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Daniel, xi. 3, 6: ‘And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god till the indignation be accomplished.'
During the period which followed the accession of the Flavian dynasty to the Imperial throne the Church in Rome seems to have lived in comparative repose. For more than a quarter of a century after the martyrdom of St. Paul there is no record of any violent persecution of the Christians. But there is no reason to believe that the ban under which those professing the Christian faith lay since the Neronian persecution of 65 A.D. was in any way lightened or removed. The Christians were then condemned for crimes which were summed up by Tacitus as constituting ‘hatred of the human race,' in other words they were condemned as enemies of the Roman state and people. The mere confession of the Christian name henceforth in itself entailed punishment. The principle of action, which Tertullian calls the Neronian Institution, continued to be the settled policy of the Roman government. This did not mean that the Christian so long as he lived quietly and did nothing to bring himself under the notice of the police was sought out and dragged before the magistrate. But it did mean that he was an outlaw, liable as such at any moment to be dealt with summarily by the authorities, as a mere matter of police administration. No regular judicial trial was needed, the inquiry (cognitio) was confined to the establishment of the charge of being a Christian, and once established by the confession of the accused the death penalty followed.
The policy of the Flavian emperors, Vespasian, Titus, 207and—during the first part of his reign—Domitian, was on the whole both towards Jews and Christians one of singular moderation. After the merciless suppression of the terrible revolt in Judaea and the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple, the position of the Jews in the empire was however no longer the same. As a political entity, a nation in any sense of the word, they had ceased to exist, they were but a number of separate communities scattered throughout the Roman world. But Vespasian granted to them a continuation of the religious privileges they had hitherto enjoyed on condition that all Jews were registered and paid to Roman officials as a tax for the maintenance of the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus the didrachma that they had previously contributed for the support of the Temple at Jerusalem.443443Josephus, Bell. Iud. vii. 6. 6; Dion Cassius, lxvi. 7. This conciliatory attitude of Vespasian and Titus to the Jewish Diaspora was due in part to the fact that the non-Palestinian Jews had taken no share in the revolt and that they were financially useful, in part to the influence of Agrippa II and his sister, who lived at Rome on terms of close intimacy with the Imperial family. Vespasian had also special cause to be grateful to the Jew, Tiberius Alexander, who was the first to proclaim him emperor at Alexandria and who secured the allegiance to him of the legions in Egypt, 1 July 69. See Tac. Hist. ii. 79. But the very fact of this registration for fiscal purposes served to accentuate the distinction between Jew and Christian the more clearly. The Christian Church could no longer find shelter under the shadow of the privileges of the synagogues.
That Titus was himself well aware of the difference, and that he was personally hostile to Christianity, is shown by an interesting passage in the fourth-century historian, Sulpicius Severus, which in the opinion of scholars is generally regarded as an extract from one of the lost books of Tacitus. It tells of a council held by Titus at the time of the final storming of Jerusalem to decide whether the Temple should be destroyed or not. Titus himself, it is reported, with some of his officers held that it was necessary, ‘so as to abolish more completely the religion both of Jews and Christians, since these religions, although opposed to 208each other, both sprang from the same origin; the Christians had issued from the Jews; if the root were taken away, the stem would quickly perish.'444444Sulp. Severus, Chron. ii. 30. 6: ‘Fertur Titus adhibito consilio prius deliberasse . . . at contra alii et Titus ipse evertendum templum in primis censebant quo plenius Iudaeorum et Christianorum religio tolleretur; quippe has religiones, licet contrarias sibi, iisdem auctoribus profectas: Christianos ex Iudaeis extitisse: radice sublata, stirpem facile perituram.' With the destruction of the Temple and the crushing out of the revolt, however, the situation was changed, moderate and statesmanlike views prevailed, the Jews secured religious toleration and lenient treatment, and no systematic persecution was directed against the Christians so long as Titus lived or for some years after his untimely death.
There is no contemporary Christian writing which throws any light upon the state
of the Church during this time, unless it be ‘The Shepherd' of Hermas. This remarkable
work bears every mark from internal evidence of being a product of the Flavian age.
We have already seen in the last lecture that the author speaks of a certain Clement,
who, if not the well-known writer of the ‘Epistle to the Corinthians,' which is
the general opinion, must be a fictitious personage. Were it not for certain statements
in the documents known as the ‘Muratorian Fragment on the Canon' and the ‘Liberian
Catalogue' probably few would have given to ‘The Shepherd' a later date than the
beginning of the second century. The reference to Hermas and his book by the Muratorian
writer runs thus:445445
. . . ' pastorem uero
nuperrim e temporibus nostris in urbe
roma herma conscripsit sedente cathe
tra urbis romae aeclesiae pio eps fratre
eius et ideo legi eum quidē oportet se pu
plicare vero in eclesia populo neque jnter
apostolos in fine temporum potest.' Zahn, Gesch. N.T. Kanons, p. 8; both Zahn and Lightfoot render nuperrime by νεωστί. ‘. . . very lately in our times Hermas wrote “The Shepherd” in the city of Rome while his brother Pius, the bishop, was sitting in the chair of the Church of the city of Rome, and therefore it ought to be read; but it 209cannot, to the end of time, be placed either among the prophets who are complete in number, nor among the Apostles for public lection to the people in church.' Zahn in his ‘Geschichte des Neutestamentlichen Kanons' makes this comment: ‘Careful and impartial reading of “The Shepherd” would have shown the Fragmentist that the same must have been written a considerable time before the episcopate of Pius. He who holds the book, despite the name of Clement (Vis. ii. 4) and many other signs, as a work dating from about 145, must hold it to be a pseud-epigraphic fiction, which the Fragmentist throughout does not.'446446‘Denn aufmerksame and unparteiische Lesung des Hirten würde dem Frg. gezeigt haben dass derselbe geraume Zeit vor dem Episkopat des Pius geschrieben sein will. Wer das Buch trotz des Namens Clemens (Vis. ii. 4) and vieler anderer Anzeichen für ein Werk aus der Zeit vom 145 hielt, musste es für eine pseudepigraphische Fiction halten, was der Frg. durchaus nicht thut.'—Zahn, Gesch. N.T. Kanons, ii. 113. The statement in the Muratorian extract quoted above is in fact, from whatever point of view it be regarded, a blunder of the writer who is called by Zahn ‘the Fragmentist.' The dilemma is one from which there seems to be no possibility of escape.
