« PreviousContinue »
mated in Note II.) can be produced as at all vouching for the fact of Paul's ever visiting Spain ; I was aware, that the name of Hippolytus (Portuensis) has been brought forward as giving an early authority to that tradition. No one, however, now disputes that the author of the work so quoted, “ Indiculus de xii apostolis," must have been the Hippolytus who lived in the tenth century: and of course not a word needs to be said upon that subject.
We pass on, therefore, at once to Eusebius, the professed historian of the Christian church down to the year a. D. 324, with a collection of all the principal books then extant before him, and what is remarkable enough, certainly the epistle of Clemens among
the rest. Does Eusebius, then, know any thing of such a journey undertaken by St. Paul ? Not an iota of it appears in the pages of his Ecclesiastical History: or rather, indeed, if plain and direct omission can prove any thing, let me appeal with confidence to the following passages of first-rate import; from the translation by C. F. Cruse, M. A., London, 1838.
Bk. 111. ch. i. 66 Why should we speak of Paul, spreading the gospel of Christ from Jerusalem to Illyricum, and finally suffering martyrdom at Rome, under Nero ?”
Ibid. ch. iv. “That Paul preached to the Gentiles, and established churches from Jerusalem, and around as far as Illyricum, is evident both from his own expressions, and from the testimony of Luke in the book of Acts.'
Surely, to omit all mention of such a fact, on the very occasions where he might have inserted, and from its importance he ought to have inserted it, must be considered as decisive proof, either that Eusebius had never read of the journey to Spain, or never on any authority which could sanction the acknowledgment of his belief in it as true and certain matter for history.
How then, it may be said, can the story be accounted for, which afterwards appears in the pages of Chrysostom, Theodoret, and others ? The following conjecture is offered, as showing the probable way in which this matter might originate.
We read in Irenæus, L. I. c. iii., who is dated about A.D. 170, that “neither do the churches, founded in Germany, believe or transmit doctrines different from others, nor those in Spain, ούτε εν ταις Ιβηρίαις, nor those among the Celts, nor in the East, in Egypt, and Libya, and in the middle parts of the world.”
Such is the representation, incidentally given by Irenæus, of churches then as founded in Spain, a hundred years at least, after the period when Paul is supposed to have taken that journey. But as regards the national name, that is expressed by a different word, 'Ienplans, and not by the word in ROMANS Xv. 24. 28., which is Enaylay. Now this difference, if it be insufficient to prove that the writer's knowledge of what then existed in Spain, bore no reference to the apostle as its author, seems at any rate to indicate, that the writer had not that
passage of the sacred text then in his mind. In the lapse of two hundred years after this testimony of Irenæus, we are certain, that a still wider extension of the Christian faith took place in that country, which must have become generally known to other Christian communities.
From these premises, what may we reasonably conclude, at the close of the fourth century? It is highly probable, that along with the intention or hope once announced by St. Paul to visit Spain, the fact of churches now so widely established in it, would, in pious and imaginative minds, be readily combined, and produce, as a natural effect, the attribution of the whole establishment there to the great apostle as to its primary founder.
Hence, too, a fervent orator like Chrysostom (dated A. D. 398), without any misgiving or doubt, but without such belief as careful investigation alone could justify, would kindle with the glorious theme; and to magnify St. Paul as the Hercules of Christianity, would carry him on, in his heroic enterprises, to the very extremity of the western world. Rhetorical flourishes are in their nature contagious; and what was once oratorically said by Chrysostom, would be echoed and re-echoed by others, without a grain of evidence or historical truth being ever thrown into the scale of its credibility.
Should the great names of Athanasius, Cyril of Jerusalem,
Epiphanius, and Jerome, be objected as of somewhat earlier date and authority than that of Chrysostom, I am duely aware, from a work (of the 16th century) reprinted at Chichester in 1819, by the late venerable Bishop Burgess,
De Pauli apostoli itinere in Hispaniam
Disputationes duæ, auctore Pererio Valentino, that those writers are there so quoted; and I do not mean to deny that they have in the main been quoted truely. But I confidently maintain that after the time of Eusebius's Ecclesiastical History, mere obiter assertions of Paul having gone into Spain are entitled to no serious regard; as having originated much in the same way, in which, it is here conjectured, the mind of Chrysostom might have conceived that splendid idea, if he had not caught it from the suggestion of others.
