poci)S of CI)urc!)
MANDELL CREIGHTON, D.D., LL.D.
LATE LORD BISHOP OP LONDON
THE EARLY FATHERS
ALFRED PLUMMEB, M.A., D.D.
FORMERLY FELLOW AND TUTOR OF TRINITY COLLEGE, OXFORD
TWELFTH IMPRESSION, >,
LONGMANS, GREEN AND CO.
39 PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON
NEW YORK, BOMBAY, AND CALCUTTA
All rights reserved
THE Christian Church has three ideals set before it in
Scripture to be Universal, to be Holy, and to be
One. It is to ' make disciples of all the nations.' It
is to be * without spot or wrinkle or any such thing/
It is to ' become one flock ' with a union between its
members admitting of no lower standard than the
Unity of the Divine Persons in the Godhead. The
external history of the Church is the history of the
attempt to realise the first of these three ideals; its
internal history tells of the attempt to realise the second
and third. The three taken together sum up what is
meant by ecclesiastical history the history of the
spread of Christianity and of the development of Chris-
tian life and Christian doctrine. Thus a convenient
division of the subject is at once suggested. Only the
first of these three points is treated in this handbook
the progress of the Church in the attempt to become uni-
versal, including all that impeded that progress, especially
literary attack and civil persecution. The worship and
discipline of the Church and the development of its
doctrine, though often touched upon, are reserved for
treatment in a separate volume.
The present sketch is limited to the Ante-Nicene
period, and indeed to only a portion of that. Neither the
Apostolic Age nor the history of Arianism falls within
its scope. Its limits are, roughly speaking, the second
and third centuries, or, more exactly, the period from
the death of St. John, about A.D. 100, to the Edict of
Toleration published at Milan by Constantino and
Licinius A.D. 312 or 313.
It is obvious that in a volume of this size nothing
more than a sketch can be attempted ; but help will be
offered to the student who desires to have fuller infor-
mation and to examine original sources for himself. A
list is given of some of the best and most easily ac-
cessible authorities, especially in the English language,
together with the chief ancient witnesses from whom
the information given by modern writers is ultimately
derived. Perhaps in no branch of history is it more
important to study original authorities than in the
history of Christianity during the second and third
centuries. Neither in number nor in bulk are these
sources so formidable as in the later periods of Church
history ; so that the ordinary student may hope to do
a good deal in the attempt to make himself acquainted
with primary materials. Moreover, nearly all these
early writings have been translated ; so that even those
who are unable to read Latin or Greek are nevertheless
able to obtain fairly accurate knowledge of what these
early writers in their own words tell us. This hand-
book will have failed in one of its objects if it does not
lead some of those who use it to check its statements
by a comparison with standard works, and above all by
an appeal to the original authorities.
As references are almost entirely forbidden by the
plan of this series, the compiler of this volume is unable
to express in detail his obligations to other writers.
They are very numerous to a large number of the works
mentioned below, especially to those of Bishop Light-
foot and Dr. Schaff, and to the ' Dictionary of Christian
Biography ' edited by Smith and Wace. An asterisk
is prefixed to the name of modern writers whose writings
are of special importance.
1. THE APOSTOLIC FATHERS. Editions of Jacobson (1863),
Gebhardt, Harnack, and Zahn (1876), Funk (1881). *Lightfoot's
Clement (1869, 1877), Ignatius and Polycarp (1885). Transla-
tions in the Ante-Nicene Library (1868), and of portions by Hoole
2. THE APOLOGISTS AND OTHER CHRISTIAN WRITERS.
Greek: Justin Martyr, Trenseus, Clement of Alexandria, Hip-
poly tus, Origen. Latin: Minucius Felix, Tertullian, Cyprian,
Arnobius, Lactantius. Translations in the Ante-Nicene Library
(1868-1872). Fragments of early Christian writers in Grabe's
Spicileyium Patrum (1714), Routh's Reliquice Sacra (1846-1848),
Pitra's Spicilegium Solesmense (1852-1860), Bunsen's Christianity
and Mankind, vols. v.-vii. (1854).