Dr. Lightfoot has very convincingly shown that this Muratorian document contains a literal translation into Latin (somewhat corrupted in transmission) of a Greek metrical original, and also that there are strong reasons for assigning the authorship to Hippolytus. The literary activity of this famous Roman writer during the closing years of the second and the first quarter of the third century was very great. The ‘Muratorian Canon' may probably be dated from 185 to 200 A.D.447447Lightfoot, Apost. Fathers, part i. vol. ii. pp. 405–13. The ‘Liberian Catalogue,' it is generally agreed, was largely dependent on a later work of Hippolytus, the ‘Chronology.' Now in the ‘Liberian Catalogue' to the notice of Pope Pius I the following statement is appended: ‘under his pontificate his brother Hermes wrote a book in which is contained the Mandate which an angel gave to him, when he came to him in the garb 210of a shepherd.'448448‘Sub huius episcopatu frater eius Ermes librum scripsit, in quo mandatum continetur, quod ei praecepit angelus, cum venit ad illum in habitu pastoris.' Lightfoot, Apost. Fathers, part i. vol. i. p. 254. Lelong, Le Pasteur d'Hermas, p. xxvi. Duchesne, Lib. Pont. vol. i. p. 4. Harnack, Chronologie, pp. 175 and 258–9. The two passages, Muratorian and Liberian, are derived in fact from a common source, most probably Hippolytean. But an examination of the character of this source may well make one distrustful of its strict accuracy as regards names and dates. The ‘Liberian Catalogue' contains a number of strange errors. The deaths of St. Peter and St. Paul are stated to have taken place in 55 A.D. Clement succeeds Linus in 67 A.D., and Anencletus, the real successor of Linus, is duplicated and follows Clement, first at Cletus, then as Anacletus. Clement's death is recorded as having occurred sixteen years before he became bishop according to the generally received date.449449In 76 A.D. instead of 92 A.D. Nor were the errors confined to the first-century episcopates. The Hippolytean source is not even accurate about Pope Pius himself, who in the words of the ‘Muratorian Fragment' lived ‘very recently in our own times.' Hegesippus and Irenaeus, both of whom stayed some time in Rome soon after the death of Pius, both give the order of succession as Pius, Anicetus, Soter, Eleutherus.450450Hegesippus visited Rome when Anicetus was bishop and was acquainted with Soter and Eleutherus. Eus. Hist. Eccl. iv. 22. Irenaeus also spent some time in Rome, probably in the episcopate of Soter 169–175. In his work on Heresies he gives the order of succession of the Roman bishops: ‘ . . . then Pius, then Anicetus, then Soter; lastly the twelfth in order from the Apostles, Eleutherus, who now holds the office of bishop.' Eus. Hist. Eccl. v. 6; Iren. Haer. iii. 3. The ‘Liberian Catalogue' makes Pius the successor of Anicetus instead of the predecessor. The conclusion then that we are compelled to draw is that this particular piece of external evidence for the date of ‘The Shepherd' cannot be accepted as authoritative in face of the internal evidence of the book itself. Probability points to its having arisen through a confusion between the name of the author and the title of his work. Bishop Pius according to a very ancient tradition had a 211brother named Pastor, who was a presbyter.451451The Acts of Pastor and Timothy, though apocryphal, are of great antiquity. The ecclesia Pudentiana, the foundation of which in the Baths of Novatus by Pope Pius I is recorded in these Acts, still exists as the Church of St. Pudentiana—see note in Lib. Pontificalis under biographical notice of Pius. ‘Hic ex rogatu beatae Praxedis dedicavit ecclesiam thermas Novati, in vico Patricii, in honore sororis suae sanctae Potentianae, ubi et multa dona obtulit; ubi saepius sacrificium domino offerens ministrabat. Immo et fontem baptismi construi fecit.' According to tradition Pius erected this Church into a titulus, and appointed as its presbyter his brother Pastor. The provision of a baptismal font probably means that this church became at this time the Metropolitan Church of Rome. Inscriptions have been found in which this church is styled ‘titulus Pudentis.' In the excavations now being carried out for the building of the new Ministry of the Interior it is hoped that discoveries may be made throwing further light on these traditions. Galland, Bibl. Patrum, i. 672; De Rossi, Bullettino, 1867, pp. 49–58; Marucchi, Elém. d'Arch. Chrét. ii. pp. 381–3, iii. pp. 364–373; Hefele (Patrum Apost. Op. xcv) quotes from Galland ‘Presbyter Pastor titulum condidit et digne in Domino obiit.' See Appendix, Note C, The Legend of Pudens. Now in the Latin version known as ‘Vulgate,' which probably dates from the end of the second century, the title of Hermas' book is ‘Liber Pastoris.'452452Lelong, Le Pasteur d'Hermas (1912), Intr. cv: ‘La Version Vulgate (L') remontant peut-être a la fin du IIe siècle, en tout cas très ancienne . . . nous est parvenue dans de nombreux manuscrits.' This version was thus contemporary with the ‘Muratorian Fragment.' It required but a single step therefore to identify the presbyter Pastor with the author of the allegory. The ‘Liber Pontificalis,' while embodying the biographical notice of Pius I which is found in the ‘Liberian Catalogue,' prefaces it by another paragraph in which this Pope is spoken of as ‘The brother of Pastor.' There is no attempt to fuse this statement with that concerning Hermas—they are separated from one another by intervening matter. Indeed in the two earliest forms of the ‘Liber Pontificalis' that we possess, the so-called ‘Felician' and ‘Cononian' abridgements, the compiler of the ‘Cononian,' evidently perceiving the incongruity of the double reference to a brother, deliberately refuses to apply the term to Hermas, the words ‘frater ipsius' being omitted.453453Duchesne, Lib. Pont. p. 58. The passage stands thus in the Felician Abridgement: ‘Pius, natione Italus ex patre Rufino, frater Pastoris, de civitate Aquileia, sedit ann. xviii, mens. iiii, dies iii. Fuit temporibus Antonii Pii a consulatu Clari et Severi. Sub huius episcopatu frater ipsius Hermis librum scripsit in quo mandatum continetur quod praecepit angelus Domini cum venit ad eum in habitu pastoris et praecepit ei ut sanctum Paschae die dominica celebraretur.' The Cononian Abridgement omits frater ipsius. Pius is the first of the Roman bishops after Clement to bear a Latin name. If he were, as stated above, an Italian by birth, it is in the last degree unlikely that he was the brother of a slave who had the Greek name Hermas, and who seems to hint that he was of foreign origin. There is no reference to the Easter controversy in The Shepherd.212
The earliest patristic references to ‘The Shepherd' point to its having been written considerably before the pontificate of Pius I (140–155 A.D.). Irenaeus, whose sojourn in Rome took place less than twenty years after the death of Pius, quotes the opening sentence of the ‘First Mandate' as Scripture—‘Well then spake the Scripture, which saith.'454454Irenaeus, Haer. iv. 20. 2: καλῶς οὖν εἶπεν ἡ γραφὴ ἡ λέγουσα· Πρῶτον πάντων π ίστευσον . . . from Hermas, Mand. i. 1. Before a document could be thus—plainly, simply, and without periphrasis—accepted as Scripture, it must needs have been of some considerable antiquity, and indeed it may be regarded as evidence that Irenaeus looked upon Hermas as an ‘Apostolical man,' the Hermas in fact mentioned by St. Paul in his Epistle to the Romans.
Clement of Alexandria in Egypt and Tertullian in Western Africa, in writings which date about twenty years later than that of Irenaeus just quoted, and almost contemporary with the first publication of the ‘Muratorian Canon,' both speak of ‘The Shepherd' as ‘Scripture.' Of Clement Dr. Salmon says455455Article on ‘Hermas' in Smith and Wace's Dictionary of Christian Biography. Hilgenfeld in the prolegomena to his edition of Hermae Pastor 1881, p. v), after giving a list of the passages in which Clement of A. quotes The Shepherd, concludes: ‘. . . Clemens Alex. igitur integro Pastore usus de divinis eius revelationibus ne dubitavit quidem neque Hermam apostolorum temporibus posteriorem existimasse potest.' : ‘The mutilated commencement of the “Stromateis' opens in the middle of a quotation from “The Shepherd” and about ten times elsewhere he cites the book, always with a complete acceptance of the reality and divine character of the revelations made to Hermas.' 213Tertullian456456Tertullian, De Oratione, xii.: ‘Quod assignata oratione assidendi mos est quibusdam, non perspicio rationem, nisi quod pueri volunt. Quid enim, si Hermas ille cuius scriptura fere Pastor inscribitur, transacta oratione non super lectum assedisset, verum aliud quid fecisset, id quoque ad observationem vindicaremus?' The actual words of the Latin version of the Pastor referred to occur at the beginning of the Fifth Vision: ‘quum orassem domi, et consedissem supra lectum, intravit et quidam reverenda facie etc.' See Hefele, Patr. Apost. Op. p. 345. Hilgenfeld's comment is ‘non vero ”scripturae” auctoritatem ipsam sed solum argumentum inde haustum [Tertullianus] impugnavit.' Proleg. iii. That Tertullian used the Latin version of Hermas—i.e. the Vulgate version, and that this Liber Pastoris was read publicly in the Churches of Provincial Africa at the opening of the third century, is the opinion of Harnack. Introd. to edition of Hermas' Pastor by Gebhardt and Harnack, p. xlviii. before he became a Montanist in his treatise ‘De Oratione' rebukes the custom of sitting down for prayer, the origin of which he attributes to the opening words of the fifth Vision of ‘The Shepherd.' This assigns to ‘The Shepherd' an authority which could only belong to a book long received as the work of an inspired man. Origen457457Origen, Comm. on Rom. xvi. 14: ‘quae scriptura valde mihi utilis videtur et ut puto divinitus inspirata.' Hefele, Proleg. xciii. Again in his Comm. on Hosea Origen refers to the building of the tower in Hermas, Vis. iii. ii. 16, 17 in a passage beginning with καὶ ἐν τῷ Ποιμένι and ending with σημαίνει ἡ γραφή. See Hilgenfeld, p. 15. This expresses his attitude to The Shepherd throughout his works. somewhat later in the third century gives as his opinion (based no doubt on tradition) that the Hermas mentioned in the Epistle to the Romans was the writer of ‘The Shepherd' and adds ‘this scripture seems to me very useful and as I think divinely inspired.' Such testimonies—and there are none of like date (save the ‘Muratorian Fragment') of an adverse character—if not conclusive, point unmistakeably to the work of Hermas having already about it the hallowing consecration of age and the reverence due to a sub-apostolic writing.
