HotFreeBooks.com
History of Dogma, Volume 1 (of 7)
by Adolph Harnack
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

[Footnote 129: The Christians, that is the Christian preachers, were most in agreement with the Cynics (see Lucian's Peregrinus Proteus), both on the negative and on the positive side; but for that very reason they were hard on one another (Justin and Tatian against Crescens)—not only because the Christians gave a different basis for the right mode of life from the Cynics, but above all, because they did not approve of the self-conscious, contemptuous, proud disposition which Cynicism produced in many of its adherents. Morality frequently underwent change for the worse in the hands of Cynics, and became the morality of a "Gentleman," such as we have also experience of in modern Cynicism.]

[Footnote 130: The attitude of Celsus, the opponent of the Christians, is specially instructive here.]

[Footnote 131: For the knowledge of the spread of the idealistic philosophy the statement of Origen (c. Celsum VI. 2) that Epictetus was admired not only by scholars, but also by ordinary people who felt in themselves the impulse to be raised to something higher, is well worthy of notice.]

[Footnote 132: This point was of importance for the propaganda of Christianity among the cultured. There seemed to be given here a reliable, because revealed, Cosmology and history of the world—which already contained the foundation of everything worth knowing. Both were needed and both were here set forth in closest union.]

[Footnote 133: The universalism as reached by the Stoics is certainly again threatened by the self-righteous and self-complacent distinction between men of virtue, and men of pleasure, who, properly speaking, are not men. Aristotle had already dealt with the virtuous elite in a notable way. He says (Polit. 3. 13. p. 1284), that men who are distinguished by perfect virtue should not be put on a level with the ordinary mass, and should not be subjected to the constraints of a law adapted to the average man. "There is no law for these elect, who are a law to themselves."]

[Footnote 134: Notions of pre-existence were readily suggested by the Platonic philosophy; yet this whole philosophy rests on the fact that one again posits the thing (after stripping it of certain marks as accidental, or worthless, or ostensibly foreign to it) in order to express its value in this form, and hold fast the permanent in the change of the phenomena.]

[Footnote 135: See Tzschirn. i.d. Ztschr. f. K.-Gesch. XII. p. 215 ff. "The genesis of the Romish Church in the second century." What he presents is no doubt partly incomplete, partly overdone and not proved: yet much of what he states is useful.]

[Footnote 136: What is meant here is the imminent danger of taking the several constituent parts of the canon, even for historical investigation, as constituent parts, that is, of explaining one writing by the standard of another and so creating an artificial unity. The contents of any of Paul's epistles, for example, will be presented very differently if it is considered by itself and in the circumstances in which it was written, or if attention is fixed on it as part of a collection whose unity is presupposed.]

[Footnote 137: See Bigg, The Christian Platonist of Alexandria, pp. 53, 283 ff.]

[Footnote 138: Reuter (August. Studien, p. 492) has drawn a valuable parallel between Marcion and Augustine with regard to Paul.]

[Footnote 139: Marcion of course wished to raise it to the exclusive basis, but he entirely misunderstood it.]



DIVISION I.

THE GENESIS OF THE ECCLESIASTICAL DOGMA, OR THE GENESIS OF THE CATHOLIC APOSTOLIC DOGMATIC THEOLOGY, AND THE FIRST SCIENTIFIC ECCLESIASTICAL SYSTEM OF DOCTRINE.

BOOK I.

THE PREPARATION.

[Greek: Ean murious paidagogous echete en christoi all' ou pollous pateras.]

1 Cor IV. 15.

Eine jede Idee tritt als ein fremder Gast in die Erscheinung, und wie sie sich zu realisiren beginnt, ist sie kaum von Phantasie und Phantasterei zu unterscheiden.

GOETHE, Sprueche in Prosa, 566



BOOK I

THE PREPARATION

CHAPTER I

HISTORICAL SURVEY

The first century of the existence of Gentile Christian communities is particularly characterised by the following features:

I. The rapid disappearance of Jewish Christianity.[140]

II. The enthusiastic character of the religious temper; the Charismatic teachers and the appeal to the Spirit.[141]

III. The strength of the hopes for the future, Chiliasm.[142]

IV. The rigorous endeavour to fulfil the moral precepts of Christ, and truly represent the holy and heavenly community of God in abstinence from everything unclean, and in love to God and the brethren here on earth "in these last days."[143]

V. The want of a fixed doctrinal form in relation to the abstract statement of the faith, and the corresponding variety and freedom of Christian preaching on the basis of clear formulae and an increasingly rich tradition.

VI. The want of a clearly defined external authority in the communities, sure in its application, and the corresponding independence and freedom of the individual Christian in relation to the expression of the ideas, beliefs and hopes of faith.[144]

VII. The want of a fixed political union of the several communities with each other—every ecclesia is an image complete in itself, and an embodiment of the whole heavenly Church—while the consciousness of the unity of the holy Church of Christ which has the spirit in its midst, found strong expression.[145]

VIII. A quite unique literature in which were manufactured facts for the past and for the future, and which did not submit to the usual literary rules and forms, but came forward with the loftiest pretensions.[146]

IX. The reproduction of particular sayings and arguments of Apostolic Teachers with an uncertain understanding of them.[147]

X. The rise of tendencies which endeavoured to hasten in every respect the inevitable process of fusing the Gospel with the spiritual and religious interests of the time, viz., the Hellenic, as well as attempts to separate the Gospel from its origins and provide for it quite foreign presuppositions. To the latter belongs, above all, the Hellenic idea that knowledge is not a charismatic supplement to the faith, or an outgrowth of faith alongside of others, but that it coincides with the essence of faith itself.[148]

The sources for this period are few, as there was not much written, and the following period did not lay itself out for preserving a great part of the literary monuments of that epoch. Still we do possess a considerable number of writings and important fragments,[149] and further important inferences here are rendered possible by the monuments of the following period, since the conditions of the first century were not changed in a moment, but were partly, at least, long preserved, especially in certain national Churches and in remote communities.[150]

Supplement.—The main features of the message concerning Christ, of the matter of the Evangelic history, were fixed in the first and second generations of believers, and on Palestinian soil. But yet, up to the middle of the second century, this matter was in many ways increased in Gentile Christian regions, revised from new points of view, handed down in very diverse forms, and systematically allegorised by individual teachers. As a whole, the Evangelic history certainly appears to have been completed at the beginning of the second century. But in detail, much that was new was produced at a later period—and not only in Gnostic circles—and the old tradition was recast or rejected.[151]

[Footnote 140: This fact must have been apparent as early as the year 100. The first direct evidence of it is in Justin (Apol. I. 53).]

[Footnote 141: Every individual was, or at least should have been conscious, as a Christian, of having received the [Greek: pneuma theou], though that does not exclude spiritual grades. A special peculiarity of the enthusiastic nature of the religious temper is that it does not allow reflection as to the authenticity of the faith in which a man lives. As to the Charismatic teaching, see my edition of the Didache (Texte u Unters. II 1. 2 p. 93 ff.).]

[Footnote 142: The hope of the approaching end of the world and the glorious kingdom of Christ still determined men's hearts; though exhortations against theoretical and practical scepticism became more and more necessary. On the other hand, after the Epistles to the Thessalonians, there were not wanting exhortations to continue sober and diligent.]

[Footnote 143: There was a strong consciousness that the Christian Church is, above all, a union for a holy life, as well as a consciousness of the obligation to help one another, and use all the blessings bestowed by God in the service of our neighbours. Justin (2 Apol. in Euseb. H. E. IV. 17. 10) calls Christianity [Greek: to didaskalion tes theias aretes].]

[Footnote 144: The existing authorities (Old Testament, sayings of the Lord, words of Apostles) did not necessarily require to be taken into account; for the living acting Spirit, partly attesting himself also to the senses, gave new revelations. The validity of these authorities therefore held good only in theory, and might in practice be completely set aside (cf. above all, the Shepherd of Hermas).]

[Footnote 145: Zahn remarks (Ignatius, v. A. p. VII.): "I do not believe it to be the business of that province of historical investigation which is dependent on the writings of the so-called Apostolic Fathers as main sources, to explain the origin of the universal Church in any sense of the term; for that Church existed before Clement and Hermas, before Ignatius and Polycarp. But an explanatory answer is needed for the question, by what means did the consciousness of the 'universal Church' so little favoured by outer circumstances, maintain itself unbroken in the post-Apostolic communities?" This way of stating it obscures, at least, the problem which here lies before us, for it does not take account of the changes which the idea "universal Church" underwent up to the middle of the third century—besides, we do not find the title before Ignatius. In so far as the "universal Church" is set forth as an earthly power recognisable in a doctrine or in political forms, the question as to the origin of the idea is not only allowable, but must be regarded as one of the most important. On the earliest conception of the "Ecclesia" and its realisation, see the fine investigations of Sohm "Kirchenrecht," I. p. i ff., which, however, suffer from being a little overdriven.]

[Footnote 146: See the important essay of Overbeck: Ueber die Anfaenge d. patrist. Litteratur (Hist. Ztschr. N. F. Bd. XII pp. 417-472). Early Christian literature, as a rule, claims to be inspired writing. One can see, for example, in the history of the resurrection in the recently discovered Gospel of Peter (fragment) how facts were remodelled or created.]

[Footnote 147: The writings of men of the Apostolic period, and that immediately succeeding, attained in part a wide circulation, and in some portions of them, often of course incorrectly understood, very great influence. How rapidly this literature was diffused, even the letters, may be studied in the history of the Epistles of Paul, the first Epistle of Clement, and other writings.]

[Footnote 148: That which is here mentioned is of the greatest importance; it is not a mere reference to the so-called Gnostics. The foundations for the Hellenising of the Gospel in the Church were already laid in the first century (50-150).]

[Footnote 149: We should not over-estimate the extent of early Christian literature. It is very probable that we know, so far as the titles of books are concerned, nearly all that was effective, and the greater part, by very diverse means, has also been preserved to us. We except, of course, the so-called Gnostic literature of which we have only a few fragments. Only from the time of Commodus, as Eusebius, H. E. V. 21. 27, has remarked, did the great Church preserve an extensive literature.]

