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§ 51. Chronology of the Popes.


I. Sources.


The principal sources for the obscure chronology of the early bishops of Rome are the catalogues of popes. These are divided into two classes, the oriental or Greek, and the occidental or Latin. To the first belong the lists of Hegesippus and Irenaeus, from the second century, that of Eusebius (in his Chronicle, and his Church History), and his successors from the fourth century and later. This class is followed by Lipsius and Harnack. The second class embraces the catalogues of Augustin (Ep. 55, al. 165), Optatus of Mileve (De schism. Donat. II. 3), the "Catalogus Liberianus" (coming down to Liberius, 354), the "Catalogus Felicianus" (to 530), the "Catalogus Cononianus," based perhaps on the "Catalogus Leoninus" (to 440), the "Liber Pontificalis" (formerly supposed to be based on the preceding catalogues, but according to the Abbé Duchesne and Waitz, older than the "Liber Felicianus"). The "Liber Pontif." itself exists in different MSS., and has undergone many changes. It is variously dated from the fifth or seventh century.

To these may be added the "Martyrologia" and "Calendaria" of the Roman Church, especially the "Martyrologium Hieronymianum," and the "Martyrologium Romanum parvum" (both of the seventh or eighth century).

The inscriptions on the papal tombs discovered in Rome since 1850, contain names and titles, but no dates.

On the "Catalogus Liberianus," see especially the critical essay of Mommsen "Ueber de Chronographen des Jahres 354," in the "Transactions of the Royal Saxon Society of Sciences," Philos. histor. Section, vol. I. (1850), p. 631 sqq. The text of the Catalogue is given, p. 634–’37, and by Lipsius, Chronologie der röm. Bischöfe, Append. p. 265–268. The oldest MSS. of the "Liber Pontificalis" date from the seventh and eighth centuries, and present a text of a.d. 641, but with many variations. "Mit wahrer Sicherheit," says Waitz, "gelangen wir in der Geschichte des Papsthums nicht über das 7te Jahrhundert hinauf."


II. Works.


Phil. Jaffé: Regesta Pontificum Romanorum ab condita ecclesia ad Ann. 1198. Berolini 1851, ed. secunda correcta et aucta auspiciis Gul. Wattenbach. Lips. 1881 sqq. Continued by Potthast from 1198–1304, and supplemented by Harttung (Bd. I. a.d. 748–1198, Gotha 1880).

R A. Lipsius: Chronologie der Röm. Bischöfe bis zur Mitte des 4ten Jahrh. Kiel, 1869. Comp. Hort’s review of this book in the "Academy" for Sept. 15, 1871. Lipsius: Neue Studien zur Papstchronologie, in the "Jahrbücher für Protest. Theol." Leipz. 1880 (pp. 78–126 and 233–307). Lipsius denies that Peter ever was at Rome.

Abbé L. Duchesne: Étude sur le Liber Pontificalis. Paris, 1887. La date et les recensions du Liber Pontificalis. 1879. Le Liber Pontificalis. Texte, introduction et commentaire. Paris, 1884 and 1889, 2 vols. 4° (with facsimiles).

Adolf Harnack: Die Zeit des Ignatiusund die Chronologie der antiochenischen Bischöfe bis Tyrannus, Leipz. 1878 (p. 73).

G. Waitz: UEber die verschiedenen Texte des Liber Pontificalis, in the "Archiv der Gesellschaft für ältere deutsche Geschichtskunde," IV; and his review of Duchesne, and Lipsius, in H. v. Sybel’s "Histor. Zeitschrift" for 1880, p. 135 sqq.


The oldest links in the chain of Roman bishops are veiled in impenetrable darkness. Tertullian and most of the Latins (and the pseudo-Clementina), make Clement (Phil. 4:3), the first successor of Peter;229229    Or at least the first appointed by Peter. Tertullian De Praescr. HaeR.C. 32 "Romanorum Clementem a Petro ordinatum." The Apost. Const. VII. 6 make Linus (Comp. 2 Tim. 4:21) the first bishop, appointed by Paul, Clement the next, appointed by Peter. According to Epiphanius (Haer. XXVII. 6) Clement was ordained by Peter, but did not enter upon his office till after the death of Linus and Anacletus.28 but Irenaeus, Eusebius, and other Greeks, also Jerome and the Roman Catalogue, give him the third place, and put Linus (2 Tim. 4:21), and Anacletus (or Anincletus), between him and Peter.230230    The Catalogue of Irenaeus (Adv. Haer. III. 3, 3) down to his own time (a.d. 177) is this: The apostles Peter and Paul, Linos, Anacletos, Clement, Evaristus, Alexander, Xystos, Telesphoros, who died gloriously as a martyr, Hyginos, Pios, Aniketos, Soter, Eleutheros, who then held "the inheritance of the episcopate in the twelfth place from the apostles." Irenaeus adds: "In this order and by this succession, the ecclesiastical tradition from the apostles and the preaching of the truth have come down to us."29 In some lists Cletus is substituted for Anacletus, in others the two are distinguished. Perhaps Linus and Anacletus acted during the life time of Paul and Peter as assistants or presided only over one part of the church, while Clement may have had charge of another branch; for at that early day, the government of the congregation composed of Jewish and Gentile Christian elements was not so centralized as it afterwards became. Furthermore, the earliest fathers, with a true sense of the distinction between the apostolic and episcopal offices, do not reckon Peter among the bishops of Rome at all; and the Roman Catalogue in placing Peter in the line of bishops, is strangely regardless of Paul, whose independent labors in Rome are attested not only by tradition, but by the clear witness of his own epistles and the book of Acts.

Lipsius, after a laborious critical comparison of the different catalogues of popes, arrives at the conclusion that Linus, Anacletus, and Clement were Roman presbyters (or presbyter-bishops in the N. T. sense of the term), at the close of the first century, Evaristus and Alexander presbyters at the beginning of the second, Xystus I. (Latinized: Sixtus), presbyter for ten years till about 128, Telesphorus for eleven years, till about 139, and next successors diocesan bishops.231231    Langen (l. c .p. 100 sqq.) carries the line of Roman presbyter-bishops down to Alexander, and dates the monarchical constitution of the Roman church (i.e. the diocesan episcopacy) from the age of Trajan or Hadrian. Irenaeus (in Euseb. V. 27) calls the Roman bishops down to Anicetus (154) πρεσβύτεροι.30

It must in justice be admitted, however, that the list of Roman bishops has by far the preeminence in age, completeness, integrity of succession, consistency of doctrine and policy, above every similar catalogue, not excepting those of Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, and Constantinople; and this must carry great weight with those who ground their views chiefly on external testimonies, without being able to rise to the free Protestant conception of Christianity and its history of development on earth.



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