The contents of this strange book are divided into two parts. The first part contains a series of five Visions. In the last of these Visions a noble-looking man in the garb of a Shepherd, and who is named the Angel of Repentance, appears to Hermas, and bids him write down a series of Precepts or Mandates, and of Parables or Similitudes, 214which he had come to deliver to him. The second part of the work contains the twelve Mandates and the ten Similitudes, which he received from the mouth of the Shepherd. It is not my intention to discuss the question whether the autobiographical details in this book belong to the real life-story of a genuine Hermas, nor again the question whether the two parts of the work are from the hand of the same author. There are few in the present day who have doubts on either of these questions, and I shall assume the unity of authorship of a man, who while conveying instruction and warning, moral and doctrinal, under allegorical forms is dealing all the time seriously with the religious experiences and spiritual failings and trials of his own personal life and of the contemporary life of the Christian Church in Rome.458458The question of the unity of the work has been set at rest by Link, Die Einheit des Pastor Hermas, 1888, and Baumgaertner, Die Einheit des Hermas Buchs, 1889. But these assumptions being granted, it will at once be seen that the use that can be made of ‘The Shepherd' as an illuminating historical document depends almost entirely upon its date.
It has already been suggested that the Muratorian Fragmentist blundered in his assertion that the work of Hermas was written during the episcopate of his brother Pope Pius I, because he confused the author of ‘The Pastor' with a well-known brother of the bishop, who actually bore that name. Now the very first line of Hermas' book compresses into the briefest compass the life-story of the writer's youth. ‘He who brought-me-up sold me into Rome to a certain Rhoda.'459459ὁ θρέψας με πέπρακέν με Ῥόδῃ τινὶ εἰς Ῥώμην. Vis. i. 1. θρεττός = Lat. verna, a slave born and brought up in a house. Hilgenfeld quotes Pliny, ep. ad Traian. 66: ‘quos vocavit θρεπτούς qui liberi nati expositi, deinde sublati a quibusdam et in servitute educati sunt.' The preposition is here seems to be used as meaning that Hermas was brought to Rome from elsewhere to be sold. This implies that Hermas had either been born a slave in the house of the vendor, who did not live at Rome, or what is from the form of the expression—ὁ θρέψας—quite probable, that he had been a castaway 215child whom the above-mentioned master had taken care of and brought up as a slave. In the last case his parentage would be unknown and he would have no brother. If, however, he were born a slave, three things must be postulated before the Muratorian statement can be accepted: (1) that in this slave household relationships were recognised; (2) that both Hermas and his brother must have been sold in Rome and afterwards became freedmen; (3) that the brother laid aside his original Greek slave name for that of Pius. Negative evidence is never conclusive, but it is certainly very strange that, if Hermas wrote his book during his brother's episcopate, there should not be a single reference to that brother's existence in a work in which the author several times speaks of his family and, as has been said, repeatedly deals with the condition, organisation, and affairs of the Church.
The allusion to Clement as a living man, entrusted with the task of communicating with foreign cities, seems to fix the date at which the Visions were written, as being previous to the accession of the said Clement to the episcopate, i.e. before 92 A.D. How hopeless is the attempt to combine a belief in the historicity of this personal reference to Clement, as a contemporary occupying an important position in the Roman Church, with an acceptance even in a modified form of the statement of the Muratorian Fragmentist is exemplified by Harnack in his ‘Chronologie der Altchristlichen Literatur.'460460Harnack, Chronologie, pp. 262–7. Harnack will not admit for a moment that the paragraph about Clement and Grapte is ‘fiction,'461461Harnack, Chronologie, p. 265: ‘Dass diese Worte [the passage about Clement and Grapte] eine “Fiction” seien, ist eine Annahme, die sich nicht begründen and die sich nicht halten lässt, wenn man sie durchdenkt.' so he meets the difficulty first by extending the life of Clement to 110 A.D., then by imagining the ‘Shepherd' to have been written in instalments during a period of some thirty-five years, the original ‘little book' consisting of a portion of Vision II only. But while admitting that the work of Hermas shows evident traces of 216gradual growth to completion, it seems to me quite clear that no great interval of time can have separated the first portion written from the last. From beginning to end the same conditions obtain throughout both as regards Hermas personally and as regards the internal condition and the trials of the Church. In that very Vision II which Harnack regards as the oldest part of the book, ‘a great tribulation' is announced as coming, and in Vision IV the announcement is repeated; but although past persecutions are described in the earliest ‘Visions' and latest ‘Similitudes,'462462Compare Vis. ii. 2. 7 and iii. 2. 1, with Sim. viii. 3. 6, 7, and ix. 28. they differ in no way in character, and there is nowhere any allusion to the ‘great tribulation' as having come. Again in the ‘Visions'463463Vis. i. 3, ii. 2. 2-5, 3.1; iii. 6. 7, with Sim. vii. τῶν οὖν μετανοούντων εὐθὺς [εὐθέως] δοκεῖς τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἀφίεσθαι; ‘Numquid ergo,' ait, ‘protinus putas aboleri delicta eorum, qui agunt poenitentiam?' Hermas is represented as having lost his wealth and been ruined because of the wrong-doings of his family. This punishment has fallen upon him for his neglect in not admonishing his children, who are invited to penitence and are promised forgiveness, if from their heart they repent. In ‘Similitude VII' we learn that the children have repented from their heart, and Hermas complains to the Shepherd Angel that nevertheless his afflictions have not ceased. The reply is ‘Dost thou think that the sins of those who repent are straightway remitted?‘ The very essence of this rejoinder lies in the fact that the time of Hermas' affliction—i.e. the period covered by the book—had been short.
The past persecutions described by Hermas agree with all we know of the Neronian persecution and its consequences. In Vision III mention is made of those who have suffered ‘scourges, imprisonments, great afflictions, crosses, wild beasts for the Name's sake.'464464Vis. iii. 2. 1: μάστιγας, φυλακάς, θλίψεις μεγάλας, σταυρούς, θηρία.. See also Vis. ii. 2. In Sim. IV. we read of ‘sufferers for the sake of the name of the Son of God, who suffered willingly with their whole heart and gave up their lives. These when brought before the authority and 217questioned did not deny, but suffered readily'; of others as ‘fearful and hesitating, who reasoned in their hearts whether they should deny or confess before they suffered'; of others again—‘the double-minded'—who at the first rumours of persecution ‘through cowardice sacrifice to idols and are ashamed of the name of their Lord.' We find in these references a remarkable agreement with the references to the Neronian persecution in 1 Peter, Hebrews, the Apocalypse, 1 Clement and the ‘Annals' of Tacitus, both as to the punishments inflicted, and the various categories into which the accused were divided, the willing and courageous martyrs, the more timid and doubtful sufferers, and the renegades and apostates, who denied their faith.465465Sim. ix. 28, passim: ὅσοι ἐπ᾽ ἐξουσίαν ἀχθέντες ἐξητάσθησαν καὶ οὐκ ἡρνήσαντο ἀλλ᾽ ἔπαθον προθύμως . . . ὅσοι δὲ δειλοὶ καὶ ἐν δισταγμῷ ἐγένοντο καὶ ἐλογίσαντο ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις αὐτῶν, πότερον ἀρνήσονται ἢ ὁμολογήσουρι καὶ ἔπαθον . . . ὑμεῖς δέ οἱ πάσχοντες ἕνεκεν τοῦ ὀνόματος δοξάζειν ὀφείλετε τόν θεὸν . . . δοκεῖτε ἔργον μέγα πεποιηκέναι ἐάν τις ὑμῶν διὰ τὸν θεὸν πάθῃ. Sim. ix. 19. 1: ἐκ τοῦ πρώτου ὄρους τοῦ μέλανος οἱ πιστεύσαντες τοιοῦτοί εἰσιν· ἀποστάται καὶ βλάσφημοι εἰς τὸν Κύριον, καὶ πρόδοται τῶν δούλων τοῦ θεοῦ. τούτοις δὲ μετάνοια οὐκ ἔστι, θάνατος δὲ ἔστι. Sim. viii.: τινὲς δὲ αὐτῶν εἰς τέλος ἀπέστησαν· οὗτοι οὖν μετάνοιαν οὐκ ἔχουσιν· διὰ γὰρ τὰς πραγματείας αὐτῶν ἐβλασφήμησαν τὸν Κύριον καὶ ἀπηρνήσαντο. Compare 1 Pet. iii. 13-17: ἀλλ᾽ εἰ πάσχοιτε δήὰ δικαιοσύνην, μακάριοι. τὸν δὲ φόβον αὐτῶν μὴ φοβηθῆτε, μηδὲ ταραχθῆτε· . . . ἔτοιμοι δὲ ἀεὶ πρὸς ἀπολογὶαν παντὶ τῷ αἰτοῦντι ὑμᾶς, and iv. 12-19: εἰ ὀνειδίζεσθε ἐν ὀνόματι Χριστοῦ, μακάριοι. . . . εἰ δὲ ὡς Χριστιανός, μὴ αἰσχυνέσθω, δοξαζέτω δὲ τὸν Θεὸν ἐν τῷ μέρει τούτῳ. Heb. vi. 4-8: Ἀδύνατον γὰρ τοὺς ἅπαξ φωτισθέντας . . . καὶ παραπεσόντας, πάλιν ἀνακαινίζειν εἰς μετάνοιαν . . . τὸ τέλος εἰς καῦσιν. x. 32: πολλὴν ἄθλησιν ὑπεμείνατε παθημάτων . . . ὀνειδισμοῖς τε καί θλίψεσι θεατριζόμενοι· . . . τὴν ἁρπαγὴν τῶν ὑπαρχόντων ὑμῶν μετὰ χαρᾶς προσεδέξασθε. Hermas himself appears to have been among those who had lost their possessions for their faith. Vis. ii. 2 (1, 2); iii. 6 (6, 7). Rev. xii. 11: οὐκ ἠγ̤πησαν τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτῶν ἀχρὶ θανάτου. Also xiv. 9-13, xx. 4, and 1 Clement v. and vi. Tacitus, Ann. xv. 44: ‘Nero subdidit reos et quaesitissimis poenis adfecit, quos per flagitia invisos vulgus Christianos appellabat . . . igitur primum correpti qui fatebantur, deinde indicio eorum multitudo ingens. . . . It may be gathered also from various passages of ‘The Shepherd' that persecution was not confined to the one violent outburst, but that at the time when Hermas was writing those who professed the Christian faith were living if not in peril yet in continual insecurity, liable at any moment to be called upon to confess or deny their faith. Such was the state of things which 218there is good reason to believe subsisted throughout the first two decades of Flavian rule.
