Page images

informer as a sycophant."* That is, as the history of those times enables us to interpret it, they were not to be punished as Christians till they were proved to be so, which was the case in the reign of Trajan; but does not amount to a toleration of the Jews at Jerusalem, on condition of their embracing Christianity.

Your favourite Mosheim says, that what was done by Adrian (in whose reign the persecution of Christians had raged with peculiar violence)" appears to have been a solemn renewal of the law of Trajan." In the reign of Antoninus Pius, but not before, it was ordered, that a man being proved to be a Christian, should not be deemed sufficient for his condemnation, unless he was also proved to have been guilty of some crime against the state. There

is, therefore, little reason to think that Adrian was so well disposed towards Christianity as to permit the rebellious Jews to remain in Jerusalem on condition of their embracing it.


I am, &c.

Of the Testimony of Epiphanius to the Existence of a Church of Orthodox Jewish Christians at Jerusalem, after the Time of Adrian.


AFTER the preliminary observations contained in the preceding Letter, I shall now consider the testimony that you have produced from Epiphanius.


You say, that this fact, (viz. of the return of the Jews from Pella to Jerusalem, after the wars of Adrian,)" of which Dr. Priestley does me the honour to make me the inventor, is asserted by Epiphanius.-The confidence," you add," with which he mentions this as a fact forged by me, is only one instance out of a great number of his own shameless intrepidity in assertion."‡

If, Sir, you wish to reclaim a person, you should never deprive him of all character, but should leave him a little, a small root, from which more may afterwards spring. Having now no character to lose, being capable of asserting any thing, true or false, that is likely to answer my purpose, I

* Remarks, p. 44. (P.) ↑ Eccl. Hist. (Cent. ii. Pt. ↑ Remarks, p. 46. (P.)

Tracts, pp. 367, 368.
i. Ch. ii. Šect. iii.), I. p. 128. (P.)
Tracts, pp. 370, 378.

will, "with the most shameless intrepidity," assert that Epiphanius mentions no such fact as you so very confidently suppose him to have done. After carefully examining the passage which you have produced, I do maintain that in it he makes no mention whatever of any return of Christian Jews from Pella, besides that which took place after the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, and not at all of any return after the destruction by Adrian. This is most evident from attending to the very next sentence which follows the words that you have quoted. The whole passage is as follows:

[ocr errors]

After mentioning Aquila, as appointed by Adrian, the inspector of his works at Elia, Epiphanius gives the following history of him:-"Aquila, living at Jerusalem, and seeing the disciples of the disciples of the apostles flourishing in the faith, and working great miracles, especially of healing; (for they had returned from the city of Pella to Jerusalem, and taught there; for when the city was about to be taken by the Romans, all the disciples had been forewarned by an angel to leave the city, which was devoted to destruction. These, leaving it, went and dwelt in the above-mentioned Pella, beyond Jordan, one of those that was called Decapolis; but, returning after the desolation of Jerusalem, as I have said, worked miracles;) Aquila, therefore, being convinced, became a Christian, and, after some time, requesting the seal of Christianity, (viz. baptism,) obtained it.'

What can be more evident, than that the return of the Jewish Christians from Pella, mentioned in this passage by Epiphanius, is that return which followed the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus? For he speaks of their having left that city antecedent to this return to it, in consequence of being warned by an angel so to do; which was said to be the case before the destruction by Titus, but never before that by Adrian; and it was by the disciples of those who then returned, that Aquila was converted to Christianity; which was probably a considerable time before the destruction of the Jews by Adrian.

