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Irenaeus of Lyons

Irenaeus (1), bp. of Lyons. Very little is known of his personal history except that he was a native of Asia Minor; in early youth had seen and heard bp. Polycarp at Smyrna; afterwards came into Gaul, and during the persecution of 177 carried, as presbyter of Lyons, a letter from the Gallican confessors to the Roman bp. Eleutherus (174 or 175-189); after the death of bp. Pothinus of Lyons (177) became his successor (Eus. H. E. v. 5), and was still bishop in the time of bp. Victor, who succeeded Eleutherus at Rome (189-198 or 199); and that he took a leading part in all ecclesiastical transactions and controversies of the time, St. Jerome speaks of him (de Vir. Ill. 35) as having flourished in the reign of Commodus (180-192). His birth is assigned to widely distant epochs. The earliest and the latest dates proposed are 50 years apart (97-147). Various considerations lead us to fix on c. 126, or possibly c. 136, as the latest admissible date.

Of his youthful literary training and culture we can only judge from his writings, which shew some acquaintance with the Greek poets and philosophers; he cites Homer, Hesiod, Pindar, and Plato. Of his Christian training he tells us that, besides instructions from Polycarp, he had other teachers, "Presbyters" (of Asia Minor), whom he designates as mediate or immediate disciples of the apostles (Haer. ii. 22, 5; iv. 27, 1; 32, 1; v. 5, 30, 1; 33, 3; 36, 1). Whether he was personally acquainted with Papias, whom he mentions so frequently, is uncertain. If he was in Rome A.D. 156 he doubtless continued his studies there. The time of his removal into Gaul is unknown, but there were close ties between the missionary church of Gaul and the mother-churches of Asia Minor. At the time of the persecution, to which the aged bp. Pothinus fell a victim in the 17th year of Marcus Aurelius, A.D. 177 (cf. my Chronologie der römischen Bischöfe, p. 185), Irenaeus was a presbyter at Lugdunum. That Irenaeus wrote the epistle of the Gallican confessors to the churches of Asia Minor and Phrygia, which so vividly describes the persecution (ap. Eus. H. E. v. 1), is an uncertain conjecture. There is indeed a fragment preserved by Oecumenius and assigned to Irenaeus (Fragm. Graec, xiii. ap. Harvey, ii. 482 seq.), which really stands in very close connexion with that epistle, mentioning in a similar way the calumny about "Thyestean banquets," which rested on depositions wrung from tortured slaves, the endeavours of the persecutors to force the martyrs Sanctus and Blandina to make alike confession, and Blandina's answer, which, though not identical with that in the epistle, is nearly related to it. Irenaeus's mission to Rome was undertaken to intercede with bp. Eleutherus for the Montanists of Asia Minor in the name and on behalf of the Gallican confessors (Eus. H. E. v. 3, 4). That another object of the journey was that Irenaeus himself might obtain episcopal consecration at Rome is an unproved assertion of some Roman Catholic authors. The common assumption that there was then no episcopal see but Lyons in all Gaul is hardly warranted by the fact that in the narrative of the persecution at Vienne a deacon only and no bishop is mentioned. A better argument is that Eusebius (H. E. v. 23) appears to speak of Irenaeus as bishop of all the churches of Gaul. But neither can be regarded as a sure proof.

As bp. of Lyons Irenaeus was distinguished for his zeal for the conversion of the heathen (cf. the Acts of St. Ferreolus and his companions, Boll. Acta SS. 16 Jun. iii.), and yet more by his conflicts with heretics and his strenuous endeavours to maintain the peace of the church, in true accord with his name IerhnaioV (Peace-man). His great work Against all Heresies was probably written during his episcopate. The preface informs us that he then first wrote as an ecclesiastical writer. We subsequently find him exerting himself to protect the churches of his native country (Asia Minor) from Roman pretensions and aggression. The Roman bp. Victor was


endeavouring to compel these churches, which had hitherto kept Easter, with the Jews, on Nisan 14, to conform to the practice of Rome. On their refusal to abandon the custom of their forefathers, their reasons being given in a letter addressed to Victor by Polycrates, bp. of Ephesus, he had cut them off from his communion. This harsh treatment was highly disapproved by many even of those who, like the Roman bishop, kept Easter on the Sunday following the equinoctial full-moon. Among these was Irenaeus himself. In the name of all the Gallican churches he remonstrated with Victor, in a writing of which a considerable fragment is extant, reminding him of the example set by his predecessors, who had found no occasion in these differences of paschal observance for excommunicating their brethren of Asia Minor. Irenaeus (as Eusebius further informs us, H. E. v. 23) also appealed to other foreign bishops, but without any effect on the harsh determination of the Roman. Another writing of Irenaeus mentioned by Eusebius (H. E. v. 20), which seems to have referred to the same subject, was entitled peri scismatoV and addressed to Blastus, head of the Roman Quartodecimans.

How long Irenaeus was bishop is uncertain. His death is commonly assigned to 202 or 203. This rests on the assumption that he was martyred under Septimius Severus. But such a martyrdom is by no means established. Tertullian, Hippolytus, Eusebius, Epiphanius, Ephrem, Augustine, Theodoret, are silent. In the Syriac fragments Irenaeus is frequently spoken of as "a disciple of Polycarp, bishop and martyr," but not himself honoured with the martyr's title either there or in any quotations from his writings. The first witness for his martyrdom is found in Jerome's commentary on Isaiah, written c. 410, where (c. 64) Irenaeus is spoken of as vir apostolicus episcopus et martyr; but when elsewhere treating ex professo of his life and writings (de Vir. Ill. c. 35), Jerome is silent as to his martyrdom. As Dodwell conjectures, the words et martyr may be an interpolation. If not, Jerome must have learnt the alleged fact subsequently to 392, when the de Viris Illustribus was written. There is no witness for it earlier than the 5th cent.

Writings.--The chief was the great work in five books against Gnosticism entitled 'EleggoV kai anatroph thV yeudwnumou gnwseuV, Detectio et eversio falso cognominatae agnitionis. (The full Greek title is found in Eus. H. E. v. 7; Phot. Bibl. Cod. 120 and elsewhere; cf. also frequent references to it by Irenaeus in the praefationes to bks. ii. iv. v. and the conclusion of bk. iv.) It is commonly cited under the briefer title pros aireseiV (contra Haereses) We possess it entire in the Latin version only, which, however, must have been made from the Greek original very soon after its composition, since the Latin was used by Tertullian some ten years after, in his tractate adv. Valentinianos. Its translator was a Celt (witness the barbarous Latinity); probably one of the clergy of Lyons. Most of the original work being now lost, the slavish literality of the translator imparts to his version a very high value. Many obscurities of expression, arising in part from a misunderstanding of the Greek idiom, admit an easy solution when translated back into Greek. Beside this Latin version, which appears to have soon superseded the Greek original in the Western church, there was a Syriac translation, of which numerous fragments are extant and were first put together by Harvey in his ed. of Irenaeus (ii. 431 seq.). They are derived from the Brit. Mus. collection of Nitrian MSS., some of which are as old as the 6th, 7th, and 8th cents. (cf. Harvey, ii. 431, note). To these are added (Nos. xxi. xxxi. and xxxii.) fragments of an Armenian interpolated version first published by Pitra in his Spicilegium Solesmense, t. i. (Paris, 1852). Of these No. xxi. only is taken from the work Against Heresies. The almost entire agreement between these Syriac fragments and the Old Latin version further witnesses its genuineness and fidelity. The Greek original, said to have been still extant in the 16th cent., was made great use of by Hippolytus (or whoever wrote the Philosophumena), Epiphanius, and Theodoret. To the numerous extracts in these writers, esp. the first two, we owe the greater part of the original Greek of bk. i.--the preface and cc. 1-21 entire, and numerous fragments besides. Of the other books, the Greek has come down to us in isolated passages, mostly through citations by Eusebius. The ed. of Wigan Harvey (2 vols. Camb. 1857) is based on a careful collation of the Codices Claromont. and Arundel. His Prolegomena contain minute investigations into the origin, characteristics and main phenomena of Gnosticism, as well as concerning the life and writings of Irenaeus.