The constitution of the Church is a subject that has no direct interest for Hermas. The almost chance references to it in the pages of ‘The Shepherd' are however of considerable significance and value. The condition of things, we find, has altered little since Pauline days. The charismatic ministry of apostles, prophets, and teachers are working side by side with the hierarchical officials—bishops, presbyters, and deacons. In Vision III. 5, the white stones used for the building of the tower, which is the Church, are described as being ‘The apostles, bishops, teachers, and deacons, who have walked in godly gravity, and who have discharged their duties as bishops, teachers, and deacons for the good of God's elect. Some of these have fallen asleep, some still are with us.'466466Vis. iii. 5: οὗτοί εἰσιν οἱ ἀπόστολοι καὶ ἐπίσκοποι καὶ διδάσκαλοι καὶ διάκονοι οἱ πορευθέντες κατὰ τὴν σεμνότητα τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ ἐπισκοπήσαντες καὶ διδάξαντες καὶ διακονήσαντες ἁγνῶς καὶ σεμνῶς τοῖς ἐκλεκτοῖς τοῦ θεοῦ, οἱ μὲν κεκοιμημένοι, οἱ δὲ ἔτι ὄντες. Now this passage, which recalls the language of 1 Cor. xii. 28 and Eph. iv. 11, clearly implies that of the original apostles, bishops, teachers, and deacons there were some still living when Hermas wrote. It will be noticed that Hermas omits from this list ‘The prophets,' and elsewhere throughout this work, but in Similitude XI he treats at length of the difference between true and false prophets. He was himself a prophet and he is at pains to claim for himself inspiration and a position of authority. He does not classify ‘The prophets' with the apostles and teachers, because he regards the prophets apparently as possessing gifts which place them in a category apart. From a number of passages it may be seen that Hermas, as a prophet, both claimed and exercised the right of delivering charges and admonitions to the rulers of the Church, and of speaking publicly in the assemblies.467467Vis. ii. 2. 6; 4. 2-3; iii. 8. 11; 9. 7-10; Sim. ix. 31. 6.
Apostles and teachers are mentioned several times in Similitude IX. In one curious passage Hermas tells how those of these apostles and teachers ‘who had fallen asleep 219in the power and faith of the Son of God preached to those who had fallen asleep before them and themselves gave them the seal of their preaching,' i.e. baptised them.468468Sim. ix. 16. 5: οὗτοι οἱ ἀπόστολοι καὶ οἱ διδάσκαλοι οἱ κηρύξαντες τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ, κοιμηθέντες ἐν δυνάμει καὶ πίστει τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ ἐκήρυξαν καὶ τοῖς προκεκοιμημένοις καὶ αὐτοὶ ἔδωκαν αὐτοῖς τὴν σφραγίδα τοῦ κηρύγματος. In this passage the numbers of these ‘apostles and teachers' is given as forty, and in the previous paragraph (4) the words ἡ σφραγὶς τὸ ὕδωρ ἐστίν explain the meaning of ‘The Seal.' The ‘apostles' throughout The Shepherd is used in the wider sense of ‘missionaries' except in Sim. ix. 17. 1. From this it has been inferred that all the Twelve Apostles were dead when these words were written. But surely this is not so. The ‘apostles' of Hermas were the whole body of those chosen and sent out as missionaries by the Churches. Only those who had ‘fallen asleep' could follow in their Master's steps and preach to the dead. The position of the charismatic ministry in the days of Hermas seems in fact to have changed little since St. Paul wrote his First Epistle to the Corinthians.
Very important historically, however, are certain hints which may be found in ‘The Shepherd' about changes at work in the constitution of the official hierarchy. Twice Hermas refers to the hierarchy under the general title of ‘chiefs of the Church,'469469οἱ προηγούμενοι. Vis. ii. 2. 6; iii. 9, 7. Compare 1 Clem. xxi. 6. οἱ ἡγούμενοι is found 1 Clem. i. 3 and Heb. xiii. 7, 17, 24. using the same Greek term as is employed in the Epistle to the Hebrews and in 1 Clement. Only once does the word presbyters occur as the designation of this official class, when the aged woman, the Church, bids Hermas read the book she has given him—‘to this city with the presbyters that preside over the Church.' And here the word for ‘those who preside'470470Vis. ii. 4. 2: οἱ προιστάμενοι; see 1 Thess. v. 12; Rom. xii. 8; 1 Tim. v. 17. is a technical word found several times in the same sense in St. Paul's epistles. The references of Hermas therefore to the constitution of the Church are thus thoroughly primitive, and the picture drawn by him of the local organisation essentially the same as that which we find in the Pauline epistles. It is clear for 220instance that the title episcopus was not yet confined to a single individual, but was still the common designation of all presbyters who were charged with the cure of souls. Nevertheless there are signs that an evolutionary movement was already in progress, which was preparing the way for that transformation in the signification of the word ' bishop,' which we find already accomplished at the time when Ignatius wrote his epistles towards the end of the first decade of the second century. This seems to be the fair and legitimate interpretation of certain passages of ‘The Shepherd,' to which we will now turn our attention.
