|« Prev||Melito and the Circumstances which he records.||Next »|
Chapter XXVI.—Melito and the Circumstances which he records.
those days also Melito,12761276 The first extant notice of Melito, bishop of Sardis, is found in
the letter addressed by Polycrates to Bishop Victor of Rome (c.
190–202 a.d.) in support of the
Quartodeciman practice of the Asia Minor churches. A fragment of this
letter is given by Eusebius in Bk. V. chap. 24, and from it we learn
that Melito also favored the Quartodeciman practice, that he was a man
whose walk and conversation were altogether under the influence of the
Holy Spirit, and that he was buried at Sardis. Polycrates in this
fragment calls Melito a eunuch. Whether the word is to be understood in
its literal sense or is to be taken as meaning simply that Melito lived
in “virgin continence” is disputed. In favor of the latter
interpretation may be urged the fact that the Greek word and its Latin
equivalent were very commonly used by the Fathers in this figurative
sense, e.g. by Athenagoras, by Tertullian, by Clement of Alexandria, by
Cassianus (whose work on continence bore the title περὶ
εὐνουχίας), by Jerome, Epiphanius, Chrysostom, Theodoret, Gregory
Nazianzen, &c. (see Smith and Wace’s Dict. of Christ.
Biog., article Melito, and Suicer’s Thesaurus).
On the other hand, such continence cannot have been a rare thing in
Asia Minor in the time of Polycrates, and the fact that Melito is
called specifically “the eunuch” looks peculiar if nothing
more than that is meant by it. The case of Origen, who made himself a
eunuch for the sake of preserving his chastity, at once occurs to us in
this connection (see Renan, L’eglise chret. p. 436, and
compare Justin Martyr’s Apol. I. 29). The canonical rule
that no such eunuch could hold clerical office came later, and hence
the fact that Melito was a bishop cannot be urged against the literal
interpretation of the word here. Polycrates’ meaning hardly
admits of an absolute decision, but at least it cannot be looked upon
as it is by most historians as certain that he uses the word here in
its figurative sense.
Polycrates says nothing of the fact that Melito was a writer, but we learn from this chapter (§4), and from Bk. VI. chap. 13, that Clement of Alexandria, in a lost work, mentioned his writings and even wrote a work in reply to one of his (see below, note 23). According to the present chapter he was a very prolific writer, and that he was a man of marked talent is clear from Jerome’s words in his de vir. ill. chap. 24 (where he refers to Tertullian’s lost work, de Ecstasi): Hujus [i.e. Melitonis] elegans et declamatorium ingenium Tertullianus in septem libris, quos scripsit adversus ecclesiam pro Montano, cavillatur, dicens eum a plerisque nostrorum prophetam putari. In spite of the fact that Tertullian satirized Melito’s talent, he nevertheless was greatly influenced by his writings and owed much to them (see the points of contact between the two men given by Harnack, p. 250 sqq.). The statement that he was regarded by many as a prophet accords well with Polycrates’ description of him referred to above. The indications all point to the fact that Melito was decidedly ascetic in his tendencies, and that he had a great deal in common with the spirit which gave rise to Montanism and even made Tertullian a Montanist, and yet at the same time he opposed Montanism, and is therefore spoken of slightingly by Tertullian. His position, so similar to that of the Montanists, was not in favor with the orthodox theologians of the third century, and this helps to explain why, although he was such a prolific and talented writer, and although he remained orthodox, he nevertheless passed almost entirely out of the memory of the Church of the third and following centuries. To this is to be added the fact that Melito was a chiliast; and the teachings of the Montanists brought such disrepute upon chiliasm that the Fathers of the third and following centuries did not show much fondness for those who held or had held these views. Very few notices of Melito’s works are found among the Fathers, and none of those works is to-day extant. Eusebius is the first to give us an idea of the number and variety of his writings, and he does little more than mention the titles, a fact to be explained only by his lack of sympathy with Melito’s views.
