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EXCURSUS

TRAVELLING: THE EXCHANGE OF LETTERS AND LITERATURE644644Cp. Zahn's Weltkehr and Kirche während der drei ersten Jahrhunderte (1877); Ramsay in Expositor, vol. viii., Dec. 1903, pp. 401 f. (“Travel and Correspondence among the Early Christians”) [also reproduced in his Letters to the Seven Churches, 1904, ch. 1.], his Church in the Roman Empire, pp. 364 f., and his article on “Travel” in Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. “It is the simple truth that travelling, whether for business or for pleasure, was contemplated and performed under the empire with an indifference, confidence, and, above all, certainty which were unknown in after centuries until the introduction of steamers and the consequent increase in ease and sureness of communication.” Compare the direct and indirect evidence of Philo, Acts, Pliny, Appian, Plutarch, Epictetus, Aristides, etc. Iren., iv. 30. 3: “Mundus pacem habet per Romanos, et nos sine timore in viis ambulamus et navigamus quocumque voluerimus” (“The world enjoys peace, thanks to the Romans, and we can travel by road and sea wherever we wish, unafraid”). One merchant boasts, in an inscription on a tomb at Hierapolis in Phrygia, that he voyaged from Asia to Rome seventy-two times (C.I.G., 3920). The author of Acts treats Paul's journey from Ephesus to Jerusalem and his return by land as a simple excursion (xviii. 21-32). No excessive length of time was needed to cover the distances. In twelve days one could reach Alexandria from Neapolis, in seven from Corinth. With a favourable wind, the voyage from Narbo in Southern France to Africa occupied only five days (Sulpic. Sever., Dial., i. 3); from the Syrtes to Alexandria took six days (ibid., i. 6). The journey by land from Ephesus to Antioch in Syria certainly took a month (cp. Evagrius, Hist. Eccles., i. 3); but there were rapid messengers who traversed the empire with incredible speed. Of one it is said (Socrates, H.E., vii. 19), οὗτος ὁ Παλλάδιοs μεγίστην οὖσαν τῶν Ῥωμαίων ἀρχὴν μικρὰν ἔδειξε τῂ ταχύτητι (“This Palledius made the huge empire of Rome seem small by his speed”). Cp. Friedlander's Sittengeschichte (vol. ii., at the beginning). For the letters, cp. Deissmann's Bible Studies (Eng. trans., 1901) and Wehofer's Untersuch. zur altchristl. Epistolographie (in “Wiener akad. Sitzungsber., Philos.-Hist. Klasse, cxliii., 1901,” pp. 102 f). Norden (Antike Kunstprosa, p. 492) observes: “The epistolary literature, even in its artless forms, had a far greater right to exist, according to the ideas of the age, than we can understand at the present day. The epistle gradually became a literary form into which any material, even of a scientific nature, could be thrown loosely and freely.”

The apostles, as well as many of the prophets, travelled unceasingly in the interests of their mission. The journeys of Paul from Antioch to Rome, and probably to Spain, lie in the clear light of history, but—to judge from his letters—his fellow-workers and companions were also continually on the 370move, partly along with him, and partly on their own account.645645Read the sixteenth chapter of Romans in particular, and see what a number of Paul's acquaintances were in Rome. One thinks especially of that missionary couple, Aquila and Priscilla. To study and state in detail the journeys of Paul and the rest of these missionaries would lead us too far afield, nor would it be relevant to our immediate purpose. Paul felt that the Spirit of God drove him on, revealing his route and destination; but this did not supersede the exercise of deliberation and reflection in his own mind, and evidences of the latter may be found repeatedly throughout his travels. Peter also journeyed as a missionary; he too reached Rome.

However, what interests us at present is not so much the travels of the regular missionaries as the journeys undertaken by other prominent Christians, -from which we may learn the vitality of personal communication and intercourse throughout the early centuries. In this connection the Roman church became surprisingly prominent. The majority of the Christians with whose travels we are acquainted made it their goal.646646See Caspari, Quellen z. Taufsymbol, vol. iii. (1875).

Justin, Hegesippus, Julius Africanus, and Origen were Christian teachers who were specially travelled men, i.e., men who had gone over a large number of the churches. Justin, who came from Samaria, stayed in Ephesus and Rome. Hegesippus reached Rome via Corinth after starting, about the middle of the second century, on an Eastern tour occupying several years, during which he visited many of the churches. Julius Africanus from Emmaus in Palestine also appeared in Edessa, Rome, and Alexandria. But the most extensive travels were those of Origen, who, from Alexandria and Cæsarea (in Palestine) respectively, made his appearance in Sidon, Tyre, Bostra, Antioch, Cæsarea (in Cappadocia), Nikomedia, Athens, Nicopolis, Rome, and other cities647647Abercius turned up at Rome and on the Euphrates from Hieropolis in Phrygia. (sometimes more than once).