Sternly does the Prophet in Vision III rebuke the dissensions among those who sit in the foremost seats.471471Vis. iii. 7, 9: νῦν οὖν ἱμῖν λέγω τοῖς προηγουμένοις τῆς ἐκκλησίας κ9αὶ τοῖς πρωτοκαθεδρίταις· μὴ γίνεσθε ὅμοιοι τοῖς φαρμακοῖς . . . βλέπετε οὖν, τέκνα, μήποτε αὗται αἱ διχοστασίαι ὑμῶν ἀποστερήσουσιν τὴν ζωὴν ὑμῶν . . . Again in Similitude VIII the Shepherd-Angel speaks of certain men ‘who, though always faithful and good, were jealous one of another about the first places and a certain dignity'472472Sim. viii. 7. 4: ἔχοντες ζῆλόν τινα ἐν ἀλλήλοις περὶ πρωτείων καὶ περὶ δόξης τινός. Harnack (Gesch. d. Altchrist. Lit. 1, ‘Chronologie,' p. 175) after quoting these passages writes: ‘die zuletzt angeführten Stellen mögen darauf hinweisen, dass der monarchische Episkopat damals in Anzug war; aber von diesem selbst ist in dem Buche keine Spur zu finden.' It is curious that a critic of the calibre of Harnack should not see that the statement in the last clause does not and cannot weaken in the very least the force of the admission previously made. Hermas felt it was his duty to rebuke the rivalries and dissensions to which the growing power of the bishop gave rise, but why should he, writing for Roman Christians of his own day, and not for the enlightenment of far distant posterity, inform his contemporaries of a fact which was a matter of common knowledge? (δόξης τινός). ‘But these,' he continues, ‘are all foolish to contend thus for the first places. Nevertheless, when they heard my commands, being good men they cleansed themselves and repented quickly.' Now knowing, as we do, on grounds approaching to historical certainty that from the time of the deaths of the apostles Peter and Paul a succession of presbyters occupied a post of pre-eminence and dignity among their fellows—that of presiding bishop and official head of the local Church—is it not permissible to read between the lines that, around this office, heart 221burnings and jealousies not unaccompanied by cabals and intrigues had arisen? During the two long episcopates of Linus and Anencletus, each of twelve years according to tradition, the office that they held had, we can scarcely doubt, been gradually drawing to itself more and more of initiative and authority, and becoming more monarchical in character. If then Hermas wrote, as I am now contending he did, during the closing years of Anencletus, the long immunity from violent persecution which the Church in Rome had then enjoyed was precisely a period when in such a large and mixed community, containing unstable and doubtful elements, strifes and dissensions about precedence might arise, and ambitious presbyters be found ready to assert with acrimony and self-assertion their equality of privilege with one who was nominally only one of themselves, primus inter pares it might be, but still a presbyter like the rest.
The immunity from persecution, to which I have referred, was, however, not long to endure, and the severe trial through which the Church had to pass before the end of Domitian's reign would doubtless be more effective in purifying and cleansing it from those jealous, self-seeking, and factious elements of which Hermas speaks, than his rebukes and upbraidings. The coming tribulation, which he predicted as being at hand, was no doubt that tribulation473473St. Matt. xxiv. 21, 29; St. Mark, xiii. 24; compare 2 Thess. 4-10. which first-century Christianity expected would precede, in accordance with the Lord's words, the Second Advent and the final consummation of all things. The prophecy proved true, however, though in a different sense from that which the prophet intended.
Christian writers have been accustomed to couple together the names of Nero and Domitian, as the first two persecutors of the Church. It has already been shown that although the attack of Nero on the Christians was but the violent outburst of a tyrant, anxious to divert public odium from himself against a body of sectaries who were generally hated and despised, it had permanent results and 222marked the real beginning of what was to be the continuous policy of the Roman State. The persecution of the adherents of the Christian faith by Domitian was far less direct, and did not, as may be gathered from the letter of Pliny to Trajan about sixteen years later, establish any fresh precedents; for had such fresh precedents been established they would not have escaped the notice of this writer, who was a contemporary and, as his correspondence proves, a close observer of current events.
The origin of the persecution of Domitian was not so much religious as fiscal. The Imperial treasury had been emptied by a series of extravagances. In his search for fresh sources of income, Domitian bethought him of the tax which Vespasian had in 70 A.D. imposed upon the Jews, commanding them, as a condition for their religious privileges being respected, to pay henceforth, as already stated, the didrachma they had become accustomed to contribute for the support of the Temple and its worship at Jerusalem to the Roman authority for the maintenance of the Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus. Hitherto the collection of this tax had been leniently carried out and had been only demanded from those circumcised Jews who were professed members of the synagogues. Domitian determined that all who lived more Iudaico, including the large class of ‘Godfearers' and indeed all who to a greater or less extent followed Jewish customs, should be liable, and a strict inquisition was in consequence made.474474Suet. Domitian, 12: ‘Praeter caeteros Iudaicus fiscus acerbissime actus est; ad quem deferebantur qui vel improfessi Iudaicam viverent vitam, vel, dissimulata origine, imposita genti tributa non pependissent.' See Martial, vii. 55. 7. The exact date is not accurately known, but what followed was the bringing to the notice of the Government the existence of a body of people living after the Jewish fashion but repudiating any connexion with the synagogues and therefore having no right to shelter themselves behind the Jewish privileges. Against them the charge of ‘atheism and Jewish manners' was accordingly preferred, and out of the fiscal demand there came a series of arrests and trials in which many Christians suffered.223
It must, however, be borne in mind that there does not seem to have been any organised attack upon the Christian faith as such, but rather that a number of individuals, both of high rank and of low, became for various causes, during the reign of terror which marked the closing years of Domitian's rule, suspect to the government, and paid by their lives or their exile, and in both cases by the confiscation of their property, the penalty for exciting the fears, the jealousy, or the rapacity of the tyrant.475475Suet. Domitian, 3: ‘Virtutes quoque in vitia deflexit; quantum coniectare licet, super ingenii naturam inopia rapax, metu saevus.' Orosius, vii. 10: ‘Nobilissimos e senatu, invidiae sirnul et praedae causa . . . interfecit.' Moreover to a man whose proclamations began with the words ‘our God and Lord Domitian,' and who ostentatiously made the restoration of the national religion one of the aims of his policy, it was easy under the charges of ‘atheism and Jewish manners' or ‘of being movers of innovations'476476Ibid. 10: ‘molitores novarum rerum.' to strike at those who held aloof from taking part in Caesar-worship or in the religious festivals and spectacles.
Very little, practically nothing, is known of the extent to which the general body of Christians suffered under Domitian. In as far as persecution fell upon the humbler classes, it arose, as I have pointed out, not as part of a systematic attack on the Christian religion as such, but as a result of the stricter exaction of the didrachma tax. And it was by no means confined to Rome. Wherever colonies of Jews were settled the fiscal inquisition would be made, and thus the presence of Christian communities brought to the official notice of the magistrates. In their case the procedure would be summary. The mere confession of the Name was sufficient to place the Christian outside the law. He would be asked either to deny the faith or to suffer martyrdom, and among the large number of those who were but half and half Christians, doubtless very many conformed to the request and saved their lives. Eusebius in his ‘Chronicle' quotes the historian Bruttius as stating that many Christians suffered under Domitian, but the expression 224is a very vague one,477477According to the Latin Hieronymian version (ed. Schöne, ii. p. 163): 'Scribit Bruttius plurimos Christianorum sub Domiciano fecisse martyrium, inter quos et Flaviam Domitillam Flavii Clementis consulis ex sorore neptem in insulam Pontianam relegatam quia se Christianam esse testata sit.' See Lightfoot, Apost. Fathers, part i. vol. i. p. 108. and obviously the chief interest of the passage to Eusebius, as it is to us, is its reference to the important fact that among the many high and influential persons whom the tyrant visited with death or banishment were certain of his own near relatives who were Christians. It is around the names of a very small group of individuals that the chief interest of the Domitianic persecution centres, an interest which has been greatly increased by recent archaeological discoveries.
