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§ II. Mission of the other Apostles during this period.169169See Fabricius, "Salutaris lux Evangelii toto orbi oriens," Hamburg, 1731, pp. 94, 95. Eusebius is here the principal source of our information. Nicephorus Callixtus, in the second book of his "Ecclesiastical History," supplies us with some authentic information. (Nicephori Callixti, "Ecclesiasticæ Historiæ," Libri XVIII.) The sort of romance of Abdias on the apostolic age has no kind of value. (Abdiæ, "Babylonæ Episcopi de Historia certaminis apostolici," Libri X. Edidit Wolfgangus Lazius, 1552.) It is a collection of absurd fables, with a strong monkish coloring. The Apostles are there made to celebrate mass, and preach sermons with three heads, before undergoing the most barbarous tortures. These absurd narratives have as their basis the "Acta Apostolorum Apocrypha." (Tischendorf edition, Lipsiæ, 1851.) See Thilo, "Codex Apocryphus N. Test.," Lipsiæ, 1833, and the "Codex Apocryphus" of Fabricius. We shall make much use of these writings when we presently trace the history of oral tradition in the second century. The "Acta Canctorum," and too often the "Memoires" of Tillemont, reproduce all these fables.
While Paul was carrying the Gospel from Asia Minor into Europe, and to the very center of Western 205paganism, the other Apostles were not inactive in the field of Christian missions. We possess few certain details of their labors. We only get glimpses of them through the prismatic lens of legend. It is, however, possible to make out, beneath the capricious adornments of fable, some positive facts of their history, which present traits of indisputable accuracy. There is no evidence that the Apostles, with the exception of Peter and Paul, took all the part in the primitive missions which is ascribed to them by the Church of the third century. The Episcopal notions of that age have colored the history of the first century. Just as to St. Peter was attributed the foundation and government of the Church at Antioch, which, as we have seen, was formed without his assistance, so it is very possible that an attempt should have been made in later times to refer to the Apostles the propagation of the faith in countries where the weight of the labor really rested on simple evangelists. We must, therefore, accept with reserve the testimony of historians, and never forget that their conception of the apostolate is not in all points identical with that of the primitive Church. They regard the 206 Apostles as true metropolitan bishops, and cannot suppose a Church founded without their participation.
After the Council at Jerusalem, the Apostles disperse to meet no more. James, the brother of the Lord, continues to exercise paramount influence over the Church of that city; the holiness of his life, the form of his piety, the largeness of heart with which he fulfills his mission of conciliation, all contribute to strengthen it. Far from appearing as an adversary of Paul, James welcomes him, on his last visit to Jerusalem, with brotherly affection, and advises him to join himself to those Christian Jews who were about to fulfill in the Temple the vow of the Nazarite. We have no further details of his life from this time till his martyrdom; but we possess his epistle, from which we shall presently gather his doctrine. In it we shall find faithfully reproduced all the traits of his noble character—his piety, at once scrupulous and elevated; his stern and practical spirit; and, in the oriental coloring of his language, the reflection of the old prophets of Israel.
Jude, the brother of James, and consequently of the Lord, also took an active part in the propagation of the Christian faith. It is not possible to determine from his epistle what was the principal sphere of his work. It may, however, be inferred, from his vehement denunciation of false teachers, that he had come in contact with the heretics of the Churches of Colosse and Ephesus, and that he resided in the countries where the first germs of Gnosticism appeared.170170See Note M, at the end of the volume. History gives no exact statement with reference to the other Apostles. The various traditions, however, 207connected with their names, enable us to follow the track of the missionaries of the primitive Church. It is of far less importance for us to know their names, and to be sure that they were really apostles, than to verify their triumphs over the paganism of the East and West. Accepted with this precaution, tradition sheds light upon the path of apostolic missions.
Paul, in his rapid journeys through Asia, could not have preached the Gospel to all the inhabitants of those wide regions. He had succeeded in founding, in a short space of time, important Churches, but these were surrounded by unbelieving and superstitious masses. It was, therefore, very necessary that the missions of the other Apostles should occupy, to some extent, the same ground gone over by him. According to the testimony of tradition, Cappadocia, Galatia, and Bithynia were evangelized by the Apostle Andrew, Peter's brother.171171Niceph., "Hist. Eccl.," ii, 39. He is said to have also penetrated into Scythia, and thence into Thrace and Macedonia.172172Euseb., "Hist. Eccl.," iii, 1.
