Chapter XXV.—The Divine Scriptures that are accepted and those that are not. 778
1. Since we are dealing with this subject it is proper to sum up the writings of the New Testament which have been already mentioned. First then must be put the holy quaternion of the Gospels; 779 following them the Acts of the Apostles. 780
2. After this must be reckoned the epistles of Paul; 781 next in p. 156 order the extant former epistle of John, 782 and likewise the epistle of Peter, 783 must be maintained. 784 After them is to be placed, if it really seem proper, the Apocalypse of John, 785 concerning which we shall give the different opinions at the proper time. 786 These then belong among the accepted writings. 787
3. Among the disputed writings, 788 which are nevertheless recognized 789 by many, are extant the so-called epistle of James 790 and that of Jude, 791 also the second epistle of Peter, 792 and those that are called the second and third of John, 793 whether they belong to the evangelist or to another person of the same name.
4. Among the rejected writings 794 must be reckoned also the Acts of Paul, 795 and the so-called Shepherd, 796 and the Apocalypse of Peter, 797 and in addition to these the extant epistle of Barnabas, 798 and the so-called Teachings of the Apostles; 799 and besides, as I said, the Apocalypse of John, if it seem proper, which some, as I said, reject, 800 but which others class with the accepted books. 801
5. And among these some have placed also the Gospel according to the Hebrews, 802 with which p. 157 those of the Hebrews that have accepted Christ are especially delighted. And all these may be reckoned among the disputed books. 803
6. But we have nevertheless felt compelled to give a catalogue of these also, distinguishing those works which according to ecclesiastical tradition are true and genuine and commonly accepted, 804 from those others which, although not canonical but disputed, 805 are yet at the same time known to most ecclesiastical writers—we have felt compelled to give this catalogue in order that we might be able to know both these works and those that are cited by the heretics under the name of the apostles, including, for instance, such books as the Gospels of Peter, 806 of Thomas, 807 of Matthias, 808 or of any others besides them, and the Acts of Andrew 809 and John 810 and the other apostles, which no one belonging to the succession of ecclesiastical writers has deemed worthy of mention in his writings.
7. And further, the character of the style is at variance with apostolic usage, and both the thoughts and the purpose of the things that are related in them are so completely out of accord with true orthodoxy that they clearly show themselves to be the fictions of heretics. 811 Wherefore they are not to be placed even among the rejected 812 writings, but are all of them to be cast aside as absurd and impious.
This chapter is the only place in which Eusebius attempts to treat the canon systematically, and in it he is speaking purely as an historian, not as a critic. He is endeavoring to give an accurate statement of the general opinion of the orthodox Church of his day in regard to the number and names of its sacred books. He does not, in this passage, apply to the various works any criterion of canonicity further than their acceptance as canonical by the orthodox Church. He simply records the state of the canon; he does not endeavor to form a canon. He has nothing to do, therefore, with the nature and origin of the books which the church accepts. As remarked by Weiss (Einleitung in das N. T., p. 96), the influence of Eusebius in the formation of the canon is very commonly overestimated. He contributed himself very little; his office was to record the usage of the church of his age, not to mould it.
