A Historical Introduction to the Study of the Books of the New Testament

By George Salmon

Chapter 19


In discussing the relation between St. Matthew's Gospel and the so-called Gospel of the Hebrews, I was led, in a former lecture, to speak of other non-canonical gospels; and thus I have come to include in the plan of these lectures an account not only of the writings which have obtained admission into the New Testament Canon, but also of those which at any time seemed to have pretensions to find their way into it.1

This, then, would seem to be the place to treat of Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles; but though there is great abundance of legendary tales of Apostolic labours and miracles, there is scarcely any extant document, which either on the ground of antiquity or of extent of acceptance, can make remote pretensions to canonical authority. If we were to judge by the number of New Testament books which modern critics have rejected as spurious, we should be led to think that the early Church was extremely easy in admitting the claims of any document which aspired to a place in the Canon. But actually we find cause to admire the extreme rigour of the scrutiny to which any such claim was subjected.

We have already seen that the two minor Epistles of St. John (whose common authorship with the First Epistle there is no good reason to doubt) did not find acceptance at once, or without controversy. Like hesitation was shown (and as I believe without any just cause) in the case of St. James's Epistle, of which I have still to speak. And though the story of the labours and sufferings of the first preachers of the Gospel constituted the reading which Christians found at once most interesting and most edifying, it does not appear that anyone dreamed of setting any record of Apostolic labours on a level with that made by St. Luke. The consequence was, that this branch of Christian literature, being not interfered with or controlled by ecclesiastical authority, became liable to great variations of form. Successive relators of these stories modified them to suit their respective tastes or to express their doctrinal views; so that now it is often a difficult and uncertain task for critical sagacity to recover the original form of the legends. The difficulty is increased by the number of the documents that demand investigation, much still remaining to be done for a complete examination of the Greek and Latin lives to be found in Western libraries, while considerable addition to the stock of materials may be expected from Oriental sources.

That the Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles should be subjected to some alterations and recastings was indeed a necessity resulting from the fact that it was in heretical circles that the majority took their origin. I have already (Lect. II.) spoken of the Clementines, which were in fact Ebionite Acts of Peter. There was still more active manufacture of apocryphal literature among the Gnostics, some of whom displayed great fertility of invention, and had tales to tell of wonders wrought by the Apostles which had as lively interest for the orthodox as for the heretics. So members of the Catholic Church who met with these Gnostic Acts found it easy to believe that the facts related in them were in the main true, however much they might have been disfigured by heretical additions.2 And then it was a natural step to expurgate these Acts, cancelling as spurious what was found distasteful to orthodox feelings, or giving the story some modification which would remove the offence. For instance, Encratism is a prominent feature of the Gnostic Acts. The married life is treated as absolutely unlawful. The Apostolic preachers are represented as having done a good work, when a couple about to unite in wedlock have been prevailed on to abandon the design, or when a wife has been persuaded to refuse further intercourse with her husband. The persecution which the Christian preachers meet with is frequently represented as arising from the natural resentment of husbands at such teaching. When these stories are repeated by an orthodox narrator, the heretical character of the Encratism is removed. The woman who separates herself is not a wife but a concubine; or there is some impediment of close kindred; or the separation is not intended to be permanent, but is only a temporary withdrawal for purposes of devotion, or in order more closely to attend to the Apostolic preaching.

I. There is no heretical taint in the work which I take first to describe, and which related the preaching of Addai or Thaddaeus, to Abgarus, king of Edessa. I place it first be cause we have an assurance of the antiquity of the story in the fact that Eusebius accepted it as authentic, and gave an abstract of it, at the end of the first book of his Ecclesiastical History. He states that he derived his account from records written in Syriac, preserved in the archives of the city of Edessa. This city, the capital of Osrhoene, the northern province of Mesopotamia, was for a long period a centre of theological culture for Syriac-speaking Christians. It boasted with pride of the early date at which it had received the Gospel; and in time it was believed to have derived special privileges from the reception by its king of a letter from our Saviour's own hand. The barbarians should never be able to take the city. No idolater, no Jew, no heretic could live in it. With these privileges, however, we are not immediately concerned, since the belief in them is of later origin than the story with which I have to do. This is that Abgar, one of several successive rulers of Edessa who bore this name, being afflicted with a sore disease, and having heard of the mighty deeds of Jesus, who cured sicknesses by the power of his word alone, and who even raised the dead, sent ambassadors to Him with a letter, of which Eusebius gives a translation. In this he expresses his belief that Jesus must be either God or the Son of God; and he begs Him to have pity on him and heal his disease. He has heard of the plots which the Jews are contriving against Jesus, and offers Him refuge in his city, which though small is of good consideration and well sufficient for them both. Eusebius gives also a translation of what purports to be a letter from our Lord in answer. In some versions of the story our Lord's answer is verbal: in others the verbal answer is turned into a letter by the Apostle Thomas. It begins, Blessed art thou who hast believed in me without having seen me; for it is written of me that they who have seen me shall not believe me, and that they who have not seen me shall believe and live. There seems to be here a clear use of John xx. 29. The nearest Old Testament passage is Is. Hi. 15, and the resemblance to that is not very close. The letter goes on to say that our Lord must finish all the things for which He had been sent, and afterwards be taken up to Him that had sent Him; but that, after He had been taken up, He would send one of His disciples, who should heal his disease and give life to him and his people. Then the story relates that after our Lord's Ascension, the Apostle Judas, also called Thomas, sent Thaddseus, one of the Seventy, who preached to Abgar and healed him of his disease, the king declaring that he had already so believed in Jesus that if it had not been for the power of the Romans, he would have gone with an army to destroy the Jews who had crucified Jesus. Thaddaeus teaches him the cause why our Lord had been sent into the world, and tells him of our Lord's mighty work, and of the mysteries which He spoke to the world; how He abased Himself and humbled His Divinity, and was crucified, and descended into Hades, and clove the wall of partition which from eternity had never been cleft, and brought up the dead. For He descended alone, but ascended with many to His Father.3 Eusebius concludes his abstract by telling that Abgar offered Thaddaeus silver and gold; but he refused, saying, How shall we who have abandoned our own property take that which belongs to others? He gives the date, the year 340 that is of the Seleucian era, corresponding to the year 28 or 29 of ours.

Either the book from which Eusebius made his extracts, or an amplification of it, is still extant in Syriac. It is called The Teaching of Addai, and was edited, with an English translation, by Dr. Phillips, in 1876. It contains, with only trifling variations, all that is cited by Eusebius; but it contains a good deal more. For example, the letter of our Lord concludes with a promise of inviolability to the city of Edessa. There is a story of which you must have heard, but about which Eusebius is silent, that one of Abgar's ambassadors, being the royal painter, took a picture of our Lord and brought it back with him to Edessa. There is a correspondence between Abgar and the Emperor Tiberius, in which Abgar urges the Roman emperor to punish the Jews for the murder of our Lord; and Tiberius answers that he had disgraced Pilate for his share in the crime, but that he was prevented by troubles in Spain from taking immediate steps against the Jews. And there is a story about Protonice, the wife of the Emperor Claudius, almost identical with that told of Constantine's mother Helena, namely, that she sought for our Lord's cross, and, finding three, was enabled to distinguish the right one by applying them successively to a dead body, which was unaffected by the touch of the crosses of the two thieves, but was restored to life when touched by that of our Lord. It is a question whether Eusebius designedly omitted all this matter, or whether it was added since his time. Lipsius, who has made a special study of this story,4 decides in favour of the latter supposition, a conclusion which I have no inclination to dispute. He dates the original document used by Eusebius A. D. 250, and the enlargement about 360. I have already (see p. 83) had occasion to refer to one of the proofs that the document is not earlier than the third century, viz. that it represents Addai as using the Diatessaron in the public service. The reading of Paul's Epistles and of the Acts of the Apostles is also especially mentioned (p. 44)5

II. The work which I next consider might, on chronological grounds, have been placed first, for it has earlier attestation and was earlier written: the Acts of Paul and Thecla. In this story, as I shall presently tell, Thecla is related to have baptized herself, and consequently her case was cited against Tertullian in the controversy whether or not it was permissible for females to baptize. He disposes of the citation (De Baptismo, 17) by denying the authenticity of the book; and makes the interesting statement that a presbyter in Asia had confessed his authorship of the work, pleading that he had made it through love of Paul, whereupon he was deposed from his office. Thus we learn that the story of Thecla was current in the second century; and I know no good reason for doubting that it was, in its main substance, the same as that contained in the Acts now extant. Not withstanding Tertullian's rejection, the story of Thecla is used as genuine by a whole host of fathers: Ambrose, Augustine, Gregory Nyssen, Gregory Nazianzen, Epiphanius, Chrysostom, and others.6 Though Eusebius does not directly mention Thecla, he shows his knowledge of her story by calling another ἡ καθ̓ ἡμᾶς Θέκλα (Mart. Pal. 3). His contemporary Methodius, in his Symposium, makes Thecla the victor in the contest of virgins. The Acts were translated into Latin, Syriac, and Arabic.

