particles may float about long after their death,
but also for our perceptions of the gods ; for,
though they are composed of much finer particles
than mortals, their ' films ' may fall with impact
upon the human organism.
Though charged with atheism, Epicurus never
questioned the existence of the gods, though he
taught their remoteness from, and indifference to,
human concerns. He ridiculed ancient mythology,
whose effect on men had been wholly injurious,
and explained such portents as eclipses, thunder,
etc., on purely natural grounds. He likewise
denounced the belief in fate a belief he con-
sidered even more hurtful than the belief in Divine
intervention. His teaching being frankly material-
istic, Epicurus naturally disbelieved in immortality.
For these reasons, he argued, man need have no
fear : the gods do not concern themselves with
him ; there is no such thing as fate ; and death
is nothing but the end of all.
(c) Ethics. Passing by the idealism of Plato
and Aristotle, Epicurus had recourse to the doctrine
of Aristippus of Gyrene, who taught that ' pleasure '
is the supreme good and ' pain ' the sole evil.
Socrates, while admitting the importance of
pleasure, regarded the pleasures of the mind as
greater than those of the body. Aristippus pre-
ferred the latter because of their greater intensity.
His ideal was the intensest pleasure of the passing
moment, entirely undisturbed by reason , its greatest
foe ; not merely the absence of pain, but pleasure
that was active and positive. The difficulty he
found in attaining this ideal led him to allow some
value to prudence as an aid thereto.
Epicurus differed from Aristippus in the follow-
ing respects : men should consider less the fleeting
pleasure of the moment and aim at that of the
whole life ; intense, throbbing ecstasy is less desir-
able than a tranquil state of mind which may
become perpetual ; indeed, at times, the highest
possible pleasure may be merely the removal of
pain ; the pleasures and pains of mind are more
important than those of body, because of the joy
or distress which may be accumulated by memory
and anticipation. Much greater emphasis is like-
wise laid on the virtue of prudence, which he calls
'a more precious thing even than philosophy.'
Prudence is in fact the chief virtue of all. By
its means rival pleasures are judged ; and even
momentary pain may be chosen, that a tranquil
life may be furthered.
Epicureanism does not indulge in high moral
ideals or insist upon any code of duties, whether
public or private, save as these may minister to
one's own pleasure, but neither does it inculcate
(in theory) low, sensual delights. These have their
place, but what that place is must be decided by
prudence, with a view to securing a complete life
of tranquil pleasure. Epicurus is to be regarded
as the founder of Hedonism.
LITERATURE. Lucretius, de Rerum Natura; Diog. Laert.
de Vit.is Philosophorum, bk. x. ; Cicero, de Finibus, de Natura
Deorum, Tusculance Disputationes ; Plutarch, Disputatio qua
docetur ne suaviter quidem vivi posse secundum Epicuri decreta,
adv. Colotem ; E. Zeller, Stoics, Epicureans and Sceptics, Eng.
tr., London, 1880; W. Wallace, Epicureanism, do. 1880; J.
Watson, Hedonistic Theories, Glasgow, 1895 ; artt. in EBr u ,
HDB, EBi ; Histories of Philosophy, by Ritter, etc.
J. W. LlGHTLEY.
EPIMENIDES. See QUOTATIONS.