The time at which Melito lived is indicated with sufficient exactness by the fact that he wrote his Apology during the reign of Marcus Aurelius, but after the death of his brother Lucius, i.e. after 169 (see below, note 21); and that when Polycrates wrote his epistle to Victor of Rome, he had been dead already some years. It is possible (as held by Piper, Otto, and others) that his Apology was his last work, for Eusebius mentions it last in his list. At the same time, it is quite as possible that Eusebius enumerates Melito’s works simply in the order in which he found them arranged in the library of Cæsarea, where he had perhaps seen them. Of the dates of his episcopacy, and of his predecessors and successors in the see of Sardis, we know nothing.
In addition to the works mentioned in this chapter by Eusebius, who does not pretend to give a full list, we find in Anastasius Sinaita’s Hodegos seu dux viæ c. aceph. fragments from two other works entitled εἰς τὸ π€θος and περὶ σαρκώσεως χριστοῦ (the latter directed against Marcion), which cannot be identified with any mentioned by Eusebius (see Harnack, I. 1, p. 254). The Codex Nitriacus Musei Britannici 12,156 contains four fragments ascribed to Melito, of which the first belongs undoubtedly to his genuine work περὶ ψυχῆς καὶ σώματος, which is mentioned in this chapter by Eusebius. The second purports to be taken from a work, περὶ σταυροῦ, of which we hear nowhere else, and which may or may not have been by Melito. The third fragment bears the title Melitonis episcopi de fide, and might be looked upon as an extract from the work περὶ πίστεως, mentioned by Eusebius (as Otto regards it); but the same fragment is four times ascribed to Irenæus by other early authorities, and an analysis of these authorities shows that the tradition in favor of Irenæus is stronger than that in favor of Melito, and so Harnack mentions a work, περὶ πίστεως, which is ascribed by Maximus Confessor to Irenæus, and from which the quotation may have been taken (see Harnack, ibid. p. 266 ff.). The fourth fragment was taken in all probability from Melito’s work, περὶ π€θους, mentioned by Anastasius. An Apology in Syriac, bearing the name of Melito, is extant in another of the Nitrian mss. in the British Museum (No. 14,658), and has been published with an English translation by Cureton, in his Spic. Syr. (p. 41–51). It has been proved, however, that this Apology (which we have entire) was not written by Melito, but probably by an inhabitant of Syria, in the latter part of the second, or early part of the third century,—whether originally in the Greek or Syriac language is uncertain (see Harnack, p. 261 ff., and Smith and Wace, Vol. III. p. 895). In addition to the genuine writings, there must be mentioned also some spurious works which are still extant. Two Latin works of the early Middle Ages, entitled de transitu Mariæ and de passione S. Joannis Evangelistæ, and also a Catena of the latter Middle Ages on the Apocalypse, and a Clavis Scripturæ of the Carlovingian period (see below, note 18), bear in some mss. the name of Melito. This fact shows that Melito’s name was not entirely forgotten in the Occidental Church of the Middle Ages, though little exact knowledge of him seems to have existed.
On Melito and his writings, see Piper’s article in the Theol. Studien und Kritiken, 1838, p. 54–154; Salmon’s article in Smith and Wace, and especially Harnack’s Texte und Unters. I. 1, p. 240–278. The extant fragments of Melito’s writings are given in Routh’s Rel. Sac. I. 111–153, and in Otto’s Corp. Apol. IX. 374–478, and an English translation in the Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. VIII. p. 750–762. bishop of the parish in Sardis, and Apolinarius,12771277 On Apolinarius and his writings, see chap. 27. bishop of Hierapolis, enjoyed great distinction. Each of them on his own part addressed apologies in behalf of the faith to the above-mentioned emperor12781278 Marcus Aurelius. of the Romans who was reigning at that time.