These Acts of Paul and Thecla are deeply tinged with Encratism. This sufficiently appears from the following specimen of Paul's preaching: Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are they who keep the flesh undefiled, for they shall become the temple of God. Blessed are the continent (οἱ ἐγκρατεῖς), for God shall speak unto them. Blessed are they who renounce this world, for they shall be called upright. Blessed are they who have wives as though they had them not, for they shall inherit God. . . . Blessed are the bodies of the virgins, for they shall be well pleasing to God, and shall not lose the reward of their chastity/ This sermon is delivered by Paul in the house of his host Onesiphorus at Iconium, where the story opens. The virgin Thecla overhears it from the window of her neighbouring house, and is delighted with the Apostle's praises of virginity. She hangs like a spider at the window for three days and nights together, not leaving it either to eat or to drink, until her mother in despair sends for Thecla's affianced husband Thamyris, the chief man of the city. But his interference is in vain; Thecla has no ears for anyone but Paul.

Thamyris, going out, meets two of Paul's companions, Demas and Hermogenes, men full of hypocrisy, and asks them who this deceiver was who forbade marriages to take place. They tell him that Paul robbed young men of their wives, and maidens of their husbands, teaching them, Ye have no part in the Resurrection unless ye remain chaste and do not defile your flesh; but they teach him that the Resurrection has already taken place, consisting in the generation of children, and in the obtaining the knowledge of the true God.

I may remark in passing that the use of the names Onesiphorus, Demas, and Hermogenes, the parts ascribed to these characters, and the doctrine about the Resurrection being past already, show clearly that the writer of these Acts had read the Second Epistle to Timothy with which his work has other verbal coincidences. These last coincidences might, perhaps, be explained away as arising from additions made by an orthodox reviser; but a reviser would not be likely to alter the names of the characters. Onesiphorus is described as seeking for Paul (2 Tim. i. 17), and you may care to hear the description by which he had been taught to recognize the Apostle. He was a man of small stature, with bald head, bow-legged, of a healthy complexion (εὐεκτικός), with eyebrows joined together, and a somewhat aquiline nose (μικρῶςἐπίρινος).7 I have only mentioned the coincidences with 2 Timothy because this is a disputed book. These Acts are full of coincidences with the New Testament. You may have noticed two in the fragment of Paul's sermon which I quoted, Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God and they that have wives, as though they had none.

At the instigation of the false disciples, Paul is arraigned before the proconsul; but the first night of his imprisonment Thecla, by gifts of her personal ornaments, bribes the porter of her own house to let her out, and the jailer to let her in, and sits at Paul's feet and receives his instruction. There she is found; and when Paul is brought before the tribunal she is sent for, too; but when examined by the proconsul she makes no answer, having no eyes or ears for any but Paul. Though the proconsul had been willing to listen to the Christian doctrine preached by Paul, he now condemns him as a magician, and has him whipped out of the city. As for Thecla, her own mother pronounces that she ought to be burned, in order that other women might learn not to follow so bad an example; and burned she accordingly would have been if the pyre had not miraculously been quenched. Escaping from the city, Thecla finds Paul, who with his company had been fasting and praying for her deliverance. Onesiphorus was with him, but he had parted with all his goods; so when, after six days fasting, they can hold out no longer, Paul has to sell his upper garment in order to buy the bread and herbs which, with water, constituted their fare. Thecla begs that she may travel with Paul whithersoever he went; but he replies, Nay, for the time is evil, and thou of fair form, lest another temptation worse than the former come on thee and thou not be able to resist. Give me, she said, the seal in Christ, and no temptation shall touch me. And Paul answered, * Thecla, be patient, and thou shalt receive the water.

She accompanies him then to Antioch, where her beauty excites the passion of the Syriarch Alexander, and brings on her new trials. In consequence of her resistance to him, she is brought before the governor, and condemned to the wild beasts. In the meantime she obtains that the virginity for which she was willing to undergo so much should be preserved, and is committed to the charge of a lady, Tryphaena, who later in the story is spoken of as a queen and as a relation of the emperor. Tryphaena receives her to take the place of her deceased daughter, and Thecla requites the service by efficacious prayers, which transfer the soul of this dead heathen to the place of bliss. The lioness to whom Thecla is first ex posed not only licks her feet and refuses to touch her, but defends her against the other animals let loose on her. But when, after having killed some of the assailants, the faithful lioness herself is slain, Thecla, seeing no further escape, jumps into a tank where seals are kept, crying, as she does so, I am baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the Last Day. There upon the sea monsters fall dead, and Thecla is surrounded with a cloud of fire, so that neither can the beasts touch her nor her nakedness be seen. I need not pursue the history. When Paul takes leave of her, he bids her go teach the word of God; and she continues to a great age at Seleucia, living on herbs and water, and there enlightening many people with the word of God. Unless the last ἐφώτισεν is to be understood to mean baptized, there is no mention in the Acts, as they stand now, of Thecla's baptizing anyone but herself. Jerome, however, speaks contemptuously of the Acts of Thecla, as containing a story of a baptized lion (De Viris Illust. 7). Either this was a hallucination of memory on Jerome's part (which I think by no means impossible, his story being absolutely without confirmation), or this incident was expurgated from the version of these Acts which has reached us.

If we had not Tertullian's testimony that these Acts were composed by a Church presbyter, against whom he brings no charge of heresy, I should certainly refer them to the class of Gnostic Acts, with which they have many features in common. The exaltation of virginity seems to proceed as far as to a condemnation of marriage, and to a denial to married persons of a share in the Resurrection. The account of the Apostolic company abandoning their worldly goods, and living on bread and water, has certainly an Encratite complexion. There is an account of an appearance to Thecla of our Lord in Paul's form which much resembles what we read in confessedly Gnostic Acts; while also a favourite incident in such Acts is the obedience of brute animals to the word of the Christian preachers. I think these Acts must have possessed these features from the first; for I know no example of Gnostic recasting of Acts originally orthodox. Neither again can I look on these Acts as an orthodox recasting of Gnostic Acts; for I find nothing in them which looks like a softening of something originally more heretical. I therefore accept the present as the original form of the Acts, and am willing to believe, on Tertullian's authority, that they were the work of a Church presbyter. But I think he must have worked on Gnostic lines. From the manner in which Tertullian speaks, I should date the composition of the Acts which he rejects some twenty or thirty years before his own time that is, about 170 or 180 and I believe that by that time Gnostic Acts had been published which might have served this writer as a model. I think that if the tendency of the work had been felt by the Church of the time to be quite unobjectionable, the author would scarcely have been deposed for his composition of what he could have represented as an edifying fiction not intended to deceive. But there is nothing surprising in the fact that anything of heretical aspect in the book should afterwards be overlooked or condoned. Some extravagance of statement is easily pardoned to good men struggling against real evils. At the present day, one point of Encratite doctrine the absolute unlawfulness of the use of wine is insisted on by men who find sympathy and respect from many who cannot be persuaded that the lawfulness of use is disproved by the possibility of abuse. At the end of the second century it was not merely that Christians saw their brethren in danger of being seduced by the immoralities of heathendom, lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries; there were those who laid claim to the Christian name who covered that name with disgrace. A later school of Gnostics drew from the doctrine of the essential evil of matter quite different con sequences from those of their ascetic predecessors. Instead of hoping by mortification of the body to lighten the weight that pressed down the soul, those men taught that it was folly to strive to purify what was in its nature impure beyond remedy. He who was truly enlightened would have know ledge to perceive that the soul could not be affected by the deeds of its grosser companion, but that he might give the flesh the gratification which it craved, and fear not that his spirit should suffer defilement. If men, fighting against these abominations, forgot caution and moderation, they would not be judged very harshly.

