« PreviousContinue »
this writer's supposing that the Nazarenes believed in the divinity of Christ, or indeed in the miraculous conception; much less with their having an origin subsequent to the times of the apostles. And he never mentions or hints at any change of opinion in the Nazarenes. : That Austin did not consider the Nazarenes in any favourable light, is evident from his calling them, in his answer to Jerome, heretics :.“ As to the opinion of those heretics, who, while they would be both Jews and Christians, can neither be Jews nor Christians," &c. * It is in these
It is in these very words that Jerome had characterized those whom he had called Nazarenes. What more could Austin have said of the Ebionites? Can it be supposed that he would have spoken of the Nazarenes in this manner, if he had thought them orthodox with respect to the doctrine of the Trinity; especially considering that it was in an age in which the greatest account was made of that doctrine; so that perfect sound. ness in that article might be supposed to have atoned for defects in other things ? That Jerome did not consider the Nazarenes as orthodox, even if he did make them to be different from the Ebionites, is evident from his calling them not Christians.
If we consider the general character of the Jewish Christians in the time of the apostles, and particularly how apt they were to be alarmed at the introduction of any thing that was new to them, and had the least appearance of contrariety to the law of Moses, it will both supply a strong argument in favour of the truth of Christianity, and against their receiving the doctrine of the divinity or pre-existence of Christ either then or afterwards. Their rooted prejudices against the apostle Paul, (whose conversion to Christianity must have given them great satisfaction,) merely on account of his activity in preaching the gospel to the uncircumcised Gentiles, (though with the approbation of the rest of the apostles,) shews that they would not receive any novelty without the strongest evidence. Their dislike of the apostle Paul, we know from ecclesiastical history, continued to the latest period of their existence as a church, and they would never make use of his writings. But to the very last, their objections to him amounted to nothing more than his being no friend to the law of Moses. ραιον καλεισθαι, ως και οι αποστολοι φασιν Ιησεν τον Ναζωραιον ανδρα, αποδεδειγμενον εν τε σημείοις και τερασι και τα εξης: τείο το ονομα επιτιθεασιν αυτοις, το καλεισθαι Ναζωραιες. Hær. xxix. Sect. v. Opera, I. p. 120. (P.)
* “ Quid putaverint hæretici, qui quum volunt et Judæi esse et Christiani, nec
Judapi esse ner Christiani essentierung
nera n. 75.
The resemblance between the character of the Ebionites, as given by the early Christian fathers, and that of the Jewish Christians at the time of Paul's last journey to Jerusalem, is very striking. After he had given an account of his conduct to the more intelligent of them, they were satisfied with it; but they thought there would be great difficulty in satisfying others.“ Thou seest, brother,” say they to him, ( Acts xxi. 20
-24,) “ how many thousands of Jews there are who believe, and they are all zealous of the law. And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses; saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs. What is it therefore? The multitudes must needs come together, for they will hear that thou art come. Do therefore this that we say unto thee: We have four men who have a vow on them ; them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads, and all may know that those things whereof they were informed concerning thee are nothing, but that thou thyself also walkest orderly and keepest the law.”. So great a resemblance in some things, viz. their attachment to the law, and their prejudices against Paul, cannot but lead us to imagine, that they were the same in other respects also, both being equally zealous observers of the law, and equally strangers to the doctrine of the divinity of Christ. In that age all the Jews were equally zealous for the great doctrine of the Unity of God, and their peculiar customs.
Can it be supposed, then, that they would so obstinately retain the one, and so readily abandon the other?
I have not met with any mention of more than one orthodox Jewish Christian in the course of my reading, and that is one whose name was Joseph, whom Epiphanius says he met with at Scythopolis, when all the other inhabitants of the place were Arians.