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The following notable Christians648648The apostolic age is left out of account. It is very probable, I think, that Simon Magus also really came to Rome. Ignatius was taken thither from Antioch against his will, but several Christians accompanied him of their own accord. John, too, is said to have come to Rome, according to an early but poorly authenticated legend. journeyed from abroad to Rome:—

Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna (Eus., H.E., iv. 14, v. 24).

Valentinus the gnostic, from Egypt (Iren., iii. 4. 3).

Cerdo the gnostic, from Syria (Iren., i. 27. 1, iii. 4. 3).

Marcion the heretic, from. Sinope (Hippolytus, cited in Epiph., Hær.; xlii. 1 f.).

Marcellina the heretic (Iren., i. 25. 6).

Justin the apologist, from Samaria (see his Apology; also Euseb., H.E., iv. 11).

Tatian the Assyrian (Orat. xxxv.).

Hegesippus, from the East (Eus., H.E., iv. 22, according to the ὑπομνήματα of Hegesippus).

Euelpistus, Justin's pupil, from Cappadocia (Acta Justini).

Hierax, Justin's pupil, from Cappadocia (Acta Justini).649649Euelpistus and Hierax, however, were probably involuntary travellers; they seem to have come to Rome as slaves.

Rhodon, from Asia (Eus., H.E., v. 13).

Irenæus, from Asia (Eus., H.E., v. 1-4; [Martyr. Polyc., append.]).

Apelles, Marcion's pupil (Tertull., de Præscr., xxx.; though Apelles may have been born at Rome), from ——?

Florinus, from Asia (Eus., H.E., v. 15. 20).

Proclus and other Montanists from Phrygia or Asia (Eus., H.E., ii. 25, iii. 31, vi. 20; Tertull., adv. Prax., 1).

[Tertullian, from Carthage (de Cultu Fem., i. 7; Eus., H.E., ii. 2).]

Theodotus, from Byzantium (Epiph., Hær., liv. 1).

Praxeas, from Asia (Tert., adv. Prax., 1).

Abercius, from Hieropolis (see his inscription).

Julius Africanus, from Emmaus (Κεστοί).

Alcibiades, from Apamea in Syria (Hippol., Philos., ix. 13).

[Prepon the Marcionite, an Assyrian (Hippol., Philos., vii. 31).]

Epigonus, from Asia (Hipp., Philos., ix. 7).

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Sabellius, from Pentapolis (Theodoret, Hær. Fab., ii. 9).

Origen, from Alexandria (Eus., H.E., vi. 14).

Many Africans, about the year 250 (Cyprian's epistles).650650Different motives prompted a journey to Rome. Teachers came to prosecute their vocation, others to gain influence in the local church, or to see this famous church, and so forth. Everyone was attracted to the capital by that tendency to make for the large towns which characterizes each new religious enterprise. How eagerly Paul strove to get to Rome!

Shortly after the middle of the second century, Melito of Sardes journeyed to Palestine (Eus., H.E., iv. 26), as did Alexander from Cappadocia (Eus., H.E., vi. 11) and Pionius froth Smyrna (about the middle of the third century: see the Acta Pionii); Julius Africanus travelled to Alexandria (Eus., H.E., vi. 31); Hermogenes, a heretic, emigrated from the East to Carthage (Theophilus of Antioch opposed him, as did Tertullian); Apelles went from Rome to Alexandria (Tert., de Præscr., xxx.); during the Decian persecution and afterwards, Roman Christians were despatched to Carthage (see Cyprian's epistles); at the time of Valerian's persecution, several Roman brethren were in Alexandria (Dionys. Alex., cited by Euseb., H.E., vii. 11); while Clement of Alexandria got the length of Cappadocia (Eus., H.E., vi. 11). This list is incomplete, but it will give some idea of the extent to which the travels of prominent teachers promoted intercommunication.

As for the exchange of letters,651651The churches also communicated to each other the eucharist. The earliest evidence is that of Irenæus in the letter to Victor of Rome (Eus., H.E., v. 24. 15). I must content myself with noting the salient points. Here, too, the Roman church occupies the foreground. We know of the following letters and despatches issued from it:—

The pastoral letter to Corinth (i.e., the first epistle of Clement), c. 96 A.D.

