of this book may have some knowledge at least of how their crime against the Christ of God a very little time later brought on them God's vengeance.

6. Come then, pick up once more Book v of Josephus's Histories, and go through the tragic story of what then happened.

For the wealthy it was just as dangerous to stay in the city as to leave it, for on the pretext that he was a deserter many a man was killed for the sake of his money. As the famine grew worse, the frenzy of the partisans increased with it, and every day these two terrors strengthened their grip. For as nowhere was there corn to be seen, men broke into the houses and ransacked them. If they found


1. Jewish War, pp. 321-6.

2. Jewish War, p. 337.

some, they maltreated the occupants for saying there was none; if they did not, they suspected them of having hidden it more carefully, and tortured them. Proof that they had or had not food was provided by the appearance of the unhappy wretches. If they still had flesh on their bones, they were deemed to have plenty of stores; if they were already reduced to skeletons they were passed over, for it seemed pointless to dispatch those who were certain to die of starvation before long. Many secretly exchanged their possessions for a measure of corn - wheat if they happened to be rich, barley if they were poor. Then they shut themselves up in the darkest corners of their houses, where some through extreme hunger ate their grain as it was, and others made bread, necessity and fear being the only guides. Nowhere was a table laid - they snatched the food from the fire while still uncooked, and ate like wolves.

The sight of such misery would have brought tears to the eyes, for while the strong had more than enough, the weak were in desperate straits. All human feelings, alas, yield to hunger, of which decency is always the first victim; for when hunger reigns, restraint is abandoned. Thus it was that wives robbed their husbands, children their fathers, and - most horrible of all - mothers their babes, snatching the food out of their very mouths; and when their dearest ones were dying in their arms, they did not hesitate to deprive them of the morsels that might have kept them alive. This way of satisfying their hunger did not go unnoticed: everywhere the partisans were ready to swoop even on such pickings. Wherever they saw a locked door, they concluded that those within were having a meal, and instantly bursting the door open, they rushed in and hardly stopped short of squeezing their throats to force out the morsels of food. They beat old men who held on to their crusts, and tore the hair of women who hid what was in their hands. They showed no pity for grey hairs or helpless babyhood, but picked up the children as they clung to their precious scraps and dashed them on the floor. If anyone anticipated their entry by gulping down what they hoped to seize, they felt themselves defrauded and retaliated with worse savagery still.

Terrible were the methods of torture they devised in their quest  for food. They stuffed bitter vetch up the genital passages of their victims, and drove sharp stakes into their seats. Torments horrible even to trunk about they inflicted on people, to make them admit possession of one loaf or reveal the hiding-place of a single handful of barley. It was not that the tormentors were hungry - their actions would have been less barbarous had they sprung from necessity - but rather they were keeping their passions exercised, and laying in stores for use in the coming days. Again, when men had crawled out in the night as far as the Roman guardposts to collect wild plants and herbs, just when they thought they had got safely away from the enemy lines these marauders met them and snatched their treasures from them. Piteous entreaties and appeals to the awful Name of God could not secure the return of even a fraction of what they had collected at such risk: they were lucky to be only robbed, and not killed as well....

The Jews, unable now to leave the city, were deprived of all hope of survival. The famine became more intense, and devoured whole houses and farnilies. The roofr were covered with women and infants too weak to stand, the streets full of old men already dead. Young men and boys, swollen with hunger, haunted the squares like ghosts and fell wherever faintness overcame them. To bury their kinsfolk was beyond the strength of the sick, and those who were fit shirked the task because of the number of the dead and uncertainty about their own fate; for many while burying others fell dead themselves, and many set out for their graves before their hour struck. In their misery no weeping or lamentation was heard; hunger stifled emotion; with dry eyes those who were slow to die watched those whose end came sooner. Deep silence enfolded the city, and a darkness burdened with death. Worse stall were the bandits, who broke like tomb-robbers into the houses of the dead and stripped the bodies, snatching off their wrappings, then came out laughing. They tried the points of their swords on the corpses, and even transfixed some of those who lay helpless but still alive, to test the steel. But if any begged for a sword-thrust to end their sufferings, they contemptuously left them to die of hunger. Everyone as he breathed his last fixed hit eyes on the Temple, turning his back on the partisans he was leaving alive. The latter at first ordered the dead to be buried at public expense, as they could not bear the stench; later, when this proved impossible, they threw them from the walls into the valleys. When in the course of his rounds Titus saw them choked with dead, and a putrid stream trickling from under the decomposing bodies, he groaned, and uplifting his hands called God to witness that this was not his doing. ...