The church whose judgment he takes is, in the main, the church of the Orient, and in that church at this time all the works which we now call canonical (and only those) were already commonly accepted, or were becoming more and more widely accepted as such. From the standpoint, then, of canonicity, Eusebius divided the works which he mentions in this chapter into two classes: the canonical (including the Homologoumena and the Antilogomena) and the uncanonical (including the νόθοι and the ἀναπλ€σματα αὶρετικῶν ἀνδρῶν). But the νόθοι he connects much more closely with the Homologoumena and Antilegomena than with the heretical works, which are, in fact, separated from all the rest and placed in a class by themselves. What, then, is the relation of the Homologoumena, Antilegomena, and νόθοι to each other, as Eusebius classifies them? The crucial point is the relation of the νόθοι to the ἀντιλεγόμενα. Lücke (Ueber den N. T. Kanon des Eusebius, p. 11 sq.) identified the two, but such identification is impossible in this passage. The passages which he cites to confirm his view prove only that the word Antilegomena is commonly employed by Eusebius in a general sense to include all disputed works, and therefore, of course, the νόθοι also; that is, the term Antilegomena is ordinarily used, not as identical with νόθοι, but as inclusive of it. This, however, establishes nothing as to Eusebius technical use of the words in the present passage, where he is endeavoring to draw close distinctions. Various views have been taken since Lückes time upon the relation of these terms to each other in this connection; but, to me at least, none of them seem satisfactory, and I have been led to adopt the following simple explanation. The Antilegomena, in the narrower sense peculiar to this summary, were works which, in Eusebius day, were, as he believed, commonly accepted by the Eastern Church as canonical, but which, nevertheless, as he well knew, had not always been thus accepted, and, indeed, were not even then universally accepted as such. The tendency, however, was distinctly in the direction of their ever-wider acceptance. On the other hand, the νόθοι were works which, although they had been used by the Fathers and were quoted as γραφὴ by some of them, were, at this time, not acknowledged as canonical. Although perhaps not universally rejected from the canon, yet they were commonly so rejected, and the tendency was distinctly in the direction of their ever-wider rejection. Whatever their merit, and whatever their antiquity and their claims to authenticity, Eusebius could not place them among the canonical books. The term νόθοι, then, in this passage, must not be taken, as it commonly is, to mean spurious or unauthentic, but to mean uncanonical. It is in this sense, as against the canonical Homologoumena and Antilegomena, that Eusebius, as I believe, uses it here, and his use of it in this sense is perfectly legitimate. In using it he passes no judgment upon the authenticity of the works referred to; that, in the present case, is not his concern. As an historian he observed tendencies, and judged accordingly. He saw that the authority of the Antilegomena was on the increase, that of the νόθοι on the decrease, and already he could draw a sharp distinction between them, as Clement of Alexandria could not do a century before. The distinction drawn has no relation to the authenticity or original authority of the works of the two classes, but only to their canonicity or uncanonicity at the time Eusebius wrote.
This interpretation will help us to understand the peculiar way in which Eusebius treats the Apocalypse, and thus his treatment of it becomes an argument in favor of the interpretation. He puts it, first among the Homologoumena with an εἴγε φανείη, and then among the νόθοι with an εἴ φανείη. No one, so far as I know, has explained why it should be put among the νόθοι as an alternative to the Homologoumena, instead of among the Antilegomena, which, on the common interpretation of the relation of the classes, might be naturally expected. If the view presented is correct, the reason is clear. The Antilegomena were those works which had been disputed, but were becoming more and more widely accepted as canonical. The Apocalypse could not under any circumstances fall into this class, for the doubts raised against it in the orthodox Church were of recent date. It occupied, in fact, a peculiar position, for there was no other work which, while accepted as canonical, was doubted in the present more than in the past. Eusebius then must either put it into a special class or put it conditionally into two different classes, as he does. If the doubts should become so widespread as to destroy its canonicity, it would fall naturally into the νόθοι, for then it would hold the same position as the other works of that class. As an historian, Eusebius sees the tendency and undoubtedly has the idea that the Apocalypse may eventually, like the other Christian works of the same class (the Shepherd, the Apocalypse of Peter, etc.), become one of the νόθοι, one of the works which, formerly accepted, is at length commonly denied to be canonical: and so, as an historian, he presents the alternative. The Apocalypse was the only work in regard to which any doubt could exist.
Eusebius failure to mention explicitly in this passage the Epistle to the Hebrews, has caused considerable misunderstanding. The explanation, if the view presented be adopted, is simple. Eusebius included it, I believe, among the epistles of Paul, and did not especially mention it, simply because there was no dispute about its canonicity. Its Pauline authorship had been widely disputed as Eusebius informs us elsewhere, and various theories had been proposed to account for it; but its canonicity had not been doubted in the orthodox Church, and therefore doubts as to the authorship of it did not in the least endanger its place among the Homologoumena, as used here in a technical sense; and since Eusebius was simply stating the works of each class, not discussing the nature and origin of those works, he could, in perfect fairness, include it in Pauls epistles (where he himself believed it belonged) without entering upon any discussion of it.