* Ο τοινυν Ακύλας, διαγων εν τη Ιερεσαλήμ, και όρων της μαθητας των μαθητών των αποςόλων ανθεντας τη πιςει, και σημεία μέγαλα εργαζόμενες, ιασεων και άλλων θαυμα των ησαν γαρ ύποςρέψαντες απο Πέλλης της δεκαπόλεως εις Ιερεσαλήμ, και διδάσκοντες, ἥνικα γαρ εμελλεν ἡ πόλις άλισκεσθαι ὑπὸ τῶν Ῥωμαίων, προεχρηματίσθησαν ύπο αγγελο, παντες οἱ μαθηται μετάςηναι απο της πόλεως μέλλεσης, αρδην απολλυσθαι· οἱ τινες και μεταναςαι γενομενοι, ᾤκησαν εν Πελλη τη προγεγραμμένῃ πολει, περαν το Ιορδανε, ήτις εκ Δεκαπόλεως λέγεται είναι μετα δε την ερήμωσιν Ιερεσαλήμ αποτρέψαντες, ὡς ἔφην, σημεία μεγάλα επέτελεν. Ο ουν Ακύλας κατανύγεις την διάνοιαν, τῷ χρισιανισμό επιςευσεν αίτησας δε μετα χρονον την εν Χρισῳ σφραγίδα, εκόμισατο. De Mensuris et Ponderibus, Epiphanii Opera, II. p. 171. Paris, 1622. (P.)

[blocks in formation]

After the imperfect quotation of the passage, of which f have given the entire translation, you have the assurance to add, Whether this return of the Christians of Jerusalem from Pella took place in the interval between the end of Titus's war and the commencement of Adrian's, or after the end of Adrian's, is a matter of no importance. It is sufficient for my purpose that these returned Christians were residing at Jerusalem, or more properly at Ælia, at the same time that Aquila was residing there as overseer of the em peror's works. Let not the public be abused by any cavils which ignorance or fraud may raise about the chronology of the return."+

But certainly it must be of consequence to know whether Aquila was residing at Jerusalem after the destruction of that city by Adrian; and this is more than Epiphanius says, or is at all probable in itself; for the rebuilding of Jerusalem by Adrian, in which Aquila was employed by him, was undertaken in the 13th year of his reign, a year before the revolt of the Jews; and it was not till the 18th of Adrian that they were entirely subdued.

According to Epiphanius, Aquila, after his conversion to Christianity by the descendants of the Jewish Christians who were returned from Pella, (retaining his former practices,) was excommunicated by them. After this he became a Jew, and, applying himself to the study of the Scriptures, made a translation of them into Greek. This translation, Cave supposes to have been made A. D. 128 or 129, the 11th or 12th of Adrian. His conversion to Christianity, therefore, was probably prior to the reign of Adrian; and yet that is the only circumstance that proves any intercourse he ever had with Jewish Christians returned from Pella. On which side, then, is the ignorance, I say nothing of the fraud, of which you suspect me in this business? You must, Sir, dig deeper than you have yet done, for the foundation of this favourite church.

I am, &c.

* Dr. Horsley's quotation ends with Akuλas, (line 8, Note*, p. 289,) in Tracts, p. 370.

+ Remarks, p. 47. (P.) Tracts, pp. 370, 371.

↑ "During Adrian's stay at Athens, (A. D. 134,) the Jews revolted, provoked chiefly, says Dio Cassius, (L. Ixix. p. 798,) at Adrian's sending a Roman colony to Jerusalem; at his calling that city, after the name of his family, Elia Capitolina; and his erecting a temple to Jupiter Capitolinus in the place where the ancient temple stood, Spartian tells us, that Adrian published an edict, forbidding them to be circumcised, which prompted them to take up arms, and attempt the recovery of their ancient liberty. Be that as it will, Adrian had no sooner left Syria than they openly revolted." A. U. Hist. 1748, XV. p. 170.


Of the Evidence from Jerome in favour of the Existence of a Church of Orthodox Jewish Christians at Jerusalem, after the Time of Adrian.


I COME now to the two passages which you have quoted from Jerome. That on which you lay the greatest stress you introduce in the following manner: "But I give him Origen. I will rest the credit of my seventh position upon the mention which occurs in St. Jerome's Commentary upon Isaiah, of Hebrews believing in Christ, as distinct from the Nazarenes. St. Jerome relates two different expositions of the prophecy concerning Zabulon and Naphtali, delivered in the beginning of the 9th chapter of Isaiah, of which expositions he ascribes the one to the Hebrews believing in Christ, the other to the Nazarenes. The character given of these Hebrews, that they believed in Christ,' without any thing to distinguish their belief from the common belief of the church, without any note of its error or imperfection, is a plain character of compleat orthodoxy."

