Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol I:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Church History of Eusebius.: Chapter XI
Chapter XI.—Symeon rules the Church of Jerusalem after James.
1. After the martyrdom of James 691 and the conquest of Jerusalem which immediately followed, 692 it is said that those of the apostles and disciples of the Lord that were still living came together from all directions with those that were related to the Lord according to the flesh 693 (for the majority of them also were still alive) to take counsel as to who was worthy to succeed James.
2. They all with one consent pronounced Symeon, 694 the son of Clopas, of whom the Gospel also makes mention; 695 to be worthy of the episcopal throne of that parish. He was a cousin, as they say, of the Saviour. For Hegesippus records that Clopas was a brother of Joseph. 696
61 or 62 a.d. See above, Bk. II. chap. 23.146:692
See ibid. note 40. The date of Symeons accession (assuming that he did take charge of the Jerusalem church as James had done) cannot be fixed. Eusebius himself, as he informs us in Bk. IV. chap. 5, although he had a list of the Jerusalem bishops, had no information as to the dates of their accession, or the length of their incumbency. He puts Symeons accession after the destruction of Jerusalem, but he evidently does that only because he supposed that it followed immediately upon the death of James. Some (e.g. Lightfoot) think it probable that Symeon was appointed immediately after James death, therefore before the destruction of Jerusalem; others (e.g. Renan) suppose that in Pella they had no bishop and appointed Symeon only after the return of the church to Jerusalem.146:693
λόγος κατέχει. Hegesippus (quoted in Bk. IV. chap. 22, below) says that “Symeon was appointed the second bishop, whom all proposed as the cousin of our Lord.” Upon what authority Eusebius more definite account rests we do not know. He introduces it with the formula λόγος κατέχει, and we know of no other author who has put it as he does. It may be that the simple statement of Hegesippus was the sole ground of the more detailed tradition which Eusebius repeats in this chapter. The reason of Symeons appointment as given by Hegesippus is quite significant. It was the common Oriental custom to accord the highest honors to all the members of a prophets or religious leaders family, and it was undoubtedly owing chiefly to his close physical relationship to Christ that James enjoyed such prominence and influence in the Jerusalem church, apparently exceeding even that of the apostles themselves.146:694
This Symeon is to be distinguished from the apostle Simon, the Canaanite, and also from Simon, the brother of our Lord (mentioned in Matt. 13:55, Mark 6:3). It is noticeable that Hegesippus nowhere calls him the “brother of the Lord,” though he does give James that title in Bk. II. chap. 23. Clopas is mentioned in John xix. 25, as the husband of Mary, who is without doubt identical with Mary the mother of James (the little) and of Joses; mentioned in Matt. 27:56, Mark 15:40, &c. If Hegesippus account be accepted as trustworthy (and there is no reason for doubting it), Symeon was the son of Clopas and Mary, and therefore brother of James the Little and Joses. If, then, Alphæus and Clopas be the same, as many claim, James the Little is to be identified with James the son of Alphæus, the apostle, and hence the latter was the brother of Symeon. This identification, however, is entirely arbitrary, and linguistically difficult, and we shall do better therefore to keep the men separate, as Renan does (see above, Bk. I. chap. 12, note 14). Upon the martyrdom of Symeon, see below, chap. 32.146:695
In John xix. 25146:696
Hegesippus, quoted below in Bk. IV. chap. 22, calls Clopas the uncle of the Lord, which would make him of course the brother or brother-in-law of Joseph. Eusebius evidently considered them own brothers. Whether Hegesippus elsewhere stated this directly, or whether Eusebius opinion is simply an inference from the words of Hegesippus already referred to, we do not know. There is no objection to the conclusion that Clopas and Joseph were own brothers, although it cannot be proved from Hegesippus words that they were more than brothers-in-law. From John xix. 25 it is at any rate plain that their wives cannot have been own sisters, as was formerly maintained by so many commentators. With the remaining possibilities of relationship we do not need to concern ourselves.
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