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EVANGELISTS IN THE REIGN OF TRAJAN.
EUSEBIUS" in the history of things in the reign of Trajan has this remarkable assage:
‘ Among those who were illustrious at that time was ‘ Quadratus, who, together with the daughters of Philip, is ‘ said to have enjoyed the gift of pro hecy. And beside ‘ hese there were at that time many other eminent persons, ‘ whob had the first rank in the succession of the apostles: ‘ who, being the worthy disci les of such men, every where ‘ built up the churches, the oundations of which had been ‘ laid by the apostles; extending likewise their preaching ‘ yet farther, and scattering abroad the salutary seeds of ‘ the kingdom of heaven all over the world. For man of ‘ the disciples of that time, whose souls the Divine Vlde ‘ had inspired with an ardent love of philosophy, first ful‘ filled our Saviour’s precept, distributing their substance ‘to the necessitous. Then travelling abroad, they per‘ formed the work of evangelists, being ambitions to preach ‘ Christ,0 and deliver the scripture of the divine g0spels.’
I presume I have not improperly placed this passage here. Eusebius, as I just said, is writing the history of things under Trajan. In the fore oing chapter he had given an account of Ignatius and his writings, who died in the tenth of Trajan. And in the two following chapters he speaks of Clement of Rome, and Papias. Though therefore Eusebius does not always place things in his Ecclesiastical History in the exact order of time; et I think it must be allowed, that he was fully ersuade ,that before the end of the reign of Trajan, who ied in 117, the gospels were well known, and collected together: and they who reached the doctrine of Christ to those who had not hear it, carried the ospels with them, and delivered them to their converts. 'ghey must therefore have been before this for some time in use, and in the highest esteem in the churches lanted by the apostles. It must have been no difficult tiin at that time to know the genuineness of writings whi were of so great authority with them. And
certainly they were well assured of it, or they had not so highly esteemed them. The persons of whom Eusebius here speaks were the immediate successors of the apostles, and had the first rank among them: and they lived a good part of their time in the very first century, a well as St. Ignatius and St. Clement.
There can be, I think, but one exception to my placing this passage here, in the reign of Trajan, at the year 112, which is, that this is not a passage of any ancient writer of this time, but of Eusebius, an author of the fourth century. To which I would answer, that it is reasonable to suppose, Eusebius had good ground, from ancient authors, for what he here says. And that the gospels were before now well known, and in great esteem, and collected together, appears probable from what we ourselves have seen in the apostoical fathers still remaining, particularly in Ignatius. If this does not satisfy, I would add, that I do not intend to bring forward many more passages of Eusebius, or any other writer, in this manner.
PAPIAS is placed by Cavea at the year 110. According to others, he flourished about the yearb 115, or° 116. How long be lived is uncertain. He is said by somed to have been a martyr. But as this is not mentioned by Eusebius 0r Jerom, I think it need not be much regarded. lrenaaus“ speaks of him as a bearer of John, and companion of Polycarp; and by John seems to intend the apostle and evan'ellst.
g Eusebius, in his Ecclesiastical History, has a whole chapter concerning him, beside what he says of him inother places. There is no part of that chapter which we. shall not have occasion for at one time or other. I think therefore, though it be long, it will be the shortest course to take it all here at once.
‘ There are,’ saysr Eusebius, ‘ five books of Papias, eu‘ titled, An Explication of the Oracles of the Lord. These ‘ Irenaeus makes mention of as the only books written by ‘ him, after this manner: “ These things Papias, who was a ‘ bearer of John, and a com anion of Polycarp, ang ancient man, attests in his fourth ook: for there are five books ‘ composed by him.” Thus s eaks Irenaeu. But Pa ias ‘ in the preface of his books oes by no means say, t ath ‘ he heard or saw any of the holy apostles: but only, that ‘ he had received the things concerning the faith from those ‘ who were well acquainted with them, which he shows in ‘ these words: “ I shall not think much to set down toge‘ ther with my interpretations, what I have learned'l from ‘ the elders, [or presbyters,] and do well remember, con‘ firming the truth by them. For I took no delight, as m0st ‘ men do, in those that talk a great deal, but in those that ‘ teach the truth, nor in those that relate stran e prece ts, ‘ but in them that relate the precepts which tTie Lord as ‘ entrusted us with, and which proceed from the truth it‘ self. And if at any time I met with one who had con‘ versed with the elders, I enquired after the sayin s of the C ‘ ‘ d ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ 6 ‘ 5 6 G 5 ‘ 6
elders: what Andrew or what Peter said; or w at Phigp, what Thomas, or James had said: what John or