2. The following works of these
writers have come to our knowledge. Of Melito,12791279 The following list of Melito’s works is at many points very
uncertain, owing to the various readings of the mss. and versions. We have as authorities for the text,
the Greek mss. of Eusebius, the History
of Nicephorus, the translation of Rufinus, chap. 24 of Jerome’s
de vir. ill., and the Syriac version of this passage of
Eusebius’ History, which has been printed by Cureton, in
his Spic. Syr. p. 56 ff. the two books On the Passover,12801280 The quotation from this work given by Eusebius in §7, perhaps
enables us to fix approximately the date at which it was written.
Rufinus reads Sergius Paulus, instead of Servilius Paulus, which is
found in all the Greek mss. Sergius Paulus is
known to have had his second consulship in 168, and it is inferred by
Waddington that he was proconsul about 164 to 166 (see Fastes des
provinces Asiatiques, chap. 2, §148). No Servilius Paulus is
known in connection with the province of Asia, and hence it seems
probable that Rufinus is correct; and if so, the work on the Passover
was written early in the sixties. The fragment which Eusebius gives in
this chapter is the only part of his work that is extant. It was
undoubtedly in favor of the Quartodeciman practice, for Polycrates, who
was a decided Quartodeciman, cites Melito in support of his
position. and 204one On the Conduct of Life and
the Prophets,12811281 The exact reading at this point is disputed. I read, with a number
of mss. τὸ περὶ
προφητῶν, making but one work, On the Conduct of Life and the
Prophets. Many mss. followed by Valesius,
Heinichen, and Burton, read τὰ instead of τό, thus making
either two works (one On the Conduct of Life, and the other
On the Prophets), or one work containing more than one book.
Rufinus translates de optima conversatione liber unus, sed et de
prophetis, and the Syriac repeats the preposition, as if it
προφητῶν. It is not quite certain whether Rufinus and the Syriac thought
of two works in translating thus, or of only one. Jerome translates,
de vita prophetarum librum unum, and in accordance with this
translation Otto proposes to read τῶν
προφητῶν instead of καὶ
προφητῶν. But this is supported by no ms.
authority, and cannot be accepted.
No fragments of this work are extant. the discourse On the Church,12821282 ὁ περὶ ἐκκλησίας. Jerome, de ecclesia librum unum. and one On the Lord’s Day,12831283 ὁ περὶ κυριακῆς λόγος. Jerome, de Die Dominica librum unum. still further one On the Faith of Man,12841284 Valesius, Otto, Heinichen, and other editors, following the majority of the mss., read περὶ φύσεως ἀνθρώπου, On the Nature of Man. Four important mss., however, read περὶ πίστεως ἀνθρώπου, and this reading is confirmed both by Rufinus and by the Syriac; whether by Jerome also, as claimed by Harnack, is uncertain, for he omits both this work and the one On the Obedience of Faith, given just below, and mentions a de fide librum unum, which does not occur in Eusebius’ list, and which may have arisen through mistake from either of the titles given by Eusebius, or, as seems more probable, may have been derived from the title of the work mentioned below, On the Creation and Generation of Christ, as remarked in note 15. If this supposition be correct, Jerome omits all reference to this work περὶ πίστεως ἀνθρώπου. The text of Jerome is unfortunately very corrupt at this point. In the present passage πίστεως is better supported by tradition than φύσεως, and at the same time is the more difficult reading, and hence I have adopted it as more probably representing the original. and one On his Creation,12851285 ὁ περὶ πλ€σεως. Jerome, de plasmate librum unum. another also On the Obedience of Faith, and one On the Senses;12861286 All the Greek mss. combine these two titles into one, reading ὁ περὶ ὑπακοῆς πίστεως αἰσθητηρίων: “On the subjection (or obedience) of the senses to faith.” This reading is adopted by Valesius, Heinichen, Otto, and others; but Nicephorus reads ὁ περὶ ὑπακοῆς πίστεως, καὶ ὁ περὶ αἰσθητηρίων, and Rufinus translates, de obedientia fidei, de sensibus, both of them making two works, as I have done in the text. Jerome leaves the first part untranslated, and reads only de