[Footnote 150: It is therefore important to note the locality in which a document originates, and the more so the earlier the document is. In the earliest period, in which the history of the Church was more uniform, and the influence from without relatively less, the differences are still in the background. Yet the spirit of Rome already announces itself in the Epistle of Clement, that of Alexandria in the Epistle of Barnabas, that of the East in the Epistles of Ignatius.]

[Footnote 151: The history of the genesis of the four Canonical Gospels, or the comparison of them, is instructive on this point. Then we must bear in mind the old Apocryphal Gospels, and the way in which the so-called Apostolic Fathers and Justin attest the Evangelic history, and in part reproduce it independently, the Gospels of Peter, of the Egyptians, and of Marcion; the Diatesseron of Tatian; the Gnostic Gospels and Acts of the Apostles, etc. The greatest gap in our knowledge consists in the fact, that we know so little about the course of things from about the year 61 to the beginning of the reign of Trajan. The consolidating and remodelling process must, for the most part, have taken place in this period. We possess probably not a few writings which belong to that period; but how are we to prove this, how are they to be arranged? Here lies the cause of most of the differences, combinations and uncertainties; many scholars, therefore, actually leave these 40 years out of account, and seek to place everything in the first three decennia of the second century.]



CHAPTER II.

THE ELEMENT COMMON TO ALL CHRISTIANS AND THE BREACH WITH JUDAISM

On account of the great differences among those who, in the first century, reckoned themselves in the Church of God, and called themselves by the name of Christ,[152] it seems at first sight scarcely possible to set up marks which would hold good for all, or even for nearly all, the groups. Yet the great majority had one thing in common, as is proved, among other things, by the gradual expulsion of Gnosticism. The conviction that they knew the supreme God, the consciousness of being responsible to him (Heaven and Hell), reliance on Jesus Christ, the hope of an eternal life, the vigorous elevation above the world—these are the elements that formed the fundamental mood. The author of the Acts of Thecla expresses the general view when he (c. 5-7) co-ordinates [Greek: ton tou christou logon] with [Greek: logos theou peri enkateias, kai anastaseos]. The following particulars may here be specified.[153]

I. The Gospel, because it rests on revelation, is the sure manifestation of the supreme God, and its believing acceptance guarantees salvation ([Greek: soteria]).

II. The essential content of this manifestation (besides the revelation and the verification of the oneness and spirituality of God),[154] is, first of all, the message of the resurrection and eternal life ([Greek: anastasis zoe aionios]), then the preaching of moral purity and continence ([Greek: enkrateia]), on the basis of repentance toward God ([Greek: metanoia]), and of an expiation once assured by baptism, with eye ever fixed on the requital of good and evil.[155]

III. This manifestation is mediated by Jesus Christ, who is the Saviour ([Greek: soter]) sent by God "in these last days," and who stands with God himself in a union special and unique, (cf. the ambiguous [Greek: pais theou], which was much used in the earliest period). He has brought the true and full knowledge of God, as well as the gift of immortality [Greek: gnosis kai zoe], or [Greek: gnosis tes zoes], as an expression for the sum of the Gospel. See the supper prayer in the Didache, c. IX. an X.; [Greek: eucharistoumen soi, pater hemon huper tes zoes kai gnoseos hes egnorisas hemin dia Iesou tou paidos sou], and is for that very reason the redeemer ([Greek: soter] and victor over the demons) on whom we are to place believing trust. But he is, further, in word and walk the highest example of all moral virtue, and therefore in his own person the law for the perfect life, and at the same time the God-appointed lawgiver and judge.[156]

IV. Virtue as continence, embraces as its highest task, renunciation of temporal goods and separation from the common world; for the Christian is not a citizen, but a stranger on the earth, and expects its approaching destruction.[157]

V. Christ has committed to chosen men, the Apostles (or to one Apostle), the proclamation of the message he received from God; consequently, their preaching represents that of Christ himself. But, besides, the Spirit of God rules in Christians, "the Saints." He bestows upon them special gifts, and, above all, continually raises up among them Prophets and spiritual Teachers who receive revelations and communications for the edification of others, and whose injunctions are to be obeyed.

VI. Christian Worship is a service of God in spirit and in truth (a spiritual sacrifice), and therefore has no legal ceremonial and statutory rules. The value of the sacred acts and consecrations which are connected with the cultus, consists in the communication of spiritual blessings. (Didache X., [Greek: hemin de echariso, despota, pneumatiken trophen kai poton kai zoen aionion dia tou paidos sou]).

VII. Everything that Jesus Christ brought with him, may be summed up in [Greek: gnosis kai zoe], or in the knowledge of immortal life.[158] To possess the perfect knowledge was, in wide circles, an expression for the sum total of the Gospel.[159]

VIII. Christians, as such, no longer take into account the distinctions of race, age, rank, nationality and worldly culture, but the Christian community must be conceived as a communion resting on a divine election. Opinions were divided about the ground of that election.

IX. As Christianity is the only true religion, and as it is no national religion, but somehow concerns the whole of humanity, or its best part, it follows that it can have nothing in common with the Jewish nation and its contemporary cultus. The Jewish nation in which Jesus Christ appeared, has, for the time at least, no special relation to the God whom Jesus revealed. Whether it had such a relation at an earlier period is doubtful (cf. here, e.g., the attitude of Marcion, Ptolemaeus the disciple of Valentinus, the author of the Epistle of Barnabas, Aristides and Justin); but certain it is that God has now cast it off, and that all revelations of God, so far as they took place at all before Christ, (the majority assumed that there had been such revelations and considered the Old Testament as a holy record), must have aimed solely at the call of the "new people", and in some way prepared for the revelation of God through his Son.[160]

[Footnote 152: See, as to this, Celsus in Orig. III. 10 ff. and V. 59 ff.]

[Footnote 153: The marks adduced in the text do not certainly hold good for some comparatively unimportant Gnostic groups, but they do apply to the great majority of them, and in the main to Marcion also.]

[Footnote 154: Most of the Gnostic schools know only one God, and put all emphasis on the knowledge of the oneness, supramundaneness, and spirituality of this God. The AEons, the Demiurgus, the God of matter, do not come near this God though they are called Gods. See the testimony of Hippolytus c. Noet. 11; [Greek: kai gar pantes apekleisthesan eis touto akontes eipein hoti to pan eis hena anatrechei ei oun ta panta eis hena anatrechei kai kata thualentinon kai kata Markiona, Kerinthon te kai pasan ten ekeinon phluarian, kai akontes eis touto periepesan, hina ton hena homologesosin aition ton panton houtos oun suntrechousin kai autoi me thelontes te aletheia hena theon legein poiesanta hos ethelesen].]

[Footnote 155: Continence was regarded as the condition laid down by God for the resurrection and eternal life. The sure hope of this was for many, if not for the majority, the whole sum of religion, in connection with the idea of the requital of good and evil which was now firmly established. See the testimony of the heathen Lucian, in Peregrinus Proteus.]

[Footnote 156: Even where the judicial attributes were separated from God (Christ) as not suitable, Christ was still comprehended as the critical appearance by which every man is placed in the condition which belongs to him. The Apocalypse of Peter expects that God himself will come as Judge (see the Messianic expectations of Judaism, in which it was always uncertain whether God or the Messiah would hold the judgment).]

[Footnote 157: Celsus (Orig. c. Celsum, V. 59) after referring to the many Christian parties mutually provoking and fighting with each other, remarks (V. 64) that though they differ much from each other, and quarrel with each other, you can yet hear from them all the protestation, "The world is crucified to me and I to the world." In the earliest Gentile Christian communities brotherly love for reflective thought falls into the background behind ascetic exercises of virtue, in unquestionable deviation from the sayings of Christ, but in fact it was powerful. See the testimony of Pliny and Lucian, Aristides, Apol. 15, Tertull Apol. 39.]

[Footnote 158: The word "life" comes into consideration in a double sense, viz., as soundness of the soul, and as immortality. Neither, of course, is to be separated from the other. But I have attempted to shew in my essay, "Medicinisches aus der aeltesten Kirchengesch" (1892), the extent to which the Gospel in the earliest Christendom was preached as medicine and Jesus as a Physician, and how the Christian Message was really comprehended by the Gentiles as a medicinal religion. Even the Stoic philosophy gave itself out as a soul therapeutic, and AEsculapius was worshipped as a Saviour-God; but Christianity alone was a religion of healing.]

[Footnote 159: Heinrici, in his commentary on the epistles to the Corinthians, has dealt very clearly with this matter; see especially (Bd. II. p. 557 ff.) the description of the Christianity of the Corinthians: On what did the community base its Christian character? It believed in one God who had revealed himself to it through Christ, without denying the reality of the hosts of gods in the heathen world (1 VIII. 6). It hoped in immortality without being clear as to the nature of the Christian belief in the resurrection (1 XV.) It had no doubt as to the requital of good and evil (1 IV. 5; 2 V. 10; XI. 15: Rom. II. 4), without understanding the value of self-denial, claiming no merit, for the sake of important ends. It was striving to make use of the Gospel as a new doctrine of wisdom about earthly and super-earthly things, which led to the perfect and best established knowledge (1 I. 21: VIII. 1). It boasted of special operations of the Divine Spirit, which in themselves remained obscure and non-transparent, and therefore unfruitful (1 XIV.), while it was prompt to put aside as obscure, the word of the Cross as preached by Paul (2. IV. 1 f). The hope of the near Parousia, however, and the completion of all things, evinced no power to effect a moral transformation of society We herewith obtain the outline of a conviction that was spread over the widest circles of the Roman Empire "Naturam si expellas furca, tamen usque recurret."]

