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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol I:
The Church History of Eusebius.: Note 4

Early Church Fathers  Index     

On Bk. III. chap. 25, § 4 (note 18 continued).

The words φερομένη Βαρν€βα ἐπιστολή have been commonly translated “the so-called Epistle of Barnabas,” or “the Epistle ascribed to Barnabas,” implying a doubt in Eusebius’ mind as to the authenticity of the work. This translation, however, is, in my opinion, quite unwarranted. There are passages in Eusebius where the word φέρομαι used in connection with writings cannot by any possibility be made to bear this meaning; cases in which it can be interpreted only “to be extant” or “in circulation.” Compare, for instance, Bk. II. chap. 15, § 1, Μ€ρκον οὗ τὸ εὐγγέλιον φέρεται; II. 18. 6, μονόβιβλα αὐτοῦ φέρεται; III. 9. 4; III. 16; III. 25. 3, λεγοp. 389 μένη ᾽Ιακώβου φέρεται; III. 37. 4; III. 39. 1; IV. 3. 1, εἰσέτι δὲ φέρεται παρὰ πλείστοις; IV. 14. 9, ν τῇ δηλωθείσῃ πρὸς φιλιππησίους αὐτοῦ γραφῇ φερομένῃ εἰς δεῦρο. Compare also IV. 15. I; IV. 23. 4, 9, 12; IV. 24. 1; IV. 28; V. 5. 6; 19. 3; 23. 2; 24. 10; VI. 15. 1; VI. 20, &c. These passages, and many others which are cited by Heinichen (Vol. III. p. 91), prove that the word is frequently used in the sense of “extant” or “in circulation.” But in spite of these numerous examples, Heinichen maintains that the word is also used by Eusebius in another and quite different sense; namely, “so-called” or “ascribed to,” thus equivalent to λεγομένη. A careful examination, however, of all the passages cited by him in illustration of this second meaning will show that in them too the word may be interpreted in the same way as in those already referred to; in fact, that in many of them that is in itself the more natural interpretation. The passages to which we refer are Bk. III. chap. 25, §§ 2, 3, and 4; III. 3. 1, τὴν δὲ φερομένην αὐτοῦ δευτέραν; III. 39. 6 (where I ought to have translated “is extant under the name of John”). To draw a distinction between the meaning of the word as used in these and in the other passages is quite arbitrary, and therefore unwarranted. The sense in which, as we have found, Eusebius so commonly employs the word attaches also to the Latin word fertur in the Muratorian Canon. I have not endeavored to trace carefully the use of the word in other writers; but while many instances occur in which it is certainly used in this sense, others in which either interpretation is allowable, I have not yet found one in which this meaning is ruled out by the nature of the case or by the context. In view of these facts I believe we should be careful to draw a sharp distinction between λεγομένη or καλουμένη and φερομένη when used in connection with written works.

A considerable portion of my translation was in type before I had observed this distinction between the two words, which is commonly quite overlooked, and as a consequence in a few cases my rendering of the word φερομένη is inaccurate. All such cases I have endeavored to call attention to in these supplementary notes.


Next: Note 5

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