The Churches of Colosse, Laodicea, and Hierapolis, founded by Epaphras and St. Paul in Phrygia, shed abroad the pure light of truth in that classic land of superstition. But the epistles of the Apostles themselves show how severely the triumph of Christianity was there contested. The work begun had to be constantly renewed; therefore, the Apostle Philip went to settle in that country. He took up his abode at Hierapolis with his daughters, one of whom had the gift of prophecy.173173Nicephorus, "Hist. Eccles.," ii, 39. Ὅς κεκοίμηται ἐν Ἰεραπὸλει. (Eusebius, v. 24.) According to Eusebius, two of Philip's daughters continued virgins; while, according to Clement of Alexandria, they married. ("Stromat.," iii, 6.) Perhaps Eusebius confounded Philip the Apostle with Philip the Evangelist. His influence appears 208to have been great over the whole Church of Asia Minor.
The Christian mission does more than consolidate the work already commenced; it has an irresistible power of expansion. Matthew carries the divine message into Arabia; his Gospel was subsequently found in the language of that country.174174Ὁ Πάνταινος εἰς Ἰνδοὺς ἑλθὲιν λέγεται ἔνθα λόγος αὐτὸν εὑρὲιν τὸ κατὰ Ματθαῖον εὐαγγέλιον. (Eusebius, "Hist. Eccles.," v, 10.) Sophronimus understands by the Indians the inhabitants of Arabia Felix. (Fabricius, "Lux Salutaris," p. 104.) He is soon followed by Bartholomew and Nathanael, who had at first accompanied Philip into Phrygia.175175Eusebius, v, 10. Nicephorus (ii, 39) asserts that he had temples built in Asia; this gives us a measure of his historical value. Matthias devotes himself to Ethiopia;176176Nicephorus, ii, 40. The Ethiopian mission has been often ascribed to Matthew. His name might easily be confounded with Matthias. James, the son of Alphaeus, to Egypt. Simon Zelotes evangelizes Mauritania and Libya; he is said even to have visited Britain,177177Nicephorus, ii, 40. but this rests on the doubtful authority of Nicephorus. Mesopotamia is believed to have been traversed by Judas Thaddeus, who had his station at Edessa, where the new religion met with a very favorable reception.178178This is the origin of the legend about the correspondence between Jesus Christ and Abgarus, King of Edessa. (Eusebius, i, 13.) The extreme eastern point of the primitive mission seems to have been the western frontier of India. Thomas is supposed to have preached the Gospel in the district adjoining Parthia.179179Nicephorus (ii, 40) says of Thomas: Ὅς καὶ τὸν ἐπ᾽ Αἱθίοπίας και Ἰνδοὺς κλῆρον λαχὼν. Origen, according to Eusebius, (iii, 2,) ascribed the mission among the Parthians to Thomas; but their country bordered on India. The narrative of the missionary contemporary with Constantine is found in Philostorgius, iii, 4. 209 It is certain that very early traces of Christianity are found in India. In the time of Constantine, a missionary who returned from that country asserted that he had met with Christians professing evangelical doctrine in its most ancient form.
If we endeavor to derive from the tradition of the Church any thing more than these very general indications about the Apostles, we enter the vague region of fable. We know from Eusebius that Philip died at Hierapolis, and that his tomb was there to be seen.180180Eusebius, iii, 1. The apocryphal Acts of the Apostles are prolific in details of their sufferings. According to these legendary accounts, Andrew was sentenced to crucifixion by the Proconsul of Arabia, who was enraged at the conversion of his wife.181181"Acta Apost.," Tischendorf edition, p. 128. Matthew is said to have been burned;182182Ibid., p. 129. Thomas to have been pierced through with a lance;183183Ibid., p. 239. and Bartholomew beheaded.184184Ibid., p. 249. It is impossible to ascertain whether these traditions have any historical foundation. Be this as it may, it is certain that the first Christian missionaries in these remote countries fell in the midst of their enemies, and the obscurity of their death is the best guaranty of their heroic fidelity. "These lights of the world," eloquently says a distinguished theologian, "have disappeared from our sight, but we behold the world illuminated by them. 210 They sought not their own glory, but they are known to God; and thousands of souls saved by their word owe to them their entrance into heaven."185185Lange, Kirchen Geschichte, vol. ii, p. 403.