It is somewhat remarkable, that having before maintained that those whom Jerome called Nazarenes, in his epistle to Austin, were orthodox Christians, you should now allow that, by the same term, he here means heretics; and that the phrase, believing in Christ, should now be a character of complete orthodoxy, when in that epistle it is predicated of the heretical Ebionites. What clue can we have to any man's meaning, if he be supposed to use terms in such different and even opposite senses? When neither himself nor any other writer ever says that there were two such very different kinds of Nazarenes, what right can you have to assert that there were?

The passage in Jerome on which, though you lay so much stress, you do not quote, is as follows: in his interpretation of Isaiah ix. 1, (cited in Matt. iv. 16,) he says, " Galilee of the Gentiles, Aquila translates Divas of the, Gentiles, and Symmachus the boundaries of the Gentiles. By divas we understand heaps of sand on sea-coasts or shores. The Hebrews, believing in Christ, interpret the passage in this

* Remarks, p. 48. (P.) Tracts, p. 374.

manner. At first, these two tribes, Zabulon and Naphtali, were taken by the Assyrians, and carried into their enemy's country, and Galilee was destroyed; which the prophet now says was relieved, because he bore the sins of the people. But afterwards, not only the two tribes, but the rest that dwelled beyond Jordan, in Samaria, were carried captive. And this they say the scripture now declares, that the country whose people were first carried captive, and began to serve the Babylonians, and which was first involved in the darkness of error, was the first to see the light of Christ preaching to them, and from it the gospel was preached to all other nations. The Nazarenes, whose opinion I have given above, thus endeavour to explain the passage: Christ coming, and his preaching shining forth, in the first place the country of Zabulon and Naphtali, being delivered from the error of the Scribes and Pharisees, shook from their necks the heavy yoke of Jewish traditions; but afterwards, by the preaching of the apostle Paul, who was the last of the apostles, the preaching was increased or multiplied, and the gospel of Christ shone to the utmost boundaries of the Gentiles and of the ocean. Then all the world, which before walked or sat in darkness, and was held in the chains of idolatry and death, saw the clear light of the gospel."*

[ocr errors]

Before you can shew that this passage, on which you lay so much stress, is at all to your purpose, you must prove the three following things: first, that the Hebrews believing in Christ were different from the Nazarenes; secondly, that the former were completely orthodox; and, thirdly, that those orthodox Jewish Christians resided at Jerusalem. And it appears to me, that not one of these suppostions is at all probable.

"Pro Galilæa Gentium, Aquila Jas gentium, Symmachus, terminos gentium interpretati sunt: Sivas autem tumulos intelligimus arenarum, qui vel in littoribus vel in ripis sunt. Hebræi credentes in Christum hunc locum ita edisserunt. Primo tempore hæ duæ tribus Zabulon et Nephtalim ab Assyriis captæ sunt et ductæ in hostilem terram, et Galilæa deserta est, quam nunc propheta dicit alleviatam esse, eo quod peccata populi sustineret. Postea autem non solum duæ tribus, sed et reliquæ quæ habitabant trans Jordanem in Samaria, ductæ sunt in captivitatem. Et hoc, inquiunt, scriptura nunc dicit, quod regio cujus populus primus ductus est in captivitatem et Babiloniis servire cœpit, et quæ prius in tenebris versabatur erroris, ipse primum lucem prædicantis viderit Christi, et ex ea in universas gentes sit evangelium seminatum. Nazaræi, quorum opinionem supra posui, hunc locum ita explanare conantur. Adveniente Christo, et prædicatione illius coruscante, prima terra Zabulon et terra Nephtalim Scribarum et Pharisæorum est erroribus liberata, et gravissimum traditionum Judaicarum jugum excussit de cervicibus suis. Postea autem per evangelium apostoli Pauli, qui novissimus apostolorum omnium fuit, ingravata, est, i. e. multiplicata prædicatio, et in terminos gentium et viam universi maris Christi evangelium splenduit. Denique omnis orbis, qui ante ambulabat vel sedebat in tenebris, et idololatriæ ac mortis vinculis tenebatur, clarum evangelicum lumen aspexit." Opera, IV. p. SS. (P.)

« PreviousContinue »