The extant Acts agree very well with Tertullian's account that their author was a presbyter of Asia; for it is in Asia Minor, and in those parts of it which adjoin Asia proper, that the scene of nearly the whole story is laid. Von Gutschmid has made interesting researches, showing that the names of royal personages which occur in apocryphal Acts are often those of real people; and he has proved by the evidence of coins that there really was a Queen Tryphaena, who conceivably might have been in Antioch at the time of Paul's visit.8 I have only to remark, in conclusion, that these Acts show no signs of acquaintance with any struggle between Paulinists and anti-Paulinists, the author being evidently unconscious that there can be any in the Church who do not share his admiration for Paul.

III. In order to let you better see the affinities of the story of Thecla with Gnostic Acts, I take next in order the Acts of St. Thomas, the remains of which are very complete, and their Gnostic character beyond mistake. They include, in deed, some hymns, copied in all simplicity by orthodox transcribers, who, being ignorant of Gnostic mythology, did not understand what was meant, but which betray their heretical origin at once to those who are acquainted with Gnostic speculations.

Among the books read by Photius9 (Bibl. 114), was a volume purporting to be written by Leucius Charinus, and containing the travels10 of Peter, John, Andrew, Thomas, and Paul. Photius describes the book as both foolish and heretical. It taught the existence of two Gods an evil one, the God of the Jews, having Simon Magus for his minister; and a good one, whom, confounding the Divine Persons, it identified with Christ. It denied the reality of Christ's In carnation, and gave a docetic account of His life on earth, and in particular of His crucifixion; it condemned marriage, and regarded all generation as the work of the evil principle; and it told several silly and childish stories. We can satisfactorily trace these Acts back to the fourth century by means of references in writers of that date. At that time they were chiefly in use among the Manicheans; yet there are grounds for looking on them as more ancient than that heresy, which only began towards the end of the third century. We do not find, indeed, the name of Leucius in any writer earlier than the fourth century; yet earlier writers show acquaintance with stories which we know to have been in the Leucian Acts; whence the conclusion has been drawn, which seems to me a probable one, that these Acts are really a second century production, and that they found favour with the Manicheans on account of the affinity of their doctrines.

It is mainly for the light they throw on Gnostic ideas that the Acts of Thomas deserve to be studied; for they are a mere romance, without any historic value. The name Thomas signifies twin/ and in these Acts the Apostle's proper name is given as Judas. The name Judas Thomas appears also in the Edessan Acts, and may have been derived from these. But in these Acts we are startled to find that the twin of the Apostle is no other than our Blessed Lord Himself, the like ness of the two being such as to cause one to be taken for the other. I have already noticed the parallel story of the appearance of our Lord to Thecla under the shape of Paul. The Acts begin by telling how the Apostles cast lots for the quarter of the world to which each was to preach the Gospel, and that India fell to the lot of Thomas. This story of a division of the field of labour among the Apostles by lot11 is very ancient. It was known to Eusebius (H. E. iii. 1), who, in the passage referred to, is quoting Origen. It is note worthy that Eusebius there names the districts obtained by the very five Apostles whose travels are said by Photius to have been related by Leucius. He assigns their districts Parthia to Thomas, Scythia to Andrew, Asia to John. Origen's account of the mission of the other two Apostles has the air of being rather taken from the Bible than from Apocryphal Acts, viz. Peter to the Jews dispersed in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia; St. Paul, from Jerusalem round about to Illyricum; it being added that both Apostles ended their lives by martyrdom at Rome. In the Gnostic Acts the allotment of labour among the Apostles is regarded as having happened very soon after the Ascension; but what is apparently an earlier account represents the Apostles as forbidden to leave Jerusalem for twelve12 years. Such is the account of the second-century writer Apollonius (Euseb. v. 18); and we learn from Clement of Alexandria (Strom, vi. 5), that the story was contained in the apocryphal Preaching of Peter and Paul.

The Acts of Thomas relate that when India fell to the lot of that Apostle he refused to go, notwithstanding that our Lord, in a vision, encouraged him. He was weak in the flesh, and how should a Hebrew preach the truth to the Indians? It happened that there was then in Jerusalem a merchant from India, charged by King Gundaphorus13 to buy him a carpenter. Our Lord met this man, and told him He could sell him a slave of His, who was a very good workman, and He sold him Thomas accordingly. Themer chant finding Thomas, showed him Jesus, and asked him, 1 Is this your master? Yes, he is my Lord/ was the reply. Then I have bought you from Him. So Thomas acquiesced in his Lord's will.

The first recorded incident of his travels is that, at a city where the ship touched, the King was making a marriage for his only daughter; and everyone, rich or poor, bond or free, native or foreigner, was required to attend the feast. I can not delay to tell what took place at it, save that Thomas re fused to eat or to drink. But, in consequence of a miracle14 which he performed, he was brought in by the King to bless the newly-married couple. When strangers had retired from the chamber, and the bridegroom lifted the curtain which separated him from his bride, he saw Thomas, as he sup posed, conversing with her. Then he asked in surprise, How canst thou be found here? Did I not see thee go out before all? And the Lord answered, I am not Judas Thomas, but his brother. Thereupon He made them sit down, and called on them to remember what His brother had said to them. He taught them all the anxieties, troubles, and temptations which result from the procreation of children, and promised them that if they kept themselves chaste they should partake of the true marriage, and enter the bride-chamber full of light and immortality. The young couple obey this exhortation, much to the grief of the King when he learns their resolution. He orders Thomas to be apprehended, but he had sailed away.

When Thomas arrives in India, he is brought before the King, and being questioned as to his knowledge of masons or carpenters work professes great skill in either department. The King asks him if he can build him a palace. He replies that he can, and makes a plan which is approved of. He is then commissioned to build the palace, and is supplied abundantly with money for the work, which, however, he says he cannot begin till the winter months. The King thinks this strange, but being convinced of his skill, acquiesces. But when the King goes away, Thomas, instead of building, employs himself in preaching the Gospel, and spends all the money on the poor. After a time the King sends to know how the work is going on. Thomas sends back word that the palace is finished all but the roof, for which he must have more money; and this is supplied accordingly, and is spent by Thomas on the widows and orphans as before. At length the King returns to the city, and, when he makes inquiry about the palace, he learns that Thomas has never done anything but go about preaching, giving alms to the poor, and healing diseases. He seemed to be a magician, yet he never took money for his cures; lived on bread and water, with salt, and had but one garment. The King, in great anger, sent for Thomas. Have you built me my palace? Yes. Let me see it. Oh, you can t see it now, but you will see it when you go out of this world. Enraged at being thus mocked, the King committed Thomas to prison, until he could devise some terrible form of death for him. But that same night the King's brother died, and his soul was taken up by the angels to see all the heavenly habitations. They asked him in which he would like to dwell. But when he saw the palace which Thomas had built, he desired to dwell in none but that. When he learned that it belonged to his brother, he begged and obtained that he might return to life in order that he might buy it from him. So as they were putting grave-clothes on the body, it returned to life. He sent for the King, whose love for him he knew, and implored him to sell him the palace. But when the King learned the truth about it, he refused to sell the mansion he hoped to inhabit himself, but consoled his brother with the promise that Thomas, who was still alive, should build him a better one. The two brothers then receive instruction, and are baptized. We learn here some interesting details about the Gnostic rites, and the agreement of the ritual with that described by Cyril of Jerusalem shows that, though most of the words of the prayers put into the Apostle's mouth may be regarded as the invention of the heretical composer of the Acts, much of the ritual, and possibly even some of the words, simply represent the usage of the Church before these Encratites branched off, and which they retained after their separation.