CHAPTER IX. Of the supposed Church of Orthodox Jews at Jerusalem,
subsequent to ihe Time of Adrian. Mosheim speaks of a church of Trinitarian Jews, who had abandoned the law of Moses, and resided at Jerusalem,
* Hær. xxx. Opera, I. p. 129. (P.)
subsequent to the time of Adrian. Origen, who asserts that all the Jewish Christians of his time conformed to the law of Moses, he says, must have known of this church ; and therefore he does not hesitate to tax him with asserting a wilful falsehood. Error was often ascribed to this great man by the late fathers, but never before, I believe, was his veracity called in question. And least of all can it be sup: posed, that he would have dared to assert a notorious untruth in a public controversy. He must have been a fool, as well as a knave, to have ventured upon it. **
Bodies of men do not suddenly change their opinions, and much less their customs and habits; least of all would an act of violence produce that effect; and of all mankind the experiment was the least likely to answer with the Jews. If it had produced any effect for a time, their old customs and habits would certainly have returned when the danger
It might just as well be supposed that all the Jews in Jerusalem began at that time to speak Greek, as well as that they abandoned their ancient customs. And this might have been alleged in favour of it, that from that time the bishops of Jerusalem were all Greeks, the public offices were, no doubt, performed in the Greek language, and the Church of Jerusalem was indeed, in all respects, as much a Greek Church as that of Antioch. †
Mosheim produces no authority in his Dissertations for his assertion. He only says, that he cannot reconcile the fact that Origen mentions, with his seeming unwillingness to allow the Ebionites to be Christians. But this is easily accounted for from the attachment which he himself had to the doctrine of the divinity of Christ, which they denied ; and from their holding no communion with other Christians.
All the appearance of authority that I can find in any ancient writer, of the Jewish Christians deserting the law of their ancestors, is in Sulpicius Severus, to whom I am referred by Mosheim in his History. But what he says on the subject is only what follows: “ At this time Adrian, thinking that he should destroy Christianity by destroying the place, erected the images of dæmons in the church, and in the place of our Lord's sufferings ; and because the Christians were thought to consist chiefly of Jews, (for then the church at Jerusalem had all its clergy of the circumcision,) ordered a cohort of soldiers to keep constant guard, and drive all Jews from any access to Jerusalem ; which was of service to the Christian faith. For at that time they almost all believed Christ to be God, but with the observance of the law; the Lord so disposing it, that the servitude of the law should be removed from the liberty of the faith and of the church. Then first was Marc, a Gentile, bishop at Jeru. salem.”* Here the historian says, that the object of Adrian was to overturn Christianity, and that the Jews were banished because the Christians were chiefly of that nation. Accord. ing to this account, all the Jews, Christians, as well as others, were driven out of Jerusalem, and nothing is said of any of them forsaking the law of Moses. Eusebius mentions the expulsion of the Jews from Jerusalem, but says not a word of any of the Christians there abandoning circumcision, and their other ceremonies, on that occasion. Indeed, such a thing was in the highest degree improbable. † Speaking of the desolation mentioned Isaiah vi., he says, that "it was fulfilled in the time of Adrian, when the Jews, undergoing a second siege, were reduced to such misery, that, by the imperial orders, they were not suffered even to see the desolation of their metropolis at a distance.”
See Vol YVILL
+ See bid n
t See ibid. Note t.
Independent of all natural probability, had Sulpicius Severus actually written all that Mosheim advances ; whether is it from this writer or from Origen that we are more likely to gain true information on this subject? Origen, writing in controversy, and of course subject to correction, appeals to a fact, as notorious in the country in which he himself resided, and in his own times, to which therefore he could not but have given particular attention. Whereas Sulpicius Severus lived in the remotest part of Gaul, several thousand miles from Palestine, and two hundred years after Origen, so that he could not have asserted the fact as from his own know. ledge; and he quotes no other person for it. But, in reality, Sulpicius Severus is no more favourable to Mosheim's account of the matter than Origen himself; so that to the authority of both of them, of all ancient testimony, and natural probability, nothing can be opposed but a willingness to find orthodox Jewish Christians somewhere. *
“Qua tempestate Adrianus, existimans se Christianam fidem loci injuria perempturum, et in templo ac loco dominicæ passionis dæmonum simulachra constituit. Et quia Christiani ex Judæis potissimum putabantur (namquc tum Hierosolymæ non nisi ex circumcisione habebat ecclesia sacerdotem) militum cohortem custodias in perpetuum agitare jussit, quæ Judæos omncs Hierosolymæ aditus arceret. Quod quidem Christianæ fidei proficiebat; quia tum pene omnes Christum Deum sub legis observatione credebant, nimirum id Domino ordinante dispositum, ut legis servitus à libertate fidei atque ecclesiæ tolleretur. Ita tum primum Marcus ex Gentibus apud Hierosolymam episcopus fuit." Hist. L. ii. C. xxxi. p. 245. (P.) See Vol. XVIII. p. 178.