EPISTLE. In dealing Avith ancient literature
we have become accustomed to make a distinction
between the epistle and the letter. In that sphere
we frequently meet with a so-called letter, which,
from the purely external point of view, shows all
the characteristics of a genuine letter, and vet is
in no sense designed to serve as a vehicle of tidings
and ideas between one person and another, or
between one person and a definite circle of
persons, but on the contrary has been written in
the expectation, and indeed with the intention,
of gaining the notice of the public. Now, in de-
signating such a document an ' epistle,' and re-
serving the term ' letter ' for a letter in the true
sense, we must remember that, while the distinc-
tion itself was quite familiar to the ancients, our
terminology is modern. By 'epistle' we mean,
accordingly, a letter expressly intended for the
general public. Yet it must be admitted that, in
the sphere of ancient literature, it is not always
easy to decide whether a particular document is a
letter or an epistle, as will appear from the follow-
ing considerations. (1) In many such compositions
there is nothing to indicate whether the writer de-
sired to address the general public or. not. (2) The
art of the epistle-writer consisted very largely in
Ids ability to personate a true letter-writer, so
that the reader should never have the faintest
suspicion that the writing in his hands was any-
thing but a genuine letter. (3) Even in letters
properly so called the writer did not always allow
his words and thoughts to flow freely and spon-
taneously, but sometimes and especially in the
latter part of the ancient era, when rhetoric pre-
vailed everywhere as we find even in correspond-
ence whose private and confidential nature is
beyond doubt, invested the structure and style of
his letter with rhetorical features such as we might
expect to meet with in writings designed to in-
fluence the public mind, and therefore of necessity
far removed from the free and easy prattle of a
letter. (4) Finally, it is not easy to specify the
point of transition between the limited circle to
which the private letter may be addressed and the
general public to which the epistle makes its
appeal. In most cases, no doubt, it is possible to
decide whether an epistle is meant for the public
eye, but it is frequently far from certain whether
a particular letter addressed to a limited public, as
e.g. a church or a group of churches, or, say, the
bishops of a metropolitan province, has not lost all
claim to be regarded as a real letter. Notwith-
standing these considerations, however, the dis-
tinction between epistle and true letter has every
right to be retained. Like all such distinctions, it
doubtless fails to make due allowance for the
living current of literary development, but it
teaches us to keep an open eye for the diversities
and gradations of literature, and thus also, when
rightly used, helps us to define more accurately
VOL. i. 23
the character of the epistolary writings in the
Now, as the Christian writers of the Apostolic
Age adopted the ' epistle, ' and, we may even say,
made use of it with a zest that may be inferred,
in particular, from the fact that they enriched the
literary side of the Gospel and the Apocalypse by
means of the epistolary form (cf. Lk l lff> , Rev I 4 *-),
it is necessary to give due weight to the following
points: (1) that in this as in other respects the
Apostolic Age was embedded in the same literary
tradition of later antiquity as we are able to trace
in various Greek and Latin prototypes of non-
Christian origin ; (2) that, nevertheless, the
structure, style, and diction of the primitive
Christian epistles nearly always carry us into a
different sphere of culture from that associated
with the extant post-classical epistolary litera-
ture composed on classical models ; and, finally,
(3) that the influence of the hortatory addresses
of Christian preachers in the primitive Church is
clearly traceable in these Christian epistles.
Among the ' epistles ' of the Apostolic Age the
present writer would include the following : James,
1 Peter, Jude, Hebrews, 1 John, and Barnabas.
These for the most part differ in no essential point
from hortative addresses to a congregation, and
the epistolary form, where it is present at all, or
where, as in Hebrews, it is no more than suggested,
is merely a form, which, in fact, is completely
shattered by the contents. Among these Epistles
there is not one which in virtue of a refined or
even well-schooled art could claim to be considered
a true letter. But this is itself a striking evidence
of the significant fact that the Christian writers
of the Apostolic Age, greatly as they had been
affected by the stream of literary activity in the
grander style of the ancients, were now feeling
their way towards new forms in which to com-
municate their religious ideas to a wider public.
With this end in view, therefore, they had re-
course to the epistle, as the literary eidos at
once of the simplest character and lying closest to
their hands ; but here even in the case of a writer
like the author of Hebrews, who has obviously
been powerfully influenced by the elements of
Greek rhetoric the substance of the message was
for them of much greater importance than the
form. The fictitious, pseudonymous epistle is a
literary phenomenon that first makes its appear-
ance in the post- Apostolic Age.