Against Heresies was written in Gaul. (Irenaeus says so expressly, lib. i. praef. 3, cf. i. 13, 7. We follow Massuet's division of chapters.) The date of composition is determined iii. 3, 3, in which he speaks of Eleutherus as then twelfth in succession to the apostles on the episcopal chair of Rome (nun dwdekatw potw ton thV episkophV apo twn apostolwn katecei klhron EleuqeroV). According to this, the third book was written at the earliest A.D. 174 or 175, at the latest A.D. 189 (cf. Chronologie der röm. Bischöfe, pp. 184 sqq.). The commencement and completion of the work were possibly some years apart, but we cannot put the date of bks. iv. and v. so late as the episcopate of Victor (189-198 or 199). We may tentatively assume 182, the mid-period of Eleutherus's episcopate, or (since the first two books alone appear to have been written immediately after each other--cf. the prefaces to bks. ii. and iii.-v.) we may propose from A.D. 180 to 185 as the date of the whole work. To assign a more exact date is hopeless. That Irenaeus wrote as bishop, and not earlier than 178 as presbyter, is by far most probable, though it cannot be drawn with absolute certainty from the words of the preface to bk. v. to which Massuet appeals.

As the first external motive for its composition, Irenaeus himself mentions (lib. i. praef.; ii. 17, 1; iii. praef.) the request of a friend for some instruction as to the heretical opinions of the Valentinians and how to refute them. The recent spread of the Valentinian sect through the Rhone district had already led Irenaeus to acquaint himself particularly


with their writings and tenets. The dangerous character of their teaching had been fully recognized by others, whom he modestly designates as multo nobis meliores; but these had been (iv. praef.) unable through ignorance of the Valentinian "rule" or system of doctrine to adequately refute it. That it was his first object to refute Valentinianism, and only in a secondary and occasional way to attack other heresies, is evident from the whole construction and arrangement of bk. i., which is almost exclusively occupied with the Valentinians, and in a great measure bk. ii. also. Irenaeus repeatedly observes that he who refutes the Valentinians at the same time refutes all other heresies (cf. ii. 31, 1) "destructis itaque his qui a Valentino sunt, omnis haereticorum eversa est multitudo," an assertion of which he proceeds (31, 1-35, 5) to give detailed proof, in reference to various heretical parties. Thus in the preface to bk. iv. he speaks of the "doctrina eorum qui sunt a Valentino" as a "recapitulatio omnium haereticorum," and in. bk. ii. of having taken them as an example of the way in which all heretics are to berefuted ("tanquam speculum habuimus eos totius eversionis"). In bks. iii. iv. and v. the circle of vision is enlarged. Taking the Scriptures for his guide, he goes through in order the fundamental doctrines of Gnosticism, and besides Valentinian dogmas reviews the cognate ones of other heretical schools,specially of the Marcionites but nowhere gives such a connected view and refutation of other Gnostic systems as of the Valentinian in bk. ii.

His sources were primarily the writings of the heretics themselves. In the preface of bk. i. he speaks of the upomnhmata of disciples of Valentinus, and observes that he has been in personal communication with some of them. More particularly it is the school of Ptolemaeus, an apanqisma thV Oualentinou scolhV, whose dogmatic system he sets himself to describe. The detailed account (c. Haer. i. 1-7) describes its development in the Western or Italian form, and this from several writings, one of which Clemens Alexandrinus also made use of in the excerpta ex scriptis Theodoti, cc. 44-65. From another source were derived additional details, cc. 11 and 12, of various opinions within the Valentinian system and of Valentinus himself, Secundus, Ptolemaeus, and others; c. 13, 1-5, cc. 14 and 15 are concerned with Marcus, his magic arts and theories about the symbolism of letters and numbers, concluding with a citation of some Iambic Senarii, written against him by a "Divinae aspirationis Senior et Praeco veritatis" (o qeopneustoV presbuthV kai khrux thV alhqeiaV). The same authority is further designated, after the quotation, as "amator Dei senior," which Epiphanius expresses by o qeofilhV presbuthV.

Two other sources, from which Irenaeus may have derived acquaintance with Gnostic opinions, have been conjectured by Harnack (Zur Quellenkritik der Geschichte des Gnosticismus, p. 56) for the information in bks. iii.-v. concerning the details of Marcion's system, which with the Valentinian is the heresy most frequently referred to in that portion. These were Marcion's own writings and a refutation of Marcion by a presbyter of Asia Minor.

It would be of great interest to obtain more exact impressions of those other presbyters to whose words and writings Irenaeus makes frequent reference. Besides the "God-loving elder," from whom he borrows the Iambic Senarii against Marcus, Irenaeus cites on various occasions from "presbyters and disciples of the apostles" ; under which title, besides Polycarp, bp. Papias of Hierapolis must certainly be included. From bk. iv. of Papias's Logiwn kuriakwn exhghseiV Irenaeus cites the saying traditionally attributed to our Lord on the alleged testimony of St. John concerning the glories of His millennial kingdom (v. 33, 3 sqq.).

Of the writings of Polycarp there is no certain trace in Irenaeus, but he held in faithful remembrance his oral utterances. He knows indeed several writings of the bp. of Smyrna (Ep. ad Florin. ap. Eus. v. 20) and specially mentions Polycarp's Ep. to the Philippians (Haer. iii. 3, 4). Of the works of Justin Martyr Irenaeus knew and used--besides the Syntagma against all Heresies, and the possibly identical Syntagma against Marcion--the first Apologies, without, however, citing it (Quellen der ältesten Ketzergeschichte, p. 63). From which of Justin's works the citation, v. 26, 2, is derived cannot be decided. With far greater confidence we may assume Irenaeus to have used the Memoirs of Hegesippus (iii. 3, 3; 4, 3, cf. Quellen der alt. Ketzergesch. p. 73), and he makes one citation from the Ep. of Ignatius to the Romans (v. 28, 4), but without mentioning his name.

Irenaeus's great work is divided into five books. Bk. i. contains a detailed account of the Valentinian system, together with a general view of the opinions of the other sects. Bk. ii. undertakes to exhibit the unreasonableness and self-contradiction of the doctrines of Valentinianism. His chief object here is to combat the doctrine of the Demiurge or Creator as a subordinate existence outside the Pleroma, of limited power and insight, and separated from the "Father" by an infinite chasm. He also controverts the Valentinian doctrine concerning the Pleroma and its antithesis the Kenoma, the theory of Emanations, of the Fall of Achamoth, and the formation of the lower world through the sufferings of the Sophia; and finally, at great length, the Gnostic teaching concerning souls, and the distinction between Psychici and Pneumatici. Bks. iii. iv. and v. contain the refutation of Gnostic doctrines from Holy Scripture, preceded by a short dissertation on the sources of Christian truth. The one foundation of the faith is the gospel transmitted first by oral tradition and subsequently committed to writing. The Gnostics allow neither the refutation of their doctrines out of Scripture nor disproof from tradition. Against the one they appeal to a secret doctrine handed down among themselves, against the other to their own higher knowledge (gnosis). Irenaeus meets them by stating the characteristics of genuine apostolic tradition as ensuring the right interpretation of Holy Scripture. The chief media and transmitters of this tradition are the apostolic churches and their episcopal succession from the apostles themselves (Haer. iii. 1-4). He proceeds to give the proof from


Scripture--first, against the doctrine of the Demiurge, then against the Gnostic Christology. There is but one God, Creator of the world and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is the Son, the Eternal God-Logos, and has truly been made Flesh in order to redeem mankind from its fall in Adam. Under this head he combats the errors of both Docetae and Ebionites, and, returning to his main purpose, attacks the chief Gnostic doctrine in a refutation of Marcion's attempt to distinguish between the Good God and the Just or judicial God. This occupies him at the close of bk. iii. Bk. iv. is directed against the same doctrine. Irenaeus now attacks the distinction made between the lawgiver and the Father, shewing the identity of the divine revelation in O. and N. T., the close connexion between law and gospel, and the typical pre-announcement of the N.T. in the Old. He shews that eternal happiness or endless misery will befall men from the same God, as reward or as punishment for their own free choice of good or evil. Bk. v. gives a detailed proof of the resurrection of the body and of the millennial kingdom.