I cannot refrain from saying what my feelings dictate. I think that if the Romans had delayed their attack on these sacrilegious ruffians, either the ground would have opened and swallowed up the city, or a flood would have overwhelmed it, or Hghtning would have destroyed it like Sodom. For it produced a generation far more godless than those who perished thus, a generation whose mad folly involved the nation in ruin.1

In Book vi he writes:

In the city famine raged, its victims dropping dead in countless numbers, and the horrors were unspeakable. In every home, if the shadow of something to eat was anywhere detected, war broke out and the best of friends came to grips with each other, snatching away the wretchedest means of support. Not even the dying were believed to be in want; at their last gasp they were searched by the bandits, in case some of them had food inside their clothes and were feigning death. Open-mouthed with hunger like mad dogs, the desperadoes stumbled and staggered along, hammering at the doors like drunken men, and in their helpless state breaking into the same houses two or three times in a single hour. Necessity made them put their teeth in everything; things not even the filthiest of dumb animals would look at, they picked up and brought themselves to swallow. In the end they actually devoured belts and shoes, and stripped off the leather from their shields and chewed it. Some tried to live on scraps of old hay, for there were people who collected the stalks and sold a tiny bunch for fifteen shillings!

But why should I speak of the inanimate things that hunger made them shameless enough to eat? I am now going to relate a deed for which there is no parallel in the annals of Greece or any other country, a deed horrible to speak of and incredible to hear. For myself I am so anxious that future ages should not suspect me of grotesque inventions that I would gladly have passed over this calamity in silence, had there not been countless witnesses of my own generation to bear me out; and besides, my country would have little


1. Jewish War, pp. 290-1, 297-8, 302.


reason to thank me if I drew a veil over the miseries that were so real to her.

There was a woman, Mary the daughter of Eleazar, who lived east of Jordan in the village of Bathezor ('House of Hyssop'). She was of good family and very rich, and had fled with the rest of the population to Jerusalem, where she shared in the horrors of the siege. Most of the property that she had packed up and moved from Peraea into the city had been plundered by the party chiefs; the remnants of her treasures, and any food she had managed to obtain, were being carried offin daily raids by their henchmen. The wretched woman was filled with uncontrollable fury, and let loose a stream of abuse and curses that enraged the looters against her. When neither resentment nor pity caused anyone to kill her, and she grew tired of finding food for others - and whichever way she turned it was almost impossible to find - and while hunger was eating her heart out and rage was corisurriing her still faster, she yielded to the suggestions of fury and necessity, and in defiance of all natural feeling laid hands on her own child, a babe at the breast. 'Poor little mite!' she cried. 'In war, famine, and civil strife, why do I keep you alive? With the Romans there is only slavery, even if we are alive when they come; but famine is forestalling slavery, and the partisans are crueller than either. Come, you must be food for me, to the partisans an avenging spirit, and to the world a tale, the only thing left to fill up the measure of Jewish misery.' As she spoke she killed her son, then roasted him and ate one half, concealing and saving up the rest.

At once the partisans appeared, and sniffing the unholy smell, threatened that if she did not produce what she had prepared they would kill her on the spot. She replied that she had kept a fine helping for them, and uncovered what was left of her child. They, overcome with instant horror and amazement, could not take their eyes off the sight. But she went on: 'This child is my own, and the deed is mine too. Help yourselves: I have had my share. Don't be softer than a woman or more tender-hearted than a mother! But if you are squeamish, and don't approve of my sacrifice - well, I have eaten half, so you may as well leave me the rest.' That was the last straw, and they went away quivering. They had never before shrunk from anything, and did not much like giving up even this food to the mother. From that moment the entire city could think of nothing else but this abomination; everyone saw the tragedy before his own eyes, and shuddered as if the crime was his. The one desire of the starving was for death: how they envied those who had gone before seeing or hearing of these appalling horrors!1

Christ's predictions: warnings before the war

7. Such was the reward of the Jews' iniquitous and wicked treatment of God's Christ. It is worth while to set alongside it our Saviour's absolutely true prediction, in which He reveals those very things in this prophecy:

Alas for those who have a child unborn or at the breast in those days! Pray that your flight may not take place in winter or on a sabbath. For then there will be great distress, such as there has never been from the beginning of the world till now, and will never be again.2

In computing the whole number of those who lost their lives, the historian says that famine and the sword destroyed 1,100,000 persons; that those who had taken part in sedition and terrorism informed against each other after the capture of the city and were put to death; that the tallest and handsomest of the youngsters were kept for the triumphal procession; that of the rest, those over seventeen were put in irons and sent to hard labour in Egypt, and still more were distributed among the provinces to perish in the theatres by sword or by wild beasts, while those under seventeen were carried off captive and sold, the number of these alone reaching 90,000.3

These things happened in the second year of Vespasian's reign,4 in exact accordance with the prophetic predictions of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who by divine power had foreseen them as though already present, and wept and mourned over them, as we learn from the holy evangelists,