LITERATURE. R. Hercher, Epistolographi Greed, Paris, 1873
(a collection of Greek letters) ; H. Peter, Der Brief in der
riJmischen Litteratur, Leipzig, 1901 ; E. Norden, Die antike
Kunstprosa*, do. 1909 ; G. A. Deissmann, Bibelstudien,
Marburg, 1895, pp. 187-225 (Eng. tr., 1901, pp. 1-59) ; C. F. G.
Heinrici, Der litterarische Character der neutest. Schriften,
Leipzig, 1908, p. 56 ff. ; J. Weiss, ' Literaturgesch. des NT,' in
RGG iii.  2175-2215 ; H. Jordan, Geseh. der altchristlichen
Literatur, Leipzig, 1911, p. 123 ff. (containing alsoa history of the
Christian Epistle till A.D. 600) ; P. Wendland, Die hellenistisch-
rijmische Kultur in ihren Beziehungen zu Judentum und
Christentum, 'Die urchristliche Literaturformen,' Tubingen,
1912, pp. 342-381. H. JORDAN.
ERASTUS ("Epao-ros). 1. In Ro 16 23 Erastus is
' the treasurer of the city ' (6 oiKov6fj,os TTJS ir6\eus,
arcarius civitatis) of Corinth, who sends saluta-
tions with ' Quartus the brother.' His office was
an important one. He stands almost alone in the
NT as a convert of position and influence.
2. In Ac 19 2 ' 2 the name is given to one of two
Timothy being the other who ' ministered ' to St.
Paul in Ephesus, and who were sent by him on
some errand into Macedonia.
3. In 2 Ti 4 20 Erastus is a companion of St. Paul,
said to have remained in Corinth, i.e. during the
interval between the first and second imprison-
Are these three to be identified ? It is possible
that 2 and 3 are the same man, but on account
of the nature of the office held by 1 it seems un-
likely that he could have been a missionary com-
panion and messenger of the Apostle. To meet
this difficulty, it might be suggested that he had
resigned the treasurershin on becoming a Christian.
Again, if 1 and 3 are identical, there would seem
to be little point in St. Paul's informing Timothy
that an important city official ' abode at Corinth.'
It is held by some scholars that these salutations
from Corinthian Christians in the postscript of the
' Roman ' Epistle point to an Ephesian destination
of the passage. It is easier to believe that the
members of the Church at Corinth had friends at
Ephesus than at Rome ; but, as Lightfoot reminds
us, personal acquaintance was not necessary in the
Apostolic Church to create Christian sympathy.
Also, 'the descriptive addition "the steward of
the city " is much more appropriate if addressed to
those to whom his name was unknown or scarcely
known, than to those with whom he was personally
acquainted ' (Lightfoot, Biblical Essays, 1893, p.
305). If we could accept the theory of the Ephesian
destination, we should be more inclined to identify
all three names. T. B. ALLWORTHY.
ESAU fHeraC). (1) St. Paul (Ro^ ' 18 ) uses the
pre-natal oracle regarding Esau and his brother
(Gn 25' 2 ' 2 - 23 ) as an illustration of the principle of
Divine election. Before they were born, when
neither had any merit or demerit, the elder was
destined to serve the younger. As the prophet
Malachi (I' 2 - 3 ) has it, 'Jacob I loved, but Esau I
hated.' In both of the OT passages quoted there
Avas a reference not merely to the children but to
their descendants. The first part of the oracle
runs, ' Two nations are in thy womb, and two
peoples shall be separated from thy bowels'
(Gn 25 23 ) ; and the Prophet's words are, ' Was (or
'is,' RVm) not Esau Jacob's brother? saith the
Lord : yet I (have) loved Jacob ; but Esau (have) I
hated, and made his mountains a desolation, and
gave (given) his heritage to the jackals of the wilder-
ness. Whereas Edom saith,' etc. (Mai I 3 - 4 ).