Oil has so prominent a place in this ritual, that it was supposed among the orthodox that the heretics, from whom these Acts emanated, baptized with oil, not with water.15 But though in one case no mention is made of water baptism, it may be gathered from the fuller account of other baptisms that it was not omitted. It is, indeed, sometimes difficult to know, when receiving the seal is spoken of, whether the application of oil or of water is intended. Thus, in one place (19, 30, Bonnet's ed.), we have δέξονται τὴν οφργῖδα τοῦ λουτρο, and immediately after (20, 9) ἵνα διὰ τοῦ ἐλαίου δέξονται τὴν σφραγῖδα. But the explanation, no doubt, is that the use both of the oil and the water were looked on as essential to the rite; and in the passage referred to an incident is represented as having occurred after the candidates had been sealed, but before they had received τὸ ἐπισφράισμα τῆς σφραγῖδος. The baptismal ceremony commenced with the pouring of oil on the candidate's head by the Apostle, with words of benediction; but throughout he is not represented as confining himself to a definite form of sacramental words, different forms being represented as used on different occasions. In these Acts the forms of prayer, requesting our Lord's presence in the consecrated oil, are much stronger than those with regard to the consecrated bread, e.g. (82, 6) ἐπιδημῆσαι τῷ ἐλαίῳ καταξίωσον τούτῳ εἰς ὃ καὶ τὸ σὸν ἅγιον ἐπιφημίζεται ὄνομα. (compare Cyril. Hier. Catech. xxi. 3). After oil had been poured on the head took place the anointing of the candidates: that is, as I suppose, the application of oil with the sign of the cross to different parts of the body. I find no trace that different unguent was used on the two occasions, though this was afterwards the practice. Thus (Const. App. vii. 22), χρίσεις πρῶτον τῷ ἐλαῖῳ ἁγίῳ, ἔπειτα βαπτίσεις ὕδαι, καὶ τελευταῖον σφραγίσεις μύρῳ (see also Cyril. Hier. xx. 3, and xxi. 3). In these authorities, and in later practice, this anointing comes after the baptism, and not before. In one place in these Acts we have the phrase ἀλείψας καὶ χρίσας, where the latter word seems to refer to the pouring of oil on the head, the former to the smearing of the unguent on the body. Cyril's usage is the reverse. Χρίειν is the ordinary O. T. word for the ceremonial anointing of priests, kings, &c. In the case of female candidates, the Apostle himself only pours the oil on the head, but leaves the subsequent anointing to the women.

After the anointing followed the baptism with water in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Apparently immersion was used, for the candidates were completely stripped, with the exception of a linen waist-cloth (Cyril, xx. 2). When a fountain could not be had, water was brought in in a trough (σκάφη). We may gather from Herodotus, iv. 73, that it would be possible for the candidate to lie down in such a vessel.16

After the baptism those who had been sealed received the Eucharist. In most places the impression is conveyed that no wine was used, and that it consisted of bread and water only. In one place, however, the materials brought in for the feast are κρᾶσιν ὕδατος καὶ ἄρτον ἕνα; and the word κρᾶσις suggests a mixture of wine. After the bread was blessed, the sign of the cross was made on it, and it was distributed with some such words as, This be unto thee for the remission of sins; but, as already stated, there is considerable variety in the words reported to have been used on different occasions. We read more than once of a supernatural voice uttering the Amen. In Justin Martyr's account of the Christian ritual (Apol. i. 65) I understand him to describe the people as joining vocally in the earlier prayers, which therefore must have been prescribed forms; but the Eucharistic thanksgiving as uttered by the president alone, and as it would seem, extempore, the people at the end expressing their assent by an Amen. St. Paul plainly refers to this mode of worship (1 Cor. xiv. 16), and its antiquity is proved by its being found in the earliest heretical sects. We learn from an extract preserved by Irenaeus (I. x. i) that in the second century the heretic Marcus uses as an illustration the sound made when all uttered the Amen together.17 It need not surprise us therefore to find the Amen here.

But a tale is told showing the danger of receiving un worthily. A youth, who had committed a grievous sin, was convicted by the Eucharist for on his partaking of the holy food both his hands withered. Being called on to confess, he owned that he had been enamoured of a woman: but having been converted by the Apostle, and having learned from him that he could not have life if he partook of carnal intercourse, he had received the seal, and had endeavoured to prevail on the woman he loved to dwell with him in chastity. But, on her refusing to pledge herself to continence, he thought he had done a good work in slaying her, for he could not bear the thought of her being polluted by another. No difficulty is raised as to the forgiveness of post-baptismal sin. The Apostle heals the young man and restores the woman to life, who anticipates Dante in relating what she had witnessed of the varieties of punishment in the unseen world.

It would be tedious to go through all the stories. Suffice it to say that the appearance of our Lord in the form of Thomas is more than once repeated; and that there are, as in other Gnostic Acts, tales of miracles performed on the brute creation. In a work of this nature we read without surprise that when on a journey the horses are unable to proceed, the wild asses of the desert obeyed the Apostle's summons, and picked out the four strongest of their number to take the place of the exhausted horses; but it exceeds the bounds even of hagiological probability that at the end of his journey Thomas should employ one of the wild asses as his curate, to exorcise a demon and to preach a sermon. One of the tales which moved the contempt of Photius was another story of a speaking ass, who claimed relationship with Balaam s, and with the ass who bore our Lord.18

The journey which I have mentioned results in the martyrdom of Thomas. He converts the wife of the chief minister of the sovereign of the country, who, in obedience to the Apostle's instructions,19 refuses further intercourse with her husband. He complains to the King, but the result is that the King's own wife and son become converts to the same doctrine. Thomas has, by his miracles, gained such estimation among the people that the King dares not order his public execution, but by his command the four soldiers who guarded the Apostle pierce him to death with their spears. And this occasions a remark which is worth quoting as exhibiting the docetic denial of the truth that our Lord had a body like ours. Thomas observes that it was fitting that his body, which was made of four elements, should be pierced by four spears, but our Lord's body only by one.

Notwithstanding the docetic tinge of the passage just quoted, very orthodox language is elsewhere used as to our Lord's twofold nature. He is addressed as Ἰησοῦ ὁ ἐπαναπαυόμενος ἀπὸ τῆς ὁδοιπορίας τοῦ καμάτου ὡς ἄνθρωπος καὶ ἐπὶ τοῖς κύμασι περιπατῶν ὡς θεός. And again, ὁ μομογενὴς ὑπάρχων, ὁ πρωτότοκος πολλῶν ἀδελφῶν, θεὲ ἐκ θεοῦὐ ψίστου, ὁ ἄνθρωπος ὁ καταφρονούενος ἕως ἄρτι. You will have noticed the use made in this quotation of St. John's Gospel and of the Epistle to the Romans; and in fact these Acts make copious use of the New Testament; of the Gospels, including John, several times, the Acts, the Pauline Epistles, including the Epistle to the Ephesians frequently, and both Epistles to Timothy, the Epistle to the Hebrews, the First Epistles both of St. Peter and St. John, and the Apocalypse.

There is nothing in the facts just stated which forbids us to believe these Acts to have been earlier than the time of Origen. The language used concerning our Lord's twofold nature resembles that employed by Melito;20 and all the New Testament books quoted were in full use at the end of the second century. For instance, I see nothing either in the Christology or in the New Testament Canon of these Acts which would make it impossible to believe that they were written by Tatian.21 Not that I in the least believe that this writer was capable of inventing the ridiculous stories which these Acts contain; yet we can learn from them what were the notions prevalent among the Encratites to whom Tatian joined himself. And the word Gnostic is one of such very wide application, being given to some whom we should hardly own as Christians at all, that it is interesting to learn how much of Catholic doctrine was held by the Gnostic sects which were nearest to the Church. The Encratites were especially formidable towards the end of the second century, and the controversy with them occupies a whole book of the Stromateis of Clement of Alexandria.

I should be disposed to conjecture Syria as the place of manufacture of these Acts. I have already noticed their agreement with the Doctrine of Addai in the use of the name of Judas Thomas; and the Acts of Thomas conclude with telling of the removal of the body of Thomas to Edessa.22

I have gone into so much detail about the Acts of Thomas that I can say nothing about those of Andrew, which, in their original form, were probably of equal antiquity; or about the Acts of Philip, a later production of the same school.