The “Shepherd” of Hermas, which (according to Vis., ii. 4) was sent to the churches abroad.

The pastoral letter of bishop Soter to Corinth (i.e., the homily he sent thither, or 2 Clem.). The letter in reply, from Dionysius of Corinth, shows that Rome had for decades been in the habit of sending letters and despatches to a number of churches.

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During the Montanist controversy, under (Soter) Eleutherus and Victor, letters passed to Asia, Phrygia, and Gaul.

During the Easter controversy, Victor issued letters to all the churches abroad.

Pontian wrote to Alexandria, assenting to the condemnation of Origen.

During the vacancy in the Papacy after bishop Fabian's death, letters passed to Carthage, to the other African churches, and to Sicily; the Roman martyrs also wrote to the Carthaginian.

Bishop Cornelius wrotee numerous letters to Africa, as well as to Antioch and Alexandria.

Bishop Stephanus wrote to Africa, Alexandria, Spain, and Gaul, as well as to all the churches abroad during the controversy over the baptism of heretics. He also sent letters and despatches to Syria and Arabia, following the custom of his predecessors.

Letters of bishop Xystus II. to Alexandria.

Letters of bishop Dionysius to Alexandria.

A letter and despatches of bishop Dionysius to Cappadocia.

A letter of bishop Felix to Alexandria.

Letters to Antioch during the trouble caused by Paul of Samosata.

Among the non-Roman letters are to be noted: those of Ignatius to the Asiatic churches and to Rome, that written by Polycarp of Smyrna to Philippi and other churches in the neighbourhood, the large collection of those written by Dionysius of Corinth (to Athens, Lacedæmon, Nicomedia, Crete, Pontus, Rome), the large collections of Origen's letters (no longer extant), of Cyprian's (to the African churches, to Rome, Spain, Gaul, Cappadocia), and of Novatian's (to a very large number of churches throughout all Christendom: no longer extant), and of those written by Dionysius of Alexandria (preserved in fragments).652652He even wrote to the brethren in Armenia. Letters were sent from Cappadocia, Spain, and Gaul to Cyprian (Rome); the synod which gathered in Antioch to deal with Paul of Samosata, wrote to all the churches of Christendom; and Alexander of Alexandria, as well 374as Arius, wrote letters to a large number of churches in the Eastern empire.653653Evidence for all these letters will be found in my Geschichte der altchristlichen Litteratur, vol. i.

The more important Christian writings also circulated with astonishing rapidity.654654On this point also I may refer to my History of the literature, where the ancient testimony for each writing is carefully catalogued. Down to about the reign of Commodus the number of Christian writings is not very striking, if one leaves out the heretical productions; but when the latter are included, as they must be, it is very large. Out of the wealth of material at our disposal, the following instances may be adduced:—

Ere the first half of the second century expired, the four gospels appear to have reached the majority, or at any rate a very large number, of churches throughout the empire.

A collection of Paul's letters was already known to Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Polycarp, and all the leading gnostics.

The first epistle of Clement (addressed to Corinth) was in the hands of Polycarp (at Smyrna), and was known to Irenæus at Lyons, as well as to Clement of Alexandria.

A few weeks or months after the epistles of Ignatius were composed, they were collected and despatched to Philippi; Irenæus in Lyons and Origen in Alexandria were acquainted with them.

The Didachê was circulated in the second century through East and West alike.

The “Shepherd” of Hermas, in its complete form, was well known in Lyons, Alexandria, and Carthage, even in the second century.

The Apology and other works of Justin were known to Irenæus at Lyons, and to Tertullian at Carthage, etc. Tatian was read in Alexandria.

By the close of the second century, writings of Melito, bishop of Sardes (during the reign of Marcus Aurelius) were read in Ephesus, Alexandria, Rome, and Carthage.

As early as about the year 200 A.D., writings of Irenæus (who wrote c. 190) were read in Rome and Alexandria, whilst, like Justin, he was known at a later period to Methodius in Lycia.

The writings of several authors in Asia Minor during the 375reign of Marcus Aurelius were read in Alexandria, Carthage, and Rome.

The “Antitheses” of the heretic Marcion were known to all the larger churches in the East and West by the end of the second century.

The apocryphal Acta Pauli, originating in Asia, was probably read in all the leading churches, and certainly in Rome, Carthage, and Alexandria, by the end of the second century.