The passage from the ‘Chronicle' of Eusebius merely tells us the name of one of these relatives of Domitian who, according to his authority Bruttius, suffered banishment because she was a Christian. Her name was Flavia Domitilla, and she is described in Jerome's Latin version as ‘being a niece of Flavius Clemens the consul by his sister.' Her place of banishment was the island of Pontia. The Armenian version of the ‘Chronicle' suggests that there may be in this passage some corruption of the text,478478In the Latin translation of the Armenian version of the Chronicle (ed. Schöne, ii. p. 160) we find: ‘refert autem Brettius, multos Christianorum sub Dometiano subiisse martyrium; Flavia vero Dometila et Flavus Clementis consulis sororis filius in insulam Pontiam fugit quia se Christianum esse professus est.' Lightfoot, ibid. p. 105. In the Syrian Epit. (ed. Schöne, p. 214): ‘Flaviam Domitillam, filiam sororis Clementis consulis.' nevertheless its general correctness is confirmed strongly by the parallel passage from the ‘History' of Eusebius, where that writer basing his statement on the evidence of heathen historians, prominent amongst whom would be the Bruttius named in the ‘Chronicle,' states that ‘in the fifteenth year of Domitian amongst many others who suffered persecution was Flavia Domitilla, a daughter of the sister of Flavius Clemens, one of the consuls at Rome at that time, who for her witness to Christ was banished as a punishment to the island of Pontia.'479479Eus. Hist. Eccl. iii. 18.225
Now this evidence of Eusebius, when compared with certain passages in the pages of Dion Cassius and Suetonius, requires very careful attention. Dion writes (I quote the abridgement of Xiphilinus)—‘in this year (95 A.D.) Domitian put to death Flavius Clemens, being then consul, his cousin, and Flavia Domitilla, his relation and the wife of the same [Clemens]. Both were condemned for the crime of “atheism.” On this charge were condemned many others who had adopted Jewish customs; some were put to death, others punished by confiscation. Domitilla was only transported to the island of Pandateria.'480480Dion Cassius, lxvii. 14: κἀν τῷ αὐτῷ ἔτει ἄλλους τε πολλοὺς καὶ τὸν Φλαούϊον Κλήμεντα ὑπατεύοντα, καίπερ ἀνεψιὸν ὄντα καὶ γεναῖκα καὶ αὐτὴν συγγενῆ ἑαυτοῦ Φλαουΐαν Δομιτίλλαν ἔχοντα, κατέσφαξεν ὁ Δομετιανός· ἐπηνέχθη δὲ ἀμφοῖν ἔγκλημα ἀθεότητος, ὑφ᾽ ἧς καὶ ἄλλοι ἐς τὰ τῶν Ἰουδαίων ἔθη ἐξοκέλλοντες πολλοὶ κατεδικάσθησαν, καὶ οἱ μὲν ἀπέθανον, οἱ δὲ τῶν γοῦν οὐσιῶν ἐστερήθησαν· ἡ δὲ Δομιτίλλα ὑπερωρίσθη μόνον ἐς Πανδατερίαν. Now the relationship of this Domitilla to Domitian is revealed to us plainly by Quintilian,481481Quint. Inst. Orat. iv. prooem.: ‘Cum mihi Domitianus Augustus sororis suae nepotum delegavit curam.' who was tutor to the sons of Flavius Clemens and who states that they were the grandchildren of the Emperor's sister, who also bore the name of Flavia Domitilla. This daughter of Vespasian died before her father, but the name of the grand-daughter appears on several extant inscriptions, from which we learn that the Christian catacomb in which many members of the Flavian family were buried, and which dates from the first century, was excavated on her property.482482See Appendix, Note F, The Cemeteries of Priscilla and Domitilla. C.I.L. vi. 948, 949, 8942, 16246. There can be no doubt that she was a Christian and that the faith of Christ had been adopted by others closely related to Domitian. Whether Flavius Clemens himself was actually a baptised Christian and suffered martyrdom, it is very difficult to say. The complete silence of Eusebius and of Christian legend and tradition would rather lead to the conclusion that, though the consul may have been well-disposed towards Christianity and even lived after the Christian manner, and so have incurred the charge of ‘atheism,' yet this was not the real cause which 226led to his being executed. Like his brother Flavius Sabinus before him he stood too near the throne for the suspicious and childless tyrant to endure the presence in Rome of those whose blood-relationship made them possible rivals and successors. This is borne out by the statement of Suetonius, who after describing the morbid state of fear and suspicion, amounting almost to semi-madness, in which Domitian spent his last years, living in constant dread of conspiracy and assassination, proceeds—‘finally he suddenly put to death on the faintest suspicion, when he had only just ceased to be consul, Flavius Clemens, his cousin-german, a man of the most contemptible inactivity, whose sons, then of very tender age, he had openly destined for his successors, and, discarding their former names, had ordered one to be called Vespasian, the other Domitian. By this violent act he very much hastened his own destruction.'483483Suetonius, Domitian, 15–17: ‘repente ex tenuissima suspicione tantum non in ipso eius consulatu interemit.' It was in fact by the hand of Stephanus, a freedman and steward of Domitilla, Flavius Clemens' wife, that the tyrant was stabbed a few months later.
Now Suetonius had previously given an account of the murder of Flavius Sabinus, the elder brother of Flavius Clemens, by his cousin Domitian for no other reason than a mistake of a herald, who on Sabinus being chosen at the consular election, inadvertently proclaimed him to the people not as consul but as imperator,484484Suetonius, Domitian, 10. and in the passage quoted above the historian clearly implies that it was on some similar very slender ground of political suspicion that Flavius Clemens fell a victim to Domitian's jealousy. Possibly his Christian principles, however laxly held, may have compelled him during his tenure of office to hold aloof from certain religious ceremonies and spectacles, thus bringing down upon him the imperial anger. The words of Suetonius that he was ‘a man of most contemptible inertia'485485‘Contemptissimae inertiae.' Compare Tacitus' words in reference to his father, Hist. iii. 65: ‘mitem virum abhorrere a sanguine et caedibus'; 73: ‘Flavium Sabinum inermem neque fugam coeptantem circumsistunt'; 75: after stating that Flavius Sabinus had served the state in thirty-five campaigns and with distinction at home and abroad, Tacitus proceeds: ‘in fine vitae alii segnem, multi moderatum et civium sanguinis parcum credidere.' It was a change of disposition that was observed at the close of the life of this tried servant of the State. See Allard, Hist. d. Persécutions, i. pp. 81–115 (ed. 1892). represent a 227charge which was frequently brought against the Christians, because their religious scruples prevented them from taking an active part in the political life and still more in the cruel and vicious amusements of their time. The same charge is brought by Tacitus against Flavius Sabinus, the City Prefect during the latter years of Nero. He was the elder brother of Vespasian and the father of the Sabinus and Clemens put to death by Domitian. He perished in defending the Capitol against the German mercenaries of Vitellius in 69 A.D. Tacitus describes him as at the close of his life ‘mild in character, averse to bloodshed, and sluggish.' He must in his official capacity have taken part in the persecution of 65 A.D., and the effect of what he witnessed may well have been the conversion wholly or in part of the unwilling persecutor.
The theory of the identity of Flavius Clemens the consul put to death in 95 A.D. with Clement who was bishop of Rome at that period was at one time seriously put forward by a number of eminent German scholars486486Lipsius, Volkmar, Hilgenfeld, Erbes, at one time Harnack. but it has now been generally abandoned. It was pointed out with a certain amount of plausibility that the later Clementine legend ascribing to the bishop a close connexion with the imperial family was due to the fact that he was a mere duplication of the consul, and that it was unlikely that there should be at once in Rome two persons bearing the same name, one of whom occupied one of the highest official positions in the state, and the other was the official head of the Christian community. Dr. Lightfoot was able to show conclusively that this theory of duplication had no foundation and was untenable, but his own solution of the mystery surrounding Clement the bishop's personality, ‘that he was a man of Jewish descent, a freedman or the son of a freedman 228belonging to the household of Flavius Clemens,'487487Lightfoot, Apost. Fathers, part i. vol. i, pp. 59–61. is equally if not more impossible. Dr. Lightfoot seems to have forgotten that Flavius Clemens was quite a young man, probably not more than thirty, when he died.488488Tac. Hist. iii. 69: ‘eoque, concubia nocte, suos liberos Sabinus, et Domitianum, fratris filium in capitolium accivit.' The children of Sabinus were quite young in 70 A.D., and Clemens was younger than Sabinus. His own sons were children under a tutor in 95 A.D. The fact that he did not become consul till that date is of itself a proof of his youth. The Flavian emperors as a rule reserved the consulships for members of their own family. Clement the bishop, unless all that tradition relates of him be false, must have been at least fifty in 95 A.D. He could not in any case have been the son of a freedman of the younger man. Again if a freedman he would not have adopted his master's cognomen, but would have retained his own slave name as cognomen, preceded by the nomen Flavius.
It is somewhat strange, however, that while so many attempts have been made either to identify the two Clements mentioned above or at least to connect them in some way with each other, the presence of a third contemporary Clement, who undoubtedly played a much larger part in Roman public life than either of the other two, has been overlooked. Yet I am now going to ask you to fix your attention upon this man and his family relationships, for I believe that by doing so we shall find the clue to the solution of many difficulties and shall be able to clear up a number of doubtful points in the history of Roman Christianity at the end of the first century. Here in the lecture itself I can only indicate briefly and in outline the hypothesis which I am putting forward, and am perforce reserving for a special note in the Appendix the fuller discussion of details and of the authorities on which the various statements and suggestions are based.489489Appendix, Note D, The Family of Clement the Bishop.