[Footnote 160: Nearly all Gentile Christian groups that we know, are at one in the detachment of Christianity from empiric Judaism; the "Gnostics," however, included the Old Testament in Judaism, while the greater part of Christians did not. That detachment seemed to be demanded by the claims of Christianity to be the one, true, absolute and therefore oldest religion, foreseen from the beginning. The different estimates of the Old Testament in Gnostic circles have their exact parallels in the different estimates of Judaism among the other Christians; cf. for example, in this respect, the conception stated in the Epistle of Barnabas with the views of Marcion, and Justin with Valentinus. The particulars about the detachment of the Gentile Christians from the Synagogue, which was prepared for by the inner development of Judaism itself, and was required by the fundamental fact that the Messiah, crucified and rejected by his own people, was recognised as Saviour by those who were not Jews, cannot be given in the frame-work of a history of dogma; though, see Chaps. III. IV. VI. On the other hand, the turning away from Judaism is also the result of the mass of things which were held in common with it, even in Gnostic circles. Christianity made its appearance in the Empire in the Jewish propaganda. By the preaching of Jesus Christ who brought the gift of eternal life, mediated the full knowledge of God, and assembled round him in these last days a community, the imperfect and hybrid creations of the Jewish propaganda in the empire were converted into independent formations. These formations were far superior to the synagogue in power of attraction, and from the nature of the case would very soon be directed with the utmost vigour against the synagogue.]



CHAPTER III

THE COMMON FAITH AND THE BEGINNINGS OF KNOWLEDGE IN GENTILE CHRISTIANITY AS IT WAS BEING DEVELOPED INTO CATHOLICISM[162]

Sec. 1. The Communities and the Church.

The confessors of the Gospels, belonging to organised communities who recognised the Old Testament as the Divine record of revelation, and prized the Evangelic tradition as a public message for all, to which, in its undiluted form, they wished to adhere truly and sincerely, formed the stem of Christendom both as to extent and importance.[163] The communities stood to each other in an outwardly loose, but inwardly firm connection, and every community by the vigour of its faith, the certainty of its hope, the holy character of its life, as well as by unfeigned love, unity and peace, was to be an image of the holy Church of God which is in heaven, and whose members are scattered over the earth. They were further, by the purity of their walk and an active brotherly disposition, to prove to those without, that is to the world, the excellence and truth of the Christian faith.[164] The hope that the Lord would speedily appear to gather into his Kingdom the believers who were scattered abroad, punishing the evil and rewarding the good, guided these communities in faith and life. In the recently discovered "Teaching of the Apostles" we are confronted very distinctly with ideas and aspirations of communities that are not influenced by Philosophy.

The Church, that is the totality of all believers destined to be received into the kingdom of God (Didache, 9. 10), is the holy Church, (Hermas) because it is brought together and preserved by the Holy Spirit. It is the one Church, not because it presents this unity outwardly, on earth the members of the Church are rather scattered abroad, but because it will be brought to unity in the kingdom of Christ, because it is ruled by the same spirit and inwardly united in a common relation to a common hope and ideal. The Church, considered in its origin, is the number of those chosen by God,[165] the true Israel,[166] nay, still more, the final purpose of God, for the world was created for its sake.[167] There were in connection with these doctrines in the earliest period, various speculations about the Church: it is a heavenly AEon, is older than the world, was created by God at the beginning of things as a companion of the heavenly Christ;[168] its members form the new nation which is really the oldest nation,[169] it is the [Greek: laos ho tou agapemenou ho philoumenos kai philon auton],[170] the people whom God has prepared "in the Beloved,"[171] etc. The creation of God, the Church, as it is of an antemundane and heavenly nature, will also attain its true existence only in the AEon of the future, the AEon of the kingdom of Christ. The idea of a heavenly origin, and of a heavenly goal of the Church, was therefore an essential one, various and fluctuating as these speculations were. Accordingly, the exhortations, so far as they have in view the Church, are always dominated by the idea of the contrast of the kingdom of Christ with the kingdom of the world. On the other hand, he who communicated knowledge for the present time, prescribed rules of life, endeavoured to remove conflicts, did not appeal to the peculiar character of the Church. The mere fact, however, that from nearly the beginning of Christendom, there were reflections and speculations not only about God and Christ, but also about the Church, teaches us how profoundly the Christian consciousness was impressed with being a new people, viz., the people of God.[172] These speculations of the earliest Gentile Christian time about Christ and the Church, as inseparable correlative ideas, are of the greatest importance, for they have absolutely nothing Hellenic in them, but rather have their origin in the Apostolic tradition. But for that very reason the combination very soon, comparatively speaking, became obsolete or lost its power to influence. Even the Apologists made no use of it, though Clement of Alexandria and other Greeks held it fast, and the Gnostics by their AEon "Church" brought it into discredit. Augustine was the first to return to it.

The importance attached to morality is shewn in Didache cc. 1-6, with parallels[173]. But this section and the statements so closely related to it in the pseudo phocylidean poem, which is probably of Christian origin, as well as in Sibyl, II. v. 56, 148, which is likewise to be regarded as Christian, and in many other Gnomic paragraphs, shews at the same time, that in the memorable expression and summary statement of higher moral commandments, the Christian propaganda had been preceded by the Judaism of the Diaspora, and had entered into its labours. These statements are throughout dependent on the Old Testament wisdom, and have the closest relationship with the genuine Greek parts of the Alexandrian Canon, as well as with Philonic exhortations. Consequently, these moral rules, the two ways, so aptly compiled and filled with such an elevated spirit, represent the ripest fruit of Jewish as well as of Greek development. The Christian spirit found here a disposition which it could recognise as its own. It was of the utmost importance, however, that this disposition was already expressed in fixed forms suitable for didactic purposes. The young Christianity therewith received a gift of first importance. It was spared a labour in a legion, the moral, which experience shews, can only be performed in generations, viz, the creation of simple fixed impressive rules, the labour of the Catechist. The sayings of the Sermon on the Mount were not of themselves sufficient here. Those who in the second century attempted to rest in these alone and turned aside from the Judaeo-Greek inheritance, landed in Marcionite or Encratite doctrines.[174] We can see, especially from the Apologies of Aristides (c. 15), Justin and Tatian (see also Lucian), that the earnest men of the Graeco-Roman world were won by the morality and active love of the Christians.

Sec. 2. The Foundations of the Faith.

The foundations of the faith—whose abridged form was, on the one hand, the confession of the one true God, [Greek: monos alethinos theos],[175] and of Jesus, the Lord, the Son of God, the Saviour[176] and also of the Holy Spirit, and on the other hand, the confident hope of Christ's kingdom and the resurrection—were laid on the Old Testament interpreted in a Christian sense together with the Apocalypses,[177] and the progressively enriched traditions about Jesus Christ ([Greek: he parodosis—ho paradotheis logos—ho kanon tes aletheias] or [Greek: tes paradoseos—he pistis—ho kanon tes pisteos—ho dotheisa pistis—to kerygma—ta didagmata tou christou—he didache—ta mathemata], or [Greek: to mathema]).[178] The Old Testament revelations and oracles were regarded as pointing to Christ; the Old Testament itself, the words of God spoken by the Prophets, as the primitive Gospel of salvation, having in view the new people, which is, however, the oldest, and belonging to it alone.[179] The exposition of the Old Testament, which, as a rule, was of course read in the Alexandrian Canon of the Bible, turned it into a Christian book. A historical view of it, which no born Jew could in some measure fail to take, did not come into fashion, and the freedom that was used in interpreting the Old Testament,—so far as there was a method, it was the Alexandrian Jewish—went the length of even correcting the letter and enriching the contents.[180]

The traditions concerning Christ on which the communities were based, were of a twofold character. First, there were words of the Lord, mostly ethical, but also of eschatological content, which were regarded as rules, though their expression was uncertain, ever changing, and only gradually assuming a fixed form. The [Greek: didagmata tou christou] are often just the moral commandments.[181] Second, the foundation of the faith, that is, the assurance of the blessing of salvation, was formed by a proclamation of the history of Jesus concisely expressed, and composed with reference to prophecy.[182] The confession of God the Father Almighty, of Christ as the Lord and Son of God, and of the Holy Spirit,[183] was at a very early period in the communities, united with the short proclamation of the history of Jesus, and at the same time, in certain cases, referred expressly to the revelation of God (the Spirit) through the prophets.[184] The confession thus conceived had not everywhere obtained a fixed definite expression in the first century (c. 50-150). It would rather seem that, in most of the communities, there was no exact formulation beyond a confession of Father, Son and Spirit, accompanied in a free way by the historical proclamation.[185] It is highly probable, however, that a short confession was strictly formulated in the Roman community before the middle of the second century,[186] expressing belief in the Father, Son and Spirit, embracing also the most important facts in the history of Jesus, and mentioning the Holy Church, as well as the two great blessings of Christianity, the forgiveness of sin, and the resurrection of the dead ([Greek: aphesis hamartion, sarkos anastasis][187]). But, however the proclamation might be handed down, in a form somehow fixed, or in a free form, the disciples of Jesus, the (twelve) Apostles, were regarded as the authorities who mediated and guaranteed it. To them was traced back in the same way everything that was narrated of the history of Jesus, and everything that was inculcated from his sayings.[188] Consequently, it may be said, that beside the Old Testament, the chief court of appeal in the communities was formed by an aggregate of words and deeds of the Lord;—for the history and the suffering of Jesus are his deed: [Greek: ho Iesous hupemeinen pathein, k.t.l.]—fixed in certain fundamental features, though constantly enriched, and traced back to apostolic testimony.[189]