Of other writings of Irenaeus, fragments only, or bare names, have been preserved. Whether he ever carried out the intention, announced i. 27, 4 and iii. 12, 12, of writing a special treatise against Marcion, cannot be determined. Eusebius (H. E. v. 8) mentions this intention, and elsewhere (H. E. iv. 25) reckons Irenaeus, with Philip of Gortyna and Modestus, among authors who had written against Marcion. Of his Epistle to Florinus, Eusebius has preserved a considerable fragment. FLORINUS was an older contemporary of Irenaeus and a disciple of Polycarp. He was afterwards a presbyter at Rome, and was deposed, apparently for heresy (Eus. H. E. v. 15). The epistle of Irenaeus, addressed to him, bore also, according to Eusebius (H. E. v. 20), the title peri monarciaV h peri tou mh einai ton Qeon poihthn kakvn, which implies that he had adopted Gnostic opinions. The "God" whom he apparently regarded as the author of evil was the Gnostic Demiurge. He afterwards, according to Eusebius, inclined to Valentinianism; whereupon Irenaeus addressed him in another treatise, peri ogdoadoV, from which Eusebius quotes the concluding words, conjuring the copyists to make an accurate and faithful transcript of his words. The epistle peri monarciaV is regarded by Leimbach (Zeitschrift für lutherische Theologie, 1873, pp. 626 seq.) and Lightfoot (Contemp. Rev. 1875, May, p. 834) as one of Irenaeus's earliest writings. Leimbach would date it between 168 and 177, but his arguments are trivial. Of far greater importance is Lightfoot's argument that the treatise peri ogdoadoV was probably written before the great work Against Heresies, since its detailed treatment of the Valentinian system would have made a special tractate on the Ogdoad superfluous. But Lightfoot seems to have overlooked the fragmentary portion of an epistle to Victor of Rome, preserved among the Syriac fragments of Irenaeus (Fragm. xxviii. ap. Harvey, ii. p. 457), which is introduced with the words, "And Irenaeus, bp. of Lyons, to Victor, bp. of Rome, concerning Florinus, a presbyter who was a partisan of the error of Valentinus, and published an abominable book, thus wrote:" whereupon follows the fragment itself. From these words it appears that the epistle from which the fragment was taken could not have been written till after the first three books Against Heresies, probably not till after the completion of the whole, and, at the earliest, c. 190.

If Eusebius is right in making the deposition of the Roman presbyter Blastus contemporaneous with that of Florinus, the epistle addressed to the former by Irenaeus and entitled peri scismatoV (Eus. H. E. v. 20) must belong to the same period. Blastus was, according to Eusebius, the head of the Roman Montanists (H. E. v. 15)--cf. also Pacianus, Ep. ad Sympronian. c. 1--and, according to Pseudo-Tertullian (Libell. adv. Omn. Haereses, 22), a Quartodeciman. Both are probably correct. We know that the Montanists of Asia Minor (like the Christians there) kept Easter on Nisan 14 (cf. Schwegler, Montanismus, p. 251); it is therefore quite credible that Blastus, as a Montanist, may have conformed to Quartodeciman practice, and, as a member of the Roman presbytery, may have sought to introduce it into Rome. But if Blastus be the one referred to in another Syriac fragment (Fragm. xxvii. ap. Harvey, ii. 456), he was not an Asiatic but an Alexandrian; and on this supposition his Quartodecimanism must have come from his close connexion with the Montanists of Asia Minor, since the Paschal calendar of Alexandria was the same as that of Rome. One can, moreover, quite understand bp. Victor's responding to any attempt on Blastus's part to create a schism in the Roman church by introducing the Asiatic custom, with deposition from the presbyteral office. Such a breach of discipline in his own diocese (the actual spectacle of some Roman Christians keeping Easter with the Asiatics on Nisan 14, and in opposition to the ancestral custom of the bps. of Rome) would naturally excite him to uncompromising harshness towards the brethren of Asia Minor generally; so that on these refusing to conform to the Roman custom, he at once cut off the churches of the Asiatic province and the neighbouring dioceses from his church-communion (cf. my art. in Zeitschrift für wissenschaftliche Theologie, 1866, pp. 192 seq., and Chronologie der röm. Bischöfe, p. 174). These ecclesiastical troubles moved the man of peace, Irenaeus, to send letters of remonstrance to both Blastus and bp. Victor. To the former, which according to Eusebius bore the title peri scismatoV, may possibly be assigned the Syriac fragment (xxvii. ap. Harvey, ii. 456) introduced with the following words: "Irenaeus, bp. of Lyons, who was a contemporary of Polycarp, disciple of the apostle, bp. of Smyrna and martyr, and for this reason is held in just estimation, wrote to an Alexandrian that it is right, with respect to the Feast of the Resurrection, that we should celebrate it upon the first day of the week." But inasmuch as we know from Eusebius (H. E. v. 24) that Irenaeus wrote on the same subject to several persons, it is possible that this Alexandrian may have been another than Blastus. Of the letter to Victor Eusebius (ib.) has preserved a considerable


extract showing that the current controversies regarded also the mode and duration of the antecedent Paschal fast. Some kept one day, others two days, others several days; some again reckoned their fast-day at 40 hours of day and night (oi de tessarakonta wraV hmerinaV to kai nukterinaV sunnetrousi thn hmeran autwn). But these differences of practice resting on ancient custom--so Irenaeus proceeds to say--have never yet disturbed the church's peace and unity of faith. For although former bishops of Rome, from Xystus to Soter, had never kept Nisan 14, they had always maintained full communion with any who came from dioceses where it was observed; e.g. Polycarp, whom Anicetus permitted to celebrate in his own church, both separating afterwards in peace. No title is iven by Eusebius to this epistle, but according to the Quaestiones et Responsa ad Orthodoxos of Pseudo-Justin (c. 115) it was entitled peri tou Pasca (cf. Fragm. Graec. vii. ap. Harvey, ii. 478). In the same work Pseudo-Justin tells us further that the old Christian custom of refraining from kneeling on Easter Day, as a sign of Christ's resurrection, is carried back by Irenaeus to apostolic times, and the observance of this custom continued through the season of Pentecost, as the whole period (of 50 days after Easter) was regarded as equal to Easter Day itself.