1. Jewish War, pp. 318-20. 

2. Matt. xxiv. 19-21. 

3. Jewish War, p. 337.

4. A.D. 70.


who have set down His very words. On one occasion He said, as if to Jerusalem herself:

If only you, even you, had known today the way to your peace! But now it has been hidden from your sight. For a time will come upon you when your enemies will throw up an earthwork round you and encircle you and hem you in on every side, and bring to the ground both you and your children.1

On another occasion, with the people in mind, He said:

For there will be great distress in the land, and indignation against this people: they will fall at the point of the sword, and they will be carried into captivity in every heathen land; and Jerusalem will be trampled on by heathen, till the day of the heathen is over.2

And again:

When you see Jerusalem encircled by armies, then you may be sure that her desolation has drawn near.3

Anyone who compared our Saviour's words with the rest of the historian's account of the whole war could not fail to be astonished, and to acknowledge as divine and utterly marvellous the foreknowledge revealed by our Saviour's prediction.

After the Saviour's Passion, and the cries with which the Jewish mob clamoured for the reprieve of the bandit and murderer and begged that the Author of Life should be removed from them,4 disaster befell the entire nation. There is no need to add anything to the historical records. But it would be right to mention, too, certain facts which bring home the beneficence of all-gracious Providence, which for forty years after their crime against Christ delayed their destruction. All that time most of the apostles and disciples, including James himself, the first Bishop of Jerusalem, known as the Lord's brother, were still alive, and by remaining in the city furnished the place with an impregnable bulwark. For the overruling power of God was still patient, in the hope


1. Luke xix. 42-4 with minor variations.

2. Luke xxi. 23-4.

3. Luke xxi. 20.

4. Acts iii. 14-17.


that at last they might repent of their misdeeds and obtain pardon and salvation; and besides this wonderful patience, it granted miraculous warnings from God of what would happen to them if they did not repent. These occurrences were thought worthy of mention by the historian whom I have been quoting, and I cannot do better than make them available to readers of this work.

8. Turn then to Book vi of the Histories, and read what he says:

The unhappy people were beguiled at that stage by cheats and false messengers of God, while the unmistakable portents that foreshadowed the coming desolation they treated with indifference and increduUty, disregarding God's warnings as if they were moonstruck, blind, and senseless. First a star stood over the city, very like a broadsword, and a comet that remained a whole year. Then before the revolt and the movement to war, while the people were assembling for the Feast of Unleavened Bread, on the 8th of April at three in the morning so bright a light shone round the Altar and the Sanctuary that it might have been midday. This lasted half an hour. The inexperienced took it for a good omen, but the sacred scribes at once gave the true interpretation, before the events. During the same feast a cow brought by the high priest to be sacrificed gave birth to a lamb in the middle of the Temple courts, while at midnight it was observed that the east gate of the inner Sanctuary had opened of its own accord - a gate made of bronze, and so solid that every evening twenty strong men were required to shut it, fastened with iron-bound bars and secured by bolts which went down a long way.

A few days after the Feast, on the 2ist of May, a supernatural apparition was seen, too amazing to be believed. What I have to relate would have been dismissed as an invention had it not been vouched for by eyewitnesses and followed by disasters that bore out the signs. Before sunset there were seen in the sky over the whole country chariots and regiments in arms speeding through the clouds and encircling the towns. Again, at the Feast of Pentecost, when the priests had gone into the Temple at night to perform the usual ceremonies, they declared that they were aware, first of a violent movement and a loud crash, then of a concerted cry: 'Let us go hence!' An incident more alarming still had occurred four years before the war, at a time of exceptional peace and prosperity for the city. One Jeshua son of Ananias, a very ordinary yokel, came to the feast at which every Jew is expected to set up a tabernacle for God. As he stood in the Temple he suddenly began to shout: 'A voice from the east, a voice from the west, a voice from the four winds, a voice against Jerusalem and the Sanctuary, a voice against bridegrooms and brides, a voice against the whole people!' Day and night he uttered the cry as he went through the streets. Some of the more prominent citizens, very annoyed at these ominous words, laid hold of the fellow and beat him savagely. Without saying a word in his own defence or for the private information of his persecutors, he persisted in shouting the same warning as before. The Jewish authorities, rightly concluding that sdme supernatural force was responsible for the man's behaviour, took him before the Roman procurator. There, though scourged till his flesh hung in ribbons, he neither begged for mercy nor shed a tear, but lowering his voice to the most mournful of tones answered every blow with: 'Woe to Jerusalem!'1

A still more astonishing story follows a paragraph later, where it is stated that an oracle was found in their sacred writings to the effect that at that time a man from their country would become monarch of the whole world: this oracle the historian himself believed to have been fulfilled in Vespasian.2 But Vespasian did not reign over the entire world, but only the part under Roman rule: it would be more justly applied to Christ, to whom the Father had said:

Ask of me, and I will give you the heathen world  for your 

inheritance, And for your possession the ends of the earth.3

At that very time it was true of His apostles that

Their speech went out to the whole earth, 

And their words to the ends of the world.4


1. Jewish War, pp. 326-8. 

2. Jewish War, p. 328. 

3. Ps. ii. 8.

4. Ps. xix. 4.


Josephus and the writings that he left: his allusions to the sacred books

9. Besides all this it is well that the origin and ancestry of
Josephus himself, who has provided so much material for this
present history, should be generally known. He furnishes
this information himself:

I, Josephus, son of Matthias, am a priest from Jerusalem;.in the
early stages I myself fought against the Romans, and of the later
events I was an unwilling witness.

Of the Jews at that time he was the most famous, not only among his fellow-countrymen but among the Romans too, so that he was honoured with the erection of a statue in the city pf Rome, and the labours of his pen found a place in the Library. He has set out the whole of Ancient Jewish History2 in twenty books, and the story of the Roman war of his own day in seven.3 The latter work he committed not only to Greek but also to his native language, as he himself testifies4 -and in view of his general truthfulness, we may accept this. Two other worth-while books of his are extant, entitled The Antiquity of the Jews,5 his reply to Apion the grammarian, who had recently published an attack on the Jews, and to others who had made similar attempts to misrepresent the ancestral customs of the Jewish people. In the first of these he gives the number of the canonical scriptures forming the Old Testament, as it is called, showing which of them are undisputed among the Hebrews as being backed by ancient tradition:

10. We do not have vast numbers of books, discordant and con
flicting, but only twenty-two, containing the record of all time


I.  Jewish War, p. 21.

2. The author's own title; we have unfortunately adopted the Latin substitute Antiquities.

3. The author's own title is The Jewish War.

4. Jewish War, p. 21.
5. Needlessly renamed in Latin Against Apion.


and with reason believed to be divine. Of these five are books of Moses, containing the Laws and the tradition of1 the origin of mankind up to his death. This period covers nearly 3,000 years. From Moses' death to that of Artaxerxes, who followed Xerxes as King of Persia, the prophets after Moses recorded the events of their own time in thirteen books. The remaining four contain hymns to God and precepts for human conduct. 2 From Artaxerxes to the present day the whole story has been written down, but does not command the same belief as the earlier narrative because there was not an unbroken succession of prophets. It is evident from our actions what is our attitude to our own scriptures; for though so many centuries have gone by, no one has presumed to add, take away, or alter anything in them,3 but it is innate in every Jew from the day of his birth to regard them as the ordinances of God, to abide in them, and if need be to die for them gladly.4

This quotation from the historian is of obvious value. He produced yet another work of considerable merit, The Supremacy of Reason, entitled Maccabees5 by some, because it deals with the struggles of those Hebrews who, as related in the books bearing the same name Maccabees, fought so manfully for the worship of Almighty God. And at the end of Book xx of Antiquities he announces that he has decided to write a work in four books on the traditional beliefs of the Jews about God and His nature, and about the reasons why the Laws permit certain things and forbid others.6 Other books, already published, are also referred to in his surviving works.

Finally, it would be appropriate to reproduce the words


1. Josephus probably wrote 'from'.

2. The familiar Talmudic division of the scriptures into twenty-four books, eleven of them in the third group, belongs to a later period; Josephus has included in that group only the books without historical content - presumably Ps., Prov., Song, and Eccles.

3. On the contrary, till A.D. c. 100 additions, deletions, and alterations seem to have been freely made.

4. Against Apion 1, 8.

5. 4 Maccabees (no longer attributed to Josephus).

6. Antiquities, last sentence.


attached to the end of Antiquities and so confirm the testimony of the passages I have borrowed from him. In impugning the historical accuracy of Justus of Tiberias, who had attempted to record the events of the same period as himself, after bringing many other charges against him he adds the following:

I had no such apprehensions as yourself with regard to what I myself had written: I submitted the work to the emperors themselves,1 when the events had hardly passed out of sight. For, conscious that I had observed absolute truthfulness in my account, I expected to receive testimony to my accuracy, and was not disappointed. I also submitted my history to many others, some of whom had actually seen service in the war, including King Agrippa2 and several of his relations. For the Emperor Titus was so anxious that from my work alone should men derive their knowledge of the events, that he wrote with his own hand an order for its publication, while King Agrippa wrote sixty-two letters testifying to the truthfulness of my account.3

Two of these letters he quotes. And there we may leave Josephus and go on to the next stage.