IV. The Acts of St. Peter. I have already (see p. 14) told you of the Clementine writings, founded, as it would seem, on an earlier Jewish-Christian work, which related travels of Peter. There is evidently [much room for difference of opinion between critics who, guided by internal evidence only, attempt to separate the original portions of a work from subsequent accretions. To me it seems certain that the original Circuits of Peter terminated with the Apostle's arrival at Antioch, beyond which the existing forms of the Clementines do not proceed. Two or three allusions to a subsequent contest of Peter with Simon Magus at Rome I believe to have been inserted when the work was dressed up for Roman circulation. Extant Acts which tell of the contest at Rome are of later date, and of by no means Ebionite character, associating Peter with Paul in joint opposition to the magician. Those who have been trained in the Tübingen theory as to the predominance of the anti-Pauline party in the early Church piously believe that the Acts relating the adventures of Peter at Rome must be an orthodox recasting of anti- Pauline Acts now lost, in which Paul, instead of opposing Simon, was himself to be recognized under that name. But of the existence of such Acts there is not a particle of evidence, nor do I know of any passages in the extant Acts which suggest that they originally bore an anti-Pauline aspect. Non-Ebionite Acts of Peter are as old as the second century, for we learn from a quotation by Clement of Alexandria (Strom. vi. 5) that the Preaching of Peter was of this character.23

In truth, I consider that the first condition for either tracing rightly the genesis of the Petrine legends, or understanding the history of the early Church, is the rejection of the speculations which Baur has built on the fact that in the Clementine Homilies Paul is assailed under the mask of Simon Magus. The consequence has been that his disciples cannot hear Simon Magus named without thinking of Paul. By a false historical perspective they project the image of third-century heretics back upon the first ages of the Church; and the climax is reached by Volkmar, who makes the Simon- Paul myth antecedent to Luke, and finds in Acts viii. a covert assault upon the Apostle of the Gentiles.24 I have already had occasion to mention (p. 19) that it is only in the Homilies, which exhibit the latest form of the Elkesaite legends, that the assault on Paul under the character of Simon is to be found. The Clementine Recognitions, which contain an earlier form of the same story, are also decidedly anti-Pauline. Paul figures in them as the enemy, and as persecuting the Church; but as the date of the incident is before his journey to Damascus, there is nothing in the story that might not be accepted by a reader fully persuaded of the truth of Luke's narrative. The writer shows his hostility to Paul only by making no mention of his subsequent conversion or his preaching to the Gentiles. And none of the language which, in the Recognitions, is put into the mouth of Simon conveys any reference to Paul. Indeed, the whole story of Simon, which is found in both forms of the Clementines, attributes to him characteristics with which Paul has nothing in common. The magician is a Samaritan, he had been a disciple of John the Baptist, he has a concubine named Helena, he works miracles in no way resembling those ascribed to Paul, and he arrogates to himself divine prerogatives.

It is plain that the use of a historical name as a nickname implies some previous knowledge of the character whose name is so employed. Whence, then, are we to suppose that the Clementine writers obtained their knowledge of Simon? I answer: in the first instance from the Acts of the Apostles; for never, do I think, was there a more complete ὕστερον πρότερον than when the Clementines were used to explain the genesis of the Book of the Acts. The Recognitions in several places betray a use of the Acts. They mention, for instance, Paul's journey to Damascus; they know that Gamaliel took the Apostle's part, telling the story in the curious form, that Gamaliel was in truth a Christian, but had obtained from the Apostles a dispensation to conceal his faith.25 From the Acts, then, I believe, that the Clementine writer drew his knowledge of Simon as a Samaritan, as a magician, and, it is important to add, as one who had been a disciple of Jesus.

As for the particulars which the Clementines add to what is told of Simon in the Acts, I feel no doubt that they were derived from Justin Martyr. Justin himself states in his Apology that he was also the author of a work on heresies; and the best authorities are agreed that this lost work of Justin's formed the basis of the treatise on heresy by Irenseus and Hippolytus. When we find the first two places in the list of heretics assigned to the two Samaritan heretics, Simon and Menander, we infer that the information was furnished by the Samaritan Justin, who duly records the villages where each was born; and the coincidences between the account of Simon given by Irenaeus (i. 21) and in the Clementines, lead us to believe that Justin was the source of the latter as well as of the former. If the whole Clementine story of Simon be later than Justin Martyr, we evidently can attribute no great antiquity to the identification of the Clementine Simon with Paul, which must be later still.26

The Acts of Peter and Paul, as printed by Tischendorf, are much later than the Clementines. Simon appears in the character of a magician, and performs many wonders in his conflict with the Apostles before Nero. Thus he offers to allow his head to be cut off, undertaking in three days to rise again. But by his magical power he deceives the eyes of the spectators; and it is a ram which is made to assume his form and is beheaded. So, to the Emperor's amazement, Simon walks in at the appointed time, complaining, What a mess you have got here! Why they have never wiped up the blood where they cut off my head. Finally Simon exhibits his power by undertaking to fly up to heaven from the top of a lofty tower. But on the Apostles adjuration, the evil angels who are bearing him are compelled to drop him, and he is taken up dead. Yet the Emperor, instead of being convinced, orders the execution of the two Apostles. But I may mention, as showing the affinity of these Acts to those previously described, that the cause of hostility to the Apostles is stated to be the number of matrons whom they had persuaded to leave the society of their husbands, among whom were the wife of the Emperor's chief minister, Agrippa, and Nero's own wife, Livia. You will notice how the framer of the story has mixed up the personages of the reigns of Augustus and of Nero. There were Gnostic Acts, which I regard as earlier than those from which I quote, and which contain other stories of Simon's conflict with the Apostles, and legends of the Apostles work at Rome, which it would be tedious to detail. But perhaps I ought not to pass by in silence the celebrated story of Domine quo vadis? Peter had, by the advice of the leading members of the Church, resolved on withdrawing from the coming persecution; but outside the city he meets the Lord coming in; and on asking Him whither He is going, is answered, To Rome, to be again crucified. Thereupon Peter, understanding the rebuke, returns to fulfil the Lord's command.

I have said that the Acts, as published by Tischendorf, are not very ancient. I will mention two proofs of this. One is that Hippolytus, who wrote about A.D. 235, is ignorant of the version of the death of Simon, which I have repeated to you, and which eventually became the most widely received. The story told by Hippolytus is, that Simon commanded himself to be buried, promising to rise again in three days. And buried he was; but buried he remained. The other proof is drawn from the fact that in these Acts the martyrdom of the two Apostles is made to take place on the 29th June, the day on which it has been commemorated for centuries; for it came to be held that Peter and Paul, though not martyred in the same year, suffered on the same day.27

We find that about the middle of the second century the custom had begun of making a commemoration of a martyrdom on the first anniversary of its occurrence, and about the middle of the third century of making, at least in the case of very distinguished martyrs, commemorations on successive anniversaries. For these purposes it was necessary to pre serve the memory of the exact day of the martyrdom. But I find no evidence that either custom was earlier than the date I have named; and I do not believe that in the hurry and panic of the Neronian persecutions any record was preserved of the dates of the martyrdoms. But the 2Qth June does commemorate a real occurrence, namely, a translation of the bodies of the two Apostles, which an authentic Kalendar of the Roman Church28 records as having taken place on that day in the year 258. The earliest mention of the commemoration of the two Apostles is by Caius, of whom I have already spoken (p. 51), and dates from the beginning of the third century. Apparently the Montanist antagonist of Caius, in claiming authority for the Asiatic Churches, had cited the great names of their founders, or former rulers. Caius (ap. Euseb. ii. 25) retorts by appealing to the authority of the founders of the Roman Church Peter and Paul whose trophies might be seen, the one on the Vatican, the* other on the Ostian Way, These were the places where early tradition, which I see no reason to reject, related that the Apostles respectively suffered. They were probably buried, each near the place of his martyrdom; and there, in process of time, tombs were erected, which became centres of Christian worship. But the year 258 witnessed a terrible persecution under the Emperor Valerian, in the course of which the bishops Sixtus perished at Rome and Cyprian at Carthage. The Christians were forbidden to hold meetings or to enter their places of sepulture. Then a hiding-place was found in the Catacombs, to which, on 2gth June, the two bodies were transferred, and there meetings could secretly be held. The deposition of the bodies became a subject of annual commemoration; and it is this, and not the martyrdom, which, as I believe, the 2Qth June really commemorates. A document, therefore, which describes the Apostles as suffering on that day, is pretty sure to be considerably later than the year 258.29

Before quitting the subject of the Petrine Acts, I ought to mention that Lipsius holds that the tradition of Peter's preaching and martyrdom at Rome is confronted by a rival tradition, which makes the scene of his activity Pontus and the East. But my opinion is that the latter tradition was intended not to contradict but to supplement the earlier story, which told of Peter's work at Rome. I have already quoted a passage from Origen, which represents Peter as having first laboured in those countries which are named in the salutation with which his First Epistle begins. The Gnostic Acts of Andrew appear to have made that Apostle take part with his brother in joint work in Pontus. A history is given of the successful labours of Andrew among the savage and cannibal tribes which were believed to inhabit the shores of the Black Sea. The legend which made Andrew labour in that part of the world afterwards proved convenient. For when, through the favour of Constantine, Byzantium was made to rank above cities in which Apostles were known to have laboured, an attempt was made to supply the deficiency of the new capital in ecclesiastical associations by a claim that its first bishop had been appointed by St. Andrew, whose body it soon took pains to possess. No legend represented Peter as sharing his brother's fate; and we have every reason to think that the same Acts which told of Peter's work in the East told also of his return to other labours in the West.