8. HEATHEN CONTROVERSIALISTS, whose works for the most
part exist only in extracts : Lucian, Celsus, Porphyry, Hierocles.
4. CLASSICAL AUTHORS who notice Christianity: Pliny the
Younger, Tacitus, Suetonius, Dion Cassius.
GREEK. Eusebius of Csesarea. Translations of his Eccl. Hist.
by Cruse (1838), in Bonn's Ecclesiastical Library, and in the
Greek Ecclesiastical Historians of the First Six Centuries (1843-
LATIN. Rufinus (an inaccurate translation of Eusebius) and
Jerome. The latter's De Viris Illustribus or De Scriptoribus
Ecclesiasticis contains 135 Christian biographies from St. Peter to
Jerome's own day ; often very meagre, but of great value. From
Jerome's translation and continuation of the Chronicon of Euse-
bius and from Rufinus's translation and continuation of his Eccl.
Hist. Western Christendom during the Middle Ages derived most
of its historical knowledge. See articles on these writers in the
Diet, of Christ. Biog., esp. that on Eusebius by Bishop Lightfoot,
ENGLISH. *Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,
esp. chaps, xv., xvi. ; biassed against Christianity, but full of well-
grouped information (best ed. Smith's Milman's, 1862). Kaye's
Eccl. Hist, of the Second and Third Cents, illustrated from Ter-
tullian (1845) ; also his Justin Martyr and Clement of Alexandria.
Jeremie's Hist, of Christ. Church in the Second and Third Cents.
(1852). Maurice's Lectures on the Eccl. Hist, of the First and
Second Cents. (1854). Blunt's Hist, of the Christ. Church during
the first three Cents. (1856). Pusey's Councils of the Church from
A.D. 61 to 381 (1857). Merivale's Conversion of the Roman
Empire (1864). Milman's Hist, of Christianity to the Abolition
of Paganism (1867). Mossman's Hist, of the Cath. Church from
the Death of St. John to the Middle of the Second Cent. (1873).
Neale's Patriarchate of Antioch (1873) ; also his Hist, of the
Eastern Church (1847). Newman's Callista (1873). Robertson's
Hist, of the Christ. Church, vol. i. (1874). Mason's Persecution
of Diocletian (1876). Crake's Hist, of the Church under the
Roman Empire (1881). Wordsworth's Church Hist, to the
Council of Niccea (1881) ; also his St. Hippolytus and the Church
of Rome (1881). Backhouse's and Tylor's Early Church Hist.
(1884). 'SchafFs Hist, of the Christ. Church. Ante-Nicene
TKANSLATIONS. *Neander's Church History (1847). *D611in-
ger's Gentile and Jew in the Courts of the Temple of Christ (1862) ;
and esp. his Hippolytus and Callistus (1876). Mosheim's Insti-
tutes ofEccl. Hist., edited by Stubbs (1863). *Hefele's Hist, of
the Christ. Councils to the close of the Council of Niccea (1872).
Baur's Church Hist, of the first Three Cents. (1878). *Uhlhorn's
Conflict of Christianity with Paganism (1879). *Pressense''s
Early Years of Christianity (1879).
FOREIGN. *Le Quien's Oriens Christianas (1740). Morcelll's
Africa Christiana (1817). RitschTs Entstehung der altkatho-
lischen Kirche (1857). *Keim's Rom unddas Christenthum (1881).
*Langen's Geschichte der Romischen Kirche bis zum Pontificate
Leo's I. (1881) ; *Renan's Marc-Aurele (1882) ; also his L'Eglise
chretienne (1879). Together with the elaborate works of the
Centuriators of Magdeburg, of Baronius, Pagi, Tillemont, Fleury,
and many others.
The spread of Christianity in the first three centuries is treated
of by no contemporary writer. The passages bearing on the
subject are for the most part general and more or less rhetorical
statements- e.#. Pliny, Epp. x. 96 (the famous letter to Trajan)
Ignatius, Magn. x. ; Justin Martyr, Try. cxvii. ; Ep. ad Diognetum
vi. ; Minucius Felix, Oct. x. 33 ; Irenseus, Hcer. I. x. 1, 2, III
iv. 2, V. xx. 1 ; Clement of Alexandria, Strom. VI. sub Jinem
Tertullian, Adv. Jud. vii., xii. ; Ad Scop, ii., v. ; Apol. i., xxxvii.