Numerous writings of the Roman Hippolytus were circulated throughout the East. What a large number of Christian writings were gathered from all parts of the world in the library at Cæsarea (in Palestine) is known to us from the Church History of Eusebius, which was written from the material in this collection. It is owing primarily to this library, which in its way formed a counterpart of the Alexandrian, that we possess to-day a coherent, though very limited, knowledge of Christian antiquity.655655Compare on this point the two tables, given in my Litteratur-Geschichte, vol. i. pp. 883-886, of “Early Christian Greek Writings in old Latin Versions,” and “Early Christian Greek Writings in old Syriac Versions.” No writing is translated into a foreign language until it appears to be indispensable for the purposes of edification or of information. Compare, in the light of this, the extraordinary amount of early Christian literature which was translated at an early period into Latin or Syriac. It is particularly interesting to ascertain what writings were rendered into Latin as well as into Syriac. Their number was considerable, and this forms an unerring aid in answering the question, which of the early Christian writings were most widely circulated and most influential. Very little was translated into Greek from Latin (Tertullian's Apology, Cyprian's epistles) in the pre-Constantine period. And even previous to that, if one takes the trouble (and it is no trouble) to put together, from the writings of Celsus, Tertullian, Hippolytus, Clement of Alexandria, and Origen, their library of Christian works, it becomes evident that they had access to an extensive range of Christian books from, all parts of the church.

These data are merely intended to give an approximate idea of how vital was the intercourse, personal and epistolary and literary, between the various churches, and also between prominent teachers of the day. It is not easy to exaggerate the significance of this fact for the mission and propaganda of Christianity. The co-operation, the brotherliness, and moreover 376the mental activity of Christians, are patent in this connection, and they were powerful levers in the extension of the cause. Furthermore, they must have made a powerful impression on the outside spectator, besides guaranteeing a certain unity in the development of the religion and ensuring the fact that when a Christian passed from the East to the West, or from one distant church to another, he never felt himself a stranger. Down to the age of Constantine, or at any rate until the middle of the third century, the centripetal forces in early Christianity were, as a matter of fact, more powerful than the centrifugal. And Rome was the centre of the former tendencies. The Roman Church was the Catholic Church. It was more than the mere symbol and representative of Christian unity; to it more than to any other Christians owed unity itself.

So far as I know, the technical side of the spread of early Christian literature has not yet been investigated, and any results that can be reached are far from numerous.656656Cp. however, what Sulpicius Severus (Dial., i. 23, in the light of iii. 17) says of his little volume on “The Life of S. Martin.” Postumianus, the interrogator, says: “Nunquam a dextera mea liber iste discedit. nam si agnoscis, ecce—et aperit librum qui veste latebat—en ipsum! hic mihi, inquit, terra ac mari comes, hic in peregrinatione tota socius et consolator fuit. sed referam tibi sane, quo liber iste penetrarit, et quam nullus fere in orbe terrarum locus sit, ubi non materia tam felicis historiae pervulgata teneatur. primus eum Romanae urbi vir studiossimus tui Paulinus invexit; deinde cum tota certatim urbe raperetur, exultantes librarios vidi, quod nihil ab his quaestiosius haberetur, siquidem nihil illo promptius, nihil carius venderetur. hic navigationis meae cursum longe ante praegressus, cum ad Africam veni, iam per totam Carthaginem legebatur. solus eum Cyrenensis ille presbyter non habebat, sed me largiente descripsit. nam quid ego de Alexandria loquar? ubi paene omnibus magis quam tibi notus est. hic Aegyptum, Nitriam, Thebaidain ac tota Memphitica regna transivit. hunc ego in eremo a quodam sene legi vidi,” etc. (“That book never leaves my right hand. Look, said he—and he showed the book under his cloak—here it is, my companion by land and sea, my ally and comforter in all my wanderings. I'll tell you where it has penetrated; let me tell you, pray, how there is no single spot where this blessed story is not known. Paulinus, your great admirer, brought it first to Rome. The whole city seized on it, and I found the booksellers in delight, because no demand was more profitable, no book sold so keenly and quickly as yours. I found it before me wherever I sailed. When I reached Africa, it was being read in Carthage. That presbyter of Cyrene did not only possess it; at my expense, he wrote it out. And what shall I say of Alexandria, where nearly everyone knows it better than you do yourself. Through Nitria, the Thebais, and all the Memphis district it has circulated. I saw it also being read in the desert by an old anchorite,” etc.). This refers, of course, to a book which appeared about 400 A.D., but the description, even when modified, is significant for an earlier period. We must realize, however, that a large number of these writings, not excluding the oldest and most important of them, together with almost all the epistolary literature, was never “edited” in the technical sense of the term—never, at any rate, until after some generations 377had passed. There were no editions of the New Testament (or of the Old?) until Origen (i.e., the Theodotian), although Marcion's New Testament deserves to be called a critical revision and edition, while revised editions.were meant by those early fathers who bewailed the falsification of the Bible texts by the gnostics. For the large majority of early Christian writings the exemplars in the library at Caesarea served as the basis for editions (i.e., transcripts) from the fourth and fifth centuries onwards. Yet even after editions of the Scriptures were published they were frequently transcribed at will from some rough copy. From the outset the apologies, the works of the gnostics (which were meant for the learned), and any ecclesiastical writings designed, from Irenæus downwards, for the educated Christian public, were published and circulated. The first instance of a bishop collecting and editing his own letters is that of Dionysius of Corinth, during the reign of Marcus Aurelius (Eus., H.E., iv. 23).