V. The Acts of St. John30 Of all the Gnostic Acts, those which related the work of John seem to me to have left the greatest traces on Church tradition; and I am inclined to think that it is with the Acts of John that the name of Leucius ought specially to be connected; for he seems to have been represented as an attendant on that Apostle. Several traditions concerning John, which are mentioned by very early writers, agree so closely with what we know to have been told in the Gnostic Acts as to favour the idea that these Acts may have been the original source of these traditions. But this account cannot be given of all the stories told about this Apostle. For instance, the beautiful story of John and the robber, which I do not repeat, because it has been told so often that most of you are likely to know it already, appears to have been derived by Clement of Alexandria (Quis div. salv. 42) from some different source. For later Christian writers, who show independent knowledge of other things contained in the Leucian Acts, appear to have known for this story no other authority than Clement.

The Leucian Acts came under discussion at the second Council of Nicsea. They had been appealed to by the Iconoclasts; for one of their stories was, that the Apostle John rebuked a disciple for the cult he found him to be in the habit of paying to a certain picture; on which he was informed that the picture was his own. John, who had never seen his own face, refused to own the likeness, until a mirror was brought him; when he was convinced, but still said that his disciple had done ill. In order to discredit this authority, passages from these Acts were read at the Council to exhibit their heretical character. The docetism of the Acts comes out very plainly from this evidence. John is related as informing his disciples that when he tried to lay hold on our Lord it had sometimes happened to him to find solid substance, but not so at other times; that, though he could see Him walking, he was never able to see that He left any footprint on the ground; and that when our Lord was invited to a feast He used to divide the loaf that was given Him among His disciples, who found the portion thus handed them so satisfying, that they needed not to touch the loaves given by the host to themselves. Our Lord is related to have appeared to His disciples sometimes young, sometimes old; sometimes small, sometimes so high as to touch the heavens with His head. And there is a story how John, not bearing to witness the Crucifixion, fled to the Mount of Olives; and there, while 4he mob believed they were crucifying our Lord, He conversed with John and showed him a wonderful vision of a cross of light, which I must not attempt to describe, for I should wander away too far if I were to try to explain how some leading Gnostic sects contrived, notwithstanding their docetism, to rival the orthodox in the honour they paid to the Cross.

Now, one of the reasons for thinking it possible that these Acts may be as old as Clement of Alexandria is, that that father states that he read in the traditions, that when John handled the body of our Lord it offered no resistance, but yielded place to the Apostle's hand.

The Encratite character of these Acts is very strongly marked. For example, one of the Apostle's miracles is performed on a lady who had submitted to die rather than associate with her husband. And we have also the favourite Gnostic type of miracle, the conferring intelligence on the brute creation. It may amuse you to hear, by way of example, what the narrator describes as a pleasant incident. On their journey the party stopped at an uninhabited caravanserai. They found there but one bare couch, and having laid clothes on it they made the Apostle lie on it, while the rest of the party laid themselves down to sleep on the floor. But John- was troubled by a great multitude of bugs, until after having tossed sleepless for half the night he said to them, in the hearing of all: I say unto you, O ye bugs, be ye kindly considerate; leave your home for this night, and go to rest in a place which is far from the servants of God. At this the disciples laughed, while the Apostle turned to sleep, and they conversed gently, so as not to disturb him. In the morning the first to awake went to the door, and there they saw a great multitude of bugs standing. The rest collected to view, and at last St. John awoke and saw likewise. Then (mindful rather of his grateful obligation to the bugs than of the comfort of the next succeeding traveller) he said: O ye bugs,, since ye have been kind and have observed my charge, return to your place. No sooner had he said this and risen from the couch, than the bugs all in a run (δρομαῖοι) rushed from the door to the couch, climbed up the legs, and disappeared into the joinings. And John said: See how these creatures, having heard the voice of a man, have obeyed; but we, hearing the voice of God, neglect and disobey; and how long? (Zahn, p. 226.)

I will now mention some of the statements which were contained in the Leucian Acts, and which were known in the Church so early that, if we could believe it was from these Acts the knowledge was obtained, we might assign them very high antiquity:

(1) These Acts tell (Zahn, p. 247) how John's virginity had been preserved by a threefold interposition of our Lord, breaking off the Apostle's designs each time that he at tempted to marry. In conformity with their Encratism, these Acts dwelt much on the Apostle's virginity, describing this as the cause of our Lord's love to him, and as the reason for his many privileges; in particular, as the reason why to a virgin the care of the Virgin Mother was committed. In a third-century Gnostic work, Pistis Sophia, the name of the Apostle John ordinarily has the title ὁ παρθένος appended. Now the opinion of John's virginity, concerning which the canonical Scriptures say nothing, is common to many of the fathers. It is as early as Tertullian (De Monog. 17). We are not entitled to say positively that this opinion must have been derived from the Acts of which I am speaking, because a true tradition that John never married might easily have been preserved in the Churches of Asia Minor; yet, when this is taken in connexion with other coincidences, it gives some probability to the view that Acts of John existed as early as the second century, and were the source whence subsequent writers drew their traditions.

(2) The story told in the Muratorian Fragment (see p. 54) of John's composition of his Gospel having originated from a request of the bishops of Asia has great affinity with what Clement of Alexandria tells (Euseb. vi. 14), that John, having seen that the bodily things had been related in the previous Gospels, made a Spiritual Gospel προτραπέντα ὑπὸ τῶν γνωρίμων, Πνεύματι θεοφορηθέντα. It is not conceivable that one of these writers copied from the other; but several later writers (as, for instance, Jerome in the preface to his Commentary on St. Matthew) tell the same story, agreeing, however, in some additional particulars, which show that they did not derive their knowledge from either of the authors whom I have named. Thus they tell that the request that John should write was caused by the inroads of the Ebionite heresy, which made it necessary that the Apostle should add some thing concerning the Divinity of our Lord to what his predecessors had said about His humanity; and they tell how, in answer to their prayers, the Apostle, filled with the Holy Ghost, burst into the prologue, In the beginning was the Word (see note, p. 54). Other coincidences make it likely that this story was found in Acts of John used by Clement.

(3) Tertullian (Prœscrip. 36) refers to the story of John having been cast into burning oil, and taken out unhurt. Jerome, who tells the same story in his Commentary on Matthew, xx. 23, there speaks of the Apostle as an athlete, the peculiar applicability of which term is not obvious, but receives its explanation from Acts which are known to have been derived from those of Leucius, where John is said to have come out of the oil, * not burned, but anointed like an athlete. Hence it is concluded that Jerome, who is other wise known to have used the Leucian Acts, found in them this story; and then arises the question whether these Acts may not have been early enough for Tertullian to have used them too. On the other hand, it must be mentioned that Origen, when commenting on our Lord's words to the sons of Zebedee, and reconciling them with the fact that John did not suffer martyrdom, makes no mention of the story of the baptism in oil. A later story makes John miraculously drink a cup of poison with impunity.31

On the whole, we have clear evidence that Acts or traditions about John were in circulation before the time of Clement and Tertullian. When we combine the docetic character of the traditions which reached Clement with the fact that the Acts of Thecla, a work known to Tertullian, had clearly an Encratite stamp, it seems to me highly probable that these second century Acts of John had the same character, and that they were either those afterwards known under the name of Leucius, or, at least, that they contained the materials on which the Leucian writer worked.32

It would be wearisome if I were to discuss all the legends about John. It will be enough if I mention that Leucius concludes by relating the Apostle's painless death. He gives what purports to be John's sermon and Eucharistic prayer on the last Sunday of his life. Then, after breaking of bread there is no mention of wine he commands Byrrhus (the name occurs in the Ignatian epistles as that of an Ephesian deacon) to follow him with two companions, bringing spades with them. They go to a friend's burying-place outside the city, and there dig a grave, in which the Apostle lays himself down, and with joyful prayer blesses his disciples, and resigns his soul to God.33 Later versions improve the miraculous character of the story: in particular that of which Augus tine makes mention (In Johann. xxi., Tractat. 124); that the Apostle lay in the grave not dead but sleeping, as might be seen by the motions of the dust over his grave, which played as if stirred by the Apostle's breathing.34 Zahn has conjectured that the story of two tombs of John at Ephesus may have arisen from the traditional veneration paid to two spots sacred to the memory of John: one the place within the city where he had been wont to preach; the other the place outside the city where he was buried.