We have more precise information as to the life of St. Peter after the Council at Jerusalem. From that time, however, his part is as inconspicuous in actual history as it is brilliant in legend. Paul fills the whole scene. Nothing could give stronger proof of Peter's growth in humility than the fact of his consenting to take the second place, after having, more than any other, contributed to lay the foundation of the Church by his courage and energy. It is clear that he has come under the strong influence of Paul; of this his epistle is the surest evidence. Unless we repudiate all proof, external and internal, it is impossible not to admit that the good understanding between these two Apostles is no invention of the writer of the Acts. Peter, however, according to the agreement voluntarily made at the Council at Jerusalem, devoted himself almost exclusively to the preaching of the Gospel among his countrymen. He passed by the great Churches founded by Paul in Phrygia and Asia Minor,186186The Epistle of Peter, addressed to these Churches, does not prove, as has been asserted, that he was at their head. We need only to remember how strong was at this time the sense of Christian oneness. and chose as his center of action a city of once unrivaled celebrity—Babylon—where we find him shortly before his death. 1 Peter v, 13. According to Josephus, thousands of Jews had emigrated to that city.187187Josephus, "Ant.," XV, iii, 1. The Jewish colony in Babylonia must have been very important, since two strongholds were necessary for the safe keeping of 211the offerings destined for the Temple at Jerusalem, and an escort of several thousands guarded the sacred treasure as far as Judæa, lest it should fall into the hands of the Parthians.188188Josephus, "Ant.," XVIII, ix, 1. It is clear from these details given by the Jewish historian, that the synagogues of Babylonia continued in close connection with the religious center of their nation. After the destruction of Jerusalem, the rabbinical school of that country acquired very great influence. The Apostle Peter, therefore, found there a vast field of labor; he had an entire people to evangelize. The advocates of his primacy, in their eagerness to prove, at any price, that he resided at Rome during the greater part of his apostolic career, maintain that when in his Epistle he speaks of Babylon, he intends the mystic Babylon of the Apocalypse, or pagan Rome. But, in the first place, the Epistle of Peter was written before the Apocalypse and the persecution under Nero, that is to say, before the time when pagan Rome was to the Church what Babylon had been to the Jews of old. Up to this time the Christians had had much more to suffer from the Jews than from the Gentiles. It is worthy of remark, also, that the style of Peter in his Epistle is not raised to the lyric tone of ancient prophecy, and its conclusion is as simple as possible. There can, then, be no reason for attaching a far-fetched symbolic meaning to a designation perfectly clear in itself. Peter had succeeded in founding a Church at Babylon;189189This is the sense we attach to the words ἡ ἐν Βαβυλῶνι συνεκλεκτὴ. this Church had become a center of light to all the Jewish 212colony. Silas, one of the companions of Paul, joined Peter at Babylon, and the description given by him of the critical condition of the Churches in Asia Minor doubtless led the Apostle to address to them a letter of consolation.190190Baronius ("Annals," An. 45) gives the year 45 as the date of the Epistle of Peter; but it is evident that it was really written much later, for Silas was with Peter when he wrote, and Silas did not leave Paul till after his first journey into Europe, that is to say, after the year 52. Acts xviii, 18. Persecution was, in truth, imminent; like a violent tempest, it was giving precursive tokens of its approach, and it was well that words of earnest exhortation should be multiplied on the eve of so terrible a conflict. Peter pleaded with holy eloquence, magnifying, like Paul, the greatness and glory of Christian endurance, and himself preparing to seal with his blood his witness to the truth. In his Epistle we feel that he has reached that full maturity of the Christian life which is itself an anticipation of heaven. The power of the grace of God is magnified in the greatness of the change wrought in him. This hot and hasty man, who could one day draw his sword against Malchus and the next deny his Lord, now displays the patience and gentleness of his Master; this ignorant and prejudiced Jew has risen to the height of a broad and spiritual Christianity. The equilibrium of his nature has been restored, his zeal refined, his energy at once brought under control, and fortified against the weaknesses of the flesh. To use his own image, the pure gold has been tried in the fire, (1 Peter i, 7,) and, as we see the transformation in Peter's character, we feel that there is no nature so headstrong and rebellious that 213 its alloy cannot be purged by the process of the Divine Refiner.191191See Note I, at the end of the volume, on the Second Epistle of Peter.
Did Peter go from Babylon to Rome? This is a much disputed question. It is impossible to answer it with certainty, but we incline to a reply in the affirmative. It is very necessary to guard against party prepossessions. If an historian, wedded to the hierarchical theory, has an interest in proving the sojourn of Peter at Rome, an historian espousing opposite opinions may erroneously imagine he has an interest in showing the contrary. Both are therefore bound to weigh with scrupulous impartiality the testimony of Christian antiquity. For ourselves, we find it impossible to suppose that Peter was at Rome under Claudius and at the commencement of the reign of Nero. Besides the reasons we have already pointed out, we lay stress on the incontestable fact that the name of Peter does not once occur in the epistle written by Paul to the Romans, nor in any of the other letters of that Apostle dated from Rome. Admitting the hypothesis of Baronius and writers of his school, such an omission would be inexplicable; but, on the other hand, we are inclined to believe that Peter did spend the last year of his life at Rome. We fully admit the uncertainty and contradictoriness of tradition on this point. We do not attach much importance to the indirect allusion in the epistle of Clement.192192Clement, "Epistle to the Corinthians," c. v. The passage of Ignatius which refers to the martyrdom of Peter is apocryphal. His contest with Simon Magus, described in the "Apocryphal Acts," is obviously 214 legendary and absurd.193193"Acta Petri et Pauli," p. 1. Dyonisius, of Corinth, positively affirms Peter's sojourn at Rome; but his testimony is invalidated by a palpable error, for, against all historical evidence, he attributes to Peter a share in the foundation of the Church at Corinth,194194See the passage in Dyonisius: Ἄμφω (Πέτρος καὶ Παὺλος) καὶ εἰς τὴν ἡμετέραν Κόρινθον φυτεύσαντες ἡμᾶς, ὁμοίως ἐδίδαξαν· ὁμοίως δὲ καὶ εἰς τῆν Ἰταλίαν ὁμόσε διδάξαντες, ἑμαρτύρησαν κατὰ τὸν αὐτὸν καίρον. (Eusebius, "Hist. Eccles." ii, 25.) which, beyond question, was the work of Paul alone.