The authority which the Apostles in this way enjoyed, did not, in any great measure, rest on the remembrance of direct services which the twelve had rendered to the Gentile Churches: for, as the want of reliable concrete traditions proves, no such services had been rendered, at least not by the twelve. On the contrary, there was a theory operative here regarding the special authority which the twelve enjoyed in the Church at Jerusalem, a theory which was spread by the early missionaries, including Paul, and sprang from the a priori consideration that the tradition about Christ, just because it grew up so quickly,[190] must have been entrusted to eye-witnesses who were commissioned to proclaim the Gospel to the whole world, and who fulfilled that commission. The a priori character of this assumption is shewn by the fact that—with the exception of reminiscences of an activity of Peter and John among the [Greek: ethne], not sufficiently clear to us[191]—the twelve, as a rule, are regarded as a college, to which the mission and the tradition are traced back.[192] That such a theory, based on a dogmatic construction of history, could have at all arisen, proves that either the Gentile Churches never had a living relation to the twelve, or that they had very soon lost it in the rapid disappearance of Jewish Christianity, while they had been referred to the twelve from the beginning. But even in the communities which Paul had founded and for a long time guided, the remembrance of the controversies of the Apostolic age must have been very soon effaced, and the vacuum thus produced filled by a theory which directly traced back the status quo of the Gentile Christian communities to a tradition of the twelve as its foundation. This fact is extremely paradoxical, and is not altogether explained by the assumptions that the Pauline-Judaistic controversy had not made a great impression on the Gentile Christians, that the way in which Paul, while fully recognising the twelve, had insisted on his own independent importance, had long ceased to be really understood, and that Peter and John had also really been missionaries to the Gentiles. The guarantee that was needed for the "teaching of the Lord" must, finally, be given not by Paul, but only by chosen eye-witnesses. The less that was known about them, the easier it was to claim them. The conviction as to the unanimity of the twelve, and as to their activity in founding the Gentile Churches, appeared in these Churches as early as the urgent need of protection against the serious consequences of unfettered religious enthusiasm and unrestrained religious fancy. This urgency cannot be dated too far back. In correspondence therewith, the principle of tradition in the Church (Christ, the twelve Apostles) in the case of those who were intent on the unity and completeness of Christendom, is also very old. But one passed logically from the Apostles to the disciples of the Apostles, "the Elders," without at first claiming for them any other significance than that of reliable hearers (Apostoli et discentes ipsorum). In coming down to them, one here and there betook oneself again to real historical ground, disciples of Paul, of Peter, of John.[193] Yet even here legends with a tendency speedily got mixed with facts, and because, in consequence of this theory of tradition, the Apostle Paul must needs fall into the background, his disciples also were more or less forgotten. The attempt which we have in the Pastoral Epistles remained without effect, as regards those to whom these epistles were addressed. Timothy and Titus obtained no authority outside these epistles. But so far as the epistles of Paul were collected, diffused, and read, there was created a complex of writings which at first stood beside the "Teaching of the Lord by the twelve Apostles", without being connected with it, and only obtained such connection by the creation of the New Testament, that is, by the interpolation of the Acts of the Apostles, between Gospels and Epistles.[194]

Sec. 3. The Main Articles of Christianity and the Conceptions of Salvation. Eschatology.

1. The main articles of Christianity were (1) belief in God the [Greek: despotes], and in the Son in virtue of proofs from prophecy, and the teaching of the Lord as attested by the Apostles; (2) discipline according to the standard of the words of the Lord; (3) baptism; (4) the common offering of prayer, culminating in the Lord's Supper and the holy meal, (5) the sure hope of the nearness of Christ's glorious kingdom. In these appears the unity of Christendom, that is, of the Church which possesses the Holy Spirit.[195] On the basis of this unity Christian knowledge was free and manifold. It was distinguished as [Greek: sophia, sunesis, episteme, gnosis (ton dikaiomaton)], from the [Greek: logos theou tes pisteos], the [Greek: klesis tes epangelias] and the [Greek: entolai tes didaches] (Barn. 16. 9, similarly Hermas). Perception and knowledge of Divine things was a Charism possessed only by individuals, but like all Charisms it was to be used for the good of the whole. In so far as every actual perception was a perception produced by the Spirit, it was regarded as important and indubitable truth, even though some Christians were unable to understand it. While attention was given to the firm inculcation and observance of the moral precepts of Christ, as well as to the awakening of sure faith in Christ, and while all waverings and differences were excluded in respect of these, there was absolutely no current doctrine of faith in the communities, in the sense of a completed theory, and the theological speculations of even closely related Christian writers of this epoch, exhibit the greatest differences.[196] The productions of fancy, the terrible or consoling pictures of the future pass for sacred knowledge, just as much as intelligent and sober reflections, and edifying interpretation of Old Testament sayings. Even that which was afterwards separated as Dogmatic and Ethics was then in no way distinguished.[197] The communities gave expression in the cultus, chiefly in the hymns and prayers, to what they possessed in their God and their Christ; here sacred formulae were fashioned and delivered to the members.[198] The problem of surrendering the world in the hope of a life beyond was regarded as the practical side of the faith, and the unity in temper and disposition resting on faith in the saving revelation of God in Christ, permitted the highest degree of freedom in knowledge, the results of which were absolutely without control as soon as the preacher or the writer was recognised as a true teacher, that is, inspired by the Spirit of God.[199] There was also in wide circles a conviction that the Christian faith, after the night of error, included the full knowledge of everything worth knowing, that precisely in its most important articles it is accessible to men of every degree of culture, and that in it, in the now attained truth, is contained one of the most essential blessings of Christianity. When it is said in the Epistle of Barnabas (II. 2. 3); [Greek: tes pisteos hemon eisin boethoi phobos kai hupomone, ta de summachounta hemin makrothumia kai enkrateia; touton menonton ta pros kurion hagnos, suneuphrainontai autois sophia, sunesis, episteme, gnosis], knowledge appears in this classic formula to be an essential element in Christianity, conditioned by faith and the practical virtues, and dependent on them. Faith takes the lead, knowledge follows it: but of course in concrete cases it could not always be decided what was [Greek: logos tes pisteos], which implicitly contained the highest knowledge, and what the special [Greek: gnosis]; for in the last resort the nature of the two was regarded as identical, both being represented as produced by the Spirit of God.

2. The conceptions of Christian salvation, or of redemption, were grouped around two ideas, which were themselves but loosely connected with each other, and of which the one influenced more the temper and the imagination, the other the intellectual faculty. On the one hand, salvation, in accordance with the earliest preaching, was regarded as the glorious kingdom which was soon to appear on earth with the visible return of Christ, which will bring the present course of the world to an end, and introduce for a definite series of centuries, before the final judgment, a new order of all things to the joy and blessedness of the saints.[200] In connection with this the hope of the resurrection of the body occupied the foreground[201]. On the other hand, salvation appeared to be given in the truth, that is, in the complete and certain knowledge of God, as contrasted with the error of heathendom and the night of sin, and this truth included the certainty of the gift of eternal life, and all conceivable spiritual blessings.[202] Of these the community, so far as it is a community of saints, that is, so far as it is ruled by the Spirit of God, already possesses forgiveness of sins and righteousness. But, as a rule, neither blessing was understood in a strictly religious sense, that is to say, the effect of their religious sense was narrowed. The moralistic view, in which eternal life is the wages and reward of a perfect moral life wrought out essentially by one's own power, took the place of first importance at a very early period. On this view, according to which the righteousness of God is revealed in punishment and reward alike, the forgiveness of sin only meant a single remission of sin in connection with entrance into the Church by baptism,[203] and righteousness became identical with virtue. The idea is indeed still operative, especially in the oldest Gentile-Christian writings known to us, that sinlessness rests upon a new creation (regeneration) which is effected in baptism;[204] but, so far as dissimilar eschatological hopes do not operate, it is everywhere in danger of being supplanted by the other idea, which maintains that there is no other blessing in the Gospel than the perfect truth and eternal life. All else is but a sum of obligations in which the Gospel is presented as a new law. The christianising of the Old Testament supported this conception. There was indeed an opinion that the Gospel, even so far as it is a law, comprehends a gift of salvation which is to be grasped by faith [Greek: nomos aneu zugou anankes,[205] nomos t. eleutherias],[206] Christ himself the law;[207] but this notion, as it is obscure in itself, was also an uncertain one and was gradually lost. Further, by the "law" was frequently meant in the first place, not the law of love, but the commandments of ascetic holiness, or an explanation and a turn were given to the law of love, according to which it is to verify itself above all in asceticism.[208]

The expression of the contents of the Gospel in the concepts [Greek: epangelia (zoe aionios) gnosis (aletheia) nomos (enkrateia)], seemed quite as plain as it was exhaustive, and the importance of faith which was regarded as the basis of hope and knowledge and obedience in a holy life, was at the same time in every respect perceived.[209]

Supplement 1.—The moralistic view of sin, forgiveness of sin, and righteousness, in Clement, Barnabas, Polycarp and Ignatius, gives place to Pauline formulae; but the uncertainty with which these are reproduced, shews that the Pauline idea has not been clearly seen.[210] In Hermas, however, and in the second Epistle of Clement, the consciousness of being under grace, even after baptism, almost completely disappears behind the demand to fulfil the tasks which baptism imposes.[211] The idea that serious sins, in the case of the baptised, no longer should or can be forgiven, except under special circumstances, appears to have prevailed in wide circles, if not everywhere.[212] It reveals the earnestness of those early Christians and their elevated sense of freedom and power; but it might be united either with the highest moral intensity, or with a lax judgment on the little sins of the day. The latter, in point of fact, threatened to become more and more the presupposition and result of that idea—for there exists here a fatal reciprocal action.

Supplement 2.—The realisation of salvation—as [Greek: basileia tou theou] and as [Greek: aphtharsia]—being expected from the future, the whole present possession of salvation might be comprehended under the title of vocation ([Greek: klesis]) see, for example, the second Epistle of Clement. In this sense gnosis itself was regarded as something only preparatory.