Another noticeable omission is that of the Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians. All efforts to find a satisfactory reason for this are fruitless. It should have been placed among the νόθοι with the Epistle of Barnabas, etc., as Eusebius treatment of it in other passages shows. It must be assumed, with Holtzmann, that the omission of it was nothing more nor less than an oversight.
Eusebius, then, classifies the works mentioned in this chapter upon two principles: first, in relation to canonicity, into the canonical and the uncanonical; and secondly, in relation to character, into the orthodox (Homologoumena, Antilegomena, which are canonical, and νόθοι, which are uncanonical), and heterodox (which are not, and never have been, canonical, never have been accepted as of use or authority). The Homologoumena and Antilegomena, then, are both canonical and orthodox, the ἀναπλ€σματα αἱρετικῶν ἀνδρῶν are neither canonical nor orthodox, while the νόθοι occupy a peculiar position, being orthodox but not canonical. The last-named are much more closely related to the canonical than to the heterodox works, because when the canon was a less concrete and exact thing than it had at length become, they were associated with the other orthodox works as, like them, useful for edification and instruction. With the heretical works they had never been associated, and possessed in common with them only the negative characteristic of non-canonicity. Eusebius naturally connects them closely with the former, and severs them completely from the latter. The only reason for mentioning the latter at all was the fact that they bore the names of apostles, and thus might be supposed, as they often had been—by Christians, as well as by unbelievers—to be sacred books like the rest. The statement of the canon gives Eusebius an opportunity to warn his readers against them.
Upon Eusebius New Testament Canon, see especially the work of Lücke referred to above, also Westcotts Canon of the New Testament, 5th ed., p. 414 sq., Harnacks Lehre der Zwölf Apostel, p. 6 sq., Holtzmanns Einleitung in das N.T., p. 154 sq., and Weiss Einleitung, p. 92 sq.155:779 155:780 155:781 156:782 156:783 156:784 156:785 156:786 156:787 156:788 156:789 156:790 156:791 156:792 156:793 156:794 156:795 156:796 156:797 156:798
The author of the so-called Epistle of Barnabas is unknown. No name appears in the epistle itself, and no hints are given which enable us to ascribe it to any known writer. External testimony, without a dissenting voice, ascribes it to Barnabas, the companion of Paul. But this testimony, although unanimous, is neither very strong nor very extensive. The first to use the epistle is Clement of Alexandria, who expressly and frequently ascribes it to Barnabas the companion of Paul. Origen quotes from the epistle twice, calling it the Epistle of Barnabas, but without expressing any judgment as to its authenticity, and without defining its author more closely. Jerome (de vir. ill. 6) evidently did not doubt its authenticity, but placed it nevertheless among the Apocrypha, and his opinion prevailed down to the seventeenth century. It is difficult to decide what Eusebius thought in regard to its authorship. His putting it among the νόθοι here does not prove that he considered it unauthentic (see note 1, above); nor, on the other hand, does his classing it among the Antilegomena just below prove that he considered it authentic, but non-apostolic, as some have claimed. Although, therefore, the direct external testimony which we have is in favor of the apostolic Barnabas as its author, it is to be noticed that there must have existed a widespread doubt as to its authenticity, during the first three centuries, to have caused its complete rejection from the canon before the time of Eusebius. That this rejection arose from the fact that Barnabas was not himself one of the twelve apostles cannot be. For apostolic authorship was not the sole test of canonicity, and Barnabas stood in close enough relation to the apostles to have secured his work a place in the canon, during the period of its gradual formation, had its authenticity been undoubted. We may therefore set this inference over against the direct external testimony for Barnabas authorship. When we come to internal testimony, the arguments are conclusive against “the Levite Barnabas” as the author of the epistle. These arguments have been well stated by Donaldson, in his History of Christian