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§ 180. Hegesippus.


(I.) Euseb. H. E. II. 23; III. 11, 16, 19, 20, 32; IV. 8, 22. Collection of fragments in Grabe, Spicil. II. 203–214; Routh, Reliq. S. I. 205–219; Hilgenfeld, in his "Zeitschrift für wissenschaftliche Theol." 1876 and 1878.

(II.) The Annotationes in Heges. Fragm. by Routh, I. 220–292 (very valuable). Donaldson: L. c. III. 182–213. Nösgen: Der Kirchl. Standpunkt des Heg. in Brieger’s "Zeitschrift für Kirchengesch." 1877 (p. 193–233). Against Hilgenfeld. Zahn: Der griech. Irenaeusund der ganze Hegesippus im 16ten Jahr., ibid. p. 288–291. H. Dannreuther: Du Témoignage d’Hégésippe sur l’église chrétienne au deux premiers siècles. Nancy 1878. See also his art. in Lichtenberger’s "Encycl." vi. 126–129. Friedr. Vogel: De Hegesippo, qui dicitur, Josephi interprete. Erlangen 1881. W. Milligan: Hegesippus, in Smith and Wace II. (1880) 875–878. C. Weizsäcker: Hegesippus, in Herzog2 V. 695–700. Caspari: Quellen, etc., III. 345–348.

The orthodoxy of Hegesippus has been denied by the Tübingen critics, Baur, Schwegler, and, more moderately by Hilgenfeld, but defended by Dorner, Donaldson, Nösgen, Weizsäcker, Caspari and Milligan.


Contemporary with the Apologists, though not of their class, were Hegesippus (d. about 180), and Dionysius of Corinth (about 170).

Hegesippus was an orthodox Jewish Christian13851385    Eusebius (iv. 22) expressly calls him "a convert from the Hebrews, " and this is confirmed by the strongly Jewish coloring of his account of James, quoted in full, vol. I. 276 sq. He was probably from Palestine.385 and lived during the reigns of Hadrian, Antoninus, and Marcus Aurelius. He travelled extensively through Syria, Greece, and Italy, and was in Rome during the episcopate of Anicetus. He collected "Memorials"13861386    Ὑπομνήματα, or Συγγάμματα, in five books.386 of the apostolic and post-apostolic churches. He used written sources and oral traditions. Unfortunately this work which still existed in the sixteenth century,13871387    In the library of the convent of St. John at Patmos. See Zahn, l. c.387 is lost, but may yet be recovered. It is usually regarded as a sort of church history, the first written after the Acts of St. Luke. This would make Hegesippus rather than Eusebius "the father of church history." But it seems to have been only a collection of reminiscences of travel without regard to chronological order (else the account of the martyrdom of James would have been put in the first instead of the fifth book.) He was an antiquarian rather than a historian. His chief object was to prove the purity and catholicity of the church against the Gnostic heretics and sects.

Eusebius has preserved his reports on the martyrdom of St. James the Just, Simeon of Jerusalem, Domitian’s inquiry for the descendants of David and the relatives of Jesus, the rise of heresies, the episcopal succession, and the preservation of the orthodox doctrine in Corinth and Rome. These scraps of history command attention for their antiquity; but they must be received with critical caution. They reveal a strongly Jewish type of piety, like that of James, but by no means Judaizing heresy. He was not an Ebionite, nor even a Nazarene, but decidedly catholic. There is no trace of his insisting on circumcision or the observance of the law as necessary to salvation. His use of "the Gospel according to the Hebrews" implies no heretical bias. He derived all the heresies and schisms from Judaism. He laid great stress on the regular apostolic succession of bishops. In ever city he set himself to inquire for two things: purity of doctrine and the unbroken succession of teachers from the times of the apostles. The former depended in his view on the latter. The result of his investigation was satisfactory in both respects. He found in every apostolic church the faith maintained. "The church of Corinth," he says, "continued in the true faith, until Primus was bishop there [the predecessor of Dionysius], with whom I had familiar intercourse, as I passed many days at Corinth, when I was about sailing to Rome, during which time we were mutually refreshed in the true doctrine. After coming to Rome, I stayed with Anicetus, whose deacon was Eleutherus. After Anicetus, Soter succeeded, and after him Eleutherus. In every succession, however, and in every city, the doctrine prevails according to what is announced by the law and the prophets and the Lord."13881388    Euseb. IV. 22.388 He gives an account of the heretical corruption which proceeded from the unbelieving Jews, from Thebuthis and Simon Magus and Cleobius and Dositheus, and other unknown or forgotten names, but "while the sacred choir of the apostles still lived, the church was undefiled and pure, like a virgin, until the age of Trajan, when those impious errors which had so long crept in darkness ventured forth without shame into open daylight."13891389    Ibid. III. 32. This passage has been used by Baur and his school as an argument against the Pastoral and other apostolic epistles which warn against the Gnostic heresy, but it clearly teaches that its open manifestation under Trajan was preceded by its secret working as far back as Simon Magus. Hegesippus, therefore, only confirms the N. T. allusions, which likewise imply a distinction between present beginnings and future developments of error.389 He felt perfectly at home in the Catholic church of his day which had descended from, or rather never yet ascended the lofty mountain-height of apostolic knowledge and freedom. And as Hegesippus was satisfied with the orthodoxy of the Western churches, so Eusebius was satisfied with the orthodoxy of Hegesippus, and nowhere intimates a doubt.



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