Supplement 3.—In some circles the Pauline formula about righteousness and salvation by faith alone, must, it would appear, not infrequently (as already in the Apostolic age itself) have been partly misconstrued, and partly taken advantage of as a cloak for laxity. Those who resisted such a disposition, and therefore also the formula in the post-Apostolic age, shew indeed by their opposition how little they have hit upon or understood the Pauline idea of faith: for they not only issued the watchword "faith and works" (though the Jewish ceremonial law was not thereby meant), but they admitted, and not only hypothetically, that one might have the true faith even though in his case that faith remained dead or united with immorality. See, above all, the Epistle of James and the Shepherd of Hermas; though the first Epistle of John comes also into consideration (III. 7: "He that doeth righteousness is righteous").[213]

Supplement 4.—However similar the eschatological expectations of the Jewish Apocalyptists and the Christians may seem, there is yet in one respect an important difference between them. The uncertainty about the final consummation was first set aside by the Gospel. It should be noted as highly characteristic of the Jewish hopes of the future, even of the most definite, how the beginning of the end, that is, the overthrow of the world-powers and the setting up of the earthly kingdom of God, was much more certainly expressed than the goal and the final end. Neither the general judgment, nor what we, according to Christian tradition, call heaven and hell, should be described as a sure possession of Jewish faith in the primitive Christian period. It is only in the Gospel of Christ, where everything is subordinated to the idea of a higher righteousness and the union of the individual with God, that the general judgment and the final condition after it are the clear, firmly grasped goal of all meditation. No doctrine has been more surely preserved in the convictions and preaching of believers in Christ than this. Fancy might roam ever so much and, under the direction of the tradition, thrust bright and precious images between the present condition and the final end, the main thing continued to be the great judgment of the world, and the certainty that the saints would go to God in heaven, the wicked to hell. But while the judgment, as a rule, was connected with the Person of Jesus himself (see the Romish Symbol: the words [Greek: krites zonton kai nekron], were very frequently applied to Christ in the earliest writings), the moral condition of the individual, and the believing recognition of the Person of Christ were put in the closest relation. The Gentile Christians held firmly to this. Open the Shepherd, or the second Epistle of Clement, or any other early Christian writing, and you will find that the judgment, heaven and hell, are the decisive objects. But that shews that the moral character of Christianity as a religion is seen and adhered to. The fearful idea of hell, far from signifying a backward step in the history of the religious spirit, is rather a proof of its having rejected the morally indifferent point of view, and of its having become sovereign in union with the ethical spirit.

Sec. 4. The Old Testament as Source of the Knowledge of Faith.[214]

The sayings of the Old Testament, the word of God, were believed to furnish inexhaustible material for deeper knowledge. The Christian prophets were nurtured on the Old Testament, the teachers gathered from it the revelation of the past, present and future (Barn. 1. 7), and were therefore able as prophets to edify the Churches; from it was further drawn the confirmation of the answers to all emergent questions, as one could always find in the Old Testament what he was in search of. The different writers laid the holy book under contribution in very much the same way; for they were all dominated by the presupposition that this book is a Christian book, and contains the explanations that are necessary for the occasion. There were several teachers, e.g., Barnabas, who at a very early period boasted of finding in it ideas of special profundity and value—these were always an expression of the difficulties that were being felt. The plain words of the Lord as generally known, did not seem sufficient to satisfy the craving for knowledge, or to solve the problems that were emerging;[215] their origin and form also opposed difficulties at first to the attempt to obtain from them new disclosures by re-interpretation. But the Old Testament sayings and histories were in part unintelligible, or in their literal sense offensive; they were at the same time regarded as fundamental words of God. This furnished the conditions for turning them to account in the way we have stated. The following are the most important points of view under which the Old Testament was used. (1) The Monotheistic cosmology and view of nature were borrowed from it (see, for example, 1 Clem.). (2) It was used to prove that the appearance and entire history of Jesus had been foretold centuries, nay, thousands of years beforehand, and that the founding of a new people gathered out of all nations had been predicted and prepared for from the very beginning.[216] (3) It was used as a means of verifying all principles and institutions of the Christian Church,—the spiritual worship of God without images, the abolition of all ceremonial legal precepts, baptism, etc. (4) The Old Testament was used for purposes of exhortation according to the formula a minori ad majus; if God then punished and rewarded this or that in such a way, how much more may we expect, who now stand in the last days, and have received the [Greek: klesis tes epangelias]. (5) It was proved from the Old Testament that the Jewish nation is in error, and either never had a covenant with God or has lost it, that it has a false apprehension of God's revelations, and therefore has, now at least, no longer any claim to their possession. But beyond all this, (6) there were in the Old Testament books, above all, in the Prophets and in the Psalms, a great number of sayings—confessions of trust in God and of help received from God, of humility and holy courage, testimonies of a world-overcoming faith and words of comfort, love and communion—which were too exalted for any cavilling, and intelligible to every spiritually awakened mind. Out of this treasure which was handed down to the Greeks and Romans, the Church edified herself, and in the perception of its riches was largely rooted the conviction that the holy book must in every line contain the highest truth.

The point mentioned under (5) needs, however, further explanation. The self-consciousness of the Christian community of being the people of God, must have been, above all, expressed in its position towards Judaism, whose mere existence—even apart from actual assaults— threatened that consciousness most seriously. A certain antipathy of the Greeks and Romans towards Judaism co-operated here with a law of self-preservation. On all hands, therefore, Judaism as it then existed was abandoned as a sect judged and rejected by God, as a society of hypocrites,[217] as a synagogue of Satan,[218] as a people seduced by an evil angel,[219] and the Jews were declared to have no further right to the possession of the Old Testament. Opinions differed, however, as to the earlier history of the nation and its relation to the true God. While some denied that there ever had been a covenant of salvation between God and this nation, and in this respect recognised only an intention of God,[220] which was never carried out because of the idolatry of the people, others admitted in a hazy way that a relation did exist; but even they referred all the promises of the Old Testament to the Christian people.[221] While the former saw in the observance of the letter of the law, in the case of circumcision, sabbath, precepts as to food, etc., a proof of the special devilish temptation to which the Jewish people succumbed,[222] the latter saw in circumcision a sign[223] given by God, and in virtue of certain considerations acknowledged that the literal observance of the law was for the time God's intention and command, though righteousness never came from such observance. Yet even they saw in the spiritual the alone true sense, which the Jews had denied, and were of opinion that the burden of ceremonies was a paedagogic necessity with reference to a people stiff-necked and prone to idolatry, i.e., a defence of monotheism, and gave an interpretation to the sign of circumcision which made it no longer a blessing, but rather the mark for the execution of judgment on Israel.[224]

Israel was thus at all times the pseudo-Church. The older people does not in reality precede the younger people, the Christians, even in point of time; for though the Church appeared only in the last days, it was foreseen and created by God from the beginning. The younger people is therefore really the older, and the new law rather the original law.[225] The Patriarchs, Prophets, and men of God, however, who were favoured with the communication of God's words, have nothing inwardly in common with the Jewish people. They are God's elect who were distinguished by a holy walk, and must be regarded as the forerunners and fathers of the Christian people.[226] To the question how such holy men appeared exclusively, or almost exclusively, among the Jewish people, the documents preserved to us yield no answer.

Sec. 5. The Knowledge of God and of the World. Estimate of the World.

The knowledge of faith was, above all, the knowledge of God as one, supramundane, spiritual,[227] and almighty ([Greek: pantokrator]); God is creator and governor of the world and therefore the Lord.[228] But as he created the world a beautiful ordered whole (monotheistic view of nature)[229] for the sake of man,[230] he is at the same time the God of goodness and redemption ([Greek: theos soter]), and the true faith in God and knowledge of him as the Father,[231] is made perfect only in the knowledge of the identity of the God of creation and the God of redemption. Redemption, however, was necessary, because at the beginning humanity and the world alike fell under the dominion of evil demons,[232] of the evil one. There was no universally accepted theory as to the origin of this dominion; but the sure and universal conviction was that the present condition and course of the world is not of God, but is of the devil. Those, however, who believed in God, the almighty creator, and were expecting the transformation of the earth, as well as the visible dominion of Christ upon it, could not be seduced into accepting a dualism in principle (God and devil: spirit and matter). Belief in God, the creator, and eschatological hopes, preserved the communities from the theoretic dualism that so readily suggested itself, which they slightly touched in many particular opinions, and which threatened to dominate their feelings. The belief that the world is of God and therefore good, remained in force. A distinction was made between the present constitution of the world, which is destined for destruction, and the future order of the world which will be a glorious "restitutio in integrum." The theory of the world as an articulated whole which had already been proclaimed by the Stoics, and which was strengthened by Christian monotheism, would not, even if it had been known to the uncultured, have been vigorous enough to cope with the impression of the wickedness of the course of this world, and the vulgarity of all things material. But the firm belief in the omnipotence of God, and the hope of the world's transformation grounded on the Old Testament, conquered the mood of absolute despair of all things visible and sensuous, and did not allow a theoretic conclusion, in the sense of dualism in principle, to be drawn from the practical obligation to renounce the world, or from the deep distrust with regard to the flesh.

Sec. 6. Faith in Jesus Christ.