Literature, I. p. 204 sqq. Milligan, in Smith and Waces Dict. of Christ. Biog., endeavors to break the force of these arguments, and concludes that the authenticity of the epistle is highly probable; but his positions are far from conclusive, and he may be said to stand almost alone among modern scholars. Especially during the last few years, the verdict against the epistles authenticity has become practically unanimous. Some have supposed the author to have been an unknown man by the name of Barnabas: but this is pure conjecture. That the author lived in Alexandria is apparently the ruling opinion, and is quite probable. It is certain that the epistle was written between the destruction of Jerusalem (a.d. 70) and the time of Clement of Alexandria: almost certain that it was written before the building of Ælia Capitolina; and probable that it was written between 100 and 120, though dates ranging all the way from the beginning of Vespasians reign to the end of Hadrians have been, and are still, defended by able scholars. The epistle is still extant in a corrupt Greek original and in an ancient Latin translation. It is contained in all the editions of the Apostolic Fathers (see especially Gebhardt and Harnacks second edition, 1876, and Hilgenfelds edition of 1877). An English translation is given in the Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. I. p. 133 sqq. For the most important literature, see Schaff, Ch. Hist. II. p. 671 sqq., and Gebhardt and Harnacks edition, p. xl. sqq.156:799
τῶν ἀποστόλων αἰ λεγόμεναι διδαχαί. The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, Διδαχὴ τῶν δώδεκα ἀποστόλων, a brief document in sixteen chapters, was published in 1884 by Philotheos Bryennios, Metropolitan of Nicomedia, from a ms. discovered by him in the Jerusalem convent in Constantinople in 1873. The discovery threw the whole theological world into a state of excitement, and the books and articles upon the subject from America and from every nation in Europe have appeared by the hundred. No such important find has been made for many years. The light which the little document has thrown upon early Church history is very great, while at the same time the questions which it has opened are numerous and weighty. Although many points in regard to its origin and nature are still undecided, the following general positions may be accepted as practically established. It is composed of two parts, of which the former (chaps. 1–6) is a redaction of an independent moral treatise, probably of Jewish origin, entitled the Two Ways, which was known and used in Alexandria, and there formed the basis of other writings (e.g. the Epistle of Barnabas, chaps. 18–21, and the Ecclesiastical Canons) which were at first supposed to have been based upon the Teaching itself. (Bryennios, Harnack, and others supposed that the Teaching was based upon Barnabas, but this view has never been widely accepted.) This (Jewish) Two Ways which was in existence certainly before the end of the first century (how much earlier we do not know) was early in the second century (if not before) made a part of a primitive church manual, viz. our present Teaching of the Twelve Apostles. The Two Ways, both before and at the time of (perhaps after) its incorporation into the Teaching, received important additions, partly of a Christian character. The completed Teaching dates from Syria, though this is denied by many writers (e.g. by Harnack), who prefer, upon what seem to me insufficient grounds, Egypt as the place of composition. The completed Teaching formed the basis of a part of the seventh book of the Apostolic Constitutions, which originated in Syria in the fourth century. The most complete and useful edition is that of Schaff (The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, 3d ed., New York, 1889), which contains the Greek text with English translation and a very full discussion of the work itself and of the various questions which are affected by its discovery. Harnacks important edition Die Lehre der zwölff Apostel (Texte und Untersuchungen zur Gesch. der altchrist. Lit., II. 1 and 2, 1884) is still the standard German work upon the subject, though it represents many positions in regard to the origin and history of the work which have since been proved incorrect, and which he himself has given up. His article in Herzog, 2d ed., XVII. 656 sqq. and his Die Apostel-Lehre und die jüdischen Beiden Wege, 1886, should therefore be compared with his original