sensibus, while the Syriac reproduces only the words ὁ περὶ ὑπακοῆς (or ἀκοῆς) πίστεως, omitting the second clause. Christophorsonus, Stroth, Zimmermann, Burton, and Harnack consequently read ὁ περὶ ὑπακοῆς πίστεως, ὁ περὶ αἰσθητηρίων, concluding that the words ὁ περὶ after πίστεως have fallen out of the Greek text. I have adopted this reading in my translation. besides these the work On the Soul and Body,12871287 A serious difficulty arises in connection with this title from the fact that most of the Greek mss. read ὁ περὶ ψυχῆς καὶ σώματος ἢ νοός, while the Syriac, Rufinus, and Jerome omit the ἢ νοός entirely. Nicephorus and two of the Greek mss. meanwhile read ἦν ἐν οἷς, which is evidently simply a corruption of ἢ νοός, so that the Greek mss. are unanimous for this reading. Otto, Crusè, and Salmon read καὶ νοός, but there is no authority for καὶ instead of ἤ, and the change cannot be admitted. The explanation which Otto gives (p. 376) of the change of ἤ to καὶ will not hold, as Harnack shows on p. 247, note 346. It seems to me certain that the words ἢ νοός did not stand in the original, but that the word νοός, (either alone or preceded by ἤ or καί) was written upon the margin by some scribe perhaps as an alternative to ψυχῆς, perhaps as an addition in the interest of trichotomy, and was later inserted in the text after ψυχῆς and σώματος, under the impression that it was an alternative title of the book. My reasons for this opinion are the agreement of the versions in the omission of νοός, the impossibility of explaining the ἢ before νοός in the original text, the fact that in the Greek mss., in Rufinus, and in the Syriac, the words καὶ περὶ ψυχῆς καὶ σώματος are repeated further down in the list,—a repetition which Harnack thinks was made inadvertently by Eusebius himself, and which in omitting νοός confirms the omission of it in the present case,—and finally, a fact which seems to me decisive, but which has apparently hitherto escaped notice, that the νοός, follows instead of precedes the σώματος, and thus breaks the logical order, which would certainly have been preserved in the title of a book. and that On Baptism,12881288 ὁ περὶ λουτροῦ; Jerome, de baptismate. and the one On Truth,12891289 Apolinarius (according to chap. 27) also wrote a work On Truth, and the place which it holds in that list, between an apologetical work addressed to the Greeks and one addressed to the Jews, makes it probable that it too bore an apologetic character, being perhaps devoted to showing that Christianity is pre-eminently the truth. Melito’s work on the same subject very likely bore a similar character, as suggested by Salmon. and On the Creation and Generation of Christ;12901290 Six mss., with Nicephorus, read κτίσεως, “creation,” but five mss., with the Syriac and Rufinus, and possibly Jerome, read πίστεως. The latter reading therefore has the strongest external testimony in its favor, but must be rejected (with Stroth, Otto, Heinichen, Harnack, etc.) as evidently a dogmatic correction of the fourth century, when there was an objection to the use of the word κτίσις in connection with Christ. Rufinus divides the one work On the Creation and Generation of Christ into two,—On Faith and On the Generation of Christ, and his prophecy, connecting the second with the next-mentioned work. Jerome omits the first clause entirely at this point, and translates simply de generatione Christi librum unum. The de fide, however, which he inserts earlier in his list, where there is no corresponding word in the Greek, may be the title which he omits here (see above, note 9), displaced, as the title de sensibus is also displaced. If this be true, he becomes with Rufinus and the Syriac a witness to the reading πίστεως instead of κτίσεως, and like Rufinus divides the one work of Eusebius into two. his discourse also On Prophecy,12911291 All the Greek mss. read καὶ λόγος αὐτοῦ περὶ προφητείας, which can rightly mean only “his work on Prophecy”; but Jerome translates de prophetia sua librum unum, and Rufinus de prophetia ejus, while the Syriac reads as if there stood in the Greek περὶ λόγου τῆς προφητείας αὐτοῦ. All three therefore connect the αὐτοῦ with the προφητείας instead of with the λόγος, which of course is