atthew, or what any other of the disciples of the Lord were wont to say: and what Aristion, or John the presbyter, disciples of the Lord say: for I was of opinion, that I could not profit so much by booksk as by the living.” Where it is proper to observe, that he twice mentions the name of John; the former of whom he reckons with Peter, James, Matthew, and the rest of the apostles, manifestly intending the evangelist. Then making a distinction in his discourse, he places the other John with the others who are not of the number of a ostles, putting Aristion before him; and he expressly ca ls him presbyter. By which too is shown the truth of their account, who have said, that there were two in Asia of that name; and that there were two sepulchres at Ephesus, and that each of them are still said to be the sepulchre of ‘ John. This is worthy of our remark. For it is likely ‘ that the Revelation, which goes under the name of John, ‘ was seen by the second, if not by the first. This Papias ‘ then, of whom we have been speaking, confesseth, that he ‘ received the a ostles’ sayings from those who conversed ‘ with them; ans says, that he was a bearer of Aristion, and ‘ John the presbyter. And indeed he often mentions them ‘ by name, and puts down in his writings the traditions he ‘ had received from them. Nor will our mention of these ‘ thin s, I suppoe, be judged unprofitable. It will be ‘ wort while to add here to the fore-cited words of Papias ‘ some other of his passages, in which he mentions some ‘ miracles, and other things which had come to him by tra‘ dition. That Philip the apostle resided with his daugh‘ ters at Hiera olis, has been shown in some things we haveI ‘ already prodhced. Now we are to observe how Papias, ‘ who lived at the same time, mentions a wonderful relation ‘ he had received from Philip’s daughters. For he relates, ‘ that in his time a dead man was raised to life. He also ‘ relates another miracle of Justus surnamed Barsabas: ‘ that he drank deadly poison, and by the grace of the ‘ Lord suffered no harm. Now that this Justus, after the ‘ ascension of our Saviour, was sent forth by the holy apos‘ tles together with Matthias, and that they prayed, that one ‘ of them might be allotted to fill up their number in the ‘ room of Judas the traitor, the scripture of the Acts re‘ lates in this manner, ch. i. 23, 24, “ And they a pointed ‘ two, Jose h called Barsabas, who was surname Justus, ‘ and Matt ias. And they prayed, and said.” And other ‘ things the same writer has related, which he received by ‘ unwritten tradition, and some strange arables of our Sa‘ viour, and sermons of his, and severall) other things of a ‘ fabulous kind. Among which he says likewise, that ‘ there shall be a thousand years after the resurrection of ‘ the dead, wherein the kingdom of Christ shall corporally ‘ subsist upon this earth. Which opinion, lsuppose, he ‘ was led into by misunderstanding the apostolical narra‘ tions; and for want of seeing into those things which ‘they spoke mystically, and in figures. For hem was a ‘ man of no great capacity, as may be conjectured from his ‘ writings. Yet he gave occasion to a great many ecclesias‘ tical writers after him to be of the same opinion, who rc‘ spected the antiquity of the man; as Irenaaus, and the ‘ rest who have maintained that opinion. In the same
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h It is therefore still a question, whether Papias was a bearer of John the apostle, as Irenaeus seems to intimate, or only of John the elder. See this question considered by Grabe, Spic. T. 2. p. 26, &c. Tillem. Mem. Ec. T. 2. p. 2. St. Papias, Note i. Pagi, Crit. in Baron. 116. n. 5. Basnage, Ann. 115. n. ix. Beausobre, Hist. des Manich. liv. 2. ch. 2. p. 352. Note (2.)
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‘ writing he delivers many other narrations of the fore‘ mentioned Aristion, of the words of the Lord, and tradi‘ tions of John the presbyter; to which we refer the curi‘ ous reader. But it is requisite we should subjoin to his ‘ fore-cited passages a tradition which he has concerning ‘ Mark, who wrote the ospel, in these words: “ And this ‘ the resbyter [or elder? said : Mark being the interpreter ‘ of eter wrote exactly whatever he remembered : but not ‘in the order in which things were spoken or done by ‘ Christ. For he was neither a hearer, nor a follower of ‘ the Lord; but, as I said, afterwards followed Peter, who ‘ made his discourses for the profit of thoe that heard him, ‘ but not in the way of a regular hitory of our Lord's ‘ words. Mark however committed no mistake in writing ‘ some things, as they occurred to his memory. For this ‘ one thing hen made his care, to omit nothing which he ‘ had heard, and to say nothing false in what he related.” ‘ Thus Papias writes of Mark. Concernin Matthew he ‘ says: “ Matthew wrote the divine] orac es in the He‘ brew tongue, and every one interpreted them as he was ‘ able." He also brings testimonies out of the first epistle ‘ of John, and of Peter in like manner. He relates also ‘ another stor , of a woman accused of many crimes before ‘ the Lord, w ich is° contained in the gospel according to ‘ the Hebrews.’
It should be just observed, that in another placep Eusebius, speaking of Ignatius and Polycarp, says: ‘ At the ‘ same time flourished Papias, bishop of Hiera olis, an ‘ eloquent man, and skilful in the scriptures.’ ut Valesius in his notes ofi'ers divers reasons for believing this last character to be an interpolation: it being wanting in several manuscripts, and also in the translation of Rufinus, and contrary to what Eusebius says in the above-cited cha ter.
I need not put down distinctly what Jerom in his atalogue says of Papias, it being little more than a transcri t of Eusebius. Only we may observe, that he assures us 1e was bisho of Hierapolis in Asia, and that he wrote five books, cal ed An Explication of the Words of the Lord.
Omitting now the confirmation which Pa ias affords to the facts of the evangelical histor , in what e says of our blessed Lord and his apostles, t ere are divers things in the foregoing chapter of Eusebius to be taken notice of,