Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol I:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Church History of Eusebius.: Chapter II
Chapter II.—The First Ruler of the Church of Rome.
1. After the martyrdom of Paul and of Peter, Linus 576 was the first to obtain the episcopate of the church at Rome. Paul mentions him, when writing to Timothy from Rome, in the salutation at the end of the epistle. 577
The actual order of the first three so-called bishops of Rome is a greatly disputed matter. The oldest tradition is that given by Irenæus (Adv. Hær. III. 3. 3) and followed here by Eusebius, according to which the order was Linus, Anencletus, Clement. Hippolytus gives a different order, in which he is followed by many Fathers; and in addition to these two chief arrangements all possible combinations of the three names, and all sorts of theories to account for the difficulties and to reconcile the discrepancies in the earlier lists, have been proposed. In the second chapter of the so-called Epistle of Clement to James (a part of the Pseudo-Clementine Literature prefixed to the Homilies) it is said that Clement was ordained by Peter, and Salmon thinks that this caused Hippolytus to change the order, putting Clement first. Gieseler (Eccles. Hist., Eng. Trans., I. p. 107, note 10) explains the disagreements in the various traditions by supposing that the three were presbyters together at Rome, and that later, in the endeavor to make out a complete list of bishops, they were each successively elevated by tradition to the episcopal chair. It is at least certain that Rome at that early date had no monarchical bishop, and therefore the question as to the order of these first three so-called bishops is not a question as to a fact, but simply as to which is the oldest of various unfounded traditions. The Roman Church gives the following order: Linus, Clement, Cletus, Anacletus, following Hippolytus in making Cletus and Anacletus out of the single Anencletus of the original tradition. The apocryphal martyrdoms of Peter and Paul are falsely ascribed to Linus (see Tischendorf, Acta Apost. Apocr. p. xix. sq.). Eusebius (chap. 13, below) says that Linus was bishop for twelve years. In his Chron. (Armen.) he says fourteen years, while Jerome says eleven. These dates are about as reliable as the episcopal succession itself. We have no trustworthy information as to the personal character and history of Linus. Upon the subjects discussed in this note see especially Salmons articles, Clemens Romanus, and Linus, in the Dict. of Christ. Biog.133:577
2 Tim. iv. 21. The same identification is made by Irenæus, Adv. Hær. III. 3. 3, and by Pseudo-Ignatius in the Epistle to the Trallians (longer version), chap. 7.
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