much more natural, since the αὐτοῦ with the λόγος seems quite unnecessary at this point. The translation of the Syriac, Rufinus, and Jerome, however, would require περὶ προφητείας αὐτοῦ or περὶ τῆς αὐτοῦ προφητείας, and there is no sign that the αὐτοῦ originally stood in such connection with the προφητείας. We must, therefore, reject the rendering of these three versions as incorrect. and that On Hospitality;12921292 περὶ φιλοξενίας. After this title a few of the mss., with Rufinus and the Syriac, add the words καὶ περὶ ψυχῆς καὶ σώματος, a repetition of a title already given (see above, note 12). still further, The Key,12931293 ἡ κλείς; Jerome, et alium librum qui Clavis inscribitur. The word is omitted in the Syriac version. The nature of this work we have no means of determining. It is possible that it was a key to the interpretation of the Scriptures, designed to guide the reader in the study especially of the figures of the prophecies (cf. Otto, p. 401) and of the Apocalypse. Piper is right, however, in saying that it cannot have been intended to supply the allegorical meaning of Scripture words, like the extant Latin Clavis of Pseudo-Melito, mentioned just below; for Melito, who like Tertullian taught the corporeality of God, must have been very literal—not allegorical—in his interpretation of Scripture. A Latin work bearing the title Melitonis Clavis Sanctæ Scripturæ was mentioned by Labbe in 1653 as contained in the library of Clermont College, and after years of search was recovered and published by Pitra in 1855 in his Spicileg. Solesm. Vols. II. and III. He regarded the work as a translation, though with interpolations, of the genuine κλείς of Melito, but this hypothesis has been completely disproved (see the article by Steitz in the Studien und Kritiken, 1857, p. 184 sqq.), and the work has been shown to be nothing more than a mediæval dictionary of allegorical interpolations of Scripture, compiled from the Latin Fathers. There is, therefore, no trace extant of Melito’s Key. and the books On the Devil and the Apocalypse of John,12941294 All the Greek mss. read καὶ τὰ περὶ τοῦ διαβόλου, καὶ τῆς ἀποκαλύψεως ᾽Ιω€ννου, making but one work, with two or more books, upon the general subject, The Devil and the Apocalypse of John. The Syriac apparently agrees with the Greek in this respect (see Harnack, p. 248, note 350); but Jerome and Rufinus make two works, the latter reading de diabolo librum unum, de Apocalypsi Joannis librum unum. Origen, in Psalm. III. (ed. Lommatzsch, XI. p. 411), says that Melito treated Absalom as a type of the devil warring against the kingdom of Christ. It has been conjectured that the reference may be to this work of Melito’s, and that reference is an argument for the supposition that Melito treated the devil and the Apocalypse in one work (cf. Harnack, p. 248, and Smith and Wace, p. 898). and the work On the Corporeality of God,12951295 ὁ περὶ ἐνσωμ€του θεοῦ. Jerome does not translate this phrase, but simply gives the Greek. Rufinus renders de deo corpore induto, thus understanding it to refer to the incarnation of God, and the Syriac agrees with this rendering. But as Harnack rightly remarks, we should expect, if this were the author’s meaning, the words περὶ ἐνσωματώσεως θεοῦ, or rather λόγου. Moreover, Origen (Selecta in Gen. I. 26; Lommatzsch, VIII. p. 49) enumerates Melito among those who taught the corporeality of God, and says that he had written a work περὶ τοῦ ἐνσώματον εἶναι τὸν θεόν. It is possible, of course, that he may not have seen Melito’s work, and that he may have misunderstood its title and have mistaken a work on the incarnation for one on the corporeality of God; but this is not at all likely. Either he had read the book, and knew it to be upon the subject he states, or else he knew from other sources that Melito believed in the corporeality of God, and hence had no doubt that this work was upon that subject. There is no reason in any case for doubting the accuracy of Origen’s statement, and for hesitating to conclude that the work mentioned by Eusebius was upon the corporeality of God. The close relationship existing between Melito and Tertullian has already been referred to, and this fact furnishes confirmation for the