St. Paul is engaged in proving that the Divine
promise has not failed though the majority of the
children of Abraham have been excluded (or have
excluded themselves by unbelief) from a share in
its fulfilment in Christ. His purpose is to sweep
away a narrow, particularistic doctrine of election,
according to which God's action ends in Israel, and
to replace it by a grand universalistic conception,
according to which the world, or all humanity, is
the end of the Divine action, and election itself
is controlled by an all-embracing purpose of love.
He accomplishes his purpose partly by a very
effective argumentum ad hominem. The Jews so
little understood the humbling principle of election,
which ascribes all the merit of salvation to God,
that they prided themselves on having been chosen,
while their neighbours, Ishmael and Edom, had
been rejected. Since Jacob in the prophetic
words which were so dear to them had been
loved and Esau hated, it was clear to them that
they were the objects of a peculiar Divine favour.
To turn the edge of this argument, St. Paul had
only to remind them that many of the rejected
e.g. Esau and all his descendants were children of
Abraham. If God could make a distinction in the
chosen family in former times, without being un-
true to His covenant, He might do so again. A
whole nation might lose its birthright like Esau.
(2) The writer of Hebrews (12 16 ) instances Esau
as a profane person, who for a single meal (ivrl
/3pt60-ewj fuas) sold his birthright. ' Profane ' (Pflr)\os),
when applied to things, means 'unconsecrated,'
' secular. The word occurs in the LXX of Lv 10 10 ,
' ye shall put difference between the holy and the
common (ru>v @epri\wv).' It was the fault of Esau,
who was not without admirable qualities, that he
made no such distinction. To him the most sacred
things were common, because he had no spiritual
discernment. He despised ' this birthright ' (Gn
25 32 ) as a thing of no worth. He did not despise
the blessing which had material advantages at-
tached to it, and he imagined he could retain it
even after he had sold the birthright. But the
poignant moment of disillusionment came, when
he realized that the blessing was gone beyond re-
call. His regrets were vain : ' he found no place
for repentance.' This signifies that there was no
means of undoing what he had done ; the past was
irreparable. JAMES STBAHAN.
I. THE EARLIEST CHRISTIAN ESCHATOLOQ7.
2. The Jewish background of ideas.
3. The new Christian message.
4. The chief doctrines of the Last Things.
6. Extent and importance of the apocalyptic element.
6. Relation to the teaching of our Lord.
7. Decline of the earliest type of Christian eschatology.
II. THE CHRISTIAN APOCALYPTIC LITERATURE.
1. Revelation of St. John.
2. Non-canonical Christian apocalypses.
III. THE JOUANXINE TYPE OF EARLY CHRISTIAN SSCSAT-
1. ' Spirituality ' of the teaching.
2. The place of the sacraments.
3. Later history of this type of eschatology.
IV. THE PAULINE TYPE OF EARLY CHRISTIAN ESCBATOLOOT.
1. Eschatology of St. Paul
2. Eschatology of early Gentile-Christian churches.
Scope of the article. Our subject is the eschat-
ology of the Apostolic Church down to A.D. 100.
By ' eschatology' we understand (1) the doctrine of
a certain series of events associated with the end of
this world-era and the beginning of another ; and
(2) the destiny of the individual human soul after
death. We shall deal first with the earliest type of
Christian eschatology, as it was taught by the first
disciples of our Lord, in the primitive Judaeo-
Christian communities ; and then we shall en-
deavour to trace the various lines along which this
primitive teaching was developed and modified.
1. THE EARLIEST CHRISTIAN ESCHATOLOGY.
1. The sources. In studying the characteristics
of the earliest Christian doctrine of the Last Things,
it seems not unreasonable (in view of the trend of
recent scholarship) to base our conclusions with
some confidence upon the Acts of the Apostles, as a
history ' which in most points, and those essential
points, stands the test of reliability' (Harnack,
The Acts of the Apostles, Eng. tr., 1909, p. 303).