Unedited or unpublished writings were naturally exposed in a special degree to the risk of falsification. The church fathers are full of complaints on this score. Yet even those which were edited were not preserved with due care.657657To give one or two instances. Dionysius of Corinth found that his letters were circulating in falsified shape even during his own lifetime; he comforts himself naïvely with the thought that even the Scriptures shared the same fate (so, apropos of Origen's writings, Sulpic. Sever., Dial., i. 7). Irenæus adjures all future copyists of his works not to corrupt them, and to copy out his adjuration (Eus., H.E., v. 20). But the most striking proof of the prevailing uncertainty in texts is afforded by the fact that only a century and a half after Cyprian an attempt was actually made to set aside all his letters on the baptism of heretics as forgeries. Augustine's remarks on the matter are quite as remarkable (Ep. xciii. 38). He regards the hypothesis as possible, though he does not agree with it: “Non desunt, qui hoc Cyprianum prorsus non sensisse contendant, sed sub eius nomine a praesumptoribus atque mendacibus fuisse confictum. neque enim sic potuit integritas atque notitia litterarum unius quamlibet inlustris episcopi custodivi quemadmodum scriptura canonica tot linguarum litteris et ordine ac succession celebrationis ecclesiasticae custoditur, contra quam tamen non defuerat qui sub nominibus apostolorum multa confingerent frustra quidem, quia illa sic commendata, sic celebrata, sic nota est” (“There are, indeed, some people who assert that Cyprian did not hold such opinions at all, but that the correspondence has been composed in his name by daring forgers. For the writings of a bishop, however distinguished, could not indeed be preserved in their integrity, like the holy canonical Scriptures, by ecclesiastical order and use and regular succession—though even here there have actually been people who issued many fabrications under the names of apostles. It was useless, however, for Scripture was too well attested, too well known, too familiar, to permit of them succeeding in their designs”).—How Tertullian fared with the second edition of his anti-Marcion, he tells us himself: “Hanc compositionem nondum exemplariis suffectam fraude tunc fratris, dehinc apostatae, amisi, qui forte descripserat quaedam mendosissime et exhibuit frequentiae” (“I lost it, before it was finally published, by the fraud of one who was then a Christian brother but afterwards apostatized. He happened to have transcribed part of it very inaccurately, and then he published it”).—The author of the Life of Polycarp observes that the works, sermons, and letters of that writer were pilfered during the persecution by the knavery of unbelievers.