belief that Melito held God to be corporeal, for we know Tertullian’s views on that subject. Gennadius (de eccles. dogmat. chap. 4) classes Melito and Tertullian together, as both teaching a corporeality in the Godhead. What was the source of his statement, and how much dependence is to be put upon it, we cannot say, but it is at least a corroboration of the conclusion already reached. We conclude then that Rufinus and the Syriac were mistaken in their rendering, and that this work discussed the corporeality, not the incarnation, of God. and finally the book ad205dressed to Antoninus.12961296 ἐπὶ πᾶσι καὶ τὸ πρὸς ᾽Αντωνῖνον βιβλίδιον βιβλίδιον (libellus) was the technical name for a petition addressed to the emperor, and does not imply that the work was a brief one, as Piper supposes. The Apology is mentioned also in chap. 13, above, and at the beginning of this chapter. Jerome puts it first in his list, with the words: Melito Asianus, Sardensis episcopus, librum imperatori M. Antonini Vero, qui Frontonis oratoris discipulus fuit, pro christiano dogmate dedit. This Apology is no longer extant, and we have only the fragments which Eusebius gives in this chapter. As remarked in note 1, above, the extant Syriac Apology is not a work of Melito’s. The Apology is mentioned in Jerome’s version of the Chron., and is assigned to the tenth year of Marcus Aurelius, 120 a.d. The notice is omitted in the Armenian, which, however, assigns to the eleventh year of Marcus Aurelius the Apology of Apolinarius, which is connected with that of Melito in the Ch. Hist. Moreover, a notice of the Apology is given by Syncellus in connection with the tenth year of Marcus Aurelius, and also by the Chron. Pasch.; so that it is not improbable that Eusebius himself mentioned it in his Chron., and that its omission in the Armenian is a mistake (as Harnack thinks likely). But though the notice may thus have been made by Eusebius himself, we are nevertheless not at liberty to accept the date given as conclusive. We learn from the quotations given by Eusebius that the work was addressed to the emperor after the death of Lucius Verus, i.e. after the year 169. Whether before or after the association of Commodus with his father in the imperial power, which took place in 176, is uncertain; but I am inclined to think that the words quoted in §7, below, point to a prospective rather than to a present association of Commodus in the empire, and that therefore the work was written between 169 and 176. It must be admitted, however, that we can say with certainty only that the work was written between 169 and 180. Some would put the work at the beginning of those persecutions which raged in 177, and there is much to be said for this. But the dates of the local and minor persecutions, which were so frequent during this period, are so uncertain that little can be based upon the fact that we know of persecutions in certain parts of the empire in 177. Piper, Otto, and others conclude from the fact that the Apology is mentioned last by Eusebius that it was Melito’s latest work; but that, though not at all unlikely, does not necessarily follow (see above, note 1).
3. In the books On the Passover he indicates the time at which he wrote, beginning with these words: “While Servilius Paulus was proconsul of Asia, at the time when Sagaris suffered martyrdom, there arose in Laodicea a great strife concerning the Passover, which fell according to rule in those days; and these were written.”12971297 A Sagaris, bishop and martyr, and probably the same man, is mentioned by Polycrates in his epistle to Victor (Euseb. V. 24) as buried in Laodicea. This is all we know of him. The date of his martyrdom, and of the composition of the work On the Passover, depends upon the date of the proconsulship of Servilius (or Sergius) Paulus (see above, note 5). The words ἐμπέσοντος κατὰ καιρόν have unnecessarily caused Salmon considerable trouble. The words κατὰ καιρόν mean no more than “properly, regularly, according to appointment or rule,” and do not render ἐκείναις ταῖς ἡμέραις superfluous, as he thinks. The clause καὶ ἐγρ€φη ταῦτα (“and these were written”) expresses result,—it was in consequence of the passover strife that Melito wrote this work.