But I must not conclude this account of legends of the Apostolic age without saying something about one of them, which, though one of the latest in birth, has been the most fortunate in its reception I mean the story of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin. It is, as you know, received as true in the Roman Catholic section of the Church. Some indeed have held (see Tillemont, i. 476) that the word means no more than the name Κοίμησις, under which the same feast is kept in the Greek Church; and the prayers appointed for the feast in the Roman Church make no distinct mention of a corporal assumption. But this is certainly in that Church a matter almost universally believed. And before the meeting of the Vatican Council, those entitled to speak with authority declared that at that Council the wish of Pius IX. would be carried out, and the fact of the Assumption erected into an article of faith, to deny which would forfeit salvation. The dispersion of the Council disappointed these anticipations, at least for the time. It were much to be desired that the story, if true, should receive some such infallible attestation, because on the ordinary grounds of historical evidence its pretensions are of the slenderest. Not that it had not wide extent of circulation, for it is handed down in Greek, Latin, Syriac,35 Arabic, Ethiopic, and Sahidic. But none of the existing forms is earlier than the end of the fourth, or beginning of the fifth century; and the absence of any early authoritative version of the story is evidenced by the great variety with which it is told, which is such as to embarrass me a little in what form I shall present it to you. According to the oldest authorities, the time is the second year after the Ascension, though later authorities give the Virgin a score more years of life. The Virgin prays the Lord for her release, and for the protection of her body and soul from earthly and spiritual enemies. Then the angel Gabriel is sent to her to announce her departure in three days, and gives her a palm-branch as a token. At her request the Apostles are all brought to Bethlehem to witness her departure, each being miraculously wafted on clouds from the quarter of the world whither he had gone John from Ephesus, Peter from Rome, Thomas from India, &c. Three or four of the Apostles who had already died are raised to life and brought like the rest; the angel who summons them warning them that they are not to suppose the general resurrection has yet come, as they are only brought to life in order to take part in the obsequies of the Virgin. By the fifth century the belief was entertained in Ephesus that the mother of our Lord had accompanied St. John to Ephesus; but the earlier story makes her die at Jerusalem. For the Jews having made an attack on the house at Bethlehem, which had become notorious by the multitude of the miracles wrought there, the Apostles smite the assail ants with blindness, and transport the couch to Jerusalem. Then on the third day the Lord descends from heaven with His angels, and takes to Himself the Virgin's soul. But the Jews are resolved to burn her body with fire; and this they would do, but that they are smitten with blindness; and so wander fruitlessly, while the Apostles bear her body to the Valley of Jehoshaphat, to bury her in a new tomb prepared by Joseph of Arimathea. Peter on the right hand bears the bier; but the honour of carrying the palm-branch before her is yielded to the virgin John. One of the chiefs of the Jews having laid hold of the bier, an angel with a fiery sword cuts off his hands; but, on his repentance and conversion, the hands are, by the Apostles intercession, joined on to his body again. Then, according to one account, the angels are heard for two days singing at the tomb; but on the third day the songs cease, and so the Apostles know that the body has been transferred to Paradise. According to another account, Thomas had not been with the Apostles when they took leave of the Virgin; but he sees her body being taken up to heaven, and at his prayer she drops him her girdle as a token. When he afterwards joins the other Apostles, and declares that she is not in the tomb, they suppose that it is only his habitual incredulity which makes him doubt their word that they had placed her there; but he shows the girdle, and on opening the tomb they find the body is not there.

The Greek version of this story, published by Tischendorf, in which the story purports to be told by the Apostle John, has all the marks of lateness, and is clearly not earlier than the fifth century. The Latin version bears a somewhat earlier aspect. Melito of Sardis, who, with some little disregard of chronology, is made a disciple of the Apostle John, is the narrator; and a preface states that his object is to give an authentic account of what Leucius had related with heretical additions. This suggests that the existing versions may possibly be an orthodox recasting of an earlier Gnostic story; and Lipsius holds that this is the case, but as it seems to me on no sufficient grounds, for I can find no evidence that the story had currency, even in heretical circles, so early as the third century.

I have detained you a long time in the region of the fabulous, but the time is not altogether wasted that is spent on a study which gives one a keener sense of the difference between the legendary and the historical; and I never feel so strongly that the book of the Acts of the Apostles is a record of real history, as when I take it up after having laid down the not very cunningly devised fables in which men have exhibited the sort of Apostolic Acts pure invention would furnish us with.  



1) Until comparatively lately the most important collection of such writings was that by Fabricius (Codex Apocryph us, N.T., Hamburg, 1719). In 1832 a new Codex Apocryphus was commenced by Thilo, but he did not publish more than the first volume containing Apocryphal Gospels. A collection of Apocryphal Acts was published by Tischendorf in 1851, followed by Apocryphal Gospels in 1853, 2nd edit. 1876, and by a volume containing Apocryphal Revelations and some supplements to his volume of Acts in 1866. Syriac Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles have been made accessible by Professor Wm. Wright (London, 1871). A very important addition to our sources of information will be made in Max Bonnett's Supplementum Codicis Apocryphi, of which the first part containing the Acts of St. Thomas appeared in 1883. A complete account of all that is known on the subject will be found in Lipsius's Die apokryphen Apostelgeschichten und Apostellegenden, 1883, a work in two large volumes.

Lipsius, Rd. A., born 1830, Professor of Theology at Jena. Though differing in opinion from him on many important points, I cannot forbear to acknowledge the obligations students owe to his ability, learning, and industry.

2) The preface of the pseudo-Melito to his Passion of St. John, in words reproduced in a forged letter of Jerome to Chromatius and Heliodorus, exemplifies the opinion of an orthodox reviser concerning the work of his heretical predecessor: Quaedam de virtutibus quidem [et miraculis], quse per eos Dominus fecit, vera dixit; de doctrina vero multa mentitus est. Thus, by a curious reversal of modern canons of belief, the rule is, Believe all the miraculous part of the story, and disbelieve the rest.

3) This recognizes the story of the harrowing of hell, told in the Gospel of Nicodemus (see p. 201).

4) Die edessenische Abgarsage, 1880.

5) Bishop Reeves tells me that no inference, as to the currency of the Thaddseus legend in Ireland, can be drawn from the common use of the name Thady: this being but the representative of a Celtic name, signifying poet, and also known in the form Teigue.

6) Ambrose de Virginibus II.; August. Contra Faust, xxx. 4; Greg. Nyss. Horn. 14 in Cantic. Canticor.; Greg. Naz. Orat. xxiv. in Laud.'s. Cypr. 10, Prcecept. ad Virgg. v. 190; Epiphan. Haer. Ixxviii. 16; Chrys. in Act., Horn. 25.

7) On this description have been founded the representations of Paul's appearance given by several later writers. The following is Kenan's ver sion: II etait laid, de courte taille, epais et voute. Ses fortes epaules portaient bizarrement une tete petite et chauve. Sa face bleme etait comme envahie par une barbe epaisse, un nez aquilin, des yeux pendants des sourcils noirs qui se rejoignaient sur le front. Les Apotres, p. 170.

8) Die Konigsnamen in den apokryphen Apostelgeschichten (Rhein. Museum, 1864, xix. 1 78). She was the divorced wife of Polemo II., king of Bosporus; and Gutschmid ingeniously gives reasons for thinking that she was a descendant of the celebrated Cleopatra and Mark Antony, so that she and the Emperor Claudius had a common ancestor.

9) Photius, Patriarch of Constantinople, A.D. 858, had previously been sent by the Emperor on an embassy to Bagdad. For the information of his brother Tarasius, with whom he had been in the habit of reading, he made abstracts of the contents of the books he read during his absence, criticizing their style and doctrine, and sometimes giving extracts from them. Thus was formed his Bibliotheca, containing an account of no fewer than 280 different works, a book which fills us with admiration of the ability and learning of this indefatigable student, and to which we owe our knowledge of several works now no longer extant.

10) The stichometry of Nicephorus (see p. 178) contains a record of the number of στίχοι in the travels of Peter, John, and Thomas, respectively, viz. 2750, 2600, 1700.