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To what extent the literature of Christianity fell into the hands of its opponents, is a matter about which we know next to nothing. Tertullian speaks quite pessimistically on the point (de Testim. i.), and Norden's verdict is certainly true (Kunstprosa, pp. 517 f.): “We cannot form too low an estimate of the number of pagans who read the New Testament. . . . . I believe I am correct in saying that pagans only read the New Testament when they wanted to refute it.” Celsus furnished himself with quite a considerable Christian library, in which he studied deeply before he wrote against the Christians; but it is merely a rhetorical phrase, when Athenagoras assumes (Suppl., ix.) that the emperors knew the Old Testament. The attitude of the apologists to the Scriptures, whether they are quoting them or not, shows that they do not presuppose any knowledge of their contents (Norden, loc. cit.). Writings of Origen were read by the Neoplatonist philosophers, who had also in their hands the Old Testament, the gospels, and the Pauline epistles. We may say the same of Porphyry and Amelius. One great obstacle to the diffusion of the Scriptures lay in the Greek version, which was inartistic and offensive (from the point of view of style),658658Nearly all the apologists (cp. even Clem. Alex., Protrept., viii. 77) tried to justify the “unadorned” style of the prophets, and thus to champion the defect. Origen (Hom. viii. 1, in Jesum Nave, vol. xi. p. 74) observes: “We appeal to you, O readers of the sacred books, not to hearken to their contents with weariness and disdain for what seems to be their unpleasing method of narration” (“Deprecamur vos, O auditores sacrorum voluminum, non cum taedio vel fastidio ea quae leguntur, audire pro eo quod minus delectabilis eorum videtur esse narratio”); cp. Hom. viii. 1, in Levit., vol. ix. p. 313, de Princip., iv. 1. 7, iv. 26 [the divine nature of the Bible all the more plain from its defective literary style), Cohort. ad Græc., xxxv.-xxxvi., xxxviii. but still more in 379the old Latin version of the Bible, which in many parts was simply intolerable. How repellent must have been the effect produced, for example, by reading (Baruch ii. 29) “Dicens: si non audieritis vocis meae, si sonos magnos hagminis iste avertatur in minima in gentibus, hubi dispergam ibi.659659Even the Greek text, of course, is unpleasing: λέγων· ἐὰν μὴ ἀκούσητε τῆς φωνῆς μου, εἰ μὴν ἡ βόμβησις ἡ μεγάλη ἡ πολλὴ αὕτη ἀποστρέψει εἰς μικρὰν ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν οὗ διασπερῶ αὐτοὺς ἐκεῖ. On the style of the New Testament, cp. Norden, Die antike Kunstprosa (1898), pp. 516 f. (“Educated people could not but view the literary records of the Christians as stylistic monstrosities”).—Arnobius (i. 58) writes of the Scriptures: “They were written by illiterate and uneducated men, and therefore are not readily to be credited” (“Ab indoctis hominibus et rudibus scripta sunt et idcirco non sunt facili auditione credenda”). When he writes (i. 59): “Barbarismis, soloecismis obsitae sunt res vestrae et vitiorum deformitate pollutae” (“Your narratives are overrun by barbarisms and solecisms, and disfigured by monstrous blunders”), he is reproducing pagan opinions upon the Bible. Compare the remarks of Sulpicius Severus, and the reasons which led him to compose his Chronicle of the World; also Augustine's Confess., iii. 5 (9). The correspondence between Paul and Seneca was fabricated in order to remove the obstacles occasioned by the poor style of Paul's letters in the Latin version (cp. my Litt. Geschichte, i., p. 765). Nor could Christianity in the West boast of writers whose work penetrated far into the general literature of the age, at a time when Origen and his pupils were forcing an entrance for themselves. Lactantius, whose evidence is above suspicion,660660No doubt he is anxious to bring out his own accomplishments. observes that in Latin society Christians were still considered “stulti” (Instit., v. 1 f.),661661Cp. on this the extremely instructive treatise “ad Paganos” in the pseudo-August. Quæst. in Vet. et Nov. Test., No. 114. Underlying it is the charge of stupidity levelled at Christians, who are about thirty times called “stulti.” The author naturally tries to prove that it is the pagans who are the stupid folk. and personally vouches for the lack of suitable and skilled teachers and authors; Minucius Felix and Tertullian could not secure “satis celebritatis,” whilst, for all his admirable qualities as a speaker and writer, Cyprian “is unable to satisfy those who are ignorant of all but the words of our religion, since his language is mystical and designed only for the ears of the faithful. In short, the learned of this world who chance to 380become acquainted with his writings are in the habit of deriding him. I myself once heard a really cultured person call him ‘Coprianus' [dung-man] by the change of a single letter in his name, as if he had bestowed on old wives' fables a polished intellect which was capable of better things” (placere ultra verba sacramentum ignorantibus non potest, quoniam mystica hunt quae locutus est et ad id praeparata, ut a solis fidelibus audiantur: denique a doctis huius saeculi, quibus forte scripta eius innotuerant, derideri solet. audivi ego quendam hominen1 sane disertum, qui eum immutata una litera ' Coprianum' vocaret, quasi quod elegans ingenium et melioribus rebus aptum ad aniles fabulas contulisset “).

In the Latin West, although Minucius Felix and Cyprian (ad Donatum) wrote in a well-bred style, Christian literature had but little to do with the spread of the Christian religion; in the East, upon the contrary, it became a factor of great importance from the third century onwards.

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