M. Arrecinus Clemens was the son of M. Arrecinus Tertullus Clemens, Praetorian Prefect under Caligula. From Josephus we learn that this Tertullus Clemens was privy to the conspiracy which resulted in the murder of that Emperor, and connived at it. From the same authority comes the information that after the assassination Herod 229Agrippa was allowed to act as an intermediary between the Praetorian troops and the soldiery who obeyed the Senate. The result was that Claudius who had been acclaimed Emperor in the camp became quietly possessed of the reins of power without bloodshed. He owed thus his peaceful accession to the throne in no small measure to the authority exercised by the Praetorian Prefect. How great that authority and influence was may be gathered from the fact that his son thirty years later was welcomed by the guards as their Prefect because the memory of his father was still fresh among them.
It should be noted that it is from the Jewish historian, Josephus, only that the information comes as to the parts played by Arrecinus Tertullus Clemens and Herod Agrippa before and after Caligula's death, and it seems to me a perfectly legitimate inference that the Prefect was a friend of Agrippa and may indeed like many other well-to-do Romans have felt the attraction of the synagogue and to a greater or less extent been a ‘God-fearer.' Be this as it may, it is certain that Titus Flavius Vespasianus was a relative of Tertullus Clemens. Vespasian, Suetonius tells us, was brought up from early childhood by his grandmother Tertulla, a name which suggests not merely the bond of kinship between the Prefect and the future Emperor but the likelihood that in their youth they were closely associated. Evidence of the friendliness of the relations which continued to subsist between the two men in later life is not wanting. Titus, the son of Vespasian, was born in 39 A.D. in very poor circumstances, but shortly after the accession of Claudius both Vespasian himself and his elder brother T. Flavius Sabinus obtained commands in the expedition to Britain under Aulus Plautius. In his father's absence we find Titus at Court, as the companion of Britannicus, the son of Claudius. Can we not see here signs that Clemens to whom Claudius owed so much had used his influence with the Emperor on behalf of his kinsmen? As a further mark of the closeness of the relations between them we find that Titus, while still little more than a boy, was married to Arrecina Tertulla, daughter of Clemens. Domitian, the 230younger son of Vespasian, was not born until 51 A.D., after his father's return from Britain, and he seems to have found a home with his uncle, T. Flavius Sabinus, during the years 57–69 A.D., when Vespasian was abroad and Sabinus filled the post of Prefect of the City. This elder brother of Vespasian did not marry till late in life, probably not until after he settled in Rome in 57 A.D. at the close of his governorship of Moesia, for, as we have already seen, his children were still young when he was murdered in December 69 A.D. Domitian, then aged eighteen, was with his uncle in the Capitol, when it was stormed by the Vitellian troops, and narrowly escaped with his life, to be immediately afterwards saluted as Caesar and invested with consular authority. One of his first acts was the appointment of his relative, M. Arrecinus Clemens, who is described by Tacitus as being in very great favour with Domitian, to the post of Praetorian Prefect, formerly held by his father. This younger Arrecinus Clemens was afterwards twice consul (suffect) in 73 A.D. and 94 A.D., and from 8z A.D. onwards a member of the Imperial Council. Shortly after his second consulship he was suddenly condemned and put to death by Domitian, who, as Suetonius tells us, treated him with every mark of regard up to the last. The death of this active and prominent man can therefore have occurred only about a year before that of Flavius Clemens.
It is not surprising that there should be confusion and mistake on the part of later Christian writers, who knew nothing of Clemens the consul of 94 A.D., the man of twenty-five years official experience, but attributed all references in heathen writers to a consul of that name to Flavius Clemens, thereby creating entanglements and difficulties. For instance it has been seen that Eusebius, referring to Bruttius490490At Torre Marancia, on the Via Ardeatina, on a plot of land adjoining the entrance to the cemetery of Domitilla, a burial place of the Bruttian gens has been discovered. The historian was probably Bruttius Praesens, the friend of Pliny the Younger. De Rossi, Bull. Arch. crist. 1865, p. 24; 1875, p. 74. Marucchi, Roma Sotterranea Cristiana, N.S. tone. i. 22–23, 29–30. See also App. Note F, Cemeteries of Priscilla and Domitilla. as his authority, both in his ‘History' and in his 231‘Chronicle,' states that Flavia Domitilla, the niece [the sister's child] of Flavius Clemens, one of the consuls at that time, had been exiled because of her profession of the Christian faith to the island of Pontia. There is no mention in either passage of the death of Flavius Clemens. Further, Jerome, in one of his epistles giving a description of the visit of a certain Paula in 385 A.D. to the island of Pontia, declares that she saw there the cells in which Flavia Domitilla had spent a long exile.
On the other hand Suetonius and Philostratus record the death of Flavius Clemens without any hint of any punishment falling upon any Flavia Domitilla. Dion Cassius, however, declares that both Flavius Clemens and his wife Flavia Domitilla were accused of the crime of ‘atheism' and that he was executed, while his wife was banished to the island not of Pontia but of Pandateria.
This is all very puzzling, but there is yet another source of information available to us—the legendary ‘Acts of Nereus and Achilles.' These ‘Acts,' though late in date and as regards many details pure fiction, rest nevertheless on a solid basis of real fact, for a memorial of Nereus and Achilles (according to the story the martyred chamberlains of a Flavia Domitilla, whose mother Plautilla was the sister of Clemens the Consul) has been found in the cemetery of Domitilla, where the ‘Acts' tell us the bodies were laid. Flavia Domitilla herself, so runs this narrative, had been banished to the island of Pontia because as a Christian she wished to live in virginity, and had refused to marry in accordance with the Emperor's commands. To say that such an incident is one common to early Christian hagiography is no argument against its authenticity in this or any particular instance. It is a simple matter of fact that the precepts of St. Paul on the subject of virginity had a far-reaching influence, and that during the age of persecution many Christian women did regard the state of life commended by the Apostle as the highest ideal of discipleship. Plautilla's name, I can see no reason to doubt, was found in the original source which furnished the 232materials for the sixth-century ‘Acts of Nereus and Achilles.' I am inclined, however, to connect the disobedience and banishment of Domitilla the virgin with the sudden disgrace and execution of Arrecinus Clemens, she being his niece and Plautilla his sister. Eusebius states that the Domitilla banished to the island of Pontia was the niece of Flavius Clemens, and he quotes the contemporary historian Bruttius as his authority. Apart from other reasons for believing that Eusebius must have made a mistake, to which I shall refer directly, I think it more than likely that he never saw the original narrative of Bruttius at all, but only some Greek extract from it at second hand, in which the mother of Domitilla was described, just as she is in ‘The Acts of Nereus and Achilles,' simply as the sister of Clemens the consul. He naturally would interpret this as a reference to Flavius Clemens. The same error was committed by the author of the ‘Chronicon Paschale,' who records that Flavius Clemens was consul both in 93 A.D. and 95 A.D., whereas it is certain that he was consul for the first time in 95 A.D., the consul in 94 A.D. being Arrecinus Clemens.
There is every mark (except the duplication of names) that the account given by Dion Cassius of the execution of Flavius Clemens and the condemnation of his wife, Domitian's niece, to exile in the island of Pandateria is quite distinct from that recorded by Eusebius on the authority of Bruttius, and with fuller detail in ‘The Acts of Nereus and Achilles.' Eusebius in mentioning the name of Flavius Clemens could surely not have refrained from speaking of his fate had the passage from Bruttius that was before his eyes made any allusion to this last and crowning act of Domitian's cruelty. No, the incidents connected with the sentences on the two Flavia Domitillas seem to have been separated by an interval of some twelve months or more from each other.
Circumstantial evidence is in favour of the conclusion I have adopted. In 95 A.D. Flavius Clemens was, as I have said, still quite a young man. It is therefore extremely 233improbable that he should have had a niece of sufficient age and standing to have aroused the resentment of Domitian, or that she should have been accompanied into exile by two soldier-chamberlains, the historical reality of whose martyrdom and subsequent burial in the cemetery of Domitilla extant memorials testify. Dr. Lightfoot491491Lightfoot, Apost. Fathers, part i. vol. i. p. 51. sees a discrepancy in the representation of these two men both as soldiers of the guard and as chamberlains of Domitilla. It is rather an undesigned piece of confirmatory evidence, if, as I am assuming, this Domitilla were the niece and the granddaughter of two Pretorian Prefects, one of whom had just served the office of consul.