Ad Nat. I. viii. ; Adv. Marc. III. xx. ; Origen, Con. Cels. I. vii.
xxvii., II. xiii., xlvi., III. x., xxiv., xxix., xxx. ; De Princip.
IV. i. 1, 2 ; Eusebius, Hist. Eccl. II. iii. 1, IV. vii. 1, VIII. i. 1,
viii. 1, IX. ix. 14, X. iv. 17-20; Rufinus, Hist. Eccl. IX. vi.
(Routh, Rel. Sacr. IV. pp. 6, 13).
Christianity the first universal religion Evidence of its rapid
growth Criticism of the evidence Work of the Apostles . 1
THE CAUSES OP THE RAPID SPREAD OF THE GOSPEL.
Inadequacy of Gibbon's ' Five Causes ' Newman's criticism of
Gibbon Gibbon answered by Origen Nine other causes
Three chief causes : 1. Sublimity of doctrine ; 2. Boundless
adaptability ; 3. Divine origin ..,,.. 9
THE CHURCHES IN SYRIA.
Obscurity of the Bishops of Jerusalem Effect of Barcochba's
revolt Effect of the change of name Bishops of Csesarea
Influence of Origen and Eusebius Ignatius of Antioch
His influence in ancient and modern times Successors of
Ignatius Vagaries of Paul of Samosata His condemnation
and deposition Appeal to Aurelian Paul's successors
* School of Antioch ' Syrian text of Scripture . , .2]
THE CHURCHES IN ASIA MINOR.
Ephesus, the chief Church Its position Ignatius praises it
Polycrates and Victor Polycarp of Smyrna and the Apostles
Polycarp and Ignatius Epistle of Polycarp His disciples
Irenaaus and Florinus Polycarp with Anicetus at Rome
His meeting with Marcion His martyrdom Its value as
an example Polycarp's successors His cororanion Papias
Church of Hierapolis Papias not an Ebionite, but an oppo-
nent of Gnosticism Abercius of Hieropolis and his epitaph
Significance of the epitaph Literary activity of Claudius
Apollinaris, and of Melito of Sardis Melito's Canon of the
Old Testament Influence of his writings Asiatic evidence
respecting the Fourth Gospel . . . , . .35
THE CHURCHES IN GREECE AND EGYPT.
Dionysius the Areopagite and his successors Aristides the
Apologist Athenagoras the Apologist Epistle of Clement
to the Corinthians Its significance Testimony of Hege-
sippus Epistles of Dionysius of Corinth Bacchylus and
the Easter question Intellectual characteristics of Alex-
andria The Alexandrian Schools Catechetical School
Pantaenus Clement of Alexandria He leaves Alexandria
His writings His attitude towards pagan philosophy
His own philosophy and its defects Greatness of Origen
in his writings and in his life- His boyhood His courage,
industry, and indiscreet zeal Visits to Home, Arabia, and
Palestine Influence of Ambrose Ordination and final
departure from Alexandria Work in Caasarea Martyrdom
and death Characteristics Services to Christianity
Sources of his errors Origen no heretic Dionysius the
Great His letters His defence of himself His modera-
tion His successors Conversion of Middle and Upper
Egypt ....... 54
THE CHURCHES IN ITALY.
Early Christianity Greek and uncentralised Koman Chris-
tianity Greek in origin Epistle of Clement Epistle of
Ignatius to the Romans Visits of Hegesippus and Polycarp
to Rome Episcopacy in Rome promoted by heresy
Martyrs among the Bishops of Rome Obscurity of the
early Bishops Nature of the appeals of Irenasus and of
Tertullian First Roman encroachment ; Victor and Poly-
crates The Roman writer Cains -Writings of Hippolytus
Relation to Tertullian and Origen Hippolytus and
Callistus Death of Hippolytus Martyrdom of Fabian
Roman see vacant Novatian schism Decline of Nova-
tianism Second Roman encroachment; Stephen and
Cyprian Alleged apostasy of Marcellinus Fresh disturb-
ances Fictitious Councils A senatus against Origen A
Council about the lapsed 87
THE CHURCHES IN NORTH AFRICA.