work. Schaffs book contains a very complete digest of the literature down to the close of 1888. As to the position which the Teaching occupied in the canon we know very little, on account of the very sparing use of it made by the early Fathers. Clement of Alexandria cites it once as Scripture (γραφή), but no other writer before the time of Eusebius treats it in the same way, and yet Eusebius mention of it among the νόθοι shows that it must have enjoyed a wide circulation at some time and have been accepted by at least a portion of the Church as a book worthy to be read in divine service, and thus in a certain sense as a part of the canon. In Eusebius time, however, its canonicity had been denied (though according to Athanasius Fest. Ep. 39, it was still used in catechetical instruction), and he was therefore obliged to relegate it to a position among the νόθοι. Upon Eusebius use of the plural διδαχαί, see the writers article in the Andover Review, April, 1886, p. 439 sq.156:800 156:801 156:802
This Gospel, probably composed in Hebrew (Aramaic), is no longer extant, but we possess a few fragments of it in Greek and Latin which are collected by Grabe, Spic. I. 15–31, and by Hilgenfeld, N. T. Extra Can. rec. II. The existing material upon which to base a judgment as to the nature of the lost Gospel and as to its relation to our canonical gospels is very limited. It is certain, however, that it cannot in its original form have been a working over of our canonical Matthew (as many have thought); it contains too many little marks of originality over against our Greek Matthew to admit of such a supposition. That it was, on the other hand, the original of which our Greek Matthew is the translation is also impossible; a comparison of its fragments with our Matthew is sufficient to prove this. That it was the original source from which Matthew and Luke derived their common matter is possible—more cannot be said. Lipsius (Dict. of Christ. Biog. II. 709–712) and Westcott (Hist. of the Canon, p. 515 sqq.) give the various quotations which are supposed to have been made from it. How many of them are actually to be traced back to it as their source is not certain. It is possible, but not certain, that Papias had seen it (see chap. 39, note 28), possible also that Ignatius had, but the passage relied on to establish the fact fails to do so (see chap. 36, note 14). It was probably used by Justin (see Westcott, ibid. p. 516, and Lipsius, ibid. p. 712), undoubtedly by Hegesippus (see below, Bk. IV. chap. 22), and was perhaps known to Pantænus (see below, Bk. V. chap. 10, note 8). Clement of Alexandria (Strom. II. 9) and Origen (in Johan. II. 6 and often) are the first to bear explicit testimony to the existence of such a gospel. Eusebius also was personally acquainted with it, as may be gathered from his references to it in III. 39 and IV. 22, and from his quotation in (the Syriac version of) his Theophany, IV. 13 (Lees trans. p. 234), and in the Greek Theophany, §22 (Migne, VI. 685). The latter also shows the high respect in which he held the work. Jeromes testimony in regard to it is very important, but it must be kept in mind that the gospel had undergone extensive alterations and additions before his time, and as known to him was very different from the original form (cf. Lipsius, ibid. p. 711), and therefore what he predicates of it cannot be applied to the original without limitation. Epiphanius has a good deal to say about it, but he evidently had not himself seen it, and his reports of it are very confused and misleading. The statement of Lipsius, that according to Eusebius the gospel was reckoned by many among the Homologoumena, is incorrect; ἐν τούτοις refers rather to the νόθοι among which its earlier acceptance by a large part of the Church, but present uncanonicity, places it by right. Irenæus expressly states that there were but four canonical gospels (Adv. Hær. III. 2, 8), so also Tertullian (Adv. Marc. IV. 5), while Clement of Alexandria cites the gospel with the same formula which he uses for the Scriptures in general, and evidently looked upon it as, if not quite, at least almost, on a par with the other four Gospels. Origen on the other hand (in Johan. II. 6, Hom. in Jer. XV. 4, and often) clearly places it upon a footing lower than that of the four canonical Gospels. Upon the use of the gospel by the Ebionites and upon its relation to the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew, see chap. 27, note 8.