4. And Clement of Alexandria refers to this work in his own discourse On the Passover,12981298 This work of Clement’s, On the Passover, which he says he wrote on occasion of Melito’s work, was clearly written in reply to and therefore against the work of Melito, not as a supplement to it, as Hefele supposes (Conciliengesch. I. 299). The work of Clement (which is mentioned by Eusebius, VI. 13, in his list of Clement’s writings) is no longer extant, but some brief fragments of it have been preserved (see Bk. VI. chap. 13, note 8). which, he says, he wrote on occasion of Melito’s work.
5. But in his book addressed to the emperor he records that the following events happened to us under him: “For, what never before happened,12991299 This statement of Melito’s is a very remarkable one. See chap. 8, note 14. the race of the pious is now suffering persecution, being driven about in Asia by new decrees. For the shameless informers and coveters of the property of others, taking occasion from the decrees, openly carry on robbery night and day, despoiling those who are guilty of no wrong.” And a little further on he says: “If these things are done by thy command, well and good. For a just ruler will never take unjust measures; and we indeed gladly accept the honor of such a death.
6. But this request alone we present to thee, that thou wouldst thyself first examine the authors of such strife, and justly judge whether they be worthy of death and punishment, or of safety and quiet. But if, on the other hand, this counsel and this new decree, which is not fit to be executed even against barbarian enemies, be not from thee, much more do we beseech thee not to leave us exposed to such lawless plundering by the populace.”
7. Again he adds the following:13001300 The resemblance between this extract from Melito’s Apology and the fifth chapter of Tertullian’s Apology is close enough to be striking, and too close to be accidental. Tertullian’s chapter is quite different from this, so far as its arrangement and language are concerned, but the same thought underlies both: That the emperors in general have protected Christianity; only Nero and Domitian, the most wicked of them, have persecuted it; and that Christianity has been a blessing to the reigns of all the better emperors. We cannot doubt that Tertullian was acquainted with Melito’s Apology, as well as with others of his works. “For our philosophy formerly flourished among the Barbarians; but having sprung up among the nations under thy rule, during the great reign of thy ancestor Augustus, it became to thine empire especially a blessing of auspicious omen. For from that time the power of the Romans has grown in greatness and splendor. To this power thou hast succeeded, as the desired possessor,13011301 εὐκταῖος and such shalt thou continue with thy son, if thou guardest the philosophy which grew up with the empire and which came into existence with Augustus; that philosophy which thy ancestors also honored along with the other religions.
8. And a most convincing proof that our doctrine flourished for the good of an empire happily begun, is this—that there has no evil happened since Augustus’ reign, but that, on the contrary, all things have been splendid and glorious, in accordance with the prayers of all.
9. Nero and Domitian, alone, persuaded by certain calumniators, have wished to slander our doctrine, and from them it has come to pass that the falsehood13021302 The reference here seems to be to the common belief that the Christians were responsible for all the evils which at any time happened, such as earthquakes, floods, famines, etc. has been 206handed down, in consequence of an unreasonable practice which prevails of bringing slanderous accusations against the Christians.13031303 ἀφ᾽ ὧν καὶ τὸ τῆς συκοφαντίας ἀλόγῳ συνηθεί& 139· περὶ τοὺς τοιούτους ῥυῆναι συμβέβηκε ψεῦδος. The sentence is a difficult one and has been interpreted in various ways, but the translation given in the text seems to me best to express the writer’s meaning.