Of other writings of Irenaeus Eusebius mentions (H. E. v. 26) a short tractate, pros ''EllhnaV, which bore also the title peri episthmhV, addressed to a certain Marcian; and a biblion dialexewn diaforwn, in which he is said to have cited Hebrews and the Wisdom of Solomon. Jerome, apparently copying Eusebius, makes, however, a distinction (de Vir. Ill. 35) between the logoV proV ''EllhnaV and the peri episthmhV ("scripsit . . . contra Gentes volumen breve et de Disciplina aliud"). The tractate on Apostolical Preaching addressed to Marcian appears to have been a catechetical work on the Rule of Faith. The biblion dialexewn appears, in accordance with the early usage of the word dialexeiV (cf. Harvey, i. p. clxvii. sqq.), to have been a collection of homilies on various Scripture texts. Rufinus incorrectly renders dialexeiV by Dialogus; Jerome by Tractatus. From these homilies were probably taken the numerous Gk. fragments found in various catenae, containing expositions of various passages of the Pentateuch and the historical books of O.T. and of St. Matthew and St. Luke (Fr. Graec. xv.-xxiii., xxv.-xxix., xxxi., xxxiii., xxxiv., xxxix., xl., xlii.-xlvii.), as well as the Syriac fragment of an exposition of the Song of Solomon (Fr. Syr. xxvi. ap. Harvey, ii. 455) and the Armenian homily on the Sons of Zebedee (Fr. Syr. xxxii. ap. Harvey, ii. 464 sqq.). To the same collection would also belong a tractate on the History of Elkanah and Samuel, mentioned in a Syriac manuscript (Harvey, ii. 507 note).

His Theology and Influence on Ecclesiastical Development.--Irenaeus, with Tertullian, Hippolytus, Cyprian, on the one side, and Clemens Alexandrinus and Origen on the other, was a main founder of the ancient Catholic church, as it rose amid conflicts with Gnosticism and Montanism, out of the church of the post-apostolic era. Baur and the Tiibingen school were wrong in explaining the development of primitive Catholic Christianity as the fruit of a compromise effected by the Pauline and Petrine parties soon after the middle of the 2nd cent. to overcome the new opposition. The earliest post-apostolic form of Christianity was no mere product of conflicting antitheses of the apostolic time, or of their reconciliation. The Jewish-Christian communities of Palestine and Syria formed, even towards the end of the 1st cent., a small and vanishing minority as compared to the swelling dimensions of the Gentile church. That to some extent Jewish-Christian influences did operate upon Gentile Christianity during the former half of the 2nd cent. need not wholly be denied; yet the one feature in which we are most tempted to trace them--the conception of the gospel as a new law--is quite as much the outcome of an internal development within the Gentile church itself. The ultimate triumph of Christian universalism, and the recognized equality between Jewish and Gentile members of the church of the Messiah, was a fruit of the life-long labours of St. Paul. The new Christian community, largely Gentile, regarded itself as the true people of God, as the spiritual Israel, and as the genuine heir of the church of the O.T., while the great mass of Jewish unbelievers were, as a penalty for their rejection of the true Messiah, excluded from the blessings of the kingdom of God. To this new spiritual Israel were speedily, in part at least, transferred the forms of the O.T. theocracy, and all the Jewish Scriptures were received as divinely inspired documents by the new church. But, whereas St. Paul had emphasized the antithesis between law and gospel, the Gentile churches after his time attached themselves more closely to the doctrinal norm of the older apostles, and laid stress on the continued validity of the law for Christians; though, as it was impossible to bind Gentiles to observe the ceremonial law, its precepts were given, after the example of the Jewish religious philosophy of Alexandria, a spiritual interpretation. Already, in Hebrews, we find the relations between O. and N. T. viewed under the aspect of Type and Anti-type, Prophecy and Fulfilment. The later Gentile Christianity learned to see everywhere in O.T. types of the gospel revelation, and thus combined freedom from the Mosaic ceremonial law with the maintenance of the entire continuity of the O. and N. T. revelation. The Moral Law, as the centre and substance of the Mosaic revelation, remained the obligatory norm of conduct for Gentile Christians; Christ had not abrogated the law of Moses, but fulfilled and completed it. The theological learning of the time confines itself too exclusively to a typological interpretation of O.T. So much the greater, on the other hand, is the influence exercised upon these writers by heathen philosophic culture. In the Apologists of the middle portion of the 2nd cent.--Justin, Tatian, Theophilus, Athenagoras--this influence appears specially strong. Justin makes constant endeavours to comprehend Christianity


under the then generally accepted forms of philosophical speculation, and to commend it as a manifestation of the highest reason to the cultured minds of his time. In this way he became the first founder of a Catholic system of theology. The doctrine of the Divine Logos as the "Second God," the Mediator through Whom all divine revelation is transmitted, was already for Justin an apologetic weapon, remained thence forward a standing basis for the philosophical defence of Christianity, and proved in after-times the strongest weapon in the church's armoury in the conflict with Gnostic opinions.

The widespread appearance of the manifold forms of Gnosticism in the 2nd cent. is a most significant proof of the far-reaching influence exercised by pagan thought and speculation on the Gentile church of that age. The danger from the influx on all sides of foreign thought was all the greater because the Gentile churches had as yet but a feeble comprehension of the ideas specially belonging to Christianity. The conflict with Gnosticism gradually gave fresh vigour to that revival of fundamental Christian and Pauline thought which distinguishes the theology of Irenaeus and of other early "Catholic" doctors at the end of the 2nd and beginning of the 3rd cent. from the simpler and poorer view of Christian truth presented in the works of the early Apologists. The perils with which the Gnostic speculation menaced the Christian system were, on the one hand, concerned with that which formed a common groundwork for Christianity and Judaism--i.e. first and specially the Monotheistic principle itself, and then the doctrines of Divine Justice, Freedom of the Will, and Future Retribution; on the other hand, they had regard to the traditions peculiar to Christianity concerning the historical person and work of Jesus Christ, the genuine human realism of His life and sufferings, the universal application of His redeeming work to all believers, and the external and historical character of that final restitution to which Christians looked forward. The Monotheistic idea, the divine monarcia, was assailed by the Gnostic doctrine of the Demiurge, the Pleroma, and the series of Aeons; and the universally accepted doctrine of our Lord's Incarnation and Messiahship by the various forms of Gnostic docetism. Further, the whole ethical basis of Christian religion was destroyed by the distinctions which Gnostic teachers made between two or three separate classes of mankind, and by their view of redemption as a purely theoretical process, or as the impartation of true knowledge (gnosis) to those only who by their own originally pneumatic nature had from the beginning been predestined to reception into the heavenly realm of light. Instead of the Christian doctrine of Freewill and consequent responsibility, they taught an iron heathenish metaphysical Necessity, which arbitrarily determined the fortunes of men; instead of a future divine recompense according to the measure of faith and works, a one-sided over-estimation of mere knowledge as the one condition of ultimate salvation; instead of the original Christian notion of the final consummation as a series of great outward visible occurrences, the resurrection of the flesh, a day of final judgment, and the setting up on earth of a millennial kingdom, they taught the spiritualistic conception of a saving deliverance of pneumatic souls and their translation into the upper world; whereas for the Psychici was reserved only a limited share in such knowledge and salvation, and for the material ("hylic" or "choic") man and for the earthly bodies of men, nothing but an ultimate and complete annihilation. It cannot be denied that both the Gentile Christianity of that era and the Catholic theology of following times appropriated various elements nearly related to these Gnostic speculations. A Catholic gnosis also appeared, which differed essentially from that heretical gnosis in intending to maintain unimpaired the received foundations of Christian faith. Yet, in truth, the idealistic speculations of the Alexandrine school were separated from those of the heretical gnosis by very uncertain lines of demarcation, and were afterwards, in some essential points, rejected by the church. Irenaeus, in contradistinction to the Alexandrine doctors, appears to have been less concerned with setting up a Catholic in opposition to the heretical gnosis, than with securing the foundations of the common Christian faith by strengthening the bands of existing church unity. He recognizes certain subjects which, as lying outside the rule of faith delivered to all, might be safely entrusted to the deeper and more searching meditations and inquiries of the more enlightened, but these related only to a clearer understanding of the details of the history of divine revelation, the right interpretation of parables, insight into the divine plan of human salvation (why God should bear with such long-suffering the apostasy of angels and the disobedience of man at the Fall), the differences and unity of the two Testaments, the necessity for the Incarnation of the Logos, the second coming of Christ at the end of time, the conversion of the heathen, the resurrection of the body, etc. (Haer. i. 10, 3). These questions would arise in the course of the Gnostic controversy, but the form in which Irenaeus presents them assumes everywhere a clear antithesis to Gnostic speculation and a firm retention of the Catholic rule of faith. Only in quite an isolated form is once named the question why one and the same God should have created the temporal and the eternal, the earthly and the heavenly; while Irenaeus insists strongly on the narrow bounds of human knowledge and insight, and on the impossibility for mortal man to know the reasons for everything (ii. 25, 3; 28, 1), and is never weary of chastising the arrogant presumption of the Pneumatici who exalt themselves above the Creator, while their impotence in the presence of His works is manifest to all (ii. 30, 1 sqq.).

