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

Early Church Fathers  Index     

p. 174 Book IV.

Chapter I.—The Bishops of Rome and of Alexandria during the Reign of Trajan. 968

1. About the twelfth year of the reign of Trajan the above-mentioned bishop of the parish of Alexandria 969 died, and Primus, 970 the fourth in succession from the apostles, was chosen to the office.

2. At that time also Alexander, 971 the fifth in the line of succession from Peter and Paul, received the episcopate at Rome, after Evarestus had held the office eight years. 972



We still have lists of bishops as old as the end of the second century. The most ancient is that of the Roman bishops given by Irenæus (III. 3. 3); but this has no dates. The list is probably the official catalogue as it had been handed down to the time of Eleutherus; but it is not authentic, as there was no monarchical episcopate in Rome at the time of Clement, nor even in the time of Hermas. For other churches the oldest lists date from the end of the third century. According to one interpretation of a passage from Hegesippus, quoted in chapter 22, below, Hegesippus drew up a list of Roman bishops down to the time of Anicetus; and Bishop Lightfoot thinks he has discovered this lost catalogue in Epiphanius, Hær. XXVII. 6 (see his article in the Academy for May 27, 1887). If Lightfoot is right, we have recovered the oldest Papal catalogue; but it is very doubtful whether Hegesippus composed such a catalogue (see note on chap. 22), and even if he did, it is uncertain whether the list which Epiphanius gives is identical with it. See the writer’s notice of Lightfoot’s article in the Theologische Literatur-Zeitung, 1887; No. 18, Col. 435 sqq.

The list of Roman bishops which Eusebius gives is the same as that of Irenæus; but it has dates, while Irenæus’ has none. From what source Eusebius took his dates we do not know. His Chronicle contains different dates. It is possible that the difference is owing, in part, to defective transcriptions or translations; but it is more probable that Eusebius himself discovered another source, before writing his History, which he considered more authentic, and therefore substituted for the one he has used in his Chronicle. Lipsius (Chronologie der römischen Bischöfe, p. 145) says, “We may assume that the oldest catalogue extended as far as Eleutherus, but rested upon historical knowledge only from Xystus, or, at the farthest, from Alexander down.” On the chronology of the Roman bishops in general, see especially the important work of Lipsius just referred to.


Cerdon, mentioned in Bk. III. chap. 21.


The Chronicle of Eusebius (Armenian) makes Primus succeed to the bishopric of Alexandria in the eleventh year of Trajan; the version of Jerome, in the ninth. According to chap. 4, below, he held office twelve years. No reliance can be placed upon any of the figures. The Alexandrian church is shrouded in darkness until the latter part of the second century, and all extant traditions in regard to its history before that time are about equally worthless. Of Primus himself we have no authentic knowledge, though he figures somewhat in later tradition. See Smith and Wace’s Dict. of Christian Biography, in loco.


According to the Chronicle of Eusebius (Armenian), Alexander became bishop of Rome in the eighth year of Trajan; according to Jerome’s version, in the twelfth year. He is said, in chap. 4, below, to have died in the third year of Hadrian, after holding office ten years. On the reliability of these dates, see note 1, above. Of Alexander’s life and character we know nothing.


On Evarestus, see Bk. III. chap. 34, note 3.

Next: Chapter II

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