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

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter V.—The Bishops of Jerusalem from the Age of our Saviour to the Period under Consideration

1. The chronology of the bishops of Jerusalem I have nowhere found preserved in writing; 994 for tradition says that they were all short lived.

2. But I have learned this much from writings, 995 that until the siege of the Jews, which took place under Adrian, 996 there were fifteen bishops in succession there, 997 all of whom are said to have been of Hebrew descent, and to have received the knowledge of Christ in purity, so that they were approved by those who were able to judge of such matters, and were deemed worthy of the episcopate. For their whole church consisted then of believing Hebrews who continued from the days of the apostles until the siege which took place at this time; in which siege the Jews, having again rebelled against the Romans, were conquered after severe battles.

3. But since the bishops of the circumcision ceased at this time, it is proper to give here a list of their names from the beginning. The first, then, was James, the so-called brother of the Lord; 998 the second, Symeon; 999 the third, Justus; 1000 the fourth, Zacchæus; 1001 the fifth, Tobias; the sixth, Benjamin; the seventh, John; the eighth, Matthias; the ninth, Philip; the tenth, Seneca; 1002 the eleventh, Justus; the twelfth, Levi; the thirteenth, Ephres; 1003 the fourteenth, Joseph; 1004 and finally, the fifteenth, Judas.

4. These are the bishops of Jerusalem that lived between the age of the apostles and the time referred to, all of them belonging to the circumcision.

5. In the twelfth year of the reign of Adrian, Xystus, having completed the tenth year of p. 177 his episcopate, 1005 was succeeded by Telesphorus, 1006 the seventh in succession from the apostles. In the meantime, after the lapse of a year and some months, Eumenes, 1007 the sixth in order, succeeded to the leadership of the Alexandrian church, his predecessor having held office eleven years. 1008



In his Chron. Eusebius also gives the names of these bishops of Jerusalem, without assigning dates to more than two or three of them. But in Nicephorus Callisti the dates are given. From what source Nicephorus drew we do not know. He is, at any rate, too late to be of any worth as an authority on such a subject. In fact, these men were not regular monarchical bishops, holding office in succession (see note 4), and hence Eusebius is quite excusable for his ignorance in regard to their dates. See Ritschl’s Entstehung der alt-kath. Kirche, p. 246 sq.


Reuterdahl (De Fontibus Hist. eccles. Euseb., p. 55) conjectures that these “writings” were found in the church of Jerusalem itself, and compares a passage in the Dem. Evang. III. 5: “The first bishops that presided there [i.e. at Jerusalem] are said to have been Jews, and their names are preserved by the inhabitants of the country.” Had Hegesippus or any other known author been the source of his information, he would probably have mentioned his name.


In 135 a.d. See below, chap. 7.


From Hegesippus (see above, Bk. III. chap. 32) we learn that Symeon, the successor of James, was martyred during Trajan’s reign. As was seen in note 6 of the chapter referred to, the martyrdom probably occurred early in that reign. Eusebius, in his Chron., refers the martyrdom and the accession of Justus to the tenth year of Trajan (107 a.d.). This leaves thirteen bishops to be inserted between 107 (or, if this date is not reliable, 98+) and 135 a.d., which is, to say the least, very suspicious. The true explanation appears to be that, after the death of Symeon, the last prominent relative of Christ, the presbyters took the lead, and that they were afterward made by tradition into successive monarchical bishops. Closs and Gieseler suppose that there were bishops of a number of churches in Palestine at the same time, whom tradition made successive bishops of Jerusalem. But the fact is, that the episcopate is of Greek, not of Jewish, origin, and in the strictly Jewish Christian churches of Palestine no such person as a bishop can have existed. Only after the church there came under the influence of the Gentile church, and lost its prevailingly Jewish character, was it possible for a bishop, in the general sense of the term, to exist there. The Jewish Christians assumed for their church government the form of the Jewish Sanhedrim, though while James and Symeon were alive, they were naturally leaders (according to the common Oriental custom, which exalted the relatives of the founder of a religion). The Jewish character of the Jerusalem congregation was very marked until the destruction of the city under Hadrian (note that all but two of the fifteen bishops have Jewish names), after which all circumcised Jews—Christians as well as unbelievers—were excluded, and a heathen Christian congregation took its place (see the next chapter). According to Stroth, followed by Closs, Stigloher, and Heinichen, the church of Jerusalem remained in Pella after 70 a.d., and was called the church of Jerusalem because it was made up of Christians from Jerusalem. This is possible; but Eusebius evidently did not understand it so (compare, too, his Dem. Evang. III. 5), and Epiphanius (de Mensa et Pond. chap 15) says expressly that, after the destruction of the city by Titus, the church returned again to Jerusalem, and there is no good reason to doubt the report.


On James, see above, Bk. II chap. 1.


On Symeon, see above, Bk. III. chap. 11, note 4.


Of Justus and the following named bishops we know nothing more. Justus is called Judas by Epiphanius, Hær. LXVI. 20.


Zacchæus is called Zacharias by Epiphanius. According to Jerome’s version of Eusebius’ Chron. he became bishop in the fifteenth year of Trajan; according to the Armenian version, in the twelfth year. Dates are given by the Chron. for this bishop and for Seneca, but no confidence is to be reposed in the dates, nor in those given by Epiphanius and Eutychius. The former, when he gives dates at all, is hopelessly at sea. The latter gives exact dates for every bishop, but quite without the support of ancient tradition.


The name Seneca is Latin, the only Latin name in the list. But there is nothing particularly surprising in a Jew’s bearing a Latin name. It was quite common even for native Jews to bear both a Latin, or Greek, and a Hebrew name, and often the former was used to the exclusion of the latter. The name therefore does not disprove Seneca’s Hebrew origin.


᾽Εφρῆς. Epiphanius calls him ᾽Ου€φρις. The Armenian version of the Chron. calls him Ephrem; Jerome’s version, Ephres. Syncellus calls him ᾽Εφραΐμ, which is the Hebrew form of the name.


᾽Ιωσήφ. He is called ᾽Ιωσίς by Epiphanius, and Joses by Jerome.


On Xystus, see chap. 4, note 3.


Telesphorus was a martyr, according to Irenæus, III. 3. 3 (compare below, chap. 10, and Bk. V. chap. 6), and the tradition is too old to be doubted. Eusebius here agrees with Jerome’s version of the Chron. in putting the date of Telesphorus’ accession in the year 128 a.d., but the Armenian version puts it in 124; and Lipsius, with whom Overbeck agrees, puts it between 124 and 126. Since he held office eleven years (according to Eusebius, chap. 10, below, and other ancient catalogues), he must have died, according to Lipsius and Overbeck, between 135 and 137 a.d. (the latter being probably the correct date), and not in the first year of Antoninus Pius (138 a.d.), as Eusebius states in chap. 10, below. Tradition says that he fought against Marcion and Valentinus (which is quite possible), and that he was very strict in regard to fasts, sharpening them and increasing their number, which may or may not be true.


We know nothing more about Eumenes. He is said in chap. 11 to have held office thirteen years, and this brings the date of his death into agreement with the date given by the Armenian version of the Chron., which differs by two years from the date given by Jerome.


His predecessor was Justus. See the previous chapter.

Next: Chapter VI