1. As surely as redemption was traced back to God himself, so surely was Jesus ([Greek: ho soter hemon]) held to be the mediator of it. Faith in Jesus was therefore, even for Gentile Christians, a compendium of Christianity. Jesus is mostly designated with the same name as God,[233] [Greek: ho kurios (hemon)], for we must remember the ancient use of this title. All that has taken place or will take place with reference to salvation, is traced back to the "Lord." The carelessness of the early Christian writers about the bearing of the word in particular cases,[234] shews that in a religious relation, so far as there was reflection on the gift of salvation, Jesus could directly take the place of God. The invisible God is the author, Jesus the revealer and mediator, of all saving blessings. The final subject is presented in the nearest subject, and there is frequently no occasion for expressly distinguishing them, as the range and contents of the revelation of salvation in Jesus coincide with the range and contents of the will of salvation in God himself. Yet prayers, as a rule, were addressed to God: at least, there are but few examples of direct prayers to Jesus belonging to the first century (apart from the prayers in the Act. Joh. of the so-called Leucius). The usual formula rather reads: [Greek: theoi exomologoumetha dia 'I. Chr.—theoi doxa dio 'I. Chr].[235]

2. As the Gentile Christians did not understand the significance of the idea that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah), the designation "[Greek: christos]" had either to be given up in their communities, or to subside into a mere name.[236] But even where, through the Old Testament, one was reminded of the meaning of the word, and allowed a value to it, he was far from finding in the statement that Jesus is the Lord's anointed, a clear expression of the dignity peculiar to him. That dignity had therefore to be expressed by other means. Nevertheless the eschatological series of ideas connected the Gentile Christians very closely with the early Christian ideas of faith, and therefore also with the earliest ideas about Jesus. In the confession that God chose[237] and prepared[238] Jesus, that Jesus is the Angel[239] and the servant of God,[240] that he will judge the living and the dead,[241] etc., expression is given to ideas about Jesus, in the Gentile Christian communities, which are borrowed from the thought that he is the Christ called of God and entrusted with an office.[242] Besides, there was a very old designation handed down from the circle of the disciples, and specially intelligible to Gentile Christians, though not frequent and gradually disappearing, viz., "the Master."[243]

3. But the earliest tradition not only spoke of Jesus as [Greek: kurios, soter], and [Greek: didaskalos], but as "[Greek: ho huios tou theou]", and this name was firmly adhered to in the Gentile Christian communities.[244] It followed immediately from this that Jesus belongs to the sphere of God, and that, as is said in the earliest preaching known to us,[245] one must think of him "[Greek: hos peri theou]." This formula describes in a classic manner the indirect "theologia Christi" which we find unanimously expressed in all witnesses of the earliest epoch.[246] We must think about Christ as we think about God, because, on the one hand, God had exalted him, and committed to him as Lord, judgment over the living and the dead, and because, on the other hand, he has brought the knowledge of the truth, called sinful men, delivered them from the dominion of demons, and hath led, or will lead them, out of the night of death and corruption to eternal life. Jesus Christ is "our faith", "our hope", "our life", and in this sense "our God." The religious assurance that he is this, for we find no wavering on this point, is the root of the "theologia Christi"; but we must also remember that the formula "[Greek: theos]" was inserted beside "[Greek: kurios]," that the "dominus ac deus," was very common at that time,[247] and that a Saviour [Greek: soter] could only be represented somehow as a Divine being.[248] Yet Christ never was, as "[Greek: theos]," placed on an equality with the Father,[249]—monotheism guarded against that. Whether he was intentionally and deliberately identified with Him the following paragraph will shew.

4. The common confession did not go beyond the statements that Jesus is the Lord, the Saviour, the Son of God, that one must think of him as of God, that dwelling now with God in heaven, he is to be adored as [Greek: prostates kai boethos tes astheneias], and as [Greek: archiereus ton prosphoron hemon] [as guardian and helper of the weak and as High Priest of our oblations], to be feared as the future Judge, to be esteemed most highly as the bestower of immortality, that he is our hope and our faith. There are found rather, on the basis of that confession, very diverse conceptions of the Person, that is, of the nature of Jesus, beside each other,[250] which collectively exhibit a certain analogy with the Greek theologies, the naive and the philosophic.[251] There was as yet no such thing here as ecclesiastical "doctrines" in the strict sense of the word, but rather conceptions more or less fluid, which were not seldom fashioned ad hoc.[252] These may be reduced collectively to two.[253] Jesus was either regarded as the man whom God hath chosen, in whom the Deity or the Spirit of God dwelt, and who, after being tested, was adopted by God and invested with dominion, (Adoptian Christology);[254] or Jesus was regarded as a heavenly spiritual being (the highest after God) who took flesh, and again returned to heaven after the completion of his work on earth (pneumatic Christology).[255] These two Christologies which are, strictly speaking, mutually exclusive—the man who has become a God, and the Divine being who has appeared in human form—yet came very near each other when the Spirit of God implanted in the man Jesus was conceived as the pre-existent Son of God,[256] and when, on the other hand, the title, Son of God, for that pneumatic being, was derived only from the miraculous generation in the flesh; yet both these seem to have been the rule.[257] Yet, in spite of all transitional forms, the two Christologies may be clearly distinguished. Characteristic of the one is the development through which Jesus is first to become a Godlike Ruler,[258] and connected therewith, the value put on the miraculous event at the baptism; of the other, a naive docetism.[259] For no one as yet thought of affirming two natures in Jesus:[260] the Divine dignity appeared rather, either as a gift,[261] or the human nature ([Greek: sarx]) as a veil assumed for a time, or as the metamorphosis of the Spirit.[262] The formula that Jesus was a mere man ([Greek: psilos anthropos]), was undoubtedly always, and from the first, regarded as offensive.[263] But the converse formulae, which identified the person of Jesus in its essence with the Godhead itself, do not seem to have been rejected with the same decision.[264] Yet such formulae may have been very rare, and even objects of suspicion, in the leading ecclesiastical circles, at least until after the middle of the second century we can point to them only in documents which hardly found approbation in wide circles. The assumption of the existence of at least one heavenly and eternal spiritual being beside God, was plainly demanded by the Old Testament writings, as they were understood; so that even those whose Christology did not require them to reflect on that heavenly being were forced to recognise it.[265] The pneumatic Christology, accordingly, meets us wherever there is an earnest occupation with the Old Testament, and wherever faith in Christ as the perfect revealer of God, occupies the foreground, therefore not in Hermas, but certainly in Barnabas, Clement, etc. The future belonged to this Christology, because the current exposition of the Old Testament seemed directly to require it, because it alone permitted the close connection between creation and redemption, because it furnished the proof that the world and religion rest upon the same Divine basis, because it was represented in the most valuable writings of the early period of Christianity, and finally, because it had room for the speculations about the Logos. On the other hand, no direct and natural relation to the world and to universal history could be given to the Adoptian Christology, which was originally determined eschatologically. If such a relation, however, were added to it, there resulted formulae such as that of two Sons of God, one natural and eternal, and one adopted, which corresponded neither to the letter of the Holy Scriptures, nor to the Christian preaching. Moreover, the revelations of God in the Old Testament made by Theophanies, must have seemed, because of this their form, much more exalted than the revelations made through a man raised to power and glory, which Jesus constantly seemed to be in the Adoptian Christology. Nay, even the mysterious personality of Melchisedec, without father or mother, might appear more impressive than the Chosen Servant, Jesus, who was born of Mary, to a mode of thought which, in order to make no mistake, desired to verify the Divine by outer marks. The Adoptian Christology, that is, the Christology which is most in keeping with the self-witness of Jesus (the Son as the chosen Servant of God), is here shewn to be unable to assure to the Gentile Christians those conceptions of Christianity which they regarded as of highest value. It proved itself insufficient when confronted by any reflection on the relation of religion to the cosmos, to humanity, and to its history. It might, perhaps, still have seemed doubtful about the middle of the second century, as to which of the two opposing formulae "Jesus is a man exalted to a Godlike dignity", and "Jesus is a divine spiritual being incarnate", would succeed in the Church. But one only needs to read the pieces of writing which represent the latter thesis, and to compare them, say, with the Shepherd of Hermas, in order to see to which view the future must belong. In saying this, however, we are anticipating; for the Christological reflections were not yet vigorous enough to overcome enthusiasm and the expectation of the speedy end of all things, and the mighty practical tendency of the new religion to a holy life did not allow any theory to become the central object of attention. But, still, it is necessary to refer here to the controversies which broke out at a later period; for the pneumatic Christology forms an essential article, which cannot be dispensed with, in the expositions of Barnabas, Clement and Ignatius, and Justin shews that he cannot conceive of a Christianity without the belief in a real pre-existence of Christ. On the other hand, the liturgical formulae, the prayers, etc., which have been preserved, scarcely ever take notice of the pre-existence of Christ. They either comprise statements which are borrowed from the Adoptian Christology, or they testify in an unreflective way to the Dominion and Deity of Christ.

5. The ideas of Christ's work which were influential in the communities—Christ as Teacher: creation of knowledge, setting up of the new law; Christ as Saviour: creation of life, overcoming of the demons, forgiveness of sins committed in the time of error,—were by some, in conformity with Apostolic tradition and following the Pauline Epistles, positively connected with the death and resurrection of Christ, while others maintained them without any connection with these events. But one nowhere finds independent thorough reflections on the connection of Christ's saving work with the facts proclaimed in the preaching, above all, with the death on the cross and the resurrection as presented by Paul. The reason of this undoubtedly is that in the conception of the work of salvation, the procuring of forgiveness fell into the background, as this could only be connected by means of the notion of sacrifice, with a definite act of Jesus, viz., with the surrender of his life. Consequently, the facts of the destiny of Jesus combined in the preaching, formed, only for the religious fancy, not for reflection, the basis of the conception of the work of Christ, and were therefore by many writers, Hermas, for example, taken no notice of. Yet the idea of suffering freely accepted, of the cross and of the blood of Christ, operated in wide circles as a holy mystery, in which the deepest wisdom and power of the Gospel must somehow lie concealed.[266] The peculiarity and uniqueness of the work of the historical Christ seemed, however, to be prejudiced by the assumption that Christ, essentially as the same person, was already in the Old Testament the Revealer of God. All emphasis must therefore fall on this—without a technical reflection which cannot be proved—that the Divine revelation has now, through the historical Christ, become accessible and intelligible to all, and that the life which was promised will shortly be made manifest.[267]

As to the facts of the history of Jesus, the real and the supposed, the circumstance that they formed the ever repeated proclamation about Christ gave them an extraordinary significance. In addition to the birth from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin, the death, the resurrection, the exaltation to the right hand of God, and the coming again, there now appeared more definitely the ascension to heaven, and also, though more uncertainly, the descent into the kingdom of the dead. The belief that Jesus ascended into heaven forty days after the resurrection, gradually made way against the older conception, according to which resurrection and ascension really coincided, and against other ideas which maintained a longer period between the two events. That probably is the result of a reflection which sought to distinguish the first from the later manifestations of the exalted Christ, and it is of the utmost importance as the beginning of a demarcation of the times. It is also very probable that the acceptance of an actual ascensus in coelum, not a mere assumptio, was favourable to the idea of an actual descent of Christ de coelo, therefore to the pneumatic Christology and vice versa. But there is also closely connected with the ascensus in coelum, the notion of a descensus ad inferna, which commended itself on the ground of Old Testament prediction. In the first century, however, it still remained uncertain, lying on the borders of those productions of religious fancy which were not able at once to acquire a right of citizenship in the communities.[268]

One can plainly see that the articles contained in the Kerygma were guarded and defended in their reality ([Greek: kat' aletheian]) by the professional teachers of the Church, against sweeping attempts at explaining them away, or open attacks on them.[269] But they did not yet possess the value of dogmas, for they were neither put in an indissoluble union with the idea of salvation, nor were they stereotyped in their extent, nor were fixed limits set to the imagination in the concrete delineation and conception of them.[270]

Sec. 7. The Worship, the Sacred Ordinances, and the Organisation of the Churches.