11) I think Lipsius is right in supposing that this story was suggested by the casting of lots (Acts i. 23).

12) The Clementine Recognitions say seven (i. 43, ix. 29).

13) Von Gutschmid finds that this is the name of a real person, and hence concludes that the story must be more ancient than the Manicheans, who would not have been likely to know this name.

14) The story of this miracle is three times referred to by St. Augustine: Cont. Faust, xxii. 79; adv. Adimant. xvii. 2; De Serm. Dom. in monte xx..

15) Turibius, Epist. ad Idacium et Ceponium.

16) Du Cange in his Glossary gives σκάφη, with the Romaic diminutive σκαφιδόπουλο, as names for a baptismal font.

17) A couple of centuries later St. Jerome speaks of the thunder of the Christian Amen: ad similitudinem caelestis tonitrui Amen reboat (Prooem. in Galat. Lib. 2).

18) Philaster also (H<zr. 88) notes it as a characteristic of the Gnostic Acts: ut pecudes et canes et bestiae loquerentur.

19) Of these instructions the following is a specimen: οὐκ ὠθελήσει σοι ἡ κοινωνία ἡ ῥυπαρὰ ἡ πρὸς τὸν σὸν ἄνδρα γινομένη᾽ καὶ γὰρ αὕτη ἀποστερεῖ ἀρὸ τῆς κοινωνίας τῆς ἀληθινῆς The husband, therefore, is guilty of no misrepresentation when he complains, ὁ πλάνος ἐκεῖνος τοῦτο διδασκει, ἵνα μή τις γυναικὶ προσομιλήσῃ ἰδίᾳ, ὃ ἡ φύσις ἀπαιτεῖν οἶδεν, καὶ θεὸς ἐνομοθέτησεν, αὐτὸς ἁνατρέπει.

20) Otto's Apologists, Fragments vi., xiii., &c.

21) A limit to the antiquity of these Acts is placed by the fact that the martyrdom of Thomas was unknown to the Valentinian Heracleon, whose date may be roughly placed at 170. Heracleon, quoted by Clem. Alex. (Strom, iv. 9), arguing against the notion that the only way of confessing Christ was confession before a magistrate, names Matthew, Philip, and Thomas, as never having had occasion to make this kind of confession.

22) Rufinus tells (H. E. ii. 5), that Edessa claimed to possess the body of St. Thomas.

23) This book of the preaching of Peter is of very early date. It is several times quoted by Clement, and was also used by Heracleon(Origeniny in Forn. xiii. 17). The work was not Ebionite, for it condemned equally both false methods of worshipping God: κατὰ τοὺς Ἕλληνας and κατὰ τοὺς Ἰουδαίους (Clem. Alex, ubi supra}. It is now generally acknowledged (see Grabe, SpiciL I. 66, Fabricius, Cod., Ap. N. T. vol. i. 800) that the book contained discourses of Paul, as well as of Peter, and that it is the same work as that called by pseudo-Cyprian (De Rebaptismate, 17) the Preaching of Paul, a book which represented the two Apostles as joined together on friendly terms at Rome. Lactantius says (Inst. Div. iv. 21), quse Petrus et Paulus Romas praedicaverunt; et ea prsedicatio in memoriam scripta permansit. It seems to me likely that this work was known to Justin Martyr, who twice (Apol. I. 20, 44) quotes the prophecies of the Sibyl and of Hystaspes as to the destruction of the world by fire. Now, Hystaspes and the Sibyl were thus coupled in a discourse ascribed to Paul cited by Clement (Strom, vi. 5) in connexion with the Preaching of Peter, and by Lactantius (Inst. Div. vil. 15, 18).

24) Hilgenfeld has lately written his recantation of this theory {Ketzergc- schichte, p. 164), and now owns the historical character of Simon.

25) The Doctrine of Addai' I count to be later than the Clementine Recognitions, and to be indebted to them for some particulars. For in stance, it represents Christ as lodging in the house of Gamaliel, and (p. 16) the Apostles as bound to send to James periodically accounts of their mission

26) In my article SIMON MAGUS, in the Dictionary of Christian Biography, I give my reasons for thinking that there really was a Samaritan heretical teacher of the not uncommon name of Simon, but that Justin was mistaken in identifying him with the Simon of the Acts, and, under this mistake, imagining him to be the founder of Gnosticism.

27) Prudentius, Peristeph. 12.

28) See Mommsen's memoir on the Chronographer of the year 354, Abhandlungen der Konigl. Sachs. Gesellschaft, i. 585.

29) I am indebted for this account of what took place in 258 to Duchesne (Liber Pontificalis, p. civ.). In comparatively modern times a theory was put forward that Peter's martyrdom took place, not on the Vatican, but on the slope of the Janiculum, and in the year 1500 a church (S. Pietro in Montorio) was built to consecrate this supposed site. But Aringhi (Roma Sotteranea, II. 5) has given what appear to be conclusive reasons for holding fast to the old tradition, that the martyrdom took place not far from the place on the Vatican where from early times it was believed Peter's body was laid. Tradition preserved the fact that the Apostles bodies were removed from the original place of deposition to the Catacombs; but the true explanation of the removal being lost, legend busied itself in inventing another. Pope Gregory the Great (Ep. iv. 30) tells a story more obscurely told in verses of Pope Damasus (De Rossi, Inscr. Christ., ii. 32; see also Acta Pet. et Paulz, ap. Tischendorf, Acta Apoc. p. 38), that certain Greeks attempted to steal the bodies, but were compelled by a miraculous thunderstorm and earthquake to drop them near the place where they were temporarily deposited in the Catacombs. How long they re mained there is uncertain, but it is probable that it was on Constantine's accession they were restored to their ancient resting-places.

30) Some additions were made to the previously edited remains of these Acts, in Acta Johannis, published by Zahn, 1880.

31) This miracle is very rare in ancient hagiology. The only other case I remember is that Papias tells that Justus Barsabas drank poison, and, through the Lord's grace, received no hurt (see p. 318). I cannot but think that Papias told the story in illustration of Mark xvi. 18.

32) Zahn dates the Leucian Acts of John as early as 130; Lipsius places them about 160; I am myself inclined to date them 10 or 20 years later.

33) This story is accepted as true by Epiphanius (Haer. lxxix. 5).

34) The form in which the Gnostic stories about John were circulated among the orthodox is illustrated by a very ancient prologue to St. John's Gospel, found, with slight variations, in many MSS., in particular the Codex Aureus and the Codex Amiatinus. It runs as follows: Johannes Evangelista unus ex discipulis domini, qui virgo electus a domino est, quern de nuptiis volentem nubere revocavit dominus, cujus virginitatis in hoc duplex testimonium in Evangelic datur, quod et prse ceteris dilectus domini dicitur, et huic matrem suam de cruce commendavit ut virginem virgo servaret. Denique manifestans in evangelic quod erat ipse incorruptibilis, [incorruptibilis] verbi opus inchoans solus, verbum carnem factum esse, nee lumen a tenebris fuisse comprehensum testatur, primus signum ponens quod in nuptiis fecit dominus, ut ostendens quod erat ipse legentibus demonstaret, quod ubi dominus invitatur, deficere nuptiarum vinum debeat, ut veteribus immutatis nova omnia qua? a Christo instituuntur appareant. Hie evangelium scripsit in Asia postea quam in Pathmos insula apocalypsin scripserat, ut cui in principio canonis incorruptibile principium in genesi et incorruptibilis finis per virginem in apocalypsi redderetur, dicente Christo, ego sum Α et Ω. Et hie est Johannes, qui sciens supervenisse diem recessus sui convo- catis discipulis suis in Epheso per multa signorum experimenta promens Christum, descendensin defossum sepulturae suae locum facta oratione positus est ad patres suos, tarn extraneus a dolore mortis quam a corruptione carnis invenitur alienus. Tamen post omnes evangelium scripsit et hoc virgini debebatur. Quorum tamen vel scripturarum tempore dispositio vel librorum ordinatio ideo per singula a nobis non exponitur, ut sciendi desiderio collocato et quserentibus fructus laboris et domino magisterii doctrina servetur.

35) The Greek and Latin versions are included in Tischendorf's Apocalypses apocrypha; and Syriac versions have been published by Wright, Contributions to the Apocryphal Literature, N. T., and Journal of Sacred Literature, 1865.