11. After the martyrdom of James and the capture of Jerusalem which instantly followed, there is a firm tradition that those of the apostles and disciples of the Lord who were still alive assembled from all parts together with those who, humanly speaking, were kinsmen of the Lord - for most of them were still living. Then they all discussed* together whom they should choose as a fit person to succeed James,4 and voted unanimously that Symeon, son of the Clopas mentioned in the gospel narrative,5 was a fit person to occupy the throne of the Jerusalem see.6 He was, so it is said, a cousin of the


1. Vespasian and Titus, on whom in The Jewish War he had lavished compliments.

2. Herod Agrippa II.

3. Life of Josephus, pp. 361-4.

4. No conge' d'elire in those days.    

5. Johfl xix. 25; perhaps Luke xxiv. 18.

6. Eusebius has repeatedly referred to the throne of this see, and of no other.


Saviour, for Hegesippus tells us that Clopas was Joseph's brother.1

12. Hegesippus also records that after the capture of Jerusalem Vespasian issued an order that, to ensure that no member of the royal house should be left among the Jews, all descendants of David should be ferreted out; and that this resulted in a further widespread persecution of the Jews.

13. When Vespasian had reigned for ten years he was succeeded as emperor by his son Titus.2 In the second year of Titus's reign Linus, Bishop of Rome, after holding his office for twelve years yielded it to Anencletus.

Titus was succeeded by his brother Domitian3 after reigning for two years and as many months.

14. In the fourth year of Domitian the first Bishop of Alexandria, Annianus, after completing twenty-two years, passed away, and was succeeded by the second, Avilius.

15. In the twelfth year of the same principate Anencletus, after twelve years as Bishop of Rome, was succeeded by Clement, who is described by the Apostle in his Epistle to the Philippians as a fellow-worker:

With Clement and the rest of my fellow-workers, whose names are in the book of life.4

16. Clement has left us one recognized epistle, long and wonderful, which he composed in the name of the church at Rome and sent to the church at Corinth, where dissension had recently occurred. I have evidence that in many churches


1. The passage is quoted on p. 181.

2. 23 June a.d. 79.

3. 13 Sept. a.d. 81.

4. Phil. iv. 3: the identification (by Origen) of the bishop with Paul's fellow-worker rests on no certain evidence, but cannot be disproved.


this epistle was read aloud to the assembled worshippers in early days, as it is in our own. That it was in Clement's time that the dissension at Corinth broke out is plain from the testimony of Hegesippus.

Domitian's persecution: John the apostle and our Saviour's relatives

17. Many were the victims of Domitian's appalling cruelty. At Rome great numbers of men distinguished by birth and attainments were executed without a fair trial, and countless other eminent men were for no reason at all banished from the country and their property confiscated. Finally, he showed himself the successor of Nero in enmity and hostility to God. He was, in fact, the second to organize persecution against us, though his father Vespasian had had no mischievous designs against us.

18. There is ample evidence that at that time the apostle and evangelist John was still alive, and because of his testimony to the word of God was sentenced to confinement on the island of Patmos.1 Writing about the number of the name given to antichrist in what is called the Revelation of John, Irenaeus has this to say about John in Book V of his Heresies Answered:

Had there been any need for his name to be openly announced at the present time, it would have been stated by the one who saw the actual revelation. For it was seen not a long time back, but almost in my own lifetime, at the end of Domitian's reign.

Indeed, so brightly shone at that time the teaching of our faith that even historians who accepted none of our beliefs unhesitatingly recorded in their pages both the persecution and the martyrdoms to which it led. They also indicated the


1. Rev. xiii. 18.


precise date, noting that in the fifteenth year of Domitian1 Flavia Domitilla, who was a niece of Flavius Clemens, one of the consuls at Rome that year, was with many others, because of their testimony to Christ, taken to the island of Pontia2 as a punishment.

19. The same emperor ordered the execution of all who were of David's line, and there is an old and firm tradition that a group of heretics accused the descendants of Jude - the brother, humanly speaking, of the Saviour - on the ground that they were of David's line and related to Christ Himself. This is stated by Hegesippus in so many words:

20. And there still survived of the Lord's family the grandsons of Jude, who was said to be His brother, humanly speaking. These were informed against as being of David's line, and brought by the evocatus3 before Domitian Caesar, who was as afraid of the advent of Christ as Herod had been.4 Domitian asked them whether they were descended from David, and they admitted it. Then he asked them what property they owned and what funds they had at their disposal. They replied that they had only 1,500 pounds 5 between them, half belonging to each; this, they said, was not available in cash, but was the estimated value of only twenty-five acres of land, from which they raised the money to pay their taxes and the wherewithal to support themselves by their own toil.