It is necessary to examine the original forms of the worship and constitution, because of the importance which they acquired in the following period even for the development of doctrine.

1. In accordance with the purely spiritual idea of God, it was a fixed principle that only a spiritual worship is well pleasing to Hun, and that all ceremonies are abolished, [Greek: hina ho kainos nomos tou kuriou hemon Iesou Christou me anthropopoieton echei ten prosphoran].[271] But as the Old Testament and the Apostolic tradition made it equally certain that the worship of God is a sacrifice, the Christian worship of God was set forth under the aspect of the spiritual sacrifice. In the most general sense it was conceived as the offering of the heart and of obedience, as well as the consecration of the whole personality, body and soul (Rom XIII. 1) to God.[272] Here, with a change of the figure, the individual Christian and the whole community were described as a temple of God.[273] In a more special sense, prayer as thanksgiving and intercession,[274] was regarded as the sacrifice which was to be accompanied, without constraint or ceremony, by fasts and acts of compassionate love.[275] Finally, prayers offered by the worshipper in the public worship of the community, and the gifts brought by them, out of which were taken the elements for the Lord's supper, and which were used partly in the common meal, and partly in support of the poor, were regarded as sacrifice in the most special sense ([Greek: prosphora, dora]).[276] For the following period, however, it became of the utmost importance, (1) that the idea of sacrifice ruled the whole worship, (2) that it appeared in a special manner in the celebration of the Lord's supper, and consequently invested that ordinance with a new meaning, (3) that the support of the poor, alms, especially such alms as had been gained by prayer and fasting, was placed under the category of sacrifice (Heb. XIII. 16), for this furnished the occasion for giving the widest application to the idea of sacrifice, and thereby substituting for the original Semitic Old Testament idea of sacrifice with its spiritual interpretation, the Greek idea with its interpretation.[277] It may, however, be maintained that the changes imposed on the Christian religion by Catholicism, are at no point so obvious and far-reaching, as in that of sacrifice, and especially in the solemn ordinance of the Lord's supper, which was placed in such close connection with the idea of sacrifice.

2. When in the "Teaching of the Apostles," which may be regarded here as a classic document, the discipline of life in accordance with the words of the Lord, Baptism, the order of fasting and prayer, especially the regular use of the Lord's prayer, and the Eucharist are reckoned the articles on which the Christian community rests, and when the common Sunday offering of a sacrifice made pure by a brotherly disposition, and the mutual exercise of discipline are represented as decisive for the stability of the individual community,[278] we perceive that the general idea of a pure spiritual worship of God has nevertheless been realised in definite institutions, and that, above all, it has included the traditional sacred ordinances, and adjusted itself to them as far as that was possible.[279] This could only take effect under the idea of the symbolical, and therefore this idea was most firmly attached to these ordinances. But the symbolical of that time is not to be considered as the opposite of the objectively real, but as the mysterious, the God produced ([Greek: mysterion]) as contrasted with the natural, the profanely clear. As to Baptism, which was administered in the name of the Father, Son and Spirit, though Cyprian, Ep. 73. 16-18, felt compelled to oppose the custom of baptising in the name of Jesus, we noted above (Chap. III. p. 161 f.) that it was regarded as the bath of regeneration, and as renewal of life, inasmuch as it was assumed that by it the sins of the past state of blindness were blotted out.[280] But as faith was looked upon as the necessary condition,[281] and as on the other hand, the forgiveness of the sins of the past was in itself deemed worthy of God,[282] the asserted specific result of baptism remained still very uncertain, and the hard tasks which it imposed, might seem more important than the merely retrospective gifts which it proffered.[283] Under such circumstances the rite could not fail to lead believers about to be baptized, to attribute value here to the mysterious as such.[284] But that always creates a state of things which not only facilitates, but positively prepares for the introduction of new and strange ideas. For neither fancy nor reflection can long continue in the vacuum of mystery. The names [Greek: sphragis] and [Greek: photismos], which at that period came into fashion for baptism, are instructive, inasmuch as neither of them is a direct designation of the presupposed effect of baptism, the forgiveness of sin, and as besides, both of them evince a Hellenic conception. Baptism in being called the seal,[285] is regarded as the guarantee of a blessing, not as the blessing itself, at least the relation to it remains obscure; in being called enlightenment,[286] it is placed directly under an aspect that is foreign to it. It would be different if we had to think of [Greek: photismos] as a gift of the Holy Spirit, which is given to the baptised as real principle of a new life and miraculous powers. But the idea of a necessary union of baptism with a miraculous communication of the Spirit, seems to have been lost very early, or to have become uncertain, the actual state of things being no longer favourable to it;[287] at any rate, it does not explain the designation of baptism as [Greek: photismos].

As regards the Lord's Supper, the most important point is that its celebration became more and more the central point, not only for the worship of the Church, but for its very life as a Church. The form of this celebration, the common meal, made it appear to be a fitting expression of the brotherly unity of the community (on the public confession before the meal, see Didache, 14, and my notes on the passage). The prayers which it included presented themselves as vehicles for bringing before God, in thanksgiving and intercession, every thing that affected the community; and the presentation of the elements for the holy ordinance was naturally extended to the offering of gifts for the poor brethren, who in this way received them from the hand of God himself. In all these respects, however, the holy ordinance appeared as a sacrifice of the community, and indeed, as it was also named, [Greek: eucharistia], sacrifice of thanksgiving.[288] As an act of sacrifice, termini technici which the Old Testament applied to sacrifice could be applied to it, and all the wealth of ideas which the Old Testament connects with sacrifice, could be transferred to it. One cannot say that anything absolutely foreign was therewith introduced into the ordinance, however doubtful it may be whether in the idea of its founder the meal was thought of as a sacrificial meal. But it must have been of the most wide-reaching significance, that a wealth of ideas was in this way connected with the ordinance, which had nothing whatever in common, either with the purpose of the meal as a memorial of Christ's death,[289] or with the mysterious symbols of the body and blood of Christ. The result was that the one transaction obtained a double value. At one time it appeared as the [Greek: prosphora] and [Greek: thusia] of the Church,[290] as the pure sacrifice which is presented to the great king by Christians scattered over the world, as they offer to him their prayers, and place before him again what he has bestowed in order to receive it back with thanks and praise. But there is no reference in this to the mysterious words that the bread and wine are the body of Christ broken, and the blood of Christ shed for the forgiveness of sin. These words, in and of themselves, must have challenged a special consideration. They called forth the recognition in the sacramental action, or rather in the consecrated elements, of a mysterious communication of God, a gift of salvation, and this is the second aspect. But on a purely spiritual conception of the Divine gift of salvation, the blessings mediated through the Holy Supper could only be thought of as spiritual (faith, knowledge, or eternal life), and the consecrated elements could only be recognised as the mysterious vehicles of these blessings. There was yet no reflection on the distinction between symbol and vehicle; the symbol was rather regarded as the vehicle, and vice versa. We shall search in vain for any special relation of the partaking of the consecrated elements to the forgiveness of sin. That was made impossible by the whole current notions of sin and forgiveness. That on which value was put was the strengthening of faith and knowledge, as well as the guarantee of eternal life, and a meal in which there was appropriated not merely common bread and wine, but a [Greek: trophe pneumatike], seemed to have a bearing upon these. There was as yet little reflection; but there can be no doubt that thought here moved in a region bounded, on the one hand, by the intention of doing justice to the wonderful words of institution which had been handed down, and on the other hand, by the fundamental conviction that spiritual things can only be got by means of the Spirit.[291] There was thus attached to the Supper the idea of sacrifice, and of a sacred gift guaranteed by God. The two things were held apart, for there is as yet no trace of that conception, according to which the body of Christ represented in the bread[292] is the sacrifice offered by the community. But one feels almost called upon here to construe from the premises the later development of the idea, with due regard to the ancient Hellenic ideas of sacrifice.