The evidence from the speeches must, perhaps, be
used with a little more reserve, but even here
there appears to be a growing tendency to recog-
nize a real historical value. Evidence supplement-
ing that of Acts may be drawn from the Epistles of
the NT, particularly James, Hebrews, and 1 Peter,
all of which belong to a Judseo-Christian type of
thought, though somewhat later in date than the
earliest preaching recorded in Acts (see artt. on
JAMES, EP. OF ; HEBREWS, EP. TO ; PETER, EP. OF).
From these NT writings it is possible to gain a
fairly clear and definite conception of the earliest
2. The Jewish ' background of ideas.' The type
of thought reflected in these early Christian writ-
ings is thoroughly and distinctively Jewish. Es-
pecially is this the case in the earlier chapters of
Acts, where the ideas of Jewish apocalyptic form
the ' background ' of the preaching a background
so familiar that it never needs to be explained or
expounded in detail, but yet never allows itself to
be altogether forgotten. The men who preached
the earliest Christian doctrine of the Last Things
had for the most part been brought up in a religious
atmosphere impregnated with eschatological ideas.
The Judaism in which they were living was the
Judaism which produced apocalyptic writings such
as the Book of Jubilees, the Assumption of Moses,
the Apocalypse of Baruch, 4 Ezra, etc. ; and
they were accustomed to think and speak of their
religious hopes in the terms of Jewish apocalyptic.
Now, although the details of apocalyptic eschat-
ology vary from book to book (see e.g. R. H.
Charles in HDB i. 741-749), yet a few fixed points
stand out in every case, arranged according to a
scheme which had become almost stereotyped in the
apocalypses, and which is accepted as axiomatic in
the apostolic preaching. This scheme is as follows :
(1) the signs foreshadowing the end, (2) the Com-
ing of the Messiah, (3) the resurrection of the
dead, (4) the Last Judgment, (5) the inauguration of
the Kingdom of God. The NT passages in which
this ' eschatological scheme ' is implied axe too
numerous to be cited ; for typical examples, see
Ac 2 17 ' 36 3 20f - 4 2 10 42 IS 15 ' 18 17 31 , Ja 5 3 ' 9 , He 1 and 2,
! p 4 e. 7. w j i Th 4 and 5, 2 Th 2 1 ' 12 , etc. _
The comparative uniformity with which these
'fixed points' recur in the Jewish apocalyptic
eschatology may be traced in part to the Jewish
idea of predestination. The events were conceived
of as already fixed in the mind of God, and (in a
sense) already pre-existent in heaven ; so that the
Progress of history may be regarded as an ' apoca-
ypse' or unveiling of the Divine plan which is
even now ' ready to be revealed in the last times.'
It is necessary to realize this if we would under-
stand the force of the Judseo-Christian appeal to
the Old Testament. Modern writers generally hold
that the value of prophecy consists primarily in its
insight into spiritual truths, and only indirectly in
its foresight into the future ; but to the Jew, a co-
incidence between a prophetic prediction and a subse-
quent event was a signal proof of Divine inspiration,
for it showed that God had ' unveiled ' before the
vision of His prophet some detail of that future which
was already predestined and lying spread out before
His all-seeing eyes (cf. Ac l lfe 2 17 ' 34 3 18 - 23 4 20 - 28 II 28
13 32-4i 17 s. 11 18 28 26 22 '- etc., He 4 s Q 23 , and esp. 1 P
I 1 -").
But, while emphasizing the background of ideas
common to primitive Christianity and Jewish
apocalyptic, we must not ignore the distinctive-
ness 01 the former ; and this now claims our at-
3. The new Christian message. (1) The Messiah
has come, in the Person of Jesus. The belief
that Jesus of Nazareth was and is the Christ, and
that His life fulfilled the Scriptural prophecies, is
the central truth of the apostolic preaching (Ac
2 36 322 542 17 2t j Ja 2 i, He 1, 1 P S 22 4 5 , etc.). In the
Jewish apocalypses, two Messianic ideals are mani-
fested. On the one hand, there was the old pro-
phetic expectation of a warrior-king of David's
line, raised up from among God's people to rule
them in righteousness and truth (Pss.-Sol. xvii.