+ See Vol. XVIII. pp. 178, 179.
* Επληρετο δε και αυτη κατα της Αδριανο χρονος, καθ' ός δευτεραν υπομεινανίες Ιωδαιοι σολιορκιαν, εις τε7ο το κακον περιεςησαν, ως νομους και διαταγμασιν αυτοκρατορικους, μηδε εξ αποπτα την ερημιαν της εαυτων μητροπολεως θεωρειν επιτρεπεσθαι, 'Montfaucon's Collectia. II. p. 870. (P.)
The passage of Origen, which is a full contradiction to all that Mosheim has advanced concerning this orthodox Jewish church, consisting of persons who abandoned the law of Moses, at the surrender of Jerusalem to Adrian, is as follows: “He who pretends to know every thing, does not know what belongs to the Prosopopeia. For what does he say to the Jewish believers, that they have left the customs of their ancestors, having been ridiculously deceived by Jesus, and have gone over to another name, and another mode of life; not considering that those Jews who have believed in Jesus have not deserted the customs of their ancestors; for they live according to them, having a name agreeing with the poverty of their legal observances. For the word Ebion, in the Jewish language, signifies poor ; and those of the Jews' who believe Jesus to be the Christ, are called Ebionites.” +
Can it be supposed that Origen would have ventured to write in this manner, (even supposing that he had no principle of integrity to restrain him from telling a wilful lie,) if he had known any such church of Jewish Christians as Mosheim describes Besides, Origen's account of things agrees with what all the ancients say on the subject. Eusebius says, that the bishops of Jerusalem were Jews till the time of Adrian. I The bishops were Jews, because the people were so. It is natural, therefore, to suppose, that when the bishops were Greeks, the people were Greeks also. And this is what Nicephorus expressly asserts to have been the case ; for he says, that “ Adrian caused Jerusalem to be inhabited by Greeks only, and permitted no others to live in it.”
Origen is so far from saying, that any Jews abandoned • See Vol. XVIII. p. 179.
+ Αλλα μη ποτε και παντ’ επαγ/ελλομενον ειδεναι, το ακολοθον ουκ οίδε κατα τον τοπον της προσωποποιας: τι ουν και λεγει προς τους απο Ιουδαιων πιςευοντας, κατανοηλεον" φησιν αυτους καταλιπονίας τον πατριων νομον, το εψυχαγωγησθαι υπο του Ιησου, ηπατησθαι πανυ γελοιως και απηυτoμoληκεναι εις αλλο ονομα, και εις αλλον βιον. Μηδε τουτο κατανοησας, ότι δε απο Ιουδαιων εις τον Ιησουν τις ευονίες ου καλαλελοιπασι τον πατριον νομον.
αυτον, επωνυμοι της κατα την εκδοχην πτωχειας του νομου γεγενημενοι. In Çelsum, L. ii. p. 56. (P.)
1 “Ως μεχρι της καλα Αδριανον Iaδαιων πολιορκιας, σενλεκαιδεκα τον αριθμον αυτοθι γεγονασιν επισκοπων διαδοχαι" ές σανίας “Εβραιες φασιν ονίας ανεκαθεν την γνωσιν τα Χρις grows Kalaostarjan. Hist. L. iv. C. v. p. 143. (P.)
και Ελλησι δε μονοις την πολιν εδιδε, και καλοικειν επείρεπεν. Ηist. L. iii. C. xxiv. Ι. p. 256. (P.)