Then, the writer continues, they showed him their hands, putting forward as proof of their toil the hardness of their bodies and the calluses impressed on their hands by incessant labour. When asked about Christ and His Kingdom - what it was like, and where and when it would appear - they explained that it was not of this world or anywhere on earth but angelic and in heaven, and would be established at the end


1. A.D. 96.

2. Ponza in the Gulf of Gaeta.

3. Latin for 'Veteran': the meaning here is unknown.

4. Matt. ii. 3-4.

5. 9,000 denarii: the denarius was a silver coin nominally worth 8d, but equivalent to about 3s 4d at the present day.


of the world, when He would come in glory to judge the quick and the dead and give every man payment according to his conduct. On hearing this, Domitian found no fault with them, but despising them as beneath his notice let them go free and issued orders terminating the persecution of the Church1 On their release they became leaders of the churches, both because they had borne testimony and because they were of the Lord's family; and thanks to the establishment of peace they lived on into Trajan's time.

So much we learn from Hegesippus. Tertullian, again, has this to say about Domitian:

A similar attempt had once been made by Domitian, who almost equalled Nero in cruelty; but - I suppose because he had some common sense - he very soon stopped, even recalling those he had banished.2

After fifteen years of Domitian's rule Nerva succeeded to the throne. By vote of the Roman senate Domitian's honours were removed, and those unjustly banished returned to their homes and had their property restored to them. This is noted, by the chroniclers of the period. At that time too3 the apostle John, after his exile on the island, resumed residence at Ephesus, as early Christian tradition records.

Bishops of Alexandria and Antioch

21. When Nerva had reigned a little more than a year he was succeeded by Trajan. It was in his first year that Avilius, after heading the church of Alexandria for thirteen years, was succeeded by Cerdo: he was the third bishop of the see, Annianus having been the first. At that time Clement was still head of the Roman community, occupying in the same


1. Hegesippus was referring to the Jerusalem church only.

2. The recall took place under Nerva, as stated in the next sentence.

3. A.D. 96.


way the third place among the bishops who followed Paul and Peter.1 Linus was the first and Anencletus the second.

22. At Antioch, where Euodius had been the first bishop, Ignatius was becoming famous at this time; his contemporary Symeon was similarly the next after our Saviour's brother to be in charge of the church at Jerusalem.

A story about John the apostle

23. In Asia, moreover, there still remained alive the one whom Jesus loved, apostle and evangelist alike, John, who had directed the churches there since his return from exile on the island, following Domitian's death. That he survived so long is proved by the evidence of two witnesses who could hardly be doubted, ambassadors as they were of the orthodoxy of the Church - Irenaeus and Clement of Alexandria. In Book 11 of his Heresies Answered, Irenaeus writes:

All the clergy who in Asia came in contact with John, the Lord's disciple, testify that John taught the truth to them; for he remained with them till Trajan's time.

In Book III of the same work he says the same thing:

The church at Ephesus was founded by Paul, and John remained there till Trajan's time; so she is a true witness of what the apostles taught.

Clement, in addition to indicating the date, adds a story that should be familiar to all who like to hear what is noble and helpful. It will be found in the short work entitled The Rich Man Who Finds Salvation. Turn up the passage, and read what he writes:

Listen to a tale that is not just a tale but a true account of John the apostle, handed down and carefully remembered. When the tyrant was dead, and John had moved from the island of Patmos to


1. See p. 107 n.


Ephesus, he used to go when asked to the neighbouring districts of the Gentile peoples, sometimes to appoint bishops, sometimes to organize whole churches, sometimes to ordain one person of those pointed out by the Spirit. So it happened that he arrived at a city not far off, named by some,1 and after settling the various problems of the brethren, he finally looked at the bishop already appointed, and indicating a youngster he had noticed, of excellent physique, attractive appearance, and ardent spirit, he said: "I leave this young man in your keeping, with all earnestness, in the presence of the Church and Christ as my witness." When the bishop accepted him and promised everything, John addressed the same appeal and adjuration to him a second time.

He then returned to Ephesus, and the cleric took home the youngster entrusted to his care, brought him up, kept him in his company, looked after him, and finally gave him the grace of baptism. After this he relaxed his constant care and watchfulness, having put upon him the seal of the Lord as the perfect protection. But the youngster snatched at liberty too soon, and was led sadly astray by others of his own age who were idle, dissolute, and evil-livers. First they led him on by expensive entertainments; then they took him with them when they went out at night to commit robbery; then they urged him to take part in even greater crimes. Little by little he fell into their ways; and like a hard-mouthed powerful horse he dashed off the straight road, and taking the bit between his teeth rushed down the precipice the more violently because of his immense vitality. Completely renouncing God's salvation, he was no longer content with petty offences, but, as his life was already in ruins, he decided to commit a major crime and suffer the same fate as the others. He took these same young renegades and formed them into a gang of bandits of which his was the master mind, surpassing them all in violence, cruelty, and bloodthirstiness.