Origin of the African Church unknown Province of Africa
Its prosperity Characteristics of Carthage Contrast with
Alexandria Its great men Tertullian His violent temper
The creator of ecclesiastical Latin His chief writings
Tertullian the antithesis of Origen First Council of
Carthage Cyprian's relation to Tertullian Cyprian elected
Bishop Decian persecution Cyprian's flight His justifi-
cation Difficulties about the lapsed Cyprian's troubles
Council of A.D. 252 Plague at Carthage Question of
rebaptizing heretics Martyrdom of Cyprian His great-
ness Beginning of the Donatist schism Arnobius . . 108
TI1E CHURCHES IN GAUL AND BRITAIN.
Asiatic origin of the Gallican Church Connexion of Irenaeus
with Asia and Gaul His importance as a witness Growth
of the Gallican Church Novatianism in Gaul Persecu-
tionsInfluence of Constantino The Church in Britain
not founded by an Apostle Bede's story of King Lucius ;
probably a fabrication The British Church related to
Gaul, confined to Roman settlements, small and poor
Distinct from the English Church ..... 130
LITERARY CONTESTS WITH JEWS AND HEATHEN.
Hindrances to Christianity Accusations by the heathen
Secular literature of the Church Early apologies Counter-
accusations against paganism Classification of the apolo-
gists Greek and Latin apologists The controversy with
Judaism, with paganism The pagan attack The Chris-
tian reply, both defensive and offensive The reply to
heathen philosophy by Greeks and by Latins The argu-
ments from prophecy and from morality Results of the
The number of the persecutions indefinite The chief causes :
conservatism and fear Limits to Roman toleration Errors
respecting 'the ten persecutions' Crisis under Trajan
Its double aspect Misconceptions respecting Hadrian and
Antoninus Tragic reign of M. Aurelius Toleration under
Commodus Revival of paganism Nature of the revival
Alternate persecution and peace Un- Roman Emperors
Crisis under Decius Christianity to be stamped outj if
possible, without bloodshed Wholesale apostasy Flight
and its consequences Valerian turns persecutor Formal
toleration under Gallienus Forty-five years of peace
New departure under Diocletian His reconstruction of the
Empire He is led on to persecute : 1, by his own policy ;
2, by the priests ; 3, by the philosophers ; 4, by Galerius
and his mother First edict of Diocletian Two fires at
Nicomedia Second edict Working of the two edicts
Third edict Fourth edict Abdication of Diocletian
Fifth edict Galerius's edict of toleration Close of the
struggle Edict of Milan Number of martyrs The Reign
of Terror The victory . . . . . .160
Accession of TRAJAN.
In September Pliny's Panegyricus addressed to Trajan.
Death of St. John the Apostle.
Martyrdom of Symeon, s. of Clopas, Bishop of Jerusalenij
under the Proconsul Herodes Atticus.
Alexander succeeds Euaristus as Bishop of Rome.
Pliny becomes Propraetor of Bithynia.
Persecution of the Christians in Bithynia. Late in the year
Pliny's Letter to Trajan (Ep. x. 97).
Martyrdom of Ignatius at Rome, possibly Oct. 17. The
Epistles of Ignatius were written one or two months
before the martyrdom, and the Epistle of Polycarp one
or two ninths after it.
Column of Trajan dedicated. Trajan leaves Rome in the
autumn for the Parthian campaign, and winters in
Antioch. The interview with Ignatius at Antioch is a
Trajan again winters in Antioch.
Great earthquake in Antioch ; Trajan injured.
Revolt of the Jews in Cyrene, Egypt, and Cyprus.
The revolt quelled by Lusius. Trajan falls ill, sets out for
Italy, and dies at SelinuB in Cilicia, August 11.
HADRIAN proclaimed Emperor by the army and accepted
by the Senate.
Xystus succeeds Alexander as Bishop of Rome.