But further light may, I think, be thrown upon her personality, which will reveal still more clearly the causes for the confusion of names to which I have referred. It never seems to have struck any of the numerous critics and commentators who have dealt with these questions, that ‘Clemens' was not a cognomen in use among the Flavian family. If the second son of T. Flavius Sabinus received the cognomen Clemens, the inference is that he derived it from his mother.
The name of the wife of Flavius Sabinus, the brother of Vespasian, is not recorded, but he married late in life, and if that wife were Plautilla, daughter of the Praetorian Prefect, Tertullus Clemens, and sister of Arrecinus Clemens the consul of 93 A.D., it seems to me that not merely the difficulties attaching to the scanty historical references to the Domitianic persecutions, but also those connected with the more or less legendary traditions relating to the same period, will be largely removed. Let us examine some of the consequences of the hypothesis that I have put forward as to Plautilla having been the wife of Titus Flavius Sabinus, the Prefect of the City from 57 to 69 A.D. According to ‘The Acts of Nereus and Achilles' she was a Christian convert and died the same year that St. Peter was martyred. Sabinus was murdered in 69 A.D. and as I have already pointed out there are hints in the narrative of Tacitus that he, 234too, may in his last years have imbibed Christian principles. The natural guardian of his orphan children would be their uncle M. Arrecinus CIemens, the Praetorian Prefect of 70 A.D. The two sons as they grew up would no doubt pass under the direct care of Vespasian himself, but the daughter, Flavia Domitilla, would remain with her uncle, and would thus be rightly described not as the sister of Flavius Clemens but as the niece of Arrecinus.
Again, the name Plautilla suggested to De Rossi that her mother's name was likely to be ‘Plautia.' This suggestion I shall adopt by the further assumption that the wife of Tertullus Clemens was a sister of Aulus Plautius the conqueror of Britain, and therefore a relative of Plautia Urgulanilla the second wife of Claudius and sister-in-law to Pomponia Graecina, whose conversion through Judaism to Christianity may be dated as having taken place early in Claudius' reign. That Tertullus Clemens either personally or through his wife had some special Jewish connexion has already been suggested as an explanation of the particular knowledge shown by Josephus about the part played by this Praetorian Prefect at the time of the assassination of Caligula; and if his wife were the sister of Aulus Plautius not only is there a possibility that she may have shared the religious views of Pomponia Graecina, but a further reason is adduced for the appointment of both Vespasian and his brother Sabinus to posts in the army of Britain under that general.
Thus a scheme of relationship between the Flavian and Arrecinian families has been drawn up, which has at least the not inconsiderable merit of co-ordinating a number of isolated facts and bringing them into harmony with one another. It will be found that it is able to answer to a further and still more trying test of its general accuracy. I have suggested at the close of the last lecture that Clement the Bishop was a younger brother of M. Arrecinus Clemens the consul. It will be found, as I then said, that such a suggestion was in no way a random conjecture. The high position which the famous bishop held, according to 235all the traditions that have come down to us, in the estimation of later generations was due not to his being the author of the Epistle sent by the Roman Church to the Church at Corinth, but to his being a personal disciple of St. Peter and at the same time a man of distinguished birth and family connexion. In the ‘Acts of Nereus and Achilles' The bishop is described as being ‘the son of a brother of Clemens the consul.' The relations between him and St. Peter, the evidence for which is strong and convincing, render it more probable that he was the younger brother of Arrecinus. This would be in accordance with what we find in the Clementine ‘Homilies' and ‘Recognitions.' In their accounts of the early life of the bishop, which are derived from a common earlier source, Clement is represented as the youngest of his family. In these romances, the biographical chronology is hopeless. The names of the parents and brothers of the bishop belong to the period of Hadrian and the Antonines, while his conversion takes place in the reign of Tiberius. The statement, however, that the father of Clement was a near relative and foster-brother of an emperor and that his mother was likewise a kinswoman of Caesar can scarcely be the pure invention of a writer of fiction. There could be no object in a romancer going out of his way to make such an assertion unless it had behind it a genuine historical tradition. If Clement, however, were the son of Arrecinus Tertullus Clemens and of Plautia the sister of Aulus Plautius, his father was a relative and possibly the foster-brother of Vespasian, his mother a kinswoman of Claudius. It is an interesting thought that with such parentage he may have gained his early knowledge of the Jewish scriptures and of the principles of Christianity at the feet of Pomponia Graecina.
Among the victims of Domitian in 95 A.D. was a member of one of the most illustrious families in Rome—M' Acilius Glabrio.492492Gsell, Le Règne de l'Empereur Domitien, pp. 294–6; Allard, Hist. des Persécutions, pp. 111–115. While he was consul in 91 A.D. as the colleague of M. Ulpius Trajanus, the future emperor, he appears to 236have excited the suspicion and dislike of Domitian, who in order to humiliate and degrade him compelled Glabrio to fight with wild beasts in the amphitheatre adjoining the imperial villa at Albanum. He was victorious but was afterwards exiled. This punishment did not, however, satisfy the vindictive spirit of the Emperor. Dion Cassius, after telling of the execution of Flavius Clemens and the banishment of his wife upon the charge of ‘atheism and Jewish manners,' says that he also caused Acilius Glabrio to be put to death for the same crimes. Suetonius likewise states that Acilius Glabrio in his place of exile and several others of senatorial and consular rank were executed as ‘instigators of novelties'—molitores rerum novarum.493493Dion Cassius, lxvii. 12, 14; Suet. Domitian, 10, 19; Juvenal, iv. 93–103; Fronto, Ep. ad M. Caesarem, v. 23. The character of these charges had for some time given rise to something more than a suspicion that this M' Acilius Glabrio may have been a Christian. This suspicion has been converted almost into certainty by the discovery in 1888 by De Rossi in the first-century cemetery of Priscilla of a gamma-shaped crypt formerly richly adorned with frescoes, now in a state of ruin, but containing many fragments of inscriptions showing that this was a burial place of the Acilii Glabriones and other members of the Acilian Gens.494494De Rossi, Bull. di Arch. Crist. 1888–89, pp. 15–66, 103–133; Roma Sotterranea, p. 319; Lanciani, Pagan and Christian Rome, pp. 4–8; Wahl, Römische Quartalschrift, 1890, iv. pp. 305 ff; Marucchi, Arch. Chrétienne, ii. pp. 422–7. See App. Note F, Cemeteries of Priscilla and Domitilla. It has been a great misfortune that in this catacomb, as in that of Domitilla, so much wanton destruction should have been wrought by the searchers for relics (especially at the beginning of the seventeenth century) in ignorant disregard of the inestimable historical value of these precious archaeological records of primitive Roman Christianity. The name Priscilla was not uncommon in the Acilian family, and it is thought that the particular Priscilla from whom the catacomb derives its name may have been the mother of M' Acilius Glabrio, the consul of 91 A.D. These two cemeteries of Priscilla and Domitilla even in their present devastated 237condition bear witness, which cannot be gainsaid, to the hold which Christianity had obtained among the upper classes in the reign of Domitian.
This account of the Church in Rome in the first century has had to be compressed into eight lectures. Now compression implies that certain matters have been passed over lightly, others selected for special and detailed treatment. This is a true description of the method that I have followed, and it has consisted in choosing for more exhaustive and careful examination precisely those questions and subjects round which controversies have arisen and on which there have been and are strong differences of opinion. It is, for instance, of vital importance to a right understanding of the growth of Christianity in the centre of the empire, that the contemporary documents which throw light upon it should be correctly dated, and to this question of dates much attention, perhaps some may think a disproportionate amount of attention, has been given. That, however, depends entirely upon the results achieved by arguments whose force and validity rest upon the patient unravelling and disentanglement of a quantity of involved, obscure, and sometimes apparently contradictory evidence. This I will venture to say, that while only too deeply conscious of the limitations of my knowledge, it has been my endeavour in these lectures freely, and without prejudice, to give expression to the conclusions which close personal study of the documentary and epigraphic evidence has led me to form, in the hope if not of convincing or converting those who have adopted different views, at least of stimulating inquiry and arousing fresh interest in some questions that have been regarded as choses jugees, and to remind those who may do me the honour of reading these pages, that experience has taught that there are very few indeed even of the so-called ‘accepted results of criticism' which can be received without the mental reservation of a note of interrogation.239
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