Time went by, and some necessity having arisen, John was asked to pay another visit. When he had dealt with the business for which he had come, he said: "Come now, bishop, pay me back the deposit which Christ and I left in your keeping, in the presence of the Church over which you preside as my witness." At first the bishop was taken aback, thinking that he was being dunned for money he had never


1. Smyrna.


received. He could neither comply with a demand for what he did not possess, nor refuse to comply with John's request. But when John said "It is the young man I am asking for, and the soul of our brother", the old man sighed deeply and shed a tear.

"He is dead."

"How did he die?"

"He is dead to God: he turned out wicked and profligate, in short, a bandit; and now, instead of the Church, he has taken to the mountain with an armed gang of men like himself."

The apostle rent his garment, groaned aloud, and beat his head. "A fine guardian," he cried, "I left of our brother's soul! However, let me have a horse immediately, and someone to show me the way." He galloped off from the church, then and there, just as he was. When he arrived at the place, and was seized by the bandits' sentry-group, he made no attempt to escape and asked no mercy, but shouted: "This is what I have come for: take me to your leader." For the time being the young man waited, armed as he was; but as John approached he recognized him, and filled with shame, turned to flee. But John ran after him as hard as he could, forgetting his years and calling out: "Why do you run away from me, child, from your own father, unarmed and very old? Be sorry for me, child, not afraid of me. You still have hopes of life. I will account to Christ for you. If need be, I will gladly suffer your death, as the Lord suffered death for us; to save you I will give my own life. Stop! believe! Christ sent me."

When he heard this, the young man stopped and stood with his eyes on the ground; then he threw down his weapons; then he trembled and began to weep bitterly. When the old man came up he flung his arms round him, pleading for himself with groans as best he could, and baptized a second time with his tears, but keeping his right hand out of sight. But John solemnly pledged his word that he had found pardon for him from the Saviour: he prayed, knelt down, and kissed that very hand as being cleansed by his repentance. Then he brought him back to the church, interceded for him with many prayers, shared with him the ordeal of continuous fasting, brought his mind under control by all the enchanting power of words, and did not leave him, we are told, till he had restored him


1. A reminiscence of John xviii. 37.


to the Church, giving a perfect example of true repentance and a perfect proof of regeneration, the trophy of a visible resurrection.

This story from Clement I have included both for its historical interest and for the benefit of future readers.

The order of the gospels

24. Now let me indicate the unquestioned writings of this apostle. Obviously his gospel, recognized as it is by all the churches in the world, must first be acknowledged. That the early fathers had good reason to assign it the fourth place after the other three can easily be seen. Those inspired and wonderful men, Christ's apostles, had completely purified their lives and cultivated every spiritual virtue, but their speech was that of every day. The divine wonder-working power bestowed on them by the Saviour filled them with confidence; and having neither the ability nor the desire to present the teachings of the Master with rhetorical subtlety or literary skill, they relied only on demonstrating the divine Spirit working with them, and on the miraculous power of Christ fully operative in them.1 Thus they proclaimed the knowledge of the Kingdom of Heaven through the whole world, giving very little thought to the business of writing books. The reason for this practice was the ever-present help of a greater, superhuman ministry. We may instance Paul, who though he surpassed all others in the marshalling of his arguments and in the abundance of his ideas, committed to writing nothing but his very short epistles; and yet he had countless unutterable things to say, for he had reached the vision of the third heaven, had been caught up to the divine paradise itself, and had been privileged to hear there unspeakable words.2 Similar experiences were enjoyed by  the  rest  of our


1. See 1 Cor. ii. 4.

2. See 2 Cor. xii. 2-4.


Saviour's pupils - the twelve apostles, the seventy disciples, and countless others besides. Yet of them all Matthew and John alone have left us memoirs of the Lord's doings, and there is a firm tradition that they took to writing of necessity. 

Matthew had begun by preaching to Hebrews; and when he made up his mind to go to others too, he committed his own gospel to writing in his native tongue, so that for those with whom he was no longer present the gap left by his departure was filled by what he wrote. 

And when Mark and Luke had now published their gospels, John, we are told, who hitherto had relied entirely on the spoken word, finally took to writing for the following reason. The three gospels already written were in general circulation and copies had come into John's hands. He welcomed them, we are told, and confirmed their accuracy, but remarked that the narrative only lacked the story of what Christ had done first of all at the beginning of His mission.