3. The natural distinctions among men, and the differences of position and vocation which these involve, were not to be abolished in the Church, notwithstanding the independence and equality of every individual Christian, but were to be consecrated: above all, every relation of natural piety was to be respected. Therefore the elders also acquired a special authority, and were to receive the utmost deference and due obedience. But, however important the organisation that was based on the distinction between [Greek: presbuteroi] and [Greek: neoteroi], it ought not to be considered as characteristic of the Churches, not even where there appeared at the head of the community a college of chosen elders, as was the case in the greater communities and perhaps soon everywhere. On the contrary, only an organisation founded on the gifts of the Spirit [Greek: charismata], bestowed on the Church by God,[293] corresponded to the original peculiarity of the Christian community. The Apostolic age therefore transmitted a twofold organisation to the communities. The one was based on the [Greek: diakonia tou logou], and was regarded as established directly by God; the other stood in the closest connection with the economy of the church, above all with the offering of gifts, and so with the sacrificial service. In the first were men speaking the word of God, commissioned and endowed by God, and bestowed on Christendom, not on a particular community, who as [Greek: apostoloi, prophetai], and [Greek: didaskaloi] had to spread the Gospel, that is to edify the Church of Christ. They were regarded as the real [Greek: hegoumenoi] in the communities, whose words given them by the Spirit all were to accept in faith. In the second were [Greek: episkopoi], and [Greek: diakonoi], appointed by the individual congregation and endowed with the charisms of leading and helping, who had to receive and administer the gifts, to perform the sacrificial service (if there were no prophets present), and take charge of the affairs of the community.[294] It lay in the nature of the case that as a rule the [Greek: episkopoi], as independent officials, were chosen from among the elders, and might thus coincide with the chosen [Greek: presbyteroi]. But a very important development takes place in the second half of our epoch. The prophets and teachers—as the result of causes which followed the naturalising of the Churches in the world—fell more and more into the background, and their function, the solemn service of the word, began to pass over to the officials of the community, the bishops, who already played a great role in the public worship. At the same time, however, it appeared more and more fitting to entrust one official, as chief leader (superintendent of public worship), with the reception of gifts and their administration, together with the care of the unity of public worship, that is, to appoint one bishop instead of a number of bishops, leaving, however, as before, the college of presbyters, as [Greek: proistamenoi tes ekklesias], a kind of senate of the community.[295] Moreover, the idea of the chosen bishops and deacons as the antitypes of the Priests and Levites, had been formed at an early period in connection with the idea of the new sacrifice. But we find also the idea, which is probably the earlier of the two, that the prophets and teachers, as the commissioned preachers of the word, are the priests. The hesitancy in applying this important allegory must have been brought to an end by the disappearance of the latter view. But it must have been still more important that the bishops, or bishop, in taking over the functions of the old [Greek: lalountes ton logon], who were not Church officials, took over also the profound veneration with which they were regarded as the special organs of the Spirit. But the condition of the organisation in the communities about the year 140, seems to have been a very diverse one. Here and there, no doubt, the convenient arrangement of appointing only one bishop was carried out, while his functions had not perhaps been essentially increased, and the prophets and teachers were still the great spokesmen. Conversely, there may still have been in other communities a number of bishops, while the prophets and teachers no longer played regularly an important role. A fixed organisation was reached, and the Apostolic episcopal constitution established, only in consequence of the so-called Gnostic crisis, which was epoch-making in every respect. One of its most important presuppositions, and one that has struck very deep into the development of doctrine must, however, be borne in mind here. As the Churches traced back all the laws according to which they lived, and all the blessings they held sacred, to the tradition of the twelve Apostles, because they regarded them as Christian only on that presupposition, they also in like manner, as far as we can discover, traced back their organisation of presbyters, i.e., of bishops and deacons, to Apostolic appointment. The notion which followed quite naturally, was that the Apostles themselves had appointed the first church officials.[296] That idea may have found support in some actual cases of the kind, but this does not need to be considered here; for these cases would not have led to the setting up of a theory. But the point in question here is a theory, which is nothing else than an integral part of the general theory, that the twelve Apostles were in every respect the middle term between Jesus and the present Churches (see above, p. 158). This conception is earlier than the great Gnostic crisis, for the Gnostics also shared it. But no special qualities of the officials, but only of the Church itself, were derived from it, and it was believed that the independence and sovereignty of the Churches were in no way endangered by it, because an institution by Apostles was considered equivalent to an institution by the Holy Spirit, whom they possessed, and whom they followed. The independence of the Churches rested precisely on the fact that they had the Spirit in their midst. The conception here briefly sketched, was completely transformed in the following period by the addition of another idea—that of Apostolic succession,[297] and then became, together with the idea of the specific priesthood of the leader of the Church, the most important means of exalting the office above the community.[298]

Supplementary.

This review of the common faith and the beginnings of knowledge, worship and organisation, in the earliest Gentile Christianity, will have shewn that the essential premises for the development of Catholicism were already in existence before the middle of the second century, and before the burning conflict with Gnosticism. We may see this, whether we look at the peculiar form of the Kerygma, or at the expression of the idea of tradition, or at the theology with its moral and philosophic attitude. We may therefore conclude that the struggle with Gnosticism hastened the development, but did not give it a new direction. For the Greek spirit, the element which was most operative in Gnosticism, was already concealed in the earliest Gentile Christianity itself: it was the atmosphere which one breathed; but the elements peculiar to Gnosticism were for the most part rejected.[299] We may even go back a step further (see above, pp. 41, 76). The great Apostle to the Gentiles himself, in his epistle to the Romans, and in those to the Corinthians, transplanted the Gospel into Greek modes of thought. He attempted to expound it with Greek ideas, and not only called the Greeks to the Old Testament and the Gospel, but also introduced the Gospel as a leaven into the religious and philosophic world of Greek ideas. Moreover, in his pneumatico-cosmic Christology he gave the Greeks an impulse towards a theologoumenon, at whose service they could place their whole philosophy and mysticism. He preached the foolishness of Christ crucified, and yet in doing so, proclaimed the wisdom of the nature-vanquishing Spirit, the heavenly Christ. From this moment was established a development which might indeed assume very different forms, but in which all the forces and ideas of Hellenism must gradually pass over to the Gospel. But even with this the last word has not been said; on the contrary, we must remember that the Gospel itself belonged to the fulness of the times, which is indicated by the inter-action of the Old Testament and the Hellenic religions (see above, pp. 41, 56).

The documents which have been preserved from the first century of the Gentile Church are, in their relation to the history of Dogma, very diverse. In the Didache we have a Catechism for Christian life, dependent on a Jewish Greek Catechism, and giving expression to what was specifically Christian in the prayers, and in the order of the Church. The Epistle of Barnabas, probably of Alexandrian origin, teaches the correct, Christian, interpretation of the Old Testament, rejects the literal interpretation and Judaism as of the devil, and in Christology essentially follows Paul. The Romish first Epistle of Clement, which also contains other Pauline reminiscences (reconciliation and justification) represents the same Christology, but it set it in a moralistic mode of thought. This is a most typical writing in which the spirit of tradition, order, stability, and the universal ecclesiastical guardianship of Rome is already expressed. The moralistic mode of thought is classically represented by the Shepherd of Hermas, and the second Epistle of Clement, in which, besides, the eschatological element is very prominent. We have in the Shepherd the most important document for the Church Christianity of the age, reflected in the mirror of a prophet who, however, takes into account the concrete relations. The theology of Ignatius is the most advanced, in so far as he, opposing the Gnostics, brings the facts of salvation into the foreground, and directs his Gnosis not so much to the Old Testament as to the history of Christ. He attempts to make Christ [Greek: kata pneuma] and [Greek: kata sarka] the central point of Christianity. In this sense his theology and speech is Christocentric, related to that of Paul and the fourth Evangelist, (specially striking is the relationship with Ephesians), and is strongly contrasted with that of his contemporaries. Of kindred spirit with him are Melito and Irenaeus, whose forerunner he is. He is related to them as Methodius at a later period was related to the classical orthodox theology of the fourth and fifth centuries. This parallel is appropriate, not merely in point of form: it is rather one and the same tendency of mind which passes over from Ignatius to Melito, Irenaeus, Methodius, Athanasius, Gregory of Nyssa (here, however, mixed with Origenic elements), and to Cyril of Alexandria. Its characteristic is that not only does the person of Christ as the God-man form the central point and sphere of theology, but also that all the main points of his history are mysteries of the world's redemption. (Ephes. 19). But Ignatius is also distinguished by the fact that behind all that is enthusiastic, pathetic, abrupt, and again all that pertains to liturgical form, we find in his epistles a true devotion to Christ ([Greek: ho theos mou]). He is laid hold of by Christ: Cf. Ad. Rom. 6: [Greek: ekeinon zeto, ton hyper hemon apothanonta, ekeinon thelo ton di' hemas anastanta]; Rom. 7: [Greek: ho emos eros estaurotai kai ouk estin en emoi pur philoulon]. As a sample of his theological speech and his rule of faith, see ad. Smyrn. 1: [Greek: enoesa humas katertismenous en akineto pistei, hosper kathelomenous en to stauro tou kuriou Iesou Christou sarki te kai pneumati kai hedrasmenous en agape en to haimati Christou, peplerophoremenous eis ton kuriou hemon, alethos onta ek genous Dabid kata sarka, huion theou kata thelema kai dunamin theou, gegenemenon alethos ek parthenou, bebaptismenon hypo Ioannou, hina plerothe pasa dikaiosune hup' autou, alethos epi Pontiou Pilatou kai Herodou tetrarchou kathelomenon huper hemon en sarki—aph' hou karpou hemeis, apo tou theomakaritou autou pathous—hina are sussemon eis tous aionas dia tes anastaseos eis tous agious kai pistous autou eite en Ioudaious eite en ethnesin en heni somati tes ekklesias autou]. The Epistle of Polycarp is characterised by its dependence on earlier Christian writings (Epistles of Paul, 1 Peter, 1 John), consequently, by its conservative attitude with regard to the most valuable traditions of the Apostolic period. The Kerygma of Peter exhibits the transition from the early Christian literature to the apologetic (Christ as [Greek: nomos] and as [Greek: logos]).

It is manifest that the lineage, "Ignatius, Polycarp, Melito, Irenaeus", is in characteristic contrast with all others, has deep roots in the Apostolic age, as in Paul and in the Johannine writings, and contains in germ important factors of the future formation of dogma, as it appeared in Methodius, Athanasius, Marcellus, Cyril of Jerusalem. It is very doubtful therefore, whether we are justified in speaking of an Asia Minor theology. (Ignatius does not belong to Asia Minor.) At any rate, the expression, Asia Minor-Romish Theology, has no justification. But it has its truth in the correct observation, that the standards by which Christianity and Church matters were measured and defined, must have been similar in Rome and Asia Minor during the second century. We lack all knowledge of the closer connections. We can only again refer to the journey of Polycarp to Rome, to that of Irenaeus by Rome to Gaul, to the journey of Abercius and others (cf. also the application of the Montanist communities in Asia Minor for recognition by the Roman bishop). In all probability, Asia Minor, along with Rome, was the spiritual centre of Christendom from about 60-200: but we have but few means for describing how this centre was brought to bear on the circumference. What we do know belongs more to the history of the Church than to the special history of dogma.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11     Next Part
Home - Random Browse