His theoretical refutation of Gnostc opinions, e.g. in bk. ii., is full of acute remarks. His main purpose is to repel the Gnostic assault on the divine monarchia. He shews that by the separation of the Creator from the highest God, the absolute being of God Himself is denied. Neither above nor beside the Creator Himself can there be any other principle, for so God Himself would cease to be the


all-embracing Pleroma, and being limited from without would cease to be infinite. And so again, if the Pleroma be separated from all beneath it by an immeasurable discrepancy, a third principle is introduced, which limits the other two, and is greater than both, and the questions concerning the limiting and the limited become boundlessly insoluble. He urges similar arguments against the doctrine of creative angels. If their creative energies are independent of the Godhead, God ceases to be God; if dependent upon Him, He is represented as needing inferior assistants. Against the assumption of a vacuum (kenwma, skia kenwmatoV) outside the Divine Pleroma, he remarks that, if the world be thought of as produced out of this void and formless substratum without the knowledge of the protatwr, then the attribute of omniscience is denied Him. Nor can it be explained why for such endless times He should have left that space thus empty. Again, if God did actually beforehand form this lower world for Himself in thought, then was He its real creator. In that case its mutability and transient duration must have been fore-willed by the Father Himself, and not be due to any defect or ignorance on the part of an inferior maker. The origin of the kenwma also is incomprehensible. If it be an emanation from the Divine Pleroma, that Pleroma itself must be burdened with emptiness and imperfection. If it be self-originated, it is really as absolute as the Father of all Himself. Such a defect, again, in the Pleroma, like a spot on a garment, would have been at once removed, in the very beginning, had the Divine Father been able to remove it; if otherwise, the blame of letting it remain so long must fall upon Him, and He will have to be accounted, like the heathen Jupiter, repentant over His own ways. Nay, if He was unable to remove this defect in the beginning, He cannot remove it now. The imperfection of this lower world leads back then to the conclusion that there must have been something void or formless, dark or disorderly, an element of error or infirmity in the Father Himself or in His Pleroma. The like thought recurs in the further argument that the temporal and transient could not have been made after the image of the unchangeable and eternal without introducing into it an alien element of mutability. The image must be like its prototype, and not opposed to it, and therefore the earthly material composite cannot be the image of that which is spiritual without drawing down the spiritual into its own sphere of materialism. The same objection is made to the notion that the corporeal may be an image or shadow of the spiritual world. It is only something corporeal that can cast a shadow. Again, if it be maintained that the Creator could not make the world out of Himself, but only after a foreign archetype, the same must be true of the Divine Father. He also must have derived, from some other source, the archetype of that higher world of which He was the maker, and so on. The question about type and archetype would thus be drawn out into infinity (ii. 1-8). But inasmuch as we must stop at some original at last, it is far more reasonable to believe that the Creator and the One only God are one and thesame (ii. 16, 1 sqq.).

In the interest of the same absolute divine Perfection and Unity, Irenaeus controverts the Valentinian doctrine of the Aeons. Besides noting the arbitrary way in which the Pleroma is made to consist of 30 Aeons, neither more nor less (ii. 12, 1; 15, 1; 16, 1), he finds fault with the anthropomorphic conceptions behind the whole theory of emanations. The fact that the Propator Himself is reckoned as an Aeon, the unemanate, unborn, illimitable, formless One placed in the same class with emanations and births and limitations and forms, destroys the absolute perfection of the divine Nature (ii. 12, 1). Again, the separation from the Godhead of its own indivisible elements, the conception of the divine ''Ennoia, the divine NouV, the divine LogoV, etc., as so many hypostases, which in various stages have issued from its bosom, is an unwarrantable transfer of human passions and affections to the divine, which, on the contrary, is all ''Ennoia, all NouV, all LogoV, and knows of no such division from itself (ii. 13). He subjects to acute criticism the manner in which each Aeon is supposed to have been produced: was it without substantial separation, as the ray proceeding from the sun, or was it hypostatical, as one human being is personally distinct from all others, or was it by organic growth, as the branch from the tree? He asks whether these emanations are all of the same substance with those from which they proceed and contemporaneous with them, or have come forth in different stages? Whether they are all simple and alike, as spirits and lights, or composite and corporeal and of various forms? (ii. 17, 1 sqq.). He insists on carrying to their literal consequences the mythological conceptions which regarded the Valentinian Aeons as so many distinct personalities, produced according to human analogy among themselves; and he offers the alternative, that they must either be like their original Parent the Father and therefore impassible as He is (in which case there could be no suffering Aeon like the Valentinian Sophia), or different from Him in substance and capable of suffering, upon which the question arises, how such differences of substance could come to exist in the unchangeable Pleroma.

So acute a polemic must have equally served the interests of philosophy by its maintenance of the absolute character of the divine idea and of religion by its assertion of the divine monarchia. Irenaeus, like other opponents of Gnosticism, was clearly convinced that the whole system betrayed influences of heathen thought. The theory that everything must return to the originals of its component parts, and that God Himself is bound by this Necessity, so that even He cannot impart to the mortal immortality, to the corruptible incorruption, was derived by the Gnostics from the Stoics; the Valentinian doctrine of the Soter as made up from all the Aeons, each contributing thereto the flower of his own essence, is nothing more than the Hesiodic fable about Pandora.

Yet the Gnostics wished and meant to be Christians, and indeed set up a claim to possess a deeper knowledge of Christian truth than the Psychici of the church. Like their opponents, they appealed to Scripture in proof