This tradition is undoubtedly true. Anyone can see that the three evangelists have recorded the doings of the Saviour for only one year, following the consignment of John the Baptist to prison, and that they indicated this very fact at the beginning of their narrative. After the forty days' fast and the temptation that followed Matthew shows clearly the period covered by his narrative when he says: "Hearing that John had been arrested, He withdrew from Judaea into Galilee."l In the same way, Mark says: "After the arrest of John, Jesus went into Galilee."2 Luke too, before beginning the acts of Jesus, makes a similar observation, saying that Herod added one more to his other crimes by shutting up John in jail.3

We are told, then, that for this reason the apostle John was urged to record in his gospel the period which the earlier evangelists had passed over in silence and the things done during that period by the Saviour, i.e. all that happened


1. Matt. iv. 12.

2. Mark i. 14.

3. Luke iii. 19-20.


before the Baptist's imprisonment; that this is indicated, first by his words "Thus did Jesus begin His miracles",1 and later by his mentioning the Baptist, in the middle of his account of Jesus's doings, as then still baptizing at Aenon near Salim; and that he makes this plainer when he adds '"for John had not yet been thrown into jail".2

Thus John in his gospel narrative records what Christ did when the Baptist had not yet been thrown into jail, while the other three evangelists describe what happened after the Baptist's consignment to prison. Once this is grasped, there no longer appears to be a discrepancy between the gospels, because John's deals with the early stages of Christ's career and the others cover the last period of His story; and it seems natural that as the genealogy of our Saviour as a man had already been set out by Matthew and Luke, John should pass it over in silence and begin with the proclamation of His divinity, since the Holy Spirit had reserved this for him, as the greatest of the four.

This is all that I propose to say about the composition of John's gospel: the origin of Mark's has already been explained. Luke's work begins with a preface in which the author himself explains the reason for its composition. Many others had somewhat hastily undertaken to compile an account of things of which he himself was fully assured;3 so, feeling it his duty to free us from doubts as to our attitude to the others, he furnished in his own gospel an authentic account of the events of which, thanks to his association and intercourse with Paul and his conversations with the other apostles, he had learnt


1. John ii. ii : 'Miracles' represents a non-Biblical word common in Eusebius and here substituted for 'sign', the word always used by John, as the R.V. makes plain.

2. John iii. 23-4.

3. Luke i. 1: Eusebius, in agreement with the R.V. margin, took the second half of the verse to mean, 'those matters which have been fully established among us'. Reference to all other N.T. passages where the same Greek verb or the corresponding noun is used shows that (pace the New English Bible) he was right.


the undoubted truth.1 This is how I see the matter: at a more appropriate moment I shall endeavour to show, by quoting early writers, what others have said about it.

Of John's writings, besides the gospel, the first of the epistles has been accepted as unquestionably his by scholars both of the present and of a much earlier period: the other two are disputed. As to the Revelation, the views of most people to this day are evenly divided. At the appropriate moment, the evidence of early writers shall clear up this matter too.2


Writings accepted as sacred, and those not accepted

25. It will be well, at this point, to classify the New Testament writings already referred to. We must, of course, put first the holy quartet of the gospels, followed by the Acts of the Apostles. The next place in the list goes to Paul's epistles, and after them we must recognize the epistle called 1 John; likewise 1 Peter. To these may be added, if it is thought proper, the Revelation of John, the arguments about which I shall set out when the time comes. These are classed as Recognized Books. Those that are disputed, yet familiar to most, include the epistles known as James, Jude, and 2 Peter, and those called 2 and 3 John, the work either of the evangelist or of someone else with the same name.3


Among spurious books must be placed the 'Acts' of Paul, the 'Shepherd', and the 'Revelation of Peter'; also the alleged 'Epistle of Barnabas',4 and the 'Teachings of the Apostles',5 together with the Revelation of John, if this seems the right place for it: as I said before, some reject it, others include it among the Recognized Books. Moreover, some have found a


1. Luke i. 3-4-

2. Not in the work as we have it.

3. The name John appears nowhere in the three epistles.

4, 5. These works are extant, but authorship and dates are unknown.


place in the list for the 'Gospel of the Hebrews',1 a book which has a special appeal for those Hebrews who have accepted Christ. These would all be classed with the Disputed Books, but I have been obliged to list the latter separately, distinguishing those writings which according to the tradition of the Church are true, genuine, and recognized, from those in a different category, not canonical but disputed, yet familiar to most churchmen; for we must not confuse these with the writings published by heretics under the name of the apostles, as containing either Gospels of Peter,2 Thomas,3 Matthias, and several others besides these, or Acts of Andrew,4 John,5 and other apostles. To none of these has any churchman of any generation ever seen fit to refer in his writings. Again, nothing could be farther from apostolic usage than the type of phraseology employed, while the ideas and implications of their contents are so irreconcilable with true orthodoxy that they stand revealed as the forgeries of heretics. It follows that so far from being classed even among Spurious Books, they must be thrown out as impious and beyond the pale.