The fragment of the preaching of Peter, quoted by Cyprian, belongs to a document which, though very ancient, is nevertheless apocryphal.195195Cyprian, "De non iterando baptismo." Irenæus196196Τοῦ Πετροῦ καὶ τοῦ Παύλου ἐν Ρωμῃ εὐαγγελίζομενων. (Irenæus, "Adv. Hæres," iii, 1.) and Tertullian,197197"Ubi Petrus passioni dominicæ adæquatur." (Tertullian, "Præscript.," 36.) who both assert that Peter died at Rome, write at a period when many of the fables of the first century found ready currency. In spite, however, of all these errors of detail and absurd combinations, the unanimity of tradition as to Peter's stay at Rome appears to us of weight. It is so much the more worthy of credence, because several of the "Fathers"—for example, Tertullian and Irenæus—had no interest in establishing the primacy of the Bishop of Rome. We find, then, no difficulty in admitting that Peter passed the closing days of his life in the capital of the empire, and we see no conclusion deducible from this fact in favor of the hierarchy.198198The opposite opinion to that we have expressed is very fully stated in Blumhart's "History of the Establishment of Christianity." The Church of Rome had been founded many years before, and had long been molded by the powerful influence 215of Paul. Peter went to Rome to preach the Gospel, and he soon paid with his life the penalty of his faithfulness to Christ. He was never Bishop of Rome, and was not called to confer any episcopal dignity, for the simple reason that the old democratic organization of the Church was at that time, as we shall show, in full vigor. The influence of Peter at Rome was further diminished by his ignorance of the Latin tongue; for, according to Eusebius, Mark, who had accompanied him from Babylon, acted as his interpreter. From Rome, Mark went to Egypt, and a tradition, which there seems no reason to discredit, ascribes to him the foundation of the Church at Alexandria, which was subsequently to become the metropolis of high Christian culture.199199Eusebius, "Hist.," ii, 16. Εἰς τὴν Αλεξάνδριαν παῤῥησίᾳ τὸν Χριστὸν κηρύττων. (Nicephorus, ii, 44.)
Many legends are linked with the names of the other disciples of the Apostles, and to each has been assigned a large share in the missions of the first century; but it is absolutely impossible to discriminate between the false and the true in this medley of fable.200200See Fabricius, "Lux Evangelii," pp. 115-117. There is no need to have recourse to the embellishments of tradition, in order to bring out the grandeur of the apostolic labors. Unadorned history amply justifies these words of Eusebius: "The apostles and disciples of the Saviour, scattered over the whole world, preached the Gospel every-where."201201Eusebius, "Hist. Eccles.," iii, 1. The blessed light which had risen in the East was diffused over a large portion of the world.202202See in Fabricius a list of Churches founded in the apostolic age, pp. 83-92. "In thus establishing 216the kingdom of Jesus Christ," says Theodoret, "the Christians made use of no carnal weapons; they employed no other force than that of persuasive words to demonstrate the excellence of his divine laws. They fulfilled their missions in the midst of dangers, enduring violence and wrong of every description in the cities through which they passed, being scourged, tortured, cast into dungeons, subjected to every kind of suffering. But though the bearers of these divine laws might be killed, the laws themselves were deathless. They proved only the more potent after the death of those who promulgated them, and in spite of the resistance of the Romans and the barbarians, they continued in undiminished force; and from the graves in which the Romans sought to bury the memory of these fishermen and tent-makers, that memory sprang into new and nobler life."203203Οὐχ ὄπλοις χρησάμενοι ἀλλὰ πείθοντες. (Theodoret, "Therapeut. gent.," p. 115; "Opera," vol. iv, p. 610.)
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