On the supposed Authority of Caius, the Presbyter.
In the Reliquiæ Sacræ of the learned and excellent Dr. Routh, vol. iv. pp. 1...37., there is given Fragmentum incerti auctoris de canone S. Scripturarum, with large annotations from the pen of Dr. Routh, and including extracts from Muratori, its first editor, and from Freindaller, its latest.
That paragraph of the fragment, p. 4., which begins “ Acta autem omnium apostolorum ... seems to have been welcomed as strongly contributing to establish for a fact profectionem Pauli ab urbe ad Spaniam proficiscentis." Those words are decisively so considered by Mr. Greswell, Dissertations, &c., vol. iv. pp. 225, 6.
My objections to the validity of such inference from such authority are the following, stated with as much brevity, the case will allow, to those readers who have Dr. Routh's book before them.
That paragraph, then, as it now stands, attributes to St. Luke in the Acts a declaration of the martyrdom of St. Peter, for which the editor refers, in the Note, to John xxi.
18, 19., as if that were its verification; and for the journey of St. Paul to Spain, which also St. Luke is affirmed to have declared, the editor refers to Rom. xv. 24. 28., as if that afforded the satisfaction required.
Now is it possible, let me ask, that he who originally wrote thus, if such indeed was his meaning, could have been himself an intelligent man? Or if intelligence be allowed in the first instance to the writer, are we not driven to conclude, that the original manuscript must have suffered strange corruption in the hands of its several transcribers, to exhibit such striking signs of error and obscurity as it now does ?
For argument's sake, let us overlook what is thus grossly objectionable, and let us concede that the passage, even as it stands, records an early opinion in favour of St. Paul's having travelled into Spain. What is the whole amount of its value, taken at the highest, at Muratori's own estimate ? but that Caius the presbyter, at the close of the second century, was author of the fragment, and in those words delivered his own belief of the journey alluded to.
Even so much concession of its being genuine and true would still carry little weight in the balance against other facts and considerations, which are here advanced on the con
But fortunately, perhaps, a clue seems to be afforded by internal evidence at once to account for that opinion of the anonymous writer, and to show the invalidity of its foundation. The editor of the fragment, at pp. 4, 5., on the paragraph which follows that already mentioned, clearly indicates, that he understood the principal epistles of St. Paul to have been taken by the author of it in this order of succession : to the Corinthians in the first, to the Romans in the seventh and last place of the whole !
Therefore, Caius the presbyter (or whoever it was else) if he proceeded at all logically on that calculation to its natural consequences, must have imagined that only a short interval before St. Paul's coming as a prisoner to Rome, preceded the declaration (Rom. xv. 24. 28.) of his design to visit Spain, and that the very first step which he took after his deliverance, would be to execute that intention.
From false premises thus assumed (in common with others, perhaps,) by the author of that fragment, the false conclusion would follow naturally enough, that Paul did accomplish the purpose which, under those circumstances, he had announced. And on this easy hypothesis, with so much gross neglect of apostolic chronology, besides other points of ignorance alleged against him by his own editors, the erroneous imagination of that author may, I think, be fairly accounted for, reducing the value of his authority in the scale to very little above nothing.
And no consideration, let me add, but that of very deep and sincere respect for the names mingled up with this question, could have induced me to bestow on the point before us
ous and continued attention, far beyond what, from own merits, it might otherwise demand.
Which, from the conjecture on Titus iii, 13. in s. 2.,
may be assigned to p. 123. of this work.
s. 1. On the Epistle to the Hebrews. s. 2. On the two persons who might have been the
bearers of it.
s. 1. In the title to his HORÆ PAULINÆ, Dr. Paley distinctly says, The Truth of the Scripture History of St. Paul, evinced by a comparison of the Epistles which bear his name, &c.; and immediately in the Exposition of the argument, he says again, The volume of Christian Scriptures contains thirteen Letters purporting to be