of their doctrines, and also boasted to be in possession of genuine apostolical traditions, deriving their doctrines, some from St. Paul, others from St. Peter, others from Judas, Thomas, Philip, and Matthew. In addition to the secret doctrine which they professed to have received by oral tradition, they appealed to alleged writings of the apostles or their disciples. In conducting his controversy on these lines with the Valentinians, Irenaeus remarks first on their arbitrary method of dealing with Scripture; and describes their mode of drawing arguments from it as a "twisting ropes of sand" (i. 8, 1; ii. 10, 1). They indulge in every kind of perverse interpretation, and violently wresting texts out of their natural connexion put them arbitrarily together again after the manner of the centos made from Homer (i. 9, 4). He compares this proceeding to that of a bungler who has broken up a beautiful mosaic portrait of a king made by skilful artists out of costly gems, and puts the stones together again to form an ill-executed image of a dog or fox, maintaining that it is the same beautiful king's portrait as before (i. 8, 1). Since the Gnostics specially exercised their arts of interpretation on our Lord's parables, Irenaeus repeatedly lays down principles on which such interpretation should be made (ii. 10, 2; 20, 1 sqq.; 27, 1 sqq.). Dark and ambiguous passages are not to be cleared up by still darker interpretations nor enigmas solved by greater enigmas; but that which is dark and ambiguous must be illustrated by that which is consistent and clear (ii, 10, 1). Irenaeus himself in interpreting Scripture, especially when he indulges in allegory, is not free from forced and arbitrary methods of exposition (cf. e.g. the interpretations of Judg. vi. 37, in Haer. iii. 17, 3; Jon. ii. 1 sqq. Haer. iii. 20, 1; Dan. ii. 34, Haer. iii. 21, 7); but in opposition to the fantastic interpretations which characterize the Valentinian school, he represents for the most part the historical sense of the written Word. His main purpose in the last three books is to refute the Gnostics out of Scripture itself. Irenaeus quotes as frequently from N.T. as from O.T. Whereas formerly men had been content with the authority of O.T. as the documentary memorial of divine revelation, or with the Lord's own words in addition to the utterances of law and prophets, they now felt more and more impelled, and that by the very example of the Gnostics themselves, to seek a fixed collection of N.T. Scriptures and to extend to them the idea of divine inspiration. The Gnostics in their opposition to O.T., which they supposed to have proceeded from the Demiurge or some subordinate angelic agency, had appealed to writings real or supposed of the apostles as being a more perfect form of divine revelation, and the first point to be established against them was the essential unity of both revelations--Old and New. Bk. iv. is almost wholly devoted by Irenaeus to the proof of this point against Marcion. It is one and the same Divine Spirit that spake both in prophets and apostles (iii. 21, 4), one and the same Divine Authority from which both the law and its fulfilment in Christ proceeds. The O.T. contains presages and fore-types of Christian Revelation (iv. 15; 15, i.; 19, i. etc.); the literal fulfilment of its prophecies proves that it came from the same God as the N.T., and is therefore of the same nature (iv. 9, 1). The prophets and the gospels together make up the totality of Scripture ("universae Scripturae," ii. 27, 2). That the Bible is one divinely inspired whole is thus clearly enunciated. Even Justin Martyr seems to regard the gospels rather as memoirs (apomnhmoneumata) by apostles of the Lord's words and actions than as canonical Scriptures; but Irenaeus cites passages from the gospels as inspired words of the holy Spirit, using the same formulae of citation as for O.T. (iii. 10, 4; 16, 2; cf. ii. 35, 4 and 5), and similarly from the epistles and Apocalypse (iii. 16, 9; v. 30, 4). The two main divisions of the N.T. canon are for him the gospels and the apostolic writings (ta euaggelika kai ta apostolika, i. 3, 6). These two already constitute a complete whole, like the Scriptures of the O.T., and he therefore blames the Ebionites for using only the gospel of St. Matthew, the Docetae only that of St. Mark, Marcion St. Luke's gospel only and the Pauline epistles, and even these not unmutilated (iii. 11, 7 and 12, 12). He remarks that those "unhappy ones" who reject the gospel of St. John cast away also the divine prophetic spirit of which it contains the promise (iii. 11, 9). But he equally condemns the use of apocryphal writings. The teachers of Alexandria, with laxer notions about inspiration, made use of such without scrupulosity. Irenaeus draws a clear line of demarcation between canonical Scriptures and apocryphal writings. He blames the Valentinians for boasting to possess "more gospels than actually exist" (iii. 11, 9) and the Gnostic Marcus for having used besides our Gospels "an infinite number of apocryphal and spurious works" (i. 20, 1). He considers himself able to prove that there must be just four gospels, neither more nor less. The proof is a somewhat singular one. From the four regions of the earth, the four principal winds, the fourfold form of the cherubim, the four covenants made by God with man, he deduces the necessity of one fourfold gospel (iii. 11, 8). This gospel first orally delivered, and then fixed in writing, Irenaeus designates the fundamentum et columna fidei nostrae (iii. 1, 1). The N.T. canon of Irenaeus embraces nearly all now received; viz. the four gospels, twelve epistles of St. Paul (the omission of Philemon appears to be accidental), I. Peter, I. and II. John, the Acts, and the Revelation. The omission of III. John is most probably accidental also. From St. James there is probably a quotation at iv. 16, 2 (cf. Jas. ii. 23), and the frequently recurring expression "lex libertatis" appears to have been borrowed from Jas. i. 25. The possible references to Hebrews are uncertain. Resemblances, perhaps echoes, are found in several places (cf. Harvey's Index), and Eusebius testifies (H. E. v. 26) that both Hebrews and the Wisdom of Solomon are mentioned by Irenaeus in his dialexeiV diaforoi. The epistle is cited as a Pauline work in one fragment only, the second Pfaffian (Fr. Graec. xxxvi. ap Harvey.)

Irenaeus in his controversy with the Gnostics


assumes the possibility that we might have had to be without N.T. Scriptures altogether. In this case we should have to inquire of the tradition left by the apostles of the churches (iii. 4, 1: "quid autem si nequeapostoli quidem Scripturas reliquissent nobis, nonne oportebat ordinem sequi traditionis quam tradiderunt iis quibus committebant, ecclesias?"). But the Gnostics also appealed to an apostolical tradition. Irenaeus complains that when one would refute them from the Bible they accused it of error, or declared the interpretation to be doubtful. The truth can only be ascertained, they said, by those who know the true tradition (iii. 2, 1). But this teaching is identical with that of Irenaeus himself, and he insists on finding this true tradition in the rule of faith (kanon thV alhqeiaV, Regula Fidei), as contained in the Baptismal Confession of the whole church (i. 9, 4; cf. 22, 1). Irenaeus thus obtains a sure note or token by which to distinguish the genuine apostolical tradition (h upo thV ellkhsiaV khrussouenh alhqeia, i. 9, 5; praeconium ecclesiae, v. 20, 2; apostolica ecclesiae traditio, iii. 3, 3; or simply paradosiV, traditio, i. 10, 2; iii. 2, 2 and frequently) from the so-called apostolical secret doctrine to which the Gnostics made their appeal. The Baptismal Confession (or Credo) acquired its complete form only through the conflicts of the Gnostic controversy. In the writings of Irenaeus, as in those of his contemporaries, it is cited in various, now longer now shorter, forms. This is no proof that one or other of these was the actual form then used in baptism. The probability is far greater that the shorter form of the old Roman credo still preserved to us was that already used in the time of Irenaeus. (Caspari, Ungedruckte, etc. Quellen zur Geschichte des Taufsymbols and der Glaubensregel, tom. iii. 1875, pp. 3 sqq.) The variations as we find them in the creeds of the Eastern churches appear to have been introduced in order to express, with greater distinctness, the antithesis of Christian belief to Gnostic heresy. So here a special emphasis is laid on the belief in "One God the Father Almighty, Who made heaven and earth," and in "one Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Who became flesh for our salvation." This rule of faith Irenaeus testifies that the church, scattered over the whole oikoumenh, delivers as with one mind and mouth, even as she has herself received it from the apostles and their disciples (i. 10, 1 and 2). A clear, determinate note is thus given by which to distinguish the genuine Christian tradition from that of heresy. To the pretended secret doctrine of the latter is opposed the public preaching of the faith of the apostolic churches; to the mutability and endless varieties of Gnostic doctrines the unity of the church's teaching; to their novelty her antiquity, and to their endless subdivisions into schools and parties the uniformity and universality of her traditional witness. That only which, from the times of the apostles, has been handed down in unbroken tradition by the elders of the church and publicly and uniformly taught in the churches, that doctrine which at all times and in every place may be learned by inquiry from the successors of the apostle in their teaching office, that alone is the Christian apostolic truth (i. 10, 2; iii. 2, 2; 3, 1, 3, 4; 4, 1 seq; 24, 1; iv. 33, 7 seq.; v. 20, 1).