The literature upon the Gospel according to the Hebrews is very extensive. Among recent discussions the most important are by Hilgenfeld, in his Evangelien nach ihrer Entstehung (1854); in the Zeitschrift f. wiss. Theol., 1863, p. 345 sqq.; in his N. T. extra Canon. rec. (2d ed. 1884); and in his Einleitung z. N. T. (1875); by Nicholson, The Gospel according to the Hebrews (1879); and finally, a very thorough discussion of the subject, which reached me after the composition of the above note, by Handmann, Das Hebräer-Evangelium (Gebhardt and Harnacks Texte und Untersuchungen, Bd. V. Heft 3, Leipzig, 1888). This work gives the older literature of the subject with great fullness. Still more recently Reschs Agrapha (ibid. V. 4, Leipzig, 1889) has come to hand. It discusses the Gospel on p. 322 sq.157:803 157:804 157:805
οὐκ ἐνδιαθήκους μὲν, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἀντιλεγομένας. Eusebius, in this clause, refers to the νόθοι, which, of course, while distinguished from the canonical Antilegomena, yet are, like them, disputed, and hence belong as truly as they to the more general class of Antilegomena. This, of course, explains how, in so many places in his History, he can use the words νόθοι and ἀντιλεγόμενα interchangeably (as e.g. in chap. 31, §6). In the present passage the νόθοι, as both uncanonical and disputed, are distinguished from the canonical writings,—including both the universally accepted and the disputed,—which are here thrown together without distinction. The point to be emphasized is that he is separating here the uncanonical from the canonical, without regard to the character of the individual writings within the latter class.157:806 157:807
The Gospel of Thomas is of Gnostic origin and thoroughly Docetic. It was written probably in the second century. The original Gnostic form is no longer extant, but we have fragmentary Catholic recensions of it in both Latin and Greek, from which heretical traits are expunged with more or less care. The gospel contained many very fabulous stories about the childhood of Jesus. It is mentioned frequently by the Fathers from Origen down, but always as an heretical work. The Greek text is given by Tischendorf, p. 36 sqq., and an English translation is contained in the Ante-Nicene Fathers, VIII. 395–405. See Lipsius in the Dict. of Christ. Biog. II. p. 703–705.157:808
This gospel is mentioned by Origen (Hom. in Lucam I.), by Jerome (Præf. in Matt.), and by other later writers. The gospel is no longer extant, though some fragments have been preserved by Clement of Alexandria, e.g. in Strom. II. 9, Strom. III. 4 (quoted below in chap. 30), and Strom. VII. 13, which show that it had a high moral tone and emphasized asceticism. We know very little about it, but Lipsius conjectures that it was “identical with the παραδόσεις Ματθίου which were in high esteem in Gnostic circles, and especially among the Basilidæans.” See Lipsius, ibid. p. 716.157:809
Eusebius so far as we know is the first writer to refer to these Acts. But they are mentioned after him by Epiphanius, Philaster, and Augustine (see Tischendorfs Acta Apost. Apoc. p. xl.). The Acts of Andrew (Acta Andrææ) were of Gnostic origin and circulated among that sect in numerous editions. The oldest extant portions (both in Greek and somewhat fragmentary) are the Acts of Andrew and Matthew (translated in the Ante-Nicene Fathers, VIII. 517–525) and the Acts of Peter and Andrew (ibid. 526–527). The Acts and Martyrdom of the Holy Apostle Andrew (ibid. 511–516), or the so-called Epistle of the Presbyters and Deacons of Achaia concerning the Passion of Andrew, is a later work, still extant in a Catholic recension in both Greek and Latin. The fragments of these three are given by Tischendorf in his Acta Apost. Apoc. p. 105 sqq. and 132 sqq., and in his Apocal. Apoc. p. 161 sq. See Lipsius in the Dict. of Christ. Biog. I. p. 30.157:810
Eusebius is likewise, so far as we know, the first writer to refer to these Acts. But they are afterward mentioned by Epiphanius, Photius, Augustine, Philaster, &c. (see Tischendorf, ibid. p. lxxiii.). They are also of Gnostic origin and extant in a few fragments (collected by Thilo, Fragmenta Actum S. Johannis a Leucio Charino conscriptorum, Halle, 1847). A Catholic extract very much abridged, but containing clear Gnostic traits, is still extant and is given by Tischendorf, Acta Apost. Apoc. p. 266 sq. (translated in the Ante-Nicene Fathers, VIII. 560–564).
The last two works mentioned belong to a collection of apocryphal Acts which were commonly ascribed to Leucius, a fictitious character who stands as the legendary author of the whole of this class of Gnostic literature. From the fourth century on, frequent reference is made to various Gnostic Acts whose number must have been enormous. Although no direct references are made to them before the time of Eusebius, yet apparent traces of them are found in Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Origen, &c., which make it probable that these writers were acquainted with them, and it may at any rate be assumed as established that many of them date from the third century and some of them even from the second century. See Salmons article Leucius in the Dict. of Christ. Biog. III. 703–707, and Lipsius article in the same work, I. 28.157:811 157:812
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