Hadrian visits Britain.
j Hadrian's Rescript to Minucius Fundanus, Proconsul of Asia,
forbidding other than strictly legal proceedings against
| Quadratus addresses his Apology to Hadrian.
I Death of Antinous and Birth of Irenaeus.
Papias completes his Exposition of the Oracles of the Lord.
Apotheosis of Antinous. A Roman colony planted at Jeru-
salem. The Jews refused admission.
I Aristides addresses his Apology to Hadrian.
Revolt of the Jews under Barcochba.
Hadrian's Letter to Servianus.
Suppression of the Jewish revolt. Death of Barcochba.
Jerusalem razed to the ground and rebuilt as a Roman
Jerusalem named ^Elia Capitolina. The Christians return
I from Pella. Marcus becomes the first Gentile Bishop of
Martyrdom of Telesphorus, Bishop of Rome.
Hadrian adopts Antoninus, Feb. 25, and dies at
Accession of ANTONINUS Piua.
First Apology of Justin Martyr*
Pius succeeds Hy sinus as Bishop of E/ome.
Shepherd of Hernvu*
So-called Second Episitc of Ctement.
Birth of Tertullian.
Martyrdom of Publius, Bishop of Athens.
Polycarp's visit to Anicetus, Bishop of Rome,
Martyrdoms of Ptolemaeus, Lucius, and others under Lolliufc
Urbicus, City Prefect.
Second Apology of Justin, and Dialogue witfi the Jew
Birth of Clement of Alexandria.
} Martyrdom of Polycarp and his companions.
Montanus begins to prophesy.
Octavitis of Minucius Felix.
Address to Greeks of Tatian.
Commentary on St. John's Gospel by Heracleon.
Death of Antoninus Pius at Lorium, March 7.
Accession of M. AURELIUS ANTONINUS and Association of
L. Aurelius Verus (Ceionius Couimodus) in the Empire.
Birth of Commodus (the future Emperor), Aug. 31.
Martyrdoms of Felicitas and others under the City Prefect
Publius [Salvius Julianus].
Martyrdoms of Justin and his companions under the City
Prefect Q. Junius Rusticus.
Martyrdoms of Thraseas, Sagaris, and others.
Lucian writes De Morte Peregrini. Muratorian Canon.
Soter succeeds Anicetus as Bishop of Rome.
Death of the Emperor Verus late in the year.
Letters of Dionysius of Corinth to Soter and others.
War with the Quadi (Legio Fulminata). M. Aurelius
writes his Meditations.
Apology of Claudius Apollinaris.
Embassy or Apology of Athenagoras.
Eusebian Apology of Melito.
Bloody Persecution in Gaul. Martyrdoms of Pothinus,
Blandina, Ponticus, and many others. Irenaeus succeeds
Pothinus as Bishop of Lyons, but probably later.
Association of Commodus in the Empire.
Martyrdom of Caecilia and her companions,
Pantsenus goes as a missionary to * the Indians.'
Theophilus of Antioch writes Ad Autolycum.
Death of M. Aurelius in Pannonia, March 17. His per-
secuting policy survives him.
Martyrdoms of Namphano and his three companions (the
Medaurian Martyrs) at midsummer under the Pro-
Martyrdoms of Speratus and eieven others (the Scillitan
Martyrs), July 17, under the Proconsul Saturninus.
COMMODUS returns to Rome as sole Emperor. The Persecu
Pantsenus becomes Head of the Catechetical School at
Plot of Lucilla and Quadratus against Cemmodus, and pro-
motion of the <tA60eos 7raAAa/e>; Marcia. She secures the
peace of the Christians.
Birth of Origen.
Conversion of Tertullian to Christianity.
Irenasus completes his work Against Heresies.
Martyrdom of iLe Senator Apollonius.
Demetrius succeeds Julianus as Bishop of Alexandria.
Clement succeeds Pantsenus as Head of the Catechetical
School, writes the Address to Greeks, and soon afterwards
Callistus is recalled from exile in the mines of Sardinia
through the influence of Marcia.
Commodus assassinated in the night of Dec. 31.
