Saturday, August 28, 2010

Reconciling Hegesippus With Anicetus

A colleague pointed out to me to day that there seems to be a slight discrepancy between the idea that Hegesippus wrote a chronology dated to 147 CE in the reign of Anicetus when Anicetus is usually thought to have been Pope of the Catholic Church from about 150 to about 167 (the Vatican's list cites 150 to 167 or 153 to 168). I had noticed that small difficulty when I started developing my historical reconstruction but didn't feel I needed to reconcile events to the official chronology when it is clearly fraught with disagreements and difficulties especially with regards to the oldest period of the Roman Church.

Indeed what established the connection however was the parallel list of bishops of Jerusalem in Eusebius and Epiphanius which also ends in the tenth year of Antoninus Pius. I am well aware that scholarship has traditionally frowned on the idea that Hegesippus is related to Josephus (even though the idea is echoed throughout the later Patristic writers - viz. George Syncellus etc).

Neither Epiphanius nor Eusebius explicitly says that their shared episcopal succession list for Jerusalem is from Hegesippus but Lightfoot, Lawlor and others have already made the connection. What they haven't done is connected that information with Clement's chronology from 'Josephus the Jew' which also calculates the distance of Biblical events from the tenth year of Antoninus Pius.

All three of our authors (Irenaeus, Eusebius and Epiphanius) are also recognized to be drawing from the same episcopal list for the Roman See. Lawlor emphasizes that Epiphanius draws his slightly different report about the Carpocratians directly from Hegesippus rather than Irenaeus. This report from Hegesippus's report is dated from the reign of Anicetus.

Interestingly Lawlor notices that Epiphanius's source gives specific information about the dates of the Roman list which he surmises comes directly from Hegesippus rather than Eusebius. This can't be proven of course but Epiphanius does acknowledge some inherent ambiguity in his source:

But after Clement had been appointed and declined, if this is what happened—I suspect this but cannot say it for certain—he could have been compelled to hold the episcopate in his turn, after the deaths of Linus and Cletus who were bishops for twelve years each after the death of Saints Peter and Paul in the twelfth year of Nero [Panarion 1.27]

What is the underlying ambiguity? I don't know but it is worth noting that we don't have any direct information about any specific dates from Epiphanius about the rest of the list. I think that the list was just a list of names beyond Cletus. This might account for the inexactness of Anicetus's reign. I suspect that Clement was not part of the original succession list which would account for 147 CE being taken to be already the start of Anicetus's reign in Hegesippus.

Eusebius's citation of Clement as the third pope is remarkably different from the previous two. He simply says "Clement also was appointed the third bishop of the church of Rome" (HE 3.4.10). Another sign that the original list was problematic is the Liberian Catalogue (likely compiled by Hippolytus) where Anacletus is doubled into Cletus and Anacletus, while Clement appears before, instead of after, these two names and the order of Popes Pius and Anicetus has also been interchanged.

What is the original problem? I think it has to have something to do with Irenaeus establishing the original list and calculating the original crucifixion to the reign of Claudius. The point is that the early list wasn't as exact as we should like and so it is entirely possible that Hegesippus's book was dated to BOTH 147 CE AND the reign of Anicetus. There was an inherent inexactness in the period.

If we look more closely at the Liberian Canon the same thing happens - the author seems intent to fill a 'gap' of a little under seven years which may have been caused by Irenaeus's original identification of the Passion as taking place in the reign of Claudius. The reign of Anicetus again starts in 150 CE but Anicletus and Cletus (variants of the same name) are taken to be two different people. If we take out Cletus then the reign of Anicetus starts c. 144 CE if we take out Anicletus and leave Cletus (who appears first in the list) then the reign starts in 138 CE (which in turn might explain why Pius and Anicetus are interchanged because 'Pius' starts looking remarkably similar to Antoninus Pius whose reign also began in 138 CE).

As an alternative to my clumsy efforts to reconstruct the chronology there is Schaff's explanation that Hegesippus must have come BEFORE Anicetus's reign. Here is the relevant footnote in his annotation of Eusebius:

Anicetus, according to the Armenian Chron. of Eusebius, succeeded Pius in the fifteenth year of Antoninus Pius; according to Jerome’s version, in the eighteenth year (i.e. 155 or 156), which is more nearly correct. Lipsius puts his accession between 154 and 156 (see note 14, above). According to chap. 19, below, with which both versions of the Chron. agree, Anicetus held office eleven years; i.e. until 165 to 167, when he was succeeded by Soter. Irenæus (as quoted by Eusebius in Bk. V. chap. 24) informs us that Polycarp was in Rome in the time of Anicetus, and endeavored to induce him to adopt the Quartodeciman practice of celebrating Easter; but that, while the two remained perfectly friendly to one another, Anicetus would not change the custom of the Roman church (see the notes on the chapter referred to). As stated in note 13, the Liberian and Felician Catalogues incorrectly insert the name of Anicetus between those of Hyginus and Pius. Eusebius evidently makes a mistake here. That Hegesippus remained so long in Rome (Anicetus ruled from 154–168 (?), and Eleutherus from 177–190) is upon the face of it very improbable. And in this case we can see clearly how Eusebius made his mistake. In chap. 22 he quotes a passage from Hegesippus in regard to his stay in Rome, and it was in all probability this passage from which Eusebius drew his conclusion. But Hegesippus says there that he “remained in Rome until the time of Anicetus,” &c. It is probable, therefore, that he returned to the East during Anicetus’ episcopacy. He does not express himself as one who had remained in Rome until the reign of Eleutherus; but Eusebius, from a hasty reading, might easily have gathered that idea. According to Hegesippus’ account in chap. 22, he must, then, have come to Rome before Anicetus, i.e. during the reign of Pius, and this Eusebius does not here contradict, though he is said to do so by Reading, who translates the Greek words, ἐπιδημῆσαι τῇ ῾Ρώμῃ, “came to the city” (so, also, Closs, Stigloher, and Crusè). But the words properly mean “to be in Rome,” not “to come to Rome,” which would require, rather, ἐπιδημῆσαι εἰς τὴν ῾Ρώμην, as in §2, above, where the words are used of Cerdon. Jerome, to be sure (de vir. ill. 22), says that Hegesippus came to Rome in the time of Anicetus; but his account rests solely upon Eusebius, whom he mistranslated. The tradition, therefore, that Hegesippus came to Rome in the time of Anicetus has no foundation; he was already there, as he himself informs us, in chap. 22, below. Cf. the note on this passage, in chap. 22. [p. 184]

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