The learned church antiquarian Hegesippus had, c. 170, undertaken long journeys to assure himself of the general agreement of Christian communities in their doctrinal traditions; in each apostolic church he had set himself to inquire for the unbroken succession of its pastors and their teaching, and records with satisfaction the result of his investigations: "In every succession in every city it is still maintained as the law announces and as the prophets and the Lord." And again, "So long as the sacred choir of the apostles still lived, the church was like a virgin undefiled and pure, and not till afterwards in the times of Trajan did error, which so long had crept in darkness, venture forth into the light of day" (ap. Eus. H. E. iv. 22; iii. 32). Irenaeus is specially emphatic in everywhere contrasting the vacillation and variety of heretical opinions with the uniform proclamation of one and the same apostolic witness in all the churches of the world (i. 8, 1; 10, 1). Truth, he remarks, can be but one; while each heretical teacher proclaims a different doctrine of his own invention. How impossible is it that truth can have remained so long hidden from the church and been handed down as secret doctrine in possession of the few! She is free and accessible to all, both learned and ignorant, and all who earnestly seek her find. With almost a shout of triumph he opposes to the unstable, ever-changing, many-headed doctrinal systems and sects of Gnosticism, with their vain appeals to obscure names of pretended disciples of the apostles or to supposititious writings, the one universal norm of truth which all the churches recognise." The church, though dispersed through the whole world, is carefully guarding the same faith as dwelling in one and the same house; these things she believes, in like manner, as having one soul and the self-same heart; these, too, she accordantly proclaims, and teaches, and delivers, as though possessing but one mouth. The speeches of the world are many and divergent, but the force of our tradition is one and the same." And again: "The churches in Germany have no other faith, no other tradition, than that which is found in Spain, or among the Celts, in the regions of the East, in Egypt and in Libya, or in these mid parts of the earth." He compares the church's proclamation of the truth to the light of the sun, one and the same throughout the universe and visible to all who have eyes. " The mightiest in word among the presidents of the churches teaches only the same things as others (for no one here is above the Master), and the weak in word takes nothing away from what has been delivered him. The faith being always one and the same, he that can say much about it doth not exceed, he that can say but little doth not diminish" (i, 10, 2). "The tradition of the apostles made manifest, as it is, through all the world can be recognized in every church by all who wish to know the truth" (iii. 3, 1). But this light from God shines not for heretics because they have dishonoured and despised Him (iii. 24, 2). Cf. also the first of Pfaffian fragments (Fr. Graec. xxxv.).


The argument from antiquity is also employed by Irenaeus on behalf of church tradition. If controversies arise about matters of faith, let recourse be had to the most ancient churches in which the apostles themselves once resided and a decisive answer will then be found. This oral apostolic tradition exists even in the churches among barbarous nations, in whose hearts the Spirit, without ink or parchment, has written the old and saving truth (iii. 4, 1 and 2). But while thus the genuine tradition may, in the apostolic churches, be traced back through the successions of the elders to the apostles themselves, the sects and their doctrines are all of later origin. There were no Valentinians before Valentinus, no Marcionites before Marcion. Valentinus himself and Kerdon (Marcion's teacher) did not appear in Rome till the time of Hyginus the ninth bishop after the apostles, Valentinus flourished under Pius, Marcion under Anicetus (iii. 4, 3). All these founders of sects were much later than the apostles (iii. 21, 3) and the first bishops to whom they committed the care of the churches (v. 20, 1). In contradistinction to their yeudwnumoV gnwsiV the true gnosis consists in the doctrine of the apostles and the maintenance of the pure and ancient constitution of the church (to arcaion thV ekklhsiaV susthma) throughout the world (iv. 33, 7). The main point then, on which all turns, is the clear proof of a pure transmission of apostolic teaching through immediate disciples of the apostles themselves and their disciples after them. What is the tradition of the elders (presbutai, presbuteroi), i.e. the heads of apostolic churches who stood in direct communication with the apostles themselves or with their disciples?--is the question, therefore, which Irenaeus is everywhere asking. These elders are the guardians and transmitters of the apostles' teaching. As in the preceding generation Papias had collected the traditions of "disciples of the Lord," so now Irenaeus is collecting reminiscences of their disciples, mediate or immediate, a Polycarp, a Papias, etc., and as Hegesippus had been careful to inform himself as to the succession of pastors from apostolic times, so Irenaeus, in opposition to the doctrines of the Gnostics, appeals not only to the ancestral teaching maintained in churches of apostolic foundation, such as Rome, Smyrna, Ephesus, but also to the lists of those men who, since the apostles, had presided over them (iii. 3).

The main representatives therefore of genuine apostolical tradition are for Irenaeus the bishops of the churches as successors of the apostles and guardians of their doctrines. In the episcopate, as a continuation of the apostolic office, he finds the one sure pledge of the church's unity and the maintenance of her doctrine. Although the expression ekklhsia kaqolikh, which came into vogue towards the end of the 2nd cent., does not occur in his writings, the thing itself is constantly before him, i.e. the conception of one true church spread over the earth, and bound together by the one true Faith, in contrast to the manifold and variegated and apostate forms of "heresy." Its external bond of unity is the episcopal office. The development of monarchical episcopacy was a primary consequence of the conflict with Gnosticism, and its origination out of simpler constitutional forms betrays itself in a mode of expression derived indeed from earlier times, but still common to Irenaeus, with Tertullian, Clemens Alexandrinus, Hippolytus, and others, the use, namely, of the official titles, presbuteroi and episkopio, to designate alternately the same persons. Presbuteroi in this context are, in the first place, "elders," i.e. "ancients" or fathers, who represent the immediate connexion of the early church with the apostolic time. This name or title is then transferred to the heads of churches, inasmuch as they in succession to the apostles have been faithful transmitters of what was handed down to them. The true unbroken apostolical succession and praeconium ecclesiae is therefore attributed to the same persons, now as presbuteroi now as episkopoi (iii. 3, 2, cf. iii. 2, 2; iv. 26, 2, 4, 5; Ep. ad Victorem ap. Eus. H. E. v. 24); nay, in so many words, the "successio episcopalis" was assigned to the presbuteroi (iv. 26, 2). By these "presbyters," however, we are certainly to understand heads of churches (especially those of apostolic foundation), who alone were capable of acting as the guardians and maintainers of church unity. The episcopate is for Irenaeus no mere congregational office, but one belonging to the whole church; the great importance attached by his contemporaries to the proofs of a genuine apostolical succession rests on the assumption that the episcopate was the guardian of the church's unity of teaching, a continuation, in fact, of the apostolic teaching-office, ordained for that purpose by the apostles themselves. The bishop, in reference to any particular congregation, is a representative of the whole Catholic church, the very idea of catholicity being indebted for its completion to this more sharply defined conception of the episcopal office. In the episcopate thus completely formed the Catholic church first manifested herself in organic unity as "the body of Christ." As formerly the apostles, so now the bishops, their successors, are the "ecclesia repraesentativa." Only through the episcopate as the faithful guardian and transmitter of the apostolical tradition do such congregations retain their hold on visible church unity and their possession of the truth (cf. iv. 33, 7). The significance of the episcopal office rests therefore on the fact of an apostolical succession, and on this historical connexion of the bishops with the apostolic era depends the certainty of their being possessed of the true tradition. That this assurance is not illusory is proved by the actual uniformity of church teaching throughout the world, the agreement of all the apostolic churches in the confession of the same truth (iii. 3, 3). Beyond this historical proof of the church's possession of the true teaching through her episcopate, the argument is not carried further by Irenaeus. The later dogma of a continua successio Spiritus Sancti, i.e. of an abiding special gift of the Holy Spirit attached to the episcopate of apostolical succession, has nevertheless some precursive traces in his writings. Though the Holy