23-51, etc.). On the other hand, there was the
purely apocalyptic conception of a heavenly Being
descending, like Daniel's Son of Man, from the
clouds of heaven, endowed with supernatural
powers, and presiding as God's viceroy at the
Great Judgment. It is to be noticed that the NT
conception of our Lord's Messiahship, while higher
than any previously set forth, is much more nearly
related to the Danielic ' Son of Man ' than to the
political type of Messiah (Ac 3 21 , 1 Th 4 16 , 2 Th I 7 ,
etc.). Now, if Jesus was the Messiah, then, since
He had actually come, and had been rejected by
His people, several consequences seemed (to Jew-
ish minds) to follow inevitably, viz. :
(2) The Last Days are now in progress. In
Jewish apocalyptic, the coming of the Messiah is
invariably associated with the end of this world
and the beginning of the New Era. So, when the
apostles proclaimed that the Messiah had come,
they thereby conveyed to their Jewish hearers the
impression that the Last Days had also come
not merely that they were at hand, but that they
had actually begun and were in progress. And in
fact this belief is implied in many NT passages,
the full meaning of which often escapes the notice
of the casual reader, who is full of modern ideas.
But if once this eschatological outlook is realized,
the early narratives of Acts are filled with new
meaning. In particular, it will be noticed that
the 'appeals to prophecy,' which occur so fre-
quently in Acts, are often connected with the de-
sire to prove that the Last Days have at length
come ; e.g. the outpouring of the Spirit at Pente-
cost is hailed by St. Peter as the fulfilment of
Joel's prophecy, which expressly referred to ' the
Last Days ' (Ac 2 16 ' 33 ; cf. Jl 2 28 - 3:i ). His argument
is that, since the prophecy has been fulfilled, it
follows that the ' Last Days ' foretold therein must
have come. Similarly, the charismata, and the
gifts of healing and of tongues, which were pre-
valent in the early Church, lent themselves readily
to the view that they were a part of the miraculous
' signs of the end ' foretold by prophets and apoca-
lyptists (Ac gt 4 80ff - 5 12 - 1 * 16 18 19 8 21 9 ). Again,
the Death, Resurrection, and Ascension of our
Lord were proclaimed by the apostles, not merely
as interesting historical events, but as part of the
miraculous portents which were to form the ' birth-
pangs of the Kingdom of God' (Ac 2 24 - 36 3 14 " 26 26 8 ).
All these things combined to deepen in the minds
of the first disciples of our Lord the conviction
that 'it was the last hour.'
(3) The Messiah is immediately to return as
Judge. Jesus, the Messiah, has been rejected by
His people, but there remains yet another act in
the great drama of the Last Things. His life on
earth has fulfilled some of the Messianic pro-
phecies ; but others (e.g. Daniel's vision of the Son
of Man) are still awaiting fulfilment. So the
Messiah is about to come again immediately in
glory on the clouds of heaven to judge all man-
kind (Ac 1" 10 42 17 31 24 2 , Ja 5 8 - 9 , 1 P 4 5 ) and to
destroy the apostate city of Jerusalem and the in-
habitants thereof (Ac 6 14 ). Thus the apostolic
preaching was in part a stern denunciation and a
warning of judgment to come. But it did not end
(4) God is granting one more opportunity.
Herein lay the 'good tidings' of the apostolic
preaching. Although the Jews had incurred the
severest penalties of the Divine judgment by cruci-
fying the Messiah (Ac 3 14f -), yet another opportun-
ity is being offered, by which all men may escape
' the wrath to come,' and receive the Divine for-