Thursday, August 19, 2010

Hegesippus as the Eusebius before Eusebius

It is amazing to think how influential Eusebius was but a lot of silly people think Eusebius invented his data out of thin air (or at least so I have learned in various places on line). This is again a good reason to treasure our discovery of a 'second century Josephus' - later identified by Eusebius as 'Hegesippus' - whose work was highly influential in earliest Christianity.

Hegesippus was nothing short of the 'Eusebius before Eusebius.'

Now we don't know very much about what this work looked like but it is clear that it presented its readers with lists of the bishops of Jerusalem certainly and likely Corinth and Rome also. If - as I suggest - Hegesippus's original work was somehow connected with or an extension of Josephus's original work (which I think is inescapable from Clement's testimony) one might argue that Eusebius's chronology was developed in imitation of Hegesippus.

Hegesippus is our exclusive source of information about the Jerusalem Church and this is clearly demonstrated in the manner in which Eusebius seems to 'attach' a separate list of 'Gentile' bishops after the end of Hegesippu's chronology that seems very unconnected to what comes down as lasting there until 147 CE (the tenth year of Antoninus).

This is especially curious given that you might expect the Jerusalem church might have been wiped out in the bar Kochba revolt and had to start out wholly new c. 138 CE. But 147 CE there is a break and then something else starts later that is of the 'uncircumcision' which is as I said 'grafted on to' a list made by Hegesippus.

I also find it curious how closely related that second Jerusalem Church is to the Alexandrian tradition. They share the same emphasis of Easter falling on a Sunday which is strange because you'd think that 'Jewish Christianity' would be at home in Jerusalem. They also take in Clement and then Origen when they get into trouble with the authorities in Alexandria and then eventually make Origen a priest against the wishes of Demetrius.

In the Passio Petri Sancti tradition from memory some parts of Palestine were understood to fall under the traditional jurisdiction of the Alexandrian See. Eusebius's account is deceptively simplistic. I wonder whether Hegesippus's whole account of a succession of Jerusalem bishops is wholly fictitious. I also wonder how much confidence we can place in Hegesippus's authority when his work is so closely related to Josephus's narrative and his name is a disguise for Josephus.

I should also say that Eusebius never explicitly acknowledges Hegesippus as his source but it can be ascertained by connecting his various statements on the topic of the Jerusalem Church and the parallel chronology in Epiphanius with Clement's identification of a second century 'Josephus the Jew' who calculated the distance of Biblical figure from the year 147 CE (the tenth year of Antoninus).

I would argue too that this Hegesippus is the source of ALL of our information about the succession of bishops in Rome:

On my arrival at Rome, I drew up a list of the succession of bishops down to Anicetus, whose deacon was Eleutherus. To Anicetus succeeded Soter, and after him came Eleutherus. But in the case of every succession, and in every city, the state of affairs is in accordance with the teaching of the Law and of the Prophets and of the Lord....

I strongly suspect that Irenaeus is citing Hegesippus in AH iii.2.3 where he himself introduces the new figures of Peter and Linus as predecessors of Clement but then moves on to point to the figure formerly identified in Hegesippus as the first bishop of Rome:

Clement was allotted the bishopric. This man, as he had seen the blessed apostles, and had been conversant with them, might be said to have the preaching of the apostles still echoing [in his ears], and their traditions before his eyes. Nor was he alone [in this], for there were many still remaining who had received instructions from the apostles. In the time of this Clement, no small dissension having occurred among the brethren at Corinth, the Church in Rome despatched a most powerful letter to the Corinthians, exhorting them to peace, renewing their faith, and declaring the tradition which it had lately received from the apostles, proclaiming the one God, omnipotent, the Maker of heaven and earth, the Creator of man, who brought on the deluge, and called Abraham, who led the people from the land of Egypt, spake with Moses, set forth the law, sent the prophets, and who has prepared fire for the devil and his angels. From this document, whosoever chooses to do so, may learn that He, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, was preached by the Churches, and may also understand the apostolical tradition of the Church, since this Epistle is of older date than these men who are now propagating falsehood, and who conjure into existence another god beyond the Creator and the Maker of all existing things. To this Clement there succeeded Evaristus. Alexander followed Evaristus; then, sixth from the apostles, Sixtus was appointed; after him, Telephorus, who was gloriously martyred; then Hyginus; after him, Pius; then after him, Anicetus. Soter having succeeded Anicetus, Eleutherius does now, in the twelfth place from the apostles, hold the inheritance of the episcopate. In this order, and by this succession, the ecclesiastical tradition from the apostles, and the preaching of the truth, have come down to us. And this is most abundant proof that there is one and the same vivifying faith, which has been preserved in the Church from the apostles until now, and handed down in truth [AH iii.2.3]

I strongly think that Irenaeus is invoking Hegesippus here and that the list isn't of bishops up to his own day but up to Hegesippus. Just listen to how Hegesippus's opinions echo the EXACT sentiments referenced by

And the church of the Corinthians continued in the orthodox faith up to the time when Primus was bishop in Corinth. I had some intercourse with these brethren on my voyage to Rome, when I spent several days with the Corinthians, during which we were mutually refreshed by the orthodox faith. On my arrival at Rome, I drew up a list of the succession of bishops down to Anicetus, whose deacon was Eleutherus. To Anicetus succeeded Soter, and after him came Eleutherus. But in the case of every succession, and in every city, the state of affairs is in accordance with the teaching of the Law and of the Prophets and of the Lord....

Irenaeus is clearly aware of all aspects of Hegesippus's original letter WHICH CAME from the time of Eleutherius as Williams notes:

Hegesippus employed 1 Clement, a second source, in writing of Corinth (4.22.1–2). Succession ideas are absent from what remains of that letter in the Memoirs. What is recorded by Eusebius is that Hegesippus discussed the “dissension” covered in 1 Clement (Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 3.16). We propose that Hegesippus's discussion of this letter marked the stopping point of his succession for Corinth in the Memoirs. Hegesippus wrote, “And the church of the Corinthians remained in the true doctrine until Primus was bishop of Corinth." (4.22.1-2) There is a hint in this information that the succession to the time of Clement's letter. Hegesippus's discussion of the letter was probably of substantial length. Irenaeus discusses the letter in an excursus the length of a paragraph in his Roman bishop list (Haer. 3.3.3). Eusebius does not even mention Irenaeus in connection with the letter but does note that Hegesippus testified of the dissension “adequately” (Hist. eccl. 3.16). This suggests a discussion in Hegesippus more lengthy than the one in Irenaeus [Williams Bishop Lists p. 109]

I think that this suggests that Irenaeus's argument here has been framed by the full reference in Hegesippus's chronology. It also testifies to the importance of Hegesippus as a 'Eusebius before Eusebius' in the second century.

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