Spirit is a scala ascensionis ad Deum, of which all the faithful are partakers, yet the guidance of the church by the Spirit is mediated by apostles, prophets, and teachers, and they who would have the guidance of the Spirit must come to the church. "For, where the church is, there is the Spirit of God, and where the Spirit of God is, there is the church and all grace--the Spirit, moreover, is the truth" (iii. 24, 1). Expressly therefore is the "charisma veritatis" attached to the episcopal succession (iv. 26, 2), not as a gift of inspiration enabling the bishops to discover fresh truths, but rather as such guidance as enables them to preserve the original truth. Therefore it is more particularly the churches of apostolical foundation, and in the West specially the church of Rome, which can give the surest warrant for the true and incorrupt tradition. In this sense the much-disputed passage is to be understood in which some would find a witness for the primacy of the Roman church: "For with this church must, on account of her more excellent origin ('propter potiorem principalitatem,' i.e. dia thn diaforwteran archn), every church, that is, all the faithful coming from all quarters, put themselves in agreement, as being the church in which at all times by those who come from all quarters the tradition derived from the apostles has been preserved" (iii. 3, 2). The potentior principalatas denotes here not only the superior antiquity of the Roman church as the greatest, oldest, and most widely known (i.e. in the West, where Irenaeus was writing), but also her nobler origin as founded by those "two most glorious apostles Peter and Paul." The mention of the " faithful coming from all quarters " points again to the position of the great world's metropolis as a centre of intercourse, and therefore the place in which Christians could most easily convince themselves of the oneness of apostolical tradition in the whole church. Obscurations and corruptions of that tradition, quite possible in remoter churches, would at Rome be soonest discovered and most easily removed. It is not of any Roman lordship over other churches or a primatial teaching-office committed to the Roman bishop that Irenaeus is here speaking, but only of the surer warrant offered by the position of that church for the uncorrupt maintenance of the apostolical traditions. So, after reckoning the succession of Roman bishops down to Eleutherus, his own contemporary, Irenaeus proceeds: th auth taxei kai th auth diadoch, h te apo thn apostolwn en th ekklhsia paradosiV kai to thV alhqeiaV khrugma kathnthken eiV hmaV (iii 3, 3). But just the same he says of the church of Ephesus founded by St. Paul, and till the times of Trajan under the guidance of St. John: alla kai h en Efesw ekklhsia upo Paulou men teqemeliwmenh, 'Iwannou de parameinantoV autoiV mecri twn Traianou cronwn, martuV alhqhV esti tnV apostolikhV paradosewV (iii. 3, 4).

The unity of the Catholic church, thus secured by the continuance of the apostolic office, is regarded by Irenaeus as mainly a doctrinal unity. Of her guardianship of sacramental grace he gives hints only. Yet he is certainly on the way to that conception when he singles out the continuance of spiritual gifts as a special note of the true church, meaning thereby not merely the charisma veritatis. but also the gifts of prophecy and miracle (ii. 32, 4; cf. iii. 11, 9). He is not less decided in opposing schismatics, who destroy the church's unity (iv. 26, 2; 33, 7), than heretics who corrupt her doctrine. In internal divisions among the faithful he never wearies in urging the interests of peace. Neither in the Montanistic movement nor in the Paschal controversy does he see grounds for the severance of church communion. At the same time he determinedly opposes that separatist temper, which, denying the presence of the Spirit in the church, would claim His gifts exclusively for its own sect or party. Even if we are not warranted in identifying with the Montanists those "false prophets" of whom he speaks (iv. 33, 6) as with lying lips pretending to prophesy, any more than those who (iii. 11, 9) deny the gospel of St. John--all the more applicable to them is the following description: "Men who bring about schisms, devoid of true love to God, seeking their own advantage rather than the unity of the church; wounding and dividing for petty reasons the great and glorious body of Christ, and so far as in them lies destroying it; speaking peace, but acting war, and in sober truth straining out the gnat and swallowing the camel. For no reformation which they could bring about would outweigh the evils produced by their schism" (iv. 33, 7). The great importance attached by Irenaeus to the maintenance of church unity rests for him on the assumption that the church being sole depositary of divine truth is the only trustworthy guarantee of human salvation. While himself sharing, with the Montanists, not only the hope of the millennial kingdom but also the expectation of its outward visible glory (v. 32-36) and delighting in reminiscences of what the "elders" (Papias) have handed down concerning it as from the lips of the apostle St. John (v. 33, 3), Irenaeus does, on the other hand, with his conception of the church as an outward visible institution of prime necessity for human salvation, pave the way for that catholic ideal, which, in contrast to the dreams and aspirations of Montanism, would substitute for a glorious vision of the future the existing church on earth as God's visible kingdom. When the visible church as an outward institution comes to be regarded as the essential medium of saving grace, all its forms and ordinances at once acquire a quasi-legal or sacramental character. The church is for Irenaeus an earthly paradise, of the trees of which every one may eat, while heresy has only the forbidden tree of knowledge, whose fruits are death-bringing (v. 20, 2). As the church's faith is the only faith which is true and saving (iii. praef.), so is he alone a Christian man who conforms to the church's institutions and laws (cf. iii. 15, 2; v. 20, 1). The church's sacrifices, the church's prayers, the church's works alone are holy (iv. 18, 1 sqq.; ii. 32, 5).

This essentially legal conception of Christianity was also that of the generation which followed the apostles. The great Catholic doctors gave to this legal conception of the


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on the spot where the saint was found a church was dedicated to him, connected with which was a priory as a cell of the parent abbey. The spot was thenceforth known as St. Ives. A later hand adds that temp. Henry I. the relics of the two companions were re-translated to St. Ives. As Ramsey abbey was founded about 991 or a little earlier (Mon. Hist. Brit. 580 D; Monast. Angl. ii. 547), Eadnoth the first abbat (Liber Eliens. ed. Stewart, p. 188) would be living c. 1000 (the common date of the translation is 1001). Reckoning back 100 lustra or 400 years (computing by the four-year lustrum), we arrive at A.D. 6oo as about the period of Ivo's death, and this is the year given by Florence of Worcester (Chron. in M. H. B. 526). His mission at Slepe must thus be placed c. 580-600, which nearly corresponds with the reign of the emperor Maurice, with whom Diceto (in Gale, iii. 559) makes him contemporary. Thus Ivo's Mercian mission preceded the arrival of Augustine by about half a generation and anticipated by some 70 years the conversion of Mercia as narrated in Bede. The obvious improbability of this leaves the monks of Ramsey responsible for the legend.

Possibly there may be here a lingering tradition of old British Christianity and a reminiscence of its Oriental origin, leaving the period out of the question. It would not be surprising if a British remnant should have survived in that locality as late as the Conquest. There are indications that Britons did actually maintain themselves in E. Mercia and the fastnesses of the fens long after the conversion of the English race. Moreover, the name of Patrick gives the story a Celtic look, and the locality might have been a sort of eastern Glastonbury. The Celtic element in the first conversion of the Mercian Angles was likely to prolong the vitality of Celtic traditions. If there was Celtic blood surviving in the fens when Ramsey was founded, the Oriental colouring of the legend is accounted for. The stone sarcophagus may have been a genuine Roman relic, furnishing a material basis for the story and suggesting the occasion. If the above inferences are not unreasonable, the legend of St. Ivo contains a reminiscence that the Christian missionaries who reached Britain from the East came by way of Gaul and of the tradition of their having been sent from Rome.

Slepe is found in Domesday and is still the name of one of the manors of St. Ives.

The priory of St. Ives, the ruins of which survive, is described in Monast. Angl. ii. 631. In the time of Brompton (Twysd. p. 883) no saint in England was so eminent as St. Ivo at Ramsey for the cure of diseases.

The story was written again by John of Tynemouth in 14th cent., in whose Sanctilogium, before the MS. was burnt, it stood No. 70 (Smith, Cat. Cotton MSS. p. 29). It was one of those adopted by Capgrave in 15th cent. for his Nova Legenda (ff. 199) and so is preserved. This version states that the pope commissioned him to Britain. The MS. Lives of Ivo are mentioned by Hardy (Desc. Cat. i. 184-186), and the Life by Goscelin exists as a Bodleian manuscript in a fuller form than the recension given by the Bollandists, the Life in Capgrave being another abridgment. One of the MSS. mentioned by Hardy purports to be the very Life by abbat Andrew referred to by Goscelin.


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