PERTINAX proclaimed Emperor, Jan. 1 ; assassinated
The Empire put up to auction and sold by the Praetorians
to DIDIUS JULIANUS.
SEPTIMIUS SEVERUS proclaimed Emperor in Pannonia,
Apr. 13 ; Julianus executed, June 2.
Caracalla associated with his father in the Empire.
Tertullian becomes a Montanist.
Birth of Cyprian.
Renewed persecution of the Christians. Martyrdoms of
Perpetua, Felicitas, and others at Carthage ; of
Leonides, father of Origen, at Alexandria.
Clement withdraws from Alexandria and is succeeded in the
Catechetical School by Origen.
Imprisonment of Clement's pupil, Alexander, afterward*
Bishop of Jerusalem.
Zephyriims succeeds Victor as Bishop of Rome.
Severus in Britain with his sons.
Geta associated in the Empire.
Apollonius of Ephesus writes against Montanism.
Severus dies at York, Feb. 4.
CAKACALLA and GETA return to Rome.
Clement of Alexandria sent by Alexander, still in prison, to
Antioch : the last notice of Clement.
Geta assassinated late in February.
Alexander, released from prison, visits Jerusalem, and is
translated to that see as coadjutor of Narcissus : the
first instance of translation.
Origen visits Rome in the pontificate of Zephyrinus.
Origen, driven from Alexandria, settles at Caesarea.
Syriac Apology of Melito.
Caracalla assassinated, Apr. 8.
MACRINUS proclaimed Emperor, Apr. 11.
Macrinus defeated and slain by Julia Maesa and Eia
ELAGABAL.US goes to Rome and is accepted as Emperor.
Callistus succeeds Zephyrinus as Bishop of Rome.
Origen returns to Alexandria.
Alcibiades publishes the Book ofElkesai'm Rome.
Synod at Carthage under Agrippinus decrees the rebaptism
Julius Africanus publishes his work on chronology.
Elagabalus slain, Mar. 11.
Accession of ALEXANDER SEVERUS.
Urban succeeds Callistus as Bishop of Rome.
Heraclas, Origen's convert, associated with him in the
Paschal Cycle of Hippolytus constructed.
Origen ordained presbyter at Csesarea by Theoctistus of
Csesarea and Alexander of Jerusalem.
. Origen returns to Alexandria and writes De Principiis.
I Synods at Iconium and Synnada decree the rebaptism of
! Pontian succeeds Urban as Bishop of Rome.
Origen finally leaves Alexandria. Two Synods at
Alexandria under Demetrius condemn him. Heraclas
succeeds him as head of the Catechetical School.
Heraclas succeeds Demetrius as Bishop of Alexandria.
Alexander Severus and his mother slain in Gaul.
MAXIMIN the Thracian, the first barbarian Emperor, elected
by the troops in Gaul.
Persecution of the Christians. Pontian banished with Hip-
polytus to Sardinia : Anteros succeeds him.
Origen takes refuge with Firmilian in Cappadocia, and
writes On Martyrdom to Ambrose and Protoctetus in
Fabian succeeds Anteros as Bishop of Rome.
Gregory Thaumaturgus writes his Panegyric on Origen.
Correspondence between Julius Africanus and Origen.
Insurrection in Africa under the Gordians.
Maximin and his son slain at Aquileia in May.
The third GORDIAN accepted by the Senate and Praetorians
Gregory Thaumaturgus ordained Bishop of Neo-Caesarea.
Synod at Bostra to try Beryllus ; he is reclaimed by Origen.
Gordian slain in Mesopotamia.
PHILIP the Arabian concludes a shameful peace with Sapor
and returns home.
Birth of Diocletian.
Origen completes the Hexapla. IJe corresponds with the
Emperor and his wife Severa.
Dionysjus succeeds Heraclas as Bishop of Alexandria,
Philip celebrates the 1000 years of Rome.
Cyprian ordained Bishop of Carthage.
Origen writes Against Celsus at Caesarea.
Philip marches against Decius and is slain near Verona,
DECIUS revives the Censorship and appoints Valerian to the
Edict against Christianity. General Persecution.