10. But thy pious fathers corrected their ignorance, having frequently rebuked in writing13041304 ἐγγρ€φως: i.e. in edicts or rescripts. many who dared to attempt new measures against them. Among them thy grandfather Adrian appears to have written to many others, and also to Fundanus,13051305 This epistle to Fundanus is given in chap. 9, above. Upon its genuineness, see chap. 8, note 14. the proconsul and governor of Asia. And thy father, when thou also wast ruling with him, wrote to the cities, forbidding them to take any new measures against us; among the rest to the Larissæans, to the Thessalonians, to the Athenians, and to all the Greeks.13061306 On these epistles of Antoninus Pius, see chap. 13, note 9. These ordinances to the Larissæans, Thessalonians, Athenians, and all the Greeks, are no longer extant. What their character must have been is explained in the note just referred to.
11. And as for thee,—since thy opinions respecting the Christians13071307 περὶ τούτων. are the same as theirs, and indeed much more benevolent and philosophic,—we are the more persuaded that thou wilt do all that we ask of thee.” These words are found in the above-mentioned work.
12. But in the Extracts13081308 ἐν
ἐκλογαῖς. Jerome speaks of this work as ᾽Εκλογῶν, libros sex. There are no fragments of it extant
except the single one from the preface given here by Eusebius. The
nature of the work is clear from the words of Melito himself. It was a
collection of testimonies to Christ and to Christianity, drawn from the
Old Testament law and prophets. It must, therefore, have resembled
closely such works as Cyprian’s Testimonia, and the
Testimonia of Pseudo-Gregory, and other anti-Jewish works, in
which the appeal was made to the Old Testament—the common ground
accepted by both parties—for proof of the truth of Christianity.
Although the Eclogæ of Melito were not anti-Jewish in their
design, their character leads us to classify them with the general
class of anti-Jewish works whose distinguishing mark is the use of Old
Testament prophecy in defense of Christianity (cf. the writer’s
article on Christian Polemics against the Jews, in the Pres.
Review, July, 1888, and also the writer’s Dialogue between
a Christian and a Jew, entitled ᾽Αντιβολὴ
New York, 1889).
On the canon which Melito gives, see Bk. III. chap. 10, note 1. made by him the same writer gives at the beginning of the introduction a catalogue of the acknowledged books of the Old Testament, which it is necessary to quote at this point. He writes as follows:
13. “Melito to his brother Onesimus,13091309 This Onesimus is an otherwise unknown person. greeting: Since thou hast often, in thy zeal for the word, expressed a wish to have extracts made from the Law and the Prophets concerning the Saviour and concerning our entire faith, and hast also desired to have an accurate statement of the ancient book, as regards their number and their order, I have endeavored to perform the task, knowing thy zeal for the faith, and thy desire to gain information in regard to the word, and knowing that thou, in thy yearning after God, esteemest these things above all else, struggling to attain eternal salvation.
14. Accordingly when I went East and came to the place where these things were preached and done, I learned accurately the books of the Old Testament, and send them to thee as written below. Their names are as follows: Of Moses, five books: Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus,13101310 Some mss., with Rufinus, place Leviticus before Numbers, but the best mss., followed by Heinichen, Burton, and others, give the opposite order. Deuteronomy; Jesus Nave, Judges, Ruth; of Kings, four books; of Chronicles, two; the Psalms of David,13111311 ψαλμῶν Δαβίδ. Literally, “of the Psalms of David” [one book]. the Proverbs of Solomon, Wisdom also,13121312 ἣ καὶ Σοφία: i.e. the Book of Proverbs (see above, p. 200). Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Job; of Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah; of the twelve prophets, one book13131313 Literally, “in one book” (τῶν δώδεκα ἐν μονοβίβλῳ).; Daniel, Ezekiel, Esdras.13141314 ῎Εσδρας: the Greek form of the Hebrew name עֶזְרָא, Ezra. Melito refers here to the canonical Book of Ezra, which, among the Jews, commonly included our Ezra and Nehemiah (see Bk. III. chap. 10, note 1). From which also I have made the extracts, dividing them into six books.” Such are the words of Melito.
|« Prev||Melito and the Circumstances which he records.||Next »|