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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol VIII:
Remains of the Second and Third Centuries.: Introduction.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Hegesippus. 3691

[a.d. 170.]  One of the sub-Apostolic age, a contemporary of Justin and of the martyrs of “the good Aurelius,” we must yet distinguish Hegesippus 3692 from the apologists.  He is the earliest of the Church’s chroniclers—we can hardly call him a historian.  His aims were noble and his character was pure; nor can we refuse him the credit due to a foresight of the Church’s ultimate want of historical material, which he endeavoured to supply.

What is commonly regarded as his defect is in reality one of his greatest merits as a witness:  he was a Hebrew, and looks at the Church from the stand-point of “James the Lord’s brother.”  When we observe his Catholic spirit, therefore, as well as his Catholic orthodoxy; his sympathy with the Gentile Church and Pauline faith of the Corinthians; his abhorrence of “the Circumcision” so far as it bred sects and heresies against Christ; and when we find him confirming the testimony of the Apostolic Fathers, and sustaining the traditions of Antioch by those of Jerusalem,—we have double reason to cherish his name, and to treasure up “the fragments that remain” of his works.  That touching episode of the kindred of Christ, as they appeared before Domitian, has always impressed my imagination as worthy to be classed with the story of St. John and the robber, as one of the most suggestive incidents of early Christian history.  We must lament the loss of other portions of the Memoirs which were known to exist in the seventeenth century.  He was a traveller, and must have seen much of the Apostolic churches in the East and West; and the mere scraps we have of his narrative concerning Corinth and Rome excite a natural curiosity as to the rest, which may lead to gratifying discoveries.


Footnotes

762:3691

Westcott, Canon, p. 228.

762:3692

Routh, Rel. Sac., vol. i. pp. 205–219.  Lightfoot is culpably lax in calling Rome “the Papal throne” (temp. Anicet.), and mistaking alike the testimony of Irenæus and of our author.  Ap. F., part ii. vol. i. p. 435.


Next: Fragments from His Five Books of Commentaries on the Acts of the Church.

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